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Premier Dunderdale speaks on Budget, May 29

May 29, 2012

Premier Kathy Dunderdale spoke for a second time on the 2012 Budget in the House of Assembly on Tuesday. Her speech is recorded in Hansard here.

View the video online here. Her remarks begin at about 00:13:20.

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PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, delighted to once again have an opportunity to speak to this Budget, and particularly delighted to be able to follow my colleague, the MHA for Burgeo – La Poile, in terms of some of the remarks that he has made this evening. He decries the fact that he has had to hear a lot about what we had to deal with in 2003. I am going to break the sad news to him: he is going to have to listen to a little bit more of it tonight now, Mr. Speaker.

Just imagine, Mr. Speaker, when we came in 2003 and owed $12 billion worth of debt. We have a member who is a member of the party that formed the government for fourteen years before that, Mr. Speaker, doubled our debt – spent all the revenue that they earned during that time, that fourteen years, and doubled the debt.

Mr. Speaker, it was not an issue of whether or not they had money to spend, because they spent money, Sir, like it was going out of style. It is what they chose to spend it on. For somebody who knows that history to stand up in the House and in the same breath criticize us for our ferry strategy, when they brought in the Hull 100 – $100 million, and we never got a ferry out of it, first nor last; we could have had ten ferries for what they spent on that one rust bucket, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I had a former colleague in this House – because some of us have been around since 2003; there is a fair bit of political and corporate history on this side of the House. I had a colleague here who has gone off to retirement now who sometimes referred to the members of the Opposition as having faces like robbers’ horses. A horse, Mr. Speaker, does not know if he is taking somebody for an afternoon stroll or if he is robbing the stagecoach. His expression is the same. That is what the faces of the Opposition sometimes look like: the face of a robber’s horse. You would never tell they had a major role to play in the state we found this place in, in 2003, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, when we campaigned to become the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, we knew we were not in great straits. We knew fiscally there was a lot wrong with this Province, but we had no idea that it was as bad as it was. We certainly had a clear idea from the proposals that had been brought forward – particularly the proposal for the development of Voisey’s Bay and the near giveaway of the Lower Churchill – that we had better do something and that we had better get a hold of what was going on in this Province, or really, our future was in jeopardy. We gave away substantially more than we ought to have in the Voisey’s Bay deal, Mr. Speaker, and we were going to give it all away once again on the Lower Churchill.

Now, Mr. Speaker, members of the Official Opposition scream and dance every day about Muskrat Falls, saying 40 per cent of the power for Labrador to be called back to Labrador, particularly for mineral development, is not enough, when the Grimes deal was giving every kilowatt – never mind megawatt, every kilowatt – to Quebec so they would have full control of the destiny of Labrador. Mr. Speaker, we talk about Muskrat Falls and the development of Muskrat Falls. They talk about legacy. That would have been a legacy.

Are you going to suggest –

MR. JOYCE: (Inaudible).

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: I say to the Member for Bay of Islands: I have the documentation that shows all of the power was going to Quebec, Mr. Speaker. Does he have something that he can produce to counter it?

The answer to it is no, Mr. Speaker. They never produced a piece of paper to counteract what we have said was contained in that proposed contract. We talk about the development of Muskrat Falls in the same way that we talk about every other development in this place. We talk about developing our natural resources to the benefit of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Speaker, that has been the mandate of this government since 2003.

When we came in 2003, we had about twenty-three cents left on every dollar, once we did health and education and did our debt servicing, that we could run every other department on, Mr. Speaker. It was shameful. I remember coming out of a Cabinet room, in that first Budget, and we had been in there in a marathon session for about two days, and I was walking out on my own and my shoulders were slumped over and I remember feeling a hand on my shoulder. It was the Premier of the day and he said to me: This is not what you put your hand up for, is it? This is not what you thought you were coming to. I said: No, it is not, and I am overwhelmed by it because not only is it bad, but we are facing bankruptcy. I do not know how we are going to redeem ourselves here. I do not know how we are going to get through it.

He said to me: Carve it off. Understand what the situation is, but we are here. We are here. We took this responsibility on, on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We said that we would be good stewards. We said that we would be a principally-oriented government. We said that we would always remember who hired us, and why.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: It would be absolutely wonderful if we came in here now and we could spend, spend, spend, and give the people of Newfoundland and Labrador not only what they wanted, Mr. Speaker, but what they deserve, what they deserve to have.

Could we do it? No, we could not, because it would not have been the responsible thing to do, Mr. Speaker. When we came, we came, as I said, with principles. We worked with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador while we were in Opposition and with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador we created a vision, a vision that we crafted together about who we were as a people and where we wanted to go and where we saw this place twenty-five or thirty years from now and how we were going to get there.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, we told the people of the Province the principles that would guide us in that vision, and how we would develop strategies that were not politically expedient. We had a long history of political expediency and it had not served us well. In fact, in those early days, Mr. Speaker, we felt we had probably sold the birthright of our children. We had burdened generations with debt because of irresponsibility and political expedience, Mr. Speaker.

We promised the people of this Province that we would go at this in a principled way. Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you in my nine years of experience in this House of Assembly, that every time we stray off principle even a little bit we get in trouble, we get in rough water. Mr. Speaker, that is a good experience to have, because when you lay out a principled approach, you do not go out every day taking polls. You tell people who you are, you tell people what you stand for, you tell them how you are going to get to the place they expect you to get to, Mr. Speaker. Then you put your head down and you get to work.

That was not very easy in 2003 and 2004, Mr. Speaker. The first couple of sessions that we came into this House of Assembly – the first two or three sittings of this House of Assembly, we came in under police escort, Mr. Speaker. We had people in the galleries cursing, swearing, shouting, spitting, and throwing bubble gum and jelly beans because nobody would accept or could believe that we were in the state we were in. Mr. Speaker, to do the politically expedient thing and to continue to spend and spend and spend would have curried us favour in the day, but would have secured the failure of this place and future generations in my view.

Mr. Speaker, we had to carve it off a piece at a time. We had to find a way forward. We had to negotiate with investors who were coming into this Province and say we want you here, we absolutely want your investment in this place, but there are principles that have to be followed. The resource that you want to invest in, to develop and explore for your good, also has to be to the good of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador because they are the owners of that resource. There has to be value other than the labour that they are going to get paid for as they help you make millions and millions and millions of dollars. We want you to make millions of dollars. We want our people to have good pay, work and security, but we also need to lay away a reward in the Treasury of this Province so that we can pay down debt, so that we can build infrastructure, so we can enhance health care and education. There is a balance between what you can expect in terms of your return and what the people of the Province can expect as a return for their resources, and, Mr. Speaker, up she went. I am telling you, Mr. Speaker, it broke loose everywhere. How dare we? We did not know what we were talking about; we should take the jobs and run.

How many admonitions did we get on a daily basis from across the floor? The Member for Bay of Islands was there and he was expert at it.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to tell you, the old Newfoundland expression that some people have tongues like the fire bells of hell – the fire bell in hell never stops ringing. I guess if you have a tongue like the fire bell of hell, it never stops talking.

Well, Mr. Speaker, we endured that from across the way day after day after day. Mr. Speaker, the Premier of the day was insulted every which way. He was given every kind of an epithet because he had the unmitigated gall to stand up to whomever, including members of the Opposition, and say: no more, no more, no more. Not after 500 years, we do not do it any more. When we develop resources in this place from now on, the people of the Province get a fair return on what they own.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: We heard cries: You are ruining the economy. You are ruining the economy. People will never come here again. They will never invest here again. You are ruining the offshore, the only bright spot we have. Well, you are going to have to go.

We had another solid base of people, because I have said it time and time again and I swear, Mr. Speaker, it is true. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador are the most politically astute people in this country. There is nobody who understands politics any better than we do, Mr. Speaker. They live it every day. They talk it every day. They listen to it on the radio nine hours a day. They talk it on the stage head. They talk it in the supermarket. People understand politics. I am telling you, when somebody is bluffing or fooling, they can sniff it out pretty fast. They knew that this government was taking a principled approach. They knew it was the right thing to do, and they were going to support it because they believed it was the right thing to do. They had finally arrived at a place in our development where they were saying: Enough is enough.

Everybody knew we had gotten to a place where we only had so many opportunities left to make good on what was available, the God-given gifts that were in this Province that have been treated so badly for 500 years. That treasure was getting smaller, and smaller, and smaller. If we did not do better with it than we had been doing, then there was no way forward. We would be without hope.

Having helped craft the vision, Mr. Speaker, they supported the vision. They saw the wisdom in the strategies that were brought forward by this government. We did exactly what the Premier said to me that day on the way out from the Cabinet room. We will carve it off, understand the big picture, but carve it off piece by piece. We will find a way forward, and we will take that principled approach.

Mr. Speaker, it is only a small, small thing, and people get sick and tired of hearing about it, but a discussion of $3.5 million of what I would call disposal income, is how we refer to it in our household; we had $3.5 million out of a very small pool of money that we could use for economic development in this Province. There was a big debate on what we were going to do with that $3.5 million. That is a lot of money even now, Mr. Speaker. That was an enormous amount of money in 2003.

Mr. Speaker, the owner of the Arnold’s Cove plant was leaving Newfoundland and Labrador. He was prepared to make a deal with the former manager of the plant that he could purchase the plant and take over the plant and the equipment. He was doing very, very fair terms. The new owner of the plant was going to invest just about everything he had; he was taking a lot of risk. This was a man who could have walked off to his retirement and never looked back and had a comfortable life for the rest of it.

He believed in his community, he believed in the business venture, and he was prepared to put a very large stake so that plant could continue. He did not have enough to buy the quotas and the company was going to sell the quota.

We bought the quota for $3.5 million so that fish would not leave Newfoundland and Labrador and would be here for our benefit, and primarily for the benefit of the people in Arnold’s Cove – in Arnold’s Cove, Mr. Speaker, in the District of Bellevue, represented by a Liberal MHA who sat over there castigating us every day and encouraging people to give us a hard time, who never wrote a letter, never made a phone call, never asked a question in this House on behalf of his constituents, and never lifted a finger to help the people of Arnold’s Cove. Without any kind of support from the Opposition or any kind of support from their MHA, this government made a decision to take $3.5 million off, a very small amount of money.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: It is very true – very true, Mr. Speaker, because I was the minister who dealt with it. We never heard from the Member for Bay of Islands either, Mr. Speaker. We never heard from a soul on the other side. This government made the investment because it was the right thing to do.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: That is what happens when you take a principled approach. In a democracy, people have the right to say: Yes, I will vote for you, or: No, I will not. You sit on this side of the House in a very privileged position because the majority of the people of the Province say: Yes, we are going to vote for you, we have confidence in you, we support the vision you have, and we give you the authority to govern on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is how you get on this side of the House. That is how you get the authority to make decisions. That is how you get to be in a Cabinet. That is how you get to be on Cabinet committees: by having the support of the majority and confidence of the majority of the people in this Province, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that make you worthy of sitting in this chair or any chair on this side of the House is that you treat everybody in this Province fairly. This is a democratic Province. People have the right to say yea or nay, Mr. Speaker, and they have the right to have their needs met, to be treated fairly, the same as everybody else in the Province, regardless if they voted for you or not. One of the proudest things I am of this government is that we have never differentiated between who voted for us and who did not.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, despite the police escorts, despite the admonitions, the Atlantic Accord was a perfect example, when the former Premier was negotiating the offsets.

We will hear the Member for Bay of Islands shout here in a minute now, Mr. Speaker: That is not true, that is not true. Well, anybody who is wondering what is true or not, I refer them to Hansard, when they stood in this House every day and said: You are asking for too much. Take what they are offering you. Mr. Efford, a former member of their caucus, came and told the Premier, on national TV: Take it or leave it. We said: We think we will leave it, thank you very much.

We were supported by the people of this Province, Mr. Speaker, because it is about principle. It is about understanding what we have a right to in this Province, what we have a right to demand of people who are coming here to invest, to exploit our natural resources. We welcome them, Mr. Speaker, and we want them to make money here. We want them to get a good return on their investment, but they have to serve the people of this Province well, and because we took that position.

When people got sick and tired of calling names and calling their friends to put political pressure on us, jabbering away twenty-four hours a day for weeks and months and everything else; when they knew that we were bound by our principles, Mr. Speaker, they came back to the table. They came back to the table and we negotiated the best royalty agreements and the best benefits for people working in mining industries, and oil and gas, that have ever been negotiated – not only here, but anywhere else in the world, Mr. Speaker.

They are taking the templates from the negotiations we did on projects like Hebron and applying them around the world, Mr. Speaker, best practices. Gender and diversity agreements, to benefits agreements with oil companies – not only the first time that it ever happened here in the Province, Mr. Speaker, or in the country, the first time it happened anywhere in the world.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Like so many other things in this Province in the last nine years, Mr. Speaker, we are leading the way. We are leading the way in the country in cardiac care, in the amount of health care we provide to the people of our Province, our investments in infrastructure in the Province – imagine, Mr. Speaker, in a world where the bottom was falling out of the economy, our economic stats were growing day by day by day in terms of investment, in GDP growth, in the number of people we have working.

We developed a Poverty Reduction Strategy, Mr. Speaker, that is the talk of the country; people coming and saying: We appreciate so much what you do and how you are doing it, and the respectful and inclusive way in which you are doing it. There but for the grace of God, Mr. Speaker, go every one of us. That is how you have – people are not in these particular circumstances because they choose to be. They are there –

MR. JOYCE: (Inaudible).

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: There is no such thing in my experience, Mr. Speaker. The Member for the Bay of Islands wants to help me with my speech, but he is going to have to start giving me some good pointers, Mr. Speaker. What he is throwing across the floor does not work. People in this Province are blessed to live in this wonderful place. We are bonded to this place in a way that sometimes is hard for us to articulate, Mr. Speaker.

I did an interview this morning. I was asked in this interview: What is it about Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that bonds us to this place in this particular way? It is hard to be able to explain to somebody what that is, other than: it is home.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: It is where we know who we are, we know from whence we have come. We think it is the most beautiful place on the face of the earth. We love our music, our culture. We have enormous respect for each other and our values and the principles that bind us as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians as a Province, in community, and how we deal with adversity. Adversity is not new, Mr. Speaker. We have had to deal with adversity from the very first day we came here. We had to claw and scrape to survive in this place.

Mr. Speaker, I have said in this House before that one of my favourite books in the whole world is Random Passage. Anybody who has not read Random Passage really ought to do it, because it talks about what people had to do to put down roots in this place. That is our history. That is the stock that we come from. That is the culture that grew out of those people who came in those early days and loved this place.

What brought us to this place? The search for a better life – we certainly did not come for the weather. Sometimes in the fall of the year when it is snowy, sleety, cold, and wet, Mr. Speaker, I have often thought to myself: My goodness, how bad must it have been where they came from that they came here and it was a better place? They had nothing – they had nothing – but they built something. They clawed, they struggled, and there was a significant force working against them from the very first day.

The people who came, settled in this place, and put down roots in this place had not only to face the challenges of less than 3 per cent arable land, of trying to stay warm, catch fish, toil, earn a living, keep their families, feed themselves, and everything else, with little or nothing to work with, Mr. Speaker; they had forces – business forces – working against them from the very first day, plus poor health and everything else. Look at what they crafted in this beautiful place – this breathtaking, beautiful place we have, Mr. Speaker.

We get one step forward and two steps back, one step forward and two steps back. That has been our history. It finally came to a place where we said: This has to stop. Stop it has, Mr. Speaker. That is what we came to in 2003, and we have been mocked on a daily basis because we would be announcing a Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Now, a Poverty Reduction Strategy is about $150 million a year directed annually to very specific initiatives around poverty reduction. There are lots of people who like to talk about it and say: Oh, you are only putting $150 million into poverty reduction. Not at all – what does anybody think that gender and diversity clauses in benefits agreements are about? It is about people who are marginalized and shut out from economic engines and knocking down barriers so they can be included, so they can get educated, so they can get certified, and so they can have opportunity for decent wages and to be able to build a life for themselves and their families. Poverty reduction is one part of helping them get there, but the gender and diversity requirements are another significant piece of it.

Good health care is a significant piece of poverty reduction. Good education for our children, early childhood learning, and having an opportunity to access day care – all of those things. Do we have it all perfect? Do we have it all right? Not by half, Mr. Speaker; we still have a distance to go. Look where we were in 2003, when you would shiver when you would think about your children ever being able to have the opportunity to set roots down in this place and have a future in this place, and not believing that it was possible. That is where we were in 2003. Look where we are today, and look what it is we are about here tonight, Mr. Speaker.

We have reduced our debt by $4 billion. As I have said many times, Mr. Speaker, there are not nations in this world that could make that boast, let alone a Province in Canada – $4 billion; over $8 billion, Mr. Speaker, in infrastructure.

MR. JOYCE: (Inaudible).

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: We hear the Member for the Bay of Islands chirping over there again. Mr. Speaker, and chirp he should, because there has been a significant part of that $8 billion spent in Corner Brook in the Bay of Islands.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: A lot to chirp about, Mr. Speaker. He will have a hospital to chirp about too before it is all said and done.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the Bay of Islands on a point of order.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for the Bay of Islands, on a point of order.

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I heard the Premier say we are going to have a hospital in Corner Brook, the same as the Member for Humber East and the Minister of Health. When are we going to have the hospital?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Member for the Bay of Islands for his point of order. Speaking for an hour is a long time, so I enjoyed the little recess and the amusement, Mr. Speaker. The Member for the Bay of Islands is always good for a laugh, I must say.

Here we are today with this wonderful, wonderful Budget. It is a wonderful Budget, Mr. Speaker. We have enhanced health care in this Province; we have enhanced education in this Province. We have built infrastructure, $8 billion: roads, ferries, schools, hospitals, bridges –

AN HON. MEMBER: Long-term care.

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Long-term care, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: We have invested in daycares, Mr. Speaker. We have invested in the children of our Province. We have invested in seniors. We have made sure as we have moved forward that we were able to include everybody.

Mr. Speaker, we still have work to do; absolutely, we have work to do, but we have to do it in a measured way, in the same measured way that we have approached the last eight years. We have to be fiscally responsible, Mr. Speaker, and we are fiscally responsible. We have to examine every dollar we spend and make sure we are getting the right value for it. The Member for Burgeo – La Poile just acknowledged, he said: I know we are spending lots of money, but are we getting value for the money – thus the exercise that Eastern Health launched today, Mr. Speaker. It is not enough for governments or organizations that are funded by government to spend, spend, and spend. They also have to do the analysis: are we getting value for the money we are spending.

Good governance – whether you are in a health care board, you are in government, or you are in education – requires you have that due diligence and oversight all the time. That is what the people of the Province put us in these positions to do, Mr. Speaker.

All we hear from across the way is spend, spend, spend, and spend. Mr. Speaker, days can be long in the House of Assembly. Mr. Speaker, we are coming into this session of the House, and some of the issues around the House of Assembly have been really interesting over the last couple of months. On October 12, people started to scramble for the House of Assembly to be open. What a racket they kicked up.

We kept trying to tell them: We are not ready to go into the House yet. There is a preparation that is required when you go into the House of Assembly. You have to have a Speech from the Throne, you have to have a Budget ready, you have to have legislation ready. You do not do legislation off the corner of a desk, Mr. Speaker. It is important; when you are making rules that are going to impact on the lives of people you need to be careful of what you are doing. You need to do it in a comprehensive way, you need to do consultation, you need to test the theories and formulas and so on that you are putting forward to make sure that you are doing a good job. Despite the criticism, you could not be veered off that course; it would have been irresponsible for us to do anything else.

Mr. Speaker, one would assume that the people who were screaming and screeching and bawling to get in here would have been preparing as well. I would say we have had about ten to fifteen questions that were all asked in the last sitting of the House – recycled, recycled, recycled; every day, every day, every day the same questions. You would think that somebody would have developed a suite of questions, that there were more things going on in this Province that people would be interested in hearing, that were of interest to the people of the Province, that there were more things going on in this Province – or a different approach to the question, Mr. Speaker, a different perspective to the question, a different way of stating the question so that you will get the information that apparently was not satisfactory the day before; not even a new phrasing of the question – the same question.

Mr. Speaker, even when they sent the questions over to us by mistake, they could not change the questions. They stood up and asked the same questions, Mr. Speaker – mind blowing. Scrambling over with the rules of order for the House of Assembly; you see colleagues day after day reading the Rules of Order, trying to learn the Rules of Order for conduct in this House of Assembly. What were you doing from October to March, Mr. Speaker? You were on Open Line every day, you were in the newspapers every day, saying you were ready for the House of Assembly to be open and that there was not other work for you to do – which was shocking to us, anyway, as MHAs.

MHAs are fully engaged every day in the affairs of their district, representing their constituents. It is a very, very busy job. Some of our MHAs have to deal with hundreds of calls in the run of a day or the run of a week, certainly – tens upon tens of calls every day. Ministers certainly understand it is a busy time. There are big departments that have to be run. When you come into the House of Assembly, your workday doubles, in fact.

Mr. Speaker, friends opposite, some of our colleagues opposite did not have anything to do. Well, they did not make any time to do anything, either. They did not make any time to get ready to come in here. They did not craft anything beyond their ten or fifteen questions, and they never even bothered to learn the rules.

Mr. Speaker, here we are now, though. We spent our time getting ready. We had a good Speech from the Throne. We have a wonderful Budget that has been lauded by people from one end of this Province to the other, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: We prepared our legislation, Mr. Speaker. We took the necessary time to put it through its Cabinet committees and made sure it was good legislation. By the time we leave here, we will have had the longest sitting of the Legislature probably in the history of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Why is that? That is because we do our work over on this side, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: That is because, Mr. Speaker, the commitment we made to the people of this Province to remember who hired us and why, to be responsible and not politically expedient, is why we have good legislation, a great Budget, and a long and substantive sitting of the House of Assembly, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, days can be long here. We sit and we listen to what the people across the way have to say. Some of my colleagues in jest have put together a rather large calculator, Mr. Speaker, because a rather large calculator is required to keep track of the spend, spend, and spend that is exhorted on a daily basis by members of the Opposition. Mr. Speaker, you can hear: What is a couple of hundred million dollars more debt? It is amazing to me.

The Third Party in their orange book, I suppose they would call it, in their election platform, Mr. Speaker, they were going to cut 1 per cent across the board; frontline staff, everybody was getting it. That was about $80 million. They have yet to stand up in this House and tell us what they were going to cut, going out of their minds because we did a review and found $38 million.

They said in their election platform that they were going to find $80 million, Mr. Speaker, and they have not talked about yet where they were going to do their cuts. Amazing, Mr. Speaker – the amount of talking that goes on in this place is amazing.

Mr. Speaker, while we have reduced our debt by $4 billion, let me tell you, Sir, it would not take long to crank her up again. That is exactly what the people opposite want us to do. There is fearfulness for me in that, Mr. Speaker, because we are not out of the rough water yet. There is a big whirlpool behind us and right now there is still over $7 billion of debt swirling away, swirling around in that whirlpool that could drag us back. We are steaming away from it; we are $4 billion away from it now.

I am telling you if we were to slip back by doing what we are admonished to do on a daily basis by members opposite, we will be sucked back into that whirlpool of debt once again very, very quickly. What is the price of that, Mr. Speaker? The price will not be paid by us, Mr. Speaker. These are the people who want, want, want for their districts and for people today. Who pays the price for that, Mr. Speaker? Our children and our grandchildren pay the price for that. We have it today and our children pay for it tomorrow – not while we are here, Mr. Speaker, not while we are here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, the MHA for Burgeo – La Poile had some words to say about Muskrat tonight. Nobody is made into a villain because they speak out against Muskrat Falls. People on a daily basis say what they want about Muskrat Falls, say what they want about the government, say what they want about the former Premier, and assign motives to all of us. They do not assign motives about us wanting to do what is best for Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker. They assign motives about legacy. How is creating another debacle like the Upper Churchill a legacy? Why would anybody want that legacy? We welcome debate.

Mr. Speaker, there has never been a project developed in this Province that has had the scrutiny of Muskrat Falls, never, ever before in our history. Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, the former Liberal Administration did a number on all of them. Especially hydro projects, Mr. Speaker, exempted them all from the PUB.

Mr. Speaker, it is the same old do as I say, not as I do syndrome. Mr. Speaker, we encourage people to ask questions. We encourage people to critique the project. The one thing we have said in all that we have heard, where are the facts, Mr. Speaker? If you are going to set yourself up as an expert on hydro development, put your name on it so we get to weigh the value of what it is you have to say. Because what Ed Martin has to say about hydro development has a greater weight than what I am going to say about it; certainly what JM has to say about it, whoever JM is, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, people need to understand who is critiquing because they have to give weight to the opinion. What is their knowledge of it? What is their experience of it, Mr. Speaker? Because that is going to measure how much value you are going to give to their opinion. To others we say, Mr. Speaker, show us where the gaps in the analysis are. You do not have to argue with me. I am not putting myself as any great expert on natural gas but I am going to point you to expert, expert, expert who has given this opinion, this opinion, this opinion and if you do not agree with it, tell us what your expertise is to counter the argument or give us your expert who has something different to say. Nobody has responded, Mr. Speaker. Not a soul, Mr. Speaker. MHI, PUB’s own expert, and we acknowledge their expertise, Mr. Speaker. They say that this is the best, low-cost alternative for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, the lowest-cost electricity for ratepayers in this Province is what we want. It is what we are working for. That has to always be a major consideration in what we are doing in terms of the development of Muskrat Falls. Mr. Speaker, make no mistake about it, there are greater principles at work here, too; far greater principles. That vision that we have plays a major role in where those principles come from, Mr. Speaker.

Last year – or the year before last now I guess, time passes quickly – there was a great debate in this country when Hydro-Québec was going to take over the energy generation in New Brunswick. It was almost a fait accompli but the people of New Brunswick rose up and said: No, we need to talk about this. We need to talk about this because this is very important. It is very important because whoever controls energy in a province controls development within a province. They control the rate of development. They can control whether or not development starts or stops.

The people of New Brunswick said: We are not going to give that kind of power, if you will pardon the pun, we are not going to give that kind of direction over our province, that kind of authority to somebody outside of the province. We are not going to allow the Province of Quebec or Hydro-Québec to dictate to the people of New Brunswick the rate of development in this province. We will be over a barrel. We will have to pretty much do what we are told.

Mr. Speaker, I heard the Member for Cartwright – L’Anse au Clair in a scrum outside of this House say: I will support Muskrat Falls if all of the power would be used in Labrador. Well, Mr. Speaker, ratepayers have to pay for generation of power. Unless there is a huge population explosion in Labrador, Mr. Speaker, something absolutely unbelievable happens in Labrador, along with the great mining developments that are going on up there now, Muskrat Falls will never be developed because people will never be able to afford the electricity and the mining companies would never be able to afford the electricity either.

The Minister of Natural Resources and I met with a mining company in my boardroom on Friday, Mr. Speaker. They are very interested in what is happening in Labrador because they are ready to move on their project, hundreds and hundreds of jobs and benefits for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, but they cannot do it without power, Mr. Speaker. They need Muskrat Falls to be developed, Mr. Speaker, and they need that to happen with the ability of the Province to avail of some of the power as well because the cost is shared.

Mr. Speaker, they understand that if Muskrat Falls does not go ahead, what happens in Labrador from that point on lies squarely in the hands of Hydro-Québec and the Province of Quebec. Who has confidence in that? That is the same situation that the people of New Brunswick found themselves in and said: No, absolutely not. That is what we are saying here as well, Mr. Speaker. The fundamentals have to work for ratepayers on the Island part of the Province, Mr. Speaker, they have to. We have to get the lowest rate of electricity for our people, and we know this project does it, Mr. Speaker. In doing that we enable development in Labrador, because we absorb so much of the cost we are able to sell electricity’s power to at least six mining developments we hope in Labrador who will be able to generate jobs and benefits for the people of the Province.

Mr. Speaker, does anybody have any confidence that when mines go to Hydro-Québec looking for energy for development in Labrador that they are going to get the best industrial rates in Atlantic Canada?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Not likely, Mr. Speaker. Not likely, Mr. Speaker. A province that cannot get the border drawn properly on their maps, after years and years and years of being corrected, Mr. Speaker, are not going to enhance development in Labrador if it is not to their benefit.

Mr. Speaker, we have a wealth of resources in this Province at the moment that is under development. What is happening in Labrador is so exciting and so wonderful for the people of Labrador, Mr. Speaker. The greatest benefits in Labrador now – we often hear the crowd on the other side talk about the great royalties and so on coming to the Treasury in Newfoundland and Labrador from mining projects in Labrador, well people who gave out those leases many, many years ago were not all that great at developing benefits agreements, and that is not a criticism, Mr. Speaker, that is exactly how it is. In terms of what we do around new developments, especially in our offshore and the kind of benefits that come directly into the Treasury, they were not even thought about in those kinds of days.

It is not that the Iron Ore Company of Canada is putting hundreds of millions of dollars into the Treasury of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker, because that is not how it was negotiated. The real benefits of the IOC and Wabush Mines, Mr. Speaker, are to the people who live in those communities, work in those mining sites. The ripple effect of all of the direct and indirect and induced jobs, Mr. Speaker, that occur as a result of it sees that the major benefits of those mining developments are in Labrador and remain in Labrador. So it should, Mr. Speaker, nobody here has any issue with that.

It is wonderful, and what can happen in Labrador beyond those particular agreements with better arrangements than anybody could have ever dreamt when those first mines were started are all on the horizon, Mr. Speaker, but they need power. Mr. Speaker, we need power for another reason as well. All of the things that we talk about in oil and gas and the investments we are making in our offshore and the investments we are making on the West Coast of the Island too, Mr. Speaker – and this government does not make any apologies for that. The West Coast of this Province has to have an opportunity to develop their resource that we know is there, Mr. Speaker. The oil bubbles up on top of the ground out there, Mr. Speaker. We have to find where it is, Mr. Speaker –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: – so that the people of the West Coast have the same opportunities on their doorstep that we see here on the Avalon Peninsula. We do not make any apologies for trying to firm up our reserves and spending some of our money on the West Coast of the Province trying to firm up reserves and find that resource, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, these are all non-renewables. They have a finite life, Mr. Speaker. We are in a wonderful place. Who could have dreamed of being in the place we are today in 2003? Not me, Mr. Speaker. Never did I dream that I would be stood in this place, in this House of Assembly talking about this kind of a Budget with billions of dollars of investment, new investment for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: New opportunities for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, new services for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker. It is absolutely wonderful and I am so proud to be here. Not only when we are doing all of that, Mr. Speaker, we have challenges, no doubt about it, but while we are dealing with our challenges, making great investments, we are paying our own way in this country. Whatever we have we are paying for it. Being a have Province does not mean, Mr. Speaker – it is like being unemployed and employed. Just because you are employed does not mean you are driving a Cadillac, but you are paying for all of your own needs and everything that you have. As Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, we are paying for what we use in this Province and what we deliver in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Not only that, we have something to share with the rest of the country, Mr. Speaker, who are not as well off as we are today, and we are happy to do it. We do it generously, Mr. Speaker, grateful for the support that we received when we had less. We will not be small-minded about it, we are glad to have the opportunity to do it, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we have to prepare for the day when the oil and the gas, and the iron ore and the nickel are not here any longer, and that was the vision laid out in 2007 in our Energy Plan. We are going to take a portion of the revenue, and that is what we told the people in 2007. We have been to two elections on it now, Mr. Speaker, the $600-some-odd million that the Opposition refers, $664 million that the Opposition refers to everyday. We have been to two elections on that, Mr. Speaker, and we told the people of the Province we are going to take some of the revenue from that non-renewable and we are going to build a renewable future, something that our children and our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren can rely on. As long as the wind blows and the water runs to the ocean, we will have financial security and sustainability in this Province. If we do it right, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: We have to have the vision, Mr. Speaker. We have to have the strategy. We have to do the planning. We have to do it properly. We have to understand clearly, as best we can. We have to understand that there is risk. There is always risk, Mr. Speaker. To do the kind of job that we do would be very easy if we did not have risk. Anybody could do it, Mr. Speaker, even the members opposite if there was no risk involved. There is risk involved and we have to understand what that risk is, understand how we can mitigate that risk and then make a decision, can we or will we do it? Is it worth taking the risk? In terms of the development of Muskrat Falls, every piece of evidence we have had to date, Mr. Speaker, says yes, it is worth the risk. Yes, it is worth the risk to take equity in our offshore resources.

Mr. Speaker, I understand when people have concern. When you start talking about $6 billion, $8 billion projects, Mr. Speaker, you are talking about an awful lot of money. Given our history, Mr. Speaker, you can understand the trepidation that people feel. When you have to marry that up with the fear mongering that has gone on by the so-called experts – and I can say that, Mr. Speaker, I am allowed to say that. As I said the last time I was on my feet here, I don’t ask for any quarter. I do not ask for any quarter when anybody is having a debate on Muskrat Falls or Churchill Falls, but no quarter given either, Mr. Speaker; and I don’t have any truck at all with people like the Member for the Bay of Islands, who figures he can sit over there with his feet up on the desk and tell people that they are telling lies, and tell people that they don’t know what they are talking about, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member for the Bay of Islands, on a point of order.

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier to withdraw her remarks, because the Speaker knows that at no time did I stand here and say anybody is telling lies. So I ask the Premier to withdraw her remarks, please.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier -

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: – speaking to the point of order?

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: No, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

I ask the Premier to continue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, I am sure our monitors can pick up the MHA for the Bay of Islands. Mr. Speaker, as I have made my remarks here and recounted history, surely across the way, certainly everybody in this House, has heard him say: That is not true. That is not true. That is not true.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if I am saying something that is not true, I must be telling a lie. Mr. Speaker, the Member for the Bay of Islands can cut that any way he likes, but those are the facts, and that is exactly the kind of semantics we see played on that side of the House on a daily basis. So, you can hand it out but when you start to give it back, when you start to lay it back on him, he is on his feet on a point of order; he can’t deal with it.

Mr. Speaker, my point is, and the point of the Minister of Natural Resources and any other minister or MHA on this side of the House, we know what we stand for. We know what we represent to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We know what decisions we make on their behalf.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, we are prepared to stand and speak and defend those decisions. Every time, we are prepared to stand and take responsibility; and when we make mistakes, we own them too. We absolutely own them too, Mr. Speaker, but the other half of that is, we don’t ask for quarter; we stand and take full responsibility, good or bad, for what this government does; but the other half of the equation is: No quarter given either. If you are going to engage in the debate then you had better come prepared, and you be prepared to be challenged when you are talking malarkey, when you are talking absolute malarkey, and you are confusing. You stand up and give a jaded view of the facts day after day, and then get up and register a complaint because people are confused.

Well, no wonder people are confused, when people don’t bother to get the right information to inform their questions, to hold our feet to the fire, to do their job to make sure that we are doing our job so people of the Province have the kind of governance they deserve. A democracy requires that somebody ask questions, absolutely.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. Premier that her time has expired.

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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