November 12, 2003 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS


Members Elect met in the Assembly Chamber on the afternoon of November 12, 2003 for the Swearing in Ceremony and Election of Speaker.

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: All rise.

Mr. Clerk, His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor has arrived.

CLERK (Noel): Admit his Honour the Lieutenant-Governor.

Please be seated.

As Clerk of the House of Assembly, it gives me great pleasure to welcome His Honour, all Members Elect and invited guests.

This is indeed an historic event. For the first time, this ceremony is being broadcast on the House of Assembly television channel. It is also the first time that the Queen’s Representative in this Province, His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor, will officiate at a Swearing In Ceremony for Members elected during a General Election.

On behalf of my colleagues, the Clerk Assistant, the Sergeant-at-Arms and all staff of the House of Assembly I wish to state publicly that we look forward to working with and serving all Members Elect during the upcoming General Assembly.

A few days ago a Proclamation was issued by His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor, directed to the Clerk Assistant and myself and it states as follows:

That I am requested to direct that the Members Elect gather in this Chamber today in order for Members Elect to take their Oaths or Affirmation of Office before the Lieutenant-Governor.

Your Honour, I am pleased to advise that Mr. Wayne Green, the Chief Electoral Officer, has published a report in the November 12, 2003 Extraordinary Edition of The Newfoundland and Labrador Gazette assuring us that forty-seven Members Elect, were duly elected on October 21, 2003 and that they are ready to take their Oath or Affirmation of Office.

The November 12, 2003 edition of The Newfoundland and Labrador Gazette containing the Report of the Chief Electoral Officer is considered to be tabled and formally entered into the House records.

It should be noted that the Writ of Election has not been returned from the District of Grand Bank. There is a recount presently taking place before the Supreme Court with respect to the election in that district. Also, the Member Elect for the District of Torngat Mountains is unavoidably absent due to a death in his family.

Before we proceed, I wish to explain to those present the rationale for calling forth the names of Members Elect. Each Member Elect will be called in the alphabetical order in which his or her district is inscribed on the Roll of Members; that is the large hand-printed document lying on the Table of the House. Each Member Elect will swear an Oath of Allegiance or Affirm Allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, as Queen of Canada, before His Honour. This requirement of office is set forth in section 128 of the Constitution Act of 1867.

Samples of both the Oath and Affirmation are printed and lying on the Table here before me, as well as on each desk. Afterwards, each Member Elect will sign the Roll.

I must add, for the information for those first-time elected members, that a facsimile of this document will be prepared by my office and given to each member as a souvenir of this event.

During the ceremony there will be no applause.

His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor, moves in front of the Speaker's Chair.

CLERK ASSISTANT (Ms Murphy):We shall now begin.

For the electoral District of Baie Verte, the Hon. Paul Shelley.

MR. SHELLEY: I, Paul Shelley, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of the Bay of Islands, Mr. Eddie Joyce.

MR. JOYCE: I, Edward Joyce, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Bellevue, Mr. Percy Barrett.

MR. BARRETT: I, Percy Barrett, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Bonavista North, Mr. Harry Harding.

MR. HARDING: I, Harry Harding, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Bonavista South, Mr. Roger Fitzgerald.

MR. FITZGERALD: I, Roger Fitzgerald, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Burgeo & LaPoile, Mr. Kelvin Parsons

MR. PARSONS: I, Kelvin Parsons, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Burin-Placentia West, Mr. Clyde Jackman.

MR. JACKMAN: I, Clyde Jackman, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Cape St. Francis, the Hon. Jack Byrne.

MR. J. BYRNE: I, Jack Byrne, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Carbonear-Harbour Grace, Mr. George Sweeney.

MR. SWEENEY: I, George Sweeney, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Cartwright-L’anse au Clair, Ms Yvonne Jones.

MS JONES: I, Yvonne Jones, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Conception Bay East & Bell Island, Hon. Dianne Whalen.

MS WHALEN: I, Dianne Whalen, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Conception Bay South, Mr. Terry French.

MR. FRENCH: I, Terry French, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Exploits, Mr. Roger Grimes.

MR. GRIMES: I, Roger Grimes, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Ferryland, Hon. Loyola Sullivan.

MR. SULLIVAN: I, Loyola Sullivan, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune, Mr. Oliver Langdon.

MR. LANGDON: I, Oliver Langdon, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Gander, Mr. Kevin O’Brien.

MR. O’BRIEN: I, Kevin O’Brien, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Grand Falls-Buchans, Ms Anna Thistle.

MS THISTLE: I, Anna Thistle, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Harbour Main-Whitbourne, Mr. Tom Hedderson.

MR. HEDDERSON: I, Tom Hedderson, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Humber East, the Hon. Tom Marshall.

MR. T. MARSHALL: I, Tom Marshall, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Humber Valley, Ms Kathy Goudie.

MS GOUDIE: I, Kathy Goudie, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Humber West, Hon. Danny Williams.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: I, Danny Williams, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Kilbride, the Hon. Edward Byrne.

MR. E. BYRNE: I, Edward Byrne, do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. 

CLERK ASSISTANT: For the electoral District of Labrador West, Mr. Randy Collins.

MR. COLLINS: I, Randy Collins, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK (Noel): For the electoral District of Lake Melville, Mr. John Hickey.

MR. HICKEY: I, John Hickey, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of Lewisporte, the Hon. Thomas Rideout.

MR. RIDEOUT: I, Thomas Rideout, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of Mount Pearl, Mr. David Denine.

MR. DENINE: I, Dave Denine, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of Placentia & St. Mary’s, Mr. Fabian Manning.

MR. MANNING: I, Fabian Manning, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of Port au Port, Mr. Jim Hodder.

MR. J. HODDER: I, Jim Hodder, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of Port de Grave, Mr. Roland Butler.

MR. BUTLER: I, Roland Butler, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of St. Barbe, Mr. Wallace Young.

MR. YOUNG: I, Wallace Young, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of St. George’s-Stephenville East, Hon. Joan Burke.

MS BURKE: I, Joan Burke, do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of St. John’s Centre, Mr. Shawn Skinner.

MR. SKINNER: I, Shawn Skinner, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of St. John’s East, Hon. John Ottenheimer.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I, John Ottenheimer, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of St. John’s North, Mr. Bob Ridgley.

MR. RIDGLEY: I, Bob Ridgley, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of St. John’s South, Hon. Tom Osborne.

MR. T. OSBORNE: I, Tom Osborne, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of St. John’s West, Ms Sheila Osborne.

MS S. OSBORNE: I, Sheila Osborne, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, Mr. Jack Harris.

MR. HARRIS: I, Jack Harris, do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm  that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of Terra Nova, Mr. Paul Oram.

MR. ORAM: I, Paul Oram, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of The Straits & White Bay North, Hon. Trevor Taylor.

MR. TAYLOR: I, Trevor Taylor, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of Topsail, Hon. Elizabeth Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: I, Elizabeth Marshall, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of Trinity-Bay de Verde, Ms Charlene Johnson.

MS JOHNSON: I, Charlene Johnson, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of Trinity North, Mr. Ross Wiseman.

MR. WISEMAN: I, Ross Wiseman, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of Twillingate & Fogo, Mr. Gerry Reid.

MR. REID: I, Gerald Reid, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of Virginia Waters, Hon. Kathy Dunderdale.

MS DUNDERDALE: I, Kathy Dunderdale, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of Waterford Valley, Mr. Harvey Hodder.

MR. H. HODDER: I, Harvey Hodder, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

CLERK: For the electoral District of Windsor-Springdale, Mr. Ray Hunter.

MR. HUNTER: I, Ray Hunter, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.

[His Honourable the Lieutenant-Governor, Edward Roberts, returns to the Speaker’s Chair.]

HIS HONOUR THE LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR: Ladies and Gentlemen, or more specifically Members of the House of Assembly, you are now Members of the House of Assembly and I congratulate you and wish you every success as you embark upon your new duties, both as the Lieutenant-Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador and as one with a deep affection for, great respect for, and some knowledge of, I like to think, the House.

Collectively, you constitute the Forty-Fifth General Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador. The first House met on January 1, 1833. This is the Seventeenth General Assembly since we became a Province of Canada in 1949.

As the Clerk mentioned, this is the first time since Confederation, or so I am told, that the Lieutenant-Governor has presided at this ceremony, although both my predecessors and I have sworn in individual members after by-elections. It is also the first time this ceremony has been televised, so that every Labradorian and every Newfoundlander can watch it. You will also notch up another first, very shortly, when for the first time the Speaker of the House will be elected under the new rules set out in the Standing Orders. I understand this is what led the government to ask me to administer the Oaths today. I am delighted that they did so, and I consider it an honour that I was able to administer the Oaths to each and every one of you.

Last week, when formally constituting the new ministry, led by the Premier, I spoke briefly about the Canadian system of government. We are a constitutional monarchy. Queen Elizabeth the Second, our Head of State, is the Queen of Canada. The Oath, or the Affirmation, that each of you have taken before me today is one of allegiance to her and to her successors. The form is a very old one. Indeed, it is prescribed by the original British North America Act, part of our constitution, and has not changed since 1867, but Canada is much more than a monarchy governed by a constitution. The Queen reigns - in the well-known phrase - but she does not rule. We are a democracy, a society where the ultimate authority rests with our fellow citizens, and you are the means by which those citizens exercise that ultimate authority. You are the link between them and the Crown. Your right to take the Oath or to make the Affirmation was given to you by them through the ballot box. Further, it is you, the Members of the House of Assembly, who choose the government.

The day after the election the Member for Exploits told me he would be resigning as Premier. Later that day, in the Queen’s name, I asked the hon. gentleman for Humber West to become Premier and appointed him to the office when he accepted my invitation. I asked him because I knew he had the support of the majority of the Members of the House. His colleagues hold offices as ministers because he advised me to appoint them, and I did so. He and they hold office because of your support; because you, as Members of the House, have confidence in them to use the precise constitutional word.

Responsible Government came to Newfoundland and Labrador in 1855, nearly 150 years ago. It is a very simple concept and I believe it is probably the best system of government that has ever been devised.

The Premier and his colleagues, the Queen’s Ministers, exercise executive authority in Her Name, but they answer to you. They are responsible to you. That is the way in which our citizens choose their government and that is what makes us a democracy.

Now public service, I believe, is a noble calling and I believe too that politics is a proud and an honourable profession, and those just are not empty phases for me.

The oath which you took today I have taken eight times, beginning in 1966 when I was first elected to the House as a member of the Thirty-Fourth General Assembly. I sat here for twenty-three years as a member on both sides. In my judgement there is no better place for any Newfoundlander or any Labradorian who wants to play her or his part in helping to govern our Province. So I congratulate each of you on your election and I wish you well in your deliberations.

There is a phrase which by long tradition marks the end of every Queen’s Speech, the Speech with which, and by which, the Lieutenant-Governor opens the Assembly. It is often called the Speech From the Throne. Well, this is not the Throne Speech, of course, but let me use that phrase now: "May Divine Providence guide you in your deliberations." Let me add another phrase of which I am inordinately fond: Long may your big jib draw.

Thank you.

His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor, leaves the Chamber.

CLERK: Please be seated.

Members of the House of Assembly, the Clerk Assistant and I have received a formal Proclamation from the Lieutenant-Governor. It reads as follows - addressed to me, the Clerk, and to the Clerk Assistant:

GREETING;

A PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS the Office of the Speaker of the House of Assembly is vacant;

AND WHEREAS it is not expedient to call together the 45th General Assembly until the Members of the House of Assembly have proceeded to the choice of a Speaker;

- and this is in the Lieutenant-Governor’s own words -

NOW THEREFORE, I, the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador do authorize and direct you, the said A. John Noel and Elizabeth Murphy, to signify to Members of the House of Assembly on the 12th day of November, 2003, that it is my pleasure that they should proceed to choose some person to be their Speaker and to present such person for my approbation when I call the House of Assembly together in session later on.

Therefore, you have heard His Honour’s direction that you should elect a Speaker to preside over your deliberations. As of 4:30 yesterday afternoon, in accordance with the Standing Orders, the sole candidate having declared his intention to seek the Office of Speaker, being Mr. Harvey Hodder, pursuant to the Standing Orders, I declare Mr. Hodder, the Member for Waterford Valley, elected as the Speaker of the 45th General Assembly.

[Applause]

CLERK: I call upon the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition.

The Premier and the Leader of the Opposition lead Mr. Hodder to the Speaker's Chair.

MR. SPEAKER (Hodder): Colleagues, guests and visitors:

Today is a special occasion in the parliamentary life of our Province. All members of this hon. House hold office by virtue of the confidence placed in them by the electorate of our Province. My congratulations to all my colleagues who have taken the oath or have been affirmed in their offices this afternoon. I look forward to working with each member during the Forty-Fifth General Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I wish to thank you sincerely for the high honour you have conferred on me by electing me as your Speaker for this Parliament.

I am deeply touched by your faith in my knowledge of parliamentary practices and for your perception of my wish to be fair and reasonable in all matters affecting the role of the Speaker.

Colleagues, I must also thank the citizens of the Waterford Valley district for the kindness of their support. A few days ago, I began my thirty-fifth consecutive year in elected politics, having been first elected to the Mount Pearl Municipal Council on November 10, 1969. Since that first election, I have served as a Councillor, a Deputy-Mayor, and on four occasions, I was elected as Mayor of my community. On October 21, I was honoured to be re-elected for the fourth consecutive term to this hon. House. Again, my sincere thanks to all those who have participated in my campaigns, especially the host of volunteers who have helped my campaigns to be very structured and, for the most part, very pleasant events.

I would be terribly remiss if I did not commend and thank my family for their outstanding loyalty and support. Political life can place a strain on families, especially on one’s spouse and one’s children but, on occasion, this stress can also be extended to one’s parents and other extended family members. Throughout the years and through ten elections, I have had tremendous support from my immediate family. Thanks so much for your love and for the continuity of your support.

My fellow parliamentarians, the Speaker holds a position which is not just one of historic significance but also one of important responsibility. When in the Chair, the Speaker,  supported and strengthened by the traditions of this House and by the precedents of our sister Parliaments throughout the Commonwealth, embodies the power and authority of the historic office.

No other office or position in our parliamentary system is so closely associated and linked with our traditions as that of Speaker. Historically, and for good reasons, the role of Speaker has changed considerably since the first holder of the office in the British Parliament in 1377. Our parliamentary practices are evolutionary in nature. Changes are often very gradual and substantive changes occur, in most instances, over many decades.

During the early phases of the evolution of our British parliamentary traditions, the Speaker was often seen as an agent of the Crown. In fact, he was often referred to as the "King’s man". Later, when the Crown’s influence over the Speakership diminished, the Speaker became very much the servant of the governing party. This often led to difficulties associated with partisan politics and this tended to compromise the integrity of the office. Again, changes evolved out of experience.

All parliaments which have followed the British parliamentary traditions have now adopted practices which have substantially disengaged the ties between the Speaker and the political party in power and, in so doing, have established new standards of independence and impartiality in the office.

Recently - and in parliamentary terms the word "recent" can refer to substantive periods of time - in the Parliament of Canada, and more specifically in our own House, Speakers have tended to abstain from direct political activity but have retained their general connection to their political party. During the Forty-Forth General Assembly, new rules were adopted to provide for the direct election of the Speaker by a majority of the elected members participating in the vote.

Colleagues, today I put aside my direct political affiliation and, in so doing, I will follow the practices that have become the tradition of my immediate predecessors. As much as I have enjoyed my ten years of partisan activities in this Honourable House, my political involvement while I hold the Office of Speaker will be restricted primarily to social engagements.

Colleagues, independence and the tradition of impartiality will be your Speaker’s objective in all decisions made in this House and in the direction and management of all pertinent administrative roles associated with the Speaker’s Office.

I am reminded of a quotation made by a former Prime Minister of Canada, the Hon. John Turner in addressing the role of the Speaker during a debate in the House of Commons in Ottawa in 1986. He said, "You know what we demand of you, Mr. Speaker. Perfection! We want fairness, independence, decisiveness, patience, common sense, good humour, upholding the traditions of the House, knowledge of the rules and an intuition for the changing mood and tone of the House."

My fellow parliamentarians, I cannot assure you of perfection but I can assure you of my desire to be fair, independent and autonomous.

The Speaker is the chief servant of the House, the guardian of members’ rights and privileges, and the one to whom falls the obligation to enforce and interpret all rules and practices including the responsibility for the preservation of order and decorum.

This hon. House belongs first and foremost to the people of our Province and I am sure all hon. members will wish that the people’s business be conducted in a parliamentary environment where each member is encouraged to speak openly and frankly on issues that affect the life and future of our Province.

Colleagues, all members should feel most welcome at all times to discuss freely and openly with my Office any suggestions to make our parliament function more effectively.

The Speaker’s Office will function with an ‘open door’ policy. All members should feel the Speaker’s Office to be most readily available for the sharing of viewpoints and hopefully for the resolution of any misunderstandings that may occur.

Thank you again for the confidence you have extended to me and for the honour you have conferred upon me by electing me as your Speaker for the Forty-fifth General Assembly.

Thank you very, very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to move that Mr. Roger Fitzgerald, the Member for Bonavista South, be elected Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly.

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to second that motion on behalf of the Official Opposition.

MR. SPEAKER: Are we ready for the question?

All those in favour, ‘aye.’

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: Contra-minded, ‘nay.’

The motion is carried.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, if I may, I move that Ms Sheila Osborne, the Member for St. John’s West, be elected Deputy Chair of Committees of the House of Assembly.

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, again, a great pleasure on behalf of the Official Opposition to second the motion made by the Premier.

Are we ready for the question?

All those in favour, ‘aye’.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: Contra-minded ‘nay’.

The motion is carried.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

First of all, let me congratulate you on your new role. I am certainly looking forward to many of the rulings on the, what I suspect to be, many points of order raised by my hon. colleagues opposite.

Mr. Speaker, I would like at this time to move the adjournment of the House to the call of the Chair and we will see everybody soon.

Thank you.

On motion, the House adjourned to the call of the Chair.