April 30, 1997             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS              Vol. XLIII  No. 17

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!


Statements by Ministers


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


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to inform the hon. members of the House of Assembly and especially the Opposition House Leader, of negotiations that are currently underway to privatize Newfoundland Farm Products Corporation. Mr. Speaker, government announced its intention to divest its interest in NFPC in the Throne and Budget Speeches in March of this year.

Over the last four years, Newfoundland Farm Products Corporation and the production side of the industry, has cost taxpayers an average of $7.5 million a year in operating losses and subsidies. Government is unable to continue to have the taxpayers of this Province absorb the costs of operation for the poultry sector. Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, it is not appropriate for government to be involved in the food processing sector. We have other public service priorities for the people of this Province. The government has accepted that the private sector is best suited to operate businesses such as NFPC.

Since December, the Board of Directors of Newfoundland Farm Products has studied various options for the Corporation with a view to eliminating public subsidies.

Mr. Speaker, negotiations are underway as we speak. Government has authorized the Board of Directors of Newfoundland Farm Products to hopefully conclude negotiations with Integrated Poultry Limited, better known as IPL, for the sale of its poultry business. However, IPL indicated in its proposal that it is not interested in continuing operations at the plant in Corner Brook as a chicken processing facility.

I must, therefore, inform members of the House of Assembly that yesterday (Tuesday) evening, two members of the Board of Directors for NFPC and the Chairman of the Board met with all employees of the Corner Brook plant to outline their options to them. I would like to emphasize, Mr. Speaker, that prior to that meeting, myself and the hon. Paul Dicks met twice with representatives of the union - once in Corner Brook on Sunday and again in St. John's on Monday of this week, in order to ensure that they were fully aware of the situation, and to discuss -


AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: - the most appropriate means of informing employees.

Government did not want to comment publicly on the status of NFPC until the affected employees have been fully informed.

Mr. Speaker, at the meeting yesterday evening, employees were informed that government has decided to continue to pay employees at Corner Brook until an agreement is finalized with IPL. The NAPE local for the Corner Brook plant has been asked to indicate by Friday of this week, whether it wants the plant to remain open and in production until the deal with IPL is concluded or whether employees want to go home on special leave. The latter option would mean immediate closure of the plant. To facilitate their deliberations, Mr. Speaker, NFPC has decided not to process chicken today in the plant in order to allow employees time to consider their options.

A committee of government and union officials has been established to consider appropriate severance benefits for affected employees. The Board of Directors of NFPC have initiated the process to seek alternative uses of the Corner Brook plant, a process which could include a public request for proposals and we are prepared to involve the employees in this process. Both government and the board are optimistic that a viable private sector opportunity will be found for the plant.

I would assure you, Mr. Speaker, that government will make every possible effort to achieve this goal.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the minister for providing me with a copy of the news release prior to the opening of the House.

Mr. Speaker, it seem like this is a situation where we make one step forward and two steps back. A couple of days ago we heard a happy announcement, if you would, down in Bay Verte where there was seventy-five jobs created, one day after we find out we are losing eighty-seven from Corner Brook, and I would suggest probably many more from the City of St. John's before this thing is finalized.

Mr. Speaker, the sad part about this, and we have no problem over here on this side with Newfoundland Farm Products being privatized. We feel that that is where it should be, if it is going to be competitive and if it is going to be workable, it has to be done within the private sector and we do not believe that the tax payers of this Province should continue to put forward money in order to subsidize it. We have no problem with that and we support it, but Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister, why wasn't expression of interest put forward so other people could go out and put forward their suggestions of what could happen with this particular facility? Why should we go out and take a $40 million facility and only pass it to one individual? Why should we go and invite expressions of interest rather than put it out on tender? I would like to ask the minister as well, maybe if he can confirm or deny that the lawyer for this particular group is a gentlemen that use to sit to his right there just a very short time ago, maybe that might be part of the problem.

MR. J. BYRNE: Big factor, big factor.

MR. FITZGERALD: The other thing Mr. Speaker, it is sad when you see eighty-seven employees treated in such a fashion as this, where they are told two days prior to having to say good-bye. That is unfair, I think employees who have given so much deserve better treatment then that, then to go one day and say you are out the door by Friday.

MR. J. BYRNE: Not this government, they have no humanity, this government.

MR. FITZGERALD: That is wrong and I think they deserve better.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave, the hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, I would like to say for the record that I and my party oppose the privatization of the Newfoundland Farm Products Corporation. It was set up for a purpose, to establish a viable food processing industry in the Province. The government is turning its back on that and seeing half of it destroyed immediately and we don't know what is going to happen to the other half.

Mr. Speaker, to hear the minister say on the radio this morning, and in the House again today, that he is giving the employees three days to consider their options is an appalling attitude toward workers in this Province.

I think the government is rushing into this because they have this ideology of privatization and they are going to go head-long into it come what may.


Oral Questions


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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions today are for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

Could the minister tell the House how many people are going to Bristol, who they are, why they are going, and what it will cost to taxpayers?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, the numbers that are going to Bristol, I don't have the list here exactly in front of me but from memory I think we have several of the staff from our Cabot Corporation going, who are members of our department of course. My public relations director would be going. The Premier will be going. The Lieutenant-Governor is going. I am going, and I believe there are six media; I think KIXX Radio, VOCM, ASN, The Evening Telegram, and there would be two others. My memory doesn't serve me who the other ones are, but my understanding is that there are six media who will be accompanying us.

Also, besides that, there are people going who are not with the government officials. Oh, I am sorry, the Mayor of Bonavista is also going. The Mayor of St. John's is going, I think, as part of a delegation from St. John's, and there is also a tour group going. A tour company from here in the Province has set up a tour that will be part of the celebrations in Bristol. So that would be a business initiative.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am sure the minister should know the exact number going from her department, although I do appreciate the list that she gave for some rough idea. I also ask the minister: What is the cost of the total bill for all those travelling at taxpayers' expense?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MS KELLY: I believe the cost per person in airline tickets - we have a special arrangement with the air carrier because they are a corporate sponsor - I think it is $778 per airline ticket. The cost then would be for Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday night hotel expenses - which I assume are the usual, about $100 a night, but I have not converted it from British pounds to Canadian dollars - and the cost of some meals, because some meals are part of the invitation list that has been extended to the Province. As to why we are going, the reason we are all going is because of The Matthew departure. It is a re-enactment of 500 years of very proud history of this Province and the biggest tourism promotion that Newfoundland and Labrador has ever been part of.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am very surprised that the minister, on the biggest tourism year in our history, and we are very proud of that here in this Province, cannot tell us how much was provided in her budget; I asked the cost. How much was the total cost provided in your budget? Your department, I think, has $1.7 million in your budget for Cabot 500. How much was provided in your budget for this trip to Bristol? The minister should be able to tell us that.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, all of that information has been provided to the hon. member through the Estimates Committee and through everyone else. We were at the committee last night -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS KELLY: - and those specific questions were not asked. If you would like the exact detail, and to find out, we can provide you with the travel forms, in greater detail even, when we return.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister refused to tell us how much public money was in the budget for this specific trip. Now, I ask: Will the minister table in this House tomorrow - to give the minister time to get that from her department - the number of people who are going, specifically, what the budget allocation for travel is? I ask the minister the total cost. Today in this Province with -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. -

MR. SULLIVAN: I say to the minister -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary question. I believe he has asked his question.

MR. SULLIVAN: In light of the fact that in our Province, it is our role to be accountable for the appropriate expenditure of public funds, to keep government accountable. We have a right to know, I say to the minister, and we should -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I believe -

MR. SULLIVAN: - have tabled in this House -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

I believe the hon. member has asked his question, as I understand it.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yes, I ask the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: I ask the minister: Will she table in the House, the questions that I asked.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, the information can certainly be tabled. I will not be able to table it because my flight leaves at midnight tonight. I will not be in the House tomorrow. But I, too, have to be accountable to the taxpayers of this Province, and I can assure you that we are being frugal in every way that we can, that we have negotiated prices for the various media that are going, and we have been very recognizing of the fiscal position in my department. We have no difficulty with supplying the information to you.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is not what the Auditor General said about Cabot 500, I say to the minister, not at all. There has not been appropriate expenditure of public funds and that is why I am asking the minister. The minister did not provide in the Estimate Committee the dollar value allocated for this trip to Bristol and I am asking her to do it today. She should know it, she is the minister of that department. She is hiding the fact. She does not want us to know.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary. I ask him to get to his question.


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods. Minister, your department made it known in the Speech from the Throne, and also from the Budget, that it was government's intention to dispose of the interest in Newfoundland Farm Products Corporation. I ask the minister why a call for expressions of interest was not put forward by government, so that all who might have been interested would have had an opportunity to put forward a plan to operate probably both St. John's and the Corner Brook facilities?

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

MR. TULK: The hon. gentleman, I don't know what time he got elected to this House, but I want to say to him that in late 1994 there were proposal calls put out. One call -

AN HON. MEMBER: Ten years ago.

MR. TULK: The hon. gentleman is over there, he is always looking for answers, and yet he can't keep his mouth shut long enough to hear them. That's his math.

Mr. Speaker, in 1994 there were proposal calls put out asking for expressions of interest in Newfoundland Farm Products, asking for proposals. I have to say to the hon. gentleman that none came forward. Since that time government has had various discussions. The discussions have never been completely closed off with IPL. They have been stalled for a period of time. But at that point in time proposals were called for. Every study, every look that was taken at Newfoundland Farm Products - not by me - by a board that is very capable to do this thing, every look that was taken suggested that the best offer we had or the best offer we hoped to get was with the IPL proposal.

The other issue, I have to say to the gentleman, is that every study, every look that has ever been taken at this, showed that it could not be done unless you concentrated production processing in one area of this Province, and that indeed in terms of capital cost, I say to the hon. gentleman - not in terms of operation, nothing to do with employees being good or bad, nothing to do with employees being good employees or bad employees -, but in terms of capital cost the best place to do that was in St. John's. That is the reason that today we have those negotiations ongoing.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I say to the minister a lot of things can change and a lot of things can happen in three years, and that isn't good enough when you see eighty-seven employees losing their job over on the West Coast. Would the minister confirm here in this Assembly today that there was a very serious proposal being formulated by a Newfoundland-owned business to purchase Newfoundland Farm Products and to continue to operate both the facilities here in St. John's and in Corner Brook? The minister and his staff, I am told, are well aware of this expression of interest.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, let me say to the hon. gentleman that there is no proposal that I know of that was put forward by anybody saying that Corner Brook and St. John's were to be both operated as chicken processing facilities.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I have a funny feeling if you talk to the eighty-seven employees who are losing their jobs over in Corner Brook that they wouldn't care if they produced chicken or if they produced seals, I say to the members opposite, as long as they had a job to support their families. I am going to read from a news release here, Mr. Speaker, that will back that up, and it says right here, Mr. Speaker: Seafreeze communicated to government that it also had a plan other than poultry production for the Corner Brook facility. That's the company I am talking about -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: - and that is the news release as put forward by the media -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: - so I say there was another proposal, Mr. Speaker-

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary and I ask him to get to his question.

MR. FITZGERALD: Would the minister inform the House of the sale price received for this $40-million operation and, would he also verify or deny, that government is seriously looking at, up to a $10-million subsidy for those new owners?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forestry Resources and Agrifoods.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, let me say to the hon. gentleman that this is a very delicate process that we are carrying on here with the IPL producers and I am not about, for the sake of the Member for Bonavista South and his ego to say in this House the exact details that we are negotiating.

Let me also say to him that we are absolutely, totally concerned with the welfare of the employees in Corner Brook and that is the exact reason -

MR. SULLIVAN: That is the thing that they are concerned about.

MR. TULK: Ask the Leader of the Opposition.

That is the real reason we have put in place a committee to look for alternative means of processing, to see if the Corner Brook plant - we have left the equipment there - to see if the Corner Brook plant can be used for some other means of production for those employees, and if Seafreeze, which I believe is owned by Mr. Bill Barry, if Seafreeze chooses to come forward and say: We have an alternative, the hon. gentleman should listen - if Seafreeze comes forward and says we have an alternative for the Corner Brook plant -

MR. GRIMES: They said they would do nothing with poultry in Corner Brook.

MR. TULK: That's right.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: If the hon. gentleman from Seafreeze wishes to come forward and say: We want to take over that plant to do processing other than chicken over which we have no control, then I say to him that he will be received on this side with open arms and every means possible given to him; he or anybody else, to see that there is processing going on in that facility so that the employees, that yes, are today going through an extremely hard time -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. TULK: - and will be going through for the rest of this week will have jobs for themselves.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the minister to finish his answer.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South, a supplementary.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wonder if the minister would confirm here in this House today or, inform the House, either/or, if the lawyer for this particular group, IPL, who has done the negotiations with government would be the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Clyde K. Wells?

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, let me say to the hon. gentleman that I am not responsible for hiring the lawyer for IPL. I will say to the hon. gentleman that at this time, as far as I know, it could be Danny Williams. I don't know, he is their lawyer not mine.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: It will come, everything in due course I say to the Minister of Education, everything in due course.

To the Minister of Government Services and Lands: In March of 95, I asked the government in this House if there were any plans afoot to privatize any of the government registries; much has changed in the past two years and I ask the minister once again now, are there any plans to privatize any of the government-run registries such as the Registry of Deeds, The Mechanics Lien Registry, Crown Lands Registry or the air photo and map library - Crown Lands?

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

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the hon. member for his question.

Right now we are in the process of privatizing the driver testing portion of Motor Vehicle Registration but apart from that, we don't have plans on the books right now for privatizing any of the aforementioned divisions of any part of our department. If and when they do come, we will bring them forward as we did with the privatization proposal for the driver testers.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

If I were to go to the registry of companies today and tried to register the name, Atlantic Canada Online, I would find the name already taken. I ask the minister: Does the government have any information on why that name has been reserved? Is it true that it is being reserved for the private company that will take over the registry operations now run by the Provincial Government?

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

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am not familiar with the situation that the hon. member brings up but I will take it under notice and provide a response for him.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. J. BYRNE: There has been no consultation on the privatization of any of the government registries at this point in time. The Economic Recovery Commission Chair, Mr. Doug House, has privately faulted the government on its approach to privatization in the past. Will the minister commit, before any privatization on registries occur within this Province, there will be a full cost-benefit analysis done and that there will be full disclosure of the impact it will have on the taxpayer, the consumer and the employees?

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

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We follow that process any time we determine we are going to change anything within the department. That is standard procedure and we will take that under advisement in due course.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions this afternoon are for the Minister of Education.

Mr. Speaker, the Opposition has constantly challenged the minister to repeatedly take a hands-on approach to the once-in-a-lifetime restructuring of our education system. The minister has not listened to the parents and the disaffected communities who have told them the same thing, but now we have something completely different, Mr. Speaker. I ask the minister: Is he prepared to listen to the school council of Lakewood Academy in Glenwood, a body that he, himself, set up under Sections 25 and 26 of his new schools Act? It is a statutorily approved group that has the support of some eighty other school councils from across the Province in telling the minister to get involved in these very important decisions. I ask the minister: Will he listen to school councils from across the Province and once and for all, Mr. Speaker, get involved?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, again, I can only register - I guess the best phrase that I can use now is mild surprise, that the Opposition critic would continue this line of questioning. Because, as I said in answer to the same question a week or so ago - I guess they feel obligated to ask this question once a week as a filler or something. The notion, Mr. Speaker, is that this Opposition and this member, having done a detailed examination of the legislation in this House of Assembly last December, voted for the schools Act that leaves these decisions in the hands of the school boards. The question is: Does the minister intend to get involved in decisions that belong, legally, to school boards? The answer is no.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: The same school council, Mr. Speaker, said our government is carefully and systematically breaking down any lines of communication between parents and government and has tried to focus any and all retaliation from parents in school district offices. Will the minister put politics aside and start doing the job that he was elected to do and appointed to do -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OTTENHEIMER: - both elected and appointed, Mr. Speaker, and finally be accountable to the parents and citizens about school reform by taking a hands-on approach to this once-in-a-lifetime restructuring process?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the sincerity with which the hon. member reads his question but it does not add to the merits of it, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I think if we checked Hansard in the debate last December, as we debated the schools Act, in the twenty-six amendments that were proposed by members opposite, some of which were approved, this issue with respect to leaving authority for these decisions in the hands of the school boards was not at all raised by the member opposite. They voted for the changes. They support education reform and, Mr. Speaker, I am again, mildly surprised. I understand they have to ask the question once a week or so because some parents now, the school council wrote a letter and they want to see - as always, they want to be seen to be supporting a point of view. But this Opposition and this member, in particular, supported the legislation that leaves these decisions in the hands of the school boards.

Mr. Speaker, I addressed the Home and School Federation in Grand Falls - Windsor last Friday at their annual meeting. I met with a representative of the school council from the school, Lakewood Academy in Glenwood -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the minister to finish his answer.

MR. GRIMES: - and I indicated clearly to him and to the full group that for matters for which the government has legal responsibility under the Act, like allocating teachers, like setting the budgets for the school boards, if they are dissatisfied with that, come and see the minister, come and see the government.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to quickly draw his answer to a conclusion.

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

If they are dealing with designations, or the opening or closing of schools, deal with the school boards because that is where the legislative responsibility lies.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This Opposition supports reform. This Opposition also supports equity, fairness and stability -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OTTENHEIMER: - and it is these issues that have been advocated by the hon. minister.

The minister knows that the Baie Verte - Central Connaigre School Board reversed its original decision to designate certain schools in the district as uni-denominational and, as a consequence, the churches are challenging the decision and the entire process on the basis that the process contravenes Term 17.B(1) of the Terms of Union by subordinating the rights of parents preferring uni-denominational schools to a preference in favour of interdenominational.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary. I ask him to get to his question.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is: Has the minister put in place a contingency plan so he will be prepared in the event that this case leads to an injunction which will put on hold the restructuring currently under way or, as he has done in the past, is he prepared only to let the system continue to fall into absolute chaos should the churches win this court challenge?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Everybody understands that there is significant change occurring at the school-based level, right at the doorstep in school reform in the Province this spring, in preparation for next September. Some people who do not like the direction of some of the changes describe it as chaos. It is a major change, and there is always some resistance, but it is a planned change. There is no contingency in place for the department with respect to organizational decisions made by boards, because we did not make them in the first place.

We do understand, however, that the boards themselves may very well have some contingency plans in case some potential court decisions render some of their decisions ineffective or unable to be accomplished. That is not our role. We did not make the decisions in the first place. We have no contingency plan because we will not make the new plans if they are needed in the second instance.

Again, I appreciate the question, I understand the question, but the school boards themselves, the parents themselves, wanted these decisions made at the local level. That is what the legislation provides for. There is no role, unless all of us together now want to change the legislation that was just brought forward in December. The process is unfolding as it should.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question today is for the Minister of Justice.

Can the Minister of Justice confirm today for this House that at the recent meeting of the Estimates Committee for his department, he informed the committee that the pay-out for the Trans City deal - that he really did not know what the pay-out was, and that, in actual fact, the pay-out would be made through the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, and that, in fact, they were handling that particular piece of business? I wonder, can he confirm that today for this House?

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

MR. DECKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, the question was raised in the estimates, and what we told the committee was that - we did not have the figure in our head, and I believe we did say it was paid through Works, Services and Transportation, but upon checking, I understand it was paid through the Department of Health, actually.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Then, instead of going to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, I will go to the Minister of Health.

Minister, can you then today divulge to this House the amount of settlement, the total amount of money that was paid out in the Trans City deal concerning the court case, and what firms received the money?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, the figure is included in the estimates for the Department of Health. I don't have it right at my fingers but I know it is in the order of $1.9 million - a few thousand dollars.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South, a supplementary.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wonder, then, would the minister supply for this House, in writing, who received that amount of money and if, indeed, there is any more funds to be paid out in that particular issue? Would he supply that to the House in writing when he has the opportunity?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, I undertake to table that information in the House, but for the information of the hon. minister, it is contained in the estimates, the exact amount, and as to whether or not there is additional monies to be paid, as far as I know, that is the end of it, it is finished, but I would defer to my Justice minister colleague, who might be better able to answer that question, in the unlikely event that I am wrong.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions are to the Minister of Health. The Newfoundland Dietetic Association has submitted a report to government that deals with the problems of nutrition and the high instances of nutritional problems in the Province. The government's failure to introduce programs concerning prevention, intervention and rehabilitation is costing millions of dollars in health care expenses. These are scarce dollars we can no longer afford and I ask the minister: In view of the questions yesterday, is the government going to act positively on the recommendations of the Newfoundland Dietetic Association and, if so, what are you doing by way of programs?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Time would not permit me to pontificate on the many and various positive ways in which we are responding to the report that has come forward.

Suffice, I think it is to say, that the Dietetic Association met with me and made a presentation, regarding the benefits of good nutritional policies, not only in a health context, but in our educational institutions and in terms of our food policy generally as a government. Subsequent to that, they meet with the Social Policy Committee of Cabinet and made a presentation, and we committed, as a government, through Social Policy Committee, to examine their presentation and to respond as positively and appropriately as we think is right to do, bearing in mind, of course, the substantial amount of work that is ongoing and the various initiatives that are ongoing within government already in terms of positive impacts upon nutrition.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader, a supplementary.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Research will show that effective intervention strategies, when we talk about low birth weight babies, would have a significant impact on reducing the number of low birth weight babies in the Province, by as much as one-third to one-half. It costs $200,000 in health care for every low birth weight baby in the months immediately after birth. By becoming more proactive, we could substantially save health care dollars.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary and I ask him to get to his question, please.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it is costing the Province approximately $3,500,000 a year in these problems and they could save substantial dollars. I want to ask the minister: Why will you not stop, listen to the research, read about it and do something about it, Because, on this particular initiative, we can save real big dollars and substantially affect positively the lifestyle of these young children, both now and in the future years.

MR. E. BYRNE: `Lloyd', this time next year, you might be sitting on (inaudible).

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

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: I cannot hear you.

MR. E. BYRNE: You are on your way out, Sir.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the observation as to whether I am on my way out or not, I have to say that the hon. member who makes that assertion, fortunately, is on that side of the House. I understand how he feels about people he wants to get out and how he dealt with his leader.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: I thank the good Lord in heaven that I am not in your hands, nor do I lead something of which you are under me.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has ended.


Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, I rise to present two reports. The first is the annual report for 1995-1996 for the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women. The second is -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MS BETTNEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The second report is the 1995-1996 annual report for the C.A. Pippy Park Commission.

MR. SPEAKER: Notices of Motion?

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

DR. GIBBONS: I ask for leave for a brief statement, Mr. Speaker.

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


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I was recently nominated by members of the Liberal Party in the riding of St. John's West to be their candidate in the upcoming federal election. Since the election has now been called and I will be submitting my nomination papers to the returning officer for the riding in the next few days - I will not be waiting the legal limit - I hereby submit to you today my resignation as the Member of the House of Assembly for the provincial District of St. John's West.

It has been the greatest experience of my life and of my career, to date, to serve the people of this district for the past eight years, as well as the people of the Province as Minister of Natural Resources and Minister of Mines and Energy. It has been a pleasure to serve with the present and former members of this Legislature on all sides, and I wish you all well in the future.

I would like to thank my constituents for giving me the opportunity to serve them. I would like to thank all of my colleagues in this Legislature, present and past, for the opportunity to serve with you. I thank my caucus members and Cabinet ministers, past and present, for their support. I thank all the staff in this Legislature and elsewhere in government whom I have worked with so well these many years. But the election was called on Sunday, and as you have said, my signs have gone up. I am hoping to serve further in another jurisdiction if the people will have me.

I pay tribute to those on the other side who have been my critics over the years. I believe my Energy critic is still Mr. Byrne. I pay tribute, Sir, to you for your questions, and thank you. My Mines critic, I know, is Mr. Shelley. We have been great friends since he joined this Legislature, working on issues of mining in his district and in the whole Province. I thank you for what you have done to help make my job sometimes tougher, but also better in making sure we address things properly for the people of this Province. As I jokingly said to you once before when you were asking questions about copper, the `copper-top' will keep on running, and this copper-top is going to keep on running. I hope the people will have me.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for this opportunity.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear! Hear, hear!

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

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to rise and wish my colleague on the other side of the House not great luck in the future, not the immediate future. But I should say that I first met Rex Gibbons many years ago. I knew him as chairman of the Avalon Consolidated School Board and was pleased to serve as principal of one of the schools in that jurisdiction. I've known him to be straightforward. I know his family. Some members of his family are personal friends of mine, and particularly his brother and sister who live in Mount Pearl.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: I am not going to get into how they vote. The member knows and I know, and we won't get into that. I certainly want to say to the member, serving in this Legislature is not always easy. It is a challenging job. He has brought his academic experience to his office and I believe it has been used wisely. Certainly the people of the Province, and the people in particular of his home community in Wesleyville, they have every right to be proud -

AN HON. MEMBER: Lumsden!

MR. H. HODDER: Lumsden, rather. Have every right to be proud of their son. So I say to him, good luck in your campaigning, and I'm sure that during the campaign our pathways may cross. Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is obvious from the remarks of our colleague from St. John's West that he loves his service in the House and feels very attached to what he has accomplished here. I think it is appropriate to acknowledge his service to the House for eight years.

I may say, on a personal note, that in my view he is well entitled and deserves the term hon. member of this House. He has always been a gentleman, diligent in representing his constituents, and representing the portfolios that he has had the pleasure, as he indicates, of representing. It is an honour to serve in this House and to serve the people in this way. I too wish him well in the future. I note that he is taking a step which has considerable risk: to resign a seat that he recently won a year ago to seek office in the House of Commons, which is also a great privilege and pleasure which I have had in my experience. I do wish him well in the future, and thank him for his service to the people in this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, let me say to my hon. friend, now the former Member for the provincial District of St. John's West, that before the Christmas break I had expected he would do this and I said some of the things that I wanted to say about him at that point.

I just wanted to say to him that I've known him since the age of about fourteen or fifteen. That is two or three years ago. I've followed him with great interest. I've known him in school. He is a very brilliant man academically, and of course he has shown to all of us in the past Cabinet, and in the little bit of experience I've had with him in this one, that he has a great mind when it comes to mines and energy and when it comes to matters of state. I think that St. John's West federally, and indeed the Parliament of Canada, will be well served by the hon. member after June 2.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: I want to close by telling him that while there are certain things that we can't do as Cabinet and as back benchers to help him in his campaign, everything that we can do on this side we will do to ensure that St. John's West does not have a `Power' member of Cabinet but has a powerful member of Cabinet. We will see that that is done.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear! Hear, hear!


Orders of the Day

Private Members' Day


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Port au Port.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm delighted to stand today and introduce debate on this motion dealing with the economic development as it relates to the rural areas of the Province. First, just to read the resolution:

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, in these challenging times, is making significant efforts to achieve economic renewal and diversification in rural areas of the Province; and

WHEREAS various government initiatives in partnership with communities throughout the Province have realized the creation of significant business developments in the Province; and

WHEREAS some of these initiatives such as Piccadilly Plastics Limited in Piccadilly, Steelcor Industries Ltd. in Buchans, Superior Glove Works In Point Leamington, and the tannery announced this week for Baie Verte, are evidence of government's continuing support and encouragement for diverse economic development activity throughout the Province;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly support the government in its continuing efforts to identify new opportunities and in furtherance of its ongoing policy of forming partnerships with communities and the private sector in the process of economic diversification.

Mr. Speaker, in recent days whenever a debate is ongoing with regard to any number of issues, whether it is the closure of a school, or whether it is with the privatization of our provincial parks, whatever the issue may be, invariably we hear in some quarters people suggesting that it is an indication of government turning its back on rural Newfoundland. Personally, that has always caused me great difficulty.

Some weeks ago I had occasion to be in my district to meet with parents and students of a school that has been identified and designated for closure, and anyone who has gone through that experience - it is not easy to be confronting a group of young men and women and their parents and seeing the pain in their faces on the basis of a decision that has been made for all the right reasons, but in the final analysis for them the only thing they can see is the reality, that something they have known for years will no longer be.

Mr. Speaker, as painful as that may be, the reality is that at some point in time, just as each and every one of us in our own personal lives sometimes have to make decisions and undertake actions that we would prefer not to, we, as a government, find ourselves in situations from time to time where we indeed have to make very difficult decisions that in another time and place we would perhaps otherwise prefer not to do.

Mr. Speaker, when I hear reference to terms such as `forced resettlement', I find it personally very, very offensive. My entire life has been, in one fashion or another, entwined with the whole struggle to preserve rural roots. I have indicated on previous occasions in this House that back in the thirties my parents were part of one of the earliest resettlement projects in this Province, initiated by the Commission of Government, when they were moved from a little community in Fortune Bay - Miller's Passage - to the West Coast of the Province, an effort which they undertook in the belief that they were securing for themselves and their family a better future.

Mr. Speaker, I grew up listening to stories of a community that I did not know and I had never seen, but for my entire childhood - since I was born on the West Coast and not in Fortune Bay - somehow I felt that there was a part of me missing because there was so much that was important to the values of my parents and my older siblings, because there was a life and a time that they knew which I had not. So I guess my earliest beginnings and my own values and my own way of thinking were very strongly influenced by the experience that my parents and older brothers and sisters had endured.

Subsequent to that, I had occasion over the years to be heavily involved in the rural development movement in this Province; first of all through the Port au Port Economic Development Association in my own area, of which I have had the privilege of being involved for some twenty-five years, and served as president for about twelve or thirteen years, and in various other capacities.

As matter of fact, an organization that I am still proud to be a member of, and to be to this day, working very closely with, in addition, Mr. Speaker, my involvement in rural development allowed me the opportunity and the privilege to serve in the position of President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Rural Development Council, the umbrella body representing all rural development associations in the Province, a position which I held for five years and one which for me really reinforced the views which I held with regards to rural Newfoundland generally, the importance of the values and the importance of that whole life experience that was part and parcel of having been raised in rural Newfoundland.

Mr. Speaker, to say that rural Newfoundland and this Province generally is undergoing change is an understatement. But change is not always necessarily bad; change is a part of life. We pass through different phases in our lives. If we put it into context of our own lives, a lifetime is a process of opening and closing doors. The experiences which we have today at some point in time, this phase in our life which we are passing through right now, when we have the privilege to sit am members of this hon. House, we recognize that this is a passing phase. Some day, this will be part of our experience, some day, this will be part of our history. Some day we will close that door and we will move on to something else. That, Mr. Speaker, in its simplest terms, is what life is all about and it is no different if you are talking about a person, if you are talking about a family, if you are talking about a community, if you are talking about a Province or if you are talking about a country. Change is inevitable and change should not be feared.

We have to recognize that change comes about as a part of growth, it comes about as a part of maturity and it comes about because factors which very often are beyond our control necessitate that this change take place and this, Mr. Speaker, is what we are witnessing in our Province today. If we look at the rural areas of the Province and if we look at it from the historical perspective, our history, the history of this Province has been based on the fishery. If you look at the earliest settlement patterns in this Province, the reason why so many of our communities and so many of our people are living in these small, isolated communities, it is because our earliest history was based in the fishery. The fishery is what brought our forefathers here, it was in the pursuit of the fishery, this is why these people came and this is why their sons and daughters subsequently decided to remain here and they cling to these rocks and crags and to continue to make a living there.

Mr. Speaker, I don't need to report to this hon. House today what has happened to our fishery in recent years. The closure of the groundfishery has been devastating to so many of our people in rural Newfoundland, and it is not something that came about overnight and it is not something that anyone can point to and lay the blame on any one individual or any one organization or on any one government. It is not that simple. Even today, there is still no complete agreement that we have a definitive answer as to what brought about the ultimate collapse of our cod stocks and the subsequent closure of the fishery. The only thing we can conclude is that there were a number of factors. There were a number of factors which contributed to this but, Mr. Speaker, whatever the reasons were the ultimate outcome and the devastation which it has brought on the people of this Province cannot be denied.

However, Mr. Speaker, despite the fact that the failure and closure of the fishery has had such a devastating impact on the rural areas of the Province, we also must recognize that there has been an up side and is not always visible because one of the things that it has forced us to do, in terms of the in-shore fishery in particular, is to look in areas at underdeveloped species, species which in the past we have not even considered and as a result because of the efforts undertaken by government, both levels of government, to try to implement a fishery which would take advantage of these under utilized species and to identify new opportunities.

The fishery of the day still remains the backbone of the economy of this Province and there is no doubt, that with the signs which we are seeing now, especially in the gulf and in 3Ps, the encouraging signs of a possible recovery of the ground fish stocks, there is no question, Mr. Speaker, in my opinion, that we can certainly look forward to better days in terms of the fishery in this Province.

However, I think we must never again, in this Province, make the kind of mistake, which is certainly one of the reasons that has brought us to where we are today, we can never allow ourselves to believe that one resource or one industry, will ever be able to sustain us. One of the great difficulties that we have had in this Province and the reason why the closure, the failure of the stocks and the subsequent closure of the fishery, has been so devastating to us, is because as a people we are so dependent on this one industry.

The thing, Mr. Speaker, that it does point out is that, we must work to diversify our economy so that in times if one area fails, it does not mean the complete collapse of the whole infrastructure, but indeed that we will have something else there that we can fall back on.

Mr. Speaker, some of this work has been proceeding. Anyone who thinks that there has not, over the last number of years, been activities and going back over a number of years, activities ongoing in this Province which indicate that we are working to diversify the economy and also indicate that we can, as a people, be successful in areas other than the fishery.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I reiterate, not to down-play the importance of our fishery, for truly it is and will continue to be for some time to come, the backbone of our economy, but I think it is worth while, if we would, just for a few moments, focus on some of these areas where we have over the last little while been able to accomplish some success.

Mr. Speaker, just a few days ago, I had occasion to attend a seminar in Stephenville, arranged by my colleague the hon. Kevin Aylward, and had occasion to listen to Mr. Lorne Janes, Chairman of the Newfoundland Manufactures Association. It was interesting that I noticed in The Newfoundland Herald, the most recent addition, there is an article there related to his thoughts with regard to what has been happening in terms of manufacturing in this Province and what he speaks of manufacturing in general, I just glean from that article a few of the points that he made on that day, which certainly, even though I did have some knowledge as to what has been going on in the Province, but it certainly was a very powerful message and a very powerful reminder of how successful we have been in this Province at our efforts in the manufacturing area.

For example, he reports that we have between 500 and 600 companies, at the present time, and that these companies are employing close to 20,000 people and contributing about $1.5 billion a year to our economy.

Mr. Speaker, certainly very, very significant and I think to most people a real eye opener because I think for most of us we do not see ourselves as being heavily involved or successful in the manufacturing area, but obviously that article points out that in fact we have been doing some very worthwhile and very successful things over the last number of years.

But Mr. Speaker, out focus today is especially geared towards the rural areas of the Province, where most people would suggest the real challenge lies. Most people, I would suggest Mr. Speaker, would debate and would challenge that it is very easy to get developments of that type going in areas like Corner Brook, St. John's or larger urban areas of the Province but how do you attract that kind of development and how do you sustain it in areas like Port au Port, that I represent or areas like the South Coast of the Province or Port aux Basques? It is very easy - all of us can point to examples of things that have been tried and have failed.

All too often our biggest downfall in this Province are the number of naysayers that we have out there who are constantly telling us that this won't work, that won't work and they will always point to the one or two things that we have tried and that have failed. Well, Mr. Speaker, my personal philosophy has always been, you never apologize for having tried something and failed. You only apologize if you don't have the guts to try it in the first place because unless we are able to do something and try to do something for ourselves the one thing that we can be sure of is that we will never get beyond the situation that we find ourselves in today. Mr. Speaker, indeed there are some very significant success stories right now, today as we speak, that exists out in the rural areas of this Province.

If I may, I would just like to take a minute to highlight some examples of what has been happening throughout this Province. The one venture perhaps that I am most knowledgeable about is the one that has taken place in my own district of Port au Port and specifically in the community of Piccadilly. Piccadilly Plastics, Mr. Speaker, a plastics manufacturing firm set up in an abandoned fish plant. It was started in 1995. It started out producing creamer cups. It went through a really negative experience of losing the plant within the first year of operation through fire but since the plant has been rebuilt and recently the company signed a new $20 million contract with an American firm.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SMITH: So this is the kind of thing that can happen. This company, at the present time, is employing twenty-two people. Once it gets up to capacity, will be employing in the area of sixty people and, Mr. Speaker, these are full-time jobs. We are not talking seasonal work, we are talking full-time jobs. This is a plant today that is operating twenty-four hours a day around the clock, seven days a week and that is the kind of development, Mr. Speaker, that we need and there are others situated throughout this Province.

Steel Core Industries Limited in Buchans, another extremely successful -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member by leave.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Steel Core Industries Limited, located in Buchans, which today employs thirty-two people. This company had its beginnings in 1989 and was intended to attract aerospace and defence contracts. I can remember being around at that time and being involved in rural development because again here as well, there is a connection to rural development and some of the players in this particular development. When some of these things were being mentioned at that time, the possibility that we could do this in Newfoundland was so foreign to people. Immediately you had the naysayers saying: Well what a waste of time. Why are we bothering with this? Why is government getting involved with these people to try to assist them with this type of venture because this is going nowhere? Well, Mr. Speaker, it certainly has proven its ability, this particular company. Over the past seven years it had contracts with companies such as Short Brothers of Northern Ireland; General Electric of Syracuse, New York; General Motors of Oakville, Ontario; CCL Systems of Leeds, England and Computing Devices Canada out of Ottawa. Recently Steel Core was awarded an initial machining contract with Bowring Aircraft out of Winnipeg. Mr. Speaker, this clearly demonstrates, when you see examples like this, that we are only limited by our own imagination. We are only limited by the willingness that we have to take chances, identify ideas, and to run with them.

A few other examples, Mr. Speaker, before I sit down and give some other hon. members in this House an opportunity to participate in this debate, for I am sure this is something that touches all of us and that everyone here today is eager to participate.

Highland Homes Limited out of Gander: Again, I remember the earliest days of this particular company which started back in the 1980s manufacturing log homes. Right now, this company is designing a home for the Chilean climate with an initial market of 500 to 1,000 units. Again, small beginnings, but people with visions, and people who have the willingness to work hard and have the drive to bring that dream to reality. The Superior Glove Works Limited out of Point Leamington, employing seventy to eighty people -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SMITH: One hundred and three now, my hon. colleague tells me. Again, this is an interesting example, as well. A company that in its earliest beginnings got introduced to the Newfoundland worker coming to the mainland, getting employed in a plant there, and being so impressed with the calibre of the people who were coming up from Newfoundland to work, felt: Why not come down here to Newfoundland where this labour force was available? Why could we not we do that here? Indeed, Mr. Speaker, today this particular company, in total, is producing 5 million pairs of gloves annually with a sale of $18 million, and $4 million of that is being produced in Newfoundland, with export markets both nationally and internationally.

Terra Nova Shoes: Everyone in this hon. House is familiar with this Newfoundland success story. Employment in the area of 115 to 125 people, founded in 1973, and today, sales in the area of $15 million, with target markets being both national and international.

S.C.B. Fisheries Limited - a good friend opposite, right next to me here - in St. Alban's, Bay d'Espoir, employs 100 people. Again, this is a particular venture that I can remember from the earliest beginnings. Because again, with this particular one, a rural development association started this as an initiative down in that area. Today, the current sales from that operation are $7 million. In the area of aquaculture we are just scratching the surface. But it is examples like these that are giving encouragement to other areas of the Province, to other individuals, and to other groups, to get involved in this area of aquaculture which has such tremendous potential.

North Atlantic Stone, again in Buchans, employing thirty-two people, produces stone for graveyard monuments from local granite. Production currently is at approximately $500,000 with growth expected to increase significantly in fiscal 1997.

In Bishop's Falls, High Point Peat Industries Limited: This business started in 1990. The product produced here is an oil absorbent material which is sold throughout international markets. The company has recently expanded operations to include the production of horticultural peat, and while markets are mainly provincial, potential exists for export markets. Sales in 1996 were in excess of $1 million.

Mr. Speaker, these are just some of the examples of the kinds of things that we are doing in the rural areas of the Province, just some of the things that are giving evidence of the kinds of ideas, drive and initiative that exist in rural Newfoundland, and the kinds of success stories we need to recognize and build on as we work to diversify the economy in rural Newfoundland.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I just want to say that it is an interesting resolution that has been put forward, and I understand where the member is coming from in talking about some of the successes that we have had in this Province. But I think that we should not ignore the facts.

The fact is that we are still in very dire straits in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. We still have a large out-migration of people, and a lot of them are coming from the rural areas of our Province. A lot of it may be due to the lack of finances and revenue in the economy. The closure of the cod fishery certainly has an impact, but I think a lot of it also is due to the bureaucracy that government has built up over the years, and this is also contributing to the downfall of rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

I come from a district, and I represent a district, of all rural communities in this Province, and I am certainly sure that we have had our share of trials and tribulations over the last few years. It seems that we have seen very little in terms of concrete infrastructure and funding. What we have seen is hand-outs here and there to keep people satisfied for short periods of time, with no long-term gains in employment and security for the communities in the long run.

I look right now to the inadequate health care system that we have in this Province, and the people who are suffering the most are the people in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. The people in my district, just to have an X-ray done, have to get on a plane and pay anywhere from $100 to $200 to have an X-ray. Whenever they want to have medical services of any kind, they have to fly in and out of communities to do it, and they do it at the highest cost to patients, in this whole Province.

When you look at the school system and what is happening there, it is incomprehensible, the restructuring system that is taking place in this Province, and the minister is quite content to sit back and say it is the boards that are making these decisions. But it is the government of this Province that sets the precedence for those boards and gives them the lenience to do what they can do.

There are commitments to rural communities in this Province with regard to school systems, but there is very little that substantiates that; because when you look at teacher allocations across this Province, and you look at a ratio of fourteen to one, I have five schools in my district with less than fourteen kids between Kindergarten and Grade IX, with one teacher in these schools to administer and teach and instruct, and that is not quality education for these students. They cannot even access Distance Education courses simply because the telecommunications is not there for them to do so. This is totally inadequate in the education system today.

When we look at the fishery, - the member, in his comments, said that the fishery was what brought us to this Province. Well, I say the fishery is what can keep us in this Province, as well, especially in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. In my district alone, the cod fishery may have failed, but we have fisheries that are far more wealthy than the cod has ever been to us - in terms of crab, in terms of shrimp, in terms of turbot - however, we do not have the flexibility to harvest, to process, the way that is most beneficial to our communities and to our plants. We are restricted by the licensing policies that are in place by this government and by the Federal Government. We have inshore fishermen along our coast who could participate in these fisheries, but cannot upgrade their licences, cannot upgrade their vessel sizes.

We have to have freedom in policy, we have to have flexibility, if we are to move ahead in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, and these are little things that government can do to ease the burden of these communities, that do not involve finances but just involve changes in policy.

I guess, when we look at what government is doing in its efforts - and, yes, I agree, Piccadilly Plastics, the glove factory in Point Leamington and others are success stories for our Province, and I hope that we can continue to have success stories like that, but we have a long way to go.

It is interesting that this resolution states that we work in partnership with communities and with private enterprise, because I could tell you stories out of my district alone. It is unbelievable the bureaucracy and the red tape that businesses have gone through and are still going through with government legislation to try to create employment in their communities.

I am going to talk about a couple of these things that are happening in my district.

One, for example: There has been an application in the system for seventeen months to develop a forest operation. It has not gotten through the system simply because of the bureaucratic level, the red tape and the policies that have been in place by this government. This business, right now today, could be employing twenty to thirty people, but that did not happen. There are many other examples like this in my district, and this is where government has to make changes.

You talk in terms of commitment. What did we see? We saw a commitment from government, alright. We saw an outfitting lodge put on another river in my district. We saw the proponents come off the Island part of the Province when people in the local area were not even considered for these proposals and, at the same time, you signed a deal of $600,000 and gave them the money to go and do it. If this is commitment to rural Newfoundland and Labrador, I think it is time for someone to make an effort to change it.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MS JONES: And the fishery? You missed the fishery section I say to the minister, because there is lots that could be done there, as well.

MR. EFFORD: Tell me about it.

MS JONES: We are giving out quotas and licences to go out and harvest offshore when those species should be brought inshore, processed in our plants giving our people jobs that they do not have. Now, that is commitment to rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. EFFORD: You do not even read. You do not even know what you are talking about.

MS JONES: I read, my dear, I read, and I did not like what I read; and that is why I spoke, Mr. Minister.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: If we want to make real commitment to rural Newfoundland and Labrador, we will stop closing schools in the small communities and busing them to the urban centres. We will start putting in place a health care system that is comparable for all people in this Province. We will lay off on cutting all the services that are there for rural communities and instead, try to enhance these services for the people who live there; improve technology, put in phone-line systems where they can do Distance Education, provide them with telecentre services that are available through all their communities so that they can access business opportunity and create business development.

When we start seeing efforts like that in this Province, well, then we can stand up and commend the government for its efforts.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I want to take a few moments to talk about the revitalization, the opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador and what we can do to create an atmosphere and an environment where opportunities can be taken advantage of, attitude change and a development of a resource that has been in our oceans for millions of years since (inaudible) but we just never had the vision to take care of it.

The hon. the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair was talking about the policies for Newfoundland and Labrador, the fisheries policies. I just remembered, recently in Labrador, she was talking about: Why did the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture not give core status to the plants in Labrador? Where is the policy? She just never listened. We made a special status for Labrador in our policy, that any fish plant on Coastal Labrador could process any species that they wish to that is harvested, no restrictions barred; no restrictions barred, and that means -

MS JONES: (Inaudible). What a waste of money (inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: What was that?

MS JONES: How come you (inaudible) all your (inaudible) on Labrador? It is poured into (inaudible) why did you spend all the money in (inaudible) Labrador?

MR. EFFORD: All of what money?

MS JONES: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: What money are you talking about? We did not spend any money.

MS JONES: (Inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: I have to get a copy of Hansard, Mr. Speaker, and send that down to the communities in Labrador and let them read what she just said.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: Let them see, let them read again, once more what she thinks of opportunities in Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, let me outline a couple of things we just did for Labrador.

Torngat Fishery, the co-operative - Torngat Co-operative was looking for other species and other opportunities to give the people in Makkovik an opportunity to get the longest seasonal work possible, out of resources available. They came to me as Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and said: You have the Nain Banker tied up at the university, doing exploratory work and taking students out to the Marine Institute for training. We would like to have that vessel in Labrador with the groundfish license so that we can go out and fish turbot and other species of fish so people in Labrador can be employed.

What did we do, Mr. Speaker? We gave them the boat. We gave them the boat, and along with the boat we gave them the groundfish licence and along with the groundfish licence we gave them a crab licence, porcupine crab, king crab and a snow crab licence in one fish plant in Labrador. I put the message out to all the other communities, whatever species that you want to process in the communities of Labrador and the resource is available, as long as it is not hurting another community - in the case of Black Tickle to have a crab licence or a shrimp licence and take it away from Cartwright, Mary's Harbour or St. Lewis - as long as it does not drain another community and you have the resource, you can have the licence.

AN HON. MEMBER: Perfect, perfect.

MR. EFFORD: But then what are you talking about core status? They all have the status that is required to process species.

AN HON. MEMBER: Get up and apologize (inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Apologize to the people - to the people of Labrador. Do you want me to take it away? Do you want me to say no, that's not going to happen?

AN HON. MEMBER: Who are you, God?

MR. EFFORD: Well make up your mind because it would not take me too long. If you don't want it somebody else does. So here we are giving every opportunity to every community in Coastal Labrador, where there is a fish plant, to do whatever species they want to do and the member representing that area of Labrador is against it. Now there's an example. Mr. Speaker, I can assure you, through my good friend in Labrador, I will copy Hansard and make sure that every constituent is able to read it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Including Danny Dumaresque.

MR. EFFORD: Including Danny Dumaresque.

Mr. Speaker, one of the biggest problems that I found in talking to people around Newfoundland and Labrador - my friend from Port au Port mentioned it earlier about the change and the diversification since the closure of the ground fish industry to other species. One of the problems that I have encountered is people not willing to diversify, people not willing to take the opportunity to look at other commercial values. Everything in that ocean is valuable. Everything in that ocean is valuable to the point where there is a market for it. All we have to do is take it upon ourselves to invest our thoughts and our visions into it, get it out of the ocean and get it into the markets.

One of the biggest problems that I have seen with the NCARP and TAGS program, there was money given to people automatically, right off the mark, for incomes. There should have been an attachment to that weekly amount of money, that if you are going to accept that kind of an income and you are intending to stay in the fishery then that must be part of looking at other opportunities and developing other species that you can find work out of it. Now we have spent several years - people getting millions and millions of dollars of income, which they need and now the TAGS program is running out and 8,000 or 10,000 people have no opportunities and don't know where they are going to turn tomorrow and we have millions of opportunities out there in the ocean. That is the negative that I see with NCARP and the TAGS program. Can you imagine - we brought in opportunities last year in experimental work in shrimp fisheries, the pot fishery and the beam trawl fishery, scientists have told us how much shrimp is around the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador and we found it difficult, very, very difficult to get somebody to put a beam trawl or a pot aboard their boat to go out to do experimental work. That is the difficulty that we have. We are not taking advantage of the opportunities out there.

MR. FITZGERALD: I said, what was the quotas or what was the allocation that the scientists suggest we take out of 3L?

MR. EFFORD: I don't know about 3L but certainly around all Newfoundland and Labrador you could take as much as 150,000 metric ton and you would not even come close to hurting the resource.

MR. FITZGERALD: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Well in 3L, none.

MR. FITZGERALD: 2,000 ton?

MR. EFFORD: Not in 3L, 2,000 ton for 3L fishermen to fish up in 3K.

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, none (inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Oh, that is not what I'm saying. The resource is available there.

Now one of the things that the minister had to do in making a decision in how much shrimp he is going to allow in the quotas this year, if you brought in a large quota and you don't have the harvesting and the processing capability, next year you could lose it. It is better to bring in the amount of quota that you can catch this year and look for an increase in 1998-99, it is the beginning of a new fishery.

The fishery, Mr. Speaker, is the backbone of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is the backbone, to the survival of Newfoundland and Labrador. Without the fishery I cannot imagine how the small communities along Coastal Newfoundland and Labrador can survive. It is our responsibility, as a government and my responsibility as minister, to make every opportunity available to those individuals but it is difficult to do, Mr. Speaker, at the same time that people are set in their ways and looking at the past and not looking at other opportunities other than the traditional fishery.

I remember there about six weeks ago, I was driving home one afternoon listening to The Fisherman's Broadcast and there were four fishermen being interviewed at that time by, I think it was Jim Wellman who was then on The Fisherman's Broadcast, and they were actually into a conversation about when the fishery reopens. In other words, there is no fishery today, they were waiting for when the fishery reopens and I sat there wondering what they were talking about. The only fishery that is not there today is the ground fishery.

In 1995 there was over $500 million worth of fish landed and we had four fishermen, representing four different regions around the Province saying: they are waiting for the fishery to reopen and there goes the proof to show you that they are not thinking about other opportunities. They are sitting and waiting for the cod to come back and if the cod came back today, even as bountiful as it used to be in the past, in those numbers, the markets are not there anymore. The markets are not there in that particular species of fish because of the changing markets and of the pricing of the markets, that other species of fish has filled that gap in the marketplace. So, again we are forced to diversify, we are forced to look at other opportunities. Opportunities are there, Mr. Speaker, as a matter of changing our thinking, having a vision to where I am going in the future and looking at the markets and looking at the availability and the opportunities other than the traditional groundfish stocks.

Mistakes, we made a lot of mistakes in the past, none of us can shy away from taking responsibility, whether we were involved in the fishery, directly, indirectly involved or just a citizen of this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, we have to take responsibility because if factory freezer trawlers or if large companies or if fishermen, in general, were out there overfishing or destroying fish stocks and we sat idly by and did nothing about it, then we were as much to blame as they were because we allowed it to happen.

So, the one thing that we have to do, we all have to take the responsibility, but we have to turn our directions in learning from the mistakes of the past and going into the future with a different attitude altogether and utilizing the vast resource we have out there.

I have said time and time again, if any other country or any other province -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, it must be the accent, must be the accent.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is a good speech.

MR. EFFORD: Am I finished?

Mr. Speaker, if any other province or any other country in the world had the resource around this Province, similar to Iceland, we would be doing similar things like Iceland is doing over there, importing people -

AN HON. MEMBER: It is a good speech, continue.

MR. EFFORD: I thought I was getting quite serious about this.

- importing people into their province to work in the fishing industry. What are we doing? We are losing people out of our rural communities because they do not understand the opportunities that are out there.

Little country of Iceland, 220,000 people, eighty-seven per cent of it's gross national produce is fish. In Newfoundland, people look to the ocean and if the codfish is not swimming in around the cod traps or in around the nets, most of them do not see any opportunity.

Another thing that we want to talk about is opportunities in rural Newfoundland. This government is committed to the sealing industry. The sealing industry for two factors, number one, what it means in dollars and cents in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. This year we hunted about 280,000, 285,000 animals. Looking at about an average, the minimum amount that each animal is worth is about $30 and when you multiply $30 times 285,000 animals, you can imagine the amount of wealth that is coming into fishermen's pockets.

Now, what are we doing? The policy that I just brought in - I am saying that anything caught in the ocean, whether it is seals or whether it is any species of fish, if we are going to create an economic environment in Newfoundland, opportunities in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, if it is going to be caught here, it should be processed here. So, I just brought in a new policy that no fish will leave Newfoundland or Labrador to be further processed in some other province in Canada or somewhere else in the world.

So, there are opportunities that will make thousands of jobs available in Newfoundland and Labrador just on that one policy alone. If we look at the multi-millions of dollars over the years, the produce that went out of this Province and created tens of thousands of jobs in the United States, somewhere else in Canada, we should be ashamed of ourselves. This government adopted a policy, it is over, no excuses, it is over now, you process it here or you get out of the business and we are very strong on that issue.

The other thing that we just brought in is a quality issue. If we are going to develop a fishery of the future we have to derive the best possible price we can for that fish so the fishermen and the processors and the plant workers can get a good living out of it. One of the things that we have never been careful about and never had any respect for was putting a quality product into the market. While we have some companies that are doing an excellent job, and probably a greater percentage that are doing a good job, we have a number of companies out there that do not care about quality, make a fast buck, dump it into the market. Now the price is determined from one year to the next on the worst product going to the market.

In other words, in the case of 1995, crab was $2.50 a pound on the market. We put 25 million pounds of crab, cooked dead, and shipped it to the market. As a result, in 1995 crab was $2.50 a pound. In 1996 it went down to $1.10 a pound. Most of it, Mr. Speaker, was because of the type of quality that is in the market. When I attended a Boston seafood show this year I talked with Japanese buyers. One of the questions I asked was: Why is it that we are always having trouble trying to get our product into your market? They said: You are not concerned about quality and we are.

The next policy we brought in this year: Unless it is a top quality plant, unless it produces a top quality product and it doesn't adhere to the rules, there are no fines, no band aid approach, no court appearances, I will take their licence immediately. We have already proven to the people how serious we are, and I've told them that it isn't going to be flim-flam talk, or flip-flopping from day to day. We are serious about it. Just last week we took about 1,800 pounds of halibut from a fishermen, a small buyer -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: - and we dumped it out in Robin Hood Bay.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. minister's time is up.

MR. EFFORD: Already? By leave for a couple of minutes?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair have leave of the House to speak again?


MR. SPEAKER: No leave has been granted.

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I listened today for a few minutes to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Most times I don't listen to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Sometimes he makes sense, sometimes he doesn't.

It was very interesting today to hear the minister say that what is caught off our shores is going to be produced on our shores and processed here. I can certainly agree with the minister in that regard. For far too long things that have been caught off our shores have been taken somewhere else to be produced. Some years ago I worked for the Canadian Saltfish Corporation. The chairman of the commission was a gentleman out of Ottawa who told me at one time he visited Czechoslovakia. While in Czechoslovakia going through a fish plant, he discovered a label of R.I. Smith, a minister from Nova Scotia, in this particular fish plant in Czechoslovakia. A product that was caught off Newfoundland, put on a factory-freezer trawlers, taken back to Czechoslovakia. The cod tongues were done, packaged under R.I. Smith's label, and shipped back to Canada. Certainly that is wrong. Whatever we do in this regard certainly is a benefit to this Province.

I hope the Premier takes the same step when it comes to Voisey's Bay. They are our resources, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. For far too long we have allowed our resources to go somewhere else. How can one today not support the particular motion as put forth by the member? How can one not support that particular thing? I don't know why, in this House, we actually have to have a private member's motion to ask the government to do what it should be doing anyway.

AN HON. MEMBER: Say that again. I bet you can't say that (inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: That is what I can. To ask the government to do what it should be doing anyway.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Oh no. The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, I can agree with the latter part of his speech 100 per cent. I only hope we can do this in the rest of our industries in this Province, I say to the Government House Leader, and especially Voisey's Bay.

For far too long our Province has been raped, and what we produced has been sent out to other places in this world to be produced and to be handled. We send out the raw materials. It should never be allowed to happen in Newfoundland and Labrador. So how can one today not support this particular motion? It is a motherhood issue, and really something that our government should be doing regardless.

MR. FITZGERALD: (Inaudible) I feel like your mother.

MR. FRENCH: A motherhood issue, I say to my colleague from Bonavista South. It is a motherhood issue and really does not even need to be here.

We talk about seals. I applaud the tannery that is now going in Baie Verte, and say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, that it is great that the two of them intervened. And I would certainly like to compliment my colleague from Baie Verte because he has been involved in this particular project from day one. That is the type of industry we should have in this Province. Again, when we look at seals, we have been sending them out of this Province for years and years and years to be produced, to be handled by somebody else. It should never be done. It should happen in our Province, and we should never allow this to happen again.

Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to make those few points today. Like I said, how can you not support this motion? I don't even really know if such a motion was really necessary. It is an issue that every member in this House, on both sides, will certainly support, so I thank you for your time.

MR. SPEAKER: Before recognizing the hon. minister, I would like to draw members' attention to our Standing Orders. There appeared to be some confusion a few moments ago when the hon. Member for Cartwright - L'Anse-au-Clair stood to enter into the debate for the second time. I heard some members to my right say that she did not require leave of the House to speak again.

I refer members to Standing Order 53.(1): No member shall speak twice to a question except in explanation of a material part of his or her speech which may have been misquoted or misunderstood.

The hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal.

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand in the House today to address this particular resolution, and certainly to commend my hon. colleague from Port au Port on the resolution that he has introduced, and clearly again to commend him on his remarks. He has certainly hit the nail on the head in recognizing what is happening in rural Newfoundland from an economic perspective.

When we talk about rural Newfoundland, and revitalizing rural Newfoundland, it is difficult because everything tends to be lumped into whatever is happening around the Province, whether it has to do with education, or whether it has to do with health care, or whether it has to do with roads or water and sewer.

Clearly the focus that I am looking at, and that I am really concerned about from my perspective, would be economic renewal. As my hon. colleague from Port au Port said, we can point to any number of businesses that have started in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, businesses that are doing very well.

As he said as well, attitude is what is important here, and people are very reluctant to change. I know that from experience, from having been out around rural Newfoundland and Labrador and talking to people about the new approach that this government is taking to economic development. Here I am talking about the new process, the unique process that we have entered into as a government with the volunteers and the people around Newfoundland and Labrador, and I am talking about the Regional Economic Development Board process, the process that involves hundreds of volunteers throughout this Province, people who are committing their time, talent and energy to a process that will see them identify strategic economic plans for each of the twenty economic zones in the Province.

I am happy to report that in fact we have received four draft strategic economic plans to date. We expect to have another eleven in by the end of June. The only two zones where they are still having some difficulty they do, in fact, have their provisional boards in place; I am talking about Zone 18 and Zone 20. What we are doing with those two particular zones is letting them find their own way, because clearly there was an issue there initially. There was a zone here that they felt was too large for what they hoped to accomplish, so I agreed to their request, after speaking with them, to in fact divide that particular zone into Zones 18 and 20. They are working at their own pace, and that is fine with me, as long as they know where they are going and what they want to accomplish.

The other eighteen economic zones are alive and well, and they are working very hard to develop these strategic economic plans for rural Newfoundland and Labrador, and for the urban areas of our Province. Because even though the title of this department is Development and Rural Renewal, it is development for the entire Province, not just for rural Newfoundland. Clearly, if we look at what is happening in rural Newfoundland we are well ahead of the game, if you look at the types of businesses that have started out there.

I have had a chance since coming into this particular portfolio to visit a lot of businesses throughout this Province in all twenty economic zones. When we installed the official boards for the regional economic development boards, what I always take the opportunity to do when I'm out in the regions of the Province is to go out and visit some of the businesses out there. I suppose more than anyone else, because I've had the chance to travel throughout rural Newfoundland and Labrador, I can tell the House about any number of success stories out there. My hon. colleague referred to Piccadilly Plastics in Piccadilly. George Yates in Springdale has a wonderful business going there making fibreglass boats, and he started in 1989. He is exporting his product. That is something else we should recognize. Businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly in rural Newfoundland, have recognized the potential globally to market their products and they are very much into exporting their products. George Yates is just one of those businesses.

One of the things I've always said when I go and visit different businesses, I always ask them if they source locally. I mean, the point here is that if you are going to support each other and grow your industry, then we have to source products that we need from other industries in the Province. Certainly for Mr. Yates in Springdale he recognized this. When I visited his business and he was showing me some of the photographs of the boats he and his staff had built, one of them had a canvas canopy. My first question to Mr. Yates was: Where did you source your canopy? I was delighted to hear that in fact he had sourced this canopy from Superior Sewing in Lord's Cove, which happens to be in my district. I was equally pleased that he had recognized the value of a product that is being produced in the District of Grand Bank as well.

Superior Sewing, which I just referred to, in Lord's Cove, two young people who returned to Newfoundland and started a business. No government money involved in this business. This is from their own savings. They have started a business where they make canvas canopies, they make backpacks, they do a lot of upholstery. For a couple of the hulls built in the Marystown Shipyard they in fact did the upholstery for that. This is a young couple with three young children, and they are working out of their homes. They had bought machinery and they have it in the basement of their home. They are employing a couple of young people from Lord's Cove who otherwise would not have any opportunity.

Bay d'Espoir. Again, my hon. colleague for Port au Port referred to the aquaculture industry that is alive and well in Bay d'Espoir. We are talking about 300 people being employed in that particular industry in that particular area of the Province, and that is 300 directly and indirectly. There are a lot of things happening in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

One of the other companies that has obviously recognized the value of exporting their products is EDM Consultants out of Deer Lake. Brad Chalk, who owns EDM Consultants, is in fact selling his services to St. Pierre-Miquelon. We all know about the initiative this department has undertaken to try and export our products, and particularly if we can export it into the European Common Market. We are trying to do that through St. Pierre-Miquelon. We are working very closely in developing a working relationship there.

Clearly there is a history there in terms of a long-standing relationship between Newfoundland and Labrador and St. Pierre-Miquelon. Certainly that relationship is even more prevalent when you look at the Burin Peninsula. What we are trying to do here is see that relationship develop where it is mutually beneficial from an economic perspective. If you look at the product that is being imported by St. Pierre-Miquelon, you are talking about $100 million worth of product. Only $3.4 million of that $100 million actually comes from Newfoundland, and of that only $1 million of those products are actually made in Newfoundland. So we have ample opportunity there, Mr. Speaker, to grow our industries and certainly to export more into that particular marketplace, and while I recognize that there are only about 6,600 people in St. Pierre-Miquelon altogether in terms of using the product or needing the product, if we look at the European Common Market that we have access to using St. Pierre et Miquelon as a gateway, then certainly, the potential is that much greater.

I want to talk about another industry that has great potential in this Province and is certainly an industry that I guess, is geared primarily to rural Newfoundland and Labrador, and that is the craft industry and we are very, very excited about the potential in the craft industry. Most of you will have received a catalogue which we recently produced which has crafts of character and is a 1997 apparel and gift catalogue. These are wonderful products, Mr. Speaker, that are made in Newfoundland and Labrador; they are quality products second to none. The point being, Mr. Speaker, is that we have to be able to produce the quantity in the way that we can produce the quality to make this a viable industry. Clearly, we have to look at not only the tourists coming into our Province and selling to our own people but again, exporting our products.

My department is very interested in continuing with a process that was begun a number of years ago and that is, enabling craft producers to take part in three different craft shows. One is the Alberta Fall Craft Show which takes place in Edmonton in Alberta, the other is the Atlantic Craft Trade Show that takes place in Halifax and then there is the Toronto Fall Gift Show, Mr. Speaker, and this is a wonderful opportunity for our craft industry, for our people out there who are producing these quality products, to display what they have made and to find markets for them. These catalogues are distributed to the wholesale markets throughout the country. But again, to be in this catalogue, you have to be able to produce the quantities that will be required to the wholesaler who comes looking to buy the product and that is what we are trying to do in building the craft industry, Mr. Speaker, in rural Newfoundland and Labrador because, again it is something that can be made from your home. You do not have to incur a lot of expense and have overhead or a studio although, if you look at Linda Yates down in King's Point, she is doing very well indeed with her pottery and again has a wonderful product line and you can always see her at the craft fairs here in St. John's.

The craft industry is in fact, alive and well in the Province but it has a long way to go to be seen as a viable business, and what we are hoping to do, in working with them as a department, is to work very closely with the Newfoundland and Labrador Craft Development Association, to have them take responsibility for working with the craft producers to in fact, look at the technical aspects of the program. What we are attempting to do with the craft industry is to market the products because it is only in marketing the products that we will realize the sales and the potential sales that are there to make the industry grow.

As well, Mr. Speaker, we talked earlier about the funding available for different projects in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. My hon. colleague referred to a number of businesses that have started over the past while, particularly Picadilly Plastics Limited, Superior Glove Works, Superior Sewing and he made reference to all of those industries and I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that under the Strategic Regional Diversification Agreement, $35 million has gone into rural Newfoundland and Labrador in different projects and some of those, Mr. Speaker, are tourism projects but under the SRDA, the Strategic Regional Diversification Agreement, the funding is for non-profit organizations. So if there is a community organization out there or anyone who wants to submit a proposal, a non-profit organization can submit a proposal to my department under SRDA for funding and $35 million dollars have been available, Mr. Speaker, to be spent in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

If you look, for instance, at the Southwest Coast Development Association, $203,000 to develop an area known as The Neck for restoration of the stone lighthouse at Rose Blanche; again an example of money well-spent from a tourism perspective. If you left the Town of Harbour Breton, $58,000 to establish a cultural heritage centre which will serve as a focal point for tourism development in the Costa Bay region, and the list goes on and on, Mr. Speaker. Gambo - Indian Bay Development Association, $533,000 to study the feasibility of farming sea urchins. It could be a very viable industry in that neck of the woods, Mr. Speaker. The Great Northern Peninsula Development Corporation, $85,000. Interim funding for the Daniel's Harbour arctic char project and I referred to that earlier in the House this week. Again, the Great Northern Peninsula Development Corporation, $1 million yet again for the Daniel's Harbour arctic char facility.

These are developments that we are receiving, Mr. Speaker, because we see a long term future for these particular initiatives and that is why the government is there and that is why we are putting money into these types of projects because we see a future. We have to diversify the economy. We especially have to diversify the economy in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. I think both of my hon. colleagues, in making reference to the fishery and the collapse of the groundfish fishery, we all recognize that even with the fishery coming back, the fishery of the future will not be the fishery of the past and neither should it be. Again, as my hon. colleague from Port au Port said, we should never be putting all of our eggs into one basket.

The point here is that we must work very hard to diversify the economy and we are doing that. With my staff, Mr. Speaker, we have presence in all - or we will have within the next thirty days - a presence in all twenty economic zones in this Province. The whole point being here is that we want to work very closely with people out in the field, people who have ideas about new initiatives, people who want to identify opportunities and work very closely with other groups and organizations to partner with them, Mr. Speaker, because we have to make sure that the few dollars we have to put into developing industry in rural Newfoundland and Labrador is spent wisely. The best way we can do that is to work in partnership with existing organizations. My department is doing that, Mr. Speaker, with the federal government because clearly if we come together, pull our resources together, cut out the inefficiencies and the duplication and try and work together in the best interest of Newfoundland and Labrador and if we work together as a team, Mr. Speaker, rather than going in separate areas and taking different tactics, there is great potential for rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Both of my colleagues have referred to the opportunities out there and to what is happening there and having gone around rural Newfoundland and Labrador several times and taken advantage of the opportunity to visit any number of businesses, I can tell you that people out there in rural Newfoundland and Labrador know full well that they have a future, that things are not as bleak as one would have us think. The problem that most of us have, Mr. Speaker, is that we are confined to our own areas of the Province. We really don't get the chance to visit all areas of the Province and see what is happening in all twenty economic zones. There are good things happening out there, Mr. Speaker, and I have had the opportunity to go to all of twenty economic zones. So I can speak to that and speak confidently about the future of Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Again, Mr. Speaker, the number of initiatives are -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. minister's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, by leave.

MS FOOTE: Just in cluing up, Mr. Speaker, because I know there are others who want to speak on this side.

There is a grand total of sixty-nine initiatives that have been approved under SRDA funding for a total of $32 million. So there is money being spent in rural Newfoundland. People in rural Newfoundland and Labrador are identifying initiatives. They are recognizing the potential. They are coming forward with ideas. They are not sitting back and doing nothing. They are not saying all is lost. They know the future is bright and we have to work in partnership, not only with the government, Mr. Speaker, in terms of accessing this type of funding but with the private sector as well. This is why I am so pleased with the representation on the regional economic development boards. When you look at the make-up of the boards and the stakeholders, when you have educational institutions, you have municipalities, you have businesses, you have rural development associations, you have the youth and you have special interest groups and you have all of the people that have a stake in their future in rural Newfoundland and Labrador and they are working - for the first time, Mr. Speaker, they are working collectively. They are working as a team to identify their strengths and their weaknesses. To come together and put a plan in place that will see a strategic economic plan identified for all twenty economic zones and in doing that, Mr. Speaker, what they are doing is in fact identifying a strategic economic plan for the Province as a whole. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

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

I thought I would rise today and make a few comments. I won't use up the whole fifteen minutes but make a few comments on this motion put forward by the Member for Port au Port.

Now, Mr. Speaker, knowing the Member for Port au Port, and reading it, of course, there is nobody in the House who is going to disagree with the motion, especially - although the urban members, all the time, think they know it well, but they really do not know it as well as we do. Because every day we go back out to our district - and we do not go to the bigger centres, even; there is even a difference between rural Newfoundland in going to the bigger centres, and then really going to rural Newfoundland - that is the big difference. Because when I go home, for example, when I go into places like King's Point, Baie Verte and La Scie, those are the bigger communities, 1,000 to 1,500 to 1,600 people. That is not even real rural, Mr. Speaker - the real rural is when I go to thirty-three other communities in my district, anywhere from Tilt Cove with fifteen people, up to 100 and 150 in some places, Shoe Cove, for example, with 200 people.

So, Mr. Speaker, there is a variety out there. If you go around to your district - I know the member for Port au Port does; he goes around to his district - and really sit and talk, not just pass by, say hello and move on. But if you stop and talk to people in rural Newfoundland, Mr. Speaker, you get the real story. And, Mr. Speaker, not a problem, I suppose, but one thing that I pick out is the word `significant' - `significant efforts to achieve economic growth' and so on. A lot of people, even in the bigger centres, say - and I agree with the minister, to a point, where she says that there is diversification and different thinking going on in rural Newfoundland; there is. I go into the telecentre - I will bring up the telecentre again with the minister. I have gone in there and bumped into people who were coming out with business plans and so on and they had good ideas because they had some hope.

Well, Mr. Speaker, what I would like to share with the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal and the member who put forth this motion, and talk about for my five or six minutes, is on philosophy, because it has to be a philosophy that is the basis for any plan.

Mr. Speaker, we start with philosophy and we start with hope. In rural Newfoundland, the key ingredient to beginning something is hope. These people out there living in rural Newfoundland, if they have some hope, then they move to the next step. The next step, if they have hope, is being creative. So, if they have hope, then they are creative. Then if they are creative, Mr. Speaker, they are ambitious and they are business-like and they feel like they are entrepreneurs, so they take the next step and say: I am going to try something.

So, we started with hope, became creative, then went on to being a little bit ambitious, and said: I am going to try something now. It might be starting a mushroom farm, or it might be anything, Mr. Speaker - there are all kinds of ideas out there.

AN HON. MEMBER: A cucumber farm.

MR. SHELLEY: A cucumber farm, it could be even that, Mr. Speaker. Well, the Minister of Fisheries always talked about the cucumbers in the ocean. That is another idea, diversify the economy.

So, we went from hope, to being creative, to being ambitious and actually going and doing something. Well, what we need after that and what nobody has really mentioned here to date - I have not heard, maybe I missed it; I did not heard all the conversations - was when these people get to that stage where they have had hope, then they got creative, came up with an idea and they moved on to say I am going to try something, there is a problem in this Province. These people with the great ideas - and I have seen them eighteen years old, I have seen them fifty years old, who have the ideas - get smothered by bureaucracy and people turn them off. I have seem people walk in with ideas and -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, well, same thing, alright.

Mr. Speaker, I have seen these eighteen-year-olds walk in and before the person, the bureaucrat they bump into, tells them about the great idea it is and glad to see them coming and so on -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: What about the (inaudible) in Shoe Cove?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SHELLEY: Before they get to the next stage - and I have sent them on to telecentres and to do business plans, I have encouraged them - the first thing when they go into these offices, they find out fifteen reasons why it should not work. They do not encourage them, they do not say, bring it on forward. As a matter of fact, it happened with big business, too, but moreso because big business has a bit more fortitude and, I guess, a bit more backing. But these people only have a small bit of hope, a small bit of money, usually, and they run into this brick wall right away and it dies. That is the problem in rural Newfoundland, Mr. Speaker, and what we have to do is break that barrier, so that the first ingredient which I talked about, which is hope - and this is what I want to connect here today, Mr. Speaker. The first ingredient that we have to have with -

AN HON. MEMBER: Every Tory runs into a brick wall.

MR. SHELLEY: This Tory did not, Mr. Speaker, run into a brick wall.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, you did.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, what I try to do in this particular talk here today, is talk about the hope that they need and I am going to reflect it to the infrastructure funding that was just announced. Yes, there are some parts of this Province that are coming up with good ideas and move on and they have encouragement, but the bad sign is that the infrastructure program that was just announced did not give very much hope to a lot of people in rural Newfoundland. The concrete examples of necessities - I said it the other day. We are talking about people who do not want sewage running in their back garden and they want a decent road. I had a petition here the day before yesterday in which they did not even want pavement. They had it in quotation marks after. It said: We will even settle for upgraded road. We do not want pavement, we do not expect it. You talk about hope? These are people who just saw their school close down. In one week they had their school closed down, the road became impassable, and they could not get their grandmother into the hospital in Baie Verte, all in one week. Now we are asking those people to go out and say: Give a bit of hope.

I say to the Minister of Education, that is an actual fact in one community. I will not name the community in the House because there are a lot of them like it. But it is an actual fact that on a Monday they got the word that their school was closed, in my district - maybe the minister knows the town I am talking about. The same week they went on protest because the road became impassable, and it certainly did. I was down there with the R.C.M.P. officer. It was impassable. And one lady who was on that picket line, who had just heard the school closed and they could not pass along the road - she said: I went up to the hospital; my mother is supposed to go in for heart surgery, she is on a waiting list. All in one week she got that. I bet you that there are many communities in this Province that - maybe not as tight in one week, but over a two- or three-week period, got all the same news: school closing, your hospital is full, and so on.

So, Mr. Speaker, not to dwell on that, but I just want to say that the ingredient to starting a productive people in this Province, in rural Newfoundland, is to give them a bit of hope. Say: Yes, we are going to commit to your necessities, your infrastructure, your water, sewer and pavement. We are going to do something for you. Now, when you do that and you put a piece of pavement through a town, or you say: Your water and sewer is coming next year, the young people, the older people, and so on, they have hope. And once they have hope, then they start to move to the next stage and say: I have an idea for a business. That is what happens, and that is the only point I wanted to make today.

We talk about rural renewal and supporting the member's motion. I know his intentions are good, and I support him on it. But what I am saying to the government of the day is that we have to show - and it is a critical time in this Province. I've never felt it so much as in the last month to two months, because I guess the schools and the hospitals and the roads all came at one time. But I have never felt it so much.

Mr. Speaker, they need hope, and they need to know that small-town Newfoundland that we always bypass -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I am trying to be constructive today, because the motion has the intent of what every member in this House would want. We need hope in rural Newfoundland if we are going to have productive people who are going to be creative and move on and do things for themselves and diversify and so on. It is great to talk about all that, but the philosophy has to start with hope in rural Newfoundland.

Mr. Speaker, the best way to show it - we can easily go out and say commitment to this, or we have a vision for this or that. That is all rhetoric. We have heard it from all parties for years. But when you see pavement going down or a sewer system going in - after living in a community for fifteen years and not seeing pavement, then they say: Yes, they are committed to us.

My message to the government is, if you want to follow up on the motion by the Member for Port au Port, then show in concrete evidence that it is out there.

I was very disappointed - the minister left early before I had a chance to say it the other day (inaudible) this week. You talk about the government side and Opposition side. I feel sorry for the MP for Humber St. Barbe - Baie Verte, who has to drive down the Baie Verte Peninsula next week. I do not. I do not have to go down there campaigning next week. It is the MP for Humber St. Barbe - Baie Verte who has to drive down the Baie Verte Peninsula next week to the nineteen communities without pavement, and fifteen without water and sewer, and a program that his government initiated, the infrastructure program. He has to go down the Baie Verte Peninsula. Mr. Speaker, I am telling you, if the accusations made across the House by the government side and Opposition side - I think they missed the boat. Because the federal Member for Humber St. Barbe - Baie Verte, the government side in Ottawa, the people who initiated the infrastructure program, have got pittance for that district, and he has to go down there with a pamphlet and go door to door. Mr. Speaker, I am going to tell you, both government and Opposition sides, that I hope they remember who was on the government side, who initiated the program.

MR. FITZGERALD: Who said anything about being in Opposition?

MR. SHELLEY: Because, Mr. Speaker, if you talk to people in Springdale when they talk about Opposition and government side, they will give you another side of the story also.

Not to get off track too much - the intent of the motion is a good one, that we pay not just lip service - I think this is the intent - but show them hope and show them we are committed to rural Newfoundland, and that we all believe that the philosophy - and I have said it many times, because it is my own personal one, but I know also for a lot of members here, too - that Newfoundland's economy goes the way of rural Newfoundland. If rural Newfoundland is down and out, the bigger centres of St. John's, Corner Brook, Gander and so on, go down with them, because people in rural Newfoundland use those centres. They make money, they spend money, they come into these centres and use it for all different kinds of reasons. So, Mr. Speaker, if rural Newfoundland is down, Newfoundland is down. That is where it starts; that is the grass root of it; that is what brought people to this Province here some 500 years ago, into the small nooks and crannies around Newfoundland. The people who build their own homes and have their families living there have no intention of leaving.

When we talk about people coming across this Province, coming into St. John's, they come to visit. They do not want to live here. They probably would not live here if they were given a house. People in St. John's love it; that is the kind of life they are used to. With all due respect to the people who live here, you have to respect the people in rural Newfoundland who live there for that reason.

There was a time, when I was growing up, in my teenage years even, that I would say: Why do you live in that small town? Why do you live there? I cannot understand it. But as you grow to respect the people who live in those places, whether there are twenty families or a hundred families, you understand why they love it there.

I can name so many communities around my district, and I know the Member for Port au Port can, that are beautiful communities. People own their homes; they have a nice boat on the wharf. They can go out and hunt in their back yard. They leave, in the wintertime, with a ski-doo in their back yard and go fishing. That is what they love. That is why they are going to stay there. That is why the word `resettlement' bothers so many people.

One old fellow down in Pacquet said to me: As far as I am concerned, rural Newfoundland, small-town Newfoundland, is the best-kept secret. Everybody thinks we are terrible out here, and we have bad times and so on, but the best way of living is in a small part of rural Newfoundland.

My simple message to the member's motion today, in sincerity to him - I know his intentions are good - yes, commit to rural Newfoundland but we have to show it more than lip service. Give them the necessities of water and sewer and pavement - step one - stop there, infrastructure. Do that, and show those people -

MR. WISEMAN: (Inaudible) tannery (inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, I say to the Member for Topsail, we are going to get a tannery in Baie Verte. It was a lot of hard work and people are delighted to hear it.

I still say to the member, in conclusion on this particular motion, I support the motion but I would also say that I hope he talks to his colleagues in Cabinet, and his Premier. We had better start showing some real commitment in the way of necessities, and what I mean by necessities is infrastructure - that is water and sewer, pavement and upgrading - so that Newfoundlanders out there who have good ideas, who are sitting back with no hope, can have hope and then move on to make sure their ideas are fruitful and they become productive Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who can bring this Province back to its feet. It has to be done from rural Newfoundland, grass roots Newfoundland. That is where it has to start, and we have to make that commitment.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo and LaPoile.

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It gives me great pleasure to rise on this initiative brought forward by the hon. the Member for Port au Port.

Rural Newfoundland, I suppose, to sum it up in a word, the Opposition will always use it to try to beat us over the head with it. Most of us have, if not a completely rural district, a district with a large rural component, and the future - I sometimes think, What is the future for some of the communities in my district? What is the future for the majority of communities throughout the Province? Maybe that is your future written right there, I suppose, as far as Jean Charést...

Mr. Speaker, to be serious, it is something that some of us who care deeply about the places where we live, the places that send us here, have a lot of thought, and at times, anxiety over trying to do something out there rather than just being there to wave goodbye to someone who buys a ticket to go on the ferry to the mainland.

The population decline is a noted thing with the Province over the last while with the decline of our major industry in the fishery. What do you do with, or for, or in partnership with rural communities? The way we have gone about this, we have seen some measures of success, we have seen some measures of failure over the years. As most hon. members have mentioned, there are many naysayers. There are many in the communities, and there are many naysayers in government bureaucracies, and there are many also who have the desire to see something happen but there are times when the policies of government, the policies of local groups who try to undertake initiatives, do not really get beyond first base, they don't achieve successful conclusions, and I suppose we have to look at the success stories.

As has often been said, success can be repeated, success can be duplicated. The other thing about it is, as is said by some motivational speakers, `success leaves clues', and the clues that are left in the success stories in smaller communities throughout the Province where they have had success: The Piccadilly Plastics of the world, the Steelcor Industries here in the Province, Superior Glove Works, Terra Nova Shoes, that were already mentioned. These success stories can be duplicated and I think we have, as a government and as people in the rural communities, to take a close look at how these things were done in some of these communities, how we can tie our traditional ties to the marine industries, to the future growth and development of rural communities throughout the Province.

There are and always will be, I suppose, tireless efforts by community leaders, by MHAs, by MPs and others who are genuinely concerned for the welfare and benefit of the people living in the communities, and sometimes things cannot happen. We cannot, I suppose, see the inception of an automobile manufacturing plant in some small Newfoundland outport. It is probably never in the cards. So we have to look at: What are the possible strengths of that community's location that can be tapped into and can allow for its development in the future?

Some would suggest that we can operate business in smaller communities now with the improvements in telecommunications, and the advent of the Internet and other communications devices out there, the fax machine and all of these things, that allow those who work in a smaller community to be just as efficient and just as tied in to what is happening throughout the world as anyone in any other community, and that local access is very important.

As an example, the community of Burgeo contacted me some time recently to say that they were looking for earlier local access to the Internet. They have some Internet access there, but as far as a local dial-up port for the Internet for Burgeo, that was not in the cards. On their behalf I contacted the people at Newfoundland Telephone, and I am pleased to say that they are going to be providing Burgeo with local dial-up internet service faster.

One of the hon. members opposite was mentioning about telecentres. Well, it is nice to have telecentres in certain parts of the Province, but as the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal has said, we must try to allow more and more communities throughout the Province that access to the worldwide web and the Internet generally, and to better telecommunications so that they can avail of the opportunities.

The problem probably has always been that we would set up a policy structure that would dictate to the people of given communities what they had to do to fit into the program that the government had. We have now taken a different tact, which is to develop a very flexible government system and government structure. The Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, the Minister of Human Resources and Employment, these departments are signalling to the people out there that flexibility is the key to making sure that we create wealth and opportunity in rural Newfoundland communities, and that flexibility is so important because one of the key aspects of the business community out there that wants to develop into a vibrant and successful business community is that they do not want to be hindered by government. They want government to be their partner but often-times in the past, government has been seen as more of a hindrance than a support mechanism for business development throughout the Province.

So with the flexibility that the ministers have designed into their departments, hopefully, with the destruction of some of the red tape that still exists - and we are all fighting it every day. You know this government, if we are called `red' is because we see red when we see red tape, and that is really you know, without any kind of a pun being intended, that is certainly something that each and every one of us on this side of the House is very cognizant of. We don't want the person, as the hon. Member for Baie Verte has said, the person who has an idea, who walks in the door and is challenged on his idea immediately to be discouraged.

I have had many people who were discouraged by government not being there to help out and questioning what they were doing in a wrong way. Now in some cases, once they realize what is involved their idea may not get anywhere but at the very least, encourage them so that there is a realization on a person's own initiative that maybe he should change his idea, the business planning process and the assistance of the former Enterprise Newfoundland now Development and Rural Renewal employees; the Regional Economic Development Board mechanisms that are in place to help with the business planning process and the business planning process in and of itself is economic development. It is a learning process, it is a process whereby people who examine a business concept and come to a conclusion that this business concept can work or may not work, is in fact the kind of thing that will drive the economy of the Province.

They are spending money, they are expending energy, they are putting their all into trying to determine their own future and it is that kind of effort, if we have a very small - and I have said this in the House before and all hon. members opposite often say that you are giving the same speech again - but, it would take a small percentage of improvement in each and every area of the Province to make that difference, that will allow us to see more SCB fisheries, to see more Picadilly Plastics. Those contracts are out there for us to go and get. We have the workforce, we have people who are interested in staying where they live and we have to tie that with economic development initiatives and prospecting trips by maybe, even some hon. members who know better about their own districts than the hon. members opposite and the hon. members on this side of the House.

The hon. Member for Baie Verte and I spoke yesterday you know, and sometimes when someone comes to you with a business concept, someone from away - Newfoundlanders are sometimes accused of two different things: One is the mistrust of people not from within our own realm and the other thing is, to think that the person from the mainland or somewhere else can do it better than the Newfoundlanders themselves. But, if you marry those two things, if you bring together the local expertise and the local workforce and knowledge base with the outside expertise that is there in certain areas and create a certain amount of successful drive to go forward with an industry in a community, it works and any doubts that we have had about it in the past, Mr. Speaker, I think we have to redouble our efforts, make sure that we explore every opportunity to the fullest, that we give them the benefit of the doubt, that we go forward until such time as it proves that an idea cannot work and demonstrate it on paper, demonstrate it in the business plan and not just give it the kibosh because a bureaucrat or an official or some analyst thinks it won't. I think more people will achieve business success in spite of adversity than those who will fail.

Mr. Speaker, the article about manufacturing in Newfoundland; I think - and we say on the mainland just in general but upalong, those people who - this recent article by Lorne Janes, the President of the Newfoundland Manufacturers Association, and it shows. People in Newfoundland just don't know the good news is really carried. Some people asked the hon. Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, I remember at a Budget Estimates Committee meeting two years ago, why was the minister publishing good news business stories in the local Robinson Blackmore papers? The reason was that you could not always get the information out in the media. Now CBC, with all due respect, recently have been carrying business briefs on Here and Now. It is given about five minutes a week. So we get good news five minutes a week and the rest of the week is the standard litany of information that will come at us with some good and some bad but maybe if they focused on it, even more than that - now we cannot tell them how to program - they have an idea that they want to go forward with.

VOCM I understand does a really good job on going forward with information about the good news that's out there and OZ FM does as well. I hear it every morning on my way in for work, the business briefs and some good news stories. We need more and more of that so that people out there can be inspired by their fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in what they can go out and do. The support mechanisms are there. They are not necessarily going to get a grant to do something because we have proven in the past that grants lead to, what I refer to as grantology, people who depend on grants then to keep going. Allow someone the benefit of some support mechanisms, the benefit of some business planning support, the benefit of assisting them with marketing their product and assisting them with taking their wares to trade shows.

These are the kinds of initiatives that this government has to continue with and through that kind of initiative, Mr. Speaker, maybe we can make a big dent in the problem out there where the displaced fishery worker is still going to be, in a lot of cases, without work when TAGS finishes up. When TAGS is over next year we are going to see half of the people that were employed in the fishery before the moratorium compared to what were employed after, then we are going to have to do a lot of activity to try to come up with the employment opportunities that will be necessary to see the Province through on into the Year 2000 and beyond.

So, Mr. Speaker, I fully support the hon. member's resolution. I think that it is very timely. It is there for each and every one of us in this House - despite the criticism that the Opposition offers for government policy - to each and every one of you, along with us, to work closely with the people in our districts, as the hon. Member for Baie Verte has done recently and see to it that some of the economic development initiatives, with the help and support of government, ministers and members here in the House, see the light of day and, Mr. Speaker, I would certainly ask the hon. members opposite to support this resolution. I think they will, in the long term, all be the better for it and we, as members - with the exception of the hon. member who is showing us - I think that is the PC platform. I understand that we have another one that is coming out in Saskatoon today, officially.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. RAMSAY: Anyway, Mr. Speaker, thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to add a few comments to the resolution as put forward by the Member for Port au Port. Mr. Speaker, it is a resolution I think that everybody in this House would have no problem supporting. I suppose it is the reason why we are here, I say to the Member for Port au Port, and there is nobody in this House any more cognizant of what is happening in rural Newfoundland and Labrador than the member who brought forward this motion. I am familiar with his district and I know that it is very similar to the district which I represent and districts, Mr. Speaker, that other members here represent in rural Newfoundland as well. Not many of us are experiencing prosperity today. I don't know if we realized how important the fishery was to our Province until it disappeared back in 1992.

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to see the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture stand here and talk about all the wonderful opportunities for fishing whelk, for harvesting sea kelp and sea cucumbers and the list goes on. Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that in order to get people to be excited and to get interested in going and trying to process those species, the minister is going to need to be able to go out and identify markets and bring forward the technology and help lead people through the process because if he does not, it is not going to happen. It is a wonderful thing to talk about, it is a wonderful thing to go out and say: it is your fault because there are opportunities here and there are opportunities somewhere else, but I can assure you, that if we are going to get into some of those kinds of production and processing, that the minister puts forward every time he speaks, then the minister will have to show some initiative to go a step further and make potential businessmen and business people and fish harvesters out there more aware of exactly what he is talking about. Show them where the profits are, show them where the markets are, show them what is involved and take them the extra step in order to get involved in some of those activities.

Mr. Speaker, I suppose if I have one problem with the effort being put forward by government in trying to identify potential businesses and potential industry for Newfoundland and Labrador, I suppose is the situation where I think it can be done by putting a few dollars forward to allow development corporations, what is the new name for it now, where we have the economic zones, what is the right name for it, madame minister?

AN HON. MEMBER: Regional Economic Development Boards.

MR. FITZGERALD: Regional Economic Development Boards, madam minister.

I say to the minister that it is not enough to take some of those boards and to take some of those economic development associations, as they were known, and put them in an office and give them a telephone and a fax machine. If we have good people there and if we have people that we believe in and we are putting them there for the right reasons, then we should take the extra step and provide them with a few dollars to be able to go a little bit beyond that to try to recognize and follow up on industries that we might identify that could come to a certain area and provide some economic stimulus.

I know down in my district right now, we have the Cabot Resources Committee and they are doing a very good job, they are doing a wonderful job, volunteers, a couple of paid members there that have funding there through some of the government programs, but they do not have enough money to be able to go out and search and do the things that they need to do in order to attract investors down there to create some employment activities. They do not have enough money and they do not have enough funding to do that.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is an IAS Committee?

MR. FITZGERALD: No, the IAS Committee is over and done with. You have cabot resources -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) spin off from this.

MR. FITZGERALD: It may be a spin off from the IAS Committee, yes that could be, but that is what has to happen and when you look at, and I do not want to pick on certain areas, but when you look at the positive thing that has happened down in Argentia and the Long Harbour area there and I understand there was a fair pot of money put in that region, in order to allow people to go forward and try to identify something that could be put down in that particular area of Newfoundland and Labrador, to take up the slack for when the base closed down.

There is no reason why we cannot take this block of funding now, because they have done very well, madam minister and there are other places hurting very, very badly. There is no reason why we cannot direct some of that funding over to places like Port Union and Catalina and the lower part of the Bonavista Peninsula, in order to try to do the same thing there. When you look at some of the positive stories and I think the member for Port au Port mentioned it, of what happened in Buchans and what happened in other areas, you will find that those people were also granted funding so they might be able to go and identify a source of employment or a source manufacturing activity and to be able to travel and try to relate or marry the two projects together, the place and the people who are interested in creating a new business activity there. But I can assure you that down in Port Union and Catalina, where this particular committee is functioning, that they do not have money for that. Every time I talk to them, that is the thing they put forward. I think, Madam Minister, that probably the co-ordinator of the Cabot Resources Committee might be talking with you very soon on that very same topic.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: They were supposed to do it today, I understood.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, and that is one of their problems; they don't have any money. If we are going to expect those people to function, and try to bring about some economic stimulus, we are going to have to be more open-minded, and we are going to have to be able to give them a chance to go and follow up on some activities and people who might be interested into moving into some of those places, because it doesn't always come by making a phone call or sending a fax.

Mr. Speaker, I suppose when we look at the way that some of the TAGS money was spent we can find all kinds of fault, and we can find all kinds of reasons as to how it was wasted, or where it should have been spent, but probably the biggest thing that could have been done with this particular funding, when we were expecting fishermen and fish plant workers to go back to work and become active in order to continue receiving their funding, we forgot what those people normally did.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: My crowd? Yes, they are pretty scarce. They were just as scarce over there a few minutes ago until the Government House Leader had to go and call them all in. I think the minister was speaking at the time, so that was certainly shameful.

MR. TULK: Boy, I will tell you something; you have nothing to be proud of. Your people don't listen to you either.

MR. FITZGERALD: No, it is getting pretty small. Hopefully more will come out for me if I decide to run again, I say to the member, or else I will be in bad shape.

AN HON. MEMBER: I doubt if he can understand what you are saying.

MR. FITZGERALD: He probably can. If he can, he might be the only one.

Madam Minister, those are some of the things that should be done. When you look at the funding that was put forward -


MR. FITZGERALD: Never far away.

MR. TULK: Harvey (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: There was only once Harvey was lost, I say to the Government House Leader, just once.

MR. TULK: That was when that vote came up.

MR. FITZGERALD: That was when a certain vote came up.

Mr. Speaker, getting back to the TAGS program and the funding that was involved for allowing people to go to work and purchase material and equipment hire, and that sort of thing, one of the things that we didn't do and we should have done, I think, was build on the strengths that we had right in our own communities, and improve the infrastructure that was there.

You go into some of our fish plants, that we are now going out and trying to get other people to be interested in, whether it is to process fish or some other resource, no matter what it is, some of the buildings have been allowed to deteriorate to such an extent that it would cost fantastic sums of money in order to put it back in a suitable condition where people might be interested in doing other things, and there is no need of that.

The people down in Port Union, down in my district, realize that. They went to Mr. Young at FPI and said: We are willing to go back to work in our fish plant. We are willing to go back to work for the amount of money that we are receiving now, and go in and clean up the plant, fix the lights, fix the walls, repair the cement floors, whatever it takes, so that when we have somebody coming here to look at it, Mr. Young, if you are not interested, maybe they will see something that will catch their eye and they will be very interested in coming and taking over this particular facility because it will be in good shape. They won't have to spend thousands of dollars on labour costs to get it put back to where it might be considered as a processing facility again.

They were not allowed to do it because the workers compensation wouldn't cover them if they got hurt. If they went there and fell, or got injured doing something, then they wouldn't be covered. So, naturally, they wouldn't take a chance on doing that.

Those are some of the things that could have been done, and the people who know what is best for their communities are the very people who work and live in those communities. Those are the people who should be involved, and those are the people that the minister - I know, I was with the minister when she signed the terms in Clarenville back some time last summer for Area 15. The minister touched on all those things, about getting local people involved, and those were the experts in the communities, and those were the people who knew it best, which is 100 per cent right. Those are the people who know their communities, know what can function there. They know their strengths, they know their weaknesses, and we shouldn't sidestep them.

AN HON. MEMBER: Same as the school boards.

MR. FITZGERALD: Same as the school boards. Yes, you are 100 per cent right. But what you have done is criminal to the school boards, I say to the minister. Any minister who would bring about such hardship on the students and the young people of Newfoundland and Labrador, then pick up his golf clubs, Mr. Speaker, and go off to the sunny south and leave the school boards, leave the volunteers, to deal with the fall-out and to deal with the problem, that is inexcusable.

I can guarantee you that the present Minister of Justice would never do that. I can guarantee you that he would take his knocks along the way. When he put forward a proposal and when he brought forward a resolution or a piece of legislation, he was always there to stand up for what he believed in. He never shunned his responsibility by sloughing it off on the shoulders of volunteers, which is being done out there today.

Rural Newfoundland and Labrador today has been devastated. People, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, they were part of it as well, I say to the member. But I don't see how you can fault somebody for trying to create a few jobs. You remind me of a meeting I had with Mr. Bill Wells one time when he was with FPI. He mentioned a certain plant in my district and he said the fellow who built that plant should be tarred and feathered. I said to him: The fellow who should be tarred and feathered is probably the fellow who closed it, not the fellow who built it. If you can go out and show somebody, I say to the minister, a plant that can provide work for 300 people for twenty years, and you are saying it shouldn't be built because in twenty years' time there may be no fishery, then I know who should be tarred and feathered. I suggest to the minister that there is a lot of places and there is a lot of money being spent today to put up buildings and to get involved in economic activity that will not last twenty years, and that will not provide 300 jobs.

Even though some of those fish plants today that we allowed to have built, that we allowed to exist in our communities, may not be a good idea today, but twenty years ago it certainly did make good reasoning, and it certainly made sense to put them there and employ people.

It seems like people, at least in most places of rural Newfoundland and Labrador, have gone the full circle as it relates to identifying something to take the place or the part of the fishing industry in their communities. It has gone full circle. When the moratorium brought the fishery to an end back in 1992 a lot of people pointed fingers and started placing blame. Blame this one, blame that one. Everybody was accused, I suppose, of playing a part in the fishery except ourselves that should be blamed.

Then they went through a stage whereby instead of placing blame they looked at ways to solve their problems. Try to find a new industry, try to find a new operator for their plant. Wait for a little while, maybe something might happen. Now with the end of the program that provided their funding for them for the past five years coming very close to the end, it has got back to finger pointing again, it has got back to protests, it has got back to people speaking out, writing letters to their local papers. Because they feel that we as elected people are not doing enough to support them, not doing enough to attract industry into their communities and provide economic stimulus.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: We certainly don't have -

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, in closing I commend the member for bringing forward this particular resolution. It is a motherhood issue, as somebody has said. You will not find anybody on either side of this House who will not work with government or with a minister or with somebody in Opposition - it has been proven, it will be proven again, that we can work together for the common good of the people out there who elected us, and the people out there who make up rural Newfoundland and Labrador today.

Thank you.

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

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all of the hon. members who have participated in the debate on this resolution this afternoon. Obviously everyone is well aware of the situation that exists and certainly the thing that has come through in all of the speeches this afternoon is the sincerity on the part of all the hon. members in terms of their desire to seriously address and redress the problems that confront us presently in rural Newfoundland. Mr. Speaker, over the last number of years, as we have heard repeatedly this afternoon in the various presentations that have been made, there have indeed been some significant efforts, there have been some significant accomplishments and there certainly has been movement, which in my opinion is taking us along the road towards recovery in the rural areas of the Province.

A short time ago a document was prepared, a strategic economic plan for Newfoundland and Labrador and I was pleased to have been part of the process in which this plan was developed, after an extensive consultation throughout the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I served on the advisory council on the economy, which was the body responsible for developing this document and often I think back to some of the discussions that were held around the table. In particular, I think of people like the late Cam Eaton and Mr. Earl Lundrigan, two very well known and well respected Newfoundlanders. I think back to their vision of Newfoundland generally and their thoughts as to what needed to happen in this Province in order to make all of the regions of the Province viable and very much of what they believed and very much of what they promoted, I am proud to say, is reflected in this particular document which now forms the blueprint for economic recovery in Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Speaker, growing from this and other initiatives, there are things that have happened in this Province which I feel are at the present time and certainly will in the future, make a significant contribution towards improving the situation in rural Newfoundland.

Some of the things I think are worthy of note. One of the things I recall that we tried to address in our own area of the Province was a move towards developing and encouraging the entrepreneurship spirit. Right now, in most of the schools of the Province, we do have offered as part of the curriculum courses in entrepreneurship because one of the things that I found myself over the years being involved in trying to promote economic development that we did have in the rural areas in particular of the Province, a shortage of people with a true entrepreneurship spirit and one of the things as I thought back on my own school experience. I graduated from a school system where my understanding was, once I left school was to go out and look for a job. I never left school thinking that it was possible that I could go out and create a job. I had not come from a business background, my family was not involved in business so I did not have that kind of exposure but now, through the school system and efforts and encouraged with the encouragement of government, more and more of our students and more and more at the college and university level, people are being directed towards entrepreneurship, with the view that we need people in our areas who go out, who do have ideas and have the courage to go about trying to bring these ideas to fruition.

Mr. Speaker, we have heard mentioned here today by a number of speakers as well about the need to create, for government to create within the bureaucracy in particular, a climate which allows things to happen and I think all of us through our various capacities over the years, have had the experiences of meeting with bureaucrats who see as their primary objective to identify for you the 100 reasons why an ideal would not work instead of taking a positive approach, looking for the positive merits in a proposal and trying to work with that but instead, looking at the negative, finding the reasons why it will not work. I think we have come some distance in that particular area but I would be the first to agree that we still have a long way to go and is something that we do have to work on.

We heard references as well to the Regional Economic Development Boards and the new economic zones that have been created in this Province and I think there is no question that all of the key players in this Province at the present time have bought in to this new approach to economic development. However, one of the things that I would caution and remind all of us of, is that one of the key players in economic development in this Province for the last thirty years has been the Rural Development Associations. I think we must never lose sight of the fact that these groups of volunteers have made tremendous contributions over the years. As we speak today there is a genuine fear throughout the Province that in some circles the perception is that they have done their thing, they have served their time, that there is no longer a role for them to play. Personally, Mr. Speaker, I feel that this is a mistake and we must ensure that they remain as part of this overall approach. For if we do not, once the regional economic development boards have completed their strategic economic plans, I am much afraid that what is going to happen is, they are going to find themselves sitting around the table when it comes to time for implementation and they are going to suddenly discover that one of the key players they have been depending on for the implementation of these plans is going to be absent from the table. I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that we must take steps now to ensure that the rural development associations do continue to exist, for indeed, there is still a very important role for them to play in economic development in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, just for a few moments on my own experience in the Port au Port area and the sorts of things we have been working on there. I guess, my involvement, in particular with Picadilly Plastics, I guess one of the first initiatives that we were involved in, of significance, was in the area of aquaculture, working in the area of scallop aquaculture in particular, but more importantly in recent years, the Picadilly Plastics. Mr. Speaker, when we talked about and promoted the idea of light manufacturing in an area like Picadilly, the kinds of arguments that we were being given, that it would never work, the area was too remote, we were too remote from the market place - all of these things we were hearing, we were hearing them from government officials and we were hearing them from the business community, generally. However, Mr. Speaker we have demonstrated that it can work and indeed, I think by demonstrating that it can work in Picadilly, we have also demonstrated that it can work in other areas of the Province. Why can it work?

Well, Mr. Speaker, look at the strengths that are there - some people would consider them weaknesses. We were being told that one of the difficulties that we would have - we argued we had an available work force. Yes, but we were told, but they are not a trained work force, they are not a skilled work force. Well, Mr. Speaker, in a lot of cases, they may not be an educated work force, but anyone who wants to come to my district and try to tell the fellow who can go out by the side of the road in the middle of the winter and do a motor job on his car, that he is not skilled, then I certainly would like to know what they would consider to be a skilled individual. And that type of thing is typical of a lot of the workers in the rural areas of the Province. Most people have the skills that they can go out and build their own homes, do everything related to it. They can virtually maintain their own cars and keep them going. These are the kinds of skills that we have. Our people are indeed very skilled, that workforce does exist.

Mr. Speaker, also we do have available infrastructure. We have many buildings, in particular buildings that have been involved in the fishery over the years. These buildings can be made available to be used as sites for manufacturing. I would contend we also have as an advantage a strategic location being, as we are, an island in the North Atlantic. In today's world, with the modern transportation and communication, there is no such thing as being remote anymore. We can certainly be in contact at a moment's notice with any centre anywhere in this world.

The values of the rural way of life certainly run deep. I am sure, all of us in this hon. House have relatives living who have left this Province at one time or another and are now living on the mainland. One of the things that you will be convinced of in talking to these people is that if the opportunity were there tomorrow, invariably most of these people would avail of it and would want to return. Because there is something about the rural way of life, there is something about the value system that is there, and the roots run so deep, that people just do not want to want to leave.

Mr. Speaker, from my own experience, it always strikes me that I remember - I mentioned earlier today the experience of my own parents. My mother died just a couple of years ago, aged ninety-six. She had lived for about sixty years on the West Coast of the Province, and up until the time that she died, she still talked about the little community in Fortune Bay as being down home. That, to me, really speaks volumes of how deep our roots lie and how deep our roots run. You just cannot take people out of these areas, transplant them or transport them somewhere else, and think they are going to be contented there.

If I could, I would like to quote from our Strategic Economic Plan:

This document is a call to action. Government has given its commitment and will implement the programs and initiatives as they have been outlined in this plan. But, ultimately, the success of this plan will depend on the willingness of us all to come together and make it work. Only this spirit of co-operation and energetic participation will enable the Province to rid itself of its overdependence on government transfers and social programs and reaffirm the pride, accomplishments and independence of our people.

Mr. Speaker, will it be easy? Obviously, no. Are we up to the challenge? I like to think we are. The one thing I am certain of is that I will certainly be out there doing my part to ensure that rural Newfoundland has a bright future and that the legacy which has been the birthright as a person born in rural Newfoundland - has been my birthright - will continue to grow and prosper to the advantage of future generations of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: All those in favour of the resolution, `aye'.


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

I declare the resolution carried.

It being Wednesday afternoon, and there being no further business, I declare the House adjourned until tomorrow, Thursday, at 2:00 p.m.