Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Mon., May 1, 2000

First Session

MONDAY, MAY 1, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. K. Deveaux 4693
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. D. Downe 4694
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. K. Deveaux 4694
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. D. Downe 4694
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. D. Downe 4694
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Environ. - N.S. Environmental Employment Report, Hon. M. Baker 4695
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Environ. - Survey: Employment - Increase, Hon. M. Baker 4695
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1614, Premier: Past Values - Revisit, Mr. J. Holm 4698
Res. 1615, Eastern Shore MLA - History: Study - Advise,
Mr. R. MacLellan 4699
Res. 1616, Environ. - Composting Awareness Week (N.S.):
Hunger End - Efforts Applaud, Hon. M. Baker 4699
Vote - Affirmative 4700
Res. 1617, PC MLAs - Minority Dictatorship: Infliction - Cease,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 4700
Res. 1618, Petroleum Dir. - Laurentian Sub-Basin: Interest (N.S.) -
Prioritize, Mr. Manning MacDonald 4701
Res. 1619, Tourism - Tall Ships 2000: Org. Comm. - Recognize,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 4702
Vote - Affirmative 4702
Res. 1620, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwys.: Promises - Prioritize,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 4702
Res. 1621, Fin. - Budget (2000-01): Ferreting (PC Backbenches)
Tired - Premier Realize, Mr. D. Downe 4703
Res. 1622, World Vision - N. Col. HS Students/Tatamagouche Bus.:
Famine (30 Hr.) - Congrats., Mr. W. Langille 4704
Vote - Affirmative 4704
Res. 1623, Discovery Film Fest (Pratt & Whitney): Participants -
Congrats., Ms. E. O'Connell 4705
Vote - Affirmative 4705
Res. 1624, Sports - Hockey (N.S. Atom 'A' Champs. 1999-2000):
N. Sydney Atlantics - Congrats., Mr. R. MacLellan 4705
Vote - Affirmative 4706
Res. 1625, Opp'n. Parties - Divisions (27&28/04/00): Costs -
Account, Mr. D. Morse 4706
Res. 1626, House of Assembly: Precedents - Respect,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 4707
Res. 1627, Lt. Gov. (N.S.): Appointee - Myra Freeman Congrats.,/
Hon. James Kinley - Best Wishes Extend, Dr. J. Smith 4707
Vote - Affirmative 4708
Res. 1628, EMO - Emergency Preparedness Week (01-07/05/00):
Involvees - Recognize, (by Mr. J. DeWolfe) Hon. J. Muir 4708
Vote - Affirmative 4709
Res. 1629, Gov't. Whip - Kings Co. Teachers Meeting: MLAs (PC-Kings)
Access Denied - Censure, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 4709
Res. 1630, Culture - Gaelic Language: Importance - Acknowledge,
Mr. K. MacAskill 4710
Vote - Affirmative 4711
Res. 1631, Environ. - Lun. Reg. Solid Waste Mgt. Comm. &
Lun. Gardeners: Needy Help - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 4711
Vote - Affirmative 4711
Res. 1632, PC MLAs - May King or Queen: Crowning -
Budget (2000-01) Reconsider, Mr. F. Corbett 4712
Res. 1633, Econ. Dev. - Strait Area C of C: Exec. New - Acknowledge,
Mr. M. Samson 4712
Vote - Affirmative 4713
Res. 1634, Sports - Hockey (Cen. Lea. Person of Year): Doug Curry
(Cumb. Co.) - Congrats., (by Mr. B. Taylor) The Speaker 4713
Vote - Affirmative 4714
Res. 1635, Educ. - Cole Hbr. DHS: Cava Chronicle Newspaper -
Royal Bk. Partners Award Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 4714
Vote - Affirmative 4714
Res. 1636, Health & Lbr. - Bell Annex Bldg.: School Use -
Safety Investigate, Mr. R. MacKinnon 4715
Res. 1637, Gov't. (N.S.) - Organized Lbr.: Participation - Affirm,
Mr. K. Deveaux 4716
Res. 1638, Educ. - Riverview HS: Anniv. 50th - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Boudreau 4716
Vote - Affirmative 4717
Res. 1639, Tourism - E. Hants Tourism Assoc.: Dev. Initiative -
Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 4717
Vote - Affirmative 4718
Res. 1640, Sports - Kayak (Olympics 2000 Australia): Karen Furneaux
(Waverley-CHEEMA) - Success Wish, Mr. D. Wilson 4718
Vote - Affirmative 4718
Res. 1641, Lbr. - Solidarity: Promise (Gov't. [N.S.]) - Demonstrate,
Mr. J. Pye 4718
Res. 1642, Eastern Shore MLA: Educ. Attack (Constit. Newsletter) -
Condemn, Mr. Manning MacDonald 4719
Res. 1643, Premier - CoS (Karen Oldfield): Exp. Boston (04/11/99) -
Excessive, Mr. J. Holm 4720
Res. 1644, Fin. - Open Accountable Structure: Abandonment -
Recognize, Mr. D. Downe 4721
Res. 1645, MISA - Entrepreneur of Month Award: Metro Lindo Café
(Ana & Wilson Jenkins) - Congrats., Ms. E. O'Connell 4721
Vote - Affirmative 4722
Res. 1646, Fin. - Budget (2000-01): Cuts - Disabled Avoid,
Dr. J. Smith 4722
Res. 1647, Fin. - Budget (2000-01): Cuts (Young Workforce) - Condemn,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 4723
Res. 1648, Fin.: Budget (2000-01) - Misunderstanding (Gov't. [N.S.]),
Mr. K. MacAskill 4724
Res. 1649, Commun. Serv.: Child Poverty (17/08/00 on): Deficit -
Address, Mr. F. Corbett 4725
Res. 1650, Econ. Dev. - DIMA: Virtual CED Ctr. - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Samson 4726
Vote - Affirmative 4726
Res. 1651, Health - Care: User Fees - Return (S. U.S.), Mr. D. Dexter 4726
Res. 1652, Lbr. - Fire Code Violation: Expertise - Insist,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 4727
Res. 1653, PC MLAs - Health Budget (N.S. 2000-01): Consequences -
Recognize, Mr. K. Deveaux 4728
Res. 1654, PC (N.S.) Backbenchers - Constituency Affairs:
Absence (Hfx.) - Consequences, Mr. D. Wilson 4728
Res. 1655, Educ. - Students Reps. (Truro 29/04/00):
Min./MLA (PC) - Absence Apologize, Mr. J. Pye 4729
Res. 1656, Sports - Hockey: E. Hants Prov. Champs. - Congrats.,
Mr. John MacDonell 4730
Vote - Affirmative 4730
Res. 1657, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Min.: Military Accomplishments -
Relive, Mr. W. Estabrooks 4730
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. F. Corbett 4731
Mr. D. Downe 4734
Adjournment of House moved 4738
Vote - Negative 4739
Mr. D. Morse 4739
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:48 P.M. 4743
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:51 P.M. 4743
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 46, Financial Measures (2000) Act 4744
Amendment [debate resumed] 4744
Mr. J. Holm 4744
Mr. R. MacKinnon 4744
Adjournment of debate moved 4758
Vote - Negative 4759
Mr. John MacDonell 4760
Adjournment of House to meet on another day moved 4772
Ruling: Out of Order 4772
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5C:
Hon. R. Russell 4773
Vote - Affirmative 4774
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., May 2nd at 12:00 p.m. 4774

[Page 4693]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, MAY 1, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition in the form of 37 letters from parents of children at Colby Village Elementary School. The operative clause reads, "Our education system is our children's future and we will not support a budget nor, a government, which does not value both our children and their right to a decent education in this Province." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

4693

[Page 4694]

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition that has been signed by parents, students and teachers from the Chester-New Ross area. The petition is with regard to the cuts to the education budget. I beg to table this and I have affixed my signature to this petition as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition in the form of 24 e-mails from students at Auburn Drive High School. Copies were sent to the minister but I am tabling the petition. It states, " . . . students will not be able to concentrate with 50 students in one classroom and also how do you think 50 students will be able to fit into one classroom." That is the operative clause and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition with regard to letters that we have received from all over Nova Scotia with regard to the cuts to the education system and requesting the government to reconsider the Draconian measures of reducing the educational budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table another set of petitions from the Blockhouse area and it basically states, "IF YOU DISAGREE WITH THE BUDGETS CUTBACKS VOICE YOUR CONCERNS BY SIGNING THIS PETITION TO SAVE YOUR CHILDRENS FUTURE. IT'S TIME TO LET THE GOVERNMENT KNOW THAT WE ARE NOT TAKING IT ANYMORE. CONTACT. . . " individual.

I have signed my name to this and there are literally hundreds of signatures here. I have not had time to count this one, but it is in excess of 500 signatures and I have signed my signature to this petition as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

[Page 4695]

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Acting Minister of the Environment.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to table a report entitled Nova Scotia Environmental Employment Report for the period January 1, 1999 to December 31, 1999.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Acting Minister of the Environment.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to rise in the House today to share with you and my colleagues some good news. I rise in my capacity as Acting Minister of the Environment. My news regards yet another exciting development in Nova Scotia's environmental sector.

Mr. Speaker, a recent survey carried out by my department points to an impressive rise in the number of people employed in this emerging sector. In 1999 the number of jobs has escalated by 12 per cent. We learned about this increase by calling every environmental business in the province. This is the third survey of its kind and it includes information from service industries which represent three-quarters of our environmental businesses. It also includes businesses created by Nova Scotia entrepreneurs like Dana Emerson, who locally makes and markets his bulb-eater product which safely disposes of mercury in fluorescent tubes. That 12 per cent increase translates into more than 8,200 jobs in this sector. That compares with 7,355 at last count and 6,653 people two years ago.

Equally impressive is that the private sector makes up 71 per cent of that number and represents a 135 per cent jump in just five years. In addition to the private sector, these jobs are in the three levels of government, academia and non-governmental organizations. They are distributed throughout the province with every region benefiting from opportunities in this field. We also found 80 new firms. At the same time we are seeing a maturing of the industry. More companies become more diversified. Businesses find solutions for solid waste management problems, water and wastewater treatment. There is a growth. This is a good trend.

This is particularly impressive when you consider the projection by the industry for 1999 was 7,800 jobs. If you looked at the industry five or six years ago, it was small. In 1994 about 4,200 people were employed in environmental industries in Nova Scotia; a little more than one-half were in the private sector. According to the latest Statistics Canada numbers, Nova Scotia's environmental industries are growing at twice the Canadian average.

[Page 4696]

Companies are exporting. Dillon Consulting is doing a CIDA project in the Caribbean; Jacques Whitford is doing soil remediation projects in Brunei and in Russia; and Enerplan, a company that helps businesses become more efficient, is forming a partnership in New England. Dana Emerson is selling to markets in the U.S., Japan and the Caribbean. That being said, at home there is work to be done. Cleaning up the tar ponds is a world-class project and Nova Scotia firms are getting work. Jacques Whitford, Dillon Consulting, CBCL and ADI have all secured initial contracts for the second and third phase of the assessment. Vaughan Engineering won the contract for technological assessment. This experience is marketable around the world.

This initiative is creating jobs and protecting the environment. Could we become a world leader? Why not? We already lead North America in solid waste management. Nova Scotia Environmental Industries Association's past president, Craig MacMullin believes we can. Mr. MacMullin, who is president of Environmental Services Laboratory in Sydney says Nova Scotia companies must continue to market their experience abroad to take the next step in a growing industry. We can build on our strengths, we have the ability to take on the world, many of them have already shown they can compete globally. Many more have the ability to do so. Some business people have thought of the environment as a cost. It isn't, it is an opportunity.

We need innovation, solutions and leadership to continue with sustainable environmental protection. The future lies in this sector's business plan and in their ideas. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to rise to offer a few comments on the minister's statement in the absence of our Environment Critic, the member for Timberlea-Prospect.

I would say to the Minister of the Environment that what he has had to say today about the environmental sector is good news in terms of the types of technologies that are being developed and that are in a position to be marketed around the world. We certainly hope that type of enterprise will continue, but I want to remind the minister that his job, as the Minister of the Environment and this government's job with respect to environmental issues is not just to support the environmental technology sector.

It is very important, but we cannot just leave it up to the private sector to protect the environment in the Province of Nova Scotia. In this budget that the government has tabled this spring, the Department of the Environment is the department that probably has been hit the worst in terms of cuts, the loss of inspectors, the loss of experts in that department to be able to ensure that Nova Scotians take good care of the resources that they have been left with. That we keep the air clean, the water clean and the environment around us clean.

[Page 4697]

This minister and his government have a responsibility to ensure that that is done and that the work is protected. It is called the public interest and this government has a responsibility to protect the public interest to ensure that the environment is not jeopardized as a result of a desire to grow the economy or to grow enterprise or business. The environmental technology sector is an important sector, there is no question about it, but in our haste - and I am concerned when the minister talks about this and doesn't talk about how his department has been decimated - I am concerned that the emphasis is being put on the wrong place and in the wrong area.

What we need to hear from the Minister of the Environment and his government is their true commitment to ensuring that the environment in the Province of Nova Scotia is properly protected. If in fact there are technologies that develop from that, then all the better, but let's not forget what this government's prime responsibility in the environment is and that is protecting the resources, protecting Nova Scotians from pollution in all of its forms. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, we did not receive a copy of the minister's statement before coming here in the House, but I wanted to make some comments. As the former minister, I stood in this House on a number of occasions to praise the accomplishments of the environmental information technology sector of the Department of the Environment, the success of the RRFB. There has been a great deal of success in this field.

When I was minister I was convinced this was one of the areas in government that was going to achieve the greatest level of growth in development and in job creation in this province. I truly believe that. If anything I felt we had to put more money and more focus into this sector because of the accomplishments it had achieved.

Unfortunately, in estimates, we discovered that this government, in essence, and this minister, gutted out the department and the section dealing with the environmental information technology. So while the minister gets up today to log the success, it is unfortunate Nova Scotians must now realize that the future success this division could have created has been severely hampered by this government. In its short-sightedness, it has cut the travel budget of this department by about 80 per cent if I am not mistaken.

[12:15 p.m.]

This department used to travel all over the world, Mr. Speaker, to bring Nova Scotian technology and Nova Scotian expertise to people throughout the world. During estimates, the minister said, we have changed our focus. We don't want to focus on the world anymore, we think we are going to focus on the Atlantic Provinces; a division which had created

[Page 4698]

contracts all over the world is now reduced to focusing on the Atlantic Provinces. Shame on the minister and shame on this government. The little money overall invested in this division was repaying itself hundreds and thousands of times over in the employment and opportunities it was creating. How short-sighted for this government and what they have done to this division. So when the minister gets up and applauds what they have done, he should sit in shame to see what they have done to his department, how he has allowed his government and the Minister of Finance to completely slash the budget of this particular division and to realize the potential that has been lost, that companies have lost and that Nova Scotians have lost.

Knowing how much this industry is part of our future, part of the development of this province, and to see now what this government has done. Mr. Speaker, we should applaud what this division has done. They will continue to do well, regardless of how many cuts they face, but when we look at the potential that could have been achieved, this government should be ashamed of what it has done. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1614

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

Whereas it was the MLA for Pictou Centre, when he had taken aim for his Party's leadership and the Premier's seat, who argued that controversial legislation should have long and thorough debate in this House; and

Whereas it is now the government led by that MLA which is going further than any other regime in Nova Scotia history to shut down debate by this House of controversial measures; and

Whereas the Premier is on the other side of the continent while his legislative steamroller tries to pick up speed;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should revisit his values of the past to be sure that he has not misplaced his moral compass on the road to power at any cost.

[Page 4699]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice it tabled.

The honourable leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1615

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

Whereas in 399 BC, the great philosopher Socrates was put on trial, found guilty of corrupting the young and subsequently forced to drink hemlock for his crime; and

Whereas in 1962, Communist Chairman Mao Tse Tung launched the Cultural Revolution in which teachers were attacked and put on trial for ideologically corrupting their county; and

Whereas in April 2000, the member for Eastern Shore wrote, "Those who purport to care for the children seem to be the very ones instilling fear and anger in their young minds";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House advise the member for Eastern Shore that before he breaks open the hemlock, he study history instead of attacking those who teach it.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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 Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1616

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

Whereas April 30 to May 6, 2000, is International Compost Awareness Week; and

[Page 4700]

Whereas the Metro Food Bank, the Halifax Seed Company, the Resource Recovery Fund Board and the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment in partnership with the Canadian Association of Food Banks, the Composting Council of Canada and the Garden Writers Association of America are jointly sponsoring the Plant a Row Grow a Row Program throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Nova Scotians are committed to helping their environment through the efforts of composting and are willing to share their benefits with those in need; and

Whereas Plant a Row Grow a Row Program encourages gardeners to grow an extra row of vegetables or donate their excess fruit and vegetables to their local food bank or soup kitchen;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House recognize the significance of the Plant a Row Grow a Row Program and applaud the hard work of all Nova Scotians who donate their time and energy to end hunger in Nova Scotia and proclaim May 1, 2000 Composting Awareness Week in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1617

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

Whereas the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has suggested that his government's budget should have an easy ride because we won, and you didn't; and

Whereas the Conservatives won with a platform of 243 compassionate promises assuring Nova Scotians that new money for health care and education would be the top Tory priorities; and

[Page 4701]

Whereas nevertheless, the Conservatives managed to win only 39.2 per cent of the vote, with nearly 61 per cent opposed;

Therefore be it resolved that Conservative MLAs, who know how rapidly that 39 per cent is shrinking, should not inflict upon this province a dictatorship of the minority, who always believe the solution is hacking and slashing at public services.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1618

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

Whereas the Premier has gone to Texas to a major oil and gas exposition to help drum up business for Nova Scotia's offshore industries; and

Whereas during the trip the Premier has finally set aside time to discuss the future of the Laurentian Sub-basin with Newfoundland's Premier Tobin; and

Whereas after nine months in office Nova Scotians must be saying, its about time;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier stand up for Nova Scotia's interests and make the Laurentian Sub-basin a priority instead of taking a weak-kneed approach, which so far has yielded no success and indeed there have been failures like Atlantic Loto and Marine Atlantic.

I ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 4702]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1619

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

Whereas Tall Ships 2000 are scheduled to be in Halifax July 20th to July 24th; and

Whereas Tall Ships 2000 is expected to produce the largest ever international fleet of sail training ships as they circumnavigate the Atlantic clockwise; and

Whereas the Halifax organizing committee for Tall Ships 2000 held the Admiral's Ball Saturday evening at the World Trade and Convention Centre as part of their plans leading up to and during the Tall Ships visit to Halifax in July;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs through this resolution recognize the significant efforts being put forth by the Tall Ships 2000 organizing committee here in Halifax.

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 Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1620

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

Whereas 10 of the 28 deaths on a 100-Series Highway in 1999 took place on Highway No. 101; and

[Page 4703]

Whereas the Conservative central campaign issued the 1999 promise, in the name of the now Transportation Minister, that work to twin Highway No. 101 would begin immediately; and

Whereas the now Premier personally unveiled his commitment that in year two of this government that all revenue from the Registry of Motor Vehicles and from fuel taxes would be spent on highways;

Therefore be it resolved that Conservatives who won election with promises of much more highway construction and immediate twinning of Highway No. 101 should make it their priority to keep those promises instead of looking yet again for a pot of gold from wasteful privatization.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1621

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 Tory backbenchers have spoken against their government's budget; and

Whereas the Premier can be heard asking backbenchers, backbenchers why have thou forsaken me; and

Whereas Joe Clark has been heard asking Tories, Tories why have thou forsaken me;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier realize his own Tory backbenchers are tired of trying to ferret out their own government's budget.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 4704]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1622

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

Whereas students from North Colchester High School participated and Tatamagouche area businesses recently took part in a 30 hour famine; and

Whereas the 30 hour famine in North Colchester was part of an event sponsored by World Vision; and

Whereas students from North Colchester High School raised more than $200 during this event;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate the students from North Colchester High School and the many participating businesses in and around Tatamagouche for their caring and understanding manner by assisting and wanting to help millions of human beings who are in a far less fortunate position than we are.

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 member for Halifax Fairview.

[Page 4705]

RESOLUTION NO. 1623

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 a Grade 5 class at North Queens Elementary School in Caledonia took home first place honours and $500 in the Pratt and Whitney 5th Annual Discovery Film Fest; and

Whereas second place and $300 went to Westport Village School and the third place winner was Bridgewater Elementary School who received $100; and

Whereas these awards were presented to kick off 10 days of science and education at the Discovery Centre in Halifax where the goal was to get youngsters interested in science;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all the participants of the Pratt and Whitney 5th Annual Discovery Film Fest and wish them well in their future science endeavours.

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 Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1624

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

Whereas the North Sydney Atlantics are the 1999-2000 Nova Scotia Atom 'A' Hockey Champions; and

Whereas the Atlantics defeated the host team from Clare in the championship game by a final score of 5 to 2; and

[Page 4706]

Whereas the Atlantics demonstrated that they are worthy champions by completing the championship tournament with a perfect 5 and 0 record;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the coaches and players of the North Sydney Atlantics for their sensational season and well-deserved provincial Atom 'A' championship.

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 member for Kings South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1625

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

Whereas the operations of this House of Assembly cost approximately $1,125 per hour to run when we are in session; and

Whereas while it is the Opposition's perfect right to filibuster, these tactics not only eat up time but also hard-earned taxpayers' dollars; and

Whereas last Thursday and again on Friday, nearly two hours worth of time and tax dollars were wasted each day by the Opposition on standing votes for which, for both votes on Friday, very few Opposition members even bothered to remain in the House;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Opposition Parties explain how diverting $1,125 per hour from health, education and community services is good for Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 4707]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The motion was too long.

[The notice is tabled.]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1626

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

Whereas there is no such thing as wasted time, as the rules of this historic House are daily followed; and

Whereas democracy is more than often a laborious and time-consuming process during the ebb and flow of debate; and

Whereas the traditions of this seat of responsible government must be respected by all fortunate enough to serve in this place;

Therefore be it resolved that all members respect the historic precedents of this Legislature with the understanding that in democracy time is always on the people's side.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[12:30 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1627

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

[Page 4708]

Whereas Myra Freeman has been appointed the first female Lieutenant Governor in Nova Scotia history; and

Whereas Myra Freeman has contributed to the prosperity of this province through various community involvement initiatives; and

Whereas Mrs. Freeman will succeed James Kinley of Lunenburg who also has a long and distinguished record of public office;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate and welcome Myra Freeman as Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia and extend their best wishes to James Kinley.

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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1628

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Honourable James Muir, the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas May 1st to May 7th is Emergency Preparedness Week in Canada; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has seen an increase in disasters, primarily natural disasters, over the past few years and has responded admirably to them; and

Whereas emergency preparedness is a provincial, municipal and individual responsibility;

[Page 4709]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the valuable efforts of all those who are involved in emergency preparedness at any level and of those who play a crucial role in emergency response.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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. 1629

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

Whereas teachers in Kings County have decided to express their concern about education on Tuesday, May 2nd; and

Whereas they invited their local MLAs to hear their concerns; and

Whereas the MLAs for the area were told by their Party Whip that they were not allowed to attend public meetings;

Therefore be it resolved that this House censure the Party Whip of the government caucus for not allowing the public to have access to their duly elected representatives who are supposed to represent their concerns in government.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 4710]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1630

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, this being the first day of May and May is known as Gaelic Awareness month, I would like to present this resolution in Gaelic and then in English.

A Fhir-Labhairt, tha mi mar seo a' toirt aire dhuibh gun gluais me air latha 'sa tighinn an rùn 'sa leanas:

O Chionn 's gun comharrachas am mios céitein mar mios na gàidhlig; agus

O Chionn 's gu bheil iomadh àite air feadh an albainn nuaidh gu léir far a bhios a' ghàidhlig ri ionnsaich fhathast; agus

O Chionn 's gum fasas gu mòr, a' chuid ghàidhlig dhe 'n ghniomh-thuruis gach uile bliadhna;

Mar sin gum bi e suidhichte gun aideach gach ball cho cudtromach 'sa bhios an cultur seo agus a' toirt moladh do 'n fheadhainn a leanas ris a' ghàidhlig a chumail beò.

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

Whereas the month of May is celebrated as Gaelic Awareness Month; and

Whereas there are several communities across Nova Scotia where Gaelic instruction takes place; and

Whereas the Gaelic cultural aspect of tourism is growing rapidly each year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House acknowledge the importance of this culture and applaud the efforts of those who continue to keep the Gaelic language alive.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 4711]

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 Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1631

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

Whereas April 30th to May 6th is National Compost Awareness Week; and

Whereas the Lunenburg Solid Waste Management Committee is offering to donate compost from Lunenburg Regional and Composting Facility to gardeners willing to pledge a row of their crop to one of Lunenburg County's food banks; and

Whereas the Lunenburg Regional Solid Waste Management Committee will be checking with the participants to see, "how did your garden grow?";

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the Lunenburg Regional Solid Waste Management Committee and the gardeners of Lunenburg County on helping the needy by participating in the pledge a row campaign.

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 Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 4712]

RESOLUTION NO. 1632

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

Whereas in medieval and modern Europe, May Day is set aside for traditional springtime celebrations, originating in pre-historic agricultural rituals; and

Whereas these rituals were intended to ensure good crops, fertile livestock and healthy families; and

Whereas this spring, rural Nova Scotians face more potholes, the elimination of farm services, the closure of rural offices, higher fees and provincial downloading onto municipalities;

Therefore be it resolved that Conservative MLAs who hoped to be crowned as king or queen of the May had better reconsider how welcome they will be as their savage Tory budget rips through rural communities.

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1633

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

Whereas Strait area lawyer Gerry MacDonald was named to a two-year term as President of the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce; and

Whereas other executive members include First Vice-President Perry Chandler, Second Vice-President Bert Lewis, Secretary Donna Doyle, Treasurer Donald Sampson, while Alex McKinnon will retain the post of Honorary President; and

[Page 4713]

Whereas during its meeting, the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce launched the booklet, The Strait of Canso; A Gateway to Opportunity, outlining the various services and advantages available in the Strait area;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the new executive of the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce and wish them continued success.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1634

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the member for Cumberland South, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Mr. Doug Curry of Wentworth, Cumberland County, was recently named the Central Hockey League Person of the Year by being presented with the Peter Hanson Award; and

Whereas Mr. Curry has contributed over 30 years as a volunteer to the youth of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Mr. Curry, who is the current manager of the Cumberland County D.W. Thompson Esso Midget AA Bombers, which captured the Central League South Conference A Division regular season and playoff championship;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mr. Doug Curry on his commitment to the youth of this province, and wish him all the best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 4714]

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-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1635

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

Whereas the Cava Chronicle, a newspaper produced by the students at Cole Harbour District High School, will be presented with a Royal Bank Partners in Education Award tonight; and

Whereas the Cava Chronicle has a circulation of 3,000 and serves the communities of Lawrencetown, Eastern Passage, North Preston, Forest Hills and Cole Harbour; and

Whereas the continued success of the paper is a credit to the students and staff at Cole Harbour District High School;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate students Jessica Ryan, Scott Pittman, Glen Patriquinn and Julia Grady, along with Principal Jim de la Mothe and faculty advisors Mike Whitehouse, Joann MacPherson and Brenda Blair on receipt of the Royal Bank Partners in Education 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.

[Page 4715]

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1636

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

Whereas students from Graham Creighton Junior High School are being transferred to Cole Harbour High School until necessary repairs are carried out to correct a major mould problem in their school; and

Whereas school board officials have once again delayed meeting with parents and students to outline a timetable for correcting this serious problem; and

Whereas school board officials occupy the nearby former Gordon Bell High School, now referred to as the Bell Annex Building and generate additional revenue by renting office space while at the same time telling parents of students of Graham Creighton Junior High that mould problem is worse at the Bell Annex Building and that students cannot attend such a facility;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health and the Minister of Labour order the appropriate departmental officials to conduct an immediate investigation of the safe use of the Bell Annex Building, of South Parkway, Dartmouth.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East on an introduction.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Yes, Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to introduce to you and members in this House Westville's native son, Terry Chisholm, in the gallery and I would ask Terry to rise and members can give their approbation. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[Page 4716]

RESOLUTION NO. 1637

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

Whereas today is celebrated by many Nova Scotians as the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker; and

Whereas this is an opportunity to affirm the moral teaching that society is stronger when laws and practices reinforce the dignity of labour and the right of workers to organize; and

Whereas working people seek an equal right to be heard, a quality education for their children, access to good health care when they need it and a society where responsibilities and benefits are shared;

Therefore be it resolved that it is time this Conservative Government take action that affirms and strengthens the participation of organized labour in our province.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1638

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

Whereas for over a year, former and present students of Riverview Rural High School have been busy planning Riverview 2000, scheduled for this summer; and

Whereas Riverview 2000 is in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the school; and

Whereas the event is attracting former students from across Canada, the United States and as far away as New Zealand;

[Page 4717]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the organizers and volunteers who are working hard to highlight Riverview High School and wish them luck with Riverview 2000.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1639

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

Whereas tourism is one of the fastest growing and largest industries in the world and Hants East has traditionally been largely ignored by the Department of Tourism; and

Whereas any sensible initiative by a grass-roots organization or individuals to promote tourism deserves support; and

Whereas the East Hants Tourism Association has developed a practical plan to increase the awareness of the tourism potential of Hants East to the day tripper from Metro and Truro;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the East Hants Tourism Association for their initiative and urge the Department of Tourism to support them with their plan.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 4718]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1640

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

Whereas Karen Furneaux of Waverley is one of the first Nova Scotians to qualify for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games; and

Whereas at the age of 23, Furneaux has become Nova Scotia's most accomplished female paddler and kayaking star; and

Whereas Furneaux is a double gold medallist at the Pan-Am Games in Winnipeg and a silver medallist at the World Championships in Hungary;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Karen Furneaux on her successes and wish her the best of luck at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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.

[12:45 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1641

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

[Page 4719]

Whereas May 1st is a public holiday in most of the world to celebrate the contribution of working women and men to our society and economy; and

Whereas during his successful election campaign, the Premier affirmed his support for the protection of the public sector workers; and

Whereas during that campaign the Premier literally ran away from the now Education Minister's attack on labour, perhaps because she had used faulty research material from the Liberal caucus;

Therefore be it resolved that on May Day 2000 this government should demonstrate its promised solidarity with hard-working Nova Scotians by giving them the same tender consideration it reserves for its political pals.

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 Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1642

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

Whereas on Thursday, April 28th, the Premier stated, I can recall no demeaning statement made by any member of this government or by any member of this caucus that would reflect badly on school boards or the people who represent them; and

Whereas the member for Eastern Shore has sent out a constituency newsletter stating, those who purport to care for the children seem to be the very ones instilling fear and anger in their young minds; and

Whereas the Premier has no idea what kind of disparaging statements are actually being made by members of his caucus;

[Page 4720]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House condemn the member for Eastern Shore for his blatant attack on teachers, schools, school boards and bureaucrats and remind the Premier that members of his caucus have taken many opportunities to attack school boards.

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1643

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

Whereas this Tory Government is quickly becoming famous for do as we say, not as we do; and

Whereas the Premier's $300 per night hotel room at the Boston Hilton on October 2nd was an early contender for the excessive spending award but not the champion; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance's $400 per night hotel room at the five star Helmsley Palace in New York was also a contender for the excessive spending award but not the champion;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Karen Oldfield, the Premier's Chief of Staff, whose room at the Seaport Hotel in Boston on the night of November 4th cost the taxpayers $472.57, making her the reigning champion and the winner of the excessive spending award on the backs of the hard-working Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 4721]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1644

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 Tory Government has created a financial roller coaster of deficit projections which can only be deemed bizarre at best and suspicious at worst; and

Whereas in September the deficit was $384 million, $496 million in October, $489 million in December and now forecast at a whopping $766.986 million because of Sysco environmental liabilities; and

Whereas before the liabilities were added, the deficit was back to $388 million because of increased tax revenue;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the Finance Minister has abandoned an open and accountable financial structure by muddying the true picture and the true state of the province's finances.

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 for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1645

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 Mexico Lindo Café in Halifax has been open for a year; and

[Page 4722]

Whereas the café offers Mexican food and baked goods and will soon offer a variety of Mexican crafts and spices; and

Whereas the Metro Immigrant Settlement Association has honoured owners Ana and Wilson Jenkins with its Entrepreneur of the Month Award;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Ana and Wilson Jenkins on their award and wish the Mexico Lindo Café continued growth and success in the future.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 1646

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

Whereas in the budget the Hamm Government has made cuts to the Disabled Persons Commission; and

Whereas the Hamm Government has made severe cuts to the accessibility project for disabled persons; and

Whereas the Tory Government has cut technical aids and support grants for disabled individuals that help them with their home life and workforce;

Therefore be it resolved that the Tory Government stop trying to solve its problems on the backs of those who require government assistance the most.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 4723]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

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

Whereas May 1st to May 7th is Emergency Preparedness Week in Canada; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has seen an increase in disasters, primarily natural disasters, over the past few years and has responded admirably to them; and

Whereas emergency preparedness is a provincial, municipal and individual responsibility; (Interruptions)

I will continue, Mr. Speaker, with your permission.

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the valuable efforts of all those who are involved in emergency preparedness at any level and of those who play a critical role in emergency response.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I believe the member for Pictou East did read that earlier on behalf of the honourable Minister of Health.

MR. MUIR: I apologize for taking the time of the House for doing that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1647

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

Whereas this province appropriately invests in the professional education of health care providers such as nurses; and

[Page 4724]

Whereas this province also appropriately invests in the professional education of teachers and social workers; and

Whereas this savage Tory budget will result in the loss of many young nurses, teachers and social workers to provinces and states where their contribution to these economies and communities will no doubt be substantial;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government be roundly condemned for the wasteful and short-sighted management of this province's most valuable resources, its young, skilled workforce.

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 Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1648

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 member for Antigonish is quoted in the April 25th edition of The Reporter as saying, "Nova Scotians should adopt a realistic approach before reacting angrily to the spending reductions and service fees," introduced under this government; and

Whereas the Premier accused the good people of Nova Scotia of being hysterical; and

Whereas the Minister of Education has encouraged Nova Scotians to chill out on her government budget cuts;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Tory Government understand that it is they who do not understand their own budget and not the good people of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 4725]

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. 1649

MR. FRANK CORBETT: 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 17th, this Tory Government's first full day in office, 1,548 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 1,548 children born into poverty under this Tory Regime.

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 Richmond.

[Page 4726]

RESOLUTION NO. 1650

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

Whereas Development Isle Madame has launched a Virtual CED Centre on community economic development; and

Whereas this website is expected to shine the spotlight on locally-based job-creation initiatives on Isle Madame; and

Whereas DIMA is dedicated to the creation of quality long-term sustainable jobs for the residents of Isle Madame;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate DIMA on its Virtual CED Centre and wish them continued success in their endeavours to ensure the future prosperity of Isle Madame.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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 Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1651

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

Whereas the Minister of Health is a product of the University of Virginia where he did his Masters degree and Doctorate; and

Whereas the dramatic increase in user fees for Pharmacare, ambulance and 911 fees demonstrate the minister's continuing preference for United States-style services; and

[Page 4727]

Whereas Virginia has 1 million people who do not have access to primary health care and a crisis in attracting primary care physicians to rural areas;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health be told that his U.S.-style health care user fees should be sent back south of the Mason-Dixon line where they came from.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1652

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

Whereas on Wednesday, April 26, 2000, I requested the fire marshal to investigate violations of the fire code governing the maximum number of students allowed within a given classroom area at Halifax West High School as stated in the by-law; and

Whereas subsequent to this request, a representative of the Halifax Regional Fire Service visited Halifax West High School and advised senior administration that he didn't know of such a legal requirement; and

Whereas such an admission by a public safety officer is disturbing to say the least;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Labour insist that properly trained and well-informed expertise is provided to ensure public safety.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[Page 4728]

RESOLUTION NO. 1653

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

Whereas the Conservative platform included 50 health care promises and a pledge from the now Premier that it would be his top priority; and

Whereas health boards and hospitals have been told to wait until May 15th to submit revised budgets to meet the unexpectedly low spending limits set by this government; and

Whereas Conservative MLAs, who predicted that the gallows would be their fate when the Health budget becomes known, seem to be in a hurry to get out of sight before the health cuts hit;

Therefore be it resolved that the Conservatives should recognize that if they succeed in becoming peekaboo MLAs, it will simply add to the problems they created with a peekaboo budget that has failed to hide their savage Tory cuts.

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 Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1654

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

Whereas the member for Truro-Bible Hill has been focusing on balancing the health care monstrosity, leaving him little time to look after the concerns of his constituents; and

Whereas the member for Colchester North is also guilty of neglecting his constituents by failing to attend a meeting on the state of the roads in his riding; and

[Page 4729]

Whereas the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has been muzzled since the Tories came to power;

Therefore be it resolved that the Tory backbenchers not get too enthralled with the lights of the big city because it may haunt them in the next election.

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 Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1655

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

Whereas the government's few defenders have suggested that student demonstrations are either a teachers' conspiracy or kids who want a day off school; and

Whereas student representatives from across the province gave up their Saturday to discuss the crisis that faced their schools on April 29th in Truro; and

Whereas no minister or government MLA would go more than a few blocks to meet these students with the result that only the MLAs for Hants East and Truro-Bible Hill attended the special conference;

Therefore be it resolved that the Conservative Government should apologize to the many thousands of students whose representatives gathered responsibly in Truro on April 29th in hopes of a dialogue with those who have made such disastrous decisions about the future of Nova Scotia schools.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 4730]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

[1:00 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1656

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

Whereas hockey at the minor level is a sport still pure and enjoyable; and

Whereas striving for championships for the sake of achievement, honour and glory contributes to the joys of childhood; and

Whereas East Hants Peewee girls, East Hants Midget AA boys and East Hants Peewee A boys all won the gold in their provincial championship tournaments held in Cole Harbour, Brookfield and Stellarton, respectively;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the East Hants provincial champions and their coaches for a fine season and an exemplary finish.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1657

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

[Page 4731]

Whereas the member for Hants West had a reputation as a straight shooter during his distinguished military career; and

Whereas the highway workers in this decorated veteran's Department of Transportation want the straight goods on this minister's privatization plans; and

Whereas straight shooters always deliver;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation relive his military accomplishments with some straight answers to highway workers about their futures in his department.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a few minutes before going into debate to talk about a couple of issues regarding public safety. One of these areas of public safety I want to talk about is roads, as most of us have concerns about the safety of travelling every day on our public highway system.

[Page 4732]

Mr. Speaker, previous to the opening of this House this spring, the Minister of Transportation was kind enough to send around notices to all MLAs saying that if you have small projects, whatever, in your constituency, please mail them on to me. He did do that and I have a list here of a response from his local engineer and that is good. The problem is, it appears to be that we are more concerned about patchwork than real work being done on problems that are causing public safety.

These problems, Mr. Speaker, are ones that we have connecting highways. The few people who can work in Cape Breton because of this government are trying to get to work on roads that, to say the least, are of Third World conditions, it is literally potholes two feet deep, but what does this government propose to do? Does it go with capital expenditures and say, you know, these are major routes and they should be looked after? No, this government decides what we will do is a little patching here and a little patching there and that is it, yet it does nothing to help these people.

I have had them come to my constituency office during this past winter, Mr. Speaker, and show me automobile repairs they had to have effected on their cars because of the conditions of these highways. One road I speak of, in particular, is the Lingan Highway as it connects from Route 28 into the Whitney Pier area and, in particular, a stretch of 4.1 kilometres from the Devco Railway to the intersection of Route 28.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: I travelled that with you. It is in terrible shape.

MR. CORBETT: Yes, as the member for Timberlea-Prospect says, he travelled that with me, as did the member for Halifax Needham, we travelled over that road. It was conspicuous that repaving under another government regime was stopped at the beginning of my constituency, so you could draw whatever inferences you want from that. That road is in much need of repair and should be given a priority under the capital budget. It appears that the only thing we have done is out of the local budget - and while I appreciate they are severely cash-strapped and do not have the monies to effect the large types of repairs that are needed, that leads to another problem in that same general area which is the Ainslie Court, Braylee Court, and Ashdale Drive area in the Nickelwood area, two new subdivisions in my riding, in the Lingan Road area. This is very important because what we are looking for are people to invest in new home construction to help spur the economy.

That area is one of the most highly visible areas for new home construction in industrial Cape Breton. A lot of these folks, when they started building their homes, were attracted for a couple of reasons; one was its proximity to schools and the other was that you would be able to pay county assessment rates. But lo and behold, after the majority of these people had built their homes, the regional amalgamation was forced on them and they were told, this is going to be great. You are going to pay less in taxes and everyone is going to carry a much fairer load. That was not the case at all. It happened that their municipal taxes have increased while these people still have to traverse over unpaved roadways, which I may add in the

[Page 4733]

winter are many times impassable for emergency vehicles, impassable for school buses and so on.

We have had accidents at Ashdale where emergency vehicles have gone off the road, delivery trucks such as oil trucks and so on and we know what damage that can do if you are on a well and septic system. Yet, this is a problem this government does not want to address, it is a problem that this government would say, we don't have the money. I read a quote from the Minister of Health this week saying the government is living off a credit card. Well, that credit card hasn't been used too much in Cape Breton since they have been elected and the condition of those roads - not to be too critical - is deplorable. Yet, they will not go to the residents of this area and do the right thing, as they say, and pave those subdivisions so that those people would have the services that are applicable to the taxes they pay. No, they would rather forget about them.

There is another highway that links communities in my constituency that is again, in deplorable shape. That road is the Centreville Road that runs between Gardiner Mines and connects the communities of Dominion and Reserve. In the local area that has been known for years as the rabbittown road. This road has whole pieces of asphalt missing and yet, as opposed to the minister looking at that situation and saying that it should be resurfaced and repaved, again, we are looking at patchwork. That road will be only hand-patched with an estimated cost of $20,000, as opposed to doing the right thing again and resurfacing that road.

There are many roads in my constituency that have not had any major maintenance, let alone resurfacing done, in over 15 years. One is another connector road called May Street and Scotchtown area, which at times again, had the difficulty of emergency vehicles getting through on this major connector between the area of Scotchtown and New Victoria. Actually, a fire emergency vehicle broke an axle on this very road, that is the deplorable condition of this road. These are the issues facing Nova Scotians in rural areas where they need a connection between themselves to do business, whether it is to Sydney to do an exam for your license, all services are 20 minutes to a half hour drive down the road, that is if the roads are passable.

Mr. Speaker, those are problems this government is failing to address. As they are moving services away from constituents in rural parts of this province, they are doing nothing to help them get there. They are just taking money they have and trying to store it, I would say, for a day down the road when they have to go back to the people and then start spending and say, look what great people we are. That causes me great concern. Those are a few notes I am going to say about the highway conditions.

Mr. Speaker, there is another aspect of this I want to talk about, public safety. I bothers me greatly. In recent days we have seen protests in front of this very House, and we have seen many police officers here and security forces. That bothers me. It goes back to having grown

[Page 4734]

up in New Waterford and having to remember every June 11th, Davis Day, when provincial police forces forcibly removed people from the power plant at Waterford Lake and, indeed killed, William Davis.

Mr. Speaker, what we have in this province seems to be special security arrangements if you are an elected official and another form of security if you are just an ordinary resident, if you will, of this province. You may ask, what do I mean by that? Well, what I am saying is, where was the protection for Lori Maxwell this past winter when she was murdered by her husband? There was a restraining order sitting on a desk at a police station. Was there an urgency to get out and protect the life of Lori Maxwell? If there was, it certainly was hidden. We saw here last week eight heavily armed police officers escorting the Minister of Education from this building. Where was one officer to deliver a restraining order on behalf of Ms. Maxwell?

Mr. Speaker, it wasn't there. It was not there for her. That is a shame. We need to protect everybody in this province, not just elected officials because it is fancy. Where was the system to protect Eddy Sheppard? Eddy Sheppard was killed in a small options home in this very province. We have been asking for over two years now for a full investigation into the death of Eddy Sheppard. None has come forward. I ask you, where are we, as Nova Scotians, where were our police forces when it came to protecting the life of Eddy Sheppard? I tell you, it was non-existent. When are we going to treat all Nova Scotians as equal participants in this society, not just elected officials who make unpopular decisions.

Mr. Speaker, this past November, when miners in the Cape Breton Development Corporation took job action against their employer, there was a hotel with over 28 RCMP vehicles put out front. Why was that done? Well, if you dig into it, you find out it was done at the behest of Nova Scotia Power which was going around frightening Nova Scotians telling them if this force wasn't taken, we would be without energy, that our lights would go out and this is the way we had to attack. What we are told now is if you protest as a Nova Scotian, if you try to get a restraining order in this province, or if you are like Eddy Sheppard living in a small options home, you are treated differently under the eyes of the law than you are if you are an elected official. That is wrong. We have to give every Nova Scotian the same access to public safety as if you are elected or if you are Lori Maxwell, if you are Eddy Sheppard, if you are a miner in Cape Breton.

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: I want to compliment the previous speaker, Mr. Speaker, for doing a great job on his deliberations here today.

[Page 4735]

I think what he was talking about, certainly in the first part of his presentation with regard to the issue of roads, was the issue of the big deception that we have seen all along during the last campaign and so far during this budgetary process. What we have seen here is the inability for the government of the day to come forward with the facts of what they are doing and the implications they will have for all of Nova Scotians; some of which may even be good, but many of them are kept in the process of security and secrecy to the extent that, as I have used the expression before, even the backbenchers of this government are having a hard time finding out the implications of this budget in their own communities.

I am aware that this government has provided for its backbenchers a list of how many people will be let go in their riding. I understand, there is a list being circulated explaining how many people are going to be affected in either specific ridings or regional ridings, how many sectors are being shut down, for example, what jail is being closed or things of that nature. As I understand, that is secretly being done, but there is information being floated now so that the individual members of the government understand what the true implication of this budget will be to their own specific riding.

In the area of jobs, the question really is how much more is this budget really going to be doing, more so, in the area of direct jobs immediately. I bring the example of what we are talking about now, privatizing 30 per cent of the Department of Transportation and Public Works. Maybe all of it will be done. As I have asked the Minister of Finance before, has there been any kind of analysis done to determine is this value for money for taxpayers? Will there be a benefit if they go forward with the initiative as being talked about? I have yet to see that.

It is very much along the lines that we have seen during the election campaign that, number one, the issue was too much administrative bureaucracy and it didn't matter if it was the Department of Education or the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Health; if we just take away the administration or cut it back to a manageable level, then we will find the dollars to be able to manage a way forward.

For example, in the Department of Health, $46 million and most, if not all of it, will be found in the areas of administration. I think if it was that simple, they would have done it; obviously, it is not that simple and it has not been done and that is when I talk about the big deception. The big deception goes on and on. I have had people over the weekend, constituents, not necessarily constituents of my own riding, but of other ridings call me, talk to me. They say, I didn't realize this was going to happen or I didn't have any idea that they were going this far.

AN HON. MEMBER: There was a rally in Petite Riviere where the member . . .

MR. DOWNE: In fact, I will be back to Petite Riviere this evening to talk to other concerned individuals with regard to the so-called big deception.

[Page 4736]

The budget cuts in the budget itself, people in my constituency are asking me the question, what does it mean to me? What is the implication to me? Whatever sector they represent, they are asking very specific questions. We are doing the best we can, as the Opposition, trying to, as the Premier had asked, "ferret out" the facts, ferret out the information. I asked the question to the government before, why don't they simply come forward with the reality of what is going on and what the implication will be? If they are prepared to provide information for the members of government in the House, if, in fact, that information I was told by a member of government is true, then why can't they provide that same information to all of us?

I am sure that the Minister of Health appreciates knowing all too well how many people are going to be affected by maybe the closure of the sign shop in Truro-Bible Hill, the closure of a number of facilities in Truro-Bible Hill for which I recall he ran a campaign saying that he would never tolerate - and I paraphrase . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Who?

MR. DOWNE: . . . the member for Truro-Bible Hill, the Minister of Health, that any cuts would dare ever happen to Truro-Bible Hill.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, did he say that?

MR. DOWNE: I was paraphrasing it, along those lines. I remember that member chastising any government that would ever take a cut out of Truro-Bible Hill and that he would stand there and fight for the rights of Truro-Bible Hill; all to see a $1.5 million cut of the Department of Agriculture and Marketing's budget relative to the Agricultural College and what implication that will have directly and indirectly to agriculture but also to employment, and the list goes on but the point . . .

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order and perhaps to correct the honourable member and several other honourable members in the House about this information. A number of the honourable members, including him and the member for Hants East, have indicated the budget of the Agricultural College was cut $1.5 million. That simply is not true. It was cut $135,000.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is a difference in opinion of the facts between the two members. The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, we will go under Agriculture estimates and we will talk about those numbers later on so that my colleague, the member for Truro-Bible Hill, the Minister of Health, will understand that the cuts are affecting his area.

[Page 4737]

I want to go on and talk about the big deception. I think we should talk about the big deception off the bat in the area of health. I remember during the campaign all too well, as I travelled my constituency and other constituencies in the province, and the question would come up, $46 million will fix this problem, $46 million will resolve the problems of health care and most of that will be found in administration cuts. Well, they have been in power for a long time, seems like a terribly long time, according to most Nova Scotians, but I guess it has been eight months or thereabouts. I haven't seen how they have come up with a real long-term plan for health care. I haven't seen the plan in regard to how this so-called $46 million worth of cuts would resolve the problem of health care. I haven't seen anything other than the fact that this particular administration spent $208 million over the $1.562 billion originally allocated for Health. I haven't seen the specifics of the $46 million answer to a multimillion dollar problem.

I believe, Mr. Speaker, as I stand here today that the proposed $70-odd million worth of cuts that they have proposed in this budget, whether or not they will be able to, in fact, manage that because I believe fervently that they do not have a plan, and simply cutting is not the answer. Anybody can slash and burn. Anybody can make a number up. The reality will be how they manage that process, and the reality is it is pretty hard to manage if you do not have a very specific plan.

The Minister of Health is now responsible for the largest single department in all of government, $1.7-odd billion dollars. You would think a minister with an almost $2 billion budget would have a specific plan. You would think for certain that a minister of a $1.7-odd billion department would have a specific plan with regard to the cuts of some $70-odd million and what the benefits will be and what the costs will be and how they will be able to manage the expenditure in the future.

People are asking me about the issues of forestry. In Lunenburg County, the balsam fir Christmas tree capital of the world, they have lost their forest technicians, their tree specialists in the Christmas tree industry; not a lot of staff, but those two specialists provided the service to the Christmas tree industry throughout Nova Scotia, whether it was Antigonish County or Cape Breton County or Cumberland County or Lunenburg County or Queens County - Queens County, a great Christmas tree producing part of Nova Scotia. Those specialists, Mr. Speaker, who provided help and assistance, technically, scientifically, and otherwise to the producers are now gone.

That is about a $50 million industry that basically is all export, creating a spin-off effect in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars to the economy of Nova Scotia. Those are new dollars coming in to the pool of capital into the Province of Nova Scotia. Those are, generally speaking, American dollars coming in, creating jobs in rural Nova Scotia. The question comes to me, why have they forsaken rural Nova Scotia by cutting away two persons who are so vitally important to the Christmas tree industry in Nova Scotia? What is the plan in regard to the long-term viability of that sector?

[Page 4738]

Last summer, in this beautiful City of Halifax, we had a conference, I believe it was referred to as Christmas in August, and many members of the government were there, federally, provincially. Senators were there, talking about the importance of the Christmas tree industry to Nova Scotia and, specifically along the South shore. They pointed out very clearly - Senator Oliver I believe was one of the speakers, am I allowed to say his name? (Interruption) Senator Oliver spoke very eloquently about the importance of that sector. He must be absolutely frustrated, mad, hurt, and embarrassed by the fact this government would axe the only two specialists who are there for the Christmas tree sector.

Let's go on to the last point, and that is in regard to what impact this budget is having on government employees. Tell me, how many seconds have I got?

MR. SPEAKER: You have approximately two minutes.

MR. DOWNE: Government employees, Mr. Speaker, who have gone through nothing but turmoil, worry, fear, and frustration. I remember when they did the restructuring of government, 21 departments down to 14. Do you know what happened? The question was asked, what is the impact of that? As the Minister of Finance has stated publicly to me, they do not have a cost-benefit analysis of that plan and what impact that will have on Nova Scotians. These civil servants are equally frustrated and concerned. Because of that, this province is in turmoil worrying about the future of this great province and the impact on them.

For that, Mr. Speaker, I move that this House now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There has been a motion to adjourn.

A recorded vote is being called for.

Ring the bells. Call in the members.

[1:30 p.m.]

[The Division Bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[2:30 p.m.]

[Page 4739]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. MacAskill Mr. Christie

Dr. Smith Mr. Baker

Mr. MacLellan Mr. Russell

Mr. Downe Mr. LeBlanc

Mr. Manning MacDonald Mr. Muir

Mr. Holm Miss Purves

Mr. Robert Chisholm Mr. Balser

Ms. O'Connell Mr. Parent

Ms. Maureen MacDonald Ms. McGrath

Mr. Corbett Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Epstein Mr. Olive

Mr. Estabrooks Mr. Rodney MacDonald

Mr. Dexter Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. MacKinnon Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Samson Mr. Taylor

Mr. Boudreau Mr. Dooks

Mr. Wilson Mr. Langille

Mr. Pye Mr. Morse

Mr. John MacDonell Mr. Hendsbee

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Carey

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Hurlburt

THE CLERK: For, 19, Against, 26.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is defeated.

[Motion for Supply continued.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings South.

MR. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable members of the Opposition for giving me this opportunity to get up today. I would first like to start by complimenting the member for Timberlea-Prospect. I would say in a game of chess, the best offence is a good defence. Indeed, last week I touched on a tender area. That is the $1,125 that was again wasted here today. When I got up today and read my resolution, he was waiting for me. So, I would like to acknowledge his gamesmanship in anticipating my

[Page 4740]

resolution, and I would also like to acknowledge to the viewing audience that both Opposition Parties understood that they had a tender area there last week, and that they should be criticized for these kinds of tactics. (Interruptions)

I would also like to point out, the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova has brought a tried and true NDP line to this Chamber again today talking about only one type of deficit, that being a budget deficit. Unfortunately, it is budgets that buy health and education and social services, and how we choose to spend them as a government, as a House, will determine how much we are able to deliver for the tax dollars we are able to collect. Actually the NDP has brought some interesting suggestions forward over the years and for sure the past few months. One of them I would suggest is their steadfast support to continue on with Sysco, and that is their perfect right, that is their point of view. The United Steel Workers of America also hold that same point of view and perhaps there is a connection.

Sysco has lost money for virtually 33 straight years and the NDP by virtue of their support for continuing Sysco would seem to say that it is more important to subsidize a Crown Corporation than to give those monies perhaps to the classrooms. Why, indeed, it seems to me that it was only a few days ago we had quite a number of visitors here who were expressing some concern, Mr. Speaker, with what we were able to do in the classroom and, indeed, I think that there is some concern out there about what we are able to truly afford to put in hospitals, in health care.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: I was just wondering if the member would entertain a brief question.

MR. MORSE: Absolutely, once I am done.

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, once he is done, he cannot take a question.

MR. MORSE: The honourable NDP House Leader understands my answer well. The honourable NDP House Leader actually is quite a legislator. He understands the House Rules, the etiquette, and he has a point of view. Actually some months ago in this Chamber at the Public Accounts Committee, the NDP member made an interesting suggestion which is totally in line with their support for Sysco, continuing to put money into Nova Scotia Resources Limited, he was suggesting that maybe we should be publicizing the distribution of diesel fuel to the truckers because it was a stressful time and he understood the government had a contract which allowed us to purchase the fuel for less monies. He was suggesting that we should perhaps be doing this for the independent truckers.

[Page 4741]

I would say here, today, that the member, like I think most of the members of his caucus and I am going to say all the members of his caucus, had good intentions. The only problem, Mr. Speaker, is if we think this through, which is a novel idea perhaps for the member, what he is really saying is let's shrink the private sector a little bit more, let's bring it in, we will put it as one delivery, not to worry about all the people who have invested in the cost of being part of the private sector to deliver diesel fuel, because ultimately that is what it means and, of course, that means there are less taxes to collect from the private sector which means less money for health, less money for education and less money for community services because, Mr. Speaker, there is a balance between the public and the private sector.

The socialist point of view - and I believe that by and large that is a fair statement to make of the NDP - is that they are in favour of a larger public sector, but the problem is that is at the expense of the private sector and it is the private sector that generates the taxes that fund the public sector. So the NDP wants a larger public sector and a smaller private sector. That is not news, but I think we have to think these things through when we have these good intentions before perhaps we go on the record and in the paper.

Mr. Speaker, there is another matter that really perplexes me. I know the NDP will be able to answer this question and I hope that when they go home to their constituencies tonight and maybe over the next four years, they can answer their constituents' questions because it almost seems to me, and heaven forbid if I misread the article in The Chronicle-Herald, but it was not too long ago - and I am absolutely sure I got this right, as ridiculous as it may sound today - that the NDP was advocating a 3 per cent raise. Can you imagine? Memory may not serve me right, but the honourable NDP House Leader, as he was leading this Chamber, he proudly stood up and said, yes, I am in support of my getting a 3 per cent raise. Those were was the words from the NDP House Leader and he is concurring again. A 3 per cent raise, Mr. Speaker.

I guess I would like to speak to the people who are perhaps picking this up out there or anybody in the media who is of interested to this, but I wonder if anybody in this room could think of what we might do with that 3 per cent raise? You know something? I think that would have been an excellent thing to discuss with the some 1,700 people who were here concerned about the difficult decisions we have to make in this budget.

It would be interesting to have seen the NDP Government House Leader perhaps go out on the steps - I understand that there was a pretty lively crowd out there - and explain to the people out there why it was more important from his point of view that he get a 3 per cent raise as an MLA.

I think that the NDP Government House Leader has appropriately questioned whether he said it out there and really, my point was that he chose not to go out there and explain that to the crowd, but he put it in The Chronicle-Herald.

[Page 4742]

So, a 3 per cent raise. Now, what does that mean? The member for Cape Breton West, during debates last fall on Supply, was concerned about Community Services stipends and he nods and he concurs again today. I wonder if the member for Cape Breton West would be in favour of the NDP's point of view to maybe increase their salary and take it from social services. Is that what the NDP intended to do with the 3 per cent?

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I am very much concerned for the member who is speaking and I am very much concerned with the fact that he is not allowed to go to the meeting in his constituency to meet with the representatives in his community who are concerned about the cuts in education. I am just wondering if that isn't a breech of this member's privilege since he obviously has so much to say here in this House about what everybody else supposedly believes?

So, Mr. Speaker I would like you to decide whether or not the member who is speaking, the member for Kings South, has the permission of this House to actually go and meet with his constituents. Or if he has to follow the Party line and stay locked up here in the House and hidden away from those voters who had elected him. Shouldn't he have to go back home and be accountable?

MR. SPEAKER: Obviously, it is not a point of order, but maybe a question the honourable member might want to answer.

MR. MORSE: Thank you very much, Mr. NDP House Leader. Always good to get your questions.

Maybe the NDP would like to take it from those who are least able to pay, perhaps that is where they would like to take their raise from. Or maybe they would like to take it from the sick?

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The member across is imputing motives. He is suggesting that we want to take the monies away from those who are least able to afford to pay it, Mr. Speaker, and through you to the member, I would just like to correct him. What we would rather do is take it away from the government's friends, the ones who have been benefiting very much from the largesse and the tremendous gifts that this government has been giving to its friends.

MR. SPEAKER: It is not a point of order, but it is certainly a point well made.

MR. MORSE: Was it a point of order?

MR. SPEAKER: No.

[Page 4743]

MR. MORSE: So it was not a point of order, surprise. So he is now saying, I gather, that he does not want it to come from Community Services and that is commendable because I would not want a raise for the NDP, or indeed any of the members of this House, to come from Community Services. He has not said that he does not want it to come from the classrooms, so maybe he would like to cut back in educational assistants to pay for his raise. That is one possibility because, Mr. Speaker, virtually all our income . . .

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I am wondering if the member might be not so inclined then to reduce the salary of the deputy minister who is making $189,000, the Deputy Minister of the Department of Education who is getting $129,000, and/or start to get from the royalties, some reasonable rate of royalties in return for . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is not a point of order.

MR. MORSE: It sounds like a political speech, Mr. Speaker. I guess that is what we should expect in this Chamber. Anyway, I would have to say that I have never seen the honourable NDP House Leader get up so many times in 15 minutes. So, once again, I wonder if I have hit a tender spot over there. I think he is a little sensitive about this because he keeps getting up. He does not like this message because it makes his Party accountable. It is easy to get up there, make all kinds of promises, they are going to cut taxes, increase expenditures but, fortunately, Nova Scotians feel that that is not in the best interests of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I really had a lot more to say, but there seems to have been quite a few interruptions.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The motion is carried.

[2:48 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[6:51 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Kevin Deveaux in the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Supply reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made some progress in considering Supply and asks leave to sit again.

[Page 4744]

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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. 46.

Bill No. 46 - Financial Measures (2000) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I think I had about 30 seconds left, therefore, I will yield my time to a speaker from the Liberal Party.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: I am pleased to rise and speak on this amendment to Bill No. 46, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. I understand the motion is for a six month hoist. Obviously, for any such motion, there would have to be some considerable thought to the history, the status, the facts, and indeed what type of an action plan would actually be undertaken so as to achieve any consequential and positive benefit to such a motion. To be honest, I have given a lot of thought to that over the weekend and, at the end of the day, I still end up with some mixed emotions. I couldn't help but read one of the small transcripts that people sometimes put on your e-mail, and it kind of set the tone for the rationale. It is very short, if I could read it, with Mr. Speaker's indulgence.

It is a message that came across from a U.S. Navy ship to a Canadian land-based institution, and it says: ships at sea, this is a transcript of an actual radio conversation of a U.S. Navy ship with Canadian authorities, off the coast of Newfoundland, in October 1995. Radio conversation released by the Chief Naval Officer of Operations, October 10, 1995. Canadians - please divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision. Americans - recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collision. Canadians - negative, you will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision. Americans - this is the captain of a U.S. Navy ship, I say again, divert your course. Canadians - no, I say again, you divert your course. Americans - this is the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln,

[Page 4745]

the second largest ship in the United States 92 Atlantic Fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers, and numerous support vessels. I demand you change your course 15 degrees north. I say again, that is 92 S 15 degrees north, or counter-measures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship. Canadians - this is a lighthouse, your turn.

Mr. Speaker, hence we enter into the debate of this particular amendment that is before the House. Obviously the intent of this particular amendment is to allow various stakeholders across the province considerable time to review the full implications of this particular piece of legislation. It has been generally recognized in the House by the previous speakers and even those who have introduced such pieces of legislation of similar form, that in fact this would be an omnibus bill. So you have to ask yourself, what really can we achieve in six months that we cannot achieve during the 20 hours of debate on this particular piece of legislation?

Mr. Speaker, this particular piece of legislation covers such a wide variety of issues extending from the Alcohol and Gaming Authority, the Assessment Act, the Corrections Act, the Emergency "911" Act, the Equity Tax Credit Act, the Expenditure Control Act, the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission Act, the Home Ownership Savings Plan (Nova Scotia) Act, the Income Tax Act and at least three or four different financial components; the Income Tax Act effective January 1, 2000, Part I and Part II, the tax that affects large corporations and, indeed, one that I think we have to focus on and only something that could be dealt with over a considerable period of time with some extensive discussion over the next three to four months, if not six, would be with regard to the offshore area and tax issue.

Also there is the issue that has been raised through the Department of Justice on probate taxes and also, Mr. Speaker, the time limit for tabling reports with regard to any potential deficit on or after the fiscal year of the year 2002-03. There we go to the very heart, the essence of why we need some additional and considered and reasoned debate on this particular piece of legislation because the Minister of Finance, himself, has stated that it is the intent of the government that we would not have any more deficit financing after that considered period of time.

One of the benefits, Mr. Speaker, of this rather extensive consultation has been proven forthwith by previous administrations. I go back to the time when the Honourable Greg Kerr was Minister of Finance and coupled with the member for Guysborough who took over his responsibility shortly after, the Honourable Chuck MacNeil, who took over the post of Minister of Finance, both these individuals, Mr. Speaker, upwards of six months actually prior to the budget being tabled, they did a province-wide tour, a consultative process involving stakeholders, everything from agriculture to education, to health services, the issues on taxation, these were all the issues that they put on the table to ensure that that consultation process would be given full consideration before the budget was tabled.

[Page 4746]

This is something, Mr. Speaker, that I think is still a possibility without compromising the integrity of this budget as the minister has before the House. If, in fact, we were to follow some of the windows of opportunity, they are still at the legal disposition of the Minister of Finance and the Executive Council because whether all people, all members, or indeed all Nova Scotians are aware or not, the Minister of Finance with the approval of the Executive Council could indeed appropriate without the approval of the House up to 50 per cent of last year's fiscal budget. To a certain extent the Minister of Finance has done that last year because of the lateness of the budget to be able to walk himself into ensuring that the budget would be approved without interruptions to the operation of the government.

So, Mr. Speaker, given some of the issues and I will address a couple of them just to underline some of the things that we can do over that next three to six month period, and I use that degree of latitude because I am not so sure I necessarily agree with a six month stay of execution, if that is the terminology we like to use on approving this particular budget, because I would generally concede and agree the fact that the Minister of Finance has really received some input from various stakeholders within the process, but I would submit, Mr. Speaker, that that process could be undertaken so as to allow the stakeholders in education to be able to go back and find out what happened with this snafu within the Department of Education on the $20 million figure that the Minister of Education is putting before the House but yet saying it won't have an impact on the classrooms and the teachers.

[7:00 p.m.]

The Minister of Education has indicated, and perhaps rightfully so, I am not sure, that because of the differential and the budgetary processes between school boards and the Department of Education, that four month period, that maybe there is a good reason for delaying the lay-off notices by one month. That could be part of that consultation process, to bring the parties closer together. It is very difficult, Mr. Speaker, if we have the stakeholders at the table, like the chief CEOs and financial officers and representatives from the school boards sitting at the same table with the minister's top level bureaucrats, trying to resolve this impasse, and the minister introduces a piece of legislation that says, hey, this is the way we are going to do it, and also introduce some additional legislation that essentially could take away the powers of the boards at a moment's notice.

So these are the types of things, realistically, that I think, and even more so I believe that we could discuss in a very open and collective forum. Certainly I believe over the last number of weeks a lot of individuals - students, parents, teachers, even politicians, have allowed a lot of the emotion to settle on this particular issue because as with any major issue that has an impact on the people of Nova Scotia, and in particular in this case with education, we can see that that would certainly arouse the emotions of even the most timid of individuals.

[Page 4747]

So, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education, with some representatives from the Department of Finance, could go to the various school districts across this province, could meet with, in open forum, and also perhaps in a more controlled forum, with some of the chief financial officers, the teachers' representatives, perhaps parents' representatives and perhaps even some of the presidents from the student councils in the school boards in those respective districts. You would not have to have a room full of 500 or 600 people where I think as some members would readily agree, things can get quite emotional and highly charged. I think the members who may have attended that meeting in Port Hawkesbury yesterday, certainly the government members, would attest to the fact that they probably didn't have much of a fighting chance when you go into a room of 400 to 500 people with a mindset that the government is wrong and they are right. Perhaps somewhere in between is a meeting of the minds.

Now I notice the Minister of Tourism was travelling with his German Shepherd yesterday. I don't know if he was looking for some additional protection, but the fact of the matter is (Interruption) No, no, I saw a dog in the back of your van so that is why I made note of it. (Interruption) That was you. I saw a German Shepherd on the back of your van so I thought perhaps you were carrying some extra security. Mr. Speaker, we all know it is safer for these members to travel in twos.

Sticking right to the issue, Mr. Speaker, I think some of the issues that affect various stakeholders, major stakeholders in this province have really been overlooked. Let's look, for example, within the Department of Labour. In the Department of Labour, there is a major change being undertaken through this particular piece of legislation.

The government, because one of the major stakeholders is the labour community with organized labour representing at least one-third of the total labour force in the province and, indeed, in the public sector, Mr. Speaker, that is significantly higher. It is more like 65 or 70 per cent of the labour force. This particular change is being imposed without the full knowledge and consultation of all the stakeholders. The government is now moving toward a 50/50 split on the cost of an arbitration, whereas presently, that is one-third by the management of any particular institution or company or organization, one-third by the labour community and one-third by the Department of Labour, which is the overseer of this process.

So, Mr. Speaker, the government has walked away from its financial obligation here which is, essentially, a downloading to these various stakeholders. This is an opportunity to be able to involve some of these various stakeholders into the rationale for the government doing this. If it is simply just a cost-cutting measure, then perhaps the Minister of Finance should have drawn that out during his presentation, or perhaps maybe the Minister of Labour will provide that information during his budget deliberations. But there is no suggestion through the whole process that this has taken place. I honestly believe this is an opportunity to, whether the stakeholders would agree in the final analysis or not, it would at least allow them to vent their frustration, express their concern and perhaps give some constructive

[Page 4748]

alternatives as to what they would suggest in how to meet the government's financial targets and, at the same time, being able to not download so much of this cost onto the various stakeholders in the private sector for the most part.

Also, Mr. Speaker, we can see within the Department of Justice, there is a new charge being imposed. I will bet you a dime to a donut, 90 per cent of the members in this House are not aware of the additional $100 court charge that is going to be imposed on any individual that goes before a court and is, for example, found for a speeding ticket or some type of a motor vehicle infraction. It is a factor or could be . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the honourable member that he is speaking on the hoist amendment, and I would ask him to bring himself back a little bit to refer to that, please. Thank you.

MR. MACKINNON: Yes, Mr. Speaker, and I thank you, but in order to be able to clearly state the rationale and the purpose for having any type of a hoist is to give the reasons for the concern and the apprehension about just simply approving this particular piece of legislation without some substantive knowledge. This is the point I am making, that when you pick up this piece of legislation and you find this, this is all the more reason to have more consultation as did the honourable Greg Kerr and the honourable Charles MacNeil when they were the respective ministers for this department.

They travelled around and they asked people: did you agree with these types of tax measures? Or what would you do to try to reduce the debt? As a sidebar, Mr. Speaker, not that it did a lot of good, because that particular fiscal year, they had the highest operating deficit in the Province of Nova Scotia to date, so I am not so sure in the final analysis that consultative process was very productive. But on a positive note, because I attended some of those hearings, and some of the things that can be achieved are achieved through that public consultative process. That was a six month period leading up to the budget.

Unfortunately, it is a little after the fact here, but the barn door is not closed. It is open and some of the horses have gone, but still there is an opportunity for the Minister of Finance to regain some credibility on this particular issue. Mr. Speaker, I have mentioned about the possibility of having the various stakeholders in the Department of Education, from the student representatives to the school boards, to the teachers, to the parents, to the school board officials and so on. That particular process, all we have to do is switch over to the Department of Transportation and Public Works.

What will be achieved by a six month delay in the budget for this particular department? Well, absolutely, one of the chief benefits is the fact that it would help the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to better plan in an open and clear forum so that the various stakeholders, particularly all the employees - if the estimates are correct, and at least one-third of the employees will be affected - at least it will allow various individuals, whether

[Page 4749]

employees, supervisors, senior directors in the department, or simply stakeholders from the private sector, to come to these community-based forums. They can say, okay, I can provide this service - let's say it is ditching, let's say it is grading, let's say it is snow removal or whatever it is - we can provide this service for equal or better value, quantity or quality rather, for equal or less cost. That is essentially, I would imagine, the premise for moving in that particular direction.

However, Mr. Speaker, history does have a way of rearing its head sometimes, not to the better, and this is where the Liberals took quite a hit back in the late days when Henry Hicks was Premier of the province. He started introducing that type of privatization, but you have to learn from your mistakes. These are the types of issues that I am sure anyone who was involved in their early years would be quite senior and add a lot of wisdom to the process during this six month period, and what happened there was that privatization process was a complete fiasco and they had to move away from it. So there are the types of things that realistically if the government is laying out, this is the benchmark, the foundation for this next three to four year plan. These are the types of things that I think we could accumulate some additional information that could be tabulated into this budgetary process.

I would suggest it still wouldn't impact on the government's operations or ability to carry forth on the first half of its fiscal obligations, because in a six month period they can appropriate up to one-half of their total budget without even the approval of the House. If proper management and control on financing is as strong as the Minister of Finance has indicated, then this would be an opportunity to help fortify and enhance and strengthen the accountability in that process because, as the Minister of Finance has indicated, this is something that the people of Nova Scotia really have come to understand and know, that it is important for them to be part of this process.

If we are switching from one basic accounting process into another, as the Minister of Finance has referred to as TCA, or total capital asset accountability, then we have to come to understand and by asking the people in the various communities across Nova Scotia, who may not understand the complexities of accounting, particularly as a chartered accountant or someone who specializes in that, they can bring some very basic and human knowledge from their experience, whether it is from their experience, whether it is from a small private mom-and-pop business on how the new income tax system is going to have an impact on them, or if it is a major issue that affects the farming community.

These are the types of things I believe would not only be helpful for the Minister of Finance, but it would be helpful for each minister in his or her respective department. The Minister of Agriculture himself knows how important it is to consult with the Federation of Agriculture.

[Page 4750]

The conversations that I have had with many representatives from the agricultural community indicate to me that they haven't had an opportunity to have some substantive input into that budget, that budget which is looking at least in excess of a 20 per cent cut, not at the administration level, just on different programs and initiatives that would have a widespread impact.

I would think this is an issue that would be of major concern, certainly for the entire province, but particularly from about Hants County west, going through Hants County, Kings County, Annapolis and then through the entire farm belt of the Province of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, because that is one of the key cornerstone industries in Nova Scotia. (Interruption) Yes, my colleague on the government bench is referring to Cape Breton. Yes, it is, but we are realistic too. We know where the overwhelming percentage of economic strategy is on agriculture.

[7:15 p.m.]

It is much the same as in the fishing industry. This is an opportunity that really has been missed by this one and the same minister.

Again, through the southwestern part of the province, all the different fishermen's organizations, whether it be the inshore, the offshore, those in aquaculture or what have you, they are telling people in the Liberal caucus, and particularly myself as Fisheries Critic, that they haven't been given an opportunity to have some input on different budgetary measures within that minister's budget, particularly as it pertains to the conflict that is now arising between the lobster fishermen and those who have aquaculture leases in and along the South Shore of Nova Scotia. There is genuine concern by the lobster fishermen that that type of cultivated industry, the aquaculture industry, is generating a residual that is having a very negative impact on the lobster beds.

These are the types of issues, Mr. Speaker, that they could bring forth to the table so that all members of the Legislature would have a better understanding of the implications on that particular budget and not only that, but it would assist the Minister of Fisheries to be able to understand, in a more full and clear fashion, how his budget is impacting on all sectors because, from what we can see so far, in some aspects of the minister's budget, it is having a positive effect for one group, but not for the other. This is an opportunity to go with this six months' hoist and, perhaps, even if these province-wide consultative initiatives are undertaken and completed within a three or four month period, I am sure all members of the Opposition Parties and, indeed, all members of the House, would readily agree to coming back and giving it the stamp of approval.

I know, Mr. Speaker, that certainly has a positive impact up in Cumberland County, the blueberry industry, the stakeholders in that particular aspect of the industry. There has been a lot of concern about the import of bees and the implications on introducing these foreign

[Page 4751]

species that would have a major, negative impact on the domestic bee population and how that would have a negative impact on the blueberries and all the other crops in Nova Scotia. These are types of stakeholders that we could hear from over that six month period. Bragg Enterprises up through Cumberland County, they are noted to be, I believe, the largest blueberry operation in North America. I don't know if that is true or not, but they are certainly advertised as such. I believe that it is, certainly, a very strong cornerstone of our economy. These are the types of stakeholders that the Minister of Agriculture, who also holds the portfolio of Fisheries, would have an opportunity to understand that we just simply cannot combine these various departments and operate them as if they are just one kind of mould of generality.

Mr. Speaker, we notice that within the forestry sector. If ever there was an opportunity for us to ensure some peace and calm and some personal mental satisfaction, if nothing else can be achieved, this consultative process would be very productive for all those in the forestry industry because it is so diverse.

You go down through Lunenburg County and we have all the Christmas tree industry there. They are extremely independent and they are self-reliant and they have very little need for government intervention and they have stated that, Mr. Speaker. Yet, this particular budget that is before the House, with the budget of the Minister of Natural Resources will, in fact, create some imposition on them. It seems like we go through the cycle of life in here, not just the members, x number of years, but the fact, it is an analogy to demonstrate the validity of the point. I understand the minister is drawing me right back on the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable member to bring himself back to the task at hand, that is the hoist amendment. Thank you.

MR. MACKINNON: Well, Mr. Speaker, that underlines the importance of this particular hoist because it is just simply not good enough to say we are going to hoist the bill and try and hold up the budget and filibuster, just for the sake of filibustering. That is not the intent. Some members on the government benches may think that, but that is not true - maybe over in the socialist camp.

One of the primary benefits, it brings a smile to the members on the government benches, I know it does. Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the hoist is to ensure that we have a better financial accountability on a wide variety of issues that the government has not dealt with. People across Nova Scotia, as is demonstrated by the tens of thousands of names that have been tabled in the last number of weeks, need public consultation on the education issue. In fact, the other day I received an e-mail addressed to; "To Whom is Concerned" and then in brackets, "we think nobody is listening so we are hoping somebody will". This is the type of disparity that would cause members of the Opposition to ask for a hoist on this particular piece of legislation.

[Page 4752]

It is scary when you introduce budgetary measures and then say, this is good for you but we have already heard you, we don't know what you have said so we are going to do this and it is up to you to ferret it out, but we can only ferret out so much information. This is not hide and seek. We have a responsibility, as an Opposition, to use these different tools that are at our disposal, to ensure full and open and accountable government that Premier John Hamm promised the people of Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, that is the purpose for the hoist, so as to draw to the attention of the people of Nova Scotia that something is amiss with the budget. This particular piece of legislation is almost 100 pages in length, with some of the most complex financial initiatives that even the best of accountants would have a hard time analysing.

This is an opportunity for the Minister of Finance, with senior staff, to tell the people of Nova Scotia - they certainly are not telling the Opposition members, but go to the people of Nova Scotia and tell them the complexities of this rather complex, omnibus bill - oh, I almost said bull, I am sorry, maybe a little of that but I am not going to go there, Mr. Speaker, because I don't think that is parliamentary, it is just a slip of the tongue. It is perhaps what a lot of people are thinking.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, back onto the topic. There are a lot of positive things to be achieved by such a thing. People in Nova Scotia are saying that we need these types of actions, this six month hoist is an opportunity to consult with the people of Nova Scotia because the government is not listening. I will table this particular article that was printed on Saturday, April 8, 2000. It is just one sentence here, West Colchester residents were disappointed Wednesday that politicians tended to business in Halifax rather than meet them about deplorable road conditions on Highway No. 2. It has been 20 years since the residents of West Colchester have had an issue to discuss with elected officials and they (officials) don't show up. Well, these are the types of things that are going on, province-wide.

Sometimes we get in the House here and we feel like we are in a little cocoon and the whole world knows what is going on.

I am sure 90 per cent of the time, Mr. Speaker, people are not even aware of what is happening on the estimates. They don't understand the implications. This is an opportunity with this hoist for members of the government to go out and champion the cause and tell the people what a good budget it is if they think it is. This is an opportunity for the government ministers and their backbenchers, because you have to have cheerleaders, albeit they are small in numbers, to go out and tell the people, the reasons why the budget is good. Ignore the six months' hoist and we will come back and we will readily concede defeat, that we are wrong on this issue and the government is right. If they can bring back 50 per cent plus one of the population to say we are wrong, we will readily by-pass this process and let's get on and meet with the government's agenda.

AN HON. MEMBER: You might, I will not.

[Page 4753]

MR. MACKINNON: We always have to have a dissenting voice and that is fine. The socialists will always disagree so don't get too caught up in that, but the fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, it is an opportunity, particularly for the backbenchers on the government side, who have really taken a pounding on this issue, and to say anything to the contrary is not living with reality. This is an opportunity for them, as I would expect is normal protocol, that these backbenchers on the government team, if not the Opposition, to sit down with senior staff, policy advisers and those who are key within the department, to explain in as much detail as possible, to go out and meet with their constituents and explain the rationale for doing this. This is time, we are helping the backbenchers on the government team with some time out.

We are actually doing good for the government. They should thank the Opposition members. Here we are providing a vehicle, an opportunity for the members on the government backbenches to go back to their constituents, take off their bulletproof vests and meet with their constituents, front on. Don't be afraid. If the budget is that good, I am sure they will not have any problem explaining it. This six months' hoist will help them do that and still save face and they can still come back and vote for the budget. That is one of the good things about this particular initiative.

Mr. Speaker, just for an example, let's go out to the outlying regions of the province where it is very difficult for the people of Nova Scotia who want to come and voice their concerns about the budgetary process. It costs a lot of money to take a day off work, or if you are lucky enough to have a job in some communities, it is even more difficult because you have to make arrangements to either car pool or hire a bus, or whatever, to travel to Halifax for the day. That is a good four to five hour trip from Cape Breton, it would be the same coming from Cumberland County, which is two or three hours, and from the South Shore. It is very difficult for people in the outlying areas to come and voice their concern.

So, this is an opportunity that the rural members (Interruption) You will not have to worry. I will be here. I will be the last one here when the lights go out. I was on Friday, I believe, but this is an opportunity for the rural members on the government backbenches and, indeed, all rural members in Nova Scotia, to be able to go back and be able to deal with the content of this particular piece of legislation in a more substantive fashion.

[7:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we would certainly endeavour, encourage, and be willing to meet with senior officials from the Department of Finance or any of the various government departments. We would certainly welcome them with open arms in the respective constituencies, whether on government benches or backbenches, to be able to come and explain to people, not in a high-handed fashion, like what happened with the Premier sending a letter to all the students across Nova Scotia earlier today, that is counter-productive. That

[Page 4754]

is not a consultative process. What we are asking is that the politicians avail themselves of their ivory towers and their security blankets here in Halifax and go and meet with the people.

If the government members were willing to do that, I am sure that some reasonable concessions could be made on issues such as quorum and the hours of the House and all these things that would allow government members and, indeed, backbenchers to be able to go and meet with their constituents and explain why it is so important that we have to deal with the debt in the manner that we do, with the deficit in the formidable amortized paydown, as the Minister of Finance is proposing to do over a three to four year period. All these issues are an opportunity for any member of the House, whether they be on the government benches or in the Opposition, whether they be in Cabinet or not in Cabinet, to be able to take that information and disseminate it in a reasonable and fair manner. That is all we are asking.

Mr. Speaker, I understand this process unlike processes in other jurisdictions. I often wonder if it would be an opportunity to entertain at the community level. We have some 18 counties across the province, I don't know how many hundreds of communities we have. Just in my constituency alone, I have 26 communities. The demands in each one of those communities attached to this particular budgetary measure are all different because the communities are all different, from fishing to farming to tourism to the white collar community, education, tourism.

Mr. Speaker, this is an opportunity to go back and explain to them, and perhaps we will never get it all fully explained, perhaps the government members and ministers won't be able to fully make everybody appreciate, and that is part of democracy. I believe that in a reasonable and fair fashion, it is an opportunity (Interruption) Yes, in Big Pond, where Rita's Tea Room is. That is a major tourism attraction. The people of Big Pond have expressed isolation from the government on a number of issues, indeed, the exchange of services issue, the regional government are now talking about joining Richmond County. Well, I like to sit next to my colleague for Richmond, but I don't want to give him my county either.

Mr. Speaker, on a more serious note, these are the types of things we could explain in very succinct form. I believe it is an opportunity, if the ministers were willing, to allow individual backbenchers on the government team to have with them senior government officials from the various departments, go to the community and help explain some of the complexities of the issues and the financial implications, so these members are not sitting there like sitting ducks when they go into a large auditorium with 400 or 500 people upset with them over an issue that perhaps they can't fully defend because they haven't received all the information, or at least feel they haven't received all the information from, whether it be the Minister of Education or Natural Resources or Economic Development. This is an excellent vehicle that members on the government team could use.

[Page 4755]

It still wouldn't stop the business of the government. It would not stop the business of the government, because, as I stated before, the mechanism is there to allow the government to continue to function. There is a major issue that I believe the Minister of Finance should in fact address himself province-wide, in at least every major community in each county in this province, so that would be at least 18-plus. That is the change in the relationship of the tax component between the federal and provincial governments.

As we noticed earlier this year, the federal government announced a reduction in the personal income tax and, because of that, and we are attached at a certain percentage to the federal rate, then we would lose money and the government would lose, I believe, by the estimate of the Minister of Finance, upwards of around $30 million, which he claims we can't afford to do. Perhaps it is an excellent opportunity for the Minister of Finance to go to these communities and explain the impact that it will have on the low income and fixed income, those who would have a fighting chance because they fall below the poverty level, or what about those with their small mom and pop businesses, the private operations.

Really, that is the backbone of the economy in the private sector in Nova Scotia. It is also an opportunity for the Minister of Finance to indicate the necessity of keeping that door open, to be able to increase that percentage at even a higher level than the minister has contemplated in this legislation which is supposed to be revenue neutral. So, Mr. Speaker, this is an excellent opportunity for the Minister of Finance to go and explain to the people the initiative and the design of this particular aspect of his legislation.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I have to qualify because it is only one component of this particular omnibus bill because there are at least, oh, I would say, close to 15 or 20 components to this particular piece of legislation; economic development, the disbanding of the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission, I believe it is, is in this particular piece of legislation as well (Interruption) The Port Development Commission, I am sorry. The minister again, there you go, all the more reason for consultation because the Minister of Economic Development was going to sit there and just smile about the whole issue. He was not prepared to help the Opposition in correcting that small anomaly in my reference. He wanted me to ferret it out.

That is not the open and consultative way that the government said it was going to do. This is why the people in metro, as time will progress, will find that unless we have some more consultation on issues such as this Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission Act, then what we could be doing is losing some economic advantage. Certainly I am hoping that the government is just not disbanding this for a political advantage because I don't think the people of metro would have much patience for just manipulating things just for the sake of gaining some political advantage.

I would hope that that is certainly not the case with the Alcohol and Gaming Authority because there are going to be costs to that and this is an opportunity for the government to explain to the people, in a timely fashion - maybe it won't take six months, maybe it will only

[Page 4756]

take a couple of weeks - I doubt if it will be a couple of weeks but it will certainly take a couple of months to explain these issues to the people of metro.

Mr. Speaker, metro, as we all know, in terms of weighted advantage, metro has the least amount of dependency, in terms of its demand on the tax dollar. That is a given. I have the figures handily but I believe it outstrips the rural parts of Nova Scotia, up through Cumberland County and down through the South Shore and the Valley by an issue of almost 2 to 1, and in Cape Breton an issue of almost 3, perhaps 4 to 1. So that is the importance of having this type of consultative process. For those who . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the honourable member would permit an introduction. Thank you very much, honourable member for Cape Breton West.

Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery I have the pleasure of introducing a long-time friend of the Nova Scotia Legislature, in fact I understand he started out as a Page in this grand old Chamber, a Liverpool resident. I would ask him to rise, Cam Crowell, and please receive a round welcome from the people in the House. (Applause)

MR. MACKINNON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I, too, welcome Cam. He is a very vivacious and entertaining individual and a very pleasant individual to talk to and he is a good friend of many in the House.

Mr. Speaker, going back to this major issue on the dependency ratio, in terms of the economic vibrancy of the various communities across the province, this is probably, next to the actual tax issue itself that I believe needs some more discussion, about one of the most critical issues. The percentages I gave were just slightly off the mark there but they are pretty much in line: for the Cape Breton region it is about 51 per cent; the Halifax Regional Municipality, 16.7 per cent; for the Province of Nova Scotia, on average, 27 per cent, and up through, as I have stated before, it is much higher, not as high as Cape Breton but significantly high. So this is the reason why rural Nova Scotia has to be consulted. It really has to be consulted on the implications and the impact of this particular budget.

Mr. Speaker, we can look at, I mentioned about the forestry and why the Department of Natural Resources budget has to be analysed a little more because of the stakeholders, this major change with the Department of Finance and the funding arrangements for silviculture and so on for the various stakeholders across the province. Just to give you an overview of why this consultation process will derive such a positive benefit, there are two major issues here in the province that we can all refer back to, health and education. We all had community

[Page 4757]

boards at both levels, like the local boards and so on, and then we went through that restructuring and made them regional boards. Now we are coming back to community boards all over again.

Mr. Speaker, the cost factor on those two major issues and, by the way, both of them were initiated under Conservative Administrations. We have come full circle. They were initiated by a Conservative Administration, executed by a Liberal Administration, and now they are just being disbanded by the Conservative Administration. So, these are the major issues that the people of Nova Scotia will have an opportunity to speak on. They will have an opportunity to speak on them because they have such a profound impact. You are talking about value for dollar. If ever there was an opportunity to measure the value for dollar, it is this consultative process over the next six months.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services on an introduction.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: I thank the honourable member for allowing me to take the opportunity for an introduction. I would like to introduce Harry and Barbara Churchill who are in the west gallery. Harry is celebrating his birthday and came in to celebrate with us and see what is going on. So I would ask the House to show their appreciation. If they would stand and receive the approbation of the House. (Applause)

MR. MACKINNON: Thank you, and I too welcome these very distinguished guests. Mr. Speaker, there are two major issues right there. We have come full circle, and the cost of these restructurings in the tens of millions of dollars. The money that could be realized in savings by putting the brakes on. Let's do the one-upmanship, because we don't have political control within these particular organizations, whether it be at school boards or within the department or whatever. That seems to be what it is coming down to. It is a very sad commentary when you consider we spent, between the two major Royal Commissions on health care and education, close to $10 million, and we have come full circle from disbanding everything that the previous administration asked for.

This is an opportunity to go out into these rural communities and explain to them, down in Hants County - I am sure the Minister of Transportation and Public Works would only welcome public consultation on the Highway No. 101 issue - these are very positive initiatives. Go to the people in Truro and ask them about their secure treatment centre; maybe they don't want it, maybe they do. In the House the Opposition are saying they want it. Maybe there is some different rationale for putting the brakes on. The Minister of Health indicated yes, but it goes on, so on and so forth.

[7:45 p.m.]

I want to focus on the forestry operations because that is the major one for any member, particularly a rural member, whether in Guysborough, in Antigonish, in Cape

[Page 4758]

Breton, in Richmond, Victoria, Inverness. These are major issues and this budget will have a major, negative impact because of the cost that is now being downloaded onto the individual stakeholders: the woodlot owners, the contractors, all the different stakeholders. Whether it be a sawmill operation - I forgot my good colleague from Hants County, that is a major issue down through there, they have mixed farming and forestry. Some of the best timber in the Province of Nova Scotia is in that constituency and I think we had some major debates in the province and we had to involve those stakeholders before that particular budget was debated because it had such a profound impact on the people of Nova Scotia.

I suppose with my own background, coming from a little bit of forestry, it means a little more to me. I was the Lands and Forests Critic in this House for - I am not going to say how many years because they will say that is where he belongs, over in Opposition . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I just want to remind the honourable member that he is speaking to the amendment, rein him back a little bit please to the hoist.

MR. MACKINNON: Yes, Mr. Speaker, you are absolutely correct. It is very easy when you become so involved with these issues, it is easy to go back into history and kind of stray off the topic, but they are all related one way or the other. But the fact of the matter is because of the major changes that are taking place in forestry today in terms of the regulatory processes that were enacted by ourselves when we were in government and now the obligations in terms of financial obligations in terms of silviculture, here is an opportunity for the government to speak to the various stakeholders.

In summing up (Interruptions) I can return by popular demand if we could have the unanimous consent of the House. In essence, one of the key things about omnibus bills like this when they are introduced to the House is the fact that it is very difficult to ascertain what the principle of the bill is. People can use their own English, that is my English. Perhaps a hoist is the wrong thing to do, I don't know, but given the limitations that were given to deal with, and I hear suggestions from the member for Guysborough that it is the wrong thing to do, so perhaps I will entertain his suggestion and I now move that the debate on this particular bill, Bill No. 46, be now adjourned until a future date.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate on Bill No. 46.

A recorded vote is being called for.

Ring the bells. Call in the members.

[7:50 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

[Page 4759]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[8:50 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. MacAskill Mr. Christie

Dr. Smith Mr. Baker

Mr. MacLellan Mr. Russell

Mr. Manning MacDonald Mr. LeBlanc

Mr. Holm Mr. Muir

Mr. Robert Chisholm Miss Purves

Ms. Maureen MacDonald Mr. Fage

Mr. Corbett Mr. Balser

Mr. Epstein Ms. McGrath

Mr. Estabrooks Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Deveaux Mr. Olive

Mr. Dexter Mr. Rodney MacDonald

Mr. MacEwan Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. Gaudet Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. MacKinnon Mr. Taylor

Mr. Samson Mr. Dooks

Mr. Boudreau Mr. Langille

Mr. Wilson Mr. Morse

Mr. Pye Mr. Hendsbee

Mr. John MacDonell Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Carey

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Hurlburt

THE CLERK: For 20. Against, 26.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is defeated.

Just before the next member starts to speak I want to remind the members that, according to the rules, will be the only motion to adjourn debate on this particular bill today that will be allowed.

[Page 4760]

The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise and speak to this motion. For members of the House who have forgotten . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber. I would ask the members to take their conversations outside. The honourable member for Hants East has the floor.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, for the honourable members who have forgotten what the motion says, "That Bill No. 46, the Financial Measures (2000) Act, be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence."

Mr. Speaker, I speak in support of this motion. I know that the members opposite would not believe me if I said that I have faith in the government members on the other side of the House. If we consider the process the government has been through, then there is certainly a valid reason for this hoist amendment. I think that members opposite will remember their months after the election in the summer and the Voluntary Planning process the government undertook. That Voluntary Planning process was to seek input for the government and actually guide them through their budget process.

Well, Mr. Speaker, it would seem clear, and I still have faith in the members opposite, they will want to use input from the public in addressing concerns raised by the Opposition. So all the more reason to stop and collect our thoughts and allow this bill to be hoisted for six months so that all Nova Scotians can have some input into the ramifications of this bill.

Now I am sure the members on the government side would say well, that process is not necessary because we have the Law Amendments process and the public can come in and make whatever recommendations they feel are necessary in regard to this bill. I think if we consider the breadth of changes this bill entails, and somewhere in the range of 25 changes that it intends to make to various pieces of legislation, then, Mr. Speaker, all the more reason to have input by the public and give that six months delay bringing in this bill for second reading. By that time not only will the government members have an opportunity to reflect on the implications of the bill and its relationship to the budget - because the budget and this Financial Measures (2000) Act do go hand in hand, even though the budget may pass - this bill has serious implications to the effect of that budget on the public.

Mr. Speaker, I would encourage all of the members of the Cabinet, and in particular the members in the backbenches, to they take some time and review the bill, go to their constituents and have a concerned dialogue with their constituents, see if there are any implications of this bill that affect their constituents in a negative way.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Six months hence east.

[Page 4761]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Certainly, I hear the honourable member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley saying six months hence east and I would encourage him at any time in the House when he wants to mention or relate to Hants East, that that is fine by me.

Mr. Speaker, this bill has significant ramifications. I think that maybe it is time for the government to reflect, take six months, even examine their budget and the whole budget process, and consider their budget, presently, as a trial balloon. I think members opposite, the very first thing they are to say is that the Opposition will object to the budget no matter what the budget is. One member actually stated, I think, in regard to the Leader of my Party, that I have never seen you support a budget in all the time you have been here. So I think the first thing that members opposite are going to say is that the New Democratic Party will oppose this budget simply because it is put forth by the government or any government.

I think that from the reaction the members opposite would have received from their constituents, from the public in general, the protests outside the House, Mr. Speaker, it must be obvious to them that all the ramifications of the budget, and in regard to the Financial Measures (2000) Act, to hoist the Financial Measures (2000) Act for six months, let the public have a clear input into the measures that impact their lives, that this can only be a good thing. It would show, to the public, that the government is actually listening to the public and is concerned about the input that the public may want to have.

[9:00 p.m.]

I would say that the areas of concern that have presented themselves since the budget process started, I am particularly amazed at the avenues that the concern has come from. In this brown envelope, I have the letters from a Grade 5 class in Shubenacadie who have expressed concerns about environmental issues. It would tend to make me think that if Grade 5 children are asking questions in this regard, then if we look at many of the much larger issues affected by this budget that all Nova Scotians must have questions that need to be answered. I think the Speaker would recognize that through this process, the estimates process, the process we have been through in Question Period in the House, that we have gotten responses from the members of the Cabinet, but we haven't always gotten answers from them.

If our questions in Question Period are in some way being directed by the questions that we are getting through our offices from the public, then the members of the government certainly must know that the public is still looking for answers. They would like to have a clear, genuine, dedicated dialogue with the government to actually hope that they can lend an ear to government regarding this bill, so all the more reason to say, let's look at this for six months - hoist it - have a clear input from the public, and not just the case of smokescreen. Let's not say, we are going to listen to the public, but let's genuinely listen to the public.

[Page 4762]

I was surprised to realize, after the election, that there was a process around the province whereby we looked at the regulations regarding the Forests Act and the new regulations around the sustainability of the forest. I realized, after the election, that this had happened at a time when all MLAs, past and present, were busy with an election campaign, and yet, the public really didn't get as much input into those regulations as they might have otherwise. I think the public really would have liked to have done that. The forum in which it was conducted was a forum, not of a panel discussion or an open forum, but more or less a very controlled, speak to somebody, then move to the next table.

If we are going to have clear input, if we are going to hoist this bill for six months and want to have clear input from the public, then it has to be done in a way that the public actually feels they are genuinely being received, and the information they are putting forward is going to be listened to.

I am sure members opposite will feel that what their agenda is is certainly an agenda that is to the benefit of all Nova Scotians. I think that those members will genuinely stand up in this House and agree with that. The question has to be the direction that you take in order to do that. If this was wholeheartedly endorsed by the public, I think we would have gotten that reaction from the public. We would have seen that reaction in the media, and we would have seen that reaction in the lack of protest around this House.

AN HON. MEMBER: What happened to your 40,000?

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: To the honourable member who is saying, what happened to your 40,000, I wasn't the one who said there would be 40,000. (Interruptions) No, I don't think they did say that. It is a number that I heard, and I actually questioned the validity of that number, because I think we all could realize if people were realistically talking about that kind of a number, then we can see what the impact of that would have been in this city alone. There would have been people not getting near Province House, if that had been a realistic number. The member has to realize from what he has seen in the past few days that there was nobody predicting any particular number when those students showed up and if they were willing to get themselves here at their age, that definitely shows their initiative and that they have real problems with what this budget process may mean for their classrooms. There is no way to sidestep that issue. He says that is because of the NSTU. It is not because of the NSTU, it is because of the budget.

If the budget was better, then you are not going to have people show up whether they belong to the NSTU, the NSGEU or any other organization. What about parents who don't belong to any union? What was their incentive to come here? Nobody was twisting their arms. They have real concerns; their concern is around the needs of their children. That is what brought them here; no other organization put them here except their children.

[Page 4763]

The honourable member for Dartmouth South is saying that they created hysteria. He is saying we did, okay, well, Mr. Speaker, I think that is one of those spins that the government has tried to put on this whole debate and all the more reason for a six month hoist. In six months, there actually would be some clear ideas articulated so that the public could actually know how much of this was spin and how much of this was an actual agenda by the government. (Interruptions)

The honourable member makes a good point actually and I would like to go there. If the honourable member were to consider what was in the Tory platform, what we see in this budget wasn't it. I don't think he can blame us for creating hysteria, I think that he can blame his own Party for creating the hysteria because if the two documents don't jive, that is when people get nervous. Believe me, right now they are nervous.

So, Mr. Speaker, I am hoping and actually I think that my colleagues across the floor are picking up some of the things I am saying. They are picking up on the whole reason for the hoist, the whole reason for allowing a six month period of grace. (Interruptions)

I would like to be able to speak, but I can't quite hear over the member opposite. I know that he is paying attention because it has caused a reaction over there and so I think the next reaction I am hoping to get from members opposite is for them to agree to this hoist and to allow six months for the public to debate Bill No. 46 and I think that the honourable members seem to be concerned about their constituents. I think they would like to have input from their constituents and I can see no reason why they wouldn't want to take a six month period and examine this bill.

One of the things that I was surprised (Interruptions) Well, I am not sure, but the fact that the Tory Government was not going to spend over $1,000 without having that written off by a minister. In other words, expenditures over $1,000 had to have the okay of the minster and I see in the bill that that ability will go to a designate of the minister. Actually, the ability to sign for larger amounts, for multimillion dollar amounts, would go to a staffer. When they first came to power, it was no expenditure over $1,000 unless the minister said so. Very quickly, we are moving away from that, and I think public consultation in this regard is necessary. Here is one item that I think the public would like to have some input into. I think their constituents would like to have some input, and I think six months would allow for that input, Mr. Speaker.

For the members of my caucus, and I certainly don't try to speak for the members of the Liberal caucus, but I think some of them would agree that, if the members in the government articulate their views around, say, an issue such as this, Mr. Speaker, and then all of sudden we see a change in that direction, then we have to question why that is occurring. For something that seemed to be prudent, I would say, on their part, then the question I think the public would want to know is, what has changed in the Tory agenda that would allow for them to want to change direction, just with this one item? The Financial

[Page 4764]

Measures (2000) Bill has 25 items within that cause a change in legislation. If there is going to be some clear debate as to how this affects Nova Scotians, then all the more reason to allow for the hoist and have people have input into that. (Interruption)

The member for Dartmouth South says they are going to get accountability. (Interruption) Well, my honourable colleague says they are just going to get it. Right. I agree. So, Mr. Speaker, is it a question of differences in definition of accountability? Is it a question of differences in definition of what it is that Nova Scotians really want? I would say that what Nova Scotians thought they were getting and what they are getting in this bill are two different things.

If the member is concerned about accountability, then he should be willing to articulate to his constituents why there is a difference. I think that if he is willing to agree to allow more time - six months is time enough - that he can go back to his constituents and articulate his change in vision to them and see if they understand, then I think they would be more than happy to have that opportunity. (Interruption) No, but it might take you six months to explain it.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure you would agree, that the time for the public to have some input is now. I think the kind of input we have seen out in the street is not really the kind of input the government members would want to have. They would probably want a much clearer dialogue, so all the more reason to have six months in order to let all those factions have some say in this process. I know Mr. Speaker in his riding would have concerns, honourable members in any riding would have, and I know in my riding there are certainly those members of a variety of communities who would like to have input into this process, into this Financial Measures (2000) Bill and into the budget.

I can't believe the members on the government side haven't heard from their constituents in one way or another. I think I heard one member say one day that he had 300 e-mails that he had to respond to, so I know government members are getting a message from their constituents. I think that message from their constituents is the message they want us to deliver as well. They would like some time to analyse what it is this government intends to do.

This hoist amendment, if the members opposite would agree to it and support it, would provide for that time-frame that would give people the input that they want to have, changes that affect the Income Tax Act. There is no indexing for increases in income. This bill would allow government, actually, to prevent bracket creep and, in that way, people will be paying more in income tax then they would have otherwise if bracket creep was prevented. I know the government's plan is to give a tax break at some point in the future, but I think that Nova Scotians certainly don't intend to pay any more taxes. That was certainly, if I remember right, something that the Tory Government mentioned in their campaign promise, that there would

[Page 4765]

be no increase in taxes. Well, by not preventing bracket creep measures, then that is exactly what you are doing. You are causing an increase in taxes.

[9:15 p.m.]

Considering that tends to go exactly opposite to what the Tory platform said, this would be an item on which the public would like to have input, and is all the more reason to hoist this bill. I can't see that members opposite would argue that the public would want to have some input, actually challenge you, investigate and find out why, at this point, you seem to find the need to do something that is completely opposite from what you said in your Tory platform.

Mr. Speaker, the honourable members can't seem to fathom my political slant, considering my good nature, but as far as my family connections, the nature versus nurture controversy, it still goes on. Something that I would like to think that the government would take six months to examine is . . .

AN. HON. MEMBER: A throwback.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: There are no throwbacks in that regard. This bill indicates that all transactions must meet foreign debt reduction targets, even if that means forgoing cheaper money at the time. I think that for a government that has based a big part of its agenda on balancing the books, this would be one item that if they have the possibility of getting cheaper money, that they certainly don't want to legislate a clause that would prevent that, if the opportunity would arise. I would think that this would be something that would be an easy sell to the public, Mr. Speaker, and I would certainly assume that if the government is connected at all to the business community, that they, certainly, would want to look at this and have some input into this. I can't see that they would object to the six months' hoist on this bill so they could sit down and communicate to the government exactly their concerns about where the government is going with this piece of legislation.

I know that members opposite will consider that if all three Parties are locked in a room, they may head in three different directions when it comes to the vision for the province. I think that the concerns raised by the Opposition are only to try to connect with the members of the government that we, I think, may have a vision for where we want to get. It is the direction or the route that we take to get there that may be the only different thing. I would say to the member opposite that his comment about we want to use a credit card and they don't - I think he should realize it is their credit card that we are paying off right now. If people hadn't used it in the past, we wouldn't be in this position.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just remind the honourable member that he is speaking to the amendment.

[Page 4766]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: I appreciate your intervention, actually, because with maybe not so much experience as some of the more long-in-the-tooth colleagues that I have in my caucus, I tend to chase those rabbit tracks that I probably shouldn't. So I thank the Speaker for bringing me back.

I think it is important for all members of the House to think about the impact of our amendment on what happens here in the House, whether a six months' hoist of this piece of legislation would have a detrimental effect on the agenda of the government. I can't see that it actually would. I would think that, considering the reaction of the public so far, if they thought that there was a hope that the Tory Government would step back and take a look at this piece of legislation, that would be a sign that perhaps their whole vision was not as Draconian as the public first thought, and I think all the more reason to do that. I think Nova Scotians want some reassurance from this government that they are actually listening to the needs and the concerns of the public.

I think if they were to take a poll of priorities that the Nova Scotia public wants, I would think they would find that balancing the books over the long term is important to them, but those services that have been cut in the past, which it appears are going to be cut in the near future, the services are the most important thing. I think health care is the thing that has always come out in any of the polls that have been done by any of the Parties to show that people are concerned about what happens in regard to health and education, and those two things are taking a big cut in this budget.

If there was ever a moment to reflect, if ever there was a time that the Tory Government wanted to take advantage of an initiative by the Opposition, and if they want to blame it on the Opposition, that they will stop and take a look at the direction of this piece of legislation, then our motion that is before the House right now would be an avenue for the members of the government to do that. I encourage them to do that, to stop and try to address the concerns around accountability, take the six months that this amendment would offer and use it to the best advantage of Nova Scotians.

I know in my constituency, the farming community is not pleased about the direction that the government is going, and they want to have some input into where it is that this government is going, and what the long-term plan is for their sector. At some point Mr. Speaker, you may want to enlighten me, and I hope you can, but I would certainly like any of the members to consider the six months' hoist, because if ever there was a situation whereby somebody is attacking their power base - I think we consider that the Tories would have a stronghold in rural Nova Scotia, we consider those seats that we would have to work hard to get, and I can't for the life of me figure out why it is that they would seem to be attacking rural Nova Scotia in this budget, but they are - I can't think of a better opportunity for them to reflect on the impact of the budget on their power base.

[Page 4767]

I can't believe that the grass-roots organizations in constituencies all across this province that are Tory constituencies aren't getting in contact with their MLAs and saying, listen, what is it that you are doing here, because we don't like it. I would think there would be very few people who are in agreement with this agenda. To allow a six months' hoist would give their grass-roots organizations, the people in their communities and their constituencies an opportunity to address the concerns that are in this piece of legislation. I can't understand why they would not take this as an opportunity to do that.

Mr. Speaker, I think in six months, a lot of people would have an opportunity to have some say on this. I want to assure the members, not just the members in the Cabinet, but the backbenchers as well, that I would be willing to come to their ridings and help them explain to their constituents that there are ways they can improve this piece of legislation, and if they are willing to listen to their constituents, I am sure they are probably more hesitant to listen to me, but six months would probably give enough time, certainly for me to get around with them, and I think that in itself would be reason enough to consider the hoist.

I would say that it might be beneficial for all of them to show to their constituents they do not show any animosity to the Opposition, that they encourage input from the other Parties and they are willing to listen to people from all political stripes. I would take this six months' hoist to be a mechanism that would allow them to do that. (Interruptions)

I will try not to follow those rabbit tracks because I know that if I go down that trail too far, I am either going to run into a snare, which more than likely is going to be you, Mr. Speaker, and I certainly don't intend to try to verify the numbers that the member opposite is saying, when he talks about 600, that was not our number, but the number six, I would say six months is a number I think that all members could live with. It would allow for that input that I think the public has not had. I think the constituents in all ridings in this province, if we consider the Voluntary Planning process, felt that they had input into what the government was doing. I think the budget that we see makes them feel as though they were not listened to at all.

Mr. Speaker, actually, one of the key components of the report that was put forward by the Voluntary Planning process was to invest in education. So I think the honourable members opposite must realize why they are getting the reaction from the public that they are, because they would know that the Voluntary Planning process that the government members initiated to get input from the public, and one of the very key things they mentioned in that report was an increased investment in education, and right off the bat, the first thing they see is the government turning its back on the recommendations of the very organization it had go around the province seeking input. So at no point greater than now has the public felt they have to speak in a much louder voice than they ever have in the past; six months would allow that. (Interruptions)

[Page 4768]

The honourable member says, just my buddies. I am quite sure that the members of the Tory caucus must be getting information from their own members. There must be people in their constituencies who are Tories. There must be grass-roots organizations there giving them feedback into this budget process and I am positive that some of those people are not saying flattering things. So when the member says it is only our people, I know he is wrong. I know some Tories in my constituency and I have met a few from other constituencies and I was quite surprised by their reaction.

They were not pleased with the direction this government is going, Mr. Speaker. (Interruption) Right, they were angry and I think that when the member opposite tries to put this in purely political terms, that may be great if we think it is recorded in Hansard, but I think the message that gets back to his constituents, especially those who are his supporters who don't like this process that we are going through, then they must be even still more greatly annoyed to think that even their MLA at this time is not listening to them. So again I come back to all the more reason to have a reasoned debate on this issue. Take the six months, listen to your constituents, not just a response back and forth to me in the House because I do know that there are those Tory constituents who have a problem with this agenda and they are not just socialists or New Democrat supporters or just Liberal supporters, there are Tory supporters as well. (Interruptions)

[9:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, could you tell me how much time I have left?

MR. SPEAKER: You have until 9:53 p.m.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, a six months' hoist, and what is the reason? I would say that if the members opposite consider the events of the past few days, then they have to ask themselves what type of forum do we want to have a dialogue over this process? Do they want . . .

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Another six months at $1,000 a minute. They don't want that.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Well, I think some of your constituents want that, or they would prefer a . . .

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Oh, I don't think so. My constituents want to pay $1,000 a minute for another six months. That's what you just said.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 4769]

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. If the honourable member for Dartmouth South wishes to take issue with the six months' hoist, rather than continually interrupt the honourable member for Hants East on his one hour, perhaps he should follow the Rules of the House and get up and . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order. It is not a point of order.

The honourable member for Hants East, to the amendment, please.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I certainly am trying to speak to the amendment. I guess I would feel it pointless to speak to the amendment without talking as to why we even got to the amendment, why we even felt there was a need for the amendment. I would say that for all members of the House, that they must realize from their constituents that there is a problem with this process and that they are not pleased with what it is that has been happening in this House in the past while. I would say that that is the reason for the six months' hoist. If people are going to stand in the streets and scream at Province House in hope of getting the attention of members in the House, then that is not a very open dialogue.

So this is the reason for the amendment, so that the public can have time to have input into the agenda of the government. The question, Mr. Speaker, would have to be, would it do any good if they do that? Will the members and the government listen to what the public has to say? Is six months long enough? Is six months too long or is it too short?

If you are not going to move on anything that your constituents tell you, then I suppose five minutes is too long. I think the public has to know that they have an opportunity to give some of their concerns to the government, and six months is certainly not too short a time for them to do that. I would encourage the members opposite to consider that, because if they are not willing to consider that they have to ask themselves what part of this agenda do they not like. In getting this through in the next few days, six months to stop and reflect on it and allow their constituents some input into this agenda might be a far easier step than spending three years wearing it afterwards.

I think the members of the government should look at this as an opportunity for them to have an escape hatch to allow the public input, to show that they can listen and certainly hope the product that comes out of that listening will be something that the public would find to be more palatable. If it is not, then I think they would find in six months that the public would have more rage, to find that they sat down, tried to articulate their concerns but yet found that they had a government that was unwilling to listen.

I guess I can't understand, for the life of me, why it is that the government would not want some input to see if there isn't another direction they could go that would allow them to reach their objective, but do it through a different path that would somehow involve the public and that would have some buy-in from the public. I would think that could only work

[Page 4770]

to the government's advantage. There can be nothing wrong in having the public aware of where it is you are going and why you are taking the route you are taking, knowing they had some input into that direction. I think the public right now, as we have seen in the past few days, it doesn't have that. There are people concerned. There are even those who don't ordinarily speak out, Mr. Speaker. We are seeing them at Province House, and if those people are motivated enough to come here to speak to their MLA or to the government or to the Premier, people who ordinarily always just swallow it and take it, then that should send a clear message that it is time to listen to people.

I actually am hoping that when I am finished speaking, maybe one of the members opposite would stand and either speak to this amendment and explain to us why six months is too short or why it is too long, or why they feel that it is not necessary at all. I would like to have their input. If they could take six months and explain to their constituents why we have closed agricultural offices, why we have cut the Production Technology branch. These are the questions I am getting, Mr. Speaker, and I am not sure for me that six months would be long enough for me to answer them, because I don't have an answer for them. I think the obligation of the government would be to provide an answer. I can't see that the honourable member's numbers are accurate, which is all the more reason.

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about hoisting the Financial Measures (2000) Bill. So, if we are going to hoist the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, then that has to do with relating it to financial issues in this province.

Now, the honourable member talks about the deficit, I think he can still talk about the deficit. He can talk about the deficit for six months. He can find out from his constituents (Interruptions) he can talk to his constituents for six months. He can realize that some of the people who want to have input into this process are people who are not alien to him. They are people who would be supportive of him. I think that if he was to consider the questions that people in other constituencies have as to the changes the government has brought down in their budget, he might want to stop and think, these people deserve an explanation. Up to this point, they have not been able to get one.

Actually, Mr. Speaker, more importantly in this amendment is the notion that the public could help the government with their agenda. In other words, if trying to be prudent, to eliminate the deficit and try to do that within a certain time-frame is the agenda of the government, then perhaps the members would consider that there are those people out there who have ideas that they would still like to see the government hit its targets, that they could offer a different path for the government to get there and yet save some of the pain that is being inflicted by the path the government is taking now.

I can't for the life of me understand why the members opposite would not be willing to consider that. (Interruptions)

[Page 4771]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Is the honourable member finished?

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Is my time up?

MR. SPEAKER: No. You were just standing there not saying anything.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I hope you are referring to just the last few seconds and not my whole presentation, but I felt I was being interrupted. The honourable member for Dartmouth South is looking for ideas, he actually keeps saying that to me, why don't you put some ideas on the table. I think in my humble fashion, it is only appropriate that I tell him that I think that other people should have an opportunity to put ideas forward. I never tell anybody that what I say is the best idea, but I certainly know that there are people out there with good ideas and six months to allow those people to present their ideas and actually, it is not just the time period of presentation, but it is also a time for government to consider those ideas.

If they were to split the six months into two time-frames of three months for presentation and three months for the government to evaluate what the presentations are, then when the six months are up and we come back to this bill for second reading, then the government actually may have something to offer that would change the bill in a way that would be more palatable to Nova Scotians. If that isn't something that should concern the members opposite, I am not sure what should concern them more.

If trying to present something to the people that they can by into, if that is not part of this government's agenda, then it is a seriously flawed agenda. We can't say this is good for you because we think it is good for you. This has to be something that the public feels is good for them and so far, from the reaction that we have seen in this House, the public has not bought into this process. I just can't believe that the members opposite aren't willing to try to bring their constituents into this process, to offer them an avenue to have their input.

I suppose if you are not going to listen, six months or a year or two years or three years won't be good enough, but if you are going to represent the people, if you believe that you are of the people, for the people, by the people, why would six months seem to be too long a time-frame to get that input. To articulate that into a program that the public could buy into, that they would feel that they had input and I am certainly hoping that the member opposite, as he speaks across the floor, will take an opportunity to stand and get something on the record so that his constituents will know what he feels in this regard.

The process of developing legislation is not a process of tapping people on the head and saying, there, what we are doing is in your best interest and I am sure in the future you will see that we did this on your behalf. People are not children, especially the voting public and I think to give them an opportunity to have some input and to know that input was listened to is only fair. If we were to consider the events of the last few days, how could we ask

[Page 4772]

anything less of the Nova Scotia public than to give them a chance to have input. They have been screaming at the door to do it. We have locked them out of the gates on the street and they still want to have some say in this process. I can't believe, if this is a responsible government, if it is concerned about its people, then to listen to them, if they don't want to listen to us, Mr. Speaker; it would be in the best interests of the longevity of this government.

[9:45 p.m.]

I can assure the members opposite that people are regretting putting this government in power. If they think that that is purely political bunk from the Opposition, then they may just say that but they must be getting some message from their constituents that would tell them that there is certainly some solid information in the information that I am giving them. If they take it as nothing else, they can take this as a heads up for what is coming down the pipe to them in the future if they don't stop and listen to their constituents in regard to what they want to force on Nova Scotians.

I see some members back there nodding their heads. So if they are agreeing at all with what I am saying, and I know that the input, if there is input from their constituents, I know there has been, Mr. Speaker, then what better way to offer them an avenue to present their point, to show that their MLAs are willing to listen, to show that the government is willing to make some changes that would incorporate the views of their constituents, to show them that this agenda is a Nova Scotia agenda, that it is not an agenda driven from outside this province. Actually, that is what Nova Scotians think. They think this is a Mike Harris agenda. They have seen it in other places. They did not vote for it and they would like to know that it is not going to go the direction that the government wants to take it.

In summing up, Mr. Speaker, I can only advocate for my constituents and hope that the members of the government are listening, that six months is not out of the way for them to hoist this piece of legislation. If the members opposite are listening at all, and I certainly would hope they are - I see one member shaking his head saying, no; he must have listened to my statement, at least - that this can only work to the benefit of the Tory Government.

Before I close, I move that the House now adjourn and meet on another day.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Order, please. I am advised that the motion is out of order because we have to adjourn debate and go on to the orders of the day for the next day before we move adjournment. So the motion is out of order.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 4773]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 12:00 p.m. and we will sit until 10:00 p.m. Following the daily routine, we will have Question Period and then we will go into four hours of Supply. We will follow up with the resumption of the debate of Bill No. 46. I so move.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There has been a motion to adjourn.

A recorded vote is being called for.

Ring the bells. Call in the members.

[9:50 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The motion is on the hours of the House for tomorrow, which is from 12:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.

Would the Clerk please call the roll.

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[10:48 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Christie Mr. Corbett

Mr. Baker Mr. Deveaux

Mr.Russell Mr. Dexter

Mr. LeBlanc Mr. Gaudet

Mr. Muir Mr. MacKinnon

Miss Purves

Mr. Fage

Mr. Balser

Mr. Parent

Ms. McGrath

Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Olive

Mr. Rodney MacDonald

Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Taylor

Mr. Dooks

[Page 4774]

Mr. Langille

Mr. Morse

Mr. Hendsbee

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Carey

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Hurlburt

THE CLERK: For, 27; Against, 5.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried in the affirmative.

The House will now rise to sit again tomorrow at 12:00 noon.

We stand adjourned.

[The House rose at 10:50 p.m.]