December 20, 2012                 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS               Vol. XLVII No. 72


The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): Order, please!

Admit strangers.

Statements by Members.

Statements by Ministers.

Oral Questions.

Oral Questions

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Official Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 61 includes an extensive definition of the Muskrat Falls Project. It describes a hydro plant, transmission lines and Emera's Maritime Link. It even describes any associated upgrades to the bulk energy system in the Province, but it does not mention anything about decommissioning the Holyrood Thermal Station.

I ask the Premier: Since shutting down Holyrood has been part of your justification for Muskrat Falls, why is the commitment not included in the extensive definition of the project?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Nalcor was clear at the Decision Gate 2 phase that they felt the two most viable options for the supply of needed power on the Island portion of the Province especially would be either Muskrat Falls or the Isolated Island Holyrood refurbished plan. Essentially, Muskrat Falls includes the Muskrat Falls Generating Station, the Labrador Transmission Asset, which is the line from Muskrat Falls to Churchill Falls. It includes the Labrador-Island Link and of course then the Maritime Link which would be built from Granite Canal to Nova Scotia.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Mr. Speaker, the question was about decommissioning of the Holyrood generation plant. It was not included in this.

The question is: Will you now confirm a date to decommission Holyrood?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, discussions with Nalcor have been around when obviously the Holyrood plant can be decommissioned. We know in 2017, Muskrat Falls will be in use and that power will be produced; however, it is my understanding that for a period of time Holyrood will have to be kept, not in use but if needed when available. My understanding is around 2020, 2021 Holyrood will be decommissioned. I will have to check on that to be accurate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: In the definition of the Muskrat Falls in Bill 61, the Premier included arrangements with Aboriginal peoples, decommissioning of the dam and other activities that Cabinet sees fit but makes no specific mention of shutting down Holyrood.

I ask the Premier: Will you now amend this legislation to enshrine the commitment to shut down the Holyrood Generating Station?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, let us come back to the basic reasons that Muskrat Falls is being developed or the Isolated Island is looked at. There is an increased demand for power on the Island. We also have a situation where as a result of the industrial or mining developments in Labrador there will be an increased need for power. Holyrood is not part of the Muskrat Falls Project. It is a significant factor environmentally as to why we feel that Muskrat Falls is a much better project, but essentially, on an economic basis, Muskrat Falls stands on its own, and then Isolated Island Holyrood refurbished are two totally separate projects.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Mr. Speaker, we know that Holyrood has been a significant part of the conversation on this and what we are obviously looking for is a commitment to see the actual date on that.

Mr. Speaker, government will expropriate land, cabins, houses along a stretch of Churchill Falls to St. John's and Granite Canal to Cape Ray. If people fight against this, they can appeal to a panel appointed by Cabinet.

I ask the Premier: Will this panel be independent, or will it be like the Nalcor board which indeed are political appointments?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we clearly outlined in the proposed legislation that there would be an independent panel of arbitrators appointed. Obviously what we want to see, as in any expropriation, is that there is fair compensation for the person who is affected. Properties are expropriated all the time when we build highways, when other projects occur. So, the independent board of arbitrators, as to who they are going to be at present, I do not know.

We all have the same goal here: to ensure that people are fairly compensated – now fairly compensated means exactly that and it is not meant to be a windfall.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As part of the Muskrat Falls legislation, government is entrenching Nalcor as an energy monopoly on the Island portion of the Province for fifty years. There will be no new generation allowed for any commercial or industrial consumers of electricity.

I ask the Premier: Why are you denying free and open energy markets, something you have argued for in the past?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the two principles are not related. We have in this Province already, people who have generation capacity; Corner Brook Pulp and Paper is one. Once we get connected to the international grid, they will have the same rights under FERC to apply for transmission rights, and that will occur under the rules that exist today.

When we introduced our Energy Plan in 2007, Mr. Speaker, we said that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians were going to be masters of their own destiny. That they were going to be in control of their energy resources. The Opposition talks about Nalcor like it is some multinational company under which we have no control. Nalcor is owned by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker; they own the resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Well, of course, we know who owns Nalcor, and we know about Nalcor, but we also know there is legislation in place that is actually going to restrict the access to that open energy market that we talked about for fifty years.

Mr. Speaker, government is denying the people of the Province the opportunity to avail of any future technologies for their energy needs. They are tying us all to Muskrat power for fifty years.

I ask the Premier: Why are you closing shop and restricting energy innovation access for fifty years for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, hydroelectricity is the cheapest form of energy generation in the world. It is an old technology, a proven technology, a reliable technology, the science is already done. In every other technology that we consider, it is always more expensive than hydropower. A basic search of Google will tell you that, never mind all of the experts that we have called in to give their views on this piece, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, what we have said is the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, through Nalcor, will determine what kind of partnerships that we will have in this Province in terms of energy development. Mr. Speaker, we already have two wind projects in this Province that are controlled by independents.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Well, the Premier must know that if we look back at fifty years there are a lot of things that we did not know about fifty years ago. A typewriter, for instance, is what we used, today we are using computers. Common sense will tell us that lots of things change in fifty year.

The North American Free Trade Agreement, of which we are part of, has rules and regulations around monopolies.

I ask the Premier: Given your less than stellar record on the interpretation of NAFTA rules, will Bill 61 expose us to another NAFTA challenge?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

No, Mr. Speaker, it will not expose us to another NAFTA challenge. Mr. Speaker, we have ensured that we understand this inside and out.

Mr. Speaker, tidal energy, for example, is something that has been talked about for a very, very long time. Nova Scotia is particularly interested in tidal technology. That is the next piece of technology – after wind – that seems the most viable. Mr. Speaker, we have been years and years and years, and still the technology is not advanced enough to make it commercially viable.

We are going to have an energy deficit in 2017, Mr. Speaker. What are they suggesting that we stay in the dark for twenty years until 2041, Mr. Speaker, or are they suggesting that we turn off Muskrat Falls in 2025 or 2030 when new technology is developed?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BALL: I am not so sure that the Premier connected the dots there. What I asked was: Did you check with NAFTA to see if it would open us to another court challenge?

As a matter of fact, Premier, I think you just made an argument why looking forward to fifty years, you mentioned tidal energy and the impact that could have; yet, you do not want to hear talk about that for the next fifty years.

Mr. Speaker, Bill 61 forbids other utilities from selling energy into this Province, but part of the Muskrat Falls scheme is to sell our power into Nova Scotia and the Northeastern US. Since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the US has reciprocity conditions in their regulations, will Bill 61 prevent Nalcor from selling Muskrat power into the US?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, one of the great difficulties we have in this country is that we do not have an east-west grid. We do not have regulation in Canada like the federal energy regulator has in the United States. Our challenges with working with Quebec would have been resolved a long time ago if we had that kind of regulation in this country.

Mr. Speaker, if we have commercial arrangements in the United States, we will be required to provide reciprocity. We will pay our way to get there, we will agree to the rules, and we will follow the rules. Mr. Speaker, all we have ever asked for in this country is a level playing field, a way to get into the market and then we will make our own way.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The President of Nunatsiavut Government says their concerns are still being ignored by government. The Premier gave a false impression that Nunatsiavut was satisfied with the Muskrat Falls Project during the sanctioning announcement.

I ask the Premier: Why did you give the impression that Nunatsiavut was supportive of the project as sanctioned when that is clearly false?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I learned today that NTV is going to run again the whole sanction event 6:00 o'clock Saturday evening on the news, a special program, and I encourage members of the Opposition to watch it. Other than welcome Minister Danny Pottle to the ceremony – and we were happy to see him there, and he indicated he was very happy to be there – I made no mention of anybody supporting Muskrat Falls from Nunatsiavut. I did not, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we have collaboration. We have consultation. Mr. Speaker, sometimes we agree. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree, but we always talk. That is the one thing I have always said to President Leo: We are always prepared to have the conversation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Nunatsiavut Government said that the Premier has failed to accept their rights and titles.

I ask the Premier, as the Nunatsiavut Government has said: Why are you not prepared to honour the spirit of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, once Aboriginal rights are established in this country, there is no other option than to honour them. We cannot erase Aboriginal rights and this government has a history of respecting Aboriginal rights, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, after over thirty years of trying and two attempts by Liberal governments to develop the Lower Churchill without input from the Innu Nation or Nunatsiavut, Mr. Speaker – to do it without them – Lower Churchill is squarely in Innu Lands. They did not even try to do a lands claim with them before they were going to push ahead with the development. That is not the way that this government operates, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The NunatuKavut Community Council has asked government to consult with them on the Muskrat Falls Project. In fact, Mr. Speaker, they have even gone to the courts, yet the only thing the government has done is arrest the NunatuKavut elders for walking on their own land, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the Premier: Why aren't you open to dealing with the legitimate concerns being raised by the Aboriginal groups around this project in Labrador?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we take our responsibility, our obligation to consult, very, very seriously. We have engaged with NunatuKavut since we came to government in 2003.

We do not always agree, Mr. Speaker. They act like they have an established claim within this country. They do not. That is a process that they have to follow through with the federal government. Once the federal government acknowledges their Aboriginal claim, we will offer it, Mr. Speaker, but we do have to consult and we absolutely respect that. In fact, Mr. Speaker, we provided tens of thousands of dollars to them so that they could be well prepared to present to the environmental assessment panel.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We know the government opposite's idea of consultation is court orders and big fences on Muskrat Falls, Mr. Speaker.

Anyway, on Monday while the Premier was throwing a tea party to sanction Muskrat Falls in the lobby of Confederation Building, children in the Labrador Straits had to go across the border to Quebec to play hockey. They could not play hockey in their own community because the hydro bill was too high to put ice in their rink.

I ask the Premier: Is this right that the power, the transmission lines of Muskrat Falls should pass over the heads of children in Labrador and go elsewhere, when they have to go across the border to skate because they cannot afford their hydro bills to keep the arena open?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the way that utilities are arranged in this Province and the way that we generate electricity and pay for that electricity states that the users of the electricity have to pay for it. The reason why lines are not going all over Labrador is because, by the time you have them all built, Mr. Speaker, and you have to charge back to the ratepayer the cost of that, they would not be able to pay their light bills. They would not be able to turn on the lights at all. It is unfortunate. It is not only in Labrador; there are a lot of children all over this Province who do not have arenas in their community, Mr. Speaker.

What we will not do though is use the Liberal model of government and fiscal management. She said last night her advice to them was turn on the electricity, put the ice on, and you will figure out how to pay for it after. That is how they nearly bankrupted this government, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That sounds a lot like the Premier's approach to the Muskrat Falls Project, Mr. Speaker: do not put in the cost overruns; do not tell anyone what we are doing. Just go do it, we will figure it out after. If we cannot figure out how to pay for it, we will charge the ratepayers of the Province, Mr. Speaker. That is her solution, I say to her, not mine.

I ask the Premier today: What is her commitment to the people in Labrador, to these children who today have to skate on the ice rinks of Quebec because they cannot afford the power in their own communities?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I talked about this last night. Somehow or other the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair does not feel that the Innu are Labradorians. She talks about Innu when she talks about them and then she talks about Labradorians. It is a terrible thing, Mr. Speaker.

The most benefits coming out of the development of Muskrat Falls go first of all to the Innu of Labrador, Mr. Speaker – enormous benefits, not only from Muskrat Falls but redress on the Upper Churchill, righting a wrong that we could do at least for the Innu people something that has not happened for the rest of the Province, Mr. Speaker. Opportunities to develop IBAs, to form partnerships with other people in Labrador and on this Island, and then benefits go next to all of the people in Labrador and to the mining companies, because they will be able to develop.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The monopoly created by Bill 61 for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro ensures that the people of the Province will be tied to Muskrat Falls for fifty years. To put it in perspective, today's first-year students will be retired from the workforce by the time there are any other options for consumers.

I ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker: Why was government so eager to create barriers to competition?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the Minister of Finance, wondered aloud in this House last week how the world had become so skewed that we have the Leader of the NDP talking about a state-owned energy company that holds the resources of the people of the Province to develop to their benefit, and instead argues for private enterprise. Mr. Speaker, the world has gone nine ways to Sunday in this place.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what is it that she suggests? Is she aware of some technology that is on the cusp of development, Mr. Speaker, that is more advanced or more viable and cheaper and more sustainable than hydro power? Because the fact that she thinks there might be, Mr. Speaker, does not make it a fact. If she knows something, share it with us.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

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

We just spent two days, two full legislative days in this House putting out ideas that they will not listen to. Mr. Speaker, the government created Bill 61 to protect Nalcor from project failure, from new and competitive technologies that are being developed, and who knows what else.

Mr. Speaker, now I am asking the Premier: What is this government planning to do to protect the ratepayer, the people of this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Third Party said, and who knows what else. Well, I can guarantee you that she does not know, Mr. Speaker. Because we have an energy company in Nalcor whose mandate is to explore all of these options, Mr. Speaker. We have energy ministers who meet together across this country on a regular basis.

Mr. Speaker, we understand what is happening in terms of technology and energy development. Mr. Speaker, the cheapest, most sustainable answer to our energy needs is Muskrat Falls. When it is paid off in thirty-five years, or forty years, or fifty years, it will be virtually free.

It is interesting that all of the arguments she makes today, Mr. Speaker, were made against Bay d'Espoir when it was being developed, and we can reference all of those treaties for you. Bay d'Espoir, we own it today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Leader of the Third Party.

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

It may interest the Premier to know that they have discovered now in Manitoba that their wind power is cheaper than their hydroelectricity. Mr. Speaker, we know that the UARB in Nova Scotia will be looking at the discussion between Nova Scotia and Quebec Hydro concerning building power lines through New Brunswick to provide Nova Scotia with electricity.

One of the things the UARB will be looking at is both the cost and the reliability of the transmission of power from Quebec to Nova Scotia. The power that will be going into the Maritime Link will be coming all the way from Muskrat Falls over the Long Range Mountains before it reaches the Gulf.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: Isn't she concerned that the UARB will rule that the power from Quebec is cheaper and more reliable?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, sometimes negotiations take a very, very long time because you have to imagine every scenario that might occur even though you do not expect it to. You have to imagine what might occur, the worst – you have to take all the examples of the NDP and the Liberals and put them together and say what if all of this happens? If it does happen what is the remedy, and devise the remedy now. You never want to wait until it might happen and then try to find a solution.

That is why negotiations take so long. That is why our negotiations are so good, Mr. Speaker, they are so positive. Mr. Speaker, what we have done in our negotiation is ensure, regardless of what the UARB decides, that we have protected the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and we have secured our loan guarantee.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier is tying the people of this Province to fifty years of an enormous debt.

Mr. Speaker, when Nalcor gave us a briefing on Tuesday morning with regard to the Muskrat Falls sanction agreement signed between Nalcor and Emera, an official with Nalcor said that on their own Emera would not have sanctioned until after the Nova Scotia UARB decision.

I ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker: What did she give up in order to get Emera to sign the sanction agreement for her timeline?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we do not give up. We negotiate, Mr. Speaker, and we ensure that we protect the interests of the people of this Province. Of all of the viable options that are available to the people of the Province today, the difference between Muskrat Falls and the next viable option is $2.4 billion, Mr. Speaker, $2.4 billion.

She has some kind of a crystal ball that is still a little bit cloudy now, Mr. Speaker. She thinks there is going to be a cheaper technology come somewhere in the future in the next fifty years, but she does not know what it is. She just thinks it is going to happen; therefore, we should not do Muskrat Falls. I do not know exactly what we are supposed to do, Mr. Speaker, other than let people sit in the dark if her predictions are wrong.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. KIRBY: Mr. Speaker, Newfoundland and Labrador lacks skilled workers in key areas and the problem is getting worse and worse. ExxonMobil recently decided not to build a third module here citing this problem, and Vale has said the cost of the Long Harbour project will jump by hundreds of millions of dollars because of the same issue.

I ask the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills: What has been done to ensure these labour supply pressures do not cause the Muskrat Falls Project to balloon out of control any further?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SHEA: Mr. Speaker, with regard to the Hebron Project and the portion of the work that will not be done in Newfoundland and Labrador, this government under the leadership of the Premier have negotiated a deal that sees a settlement for this Province. From that money, Mr. Speaker, we will undertake many projects that will produce as much or more labour and benefits for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, we are doing what we can to develop industry and to ensure the future and this Province is economically viable. We will take as many as steps as necessary to ensure the people of this Province are in a position to reap the benefits from the decisions of this government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It was only last year this Premier was not so eager to keep people working in this Province. If you recall, she let a $30 billion shipbuilding project go that could have lasted thirty-five years. She let that slip away from the people of the Burin Peninsula and the Province.

Mr. Speaker, why does this Premier think the Muskrat Falls Project – about four years – will be any different from other projects in bringing people home on a permanent basis?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it is amazing to me. Not only do we control everything that government has, like Crown corporations and stuff, but now we are in charge of private industry, too. It is nothing short of amazing.

Again, it takes us back to our power in negotiations, Mr. Speaker – our power in negotiations. There was nobody any more surprised than the government when Kiewit suddenly decided not to bid for the DES. The value of that project was around $100 million. Because of our negotiations and because we had anticipated worst-case scenarios and remedies, Mr. Speaker, the people of this Province got $150 million because of that decision by Kiewit.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Minister of Natural Resources, on December 17, stated in a release: The Muskrat Falls Project will generate estimated revenues in excess of $20 billion over fifty years once it comes on stream.

Mr. Speaker, the Joint Panel Review noted Nalcor in its cash flow analysis and financial statements showed the projected annual net financial benefit to the Province in the order of $1.1 billion by 2050.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister of Natural Resources: Will you confirm the Province is only going to net $1.1 billion in financial benefits by 2050?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the analysis provided by Nalcor shows that out of the Muskrat Falls Project, revenue stream will come in that will cover their operating costs, it will cover their financial costs which is guaranteed by the Government of Canada at very low rates, and then they will pay a dividend to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador of in excess of $20 billion, starting in 2017 for the life of the project. If we were to include estimates of sales of surplus power into the American markets, it would be over $24 billion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, government has promised that thousands of jobs will be developed with the construction of the Muskrat Falls Project and its subsidiaries. Many of these jobs will be in the Happy Valley-Goose Bay area. We have heard that work camps will be built, but not everybody will be living in these work camps.


Mr. Speaker, with the current very real housing crisis in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and with escalating housing prices and rent prices and zero per cent vacancy rates, I ask the minister: What is his government going to do to concretely address this rapidly worsening housing crisis?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MCGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This government is very much aware of the housing crisis, not just in Labrador, Central Labrador, Western Labrador but the whole Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I will stick to the Labrador issues to answer the question from the member opposite.

We just announced a few months ago a $1.3 million project happening in Western Labrador for low-income housing: twelve units. We have a new subdivision opening in Labrador West. Part of the subdivision, part of the permit agreement, was that there would be affordable housing within that subdivision: thirty-six units, Mr. Speaker. That is happening in Central Labrador also.

We have an announcement coming up, and I do not want to spill the beans for an announcement in Central Labrador.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

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

Borrowing the down payment for a mortgage is never a sound financial decision. A responsible financial advisor would recommend to anyone buying a home: if they do not have the down payment, they should wait.

MR. SPEAKER: I remind the member to get to her question quickly.

MS MICHAEL: The Minister of Finance says he is going to borrow its down payment for Muskrat Falls and I want to know how he could consider that as sound fiscal management, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance for a quick response.

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, the proponents of Muskrat Falls will borrow the debt. The Province will make an equity contribution. We will finance our contribution out of cash flow or out of debt, depending on the financial circumstances at the time of (inaudible).

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.

Notices of Motion.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that under Standing Order 11, I shall move that this House not adjourn at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, December 24, 2012.

Further, I give notice that under Standing Order 11, I shall move that this House not adjourn at 10:00 p.m. on Monday, December 24, 2012.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's South, under notices of motion?

MR. OSBORNE: Under notices of motion, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Under notices of motion?

MR. OSBORNE: Yes.

Mr. Speaker, I read a notice of motion for a private member's resolution:

WHEREAS other provinces make use of standing and special committees in their Legislatures, which meet regularly; and

WHEREAS the House of Commons uses standing and special committees, which meet regularly; and

WHEREAS the use of standing and special committees would provide greater oversight on proposed legislation; and

WHEREAS standing and special committee meetings in other jurisdictions are open to the public and are televised, promoting greater accountability; and –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. OSBORNE: WHEREAS standing and special committees in other jurisdictions have the ability to call witnesses; and

WHEREAS standing and special committees in other Canadian jurisdictions allow public hearings; and

WHEREAS standing and special committees in other jurisdictions have the ability to probe into issues of importance to the general public;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this House endorse the use of all-party standing and select committees in the Legislature of Newfoundland.

This is seconded by the Member for Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi and the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Petitions.

Orders of the Day.

Orders of the Day

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

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 this House not adjourn at 5:30 p.m. today, Thursday, December 20, 2012.

Further, Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills, Motion 5, pursuant to Standing Order 11, that the House not adjourn at 10:00 p.m. today, Thursday, December 20, 2012.

MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved and seconded that pursuant to Standing Order 11 the House not adjourn at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 20, 2012, and further pursuant to Standing Order 11, that the House not adjourn at 10:00 o'clock p.m. on Thursday, December 20, 2012.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Motion carried.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader on a point of order.

MR. KING: I ask for your direction on a point of order. It is my understanding the private member's motion just introduced a few moments ago was seconded by a member not currently present in the House. I ask for your ruling on that.

MR. SPEAKER: I cannot recall what the records indicated. The motion was made. I will have to check with the Table to determine who seconded the motion and I will make a comment later after I had a chance to do that with respect to the motion that is on the Table.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) ‘thirder'.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's South rising on the point of order.

MR. OSBORNE: Yes, Mr. Speaker, there was a seconder and a ‘thirder'. The private member's resolution was seconded by the Member for –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. OSBORNE: The private member's resolution is seconded by the Member for Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi.

MR. SPEAKER: I am sorry. You are speaking to the point of order. The notice of motion portion of the agenda has been dealt with and concluded. We are now responding to a point of order raised by the Government House Leader. If you are speaking to the point of order, I acknowledge your comment. With respect to the notice of motion, that part of the agenda is now concluded.

I will check with the records to determine whether the mover or seconder was present in the House at the time and make a comment to the House later this afternoon.

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 the House resolve itself in to a Committee of the Whole to consider Bill 60, An Act Respecting The Use And Expropriation Of Land For The Purpose Of The Muskrat Falls Project, as well as Bill 61, Order 3, Committee of the Whole, An Act To Amend The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, The Energy Corporation Act and The Hydro Corporation Act, 2007.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that I do now leave the Chair for the House to resolve itself into Committee of the Whole to consider Bill 60 and Bill 61.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Motion carried.

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

Committee of the Whole

CHAIR (Cross): Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

We have referred two bills to the committee for discussion. It is Bill 61 that we would call first, if that is in order.

CHAIR: Okay. I call Bill 61.

The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to continue where I left off before lunch, where we were discussing the various reports that have been done. Myself and the Member for St. John's East had a very good discussion on natural gas. I do not think we are probably any further ahead towards agreeing, but I will put our experts up against his.

Mr. Chair, I am going to talk a little bit now about a couple of things. I talked about the sensitivity analysis earlier today, and when I had discussed about our meetings with PIRA, and I had discussed our meetings with Wood Mackenzie in London where we talked about the price of oil. I want to come back to how and why Nalcor were right in their excluding at Decision Gate 2 all of the other alternatives except for Isolated Island and Muskrat Falls.

Earlier today I outlined the CPW, or Cumulative Present Worth chart. I talked about Muskrat Falls being at $8.4 billion, Mr. Chair, Isolated Island at $10.8 billion, Liquefied Natural Gas being anywhere from $10.7 billion to $11.2 billion. We then moved up into the standalone facilities, which ranged from – the pipeline – $12 billion to $15 billion, and then we got as high as wind at $17 billion. I am going to come back to that report shortly.

When I talked about the price of oil we had some discussion as to the difference in the prediction of short-term pricing versus long-term pricing, with short-term being notoriously volatile, having regard to what can occur in the Middle East on any given day, Mr. Chair. There does not appear to be any real rhyme or reason as to why it would go up $1 versus $2 over a period of time. However, in the long term the fundamental principles of supply and demand still apply.

I want to look at the CPW Sensitivity Analysis that was performed by Manitoba Hydro which is at page 72 of the Manitoba Hydro International report. When you look at the report, Mr. Chair, I said I would come back. I told the Member for St. John's East I would come back and we would talk about the prices of oil and we would look at how it worked into the Sensitivity Analysis.

We start out, Mr. Chair, with the Interconnected Isolated Island with the base case being $104 for a barrel of oil at 8.366 or 8.44 getting up to the Isolated Island at 10.778. That leads to Muskrat Falls being $2.4 billion cheaper in terms of a CPW analysis. We now have three prices of fuel that we are looking at. We have the PIRA fuel price expected, which is $112. That could be a little bit high based on today's – or the last analysis I saw, Mr. Chair, it was around $109 I think they were predicting for the year. For our purposes, it is illustrative of the principle that is applied and employed.

If you use $112 or the expected PIRA, we are still at our $8.4 billion for the Interconnected but Isolated Island, now there is a $3 billion difference. This is where though, Mr. Chair, we get to a crucial one and this is the one that I think becomes very important from our perspective in analyzing Muskrat Falls, and that is PIRA low. They are trying to come up with all of the scenarios.

The PIRA low price that was used in the MHI Sensitivity Analysis, to the best of my knowledge, Mr. Chair, was around $61. That is why I have talked somewhat extensively in my last meetings with PIRA and in Wood Mackenzie on the possibility of oil going to $70 a barrel.

We have talked about the shale oil developments in the Bakken fields in North Dakota and how it is having a significant impact on the ability of the Americans to become self-sufficient. We have talked, Mr. Chair, about China and growth in China. How that 5 per cent growth could lead them to the point where – and they are currently at approximately 7.5 per cent, 8 per cent – in 2030 they will be using as much oil as the Americans. Those 90 million barrels a day, which is currently used, Mr. Chair, is expected to go to 105 million to 110 million barrels. The risk for us in terms of Muskrat Falls and the CPW analysis is taken into account when you get to PIRA low.

We know, Mr. Chair, the development of the shale oil field in the Bakken are currently $50 to $65 to $70. That is a good indication that we do not expect prices to go below that because if they do – and I am going to come back later today and talk about the Harvard report that was referred to by the Member for St. John's East. If they go below that, people will stop developing.

Oil companies are in it to make money, like private companies who have shareholders, who have boards who are deciding where to spend the money. We know that the oil sands can – and this is one of the issues with the developments in North Dakota and the effect on the oil sands is the $85 per barrel which it is costing to develop at the oil sands.

The PIRA low is $61. I think that the Member for St. John's East will probably agree with me that it is a pretty conservative figure. The chances of going to $60 are not that great, based on what the analysts tell us today. In the sensitivity analysis, when you use that $61 a barrel of oil, then there is still a half billion-dollar CPW preference for Muskrat Falls. Now, that is purely economic. That is not taking into account all of the other economic benefits, Mr. Chair, that come with Muskrat Falls. That is not taking into account the very significant environmental advantage of closing Holyrood, Mr. Chair.

Now the members opposite today talked about: Well, with Muskrat Falls there will be overruns; it is going to go up. I think that same principle will apply to any major project today. Whether you refurbish Holyrood, whether you build natural gas, whether you use wind, you are still going to run into overruns. The question is: How do you minimize the overruns? Can you eliminate them? I cannot say that at present, Mr. Chair, but what you try to do is to identify, assess, while not eliminating, minimize. Now, $60 a barrel puts us at a half billion-dollar CPW preference.

Let's increase the capital expenditure by 10 per cent. We still have a $2.1 billion preference. Increase the capex by 25 per cent; we have a $1.7 billion CPW preference. Increase our interest rate by fifty base points or a half per cent; we have a $2.25 billion preference. Increase it by 1 per cent, $2.09 billion preference. Decrease it by twenty-five base points; we have a $2.486 billion preference.

Now – and this is the kicker because even though it is put in the sensitivity analysis and it is not in the base case, but if you look at carbon pricing – which I think it is fairly safe to say at some point in this country we are going to see it. I talked about it today in my meetings in Europe, in London – again, I am trying to do this by memory but I think it was seven Euros per ton that it was currently at and they figured that it had to be at thirty-five Euros per ton. Their Euro, Mr. Chair, it could be around $1.40 to $1.70. I think it fluctuates. It could be lower. It could be $1.20 now. These are significant numbers per ton.

So, even with carbon pricing, you put in some carbon pricing, we have a $2.99 billion or $3 billion preference. The purpose of the sensitivity analysis, Mr. Chair, is to show people that MHI did not simply take this one figure and say: Look at this; Muskrat Falls wins. What they did is they engaged in different scenarios that could evolve. Have they envisaged all of the scenarios that could evolve, Mr. Chair? No, that would be very difficult, but the same principles on overruns have to apply to all projects. The same principles on interest rates will apply to all projects. So, it is not enough to say that Muskrat Falls will have an overrun but the other projects will remain static. That is not the way the world works.

What we are seeing is a situation where, with Muskrat Falls, the element of stability comes from the fact that once you build a project, your capital expenditure up front, you have your project, you know where it is going. The difficulty with Isolated Island is that volatility will be continuously tied to the volatility of fossil fuels. Mr. Chair, we do not know – we have had experts who have predicted $200 oil for a number of years. We have had experts who have been talking for years about peak oil. Well, Sir, we are not at peak oil any more with the shale oil plays in the United States right now, producing up to – I think Dr. Schwartz indicated it could up to 5 million or 6 million barrels a day by 2020.

So what we have is a situation where Manitoba Hydro, in an attempt to look at various scenarios and outline for a discussion how these scenarios would affect Muskrat Falls versus Isolated Island. At the end of the day, the closest you can get to Holyrood and Muskrat Falls is a half billion dollars. Now, you take into account all of the other economic and environmental benefits, Mr. Chair, and Muskrat Falls clearly becomes the preferred project.

Now, in my last twenty seconds, being co-operative today, like I am trying to be, the Member for St. John's North asked me a question on the cost of energy in Norway. I have it here somewhere, but I think the answer was around six or seven cents in urban, thirteen cents in rural, 2.9 cents industrial, but I will check that and get it in my next time round.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair recognizes the Member for Bay of Islands.

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Once again I stand in this House today after our little dinner break so they can probably get Christmas dinner ready here for the House. If you want to talk about pressure, I can see how a lot of people in Newfoundland and Labrador feel trying to rush everything through on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. That is fine. That is the government's prerogative. In the Christmas spirit, they want to make sure they give them a good Boxing sale. That is all it is. It is like a sale, Mr. Chair. We do not know what it is going to be. We do not know what is going to happen. We do not know what, but we will just go up and say there is a sale. That is what this sounds like.

Mr. Chair, I spoke about this a couple of times already. The people who I represent are asking me on a regular basis. It is almost like the hospital in Corner Brook. I will keep asking, asking, and asking until I get the answer, Mr. Chair. I have been asking six years now about the hospital in Corner Brook and I still have not gotten any answers. So I will ask again on this question I have asked three or four times in this debate.

We heard today the minister again stand up, that over fifty years there is going to be in excess of $20 billion, and with US sales it is possibly up to $24 billion. I just want to let the people of Newfoundland and Labrador – it is my fourth time or fifth time, and I am not sure which, that I have asked. If you know how much profit we are going to make by 2017, let us have the charts. Let us have the flow sheet. Let us produce it.

I find it strange, Mr. Chair, the Minister of Finance could stand up in this House, haul this figure out of the air, and say: here is what we are going to make in 2017, and we are going to make X number, hundreds of millions, or millions of dollars, or whatever. It might change every day. Yet when we as the Opposition are asking questions for the people we represent and say show us on paper, show us each year what the expenses and income are, they cannot do it. They cannot or will not. I am not sure which. I do not think they can, Mr. Chair. I definitely do not think they can.

As I said earlier today, Mr. Chair, I have asked the government. I am sure there are a lot of people watching now because of Question Period. I asked the government – when they sanctioned this project or before they sanctioned this project, they got Nalcor to put up this clock, a rate calculator, on their Web site. The rate calculator says: okay, punch in your rate now, and in 2017 here is what it is going to be, and in 2020 here is what it is going to be. A lot of people said: by God, that is not too bad. That looks pretty good.

I asked the government today and I will ask again so everybody in the audience here today who is listening can know I asked: if the government is ordering Nalcor – which the government is the boss, they say – that this rate calculator for all the people in Newfoundland and Labrador is set, here is what you are going to get, given the expectations of people so they can plan. We hear this government say on many occasions that we need to make plans, so people can plan their budgets down the road, how big of a house am I going to need: shall I downsize? Is it okay if I get a larger house?

I ask the government, I ask all members opposite to legislate the rates on that rate calculator today. Legislate the rates. They just cannot do it, Mr. Chair. They cannot legislate those rates. You know why? They do not know what the rates are going to be. They just do not know. It is impossible to know what the rates are going to be.

Under this federal loan guarantee they need a guaranteed source of income. The only source of income admitted by this government will be the ratepayers of this Province who are paying 100 per cent for the total project but yet only receiving 40 per cent of the benefit.

Now, what do you think of that, Mr. Chair? If you were buying a house and you were paying for the full house but you could only use 40 per cent of it – you could only use 40 per cent of it.

Instead of, Mr. Chair, if any of us here – and I am sure there are some people here who do have some rental units – instead of saying: okay, I will buy the house. I am only going to use 40 per cent. The other 60 per cent that I can rent out is going towards my mortgage that I am paying 100 per cent for; isn't that reasonable? Isn't that just reasonable? Isn't that logical for people to say, well, if we are paying 100 per cent, 60 per cent is being sold or even 40 per cent is being sold, shouldn't that be put back towards the people who are paying for the whole project? Absolutely, but yet this government refuses to do it.

This government refuses to pass on an income revenue statement, Mr. Chair, to show what the income will be, the revenues will be, the profits will be in 2017, 2018, 2019, but yet they can stand up with a piece of paper, wave it around to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and say: we are going to make hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of this project and we are going to have $20 billion –but yet they cannot produce anything to show it.

Mr. Chair, the Minister of IBRD is sitting there, and I just say to the minister: How many businesses would you approve if someone came in to you and you said, well, give us your business plan, and in the business plan there is no guaranteed revenue coming in, you cannot produce it? How many businesses would be approved in the department? I assume none. I would assume that he would say no, you cannot show any revenue coming in, you cannot show any profits, why are we going to put our money into it? That is what is happening to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Yet, they could stand up and say, here is what we are going to be making.

The other big thing about this, Mr. Chair, even though – and I will ask again before the day is out. I can assure you, I will ask again before the day is out. Show me the income statement where you are going to have this amount of profit, because in that income statement it will show me what you are going to charge the ratepayers in the Province. It cannot be done.

If you are saying: Well, if we do not do it, it is going to be much higher. Okay, if you are saying it. Just say, for example, it is true, show us what you are going to charge. Tell the people of Newfoundland and Labrador what they are going to have to pay on their monthly bill. If it is 10.2 now, 11.2 now, show us what it is going to be in 2017, if you know in 2017 here is the profit we are going to make. In order for us to make this amount of profit, here is what we have to charge you. Show it. You cannot do it. That is why I have so many questions about this deal. That is why I have so many questions about how much information is being put out.

We could take all the reports we want, we could take all the expert analysis we want, throw it on the table and let everybody look at it. Everybody could pick all of those to pieces. Some could take some good points; some could take some bad points. We could get an expert to agree on some parts, get an expert to say it does not work, but what concerns the people of Newfoundland and Labrador is: What am I going to pay on my monthly statement? We cannot get an answer. We cannot get an answer from this government; yet, they can stand up and say we are going to have billions of dollars. We are going to make billions of dollars on this, the first year, as soon as we flick the switch.

I ask anybody opposite: Does anybody know a business here that in the first year could turn such a profit? Maybe we can in Newfoundland and Labrador. Do you know the only reason why we cannot? – if we do, which I doubt. Do you know the only reason why? Because every individual in Newfoundland and Labrador are the ones who are going to pay for it.

When the government here stands up and says we are going to make $20 billion over fifty years, I want every Newfoundlander and Labradorian to know that you are making that profit for the government because you are being charged 100 per cent for 40 per cent of this project. There is absolutely no dispute about that, absolutely no dispute.

When the government stands up and touts: oh, we are going to make all of this money, we are going to make $20 billion over fifty years, just remember, it is us paying for this. People in Newfoundland and Labrador are paying for this. The seniors of this Province are paying for this. The middle-income people are paying for this. The people on fixed incomes are paying for this. The low-earning people are paying for this.

Mr. Chair, once more I plead with the government, if there are any profits to be made – as the minister said here today, if we get profits from the US sales it is going to be upped that much more for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. If there are any profits to be made, I ask the Minister of Finance, will you put it back on the ratepayers of this Province who are paying for the whole project, 40 per cent, so their rates could be down – so their bottom line when it is done, Mr. Chair, will be down to a level, to a point whereby they can stay in their own homes?

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have had the opportunity to speak about natural gas in some detail. We have talked about the other projects and the Cumulative Present Worth. I have had the opportunity to speak about the Sensitivity Analysis and how comparisons are done by the company MHI, Manitoba Hydro International, in terms of comparing projects. What we have set out to establish, or what we set out to find out and which has been established is that Muskrat Falls has a $2.4 billion CPW preferential.

After the PUB failed to offer any assistance to us in March 31, 2011, what we decided to do was let's go out now and get these reports. I have gone through the Ziff reports in great detail on natural gas. I have talked about Wood Mackenzie on natural gas. I have talked about the meetings that we have had with various experts in terms of the pricing of natural gas, the supply of natural gas and the pricing of oil. I have talked about meetings in relation to wind.

Now I want to talk about the actual report prepared by MHI on wind. I think it is important, Mr. Speaker, the people of this Province know that this is a situation that we were asked to do something, we took it serious, even though we expected – I expected in any event, just from a logical analytical perspective that it would support what Nalcor had already done, that we went out and got a wind report. What I did not expect though and what I have to say is I did not expect the difference in CPW that we found.

When we look at wind with thermal – I am going to explain that in a second now, Mr. Chair, but wind with thermal is $3.5 billion higher CPW than Muskrat Falls. When you get with wind with battery it is $9 billion more expensive. Really, you cannot even get there because what – and one of the reasons I referred to the meeting earlier today with professor Bernard Bulkin, the director of climate change in England or in the United Kingdom, was to show how the interconnections with Ireland and Scotland, the interconnections with France, allowed them to use more wind.

I did not have the opportunity to talk about the situation in Germany that they found themselves in according to Professor Bulkin, where they put all of their wind together and when the wind did not blow they had significant issues.

No question that we have very valuable and significant wind resources in this Province, ones that we will develop when the time is right, but the principle by which Nalcor operated at Decision Gate 2 was that there could be 10 per cent integration of wind into the system. That is in an isolated system; when you actually get to the interconnected system it improves the situation.

Let me just use this example. Again, this has been an amazing learning experience for me, Mr. Chair, and that is one of the reasons that we have relied so much and I have relied so much on other experts; it is in this perspective. Our agreement with Emera: we will provide them with 170 megawatts of energy or one terawatt. Mr. Martin prefers to talk about terawatts; I talk about megawatts because it is more easily understood by myself.

So, we are going to provide them with 170 megawatts. This is what the link allows us to do. The link allows us to develop more wind. In the actual report here, MHI, more wind has been put into the system, I think up to about 270 megawatts, maybe – I am not sure, but a significant amount of wind. That 170 megawatts does not have to come from Muskrat Falls. We can develop wind and small hydro on the Island and send that across the link if the energy is needed in Labrador. Even though, at this point, out of the 824 megawatts, 40 per cent would be available for industrial development or mining development in Labrador, we can still develop more.

We have Island Pond, Round Pond, and Portland Creek, which again, if I remember correctly, is around seventy-seven megawatts of energy. You take that seventy-five megawatts – we have two twenty-five megawatt wind farms at present – and start to develop more wind so we can supply that across the link.

The 10 per cent integration appears to be the accepted rule – I do not know if it is a rule or a standard; standard is probably a better word – but with the interconnection, it allows us to develop that wind and small hydro and to send that across if it is needed or to use it in the Province, because power goes both ways.

As I indicated earlier today, the day when I became convinced – and this was the stage upon which I went through Muskrat Falls; I became convinced of the importance and even the necessity of the Maritime Link is when I sat with Professor Bulkin in his office in London and he talked about the necessity of interconnection. It was the interconnection with Ireland and with France that allowed for the greater use of wind. They were developing their wind in the North and developing their wind in the South. I use the example of walking along Norfolk Coast and seeing these huge wind farms in the offshore.

MHI were asked to do a report. The NDP primarily had raised the issue that we had ignored what I will refer to as large wind projects. Even though we know you cannot get there, we went ahead anyway. They went ahead. Mr. Chair, all we asked them to do was to do a due diligence review of the studies provided by Nalcor to determine if the study goals had been met, and then to utilize the info provided by Nalcor.

A Hatch study had been done to determine whether or not "In an isolated island scenario, can sufficient wind be developed to replace…" Holyrood Thermal Generating Station to meet future demand. "Is this a technically feasible and economic alternative…"? That is a pretty clear question. There was no attempt to rig terms of reference. Go ahead and do it. Tell us what you can find.

What they did is they went out and they found the reports were technically sound. MHI does not recommend that wind options on the 10 per cent penetration level, as recommended by 2012 Hatch study, be provided at this time. Now, Nalcor has said that, but when our own experts say it, that is not good enough. It is not good enough for the Opposition. It is not good enough for some of the critics.

Nalcor, for some reason, because they live in this Province and because they are our own, cannot have the expertise required. We have to look to the guys in Ontario or whatever they are talking about over there earlier today. We have to look to them for guidance and advice.

Nalcor said 10 per cent. Hatch said 10 per cent. MHI confirmed 10 per cent. They go on to conclude at the end of it all – they talk about lithium-ion batteries. There are pictures in the report and there is thermal. Essentially, wind as a replacement for Holyrood is still using Holyrood. They acknowledge that wind potential in Newfoundland and Labrador is one of the best in the country. In order to replace Holyrood, 1,100 megawatts of wind would be required.

They talk about two wind farms: a 500-megawatt wind farm in the Avalon and a 600-megawatt wind farm in the Western region. They say: "Wind farms have a typical useful life of 20 years…" That is on page 21 of the report. They get into a discussion of synchronous condensers, wind integration costs, and wind turbine technology. They talk about capacity credits.

Ireland, currently, apparently – page 27 – has 2,066 megawatts, a capacity credit of 18 per cent. The capacity credit that is allocated to the wind power in Newfoundland is zero. Now, I am not quite certain what all that means, but what it does mean is that when you look at the end of the day, at a 10 per cent penetration level, it cannot work. It cannot work for a number of reasons.

One, the cost of the CPW with wind and thermal would be $3.5 billion more expensive CPW than Muskrat Falls; wind and battery would be $9 billion more expensive than Muskrat Falls. They say, in conclusion, at page 44 – that is their conclusion, not mine. MHI finds that large-scale wind development, as a replacement for Holyrood, is not a least-cost option and does not represent good utility practice at this time.

So now, Nalcor told us back at Decision Gate 2, what was going to happen. No, that was not good enough for people, so they hired Hatch to do a report. Hatch said the same thing. We said: No, we want to be independent of Nalcor. We do not want to be seen as simply accepting their report, so we had MHI do a wind report. What comes out of it at the end of the day that keeps coming out of all of the reports that we have here, is that Muskrat Falls is the least-cost alternative.

On the economic modeling that has been done, Muskrat Falls is the best way to go. From an environmental perspective, Muskrat Falls is the best way to go. Will we develop our natural gas at some point when the oil companies determine that they want to, in conjunction with us? Will we develop the wind? Yes, as we can. Right now, Muskrat Falls is the best project for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The Chair recognizes the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity to speak to Bill 61, the Act to Amend the Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, the Energy Corporation Act, and the Hydro Corporation Act, 2007, also known as the monopoly bill.

I say that it is the monopoly bill because it is locking in the ratepayers of the Province to pay for the project of Muskrat Falls. Because the people of the Province have to pay for this cost and only require 40 per cent of the power, I am hoping that the Minister of Finance will come up and explain a few things about the actual financing and the revenues and expenses and profit regime.

The simple thing is to get profit, you need to have revenue, revenue minus your expenses, if your expenses are less, then you have a profit. Based on what was supplied to the joint panel review, it said that the net financial benefit to the Province would be $1.1 billion by 2050. So, Mr. Chair, those numbers may have changed because of costs. The costs have gone up in the Province. It has gone up to $1.2 billion with the DG3 numbers. We are not even looking at cost overruns. Reflective of that, if you are going to still generate profit from the project, you are going to have to raise your rates or lower your expenses somehow in order to do that.

I would ask the question today, based on the news release that came out it talked about that this project, Muskrat Falls, will generate estimated revenue in excess of $20 billion over fifty years once it comes on stream. That is the revenue stream that was needed to basically either break even because we need to have that captured market to pay for it. That is only for the 40 per cent of the power.

If you are looking at that, that seems like a lot of revenue needed to pay for this project. Then when the Minister of Finance stated that if we include the export market, which can be 60 per cent of the power because the rest of it, 40 per cent is earmarked for the Island, 60 per cent then would be export, is only going to generate $4 billion in revenue. You are going to get $20 billion in revenue from the ratepayers of the Province, 40 per cent, that much revenue from them.

It is basically the export market for more than half the power is only going to generate $4 billion in revenues. That is almost giving away power at exorbitantly low cost or looking at the expenditures of getting to the export market for transmission, for tariffs, for all of these things to look at.

We as legislators here have not seen – and as the Member for the Bay of Islands had talked about – what the rates are going to be, what the revenues are going to be on a year-by-year basis, what the expenses are going to be so that we can see where profits are and where these numbers come into play, so that we can say well, fifteen cents is going to be the rate, twenty cents is going to be the rate, twenty-five cents per kilowatt hour is going to be the rate depending on what cost overruns are going to be. This has not been provided. It has not been proven to us and shown that we are going to have stable, consistent rates.

The rate calculator that is put on the Web site, that is hosted, is not something that is providing any details of that and explaining. The Minister of Finance needs to get up and explain why 60 per cent of the power earmarked for export would only generate $4 billion in revenues when the ratepayer here would be on the hook for $20 billion of revenue. Clearly, it reminds me of looking at what this bill is saying that you have to buy from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, you have no choice. The rates can be whatever it needs to be because we need to finance the project through the non-recourse debt. We have to have that captured market. It is like that commercial where the banks have their hands in your pocket, hands in your pocket. They have that. This is where Nalcor, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, is going to have a constant hand in your pocket, in your wallet, being able to take money out to pay for your power bill at any rate.

It does not seem very fair to me that on the export market we get $4 billion in revenue and $20 billion in revenue from the people of the Province for a smaller portion of the power. That is absurd. I would like to see the breakdown of the financial analysis; if the Minister of Finance would be so grateful to table that for the whole House to see, that would be something that would be greatly appreciated.

I want to go back and say, you know, the Minister of Natural Resources has said many times: wind is not an option; we cannot get enough wind into the grid. We have to displace Holyrood. We are looking out for the Island option of the Province, which 40 per cent is 330 megawatts, not the complete capacity of Holyrood Generating Station because most of it is not used. The capacity is not used there most of the time. Only during peak demands will they fire that up.

We can do something that is more environmentally friendly and that is convert it to pellets, to wood pellets; only need 750,000 tons. The Minister of Natural Resources and the Department of IBRD have been investing in pellets in the Province and they have a capacity to do 77,000 tons here in the Province. Quebec in its energy plan has almost 600,000 tons of pellets that are currently available to generate.

There is a real opportunity here to say we do not need to develop all this transmission line and cables at exorbitant cost to the ratepayer when we can focus on energy development for Muskrat Falls strictly on Labrador, looking at the industrial consumer, developing 100 per cent of that power for industrialization, and looking at getting maximum benefits there for Labrador.

We can do other things in the Province to displace Holyrood in an environmental, economical way that can really meet our energy needs on the Island portion of the Province. Then, with Muskrat Falls, you have to put in $3 billion in transmission across there; you have the Maritime Link with so much uncertainty, with cost overruns. You could have to end up charging the ratepayer a significant amount of money to do it. It is about doing it in steps, doing it in stages, doing it the way that it needs to done.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: To go forward with this project just to save a billion dollars to get Stephen Harper's loan guarantee is not the right move, because you do not need to build all this transmission link, to expropriate people's homes, family homes –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: – to expropriate private land, to do destruction to the environment in that form all across 1,100 kilometres.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: That is $3 billion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. MITCHELMORE: Mr. Chair, this loan guarantee is going to end up costing more money than it is going to save. If you looked at a real strategy to meet the Island needs and meet the needs for Labrador using the project and doing it in the right way, this is something that is not being considered. It was not considered in the studies, looking at biomass, looking at the pellets. It is something that our industry in the Province can be expanded, can create jobs. It is environmentally friendly, carbon neutral. Government will not say that it cannot be done. They will not say that – 750,000 tons per year, it can be done. We can export that. We can exports pellets. They are doing it all over Europe and they are doing it in other areas.

Why would we move forward with a project that right now says that the net financial benefit would be $1.1 billion by 2050 and the revenues that are there have to be sustained by the ratepayer to pay for the projects? If cost overruns go up, in order to get more revenue you have to increase. Revenue minus expenses gets your profits. If you are saying right now that the project with interest and expenses up to 2050 is going to be about $19 billion that is quite a high price tag for the project.

I ask the Minister of Finance to table the information, to explain it very thoroughly so that I have a better understanding of what is being put out there. What he is explaining right now is that the rates for the export market are basically going to be a giveaway because the revenues there are only going to be $4 billion and the revenues here for the Province are going to be $20 billion. That is not looking at any of the expenses, any of the costs. You have not explained what the interest rate for the loan is going to be, any of those types of things. That needs to be answered, Mr. Chair. It really does.

I will take my seat and give the Minister of Finance an opportunity to explain.

CHAIR: The Chair recognizes the hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Chair, there was a question raised by the Member for St. John's North earlier today. In the spirit of co-operation I went and found the answer for him about Iceland that was not on my chart.

Domestic rate in Iceland is approximately nine cents per kilowatt hour in urban areas and thirteen cents in rural areas. It would put them at the lower end of the chart that we talked about, with Mexico and the United States – in fact, between Mexico and the United States.

The average industrial rate – and this is very interesting; I am glad he asked this question – is 2.9 cents a kilowatt hour. That is $29 a megawatt hour they are selling energy for in Iceland. Do you know where it is going? Large aluminium smelters. That establishes the point that we have been making here. If you want to attract business, then you have to have attractive rates and the attractive rates have to be those that are competitive. We are not competing with Iceland, but I am assuming – and maybe the Member for St. John's North, when he gets up and speaks – that Iceland probably has good hydro. I do not know that, but I am guessing that they probably have good hydro.

I woke up this morning to a Tweet from the Member for St. John's Centre, where she was talking about the demand for power. My BlackBerry buzzed; I opened it up and here it was. Basically, what the Member for St. John's Centre said – I am paraphrasing now – we agree that there is a need for power but we do not agree with JK's interpretation of whatever that may be. I am assuming JK would be me. I will proceed on that assumption, if I may, for now, Mr. Chair. I have only got eight minutes.

I am going to come back again, as I will keep coming back for as long as we are here to that most basic question that they continuously avoid on the other side: Do we need the power? The answer is –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes.

Now, once we need the power, we have to do something. So, what do we have to do?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Develop Muskrat Falls.

MR. KENNEDY: Develop Muskrat Falls. When do we need the power?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Now

MR. KENNEDY: Now. What we have is a situation where we need power.

Again, if I could find my Mark Dobbin letter – oh, there it is. Mr. Dobbin states – and it just makes so much sense. He talks about the Holyrood plant. He talks about us having to get over our fear. "I have seen a number of commentators question the projections of future power consumption. I won't delve into detail but I will say that one only need to look around to see the evidence. More houses, bigger houses, almost all heated by electric heat. Hundreds of thousands of square feet of new office space, multiple new hotels; and that is just St. John's."

Now, you take into account everything that is happening in Labrador, you take into account what we are seeing as we expand and diversify this economy throughout the Province, the answer is so simple, the answer is yes. We are either going to cease this opportunity and we are going to proceed and we are going to provide the power that people need to continue to prosper in this economy and in this Province, or we are going to shut it all down.

To me, when you shut it down, what happens? We can wait until tomorrow, yes, okay. So, you are going to do what tomorrow? Is the problem going to go away? No. Can the problem become a solution? By that, I mean simply by developing Muskrat Falls, we allow for greater opportunity in our Province.

Maybe the members for St. John's from the NDP should – as I drive to work every day I look around, the buildings that are going up, sometimes I just lose track of them; you do not even notice them any more there is so much happening. Once that transmission line starts coming down across rural Newfoundland, down through and across, you are going to see a lot more development. Happy Valley-Goose Bay is certainly going to benefit, Labrador West is going to boom, but it cannot boom without power.

Let's talk about Holyrood for a second. So, we develop Holyrood. Say we accept it; yes, we can do Holyrood. Say we accept it; yes, we will do natural gas. What does that do for Labrador West? What does that do for Grand River Ironsands? What does that do for Labrador?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nothing.

MR. KENNEDY: Nothing. So not only is Muskrat Falls $2.4 billion cheaper, but it provides power for industry development.

To me, I just do not get the argument –

MR. MARSHALL: That is 80 per cent of the power.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, that is right; 80 per cent of the power, with 20 per cent going to Nova Scotia – 100 per cent.

Again I am going to repeat this, and I will keep repeating this until the cows come home. When you look at why we need power: electricity demand is linked to strong economic growth. I say to the people of this Province look around you. GDP has doubled; I have indicated that in a resource-based economy GDP is not necessarily a good indicator of economic growth because you can have your ups and downs. Personal disposal income is up by 56 per cent since 2002; 28,800 new homes built. Since 2006 we have average 3,000 new homes, with 3,600 new homes built in 2010; 85 per cent with electric heat.

We have, even though the population has declined, 18,600 new residential customers. We have Labrador ready to boom. Now we can –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. KENNEDY: It is in the report, Electricity Demand Forecast. Read it, right there. It is all in there.

Since 2002, Island residential demand is up 16 per cent. Commercial demand is up 10 per cent. I am not making this up. The Department of Finance officials who are very good at this are providing the information to us, and the Canada Housing Corporation. We have all of this happening and then we have the provincial load forecast that is done by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Manitoba Hydro International spends a chapter on Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro's load forecasting. What threw them off was the closure of the mills. The closure of the mills resulted in 182 megawatts of energy going into the system. By 2011, 40 per cent of that energy or 76 per cent had been utilized. Vale Inco will come on stream using eighty-five to ninety megawatts. By 2014, all of the mill energy will be used.

I say to the Member for The Straits – White Bay North, what will happen then is that even though Holyrood is only used at 15 per cent to 25 per cent of the time at present, as we need more energy Holyrood will have to be used more. As Holyrood is used more, we will burn more oil. As we burn more oil it will cost more money, up to 18,000 barrels per day at peak. These are not numbers that I am making up.

Let's look at our peak demand, which in 2012 peak demand being the coldest day of the winter. This is at page 6 of that report by the way. At the coldest day of winter, we have to be able to provide heat to the people and electricity to the people of our Province. In 2012, that peak is 1,581 megawatts. Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro predicts by 2020 that peak will be 1,766 megawatts or almost an extra 200 megawatts of energy.

Are we going to get that from conservation demand? No. Can we use conservation demand to improve our energy efficiency? Certainly. Are Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro or Nalcor and Newfoundland Power currently doing that? Yes they are. Can we get better at it? Yes we can. Do we want to? Yes we do. My head started to spin on that one myself.

In any event, by 2030 now we are going to need 1,942 megawatts at peak. I do not understand how we move away from that most basic question, do we need the power? If everyone over there were to agree we need the power, then it is obvious Muskrat Falls is the deal, and then we go home. That is how simple it is. That is all you have to accept.

Let's look at why and how Muskrat Falls should be done. It is the best deal for the Province. We need the power and we have to do something. We cannot wait. It takes four or five years to build any of these megaprojects, we all know that. The issues raised by the Member for St. John's North on workers, a valid issue. Aren't we in a good place in this Province where we have too many high-paying jobs and our concern is: Are we going to have enough workers? Isn't that a good position to be in?

I say to our people who are going to work in Labrador, come home, the jobs are there. We have Hebron starting with 3,000 jobs; we have Muskrat Falls with 3,500 jobs that will allow for four or five years of steady high-paying work. We have a deal with the unions, I say to the members of the NDP, agreeing that they want this project and they support the project. Muskrat Falls is the best way to go.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The Chair recognizes the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I certainly want to rise and participate in the debate here today. It is a very interesting debate, Mr. Chair. I have been listening attentively to my colleagues in the House of Assembly, the members from the Third Party, and members on the government side, predominantly the Minister of Natural Resources, talk about energy alternatives. I think it is a very healthy discussion, Mr. Chair. I think it is very informative to anyone who is listening, of the options and the potential that is out there even today.

Not even making a guess right now, Mr. Chair, or making an argument about what is the best cost alternative, we find ourselves in a position in this Province that is the envy of many in the country, because we have energy alternatives. We have options, which a lot of provinces do not have, Mr. Chair.

Many provinces do not have today, the options of going out and hiring any kind of expertise to look at major hydro development projects, or to look at liquefied natural gas, Mr. Chair. Two of the projects that keep bantering back and forth in this Province between people who think we should be going in one direction or another. There are so many out there that do not have those particular options even available to them.

Mr. Chair, I heard the discussion around wind power. I know, Mr. Chair, there have been a number of interests in this Province around wind power. I only have to go back to a few years ago, about eight years ago, when there was a company by the name of Ventus Energy that wanted to develop a major project on the Churchill River in wind power. They wanted to put in wind turbines to capture the wind on the river, to generate it and to feed it into the grid. They were going to do so in partnership with, at that time, the Labrador Metis Nation, whom today is known as the NunatuKavut Community Council, Mr. Chair.

Anyway, at the time, government was not receptive to it, hydro was not receptive to it. They were going to go in on the river and do their own wind studies before they would look at engaging in any discussions with any private companies or anything else, although these companies had done their own studies on the Churchill River. They had collected the data, and they were interested in making a major investment. At that time, Mr. Chair, the investment itself was well over $2 billion just in the wind farm on the river.

They were a company that also was doing work in other parts of Canada. They did a tremendous amount of work in the other Maritime Provinces, primarily in Prince Edward Island. They also did a lot of work in the UK. They did a tremendous amount of work in Belgium in particular, Mr. Chair. They were one of the leaders.

No doubt, Mr. Chair, they were into this to make money, too. They were capitalizing on the federal government's new program about saving carbons and getting carbon credits. There were financial investments for them towards these particular projects. There was a lot of interest around that.

Then, of course, Mr. Chair, we cannot forget the other company, a wind power company here in Newfoundland and Labrador, a company that wanted to put a 600-megawatt wind farm on the Avalon Peninsula. It was a company called Clean Energy Solutions, I think, was what they operated under. The Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services will know because when she was the Minister of Environment they had meetings with her.

In fact, Mr. Chair, I even have copies of the presentations afterwards. I think it was in 2006 or 2007 when that occurred. I am not sure, but I know one of the proposals given to me was from 2006 because I looked at it only recently.

Anyway, they did meet with the minister at the time. They were the company Newfound Energies. Here it is. July 14, 2009, actually, it was. The other one, Mr. Chair, a report they sent to Hydro and government, was in 2006. Mr. Chair, it was two reports, I say.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS JONES: The Minister of Labrador Affairs, you can just ask your colleague there. She can tell you all about it, I am sure.

Anyway, Mr. Chair, what they wanted to do was develop a 600-megawatt wind farm on the Avalon Peninsula. They felt, Mr. Chair, it would reduce the reliance on unstable prices of fossil fuel, which is the objective of Muskrat Falls that the government wants to look at today. They wanted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce our carbon footprint, and be able to gain access to credits in that particular way.

Mr. Chair, there were other options that were discussed. Were they more feasible options? Well, that is what we are debating today. We are certainly not eliminating the fact there were not other options, regardless of the fact government only chose to look at one of those options in comparison to Muskrat Falls.

I just wanted to point that out, Mr. Chair, because I think it is important to know that. Under Bill 61, not only in the absence of this bill have we seen Nalcor, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, and government close the door on potential other developers in the Province that were willing to invest their own money to develop energy, clean energy for the people of the Province, not only did they turn their door on them like they did with Ventus Energy, like they did with other company, Mr. Chair – I forget the name of it here now; I have so many reports on my desk – Newfound Energies.

Not only, Mr. Chair, did they have proposals from these two companies that would have seen tremendous amount of investment – and in fact, the wind project on the Churchill River would have generated, Mr. Chair, more power than Gull Island and Muskrat Falls combined, just to put that in perspective.

Anyway, Mr. Chair, having said that, before even Bill 61, these groups had the door shut in their faces. They were not even considered as being an option for other development initiatives or power initiatives in the Province. Under Bill 61, what we have, Mr. Chair, is a door that is going to be shut for the next fifty years in terms of providing alternative energy outside of Muskrat Falls power to the people of the Province.

Now, Mr. Chair, if you were a big supporter of Muskrat Falls and you really believed, Mr. Chair, that this was the best project for today in Newfoundland and Labrador, why would you still limit yourself to what could potentially happen twenty years, thirty years, forty years, or fifty years from now? Now, Mr. Chair, when I look at that I see very narrow-sightedness. That is what I see, unfortunately, because even though there is a good thing today, a great thing today, it does not mean it is going to be or there will not be something better in the future years to come. It does not mean that.

Mr. Chair, there are thousands of examples. You only have to walk into our hospitals today and see that one time we thought the X-ray machine was the best thing in the world, that ever was invented in a hospital. Today, Mr. Chair, we are putting in PET scanners; we are putting in PET scanners and we are using ultrasounds every day. Nuclear medicine has boomed, Mr. Chair. It has boomed. It is an industry onto itself in the medical technology field. Whoever would have envisioned that ten, fifteen years ago even, not even fifty years ago.

That is just one example. There are hundreds of examples, Mr. Chair. You only have to look at cellphone technology and where that has come from. Mr. Chair, we had an old black, rotary dial phone less than fifty years ago on the wall –

AN HON. MEMBER: I still have one.

MS JONES: I still have one, too.

Mr. Chair, that was the only thing we had. We had a party phone, Mr. Chair. Every family in the community could use the one phone. That was fifty years ago.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are not fifty.

MS JONES: No, I am not, nowhere near it. They had it before I was born, I am saying, fifty years ago. I am twenty-nine, and the minister knows it.

Mr. Chair, look where we have come. I just want to say that because I think it is important to recognize that something might be good today but do not limit yourselves to that. Do not limit the people of the Province to that. Make sure that the option is there so that if there is something better we have the ability to feed it into the line and bring benefits to the people of the Province.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MCGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I am pleased to rise and answer some of the comments that I have heard over the last few days.

The first one I want to touch on is the arena in Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair. I empathize with the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair. I empathized so much that I did a little bit of research throughout Labrador. To me, it comes down to operational. All of the arenas in Labrador cost approximately the same amount that you spoke of to operate. The other –

MS JONES: I had no idea.

MR. MCGRATH: Now, you had your chance to speak, let me have mine.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MCGRATH: You either have a provincial issue of funding an arena or an operational issue of can you operate an arena. I would love to see them operate their arena but maybe they should take some advice from some other municipalities in Labrador that have found prudent ways to run their arenas without having to shut them down. That means you do not have to have your heat on all the time. You can still put your ice there, but in your low times you do not have your heat on when you are trying to keep an ice surface on an arena.

The other comment I would like to make, and I compared it to some of the other municipalities in Labrador, there is funding of tens of millions of dollars on the Coast of Labrador for the diesel operated municipalities that the other municipalities in Labrador do not get that are on electrical. They do not get that subsidy; tens of millions of dollars there. That is the first one that I wanted to bring up.

Another thing that was discussed in the last few days was: What is Labrador going to get out of Muskrat Falls? If we are going to develop Muskrat Falls well then let's make sure Labradorians get something out of Muskrat Falls.

I am going to go back to May 6, 1998. That is where I am going to start. We had an independent sitting in the House of Assembly at the time. The member was from Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

MS JONES: Name her.

MR. MCGRATH: I do not need to name her. She knows who she is, as well as everyone else in the House, but I hope she is going to listen.

I am going to make a couple of quotes from that Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair. On May 6, 1998, "I think people in Labrador have been asking and begging for this, and have been asking that the Province recognize the extreme importance and the need to have this done.

"I would say now that today the people of the Province are recognizing it. In light of new developments that are happening in the Island of this Province and in Labrador, the entire population is understanding and seeing the need for adjacency, the need to be doing things at home and maximizing the benefits at home first, before anyone else has the privilege and the opportunity to do it." That was on May 6, 1998.

In her infinite wisdom, she felt it was in her best interest to join the governing party in 1999, which happened to be the Liberal Party, and she thought that she would be better off serving her district by joining the Liberal Party.

Going back to May 8, 1998, she commented again as an independent. "I also want to talk about the energy resource because energy has been another resource that has been exporting out of Labrador for years and years and years."

Well, this year, Mr. Chair, we got a break. The Premier went in and negotiated a deal on, guess what? The Lower Churchill –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MCGRATH: - to reroute benefits to this Province from that development.

Again, Mr. Chair, I will have to say that adjacency has to be considered. There have to be benefits to the people who are adjacent to the resource, as well as the people who are within the Province that houses the resource. That hopefully will be accomplished as a result of a resolution that has been put forward here.

Now, that was on May 8, 1998, and here we are now in December, 2012. So, you went in as an independent, you sat in a government that worked out a deal in 1998 –

AN HON. MEMBER: Nine.

MS JONES: I was not in the government in 1998.

MR. MCGRATH: In 1999, sorry; you were in the House of Assembly in 1998 and you were in the governing party in 1999, because you were going to get everything done for your district, for your people. Here we are in 2012, and you are still standing up over there saying you have not gotten what you need for your district. Okay.

Then we move on to – I will not get into Mr. Russell here, I will save him for another time – November 28, 2002, when you were a member of the government –

AN HON. MEMBER: Member of Cabinet then.

MR. MCGRATH: No, she was not a member of Cabinet then; she did not become a member of Cabinet until shortly before this government moved them over there. She was only there for a very short time. I researched that, too.

I quote from CBC, November 28, 2002.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is a good source.

MR. MCGRATH: Well, it is the best source that they use. I have already stated in this House what I feel about them.

"Premier Roger Grimes says the demands" – this is a government you are sitting in – "of people in Labrador won't necessarily be a part of a final Lower Churchill hydro deal." That was your Premier. My Premier does not say that. "Grimes says he will consider their points, but he's offering no guarantees."

Now, let us talk about dysfunctioning governments. That same government – and you have mentioned the Minister of Labrador Affairs a couple of times; well, in that same government, the Minister of Labrador Affairs, in dysfunction with his Premier of the time, says – or CBC's, first: "Grimes' comments contrasted with what the Minister of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs told the House of Assembly Thursday."

He said the government and people in Labrador had reached a consensus on three points. Point number one: a Lower Churchill deal will include power recall rights to fuel industry. Point number two: a portion of the royalties will be set aside just for Labrador. Number three: people in coastal Labrador will get a break on their electricity bills.

They did not deliver on one of them – not one. As a matter of fact, they could not even agree on them, my point being in the last forty-eight hours we had to listen to a member who was also in that government talking about papers they had seen –

AN HON. MEMBER: Or did not see.

MR. MCGRATH: Or did not see. They were not sure after.

Then we have to talk about an independent under the Tobin regime who thought it was in the best interests to become part of the Liberal regime, and then thought everything was going to turn out perfect. It ends up nothing was delivered on.

I am running out of time, but I am going to start very briefly. I am going to concentrate on coastal Labrador, because hopefully my colleague from Lake Melville will talk about Western Labrador and Lake Melville.

Since 2003, over $700 million invested into Labrador by this government – since 2003. I will start and then I will come back. Funding for cultural identity and diversity –

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?

MR. MCGRATH: Sixty thousand dollars.

Let us go down. Conservation projects to support Natural Areas Systems Plan: $500,000; Real Time Water Quality Monitoring: $1.55 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bigger.

MR. MCGRATH: Bigger?

Community Access Program in Labrador – this is all in your districts: $4.7 million; Enhanced K-12 initiatives – are you listening, Minister of Education? – $3.7 million.

I only have five seconds left now, but I will be back to enhance what has gone into Labrador by this government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Just for the record, I did offer the member leave to finish reading his address if he wanted to. Anyway, Mr. Chair, it just goes to tell me how ashamed the government opposite is about what they are doing in Labrador. They are so ashamed, Mr. Chair, that they are up there about to run transmission lines over the heads of children in Labrador when they do not have a rink to skate on. That is how ashamed they are, that they are in here today on a bill that is going to change the directions for ratepayers of hydro in this Province for the next fifty years and they are up there rehashing the money they spent in Labrador in 2003. Hang your head in shame I say to you, Minister. You hang your head in shame.

The other thing, Mr. Chair, everything he said that I said, it was true. Every last word was true. Unlike the member opposite, I am not afraid to stand on my feet and represent my constituents, regardless of where the government of the day might be going. Oh no, I will not be the weasel politician, Mr. Chair, that I have seen across the way in this House of Assembly – absolutely not.

If I do not like what the government that I am a part of is going to do, I will not, Mr. Chair –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MS JONES: – crawl in the backseat of the House of Assembly, hide behind the walls of Confederation Building and pretend to support the government – absolutely not.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: That is not my style, Mr. Chair. I will never practise the weasel politics that I have seen played out by people like the member opposite – absolutely not.

Mr. Chair, let me address some of the things he has raised. It has nothing to do with the bill by the way, but let me address some of the things that he has raised. One of it is the municipalities in Labrador.

How dare he stand in his place today and condemn the people of my district and the municipalities of the Labrador Straits by saying they are not prudent in how they run their arena? How ridiculous, Mr. Chair – how ridiculous.

Who are you, I say to the Member for Labrador West? Who do you think you are to look at the towns in my district and tell them that they are not prudent in the management of their arena and that is why their children cannot play hockey there?

MR. JOYCE: Come down and say it to their face.

MS JONES: Absolutely. You waltz your weasel ways into my district I say to you, Minister, and you face the municipalities in the Labrador Straits. You tell them that they are not prudent managers and that is the reason their children have nowhere to skate today.

Mr. Chair, a Minister of the Crown, the words of his mouth are absolutely ridiculous and shameful towards the people of this Province, towards the good people of Labrador – the good people of the Labrador Straits who hold all kinds of events and raises all kinds of money so that their children can have a better quality of life in their communities. Mr. Chair, these are not people of abundance, these are people, and I challenge them to look at the statistics in his colleague's department who live on an average income –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MS JONES: – of $27,000 or $28,000 a year, and he looks them in the face – I say, you go up there and you walk into those communities and you look at them and you say to them: The only reason your children got to go to Quebec to skate is because you are not prudent managers of your municipality.

Now, Mr. Chair, a Minister of the Crown to have the gall to stand in this House of Assembly, to stand here when he knows that the power to that arena comes from Quebec. He knows that the power to that arena comes from Quebec, from the Lac Saint-Jean project. He knows that. He knows it and he knows that the people in Quebec are paying half of what the people in my district are paying for that same power.

Now, Mr. Chair, how much weasel politics can you get than that, to stand in your place today and to say such things?

MR. JOYCE: He is laughing over there.

MS JONES: He can laugh until his head rolls right across to the other side of the floor, but it will not make any difference to me. It will not make any difference to me, Mr. Chair.

Now, he wants to talk –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

MS JONES: I am so riled up now, Mr. Chair, I am going to tell you right now – riled up by what I have heard from the member opposite and he claims to be the son of Labrador. It is quite obvious, Mr. Chair, in his comments today that he is no son of Labrador. If he was the son of Labrador, he would be standing on his feet, he would be challenging his government to do more for the people of Labrador, but no, that is not the case. Oh no, Mr. Chair, that is not the case.

Instead, he stands on his feet and he condemns the parents of these children. That is what he does. Volunteers in communities, people who work hard every day to keep their towns going, and this gentleman, Mr. Chair, across the way, a Minister of the Crown, a servant of the taxpayers, and he looks the people in the face, the volunteers, and he says to them: You are no good. You are not doing a good enough job. That is the reason you are in the situation that you are in.

Pathetic, absolutely pathetic, Mr. Chair! I have never, ever heard a minister in this House degrade people in communities as much as this individual just degraded the people in this district, Mr. Chair, just degraded them.

Now, Mr. Chair, he also wanted to talk about the subsidy. Let's talk about the subsidy, Mr. Chair. Let's just talk about the subsidy because, Mr. Chair, this is the same government that stood in this House of Assembly and said: We will look at subsidizing the commercial rates for people in Labrador. Well, where is it? It is time to deliver, I say. Time to ante up, Mr. Chair, time to ante up. You can talk the talk but you are not walking the walk, I say to the member opposite, absolutely not.

You can hold up all the papers you want, Sir, because I will shred them today like no machine you ever seen before in your life. I can guarantee the minister that.

Anyway, Mr. Chair, let me get to the subsidies because it is a very important point, and it actually has to do with the bill. Interesting, it has to do with the bill. This is the government that promised to bring subsidies to the commercial operations in Labrador and have not done it. They do not want to hear that do they?

That is the reason, Mr. Chair, that there are groups like this who cannot afford to put ice in their arena. They cannot afford to pay the light bill, I say to the minister opposite, and all you do is stand and blame them for not being more prudent and how they do their volunteer work in their community. Have you no shame as a minister of the Crown to say such a thing?

Mr. Chair, the rant from that minister today is almost as bad as the stuff we are hearing from the Member for Lake Melville. Mr. Chair, I am starting to question the people in Labrador when I look across and see the representation some days in the House of Assembly. I absolutely have to, Mr. Chair. It is unbelievable. I never thought I would see the day when I could take the Minister of Labrador Affairs and put him in the same category as the Member for Lake Melville; but, Mr. Chair, I can, based on the comments that he just said today. I cannot believe it, Mr. Chair. I am floored.

I would question the minister, if you are going to stand on your feet this time, stand up and tell us when you are going to bring the subsidy in for the commercial operators, and what you are going to do to help the people in the coast of Labrador who do not have the money to pay the light bill to put the ice in their arena. Minister, do your job, help people and stop trying to whip them and tell them where they are going wrong.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador.

I remind the minister, I would like for him to be closer to the bill this time, please.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MCGRATH: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

All of this relates to the bill because, Mr. Chair, if this moves forward, what happens is –

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

CHAIR: A point of order by the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

MS JONES: Yes, Mr. Chair.

I think according to the Standing Orders of our House, it is unparliamentary to question the rulings of the Speaker. I would ask that the Member for Labrador West withdraw his comments.

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. MCGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Some of us can walk the walk and talk the talk, others squawk the squawk.

The new school in L'Anse-au-Loup – this is all about Muskrat Falls. I am building up now to where we are going to go when Muskrat Falls is up and that is where your $20 billion comes into it.

The new school in L'Anse-au-Loup, $15,294,000; enhanced social work staff in to address the needs of children, families and persons with mental health and addictions issues, $10 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: Twenty-five.

MR. MCGRATH: No, that is not in her district. Eventually, we will get there.

RCMP; additional officers for the RCMP is $4.3 million. I do not want to give away all my numbers because I might have to use them. Develop a new water supply for an Innu community in Nain, $19.8 million. Hang on now, electricity – isn't that what this bill is about? Isn't this bill about electricity? Electricity rebate for homeowners using diesel-generated power throughout the Province is $9.4 million. That is enough on numbers for now.

Let's go back to the Muskrat Falls and building up to where we are in 2012. Let's move back ten years ago when we were getting to where we are today, Mr. Chair. This government planned to get to where we are today.

In 2002, while the main negotiator – or what it sounds like anyway. I do not have it in writing, but it sounds like the main negotiator for Bay of Islands over there. He seemed to have read the deal. He seemed to have seen the deal. He was in meetings that had the deal, but someone else who was sitting in the House as part of that government never knew there was a deal. Right here, I have the following statement. Representing Labrador, that member was.

The following was issued today by Premier Rogers Grimes. It was also read in the House of Assembly – read in the House of Assembly.

AN HON. MEMBER: When was that?

MR. MCGRATH: This was on November 18, 2002, a little over a decade ago. It is a decade later when this government is making it work.

"On August first, following several months of discussions with officials from the Government of Quebec, Premier Landry and I announced in Halifax" – now, a member of the government never knew there was any deal – "that we had agreed on the fundamental principles that would underlie any deal that would be reached to develop the $4 billion dollar, 2,000 megawatt hydro project at Gull Island." Now, never knew there was a deal. Sat in the House, sat in here, out of her own lips, the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair, she never knew there was a deal with that government.

Her colleague, the Member for Bay of Islands, knew all about the deal. He read the deal, he saw the deal, and he sat in meetings for the deal, but the member who was representing Labrador at the time was worried to death. Then she has the gall to stand up here and say I do not care about the kids of Labrador. In my district, I make sure we are fiscally prudent. I make sure we know how to operate. I am more than willing to go into your district and help them. Then the arena would be open all the time – all the time then there arena would be open.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MCGRATH: We have no problem. It is all about reading a deal. Now, Mr. Chair, that is what this government has done. This government did not take Bill 61 and put it together in a couple of months.

Let us go back to Dean MacDonald. Why did he resign from the board? Let us go back to Mark Dobbin. I know Mark Dobbin has good blood and a lot of common sense running through his veins because he is related to me. So he has to have good blood going through him. I know that. Why did he step away from the deal? The reason they stepped away from the deal was because your Premier at the time did not even take the time to read the deal.

Unfortunately, I would like to get into the Conception Harbour thing, but I do not know the details on that. I would like to get a couple of little nips on that one to bring out.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MCGRATH: You are darn right it was before I came. If I was here at the time, as well as if a lot of my colleagues who are here now, then you would have had some dispute, I tell you. You would have some dispute on the go then. You would not have seen that deal go through or even be tabled then.

CHAIR: I am going to ask the minister to connect the dots.

MR. MCGRATH: As far as you are concerned, it never was tabled.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I am going to ask the minister at this point to connect the dots, very quickly please.

MR. MCGRATH: No problem, Mr. Chair.

The dot is Bill 61. Bill 61, Mr. Chair, we have put this bill together because we knew that once we sanctioned the deal then we knew you have to move forward. In order for this deal to move forward now, Bill 61 outlines the changes that need to be made in order for it to move forward. This bill was not put together in a month or two months. There was a lot of hard work, a lot of professionalism, and a lot of research that went in to putting Bill 61 together. What we are recommending in Bill 61 will protect the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

One thing that I have heard people on this side of the House comment on, but I cannot seem to hear it from that side is that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador own Nalcor. The people own Nalcor, so everything that comes back to Nalcor goes back to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We are not going to take what they own and pass it out to somebody else.

I see the Leader of the Third Party heckling me, and I am surprised because I did not think she could heckle, but you heckle away at me. I do not mind being heckled. I do not mind being heckled at all, but I can guarantee you that on this side of the House when we do our homework, we make sure we do it right. We do our research.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MCGRATH: We do not put a paper that is as important as Bill 61 on the table, we do not put a paper like that on the table until we have completely researched it and we know it is the best deal for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

MS MICHAEL: Abitibi.

MR. MCGRATH: She might bring up Abitibi, Mr. Chair, and I will not get into the details of Abitibi but one detail I will make is that our Premier today realizes there was a mistake made. She said there was a mistake made, but the Premier said there is no regrets for that because we were still the best benefactor by taking over Abitibi.

The other point that our Premier has made and made it abundantly clear is that the Leader of the Third Party was also party to that deal. Let's not forget that.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Mr. Chair, I am going to tell you: we might own Nalcor, but we are not allowed to see the books over there. We cannot see one dime, Mr. Chair, of what is being spent.

Anything that I own I have access to it. I know how to get access to it; I know what is going on with it, Mr. Chair. I know all of these things. I say to the minister opposite: we may own Nalcor as the people of the Province, but we have no access to it. Every day there are millions and millions of dollars being spent of taxpayers' money with no public accountability to the people of this Province, Mr. Chair. Therefore, that is the very difference, I would say to the member opposite.

Mr. Chair, the only reason the minister is talking about money being invested in schools in my district, or money being invested in water and sewer in my district – very basic essentials that every citizen of this Province should have, I say to the minister, very basic and essential services. He is doing it because they are ashamed.

They are ashamed, Mr. Chair, of what they are doing with Muskrat Falls and the way they are ignoring the people of Labrador. They are ashamed, Mr. Chair, that the Nunatsiavut Government – who they have a land claim agreement with – that they will not meet with them and they will not listen to them.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MS JONES: They will not hear their environmental concerns as it relates to this project, Mr. Chair. They are ashamed of their own record. That is the reason that they are standing in their place today and trying to justify their existence in Labrador by talking about money they spent there since 2003.

Mr. Chair, they know that what they are doing today is ignoring the long-term issues of Labrador in the context of Muskrat Falls. They know, Mr. Chair, they are ignoring the Nunatsiavut Government, a government the Member for Lake Melville was a part of before they kicked him out, Mr. Chair – a Cabinet table he sat at before he was asked to leave it.

Here today, Mr. Chair –

CHAIR: I am going to remind the member I want her to come back to Muskrat. I asked the minister, too; I ask you to do the same.

MR. RUSSELL: A point of order, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: A point of order.

The hon. the Member for Lake Melville.

MR. RUSSELL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would just like to clarify that never at any point in my career with Nunatsiavut Government was I kicked out. I left of my own volition to join this hon. government here, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

I will remind her to come back to the bill. I did the same for the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you.

MS JONES: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chair.

The Nunatsiavut Government, Mr. Chair, has concerns as it relates to Muskrat Falls. According to the agreements that you signed – and I went through the documents, although the Minister of Labrador Affairs probably did not because he has not mentioned either one of them yet. In there it says they should consult with the Aboriginal peoples, Mr. Chair. That is part of their signature to the document. That is associated with Bill 61.

Yet, Mr. Chair, the very member who sat at their Cabinet before they kicked him out six months before an election in provincial politics will not even stand up today to ensure that the Nunatsiavut Government gets a fair hearing on Muskrat Falls. That is shameful. It is no wonder, Mr. Chair, they want to divert the debate to Dean MacDonald and Roger Grimes, a hospital they built, and a water and sewer project they put in, because they are too ashamed to stand up and tell the people of Labrador what they are doing for them.

Not only are they ignoring Nunatsiavut, what about NunatuKavut, Mr. Chair? I got an e-mail from the President of the NunatuKavut Community Council telling me that as the President he phoned the Minister of Natural Resources' office at least twenty times and he did not get the courtesy of a phone call back. Is that consultation with Aboriginal groups?

You can stand in your place all you like and say they do not have a land claim with the federal government. Well, Mr. Chair, the Province has the prerogative to negotiate agreements with whomever they want as a government. They know that the Labrador Mιtis Nation, the NunatuKavut Community Council, have legitimate issues and concerns.

What are they doing? What are they doing, Mr. Chair? The hypocrisy of what is happening is this: they write into their documents about consultation with Aboriginal groups and then they ignore them. They try and mislead people into thinking that the Nunatsiavut Government was out there sanctioning Muskrat Falls when in fact they were not. The President had to send out a press release and clear it up.

Then, Mr. Chair, they try and make people believe that the NunatuKavut Community Council, who have had people in that land for over 500 years – they do not have to even talk to them, Mr. Chair. The president calls the minister's office twenty times - and not even the courtesy of a phone call back. Even a phone call that says: we do not feel like we have to deal with you, would have been at least a courtesy call back; but, Mr. Chair, that was not the case.

In fact, Mr. Chair, I have a whole list of stuff here, which I will get into as we go along in debate. It is quite obvious, Mr. Chair, why they are diverting the debate on Bill 61 in this House of Assembly. I have not heard any of them get up yet and talk about the sanctioning agreement and tell us the chapters that are in it and what they signed on to. None of them have gotten up yet and talked about the loan guarantee agreement and what is in the loan guarantee agreement, and what they have committed to on behalf of the people of this Province.

Mr. Chair, jump and tell me. You probably did not even read it. I say to the minister, you probably did not even read it, and you would not be the first minister over there who did not read their briefing notes. There was a good many over there who did not read their briefing notes. We found it out, Mr. Chair, in the ER/PR scandal in which lives were lost in this Province and nobody read their briefing notes. That is the irresponsible government that you have signed on to, I say to you, Minister.

Mr. Chair, on Bill 61, I want to say this, there are concerns in Labrador. It does not matter, Mr. Chair, if this project is the best thing since sliced bread. It does not matter if it is the glory of all glories that is going to come to the land. If people have legitimate issues, they should be treated respectfully. They should be dealt with, they should be talked to. Their phone calls should be answered.

What is wrong with that, Mr. Chair? What is wrong with people in Labrador who are going to watch transmission lines go over their head asking their government for a break on their own electricity because they cannot afford to pay the bill to keep their arena going? What is wrong with that? Absolutely nothing, in my opinion!

In fact, Mr. Chair, in my opinion, good governance addresses those issues. They do not look for excuses. They do not hide behind it. They address those issues, Mr. Chair, and that is what they should be doing in the context of this project in Labrador; but, in fact, they are doing the very opposite.

Frankly, Mr. Chair, I am very disappointed. Because do you know something? I thought we could have risen to a better level of debate than this in the House of Assembly. I thought, Mr. Chair, we could have came into this House and talked about real things that could happen for people in this Province. Talk about how we could strengthen this legislation to ensure that this project was going to be the best for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Instead, all I saw was weasel politics and hogwash, Mr. Chair, from the members opposite –

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not parliamentary.

MS JONES: Oh, well tell the Premier it is not parliamentary. She was the first one to use the weasel politics word in this House of Assembly, Mr. Chair, and Hansard will show that.

Anyway, Mr. Chair, having said that, look at where we have gotten today. The Member for Labrador West never once stood and talked about benefits for Labrador, what this term sheet means for Labradorians, what this deal means for Labradorians. No, he talked about something they did in 2003, a comment that I made in 1998, Mr. Chair. Wow, what a contribution, I say to the minister, to Muskrat Falls. Well, I am so impressed.

Mr. Chair, there are a lot of serious issues around this that have to be dealt with, and one of them is the NunatuKavut Community Council. I am going to talk about that for a little bit now, Mr. Chair, because this is a group in Labrador that regardless of what the members opposite opinions are, they are a group in which they have a legitimate claim to the land.

I think it is ridiculous, Mr. Chair, when they are being fenced out of their own land. When elders are going on their trapping grounds where they have been for years and they are being arrested because of it. Mr. Chair, why would that happen? If the government was actually talking to these people and these individuals, that would not be happening. I would encourage them to do that because it does not need to happen.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: Good day, Mr. Chair.

It seems like I never left this House of Assembly but I can see that the hon. Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair has certainly gotten her knickers in a knot since I left. Now I am about to try to get them out of that knot and get this back to Bill 61. She has just referenced that we are all off Bill 61. I am not going to comment in regard to my opinion on who has gone off Bill 61 or not. In the meantime, as I move through this I have to address some of the issues and some of the things that she brought to the table.

I stand here as a Member for the District Gander. I stand here as the Minister of Municipal Affairs and I also stand here as a minister and a person, a Newfoundlander and Labradorian who has a great love for Labrador. I do, and I spend a fair bit of time in Labrador, Mr. Chair. I spent a lot of time on the Northeast Coast of Labrador.

When the hon. member talks about that this government has forgotten Labrador, I am actually insulted by it, I say to the hon. members in this House, because over the last number of years, especially – I will speak for myself from Municipal Affairs. Over the last number of years there has been heavy investment in Labrador from this government, starting back to the 2004 budget, actually way back then, and $3 billion is after going into Labrador. I was just told the number.

From my own perspective, the hon. member was in Cabinet in a previous government and there was very little investment in Labrador from that previous government. From my perspective as the Minister of Municipal Affairs, I can take credit along with our Premier that I did two significant investments in Northern Labrador, as a matter of fact the Northeast Coast of Labrador, that I firmly believe would never have happened under any other government: a new arena for Makkovik worth about $14 million and a multipurpose recreational facility in Hopedale worth another $12 million, $14 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: And schools.

MR. O'BRIEN: And schools, and everything else that I participated in. As a matter of fact, I partnered with the Minister of Education to address a school issue in her own district, Mr. Chair.

When I hear things such as that, that we have forgotten Labrador, I get really upset myself, Mr. Chair. As I said a few minutes ago, you are looking at a person who has a great love for Labrador as a Newfoundlander and Labradorian.

Then the other piece is what really concerns me, as a minister and a resident of Newfoundland and Labrador: when I hear members talk about any development in a particular area, they believe that they should be compensated for that particular investment.

We all talk about and we all know what the benefits are going to be to Labrador in regard to construction, jobs, and a thriving economy. We will need investments in infrastructure and municipal infrastructure to address the overflows and whatever else may happen.

When I look at it from the perspective of a Newfoundlander and Labradorian, I firmly believe – and I do not mind saying in this House here right now – that if we had such a development in Gander, on Gander River, for instance, I would not really want, or I do not think that we should get something special from that particular development. We are a Province; we are all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

I believe the hon. the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair believes that too. I have heard her say in this House that all the people, regardless of their backgrounds, even if they just moved to Newfoundland and Labrador and became a resident here, are all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

We cannot set up things that would benefit an area just because there is a development in that particular area. Like I said, I would not expect a government, any government – not only this government, but any government – to compensate my district or any other area around Central Newfoundland if there was a project of this magnitude. It is a shared thing. We are a Province. There are 500,000-plus people living in this Province and we should all share the benefits of that particular project.

Now, Mr. Chair, Bill 61 is important; yes, it is. We want to move the project forward and we want to move it fast for the simple reason that we should do that while the iron is hot in regard to the lending agencies wanting to become a partner with financing the project. Well, then, we have to move it and move it early in the year. It is imperative on us, because time is money and every percentage point or partial percentage point saves this Province money in regard to the overall cost of the project down the road and over a fifty-year amortization process, which is not unusual for big projects like this.

It is imperative that we move it forward. We have sanctioned the deal. I spoke last night in this House of Assembly on a number of occasions and I said: listen, we need to move it and we need to move it collectively. I think this morning we were getting something towards that and moving it forward.

We might not agree on it all. That always happens in any kind of a project. I have done many deals, as the Leader of the Opposition knows quite well. I have done many, many deals over the years, and complicated deals. I can say safely that I do not think, really, in the partners – and I have had many partners in regard to deals – all the partners did not get everything they wanted. That is a fact. That is the way it works, but you have the best deal for you. That is the way it works. On some cases I had multiple partners, sometimes I just had one, but I got the best deal for Kevin and the other person got the best deal for Tom, and whatever it may be. That is the way it works. You will never satisfy all of their needs.

When a community comes shopping to me in regard to municipal infrastructure or whatever it may be, I will work with that community to get a solution for it, but they do not get everything they want. They all know that. They absolutely know that: they do not get everything that they want. Then we work together for a long-term solution to the challenges that they may have.

That is the way we do it. That is essentially how we work Bill 61 and this project in regard to this House of Assembly and also the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I am quite sure that there are many people out there who are for this project, which I firmly believe, in regard to my travels all across Newfoundland and Labrador, that the majority of the people, and I mean a high majority of the people, are for the project. They might have dreams about something within the project itself.

I say to the hon. members: You cannot build in anything and everything to satisfy everybody. You just cannot do it, Mr. Chair. It is impossible to do. I said one of the first presentations I had in Cabinet back after July 4, 2005 was on Muskrat Falls. I remember it. I did not know very much about it at that particular time. Then I read a lot about it and educated myself to the project as best I could, where I could become a participant at the table and add whatever I thought could be added to the project itself.

The people over at Nalcor brought to the table their expertise of doing deals, and big deals, for other companies all around this world. Then we brought in experts from all over the world to help as well. A lot of things went into that.

Right now, in regard to the deal itself, we believe that at this point in history we have the best deal possible that we could get for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, which will give the lowest-cost option to address our own energy needs. It gives us an opportunity to move this project, not only from a provincial perspective, to a regional perspective and also to move it outside of the regional into the United States, giving us an economy that will last us forever and a day. The water will be there and the water will not run out. We will always have a renewable economy, Mr. Chair.

With that, I hope everybody gets back on Bill 61 where we can move this and then we can get to the Christmas period and enjoy ourselves with our family. Let us get by this and let us do some good work for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR (Cross): The hon. the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

MS JONES: Yes, Mr. Chair, thank you very much.

I just want to finish where I left off with regard to the Labrador piece. Mr. Chair, the Minister for Labrador Affairs, because of the weasel politics he practises, was all morning getting people in his office call around my district trying to find a copy of the light bill for the arena. I say to the member: If he would have called me, I would have been happy to give him a copy of the light bill and saved your staff hours of work of looking up numbers in the phone books and calling around Labrador looking for it.

Anyway, Mr. Chair, that is the kind of weasel politics he is into. I am more of a muskrat woman, myself, I say to the member opposite. Here is a copy and I would be happy to table the light bills for him.

Anyway, Mr. Chair, let us get into some of the other pieces in Labrador, because it is no wonder that they are trying to hide behind other deals that were never done instead of talking about their own. Under the Joint Review Panel Report on the Lower Churchill, they specifically talked about things that need to be done in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. So why don't we start going through the list? Because I had some interesting conversations in the last couple of days with people in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Mr. Chair. People who were in positions to find out how much of this work has been done.

Well, in fact, Mr. Chair, in this one e-mail that I received I was told that today in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, the town that is only thirty kilometres away from the largest hydro development project, in which there was supposed to be a formal agreement entered into with the town to look at all of these different things, never happened – never happened, Mr. Chair. In fact, even in the report it says it was supposed to happen prior to sanctioning of the project.

Now, is it no wonder, Mr. Chair, that they want to talk about a school that they built ten years ago in Labrador, as opposed to what they are not doing today? What is the point in having all of things and making these commitments if you are not going to deliver on them?

Mr. Chair, with those kinds of e-mails, I started looking into what it was that they were supposed to do. Guess what I found? I found not only was there supposed to be an agreement to deal with all of these infrastructure pieces, but there was also supposed to be agreements to deal with things like housing and the shortage of housing.

What I understand today, the only thing that has been offered to the Town of Goose Bay are two things: one, that they would hire a consultant to work with the town to assess what some of the possible impacts would be; or, Mr. Chair, a seniors' working committee. Now, that is what they have been offered so far, and nothing has been done.

Now, in addition to that, these are the concerns that were outlined in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and concerns that were felt by the Joint Review Panel that needed to be addressed prior to the sanctioning of the Muskrat Falls Project. They felt that there needed to be different shifts created at the airport, and that that schedule be worked out because of moving people in and out of the camps. It stated that the use of physical infrastructure in the area such as roads and port facilities in Happy Valley-Goose Bay during construction would be a concern, and some upgrades to these facilities would be required. It stated that they would have to look at alternate shipping routes, Mr. Chair, and how they were going to get things in and out of the area for the project. As we know, we do not even have a boat up there, Mr. Chair; that broke down two months, three months ago. We have not even been able to get that one back on the ground yet.

It talked about all the other infrastructure, from recreation, to housing, to roads, Mr. Chair, to lands, to the ports, and all of the things, the pressures that would come to bear in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Mr. Chair, it talked about the capacity for water and sewer and landfill, all of these things. The recommendations were that these were things that the government needed to address with the community and the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay prior to a sanctioning of this project, Mr. Chair.

What we understand today is that it was not done. In fact, Mr. Chair, we would encourage the government to do this. We would encourage you to do it, because if the project is going to be a success, then it needs to work for everyone, especially the people who are living in the area and who are going to be most impacted.

Mr. Chair, the very least that the government could have done was that they could have ensured that they would have had those things well in hand and taken care of. Mr. Chair, they could not be doing that, because the Minister of Labrador Affairs was too concerned with acting on his weasel strategy for politics and not dealing with the real issues concerning Muskrat Falls.

Mr. Chair, he talked about and he researched stuff I said in the House of Assembly going right back to 1998. That must have been a comprehensive piece of work for him, because I have probably spoken in this House more times than any other member during that time period that I have been here. It must have an extensive pile of paper or Internet for the member to go through.

Mr. Chair, it tells me he is capable of doing good research. I would say to the minister, put your efforts into doing something productive for the people of Labrador, the very people you are getting paid to represent. Ensure that the Department of Labrador Affairs fulfills the recommendations that are in the environmental assessment panel and the recommendations that were made as it relates to Lake Melville and to the other areas of Labrador, as it relates to the Aboriginal people of Labrador, Mr. Chair.

That is where the minister should put his efforts, Mr. Chair: into making sure that those things are done and that they are done appropriately. We know from our own experiences of major development projects, Mr. Chair, that these things creep up on you very, very quickly. If you are not prepared you miss opportunities. We do not want that to happen in Labrador. We want to ensure that the people there have every opportunity that can be available to them.

We do not want, Mr. Chair, on Boxing Day, when Ed Martin gets the finances in place – because we have to stay here and get this bill passed by Boxing Day; when he gets the finances in place by Boxing Day we do not want it, come the New Year in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, we are going to have people with nowhere to live, infrastructure that cannot handle the amount of traffic, Mr. Chair, and a port that might need work that did not get done. We do not want those things to happen. We want that investment made today. We want to make sure that the communities are ready and that they can take full advantage of any developments and opportunities that are going to occur here. That is why we have environmental reviews.

We have environmental reviews so that people can actually look at what needs to be done and make sure that it gets done so that people can capitalize on it, Mr. Chair. I would encourage the minister to do that. I would encourage him to do that, give up his weasel ways of politics, Mr. Chair, and become a productive contributing Minister of the Cabinet on behalf of the people of Labrador.

That is what I would encourage the member to do, Mr. Chair: write his own legacy; do not try and recreate someone else's. That takes a lot of energy, I say to the member opposite. Make your own legacy on behalf of the people of this Province and do not let your legacy be that on the biggest debate in the recent history of Labrador, the only thing that you could do was find a few quotes to bring to the House of Assembly from the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair that goes back, Mr. Chair, to 1998.

Do not let that be the legacy of the Labrador minister on the day of the big debate on Muskrat Falls, Mr. Chair, because that in itself would be worse then weasel politics. That would be even worse. That would be a shameful legacy, Mr. Chair, one which you would never be able to hold your head up from ever again.

CHAIR: The Chair recognizes the hon. the Member for Lake Melville.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RUSSELL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I believe this will be my fourth time today speaking to this particular bill, Mr. Chair, and I am quite happy to do it. I would like to add a few things to my colleague from Labrador West there, too.

Mr. Chair, this government, since the first Budget of 2004, is up to about $3.5 billion now in investment in Labrador; $3.5 billion. When they started the Northern Strategic Plan in 2007, they started out with an initial investment of $250 million. Since then, as my colleague said, I will reiterate, $700 million for initiatives on top of that.

Some of those, Mr. Chair, the latest was $65.8 million for the Trans-Labrador Highway, bringing it to a total investment up to this point of $250 million. That is what we are doing in Labrador, and an additional $100 million for the construction of Phase 3. This is commitment.

Now, I certainly think the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair – and she has, I guess, taken credit for a lot of this. This is what we do on this side of the House, Mr. Chair. It is as simple as that.

We have $90 million for that hospital in Lab West, Mr. Chair, $18 million for the completion of a new College of the North Atlantic campus, and we do subsidize generated power on the North Coast, to the tune of $1.6 million annually. That is dedication to the people of Labrador, Mr. Chair, absolutely. I just want to add that up. I am sure we could go on all day if we wanted to talk about the little pockets of money that add up to millions and millions in Labrador.

I would like to clear up something else at this time, since it was brought up in the House, Mr. Chair, about my dismissal from a Cabinet post while with the Nunatsiavut Government. I am going to make this short and sweet. A fellow minister came to me with tears in her eyes looking for help for the elders in her community. When our government at the time, Nunatsiavut, did not spring into action, I went door to door with a translator, Mr. Chair, and I witnessed the deplorable conditions that these elders were living in.

I took pictures of that, Mr. Chair. I threatened to invoke an emergency sitting of the House where I would display those pictures. My threat was simple. I was going to call this government right here, Mr. Chair, to swoop in and save the day in Hopedale. That led to my dismissal. I stand by that decision. I would do that any day of the week, Mr. Chair, in support of elders – absolutely.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RUSSELL: I would like to take a second here, too, Mr. Chair, and clear up something else.

Earlier on, in the proceedings, my good friend, the hon. Member for Torngat Mountains, said that he discussed something with me and that he was going to bring up the situation with the methylmercury in Lake Melville on my behalf in this House, Mr. Chair.

I will make one thing clear to the hon. Member for Torngat Mountains: You do not speak for me, and you do not speak for the great people of Lake Melville. That is why I am here, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RUSSELL: I will also add a little fact on top of that, Mr. Chair. When you talk about the Upper Churchill and the methylmercury that came from the flooding, and it does come from the trees, Mr. Chair, we are talking about 6,500 square kilometres versus less than sixty for Muskrat Falls, 100 times in the difference. So, nice try, I say to the hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

Earlier, Mr. Chair, when I stood up in this hon. House and I talked about this particular piece of legislation and what we are doing here, the first time I stood up I talked about my good old buddy, Boog, and I focused on the jobs. I focused on the benefits of this project, Mr. Chair, and the indirect benefits that happen within communities because of industrial development. The increase in the quality of life, the increase in the disposal income that people will have as a result of this prosperity, Mr. Chair, and the ability to bring people home who may have gone elsewhere for work.

In the second part of my speech, as I guess you could say about this legislation, Mr. Chair, I talked about – I will be honest – the NDP and their grandstanding, their spin, their rhetoric. You can say whatever you want to them; you are not going to get through to them. Basically, I just wanted to make sure that even though they are going to get up there and they are going to say whatever they have to, to gain political favour, they did not have the market cornered on environmental conscience and social conscience, Mr. Chair. We also keep that a priority in this government as well, Mr. Chair.

Next, Mr. Chair, I talked about the challenges in Lake Melville that were brought to us by the hon. Member for St. Barbe. Mr. Chair, I have one single message there. We are not afraid. We are not afraid of a challenge. Nothing in life comes easy, Mr. Chair.

When a megaproject comes into your district, into your Province, into your country, you will face adversity. There will be challenges. The great people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and specifically in this case, Mr. Chair, the great District of Lake Melville will rise above. We are up to the task. We will get maximum benefit for our people out of this project, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RUSSELL: I would just like to say too, I am going to offer a mother's perspective, Mr. Chair, on what is happening here. This comes from my teacher, my hero, my mother. She put out a simple Facebook post, and it said this: I was one of the mothers who had to watch their kids go away for work because there was no economic development in Goose Bay in Lake Melville. She said: How can people simply say that it is okay to go off to Alberta and tear up Alberta for big bucks, Mr. Chair, and that it is not okay to make the same decisions, the hard, tough decisions that we do as a government every day, to do that in our own backyard close to home among family, among friends, to have the indirect economic spinoff happen right there at home?

She hopes things are going to be better for the next generation, Mr. Chair. I tell you what, under the vision and the direction and the leadership of our Premier and this government, things will be better for the next generation. I guarantee it, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RUSSELL: I have a couple of minutes left, Mr. Chair. I would just like to clear up something too. You would think by all of the lovely things that the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair says about me that she really hates me, Mr. Chair. You would think that by hearing that in the House. You would think that.

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair, on a point of order.

MS JONES: Mr. Chair, I take offence to the Member for Lake Melville accusing me of hating members of the House of Assembly. It is so far from the truth, Mr. Chair. I have no issue with the gentleman opposite. He has a job to do here; I respect him for doing the job on behalf of his constituents.

CHAIR: No point of order there.

The hon. the Member for Lake Melville.

MR. RUSSELL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I said you would think. That is what I said, and Hansard will reflect that, Mr. Chair. You would think that she does.

I say it is to the contrary because the last time at the Relay for Life up in Goose Bay who was the one who would seek me out and give me the big, sloppy wet kiss right in front of everybody. That was the hon. Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

MS JONES: A point of order.

CHAIR: The Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair, on a point of order.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The animation is really sweet. I think the member is confusing a gesture of kindness and hello with big, sloppy kisses. Give me a break, Mr. Chair. I would not flatter myself too much if I was the member opposite.

CHAIR: There is no point of order there.

I recognize the Member for Lake Melville.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Chair, I have about a minute and forty-five seconds left. I will just tell you this, that does not shock me at all. What you are seeing over there, Mr. Chair, is pure theatre.

That did not shock me at all, because I tell you what, Mr. Chair: you can question my integrity all day. You can do that all day. What you have in this theatre over here that is the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair is nothing more than a washed-up actress, honey. I tell you that. That is it, Mr. Chair. That is it, an opportunist, Mr. Chair –

MS JONES: A point of order.

CHAIR: The Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair, on a point of order.

MS JONES: Mr. Chair, the comments by the member opposite are unparliamentary, as you well know. I ask that you reflect on them in Hansard, you reflect on the context to which the member is using them. Under our parliamentary rules, Mr. Chair, that is not acceptable language to indicate such of another Member of the House of Assembly. Our Standing Orders will show that, and I ask that you make a ruling on it.

MR. BRAZIL: The Member for Lake Melville.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Chair, I unequivocally withdraw the comment. Thank you very much.

So, basically my point was, Mr. Chair, it is not to get anybody's knickers in a bunch any more than they already are, but to just say to the people at home: You have to know what you are seeing here. If we have a bogeyman factory across the way that is simply making chaos and creating controversy where there is none to satisfy her own political agenda, and her own little motives, the people at home see it, I see it, we know what is happening here, Mr. Chair.

Thank you very much.

CHAIR: Order, please!

Your time has expired.

The Chair recognizes the Member for Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi.

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

I am really glad to get an opportunity today to speak to Bill 61. I think this is my first time getting up on Thursday. We had a long, long Tuesday; I got up many times on the double Tuesday. It is my first time getting up on Thursday, and I am happy to have a chance to speak a bit more to this bill.

Before speaking specifically, there is a couple of pieces I want to speak specifically to. I want to make a couple of general comments first. Earlier today I heard the Minister of Natural Resources comment on the fact that he thought that I really want Muskrat Falls to fail. I have heard that a few other times from government members as well, but today it was specifically the Minister of Natural Resources.

I do not think the government is getting it. I would be crazy to say that when and if this project goes ahead that I want it to fail. This is a project that is going to take, I believe, up to $9 billion out of the pockets of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. The government likes to point out to us that the people own Nalcor. They own Nalcor. They do not have anything to say about Nalcor. They have no decision making about Nalcor. Their opinion about the process – for example, 69 per cent of the people in the Province saying in a poll that they believe that Muskrat Falls Project should go to the PUB to be studied by our regulator. So, the government may talk about them owning Nalcor, and Nalcor belongs to the people, but the people have no say about Nalcor – no say whatsoever.

When I hear the government side saying that I want Muskrat Falls to fail, they must think I am crazy. This is something, as I just said, that will take $9 billion at least, I am positive, and it will be paid for by the people of the Province – absolutely paid for by the people of the Province. When and if this goes ahead, I hope and I would like to think it is not going to fail. I am terrified it is going to fail. It is not that I want it to. It is that it has not been shown to me that this is a sure thing.

Here we are getting into a project when 40 per cent of the energy being produced, there is no contract related to it. We are not sure where 40 per cent of energy is going to be used in 2017 if it all starts rolling off in 2017. We do not know where 40 per cent of the energy is going to be used. We have hopes. There are ideas. They think they know where it can happen, but they do not know for sure. They do not know for sure that in 2017 there is going to be a market to the south of us in the US and the Eastern Seaboard because of the changing face of what is happening in the United States with regard to energy – changing rapidly and changing almost as we sit in this House.

We have heard over and over again the reasons for the changes. We put out the information that is coming from the industry, the fact that by 2022, the United States is going to be exporting oil and that they are going to be self-sufficient. The facts out there that keep coming every day terrify me when I look at the future and when I hear the government say: 40 per cent of the energy is not targeted; we could probably sell it on the spot market when the time comes. We have no idea what it is going to be like. We have some ideas. The industry is giving us a lot of ideas, and the ideas are making me say: we have no idea how bad it could be for us in terms of selling the 40 percent.

Then they are saying: well, if we cannot sell it on the spot market or if we sell it there first, we can always send it and sell it to the mining industry in Labrador. We know from the analysis their own expert has done that there is not going to be that much more activity by 2017. While there may be a market there down the road, it will not be in 2017. You will have a bit more activity in 2017, but not enough to take the 40 per cent.

So, when I look at a project of this size, $9 billion, and with these ifs that are out there, these hopes that are out there, I find it really hard to understand how they are not terrified. I am. It is not that I want it to fail. I hope for the sake of the people in this Province, I hope for the sake of our being able to have programs that people need in this Province, I hope for the sake of the people who are going to be paying much higher prices for electricity, I hope beyond hope that I am going to be proven absolutely wrong and that by 2020, please goodness, somebody is going to be able to say: well, Lorraine, it worked out okay.

At this moment the questions that I have are not just my questions. They are not just the questions of the five of us who are elected in this House. They are the questions of thousands of people. They are the questions of experts out there, of economists out there. I meet with economists, too; they are not the only ones who meet with economists. The economists I meet with have a lot of questions and fears about this project. You talk to somebody and read the writings of somebody like Tom Adams, an expert in the field. He cannot see it working.

I do not want it to fail. I am terrified it is going to fail. They have not proven to me yet that I am wrong on that. The questions are still so great that I do not understand why this government has rushed this project so much. I know I have heard it said, on the government side: oh, you know, Muskrat Falls has been in the books since 1972. No, no; Lower Churchill was, and Lower Churchill is what they had in their Energy Plan, with a reference to Muskrat Falls being part of the Lower Churchill picture. It was not that Muskrat Falls was the picture; it was the Lower Churchill that was in their Energy Plan.

Mr. Chair, when I look at how fast the decision was made from 2007, between 2007 and 2010, all of a sudden it was Muskrat Falls. That is when Nalcor was formed. We are talking about a very short –Nalcor is from back in 2007, but we had a very short period of time from the formation of Nalcor to all of a sudden having this project in place. As I have said before, we did not do a big enough look at all the possibilities that are out there for an integrated system, not a system based on one hydroelectric project.

No, I do not want it to fail. I hope against hope I am going to be wrong and things will happen that will make it successful. I also find it hard in this day and age with all the alternatives that are being looked at, with everything that is going on in this world, that we can be so confident that the decision we are making to put all our eggs in the basket of just hydroelectricity is going to work. It does not make sense to me.

I know that the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair has made reference, and I really liked her reference, to how things change and what things were like fifty years ago, or when she was born – no, that was twenty-nine years ago, was it, yes – and now, how fast things change in our world. It is impossible for us to imagine what it is going to be like in fifty years time, or what it is going to be like in thirty years time, or twenty years time.

I am horrified by the speed with which all this has happened and how they are ramming things through, ramming the legislature through, making things happen, having Emera make decisions to sanction before they were going to do it, just ramming things through to meet their deadline. They have not yet explained that to us.

I asked a question in this House yesterday sometime about the timeline. Where is the imperative coming from to get decisions made here in this House in this week, the week before one of the biggest holiday seasons in our society? Where is that imperative coming from? I asked the question, I put out the fact that I have read all the documentation, and nowhere do I see a deadline. Nobody has answered.

I am terrified, Mr. Chair, that is what it is. It is not that I want it to fail. I am terrified with the speed; I am terrified with the way in which we are being asked to make decisions, having had these documents in our hands for such a short period of time. I am terrified that we not make a mistake like the one they led over Abitibi and the mill, where just a little wrong number in a latitude and longitude definition helped this Province buy a mill they did not want to have. No, I do not want it to fail; I want us to slow down so it will not fail.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The Chair recognizes the hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Mr. Chair, I am particularly pleased to rise today. I want to respond to comments of the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair with respect to consultation with the NunatuKavut community. She made some comments that the level of consultation was lacking and that she did not think the proper consultations had been carried out.

Mr. Chair, we have an official Aboriginal consultation policy that will be rolled out in February of this year. Hopefully all the information is in and the response back from all the Aboriginal groups and industry in the Province. In the meantime, Mr. Chair, we still use the guidelines of that policy for our consultation, because development is ongoing in Labrador, so we have to consult with Aboriginal groups who have assorted land claims that they feel are being affected by the development.

Mr. Chair, let me tell you this: the provincial government has met and continues to meet all the obligations regarding consultation with the NunatuKavut Community. We have consulted the NCC on the Lower Churchill Generation Project. We have consulted them on the Labrador-Island Transmission Link Project. We have consulted them on all permits related to the generation project since it has been released from the EA process.

Mr. Chair, all the Lower Churchill project information and documentation provided to other Aboriginal groups, such as the Labrador Innu, has been provided to the NCC. The NCC has partnered with Nalcor Energy and the Innu Nation and the Nunatsiavut Government on the Labrador Aboriginal Training Partnership, creating employment for over one hundred clients of the NunatuKavut Community Council. Like the other people of Aboriginal descent in Labrador, Mr. Chair, the NCC will benefit from the Labrador-first hiring policy, and the diversity plan components of the Lower Churchill construction project's benefits strategy.

Now, Mr. Chair, the NCC has been asserting a land claim in Labrador for over twenty years. During that time, significant federal funding has been provided to them to conduct research to support their claim. That claim has not been accepted by the federal government. Now, Mr. Chair, the NCC is looking for an IBA with Nalcor, but in the absence of an asserted land claim, Mr. Chair, IBA is not a requirement of this government. It is not a requirement of this government; it is simply between the proponent and the Aboriginal groups. By their very nature, the Impacts and Benefits Agreements, Mr. Chair, are designed to provide benefits to help compensate and offset any negative impacts on their asserted claims, but they do not have a recognized claim, so an IBA is not in the works right now.

Now, Mr. Chair, the Joint Review Panel found, during their hearings, the Muskrat Falls Project, if developed as proposed, would have no significant effects on the NCC. It concluded many land and resource uses locations reported and frequented by the NunatuKavut Community Council are outside the project area and will remain unaffected by the project.

Mr. Chair, I also want to say that in two Supreme Court decisions – in the first Supreme Court decision where the NunatuKavut Community Council applied for an injunction to prevent the Joint Review Panel from holding public hearings because they claim they were not properly consulted.

Here is what the decision of the court said. This is Chief Justice – I forget his name, which chief justice it was. This is his decision.

"First of all, I do not accept that Nunatukavut was not consulted appropriately. Perhaps more could have been done to hear and address their concerns but I cannot say what it would have been. I am not sure how much funding was actually allotted…" to them "…but I do know that Nunatukavut received more than $2,000,000 to research and write ‘Unveiling Nunatukavut', its land claim document, which it did present to the JRP. My review of the massive amount of documents filed for this application indicates that Nunatukavut was involved at each stage of the EA process starting when the Project was registered and continuing until public hearings began four years later. It was accommodated to the extent that was appropriate and participated as fully as it wished."

Mr. Chair, then another Supreme Court decision lately on the application for the injunction of the roadway going into Muskrat Falls where the injunction was granted to Nalcor, here is what the court said. "From the facts shown above, it can be seen that the honour of the Crown has been fulfilled in its dealing with the NCC in respect of the Generation Project right up through Phase V and the Approval Guidelines and their implementation. The honour of the Crown does not require that the consultation be perfect; it must be conducted in good faith and it must be meaningful. The consultations here have been both."

Mr. Chair, that is the Supreme Court. The Crown has fulfilled, continues to fulfill, and will continue to fulfill its obligations in respect to consultation with NunatuKavut Community Council. I just want to make that clear for the record.

Mr. Chair, I also want to take the opportunity to say a few more words on Bill 61. I listened today, and I have listened several days, to the Minister of Natural Resources rise in this House time after time and repeat time after time the rationale for the Muskrat Falls Project. He talked about the options and how the options have been ruled out. I heard the Minister of Finance talk several times with clarity and conciseness of the financial arrangements for Muskrat Falls.

Mr. Chair, it could not be done with any more precision or any more information. They have pulled out fact after fact, yet the other side refuses to accept them. You only can come to one conclusion, Mr. Chair. They do not want to hear the answers. They did not come here looking for answers. Obviously, the Third Party certainly did not. They came here for other reasons. I do not know what they were, they must be political.

They did not come here to engage in constructive debate because the answers have been given time after time, yet the other side keeps putting up their experts, whoever they are. They keep quiet on their expert studies and whatnot. The Leader says she is terrified that it is going to fail. Terrified it is going to fail. We are not terrified, Mr. Chair, we are confident that it is going to succeed because we have done our homework with the best people in the world that we could use. So, we are not terrified at all.

Mr. Chair, I was terrified last night. I went to bed terrified waiting for the Apocalypse, for the Armageddon that I mentioned last night because the gloom and doom, the end of the world was coming from the speakers on the other side, but I woke up this morning and got the newspaper. I received some comfort, I was lifted again.

Right on the front page, Mr. Chair, the Amazing Kreskin, who has preformed numerous times in Newfoundland, says predictions that the world will end Friday are wrong and that many of the alarmist spreading hype about the Mayan calendar's prognostication for planetary doom are phonies. Mr. Chair, I take some comfort in the fact that the world is not going to end tomorrow. From that, we will probably be able to carry on in this House.

Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity to speak.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I am glad to get up again so soon because I want to continue the thought that I had started in talking about Muskrat Falls and my concerns. I want to pick up on the theme of something else that the government has been saying. I think it was the Member for Labrador West who today has been saying it a lot, and that is the thing that the people own Nalcor. That is a theme that has been coming from government over and over.

Yes, it is a Crown corporation. In that sense the people do own it, but as I said ten minutes ago, the people do not have much say about what happens there. One of the ways in which the people could have a say or feel like they would have a say, Mr. Chair, is if there is an open and transparent process with regard to Muskrat Falls.

One of my big concerns about the project is the fact that there has been a shutting off by the government of the Public Utilities Board with regard to Muskrat Falls. This has been problematic. I have expressed it and I will continue to express the fact that I do not believe government should have shut out the Public Utilities Board after what happened at the point in time in which the government asked for a decision from the Public Utilities Board in a very premature way. It was long before the project was in its final state, and to ask the Public Utilities Board to make a decision about the project at the DG2 stage made no sense. Government set up the situation that became very problematic. The fact that the project was taken out from under the scrutiny of our regulatory body will always be problematic.

When I look at Bill 61, I do see the section, section 2, which has an amendment in a section of the Electrical Power Control Act. The language is very interesting and I want to speak to it, because I am hoping that either the Minister of Natural Resources or the Premier or the Minister of Finance might be able to give me a better understanding of what the new section 5.1, which will be in the Electrical Power Control Act, what this new section will mean because the language is very interesting.

Last week, in Question Period, I asked the Minister of Natural Resources actually with regard to the role of the Public Utilities Board and Muskrat Falls. The minister said there is still a role. We did not have this legislation in our hand then. I was looking forward to getting the legislation. He said, in response to my question last week: There is still be a role for the Public Utilities Board with Muskrat Falls, but it will not be the same role as they would otherwise have. That is a direct quote from what the Minister of Natural Resources said.

I asked him to clarify and tell me what this role of PUB in relationship to Muskrat Falls would be. He really did not answer the question, but I think he may have made reference to there is legislation coming. I presume what I have in my hand is the legislation.

When I looked at this new section, as I said a minute ago, I find the language very interesting because what it says – and I will not read out everything – "for the purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may direct the public utilities board…." I will not naysay all of the things that it may direct it to first. I want to look at the words may direct.

We had a discussion somewhere over the last forty-eight, plus twelve – so how much is that? Sixty hours. We have had a discussion about language. Actually, this may have happened last week during the discussion of Bill 53 – it did. There was discussion over the use of whether or not "should" or "shall" would be the best word in a clause. I think that the Opposition House Leader was proposing an amendment from should to shall. I do not think the government accepted that amendment, so it did not happen.

Now I am looking at this language here which says the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may direct the Public Utilities Board basically to exercise powers. That says to me it is not going to be automatic; it may direct. If the Public Utilities Board is not directed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council to do the things that are outlined here, then my question is: Who does it? That is what I would like an answer to.

The implication here is that government can choose to have the Public Utilities Board develop the policies, procedures, and directives that are required with regard to electrical power or the government could choose to do it in another way. I need an explanation with regard to this legislation of if the Public Utilities Board is not going to do it, who would do it? Who would, for example, implement the policies, procedures, and directives respecting the exercise of powers and the performance of the duties of the Public Utilities Board if they do not do it?

Who, for example, would look at the rates that are going to be paid for Muskrat Falls if it is not the Public Utilities Board? If the Lieutenant-Governor in Council – which for laypeople who are listening to us today means the government. If the Lieutenant-Governor in Council does not direct the PUB to do it, then who is going to do it?

Does it mean that Nalcor and the government together are going to be the ones that are going to be looking at things like the annual rate of return of the utility? Does it mean that Nalcor and the government are going to be looking at whether or not public hearings are going to be held at various times? Public hearings which in actual fact the Public Utilities Board does automatically which does give people a sense of ownership of their utility.

If the PUB does not do it, are government and Nalcor going to be looking at the cost, the expenses, and the allowances that are to be included in the rates? Or does government make a decision either-or? This is what I need clarification on because the word "may" is deliberately used. We all know a document like this, a bill which is going to become legislation and which is the ultimate piece of direction that exists in our system – we always go to our legislation to see what it says – is written very carefully. Every word is chosen carefully, I hope. As has been pointed out by people on the government side, it took a long time to put these pieces together. I am sure it did. It should have. If it did not, I would be very upset.

I want qualification on what they mean when they say the government may direct. If they do not direct, if the Lieutenant-Governor in Council does not direct the PUB, who does? Who performs all of this stuff that normally is done by the PUB? This is what the PUB would do for any other utility. This is what the PUB would do as part of its mandate. Why is it that government may do it?

It then goes on to say: "The public utilities board shall implement the policies, procedures and directives of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council as directed under…" this section I have been referring to. I take this stuff very seriously. Every single word in this is important. The need of the PUB to be involved is serious.

The government said, and the Minister of Natural Resources said in response to me in Question Period, the implication is: they are still there. They are still there, but they are there with a caveat. They are there with a limitation. It seems to me they are not there automatically. It is going to be in the hands of government whether or not they direct the Public Utilities Board to implement the policies, procedures, and directives with regard to the Muskrat Falls Project. I will be happy to hear at least some minister stand who knows the legislation well to give me a better understanding of my interpretation of the word may.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The Chair recognizes the hon. the Minister of Finance, President of Treasury Board, and Attorney General.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Government decided last Monday to sanction this project. We are debating here tonight two pieces of legislation which are needed for the project to go to the next step: number one, to enable the government to obtain the land for the transmission links; and number two, to allow government to proceed to arrange the financing or let Nalcor to proceed to arrange its financing for this particular project.

We are not doing the Muskrat Falls Project because we want to do a big project. Nobody takes on a project of this size unless there is a darn good reason for doing it.

As hon. members know, and I think the people watching out there know, we have a great number of hydroelectric projects throughout the Province. We have a thermal, I am thinking of places like – I wrote them all down here and lost the list already, but I can think of Cat Arm, Rattle Brook, the Upper Salmon, Paradise River, and, of course, the one in St. Alban's – quick, help me out here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MARSHALL: Bay d'Espoir, of course. We also have the thermal generating plant at Holyrood, which also produces electricity, but does it by burning of oil instead of using water to turn the turbines to create electricity.

Each of those projects are all handled the same way. It was the same for telephone monopolies. It was same for light and power monopolies and it was the same for cable television stations in that the rates that are charged are regulated. The rates that the users have to pay – because it is the users who pay for the project; I hear hon. members in this House saying the people, the ratepayers are going to have to pay for Muskrat Falls. Yes, they will; the same way they are paying for every other hydroelectric project or thermal generating project in the Province.

The people who use the power from a project are the ones who pay for it, and they pay for all of the cost – all of the cost. They pay for the cost of construction. It is my understanding, the way this works is normally there might even be some bank lending, some back credits made available while construction goes on; when the construction is finished and the project is ready to go, the amount of the interim funding and the interest on the debt during construction are capitalized and they are refinanced in a new loan or a new bond, which is usually spread out for the life of the project.

Most people, I think, when they get a mortgage, will get a twenty or twenty-five-year mortgage, so a project of this size, it is certainly not unusual to see a project like a hydroelectric project to go on for thirty-five or forty or fifty years when an ordinary residential home would go on for twenty-five or thirty years.

Mr. Chair, the people pay for these costs. The ratepayers pay for the cost in every one of these projects. That is the way that it works. They also pay for the cost of operation. They also pay for a guaranteed rate of return, which is given to the developer, it is given to the proponent, and that is where the proponent gets a profit. That is why people in the past that have done these types of projects have made a lot of money. Because it is a guaranteed return on the assets of the project for many years. We have seen how this has helped people in the private sector and how firms have done very, very well and have grown because of that. Guaranteed rate of return, Mr. Chair, nothing like it.

So, why don't we do something that will give that rate of return to the people of the Province? Yes, the people will have to pay as ratepayers, but as owners of the project they then get it back at the other end. They will get back the profits. They will get back the return, which can be used for their benefit. Either to put it back into the hydro facility to allow the rates to be lower, which is an option of government, and is something that this government has done on a number of occasions; or, the government, the elected representatives of the people of the day, will use those revenues to maybe build hospitals or build schools or finance programs that the people of the Province would like to see.

That will be a decision made by the government of the day. Muskrat Falls will not be built until 2017. That is when the revenues will start to flow. They will go into the government then, and the government then will determine what is going to happen to the revenues. The suggestion of the Member for St. John's South – I have sympathy for that suggestion that the money go back to deal with rates, but the government may have more important priorities. They may want to build hospitals and they may want to build extensions to hospitals. They may want to build long-term care facilities or put the money into health care for seniors. That is a decision that government will make.

I think the Member for St. John's South expressed a concern about the cost, and the fact that the ratepayers pay the cost. I have heard the Leader of the Opposition say: Oh, the people have to pay the cost of Muskrat Falls. They pay the cost of any project, whichever one we are going to go to, they are going to pay, and they are going to pay the rate of return on it. So, the smart thing to do is to go with the project that is the cheapest cost.

So, what has happened here, we have two problems. Problem number one is that rates have been going up without Muskrat Falls. They have been going up for the past ten years, and they are going to continue to go up because the price of oil at Holyrood has been driving up prices of electricity. We need more electricity. If we do not build something new, where is it going to come from? It is going to come from Holyrood, so you are going to be churning up Holyrood, burning more oil at Holyrood, driving the cost up even more. We need more power on the Island. We need more power in Labrador.

So we have to do a project, and they have looked at the alternatives. They are mandated by the law; Hydro is mandated by the law to determine, what are our needs? Do we need more power, and if we need more power what is the cheapest alternative? It is not just about Muskrat Falls. This is their legislative mandate. They do this all the time. They have been doing it for many, many years.

You look at the alternatives, and because the people have to pay for it, because the people have to pay the cost of construction, because the people have to pay the cost of operation in the rates they pay, because they have to pay a guaranteed rate of return, then you have to make sure that the project you build is the cheapest one. Muskrat Falls based on the analysis of Nalcor and based on the analysis of MHI, Muskrat Falls is $2.4 billion cheaper than the other alternative. So obviously you are going to do that one, are you not?

If we are concerned about the ratepayer, and we all are, then you want to make sure that the project will meet your needs is the one – obviously, you want it to have a safe and reliable source of supply. You want to make sure it makes environmental sense, but to me you want the one that is going to cost the people the less money, the less rates, and Muskrat Falls is $2.4 billion lower.

The people will pay the rates. They will cover the cost of the project, as they said. Then on the other end, that money will pay the financing. It will pay the cost of operations, and then Nalcor will have a profit. Nalcor will then pay a dividend from that profit to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, which will use the money to pay off the loan that it is taking out to put in its equity contribution.

I have said what those numbers should be. The Member for Bay of Islands was talking about the rates, Nalcor will still set the rates but the cost – not Nalcor, I am sorry. The PUB will still set the rates, but the cost will be covered – the PUB will have to accept the cost of the project, just as is happening with all of the other projects right now.

The people will pay the rates, but the difference – because the people will own the company and the people will decide as shareholders who are going to run that company, who is going to be in the board of that company, and the board of the company is going to decide who is going to be the Chair and who are going to be the officers, and then the money will come back to the government of the people.

The government can then take that money and give it back to the people in different ways that the government, the elected representatives considers appropriate, and that is the difference. It will go back to the people. The rates will be the lowest of any potential project out there. Rather than let the private sector do it and let the money go to their shareholders, the money that is paid will turn and go back to the government of the day and the government of the day will decide on how that money will go back to the people.

Governments do not keep the money. We do not keep the revenues that come in. It all goes back to the people of the Province, and I think that is the important thing. You want the project that will give you safe and reliable energy, that will give you the lowest rates – the one that will give you the lowest rates – and Muskrat Falls is $2.4 billion cheaper than the alternative. We have the benefit of the federal government loan guarantee. Whatever excess that is there, that covers the cost, covers the financing, and goes back to the government, will then be returned to the people in services. That is a very good thing, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR (Littlejohn): The hon. the Member for St. John's South.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I thank the Minister of Finance for his comments. I understand what is happening here. I understand what government is doing. We are in a period where there are declining oil revenues. We have seen the provincial budget almost double in the last ten years, so we are at a stage where we have declining oil revenues and the budget, as it is right now, is not sustainable. Obviously, they have to come up with a source of revenue.

I understand that. I think most members of the House understand that is part of what is behind this particular proposal. By the people of the Province paying 100 per cent of the cost to the project, getting 40 per cent of the energy, 40 per cent of the energy is sold on the open market, whether it is to the mining companies in Labrador, or to the Maritimes, or to the United States. The other 40 per cent of the energy – because Emera owns 20 per cent of the energy, at least for thirty-five years, I believe it is – is going to be sold. Essentially, government is collecting on that 40 per cent twice.

Just for greater clarity – and I am not going to take up a great deal of time here – I say to the Minister of Finance: I am not suggesting that all of that revenue for that 40 per cent that is sold on the market go into rates. What I am suggesting is that the rates that were shown on the rate calculator – because that is part of how Nalcor sold the project, it is part of how government sold the project – the people out there have an expectation that the rates are going to be what the rate calculator proposed.

What I am suggesting is that government, Nalcor, guarantee the rates that were shown on that rate calculator are what people are going to pay. That is what they were told they were going to pay. There is an expectation that is what they are going to pay. If there are cost overruns, or for whatever other reason Nalcor has a need for the ratepayers to pay more money over and above what the rate calculator shows, I am suggesting that the excess revenue from the excess power that is sold either to the mining companies or to the Maritimes or the United States, part of that goes to ensuring that the rates are as the rate calculator said they would be. The rest of it can go to government revenue, because obviously government is going to need to continue to provide schools, roads, hospitals, or drugs, or they are going to have to make cuts.

I understand that government needs to replace some of the lost revenue from declining oil revenues. What I am suggesting, I say to the Minister of Finance, is that the rates that people were told, the ratepayers were told they would have to pay on the rate calculator, that those rates be guaranteed. That is where I am coming from on it.

I understand the government needs additional revenue. I accept that. The rates that ratepayers were told they would have to pay should be guaranteed. If there is excess revenue from excess power sales, that should go first and foremost to ensuring that the rates are what people were told they were going to be paying. The rest of it can go to government revenue.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I appreciate the comments of the Member for St. John's South, but that is a decision that will be made by the government of the day. It is a decision that they could make if they saw fit to do so, if that was a priority of that government.

Mr. Chair, I have heard some comments – I heard it from the Member for Bay of Islands, the Member for St. John's South – that 40 per cent of the power would go to the Island. You have to remember from our remarks previously that we are looking at: what is the problem we have to solve? The problem we have to solve is to be able to stop producing electricity at Holyrood, replace it, and also provide us with the additional power that is needed on the Island.

That is estimated at 40 per cent, to replace Holyrood, shut down Holyrood. We stop making electricity by burning oil, and that provides us with the additional power that we are going to need. The Minister of Natural Resources has from time to time talked about the bigger homes and all the electrical appliances that people have, and the fact that at one point it was 50-50 homes that were heated by oil and the rest were heated by electricity. Now I think it is 86 per cent of new homes are going with electricity. We have more need of power on the Island.

With respect to Emera, 20 per cent of the power is going to Emera. The return really is a purchase of the link. Emera is going to build the link; people of Nova Scotia will pay for that as part of their bills. For the 20 per cent, the government can send down that Maritime Link, on a priority basis, the other 40 per cent that it has for export – if it has it for export – and acquire the Maritime Link over thirty-five years.

Mr. Chair, that 40 per cent, that additional 40 per cent that is not coming to the Island for use on the Island, we expect that most of that 40 per cent will be taken up in Labrador, will be used as a catalyst for economic growth in Labrador, or on the Island – especially the mining sector in Labrador. We have talked and other members have talked about the report from Dr. Wade Locke on the outlook for investment in the Labrador Trough – the talk about $10 to $15 billion over the next ten years.

The Muskrat Falls Project, when you looked at the different costs and the current present worth, and when you were looking at where are we going to get our new power from, how are we going to solve the problem, what is the project, and you look at the different alternatives to provide you with the new power you need and the replacement of Holyrood, Muskrat Falls was the cheapest alternative, if you are only using 40 per cent of the power. If that is all that was needed on the Island, 40 per cent, it was still the lowest-cost option, even with the rest of the power not being produced. In other words, the water would be allowed to go down the river.

So, what is happening with the Maritime Link is that it is giving us an option to monetize that power. So instead of letting the water flow down the river and not produce it, it is enabling us to monetize that power, and at least get some money for it. That power would be sold if it is not needed in Labrador. It will be sold on the spot market, which means it can be sold in Nova Scotia, it can be sold in New Brunswick, it can be sold in Prince Edward Island, or it can be sold in the United States.

I expect that most of it will probably be sold in Atlantic Canada, but at least we will have the option and the right and the prior transmission rights from Emera, because Emera can have transmission rights through Nova Scotia through New Brunswick and into the US. They will assign those rights to Nalcor. Nalcor will have priority rights and will only have to pay for that transmission when they are sending the power down. They will not have to sign a take it or leave it type of contract, where you sign to take it all year long. They will only have to pay for it when they are actually using it. So that will monetize the surplus power; but, if you could not monetize it, the Muskrat Falls Project, with 60 per cent of the power not being produced, is still the cheapest option for the people of the Province.

The Member for Bay of Islands asked: How much will we sell if for to Nova Scotia on the spot market? Well, we do not know what the spot market prices will be. They will change. Spot markets change by the hour, if not early, every minute. There is no way we can control what the markets are in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick or the US. The same way when a fisherman has a surplus of fish, or we have a surplus of newsprint and we try to sell it in markets all over the world, you cannot control those markets. You take advantage of the best ones you can.

What it will do for us, again, it will enable us to monetize the power if we do not need it. Hopefully, we will need it, that it will be used in Labrador. It can be used on the Island to create jobs, to be a catalyst for industry. If that is the case, it will be used up.

Then there will be other opportunities, the three hydro projects on the Island. I mentioned three. I was criticized for saying there were only three, but there are three that I am aware of, 77 megawatts of power – and with all the wind, people can take advantage of that and construct those projects. Then those projects can be exported down that Maritime Link to export markets.

Mr. Chair, this is the lowest cost to the people of the Province. It will be the lowest rates. The rates will be set by the PUB. People will pay the cost, as they do in all the other projects. The other projects are at different costs. Holyrood is the most expensive.

The minister today said Holyrood power is fifteen to twenty cents, and I understand that is the most expensive project. That is the highest cost power on the Island, and we pay a blended rate. The rate is blended because we are all taking advantage of the power. The Muskrat Falls power, when it is produced, will also be part of the blended rate to the people who use that power.

Mr. Chair, I had spoken earlier of the other advantages, the fact that it will finally put us in a position where we control our energy, our electricity, by owning the facility. We will get off oil. We will stop having to import high cost oil from countries around the world and we will stop being controlled by them.

The advantages I mentioned earlier today of being connected for the first time to the national grid. If there is ever an east-west grid, if the governments of the provinces and the federal government can ever come in with a national energy policy and a national grid, that we can export our power right across the country.

We know that there are opportunities in Ontario. We know Ontario does not want to go nuclear. As was said earlier today, things can change very quickly and we have to move because opportunities present themselves. If we are not in a position to take advantage of it, Ontario could go nuclear and then those markets are lost.

Again, we must always remember that this Muskrat Falls Project, as I said when I started my remarks, we are not doing it to build a legacy. We are not doing it because we want to build a big project. We are doing it to solve the problem. The problem is we are going to shut down Holyrood because the costs are too high. We are going to shut down Holyrood because it is an environmental monster that should be shut down. We need power for economic activity in Labrador and we need more power on the Island. That is essentially the problem.

It is not being built to export to the US. That was not the intention of Muskrat Falls. The Upper Churchill was built to export the power. Gull Island someday will be built to export the power and make money. This was to meet the needs of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and because it was initially thought there was going to be a surplus, we said rather than let that power go to the sea, or let the water go to the sea and not produce power, let's try to at least monetize it and get some money for it because it is better to get something for it rather than getting zero for it.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Bay of Islands.

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I rise again to have a few words on this. I heard the minister's comments and the more that I hear the comments the more and more I get confused. This is why we need this debate and too bad that we could not have this well before Christmas because it is of such importance.

I go back on the day where four or five times I asked the minister, and I asked again today: What will be the rates paid by the Newfoundlanders and Labradorians on their monthly bill? I still cannot get an answer. Here is the interesting part. The minister stands up when he is answering the question, Mr. Chair, but we are going to make this amount of money. Yet today, he just admitted that he does not know what he is going to get for the power being sold on the spot market, but we know how much profit we are going to make.

It just does not make sense. It honestly does not make sense. You can stand up and say that we are going to make this amount of profit – and the minister said today in questions I asked earlier today we are going to make $20 billion over fifty years, possibly $24 billion if we sell it on the US market. Then, he turns around and says most of it is going to be used in Labrador. So we cannot use the $24 billion. It is so contradictory –

MR. MARSHALL: So, we will have to make do with the $20 billion (inaudible).

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Chair, the minister is saying you have to make do with the $20 billion, but you do not know what the spot market is; you do not know what you are going to charge the ratepayers who are paying 100 per cent of the profits which are Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. You cannot tell them what they are going to pay. We can tell you we are going to make a profit, but you cannot say how much they are going to charge. It just does not make sense.

I say to the minister when you mentioned telephone monopolies and cable monopolies – and this is something I was not going to get into until later. You have to remember we have competition now in this Province. Competition has the prices lower.

What you have just done with fifty-five years of monopoly for Nalcor, with 55 per cent for Nalcor here, Mr. Chair – with the monopoly for Nalcor for fifty-five years, there cannot be any competition. Nalcor's price has to stay up to pay for this project. If there is any new technology in Canada or in this world that come in we cannot bring it in because we have to keep this price up here because we have to pay for the project – the time is in for fifty-five years.

If you look back in fifty-five years, just a few advances – BlackBerrys, when we were growing up, are what we used to eat. Now, Mr. Chair, it is what we are using to send the messages all around the world. We used to eat them. Mr. Chair, something used in this House a lot is Tweets. The only time I used to hear Tweets was little birds flying up in the trees, but now there are Tweets all around the world. That is the technology.

My fear, Mr. Chair, with all this is that all this technology coming in my lifetime, but for my lifetime on until I am buried sometime – my lifetime that I am 110, fifty-five more years, there cannot be any more technology brought in to Newfoundland and Labrador. It cannot be brought in to Newfoundland and Labrador. Those are just some of the things.

First thing, I go back nineteen, twenty years ago the great thing that we all enjoyed twenty years ago. Do you know what it was to get information back and forth? Fax machines. Twenty years ago the big technology in the offices that we had was that we could put something on the fax, you can get it in here in St. John's and that was great. Then a few years later all of a sudden all of the e-mails steps in, then all of a sudden all the BlackBerry steps in, now all the Tweets are stepping in. That is just in the last couple of years.

Yet if we are going to isolate ourselves for fifty-five years and we do not allow any of this technology to come in, I really think it is a gross injustice to the people of this Province. I honestly feel it is. That you are tying us into something for this agreement for fifty-five years that you cannot allow any monopoly, cannot allow any new technology. So, I guess the minister's budget for Innovation, Business and Rural Development is going to be cut for any new technologies that we are going to look at now for energy in this Province. You do not need it. Take the budget out, boom – not that you did much with it anyway. You had $256 million in a fund from Ottawa, the immigration fund, Mr. Chair. Guess how many projects we used for hydroelectricity in this Province? Take a guess: how many, Mr. Chair? Not one. We lost $5 million the first five years. So, that is the kind of thing that we are closing off.

I just heard the minister – I was shocked, actually. If people in this Province ever want to know why we are asking questions, if you ever want to know, the Minister of Finance – and we all assume that the Minister of Finance is one of the powerful people in government, in Newfoundland, one of the most powerful people in this government.

For the Minister of Finance to stand up in this House – and I have the legislation, and if he needs a copy I will bring it over to him, and I will even highlight it for him. If the Minister of Finance is standing up in this House and telling the people of this Province that the PUB is setting the rates, to me, Mr. Chair, it does not fly with the bill that you are bringing forth. It does not fly with the bill you are bringing forth, Mr. Chair.

So, if the Minister of Finance, the second most powerful person in this government, is telling the people of this Province – you want to know why we need to go through this piece by piece? Either the minister is making a mistake – I will give the minister ample time later to stand up and say: I was misquoted, I forgot what I was saying, I am tired. It is up to him; but for him to say that the PUB is setting the rates for Muskrat Falls flies in the face of this legislation we are discussing now – flies totally in the face. I know anybody – and Minister, I am going to get the Hansard, because I could not believe what the Minister of Finance was saying. I just could not believe it, Mr. Chair, what he was saying.

If you go back, Mr. Chair, 5.1, what they are adding in this new legislation – 5.1, I will say to the Minister of Finance, if you got time to read it after, look at: "Notwithstanding a provision of this Act or the Public Utilities Act, for the purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may direct the public utilities board to implement policies, procedures and directives respecting the exercise of powers and the performance of the duties of the public utilities board under this Act or the Public Utilities Act, including policies, procedures and directives respecting: (a) the costs, expenses, and allowances that are to be included in the rates, tolls and charges approved for a public utility, and the terms of that inclusion; (b) the terms of the interim orders, orders or approvals determining the rates, tolls and charges of a public utility…"

Now, Mr. Chair, I am going to read that again, because I am sure the Minister of Finance must not have gotten much sleep. For him to stand up and say the PUB is setting the rates in this Province flies in the face of what we are discussing here today, if anybody in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador wants to know why we are standing up here. Either the minister is misquoting or he is just a bit tired – I will give him the benefit of the doubt – or he just never read this bill. I could not believe my ears.

I will read it again for the minister. I know he is paying attention. I will read it again: "the terms of the interim orders, orders or approvals determining rates, tolls and charges of a public utility…" I say to the minister, look at 5.2(b): "the terms of the interim orders, orders or approvals determining rates, tolls and charges of a public utility…" It cannot get any clearer. Mr. Chair, they are even going so far, it is up to this government if the PUB will hold hearings.

I say to the minister: If you are ever going to stand up and make a statement like that, flying in the face of your own legislation that your government is trying to ram through here before Christmas, at least take the time to read it. That is all I ask you to do. If you read it, you would not be standing up making those statements as if we are just going off now and the PUB can set the rates at whatever they deem necessary. Everybody in this House and everybody in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador know it is just not factually correct.

We are not debating if the PUB can set the rates. We are debating that the powers of the PUB are going to be taken away – stripped away, Mr. Chair. The little bit of protection we had on top to protect the consumer in this Province, this government is saying: now, PUB, go over in the corner, we are going to tell you, take out your rubber stamp, put it on it, and send it on out to the people. That is what is happening here in this bill, Mr. Chair.

I ask the minister to stand up next time and clarify his remarks, because obviously they are flying in the face of this legislation we are here discussing.

CHAIR: Time is up.

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I will be back again.

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I am rising on a point of privilege at this time.

Mr. Chair, today in the House of Assembly, at 4:09 p.m., the Member for Lake Melville rose in his place to speak to the important bill that we have before the House of Assembly today. Mr. Chair, in speaking in the House of Assembly today I feel that this member violated my privileges as a parliamentarian, as a female parliamentarian of this House of Assembly, and has indeed violated the privileges of all female parliamentarians in this House of Assembly.

His statements today, Mr. Chair, impacts on all of us. It impacts our ability to do our job as parliamentarians in this Province. I am asking, Mr. Chair, that you undertake this point of privilege, and I ask that you find it is a prima facie case and it is indeed a breach of privilege.

After his comments, Mr. Chair, I went back to my office. I contacted the media centre to try and obtain a copy of the transcript. Because the media centre is very busy as a result of this filibuster, they were unable to provide me with the transcript to date, but I know the rules of the House of Assembly and I know that if I feel my privileges have been violated, that I must rise at the earliest occasion. I would ask that once the media video transcript is available, that it would be reviewed.

Mr. Chair, we are today in this House of Assembly debating a very important piece of legislation. It is significant by any proportion of any act that we have ever done in this Province's Legislature. I honestly feel, Mr. Chair, that my ability has been comprised to be able to respond to this bill and to be able to debate it appropriately.

In the last hour I have had an opportunity to reflect upon the comments of the member opposite. I find, Mr. Chair, his comments were degrading to women, parliamentarians, and, in fact, degrading to me as an elected official in this Province. Mr. Chair, if we cannot come to this House of Assembly without having the ability to debate legislation appropriately as men and women, then there is a problem in this Legislature.

In asking that you find this a prima facie case and a breach of privilege, I also ask, Mr. Chair, that the member apologize to me and to the House of Assembly, and I ask that this House of Assembly direct that member to review the Code of Conduct for members of this Legislature.

I ask, Mr. Chair, that you take this under advisement. I ask for a ruling on this because it has compromised my privileges and my ability to do my job at a time when it is significantly important in this Province that I be able to do so.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: Thank you.

The House will now recess. Given the time of day, and our normal supper break would be in the near future, the House will recess until at least 7:00 p.m. and may stand in recess beyond that until a decision has been made.

The hon. the Deputy House Leader.

MR. HUTCHINGS: Mr. Chair, I respect the point of privilege brought forward. We will wait for your review and your ruling on the point of privilege. We will wait for your ruling on that.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The House stands in recess until at least 7:00 p.m.



December 20, 2012               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS              Vol. XLVII No. 72A


The House resumed sitting at 7:45 p.m.

CHAIR (Littlejohn): Order, please!

During debate this afternoon there was a point of privilege raised, and I will be rising the Committee to report the point of privilege to the Speaker. At this point I rise the Committee to report to the Speaker on the point of privilege from the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

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

MR. LITTLEJOHN: Mr. Speaker, during debate in Committee, the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair raised a point of order concerning comments made by the Member for Lake Melville earlier in the afternoon. The Committee of the Whole has directed me to report the matter to the Speaker and ask leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the Member for Port de Grave.

I wish to make a ruling with respect to the point of privilege raised by the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair with respect to comments made by the Member for Lake Melville. The video of the exchange in the House of Assembly during Committee of the Whole has been reviewed.

The Member for Lake Melville was found to have made at least four comments which are questionable. This House has had to deal with issues of intemperate language in this House already this year. I remind members of my decision on June 19 of 2012, with respect to comments which I found to be contentious of this House. At that time, it was pointed out that contempt of the House may be an action which is an offence against the authority or dignity of the House, and that "the House may consider any misconduct to be contempt and may deal with it accordingly." That is a citation from O'Brien and Bosc, page 83.

I ruled just last week that citations in supporting an argument cannot be taken in isolation. Similarly, when looking at statements of members, the statements by the Member for Lake Melville, one cannot isolate a single comment. To take a single comment without considering the actions, the accumulative statements of a member is equally wrong.

In this case, the initial comments, while perhaps imprudent, were not overly contentious; however, the collective statements and the gestures escalated from the relatively benign to quite offensive, not only to females in this House but to the House as a whole.

Debate in this House must not be personalized. It is the debate of the issues and to direct comments that employ unintended motives, deliberately demeaning another member, or generally being offensive in a gender-oriented way is disrespectful to this House and all of its members.

I find that there has been contempt against the House by the Member for Lake Melville when in the Committee of the Whole, and I ask that the member apologize for his behaviour. I also ask that the member review the Code of Conduct and, following that review that, he meet with the Speaker to ensure that there is an understanding of acceptable members' roles and conduct in this House.

The Member for Lake Melville.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I sincerely regret the comments that I made earlier in reference to the hon. Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair. My offhanded remarks were inappropriate. I respectfully apologize to the hon. member and, indeed, all hon. members of this House.

At your convenience, Mr. Speaker, I will meet with you regarding the Code of Conduct.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We will go back to Orders of the Day. I call us back into Committee of the Whole to review Bills 60 and 61, commencing with Bill 60, seconded by the Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

It has been moved and seconded that I do leave the Chair for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider Bills 60 and 61.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Motion carried.

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

Committee of the Whole

CHAIR (Littlejohn): Order, please!

We are considering Bill 60 and Bill 61. Bill 60, Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project, and Bill 61, An Act to Amend the Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, the Energy Corporation Act and the Hydro Corporation Act, 2007.

We are debating clause 1 of Bill 61.

The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Chair, I plan this evening and throughout the evening to talk about a number of issues that had been raised by members opposite as it relates to the Muskrat Falls Project as defined in the act. I plan to deal with the issues of the environmental assessment panel that have been raised by the Leader of the NDP. I plan to deal with the issue of the duty, the obligation and extent of consultation with the NunatuKavut government. I also plan to deal with the federal loan guarantee.

One of the conditions of the federal loan guarantee is that all necessary legal and policy authorities have been complied with to the satisfaction of the guarantor. As we are all aware on November 26 and 27, there was a case heard by Justice Near in Ottawa by the Grand Riverkeepers, Labrador Inc., Sierra Club of Canada, and NunatuKavut Community Council Inc. A decision was rendered this afternoon in that matter and the application was dismissed. The application of all of the applicants was dismissed. They had tried to set aside the order of the environmental assessment panel and to set the matter back for a new hearing.

As I to go this, this is important because it allows now for the satisfaction of another one of the conditions precedent and there is nothing to prevent these groups from trying to appeal. As I have said on many occasions, and my fellow lawyers on this side will indicate, anyone can take out legal action but we cannot allow legal actions being taken out to subvert significant and major projects.

I plan to go through this in some detail. It is going to take me a few of the – the decision is approximately thirty-two pages long. I am going to start with the duty to consult NunatuKavut. They had argued in detail that they were not accorded procedural fairness and the right to be heard. Justice Near talked about it, "I must also reject NunatuKavut's arguments based on the Panel's purported duty to consult the group on all matters, and to compel evidence from them on all three issues in dispute…."

Justice Near stated, "The mandate to invite information cannot be said to include a mandate to compel evidence… Moreover, the Panel fulfilled its mandate by inviting, and accepting, on several occasions written submissions from NunatuKavut. In addition, the Panel heard from the group in the General Hearing Sessions it held in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and in St. John's. Indeed, the group received over $130,000 through the Participant Funding Program to participate in the EA process. NunatuKavut's choice not to participate in a portion of the hearings by virtue of its injunction proceedings, regardless of how good the group's intentions, cannot impose a duty on the Panel to compel evidence from it… For all of these reasons, I find that there was no infringement of NunatuKavut's right to be heard or of any other principle of procedural fairness with respect to the group's participation in the EA process."

I am going to deal with this first. This will be the first stage I will deal with. We have been saying throughout and it has been argued by the Opposition House Leader that there has been no consultation with NunatuKavut and that they have not been given a fair chance to state their case. Well, at page 2 of the decision Justice Near stated, "All three groups participated throughout the EA process for the project, and each was awarded funds through the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency's… Participant Funding Program to facilitate its participation in the different phases of the assessment."

I really do not know how the Opposition House Leader can stand before this court and say they were not given the opportunity to participate when they were provided with over $130,000 in funding. They attended the proceedings and chose not to attend other parts of the proceedings. They have gone to the Supreme Court in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and I may review that decision a little later on tonight, also. The duty to consult is reviewed in that case by Justice Stack and he reviews the previous Court of Appeal decision.

In essence, what has happened here is court after court is finding that they have had the opportunity to state their case. It keeps coming back to that basic principle that the duty to consult is on a spectrum that goes from, in this case, consultation with the Innu Nation because they have a land claims to the consultation with Nunatsiavut Government who are on the lower end of the scale and, even though they have a land claim, they are not affected as much.

The reality is with NunatuKavut that they do not have an established land claim. As the Premier and myself, and Ministers of Justice, have stated in this House, if the federal government chooses to recognize them under section 35 of the Constitution, then we will certainly look at that as being a validation of their rights. However, there are also court cases going on and a court case is another way in which you can establish your Aboriginal claim or your land claims. Mr. Chair, your right to hunt and fish cannot automatically lead to a land claim. That is a different issue.

It seems to me that the decision here of the federal court is outlined in some detail. The steps were taken to ensure NunatuKavut was involved in the hearing and that they were accorded the rights of procedural fairness and the right to be heard. In fact, they were provided with more than $130,000 in funding.

Earlier today, the House Leader referred to the fact that the President of NunatuKavut has been phoning me and I will not return his calls. Well, I had a meeting with the President of the NunatuKavut Community Council earlier this year in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. I felt the meeting went well. I had indicated we would certainly consider what they were saying. They had a couple of elders there. It was a good discussion. I was familiar, having been Minister of Justice at one point, with their issues and so we had a good discussion.

The next day it went off the rails when we had the Premiers' meetings in Halifax. Before I even had a chance to discuss with the Premier, the President of NunatuKavut Community Council was out lambasting the Premier in the newspapers. That ended that. That is where that ended, Mr. Chair. You cannot on one hand ask us, as he was asking, to look at certain issues, which I indicated I would take back to the Premier and our Cabinet, and then go out the next day. The Minister of Government Services will outline. He asked for the information of what took place.

What has happened today, and the decision came down today, is that the Grand Riverkeeper, Sierra Club – is that the fellow who phones Back Talk? Is he Sierra Club? What is his name, that other fellow from the mainland?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. KENNEDY: Yes.

The Sierra Club has been dismissed and so has the NCC. Another legal action gone and another condition precedent satisfied.

I am not going to have time to go through it all at this first session or ten minute block, but I am also going to talk about the findings of the Environmental Assessment Panel and the arguments that have been put forward by the Leader of the NDP as to the fact that the Environmental Assessment Panel did not support the project. Let us talk about what the purpose is of a Joint Review Panel. I will take this couple of minutes to go through this.

Justice Near states at paragraph 29, a Joint Review Panel or "…JRP is established to fulfill an information gathering and recommending function under…" the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. "The Panel does not render any final decisions with respect to the Project, nor does it make absolutely binding recommendations. Rather, its primary goal is to assist the RAs – the ultimate decision makers" – being the government – "in obtaining the information they need to make environmentally informed decisions. It is one piece of the decision-making process mandated by CEAA." That is their role.

The member opposite for St. Barbe might be more interested in the discussion on the standard of reasonableness, but I am not going to get into that. That is not really what I need to talk about here. The contentious issues that have always been raised, at least by the Leader of the NDP and sometimes by the Liberals also, is they never approved the project. They approve the environmental assessment. I have to make sure I state this properly. They make recommendations. It is released from the environmental assessment process.

They went on, in this case, to make recommendations in relation to sections 4.1 and 4.2. I will deal with those shortly. Those are the ones that deal with what they refer to as independent financial assessment and also the issue of alternatives. One must remember, throughout this decision the tenor of the decision is what we have is a situation where it is very early in the process and any recommendations made have lots of time to be fulfilled, but their main issue is that of the environmental assessment and they did that in this particular case.

In my next ten minute block I will shortly talk about recommendations 4.1 and 4.2.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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

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

I would like to respond to the minister's comments with regard to the consultation with Aboriginal groups in Labrador, primarily in this case. He cited the examples of the NunatuKavut nation.

Mr. Chair, it has not been any secret in the Province that the NunatuKavut Community Council have had a number of concerns as it relates to the development of Muskrat Falls. I agree with the minister. They have received funding to act as an intervener in the Environmental Assessment Panel review that was ongoing and to do some of the research that needed to be done; however, Mr. Chair, they feel very strongly, as an Aboriginal organization, that the bulk of the development around the Churchill Falls Project, in this case the Muskrat Falls Project, is directly in the heartland of their land claim area. Although they do not have an accepted land claim at this stage by the federal government, Mr. Chair, we all know that the provincial government has the ability to make its own decisions to negotiate particularly where they are the proponent.

This is a case where they are the proponent, Mr. Chair, of the development of this project. They have to make a decision as to whether they want to have good relations with the Aboriginal peoples who have claims in that particular area – whether those claims have an outstanding settlement or not – or if they want to just directly ignore those particular claims.

At this stage it seems like they are ignoring the claims of the NunatuKavut people. That is really unfortunate, Mr. Chair. They are an organization that have very long entrenched Aboriginal roots in Labrador. They have gone to court on other cases where they have won the right when it comes to the duty to be consulted. That was primarily the case with regard to the construction of the Trans-Labrador Highway. They took that case to court and the court ruled in their favour, that they needed to be and should be consulted.

Based on that particular premise, one would think that such would be the case, especially with regard to the transmission line. Not that the lands in which the transmission line follows through, Mr. Chair, is any different than those around Muskrat Falls, but the NunatuKavut Community Council is the only Aboriginal group to have land claims in as far south as that in Labrador. Although there is, I think, almost a year left with regard to the environmental assessment on the transmission line, I think, Mr. Chair, they also need to be consulted, involved and given the ability to become involved in that environmental assessment as the project moves forward as well.

Mr. Chair, on the case of which I talked about today, the president making calls to the minister's office, I can only outline what I have been told in discussions that I have had with them. They did meet with our caucus, and I think they met with the Third Party caucus as well. They did give us a presentation with regard to their land areas in which they have land claims. They outlined the environmental concerns they had that were connected with this particular project. As well, Mr. Chair, they felt they should receive some form of benefit, in particular for the impact that this will have in their particular area and on their land.

Mr. Chair, as a result of all of that, of course, they have been making representation to the government. What happened, Mr. Chair, between the president and the Premier in Nova Scotia, I cannot speak to any of that, other than what I heard in the media.

Mr. Chair, what I do know is under the Environmental Impact Assessment, which is a piece that was written called a Comparative Review, and it was written by Christopher Wood. In that he cited the real benefits of participation of Aboriginal groups. One of the things he cited, which I feel is very important in any project, is that it provides access to local and traditional knowledge from a diverse source.

That is one of the things the NunatuKavut Community Council would bring to this project. They would bring local and traditional knowledge of where people use the land from one part of the project at Muskrat Falls right to the Labrador Straits, because that is the area in which they live and that is the area in which they are familiar.

It also talks about: enhances the legitimacy of proposed projects. Mr. Chair, any time you do any development it is better to do it with your partners agreeing and onside and endorsing what you are doing as opposed to having to stand outside the fence and protest it and shout your views from the other side of the river. It is always more important to ensure they are a part of the project.

Also, Mr. Chair, real consultation with Aboriginal groups allows governments to identify problems and also solutions to those problems, especially when it comes to the environment and the land. All of these things are important in any particular project. They bring a different ethnical perspective to the decision-making process. It broadens the range of potential solutions that can be considered. Maybe they have a different way of doing things.

It furnishes access to new financial human resources in many cases, and we know that, Mr. Chair. We learned that with the Voisey's Bay project in particular. It encourages more balanced decision making and it increases the accountability for those decisions. Mr. Chair, everything when it comes to including Aboriginal people in any of these major developments, there is a tremendous benefit to having them participate. I think that is the piece that had been lost on the government.

One of the key things that it does is it helps to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation, and that is what the minister is talking about now. He is reading from a court docket of which the NunatuKavut Community Council was one of a number of groups that challenged different aspects of the environmental assessment review panel, Mr. Chair, what they had summarized. They were one of a number of groups that were a part of that.

As we know today in this Province, Aboriginal groups, especially people like the NunatuKavut Community Council, have had to use litigation on almost every major development in order to get their views known and heard and to get the attention they needed from the proponents of these developments. That is really unfortunate, because that in itself can often become very costly, both to the taxpayers and to the organizations that are involved, and it also becomes time consuming.

In addition to that, Mr. Chair, when there is not full consultation and that consultation is not a respectful engagement by both parties, we end up getting a lot of what we are seeing today, protests. We get people protesting, trying to take some control into their own hands because that is the only thing they see as an avenue. Whether it is right or wrong, I am not saying I agree with it or do not agree with it. What I am saying, Mr. Chair, is that because they often are not consulted –

MR. KENNEDY: Are you saying that as a member of this House it is okay to break the law?

MS JONES: Excuse me?

MR. KENNEDY: Are you saying that as a member of this House it is okay to break the law?

MS JONES: No, I never said that. You listen to what I am saying.

MR. KENNEDY: You said you do not agree or disagree.

MS JONES: I said I never said if I agree or disagree.

Most of these groups, Mr. Chair, the reason they have to take to the courts and the reason they have to stand outside of fences and protest is because their views are not being heard.

Mr. Chair, the minister is getting all agitated, but I will tell him one thing, I never have an issue with people standing up for what they believe to be right. I never have a problem with people protesting. We have seen it here in this Confederation Building time and time again, and I take absolutely no exception to that, Mr. Chair. If people feel that is what they need to do to get their point of view across, I absolutely respect that.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have to say I find those comments absolutely astounding, that a member sitting in the House of Assembly of our Province can encourage people to break the law. There is an injunction that says they cannot do certain things. To stand up and to say that you can do it –

MS JONES: A point of order, Mr. Chair.

MR. KENNEDY: Please, can we have some time here to use my ten minutes?

CHAIR: The Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair, on a point of order.

MS JONES: The member can have his time back (inaudible). Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I did not state in the House of Assembly that it was okay to break the law. I ask the member to rephrase his comments and only address those issues which I am – if he is going to repeat after me, repeat what I said, not what he thinks I said.

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I clearly heard, and she referred to – I am not agitated one bit. We have an application. Everyone has the right to go to court. Everyone has the right to protest. We have had protests here. We have done nothing to interfere with those protests, as long as you are legally allowed and you have Constitutional rights. When a court makes a ruling and a court issues an injunction, that injunction has to be respected. That is the difficulty I am having with this particular case.

The member opposite said: I cannot say I agree or disagree. Basically what she is saying is: You do not have to respect the law. I find those comments astounding, Mr. Chair. In any event, for a member as a representative of Labrador who did not read an agreement and did not know there was going to be an agreement to develop the Lower Churchill, I probably should not expect a whole lot more.

Mr. Chair, in any event, what we have is a situation, and I think she summarized it very accurately. We will deal with that whole issue a little later on tonight. She summarizes the issue very accurately, I say to the Member for St. Barbe and I say to my colleagues on this side of the House who are lawyers. They feel very strongly. Well, courts do not act on feelings. Courts act on evidence. When I was the Minister of Justice, I met with NunatuKavut. They were called the Labrador Metis Nation then. I can tell you, if they can establish their rights, I have no problem with that. The Premier said the same thing. There is a process in which you have to engage.

I could be wrong, but I think their claims go back before we took office. Their claims go back to when the Liberals were in office. You could have dealt with it back then. What did you do to deal with their claims?

What we have is a situation where they are making certain claims. If they can establish those claims so be it, but to feel strongly is not the standard we use in a courtroom. It is not the standard as a government we can use. It is more complicated than simply saying: I feel we have rights. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled on numerous occasions on what is required to establish Aboriginal rights.

From our perspective, and the Minister of Finance or the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs can speak for themselves, but from a legal perspective if they can establish it – and I can remember meeting with the Labrador Metis Nation. We said: Well, take your case to court. We are not in a position to recognize these rights. You have not satisfied us based on what you have presented to us that there is Aboriginal standing.

Make your claim to the Government of Canada. If the Government of Canada accepts it, we have no problem with that. That is the way the process works. Until such time as their claim is accepted they cannot simply come to us and say here we are. It is more complicated.

I could go into it, but I am not going into the detail right now in terms of why the Innu Nation could establish their claims and why the Nunatsiavut Government could establish their claims. The Metis, it is a more difficult situation. It is especially compounded in the case we have with the Metis in our case because their claim changes as we move along. They have been Metis Inuit, Southern Inuit, and I do not know exactly what it is now.

I can say to the member opposite: If they can establish a claim, I have no problem with that. That is the way the law works, but you have to do that. I said four years ago: You have your hunting cases, go to court. What has happened in those four years? They still have not gone with those cases in the courtroom. They have not, to the best of my knowledge, brought their claim to the Government of Canada. We can only encourage them to do that. They choose to use the courts, but do not confuse the duty to consult with providing Aboriginal claims or rights. That is not the way the law works.

I say to the member opposite: If they can establish that, no problem; do it, please. I seem to hear a little bit of a different tone tonight from the Opposition House Leader where she said there was no consultation, to now accepting that during the environmental assessment on the Lower Churchill Project that they were heavily involved, they had the right to make their presentations. That is all you can ask for in our system, is the right to present your case. It does not mean that you have the right to have someone accept what you say. That is why we have arbitrators and judges who make these decisions.

They are going to court and I give them credit for going to court. How many times do you go to court and lose, where you finally say there is a better way to do this? The better way to do it I was told in my last meeting with the President of NunatuKavut, that they have a good historical claim prepared. File it with the Government of Canada. They have been five years I have been dealing with them and I am not aware of that claim being filed.

When the claim is not filed, one has to wonder: Why not? We would encourage them, I am sure the Minister of Finance can speak for himself, but I do not have any personal animus in one form or another. In fact, in my dealings with them, with the previous president and the current president we have had very good meetings.

I have the utmost respect, I say to the member opposite, for one of the elderly gentleman who was an elder I first met in Justice when I met with elders from Sheshatshiu, from Innu Nation, and from Nunatsiavut Government. I met with them. I am not going to use his name, not because of any disrespect. That gentleman gave me a gift. The four times I have moved offices, I have taken that little token of appreciation with me as recognition.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. KENNEDY: It was Mr. Mesher. I have utmost respect. I sat down with that gentleman. I listened to him. There is no question of his passion and his belief. What I say is: Establish your claim. Please, go ahead and do it. You are not going to establish your claim, I say to the member opposite, by trying to slow down the process and by taking us to court.

As the Member for St. Barbe will tell you when he gets a chance to look at the decision, when you are in judicial review the panoply of rights available to you are not the same as when you are making your claim. In a review there is a standard that has to be applied. A judge on review does not have to agree that the decision is perfect. A judge on review does not have to agree that everything was done the way it should be. What the judge on review has to accept in this kind of judicial review is that the standard of reasonableness was met and that the decision was reasonable. That is what has taken place here.

The judges held that Grand Riverkeeper Labrador Inc., Sierra Club of Canada, and NunatuKavut Community Council have all had their opportunity to present their case. Again, they have been. Before we go any with this, it is important we understand that in his decision in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Justice Stack referred to the fact that there was no violence and there were not threats by these people down at the Muskrat Falls site. That was not the basis of the decision, nor did Nalcor employees allege there were any threats or intimidation. It was based upon a certain way to do business in terms of having a safety zone.

Do I understand the frustrations? Certainly, I know what the Innu Nation did. All I am saying is that there are regulations and laws that have to be applied. If you do not comply with them, then you are in breach of them. Again while it may be understandable from an emotional perspective, I think as lawmakers we have to encourage people to comply with the law.

If you were saying to me, I say to the Opposition House Leader, there has been no consultation and that there has been no discussion ever, then that is a different thing. I can only tell you one of the first meetings I had as the Minister of Justice back in 2007 was with these individuals. I also met the president prior to Mr. –

AN HON. MEMBER: Chris Montague.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, I met with Chris Montague. He had his maps and he showed me his maps. I met with him and I encouraged him at that point to go to court. From our perspective as a government, it is not a situation that we are trying to oppress these people. We are not trying to do anything to circumvent or abridge their rights. What we are saying to them is establish your rights. When you have a situation where, for example, $130,000 is provided to them to participate, I do not think with all due respect one can say that they have not been given the opportunity to participate, or that we have not complied with our duty to consult.

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to speak for a few more minutes. I have not seen the court case or the court ruling today with regard to procedural fairness and the duty to consult that was recently heard in the Supreme Court. I am sure I will get an opportunity to look at it and review it, although I know the NunatuKavut Community Council were only a party of three or four in terms of that particular case.

Mr. Chair, when you look at environmental impact assessments and all the reviews that have been written around it when it comes to consulting with Aboriginal people, all of it has been very positive; positive for the proponent, positive for the project, and positive for the Aboriginal groups. Mr. Chair, when they did the study with regard to projects and the model of projects that are being developed in consultation with Aboriginal people, the one they used as a reference was the Voisey's Bay mine and mill project. That was one I was very familiar with, Mr. Chair.

The Voisey's Bay review panel was the first of its kind in terms of Aboriginal participation or with Aboriginal groups through what we know today as the environmental assessment process. Mr. Chair, what happened is there was a Memorandum of Understanding that was negotiated, worked out, and signed between the Labrador Inuit Association, which was before they were the Nunatsiavut Government, and the Innu Nation, before the Innu Nation had governance status, which was only in the last couple of years that has happened.

Both of those groups, Mr. Chair, had land claims in that particular area. The government of the day, actually the government I was a part of, Mr. Chair, decided they would work out a co-operative framework with these two Aboriginal groups to ensure that their concerns were all considered, that they were an effective part of the environmental assessment process, and that they were not left out. That was one of the key pieces to all of this.

There was a legal requirement, of course, by both the federal and the provincial governments in addressing all of these concerns with the Aboriginal groups. It took quite some time to negotiate it, to work it out, to get all of the details, and so on. There was a comprehensive review of all of that done by a panel that was set up.

Mr. Chair, as a result of it what we ended up with at the end of the day was a model for how Aboriginal people in this country should be engaged when it comes to large-scale projects. The precedent has been set. It was set in our own Province and in our own Legislature. That was a project that took into consideration the social and economic impact of that development on the Aboriginal people in that area.

That is what I am asking the government to do with regard to this project, Mr. Chair. I know what the minister is saying, that they do not have an accepted land claim by the federal government. Mr. Chair, notwithstanding that, it does not mean the Province does not respect the fact they have a legitimate claim there and respect the fact they should be dealt with and their concerns should be heard, Mr. Chair.

Do you know that in 2014 we will celebrate 250 years of the treaty that was signed between the Nunatsiavut people and the British Privy Council? That is only two years from now. It was signed in the community in which my mother was born.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS JONES: NunatuKavut, sorry. I am getting them mixed up. Thank you.

Just to clarify for the public record, in 2014 we will celebrate the 250-year anniversary of the treaty that was signed between the Nunatukavut people, the Southern Labrador Inuit, and the British Privy Council. It was signed in the Chateau Bay area in a little town called Pitts Arm where my mother actually grew up. Mr. Chair, that is how far back this treaty extends in Labrador. It takes in that whole Southern Labrador area. The Labrador Inuit people were twenty-five years trying to get a land claim. We should not have to wait twenty-five years now for Aboriginal groups to be recognized in their own land, Mr. Chair.

That is the concern I have with all of this because they do have rights. Their rights should be respected and their rights should be taken into consideration because this project will have an impact on them. It will have an impact on them, a significant impact. Some will be good and some will be bad. Mr. Chair, I do not think we can ignore those things and that is the point I want to make.

I am not going to belabour this issue this evening, Mr. Chair, but I want to ensure it is in the public record that this is a group in Labrador that has a legitimate claim. They have already been given recognition by the courts and told there should have been a duty to consult by the provincial government when the Trans-Labrador Highway was built. There are cases in this country, Mr. Chair, the Powley decision in particular, which recognize the rights of people with mixed ancestry in this country and Aboriginal rights to the land. This group as well have legitimate rights and they should be dealt with. That is the issue there, Mr. Chair.

I have had a number of discussions and consultations with the NunatuKavut Community Council. A lot of their members reside in my district and in the District of Lake Melville. They are probably one of the largest organizations in population base, Aboriginal organizations in Labrador. Mr. Chair, it does affect quite a few people. There is absolutely no doubt about that.

Mr. Chair, many of these people I know and I know them very well. I know them personally and have for a long time, including the president of the organization, including all of their board members, and including their elders. I can tell you, Mr. Chair, they are not violent people. They are not people who go out and break the law. They are not unlike any other group or organization. You cannot always control what everybody else is going to do. I can tell you as an organization they are not going to sanction that kind of activity, Mr. Chair. They just want to make their views known. They just want to be inside of the room looking out and not outside trying to look in. That is a difference of where they are.

What I will say, Mr. Chair, is in this Province any time there are Aboriginal claims that are recognized and settled by the federal government, it benefits everybody in the Province. It benefits the government, the taxpayers, and all the residents. That is a proven fact, Mr. Chair, and we have seen it time and time again in this Province.

My suggestion to the provincial government is make representation to the federal government on behalf of the NunatuKavut people. Make representation to the federal government, ask that their land claim be speeded up, that there be a more speedy review of their land claim and what they are requesting, Mr. Chair. There is nothing wrong with doing that. If you really believe they have a legitimate right and you respect that, the very least you could do is be able to support them and allow them to advance this through the appropriate process so that they have a legal title, Mr. Chair, and they can move forward in actioning the issues of their people in their own land.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

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

I think there needs to be a point of clarification. I was of the understanding they had not yet filed their claim with the Government of Canada.

As for being in the room, myself and the Minister of Labrador Affairs at the time, the Member for Labrador West, we met with them in a room. We met with the officials and we had what I thought was a good discussion, and the very next day it went off the rails. Not as a result of anything we had done but as a result of whatever took place with the President of the NCC. That is where we are on that.

As for us preparing their claim, that is not our role. They have lawyers who will go to court, and they are going to court all the time, so they must have money. Legal counsel and historians, they prepare their claim. What we have said, and I want to be crystal clear on this, is if the federal government accepts their Aboriginal rights, that is one thing.

Now, I want to come back a little bit further because for the last three or four days the member opposite has talked about how we have failed in our duties and how we have not consulted. What is the duty that is imposed upon us as a government in terms of dealing with the NunatuKavut Community Council? We have successfully negotiated land claims with the Nunatsiavut Government – we have done this – and the Innu Nation. We have done that since 2003. I do not think it is fair to say that we are not addressing or respecting Aboriginal rights.

I can say to the member opposite, I was not the Minister of Justice a month when my first trip was to meet in Labrador with Aboriginal groups. That is how seriously I consider their claims and their wanting to work with us. What we have to try to do, I agree, is bridge the gap where we are and try to understand each other. Again, I do not offer legal advice to them as to how to proceed. What I am saying to them is if your claim is accepted.

Let's look at the duty that is on us today. Justice Stack, in his decision on the permanent injunction looked at what is the duty. He reviewed the Court of Appeal decision. I can remember that Court of Appeal decision back when it came down on the Trans-Labrador Highway, being interpreted by Labrador Metis Nation as one thing as opposed to the way we looked upon it as something else.

Justice Stack said, "Upon review of the evidence, the Court of Appeal" – in the Trans-Labrador Highway case – "found that NCC has a credible claim which triggers a duty to consult." Although the Court of Appeal, there is a little bit missing here – it seems to say, "Although the Court of Appeal was not satisfied that NCC had made out a ‘strong' case at that time, it was satisfied that" – again, it is missing there – was required in order to get a "…low level of consultation requested…".

So, the level of consultation requested. Again, it depends on the circumstances. The Court of Appeal was satisfied that the claim was more than peripheral or tenuous, which would only attract a duty of notice, but that the prima facie connection had been established and they felt that the duty to consult was required.

That is what we have done. There has been a clear – not only the duty to consult has been followed with or complied with, but money has been provided. They attended the Environmental Assessment hearings. They have been represented by counsel in terms of the arguments on the injunctions of which there have been a couple of applications, and at least three Supreme Court Judges have heard their applications in one form or another: Justices Handrigan, Dymond, and Stack.

We have now had the federal court which has looked at their claims. The reality is – and I hear the member opposite talking about treaties. Well, that can be, from my reading of other cases, good evidence that you bring before a court or a federal government. I would suggest that they move ahead.

Now, I want to come back to the decision handed down today because one of the conditions precedents of the federal loan guarantee relates to legal cases. The Leader of the NDP has argued the Joint Review Panel did not approve the project. The Joint Review Panel made recommendations. From what I just read and I will repeat what I read from the case itself, in terms of the role of the Joint Review Panel. They held thirty days of hearings from what I can see: a joint review panel is established to fulfill an information-gathering process.

I say to the Leader of the New Democratic Party: Fulfilling an information-gathering process is not a request for approval. "…and recommending function under CEAA… The panel does not render any final decisions…" I think you are somewhat disingenuous to be putting forward this argument that the Environmental Assessment Panel did not approve the project. That is not what they are asked to do.

Perhaps this is a good opportunity to clarify the role. At some point, the Minister of Environment, the former Ministers of Environment, or the present Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services might have some comments. I think she might have been involved part of the way there.

"The Panel does not render any final decisions with respect to the Project, nor does it make absolutely binding recommendations." So, if it does not render any final decision and it does make any binding recommendations, what obligation is there on a government to follow it? What they do, "…its primary goal is to assist the RAs – the ultimate decision-makers – in obtaining the information they need to make environmentally informed decisions. It is one piece of the decision-making process…".

It is early in the process. By the time this hearing was held, Nalcor would have only been at the Decision Gate 2 stage. The discussions with bond rating agencies would have been in a preliminary stage. There were no discussions, I do not think, or very little discussion at that point with the federal government on the federal loan guarantee.

I would suggest, Mr. Chair, this is a good opportunity to clarify what that Joint Review Panel did. They made environmental suggestions. They made other suggestions, as they were entitled to do. They were in no way binding on the provincial government or the federal governments. It was an information-gathering process. That information was provided to us. The provincial government and federal governments looked at the recommendations, accepted some, and said we will accept some, some will be complied with that are in the federal jurisdictions, others are in provincial, and we will work on them. The Joint Review Panel – we did not need them to approve the economic or the alternatives, that –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. KENNEDY: Which one?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. KENNEDY: Oh, maybe you should speak to that a little later.

What we have here is a situation where even though this was an application by the Grand Riverkeepers and Sierra Club, they looked at trying to stop the process. It is, again, my understanding that they argued that because the Joint Review Panel did not make certain recommendations, it should be sent back to them as a result of not fulfilling their mandate.

They all participated as outlined in the hearings. It is my understanding when you look at here, there were – and I am trying to find this – thirty days of hearings. The process started in 2006 or 2007. The guidelines under the Environmental Protection Act applied. They held thirty days of hearings in various communities between March 3 and April 15, 2011. Some of the hearings were issue specific, while others were general sessions, in which the panel invited participants to share their overall views. Still, others were community hearings in which participants were invited to share their views on the impact the project might have on their specific communities.

After the final hearing on April 15, the panel declared the proceedings closed, determining that no further information would be considered. It issued its report on August 23, 2011. Then an application was filed on December 20, 2011.

I have heard arguments that we should stop Muskrat Falls because people have legal actions. I do not want to mention his name, but Mr. C has applications out there before the courts. Are we going to stop because of his application?

We have now had the NunatuKavut try on a number of occasions to seek injunctions to stop the proceedings. We have now had a federal court action. It comes back to my basic point: Anyone can file a court action; being successful is another thing. Until such time as someone is successful, we will proceed. This case is an excellent example because the members opposite would have us stop Muskrat Falls on the basis that there was a court application proceeding. It cannot work that way, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR (Cross): The Chair recognizes the hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

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

I am very glad that the Minister of Natural Resources has decided tonight to respond to points that have been raised with regard to the environmental assessment. As I have said earlier in our discussion – and I am really pleased with what is happening here tonight. I think we really are having an exchange of information which is important. As I have said earlier, I do know well the workings of a Joint Review Panel because I was a member of the Joint Review Panel for the Voisey's Bay mine. That was a more complicated one in the sense that there were four partners, federal and provincial governments, but also at that time, the Labrador Inuit Association and Innu Nation.

As a member of a panel, I fully understand what the role of a panel is. It is true, as the minister said, that the recommendations are recommendations, they are not binding; however, the work that the panel does is much more than what was outlined by the minister. As a matter of fact, I followed closely the work of the panel on Muskrat Falls. I have done a fair bit of study of the amount of documentation they had to go through, et cetera.

Besides the meetings that they hold, the public meetings, the community meetings, they hold meetings with experts. They identify experts in the various areas that they are dealing with in that particular panel. They accept academic papers, research papers. They seek out information in the areas that they are studying. It is not just sitting down at a meeting, at community meetings every now and again. You are working nonstop just about, over the length of time that you are working on the panel. You are working with research people as well.

The money from the federal and provincial governments that fund the Joint Review Panels allow for the panel to identify researchers they need. You have researchers from the Canadian Environmental Agency itself who get named to work with the panel. You also identify experts, and those experts can come from anywhere in the world. When I was on the Voisey's Bay panel, we had experts we met with who came from the United States. We had experts from the United Kingdom. We had experts from inside of Canada. You have the resources to seek out the experts that you need.

The panel itself, they usually represent a variety of experiences on the panel. I think both in the case of Voisey's Bay and in the case of Muskrat Falls you had somebody on the panel who had particular knowledge of Labrador, for example.

Yes, the panel makes recommendations and they are not binding; however, the work that goes into the analysis that the panel does, the hours and hours of work, the hours of study, the hours of analysis that go in represent a tremendous analysis in a recommendation. The recommendation has been thought through. The recommendation has been explained. I have here, for example, to remind myself, the executive summary. Okay, the recommendation in the executive summary is just a paragraph, but that recommendation comes at the end of a huge chapter in the report itself.

When the Muskrat Falls panel made their first recommendation, which was if the project is approved before making the sanction decision for each of the Muskrat Falls and Gull Island, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador undertake a separate and formal review of the projected cash flow of the project component being considered for sanctioning.

They go on and they explain what they think should be in the cash flow. Then, they said the financial reviews that are done should also take into account the results – first of all, they say that those reviews should be made public and then they say the financial review should also take into account the results of the independent alternatives assessment that they recommended in their second recommendation.

The point I am trying to make is these recommendations are made after months and months and months, not just of listening to community people but meeting with experts and studying the position of experts and studying all of the documentation that has come in from the proponent as well. Every word of the documentation is studied and there are teams of people working with the panel in doing this.

So, when they put a recommendation together, it is done based on the best information that the panel can get. What is very disturbing is that when the governments make responses – because this is what happens, a government, for example, makes a response to a report. Both the federal and provincial governments do it separately, so you get the response of the federal government and the response of the provincial government.

You get a recommendation that has a huge chapter behind the recommendation that has all the footnotes about all of the studies that they looked at, the experts that they worked with, to come up with that recommendation. What you get from the provincial government is, for example, with regard to the first recommendation: The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador accepts a principle that a review of the projects financial viability is required prior to sanction but does not support the panel's assumption that the information provided by the proponent was in inadequate.

It was not an assumption. They did an analysis and they said the information they had was inadequate and there should be more. The government does not give any details of how they have come up with this decision, yet this panel has spent – this one, spent four years. The report was probably done in the last three to four months, so they probably spent three-and-a-half years doing this work and that is what they get: two sentences.

The second recommendation which had to do with the independent analysis of alternatives to meeting domestic demand is a detailed recommendation. It has nine bullets to this recommendation. Obviously, I am not going to go through the whole thing, but what the recommendation does is to show that the analysis that has to be done has to be an independent analysis of alternatives. It has to take an integrated approach, which is the approach that one takes today in doing these kinds of projects.

That recommendation, which again would have had three-and-a-half years of work behind it, got this response, "The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador does not accept this recommendation." There is no explanation. There is no detail. All we have is the government's fiat; the government says we do not accept it.

My concern is that if the government did a detailed analysis of the recommendations, if the government went and read every single word of the report and every single word of each chapter that went with the recommendation, then why wouldn't they tell us why they do not agree with the recommendation? This is not a high school essay here; this is a report from professional people who worked with experts to put it together.

I mean, this is a bigger issue the statement I am going to make now. It is one of the weaknesses of the environmental assessment process. The governments, as far as I am concerned, pay lip service to the environmental assessment processes. The one place where they will say, yes that will be done, is where you have recommendations that are very specific with regard to regulation. Recommendations around how a dam should be built, recommendations around remediation. Sometimes the regulations they have to follow are federal; sometimes they are provincial. It is easy for the government to say: Oh yes, that recommendation of course that goes to the federal government. Yes, well that one goes to the Department of Natural Resource. That one goes to the Department of Environment. That is very simple.

When you get in-depth analysis and recommendations based on in-depth analysis, I find that both the provincial and federal governments – I am going to make it plural – pay lip service. They do not recognize that the panel that they themselves put in place were panels of experts who had the resources to get experts, from around the world if they needed them, to work with them. Then governments ignore the key recommendations that come out from the panel.

For example, just an example, the panel I was on, our key recommendation was that land claims should be dealt with before anything else happens in major development in Labrador. Do you know what? If that recommendation had been followed, we would not have the problem that we are having with the Aboriginal issue in Labrador right now. We believed, as a panel, it was a key issue and the land claims really had to be taken care of before all major development went on in Labrador.

It is really too bad that twelve years ago somebody did not listen to that recommendation. I am afraid of what we are going to find in ten years' time of recommendations that should have been listened to from this environmental assessment.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you very much.

There is a certain illogic to the comments just made by the Leader of the NDP, and it is quite simple. To say that everything should be held up pending land claims is nonsensical because nothing could ever proceed if an Aboriginal group did not want it to.

We cannot allow those groups or anyone to have that kind of power. They have the ability to comply with the requirements and to file their claim. We have said time and time again to the NunatuKavut, to the LMN: file your claim. Why should we hold up major developments because we are waiting for them to file their claim? That is not the way the system works. I really think that such a comment just shows –

MS MICHAEL: A point of order, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: The Member for Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi, on a point of order.

MS MICHAEL: (Inaudible) to the minister that when we are talking about Aboriginal land claims, we are talking about the rights of Aboriginal peoples in this Province and in this country. The way in which the minister has just referred to those rights, I think it is an insult to the Aboriginal people in this Province.

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. KENNEDY: No, I can assure the member opposite that I have read the cases in relation to Aboriginal rights, I know the kinds of tests that are put out there, and I certainly respect Aboriginal rights.

I have had ongoing relationships with the Innu since I came into government, and reached out to them. In fact, we were looking at establishing an Innu court, an Innu healing court, when I was there as Minister of Justice. I do not know what happened to it after I left, but we had the plans. I visited the Gladue Court in Toronto, trying to bring into the Aboriginal framework in terms of the courts, how to deal with Aboriginal offenders.

I met with Nunatsiavut Government officials on numerous occasions over the last number of years, and I have met with the NunatuKavut, both as the Labrador Metis Nation and as their current NCC.

Do not confuse meetings and duty to consult with rights. You have to establish rights. A duty is something you comply with; a right is something you establish. Essentially, what the member opposite is saying is that everything should stop because of a court action.

The only mischaracterization, Mr. Chair, that has taken place in this Chamber in the last number of months is her standing up and saying that the Joint Review Panel did not approve the project. There was no obligation or any condition that the Joint Review Panel approve the project. So, when you talk about mischaracterizations, you talk about misleading, you look at yourself, and you look at your comments because they have been –

MS MICHAEL: A point of order, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: The Member for Signal Hill Quidi Vidi, on a point of order.

MS MICHAEL: I think that the personal way in which the minister is speaking right now goes against our Standing Orders, and I want a ruling on it. I am getting tired of it; I am getting tired of the personal attacks.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. KENNEDY: So, Mr. Chair, what happens here is that we have the joint review – she does not like the decision. That is the problem. The member opposite does not like the decision because it shows how she operates, it shows how that party operates, and they will take whatever they can – she wanted Muskrat Falls to fail, they still want Muskrat Falls to fail, and she stands up today and said no, we do not want Muskrat Falls to fail.

Well, this same member stood in this House – we can go back through Hansard – and said that the Joint Review Panel did not approve the Muskrat Falls Project, and that should be a reason why Muskrat Falls should not proceed. The Joint Review Panel does not have to approve the project, it is not part of their mandate, it is an information-gathering process, and they make recommendations. Now, that is what the federal court said today. This is not me making it up, Sir. This is what the federal court said.

Now, let us just look at the member opposite, at the way she characterizes what they had to do. Because there has been no independent financial assessment and there has been no looking at alternatives. Well, let us look at when this took place. The hearings took place in 2011. The commitment to the federal loan guarantee, if I remember correctly, was made around May 2011.

So when you look at independent financial assessment, that has been done on a number of ways, and a number of different forums, I would suggest to you, Mr. Chair. We have had it done – as Nalcor goes to the bond rating agencies and provides, as I have indicated, the capital costs, operating and maintenance, they look out over the years, they look at their revenue stream, and they have to establish, because they need a certain credit rating to go to the lending institutions.

In this particular case I know we have had the DBRS bond-rating agency Standard & Poor's, and there is a third one I cannot remember off the top of my head that meetings have been conducted with. Having said that, the best independent financial assessment of all was that conducted by the federal government. I cannot overemphasize the rigorous financial assessment that took place with the federal government in the ongoing discussions on the federal loan guarantee. The six months of weekly meetings were around the financial aspects of this deal.

Mr. Chair, there have been independent assessments. The rating agencies have been dealt with. We now have the federal loan guarantee and we have the lending institutions who are lining up to lend money to this project. Mr. Chair, that rigorous process certainly establishes from our perspective the independent financial assessment, which was recommended by the Joint Review Panel. We could have ignored them altogether, but we have done it.

Let us look at what their other recommendation was in relation to alternatives. We were at the Decision Gate 2 stage. We have seen the difference in the engineering in terms of the 5 per cent engineering that was conducted at Decision Gate 2 versus the 50 per cent of engineering, which has been discussed as being completed at Decision Gate 3. We have the Decision Gate 3 numbers. Those Decision Gate 3 numbers went to the federal government in terms of their financial assessment. The Decision Gate 3 numbers have been discussed with the bond rating agencies. Independent assessment is satisfied.

Alternatives; well, we have looked at every alternative. I stood here today for three hours this morning and three hours the other night, talked about all the reports that have been obtained, had a great discussion with the Member for St. John's East in relation to natural gas alternatives, and looked at the steps we have taken. I am going to talk a little bit more tonight about other alternatives we have looked at and that were raised by members of the public.

The major ones raised were that we had not looked at large-scale wind nor had we looked at natural gas, whether it is importation or Grand Banks pipeline. We have looked at all of that, so the alternatives have been explored; the alternatives have been looked at. That was the second recommendation of the panel and we as a government feel that has been satisfied. I will tell you why we feel that has been satisfied: because we would not sanction if we thought there was another reason or another way to go about this.

What we have here is the member of the Third Party will do anything she can to stop this project. Well, it is too late. The ship has sailed, sanction is done, and we are moving on. You can either be with us or against us. We are willing to take our chance on history. By taking the coward's way out and by saying we are going to stand up against this project, that way if it goes wrong we can say we told you so. You should be supporting this project. You should be standing up and saying this is for the best interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Stop the foolishness you are getting on with.

So, Mr. Chair, we have been discussing this all day. She does not have to do what I ask her to do. Her silence on the Joint Review Panel; explain to the people of this Province how she could have misled them for the last number of months in saying that the Joint Review Panel did not approve this project when there was no obligation, it is not part of their mandate, and the Member for Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi, having been a member of a Joint Review Panel, knew that.

Now, someone explain to me how someone who sat on a panel and knows their duties, obligations, and role can come into this House day after day and use that as an excuse why Muskrat Falls did not proceed. I do not know the explanation. Well, I do know the explanation, but I am not going to get into here tonight any further than I have to.

Let us look at now what the panel suggested. They suggested there be an independent financial assessment. We have done that. They suggested you look at alternatives. We have done that, and we continue to do it up until the point of sanction. We have listened to the people of this Province. We have listened to the NDP. They wanted large-scale wind. We heard talks of natural gas. We listened to them on that, Mr. Chair. We have heard the issue, and I will get into it a little later on tonight, of why do you not recall power pursuant to section 92.a? Why do you not wait until 2041? Why do you not develop Gull Island?

We have looked at all of those options, and I do not know what other options are left. Muskrat Falls is $2.4 billion cheaper in terms of a CPW preference than the next closest project. This tonight is another example and another vindication of the steps we are taking to develop Muskrat Falls. Again, it is the right decision.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I just have a few more things I want to respond to from the minister. First of all, anybody who was listening to me the last time I spoke will get a very clear understanding of what I meant when I talked about the review panel and this project. It was very clear what I meant. They had reservations, their recommendations recognized those reservations, and that is a valid statement. Whether or not the government wanted to go along with those recommendations, it is true they had the option. The point I made was that in responding they did not give their reasons.

Now, I want to speak to recommendation 4-2. Chapter 4 is the chapter where the recommendations are. I want to do it because of what the minister has brought up. I would really appreciate being able to do it. I would really appreciate being able to speak without having constant comment going on.

The second recommendation is an "Independent analysis of alternatives to meeting domestic demand". They say the analysis should be totally independent and should address the question, "What would be the best way to meet domestic demand under the ‘No Project' option…?" In other words, do not put projects out there. Have an open plate and say: There is no project; what would be the best way to meet the demands?

Then they have nine bullets, and I will not read them all, in which they point out things that should be addressed in those considerations. Some of us have heard these things before from the panel and from other experts around. I will pick some that are significant: "why Nalcor's least cost alternative to meet domestic demand to 2067 does not include Churchill Falls power which would be available in large quantities from 2041, or any recall power in excess of Labrador's needs prior to that date, especially since both would be available at near zero generation cost (recognizing that there would be transmission costs involved)…". Government speaks about it, but they have not given us an analysis of that.

"The use of Gull Island power when and if it becomes available since it has a lower per unit generation cost than Muskrat Falls…" should be part of the consideration; and "the extent to which Nalcor's analysis looked only at current technology and systems versus factoring in developing technology…" This was a very forward looking panel, Mr. Chair.

Another one, and this one is key, is one we have raised. I know my colleague from St. John's East has raised it, I have raised it, and experts outside of this House have raised it: "a review of Nalcor's assumptions regarding the price of oil till 2067, since the analysis provided was particularly sensitive to this variable…" It goes on, Mr. Chair.

What they asked for was an independent integrated study of all the alternatives with grave concerns about nine separate areas. This has come from a tremendous amount of study and analysis, and all the government said is: We do not agree with the assumption of the panel. There is no assumption; they did an analysis.

Mr. Chair, the only thing I am trying to point out, and what I have always tried to point out, is an expert panel appointed by the federal and provincial governments and funded by the provincial and federal governments who took four years to do their work and write the report make these serious recommendations, which include the analysis of experts from around the world, and the government just says: We disagree.

That is the point I have been trying to make, and I want to make it clearly now. I do not need the minister to stand up and paraphrase and misinterpret what I have said.

Thank you very much.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. KENNEDY: I am not misinterpreting anything that was said, Mr. Chair. The member opposite, the Member for Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi has stood up in this House on a number of occasions and said clearly that the Joint Review Panel has not approved Muskrat Falls and therefore we cannot proceed. Those are the words that came out of her – she said.

We will go and check Hansard. I can have that done fairly quickly. As we speak here tonight we will have the answers before we come back. I am hoping that when she is confronted with her own words she will come back and apologize for trying to mislead this House, and in characterizing the role of a Joint Review Panel as one that it is not – especially, as she should know better, having sat on a Joint Review Panel at one point.

The member opposite talks about conditions of having independent experts. What are the experts we have obtained? The only expert for the NDP is an expert who will say that Muskrat Falls is not a good project, so Muskrat Falls must fail. That is the definition of an NDP expert. I do not know who they are, they talk about experts.

I challenge the Member for St. John's East – and I have not disputed his knowledge in certain areas of natural gas and oil pricing. I challenge him today to show us where the reports that we have prepared, for example, on natural gas were wrong. I talked about how I had met with Wood Mackenzie in London and they gave us their pricing on oil, Mr. Chair. I talked about PIRA and the fact that they serve 500 or 600 companies, all of the top companies in the world. I asked, I said show me where they are wrong.

Who are you supposed to consult? How do you define independent? Independent is someone who gives you work for free, is that independent? If that is independent there are very few independent experts out in the world because people do not work for free.

We have a natural gas study from a group out of Calgary – by the way, the demeaning way in which the Leader of the NDP spoke about them a couple of weeks ago was certainly shocking, to diminish the reputation of an internationally recognized company like that. It just shows us though the approach that she has taken is that Muskrat Falls must fail at all cost.

Then, Mr. Chair, we go to Wood Mackenzie, a recognized international energy consulting company that happen to be our energy advisors. They operate out of Edinburgh, London, Houston, New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong, but no, these are not good enough experts. Do you know something that is even more bothersome though, Mr. Chair – and this is a point that the Premier has made throughout – is that they do not recognize the expertise of Nalcor.

Our own people, our born and bred Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who are committed to this Province, they are not good enough for the NDP. We cannot recognize their expertise. Well, I can say that Ed Martin and Gilbert Bennett, whether you agree with them or not, have been provided briefings whenever requested. They have been there. They have gone throughout this Province. I spoke earlier today about Jim Keating and his background in oil and gas.

What we did in this case, Mr. Chair, even though the Decision Gate 2 process had excluded natural gas, had excluded large scale wind, we went and tested it anyway because we felt as a government that we were not questioning Nalcor, what we were doing we were testing their conclusions. That is something we had to do and something that Mr. Martin and his group agreed with. What came back at the end of the day were the alternatives were not viable.

Now, the waiting for 2041 is something that myself and the Member for St. Barbe are going to have a discussion on as we move throughout the night and into the early morning hours, at least until my voice keeps going, and we are going to talk about waiting until 2041. It is not that simple. I laboured under the illusion at one point that we would get free power in 2031, but when you look at the corporate structure and you look at what takes place it is not that simple.

We have talked about Gull Island; the development of Gull Island is certainly something we would all love to do. If all those mining companies were going to proceed we would do it. To say we have not explored the alternatives, I would suggest again because it does not fit in with the theory of the NDP – excuse me, not the theory – the wish of the NDP, that Muskrat Falls must fail at all cost. Despite what Thomas Mulcair says, despite the approach taken by Jack Layton, despite the approach taken by Jack Harris, despite the approach taken by Premier Darrell Dexter in Nova Scotia who all support the project, yet this NDP does not. It is rather sad in a way.

There is nothing wrong with asking questions. Lots of questions have been asked here and we will continue to try to answer those questions. I have a list of them I am hoping to get to as we move throughout the day.

What this Joint Review Panel does tonight, it verifies what we have said all along, is that the Joint Review Panel had a role to play but their approval was not necessary for the process. If I understand the Leader of the Third Party, her good friend – what is his name, the guy from Ontario? Earlier today he talked about the Joint Review Panel. Sure, let's get the experts from Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Ontario, the uninformed experts. Let's take their advice because they say what we want them to say, says the NDP.

Let's not look at our homegrown experts. Let's not look at Nalcor. Let's not look at their commitment to this Province. Let's not give them the credit that they are due. Let's not look at the fact that all of their conclusions have been tested. Let's not look at the fact that independent experts throughout the world have confirmed what Nalcor concluded. Let's not do any of that. Let's look at the Open Line experts. Let's look at the guys who write blogs and let's say: Well, they are the experts we need because they are with us, Muskrat Falls must fail.

That is the approach. I wish there was a more sympathetic way to put that. I wish, Mr. Chair, there was a way to be kinder. We have sat here for months – over three months ago almost now we released these reports. Yet, what have we heard from the NDP? That the Joint Review Panel did not approve the project, therefore Muskrat Falls cannot proceed.

What do we have tonight? We have a description of the role of the Joint Review Panel. What is really bothersome is, when you look at that role, and the Leader of the Third Party sat on a Joint Review Panel, yet she can stand up in this House and in public and say that is a reason for Muskrat Falls not to proceed. That is scandalous. I know of no other word to describe that approach other than scandalous. A Joint Review Panel is established to fulfill an information gathering and recommending function under CEAA.

She does not agree with CEAA either, but we are closing Holyrood. She does not agree with the environmental acts that the Government of Canada has, yet we are closing Holyrood. This is the same member who marched up and down – according to what I have heard – in front of Holyrood and said: Close Holyrood, close Holyrood; with their placards and their signs and with their former national leader. It was convenient at that point.

Does she show any concern, or her party show any concern for the people of Holyrood? Has anyone on this side of the House heard any concern for the people of Holyrood? No, because it is not politically expedient.

AN HON. MEMBER: Only when they thought the project would not proceed.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, that is right, when they thought the project would not proceed.

I am hoping that the Minister of the Child, Youth and Family Services before the night is out will get up and outline those statements that the Leader of the Third Party said in the past. I am hoping she will get up and remind the Leader of the Third Party of her approach. How can someone who sat on an environmental assessment panel ignore the environment? To ignore the closing of Holyrood, you are ignoring the environment. It is as simple as that. Again, I wish there was a different way to put it.

Mr. Chair, I am going to end with this, because the federal loan guarantee – and they have done everything. What was it the member of the NDP said earlier today? What was it? That we sold out to Stephen Harper for $1 billion.

AN HON. MEMBER: All of that for $1 billion.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, all of that for $1 billion.

The Member for the Straits, when he comes back we will have a discussion about pellets. We do not have enough wood in the Province to produce the pellets you would need to run Holyrood, yet he stands up there. We have the Member for St. John's Centre Tweeting that we need power but not my kind of power, whatever that is.

The only sensible – actually, I will give the Member for St. John's North his due. His comments earlier today, he engaged in some sensible debate and so did the Member for St. John's East. Even though they are against the project, that is more for – because they think it is politically expedient to be against the project.

At the end of it all, we are going to go back and check Hansard. We are going to find out what the Member of the NDP said. Over the next few days I will have the opportunity to stand up in this House and say this is what you said in Hansard, this is what the agreement says, now what do you say?

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR (Littlejohn): The hon. the Leader of the Official Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Usually over Christmas when you do some visiting or especially in the winter season you can walk into somebody's house and you can always tell when there is wood heat. That is one of the things I know from my friends. A lot of people that I know still burn wood heat. You can always walk in and say well, they have wood heat in this house. There is no question that the temperature in the house, in this House in particular, rises every now and then when we start talking about pellets and we start talking about wood heat and all of the other replacements that we would have for the energy needs of the Province.

I want to switch gears a little bit, but it has been really – I think the debate tonight has been really fascinating to some degree. This is how I anticipated the debate that we had first discussed back in June, that we would have these ten minute sessions. We would have the minister on his feet, and us as Opposition members, that we would pose questions to government on behalf of the residents of the Province about the Muskrat Falls Project.

I will say that I believe the Minister of Natural Resources made himself very available today. I guess if you had to count the number of words the minister has spoken today they would be probably in the billions, probably in the same cost as Muskrat Falls. If every dollar was a word we would probably be in the $8 billion range right now.

Mr. Chair, I want to switch gears a little bit tonight and just change the discussion a little bit around the financing piece of this project. We have been hearing for weeks now, months really, that people are lining up. I mentioned today that I did not really think there would be a Boxing Day sale on bonds, so it was not necessary that this get done by December 26 for some reason. I do not think the CEO of Nalcor was going shopping for a bond on Boxing Day and expecting to get some kind of deal.

Mr. Chair, we have heard quite often in the House about how people are lining up, financial institutions are lining up, positioning themselves to finance this particular project. As a result of the federal loan guarantee, we have seen a very robust review of the project and, indeed, people are anxious to finance this.

Well, Mr. Chair, I want to make it quite clear why people are lining up to finance this particular project. It is not because of the lowest cost option; it is not because this is the best option or whatever the case may be. It is simply because of a condition in the federal loan guarantee, and that condition is clearly outlined in Schedule A in section 3 of the loan guarantee. It clearly says that in order for the federal government loan guarantee to be triggered there must be a power purchase agreement in place that would guarantee the revenue stream for this particular project.

I just want to circle back a little bit for a few minutes about the structure of the Muskrat Falls Project. We all know in this House that indeed it is meant to be 40 per cent for the ratepayers of the Province, which includes the closing down of Holyrood, because Holyrood has provided about 15 per cent to 20 per cent of the capacity of our power needs for the Island. Capacity is a little different than, it's the ability to produce power. It says part of the capacity in that we can actually use it when we need it.

In this particular case, what the Muskrat Falls Project – once that gets done, and as the minister said in his words, the ship has sailed, this project would decommission Holyrood, and this should be part of the project. The 40 per cent that will be paid for by the ratepayers which is to meet the Island demand on the Province, which of course is shutting down Holyrood, 20 per cent will go to Emera for their investment for thirty-five years into the Maritime Link and 40 per cent for export.

We learned today that as a result of the export power that is anticipated – and the Minister of Finance made a comment that over the fifty-year life of the project into 2067, the Muskrat Falls Project would contribute about $24 billion to the Province by dividends from Nalcor, or the subsidiaries of Nalcor; the subsidiaries that will eventually own the Muskrat Falls Project.

This $24 billion that we are talking about has two components. It has two components, Mr. Chair, $4 billion of it, as the minister said today, is from the export market. The other $20 billion, interestingly enough, comes from the ratepayers of the Province. As I just said earlier, this particular project is 40 per cent to the ratepayer, 40 per cent for the export market, and 20 per cent for Emera.

If you look at the ratepayer portion, $20 billion for the ratepayers on the Island, they have really no say into this because their rate is set by a power purchase take or pay arrangement. So, whether we use it or not we are going to pay for it. The other 40 per cent, which would be export, will only contribute $4 billion over the life of this project. One could argue: Oh sure, we could let it just flow over the falls and not sell it. There was no question that we should capitalize on this $4 billion.

Really, what it shows is that this so-called robust review of the project is simply based on the fact that, indeed, this will actually remove us off oil and remove our economy off oil. It is only because we can charge the ratepayer what we want. This is based on the power purchase agreement that is put in place between Nalcor and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

This $20 billion we are talking about is really – I guess we could look for other words to describe it, but this is, in some way, just a form of a utility tax. The $20 billion will contribute through the dividends of Nalcor simply because the ratepayers of the Province actually pay this amount of money. The fact that this project is financially viable only works because we are in a position, through the power purchase agreement, where we can actually charge the ratepayers of the Province what we want under the take or pay option.

Mr. Chair, this today, as I mentioned earlier about the $24 billion in contributions over the fifty years of the project, is broken down into two components, $20 billion from the ratepayers of the Province. This is where the dividends would come from, and the $4 billion available through the export option. This is what is making this project work financially. This is what is making this project work when you go looking for financing.

I would not want to describe the project simply based on its financial merits. Without this power purchase agreement this particular project would not be as attractive to the bond agencies and the federal loan guarantee. By the same argument, the federal government would not be putting this federal loan guarantee in place without this power purchase agreement in place for the people of this Province.

Mr. Chair, I also want to say the $20 billion that has been outlined there, it is difficult to actually forecast that because one of the things that is not included here is that we really do not know what the cost overruns on this particular project will be, but that is for a different day.

I make the point today, when we listen to members opposite talk about the robust review, that people are indeed lining up to finance this particular project, it is simply based on the fact that we can and we will put a power purchase agreement in place, which is a condition of the federal loan guarantee, in this particular case; and the power purchase agreement will be in place by the subsidiaries of Nalcor, plus Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, which will then go ahead and feed into the overall blended rate of the ratepayers of this Province. This project, on its own merit, simply works financially because of the power purchase agreement, not because of the design of the project.

I just want to make this point, that people do look at this particular project simply because of the power purchase agreement that will be put in place. Now, whether that dividend could be a lower dividend and the ratepayers would actually pay a lower rate that is a different argument. It is one agreement, Mr. Chair, that I would actually entertain. As a provider of energy for the Province through our company, through our government owned Nalcor, it was not meant, I do not believe, that that particular company would be designed to be put in the position that they could actually sell, in this particular case, energy to the ratepayers of the Province and that would be their business model.

We understood that Nalcor would be a business that would operate in a free capitalized market that would go out and compete, just like any other corporation; but, in this particular case, Nalcor will have the ability, through their subsidiary companies, to actually put in a take-or-pay contract and the dividends that will actually come back to Nalcor and eventually come back to the people of the Province essentially works because we have a take or pay with the power purchase agreement in place that will impact the rates of this Province.

Mr. Chair, this is something that I just wanted to get out there so we can actually describe why it is that the $20 billion is available to the Province and the $4 billion in the export market that will actually be paid to Nalcor.

Mr. Chair, thank you for your time, Sir.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I was going to go into the FERC note, but I will wait a little while to deal with that; the Member for Burgeo – La Poile raised these issues earlier today. I am going to address the issue raised by the Leader of the Opposition, because it is a legitimate issue. People are wondering what is going to happen with our rates and what is going to happen with the money.

All of us have stated that we cannot absolutely guarantee that there will not be overruns. To say anything otherwise, would not be honest. So we are looking at: What will the overruns be?

The Decision Gate 2 engineering versus the Decision Gate 3, there has been a lot of engineering done. Mr. Martin and Mr. Bennett have indicated that they feel that the amount of engineering has been done in the tricky areas. I outlined the other day when I talked about the Decision Gate 3 numbers how the cost increase for Decision Gate 3 came from the transmission. I outlined in some detail, and I can find the number again in a second.

In any event, what we tried to do, Mr. Chair, to help the people of the Province, as a guide to the people of the Province, were two steps. One, we looked at electricity rates forecasting. Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro – their forecasting people have had a lot of experience with this. They looked at the forecasting, but one of the things we have to recognize and one of the things I tried to illustrate earlier today is that we are actually living in a Province where electricity rates are pretty good.

Despite the significant increases between 2000-2011 and 2011-2016, that have nothing to do with Muskrat Falls, we are still in a pretty good spot. I used two charts earlier today to talk about that. In our paper, Electricity Rates Forecasting – and I refer to page 5 – we look at the fact that Labrador currently pays – and this is the average ratepayer.

To explain to the viewers, Mr. Chair, how we come up with an average ratepayer. Theoretically, there is no one out there who burns 1,517 kilowatt hours of energy. We had three profiles developed. One was the individual who just used electricity, and there were approximately 90,000 people there with 770 to 790 kilowatts of energy per month. Then we had the 146,000 people who burned approximately 2,100-kilowatt hours of energy a month. We then said, out of our 236,000 or 240,000 ratepayers that we have on the Island, the third profile is the average ratepayer who burns approximately 1,517 kilowatt hours of energy per month.

Then we said: Well, where is that ratepayer, he or she, in terms of the overall cost in the country? What we found is that Labrador currently has the cheapest rates. What is interesting in Labrador – and I apologize if this number is incorrect. Last week I asked how much energy is used in Labrador. The kilowatt hours of approximately 2,400 is the average in Labrador West. Then we get into the $40 million subsidy on the South Coast, 1000 kilowatt hours available to the lifeline block, and then the cost goes up.

In any event, Newfoundland and Labrador is currently at 12.6 cents, the average ratepayer. That is in a tie right now with New Brunswick, and fourth lowest in the country, behind Quebec, Manitoba, and BC, which all have large hydro. We are project to pay, when Muskrat Falls comes on – I am going to start with the kilowatt hours for a second. At 15.1 cents a kilowatt hour, we are projected to pay in 2017 what they are paying today in Nova Scotia and Ontario.

The other chart I illustrated earlier today was the rest of the world. We found three countries that were paying less than fifteen US cents a kilowatt hour. That does not necessarily mean a lot. They were Mexico, the United States, and Iceland. At the request of the Member for St. John's North, I went out and we checked on Iceland. They pay less than the fifteen cents a kilowatt hour. We have Italy paying thirty-two to thirty-three cents. We have Ireland and the United Kingdom paying from twenty-four to twenty-eight cents. We have Austria paying twenty-six, twenty-seven cents. All European countries pay a lot for energy. We are doing okay in terms of the rest of the world and the rest of the country.

Then what we looked at: Well, it is nice to talk kilowatt hours, but how can we show people what we expect them to pay? That is how we came up with our charts. If you look at the various charts outlined in the electricity rates forecasting, obviously we had enough confidence to put this in writing knowing that once it is in writing it is there forever. Words may disappear or be interpreted, but when it is in writing, it is there.

If you look at the average monthly bill, we are looking at from 2016 – and this is an assumption of no overruns at present – it will go from $241 to $231 with Muskrat Falls and from $214 to $229 without Muskrat Falls. Then we see the charts diverge and Muskrat Falls becomes cheaper in that the rate increase without Muskrat Falls would be twice as expensive as without.

Obviously there are assumptions involved. We are trying to look twenty to thirty years out. There are assumptions involved, no question about that. We are making assumptions on the price of oil. As the footnote says, these charts are meant to be illustrative. They are meant to help people and show that this is the way Muskrat Falls will affect you.

We also know, then, as to the revenue stream that there will be a significant revenue stream. That $229 a month for the average ratepayer in 2017 includes your capital costs, your operating and maintenance costs, and your financing costs. That is where the mere $1 billion comes in, by the way, to save ratepayers money of the federal loan guarantee. That is where you look at your interest during construction and other costs.

Even with all of those costs in, and the rates being what we project them to be, we do know by 2020, for example, it is projected to be – oh, I forgot the return on equity. There is also built in an 8.4 per cent return on equity, which I understand is rather standard for the utilities. In fact, Emera is seeking 9.2 per cent, I think, at their UARB hearings. So there will be $134 million.

Now, I am going to explain the way I thought about this. I am going to explain the way the Premier dealt with this to illustrate that I probably wanted to take the easier way out. It seemed to me the argument being put forward when I first thought about it was attractive. Let us take the money, the profit, and put them back in the rates.

The Premier from day one said no, that is not the way. The Minister of Finance, to give them their due both of them stood firm, and they said the money will be there for the government of the day to make the decisions as to how they want to proceed. The government of the day can look at the needs. We have Hebron coming on in 2017, so we will get some good money start to flow there hopefully. The government of the day may decide. I think the Premier has used these words and the Minister of Finance has used these words. The government of the day hopefully will be us, but we do not know that. That is 2020. I will be starting to get older, and the Minister of Finance will be a little bit older himself.

The government of the day will decide. Isn't that a sensible way? Just think about it, though. If you are the government, which I hope you are not, just to be clear, you can decide. Let us look at who we can subsidize here. Maybe we do not need to subsidize everyone. If I am practicing law, which I hopefully will be, and if I am making $300 or $400 an hour, which hopefully I will, then I do not expect to be subsidized. Why should I be subsidized for my electricity bill? If you were to ask me do you want a subsidy, or should the subsidy go to the senior citizen, to the single mother, to the low-income family, that subsidy you were going to give to me, you give it to them. I do not want that.

Isn't that a better way to look at it? As we move through this there will be money available. We may need hospitals, we may need roads, and we may need social programs. Despite the criticisms at times, we have a very good Poverty Reduction Strategy, we have a Violence Prevention program, we have good social programs, and we have a good health care program. In 2020 there will be money available for the government to decide.

It would be politically popular to say now we will put the money into rates, but the Premier and the minister stood firm and they were right. This is the right way to do it. It does not mean that you do not subsidize some of the rates if there are the overruns, not at all. I think any government would look at that. At the end of it all, the government of the day will make the decision. I think that is actually a very sensible, logical, and good way to deal with it.

What are we going to do? Let us just be sensible here now. We are going to say we will put it in the rates. What about in 2017 we are not around? Then we are binding the hands. What are you going to do, bring in legislation? I think someone mentioned that earlier today. If there is a way to do it, but legislation can be changed and policies can be changed. The government of the day can look at this.

I am sure the Minister of Finance, as I have said such good things about him, will want to have a few comments about me shortly.

Thank you very much.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It is indeed, as I said earlier, a great debate. The whole idea and my argument about the $20 billion in terms of the dividend and how it is used, I never did say tonight here it should go back to the ratepayers. I have said in the past that is a consideration, and I agree with the minister maybe for some government it would seem to be an attractive public policy, I believe, and that somebody would actually do that.

As a matter of fact, I would not be surprised if in some future date some government did make that a campaign policy, a part of some Red Book, orange book, Blue Book, or whatever blueprint it was. Name whatever book you would. Unlike the minister, I hope in 2015 it is our government that actually would be in the position to have to make that decision.

Mr. Chair, my argument about the $24 billion in return, or in the robust review, was not simply about the fact of how we use the money. It was more about the arguments we make about the Muskrat Falls Project and we have all said because of robust reviews. I just want to make the point that the only reason we could stand in this House and say that is because we have the ability to do that through a power purchase agreement, which indeed is very unusual in our situation.

As a matter of fact, except for some wind power, we really do not have too many other power purchase agreements in place. We have done that with a private company and the power purchase agreement, I understand, gives them a rate of return. The rate of return on the equity for the investment into the utility is not unusual.

What I am saying is when we go out and we make the argument that this particular project here, as an investment, will bring in a dividend to the Province, it is simply because through the power purchase agreement we can actually charge the people of the Province a rate on their electricity bills that they really have no say in. The power purchase agreement will be put in place as a condition of the federal loan guarantee, as I said, in Schedule A, in section 3. It is there. This power purchase agreement is designed to set a rate for the Muskrat Falls power.

Mr. Chair, as I move on I want to talk a little bit about Holyrood. This was something I brought up in Question Period today. As an Opposition we asked for a debate in this House. The Premier has said that as Leader of the Opposition I have asked for a debate many, many times, and we certainly did. As I said, this kind of debate and this back and forth from the ministers is how I always anticipated and I always felt the debate would look like.

When we have talked about the development of the Muskrat Falls Project, one of the things there everybody has been very clear on. I am certainly on the public record as saying we do not support the continued operation of the Holyrood Generating Station like it is now. Something needs to be done there. As part of the Muskrat Falls Project, one of the rationales for doing this project has always been that Holyrood would close up. As a matter of fact, many times even this week we have heard ministers on their feet and we have heard MHAs representing the areas talk about from time to time you would even get soot come out of the stacks that are in Holyrood. It causes considerable damage to people who live in that area.

People talk about the emissions and what it does, Mr. Chair, for the people in Holyrood. As a matter of fact, the mayor even said, and I think at one point someone was quoted this week as saying, that we should close up Holyrood. Indeed, it was not closing up Holyrood, he said. What he was talking about and of course what we always talk about is closing the generating station in Holyrood. It is not about closing the community of Holyrood; it is about closing the generating station in Holyrood.

Mr. Chair, one of the questions we asked today was, as part of the Muskrat Falls Project and as part of the definition of the project, we should set a date to decommission the Holyrood Generating Station. This is a plant that has been in place I believe now for about forty years. Two of the generators have been in place now for forty-one years and the other one thirty-three years.

Even Nalcor and people who live in that area say, and they make it quite clear, that this station has really outlived itself. It needs to be replaced. There has been some refurbishing that has been done. It is a 490 megawatt generating station. I think there is a common view that something needs to be done with Holyrood.

What we have been asking for today, and we have asked this question in Question Period, is that as part of this, when you look at Bill 61, and when you look at the definition of the Muskrat Falls Project, there is really nothing there that sets a date to decommission Muskrat. What we were saying is if indeed this is part of the commitment, if this is part of the reason for doing this, what we should do is establish a date. Let us establish it now.

I can assure you the people who are living in the Holyrood area would be happy to see this particular date put in this piece of legislation so they will know and it will be very clear to people that government is committed to closing Holyrood. The date would clearly be established. It would become part of this legislation. It would be enshrined there so people would know once the Muskrat Falls development is completed – we know now that is expected to be in 2017, if the schedule stays intact.

Mr. Chair, since the sanction date on December 17, this particular project, as the minister said, the ship has sailed. It is now time. If this particular project stays on schedule and it is completed in 2017, or whatever the completion date is, we need to establish very clearly what the decommissioning time would be for Holyrood. What we are suggesting is that if government is clearly committed to closing Holyrood, if that is a commitment and a premise to do one of the basic principles of doing the Muskrat Falls Project, let us let the people in Holyrood know that. Let us establish that date right now. Let us agree to put the amendment in place.

We will be discussing this further. We did ask the question today. There was not really any clear commitment to this. The people in Holyrood and the people of the Province who are interested in seeing this plant close up – I have been asked many times in media interviews I have done over the last year: What would you do as Leader of the Opposition with Holyrood? Well, we know it is a polluter. We know it has outlived its lifecycle. We know now, with the Muskrat Falls Project, in the definition we have seen in this particular piece of legislation, decommissioning of the Holyrood Generating Station is not clearly established.

I think it is time under the Muskrat Falls Project, under the definition of this, somewhere in this piece of legislation, we need to let the people of the Province, and in particular we need to let the people of Holyrood know that it is time to decommission the Holyrood Generating Station. When that happens, let us let the people of Holyrood know that now. If indeed the Muskrat Falls Project is one of the reasons for doing Muskrat Falls, that we need to close up Holyrood, if we need to have more green energy as they said, that would mean closing Holyrood. The time would be to actually do this while we have the opportunity in this particular piece of legislation, Mr. Chair.

I touched on two things now: one about the financing through the power purchase agreement; the $20 billion that will come back from the ratepayers of the Province clearly has nothing to do with the robust review of the project or how this project stands on its own two feet. It is clearly designed simply because we have the ability to put a take-or-pay power purchase agreement in place. The ratepayers will essentially have no say into this.

The Muskrat Falls power will feed into the provincial grid. This rate is set from a power purchase agreement between Nalcor, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Now we know, from the comments made by the minister today, that the export power will generate $4 billion. None of this will go back to offset the rates of the Province. All of it will be used by Nalcor through the directive of government as they see fit.

Mr. Chair, it is the $24 billion that we talked about, that comes from the power purchase agreement. I do believe right now that it is time to let the people of Holyrood, through the definition of the Muskrat Falls Project, if indeed we are sincerely and genuinely committed to closing this plant, now is the time to let the people of this Province know. Bill 61 can allow us to do that. It is time to include that in the definition of this now, Mr. Chair.

Thank you for the opportunity. I look forward to the response.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to address now an issue that was raised by the Member for Burgeo – La Poile earlier today, and also a question that was raised during Question Period by the Leader of the Opposition. That deals with our exclusivity on Nalcor in this Province. We are really formalizing the situation that currently exists, but the building of the link will theoretically allow for other power companies to try to sell power in our Province.

The Member for Burgeo – La Poile asked the issue – and I do not think it is a NAFTA issue as much it is an Open Access Transmission Tariff issue. The reason I know this is because we have a lot of dealings with this in Quebec. In the paper called Legal Options we outlined the –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. KENNEDY: No, but the point raised by the Member for Burgeo – La Poile is a valid one. If we are going to trade energy in the United States, which we are hoping to do at some point, then what happens is that we then adopt those open access rules. They do not apply in Canada with the same force and effect. They apply, though, if you are a trading partner with the United States.

That is the basis upon which we have tried. We thought that we could get power to Quebec by going to their Rιgie. We made an application under the Open Access Transmission Tariff. The FERC or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 1996 changed the way that electricity was transmitted and sold in the United States. Prior to this change large, international, integrated generation and transmission facilities were able to exercise monopoly and control – so the word monopoly is there – over large geographical areas by restricting access to their transmission and distribution grids.

Well, this is the same issue that we are having with Quebec at present. These utilities had an unfettered ability at that point, but this exclusivity I think it is important to recognize that we are not the only province that would be exercising that exclusivity or monopoly. I am going to get to what I think the answer to both members' questions is in a second. It is important to note that in Saskatchewan the Power Corporation Act gives Saskatchewan Power the exclusive right to supply, transmit, distribute, and sell electrical energy.

Essentially we based our section of the act on this. Notwithstanding anything, notwithstanding any special franchise, they are giving an exclusivity or monopoly, for a lack of a better term. It does say: The corporation may, on terms and conditions, consent to the supply, transmission, and distribution. They then go on: In Manitoba, there is a regime set up according to which Manitoba Hydro owns and operates the generation, transmission, and distribution system in the Province. Cabinet can give approval to develop generation.

Now, the importance of this is that there is – and we have indicated that the Maritime Link we hope to trade energy in the United States at some point that we will develop surplus energy, not only in the spot markets but some point in the future the American markets will open up, which we expect to be – based on a Navigant report provided to the Atlantic Energy Gateway Ministers in PEI, I think it was September in the 2020s.

When FERC developed this model for the electricity markets, it required all transmission owners that provide non-discriminatory access and comparable transmission service to anyone who wants to sell electricity but requires transmission access. In order to facilitate and regulate the market, FERC requires that all transmission providers publish an Open Access Transmission Tariff, or an OATT, that gives all potential users a transparent view on the access requirements. The purpose of the OATT is to ensure that third parties are provided transmission service by a transmission provider.

Now, theoretically, that is the theory that if you fail to issue an OATT or to follow the standardized process this will result in sanctions being imposed by FERC, but that is in the United States. Canada does not have any similar type of open access requirements; however, as most Canadian provinces engage in electricity trade to the US, almost all provincial utilities have adopted an OATT.

We have a situation here where we are saying that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro will be the exclusive distributor – not distributor, because it is not that. Newfoundland Power will continue to – what are my words here, Minister of Finance? Let me get the act here to be certain. I am sorry, just one second. I apologize.

Exclusive right: "Notwithstanding another provision of this Act or another Act, a retailer… shall not develop, own, operate, manage or control a facility for the generation and supply of electrical power or energy…"

It "…does not apply to an industrial customer if that industrial customer is purchasing electrical power or energy…" and it does not apply "to generation facilities owned, operated, managed or controlled…" at present. It goes on to talk about, "A contract… entered into before or after the coming into force of this section…"

Essentially, what we have, we are taking the situation now with Newfoundland Power – they have their current situation, it will continue. What we are looking at is because of the fifty-year loan guarantee time frame. Now, it is important to note, even though we say they are restricted for fifty years, the loan itself could be paid off much earlier than that. It is possible, theoretically, when I look at the revenue stream or if the Province had significant oil revenues, this could be paid off within thirty years. We cannot always say it is a fifty-year term. The term of fifty years is that which is outlined in the loan guarantee to ensure the revenue stream, but once the loan is paid off the loan guarantee obviously no longer exists.

The situation raised by the members, I think both of them, and I think the OATT would be the more appropriate one, is: What would happen if an application was made by another company to bring power into the Province? That is something that would have to be looked at seriously, obviously. We are now in Quebec arguing that we should have open access against Quebec. We have been at that now I think it is for – since 2006, we have been blocked by Quebec. So we would have to ensure there is a fair process in place.

It would be rather hypocritical of us, or whoever the government is at the time – obviously, I am just speaking in a theoretical situation. The government at the time would have to deal with it, but it would be rather hypocritical to argue that Quebec has treated us unfairly by applying the OATT and we are here saying it should be strictly applied. I am not saying that it would be granted, but what I am saying is it would appear to me that there would be certainly an argument that the open access should be granted. You would have to look at – pardon?

MR. MARSHALL: There is not enough capacity.

MR. KENNEDY: Well, that is the issue. I think that would really be the issue of capacity because the cost of bringing power into the Province – you have a 500 megawatt Maritime Link at present. We know 170 megawatts will be used, so that leaves 330 megawatts. We hope that by the time anyone else would be looking at bringing energy in, we will be in a position to send that much energy out and hopefully there will be markets.

Our capacity in the Province for a number of years – and we are up to 200 megawatts of capacity or peak demand come 2017. I cannot say that I know what the answer is but what I would suggest is it would be hard to argue against someone even bringing their application, that is a different thing because being successful – that is another issue for the government of the day. I think also it is important to recognize that in our role as legislators, we are bringing in legislation today that can be changed tomorrow. Legislation is not something that when it is brought in is there forever

As a lawyer, what you do is you look at the intent of the legislation. You go back at times to Hansard. What did Hansard – what was the requirement of the act? What was it the legislators were trying to establish? You would look at all of that and say well, this is the way it works in other provinces. This is the issue in Quebec. There are exclusivity clauses in two other provinces, and this is the way it has to be at present.

Could someone make application? Certainly. Would they have an argument that the Open Access Transmission Tariff applies if we are trading in the United States? Certainly. Would they have to be treated fairly? Certainly, because we have a history of not being treated fairly; it is something that we complain about. It is something that we are complaining about now in Quebec, that they do not apply the Open Access Transmission Tariff properly.

There are currently two actions we have taken out, two applications under the Open Access Transmission Tariff, but there has to be capacity on the lines. That is something that is an important issue. You have to have capacity on your lines and there would have to be costs that would make it worthwhile. Personally, I do not see that happening in the first decade or so. Could it happen later on? Who knows?

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

MR. KENNEDY: Sorry.

Thank you very much.

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

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

I am very happy to stand and speak to this. It is almost 10:00 o'clock, so we are slipping into another all-nighter and it is great to see all of us here.

I would like to thank all the people who are working so hard and who have been working so hard over the past few days, particularly the Table Officers and everyone from the Clerk's Office. I know this has been a lot of hard work, dedication, and commitment. Then the folks down there in the Broadcast Centre who are making sure everything is recorded and brought to the citizens of the Province. They, too, are working really hard.

The people in Hansard, all the departmental staff, political staff, the Commissionaires, everybody is working really hard to make this possible for us all to be here, to speak to one another and to ask each other questions. The extra work for the security guards, the cleaning staff, and then all of the MHAs, my colleagues here in the House, the commitment and dedication to the task we have before us is admirable. We know we are all working under a certain amount of strain.

One of the issues I have been wondering about and talked a little bit about over the past few days is the whole issue of looking at alternatives. For me, looking at alternatives is not looking at whether it is wind power, how can we do this with wind power. Basically, it is about looking at an integrative design.

We are at interesting point here in our history, with our 500,000 people and our prosperity, with an energy challenge facing us, with the possibility of developing resources, the possibility of new industries, the possibility of perhaps, who knows, even a growing population. We know the work and job opportunities that will be presented by the Muskrat Falls Project itself and all of its subsidiaries will offer perhaps thousands of jobs, some of them longer term and some of them shorter term. All of this proves to be a challenge on how we will meet our energy needs.

My question has been, and I still do not have a satisfactory answer: What was the initial task given to Mr. Ed Martin, who has worked so hard, and Nalcor to look at how to answer our energy and our power challenge present and in the future, in the near future and also far off in the future? I am not quite sure whether or not it was an open-ended question, or whether it was how we can make Muskrat Falls work and if that was the solution. It is interesting to see what is happening around the world in terms of countries, of municipalities, and of individual companies developing new technologies to be able to meet the modern-day energy needs. Those that are successful are those that apply an integrative approach where there are a number of ways of generation.

What has been interesting as well is the great amounts of money private industry is investing in new technologies for generation design. Renewables are no longer a fringe activity. We know that. For us, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, as was quoted by somebody, our energy future is not a fate, but it is a choice. We have a choice here, and I am just wondering how our choice was made, whether or not it was totally an open-ended question where we brought together experts to look at what would be an integrative design, what would work for our current, our near future, and in the long-term, and solutions to our energy situation.

Then I cannot help but wonder what this would look like today if we had a legislative all-party standing committee looking at this issue, where there was an open, transparent, and public process, and where we had all parties represented who were looking at the question: What would we look like today? Would we be in a situation where we could all feel a degree of certainty that we came up with absolutely the best approach, the most technologically-innovative approach to addressing our own energy needs? Would we all be able to celebrate together? Would the people of Newfoundland and Labrador feel a confidence, an absolute confidence, in the solutions that were brought forth because of a consultative process, because of an open, a transparent and accountable process, and because we were using all the tools available to us in our democratic process? What would that look like today?

Here we are tonight, a few days from Christmas. We will be talking about this all through the night. People are tired. People are scrambling to try and make sure the answer we have come up with and the design that has been put before us is the one that is the most comprehensive and the one that is the most beneficial to the people of the Province.

We cannot say that with certainty on this side of the House. We would like to be able to, but we do not know that. We do not know what the initial question was and what the initial task was presented to Ed Martin and to Nalcor. Granted, we know they worked really hard, and granted we know there was some exploration of alternative issues. Were they just an add-on? Were they part of the initial question? Were they part of the initial mindset that we can look beyond our own borders at some of the most creative, innovative approaches to energy generation? We are not talking about fringe activities; we are talking about a new way of doing things.

Now we have a fifty-year commitment. What does that mean to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in terms of our future with a fifty-year commitment to this current technology? Again, our energy future is not fate, but it is a choice. We are making choices here. What we have to do is focus on the outcomes, not on the motives.

I cannot help but wonder if this government did not dismiss any opposing voices, any opposing opinions, or experts from beyond our own borders, what would we have come up with? Would we have come up with a modern, absolutely smart technology and an absolutely modern answer to our energy challenges? We have not looked.

This plan, which is not an Energy Plan but a plan to build the Muskrat Falls Project and its subsidiaries, is not a full Energy Plan for the Province. It is not a full Energy Plan for the future of our Province. It is disappointing and it is sad that we have come to this point, when we cannot all celebrate. If we had all come together with a solution that was truly the best solution for the Province, thinking that we were throwing aside old thinking and focusing really on outcomes, we together, all of us together in this House, could feel, yes, this has been the best solution for our future needs, for our power needs, and for our power generation needs for the future of our Province, one we could all have a certain sense of certainty with.

What is kind of interesting is some of the people, some of the experts, some of the organizations, and some of the companies who have been engaged to help guide the Province through this process have in fact branched out into other technologies, whether it is recommending wind or whether it is recommending natural gas-powered generation. They are going on looking at these new technologies. They are going on looking at integrative approaches for other jurisdictions outside of our own. Perhaps those are things to celebrate.

What has happened here? What doors and what windows have shut for us?

CHAIR (Cross): Order, please!

I remind the member that her time has expired.

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I was going to send a message to a few of my family to say I am going to get up and speak now, but I decided I would not do that because what they will end up doing is calling and saying you are looking tired, you are looking haggard, and all this kind of stuff. Mr. Chair, I came in here at 10:00 o'clock this morning – sorry at 8:00 o'clock this morning. Do you see? I am confused already. I came in here at 8:00 o'clock this morning and when I got in I said strange things must have happened during the night because I saw different members who would usually be speaking back and forth across the floor, I will put it that way, were sitting next to each other. I thought it must have had something to do with the Christmas spirit, that calm that comes over people as they get in the Christmas spirit and you get closer to Christmas day.

Mr. Chair, I think it has happened again. When it comes to the issues we are debating here this evening, people are finally arriving at a certain place where they realize this is the right thing to do for the people of the Province. Mr. Chair, I believe at this particular point I have the people on the other side. I am just trying to get the people on my own side here now.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. JACKMAN: The hour is growing long, Mr. Chair, and the wits are starting to get a little bit dim, if I can put it that way.

I have come to one realization. When you are entering into something of this nature, you have to take the chance; there is no doubt about it. I, as a member of government, as a parent and as a grandparent, as a resident of this Province, looking at the historical side of it, I have to accept that this is a deal that I think is extremely good for the people of the Province.

It is good for my children. It is good for my grandchildren. I think it will be seen as something that all the debate that went on, people will look back at and say: It is a good thing that the debate did happen, but it is equally as good that we arrived at a point where we have accomplished something that will prove well for generations to come and it is something of great significance for the people of the Province.

As in anything that you do, you do not know what the future will hold; but, I said it here this morning, and I will repeat it: A generating station that was setup in Petty Harbour some eighty or ninety years ago is still producing energy. So, we can only look at what the future will be and what this will provide.

I also said this morning, and I will repeat it again: The car of the year this year is an electrical car. So, we know what is going to happen in the future and that demand. We have to do our part, even though there is only 500,000 of us. As much as some people may doubt it, we have a thing before us called climate change. Anybody who thinks that climate change is not real, I truly do believe, is just burying their heads in the sand, if we put it that way.

If you look at any of the Discovery Channels and you look at the science magazines and the research – all we have to do is look at the polar ice caps and see what is happening, see how much they have receded over the course of time, and that the Northwest Passage will be opened up for shipping. That is not just happening, I suppose, as a natural evolution. We know that a lot of that is being created because of the climatic changes that are happening in the world. So, as a small Province, we can say and we should be able to say with pride that we will have 98 per cent green energy being produced in this Province. If the entire world could say that, Mr. Chair, then we could take a look at reversing some of the impact of climate change.

I am truly one who believes, as I have heard mentioned here, in conservation. That is a part of it. We have to do our part as individual households. We have to do our part as a people of the Province. We have to do our part as a part of Canada. We, in doing our part and developing this project, are contributing to the reduction of climate change.

The other day when we were in the lobby going through the sanctioning, I said that in my time in this House there are times when I have sat in here, we have gone through some of the legislation, and I have to say, mundane would be the way to put it. It is housekeeping things as we revise and adapt some of the legislation that is in place. I have been here when there are some historical events that I remember. I do remember the bringing back of the Atlantic Accord and what happened in here.

One of the things I have said on a couple of occasions that really sticks out for me was the day when the galleries were filled with people from Nunatsiavut, when they had themselves proclaimed self-government. There is a feeling that happens when those types of things take place in this House.

I know it has been a chore for us to sit here through this session and through some of the sessions that have taken a longer period of time, but when those types of events happen they are things that will stick with you. As a matter of fact, you take with you some little memento so you can pass onto your family members to say that you sat in the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador when this event took place.

I still have the thing at home. When Nunatsiavut Government was formed they had a brochure that they passed out. I took it around and had the members from Labrador sign it, the Premier, and the Minister of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs. I still have it at home, and it is probably the only one in the Province that is a bit unique that way because it is a special moment in this House.

When we were in the lobby the other day with the sanctioning of this project, that is another one of those moments, Mr. Chair, that will be in the history books, that my grandchildren will be learning about, and it is something that I will be able to say to them that I sat in the government at that particular time. It is something that we should all be proud of.

I am convinced that as much as some the folks across the way have criticized it and what this and want other things, that they too have their role to play in this process, but they too will be able to say we took part – and I know they want what is best. What it finally comes down to is, in the end, we are now ready to move with the next phase of this, and that is what these two bills are about. One is about the financing end of it, and the other is about procuring the land so that we can put in place the transmission – financing and the construction of this project. It is as simple as that.

I look forward, I know there is some work going on, but I can tell you one thing, Mr. Chair, Labrador is going to be an even busier place. The members who represent Labrador know it. Any of us as ministers or caucus members who go into Labrador, there is no trouble to see what is happening in that part of the Province.

We are proud to have that happening. We are proud that the people that are adjacent to these resources that are being developed are getting the jobs. We are proud, Mr. Chair, as a Province this project will go and it will enable future projects. We have heard the members talk about all of the mining activities that are going to be taking place within Labrador.

Being a part of that, Mr. Chair, is a proud moment for me, and I look forward to speaking one more time, Mr. Chair, before I leave tonight.

CHAIR: I remind the member, who is connecting the dots, his time has concluded.

MR. JACKMAN: I am going to be speaking at 11:50 p.m.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The Chair recognizes the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

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

Is it a privilege to stand up here again in this hon. House on whatever day of the week it is, or whatever date it is. I have no clue at this point, but that is beside the point, I guess you could say. We all know why we are here and that is to speak to this important legislation that government has proposed, Bill 60 and Bill 61.

I think what I am going to do is speak a bit about Bill 61 again. I will reference clause 1 again. Clause 1 will soon be the most referenced clause ever in the history of legislation. Government talks about the scrutiny that Muskrat Falls has had. I can tell you what: clause 1 has certainly had the scrutiny, I guarantee you that.

What I would say is that I was listening with great interest to the Minister of Education, as I usually do, because I find him to be – obviously, the member has been around some time now. He has had lots of opportunity to speak and I enjoy what he has to say. He mentioned about historic events. I guess being here a short period of time I have not had as many historic events. Your version of whether history is good or bad depends on which side of the House you sit on.

I would say I have been here for two historic events. One of them was back in June when we saw Bill 29 come through. That is a version of history. My interpretation of whether that was good or bad is probably different than the members across.

I guess some day down the road people will look back at this and say: whether you like the project or not they certainly had their say to it. That is what we are doing here as an Opposition. Again, government is having their say as well. I will give them credit. They are standing up and having their say, but my job as a member of the Opposition is to not only have my say but put my concerns on the record.

It is one thing to talk about the legislation, which we have done, but we are also going to be proposing amendments at some point that will discuss some changes that we think will be good changes to the legislation. We know the purpose of these two pieces of legislation is to enable the project. We think that with our interpretation and review of the legislation, we do have suggestions that can be positive to that legislation if and when it is passed, whether it is 2012 or 2013.

In my first session in the House, sometimes I was almost disappointed because I thought we suggested amendments to legislation and sometimes they were not heard, but this session really gave me hope because there were things we suggested that were listened to. I guess members of the different departments listened to it and amended certain pieces of legislation after taking in what we had to say. Do you know what? That is a sign.

One of them would be the Pharmacy Act, which we had a chance to discuss. Another one would be the Enduring Powers of Attorney Act, two specific pieces of legislation that government put out. We put our concerns forward and government said: Do you know what? There are valid points there. Let's make the legislation as good as it can be. In that case, hopefully the two pieces of legislation will be even stronger for it.

It is a good Minister of Health and a good Minister of Justice, I tell you, when they listen to the Opposition and listen to the changes that we put forward. They are not going to say no just for the sake of no. They are going to listen to what we have to say.

What I would do is come back to – I brought some concerns forward earlier today about NAFTA and the possibility of some issues with the OATT, the Open Access Transmission Tariff. To the credit of the Minister of Natural Resources, he took the time to stand up and answer my questions and put forward his perspective on it and his interpretation of it. I appreciate that. What I will do is I will respond to some of that and rebut his answer.

It was funny, because we talked about the capacity on the line. I will see if I can get the Minister of Natural Resources going here, I am going to get him revved up here now. I thought I had very good serious questions; he had very good serious answers.

One of the things he talked about were two issues, capacity on the line and the cost. What he is saying is he does not think there could be any issue when it comes to the first ten years or so. What I came back to is he said, I do not foresee or I do not – I might have the words wrong, but what he was getting at was: I do not expect any issues in the first ten years or so. Being a trial lawyer with some esteem – and I was a much more inexperienced trial lawyer, but part of me wanted to come back at him and say: but it could happen. That is what I want to say to the minister, is that it could happen.

Again, this comes down to risk versus reward. The fact is here, there is significant risk. What the minister is saying is that our review of it shows that we do not think the risk is there. We do not think that the risk cannot be managed. We think it is worth the risk here. What I would say is I hope at this point – given that we have reached sanction in this project, I would hope that interpretation is right. If it is not, we as taxpayers, and the people out there watching this and the people who we all represent, will pay the price for that. That is literally and figuratively, I guess you could say.

One of the things I brought forward was the fact that by establishing this monopoly there could be a situation where we could have an issue. If people are not allowed to wheel their power in through Newfoundland and Labrador, will we have an issue given that we are intending to wheel our power out of Newfoundland and Labrador into Nova Scotia, through the Maritimes and down into the New England States? What the minister said was: look, this is what we are arguing in Quebec. We are arguing with the Rιgie because they want access there.

The question then becomes: If we win there, could this be an issue that we face down the road? If we get access there, is somebody going to be able to come back to us and have access here and derail the plans that we have laid out? The plan being that we keep our revenue base steady, make sure nobody else can access other forms of energy, other costs, other prices, keep the revenue stream there to pay off the cost of this fifty-year commitment.

That is one of the concerns there. I guess what the minister is saying is: look, given our history in the courts in Quebec, we do not anticipate that we are going to be lucky or successful. If that is the case, then how should we be treated any differently? I would hope that we would be successful in Quebec, but if by doing so it sounds like – and maybe I am interpreting the minister wrong – we could have some trouble down the road if that is the case.

The minister mentioned that other provinces have exclusivity clauses as well, and that very well could be the case. I would be willing to acknowledge the minister is – given that he is the Minister of Natural Resources, he has probably looked at the other provinces' regimes much more closely than say I have.

What I do know and maybe the question could be answered. Do any of the other regimes or exclusivity provisions in other provinces have the same terms that we have here, where at the end of the day the Cabinet is going to set the price necessary to ensure that return on the revenue? Is that same situation elsewhere in those places that have monopolies or exclusivity clauses? Do they still have independent regulators that are unfettered in their ability to make sure that the rate we are paying is the lowest-cost possible to ensure a reliable service?

He mentioned Saskatchewan Power, and that is one I am familiar with. Having lived in Saskatchewan for a few years I paid my fair share of Saskatchewan Power bills. I have to be honest; I cannot remember what I paid there. I cannot remember if it was good or bad. At that point it was just a matter of making sure the bill was paid.

I could not anticipate that ten years down the road I would be here talking about power bills and comparing Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador. I thought that was interesting. So, we are not the only Province, according to the minister, exercising a monopoly. I have no doubt that that is indeed the case, but I am wondering if the same provisions that apply here apply there.

Now, Mr. Chair, I notice that my time is running out, but I have enjoyed this opportunity to stand up and speak to my concerns as it relates to Bill 61. I am hoping in the next opportunity I am going to get a chance to talk about an organization called the OECD, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. I have a fair amount of material there and some concerns that I will outline, and how they might relate to this Province, to this deal, and to our partners.

On that note, Mr. Chair, I appreciate the opportunity to stand and speak, and I will take my seat.

CHAIR: The Chair recognizes the Member for Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I am happy to get to stand again and speak to a point in Bill 61 that is a point of concern for me, and I do have a couple of questions for the minister, probably the Minister of Finance actually, with regard to what I want to speak to.

It has to do with section 6 and 7 in Bill 61. These sections deal with Crown agency status. It talks about the status of Nalcor, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, and also the status of the various subsidiary bodies that will be related to the Muskrat Falls Project.

MR. KENNEDY: Which section?

MS MICHAEL: Section 6 and section 7 of Bill 61.

In the briefing that we received from the Department of Finance and the Department of Natural Resources, they gave their explanation of the changes that are being made. As they explained to us, existing legislation defines Nalcor and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro as agents of the Crown. These were distinctions that I had not really thought about before, and that is the difference between being a Crown corporation and being an agent of the Crown.

A Crown corporation can exist without being an agent of the Crown. In other words, the Crown corporation is under the government and is regulated by the government; but if it does not act as an agent of the Crown, then any liabilities or any business that the corporation is involved in affects the corporation only and the assets of the Crown are not affected, if the Crown corporation is not acting as an agent. So, the changes that are in section 6 and 7 are changes which deal with changing the status of Nalcor and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

For example, in Nalcor's commercial arrangements with Emera, Nalcor will act in its own capacity as a Crown corporation and not as an agent of the Crown. In the business that will go on between Nalcor and Emera if there is any liability involved in that business, it will not affect the Crown, it will not affect the government, and it will not affect the assets of the government. It cuts off the link between the corporation and the Treasury of the government.

As well, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro will be acting in its own capacity, not a Crown agent, with respect to executing contracts required for the project. There are going to be contracts related to all aspects of the project: the Muskrat Falls Generating Station, the Labrador-Island Link, and the Labrador transmission line. All of these will have separate bodies, separate subsidiaries, and separate corporations, and they will all be involved in contracts. The agencies, the corporations themselves, which are Crown corporations, will be operating on their own, not as agents of the Crown. All of the borrowing that will go on will be borrowing also that will be completed through the subsidiaries, which are not Crown agents.

The explanation we were given is quite logical. Because they are not acting as agents of the Crown, if anything goes wrong or if there is any liability, then they as a corporation, with the assets they have, have to deal with it. The government and the Treasury of government will not be in any way affected. The assets of the Crown get protected.

I understand that. I understand why it is necessary that be put in place. Obviously, I did not know before this the difference between being an agent of the Crown and being a Crown corporation. As I said earlier, a Crown corporation can either be an agent of the Crown or not. In the legislation, it states there are times Nalcor will be acting, for example, as Nalcor without acting as an agent of the government and there are times when the government will recognize Nalcor acting as its agent.

That all makes sense to me; however, we asked in the technical briefing: What were the negative legal implications, if any, of this arrangement? I see the positive implications. We asked several times and did not really receive a firm answer from the people who were briefing us. They told us they have it under consideration with legal consultants, but there was nothing they actually to answer that question: What are the potential negative legal implications?

One of the things that struck me – and I brought it up to the people who briefed us from the two departments – was that there is a section in the loan guarantee, section 4.11, which I have actually asked questions about in the House, probably last week. Section 4.11 in the loan guarantee says, "There shall be no sale or change of control of any Borrower or subsidiaries, except as among the Parties, and no sale of any material Project assets. There shall be no sale or change of control of Nalcor."

We had a discussion and a Question Period around that, and I really did ask a lot of questions of the Premier around this section in the loan guarantee. Finally, the Premier did acknowledge that section 4.11 does mean what it says. In actual fact, one of the subsidiaries – so the corporation will be the corporation of Muskrat Falls Generating Station, or the subsidiary that would be the corporation for the Labrador-Island Link, or the subsidiary that would the corporation for the Labrador transmission line, the control over either one of those could change but only among the partners of the loan guarantee – which means the two governments, Nalcor and Emera, well since they already are subsidiaries of Nalcor if control changed or if a sale happened, it would either be by one of the two governments taking control or buying it, or Emera taking control or buying it.

The Premier pointed out that this would be very, very strange for it to happen, but we finally came to an agreement that, in actual fact, it could happen. What could happen, for example, is that Emera could end up owning Muskrat Falls, the generating station, or one of those two transmission lines. If something happened and it was decided that Nalcor decided it would be beneficial for that to happen, it can happen. This allows it to happen, and there is no doubt about that; however, it is important that there shall be no sale or change of control of Nalcor. So, it is only the subsidiaries that we are talking about.

When I look at this Crown agency status in the bill for the same bodies, for the same corporations, I look at this and I say, well, this becomes even easier if there were going to be a change of control or sale; because a change of control or sale, for example, of either one of them, if something went wrong and Nalcor decided it would be beneficial to get rid of them, and Emera was the body that took it over, it would make it easier having these Crown corporations not acting as agencies of the government. It would make it much easier for the sale, if a sale were to happen, or change of control.

I see two things that are implications for the Crown agency status and the definition of acting or not acting as an agent of the Crown. One is that it does make it cleaner when it comes to if one of them runs into financial difficulties. The other, as I see it, is also if a change of control or sale happened, then it would make that easier as well.

I really do see an opening for the possibility of privatization of the Muskrat Falls Project. It is there. Legally it is there. It is all there. I am not saying it is meant to be, but I am saying it is there.

I will ask the minister a question, if I may just ask the question, and then I am finished?

CHAIR: By leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS MICHAEL: If the Minister of Finance sees and if he understands any negative legal implications, could he tell us? I could not get an answer on that from the briefings we had.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The member's time has expired.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I appreciate the opportunity and I want to thank all members for their contribution to the debate over the last number of hours. As those who are tuning into the debate at home would know, through television, we have been debating Bill 61. We are still on clause 1, but we have had lots of good debate and dialogue that I think is going to inform some of the decisions and directions we are going to take over the near future, hopefully.

At this time, Mr. Chair, with leave of my two counterparts opposite, I would like to ask that we table the debate on Bill 61 for the time being in Committee. I would like to switch gears and ask that we rise for discussion, at the Committee level, of Bill 60.

I would ask leave first of all, Mr. Chair, if we could do that.

CHAIR: Does the House Leader have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to the parties opposite for their leave.

Bill 60 is entitled, An Act Respecting The Use And Expropriation Of Land For The Purpose Of The Muskrat Falls Project. As many people would recall, we have essentially had three bills put before the House that we have been debating, three bills focused primarily on the Muskrat Falls Project: Bill 53, which we have approved through third reading a couple of days ago; Bill 61, that I referenced a few minutes ago, which deals primarily, as most of us reference it, with the electrical power control; and Bill 60 today, the one we are doing now, Mr. Chair, is on the expropriation of land.

By way of explanation, before I conclude and allow others to contribute to the debate, the explanation on this particular bill essentially is that this bill will "provide the ability to create a statutory easement which could be granted, transferred, mortgaged, leased or otherwise dealt with as real property…". It also deals with the ability to expropriate property as required, Mr. Chair. As many would know, with the entire Muskrat Falls Project and the transmission line to be created –

CHAIR: Order, please!

(Inaudible).

MR. KING: I was introducing it, Mr. Chair, but I will take your direction on that.

A bill, "An Act Respecting The Use And Expropriation Of Land For The Purpose Of The Muskrat Falls Project". (Bill 60)

CHAIR: Okay, we will call clause 1.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. KING: Okay, thank you.

Do I need to repeat everything, Mr. Chair, or can I just continue where I was?

CHAIR: No, that is fine.

MR. KING: Thank you.

There was a little procedural wrangling there; thank you very much. Let me get my train of thought back now. It has been a long few days. We are back into Bill 60 on the expropriation of land. What I was actually doing when you picked up on the procedural piece was some introductory and explanatory notes for those who are tuned into the debate.

As I was saying when I paused there for a moment, the second point this bill would deal with is around the expropriation authority that will be required. As people would be aware, the entire Muskrat Falls Project will include the construction of a transmission line. There are going to be a number of requirements where the line is going to go through parcels of land and where there are going to have to be some changes made. This particular bill, without getting into any of the intricacies of it, is going to provide for some opportunity to do that.

Mr. Chair, I am going to conclude my remarks because I know there are a lot of members who would like to get on record and have a chance to have a few words about this bill, either to support what it does or to raise some concerns or perhaps some questions. As I said by way of conclusion, Mr. Chair, for those who are tuned into the debate at home, the intent here this evening is we are in Committee stage and we are at clause 1. This is where we get an opportunity to raise issues and concerns about the specifics of this particular bill and the processes. We will work through this clause by clause. At some point in time, when we get to the point of consensus at the Committee stage, we will have covered all the clauses in these two particular bills.

I thank you for the opportunity and I will take my seat.

CHAIR: I recognize the hon. the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill 60 in the Committee stage, Mr. Chair. This particular bill really has to do with the expropriation of lands for the purposes of the Muskrat Falls Project. This particular bill deals with all the land that will be impacted in any way. So, we are talking about all the land from Muskrat Falls, through Labrador, down to the Labrador Straits, right from the Northern Peninsula to Soldier's Pond, and also through the West Coast of Newfoundland.

Mr. Chair, as you know, the Muskrat Falls Project is broken down into four components. Two of those components are directly relative to the legislation we are discussing today. One is the generation project itself, which happens to be in Muskrat Falls, and all of the lands that are around and are contained within that area. The other piece is what they call the Labrador-Island Link, which is the transmission line that will run down through.

So, Mr. Chair, what we are, in essence, talking about here is that a lot of the land, especially in the area of transmission, is occupied by individuals either through Crown land lease or through private ownership. Mr. Chair, Nalcor, in order to construct the Labrador-Island Link, will require about 1,100 kilometres of easement on land that will have a corridor that is sixty metres wide.

In some cases, Mr. Chair, this land is Crown lands, unoccupied, with no title other than that by the Crown. In cases like that it will not be a problem. In other cases, there will be Crown lands where the title is held by someone else through a lease agreement, and there will be areas where there will be private lands. There are also, Mr. Chair, lands that will be owned by municipalities, where government will have to expropriate or negotiate the occupancy or ownership of those lands for the purposes of erecting their assets.

Now, Mr. Chair, this entire bill is needed as part of the sanctioning agreement that has been signed between Emera and Nalcor. Also, Mr. Chair, in that sanction agreement, as well as in the loan guarantee, it indicated that there had to be clear title and ownership to all of the assets. As we know from clause 1 of Bill 61, which we just spent the last couple of days debating, under the definition of Muskrat Falls Project it says what all those assets are.

According to the financial agreements that the government has in place, it also says that in the case of default all of those assets can be taken. They are part of any default the government might have in repaying the loans they have. Any financial backers can gain access to those assets. In order for them to take them as security, they need to ensure their ownership is held by Nalcor or its subsidiaries in the case of this project.

Government has no other choice but to either negotiate appropriate easements on that property or expropriate that property.

AN HON. MEMBER: Or buy it.

MS JONES: Or buy that property, and that is what this bill is all about. I will speak to the buying piece of the property, Mr. Chair, because I think that is important as well. Easements in this Province are not something we are not familiar with.

In fact, Mr. Chair, through municipalities in this Province, easements of land are occurring all the time. So is expropriation, but not to the same degree. For example, you could look at the City of St. John's and in the course of a year they might have about 1,200 different properties they will take easement on or negotiate easement on, and if not, expropriate for the purposes of the business the city is conducting.

I know of lots of cases in my district, Mr. Chair, not just in the case of utilities but in other cases where there have been easements of property that have been administered through the municipalities. Easements are not a new thing for us in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Chair, and neither is expropriation. We have seen lots of lands expropriated for the purposes of development. We have seen lands expropriated for other purposes. We have seen lands we did not want to expropriate that we ended up expropriating, in the case of the Abitibi mill in Grand Falls. Such is not the case here, Mr. Chair.

In a case where government negotiates an agreement to have clear title and ownership to property, or they expropriate that property, the bill also allows for compensation to the individual who now holds that title or ownership. Mr. Chair, we agree that is a necessary component. We somehow question – and my colleagues will get into that as they go through the bill – the way the compensation will apply because in lots of cases the compensation says it is based on what the market value is.

Well, we know in Newfoundland and Labrador people often have beautiful cottages that are built in the wilderness that have no services and they have very limited access, which brings down the depreciated value of the land but not necessarily depreciates the investment they have made into that infrastructure. Mr. Chair, we will be questioning the way the compensation program works, how it is going to be applied, and what some of the triggers around that will be.

Mr. Chair, we do not anticipate that the expropriation of lands for this project is going to be a huge issue, but we do not have all the numbers. I would like to get a breakdown of the numbers. From what I understand right now, on the Labrador-Island transmission piece we are probably going to look at fifty or sixty different easements or expropriations that might be necessary. I understand in the case of the Maritime Link, we could be looking at about 100 different cases of easement and expropriation.

I do not have any numbers for Labrador, Mr. Chair, so I do not know what those numbers are, but I would hope that when the minister stands he can give me a breakdown –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR (Littlejohn): Order, please!

MS JONES: - of what is being looked at in terms of easements or expropriations in different areas of the Province under the different sections of the project.

We know there are five homeowners in the Sunnyside area that could be affected by this, in where they have their houses now, their permanent residences, which may have to be expropriated. We understand those individuals have already been informed and there is an ongoing negotiation for compensation around those particular properties.

We also know, Mr. Chair, this bill will have some impact upon municipalities. Our concern with that is that these municipalities are consulted, they are in agreement, and wherever possible they are compensated as well. We just want to assure that the impact upon any municipality is going to be minimized as a result of this project.

The other piece is with regard to Aboriginal claims because the bill itself, Bill 60, says that there has to be consultation with Aboriginal groups with regard to the expropriation of properties. This is one of the pieces, Mr. Chair, that on principle I am still feeling my way through simply because I know NunatuKavut does not have an accepted land claim.

I really do believe they will be impacted by the expropriation of properties and that they should be consulted, Mr. Chair, with regard to that. I will wait to hear what government has to say about that piece of it. I do not think it is a very respectful thing to do nor is it the right thing to do, to expropriate any of those lands that have legitimate claims laid to them by Aboriginal groups without consulting with them.

Mr. Chair, there are a number of pieces in this bill that we see as being a necessary concern. We will approach that and deal with it as we go through the bill, and get into it in more detail. At a glance, when I am looking at this bill – you have to realize, this is not an amendment that is being brought forward here. This is a completely new statute of the House of Assembly that is here for debate. Mr. Chair, this bill itself is twenty-nine pages long. It has tentacles that reach into fifteen other statutes of the House of Assembly. So it is fairly comprehensive.

Mr. Chair, when you make comparisons between this act, the Muskrat Falls Project Land Use and Expropriation Act, the first thing I can tell you is that it is much more modernized than the other expropriation acts we have currently in place in the Province. I think it is agreed to by most members, Mr. Chair, that the current legislation we have is not sufficient under our laws to allow for the appropriate expropriation or compensation for people who are impacted.

Most of the legislation that is already in place around expropriation of lands was designed to deal with more local land issues, but they were not really designed to deal with projects that were of this scale and magnitude. One of the things I can see in the legislation right now is it seems that it provides a stronger legislation but also legislation that reflects the modern times, the current situation, and is also more reflective of what appropriate compensations might be to people in the Province.

Mr. Chair, it deals with, as I said, the easements. It deals with Crown lands and non-Crown lands. It also deals with municipal issues and it deals with compensation. There are a number of components to the bill. Just to summarize, before I sit down, Mr. Chair, what we are actually looking at is the expropriation of lands to build a 1,100-kilometre transmission line for Muskrat Falls that will extend from Labrador to the Avalon Peninsula, to the West Coast of Newfoundland. That 1,100 kilometres will have a corridor that is sixty metres wide, and it will impact upon homeowners in this Province.

Also, in summary, we just say that it is a necessary piece of legislation in order for the government or Nalcor's subsidiaries to maintain clear title to the property where the assets of Muskrat Falls will be constructed. That is necessary in order for them to go to the bond markets and the financial agencies to raise the necessary capital for the project. As we know, because we are here debating this tonight and we will probably be here getting into Christmas Eve, Nalcor must be going to the financial agencies on Boxing Day, Mr. Chair, to try to secure the financial agreement. So there is tremendous pressure right now –

AN HON. MEMBER: Boxing Day sale.

MS JONES: Yes, the Boxing Day sale on Muskrat Falls. That is the only thing we can imagine, Mr. Chair, because they are pushing this legislation through and they have to get it passed before Christmas Day, regardless, if we are here day and night until Christmas Day. We realize that Bill 60 is imperative to Nalcor going to make their arrangements for financial backing of this project on Boxing Day.

Mr. Chair, on those comments, I will take my seat. My colleague, the Member for Burgeo – La Poile will certainly be leading the debate on this bill this evening, and I am sure he will have lots of questions as we go through.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The Minister of Natural Resources is not here tonight, so I will say a few words on his behalf and he will have an opportunity when he returns to be able to address this legislation in more detail.

As we said earlier during debate on Bill 61, sanction of the Muskrat Falls Project took place on Monday past. Now that the project has been sanctioned, it has been given approval of the government, and it has been given the approval in the Legislature, we now have to take the next step. The next steps are to begin to acquire the land that is needed upon which these projects will be built, and also to put the necessary legislation in effect to ensure that the proponents can now proceed to start the fundraising process.

That is a process that will probably accumulate in September or October of next year when we have something that is referred to in the Loan and Guarantee Act as financial close, when the Province's equity will put into the project and the proponents will draw down what we think of as the mortgage funds or the loan funds, the debt part of the debt-equity formula. Then the project has to be mortgaged to our lenders as security for the obligations.

What this bill is talking about is the land aspect. We are going to have a large hydro generation facility built near Muskrat Falls. As the Government House Leader indicated, we are going to have two very long transmission lines. One of which will extend from Churchill Falls to Muskrat Falls, that is known as the LTA or the Labrador Transmission Assets. The second part of the transmission line would be what is known as the LIL, the Labrador-Island Link, which will run from Muskrat Falls across the Strait of Belle Isle down the Great Northern Peninsula, across the Island over to Soldiers Pond.

We needed a process that would expedite the acquisition of the necessary lands. Obviously, much of the land – as a matter of fact 99 per cent of the land required for the Labrador Transmission Assets and the LIL is on Crown land. It is owned by the Crown already, so that should not be very difficult.

With respect to the Maritime Link, which the Emera corporation or Emera Newfoundland limited is going to construct which is another link from Granite Canal on the South Coast of the Province, down Cape Ray across the Gulf, and connecting to the mainland at Lingan in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, which of course will provide us with a connection for the first time. We will stop being an isolated project. We will connect to the national grid in two places; one in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and the other one of course at Churchill Falls.

Ninety per cent of the land for the Maritime Link is on Crown land. Where the transmission corridor runs over Crown land, Nalcor and Emera will be provided the land interest they require for these transmission corridors. If the land is not Crown land – that means it would be land owned by people other than the Crown – interest in non-Crown Land including privately owned land and municipally owned lands, will also be required for the project.

Of course what will happen is that Nalcor – and it will be Nalcor because Emera will not have the right to expropriate – will negotiate with any private owners, with municipalities, and attempt to negotiate a fair purchase price and purchase the property, or purchase the interest in the property that Nalcor will need. In some cases, it will not be complete ownership. It may be just an easement interest is required or a permit to occupy is required, something less than full ownership.

The proponents will initially negotiate with the landowners to purchase a land interest for a price that presumably can be agreed upon. If there is a failure to agree – and in many cases there is a failure to agree – Nalcor will have the right under this legislation, similar to rights under the expropriation legislation, to expropriate the land. That essentially means serving a notice on the property owner that they require the land. Under the legislation, ten days thereafter, the title will transfer from the owner to Nalcor and the parties will have to then settle on the agreed price.

Because there has been a failure of an agreement what will happen is that if the parties are unable to agree on compensation, then the matter will be referred to an independent panel whose job will be to arbitrate the difference and to establish a fair market value.

Of course, when you talk about buying something for fair market value, there is, in many cases, a difference of opinion. The compensation that the independent panel will have to come up with is fair market value in accordance with the highest and best use of the land at the time of the beginning of the expropriation.

Mr. Chair, I think people in this Province are familiar with expropriations. We have them under municipal legislation. We have them under the Expropriation Act. The procedure is if they cannot agree, there is an independent panel set up. The parties can go to that panel. When they make their representations to the panel, they can be accompanied by their lawyer, if they wish to have one. They can be accompanied by an appraiser, if they wish to have one. Arguments will be made and then the panel will make its decision on price.

Of course, we have that for a very valid reason. There can be times when the government is trying to put together an assembly of land for a project that is particularly important to the people of the Province, a project obviously such as this facility, a project like a hospital. You can have a situation where, in attempting to put land together for a hospital, if there are twenty-five owners you can reach an agreement maybe with twenty-three or twenty-four of them, but one person recognizes he or she is holding that one missing link, and even though the property may be worth a certain value, will say: Okay, I want fifty times the value. This gives the government, because of the overall public interest, the interest to put that assembly together to have that hospital or to have a project like a hydroelectric project or corridor and to be able to expropriate the land so the public interest can be met. At the same time, we have to put in protection for that landowner to ensure the landowner will receive a fair market value.

It is recognized that if a house has to be acquired, we have a very progressive piece of legislation in this Province called the Family Homes Expropriation Act, which will provide to the owner not just fair market value but in fact the replacement cost. You could have somebody living in an area, they have a very nice home, and to rebuild that home somewhere else will cost even more. The idea there is the person can be put in the same conditions as they were before and build a new home in the new area, but that may mean a payment to the person of more than fair market value. That way the person would get the full replacement cost.

With respect to non-Crown land, the government can expropriate on behalf of the proponents, the proponents being the subsidiaries who are going to build, manage, and finance the project. There is a protocol dealing with the expropriation procedures. It is going to be established through regulations under the act and must be adhered to by the proponents. As I said, there will be an independent panel of arbitrators who will determine the compensation where the parties cannot agree on the price. The act does not apply to family homes, which will continue to be dealt with, as I said, with the Family Homes Expropriation Act.

Mr. Chair, there are going to be many benefits to this particular project. This particular legislation will enable the land part to be dealt with expeditiously and in a manner that is fair to all concerned. This project will diversify our economy. There are $2.4 billion in rate savings to homes, businesses, and the people of the Province. There is $1.9 billion in labour to business. There is $290 million going to the government in tax revenue.

There are going to be 1,500 jobs each year during construction and, at peak, there are going to be 3,100 jobs over seventy different trades and occupations. There are 9,100 person years of direct provincial employment, of which 5,800 person years will be in Labrador. There is $134 million that will go to Innu businesses for Muskrat Falls' construction. We will have a project that is 98 per cent clean renewable energy. This project will have stability of title, certainty of title, in order that the project can be built and can be offered to the lenders as security for the funding and the financing that they are going to provide.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

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

It is a pleasure to stand here in my first opportunity to speak to Bill 60, now in the Committee stage. I have a fair amount of material and questions on this piece of legislation.

What I would say just starting off here is this is the second part of the enabling legislation in order to make this project work. The first one is that we need to make sure the money is there, and the second part is we need to make sure the land is there in order to have this transmission line. We have the Labrador-Island Link and then we also have the Maritime Link. We know that, in terms of the amount of land we are dealing with, we are looking at 1,100 kilometres, I believe. That is by sixty metres wide, this transmission corridor.

There are a number of different angles I could go at on this. In terms of the legislation itself, this bill is actually not as contentious really in my mind as, say, Bill 61 which I have some very strong feelings about. I do not agree with a lot of it. In terms of Bill 60, even if you do not agree with the project as I have said, the legislation that has been set out makes sense for the goal they are trying to accomplish.

The problem I do have, I guess you could say, is twofold. The first part is that this is one of those pieces of legislation we had twenty-four hours to review before we walked into this House to debate it. Now, I was not here back I think it was in 2009 when the last significant expropriation in this Province was done. I was not here. We have all heard about it, especially in this last session since the Supreme Court of Canada case came down.

What I would say is that happened for a simple reason. It happened because the Province was forced to act in haste. The Province was forced to move quickly because of the situation that was facing them at that time. With the facts and knowledge they had, they felt they had to make a move. The staff comes together and puts together that piece of legislation. What happened was what was thought was going to happen did not happen exactly as they had all laid it out.

What I would say is when you are dealing with this legislation you have to be cognizant of the fact that, again, this is similar to that in that it is new legislation. It is not even like Bill 61, which is an amendment to previously existing pieces. This is brand new. The reason it is there is because the pre-existing legislation that could be used to accomplish the goals set out by Nalcor is not adequate and is not good enough to get done what needs to be done in terms of getting it done fast enough and getting it done with enough certainty.

This is all based on a timeline here. Really, that is why we are here. It is the week before Christmas. The reason things have been rushed is because the Province needs to go to the bank. They need to have this – I guess you cannot call it an asset. You could call it an asset, but you need to have the security of the land.

AN HON. MEMBER: Nalcor.

MR. A. PARSONS: Nalcor. Sorry if I get confused, because the Province and Nalcor to me seem to be interchangeable sometimes. I get confused. Maybe it is Nalcor going to the bank or maybe it is the Province. Sometimes I get confused about who is up on the podium. That aside, the Province needs the security, or Nalcor needs that security, knowing that the land can be expropriated to lay out the transmission line that is going to carry this Muskrat Falls power all the way from Labrador.

That being said, knowing what the legislation is about, knowing our past history with expropriation, and knowing this was rushed in, what we have done through this filibuster is buy ourselves some time. That time has allowed us to have a briefing and we have had a chance to ask questions. We have had a chance to review and we have gone through second reading. We have had time to look into this legislation.

Looking at the bill, this is a fairly large bill. It is not a bad size compared to the two other - what we will call - Muskrat pieces of legislation. There are the three; I guess it is the Holy Trinity of Muskrat Falls legislation being passed here in the House. This is the thickest in terms of actual girth of paper.

The explanatory notes lay it out pretty well. "The Bill would provide the ability to create a statutory easement which could be granted, transferred, mortgaged, leased or otherwise dealt with as real property; establish a process by which an expropriating authority may, where land is required for the Muskrat Falls Project, expropriate that land on behalf of a proponent in accordance with this Act and an expropriation protocol established in the regulations; confirm that a holder is liable for taxation in respect of the Muskrat Falls Project, expect in prescribed circumstances; and" – that is something that I will get into after, is the taxation aspect here because there are certain things that need to be brought up there – "approve the use of land by a proponent in the transmission corridor and with respect to the transmission lines for the Muskrat Falls Project, and require that existing and future land use plans and development of regulations conform with the approved land use."

So, it lays it out pretty good what is being done here; but, as I said earlier, we are not just dealing with this one new piece here, An Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project. We are dealing with all the other pieces of legislation that are referred to within this piece.

So, you read this, but this one says, in a numbers of cases, it is abiding by other pieces of legislation. Just to give you the terminology: certain pieces of legislation shall not apply; this may apply notwithstanding such-and-such a piece of legislation. They are laid out there.

What I have done is I listed them all down after I went through the act the first time. What I did was I wrote them all down. Then I went on the government Web site. You go to the House of Assembly section, then you go to the Legislation, you go to the Consolidation of Legislation and you can go on and it is laid out alphabetically, and you click on each one. It is a tool I used many times prior to coming to this House.

We have the Executive Council Act; Registration of Deeds Act; Energy Corporation Act; Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act; Public Utilities Act; Provincial Parks Act; Lands Act; Public Utilities Acquisition of Lands Act; Expropriation Act; Family Homes Expropriation Act; Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act; Judicature Act; Rules of the Supreme Court, 1986; Urban and Rural Planning Act, 2000; and then there is the three city pieces of legislation, the City of St. John's, the City of Mount Pearl, and the City of Corner Brook.

What I did was I then had to go to each of these pieces of legislation and look at the sections that were referred to because, as it has been said on many occasions, the devil is in the details. It is one thing to get the briefing to explain what it is we are trying to do, but it is another thing to know what the legislation says and what actually could happen. There are a lot of different pieces of legislation referred to here. Some of them do not have a substantive effect. Some of them are referred to in the normal course of business. Some do have a substantial effect, and I will get into them over the next number of hours or days or whatever.

You can talk about expropriation as a whole. Expropriation is not a new concept. Expropriation has been around for a number of years now. We have always had to have the ability to expropriate land for certain purposes. Cities, towns, and communities have had the ability, through legislation, to acquire land but according to legislation, so it lays out a number of conditions. We cannot allow a body the unfettered ability to take land that they want from somebody just because it suits their purposes. You have to lay out that fair process, that due process so that if they are going to take it, it has to be for a good reason and it has to be with fair value in mind for the people who originally owned the land.

We have talked about expropriation and what it is all meant for here. It is a fifty-five section piece of legislation here, so I am going to probably start around the top and work my way down to the bottom. Hopefully by the time I am done we will be into Friday or Saturday sometime.

The first section we will get into is the definition section. It lays out the expropriation protocol. That is an important part because there has to be a protocol or process that needs to be followed here. We cannot just do it willy-nilly: Oh, we need that land; come and grab it. There has to be protocol there.

The minister referred to that; it is going to be done fair. Again, it is going to be done quickly, but it is going to be done fair. My main goal is that it is not a huge amount but aside from the Crown land, there are a number of people who are going to have private land seized and family homes. We need to make sure that those people are treated as fairly as possible and make sure that they are compensated as they should be.

Mr. Chair, I see that the clock is running down on me now. What I will do is I will hold off to the next time and then I will work my way through this on my next opportunity.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. MCGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It gives me pleasure to stand again to speak to Bill 60 here in the Committee of the Whole. The Bill 60 is An Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project.

I just heard three different speakers there. I think everybody agrees that the expropriation of land is not something that is new. It is something that has been around for a long, long time. After reading this bill and reading through the guidelines and everything, I think one of the things that government is doing here is changing the format of expropriating. We have tightened it up and cleaned it up from what it was years ago.

I just want to run down through some of the general messages, what we are trying to do with this bill – Bill 60. In the explanatory note there were four bullets, and they are fairly basic. The Bill 60 would provide the ability to create a statutory easement which could be granted, transferred, mortgaged, leased, or otherwise dealt with as real property. Secondly, it would establish a process by which an expropriating authority may, where land is required for the Muskrat Falls Project, expropriate that land on behalf of a proponent in accordance with this act and expropriation protocol established in these regulations.

The third one is: confirm that a holder is liable for taxation in respect of the Muskrat Falls Project, except in prescribed circumstances; and the last bullet is: approve the use of land by a proponent in the transmission corridor and with respect to the transmission lines for the Muskrat Falls Project, and require that existing and future land use plans and development regulations conform with the approved land use.

So, it is not a complicated piece of legislation, as you heard some other speakers say. It is a lengthy piece of legislation, and it does deal with quite a few other statutes – fifteen in total, I think.

I think one of the important things with this bill is that when it comes to the expropriation of the land, the government will have an expropriation team put in place, and they will go in and actually negotiate with anyone who will be affected through expropriation of their property.

I guess I would like to say there are two types of property that will be affected here. There is public property or Crown land and then there is privately owned land. With the property that will be expropriated for this transmission line, 99 per cent of the land is Crown land that will be taken up by the link that will go from Muskrat Falls across Labrador, down the Northern Peninsula, then across the Island portion of the Province into Soldiers Pond – and 99 per cent of that property is Crown land already.

Then, for the property that will take the Maritime Link, 90 per cent of that land is already Crown land. So that sort of makes it a little bit more palatable, I guess, when it comes to going through the expropriation process, to have to deal with less people.

What is the purpose? Why are we expropriating the land? Because there is going to be 1,100 kilometres of land expropriated, and we will be cutting a line through at sixty metres wide. It is an extensive piece of property but it is something that we have to do. It is necessary in order to build the infrastructure to transmit the energy from Muskrat Falls to the Island portion of the Province and a connection to the Maritime Link.

This is not something that we just said, let's get this done. There has been a full environmental and economical, sustainable study done on this. Government wants to make sure they do it in the most responsible, environmentally friendly way possible. The manner they are taking with this is there has been quite an extensive study done. I guess in saying that, when it comes to the expropriation and the environment we want to leave as – although you are going to leave a footprint on 1,100 kilometres, you want to leave a footprint that is as less invasive as possible.

The acquisition of Crown and private land will not start until the transmission link, the Maritime Link and the Labrador transmission assets are released from the environmental assessment process. Until that environmental assessment process is completely finished, there will be no expropriation done until then.

Now, in saying that, the expropriation – you heard some other speakers already. People who will be affected by the expropriation of land have already been consulted with, and I think that is due diligence, that through the study we know which way the line is going to go. We want to make sure, in consulting with those who will be affected, that we have given them ample time.

As the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair mentioned when she spoke, there are five homes in Sunnyside that will actually be affected. You do not want to go to them and say in thirty days we are going to expropriate your property. We want to give them enough time, ample time to enter into negotiations with the expropriation team and make it as seamless as possible for them.

The creation of a standalone lands related piece of legislation, what this will do is ensure that Nalcor has the ability to acquire the land interests to advance work on the Muskrat Falls Project. By having that standalone lands related piece of legislation, what we are doing here is giving Nalcor the right to move forward with the project. If we do not have the land, basically what we are saying there, if we do not expropriate this 1,100 kilometres and we do not have access to that 1,100 kilometres, then the transmission line cannot be built and therefore the Muskrat Falls Project would be a mute subject.

The Province, Nalcor, and Emera, who are our partners in Nova Scotia, of course, will all work together to achieve fair compensation packages for Crown and private landowners. I mentioned earlier the Crown lands are not as difficult to deal with, but when it comes to private landowners there will be a negotiation team in place. You want to make it as fair and compensational as possible.

In my thoughts, it is not the homeowners that I am more concerned with. In doing some research and checking, I could not find any cases where in the last decade when expropriation had happened that the homeowners were not pleased. Last week when we were talking about this bill someone made a comment that there are homeowners who would hope they would be expropriated when it comes to it.

What it will affect, and I did hear many members voice the same concern, is that in the whole line of the transmission link you are going to go through some cottage country or you are going to come very close to cottage country. A lot of people, their cottages and their cabins are their home away from home. They put a lot of personal time and effort into those properties. If they have to expropriated, they want to make sure there is going to be a fair deal there.

In a lot of cases, and I know in my district when you get into Labrador West, almost every resident has a cottage or two somewhere. For example, when Bloom Lake just put the rail line in, there was some expropriation but there were also negotiations with the cottage owners who did not want to move. They actually had an electrical hookup paid by the mine to their cottages for the inconvenience of having a rail line run through their backyard.

It is not just a financial negotiation. There are other ways that may be possible. I would think in this particular case, dealing with government and Crown lands and privately-owned lands for expropriation purposes, that it would be financial but there are other ways quite often.

When I say that, one of the things we talk about – I am going to run out of time, but hopefully I will get an opportunity to speak on this again. Quite often – and we talked about the transmission link – if their cottages are near the transmission line, what will happen is they will guarantee access to their cottages over the Crown land that the transmission link is built on. The whole purpose of this is to make it as seamless and as convenient for those who will be affected as possible.

I am out of time here now but I will get up and speak again. I am looking forward to getting more comments on this.

Thank you very much.

CHAIR (Cross): The hon. the Member for St. John's Centre.

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

I am very happy to stand and speak to Bill 60, the Muskrat Falls Project Land Use and Expropriation Act. Of course, we know how important land is to homeowners, how important land is to communities, how important land is to regions. How important land is for economic development, for exploration, for mining resources, and how important land is for how we live our lives.

I am very interested in talking specifically – I know the expropriation looks at this point of perhaps only five residences for five families or homeowners, and then possibly again what it might look like. It is unclear how many cottages might be affected.

I think this then would just lead me a little bit into the whole issue of housing, housing in Labrador, and some of the housing challenges. As a matter of fact, I think today in Question Period I used the term housing crisis. I know that sometimes there is some resistance to that word. However, I had the pleasure not so long ago of having a meeting with the Combined Councils of Labrador. One of the issues they talked about and that was of great concern to them is the housing crisis in most parts of Labrador.

One of the areas we think we know will be really affected by the Muskrat Falls Project and its subsidiaries, particularly in the construction phase, is the issue of housing. How do we house everybody who will be involved with the project?

We know resource developments are attracting people to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and that is a good thing. We know that large-scale development brings with it some very positive economic benefits to the community, to the people who are directly involved in that resource development, but also it brings with it some real challenges.

Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges is the fact of the housing crisis that is experienced particularly in LabWest and in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. What is happening is that rents are being driven up, and we all know that. We have all heard that. We have all heard me speak about that in the House.

I have asked the question a number of times in Question Period: What exactly is the plan? What is this government's plan to address the housing crisis in these areas? What is this government going to do to mitigate the negative effects and the impact of large-scale development on the issue of housing in Labrador?

We see that rents are being driven up, and we are all hearing stories of – it has been in the news, both in Labrador West and in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Because we have no rent control or no rent stabilization in the Province, landlords are able to give people maybe their three-month notice and double their rent, or even triple their rent. There is nothing to stop that from happening. As a matter of fact, Mr. Chair, we see that, we have seen that happen.

What we have is a number of people in Labrador who are precariously housed, meaning they may have housing right now but there is a danger that they will lose their housing. Already, a high number of people in the Province are spending more than 35 per cent of their income on rent. They are precariously housed because they have no control over what will happen to their rent.

We can look at the situation of the housing rental situation, but also when we look at the issue of trying to buy housing, those who are trying to get into the housing market. So –

CHAIR: Order, please!

I would like to encourage the member to speak to the topic more, because it is not about rent and housing, it is more about expropriation of land.

MS ROGERS: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chair.

I am very happy to speak a little bit more about the issue of land.

When we are talking about, as the minister –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS ROGERS: Yes. As the minister was talking about the expropriation of Crown land, it brings me to the issue of Crown land and the whole issue of what this government is doing in looking at the issue of land to address the housing crisis that we see, because land is a key to the housing crisis. We know that, for instance, in Lab West they have been trying to work – the community, in conjunction with a number of community groups, and even with the mining companies, have established a committee to look at the issue of the housing crisis in Labrador West.

What they have done is they have been asking for Crown land. They have been asking for Crown land or serviced land so they can in fact embark on projects that provide affordable housing, or even lower-cost housing in terms of building the housing. Land and servicing the land is one of the detriments to being able to provide affordable housing. They are having a bit of a hard time. One of the issues I am kind of interested in, is: Exactly what is the government going to do about an actual land use plan to address the issue of the housing crisis in Labrador?

In Question Period today I did ask the Minister of Labrador Affairs: Exactly what is being done to address the issue of the housing crisis in Labrador? These were his words, "This government is very much aware of the housing crisis, not just in Labrador, Central Labrador, Western Labrador but the whole Province of Newfoundland and Labrador."

He said himself that he was very, very aware of the housing crisis. He said, "I will stick to the Labrador issues to answer the question from the member opposite. We just announced a few months ago a $1.3 million project happening in Western Labrador for low-income housing: twelve units."

I suspect that perhaps there is some Crown land involved in that housing project. That is a good thing, because we would like to see the use of the people's land in trying to address and helping to address the crisis that is being faced in the area of housing.

He said that is twelve units, but that seems like a bit of a drop in the bucket when we look at the huge problem. Again, the minister used the word himself: the housing crisis that we see in Labrador. He says there is going to be "…a new subdivision opening in Labrador West. Part of the subdivision, part of the permit agreement" – they are getting permits because they are using land – "was that there would be affordable housing within that subdivision: thirty-six units."

Thirty-six units, that is a bit better than twelve units and it is affordable housing. However, Mr. Chair, we do not quite know what that means. The last time Newfoundland and Labrador Housing talked about the fact there is going to be a number of units set aside that will be affordable housing in a housing development here in St. John's, I asked the executive director or the chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing commission, what does that mean? What does that mean these affordable housing units?

CMHC has a definition of what affordable housing is and it is based on a number of factors. It establishes the cost of housing as affordable housing for new units. However, he said they cannot enforce that on private development of housing divisions. He would hope that what it meant was they were going to build smaller units; therefore they will be cheaper and therefore they will be affordable.

We do not know what the affordable housing units might be in this subdivision, these thirty-six units the Minister of Labrador Affairs has been saying. He said that is also happening in Central Labrador. It is a little bit vague because we do not know what affordable housing might mean in terms of how much that is going to cost or whether it is going to be just smaller housing. Therefore, one would hope they would be more affordable. Maybe he can speak to that.

He said, "We have an announcement coming up, and I do not want to spill the beans for an announcement in Central Labrador." Mr. Chair, I understand him not wanting to spill the beans, but I am hoping in fact that it is not full of beans, that there is an announcement coming that really will –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS ROGERS: Well, I would not think the minister is saying that he would change his decision because of what I might say. I would hope what he is going to do is come up with an announcement that is really going to help mitigate the problem of the housing crisis in Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly in Labrador.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: I remind the member her time has expired.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I appreciate the opportunity. Thank you for recognizing me and giving me an opportunity to get up for a few minutes tonight to discuss this bill. I would like to take some time tonight just to respond to some of the comments the member opposite has raised, because they are very important issues for the Member for St. John's Centre to bring up. She quite often brings those matters up here in the House of Assembly and talks about housing issues and housing matters in the Province.

Tonight she is talking about the housing matters specifically in Labrador. I am glad she did because it gives me a chance to get up to talk about some of those matters and some of the things we have done as a government to mitigate the housing challenges in Labrador. I have heard her a number of times, Mr. Chair, as I said, bring these matters up. I cannot stress enough that they are important to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and to certain areas.

In Labrador there was a very, if I can use the word, isolated but unique circumstance that existed in Labrador West, if I could talk about Labrador West first. There was a circumstance that occurred in recent years where there was a significant spike in housing costs for the people of Labrador West based on the growth in the mining industry. When the mining industry took off, there was a significant increase in the demand for housing.

Mr. Chair, I can remember a time back years ago when there was nobody living in the houses in Labrador West, when houses were boarded up and they could not sell them. The Minister of Labrador Affairs tells me that was back in the 1990s.

MR. MCGRATH: The late 1990s.

MR. DAVIS: The late 1990s, when there was a time when people did not know what they were going to do with their homes in Labrador West.

Now that there is a growth, there is a development, and there is a boom in Labrador West – and that is not unusual in places anywhere throughout the country, throughout the Province or North America that experience an economic boom. Because the boom comes, then there is a demand for more workers and more employees. There are more employment opportunities, and then comes the demand to build new houses and build homes.

Quite often in those types of experiences you will see young families develop. Then comes the challenge for communities to build recreation facilities, to build schools, to build hospitals, for government to build hospitals and keep up with those demands, and a demand comes for roads.

That is what happens when you get these economic booms, and housing is part of that. We recognize that in Labrador West. There are a number of things that government has done in Labrador West, and one of the significant things is dealing with the income limit. Throughout the Province there is an income limit of $32,500 for a person who is eligible for housing assistance, housing support. In Labrador West, that was increased to $65,000. Everywhere in the Province, except for Labrador West, it is set at $32,500.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DAVIS: The member said she knows about this. She brought it up and that is why I am trying to respond to it, Mr. Chair.

It was raised to $65,000. I know for a fact there are families in Labrador, Labrador West, who are benefiting from the fact that the threshold was increased from $32,500 to $65,000. There are a number of families who are benefiting from the opportunity to avail of services because that threshold has been increased. That means the threshold increase is providing services for those people who previously would not have gotten it. That is taking steps to have a positive effect on exactly what she is talking about. Some of those are seniors, a lot of those are seniors.

I heard the member in the last day or two – I have to apologize, Mr. Chair, because the days and the nights are all the same when we are here. One day becomes the next, and one rolls into another. I heard her make a comment about the wait-list for rent supplements. I want to let her know there is no wait-list for rent supplements.

Just to be clear, and maybe I did not hear her properly, but just to clear it up in case this is what she was thinking. There is no wait-list for rent supplements. The wait-list is for people who apply. They go to Newfoundland and Labrador Housing and they file an application. They become eligible, and when they become eligible they go on the list of eligibility. Then there are two dozen criteria which helps decide when people come off the list and how they are prioritized.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. DAVIS: Now, I know the member opposite is having a lot of fun –

CHAIR: Order, please!

About halfway through the last address I asked the member opposite to come back into the topic. So now we are halfway through, I am wondering if the minister could oblige.

MR. DAVIS: Mr. Chair, I am only addressing matters that she spoke to. I will keep to the topic, but I will only address matters that she spoke to.

She talked about housing issues, and housing issues quite often are equated to wait-lists. If people are on a wait-list because they are waiting for housing assistance and housing support, then that addresses the topic that she talked about, Mr. Chair, I would suggest to the member opposite.

Now I know she finds this matter a very serious one, even though she finds it a very funny one over there tonight. She seems to be having a lot of fun with this very important topic, and that is fine. We have been here a long time, and I appreciate that. We have been here a long time and sometimes normal things that you would not find funny, sometimes you will find funny at this time of the night after the long time that we have been in here.

I wanted to point out, on the wait-list for Labrador West, as of yesterday I can tell you it was twenty-eight people. That was the wait-list in Labrador West as of yesterday. For the rest of Labrador, which is operated or centred, headquartered out of the office in Goose Bay, the entire wait-list for the rest of Labrador is twenty-six. Labrador West is twenty-eight; the rest of the entire Labrador is twenty-six.

Mr. Chair, that is because of two things, a number of things that we are doing to mitigate the housing issues in Labrador. We make investments with partnership, too, I say to the House of Assembly, in partnership with the Coalition of Housing and Homelessness. When we made the increase from $32,500 to $65,000 they were very supportive of that move made by government. It was done in partnership with them. Not only do we set that threshold and provide and have a number of housing units, we also support partnerships, because dealing with housing issues is most effectively, quite often can be dealt with in partnerships.

One example I would like to use is the Mokami Status of Women in Goose Bay. They are a really important group in Goose Bay who assist women who have complex needs. I can tell you, we made an investment of $1.5 million with that organization in their efforts for housing and homelessness for women with complex needs. I think that is a big investment. That is a big investment for government in the area of Goose Bay to be able to assist women with complex needs, and that is how it is.

I say to the hon. member opposite, she has heard me talk before about the great work – I know she has seen it herself – that Choices for Youth are doing. That is a really good example of a partnership. We like those partnerships.

Mr. Chair, when there are not enough housing units to support a family, when there is a demand for housing like in Labrador, there is also an opportunity for rent supplements. For many, many years the annual budget on rent supplements was at $4 million; $4 million for many, many years. I think it was about twenty-five years. I will ask the Member for Labrador.

MR. MCGRATH: Yes, no movement.

MR. DAVIS: He is confirming; he believes it as well.

We have doubled that, Mr. Chair, to $8 million a year. We have doubled it for rent supplements. That is available to people, not only on the Island but also in Labrador. That assists them in financing their rental cost. That goes a long way to assist seniors. It helps people who are on fixed incomes. Low-income families are supported by rent supplements. When there is not a housing unit owned by the government for them to utilize and assist them with their accommodations and their living, then they can move into private accommodations and a rent supplement can be one of those aspects that assist them.

Mr. Chair, there are a whole host of programs and opportunities that are provided by government and Newfoundland and Labrador Housing for housing in Labrador. If the member would like for us to continue to discuss housing, I would be more than pleased to do it because there are great things happening in Newfoundland and Labrador when it comes to affordable housing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The Chair recognizes the Member for Bay of Islands.

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I thank the minister for the great speech on housing for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Chair, I see there is a lot of expropriation of land. I could tell them one good piece of land they should expropriate to make some use of is what they have planned for the hospital in Corner Brook, because I do not think there is anything going to go there for a while. Who knows what is going to happen to that land, Mr. Chair? It is something that has always been in my craw; the land for the hospital in Corner Brook is still there. If they put a big tower there, Mr. Chair, we could expropriate it and try to get some use of the land. At least we would get a light pole out of it, or something that someone is going to use. We will be able to get a bit of power through it or something.

Anyway, Mr. Chair, I will get back to the position that we are supposed to; we are talking about land here -

CHAIR: I would appreciate that, Sir.

MR. JOYCE: - the acquisition of the land for the requirements of Muskrat Falls, Mr. Chair. This is something we need to have brought forth. It is something we need to have. I have a few concerns about some of these acquisitions we are going to make, some serious concerns. I am not sure, Mr. Chair, how many times I am going to be able to speak on this.

One of the concerns that I am going to mention is, some of the land that is being expropriated is in some municipalities. If I am incorrect I hope someone can inform me that I am, and I have no problem with that. The briefing we had is that when land is expropriated from Emera and going through a municipality, Emera is exempt from taxes for that town. What is happening here from my understanding of it now, and I hope someone can say the Member for the Bay of Islands is inaccurate, but that is what we have been told, is that most utilities that are in the town, there is some form of taxation that a municipality can charge.

Mr. Chair, what happens there is even if it is some form of small taxation, because they are in the municipal boundaries, under this act all the land that is going to be expropriated or all the lines that are going to be going through for the Maritime Link will not even be able to get taxed. What is happening there, Mr. Chair, is that another multi-million-dollar company, with shareholders in the United States somewhere, some in Canada, and all throughout, is going to end up with a deal and with a lot of other companies that own utilities in the municipality that cannot get taxed because of the Muskrat Falls deal.

Mr. Chair, I urge the government for some way that they can revisit this and look at this. If Emera is going to get 20 per cent of the power and make millions upon millions and hundreds of millions of dollars on this, Mr. Chair, I am sure they can find some way to be treated like other utilities in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and pay taxes.

Mr. Chair, I have been through a few of them and I helped people out before with some of these expropriations. Mr. Chair, a lot of these expropriations, I can remember one or two in particular when the road was going through Pasadena. I will be honest with this. The government at the time were the Liberals and I was involved with it. Even trying to get some land expropriated, which we did do, and get the families settled with an agreement that was suitable to all, was a long, hard struggle. It was a long, hard struggle, Mr. Chair. I know some people in particular, and our government were a part of it and we tried everything possible, by the time you go through, you set up the arbitrators, then you set the rates, and then you go for hearings – for some people, it is a struggle.

If there is one thing I would ask the government, and I ask the Minister of Finance to consider this, Mr. Chair, is that if there is some way you can expropriate the land, put rules in place to ensure the land is expropriated, and set a mechanism in place to have the land settled, there is one little thing missing, I say, Mr. Chair. It is a deadline to have the land completed, the transaction completed.

If not, as I know personally, and I say the Member for Humber East knows the people I am talking about when the land going through Pasadena was going through, it took a long time to get that because there was no end date. We should find some way to bring it to some arbitrator, a third arbitrator, to say, okay, if you cannot settle it, let us agree upon an arbitrator and let the arbitrator make the decision. Instead of having it drag out, we could set some end date. I did not see in the regulations how long it would be from the time you expropriate it to the time to have it finished.

MR. MARSHALL: (Inaudible).

MR. JOYCE: I know the arbitrators are there, and I thank the minister for that. I know there is an arbitrator there, but there is no end date, that if you cannot get it done, say, within a year, we can appoint and agree to somebody who arbitrarily, outside, will be able to come in and say, here is your value, which is binding on both parties. What happens a lot of times when you expropriate the land is some people might feel it has more sentimental value than commercial value. Should that be taken into account? I do not know.

A lot of times, you go into a property of somebody who may have a house that may not be up to some of our standards, yet they have horses there and they have cattle there. How can you put a value on that piece of land? That is one thing I would ask the minister to consider, if there is any way possible to have that done, Mr. Chair.

I will recognize a lot of this land is Crown land. What we are told is there are very few houses that will be expropriated through this land on the Province. I understand most of the land also is Crown land, but I do not know, Minister, if you can look at it because under the legislation that is being brought forth where you are creating the new legislation, Mr. Chair, municipalities do not pay any taxes. I know the minister. If there is any way at all, I say to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, that you can, find some way to ensure that municipalities get a fair opportunity to get some utility tax like they do with most other utilities that go through their property.

Mr. Chair, another thing is if we have a dispute with land and you go through arbitration, I know most of the arbitration is normal and this here is setting in special conditions. This act is putting in special conditions to ensure it is done in a speedy way and it has done what is needed. We have to ensure, and this is something I say to everybody and it is all of our responsibility in the House, the rights of people are looked after and ensure that people are treated in a fair and proper manner.

I am not saying they will not be; I am definitely not saying they will not be. I am definitely not making any accusations, but I know personally, and I know when we were in government we did it, that some people felt hard done by and they felt hardship. This is not a slight on the current government because I know we went through it and I went through it helping people when the Liberals were in power.

If there is some way we can ensure that the hardship of people whose land is being expropriated can be done in a timely manner and done in such a way, Mr. Chair, that people have the least hardship possible, I am not sure –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. JOYCE: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Chair, I have a few seconds left here now. I am going to sit down. We have been here now almost three or four days and there are a few people opposite who are starting to age. Mr. Chair, we have been here so long that a few people are starting to age. I am starting to get frightened, Mr. Chair, because I hope I do not look as old as some of them who are over across the way. We have to be a bit careful, Mr. Chair, because when you are among the people and you can see them aging, you know you have been here for a long time.

Mr. Chair, I know my time is up. I know I will have another opportunity. I will say to the people who are getting a bit older as I look across the way: Have no worry. The health care system is going to be good. We will take care of you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The Chair recognizes the hon. the Minister of Education.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

As the member opposite just said, people are aging. Myself and the Member for Gander were sitting a while ago and we were looking at the Member for Burgeo – La Poile and we said: My jumpin' dyin', I think the beard is after getting thicker in the last twelve or fourteen hours. I think I have lost track of time. I know that Wednesday disappeared altogether.

Mr. Chair, the House is an interesting place. It gives me pleasure to get up here and speak tonight. I just want to tell folks a little thing. There is something wonderful that happened in this Province on December 21, 1954. There was something wonderful that happened in this Province December 21, 1954, in a little community called Grole up in Hermitage Bay.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Mr. Chair, I do not know if it is a right of passage or ceremonial that is done in this House, but in 1954, December 21, there was a fellow, Clyde Jackman, who was born in Grole.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Mr. Chair, you might think that I would stand up here and ask for something special. People might say at this particular point: Will you close the House down, for God's sake.

MS JONES: A point of order, Mr. Chair.

MR. JACKMAN: Oh, gentle dyin'.

CHAIR: The Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair, on a point of order.

MS JONES: Mr. Chair, I wanted to call a point of order on relevance, but I just wanted to give the Member for Burin – Placentia West a little gift from all of us here tonight and that is his own point of order.

Mr. Chair, I do not think that any member in this House, on their birthday, should have to sit next to the Member for Gander. Mr. Chair, I do not think that is fair. Mr. Chair, he is a pretty good dancer; he is getting the Gangnam Style down pat but it is the Gander version. Even so, Mr. Chair, I do not think anyone should have to sit there on their birthday.

In addition to that, Mr. Chair, nobody should have to sit surrounded by the twins: the Members for Mount Pearl South and Mount Pearl North. Mr. Chair, I like to call them Homer and Ned Flanders, because that is who they remind of when I look over some days. You have the Member for Mount Pearl North there and he is like Homer, and then you have the Member for Mount Pearl South and he is just like Flanders. Every time I look over, I want to say ‘okily-dokily', Mr. Chair.

Seeing it is the birthday of the Member for Burin – Placentia West, Mr. Chair, I think he should be permitted to speak from the Speaker's gallery instead of from his seat under the circumstances. Mr. Chair, even though the Member for Gander is getting the Gangnam Style down, I think the Member for Burin – Placentia West is pretty good at the Muskrat tango, and he is doing a great job of it.

Before I interrupt him, I just wanted to stand up and say to the member that I think we should sing you Happy Birthday. I think we should also pick up a collection for you for the Boxing Day sale, because that is about when we are going to get out of here. I think it would be a nice treat, Mr. Chair, to drop him off at the Avalon Mall and give him a few dollars. I think that would be a nice birthday gift.

Mr. Chair, in all seriousness, he is a fine member and a fine gentleman. He has certainly done his service to his constituents and the people in this Province. It has been a pleasure to work with him in the House of Assembly, and I think everyone would agree with that, Mr. Chair. I think it is only appropriate, and in the spirit of Christmas and to celebrate that wonderful day in Grole in 1954, that the members of the House would stand and sing Happy Birthday to the hon. Member for Burin – Placentia West.

[Members sing Happy Birthday]

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair, to conclude.

MS JONES: Now, Mr. Chair, that ends my point of order and I will wait for your ruling. I just want to say to the member opposite: The game is back on. We are on Bill 60.

CHAIR: I would just like to remind all members they are supposed to use the member's district, not his name.

The Chair recognizes the hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

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

That is a tough act to follow. I do not expect I am going to have many songs sung to me here this evening. What I would say, Mr. Chair, we have a lot of very serious moments in this House, so sometimes it is nice to have those light-hearted moments where you recognize a member, regardless of stripe, for doing good service to their constituents, even if you happen to disagree on occasion.

At some point we have to go back to the crux of the matter here before us, that being Bill 60. We are talking about the expropriation of land that is necessary for the Muskrat Falls Project. When I left off, I was on page 4 of this bill, which has twenty-nine pages in total. I was going through the Definitions section, Mr. Chair, and I was talking about some of the definitions, whether it be proponent or Muskrat Falls Project. That one is already referred to in other pieces of legislation. It is a two-and-a-half page definition.

I do not know if I have it right here, but I will come back to the Muskrat Falls Project. A lot of the definition is very standard, but there is one part in particular that concerns me. That is that the Cabinet has the ability to include or exclude certain things about Muskrat Falls to that definition. That is a bit interesting, that they have the ability to change that depending on what they need to accomplish at that particular time.

As you move forward, Mr. Chair, you go into the rest of the definitions such as transmission corridor, transmission lines, and trustee. This is where one of those pieces legislation is referred to as the Trustee Act.

Now, going into section 3 we talk about a very important aspect of this legislation. That is a reference to the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act. That is something I am sure the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair is going to have an opportunity to speak about as well, as well as the Member for Torngat Mountains, because that is of particular concern to them and to their constituencies. There is no doubt about that, Mr. Chair.

We get into section 5, "Except as otherwise provided in this Act, for the purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project, this Act shall prevail over another Act of the province, and, in the case of an inconsistency between this Act and another Act of the province, this act Prevails."

We all know the Province has to make sure that this piece of legislation has all the force they want and that it will overpower any other piece of legislation that might get in its way. Some might say that is similar to government, they will overpower whoever gets in their way in getting this project done. Again, that is just my interpretation of what is going on here.

You move into Part I, which is the Statutory Easement. That is something I am familiar with from practicing law and doing a little bit of real estate law. I know the Member for St. Barbe has dealt with this in his past life, and I believe the Minister of Finance probably has as well, has dealt with statutory easements. I do not know if the Minister of Natural Resources ever dealt with that, he was primarily a criminal lawyer. I do not think he has any experience with that section per se.

We talk about statutory easements, or basically a right of way is what it comes down to. That is the term. It is a registered right of way that runs with a property.

What we are dealing with here is, "The Crown, an agent of the Crown, a municipality… may create, in favour of a holder for a purpose described in subsection( 3), an easement without dominant tenement to be known as a statutory easement."

If you go to subsection (3), we refer to "A statutory easement may only be created and may only be used by a holder for a purpose necessary in connection with an activity or undertaking involving the Muskrat Falls Project or part of it."

Now that section, I think I am fine with that, because what they are saying is this transmission line, this bill is only going to be created for the purposes of making sure that the land is there for the transmission line. It is not going to be used for any other purpose. It is not going to be exploited in any way, shape or form.

What a statutory easement does is, "…grants to the holder the right to construct, maintain, repair and operate, on the land subject to the statutory easement, transmission lines and transmission assets relating to the Muskrat Falls Project or a part of it, as well as a right of reasonable access over adjoining land".

The statutory easement section has been laid out. There is quite a bit under that particular part of this bill. There are other pieces of legislation that are referred to in here as well, including the Provincial Parks Act. There are sections, I believe – I will just quickly switch over to the briefing notes that we were given on, I guess that was Monday, which feels like it was an eternity – actually, sorry, Tuesday, Mr. Chair. Tuesday we had the briefing, which still seems like an eternity ago. One of the sections we talked about in that is the property acquisition aspect. I will just quickly leap over to that.

There are going to be exemptions to this. There is going to be land they cannot go after. I think that would relate to T'Railways. I do not think T'Railways is going to be part of this. When they construct the line, there is that fine line you have to deal with where you cannot be going all over the place, twisting back and forth to accommodate absolutely everything. I understand the cost that will come with that. I understand that.

At the same time, they have to recognize that they just cannot go full force over absolutely anything that lies in their path. They have to take into account or accommodate certain pre-existing developments or situations. I think they have tried that, which is why the vast majority of this is over Crown land.

That being said, Mr. Chair, there are two different lines here. There is the Labrador-Island Link and there is also the Maritime Link. The Labrador-Island Link, if I might just skip forward here, is 99 per cent on Crown land, according to Nalcor. That is going to be my proviso. If anybody down the road looks back at my comments and says, well, you seem to agree. I can say: Well, this is what we have been told by Nalcor. Right now, we have nothing else to go on except what they have told us. I am hoping what they tell us is right. What Nalcor told us with the mill was not right, but I am hoping we have learned from that experience.

That is the Labrador part. Now, there are approximately fifty to sixty property owners affected right there; however, the Maritime Link is only 90 per cent Crown land. There are about 100 property owners who will be affected. That is not an insignificant number by any stretch. It says here there are about five homes that are going to be affected by the easements, mostly in Sunnyside and Chapel Arm. It also says the majority are property owners as opposed to homeowners.

I do not think we should in any way diminish the importance of distinguishing between a property owner versus a homeowner. Yes, a homeowner has their home taken away, but that does not mean the property owner who has good title to their land and has it expropriated to take in this line should be treated as someone: oh well, it is only property. It is an easement over their property. It might not take away too much from their ability to have peaceful enjoyment of that land or to be able to use that piece of land. It is still there, it is still a factor and it is still an issue that needs to be taken into consideration, especially when it comes to the compensation part.

Since we are in the Committee stage, what I would suggest is that I am going to ask questions. At some point I am assuming that members of government, particularly the ministers involved, will come back to me with answers to the questions.

What I am going to ask, Mr. Chair, is I would like to know: Is it still just 100 property owners? Is it greater than that number or is it less than that number? The second question I would ask is: What is the budget that has been laid out by Nalcor to compensate these people for the land and or property?

They must have had an idea of what this is going to cost, because that cost is going to be borne by the taxpayer. We would like to have an idea as to what that cost will be. It is obviously going to be well into the thousands and likely into the hundreds of thousands. It is nice to know what we are dealing with. Perhaps it is much more than that, but it is up to the minister to answer that.

My time is running out here. What I am going to do is reserve the rest of my questions for the next session. I will leave those now for the ministers to answer at the next go around. On that note, I will take my seat.

CHAIR (Pollard): Order, please!

The Chair recognizes the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity to speak to Bill 60, An Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Purpose of The Muskrat Falls Project.

I just want to go back to the briefing. When we were briefed on Bill 60 and 61, these financing bills and enabling the financing of Muskrat Falls, because consistent with the recourse financing principle, the assets of the projects are needed to be put up for collateral to guarantee certainty that the debt of this project of Muskrat Falls can be repaid. So they are very interrelated.

The lenders want that certainty, the ability to pay off the debt. The proponents are putting up ownership and control of the asset for security. Whereas otherwise if it was debated based on the current utility regulation, then there would not be certainty based on the current rates of the project to pay for itself with the energy utilization that we have. That is a bit of concern.

Bill 60 is talking about all the processes and legalities involved with acquiring the land rights, creating the transmission line and ensuring that the line has that secure asset to allow for those borrowing rights. When it talks about land, it focuses on all the different forms of land, whether it public or private ownership, tenure or easement.

One of the things in the terminology that is put forward when it describes land, it talks about hereditaments. Hereditaments by definition would be looking at land that can be inherited. A number of people have land right now and they are holding it for an investment. They are looking at it down the road.

Over time, Mr. Chair, we have seen how the value of land accumulates. We do not have to look too far only to look at where the City of St. John's has come in just a brief ten years. Lands have basically doubled and household values have doubled, maybe more. It was not that long ago that people were buying land for about $50,000 in 2005 and now that same land is nearly $100,000.

You look at expropriating somebody's investment in the future. That has a significant impact. I remember having discussion with several colleagues where they were saying, and maybe said it here in debate, where a family member planned in advance and bought land for their grandkids so that they could stay close to home. It was talked about a number of homes in Sunnyside, Chapel's Arm, and the Chance Cove area that there would be family homes that would be expropriated.

Beyond family homes, there could be plots of land, plots of land that are looking at retaining that family and having them there in the area with all the things that are happening in and around the region. With that, the bill itself is looking at setting up a committee appointed by Cabinet to look at providing fair market value, in the most cases.

Now, fair market value is not really looking at the future marketable value and what that means, and there really does need to be fair compensation. Included in the hereditaments, looking at inherited property, people do have a future interest. Whether it is to look at other things that would be developed there, it could be quite significant.

We have seen a lot happening in the Province when it comes to setting up prospecting with their association and what that actually means, but if you are going to take away land where there has not been appropriate exploration and things like that and expropriate that right from those individuals, it can have very serious implications to them.

I wanted to talk a little bit because that same definition of land goes on to talk about various things from easements to rights of way but also to water, water rights, water powers, and water privileges, just in the very definition of what could be expropriated.

Mr. Chair, my district, the subsea cable that is going to be running, the three of them that are going to be running from the Strait of Belle Isle that would run from the Labrador Straits side to The Straits region in my district basically just a few kilometres from where I live. That crossing of three subsea cables with twenty-one kilometres skirted about the ocean floor there, they are prime fishing grounds.

Having ownership or being able to say we have that jurisdictional control over that land that is under water is quite limiting when it comes to looking at the fishers who are using those grounds, when it comes to the scallop fishers in those areas who use dragging type of equipment that could be economically hindered for years and years to come, and who have a historical attachment, they have an adjacency attachment.

I am just wondering: What type of discussion has gone on? Has the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, or has the Department of Natural Resources, has Nalcor appropriately consulted these fishers? Are they prepared to compensate them through a royalty or through an annual payment for loss? Are there going to be barriers put up that is going to prevent them from using this land? You look at Crown land and who actually has the ability to say no longer any more is this land itself able to be used that has been used for centuries when it comes to fishing in those regions from the immediate settlers who came on the Strait of Belle Isle.

You are taking away a part of the economy that is there and it is traditional. It is the most important aspect of our economy right now and it always has been – the fishery. The Muskrat Falls Project and looking at transmission, putting that corridor in and what it is going to mean economically to cutting the forest and putting in those cables. It is not going to bring the long-term jobs on any level to any people of my district, versus what the fishery in those areas and those waters are bringing, retaining and sustaining, and have been for years and will be years into the future. I would like further explanation as to what that is going to mean.

I talked with Nalcor officials when they have had consultations in my district about this and about fair consultation and compensation for the fishers, but also why they did not go underground with a fixed link versus scattering these subsea cables on the ocean floor.

A tunnel underground would not have any implications on the fishing industry that is there. It would create an advanced transportation network with Route 138 on the Quebec North Shore Highway coming on stream that would radically change how we do business in North America and would bring significant economic benefits, hotels, motels, gas stations, all kinds of related services, warehouses, and things like that.

Transportation would flow north into Newfoundland and Labrador and would bring more significant benefits to the people of my district and to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador for the long term, if that project was partnered with Muskrat Falls and even maybe partnered with Quebec as they are the ones that are doing the North Shore Highway.

When that came out, it was looked at doing a joint study. The Department of Transportation and Works said: No, we will not do a joint study; we are going to do our own study. That is a missed opportunity there when we look at land and how we use land, and how we look at jurisdictional approaches and how we get greatest economic benefit. We have to have an agreement and there is no guarantee right now that all of these fishers, all of those people, have been consulted, and I would like to have that guarantee from the department there.

We have to look at all the individual municipalities and are they being consulted in this, because there are several people – a corridor is going to follow through. On page 27, clause 54.(1), it says, "A holder may use and develop land located within the boundary of a municipality or a planning area as defined in the Urban and Rural Planning Act, 2000 in respect of the transmission corridor and transmission lines for the purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project without obtaining a permit from a council of a municipality as may otherwise be required under an Act of the province."

Mr. Chair, it seems like the municipality certainly has no say on if the corridor is running through their municipality. They are not able to collect revenue in terms of a permit, establishing a permit, a permit to build or a permit to develop, how that would impact and interfere with their land use and their land use plans and looking at what they are planning for, for subdivisions, and what that is going to mean for their tax base and economic growth.

We do not know those implications because that has not been explained to us. We have seen where many rural municipalities struggle in many cases to pay the bills and look at doing the developments that are needed for capital works and for infrastructure because of declining housing builds and things like that and lack of business investment. Any permit and any taxation that can be gained from a project of this magnitude for municipalities, especially those that are in rural –

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: I see that my time has expired. I was not watching the clock, but I will continue my conversation after, Mr. Chair.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The Chair recognizes the hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

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

I think I will pick up where my colleague left off, because it was one of the things I wanted to speak to as well with regard to this bill, which is respecting the use and expropriation of land for the purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project. One of the benefits of having a Crown corporation from the government's perspective is governments do things with Crown corporations that would not be able to happen with the private sector. I suppose in some ways that is good, but in some ways that is also bad.

It is very important as governments, whether we are dealing with the private sector or dealing with something that is part of government as a Crown corporation, that we make sure legislation we put in place, the way in which we behave, and the plans we make, respect people in the jurisdiction of the government, respect the people in the Province, respect individuals, respect municipalities, and respect groups. It did strike me in reading the legislation, and it struck me strongly, actually, and the point that was being made by the Member for The Straits – White Bay North, the way in which the Muskrat Falls Project and the aspects of the Muskrat Falls Project, such as the transmission corridor, are just going to be full steam ahead and anything in its path just gets wiped out. We have to be very, very cautious when we do that kind of thing.

I do have a concern with regard to the section my colleague was just talking about. That is the section that has to do with public utilities and the fact that the Public Utilities Act is not going to apply to the Muskrat Falls Project when it comes to the way in which the Muskrat Falls Project is going to be able to move into a municipality and erect whatever they want to erect without any permission of the municipality. I find that problematic.

There does not even seem to be somewhere where we are talking about consultation and working things out. It just sounds like wherever they want to put their transmission line and wherever they want to put their poles. Here we are not just talking about poles. I presume we are talking about transmission towers with the type of transmission we are talking about. We know what those transmission towers look like. These are massive structures.

I find it rather problematic that there is not going to be any consultation with municipalities about where the Muskrat Falls Project will be putting its different structures. The towers are one thing. There will be other structures as well that are related to those towers.

It seems to me that all of this is in the interest of getting the Muskrat Falls Project done expeditiously, quickly, and with as few barriers as possible. I understand all of that. I understand the loan guarantee, for example, will be tied to timelines and tied to getting things to happen within a certain period of time, and not have delays and that kind of thing.

I do have a concern with regard to this piece in the legislation. I am just wondering if there could not have been a better way to say that at least there would be some kind of consultation. In our Public Utilities Act, as it exists, where a council refuses or neglects to grant a permit to erect or place a pole, wire, concrete, pipe, building, substation tower, or other structure within a month after a utility makes an application to the council, if the council delays or if the council does not give consent and the utility who has made an application cannot get anywhere with the council, then at least the Public Utilities Board is there. Either party can refer the issue to the Public Utilities Board, and the board can get involved in helping out with the terms. What is going to happen here is that it is just wherever the Muskrat Falls Project wants to put its structures it is going to happen.

I do know, which is fine, and we were told this in the briefing and it is in the legislation, that if the Muskrat Falls Project has an office in a municipality, for example, and is serviced by the municipality they will pay taxes. That will happen and it should happen. They are there and they are being serviced. This thing of no consultation and being able to put their buildings and structures of all those kinds wherever they want to put them I think is very problematic. I really wonder if there were discussions with Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador over this one.

I would like to think that there were, but maybe the minister – the minister is around somewhere, I guess; yes, I see him right opposite there. He might be able to enlighten us as to whether or not Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador was consulted about all this. I cannot imagine that people just said: Oh, yes, that is fine; no problem. It seems problematic to me.

Before going on, I do have some other places where I want to point out some things. I do want to point out that the bill, as we know, is pretty technical. It is pretty dense. Obviously there is no way that we, since Tuesday, have been able to sit down and go over every single word in this document, which is problematic. We have had experiences in this House where things have been gone over, the Department of Justice has gone over a piece of legislation, it comes to the House, we think everything is okay, and then all of a sudden we find significant things wrong. I know even in my short history in the House there have been three or four times I have discovered things that were a shock to the minister who was responsible, and changes were made.

We are all beating the drum of Abitibi, but it should be a lesson learned. That mistake with that legislation is going to cost this Province maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars to do the cleanup of that mill because we own it, whether we wanted to own it. We did not want to own it; that was the thing. We did not think we owned it but, because of a rushed piece of legislation, an error was made and we have it.

I have to trust that every single word in this has been gone over with a fine-tooth comb. What you have to do, and I think somebody referred to this earlier today, is you just do not read the document. There are some people watching us, believe it or not. It is important for them to understand it is just not a matter of taking the document, but every piece of legislation refers back to other pieces of legislation. I have several documents here, for example, that help me interpret what is in this piece of legislation. It is quite complex. I do urge the minister responsible, the Minister of Natural Resources who understands, being a lawyer, how important words are, to be sure that there is no word wrong in this legislation.

I do not have a lot of time left. There are a couple of things I would like to pick up on. One has to do with the Lands Act. In the Lands Act, it says that when a piece of land that is being expropriated involves a seashore, "a strip of Crown lands not less than 15 metres wide around and adjoining the lake, pond, seashore or foreshore or along each bank of the river was not intended to pass and did not pass to the grantee, lessee or licensee." In other words, they want a piece of property fifteen metres wide that is accessible to the public.

What is happening in this act is that is not going to be the case. This section in the Lands Act is not going to refer to Muskrat Falls. All the way through the legislation, and I am sure we will pick up on many other ones throughout this discussion, there are places of exemptions like that.

Some of them have to do with expediency so we can move full steam ahead. Some have to do with having no barriers. I have a concern that in doing it we are not walking on people and communities, that we are doing in a way that is – well, I suppose it is legal because the government is doing it, but we have to do with sensitivity. The issue of the municipalities is one.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I remind the member her speaking time has expired.

MS MICHAEL: My time is up for now.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: The Chair recognizes the hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

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

I get up again to speak to Bill 60. I am just going to correct the Leader of the Third Party. She mentioned the cleanup, and I think it is the lateness of the night she said hundreds of thousands, but we know it is actually hundreds of millions.

I only say that because I know the Leader of the Third Party knows that, but being the lateness of the night I would not want somebody to come back and say she had the figure wrong. She knows how much it is going to cost. We know how much it is going to cost. That is a subject matter that is the same as what we are doing here tonight.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I encourage the member to direct his comments to the Chair, please.

Thank you.

MR. A. PARSONS: Certainly, Mr. Chair, not a problem.

I say to the Chair: You know how much it is going to cost too. You know exactly what this is going to cost us down the road. We are dealing with the same subject matter.

I go back to where I left off here. When I left off I was talking about the statutory easements. The Leader of the Third Party also was right and this is something we have referenced numerous times over the last number of days. This is a very complex piece of litigation where the wording of each clause is very important.

Not having that time to review it in great detail, or even to farm it out to have your own people outside have a look at it and have fresh eyes on it, could make a difference. Our job is to bring forward concerns, which we have done, but also it would be nice to have other people have that look at it. These mistakes are not made within intent. They are made in error and in oversight, and that is what we are trying to do here.

We just go into page 8 here and we are still talking about statutory easements. One thing to note, it is very interesting on the record, all these easements that are registered under this act are going to expire on New Year's Day 2075. That is a long period of time. That is a very long time away. It is a bit longer I believe than the term of this contract, the fifty-year loan guarantee provisions. Nevertheless, it is still a long period of time. Then all of a sudden New Year's Day, boom, you are going to have 2075, they are all going to expire.

I will just continue on. I think an important clause here as well is section 8.(5) "A landowner shall not subsequently encumber or create a security interest for any land with respect to which a statutory easement has been registered, and a security interest on the real property of the landowner shall not apply to or be binding upon the statutory easement or the holder of a statutory easement, notwithstanding the landowner's remaining interest in the land." What is going on here, we do not want to further encumber the land that Nalcor, or the government, or the subsidiaries are taking.

I would say two points on that. Number one, I heard a term used earlier in this debate was we are acquiring land. The fact is there is no acquiring here. Acquiring, to me, implies a process by which you work to acquire the land through negotiation, et cetera. While that could happen here the fact is that this legislation gives the power to take land.

Whether or not you like it, if you live within the path of that chosen transmission line – sorry, Mr. Chair, if anybody is watching on TV, a glass of water came flying at me there. I guess the members of the government are not too happy with me. They know I am only speaking the truth over here. I say to them they know that what I have to say is important and if that is how it is going to go, then that is how it is going to go.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Chair, I come back to the fact that this transmission line and the land that is being expropriated to allow this to happen –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) all washed up.

MR. A. PARSONS: They are saying I am only a year in and I am all washed up.

When we come back to the expropriation or the taking of the land, I am not sure who is doing it, per se. I am not sure if it is Nalcor or Nalcor's subsidiaries. To me, when you really look at it, they are all the same; it is just Nalcor. To me, it is the government. To me, they are interchangeable; they are really the same. Nalcor belongs to government and Nalcor belongs to the people. So I guess you could say it is just people taking other people's land, if you want to use that train of thought.

There is this land grab that is going to happen. My main concern is that when this land grab happens, any person who is affected by it is going to be compensated fairly and they are going to be compensated quickly.

The expropriation process itself is going to be quick; there is no doubt about that. It is necessary. Again, this is legislation that is being banged through here, but we hope that the people are going to be remedied quickly as well if they are affected by that.

I would continue on, when we talk about there is further reference to pieces of legislation here, the Lands Act, and then the Regulations section 11: The Lieutenant-Governor in Council has regulation-making power. That is a clause that is a standard in many pieces of legislation. It is the one that was left out of An Act to Amend an Act to Amend the Enduring Powers of Attorney Act, which I keep coming back to because I love the fact that it was an amendment, amendment act.

We move on and then we get into Part II which is the actual expropriation section of this legislation. If I want to go down through this part of it, what they are saying is: Where a proponent requires land which, in the opinion of the proponent, is necessary for the project they may negotiate with the landowner for that land, and where (a) its reached, it is valid and binding on the parties; and (b) if it cannot be reached, the proponent may apply to the expropriating authority in accordance with the expropriation protocol to expropriate the land.

All we are saying there is that we are not going to force people to go into this process of protocol right away. There is the ability to have a negotiation between the landowner and the proponent or the company or group that is expropriating the land, and, hopefully, a solution will be reached mutually. I think that is in the best interest of everybody, and that is why I am confident that the people who are affected are going to be able to negotiate this because I am confident that government is going to treat them fairly and make sure that they are fairly compensated for their land. I really do hope that.

MR. BENNETT: Hope.

MR. A. PARSONS: Let's hope – the Member for St. Barbe hopes as well. He has a different term that he uses to describe this legislation; he is going to get a chance to talk about that. I really do hope that they are treated fairly.

From other situations of this nature, expropriation matters involving government in the past, I think they have treated people very fairly. I hope that continues. I have had assurances from members across the way that no doubt they are going to be fair. So let's take them at their word and hope that is indeed the case.

As we move on into the Expropriation section, we know that the land has to be identified first. Then I guess you identify the owner of that land, whether it be Crown land or private. Then we move into the negotiation stage. It explains how it can be done mutually, through a negotiation or through the expropriation protocol.

Then what happens is, "The expropriating authority shall review the proponent's application for expropriation and, where it meets the requirements of this Part and the expropriation protocol, acquire the land on behalf of the proponent by expropriation under this Part."

What that means is if they cannot work it out to get this land, which I guess would happen via a negotiation, then there would be a deed drawn up between the – I do not know, the terms might be different. It might be the vendor and the purchaser, or some kind of terminology of that sort. There are different terms that can be inserted there. There would be a dollar value attached. That document is then sent to St. John's and registered under the Registry of Deeds Act. Then it is on file there, I guess if it is an easement, until 2075.

What happens is if we do not have that agreement, what we are going to have happen is we are going to have the expropriation protocol. What happens then is, okay, we know the land and we know the owner, but now we have to expropriate it because for some reason we cannot reach a deal. Let's hope this does not happen a lot, but they have laid out the process just in case that does happen.

I can see that my time is quickly drifting away here, Mr. Chair, so what I am going to say is I am going to get plenty of more opportunity to speak to this, and I will work further down through this section as I continue on. I will take my seat at this time.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair recognizes the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity once again to speak to Bill 60, An Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Purpose of The Muskrat Falls Project.

I am going to coin this one as the steamroll bill, because the other one is the monopoly bill, and both are needed, Bills 60 and 61. In order to get financing there has to be expropriated land and there has to be that asset; that security put up.

The other piece we were talking about, about getting financing, in order to put that into play the proponents, Nalcor, want to go and get financing in January, which is just a few days away. In order to move that forward and be able to get this legislation passed, it means things will move very, very quickly.

The last time I spoke, I was speaking about section 54 on page 27, which talked about a holder using land to develop the boundary and all the planning that had taken place. It allows for the development of Muskrat Falls and these transmission lines, the cables going through, and land acquisitions "…without obtaining a permit from a council of a municipality as may otherwise be required under an Act of the province."

Mr. Chair, that sets into action why I call that the steamroll bill, because it is setting out some of the protocols and procedures we would have in play. The opportunity for our elected officials at the municipal level to have that ability to look at the permits as they come in, developments that would be happening in their town, to be able to debate as we debate in this House, and to have the ability to say as the Municipality Act allows for them to approve permits for those types of developments, to say yea or nay on that.

To take away those rights of those elected officials says that we really need to move forward. We need to move forward fast, and we are not looking at the implications of what these towers and these transmissions will mean to municipalities.

If you look at several municipalities where this 1,100 kilometre cable is going through, they may have already a land plan or some aspect of economic development, a regional plan as to how they want to move forward to advance business or advance housing development. You may see housing incomes, the values of houses up in some of these communities. A lot of municipalities receive their assessments with that.

If you are putting towers and transmissions through that can obstruct traditional views that are there, or be very close to a resident, that can greatly depreciate the value of a home, a residence, or a reason why people may want to move into a community that is already settled. That can have an impact. That provides some concern to me. Municipalities are seeing some of their role diminished with the passage of this bill.

It talks about a holder. I want to read the definition of a holder, just for the benefit of those watching. On page 4, clause 2.(c) "‘holder' means a proponent of the Muskrat Falls Project or any subsequent person who has an interest in both a transmission corridor and the transmission assets associated with it".

That is very broad language when it comes to – it is not just a proponent of Muskrat Falls and its subsidiaries. It could be potentially other businesses, entities, or individuals that may have some form of interest in the corridor, not requiring having to go through a permitting process of what would be required by a municipality. That is one of those pieces that I wanted to get back to and talk about.

I wanted to talk about, as well, that there are some further limitations. "A land use plan or development regulations under the Urban and Rural Planning Act, 2000, the City of St. John's Act, the City of Corner Brook Act, the City of Mount Pearl Act or the Municipalities Act, 1999, shall not be inconsistent with the approved use under section (1), and where land use plans or development regulations were prepared and approved before the coming into force of this section, they are considered to be modified and are approved as being consistent with the approved under subsection (1)."

After coming into use, a land plan or development regulation shall only be approved where consistent with subsection (1). This changes some of the potential land use development and the regulations that are currently in play, which can adversely affect these municipalities that are along the 1,100 kilometre corridor. I wonder how often, how frequently they have been consulted. Were there public consultations and meetings taking place to say, this is where the corridor is going to take place? It is a 60 metre corridor in many cases. That was described in the briefing on the 1,100 kilometre stretch.

We need to have confidence that the people of the Province who are going to be impacted were consulted in a public manner, where that dialogue and that discussion was there. I am not sure that has really taken place, Mr. Chair. We have not really seen that, or I have not seen a significant amount of public consultation directly with municipalities on specifics. Sure, there has been public consultation, but I have municipalities in my district where the corridor is going to run through or run very closely through, also unincorporated communities as well. We cannot forget that there are many local service districts or places where people are living that are not incorporated. They have a voice as well. They are people in the Province and they own land in those areas.

That brings to a question as well that we are saying Crown land is 99 per cent of the Labrador-Island Link. In many cases in Newfoundland and Labrador – I know in my district specifically – a number of people are living on land that their families have had and had for years and years and years that are certainly eligible for squatters' rights and to go through that process. They do not have clear title; they do not have a deed to their properties. Without the clear title, it is assumed that this all falls under Crown land.

When we say 1 per cent which would equate to eleven kilometres of land, it could be far more reaching as to what the impacts are and what people's rights are. That could increase the cost of what is needed and what the obligations are to ensure that people are compensated, if they are going to have their family home or if they are going to have a home or a land that was used by them and their families for years and years and years expropriated.

Like I said if we go back to the archives and where titles and grants were handed out back in the day, will they be looked at and be honoured in that form? We could see a flurry like when we saw with the Qalipu band that was going through the process. They anticipated a much smaller number of registrants to be members of this band, and there were over 60,000.

Is this a too conservative number put forward when we look at expropriating land and where the transmission corridor, to say that only 1 per cent of this 1,100 kilometres are going to be impacted in this situation, Mr. Chair? We do not have a provincial land use plan saying who owns what here and there, and looking at the historical piece of all those grants that were handed out. We have to go back and look at that. We have to take time, do due diligence, or this could end up costing us a significant amount of money.

I have a number of issues, though, when we look at the Crown land negotiations as to what is being fair and compensated, and how people have such an attachment to family-owned lands and homes. What will happen if there are people who absolutely refuse to go? Will Nalcor and its subsidiaries consider moving the cable, the transmission, and things to a more appropriate area, should they find that there are regions where people are very upset about this type of development moving forward in their town?

I have a number of other things to talk about but my time has expired once again, so I will continue my conversation, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair recognizes the Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Chair, I would like to speak to Bill 60, An Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project.

I do not favour the term used by the Member for The Straits – White Bay North. I prefer the dictators' midnight land grab. I think it is a much more appropriate title: the dictators' midnight land grab. It has all of the hallmarks that if you were a dictator in an underdeveloped country, this is what you would need.

How big is the piece of land that we are talking about? Well, it is sixty metres wide. One of these desks is a yard, just under a metre. So, you take sixty of these and make it that wide and 1,100 kilometres long. That is how big the piece of land is. It is sixty-six square kilometres. Take a swath of land two kilometres wide and thirty-three kilometres wide, that is how big of a piece of land we are talking about. That is how much land we are talking about that this development basically is going to lay waste to because you will not be able to use it for anything else.

They are fancying it up with different names, statutory easement and so on, but it really means you cannot do anything about it. We are going to be tied up with a piece of land more than sixty of these desks wide and 1,100 kilometres long. That is about a drive from, I guess, here to St. Anthony. That is about 1,100 kilometres, more or less. Why wouldn't it be? Because it is from Muskrat Falls and it is going to come down across Labrador, it is going to roll right across everything, going to come down and go underneath the Straits, and it is going to come up across roughly in Eddies Cove East, I think – isn't it, Eddies Cove East, more or less?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BENNETT: Shoal Cove East, yes.

It is going to come up in the lowlands, in behind Hawke's Bay, it is going to cut right through all of that vacation property that people have. It is going to go up over the mountains, going to go over the mountains, inside of a mountain that we call – because this is where I live – Blow Me Down, and it is going to run all up across all of the outfitters. All of the outfitters that bring mostly Americans here and they charge them in our area around $7,500 to come for a hunt in the fall. A double hunt is like a moose and caribou hunt. These hunters like to go in to the vast, unspoiled wilderness. They fly in, in float planes; nobody else can get there. It generates a lot of employment.

Now, these hunters who are coming from Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York, they think they are coming to a vast, unspoiled wilderness where they can hunt moose and caribou. They are going to get flown in, in a float plane. That is presuming the line did not actually run through the camp. If the line actually ran through the camp, then the outfitter is going to be basically out of business.

They will cut right on through all of these. Then they are going to come up and go right in behind Gros Morne National Park, almost into the main river water area set aside, and come all the way across the Island until it gets right out here to Soldiers Pond.

Mr. Chair, we are supposed to believe there are only five or six homes that are actually going to be expropriated, and there is going to be maybe fifty or sixty other properties. Clearly, if you took a piece of land that is sixty-six square kilometres and if you think about sixty-six square kilometres in this Province, you would have far more property interest than that you would have to accommodate.

How are they being accommodated? They are being accommodated in a very unaccommodating manner, except for the homes. The homes that are expropriated are going to receive replacement costs but all of the others are going to receive fair market value.

If you have a camp back in the woods for your outfitting business, what is the fair market value of a camp built in the woods that only has minimum services and is used seasonally? Well, one of those things might only be worth a few thousands dollars, even though you needed it for your business. You may have needed it for your business but it will not be replaced in another pond. You will not have additional land. The good ponds are already taken up.

You have Rack Lake, you have Stag Lake, and you have Leander Lake. All of the outfitters in my district, people like Patey & Sons, are going to be affected. People like Brophy & Sons are going to be affected. People like Sam's will be affected. Portland Creek Outfitters will be affected. Portland Creek Hunting and Fishing will be affected. Stewart House will be affected. Gideon House will be affected. Hynes will be affected. All of these outfitters, and these are only the outfitters I know personally in St. Barbe district that are going to have this snake, this reptile, that is going to run right up through the Province.

Who is going to do this? Well, this is going to be done by somebody called a proponent. I heard the Premier say in the last couple of days that if someone says Emera is going to expropriate land that is absolutely wrong. I went back and read this darned thing, Bill 60, and I thought, well, the Premier must know what she is talking about. Then I read it again and it said a proponent means "…a proponent of the Muskrat Falls Project, and includes, whether individually or in combination of them, (i) the corporation established in the Energy Corporation Act, including all affiliates, subsidiaries, successors and assigns of that corporation…"

Well, that corporation likely does not even exist as yet because when I posed the question to the corporations in our briefing I was told these companies have not actually been incorporated yet, but they will be incorporated to do this. It says right here on page 5 in the definition a proponent is "(ii) Emera Inc., including all affiliates, subsidiaries, successors and assigns of that corporation…" That is what a proponent is.

What can a proponent do? Well, Mr. Chair, a proponent can go to the expropriating authority because we are not going to bother with the Expropriation Act for Muskrat Falls. We already have a perfectly good Expropriations Act in this Province, but we are not going to have that. We are going to have this dictator's midnight land grab act which says, "Where a proponent requires land which, in the opinion of the proponent" – not anybody else – "is necessary for the Muskrat Falls Project, the proponent may negotiate with the landowner for that land" – may negotiate; does not have to negotiate, but may negotiate with the landowner.

Where "…an agreement is reached, it is valid and binding on the parties; or" – if they bother to negotiate – "(b) an agreement cannot be reached, the proponent may apply to the expropriating authority in accordance with the expropriation protocol to expropriate the land." Bang, so that is Emera. I do not understand what the Premier was reading, or if she did read it, when she said that Emera cannot expropriate the land. Clearly, within the first eleven pages of this bill, which is thirty pages long, it says that Emera can expropriate the land.

If Emera can expropriate the land, on what basis will Emera expropriate this land? Well, if they think they need it, they just mention it to the expropriating authority, whatever that is. Oh, the expropriating authority is what we are going to establish by this bill. This bill will establish the expropriating authority. This is the mechanism that is being set up to permit a bunch of people to be able to expropriate people's land in this Province for the Muskrat Falls Project.

This land runs from Muskrat Falls, way up in Labrador, right down here to Soldiers Pond, and all the way along in the middle. If anybody thinks this is not a land grab, then I do not understand why they would say that. We are doing it at midnight; we are passing the act at midnight. This bill is going to get rammed through here. It was initially read last night or the night before. The nights are all starting to run together now. This is the dictator's midnight land grab.

What does not apply? Mr. Chair, what does not apply to this act? Let us see. The Public Utilities Acquisition of Lands Act does not apply to an expropriation under this part. We have a perfectly good act, a perfectly good statute of this Province, which provides for a public utility to acquire land and it does not apply. Why would it not apply?

The only imaginable reason that it would not apply is because we need to create special laws so we can roller-coaster this Muskrat Falls development through the Province. So get rid of the Public Utilities Acquisition of Lands Act. That act has been around for decades in this Province, Mr. Chair, and it has been perfectly acceptable up until now. It has been perfectly acceptable for Nalcor up to now. Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has always been content with this, the telephone companies have always been content with this, and I suppose Newfoundland Light and Power must have always been content with this or someone would have dreamt up another act.

I am only just getting started, Mr. Chair, but I see my first ten minutes have gone. I will allow somebody else to speak.

Thank you, Sir.

CHAIR (Verge): Order, please!

I recognize the hon. the Member for St. John's Centre.

MS ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I am very happy to stand again to speak to this Bill 60, Muskrat Falls Project Land Use and Expropriation Act. I may perhaps bring a little bit of a different perspective to this. One of the things is that when we look at this magnificent Province we live in, Newfoundland and Labrador, the amazing landscape, and the movement and the flow of the land, and what this will mean to us; seeing the 1,100 kilometres of transmission lines basically bifurcating the Island, coming down through Labrador, what this might mean, and what it might look like on our topography.

Of course, what we have to do is we have to use our imaginations. We have to use our imaginations to try and see what that is going to look like. It is not a pretty sight. There is a lot about development that is really good, and then there are some negative aspects of development that are not exactly what we would want. Sometimes that is the bycatch of development; sometimes that is the consequence of development. What we have to do is look at ways to mitigate that. Sometimes it is just the way it is and that is all there is to it. I do encourage us all to use our imaginations to picture the 1,100 kilometres of sixty-metre-wide ribbon of transmission lines that will go through our Province. We do have to imagine what that might be like.

It has been very interesting here this evening to listen to my colleagues speak on this issue. The wonderful thing about this House of Assembly is that we are made up of a lot of different people with different skill sets, different expertise, and different life experiences. I come to this House of Assembly and have been elected by the people of St. John's Centre. I bring a different skill set, and perhaps one that is not so common here in this House of Assembly in that I come from an arts background. For thirty years I have been a documentary filmmaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MS ROGERS: Thank you.

AN HON. MEMBER: What a filmmaker! You have done good work.

MS ROGERS: Thank you.

Mr. Chair, one of our colleagues across the floor there has said that I have done good work. I have been lucky as a filmmaker. Over the thirty years I have made over thirty films and I have won over fifty international awards. My films have been screened on televisions and in theatres all over the world. A number of the awards I have won have been quite prestigious awards. In Canada I did win two Geminis for some of my work, and gold at Hot Docs. That only happened, Mr. Chair, because of the wonderful teams I worked with.

One of the processes of making films, and I have been a documentary filmmaker, is about telling a story. It is about pulling together a number of elements, different people's voices and different people's stories, and then pulling them together to try to make one coherent plan and one coherent story. In the process of making a film, I start with an idea and then go out with a crew. I interview people. I follow people. I never think I am the expert, but that in fact my role is to try to listen, and my role is to try to find a new way of telling a story. My role is trying to put together something so it is coherent, that it is a piece, that it solves a problem.

One aspect, of course, is you go out and get the material, and then you bring it back. Then you sit in an editing room and you start putting the pieces together and trying to figure out how to put it together. At some point you think: This is it. I have done a good job. This is the film. This is a story and this is how to tell it. I have used all the different elements, have listened to the people I have filmed, and I think I know the answer. This is the way it is going to be. There are lots of late nights. There are lots of hours. There is lots of working with other people.

Then there is one step. Even though I might think I have it together, that I have the perfect answer, that this is the film that was going to touch people's hearts, that is going to move people, this is a film that is going to tell a clear, coherent story, I step back and then we show the film to a test audience, and it does not work. It means going back to the drawing board.

Sometimes it means it just needs a little bit of a tweak. Sometimes it means we have to take it all apart and put it back together again in order to come up with that one coherent story. The story is about solving a problem. The story is about trying to get it right. That takes time, and it also takes a certain amount of humility.

It means that when I thought I got it right, or the team I worked with when we thought we got it right, in fact, we did not quite get it right. It means standing back and looking at it with a different set of eyes. Sometimes in that process you can see the solution; that the solution was perhaps there but there was a different way of putting it together.

That specific step in the filmmaking process, Mr. Chair, is so very important to getting it right. It means listening to what other people have to say about the plan I came up with. They may not have the solution. The people who have seen the rough draft of the film may not have the solution, but they let me know there are problems. Then my role is to try to figure out: Okay, there are problems and it is not fitting right, how do I come to a solution that makes sense? It means not being able to rush it through. It means being able to bring other eyes to the situation. It means being able to bring other sensibilities to the situation.

Mr. Chair, here we are at 1:12 in the morning, we are looking at very complex legislation and we have not had that opportunity to bring a new set of eyes to the legislation. We have not had that opportunity to test drive the legislation, to look at what can be done differently. What are the missing pieces? What makes the story the right story? What makes it work? What are the elements that might be missing, or what are the elements that do not fit?

I know being in the House here with my colleagues who are lawyers, they look at this piece of legislation in a certain way. They bring their expertise to it, but I think the analogy is quite interesting. To be able to step back, to not rush something through, but to be able to step back and say: Did we get this right? Are all the elements there? Are there elements that are not there? Is there a different way of putting this together? Is there a different way of telling the story? Is there is a different way of coming up with the solutions?

Mr. Chair, it is about sometimes retrying. It is about sometimes pulling elements out. When putting together a film, sometimes I have to pull out elements in the film that I thought for sure would be the heart of the film. It is only after taking the time, stepping back and consulting with other people that you realize this is not the way to go. There is another way to go.

Mr. Chair, I had anticipated that this is what we would be able to do with the whole Muskrat Falls Project, all of use together, to bring our expertise to it. To bring it to a test audience, to hear and to listen from other experts, where all of us could hear, what were the parts that worked? What were the parts that did not work? How do we test drive this? How do we bring our imaginations to the problem that we have before us, in terms of the energy needs of the Province?

I would like to thank my colleagues this evening and over the past sixty, seventy hours for the expertise they have brought to this project, but I am hoping we will have more time to truly examine this.

Thank you.

CHAIR: I recognize the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

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

I stand to speak to Bill 60. I left off on page 10, or Part II of the act, Expropriation. What I want to do is quickly transition over to the briefing notes that we received from the department in the briefing that we had on Tuesday morning.

I guess one would say: Why are we creating a brand new act to deal with this? The reason at the time is that we are dealing with the acquisition of both Crown land and non-Crown Land. The explanation behind it was that current provincial laws are not sufficient because they were constructed to deal primarily with local land issues and not something of this magnitude or this scale. In terms of sheer size, more or less the area is 1,100 kilometres of expropriation, but it is going all over Labrador and the Island of Newfoundland. It is a wide-ranging expropriation that is going to take place.

One of the things mentioned here is that this is standalone legislation. This piece of legislation, it is presumed after this project, is never going to be used again. It is only created just for this one purpose. After this it will have lost any significance or use down the road.

Instead of changing pre-existing legislation to make it be able to handle something of this nature, they said look, we will create a standalone piece of legislation. We will deal with this one issue. The fact is the land is going to be expropriated within the next number of months or we will say years. Then after that, it is done, it is over with. We have not had to change the pre-existing pieces of legislation back again because some of this might not be relevant after. That is one of the reasons why this is happening.

The question on the briefing notes is: Why new legislation? Again, it is the same thing. The project lenders require certainty that interest in lands with the project will be available and can be pledged as security. It is no different than when you go to get a mortgage from a bank. You have to have good title to the land that you want to get a mortgage for.

In this case, before the lenders are willing to lend the money they need to have certainty that this land belongs to them and they are going to be able to get it, and they can change the law to make sure that they get it. They are saying the bill is necessary in order to present the strongest case when financial markets are approached in early 2013.

That brings me to a point that I think needs to be brought up. That is the fact that we are in here the week before Christmas. It is December 21. Days are blurring in together. We are here four days now before Christmas debating this legislation, which government has said to us is necessary to have done now.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

MR. A. PARSONS: I hear one of the members across getting kind of riled up with what I have to say. He is not going to stop me from continuing. I am going to continue. He is not going to stop me from speaking. Mr. Chair, I know they do not like what I have to say, but I am going to put it out there.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. A. PARSONS: Some protection, Mr. Chair.

The fact is I know there is a disagreement as to the timing of this. I think we could have accomplished the same goals, but do it differently so one of the main concerns we have expressed would have been answered and we really could not have been able to use that as an argument. That argument is the timing of the legislation being dropped, we will say, and then the amount of time we had to review.

I understand the financing, going to the banks, is going to happen in early 2013, but the fact is it is not going to happen this week. It is not happening on December 25 and it is not happening on December 26. All they are saying is early 2013. That is why I think we are sitting here in this House hour after hour and we are debating this legislation, which we managed to read as much as we can, scan through it as much as we can, and prepare as many notes as we can.

I think if we had opened this House in early 2013, we could have had that opportunity to review the legislation. We certainly could not have put forward the argument then that, oh well, we have not had time. The government would be quite right to say: Look, you had plenty of time over that period to look at the legislation and do that work.

That was part of our argument. There is no reason this House could not open up in early January and come in. We would have had time to do the adequate and proper review, argue it out, and who knows, we could have filibustered then, too. At the end of the day, government is going to get it. One of the ministers said at one point Opposition has their say and then government gets their way. There is no reason to think this would not have been a part of that as well.

Government is going to get what they want. It is our job to put it on the record. One of our main arguments in my mind would have been diffused, one of our main arguments and an argument that I think will stand. What I would say is it is too late to change that now, I guess. We are here; we are going to continue. We have to get this through; we are going to continue. We know why this is being done and why they are trying to move the project forward.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is clause 1 ready?

MR. A. PARSONS: No, certainly clause 1 is not ready to carry yet, I guarantee you.

I just want to put that on the record and I am going to go back to the expropriation. I think I left off in 12(3), which is the expropriation protocol. The first thing that happens here as we move forward in this section is: "The Lieutenant-Governor in Council shall designate a minister of the Crown as the expropriating authority…" So really Cabinet will be in charge of the expropriation portion of this and they will appoint a minister. Again, I would make the assumption that it will be the Minister of Natural Resources since this is his bill and that he will be the minister. Maybe it is the Minister of Environment.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. A. PARSONS: Oh, it is the Minister of Environment. It makes sense because we are dealing with Crown lands and we are dealing with that. I think there could not have been a better minister picked to do this, I say, so good on the minister.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. PARSONS: It is not a certainty that the expropriation protocol will be put in place, but if I were a betting man I would say it will be. At some point somebody will have an issue with the expropriation. That is almost a certainty. When they do so, the Minister of Environment will be picked by the Lieutenant- Governor in Council to serve as the expropriating authority.

The first thing we notice is the expropriation can be made where "(a) an agreement cannot first be reached on the amount to be paid for the land or on other terms of the purchase…; (b) the landowner, after reasonable inquiry, is not known or cannot be found…; (c) the landowner is incapable of conveying the land…; or (d) for another reason that the expropriating authority considers it advisable to expropriate the land."

There are a lot of different areas there. The primary one I would imagine is that there is going to be a disagreement on the monetary compensation. If I have a piece of land, I might have a different feeling on what that land is valued at. I know when it comes to homes there is a more easily quantitated amount because it is going to be replacement value.

AN HON. MEMBER: Market value.

MR. A. PARSONS: Market value.

Again, that is good. There might be some disagreement as to market value, but it is fairly easy to come up with those amounts by using different real estate agencies. If we get to a point where there is a bit of contention, I think it is going to be more economical for government to err on the side of getting this done as opposed to nickel-and-diming because –

MR. HEDDERSON: (Inaudible).

MR. A. PARSONS: The Minister of Environment is saying one of the issues is the quieting of titles. That is the thing. There is a lot of land out there. I dealt with this a lot when I was practising. You get a lot of land, especially in rural areas, where ownership is disputed. It is hard to find good title to the land. It is hard to figure out who owns it.

I will use for example the Codroy Valley. The Codroy Valley is an area that a lot of the land was dealt with a Crown grant back in the 1800s. It was done to one family. Over a period of time that land was then passed down through the family, but there was not the proper documentation you see now. It was basically the individual would give it to however many sons and those sons would take it and go from there. A lot of times you do not have that good chain of title you need. There are breaks in the chain of title that could be an issue.

Actually, my time is done, but I will come back to that because that is a good area. I am sure if I say anything that is not correct the minister will stand and correct me because that is what the purpose of this is.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: I recognize the hon. the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity once again to speak to the Muskrat Falls Project Land Use and Expropriation Act, Bill 60.

I want to agree with the Member for St. Barbe. I probably should use his title for the bill because there are significant restrictions when it comes to the role of municipalities and individuals who are going to be experiencing loss with the passage of this bill. We have to look at the great length of what this corridor is going to mean overall. If there are going to be negative implications, is there a way to find a balance so we can look at the resource being taken to see if we can create a balance here?

I am looking at overall what is planned. The Member for St. Barbe had talked about it a little bit. We are looking at, with all of the access roads and everything like that, about seventy-seven square kilometres. To put that in context, that is bigger than the island of Manhattan, fifty-nine kilometres square. It is about fifty Olympic-sized hockey stadiums. It is not a small amount.

We look at in many cases there is going to have to be land cleared. There is going to have to be cutting of forest and timber products. In that case where we are going across Labrador and we are going across the Island portion of the Province, there should be consideration where local contractors and those who have commercial timber rights in an industry such as the forest industry, which is in quite a crisis, would have priority rights to be able to go in and have access to that timber there if it is within their respective district and to be able utilize it to get the greatest value for our overall economy. In part, that might be a means to help other sectors of the economy.

I want to talk a little bit about this bill in relation to the environmental impact statement. The environmental impact statement, which is outlining the sixty-metre-wide road that will be used and the transmission line and how long it would be, and considering all the environmental impacts, is not yet completed.

We do not know what the overall route is right now. We do not know what impact it may have to certain environmental features, different wetlands, different rare plants and species, access to different trails, and different things like that. It is not completed.

No member in this House knows the adverse impacts of what is going to come out of the environmental impact statement. Without that complete and seeing where it is, it makes me wonder about the actual physical location of the transmission line and what it is going to mean to people.

If we look at the West Coast, going all the way up the Northern Peninsula there, you have the International Appalachian Trail that is going to be a big part. The Member for St. Barbe talked about outfitting and talked about people who are coming to see our natural, pristine environment. That is one of our greatest marketing pieces. There is a lot of natural wilderness that is quite pristine.

If you put up transmission towers that are quite tall and can obstruct views, and expropriate lands that would have traditional waterways and different access points, then that could be an impact. Who is going to be overseeing that to greatly ensure that from the environmental impact statement and when it actually gets to the cutting stage of trees and putting in the line that there are not some things that are going to be adversely impacted?

We have already seen some opposition to looking at access roads to the Muskrat Falls Project, with NunatuKavut where Nalcor had sought an injunction to prevent people from interfering with the development of Muskrat Falls. Even elders were arrested in these scenarios. These people have traditionally used land where this river is. I am just wondering about the whole access points. That will have an impact because we are talking a serious piece of land overall.

Going back to aspects of where we are headed in tourism and marketing with geotourism and looking at that, people want that untouched beauty. They want that natural space. I see in many cases there could be areas where in my district the passage of the transmission cables will take away from the natural landscapes and the beauty of The Straits region and on down the Northern Peninsula. That is one piece I see.

I want to get back to the bill as I was talking about with the proponents and the rights and the authorities of them, a proponent which requires land. It seems like they can require it at any type of means. A proponent can be Muskrat Falls Company that is yet to be set up, a proponent, or a subsidiary. It could be Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. It could be Emera, as to my interpretation of what the bill has stated.

The language of this bill is written so lightly that is says may negotiate with a landowner for the land and where an agreement is reached, rather than shall negotiate to put this forward. It seems like if somebody has ownership of something, in a democracy you would go through a negotiation process. You should not have that option of just maybe you will negotiate with people. That infringes on people's rights.

Earlier in a previous bill there was a ruling. The Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair wanted to put in that there "shall" be economic development benefits for Labrador in a previous bill. I believe it was Bill 53. It was ruled out of order that "should" would stand. So, there is no guarantee those benefits would be there.

In this case, this is very, very questionable when you look at a proponent. When we go back and we look at the definition of the proponent on page 5, it means, "…Muskrat Falls Project includes, whether individually or in combination of them, (i) the corporation established in the Energy Corporation Act, including all affiliates, subsidiaries, successors and assigns of the corporation, and (ii) Emera Inc., including all affiliates, subsidiaries, successors and assigns of that corporation".

It certainly seems like there is an ability to give away or to lose a significant amount of control. I believe the Member for St. Barbe had made a number of good points on this piece about this. You do not look immediately at what is happening, but you look at the aspect of if there are company changes or a company starts up. Any component in saying that they need land in relation to Muskrat Falls, this project, has the ability to basically look at expropriating land without – because it says may.

My interpretation of that is that they do not have to thoroughly consult. If you do not have to thoroughly consult, then that seems very dictatorial. It seems like you just go in and say we need this land, without actual just cause.

Will it comply with what the environmental impact statement which can have environmental, economic, and socioeconomic impacts to communities, to regions, and to the Province for the long term, without having to go through an appropriate channel to say is this where we want to go, is there an alternative of moving this or whatnot. There has to be some oversight to ensure that land just is not being expropriated with just cause. It should be negotiated. It must be negotiated. It should not just may be negotiated. It shall be negotiated, Mr. Chair.

I see my time has expired.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Chair, in the case of any statute, the best place to start is in the Definitions because statutes tend to come with their own words, with their meanings. If the act says it means something, then that is what it means, regardless of what the dictionary says; or a different act could say something different.

We are dealing with, first of all, in the Definitions: arbitration panel. The arbitration panel is an arbitration panel not under the Expropriations Act, not under the Arbitrations Act, but it is an arbitration panel as found under section 24 of this act. Section 24 of this act says, "The Lieutenant-Governor in Council" – when I read that people just hear government – "shall" – it is not permissive, it is mandatory – "in the manner prescribed in the expropriation protocol" – so that means according to their own definition – "appoint an arbitration panel to determine compensation for or related to an expropriation under this Part."

To continue on, what are the powers of this arbitration panel? That comes under section 25. "The arbitration panel may, in addition to assessing the value of land expropriated, determine all questions of law and…" all questions of fact.

They determine what the law is. They determine what the facts are according to any particular expropriation they are dealing with. That is for the purpose of fixing "…the amount of compensation to be paid in respect of the land that was expropriated or detrimentally affected by the expropriation".

Mr. Chair, detrimental expropriation, detrimental affect or an adverse effect, means just because they take a strip of land sixty metres wide and 1,100 kilometres long, that does not mean it is the only land affected. There may be all kinds of land running along that corridor which is also affected.

Mr. Chair, in the expropriation law, if an expropriating authority expropriates a parcel of land that leaves another parcel of land landlocked or inaccessible, than that also is deemed to be worth zero. The owner of that land is supposed to be compensated on whatever the base of the arbitration is, simply because they cannot access their land. There is no point in having land if you cannot reach it in any way except for a helicopter, unless maybe you own your own island.

The arbitration panel will "determine the persons to whom compensation should be paid and the amount which should be paid to each of them." They decide where the land is, how much to pay for it, what the law is, what the facts are, and this is who they pay. Mr. Chair, this is an enormous amount of power to be accorded to a particular panel, and for what purpose? For the purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project.

25.(2) says, "The arbitration panel may state an award for compensation as to the whole or part of the compensation in the form of a special case for the opinion of a judge of the Trial Division." Mr. Chair, a judge of the Trial Division means the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. That means if they want an opinion from a judge – and that does not mean they are going to phone up and say: hey judge, what do you think of this? What that means is an application to court, properly stated, done at the ordinary expense and filings, and then a judge would make a determination.

Mr. Chair, what that means is this automatically gives them the authority and the power, and they will have the means to resort to the courts. Not that there is anything wrong with this, however if you think of the landowner on the other side, it may be a person who is not very well off and really cannot afford the cost of legal proceedings. They could be crushed by the legal proceedings if they decide to fight back. There is just no point because they may have to expend thousands and thousands of dollars to push back and it simply would not be worth it to them.

Continuing on in the powers of this arbitration panel; "The arbitration panel may at any stage of its proceedings and shall where directed by a judge of the court state in the form of a special case for the opinion of the court a question of law arising in the course of the proceedings."

If they have not determined what the law is, a judge may say: Tell me what you want me to rule on, put it in a special case, run it past me in court any time over the next six months, a year, a couple of years, or three or four years – because we know court proceedings can take a long time – and at that point the court will give you a determination. The court will tell you what it is supposed to be at the end of this process.

It also says in the pretence of providing equal rights, that a party – and a party could be someone who is adversely affected, or it may be someone who actually owns the land, or someone whose family owns the land, or someone whose family used to own the land, or had a right to use the land, or to cross the land. "A party may apply to a judge of the court for an order directing that a question of law arising in the course of proceedings before the arbitration panel shall be stated in the form of a special case."

In this case, a party or an individual is entitled to go to court and ask for determination. This could be a municipality. It could be a small municipality. It could be literally cut in half by this line that slices all the way across the Province. That is the authority, the definition, and the power of an arbitration panel pursuant to this statute.

Continuing on in the definitions; "‘expropriation protocol' means the manner of conducting expropriations under this Act as prescribed by the regulations". Mr. Chair, regulations are wonderful things because when you pass a bill and it becomes a statute, then if you have a section for regulations, the regulations are what the bureaucrats then use in order to be able to carry out the functions of the act.

The reason they are not defined up front is because it means we do not know what we are going to do. We do not know what we are going to need to do. We do not know how complex this will be. So put it in regulations, please. You cannot put it in regulations in the House of Assembly because we do not know what that will be. Just give us the authority to create regulations and we will basically make it up as we go along. This is not uncommon, this is very common.

If the government was going to use the Expropriations Act, the regulations are already in place. The regulations are already published. The regulations are already well known. People would know where they stand, but there is no way of determining today what the regulations will say because the regulations have not been written yet; or, if they have been written, they have not been provided. They may well have been written and in draft form sitting someplace.

Mr. Chair, to continue on, the word holder keeps coming up. The word holder under this bill means "…a proponent of the Muskrat Falls Project or any subsequent person who has an interest in both a transmission corridor and the transmission assets associated with it".

Now, Mr. Chair, that does not necessarily mean someone says: Oh, I think I am interested in that line. Isn't that a lovely line? Someone who has an interest in it, it means somebody who has a monetary interest, a fiduciary interest, or a legal interest in dealing with this land. This would be a holder.

If it is a subsequent person, this means that if anything should happen to this development, it means if this development crashes before it is over, if it crashes because it hits 80 per cent or 90 per cent overruns, $10 billion, $11 billion or $12 billion, which would be comparable to the Manitoba Hydro Wuskwatim project. If it is on that same ratio and if we decide we cannot continue the project, then because the project is set up with the financing being non-recourse, Nalcor can simply walk away from it.

The federal guarantee will kick in. The federal government would look for another operator. They would be entitled to recover the property because that is what a guarantor is entitled to. If you guarantee a debt and there is an asset attached, you have to make good on it. Because the proponent could not handle the overhead, then you the guarantor step into the shoes of the proponent. You take it over.

Well, what do you do with it then? Maybe you operate it yourself, and maybe you do not operate it yourself. Maybe you hire someone to operate it for you. Maybe you lease it out to somebody else. Who would that somebody else be? The person or the entity with the most experience in hydroelectric development in Eastern Canada is Hydro-Quebec.

When you read someone who is a holder, it means a "subsequent person who has an interest in both a transmission corridor.…" A subsequent person in this instance could very well be, within the next decade, Hydro-Quebec.

Mr. Chair, just imagine what a disaster that would be for this Province if after all the torture we have been put through with Hydro-Quebec over the last fifty years, they ended up with Muskrat Falls, and they were the ones who got the transmission line.

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I have no further comments at this point.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Member for St. John's Centre.

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

I am happy to rise again to speak to Bill 60, An Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project. The last time I stood up and spoke, I spoke a little bit about using our imaginations. My job as a filmmaker was to try to find a different component to put together a picture to tell a story.

I would like to focus in on what the story of the transmission line might look like. Mr. Chair, we all know that the Muskrat Falls Project has been sanctioned. Perhaps one of the things that many of us have not done, although we have been talking about Muskrat Falls for – certainly some of my colleagues here in the House have been talking about Muskrat Falls for years. Particularly in the past few months now, it has become the focus of this House in many ways.

What I would like to do is just talk a little bit about that transmission line. We know that it is 1,100 kilometres long, sixty-metres wide, making up for sixty-six square kilometres of land. When you think of Newfoundland and Labrador, sixty-six square kilometres of land is not a lot of land, really, when you think of it, in the great vast spaces of Newfoundland and Labrador – not a whole lot of land.

When you stretch out this transmission line – now I imagine that the transmission line will have huge towers, and then cables on it. That transmission line is going to extend from Labrador, through Labrador, onto the Island, down the Great Northern Peninsula. My mother was from the Great Northern Peninsula, how much she loved that. How many of us have travelled Labrador and travelled right down through the Island, over bogs and barrens and blueberry fields, the skylines are beautiful. We have all done that – probably most of us have done that.

This evening, we could just close our eyes and imagine that incredible beauty, the incredible skylines, the rolling of the hills, the boglands, and the barrens. Imagine the beautiful barrens that are all over our Province in different parts of the Province. Then there is the tuckamores, and then there are the mountain ranges and the hills.

I would like us to look at exactly where this transmission line might go and to just imagine it now. I would like all of us to imagine what that transmission line might look like as it crosses Labrador and as it crosses the Island. Let's imagine, because we have all done this, so we can imagine what our Province looks like. Now, let's imagine it. Let's imagine it with a huge transmission line as you are driving the highway and the roads, as you are driving along, where that might be.

Some of the areas – what I have here now is the socioeconomic environment report, the final report of the EIS, the Environmental Impact Statement. I have this here in my hand. There is a summary and a conclusion about the Labrador-Island Transmission Link. I would just want to read to you a little bit of where that transmission link is actually going to be going, what kinds of land, what kinds of activities might be impacted by it – and these are places where lands will have to be expropriated.

Nalcor Energy is proposing to develop the Labrador-Island Transmission Link, a High Voltage Direct Current transmission system extending from Central Labrador to the Island of Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula.

That basically covers the whole Province, doesn't it? I mean, when you think of that ribbon of transmission line going right through the Province. Again, the Province we have all seen so much of it. We have driven it. We may have flown it. We have been in boats. We may have hiked. We all know what that looks like. Now we are going to imagine what that looks like with huge transmission towers and lines going right through it, crossing our barrens, crossing our waterways.

Once we do this, Mr. Chair, there is no turning back. Is this the right way to do it? I want us all to imagine those transmission towers, those transmission lines, right through the whole Province. Imagine how different your drive is going to be, because they are going to be really high and you are going to be able to see them for kilometres.

MR. HEDDERSON: Where are you going to put them?

MS ROGERS: Mr. Chair, the hon. Minister of Environment is asking me: Where are we going to put them? That is right; where are we going to put them? Maybe it is not the right approach. Maybe it is not, I do not know. I would like us to just imagine what this is going to be like.

The transmission corridor – these are the general socioeconomic regions and communities which will be crossed by or adjacent to the proposed transmission corridor, as well as land and resource use, and other tourism and recreational activities in these general areas.

These transmission towers and lines, just imagine them, are going to be crossing general areas including commercial, recreational and subsistence pursuits. It is going to go by communities. These transmission lines are going to go close to communities, transportation routes, hunting and trapping areas, angling and other fishing, motorized recreational vehicles will be impacted, cabins and cottage development areas, other outdoor recreational activities.

Mr. Chair, it is kind of interesting that some of my hon. colleagues across are making a little bit fun of this. Once those huge towers and transmission lines, which will bifurcate our whole Province, once they are up there is no turning back. Our landscape will be unalterably changed. That is it; there will be no turning back. When you drive up the Great Northern Peninsula, you will be faced with them. When you drive the Avalon, you will be faced with them. When you drive through the Central Island, you will be faced with them. You will see them and there is no turning back. It is going to go through parks, reserves, and other protected areas and special areas. It is going to affect forestry areas, mining and energy areas, agricultural areas, and other harvesting-activity areas.

It is going to go through a number of socio-economic regions in Newfoundland and Labrador, which have been identified as Central and Southeastern Labrador, the Northern Peninsula, Central and Eastern Newfoundland, and the Avalon Peninsula. That is basically most of the Province. Many of these areas are rural areas with economies that are traditionally based on natural resource industries and, more currently, tourism. They will be there. You can close your eyes to them, but once you open your eyes they are still going to be there, those great big towers and the swath of land that is cleared around them. You can close your eyes to it if you want, but once you open your eyes it is still going to be there.

The corridor also overlaps with regions of economic development zones where communities and populations are more heavily concentrated. What kinds of communities and what is it going to cut through? Mr. Chair, I am going to finish this story the next time I get up. I only have a few seconds left. I want to stress that. We all know that. None of us are naive. We all know that once those towers are up, that is it. Those towers will dominate our landscape. There is no turning back. There is no possibility of taking them down. There is no possibility of changing that technology. This will be one of the bycatches of Muskrat Falls.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: I recognize the man with the beard.

I recognize the hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

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

It is a pleasure to stand here and speak to this legislation again. Who knows, by the time I get out of this racket I am probably going to have a nice playoff beard going by that point. That remains to be seen at this point.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. A. PARSONS: I hear the members opposite still going at me. They still cannot handle the truth over there; they still cannot handle the truth, I tell you. I cannot sit down because if I do the Member for Bay of Islands at some point is going to get back up again and he is really going to have his say.

Mr. Chair, it is a pleasure to speak to this piece of legislation. In these times, when you have been going at this for a number of hours, you can get a bit punchy. I apologize because this is a serious matter, but we have been at this for a number of hours. The night grows long and with that things can get a bit light.

I come back to the part where we talk about expropriation. I have had conversations with some of the members opposite, whether it is the Member for Cape St. Francis or the Minister of Environment. We have talked about expropriation; both have had experience dealing with that. I have outlined my concerns to them and they have told me about their experiences dealing with it.

One of the things it comes down to, the Crown land is not apparently an issue, but it is in cases where you have issues with title or finding ownership to land. Going through that title process, and especially going through in some cases where you are trying to get that declaration of ownership and the quieting of titles that might have to be done, can be the part that takes time.

From what I understand about this legislation, this could be seen as good or it could be seen as bad depending on where you sit. I will get into the section here very shortly. Basically, this allows the government – and I say government because it is Nalcor, subsidiaries of government, and it is all interchangeable really. What it does is allow them to come in, take the land, and avoid that delay process. This has all been about having things done in an expedient manner. What it is a case of is take it and then sort it out after, whether that is compensation, ownership, or whatever. There is a timed process where the government, once it identifies the land, can make that move forward.

I move on to page 11 of this proposed bill. I am going to get to an interesting section here. It references the Public Utilities Acquisition of Lands Act, which does not apply, and the Expropriation Act, which does not apply. Those are two pieces of pre-existing legislation that had expropriation powers that are not being used here and the reason being –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. PARSONS: Again, I hear the members opposite. There is one particular member and he certainly has a lot to say. I will sic the Member for the Bay of Islands on him at some point.

What I would say is that this is a stand-alone piece. These other two pieces with the same powers do not apply.

Mr. Chair, this is something I have discussed earlier and I think I am going to spend some time on this. I am certainly going to spend the rest of the time I have here in this particular ten-minute slot talking about it, and that is subsection (9). What it says here is, "Notwithstanding another provision of this Part, where a family home is to be expropriated for the purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project, the Family Homes Expropriation Act shall apply to that expropriation and compensation shall be determined in accordance with that Act."

What it is says here is that there are certain pieces of property, Crown Land is one thing, but there are certain pieces where you actually have a family home that can and will be expropriated for the purpose of laying down the transmission line. The first part is interesting enough in that I guess there was no way to avoid going through somebody's land where there is family home. It sounds amazing that we are going to be acquiring land, razing, and just completely demolishing pre-existing homes. I am really hoping that is going to be a rare occasion, but if that is the case, then what this act says is, look, you need to go directly, specifically to the Family Homes Expropriation Act.

What I did in my research is I went to the Family Homes Expropriation Act. That is a fairly short piece of legislation and can be found on the government Web site under the House of Assembly. This act is called the Family Homes Expropriation Act, but it is actually An Act to Provide for the Payment of Fair Compensation to the Owners of Family Homes Expropriated. There are just a couple of relevant sections here, and I think I will just go through them because there is not much to it, Mr. Chair.

Section 3 is family home. What it says here is, "For the purpose of this Act a family home shall be a house which is and has for a reasonable time been the home of a family unit together with land immediately appurtenant to the house not exceeding 6,000 square meters and all immediately appurtenant outbuildings." Subsection (2) says, "The nature of a family unit is defined or indicated in the Schedule."

You can come back to the Schedule and it lays out what is a family unit. We talk about parents, grandparents, and children living together, brothers or sisters. It lays it out. It is not just what you would define as your nuclear family. It allows a number of different combinations, which reflects the fact that family units can be comprised in any number of ways and in any numbers of different family members, whether it is mothers and fathers, children, grandparents, or friends. It covers off a whole wide range of what can be deemed a family or a family unit.

Going back to section 4, we talk about compensation payable. It says here, where "…an expropriation to which this Act applies and notwithstanding a rule or provision for the assessment of values set out in the Act… the principle of assessment shall be that the owner of the family home shall receive an amount in compensation that will at current costs and prices put him or her in a position to acquire by purchase or construction a home reasonably equivalent to that which is being expropriated."

What I am hoping here is that the minister is going to be fair when he deals with people in this regard and that there is not going to be any nickel-and-diming or quibbling over this.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Chair, if I could have some protection here, I would certainly appreciate it from the member. The member has been really giving me a hard time. If you have to name names at this point I would have no issue with that either.

Mr. Chair, what I am hoping, and I think right now the number I have is five homes. It says here, "at current costs and prices…" The fact is, you might have a family home that is an older home but we have to look at, what will it cost to build that home in today's dollars and today's costs to build that, to get a reasonably equivalent home? That is by purchase or construction.

We are not going to force them to go and buy another pre-existing home. They do have the option to construct a home. That could be quite a sizable cost given the fact, number one; you have to buy a plot of land. We all know what building lots cost these days, especially in the Avalon. Building lots have skyrocketed in prices especially with the boom that is going on. The building lot is one thing. The second part is if they have to construct a reasonably equivalent home then that could be quite a significant fee.

At some point I am hoping the minister – it is probably the Minister of Finance or Natural Resources who can tell me: What was budgeted to take care of this entire process? There had to have been a budget estimate. I know it might be difficult, and the figure might be out there.

I am hoping they will tell me at some point: Look, we estimate that there are X number of family homes, X numbers of homes or land. Therefore, using certain factors, what will that cost be? How much is it going to cost in total? Hopefully, it comes in as less than that, but there has to be a budget to that. That will be interesting, because we are all here as ratepayers and people out in the Province or people watching, we are paying the cost of that. So it would be nice to know what that particular budget is.

I do not know if that forms part of the budget of the entire $8 billion-ish that this project is going to cost. I guess that is factored or –

AN HON. MEMBER: It would be under that.

MR. A. PARSONS: It would be under that particular budget.

My time has run out again, and I will return to this section when I have an opportunity.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR (Pollard): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Yes, Mr. Chair.

I am going to continue on with the definitions, there are only a few pages of definitions. Of course, if we were to use the Expropriations Act instead of this new act, then we would already have a perfectly good piece of legislation, if we could have used it. We have used it for many, many years. We also have another act that deals with land required for utilities, but we are not going to do that. We are going to create a whole new act simply for this project, which I think is unnecessary and inappropriate.

If you look at the definition of land, Mr. Chair, a lot of people are going to think land, well that means you are going to look at the land. Land does not mean land in this act. It means land, and it means a whole lot of other things besides land.

"‘land' means real property of every kind, and includes tenements, hereditaments, and appurtenances, leaseholds, and an estate, term, easement, statutory easement, right or interest in, to, over, under, or affecting land, including rights-of-way, and waters, water rights, water powers and water privileges".

All of that means land. When you read land in this act, this means water rights, it means water privileges, and it means leaseholds. Anything that is deemed to be land along these lines for the purpose of this act is going to be land.

When we get to a landowner, you would think that a landowner would mean a person or maybe a corporation. Well, for the purpose of this act or this bill – it will become an act after the government passes it. A "‘landowner' includes, a person" – that is pretty straightforward – "the Crown" – the Crown is a landowner – "or a department of the Crown, a Crown corporation or a Crown agent".

This Legislature is expected to pass Bill 60 to expropriate land from the Crown, or a Crown corporation or a Crown agent. That seems to me to be completely inconsistent with the Crown supremacy, the authority of the Crown. If the Crown is going to be sponsoring the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project, the Crown should not need to be affected by this. The Crown can simply sign off on it, sign off on the survey and it is done. Why would we even need to consider that?

The Natural Resources Minister a few hours ago was talking about applications for judicial review. I was listening to him intently because the last time him and I had a discussion over judicial review, I was cross-examining him on his affidavit in support of the application for judicial review of the moving of St. Anthony air ambulance. The Minister of Natural Resources and I are both acquainted with applications for judicial review.

A "‘minister' means the minister or ministers appointed under the Executive Council Act to administer this Act or a Part or Parts of this Act". A minister in this case only means a minister appointed for the act. It does not mean a regular minister. It means a minister "…appointed under the Executive Council Act to administer this Act or a Part or Parts of this Act". This looks like it is only the ministers who are necessary for Muskrat Falls that are going to be called ministers.

A "‘municipality' means a municipality as defined in the Urban and Rural Planning Act, 2000". We will get to that because this bill as proposed extinguishes certain municipality rights in the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. BENNETT: It is really comforting to know that we have such talent in the House of Assembly, Mr. Chair. I have to stop and say the Member for Mount Pearl North is singing like a castrato. Of course, those of us who know, that used to be a very cruel practice in the Middle Ages when you would take small boys and just snip off a part of their body so their voice would never change. They would sing just like the Member for Mount Pearl who is singing to keep us awake tonight. Thank you, Member.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BENNETT: Thank you for singing castrato. Look it up.

"‘Muskrat Falls Project' means the Muskrat Falls Project as defined in the Energy Corporation Act".

Mr. Chair, I have to go back and reflect on that very terminology and that very act. Having lived out West, I came into contact with a term they call prairie oysters. We heard some time ago about when a certain other person who used to head up the government, after he was away and came back on an oil or energy conference from down in Houston, he telephoned back, and I think members realized that if they did not do what he wanted to do, the whole Chamber - at least the government caucus room - would be wall-to-wall prairie oysters, if they did not go along with what he wanted. They listened very dutifully and they did everything that he wanted. They are continuing to do it in the Muskrat Falls debate and in the Muskrat Falls Project.

Now, "‘Muskrat Falls Project' means the Muskrat Falls Project as defined in the Energy Corporation Act", and that appears to be relatively straightforward. Mr. Chair, I have already dealt with proponent. I do not need to go back to that.

A secured creditor, under sub (k), "means a person who has a security interest in the assets of another person or who acts for or on behalf of that person with respect to the security interest and includes a receiver or a receiver-manager appointed by a secured creditor or by a court on the application of a secured creditor, a trustee appointed under a trust deed relating to a security interest or another person performing a similar function."

That seems to be so all-encompassing – if they were to say, in this instance, anybody who has anything to do with anything that we want is caught by this definition. That smacks of wide-reaching legislation that is further reaching than is necessary for the purposes of the Muskrat Falls Project.

That is why I have referred to it as the dictators' midnight land grab. It is almost as if a corporation went into an underdeveloped country and said we are prepared to do this development, and we are an investor or investors, we want to put our money into it – and it is a hydroelectric development. If that proponent or that investor were to say: Well, we are really concerned about tying up the land that we need for the line.

The government would say, or the hydroelectric corporation – and it could be a place like, not here, maybe Belize or some place like that where we know there are hydroelectric developments. They would say: Well, what about the local people? The response would be: Do not worry about the local people, we will pass an act, we will clear up all the local people's interest, and they will be completely subservient. We will pay them off; we will do with them whatever we wanted.

That is pretty much what this Muskrat Falls Land Use and Expropriation Act does. This act seeks to absolutely crush any property interest that people may have in that 1,100-kilometre long line, that is sixty metres wide. It goes further than that, because it also includes land that you have to go on to get over that.

Mr. Chair, a "‘security interest' means an overriding royalty, a deemed trust" – does not need to be an actual trust – "or actual trust, assignment or encumbrance not resulting in a complete transfer of title and beneficial ownership, and an interest in property that secures payment or performance of an obligation created by or arising out of a debenture, mortgage, lien, judgment, pledge, charge and a retention of title, however or wherever arising, considered to arise or otherwise provided for and whether absolute, contingent, fixed, floating, perfected or not perfected".

Mr. Chair, lawyers routinely refer to a legal dictionary called Black's Law Dictionary; it has been around for maybe 100 years or more. This provides a whole range of definitions. It is an American publication, although it is widely used in Canada. This looks as if somebody did not know what do we want to call this, well we will get the definition from Black's and Black's definition includes everything that you could possibly think of. Just take this and just plug this in, and then that is it.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I am very happy once again to stand and to speak to Bill 60, Muskrat Falls Project Land Use and Expropriation Act. I would like to continue where I left off. Where I left off was I referring to the socioeconomic environment component study for Labrador-Island Transmission Link. It is their final report and it is from November 2010.

Once I started reading this report it struck me. It struck me like it had not before. The impact that the transmission line itself will have on our landscape. I know that we need power. We need power as a modern society, of course we need power. Do we need more power than what we have? We do not know because we have not exercised conservation at all. Conservation has not come into the mix whatsoever in terms of a real, comprehensive, conservation program that this government should have taken leadership in and should have considered as part of the mix.

I would like to say that our energy future is not fate. It is not fate, but it is choice. We have choices to make about how we will handle our energy needs presently and in the future. I fear that in fact this government has not seriously looked at a real comprehensive integrative design for addressing our power needs but has focused solely on Muskrat Falls.

Consequently, we will need these transmission lines, which involve big towers and lines going right through our Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The decisions that are made about this project we will all bear the responsibility for. We all bear the responsibility for the effects of these decisions we make here and what we have made here over the last month.

I would like, again, to encourage anybody who is watching –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MS ROGERS: Mr. Chair, it is a little bit tough to speak while the Member for St. John's North and the Member for Gander there are singing at the top of their lungs, doing karaoke in this House, while we are considering some of these very, very important issues.

CHAIR: Order, please!

MS ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MS ROGERS: These decisions about Muskrat Falls, and if this is the way this government is going to go in terms of addressing our future power and energy needs, do have very concrete effects. Muskrat Falls is not just the Churchill River and the falls in Labrador. The physical effect of doing this approach to dealing with our energy needs will affect the whole Province. It is not just about a water dam in Labrador. It is more than that.

Part of what I would like to talk about again is the transmission lines that will go right through Labrador and through Newfoundland, the Island portion. I would like people, once again, to use their imaginations to think of the landscape we all know so well, the beautiful landscape of this Province that belongs to us, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Now, imagine this with the huge transmission towers, with a swath of land sixty-metres wide.

I would like to continue as to where those transmission towers might cross. "Communities and/or drinking water supplies overlap with the proposed transmission corridor in each identified Study Region." – of this particular study that was done. "Many of these areas are rural. The corridor also crosses through regions where communities and populations are more heavily concentrated."

We are not talking about something that we are not going to see way out in the wilderness. We are talking about transmission lines that we are going to see. Towers that are carrying these heavy transmission lines, big towers, we are going to see them throughout the Province. These tend to be in Eastern Newfoundland and on the Avalon Peninsula.

"Portions of 22 communities and 17 drinking water supplies (and in most cases for the same communities) are crossed by the proposed transmission corridor." This corridor – it is not even just the towers. It is a whole corridor, and we all know what transmission corridors look like. This will be crossing portions of twenty-two communities just on the Island portion, twenty-two communities and seventeen drinking water supply areas.

"A number of Aboriginal groups reside in, and/or claim rights and/or title to areas within or adjacent to the transmission corridor in Central and Southeastern Labrador." Mr. Chair, I encourage people to imagine it, to picture it, because we are capable of doing that. We are capable of picturing the landscape as we know it and then to picture it with this additional.

"These groups include: Labrador Innu, Quebec Innu and Naskapi, Labrador Inuit (Nunatsiavut) and NunatuKavut (formally the Labrador Mιtis Nation). Specific land use" – and harvesting – "activities by the members of these groups are addressed in other studies prepared as part of the Project's EA."

"Transportation: In Central and Southeastern Labrador (Labrador Straits portion), on the Northern Peninsula" – the Great Northern Peninsula – "in Central and Eastern Newfoundland and on the Avalon Peninsula…" this is where we will see that transmission corridor. Mr. Chair, if we use our imaginations and picture it, it is big. Trans-Canada Highway, "…Route 1 and approximately 15 other highways and roads are crossed by the proposed transmission corridor."

I am just wondering, Mr. Chair, if the hon. members across the floor –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MS ROGERS: – if they might like to use their imaginations too, rather than singing. There will be lots of time for singing, but maybe they would like to use their talents and their arts in other ways and imagine what this transmission corridor might look like for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, which includes us here in this House.

We are going down the Trans Canada, "Route 1 and approximately 15 other highways and roads are crossed by the proposed transmission corridor. These include Route 510 in the Labrador Straits" – we want to imagine this – "Route 430 the main highway on the Northern Peninsula" – so we are going to see that on the main highway on the Northern Peninsula – "Route 432 which crosses the Northern Peninsula in an east-west direction; Route 420 Hampden; the TCH, Route 1; Route 370 Buchans" – Buchans will not be spared – "Route 360 Bay d'Espoir; Route 210 Goobies; Route 203 in Fairhaven; Route 201 Bellevue; Route 100 Argentia; Route 80 Blaketown; Route 81 Whitbourne; Route 90 Salmonier Line; Route 13 Witless Bay Line; and Route 63 Avondale." Very few are going to be spared.

Hunting and trapping, areas that many Newfoundlanders have enjoyed for generations, generations of people have enjoyed hunting and trapping areas. "The proposed transmission corridor crosses three moose and one black bear management area in Labrador." These are management areas. So imagine the construction of these sixty-metre wide corridors. They do not just happen overnight. They cannot be made somewhere in a factory and then just plopped down. They have to be constructed, and the land has to be cleared for them.

"The proposed transmission corridor crosses three moose and one black bear management area in Labrador. It crosses 22 moose/black bear management areas and 10 caribou management areas on the Island of Newfoundland." Again, Mr. Chair, when we look at that, that means the construction of that corridor in those particular areas and then those towers left there.

I will be happy to continue the description of the transmission corridor when I stand again.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair recognizes the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I thank members opposite for that round of applause they gave me when I stood up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. PARSONS: I appreciate that I have my colleague from the South Coast, the Member for Grand Bank, over there. He is hanging off every word I have been saying here tonight, I tell you. It is amazing. He is not even going to need Hansard when it is all over because he remembers every word I have to say here. I appreciate that attention because the things we are talking about is important. Let's not lose sight of that, Mr. Chair.

I reference the guests in the gallery from the arts community.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. A. PARSONS: I will continue with my speech about the Family Homes Expropriation Act. What I would say is that we were talking about compensation payable. That was the last section we were talking about.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. A. PARSONS: I am going to need protection, Mr. Chair; I really am.

We were talking about compensation payable. The fact is we are hoping that people are going to be treated fairly and equitably when they are in the process of losing their homes to this transmission line. That is what we are really hoping, that the government is going to treat them fairly. As it says here: to build "…a home reasonably equivalent to that which is being expropriated."

Going further, I mentioned earlier that you can get that home through construction or purchase. What it will do is it will come down to an arbitrator or assessor, in determining compensation, will consider whether that can be done by purchase or whether it is impracticable to do so considering the state of the market. What it says here is if "…a reasonably equivalent home cannot be acquired by purchase an amount of compensation shall be awarded sufficient for its construction instead of the current market value."

The next section is one I referenced earlier that I think is quite important. That is section 6 which deals with substandard or unfit houses. It says, "Notwithstanding the other provisions of this Act, where, under an urban renewal scheme, a family home is expropriated under an Act by or for the province or a body, corporation or authority, and an assessor or arbitrator referred to in section 5 is of the opinion that the family home so expropriated is (a) substandard by reason of its size, construction or deterioration; or (b) unfit, by ordinarily accepted property standards… no compensation shall be paid in respect of that expropriation except an amount in compensation to the owner as is referred to in subsection (3)."

Subsection (3) says there is another process; you go back to the Expropriation Act to deal with the compensation. I do not think there are going to be many cases where that happens - I really do not think that – but, in those cases, I am assuming it is the arbitrator or it is the Lieutenant-Governor in Council's choice, the minister is going to make sure that – they are going to exercise discretion is what I would say. They are going to exercise discretion to ensure that these acts are not interpreted in such a way and in such a rigid manner to hurt people.

The fact is that we are speaking to this piece of law on the basis that the people are going to be treated fairly. The fact is government is taking their land and they are taking the land to construct the transmission line for Muskrat Falls. If they are going to do that and if they are going to take people's land, then I think it is necessary that they treat people fairly.

The fact is there is not much left when it comes to the Family Homes Expropriation Act. We move on; there is an appeal process that can be looked at there. That appeal process is done through the Trial Division of the Supreme Court.

I will move off this and I am going to go back to a section that I mentioned earlier. How one thing that is normally done is being changed, and again it is being changed for the purpose of making sure that financing can be done more easily. That is the statutory easement.

The fact is that most of the transmission lines, Mr. Chair, are currently on easements which grant rights required for construction or allow other compatible uses; but, under current provincial law, easements cannot be mortgaged or leased which is required for project financing.

The fact is that the government requires the interest in this land. They need to have that land in order to go to the bank. The fact is that under our laws, as it is, easements cannot be mortgaged, so what are they going to do? Well, they are going to do what they have done in all aspects of this situation or this transaction: We are going to change the law to fit our needs, suit our needs.

What they have done is they are creating the statutory easement, but it is different from current or existing easements in that it is limited for project related uses but it can be used as security for the lenders. Again, I am hoping at some point – basically it sounds like to me that if we are using a piece of land as a security to the lender, then that would seem to me that we stand the risk of losing it if we default. Maybe the Member for St. Barbe can clarify that when he gets up, because I respect his opinion. Being a practising lawyer for a number of years, he has dealt with these situations.

If we have 1,100 kilometres of land that is being acquired for the purposes of security for lenders, then it would stand that we bear the risk of losing that security if we do not meet our obligations. So what we have said all along here is that whether you agree with the process or do not agree with the process, we all hope for the best. If we do not get that, it is going to be harm to the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador. None of us want to see that, obviously, Mr. Chair.

I continue on here now when we are talking about the statutory easements. We talk about the fact that we had to create a different aspect here to make sure these things accomplished what they set out to do. I am going to go back to the legislation, not the briefing.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Chair, if I could have some kind of protection from the heckling from the Member for Mount Pearl North, I would appreciate that. This is a serious matter and I treat it serious. If I could have some protection here, I would appreciate that, Mr. Chair. I do not know maybe I have to say order, order, if I could say that.

I continue on here now where we talk about the expropriation phase of this. There is quite a bit that falls under the expropriation section of this; there is the notice of expropriation. There is a section here that I found quite interesting. Let me see, here is where it is: vesting of title; where compensation agreed; effect of error.

What we have here, basically time is of the essence in this matter. That is why this is all being rushed through here. Government is going to need the ability to get that land no matter what. They have the new law laid out so that they can accomplish that.

What it says here, "Where a proponent and the person who in the opinion of the proponent is the apparent landowner have reached an agreement… but the proponent is of the opinion that title to the land cannot be conveniently or readily transferred by the apparent owner", then what they have allowed to happen here is they have allowed the expropriation to happen, and they will deal with the rest of it after. They are going to go ahead and allow that transfer of property, that vesting of title to happen, without figuring out the fine print or the details.

That hopefully is not of too great a concern if there has already been an agreement reached. I always worry about a situation where we are going to act now and figure it out later on. We saw quite well in this last month what happened when we took action and figured it out later, because that resulted for us having quite a substantial cleanup on our hands in the Grand Falls-Windsor area. That is a concern; I put that concern out there.

This whole thing is going to happen fairly quickly. We talk about the vesting of title. Once you serve that notice of expropriation, after ten days the title vests; boom, it is done very quickly. So, I mean, depending on when this law gets passed, whenever we choose to allow that to happen, then this process could, conceptually, start very quickly thereafter.

I notice that the clock is running down on me, Mr. Chair, and I hope to get up and speak to this again. I still have – let me see – fourteen pages left to go through here yet, and a number of other pieces of legislation that are attached to that. So I am going to get through it. I am going to delve into it and dig down through, and I appreciate the opportunity to do so.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Chair, once again for the opportunity to speak to Bill 60, the Muskrat Falls Project Land Use and Expropriation Act.

When I got up earlier, I talked a lot about the aspect of compensation and going to the subsea cables across the Strait of Belle Isle. There is also a significant transportation link for fishers, but also for the Strait of Belle Isle ferry going through that area, as well as an international shipping route that takes place through Eimskip, which goes to St. Anthony as part of St. Anthony Basin Resources Incorporated – and yes, after that it goes to Iceland, and from there into the Scandinavian countries.

So there are implications to what laying this cable may mean and the overall economic compensation. We look at – as my colleague for St. John's Centre had talked about – the transmission corridor and the number of routes that is going to be across the Trans-Canada Highway and other areas. As we get to the isthmus area, we see that there is very little of a buffer zone to put in the transmission corridor there and how. Officials had stated that there will be a number of homes impacted in that area.

Under the Expropriation Act, Part II, clause 12, section 9, it states, "Notwithstanding another provision of this Part, where the family home is to be expropriated for the purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project, the Family Homes Expropriation Act shall apply to that expropriation and compensation shall be determined in accordance with that Act."

With that, I guess those people in those areas would have a possible significant leverage. If this project is being built, developed, it is costing billions of dollars to put this corridor in and to get through. Once that investment is up, it has to move forward and it has to go. Those people may end up pursuing the courts for the maximum benefit and hiring lawyers to get that, because of the significance of having a family home in that situation. Those people may be in for a windfall based on this project, and so they should be if their family home is going to be taken out from under them. That is one area I wanted to look at.

Clause 27, I find this one very interesting. It says, Mr. Chair, "Where, before the compensation has been actually paid or before an award is made by the arbitration panel, a parcel or a part of a parcel of land taken for the purpose of this Act 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 where that proponent meets the requirements of the expropriation protocol, by a written notice served or posted in the manner provided in section 16, 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 under section 13 or 21 or that it is intended to retain only a limited estate or interest in the land or a part of it as is mentioned in the notice."

There could be situations where land is expropriated and people go through that process, and then find out: Oh, well, we do not really need this any more. The proponent say: We have taken, we have compensated, or we have not compensated. They have made other means, and now only a portion or none of it is going to be taken.

You could be placing a stress on people when you are looking at this type of development. There are going to be a lot of concerned people when you look at the socioeconomic impacts as to what this bill means, especially in Labrador and throughout many parts of the Island, especially rural communities.

Look at Muskrat Falls and surrounding that, it is one of the more heavily trapped areas. As we develop the project, there would be a habitat loss and it would have an impact to species. The Joint Review Panel had said that, as to what could be impacted.

Nalcor at the time had proposed a compensation program for trappers who can prove they have previously and continuously trapped in the area for at least ten years prior to the start of construction. Construction has started. Has the compensation program been there? How many people are being compensated? To have it so loosely say may compensate and they have to prove, somebody has to prove that they previously and continuously trapped. That is very broad terminology, Mr. Chair.

Should the legislation move forward, as you are looking at expropriation and whatnot and compensation in the bill, it should also be clearly written as to the environmental losses and the economical losses that people are going to go through as to how – that there are going to be assurances that they are going to be compensated for lost hunting and trapping activities.

As well, Mr. Chair, a number of these proposed areas are good areas for berry and growth. A lot of people use that for subsistence. There are a lot of berry pickers in my district and across the Province who do that.

MR. LANE: You can still pick berries there.

MR. MITCHELMORE: The Member for Mount Pearl South is saying you can certainly still pick berries.

Well, Nalcor stated they would issue public advisories in compliance with provincial regulations and post public notices along the corridor to inform berry pickers that there are herbicide applications. We hear that, and the Member for St. John's East had talked many times about getting rid of harmful herbicides and pesticides and things like that, those sprays that are going to be used.

During this corridor there is going to be herbicide sprays, there is going to be advisories put up, and there is going to be habitat impacted when it comes to subsistence living, when it comes to the berry and berry production there. That is something we are not seeing when it comes to looking at –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: -the overall impact and if compensation is going to be provided in any form there.

When they talked about that impact, just in the Muskrat Falls area Nalcor identified twelve cabins that the project would permanently affect out of twenty-two inventoried along the Churchill River. The cabins are subject to licence to occupy and would expire prior to the development, the reservoir creation, and can be terminated thirty days by notice of the Minister of Environment and Conservation.

Mr. Chair, I certainly would like clarification from the Minister of Environment and Conservation that his department – he has the ability to basically terminate that notice. The legislation says they may compensate or they may not, and getting fair market value and things like this. There needs to be clarity in this bill, as it seems like this project is moving forward no matter what. This is twelve cabins just around the river itself. It is not looking at all of the transmission levels.

There are temporary effects as well. The people of the Province need to be aware, those who have cabins, those who are users of where the corridor is going to be, that there are going to be increased noise levels and traffic during the construction period.

It is going to have a net impact on, and we have seen it, the moose populations. We are currently seeing drastic declines in moose success when it comes to the hunt in a number of districts, especially on the Great Northern Peninsula. With that, this is only going to adversely impact that as well.

If you cut a corridor through, you are going to have a change in migrating habits and patterns. That is a significant food supply for the people of the Province as well. If you are going to be putting herbicides and things like that, if people are not safe to eat those berries, what about all the animals? The people who are trapping hares, rabbits, who are going to be eating those things that are going to have chemicals in them, is that going to adversely impact people's health overall?

Mr. Chair, I have a number of things specifically to say to the bill and the forms of compensation and expropriation. My time is nearing expire, so I will allow some of my other colleagues to express their concerns.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The Chair recognizes the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It is an honour to rise and speak to this bill that is up for debate. I look across the way, Mr. Chair, and I think that the restaurant is open tonight.

I would like to speak to the bill, An Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project. Mr. Chair, there is legislation in place already, and it has been implemented from time to time, but I think this new legislation requires acquisition of Crown and non-Crown land for the purpose of the transmission infrastructure.

Mr. Chair, the transmission line, the proposed route – and I think this is initial – will certainly look at the routing that was provided in the briefing. I know that there exists already a transmission line that runs from Churchill Falls to Happy Valley-Goose Bay. As you travel up that way, you can see which way that transmission line runs.

The proponents, Nalcor and Emera, I would venture to say, require throughout this routing, not so much as in the Labrador portion of the transmission line up as far as Forteau, Mr. Chair, but as it comes across the Straits to Newfoundland and as it comes down the Great Northern Peninsula is where Nalcor and Emera, Nalcor being a company of the Crown, where the Lieutenant-Governor in Council will need to acquire land.

The reason for this legislation, Mr. Chair, or I say this new legislation, is respect to the different types of interest in the land. Permission will be needed from the people who live in this area, whether it is private ownership of the land or use of the land.

My hon. colleague for The Straits – White Bay North talked about usages of the land that are non-relative to cabins or infrastructure, Mr. Chair. I would just like to talk a little bit about that. When the land that is going to be expropriated or taken through statutory easement leaves Upper Lake Melville, it tends to go southeast. It turns around the west end of the mountain range that runs along the south side of Lake Melville.

There is expropriation in place now, Mr. Chair, through a tripartite agreement. In looking at the proposed route, there is an ongoing discussion on the formation of a new national park that runs from west to east on the south side of Lake Melville, the Mealy Mountains. You are talking about a major portion of the transmission line that is going through land that is probably already in the process of being under one category, Mr. Chair, and I guess I could not tell you right now if it is expropriation or a statutory easement.

I heard the Minister of Natural resources over the last two days talking about examples of statutory easement and expropriation. He made reference to the Torngat Mountains National Park which was land – and I might add a beautiful part of our Province; I spent over thirty years going down there. This parcel of land is part of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement that was expropriated but for a different purpose. I think it was expropriated with the agreement of Canada, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Nunatsiavut Government, Mr. Chair.

This area is 400 miles north of Nain, so it is not an area that was frequented. Mr. Chair, there were conditions attached to the national park in the Torngat Mountains. The expropriation of this land for the purpose of which it is was intended was not an issue for all parties agreed. Certainly, to see how management of that national park, Canada's newest national park, Mr. Chair, has been worked on by the three governments of the Province, including Canada, this land was expropriated under the existing legislation and certainly there was no requirement to strike a committee or a group, whatever the group is representative of to do any confiscation.

I think there was just one land user in the area of the Seven Islands, which is probably some 800 miles north of Nain. The national park, as it exists now, Mr. Chair, if you took that area and you inserted it into an overlay on the Island portions of our Province, it would certainly take up the whole Northern Peninsula as well as a good portion of the Northeast Coast of Newfoundland.

You are looking at the magnitude of that expropriation issue, Mr. Chair, which is relatively small in terms of what land usage was going on there, for a huge chunk of our Province. Once you look at how that land was taken and reserved, Mr. Chair, all parties gave their approval: the Inuit of Labrador, the provincial government, the Nunatsiavut Government, and the Government of Canada.

There are ways in which the current legislation can work. I think once you take the proposal that is on the table now, Mr. Chair, and under discussion for a new national park, there are issues around it, because the Nunatsiavut Government does have Labrador Inuit land on the southern shore of Lake Melville that runs parallel with the Mealy Mountains.

My time is running short, Mr. Chair, but I would certainly like to come back and look at establishing boundaries, because the transmission line that is proposed certainly looks like it will be going through land that has already been expropriated as a proposal, and the questions around how do you expropriate land that has already been expropriated.

Thank you.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I recognize the Member for St. John's Centre.

MS ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I am happy once again to get up and speak to Bill 60 – we are still there – the Muskrat Falls Project Land Use and Expropriation Act.

Here we are at 3:00 o'clock in the morning and we are all settled in here for a little while. I would like for us to continue to imagine that sixty-metre wide transmission corridor coming down through Labrador and down through the Island, across the Great Northern Peninsula – by the way, did I say that my mother was from the Great Northern Peninsula? She was always so proud to say. I think I may have said that a few times this evening.

I would like to start off again, for us to imagine the footprint of that transmission corridor as it is built all throughout our Province, with large towers coming through the landscape and the skyline, affecting pretty much most of the area of the Province in terms of where it can be seen. They will be able to be seen for quite awhile going over our barrens, over our hills, over our fields, and over our waterways.

The other thing, Mr. Chair, is wondering yet again: Has absolutely every possible innovative solution to our energy generation been thoroughly investigated? Is this really the way it must be? That is the question. Perhaps it is, but it is not entirely clear to many of us because of the process in which this has been done.

The hunting and trapping areas, "The proposed transmission corridor…" – I ask members to just imagine these beautiful areas without the transmission corridors, and then once again imagine this land once those corridors are in fact built, constructed, and erected.

"The proposed transmission corridor crosses three moose and one black bear management area in Labrador. It crosses 22 moose/black bear management areas" – imagine the disruption in constructing these towers and clearing the sixty-metre wide corridor – "and 10 caribou management areas on the Island of Newfoundland." This is just on the Island of Newfoundland.

"The corridor overlaps with one small game management area in Labrador and four small game management areas on the Island of Newfoundland (all except for the Burin Management Area)."

It is going to affect all of our small game management areas except for one in the Province, and that is the one in Burin. So an incredible physical impact on our land, on the landscape, on the skyscape and on the animals that live in those areas. Once it is done it is done, there is no turning back. I am concerned that with this government at this point there is no turning back.

I would hope the hon. members would just take a moment to pause and reflect and to imagine what this might look like. We are talking about the future generations. This is what Muskrat Falls has all been – that we have talked about. About future prosperity and economic development, and those are all great things. Also, what kind of legacy we are going to leave our children. The footprint of this transmission corridor is part of the legacy that we are leaving our children. It is part of the legacy on the land, of this single-pronged approach to energy generation that is not in fact an Energy Plan.

"It also crosses six migratory game bird management zones…" These are all things that we feel make us as a people, as a people of Newfoundland and Labrador. These are all riches, all resources, also part of the natural resources of our Province that we are all proud of. We all know about hunting and trapping, of fishing. We know about that.

"It also crosses six migratory game bird management zones and one murre management zone. The corridor crosses nine fur zones in the province.

"Angling and Other Fishing: The proposed transmission corridor intersects with 17 scheduled salmon rivers in the various Study Regions." – seventeen salmon rivers.

We are talking, Mr. Chair, not even just about the corridor and the towers, but we are also talking about the construction and what that means in these very sensitive areas where these have to be constructed. That means roads being able to take heavy machinery, to be able to bring in these towers and to set up the corridor. This is also part of the legacy of Muskrat Falls. This is part of what is being created by this government right now.

"Of these salmon rivers, those on the Northern Peninsula have the highest…" measures of CPUEs. "Salmon angling success rates are also high in Central and Southeastern Labrador and in Central Newfoundland. Success rates are generally lower in Eastern Newfoundland and on the Avalon Peninsula." So, over seventeen scheduled salmon rivers in the various study regions.

I remember going to Labrador on a salmon fishing trip, Mr. Chair. What an exciting trip that was, to be able to fish for salmon in a beautiful river, in the Eagle River. It is all part of our natural resources. It is all part of our Province. It is all part of also what we leave our future generations.

"Hunting and Fishing Outfitters: Three existing outfitting camps are located in the proposed transmission corridor and these are all on the Northern Peninsula." Those are economic generators. They are economic businesses in the Northern Peninsula. Again, they are also part of our natural resource.

Muskrat Falls does not just stay up in the geographic area that it is, the ramifications of bringing that power down through the Province leaves a heavy footprint and a legacy that lasts for years. This is a technology that we will be paying for, for fifty years. It is not a new and innovative technology. This is an old technology. Perhaps it is the best one, we do not know, but it is not new and innovative. It is not technologically creative. It is not entirely green. It may not in fact be the least-cost option, because we have not absolutely, thoroughly looked at an integrative design applying to our energy and power needs.

"Motorized Recreational Vehicles: The proposed transmission corridor intersects with snowmobile trails in the Labrador Straits and in several parts of the Northern Peninsula including the Main River area."

We know the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation is really looking at snowmobiling as another tourism economic generator for the Province. We know these towers do not just pop up and these corridors do not just appear, they have to be constructed. What are the ramifications of these being constructed? They do not happen overnight.

"It also crosses snowmobile trails, particularly the Newfoundland T'Railway, near populated areas (e.g., of Badger, Grand Falls-Windsor, Clarenville, the Isthmus and around Holyrood)…" So we will see those great big old towers and that great big corridor coming right down through all those areas. This pattern is similar for ATV trails. The corridor crosses the Strait of Belle Isle and lakes, ponds, and rivers where boating activity occurs on the Northern Peninsula, Central and Eastern Newfoundland, and on the Avalon Peninsula.

Mr. Chair, there are also cabin areas. We have heard some of my colleagues speak a little bit about the whole impact on some cabin areas and cabins. In fact, there may be more cottages and cabins involved than we may have spoken about earlier in the evening. Most of us I am sure, most of my colleagues in this House either have cabins or cottages or there is somebody in their family –

CHAIR (Verge): Order, please!

MS ROGERS: Oh, look at that, Mr. Chair. I have run out of time again and I still have not finished how long that transmission line is. I look forward to getting up and talking about it some more.

Thank you, Sir.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: I recognize the hon. the Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Yes, Mr. Chair, I am going to continue with the bill, Bill 60, the Muskrat Falls Land Use and Expropriation Act.

Section 5 of the act says, "Except as otherwise provided in this Act, for the purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project, this Act shall prevail over another Act of the province, and, in the case of an inconsistency between this Act and another Act of the province, this Act prevails." Mr. Chair, we are passing a bill which will become an act, and this will prevail over all other acts of this Province related to this subject matter.

Section 5.(2) says, "Section 56 of the Public Utilities Act shall not apply to the Muskrat Falls Project." For proper interpretation, Mr. Chair, it is necessary to say: What exactly does section 56 of the Public Utilities Act say? Well, section 56 of the Public Utilities Act deals with the erection of structures in municipalities.

Section 56.(1) says, "A public utility shall not, in a city, town or other incorporated municipality, erect or place a pole, wire, conduit or pipe or erect a building, substation, tower or other structure without first obtaining the consent of the council of the city, town or municipality, and the council may consent, or may refuse its consent, as it considers appropriate."

Section 56.(2) says, "Where the council refuses or neglects to grant a permit to erect or place the pole, wire, conduit or pipe or the building, substation, tower or other structure within 1 month after the application has been received by the mayor or clerk of the city, town or municipality, or agrees to give it only on terms which the public utility will not accept, either party may refer the matter to the board" – and the board is the Public Utilities Board – "and the board may make an order directing on what terms the work shall be undertaken."

Mr. Chair, what is happening here in section 5 of the act, Bill 60, which we have come to call the dictators' midnight land grab, is that the Public Utilities Act section 56 does not apply. So the same people who are going to be charging all the way across the Province, they can come rolling through your town, your community, your city. They can put up towers, poles, or substations. They can pretty much do whatever want – like a marauding band coming through, pretty much doing whatever they want.

The small communities down through Southern Labrador, the small communities through the Great Northern Peninsula, the small communities and even larger communities through Central Newfoundland, if this line is coming to your town, you have to keep in mind, Mr. Chair, this is from the same people who brought you Bill 29, the official secrets act, now bringing you the dictators' midnight land grab. This bill will eliminate the opportunity for your municipality, anybody's municipality, to apply to the Public Utilities Board for an order to determine how a structure can and should be placed in that municipality, or even if it shall be placed in that town or municipality.

For that matter, it could even be going across your waterline. It could be going through any of your land that you have deemed in your town plan. It really does not matter because the Muskrat Falls Project is so important that your municipal rights in your town will be totally trampled by the Muskrat Falls proponents who can then run off to their special board – because we have agreed to oust the Expropriations Act and the board that would ordinarily look after that, and set up a separate entire entity.

Now, Mr. Chair, when you go through the act it will be fair and reasonable for any of the members opposite to say: Well, what would you do? What do you think we should do? If you do not want these people to be running this sixty metre wide, 1,100 kilometre line up through these towns and villages, across private property, public property and anything that gets in their way, what would you do?

Mr. Chair, we already have, in this Province, the Public Utilities Acquisition of Lands Act. The Public Utilities Acquisition of Lands Act is Revised Statutes of Newfoundland and Labrador 1996, Chapter P-48 and it was amendment by this very government in 2004. So, presumably, in 2004 they must have known what they wanted to do.

A few simple amendments to the Public Utilities Acquisition of Lands Act would make this act quite adequate for the purposes that are necessary for the Muskrat Falls Project. The amendments to this act, I would say, should be under Definitions under subsection (vi), the Public Utility could simply be deemed to include Muskrat Falls; and under 2.(e) transmission lines could simply include Muskrat Falls. Two simple amendments to the Public Utilities Acquisition of Lands Act would be adequate and the Muskrat Falls Project then would proceed on the normal course like any other type of hydroelectric project, telephone line or any kind of a public utility.

Mr. Chair, we just finished the Definitions section. Part I of this bill refers to statutory easement. Easements generally come in two forms, but this is actually a statutory easement. An easement is obtained in a couple of different ways. If somebody continuously goes over your land for a period of twenty years of longer, common law, you are entitled to a right-of-way, also known as an easement, or you can acquire an easement by having an agreement with the individual.

That type of easement could be for an electric line, a gas line or a power line, but what we are going to create here is we are going to create – I will not say the biggest easement in North America because it may not be the biggest easement in North America, but we are going to create an easement, by law, in this Legislature, which is 1,100 kilometres long and sixty metres wide. It will be interesting to see if there is a bigger easement.

Even the Trans-Canada pipeline that runs down from Alberta to Ontario, clearly that would be maybe a few thousand kilometres long but it is not wholly contained within one Province. It runs from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

When we were in the briefing session on this particular bill, I raised the question as to why do you not simply go to another jurisdiction and ask them: What did you do? What did you do in another Province? Did you need to take such a heavy, harsh draconian step as to grab up all of this land and impose this on these people?

The response I received was: Well, we could not do it in Alberta and Saskatchewan because their land system is different. Yes, Mr. Chair, the land system in Alberta and Saskatchewan is different than the rest of Canada. It is the land title system. Clearly, that would have some differences.

I do not see any reason why we could not have gone to British Columbia, British Columbia has lines; we could not have gone to Manitoba, Manitoba has lines. Why we could not have gone to Ontario and say: What did you do when you wanted to create something for, let's say Manitoba Hydro? What did you do when you wanted to create something for Ontario Hydro?

One of the big, big shortcomings of this government is that they assume they are the only people in the world. They assume nobody else has any expertise but for them. They run out and whenever they need to do something by law, instead of looking at somebody else's precedent, what worked in another jurisdiction, should we do it here? No, no, they assume they know better than anybody else so they create their own law.

We ran into a real problem with that with the expropriation of the Grand Falls mill. That expropriation, Mr. Chair, had this former Premier referred to as the Venezuelan near Dictator Chavez, who shows no regard for public and private property. Now I expect this is going to be a Chavez too, in the feminine gender.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Chair, I hope that a lot of people do listen because the issue of property rights in this Province has already been raised in the financial capitals of the world. Is this a safe place to do business?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

I recognize the hon. the Member for St. John's Centre.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Again, I am so happy to stand and speak to Bill 60, Muskrat Falls Project Land Use and Expropriation Act.

I would like to continue to speak about the legacy of Muskrat Falls in terms of our land, our landscape and our skyscape, and also the impact on our future generations, because Muskrat Falls is not an entity just up in Labrador. It is not just what is happening up in the Churchill River. The implications of bringing that power through the Province and down across the Strait, and then down to Nova Scotia are quite significant.

I spoke a little bit from the Socioeconomic Environment Component Study for the Labrador-Island Transmission Link and their final report from November, 2010. I talked about where this transmission line, where the corridor – because we have to remember, it is not just the towers and the lines, but there is actually a sixty-metre wide corridor that travels right along with the transmission lines. Sixty metres is pretty wide. I talked about where this might cross, and we talked about moose and black bear management areas, bird management areas, seventeen scheduled salmon rivers. I have also talked about roads and twenty-two communities, portions of that, seventeen drinking water supply areas.

I would just like to continue on with where this corridor is going to intersect. Also, keep in mind, Mr. Chair, what is happening in other parts of the world. They are developing and using the new, the innovative, creative technology for power generation and for power transmission, and what is being recommended by some of the foremost experts in the world.

Last night I was able to quote quite a few things from Mr. Amory Lovins, a scientist, who is a world expert, who has won many international awards, who has consulted with several countries around the world about energy solutions and energy generation. Mr. Lovins is in his sixties and has taught at Harvard Kennedy School. He is not out there in the fringes. He has done work with the Pentagon. He has done work with several countries and several agencies, both as a consultant, as a designer, as somebody who helps assess what your power and energy needs are and how to come up with suitable solutions. He said the way to go is gas and ‘renewables'.

His latest work is how to get the US off oil dependency. He was talking about how China and Germany, in particular, are using solar energy. He said there are more workers in the solar industry in Germany than there are US steel workers. That is quite amazing.

He talks about how much money by private enterprise is being invested in the renewable energy sector. He said it is $151 billion – $151 billion of private investment, just in the past while, has gone into renewable energy, and that is in wind and solar. We are seeing there are a lot of private investment firms investing money in the area of renewable technology. We know the grids have gotten way smarter. Also, technologies have developed that improve the storing of energy, when you are using wind or when you are using solar.

His approach is not that there is just one form of energy generation, but that you use an integrated design where you look at where the best types of generation are for a specific need and for a specific geographical location. This is a smart use of technology. One of the things he said as well is that ‘renewables' are no longer a fringe activity and that Europe is shifting to ‘renewables'.

The other thing he said that I found quite interesting is companies that are hampered by old thinking will not be around. I cannot help but wonder, Mr. Chair, if focusing only on Muskrat Falls in fact is old thinking. I believe that it is old thinking. He is talking not just about solar and wind. He is talking about natural gas and biofuel. He said it is like reinventing fire and that our energy future is not fate but it is a choice. We are making some choices here. He says, to solve your energy problems, you have to enlarge them, and to think of a bigger picture and to focus on outcomes and not motives.

The other thing that he had spoken about was that putting up smaller distribution centres, local micro-grids, are much more secure. If you are relying on just one source of power and one source of transmission, if something goes wrong everything is gone. He said smaller are more manageable, are more secure, are more environmentally friendly.

Why, Mr. Chair, would we not want that? We are at the cusp where we have a choice to do something innovative and creative, where we are able to use smart technology and we are just stuck in old thinking. We have the chance to do it right. It is a shame, Mr. Chair. I can only think that it is a shame that we are squandering – that this government has decided to squander this opportunity because it is an opportunity. It is shutting its doors; it is shutting its windows on any kind of innovative technology.

I would like to once again look at where this huge corridor that is sixty metres wide, I would like to continue now the picture. If all of us can imagine that landscape that we are all so familiar with, the landscape of Newfoundland and Labrador and the skyscape that we are so familiar with. Let us imagine that. Now let us imagine that with the huge corridor and transmission lines cutting through it.

Where I left off was, "Cabins and Cottage Development Areas: The proposed transmission corridor overlaps with a portion of a total of 559,000 ha that have been designated as cottage planning areas." We know for sure at this point – and there may be more because this was 2010. By the time they get at it, it is going to be 2013-2014, so there may be more cottages that will be affected. "A total of 462 cottages and 146 remote cottages are located in the corridor" – in the corridor itself. We know how wide that corridor –

AN HON. MEMBER: How many?

MS ROGERS: You want to know how many? It is 462 cottages and 146 remote cottages. As I said earlier we all know, most of us own a cottage. If we do not ourselves own a cottage, our family members or our friends own a cottage. Most of us have spent some time at somebody's cottage. We know what it is like to get out of town, to spend time on the water, to be in that peaceful environment, but this is how many – that is 600 cottages that are affected. That is a lot of people. That is a lot of cottage area.

They are going to be right directly in the corridor. "Cottage and remote cottage development is most extensive on the Northern Peninsula" – I am sure my colleague here is concerned about that – "and in Central and Eastern Newfoundland. Cottages are much more common than remote cottages on the Avalon Peninsula where cottage development is most intensive."

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MS ROGERS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and I look forward to continuing the story and the saga of the transmission corridor.

Thank you very much.

CHAIR: I recognize the hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Once again, I am happy to rise to speak to the bill that has been tabled for debate, Mr. Chair, An Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project.

Mr. Chair, I have gone through a lot of this proposed legislation and I guess one of the benefits is having your colleagues as lawyers. It certainly sheds some light on some of the definitions, of the terminology. I am glad to have the opportunity or the ability to ask my colleagues about some of this legislation and very happy for it. Sometimes, Mr. Chair, I am sorry that I asked my colleagues.

I would just like to talk a little bit about the corridor. When you look at expropriation or statutory easement, Mr. Chair, I guess it is all subject to a property or an area that is in question. Mr. Chair, when I left off earlier tonight I was talking about the first X number of miles, once the power line leaves Lake Melville and travels down the southern portion of Labrador.

One of the first boundaries, aside from environmental impacts in the proposed land claims agreement with the Innu Nation and subsequently what has been tabled by NunatuKavut in their land claims footprint area, if and when it is accepted by the Crown, in which case it would follow through to being accepted by the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador – as many ministers across the way have made reference to, and that they are in fact waiting for the Government of Canada to recognize this land claims agreement.

Having said that, Mr. Chair, the next piece of discussion is going to be required by the entity that will be created by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council is the organization that will be tasked with expropriating the land as the transmission line footprint area tends to unfold.

That area – and I touched briefly on it earlier tonight – is the proposed national park that is up for discussion with the Labrador Inuit and the Nunatsiavut Government. NunatuKavut have been consulted to some degree because they do have people who sit on the advisory committee for the proposed national park, as well as the Innu Nation, and other various groups – outfitter groups and tourism groups that are centred in Lake Melville.

I realized that the map that we received in the briefing is not the exact proposed route through the first stages of the transmission line as it extended down towards Forteau. I will get to that, hopefully, Mr. Chair, a little later on – I was going to say tonight, but I guess this morning.

So, you are talking about expropriating land that is already been expropriated, or proposed expropriation. I would just like to reference the act itself, Mr. Chair, where once this legislation is implemented, that this legislation will supersede any existing legislation and you will see the corridor go through the western end of the proposed Mealy Mountain Park. We have already had this discussion about the Southern Labrador Highway that just over the last few years has been made passable. I certainly would like to reference my colleague, the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair, who talks about what needs to be done to this road, Mr. Chair.

It will be another corridor that cuts through virgin land, through virgin territory, much of it has been traditionally a trapping ground. If you look at the proposed land claims or the agreement in principle with the Innu Nation and look at what has been tabled by the NunatuKavut group, you will see a lot of overlap and you will see a lot of reference to the Southern Labrador Highway as it cuts through both the land that has been proposed for acquisition by the Innu, in their land claims agreement, the New Dawn Agreement, and it also cuts through land that has been proposed as NunatuKavut lands, Mr. Chair, as well as the national park.

This is only in the first 500 kilometres of the overall 1,100-kilometre stretch that goes from Muskrat Falls down to the Avalon Peninsula. Certainly, the impacts of this proposed route, as it crosses the Straits and comes down the Northern Peninsula into Central and Southern Newfoundland, my colleagues on all sides are well aware of the impacts of cottage displacements, home displacements, and private land displacements that we will see. As we all know, the Island portion of our Province is very much more populated, although it being probably one-third the side of Labrador

I would like to carry on with this, Mr. Chair, if I do get the opportunity to rise again on this proposed legislation. The area that runs from Groswater Bay or Fish Cove Point on the southern shore or the eastern shore of Lake Melville up to Muskrat Falls. If you take the proposed map route we had in our briefing and you take the area of land that extends eastward, which constitute all of the communities in Southern Labrador, Mr. Chair, and you take that bulk of land that is being questioned and insert that on an overlay in Newfoundland, this very small section of Labrador, it is almost comparable to the size of Newfoundland, the Island portion of our Province.

We are talking about a very large area with very little direct impact on cabin usage, but it will impact three land claim proposals, one of which has already been legislated. This is certainly an issue I will also be talking about as it is outlined in the legislation. I look forward to talking about this further.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

I recognize the hon. the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Chair, for recognizing me and giving me the opportunity once again to speak to Bill 60.

I want to go back to the context of why we need this new legislation, for people who have joined us. The project lenders require certainty that the interest of lands for the project will be available to the proponents. We have clearly outlined there could be any number of proponents because there are several companies and stakeholders that are not even listed there from the clear definition of the legislation of what a proponent can be. All of this land has to be pledged as security for the availability based on the briefing. This goes to show how far this government is really willing to go to see Muskrat Falls pursued as a project.

It says: The bill is necessary in order to present the strongest case when financial markets are approached in early 2013 to meet the key requirements of financing process once it gets underway. It clearly depicts the financial vulnerabilities that this project has because there are many other integrated options.

When the department looked at all the alternatives, they looked at them isolated. They said we need large-scale wind, or let us look at natural gas in its form rather than looking at smaller options to meet the energy needs of the people of the Province. Looking at it, the fact that Muskrat Falls is geared up for 40 per cent of the power paid for by the ratepayers here. It is 325 megawatts of power; that is all that is needed to be displaced.

My colleague for St. John's Centre had talked about wind, had talked about biofuel, talked about natural gas in an integrated form that we can certainly meet our energy needs, and also conservation. This really, really shows how far government is willing to go when it comes to trying to finance this project, when it comes to making it go forward because there is very little.

When Nalcor filed its joint review, when they were looking at the Lower Churchill Project in total, they were saying that there is only going to be $1.1 billion in net benefits by 2050. As costs go up those net benefits are either going to not be materialized, and as costs increase they will not be there or they will have to be burdened at the ratepayer.

Just to highlight, Mr. Chair, that when you look at Megaprojects and Risk: An Anatomy of Ambition the cost overruns happen basically nine-out-of-ten times in those projects that are listed. The actual costs, on average, are 28 per cent higher than what was estimated. These people had experts when they undergone their megaprojects. You are talking about things like the Chunnel, and you are talking about things like the oil sands. They certainly sought out experts as well, but the average was 28 per cent higher and we are only earmarking 12 per cent.

In many cases there was a significant gap between what is expected as a huge investment of resources to what actually was obtained from that project investment. It is a paradox sometimes of looking at doing a megaproject and what really are the long-term net benefits.

If you look at the jobs in the person years, they are going to be short term. There is going to be a significant amount of destruction looking at what a 1,100 corridor, sixty metres wide, is going to mean, and going to mean for people all across Labrador and the Island portion of the Province with that length of corridor, especially in my district on the Great Northern Peninsula, for The Straits – White Bay North, when it comes to cabin owners, when it comes to the fact that a cable goes right through and affects fishers in my district.

The actual stations are going to be there, going across the highway. It is going to make a big difference. Then, as my colleague for St. John's Centre had talked about, 600 cabins are currently in that direction of where they want to put this corridor.

When we were in the briefing, Mr. Chair, and I can look at this under clause 6.(1) which talks about statutory easement. It says, "The Crown, an agent of the Crown, a municipality or person may create, in favour of a holder for a purpose described in subsection (3), an easement without dominant tenement to be known as a statutory easement."

When we were in the briefing, we were talking about how the majority of this is looking at doing an easement so that it is not going to take over the entire property of the cabin owner or the homeowner that it is going to try and limit. It is going to really try and limit the impacts. Well, if you are going to do that and you are still putting up these huge towers, 1,100 kilometres along the way and impacting 600 cabin owners or more, what Nalcor is trying to do in this situation is pay the least amount to people who are going to have the most intrusions – if they are going to be building on an easement – in terms of what their compensation will be.

When they bought that land for the cabin they have and all of the land development they have done around it and how they have set up, they certainly did not set up their viewscapes to have on the back of their property these mega towers that are going up to run electricity. That was not in the plan, how that would impact value and investment. I really question how the arbitrary panel is going to be set up to actually give fair compensation in this form.

There are going to be so many intrusions when it comes to these cabin owners, homeowners and property owners of the Crown when it comes to looking at how this legislation is impacting them. I go back and I say absolutely about looking at the berries that have been listed in the environmental impact statement. There are so many people who use the land, and if they have been picking berries and they have that security – a lot of people set up rabbit snares around their cabins and in areas.

If these transmission cables are going to go through and there is going to be spraying of harmful chemicals and herbicides there on that land, animals are going to be there eating those berries, people could be eating the berries. There are going to be advisories. How many advisories are going to be put up so people who are walking these trails and using them are going to actually see that?

We look at clause 6.(7), "Notwithstanding another provision of this Part, the creation of a statutory easement does not impede or detrimentally affect the right of the public or of a person, in accordance with the laws of the province and in a manner that does not interfere with the use and enjoyment of the statutory easement holder, to do some or all of the following". It says some or all. It does not say it is guaranteed.

The section says, "(a) access lakes, ponds or rivers on land upon which a statutory easement has been created". These types of things may be limited when it comes to angling, fishing, and having access to recreation on these waterways. "(b) access for a recreational purpose, or for other personal use, land upon which a statutory easement has been created and enter on to, exit or use the land for that purpose."

Some people may lose access that they have enjoyed in this situation. It is saying that it is not going to impede, but it says to do some or all of the following. It is not a clear commitment that they can guarantee they are going to have access.

Again, I go back to looking at food sources. It does not say anything about access for subsistence when it comes to the hunting piece or when it comes to the impacts on animals and wildlife. We have the Minister of Environment and Conservation undergoing a moose management plan, yet we have harmful chemicals and herbicides that are going to be sprayed, and advisories are going to be put up that it is going to be harmful for consumption. That is going to have an impact. It is going to have a significant impact, allowing this to go through without looking at the overall socioeconomic benefits of what it is going to mean to these cabin owners and users of the land.

We have such pristine land and enjoyment here in Newfoundland and Labrador. We are saying we are doing this project to displace Holyrood when there are other clean options to displace Holyrood that will not do as much environmental destruction as what putting an 1,100 kilometre transmission cable, damming up a river that is going to cause methylmercury and things like that, as well as cause so much harm and destruction to people who have enjoyed these areas and land we have. We have alternate means to meet our energy needs right now.

The next time I get up to speak I want to talk about some of the international agreements we are going to be looking at signing.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I recognize the hon. the Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

When I last spoke I was discussing different types of easements. What we are dealing with here is a statutory easement, one which is created by this bill which presumably will be passed by the government majority some time soon.

One thing which is noteworthy, under section 6.(4) it says, "A statutory easement grants to the holder the right to construct, maintain, repair and operate, on the land subject to the statutory easement". What they are able to construct, maintain, repair and operate, are "…transmission lines and transmission assets relating to the Muskrat Falls Project or a part of it". Where it becomes even more oppressive, it goes on to say, "…as well as a right of reasonable access over adjoining land to the land subject to the statutory easement as may be required for those purposes."

Mr. Chair, what that means is that we will have a 1,100 kilometre long easement running from Muskrat Falls to Soldiers Pond, all the way down across Labrador, all the way down through Southern Labrador, underneath the Strait of Belle Isle. Going ashore at the Strait of Belle Isle and coming all the way down from behind Brig Bay, Castors River, Bartletts Harbour, Eddies Cove West, Port au Choix, Port Saunders, Hawkes Bay.

It will come behind Hawkes Bay, through all of the cottage country. There are probably fifty or sixty, or maybe 100 buildings in there that people use. None of these buildings will be able to be used if the easement is going through. Also, any rights that have been grabbed by this bill are not to be compensated at replacement cost. They will be compensated only at fair market value. That means the absolute lowest amount that could possibly be paid is the amount that will be paid.

It goes further. What is even worse is that in addition to having that right, the statutory easement holder has a right to go over any other land along the 1,100 kilometre long stretch on either side to gain access to the easement. It says, "…as well as a right of reasonable access over adjoining land to the land subject to the statutory easement as may be required for those purposes."

That means in addition to 1,100 kilometres long, any land that is adjoining. If this company, or these companies need access to their easement – the easement is designed to only give access – if they need to drive across your property which is adjoining this property, they also have the right to go over this.

You have to consider that the land that is going to be spoiled by this is far more than the 1,100 kilometre long, sixty-metre wide strip. It could well be that they have to drive across or have their equipment go across, maybe their J5s, their Muskegs or their Bobcats, or any other piece of construction equipment that they need to get to the line they have been given the statutory easement over. If they have to go across your front lawn to get there, they can go across your front lawn.

We will come to a section in a little while which says you have no right to resort to the courts. This is a very heavy-handed piece of legislation. It is giving them the maximum property rights for the minimum compensation to the individuals who are affected, and the greatest access possible that they can get.

We have already seen, when I spoke earlier, is that this act, in the event there is – it says, "Except as otherwise provided in this Act, for the purpose of Muskrat Falls Project, this Act shall prevail over another Act of the province, and, in the case of an inconsistency between this Act and another Act of the province, this Act prevails."

It does not matter what other act we have in the Province, if there is an inconsistency, if the proponent needs to get to the land that they have been given the statutory easement over, it does not matter what any other act of the Province says they are able to apply this act over any other act. Furthermore, the Crown is bound by this act. In section 4, "This Act binds the Crown."

If we continue on, under section 6.(7) it says, "Notwithstanding" – or it could also say in spite of – "another provision of the Part, the creation of a statutory easement does not impede or detrimentally affect the right of the public or of a person, in accordance with the laws of the province and in a manner that does not interfere with the use and enjoyment of the statutory easement holder, to do some or all of the following".

Even though it says it does not affect the rights of a person to their land, it goes on to say as long as it does not interfere with the use or enjoyment of the Muskrat Falls corporations. That means it is giving with one hand and taking away with another. If you have been in a habit of using your land – it could be a vegetable patch, it could be a boathouse, it could be a wharf, it could be a driveway, or it could be a road on your property – you can continue to use that as long as it does not interfere with their use of the land they have taken.

It includes some or all of the following, "(a) access lakes, ponds or rivers on land upon which a statutory easement has been created; and (b) access for a recreational purpose, or for other personal use, land upon which a statutory easement has been created and enter on to, exit or use the land for that purpose."

Mr. Chair, this act really is full of doublespeak. It is doubletalk. You would not expect it in a bill in a progressive democracy. You would not expect it in a democracy that respects property rights of individuals. We know that in Canada we have no constitutionally entrenched property rights in this nation, unlike some other nations. We have certain Charter rights, but we have no property rights in Canada whatsoever. The drafters of this legislation seem to know the people who are being detrimentally affected by this act will have no recourse.

This is being railroaded, 1,100 kilometres long, all they way up from Muskrat Falls, down through Labrador, across the Strait of Belle Isle, all up through the Northern Peninsula, across Central Newfoundland, all through the Eastern part, and it runs right by Clarenville. I have a copy of the tentative surveys. There is half of a book full of surveys that has been provided to us. Then it comes on to the Avalon Peninsula, runs up through the Avalon Peninsula until it gets to Soldiers Pond.

It goes on to say, "Notwithstanding the Provincial Parks Act and the regulations under that Act, a statutory easement may be granted over land proclaimed to be part of the Newfoundland and Labrador T'Railway Provincial Park," – it gobbles up the T'Railway Provincial Park so they can use that – "but where a statutory easement is granted, the Newfoundland and Labrador T'Railway shall be considered to be an approved use under section 54."

This statutory easement "…may be transferred, leased, have a security interest created…". A security interest means a lien. A security interest means that a lender or other party can have the statutory easement holder sign a document and say to a bank, trust company or the investor, that we will give you a lien or a mortgage in this statutory easement.

"A statutory easement created under this Part may be transferred, leased, have a security interest created or granted with respect to it or be otherwise dealt with by a holder and the rights to the land under a statutory easement may be assigned to another holder for a term and in a manner which leaves the assignor with a reversionary interest in those rights."

Now, Mr. Chair, what that means is they can assign whatever part they want, and any part that they have not assigned reverts to them. This can revert to them. At the time when this statute comes to an end – and this is set up to come to an end, and I will get to that section when I speak again – but this will run until 2075, the next sixty-three years.

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I have no further comments at this point.

CHAIR: I recognize the Member for St. John's Centre.

MS ROGERS: Mr. Chair, I am happy to rise again to speak to Bill 60, Muskrat Falls Project Land Use and Expropriation Act.

Mr. Chair, I would like to continue where I left off; however, it is actually heartbreaking as we try to visualize that great big corridor, that sixty-metre wide corridor coming right down through our Province, right down through Labrador, right down through the Island portion. It is heartbreaking. The reason it is heartbreaking is not because it is a legacy of progress, not because it is a legacy of economic prosperity, but because it is a legacy of old thinking. It is a legacy of uncreative, non-innovative approaches to our energy problems.

When I left off, I was talking about the number of cabins and cottages that are going to be affected by this corridor.

We have not been hearing from our colleagues across the floor, the Official Opposition. We, here in the Third Party, have been speaking for a number of hours now and we have not been hearing anything at all across the floor from the Opposition in response to anything that we are raising or some of their concerns; yet, they talk about being the new energy. I am kind of thinking that the new energy is over here on this side of the floor.

I have a question, Mr. Chair. We all know what it is like to have a cottage or a cabin, or somebody in our family having one, and we know how important those spaces are. Before I continue on describing and asking everybody to imagine that great big corridor coming right down across the Province, I cannot help but think when the initial mandate was given to Ed Martin and the folks at Nalcor did they truly look, did they truly look at alternatives.

I am not talking about out there on the fringe alternatives. That is not what I am talking about at all. I am talking about alternatives that governments all over the world are taking very seriously and designing programs to facilitate in their own countries, whether it is China or Germany, in Europe or in India. We are not talking about fringe activities. We are talking about solid, science-based innovative, integrated designed systems of providing power and energy to people and to commercial and industrial customers.

We are talking about something that is real; we are talking about something that is viable. We are not talking about something that is on the fringes. We are not talking about something that is way in the future. We are talking about technology that is available now. That is available and that works. That is proven, that is effective, that is available now, and that is being used by smart governments, by smart countries, who have proven that it is effective.

I would just like to point out that I have been pointing out what is happening in Germany and I have been pointing out what is happening in China – and I know that some of my colleagues have pointed out some of the innovative technologies that are being used in some pockets in the Province, and that there is room for a lot more of it. The ones that are being used in some pockets in the Province also are very effective.

I would like to talk a little bit about what is happening in Ontario now, not so far away from us. A lot of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are living in Ontario now too. So, many of our colleagues I am sure have relatives who live in Ontario. They could even call them up or e-mail them and ask them: Have you heard of this program; how does it seem to be working?

Let me tell you a little bit about Ontario, what they are doing. Ontario has a rooftop solar installation program and it is bringing more clean electricity on line while creating good jobs for families. That is what we have been talking about here. We have been talking about not only power generation but whether or not it is going to create jobs. We know that Muskrat Falls will create some jobs, but is it the best way to create jobs?

The other thing is the cost of doing Muskrat Falls is pretty big. We know it has been up to $7.2 billion but that does not include the interest in the construction phase, which may be another $1 billion. It did not really leave very much for cost overruns, and we know the cost overruns are going to be pretty hefty. That is what is happening in hydro dam projects all over the world. The cost overruns are significant – absolutely significant. Who knows what we are talking about here? It could be $9 billion, $10 billion, or more – who knows?

AN HON. MEMBER: It could be less.

MS ROGERS: It could be less, probably not – if we were lucky, but probably not.

In Ontario now, the Ontario government is working hand in hand with Jamieson Laboratories. It is a manufacturing plant in Windsor and they are one of the largest rooftop solar projects to come on line since Ontario's Feed-in Tariff program was introduced. Now, we do not have a feed-in tariff program, and a lot of countries do. It is a shame that we do not – it is really, really a shame that we do not.

They have a project that is going to be completed and will have a total of 4,500 solar panels. Once completed, this particular little project – because this is only a little one – will generate 1.3 megawatts of clean electricity, which is enough to power 120 homes each year. That is significant. That could be a small community. I have a place in Perry's Cove and there are not that many houses there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS ROGERS: Well, there you go. They could all be powered this way. It is very clean. It is very efficient. It is very affordable. It could work. This could work for your subdivisions. During its peak construction period, this project is expected to create seventy jobs. That seventy jobs around the creation of these panels and the installation of these panels is a good thing.

The other thing is that growing the clean energy sector is really important to Ontario, as it is to Newfoundland and Labrador. We want to be able to grow our clean energy sector, but I am not so sure that Muskrat Falls is the best way to go. Maybe it is, but I am not so sure. I wish we could have more certainty about it.

Do you know Ontario is home to the largest solar projects in the country? I did not know that. It is the home to the largest solar projects in the country and it is the leading solar energy producer in Canada. Would you have known? I would not have known, Mr. Chair. I did not know that Ontario in fact is the leading solar energy producer in Canada.

Already Ontario has about 500 megawatts of solar PV capacity on line. It is almost as much as Muskrat Falls. It has about 500. It has more than 1,600 megawatts – that is over double of what Muskrat Falls – of additional solar PV capacity under contract. This is expected to produce enough electricity to power over 250,000 homes.

We do not have that many houses. In Newfoundland and Labrador we do not have that many houses. Yet, Ontario, with its solar panel energy, they will have the capacity to provide enough electricity to power over 250,000 homes. That is amazing, and you know what? What they are doing does not require a great big 1,100 kilometres, sixty-metre wide transmission corridor. It does not require it at all. That is 2,100 megawatts of power. That is amazing.

Mr. Chair, it is great to be able to bring up these examples and to think this too could happen in Newfoundland and Labrador. If we changed our thinking, if we stopped our addiction to old ways of thinking and to old technologies, this too could be Newfoundland and Labrador. What is stopping us? What is stopping us from being dragged into the twenty-first century? What is it? Why can we not also be part of this technological revolution? It is there for the taking and we too can be there.

I see my time is up there, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR (Pollard): Order, please!

MS ROGERS: I look forward to speaking again.

Thank you very much.

CHAIR: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The Chair recognizes the hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

(Inaudible) and it is a great morning in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. While I have had many opportunities in recent days to speak to Bill 61, I have not actually had an opportunity to speak to Bill 60 during Committee of the Whole. I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to rise and have a few words. To be honest, Mr. Chair, at 4:09 a.m. I did not have a lot of other things to be doing.

On a more serious note, I also wanted to rise to let the Member for St. John's Centre know - and the other members opposite - that we are listening. We have a good crew of government MHAs – well beyond the minimum number required to keep things going here in the House – who are alert, who are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed; particularly in the case of the Member for Cape St. Francis who is especially bushy-tailed, I would say, said the Chair.

We are listening. We are here listening and participating in this debate because we too on this side of the House feel these are important issues. This is a critical time in our Province, and there are incredible opportunities ahead of us as a Province.

We too on this side of the House believe in clean, green, renewable energy. We are excited about the Muskrat Falls Project, and we genuinely believe that this is the right thing to do for our future, to meet our energy needs and to grow Newfoundland and Labrador – and they can shake their heads. I respect the members opposite and their right to disagree.

AN HON. MEMBER: We never said a thing when they were speaking (inaudible).

MR. KENT: You are right. I am being reminded by one of my colleagues that we were not heckling the members opposite, but that is okay. It is okay. I am a big boy – bigger than I would like to be, actually, Mr. Chair, I can say.

This is something we really believe in. I respect the fact that members opposite are so committed to expressing their views and participating in this debate in a meaningful, genuine way that they are prepared to stay up through the night, night after night, to make their views known. I think that is respectable –

AN HON. MEMBER: It is admirable.

MR. KENT: – and admirable even. It is an important part of the democratic process.

While a handful of naysayers, a handful of – they are beyond sceptics, I would call them cynics. The folks who declare there is some kind of democratic deficit in this Province. I think they have their heads in the sand, Mr. Chair, because here we are in the middle of the night, after several nights, making sure there is no stone left unturned, making sure that we have a full and open discussion on these important pieces of legislation. This is what democracy is all about. Again, I sincerely commend the members opposite for their active participation in this debate.

The Member for St. John's Centre implied that perhaps we are not listening or we are not participating. I can assure you, Mr. Chair, and I can assure the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, that nothing could be further from the truth. We are here because we believe in what we are doing. We believe in building a better and brighter future for our children and our grandchildren.

We believe Muskrat Falls is the right project to meet our energy needs, and not just in the short term. We do have a need in the short term. By 2017 we have a need for more power in this Province but we believe in the long term for future generations, this is the right project.

Beyond the fact that this is clean, green energy and it is renewable energy, there are incredible economic and employment benefits that I have not heard members opposite talking about. I do acknowledge there are other ways to generate electricity and some of those ways are being explored right here in Newfoundland and Labrador by the Department of Natural Resources, by Nalcor Energy, and by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. We are committed to continuing to explore new technologies.

I know the Member for St. John's Centre did acknowledge that we are in fact exploring some of those technologies. I respect the fact that they feel we should be doing more of that. We have consulted the best expertise available to us to assess all of those options.

I have not heard them talk much about the economic benefits of the project we are proposing. I may have to rise a few more times between now and noon to discuss some of those benefits. Did you know we are going to see $1.9 billion in income to labour and business?

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?

MR. KENT: It is $1.9 billion in income to labour and business in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENT: That is significant, Mr. Chair. We are going to see –

MR. LANE: (Inaudible).

MR. KENT: The Member for Mount Pearl South is inquiring about the role unions will play. I can tell you this is a government that certainly has a deep respect for all workers in the Province, including unionized workers. I think our track record in that regard speaks for itself. Would you agree?

AN HON. MEMBER: Absolutely.

MR. KENT: There is great benefit for workers, particularly unionized workers, I would say, Mr. Chair. In fact, this project will generate 3,100 direct jobs, Mr. Chair, at peak employment; 1,500 direct jobs per year on average during construction across more than seventy different occupations. The first choice, the Aboriginal people and other people in Labrador are going to have the first opportunity to gain employment through this development.

We are going to see $320 million in average income benefits per year as a result of Muskrat Falls, $320 million in average income benefits per year; $290 million in tax revenue to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. All of the programs that members opposite demand cost money, Mr. Chair, and we are cognizant of that. We respect that there are great needs in this Province that need to be addressed.

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible).

MR. KENT: The Member for St. John's East is heckling. In a couple of minutes you will have an opportunity to rise and ask all kinds of questions. I hope ten minutes after that I will have an opportunity to rise and answer some of those questions, I say, Mr. Chair.

It is 9,100 person years of direct employment as a result of this project, including, Mr. Chair, 5,800 person years of employment directly in Labrador; $500 million in income to Labradorians and Labrador businesses.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENT: I know there are several members on this side of the House who recognize the great potential that exists for the people of Labrador.

This project will lead to major infrastructure improvements as well. I acknowledge that members opposite have talked about the impact of a transmission line, and it is significant. I understand the point they are trying to make but I think we should also look at the infrastructure improvements that we are going to see, particularly, for example, in the Lake Melville area. I know my colleague from Lake Melville is quite passionate about the opportunities this project will bring for the region that he represents. They are going to see upgrades to their port, the airport, to roads, to broadband, Mr. Chair.

I know there is a member opposite who is rather passionate about bringing broadband to more Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and that is a noble cause. It is something that is needed and it is something that this government has been investing in since 2003. Those are just a few economic and employment benefits that we will see as a result of Muskrat Falls.

I want to assure members opposite once again that we are here because we care. We are here because we are listening. We are here because we are genuinely interested in hearing all sides of this story. Again, I commend those who are taking the time to participate, to do their research, to express their views and to ensure that we have a full and open and informed debate. I say to the people's Assembly and the others who may not appreciate the incredible power of what we are doing here: This is democracy in action, Mr. Chair.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair recognizes the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It is certainly a pleasure again to rise and have comments on the bill that is on the table, Mr. Chair, An Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project. Mr. Chair, the last time that I spoke, I made reference to I guess you could say the land mass in relation to the transmission line as it leaves Muskrat Falls and comes down the Southern Labrador coast.

If you could take that area, Mr. Chair, from the proposed route of the grid and extending out to the Atlantic on the Southern Coast of Labrador. If you take that parcel of land and you laid it on the Island portion of our Province, the only thing that would probably be left would be a part of the Northern Peninsula. We are talking about a huge land mass when you reference it to the Island portion of our Province, but a very small land mass when you look at the size of Labrador, Mr. Chair.

The reason I would like to make reference to that land mass is to go back in history, Mr. Chair, to employment, say, prior to the construction of Goose Bay, if I may. A lot of the employment there was self-employment, Mr. Chair; everyone was, to some degree, a businessperson. The only thing is that they were beholding to merchants or entities like the Hudson Bay Company.

The relevance here, Mr. Chair, is that when you are looking at disruption of a land mass in this particular area, this is historical caribou range. Actually I think it will impact – I heard my hon. colleague talking about caribou herds on the Island. I think this proposed route will impact three caribou herds in Labrador.

One is the Red Wine caribou herd and the other one is the Mealy Mountain herd. This caribou herd is called the Mealy Mountain herd, but it does not stay on the Mealy Mountains. This herd has gone as far south as Sandwich Bay, in the Cartwright area, Mr. Chair. It is quite a range of migration even though it is not a barren-ground caribou. It is a woodland caribou herd, Mr. Chair. You are talking about a caribou herd that is protected.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Chair, all three herds are protected: the Red Wine caribou herd, the Mealy Mountain herd, and just to the west of the proposed route is the Lac Joseph caribou herd. It is the intent, and I am sure the Minister of Environment and Conservation would agree with me, that all three herds are protected. The focus of his department, Mr. Chair, is to ensure this herd is sustained.

We look at the amount of resources we put into conservation, Mr. Chair, and I think it is a very worthy cause. Just to reference the George River herd that once numbered close to 800,000 animals a very short time ago, it has now fallen to a very dangerous 22,000 caribou. We do not know what the impacts are.

The one thing that is there now that was not there fifty years ago, if you may, is the fact that on every corner of that migration route is a megaproject. Mr. Chair, in the west we have the iron ore companies. To the north we have the James Bay hydro development project. To the east we have several mines and some up and coming. To the south at one point we had a major low-level flying route. Now we have a project that is in place generating hydroelectric power.

On that same river now, Mr. Chair, we are proposing another hydro development project, which would mean the extreme southwest corner of the migration route. There are impacts that could be a potential reason for decline of this herd. Now, Mr. Chair, we are looking at another proposed route that will impact two or three more herds that are already very, very low in numbers.

I understand that the reason for this legislation is to pave the way for the transmission corridor. Yet, at the same time, we have another entity of the government across, Mr. Chair, which are doing as much as they can to ensure conservation to our wildlife. It is a bit ironic when you have a bill that is on the table, Mr. Chair, which will supersede all other legislation and allow for further impacts.

I guess I am speaking as an Aboriginal person, Mr. Chair, as a caribou harvester. It does bother me when you see megaprojects that have the potential to impact the resources that people harvest for subsistence. When you see resources such as the caribou herds that I just referenced, Mr. Chair, that are already in decline with no established point of recovery, now are subject to yet another megaproject. It is a little bit confusing to me to see the resources put into trying to save our wildlife resources.

Mr. Chair, we have resources in two departments. We have resources in Environment and Conservation and we also have resources in Justice that have the task of intervening in the wildlife populations when they reach a level that is causing concern.

Across the north when you look at the negotiation of a land claims agreement, which is the ability of Aboriginal people to look after their resources and to manage their resources, ironically it takes a megaproject to allow that to happen. I realize that the Aboriginal group in Southern Labrador, NunatuKavut, have their land claims proposal tabled, and I guess it has been tabled for quite some time.

I just have a few seconds left, but in closing – and I would like to visit this again – the Labrador Inuit, of which I am a part of, Mr. Chair, tabled their proposal. It was on the table for thirty-five years before it came to an agreement in principle. The Innu Nation with their New Dawn Agreement is in agreement in principle. Mr. Chair, they were very, very fast. It only took them twenty-nine years.

Mr. Chair, I would like to say that I would like to come back and revisit this at the next opportunity, and certainly look forward to it.

Thank you.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I recognize the Member for Mount Pearl South.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It is a pleasure for me at 4:28 in the morning to have an opportunity to say a few words. Mr. Chair, I was not planning on speaking at this time but my colleague here, the Member for Mount Pearl North, gave such an inspiring speech, I thought that I would have a few words to say myself, and I look forward to doing so.

Mr. Chair, I want to make a few comments as it relates to some of the commentary I have heard from the Third Party, the Member for The Straits – White Bay North, I believe.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Ambassador to Iceland.

MR. LANE: There you go, the Ambassador to Iceland.

Mr. Chair, the first thing I want to say is I have heard a number of, I guess, suggestions from the hon. member. As my colleague said, there is nothing wrong with people having suggestions of alternatives and so on, we certainly embrace that, but when I listen to those things I have to ask myself: Is the Member for The Straits – White Bay North the only person who might have these ideas? I wonder, would the experts at Nalcor have thought of any of these things? Would they have looked at any of these things? Then I reflect on the reports we have seen.

Mr. Chair, as I have said in the past in speaking with Mr. Martin, with Nalcor and so on, when they were looking at developing a project for Newfoundland and Labrador, they looked at a number of options. They made up a list, if you will, of possibilities, of ways that we could produce the power we needed. Of course, Mr. Chair, they looked at the Isolated Island Option. In terms of the Isolated Island Option, that included a small hydro, it included small wind as well. They looked at Muskrat Falls. They looked at LNG natural gas. They looked at wind.

Mr. Chair, there was a bunch of other things that were contemplated because I actually asked in a briefing about all of these things. I said: Did you look at things like solar? Did you look at things like wind? Did you look at things like tidal energy? We are out in the middle of the ocean and so on, these are things. They acknowledged there are other forms of energy out there that are being explored and so on.

These are things they have looked at and will continue to look at as time goes by to try to supplement our energy plans. In the meantime, based on the best information they have and the proven technology, Mr. Chair, and based on the fact that we need the power and we do not have twenty years to wait, it was determined they would recommend Muskrat Falls as the best option for Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. O'BRIEN: I say if you fell in the ocean there would be some tidal wave (inaudible).

MR. LANE: I thank the hon. Member for Gander and Minister of Municipal Affairs to be here encouraging me as I take this opportunity to speak, Mr. Chair. He has been quite the mentor. I have to say, he has been quite the mentor and quite the source of inspiration for me. It is great to have him with me here and being so attentive and listening and hanging on every word I have to say.

Mr. Chair, as I said, the experts at Nalcor, they looked at all of these options. Now, quite frankly, I have to be honest with you, I never asked the question to Mr. Martin: Did you look at wood pellets? I never asked that question. I am not quite sure if they had their minds around wood pellets as an option for us, for the Island and to provide energy to all the mines in Labrador, if wood pellets would work.

I also never asked him about shrimp shells. I have to be honest with you; I never asked him about shrimp shells either. The member opposite had talked about the option of burning shrimp shells. I am not quite sure, Mr. Chair, if they looked at those options but certainly they looked at all the others.

Now, Mr. Chair, I would suggest to you that the folks at Nalcor are experts in the industry, as well as the expertise they looked at to verify the projects; whether that be the folks at Navigant, whether it be the folks at Manitoba Hydro, Ziff Energy and so on. There were a number of companies that were involved, Mr. Chair.

I want to talk about the expert that has been put out there by the Third Party. On a number of occasions the Leader of the Third Party kept referencing this gentleman by the name of Tom Adams, of Tom Adams Energy. That is who they have touted as their expert to try to refute some of the things that have been said.

Just to solidify the fact that I did not dream the Leader of the Third Party was touting Mr. Tom Adams, I do have a Tweet, because I do follow social media, as some of you may know, every now and then. I am not really into Twitter that much, but I sort of know how to use it. I happened to have a look there – the Member for Terra Nova showed me how to use it. I was looking at his, actually.

Anyway, I had a look. There is a Twitter account and it is called Newfoundland and Labrador, @NLNDPCaucus, and on it says there was a Tweet from yesterday that said, "Now In the House @lorrainemichael talking about Tom Adams, Gordon Weil, other experts…" –

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

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for The Straits – White Bay North, on a point of order.

MR. MITCHELMORE: It is my understanding, Mr. Chair, that we are not permitted to use personal names in the House. The Member for Mount Pearl North mentioned the name of the Leader, so I ask that he withdraw those comments, please.

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl South.

MR. LANE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I am not actually pointing out anyone who is here, Mr. Chair. I am simply reading what is here. I am quoting word for word what is on the Newfoundland and Labrador NDP Caucus Twitter account. I believe I am permitted to do that. It says, "…@lorrainemichael talking about Tom Adams, Gordon –

MR. MITCHELMORE: A point of order, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Member for The Straits – White Bay North, on a point of order.

MR. MITCHELMORE: The Member for Mount Pearl South continues to state the name of a member who is here as a member in the House, and is not permitted to use personal names. I ask that he withdraw those comments. That is twice he has made those and he should do so.

MR. LANE: I will withdraw that, Mr. Chair, just to satisfy the member there.

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. LANE: Let me put it this way, just to keep the member opposite happy: @NLNDPCaucus Now in the House –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. LANE: – @Leader of the Third Party – and we know who that is – talking about Tom Adams, Gordon Weil, other experts government has dismissed.

AN HON. MEMBER: Whale (inaudible).

MR. LANE: Mr. Chair, it is very difficult to keep your composure here sometimes. We have been here a long time, pretty tired I have to admit.

AN HON. MEMBER: The whales must keep turning.

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. LANE: Yes, but the whales must keep turning as the hon. member just said.

Who is this Tom Adams, Mr. Chair?

AN HON. MEMBER: He is a very angry man.

MR. LANE: He is.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. LANE: I am running out of time, Mr. Chair, so I intend to get up again to talk about some of his quotes. In the meantime, Tom Adams – here is his bio very quickly. He calls himself, "I'm a consumer and environmental consultant specializing in electricity policy and regulation. I tweet about Canada's energy future."

This is a guy who calls himself an expert as the Leader of the Third Party has touted him to be. He has his account and when I get up again I am going to talk about some of his tweets.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair recognizes the hon. the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity to speak to Bill 60 which is basically allowing expropriation for the 1,100-kilometre transmission link.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: I want to go back to comments made earlier by the Member for Humber West. The Member for Humber West stated: Are you going to enjoy the long snowmobile trail that we are going to have by doing this 1,100-kilometre route?

I say to the Member for Humber West: We have a groomed trail system on the Northern Peninsula and throughout. The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation is well aware of that. It is a user-pay system.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: Right now, it is not affordable to keep them groomed and trailed. To look at a 1,100-kilometre system and to keep that groomed and going I would say the ratepayer or the user there is going to pay a significant amount to put in another 1,100 kilometres of unnecessary trail.

With that, there were a lot of other things talked about, Mr. Chair, from members opposite before I actually get into talking about some things.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: Mr. Chair, there is an old adage where people say: Some look at the glass as being half empty and some look at it as being half full, but an engineer looks at it as twice as big as it needs to be. If you look at Muskrat Falls, the Muskrat Falls Project is twice as big as it needs to be in terms of how it is designed right now for the fact that the ratepayer is going to be paying 100 per cent of the cost for only 40 per cent of the power. That really goes to say a lot, Mr. Chair.

I want to talk about some of the things the Member for Mount Pearl North had talked about when he talked about how much average income would come from the Muskrat Falls Project, $1.9 billion in labour and business.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: That averages $330 million in average revenues during the time it is moving forward and bringing it into scale. That is only a few years that benefit would be realized. It is at the cost of the ratepayer and there is no full economic analysis to show that, given this tight labour market, the other missed opportunities that will not be able to be looked at, the higher cost of electricity, and the adverse impacts of what is being lost.

We look at the tight labour market, and maybe the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills would like to talk about the labour market, because the labour market is very tight. We have seen things get shipped away here, most recently one of the Hebron projects. It was stated that we are going to get a $150 million payment for that. In lieu of that, we are going to get greater economic benefits because we have the cash and then we can use it to hire people to build infrastructure projects.

There are other options. If we can meet our energy needs using things like biomass, natural gas, wind, or solar at a lower cost for that 330 megawatts here on the Island, then there is really no need. There is certainly no need to pay twice as much as that half-full glass or half-empty glass is. We do not have to pay double that cost. We can invest it in infrastructure. We do not need to go too far to look across Newfoundland and Labrador and know that we need infrastructure when it comes to roads, when it comes to public buildings, when it comes to public transit, when it comes to things like a fixed link to advance transportation links, to advance ports, advance telecommunications. Those are things that are quite needed.

Now, nobody has disputed that the wood pellet option cannot work, that it cannot work to replace Holyrood to convert from the fossil fuels to using that. I want to go back; the Member for Mount Pearl South had talked about the shrimp shells and that being a bit ridiculous. Well, anaerobic digestion is being – and it is not something that is thought up or dreamed up, because I believe I have seen recently a call for proposals or interest at the Robin Hood Bay to use things like biomass, anaerobic digestion, as part of the facility.

So, these are things that can happen. NorPen, which is the regional waste disposal authority on the Great Northern Peninsula, would love to be able to do that. They would love to be able to do that with their sites, because there are enough shrimp shells. There are means to be doing anaerobic digestion to provide power. It can provide power, and it is stuff that is just going to waste otherwise – natural compost that can have greater benefits, create jobs.

Now, I am going to go back to the solar piece just for a minute or so, because the Member for St. John's Centre had talked about the amount of power that Ontario is bringing. With what it has right now it has 1,600 megawatts coming on stream, 500 megawatts currently there – that is over 2,000 megawatts; that is bigger than Gull Island, really – to power 250,000 homes. They are doing it; they are doing it to eliminate coal-fired electricity, to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan that Ontario is using is a clean energy system; it is sustainable. They have a Feed-in Tariff program that encourages local participation in Ontario's clean energy economy, creating new, green jobs. Well, this is something that Nalcor is refusing. It is refusing because it compromises the business case for Muskrat Falls. We have had this where private entities wanted to come in, municipalities wanted to come in and provide feed-in tariffs to the current hydro grid, but it was refused.

To my knowledge or to what I would think, this is going to just compromise the Muskrat Falls case. There is a real reason for having feed-in tariffs and allowing people to be participators in reducing greenhouse gases and being true masters of their own destiny when it comes to energy.

The projects are creating a supply of clean, renewable energy and completely eliminating dirty, coal-fired electricity generation. They are going to do it by 2014. They are using solar but they are also using wood pellets. They are creating a cleaner future for all generations, the ones today, tomorrow, and always.

We cannot afford to have that type of feed-in energy tariff program here and we cannot afford to have efficiency in Newfoundland and Labrador because the more we look at conserving right now, changing the tide, and reducing energy needs for local people, then the price has to go up for the cost of electricity. That is exactly what this legislation is saying. The only way to go there and ensure they have the financing and the financial market is they have to have a guaranteed rate of return from the investment and it is an excessive cost.

Why, to the Member for Humber West, would we spend $3 billion to put in this transmission link, cables, and everything to have a really exclusive snowmobile trail when we have groomed systems in Newfoundland and Labrador already that are really not affordable and that cannot be groomed? It is a user-pay system, and now we are looking at saying to the user: You have to pay $3 billion now for this, plus the other billions to generate such a small amount of electricity.

It really does not add up, Mr. Chair. A lot of people are seeing much more clearly now that there are a variety of options. Maybe members on the other side are starting to see a little more clearly that there are significant opportunities to do an integrated model to look at meeting 325 megawatts of power. That can create a lot of jobs.

Money saved from the ratepayer is money that can be spent in the economy. It is money they do not have to spend in their electricity bill that they can spend in the local economy, creating, stimulating, helping out, and helping grow our rural areas. Taking more money out of consumers' pockets in the rate of electricity does nothing to help the overall economy – it does not.

I also wanted to, if I can briefly, go to an agreement that we are looking at. This project is being rushed but I feel it is being rushed for a reason. We are currently entering the final agreement with the Canadian-European trade agreement, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, CETA.

With that, one of the requirements is looking at European ownership in public utilities and what that would mean. The trade policy committee between Canada and the EU's reservation on public utilities, the EU are standing firm on this. When it comes to how the legislation is so loosely written when it comes to proponents and options, it really opens the door where large energy firms can come in and certainly have some ownership in this and really sets up where our marketplace could be going in the future. There are a lot of concerns. A lot of concerns for the people of today and for future generations, our children and grandchildren as well.

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: I recognize the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Mr. Chair, I do not even know where to begin.

As this debate continues to unfold, I believe that the members – not of the Liberal Party, in fairness to them. I do have some concerns about some of the comments that have been made. Particularly the Member for St. Barbe who has used some pretty questionable language I think, Mr. Chair, during the debate, and particularly in some of his Tweets during the course of the debate, which I would encourage people to have a look at.

That is another story, but I believe that the members of the New Democratic Party believe some of these theories that they are putting forward without substantiating them. We have heard talk of wood pellets and shrimp shells and solar panels. I am not going to stand here and suggest that exploring alternative means of energy generation is not something that we should do. To suggest that it is the solution to meeting our great energy needs, I just think it is a little hard to accept.

The Member for The Straits – White Bay North continues to talk about how ratepayers are going to pay so much for this project, but he fails to acknowledge that Muskrat Falls, this project, will actually stabilize electricity rates for consumers in Newfoundland and Labrador for generations to come. I would ask the hon. member when he stands up next – and I suspect that will be in the next half hour or so – if he would explain what his electricity bill is currently. I would like him to tell us precisely what he pays per month and what he anticipates –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. KENT: I am being heckled by my own colleagues once again, Mr. Chair.

I would like him to explain what his electricity bill is, what it has been for the past number of years, and what he projects that it is going to be in the next number of years. Tell us a little bit about what his situation is and how he expects this project will impact his electricity bill.

The primary objective in delivering electricity to customers in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Chair, is to do so at the lowest possible cost. We have an Energy Plan that we mapped out and released back in 2007. We identified that our priority was to meet the current and future electricity needs with environmental power, with stable power, with competitively priced power to maximize the value of any surplus power with export to other markets. That is exactly what we will be able to achieve with Muskrat Falls.

Electricity demand in this Province continues to increase. It is going to increase for a number of years to come, so we need power. At some points during this debate the Member for The Straits – White Bay North has argued that Muskrat Falls is going to generate too much power. Then, several hours later, he will argue that Muskrat Falls is not going to generate enough power. Then, hours later, he will argue that the project is far too big. Several hours later he will argue that the project is far too small.

A little while ago, Mr. Chair, he spoke about the glass being half empty and then the glass being half full. I would suggest to the hon. member, and also to the Member for St. John's North that people in glasshouses should not throw stones, Mr. Chair – another piece of advice for the hon. member.

Newfoundland and Labrador residents historically have actually paid less than the Canadian average for their electricity. They will continue to do so as a result of Muskrat Falls. Do you know what is interesting? There are only three provinces in the country that have lower electricity rates than Newfoundland and Labrador today, before Muskrat Falls. We will continue to have competitive rates as a result of Muskrat Falls. Those provinces that have lower rates than Newfoundland and Labrador today – and there are only three – they have something in common.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hydro.

MR. KENT: What was that? Hydro.

AN HON. MEMBER: Shrimp shells.

MR. KENT: It is not shrimp shells, which is really hard to say at 5:00 o'clock in the morning.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hot springs.

MR. KENT: It is not hot springs. It is not solar panels.

AN HON. MEMBER: Wood pellets.

MR. KENT: It is not wood pellets. It is hydroelectric generation, Mr. Chair – hydroelectric generation.

I just think it is important at some point during the course of this debate on Bill 60 that rather than simply professing pie-in-the-sky theories without substantiating anything they are presenting – and if the best they can do and the best their leader can do is quote Tom Adams, I encourage you to check the guy out. This is the expert that is the source of some of the theories that are being presented by the NDP, check him out. I hope that my colleague from Mount Pearl South will rise again and share some of Mr. Adams wisdom.

Let me finish by sharing a few facts, actual facts that we can substantiate based on the world-class expertise that we have consulted, Mr. Chair. Muskrat Falls means long-term, stable electricity rates for generations of people in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Another piece of the NDP argument that confuses me, Mr. Chair, relates to Holyrood. I remember the folks from the party out in Holyrood protesting, it was only a year or so ago, I think. They were saying we have to shut Holyrood down. Now the same folks are arguing that we need to keep it going, we need to keep it open. It is hard to follow. If we rely on the Holyrood plant and significant amounts of oil to generate our electricity, which is what – other than wood pellets and shrimp shells – the folks opposite are advocating, then consumers are going to pay higher rates for electricity.

I suppose, Mr. Chair, if you do not have a power bill then maybe it does not matter a whole lot. In fairness, if a consumer today is paying zero dollars for electricity, then presumably down the road they will continue to pay zero dollars for electricity if they are not paying their own bill. As somebody who is very concerned about how much I am spending per month on electricity, I am convinced we need a clean, green, renewable energy source that there is a good, solid economic argument for.

At peak production the Holyrood plant is burning approximately 18,000 barrels of oil each day to meet electricity needs on the Island. Muskrat Falls, which the folks opposite – again, just a few of them. They argue that Muskrat Falls is a big, dirty, environmental catastrophe. Yet, Muskrat Falls will almost completely eliminate our reliance on oil and it will provide a clean, renewable energy source.

It is going to set the stage for Newfoundland and Labrador to manage its own energy future and its own economic future without relying on others to meet our power needs. It would be nice to think that we can rely on solar panels on everybody's houses and on windmills, on shrimp shells, and on wood pellets. I am not suggesting there is not a place for some of that. We are exploring alternative technology, new technology and emerging technology. All of that is important. Ultimately, we need a stable, reliable, renewable, clean, green source of energy, and that is what this project provides.

Do you know what? I know the arguments that are being put forth really do not have a lot to do with the economy, but Muskrat Falls will not only meet our domestic energy needs, it is going to be a revenue generator for our Province long into the future. With Muskrat Falls, Mr. Chair, Newfoundland and Labrador is going to be powered by 98 per cent clean, renewable energy. We will be a leader in carbon reduction standards, but apparently that is not the solution the NDP desires.

I am rather perplexed by some of what I continue to hear. I am listening intently. I will continue to do so for as long as it takes, but it is time to start talking sense, to deal in reality, and to talk about what this project really means and what it is really all about. I hope at some point during this debate we will also hear from the NDP something about Bill 60, which is the piece of legislation we are actually here to debate at the moment.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR (Verge): Order, please!

I recognize the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I say to the member opposite, not everyone is as blessed to have home ownership. There are a lot of people here who do not have home ownership in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Coming back to Tom Adams, Mr. Chair, the member opposite had talked about Tom Adams as our energy expert. I am not saying he is our energy expert. I want to point out for the House Mr. Adams and who he is, and to point out the background information on Mr. Adams. He is an independent energy and environmental advisor. He worked for several environmental organizations and served on the Ontario Independent Electricity Market Operator Board of Directors and the Ontario Centre for Excellence for Energy Board of Management.

If we look at what we have talked about with what Ontario is doing, they are converting their thermal plants to biomass and to wood pellets. They are looking at clean energy. They are looking at things like solar. They are adapting an immense amount of wind and doing pellets.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: Mr. Adams is a research fellow at Frontier Centre for Public Policy. He has Tom Adams Energy, the environmental and energy consulting in private practice. He has been a lecturer at the University of Toronto. He has been a Director at REAP Canada; an investigator with the Environmental Bureau of Investigation; Executive Director of Energy Probe; Senior Consultant with Borealis Energy Research Association; Independent Director of Ontario Independent Electricity Market Operator; and Research Assistant with Electricity Planning Technical Advisory Panel reviewing Ontario Hydro's demand and supply planning strategy for the Ontario Cabinet Office.

His history stems back, it is almost as old as I am, Mr. Chair. It goes back twenty-four years there in terms of work, which would give him quite an ability to call himself an electricity consultant. He has talked about Muskrat Falls as possibly being one of the biggest follies, Mr. Chair.

I find it a little disheartening as to how the government is trying to deflect some of the comments. I have made several comments here about the context of Muskrat Falls under different scenarios as to what it would mean for the people as to looking at developing at a cost that is affordable to people that does not include transmission to the Island and looking at meeting the Island needs. We only need 325 megawatts to displace Holyrood. To spend what the Member for Humber West is talking about, $3 billion for a snowmobile trail as part of the Transmission Link for that benefit, it is not making a whole lot of sense as to why we would put that.

Mr. Chair, there are so many principles to this legislation. There are reasons why we need to look at slowing down, and we need to talk about this. We should have had this debate on these two pieces of legislation before government hastily said we are going to sanction Muskrat Falls, because maybe they needed to hear some of these things we are saying, some of the things that can really make us be more innovative.

I do not see how the technology is going to be more innovative when government goes back and talks about the Energy Plan that does not have any timelines and does not have anything they guarantee they say they are going to do. There are a lot of options there, yes. Even saying up as high as 5,000 megawatts for wind, and the hydro power that is there, talking about peat, talking about tidal, talking about a number of other things. It does not show how we are going to do any of it. With these pieces of legislation, it is setting us back. It is setting the clock back.

The Member for Mount Pearl North can talk about the lower prices of electricity in other provinces because they have hydro. Those hydro projects have been paid for; it allows them to really look at diversifying now. It is unfortunate, our arrangement with the Upper Churchill agreement, because if we had that, we had it developed and paid for, it would make a huge difference to looking at developing Muskrat Falls at this stage.

The Minister of Finance has brought up other times of Bay d'Espoir and its generating capacity and what the cost is. You can see that after it is paid for, which may take a significant amount of years – and we are seeing here to pay for the Muskrat Falls Project it is going to take a significant amount of years; up to 2050 before we even see any net benefit. So those types of things are to be concerned.

For the member to say that it is going to stabilize electricity rates, there are other things that can stabilize electricity rates and make them lower. It is putting us forward to basically getting some of the highest electricity rates in the country when it comes to looking at over fifteen cents in a blended rate, when we already have a much lower rate than that.

We are not going to be competitive now and we are going to allow provinces that are really, truly looking at energy plans, like Quebec and their Plan Nord, like Ontario, like British Columbia – all of these places have energy plans. Even Alberta, looking at its immense oil resources, they have adapted a significant amount of wind and what they are going to put into the system.

Those types of things are going to make other provinces more competitive than ours. What it will force us to do is that it is just going to set up so many other social problems and economic problems for the overall economy. We will not be able to look at lowering business taxes. We already have such a labour market struggle to get those skilled workers to come in, get them to come in and actually be able to work on this project for the short term.

We are talking about people have to be mobile while they are building this project, while they are looking at putting up the transition, for years. You are talking about a really transient workforce. You are talking about how you are going to have to compensate them quite well to do this work. It is short-term benefits. What is on the horizon after Muskrat Falls, after 2017? What is going to keep the people here? The hydropower, charging people residential rates, there is going to have to be something much bigger and broader to really be that paradigm shift that is going to change Newfoundland and Labrador.

I just wanted to get up and speak to that. I will continue to raise concerns about Muskrat Falls and this legislation that is going to end up being very destructive to the environment. It is going to have economic impacts. I am not sure if the amount of trees that are going to be taken out in clearing is going to help when we look at reducing our CO2 emissions and things like that, displacing the balance of carbon, when we talk about other options we could be doing in a renewable, sustainable manner.

Once those trees are cleared they are not going to be replanted, unlike when you look at things like wood pellets and you look at doing biomass. You have a reforestation plan. You have horticulture and silviculture that is replanting trees. They are going to be constantly able to be used. Yes, they can only be burned once, but they will be able to. Once this transmission is put into play, you are going to be clearing that land.

What about the cost of maintaining that transmission over time? What about the growth of trees, damages, and different things? All of those things have to be considered. I do not see those costs. I have not seen the financial statements. Those are concerns for me.

I am going to give the opportunity, Mr. Chair, for somebody else to make some positive comments because I am sure there are members from the other side who would like to refute some of the things I have just said, as they have in the past.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl South.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Chair, it is certainly a pleasure to rise once again and to conclude the commentary I did start the last time. I want to thank the Member for The Straits – White Bay North for providing us all with a little bio there on Mr. Adams who he believes to be an expert. He is an expert in energy and I believe he said he is an expert environmentalist as well. He listed all of these credentials in terms of the environment and so on.

Mr. Chair, when we talk about our experts, we are talking about our own experts that we have at Nalcor and we are talking about the experts at Navigant, Ziff Energy, MHI, and so on. We have used very reputable experts, but let us talk about their expert for a minute, Mr. Adams.

As I said, the member already gave us a little bio on his expert. Let us see what his expert has to say. This particular expert has a blog.

AN HON. MEMBER: He has a what?

MR. LANE: He has a blog, and he also has a Twitter account. Like I said before, I am not really up on this whole Twitter thing, but I managed to figure out how to find Mr. Adams. I went into his Twitter account and let's hear some of the Tweets that this expert environmentalist had to say – the NDP's expert environmentalist. Let's see what he had to say. He is their energy expert and their environmental expert.

First of all, let's talk about wind because we have heard them talk about wind and solar. What did Mr. Adams have to say about wind and solar? The first one I have here on December 2,"…no justification for subsidies to wind and solar". That is what Mr. Adams said; a Tweet, "…no justification for subsidies to wind and solar."

Here is another one on wind and solar, "Watch your Ontario tax dollars in action, subsidizing subsidy-dependent junk generation…". Now, he is talking about solar. He is talking about wind. I assume he is talking about shrimp shells and wood pellets as well.

Listen, I am all for public-private partnerships and as my colleague said, maybe at some point in time Red Lobster may team up with Nalcor in developing some shrimp shell technology or something, but I have a feeling that would fall under this category of junk, what your expert is referring to as junk generation.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell us another one.

MR. LANE: Let's have another one. We talk about conservation. How about conservation because I have heard conservation. As an expert environmentalist for the NDP, surely he is big time into conservation, right? So what does he say about conservation? "Ontario's Smart Grid Plan = electric vehicles + pixie dust + rate increases…". Did you hear that? "Ontario Smart Grid Plan = electric vehicles + pixie dust + rate increases…".

What else do we have here? There is another one that talks about conservation. "Another refutation of the quaint idea that electricity conservation in Ontario is going to reduce power bills…". Now, this is your expert. "Another refutation of the quaint idea that electricity conservation in Ontario is going to reduce power bills…".

Here is one more. This one here is on wind power. "Ontario is lost in space, trying to create jobs out of wind, solar and other kinds of pixie dust."

MR. KENT: That bears repeating. Can you give us that one again?

MR. LANE: Yes, we are going to do it again. From Tom Adams, the NDP energy and environmental expert, "Ontario is lost in space, trying to create jobs out of wind, solar and other kinds of pixie dust."

I have another; I have two others. I have one here on November 27. In this one here he is talking about green energy. His comment is a very short comment, "Green zombies are spreading." Now, I am not making this up. I encourage the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador as they are listening to the debate, as they are listening to the Leader of the Third Party and so on talking about their expert, Mr. Tom Adams – he has a Twitter account – please go in there and check this out for yourself if you do not believe me.

Now, I have one other. First of all, there was a Tweet put out by some other general citizen. I guess he is from Ontario, I am not sure. I do not know who this guy is, but he puts out a Tweet. The Minister of Municipal Affairs should listen to this one because this is about municipalities. I have heard the Member for St. John's East talking about municipalities, saving money for municipalities, that they should have an opportunity to develop green projects to cut down on their power bills, and so on. This is actually about that.

This guy says, "Does anyone else find it weird that municipalities, whom provide clean drinking water, rent/buy culligan machines/bottles?" In other words, what he is saying is here you have a municipality with clean water yet this particular municipality he is talking about is buying bottled water. Do you find that weird?

I wonder what Mr. Adams had to say about that. Mr. Adams, the NDP energy expert and environmentalist said, "How about muni. buildings, cop shops, and schools with solar FIT putting out junk generation and paid 20X market value?" How about that? Mr. Chair, that is what Mr. Adams says.

This gets really interesting as well. I said: Who in the name of the world is conversing with this guy? Who would be conversing with this guy? I just looked to see. As I was looking at some of these Tweets and so on, I was looking to see who was conversing with him. Who was maybe re-tweeting him, who he was re-tweeting, and there were four names there. There are four names –

AN HON. MEMBER: What are the names? Lay them on us, what are the names?

MR. LANE: There are four names there that are listed. I will not get into the full name, but one there is a gentleman I think we might be familiar with, last name, Hollett. There is another one here I believe who I have heard referred to as the hon. member from the rattling bog. We have another one here, and it reminds of the banana that I just saw the hon. member there having earlier. His name rhymes with banana, Mr. Chair, and there was another name here.

Now, this is a real good one. It is a real good one, okay. What is the district? I am trying to think of the name of the district – St. Barbe. Somebody from the District of St. Barbe, who we all know very well, who happened to be up on his feet just a little while ago. Mr. Chair, these are the four names that were either conversing with or re-tweeting Mr. Adams, or Mr. Adams was re-tweeting comments they made. I found that very interesting.

Mr. Chair, I think it says it all. There is absolutely nothing I am saying here that is factually incorrect. It is public information. It is out there on Twitter. The names are there. The comments are there and so on.

Mr. Chair, it comes down to this. We talk about credibility in terms of what we are trying to do, in terms of what the folks at Nalcor are trying to do. We have experts at Nalcor who have looked at all the options and they have determined, based on their expert analysis, that Muskrat Falls is the best option for Newfoundland and Labrador. They have had that verified by Manitoba Hydro, Navigant, Ziff Energy, and so on, all credible experts in their field, Mr. Chair. I think I am going to put those experts up against the NDP experts any day, Mr. Chair.

Thank you for your time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

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

I guess it is time to get kick-started here now. I think that the Member for Mount Pearl South has just pressed the right button. Thank you very much for the opportunity.

The first thing I am going to say is that we are all in this House and we are here to talk about policy and everything like that. The one thing I have always believed in is that you can go ahead and you can challenge somebody's idea, but do not challenge a person's integrity. Tone it down when it comes to that, because I think when you are talking about a man like Tom Adams who has had twenty-four years of his own experience in the industry, you are taking him down a peg. Mr. Chair, I really shy away from that sort of thing.

When you are referring to somebody being in some sort of an imaginary political district or something like that, you are speaking to probably everybody in your own district when you are talking about making fun of somebody like that. When it comes to that, Mr. Chair, I think that we have gone off on a different tangent here.

I would just like to remind the Member for Mount Pearl South why we are here. I will quote Pierre Trudeau: It is okay to attack the idea, but it is not very good to be attacking the person.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MURPHY: I did not hear it, but let me start by attacking some of the ideas he had. One of the things he started talking about was electric vehicles. Now, already one of the members over on the government side the other day was talking about electric vehicles. There was an electric vehicle that ended up getting Car of the Year this year. Obviously, something is changing out there in the automotive industry.

He should look no further when it comes to the impact of electric vehicles and what electric vehicles can do than our own government fleet. I think at Estimates the hon. Minister of Environment, who was Transportation and Works at the time, said we have thirty-eight vehicles out there. I think that was the number of vehicles that we had, and that is a pretty bold experiment. I compliment government on going in that direction because it saves on fuel costs.

We have hybrids out there in our own fleet. We are actually dealing with that when it comes to government policy here, when it comes to fuel consumption. If he wants to attack the idea of hybrid vehicles, he should start with his own government departments over there and ask them why they are using electric vehicles, Mr. Chair.

Let's go to bottled water. He brought it up about bottled water, Mr. Chair. How many times do we see some good businesses in this Province, companies like Discovery Springs and everything, wheeling in the big bottles of water into water dispensers here in the Confederation Building? How many times do we see that? Almost every day. They have a great product. It gives us a choice where we want to get our water. It provides jobs. We still have a choice. We still use the water from the City of St. John's. We have it here, right here in the House of Assembly. I do not think it is right for him to be attacking an industry of bottled water –

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

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Member for Mount Pearl South, on a point of order.

MR. LANE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I just want to make it very clear, there have been remarks attributed to what I said that I simply did not say. For the record, I never spoke against hybrid vehicles. I never made fun of anybody. I never downed any ideas as it relates to alternative energy forms. All I simply did, Mr. Chair, was I read the Tweet word for word – not my words. So I take offence to the fact that they would be attributed to me.

CHAIR: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The Member for St. John's East, to continue.

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

I just want to bring it back, that it is okay to challenge the idea if he is to come out with a good argument to counter it, but he has not with anything that he said. Like I said, it is shocking.

Mr. Chair, to get back on track a little bit, the Member for Mount Pearl North was up on his feet a couple of minutes ago. He said a couple of beliefs in Muskrat Falls, and the whole project that we are questioning under Bill 61 and Bill 60 over the last couple of days, and we continue to do that. He called it a revenue generator. When you go ahead and you lock anybody in, you have a captured market. Well, then fine and dandy, on that end of it, it is a revenue generator, but in this day and age when we are talking the volatility of the energy markets, we have no guarantee that we are going to have a revenue generator from the US Northeast. I would just like to point that out and give him pause for thought.

When he talks about the project being 98 per cent clean when they take Holyrood offline, he forgets that under the government scheme, under the future revenue generation in this Province, we are going to be going back to thermal starting in the year 2037. We are going to be looking at thermal coming in in 2046, 2050, 2054, 2058, 2063, and again in 2066, with massive amounts of thermal under Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro's generation plans of 2010.

I would just like for him to make note of that, that while we will be taking Holyrood offline – government will be doing that. We could do it in other ways. I already explained about that the other day. Right now, the future plans are to still back up the project with Muskrat Falls. It is time for this government to realize that, yes – and we have not heard an admission from government yet, Mr. Chair, that they are still going to be dealing with thermal in the future.

We are still going to be having some problems with our carbon foot printing, in spite of the old argument: Oh, yes, they are taking Holyrood offline, and yes, it should go. Now, you heard it here. Yes, Holyrood has to go, that there is no doubt.

When it comes to managing our own economic future, Mr. Chair, I question it when we actually are going to be running a line into the US Northeast that is possibly going to be under a future court challenge under NAFTA. Because that door has been left open a little bit and we still have not had a guarantee that we are not going to be facing a court action in the future, Mr. Chair, I will say to you now, and it is probably going to be down the road in a few years time, that this government or whatever government is going to be in power are going to be facing some sort of a court challenge under reciprocity laws.

If we are allowed to ship into the US market, if we sign onto long-term contracts or – as a matter of fact, I would question about even putting it out onto the spot markets, because I would say that anybody who wants to manufacture power in the United States and wants to be looking for a market are going to be looking for some means to dump electricity into the Canadian east end of things where Muskrat Falls is really going to be mattering to a lot of people.

I would like to bring those concerns up to him. I know the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have to be thinking about that. Some people out there are thinking about the future of this Province. That is where we are going. That is the questions that we have put out there over the last little while and those are the questions that we still do not have answers to.

We already have it on record from a David Cochrane interview the other day, Mr. Chair, that the Natural Resources Minister, the former Justice Minister, has said we will deal with that problem when it comes, when it comes to the possibility of a court challenge. There are a lot of things out there. The doors are wide open. We do not know what this government is kicking the doors open to either when it comes to talking about CETA too, and what is happening with the European Union.

Now, back to expropriation – I see I have a little bit of time left. I want to come back to the expropriation rules at the same time. I want to ask the government, and I will put this question forward. When it comes to businesses, the remediation to businesses and compensation to businesses under the rules of expropriation, there is one thing – and I have been looking for it here now in the last little while.

We know it talks about the possibility of power line installations that come across people's property, but I have not seen anything as regards to the damage, for example, when it comes to adventure tourism, like tour companies and that sort of thing. For people who are looking to get tours of natural habitat, we are talking about a pristine area on the eastern side of the Northern Peninsula up there through old growth forest, that sort of thing. I am curious about compensation when it comes to compensating some of these businesses if they happen to have a loss in tourism revenue, for example, when it comes to the pipeline.

I am going to start there when it comes to remediation to businesses. We have a lot of small businesses in this Province, Mr. Chair, that the government supports, that the government has put revenue in. It has been taxpayers' money in some cases, and we are looking at getting that investment not only protected but also ensuring that small business jobs and everything are going to be protected as well.

I see that my time is up. I will leave that to the floor. I would just like to remind members, let's keep it on a policy level, attacking the idea is okay but let's not attack people.

Thank you very much.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I recognize the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

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

It is great to get up again and speak in this wide-ranging debate that we are having here for the last three or four days, whatever it is now.

I am going to talk about Churchill Falls at some point, but I just wanted to reference a few comments that have been made in this debate that has really gone from one end to the other and then comes back to the middle. I have to say, I am very disappointed in the Member for Mount Pearl South because he referenced in his speech – I have a few things here he referenced, but one of the things he said, he is not very familiar with Twitter. I thought that was kind of disappointing, because here he is now sat down next to the parliamentary secretary for the department of Twitter.

The government has come out and said – we all know the proper name is the Office of Public Engagement. Obviously, that department right now would have to be considered somewhat terrible if the Member for Mount Pearl South is not aware of Twitter. I would say to the Member for Mount Pearl North, I think you need to step up your game and make sure that your seatmate is educated on Twitter.

MR. LANE: I am learning.

MR. A. PARSONS: I know he is learning and he is up to date on blogs, apparently, but it is time for him to get up to speed on Twitter, I say.

The Office of Public Engagement is there; sure, they have two deputy ministers. I would say, look, hopefully that will be the New Year's resolution now for 2013, to make sure that the Member for Mount Pearl South gets the grasp of Twitter and knows what is on the go and avails of that valuable piece of social media.

The Member for Mount Pearl South – and I have nothing bad to say about him, because I enjoy every single time he gets up to speak. So far here in the last couple of days he has gone from the blog part to space, pixie dust, Star Trek, and I think he even mentioned zombies. I tell you, that is all over the place.

Now, I look over across and it does look somewhat like The Walking Dead; it is somewhat ‘zombieish' – and again that is a fantastic show. I think that is normal, given the amount of time we have been here. That is all I have to say about the commentary from the Member for Mount Pearl South. I enjoy it, and I say to you: You keep getting up and having your say; that is what we are here for.

I am going to take it down a notch and go back to sort of less interesting topics, something like expropriation. I am going to go back to expropriation because even though it is not interesting as green zombies and pixie dust, it is somewhat important.

One of the things that I would say is that I come back to section 13. Section 13 is one I referenced a bit earlier in that it says, "Where the Lieutenant-Governor in Council is satisfied on an application by a proponent that the proponent urgently requires the land for the purpose of Muskrat Falls Project, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may by order direct the expropriating authority to proceed with an intended expropriation without inquiry."

Then it says, "Notwithstanding section 21, within 7 days after the information referred to in subsection (2), including notice of expropriation, is served or provided, the title to the land vests in the proponent named in the notice of expropriation."

What I would say is that I understand the concept behind that. We all know that time is of the essence when it comes to Muskrat Falls and that the government needs to get that land in line in order to go to the markets, but I always have a concern when Cabinet has unfettered power to seize people's property without inquiry.

It is stated here in the briefing that obviously any land expropriated is only going to be used for the Muskrat Falls Project. It is one of those things where they are only going to take what is necessary. What I would say is that when Cabinet confers upon itself such a power, that they need to ensure that that power is exercised with the greatest discretion. What I would say is that I hope that it is taken into account and I hope that that is kept in mind.

Now, what I am going to do is I am going to come back to one issue that is brought up here in this piece of legislation. My colleague, the Member for Torngat Mountains, has discussed this here with great eloquence, and one of the concerns is the Aboriginal issues as it relates to expropriation. This is something that the department themselves explicitly mentioned in their briefing notes.

The fact is that some of the land that has to be expropriated is going to occur in areas where there are asserted Aboriginal and treaty rights. That is a very important subject. The fact is that these treaty rights are agreements that have been carefully negotiated over a period of time. Anybody's land, with the possibility of it being ceased, is an important issue; but when we talk about the treaty rights that have been negotiated, it has that extra level of importance because it was something that was negotiated between different parties. So, government has recognized that.

Government recognizes its duty to consult and will develop consultation guidelines to fulfill this duty once the route is finalized through the environmental assessment process. That is a great word when you talk about consultation. Consultation can be described in any number of ways. I mean, it is easy to say that you have consulted with someone. I could walk across and speak to a member on the opposite side and say well, I have consulted with them. I can come back and still not have changed my mind in any way, shape or form. What we need, more so than just simple consultation, is what we call meaningful consultation, which means you go to someone and have the conversation and with that conversation make an actual attempt to ensure that both sides have some say in the matter, and have some understanding as to what the concerns of each side are and make sure that each side respects the other one's point of view.

It just cannot be a case of where someone walks across and says: Oh, I have talked to you, I have consulted with you, I have done my due diligence, and I have preformed my duty – bing, bang, boom; it is done. That is not good enough. We have to ensure that government does not just say they have fulfilled consultation by talking. We have seen some disagreements over the last number of months when it comes to consultation. I will just use the Nunatsiavut Government; the members of that government have come out and said: Look, we were not exactly consulted. There is a difference in the description of the word or interpretation of the word consultation.

That is something that we have to ensure – and again, right now what we are saying is not a case of we have already developed consultation guidelines. We are not saying that it is done; we are saying we are going to do it. It has not been done. We need to ensure that not only does that get done but let's keep these things in mind that have happened in the past to ensure that the consultation guidelines are wide ranging and meaningful and done keeping these issues in mind.

One issue – and I am not going to get a chance to really delve deep into this yet, because it does have some important points that would affect a lot of areas in this Province. This is the municipal issues, as it relates to the expropriation process. I want to make sure that my understanding of these changes to the legislation – I cannot say changes, sorry – the new bill and the legislation and powers that it confers. I want to make sure that I understand the municipal issues completely as it relates to taxation, permitting, and land use. There is some discrepancy over the last week or so in relation to what we see happening through our reading of the interpretation, and what the Minister of Natural Resources thinks is going to happen. There is a little discrepancy there.

What I would say is that I will have an opportunity very shortly to delve into that. At this point, I am going to now take my seat, and I will resume this conversation upon my next opportunity.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: I recognize the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I thank the Member for Burgeo – La Poile for participating once again in the debate. He has been an active participant in the debate. In many ways, he has contributed positively to the dialogue that we have been having about these important pieces of legislation.

I take some exception to some of his sarcastic, if not derogatory, comments about our new Office of Public Engagement. I was tempted to rise on a point of order, and I did not, Mr. Chair. I acknowledge that I could have, but I chose not to. I did not want to interrupt the flow of debate, and I knew I could have an opportunity to participate at an appropriate time.

To classify public engagement and all that it encompasses as a Twitter initiative is rather offensive, because we are committed as a government to building a world-class entity within our organization that will enable all of our agencies and all of our departments to interact with the public in a more meaningful way. When I look at this government's track record since 2003, in terms of how it has engaged the public in many ways, I think that we have seen continuous improvement. Never before in our history have we had a government that is so connected and so in touch with the people of this Province.

What we have done with the new Office of Public Engagement is bring together five entities where there is some obvious synergy already in existence. Those entities are going to work together, they are going to collaborate, and they are going to interface with all of our departments and agencies to ensure we are connecting with the public in the most effective and most meaningful way possible.

We have our Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Office. We have the Strategic Partnership, which is a great initiative. It was initiated in 2002. It brings together business, labour, and government to take part in meaningful dialogue. We have the Voluntary and Non-Profit Secretariat, an initiative of our government that has really done some great work to better meet the needs of the voluntary sector. We have our Office of Youth Engagement, which is continuing the great legacy we have started to build with our Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy. Of course, the best example perhaps of all of public engagement on the part of this government: we have our Rural Secretariat, which I know the Member for Burgeo – La Poile is familiar with.

Anyway, I will quickly get back to Bill 60, Mr. Chair, before you rule me out of order. My final comment related to public engagement relates to the member's offensive comments pertaining to the public service. He made a remark about deputy ministers. You know we are a government that has great respect for all of our civil servants regardless of what capacity they serve in. We are quite proud of our new deputy minister who is already providing very effective leadership for our new office.

I just find the comments quite bothersome. Maybe it is because I have not had any sleep. I do think we should keep the sarcasm and keep some of the nonsense out of the debate. Overall I have to say the Member for Burgeo – La Poile has been a positive contributor to the discussion we are trying to have about Bill 60.

What we are dealing with here is legislation relating to land requirements for the Muskrat Falls Project. The acquisition of Crown and private land is required for the transmission infrastructure. It is necessary to have the land in place to put the transmission infrastructure in place to deliver power from Muskrat Falls to the Island portion of the Province. This is not something that we take lightly, Mr. Chair. Many years of study have been undertaken to ensure this project is developed in a way that is both environmentally sustainable and economically sustainable as well. We are committed to doing so in an environmentally responsible manner.

The acquisition of Crown land and private land is not going to start until the Labrador-Island Transmission Link, the Maritime Link and the Labrador transmission assets are released from the environmental assessment process. I know the Leader of the Third Party thinks that process is a joke. Well, we do not. We take it very seriously. The consultation we are engaged in with all stakeholders in that process is incredibly important. The Minister of Environment and Conservation is right here next to me and I know how passionate he is about ensuring that this project is an environmentally sustainable one, in every sense of the word.

Contrary to what members opposite would have you believe, most of the land required for the Muskrat Falls Project, Mr. Chair, is Crown land. In fact, approximately 99 per cent of the land required for the Labrador-Island Link and 90 per cent of the land required for the Maritime Link is Crown Land, Mr. Chair. Based on the dramatic presentations we have witnessed over the last number of hours, you would not believe that was actually the case, but I assure you it is.

The creation of a standalone lands-related piece of legislation is actually going to ensure that Nalcor has the ability to acquire the necessary land interests to advance work on the Muskrat Falls Project. Mr. Chair, a core principle of that legislation is that project proponents will acquire only the minimum interest in the land which is necessary for the project. The Province, Nalcor, and Emera will work together to achieve fair compensation packages for Crown and private land owners. This is really important to us. We want everybody in Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly those who are directly impacted by this project, to truly benefit to the greatest extent possible.

The legislation we are proposing here through Bill 60 maintains the public's right to access the land for recreational purposes or other personal uses provided it does not interfere with the project. Government can also approve other compatible uses by third parties. The legislation we are proposing, I am pleased to hear the Member for Burgeo – La Poile speak of; we did not hear the Member for The Straits - White Bay North or the Member for St. John's Centre talk much about the legislation over the last number of hours. That is what this is all about.

MR. O'BRIEN: (Inaudible).

MR. KENT: Once again the Member for Gander is heckling. I want to acknowledge the contribution the Member for Cape St. Francis is making to the debate at the present time, as well. I hear sounds of enthusiasm, Mr. Chair, for what I am saying and I want to thank him for joining the Member for Gander in his enthusiastic support of Bill 60.

Anyway, back to Bill 60, Mr. Chair. Some of the land acquisitions contemplated are going to occur in areas where there are asserted Aboriginal and treaty rights. That is also something we take very seriously. I was really pleased and encouraged to hear the Minister of Natural Resources at several points in the debate over the last number of hours talk passionately and intelligently about the work he has done in this area personally to ensure these issues are handled in a respectful, productive, and positive way. So we recognize our duty to consult, and we are developing consultation guidelines to fulfill this duty, Mr. Chair. We will continue to work with all parties involved to ensure this project is the greatest success it possibly can be.

Mr. Chair, the legislation here, Bill 60, will advance work on the Muskrat Falls Project and it is going to help move this project forward in a timely manner, and also in an efficient manner. The legislation will help to support the finance-raising process as well. This legislation, like Bill 61, needs to be passed and this legislation needs to be in place before Nalcor can advance the lending process early in 2013, which is part of the current project schedule. It is no secret. Now that we have the project sanctioned, Mr. Chair, this is the next logical step and it is an important one for us to take.

This legislation will actually signal to lenders that government is supportive of the project, which we obviously are. It also shows we are going to take the steps necessary, the responsible, planned, well-thought-out steps necessary to ensure the project's success.

So, I know my time is running out. I hope that as the morning continues I will have more opportunities to speak to Bill 60, and again I thank members opposite for their participation in the debate.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

I recognize the hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It was certainly interesting to sit back and listen to the Member for Mount Pearl, Mr. Chair, as he talked about the government's duty to consult. I would like to get into that in just a little while. The last time I spoke I talked about the land mass and historical use. I talked about that so I could talk about what I am going to talk about now, Mr. Chair, which is what I wanted to talk about in the first place.

Mr. Chair, I am just going down through the proposed corridor through Southern Labrador and I realize that from the proposed transmission route looking west, it is of no concern to this government because once you go west from the proposed corridor you are into Quebec. The government opposite has made no bones about the concern in Quebec. As a matter of fact, the whole purpose of this proposed route is to get away from Quebec.

The point I want to make here, Mr. Chair, in terms of expropriation of lands and compensation that the Member for Mount Pearl North talked about, is you are looking at physical statutory easement and or expropriation when you look at compensation as you get into the disruption of private property and the proposed route running across lands that they use. Mr. Chair, I would like to talk about traditional activity that goes on even in Southern Labrador.

Mr. Chair, I have not trapped commercially for over twenty years. The only trapping I do now is for what I need for my own use. I put off trapper education courses, but I have not trapped. It is still an ongoing activity. I guess you can call it a supplementary income activity by many people in the Lake Melville area and in Southern Labrador. They travel inland from their respective communities, Mr. Chair, hundreds of kilometres with today's technology. I heard a member opposite talking about snowmobiles. Actually, I heard a lot of talk about snowmobiles tonight. It certainly makes me think about home.

My point, Mr. Chair, is that this corridor which is, I think sixty metres wide and I am going to say half the distance in Labrador as it is on the Island portion, being some 550 kilometres that runs down through the heart of some prime trapping country in Labrador. When you look at compensation, the Member for Mount Pearl North talked about the government's obligation to give fair and equitable compensation to any disruption through the process of expropriation.

The question I would like to pose is: In your mechanism of compensation, has this government looked into the provisions of the displacement of potential income by people who live in the Lake Melville area and in Southern Labrador? Because you have marten prices that exceed $200 a pelt, Mr. Chair, and the area that is the proposed route is through prime pine marten country.

Throughout this whole legislation, Mr. Chair, I do not see any provisions for expropriation of land that will impact land users that does not contain a cabin, that does not contain a home or even a community, but it does impact people who do travel to make supplementary income. Some of them a full income off the land that is to be expropriated, and the impacts that this expropriation – which is the basis of going forward with the Muskrat Falls Project.

Are there provisions in place to compensate this component of the expropriation bill? I did not see it. I am sure that in the environmental assessment this information had to be done. It had to be done in baseline studies.

I heard many, many members in the government opposite talk about having done their homework, Mr. Chair, and I look forward to any member across the way forwarding this documentation. I would love to have a look at it because it goes back to the comments from the Member for Mount Pearl North, Mr. Chair, about the government's responsibility to consult and to compensate with all equity, in all fairness and at market value.

Just a couple of issues on that, Mr. Chair, and I do have a few minutes left. I would like to talk about the comments that came from the member opposite as he talked about the government's responsibility to Aboriginal claims in the area.

The whole purpose of this act, Mr. Chair, is to confirm and establish what compensation this government is proposing for land expropriation. Land expropriation, as I read through the legislation that is on the table, Mr. Chair, is not limited to land itself but it does apply to waterways and it also applies to tidal waters. I think these are two very important issues here.

In terms of expropriation, I would like to go back to the government's position and Nalcor's position, Mr. Chair. I brought it up several times over the last few days. I am still awaiting an answer in the process of good debate.

To maintain a position that the environment will not be affected by this proposal and to know for a fact that there will be increases in methylmercury as it goes downstream, Mr. Chair, I would like to, in the very brief time I have left, talk about some of the effects and some of the limitations. I have asked the Minister of Environment and Conservation, in the House, what mechanism will be put in place in terms of monitoring methylmercury. The answer I received was that it will be subject to Health Canada standards.

I would just like to give some information to this topic, Mr. Chair, because I think it is very important. I think it is very important to the 500 fisherpeople who harvest smelt, trout and salmon in Lake Melville from Terrington Basin to Mud Lake and down as far as Carwalla, which is just west of the community of Rigolet.

The level of mercury that occurs naturally in species of fish has an average of 0.3 parts per million. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration sets the limit for human consumption at one part per million, and that is high. That is a high standard; dangerously high, Mr. Chair.

I have run out of time, but if I do get the opportunity, Mr. Chair, I would certainly like to stand up and share some of this information. I certainly look forward to the baseline studies that had to have been done before this project was announced.

Thank you.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I recognize the Member for Mount Pearl South.

MR. LANE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Chair, it is certainly a pleasure to stand once again to speak on this bill. There are a couple of pieces I wanted to speak to. Obviously, with Bill 60, what we are talking about here is establishing a transmission corridor.

Mr. Chair, I have heard commentary – and I am not going to talk about pixie dust this time. I have heard the Member for The Straits – White Bay North and certainly the Member for St. John's Centre. They have their very strong opinions as it relates to what is necessary to establish that transmission corridor. They have very strong opinions, Mr. Chair, as it relates to wildlife. They have very strong opinions as it relates to the removal of trees and so on that is required. I know the Member for The Straits – White Bay North has very strong opinions about berries. He must have talked about berries for at least a half hour tonight, of time dedicated to talking about berries.

Now, Mr. Chair, I can appreciate where they are coming from, and I mean that in all sincerity. I spent an awful lot of time growing up out in rural Newfoundland, where my family were from, and we spent an awful lot of time picking berries, whether it be blueberries, partridgeberries, blackberries, bake apples, all that good stuff. I am an avid hunter; I love to go moose hunting, rabbit and so on.

I can certainly appreciate the great outdoors and, particularly here in Newfoundland, the tie that we do have to the environment and to our great outdoors, whether it be as I said hunting, fishing, picking berries, all that good stuff.

Mr. Chair, we have to look at, though, the fact that we do need power here in Newfoundland and Labrador. We need it. We know that we need it here for the Island, for residential, for commercial use. We also know that we are going to need it in Labrador. We have to get that power from somewhere. We have to do it in a way that makes the best sense for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, in the most efficient way we can, the most cost-effective way we can, that we can derive the greatest benefit for our people that can.

As I have said on a number of occasions when I have spoken – as have my colleagues – that we truly do believe, and again, very sincere when I say we truly do believe that Muskrat Falls is the best option for the Province. We believe the reports that we have read and the briefings we have heard from the folks at Nalcor, the reports from MHI, Navigant, and so on. We have gotten all the expert advice, we have done the due diligence, and we really believe that this is the way to go.

I think we all understand that any time, whether you are developing power, whether you are growing your municipality from a residential perspective, from a commercial perspective, from an industrial perspective, when you are developing your natural resources, when you are putting in your roads and highways and so on, I think everybody recognizes that when that happens there is no doubt about it, you cannot build a road from point A to point B through a wilderness area or whatever, or to connect a town or a city or whatever, that you are going to have to cut down trees – that is reality.

We have areas in the St. John's-Mount Pearl area and so on – we know we have a big development that is going to occur just west of Southlands, that is going to be size of Gander, we are told – wonderful. Well, right now, that is a wooded area. There are woods there, there are bogs, there are ponds, and all that kind of stuff is there.

So, we know, Mr. Chair, that as we develop these areas, as we progress as a Province, as we have new businesses coming in, whether that be commercial businesses, industrial businesses and so on, that these things are going to happen. Things are going to get built, hotels will be built, stores will be built, houses will be built, roads will be built, roads will be expanded and widened and all that kind of stuff. When you do that, you cannot have that and also, at the same time, keep all the trees and not disrupt anything in the environment.

Then you have to look at how we achieve this in a balanced, reasonable way – trying to balance the environment and those concerns with development. That is where your due diligence comes in. That is where, even in this transmission line, they have looked at environmental issues. They have looked at what are the migration patterns for caribou and so on. We have looked at that. We have looked at issues that would be around the moose population and other wildlife.

We realize that trees will have to be cut. We realize that there are ponds and lakes and waterways, and we try to militate against it as best we can by trying to ensure that we do not cut right through the middle of a lake, that we go around it as best we can. If we are going to be close to a waterway, that we use the best engineering we have and so on to try to protect against that. We realize all that. That is reasonable. I mean, that happens throughout the world. We do the best we can.

At the end of the day, without doubt, in a balanced way, there is going to be some impact on the environment. It is as simple as that. It is going to happen. I would say to the Member for The Straits – White Bay North: We still have a vast land mass here on the Island and there are lots of berries growing everywhere. There are berries growing all over the place. There are bake apples, there are blueberries, and there are partridgeberries. There are lots of ponds to go fishing in and so on, and you are still going to be able to do that. People will still have the ability to pick berries, to go fishing, to engage in outdoor activities, to go skidooing, to go out on their quads on the side roads. All that stuff that we enjoy now, they can still enjoy.

Obviously, in those particular spots where there used to be a tree or there used to be a blueberry patch, if that happens to be right in the middle of that corridor and as a result of that development you cannot pick the berries here any more, well, I guess you cannot. All you have to do is just go to a different spot. Go a little further east, a little west, a little further north, south, or whatever to move away from it and pick your berries.

If you need to pass through that corridor to get to a pond, to get to a whatever, you can do that. There is no fence; we are not fencing it off. We are not going to put up a big wire fence, like the harbour fence that we have heard in the media lately down in the harbour. We are not putting up that harbour fence right along the whole route that the power lines are going to go through to keep people out of there. That is not happening. You can walk in there, walk around it, walk under it, drive under it, whatever; you can still do all that.

I understand the passion. Again, I understand the passion. There are people who are very, very passionate about these things. I do not take that lightly; I understand that. Somewhere along the way, at least the way that I try to look at it, you have to take a reasonable, measured, balanced approach, balancing out development and I will say progress – some people would say it is not progress, but I believe it is progress. It is certainly something we need, but you have to take that balance between that and other issues, whether it is the enjoyment of the outdoors, the environment, so on.

I believe in this particular case, Mr. Chair, that the folks at Nalcor have done their due diligence, they have done their environmental assessments and so on, and they have taken, what I believe to be, a balanced approach. I do not think there is anybody here – there is nobody on this side of the House who wants to do anything to intentionally destroy our environment or intentionally destroy the way of life of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

We are all from Newfoundland and Labrador. Our children are here and our grandchildren are here. Some of us, our children are gone; but a lot of us, our children are here and our grandchildren are here. If they are not here, we want them to come back, we want to enjoy it, but we have to be able to strike a reasonable balance. That is what this government does with everything we do. I think there is nothing wrong with it. It is just being reasonable, logical stewards of the Province.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR (Pollard): Order, please!

I recognize the Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Yes, Mr. Chair, we know with this bill we are going to get rid of the Arbitration Act; the Arbitration Act does not apply. This is the only act that will apply for expropriation, for taking people's property, in order to advance the Muskrat Falls Project.

This particular statutory easement under section 7.(6) says, "Notwithstanding the date of creation of a statutory easement," – so that means no matter whatever the date of the easement was created – "all statutory easements registered under the authority of this Act shall expire on January 1, 2075…".

What do you have then? Well, you do not have the land back; you have "the land which was the subject of the statutory easement shall then be held by the holder in the same manner as land is held for the purpose of transmission assets and transmission lines at the time."

So for all the time this land will be gone, an easement will apply as a regular transmission line, but up until January 1, 2075 it will be bound by this statutory easement that is created by the Muskrat Falls Project Land Use and Expropriation Act. This can be set up – you can register a statutory easement under this in 2020, 2030, 2040, 2050, 2060, or 2070. No matter what time it was registered, it is good under this law until January 1, 2075 and then you have a regular transmission line cutting across your property.

Expropriation protocol is being established by this act, and people will need to refer to this from time to time because this is going to be an important piece of legislation for property owners in this Province for a long time to come.

Section 47 says, The Lieutenant-Governor in Council" – or the government – "shall, by regulation, establish an expropriation protocol for the purpose of expropriations under this Part, and in particular shall make regulations". So, it is mandatory that regulations are required to be made and it lists categories from (a) to (h). It lists eight separate sections that the regulations are to be created.

First of all (a) says, "respecting the procedures which may be required for negotiations respecting land sought under this Part". This expropriations protocol sets up the procedures for this land grab. Under (b) it says, "respecting the procedures for expropriations under this Part, including urgent expropriations under section 13 and the return of the land under section 27".

Section 13, with urgent expropriation, says if the Muskrat Falls, corporations, or any of the proponents including Emera, Nalcor, any of the corporations, if they say to the expropriating protocol, to the board, the new board that will be established, we need that land right now, then the land can be expropriated on seven days notice without any inquiry. Expropriation is simple, it is done, it is registered in the Registry of Deeds, and that is it.

If the land has been expropriated and the expropriation drags on for two or three or four years, or however long, if any time before they have paid compensation which is set forth in section 27, they can simply give the land back. They can say we realize we did not need it after all, or it was a mistake and we have not paid you yet, so we are just going to give you back the land. You have had your land tied up for however long it takes. You will be entitled to no compensation, other than what they may determine by this expropriation panel. You have no right to go off to court to recover compensation. You cannot sue anybody for a mistake under this act.

"(c) prescribing the information which is required to be provided respecting an agreement, expropriation or arbitration under this Part". It sets forth the information. This sort of smacks of Bill 29, when the government controls the information, they are going to control the information here as well. It is another freedom gone.

"(d) prescribing the time periods for response to a notice of expropriation required under this Part, and those other time periods respecting expropriation under this Part". This expropriations protocol will establish whatever time periods, whether it is a day, a week, a month. They have not yet decided what it will be, but the act clearly says that land can be expropriated, without inquiry, simply by serving a notice. The notice can be attached to the land. Seven days later, it becomes the property of one of the proponents.

"(e) respecting the composition of a panel of arbitration, the process by which that arbitration panel will hear and decide matters, and generally to facilitate the conduct of an arbitration between the parties." So, there is no independence. This is simply established by this government who sets up the expropriation protocol.

"(f) respecting the keeping by the expropriating authority of a register of expropriations, including the particulars required to be contained in that register". They can decide how they keep a register of what they took and what information needs to be put in the register. There is nothing that indicates that they have to make that public. There is nothing that indicates that anybody can obtain that information. It simply says that they are required to maintain a register of what they took.

"(g) respecting the rules for the payment of money into trust under this Part". If there is an issue that comes up and there is a difficulty with who should be paid for whatever they took, they simply pay the money into trust and they set up the rules for the trust.

Then there is an all-encompassing, catch-all phrase which says, "(h) generally, for the purpose and administration of this Part". It means that they can do pretty much anything. Regarding this land, they can do pretty much anything that they see fit to do.

Another issue that comes up with this particular act is if they expropriate land and they decide: Well, we do not know who the owner is. We cannot identify the owner. We know we took somebody's land. If we took somebody's land and we used it for this, that or whatever, after they have been sitting on the money for so long, and if nobody claims it, it does not go to the Crown.

In an ordinary course, if a good-faith party had obtained some property by way of expropriation, any property interests generally in a democracy such as ours, if nobody comes forth to claim it, then – in law they use a word called escheat – it escheats to the Crown. It becomes the property of the Crown and the Crown then represents all of the people of the Province. In this case, if they have acquired this land, they are required to pay a certain amount of money. If nobody claims it, the company gets to keep the money. This act permits them to hang on to the cash they should have paid to somebody. This means they got the land for nothing.

I expect that over a significant period of time, over the next fifty or sixty years, there will be significant litigation over this act. If anything, it likely will be a gold mine for lawyers if not for the individuals who have their rights violated.

Another very interesting section says under 19, "An error in a notice of expropriation does not invalidate the expropriation of the land." If they make a mistake in the notice of expropriation, if they serve notice on land, say we are going to expropriate this parcel over here, and say that is what it is, and if that happens to be a mistake, they may well expropriate that parcel over there. Mr. Chair, it is almost as if the police were to get a search warrant for one home and go kick in the door at another home, then that will be just fine. Just because they made a mistake in the notice does not mean there is anything wrong with what they did.

Well, it seems to be absolutely outrageous that we would have this type of law that we would pass. Even more importantly, because we have an Expropriations Act already in this Province, why are we not relying on tried and true legislation that we have already passed? We have passed it without being too hasty. The previous legislation has been tested. So we are going to rush off now and create another law that could cause all kinds of trouble, probably with the same outcome as if you were to expropriate a paper mill and maybe with significant consequences in the same direction.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I recognize the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Good morning, Mr. Chair.

Here at this hour, it is 6:20 o'clock just about. You are doing a fine job keeping us all in order, and it is a pleasure to speak once again to Bill 60.

Earlier this morning I was talking about megaprojects and the potential cost overruns that they have. I just want to explain that megaprojects' poor results can be contributed to a number of reasons. This is based on sound research that poor performance in megaprojects typically results in a lack of realism in the initial cost estimates.

If we go back and look at the Energy Plan of the Province that is there, it states that the Lower Churchill looks at Gull Island and Muskrat Falls, Gull Island representing over 2,000 megawatts and Muskrat Falls 824 megawatts. At that time, the cost estimates were between $6 billion and $8 billion. As you can see, today we are looking at where we are from 2007 to 2012 and the costs have ballooned significantly. The cost of doing Muskrat Falls Project would be close to $8 billion right now. That is looking at the bungalow, the small project, versus the mansion of electricity projects which is basically out of reach. If we looked at trying to do both, can you imagine what the cost would be if the original estimates were at the range listed in the Energy Plan?

Another reason that can cause poor performance is really the underestimation of the length and the cost of delays. We have seen delay after delay, and the Member for St. Barbe had just talked about other delays, possible court challenges and things that can slow down proceedings. We have seen things slowed down and slowed down on the project that certainly would increase cost.

Another thing is that contingencies are too low. We have seen many cases where people underestimate the cost of overruns. We have seen they have gone up over and over, but this one right here, for right now, with the new DG3 numbers we are estimating only 12 per cent overage. That is not very much, Mr. Chair, when you look at all the risks associated with it. The lenders are looking at all the risks, and so are the federal government, when they are saying: Well, if we are going to sign to be guarantors with the proponents, we want to make sure that we are certain to realize the investment, and that we are not going to be out here. The risk of this is quite high. Also, there is a high risk of looking at technological innovation, because we are going to be locked in for fifty years. This all can translate into significant cost increase.

One of the other points, and it gets me back to Bill 60 specifically, is that a number of megaprojects, Mr. Chair, have underestimated significantly the expropriation cost, and the safety and environmental demands of being able to implement these projects. The Member for St. Barbe had basically just talked about that in looking at increased legal costs and fees when it comes to looking at expropriation. Changing legislation, and to do it in such a way that it takes away and infringes upon people's rights of the Province and the landowners there, and to basically take away their property, could lead in many cases to legal challenges.

Now I look at Nalcor Energy's proposed route. They do not have their assessment complete when it comes to where the route is actually going to go and where it is going to be approved to go. When I asked the officials at the department of Natural Resources, they would not give me or they did not have a calculated estimate cost as to what this expropriation is going to mean. That is something that I would like to know because in megaprojects a lot of times the expropriation cost is really underestimated. Maybe someone here on the government side has that information.

When I look at the Nalcor maps that were supplied, I just need to look directly at where the transmission station is going and it crosses directly into my district. The drilling and everything that had taken place for the test wells have already been done for quite some time, Mr. Chair. They have done work there just south of Pines Cove and between Shoal Cove East.

The transmission corridor is going to run through communities in my district: Shoal Cove East, Sandy Cove, and Savage Cove directly. It is going to impact homeowners potentially there, based on what I am seeing on the map. Then it is going to cross through just back of Flower's Cove into what would be a high cabin country in my district, Mr. Chair, and a number of users back there. That is going to be a significant impact that is going to infringe on my constituents and cause them undue hardship when it comes to the luxuries they enjoy by having a cabin and the benefits they enjoy from recreation.

Most of those cabins, in many cases, are like a second home. Some of them are better than homes they have because of the time and everything that they have put into them. These cabins, these cottages that are there, are not just these tilts that sometimes we have in the woods and company camps that people would stay in, in the past. A number of these cottages or cabins, as we call them in the district, anyway, have things like satellite dishes. They are run with electricity through them using generators. They have septic supply systems – looking at the recourse of putting that in there.

I want to look at what we are talking about when we are looking at the cost of expropriating land running through that corridor, because fourteen campgrounds with a total of 1,238 campsites are within the larger regional study area. The proposed transmission corridor intersects with the International Appalachian Trail on the Great Northern Peninsula.

For forestry; the forest sector which I have talked about and advocated for, is that there are thirteen active forestry management districts, three on the Great Northern Peninsula. The corridors overlap the most on the greatest planned activity on the Great Northern Peninsula. That is going to have impacts, Mr. Chair. It is going to have impacts for the people of my district and on the Great Northern Peninsula.

When you look at mines and energy; mining has been talked about quite a bit. The Northern Peninsula has quarries and staked claims on land, and oil and gas exploration projects located in the proposed transmission corridor. You talk about expropriating the potential economic benefits in an area that currently has a fairly depressed economy. You are talking about taking away economic benefits and opportunities when we have great natural resources there. When you are talking about the forest sector, when you talk about what this is going to mean to the fishing sector, and now what it is potentially going to mean for on land oil and gas exploration projects that are there, and what it could mean overall.

As well as with agriculture, Mr. Chair, the study regions say there are bakeapple areas on the Labrador side of the Strait of Belle Isle. As well, there are certainly berries on the other side on the route.

There are commercial farms in the transmission corridor. What is that going to mean to those people who have invested and in business? Are they going to be compensated fairly and get continuous royalties for this? What is it actually going to mean in impact? I would have a lot of questions if I had a potential property that I had ownership of, or had built something, or use an area on the Great Northern Peninsula and across the Province.

If you look at the blueberry management units near the Brigus Junction, it is located near the proposed corridor. If you look at all the activities, Mr. Chair, including berry picking, mushroom foraging, wood harvesting for domestic use, plant gathering and roadside gardening, also, fishing, hunting, trapping. These are all very significant subsistence activities, especially for people in my district who are where the corridor is directly going to impact, and for a number of MHAs in this very House, where the corridor is going to go through.

It is going to impact the everyday person, the everyday user significantly. People do not realize what the impact of this expropriation of land to build such a large transmission corridor is going to mean. We do not even have the cost. We are looking at passing legislation here and the government is not willing to provide the estimated cost of this proposal. I say it is preposterous, Mr. Chair, it certainly is.

There are a lot other things. There are a lot of unanswered questions which we need to have answered before we can vote on this piece of legislation. I am certainly willing to speak time and time again until someone from the government side answers my questions.

I see my time is expired, Mr. Chair, so I will take my seat.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I recognize the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I find it concerning that the Member for The Straits – White Bay North would leave the people of the Province with the impression that we do not take the needs and concerns of landowner's seriously. I have spoken previously to this bill and I have outlined a number of ways in which we are going to engage and consult with those affected to ensure they are treated reasonably and fairly and respectfully through the course of this process.

The challenge we have here, Mr. Chair, is that the current legislation is not compatible with project requirements related to land and interest in lands. When I look at the current provincial laws, they were primarily designed to deal with land issues on a local basis and they do not really contemplate dealing with a project of this scale. For instance, under the current legislation that is in place today easements cannot be mortgaged or leased, which Nalcor has already told us is necessary for project financing.

I know some people out there are probably wondering, why establish a new piece of legislation? Why can't we just simply make changes to current legislation? There are a number of reasons for that. Again, the current legislation is not compatible with project requirements. For that reason we need to take a different approach here.

The land related requirements for the project are unique and not required for general application, I would suggest, Mr. Chair. So rather than making multiple amendments to a whole bunch of statutes, government has decided to create a single statute to address the land related issues for the project.

As well, amendments to the Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, the Energy Corporation Act and the Hydro Corporation Act, 2007, that pertain to financing requirements for the project are also required, which is what we have been trying to deal with through Bill 61. Any additional legislative measures specific to the project are going to be introduced as required in future sessions of the House of Assembly.

The legislation we are dealing with here, which the Member for The Straits – White Bay North seems to be suggesting as inappropriate or irresponsible in some way – and I cannot, for the life of me, understand why he would suggest such things. I am not sure what any of it has to do with mushroom foraging, but I am sure as the morning goes on we will hear more about that as well. I am interested in hearing more about the member's experiences with mushrooms, and I am sure we will hear more as the morning unfolds.

The legislation we are dealing with here supports the advancement of Muskrat Falls. It is necessary legislation to move this project forward. Nalcor has told us that this bill is necessary in order to present the strongest possible case when financial markets are approached early in 2013. That will help us meet a key requirement of the financing process once it gets underway.

The legislation applies to the land interests that are required for the entire project, Mr. Chair. The generation plant and transmission connections to Churchill Falls have already been released from environmental assessment. The legislation does not impact the ongoing environmental assessment processes. The legislation will apply to these transmission projects once those environmental assessment processes are completed, Mr. Chair.

By introducing the bill now, by introducing this legislation at this time, it provides certainty, Mr. Chair, to the proponents with respect to land acquisition. It is going to prevent unnecessary delays once the transmission projects are released from the environmental process.

I know certain members opposite would suggest that delays are a good thing. That we should just delay progress inevitably, or halt progress all together. Well, I know that is not acceptable to the majority of people in this Province.

The Member for The Straits – White Bay North has raised a number of concerns around transmission corridors. I want to remind members of this House, and I want to remind the public as well, that the proposed transmission corridors are going to run parallel to existing transmission corridors wherever possible, to the greatest extent possible.

In terms of the acquisition of property; property interests acquired are going to be the minimum interest necessary for the project. It could range all the way from simply permission to occupy, all the way to total ownership. There is the full spectrum there, Mr. Chair.

The equipment that is necessary for the use and operation of the transmission system includes equipment that is located outside of the transmission line corridors. Just to give you some examples of what that equipment could include, it could include converter stations, switchyard or terminal stations, and also electrolines. This is standard practice for utility transmission line systems.

I know the Member for The Straits – White Bay North spoke extensively about privately-owned properties and how they are going to be impacted. He has talked about homeowners and cabin owners and how they will potentially be impacted. That is obviously something we have given a lot of consideration to. We are going to work with Nalcor and Emera to ensure that any property owner affected is treated fairly, and treated respectfully through this process.

In talking to Nalcor, we have concluded they anticipate that ownership or easement rights are required for approximately fifty to sixty privately-owned properties for the Labrador-Island Link. That includes approximately five houses in Sunnyside, Chapel Arm and Blaketown, and approximately five cabins that are located near Goulds, Big Pond and Witless Bay Line. Five houses in Sunnyside, Chapel Arm, Blaketown, and five cabins located near Goulds, Big Pond, and the Witless Bay Line.

Nalcor also advises that ownership or easement rights are required for approximately 100 privately-owned properties for the Maritime Link. Emera does not foresee any homes or cabins being required for the Maritime Link at this point in time, Mr. Chair.

I would remind hon. members, the Labrador-Island Link and the Maritime Link are undergoing separate environmental assessment processes. The exact route and the number of properties to be acquired will not really be determined until the projects are released from those processes.

As I believe I touched on a little earlier, Mr. Chair, we have also determined that approximately 90 per cent of the land required for the Maritime Link is Crown land, and 99 per cent of the land required for the Labrador-Island Link is Crown land. Therefore, the impact on private property owners is rather minimal.

I am hearing some enthusiasm once again, and it comes from the hon. Member for Gander, Mr. Chair. I want to thank him for his active participation in this debate. I am noting some enthusiasm from the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island, so I want to thank him as well for taking part in the debate. My French friend, who has one of the best accents I have ever heard, Mr. Chair, the Member for Port au Port, I want to thank him as well for enthusiastically cheering me on at 6:37 a.m.

There has been some talk about Emera, and Emera's interest in the land that is being acquired. Some people have wondered: How long does Emera retain an interest in the land acquired? The answer is for thirty-five years after first power. After that time the land interest reverts to Nalcor, Mr. Chair. Nalcor, of course, is owned by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

There has been some talk as well, and some good questions raised from members opposite related to potential impact on national parks, provincial parks, wildlife and ecological reserves, or other sensitive areas. This is something that is obviously really important to us from an environmental point of view.

I note that the Minister of Environment continues to listen intently as the debate continues. He has been here for a long, long time. I appreciate the fact that on such an important piece of legislation that he is taking such an active interest, though that is no surprise to me or members on this side of the House.

The exact route will not be determined until those environmental processes are completed. Nalcor does advise that the route will likely intersect with the Newfoundland and Labrador T'Railway Provincial Park. The legislation specifies that the T'Railway is an approved use consistent with the proponent's statutory easement rights. Other routing issues are going to be deal with, Mr. Chair. That is being dealt with as part of these ongoing processes that we are going through.

As you can see, these are issues that we have taken quite seriously. We have considered the impact of expropriation on all property owners. So, yes, interest in private land is going to be required for the project. That is absolutely true, but most of the land that is required for the project is Crown land; 99 per cent of the land required for the Labrador-Island Link is Crown land, 90 per cent of the land required for the Maritime Link is Crown land.

First and foremost, we will try to negotiate an agreement with the landowner that is fair to both parties. If a negotiated agreement cannot be reached, which would be unfortunate – we will do our best to reach a negotiated conclusion, but, if not, government will have to expropriate the property in order for the project to proceed. We want to do that as infrequently as possible, Mr. Chair.

This is where we are. These are important issues. I thank the member for his questions, and I hope that we will stay focused on the facts as the debate continues here this morning.

As I conclude my comments, I just want to say good morning to all my colleagues. I also want to do a little shout out. If I could ask for leave for just a moment to give a shout out to a canine friend of mine who I have gotten to know quite well through this debate. He is a fine dog named, Socks. Of course, props are not permitted in this House, so I am not able to give you a sense of who Socks is and the kind of dog he is, and how important he is in my life, Mr. Chair, but I hope in a less formal point in House proceedings, I hope to be able to share more about Socks with my hon. colleagues.

At this point, I will wish you a good morning, Mr. Chair, and I will take my seat.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair recognizes the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

MR. A. PARSONS: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chair.

Top of the morning to everybody here.

MR. KENT: And Socks.

MR. A. PARSONS: And to Socks, wherever Socks may be.

It is a pleasure to stand up and speak to this. I think we are doing a fine job of keeping the issues alive here. Hopefully, I can stick to the facts as it relates to Bill 60, one of the enabling pieces of legislation needed to make Muskrat Falls happen, even post-sanction.

I want to move forward in my progression through the bill that I have here, Bill 60. I have been going through the legislation and speaking to the different aspects of it. One of them is Part III, Municipal Taxation. I thought what I would do, to make sure I do this justice, is go through the legislation. There are only six sections that deal with municipal taxation, so I will go through the sections. I know it is hard to tame your excitement as I read through legislation at 6:42 a.m., but I feel it is necessary. Then what I will do is get into my opinions and some commentary on the legislation as I see it.

The first part, we talk about what is defined as real property. Real property is defined the Municipalities Act, 1999 if you go to (s) in the Municipalities Act. Part of the whole process we talked about is that there are multiple pieces of legislation you have to refer to that are referred to in this.

Real property, in case there is anybody out there who did not know, means: "(i) land or an interest arising from land, and includes land under water, (ii) land and buildings, structures, improvements, building service systems and storage facilities and fixtures erected or placed upon, in, over or under land or affixed to land, (iii) a building that is erected on land under a lease, licence or permit, but does not include the land upon which the building is erected, and (iv) a mobile home". Now that we know what real property is, we know what we are dealing with here.

The next part we go into is, "Where a real property tax is imposed by an Act of the province for the benefit of a municipality" – so basically a town tax – "and a holder is liable to pay that tax, the holder shall pay the tax in accordance with that Act." What it is saying is if there is an applicable tax as it relates to real property owned by one of the holders as it is defined in this piece of legislation, they are liable.

Here is where we get into the next section: Notwithstanding that previous section I just went through, "a holder is exempt from municipal taxation with respect to the following real property in relation…" –

MR. MURPHY: A point of order.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for St. John's East, on a point of order.

MR. MURPHY: I can appreciate, Mr. Chair, that everybody is tired here. In the interest of decorum, we have members here who are asleep in their chairs. We have members with their jackets off and no ties on.

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

MR. MURPHY: I am asking the Clerk of the House and the Sergeant-at-Arms to express a little bit of enforcement when it comes to the decorum rules of the House. It is getting to be a bit much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

I recognize the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I just want to speak to the point of order. The debate has been ongoing for quite some time. I have been in the House now I guess ten years, Mr. Chair. At different levels of the day, at different times of the day, different hours of the morning and night and so on, a lot of strange things and funny things happen here in the House. Mr. Chair, just let me say I am totally disgusted and totally disappointed with the comments just made by the member opposite.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Chair, of all my years in the House, I have never seen the like. I think the member should apologize and withdraw his comments.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair has already ruled on the point of order.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

I recognize the hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

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

I will continue on with my discussion on municipal taxation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Chair, just for the record I noticed my time is reset. I do not know, am I okay?

AN HON. MEMBER: Take all the time you want.

MR. A. PARSONS: Okay. I only do that because I would not want somebody to say it was two people in a row.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. A. PARSONS: I will continue on and I will talk about municipal taxation which I have gotten through points 48 and 49. What I was talking about is the fact that we are saying that property taxes imposed by an act, but we are also saying that notwithstanding that a holder, so somebody who is owning the real property, "is exempt from municipal taxation with respect to the following real property in relation to the Muskrat Falls Project only".

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. A. PARSONS: I am going to go back here because there has been some confusion in the past couple of days over the interpretation of this particular section. What it is saying is, "Notwithstanding subsection (1), a holder is exempt from" – so a holder will not pay – "municipal taxation with respect to the following real property in relation to the Muskrat Falls Project only: "(a) real property of the holder in the transmission corridor; (b) transmission assets on, under or connected to real property in the transmission corridor; and" –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. A. PARSONS: "(c) other transmissions assets as may be prescribed in the regulations, but the holder's liability to pay tax referred to in subsection (1) is otherwise unaffected."

My interpretation of that, Mr. Chair, is that if I owned the real property, so again one of the subsidiaries or somebody, Nalcor, government, et cetera, is going to expropriate property and they are going to own property that is in the transmission corridor and that is property on which the substations or whatever are going to be –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

I know all members are bubbling over with Christmas cheer, I also recognize that you are sleep deprived as well, but I urge all members to co-operate.

Thank you.

I recognize the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

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

What we are saying is that if somebody does indeed own or hold real property – that is the 1,100 kilometres that is be expropriated – they are actually exempt from real property tax if it falls within the municipality, so they will not have to pay that tax. I am not sure how much of this is actually going to be affected by municipal taxation or not, but I think it could be an issue down the road because, really, it is revenues that should be paid.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. A. PARSONS: I am going to continue on with my discussion. I know the Chair is interested in what I am saying here and this very important time, 6:49 a.m.

When we move on to section 50, which is a business or commercial tax, what is says is, "Where a business or commercial tax is imposed by an Act of the province for the benefit of a municipality and a holder is liable to pay that tax, a holder shall pay the tax…". So, first we are dealing with municipal taxation and now we are dealing with business tax.

Subsection (2) says, "Notwithstanding subsection (1), a holder is exempt from taxation referred to in that subsection with respect to the transmission corridor or the transmission lines where the exclusive operation of the holder in the transmission corridor or in respect to the transmission line is the transmission of electrical energy with respect to the Muskrat Falls Project, but the holder's liability to pay tax referred to in subsection (1) is otherwise unaffected."

So, what I would say there is that if I am the holder, if I have gone out and expropriated that property and that property is a part of the transmission corridor, whether that be land on which there is a tower or land on which there is an asset –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. A. PARSONS: What I would say there is that if this property – again, there is so much that is going to fall on Crown land, whether it is up in Labrador or whether it is down in the Province, but some of this may fall within a municipality. If that is the case –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

Thank you for your co-operation.

The hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

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

My concern is that depending on where the line goes – and I think according to the Member for Mount Pearl North, once the environmental assessment is completed we will know exactly where that is going to fall – there could be a significant concern as it relates to revenues that are supposed to go to a municipality, whether it is a business tax or municipal tax, that they may not get because Nalcor now owns that property and had to expropriate that property. That is a situation that is a concern. I look forward to seeing what comes out of this down the road.

When you move on to 51, Mr. Chair –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR (Verge): Order, please!

MR. A. PARSONS: – "Where water or sewage or water and sewage tax is imposed by an Act of the province for the benefit of a municipality…" they have to "…pay that tax in accordance with that Act." Here is the change, in subsection (2) of section 51: "Nothing in this Act affects the ability to impose a tax under an Act… or the liability to pay that tax where a service referred to in subsection (1) is provided to a holder."

What we are saying is that your water and sewer, the holder still has to pay that. Whatever is owing under those different taxes – and these are necessary because that is a service that is being provided. In that case the holder, be it Nalcor, a subsidiary, government, or whoever, has to pay that.

What we are moving onto next is section 52 and section 53. What we are dealing with here is, "Notwithstanding another Act of the province, where a statutory easement has been registered under this Act, a landowner is not liable to pay tax to a municipality as a result of a residual interest in the land which is the subject of a statutory easement."

This is an interesting one, now, section 53.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. A. PARSONS: What that says is "The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may by order direct that subsection 49(2) or 50(2) no longer applies to a holder." I am wondering in what situation that will apply. It is a very interesting situation here.

What I would say is I think it has to be noted on the record that I believe the Minister of Natural Resources said at some point in the House of Assembly during Question Period this week that the new bill – I think actually what the minister said was no, these landholders now after the expropriation happens will have to pay tax. I think he misinterpreted the legislation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. A. PARSONS: Our interpretation of this section, as I have just read –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

I have recognized the Member for Burgeo – La Poile. He has some time left on the clock.

The hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

MR. A. PARSONS: There are certainly no worries. We probably have a couple hours left here and I will get an opportunity to keep speaking. I understand that the temperature rises. Do not worry, I am still getting on my feet and saying my piece. Do not anybody worry about it. It is not an issue. I will continue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. PARSONS: What I would say is I think we need – and maybe at some point the minister or some member of the government could rise, answer my concern on that, and maybe confirm whether my interpretation of the legislation is correct or not. The Member for Mount Pearl North has been listening to what we have had to say and he has been getting up and answering some. That is my question now: Is my interpretation of the Municipal Taxation section correct or is it not correct? At some point, somebody will answer it. It might not be right now, but that is my question. The Minister of Natural Resources said that was not the case.

The whole point here is let us get the facts out on the record and make sure we know what we are getting into. That is the whole point. I only have a few seconds left here to this session, but what I would say is, look, we have a new piece of law and this new piece of law is new to all of us. We need to make sure the interpretation is correct. It does not matter whether you are government or Opposition. The fact is it is new to all of us.

Let us make sure we know what we are getting into. Whether we know the full impact and implications of legislation that is being passed, we are putting the concerns out there, and at some point we will get the answers. I appreciate the members will endeavour to answer.

On that note, Mr. Chair, I will take my seat.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

I recognize the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It is certainly good to know our side is alive and well. We have been here now straight since Tuesday at 1:30 o'clock. The House has taken on a life of its own, Mr. Chair. It has its ups and downs, and highs and lows. People get tired, people come awake, and people take time off. I guess it will probably be about twenty hours before I leave today. I have seen a changeover of members here today, Mr. Chair. I have seen people from every side of the House take breaks, go home, relax, have a rest, and come back again, but everybody has been represented, Mr. Chair. We have had some very robust debates in the last number of days. At times, as a matter of fact, it almost gets out of hand, and people are tired, edgy, and one thing or another, Mr. Chair.

I have been in politics now – for me I think it is my tenth year. I look around this House, Mr. Chair, and I see people in this House who have been around a long time, on both sides of the House. I see people with an awful lot of experience in this House. I know there is one colleague here, the Member for Harbour Main, who was elected in 1999.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: He has been around a long time. I look at a number of colleagues here who were elected in 2003. They have been through the ropes. They know quite a bit about being in Parliament and parliamentarians, how to behave, how not to behave, and how to react. There are times, Mr. Chair, we all lose our cool, sure we do, but we do the honourable thing.

I have been involved in politics most of my life in some form or another. I organized in politics. I am a student of politics; I am a history-political buff to some degree. I worked for a federal MP, Mr. Chair, which involved watching all kinds of issues in federal Parliament. I have been a parliamentarian here for ten years and, please God, who knows how long if the people decide for me to stay.

What I witnessed a few minutes ago, Mr. Chair, probably because people are listening outside or people are getting out of bed, I am not sure the reason. I did not think that the character of this member would do such a thing, Mr. Chair.

MR. KENT: I will tell you the reason: cheap opportunism.

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. FRENCH: What I witnessed was someone stand in this House and try to malign other parliamentarians and other members of the House, Mr. Chair. Let me assure you that is not called for in this House. I have been around a long time. I think it is absolutely ridiculous. I am disgusted.

Mr. Chair, I can assure you that if this House was full of members now, and the experience that I can think about who have walked through the doors of these hallowed halls, they would be absolutely disgusted, and of all political stripes. Not just political stripes of this party, but the political stripes of the people opposite and even political stripes of the Third Party, Mr. Chair. I think back to some people who had longstanding memberships in this House. I think it is absolutely ridiculous, and as lowball as you can possibly get, the way that member just behaved.

Mr. Chair, since we got to that topic, now I am going to go back to the debate obviously. We are here talking about Muskrat Falls.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: It is appropriate, Mr. Chair, that we now discuss how some members stand in this House. Mr. Chair, we are talking about a place in Holyrood that I grew up around. It is in Seal Cove actually, the Seal Cove-Holyrood boundary if you will, now represented by the Member for Harbour Main. At one time I used to be the representative for there.

Mr. Chair, the ironic thing about this area is that there are a lot of people who have moved into this area over the last number of years. So much so, Mr. Chair, that the people who have moved into this catchment area are members of this House, who represent St. John's East but live in that end of now Conception Bay South and Holyrood. Mr. Chair, the amazing part about it, this person happens to be the Environment critic who is against greenhouse gas emissions, who would do anything to save one ounce of greenhouse gasses. Now, this is the person we are talking about who is behaving like they behaved today in this House.

Now, Mr. Chair, he is going to vote against Muskrat Falls. He is going to vote against it, yet he lives in the neighbourhood where the emissions in Holyrood spew out. Mr. Chair, let me just tell the neighbours of the hon. Member for St. John's East, his neighbours, what he voted against and will continue to vote against.

Mr. Chair, this plant, one of the key factors is it burns 18,000 barrels of oil per day. Can you imagine the greenhouse gas emissions, and the neighbours in that neighbourhood what they see and the emissions that flow out? Well, one of their neighbours wants to keep that going. Mr. Chair, that is hard to imagine.

Mr. Chair, I lived in that area my whole life, and I can assure you I have never met a man, a woman, or a child, grandparent, relative, neighbour, who lived in that whole area of Conception Bay South, Holyrood, Avondale, Conception Harbour, Colliers, Kitchuses, all up the bay, even Port de Grave and Bay Roberts, people on Bell Island – I have never met a person, not one, who did not want to see that shut down, Mr. Chair.

However, there is a person in this House, Mr. Chair, who lives in our neighbourhood – and I say that with all sincerity – who wants to keep it going. Now, Mr. Chair, that is disgraceful. That is absolutely disgraceful. Somebody who can see what is coming out of that – I have personally visited houses in that area many times where their decks were covered with soot, the kids' bikes were covered with particulate matter - as well, people's barbecues and people's roofs.

Just two weeks ago, three weeks ago, I had a call from a friend of mine who had experienced – I will call it, for lack of a better word – a backfire at the plant and everything was covered in ash. Mr. Chair, they say that what you can see is not the dangerous stuff. The dangerous stuff is the things you cannot see.

Mr. Chair, when a member of this House stands up, who lives in that neighbourhood, and the best thing he can talk about during a Muskrat debate is if somebody is nodding off in this House, that is what you are dealing with in this House, with such a serious issue on the table as Muskrat Falls. Now we are talking about the line that is going to hook up the people of the Province, and the best thing they can talk about – the Member for St. John's East has been crying for a debate.

They have been telling us for months they are going to filibuster; they are so excited about it. The best thing they can come up with this morning, the member of the Third Party, the Member for St. John's East who now lives in the third biggest polluter in this country, the best thing he can come up with in debate this morning is that he sees someone nodding off. Mr. Chair, that is an absolute disgrace.

I say to the hon. member, maybe he should go home and have a rest himself and then when he thinks about what he did, to come back and sincerely apologize. Mr. Chair, we do not always get along in this House, believe it or not, and we are confrontational quite a bit. We are confrontational all the time. Do you know what, Mr. Chair? At the end of the day we agree to disagree and we are colleagues. We are colleagues of the House of Assembly. You never take it to a personal level; you keep it to the issue. In this case here it is Muskrat Falls, and I say to the Member for St. John's East, it is time for you to stick to the issue.

Let's talk about the emissions coming out of Holyrood. Let's talk about it, Mr. Chair. The Member for St. John's East is talking about green energy and electric cars. He wants to do everything. I say to him, protect your neighbours. Look after the health of your neighbours and vote in favour of Muskrat Falls. It would be the equivalent of taking 300,000 cars off the road.

By approving Muskrat Falls, the Member for St. John's East will be freeing his neighbours of 1 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. By voting for Muskrat Falls, the Member for St. John's East will be freeing Atlantic Canada from 1.2 million tons. If the Member for St. John's East protects his neighbours, protects the people of Atlantic Canada, and protects the people of North America, Mr. Chair, he will be removing 2 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

I say to the hon. member, stop being small, apologize to your parliamentarian colleagues in this House. Talk about the real issue here, which is Muskrat Falls, which is looking after the health of the people of our neighbourhood, his neighbourhood, my neighbourhood, and the people of the Province, Mr. Chair. Do the honourable thing, support Muskrat Falls and stick to the issue at hand.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

I recognize the Member for St. John's East.

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

I will not be apologizing for addressing decorum in this House. It may be all right for some members to think that it is okay for nodding off. I do not mind that, somebody's head nodding off for a second, Mr. Chair, but –

CHAIR: Order, please!

I say to the member, he stood on a point of order. The Chair ruled there was no point of order. There will be no further discussion on the point of order. If the member wants to go ahead and talk about the bill at hand, go right ahead.

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

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

I will address the bill. I got a little bit carried away when the Member for Conception Bay South stood up and still asked me to apologize, which will not be happening.

Mr. Chair, as regards to the bill at hand and what the Member for Conception Bay South was saying with me not wanting to shut down Holyrood, I am already on record as saying that I am fully in favour of shutting down Holyrood. I live under the stacks and I told government –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MURPHY: – what they could be doing with alternative forms of energy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MURPHY: I told them about conservation measures they could have been carrying on with over the years, Mr. Chair. They have been in power for nine years. They could have carried on with other programming that would have addressed what was coming out of Holyrood ages ago.

Mr. Chair, as regards to the bill at hand –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Member for St. John's East has been recognized. I would ask all members now for their co-operation.

The Member for St. John's East.

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

To get back to the bill at hand, I want to address something about the particular environmental issues when it comes to Bill 60. As we know, they are going to be clearing away a sixty-metre wide laneway which is going to be something in the order of 1,100 to 1,200 kilometres long.

As we know, just looking at the impacts, maybe it does not sound big that these wires and cables are going to be doing too much of an impact. There are a couple of things that came to mind when we were talking about the fact that they are going to be doing a lot of clearing and a lot of expropriation of lands. The couple of things that came to mind were simple in this regard.

I kept on asking myself: When they are clearing land, how are they going to maintain the clearance of the land? The thing that came to mind was the use of Agent Orange and the use of pesticides. One of the things we have been seeing as regards the roadside clearing of brush and such has been government's use of pesticides, namely Agent Orange, which is a combination of a couple of chemicals, namely 2,4-D and Tordon 101, and Picloram is another chemical that is in there, some of which are cancer causing. We are talking about taking these chemicals and putting them into the environment.

The transmission lines are probably going to be there for a long, long time. No doubt the government and the proprietors of the project are probably thinking about the long-term maintenance of these lines. At the same time, they are going to be dumping these toxic chemicals into the environment, probably year after year, Mr. Chair. As we go along and as the project ages, we know we are going to be dumping more chemicals on top of it.

Mr. Chair, I have been dealing with the chemical issue. We already know that roadside clearing is better done by brush cutting. We know the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have already been speaking out about the use of toxic chemicals, namely Tordon 101 and 2,4-D, which are banned chemicals that the government has already put under ban.

Mr. Chair, as you know, I have stood up in this House several times with representation from the people of Newfoundland and Labrador when it comes to the use of these chemicals. There is a concern amongst the population that these chemicals are probably going to be used in order to maintain the laneways, the thoroughfare if you will, of the lines in question. I wanted to bring that point forward as regards to that.

Is government considering under the Muskrat Falls Project the use of chemicals? As we know, as I just said, the use of chemicals is not good. We know how long it stands in the environment. We know some of these chemicals do not degrade at all over the lifetime they are going to be in the water systems and everything. It is all going to leech in and we know it is going to cause a problem in the future.

Some of these chemicals are cancer causing, Mr. Chair. They have to be a concern. I wanted to bring that particular point forward as regards the use of roadside chemicals and their alternative uses and what is going to be happening when it comes to the power lines themselves. We are talking 1,200 kilometres of lines. The Member for Mount Pearl North already got up and talked about when these lines are cleared everybody is going to be able to go in and berry pick and all that sort of stuff. Mr. Chair, I think berry picking and the use of these chemicals year after year is probably going to be – well I just would not go there. It is kind of dangerous and it is probably not a very good sign for the future.

As regards to the route that it is going to take on the Northern Peninsula, it is going to be coming down through some very old growth forest. It is pretty much pristine; we know it is Crown so maybe it is not going to be a problem as regards to private property owners on one side of the peninsula in some of the more remote areas.

I am just wondering about when these lines get a little bit closer to communities as regards to the old growth forest that is nearby. A little bit of a concern there as regards to the wildlife that might be around there. The other thing that I keep wondering about when it comes to the clearing of these lines, when, I say to the government –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MURPHY: What time of the year is government actually going to be considering sending in these crews to start clearing laneways there? Just to bring the point forward, there are federal regulations now when it comes to the clearing of brush and clearing of forests, when it comes to setting up the laneway. We know about the nesting of birds and everything that happens in the spring. We know that there are federal regulations now when it comes to when these forests and when the brush side areas and everything get cleared out.

There are a couple of concerns as regards to that. The question to government is: When are they going to be doing it? How are they going to be doing it? How are they going to maintain the lines that are there and maintain the cleared areas afterwards? The use of chemicals like picloram and 2,4-D as far as I am concerned is a no-no. A lot of other people are thinking the same way, especially as regards to the number of times that I stood up in this House and presented the petition when it comes to the use of banned chemicals.

As well, I am concerned about the workers and the cost to government. I do not know if they measured into the Muskrat Falls Project. When these workers are going to be out there in the forests and everything clearing away brush, that sort of thing, I am worried about the cost when it comes to the enforcement for workplace health and safety, for example, when it comes to enforcement measures and actually getting people into some of these remote areas, when it comes to making sure that these workers are going to be practising safe work methods, that sort of thing.

The last point that I will make this time around because I see that my time is running out – when it comes to one of the sections under the Expropriation Act, they talk about the loss of income in some cases, loss of property is another thing. I am worried about as well business losses to some of the businesses that are going to be around there. How will they be compensated? How will it be measured?

We need to make sure that any time as well that these people are going to be in there clearing out areas and getting equipment in, we need to make sure that people along the route are also going to be told about the equipment that is running nearby and to make sure that they monitor their own properties, to make sure they get properly compensated in the run of possible damage to their property.

Mr. Chair, I see my time is just about up. I will relent and let somebody else have the floor for now.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I recognize the hon. the Minister of Environment and Conservation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I am absolutely delighted to be able to get on my feet here amongst my colleagues, both on this side and the other side of the House.

We are having a long session here from the early part of this week. A session that has brought out the good, the bad and the absolute ugly – and I say ugly. I have been in this House representing my district for fourteen years and I tell you, I was floored, in a debate such as this.

I say to you, Mr. Chair, this is a very important debate that is going on. I have been listening intently, but I must say there have been times tonight that I have been uncomfortable. There was one time I was shivering here, froze to death, and I put on some extra clothes, got up and walked around.

I do not know if it is the flu or whatever, but the last half an hour I was sweating. I slipped off my coat. I really did it, not because of the decorum of the House – and I trust the Chair, who is the keeper of this House, is very understanding. It was only for a moment, but I had a member on the other side jump up and really, directed towards me perhaps because I was the only one here without a coat on, directed me that I was in contravention to the decorum of this Chamber.

AN HON. MEMBER: It was not just you.

MR. HEDDERSON: I am not talking to you. You had your turn to talk. So be quiet, will you? I think it is time for you to be quiet.

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. HEDDERSON: I am sorry, Mr. Chair; I just lost it a little bit there.

I immediately got my coat back on and I certainly will not take it off again, supposing there is sweat oozing out of me.

Let's get more to the gist of what we are doing here, which is the discussion of probably one of the most important projects that any government could bring forth, and really a government that brought it forth.

I have to retract a statement I made the other day because I got up, foolish like, and do you know what I said? I said that every man, woman and child – and I was so proud to say it, every man, woman and child – I spoke for in my district is in support of Muskrat Falls and that development.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Mr. Chair, I have to retract that statement because, I say, every man, woman, and child except the Member for St. John's East supports the Muskrat Falls Project – everyone except that constituent who lives in my district. Why do I know that? There was a question asked in this House not too long ago by our Premier, a Premier who certainly got us here tonight debating all the aspects of Muskrat Falls, including Bill 60 and Bill 61, giving all members a chance. You had that chance to bring forth all the concerns you have.

I am not surprised at the member. I am surprised he is an environment critic because the environment is so important and people are passionate about it. You cannot say one thing and do another. That is not the only time that member has been in my district that has disappointed me.

I refer to the Cupids celebration. There was a part of Cupids, right in the middle, that was an environmental disaster. It was not only junk. It was the middle. It was Pointe Beach. By God, I have been fourteen years after a previous Administration and my current Administration to get that cleaned up. It is so important for the celebration and for the environment. This is what we are talking about tonight: having a clean environment.

My colleague in Tourism, Culture and Recreation came to the rescue and took on the responsibility for that. During the celebration we invested the proper amount of money and brought it back to pristine. It is a showcase. One day, right out of the blue, up comes the Member for St. John's East. He stands on it and says: Do you know something? All the pavement is coming up.

AN HON. MEMBER: Irrelevant.

MR. HEDDERSON: Like I said, the relevance is – let the Chair talk about that. It is very relevant. We are discussing basically Bill 61, which talks about land. I do not know, but maybe the transmission line is going by Cupids. All I am saying, because I have hit a nerve – I have hit a nerve, do not want to hear it.

Basically here is a situation where we went in as a government, took care of a piece of land, much like the land that is going to be probably looked at as we put a transmission line, 1,100 kilometres across the Province in Labrador and Newfoundland. We have to put in place checks and balances to make sure we do it right.

This is an example, what I am talking about, down in Cupids where we went in and we took Crown land, cleaned it up, and did everything we could. The Member for St. John's East did not want to see it that way and came down. Do you know what he told the residents of Cupids? The pavement has to come up, all the beautiful work that you have done with the stones and so on and so forth, staged area, so on and so forth, a showcase.

I tell you I never received as many calls in one day as I did from them. Just about everyone down in Cupids called me – what is going on? What kind of an idiot, they asked me, would come out – and these are the words that they used. What kind of an idiot would come out and say to people of Cupids we are going to take up the pavement, we are going to –

MR. MITCHELMORE: A point of order, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Member for The Straits – White Bay North, on a point of order.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Mr. Chair, I just question the use of the word "idiot" in terms of being unparliamentary language.

CHAIR: Order, please!

Many words in our parliamentary guidebooks are listed as possibly being unparliamentary. Words in themselves not very often are unparliamentary or can be listed as unparliamentary.

The minister in his remarks was sharing that somebody called him and asked what kind of an idiot would do something. It is close; the Chair was thinking about it. If the minister was referring to somebody in particular as an idiot, I definitely would rule it to be unparliamentary. I am giving some leeway there. I would say there is no point of order.

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

As you aptly pointed out, I am talking about a constituent who I value very, very much. I could not believe the language that they were using to describe what had happened on that particular day. Here I have an individual who is my environment critic, who is not in support of taking down those stacks in Holyrood, who never stood in this House in support of the Muskrat Falls Project, and then has the audacity to come in here tonight and tell me that I am not fit to be in this Chamber.

It is days like this – do you know something? I want to go out that door and perhaps not even come in this Chamber again, and I am serious. We come in here to debate, and this debate, I have to say – and I have listened intently, even though it might not seem like I am listening, I am listening. As a matter of fact, I was going to get up and speak about some points, which I may do.

Right now, I want to pack my bags and go home out of here, because again, I have never experienced that, and I have had some dicey moments in here. So, I say to all hon. members: Before you get up, bite your tongue, count to ten, and think about the implications of what you say. It is very, very important.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair does not normally make commentary unless there is a point of order or something of that nature called, but in this instance, I feel it is necessary to return the debate back to the bill that we are discussing, or the issue of Muskrat Falls.

The hon. member made of point of order earlier which touched a chord with a lot of members, and caused some emotional upheaval in the Chamber. It is the responsibility of the Chair or the Speaker to maintain decorum in the House. I would say that, myself, I will speak for myself when I am in the Chair, or when I am chairing proceedings in the House, there is a fair bit of latitude given at times when you consider debate is going on for hours, and days.

The Chair, himself, while I had another colleague fill in for me for a few minutes, was behaving in a way that I would not normally behave, in that I lay on the floor for some time. The member brought that to our attention, and it was ruled that there was no point of order, and it caused some degree of upset in this Chamber. I have allowed two members to speak to that at this point and given a fair bit of latitude for them to do it, but at this point I am giving some direction that I think the points are made and we will go back to debating the bill at hand and we will leave it.

I recognize now the Member for Torngat Mountains.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

This is the third night of this debate. I realize all hon. members go through periods of fatigue, I have done it myself, but I would like to point out that over the last four days and three nights as we debate this legislation, I have seen a lot of information that has come out both from the Opposition side and responses from the government side. This debate has brought out more debate, and it has brought out different perceptions, different interpretations.

I think this is my second night, Mr. Chair, of three nights. I am very worthy of the debate that is ongoing and I think the issues are coming out. I thank you, Mr. Chair, for the little bit of leeway there.

I was going to talk about the environmental issues. I was about to talk about the environmental impacts downstream of the proposed Muskrat Falls dam. The question that came to me, just as I sat down the last time I spoke, was when you are doing a project the size of Muskrat Falls, Mr. Chair, Nalcor or the proponent has to do some degree of baseline study. I have not seen this work, Mr. Chair. Maybe it is out there, maybe it is not.

I would like to bring attention to the issue that I have talked about on numerous occasions over the last four days of this debate. That is the mercury levels that are in Lake Melville, or that will arise from this project in Lake Melville. The government and Nalcor have said there will be no environmental damage done downstream. Having said that, Mr. Chair, I would just like to share some facts with respect to methylmercury and that it develops from flooding of vegetation. The footprint area here, Mr. Chair, is significantly smaller than the creation of the Smallwood Reservoir, and that is understandable.

The other thing that we have to take into account, Mr. Chair, is the closeness or the proximity of this project to Lake Melville itself. I will just share some facts that I wanted to do the last time that I stood up, but I ran out of time, Mr. Chair. I thank you for the opportunity and the recognition to be able to do so again.

As I was saying the last time I spoke, Mr. Chair, the US Food and Drug Administration sets the consumption level at one part per million, which is the standard measurement for levels of mercury in consumable products, and specifically to fish. That is the limit the United States sets for human consumption, one part per million.

In some species of fish, Mr. Chair, for example, swordfish or shark, levels are at a marked level higher, at 1.3 per cent, 1.4 per cent respectively. The average natural level of mercury in most fish, Mr. Chair, is 0.3 parts per million; 0.3 is the natural level, which is significantly less than the one part per million standard set by the US Food and Drug Administration. In Canada, Mr. Chair – and I did ask this question to the Minister of Environment and Conservation: What mechanism would be put in place? His response to me was that Health Canada guidelines would be implemented.

Without any increases in mercury from the Upper Churchill project, Mr. Chair – and the Nunatsiavut Government has indicated there are levels of methylmercury in Lake Melville as a result of the Upper Churchill project. The level of mercury from Health Canada, from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is set at 0.5 per cent, or 0.5 parts per million. It is just above the consumption level for human consumption of fish. Now, one point is a significant amount as you look at parts per million when it comes to methylmercury.

If we are to assume that fish in Lake Melville has an average of 0.3 parts per million in their bodies, if you may, as naturally, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has set a consumption level at 0.5, a question that automatically develops is: How many parts per million of methylmercury has gone into the fish from Upper Churchill? This would lead to the next question: What has been done in terms of baseline studies that could project the level of mercury as a result of this project?

I am going to go back to 1998, Mr. Chair, when I worked with the fishery in Lake Melville. I issued licences for some 14,000 fathoms of subsistence fishing gear in the lake, ranging from the mouth of the Churchill River down as far as Carwalla, just north of Rigolet. That fishing gear was issued to Nunatsiavut beneficiaries, to NunatuKavut people who live in the area, and to the Innu who harvest Lake Melville regularly.

The primary species harvested are smelt, which is found almost in the river, just to the east in the little Town of Mud Lake, and Terrington Basin, which is subject to tidal waters, which can carry methylmercury up, down, and across the mouth of the river, as well as salmon. Salmon go up the river in Lake Melville. The time spent in the lake itself is minimal, as they follow their migration routes, but smelt and char are residential fish, Mr. Chair. They do not leave the lake and they are subject to whatever impacts human development can inflict, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and I realize this would be unintentionally.

The point is, Mr. Chair, this baseline study for health and safety reasons should have been tabled so the people in Lake Melville can be aware if there are Health Canada standards that would have to be implemented. That is the point I wanted to make and certainly one we should all be cautious about. Projects are for the betterment of the people, but we have to be careful of protecting our environment, especially when it makes up a lot of our diet.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: Yes, Mr. Chair, I am ever so happy and proud to stand in my place in the House again this morning and enter the debate once again in regard to this important bill. I would first like to start out, Mr. Chair, by actually complimenting the people sat across the House in the Opposition.

I have sat here through the night listening as intently as I possibly could. I just listened to the hon. Member for Torngat Mountains bring legitimate concerns to the House, things that he is quite aware of and as well that he is concerned about. All he wants is some level of confidence that it is going to be addressed, and then I am quite sure the hon. member would be somewhat, I suppose, in favour of Muskrat.

I think overall the Opposition is actually in favour of Muskrat, other than they have certain concerns about it that they wanted answered. As we went through the debate, I think some of them were alleviated to a point. Also, I listened to the Member for Burgeo – La Poile. He has stuck to the bill I think the entire night that he was speaking. I have listened to the Official Opposition, the Member for Humber Valley, keeping right to the bill as well, along with the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

I have heard from the Third Party a lot of variance, everything from wood pellets, to Mexico, to Austria, to Iceland, and to wherever else around the world and all over the place. Then I have heard certain members from the Third Party as well try to get into the environmental issues surrounding the Province in general, and also surrounding what he believes the project itself. I listened to him in regard to the corridor, which has to happen because you just cannot transport electricity via WI-FI nor can you transport it by using skyhooks or whatever to keep the wires in the air. You have to build transmission lines. He talked about the brush clearing and that kind of stuff.

I reflected in my mind. I thought about it. I said, when the brush is cut you know how the foliage starts to grow, when you look at movies and that kind of thing, and I wondered to myself: Will snakes start crawling in that foliage, which could be dangerous to the people of the Province who might go out there picking berries and whatnot? We all know that the snakes crawl at night. That is a known fact in the world: snakes crawl at night; certain snakes do crawl at night. Some of them I never even knew they were a snake. I have a little bit of a concern about that.

I am not a Twitter box guy but I got on my –

AN HON. MEMBER: It is a shame you are not.

MR. O'BRIEN: Yes it is, sometimes. As a matter of fact, I may enter that world one of these days.

Anyway, I pinned a friend of mine. Lo and behold, he told me: Do not worry about it because there are many power lines across Newfoundland and Labrador. Newfoundland Power has them and Newfoundland Hydro has them. They brush clear all the time in the wilderness. They keep them quite clear. He said surely I cannot address all the issues, but one I can guarantee you: we will have all the people of Newfoundland and Labrador protected from snakes.

I was quite happy of that, really. I reflected on that, and there are some things that you have to really be concerned about. I remember to the bill in regard to municipalities – and I am the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I have said in this House and I think it is a fact that I have met with many, many municipalities across Newfoundland and Labrador. There are 276 of them. I would say I have met with probably 260-odd of them.

I have been involved as a Cabinet minister in regard to this project now since 2005, not directly as the Minister of Natural Resources had been and as the Premier was, but I have been meeting with municipalities. Municipalities really do not have any issues at all from my point of view in regard to taxation, the power lines, and a grid going through their particular municipalities. I talked to them.

As a matter of fact, I was over with the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills only recently and met in St. George's. There is no issue. They are looking forward to it – absolutely looking forward to it – because they can see and they have the vision in regard to how this project will affect Newfoundland and Labrador for a long, long time to come. Not only in regard to the jobs that will come at the front end of the project, but then when it actually starts to produce and starts to put revenue into our Consolidated Revenue Fund you will see the great effect.

In regard to that taxation piece, yes, the act exempts the proponents of the project, including Emera, from the municipal property, business, and commercial taxes. The municipal tax treatment is consistent with the existing legislation concerning Crown corporations and utilities. Municipalities will retain the existing taxation where a municipality actually provides a service. We know that as well. They are quite happy with that. If they do not provide a service, they feel as well it is unfair when the project is for the betterment and for all of the people in Newfoundland and Labrador. They should not have that ability and they do not think they should tax unless they are actually providing a service. If they are going to provide a service, then it is up to the municipality if they are going to actually apply any form of taxation to that particular proponent or that particular service they have to provide.

Overall, and I have seen it at MNL and also all my meetings with municipalities, they have endorsed this project. They clearly see we have to have a renewable revenue stream that comes in, that we can depend on, and that we can support the municipalities in their infrastructure requirements, in any kind of a new fiscal arrangement in the future, and also in their MOGs and all that kind of thing. They understand, as well, there is only one taxpayer in Newfoundland and Labrador and that is the people who live here. It is either they get their revenue from one form or another. They would prefer to get it from a project that we are going to sell a portion of, and then get revenues from that which would support their infrastructure requirements.

We get back to the environment piece as well. The Minister of Advanced Education and Skills, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Tourism, the Minister of Fisheries, the Minister of Environment, every one of them will remember me making this statement, and a foolhardy statement I made when we were really getting close to getting the project done maybe a year ago. I said the one thing I would think that the NDP, the Third Party, will be for the project.

The reason why I said that was because I believed in my heart and soul because of the detrimental effects on our climate and on our health in regard to Holyrood – I believed in my heart and soul that they would be 100 per cent behind this project and buy into it for the betterment of Newfoundland and Labrador. Forget about the financial benefits of the actual project itself, I thought there would be one thing that they stood on – and I thought they did anyway – as a principle of their party was the environment. You hear them all the time.

Then, lo and behold, I remember the Minister of Environment, I remember the Minister of Justice, I remember the Minister of Fisheries, I remember the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills say no Kevin – no way, they are not going to do it. I did not believe it. After this four days and however many hours, I believe it now.

I hope and pray that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador see it. Sometimes I always question how many people are tuned in to this House of Assembly. I hope and pray that if there is a TV in any place in Newfoundland and Labrador, I hope they are tuned in now. Now they are seeing the real depth of the Third Party, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

I recognize the hon. the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Chair, once again for an opportunity to speak to Muskrat Falls Project Land Use and Expropriation Act, Bill 60. I certainly want to thank all members who stood up and contributed to debate here tonight and spoke.

I myself have talked many times about the expropriation highway when we look at the 1,100 kilometre Labrador-Island Link which is going to put transmission, looking at the map here going from Muskrat Falls all the way down through Labrador, coming across the Straits and then down the Northern Peninsula, hopping across there around the Humber Valley area, going pretty much across the Trans-Canada Highway into the Eastern part of the Province.

I spoke many times about the economic and socio impacts of putting forward such a transmission line and what has been proposed. What Nalcor has proposed in its Socioeconomic Environment report, it said, "These regions encompass a number of economic development zones, many of which are rural areas with economies traditionally based on natural resource industries and more recently, tourism and other activities."

I talked about the impacts of fishers and how it is going to impact fishers putting the subsea cable, the disturbance there, and the loss of forestry activity as it is going through the Great Northern Peninsula. I talked about tourism activities as it intersects with the International Appalachian Trail.

"The transmission corridor also overlaps with regions and zones where economic activities and populations are more heavily concentrated, particularly in Eastern Newfoundland and on the Avalon Peninsula." It talks about marine activities and associated infrastructure needed in the Strait of Belle Isle. I talked quite a bit about the implications of doing that and the impacts it has.

Now, getting specifically to the bill in clause 19, it talks about when there is a mistake made. We have seen mistakes with expropriation before by this government. We only have to look at AbitibiBowater. When we look at section 19.(1), it says, "An error in a notice of expropriation does not invalidate the expropriation of the land."

Even if there is an error by Emera, Nalcor, or proponents because they may need land, not because they must need it, it does not state they have to go through that process. They could make something by error and they still have that land.

As the Member for St. Barbe talked about, this act as it is set up opens up a lot of legalities for the Province in terms of being legal challenges, cost, undue hardship to people, and gives a whole bunch of authority to Emera and to Nalcor in this situation. If you make an error in saying: We made a mistake and we are not going to give you your land back to your cabin, something you privately owned, or your family home that has been there for years.

It says right under that, "A notice of expropriation may be amended and an amendment shall be served or posted and registered in accordance with this Part as if it were a notice of expropriation and shall be considered to have been served or posted at the same time as the notice of expropriation amended by it." It may be, but it does not have to.

When we look at this, what is the solution here? When you are looking at where compensation is agreed upon; "Where a proponent and the person who in the opinion of the proponent is the apparent landowner have reached an agreement for the transfer of the land to the proponent but the proponent is of the opinion that the title to the land cannot be conveniently or readily transferred by the apparent landowner".

Then it goes back to other subsections in the act which talks about having the ability to show conveyance and proof. Otherwise, if you do not have that material, then it seems to me that these companies can just look at expropriating. Maybe the Minister of Environment and Conservation would like to clarify to see if that indeed is the case. It really seems like the authority is there to do that.

When we talk about negotiation and we talk about looking at the type of dispute that is there, when we go back to looking at the role of the Public Utilities Board. When government included the Public Utilities Board to look at considering if Muskrat Falls was the least-cost option, they only gave them two options to choose and they came back inconclusive. Based on the information that was provided, they could not determine that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MITCHELMORE: A lot of people agree with that based on the applause there. Maybe we do need to look at the role of the Public Utilities Board. Government in this act is looking at the Public Utilities Board. In section 23 of Bill 60, it really says, Mr. Chair, if the proponent and the landowner cannot agree as to the amount of compensation, the matter is referred to an arbitration panel.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: Mr. Chair, that arbitration panel is now appointed by the Executive Council. The Executive Council gets to appoint the arbitration panel. That is a lot of control to the Executive Council, to Cabinet to have that ability to say how much people are compensated.

With the passage of Bill 29, getting access to information as to what is being paid, if it is fair, if it is going to be reported, will be virtually impossible. This puts a lot of redacted information I am sure out there for people who are seeking openness and transparency.

If we go and look at the act that we have for expropriation, where parties do not agree in that act, Mr. Chair, the matter is referred to the Public Utilities Board. It just looks like another case of stripping and removing the role and authority of the Public Utilities Board from having any part in Muskrat Falls to do due diligence for what is fair, and find a balanced approach from the monopolists of the utility provider and also provide a fair rate of return to the consumer. It is their mandate. It should be their role to look at that. It is their role in the Expropriation Act and they should continue to have that role, inclusive of what the Muskrat Falls Project is doing.

You are talking about up to 600 cabin owners, you are talking a number of family homes, you are talking about – in this case, Mr. Chair, you are talking about campsites, you are talking about acquiring economic development drivers on the Northern Peninsula. Looking at things like mine quarries, staked claims on land, oil and gas exploration, projected, located and proposed in the transmission corridor. What is going to happen?

If you have land claims that is in the proposed corridor, and Emera or Nalcor say: Well, we know that there are claims and stakes in this area but adjacent land is not, so we will just expropriate that. We will take that. It could be family land or granted for years as a means to look at having access to potential oil and gas exploration projects, because that is a division and business of Nalcor. Could it be something that we are giving the authority to a proponent such as Emera to have that kind of control? Because that is what it seems that this legislation is stating.

Unless somebody on the other side, maybe the Minister of Natural Resources, or Environment and Conservation can explain that I am completely wrong and this legislation is not saying that. I really need clarification because I have a lot of concern of the ability for them.

When looking at that section of the act, when I go back to section 19, the proponents have the ability to expropriate land. Go back to the paragraph on expropriation, it includes Emera. It includes Emera to be able to access Crown lands. In the briefing notes it says Emera has that ability.

If we go back and look at proponent, "(j)‘proponent' means a proponent of the Muskrat Falls Project, and includes, whether individually or in combination of them, (i) the corporation established in the Energy Corporation Act, including all affiliates, subsidiaries, successors and assigns of that corporation, and (ii) Emera Inc., including all affiliates, subsidiaries, successors and assigns of that corporation".

If they do not necessarily need land but they make an error in notice of expropriation, it does not invalidate that expropriation of the land. Is there recourse? What route do people have? It does not seem like if they make an error they have to give land back. It is quite challenging, Mr. Chair, and I would like further clarification before I am able to vote on this piece of legislation.

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I see my time has expired.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I recognize the hon. the Minister of Environment and Conservation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would just like to get on my feet as the Minister of Environment and Conservation. I have been listening intently to some of the concerns that have been expressed by the members opposite and from members on this side of the House as well. Obviously, this type of debate brings out a lot of points.

Naturally, we know what Bill 60 is about. It is to facilitate providing the required property or land, bringing the power from Muskrat Falls not only down to Soldiers Pond and the Avalon Peninsula area, but also of course the link that will be going across the Gulf to Nova Scotia. When we look at the legislation, it is put together to facilitate it. It is not only to facilitate the proponent to construct these transmission lines but it is also put together to protect the interest of the government, namely through the Crown land, and also to some private land where this transmission line will be going over.

Mr. Chair, the people in my department was a part of putting this legislation together. The advice I have been given is that they were more than happy with the results of it. They have perused the bill –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. HEDDERSON: – and basically have signed off on it. We do know that the current provincial laws were simply not sufficient to allow this type of a project to proceed.

The bill deals specifically with the project, although it does carry over the principles associated with expropriation of lands, the leasing of Crown land. All of the principles that are contained in our legislation, as we see it right now, are for the most part transferred over to this as well.

Bill 60, Mr. Chair, is very important because it supports the advancement of the Muskrat Falls Project and is very necessary. My involvement with it from my department is from the Crown lands. As well, the environmental assessment process is what we are also responsible for. Of course, when we look at the exact route, it is determined through the environment assessment process.

The key principle governing this particular bill, Mr. Chair, is that proponents can only acquire the minimum interest required in order for the project to go ahead. Therefore, you will notice the term that is used with regard to Crown lands is the statutory easement. That is a little bit of a different term but it reflects what we are looking at, is that this project should only be basically looking at the minimum requirements.

I heard terms like land grab, going beyond, making sure, and so on. Basically, when we marry up the environmental assessment with the route, we should be. We do know there is a corridor of sixty metres that will be coming down through, but there is some leeway.

I believe the Member for Torngat Mountains was talking about the trap lines. I think the other members, I do not know which one of them you were, talked about the –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. HEDDERSON: Generally, we were talking about: What about the activities that are being carried out now, whether it is hunting, trapping, that sort of thing? This is where the environmental assessment would come in.

We do know we are constructing towers. I think all of you would know what they would look like. In constructing these towers, unless there is something really extraordinary, we believe many of those activities may be rerouted just a little bit around it or even sometimes right next to it. We have to look at the water, how close it is to the water. Any of the access that is there now, unless it is really extraordinary, we would insist that would stay as it is, in the sense that it might have to be moved or whatever, and provision would have to be made by the proponent to make sure that happened. So, the easement as such is a lease. The proponents do not own the land. It will be an easement through, and as a matter of fact, there are usually fees associated with that sort of a thing. Anyone who is going to apply for Crown lands for a lease, an easement, or whatever, usually there is a cost involved in that, that would come back to, of course, the general revenues of the Province.

So that is the easement part of it. Again, there have been any number of consultations and any number of requests to the proponent to come forward with the information we need in my department in order that we can make the decisions that are necessary for this project to go through and protecting the interests of the people, as you are alluding to.

The non-Crown land, or as you might refer to it the private land, be it the cottages, the cabins, farmland, whatever it might be; even though I hear a lot of you looking at the expropriation, we are very hopeful that there will be little in the way of expropriation. That is the last resort. I know from my experience now coming out of Transportation and Works where we are putting roads through that we can run into some difficult situations, but for the most part it is clear title, understanding of what is happening, fair market value, and it never goes beyond that.

The rubs usually come when there is some question about ownership of the land. The quietening of the title then becomes a process that depends on the people involved, what paperwork needs to be done, and so on and so forth. In the route coming down, from what I can see, if you are looking at coming down through Southern Labrador, for the most part you are coming down a corridor very close to the Trans-Labrador Highway. I am very hopeful we can avoid a lot of the private land that might be there, using a corridor that is already established.

With the property acquisition, the Crown land should be pretty well straightforward. The private land is there. The statutory easement, and you have seen it in your briefing notes and so on, should not in any way impede the right of the public to access the land for recreational purposes or other personal uses provided it does not interfere with the rights of the holder and the statutory easement. This is where we come in, because sometimes it is obvious that you cannot go over the – we have to move it one way or the other. People will be given the opportunity, if they have not already done so, to make us aware of where it is.

The land will be identified, the private land will be identified, and hopefully negotiations will take care of most of it. In the event that it does not, then it becomes a legal process and there are appeal mechanisms that are built in. I am very hopeful that can be smoothed out.

I will leave it at that. I will move it back to whoever else wants to get up, Mr. Chair. I will continue to monitor and I hope that my comments have been somewhat helpful to you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR (Pollard): Order, please!

The Chair recognizes the hon. the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I certainly thank the minister for some clarification and providing those answers. I would like to ask more specifically then to the clause I was talking about, section 19, when "An error in a notice of expropriation does not invalidate the expropriation of the land."

Why does that clause exist? If there is an error, should it not automatically revert to the landowner or to the Crown? Would the minister be able to just further explain that section? I am very satisfied with other points that he did make in his commentary. I would like a specific answer of why this clause does not have a reversal option.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair recognizes the hon. the Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

(Inaudible) like to comment on the three days or so we have had with this debate. In fact, I think it has been quite useful. I think we have had at this point maybe 75 per cent or 80 per cent of a debate for sure on all of the points and all of the issues that could have been raised by any Opposition related to the Muskrat Falls development.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Chair, one of the clauses in this bill that I think will be the most contentious among most people is actually clause 22, and that deals with valuations. Clause 22 deals with paying compensation: "The proponent shall pay compensation to the owner of land expropriated under the authority of this Part and to a landowner detrimentally affected by the expropriation."

It continues under subsection (3)(a). 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 the expropriation proceedings and no account shall be taken of the compulsory acquisition of the land, the disturbance of the owner or occupier, or other detrimental effects subject to paragraph (f) and subsection (4)."

It goes on to say, "(b) the fair market value of the land shall be taken to be the amount that the land, if sold in the open market by a willing seller to a willing buyer, might be expected to realize but all returns and assessments of capital value for taxation made or acquiesced in by the owner of the land shall be considered…". Then, "(d) where the expropriation is of a part of land that is subject to a security interest, 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…".

Well, Mr. Chair, on the face that might sound like a reasonable proposition, however this is an invitation to any landowner to fight. If you could imagine this is a non-home, because the homes are dealt with in another section. The homes are accorded replacement value. Mr. Chair, appraising the value of property, fair market value, appraisers use three different techniques to establish a value for any sort of real estate, whether it is land, buildings, or whatever.

One they use is replacement cost. Replacement cost is what is used when homes are being expropriated. There is no point in expropriating somebody's home and paying them a certain amount of cash if they cannot get another home. If they just do not get enough money for another home, then they are disadvantaged.

Another formula that is used is the income approach, which says: If I have this property, and if I can earn a certain amount of rent from the property, how much should the property be worth based on the income stream? That is called the income approach.

The final one, the one that is determined here, is the fair market value. The fair market value might sound like it is easy to establish, and sometimes it is. Fair market value in St. John's for a home would be relatively easy for an appraiser to establish, because lots of home sales take place. Fair market value is then established by the comparable neighbourhood, comparable size of home, type of amenities associated with the home in some cases, and then other prices that have been paid. So, if a home is 1,500 square feet, and another home is 2,000 square feet, the appraiser is able to make the adjustments.

Mr. Chair, if you could visualize being in a more remote area where sales are few and far between, there may not have been a sale in the area for perhaps two years. If there has been a sale there are a very limited number of properties, so you are comparing one property to something that there is practically no comparison because the other one might be 100 kilometres away. There is practically no market.

In order to be able to determine what a willing buyer would pay to a willing selling if the seller does not want to sell and there is no buyer to buy, this is a real trap for the appraiser to have to fall into. The property owner will almost always want to push back, fight, and say: You cannot pay me such a pittance for my property because it is worth more than that to me. The response of the expropriating authority may well be: You produce your own appraisal. It may cost $1,500 or $2,000 to have an appraiser travel from maybe Grand Falls to travel up to the Northern Peninsula to establish what a cabin back in the bush is worth.

I would say this legislation would be more beneficial, it would be more user-friendly, and it would be more equitable to the people who are losing property based on this bill when it becomes an act if in fact the property owner was given the choice of either what it would cost for replacement value, what it would be if it were the income approach, and what it would cost if it were fair market value. Then the person who owns the property is put in one of the best of three situations.

This will cost a little bit more to expropriate the properties, but we are told in the briefing note the number of properties is relatively small and, we are hearing from one side, only a handful of homes. We have also heard from one of the members from the Third Party there may be as many as 500 or 600. Some are remote cottages.

The problem with a remote location is it can be very expensive to take building materials there. It can be very expensive to take equipment there. If somebody is going to build a cabin in the bush or a cottage on a lake, if they have to go fifteen kilometres to twenty kilometres away from a highway and move things in either by float plane or helicopter, in the case of some of the outfitters' camps, or if they have to take it in the wintertime by snowmobile, it can be a very tedious process and an expensive process for somebody to build a cottage or a cabin in a more remote location.

Then the hydro line goes through and it pretty much runs through this cottage property. The person is left with the option – or not an option at all, they are told we are going to pay you fair market value; what would someone pay for this place out here? It might be $2,000, or $3,000 or $5,000, and it might have cost the person $20,000 or $25,000 and a whole lot of labour to have built that.

If instead they were given the option of what would it actually cost to put this property here and if that was one of their options, they would be treated in a much more equitable manner. There would be much less likelihood that they would want to appeal. Any additional cost that would be incurred by paying them maybe more than fair market value would likely be saved by the ongoing battle over the value, the ongoing battle of the expropriation, having to hire another appraiser, maybe engage lawyers, maybe go off to the panel, and fight over it.

Mr. Chair, I see it as being one of the most problematic sections in this act for the number of disputes that will likely arise from this particular piece of legislation. The problem is further compounded if the person has a mortgage. If they have convinced the bank to lend them some money, the bank has loaned them maybe $20,000 or $25,000, maybe they have put in another $10,000, $15,000, or $20,000 of their own money. Now they have $50,000 sunk in this and the appraiser says well fair market value would only be perhaps $15,000.

This act then says that the fair market value would be paid to the creditor; the fair market value would be paid to the bank. That means that it might not even be enough to pay out the mortgage. The person would lose their cottage, part of their mortgage would be paid off, and they would be basically run off the land that they had established, maybe a summer home or a hunting lodge for themselves. There would not even be enough money given to them to pay for the debt.

That would seem to be really inequitable. I think that if the government would review this part of the legislation, we would not find ourselves back here maybe in a winter session trying to amend the legislation. I can see another bill coming which would be an act to amend the Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project. That would be a much more equitable step and very easy to accomplish at this stage.

Those are my comments for now, Mr. Chair, thank you very much.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I recognize the hon. the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SHEA: Mr. Chair, it is my pleasure to be able to speak on this bill and talk about the bill that deals with expropriation, some of the issues around that, the reason for the legislation and the impact of this development in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Chair, it is not uncommon for a government to have legislation that deals with expropriation. It happens probably on a more regular basis than some people realize. Unless you are affected by expropriation you probably do not necessarily see the impacts of it.

Many times, a municipality or some level of government may have to expropriate land for one reason or another. That could be to build infrastructure, municipal infrastructure, roads, or some kind of federal infrastructure related to an airport, treatment centres, water treatment centres, or sewage treatment centres. What happens is the government is able to expropriate, which means take the land they need for this particular reason.

In this case with the transmission lines and the development of Muskrat Falls, the transmission lines as they come across Labrador, down through the Northern Peninsula and across the Island part of the Province, Mr. Chair, there will be in some areas private land that will need to be expropriated; however, by far the majority of the land will be Crown land and there will be no need to do an expropriation – over 90 per cent. In some cases there will be some cabins. In a very few cases there will be some homeowners.

Now, just because there are only a few homeowners as opposed to hundreds does not mean these people will be impacted. They will, and for them it is a major disruption; however, the idea of expropriation indicates and will indicate with this that there will be a fair market value paid for the properties that are expropriated that belong to individuals.

Mr. Chair, I just want to speak briefly about the experience we had in Stephenville when we had the flood in the fall of 2005. For anyone who can remember, it was quite a year in Stephenville. In 2005 we had the flood, which destroyed 150 homes in one area of the town, and within two months of the flood we also had the announcement that the paper mill was closing in Stephenville. It was a year I will never forget. I was a fairly new MHA at the time.

It is amazing because the flood line, the line that delineated the flood in the Town of Stephenville, was actually the line that also separated the District of St. George's – Stephenville East from the District of Port au Port. Jim Hodder at the time was the MHA for Port au Port. There was no loss in his district, no damage and no homes lost, and I had 150 in my district. There were days and nights I was thinking: Why didn't Jim at least have one home in his area that he would have to deal with?

Anyway, that whole disruption lasted well over a year in Stephenville as people were displaced and had to find temporary accommodations or rental accommodations. What happened as we moved through the process was there was no expropriation because there was no need to actually – well, there was, because the town had to expropriate the land, but not the provincial government.

What happened was the infrastructure in the ground was destroyed. Therefore, in order to replace the homes where they stood on the land owned by the landowners, the town would have to go in and redo all the infrastructure, all the pipes, the water, the sewers, and the roads. That expense was great. Even if they fixed it all, these homes would still sit on a flood zone after the fact.

It was decided that all of the properties would be expropriated and people would be given a replacement value for their homes, fair market value to replace the homes they lost. In doing that process, there was an appeal process set up. An appeal board set up so if somebody disagreed with the value they were going to receive for their home, they had the right to appeal. The appeal would hear their arguments and make a decision.

Out of the 150 homeowners, Mr. Chair, one person indicated they would appeal but did not follow through to appeal. The actual rate of appeals for 150 homes, based on the formula that was used, was zero. I want to talk about that because this is probably indicative of how we are going to see cabin owners or homeowners be dealt with, and the way it is negotiated or prices offered for their land, and the process they can follow through.

If history repeats itself, this government has been very fair in determining the value and dealing with people who had to lose their land or their homes through a process they had no control over. I would hope the same process will follow again, Mr. Chair.

The other thing I wanted to speak about was that the transmission lines will come down, as I said, through a corridor, through Labrador, through the Northern Peninsula, and across the Island part of the Province. In doing that, the land expropriation, of course, that corridor where these transmission lines will go would also have been subjected to an environmental assessment.

We know that as we do these assessments and we look at the environment, we look at all the aspects of the environment whether that is the wildlife, whether it is the trees that grow there, or as the Third Party talked about, the berries that grow there. We make sure that what we do is environmentally sound and acceptable procedures. We will parallel, we follow along the existing transmission lines.

The environment and the environmental issues are extremely important. That is why it was very surprising, as we moved through this whole process, because one of the biggest issues we have concerning the environment in this Province is Holyrood, and the amount of oil that is being burned in Holyrood. Muskrat Falls will be clean, green, renewable energy for Newfoundland and Labrador. Therefore, Holyrood will no longer be our main source of electricity, which with the increasing demand would have to expand, Mr. Chair.

What surprises me is that the Member for St. John's East, who happens to be a resident near the Holyrood generating station right now, would like to see Holyrood remain open. Now, you would think a party that stands for environmental issues and a member who lives in that area – although he does not represent those people within the House of Assembly, but still has such disregard for the environment that his stand would be to keep Holyrood open. That is absolutely shameful, Mr. Chair.

This government is more responsible than that, and we feel that Muskrat Falls is the best alternative for Newfoundland and Labrador because we have the energy demands. If we do not go with Muskrat Falls the next least-cost option for us is $2.4 billion more than Muskrat Falls. Mr. Chair, that is unacceptable. It is unacceptable for the ratepayers in this Province and it is unacceptable for this government.

Mr. Chair, one of the biggest issues, as I said, has been the environmental concerns and what we are trying to accomplish through Muskrat Falls. To feel that we have members in this House of Assembly, and in particular, the Member for St. John's East, who feel that we should expand or keep Holyrood open, despite the fact that his party has taken a stand in the past that they would like to see it closed, it has now become his mantra and that is what he would like to see done. As a colleague said here, that is absolutely shameful, Mr. Chair.

I feel this legislation that we have here outlines the parameters for expropriation, what land will be needed for the transmission lines, and the process that will be followed for the people who will have to go through the process of expropriation. From my previous experience of having dealt with a number of families far more in number affected during the flood of Stephenville that we will see here, the experience was positive. It was positive for the individuals who had to go and deal with it, who lost their homes, who had to accept the fact they were never going to back, sometimes to family land that they had owned for a number of generations.

Mr. Chair, it was done with sensitivity, and it was done in the most professional manner. I guess my point is that it worked well, and I anticipate this process that we will see through Muskrat Falls will have similar results.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair recognizes the Member for St. John's North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KIRBY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It is certainly a privilege for me to stand and speak to Bill 60, An Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project.

I was listening intently to the hon. Minister of Municipal Affairs when he was speaking about what the NDP stands for, and why you would support this or why you would take the position that we have taken. I just wanted to tell members, some time back I was with some party supporters, people who have been involved with the NDP for a long time, and they said: Dale, why is it you are taking the position that you are taking? Does the NDP not support public works? Of course, I said: We do. Of course we do, but not at any cost.

It is really not that we are opposed to the development of Muskrat Falls, because we are. In fact, I hope I live long enough to see the development of Gull Island as well, absolutely.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KIRBY: It is the process that has taken us to this place here and now that is concerning.

With respect to this bill, we need this bill. Government needs to expropriate these lands for its plan because government wants to establish a non-competitive monopoly on power supply here on the Island.

I just want to take members back to the report of the Joint Review Panel. I know there was some discussion of that over the past couple of days. The Joint Review Panel in 2011 recommended that Muskrat Falls energy be used "to displace energy from high greenhouse gas emission sources…" that we have – so Holyrood. That it not be used to displace demand management – and of course that is what we are doing – not be used to displace conservation, and not be used to displace efficiency and the generation of power from other renewable, low greenhouse gas emission energy sources.

That is what the Joint Review Panel said. At the time, it appeared the provincial government had accepted this recommendation. The provincial government said it would co-operate with Nalcor to offer advice and expertise on greenhouse gas mitigation and energy efficiency. Of course, the only thing we have seen around energy efficiency is the Residential Energy Efficiency Program, which runs out of money halfway through the year every year, and poor old Corte-Real down bobbing around the harbour. That is not much of a commitment to make sure Muskrat Falls will not displace conservation efforts –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. KIRBY: – and that Muskrat Falls will not displace renewable energy developments, but I suppose it is better than nothing.

With Bill 60, this transmission process, and the partner bill, Bill 61, government has really betrayed even this weak commitment – even the weak commitment it made – to not displace other sources of energy that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There are others. We are locking ourselves into a fifty-year commitment here with one particular technology and one particular energy source.

It also betrays government's commitment to the panel –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. KIRBY: – by increasing the incentive for Nalcor to produce and sell as much hydro as possible instead of encouraging consumers to conserve electricity. That seems like what we are doing. We say we need the power. We certainly need it by 2020. We certainly do not need it any sooner than that. That is the only energy pressure we have on the horizon. We are rushing into this to produce all of this new energy and transmission capacity rather than getting serious about conservation.

As I have said time and again throughout this debate, provinces like Nova Scotia have emphasized conservation. If you look at what is going on in some states in the US, they are doing it as well. That is what we should be doing. We should not be sending the message that we have abundant electricity and to go burn it. We should be trying to find ways to encourage people to conserve, but we are not doing that.

I know the good hon. Minister of Natural Resources, at one point in the last few days, was talking about time-of-use pricing, which means the electricity you use and the cost of it is based on the demand at the time. It is demand-side management of electricity consumption. People have said that will drive up the cost of electricity, people will freeze, and the situation will be even worse than it is now. Not necessarily because if that is done properly with proper public education, people could actually save money. People could actually save money on their electricity bills because they would know not to go home –

CHAIR: Order, please!

I would like for the member to direct your comments the Chair, please.

Thank you.

MR. KIRBY: Sure.

People would know when they go home in the evening, do not turn on the dishwasher right away, do not turn on the washer right away, do not turn on the dryer right away, and do not turn everything on right away. Do not turn the dishwasher on, time it to go on at 1:00 in the morning, 2:00 in the morning, 3:00 in the morning, or 4:00 in the morning at a time when the demand is lower and we are not at peak demand. That way, people could actually save money.

We have to look at things positively. We cannot have a cannot-do attitude when it comes to conservation. We have to have a can-do attitude. We can do it, but we need creative solutions that do not penalize people at the lower end of the income spectrum that also create incentives for conservation. That is an important point because if we conserve energy then that energy is freed up for new users.

If we have new residential developments, and we know housing starts have been fairly robust in the Province, if we free it up then that energy can go to those new housing starts. Those people who are relying on electric heat can have that as a source. That means we do not need this incredibly expensive transmission. We do not need it, or we do not need as much of it.

Muskrat Falls will want as many energy users on the Island as possible. Do you know why the Muskrat Falls plan will want that? To pay off the massive debt, I say to the Member for Mount Pearl South, that this is creating.

I go back to my point, to my friend in the New Democratic Party who said to me: Dale, why don't you support this? It is not that I do not support the public works. It is not that the New Democratic Party does not support the development of the Lower Churchill. We want to develop the Lower Churchill and we want to develop the whole thing: Muskrat Falls and Gull Island. We want to develop it so we have something for our children and our grandchildren, but we do not want to shackle them with massive public debt and out of control electricity consumption. That is all we are saying.

The best way to find out whether or not we are on the right path would have been, Mr. Chair, to send it to the Public Utilities Board to ensure that all of the alternatives were properly investigated, but that has not been done.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair recognizes the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Well, I was delighted to finally get the opportunity to get up and speak to Bill 60. It was wonderful to see within the last half an hour we were getting back to relevance, but I am not so sure about the last few minutes.

Mr. Chair, I am going to try to bring myself back to relevance on the bill again because, of course, that is our purpose for being here in the House of Assembly, and this is a very important act. Each clause contained in these bills, I think we certainly need to be focusing on at this point in time.

The first question I am going to put is: Why Bill 60? Why An Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project? Well, the Muskrat Falls facility is being built first and foremost to supply power for the people and the industries of Newfoundland and Labrador, because we have a vision for prosperity.

This requires of course – and it has been talked about a lot here in the House over the last few days – the construction of a 1,100-kilometre transmission line from Labrador to the Island. As many of my colleagues have already outlined, that entails a lot of jobs, a lot of business for hotels, restaurants, a great future and revenue generation source that is sustainable and reliable and will be enjoyed, I am sure, by future generations and future governments to invest in infrastructure and programs that our people need.

As Minister Kennedy has clearly outlined during his many, many speeches – and I am sure all of you here in the House feel the same as I do, even members opposite. The man is absolutely brilliant and he is absolutely worth listening to – very informative and very articulate. Certainly, every time he speaks, we all really enjoy it and learn a lot from him.

As he said in one of his many speeches, the terrain over which this transmission line has to be built is challenging. They must be able to build it in areas where it can withstand the rain, the wind, the snow, the sleet and hail. As such, the best possible route is where the transmission line must be constructed so it can withstand these elements.

This is going to necessitate the acquisition of both some Crown and non-Crown land. The land for the transmission line will be strictly for the Muskrat Falls transmission line, and as has been outlined by many of my colleagues, will be a statutory easement which means that it is going to be provided for the purpose of the transmission line only. It does not entail land ownership, mineral rights and all the other normal pieces that would come with someone's acquisition, an individual or a business's acquisition of Crown land.

Mr. Chair, at this point in time I strongly feel that we need to get beyond political grandstanding and let the business opportunity move forward. The private sector – it is not government. Government provides programs, provides supports, it creates the environment which attracts business. It is really the private sector that is the engine of growth. I certainly believe that our government is the strongest supporter of the private sector that we have seen in many decades.

As anyone who understands business knows, time is money. Nalcor is now in a position to secure the financing, and project lenders need the certainty that the land is available for the transmission line. That is basically, Mr. Chair, what this bill is all about.

There will be some land acquisition, of course, requiring total ownership. That is going to depend on the project assets that will be placed on that particular piece of land. The key principle of this act is that proponents will acquire only the minimum interest required, and in some cases this is going to be as simple as permission to occupy.

In the case of the statutory easements, Mr. Chair, unless it interferes with the rights of the holder, it does not impede the right of public to access the land for recreational purposes or other personal uses. You will still be able to pick your berries, Mr. Chair.

The Ministers of Environment, and Service Newfoundland and Labrador, these ministers have already spoken a great deal over the last few days about the expropriation piece, so I am not really going to stand here and elaborate on it a whole lot longer. I just want to reiterate that we are committed to a fair process and we will endeavour to negotiate agreements expropriating only as a last resort.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MS PERRY: Mr. Chair, I have a strong belief that we will not experience a whole lot of that.

To conclude, Mr. Chair, I would just like to say that if members opposite are genuinely concerned about project overruns, as they claim, support this bill. Let the project meet its schedules and required timelines so Nalcor stays on budget and avoids unnecessary costly delays. At this point, the deal is done. It is full steam ahead.

I, for one, have never been more proud to be a part of this party and to be a Newfoundlander and Labradorian. We are on the cusp of something we have never seen before in Newfoundland and Labrador. The vision of our Premier and our party, the future will prove it has been the best yet.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair recognizes the Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Chair, I would like to address some of the comments made by the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills. I am pretty certain that she did not mean to misled people as to the nature of this act, but I am afraid she may have.

She referenced land where compensation was given in her district, and I agree with what she is saying in that respect. However, we have been told in our briefing that there are probably only five or six homes –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. BENNETT: There are probably only five or six homes, family homes, in that case then section 12.(9) will apply to those homes. It says, "Notwithstanding another provision of this Part, where a family home is to be expropriated for the purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project, the Family Homes Expropriation Act shall apply to that expropriation and compensation shall be determined in accordance with that Act."

Well, Mr. Chair, that act requires replacement value. That act requires replacement value, not fair market value. All other expropriations under this act are required to be done under fair market value. At some point, without a doubt, there will be some dispute as to the compensation to be paid. If there is a reference to the Trial Division of the Supreme –

MS SHEA: A point of order, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: A point of order, the hon. the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills.

MS SHEA: Mr. Chair, to address the member's confusion, when the compensation was done for the homes that were lost in the flooding in Stephenville, it was done at a replacement value. The residents who received replacement value – as I said, there was an appeal process. One person indicated they may appeal, they never.

I can say from my experience working with the 150 homeowners who received replacement value, there were absolutely no concerns with that process and it was received very favourably by the people who were affected.

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Chair, the minister's confusion is not about the expropriations and compensation in her district, her confusion is with this bill. If she were to read the bill maybe – I am certain with her education level she could understand this. She could get an interpretation.

Section 12.(9) deals with the Family Homes Expropriation Act. That is the only part of this bill that requires replacement costs. All other areas require fair market value and fair market value only.

This act ousts the Public Utilities Acquisition of Lands Act, it does not apply. It ousts the Expropriation Act, it does not apply. If anybody takes a reference to the Trial Division of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador to get fair compensation, it is absolutely determinative, if this is placed before a judge, the judge will have to say: I feel really sorry for you Mr. or Mrs. – whatever your name happens to be, or corporation – the act is very clear, you do not get replacement value. All you get is fair market value. Fair market value has been determined by appraisals and you are stuck with whatever it is. That is what I addressed earlier.

The minister is correct in her statement by comparing the family homes portion, as happened in her district. I have no dispute with that whatsoever. Since we have been told repeatedly there are only five or six family homes that will be expropriated or could be expropriated, then that is all that portion will apply to, which is replacement value. All other areas are fair market value.

I would really encourage the government to take another look at this act and determine how they can more fairly compensate people if it is not a family home. Someone has drafted the legislation so that anything but for a family home does not get replacement cost and gets only fair market value.

That is my comment, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair recognizes the Member for Cape St. Francis.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. PARSONS: I thank the hon. Member for Burgeo – La Poile. Two of us stood up at the same time. He is an honourable man. He has a great last name, but he is an honourable man too for letting me do that, and I appreciate it.

I just want to say a few words this morning on this bill. I am going to relate it a little bit to a bit of experience that I had, and actually myself and the hon. member had a few words there last night and we talked about a few issues and stuff like that.

Whenever it comes to easements and taking people's property or going on people's property, there is always a fear that the person has, that you are going to ruin whatever I have and you are going to take something away from me. Like I spoke to the hon. member last night, with my experience – and I know that it is not as fast as this but it was some twelve or thirteen or fourteen kilometres that the Torbay Bypass went through. We had to take seven homes at the time and there was a big fear from people.

I remember walking into a lady's house and she was frightened to death. It was a home that she lived in all her life, seventy years old, and did not want to leave. It was a big thing for her. I can honestly say that the relief they received from what happened and from the Department of Transportation at the time – now it took a little bit of work; it did not just happen bang, bang, and everything. There was a bit of negotiations and whatnot, and things went really, really well for that family.

At the end of the day, the seven homes that were taken in my area, at the time, first when they were there was a bit hard, but afterwards the people were compensated well and they were satisfied with what happened. Now there were some other issues and there are even issues we are still dealing with today, but people know that we have representatives here that will work for them. That is our job to work for them, and it is working out fairly well with what happened in that area.

When I look at this here – and it is quite a piece of land that we are looking at; it is 1,100 kilometres. I know I read here that 99 per cent of one portion is Crown land and the other portion is 90 per cent. We are dealing mainly with Crown land. No matter what you do, you need to acquire the land. You do not want to go through cabins or you do not want to go through where people live. It is just something that has to be done. Like I said, the Torbay Bypass we would have liked to have went out around houses and went all over the place, but that was the best possible route.

So, that is what is going to happen here. We have people in Nalcor and Emera that are going to look at this and they are going to ensure that the best possible route –and there is going to be some cases where, I do not think there is a lot, but the number I heard was probably nine homes that are going to be affected by this and I am sure there are some cabins and cottages.

I even spoke to the minister last night and he said if there is a trail there that it will be the responsibility – I think I am right – of rerouting that trail to make sure that the people who use the trail are not affected by this.

Any time that there is an easement or expropriation of people's land, I am sure that the officials at Natural Resources, Environment, Crown Lands, and the companies will be doing their best to make sure people are taken care of.

In my own property in Flatrock, for example, there was a river that came down through the back of my place and they wanted to widen it so they came on my land. There was an easement there but it did not affect the property itself. The property size is still the same even though there is an easement there and you can still build a house on it. People who come in, take care of the land, and make sure the land is taken will make sure these people are well compensated.

Let us get back to this project now. That is what we have been here doing in the last number of days. I am just so proud to be here. We started off this session wondering about debate. We were all talking about whether we were going to have a debate, whether we were going to do this, or whether we were going to that. Well, I tell you what. The last three or four days have been long nights and they have been hard nights. I have to say I have had tired nights here – very tired nights – where I dozed off a scattered time and had a sleep. There are a lot of really, really hard nights.

I respect this place – I really do respect what happens here in this place. I respect what the hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile did that time. The two of us stood up together and he said: No, you go ahead. That is how we act in this place.

Last night, I have to say it is the third night in the row that I have been here. I go home in the evenings. I went home last night. I had to drop into Sobeys along the way. By the time I got home it was 6:00 o'clock. The Christmas tree came in through the door. We still have to have Christmas. By the time I got to sleep, I probably got about three hours. I had to have a little nap here last night. I just fell asleep. I could not stay awake. That is all I could do.

I am just so disappointed in what happened here last night. I look at the veteran people who are around me and I look at people who put time and effort into what they do. If I fell asleep and it was unparliamentary, I apologize. Do you know what? Sometimes your eyes do close. Sometimes this is a very large job. In the last number of days, I think it is about thirty hours. I do not know about last night, to tell you the truth. I know I am getting off subject a bit, but I am sorry about that. I may have snored a little bit, too, because I am a hard case for snoring.

I am so disappointed in what happened here this morning – I am really disappointed in what happened here this morning. I lose respect for some people when stuff like that happens. I respect every person here in this place. I think we are all doing a great job and this is a great debate.

Do you know what, Mr. Chair? This is s a great project and that is the reason we are all here. This is a great project. This piece of legislation that is here is great because what it is going to do, it is going to give us a link down through the Province. It is something that has to be done. It is going to Nova Scotia.

Listen here, I think – and I am glad I heard from the NDP this morning. We understand, you might have problems with it, with financing or something, but you did say you supported this project, you thought it was a good project. You may disagree with what we say and we will disagree with what you say. I respect your opinion, just like I respect the procedures in this House.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. K. PARSONS: No, and that is the key word is respect. Do you know something? That is what was not here this morning was respect.

Mr. Chair, I am just going to sit down and say that I think that I can assure the people who are going to be affected by this easement and expropriation of their land that the department of Crown Lands, Department of Natural Resources – and people work through that stuff. This is not something that people just go in and say your cottage is gone, hard luck buddy. That does not happen. That will be compensated. Through my experience that I have seen, people were compensated well. I am sure it is going to happen in this way too.

I am going to try to stay awake for the rest of the day. I am going to sit down now and let the hon. Member for Burgeo – La Poile stand up.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR (Verge): Order, please!

I recognize the hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I say to the Member for Cape St. Francis if you were not asleep before, after I am done you might be asleep now shortly. I do not mind saying that the legislation that we have been debating here now for, I do not know if it is there or four days, it is technical and it is complex. It can be very dry at times.

I have had my opportunities in the debate for the last three days. We have had a bit of going back and forth here and there. I have had my shots at the members across the way and they have had their shots at me, and all the better for it. I have consistently tried to stick to the legislation and to the terminology. I will continue to do that.

I want to go back to a section that I was discussing earlier. I do have some concerns here and I am going to put them forward. It might not be direct questions. They might be roundabout in a way. What I would say to the members across is at some point if somebody could take the concerns I express and if you could get back to me and let me know if there is a concern there or not or how you would answer that. The thing I was talking about last time comes down to the tax exemptions as it relates to municipalities, and as it relates to the business tax exemptions. We know through the interpretation or the reading of the legislation that anything within that 1,100-kilometre corridor is basically tax-exempt.

Now, what I am saying is there are two sections. I know there is the Labrador-Island Link, and then the part I am more worried about right now is the Maritime Link. We know the Maritime Link comes across, comes in through Cape Ray in my district, and goes in, I believe, to Granite Canal or somewhere there. I might be wrong. Even though my understanding is that these lands are going to be expropriated by the subsidiaries, I believe it is on behalf of Emera, because Emera is responsible for the construction of that. My take on this, or what I put forward, is that Emera is not providing additional service to these municipalities.

Now, we all know that government is exempt from taxes in municipalities, and so on and so forth. That has been in place. There has been talk that maybe that should be changed down the road. We know the difficulties that face municipalities as it relates to a tax base and to raising revenue, and there has been some talk back and forth. I know the minister has answered questions on it. Again, that is not what I am going at here because that is a provincial Government of Newfoundland and Labrador situation.

What I am talking about is Emera. Even though Emera might not be expropriating in name, they are behind it because it is their link. They are paying for it, they are getting the land, and it is all falling under the Muskrat Falls Project. My position that I put forward is they should not be exempt from taxes. They should not be exempt from paying taxes in this Province.

Again, I appreciate speaking to this legislation. The Chair just enlightened me there. I hope the people out there watching me speak understand that what I am saying is I do not believe it to be frivolous; I believe it to be a good point. I do not think –

AN HON. MEMBER: Vexatious.

MR. A. PARSONS: It is certainly not vexatious, but that is a term for another day. Perhaps the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs will at some point enlighten me on frivolous and vexatious.

What I am saying is that Emera is a Nova Scotia company. They are doing business in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is my position that they should be paying taxes on the land they are expropriating. They should be paying the business tax. Now, I do not know how great that amount is. I cannot tell you right now, because there is not enough certainty there in terms of the route.

What I am saying is that we should look at it, and I believe the minister, the Cabinet, and the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may have the ability down the road to change this. I think they should pay taxes. They are not providing service to us per se. They are part of the deal, but I think they should pay tax. That is just my opinion. I think they should. I do not think they should be exempt and I put that forward.

I would say to the members across the way, come back –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. PARSONS: Okay.

I have to tell you, Mr. Chair, the fact is this is what the debate is supposed to be about. It is the back and forth. The problem I have is I am afraid that if I ask the question and sit down, I am hoping that somebody will stand up. I put that forward and what I would say is when I do sit down, please get up and put that out there. That way at least it is on the record, because I hear you but the people out there might not hear what you have to say. I hear it.

I tell you what I am going to do. I will sit. I have some time left on the clock, but I will sit and the minister will get up. I appreciate the answer to the question.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

MR. O'BRIEN: Yes, Mr. Chair, just a little bit previous to this, probably about an hour or so, I took my place in the House and I talked at length in regard to the project itself. One of the issues actually that I did touch on, and the hon. member was busy making notes for his next set of time on his feet and he probably did not hear me, was in regard to the issues surrounding taxation.

The way it is set up is in regard to the transmission line itself, the poles, the wire, and whatever, this part of the transmission line, the total transmission line itself, is excluded from the municipal taxation regime. Let us put it that way. When it comes to a municipal tax, what is included, which is no different than any other type of taxation and would be retained, is when a municipality provides a service to the proponent, whoever it is, water, sewer or something like that. They can tax for that. They can set a minimum tax; they can do whatever they want.

Usually there is a consultation between them and the actual proponent, such as out in Bull Arm or whatever it may be. If you are going to provide a service in regard to the waste management or whatever it is, then they will pay tax, a grant in lieu of tax, or whatever it may be. They have that ability to do that and approach a proponent if we are providing a service.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR (Littlejohn): The hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

MR. A. PARSONS: The light is on. I am ready to go again. I appreciate the minister standing up.

I understand what he is saying and I want to make sure that I have this right. Under sections 49, 50 and 51, what we are saying is that a holder, and a holder being the land owner, who would in this case be a subsidiary or Emera, is exempt from municipal taxation. Also, in section 50 it says they are exempt from business or commercial taxation. I think what the minister was referring to is that in section 51 they are not exempt from water and sewer. I realize that if a municipality provides the water and sewer, yes, they have to pay for it but they are exempt from business tax. They are exempt from the business tax under section 50(2).

That is my concern there. I think, for a municipality, they should still get that. I put that concern forward. It might be able to be answered. It might not be able to be changed, but that is my concern. I understand; I know where the minister is coming on that, but that is my concern.

Now, what I am going to do is switch off that. I think I have addressed my concerns as it relates to the taxation part. What I wanted to do was go back to a section that I referenced earlier and lay out some concerns that I had there. It is funny; you get up, you speak about some of these sections, and you have concerns. Then when you sit back down and read it a bit more, something else pops in your head on it. So, what I am doing is put those questions forward.

Going back to section 13(1), 13(1) is what they call the urgent expropriation section. That is, "Where the Lieutenant-Governor in Council is satisfied on an application by a proponent that the proponent urgently requires the land… the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may by order direct the expropriating authority to proceed with an intended expropriation without inquiry." Again, they come forward and say we need this now. The Cabinet can come in and say, yes, you have it, no notice, boom, as long as you have satisfied that.

Now, subsection (2) of that clause says, "The Lieutenant-Governor in Council 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 the Cabinet is saying is what information they have to provide.

Here are my concerns. What I would say is that I would invite any member opposite at some point during the remainder of the debate to come back and answer my concerns and let me know whether they are founded or unfounded.

What we are saying in 13 is that yes, if land needs to be taken urgently, the Cabinet will decide on the information that is provided to the landowner. At the same time, Cabinet decides on what information is not provided to the landowner.

We have railed on against this government for months now about access to information. That is no surprise to government; they have heard that on umpteen occasions. What we have here is the possibility that somebody, a landowner, is going to have their land expropriated and they might not have access to all the information that they should have. It depends on what Cabinet feels they should or should not reveal to them.

That is a concern because if I am the landowner and I have had my land taken away – and there is nothing I can do. I am not getting on about that part. What I am saying, though, is if I had my land taken away, I should at least have access to all the necessary information justifying that situation. I should not have any information excluded; I should have access to it. I am not going to be able to change it; I have no process of appeal. I have no way to change the fact that this is where the route goes, I happen to lie within that route, and I am going to have my land taken away. What I am saying is that if that is going to be the case, I should at least have all the information used in making that decision.

The fact is that according to the wording under section 13.(2) the fact is that they say shall "prescribe the information required to be provided…". The Lieutenant-Governor in Council could say you do not need any information. That is a possibility if you look at the technical interpretation of the legislation. He could say: I do not require that you need any. You do not need anything.

What I am saying is that even though it might not be the case, the possibility exists. That is a problem because when we leave it – and we have heard these terms; we went at it for hours in June on shall versus may, and should versus shall. What I am saying here is that it says here they shall. That is a good thing because that is a positive clause saying they shall do it, but it says required to be provided. The problem is it still leaves some leeway as to what information is required. I put that out there.

I move on from that because I have that section laid out there. I move on to 13.(3). Section 13.(3) says – that is the seven days. Basically after seven days, once you have your notice of expropriation the land vests in the proponent proponent. That is a very quick turnaround.

What I am saying there is here is my concern and hopefully somebody can alleviate my concern. My concern is that what happens with the situation – and I will go back to an old standby, Joe Chesterfield. Joe Chesterfield is the landowner in question. Now, Joe Chesterfield happens to be in Florida. He is in Florida, but he also happens to be a landowner.

What I can talk about – and again I am going to sidetrack for a second and the Minister of Municipal Affairs knows exactly what I am talking about here because he is the minister that made this possible. I recently had a rezoning out in – I cannot say Port aux Basques because actually the land was all in the district belonging to the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills. It was the Cooper's Brook area and the Codroy Valley area, MacDougall's. We had the rezoning and there were notices put out. There were notices in the paper. There were notices on-line.

As the member who represented a number of the people, I put out notices on Facebook. I put notices out on Twitter. CBC Radio carried it. At the end of the day, do you know what? There were still people who did not know that they may be affected. Sometimes it is impossible to make sure that everybody knows that they might be affected.

That is not blaming anything on the minister. I think the minister did everything that was required under law to make sure that the regulations were carried out, but what I am saying is that with this rezoning there were still people affected, possibly, who did not know.

What I am saying in this situation is that now this is even more serious than a rezoning in that it is an expropriation. Joe Chesterfield is in Florida, down for the winter, and the subsidiaries, Nalcor or whoever comes through and says we are taking your land; there stands the possibility that they put the notice out on the door, doing whatever; and that person could come back, Joe Chesterfield comes back, and their land is gone.

I am not saying that it would not be done – and here is the situation because this is something that the Member for Cape St. Francis and I discussed. I do not think there is one minister on the other side that would knowingly or willingly do any of that, but the problem is that many of these things might happen without the explicit knowledge of the minister. They could happen by people who are working in departments or companies or whatever, and these people might do something like this. That is the problem here.

What I am saying is that I need some kind of assurance that people are going to have notice and take into consideration the one in a 100 chance that Joe Chesterfield is gone, his land is in that route, Joe Chesterfield ends up in Florida and, boom, the proponents cannot reach them. It is not their fault; they did not know this was going to happen. When they return, their land is gone.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. PARSONS: The section says that if they cannot reach them. What if Joe Chesterfield is gone to Florida, he might not leave a number. Nalcor or whoever the expropriation authority is might not know. What I am saying is that those officials – again, I am putting it out there. I do not think that the legislation will be changed to cover that off. What I am saying is that I have my concerns on the record and I think that as they go through this process the companies will say: Look, do you know what? That was a concern that was laid out; we are going to make sure that that does not happen.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. PARSONS: Joe Chesterfield comes back and Joe Chesterfield is now ‘chesterfield-less'.

I have another concern about that, but I do not have enough time to address it adequately in this section. There might not be an answer, but at the end of the day, down the road, somebody will say at least the concern was brought up and addressed here in the House on the written record.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this important concern. I will take my seat and allow somebody else.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl South.

MR. LANE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Chair, it is certainly a pleasure for me to stand once again and to speak on this very, very important issue to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Chair, this time I wanted to talk a little bit about the conservation piece because the hon. Member for St. John's North, I believe the last time he was speaking, was talking about the NDP, that they support green energy and conservation. He kept talking about conservation.

I just want to let the hon. member know, as well as the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, that the NDP certainly do not have the monopoly on energy efficiency, or conservation, or green energy. We are certainly cognizant of that here over on this side of the House of Assembly, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. LANE: Mr. Chair, might I say – and I am not going to read all of these again. I will just read one again because we are talking about conservation. Unlike the infamous energy critic, the NDP's energy critic, they keep quoting all of the time, and certainly their leader does, who says, on December 4, on this Twitter account, "Another… quaint idea that electricity conservation in Ontario is going to reduce power bills".

Unlike the NDP critic who actually believes – according to what he has posted here – that energy conservation will not indeed reduce power bills, I disagree with him. I believe that energy conservation is a good thing. No, I do not believe, I know – because I asked a question to Ed Martin at one of the briefings and the other folks at Nalcor about the whole energy conservation piece.

I asked him: Was energy conservation a consideration in this whole Muskrat Falls Project, in terms of determining what the best option was? Did you consider energy conservation? He said: Yes, we did. I said: Oh, very good. That is good to know. I said: Now, Ed is it possible – because I have heard some of the critics out there say that perhaps if we were conserving more energy, and I have heard it from the members opposite here, the NDP in particular – if we were conserving energy we would not need Muskrat Falls? I asked him: Is there anything to this? I really want to know, because if that is a viable alternative we should look at it.

What I was told is that based on the power needs we have here on the Island and based on the power needs we have in Labrador, conservation, while it is a good thing, while it is something we need to encourage and need to do more of, and while it is something that Nalcor is actively working on – they have some programs in place, as do Newfoundland Power. They are working on other programs, and as time goes by you will see more and more of it. In terms of meeting our electrical needs, conservation is not going to do it. Again, it is a supplemental piece.

He is saying we do the Muskrat Falls Project because it is the best option and it provides us with the power we need at the lowest cost. Then as we complete the Muskrat Falls Project there will be opportunities for us to enhance our conservation programs. There will be opportunities to introduce wind energy to supplement what we are doing at Muskrat Falls, as is being done in Manitoba, might I add.

The Member for St. John's Centre was talking about Manitoba, how they are talking about cheap wind power. She presented the little article she had, that she googled or whatever. There is no doubt, that that is there. I do not disbelieve it, that wind energy is a good thing, a viable thing, and a cheap option, but –

CHAIR: Can I interrupt the hon. member just for a second? I am under the understanding, hon. member, that we are debating Bill 60, the expropriation piece, and I think you are referring to Bill 61, I believe. Can we bring it around to Bill 60 a little bit?

MR. LANE: Yes, sure. I will.

CHAIR: Thank you, hon. member.

MR. LANE: Mr. Chair, the reason I went off on that tangent is because it was actually the Member for St. John's North who was totally on that tangent the last time he spoke and he was not called to order, so I thought we had the latitude.

Anyway, that is fine. I did want to make the point, though, that conservation is a priority for Nalcor, it is a priority for this government, and we will do whatever we can in that regard to benefit the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

One of the other pieces which I spoke on the last time, we were talking about the power lines. The power line corridor, the expropriation of the land that is required. The last time I spoke I kind of focused on addressing the points that were made by the Member for The Straits – White Bay North and his concerns, as well as the Member for St. John's Centre and her concerns, about having to cut trees and having to perhaps eliminate berry patches that might be there, that you can no longer pick berries in certain areas, and all this kind of thing.

The part that I did not address, which I will address now in the time I have left, is the part about the expropriation of properties, cabins, cottages, and so on. I think it has been pointed out that there are really not a large number of them that are going to be impacted, but there will be some. There is no doubt, there will be some.

I spoke about the need for this power corridor in order for us to deliver the power that is generated, the need for the power so that we can develop our natural resources. While we understand that it may not be visually appealing and so on, while we understand that from an environmental perspective there is no doubt it will disrupt certain areas, we will mitigate against it as best we can using environmental standards.

There is no doubt that trees will have to be cut down, berry patches will be sacrificed to that process in certain areas. Scattered blueberry and bakeapples – there are lots of them in other areas. We are not going to destroy it all. You can look at that for any area where if you build a hotel, you build houses, you put up buildings: well, the trees have to go. It is as simple as that.

AN HON. MEMBER: I will get my blueberries.

MR. LANE: I will get my blueberries, too. You have to strike a balance.

The same thing when we talk about cottages and cabins, we understand. I totally get it. We have a summer home that we go to out in St. Mary's Bay. I have lots of friends and family who have cabins and cottages all over the Province. I understand for some people that is their second home. As a matter of fact, there are people putting more time and energy and resources into their cabins than into their houses in some cases. I totally get that.

There is nobody here on the government side who is saying we are going to undertake this project and we are going to go out of our way, Mr. Chair, to destroy people's cabins, to destroy their hunting grounds, to destroy their berry patches, to do harm to people, to their way of life, to their enjoyment of the outdoors. We have no intention of doing that. Nalcor has no intention of doing that, but for the greater good – and that is what it comes down to. For the greater good of the Province, people of Newfoundland and Labrador, for all the right reasons we have talked about here hundreds of times, we have to do it. You have to strike a balance.

Unfortunately, while you would love to be able to do everything, just sail through perfectly with no collateral damage, for lack of better terminology, sometimes there are going to be certain circumstances where yes, unfortunately, do you know what? That cabin is going to have to go; unfortunately that cottage is going to have to go.

In recognition of that, we have a system put in place in the legislation, a process to ensure that people are treated fairly, that they receive appropriate compensation for their properties and so on, Mr. Chair. I think that is the reasonable thing to do. I do not think anybody could expect any different than that.

Again, it comes down to being reasonable, fair and practical, and looking out for the bigger picture. That is why governments are elected, that is why leaders are elected, to make sometimes the tough decisions, to make decisions that are not always popular with everybody all the time but in the best interests of the Province as a whole. That is why we are doing it. That is why I support it.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for St. John's North.

MR. KIRBY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: I will just remind the hon. member, we are discussing Bill 60.

MR. KIRBY: Yes. I would just like to correct the Member for Mount Pearl North. When I was talking about the –

AN HON. MEMBER: South.

MR. KIRBY: Sorry, Mount Pearl South.

I was actually talking about the need for this transmission corridor and facility to support government's monopoly that we are talking about. Really the nature of the power purchase agreement –

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. KIRBY: – basically means that Nalcor is using this transmission, this new transmission and very, very expensive transmission, to supply power to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Really what it will mean is Hydro will have no other choice but to take all the power it is given. We will need this massive transmission facility to accommodate that because we are driving all of that power down right through, right down the Great Northern Peninsula, through Central Newfoundland, and all the way down to Soldiers Pond.

I guess that is great for Nalcor, if you look at it from a corporate perspective, but I think it is problematic for Hydro to some extent. Of course, as I was saying when I was up earlier, and that is where the Member for Mount Pearl South got the mistaken impression that I was addressing the other bill, if conservation happened there would be less demand for power and Hydro could, I suppose, be forced to charge more for the power. As I ended up, I was talking about how we need to do that in order to pay off the massive debt that is involved there.

It all really comes back to the whole monopolistic element of all of this, and I am really surprised. I am really surprised, Mr. Chair, because I would not have thought that the Progressive Conservative Party would have supported a configuration, a development, and a plan including from the dam and the transmission to all the related legislation we have been discussing this week, and a plan that does not support market competition. I would –

CHAIR: I would remind the hon. member you are on a fine line.

MR. KIRBY: I understand, Mr. Chair, and I appreciate your understanding.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

It is difficult hearing the hon. member.

MR. KIRBY: I am surprised they support monopolistic development that enjoys a captive market and consumers who are captive by this development and all of this expenditure.

I am not saying the people at Nalcor are not well-meaning. They are. In all of my interactions with the people at Nalcor, I have found them to be courteous. They have been quite polite. They have been very accommodating. They are certainly very knowledgeable. People have talked about Mr. Ed Martin and –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. KIRBY: – and Gilbert Bennett in that they are very knowledgeable. What I am saying is when things go bad and if costs skyrocket in the end, they can just shrug and raise rates without any fear. There is nothing they can do.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I have asked the hon. member on two occasions now to speak to Bill 60, An Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project. I ask the hon. member to speak to Bill 60.

Thank you.

MR. KIRBY: Thanks, Mr. Chair.

The reason I raise this is because we have talked about a lot of different reports that have been released over the last year or so that either support or do not support. Well, actually, the government has talked exclusively about reports that support Muskrat Falls, but there certainly have been reports that do not support this particular plan. The transmission, the expropriation of lands, and all of that certainly falls into that.

I say, Mr. Chair, there was one report that was released. It was authored by a gentleman named Gordon Weil. It was published by – I do not know if I have it here in my notes, but I think it was the C.D. Howe Institute. It was really dismissed somehow as he was a right winger and, look, the NDP or the Liberals are clamouring around this report as though somehow we are embracing right-wing ideology. That is not the case at all.

I am not here to talk about the things that Gordon Weil said that supports government's position. We know government has lots of very talented researchers who provide resources to them and who have worked to support their argument. There is no question about that.

I raise this because of government's inclination to discredit anyone who has raised concerns about Muskrat Falls, whether it is transmission and expropriation of land or any other aspect of this, the whole thing. It is expensive to do this. Government stood up at every opportunity to try and discredit anyone who stands up against them. I think it is essential that everyone here knows about the person who wrote that article. I would say if the Premier read and the Premier understood who that person was, it might have saved us from being here all week I say, Mr. Chair.

Let us have a look at this gentleman's resume because I think it is very relevant. I am sure, Mr. Chair, you have read the article in question as well. I hope other members of the House have had an opportunity. He is, "Chairman of the Weil Consulting Group and President of Standard Energy Company, Augusta, Maine. Gordon Weil graduated from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine (A.B.), the College of Europe, Bruges, Belgium…", which I visited myself, and Columbia University, New York, where he got a Ph.D. I know the hon. Government House Leader, like myself, has completed a doctorate. He has a doctorate in public law and government. "He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa."

AN HON. MEMBER: Who is?

MR. KIRBY: Gordon Weil. "He was Commissioner of Business Regulation, Director of the Office of Energy Resources and Public Advocate of the State of Maine. He has served on numerous regional energy bodies and was chair of the national organization of state energy agencies."

I would say, Mr. Chair, in that capacity he has dealt with plans just like this one to build a massive, massive transmission facility to go from all the way up in the Big Land at the Lower Churchill, Muskrat Falls, come all the way down through Labrador, then across the Straits, then all the way down the Great Northern Peninsula, across Central Newfoundland, then across the Isthmus, and down to Soldiers Pond. He has dealt with things very, very much like this, Mr. Chair.

"He was the chair of the New England negotiations leading to the region's electric transmission tariff and the Independent System Operator. A licensed energy broker, he has engaged in wholesale and retail power purchasing and power sales and strategy development for wholesale and large retail consumers in the U.S. and Canada.

"He has taught at several colleagues and universities and he is author of 12 books and numerous articles on economic, governmental, and historical subjects. He was a local elected official" and on and on and on. This gentleman's resume indicates that he is quite knowledgeable to speak on these matters and he is no right-wing hack.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENT: Mr. Chair, thank you for the opportunity to rise once again and speak to Bill 60. If my speech is slurred, I can assure hon. members that if I am drunk, I am only drunk with excitement about participating in this important process, I say to the minister.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENT: The only thing I have consumed is water, green tea, and a few other caffeinated beverages.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs needs sleep as well, Mr. Chair.

I do have to respond to some of the comments of my hon. colleague, the Member for St. John's North. I was particularly bothered by his comments related to monopoly.

The situation today in terms of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and Newfoundland Power is what it is. It is an arrangement that I think has served the people of the Province well. When he talks about Nalcor being a monopoly, Nalcor is owned by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. This is not about creating a monopolies, I say to the hon. Member for St. John's North. This is about Newfoundlanders and Labradorians having control of their natural resources and having control of their own destiny. It is about harnessing the power that our natural resources present, and we are seizing those opportunities.

What is almost as bizarre as the arguments about monopolization are the arguments that come from the NDP energy experts? I do not know whose bio the Member for St. John's North was just reading. Are you aware?

AN HON. MEMBER: A fellow Weil, or something like that.

MR. KENT: Weil.

We spent most of the night listening to the Member for The Straits – White Bay North talk about all of the great work that is being done in Ontario, and the Member for St. John's Centre did the same thing. They both talked at length about how we should learn from Ontario, the shrimp shells and the wood pellets, and there was some other piece of that as well –

AN HON. MEMBER: Hot springs.

MR. KENT: The thermal hot springs in Iceland.

I heard from the Member for The Straits – White Bay North and I heard for Member for St. John's Centre over and over again that Ontario was the mecca when it came to modern energy. Yet, I heard the leader of the NDP repeatedly quote her expert, Tom Adams, who I have been Tweeting with this morning, Mr. Chair. That has been enlightening. I thank Mr. John Samms for jumping in and adding some intelligence to the discussion, beyond what I can add after this many hours on my feet in the House.

In terms of Mr. Adams – so again, the members opposite are talking about how great things are in Ontario and how we should learn from them, and they talk –

CHAIR: I am sure the Member for Mount Pearl North is going to get to Bill 60 in a minute (inaudible).

MR. KENT: I am, actually, Mr. Chair. That is exactly what I am going to talk about here. I will just finish my point. Then I am going to talk about municipal issues that the Member for Burgeo – La Poile has referenced.

While the folks opposite talk about wind and solar, Mr. Adams says there is no justification for investing in wind and solar. He says another quaint idea that electricity conservation in Ontario is going to reduce power bills, yet the Member for St. John's North spends ten minutes this morning talking about how electricity conservation is going to solve all our problems. So, it is a little bit disingenuous.

Then Mr. Adams goes on to say earlier this month, Ontario, the place that these folks want us to be more like, Mr. Adams, their expert, says Ontario is lost in space, trying to create jobs out of wind, solar, and other kinds of pixie dust, Mr. Chair – but I digress.

It feels like it was hours ago now, but the Member for Burgeo – La Poile, who has contributed rather constructively to this debate in recent hours, posed some good questions around the impact on municipalities. I have said at the time that I was going to rise and talk about some of those concerns, and then there was some disruptive behaviour in this House, that, of course, I will not talk about further at this point in time. I am pleased to address some of these municipal issues that the Member for Burgeo – La Poile was raising several hours ago.

In terms of municipalities being compensated for the land they own, if a municipality owns the land it will be compensated in the same manner that private landowners will be compensate. This does not include Crown land that is situated within a municipality, which, of course, is owned by the Crown.

The member raised some concerns around consultations. There has never been a government of Newfoundland and Labrador that has been more committed to consulting with – not only consulting with people, Mr. Chair, but engaging with the public.

In terms of the consultation process with municipalities, proponents already have been consulting with, and will continue to consult with affected municipalities throughout the Province, throughout this process, Mr. Chair.

The proponents are not providing any services or products to the residents of these municipalities that are impacted. They are simply erecting transmission infrastructure which happens to pass through communities.

When we talk about tax exemption, the tax emption is only for project purposes. Municipalities will have the ability to tax the proponents for activities outside the project. The municipalities will also retain the ability to tax the proponents if it provides a service to a proponent such as – a couple of examples – water and sewer, for instance.

The amendments that we are proposing here Bill 60, Mr. Chair, are absolutely consistent with the current legislation that gives Nalcor, that gives Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and its subsidiaries tax exemptions as Crown corporations. We are certainly being consistent in that regard.

Another issue that has come up, I believe it is the Member for St. John's North who has raised this issue around Emera and what exemptions they may or may not get, and whether Emera is being treated differently than Newfoundland Power. The tax exemption is applicable to the Muskrat Falls Project. Emera is not being exempted from activities outside of the project, Mr. Chair, nor if it required services from a municipality.

Newfoundland Power's business activities within municipalities are taxable, but its transmission and utility line assets are not taxable, Mr. Chair. This treatment is consistent with how Emera is being dealt with under the legislation.

Another concern that I think has been raised – I have heard it at some point during this debate – relates to municipalities authority to issue permits. I would say to this hon. House: The project has been sanctioned by this government as the best way to meet the Province's long-term energy needs, and as such, the completion of the project in an efficient and in a timely manner, Mr. Chair, is absolutely essential. It is good for the Province, good for the taxpayers of the Province, and it is good in terms of meeting our energy needs.

There cannot be a risk that a municipality would interfere with the timely completion of the project by delaying or refusing the issuance of permits or other authorizations. Hopefully that would not happen, Mr. Chair, because I think, as the Minister of Municipal Affairs has outlined quite well, municipalities in this Province, all 276 of them, are quite supportive of what we are doing to build clean, green, and renewable energy that is going to have huge economic impact on this Province and allow us to meet the many infrastructure needs of our communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

We do need clarity and we do need to ensure we can complete the project in an efficient manner and in a timely manner. That is what is required. What we are doing through this legislation assures consistency across all municipalities.

The municipalities in question, the municipalities involved, Mr. Chair, have already been consulted on the proposed transmission line. We are going to continue to consult with them at every step of this process. Transmission lines, though, I should also tell this House, actually are going to pass through very, very few municipalities.

Another concern that has been raised in terms of municipal issues relates to compatibility with current development plans within a municipality. I know there are a large number of former municipal leaders in this hon. House. The authorities granted under this legislation will take precedent over any existing municipal development plans. That is obviously essential to the success and in terms of the planning of this project.

I realize my time is about to run out, Mr. Chair. I thank you for the opportunity to participate again, and I thank you for allowing me a little bit of latitude at the beginning to address some of the comments of the Member for St. John's North.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It is certainly a pleasure again to rise and speak to the bill that is on the Table, Mr. Chair, An Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project. Mr. Chair, throughout the last three or four days, I have certainly focused on the environmental impacts coming from the project as registered and the footprint area. I have brought up a lot of issues, a lot of concerns, Mr. Chair, that range from impacts on the resident caribou herds and the migratory caribou herds that could potentially be impacted by the proposed transmission line.

I mentioned earlier this morning, Mr. Chair, that expropriation is not limited by this act to land resources or land base. It also applies to expropriation of water flow and water rights. I will again, almost as summary, go back to the environmental assessment where it was recommended that an environmental assessment be carried out in Lake Melville itself. As you apply the loan guarantee to the term sheet, Mr. Chair, it says in there that prior to loan guarantee all environmental and Aboriginal rights must be negotiated.

I heard a comment by the Premier yesterday in Question Period that we do not give up and we negotiate to protect the people of the Province. It is certainly good to hear that comment, Mr. Chair. I encourage the Premier to also negotiate with the people in the Province. There is a reason I am saying that. Last month, as a result of Nalcor's position and the Lieutenant-Governor in Council's position, Mr. Chair, impacts from the proposed Muskrat Falls Project would stay within the confines of the proposed dam. In reference to dam construction around the world, where flooding occurs methylmercury is created.

I talked a little bit this morning, Mr. Chair. I gave some examples of human consumption levels of acceptance with mercury. To tie it all in, Mr. Chair, with natural mercury levels in fish and in respect relative to Lake Melville, what the levels of methylmercury in fish are is a result of the Upper Churchill Project and what the potential levels of mercury could be in fish is a result of the Muskrat Falls Project.

Mr. Chair, if there is any increase of levels now that has been measured from the Upper Churchill, it is certainly from a distance that is in excess of 300 kilometres away. We are certainly hopeful that from the time that mercury is created from creating Smallwood Reservoir has diminished to a point where human consumption is still possible in Lake Melville, Mr. Chair. That baseline work should have been done. I have never seen the report indicating that there was any work done downstream of the proposed project, Mr. Chair. I could go so far as to assume that the reason for this is because of the position that no environmental impacts will arise from the project downstream.

I would like to go back to section 3 of the tabled legislation, Mr. Chair, where it talks about the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement and that the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement would take precedence over the proposed legislation. It goes on to say in this legislation that this act will supersede many, many others. The reason for having this in place, Mr. Chair, is because of the legislation that is there now, this government feels it is not appropriate to go forward with statutory easement or expropriation. That is the reason for this legislation, Mr. Chair.

I would just like to point out again to remind the Chair that the terms and conditions of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement, and I will quote a small section again, Mr. Chair, "…shall have precedence over the provision of this Act…". I go back to the comments and duty to consult. I would go back to late November when the Nunatsiavut Government did come forward and say that, to follow due process and referencing the term sheet, the consultation did not occur to the satisfaction of the Nunatsiavut Government. We have heard multiple explanations from the Premier and from the Minister of Natural Resources that, yes, they did consult, Mr. Chair.

In looking at the position of this government and the explanations they gave, and looking at the explanations by the Nunatsiavut Government, there is a discrepancy, and an obvious discrepancy. One is saying yes; one is saying no.

Mr. Chair, upon sanctioning of the project just a short while ago – I have been in this hon. House so long that I cannot remember exactly when it was, but it was just recently – the Premier said this project could not go ahead without the help of Aboriginal peoples. Immediately on the heels of that debate, Mr. Chair, there was another press release by the Nunatsiavut Government saying that it does not support the project as sanctioned. President Leo did not say she does not support the project. She was asked that in the original press conference and she did not answer it. What she does say is that she does not agree with the project as sanctioned.

Mr. Chair, if you tie that into the term sheet and you tie all of this into section 3 of the tabled legislation, Aboriginal peoples have not been consulted. The reason the concern is there – and I have talked about the mercury levels – is there are some 5,000 Inuit who live in Lake Melville and the Lake Melville area, and there are Labrador Inuit-owned lands on both the north side of Lake Melville and on the south side of Lake Melville.

If we could jump ahead to when this project is up and running, Mr. Chair, that this government is so much looking forward to, when the switch is thrown the question becomes: What of the environmental impacts will result? The difference between the Muskrat Falls Project and the Upper Churchill is that the Muskrat Falls Project, although smaller in footprint area or flooding area, is right next to the community of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, to the community of Mud Lake, and to the community of North West River.

I have a very short time left, but I would like to say again, there are over 14,000 fathoms of subsistence fishing gear that goes into Lake Melville, along with the recreational fishery, and along with a winter fishery of smelt and trout, Mr. Chair. All of this is subject to potential contamination that none of us would like to see.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I am now going to address one of the issues that I said I would yesterday. I made some notes of questions that were raised, or issues that were raised. I did not have an opportunity to finalize all of them.

Today, I am going to talk again about the pricing of oil, significantly in relation to the report referred to by the NDP from Harvard Economist, Leonardo Maugeri on the Oil: The Next Revolution. Mr. Maugeri's credentials are quite good. He is a fellow at Harvard University in John F. Kennedy School and holds a Ph.D. in international economics.

Mr. Maugeri in his paper, it is quite a lengthy paper, but he argues that after you look at the risk factors, depletion rates and reserves, that world oil capacity could increase to 17.6 barrels per day to about 110 barrels in 2020. That is very consistent with what Dr. Mark Schwartz, in his paper that has been filed here by PIRA says the same thing. I think it is consistent with what I said yesterday in terms of my meetings with Wood Mackenzie.

One of the interesting points though, and this is very consistent with what I have been saying throughout when we talk about the price of oil. When we talked to Dr. Schwartz the last time in New York, one of the issues we looked at is: How low will the price of oil go? Because that feeds into the sensitivity analysis conducted by MHI where I indicated yesterday that even if the price of oil went to $61 a barrel, Muskrat Falls would still have a CPW preferential over Isolated Island of $584 million, or a half billion dollars.

Mr. Maugeri looks at that and he says that the economic pre-requisite to capacity growth is around $70. That is very consistent. I have talked about the shale oil production in the Bakken fields in North Dakota and the cost per barrel being – I will use a very wide range because it is more difficult - $50 to $75 per barrel, $65, $70 per barrel. We know that in the oil sands in Alberta we are looking at a price of around $80 to $85 per barrel. That is the cost of production.

One of the things that makes our oil offshore so good, is not only is it sweeter crude, Brent light crude, but it is also cheaper to produce. So, off our shore there would have to be significant capital investments in terms of building a GBS, building an FPSO. Once they are built and paid for, then the cost of producing the oil is certainly lower than what we are seeing in Alberta.

The question of where the growth is going to come from, that is very interesting. I think even since Mr. Maugeri wrote his paper in June, we have a situation where shale oil has changed even again. I remember when I met with Dr. Schwartz earlier in the year I think he expected shale oil to go up 1.5 million barrels per day. This was probably only December or January, 1.5 million barrels per day up to 2020. Now they have upped that prediction to where it could be, I think, 4.5 million to 5 million barrels per day.

There is no argument that the Americans are certainly moving towards self-sufficiency, but we still have the growth in the rest of the world. Where the oil is going to come from, there is a lot of oil off the Coast of Brazil that is still to be explored. We have the heavy crude out of Venezuela. Venezuela, I think, is one of the biggest producers and potentially even a bigger producer, but it is what is referred to as extra heavy oil. Brazil has pre-salt oil, Canadian oil sands. What you have are these heavier oils that are more difficult to get at.

What is happening in the United States is certainly going to affect, and that is Mr. Maugeri's point here. What I see from Mr. Maugeri's paper is consistency with what other experts are saying, or what Dr. Schwartz is saying at PIRA, what Wood Mackenzie is saying. That is that the price of oil has to stay at a certain level in order for it to be profitable, because oil companies are not in this – this is not a charity. They are in it to make money. ExxonMobil, I think up until Apple took over, I think was the biggest company in the world. We have some big companies here, high risk, they look for high rewards.

What Mr. Maugeri is saying is that oil could – he makes one comment, and this was the comment I had some difficulty with, with the Leader of the NDP saying the oil will go to $50. No one out there is predicting oil is going to $50. There is one comment towards the end of that paper where there is a reference, but that is not the subject, the tenor or the conclusion reached in that paper. Mr. Maugeri's comments are very similar to Dr. Schwartz. At page 3 he talks about the $50 to $65 to produce shale oil. At page 4, he talks the fall of prices below $70 Brent.

We have to remember, there will be a point when it is expected that West Texas will start the differential that now exists of approximately – it could be $20 a barrel; I have not checked it yet today - that differential will start to close. As more West Texas Intermediate oil gets to the market, the $20 difference will close.

We have predications from PIRA, Sproule Associates, GLJ, we have Wood Mackenzie, and they are all predicting that oil will stay over $100 a barrel in the 2020s. That is very consistent. The US Energy Administration indicates that they look at oil – they are assuming $100 in 2013, but they do not get into, I do not think, the chart I have does not show them getting into the long-term predictions like the others. What we have is a situation where it is consistent with other writers.

Also, and this is very important that Mr. Maugeri talks about, there are issues here; the shale oil is happening so fast that we still have not gotten a real good view of where it is going. There is still the economic impacts. I indicated yesterday that with all of the drilling, though, of the shale, the horizontal drilling in the United States, the environmental impacts would seem to be not a major concern in the US, whether or not they are in Canadian provinces remains to be seen.

This is important, because this is just the way the academic world works: There have been critiques of Dr. Maugeri's paper, including the Steve Sorrell at the University of Sussex and Christophe McGlade at the University College of London. They say that Maugeri's conclusions are inconsistent with those of industry experts, including Cambridge Energy Research Associates and US Energy Information Administration, that his projections are very sensitive to the assumed rate of decline of production. That is a very important point because to this day we do not know how much oil there is in Saudi Arabia.

We know that Iran has a lot of oil and Iran situation is always so sensitive, it could impact the amount of oil available to the world. These are the criticisms – and I am just outlining the criticisms and there can be criticisms of anything. He failed to provide adequate justification for his assumptions. They appear to be inconsistent with the available evidence. That if he adopted more realistic estimates it would significantly change the results.

When you look at the other forecaster views, he predicts – Maugeri, again – that global crude oil prices will decline sometime between now and 2020; however, he does not provide specific price forecasting. If you go through that paper, and I have read every word of it, he does not provide a specific price forecast.

Then if you look at the energy markets and the view in the energy market that there are so many unconventional sources of crude supply right now – and I talked about the Brazilian oil, the Venezuelan oil, the oil sands, so that there is going to be global demand growth, no question about that.

Bernstein Research expects global oil prices to increase between now and 2020, as do most of the other experts. What they are doing is because of the shale oil, they have brought their estimates down and they all seem to be around that $100 a barrel; some go to $113. If something happened in Iran and you take that oil out of the market, all of sudden you can see the price go up. It is a very volatile market – one of the reasons that we want to get away from fossil fuels. We do not want to rely on fossil fuels for electricity prices because of the inherent volatility and uncertainty that comes with them.

Mr. Chair, we have to look at what exactly these prices are. Mr. Maugeri is very consistent in some areas, but he does not put out a specific price forecast. I am looking at various price forecasts from the main – and I will use our Brent because that is what we have: PIRA goes up to all over $100 a barrel; the US Energy Administration is only 2012-2013, over $100 a barrel; Sproule Associates, except for 2015 at $99.47, over $100 a barrel; GLJ Petroleum Consultants up to 2030 is over $100 a barrel; Barclays, for the next two years, is $125 to $130; and Reuters showing up to $100.

He is consistent in some ways, but there is no specific price forecast. I would suggest anyone quoting lengthy articles should quote them accurately and perhaps even should read them.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR (Cross): Order, please!

The Chair recognizes the hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I will just address a couple of comments from the Natural Resources Minister. He said he has not seen anywhere where the price of oil is going to be going down to $50 a barrel. I guess he has not read the report the other day from the Bank of America Merrill Lynch on CNN Money. I will table that article for the minister if he would like. U.S. oil prices could sink to $50 a barrel is the headline.

Let me read a couple of lines for you: "U.S. oil prices could sink to $50 a barrel at some point over the next two years, according to analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. But don't expect a corresponding drop in gas prices." That is fine and dandy.

"Merrill analysts expect U.S. oil prices to still average about $90 a barrel over the same time period. Global oil prices meanwhile, which more closely dictate the price of gasoline in the United States, are expected to remain high as growth in global oil supplies lags population growth and economic output."

We recognize there is going to be some sort of change in the pressures on oil. Nobody said anything about that. What we are talking about is what is going to be happening in the States to the US Northeast markets. That is the concern here that we are actually going to have. We know what the government here wants to do and we believe in what government wants to do when it comes to Holyrood and taking off us oil dependence. Failing to address what is happening on coastal Labrador when it comes to the use of diesel is another thing.

I say to the Natural Resources Minister: There is no ignoring the fact of what natural gas and what shale oil is going to be doing to the US Northeastern Seaboard in the competitive markets where we are proposing to dump electricity into and hopefully make a return on. That is the whole point of the question. While we still do not know yet, all of these articles are giving good examples of how much the volatility is out there that the government, I do not believe, has addressed yet. That is the concern.

What they are saying down here a little bit further too, as regards to what is happening in the States, the only problem they have now in the States, the only thing that is preventing the oil prices from falling right now, is a glut situation that is happening; they cannot deliver it into some regions right now.

What is going on is that they are hopefully going to get more pipelining infrastructure in there, put in place, so they can actually deliver to some of these refineries and everything and get it out there. Once that happens, once they find a way of actually delivering it to market and getting some of it on stream, what you are going to see with the price of oil here being down to $50 a barrel – and again, there is nothing confirmed that it is going to drop down to $50 a barrel, but I would take it from the Bank of America Merrill Lynch that there is something to it. What is going to happen is that you are actually going to see the price of Brent crude oil drag down because people are going to go after the cheaper product on the market.

MR. KENNEDY: You showed your true colours this morning.

MR. MURPHY: I say to the minister: If he wants to go ahead and bring that up, that is fine and dandy, if he wants to go that way. We are talking about the price of oil and we are talking about the volatility –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Member for St. John's East.

MR. MURPHY: Some hon. members over there are showing a little bit of respect, thank you very much, so that we can go ahead and talk about this.

MR. KENT: You are an embarrassment to your party and this House.

MS MICHAEL: Mr. Chair, a point of order.

CHAIR: The Member for Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi, on a point of order.

MS MICHAEL: Our Standing Orders and practice in Legislatures in this country do not tolerate personal comments made directly from one member to the other that was just done by the Member for Mount Pearl North. I would like a ruling on what just happened.

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The Member for St. John's East, to continue.

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Chair. It continues.

The bank predicts the US economy will grow by 1.5 per cent in 2012, so that is not too far off from the numbers of PIRA; I will agree with the member on that, in 2013, and 2.8 per cent in 2014. So there is going to be growth and, no doubt, there is going to be demand on their own product. That is fine and dandy, but again I say to the Minister of Natural Resources and I say to the government: There could be some pricing pressures when it comes to Brent crude oil and that could end up dragging Brent crude down.

Now, I do not know if he has seen that any reports. He probably has not, but do you know why? It is probably not something that is going to be able to stick right out at you at the immediate point in time, but it is a fact of the market that if you see a cheaper product out there, you are going to go for it and that is going to force everybody else to drop their price. That is the way it happens out there on the market.

My guess is that there is not going to be too much upward pressure on Brent crude oil prices. They will be sustained and they may drop back a little bit, so we have to be cautious, even for the Minister of Finance, for example, when he comes up with his Budget predictions over the next little while. We have to be very cautious.

The markets are very touchy. As we saw yesterday in the article I was telling people about, and particularly when it comes to natural gas, they are building these facilities to put electricity out on the markets now hand over fist. For 655 megawatts, a plant is being built in New Jersey for $750 million versus our 824 megawatts for Muskrat Falls at $8.8 billion. Which option would you pick, option A or option B? Mr. Chair, I say to you that my option would be option A, the $750 million for 655 megawatts. It is a bargain.

That is what they are doing with their resource down there. If David Suzuki said it makes it insane to be burning energy to manufacture energy, that is fine and dandy and that is one thought. How do we train the thinking in the US Northeast that is indeed the case when we are talking about matching people's thoughts with revenue? That is what we are trying to compete against. We are trying to compete against revenue here, too, at the same time. All these bills here, Bill 60 and 61, are linked together into the financial needs of what they are looking for, the standards, in the loan arrangement to finance the project. We are seeing a little bit of a loophole here that could potentially take a kick at the Province's finances.

We have to be concerned. We have to be concerned, Mr. Chair, for the finances of the people who are going to be paying for this project through higher rates. We have to be cognizant of the fact that some of the people out there are dealing with a possibility of higher taxation in order to keep government afloat for some of its programming. That is why I keep harping on that particular fact, not even to mention the competitive nature that would have against the possibility of what could be happening in our own offshore, for example, when it comes to competition here.

I do not know if government has really looked at the full impact of this. I really do not; it has been that much of a focus on Muskrat Falls. This has direct effects on Muskrat Falls so we have to stay focused on this. We cannot mitigate in any way Maugeri's thoughts on it. He has been in the industry that long. He is not the only one who is thinking like that. Like I said, it is the Bank of America and Merrill Lynch that are thinking $50 a barrel for WTI. That is going to have a pounding effect, I think, on Brent and it is going to drag prices down. It is going to have a downwards effect on it, unless we see some massive amounts of recovery happening in the world markets, for example, in the next little while.

Let me tell you what is happening in India and China right now when it comes to fracking and everything. They are saying right now that in the Chinese market they are about ten to fifteen years behind in their drilling technology. In the northwest of India, according to Maugeri, they are sitting on some pretty good fields of undiscovered natural gas yet. At least, the potential is there. Indian oil production is starting to rise and the Chinese are starting to explore their own resources, unexplored properties over there.

So, Mr. Chair, while we know the Chinese will be a factor and India will be a factor in the world economy, if they are going to start producing their own that is about that much more that is going to be coming out of somebody else's pocket worldwide when it comes to the economy. We are depending on two countries to carry the load when it comes to oil. To me, out of this whole world, we know about the population and that sort of thing, but if they are going to be developing their own resources, and that is the tack they are starting to take, we could see a massive drop in oil. You will not find that, probably, in PIRA, you will see escalating numbers, but it is a thought. It has to be a consideration that hopefully government has looked at.

Mr. Chair, the other thing I was going to touch on right now there is probably not enough time to do it. I think I will probably park it there. I did want to touch, actually, on a couple of clauses when it came to the legislation. I will get up again later on and talk about that.

Thank you.

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

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

I am happy to be on my feet again and speaking to the bills we are considering at this time with regard to the Muskrat Falls Project. I would like to come back to some environmental issues. The Minister of Natural Resources and I earlier in the morning did have some discussions over environmental issues and the environmental assessment report that was done by the joint review panel for Muskrat Falls. So I would like to come back to some of those recommendations that I do not believe at this point have yet been taken seriously. Now that the project is sanctioned, I would like to start hearing a bit more serious consideration from the government.

The recommendations after the first four recommendations of the report of the joint panel review, once you get past the four of them you start finding that all the recommendations say at the very top, the panel recommends that if the project is approved, and before Nalcor is permitted. So, it is recognizing that if the government made a decision to go ahead and approve, then there are certain things the panel recommends has to be done. I would like to point out there are – I think it is seven. I could be counting wrong, but I think there are seven recommendations with regard to mercury, everything from the potential of mercury in the possible pathways, throughout the food web, and coming all the way from Churchill Falls, the Upper Churchill Falls, all the way down, and out to Lake Melville.

There have been times I have raised this issue in the House in Question Period when I really believed my concern was not being taken seriously and the concerns of the Joint Review Panel were not being taken seriously. As a matter of fact, I remember one day I was being laughed at for saying there was mercury in Lake Melville. Well, it is documented in the report of the Joint Review Panel for Muskrat Falls that there is mercury in Lake Melville and they have documented that mercury comes from the Upper Churchill development. Now, we all know when the Upper Churchill development started and that is 1969. At this point in time, we have mercury in Lake Melville which has been identified by scientists as coming from the Upper Churchill.

There is grave concern raised and it was raised by people who made representation to the Joint Review Panel. One of those was the Nunatsiavut Government, actually, who made representation to the Joint Review Panel with regard to its concerns about mercury. There were scientists who made representation. We have scientific proof of the mercury and we have serious recommendations from the review panel with regard to this potential.

Now, I know the Minister for Natural Resources kept pointing out last night or early this morning that the Joint Review Panel's recommendations are not mandatory. We all know that, but their recommendations are recommendations based on fact. They do not just put things out there for the sake of putting it out.

When we hear a recommendation like recommendation 13.9, which talks about the possible requirement for consumption advisories in Goose Bay or Lake Melville, I think it is incumbent upon the governments to make sure that is taken seriously. This is not just an opinion; this is based on scientific evidence. I know the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans has the major responsibility, but I also think our own Department of Environment and Conservation has responsibility as well for making sure a project in our Province is following what would be considered to be best practices with regard to environmental concerns.

I would like to point out what Recommendation 13.9 says, because not everybody has the time to go into government documents, find these documents and read them. I think it is extremely important that we do so. I am realizing from e-mails I am getting, that people are watching and people are learning through this process. They are learning what the bills are about, they are listening, they are paying attention. For the sake of people who are watching, I want to highlight one of the seven recommendations.

"The Panel recommends that, if the Project is approved and the outcome of the downstream mercury assessment…" – which was an earlier recommendation, this is the second of the mercury recommendations – "indicates that consumption advisories would be required for Goose Bay or Lake Melville, Nalcor" – this is the recommendation – "enter into negotiations prior to impoundment with the parties representing – as appropriate – Goose Bay and Lake Melville resource users. Depending on where the consumption advisories would apply, these could include Aboriginal groups" – and certainly Nunatsiavut has indicated their concern – "the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Mud Lake Improvement Committee, the Town of North West River and the community of Rigolet."

People do not realize that at the end, the community on the coast most affected would be Rigolet. I have actually seen a statement from Nalcor saying they do not really agree with what the Joint Review Panel is saying about mercury. I find that breathtaking, that they could come out and make that statement. The Joint Review Panel has based their comments on evidence, and this evidence has to be paid attention to.

They go on to say in their recommendation, "The purpose of the negotiations would be to reach agreement regarding further mitigation where possible and compensation measures, including financial redress if necessary. This recommendation would also apply later in the process if the downstream mercury assessment indicated that advisories were not likely, but monitoring subsequently required their application."

I think it is really important that Nalcor be made to take action on this. We need baseline data at this moment in time. We needed it before now but we need it now, baseline data with regard to the food chain itself and with regard to the lake. The main river, the food chain all the way out to the lake, we need baseline data.

We need to know where things are now so that after the dam starts, we then can monitor how things progress. This work has to be done. It is essential that this work is done. It is essential that the Department of Environment and Conservation take seriously the recommendations that are in the Joint Review Panel's report with regard to mercury.

The recommendations go further, besides what they believe is necessary with regard to food advisory and the lake, they also go on and "…recommends that, if the Project is approved" – and it now is sanctioned – "Nalcor, in collaboration with Health Canada and the provincial Department of Health and Community Services: consult with Aboriginal groups and affected communities regarding the approach to be taken to baseline and follow-up mercury testing and the communication of results for each group; and establish baseline human mercury levels in Churchill Falls, Upper Lake Melville communities and Rigolet, with consideration given to offering blood tests as well as hair samples for Innu participants, due to inconsistencies noted in the correlation between hair sample results and dietary consumption."

They are looking for important information now at this moment. We need baseline information. What happens to human beings in that area, people who are consuming either through food, through water, what happens as time goes on? The very fact they have been able to identify mercury in Lake Melville from Upper Churchill makes it absolutely common sense that with a dam on the Lower Churchill we are going to get greater mercury.

I have been astounded by the lack of seriousness with which these recommendations have been taken. I was astounded when I actually had one of the ministers, publicly here in the House and in the media, basically laugh at me for raising these issues, which are in the recommendations of the Joint Review Panel.

I would like to say to the minister, that whether or not these recommendations are mandatory, I believe common sense and ethics make it mandatory that the government make sure that Nalcor follow the recommendations in the report of the Joint Review Panel with regard to mercury.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: The Chair recognizes the hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good morning everyone. It is nice to be back up on my feet here this morning. It is nice to have an opportunity to talk about Bill 60 and to debate this important piece of legislation.

We have been doing this for some time now so I do not imagine that very much of what I have to say and relate in regard to the bill is new because we have explained very much of it throughout the night and, in fact, over the last two or three days. I think it is three days. I have lost track of how many days it is.

That is a good thing, Mr. Chair, because it is important that all questions get asked and that all questions get answered. I think that has been happening here. I have been particularly impressed with the answers given by our Minister of Natural Resources. He certainly knows this file exceptionally well and has spent a lot of time, and dedicated a lot of his time to making sure that this project is a sound project for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: We have certainly all had opportunity to speak, that this file has been studied from one end to the other. Seventeen reports he has tabled in this House of Assembly, Mr. Chair, with regard to the project itself, with regard to Muskrat Falls. That, to me, is something that is exceptionally consoling and comforting as we started to dissect and take apart this project so that we all were able to understand it.

Having read bits and pieces, I will say that I have not read all of the seventeen reports in all detail, but I have certainly read all of the seventeen reports in some manner. It has been, for me, a real education to understand from that perspective what has happened.

Mr. Chair, we have already sanctioned this project, so the project will be moving forward. We have a federal loan guarantee, Mr. Chair, and at this point in time we have support from many other sectors that tell us this project is a worthy project and that we should move forward with it.

Mr. Chair, from the federal government perspective, when they signed off on the loan guarantee, they did their due diligence in every way possible. They are not going to do a loan guarantee of the extent of what this project is without having examined this project every which way they possibly could. That was done, Mr. Chair. The due diligence that was given by the federal government was exhibited in the time that it took them to make their final decision on granting the loan guarantee, Mr. Chair.

We know for sure from their perspective they are very comfortable with this project that we are moving forward with. They have not examined it just from the financial perspective, Mr. Chair. They have examined it from every perspective possible to see that this is a feasible project, that this is a regional project that makes sense, not just for Newfoundland and Labrador, but for the whole of the region, Mr. Chair. So, from all of those perspectives, there is great assurance and great certainty that this project should move forward.

Mr. Chair, the last couple of things we need to do to start the ball rolling and to give this project the momentum that it needs right away – because we do not want to procrastinate. We want to move forward right away on this project. We want to start with the financing. We need to go and get the financing that needs to be done because every day is more money spent, Mr. Chair. We need to be able to get out into the markets and do this the right way.

That is why we have these two enabling pieces of legislation here today, Mr. Chair, Bill 60 and Bill 61. At this stage we are looking at Bill 60. I do not have the title of the bill right here in front of me, but it has to do with land acquisition, Mr. Chair. It has to do with the ability to be able to acquire land. Thank you; my colleague has just passed me the legislation relating to land requirements for the Muskrat Falls Project, Bill 60. This project will allow us to acquire the land that we need for putting the transmission lines though, Mr. Chair, an absolutely essential piece of work that we need to do.

We need to do that because we want to make sure we are being fair to everybody in the process. We are looking at 1,100 kilometres of transmission that has to be put in place. We have to be sure we have the land because that is part of the certainty the lenders are going to want to have as they decide to put in place the financing for us. They have to know we have acquired the land on which we are going to put these transmission lines. It is no surprise, Mr. Chair, that we want to get this legislation done so that in actual fact we can get to the business of moving everything forward.

Mr. Chair, in doing that, we realize there are places where the land is going to be land that is Crown land in some cases and land that is private land in other cases. We have to put in place fair practices that will allow adequate compensation when we need to ask people for their land or when we need to expropriate land, Mr. Chair. We have talked about doing that from a very fair perspective.

This is not a matter of gouging anybody. This is a matter of being forthright with the people of the Province in saying this is what has to happen. Here is the process that we have in place. This is what we need to do. Can you help us with this? We will sit down and negotiate. There will be a panel we will put in place if need be. Mr. Chair, this is about getting the land, putting the transmission up, and moving forward on a project that will have ultimate benefit for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Chair, that to me is fairly basic. That is a piece of enabling legislation that I cannot imagine anyone objecting to. I cannot understand why anybody would want to stall on that piece of legislation when the project is already sanctioned, Mr. Chair. When everybody who has looked at this project, and we have all sectors of this Province and of the country who have looked at this project and said it is a wonderful project, why would anybody at this stage of the game, after sanction has already been done, want to get in the way of it? Mr. Chair, it really does not make a whole lot of sense to me.

The benefits to Newfoundland and Labrador of this project, Mr. Chair, while we have already talked about them in many respects, sometimes bear repeating because the benefits are great for everybody, but certainly in terms of future generations for this Province, Mr. Chair. I will always come back to that. For much of what I have done in my life, it has been a dedication to the young people of this Province. Many people would know I spent thirty years in the classroom and loved every minute I was in that classroom as well. I had opportunity to work with young people who always gave me energy. They never took my energy; they always gave me energy. I would come out at the end of the day thinking what great minds we have, what wonderful people we have, and what a wonderful future we have in this Province.

Having said that, now we are able to give them that little extra boost as well when we provide for them a Province that is going to be sustainable, Mr. Chair, and a Province that is going to be a place where they can come, live, work, set down their roots even deeper, raise their families, and see a future where they are not going to have to worry. That is what this project means for me more than anything else, Mr. Chair. It means future, it means vision, and it means sustainability.

Now, in the interim there will be other benefits as well. There will be benefits that will accrue to the business community and to the labour community. We are talking about $1.9 billion in income, Mr. Chair, to labour and business. We are talking about $320 million in average income benefits every year and $290 million in taxes to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. We are talking about 3,100 direct jobs at peak employment, 1,500 direct jobs per year on average during the construction period alone, 9,100 person years of direct employment, including 5,800 in Labrador, and $500 million in income to Labradorians and Labrador businesses. Mr. Chair, those are but a few of the benefits that will happen over the short-term.

In the long term, though, we are going to meet our own energy challenges here in this Province. Mr. Chair, we have an obligation to do that. This is not just about a project we have sized up and we think this would be good. We have an obligation to see to it that we provide for the energy sustainability of this Province. We are, through this project, going to be able to provide stable electricity rates for the residents and the businesses of Newfoundland and Labrador at the lowest possible cost for generations to come

The project is going to be self-financed, Mr. Chair, which is another piece. I have heard our Minister of Finance speak to it on a number of occasions. I have heard our Minister of Natural Resources speak to it on a number of occasions as well. This project will be self-financed, generating revenue to cover its costs, including the debt repayment.

Mr. Chair, this is a win-win on so many different levels. The Premier of Nova Scotia is able to see that. That is why Nova Scotia is clearly with us. The federal government is able to see that, Mr. Chair, and that is why they are clearly with us. The whole of the region of this part of Canada is able to understand that, and they are all clearly with us. What we need to do is pass these next two pieces of legislation to enable this project to happen as it should for the future of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

I very much appreciate the opportunity to have spoken here this morning. I look forward to continuing and participating in this debate.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The Chair recognizes the hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

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

It is an honour and a privilege to stand here again and speak to the legislation. I guess I should check. Are we still on Bill 60? We are still on Bill 60. I did not know if it changed back and forth there. It is still Thursday so anything is possible here. It is like the movie Groundhog Day here. Every day we wake up and it is the same song playing and we are waking up to the same temperature.

I will say for the benefit of Hansard here we did have a very good debate throughout the night. There were questions asked and there were responses given. I enjoyed it, certainly myself, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the Member for Mount Pearl North, and there were other members. I will say that you do not always get the answers you want, but there was an attempt to fulfill what Committee is meant for.

Now, I am not going to belabour this point. I do have some comments as it relates to – I referenced Joe Chesterfield earlier with the possibility under section 13, Uncle Joe. I referenced that in relation to section 13. What I stated was that the notice provisions I had some concern with because they raised the possibility of somebody having an expropriation and not really getting the notice they deserve.

What I would say is that another possible situation – and I am putting out these possibilities. I do not believe they are unfounded; I believe they could happen. The goal is, by doing this, to remove the possibility that this situation could arise. What happens in a situation we are talking about once the notice is given? I think earlier in the legislation it states that they will make an attempt to notify people, but there are situations that could arise where they do not do so.

What if the individual has a sick family member and is unable to leave their bedside and the expropriation goes through? What happens about the situation where there is a family home or a residence of some sort? Will they have an opportunity to go through the process? The title is vested within, I think, seven days under section 13. Is there an opportunity there, depending on if these people are out of the Province or not aware? What happens in terms of removing yourself from the family residence?

I have to be honest; I do not think that will be something that happens very often, but it is a possibility. That is why I put it forward; it is a possibility. Anything can happen here. The thing is we need to eliminate those possibilities as best we can.

The problem with the legislation as it is put forward is that it does not make any allowances for the positions that people may find themselves in. It assumes everybody is a supporter and that people are willing to give up their land freely. The fact is in some cases they are not going to be willing to give up their land freely. I needed to put that concern forward and make sure that it was reflected on the record.

I do not have many further comments to this. I think I am just going to have some general comments. What I would say is that I think as it relates to Bill 60, the expropriation bill which was an enabling piece of legislation, I would say that even though it is fairly straightforward in its intent, there are concerns that are still there that I have outlined. I am hoping that government has heard the concerns that I have outlined and that they will take the necessary steps to alleviate these situations.

I do not think something will happen to a minister not making sure they happen, but the fact is that it is not always the ministers that have the on-the-ground, hands-on experience here. The ministers make decisions, but sometimes it is people under them in the chain of comment who handle this. We need to eliminate the possibility for confusion or failure to have proper notification, especially when it comes to the fact that you could have your land taken away. It is not a case of acquiring land; it is a case of land being taken away.

I am hoping that when the land is taken that it is a process that most of it should be mutual negotiation. Negotiation that happens and that there is a deal reached. In saying that, I think I put that out there. What I am going to do at this point is I will take my seat. I am going to review the legislation a bit further. At this point I will sit down and allow somebody else the opportunity to speak to this.

CHAIR: The Chair recognizes the hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

We are still in Committee stage on Bill 60. I would like at this point in time to move that we adjourn debate on Bill 60 for the time being and go back into debate on Bill 61, please.

CHAIR: Order, please!

We are now considering Bill 61.

The Chair recognizes the hon. the Member for the Bay of Islands.

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I am just going to have a few words on Bill 61 again. As we all know, it is more known as the Muskrat Falls bill. It is something we all know is already completed and already sanctioned by government. As usual, there are certain points you would like to make.

One of the points, Mr. Chair, I have been trying to make the last couple of days I will keep asking to try to get answers from the government. The issues I have been asking is we see the Minister of Finance on a regular basis and other government members standing up and talking about this $20 billion profit we are going to make over fifty years. As we all know, Mr. Chair, this whole project will be paid for by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. We are going to use 40 per cent of the power, yet we are paying 100 per cent of the cost.

Mr. Chair, there is a fundamental question: If the ratepayers, the 220,000 or 230,000 householders in Newfoundland and Labrador or however many people are hooked onto the grid, are going to pay for this project 100 per cent, if these householders have to pay a certain amount to obtain a profit in 2017, as the minister has stated, $20 billion, fifty years over the life of the project, he must have the rate he is going to charge each and every household in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. You cannot stand up and say, Mr. Chair, we are going to make X number of dollars without saying: Here is what we are going to charge. You just cannot have it.

Either one of two things is not correct. One, he is not sure how much profit we are ever going to make on it, if any. Second, he does not know how much we are going to charge and has not told the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. You cannot have it both ways – you just cannot have it.

This is the big question I asked. We all can get on. I know the Minister of Natural Resources got up many times yesterday, at least twenty to twenty-five times when I was here, giving all the technical stuff, and doing it in such a way that: Okay, yes, we have our homework done on this and we have our expert analysis on a lot of this. At times, Mr. Chair, when you are sitting down and listening to it, you say: Well, there is a lot of work done on it and there is a lot of background work. The big question people a lot of people are asking me on Muskrat Falls: What will we be paying per kilowatt hour?

Mr. Chair, they can tell you why wind power is not good. They can tell you why natural gas is not good. They can tell you why other electric developments are not good. They can tell you how much profit is going to be made in the first year, how much is going to be made in the second year, how much is going to be made in the third year, but they cannot tell you how much we are going to have to pay per kilowatt. They can talk about the profit. They can talk about how much we are going to make over fifty years. They can talk about this rate odometer over in Nalcor, yet you cannot tell the average person in Newfoundland and Labrador how much per kilowatt they are going to pay on their bill.

It is either one or two things, Mr. Chair. If you went to someone in Grade 6 and said: If you have $10 and it costs $15, how much are you going to lose? They can say: Well, we need another $5. If you have $10 and that costs $8, how much do you have left? You have $2. The government can tell you how much we are going to make, but they cannot tell you how much we are going to spend and how much it is going to cost you to do it. It just does not make sense.

Either they have the information, they are not sharing it with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, or they just do not have it and they are just hauling this figure out of the air saying okay, let's make this look good – we are hauling this figure out of the air, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Chair, I challenge the government and I challenge the members opposite – when Nalcor came out with this rate calculator and said okay, here is what your rate is going to be, and everybody looked at it and said my God, that is not that bad. That is not bad when you look at that rate calculator. That is all that is going to be. That is not too bad.

I challenge the government, I actually challenge them, whatever rate you can punch in on that rate calculator, legislate it, that there is going to be your rate that you are going to have to pay. If you are so confident and got Emera to set this rate calculator up, that the average person can call in say what is my light bill today if it is 10.2, 10.3, if it is $150 a month, within five years it is going to be up to $162, $163. If you really believe in that rate calculator, legislate those rates here today and I guarantee you will have one member here supporting Muskrat Falls. Because then we have a guarantee what the average person's increase will be, what the cost will be to the average householder in Newfoundland and Labrador, and that is what it is all about to me, Mr. Chair.

We can always get on about what we are going to sell on the spot market. Are we going to sell it in Maine? Are we going to find markets in the US? Are we going to sell to Nova Scotia? If it is our power, I think we should benefit from it first.

When you hear all of the ministers standing up one after the other and you hear the members opposite standing up one after the other saying: Oh, no, it is not going to raise that much; just go check the rate calculator. Legislate it – legislate it. If you really feel that there is going to be the cost per household, if that there is not just some pie in the sky that you set up over at Nalcor as the calculator, come in and legislate it, and see how quick you get a lot of people to support Muskrat Falls.

That is very simple because if you are saying – and we heard government members opposite stand up and say: Oh well, just phone over and check the rate calculator. It does not mean a row of beans. Do you know why, Mr. Chair? Do you know why it does not mean a row of beans? Because they will not legislate that price here today to ensure that here is what your price is going to be because Nalcor on the rate calculator is telling the people – it is just not factual.

What is happening on that rate calculator is not factual. If it were factual, this government would stand up here and legislate the price as to what it is going to be as per that rate calculator. Mr. Chair, do you know why it cannot be done? I think a lot of this – and hopefully I am wrong – is a PR spin.

I will tell you what, how can anybody tell me that I can tell you what the price of something is going to be when I do not know the cost of construction. How can I tell you what your mortgage on your house is going to be when you do not know what size of a house you are going to build, how much it is going to cost you, if you are going to have any cost overruns, yet you are going to say well, here is the price, the final price. By the time you start construction, you are not sure how much it is going to cost to construct it. You do not know if there is going to be any cost overruns on it.

You take Muskrat Falls, a prime example. We are saying here is what the rate is going to charged to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. We do not know what the cost overruns are going to be. We do not have the final cost analysis done yet. We do not know what the cost of the Maritime Link is that we have to pay 50 per cent of. We do not know any of that, Mr. Chair, yet we can tell you what the price is. Just go up and dial a calculator. That is what it is, Mr. Chair, and it cannot be done.

I think it is one of the biggest follies going when Nalcor set that up, giving people a false hope and a false sense of saying here is what your rates will be, here is what your charges will be, so just relax, there is not going to be a great increase, just relax. Most people who did it were impressed, until you dig into the facts and you dig into the numbers and you look at the realistic point of view that you cannot set prices until you know the cost yourself.

With the federal loan guarantee, Mr. Chair, ratepayers in the Province are forced to pay 100 per cent of the cost. So here is the challenge to the government – and I have just a few seconds left, Mr. Chair – here is the challenge to the government: That rate calculator that is in Nalcor, when I sit down, the next person standing up here say I will make a motion in this House that whatever your rates are on that rate calculator are going to be your rates for the next ten to fifteen years. I will second that motion here in this House today, and I say we can walk out of this House in a half hour, get everybody to vote for it. If that is what we are going to do – whoever is next, whoever is going to stand behind me, stand up and say: What we put on the rate calculator at Nalcor are the rates we are going to charge. Legislate it, and I will second it.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Now, Mr. Chair, what I am going to deal with, I am going to address the facts here today. I am going to address the facts as they exist in the Province with relation to power. I am going to address the facts as they exist in the past eleven, twelve years. The one thing we do know – and I will get to it in a second, the illustration of our rates – power rates are going up. Power rates have gone up, and power rates are going up with or without Muskrat Falls.

The question becomes: How do you ensure that there is the minimum increase, and how do you stabilize those rates? That is the issue. None of us have crystal balls. What we have done, as I outlined in great detail over the last couple of days, we have retained experts and we have looked at experts. I am going to come back again to the situation in this Province as it exists in the rest of the country and the rest of the world then I will talk about the rates.

Mr. Chair, the Electricity Rates Forecasting paper that was put out by the Department of Natural Resources in November 2012, we look at the power rates that exist in this Province compared to the rest of the country. Labrador is currently at 3.9 cents a kilowatt hour and is the lowest electricity in the country – that is the interconnected grid – specifically, Lab West, Happy Valley-Goose Bay area. We have done it also with the coast, through subsidization.

Now, we have three provinces that have cheaper rates as present than Newfoundland and Labrador; those are Quebec, Manitoba, and BC. What they all have in common is large hydro. Newfoundland and Labrador currently has the same price as New Brunswick, at 12.6 cents a kilowatt hour. Now, that 12.6 cents a kilowatt hour is a combination of that Holyrood power, which is a minimum 18.5 cents, combined with the cheaper Bay d'Espoir power, we get a blended rate at 12.6.

When Muskrat Falls comes on line – and I hesitate to use these kilowatt hours, but they have been brought up – it will be 15.1 cents a kilowatt hour or 15.2 cents. That will be a combination of the 20.3 cents of Muskrat Falls power delivered to Soldiers Pond combined with the cheaper Island power, giving us a blended rate at 15.1 cents. Currently in Nova Scotia and Ontario, it costs more today for power than it will in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2017.

Mr. Chair, we know that between 2001 and 2011 there was a 32 per cent increase on rates on the Island, or $45 a month. That had nothing to do with Muskrat Falls. It had to do with the price of oil. We know Holyrood is only used at 15 per cent to 25 per cent of the time at present, but as the other power from the closure of the mills is integrated into the system and as Vale Inco comes on line, that 182 megawatts of power, of which we currently use 76 megawatts, will be fully used by 2014, partly as a result of Vale Inco needing 85 megawatts to 90 megawatts of power. Holyrood will have to be used more.

Now, commonsense tells us, with the price of oil being what it is, rates are not going down. Between 2011 and 2016 it is estimated that power rates will go up for the Island ratepayer 16 per cent. That will be 48 per cent between 2001 and 2016. That has nothing to do with Muskrat Falls.

You can talk about rates, sure. I have said from day one that rates are the most significant issue for a lot of people. Let me tell you one thing, Mr. Chair: The Opposition stood in this House of Assembly for months on end and said power rates will double. That is what they said. They said power rates will double. Well, the only kernel of truth to that is without Muskrat Falls the increase in power rates will double.

Let us look at the rest of the world. I went though this yesterday. There are three countries we are aware of that have power rates lower than Canada at present. Mexico – the Member for St. John's North raised the issue of Iceland. I went and looked at Iceland. Iceland is certainly below the United States and Mexico. Every other country in the world as of 2009, and these are based on statistics from Hydro-Quebec and the International Energy Agency, every country in the world is currently paying more than fifteen cents a kilowatt – I should not say every country, the countries on the chart, being Italy, Hungary, Ireland, United Kingdom, Austria, Spain, Poland, France, Finland, Turkey, and Switzerland are all paying more than fifteen cents a kilowatt hour.

The highest is in Italy, with approximately thirty-two cents a kilowatt hour, with Ireland and Austria paying more than twenty-five cents a kilowatt hour, and the United Kingdom at approximately twenty-four cents a kilowatt hour. This is a chart that has been provided, Mr. Chair, by Hydro-Quebec and the International Energy Agency.

Rates are up in the rest of the world. Nova Scotia and Ontario currently have higher rates than we will have when we bring on Muskrat Falls in 2017. People want to know what the rates were going to be. The rate calculator was meant to be a tool to help people.

We had enough confidence in Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro's ability to project rates that we put out a paper called Electricity Rates Forecasting: Muskrat Falls Will Stabilize Rates for Consumers. Obviously if we put it in writing, we have enough confidence in the numbers we have put out.

The numbers are illustrative. We broke down our three profiles. There are approximately 240,000 ratepayers in the Province; 90,000 use electricity without electric heat, the other 140,000 use electric heat and electricity – excuse me, they use it all.

Profile 1 burns 770 kilowatt hours per month. Profile 2, being the individual who uses electricity and electric heat burns approximately 2,000 kilowatt hours a month, giving us an average of 236,000 ratepayers at 1,517 kilowatt hours per month. We get to our charts; we outline how the rates will go. They are there for everyone to look at. They are illustrative, but they give a good example of where we are going.

What you see in red is without Muskrat Falls. What you see in blue is with Muskrat Falls. Whatever the numbers may be, Muskrat Falls is projected to be significantly cheaper than Isolated Island. Isolated Island is the next closest CPW. That is the next best option that is available, and we have a situation where Muskrat Falls provides lower rates.

It is a fair comment to say we do not know the overruns, but we do not know the overruns if we have to refurbish Holyrood. We know that to just bring Holyrood up to minimal environmental compliance without reducing greenhouses gases, scrubbers and precipitators would cost $700 million to $800 million.

We do not know the carbon pricing that could come in relation to Muskrat Falls. We do know that Holyrood according to MHI may not last until 2030. We do not know cost overruns, but that applies to any project. The bottom line – and I keep coming back to this and I do not know why it is so hard for people to understand – we need power, our growing economy, a prosperous economy with a bright future. We can refurbish Holyrood, but I say to the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair: What does that do for Labrador, for Labrador mining? Nothing at all.

We have a vibrant economy, we have the world at our hands, we have opportunity galore, and we are going to let that go simply because the crew on the other side – excuse me, I will not say this. The Liberals are asking legitimate questions; the NDP wants Muskrat Falls to fail. We cannot stop simply because Mr. C has a court action or some fellow from Ontario says that Muskrat Falls is not a good deal. This project is sanctioned. We are moving ahead.

Now, the issue of the rates. The Premier has declared from day one – and I talked about this last night. We know that in 2020 there will be $134 million projected to be a dividend that could come to the Province. The government of the day will determine how to use that money. If the government of the day decides that we will subsidize rates, so be it. If the government of day decides that we are going to build hospitals, pay deficits – we know that in 2017 when Hebron comes on line, the financial situation in this Province, in terms of a government, the deficit will be much brighter.

Let's look at what they are saying today. Let's not only subsidize the poor, let's not only subsidize seniors, let's not only subsidize the middle class, let's subsidize those who are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. That is what they are saying. Is that the way we want to go in this Province, or do we take a very progressive approach and say the money will be there – because quite frankly, I said this last night, don't subsidize me; subsidize that senior down the road who needs the help. Subsidize that single mother.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Don't subsidize people who are making $100,000 or $150,000 a year. The Liberals and the NDP – is that what you want: to subsidize the rich?

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

MR. KENNEDY: Exactly.

So, you leave it to the government of the day to determine who can look at – hopefully, this will be us, Premier, by the way. You cannot make these decisions in advance.

The members comments are fair enough but what you are saying, what they are saying today is subsidize the rich. We do not do that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR (Littlejohn): The hon. the Member for the Bay of Islands.

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Chair, I am trying to get in the Christmas spirit, but it is obvious from the government that any time you cannot answer the questions that the people want you to, you start attacking, talking about how you are going to subsidize the rich, and all of that stuff. That is exactly what happened then. That is what happened in this debate.

When you do not have the information to put out, that one minister is saying, all of a sudden you get attacked. That is a prime example. This deal is done. We all know this deal is done. There is no doubt in my mind there are people opposite who are just as passionate about this deal as some people on this side are not as passionate, but there is no need to attack the Liberals here about subsidizing the multi-million people when we are looking at the regular person who is asking me to ask questions. There is just no need of it – there is absolutely no need of it.

Let us look at the facts. They want a two-tiered power system. Let us just relax here and if you cannot answer the questions we understand, because no one has a crystal ball. There is no one who can say what we are going to do, but we are trying to minimize the risk for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. I am trying to minimize the risk for the people of Bay of Islands who elected me that will hopefully then expand onto the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I heard the minister say the rate will be 15.1 cents or 15.2 cents. The first question any of us in this House should ask: Does that include transmission or does that just include delivery of the power? Does that include then the 8 per cent or 9 per cent rate of return that is guaranteed by the PUB, or now it is going to be the Executive Council and Lieutenant-Governor in Council? Does that include that? Those are the questions.

It is all right for any of us to say we can go out and buy a car. The car costs $10,000. Are there taxes on that car? Are there any other fees on that car? Those are the questions you have to ask. It is easy to stand up and say, and I will give the minister another chance, that 15.2 cents – does that include the distribution and the rate of return, or is it just actual delivery to Soldiers Pond with the blended rate? I just think it is a legitimate question.

I heard the minister say: Well, we do not have a crystal ball. I agree – I agree with you 100 per cent. No government can give the certainty, but if you cannot give the certainty do not have this rate calculator out by Nalcor, this PR exercise, saying: Here is what your rates are going to be in five or ten years' time. If the government themselves can stand up and say there is no certainty, do not have this rate calculator where you are saying: Here is the certainty. People believe that. That is the kind of information we should put out there.

I know the minister is going to stand up again. There are lots of opportunities for the minister to explain all of this. Take your time and explain it. I am asking legitimate questions here – I am asking very legitimate questions. Let the minister stand up and answer these questions. If you cannot predict the future, which is true and I have no problem with that, do not have you saying you cannot predict the future and have a rate calculator over at Nalcor saying: Here are what your rates are going to be. One of it cannot be right.

Once again, we get in all of this PR exercise about Muskrat Falls. This is why people, once you read it and get into it a bit more as the days go on and you study it more, these are the types of questions that are coming up.

Mr. Chair, we are always talking about double the rates. I think the rate right now is 10.2, 10.3 right now? The minister has said that the rates will go up to 15.2 in 2017. I am assuming that does not include distribution and the rate of return that the utility is allowed to get. So, that would bring it up to eighteen, nineteen cents.

We have not included the cost overruns yet. We have not included the 50 per cent of the cost overrun for the Maritime Link that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are on the hook for. This all has to get calculated into the actual rate, because the ratepayers are paying 100 per cent of this project. That is something that boggles my mind.

You hear the minister – and I want to get this correct, because the minute you speak a word, a small bit, they jump on you and attack you. The ratepayers are paying for this whole project 100 per cent, at no cost to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, absolutely no cost. Under the federal loan guarantee it cannot be one cent to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Why don't we, as a Province, say: Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, you are paying for it, we have excess power, it is not going to cost us a cent, why don't we find some way – the excess power that we have, if we can get any excess funds from it, why don't we put it in to bring the rates down for the 40 per cent that is paying the 100 per cent. When are you going to do it?

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: (Inaudible).

MR. JOYCE: I say to the Premier, she is over there; I do not know what she is saying. She is saying: How do you build something? How do you build my hospital? I have been waiting seven years, it is not built yet. I am not out threatening the city council that it was $600,000 and it is not on.

Anyway, Mr. Chair, I will get back to it, because if the Premier is over there making remarks like that, I say go meet with your buddy Leo Bruce out on the city council and straighten out your remarks, three or four of them.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Chair, that is what the Premier is shouting out across the House, and I am not taking it here today. I am not in that mood here to take it about the hospital in Corner Brook.

Mr. Chair, if the Premier is saying, how about the hospital? It is another form of tax. It is a form of tax. If we are using this as a ploy to raise money to pay for the hospital, it is a form of tax. If Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are paying for this 100 per cent, not one cent cost to the government, it is a form of tax. They say: okay, if we are going to charge you anything extra, we are going to take it and put it in the kitty. We are going to keep driving your rates up so you pay more. The more you pay the more taxes we are going to make. That is my question.

Nalcor is going to get its rate of return anyway. The same amount Nalcor has been getting over the last number of years, they are going to get the same rate of return anyway. What this government is suggesting now is that anytime we need a few dollars, we will just jack up your electricity rates. We will get more money.

Mr. Chair, that is what they are saying, because if Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are paying for it 100 per cent, not one cent cost – it is cost neutral for the government under this federal loan guarantee. Why don't we subsidize the people who are paying for it 100 per cent, because it is not costing the government a cent? If it is not costing the government, the government will say, well we are going to make this surplus, yet we are going to keep the rates high and have this surplus. It is a tax. You cannot have it both ways.

This government, on many occasions, has said that a lot of the services in Newfoundland and Labrador are going to be cost neutral. My question is: Why don't we make the staple that we need to live, electricity, cost neutral? Why do we have to increase these rates so government can have more money in the kitty? Why? It is a simple question. I would love for someone to be able to answer it for me.

Mr. Chair, before you were in government yourself, you know a lot of times there were changes in government to make a lot of services cost neutral. You know that, I know that, and that is what people have been told around the Province. Services now will be cost neutral for the people, up go the rates a bit. There is some merit to that. If we are going to do that, why don't we do it with electricity rates? It is a legitimate question. I think we, as the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, would like an answer.

Mr. Chair, again, I go back to some of the statements made by the Minister of Natural Resources, that we do not have a crystal ball. I absolutely agree, but what we do have control of is whatever the price will be without that crystal ball. If it is ten cents per kilowatt, fifteen cents, 20 per cent, whatever it is, Mr. Chair, we know 100 per cent of that power will be paid by – 100 per cent of the power, we will only be using forty, but that 100 per cent is paid by every Newfoundlander and Labradorian.

If we can take that, move it back to decrease that rate, because it is cost neutral, I think it would benefit all Newfoundland and Labrador. It would ensure that we built it, we are paying for it, and we will get the cost benefit of ensuring that it is all paid for and it is all put back in our pockets as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I say to the member opposite, and to the Opposition parties, if you took the time to read the paper that has been outlined there you would see how electricity rates are set.

The member opposite referred earlier to 10.3 cents a kilowatt hour for power. I stood up two minutes before that, read the chart, it said 12.6 cents. It is at page 5.

If you look at the paper itself: "Electricity Rates. How Electricity Rates are Set. Electricity rates in this province are designed to ensure that the province's electrical utilities, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro (NLH) and Newfoundland Power (NP), are able to recover the costs of generating and distributing power… For example, NLH's revenue requirement to cover costs includes both its capital and operating costs plus an allowed rate of return on rate base, (i.e. the rate base includes the physical assets purchased through capital such as power plants, transmission lines, substations, and buildings). Rates are then set at a level that will provide the total revenue required."

In this particular case – I have said this on numerous occasions, as had Mr. Martin of Nalcor – the numbers we have put out are all-inclusive. The paper itself states, these numbers "…are meant to be illustrative, not definitive" – because we recognize there could be some change as we move through this. The 15.1 cents a kilowatt hour or that $231 for the average monthly bill in 2017 for Muskrat Falls includes capital costs, operating and maintenance costs, Newfoundland Power's cost of distribution, the cost of financing, and an 8.4 per cent rate of return. It is an all-inclusive number. It also includes the Decision Gate 3 numbers and the federal loan guarantee. It is outlined in the paper and this is an all-inclusive cost.

After the project is built, could it be 15.3, 15.4 cents? It could, but we have to wait and see. What we do know however is that Nalcor currently has approximately $800 to $900 million, it might be $792 million built into the current estimate of $6.2 billion for contingency and escalation, approximately 9 per cent. There is currently 50 per cent of the engineering project done in major areas. What we have is a situation where we are trying to illustrate, as best we can, the cost. They are in the paper. Read it.

Since the member opposite is concerned about overruns, let's talk about overruns for a second. Let's talk about the Lower Churchill deal of Roger Grimes and the government of which this member was a –

AN HON. MEMBER: The one he read.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, I am going to get to that in a second now. The member opposite was a member of the government back in 2002. Let us talk about what both Mark Dobbin and Dean MacDonald have to say about that. Let us talk about the situation that they resigned from the board of directors at Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro because the deal was such that all the power was going to Quebec.

I say to the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair, it appears to have been 150-megawatt recall with five years and another 150 megawatts with ten years. You would not have much mining taking place in Labrador with that Lower Churchill deal.

Then we get in a situation where this member read the deal. The Premier did not, according to Mr. MacDonald. The Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair never saw the deal, yet the Parliamentary Assistant read the deal. The main negotiator for the Lower Churchill deal was the Member for Bay of Islands from everything I can see here.

Why did they resign? They resigned because there was no money there for overruns. The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador would have been responsible for all overruns. The government would make $100 million a year, apparently, according to what Mr. MacDonald had to say.

This member now is so concerned about overruns where we have been two years discussing a project. We have been two years outlining all of the details, doing the best we can, and outlining projected electricity rates. Yet, this member, who saw the deal that no one else seemed to see, was not concerned about overruns then because he would not have supported the deal.

At the end of the day the concern of Mr. MacDonald, apparently, was that Quebec would own the project. The cost overruns, where there was no engineering done on this project, would have been greater than the amount of money coming in. The $100 million the Province would have made would have been obliterated by the cost overruns. The member today, the Opposition of which at least two of them were members, were so concerned about overruns that they did nothing.

What I find also ironic is that we have on August 1, 2002 a press release issued by the Premier saying that he and Premier Landry have come to an agreement in principle. On November 18, 2002, I think it was, I do not have the statement here, the Premier stood up and gave a Ministerial Statement in this House. Yet, the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair knows nothing about it.

One of the members for Labrador knows nothing about a deal which is taking place in the jurisdiction for which she talked about in 1998 and which she talked about today. Yet, our minister for Labrador and our Member for Lake Melville, I can tell you, they have been involved from day one. They know. I can say one thing: our member for government services has read the deal.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Since we are on this, let us talk a little bit further. Let us talk about their concerns that we are directing the PUB to recover Muskrat Falls' costs. We are saying to the PUB: You still have a role to play; it is a lesser role, but we need to recover the costs.

Let us look. I just went and dug this out a little bit further because I thought it might be helpful, Mr. Chair, if I can find the actual orders here.

AN HON. MEMBER: Take your time.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, there is no hurry.

We have the order where – what did they do? They exempted the PUB from any examination of the Lower Churchill Project. What they are saying is do as we say; do not do as we do. Here we have a situation where you are concerned about overruns. The member opposite, the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair, will stand up and say: We want benefits for Labrador. It was read yesterday that the Premier said they would not agree to any specific benefits for Labrador. That is what it said in one of the news releases referred to by the Member for Labrador West yesterday.

Now, we are into this deal and they are concerned about cost overruns. I say to you, where were you in 2002? Where were you and where was the Chief Negotiator who read the deal – no one else did – when there was no concern about overruns? It is one thing to stand up, and there is no problem with asking questions in this House, but you also have to recognize w