Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Mon., Nov. 6, 2000

First Session

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS 8137
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ. - Eastern Passage: High School - Need, Mr. K. Deveaux 8137
Justice - Lunenburg Correction Centre: Closure - Cease, Mr. D. Downe 8138
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3076, Culture - Multicultural Assoc. of N.S.: Commitment -
Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8139
Vote - Affirmative 8139
Res. 3077, Tourism - Tourism Ind. Assoc. of N.S.: Conference/
Trade Show - Organizers Thank, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8139
Vote - Affirmative 8140
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 75, Law Reform (2000) Act, Hon. M. Baker 8140
No. 76, Motor Vehicle Act, Hon. M. Baker 8140
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3078, Health - Hants North Clinic Closure: Patients - Min. Explain,
Mr. John MacDonell 8140
Res. 3079, Agric. - Farm Loan Bd.: Sproule, Donald - Min. Reinstate,
Mr. D. Downe 8141
Res. 3080, Culture - Multicultural Assoc. of N.S.: Evans, Doris -
Award Congrats., Mr. D. Hendsbee 8142
Vote - Affirmative 8142
Res. 3081, Fin. - HST: Windfall - Return, Mr. J. Holm 8143
Res. 3082, Health - Care: Clinical Footprint - Min. Show, Dr. J. Smith 8143
Res. 3083, Econ. Dev. - Home Depot (Dartmouth): Opening -
Congrats., Mr. T. Olive 8144
Vote - Affirmative 8145
Res. 3084, Exco - State of the Prov. Add.: Premier -
Remarks Withdraw, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8145
Res. 3085, Econ. Dev. - Ind. Bd. of Trade: Excellence in Business
Awards - Recipients Congrats., Mr. Manning MacDonald 8146
Vote - Affirmative 8146
Res. 3086, Culture - Celtic Colours: Importance - Recognize,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8146
Vote - Affirmative 8147
Res. 3087, Educ. - Conrad, Mary: Sch. Bd. - Service Congrats.,
Mr. K. Deveaux 8147
Vote - Affirmative 8148
Res. 3088, Culture - Men of the Deeps: Anniv. (35th) - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Wilson 8148
Vote - Affirmative 8148
Res. 3089, Health - Liberals (Cdn.): Medicare - Actions Judge,
Mr. D. Morse 8149
Res. 3090, Boudreau, Bernard: Cabinet - Represent, Mr. D. Dexter 8149
Res. 3091, C.B. Reg. Library - Library Net Best Practices (2000)
Award: Staff - Congrats., Mr. B. Boudreau 8150
Vote - Affirmative 8151
Res. 3092, Environ. - Hfx. Reg. Airport Auth./Forrest, Derek:
Falconry Prog. - Implementation, Mr. B. Taylor 8151
Vote - Affirmative 8151
Res. 3093, Liberals (Cdn.): Cape Bretoners - Attitude,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 8152
Res. 3094, Educ. - School Const.: Sackville-Beaver Bank (MLA) -
Opposition Admit, Mr. R. MacKinnon 8152
Res. 3095, Econ. Dev. - C.B. East (MLA): Liberal Party (Cdn.) -
Faith Express, Mr. F. Chipman 8153
Res. 3096, Cecchetto, Michael - Prospect Rd.: Citizens -
Generosity Thanks, Mr. W. Estabrooks 8153
Vote - Affirmative 8154
Res. 3097, Econ. Dev. - Gov't. (N.S.): 21st Century - Enter,
Mr. K. MacAskill 8154
Res. 3098, Justice - Correctional Serv. of Can.: Transition House
(Windsor/Young Sts.) - Site Selection, Mr. H. Epstein 8155
Res. 3099, Econ. Dev. - Intl. New Media Festival: Awards -
Recipients Congrats., Mr. Manning MacDonald 8156
Vote - Affirmative 8156
Res. 3100, Gov't. (N.S.) - Long Service Awards: Recipients -
Congrats., Hon. R. Russell 8156
Vote - Affirmative 8157
Res. 3101, Health - Liberal (Cdn.) Plan: Medicare - Betrayal Regret,
Mr. J. Pye 8157
Res. 3102, Fin. - Fuel Rebate: Priorities - Review, Mr. D. Downe 8158
Res. 3103, Sports - Baseball: Truro Stella Jones Bearcats -
Championship Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 8159
Vote - Affirmative 8159
Res. 3104, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty (17/08/98 on): Deficit -
Recognize, Mr. J. Holm 8159
Res. 3105, Gov't. (N.S.) - Studies: Spending - Cease, Mr. D. Wilson 8160
Res. 3106, Shubenacadie Lions Club - Teddy Bears: RCMP -
Donation Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 8161
Vote - Affirmative 8161
Res. 3107, Commun. Serv. - Family Violence Prevention: Prog. -
Abandonment Reconsider, Dr. J. Smith 8162
Res. 3108, Metro Food Bank - CD: Participants - Thanks Extend,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8162
Vote - Affirmative 8163
Res. 3109, Educ. - Career Day: C.B. Health Care Complex/C.B.-Victoria
Reg. Sch. Bd. - Organizers Congrats., Mr. K. MacAskill 8163
Res. 3110, Bras d'Or (HMCS) - Sinking: Anniv. (60th) - Recognize,
Mr. K. Deveaux 8164
Vote - Affirmative 8164
Res. 3111, Gov't. (N.S.) - Taxpayers: Apologies - Offer,
Mr. B. Boudreau 8165
Res. 3112, Nat. Res.: Beaches Act - Review, Mr. W. Estabrooks 8165
Res. 3113, Tobin, Brian - N.S.: Visit - Notify, Mr. Robert Chisholm 8166
Res. 3114, Nat. Res. - T. fuscum: Findings - File, Mr. H. Epstein 8166
Res. 3115, Health - Flu Shots: Nova Scotians - Encourage, Mr. D. Dexter 8167
Vote - Affirmative 8168
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 70, Sydney Steel Corporation Sale Act 8168
Mr. Robert Chisholm 8168
Adjournment of debate moved
Vote - Negative 8178
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8178
Mr. F. Corbett 8195
Mr. P. MacEwan 8207
Mr. John MacDonell 8226
Mr. B. Boudreau 8228
Adjourned debate 8233
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Nov. 7th at 12:00 p.m. 8233

[Page 8137]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

4:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Kevin Deveaux, Mr. David Wilson

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the honourable member for Pictou West on an introduction.

MRS. MURIEL BAILLIE: Mr. Speaker, today I feel very honoured to introduce a very important couple in my life, my oldest son, Ray Baillie and his wife, Fiona, from River John. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: 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 on behalf of the residents of Eastern Passage reading, "According to the 'Evaluation of High Schools' report produced by the Department of Education in May, 2000, Cole Harbour District (High School) is the only school whose projected enrollment exceeds the 'theoretical building maximum'. Given the fact that over 50% of that school's population comes from Eastern Passage and the inability, for logistical reasons, to transfer these students to another school with less capacity pressures, it is our opinion that the only alternative is to build a high school in our community." I have affixed my name.

8137

[Page 8138]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition.

"To: The Honourable Michael Baker, Minister of Justice, Province of Nova Scotia

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia has proposed and announced the closure of the Lunenburg Correctional Centre, scheduled for August 1, 2001 -

We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia as follows:

That the Lunenburg Correction Centre remain open because

it provides an incarceration facility for two police departments and five RCMP detachments

it is beneficial to the rehabilitation progress of inmates to remain in their community

it provides volunteer work programs beneficial to Lunenburg County

its staff provide an Alcohol/Drug Outreach Program to youth in schools

it represents about $850,000 in the local economy and provides 18 jobs

Further, closure of the facility would

increase cost of legal council

increase transportation costs of inmates to and from court

displace staff and families"

Mr. Speaker, there are 500 signatures bringing the total of some, I believe, over 2,000 signatures that have been presented on this issue.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

[Page 8139]

RESOLUTION NO. 3076

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

Whereas the Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia celebrated its Silver Anniversary this past weekend; and

Whereas in it first 25 years, MANS has grown to become a leader in the advocacy and promotion of equality and cultural understanding through its role as educator, policy developer, advisor for government, business and the community, and of course as host for the last 15 years of its annual Multicultural Festival; and

Whereas on its anniversary, MANS presented awards to honour the service of esteemed members celebrating 10, 15, 20, and 25 years of service to the association, as well as four honoured posthumously, who have contributed to the mission of the association;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the association for its long-term commitment to our province and its mission which includes the promotion of equality and creation of a sense of belonging and respect for all cultures.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 3077

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

Whereas the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia is hosting the 23rd annual Tourism Conference and Trade Show at the Westin Nova Scotia in Halifax today and tomorrow; and

[Page 8140]

Whereas this annual conference attracts hundreds of operators and other industry professionals with this year's theme focussed on ensuring the future of this vital industry; and

Whereas strong, innovative partnerships have established the tourism sector as a strong presence in the provincial economy with plenty of opportunities to build on the industry's success;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in thanking the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia for organizing this informative and entertaining event.

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 75 - Entitled an Act to comply with Certain Court Decisions and to Modernize and Reform Laws in the Province. (Hon. Michael Baker)

Bill No. 76 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised States, 1989. The Motor Vehicle Act. (Hon. Michael Baker)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be read a second time on a future day.

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3078

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

[Page 8141]

Whereas the Hants North Clinic in Noel will be closing on November 17th, due to the resignation of its lone doctor, Dr. Peter Rothfels; and

Whereas no new doctor has been found for area residents, and it does not appear to be a priority for the Department of Health; and

Whereas many elderly residents will now be forced to travel to Truro, Elmsdale, Halifax, as the Kennetcook Clinic is not taking new patients;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health explain to the people who are serviced by the Hants North Clinic why their health concerns and servicing is not a priority of the Department of Health.

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3079

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

Whereas in the past year the Minister of Agriculture has dropped Ted Uffeing from the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board, despite his success; and

Whereas the member for Kings West took it upon himself to reject Donald Sproule, despite his high recommendation from the Minister and Deputy Minister of Agriculture; and

Whereas after the uprising in the farm community over the dismissal of Mr. Ted Uffeing, it is obvious the minister did not want to be seen as dropping the highly competent Donald Sproule;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Agriculture do the honourable thing and reinstate Donald Sproule to the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board.

[Page 8142]

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 Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 3080

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

Whereas included in the festivities to celebrate the 25th Silver Anniversary of the Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia this past weekend was the presentation of awards by the Lieutenant Governor to long-serving members of the association; and

Whereas one recipient of the 10 year service award was Doris Evans, a Cherry Brook resident within the constituency of Preston and a long-time community volunteer; and

Whereas Doris Evans came to the board of MANS in 1988 as a representative of the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Doris Evans who, as was noted by MANS at the ceremony, "in her quiet and humble way (has) supported MANS and multiculturalism in Nova Scotia throughout her service on the Board and to this day".

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.

[Page 8143]

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 3081

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

Whereas the Finance Minister rejected calls to give back his HST windfall from higher fuel costs; and

Whereas the Finance Minister suggested that people would just spend the money on other items, like clothing, food or prescription drugs; and

Whereas this Conservative Government campaigned in 1999 with the declaration that they would not increase government revenue because that amounted to a tax hike;

Therefore be it resolved that the Finance Minister should respect Nova Scotians enough to give back his windfall from his much higher gasoline and heating fuel prices.

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.

[4:15 p.m.]

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3082

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

Whereas a recent Truro Daily News editorial said, " . . . ask anyone in the healthcare field and they won't have a clue . . . what the clinical footprint is"; and

[Page 8144]

Whereas Nova Scotians realize that this Tory Government is hiding behind their mysterious footprint and using it as an excuse to keep important health care decisions a secret; and

Whereas health care providers are worried that this footprint is leading the health care system down a dangerous path;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health take his foot out of his mouth long enough to show us his clinical footprint so that Nova Scotians can finally understand why their health care system has been cut to the bone.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3083

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

Whereas Home Depot, one of Canada's leading retailers in their field, last week opened a new location in Dartmouth; and

Whereas almost 165 Nova Scotians will be employed at the 60 Baker Drive Home Depot; and

Whereas this 165 includes approximately 20 employees who, because of the opening of the Home Depot in Dartmouth, were able to return to Nova Scotia to full employment;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the President, Annette Verschuren, the staff and management, upon the opening of their Dartmouth location and wish them well as they contribute to the revitalization of Dartmouth.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 8145]

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. 3084

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

Whereas a Dalhousie University research team headed by Dr. Lynn MacIntyre has been studying child hunger in Canada for several years; and

Whereas their findings summarized in the Canadian Medical Association's Journal states, "Children at risk for hunger are most likely to reside with single mothers with very low incomes, usually derived from social assistance or welfare."; and

Whereas they also found that many of these parents deprive themselves of food so they could feed their children instead;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier retract the mean-spirited remarks he made at a $50 per person lunch that left the impression that those who receive assistance are the ones who are leading the good life in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

[Page 8146]

RESOLUTION NO. 3085

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 Industrial Board of Trade issued its 2000 Excellence in Business Awards to eight local companies; and

Whereas this year's winners include EDS Canada Inc., Point of View Suites, Forest Insight Ltd., Tesma Precision Finished Components, Budderham Well Drilling, Scotia Chrysler Inc., Virtual Media Productions Ltd. and Harbax Home Hardware of Glace Bay; and

Whereas more than 43 nominations were received for the board's 12th annual awards presentation;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize and congratulate all award winners and wish them continued success in all future endeavours.

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 Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 3086

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

Whereas Cape Breton Island recently hosted the 4th annual Celtic Colours International Festival featuring more than 30 shows in locations throughout the Island; and

Whereas this festival is an important cultural and tourism resource for the province that is helping to extend the tourism season; and

[Page 8147]

Whereas this outstanding annual event has been chosen as the top Canadian event for 2001 by the American Bus Association;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the festival's importance and the contributions of the many talented Nova Scotians and international musicians who perform at this unique cultural and tourism event.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 3087

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

Whereas Mary Conrad has been a long-time resident of Eastern Passage who has seen her children go through the school system in that community; and

Whereas Mary Conrad has contributed greatly to the education of generations of children in Eastern Passage as a school secretary for a number of area schools, most recently Oceanview Elementary School; and

Whereas Mary started working for the former Halifax County School Board in 1975 at Tallahassee Elementary School;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates Mary Conrad for 25 years of service to the school board and to the children of Eastern Passage, Cow Bay and Shearwater.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 8148]

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 East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3088

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

Whereas on Saturday, November 4, 2000, the Men of the Deeps were honoured at a gala event in Glace Bay celebrating their 35th Anniversary; and

Whereas since 1966 this 28 member choir of coal miners who have gained national and international recognition remains a symbol of pride for Cape Breton Island; and

Whereas the Men of the Deeps were the recipients of an honorary degree from the University College of Cape Breton and also received a star in the Savoy Theatre's Wall of Stars in recognition of their contribution to Cape Breton culture;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their congratulations to the members of the Men of the Deeps on their 35th Anniversary and recognize them as wonderful Cape Breton ambassadors.

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.

[Page 8149]

The honourable member for Kings South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3089

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 federal Liberal Government has cut over $1 billion of health and education transfers - a devastating amount - from Nova Scotia alone since coming to power in 1993; and

Whereas the number one concern of Canadians is the sustainability of our health care system, so ravaged by this federal Liberal Government; and

Whereas the federal Liberal Government has cut their contribution to funding Medicare to $1.00 for every $7.00 of provincial from the original 50/50 cost-sharing agreement;

Therefore be it resolved that this House remind Canadians to judge the federal Liberal Government in this election campaign on their all-out assault on the sustainability of Medicare.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 3090

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

Whereas on November 18th, 1996, Bernie Boudreau made front page news when he declared health care is not ailing and announced that the Liberal Government had improved Nova Scotians' health care; and

[Page 8150]

Whereas Bernie Boudreau went further, describing complaints as some anecdote by my next door neighbour's second cousin's mother; and

Whereas Nova Scotia health care spending had increased only 3.3 per cent in five years when the future senator made his sensitive remarks;

Therefore be it resolved that my next door neighbour's cousin's mother and most other Nova Scotians have learned very well the dismal representation that Bernie Boudreau and the Liberals provide whenever they get in Cabinet.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 3091

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

Whereas the Cape Breton Regional Library has won a national award for an on-line historical web site; and

Whereas the Cape Breton Regional Library is one of six public libraries in Canada to receive the Library Net Best Practices 2000 award for Canadian on-line content; and

Whereas the Cape Breton Regional Library has 13 branches, two bookmobiles and employs more than 65 people;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the management, staff and members of the Cape Breton Regional Library and wish them continued success in all future projects.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 8151]

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. 3092

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

Whereas The Airports Council International-North America has recognized the Halifax International Airport Authority for an environmental achievement award for excellence in bird and wildlife control; and

Whereas the control would not be possible without the falconry program operated by Derek Forrest who uses falcons and hawks to keep birds away from airplanes as they approach and take off from the Halifax International; and

Whereas since the falconry program first became operational in July 1999, reported incidents of birds hitting aircraft have dropped about 60 per cent;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature, through this resolution, thank both the Halifax International Airport Authority and Derek Forrest for implementing such a unique program, believed to be the only one of its kind in the world to make airline travel more safe.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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.

[Page 8152]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 3093

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

Whereas Cape Bretoners sat in the Cabinets of Liberal Prime Ministers Louis St. Laurent, Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau; and

Whereas after destroying more than 5,000 Devco jobs, the Chretien Liberals are not willing to risk running the potential Cabinet Minister in Cape Breton; and

Whereas Cape Breton Liberals have therefore been left on the sidelines watching their Party put all its efforts into electing a lone Liberal in Dartmouth;

Therefore be it resolved that this House regrets this latest evidence that the Chretien Liberals believe that Cape Bretoners should be neither seen nor heard in Ottawa.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3094

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

Whereas during the late show debate last Wednesday, the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank stated that there was no request for a new school to replace the Sackville Heights Elementary School; and

[Page 8153]

Whereas that particular school was totally inadequate to provide education programs to meet the needs of the students in the 21st Century; and

Whereas recognizing that the school was inadequate, the previous government in consultation with the school board and the community noted that a new school was needed and proceeded to have the school built;

Therefore be it resolved that the honourable member come clean and admit to his constituents in the Sackville Heights community that he was opposed to the construction of a new school to serve the children in his community.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3095

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

Whereas the member for Cape Breton East in a November 3rd resolution questioned the performance of the Nova Scotia economy as stated by the member for Annapolis; and

Whereas the information was gleaned from a recent federal Human Resources Development Canada report; and

Whereas it would appear that the member for Cape Breton East doubts the facts of his federal comrades and of their chief commandant and opinions shared by millions of other Canadians;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Cape Breton East don his detective's hat and find out more about the missing $1 billion that the Human Resources Department's job-creation fund can't find, and maybe he will find the missing piece of his puzzle and cease to be a doubting Dave.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3096

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

[Page 8154]

Whereas Michael Cecchetto is a fantastic young man who each day courageously faces the many challenges in his young life; and

Whereas community spirit is alive and well along the Prospect Road; and

Whereas community volunteers have stepped forward to assist in a fund-raising drive to assist Michael with his educational needs by raising over $10,000;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its thanks and congratulations to the citizens of the Prospect Road for their generosity, with best wishes for a great future for an outstanding young man, Michael Cecchetto.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 3097

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 annual Baddeck International New Media Festival was held last month and drew over 400 participants; and

Whereas the size of this festival is growing each year and showcases Cape Breton's contribution to this exciting industry; and

Whereas this Tory Government abandoned new media businesses by cutting the new media tax credit proposed by the previous Liberal Government;

Therefore be it resolved that this government had better drag itself into the 21st Century and lead instead of follow in the new economy, which was celebrated during the Baddeck International New Media Festival.

[Page 8155]

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 3098

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

Whereas the Correctional Service of Canada has proposed the placement of a new transition house for parolees at the corner of Windsor and Young Streets in Halifax; and

Whereas in choosing this site for recommendation, the CSC presented only one option rather than a range of possible sites; and

Whereas local area residents overwhelmingly believe that in being consulted about one preferred site, they are, in fact, being faced with a fait accompli;

[4:30 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that the Correctional Service of Canada engage in a new site- selection process that is more open, transparent and that generates a shortlist of at least three sites for detailed examination.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Cape Breton South.

[Page 8156]

RESOLUTION NO. 3099

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

Whereas two Sydney companies received awards at the International News Media Festival in Baddeck; and

Whereas Virtual Media Productions Inc. took home the Atlantic New Media Award for Entrepreneurship while MediaSpark IT Solutions Inc. received the Atlantic New Media Award for content; and

Whereas 30 awards were handed out for excellence in new media at this year's festival showcasing the scope and richness of the new media sector both nationally and internationally;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Shawn Green and Sean Coyle of Virtual Media Productions Inc. and Wanda Jerrett of MediaSpark IT Solutions Inc. and wish them continued success in all their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 3100

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

Whereas today the Nova Scotia Government held the 34th annual Long Service Award Ceremony to honour civil servants who have achieved 25 years of service; and

[Page 8157]

Whereas a total of 238 provincial employees, the largest group ever, celebrated this career milestone among friends, family and co-workers; and

Whereas this group of recipients represents the diverse range of services provided in the provincial Civil Service, from inspectors to administrative support staff to social workers to computer experts to policy analysts and to lawyers;

Therefore be it resolved that the House extend its congratulations to the men and women honoured today for their years of service to Nova Scotians.

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 Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3101

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

Whereas despite their record as a government that did the most damage to Canadians' health care, the Liberal campaign claims that they should be chosen as the protectors of Medicare; and

Whereas the surge of new health care costs is coming in the form of a greater overall use of prescription drugs and a shift toward newer, more expensive drug treatment; and

Whereas the Liberal star, Brian Tobin, has made it clear that the Chretien Government refuses to cover those prescription drug costs through Medicare;

Therefore be it resolved that this House regrets the betrayal of Medicare that is evident in the federal Liberal plan to abandon more and more of Nova Scotia's health care costs, such as prescription drugs, to the American-style second tier of private health care.

[Page 8158]

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3102

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

Whereas despite having $3.25 million left over from their own failed Home Fuel Rebate Program in February, this Tory Government refuses to give any relief from the high price of heating fuel; and

Whereas $3.4 million in tax breaks to bar owners mean that low-income Nova Scotians will be forced to go to the local tavern for a hot toddy to keep warm this winter; and

Whereas any rebate for heating fuel must be given now, so that seniors and low-income families can start to plan on how they will heat their homes in the coming months;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government review their priorities and commit to helping Nova Scotians who need help with fuel costs, instead of leaving seniors and low- income families out in the cold.

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 Health.

[Page 8159]

RESOLUTION NO. 3103

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

Whereas the Stella Jones Bearcats is an old-timers baseball team; and

Whereas this Bearcat team won the Canadian Federation Old-timers Baseball Championship B Division; and

Whereas teams from across Canada participated in this four-day tournament held in Prince Edward Island;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Truro Stella Jones Bearcats Old-timers Baseball Team on winning a Canadian championship and wish it continued success in future competitions.

Mr. Speaker, just before I would ask for waiver, I want the honourable members of the House to know that one of the stalwarts of that team was a former member of the Londonderry Ironclads, the honourable member for Colchester North. (Applause)

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 3104

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

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

[Page 8160]

Whereas since August 17th, this Tory Government's first full day in office, 2,682 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 2,682 children born into poverty under this Tory Regime.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3105

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

Whereas this Tory Government spent $153,000 on a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers to study the ways of running the liquor business; and

Whereas this same Tory Government threw away $40,000 to find out what everyone already knew, that the blue route was better than the red route; and

Whereas the government also wasted $89,000 on a KPMG study to review the P3 process and gave $28,000 to consultants to study Highway No. 101;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government stop spending oodles of money on studies that ask questions they already know the answers to and start implementing the plan that the people of this province elected them on.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8161]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader in the House of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3106

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

Whereas RCMP officers are often the first respondents at scenes of tragedies; and

Whereas it has been shown that when children are at the scene that a teddy bear is often a great comfort to a traumatized child; and

Whereas Shubenacadie Lions Club recently donated 36 teddy bears to the RCMP detachment in Enfield;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Shubenacadie Lions for their thoughtfulness and compassion.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[Page 8162]

RESOLUTION NO. 3107

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

Whereas on April 11, 2000, this Tory Government cut the Family Violence Prevention Initiative; and

Whereas this program trained thousands of professionals, especially government workers, nurses and teachers to identify signs of abuse and proper intervention techniques; and

Whereas the Family Violence Prevention Initiative worked with several government departments such as Health, Justice and Community Services to offer a coordinated approach to dealing with family violence;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services reconsider his abandonment of the Family Violence Prevention Initiative and reinstate this program as a first step in implementing the recommendations of his department's recent case review.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 3108

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

Whereas the Metro Food Bank Society, in its efforts to keep pace with the ever-growing numbers of families unable to put food on their tables, must continuously fund raise; and

Whereas the Metro Food Bank has launched a CD entitled Pass It On, with proceeds from sales going directly toward hunger relief efforts; and

[Page 8163]

Whereas this worthy project is the result of the generous participation of many talented Atlantic musicians and technicians, too numerous to name;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend our sincere thanks to those who donated their valuable time and their considerable talent to a project that will benefit those who are less fortunate.

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 Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 3109

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

Whereas on Saturday more than 200 Grades 11 and 12 students and guidance counsellors from schools in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board participated in Career Day; and

Whereas in February, the Cape Breton Regional Health Care Complex joined forces with the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board; and

Whereas Career Day consisted of 12 displays from different health care sectors and three break-out rooms, featuring sessions on medicine, nursing and diagnostic imaging;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the organizers and participants and applaud students' interest in the health care profession, after having witnessed this Tory Government's dismantling of health care.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8164]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 3110

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

Whereas on October 19, 1940, the HMCS Bras d'Or went missing while on convoy duty in the Atlantic Ocean, no sailors from the vessel were ever found and all were declared lost at sea; and

Whereas among the crew members was stoker, Guy Denis Pettipas, whose wife Mary and daughter, Edith never forgot his heroic efforts on behalf of his country; and

Whereas the Father John Mills Council of the Knights of Columbus recognized the 60th Anniversary of the sinking of the HMCS Bras d'Or at a ceremony at the St. Andrew's Cemetery in Eastern Passage on October 20, 2000;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the 60th Anniversary of the sinking of the HMCS Bras d'Or and the valiant crew that went down with the ship, fighting for our freedom, and the efforts of the Father John Mills Council to keep their memory alive.

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 Cape Breton The Lakes.

[Page 8165]

RESOLUTION NO. 3111

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

Whereas on July 9, 1999, the Leader of the Tory Party wrote and signed a promise to the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities; and

Whereas the Premier promised not to download on municipalities, a promise that is also on Page 21 of the Tory blue book; and

Whereas the Premier has broken this promise by planning to download the $12 million cost of property assessments, which will mean higher taxes for taxpayers;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government apologize to Nova Scotia taxpayers for raising taxes, because the Premier's promises are not worth the paper they are written on.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3112

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

Whereas Nova Scotia is recognized as Canada's Ocean Playground; and

Whereas access to public beaches is a prerequisite in order for visitors and Nova Scotians to enjoy this internationally-appreciated playground; and

Whereas the Department of Natural Resources' Integrated Resource Management Plan does not address the issue of more publicly-protected beaches in our province;

[Page 8166]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Natural Resources initiate a review of the Beaches Act as a vital part of his department's integrated resource management plan.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 3113

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

Whereas former Newfoundland Premier and unelected Cabinet Minister Brian Tobin came to Dartmouth on November 5th to be a local representative for the Liberals; and

Whereas Brian Tobin dismissed the Liberals' 1997 broken promise of a national Pharmacare Program with the excuse that this was not the time for new health care efforts; and

Whereas Brian Tobin failed to explain why Pharmacare was the Liberals' number one election promise of 1997, if it was not the right time for such an initiative;

Therefore be it resolved that should Brian Tobin darken these shores again, he should do Nova Scotians the favour of letting them know in advance which of the year 2000 Liberal promises won't be kept either.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 3114

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

[Page 8167]

Whereas the Department of Natural Resources has worked with the federal agency, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, to study a suspected infestation at Point Pleasant Park by a European beetle, T. fuscum; and

Whereas a federal court judge has issued an injunction to halt the cutting of trees in Point Pleasant Park because the CFIA has not presented any evidence of the presence of T. fuscum in the park or, if present, that it is a threat to commercial forestry; and

Whereas the core issues are matters of science, where full openness of research ought to be automatic;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Natural Resources file with this House all scientific findings of his officials regarding T. fuscum in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

[4:45 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 3115

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

Whereas it is the annual flu shot season; and

Whereas a flu shot helps prevent illness not only for seniors but for everyone who gets a shot; and

Whereas flu shots reduce the number of days of employment lost to illness and further reduces the strain on over-burdened emergency rooms;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House encourage all Nova Scotians to get a flu shot.

[Page 8168]

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 70.

Bill No. 70 - Sydney Steel Corporation Sale Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand and speak for a little while on Bill No. 70, an Act Respecting the Sale of the Assets of Sydney Steel Corporation. As I was preparing to review this bill I took the opportunity to go back a little bit in history and reviewed the Reports of the Auditor General for March 31, 1980, March 31, 1982, and March 31, 1986. What I want to try to do in my remarks is to put the politicization of Sydney Steel and the lives of workers in Sydney in some context.

It seems as though - I think we saw it in the 1999 election - Sysco has become nothing more or nothing less than a political football that has been kicked around unmercifully by Liberal and Tory Governments since its inception. While that might be fun for those people kicking the ball around, it is not much fun for the workers who have dedicated their lives and the lives of their families to the functioning and operation of that facility in the heart of Cape

[Page 8169]

Breton. They are the ones who have been most adversely affected, whose reputations have been besmirched by this politicization of Sydney Steel/Sysco. At some point over the next little while, I am going to speak in some detail about that history but I want to pay attention for a few moments, if I may, to the actual bill that is before us.

The bill that is before us pertains to or encompasses - for all intents and purposes - an agreement of sale reached between the Province of Nova Scotia and the company by the name of Duferco Participations Holding Ltd. It is an agreement that was dated June 21, 2000. Now understand if you will that this piece of legislation is about a document that was signed between the Province of Nova Scotia and the principals of Duferco Participations Holding Ltd. back in June 2000. We are now at November 6, 2000, Mr. Speaker. We have not seen hide nor hair of the agreement that this bill actually refers to.

Why would we be asked, Mr. Speaker, by this government through Bill No. 70 to approve an agreement we have not seen? Does that make any sense to you? It doesn't make any sense to me. We may, if we were to see the agreement and have the opportunity to debate it, to discuss it, to evaluate it, to review it, to consult with others that are more learned of what the agreement actually says, then undoubtedly be in a position to make a constructive, reasonable decision with respect to whether Yea or Nay on this particular piece of legislation. But, how can members of this caucus, members of the caucus over, even members back in the far reaches of the government caucus, be expected to make a mature, constructive decision on an agreement they have not seen?

Maybe some members in the backbenches there have seen it. I have my doubts because they seem to be even the last to know anything about what goes on in this place, even after we learn about various things. But, that is a serious concern I have, right on the get-go about this piece of legislation. It is asking us to approve an agreement that was done back in June and is not even giving us the respect, not even giving us the courtesy, Mr. Speaker, of seeing that agreement and having an opportunity to evaluate the particulars of it before we get to go through it. Why is that important? Well, I mean, just simply, on a matter of common decency, a matter of good manners, a matter of respect for the position of a Member of the Legislative Assembly, whether that be a member of the government caucus or Opposition caucuses. Surely no government would ask members of the Legislature to agree to something that they have not seen, especially when the legislation in this case, Bill No. 70, places this bill and the agreement that I referred to above any other Acts of this Legislature, Mr. Speaker.

If I may just for illustration, let me say that it refers to in here where there is a conflict between this bill and any other bill, this bill prevails. Between Bill No. 70 and any other Act of the Legislature, this bill prevails. The interesting little twist is, it says, where there is a conflict between the agreement, the agreement that we have not seen, now remember the agreement that nobody has seen here - maybe the minister responsible for Sysco has seen it, we don't know for sure, because he has been absolutely silent on this - it says, where there

[Page 8170]

is a conflict between that agreement, which we not seen, we only have been told through media reports it actually exists, and any other Act - guess what? - the agreement prevails. The agreement we have not seen supersedes any other Act that has been passed before the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I mean that is taking things a bit far. I know this government is dead set, is determined by hook or by crook to unload, to dump Sysco. They have made that clear in the 1999 election when they set Sysco up almost as the evil empire, the dark side, and they ran against that. They ran basically against Cape Breton. They pitted Cape Breton against the mainland and they used Sysco, the employees, and all the families affected, and the tax dollars being realized by the municipality, they set all that up for their own political interests.

My point, of course, is that this government wants us here in this House to approve a bill which allows an agreement that we have not seen to supersede any other piece of legislation passed at any time in this House of Assembly. I think not, Mr. Speaker, I think that is absolutely and totally unreasonable.

Mr. Speaker, there are other provisions in here which are particularly problematic that relate to the whole question; here it is, of whether in fact this government or the corporation that is purchasing the assets of Sydney Steel will be or could be held libel in the event of any claims brought forward, commercial, environmental or whatever. When I referred to the fact that this agreement prevails over any other Act, what that is saying is that a private agreement supersedes legislation, which is absolutely unheard of in the operation of this Legislature.

Of course, when we talk about any other Acts, what are we referring to? Well, it would not necessarily matter if we were talking about the legislation which makes the Duck Toller, the animal of Nova Scotia right, that is not a piece of legislation that would matter, but legislation that deals with the environment, Acts that deal with taxation, that deal with freedom of information, legislation that deals with workers' safety and workers' compensation and things like public financial accountability, why should we agree in this House to allow a private, commercial agreement supersede all of those other public Acts that have been passed through law here in the Legislature of the Province of Nova Scotia?

Why should any private agreement, Mr. Speaker, exempt anyone from the laws of the land? That is the question that we have to ask ourselves and we have to ask this government. You know that there is an interesting section in this bill which actually imposes a statute of limitations of one year for any lawsuit against Sysco or Duferco for any act or omission occurring before the closing date of the sale. Now, the normal statute of limitations for negligence would be six years from the date the facts were discovered with plenty of leeway under Section 3 of the statute of limitations for those six years to be extended indefinitely. That is under normal circumstances, but under this agreement, under this bill, it provides through Clause 6(2), that Section 3 of the statute of limitations does not apply. So, after one year, any legal action is absolutely barred.

[Page 8171]

[5:00 p.m.]

This is unprecedented, Mr. Speaker, absolutely unprecedented. The reason it is so important is because most lawsuits based on things like environmental contaminations take years or even decades to file. It is because it can take years or decades for environmental and health affects to manifest themselves and for evidence to be gathered.

So, Mr. Speaker, the absolute one year limitation creates a two-tiered justice system. One harsh and inflexible law for Cape Bretoners. This pertains specifically to Cape Breton and it is an absolutely scandalous attack by this government, again - after the 1999 election, that was the first, this is the second one - on the rights of Cape Bretoners who are being subjected to a different legal framework as a result of this bill as it relates to Cape Bretoners' health and their environment that has been affected by Sysco, by the coke ovens and by the operation . . .

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, why is this government proceeding in this manner to set up this two-tiered justice system? Why is it they are saying to those people who have toiled, those men who have toiled so long and so hard in the steelmaking facility or in the coke ovens, to raise their families, to contribute to their community, that after this bill passes, you will not be able to take action against the corporation and/or the Government of Nova Scotia. Why is that being done? Cape Bretoners deserve some answers and, so I say to you, to Members of this Legislative Assembly, it is unconscionable that this minister and his government would bring forward a piece of legislation that is so severely, so dramatically discriminates against the workers who have done nothing more, nothing less, than to do their best to put in a full day's work, contribute in some cases their lives in order to make the facility at Sysco, Sydney Steel, operate in the best way that they possibly could.

So let's get to those answers. Let's hear not weasel words, Mr. Speaker, not evasive answers, let's start hearing from this government, who have been so silent about what is happening with Sysco. Let's hear some straight answers, some straight talk from this government about what they are going to do with respect to the agreement and what it is that they are trying to cook through here in this legislation.

I am telling you, it surprises me not that a government, who is trying to wind up after, oh so many years, Sydney Steel, would try one last play, one last political play. When the economy of Cape Breton is on its knees, this government would come along once again with a big club, to smack these people and say to them that they do not have access to the same rights and benefits and the same rules of law that other Nova Scotians enjoy. The tale of

[Page 8172]

Sysco, the tale of the Sydney Steel Corporation is an ugly tale, an ugly tale of politics and intrigue and incompetence and mismanagement that has gone on for far too many years.

The people who have suffered the most as a result of that are the people of Cape Breton. That is why it is so tragic. When you go back over the history, what it is that happened, what it is that took place over so many years, it turns your stomach. When you see how decisions were made - not in the best interests of making that operation run properly - decisions were not made in the best interests of the workers - the workers weren't involved - never were they included in the decisions that needed to be made in order to turn this facility around, even in the last decade when there have been such intensive efforts by the former Liberal Government. Actually, it started with Don Cameron's Tory Government, back in 1992, the efforts to sell Sysco. It was picked up again and bungled by the Liberal Government under John Savage and then Russell MacLellan. Now this government has truly driven the stake through the hearts of those workers.

The member for Cape Breton South says, we never had the chance. Well, that is right. He did have a chance, and he blew that chance. He mistreated those workers as badly as anyone else in the history of Sydney Steel, and he should be ashamed. He should be ashamed, the fact that he had the chance. It is all well and good for him to sit there and say, well, you never had the chance. You are right, I wish I had it. The sad thing is that when someone does get the chance and they blow that chance, they turn their backs on the people whom they made promises to. That is a real tragedy, and something that that person should be absolutely ashamed of.

Mr. Speaker, you go back over the past 20 years and you see a whole history of problems. You go back to, as I said, a history of using Sysco for short-term political advantage, and as a convenient place to employ Party loyalists, without the kind of scrutiny given the Civil Service. The worst example in a long list was the much-heralded purchase of a continuous caster, which was never taken out of the crates. Get your head around this, never taken out of the crates because it did not fit into any steelmaking plan. Just one example of many. Despite the best efforts of its experienced workforce, Sysco was run for political benefit, not to make steel.

Mr. Speaker, back on March 3, 1986, John Buchanan, boasting about the new $80 million blast furnace built at Sysco, fulfilling a 1984 Tory election promise, which was supposedly phase one of the modernization project to resurrect Sysco as a major integrated steel producer. On January 20, 1989, the blast furnaces are to be closed and sold, with Sysco turned into a much smaller electric arc operation, and then sold to a private owner. Instead, at that time the writing was on the wall for years. All signs pointed toward an intention to close the blast furnace and eliminate hundreds of jobs, yet the Premier at the time, John Buchanan refused to tell people the truth. Sysco employment was nearly 1,200 before this major shutdown had reached a peak of 5,000 as an integrated producer.

[Page 8173]

The highlights of Tory and Liberal mismanagement of Sydney Steel. March 1989. Sysco is hit with huge countervailing duties in the United States. The then industry minister, Don Cameron, soon to become Premier, denies that there is a problem and he refuses calls to take the issue seriously. Sysco never again able to access the U.S. market; it has been a problem, it has been a burden around the neck of that company before and forever since and a problem that they have never been able to overcome.

January 24, 1992. Then Premier Donald Cameron announces that Sysco will be sold, no more public money to be provided beyond the existing line of credit, shutdown begins due to a lack of orders.

May 12, 1992. A new line of credit secured with government guarantees, sale process proceeds.

Then 1993 comes in, a change of government. All kinds of campaign promises. The new Liberal Government fires the management team brought in by the Tories to increase orders and sell the plant. They launch their own plan to sell Sysco with December 1993 the final deadline to sell or shut down. By the way, December 1993 was the deadline initially set by Donald Cameron when he was Premier.

November 8, 1994. The sale of Sydney Steel Corporation to Minmetals is final, says Bernie Boudreau in his statement to the House. The sale of Sydney Steel Corporation to Minmetals is final.

November 1, 1996. Who is responsible for it then? Well, a fellow by the name of Manning MacDonald is negotiating the sale of Sysco to Global Steel. You know why? Because the deal with Minmetals fell through. Global Steel claimed that it had bought Minmetals' interest. That minister said that the province would be able to hammer out the remaining contractual things that they wanted at a meeting in the next week.

April 16, 1997, same minister. Starts a new and independent process to sell Sysco, admitting between the lines that the idea of a sale to Global has gone nowhere. This is the time in the process when GAN of Mexico, which became the only serious bidder, pursues sales with them only to lose it as the Asian economic crises throws the steel industry into turmoil.

A few days later, April 22, 1997, a colleague of mine - the member for Sackville-Cobequid - brings to light the fact that the principals of Global Steel, a company first favoured by Bernie Boudreau, were subjects of a fraud investigation and that Bernie Boudreau continued to favour them despite receiving a report from York Regional Police in 1995 about the fraud investigation.

[Page 8174]

In 1997. An untendered deal to PLI, a partnership with Liberal supporters for clean-up of the Sysco site; PLI received nearly $9 million from two levels of government.

December 1997. The GAN deal falls through - have to try to find another buyer.

December 31, 1999. John Hamm's deadline to sell or close is reached with an announcement of the sale to Rail Associates; the sale falls through within weeks. The government has used the threat of lawsuits to stop anyone involved from talking about what happened and how the new Tory Government managed Sysco.

[5:15 p.m.]

January 20, 2000, the Tories confirmed that the Rail Associates deal ended, a new sales process begins with Ernst & Young managing the plant, shutting it down after all the orders are completed, managing the plant and the sale.

June 22, 2000. The government announced the sale to Duferco, rejecting an offer with better dollars and jobs which was favoured by the steelworkers after the expert analysis of the bids. As we know, Mr. Speaker, the deal was almost lost over the government inflexibility on pensions. It was rescued by the intervention of Duferco who negotiated directly the USWA on pensions and seniority.

Mr. Speaker, that's just a thumbnail sketch, a quick review. Starting in 1986, and we can go back farther, I said to you that I reviewed our Auditor General's Reports on Sydney Steel dating back to 1980 where they suggested to government that they weren't going to be able to sustain the kind of losses that were being experienced by Sydney Steel and that the debt was mounting and nothing was changing in terms of the ability to do that. The government of the time was showing different ways of accounting for that debt, which the Auditor General kept raising as a problem, because what the Auditor General of the day was saying was that the members of this Legislature and Nova Scotians need to know the full extent of the exposure to the taxpayers, as a result of the decisions or lack thereof being made around Sysco and around the funding of the future operation of Sysco. That never happened. No decisions were ever made.

It is was like year after year, government after government, Mr. Speaker, decisions were made, I would suggest to you, for short-term political gain and there was never a concerted strategy put together in order to come up with a business plan for the future, in order to determine whether it was time to cut losses, whether it was time to change ownership ahead of the huge countervails levelled by the United States. Don't tell me that we didn't know that was coming, that the operators and the people involved in the steel industry didn't know that was coming. I don't buy that for a second. Steps could have been, should have been, perhaps, taken in those days to distance the government from the operation

[Page 8175]

of this facility. Were that not possible, then maybe that actually told the story about what the future of Sydney Steel should be.

Had we done something back 15, 20 or 25 years old, had we done something back then, Mr. Speaker, maybe we would have a functional, fully operational, profitable steelmaking facility in Cape Breton, instead of now what looks like we are going to have is a plant that is providing a small amount of rough products for the steelmaking capacity of the parent company. It is not a future, not the kind of future that a lot of people talked about over the past 25 years was possible with some visionary, responsible, committed leadership at the plant and at the political level.

So at this particular point, we are dealing with the wind-up of a Crown Corporation, that has a checkered past. We have a government that is bringing legislation to this House to deal with an agreement that was reached to come up with a private buyer. Mr. Speaker, I say to you, we cannot deal with this legislation which gives great power to this agreement, allows this agreement to override any other piece of legislation, any other Act in the Province of Nova Scotia. We cannot allow that to pass. The precedent that it would establish is something we would not want to see in this province.

I say to you and to all members of this House, it is bad enough when we are dealing with a budget and we don't see the details and the government won't come clean with all of the ramifications, won't come clean with where the money is hidden and how they are going to pay for this and how they are going to pay for that. We are forced to approve that, but something that actually changed the law and sets up a two-tiered legal system in the Province of Nova Scotia, one where Cape Bretoners, particularly people who have worked for Sydney Steel over the past 25 years, would be afforded less legal protection, less legal access than other people, other workers, other citizens of this great province, is simply unconscionable that the government would ask us to do that.

I say to you and to other members of this House that dealing head-on with Sysco, dealing head-on with that sordid past, dealing head-on with where this government wants to take it in the future is something we are prepared to do. Members of this caucus are prepared to deal with that agreement, are prepared to deal with the decision that this government has made with respect to the future of Sysco but we want the facts on the table. We want to know what agreement this government reached with Duferco. We want to know why it is they want to prevent workers from having access to the laws of this province that may protect them. We want to know why it is this government wants to prevent anyone from mounting an environmental claim against this government, wants to prevent anyone from mounting claims under the Workers' Compensation Act or any other Act; take it to court if they believe it would in fact best represent their interests as they would do so and put their claim before a court of law.

[Page 8176]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member allow for an introduction?

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Absolutely.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic for yielding the floor.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to your attention and other members of the House one of the recipients today of the Long Service Awards, a constituent of mine and a close personal friend, Arlene Saulnier. She is here with her husband and she is also accompanied by my wife, Grace. I would like them to rise and receive the warm applause of the House. (Applause)

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome our visitors to the gallery and tell them today we are dealing with An Act Respecting the Sale of the Assets of Sydney Steel Corporation. A corporation with a long and not very illustrious history in the Province of Nova Scotia. We are dealing with a bill which incorporates an agreement signed in June 2000, an agreement we have not seen. We are being asked in our debate on Bill No. 70, to pass a piece of legislation which incorporates, in effect, in law, an agreement which we have not seen yet. We are also being asked to pass a piece of legislation that would place the agreement, a private agreement, a commercial agreement, above the laws of this province. It is an unprecedented request, an unprecedented move by this government and we are not going to allow that to happen without a fight, let me tell you that right now.

We believe that this bill is unfair, it is discriminatory against the people of Cape Breton. It establishes a two-tiered legal system where the people of Cape Breton are treated like second-class citizens and we will not stand for that happening, Mr. Speaker, let me tell you. I, for one, want to make it clear to all members of this House that they had better take a look. If they don't realize what this bill does, they better take some time to review what the implications are because there are precedents being set here in this legislation which will come back to haunt all of us, let alone the people of Nova Scotia.

So in my role as a Member of this Legislative Assembly, Mr. Speaker, I want to say to you as I make these comments, as I present this position on behalf of the NDP caucus, that I would call on all members of this House to fight tooth and nail against what this government is trying to do in Bill No. 70. I believe that the best way to kick that fight off is at this time to move adjournment of this debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.

[Page 8177]

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a motion for adjournment.

A recorded vote is being called for.

Ring the bells. Call in the members.

[5:26 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[6:24 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. MacAskill Mr. Christie

Dr. Smith Mr. Baker

Mr. Gaudet Mr. Russell

Mr. Downe Dr. Hamm

Mr. Manning MacDonald Mr. LeBlanc

Mr. Holm Mr. Muir

Mr. John MacDonell Miss Purves

Ms. Maureen MacDonald Mr. Fage

Mr. Deveaux Mr. Parent

Mr. Corbett Ms. McGrath

Mr. Pye Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Epstein Mr. Olive

Mr. Estabrooks Mr. Rodney MacDonald

Mr. Robert Chisholm Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. Dexter Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. MacEwan Mr. Taylor

Mr. MacKinnon Mr. Dooks

Mr. Samson Mr. Langille

Mr. Boudreau Mr. Morse

Mr. Wilson Mr. Hendsbee

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Carey

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

[Page 8178]

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Hurlburt

THE CLERK: For, 20. Against, 27.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is defeated.

We will resume debate on Bill No. 70, Sydney Steel Corporation Sale Act.

HON. GORDON BALSER: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In light of the concern around the tabling of the agreement, I had indicated earlier that once we had determined the legal implications of tabling, I would be prepared to do that. We had an agreement in principle to table, at the end of second reading, and I am certainly prepared to do that. If we move to second reading at the end of that, I would be happy to table the document. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on that point of order. I have to ask exactly what has the minister got up his sleeve? If he has the agreement, he has got the legislation, put the darn piece of agreement on the table. Let's have at it right now. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please. I never recognized anyone.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: On that point of order. I would submit that what honourable members are doing is attempting to debate the bill in the guise of a point of order, which is in itself inherently out of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is not a point of order, but was a matter of information for the House.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to rise for a few moments to speak to Bill No. 70. I think it is probably heading toward a sorry conclusion of this whole episode. You have a bill here, Bill No. 70, with 11 clauses, with absolutely no explanation inherent in the bill as to what is going to happen with the company that is going to ultimately purchase the Sydney steel plant. There is something I noticed right off the bat, in talking about this sale agreement, something very interesting.

[Page 8179]

While the government has been promoting the sale with Duferco for some time now and trumpeting that sale as the saving grace or the ultimate deal that is going to mean that Sydney Steel is going to survive, if you go down to Clause 2(h) of this bill, "'Purchaser' means Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation." We are not dealing with the United States company here called Duferco. We are dealing with Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation.

[6:30 p.m.]

It reminds me of the deal with Minmetals when it was close to a deal and we found out we were not dealing with Minmetals, we were dealing with MinCan Canada, a company conveniently set up to do the deal at that time. Now we are dealing with Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation. I just wonder what the asset position of Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation is and what their liabilities will be should something go wrong. Is Duferco International responsible for this company or is it a company set up strictly to do this deal in the government's run to get out of Sydney Steel here?

What does that mean? What does it mean for environmental liabilities in Sydney in the coming years? What does it mean - if you go to Clause 3(2), "Where there is a conflict between the Agreement and any other Act, the Agreement prevails." Which means if there is a conflict in the Environmental Act of any kind, then this agreement prevails, not the Acts. If there is an agreement with labour standards or human rights, this agreement prevails and not the Acts.

So here we are, we are dealing with a sale which is not accompanied by an agreement that was supposedly put together between Duferco and the Government of Nova Scotia, the people of Nova Scotia. We now find the deal was put together between the Government of Nova Scotia and Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation. A new company, not Duferco United States at all, it is Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation. A company that was never here before. So now we are dealing with a new company called Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation.

There is no doubt this bill is ultimately going to go through the House. This is what happens when you have a majority government and a government that wants to get out of the steel business. No matter how they get out of the steel business, whether they give it away, they want to get out of the steel business. Members opposite are nodding their heads, that is exactly right. The member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley cannot wipe the smile off his face over there. He wants to get rid of Sydney Steel, as do other members on the government benches.

I can tell you that we are dealing now with a bill, we have not seen the agreement and in the agreement - the one we haven't seen - my information from the Steelworkers' Union is that there are going to be 200 people working at Sydney Steel once this deal is done, if we

[Page 8180]

ever see the agreement. Once the deal is done there are going to be 200 people working on the plant, making semi-finished products for one of Duferco's plants in the United States.

I am going to elaborate on that in a few moments, but I want, first of all, to inform the House that it has always been my position, the position of the MacLellan Government that Sysco be privatized and it should be run by the private sector. But it was also our position that only the right deal would satisfy the MacLellan Government and myself and members of the caucus, particularly those who are interested in Sydney Steel, those of us who come from the area.

When I listen to people talk about Sydney Steel, they talk about it in the political sense and they try to stay away from putting a human face on this. But I can certainly put a human face on it because I have been involved with Sydney Steel mostly all my life including the 42 years that my father worked there. So I know a little bit about Sydney Steel and I know a little bit about the trials and the tribulations of the steelworkers over the years in Cape Breton. If there ever was a case study on how not to run a business, Sysco was it. I have to stand here and agree with that and that the government has certainly turned that plant into a political football over the last 30 years, successive governments, both sides of the House.

I can tell you that the great tragedy is that the government's handling of this sale has hurt the workers most and it has hurt their families and it has hurt the community. The failed attempts in the past were just that - they were failed attempts to sell it, but at the end of the day and in recent history there were still 800 steelworkers earning a living at Sydney Steel.

In the past couple of years, with the proper management team on the plant, they were starting to turn the situation around with the recovery of some business that was lost by Canadian National Railways, I am talking about the rail business, and also with the possibility of new markets. Yes, we had to start to cut the cloth to fit the suit. There were too many men working at Sydney Steel with the production that was coming off that plant to make a profit, so one of two things had to happen there: either we had to take some people out of the workforce and retire them with dignity, or we had to increase production substantially in order to justify 800 people working in the plant.

I believe we were well on the way to doing both of those things, combining it, taking some people out who were ready for a pension. It was in that area that we enhanced the Sysco Pension Plan dramatically in the last contract that we signed with Sydney steelworkers, to give a minimum pension of $1,500 a month at that time for those who had 30 years' service, and there were a number of people who opted for that and left the plant.

In the meantime, our management team was trying to recover orders from around the world, new orders and to recover some business that we lost, but we ran out of time. The election came, and we all know what happened with that election, and how Sysco was used

[Page 8181]

during that election as a political ploy by the government to drive a wedge between voters on mainland Nova Scotia and voters in industrial Cape Breton in particular.

I think you would have to admit that Sysco is a case study in political football politics; there is no question about that it has been, and I just refer you to "Priorities Matter" - The last provincial election - "A John Hamm Government will CLOSE SYSCO once and for all." That is what is on this postcard from Jane Purves, Progressive Conservative Party for Halifax "stop pouring $$ into SYSCO protect our Health Care System." Well, we have stopped pouring money into Sysco, but you are certainly not protecting the health care in this province. That was another lie.

Part of it is true, Mr. Speaker. A John Hamm Government will close Sysco - and I am going to get to how that will come true eventually in a few moments - there it is. Sysco closed, hospital beds open. That's a terrible way to win an election, and the majority in that particular seat wasn't that big, and I suggest to you that people won't be fooled a second time in that particular riding.

It was not merely a political attack. It was an attack on the steelworkers and their families at the time. Mr. Speaker, and these people will never forget what this government has done to them. It was an unnecessary and unwarranted attack. It had nothing to do with good government; just the worst kind of gutter politics. As I mentioned before, it was always my goal to have Sysco run as a private operation if the right deal could be put on the table.

We turned down deals because we didn't think they were the right deals; we turned down companies who were set up for the express purpose of taking Sysco at a rock-bottom price, turning over the assets and making a profit; and we turned down deals from companies who wanted to get their hands on the Sysco Pension Plan. Many companies rang our doorbell and said, they wanted to buy Sysco, but no deal that was on the table at that time was in the best interests of the steelworkers, their families, or the community, or Sydney Steel remaining in Nova Scotia.

They were deals put together, hastily formed companies, to try to get the assets of Sydney Steel for a song. So we rejected those, and we kept Sydney Steel in public hands until we felt we could get the right deal, and we ran out of time. The move to privatization here in this House and what has led up to it should be met with an air of optimism and celebration, but that is not the case - and I will tell you why in a moment - because of the way the steelworkers are treated in this whole process.

The Tories, Mr. Speaker, are about 5 per cent in the polls in Cape Breton, particularly industrial Cape Breton. It is not because they favour the privatization of Sysco, but it is because they made a direct attack on the workforce of that company. Among other things, the Cape Bretoners will never forget that direct attack. The privatization of Sysco in this case is clearly a case of a government that believed the ends justified the means. Premier Hamm

[Page 8182]

and his front bench, in particular, ran roughshod over the workers, aided and abetted by senior Civil Service. They literally held a gun to the steelworkers' heads, cocked the trigger and forced them into a pension arrangement on a take it or leave it basis. They literally put the gun to the temples of the steelworkers' heads and cocked the trigger. In other words, there were no negotiation there - you do not go along with this, we are going to close that plant.

I will tell you why, because Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation, as it turns out, has stated or did state, I should say, that if we do not get a pension deal here with these workers and we do not get some of these workers out of the way, then the deal is dead. So the carrot was put on the plate for the steelworkers, here is an increase in your pension, take it or leave it because if you do not take it, Duferco is not buying this plant and we are going to close it. So you either take this or you get nothing.

The problem is, Mr. Speaker, that there are about 500 people eligible to take that pension; $1,500 of that pension was put on the table by the previous government, the MacLellan Government and a contract that was done with the steelworkers' union. The government opposite topped it up in order to get them out of the way so they could get a sale with Duferco. There are approximately 500 people eligible to take that pension which leaves for starters 100 people in nowhere land. There are 100 steelworkers who do not have anything out of this deal. They are out on the street. They have no pension. They have small severance packages and then they are finished with the operation, but there are another 200 who are supposedly going to go to work with Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation. There are 200 going to go to work with that company.

But, Mr. Speaker, did you know that they all have to apply for their jobs? They are not guaranteed. Those 200 steelworkers are not guaranteed their jobs. They have been told that they now have to apply for the some 200 jobs that may be available at Sydney Steel. So if Duferco does not like some of these steelworkers who are applying, the 200 that are left who are eligible to go to work at Sydney Steel because the people who took their pension are ruled ineligible, so the 200 who are eligible to go to work at Sydney Steel have to apply for their jobs through Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation. They have to apply for their jobs.

Now, a situation will arise, I suppose, that some of these 200 steelworkers have been very vociferous in their objections to the deal over the past few months and once Duferco gets its hands on this company, they will know who those people are and they will simply say we do not want you or we do not want you. They are going to be very selective in which 200 people they take back. So where does that leave, Mr. Speaker, those 200? Add a portion of that 200 to the 100, now you have possibly 300 people who have nothing who worked at Sydney Steel for 20 years or more.

[Page 8183]

To further complicate that, those people who are eligible for the pension cannot even get the pension until they run out of EI, until their EI benefits are exhausted. So now they are all down there waiting for their pension and waiting for this deal to go through because they want to get their pension money. So, again, they put the gun to their heads and cocked it and said you either go along with this or it is going to be an awful grey Christmas for a lot of people in Cape Breton who are connected with the steel industry. But do you know why all this is happening, it is because the government said to Nova Scotians we are getting out of the steel business no matter what, whether we have to give it away, and it is exactly what they are doing here, but how do we know what they are getting for it? We have not seen the agreement. We have not seen any agreement.

We are asked here to pass this 11 clause bill with literally nothing in it except for some interesting environmental or liability information in one of the clauses that should give everybody rise for concern about who is going to be liable for what happens at Sydney Steel after one year. Is it going to be Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation or is it going to be the government? No. The government has taken itself out of the picture here.

[6:45 p.m.]

So the $300 million that were put on the table, that were booked for this year, not a dime has been spent on any remediation work down there that I could see. The last remediation work was done by the previous government and we employed 150 steelworkers for 14 months doing that - who are going on the welfare rolls. Has this government seen fit to take those 100 steelworkers or possibly some of the 200 that won't be hired and give them immediate work cleaning up some of those sites? No. Because the government is not interested in spending any more money on that property. I suggest to you that we will be standing here debating this issue years from now on the Opposition side of the House, debating this issue no matter who is in government, debating this issue - when is somebody going to clean up the Sydney Steel site? The government pulled a sleight of hand to make their books look a little better this year by booking $300 million - in other words they made Sysco's books look as worse as they possibly could make them in order to make themselves look better. The Finance Minister knows that.

Mr. Speaker, steelworkers have always been willing to do their part to make the move to a private sector operator. I have never seen a union group in my life that gave as much cooperation to trying to get a private sector sale through as this group of steelworkers. I have never met a less militant group of workers. This fairy tale or this illusion that steelworkers were some kind of workers who did not care about their operation or some kind of workers where all they wanted to do was go on strike. The Sydney steelworkers' record for lost time over the years has been excellent, the steelworkers union has been a good player in that whole scenario down there. I might say and I have said it before, if there is any group of people who do not deserve any blame in this whole charade over the past three years, it has always been the steelworkers. They have always been willing to do their part.

[Page 8184]

Under Hoogovens operation down there, which was roundly criticized by the now-Premier when he was in Opposition trying to find information on Hoogovens - it is the same information we are trying to find on Duferco, but it is all right now - they have a majority government over there. They can just hide anything they want or they could pass it along when they want to pass it along. Hoogovens and the workers were doing some training that was very enthusiastically accepted by everybody in the community and the steelworkers wanted to work. They still want to work, but the Tory Government is setting the wheels in motion where there is going to be no return to anything down there because I suggest to you that the way the steel is constructed, that this company as I understand it - now, I haven't seen the agreement, but I understand - that literally everything on the steelworkers' site goes to this company. I will get to that in a few moments but before I do, I want to talk again about how they treated the workers through this whole scenario, this whole sham.

I refer to a letter of February 17, 2000 from the real people who are doing this deal. The guy's name is James Spurr, the Clerk of the Executive Council and I refer to paragraph three and I will table this, The opportunity to achieve the best outcome of the Ernst & Young process for the employees of Sydney Steel will be maximized if you and the Sydney Steel employees you represent actively demonstrate your full support of and cooperation with the process and we expect to see that support and cooperation consistent throughout. That was to Bill McNeil, the President of the union. A civil servant of this province sends a letter out to the steelworkers' president, threatening the steelworkers that if they don't heel they are not going to go anywhere with this particular deal or any other deal. They are going to be out of luck with pensions and everything else - by a civil servant of this province - the Clerk of the Executive Council - and this government let him get away with it. I will table that.

The Finance Minister says he agrees with it and that is not surprising to me at all when it comes to Cape Breton because the Cape Bretoners know the Finance Minister very well. Mr. Speaker, if there was ever any need of evidence of coercion of the Sydney steelworkers, working people in the Cape Breton area, that letter surely brings it into focus. When you get senior civil servants telling the government which direction to go, we are in bad shape. When the Premier can't put his signature to a letter like that; or the Minister of Economic Development, the Minister responsible for Sysco; or the Finance Minister, who books liabilities on the books for Sydney Steel to make his own books look better. Talk about a sleight of hand.

So here we are, Mr. Speaker, we are on the eve of finalization of the sale to a new owner. This sale will go through. I am not standing here saying I am under any illusion that anything I say here tonight is going to change the mind of that crowd. There is no question in my mind. They will probably declare a holiday up here the day the deal goes through, but it won't last. I can tell you that in industrial Cape Breton, it will be 100 years before the Tories win a seat, from this day. Mr. Premier you were the one who assured that fact. In industrial Cape Breton, the Tory Party, you will be able to count the voters for that Party in

[Page 8185]

a room about the size of a telephone booth for the next 100 years. If you have achieved nothing else in government you have achieved that.

In the last election I believe the Tory candidate in Cape Breton South got 4 per cent. Paul, you would know that.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mine got 2 per cent.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: His got 2 per cent. That is right. So here we are, Mr. Speaker, on the eve of the finalization of the sale. It is going to an owner who would now, we would find out, is not Duferco from the United States, it is a new company. It is a new company set up to do this deal; convenient, Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation. I wonder how much of a track record Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation has in order to buy a steel plant? Do they have any offices in Nova Scotia? Do they have any employees here, except their legal people down the road who are experts in setting up these companies? Do they have any assets? Are they liable for anything? For example, if things go horribly wrong down there, is Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation responsible for anything? I would like to see what kind of equity they are putting up, but that will be in the agreement, I guess, when it is tabled. I hope that in the agreement it will explain what kind of assets Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation has, who are their principle people.

Mr. Speaker, I understand there are plans to take 750,000 tons of unfinished product to the United States. That would be somewhat record production. The one question I have to answer, I guess, is how a company with an American operation here, with a Nova Scotia company, will be able to circumvent the countervailed duties. Also, you have to ask your question, and steel experts have questioned this, that is it efficient and is it logical for Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation to produce these semi-finished products in Sydney and export them to their plant in the United States successfully, efficiently and to make a profit doing it? Steel experts will tell you it just can't be done.

Now, the other question that has to be asked here that was not explained is Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation and the government talked boldly about going from 200 employees at Sydney Steel to 400 over the next few years, with an approximate, and I could be corrected here, but I believe it was a $40 million injection of new money to do that. What I want to know and what Nova Scotians want to know is, who is putting the $40 million up, Duferco or the government? Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation, who have no assets and nobody on the ground here in Nova Scotia has a steel plant. They are not in the steel business in Nova Scotia. Is the government going to give them $40 million to hire another 200 people? Or, is it going to be Duferco putting their own money in to hire another 200 people? Or, are we just trying to tell Cape Bretoners that there may be another 200 jobs down here, bringing the workforce to 400, and perhaps that will never happen?

[Page 8186]

I suggest to you that the government would have no intentions of putting $40 million in there for another 200 jobs, and I would also further tell this House, and you, Mr. Speaker, that I don't think Duferco has any intentions of putting $40 million in a plant in Sydney. That is a pipe dream. We are not dealing with 400 jobs in Sydney, we are dealing with 200, possibly less, and we don't even know if they are going to be steelworkers. We don't know because all these steelworkers have to go down to an employment office that they will set up and present their credentials, and they may or may not get hired. It will depend on their age, and you and I know, Mr. Speaker, that the age of Sydney steelworkers is not young, the average age of the steelworkers in that plant is 50. (Interruptions)

I was just coming to that. They certainly are capable, and they can do the job, but is Duferco going to want to hire all of them? That remains to be seen. I would be very uncomfortable if I was one of those 200 hoping to get a job in this mix. I would be more uncomfortable if I was one of the other 100 who are getting nothing out of this deal, except a see you later, it has been nice knowing you, you worked at Sydney Steel, the Government of Nova Scotia is getting out of the steel business, and too bad for you.

The owner states, initially it is going to sell only slabs. Well, first of all, it is not going to sell anything, it is putting material on the ground in its plant in the United States. So, it is operating the plant as a feedstock plant, which means they are not going to the market place, which means that they have lost the market potential that was there, including CN, including Canadian Pacific - both were rail customers of Sydney Steel - also, some of the other South American companies they were working on to increase the tonnage produced at Sydney Steel. All of that is gone now because this company didn't want to go to the market place. All this company wanted to do was provide feedstock for their own plant.

When the day comes that that can't be done efficiently, that company is out of Sydney. But what are they out of Sydney with? Well, in the agreement, is there a codicil to that agreement which would state that if Duferco does not hang around that they lose all their investment, their assets? Maybe there is. So, they walk away with the initial government money, then they walk away, and if they can't take the assets, what is the good of leaving the assets there? The government will only sell them anyway, because they have lost their markets, they have lost the rail market, that is already gone.

Now we have the spectacle in Canada that there is no domestic rail producer in Canada. None. Sydney Steel was the last one. Now CN are going to get their rails offshore, for now, but hold the phone for a moment, there is rail-making equipment on the ground at Sydney Steel. I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker - and I have said it before - that two to three years from now, perhaps sooner, that rail-making equipment will be making rails somewhere else in Canada, in Ontario somewhere, maybe even in the United States. That rail-making equipment, with the expert people we had making it in Sydney, will find its way to another plant somewhere and be producing rails.

[Page 8187]

Which begs the question, if Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation aren't going to produce rails, no intentions of producing rails, why are we selling them the rail-making equipment? Why is that included in the deal? Why are parts of the steel plant that aren't going to be used, the other parts, why are they included in the deal? It is a wholesale fire sale, that is what it is. A wholesale fire sale. We want to get out of here, probably taking advice from the great lover of Sydney Steel, Jim Spurr, Jane Purves and a few others. Jim and Jane, yes.

Anyway, current duties on Sysco products, for example, are over 100 per cent in the United States. I hope that is not going to have an effect on the sale, but it is a question that must be answered, because in the agreement it states, "The Governor in Council may continue the Company under the Companies Act as the Sydney Steel Corporation or such other name as the Governor in Council determines." That tells me two things. One is that the government is going to continue to have its hand in there for some reason or another, but it also tells me that they are preventing anything happening in the United States that would perhaps impede some other development with the rail-making equipment somewhere else in Canada, that is what it tells me, another sleight of hand in this particular agreement.

[7:00 p.m.]

All the equipment in the plant, Mr. Speaker, you know, is not used for making slabs. What is the other equipment going to be used for? Now, Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation I would hope does not carry on the tradition of Hawker-Siddeley and Dosco of stripping the mill of all its value-added equipment and shipping it to other Duferco operations. Think of it. Do you remember R.B. Cameron when he was there? He could not make nails in Sydney, it was impossible. He could not make them in Sydney.

AN HON. MEMBER: Or wire.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Or wire, but 200 miles down the road you can make them, up here, you know, just stripped the plant of that, sent it up here and they are still making them over here.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who owns that plant?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I think Cameron, is it, or Maritime Steel or one of those, yes. Now, is that what Duferco is going to do? I think the government has to come clean here. Are they giving Duferco a sweetheart deal and then telling them after they give them the deal, you guys can do what you want. You can strip that plant, take the equipment, do whatever you want with it, just make sure that plant never operates again in Sydney in the area of rail production or any other production such as axle and some of the other products that they have been producing there.

[Page 8188]

Also, Mr. Speaker, we do not know what is going to happen to the Sysco cranes and the whole dock area down there. Now, you know, the Premier waxed eloquently a couple of times down there about speaking to the board of trade about his interest in making sure that some of the stuff is used for the benefit of the community, that he was keeping an eye on it and that he is continuing to see what he can do to develop the economy of industrial Cape Breton. Has the government sought to protect those assets - the cranes, the whole dock area - and allow it to be used as common use in case the plant fails and these guys sail away with the assets? Is there any protection there?

Mr. Speaker, again I have to say that the employees have been forced to sign an agreement. They have been forced to sign an agreement out of desperation. There were no negotiations with this deal with the Sydney steelworkers. The government makes a big thing out of saying that we sat down and we hammered out an agreement. There was only a one-way agreement there. It was a take it or leave it agreement and I have to tell you how pleased I was that the steelworkers stood the gaff, went that extra mile, took the extra chance in order to make the government heel on the issue of pension monies. They did get slight improvements in it, but at what cost - the cost of some of their people.

This government succeeded where nobody else succeeded in pitting not only Cape Breton against Halifax, but steelworker against steelworker. This government did what nobody else could do - pitted steelworker against steelworker to the point where the steelworkers, some of them who were desperate to get their pension, were saying we want a secret ballot because we want out of here because this government means business that this plant is going to close if we do not settle this pension agreement and myself and my family are not going to get anything. That is what the steelworkers were saying. That is what they were saying to me and I know a lot of them personally and they were saying I have to go against my own union brothers because I have to protect my family and this government put them in that position.

What I am saying to you, Mr. Speaker, is as hard as it was politically for us to justify keeping Sydney Steel until we got the right sale and the right conditions, we were prepared to sacrifice politically to keep jobs in industrial Cape Breton when they were desperately needed. I will make no apologies to anybody in this room or anywhere else for that. We were prepared to go the last mile to get the best deal, but we were also committed to getting the best deal we could for steelworkers who were leaving the industry. I make no apologies for that either. In the last contract, we signed a good contract, and we were on the verge of signing another contract when this crowd took over and turned their attention to getting out of the steel business as fast as they could.

Again, the Premier, when in Sydney, said at Silicon Island that he can't protect Sydney Steel jobs, but he can protect the steelworkers. Well, Mr. Speaker, how did the Premier protect the steelworkers? Put a gun to their head, cocked it and said take the pension or you are getting nothing, that is what he said. That is the first thing. The second thing is there are

[Page 8189]

300 steelworkers who are very insecure these days, the 100 that are getting nothing and the other 200 that have to apply for their jobs with a company that just existed a couple of weeks ago called Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation. That is some protection of the steelworkers, but that is politically popular up here, apparently. So, does the government care about the political numbers or does it care about the livelihood of people in this province who have been hurting, namely, the steelworkers? I suggest the former is probably closer to the truth, it is a political numbers game.

The back-room boys over there are telling the people what to do; there are some pretty decent people in that caucus, but they have been told what to do. They have been told to sacrifice jobs in Sydney. They make a great thing about the one thing they did down there - finalize a deal that was based on a set of criteria that was put in place by our government to lure call centres to Cape Breton, namely the payroll rebate. They even took credit for that, Mr. Speaker, and that was done by the previous government. It wasn't done by this crowd. It wasn't done by this crowd at all. It was done by the previous government, and they know that, but they went down there with great fanfare and took credit for it. There were four call centres there before the one that we put in down there, not at the expense of Sydney Steel, but in cooperation and conjunction with trying to make Sydney Steel work.

This government is intent on getting rid of not only the plant, but getting rid of some of its workers off the sheet altogether. Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation, which has no assets that I am aware of - I bet if we went and tried to find them on the Net, you couldn't find them anywhere. You can find Duferco United States, yes, but this agreement has nothing to do with Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation or Duferco United States. It is Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation, that is who we are dealing with here. That is who we are dealing with. We are not dealing Duferco's main company. It is a shell company set up, Mr. Speaker.

The minute they don't make a dollar in the next year or so, and they come back here, and of course, the Minister of Economic Development says there may be more money from the government to Duferco. Of course, the Premier says there isn't. He is already on record saying that. So you have a difference of opinion between the Minister responsible for Sydney Steel Corporation Act, and his boss because they don't know what is going to happen down there. They have no idea. They are playing it day to day. They just want to get rid of it. They want to wake up some morning and see it gone along with the workers, and the equipment will probably be gone along with it.

Protecting the steelworkers, I suggest the Premier made a hollow promise to the board of trade and to the steelworkers in Sydney regarding that. I have never seen any government treat a group of workers so callously, Mr. Speaker, as this government has. This government literally told the steelworkers, take it or leave it, and if you don't take it, you are getting nothing, because we are closing this plant. Steelworkers who are friends of mine coming to me and asking me to encourage the union president in Sydney to hold a private vote, a secret

[Page 8190]

vote so they can vote against their union brothers because of their fear, their fear that if they didn't vote for this, their families wouldn't have anything. Now that is some set of negotiations that went on there, I will tell you.

No government has ever been elected on the promise to pit one area of this province against another - except this government. Except this government. No government has been elected. Is my time up? Okay. I know honourable members opposite are sorry that it is not up.

One would think at the end of the day that the steelworkers would be pleased with this deal, but they are not because they are proud people. They are not pleased because they did not have a hand in the deal. They did not have any option, they wanted to work at Sydney Steel and a lot of them, if not most of them, are expert in what they did and they did it proudly. It wasn't their fault that Sydney Steel could not make a profit in the last few years - it was low production and it was bad marketing and it was bad business policies by the owner which was the government.

I can give you a litany of those bad things that happened since 1968, but the steelworkers plowed along through it all, making good rails until somebody decided they were on the right track with the rails so what did they do? They concocted a story that there was radial streaking in one of the rails that was sent, a major order, and it set Sysco back three years just when it was on the verge of becoming a profitable enterprise in Sydney.

It took whole governments to come in and say there was nothing wrong with those rails, it was a maintenance problem and they fixed it but it was too late. Somebody thought Sysco was going to get a leg up and jeopardize them in the world market with the Chinese market in Beijing, and spread all through the world, don't buy Sysco rails.

They are the best rails in the world, with the best workers in the world making those rails in Sydney. I suggest that equipment was the best in the world and I suggest to you again that equipment will be operating somewhere else. Somebody will make some money off this deal outside of Cape Breton. I am convinced of that and I know that before I leave this House, sometime in the future, that I will be standing here saying I told you so. That rail equipment will be operating somewhere else and making a profit.

The promise that the member for Halifax Citadel made that Sysco will close and hospital beds will open. Well, hospital beds are closing and Sysco is still open but in what shape? Again, you have the minister and the Premier at odds over whether or not the government is going to be involved in the future. We find out now that we are not dealing with the main Duferco company - we are dealing with a shell company set up to do this deal - which gives me cause for concern, because we were down that route before with a company called Minmetals. That was a bad deal and that deal was done by the Liberal Government and it was a bad deal. When we found out what we were dealing with, we were dealing with

[Page 8191]

MinCan Canada which had no assets. It wasn't Minmetals out of China, they just told us to take a walk when they didn't want the deal. We couldn't do anything legally with them because they weren't legally responsible for anything. They set up this company called MinCan Canada and I am the first to admit that was a bad deal. Thank heavens that didn't go through because all the equipment would have been in Beijing.

I am not saying that deal was any good, that deal was no better than the one I am looking at here tonight because it really, - you know, I have not heard any mention of Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation until I saw this bill. No one came clean during the negotiations by saying we are selling this to a company that is being set up by Duferco, a shell company to operate this plant in Nova Scotia.

That does not give me much comfort. I am sure it does not give the people of Cape Breton any comfort too. (Interruption) Well, yes, who will the board of directors be? Another fact that I think has been somewhat lost on Nova Scotians is that there is a misrepresentation of reality here. Even if the government does not spend a dime, not one dime on Duferco, they are still on the hook for over $1 billion in clean-up. This year, they parked $300 million on the debt as a starting place for the Sysco clean-up.

AN HON. MEMBER: They put that on the books so they can justify closing hospital beds.

[7:15 p.m.]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Yes, made it look worse, made the debt look worse by blaming Sysco again, putting the $300 million on the debt. Not spending a nickel of the $300 million, not a nickel of it on the clean-up of Sydney Steel. Not 5 cents, yet there is $300 million booked on the debt. I don't know why that is not exciting people, but it should be. I think it is terrible that the government is allowed to get away with that. You have an environmental liability, you booked some money to do something, and you haven't done anything, and have no intentions of doing anything.

You recorded the liability for accounting purposes and have no intention of spending one dime of it. First of all you are going to give the property away to Duferco (Nova Scotia). You are going to give all the assets away, including the rail-making equipment, unless I am told differently. Maybe in the agreement there are some codicils there that are going to say no, that really isn't the case.

AN HON. MEMBER: All they have to do is put it on the table . . .

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Yes, so we can see. Maybe I am saying some things here that maybe aren't right. Maybe they have an agreement where they have to stay in Sydney. But they don't have to stay in Sydney, all they have to do is make a quick profit with

[Page 8192]

some slabs they may need, and then walk. If they can't take the assets, they will leave them there. But Sydney will still be the loser; industrial Cape Breton will be the loser; and, I suggest to you, the people of Nova Scotia will be the losers.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to tell you there are a lot of people up here in Burnside and other places in this area who have made a living off selling to Sysco over the years. Sysco has been an important contributor to the economy in this province over the past number of years. Everybody talks about the liability of Sysco. Most of it incurred, by the way, in the failed modernization attempts back in the late 1960's and early 1970's, and not in operations in the past few years, but in capital improvements added to the books over the last years. Some ministers opposite were present when that was done. I didn't fault them for that when they were doing it; I thought it was a good idea at the time.

Don't say that the operations of Sydney Steel lost $3 billion; that is an outright fabrication of the truth. Nobody states what Sysco has contributed to the economy of Nova Scotia over the past 30 years. It has been a political whipping boy and it has been allowed to be that for political purposes. I suggest that is a terrible indictment to have laid at the feet of the steelworkers in Sydney who have tried, in miserable conditions, over the years to make that plant successful and, for their part, have done a good job.

When you compound the amount of money that was spent on capital investment on that plant over a number of years, is it any wonder it is up to close to $3 billion? I am not so sure it is that high, but it makes for a nice round number when you are talking about that. No one has ever thrown a number out, how much Sysco has contributed to the economy over that period of time. How many people raised their families and sent their kids to university at Sydney Steel?

AN HON. MEMBER: In Halifax.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: In Halifax is right. In Halifax, to university. How many suppliers have made money, made lots of money at Sydney Steel? What about the railway down there? How much money are they making off Sydney Steel? They are not going to make much in the future. That will be the next casualty. When they stop shipping rails out of Sydney, we will be standing here wondering where the Cape Breton-Nova Scotia railway went, because that will be gone. They won't be shipping much coal out and they won't be shipping any rails, so what is going to keep that railway going? Nothing. I might remind the Premier that that railway goes all the way to Truro, right through New Glasgow, Pictou County. That railway will be gone because there won't be enough business to keep it open; another consequence of Sysco's downsizing and possible closure.

[Page 8193]

Mr. Speaker, very seldom do we get a chance to speak about Sydney Steel with the kind of conviction that we believe in, because lately no one is listening, we know that. There are a few of us in this House, two of them right behind me here, the member for Cape Breton The Lakes and the member for Cape Breton Nova, they care . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: And some beside you too.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: And my friends to my left care.

I have to tell you this, that this government has crafted this very well. You even have editorial writers in the local paper down home saying, this is finally done. But, you know what? They have said that before. They don't talk about the railway and the consequences of Sydney Steel closing to the railway and its employees. They don't talk about Hashem Scrapyard and their employees down on Brookland Street in Sydney. It employs seven or eight people. They will be gone because there will be no more scrap going over there. They don't talk about all the suppliers up here. The editorial writers are now talking about a new beginning. It is time to go. It is time to put a lid on it. A new beginning to what in Cape Breton? We still have 17 per cent unemployment down there.

AN HON. MEMBER: Officially.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Officially is right. In some areas, the member for Cape Breton East will tell you, it is over 50 per cent. I suggest in Cape Breton Centre it is not far behind that. I am going to tell you, Mr. Speaker, the people down there will remember who closed Sydney Steel, who gave it away, who reduced it to a shell of what it once was. I can stand here and say to you that when we left office there were 800 people on the books at Sydney Steel. I am going to tell you, I make no apologies to anybody for that. We were working towards making that plant work. Mind you, it wasn't an easy task, but we brought in the best people we could possibly bring in. They went out and convinced Canadian National, come back to us and we will make you a good rail and they did. They demonstrated that and got the business back.

This government wasn't interested in any new business for Sydney Steel. They weren't interested in any market potential of Sydney Steel. All they were interested in was getting rid of it. Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation came along and said, we will take it from you. By the way, Mr. Speaker, we don't know who is getting what for what yet, because we haven't seen the deal. I can tell you, I bet you that Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation is not putting much money out of their pocket for this deal, when all is said and done, if any. I will tell you, there have been a number of people in our area upset by this deal. A number of people who, in the coming months and the coming years, will look back on that and say, why did we let that happen? The reverberation of that deal is going to go right through the community, everything from scrap dealers to accounting firms who have people, for example, Peat Marwick Thorne, or KPMG it is now. They will lose that business that they

[Page 8194]

were doing down there. There will be people who do catering for workers that will lose business. There will be cleaners who lose business.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ernst & Young will get that contract.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Ernst & Young will get it, yes. That is another story. You put receivers in there and the government has never really explained to this House and to the people of Nova Scotia how much they gave Ernst & Young to do this whole process. They might as well have forgotten about them. You are giving the plant away to Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation. I would like to see who their board of directors are. That is what I want to see. Who are the board of directors of Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation. I could probably guess, but I want to see who they are. I just want to see it before I do any wild guessing here, but I am sure that the names will be familiar.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you think they will be in the agreement?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I don't know if they will be in the agreement or not, but I am not so interested in who the directors are, I am interested in how much money they have behind them and how much depth this company has. That is what I want to find out. Misrepresentation of reality, Mr. Speaker. It is all being done because they know the steelworkers couldn't resist it. They finally got the steelworkers in a corner and, like I said earlier, they put the gun to their temple and cocked the trigger. They said, you are either going to take this deal or you are out, goodbye, see you later. The steelworkers agreed with that. They knew that they were done. They knew that this crowd meant business, that this crowd was actually going to close the place and put the lock on it. Last guy out, turn the lights out. That is what was going to happen down there.

Now we are down to 200 people, Mr. Speaker, who have to apply for their jobs. They are not even going to take those 200 steelworkers and give them a job. They have to apply for their jobs down there. You and I both know what is going to happen there. They are going to do a check on every one of those 200 steelworkers and they are going to take a look at them and they are going to say, we will take you, but we are not taking you. They will split that 200. That 200, I think, have more to worry about than anybody because of the uncertainty about how they are going to come off of this deal. The 100, they know they are out the door. They are getting nothing. They would dearly love to have a meeting with the Minister of Economic Development or the Premier, because they are getting nothing out of this whole deal. The people who are getting a pension have taken that pension. You would think that the pension just started yesterday at Sydney Steel. When we put $30 million into that pension plan in the last contract to bring it up to $1,500 a month at 30 years.

Now you would think listening to this crowd that they did everything on the face of the earth to give the steelworkers the kind of pension they are getting, when in fact the pension deal now is not as good as it was then, because the benefits kick out at 60 and kick out at 65,

[Page 8195]

and the government knows that. So the steelworkers are not any better off, but they are going to be a lot worse off, because this government said if you don't take this, there is no tomorrow; see you, go on welfare. As a matter of fact some of them are on welfare now. Some of that 100, and if they don't get the pension pretty soon, their EI will be running out. Do you know what? There is another sleight of hand.

The government says no pension here until EI benefits are exhausted. In other words, you are going to have to wait. The reason for that is no one is getting the pension on Sydney Steel, nobody, until this deal is signed, sealed, and the new company owns this plant. I can tell you that is a form of blackmail, Mr. Speaker, but the steelworkers have no choice here. They have no choice to accept that contract when they did. The benefits of that contract, by the way, are going to be known to the workers once they get hired. There are some different contractual obligations there that the steelworkers are going to have to adjust to, those that get hired. I am suggesting to you some of those 200 who are eligible for jobs, will not be hired there, and that bothers me terribly because we do have expert steelworkers at Sydney Steel who can do the job. Experience is there but the will to hire them may not be there, and that concerns me.

I don't know how our caucus is going to react to this bill. There is no way we can react to it until we see the agreement with Duferco.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has one minute.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I am sure I will be back at this during the clause-by-clause debate on the bill, and after we see the agreement between Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation, whoever they are, when we see that deal, then I will be further prepared to comment on this deal, a deal that certainly leaves a lot to be desired, Mr. Speaker. I can tell you this, that steelworkers in the community of Sydney are still worried about this. Thank you very much.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 70. Bills are to come to the House one would think, to enlighten us, to change things, to improve things, to give you an idea of a direction, but this troop of Keystone Kops of a government, couldn't bring a bill in if their life depended on it that explained in any honest and forthright manner what the bill was supposed to do.

We saw these types of shenanigans going on with the health services bill last year, with the adoption bill last year, with Bill No. 62, and now with this one. Mr. Speaker, what this bill does, along with numerous other ones proposed by that government, is to tell us one very, very real fact, that the elected officials that sit across the way have nothing to do with governing this province. It is governed by bureaucrats and bureaucrats alone. I say to this

[Page 8196]

group over that way, if that is the way you want to govern, if you want to be a messenger for the bureaucrats, throw on a red tunic and become a Page because you are not doing your jobs. To sit in this House and have to look at this bill and have the minister say, you get it through second reading and we will show you the terms and agreement of the sale, is unconscionable. For that minister to say to us, today, oh, no, we cannot show it to you, but sit down and be quiet and we will give it to you.

[7:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, it says they have a lot to hide. As far back as September 25th when the Freedom of Information Act clearly gave us the right to see it, this government, instead of doing what the people of Nova Scotia wanted to do, hid behind it. It waited almost the full 30 days before responding and telling the people of Nova Scotia, no, you are not going to see the agreement. When we are ready, we will show you the agreement. This government did not have the intestinal fortitude to show Nova Scotians what was in the deal. Again, another glaring example of a government that is run by bureaucrats and not, I tell you, by the elected officials of this province.

Mr. Speaker, why will this government not show us that agreement before debate continues? Why would they not do that? What have they got to hide? What are they hiding from the people of Nova Scotia? With a further assessment of this bill I think it becomes evident. The the minister himself says it is just Opposition blather, just sit down, nod and we will show you the bill, but it is like so many other bills that come to this House and this government. There is no substance in the bill. It is, oh, we will show it to you later. Trust us, we will show it to you later.

Well, Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia want to know what they are getting and they certainly want to know what this government is doing when it comes to selling Sydney Steel. It has been widely circulated by this government that Sysco accounts for almost one-third of the debt of this province. What I would do, if those figures are accurate, I challenge this government to have a public inquiry to find out where that money went because like this deal, they do not want any light shone on their past practices of their Progressive Conservative brethren. We look at this deal and one of the glaring things, the reason we arrived at this the way we did, is because they wanted to use, as they did in the election campaign of 1999, that the steelworkers were to blame.

Mr. Speaker, time after time these men were trotted out as the devils, that it was their problem that Sysco cost Nova Scotians so much money, that it was the workers' fault. Well, there were many things done at Sydney Steel that the workers had no control of. The previous speaker spoke many words about the late R.B. Cameron and his folly in Sydney Steel and the disastrous effects that that had. We look at modernization, especially as it relates to the electric arc furnace, well, you know, we all remember that great Tippins deal

[Page 8197]

that the former Tory Premier banged out for us that cost this government millions and millions of dollars.

Right now, if you went over to Ernst &Young who helped broker this deal, they will tell you, that was one of the stumbling blocks in the sale, was the electric arc furnace. I will tell you why, Mr. Speaker, because when they did put that electric arc furnace in, they didn't have the proper transmission lines, so that electric arc furnace, since it has been in, has been operating at best 50 per cent capacity. Is that the steelworkers fault? Did the steelworkers do that? No, I will tell you, a Tory Premier did that. The steelworkers didn't go out and bang out the Tippins agreement. A Tory Government did that. Now they are telling Nova Scotians, we did this, what nobody else could do, we did it. We boldly stepped forward and did it. What did they do? They caused more unemployment in Cape Breton, they pit worker against worker. Is that anything to be proud of?

We don't have to go down the road about the 1999 campaign, Mr. Speaker, and see how they pitted part of this province against the other, in a disgusting display of vote getting. We know that previous Tory Governments have cost you millions of dollars, and we are going to be different. No, Mr. Speaker, they kind of left that out of the ad. They kind of left out how that government was on the hook for millions and millions, and probably if the $3 billion figure is proper, they are probably in for an awfully big chunk of that $3 billion, that mismanagement of that government, Mr. Speaker.

Now, I have got to stay on this tack of what they are doing to the worker, Mr. Speaker. Nobody on that side would want to say, during the election that for years workers in that mill accepted below industry standard for salaries, below industry standard for medical benefits, below industry standard for pensions. There was no mention of that. There was not a mention of that. There was just that stark card, as if this thing was just sucking the life blood out of Nova Scotia. There was no mention. You know, Mr. Speaker, if I said to you the names Frank Petrie, Cordell Smith, Dempsey Woodland, Joe MacPhee, they wouldn't mean anything to you in particular, as a group. They don't mean anything to the minister. But I will tell you, they are all employees of Sydney Steel. Now, am I saying the minister should have known each and every employee of Sydney Steel? Certainly not. But what I am saying is probably the only employees he does know at Sydney Steel are the odd ones that may have been on the negotiating team. But I will assure people in this House all of those people lived and worked in industrial Cape Breton, brought home a paycheque, paid taxes, sent their children to school, sent their children to university, and as I said earlier, brought them to Halifax, bought cars, bought groceries. But that was all so conveniently left out of the equation. Just a stark picture of a steel plant, and we are going to close it.

What is in it? What is in it for this government other than we are keeping a promise. I think of something the Premier said last week about telling people outside of metro and his own riding how often he goes to Cape Breton. Well, Mr. Speaker, he should. He should go to Cape Breton. I mean, it is the second largest concentration of population in the province.

[Page 8198]

So, he should be going to Cape Breton a lot. But again, what was more telling, what was left out of that statement was that he and his minister stayed away from Sydney Steel and industrial Cape Breton when this was bubbling over. They weren't willing to go and get on the line and try to resolve this. No, no, no, no. What this government would rather do is send their minions down, and until the pension deal was banged out, for a period I would say of about 60 days, this Premier nor the minister would show up, unless it was maybe clandestine, or down in the Strait area.

So they did not care about Cape Breton. So this idea of "spent more time there" doesn't wash. The only reason we even got a deal was this silly game of brinkmanship. This government couldn't budge; there is no more money in the pension pot, there is nothing, we have sliced it, we have diced it, we have done everything we can with it and we can't find anymore money and we are not adding any money to it, end of deal. There is nothing else there. Lo and behold after we received this FOI, they come out of Cabinet and they say, we have spoken to Duferco and they have kind of broadened their plans and we know what we are going to do, there is $5 million to $6 million there for the pension. All of a sudden, bang. When there is a little bit of light shone on them all of a sudden they can find this.

The question should be, why weren't you sitting down with Duferco in the front end to see what was there? But they were trying to do things in isolation and, again, if this minister were to get up and explain this bill and why you want exclusions in this bill, he can't. It goes back to my statement previously of being messengers. They do not understand their own bill, and the consequences it is going to have. Yet, they will have us believe they are the ones who banged out the deal. I think if you talk to knowledgeable people who have negotiated collective agreements and they will tell you, especially people who were in that room, if Duferco was in there and it was left up to the province's messenger, there would be no deal today. There would be none. This government has mismanaged this file since its inception.

Let us go back to the great deal they got at the end of 1999. It sold. It sold. Sysco is sold. Well, it was not sold. There was no deal, so what kind of shenanigans went on there? What happened in a span of about 13 or 14 days from a deal to no deal? Nobody knows. This government has not been forthright about it, yet, they will tell us in this House, oh no, vote for that deal and we will show you the sale agreement after it is over. Well, it just doesn't work that way. Why wouldn't this minister table that document before we started debate on this so we could see it? I would say that he is not allowed to. The bureaucrats will not let him. He does not run his department, the bureaucrats do. That is the problem.

I look across the way and I think most would say, show him the deal. If that is what it is going to take to shut him up, show him the deal. Why won't we see the deal? Would you buy a car without seeing it? Would you buy anything without seeing the terms and conditions? It is as simple as that, because there are some unanswered questions about Duferco. Whether it is Duferco U.S. or Duferco N.S., I am not really going to beat that one

[Page 8199]

down because there is some real problems there, but I have other problems. As I asked the minister in this House last week and I didn't get a substantive answer on it, in this deal there are millions of dollars worth of scrap steel, who gets that? Who gets that scrap? That is a substantial piece of money. There is more scrap steel on the ground at Sysco than the money they took from the casinos for the charities. That was so important to take that $2 million from charity and put it in general revenue. Yet, they will allow millions of dollars to go to a company we don't know about. Why not? Why won't they tell us?

[7:45 p.m.]

Other questions come up. When Ernst & Young were heading up the receivership, who made the money? Who gained the profits from the sale of rails while Ernst & Young were in there? Did it go in the province's general revenue? Did it go to Sysco to pay down some of its debt? Where did it go? Questions that need to be answered. Questions that can't be answered because this government will not table documents until after second reading. Why? I have no idea why this government would want to hide that.

When you are talking about that, how much did they make in the sale of those rails, $20 million? Where did it go? Even the lowest common denominator, who they probably kind of played to to get their support, would kind of go to the government, ooh, that doesn't seem like a good idea, you guys were supposed to help reduce stuff, what did you do with the $20 million? Was it an inducement to get Duferco to buy it, and how much did Duferco pay for it? They are simple questions and this government will not give us a straightforward answer.

The role of Ernst & Young, in general, in this deal, are they now going to become representatives in this province for Duferco? It seems awful close, they give this company the nod then, all of a sudden, they are doing business. There were many rumours around the fact that the gentleman who was heading the receivership team was going back and forth to Switzerland on the dime of Duferco.

Mr. Speaker, if that was accurate, that causes me problems. I have to make sure - because I don't want to look like I am defaming anybody here on the floor of this House I want to say rumours, and I think they are rumours, and I say to the government that has to be answered. If that was going on, then it causes some problems. They have to be answered.

What is Sydney Steel going to look like after this deal is done? Who is going to be working there? Are we going to go to a temp company and get a bunch of people in there, after Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation decides, no, you are a liability because you have some outstanding WCB claims and we don't want you on-site. What is the term that a lot of IR people use? Refresh. They want to "refresh" the workforce. It is a buzzword for getting rid of the older workers. Refreshing it.

[Page 8200]

What do we see? You work in heavy industry, and there are some inherent problems in heavy industry when you have worked there all your lives. You tend to get injuries that you wouldn't get around a desk job, I might say. This is heavy industry. Is that what they are going to do? They are going to say, well you have WCB claim open, we are getting rid of you. Is that what it is? What parameters are they to use to hire and fire? Why doesn't the natural progression of job security take place? Why is it? If this is such a forward-thinking company, why wouldn't they be more than happy to retrain these workers if the style of work is going to be different? Making pallets in steel is a great deal different than rails, but still you basically know it because it has to go through that same process to make the steel.

This government would rather have us here and blame us for trying to filibuster some kind of deal, filibuster about this bill rather than give us the information. Why is it? Why is it time after time this government wants to tell people in this province that they are open and consultative, yet every time something comes to this House, it is shrouded in secrecy? I don't know where they come from in this House to say that they are an open and consultative group. We saw it just last week doing stuff in a whole different direction to where you should be going. Was the Premier talking last week? Did he go and see the Transition House in Sydney or the Every Woman's Centre in Sydney, or the outreach program in New Waterford, or Loaves & Fishes in Sydney, or the food bank in Glace Bay? Did he go and sit down and talk to them? Did he talk to them about realigning social services? No. He went and told the chamber of commerce here in Halifax. That's who he went and spoke to. They are real great stakeholders for the poor in this province. You know, they have really been responsive to the poor in this province. They really, really help the poor in this province. This is the type of consultation this government does.

The consultation process with this government so far is are we cutting deep enough? You know full well, Mr. Premier, that the president of that organization said you are too slow in your cuts, and you made the turtle analogy. There is much I can say about that turtle, but I will leave that alone for another day. But that is wrong, Mr. Premier. That is not being consultative. That is being heavy-handed. Same with this Sysco bill. It is being heavy-handed. I think it is important to say this because you have the Clerk of the Executive Council who has a self-fulfilling prophecy here. He sat in this very Chamber in committee and told members when they asked questions that this government is going to do something that no other government did, and that was sell Sydney Steel. You know, that was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Here is a guy, and what he had to do was get a deal at all costs, so he will save face. Now we are supposed to believe these guys that this is a good deal for Nova Scotians.

Let's bring it back to dollars because this government doesn't see people, it sees dollars. So I will ask him, if we had the sales agreement, I would like to know things like, is this company going to pay taxes, or is a grant in lieu going to be in effect? What is that? It is in the regulations. It is in the terms of the agreement. We don't know. That is important. I just came back from Cape Breton today, and it is devastating what is going on down there. I am

[Page 8201]

sure it is strapping what little resources the municipality has. So what are we going to do? Is that one of the many regulations that they are going to be allowed to walk away from? Is that it, Mr. Speaker? Is this one of the ones where they are going to say, well, taxation doesn't apply to you? These are the things there.

Mr. Speaker, what about this whole idea of this government allowing this company in this bill when it buys it to supersede other Acts? What other Acts are they allowed to supersede? Is it OH&S, is it WCB? I go back to what I said before, the OH&S or the WCB stuff, all of a sudden they are not on the hook for paying WCB. Are they going to get a special rate? Are they going to be able to say the standard industry code and experience rating doesn't affect you, Duferco, you are exempt from that. We are going to set some ridiculously low figure of 50 cents or 25 cents on the hundred that protects your employees - there is no basis in reality. These are all ways of this government saying in one face, oh, we are selling Sysco, and some of their business friends will say, oh, gee, that's good, they have the truth of their convictions, but even for their friends here, when they start to dissect this bill, realize that this government is being less than forthright with them. What it can't do through the front door, as they say, they are doing it through the back door. They will be propping up this industry with maybe reduced rates at WCB, causing a further pressure on that organization for their unfunded liability. Is that one of the Acts that they are exempt from?

These are things we have to knew. What about environmental? Are they going to be exempt from environmental repercussions? Can they actually supersede environmental Acts? Can they pollute at will? We don't know. I will suggest that this minister does not know what is in this bill because if he did he would be up saying, oh no, that is not fact. Yet he does not respond to any of this. Mr. Speaker, there are many problems with this bill and they are not being answered. As I said when I rose in my place that bills, by and large, should answer questions. They should answer more than they ask but this bill gives us all kinds of questions to ask, and not nice ones.

Again, I go back to, will it exempt the Cape Breton Regional Municipality from receiving taxes from this group? Is that one of them? Does it then make two forms of justice in this province; one for every other employer except Duferco? Is Duferco allowed to do whatever it wants? Is it allowed to pollute? Is it allowed to delay in paying certain services? Is it allowed to do all these things? We don't know and this minister does not know the answer to them - or refuses to answer them.

Mr. Speaker, this whole idea of this government boasting about its sale of Sydney Steel is interesting because we can take Tory Governments back to the days of 1986 and John Buchanan's boasting about the new $80 million blast furnace that has been built at Sysco fulfilling a 1984 Tory election promise. Supposedly phase one of the project to resuscitate Sysco as a major integrated steel producer. We all know that not to be fact, it did no such

[Page 8202]

thing. What it did do, instead of making an integrated mill out of it, really kept it down as a one product mill, making rails. Yet that is what he said.

What are we going to do now, Mr. Speaker? Are we going to take the word of the 1986 Tories or the 2000 Tories? Why should we believe either one of them? These guys are telling us, we have a deal but we ain't showing it to you. Just stand up, say yea, move it on and we will show you the deal. We don't even know if the deal that the minister is talking about, that if he is going to not have little white-outs on it. We don't know what is there. He didn't say that, he didn't say the total agreement. He said, I'll put an agreement on the table, I'll put the agreement. What is going to be there for us to see?

[8:00 p.m.]

We have seen before the follies of Tory Governments when they get involved with large corporations. Mr. Speaker, all we have to do is look down the road to Pictou and look at Westray. Look what they gave us. If we remember that inquiry, the Justice Richards Inquiry, we remember the Premier of that day getting up and blaming the workers for what happened there, much the same thing as this government has been doing with Sysco, blaming the workers. They blame the workers for millions and billions of dollars. Whose fault is that?

Who was the Industry Minister, Mr. Speaker, when Sysco was hit with the huge countervail?

AN HON. MEMBER: Who?

MR. CORBETT: A fellow named Don Cameron, the same guy who sat in the witness box and blamed workers for the Westray tragedy, Mr. Speaker, the same individual. Where does that leave us? It leaves an orphan steel plant that could not compete in the most lucrative rail market in the world. That was the United States. We were not able to compete because that great captain of industry, that lover of Cape Breton, the lover of the workers of this province, was asleep at the switch, yet again, the formidable Don Cameron, a godfather to most across the way.

Mr. Speaker, it is a shame, yet, some remnants of that government are still over there, and I think remnants is a good word. Those remnants from that era are awfully close to the Premier's right and left ear. So we have to go back. It is not the bureaucrats who are moving the agenda. You think it is the right and left ear. I think we have got to be doubly cognizant of what is going on here because they are asking us, as legislators, to approve a bill where there is a gaping hole that you could drive a truck through of information that is missing. We have asked to have that through an FOI. Then the chief architect of the deal denied access to that. Now you have the minister telling us, just sit down, be quiet, don't ask questions and we will table this document. I challenge that minister to tell us why it is important that he hide this information, not only from us as legislators, but from, indeed, all of Nova Scotians.

[Page 8203]

It is a government that, when they bring legislation into this House, cannot be trusted. That is why we need to see that. Yet this minister will hide behind information supplied to him by the Clerk of the Executive Council and say, oh no, you are not getting that. I have to sanitize that document, perhaps, before you can see it. Let's go there.

Mr. Speaker, we have all these unanswered questions out there. Yet, this government wants us to stand still and not do anything. I have already, in this debate, asked this minister if, indeed, what they are saying is accurate and they are blaming Sysco for one-third of the debt of this province, then I think if one industry alone - we are not talking about a department, we are not talking about Health or Education or Social Services, we are talking about an industry run by this government for 30 years - is responsible for one-third of this government's debt. Do you not think that deserves a public inquiry, to show the people of Nova Scotia where their money has gone?

Mr. Speaker, that excites me. Why would you not want to do that? Why would you not want that done? Why would you not want some kind of forensic-style audit done on that to find out for 30 years where did your money go? You know this is a government that is inclusive, this is a government that is in touch with people. This government wants to be touchy-feely. Yet they do not want any light shone on their past mistakes. You bring up the name of former Leaders and they bristle.

Now, you know, Mr. Speaker, by no stretch of the imagination did this gang across the way do this alone. They had some real good cohorts here. A headline from November 8, 1994, the sale of Sydney Steel Corporation to Minmetals is final, to quote Bernie Boudreau in a statement in this very House. It is final.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is running in Dartmouth, isn't he?

MR. CORBETT: Yes. Another one; the sale of Sysco to Global Steel which claims it has bought Minmetals' interests, this is from Manning MacDonald. He says, the province will be able to hammer out the remaining contractual things we want at a meeting in the next week. That was November 1, 1996.

Now, Mr. Speaker, a cruel irony about Sydney Steel too, for quite a few years, the Liberals in particular like doing this, and this was another one, they liked this dog and pony so much that the Tories bought into it, is bringing out around Christmas time the sale of Sysco. You can go in the books and for a span of two to three years around Christmas or New Years it was, Sysco sold. That would be laughable if it was not so cruel. I hear the minister prattling on over there, but he is not willing to get up on his feet and defend this nonsense bill, but he will prattle on. That problem there, like I said, would be laughable if you did not really think back and see how they played with people's emotions. Yet it is fine and dandy.

[Page 8204]

Let's look at some more dates here, Mr. Speaker, December 31, 1999, Hamm's deadline to sell or close is reached with the announcement of the sale to Rail Associates. Rail Associates, well, that was a great company, was it not? Was that not a great company? What a great job that did for Nova Scotia, just tremendous. I would like to know who helped bang that deal out and, do you know what, I would suspect it would be our good friend, Jim Spurr. He was probably involved with it, that great Nova Scotian, that great friend of Sydney Steel, indeed a great friend of Cape Bretoners, but on January 20th of the same year the Tories confirmed the Rail Associates deal is ended, a new sale process begins with Ernst & Young managing the plant and shutting it down after all orders have been completed. That was a great deal, the Rail Associates deal. Did they come to this House and explain to the members of this House? Did they explain to Nova Scotians what happened there? No. It was like the cheque didn't come in on time so we stopped it. That was it.

There was no basis of sale because if you listened, they had a sale, they did not have a sale and then they sort of spin, they say we never really said we had a sale. Mr. Speaker, again, this would be laughable if indeed people's lives were not on the line for this, but yet without any worry about, you know, like whether steelworkers had secured work or not, they continued, time after time, to bring out these false deadlines and put undue pressure on these people, these families.

I would suspect this has been a hallmark of this government since it has been elected. It has been so out of touch with families in this province. They made these decisions, as if Sydney Steel was this monolith to deal with, that nobody matters, it is this huge corporate entity. Well, thanks to this government and preceding Liberal Governments, it is not a huge entity, it is a very small entity with very few people working. A lot of it had to do with this government. We can talk all we want about what was good for Nova Scotia, but what is good for Nova Scotia, quite succinctly, is for this group to be open and transparent, as they like to say they are, and show us the deal. Yet, they will not do that.

Mr. Speaker, this bill will also go, at some point, and talk about a statute of limitations, I think, for a year against lawsuits for Sysco or Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation. Why? Why put that in there? Why a year? How will this impact on the joint action group trying to clean up parts of Muggah Creek and some of the former coke ovens properties? What impact will that have? Yet, push the minister on that, and you get a hearty shrug - he doesn't know. Most people will tell you, I guess, that in deals like this, six years would be a normal practice, but yet, no.

Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about here, I believe, is something much more dangerous than your ordinary statute of limitations, because what you are doing here is - as we all know, Sydney Steel is part of one of the worst environmental problems in this country, indeed all of North America, so we don't know what is emanating from some of those sites. We are not talking about somebody getting something as easily diagnosed as a broken arm or something like that, we are talking about environmental diseases. We are talking about,

[Page 8205]

time after time after time, you will see movies, one just recently was Erin Brokovich, where a lot of these things do not . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is a little too much chatter and other noises going on in the Chamber right now. I would suggest that if the members are having trouble paying attention, they leave the Chamber instead of making noises. The member for Cape Breton Centre has the floor.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, what I was talking about is the limitations put on people being able to bring suits forward. As I was mentioning before I was interrupted, we are talking about one of the most polluted sites in all of North America, yet, this government wants to give people a year to come forward to make claims. There was a movie just recently, Erin Brokovich, and that highlighted the plights of contaminated lands. We all know that these things don't transpire over a 12 month period, it takes years. Yet, we want to, save and except for this group.

Why? Who banged out this deal? If this is part of the sale agreement, it is important that Nova Scotians know who banged out this deal. Again, I will tell you that I bet the minister was not at the table for any substantive talks. His eyes and ears was Jim Spurr. That is who Nova Scotians are depending on to bang out a deal. That is not good enough. This minister, I would say if he was in the military would be charged with dereliction of duty. Check Beauchesne, if he was in the military, because this agreement, if he wanted to, he could put it on the table today.

[8:15 p.m.]

The minister said sit down and I will. Why wouldn't he do that? That is the question. Why would he include such things in there as the one year liability. Why would he do that? Again, what I find really offensive about this bill is that while we are sitting here debating it, it seems as though this government likes to remove itself, wash its hands of the human factor. There has been no real desire to help the workers. Everything was done, as the saying goes, they gave them two cups of poison and told them, well, you can drink out of either one.

You can either have a sub-standard pension package that you will have a hard time living on, or you can veto the deal and have absolutely no job with even a worse pension plan. Those were their options. Then they take it further down the road and say, here is the collective agreement and the workers remaining better accept that collective agreement or there is no pension plan. The pension plan is null and void.

What did that leave them? Again, you look at in the aspects of people voting on that collective agreement with no other fact, they knew if that was to be lost, they wouldn't get their pensions. So they had to vote for that collective agreement. They had to vote for a collective agreement they really didn't believe in, but because of the way this government

[Page 8206]

dealt with the workers, that is what they had to buy. They had to buy a pig in a poke, so to speak.

Now, they want us to do the same here. They want us to pass a bill that the great majority of facts are not even known to the minister. He does not know what certain acts this bill will supersede. He does not. Why won't he say that right now? This is unheard of with a private company, yet, just let it go through second reading and you will get to see your document. Well, I say to him that we went to the freedom of information office and they agreed with us. Indeed, you could say they agreed with Nova Scotians that the deal should be released, save and except a few clauses. Yet, this minister and the Clerk at the Executive Council decided no, we know better, we know better than the commissioner. We know better that Nova Scotians don't want to see that, we know much more about that and therefore it is better that we keep it secret. It is better to be flippant about it and say we will show it to you when we are ready, not when an entity of this province says you should, but when I am ready.

I think that is a very flippant and, indeed, arrogant way to put this. Why wouldn't you do that? Why wouldn't you do what you were ordered to do by that freedom of information commissioner, Mr. Speaker, other than you don't believe we should have it or you may not indeed respect that commissioner. I don't know, but these are questions that I think are hanging out there and this minister will not answer.

So, here we are, being told by this minister to shut up, sit down, and we will table some documents. Sorry, Mr. Minister, that is not the way we do things. It is still a democracy here, and that is not the way the affairs of this province should be conducted. You, I believe, Mr. Minister, have a right, to Nova Scotians, to show them the facts before (Interruption) The minister says obligation. An obligation he obviously doesn't take very seriously because he would have been forthright with it, as opposed to back-dooring it.

So - I challenge that minister - why won't he do that on the front end? Why, after being ordered to do that, did you say no?

These are questions you are going to have to answer, I believe, if and when you table that document. You are going to have to tell Nova Scotians why that company deserves certain privileges that other companies in this province will not enjoy. You are going to have to answer to Nova Scotians why. Why are they better than all these other new companies that are starting up in this province? Why are they given rights and privileges that go far beyond necessity, Mr. Speaker? Why are they doing that?

There are questions I would like to see answered because, whatever happens to the sale of Sysco, there will still be high rates of unemployment in Cape Breton. There will still be high rates of community services recipients, but we will see after what happens with Bill No. 62, because that may do them, indeed, long-term harm.

[Page 8207]

Mr. Speaker, this bill and this government goes a long way in not answering any of these questions. This government has gone out of its way to put up barriers for the workers and the families at Sydney Steel. Well, from the onset of the Tippins agreement to today, it wouldn't make me be very proud to be a Tory around Sydney Steel. I told you at the outset that one of the large things, this Tory Government, to the stewardship of people like Don Cameron, was asleep at the wheel when the countervail came down, and told people never mind, don't listen. The member for Sackville-Cobequid questioned that very member when he was minister for industry in this province, and he ignored his advice.

Mr. Speaker, we go and we get an electric arc furnace built because, again, due to the foresight of Don Cameron, we see a privatized Nova Scotia Power Corporation. When they were in place, they couldn't negotiate a deal that would service proper lines to an electric arc furnace so it could operate at 100 per cent capacity. No, those forward-thinking Tories did that to Sydney Steel. That is what they did, and now they are asking us, oh, just buy this deal, you will be all right. Well, that doesn't work. Those few steelworkers who remain - and they may not be former steelworkers, they may be coming from a manpowered temp company if Duferco has its way - working at Sydney Steel will be really short-shafted

I want this minister to understand that his predecessors have failed Sysco miserably and we are deathly afraid that he will fail them also, and there is nothing coming from that side of the House that gives me any kind of warmth, if you will, Mr. Speaker, that this government has gotten a decent deal, because, as I said earlier, what they couldn't get in the front door, they are certainly trying to get in the back door. They are going to get caught in this one because they are telling one group, oh no, we are going to fulfil your mandate for you, and it is not the government's mandate. It is the Chamber of Commerce's mandate here in Halifax. We are going to fulfil it for you. Then, what they are trying to do is to soften the blow so they might pretend that they are "red" Tories. They don't protect them. They are not protecting the workers. They are making secret deals with a company that has proven themselves as negotiators, were Rail Associates. So they went in behind closed doors with their goods friends and tried to make a deal with Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation.

I think it is incumbent and, as I think the minister said himself, an obligation that he should have put that deal on the table before this bill was presented, Mr. Speaker, so we could have it, all Nova Scotians could have it and all of Nova Scotia could be served, not just a few friends. Thank you.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to know where to begin in addressing the subject of this bill, because it seems to me like only yesterday when I turned on the television at suppertime and the announcer announced that Hawker-Siddeley of Canada had made a decision to close the Sydney steel plant down once and for all. That was on Friday, October 13, 1967. From that day to this, we who live in the Sydney Steel area

[Page 8208]

have had the threat of the closure of that industry hanging over our heads as a matter of day-to-day existence. So this bill certainly doesn't deal with a new subject. It deals with something that has been a major part of my life, in terms of a political concern, for the past 33 years, a long time.

At the time that happened, I wasn't a member of the Legislature. But I can tell you, from the time I was elected, which was three years later on October 13, 1970, from that day to this day, I have always made Sydney Steel my number one priority in terms of the various issues and concerns that I tried to address in my public service, because it was the largest employer in my community. I was interested in the coal mines. I was interested in the railway. I was interested in Marine Atlantic. I was interested in agriculture, forestry, in the fishery, and in education and in the health care delivery system and all the other services and industries that are found in any community. But, above all, I had to be concerned about the welfare of the Sydney Steel Corporation because that was the bread and butter of the bulk of my constituents, either directly or indirectly.

The steel plant is located in my constituency. I think most people know that. It abuts the riding of Cape Breton South, and I am not going to quibble over boundaries, because the area where the steel plant is, nobody lives in. On one side is Cape Breton South and, on the other side, is Cape Breton Nova. So I am not really going to say the steel plant is in my constituency as if the steel plant was one of my voters. The fence would mark, I suppose, where the people start living. On one side is one riding and on the other side it is in the other. But if you look at the geographical description of the boundaries of the constituency of Cape Breton Nova, as they are presently drawn and have been for some years, you will see that the site of the plant itself is legally within the constituency of Cape Breton Nova, so it has been of some concern to me.

I recall the Regan years and the Buchanan years. They flash through my mind in an instant, and the Cameron years too, yes, and the Savage years and the MacLellan years, all those years. I am not going to deal in detail with the record of Sydney Steel under the Government of Roger Bacon, that might be perhaps a study someone could do sometime if they want to write a thesis or a dissertation. But I think I could, quite relevantly to this bill deal, with the history of Sydney Steel under the Russell MacLellan Liberal Government when the member for Cape Breton South was the minister responsible, because that is in the immediate past. That is the contrast that I draw between what was and what is.

[8:30 p.m.]

What was? Well, I appreciated the speech made by the member for Cape Breton South. I think it is one of the best speeches I have heard him give here in the House for a long time, because he spoke from his experience, and he spoke from the heart, and he didn't read a prepared text. He just told it the way it was. He gave us the straight goods. I can tell you when that member was the minister for Sydney Steel, he has a motto or a credo that he lived

[Page 8209]

by and it was this: so long as he was in the government, the Sydney Steel plant would never be closed. That was the faith by which he lived. Now, it could be argued well, I suppose if push had have come to shove and the rug had been pulled from under his feet, he would have resigned, but he was a very powerful and influential force within that government. The powers that be listened to him, as well they ought to have, and he was insistent that the Sydney Steel plant remain open, and remain open it did.

Now he admits that there were flaws in that generalization, that there were moments of unhappiness, and there were tensions, and there were stresses, and there were strains. And I agree that is so. You know, we don't live in a perfect world, Mr. Speaker. I wouldn't ever claim that under the Liberal Party government has been perfect. Heaven is up there, it is not down here. But, I would say that it has been relatively much better than under Conservative Governments. That is the difference, and it has also been relatively much better than under NDP Governments. I won't get into enlightening the House right now about how disillusioned I became as a young man when I made the pilgrimage to Manitoba, as if I was making the pilgrimage to Mecca, under the government of Ed Schreyer. I discovered to my horror how terribly right-wing that government was as compared to the Regan Government then in power in Nova Scotia. That was when my political education began, Mr. Speaker. But, I can tell you that where the NDP has actually been in power as compared to when they have been in Opposition groups lobbying for whatever they thought they could gain some votes on, their record in government has not been good. Because if it was good, then we would have NDP Governments everywhere, but the inability of that Party to attract power is based on its very poor record when in power, particularly in the key province of Ontario, which I know you will agree has a great deal to do with the contents of this bill.

So to return back to Sydney Steel. What I was trying to say was that the record of the Liberals when they were in charge of Sydney Steel was much better, relatively speaking than that of the Conservatives, because there was a very basic and fundamental difference between having a minister and appointing as minister for Sysco the one member of Cabinet who said, my continued participation in government hinges on one thing, and that is the rest of you fellows support me in keeping that steel plant down in my area open. So that was the basis on which he proceeded. I don't think that fact is widely enough known, because I believe that in years to come when the political history of Cape Breton is being written, there will be in due course, I believe, recognition of the fact that certain key players played a very major role in keeping what little we had going; the role of Allan J. MacEachen for example, the role of the honourable David Dingwall, who was rejected despite all that he had done. The record of accomplishment that man had and the role he played in keeping Cape Breton afloat through very difficult times cannot be underestimated. In my view, the honourable member for Cape Breton South sits in the same league as do Dingwall and MacEachen. (Applause) Among the great builders of the modern Cape Breton industrial society. But, of course, when a Liberal Government gets removed from office, and the Tories get in, then you have trouble. This bill represents trouble indeed.

[Page 8210]

Just to draw something of the contrast between this bill and what was, I have here a very nice handsome attractive catalogue for the products of the Sydney Steel Corporation which was prepared - all these beautiful, three columns of copy inside in English, en Francais and also in Spanish; three languages because this was for global distribution.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if the member would permit an introduction? Thank you.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury on an introduction.

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the member for Cape Breton Nova for allowing me to do this introduction. In the gallery we have from the Strait area, the Mayor of the Town of Port Hawkesbury, Billy Joe MacLean and also Mr. Phil MacDonald, the Executive Director of the Strait-Highlands Regional Development Agency. I will ask the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome to our guests. I hope they are enjoying the debate.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: I wonder if the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova would entertain a question?

MR. MACEWAN: Go ahead.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask, listening to the debate this evening from this side and from that side, do you support the attempt to sell Sydney Steel?

MR. MACEWAN: Do I support motherhood and apple pie? I suppose I would say yes, I support motherhood and I support apple pie too. I support full employment at Sydney Steel, I even support this catalogue although it contains the portrait of one of my NDP opponents, Mr. Terry Crawley, sitting there at his computer making steel. I am saying it is a good catalogue, it was a good steel plant, that made good products . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Very well.

MR. MACEWAN: . . . it goes by pretty quick.

So I was telling you about what we were doing when we were in power with this steel plant because the bill is about the steel plant and it is about selling the assets of the Sydney Steel Corporation. When we were in power, the newspaper headlines were, Sysco Gearing Up For Full Operations, Sysco Requalifies As Supplier Of CN Rails, Sysco Union Optimistic, Minister Upbeat About Sysco. That is the honourable member for Cape Breton

[Page 8211]

South. Sysco Steel Plant's Order Book Full, 700 Employed says Sysco Official; a clipping here in my hand from June 26, 1999 under the Russell MacLellan Liberal Government. That was performance, Mr. Speaker. That was performance. That is what this Party did when we were in power. (Interruption)

I am not prepared to answer any interruptions from the honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill. If he has a point of order, let him rise, otherwise I want to have the floor, it is my turn right now. He will have his turn later.

When we were in power, we came up with this Sysco business plan, Sydney Steel Corporation business plan and I have a copy of it here and it has already been tabled in the House on a previous occasion, so there it was. That was what we were going to do to develop the steel plant. Right there in black and white and the Tories were against it and the NDP was against it, but it was real, it was positive, it was a plan for moving forward and it was approved by the government of the day.

In fact, I have here in my hand the very press release from the government from Communications Nova Scotia on March 12, 1999 under the heading of Sysco, Sydney Steel Corporation Business Plan Approved and here I have another clipping from that time from the Russell MacLellan Liberal Government, Thursday, March 18, 1999. The headline is, Sysco Team Expects to Sell Rails to the United States. There it is in black and white.

And also, Mr. Speaker, considering the wish of the honourable member opposite to interrupt my speaking, I think I should table here a copy of this excellent article entitled, Sysco: the Opposition Reaction from the time when the Russell MacLellan Government was in power. This one dated March 23, 1999. A Column from the House by Paul MacEwan, MLA for Cape Breton Nova.

Without reading the article - although I would like to table it for the enlightenment of any who crave enlightenment - I would like to say that the article reflects a marked lack of enthusiasm for the plans of our government to develop this great Nova Scotian industry on the part of both the Tory and the NDP Parties.

We know what the Tory record is. I am going to deal with the NDP in a little bit, but I want to concentrate first of all on the Tories because we do not forget the Tory record with reference to Sydney Steel and it has something to do with why Conservative candidates in Cape Breton South got 4 per cent and Cape Breton Nova got 2 per cent and Cape Breton Centre I believe got 5 per cent of the vote in the last provincial election. It is incredible normally for a major political Party to get that low of a vote. That is the kind of vote perhaps the Natural Law Party might expect to get, but the Progressive Conservative Party where I come from gets that kind of vote because nobody wants anything to do with them because they are viewed as, what should I say, enemies of the people. That may sound a little

[Page 8212]

extreme. They are certainly not viewed as friends of the people, I will put it that way, to give the reciprocal form.

Why are they not viewed as friends of the people? Well, our people are readers of newspapers and they pick up such things as this one, Hamm closed Sysco. This was when the Leader of the Opposition, the Leader of Her Majesty's Official Rump, as he was then, came out against Sydney Steel in March 1999, and requested that the Sydney Steel plant be closed down once and for all. That stand was taken by the Tory Party after caucus discussion. It represented a reversal of their previous position because up until that time the Tory Party had supported the efforts of the Russell MacLellan Liberal Government to try to make Sydney Steel work and to sell steel products from Sydney and to keep people working there, but in March 1999, last year, they reversed their policy.

This shocked the union at the Steelworker's Hall in Sydney because they had thought, they had been led to believe by the then Leader of Her Majesty's Third Party that he was on their side, yes. He made several pilgrimages down to Sydney and assured the steelworkers, I am with you, I am on your side, but then we saw when they got back to the mainland and rethought matters, they came out with a new program, the new Tory policy of closure once and for all, shut down the Sydney Steel plant because they had calculated that if an election was held, if the MacLellan Government was pulled down by the NDP and an election was held, that they would probably get elected to power if they came out hard against Sydney Steel because that would appeal to anti-Cape Breton votes on the mainland. So that was their strategy for winning power and it worked for them. Of course, it also created a situation where they got 2 per cent, 3 per cent or 4 per cent of the vote in industrial Cape Breton because they were so totally opposed by the people.

But they pursued this line, not once, but repeatedly. I have here a slew of newspaper articles. I am not going to table them all, but I think I will table this one, Hamm - get rid of Sysco, March 24, 1999. Here, let me table this one, too, Sysco, the Opposition reaction by Paul MacEwan. Now, these are samples of the type of publicity that emanated from the Tory Party over that time. I just held up the Sysco business plan a couple of minutes ago. I have here a large attack on that business plan from the then Leader of Her Majesty's Third Party, Sysco business plan a fraud says Hamm. Another headline, Tory Leader defends plan to close Sysco, and so on and so on.

In other words, their call for a Sysco closure was not a once in a blue moon type thing, but rather a consistent series of almost daily demands, close the steel plant, shut her down, put the steelworker out of work, steamroll the steel plant off the map and this coincided with a press campaign in the Halifax newspapers with cartoons showing B-52 bombers dropping bombs on the Sydney Steel plant under the banner of a solution for Sysco once and for all and various similar forms of what I could only call hate propaganda directed towards the Sydney steelworker and the Sydney Steel operation on the part of the Halifax press.

[Page 8213]

So that was the climate of opinion in which these attacks on Sysco were coming from the Tory Party. They were singing in chorus with Halifax newspapers that were trying to incite public opinion against a productive Nova Scotian industry that was keeping large numbers of people working in Sydney. I could go on about the record of the Tories with respect to Sydney Steel when our Party was in power, but let me deal briefly also with the record of the NDP during that time because the NDP would have you believe now that they are all on the side of the steelworker.

Where was the NDP, Mr. Speaker, when they had a government in power that was prepared to stand by the steelworker, namely the Russell MacLellan Liberal Government with Manning MacDonald as Minister responsible for Sysco? I can tell you this, sir, that their policy, their stance, their attitude in those days was characterized by two features: first, a marked lack of enthusiasm for the positive things we were doing for the steelworker and for the steel plant; secondly, combined with, when possible, sabotage of our efforts to keep steelworkers working at Sydney.

[8:45 p.m.]

Now, as for their lack of enthusiasm, there are all kinds of items that could be tabled to document that. I think perhaps I might table this one here from the New Waterford Community Press of May 4, 1999, under the heading Debate over Sysco's Future Continues by Frank Corbett, MLA for Cape Breton Centre. With reference to the Sysco business plan he concludes that he and the NDP caucus are willing to wait for the facts before making up their minds on the Sysco business plan. In other words, they could not come out and say, yes, they support that. They found reason to say well, maybe, perhaps, but they could not really come out and support the Sysco business plan that our government had prepared. Why not? Because to do so they would have to admit that we were trying to help the steel plant. We were trying to help the steelworker, and when the NDP made such an admission they would be confessing that we were a good government and it would kill them to make such an admission. So they kept on saying, we don't know, we can't make up our minds, we require further study, more deliberation, more consultation, and so on and so forth until the cows came home.

My favourite story about the NDP in those times, Mr. Speaker, was the petulant telephone calls made to the United Steelworkers of America headquarters in Toronto, because steelworkers in Sydney had been expressing their concerns to their own Liberal MLAs, instead of to the NDP, so the telephone lines were burning up in protest, to Toronto, that steelworkers would dare to contact their own local MLAs instead of taking their concerns to the NDP. That shows how serious and how sincere they were in their alleged concerns for the steelworker. In spite of massive financial support for their Party from the United Steelworkers Union, details of which I have here from the Chief Electoral Officer of Nova Scotia showing contributions to the NDP from the Steelworkers Union of $70,600 in 1998 I think it was - or 1999 - in spite of that, not only could they not support the Russell

[Page 8214]

MacLellan Liberal Government that was on the side of the steelworker, not only could they not support the Sysco business plan, but they actively worked to help undermine and sabotage the PLI-Sysco clean-up program under way at Sydney, employing 150 unemployed steelworkers who would otherwise be on welfare, in a program to clean up the site of Sydney Steel.

How did the NDP do that? Well, they didn't do it in an open way and through public forums such as this House. They encouraged various workers who were employed there who were NDP line workers who took their political instructions from the NDP, to agitate and to make trouble and to find fault and to make it so miserable that it got to the point that the program just couldn't continue. They stirred up trouble and they had friends in the press gallery who were prepared to report these exaggerated claims as news and not to give a balanced report of what was happening there (Interruption) Indeed, the NDP, they all have their NDP cards in their back pockets - the reporters I am referring to, Mr. Speaker - and they can be counted on election day to vote NDP and not Liberal or Conservative. We know who they are, they know who they are, too. (Laughter) They know who their friends are in the ranks of the press corps.

As a result of that NDP-orchestrated play, the PLI clean-up program at Sydney Steel came to an abrupt end and the 150 steelworkers who were working there lost their jobs, every one of them. That industry could have been a training ground for a new, environmentally oriented type of clean-up operation that would have been a major industry in Sydney and would still be going to this day. It would probably be carrying on for years to come, had it not been for the sabotage of the New Democratic Party in bringing that project crashing to its knees.

That is part of the historical record, Mr. Speaker. It is not concurrent with this bill; it is not even concurrent with this government. It happened when we were in power, but they did everything they could to agitate, to foment unrest, to stir up trouble and to make it impossible for the government to carry on, whether it was on the floor of this House, or whether it was out on the streets, or whether it was on the worksite at Sydney Steel.

They had all angles covered, so that the government that they didn't like would be taken out, torn down because it was a bad government and it had to be replaced and anything would be better. Well, we have "anything" right now, Mr. Speaker, we have the net result across the way, and I would defy anyone to take a poll or a referendum, or whatever measurement of opinion could be taken among those affected, as to whether this government here or that government there was the better for the Sydney area community. I don't think there would be any question that the results there would probably be a 100 per cent decision that the MacLellan Government had more heart and had more concern for the welfare of industrial Cape Breton than this government would ever even dream of.

[Page 8215]

Well, to sum all that up in a few words, we had this flyer that came out in a very compact, concise way, said everything that I have been saying for the past one-half hour. That was the flyer, Priorities Matter, "A John Hamm Government will close SYSCO once and for all, stop pouring $$ into SYSCO, protect our Health Care System" Then, underneath that, appeared a picture of Sydney Steel with closed stamped over it and a picture of a hospital bed stamped open. That was the official election propaganda of the Tory Party in the last provincial election. It is not something that I made up or that the honourable member for Cape Breton South composed while he was sitting at his computer. This came from the Tory Party. That is their official election stance.

Based on that kind of sales pitch, they were able to gain the overwhelming support of the voters of mainland Nova Scotia, except for the Halifax metropolitan area, where the NDP has a rather large bridgehead. But on the Island of Cape Breton, the support went overwhelmingly to the Liberal Party, with us winning the ridings of Richmond, Cape Breton West, Cape Breton North, Victoria, Cape Breton The Lakes, Cape Breton South, Cape Breton Nova and Cape Breton East. All those seats were won by the Liberals. Only one seat, Cape Breton Centre, was won by the NDP and only one wholly Cape Breton riding was won the PCs. That is the record. That is the result of having a government that cared about Cape Breton. The people supported that Party and elected its candidates on election day.

The Tory formula worked. They gained office, thanks to the NDP. Where did the steel plant go from there? Well, some laugh, but I don't think it is a laughing matter, Mr. Speaker. Let me say this about the laughter. I am sure that some student, somewhere in the future, is going to write an essay or a term paper or a dissertation or thesis on the question of how the John Hamm Government came to power in Nova Scotia in 1999. That essay may be 150 pages long, but the essence of it, there are two words that answer that whole question of how the John Hamm Tory Government came to power in Nova Scotia in 1999 and that is the NDP. That is how they came to power.

With reference to this bill, Mr. Speaker . . .

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the honourable member indicated earlier, in response to a question, that he agreed with the sale of the Sydney steel plant. Now I am mystified why he is going on and on and criticizing the government for doing something that that Party tried to do for five years, unsuccessfully.

MR. SPEAKER: That was not a point of order. The member for Cape Breton Nova, for the record, has 33 minutes left.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I might say, I want to indicate for the record, that I answered no question from that honourable member, nor am I prepared to entertain any of his so-called questions. It is not that I can't answer it. It is that we have a system of debate

[Page 8216]

in this House where members are allocated only one hour to address a bill. I am not prepared to give up my 60 minutes for him. He can have his turn later. Those are the rules. (Applause)

As far as where this caucus stands on this bill, Mr. Speaker, that has already been answered by the honourable member for Cape Breton South. Had they listened, he said that we are reserving judgement until we know more about it, because we don't have enough information now in which to make any decision, one way or the other. Am I right? Right. There you have it, the straight goods.

Once this government came to power, Mr. Speaker, the steel situation changed a very great deal because the new government that came to office no longer actively supported the steel plant at all. Their priority was to take it down, out, any way they could, as quickly as possible. No longer were there efforts made, as were made when this catalogue was published, to sell Sysco products to the markets of the worlds. Those marketing efforts ceased. In place of those marketing efforts, we had the new approach, steel plant turns away order.

Business was refused by this government and the sales staff that had been travelling the world trying to sell Sysco product, one of my constituents was in Egypt at the time, Mr. Speaker, this decision was made by the new government to stop selling Sysco products, and he had to come home. There was no sense him being in Egypt trying to sell Sysco products. This government didn't want to sell them anymore. They were out of the business in terms of selling. Sysco turned down an order from a mid-East rail buyer, an item from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald November 19, 1999. The Premier remains committed to close or sell Sysco by December 31st. That was the next development after they told the sales staff to come home, they weren't selling any more products of Sysco. The next thing, they put a deadline on the plant. You gotta be sold by December 31st, or we are going to shut you down.

Mr. Speaker, one of the grimmest Christmases that was ever faced in the area I represent was this past Christmas because of the cloud of uncertainty that this government kept hanging over my community right up until New Year's Eve. People thought New Year's Eve was the last day the steel plant would work, it was going to be the end of the world. That was the end. The government had said so, and they were the government because the NDP had put them there. People thought on Christmas Eve, on Christmas Day, on Boxing Day, on the 27th, on the 28th and 29th, that these were like the countdown days to the end of the world. December 31st was the final day. The steel plant was going to close, the gate would be locked, the men would all be laid off. Everybody would have to go on welfare as soon as EI was run out.

That was what they did to our community at Christmas which was not a year ago, it was ten months ago. But then, lo and behold, on New Year's Eve, suddenly there were glad tidings. They had sold the steel plant, they claimed. Sydney Steel sold, announced headlines in the Nova Scotia Business Journal. Rail Associates saves the day. Who is Rail Associates?

[Page 8217]

We had never heard of them before, but they were apparently some outfit that this government had invented or invited or something or other. They came along on the very last day, the very last minute of the very last day, I am told it was five minutes to midnight when they were going to close the steel plant and suddenly they found Rail Associates, and they came along and said, oh, don't worry, everything is going to be fine now. Rail Associates is going to buy the steel plant, and all is sold. All is solved.

Well, Mr. Speaker, it worked out about 14, 15, 16 days later, something like that, that the consortium, the international partnership that had been trumpeted with such fanfare was a mirage, and that they didn't have any money, or weren't prepared to put any down anyway. The whole thing kind of vanished into thin air like a mirage would vanish by mid-January. So the community was left once again wondering where do we go from here. What is next? Well, after a number of announcements such as No answers on Sysco solutions says Balser, published in the Cape Breton Post on January 18th. Sysco sale collapses, liquidators called in, January 21st.

After all that happened, we had a new intervention in the unfolding drama on February 10th when the honourable Minister of Education thrust her oar into the water pledging fair treatment for all steelworkers at Sydney, the very same person as had sponsored the document that I tabled earlier and has been tabled in this House many times, saying stop pouring dollars into the Sydney Steel operation. The John Hamm Government will close Sydney Steel once and for all. Now that same source came forward promising fair treatment for the Sydney steelworker. That was an ill omen indeed, Mr. Speaker. An ill omen indeed because that particular cry was then taken up by the Premier who came around to various groups and various audiences pledging that he was the true champion of the steelworker and he was going to be fair to the steelworker, and the steelworkers would be looked after.

Here I have one, Promises union I will be fair, front page of The Halifax Chronicle-Herald March 29th. He sent out every comforting word that he could, that he was going to be fair and that the steelworkers would be looked after, and not to worry. Well, Mr. Speaker, without going into infinite detail, let me say that things didn't quite unfold that way throughout the unfolding months this past spring and summer. This was one of the most difficult periods that I have had to face in all my years in public office. I did not believe one word that was coming from the government. I had no idea where things were actually headed and I still do not. This bill does not answer any questions.

[9:00 p.m.]

I have a mailing list of approximately 300 names interested in Sydney Steel. It is mostly steelworkers who live in my own constituency, but there are a handful who live in adjoining ridings. I sent each of them a copy of this bill and asked for their comments and feedback and I did not get anybody at all who indicated to me that they had any more

[Page 8218]

information after they got the bill than they had before they received it because the bill does not say anything. It is a bunch of gobbledegook, you know.

AN HON. MEMBER: Good bye, we will see you later.

MR. MACEWAN: But the essence of it is, yes, goodbye, we will see you later. Now, I think one thing that we are going to have to do when we go home this next weekend is take this bill to the executive of the Steelworkers Union and ask for some guidance as to what they think we should be doing on this.

One report that I have is that the enactment of the very inadequate pension package, which has been already outlined by the member for Cape Breton South, hinges on the passage of this legislation and if that is the case, it may be one more example of the consistent blackmail approach that the government has taken to this whole issue from day one and we may be compelled to vote for things just like those steelworkers who had to vote for the contract and the recent membership referendum of the members of the workforce at Sydney Steel. I know that there were many who voted yes who in their hearts did not want to take that package at all, but they felt that the gun had been put to their head and they had no choice in the matter, but that is certainly a very poor way to solve matters in this province.

The lack of good faith shown on the part of this government, Mr. Speaker, I think was best indicated at the time when the Premier indicated that he would point the finger of blame at the Steelworkers Hall in Sydney if things did not go right, that is his way, you know, and it got to the point, where I come from, many people felt that the government was prepared to blame whatever was going wrong on the Sydney steelworker and to make the steelworker the scapegoat for whatever it was that was bothering them, whether it was potholes down in Digby, or whether they had the hives, or whatever it might be, it was all the fault of the steelworker. That was the attitude that they radiated in their attacks on the steelworkers and on their union at the time when they would not quite go along with them and give them easy passage for all that they had hatched without consultation and after assurances that they were going to be fair and they were going to look after the steelworkers.

Mr. Speaker, this whole history is such a tale of bad faith, of shameful tactics, of a deplorable attitude towards a part of the province that has already received more setbacks and more blows than any other part of Nova Scotia for sure and, very possibly, more than any other part of Canada. I know that there are pockets of poverty in Newfoundland and there are places in New Brunswick where all is not well. I suppose even in Prince Edward Island, the odd place, there might be a lot of people not working, but I do not think anywhere in this country you will find a pocket of massive unemployment and of social difficulty of the type that you find in industrial Cape Breton today.

[Page 8219]

It is certainly uncharacteristic for Canada because we all hear the Prime Minister and we know he is right when he states that the United Nations has found Canada the best country in the world in which to live, but that is speaking about the Canadian average. It is not speaking about those areas that might deviate from the norm a very great deal. There are pockets in Canada of great affluence; for example, the district of Rosedale in Toronto. If you travel through that neighbourhood, you will see people who are apparently very well off. Well, the industrial area of Cape Breton is the opposite tendency from that of Rosedale in Toronto. It is an area of extremely high unemployment and unemployment that is based on a very low participation rate in the labour force so that if you had the participation rate in the labour force that you have in most other parts of Canada applied to industrial Cape Breton, the unemployment rate would be much higher than the official statistics indicate. It would probably be in excess of 50 per cent.

That does not mean that there are not people in Cape Breton who are working. There are people in Cape Breton who make very good money I am sure and are employed year-round in a variety of occupations. But the economic base is not sufficient to serve the population that exists. It might serve adequately a population of one-third or one-quarter the size of the existing population, but because the economic base is not large enough to support the population that is there, we have a very great rate of unemployment. In that type of community, every job matters much more than in a community, perhaps, like Bedford because, in Bedford, I am not saying anything against Bedford, it is a lovely place and God love the people that live there, but to lose a job in Bedford, I suggest, doesn't have the impact on the community that it does to lose a job in Whitney Pier, because there aren't very many jobs there to begin with.

The jobs at the Sydney steel plant represented the best jobs in the industrial sector that were available anywhere in Cape Breton. Wages and working conditions and benefits were approximately equal to those of the Devco coal mines. But the accident rate in the coal mines was always far higher than working on the steel plant, because the jobs in the steel plant were above ground.

They weren't tunnelling into the earth. There wasn't any danger of the roof caving in on you, in most places. There were accidents in the steel plant. There are friends of mine who have been horribly maimed for life as a result of burns and explosions and some have been killed at the steel plant. But it wasn't comparable to the working conditions in coal mining. There might have been some that developed industrial lung disease, but it wasn't on the scale that you got in coal mining with silicosis and pneumoconiosis. So the jobs at the steel plant were considered to be the best jobs we had in the community. They certainly were head and shoulder over jobs working in the call centre, Mr. Speaker, or working in Tim Hortons. But jobs like that are in high demand right now in industrial Cape Breton. That is why the call centres come to industrial Cape Breton, because they know we have a large, surplus labour force that is available to do just about anything that is honest and legal in the hopes of being

[Page 8220]

able to support themselves and not having to be on welfare. So those types of industries come to a community, like the community I represent, and I know that.

I would like to deal briefly, in what time remains, Mr. Speaker, with a need for site remediation at Sydney Steel, because we have already talked about the site clean-up program that was going when Manning MacDonald was Minister responsible for Sysco under PLI and how the NDP and those who didn't want to see the site there cleaned-up, did everything they could to sabotage that and brought it to an end. There is a need, right now, for massive site restoration work on the Sysco properties in Sydney. I want to explain to the House, I don't know how many know this, but the actual current steelmaking operations that this bill applies to take up a very small part of the total Sysco property site. It might be like comparing, perhaps, the space occupied by that table there to the entire space of this Legislative Assembly.

If we can think of that table as representing where the melt shop is and where the finishing shops are that are involved under this bill, then you could think of all the rest of it as being the surrounding area that is now occupied by abandoned buildings from the past, the blast furnace department, what is left of it, the open hearth furnace building, which is the largest building in the City of Sydney. It is bigger than Centre 200, Manning, much bigger. The open hearth building on Sydney Steel is the largest structure in the City of Sydney. It is abandoned. It hasn't made any steel for many years, not since the electric arc reduction furnace was installed at Sysco some time back; many years back. I can't tell you how many offhand, but it (Interruption)

I think it was the Cameron Government. I am not sure, Mr. Speaker. It might have been Roger Bacon. But, in any event, the building itself now is unoccupied. It is not used for anything. It is rusting. It is a metal building. It is not made out of cement or brick, it is made out of sheet metal and it is rusting away. Every time it rains or snows, the rust grows a little bit more and I suppose it is left there unattended for 100 years or so, it will probably disintegrate into brown powder. But, in the meantime, it is there. Some find this a matter of mirth, but it is a blight on the environment. It looks awful. It gives people a very negative image of their community when they look out the window and they see that over the hill.

We want to bring passenger vessels into Sydney Harbour, cruise ships. We want to show them this beautiful Sydney Harbour and what do they sail past as they advance up the harbour to the dock. They sail past an enormous mountain of slag as big as probably Cape Smokey. It is a huge mountain of slag. All the accumulated slag built up over the years from the steelmaking process that has just been pushed out and pushed out and built up and built up, and now you have an enormous mountain there. Nothing grows in it. I don't know if it is actively toxic material, but it is certainly not material that will support growth, so it doesn't generate trees or bushes or grass or any kind of cover. It is just there, kind of a gray, dirty colour. An enormous mountain. All vessels that come in and out of Sydney Harbour have to sail past that.

[Page 8221]

Alongside that are these derelict structures that I referred to, the blast furnaces, the open-hearth department, the open-hearth building and various other shops and mills and the remnants of the round house, I suppose. I don't know just what is still standing because a great deal of it was torn down when the MacDonald clean-up program was underway. There is a great deal that has to be taken down there yet. In fact, as I understand it, the legal responsibility of any owner of industrial sites that are closed is it should be restored to greenfield conditions, meaning that it should be left as it was originally found before they ever started up. I am sure that if we were dealing here with a tannery or some small cheese-making plant or something of that type, you would see the Department of the Environment and every inspector going, moving in on them with full force to see to it that every last bit of debris was cleaned up and the place was left as it had originally existed. It was restored to greenfield conditions, but because this site is so vast, and because it is owned by the government, the government tends to treat it as not a matter of any great urgency.

It is in Sydney, and they are going to elect Paul MacEwan and Manning MacDonald down there. They are not going to vote Tory, that is for sure. Our political competition comes from the NDP, not from the Tories. So, they are not going to do anything for my area, I know that. Then they have the cynicism of them putting $230 million on the books as a bookkeeping entry to say, well, that is money we are reserving for environmental remediation down at Sydney. They have absolutely no intention whatsoever of spending a nickel of that money. They have it on the books, in my view, primarily, to make our government look bad. That is the bookkeeping purpose of that entry on the books. They don't intend to spend the money for environmental clean-up in Sydney, but they think by adding that sum to the debt of the province, they can say, well there, see how bad the Liberals were, they put you in debt even $230 million more than they said they did because of this extra money that we have added on; it is their fault. I don't know. I can't understand the logic of it, Mr. Speaker. I can't understand the logic of it at all. Accounting 1, fudging by Neil LeBlanc is it? Well, whatever it is.

You see, the steelworkers in Sydney know that money is on the books. They know what it is for. It is not there for agriculture or some other program. It is there for site remediation at Sydney Steel. We have high levels of unemployment. We have 100 people, according to the information presented by the previous Liberal speaker, 100 people who are just being told to go walk. Go get lost like you never existed. Well, there is 100 people there looking for work. Then we have 200 more who are going to have to apply to Duferco, whatever this new shell company is that is being incorporated for the purpose of this bill, to apply for their own jobs. How many of those men are going to be hired, Mr. Speaker? How many?

I remember when I was hired at the Sydney steel plant, the medical officer at that time was Dr. J.B. Lynch, and he was a pretty crusty sort. He looked you over from head to toe, shall I say, and many places in-between, and there was no behind the screen while the nurse turned the other way, it was all in broad daylight and there was a line-up standing behind you

[Page 8222]

and another line-up ahead of you. But Dr. Lynch gave you the once over and if you didn't get past Dr. Lynch, you didn't get hired on the steel plant, I can tell you. I can tell you that many of these 50 year old people who are reapplying for new employment with Duferco are not going to be able to get past the current equivalent of Dr. Lynch because they won't be able to pass a medical exam saying they are in fit and perfect condition. I know many of them as personal friends. They are on medications for high blood pressure and some have diabetes and many have those problems we get as we get older.

The human body doesn't improve with age. The mind may, but the body doesn't. Their knowledge of steelmaking may be excellent, but their physical condition is not that of young men any longer. How many of those will get past the medical test, I don't know, but I would dare say a significant number of them won't and they won't have jobs. There will be others who will be displaced as a result of these changes because certainly all of those who were supplying contracts to the Sydney steel plant for various different forms, for example, the catering of meals. I mean, this is a small item, but it is a big item to those who were involved in doing it. It creates jobs for those people. They may lose their jobs because there won't be any need any longer to deliver lunches down to the Sydney steel plant, so those jobs will be lost and so on.

[9:15 p.m.]

What about the railway workers? They are going to be looking for work when this impacts on the railway because there will not be anything for the trains to haul and so the trains will stop. All these people are going to be looking for work. Then they look at the budget for the Province of Nova Scotia and they see the $200 million budget entry for remediation of the site of Sydney Steel.

The steelworkers are pressing for these jobs. I have here a clipping from the Cape Breton Post of recent vintage, June 2, 2000, Steelworkers pressed for jobs. What jobs? Well, the jobs cleaning up the steel plant that the government put $200 million in the budget for. Those jobs are phantom jobs. They ain't there. They do not exist. It is hard for people to understand that because they say, how could the government put $200 million in the budget for jobs if the jobs are not there?

They think maybe that I am misinforming them, that I am hiding where these jobs are from them so that maybe I can get them for my friends or something. But I tell them, no, if those jobs were there, it would be in the paper. It would be known down at the union hall. They are not there. The press, lazy as usual, except when it comes to negative propaganda about the steel plant, they don't make an issue of this.

I suggest that it is scandalous. That a government would put $220 million on its books with no intention at all of spending it. Just keeping it there like a nestegg, like you might put money in a sock or put it under the mattress.

[Page 8223]

Possibly, if a provincial election were a little bit nearer, that money might be activated. Perhaps it is there for that purpose, but not in Sydney. Well, it might be activated in Sydney if they thought they had a hope of maybe electing Anna Curtis-Steele who I understand is running for the fifth time now. Perhaps after they take some polls, they may see that Anna is not going to make it and so they won't trigger that money nor will they put it into action.

There are many points about this bill that I feel are open to question. I cannot say yes to the House at this point that I would recommend voting for the bill. I don't know what the bill is really going to do. You know, you have to vote responsibly. I know when I go to vote in the federal election and I vote for the Liberal candidate sponsored by Prime Minister Jean Chretien that I can vote for that candidate with confidence because I believe in the product.

When I look at this bill, I can tell you I do not believe in the sponsor, therefore I don't know what I can make of the product.

They want to talk about Ed Broadbent. I can tell you Ed Broadbent, who took a patronage position organized by the Brian Mulroney Conservative Government, I believe left that patronage position and went into the private sector after some years had passed so if they want to know any more about Ed Broadbent, they should ask their friend Brian Mulroney. (Interruption)

Yes, he made him the President of the International Centre for Democratic Development in Human Rights in Montreal where he reigned supreme for about five years and then he got tired of doing that and went to Oxford University to lecture in politics and economics.

Now, getting back to the bill and away from the distractions, I might say that the bill appears to give enormous powers to the government. It is enabling legislation, it is a blank cheque. It would give the government power practically to rewrite just about anything. For example, they could continue the works of the Sydney Steel Corporation under this bill. It could be viewed as a fail-safe position that if the negotiations with Duferco do not work, they could continue to operate Sysco anyway, probably only on paper, in the hopes of selling it to some other organization.

I know there are other organizations still interested in purchasing that steel plant. Duferco is not the only possible candidate to buy it and there are other would-be buyers available - I am not going to mention them because it is a matter of confidence, but I would say that there are other buyers available. There are other potential purchasers in existence and so the bill is crafted in a way to make it possible that if the sale to Duferco falls through, they could sell it to someone else, and in the meantime continue its operations on paper. Then, it also gives them the power by Order in Council I believe to rename the corporation from Sydney Steel Corporation to possibly the Jane Purves Steelworks, or some other title they might find acceptable. It gives them power, and we would have no say in what it might be

[Page 8224]

called. It might be called anything you can imagine. They have that legal power, if we give them the carte blanche by passing this bill. They have all kinds of powers here to tinker around with the Sydney Steel Corporation superannuation fund.

I know one of the biggest concerns that has been brought to me by the wives and the dependants of steelworkers in recent times has been about the superannuation fund and they want to be assured it is under the control of some independent trustees and operating at arm's length from government for the simple reason that they don't trust this crowd. Lord knows what this crowd would do if they got their hands on that pension fund. Yet, here it is in legislation, giving them the power. It is like a bill enabling the fox to have free access to the chicken house. That is what this bill seems like to me. I don't know why, in the interests of chickens, I should vote for such a bill? Would you give the fox free access to the chicken house?

Well, Mr. Speaker, I feel there is much that remains to be said about this bill, and possibly I don't have sufficient time this evening to go through all the points I have in mind. I think there are about six minutes left. I have only just begun to warm up. But, I think I will conclude by tabling the epistle of the honourable James Spurr who appears to be the man who spurs the government on in its anti-Sysco crusade, Clerk of the Executive Council, addressed to Mr. Bill McNeil, President of Local 1064 of the United Steelworkers of America, dated February 17, 2000. It concludes after two paragraphs, I will table the whole thing so anybody who wants to read it can read it. It concludes:

"The opportunity to achieve the best outcome of the Ernst & Young process for the employees of Sydney Steel will be maximized if you and the Sydney Steel employees you represent actively demonstrate your full support of and cooperation with the process, and we expect to see that support and cooperation consistently throughout." (Interruptions)

Yes, Mr. Speaker, somebody mentions about a Russian approach. They certainly were rushing, but are you SHING. They certainly were rushing when they put that one out, because that is certainly not what I would indicate as a proper or responsible approach by a government in power even if they are acting through an appointed civil servant rather than through an elected politician. But, that letter does typify how the government has approached this whole matter of Sydney Steel. They have approached it with all the finesse of a bulldozer operator. I can't applaud them. I can't commend them.

Now, some ask, are you in favour of selling the Sydney Steel? Well that by itself is a rather bland and abstract question. I supported the steel policy of the Russell MacLellan Liberal Government, a part of which was sell yes, when an appropriate buyer was found under suitable conditions and with the approval and in consultation with the workforce, Mr. Speaker. No fire sale. No fire sale.

[Page 8225]

The Russell MacLellan Government, had it remained in power, as it would have if it were not for the NDP, would be carrying through to a successful conclusion now or in the months ahead, the matters with which this bill deals. But I submit to you that the approach would have been very different. It would have been all the difference between night and day between the approach taken by this crowd and the government which I had the honour to support when it was in power.

So, Mr. Speaker, in conclusion I am not interested in dragging this matter out. I don't propose to now move that the House adjourn and ring bells for an hour. I would like to see the debate proceed. I would like to hear from others who have something to say on this subject, both pro and con. I don't believe my Party is going to attempt to filibuster this bill. I don't anticipate motions to refer it to a standing committee or a reasoned amendment or the three months' hoist or a six months' hoist to the ten months' hoist to the fifteen months' hoist.

I think what we will do is we will get our speakers up, make our comments and then ask that the question be put and if the bill moves forward to the Law Amendments Committee, I am sure that the steelworkers union and others who are concerned in this matter will make their representations and we will gain a hearing and they may be able to propose some amendments that they improve the content of the bill. Then we will come back to this House and we will debate it again, clause by clause, in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills and finally we will go forward to third reading. There will be plenty of further opportunities. I have only just scratched the surface in these remarks.

I have tried to give more of a personal account of my impression of the total circumstances that the bill deals with, much more than to debate it on a clause-by-clause basis which, of course, would be out of order on second reading anyway, because second reading is designed to deal with the principle of the bill. Now the principle of the bill is the sale of the assets of the Sydney Steel Corporation, and I think that most of what I have said here tonight, Mr. Speaker, dealt with the Sydney Steel Corporation in the broad sense. If I occasionally went off track, I apologize.

I will say, speaking of tracks, that the Sydney Steel rail was one of the best steel rails ever made anywhere in the world, and when I was up in Toronto I was very pleased to see the Toronto Transit Commission laying down rails that had stamped on every one of them, Made by Sydney Steel Corporation, Sysco. I have seen Sysco rails laid in many other places across the country and they are in a little way a reflection, I think, of the efforts, the craftsmanship and the high level of professionalism that the Sysco workforce has put into the running of this operation ever since it first began in 1899, which is over 100 years ago now, and I don't think the Sydney steelworkers deserve the bum rap that they have gotten from this government. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 8226]

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

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, actually it was not my intention to speak on this bill, but from some of the other members' comments I found it educational. The member who just spoke, I think he has his own slant on things, and I think when he talks about the pile of slag, most of it lands on the NDP.

I thought the member for Cape Breton South provided a very good interpretation of events. I think that perhaps if the former government had made an effort to show a plan for Sydney Steel then they might have had a much better opportunity for a buy-in from the New Democratic Party, but I don't remember any - there was talk of a plan - evidence of a plan. It certainly made it particularly difficult, I think, to support them, as the member for Cape Breton Nova keeps indicating that it was a plot on the part of the NDP to bring the Tories to power. We do have an election planning committee and I don't remember seeing that as a part of the policy platform, to elect the Tories.

[9:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I do want to make it clear that the New Democratic Party has supported the steelworkers and supported the people in Cape Breton. Actually I think that even the Liberals would be hard-pressed to come up with some solid evidence that would indicate that the New Democratic Party has not shown a concern for working people in Cape Breton.Actually, I worry about the future of Cape Breton and the families in Cape Breton. I think we definitely had concerns about the Liberal Government, what they were going to do with taxpayers' dollars and I think we have always believed that we would take a serious look at any proposal that would actually show that there would be value for the dollar.

I think the member for Cape Breton South made a good case for what exactly happens with those dollars that went into Sydney Steel, that those dollars actually get spent in those communities, and there is some value in that. There is no way to deny and I would certainly have to say that I would feel far better for dollars being spread among the people of Cape Breton in a fairer manner, rather than dollars being distributed to Sobeys or large corporations that do not necessarily show any need for those dollars with jobs that are already planned and the money is spent to secure those jobs; they do not need taxpayers' dollars.

So my thought would be that distribution of wealth is a far better way to dispense of money rather than give it to the hands of a few. A realistic plan that would have shown what value Nova Scotians would have gotten for their dollar, putting it into Sydney Steel, would have certainly made that decision a much easier one. I think the case was made and probably better made than how I will make it, but the whole history of Sydney Steel has been one of a political football, what has been said or unsaid about the future of Sydney Steel has elected governments in this province, and certainly in that time, because of the mandates of governments limited to five years, there never has been a long-range plan for industrial Cape

[Page 8227]

Breton to span 20 years or 30 years. Maybe some would consider that to be political suicide, but certainly the time is long past due for governments to sit down and come up with a comprehensive plan for how they are going to support Cape Breton, and whether Sydney Steel is part of that plan or not, they definitely should have articulated something to Cape Bretoners and to Nova Scotians in general.

I do feel Cape Bretoners have become pawns in a political game of re-election or election. We certainly have seen it in this past election. The mainland was pitted against Cape Bretoners. I think if you provide people with misinformation and try to spell it out well enough, they will start to believe it. Or, if you are doing your polling and find people have this impression and you can build on that impression and get yourself elected, well, then why not exploit it. I think that is the case for what was done to the people of industrial Cape Breton. I think people there certainly want what everybody else wants, options for the future, some possibility for their children to fulfil some of their dreams, and not be any more of a burden on the taxpayers than what might be seen as any more of a burden than the rest of Nova Scotia.

There are some aspects of this bill that are extremely troubling and I would say that they certainly seem to go in lock step with what we have seen in other pieces of legislation and, in particular, the bill we discussed earlier in this House on Community Services, where we did not see the regulations that go along with the bill. What we have in this bill, Mr. Speaker, is a bill that, in volume, is not a lot, but in impact it certainly is, and what we are not seeing, because it refers to the agreement so much in this piece of legislation that we have never seen.

Clause 3 (1), "Where there is a conflict between this Act and any other Act, this Act prevails.", and Clause 3(2), "Where there is a conflict between the Agreement and any other Act, the Agreement prevails." I would say that to give that much power to the agreement and, actually, a private agreement is what is going on here and it is a private agreement that will supersede legislation. How could the government actually expect Nova Scotians to buy into that type of a deal without knowing what that agreement says?

We are talking about legislation here that affects freedom of information, the environment, taxation, workers' safety and public financial accountability. So to assume that the members of the Opposition would not stand and have something to say about the implications of this piece of legislation, without ever knowing what that agreement is and the fact that this agreement could supersede any of this other legislation that has come before this House and that Nova Scotians, for some unknown reason - the way the story of Sydney Steel was spun out to Nova Scotians, I think that they probably would give a sigh of relief and perhaps be willing to say, at any cost, if you make the story bad enough. But I don't believe that Nova Scotians are willing to allow the legislation that has been debated in this House to go by the wayside in front of an agreement that we cannot even see and they won't see, until it is too late.

[Page 8228]

I guess I find it difficult to believe that when we come to the year 2000, that government would have no more vision and no more insight into the population that it represents as to assume that they would be willing to sit back and allow that to happen. I think certainly, hopefully, from the statements made here on the floor by whoever in our caucus speaks to this, and by the members who have previously spoken to this, that at least Nova Scotians might have some time to realize what it is they are buying into. This is not, in any way, shape or form, intended to be a filibuster. It is a way to draw attention to this piece of legislation that, to say the least, is Draconian. The impact of this legislation is severe, considering what it does to other Acts, it registers them null and void in regard to this agreement, an agreement that we cannot see.

I would say that the people of Nova Scotia deserve better than this and, certainly, the people of Cape Breton deserve better than this. I am amazed, I have to admit. There are very few days in this House that I haven't learned something. But I am amazed at what this government will do. Just about the time you think you have seen it all, there will be a new wrinkle. From the discussion that we had on the bill on Community Services and the hope that the Opposition tried to raise the necessity to see the regulations and how could the government expect us to buy into a piece of legislation that was impacted so much by regulation and not show us the regulation. (Interruption) As one of my colleagues is telling me, blind faith. That is exactly what the government is asking for here.

I know that members opposite will say, as soon as we bring this in, the New Democrats are going to oppose it or the Liberals are going to oppose it, because that is what the Opposition does. Their job is to oppose our legislation. But, surely, members opposite and the minister would have to know that to bring a piece of legislation like this and the impact of that legislation before this House, that they would have to know that there is no way that this piece of legislation is going to get through this House without somebody standing on their feet to oppose it, because the very nature of it is anti-democratic.

Well, Mr. Speaker, when I stood to speak - and I didn't intend to speak long - my intention was to relinquish the floor to the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes, and I will do that because I know he had some comments he wanted to say. But I want the members opposite, I want the minister to recognize that I am not in the least impressed by this piece of legislation and that certainly I would not be supportive of it until the point at which we could see the agreement. I will relinquish the floor to another member.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am going to be very short and try to be right to the point. Of course, I want to first indicate my support for both my colleagues, the members for Cape Breton South and Cape Breton Nova who have followed this issue through probably longer, particularly the member for Cape Breton Nova who has probably been here longer than any other individual. However, I want to express the gratitude of my

[Page 8229]

residents for the efforts put into this issue by the member for Cape Breton South, Manning MacDonald, particularly since 1997.

Unfortunately, his efforts failed miserably because of this government. Mr. Speaker, the first thing I would like to do is hold this up and remind everybody of the postcard that went around door to door in the Halifax area. Of course, now we have come to the conclusion, particularly on this side of the House that it was nothing but a pack of misinformation. While Sysco probably will be closed as a result of this bill, or at least, the ownership transferred, hospital beds did not remain open, so this commitment will have to be debated, I would suggest, one more time at doorsteps, particularly in one riding in this province where this was passed out. I would be certain, if I lived in that particular constituency, I would want to know what happened to the hospital beds. I would suggest in the next election when that same candidate faces those people on those doorsteps that that will be a question she will have to defend.

As I indicated, I am not going to get into too much of a debate because both my colleagues on this side of the House, of course, have made very detailed speeches here this evening. Being a rookie here, I am certainly not in their playing field yet. But I would just like to bring attention to a couple of issues. The Minister of Economic Development indicated early on, after being sworn in as the minister, that he told the union and the executive of the union, that the pensions were too low, and that he would come down and treat the steelworkers with fairness and dignity. Those were the minister's own words, Mr. Speaker. He also said that he would look after the steelworkers and their families. We all know that simply didn't take place. It didn't occur. And the steelworkers felt abandoned by their provincial government, particularly by this particular minister and his Premier.

As I indicated before, I am not going to get up here and bang on the government over the workers because I think my colleagues made very clear our discontent on this side of the House. Certainly, the way the steelworkers were treated is simply not the Liberal way. I would suggest that if this government had followed through on the Liberal initiative, as they did in other areas, then the sale of the Sysco steel plant would have a lot larger chance of being a success. I would refer to the Trenton Works, in Trenton. In 1993, when the Liberal Government took it over, that facility was in dire need and it was in serious danger of collapse. It was the Liberal Government that took it on as a project, and as a result, today it is a very successful operation, with many Nova Scotians employed in a safe environment. That is what the plan for Sydney Steel was in the Liberal initiative.

[9:45 p.m.]

However, I think after coming to power, all this government wanted to do was keep to their promise to close the steel plant, at any cost, whether it be in pieces, bit and pieces, or as a whole. I for one, today, will go on record as saying that I don't believe the steel plant will be there five years after it is sold by this government. It will be piecemealed, and it will

[Page 8230]

be sold on the European market, in pieces, where a profit can be obtained by this company. That is what I believe, and that is what many people in my constituency believe. They don't believe that this government really has the will to make this plant work. I think, just in the last 15 months, just the mis-truths that are being told these workers and their families, it is terrible, and it is just not the Nova Scotian way, and it is not one we are accustomed to in this province, anywhere in this province, not in Cape Breton, not down the Valley, not in the New Glasgow area, nowhere.

The manoeuvre this government has taken on the steel plant is unheard of. When you begin an election campaign with a campaign like this, in which you pit one Nova Scotian against the other, a community against a community, that is unacceptable behaviour in a democracy. I would suggest that that particular member in this government will come to that understanding after the next general election, when Nova Scotians will not forget.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to move on, because I want to move forward. I want to move forward; I want to move forward for Cape Breton; and I want to move forward for the community. This government is making the decision to get out of the steelmaking business, and that is fair. They do have the control, and they had the number of votes. As my two colleagues indicated before, I can't make a reasonable decision on this bill because I don't know all the information. Why hide the details? It doesn't make sense.

I want to refer to a speech that our beloved Premier of today, John Hamm, made on June 29, 1999, just shortly before the election campaign. It was at Silicon Island in Sydney. He indicated that there were projections, that his Party had projections of 5,000 jobs being created in the high-tech and information technology sectors over the next five years. Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that he better hurry up and get caught up, because my last count is that he never created one job on Cape Breton Island. There is not one job created on Cape Breton Island by this Tory Administration. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I know they are going to boast about EDS call centres.

AN HON. MEMBER: Alfie got a job. (Interruptions)

MR. BOUDREAU: That is true. I always stand to be corrected, Mr. Speaker, and I will correct the record. There has been one job created and that was in the Cabinet Office in Cape Breton and that is one job. So I guess I will have to change that to two jobs, but as far as the call centre issue, everybody in the community is very familiar that that was a Liberal initiative, both provincially and federally and the negotiation process was complete when this government took power (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Give the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes the opportunity to be heard, please. Thank you.

[Page 8231]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the other initiative is the $12 million diversification fund, another commitment and Liberal initiative from the prior government. This government, today, has provided no opportunities, no initiatives, no ideas, nothing for any area of this province that is hard hit with high unemployment levels let alone Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to continue into the speech of Dr. Hamm who was Third Party, of course, at the time he made these comments. These are exact words. A good leader accepts the truth and he tells the truth no matter how painful. I believe that is always the correct course and the only decent course of action.

Well, Mr. Speaker, why all the mistruths? Why playing around with the lives of steelworkers and their families for the past 15 months? As my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Nova, indicated, last Christmas the stress in that community down there created by this issue was unbearable and children, 10 years old and 12 years old, you know, coming up to me on one particular doorstep that I recall, stating very clearly, where will daddy work now?

These are the kind of questions that we receive on a daily basis in these hard hit areas and I think it is about time that some of these ministers who made a commitment to go weekly to Cape Breton to the Cabinet Office - and I do not know when the last time was anybody was down there because they just simply refuse to go, unless they want to go on a couple days break or a holiday, they fly down. They do not tell anybody they are coming. Nobody knows they are there. They leave. They make the announcement after they depart and land back in Halifax. I do not know if it is because they fear the community down there or it is because of their own direction and comments they are ashamed of, but it is obvious that the presence of this provincial government in Cape Breton is unacceptable. I do believe, and I see the honourable minister . . .

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I just want to make a point that he is saying that the presence in Cape Breton of our Cabinet is unacceptable and I want to remind him that this Cabinet has been very proactive in going to the Sydney Cabinet Office and I have been there, in fact - he is insinuating that there is no presence and I say that there is. Not only that, I take exception to the fact that he is saying we did not create any jobs. I look across the floor and I look at the riding of Victoria and the jobs that were created at the Highland Village with our announcement of them becoming part of the Nova Scotia Museum. I look in Sydney and I look at the EDS call centre with 800 jobs - more jobs in one announcement than they created in four years. I just wanted to make that point. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That was not a point of order. It was, in fact, as you indicated, honourable member, a reminder.

[Page 8232]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: On the point of order, I just wanted to remind the front benches when they go to Cape Breton, Alfie said the key is under the mat. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I don't know if we should be telling other Nova Scotians and honourable members where the keys are to public buildings but, nevertheless, it is in the public record now, and that was not a point of order, either.

The honourable member for Cape Breton the Lakes. I see we are fast approaching the adjournment hour. Would the honourable member want to adjourn debate and carry on tomorrow perhaps, or if the Government House Leader is going to call this bill back?

MR. BOUDREAU: Just after one comment.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, honourable member, one comment.

MR. BOUDREAU: I would just like to remind the honourable minister that he is supposed to be - from what I understand and from what the Premier indicated when he appointed him to Cabinet - Cape Breton's representative in Cabinet. Well, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my residents I want to tell the minister that he has been a failure (Interruptions). We haven't heard one thing from this minister. He forgets we are industrial Cape Breton as he doesn't even know where it is at. As far as the call centre, that was the initiative of the previous government and the federal government.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: I won't make, I guess, a point of order, just a point, Mr. Speaker. This Cape Breton minister was at the announcement in Grand Narrows in his riding and I didn't see the MLA for that area (Interruptions).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. On behalf of the House - that wasn't a point of order, but I would appeal to the honourable member for Cape Breton the Lakes to either close debate or adjourn debate on Bill No. 70 at this particular time.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, in all fairness I should have an opportunity to respond.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member can respond tomorrow to that comment.

MR. BOUDREAU: I wasn't at the announcement the honourable minister indicates for two reasons, Mr. Speaker. I was out in my community working very hard . . .

[Page 8233]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will ask the honourable member in the interest of fairness to all our members to adjourn debate or end debate on Bill No. 70 at this particular time.

MR. BOUDREAU: I move to adjourn debate.

MR. SPEAKER: 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 Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr Speaker, I move the adjournment for the day. The House will meet tomorrow at 12:00 noon and sit until 8:00 p.m. The order of business following Question Period will be Public Bills for Second Reading, and following Bill No. 70, if we should complete that bill tomorrow we will proceed on with Bill No. 64 and then Bill Nos. 66, 67, 68 et cetera through the order paper in order.

Mr. Speaker, I move now that the House do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 9:58 p.m.]