Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Mon., Apr. 10, 2000

First Session

MONDAY, APRIL 10, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 42, Municipal Law Amendment (2000) Act, Hon. A. MacIsaac 3579
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1176, Col.-Musquodoboit Valley MLA - Cdn. Alliance: Candidate
Consideration - Good Luck Wish, Mr. W. Estabrooks 3580
Res. 1177, Sports - Wrestling (NSSAF Senior Boys & Girls Champs):
Park View Educ. Ctr. Panthers - Congrats., Mr. D. Downe 3580
Vote - Affirmative 3581
Res. 1178, Lib. Party (N.S.) - Budget (N.S.-2000-01): Debate -
Debt Sol'ns. Offer, Mr. J. Carey 3581
Res. 1179, Fin. (Can.) - Royal Bk.: ATM (Lawrencetown) -
Removal Contact (Gov't. [N.S.]), Mr. J. Holm 3582
Vote - Affirmative 3582
Res. 1180, Health - Hosp. Funding (Amherst): Intervention
(Agric. Min.) - Incompatible, Dr. J. Smith 3583
Res. 1181, Lib. Party (N.S.) - Sysco: Handling Current - Complaints
Reflection, Mr. J. DeWolfe 3583
Res. 1182, Volunteerism - N.S. Vol. Week Awards Ceremony:
Fairview Heights Sc. PVO - Congrats., Ms. E. O'Connell 3584
Vote - Affirmative 3584
Res. 1183, Nat. Res. - Silviculture: Funding - Lower, Mr. K. MacAskill 3585
Res. 1184, Hants East MLA - Rural (N.S.): Harness Racing -
Aid Support, Mr. J. Carey 3586
Res. 1185, Volunteerism: Volunteers - Congrats.,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3586
Vote - Affirmative 3587
Res. 1186, Fish.: Enforcement Officers - Increase, Mr. R. MacKinnon 3587
Res. 1187, Fin. (Can.) - Royal Bk.: ATM (Lawrencetown) -
Retention Ensure, Mr. F. Chipman 3587
Vote - Affirmative 3588
Res. 1188, Econ. Dev. - Team Canada Mission (New England States):
C.B Absence - Investigate, Mr. F. Corbett 3588
Res. 1189, Volunteerism: Volunteers - Congrats., Mr. R. MacLellan 3589
Vote - Affirmative 3589
Res. 1190, Sports - Special Olympics (N.S. 2000 Winter Games):
Successes (Amherst Reg.) - Congrats., Hon. E. Fage 3590
Vote - Affirmative 3590
Res. 1191, Environ. - Ship Hbr. Long Lake Wilderness Corridor:
Protected Area - Recognize, Mr. K. Deveaux 3590
Res. 1192, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Hwys. & Bridges - Repair,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 3591
Res. 1193, Tourism - N.S. Highland Village: Funding - Commit,
Mr. K. MacAskill 3592
Vote - Affirmative 3592
Res. 1194, Tourism - Walton Lighthouse Comm. (Ted Burgess &
Reg Clark): CNTA Award (1999) - Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 3592
Vote - Affirmative 3593
Res. 1195, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Res. Tenancies: Review - Status,
Mr. J. Pye 3593
Res. 1196, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty (17/08/99 on): Deficit -
Address, Mr. J. Holm 3594
Res. 1197, Volunteerism - Honour: Funding - Provide, Mr. D. Downe 3595
Res. 1198, Culture - N.S. Cultural Network: Cyberdigest -
Launching (Andrew Terris) Congrats., Ms. E. O'Connell 3595
Vote - Affirmative 3596
Res. 1199, Health - Serv.: Contracting-Out - Debate Urge,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3596
Res. 1200, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Marine Atl.: C.B. Interests -
Rep. (Gov't. [N.S.]) Send, Mr. F. Corbett 3597
Res. 1201, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty: Rate (Can.) No. 1 -
Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 3598
Res. 1202, Col. Co. (MLAs-PC) - Hwys. Expenditure: Residents - Meet,
Mr. John MacDonell 3598
Res. 1203, Sports - Progs.: Contributions - Recognize, Mr. J. Pye 3599
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Agric. - 4-H Program: Funding Cuts - Oppose, Mr. D. Downe 3600
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 29, Medical Laboratory Technology Act 3601
Hon. J. Muir 3601
Dr. J. Smith 3603
Mr. D. Dexter 3610
Mr. R. MacKinnon 3613
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3615
Hon. J. Muir 3617
Vote - Affirmative 3618
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 36, The Scots: The North British Society Act 3618
Mr. T. Olive 3618
Mr. R. MacKinnon 3619
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3624
Mr. K. MacAskill 3625
Mr. J. Pye 3626
Mr. T. Olive 3626
Vote - Affirmative 3629
No. 41, Hantsport Memorial Community Centre Financial
Assistance (2000) Act 3629
Hon. R. Russell 3629
Mr. J. Pye 3630
Mr. R. MacKinnon 3630
Hon. R. Russell 3636
Vote - Affirmative 3637
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 32, Water Resources Protection Act 3637
Hon. R. Russell 3637
Mr. R. MacLellan 3639
Mr. W. Estabrooks 3643
Mr. M. Samson ^^Ms. Maureen MacDonald ~ 3651 3647
Mr. K. MacAskill 3655
Mr. J. Pye 3657
Mr. R. MacKinnon 3660
Mr. John MacDonell 3673
Adjourned debate 3678
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Baker 3678
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Apr. 11th at 2:00 p.m. 3679

[Page 3579]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, APRIL 10, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Wayne Gaudet, Mr. Kevin Deveaux

MR. SPEAKER: We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 42 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 23 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Assessment Act, Chapter 300 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Municipal Elections Act, and Chapter 18 of the Acts of 1998, the Municipal Government Act. (Hon. Angus MacIsaac)

3579

[Page 3580]

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read a second time on a future day.

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1176

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the member for beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has kindly autographed a copy of a Canadian Alliance poster; and

Whereas that same member, with his typical flair, wrote, "Keep on Truckin"; and

Whereas the old trucker is considering that very arduous journey to Ottawa as a candidate for the Canadian Alliance;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer wishes of good luck to the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley as he considers the detours and distractions ahead of him on the rough road to political oblivion.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Before I agree to table that motion, I would like to take a look at it. (Laughter)

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1177

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the member would have signed it for you for an autograph so you could put it on your wall.

Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Park View Education Centre Panthers have become Nova Scotia's high school wrestling powerhouse; and

Whereas the Bridgewater high school captured both the senior boys and girls NSSAF Wrestling Provincials at Sackville High School this past Saturday; and

[Page 3581]

Whereas the intermediate girls also captured second place;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Park View Education Centre Panthers on their success at the NSSAF Wrestling Provincials and wish them good luck in their future tournaments.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1178

MR. JON CAREY: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the former Liberal Government was removed from office by the electorate as a result of last summer's provincial general election for a number of reasons, including its inability to offer a true accounting of the province's finances; and

Whereas while in government, the Liberals used diversion of accounting to conceal a negative bottom line, while attempting to sell Nova Scotians on a balanced budget; and

Whereas the Leader of the Liberal Party is now even refusing to state how his Party was prepared to cut some $60 million in government operations;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Party, still unconvinced as to the true state of this province's deficit and debt, and silent on how it was to make spending reductions, take the opportunity afforded by a budget debate to finally take a serious look at a debt still rising by $1,000 a minute and offer concrete solutions and comments, instead of calling for more spending.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 3582]

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[The notice is tabled.]

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1179

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas in its first quarter the Royal Bank made $527 million; and

Whereas this very bank has announced plans to pull the only ATM in Lawrencetown out of the Co-op Store, meaning residents will have to drive 12 kilometres to the nearest bank or ATM to have access to their money; and

Whereas if people have to go elsewhere to get their money they will likely also shop elsewhere, which will affect the economy in Lawrencetown;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government contact the Royal Bank and express the desire of all members of this House to keep this ATM open for the people of Lawrencetown.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[Page 3583]

RESOLUTION NO. 1180

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on January 28, 2000, The Amherst Daily News reported that the Minister of Agriculture crashed a community meeting called to discuss the lack of hospital funding; and

Whereas it was reported that the minister threatened to make public the salaries of two doctors who were critical of the government; and

Whereas the minister also reportedly made threats that the hospital would fall under Premier Hamm's review if the community did not keep their concerns silent;

Therefore be it resolved that these actions are incompatible with the openness promised by the new government and represents a return to the bad old days, when health decisions were made on a political basis and the Cabinet and Premier's office used threats and gag orders to control Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1181

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas in June 1999, the former Liberal Government signed a contract with ABN Amro, which set a deadline of December 31, 1999; and

Whereas the Liberal contract with ABN Amro set a series of earlier deadlines, including one for completing a sale as early as October 31, 1999; and

[Page 3584]

Whereas the Liberals have also complained about a Sysco pension package negotiated by the member for Cape Breton South;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that the Liberal complaints of the current government's handling of Sysco are clearly a reflection of the previous government's mismanagement and callous disregard for both the taxpayer and Sysco employees.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax-Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1182

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on Friday, April 7, 2000, the 26th Annual Provincial Volunteer Week Awards ceremony was held at the Westin Hotel; and

Whereas 62 representative volunteers from all regions were honoured, as were four groups or individuals in particular categories; and

Whereas the Parents Volunteer Organization of Fairview Heights School received an award as representative for the Halifax Regional Municipality, Chebucto region;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to Fairview Heights School, Parents Volunteer Organization, and all other recipients of the Volunteer 2000 awards.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto on an introduction.

[Page 3585]

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to inform you and members of the House that we are being observed in our work today by a group of students from Cornwallis Junior High School. There are 30 Grade 9 students, along with two adults, Pat Milligan and Patricia Arab. I would ask them to rise and receive a warm welcome from the members of this House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed, welcome to our guests in the gallery.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1183

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on Page 25 of the document, The Course Ahead, the Tories say their "Commitment to silviculture remains strong . . ."; and

Whereas this Tory Government showed a lack of commitment to silviculture by holding back a $1 million funding increase for the industry in their last budget; and

Whereas under the Liberals, funding for silviculture would have increased to $4 million annually;

Therefore be it resolved that this government has already put silviculture in Nova Scotia behind a year, and hopefully plans for the future will show better understanding and compassion for this vital industry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 3586]

RESOLUTION NO. 1184

MR. JON CAREY: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the NDP Agriculture Critic, the member for Hants East, loudly criticized the government for not providing sufficient financial support to the harness racing industry; and

Whereas the outgoing NDP Leader contradicted his own Agriculture Critic by criticizing this government's transitional support for the harness racing industry; and

Whereas this is proof that the real agenda of the NDP is to see an industry collapse, putting hundreds of people in rural Nova Scotia and Cape Breton out of work;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Hants East stand up for rural Nova Scotia and express his support for the government's decision to sustain an important part of the Nova Scotia economy.

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1185

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas April 9th to April 15th is National Volunteer Week; and

Whereas volunteerism is the glue that holds the community together; and

Whereas volunteers toil along quietly and most times go unrecognized by society and their peers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank all the many volunteers who make our society what it is today.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

[Page 3587]

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1186

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas during the election campaign the present Tory Government promised to tackle the growing problem of illegal fishing, buying and selling by strengthening Fisheries enforcement efforts; and

Whereas the federal government has taken positive action in the field of Fisheries enforcement by allocating $13 million to increase Fisheries enforcement capacity; and

Whereas this provincial Tory Government has done absolutely nothing to fulfil their election promise of last June;

Therefore be it resolved that this government show the people of Nova Scotia that it really meant what it said during the election campaign by immediately hiring more enforcement officers to protect Nova Scotia's multimillion dollar fishing industry.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1187

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Royal Bank of Canada has been a fixture in the community of Lawrencetown, Annapolis County, for over 100 years; and

[Page 3588]

Whereas the Royal Bank of Canada dealt its first blow to Lawrencetown in 1993 when they closed their actual branch in the village; and

Whereas the bank has now announced they are removing banking machine privileges from the community as well, forcing their customers to travel some distance to have access to either a bank or a banking machine;

Therefore be it resolved that since the Royal Bank has sufficient profits to support smaller communities like Lawrencetown, they show some flexibility and some heart and ensure their bank machine is kept in place at the Beaver Fruit Co-op Store.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1188

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on May 8th a team of Nova Scotia businesses will be joining Team Canada Mission to the New England States; and

Whereas the Premier has stated that "this is a golden opportunity to create jobs and promote what this province has to offer"; and

Whereas unfortunately what this province has to offer does not include Cape Breton businesses;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately investigate why no members of the Cape Breton business community are on this trade mission and that he inform this House on how he intends to rectify this obvious problem.

[Page 3589]

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1189

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas April 9th to April 15th has been designated as Volunteer Week in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas there are thousands of individuals across the province who give freely of their time to others; and

Whereas these caring people we honour this week give unpaid help from the goodness of their hearts, enrich the lives of their fellow citizens and ask for nothing in return;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate and thank the countless number of volunteers across Nova Scotia for their outstanding contributions to our communities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

[Page 3590]

RESOLUTION NO. 1190

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Amherst Regional Special Olympics Association participated in the Nova Scotia 2000 Winter Games held recently in Shearwater; and

Whereas the floor hockey team won silver in the B Division; and

Whereas three bowlers also won medals: Mary Ellen Walsh, bronze; Hughie Williams, gold in the 40 and over division; and David Teed, bronze in the under 29 division;

Therefore be it resolved that the province acknowledge the achievements of these athletes and wish them all success in future competitions.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1191

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas one of the best assets this province has is its unspoiled forests and woodlands; and

Whereas the Ship Harbour Long Lake Wilderness Corridor is a great example of forested land that can and must be preserved; and

Whereas the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association is attempting to preserve the Ship Harbour Long Lake Wilderness Corridor from further deforestation and clear-cutting;

[Page 3591]

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the efforts of the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association and that the government recognize the Ship Harbour Long Lake Wilderness Corridor as a protected area under the Wilderness Areas Protection Act.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1192

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Nova Scotia has the dubious distinction of having some of the oldest highway infrastructure nationwide; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's average pavement age is 21 years and our bridges' average age is 51 years; and

Whereas, while in Opposition, the Tories demanded greater attention to funding for highway infrastructure;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation do something about our ageing highways and bridges before they either crumble into the dust or collapse.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 3592]

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1193

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Nova Scotia Highland Village in Iona is one of the premiere outdoor pioneer museums in the country; and

Whereas Page 90 of the new Tory bible released over a week ago states that the government will adopt the Nova Scotia Highland Village into the provincial museums system to strengthen the Nova Scotia Museums presence in Cape Breton; and

Whereas this report is not worth the paper it is written on unless the museum receives adequate funding;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government commit to providing the much needed funding to allow the Nova Scotia Highland Village to continue operating and providing superior services to visitors and locals alike.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There had been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1194

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas concern and pride in one's community is the most common motivation for local activities; and

[Page 3593]

Whereas the Walton Lighthouse Committee and, in particular, Ted Burgess and Reg Clark of Hants West have shown their commitment to community in promotion of the Walton Lighthouse in Hants East resulting in increased tourist traffic from 7,000 to 10,000 people; and

Whereas the efforts of Ted Burgess and Reg Clark have resulted in the Walton Lighthouse Committee being awarded the Central Nova Tourist Association Attraction of the Year Award for 1999, recognizing the Walton Lighthouse over other attractions in Hants East, Cumberland and Colchester;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Walton Lighthouse Committee and, in particular, Ted Burgess and Reg Clark for their efforts in promoting their community and in receiving the CNTA'a Attraction of the Year Award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1195

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas in 1996-97 the Government of Nova Scotia received more than 4,500 complaints and 66,000 enquiries on residential tenancies; and

Whereas in 1998 the provincial government established a committee to facilitate a comprehensive review of the Residential Tenancies Act; and

Whereas the provincial government invited input by all the stakeholders no later than November 15, 1998, and there is still no report;

[Page 3594]

Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government apprise the stakeholders and this House on the status of the comprehensive review.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for wavier.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1196

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas every day in the Province of Nova Scotia six more children are born into poverty; and

Whereas since August 17, this Tory Government's first full day in office, 1,422 children have been born into poverty; and

Whereas this heartless Tory Government would prefer to talk about only one kind of deficit, a budget deficit;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government start waking up to the health, education, and social deficits faced by the 1,422 children born into poverty under this Tory Regime.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 3595]

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1197

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the real value of volunteer work in Nova Scotia represents 134 million hours and nearly $2 billion a year to the provincial economy; and

Whereas last Friday members of the Tory caucus presented a series of volunteer award resolutions in this House; and

Whereas while it is commendable that the government is recognizing volunteers, it should also serve as a warning that budget cuts will mean downloading to the already stretched resources of the volunteer sector;

Therefore be it resolved that the Tory Government truly honour the volunteer sector by providing concrete support before they ask volunteers to do more with an awful lot less.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1198

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Nova Scotia Cultural Network continues to make skillful use of the Internet, with its website and cyberbulletin; and

Whereas it has now launched a new cyberdigest called NovaCulture News; and

[Page 3596]

Whereas the goal of the NovaCulture News is to help everyone understand why culture, cultural expression and cultural development are so important for all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Andrew Terris and the Nova Scotia Cultural Network on the launching of the NovaCulture News.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1199

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Premier Ralph Klein used a province-wide address to give more than two months' advance notice of his intention to authorize the contracting-out of health services to private, for-profit hospitals; and

Whereas this government seeks similar authority without public discussion and without giving this Legislature any more than a week to discuss the principles that are at stake; and

Whereas this amounts to a blitzkrieg on democracy and on community-controlled public health care services;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Conservatives to find the courage to face a thorough debate in this House and in this province of their plans to let Klein contracting-out be authorized by anonymous officials.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3597]

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1200

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas federal MP Peter Mancini and Mayor David Muise say more provincial support is needed to help keep Cape Breton's interests in Marine Atlantic afloat; and

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas this Tory Government has not spoken up on behalf of Cape Bretoners on this matter; and

Whereas Mancini and Muise were the Island's lone representatives as the Crown Ferry Service's Board met with key stakeholders in Newfoundland;

Therefore be it resolved that when the interests of Cape Bretoners are being discussed in regard to Marine Atlantic, that the province will from now on send a representative to speak about the government's support for this worthy Cape Breton enterprise.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[Page 3598]

RESOLUTION NO. 1201

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas child poverty has long been recognized as a blight on the face of our nation and province; and

Whereas all the members of this House are concerned with the plight of those who were forced to suffer in poverty from no fault of their own; and

Whereas the government has been working hard to address the issue to the best of their ability;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Tory Government for their efforts with regard to child poverty, as our province has now become number one in Canada with the highest rate of child poverty in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1202

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Colchester County residents met last week to discuss the dangerous condition of Highway No. 2; and

Whereas these Nova Scotians, like many rural residents, had high hopes when they elected Tory MLAs and a Tory Government that pledged a massive increase in highway spending in 2000-01; and

[Page 3599]

Whereas participants were disappointed and dismayed when no Conservative MLA would attend the public meeting to discuss how Liberal neglect of Highway No. 2 must finally be ended;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Conservative MLAs from Colchester County to be responsible and accountable enough to meet residents who are waiting for the promised increase of more than $80 million a year in highway spending.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1203

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas studies have shown that investment in sports and recreation sustain communities and are essential to improving health and quality of life; and

Whereas many not-for-profit organizations, through Sport Nova Scotia, devote countless volunteer hours to sports in this province so that many Nova Scotians can live happy and productive lives; and

Whereas in the Progressive Conservative's document, Strong Leadership . . . . a clear course, promises were made which clearly conveyed this government's commitment to preventative health care;

Therefore be it resolved that this Progressive Conservative Government recognize the contribution of sport programs by taking a leadership role to continue funding and even enhancing these sport and recreation programs.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 3600]

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

I have had an opportunity, honourable members, to review the notice of motion that was put earlier by the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect and the notice of motion will be tabled. (Applause)

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if we could have the agreement of the House to revert to the order of business, Presenting and Reading Petitions.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request to revert to Presenting and Reading Petitions.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I thank members of the Legislature for allowing me to revert back to the order of business. It is my pleasure to introduce another petition with regard to the 4-H program. It states:

"Whereas 4-H has played a positive role in the personal development of our youth in Nova Scotia

Whereas 4-H develops leadership and organizational skills, self discipline, self confidence and provides opportunities for our youth to develop a sense of community and become our leaders for the future

We the below signed strongly oppose any potential funding cuts to the 4-H which may occur in the upcoming Provincial Budget."

[Page 3601]

This has been signed, again, Mr. Speaker, and there will be more to follow. I thank the indulgence of the House for allowing this to be brought forward.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 29.

Bill No. 29 - Medical Laboratory Technology Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in this House today for second reading of Bill No. 29, the Medical Laboratory Technology Act. I was very pleased to table the proposed Act last week. The legislation will be of great benefit to Nova Scotians and to practising medical laboratory technologists.

The bill, Mr. Speaker, is a collaborative effort between my department and members of the Nova Scotia Society of Medical Laboratory Technologists. We were very pleased to have their input and feel that the result is a very effective piece of legislation.

I am pleased as well, Mr. Speaker, to report that the introduction of this bill fulfils a very important platform commitment.

Medical laboratory technologists provide a vital service to all Nova Scotians. They collect and analyse biological specimens and ensure accuracy of the results, so that members of other health professions can use the results to diagnose and treat patients.

[Page 3602]

Their numbers are large, Mr. Speaker. In fact, with a roster of about 800 practitioners in this province, this group is one of the largest components of the provincial health care workforce. The proposed bill will help ensure continuation of quality medical lab services in Nova Scotia, while ensuring proper professional regulations are in place.

This legislation does a number of things: It describes the practice and explains what is being regulated. It establishes a college, a body of all registered members. It establishes a board of the college. This 10 member board will consist of seven members elected by the college and three appointed by the government. These three government appointees will give the public a role in regulating the practice that is so important to all Nova Scotians. It will allow the college to set standards for the practice. Mr. Speaker, government approves these standards to ensure that they are in the public's best interests and consistent with government policy. The bill also allows the college to establish regulations. Some of those regulations, such as those relating to educational policies or registration and licensing, must also be approved by the government. This legislation provides for a wide range of disciplinary measures to deal with a wide range of disciplinary issues.

The chief function of professional regulation is to protect the public by establishing and enforcing standards of practice. This bill, Mr. Speaker, would allow for that protection.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the members of this House to look favourably on this important piece of legislation. Just last fall, we passed the Chiropractic Act, a piece of legislation modelled after the Medical Act, as is this Statute. We are moving toward a more consistent health profession legislation. This consistency will provide for more transparency, ease of understanding and an opportunity for professional groups to learn from the best practices of others.

Mr. Speaker, we expect to bring more pieces of similar legislation to the floor of this House during our mandate. Several other professional groups have approached us to suggest ways in which legislation could be made more effective and have stated a commitment to work with us to make that happen. As you can appreciate, it takes time to write new legislation and review existing legislation with a view to amendments. We take concerns and suggestions from all groups seriously.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to stress that this proposed piece of legislation, the Medical Laboratory Technology Bill, is about the government protecting the public, and public protection is something we can all relate to.

Mr. Speaker, I move that this bill be read for a second time.

[Page 3603]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: I will stand and, for the time being represent the Liberal caucus. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to address Bill No. 29, An Act Respecting the Practice of Medical Laboratory Technology, on second reading. We have reviewed the bill and will be making some comments, generally throughout, on more of a technical nature, because the general thrust of this bill and the aim is to bring into legislation a most important group of people within the health professions, the medical laboratory technologist, and to give them status within the health care system.

We have been supportive of legislation, Mr. Speaker, where professional groups have their own legislation within the health care system. Basically, I am not in favour of all-inclusive legislation that would cover many groups. They are all distinct. There are training issues that are peculiar to medical laboratory technologists. Their needs are special. Also the governance issue of their profession that must be addressed in legislation such as Bill No. 29, generally, we support that.

We recognize this as a government to bring forth similar legislation modelled on the Medical Act governing physicians, for physiotherapists and occupational therapists last year, and we are very pleased to have done that. There are other groups practising health care in this province that are seeking legislation that the minister has mentioned, and we would implore him to bring that legislation forward, that we may assess it and debate it in the Legislature; other groups that are looking for self-governing legislation.

It is only then, Mr. Speaker, that groups become accountable within the profession, and the bills give security to the people who are receiving care whether it is occupational therapists, physiotherapists, medical laboratory technologists and all the other groups, such as physicians, nurses. There is a balance between responsibility within the legislation prescribing matters of criteria to call themselves medical laboratory technologists, and that is important. It also gives security to the people, the patients, the residents who are receiving care, that they are receiving care by a person who meets a high quality of standards, and who are responsible and are being held responsible through this legislation and to their profession and to the people they serve.

This bill, Mr. Speaker, provides self-regulation of the medical laboratory technologist's profession by the Nova Scotia Society of Medical Laboratory Technologists. The bill establishes a college of medical laboratory technologists as a self-regulating body, something which the Society of the Nova Scotia Medical Laboratory Technologists have been looking for, and I want to compliment the minister for bringing this forward. This is the type of legislation that can come forward, it is one that government should be doing, and I applaud the minister. I am sure he feels as I did. As the Minister of Health, I was able to bring other legislation, such as the Occupational Therapists Act and Physiotherapy Act forward.

[Page 3604]

[2:45 p.m.]

I would say that in his comments though, Mr. Speaker, he did mention other groups, and we would be remiss in debating this bill if we did not point out the untenable situation with midwifery in this province at this juncture. It is not as if midwifery is not being practiced; it is being practiced in this province and it is being done without this type of legislation. I would say to the minister that whatever we can do on this side of the House to support this type of legislation to govern the practice of midwifery, where babies actually are being delivered in this province by midwives as we speak and without this type of legislation. So I am saying to the minister that if he is having trouble with his Cabinet colleagues, if there is anything that we can do to help, we will, because we think that this is important.

It is important for all people who are delivering health care to this province that they have self-governing legislation, including midwifery, and this bill will be an important part of the health care team, the medical laboratory technologists, this legislation that we are debating here today.

As I mentioned, our previous government was proud to be part of the cooperation and the partnership with all health care professionals, and we had worked closely with physiotherapists and occupational therapists. I think it is really a part of government where you can build so much goodwill and yet do what is right and what is fair and be responsible to those people who are governed by this bill, the medical laboratory technologists, and also to all people of Nova Scotia, that when they meet these professional people as a health care team member, they will know that they meet the qualifications and they are maintaining standards that are par across this country.

This bill is generally a positive initiative, Mr. Speaker, in my opinion. Unlike some of the government bills introduced this session, this bill is the result of much thought and much consultation. I wish I could say that about Bill No. 34. Although we did support Bill No. 34, the Health Authorities Act, to go - we did not vote against it like some other members of this House - we wanted to see it go to the Law Amendments Committee and then the government can maybe get the proper information to improve that legislation, or maybe there is no hope for that legislation to ever be fair, maybe it just has to be withdrawn by the government, but we wanted to hear what the people of Nova Scotia have to say at the Law Amendments Committee. This bill is a pleasant surprise and a pleasure to support as opposed to Bill No. 34, the Health Authorities Act.

We had done some preliminary work with the medical laboratory technologists, as I mentioned, to develop this bill we are debating today. I was very pleased to see this when I read the 243 Tory promises; this was one promise that at least I agreed with the Tories on and that they could keep. I compliment them. The checklist that we have doesn't quite correspond with their checklist, but it is small. This is one that I am very pleased to support bringing forward, this legislation, as we address the principle of the bill.

[Page 3605]

Now they can put another check mark, Mr. Speaker, in their big blue book. Like other pieces of legislation brought forward, the bill is modelled after the Medical Act. It takes a great deal of consultation and discussion with professions involved in order to make the bill conform to the Medical Act. It is quite a lengthy bill in a way; you would think it could be addressed in a few pages, but not so. I think it is important that all the investigative committees and the discipline committees and the lay membership is spelled out very clearly, that people know exactly, that the bill is easy to read, and it is understandable.

It is important that it is modelled after another profession, like the Medical Act, but it reflects the special needs and the direction of this profession of the medical laboratory technologists. The Department of Health, in developing this type of legislation, tries to find a consensus and approval from all the health care professionals on this type of legislation. I think it is important the whole health care team is involved in having input and is aware of what other professionals within that health care team is doing. I assume this has been done, and if not, we will hear about that in the Law Amendments Committee. It is a credit to the medical laboratory technologists that all stakeholders are in approval. I have not heard any negative comments or received letters from other health care professionals who were not in support of this bill. I think it speaks well for the work that the Department of Health has done in developing this legislation, that they have the approval of other health care professionals.

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to a profession like the medical laboratory technologist, it is very important they have specific legislation that spells out their professional responsibility and their rights. Again, that balance between responsibilities and rights, I think that is so important. I think generally this bill does that.

Mr. Speaker, I know you would like to make an introduction, and I agree.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education on an introduction.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the House to a distinguished constituent of Halifax Citadel and one of my favourite constituents, my father, Dr. Jim Purves. Dad, would you stand. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome, from all around.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I had no idea that I was yielding the floor to such a distinguished Nova Scotian. I had not seen Dr. Purves for a period of time, and then in the last two or three weeks, I think I have seen him about four times. Any time you want to drop in, Dr. Purves, we will certainly yield the floor to you. I am sure you could speak on this bill from your own personal experiences, and I think it might be even more positive than my comments.

[Page 3606]

By that I mean I am sure he has many fond memories of the nights he has called out the medical laboratory technologists to assist him through a procedure, or something like that. He would owe them a few of those late-night calls, and he may want to recognize them for that. We all do that. Sometimes I think people are wondering, well, who is covered by this legislation and what do they do, and sometimes I guess they are not as much upfront in the eyes of the patients as some of the other professions. So many of the decisions of the other professions depend on the high technical and professional nature of this group of people. They are often the unsung heros of late-night work, they are on call, and in emergency situations, when results are needed to be determined quickly. I think it is a broad group of professionals, really, that adds a lot of support service and direct patient care, as well.

We hope the government has done all it can to ensure, in regard to the shortage of, medical laboratory technologists. I want to briefly comment on that, while we are debating Bill No. 29. On the shortage, there is a real concern within the profession. I know they have mentioned it to me as a Health Minister, and I don't want to duck this issue, these facts were before us, as well. I would encourage this minister to do what he can in that area. Regarding the training program, there is concern about having to go out of province to access that. I would say that even though the minister maybe hasn't done so well in the recruitment and retention of nurses, maybe he would like to try his hand at this profession. He may have some luck there. I know the numbers he is using in the nursing profession, but they are really conversions of casual positions into full-time nurses. Seriously, we do need a full complement, not only of nurses, but of medical laboratory technologists as well. We do hope that they will address that issue and do what they can, particularly in light of the budget tomorrow.

The bill does address the trend that we have seen in the province and across Canada with regard to the issue and the regulation of the health professions. I had mentioned that earlier in my opening comments about this move not to have one Act covering the whole group of professions but to address the specific need requirements, the regulations that are needed to support the Act relative to this profession. Self-regulation of the health profession is the right direction to head.

Mr. Speaker, this bill creates a board and the board will consist of, I think the minister mentioned in his opening comments, three members appointed by the Governor in Council, seven members by the College of Medical Laboratory Technologists and the persons appointed by the Governor in Council are appointed until their term expires but even at that time there is no reason for the Governor in Council to reappoint another member. So the appointments made by Cabinet are for as long as the Cabinet wishes. I just want to point that out, that that is the intent of the government to do that.

We have seen a lot of this from this government, Mr. Speaker, like not vetting boards through the Human Resources Committee. I think this is one way that that can be circumvented. I just want to go on record with that as being my concern. It is fine to circumvent the Human Resources Committee if that is the intention of this bill just so that the

[Page 3607]

medical laboratory technologists realize that this will give a certain number of their board who could be appointed without being vetted through the all-Party Human Resources Committee.

We see it in the Health Authorities Bill where the minister has total control over who is on the regional boards and how long they stay on the boards. For some time now, we have had legislation specifically governing discipline committees, complaint committees, relative to the dental profession and the medical profession.

The separation of responsibilities within the health care professions is important. It is very important to have these issues enshrined in legislation such as Bill No. 29. This is important for public confidence. It is important within the health professions and more importantly for the public's protection. Licensing legislation is important to define the profession. It established a title, it established a scope of the practice of a technologist and formal registration requirements and it formalizes all of those, Mr. Speaker, and that is why this, in legislation, is necessary, it is mandatory and it will be enacted into law, supported by regulations.

Mr. Speaker, also this bill establishes a complaints and a discipline procedure. I want to address that because I think this is really so important. This is protection for the profession and for the public - again, that balance of this specific legislation. I understand that the Nova Scotian side of medical laboratory technologists are generally pleased that this bill is coming forward and I am sure they are. It is unfortunate that such a positive step like this will be overshadowed by some of the haphazard things being done in the Department of Health lately, in destabilizing the people's jobs and wondering what is happening. The medical laboratory technologists do have some concerns regarding their profession which have not been addressed by this government. I mentioned some of it, the training program, the recruitment and retention of the profession.

They talk about three separate studies that say Nova Scotia will have a shortage of medical laboratory technicians within the next three to five years. I hope this government does not handle this shortage the way they are handling, or not handling, the nursing shortage. The Liberals had a plan to invest in 400 new nursing positions for Nova Scotia. They said they had a plan but have been unable to produce results or any evidence of a plan supported by the appropriate resources. We will be watching that budget tomorrow, Mr. Speaker, for the resources in the health profession, allowing retention and recruitment of health professionals, nurses and also medical laboratory technologists, who have needs as we speak. Instead they have even seen the start of some bed closures instead of the plan coming forward for a comprehensive health care plan.

[Page 3608]

[3:00 p.m.]

Like the nursing situation, the shortage of medical laboratory technologists is being felt across Canada. Medical laboratory technologists are the third largest group of medical professionals in Nova Scotia, just behind nurses and doctors. With all the chaos recently in the health care system, I know the Tories have left much room for discussion about training new laboratory technicians. I don't know that they have allowed that for their training program and we will be watching that.

It is time to address the issue of a new entry level program for medical laboratory technologists. I would like to see this government address the issue of continuing education and upgrading for this profession and spell this out specifically. The health investment fund was a bold move to invest in new health care technology, a clear indication of their support for the profession. The minister is over there heckling a little bit but we are waiting for their health investment fund, or plan, or whatever it is. What they have done is put $208 million onto the debt of the province directly with no payback plan. It was a bold attempt to blame the previous government and governments tend to do that but I think they were bolder than most, but let us see how far they get in their boldness because the day of reckoning will be tomorrow.

Mr. Speaker, we need some sort of a plan that is clear and definitive and addresses the issue of long-term health care and support services that are necessary to support acute and long-term care and help to control the rising costs in health care. We were told it was not needed, it was voted against so now we see no plan and we are looking forward to that.

These are some of the issues that go by the boards, the training of medical laboratory technologists that is not addressed, even though the need is great. The medical laboratory technologists are finding themselves in an increasingly technological environment. We have mentioned this many times in the House, other members have mentioned it. With increased technology it is becoming even more important that legislation be here that can be built on, amended and changed to address the changing times, the increasingly technological environment and the very high stress environment the people often work in this high technology era.

They must be able to gain the skills and the upgrading to face the challenges and this legislation must reflect that. To meet these challenges, the medical laboratory technologists need this bill and they need enhanced training programs and they require strengthened, accessible, continuing education programs. All of this to continue to provide the high level of care and support to those Nova Scotians that they serve and that they have done so well in the past.

[Page 3609]

That essentially is my concluding statement. I know that we will be going through the legislation clause by clause. I do have some concerns, about the make up of some of the committees. I think it is important that on investigative and discipline committees, whether it is the medical profession, the nursing profession, or the medical laboratory technologists, that we have lay members. I think that is really important that the board have lay members and those lay members are on the crucial committees where the interest of the public is being addressed.

I am not clear, some of the legislation seems to be weakening on this; this was very popular and it recognized that need and I am a little disturbed sometimes on some of the legislation recently, like the dental legislation where complaints are made, particularly again professionals. In this case a constituent came to my office and had a complaint that I thought needed a fair hearing but was determined by the registrar not to go any further. I wasn't clear on that process and maybe we will look at this as we go through clause by clause as to how such a complaint would be dealt with by the registrar. Would it, in fact, be referred further to an board and to a investigative and discipline committee that would have at least one member of each that would have a layperson? That would be the purpose of having lay members on professional boards. That is the only concern that I had, without addressing specifics here.

There are some concerns I have on the principle of the bill, such as the role of the registrar and where he may learn from the complaints and some of that is not spelled out specifically. I think I will save those other comments until later, Mr. Speaker.

Just again, as we address this legislation to pay a compliment to an integral part, an important part of the health care team, it is important that this legislation go forward and the need, also the resources to support this profession, the enhancement of the training programs and the continuing education to deal particularly with the new technology and the latest technology, the machinery, the computers, the specific types of tests and the reporting of those tests. Most of all, here is an area, Mr. Speaker, a group of people that this database that we speak of and the quick transmission of the results of tests, be they x-rays or blood tests or bacteriological tests or biopsies or whatever, all of these that they move quickly.

We are in a system now where it takes a couple of weeks before a patient can find out from their family doctor the results of some of these tests. We hear this, all of us in the House have heard this. So I think our database and our communication of test results is done in a confidential manner but it is done much more that we get that into the 21st Century. We are dragging behind dramatically in this area.

I am sure that this must frustrate this profession as well, Mr. Speaker, when they are often called in to do a test that is rapidly required and maybe a part of the team may get that result but all of those that are impacted and need that test are bogged down by an antiquated system. The minister made fun of me a little bit there earlier on about our health investment

[Page 3610]

fund, but our health investment fund very clearly spelled that out over a three year period of this information system and database. We have not seen anything like that come forward.

I think this group, the medical laboratory technologists need an up-to-date system that they can not only do good work within their own profession but they can share that with members of the health care team regardless of where it be. This is not all done in one facility and the results known in that institution. This is materials and tests going back and forth all across this province; for less than one million people, it is time that we had a good database and information-sharing system. I think that it will reflect the good results and the good work that is being done by our medical laboratory technologists. I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak today on Bill No. 29, an Act Respecting the Practice of Medical Laboratory Technology. I am certainly pleased to have an opportunity to address this bill. I listened with a great deal of interest to the former Minister of Health give what might have been called a speech, things I wish I would have done, because, of course, they certainly had the opportunity to introduce this legislation and they chose not to for whatever reason. I couldn't help listening to him go on and on about the health investment fund. I am not sure what it has to do with this, but I can tell you this, he just can't seem to let it go despite the fact that people left that concept in droves, Mr. Speaker. They couldn't get away from that plan fast enough. That is why they are sitting over there today. They like to blame it on us. It is not our fault, it is their fault.

They had the opportunity to bring forward good pieces of legislation just like this one. I have to say for our part, there is much in this bill that is worthy of support. There are some problems with it, and I am going to point some of those out, but the reality is that this is something they had the opportunity to do, and for whatever reason, be it negligence, or you take your pick of reasons, Mr. Speaker, it could have been any one of a long list of reasons. For whatever reason, they decided that they had other priorities. That's the way they put it. Other priorities.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 29 represents, in fact, a welcome piece of legislation in this House because what it does, it sets up a regime for regulation of a group of professionals and allows them the opportunity and, I think, truly the recognition that they deserve. The format of this bill is certainly not unknown to the members of the House. It follows a format that has been used with other health professionals. Certainly the investigatory procedures and the discipline procedures are, what I would call, a standard piece of legislation. We know from past history that they work. These kinds of mechanisms are good for the community. They are not only good for the particular profession that is being regulated, but they are also good for the community.

[Page 3611]

In case the members opposite are not aware, medical laboratory technologists are those people who conduct sophisticated medical tests on blood, body fluids and tissues in hospitals, labs and research facilities. The test results, Mr. Speaker, are used by physicians to make informed decisions about patients' health and possible treatment and to advance medical research. So, this is a very important group in our health care delivery system. It is a fact that this is an integral part of the clinical services that are received across the province.

The trend to reduce medical technologists' training was nationwide from 1993 to 1998, and I think, Mr. Speaker, this is one of the concerns that we have. It is one thing to introduce this kind of legislation. It is another one to deal with a difficulty in the health/human resource plan that is emerging as a result of a shortage of medical laboratory technologists. I should tell you that the numbers of people enrolled in programs outside of Quebec, have been reduced by 78 per cent since 1998. I know that the Canadian Society of Medical Laboratory Technologists are, in fact, predicting that we will have a nation-wide shortage of laboratory technologists within 5 to 10 years. I know that the local Society of Medical Laboratory Technologists have been telling us that this shortage will be felt in Nova Scotia in 3 to 5 years.

There are a couple of interesting statistics, Mr. Speaker, that we should be aware of when we are considering the principle of this bill, and it is this, 13 per cent of all Nova Scotia medical laboratory technologists anticipate retiring by the year 2005 and 43 per cent of Nova Scotia lab managers anticipate retiring by the year 2005.

[3:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, without a health-human resource plan to replace those people, I think it is clear that we face a shortage in this critical field. I don't want to go over the top on this, but I think it is clear that these kinds of shortages pose a serious health risk to Canadians. As you know, acuity in hospitals is greater and the lengths of stay are shorter. As they say, they let them out sicker and quicker. Rapid test turnaround times are a necessity, and the demands for timely delivery of services have increased. There has also been an increase in the diversity of the testing requiring rapid response times. All of this goes to our understanding of the important job that the medical laboratory technologists do in this province.

Unfortunately, there is, at this point, no entry-level training for medical laboratory technologists in the province. It was suspended in Nova Scotia in 1995, due to cutbacks in the Department of Education. Now in 1995, it would have been my colleagues to my extreme right here who made that decision. Again, that is part of the priorities that they displayed as a government, and might I say, I think it was short-sighted, because the reality is that without a plan to replace retiring medical laboratory technologists, those who are leaving the field for whatever reason, then it is absolutely certain to result in a shortage.

[Page 3612]

Mr. Speaker, to meet the future needs for medical laboratory technologists in Nova Scotia, we need the reinstatement of entry-level education very soon. There are a number of ways to go about doing this. I know the department has said that they are looking at an Atlantic-wide program for trying to meet the health-human resource needs of all of the Maritimes, unfortunately, at this point, the Nova Scotia Department of Education sponsors three students who attend a training program in New Brunswick. Besides just being inadequate, there is no commitment required from those students to actually return to Nova Scotia. It doesn't mean that those who are retiring from the system are being replaced.

As I understand it, only one Nova Scotia-sponsored student graduated in June 1999. Clearly, although an effort has been made, it is inadequate at this time to meet the needs of the province. This is something that needs to be addressed, as soon as possible, by the government.

I understand that the Society of Medical Laboratory Technologists has recommended a baccalaureate education with both diploma and degree exit options. I also understand, again in doing some research into this piece of legislation, that the international trend is, in fact, toward degree entry for jobs.

As you may know, the new baccalaureate in an allied health sciences at Dalhousie was developed with the input of the Nova Scotia Society of Medical Laboratory Technologists, and it consisted of a diploma after three years and an option to complete the degree option part time or later on. The new program was, in fact, approved in May 1999, but without the medical laboratory technologists included, because of the government's position - and again I will say a short-sighted position - that entry-level training for this profession was not going to be made available in Nova Scotia. Again I say, this is certainly unfortunate. If the medical laboratory technologists had joined in on the allied health profession baccalaureate in the fall of 2000, the diploma level graduates would have been expected by 2003, when it is anticipated there will already be a significant shortage in the workforce.

I have spent some time on the debate on this bill already pointing out what I think was a significant shortcoming of the former government. I know that the job of the former government, the Liberal caucus now, is to try and bolster their very meagre accomplishments while they were in office and to hope that some of their shortcomings will dim in the memories of people as time goes by. This is an example where the absence of foresight, where the failure to bring forward a plan for a health human resource strategy clearly shows how faulty the logic of the former government was. I know you would agree with that, Mr. Speaker, because you are a fair-minded individual and I know you would also think that it was just department by department and certainly some departments were in better shape than others. I have no question about that.

[Page 3613]

One of the problems with this bill, Mr. Speaker, is the whole question of who is going to qualify and who will meet the requirements in order to be registered with the society, with the medical laboratory technologists society. One of the problems that we have seen expressed to us is the whole question, for example, if there are members who have a B.Sc. but are not RTs, then they are in a Catch-22 situation because they are required to have liability insurance and to get this, without paying the high price of private insurance, which I understand can be some $800 a year, they have to apply for membership in the Canadian society, but to apply to that society, they have to have liability insurance coverage. So they can't get the coverage because they are not members of the society and they can't join the society without coverage. So as you can see, it is a loop.

I think, though, that with a little bit of work, this bill can be improved and I think the easiest thing to is just to see that during the transition period all persons who are practising medical laboratory technologists in the province should be able to apply simultaneously for membership with the college and apply at the same time for liability insurance coverage. That would resolve that problem, Mr. Speaker.

I know that certainly around the province the medical laboratory technologists and those who have been working very hard to see to it that this goes forward, particularly Sheila Stevens, who is the President of the Nova Scotia Society of Medical Laboratory Technologists, I know how hard she and her members have been working to see that this legislation comes forward. Certainly they met with our caucus. I am sure they have met with the Conservative caucus when they were in Opposition. I understand they have met with the Liberal caucus of late and they have a commitment to seeing to it that this legislation comes forward, that it is good legislation for them, that it good legislation for the province, that it benefits their community and I think that we accept this bill in that spirit because I believe that is the spirit in which the government brought it forward.

So we are prepared, Mr. Speaker, to see this go on to the Law Amendments Committee to help the government amend the legislation, to see to it that it does what I think they really want to do, which is to cover all of the laboratory technologists, to allow them to become registered members of the society and to get around that one small problem that I have noted with the legislation.

So with those brief comments, and I know with the instruction that I have managed to give to my friends in the Liberal caucus, I will now say that I will take my seat and I look forward to a further opportunity to discuss this, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member from the NDP caucus, we will be seeking legal advice from other sources as well on any pieces of legislation that are before the House.

[Page 3614]

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise to make a number of interventions, albeit they will be short, on the Medical Laboratory Technology Act, Bill No. 29. Let me say at the outset, I would like to thank the honourable minister for bringing this particular piece of legislation before the House. In general, it is a good piece of legislation, unlike the one eliminating the regional health boards and bringing in community health boards.

This is, in fact, a good piece of legislation. It is a piece of legislation that the records will show has been involved, in part, and in large measure through a rather extensive consultative process dating back some two years, and I think that, in itself, Mr. Speaker, is one of the factors I believe that helps to make this a good piece of legislation. The fact that the government of the day, i.e. the Liberal Government, listened to the stakeholders and participated in that rather extensive consultative process to ensure that all the stakeholders had their views heard. Undoubtedly, we will be hearing the views put forth by a number of individuals that will come before the Law Amendments Committee as this piece of legislation works its way through the House.

The fact this particular piece of legislation is recognizing the laboratory technologist as a professional body, is a good thing. We have anywhere from 900 to 1,000 laboratory technologists across the province, and they have been struggling with this particular issue for a number of years. I believe it would be safe to say all members of the House who were involved in government, whether on the government side or in opposition during that two-year period, could attest to the fact that submissions have been made to them, either orally or in writing, either singularly or in various groups of laboratory technologists who have come forth and ask this particular piece of legislation come and recognize laboratory technologists as being a professional body.

Mr. Speaker, what I do like about this particular piece of legislation, is much similar to that of the Law Society, the Medical Society, the Surveyors Association and a number of other self-regulatory bodies, is the fact that it is a self-regulatory body. We have peers of the laboratory technologists who are, in fact, dealing with a lot of the day-to-day matters, whether it be the issues of discipline, issues of technical or medical expertise that is required to address some of the issues that are related to this particular area of expertise, or what have you. I think it is important that we recognize that they have certainly attained full development and maturity in realizing this particular piece of legislation coming before the House.

I realize there will be ample opportunity to provide further approbation, consideration and review, and perhaps some improvements on this particular piece of legislation as it works its way through the legislative process. With that, Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to go on record as being in support of this particular piece of legislation as our Health Critic, the member for Dartmouth East, has indicated. With that, I will certainly yield the floor for further approbation.

[Page 3615]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to say a few words about Bill No. 29, and to congratulate the Minister of Health and the government for bringing it forward.

We spend a lot of time here in the Legislature talking about health care and health care services. In those discussions, we mostly focus on doctors and nurses when we talk about people who are providing services, or we talk about people on the other end, Nova Scotians who are in need of health care services. It certainly has always been my view that while doctors and nurses are a critical core of the health care services, there are other health care professionals who are equally as important in our health care system and if there is any other group that is given short shrift in those discussions about health care, it would have to be the group of health care providers that this bill applies to, the medical laboratory technicians.

[3:30 p.m.]

I think the former Minister of Health when he was speaking had an opportunity to quantify - or maybe it was the current Minister of Health - that we are talking about a sizeable group of health care providers in this province; we are talking about approximately 800 people. It is the third largest group behind nurses and doctors in the health care system. It not just their numbers and the proportion that they represent of health care providers that makes them an important group, it is what they do. I think it is very important that we understand that without the work of medical laboratory technicians, the very skilled work in arriving at various kinds of diagnostic outcomes would not be possible and not only is that work very important in terms of reaching diagnosis, but the timeliness in which their work needs to be carried out is also very important.

I don't think that there is any member here in the House who has not probably been touched personally or through family and friends with having people in the health care system. This can go from fairly routine kinds of procedures that will help you determine pregnancy, or various kinds of infections, to some of the more serious illnesses that people in our families and in our communities are confronted with.

This group of health care professionals is certainly to be recognized in a much more formal way than we have done heretofore, Mr. Speaker, and I believe that is why this bill is very important. It has been a long time in the making. I think that, if my memory serves me right, this group has been working toward this particular bill for probably six or seven years, if not longer than that. That sure is a long time to be plugging away at trying to have not only the public protected in terms of standards of practice that the minister referred to, but the recognition of your work and your ability to be somewhat of a self-regulating profession in that process of defining the standards, enforcing the standards, reviewing the standards, maintaining the standards. So I think this is indeed a very important piece of legislation.

[Page 3616]

As we have heard, this bill sets out to define the important work of medical laboratory technicians and will establish a college that will administer the bill and a board that will oversee the work of the college. Standards will be set, regulations will be put in place and decisions will be made with respect to educational requirements, licensing and the disciplinary procedures for people in the profession who fail to meet standards.

I think that it is always important when we look at legislation of this type around the regulating of a profession that we keep in mind that the conditions under which people work have a lot to do with whether or not they are able to maintain the standards that are set. While this legislation is extremely important for this group of health care providers, it will be imperative that as we enter discussion and debate about where health care is going in this province, that we always look at the kind of resources that governments are prepared to provide to the health care system so that workers can, in fact, meet the standards that have been set for them. I believe that this is a very important part of the process of professionalization of health care workers.

It is true that we have seen a number of health care providers recognized in this fashion in the last two sessions of this Legislature. In the fall, the Chiropractic Act was brought forward and this was very important for that group and prior to that we had, in the spring session, recognition and protection of the public and health care provisions for physiotherapy and occupational therapy, but I would also add my voice to a point that was raised earlier about the importance of bringing forward legislation for other health care professions that also make a tremendous contribution to health care provision.

I would like to say that I was very disappointed that the Minister of Health made a decision not to proceed with all of the work that has been done with respect to midwifery and the setting up of standards of practice in a similar way for midwives. I would say that sooner or later, this government has to come to grips with the fact that our health care system can't be like fortress Nova Scotia. We have to come to terms with the fact that other Canadians in other parts of this country have access to a whole array of health care services, including midwifery, and in fact, increasingly I think we will find that there is a significant international cultural influence on health care in this country. If you go to continental Europe and you will find that the health care system there, which is much more oriented toward wellness and diverts people into a health promotion and prevention kind of model and away from our extraordinarily expensive illness kind of model, is one where there is a whole continuum of health care services that are provided for citizens in these areas.

In those countries, there is quite a wide recognition of the important place that homeopathic and naturopathic medicine can play in offering alternative kinds of care, massage therapy, which is increasingly something that we see benefits of here in our own province, so I think that what would be really important not to lose track of is that we need to build a health care system that is very flexible and that incorporates a wide arrangement of various skills and approaches. This is something that certainly we haven't seen from this government

[Page 3617]

and the first signs, I think, of rejecting all of the work that has been done with respect to midwifery is not a very good sign.

At any rate, I think that in terms of the medical laboratory technologists, we know that there is an impending shortage of medical lab technologists in the country. This has been quantified and there are a number of reports. This would indicate a real need to get on with developing a human resource plan for health care in Nova Scotia, quite generally. We have a nursing shortage. This is something that I know the medical lab technologists and their professional association are pretty concerned about, and with good reason. If you look at that group of health care providers, many of the members of this profession right now are in their mid-40's and the number of people coming into the profession has declined. There is a real problem. We don't have any training here in Nova Scotia. We offer no training in any of our community colleges or in our universities.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: We used to.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: That is right. The member for Halifax Fairview says we used to and indeed we did provide training to this group in the past. I believe a lot of work has happened more recently to incorporate this group into a baccalaureate program over at Dalhousie in the Faculty of Health Professions and, for whatever reason, that program didn't go forward with this particular group included in it.

I think that while Bill No. 29 is a very good start in terms of recognizing this profession and putting in place the mechanisms for standards, we need to encourage the Minister of Health to go further and ensure that there are strong educational opportunities and training, and a program to recruit, train and retain people who are interested in this particular field of health care provision.

Mr. Speaker, that concludes the points that I wanted to make on this bill. I understand that there may be some technical difficulties with certain aspects of the bill and no doubt those will be ironed out in the Law Amendments Committee process. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate on Bill No. 29.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the bill has the support of the other two Parties. As we said earlier, this has been a wish for the technologists for some time and we are delighted to finally be able to move it into the legislative arena where this can indeed become a self-governing profession. I do recognize that there is at least one clause in there that could be reworked and I have instructed our solicitor, in conjunction with the Clerk of the House, to make a change in one of those clauses which I think will incorporate a

[Page 3618]

number of the concerns that were expressed by the members of the New Democratic Party and, as well, the members of the Liberal Party.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased now to move second reading of the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 29. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[3:45 p.m.]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 36.

Bill No. 36 - The Scots: The North British Society Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I wish to introduce Bill No. 36, The Scots: The North British Society Act, An Act to Amend Chapter 86 of the Acts of 1858, An Act to Incorporate the North British Society in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, if I may, this amendment to the North British Society Act comes as a result of a request from The Scots: The North British Society, founded in 1768. The original request came from the President, Mr. William Lewis, Ph.D., in association with discussions I have had with the Senior Assistant Vice-President Donald Macleod, and the Junior Assistant Vice-President, David Cameron.

If I could beg the indulgence of the House very briefly to give you some background. The North British Society institution started back in 1768 and has in its list of members some very distinguished Nova Scotians. I would like to refer to a couple of them. In 1784, the list

[Page 3619]

of members included such reputable and honourable Nova Scotians as the Reverend Thomas Russell, and in 1786, an honourable member of the society was Mr. Peter Muir. In 1810, another honourable member was Mr. Richard Scott and Mr. James Scott. Back in 1826, it also included Mr. James Purves. As you can see there are some very honourable members in this society, and I am pleased to be able to move second reading of the bill. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham for an introduction.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in the gallery, I would like to introduce to members, Paulette Sadoway, who is a resident of the North End of Halifax and works for the Canadian Labour Congress and has been very active organizing around the International March on Poverty that is coming up quite shortly. She was my campaign manager. Paulette. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and offer a few comments on this particular piece of legislation, An Act to Amend Chapter 86 of the Acts of 1858, An Act to Incorporate the North British Society in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I am a little perplexed at the opening comments by my colleague, the member for Dartmouth South. He indicated in his opening remarks that he was introducing the bill. I guess, like most novice members in the House, will have to recognize that he is on second reading. He will eventually become familiar with the Rules of the House, as has been noted from his inexperience on a previous date, that he is not totally familiar with the Rules of the House; even more so, on the principle of this particular piece of legislation, it would appear, because it is not quite clear exactly what the honourable member is attempting to achieve here. Perhaps when we are closing debate on second reading, he would do that or, if, in fact, the opportunity presents itself when it goes on to the Private and Local Bills Committee that the honourable member or some interested party to this particular piece of legislation would have an opportunity to clarify.

As I am interpreting the principle of this particular piece of legislation, the honourable member is, in fact, trying to change the name of this society from one name to another. It would appear that if we are changing the name, the North British Society in Halifax to another name, the North British Society, it would appear the honourable member is trying to broaden the scope and the dynamics of this particular society to include all of Nova Scotia. If that is the case, certainly that would have quite an impact on the Celtics in Cape Breton of which I am one. (Interruption) Well, I am half Scotch and half Irish, so I can claim dual citizenship. I can claim some ownership to the some 86 Irish individuals who came to Main-à-Dieu, back around 1806 or thereabouts. They were banished from Ireland, supposedly for a number of nefarious activities, like probably taking off with a loaf of break to feed their

[Page 3620]

family, or something very criminal that would have given them one of two options. Either they could have stayed in Ireland and be hung or they could come over to Main-à-Dieu and take a chance on making a go at fishing; 86 families.

The fact of the matter is, they were the first settlers in Main-à-Dieu at that particular point in time and, as time went on, they started to intermarry with the Scots, who were further inland. Lo and behold came a lot of rather interesting interactions over the years, partly to the end result of which people like myself arrived here in the House of Assembly.

I guess what my submission to the honourable member is if he is expanding the scope of his particular organization from Halifax to the entire province, if he would be kind enough to explain what his intent is. He hasn't been clear on that, other than the fact that certain individuals or groups of individuals have come and made representation that they want this particular piece of legislation, or this group change in name.

Nowhere in Nova Scotia could the Celtic history be any more pronounced than that in Pictou County, because, as all senior members of the House would certainly recognize, the history and traditions of the Scots who came on the good ship Hector, back several years ago, I think they may want to have something to say about this particular piece of legislation.

All the Celtic folks down through Inverness, and I know the Minister of Tourism and Culture is from Inverness, many of those folks down through Inverness, and you go over to Victoria County, my good friend, the honourable member for Victoria, who is a direct descendant of giant Angus MacAskill, I am sure he would like to offer some interventions on this particular piece of legislation and the impact it would have on their clans. There were two groups, there were the highlanders and the lowlanders.

Again, I think it is important for the honourable member for Dartmouth South to clarify exactly what he is attempting to achieve here. Is the fact that he is trying to take the entire Scottish culture and have it as a capitulated factor of Great Britain? I don't know, I am not sure. We all know of the long and strained relationship between England and Scotland and Ireland, and I think the massive struggle that the Scotch people have had in recent generations for their own self-autonomy, would certainly attest to that. As we well know, if you go over to Great Britain, if you take in Great Britain and Scotland, then those two areas together would be about the same size as Nova Scotia in land mass and, yet, they have, in total, about 7.5 million people, of which some 2.5 million are Scots, from Scotland.

What exactly is the honourable member trying to achieve with this particular piece of legislation? I am sure the honourable member had good intentions when he brought this piece of legislation before the House, but if he is trying to expand some type of a British dominance over the Celtics by suggesting the Scots, the North British Society, well then perhaps the honourable member should clarify that. Or is it simply that he is trying to amend the

[Page 3621]

legislation with a lot of other factors, because it is an amendment to Chapter 86? I am not sure exactly where he is intending to go with this particular piece of legislation.

Sometimes it is not what is said in the legislation, it is what is not said in the legislation and that can have a profound impact and I, as a Scot, Mr. Speaker, would take great offence to that. I wish great health to the honourable member, as we would say in Scottish terms, slàinte mhath. We are very pleased for him to have a good and healthy day and we wish him well, but we are not going to wish him well if there is something in here that doesn't meet the acid test.

Mr. Speaker, I know the honourable member for Halifax Needham, with her strong Scotch-Celtic background, is from the eastern tip of Cape Breton Island. I am not sure which side of the water her boat came in on but I believe she has very strong Celtic roots in that end of the province. I think it would have been nice if the honourable member had at least consulted with members of a Celtic background here in the House rather than just trying to slip this particular piece of legislation in. It seem so innocuous. It seems so timid and tame but the honourable member, I think perhaps, may just be responding to the call of a particular individual or groups of individuals who would like to achieve some agenda that is unknown to all members of this House.

Mr. Speaker, I can probably stand in this House and say that I am now a fifth-generation Scot with direct descendants to the lowlands of Scotland. We were sheep farmers back in Scotland and we were sheep farmers right up until about 10 years or 15 years ago when the economics of sheep farming didn't make it all that feasible. (Interruption) We don't want to be sheepish on this legislation, that is for sure. I hear the honourable member making some good interventions here. It would be important if the honourable member, in the spirit of cooperation and sincerity, would please explain why the dynamics of changing the title of this particular piece of legislation is so important to him and to the particular vested group that he represents because if you don't have a Celtic background, then it would be very difficult to understand.

I am sure all members of this House who have various backgrounds, some Scotch, Irish, Welsh, French, great Acadian . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: English.

MR. MACKINNON: English, absolutely. We are all proud of our family backgrounds, Mr. Speaker, and I think it is very important that we not overlook or be insensitive to these respective clans of people.

As many may or may not be aware - and I think it is a good opportunity for some education on this particular issue - at one particular point in time Cape Breton County was not just Cape Breton County as we include it today, it included all of Cape Breton Island and

[Page 3622]

as far west as Guysborough and Antigonish Counties. That was the original Cape Breton County in Nova Scotia. So, when you refer to the Scots of Cape Breton County, you are not just talking about the people of Cape Breton County, vis-à-vis Victoria County, Richmond and Inverness, it was one county. In fact, prior to 1784, Cape Breton Island was its own colony and it wasn't until it was annexed . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Until the causeway was built.

MR. MACKINNON: That is right, during that period, it was taken over against the will of the people in Cape Breton and the Scots were in the forefront. They fought legislatively to take issue with the British rule even though they recognized the fact that this takeover of political, social and economic autonomy was done unconstitutionally, and that was recognized in Great Britain at that time, but the great wisdom of Great Britain, the Lords of London and the parliamentarians in the British Parliament, said that is true. (Interruption)

[4:00 p.m.]

There are members in this House, Mr. Speaker, who have been overwhelmed by this rather interesting intervention. I guess the good reverend has been floored by some of my comments, perhaps he has a little bit of a British background there and he is a bit sensitive to some of my comments. The fact that the British people recognize that even though Cape Breton was taken over, annexed against the law of the land by following due process, they equally stated that it was in the best interest of the Province of Nova Scotia because of the resources.

Up until about 65 or 70 years ago, Mr. Speaker, 75 per cent to 80 per cent of all the tax revenues that were generated in the Province of Nova Scotia came from the resources of Cape Breton Island. So you can see why it was so important for British rule to prevail over the protestations of small groups of individuals; albeit they were in great number in small communities of the province, but the fact of the matter is the people of Cape Breton did not have a choice. Although the majority of them were Scots and Irish, the British rule prevailed.

I would ask the honourable member, in the spirit of cooperation and being respectful for the history, the traditions, the rights and the privileges of all members in this House, particularly for the Minister of Tourism, who sits right next to the member for Dartmouth South, would stand up for the rights of the Scotch people and don't be timid. He gave up on the Orange Blossom Special less than a week ago, the train passing through, so at some point in time he has to put the brakes on and find out what is he going to do for the Scotch people in this province and find out if this is not just another agenda that the honourable member for Dartmouth South doesn't understand or he pretends is just a superficial presentation on name change only.

[Page 3623]

Mr. Speaker, I could continue for the rest of my hour, but I think I have made my point. I have made it rather interesting for the honourable member for Dartmouth South to understand that when he makes a change like this, it is just not Halifax that is being affected all the time, it is all the Scotch people from across Nova Scotia. What about the people in Pictou County and Antigonish, where we have the Highland Games? Would the honourable member go down to Antigonish and introduce this particular piece of legislation and not consult - absolutely not. He says he would.

Well, Mr. Speaker, that is symptomatic of what is wrong with this government. They are grooming new talent. As the senior members fall off the chess board, as times get tough with the budget coming and so on, what will happen? We have members like the member for Dartmouth South whose idol has always has been Rollie Thornhill. He tries to personify that image at every available opportunity and he really wants to be a Minister of the Crown. Perhaps he may be the next Minister of Tourism and Culture. Perhaps the member for Inverness better be very watchful. He may be next on the list. So if that is the type of consultation, he says he would do this without consulting with people, then I would beg of the Premier to be very cautious on a future day because the good ship Hector brought a lot of his forefathers to Pictou County. I know he was taught by some good Scottish people through his early educational days. I am sure the honourable Premier would want to stand up for the rights of Scottish people and not have their rights, as I have said on a previous date, suppressed, repressed, compressed, oppressed, depressed, whatever which you would like to put it. (Interruption) Absolutely not. The Premier is very sensitive to this particular piece of legislation as well, Mr. Speaker.

So you can see that as time goes by, the more we debate this piece of legislation, the more the honourable members on the government benches come to understand. I am sure if we were very vigilant, we would see the Minister of Labour come into this House tomorrow with his Celtic tie. He would be very proud to defend the rights of the Scots in Antigonish. (Interruption) Well, he could bring some Scotch.

The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, I will certainly be reserving decision on this particular piece of legislation. The dominance of British parliamentary rule and British dominance over certain cultures and communities has met with great resistance. I would think the honourable member for Dartmouth South would have realized that. It certainly did not work in Scotland for generations. It didn't work under Henry VIII, when Mr. Cromwell went out and suppressed and basically annihilated hundreds upon thousands of Celtics across rural Scotland, the highlands and lowlands. Did they give up the torch? Not a bit, they stood their ground. The Irish have been fighting for their rights for generations, for as long as we can remember anything about the Irish Celtic culture because there is an Irish Gaelic as well as there is a Scots Gaelic. Perhaps the honourable member for Dartmouth South did not realize that.

[Page 3624]

These are the types of things, Mr. Speaker, that we have to be very vigilant on. I would ask the honourable member for Dartmouth South if he intends to pursue this particular Private Member's Bill, that he would explain why the importance of expanding the scope of the title to include all of Nova Scotia, when in fact, it was initially designed for the North British Society in Halifax. With those comments, I will look for further intervention.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I have to admit, the honourable member for Cape Breton West does make some good points. It will be interesting to know more about the purpose of this bill. When the honourable member from the government side introduced the bill he rhymed off a long list of names of men, and it would suggest that perhaps this society was a men's club, and I certainly don't think that is the case, Mr. Speaker. I don't think it is the case, because I myself, have been a member of that very club. Like all good Scots, though, I must say, I didn't purchase that membership myself. It was a gift. It was quite a delightful gift to receive. I received it from a very lovely couple who are since deceased, but who were strong members of the North British Society for many years, Sarah and Stan MacKenzie.

I can remember very well going to my first event with the North British Society of Halifax here in Halifax on Robbie Burns Day. I was sitting at a table with a very friendly group of people who were quite anxious to initiate a new member. Mr. Speaker, one of the people at the table asked me if I had attended the annual general meeting earlier that day. I said, well, no, I hadn't been able to attend the annual general meeting. He told me, well, it was really too bad that I hadn't because the business that day would have been quite edifying for a new member; for example, the financial statement I was told indicated that the North British Society in Halifax still had the first dollar that they ever had. I was told that there were decisions made that day to dispose of some paupers' graves, because members of the North British Society didn't know any paupers anymore. We had quite a delightful discussion about the retention of some of the basic Scottish values and features of Scottish culture that seem to permeate this particular organization in various ways.

That night, of course, we had the serving of the haggis, which I have to admit, Mr. Speaker, is not exactly to my liking. However, there was quite a bit of fine music and great toasts with all of the proper beverages that should accompany those kinds of toasts, so it was quite an interesting evening.

This particular society, Mr. Speaker, for a number of years now has been hosting, in Halifax, annually, on the July weekend, the Canada Day weekend, highland games over near the Wanderers Grounds. These games have become increasing popular and the attendance at them has gone up every year.

[Page 3625]

I have to admit that our caucus hasn't actually caucused on this bill but I don't think that we will have any difficulty seeing it go forward at least to have an opportunity for members of the public, including all of those Scots from outside the metropolitan area who may have some concern about the intention here, the change in title and what exactly is being proposed and why, so they can come forward and have their say. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my remarks will be very brief today on this piece of legislation. Normally, they would be brief anyway but when you have a piece of legislation like that is before us here that you don't know what it is trying to achieve, as I keep talking I might make myself look a little like not knowing as much as I would like to make people believe. As for the former speaker, particularly the member for Cape Breton West, has said, other than a name change, what else is here? I guess that is what we want to find out and maybe, as he said, the member who introduced the piece of legislation will (Interruption) but I am sure he has something in mind and for that reason, if he didn't have something in mind, it wouldn't be here. So we have to give him credit for that, at least, that we have a piece of legislation before us that there is some intent. So, probably by the time it comes back from the Law Amendments Committee, we may understand a little more about it.

I suppose I don't have to stand here very long to give the House my history and my role as a Scot is not great for the most part but indeed I come from a rich history of Scots down in the St. Ann's Bay area where, indeed, we have a lot of Scottish activities. We have the only Gaelic College in North America, where we see a lot of Scots and we see a lot of kilts and we hear a lot of bagpipes and we hear a lot of fiddles and, indeed, it is a tradition and a culture that is very dear to the hearts of all Cape Bretoners, indeed, people from all across the world, Mr. Speaker, come to our great Island for that very culture.

[4:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, it would appear that the amendment is to Chapter 86 and that is a name change and of course we wonder why we need a name change but, however, as we will hear from the honourable member when he closes debate of the bill, or when we see it come back from the Law Amendments Committee we will understand what the bill is all about.

Mr. Speaker, further to our history of the Scots on Cape Breton Island, I am sure many of you will know, and I am sure our colleague from Antigonish, the honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs, has also a long history and background in the Scottish tradition coming from the highland part of Nova Scotia as it is known and indeed, many hours in my former years I spent at the Highland Games in Antigonish, just a great weekend and several good days, and we have seen lots of activity there relative to the culture and the traditions of the Scottish people. I used to be fascinated by the heavyweights, the caber toss, the hammer and

[Page 3626]

there are several other, and it was always interesting to see the determination and the willingness to excel from the Scottish people at these Games. It was interesting and it was indeed a very enjoyable event.

So with those few comments, Mr. Speaker, I will conclude, and hopefully the honourable member will explain and as this moves forward he will probably add something in the closing of the bill; if not I will tell Mr. Thornhill when I see him on the weekend that we were having trouble with our honourable member for Dartmouth and he is not paying heed to the Scots in this House and he will find himself in a bit of hot water.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will close my remarks.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: I do want to speak briefly on the bill because I agree with my colleague, the member for Victoria, that in fact there is a concern with respect to what this bill actually does. Is it simply a name change of the society in the bill and, if that is the case, I think it might have been quite appropriate for the member, since this is a Private Member's Bill, to introduce to this Legislative Assembly some background information with respect to this society.

I think it is extremely important for us to become knowledgeable about all the societies that exist within our province. It becomes extremely important if in fact private members are going to bring in bills that will eventually become legislation, that will have an impact upon the way societies function or upon the way Nova Scotians view these societies, then I think it is important for members of this Legislative Assembly to become aware and be knowledgeable about their role historically, the functions that they have held within our community and within our province.

Mr. Speaker, having said that I would hope that in final summation from the honourable member for Dartmouth South, who in fact has brought this Private Member's Bill forward, that the honourable member will enlighten members of the Legislative Assembly as to exactly what the intent is. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable member for Dartmouth South it will be to close debate.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to make some remarks to close the debate in second reading. I find it quite incredible, some of the comments from the member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 3627]

I must say I am a Welshman by birth and proud of it, but I must say that the member talks about how I don't understand the legislation. The fact is I understand the difference between Scots and Scotch, which is something the honourable member obviously doesn't, because he kept referring to Scotch when he was talking about the bill. Scotch, for his benefit, is something you drink, not something you read.

It is interesting, too, Mr. Speaker, that in introducing this bill, (Interruption) this bill came as a result of an intervention from the president . . .

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, obviously, (Interruption) Yes, a point of order and a point of personal privilege, obviously the honourable member has displayed his lack of knowledge and understanding and quite candidly, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member has displayed his ignorance about the Celtic culture by his comments here just momentarily. If someone says you are Scotch, then you are Scotch. If someone says you are a Scot, you are a Scot. Obviously, he doesn't understand the language or the culture and he has demonstrated that quite ably. I would suspect that the honourable member would show a little more respect for the Celtic culture and withdraw his comments because I think they are an insult to the Celtic culture.

MR. SPEAKER: On the point of order, the honourable member for Cape Breton West has requested that the honourable member for Dartmouth South withdraw his comments. I believe the comment that the honourable member for Cape Breton West is referring to is the Scotch and Scots comment. I will ask the honourable member if he wants to withdraw that comment, and the honourable member for Dartmouth South does have the floor.

MR. OLIVE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Far be it for me to infer any negative comments on the honourable member and, certainly I will withdraw it, not admitting the so-called ignorance that he talks about, but out of courtesy to the honourable member.

It amazes me, Mr. Speaker. This is a democracy and it is a wonderful thing. I wonder if it was anybody else, possibly somebody of Scottish heritage introducing this amendment whether there would be a debate on the second reading, since my information leads me to believe that this is the first time in 25 years that there has been a debate on second reading on a Private and Local Bill. I am quite honoured (Interruption) Well, Mr. Speaker, my information tells me that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, and not trying to be confrontational, Mr. Speaker, but I have been in this Chamber for a few years as has the Government House Leader and the Minister of Finance. I am sure that they will both concur with me that on second reading of Private Members' Bills, we have had some considerable discussions on

[Page 3628]

second reading on a number of bills in the past. I just add that comment in order to be helpful to the member for Dartmouth South.

MR. SPEAKER: I would thank the honourable member for the clarification. The honourable member for Dartmouth South, again you do have the floor.

MR. OLIVE: I thank the honourable member opposite for the clarification. It is amazing. Sometimes your research is not what it is supposed to be, is it? (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to go back to a statement I made earlier for the clarification and edification of the members opposite. This request for this change came from The Scots: The North British Society, itself. It came from the president. (Interruption) You are quite right, and I would just like to refer to the bill itself which clearly states the North British Society in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Every ordinary member resident in the City of Halifax, associate members shall consist of those whose place of residence is more than 20 miles from Halifax, ordinary members removing more than 20 miles from the city may be placed on the list of associate members if they so desire.

So, if the honourable member for Cape Breton West probably had done a little more homework, he might have realized where this association is based and what its role is in the Halifax region. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, when the Opposition talks about the Scots and the history, I didn't hear them quoting from any venerable Scottish individuals, only from their own information and, in doing my research, which is something I did do this time, on this particular issue, back on November 30, 1950, at the 183rd Annual Festival of St. Andrew, of which the member for Halifax Needham spoke, although I don't think she was there then, there was a response to the toast from the Honourable Mr. Justice, J. K. MacKay.

Mr. Speaker, if I could beg leave of the House, I would just like to give you a little bit of information quoted from Mr. Justice MacKay, because his response to the toast was so important to the Scottish people that they decided to have it published. Justice MacKay goes on to say, "On St. Andrew's Day, Scots throughout the world are united in heart and sentiment by one of the most powerful ties known to mankind -- that of blood, of race, of loyalty, of sacrifice and of lofty and ambitious desire -- bonds indisolubly linked together because they are of the pith and substance of certain attributes . . . Since its earliest history Scotland maintained a sturdy and rugged independence. Empires rise and fall, kings, tyrants and conquerors come and go, but Scotland has contrived throughout the centuries to preserve her ancient love of freedom and her passionate avowal of the dignity and nobility of our common humanity."

[Page 3629]

Mr. Speaker, it is statements like that of the fine Scots that we have in Nova Scotia that helped build our province, that organizations such as the Scots, the North British Society are trying to maintain and, at the same time, keep up with the modern changes that are happening in society, thus the request for the change to the Act. There is no hidden agenda here. It doesn't affect any honourable members opposite. It is as a request of the society. I was asked to place it in front of the House on their behalf. I would have to presume that all members who have such a great interest in this society have attended a recent meeting, since 1850, at least, to find out the nuts and bolts of the society and what it actually does in Halifax. If you haven't, I would suggest you contact Mr. Lewis, the President, and I am sure he would be more than pleased to have you enjoy and imbibe the interests and the camaraderie of their organization and, perhaps, next time, we wouldn't get into quite a discussion on issues which the members, having not been involved in the society, seem to be somewhat lax in having the accurate information.

On that note, Mr. Speaker, I would move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 36. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 41.

Bill No. 41 - Hantsport Memorial Community Centre Financial Assistance (2000) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, this bill has nothing to do with the Scottish settlers or the Hector or anything to do with Scotland. It has a lot to do, however, with a place called Churchill House. I don't know if people are aware of Churchill House. It is not a museum run by the Department of Education, but it is a gorgeous old house that was built by a gentleman who was in the shipbuilding trade and he built this mansion that has painted ceilings and stabling for horses and all those kinds of things that come along with wealth.

[Page 3630]

Anyway, when he died - and the last Churchill, by the way, in Hantsport was named Winston Churchill - when the last Churchill passed away, the mansion was left to the Town of Hantsport. Periodically, whenever capital expenditures are required on that particular historic home, Mr. Speaker, the Town of Hantsport requests permission to grant to the society that runs Churchill House as the municipal centre certain sums of money for repairs.

[4:30 p.m.]

In this particular case, Mr. Speaker, they are asking to give to Churchill House, or the Hantsport Memorial Community Centre, the sum of $100,000 to be repaid at the rate of $33,000 per year for the next three years. As I say, this has been done several times to my knowledge over the past many years and it seems like every 5 to 10 years or so they come along and make this request. I am pleased on behalf of the Council of the Municipal Unit of Hantsport and the Hantsport Memorial Community Association to move second reading of Bill No. 41.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I am just going to speak briefly to this bill. I guess the honourable member who is posing this bill had already made mention of the fact that I believe that this must have been a bill that comes with the endorsement of the municipality and the municipality must have had a public meeting with respect to the discussion about this because, in fact, it has an impact upon the taxes that will be levied or assessed to the property owners of that municipality.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I would assume that the honourable minister who, in fact, is bringing this bill forward, obviously, has had conversation with those individuals and particularly with the community and probably . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: As a resolution.

MR. PYE: . . . as a resolution as well. So I don't see this as out of the norm in my involvement in local municipal government. Previously, there were times when, in fact, the Legislature has been asked to enact legislation to assist community organizations and centres by way of this very practice. So, Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I will be looking forward to this bill going on to the Private and Local Bills Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I rise to make a number of short interventions on this particular piece of legislation. It is a very important piece of legislation, not only for the people of Hantsport and the Hantsport Memorial Community Centre organization, but in particular there is a much broader issue here. That deals with

[Page 3631]

municipalities providing exemptions and making provision for particular community interest groups; certain tax exemptions or allotment of certain sources of revenue for their particular entity.

Mr. Speaker, as I read this particular piece of legislation, nothing became any more vivid in my mind than what happened in the former Town of Glace Bay prior to its amalgamation in regional government. There were more exemptions and special provisions made for community-based organizations, I am sure, in this particular one municipality than any other municipality in the Province of Nova Scotia on a per capita basis. That had a profound impact on the bottom line when it came to setting the tax rate for residential, commercial and industrial entities in the respective municipality.

While the honourable Government House Leader supports this particular legislation, obviously he does because he is introducing it, it is certainly a piece of legislation that is near and dear to his heart because it is within the confines of his particular constituency. Mr. Speaker, we have to look at the big picture and not constantly be looking at the demands of local entities in isolation. If that consideration has been given, well, that is fine, I support this; but if it is going to have an impact on the tax rate that is going to be set on all the municipalities across this province, then I think that the honourable Government House Leader has a responsibility to indicate to all members of the House how it will impact. (Interruptions) Some members are saying that won't be the case, but when you start making special provisions to make allotments up to the extent of $33,000 in each year for each of the next three fiscal years, you are talking about close to $100,000. How anybody can say that doesn't have an impact on the tax rate is beyond me, particularly in a small municipality, such as in the Town of Hantsport.

Mr. Speaker, time and time again, when members would come before this House with Private Members' Bills, asking for provision to make a grant or a tax exemption for a particular community-based group or organization, or, in fact, even when Private Members' Bills where introduced to make provision for retiring wardens and mayors in the Province of Nova Scotia, for their respective municipalities, to make provision for pension packages for these retiring officials, time and time again, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and/or the Minister of Finance would stand in his/her place and state that they had a problem with this and it was part of a global problem.

Mr. Speaker, I can recall going back, when Premier Buchanan was in the House, and he spoke on these issues, and the Minister of Municipal Affairs of the day, the honourable David Nantes spoke on these particular issues, and the honourable Tom McInnis, when he was Minister of Municipal Affairs. There is history to this, and for a government that is coming in and saying that every penny is important, every tax dollar is important to the people of Nova Scotia, I think it is important to look at the dynamics of what the implications of this particular piece of legislation are, and not just for Hantsport. If it is good for this particular organization and it helps this organization to continue to do many of the good deeds that it

[Page 3632]

has been doing over the last number of years, then fine, I support that, but we also have to look at it in conjunction with what it does with the municipal dollars that are allotted to all the various municipalities across the Province of Nova Scotia, particularly the smaller ones in the southwest part of the province or in the northeast part of the province.

It is not so bad in the Halifax Regional Municipality or the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, where you have two large entities, and on a percentage basis, such an initiative would be of very small consequence. But when you go to Barrington or Annapolis Royal or wherever you would like to travel, in some of these small communities in rural Nova Scotia, it does have an impact on the bottom line.

The Government House Leader is fortunate to be able to use his persuasive powers and his position in government to support his community, but what about the impact on the backbenchers on the government caucus that represent these small communities? What is going to happen to the tax rates? What happens when the budget comes in and the Minister of Municipal Affairs turns around and says, oh, we can't afford to give any more money? What is happening in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, when you have a municipal unit that is saying, we have a shortfall of about $5 million; and the Minister of Municipal Affairs says, well, we are working with them, but there are no dollars on the table? How can we afford to give to one and not the other?

Mr. Speaker, these are the questions, in a sense of fairness and honesty, that we have to ask ourselves. In the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, we have a projection of a $25.4 million shortfall over the next three to four years. Yet the Government House Leader is fortunate enough to be able to use his persuasive political powers because he is a senior member in the government to provide special tax provision, a special benefit for an interest group in his constituency. Now I think that is wrong. Now I support community groups in just about any constituency in this province, Mr. Speaker, but I think it is wrong.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: I wonder if the honourable member would be aware of the fact that the originating body that is requesting this assistance - the Hantsport Memorial Community Centre - is actually a body composed of the municipality, as well as the people of the Town of Hantsport? The people of Hantsport have supported this institution since, I believe it is 1957 (Interruption) 1948 is it, thank you very much. I don't think that is true though, I think it is 1957. But anyway, Mr. Speaker, I would assure the honourable member that I will certainly pass his remarks on to the Mayor and the Council and the people of Hantsport with regard to their interest in this particular project.

[Page 3633]

MR. SPEAKER: I don't know if there was a question in there but (Interruption) All right.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the honourable Government House Leader's intervention. Yes, I am aware of the supporting entities to this particular piece of legislation. The municipality for the Town of Hantsport is a municipal unit, the same as all the other municipal partners with the UNSM. Now, is the honourable Government House Leader, suggesting that this is going to now become the norm, that individual members can come and do piecemeal legislation on financial matters that affect all partners within the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities? Is this what the honourable Government House Leader is saying?

What happens down in Barrington, where the tax base is very small? What happens in Annapolis? What happens in Pictou? What happens in these rural municipalities where the economy is not as great as it may be in other parts of the province, the more affluent sectors? Is this what the honourable Government House Leader is asking, that we start doing piecemeal? I would suggest that perhaps he is wrong on that, Mr. Speaker.

Do I take issue with supporting such worthwhile organizations as the Hantsport Memorial Community Centre? No, I do not, I support them, but I also support fair play on issues of taxation. If the Minister of Municipal Affairs will stand and suggest that he is going to support this legislation with a provision that all municipalities be enabled to do a similar type initiative and that certainly if there is an impact on the bottom line, when he makes his allocation of funds to all the municipal bodies across this province, that he will certainly guarantee that not just constituencies where senior government members are sitting will get preferential treatment, to the detriment of all other municipalities because they may not have a Cabinet Minister or they may not have a member sitting on the government side. That is all I am saying, Mr. Speaker.

We have classic example after classic example. I pointed out what happened in Glace Bay. The number of exemptions and special provisions made for various interest groups and organizations in that municipality just about bankrupted that municipality. Many of them, mind you, were made in contradiction to the Municipal Act.

Mr. Speaker, the government of the day, the Honourable John Buchanan, did nothing about it. So that is why I think it is important that at least if the government is going to approve this particular piece of legislation, and they can do it, they have the numbers, but I think we should be rather open and transparent about this process, make sure we know what we are doing here. Are we going to compensate the Cape Breton Regional Municipality with an equal $99,000 differential?

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the honourable member for Cape Breton West would entertain two questions. Question number one is a concern, far be it from me to speak for the citizens of Hantsport or the Town of Hantsport but I would ask the honourable

[Page 3634]

member, is he implying that what the citizens of Hantsport do will have a financial impact upon all Nova Scotian municipalities? Number 2, has this not been a practice by previous governments and this Legislative Assembly to allow municipalities to offer grant concessions when necessary?

[4:45 p.m.]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, they are two excellent questions. Number 1, what I am suggesting, and it is quite evident that it does have a financial impact on all other municipalities, because if the Town of Hantsport is foregoing tax revenue, then it has to make up those dollars somewhere else. Either it is going to increase taxes, or it is going to have to get more money from the provincial government, from the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs. I am not sure if the Government House Leader will have the persuasive powers with the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs to ensure there is a few extra bucks in the allotment for Hantsport at the end of the year or not. I don't know if he will use his political persuasive powers or not. Has it been a practice in the past? Yes, it has, and that is what has got us into some of the problems we are facing here today. There has been too much of that piecemeal, too much of it, on various political administrations, mind you. I am not going to be partisan or parochial on this, the facts speak for themselves. But, Mr. Speaker, actions have been taken in recent years to curb that, and in recent years the ministers have spoken in the House and indicated this is wrong.

Perhaps the minister, if it goes on to the Private and Local Bills Committee, which I strongly suspect, would entertain an amendment to ensure that if there is a requirement for additional tax revenues that will be reflected in the tax rate for Hantsport and not taken out of the till, when you look at the big picture for all other 57 municipalities across this province because I think it is wrong that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, who is also the Government House Leader, and I believe - I stand to be corrected - he is Chairman of Planning and Priorities, using his political persuasive powers to make sure that his constituents are looked after. That is great, that is what we are hired to do, fight for our constituents first and foremost. That is the whole premise of responsible government, an MLA has to stand up for his constituents over and above all competing interests. Mr. Speaker, things have evolved quite a bit over the last 100 years, and I think the honourable Government House Leader knows that, and he knows this may be a very politically popular piece of legislation in Hantsport, but it does have an impact on the bottom line.

In Guysborough, where dollars are extremely tight, how many times the submission had been made for additional funding because of the economic collapse of that municipality, that is why I rose to speak on this particular piece of legislation; not because I am against the Town of Hantsport; not because I am against this particular worthwhile organization. The Government House Leader may try to spin it around and say, oh, I will be glad to send your comments down because you know those bad old Liberals, they are against you, and that is

[Page 3635]

why you should continue to vote for me. That is not the issue and the honourable Government House Leader knows that.

He is using his position in government to get an unfair advantage for his constituents. I hope he will do the same for all of the government backbenchers, I hope he will allow the same thing when other members from other political Parties bring Private Members' Bills before this House, if that is going to be the norm. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs should have something to say on this. Is he going to give us the quality assurance? I dare say, I would bet you a dime to a donut - of course we are not allowed to bet, we are politicians - but I would suggest that the honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs will not speak on this particular piece of legislation because he knows deep down that I am right.

There are only so many dollars in the kitty. If you are going to take it and give special advantage to one, you have to be taking it from somebody else. So, silence must be guilt and those with the smaller, weaker municipalities that have the advantage of the Government House Leader, of a senior minister, of the Chairman of Planning and Priorities in this government, will have to resort to getting in line and hoping that the pecking order will come down to them some day.

I am very disappointed that the Government House Leader would resort to the good old days of politics, this type of legislation, trying to curry favour with the electorate. I thought we had risen above that. I thought that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, with all the restructuring that had taken place and the accountability processes that had been put in place over the last number of years would have at least taken notice if not taken issue with this particular piece of legislation.

This government will stand in its place tomorrow and say, we have to tighten the belt, money is not there, it is tight, everybody has to share the pain, except for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works who is going to give a special little commitment to his constituency. That is not fair play. In my view, that is not being true to the objectives of good, honest, open accountable government. That is resorting to the good old days and well this minister should know because he has had lots of experience of it.

Mr. Speaker, no, I will not be voting for this particular piece of legislation in the final analysis, unless there are some accountability processes addressed by at least the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs. I am not going to allow this just to slide through, for the good old days to come back again. We have come too far and I believe the people, even here in the Halifax Regional Municipality, I haven't seen the Halifax Regional Municipality, since its incorporation, come to this House looking for these special deals. They have had problems to deal with, funding for the library, making choices of financial priorities, but they didn't

[Page 3636]

capitulate because they have demonstrated the leadership that was required to deal with some of these issues.

If it is the type of piecemeal legislation that the honourable Government House Leader wants, he knows and all members of this House know, they have the numbers to do it, but he can spin doctor it all he likes, this is not an issue about being against Hantsport or this organization. This is a much more saline, almost to the point of being sinister, twist on how we (Interruption) Salient, yes, I am sorry, I said saline, didn't I?

MR. OLIVE: You did.

MR. MACKINNON: So be mindful of the member for Dartmouth South who is very sensitive about using the right words. Mr. Speaker, I think that the honourable Government House Leader should explain to his caucus colleagues. He certainly has no intentions of explaining any further to the members of the Opposition on this. I would like to know how it is going to impact on the bottom line for all members in their respective constituencies?

If we are going to do it for one, Mr. Speaker, I would hope that the honourable Government House Leader in his closing remarks will stand in his place and say that this opportunity will be afforded to all members and that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs will not interject on a future day and say, no, that municipality cannot afford it or, no, that is going to have an impact on the bottom line, on the big picture. I have seen it happen before. I have seen it happen before and they can read their papers, they cannot take notice of the reality of the situation, but it will not go away. It will not go away and it will become even more apparent tomorrow when they introduce their budget.

Part of that budget, Mr. Speaker, will be issues of financial accountability that will be addressed through the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs. Now, why is a senior member of this government using his political position to give an unfair advantage? That is the question that has to be answered.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Government House Leader, it is to close debate on Bill No. 41.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to respond to the last speaker. It is just not worthy of response. I have never heard in this House so much nonsense in my life. Obviously, the man cannot even read English.

Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 41.

[Page 3637]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 41. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 32.

Bill No. 32 - Water Resources Protection Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Justice, I would like to move second reading of Bill No. 32. I have some remarks that he was going to make preparatory to bringing this bill forward. I will take notes during his absence. He is chairing the Law Amendments Committee at the present time, but I am sure he will be back here before this bill finally comes to a vote on second reading. As I say, I will have notes prepared for him.

Mr. Speaker, the Water Resources Protection Act I do happen to know a little bit about because I was Minister of the Environment at the time that this matter first came to the attention, I think, of all Canadian Provinces when the federal government came forward with a Water Protection Act and at a subsequent meeting of Canadian Environment Ministers it was agreed that other provinces would come forward with legislation mirroring the federal legislation and that is what this particular piece of legislation does.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to begin the debate on second reading of our government's bill entitled the Water Resources Protection Act. It is particularly pleasing to start this debate because I know all Parties in this Legislature can see the good in protecting one of our province's most valuable public resources - our water. We all know in Nova Scotia we have been blessed with what seems to be like an unlimited quantity of water, thousands of kilometres of coastline, lakes and streams second to none, it is the fabric of our lives.

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[5:00 p.m.]

He goes on to say, when I think about it in my Town of Lunenburg - but this is very true in most towns across this province - water touches on so many paths of people's lives. The trip to the beach that many families enjoy, the nurturing of a garden, the washing of a newborn baby at the hospital, we use it so much but how often do we stop to think about how important it is and, unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, we do not do that very often, it is something we simply take for granted.

In recent years if you talked to any farmer, they will tell you how dry our province has become. Drought-like conditions in the Valley year after year have underlined how vulnerable our water supplies are. Our climate is changing and, as global warming takes hold, no one really knows how much water we will need, we must be cautious.

One of the things about this past winter, Mr. Speaker, that I am sure all members are aware of is the fact that although we have had a relatively mild winter and not too much snow, that it has been a good winter from the point of view of the water-table. I know in the Valley the water-table is actually coming up this year and has been going down steadily for the past six years. This year, even though there was not much snow, the actual rainfall and snow that we got late in the year came down gently and the ground was not frozen so it went down into the water-table and didn't just run off.

Sound environmental management is something our government takes very seriously. It is an objective of this government to manage our resources well for the enjoyment and prosperity of all Nova Scotians. The history of the development of this bill dates back to early 1999, when the federal government approached provinces to discuss issues around proposals for bulk water exports from Canada. It was prompted by proposals to remove water from both Gisborne Lake in Newfoundland and Lake Superior in Ontario. We realized it is important not only for us as Nova Scotians, but for all Canadians, that we maintain control over our natural resources and their sustainable use. The issue of exporting water challenges our ability to do what we want with our water when we want.

The management of water is a provincial responsibility. Along with other provinces, Nova Scotia intends to exercise its rights effectively and in the best interests of our citizens. Since then all provinces have reviewed their legislation and policy with a view to ensuring appropriate controls are in place across the country. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, we are proposing the Water Resources Protection Bill, which prohibits the removal of water in bulk. This legislation ensures that Nova Scotia's aquatic ecosystems and water uses are protected from potential negative impact on this non-sustainable activity.

This government believes that we should live within our needs fiscally, we should also apply that principle to our water. Our water must be managed to meet our own needs first and foremost. These needs include fish habitat, recreation and drinking water which must meet

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the uses for now and for the future. We also believe in caring for those in need. This legislation helps us in dealing with those emergencies that occur from time to time. Water is needed for firefighting or humanitarian emergencies and will always be available to help those in need. As public guardians of our water today and into the future, we must take every step possible to responsibly manage this God-given resource. This ban is a vital stride in achieving that goal.

This bill prohibits the export of water in bulk quantities exceeding 25 litres. Now I am told that 25 litres is one of those large jugs that you see being toted around on trucks, so we know how big that is. In other words, it doesn't affect those who vend water in small bottles or the one litre bottles, any less than 25 litres is not affected by this piece of legislation. This measure will not hurt those entrepreneurs in Nova Scotia who are currently bottling water. For water bottlers in the province, this legislation will not change how they currently operate; Nova Scotia's water producers can still export their value-added water products.

Mr. Speaker, we all agree that we must have control over our own water for future needs. We believe that with proper controls in place, we can manage our water effectively. The Minister of Justice says thank you very much, and I thank him too for the opportunity to introduce this bill, because this is a very important piece of legislation. As you know, there have been a number of proposals that have come forward in all provinces, I think, across Canada to export water in bulk. In fact, it wasn't all that long ago that we had a company wanting to export water by tanker to the Far East, to the Arabian Peninsula. While it seems that we have lots of water, in point of fact we don't have an inexhaustible amount of water, and it is very obvious, I must say, in what has happened to our water table just over the past few years, where it has gone down considerably.

Mr. Speaker, with those few words, I move second reading of this bill on behalf of the Minister of Justice. I can assure you I will be taking notes as to any queries that individual members may have, and I will pass them on to the minister.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the government for bringing forward this legislation today, An Act to Protect the Water Resources of Nova Scotia. It is important, but I think there are a lot of questions that have to be looked at with respect to the protection of water in Nova Scotia, as the honourable Government House Leader would admit. I know I have a lot of concerns as to where we are going in the protection of our drinking water, and water in general, in Nova Scotia.

The honourable Government House Leader talks about the water-table in the Annapolis Valley rising. We are all very glad to hear that, believe me. In every part of Nova Scotia we really have a lot of concern about farming and where farming is going because of the droughts, particularly the last two years, really the last three years it has been where we have

[Page 3640]

had questionable water supply, questionable rainfall and we wonder what that is going to do for the future of agriculture in Nova Scotia.

When we were in government we were proposing a study that would look at a way of securing an adequate water supply for agriculture in the Annapolis Valley, and I think it is important to pursue that. I am very concerned that what is a rising water-table now could be a diminishing water-table. I don't want to be negative. I know the honourable Government House Leader acknowledges that. It is not being negative, it is just being concerned as to where we are going. We all know about the dramatic reduction in the level of the Great Lakes and other large water bodies in Canada, and we all acknowledge that this is something that needs to be studied.

One thing that needs to be studied is an adequate supply of water, and what aquifers can we tap into that would allow the farmers in the Annapolis Valley to have that adequate water supply in times of drought. It is funny how things work. You have the Minister of Agriculture hoping for a lot of rain, and then of course you have the Minister of Tourism and Culture saying, we don't want too much rain because we have all these tourists coming here this summer. I think what we all want is a very happy medium so we can have the best of both worlds, but particularly water for agriculture in the province.

I would hope the government is pursuing this study. I haven't heard anything recently, Mr. Speaker, regarding that, but it does come down to protecting water. Even if there is not a plan to start it right away, to get a study to identify what water supplies can be used as a means of giving water for irrigation to the farmers of the Annapolis Valley I think is very important for the security and to keep people in farming. It is a difficult industry right now; these people have made a major investment. It is not unusual to have over $1 million in machinery and investment. But if your farm folds and you can't sell your crop, what you would get for your machinery and equipment and for your assets is only a small fraction of what they are worth. So I think that we have to look at the needs of farmers in Nova Scotia and I was very pleased that the honourable Government House Leader brought that up and I would once again encourage that that study be implemented.

I also think that there is a lot that has to be done with respect to preserving our lakes and rivers from pollution and I think that we have to look at this. This is the case as well, of course, of the Bras d'Or Lakes in Cape Breton, which is not fresh water and there is a lot of salt water mixed in with the water in the Bras d'Or Lakes, it is quite a high salt content. We also have a lot of people who have cottages on our lakes and those cottages have been there for some time. Some of them were built before the state of the art in septic systems were brought in; some of them have septic systems that have broken down and haven't been fixed and we have a lot of pollution in our lakes in Nova Scotia, a lot of pollution in our rivers and I think at some time we have to examine what that level of pollution is and identify where the pollution is coming from.

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It also may be a point of view that now when we sell homes there has to be a wiring inspection to make sure that the wiring in a home is suitable. That is the one way we know that person who buys a home is going to be assured of having a certain level of good wiring so that when the person buys the home they are not inheriting bad wiring and forgetting to get the wiring inspected, or may not because they bought the home and used all their disposable income from the down payment and not be able to have an adequate inspection done and, if the inspection is done not having the money to fix the wiring.

This allows us to protect the people, protect the homes by having the wiring inspected before the home is sold. It may be a requirement for those living on our lakes and rivers to have the septic systems inspected before they sell the property. These are things I think we have to look at.

There is no sense in talking about protecting our water supply in Nova Scotia if we as Nova Scotians are not prepared to do something ourselves to protect the water supply. We have here what we call an ocean playground. Well, we are very quickly polluting our ocean playground - not only our ocean but our lakes and our rivers and this is not something that I attribute to this government or the last government, this is something that has been going on for a long time. Unfortunately it is getting to be cumulative and I think the time has come where we have to start looking at this.

We want people to come to Nova Scotia because it has a great standard of living, because it is a great lifestyle and because we look after Nova Scotia and we take a great deal of pride in it. We certainly cannot point to our environmental controls as something we really have that lines up with what we say we want for Nova Scotia. I think that this has to be looked at.

This is a great bill - I have a problem with it that I will mention later, it is not the government's fault that there is that problem but there is a problem - but I think that if we are going to say to people in our legislation, we are protecting our water, we cannot sell our water in bulk to other jurisdictions, we should also be able to say we value our water and we value our water to the extent that we are taking these precautions and making these moves to protect the level of the pristine nature of our water. That goes to whether they are salt- water lakes or freshwater lakes or rivers or beaches.

It is just so incredible that now when we are looking for a lifestyle and people are looking for a good place to live, people want to come here to invest and live because their families can be secure in a good lifestyle, that we have abandoned our vigil on protecting our environment and I think that has to be looked at. I say that with all due respect, without any blame to this government; they are the government in power and I would ask that they would look into it. We were looking into it to a certain extent but, unfortunately, I was not there long enough to put some of my own ideas into place and I would ask if the government would follow some of these things up.

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[5:15 p.m.]

With respect to the sale of water in bulk, as the honourable Government House Leader has said, this is something that has been brought forward on a national basis in legislation. Other provinces have brought forward companion legislation to back this up. It is going to be a concern and I think it is going to be a concern a lot sooner than most people realize. In the United States right now, they are on the verge of having a very serious water shortage. If what we say about the weather getting warmer and summers getting drier and global warming is true, then this is going to accelerate.

Main waterfers like the large aquifer that goes from the Dakotas right down to northern Texas is dramatically drying up. It is incredible how that water, which is used in all of the grain states and corn states, like Oklahoma and Kansas, for irrigation, the amount of water that they have been using over these years and the problem that now exists because of what will be a very serious lack of water in the not too distant future.

The United States is faced with what do they do to replace this water shortage. Their energy crisis is going to be nothing compared to their water crisis in a few years' time. It is either going to be to get water from a place like Canada, to melt icebergs - and that has been one thing that has been suggested - which is quite a feat, or the desalination of ocean water. Whatever they do, they are faced with this in the not too distant future, Mr. Speaker. Our problem is they are going to be looking to Canada as the easiest way of replenishing this water.

What I said about the problem earlier is a problem that I feel, and a problem that I worry about, and no matter what legislation we pass, no matter what legislation the federal government has passed, no matter what legislation the province has passed, we are still bound by the free trade agreement. The North America Free Trade Agreement, which this country agreed to in 1988, talks about the free trade of commodities between Canada and the United States. Although it has been said by the federal government and by others that water is excluded from this free trade agreement, I, quite frankly, am not convinced that that is the case. I say that because looking at the free trade agreement, having studied the free trade agreement when I was a Member of Parliament, I cannot be assured, quite frankly, that the bulk export of water to the United States is excluded from that free trade agreement.

I would ask the government if they have any kind of expertise or any kind of assurance or any kind of documented evidence that would indicate that the bulk sale of water is excluded from the NAFTA agreement. I would ask, as a favour to me and to our caucus, that they make that available, because this is a concern, and this comes up in the minds of a lot of people throughout the country. I don't want this to be something that when we are put to the test, when it is the Americans' challenges under the NAFTA agreement and they say they want our water, that we just haven't got the case to make to prohibit the sale of that water to the United States.

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Although we are just one part of this network of legislation prohibiting the bulk export of water, I think it would be good if we started this question again to reassure ourselves that that, in fact, is the case. This is going to be a major issue, Mr. Speaker, and I think that we in Nova Scotia have to look at this ramification to see where we are going, how we are going to tackle it, what is the present thinking of the federal government. I don't take a lot of solace in the fact that nothing is being said. I find, frankly, in governments, when nothing is being said, that is sometimes when you should worry the most because that means that if no one is bringing it up, they are certainly not going to bring up the subject.

I think that we have to quietly, not to scare people, not to cause panic, I don't think that that is a question. We are not a major player, it is not going to be Nova Scotia they are going to look to for water if there is a water shortage in the United States, certainly not first and foremost. We are a player in this, we are a province in Canada, we are part of this network to prohibit the bulk sale of water. I think we should do our share and we should be very vigilant that, in fact, what we are passing here today, what we are going to be agreeing to - and our Party does agree with this legislation - that we know it can be effective when it comes right down to the challenge, when it comes right down to this water being requested, that we can do something concrete to prohibit the bulk sale of water to the United States. It is going to come up, this is not going to remain quiet for long, this is going to be an issue that we are all going to have to confront.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Government House Leader, who so very eloquently brought forward and moved this bill on behalf of the Minister of Justice, to perhaps lead some kind of inquiry as to where we stand with respect to the free trade agreement and the free trade agreements subsequent to that, with Mexico as well, just to know where we stand.

This is a good initiative. We hope, I guess, that it will be effective both from the point of view of the free trade agreement and that we, in fact, will have pristine water that anyone will want, certainly pristine water that will meet our own needs first, but pristine water that will continue to paint the picture and the image of Nova Scotia that we like to portray to people outside our jurisdiction. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honorable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: My learned friend, the member for Halifax Needham, asked me whether I had enough water. That doesn't mean I am going to talk at length, Mr. Speaker, but it is a question that I suppose we take for granted in this country. I just want to review a few comments before I point out what, in my opinion and in the opinion of members of our caucus, is a major flaw. When this particular bill goes forward to the Law Amendments Committee - and we will support that - we want the attention of the government to this particular issue.

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I should point out, Mr. Speaker, that at one time I had the opportunity to work on what was called the Lake Superior line. I am not going to give you a geography lesson but let me tell you, Lake Superior is a huge body of inland water that, of course, is shared between our neighbours to the south and ourselves. While working those early mornings on that line I began to realize that you didn't just have to live in the Atlantic Provinces to run into fog. You had, after all, a huge body of water, the largest lake among our Great Lakes, if I am correct, which we share with our neighbours to the south.

Listening to the previous speaker's comments, I was interested when he brought up the free trade agreement. I understand, at that time, he was a federal Member of Parliament. He admitted during his comments he had some questions on this matter and he is asking government members to bring to the attention of his caucus whether water is included under the NAFTA Agreement. Now that member sat in that place, and I am certainly not at the stage of expecting him to remember or know the answer to that, but I would hope that having been through that very controversial time, that it is very clear in my memory bank that under no circumstances are we looking at one of our greatest and perhaps our greatest natural resource, the export of water out of this country, let alone out of this province. So that is a matter which we are going to have to have clarified, if the past Member of Parliament hasn't got that, I know where I understand that the NAFTA Agreement, at the time, was going.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let's look at the Nova Scotia experience. Generally there are some very good, well-researched, and I know I can't refer to one clause after another, but in particular I want to remind members opposite, and I know the member for Cumberland North would share this concern, there are those times where we have as neighbours, I know the member for Cumberland North at one time, of course, and I was growing on the Tantramar Marshes when we had a number of disastrous grass fires. I am aware of the fact that there is a provision in one of the clauses or subclauses that there is a provisions for the reasons of firefighting that if, for one reason or another there was a disastrous grass fire on the Tantramar Marshes which, of course, adjoin Amherst and Sackville, that there would be absolutely no difficulty in moving water from one side of the boundary to the other.

I would like to point out to the Acting Minister of the Environment, that shows good forethought, because in the past there has been water that has moved across from one side of the boundary to the other. I thank the member for bringing that to the attention of the House. That provision is of some real consequence.

However, the concern we have is that our water and in our lakes, doesn't disappear on us. When we look at the matter of enforcement, Mr. Speaker, I have a major concern, a concern which I think the government should perhaps reconsider. There is, and I bring to the attention of the Acting Minister of the Environment, a Statute from the Province of Ontario, the Water Transfer Control Act, Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1990, and I believe it is revised from 1988. I think it would be of real assistance to the Acting Minister of the Environment

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and his staff to look at this particular Statute and to consider that there is much more teeth in the enforcement of water that happens to be moved out of this province.

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about a huge industry if it is allowed to develop. If you look at the particular structure of enforcement and fines, it seems to me that that particular provision in this bill doesn't really have much teeth to it. Again, I am not going to look at the particular clauses, because we are not looking at clause by clause. But it concerns me that if someone is in the business and they are moving water out of our province, and they are taking the chance of doing it by tanker load, a $1 million fine is no big deal. I know it is a lot of cash, but it is a one time penalty.

It seems to me that that particular enforcement has to be increased incrementally, if I can put it that way, Mr. Speaker. If members opposite would consider this, if you look at this piece of legislation from Ontario, they look at their enforcement in terms of, they will increase it weekly, and that this fine will build, and there won't just be that one chance that somebody is taking that risk to export that water that one time. There has to, after all, be much more teeth in the enforcement of someone, a business person in Nova Scotia for one reason or another. He is going to take that risk and is going to see if they can contravene the law and go out and make a bundle off the export of water.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that is of some importance when we look at the fact that this great resource that we have in our province is not allowed to be taken advantage of by some unscrupulous business person who is going to go out and take that chance.

The bill is proactive, and this government should be congratulated for that particular initiative. However, I hope that they consider, and members opposite when we sit through the Law Amendments Committee, looks at the fact that this piece of legislation can stand some improvements. I am sure we will hear from members of the various environmental groups in our province. We will hear from Ecology Action Centre, hopefully. We will hear from other pressure groups in our community that want to make sure that this legislation is airtight.

Over the weekend we were talking about this particular bill, the Water Resources Protection Act and you hear that statement: water, water everywhere and ne'er a drop to drink? Well, water, water everywhere and maybe not a lot of common sense when it comes to putting in place fines that are going to make sure that this legislation does have some teeth in it. That particular concern, I know, will be brought forward to the Law Amendments Committee and at that time hopefully, members on all sides of the House will consider this particular amendment which hopefully will be brought forth at that time.

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[5:30 p.m.]

The other concern that I have is that it is something that under our water resources bill that we take for granted. When we talk about our water, I think we have to understand that it is our neighbours to the south that are going to be in a tremendously difficult situation over the next few years when they look at our greatest resource. Mr. Speaker, I know the area that you are from, and other areas that we have all just taken for granted, whether it is in a lake or a particular river system, that water protection bill has to make sure that it protects what our water is about today and tomorrow.

That is the concern that I think we must make sure we address when we bring forth a piece of legislation such as this and the government, again I thank them for bringing it forward, but we have to make sure that we are not back amending this legislation in two years' time or in two months' time, when we look at a particular loophole that should be clearly identified.

You know Mr. Speaker, you, and I, too, have travelled in parts south of the 49th parallel, I am looking at the fact that this is a matter that is not just a concern for our western provinces. This is not just a matter of a concern for those states and provinces that border on our Great Lakes, this is a concern for all Canadians and I think it is of major importance in the free trade agreement, that we understand as Nova Scotians that there must be absolute clarity when it comes to the fact that under no circumstances will we be allowing the movement of this great natural resource out of our province.

There are some concerns and I believe they have been addressed. I went to the bill briefing and it is important that those concerns were noted at the time by the Acting Environment Minister, there is always the concern of the fishermen who have to go offshore, fishers I think the member for Richmond would want me corrected, that a particular ship leaves and of course they bring water with them, Mr. Speaker. They take water beyond the provincial jurisdiction of this province because when they are out in the salt water they have to make sure for the provisions are there for that number of days or weeks, that there is a provision there for them to have that amount of water.

There is also the concern, I know it is specific and I know I am not speaking clause by clause, but in one of those sections it says 25 litres of water and I think that we should look at that amount in certain situations. I take for example my case when I have the opportunity to get to my wife's cottage on P.E.I. - and I hope you notice that she wants it to be known that it is her cottage on P.E.I. - but there are times when the water is shut off and I am moving over to the cottage at a time in the middle when we don't have the warmest of weather and I have to take water for various reasons to make sure that I am either going over to prime the pump or for other reasons I need water on those trips. I am wondering about that 25 litres of water and I expect that during the Law Amendments Committee that concern will be brought up again.

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There is a concern that there is actually, at times, a very logical reason for a particular individual, a private individual, who is transporting across our borders, for one reason or another, either leaving for fishing reasons and going outside of our jurisdiction or going across the border to a hunting camp in New Brunswick or to a cottage on Prince Edward Island, where there is a 25 litre restriction. Again I don't want to go too much into the specifics of that clause, but I think that we should look at the fact that there is another part of this proposed legislation that will have a look at amendments.

Mr. Speaker, as you are well aware, and I know the Minister of Justice is working very clearly and he is also the Acting Minister of the Environment, you make the Law Amendments Committee work. I hope that members opposite, those particular members who are in sections of our province where there are some great, wonderful lakes, that they make sure that the Acting Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Justice consider the particular points that I have brought up here.

These are things that we have to look at because the last thing we need, Mr. Speaker, is to go back and have to correct this legislation because of a couple of loopholes that I have pointed out, one being enforcement, and I come back to that. I know that a few members opposite sort of looked at me when I said, well, a $1 million fine, that is not a big deal; a $1 million fine, one time, is not a big deal, but if we have enforcement that is going to incur incrementally, then that is the sort of enforcement that we can make sure gets taken care of.

There is also the provision that is very important and I understand, as I mentioned earlier, the member for Cumberland North and the provision of allowing firefighters to have water that could be moved across provincial boundaries, but I think that the private individual who for one reason or another is travelling outside of our province and he or she might want to have some of our famous Nova Scotia water, there has to be provision for the fact that if he or she is camping or moving across in a recreational vehicle, that 25 litre restriction perhaps should be looked at.

With those thoughts, Mr. Speaker, I know the Acting Minister of the Environment and his staff will hopefully consider as we move ahead to the Law Amendments Committee that they will consider those suggestions. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the minister for bringing the legislation forward, for being proactive enough to make sure that this issue is looked at before it becomes a problem for Nova Scotians, and I look forward to listening to the members opposite as we discuss this bill further at the Law Amendments Committee. I thank you for your time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to be able to rise today as the Environment Critic for our Party and to make a few remarks on Bill No. 32, the Water Resources Protection Act. I am pleased to see that the new government is moving forward

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on this initiative. This was a matter that came to light on the national scene while I had the privilege of serving as the Minister of the Environment. I know that staff immediately went to work in order to implement the plan here in Nova Scotia which would protect our resource here as had been done by several other provinces and following the lead of the federal government.

In fact, having served as minister, I know that staff in the Department of the Environment had been working on this initiative even prior to the federal government announcing this ban on bulk water sales. So certainly I commend the hardworking staff in the department, certainly George Fox, the Deputy Minister; Creighton Brisco and Kate Moir; I know all three have worked very hard on this initiative, just one of many initiatives they have worked very diligently on, and certainly Bill No. 32 being here today is certainly as a result of their efforts and their hard work.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, we certainly support this initiative. We do have a few concerns, not to say they would be concerns, we are looking for clarification from the minister. Unfortunately, I do not have the same vested interest that my colleague, the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, has with his cottages. I am starting to think that I am just a poor Cape Bretoner, unlike him and his colleague, the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto; they have these cottages and homes and lavish lifestyles. I don't know if they pay these MLAs different up in the city, but we are just very humble people back in Richmond County so we don't have that vested interest.

Mr. Speaker, as everyone knows, the federal government following its decision to ban bulk water exports gave each province the ability to legislate the protection of water resources in the province if they so wished. As I indicated before, staff in the Department of the Environment had already been pursuing our options as to what we could do to protect this. In fact, this decision by the federal government immediately raises some concerns about inland waters and the fact that under the Constitution, inland waters would fall under the jurisdiction of the province but, in fact, it was noted that this was not an intrusion by the provincial government on federal jurisdiction or by the feds on provincial jurisdiction in the means it was put forward.

Another thing that should be pointed out, and I know a number of members have raised it as a concern for us here in Nova Scotia, bulk water export is not something that would be very likely to take place here in this province. The reason for that is compared to the other provinces in Canada, we have a very limited supply of water which could be used for bulk water export. So, as for the danger level, I guess, of this ever happening here in this province, it was quite minimal as compared to our neighbours out west, especially the Provinces of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

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For us here in the Maritime Provinces and the Atlantic Provinces, the danger level was quite minimal, but certainly we recognized for us that it was an important step to take. As has been pointed out before here in Nova Scotia, we are not just concerned about what happens here in our province, we are concerned about what happens in our country as a whole. Certainly, whereby our danger level was not so high, we wanted to show that we supported the efforts of the federal government and our neighbouring provinces to ensure that there was no bulk exporting of our water, one of our most precious resources.

As has been pointed out, Bill No. 32 is careful in that it does not impact those individuals who, under licence from the government, are currently bottling water and exporting it abroad. These are relatively small operations and they are viable operations and it is good that the government is protecting them from any negative repercussions from this legislation.

One of the questions and concerns we have, we hope the minister and his staff will be able to clear up for us, do existing licence holders have the ability to increase the amount of water that they are currently exporting?

In one sense we are protecting what they have, but the question is, can they turn around and ask for these increases to the point that it might actually become a serious concern for us, and it may be at a level that we are not quite comfortable with. (Interruption) Monopolization, yes, that is another issue. We would like some sort of a commitment from the government or indication as to how they plan to deal with this issue. Again, if this is the case that these increases can take place, even though we only have a small number of firms here in the province who are doing this, if these increases are not kept in check, certainly within a short period of time, the small amount of firms will become a serious problem in the issue of water exports.

As I indicated, we are certainly pleased that the current exporters are not going to have their business disrupted. We also hope that there is not, as a result of this legislation, a panic that goes through the system, that the companies which are currently exporting right now, try to get out as much as they can before Bill No. 32 comes into effect, should it come into effect, and I assume it will based on some of the comments that have been made from all sides of the House. We certainly hope the government and the Department of the Environment are keeping an eye on this and making sure there is not a panic mentality out there, or an inordinate amount of water being extracted to try to get in before Bill No. 32 kicks in.

As was pointed out by my colleague for Timberlea-Prospect, he was doing very well when he talked about fishermen, and then he got confused with the NDP's politically incorrect term for people in our fishing industry. But we are certainly pleased that the government in Bill No. 32 has recognized the importance of making sure this legislation does not impede the progress or harm the fishing industry in any way.

[Page 3650]

Certainly exportation of fish products is a major industry here in our province. I think of my own riding where, what started as a small processing facility, when there was a collapse of the groundfish industry, unlike many other firms, they started to buy foreign fish and continued to do processing, to the point that now they have over 400 clients and, throughout this whole crisis they have increased their profit margin by 800 per cent. So they have been able to do quite well by doing things a little bit different, and that was by importing fish, and also by using smaller clients in smaller markets they have been able to increase. A big part of that has been importing frozen fish and sending our frozen products. So it is important that this bill in now way impede the efforts of fishermen and fish exporters in our province. I hope they will come forward at the Law Amendments Committee and possibly indicate any concerns they might have, or their full support for this legislation, should that be the case, so we know ourselves if they feel quite comfortable that they are protected under Bill No. 32.

[5:45 p.m.]

The legislation itself indicates the general intention to allow for the removal of water for the purposes of transporting fish and other goods which need to remain frozen. Certainly exportation, not only in fish but in various other natural industries, require water to be able to freeze them and transport them. So we hope those producers also feel comfortable that this legislation is protecting their interests.

The question of enforcement is one that also concerns me. The issue is who is going to enforce this legislation? Is this something that is going to be left to inspectors with the Department of the Environment who are already overworked and their responsibilities are much too numerous for them to ever be able to fully realize; who is going to be responsible for this. Is it the RCMP? Is it the local police? Or is it going to be employees of the Government of Nova Scotia? That is a question we are going to have.

The other question is, I guess, in all honesty, Mr. Speaker, what are the warning signs one looks for to see who is exporting bulk water in this province? What sort of safeguards is the province going to implement, training for police forces or even for their own employees to give them an idea of what they should be looking for when it comes to these bulk water exports?

The other question, which has been raised before, is how did the department arrive at this 25 litre mark; that one could export water or extract water, as long as one did not extract more than 25 litres at a time. Certainly the question has been raised - the member for Timberlea-Prospect talked about his wife's cottage on P.E.I. but certainly we know that many Nova Scotians enjoy outdoor camping, tenting, yachting, sailing and, as a result of that, usually they bring a sufficient water supply with them. That 25 litres is not a great deal of water if one is going for some time. In fact, I recall as a young boy, fishing with my father in a 32 foot longliner. We would usually be gone for a couple of days but in those couple of days we were four to five men aboard a boat, it was nothing to bring these two great big jugs

[Page 3651]

of fresh water with us, so just there we had about 50 litres of water in the vessel and we were leaving a wharf going out. I don't know if one would consider that exporting, being that we were leaving the wharf and leaving the confines of this province with that water (Interruptions) oh, we were certainly past the 12-mile limit - the 200-mile limit, we didn't pass that one, the boat was a little too small for that.

That is just an example, Mr. Speaker, where we are going to hope that the minister, through the Department of the Environment, could indicate to us that there are some safeguards here. I really don't foresee the police stopping somebody because they have two large jugs of water to New Brunswick, that they are going to fine them or seize their vehicle and seize their supply of water, but, at the same time, we know how quickly these things can become abused and how they can be used to someone's benefit who is trying to get around the system. So we hope the minister will indicate how they reached this 25 litre figure. As I have pointed out, with several other pieces of legislation put before us by this new government, what we are looking for is some sort of details, evidence or some sort of research, to indicate how they have come to this figure. I certainly hope there is some logic behind the 25 litre figure and it is not just a number pulled out of the air to throw into this legislation. Certainly, knowing the committed, hard-working staff at the Department of the Environment, I am sure that they have got a great explanation for this. I am hoping the minister can bring that to us just for our own comfort, so that we know that this issue is being addressed.

Mr. Speaker, those are all the comments I am going to make on this bill at this stage. We look forward to it going to the Law Amendments Committee and hearing the comments from those most affected by this and, possibly, introducing some amendments to make it the best bill possible for the people of Nova Scotia and, ultimately, as I have said before, for the people throughout this entire country. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it gives me some pleasure to stand in support of Bill No. 32, An Act to Protect the Water Resource of Nova Scotia. I think one only has to travel outside of this province or outside of the country to understand the value of water and the value of water in terms of a domestic water supply, habitat, agriculture, recreation, these kinds of things. While Nova Scotia is a small province, we are a very beautiful province. We are a province that has a tremendous amount of watershed lands, lakes, streams, rivers. We have a very important agricultural community and so we need to be very concerned about our domestic water supply and the potential for the commodification of water.

Mr. Speaker, we need to look at this particular bill in the context of globalization because, really, that is why this bill has found its way onto the floor of this Legislature. In today's age of globalization, there is just about nothing that hasn't been reduced to a

[Page 3652]

commodity. So much of what is occurring in terms of trade and access to resources is very much driven by huge transnational corporations whose annual income as a company exceeds the total amount of revenue from this province many times over and the amount of power these transnationals have is enormous.

One of the nice things, I think, about this particular piece of legislation is that it demonstrates that there is still power in local government to act on behalf of the citizens and not be marginalized and not be part of joining the parade to have all aspects of our society become commodities. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, water is one of those things that we should not permit to become a commodity in this, what has, in many cases, become a race to the bottom.

So this is an important piece of legislation and I think that for Nova Scotia to join with many of the other provinces who have introduced similar legislation and, indeed, the federal government, is important. I listened, with interest, earlier when the Leader of the Liberal Party raised some questions about NAFTA and whether or not bulk water is excluded from the NAFTA agreement. I always have to sort of cringe when I hear people talk about NAFTA as being a free trade agreement. I think John Ralston Saul had it right when he said that what NAFTA stands for is not a free trade agreement. In fact, what NAFTA is about is the economic integration agreement that, in fact, gave the American companies much greater access to low wage labour in Mexico and Canadian resources to the north.

We know that there is a rather large body of opinion actually about whether or not NAFTA does apply to bulk water exports and while, in the actual agreement water may be excluded, the problem as I understand it is this, once a province - any province in this country - enters into a situation where they are exporting bulk water, then that opens up the whole possibility of American companies questioning whether or not they can have access to water in any other province. This becomes a real potential and something that would be the subject of the dispute resolution mechanism and there is no guarantee, Mr. Speaker - in fact, legal opinion indicates that that is a challenge that we would lose if a province had entered into a situation where bulk water was being exported. It is important not only that we adopt this legislation, but that all provinces throughout this country introduce similar kinds of legislation which will prohibit the . . .

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I certainly apologize for interrupting the speech from my colleague, the member for Halifax-Needham, but I don't believe this House has the necessary quorum to continue functioning on this bill at this time. I would ask for you to call quorum.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member. I will do a count. (Interruption) I counted 15, honourable member. I will recount. Honourable members have to be in their seats. Honourable member, on my first time through I did count 15 members including the Speaker. I counted the 15 members in their seats and then one member, after the count, had got up to go outside as I understand it.

[Page 3653]

The honourable member for Halifax Needham has the floor.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying in discussing the implications of the NAFTA agreement for the bulk export of water, it is far from clear that bulk water exports were excluded from the NAFTA agreement. I find it curious that the Leader of the Liberal Party, who I believe would have been a member of the federal government that signed the NAFTA agreement, would stand in his place and ask the provincial Tory Government for clarification with respect to the terms and conditions of NAFTA. I would think that a person of his stature and experience, in having been there, would know full well what the implications of the NAFTA agreement were for Canadian resources. It is playing crass political games with an issue that is very important to Nova Scotians to stand here and do this, I submit.

There is another very important issue, I think, with respect to giving any interests a foot in the door with respect to access to our water. Mr. Speaker, I think that one of the things that is clear is that we need, in Nova Scotia, a fairly comprehensive plan with respect to how we sustain our own domestic water supply. Former speakers have talked about the drought that farmers have experienced in the Annapolis Valley and, indeed, in other parts of Nova Scotia such as Cape Breton in the agricultural community there. This is a matter that is unlikely to go away in light of the global warming that is being documented throughout the world so we really do need to look at ways to maintain a very sustainable water supply.

[6:00 p.m.]

In addition, I think one of the things about our province that has been demonstrated in the past few years is the growing interest in ecotourism and it is important to maintain wildlife habitat, not only in terms of ecotourism, but in terms of the whole ecosystem that we all depend on.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, we need to spend some time thinking about our own domestic use. When I think about domestic use of water, I think about the more recent debates that have occurred around the proposal to tender out the building and the operating of the treatment plants here in HRM. There are three consortiums that have been asked to submit tenders for the building and the operating of these treatment plants. We all know that sewage treatment brings with it very little profit margin and one has to ask why transnational corporations that are part of these consortiums with such small profit margins would have any interest in coming here. I think that it is not such a large leap to see that, in fact, what this affords a transnational corporation that in other parts of the world are offering water through a privatized system is that it gives a foot in the door to privatizing water here in the capital.

I have to say, and our caucus has taken a very strong position on this, that water is such an important commodity for the maintenance of just everyday life, that if we have a public water commission, which we do in HRM which has efficiently managed and which offers

[Page 3654]

quality in terms of the standards, of the services that are being provided and the water we receive, that is accountable back to the citizens of HRM through an electoral process, this is a much more effective and a much more desirable form of providing for domestic water consumption than a privatized system where you would have nameless, faceless bureaucrats and administrators in countries located someplace else that we would have no access to and no way to make accountable for standards and for the quality of our domestic water.

I think in this matter, Mr. Speaker, the Council of Canadians have to be commended for the very important work they have done. In fact, they are a group that has been doing a lot of public education on both of these issues, on the issue of the privatization of domestic water supplies and on the whole question of the export of bulk water.

Sometimes I have an opportunity to talk with students who are involved in international development studies. It is a growing area of interest for a lot of young people, in particular, in university and elsewhere. One of the things that is often said is that the next wars, the wars of this particular millennium, will be wars that will be fought over water, because in the world there is a declining supply of water and Canada is one of the most water-rich resource-based countries in the world.

Sometimes people ask, are we not being dogs in the manger by looking at ways to protect our vast water resources when there are obviously people in other parts of the world who will be desperate for water, but, Mr. Speaker, that is not at all the point, or the case, in pursuing the right to maintain control over our own resource. Every country has the right to maintain control over their domestic resource for domestic use, and this has been well recognized in various trade agreements. The other issue is the whole question of sustainability and the way you maintain your domestic resource and the way you sustain your environment and the habitat that is important in your particular area.

I think more importantly, in terms of responding to this dog-in-the-manger kind of allegation, is that if as a country we want to engage in assisting those countries that are without adequate water supplies, then we need to be able to do that ourselves on our own terms and there is no possible way that a transnational corporation would be in the business of exporting bulk water from Canada as a foreign-aid package to countries that have inadequate supplies. It would not be the poor, and it would not be those who could not get access to water in their own countries who would be able to secure water through a privatized set of arrangements.

So we really need to take this particular debate very seriously. It is something that arises out of the fact that everything in our society now is increasingly being reduced to a commodity, and in this process we have to ensure that this bill does give us the latitude to adequately protect our own resource: our waterways, our watersheds, our lakes, our rivers, and our water-table.

[Page 3655]

I am not sure, there were some questions raised, Mr. Speaker, about the adequacy of the enforcement provisions, whether or not they provided a big enough hammer to ensure that there wouldn't be a transgression of the intent of this legislation and, additionally, questions and concerns need to be addressed with respect to the monitoring of those companies currently involved in the exporting of water. At what point does the degree to which they are exporting - where is that grey area between bulk exports in terms of volume and quantity and the way in which the water is being shipped, shall we say. It is not so much about the size of the container, it is about volume and there are companies that are involved right now in the production of water that conceivably could put us in a position at some point that a very large amount of volume is being exported. So we need to make sure we are clear about what those parameters are.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to conclude my remarks.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence, I would like to take a few moments of the House to express some opinions and some views on the bill before us today, Bill No. 32, the Water Resources Protection Act.

Mr. Speaker, it was just this week, I think, we have heard the news on Lake Huron and Lake Michigan and the fact that these two lakes have dropped in the water level by one metre. If you were to measure that in gallons, that is a huge pile of water. Lake Ontario, I think, it was quoted as saying, has dropped one-half a metre.

Mr. Speaker, it has been many years since I sailed on the Canadian lakes. At that time, you could take water out of Lake Ontario into your holding tanks on the ships and it would pass all Health Department regulations to be consumed as potable water, which was taken directly out of the lake. That certainly has changed, and not only in the Great Lakes, but in every lake in our province and, indeed, right across our nation.

Mr. Speaker, while the bill, I think, is worthwhile and I think it is good that we are seeing some movement towards protecting our water, something that troubles me a bit, living in an area known right across the nation as the Bras d'Or Lakes, where some of our focus should be, probably, is on cleaning up our larger lakes. We have millions of litres of water running daily into Halifax Harbour, into Sydney Harbour and into the Bras d'Or Lakes. It is perfectly fresh water going into the lakes to be polluted. That is a shame. I think to protect the water as it is flowing into the rivers and harbours, I think cleaning up the harbour should go hand in hand with protection of our water.

[Page 3656]

Mr. Speaker, we all realize that the federal government gives each province the ability to legislate the protection of their water resources, that is if the provinces wish. There is no intrusion by the provincial government on federal jurisdictions. I think it is time and the timing is good, the legislation is good, that we move forward at this point in time.

Mr. Speaker, probably another thing that might disturb me or bother us a little bit is the fact that if there is a famine or a drought where lives are at stake, I think there should be something in the legislation whereby there could be water traded or a one-time shipment of water to a country or another province where there are lives at risk, cattle at risk or any of these things which would give the province an opportunity to transfer a shipment of water to the aid of another province or another state to save lives and save livestock, or whatever.

Mr. Speaker, I talked earlier about the Bras d'Or Lakes. We all know how important the Bras d'Or Lakes are. We have heard, many times, about the pollution going into the Bras d'Or Lakes from untreated sewage from towns and villages that don't have the facilities or the resources to treat their sewage. I know some jurisdictions where they run their surface water or the rainwater through the same collector system as their sewer lines. I think this is an area that should be explored and this is where some of our resources should be spent to correct that and to make sure that if there is any way of recycling water and to save it, it should certainly be looked at.

Mr. Speaker, the 25 litres has been kicked around here pretty well by everyone who spoke. It has some concerns for many of us. Over the years I spent many weekends in my trailer travelling over jurisdictions, I am sure I would have had more than 25 litres of water in the storage tanks. They mentioned fish trucks and there are several other services provided where there must be potable water moving across jurisdictions that would be in excess of 25 litres. I am sure that if it were to be balanced out, you would find it travelling both ways, water coming in and water going out. So, I am not sure that the 25 litres is a sensible amount.

[6:15 p.m.]

Of course we are also glad to see that the government has considered the fishers who make their living off the sea. Of course there again there must be a transfer of water across jurisdictions for the benefit of the fisher people.

Mr. Speaker, another issue that has been raised is policing such a movement of our resources across borders. Are we going to have somebody monitor every truck that goes across the border or comes in, as to what their cargo may be. Are we going to make them measure the water in their holding tanks or how is it going to be policed? These are some of the things that jump out at me as I look through this piece of legislation.

[Page 3657]

As I stated earlier, the government is on the right track in protecting our resources. It is not the only resource we should try to protect, we have many resources in the province that have been abused and, indeed, water is not the least. We see our forests, that the cutting and harvesting of our forests is not monitored closely enough to protect that resource. So, Mr. Speaker, I believe the government is moving in the right direction. I am happy to see the bill before us. We will see what it looks like when it comes back from the Law Amendments Committee and maybe the minister will have a look at the issues we raised here on this side of the House and will end up with a contribution from this caucus, as well as the NDP caucus and this will be a worthwhile piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, with those remarks I will take my seat and turn the floor over to somebody who is prepared to continue.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on An Act to Protect the Water Resources of Nova Scotia. I know that every time we receive a glass of water in the Legislative Assembly that we often take this commodity, this natural resource, for granted because it is found in abundance in the Province of Nova Scotia. I am very pleased to see that this government has decided to bring in a bill that will protect this natural resource. So often Nova Scotians have lost that kind of revenue and return on their natural resources.

Mr. Speaker, I want to speak about one natural resource in particular, that is gypsum. In this province we allow gypsum to be transported out of this province for 12 cents a ton because private industry and private entity was allowed to negotiate that kind of contractual agreement with the Province of Nova Scotia. That is a period over many years, some of these arrangements have been up to 50 to 100 year arrangements that, in fact, a natural resource like National Gypsum can actually be sold for a song. That is exactly what has happened here. The natural resource of fisheries off the coast of Nova Scotia has been utilized to the point whereby it has been exploited by major private sector corporations in a selfish interest to satisfy their own particular bottom line and not in the best interests of Nova Scotians.

Each of these resources, Mr. Speaker, are resources that could have made Nova Scotia a have province, much the same as the natural resource of water. It is often that we take the natural resource of water for granted. Mr. Speaker, we don't live in a country where, in fact, water and the need for water is of such prime importance to sustain its life in countries such as Ethiopia. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, talking about water, we don't have to go any further than countries like England where, in fact, they privatized their water resources, where, in fact, families who live in England now have water meters on their taps. If they can't afford to put a coin in the water meter, they can't afford to have the natural resource such as water. Let's not look at this as something that we cannot and should not just simply take for granted, but something that we should protect.

[Page 3658]

Mr. Speaker, we talk about the enforcement and regulation of a domestic resource such as water. I want to tell you that we are very fortunate that we live in a province that, unlike my colleague for Richmond who indicated that we are such small players in this field with respect to water as a natural resource, well, allow me to tell you that water as a natural resource in this province is a renewable resource that continues on and on and on and can be transported much the same as major players in British Columbia or in the North as well with respect to the flow of freshwater icebergs and so on. As we know, many of those icebergs are now tapped by the Province of Newfoundland into some of its commercial development as well.

I think it is significantly important to recognize that when we look at the Halifax Regional Municipality and what it has done to protect its water, and there are a number of members who served on the Halifax Regional Municipality who sit in this Legislative Assembly today, Mr. Speaker, and many of those people can attest to the fine natural resource of water and the domestic use of that water and one of the best water qualities in North America as a matter of fact. It has been rated as one of the finest drinking waters in North America. I also want to say that with the new water supply in the City of Dartmouth as well that we have a natural water resource that is in fact available to most (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if I could ask all honourable members to turn the volume down just a little bit so we can hear the speaker, the honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I think it is important for us to know, and I think it is important for the members of the government in power to understand how important this bill is. We are here speaking in support of this legislation and we are here speaking in support of this bill. I want you to know that my colleague for Timberlea-Prospect and my colleague from Halifax Needham have all spoken in support of this bill that is coming forward.

We think it is a good bill, and the Government House Leader says, good, he says, thank you, and he is absolutely right because it allows Nova Scotians to have control of a natural resource which is rightfully theirs. It does not allow this domestic resource to be open to exploitation and to be sold by privatized corporations as a commodity. Those are very important aspects of this bill. It also indicates how much of this water will be transported out of the province. There are concerns with respect to regulations and enforcement.

Mr. Speaker, what happens if one decides to transport live fish, particularly freshwater fish, and the freshwater fish happen to be coming over into supertankers? And what happens if that bulk supertanker decides that in order to sustain the life of that fish until it gets to another nation, it is important that supertanker has to be filled. There are no regulations and no control with respect to the volume and the usage and it is something that the government should look at with respect to the transportation of this. I know that it looks at the packaging portion, it looks at the process of frozen fish, but it doesn't look at the process of the

[Page 3659]

transportation of live water species across to other continents and supertankers certainly can come in and fill up. There is that one regulation to look at as well.

I think it is important that we recognize that what we are actually talking about is the protection of what is called freshwater and the freshwater within our lakes and in our rivers. All of which Nova Scotians use as recreational resources and recreational benefits as well. One has to recognize that the water that we are protecting is not only water for domestic use such as drinking and so on, it is for pleasure, it is for activities. It is in order to sustain life as well, in order to sustain our fishing industry, it is a need to sustain our tourism industry. There are a number of areas we look at with respect to the use of water as a natural resource in Nova Scotia.

I often harken back to when in this part of the province there are those very fine days in July, those very dry days in July and August, when in fact there is no water. It impresses upon us the importance of recognizing that this domestic resource is a natural resource, although found in abundance, is sometimes really needed within this province. It is needed in this province to assist farmers through drought, to sustain the fishing industry. There are several uses for this commodity and one that we ought to take very seriously and I am very pleased that this government is taking this seriously as well.

I think that what we can do is look at some of the regulatory concerns and the enforcement concerns. My colleague for Timberlea-Prospect spoke about the enforcement concerns of what is $1 million. Well, what is $1 million if it is a one-time penalty? And what is $1 million if a major corporation decides that several million dollars worth of water can be transported in a short period of time and pay that penalty of $1 million? It becomes ineffective and there ought to be the review with respect to that enforcement. There ought to be reviews with respect to regulations, the transporting of water and the realistic use of water. I remember the colleague for Richmond who indicated that during the period of time as a young lad he was out fishing with 50 litres of water and he had mentioned that he had gone for four days out fishing. Well, 50 litres of water is certainly not significant for four days fishing with four people in a boat, that is for sure.

There is also the need to transport it out of the province to other provinces simply because some people may have cottages in other provinces and they may be in drought-stricken areas at the particular time and may very well need that water, as one Member of the Legislative Assembly has said, to prime the pump to get his well started. All those are very significant, they are very important factors to be considered and I know that the honourable House Leader will be looking at that kind of legislative change, those kinds of regulations and that sort of enforcement that has to go with drafting good legislation. It is important to recognize that we think that simply because this is legislation that it won't happen.

[Page 3660]

I can assure you that if the need becomes great and the concern and the need for economic wealth and self-sufficiency of the Province of Nova Scotia, it can be tempted to sell a domestic resource such as water; there is a very need for that, and there can be legislation that comes in that follows this. We have to be very careful and cognizant of the kind of changes in the legislation that will prevent that from happening. We need to make sure that if, in fact, there are significant legislative changes to this Bill No. 32 that, in fact, it comes before this Legislative Assembly and that in fact it is debated as vigorously as, in fact, this new bill here to protect the water resources is debated today.

[6:30 p.m.]

I think it is significantly important to recognize that. Mr. Speaker, this, in my opinion, is a bill that takes a step - not a giant step - in the right direction. It is to protect the natural resource that we find in abundance, water, that often we take for granted. That is the kind of legislation that we, as lawmakers, are here to enshrine and to ensure happens. Remember that we are the custodians for natural resources such as this and we would hope that Nova Scotians have entrusted us, as legislators, to make sure that good legislation is what is paramount when we bring it forward to this Legislative Assembly.

I certainly don't want to see this, as a commodity, go by the way as some of our own natural resources that we have already lost in this province. Once again one example, I want to just go back and touch base with respect to our gypsum; 12 cents a ton, Mr. Speaker, that is extremely difficult for me to come to grips with when in my backyard I can watch trainloads of gypsum being loaded on and transported to another country, to be sent back to us as a manufactured good. We get very little return from that and that is one of the things that makes Nova Scotia a have-not province.

We don't sustain what is ours and we don't take or create or cause and effect what is ours to take advantage of and to turn around and make sure that it is in the best use, and I should not use the term, take advantage of, but to use in the best interest of all Nova Scotians. Therein lies the concern that I have.

So having spoken on this bill for longer than I anticipated when I first got up, I have to say that it is important to recognize that the members on this side of the Legislative Assembly do agree with this bill, even though we consider it a small step. We do agree that there ought to be some changes and we are looking forward to those cooperative changes in Law Amendments Committee. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and offer a few comments on this particular piece of legislation, An Act to Protect the Water Resources of Nova Scotia, better known as Bill No. 32. I think any attempt to protect the water resources

[Page 3661]

in Nova Scotia is a good effort and I commend the minister in that regard. I am going to qualify that with a couple of other observations but the general thrust and the intent of the legislation is good so I commend the honourable Government House Leader, on behalf of the minister, for bringing this forward for second reading.

I think when we are dealing on the principle of a bill of this nature, it conjures up a whole lot of images in one's mind about the importance of protecting all our natural resources, our forestry, our mineral resources, indeed, our water resources. I can't help but think, should someone ever point the finger at someone like myself for trying to export water out of Nova Scotia in an improper fashion, I could only draw to their attention back when we were trying to raise a few sheep out in Grand Mira on a hot summer day we were always required to go down to the Mira River and fill up these 25 gallon buckets with water and put them on the back of the chuck wagon and the tractor would tow them up. But by the time we got from the bottom of the hill to the top of the hill, we would be lucky if we had one litre of water in the bucket, let alone the 25 gallons we were supposed to have, so I would make a pretty poor representative trying to export water out of the Province of Nova Scotia if that type of equal representation were to prevail.

Equally so, Mr. Speaker, on a more serious note, it also conjures up many of the images and concerns raised by residents in my constituency over the last number of years with regard to the various water supplies in industrial Cape Breton, as those who may or may not be aware, there are several watershed areas in industrial Cape Breton. There is the Sydney watershed supply and there is also the Sydney River watershed supply and I am sure there may be others but, for the purposes of industrial Cape Breton, those are the two that I identify with.

Many can also recall the (Interruption) well, that's right, Pottle's Lake as well, over on the Northside. Many will recall in recent years all the concern that was raised about the Sydney water supply , the fact that we had a rather antiquated system supplying water to the residents of the City of Sydney and, indeed, the fact that the water supply within the Sydney watershed had deteriorated somewhat in the recent number of years, i.e., the last 10 to 12 years.

I believe the records will show at the Department of the Environment that over the past 10 to 12 years that the mean water table within that water supply, that watershed area, declined upwards of close to one foot, given all the temperature variations, fluctuations between summer and, well, I guess some would say the seasonal variations, the fact that we have had less snow. If you take everything into account, the bottom line is the water table today is close to being a foot lower than it was 12 years ago. That is documented, by the way, Mr. Speaker, at the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment. That has not been very well advertised but it is a reality.

[Page 3662]

So you take those two issues and you look at, well, what were they going to do? So they went to the point of drilling a number of large wells. I believe there are three or six wells in various locations on the outskirts of the Sydney watershed supply area, to provide a freshwater supply to the residents within the city. What happened after that was done, Mr. Speaker? That is a good project, although some would argue that perhaps what they should have done was gone to the Sydney River watershed and taken over the pumping station that is now not being used by Sydney Steel Corporation which, by the way, Mr. Speaker, would supply the same amount of water to the city residents for the entire population as it did to Sydney Steel Corporation itself, on a daily basis.

In other words, if you were to start using the Sydney River water supply, through the pumping station in Sydney River, instead of pumping it to Sydney Steel, pump it to all 23,000 residents within the original City of Sydney boundaries, you would have had enough water.

Now, the issue of export, one could say, well, what do they do instead. They drill these wells through the original Municipality of the County of Cape Breton and what happened, in essence, is we had a lowering of the water table in various communities on the outskirts of the Sydney watershed because they moved into the Sydney River watershed and they also moved, to a certain extent, to the watershed within the Mira, what they used to call the Mira Basin watershed, as far out as Hills Road, just overlooking the Mira River, which would be at least anywhere from 8 to 10 miles from the City of Sydney.

So when you would have that type of depression in the water table, obviously, when you are transporting water from one jurisdiction to the other, quite clearly it has a detrimental effect. I would suspect that could be no more true than if one were to start exporting water outside the Province of Nova Scotia.

So we have a lot of localisms within the province, Mr. Speaker, that the government, for whatever reason, has not been able to address. It certainly was a problem when we were sitting in government and I am sure the same problem applies to the Government of Nova Scotia as it is today. One has to stop and also look, as the Minister of Economic Development would say, outside the box. There was a recent report by CBC News, less than one week ago, that reported that 60 per cent of the ozone layer has been depleted above us in North America. So, obviously, that will have not only a profound effect on radiation and so on, but it will certainly have a major impact on the atmospheric conditions that generate the cycle of precipitation. That, obviously, is having an impact on the water tables around Nova Scotia.

Down in the Valley last year, there was a major concern with the Valley farmers about being able to supply sufficient water to be able to grow their crops. Mr. Speaker, although it was not very well reported in some circles, perhaps very well reported in others, I don't think it really caught the public's eye to the extent that one would think it would, given the seriousness of the situation. They were in a critical state in that entire water basin area. Under the Environment Act, I think one could very easily argue that by going in and drawing water

[Page 3663]

of such large proportions from these water sources did, in fact, contravene some of our own domestic pieces of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I guess the point I am making is, as per the Minister of Transportation and Public Works' comments, indeed, we are facing a bit of a mini crisis with our water supply. We are not in a critical state, but I think all indications are, for a variety of reasons, we are moving to that. So, hence, the government has taken in its wisdom to introduce this particular piece of legislation to try and take measures to protect our water supply.

Mr. Speaker, it has been noted by the Leader of the Liberal Party, one many would argue, Leader of the Official Opposition, has certainly made the argument, very eloquently. That went past them. (Interruption) See how quick you can be? He raised the concern about the implications of free trade on this particular piece of legislation. One has to go back and look into the annals of history and view, read or observe some of the observations that were made at that time by ourselves when we were in Opposition here in the province. That was during the time of Premier John Buchanan and, I believe, the Honourable Donald Cameron was Minister of Economic Development or Trade and Industry, or whatever title was in sync at that time.

There was a lot of concern about resources. I can recall sitting at the Law Amendments Committee at that particular point in time, and I recall raising this issue about the export of water - and I am sure the transcripts in the committee's office would certainly bear this out - and concern about our resources and the fact that many of our provincial pieces of legislation would be superseded by the free trade agreement because it was a national agreement that was signed by all 10 provinces and the respective territories and the federal government, and subsequently with the United States Government.

[6:45 p.m.]

I recall as well, the then Minister of Development, Mr. Cameron, taking great issue with the concern that I raised then, Mr. Speaker. I believe he accused our caucus of raising this as a bogeyman, that every time we saw a problem with a piece of legislation, we always try to blame it on free trade.

Mr. Speaker, I believe there is considerable and reasonable basis for that concern and I believe our Leader, the Leader of the Official Opposition, has very professionally and very succinctly made the case that the issue of transport and export of water, as a resource, being party to the free trade agreement, has not been clarified. It is ironic, and not without some justification, that members of our caucus would be somewhat suspect with some of the intentions when you review some of the comments that were made in the past on some of the issues of resource and resource management as they relate to free trade. If water were to be exported as a commercial product, as a resource that could be exported, then in fact the issues and the concerns of free trade would certainly come into question. If you go down through

[Page 3664]

the United States, there are many jurisdictions that are lacking in sufficient quality water supply.

It is certainly to the advantage of the United States to access this large natural resource north of the U.S.-Canadian border. We have a population of approximately 30 million. They have ten times that. They have extensive amounts of pollution and excessive demands for water supplies that they do not have. So ultimately they would certainly make the case and argue that water is a natural resource that they would want to access.

It is ironic, Mr. Speaker, when I go back through some of the reports that were prepared on free trade back in 1987, one cannot help but take notice of the comments that were made by the then Leader of the Progressive Conservative caucus, federally, when he stated, "Don't talk to me about free trade. That issue was decided in 1911. Free trade is a danger to Canadian sovereignty. You'll hear no more of it from me." That was a quote by Brian Mulroney in 1983. This was before he became Prime Minister, but I guess when he became Prime Minister, that attitude seemed to have changed a bit.

Mr. Speaker, this is what his counterpart says when it comes to issues such as the resources in Canada and the free trade agreement. This quote is by Clayton Yeutter, Y-e-u-t-t-e-r, the US Trade Representative and his quote on October 1987: "The Canadians don't understand what they have signed. In 20 years, they will be sucked into the US economy."

Here is the counterpart to Brian Mulroney telling us that we are suckers. At the same time that the provincial counterpart to the Brian Mulroney philosophy is now bringing in pieces of legislation that may very well be inferior to the free trade agreement, an issue that certainly has not be qualified or clarified. You wonder why, Mr. Speaker, it would be somewhat suspect. We support any initiative to try and protect the natural resources of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, if you read through the free trade agreement, the piece of legislation that was enacted here under the previous Tory Administration, An Act to Implement the Agreement on Internal Trade, then you put all this together and you will find, in conjunction with the Mineral Resources Act, assented to in 1990, you can see there are some escape clauses because there are provisions for the minister to issue special permits. I would ask that the minister perhaps, either when it goes to the Law Amendments Committee or in fact when we come back to a Committee of the Whole House, that consideration be given to tightening up this section of the legislation because if we are to ensure that the principle and the intent of this particular piece of legislation is adhered to, then I would suggest that the respective minister or ministers address this particular aspect of it.

I want also to reinforce the argument of my concern. Anyone who is a regular sports fisherman around the province would find that - particularly anyone over the age of 25 - would recall 20 years back where you could go fishing in this spring and the brooks would

[Page 3665]

be just overflowing the banks anywhere in this province for the best part of a month before they would level out to the summer levels, but today that is not the case. We will get a reasonably high surge for two or three days and then, all of a sudden, it is like the ground is so permeable that the water almost literally disappears because the flow line is so low and, Mr. Speaker, there are numerous brooks I could identify where the water-table is considerably lower than it was 20 years ago. I believe anyone, as I said, who is over the age of 25 and has gone sports fishing would certainly remember the point that I make.

Mr. Speaker, one also has to consider the issue of policing, and I realize some of my colleagues have addressed that particular issue. Let's go back to drawing the analogy with some of the other factors we have. When you go to the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick border I am given reason to believe that a thorough inspection of all the vehicles that go through would not amount to any more than 25 per cent or 30 per cent of the total number of vehicles that travel from one jurisdiction to the other. So, Mr. Speaker, if we are having difficulty on issues such as meat inspection, and that concern has been raised previously in this House on numerous occasions, actually, and is a major health issue, we had concerns about meat inspection at the United States-Canadian border, where the inspection of meats coming into Canada was not as rigid and forceful as it should be but, yet, when our products are going to the United States, it could be quite the contrary.

What is to say if we find ourselves in a position where we are exporting a product that perhaps we don't want to, another jurisdiction could very well say, oh, well that is to our benefit so we are not going to be too heavy-handed about this. Let's spot check one in every nine, or something like that. I believe, Mr. Speaker, the issue with the regulations governing meat inspections was a major issue. I believe that remains still a major issue to this very day.

What happens when we start dealing with a very precious resource such as water. Obviously we are dealing with freshwater supplies. God forbid it doesn't come to the point where, similar to what they are doing over in Kuwait and some of the United Arab Emirates where they have saline plants. Mr. Speaker, the cost of running one of those saline plants would work out to somewhere in the vicinity of (Interruption) desalination, that is right. They are taking the salt out and making it fresh to drink. Desalination plants. I have heard figures bantered around, that the actual cost on present market value today of taking the salt out of those water supplies is anywhere from $1.00 to $1.25 per litre. It certainly would be an incentive for any entity, country, jurisdiction or vested interest to want to access Canadian water and in particular, Nova Scotia fresh-water supplies, when they can get it for very little or nothing. It is a major concern and for that reason we support the thrust of what the minister is saying. I believe, as has been stated, that that concern has to be clarified in conjunction with the free trade agreement.

Obviously, the working component of this piece of legislation are the regulations. Without the regulations this piece of legislation is just simply paper talk and that is all it is. Yet when the Governor in Council will be approving the regulations they have that option,

[Page 3666]

they can adopt them or they can not adopt them, that is entirely up to themselves. It doesn't say that the Governor in Council "shall" make regulations, it says the Governor in Council "may" make regulations.

If it is the intent of the government to ensure that we are protecting our precious water resource then perhaps the Governor in Council would want to make those regulations available to all members of the House so that we could provide our point of view on it to ensure that we do have the best quality regulations coming out. We certainly would not want to have the same thing happen as what happened with the Occupational Health and Safety General Regulations, we had approved them to become effective October 1, 1999 and when the Progressive Conservative Administration took over they delayed them for three months.

AN HON. MEMBER: Six months.

MR. MACKINNON: Six months, was it? Six months and then, after another six months, another minister comes along and he only approves certain ones; this, Mr. Speaker, after a rather exhaustive consultation with literally hundreds upon hundreds of different groups of stakeholders across the province. Ironically, some of those stakeholders that the government took so much issue with when they were in Opposition, appointed some of them to their boards to advise them on why they should delay the regulations. I am really perplexed as to the thrust of some of the initiatives by the particular government when it comes to regulations. If we have a very important piece of legislation before this House, you would think that the Governor in Council would want all members to have an opportunity to view these regulations in advance or in concert with the legislation to ensure any of these issues of ambiguity would be cleared up.

[7:00 p.m.]

What are the rules of engagement, Mr. Speaker? Is this just a piece of legislation that looks good? It has good optics, politically, because everybody would say, yes, we want you to protect our water supply. Well, certainly we do. We were faced with those issues when we were in government. But if this legislation is somewhat ultra vires to the federal free trade agreement, then all is for naught.

Mr. Speaker, there is provision that the minister can overrule the export, limiting the export, under certain provisions, if he and the Governor in Council so see fit. All you have to do is look at Clause 5, and I don't want to start getting into individual clauses, but it certainly would call into question the principle of the legislation, much as what happened with the community health boards when the Minister of Health said one of the principles of the legislation was finance and the Speaker ruled against that. We are getting mixed signals. Are we going to get the same thing here? We have to ask those questions.

[Page 3667]

Mr. Speaker, we realize that any effort by the government to protect one of the most precious resources that we have is good. I think it would be incumbent on the government, as well, to give us an overview of what the status is of our water supply in Nova Scotia, to the best technical and available data information. I think it is important. How does that size up? Are we in a declining state? Are we going to be in a situation where in another five to ten years time we will be actually forced to go and import water?

Mr. Speaker, this legislation raises a lot of other questions, as well. It also raises the questions surrounding the utilization of our fresh water supply on a number of domestic, commercial and industrial fronts. I, again, go back to a similar type issue that came up in my own community several years ago when there was concern about considerable pollution within the Sydney River water supply. The entire community of Sydney, the outskirts of Sydney, Sydney River, Howie Centre, Coxheath and out towards Blacketts Lake, almost right out to East Bay where the water supply comes in from a stream of lakes coming from Loch Lomond come into the Sydney River water supply.

Mr. Speaker, unbeknownst to a lot of people, there is a major fracture in the syncline on which this community sits. For those who don't know what a syncline is, it is kind of a large trough-like rock basin which the entire community sits on. You go down several hundred feet and you go into a rock curvature in the earth. That cuts right across. It is a geological setting upon which the entire community sits, that evolved through the ice age tens of thousands of years ago. For a number of reasons, there is a fracture in that. This entire community, water table included, is supposed to act as a barrier between all the surface activity and the ground water, which is our safe water supply, which, by the way, is now feeding into the adjoining community of the former City of Sydney.

So with all the activity that took place over the last number of years, there was concern because the residents in that general area wanted something to be done to address the growing pollution because of human activity. For example, in Floral Heights subdivision, there are some 450 homes, and every one of them, Mr. Speaker, are on-site sewage disposal systems. Now, there was always a general understanding in the early and late 1970's and early 1980's that any subdivision with more than 75 lots would require a hydrogeological survey analysis to determine the impact any further on-site development would have, not only on the permeation, but eventually into the groundwater. That never ever seemed to make it into regulation or full adherence.

So, eventually, a problem did evolve in this particular community, and it was not until after close to two years of considerable lobbying and pressure by people like myself and more so the residents within that subdivision that that problem was addressed in part by putting a number of major wells to provide fresh water for a certain percentage of the subdivision. But it is only a matter of time, if problems like this are not addressed, that our groundwater supply will, in fact, be compromised even further.

[Page 3668]

Mr. Speaker, I am not just talking about a couple of hundred homes, I am talking about literally thousands of people who are affected, because of this groundwater supply, the former City of Sydney is being supplied, so you are talking about 23,000 residents there alone, not to mention some 4,500 residents in and around the immediate Sydney River area, and if you want to take in Coxheath and out through Blackett's Lake and up through East Bay, then you would certainly see that we are talking perhaps another 5,000. We are talking about anywhere from 35,000 to 40,000 residents who are affected.

AN HON. MEMBER: Now you are exaggerating.

MR. MACKINNON: Well, you have 23,000 in the city, 22,000 to 23,000 in the City of Sydney, you have approximately 4,500 in Sydney River and Howie Centre alone. If you take in Howie Centre and Sydney Forks and East Bay and you go over into Blacketts Lake and Coxheath, you will pick up another 5,000 without too much difficulty. So, you are talking about 35,000, not to mention, if you go over on the top of this incline, you are going along Prime Brook out the Marion Bridge Highway and so it doesn't take long to be affecting a large number of residents.

Mr. Speaker, that in itself is an issue of concern that perhaps the minister and the government would want to provide that type of vital information so that if residents in the outlying areas are affected they would want to address. In effect, we are exporting from one part of the province to the other. I am sure if you go down to the Valley, with the farmers who have major problems with irrigating water onto their farms, that certainly that issue would want to be addressed.

Mr. Speaker, I believe the government really has an opportunity to do a lot of good things on this particular piece of legislation. I believe as well, one also could very easily relate to some of the major problems that the Department of Natural Resources is having. The Department of Natural Resources is having lots of problems because of a shortage of water supplies. You speak to anyone within the Department of Natural Resources involved in resource management, they will tell you, Mr. Speaker, they have a growing concern because of the water-table, the low amounts of water in the brooks and the streams feeding into the rivers and the rivers into the ocean. Of course, it all ties into this particular Atlantic drainage basin.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let's go one step further. What about our resident Nova Scotians who are also members of the native community? What if they decided they wanted to export water? What if they said we think that is a good business opportunity? How will the government deal with that? It would be very interesting. They could very easily make a very strong legal argument that they have rights. Has the Minister of Natural Resources given any consideration to that? Has the Minister of the Environment? (Interruption) That is right, the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, well, we cannot speak to the deputy minister because that person is gone.

[Page 3669]

These are major issues that extend far beyond just this legislation, Mr. Speaker. These are the issues that are all interconnected with free trade and there are numerous locations across the province that members from the native community could use, you know, the revenues from the VLTs, or whatever gaming machines they use, to generate revenues for economic and social benefits for their community, that they could use this to start an export business for bottled water. What are the contractual arrangements that this government would be prepared to produce to achieve with the native community here in Nova Scotia? They have been completely silent on this.

Mr. Speaker, I know that if one wanted to look at the dynamics of this particular legislation, any intent to help protect our water resources in the Province of Nova Scotia is good. But we have to look beyond just the facade and the optics of a piece of legislation that says we are going to do something. It looks great but in reality, does it achieve its goal? I would suggest that there are many more questions here than there are answers and I think they are legitimate questions.

I would hope and I would encourage representatives from all different sectors of the economy to come and make representation, whether it be to the Department of Natural Resources; it would be interesting to see some of our technical expertise from these various departments come and enlighten members of the Legislature because we are not always experts on every aspect of some of these very demanding issues that are before the House and that is why we have this expertise. (Interruption) Well, we will until at least the budget comes down. Maybe we will be short a few more.

But on a serious note, Mr. Speaker, I would encourage the minister to have his staff come and provide some explanations as to the real impact of this legislation. Why now - someone has to ask the question - why now? Are all these pieces of legislation that seem to be kind of softening us up for the budget, you know, are they really going to achieve their goal? If they are, well, that is fine. Or are they more designed to appease the general public and show that this is a government that wants to do good things for the people of Nova Scotia? The government withdrew one piece of legislation, or at least put it on the back burner, because it was found that it was going to be a taxing issue for the municipalities. So it did not take long for that good news story to go sour.

AN HON. MEMBER: What bill was that?

MR. MACKINNON: The johns bill. So then we have the issue on community health boards. It did not take long for the government to scurry for cover on that and they are hoping, Mr. Speaker, (Interruptions) I am receiving some encouragement from the Leader who never was, from the socialist Party. He made his announcement today that he is not going to run. I am not sure if all members were aware of that but we thought we would help him along and encourage him. I don't know if that is a sign that they will never form the government or never form Official Opposition, but we will leave that for a future day.

[Page 3670]

[7:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I don't want to get caught by rabbit tracks because I know the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid is perhaps anxious to enter into this particular debate. He knows all too well that this is a very serious issue and one also, just to go back a few years to the issue of Boat Harbour in Pictou County, when the federal government was relieving itself of its responsibility for many of these inland waters across the province. Boat Harbour, by the way, as many may or not be aware - I am sure the members for Pictou County would be aware - was a rather polluted water source because of reported activities from an industrial source. Then, when it came to addressing the issue of water quality the federal government gave up all its responsibility for any of these inland waters, one of which, by the way, was the issue with regard to the Mira River. I would still take issue with the federal government even to this very day.

Many of the wharves in the inlets, the wharfing facilities across this province are now (Interruptions) it is too easy, I can't. I have to stay on the water issue. Even in recent years the federal government has relieved its responsibility, against the wishes of many provincial jurisdictions and here in Nova Scotia, with regard to inland waters. They are relieving their responsibility of a lot of the wharves and docking facilities, covered traditionally under the responsibility of the federal government. In one particular case, in the constituency that I represent, the Mira River, there were at least half a dozen government wharves along the Mira River at one time and several of them in recent days, the federal government has been trying to yield its responsibility to that.

With that goes a number of other issues that relate directly to the issue of water and water supply, freshwater in the province, because these rivers flow into the Atlantic Ocean or, as referred to in this particular piece of legislation, the Atlantic drainage basin. So, they do have a profound impact because there are certain monitoring processes that have an impact, particularly with the protection of the water. If the federal government is giving up its responsibility, monitoring these water supplies is also a major concern.

Also, Mr. Speaker, if that, in effect, becomes the responsibility of the province, what provisions are in place by the Department of the Environment to ensure this quality water supply? With all the cutbacks that have been taking place with the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment, the fact that the Department of the Environment is now being merged with the Department of Labour, there is a reducing focus, a reduced emphasis on the importance of this particular issue. So, the minister of the day, whenever this legislation comes to fruition, where will his priority be addressing the issues of labour? There are issues that cross over into the environmental aspects and that minister could very well find himself or herself in a conflict of interest. How will that be addressed, Mr. Speaker? I would ask the government to give very serious consideration to some of these issues that have been addressed.

[Page 3671]

The limitation of 25 litres or more, that issue in itself could very easily be circumvented by the regulatory process enacted by Governor in Council. That very easily could be circumvented by virtue of the fact that the Governor in Council would have the power to introduce regulations in concert with Clause 5 of the bill that would allow the minister to be able to enact measures outside what is prescribed in each of the clauses of this particular bill. It is not quite as simple as it seems and it is not as meaty as it appears at first blush.

I would ask the minister to give those points some very serious consideration and also to address some of the issues that I have raised in terms of federal-provincial responsibilities, provincial responsibility with the native community, with the fact that the Minister of the Environment would also be representing the Minister of Labour and with the rather precarious position that sometimes the Minister of Labour can find himself or herself in on labour-related matters with small and, in particular, large companies in the Province of Nova Scotia.

I think these are very serious issues; the fact that these regulations are only optional, they may or not be implemented, we don't know for sure exactly where the government will go with that. I really believe the government is sincere in trying to do something good to protect the water resources of Nova Scotia, but I would also ask the minister to do what he can to ensure that if we are faced with a depleting water supply, that he and his government outline what the long-term contingency plans are, particularly as they relate to our natural resources, i.e. the agricultural community.

If we have another dry summer similar to what happened in the Valley last year, what contingency plans does the provincial government have to deal with that? What are the legislative requirements on the transport of water from one jurisdiction to the other? Are we going to be in a position where we could import water from New Brunswick to address some of these needs? Perhaps, perhaps not. Maybe other provincial jurisdictions won't be as open-minded as we are. You take all that, and given the fact that, as has been mentioned by me, and other speakers, the concern about global warming and all the other issues such as industrial pollution.

One has to look at the Sydney tar ponds. The profound implications of what has transpired there because of industrial activity over the last 100 years will be with us for generations. We are not naive to the fact that that pollution has permeated down below the rock table. This is an issue of extraordinary consequences and if measures had not been taken essentially to transport the water from the Mira watershed into the Sydney watershed, these residents would have lots of problems, and I dare say the Minister of Health would be having lots of visits, and he would have lots of visitors on his doorstep. There would be lots of commissioning of studies and so on.

[Page 3672]

Mr. Speaker, there is also our chief medical officer for the province with regard to the algae, the bacterial count. I forget what term was used because of the deterioration or the biodegrading of the leaves and different sediment that would settle in the watershed areas across this province, had certain types of bacterial counts up, whatever the term is, I believe the minister knows exactly what I am referring to. The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, if that is not a problem, then the information that is being received across the province is wrong.

When you start drawing water to supply and irrigate to a lot of these large commercial operations and farming, it is invariably going to have an impact on the water supply of these watersheds because there is generally a natural flow. They are settled in an incline or a basin of one geographical formation or the other. I think, Mr. Speaker, perhaps unwittingly the Minister of the Environment has drawn us on a bigger issue than what is even recorded in this particular piece of legislation. I think these are the types of things that, in fact, should be addressed.

To have pieces of regulations or legislation that simply just speak to the issue are very proactive and address the issue in a really meaningful sense, I think is wrong. I know my colleagues from down the Valley will be receiving lots of calls from their constituents this summer on the issue of irrigation. Am I going to be allowed to irrigate water from this basin or that water supply, from the North Mountain, from the South Mountain? There will be many issues raised that will be at odds to each other.

Mr. Speaker, I think the Minister of Economic Development also has a responsibility here. The Minister of Economic Development has an opportunity to bring to the forefront some of these issues on interprovincial trade and the issues of protecting our natural resources under the free trade agreement. If water is excluded, and I believe all members would readily conclude that on the issue of free trade, when it comes to the issue of water resource, it has been completely silent; it has not stated one way or the other.

If the words of our friend from the United States, the free trade negotiator, the trade representative are correct, then we have reason to be suspicious, Mr. Speaker. Again, I don't want to be repetitive, but it is worth noting, this is what our U.S. trade representative has stated after the agreement was signed, that Canadians don't understand what they have signed. In 20 years, they will be sucked into the U.S. economy. Now if this is what the U.S. trade representative states after we signed an agreement (Interruption) you wonder why we would be somewhat suspicious on an issue that it has been silent on in the agreement.

Mr. Speaker, I will table this for the socialist who would perhaps want to read the comments of the former socialist member for down in Kings County, Robert Levy of Kings South, before he gave up his socialist ways and took on a very promising and good career. Being stuck in a rut really wasn't doing him much good. I think he made a wise decision; good judgement, I would say, good judgment. I commend that honourable member. The honourable socialists are asking that I table this document. I think they would want to read

[Page 3673]

this, but I can't table it, Mr. Speaker, because it belongs to the legislative library. It is a public document. All they have to do is do a little bit of research and they will find out what the issues are. I will provide this to one of the Pages to bring back and put on public display for the socialists who are interested in some of the former members who have now found themselves in a better way of life.

[7:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I realize my time is drawing to a close. How much time do I have?

MR. SPEAKER: Approximately two minutes.

MR. MACKINNON: Now, with the full approbation of the House, Mr. Speaker, I could certainly speak for another half hour. (Interruption). I notice the member for Dartmouth South is shaking his head is dismay and discomfort, so I am going to take that as a no, but I would certainly welcome the intervention of such members as the member for Dartmouth South, because I know he is very keen on getting into the spirit of the debate. But, in all seriousness, I do congratulate the minister for bringing this piece of legislation before the House. It allows us an opportunity to address not only the principles of this particular piece of legislation, but also a number of other large, but unspoken issues. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East. (Applause)

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have an opportunity to speak to this piece of legislation. Actually, I quite heartily agree with legislation of this type. I think that there are a couple of things to be considered in our relationship to water and that is the volume and quality of it. This is a type of issue that I think resounds, or should resound, all the way across the country. I believe that it is incumbent upon all governments in this country to act in a responsible manner to ensure the quality and quantity of the water in their jurisdictions.

The honourable member who just spoke made comments referring to the free trade agreement and, in my opinion, the whole free trade agreement would have been worth the water in Canada if you consider what the Americans would get in respect to trade from a population the size of Canada. The water was well worth all of that, more than that, I think. Certainly, it is important for Canadians to be aware of that. We live in a land where the supply of water is so easily taken for granted. If it wasn't for the fact that most of the Canadian population is, for the most part, highly concentrated in certain areas, not very far north of the United States-Canada border, the fact that we do have some pockets of fairly large population that already, some years ago, experienced the need for some measure of control on the quantity of water, then I think that Canadians, for the most part, would have completely missed the point when it comes to volume of water in this country.

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Even in this province, and we don't have a large population for our land mass, we run into situations where we have our water problems. I think that until we come up with some policy or regulations affecting water use and maintaining quality of water, the whole notion of exporting large quantities of water shouldn't even be touched and I think shouldn't be touched, even then.

We tend to take water so much for granted, probably much in the same light that we take food for granted, we walk into a store and the food is on the shelf or in the cooler. We never have to worry about it and part of the reason that we are usually not willing to pay more is because of the quantity and the quality that is there. I think people should have started to think a little more about the water supply in the country and in this province when water sales in stores increased - or actually it was possible to buy water in stores. The thought should have been enough to wake up Nova Scotians to the notion that you can't always just turn on your tap and have good quality drinking water available to you. There are a lot of people who don't drink the water from their taps at all and will only drink bought water.

I think that because of the quality and quantity of water in our province, we tend to give it a relatively low status and I think that we tend to miss the point about the whole biological relationship between living things and water. Water is one of those compounds that is referred to as an abiotic substance - in other words, similar to air - that we tend to see as having a direct relationship between it and living things and I think anybody who has studied science or biology at all knows the relationship between all living things and the water on this planet. A relationship that we have been unable to escape and even in the case of mammals or all those land organisms that we have here - that we think that their evolution has taken them away from the water millions of years ago - they have never been able to escape the need of it, even in their reproduction. Without water there would be no conception of any living thing on this planet.

The one factor that seems to come into consideration when we talk about exporting water, and I think the most recent case was an application to export water in Newfoundland, which was turned down, I think, as a good thing. From what I can remember from that particular incident was the proximity of this particular fresh body of water to the coast. In other words it seemed to be only a short distance from the Atlantic Ocean inland to this large freshwater lake. That made it very attractive in the sense that there was almost no distance to transport that water to a barge sitting out in the Atlantic.

I think we tend to forget, not only just in relation to our own needs or the needs of our families when it comes to water supply, but we tend to forget the make-up of water in the ecosystems of the province or the country. I could see that probably the most dramatic case of water needs in North America is in the State of California where we have seen such urban sprawl - I am not even sure if the term urban sprawl applies in California because it has gone even beyond that - rivers that have become aqueducts, basically, cemented bottoms on them, no longer an ecologically productive environment at all. They are basically a sluiceway for

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water to be carried to the needs of the population there. I think that certainly if I was an American in the State of California, I would be looking north to the water supply in the expectation of getting Canadian water into that state.

I think it is in the interests of all Canadians and certainly in the interests of all Nova Scotians that we bring in legislation of this type. If we don't set some type of standard for what it is we want for the people in this province to take care of their needs, then nobody else is going to do that. I think we tend to think of water purely in terms of drinking and washing and taking it for granted, recreation in the summertime. In the last three years in Nova Scotia, if anybody isn't painfully aware of our relationship to the need for water, because of drought situations in this province for three years in a row, that really should send a message home that we need a really comprehensive management plan for the water in this province. I think it is something that really should not be left up to the municipalities, although I know some of them are trying to grapple with it.

In my own constituency we already are feeling the constraint of differing views or differing expectations for the water supply and those are around the very issues that have been discussed today in Bill No. 10, the Farm Practices Act, where we have an aquifer which exists underneath the Shubenacadie-Hardwood Lands area and we have a growing urban environment there, from Enfield to Shubenacadie. Shubenacadie, Milford and Hardwood Lands have been a long-established farming area.

Those farmers definitely make use of the water in that aquifer and have known about it for years. If you are producing something like milk, which is 90-plus per cent water, then you need to know that you have a good supply of water. Well, they do, they have an excellent supply. I don't know if the numbers have actually been tabulated as to how large that supply of water is, Mr. Speaker, but tests have been done recently and actually one of the best examples of the quality of water in that aquifer were discovered in drilling, looking for kaolin clay deposits in my riding. It was upon that drilling that they were able to identify this aquifer.

The largest supply of water right now in that area of Hants County is the Shubenacadie River which runs out of Grand Lake. Actually the growth in my riding borders the Shubenacadie River. That is the boundary line between my constituency and that of the honourable member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. So that river, which I think is the longest river in the province, running out to the Bay of Fundy or Minas Basin, so tapping that supply we would think, well, it is kind of an endless supply; Grand Lake is an enormous reservoir, it is about nine miles long and you would think there would be no end to the water. But in the last three years, in the case of the drought that has existed in Nova Scotia, the level of water coming out of the lake has been dramatically reduced and it has put a lot of pressure on the communities there, as far as how much water they are able to get. Actually it has put enough pressure on those communities that it has stifled growth in the communities. Industrial development in the area has been curtailed until we have a plan which will address the need for those businesses.

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So the thought that anyone could actually access that large body of water, to sell water, if you consider all the other needs for that water in the surrounding communities, would seem like a ridiculous notion and I think this bill addresses that. There is no way that you can really extract large amounts - and I am not entirely sure how anyone could determine what an appropriate amount would be - if you were to allow sales of water. I would see it, even though we think in the spring of the year water levels are higher and in the summer water levels are lower, then we tend to say, well anything that we are not using in the spring of the year we should be able to sell.

How do you determine that if you assume that there are natural biological factors that have come into play over millions of years that require those large amounts of water in the spring of the year to carry out specific biological functions that are not related to humans necessarily, but are related to a number of other organisms and it is because of those other factors that affect our overall welfare, health, et cetera, that we have to take into consideration. You cannot say we are going to remove this water as a separate unconnected entity to all the rest of the environment and assume that that will have no effect.

[7:45 p.m.]

I would say that some people will relate the recent droughts in Nova Scotia to a general warming trend on the planet, but this is a product of global warming. Others will say this is only something that has occurred many times over the eons and that we have experienced temperatures of this nature other times in the geological history of the earth and this is only a blimp on the screen and things will get back to being relatively normal if there is such a thing. They may be right and that is part of the problem in geological time, that nobody lives long enough to actually be able to experience the whole realm of possibilities and we have not been keeping records long enough in relation to this time to have any notion of whether or not this is actually accurate, but scientists do have a lot of technology, much more than they ever had before. They can make decisions based on trends as they see them appearing.

I would say that if we can consider that they can put a man on the moon in the 1960's, that probably we have the technology to figure out whether or not the trend of warming that we see is a product of global warming and will continue or if it is just a natural phenomenon that has occurred before and things will get back to what we would call relatively normal. I am not sure, but I assume from members in this House who are older than I am that they probably have recollections of weather conditions from their younger days that are certainly different from the conditions that we have now.

I spoke to a friend of mine the other evening and we talked about weather conditions on Prince Edward Island and this whole relationship of global warming. This individual told me that it was traditional for winters on Prince Edward Island for the snow to be almost up to the electrical wires on the telephone poles. In the case of this individual as a child, which would probably have been back in the 1930's, he had a ruptured appendix and to take him five

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miles to the train, it took a horse and sleigh and two extra horses that people rode, and as one horse became exhausted, they hitched up one of the others to go five miles because the snow was so deep that they would exhaust the horse. It took three to go five miles. Well, they have not seen winters on Prince Edward Island like that for probably close to 50 years, and every year in a progressive way, winters have gotten to be what we would refer to as much milder and much easier.

The question is even if we think about snow as a form of precipitation, then are we actually getting the same level of precipitation that we had traditionally in this province. If we are not, then we may be giving up a large amount of water naturally, than we ever expect to. If that is the case, then we are probably not in a very good position to think about exporting large amounts of freshwater.

All of these questions would be far easier to decide, Mr. Speaker, if we knew exactly what lay ahead in the future. If we knew all the variables, we could really make decisions that actually applied when we get down the road five years, 10 years, et cetera, but we do not. I think because we can be unsure of the effect of the things that are happening to the province now, and by that I mean Sable gas exploration, what other global factors that may affect prosperity of the province which would cause more Nova Scotians to stay here, or other Nova Scotians to come back, then we are going to possibly increase the demand for our water supply at a much greater level than what we have done in the past.

So the first thing we should try to ensure for Nova Scotians is that we have certainly enough water to meet their needs, as persons. The second thing we need to worry about is whether or not we have water for agricultural operations or industrial operations or for natural biological operations which occur that we think we don't have any impact on. These types of things are probably the least things that we analyse or qualify. I am not sure that all members or any members in the House recognize the fact that, through natural succession, water supplies held in large bodies, like lakes, et cetera, tend to get smaller over time. In other words, lakes generally don't get bigger. They tend to fill in and get smaller, so that affects that amount of water that is being held in any one spot. The formation of large bodies of water has only been through long processes over geological time. The shifting of land masses, which causes river courses to change, or river courses to be created, causes depressions that will hold water that were not there previously.

So, in the case of Nova Scotia, any of the freshwater bodies that we have in this province, have been established since the retreating of the last ice age in this province. So we are not really creating any more fresh bodies of water. So the ones that we have are the ones that we have to look after. We tend to think of the nature of water only in terms that the water we have is all pristine, that it is clear, it is clean, that it is usable. But we don't relate anything about the quantity of our water to what it is that we do to the water. How much of the water that we have present is water that we can't use, water that we have polluted, in one way or another? That takes away from the overall volume of water that is available to us and

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we tend to think only in terms of what it is that we pour into the water. We never think of what it is in terms of what actually seeps through the soil and winds up in the water supply.

In terms of the entire population and the future needs of the population, then it is well within the best interest of Nova Scotians at present, and particularly in the future, that we don't allow for the sale of water. I think that governments of today, and certainly of any day, would have to ask themselves, if you open that door, if you allow for the sale of large quantities of water, then what does that actually mean in a business sense? How do you regulate it? Who is it that you allow into it? Who do you keep out of it, et cetera? What do you do in regard to the transport of that water and the quality of that water? It is certainly not going to be unheard of for large barges like oil barges to be hauling a cargo of water rather than oil.

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if you are close enough to the moment of adjournment.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, I was going to, at 7:55 p.m., suggest that. But if you prefer now, this is fine. You can motion to adjourn.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: I will make a motion to adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a motion to adjourn debate on Bill No. 32 until the next day that it is on the order paper. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, could we have the consent of the House to revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 10 - Farm Practices Act.

Bill No. 30 - Flea Markets Regulation Act.

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Bill No. 35 - Housing Development Corporation Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the hours on the morrow will be from 2:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., and the order of business following the estimates will be the daily routine and then Question Period, and then for Government Business, Public Bills for Second Reading and, if time permits, we will have Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

I move that the House do now rise to meet Tuesday at the hour of 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned.

[The House rose at 7:56 p.m.]