Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Thur., Oct. 26, 2000

First Session

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS 7381
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
O'Connell, Eileen (MLA): Death of - Tribute, The Premier 7382
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2793, Trudeau, Pierre Elliott - Family: Sympathies - Convey,
The Premier 7385
Vote - Affirmative 7385
Res. 2794, MacLellan, Russell: Public Service (Fed./Prov.) - Commend,
The Premier 7385
Vote - Affirmative 7386
Res. 2795, Women, Status of - Women: Progress - Recognize,
Hon. J. Purves 7386
Vote - Affirmative 7387
Res. 2796, Health - Dept. Of: Alzheimer Soc. (Cert. Of Appreciation) -
Recognize, Hon. J. Muir 7387
Vote - Affirmative 7388
Res. 2797, Acadian Affs. - Société Acadie-Nouvelle-Écosse 2004:
Exec. Dir. (Ms. Vaughne Madden) - Congrats., Hon. N. LeBlanc 7388
Vote - Affirmative 7389
Res. 2798, Health: Pap Test Awareness Week (25-31/10/00) -
Recognize, Hon. J. Muir 7389
Vote - Affirmative 7390
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 61, Electronic Commerce Act, Hon. M. Baker 7390
No. 62, Employment Support and Income Assistance Act,
Hon. P. Christie ^No. 63, Labour Standards Code, Hon. A. MacIsaac ~ 7391 7390
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2799, Educ. - Clare/Argyle: Schools - Commitment Honour,
Mr. W. Gaudet 7391
Res. 2800, O'Connell, Eileen (MLA) - Family: Condolences - Offer,
Mr. J. Holm 7392
Vote - Affirmative 7392
Res. 2801, O'Connell, Eileen (MLA) - Salute, Ms. M. McGrath 7392
Vote - Affirmative 7393
Res. 2802, Econ. Dev. - N.S. Business Inc.: Creation - Tory Tradition,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 7393
Res. 2803, Nat. Res.: Equalization Payts. - Moratorium (10 yr.),
Mr. John MacDonell 7394
Vote - Affirmative 7394
Res. 2804, Dowell, Judge Hanson T. - Family: Condolences - Extend,
Mr. F. Chipman 7395
Vote - Affirmative 7395
Res. 2805, Cox, Donald Stewart - Atl. Agric. Hall of Fame: Induction -
Congrats., Mr. D. Downe 7395
Vote - Affirmative 7396
Res. 2806, Health - Women: Mammograms/Self Exams - Encourage,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7396
Vote - Affirmative 7397
Res. 2807, MacLean, Dr. Norman James "Jim": Contributions -
Acknowledge, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 7397
Vote - Affirmative 7397
Res. 2808, Health - Cuts: Tatamagouche - Inform, Dr. J. Smith 7398
Res. 2809, Health - Cuts: Re-Examine, Mr. D. Dexter 7398
Res. 2810, Sports - Olympics (Summer 2000): Furneaux, Karen/
Brunet, Carolyn - Congrats., Hon. P. Christie 7399
Vote - Affirmative 7400
Res. 2811, Tourism - Celtic Colours: Organizers - Congrats.,
Mr. K. MacAskill 7400
Vote - Affirmative 7400
Res. 2812, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 101: Ben Jackson Rd. -
Interchange Construct, Mr. H. Epstein 7401
Res. 2813, Sports - Kentville Wildcats: Baseball Champs - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 7401
Vote - Affirmative 7402
Res. 2814, Environ. - Glace Bay: Water Supply - Replace, Mr. D. Wilson 7402
Res. 2815, Sports - Antoft, Kell: Accomplishments - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Dexter 7403
Vote - Affirmative 7403
Res. 2816, Sports - Olympics (Summer 2000): Giles, Steve - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Hendsbee 7404
Vote - Affirmative 7404
Res. 2817, Fish. - Eskasoni: Research Lab Proj. - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Boudreau 7404
Vote - Affirmative 7405
Res. 2818, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Mun. Election/School Bd.:
Members (Elected) - Congrats., Mr. W. Dooks 7405
Vote - Affirmative 7406
Res. 2819, Premier - Appts.: Patronage - Cease, Mr. M. Samson 7406
Res. 2820, Health - Autism Soc. (Mainland N.S.): Educ. Efforts -
Applaud, Mr. K. Morash 7406
Vote - Affirmative 7407
Res. 2821, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Min.: Birch Grove Sewer Proj.
(CBRM) - Funding Commit, Mr. R. MacKinnon 7407
Res. 2822, Picton Castle - Skipper/Crew: Educ. Promotion - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker 7408
Vote - Affirmative 7408
Res. 2823, NDP (Cdn.): Cape Breton - Represent, Mr. P. MacEwan 7409
Res. 2824, Environ. - New Glasgow: Water Treatment Centre -
Significance Recognize, Mr. J. DeWolfe 7409
Vote - Affirmative 7410
Res. 2825, Health: Occupational Therapy Week (22-28/10/00) -
Recognize, Dr. J. Smith 7410
Vote - Affirmative 7411
Res. 2826, East Side Mario's (Prime Restaurant Group) - MicMac Mall:
Opening - Congrats., Mr. T. Olive 7411
Vote - Affirmative 7412
Res. 2827, Gov't. (Cdn.) - Election: Funding (N.S.) - Gratitude,
Mr. K. MacAskill 7412
Res. 2828, Tourism: Ship Hector Proj./Launch 2000 - Congrats.,
Mrs. M. Baillie 7412
Vote - Affirmative 7413
Res. 2829, Environ.: Glace Bay Water System - Premier Fund,
Mr. D. Wilson 7413
Res. 2830, Fraser, Scott - Stock Car Racing: Success - Best Wishes,
Mr. B. Taylor 7414
Vote - Affirmative 7414
Res. 2831, Health - Eskasoni Commun. Health Care Centre: Opening -
Congrats., Mr. B. Boudreau 7415
Vote - Affirmative 7415
Res. 2832, Fish. - Scotian Halibut Ltd. (Shel. Co.)/Fiskey Ltd.:
Partnership - Best Wishes, Mr. C. O'Donnell 7415
Vote - Affirmative 7416
Res. 2833, Educ. - Appts.: Patronage (N.B.) - Cease, Mr. M. Samson 7416
Res. 2834, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 4 (C.B.):
Paving Tenders - Call, Mr. R. MacKinnon 7417
Res. 2835, Environ. - Phase Remediation Inc.: Expertise - Congrats.,
Ms. M. McGrath 7417
Vote - Affirmative 7418
Res. 2836, Gov't. (Cdn.) - Election: NDP - Status, Mr. P. MacEwan 7418
Res. 2837, Johnson, Kirk: World Heavyweight Boxing Championship -
Contender - Congrats., Mr. D. Hendsbee 7419
Vote - Affirmative 7419
Res. 2838, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Buckle Up Bears Prog.:
Participants - Contributions Commend, Mr. T. Olive 7419
Vote - Affirmative 7420
Res. 2839, Culture - Lunenburg: Prettiest Painted Places -
Award Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 7420
Vote - Affirmative 7421
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 909, Commun. Serv. - Disabled: Social Assist. Reform - Plans,
Mr. W. Gaudet 7421
No. 910, Health - Meeting (Northern Region): Dep. Min. - Actions,
Mr. John MacDonell 7422
No. 911, Commun. Serv. - Disabled: Transportation Allowance -
Restore, Mr. R. MacKinnon 7424
No. 912, Commun. Serv. - Social Assist. Reform: Jobs - Availability,
Mr. K. Deveaux 7425
No. 913, Health - Min.: Nurses - Promises Broken, Dr. J. Smith 7426
No. 914, Health - Cuts: Consequences - Information Delay,
Dr. J. Smith 7428
No. 915, Health - Colchester Reg. Hosp.: Paediatric Care - Cuts,
Mr. D. Dexter 7429
No. 916, Justice - Reform Schools: Abuse - Claims Fraud,
Mr. M. Samson 7430
No. 917, Health - Care: Funding Reduction - Explain, Mr. D. Dexter 7431
No. 918, Commun. Serv. - Social Assist. Reform: Unemployment
Areas (High) - Rules Compliance, Mr. D. Wilson 7433
No. 919, Justice - Youth Centres: Claims Fraud - Inquiry,
Mr. H. Epstein 7434
No. 920, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 101: Twinning - Update,
Mr. P. MacEwan 7435
No. 921, Educ. - Schools: Roof Supports - Repair Cost,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7437
No. 922, Fin. - Quarterly Report: Revenue - Breakdown, Mr. D. Downe 7438
No. 923, Lbr. - Pioneer Coal: Lbr. Dispute - Action, Mr. F. Corbett 7439
No. 924, Fin. - Gov't. (Cdn.): Tax Cuts - Flow Through, Mr. D. Downe 7440
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 60, Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act 7441
The Premier 7441
Mr. Manning MacDonald 7442
Mr. John MacDonell 7450
Mr. P. MacEwan 7453
Mr. J. Pye 7460
Mr. M. Samson 7462
Mr. J. Holm 7466
Adjourned debate 7468
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Nat. Res. - Equalization Payts.: Clawbacks - Moratorium (10 yr.):
Mr. F. Corbett 7469
Mr. D. Downe 7471
Hon. G. Balser 7474
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Oct. 27th at 9:00 a.m. 7477

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HALIFAX, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party, on an introduction.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, to you and to all the members of the House, we have a special guest in the west gallery, Samina Thind. She is a Grade 11 student from Prince Andrew High School. She is doing job shadowing with me. She is interested in learning more about our political system in Nova Scotia. I would ask all members to give her our usual warm welcome. (Applause)

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

7381

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I rise today in recognition of the fact that this House has suffered a great loss since we last gathered. I know that the best wishes and support of all members are with the family of our former colleague, Eileen O'Connell. Their loss is profound and deep and our thoughts and support are with them.

The member for Halifax Fairview will be remembered for her combination of intellect and passion and for her tireless devotion in advancing the interests of all Nova Scotians. The member for Halifax Fairview was also a very humble person and that lent a special weight to her words. I think she would be a bit embarrassed by our praise today but it was hard earned and is well deserved. I shall personally remember Eileen for her gift of wit that was so effective in debate and during Question Period and so endearing at a personal level. When the member for Halifax Fairview asked, during Question Period, so, how is it going? You knew it wasn't going to go very well for the government benches. (Laughter)

Eileen's humour was a reflection of the joy she had for her work and the affection for her fellow members in this House. We will miss her. This province will miss her work as an advocate on behalf of the people.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that we observe a moment of silence so that we might honour and remember the gifts that the member for Halifax Fairview shared with us and with our province but before observing that, it might be appropriate if you would ask members on the other side to respond to this statement.

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, as Leader of the Liberal Party and on behalf of my caucus, I wish to join with the Premier in offering my condolences to Eileen's daughter, Carolyn, and to her mother and to her brothers and sisters on the loss of this exceptional person.

I first met Eileen after she was elected MLA for Halifax Fairview in 1996. It didn't take me long to realize that she was a dedicated and committed advocate on behalf of her constituents. You could see early on that she must have been a remarkable teacher.

Eileen loved education and she demonstrated her love of learning with her commitment to her role as Education Critic. I fondly recall the many times, when I was Minister of Education, Eileen and I would enjoy what I called spirited conversations concerning the education system in Nova Scotia. I especially remember the time when, after Question Period one day, Eileen and I were having lunch in the members' lounge and Eileen was laughing so I asked her, of course, what was so funny? She said, you caught me by surprise, you actually

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answered my question. (Laughter) So, as a result, I wasn't ready with an appropriate supplementary, she said. Coming from Eileen, that was the best compliment, Mr. Speaker.

So Eileen not only got along well with all of the MLAs but she also enjoyed the admiration and respect of the House of Assembly staff and all of the caucus offices. She had time for everyone, that is just the kind of person she was. Her presence, her energy and her smile will sadly be missed by her friends and colleagues. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Premier and the Acting Leader of the Liberal Party for their comments. Nothing in what you said is news to any of us in this caucus. As a relatively new member of the House, since 1998, I think we all realize that on lots of occasions we learn what goes on here mostly by the seat of our pants, there is not much in-servicing as to what to do. But for me, Eileen was that individual who I could go to and her calming effect, mostly through her sense of humour, not allowing you to worry more than necessary, was the easiest thing to allow me to grow.

Before I turn things over to the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic, I would like to take the opportunity to introduce some of Eileen's family and friends who are seated in the Speaker's Gallery: Eileen's sister, Peggy O'Connell; Eileen's sister-in-law, Mary Jane White; a good friend, Margaret Wright; Eileen's constituency assistant, Ali Rahr; and another very good friend of Eileen's and the Leader of our Party, Helen MacDonald. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, it seems almost appropriate that I just stood up and kicked over my garbage can, because that was one of the things Eileen always did whenever she moved in here. She would say, here, will you take this? Then she would shove her garbage can over under my feet and then she would spend the next several weeks filling it full of paper. I was also thinking about how Eileen and I would be sitting here listening to what people were saying and she would lean over to me, on this occasion, and say, who are they talking about? Surely they are not talking about me. I think the Premier referred to her as being humble and she was very much that.

I want to thank our Leader and our caucus for allowing me an opportunity to say a few words. You know, Eileen came into this place shortly after I became Leader in 1996. She broke the bond that was developing between John Holm and I, and that was the first of many good things that Eileen O'Connell did. (Laughter) She did make a difference to our caucus then and throughout the time she was part of it. I never met anyone - well, maybe my daughter - who was quite as determined, persistent and single-minded as Eileen was.

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As you know, she had been a stalwart in the New Democratic Party for many, many years and she ran for the New Democratic Party to be an MLA on a number of occasions, finally succeeding in 1996. She believed, to her core, in the political process. She believed that the New Democratic Party could and did make a difference to the lives of Nova Scotians and Canadians and she wanted to be part of that and she was determined to do that. When she was elected in June 1996, I know how thrilled she was and how thrilled many of us were that she was going to finally be able to join us here in this House. A lot of people worked extremely hard, some of the people in the gallery who were such good friends of Eileen's, to ensure that she get to this place and that she be able to fulfil the destiny she was determined to fulfil.

I want you to know that she was an interesting member of our caucus, whether there was the three of us or four us, when Helen came along in 1997, or whether it was the 19 of us or back to the 11 of us, she always held the Leader's feet to the fire. She was a stickler for detail; she had a great sense of humour, you saw some of it here, let me tell you we all saw a lot of it in our operations as caucus.

Mr. Speaker, members of the House, she was a wonderful colleague, she was someone who set an example. I think everybody at one point in their lives wonders, what will people think when I am gone, how will I be remembered, did I make a difference, did I have an impact, did I use the time I had here effectively? I can't help but notice, as I have heard people talk about Eileen so much, and something that I feel so strongly, is that Eileen made a difference. Eileen made a difference in our lives, in my life, in the lives of her family, in the lives of Nova Scotians, and in the lives of any people who came in contact with her or saw what it was that she did.

She has left a legacy, a legacy of loyalty, of dedication, of courage and of strength. I for one, and I know members here join me, certainly in the caucus and her family and friends are going to sorely miss Eileen O'Connell for who she was. I thank the Premier for suggesting that we have a minute a silence to recognize the contribution that Eileen made to this Legislature. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: All rise, please.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

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RESOLUTION NO. 2793

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

Whereas on Thursday, September 28th, Canadians lost a former Prime Minister with the passing of the Right Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau; and

Whereas Pierre Trudeau shaped the history of Canada in the 20th Century like few people did; and

Whereas one of Pierre Trudeau's lasting legacies was the passage of the Constitution Act of 1982, which included the Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House, on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia, express deep regret and sorrow at the death of Pierre Elliott Trudeau and convey our deepest sympathies to his family.

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 Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 2794

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

Whereas following 21 years of public service, which includes service at both the provincial and federal levels, former Premier Russell MacLellan has retired from political life; and

[Page 7386]

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas his passion to represent the needs of his constituents in Cape Breton and subsequently of the people of this province was obvious in his words and deeds; and

Whereas through his 18 years in federal politics and his three years as Nova Scotia Liberal Leader and Premier, Russell's love for Nova Scotia and most especially the issues and the people of his native Cape Breton Island was exemplary;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature join me as we commend Russell for his years in public life and the personal sacrifices made during those years and wish him all the best as he is finally free to enjoy more time with his two children and his wife as well as his native home in Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 2795

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

Whereas for the 9th year the month of October has been celebrated as Women's History Month in Canada; and

Whereas October is so designated because of the Persons Case of October 18, 1929, through which Canadian women were deemed to be persons and eligible to participate fully at all levels of public life; and

Whereas we have seen much progress in Canadian women's lives since 1929, but still too many women are in poverty and too many suffer violence while too few women are sitting as representatives in this and other legislative bodies across Canada;

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Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and applaud the progress of women in all aspects of Canadian life and that we work to assure that the progress of women continues and escalates.

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 Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 2796

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

Whereas this week the department's Director of Long Term Care, Dean Hirtle, accepted a certificate of appreciation from the Alzheimer Society on behalf of the department; and

Whereas the certificate, "Recognition of Significant Contribution", recognizes the Department of Health's contribution, financial and participatory, on two studies on dementia units and programs in nursing homes; and

Whereas this is yet another example of how government is working to improve health care for all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House be encouraged by this recognition and hope that these studies will help advance the treatment and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias and eventually ease the suffering of those with forms of dementia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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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 Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 2797

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Monsieur le président, à une date ultérieure, j'ai l'intention de proposer l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que le troisième Congrès mondial acadien, le plus grand rassemblement international d'Acadiens et d'Acadiennes, aura lieu en Nouvelle-Écosse au mois d'août 2004;

Attendu que la Société Acadie-Nouvelle-Écosse 2004 a élu un comité organisateur du Congrès mondial acadien qui travaille depuis plus de un an à la préparation d'un document guide pour ce grand événement; et

Attendu que le comité organisateur a embauché une direction générale pour la planification et la coordination des nombreuses activités qui sont prévus pour 2004;

Qu'il soit résolu que cette assemblée félicite Madame Vaughne Madden, la nouvelle directrice générale, ainsi que les membres du comité organisateur et leur souhaite bon succès dans l'organisation du Congrès mondial acadien 2004.

Monsieur le président, je demand l'adoption de cette résolution sans préavis et sans débat.

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat in English.

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

Whereas the third Congrès mondial acadien, the largest international Acadian homecoming, will take place in Nova Scotia in August 2004; and

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Whereas the Société Acadie-Nouvelle-Écosse 2004 has elected an organizing committee which has been working for more than one year at the preparation of guidelines for this event; and

Whereas the committee has just selected a new executive director to coordinate the numerous activities that will be part of this major event;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Ms. Vaughne Madden, the new executive director, and the members of the organizing committee and wish them much success in their endeavour.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and the question be put without debate.

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 Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 2798

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

Whereas cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates in Nova Scotia are among the highest in Canada; and

Whereas only about 4 of every 10 women in this province have pap tests regularly, even though cervical cancer is nearly 100 per cent preventable if detected early; and

Whereas annual pap tests save women's lives and protect women who might otherwise suffer the devastating effects of cervical cancer;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize October 25th to October 31st as Pap Test Awareness Week and thank the Nova Scotia Gynaecological Cancer Screening Programme and the Pap Test Awareness Week committee for being committed to informing Nova Scotians about the importance of annual pap tests.

[Page 7390]

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 Cape Breton Centre.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, with the indulgence of the House if I could, I would like to table these letters along with this introduction, if it is all right with the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre, on an introduction.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you in the House a group of women. These are widows who are elderly and ill, and some could not attend. They are now in a struggle with this very government. Their names are Betty Bauman; Debbie Krewenki; Lorraine Jacques; Lillian MacGillvray; Rita Muise; Jenny Kublik; Jean Curry; Carol Lovell; Patricia Sampson; Patricia Roper; Florence Wilson; Bev MacLean; Rose Connelly; Diana Laird; Shirley Dicket; Beulah Wissint; Shirley Munroe; and Doug Smith who is representing Kathleen MacKay, his mother, from Sambro who passed away October 21, 2000. Thank you. (Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 61 - Entitled an Act to Facilitate Electronic Commerce. (Hon. Michael Baker.)

Bill No. 62 - Entitled an Act to Encourage the Attainment of Independence and Self-sufficiency through Employment Support and Income Assistance. (Hon. Peter Christie.)

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Bill No. 63 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 246 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Labour Standards Code. (Hon. Angus MacIsaac.)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2799

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

Whereas in May 1999 the provincial government announced that new P to 12 schools would be built in Clare and Argyle with scheduled completion to take place this year; and

Whereas the present Tory Government has decided to build a P to 12 school in Argyle and a Grades 7-12 school in Clare; and

Whereas this Tory Minister of Education has totally ignored the needs of the citizens of Clare and Weymouth by refusing to honour the commitment made by the government in May 1999;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education stop this Tory pork barrel political game and explain to those parents and students affected by this change why this Tory Government has decided not to honour the commitment made by the government in May 1999.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver, please.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

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RESOLUTION NO. 2800

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

Whereas on Wednesday, September 27th, Eileen O'Connell lost her courageous two year battle with breast cancer; and

Whereas Eileen was committed to education as a teacher herself and then as an MLA, she was committed to equality and the advancement of women, she was committed to Nova Scotia and to the writers who put our feelings and ideas into words; and

Whereas despite her illness Eileen continued to work demonstrating her commitment to her fellow persons, her love of being an MLA and her desire to assist those in our society who needed help the most;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House offer their condolences to Eileen's daughter, Carolyn, and her mother, Jean, as well as to the rest of her family, her many friends and her constituents.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 2801

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

Whereas there was once a fine woman named Eileen, whose fierce love of family, politics and education reigned supreme; and

[Page 7393]

Whereas her presence in this great place, after fighting many a good race lent great weight to any cause, especially a better education for young tots; and

Whereas this outstanding, talented woman has become a role model for all women who into politics may follow; will also stand as a great fighter of her toughest battle, and while we are the losers, her spirit and courage was never rattled;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House, who share my same sorrow, for one who should have lived so many more tomorrows, salute Eileen, through this somewhat poorly poetic verse, a politician, educator, daughter, sister and mother and good friend to all in this House.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed.

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2802

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

Whereas the Premier and the Minister of Economic Development recently announced the creation of Nova Scotia Business Inc., a private sector-run organization to dole out taxpayers' money and eliminating political accountability; and

Whereas as Nova Scotia Business Inc. is nothing more than a reincarnation of the now defunct Industrial Estates Inc., in other words, "Out with the old and in with the older"; and

Whereas this is clearly an attempt by the government to eliminate the middle man so that Tories can give taxpayer money to Tories and friends of the Premier;

[Page 7394]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize that the creation of Nova Scotia Business Inc. is part of a time-honoured Nova Scotia tradition of Tories helping Tories, more commonly known as, "The Sobey's Touch".

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2803

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

Whereas oil and gas royalties are new revenues to be invested in health, education and other essential services so Nova Scotia can stand on its own feet and contribute to a stronger Canada; and

Whereas in 1986 the federal and Nova Scotia Governments agreed from day one that equalization would capture 70 per cent of these provincial royalties for the federal government; and

Whereas the federal government then proceeded to unilaterally reduce equalization payments and did not adopt the recent provincial consensus plan for a new fairer formula;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the adoption of the new fairer equalization formula that the provinces are seeking and urges a 10 year moratorium on calculation of Atlantic oil and gas royalties for equalization purposes.

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 Annapolis.

[Page 7395]

RESOLUTION NO. 2804

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

Whereas Nova Scotia lost a former Progressive Conservative member of the Legislature this fall, Judge Hanson Taylor Dowell; and

Whereas Judge Dowell was first elected to the Legislature for Annapolis East in 1960, he was a founding member of the Western Counties Bar Association and served as a judge in many levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia; and

[2:45 p.m.]

Whereas in addition to his significant professional achievements, Judge Dowell was well known for his service to his community and his country and for his enthusiastic support of hockey;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature join me as we recall the life of a former member of this House and extend sincere condolences to Judge Dowell's family.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2805

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

Whereas Donald Stewart Cox of Truro was inducted into the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame; and

[Page 7396]

Whereas each year the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame honours members of the agricultural community for outstanding contributions to the industry, community and farm organizations; and

Whereas Mr. Cox had a long and successful career as an agricultural representative and provincial swine specialist with the former Department of Agriculture and Marketing; in addition, he has been a life-long supporter of the provincial 4-H Program;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Donald Stewart Cox for being inducted into the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame and recognize his outstanding contribution to the Nova Scotia agricultural industry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 2806

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

Whereas October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; and

Whereas breast cancer continues to be one of the leading killers of women today; and

Whereas no woman is safe from this terrible disease, as members of this House are all too well aware;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature encourage all women in this province to have regular mammograms and perform self-exams in the hope that early detection will save lives.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 7397]

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. 2807

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

Whereas Dr. Norman James "Jim" MacLean passed away on the afternoon of July 3, 2000 at the Inverness Consolidated Memorial Hospital, where he had spent much of his medical practice helping others; and

Whereas Dr. Jim served the constituency of Inverness North and the Province of Nova Scotia as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for 15 years; and

Whereas his generous contributions to the health and welfare of his community will be remembered by the many individuals he touched;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the contributions of this proud son of Inverness County with our thoughts and prayers as they go out to his family, especially to his wife, Dorothy "Toby" MacLean.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 7398]

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2808

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

Whereas earlier this week, hundreds of frustrated residents gathered in Tatamagouche to voice concerns about bed closures and services at the Lillian Fraser Memorial Hospital; and

Whereas staff were originally told that five beds would be converted, and only later learned that they were scheduled to close; and

Whereas now bed closures in the former northern region have been put on hold, only adding to the confusion over the health care system in the area;

Therefore be it resolved that the Health Minister stop playing word games with health cuts and tell the people of Tatamagouche the extent of health cuts so they may have some resolution to their concerns.

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 member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2809

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

Whereas this Tory Government now spends the least per capita for health care funding in Canada; and

Whereas the Premier of this province ran his election campaign on making health care his number one priority; and

[Page 7399]

Whereas it appears that the Premier and his Party really meant that health care would be the number one priority to cut;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Health re-examine their cuts to our health care system and try to bring their thinking in line with Nova Scotians who want more spent on health care.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 2810

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

Whereas in September we all stayed up late at night to watch our proud Canadians compete in Australia during the Summer Olympics; and

Whereas on the last day of competition, most Nova Scotians stayed close to our televisions to watch Waverley's own Karen Furneaux and her teammate Carolyn Brunet in the K2 kayak event; and

Whereas although the conditions of the day were not favourable and the Furneaux/Brunet team didn't capture a medal, they still made Canadians proud;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Karen Furneaux, Carolyn Brunet and all the Canadian athletes who competed in the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 7400]

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. 2811

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

Whereas from October 6th to October 14th Cape Breton once again hosted the Celtic Colours International Festival; and

Whereas this world-class event draws music fans from Europe, Asia and across North America; and

Whereas since 1998 the Celtic Colours International Festival, the celebration of Celtic music and culture, has been listed as one of the top 100 events in North America;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the organizers, the sponsors and the many volunteers who made the fourth annual Celtic Colours International Festival such a success.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

[Page 7401]

RESOLUTION NO. 2812

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

Whereas statistics show that the Ben Jackson Road intersection between Hantsport and Avonport is the second most dangerous stretch of Nova Scotia's deadly Highway No. 101; and

Whereas the Ben Jackson Road intersection is the only interchange on the limited access 100-Series Highway where exiting vehicles are required to come to a complete stop in the face of oncoming traffic in order to exit Highway No. 101; and

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Public Works himself said, "This highway has been studied enough, we need action.";

Therefore be it resolved that this government act immediately to construct a proper interchange with merging lanes for cars going onto the highway, standard, identifiable exit ramps for those turning off and install an overpass so local area residents can continue travelling the Ben Jackson Road without having to cross several lanes of highway traffic.

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 Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2813

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

Whereas for the second straight year, the Kentville Wildcats captured the Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League championship; and

Whereas in a complete team effort, the Wildcats defeated the rival Dartmouth Moosehead Dry in a hard-fought final series; and

[Page 7402]

Whereas as a result of their championship performance in 1999, the Wildcats represented the NSSBL at the Senior Baseball Nationals earlier this summer putting on a strong performance;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Kentville Wildcats, Head Coach Jim Mosher, General Manager Norma MacLeod, the players and all involved with the organization on another banner season and wish them well as they host the nationals next summer.

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 East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2814

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

Whereas the people of Glace Bay have been subjected to unacceptable levels of trihalomethane in their water for over a year now; and

Whereas the government response so far has been to leave the problem to the devices of the municipality except in the case of Judique and Yarmouth; and

Whereas clearly the government considers the health of people in Tory ridings to be more important and more deserving of clean water than people in other parts of the province;

Therefore be it resolved that the government move immediately to help replace the Glace Bay water supply so that the people of Glace Bay are no longer subjected to high levels of the cancer-causing chemical trihalomethane.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 7403]

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. 2815

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

Whereas Kell Antoft of Bridgewater will be inducted into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame on Friday, October 27th; and

Whereas Kell's many accomplishments include being a certified ski instructor in the Canadian Ski Instructors' Alliance since 1968, past president of the Nova Scotia Ski Areas Association, a member of the board of directors of Katimavik and founder of the Nova Scotia Seniors Skiers Club; and

Whereas Kell's many awards also include the King Christian War Medal, Skier of the Year award, and the Dalhousie Sport Development award;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Kell Antoft on his many accomplishments in his life, and also for giving to his community so generously of his time.

I would request waiver and passage without debate.

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 Preston.

[Page 7404]

RESOLUTION NO. 2816

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

Whereas Lake Echo resident, and Orenda Canoe Club paddler, Steve Giles captured the bronze medal in the 1000-metre C1 event at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia; and

Whereas following the medal presentation, Steve posed for the media proudly displaying his medal around his neck, holding a Canadian flag in one hand and a Nova Scotian flag in the other; and

Whereas while Nova Scotians sat fixated on their televisions half-a-world away, Steve's wife Angella, his partner in life, was on hand to see his medal-winning performance;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Steve Giles on bringing home to Nova Scotia, Canada, an Olympic medal from the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, and for his lifelong commitment to sporting excellence.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 2817

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 start of construction of a fisheries research lab and training facility has begun in the community of Eskasoni; and

[Page 7405]

Whereas this new $2.5 million facility will have a marine exhibit and labs for scientific fishery education in Eskasoni; and

Whereas more than 90 students will be enrolled in the training program;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Eskasoni Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Band Council and all the residents of Eskasoni on their hard work, and wish them continued success with this project.

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 Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 2818

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

Whereas hundreds of candidates across the province put their names forward for both the school board and municipal elections held last Saturday; and

Whereas for those who came forward for public service and for those who were successful in their election to public office, congratulations are extended; and

Whereas the end result of the election saw many returning to their term of duty while others are fresh on the scene, bringing a healthy combination of experience and fresh ideas;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all elected members to the boards and councils, and wish them great success as they work toward enhancing their communities through their elected positions.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 7406]

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 2819

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

Whereas the Premier's old friend and campaign manager, Cyril Reddy, was hired to liaise between the lonely Tory caucus and their Cabinet colleagues; and

Whereas former Tory Cabinet Ministers, Guy LeBlanc and Leroy Legere, were recently given major appointments within the Department of Education; and

Whereas this government had travelled to New Brunswick to fill the position of Deputy Minister of Education, to hire a prominent New Brunswick Tory MLA with an attached salary of more than $120,000;

Therefore be it resolved that before the Premier tells underprivileged Nova Scotians to be more self-reliant, it is time to tell former Tory hacks to be more self-reliant and find their own jobs.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 2820

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

Whereas the yellow and blue ribbons worn today recognize Autism Awareness Month; and

[Page 7407]

Whereas every year the Autism Society works to raise awareness of this developmental disability of the brain, a condition which affects one to two of every 1,000 births; and

[3:00 p.m.]

Whereas effective intervention, treatment and education exists for those with autism, which results in significant improvements in nearly 90 per cent of the affected population;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House applaud the efforts of the Autism Society of Mainland Nova Scotia as it continues its work during October and year-round to educate the public on conditions of autism, and assisting afflicted children, adults and their families.

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 Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2821

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

Whereas in 1998, the Liberal Governments, both federal and provincial provided, financial assistance ensuring the construction of Phase I of the Birch Grove Sewer Project; and

Whereas the cooperative approach with CBRM must be continued to complete this project;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs financially commit to the completion of the Birch Grove Sewer Project.

[Page 7408]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 2822

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

Whereas the skipper and crew of the Picton Castle have travelled to many schools around the world; and

Whereas many schools they have visited were in need of textbooks and classroom supplies; and

Whereas the skipper and crew of the Picton Castle wanted to assist the less fortunate children of the world and have gathered approximately 20 ton of donated materials which they will be distributing to needy schools during their upcoming world tour;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulates the skipper and crew of the Picton Castle on their efforts to promote education throughout the world.

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 Cape Breton Nova.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, before I read my resolution, I would like to make an introduction to the House. I notice in the gallery my very good friend, Councillor Vincent Hall, who represents Grand Lake Road, Reserve Mines and a good part of the Town of Glace Bay in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. He was recently re-elected to office. Perhaps we could give an appropriate round of applause to Councillor Vincent Hall. (Applause)

[Page 7409]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2823

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

Whereas the people of Cape Breton, above all other places in Canada, need effective representation in government; and

Whereas the mission of the so-called New Democratic Party over the past few years has been to marginalize Cape Breton and rob it of an effective plug-in to the national government in Ottawa; and

Whereas as a result under NDP representation even stalwart New Democrats are comparing current conditions in Cape Breton to those of a Third World country;

Therefore be it resolved that the people of Cape Breton deserve better than representatives in Ottawa who neither can nor will participate in the government process, but are affiliated with a Party which is headed for imminent oblivion.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes on an introduction.

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I stand and introduce, to all members of the House, two residents from my constituency, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Purdie from the Coxheath area. Mr. and Mrs. Purdie are well respected and involved in the community. I would ask that all members of the House give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2824

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

Whereas on September 30th, the Town of New Glasgow welcomed a new water treatment centre; and

[Page 7410]

Whereas the quality of the water supply for this community has been a concern for some time, however the facility, combined with a watershed management plan, will ensure an adequate, long-term and safe supply for the New Glasgow and Westville areas; and

Whereas its modern filtration system will effectively treat the water;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the significant step forward this opening has brought the Town of New Glasgow to a clean and quality water supply for its residents.

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 Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2825

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

Whereas October 22nd to October 28th has been designated Occupational Therapy Week; and

Whereas during Occupational Therapy Week, the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists will launch the "Ask the OT" section on their website to allow Canadians to ask therapists about problems that interfere with their daily living; and

Whereas occupational therapy supports and contributes to the health and wellness of all Canadians;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize this week as Occupational Therapy Week, October 22nd to October 28th.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 7411]

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 South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2826

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, it is appropriate that I follow the honourable member for Dartmouth East since he and I both attended this wonderful opening.

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

Whereas East Side Mario's is a member of the Prime Restaurant Group, one of Canada's leading casual dining chains; and

Whereas the 74th East Side Mario's restaurant in Canada opened its doors at MicMac Mall in Dartmouth this week; and

Whereas with the opening of the new restaurant, Prime Restaurant Group is showing confidence in and supporting the burgeoning business climate in Dartmouth;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Prime Restaurant Group on the opening of East Side Mario's at MicMac Mall and wish them all the best in their further endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 7412]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 2827

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

Whereas earlier this week the Premier said that there were no pressing national issues and therefore no reason to have an early federal election; and

Whereas the Premier, himself, buckled under pressure from his caucus and forced Nova Scotians to the polls last year at a cost of nearly $7 million; and

Whereas the Premier must be worried that a bad showing by the federal Tories will reflect poorly on his own government;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should admit that the real reason he did not want an election is because he is grateful for the millions of dollars being delivered to Nova Scotia by the federal Liberal Government. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2828

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

Whereas in 1773 the Ship Hector sailed into Pictou Harbour with a cargo of Scottish immigrants eager to begin a new life in a new land; and

Whereas amid the cheers of thousands of Nova Scotians and visitors from around the world, a replica of the Ship Hector was launched into the waters of Pictou Harbour this past September; and

Whereas Launch 2000 was a celebration marking the realization of a dream and recognizing the 10 years of hard work involved in this project to honour the original Hector settlers and the Town of Pictou as the Birthplace of New Scotland;

[Page 7413]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate everyone involved with the Ship Hector Project and Launch 2000 and wish a fair wind to all who sail the Ship Hector in the future.

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 East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2829

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

Whereas the municipalities, the province and the federal government recently signed a $200 million infrastructure agreement; and

Whereas, unfortunately, poorer municipalities, like the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, cannot afford to come up with the one-third funding for projects like the Glace Bay water supply; and

Whereas this means that the people of Glace Bay continue to be assaulted by high levels of trihalomethane, putting their lives at risk through long-term exposure;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier, himself, ensure that the people of Glace Bay have access to safe and clean drinking water by providing the funds for a new water system.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 7414]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2830

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

Whereas Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, native Scott Fraser is making a name for himself on the professional stock car racing circuit in North America, especially in the United States; and (Interruptions)

Whereas beginning at the age of 16, Scott won the rookie of the year sportsman division, and set a record for the most wins in a single year at the Onslow, Colchester County speedway; and

Whereas on July 16th of this past summer, Scott made his debut at the Delco Race in Chicago, where he qualified second on the pole position against 48 other regulars;

Therefore be it resolved that the MLAs in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly commend Scott for his dedication and hard work and wish him continued success in the ever-challenging field of professional stock car racing.

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 Annapolis.

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce a fine young gentleman who I have met in the last few days, Cory Boudreau, the son of the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes. Mr. Boudreau, would you please stand and be recognized by the House. (Applause)

[Page 7415]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2831

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 Wednesday, September 27, 2000, the Eskasoni Community Health Care Centre marked its grand opening; and

Whereas among its health care workers are two doctors, nurses, a social worker, a pharmacist and a dentist; and

Whereas this health care centre has raised the level of awareness in the community and has generated a sense of pride among its residents;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the importance of the new Eskasoni Community Health Care Centre and congratulate all those who made this project a reality.

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 Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 2832

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

Whereas the largest halibut aquaculture facility in North America recently opened in Shelburne County; and

[Page 7416]

Whereas Scotian Halibut Limited has taken over two vacant fish processing plants in Clark's Harbour and Wood's Harbour in partnership with an Icelandic company known as Fiskey, and has turned them into world class aquaculture facilities; and

Whereas the two facilities, when fully developed are expected to produce 225 metric tonnes or 500,000 pounds of halibut annually;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend our warmest wishes to Scotian Halibut Limited of Shelburne County for striking their partnership with Fiskey Limited, while wishing them every success as they move to create additional employment in Shelburne County.

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 2833

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

Whereas this summer the Minister of Education threw Richmond County's education system into mass confusion by reneging on the government's commitment to build a new P to 12 Acadian school in Petit-de-Grat; and

Whereas the decision was made following the deputy minister's visit to the area, which followed a meeting with members of the local Tory executive; and

Whereas the actions of the minister were politically motivated, since the actions were based on advice received from her deputy minister;

Therefore be it resolved that it is time to tell former Tory hacks from New Brunswick that they are not needed or wanted here in Nova Scotia.

[Page 7417]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2834

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

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Public Works called tenders this year for the paving of a section of Highway No. 4 in Cape Breton County; and

Whereas this tender call was cancelled as a result of the bids being too high; and

Whereas during the Public Accounts Committee meeting earlier this week, the Deputy Minister of Transportation and Public Works said the department plans to call for tenders again next summer;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works ensure that this commitment to call tenders next summer be fulfilled despite the objections of Tory backbenchers.

[3:15 p.m.]

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 Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 2835

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

Whereas a Nova Scotia environmental firm, Phase Remediation Incorporated of Dartmouth, is bound for Serbia; and

[Page 7418]

Whereas the Nova Scotia company was chosen just this month by the United Nations to start cleaning up contaminated sites in that war-torn country; and

Whereas Phase is the only Canadian company asked to participate in a project that not only is good for the environment, but also enhances the reputation of Nova Scotian ingenuity;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Phase Remediation Incorporated for its work in developing and promoting its Nova Scotia environmental expertise around the world and for securing this important project, as well as the province's Environmental Technology Division for its assistance along the way.

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 Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2836

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

Whereas the National Post's front page headline October 16th read, Big Labour Braces for NDP Ruin; and

Whereas the item below quoted NDP stalwarts Basil "Buzz" Hargrove and NDP Winnipeg Centre MP Pat Martin as claiming that the NDP was finished; and

Whereas Pat Martin, who is Chair of the NDP Labour Caucus, added that his Party was going into this election in a desperate situation;

Therefore be it resolved that the statements of Martin and Hargrove be applauded as they demonstrate that there are at least two members in the NDP prepared to admit the truth, that their Party stands on the brink of annihilation.

[Page 7419]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 2837

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

Whereas Kirk Johnson of NorthPreston, an up-and-coming star in the world of professional boxing, recently defeated Oleg Maskaev to push his undefeated record to 30-0-1; and

Whereas following his fight, Kirk proudly displayed a Canadian flag in the ring; and

Whereas with that victory, Kirk is now a leading contender for the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship, and is a role model and an inspiration for many;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Kirk Johnson on his recent victory and wish him the best of luck and continued success as he goes after the world title.

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 South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2838

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

Whereas less than 20 per cent of children under the age of four are correctly buckled into their car seats; and

[Page 7420]

Whereas traffic accidents are the number one cause of death in children ages one to nine; and

Whereas a Buckle Up Bears car seat clinic recently took place at the Cole Harbour Fire Department in Dartmouth, in collaboration with the Nova Scotia Safety Council, to raise awareness about this important issue and educate on proper use of child car seats;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House commend the Nova Scotia Safety Council, The Co-operators, the Canada Safety Council and the Infant and Toddler Safety Association for their important contributions to the Buckle Up Bears program.

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 Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 2839

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

Whereas the Town of Lunenburg is well known for its beauty and picturesque qualities; and

Whereas the Town of Lunenburg has recently been awarded the title of one of the three Prettiest Painted Places in Canada; and

Whereas as part of winning the contest, the town will now be featured in Canadian House and Home magazine;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the Town of Lunenburg on being one of the Prettiest Painted Places in Canada.

[Page 7421]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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.

Just before we go the orders of the day, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Halifax Needham:

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the need for a 10 year moratorium on the clawbacks of equalization payment as royalties are obtained from offshore oil and gas.

This will be debated this evening at 6:00 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 3:20 p.m. and will end at 4:20 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

COMMUN. SERV. - DISABLED:

SOCIAL ASSIST. REFORM - PLANS

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Yesterday the minister revealed his so-called plan for social assistance reform while the press conference was nothing more than an attempt at a public relations exercise. There was a group of his department's clients noticeably absent in his comments and those are the most vulnerable, those with physical and mental disabilities. My first question to the minister is, what are his government's plans for changes to the assistance rates for those most vulnerable in our society, the mentally and physically disabled?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. Yes, we did have the press conference yesterday. We did have some members of the disabled community there, the LEO group were there as you know. You had a chance to speak to them and what we indicated to them yesterday is that the rates for disabled persons

[Page 7422]

will be staying constant with the highest rates they have had. We have also indicated to them that the supports for other benefits will be increased for that group also.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, according to the Community Advocates Network, almost three-quarters of the clients on family benefits are disabled. These are clients that have significant barriers to employment, such as transportation, accessibility to buildings and medical difficulties. My supplementary question to the minister, has the minister considered these factors while determining the rates for social assistance?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, we indicated yesterday to groups and to our clients that core rates were going to be set at certain rates and that most people don't take core rates as the only benefits that they need. We have indicated to people of our clients and, indeed, to people who are on disabilities that their ability to get more access for transportation monies to go to hospitals, to go to medical situations, will be increased as we announced the increase in the maximum amount for transportation yesterday.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the Community Advocates Network has indicated that some medications are no longer being covered and my final question to the minister, has he consulted with the Department of Health to determine whether shifting the cost from his department is just going to impact negatively later in our acute care system?

MR. CHRISTIE: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we have had extensive discussions with the Department of Health in the terms of Pharmacare for our clients and, indeed, in terms of the drugs that are available. We have had continuing discussions and we will be having those in the future as times change and trends continue.

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

HEALTH - MEETING (NORTHERN REGION):

DEP. MIN. - ACTIONS

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question through you will be to the Minister of Health. I will table some alarming minutes from a meeting between your deputy, your CEO of the northern region and doctors from Tatamagouche and Truro. This meeting was held to discuss your government's decision to cut acute care. Mr. Minister, these minutes report that your deputy spent much of the meeting brushing dust off his shoulders and picking apart a styrofoam cup. The doctors report that he was rude, disinterested and inattentive. My question to the minister, does your deputy's action represent this government's new attitude toward health care workers in this province?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question. I was not at the meeting and I am really surprised that he would bring in allegations like that on the floor of this House. It is really kind of ridiculous.

[Page 7423]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, this government said replacing health boards with authorities would help solve our problem by placing decision making at the community level, but in these minutes your own deputy indicates the implementation of the hospital business plan is a mess. My question to the minister, will he tell us how Nova Scotians can have any confidence in this government when your own deputy is saying things are a mess?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I don't know these minutes to which he is referring. Certainly they are not ones that have come from our department. They may be notes that are somebody's perception of what took place at the meeting, but to call them minutes may not be entirely accurate.

I want to tell you that our deputy, like all members in my department, is very interested in seeing that this province has a sustainable health care system. There have to be some adjustments made, but I want to tell the honourable member, and he knows, that the people being served by the Lillian Fraser Hospital in Tatamagouche will continue to have first-class services next year.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, it gets worse. These minutes reveal that the Northern Regional Health Board CEO, Dr. Rippey, said that the implementation process for this government's health care budget is badly flawed. He said he was asked by your department to make the decisions regarding cost savings in the Northern Region itself and to keep the matter confidential. I want to ask the minister what he is going to do about his badly-flawed budget process that suggests one man make decisions on health care cuts for all of northern Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for that. Again, I would caution and encourage members of the House not to take what the honourable member has said - and I think probably in good faith - as accurate. It probably reflects one person's perception.

I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, indeed, one of the difficulties we did have when we assumed office was how decisions were made. Unfortunately, around the province, decisions were being made for the most part in geographical areas which were not appropriate. Our movement to the district health authorities - and indeed we did learn some things this year about business planning, Mr. Speaker, I agree with that, but I want to tell you that the formation of the district health authorities - is going to give better business planning to this process probably than it has ever seen before.

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

[Page 7424]

COMMUN. SERV. - DISABLED:

TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCE - RESTORE

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. In a previous answer, the minister indicated about increasing the rates for mentally and physically challenged persons in Nova Scotia on their transportation costs, yet the facts show that the transportation allowance has been cut out altogether out of the minister's budget. Given the fact that we have over 10,000 in the province who require dependable, accessible transportation, and it is important for them to get to their drug stores and the doctors' appointments and so on for very vital basic human needs, my question to the minister is, will he commit to restoring the funding for the transportation allowance for the mentally and physically challenged people in Nova Scotia?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member, had he read the announcement that we made yesterday, will be aware that for people that are in work activity centres, we indicated to them that they will be allowed to keep earnings after expenses, which would be transportation allowance and other allowances, up to a maximum of $150 after the calculation was done. We also indicated that we were increasing the transportation allowance up to $150 - to address just those concerns that the honourable member raised.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, what the honourable minister is saying is that he is going be selective of who, within the disabled community, is going to benefit by those rates. Several years ago, the provincial government - it was under a previous Tory Administration in fact - provided $0.25 million to Acadia Lines to retrofit their busing across Nova Scotia so as to accommodate persons with disabilities. Instead of retrofitting those buses, what they did was they bought one new bus for the entire province. My question to the minister is, given the fact that disabled persons in Nova Scotia do not have proper access to a public transit system across Nova Scotia, will he undertake to provide some measures in a reasonable and timely fashion so as to ensure disabled persons in Nova Scotia will be able to use our public transit system?

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member speaks to the reason why we introduced the bill that we did. Previous to this we had two different classes of clients, one was Family Benefits and one was Social Assistance. With this Act that we have introduced and the rates we announced yesterday, everyone will be on an equal footing and they will be able to access those special needs and those other items that they require.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the mentally and physically challenged people in Nova Scotia don't need legislation, they need a financial commitment from this minister to do something now. That is the problem. They cut in the budget and they are doing nothing.

[Page 7425]

My question for the minister. When are you going to put the money on the table to help these people in this fiscal year?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raised the issue of busing, the busing issue that was going on. He is quite correct that there is a busing program under the Disabled Persons' Commission that has been working in various areas to help those people, and I can assure the honourable member that it is our government's intent and our concern to help those people as much as possible.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - SOCIAL ASSIST. REFORM: JOBS - AVAILABILITY

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services as well. In the last week we have heard the minister talk a lot about moving people from welfare to work and those are very noble words, but I think one of the most important things - in fact, I would say the most important piece - if we are to move people from welfare to work, is a job. In places like Cape Breton where the official unemployment rate is 17 per cent, when you talk about those, like people on assistance who aren't even counted, it is more like 30 per cent. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, what are you doing to ensure that there are going to be jobs for people when you do push them off welfare?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member will know, when we introduced our program the other day we gave them two commitments. The commitments were: to help people to work toward lifelong learning, and to prepare themselves to go back into the workforce. My honourable colleague, the Minister of Economic Development, developed the economic strategy this year and that is part of the program. We don't stand alone. We are working all of those programs together.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Community Services. This minister announced yesterday that this government would be increasing child care benefits from $300 to $400 for those people who will be looking for work. The problem is that even at the most inexpensive rates for child care, it is more than $400 per child. So if you have two children, it is actually over $800 a month to put a child in licensed day care. My question to this minister is, given that there are not enough licensed day-care spaces, and given that the money you are providing to single mothers is not enough to cover licensed day-care space, even one, why can you assume that people are going to be able to move from welfare to work and why do you have such high expectations when clearly these people don't have the supports to do it?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member indicated one of the problems that we recognized in the program as we moved forward. That is clearly why we announced yesterday that we are setting up other options for people under day care, to have people in

[Page 7426]

the community, to have relatives that they could have day care with them as they try to find those opportunities and as the number of day-care spaces grow.

MR. DEVEAUX: I am glad to see the Minister of Community Services is so supportive of licensed day care that he will just allow non-licensed people to be looking after children.

My last question, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Community Services is, disabled people in this province, under your system, will be getting $43 less a month to spend on social assistance, so my question to this minister is how can you expect people to succeed in moving from welfare to work when this government isn't even allowing them to survive?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, that clearly, as the member indicated is, we look at core rates and we look at the other items that have been put forward. Clearly, that is why we had to address a whole number of issues. Core rates are one part of the puzzle. People need other supports, people need other programs, and clearly that is why we had to send a number of things together, apart from just core rates.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - MIN.: NURSES - PROMISES BROKEN

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. During the last election the Progressive Conservatives promised the province more money to hire more new full-time nurses throughout the province. Last week the Health Minister told the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union that employing nurses was not the responsibility of his Tory Government. My question to the minister is, why has the minister abdicated his responsibility for nurses and broken his promise to the nursing profession?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I believe what the honourable member has purported I said was taken out of context, and I would like the House to know that. I do want to tell the members of this House that this government has done more to recruit nurses (Interruptions) than certainly he did when he was responsible for the Department of Health. I want to tell you as well that, as you know, the negotiations with health care workers are beginning to get underway. We have met with the major employers, and we have encouraged them to try and work out some of these working condition issues that make it difficult for nurses in Nova Scotia. We have made that a priority this time.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to remind the Minister of Health that this is now the fall of the year 2000, not last spring, when he stood in the House and told us that we had the wrong information that was later proved to be true. The Minister of Health has not only broken his promise to the nurses, he is deliberately crippling the ability of some hospitals to hire nurses. The minister's own hospital in Truro, the Colchester Regional

[Page 7427]

Hospital, the whole pediatric and obstetric departments are being threatened by their inability to maintain a safe nursing component. How does the minister expect the regional hospitals, such as the Colchester Regional Hospital, to maintain a safe nursing component when he refuses to address nursing issues at his own hospital in his own community?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I want to tell everybody in this House that the Colchester Regional Hospital has a staff of dedicated and wonderful nurses. I also want to tell them that the care that is administered in that hospital is very good at all times. I also want to assure them that there is a committee in that hospital that is available to determine if there are safety and health issues.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union says the minister told them he was looking for non-monetary solutions for the nursing crisis. My question to the minister is, how does the minister expect to hire new nurses in Nova Scotia if he is not responsible for them and he is not prepared to spend any money for nursing positions?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there is probably no government in recent history that has more respect for the nurses than this one. The initiatives we have undertaken in cooperation with the nurses, which are well known, are moving things along the right path to making nursing again a very attractive profession for young Nova Scotians.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Justice. Back in the spring, there was a decision from the Nova Scotia Supreme Court saying that the Workers' Compensation Act was discriminating against widows whose husbands had died on the job. At that time, they were looking for $10.7 million in back pensions. Back in June, the Minister of Justice said he had made a decision as to whether he would be appealing that decision. Now we know the government has decided to appeal the decision, and is actually taking it to the Supreme Court. So my question to the Minister of Justice is, can he please try and explain to this House why this government continues discriminatory action against the widows?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. My understanding is that that issue is presently before the courts of this province, so the question is not proper today, so you might want to reword that. The issue is before the Appeals Court of Nova Scotia today. (Interruption) If you want to reword the question, I am saying that that issue is presently before the court in the province today, so it is not a proper question.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I will take another run at this through the Minister of Labour. Back in the spring session, the Minister of Labour quite clearly said at that point that he wasn't willing to say what they would do with regard to discriminatory action, he was going to wait to see what the Workers' Compensation Board had to say with regard to

[Page 7428]

recommendations on the Nova Scotia Supreme Court case. So my question is, to the Minister of Labour, what did the WCB recommend to the minister and did he agree with them?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Again, that issue is before the court. I am not too sure that that question is in order. (Interruption) I know, but the issue itself is before the Appeals Court of Nova Scotia and I don't believe it is a proper question. It is out of order.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - CUTS: CONSEQUENCES - INFORMATION DELAY

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is again to the Minister of Health. During the spring House session the minister ducked and he avoided giving any information about health care cuts because he was waiting for the so-called clinical footprint. That was the answer we got day after day. To date, we have not even seen a little toe print let alone a whole footprint. In May the Transportation Minister wrote a letter to the Hants Journal saying, the clinical footprint being designed by government is not expected to be ready until mid-summer. Well, it is now mid-fall, and my question to the minister is, health care providers want to know, why is the minister scared to release this information that he has been hiding behind for so long?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this government intends to do something that was not in practice in this House for the five years preceding us moving into office, and that was to try to do things right.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to check Hansard before I comment on that. I am not quite sure that the minister spoke clearly.

On Page 5 of the document, Future Direction of the Health Care System, the Tory plan to turn four health boards into nine, says the clinical services plan will be developed in collaboration with health organization providers. Information obtained under the freedom of information, that I have here today, provides that no hospital administrator or health board CEO was contacted about how the clinical footprint would impact on their operation.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. SMITH: That has come from the freedom of information. My question to the minister. How does the minister keep trying to claim that he has consulted with health care providers and administrators about the clinical footprint, while he still says that it is unavailable to them?

[Page 7429]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the honourable member that there is all kinds of consultation: the Provincial Health Council's core services consultation across the province, the document that came from that; the report on health facilities, a 90 day review called Transitions in Care; the mental health review; and I can go on and on about the consultations that have taken place.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, business plans were sent back to facilities and organizations in this province because they didn't comply with the clinical footprint and yet they were not allowed to see that. According to the documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the clinical footprint was supposed to be done by June 1, 2000, followed by a four week consultation, and that footprint is now six months later.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. SMITH: We know from our information that there has not been consultation. When will Nova Scotians be consulted on this important document which will decide the fate of the hospitals, health care providers and patient care in Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will remind the honourable member that more consultation has taken place with the people of this province about health care than there was in the previous five years of the Liberal Administration combined. The plan of clinical services, there have been people who have been consulted about that in the field, Mr. Speaker. To say that they haven't is not accurate. Again, I would just like to remind him that we are a little bit behind our initial timetable for that, we are, but in the interest of making sure that what we do is best for all Nova Scotians, we felt that a slight delay was better than to follow the practice of our predecessors.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

HEALTH - COLCHESTER REG. HOSP.: PAEDIATRIC CARE - CUTS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I want to table here today letters from physicians in Truro. Among these letters is a letter from Dr. Barry Wheeler who wrote a letter to the Minister of Health that states that your plan to reduce paediatric nurses from 13 to 6 at Colchester Regional will provide an unsafe environment for patient care. What I want to ask is, why is the Minister of Health allowing cuts to paediatric care in his own riding that doctors say will lead to unsafe conditions?

[Page 7430]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am always amazed that this Party has the ability to get letters like that. By the way, I have responded to Dr. Wheeler. I want to just go back to something I had said earlier. There is, in the Northern Regional Health Board, something called the Medical Management Committee and issues of safety or a medical practice that might be in that particular facility, their hospital by-laws require any concerns to be presented to it.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, maybe he doesn't take this seriously but this is a very serious allegation from the minister's own constituent. I also want to table the Department of Paediatrics on-call schedule for November. What it shows is that after November 6th, when those nurses are laid off, there is no paediatrician on call.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame.

MR. DEXTER: In fact, Truro paediatrician Dr. Marilyn MacPherson is convinced your plan won't work and says that she will not provide emergency coverage in these circumstances. Mr. Speaker, my question is simple. Will the minister tell us whether his constituents are right? Is he jeopardizing young lives in Truro as these doctors say?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as I said, there is some concern. It has been expressed by physicians. Unfortunately, to this particular point, it has not been passed through the appropriate channels to be considered. The issue of safety is obviously one of debate. Clearly, the people who suggested the adjustment in staffing patterns didn't feel that there was a risk. I would say to the honourable member I believe that there is more to this issue than he is presenting on the floor and I am not at liberty to discuss it.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it is not a matter of debate. There is going to be no paediatrician on call. The Truro paediatrician is threatening to leave the community. What is the minister going to do today to ensure that Truro's paediatrician does not leave and that young lives in that community are not placed at risk?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, it may interest the honourable member to know that there is more than one paediatrician in that community and to my knowledge none has said they were going to leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

JUSTICE - REFORM SCHOOLS: ABUSE - CLAIMS FRAUD

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney General. The CBC is reported to have obtained a copy of the internal investigation unit report into claims of widespread institutional abuse at provincial reform schools. It was reported some $56 million was doled out to 1,200 people possibly by way of

[Page 7431]

fraud. My question to the minister is, will the minister inform the House what action his department is taking to deal with this unfortunate situation?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I share the concern of the honourable member with the compensation program created by the former Liberal Administration. Indeed, that is the reason that we obviously initiated the Kaufman Report. In point of fact, as the honourable member knows, matters of fraud have already been referred to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for investigation. Further matters of fraud will be referred to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for investigation if they are found.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the CBC report also referred to the ongoing criminal investigation into the Department of Justice employees and criminal charges that may be forthcoming. My first supplementary is, could the minister tell the people of Nova Scotia whether the scope of the criminal investigation will be broadened to include former senior employees of the Department of Justice, including Alison Scott, Clerk of the Executive Council, and Paula Simon?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, in simple terms, what happens in Nova Scotia is, if evidence is found of criminal wrongdoing by any government department, it is referred to the appropriate police agency for investigation. To my knowledge, there have been no allegations with respect to the actions of those individuals.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is to the Premier. The Justice report concludes that a large number of claims may have been paid due to fraud. Nova Scotians are left to wonder who exactly is responsible for this unfortunate situation. My final supplementary to the Premier is, will the Premier suspend the Clerk of the Executive Council until the air is cleared by full investigation into this situation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it would be extremely irresponsible if I were to do anything of the sort to a senior public servant, just because the member opposite asks an irresponsible question.

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

HEALTH - CARE: FUNDING REDUCTION - EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians were shocked to hear yesterday that this province spends the lowest amount of money per capita on health care of any province in this country. Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada that is decreasing its health care spending. This is particularly shocking when the Premier went to Ottawa two months ago and demanded more federal dollars based on recent findings which state that Nova Scotians have the highest need for health care services in this country. So my question

[Page 7432]

is to the Premier. Why are you the only Premier reducing health care funding in this country when you know full well that Nova Scotians have the greatest need?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the whole issue of delivering health care is one that we are wrestling with. We are making substantial changes so that we can, with less money than other provinces, deliver the kind of health care that Nova Scotians have every right to expect. The kinds of changes that the minister has been talking about are steps in that direction. We will deliver, as we have said we would, superior health care to Nova Scotians at a cost they can afford.

MR. DEXTER: You know, Mr. Speaker, the minister has been running around and talking about healthy lifestyles. I want to ask the minister why it is under his authority that preventive health care programs are being cut. The Diabetes Maintenance Clinic which emphasized prevention, was cut by 20 per cent, yet we have the highest incidence of diabetes in the country, and it is expected to double in 15 years. Community health grants in the Western Regional Health Board were cut. My question to the minister is this, if you are serious about preventive health care, why are you reducing funding to them?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, that is one of the few, you know, I could say, informed things that the member has said is that the necessity - and he is supporting what this government is doing - about more emphasis on the prevention of illness rather than concentrating on the cure. I applaud you for that, sir, and I hope you will continue to support us in our efforts as we move towards a new primary health care system where that is going to be a great focus.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister refuses to answer the question with respect to the Diabetes Maintenance Clinic. Diabetes is a vicious disease that, if untreated, has horrific results, including blindness, loss of limbs and kidney failure. My question to the minister is this, why are you ignoring the evidence being brought forth by health care professionals that says your cuts to prevention and acute care will have these horrific and costly effects?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the percentage of our health dollar that goes into acute care is among the very top in Canada. He is right about education and the importance of that and that is why we have reorganized the department to put a greater emphasis on health education and health promotion.

Mr. Speaker, he is speaking of diabetes and, unfortunately, that is a problem and I want to tell you that the unfortunate thing in these half truths and half information and lack of research shown by he and his colleagues is that you tend to think that there is only one centre and, indeed, there are over 30 centres in Nova Scotia that deliver diabetes education.

[Page 7433]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

COMMUN. SERV. - SOCIAL ASSIST. REFORM:

UNEMPLOYMENT AREAS (HIGH) - RULES COMPLIANCE

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Last May the minister made huge cuts to social assistance benefits, in some cases forcing people to live on $100 less each and every month and yesterday the minister took another big step toward Ontario when he proposed Mike Harris style workfare regulations on people in need of social assistance. The reasoning for this Tory workfare is to force people back to work. Now, that is a great idea in the minister's riding of Bedford, but it is going to cause some serious hardship in Glace Bay where there are no jobs for them. The minister also said that able people who do not get a job will be disqualified from social assistance. How does the minister expect people to comply to his new rules in a high unemployment area such as industrial Cape Breton?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member if he had read the bulletin and the notice we put out would know that we indicated there was no time defined on people receiving assistance. We did not introduce a time limit.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable minister for his advice, but I have already read it and I won't be taking his advice because this Tory Government simply does not understand. They do not understand that there are two economies in this province either. On Page 23 of the Tory blue book it says the government will "Ensure that front-line Community Service workers are fully briefed on all relevant changes to government policies and procedures . . ."

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. WILSON: As of yesterday there were social workers who had no idea what was going on. My question, Mr. Speaker, is when were social workers briefed on these changes and when will they be expected to pass this information along to some confused and very worried clients?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the reason that we introduced the legislation, the reason that we introduced the rates and told people about it now for August is so that Community Services and our clients will have the time to look at their options and be able to have time to adjust to that. Clearly our Community Services people will be informed. They will be trained. They will be looking at the new system and all in readiness for August 1st of next year.

[Page 7434]

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to the honourable minister that the clients will have lots of time because they will be in lineups at food banks in this province. People are now expected to learn job skills from and also to develop work plans with some already overworked caseworkers and I would ask the minister what training is he going to provide to overworked caseworkers since he has decided now to turn them into employment counsellors?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, part of the plan of redesign is to retrain our workers, to provide them with equipment. I think what we have to keep in mind is that our workers will now not be dealing with two systems. They will be dealing with one and that is going to make things simplified for them and that will help them in that way.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

JUSTICE - YOUTH CENTRES: CLAIMS FRAUD - INQUIRY

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, a question for the honourable Minister of Justice. Sir, yesterday, the release of the Internal Investigation Unit's full report raised new questions about what really happened at those provincial youth centres. This is but one more step in the history that has served no one well. The allegations that $56 million of taxpayers' money may very well have been fraudulently paid out seems to be the exact circumstances public inquiries exist for. Will the minister explain to the people of Nova Scotia why he is still refusing to establish a public inquiry?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the reason that we have decided to go with the review process is because we believe that a review process conducted by Mr. Kaufman will get to the truth, will get to the truth quickly, and will give us the answers that Nova Scotians want.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, one of the most startling findings in the IIU report is that the Stratton Report from 1995, which provided the factual foundation for the abuse compensation program, may have been quite wrong. But re-examining Stratton is not within the mandate of Judge Kaufman, just as Judge Kaufman himself pointed out to the minister only a month ago, his mandate is limited to reviewing the compensation program. How can the minister explain his refusal to establish a public inquiry now that the very foundation of the compensation program has been called into question by the IIU investigators?

MR. BAKER: I can explain it because, in fact, that is what this is all about. It is all about the compensation program, Mr. Speaker. It is all about making sure that we have the answers on how the program established by the former government paid out that kind of money, and why many people believe it failed. (Interruptions)

[Page 7435]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto has the floor.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, there are other questions and there are limits on the mandate given by the minister to Judge Kaufman. He has not been asked to look at the possibility or extent of fraudulent claims. He was not asked by the minister to consider the true extent of abuse. If the minister thinks that this mess isn't public inquiry material, when will he be specifically expanding Judge Kaufman's mandate?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, in short, there does not appear to be any need to change the mandate. We believe the mandate of the inquiry is necessary. As for the critical issue, which was one of timing, I want to refer the member to a letter from the Past Employees for Restorative Justice. It is the official position of that organization that there is no necessity for a public inquiry into institutional abuse in the Province of Nova Scotia. I would table that letter.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWY. NO. 101: TWINNING - UPDATE

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. With reference to the upgrading of Highway No. 101, which runs through his constituency and beyond, there has been considerable controversy on this subject of late. Yesterday at the Public Accounts Committee meeting, the Deputy Minister of Transportation revealed a plan to twin Highway No. 101, 49 kilometres past the present terminus at Mount Uniacke. Yet in a letter to The Daily News in March, the minister said that it was planned to run that 75 kilometres, and in an ad run in the Hants Journal on July 14, 1999, he stated that a John Hamm-led PC Government will move immediately to begin twinning Highway No. 101 from Mount Uniacke all the way to Windsor. I would like to ask the minister, could he update the House on this matter and indicate whether the twinning of Highway No. 101 did, in fact, commence immediately upon the election of a John Hamm-led Tory Government last summer?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, yes indeed, the twinning process started immediately (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Minister of Transportation and Public Works has the floor.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would ask members of the Liberal caucus to note that it was their comrades in Ottawa that necessitated a complete new environmental review of the route from Mount Uniacke to (Interruptions)

[Page 7436]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova on your first supplementary.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, as I said, this topic seems to engender some controversy, but I suggest the minister brought it on himself. I have here a proclamation entitled Ron Russell on Roads which states, among other things, that Ron Russell and a John Hamm-led PC Government will move immediately to begin twinning Highway No. 101 from Mount Uniacke to Windsor. I am further advised that he told many meetings that he, himself, would drive the bulldozer to get that work under way. I took a drive down there, too . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova put the question, please.

MR. MACEWAN: I would like to table these proclamations, if I could: Ron Russell on roads - a couple there for the government, maybe some for the NDP as well.

I would like to ask the minister if he could explain the apparent contradiction between his proclamation on roads, on the one hand, and today's news item stating that he wants the federal government to bail him out to the tune of $135 million, so he . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I presume there was a question in that dialogue from the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova. I would suggest, in all seriousness, if the honourable member drove, as he said, down the Highway No. 101 and he did not notice any work on the twinning, he must have been driving with his eyes shut, then that is one of the reasons, I suppose, that we are having so many accidents these days.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, a final question, I suppose to the Premier on this matter because the content of Ron Russell on roads is pretty definite and the work has not started; there is no visible evidence at all of it under way. I would like to ask the Premier, since it was stated in the Hants Journal on July 14th that a John Hamm-led PC Government would move immediately to begin the twinning of Highway No. 101 between Mount Uniacke and Windsor, could the Premier perhaps indicate when that work is planned to get under way?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite comes from the other end of the province and really doesn't drive between here and Windsor, but if he would take the trip he would see that the twinning process has begun. There is actual visible work being done on the twinning process. You have to start somewhere and we have started.

[Page 7437]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - SCHOOLS: ROOF SUPPORTS - REPAIR COST

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. In 1997 the roofs of two large buildings in Newfoundland collapsed. The problem was found to be defective roof supports, known as open web steel joists. Now this week stories published in local newspapers indicated that at least 19 schools in the Halifax region alone may have these defective joists. To name only a few; Charles P. Allen High School, Sackville High School and St. Patrick's High School. My question to the Minister of Education is, how many schools in the province have these defective roof supports and how much is it going to cost to fix them?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the defective roof supports are going to cost, in our estimation, roughly $4.7 million to fix. The problem can range from a $400 problem in one building to a $0.5 million problem in another building. We are proceeding to evaluate all these buildings in the light of other renovations and construction that we may be planning.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, understandably, many people want to know what the minister's plan is to fix this problem, in more specific detail. What plan do you have to inform parents, students and teachers about this serious safety issue?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, first I must emphasize to Nova Scotians and to this House that this problem has been identified for a number of years and it is not a serious safety issue. All the schools that have these trusses are being monitored for water and snow and they are cleared religiously of any problem that is going to cause a collapse of the roof. So it is not a serious safety issue, in terms of immediate safety. Nonetheless, the problem must be and is going to be corrected.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we know we have serious maintenance problems in terms of the amount of money this government has provided to school boards to do any kind of routine maintenance whatsoever, so I think we do have to treat this situation with some urgency. My final question to the minister is, what commitment will you make right here and right now that repairs will be properly funded and that the safety of our children will not be compromised in any way by this minister's cut and slash approach to education?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is well aware that we actually added money to the Education budget last year. I will repeat, about $4.7 million will be required to address the truss situation in conjunction with other renovations and perhaps new schools that may be going on. For example, in the case of Windsor Regional High School, the problem may be addressed through renovations or new construction.

[Page 7438]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - QUARTERLY REPORT: REVENUE - BREAKDOWN

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance and the Conservative Government have talked about being more open and more accountable. It is truly amazing that the Minister of Finance has somehow tried to make us believe that the finances of the province are more open and more accountable than any previous government. The document that was presented to us in a quarterly report has no breakdown on revenue sources in regard to line items such as motor fuel taxes, equalization, HST or personal income tax. It is like the minister wants to have one column on revenue for the Province of Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is simple, what is he trying to hide?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I am not trying to hide anything, and for the member to stand up and say the changes we have made in the financial statements of this province is not a move ahead I think is a great distortion of the facts and of the truth, because these books, as they are presented, are the most open, I would tend to say, across this country and we are a leader in financial disclosure.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I want to table the quarterly report for August 24, 2000 which does not have a line in regard to the revenue. It was a Liberal Government that introduced a quarterly report. On Page 18 of the blue book, it states, "Ensure that financial quarterly reports allow for full and detailed comparative analysis from one quarter to the next, by ensuring revenue and expenditure projections are up-to-date." The government is certainly showing its expenditure side, but it is not showing, in detail, the revenue side. Will the minister put accountability back into the quarterly reporting system so Nova Scotians can have a clear understanding on how much money the government is raking in?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, if you want to talk about credibility, this is the previous administration, across the floor, that said they had a surplus of $1.5 million when they had a deficit of over $400 million. (Interruptions) I will put the financial accounting of this government against that bunch across the floor any day, any time.

MR. DOWNE: When we took over in 1993, I asked the minister, when he became minister, when they changed the accounting procedure to the consolidation of debt, that he would report to Nova Scotians, from 1993 when we took over the true debt of the province. I would say . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DOWNE: . . . it is in excess of $1 billion on the operating deficit of the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 7439]

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DOWNE: He is the one who is ashamed to bring that forward to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Does the honourable member have a question, please?

MR. DOWNE: . . . know in detail the expenditure side of the government. My final supplementary to the minister is, will the minister come clean to Nova Scotians and show, in detail, the revenue side? Unless he wants to hide the fact that the federal government has been giving additional revenue to the province and where those revenue dollars are coming in.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the problem with the bunch across the floor is that they haven't read the notes to the financial statements and they also haven't asked the question, because the press asked the question and we gave them the information. So, obviously, I would encourage them to perhaps to hire another research assistant, someone with an accounting background who could give him that information because we were prepared to give the information. If they don't have it, I am sorry, Mr. Speaker.

[4:15 p.m.]

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

LBR. - PIONEER COAL: LBR. DISPUTE - ACTION

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, through you my question is to the Minister of Labour. The Pioneer Coal labour dispute has dragged on since June 29th and grows more tense every day. Owner/operator John Chisholm has been charged with mischief and the dangerous operation of a motor vehicle in conjunction with this labour dispute. There are also allegations that the owner is behind the bungled attempt to have the union decertified. Conciliation has failed. My question to you, Mr. Minister, is why are you prepared to sit on your hands and not take action during this labour dispute?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the role of the Minister of Labour and the Department of Labour in a dispute is to ensure that the processes that are in place through legislation and regulation are applied and applied properly. That, sir, is what the department is doing.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, the parties grow farther apart every day. Conciliation has failed. Unfair labour practices have been alleged and the courts will be tied up with these matters for months. Why won't this minister exercise his powers under the Trade Union Act

[Page 7440]

and appoint an industrial inquiry commission to secure industrial peace and promote conditions favourable to the settlement of this labour dispute?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, the department has been monitoring this situation very closely from day one. It is a matter that is of concern. With respect to the suggestion that was made by the honourable member and others, we believe that the normal process should take place. It is currently, as a result of action taken, before the Labour Relations Board and until such time as that board deals with it, it is inappropriate for us to get involved.

MR. CORBETT: On the contrary, Mr. Speaker, it is very appropriate for this minister and his department to get involved. There have been people run over, there have been bungled decertification attempts, at what point is this minister going to get off his seat and do something? Why don't you do things like the inquiry done in the Air Canada dispute, the parties got together and there was a resolve. Why don't you . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There were about three questions there, if you would like to attempt to answer one. If not, we will go to the next question.

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member should attempt to keep things in perspective. When the strike began there were no operations involved at the location because it was shut down due to an environmental arrangement. Therefore the matter was proceeding at that stage. We are monitoring the situation very carefully and we will watch the proceedings with respect to the Labour Relations Board and that's the responsibility of the department.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West. You have about 45 seconds.

FIN. - GOV'T. (CDN.): TAX CUTS - FLOW THROUGH

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance. In the Tory blue book, on Page 10, it indicates that tax cuts not only create jobs but they also increase government revenue. My question to the minister, in light of the mini-budget that just recently came out by the Liberals talking about massive tax cuts to all Canadians, will the Minister of Finance do the honourable thing and flow-through those tax savings to the pockets of Nova Scotian men and women who are working who deserve those revenue streams?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, those tax cuts coming from Ottawa from the federal government will go into the pockets of those people.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time for Question Period has expired.

[Page 7441]

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 60.

Bill No. 60 - Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will make a few brief remarks on Bill No. 60, a bill that we tabled in the spring session and is only now coming up for debate. You will recall that on an earlier day I did table the Ministerial Code of Conduct to which this bill makes reference. Nova Scotians expect their government to conduct the people's business in the open. They rightfully expect their elected officials to be accountable to their constituents, ensuring that decisions are always made in the best public interest. As a government, we must do everything possible to restore public respect for our political system and the integrity of elected representatives. Our government believes that Nova Scotians deserve a government based on greater openness and accountability.

As a government, we have acted decisively to honour our blue book commitment to openness and accountability. We have honoured our blue book commitment to strengthen the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, naming the independent arm's length review officer, the well-respected Darce Fardy on a full-time, permanent basis. We have honoured another blue book commitment to deliver a truthful set of books. For the first time in Nova Scotia history, the provincial finances are being managed according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. One set of books, clearly listing all revenues and expenditures in a manner that Nova Scotians can understand.

Today we are debating Bill No. 60, which sets out in law another blue book commitment, the establishment of a Ministerial Code of Conduct. Members are aware that the Code of Conduct has been in effect for members of the Executive Council since my announcement of November 17, 1999. The Ministerial Code of Conduct adds to the already existing legal standards governing conduct, such as Section 121 of the Criminal Code, and the Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act, which it aims to strengthen.

[Page 7442]

The Ministerial Code of Conduct, as set out last fall and now in the form of Bill No. 60, provides further guidance in the conduct of ministers beyond the existing law. For example, the code prohibits ministers from engaging in conduct that would give rise to a perception of conflict of interest between the minister's public duties and his or her private interest. It prohibits accepting gifts of a value greater than $250. It requires a minister to disqualify himself or herself from any decision where the minister knows or ought to know that there is an opportunity to improperly further his or another person's private interests. It requires ministers to respect the political neutrality of the Public Service. It does permit members to carry on business and/or a profession and/or holding or trading in stocks, futures or commodities where the Conflict of Interest Commissioner is satisfied no conflict of interest exists.

It is not an overstatement to cite this code in Bill No. 60 as an important step forward towards ensuring integrity and openness in government. With the introduction of the Ministerial Code of Conduct last fall, we became, at that time, just the third province in the country to adopt a code of conduct for our Ministers of the Crown and to make it public. This is a little commercial. It is perhaps coincidental that in the two other provinces with codes of conduct form ministers, at the time, Ontario and Newfoundland, Conservative Governments were responsible for their introduction. (Applause)

Meanwhile, at the federal level, the government introduced conflict of interest guidelines which are enforced by an ethics counsellor. However, unlike most, if not all provinces with conflict of interest legislation, the federal ethics counsellor reports only to the Prime Minister and is not an independent officer of Parliament.

Here in Nova Scotia we are fortunate to have the experienced legal mind of Justice Merlin Nunn to perform the duties of Conflict of Interest Commissioner. In our case, under existing Statute, Justice Nunn reports to this House. Nova Scotia's Ministerial Code of Conduct reaffirms the independence of the commissioner. He will continue to file his reports with the House of Assembly. The commissioner will also have new powers protected under legislation to recommend any course of action he considers reasonable, including suspension of a minister or removal from a Cabinet. The Ministerial Code of Conduct, as introduced and as tabled under Bill No. 60, puts our province at the forefront of ministerial accountability and government accountability, and for that, Mr. Speaker, I am proud. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to rise and speak on Bill No. 60, An Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1991, the Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act.

[Page 7443]

Mr. Speaker, at the outset I think we have to ask ourselves why this bill is necessary. This is not the first time we have discussed this bill in this House; I believe in the last session the bill was introduced by the New Democratic Party and supported by the Liberal Party, and talked out by the Progressive Conservative Party at the time because I believe the governing Party, the Progressive Conservative Party, felt at the time that perhaps they were working on something and certainly did not want to allow the New Democratic Party or, indeed, the Liberal Party to take any credit for anything that might come before this House.

I think what we have to do is remember that it was the Opposition Parties that spoke in favour of this as far back as last spring and, indeed, had some recommendations to make at that time which were talked out and not supported by the government, but I think we should also ask ourselves again why Bill No. 60 is needed, and we should take no pleasure in speaking on Bill No. 60 today because it speaks to the distrust that many people have for politicians in this province.

There have been many honest, trustworthy people over the years who have gone through this House, but unfortunately there have been a few exceptions over the years and it is unfortunate that such a code is necessary, but I think it is a cynical move. A lot of people in this province, Mr. Speaker, view politicians somewhere below lawyers, slightly below lawyers, in terms of their public perception and (Interruption) I did not say I did, I said the public did?

I think it goes to the fact that the bill is here, Mr. Speaker, because the cynicism that people have in Nova Scotia toward politicians, all politicians in this province unfortunately, because there are a number of people in this House, people on all sides of this House, who are very honest, hard-working, dedicated people who are here to do nothing more than to serve the people who sent them here, but the long path that has brought Bill No. 60 here is a sad and embarrassing story and it has a legacy. It has a long legacy and I am going to remind the House of some of the reasons why this bill is here today. I commend the Premier and the government for introducing the bill today. How could one not do that, but I think you have to look behind that and look to the situation and the circumstances that made this bill appear in the House when it has, in this place.

The Code of Conduct, Mr. Speaker, was introduced only after this Tory Government, including the Premier, his Cabinet, and his backbench, found themselves suffering one scandal and controversy after another last fall. Robert Stanfield would never have tolerated such behaviour from his caucus. Bill No. 60, the enabling legislation for the code of conduct, was only introduced after the Premier was repeatedly asked about it by Opposition MLAs in the last session. To fully understand Bill No. 60 we have to understand why it was introduced and the history behind Bill No. 60.

[Page 7444]

[4:30 p.m.]

The government was barely a month old when the Premier was forced to remove the Minister of Housing because he was being accused of being a slum landlord. The minister later was responsible for an embarrassing violation of the Freedom of Information Act as a result of a leak of confidential information from a freedom of information request. The minister proceeded to confront and intimidate newsman, Sheldon MacLeod of CKBW Radio. A month or so later, the MLA for Yarmouth had to defend himself because his company was receiving government contracts. The Premier refused to act on this issue until the Opposition Liberals brought it to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner.

Shortly after that, the MLA for Eastern Shore admitted that he had construction garbage on his property which is a serious violation of the Environment Act. The Eastern Shore MLA said it was his land, he could do what he wanted with it. Again, the Minister of the Environment and the Premier dragged their feet on that issue. The Minister of Finance even had to come to the rescue of the MLA for Eastern Shore during a media scrum outside of this place.

The same MLA for Eastern Shore came under fire earlier this year when a freedom of information request uncovered that he distributed money to community organizations throughout his constituency. This money came from a discretionary fund, Mr. Speaker, available to council members of the Halifax Regional Municipality. Justice Merlin Nunn said the Eastern Shore MLA was probably breaking the Elections Act, but nothing came of that. However, the Conflict of Interest Commissioner said he had no power to make any kind of judgement or ruling - another reason why this is probably here. The Premier refused to discipline the Eastern Shore MLA because he said the Statute of Limitations had expired. Isn't that leadership. In fact, the Premier was not prepared to even address the issue until the Opposition forced him to do so. The Premier is going to sit back and depend on his superior political advice.

A freedom of information request by the Liberal MLA for Cape Breton West revealed that the Premier did not go very far to get advice on how to handle the allegations about the MLA for Eastern Shore. At that time, the Premier said legal opinion indicates that the member for Eastern Shore has not broken the Elections Act. It turns out the legal opinion the Premier got was from his secretary to the Executive Council, Alison Scott. We heard her name mentioned here earlier today. The Premier should have consulted with a lawyer from outside of government instead of one of his own political appointees if for no other reason but for the sake of appearances.

The Premier has even put himself in a position where the public trust might be compromised. The Premier's close relationship is well-known with the Sobey family and has raised many questions when his government decided to break a blue book promise and hand over $3.5 million to this large grocery chain. The public perception in this case was not good

[Page 7445]

and is still not good. The Code of Conduct states very clearly that ministers must avoid situations where a conflict of interest or a reasonable perception of such could arise. There is certainly a reasonable perception of a conflict when the Premier has shares in Sobeys and even co-owns a fishing cabin with members of the Sobey family.

Another reasonable perception - and I am talking about perception here - of a conflict arose when the government gave $1 million to the harness racing industry. I have nothing again the harness racing industry receiving some help in this province, nothing whatsoever, but you have to understand how they got the help. The gentleman who was involved with it was none other than the recent appointment that the Premier has sanctioned, if not given his outright approval to, to the liaison officer recently hired between the Cabinet and the caucus. As I said, I have no problem, Mr. Speaker, with helping out the harness racing industry, I just wonder what the motives were.

This type of situation could easily be considered by the public as a conflict of interest. Maybe this is why we need Bill No. 60. Guideline 2 of the Codes of Conduct states that, "Ministers must make every effort to ensure that their departments are not used for partisan political purposes." In May 2000, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Economic Development was scrambling to explain why Progressive Conservative Party workers in Cape Breton had information on Provincial Employment Program grants before they were made public. The minister blamed his executive assistant for leaking the information.

Nobody ever accused the minister of political interference in the allocation of PEP grants, but it does look suspicious when Tory Party workers were allowed to make the announcement of the grants instead of Economic Development staff. It looks like the minister is allowing his departments to be used for partisan political purposes.

Mr. Speaker, another minister who has used her department for partisan political purposes is the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission. That minister used her office to promote the MLA for Sackville-Beaver Bank when she made him her official stand-in. The backbench MLA is not a member of government, and I can recall a previous discussion on this issue, when I stated that indeed MLAs on the government side are not members of the government. They are here for one purpose, to represent the people in their constituencies who sent them here; it is the frontbenchers who are members of the government over there. But lo and behold this member was asked to stand in at an official function, and the only reason why was to up his profile in his constituency by allowing him to stand in for a government announcement, not an announcement pertaining to his particular MLA duties.

The Minister responsible for Communications Nova Scotia also responded to several questions in this House about forcing government communications officers to produce Tory Party propaganda. This not only violates the code of conduct, it is also a violation of the official government policy book of Communications Nova Scotia. It also breaks one of the

[Page 7446]

243 promises in the Tory blue book. It is up to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to figure out whether or not these types of things are covered under Bill No. 60.

Under the section, Misleading the House, the very first guideline of the Codes of Conduct states that, "Ministers must not deceive or knowingly mislead the House . . .", however, the Premier himself confused this House on May 17th, last, when the MLA for Cape Breton West asked him about the code of conduct. The MLA for Cape Breton West asked the Premier when he was going to follow through on his commitment to introduce legislation to back up his code of conduct. In less than an hour, the Premier flipped, then flopped, then flipped back again, changing directions three times on the issue. With 243 promises to keep track of, it is no surprise Premier Hamm can't remember them all. Clearly the Premier is not committed to this code. If he were, he would have a better grasp of the commitment he made to the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier is going to get whiplash if he doesn't stop changing directions so dramatically. Speaking of changing directions, the current Tory Premier made a dramatic direction change by doing what his predecessor, Donnie Cameron, refused to do. As you know, the current Premier was recruited by former Premier Donald Cameron, who was his political mentor. However, Donnie Cameron refused to sign the nomination papers for the MLA for Preston. You may remember that the MLA for Preston got into trouble in 1992, when he was executive assistant for Tory Tom McInnis, who has surfaced again, the current federal Tory candidate for Dartmouth. The current MLA for Preston used his position in 1992 to obtain confidential tax information about some businesses. This confidential information was then used by the Tories to solicit donations. Any wonder we need a code of conduct.

Speaking of taxes, how does this code apply to a member of the government caucus who may have some outstanding rent or property tax issues? Why does Nova Scotia even need a code of conduct? I believe the previous Liberal Administration, under Dr. Savage, had planned such a document. As it turned out, the Liberal Party didn't need one, because in all the years that the Liberal Party was in office in this province not one minister of the government was asked to resign or step aside as a result of any investigation in this government, in seven years. (Applause) Not one. Not one in the seven years we were in office.

There were a lot of allegations coming from the other side, all of them without substantiation. Not once was a minister shuffled out of a portfolio because of a scandal. That has happened at least once since the current government has been in power, in only the first year. If this Premier and his Cabinet needed to follow a code of good behaviour and responsible government, they only need follow the example of the previous Liberal Government.

[Page 7447]

The Tories could not follow the example of any former Tory Government, that is for sure. I want to remind Nova Scotians about some of the former Tory Government years because there are a couple of ministers still sitting here from those years. I think Nova Scotians have to be refreshed about why we are now getting a code of conduct in this House. Former Premier John Buchanan certainly needed a code of conduct for himself and those around him. He promised a code of conduct in the 1988 election - 12 years ago - but Nova Scotians never saw it. The current Minister of Finance and Minister of Transportation, who were members of the Buchanan Cabinet, know what I am talking about. The current Tory Premier probably promised a code of conduct because he knew what Tory members were capable of. This is why we need Bill No. 60.

Let's look at some history. Remember the John Buchanan Tories' toilet seat sale? The cost, Mr. Speaker, was $50,000 for 250 electric toilet seats. They were bought by the then Minister of Government Services, Terry Donahoe. Then, in 1992, when the scandal broke, they were sold for $300, a net loss of $49,700. Guess who they bought them from? They bought them from a friend of the former Premier, just an outright patronage buy; no problem with ethics there, they just bought the electric toilet seats from a friend of the former Tory Premier. The Buchanan airplane, $1.6 million.

In 1981 Attorney General Harry How landed in hot water for asking Crown Prosecutors to dig up information against Liberal MLAs. The issue was brought up at the time by Liberal MLA Walter Fitzgerald. Mr. Speaker, after becoming a Chief Judge, Harry How continued to get into trouble by calling the then Attorney General Terry Donahoe to warn him of a news story about the Thornhill affair.

In 1986 another Tory Cabinet Minister, Billy Joe MacLean, was kicked out of the Legislature and blocked from returning as a Tory, after pleading guilty to four counts of using forged documents in MLA expense claims. Billy Joe claimed almost $22,000, another reason why we need Bill No. 60.

I go on, Mr. Speaker. In 1987 Nova Scotia taxpayers paid the legal expenses for yet another Tory Cabinet Minister, Edmund Morris, who was charged with violating the Freedom of Information Act, by revealing private details from the Social Services file of a client in that particular department. It seems that over the years Tory Cabinet Ministers have had great difficulty with the Freedom of Information Act and probably will have great difficulty with Bill No. 60, but that remains to be seen.

Mr. Speaker, in 1987 former Education Minister Terry Donahoe, who was also the minister responsible for private trade schools, was accused of conflict of interest for guaranteeing a loan for his wife's business school, Miss Murphy's Business College. There was no conflict there, I don't imagine. That is another example of Tory patronage over the years.

[Page 7448]

In 1987 the CBC called Ron Giffin the most embarrassing Cabinet Minister in the provincial government. As Attorney General, Mr. Giffin said the province would try to ban homosexuals from joining municipal police forces. Is it any wonder that the code of conduct is coming here today? Mr. Giffin also dragged his feet on the Marshall Inquiry and then wanted to scrimp on paying the legal costs of Donald Marshall, Jr. Mr. Giffin was widely criticized for refusing to allow his department to investigate the growing expense claim scandal by Tory MLAs.

In 1988 Tory backbencher Greg MacIsaac also found himself in hot water - as a backbencher at the time, he was not part of government - and the government took no action. The matter became a public issue and then something was done about it.

[4:45 p.m.]

Also, on June 4, 1990, a major headline appeared in The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, Government accused of corruption, the Tory Government, 1990. That was the bombshell that was dropped on the Buchanan Government of the day. You will remember Michael Zareski, I am sure his name is still very much in the minds of Nova Scotians, that had to do with that affair. Remember the lucrative contracts that were given to Tories like Ralph Medjuck and Ben McRea, government employees painting government front benchers houses, ministers of the day lining their own pockets. That is why we need Bill No. 60, a code of conduct legislation. A previous senior government employee in one year drew over $400,000 in government expenses and salaries. You remember Cherry Ferguson, Chief Electoral Officer. She was Deputy Clerk of the House, Chief Electoral Officer and a Workers' Compensation lawyer all at the same time; a very busy lady. That was in the former Tory Government. That is another reason why we need conflict of interest legislation.

Donald Smith, former MLA and Nova Scotia Agent General, got a whopping $110,000 a year plus expenses and use of an apartment and car because he had friends in government at the time. You remember the issue with the American mining giant M.A. Hanna who sued the Premier of the day for $40 million for influencing Sydney Steel to stop buying iron or pellets from the company. Former Minister of Education, Mr. Giffin, criticized for cutting school repair and maintenance budgets while his government wrote off $8 million in debt for the Upper Clements Theme Park. Nova Scotian students are still suffering from that decision. That is why we need Bill No. 60, all of those reasons.

I conclude my remarks, Mr. Speaker, by saying that, yes, indeed, these are some of the reasons why we need it, and I commend the Premier for bringing this bill before the House finally. It took a long time and a lot of prodding but it is here. But the governments also promised to bring in a similar code for senior civil servants, deputy ministers and others in the government who are in a position to sway public policy. I believe, during the last debate, in the last session of the House, we talked about that, and we talked about how Ministers of the Crown who were doing their jobs in a very open, forthright and honest way can get into

[Page 7449]

difficulties because of senior Public Service people who are in a position to sway government policy, public policy, issues of public policy. That has been done. It has been done in our government where senior civil servants tried to sway government ministers on certain policy issues, and it will happen again. The ministers have to be very vigilant and understand that they and they alone are responsible for the actions of their department.

I am looking forward to seeing this code of conduct, especially since the Tories are filling the senior Civil Service with former Tories, some of them from New Brunswick. A lot of the things I am talking about here, or was talking about, are facts, they are not fiction. They are all things that have been proven either in the courts or they have been dealt with by the government, and they have been disposed of. I reminded members of the House and taxpayers of this province that the reason Bill No. 60 is before us today is that all of these events over the past 20 years in Nova Scotia have given the people of Nova Scotia due cause for concern about how this Legislature acts, and how this Legislature conducts its business, and how this Legislature and its government and its members are perceived by the public. That perception, I would say to you, Mr. Speaker, is at an all-time low in this province.

Is it any wonder that the people of Nova Scotia are cynical, when you have the Department of Education as a good example, with Dennis Cochrane, Leroy Legere and Guy LeBlanc all filling in for the overworked Minister of Education, and all just happen to be former Tory Cabinet Ministers, not only in Nova Scotia, but in New Brunswick. They must have hired them all in Nova Scotia, now they are going to New Brunswick to hire ex-Tory Cabinet ministers.

As far as Bill No. 60 goes, Mr. Speaker, I don't think it goes far enough, but I think it is a step in the right direction. Public confidence in this government has already started to crumble and, unfortunately, so has public confidence in all politicians in this province. Again, I suggest to the Premier that perhaps we should be looking at parallel legislation to curtail activities of senior civil servants in the policy-making decisions as it affects the departments of this government, as it affects the distribution of public money in this province, because as I said in here last fall, senior civil servants in this province can send a minister down the road to oblivion very easily with the wrong public policy decisions on matters and this has happened in Nova Scotia.

It has happened here and I am not suggesting for one minute that all of these things I outlined and chronicled over the past 20 years were done by a single person. I suggest that you have to look at the people behind that particular person at the time. I think it is good to see that the code applies to the Executive Council, but I think also there should be a code for all members of the House including the backbench members of the government.

Mr. Speaker, the previous government, the government that I was proud to be a part of for seven years, never once had to rise in this House and apologize for any actions of that government and I include the government of Dr. John Savage or the government of Russell

[Page 7450]

MacLellan. I am telling you that not once and you can laugh, Mr. Premier, but I am telling you the truth. You give me an example where one person on this side of the House in this government had to stand in this place and apologize for anything. You give me an example of that, Mr. Premier.

AN HON. MEMBER: A couple of leases up in your area.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Yes, yes. Martin Chernin can talk all about that, the major Tory bagman in Cape Breton, he can talk about leases. He is an expert on them. He has all the government offices there, the chief bagman for the government now in Nova Scotia. (Interruptions)

Let me say again, Mr. Speaker, that there is a difference about people making allegations and events that actually happened. I am going to talk about one that actually happened and it involves the Premier. The Premier had to apologize after Rob Batherson allowed the MLA for Chester-St. Margaret's to make a major violation of the Freedom of Information Act. The Premier had to get up and apologize for that. It should never have happened in the first place and there is an example of paid public servants running off their collective mouths on government policy on a regular basis and then the kind of situation that happened with the Premier has to kick in where the Premier has to come back and mend the fences.

The code also states that ministers may accept hospitality under $250 and this may be pocket change to the Minister of Finance, but it is a lot of money to a lot of Nova Scotians; $250 at one crack could mean a lot of expensive meals. What, Mr. Speaker, if a large company instructs 100 employees to each send a gift to a minister worth $249? Is this acceptable under the code? (Interruption) There are many unanswered questions about Bill No. 60 and this code of conduct and I look forward to having some of these questions answered.

Mr. Speaker, the late Donald Swanson was a political writer and lecturer who taught at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario and his favourite subject was political scandal and controversy. He often used the Progressive Conservative Party as an example. The late professor was quoted as saying he did not dislike Tories, they just simply happened to pop up more frequently when politics and graft intersected. (Applause)

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

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I listened in earnest to the honourable member opposite. (Interruption) Yes, I think that means I should really let go. Two years in the House, I guess probably I have not been around long enough to have the memory of the honourable member who just spoke. He certainly seemed to have a one-sided view of the reason for this legislation and he may be absolutely right that during those seven years that

[Page 7451]

it was not necessary for any Liberal to stand in the House, but they only managed to get rid of the Premier in that time. So I guess if you can get rid of the Premier, then all the other ministers can stay.

I think that it is necessary to have this code of conduct. I think the first thing, it might be the most obvious thing to say, is what a shame that the world is such a place that we need to do this. This is the thing that I think our constituents expect of us when we come to this Chamber and we write laws, some of those laws are expected to curb the behaviour of individuals or to provide a penalty for people who step across the line in regard to those laws. We have always tried to have laws that are to the benefit of Nova Scotians, and we have tried in that same way to offer a deterrent to people who might in some way affect the lives of others in a negative way.

I really wish that we could have a code of conduct that had a social component to it, that we would produce legislation from this Chamber that really affects lives in a positive way and would be held to account for doing something that really affects our constituents in the most negative way. There really is nothing in this code of conduct that does that. If we are to think of the whole ramification of what happened surrounding the death of miners at Westray, then had we really had a code of conduct that would ensure that that never will happen again, and we don't.

I know of previous legislation around the report on Westray and environmental concerns, and I know we asked for a class two undertaking on mines so we would have a safety component and an environmental review and a full public open process, and that wasn't acceptable to the government. It only shows that in the case of rules of conduct, in a sense we are missing the boat as to what our job actually is here, and what it is we are trying to do to present to Nova Scotians in the legislation that we bring through this House every day, that is actually supposed to be there to make their lives better. We have no metre stick to measure it by to ensure that we actually do something that will improve lives. People would say, well, that is your job; that is the job of the Opposition, to ferret out the flaws in legislation and try to talk the government into producing better legislation. Well, for sure, that is what we try to do.

The need for the code is like so many things, to err on the side of caution, to ensure that Nova Scotians, first of all, feel assured that there is some element of decorum in the actions of ministers. It seems a shame that we have to put in writing what we would think ministers would do as an ordinary code that they would live their lives by anyway, and we have to put that in writing for them to follow, obvious standards of conduct. We have disclosure legislation, conflict of interest legislation, and freedom of information legislation. Now we find it necessary to have a Ministerial Code of Conduct. Past governments should be a little embarrassed that their actions have made this necessary.

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Although having a Ministerial Code of Conduct is a good idea in principle, this particular Ministerial Code of Conduct falls short of what we have a right to expect. The first and most obvious shortcoming of this code is that it applies only to ministers. It does not apply to government backbenchers. As demonstrated by the recent affair involving the member for Eastern Shore, there is no mechanism for dealing with misconduct, either real or alleged, by government backbenchers. The Conflict of Interest Commissioner opened his opinion in that case by saying that neither the conflict of interest act nor the Ministerial Code of Conduct applied to that case. He was essentially doing the Premier a favour by answering his questions.

[5:00 p.m.]

Some flaws and weaknesses. The code of conduct itself is not embodied in legislation, nor even in regulations. Clause 7A(3) of the bill says that the code of conduct is the one tabled by the minister November 18, 1999, and that the Cabinet can amend the code whenever it wants. If the Premier were serious about his code, it should be here in the legislation; and if the Premier wants to amend the code, then he should have to come back to the House to do that.

The code of conduct, and in Clause 8, seems to imply that a complaint under the code of conduct can only be made by the House of Assembly or the Executive Council. To think that both these bodies which control the government of the day would be the ones that would make the complaint, and actually after the commissioner makes his decision, it has to come back to the House. When the Premier read his ministerial statement on November 18, 1999, he said that Cabinet ministers are charged with guarding the public trust. From time to time, unfortunately, the question has arisen, who guards the guards? In Nova Scotia, this code of conduct answers that question. Well, it doesn't. If his question is, who guards the guards, and the commissioner's report has to come back to the House and the House can decide by a majority vote whether or not to accept, amend, or change the recommendation of the commissioner, then it still is the guards controlling or guarding the guards.

Many of the obligations are far too subjective to be properly judged. A vague rule is no rule at all. For example, the first guideline says that ministers must be truthful and forthright. How many times in this House, or outside this House, do ministers fail to meet that standard? We will never know because it is far too subjective to be judged by the Conflict of Interest Commissioner or anyone else, and I think any of us who have had the experience of asking questions on the floor, and the responses that we get, only to find out that the actual facts within a day or two are not the same as what the answer was, then there is really no way to evaluate truth or any penalty for not giving it.

I offer the so-called blue book as a shining example of a document that many would call a thoroughgoing deception. The Conflict of Interest Commissioner may not have the tools he needs to properly investigate complaints. Most violations of the code will be in

[Page 7453]

circumstances where the offending minister, or the government, or civil servants hold all the relevant information. This is not like trying to find the witness of a car crash. We are not convinced that the commissioner has the powers or resources he needs to properly investigate the kinds of complaints he gets.

It is a good idea, but I think if the Premier is serious, then the decision-making power would rest with the commissioner and not come back to the House; that would be item number one that I would recommend. I think that in my short memory, as far as the comments by the previous speaker, then I only can say two things: does the name Friedman mean anything to him; and, in 1993, his government said they were going to bring in a code of conduct and didn't do it. They certainly had the opportunity. The honourable member for Richmond, as I remember, there was a bit of a question about Scotia Rainbow making up signs for one of his election campaigns, and I haven't seen him stand and say anything regarding that, so maybe we will get an opportunity.

Unfortunately, there is a need for a code of conduct. The question of whether the code should apply just to ministers, I think not. It should apply to all members of the House and the commissioner should have the authority to see that something is done when the line is crossed, and not come back to the House for a majority vote on the analysis of what the commissioner says. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to address Bill No. 60 in the context of continuing from where my honourable colleague, the member for Cape Breton South left off, but perhaps not from quite the same angle. I consider this bill essentially a piece of public relations by the government, to try to make a break with the past and say, well, that is not the way things are going to be any longer because now we have this nice new code of conduct which we can wave at you and that is that, end of discussion.

Well, not really, Mr. Speaker, the world is not quite that simple. If you examine the content of the proposed code of conduct, it appears a series of very vague and general and - as the honourable member who last spoke stated - subjective propositions that are so subject to interpretation and could be so construed by anyone. It is like beauty, beauty being in the eye of the beholder, so in the same sense the meaning of these propositions could be in the mind of the reader. I suggest to you that they are crafted in a way designed to create the illusion of meaning, of depth, of concisely making it very tough for anybody to do anything that they ought not to, when in actual fact, they are so framed that it would be possible, I suggest, for them to mean just about anything, depending on the context in which they were viewed.

The whole of history is littered with codes, from the Code of Hammurabi to, I suppose, the Napoleon Code, the Justinian Code of Law. There are many of them over the centuries.

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All of those codes of law had one thing in common, they gave rise to a new class, the class of lawyers who made a living arguing what these laws meant. Many of them were designed to be worded in a far more specific and direct sense than these particular propositions here. Moreover, they are introduced by an introduction that is almost a disclaimer because it states that nothing in this code of conduct is intended to limit a minister's ability to carry out the usual responsibilities of a member of the Legislature, on behalf of his or her constituents and constituency, in accordance with the Parliamentary conventions of Nova Scotia.

Now what does that mean? It means that nothing that follows means anything, or is designed to restrict in any way the ability of an elected member to represent the interests of his constituency, in accordance with the usual Parliamentary conventions of Nova Scotia.

Now what are those usual Parliamentary conventions? We have already had a substantial discourse on what some of these are, from the honourable member for Cape Breton South. Anyone who studies the history of politics in Nova Scotia over the past 25 years would, I think, agree that the usual Parliamentary conventions in Nova Scotia are perhaps not quite so kosher and yet this is supposedly the specific problem that this bill is designed to address, to make a clean break with the past and say no, no, we ain't going to sin no more, from now on we's going straight, but then they say nothing in the foregoing is in any way to restrict honourable members from acting in accordance with the past parliamentary conventions of Nova Scotia. So, in other words, you can do whatever you want, as long as it is in accordance with tried and true tradition in this province.

You can argue, well what I am doing is not so terrible because, what Mr. Thornhill did back in 1988, or perhaps somebody else in 1984, was the established practice. Mr. Zareski's charges certainly documented that. So there is nothing wrong with what I am doing. It is okay. It is in accordance with the established customary parliamentary conventions of Nova Scotia. Now, that is just for starters.

Mr. Speaker, having said that, they go on to make some very vague statements. Guideline 1, "Ministers must be truthful and forthright. Ministers must not deceive or knowingly mislead the House of Assembly, or the public, or permit or encourage agents of the Government to deceive or mislead the House or the public." Anybody who has read Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms or Erskine May's Laws of Parliament will know that very principle is enshrined in all textbooks on parliamentary law. It is nothing radical or innovative. It simply restates the obvious. But the acid test, of course, is that key word "knowingly", and only God knows the mind of the individual.

I cannot see into the skull of the honourable Premier across the way in such a way that I can tell whether he is knowingly deceiving the House when he states that the twinning of Highway No. 101 is already under way, when I drove down there two weeks ago, and there wasn't any evidence of it. Knowingly, the man might actually believe what he is saying. Perhaps he is hallucinating. Perhaps his medication is out of balance. I don't know, but

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according to this code, if you believe a thing to be true and you enunciate it, well that is all right, so long as you can satisfy, I suppose, the Conflict of Interest Commissioner that you had reasonable and probable grounds that in the balance of probability, you were persuaded that a proposition was more accurate than inaccurate.

Based on that kind of logic, of course, you could fudge things until the cows come home. You could introduce, as they did in British Columbia, a "fudget budget" and project a large surplus when there was actually a big deficit, but then you could defend it by saying, well it was only a projection. It is only numbers anyway, only numbers on paper, it doesn't really matter.

Certainly, that has been past practice here in Nova Scotia because, Lord knows, when Greg Kerr and Chuck MacNeil were Ministers of Finance, they came in with a budget projecting a $600 deficit and it later worked out to be $800 million or $900 million. They said that doesn't matter, it was just a projection. It is only numbers on paper. It doesn't matter. Keep cool. Take it easy. Slow down. As Premier Buchanan would say, don't worry, be happy. Now that was the established parliamentary convention here in Nova Scotia. So I suppose if those practices continue, well no sweat; don't worry, be happy. So much for guideline number one.

Now we move on to Guideline 2. "Ministers must make every effort to ensure that their departments are not used for partisan political purposes." Well, holy cow, Mr. Speaker. You can only judge this government by the way in which it functions. There are so many examples I could give you, it would take me long past adjournment time. I didn't get any pavement in my constituency this year in terms of new pavement. I didn't expect this government would give any to my constituency because I am a Liberal, but, "Ministers must make every effort to ensure that their departments are not used for partisan political purposes." I suppose in the Economic Development Department, the fact that those Tory presidents knew which organizations were going to get grants before anybody else did, that is just routine. Probably it is very much in accordance with the parliamentary conventions of Nova Scotia, so it didn't really matter.

If you judge this government by the way it has operated up until this point in time, and use that as your yardstick and what constitutes operating departments in such a way that they are not used for political partisan purposes, well then the vaunted code of conduct doesn't mean a heck of a lot. It certainly doesn't mean what most people would take those words to mean at face value, but that is only point number two.

[5:15 p.m.]

They go on to Guideline 3, "Ministers must avoid situations where a conflict of interest or a reasonable perception of such a conflict of interest could arise between the minister's public duties and private interests." Well, it reminds me perhaps of the Universal Declaration

[Page 7456]

of Human Rights or maybe the Charter of the League of Nations, one of those documents in history that had very high, lofty principles that sounded so good in theory and worked out to be so unenforceable in practice. "Ministers must never . . .", that is the only time in the whole code that the word never appears, all these others things you shall not do, thou shalt not, but here, thou shalt never, that is the superlative degree and that is what they use here in Guideline 3(a), ". . . use their authority, or position, or Government information, or Government property to advance their own interests, or that of a family member."

I don't know how many lawyers we have here in the Chamber, but I am sure that if we have five or if we have eight, we could probably line them up into two teams to see which would want, at the flip of a coin perhaps, to argue one side of that proposition and which other side would like to argue the other side with reference to any particular situation that might arise. It is a lot of impressive sounding words designed to sound impressive, and yes, I give it an A-plus for the ability to cleverly write, for authorship, for composition to whoever wrote this. They know how to use words very well. They are especially good at putting words together in an order that doesn't mean any particular thing at all.

On and on we go. "Ministers must not accept any personal benefits in any business dealing or acquire any position or undertake any function, or have any financial, commercial or other interest that is incompatible with their offices or duties."

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable not to read the whole bill.

MR. MACEWAN: This isn't the bill, sir. It isn't the bill at all. This is the code of conduct to which the bill refers. It is not in the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Good. I would ask you to stick to the principles of the bill, please.

MR. MACEWAN: Well, the bill is enabling legislation. It is enabling legislation to enable this particular code we presume to be implemented, to be made part of the rules. We have to know what these rules are, I suppose, in order to understand what the bill would enable us to do, because otherwise we will be marching forward blindly. We don't want to be blind. We want to be able to see what we are going forward into. I think we should take a look at this proposed code of conduct, only a proposed conduct. Possibly as a result of these very cogent observations I am making, the government may see fit to refine these words, might send them back to the drafting committee for a review, for an update, for a rewrite. Hopefully my effort here is not in vain.

It goes on to enunciate a number of principles. Perhaps I should contain myself to the principles that are involved here. The next restriction, apparent restriction I would say rather than a real restriction, "A minister must disqualify himself or herself from any decision making process where the minister knows or ought reasonably to know . . ." and again that is subjective element because you could argue both side of the proposition of would the

[Page 7457]

minister reasonably ought to know or the minister ought not to reasonably know, you see? That could be kicked around, back and forth, and batted back and forth until the cows come home.

In any event, when the minister ". . . ought reasonably to know that there is an opportunity to further the minister's private interest, or to improperly seek or further another person's private interest." Let me say this about that. One of the key aspects of legislative draftsmanship is the use of a definition section to define what the terms you are talking about are to be taken to mean. This code is drafted without any definitions at all, so the definitions you would have to employ would be those of ordinary meaning of the words. How you could define specifically and precisely what constitutes the minister's private interest or another person's private interest in a way that would be convincing, I think would be most difficult to achieve. Certainly every measure contemplated by government affects some person's private interest. We have legislation that was introduced today about social assistance. Well, that certainly very directly impacts on the private interest of many thousands of Nova Scotians.

We have other measures introduced to do various things, every bill that is brought into this House. If the legislation does anything at all, it is going to impact on somebody's private interest I should think, unless a bill is brought in that contains absolutely nothing like the Act to Administer Oaths of Office that is brought in on the opening day of a session of a new Legislature, unless it is that kind of legislation, it is going to impact on another person's private interest, I should think.

Now, the key word I realize here is improperly. There has to be malevolent intent. Well, that again is something that you could debate and I am sure my honourable friend, the Minister of Justice, would just love to roll up his sleeves and get into a good litigation case involving whether or not a thing would be improper because it is a very subjective judgement and it is something that perhaps one court might grant and then an appeal court might not grant.

"In any decision making process where the minister knows or ought reasonably to know, that there is an opportunity to further the minister's private interest, or to improperly seek to further another person's private interest, the minister shall (i) advise that the opportunity could result, (ii)withdraw from the decision making process, and (iii) refrain from participating in or influencing the decision making process."

I thought that was the practice anyway, Mr. Speaker. I thought that was the practice anyway in every level of government in Canada. We have rules here in this House of Assembly. We have a little rule book, a rule book that perhaps we don't refer to as often as we ought to, but I know that one of the principles laid down in those rules is that you are not supposed to do what is stated here and that if you have a conflict of interest in a matter, you ought to withdraw and not participate in the vote. Certainly that principle is enforced at the

[Page 7458]

municipal level of government as any member who has ever participated at the municipal level would know. So I don't see anything particularly radical or innovative here.

"A minister must not use or permit the use of information that is obtained in his or her capacity as a minister and that is not generally available to the public to further, or seek to further the minister's private interest or to improperly seek to further the private interest of another person." I think there are laws against that. I have not done a research job on this. I think that the Criminal Code covers that aspect. I think that it does and so, again, we see that there is not really anything new here. Much of the ground this code covers is already covered in other Statutes, in the House of Assembly Act, in the Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act, in the Criminal Code in those sections governing the conduct of public officials and elsewhere. So very possibly this code is simply duplication of measures and rules that already exist elsewhere.

Ministers may not solicit or accept, a gift or other benefit as a result of their duties if it could reasonably be perceived to have influenced the minister in the course of his or her duties. Again, that is subjective. It is a judgement call. One commissioner might feel that a matter was perhaps dubious and it is best avoided. Another commissioner might see nothing wrong with it based on these past conventions of parliamentary practice in Nova Scotia, the past parliamentary conventions. So, again, I feel that that particular section is relatively meaningless.

Then you have the matter of the gifts, the hospitality and the other benefits. They are not to exceed $250, but apparently that is per time, per occasion, so that you could accept a $249 gift daily and on a 30 day basis, and that would be all right, but if you accepted a $251 gift once a month and no more gifts for the remainder of the month, then you would have to pay the province back $1.00.

AN HON. MEMBER: But if it is second-hand, then it is of lower value.

MR. MACEWAN: If it is second-hand it is of lower value, it has depreciated from the moment you accept it because it then becomes used goods rather than new goods, so there is a problem there in the enforcement aspect.

It goes on and on, Mr. Speaker. This is perhaps what I like most of all, Guidelines 6 and 7. Guideline 6 is very rigid, it is a prohibition clause; it says you shall not be employed in any other occupation or profession. You are not allowed to drive a truck, you are not allowed to perhaps have a farm, you are not allowed to raise turkeys. (Interruption) No, no, you are not allowed to do any of those other things at all, you have to stick strictly to your job. Then, on top of that, you are not allowed to manage a business that is carried out by a corporation.

[Page 7459]

So if you have a family fishing operation and perhaps you are involved in the management in some way, you have to get out of that. You are not allowed to be a director - you can't be a director of any company at all, even of a non-profit society. You are not allowed to hold an office in a union or a professional association. You are now allowed to carry out a business, either in partnership or sole proprietorship. You are now allowed to hold or trade securities, stock, futures or commodities. So you have to get out of all business, have to sell all your shares. If you are a member of a credit union, you have to leave the credit union because you have to be a shareholder in the credit union to be a member of it. You have to get out of the farmers' co-op, oh yes. You have to completely denude yourself of all interests in any of these organizations or businesses.

However, Guideline 7 clarifies all that. When I read Guideline 6 I got pretty scared. I felt very sorry for some of my friends across the way because they were going to have to give up everything they had worked so hard to build up throughout their lives. But then Guideline 7 is the loophole, you see - the minister may engage in the clauses that are prohibited in Guideline 6. Oh yes, may - if the minister has declared, has disclosed all the material facts to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner. So if you know the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, you say you know I am a member of the credit union across the street so I am disclosing that and I did buy 10 shares in the Bank of Nova Scotia, so I am disclosing that, and I am the honourably past president of the fish and game association so I am disclosing that. So as long as you disclose it all, then it is okay, no conflict exists. So Guideline 6 is made rather redundant by the existence of Guideline 7, I suggest, Mr. Speaker.

Again, we have, I don't know how many lines because I didn't count them, probably about 14 lines of type, that don't mean anything. If you could just press the delete button, if you are typing this on a computer, all that would just vanish and suddenly it would be shorter rather than longer. You can go through the rest of this like that, eliminating various sections that are either redundant, meaningless, duplication of Statutes or other provisions that apply to Cabinet Ministers and to the running of government generally.

To sum up, and if there are further speakers they had better get ready to go because I am speaking here without any notes, Mr. Speaker, and I have just about exhausted this particular line of thought. I don't want to get into the Code of Hammurabi or someone like that because I think that would not be germaine to the bill. To exhaust perhaps this line of thought, I suggest that the proposed code is more flim-flammery than much of anything else. If this bill passes and if this code, as now worded, is put into effect, I don't think it is going to really change the direction of how public business is conducted in Nova Scotia in any significant way, shape or form at all. The Tories can give themselves a little pat on the back and when this session of the House is over, they can go out in the hall and speak to the press and enunciate all the wonderful things they did during this session of this House, that they passed legislation to amend the Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act, to provide for - not to legislate but to make it possible for - the Cabinet itself at some future time to

[Page 7460]

come in with a Ministerial Code of Conduct which might be in this particular format here or might be in some other, or might not be at all.

[5:30 p.m.]

Now, if that kind of achievement impresses anyone, I suggest it won't impress the unemployed people in Glace Bay a great deal; it won't impress the steelworkers in Sydney too much; and it probably won't impress the people in Cape Breton West or in Lunenburg or any other parts of Nova Scotia. But it might impress some Tories, and they might go home feeling, gee, we did some great things in that session of the House that just ended. So I see where they are coming from and why they are doing this, but I am not terribly impressed, Mr. Speaker.

Having said that, I think I will take my seat and let another speaker enter the fray.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I had not intended to get up and speak on this bill, Bill No. 60, but when I listened to the long tirade put on by the member for Cape Breton South, it was impossible for me not to get up and make comment because I think it is only fair to recognize that more than one political Party had more than its fair share of what Nova Scotians are fed up with. Nova Scotians are fed up with politicians who abuse their offices; that is the single most important thing.

I just want to go back and remind the honourable member for Cape Breton South, if he remembers Senator Barrow, he might remember the Hawco fund and I believe the Howmur fund as well. Not only did you do the tailgating process on this, not only was there a tailgating feature whereby 50 cents was put on every case of beer, not only that, it was clawed back and it was put into a trust fund, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, this money . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please, honourable members. Please respect the fact that the honourable member for Dartmouth North has the floor.

MR. PYE: Thank you. Not only was this money added as a tailgate, to encourage businesses in order to purchase liquor or to have liquor licenses, that in fact they had to put a 50 cent per case of beer, I should say, on their liquor that came through the door in order to go into the Hawco fund. Not only that, there is some $4 million of that money left that Nova Scotians should know is still in that fund to run campaigns. I am sure that anyone who

[Page 7461]

is running in Cape Breton in the federal election will probably get a good share of those dollars if there is any possible way of shoving them over.

Mr. Speaker, that is the reason why I chose to stand here this evening. I firmly believe there are many good politicians on all sides of this Legislative Chamber. I want to tell you there are politicians in all political Parties who come in here with a code of professional conduct that many Nova Scotians are very pleased with. But it only takes a few politicians to tarnish the names of all other politicians. I have been involved in local politics and now in provincial politics, and I have always tried and always associated with those individuals who upheld and honoured the profession of which they were a part. I know that one honourable member said that politicians are somewhere down at the bottom of the barrel, a little below the lawyers. He didn't say between the journalists though. You are between the journalists if you are at the bottom and the lawyers at the top. There is quite a sandwich there, Mr. Speaker.

I want to say that as a new member of this Legislative Assembly, I had the dubious honour of having to be removed from this Legislative Assembly because of some comments I had made - and other members - with respect to the conduct of some members of the backbench. That is the reason why I want to talk about it here.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 60 does not go far enough. The problem is that this bill only addresses a code of conduct of ministers and of senior staff members. It does not go to backbenchers, and I think not only should it go to backbenchers, but it should apply to all members of the Legislative Assembly. I think the day has come when Canadians and Nova Scotians expect a conduct of (Interruption) (Laughter) many of their members of this Legislature. (Interruptions) I am waiting for some order, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I think that it is significantly important to recognize the importance of this Legislative Assembly, the importance of each and every one of us here, and the importance of drafting this Bill No. 60. I think it is important to recognize, and I want to congratulate the government for bringing it forward. It does not address the entire issues with respect to who falls under this bill, but at least what it does do is it is a starting point in addressing at least the most senior members . . .

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

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, thank you. As I have said, I think this is a first step with this type of legislation. I think it only goes so far as to address the conduct of the ministers and the senior staff members, and I do hope that when this goes to the Law Amendments Committee that, in fact, maybe citizens of Nova Scotia will come forward and speak on this legislation and demand that there be an inclusion in this legislation that controls the conduct

[Page 7462]

of all members of this Legislative Assembly. I think that if, in fact, we are to get some semblance of professionalism back into politics, and we are to assure Canadians and Nova Scotians that politicians are here and they are elected to act in your best interests, then I think we have to make sure that that is covered within the legislation.

I want to make comment with respect to the $250. I know that the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova, I do recall, made comment with respect to that gift in kind and contribution. There seem to be so many ways in which one can continue to contribute, yet meet the requirements of the legislation, yet receive a gift in kind, and yet not have to report it. I think the day has come when Nova Scotians want to know if you received their little $20 plaque on the wall or if you received a painting of $100 in your office as a result of a gift or a donation. I think that Nova Scotians have a right to know if any minister in any particular department receives those. I think that not only do they have a right to know, but I think it should be duly recorded in the department, that these were gifts and contributions, when the financial statement is made. I think that may be to the extreme, but there should be a way of doing a report that demonstrates or shows the kinds of gifts and contributions that the ministers have received from their office.

I know that many people in Nova Scotia, many people in the communities of Nova Scotia believe that they ought to give a gift of appreciation for a minister when he or she does an official opening, particularly of a business, an official opening of a community centre, and I know those gifts are passed on to those ministers in kind. It shows their appreciation for what the minister has done. I think also that Nova Scotians across the province want to know that that is recorded.

Mr. Speaker, what I will say is that having the opportunity to stand here and speak briefly on this bill, because I chose not to, I will say that I am pleased that this is a first step, and I hope that the government of the day recognizes the importance of its legislation, and that it will, in future, include backbenchers in this legislation as well, because I felt somewhat - Mr. Speaker, it was not a nice day the day I was removed from this Legislative Assembly for making comments because of what I firmly believed and what soon became a fact, that it was true, that there were misuses of allocation funds from backbench members, while they were in a previous government. I think that is significantly important and it ought not to die and it ought not leave once they enter the Legislative Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, having said that, I truly appreciate the opportunity to have the time to speak on this bill. We will be looking forward to some recommended changes at the Law Amendments Committee and then having it coming back for final reading. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise tonight and make a few comments on Bill No. 60. I do not expect to be extremely long in my comments.

[Page 7463]

As has been mentioned by a number of speakers today and previously, to me, as one of the youngest members ever elected to the House of Assembly, it is a sad day to see Bill No. 60 have to come to the floor of this House. It is a sad day because I recall campaigning on two occasions and recall hearing about how politicians were crooks, politicians were there to fill their pockets, politicians couldn't be trusted. I can certainly tell you that after serving two years in this House, I don't think any of the 52 members are sitting in here to make money or to fill their pockets. That is not why anyone gets involved in elected office. You quickly learn that, at an early stage, being in political life.

There is no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that there are events and different things done not only by ministers, government backbenchers, by MLAs of all stripes, that we are not proud of, that are sometimes, unfortunately, illegal and that do not uphold the position of our office as much as we would like to do that. Regardless of whether you are an elected official or a member of the clergy, the fact is we are all human beings, we do make mistakes, and for that we are judged. The one big thing we have, as elected officials, that many people in society don't have is that we are judged. The ultimate judgement is election time, where our own constituents judge us on what they believe to be our character, what they believe to be our representation of them and, in the end, what type of job we did.

We heard today about some of the unfortunate and dark sides of our history here in Nova Scotia and we have had a number of them. It is unfortunate that it had to happen and certainly those members, everyone who was mentioned in some of the debate, I don't think I would consider any of them to be dishonourable people. I think they got into events which were unfortunate. I don't think they came to this House with the intention of doing that or getting into trouble or causing harm to anyone else. I don't think anyone does that.

We have been critical of this government; I have, I will admit, certainly been one of the harsher critics of this government for not believing in a number of things but I don't think anyone on that side is dishonourable or came to this House at any point in time thinking they were going to come and do harm or bring shame to their own constituents or do anything negative in this province, but difficult decisions have to be made.

I think of one of the examples given earlier, and I listened to the NDP caucus who said this bill is not enough and all of the MLAs should be under a strict code of conduct and put more laws and more Acts and do everything else and do everything burdensome you can, but at the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, regardless of what Act you put in, regardless of what law you put in, as elected officials, we all have to face the ultimate judgement at election time.

Billy Joe MacLean was mentioned, one of the former members here. He was a Minister of Sport and Recreation. Unfortunately, he did get into legal trouble as a member of this House. A bill was actually passed to expel Mr. MacLean from this House. We heard about that bill being used just a year ago. That bill came into question again for another member of this House. The Tory Party expelled Mr. MacLean from their Party for having been

[Page 7464]

charged with false expense reports. They refused to allow him to run as a Tory candidate in the by-election which came after that. Regardless of whether Bill No. 60 had been in there, Mr. Speaker, if it had been put in, maybe the Conflict of Interest Commissioner could have booted Mr. MacLean out of Cabinet, could have booted him out as a member.

[5:45 p.m.]

Guess what happened in the by-election? The voters of Inverness South returned Billy Joe MacLean to the House of Assembly after he had been charged, after he had been found guilty. They returned him right back here to this House as an independent candidate, sending a very clear message that they had passed judgement on Mr. MacLean, they had judged his character, they had judged his representation; they had judged him as a person and they sent him right back here.

That seems to go completely against what Bill No. 60 attempts to do. It seems to go exactly against everything we have heard from the NDP and what they would want to do to each member. They think that they need to put more legislation and more regulations to make members better and that if a member gets into any trouble, let's boot them out because they deserve to be booted out. In Mr. MacLean's case, the people sent him right back and I think every member should think about that when looking at Bill No. 60.

At the end of the day, regardless of what a Minister of the Crown is going to do, regardless of what a backbencher in government is going to do, regardless of what MLAs are going to do, this province has laws that affect all of us regardless of our position in life. As a member of the Nova Scotia Bar Society and as a lawyer, certainly we are all held to certain standards. You, Mr. Speaker, having been an enforcement officer, were held to certain standards and held to certain conduct, but at the same time you were there to respect the law, and I think we are all here to respect the law.

I think we have to ask ourselves how far we are going to go with Bill No. 60. Our role in the Opposition, as far as I am concerned, is to raise situations which are of question, to ask questions when there is doubt about certain conduct and to make Nova Scotians aware when we feel a wrong has been done, but at the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, it should not be the courts to judge conduct or to judge moral integrity of members of this House; it should not be left to a justice to judge that. No one else is judged that way because we have the ultimate judge, as I indicated. In my case I have a little over 11,000 of them who I report to every day and who I am responsible to and who will decide whether I have represented them properly or not and will have my record to judge on that.

I have to say again, Mr. Speaker, that this certainly concerns me. I know that the Premier has heralded this as a wonderful thing and a great thing but, again, to me, it is a sad day when we have to start putting on paper what we feel an MLA's conduct or a minister's conduct should be.

[Page 7465]

I look at one of the sections which I believe says a minister should not put himself in a situation where there could be a perceived conflict of interest. Well, I ask myself, does that mean that a minister should never meet with a businessman, whether they be a friend or not a friend, because it may so happen that that person later down the road, maybe within that year, maybe in five years, is going to receive some form of government assistance to assist their business? Are we saying in essence that Ministers of the Crown should become hermits, not speak to anyone, not go anywhere, not have lunch with anyone, to eat by themselves when they go to Swiss Chalet or McDonald's and not talk to anyone on the road?

What this is saying in essence, Mr. Speaker, it almost likens it to being a judge. You would know very well as an enforcement officer that when one is appointed to the bench, one has to be extremely careful to be very impartial, not to be seen having in-depth conversations about cases with lawyers, politicians and others and to remain above all of that. Unfortunately, in many ways judges in this province are almost asked to become hermits and not to mingle and not to go to social functions where there may be a perceived bias on their part by socializing with certain individuals.

I think in reality we have to ask ourselves where we are going with Bill No. 60. This is not just a bill to deal with the Hamm Government. This is a bill which will be on the books for many years after we have left this Chamber and others have replaced us. We have to ask ourselves, in debating this bill and where we go with this bill, if this is what we feel is necessary, if we feel this is the road to go on this type of legislation, and if we have come to the point of politics and governance here in Nova Scotia that we feel we have to put on a piece of paper and put in the hands of one individual - in this case the Conflict of Interest Commissioner - to judge us on our conduct, to judge us on what we do and to judge us on how we try to represent our constituents to our best ability. That, Mr. Speaker, I do not believe is the role of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner. I don't believe we should place that responsibility in his hands.

As I said, we have the ultimate responsibility in the end to answer to our own constituents. For the government, for the Premier, he needs to answer to all Nova Scotians who will judge him and judge his government. If there are members who have acted inappropriately, if there are members who we feel their conduct has not been correct, at the end of the day, their constituents will judge them.

Again, I remind you to remember Billy Joe MacLean. As much as the Assembly at that time thought what he did was wrong, as much as the media thought what he did was terrible, that Billy Joe should be hung in the public square for what he did, at the end of the day, the constituents in his riding decided. They looked above what he had done. He was human just like everyone else, regardless of the fact that he was their member and a minister. As I said, they sent him right back into this Chamber to continue to represent them. In fact, Mr. Speaker, referring to that individual, on Saturday, with the municipal elections, Billy Joe

[Page 7466]

MacLean was re-elected, I believe, for the third time as Mayor of Port Hawkesbury with a 900-vote margin.

So one really has to ask when you look at the career of Mr. MacLean, at the facts of his situation, do we need Bill No. 60? Is Bill No. 60 going to do something that the constituents who vote in elections cannot do, and are we really prepared to have our conduct judged by Justice Merlin Nunn? I don't think that is appropriate. I don't think it is necessary. We have to establish in this House what is appropriate and what is not. But at the end of the day it is going to be left to the people who have sent us to this Chamber to determine whether we should return or whether they wish to reject us on our representation.

Not wishing to take more time, Mr. Speaker, I think it is important, not only for the Opposition members, I think it is important even for the government members. At the end of the day, it is they who will have to live under this legislation, the sometimes burdensome aspects of this legislation which may sometimes tie their hands.

So with that, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to this bill moving forward, a chance to have some more debate on this, hear what the government has to say, and possibly bring forward some suggested changes to this bill that will more accurately reflect in reality what we are here to do and whether we really have to go down the road that Bill No. 60 is establishing at this point. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am being given some advice that maybe I should talk about yet another member of this House that hasn't been talked about yet. But you know, I am not going to do that. In fact, I have no intention of talking about anything that any past member or current member of this House may or may not have done. I am also, unlike the last speaker who seemed to be all over the place on whether he does or doesn't support this kind of legislation, I am going to say at the outset that I am going to be voting in support of this bill going forward. I say that without one bit of hesitation. I also have no hesitation in saying that I have confidence in a former Chief Justice of the Court of Nova Scotia even if this former speaker who happens to be a member of the bar doesn't, I have no hesitation whatsoever in that retired justice who is the Conflict of Interest Commissioner making fair unbiased decisions. And, Mr. Speaker, I have no hesitation or doubt whatsoever.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. SAMSON: On a point of order, I take extreme offence and demand that the member withdraw his comment. At no time did I question the abilities or the integrity of Justice Merlin Nunn. I question whether we should ask Justice Nunn to go and to judge the

[Page 7467]

conduct of these members. At no time did I question Justice Merlin Nunn's integrity or ability, and for the member to say so is intentionally misleading this House. I would ask Mr. Speaker to demand an apology for that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I will not apologize.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I will not only not apologize, but I didn't say that he cast aspersions on the Chief Justice. I said that he did not have confidence in that person. I have no hesitation in saying that I do. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Richmond has the floor.

MR. SAMSON: Well, you might get a lesson in growing up from this member, that might be one thing for you. You are getting more childish by the day. If one could legislate childishness in the code of conduct, this member for Sackville-Cobequid wouldn't be pleased with it then.

Mr. Speaker, at no time did I question confidence in Justice Nunn. I questioned whether this House should ask Justice Nunn to pass judgement on the conduct of members of this House. The member continues to mislead this House. As to my comments, I am asking you to rule, as Speaker, whether he has misled this House and, if he has done so, I would ask you to demand a retraction and an apology on that. This is an extremely serious issue, this is not just a disagreement among members, as is suggested by one of the NDP backbenchers, this is a question about a retired Supreme Court Justice of this province and I demand that you make a ruling on this and that the member for Sackville-Cobequid retract his intentionally misleading statement.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The issue is what exactly was said and I will review Hansard to see what was said by the honourable member for Richmond as well as the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid and certainly report back to the House tomorrow with a decision on that matter. Whether or not it was said or whether or not he implied it, I will make a decision tomorrow.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, would you care to adjourn debate.

MR. HOLM: One thing that I certainly want to do before I do that is to apologize to the member for Richmond for offending his sensitivity. I also say, Mr. Speaker, that if that member would consider living to the kinds of standards that he is talking about for others in

[Page 7468]

this House, that we will all be much better served. With that, I do move adjournment of second reading and to resume debate tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that the constituents of Richmond have sent me here twice in two years. I don't know if I will be here as long as the member for Sackville-Cobequid, but the day I become as pathetic as him I ask that you would encourage me to resign.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member moved adjournment of the debate.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: I just want to tie it up for the evening. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The order of business for tomorrow will be Public Bills for Second Reading. We will continue the debate with Bill No. 60 and then we will proceed to second reading of Bill No. 59, followed by Bill No. 61 and then Bill No. 63. The hours for Friday, tomorrow, will be from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., and if we should complete second reading of those bills, then we will adjourn the House at that time.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet tomorrow at the hour of 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

We will meet tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.

We have now reached the moment of interruption. The subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Halifax Needham.

"Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the need for a 10 year moratorium on the clawbacks of the equalization payments as royalties are obtained from offshore oil and gas."

[Page 7469]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

NAT. RES. - EQUALIZATION PAYTS.:

CLAWBACKS - MORATORIUM (10 YR.)

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take my time tonight in late debate and speak on this resolution:

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges adoption of the new, fairer, equalization formula that the provinces are seeking, and urges a 10 year moratorium on calculation of Atlantic oil and gas royalties for equalization purposes.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to quote something from a government news release August 23rd of this year. It says, "This year alone, the current equalization formula - calculated on a five-province average instead of the original 10-province standard - will cost Nova Scotia $90 million in revenue. The federal government has agreed to introduce part of a 1998 proposal put forward by the provinces to change the Canada Health and Social Transfer to one based strictly on population. But the federal government ignored provincial proposals for Ottawa to remove the ceiling on equalization payments and phase in a 10-province standard."

[6:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia has been let down by a succession of Liberal and Tory national governments when it comes to equalization payments. These governments - and now we find our friends in the Alliance Party - play up to Atlantic Canada during election times. For some reason, all those sweet promises surely will be forgotten after the election is over, per usual.

Mr. Speaker, the importance of having this 10 year moratorium, one could say, you are reaping the benefits of that money today, why not turn off the tap proportionately. Well, while certain small pockets of this province are enjoying increased revenue from this gas and oil exploration, indeed, coming ashore, it is not felt province-wide, and as these things go, the more disadvantaged sections of this province will be hurt the most. One only has to look, as far as I am concerned, to my area in Cape Breton. When you see that the flow of natural gas for residential purposes will not reach industrial Cape Breton for at least six to seven years, and maybe longer, because we now have a problem with the feed system coming across the Strait because clearly it has been shown by the National Energy Board that they

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cannot put the pressure through the pipes that they originally had been designed for because of apparent flaws.

Mr. Speaker, what happens there? Well, it puts an area such as industrial Cape Breton at a disadvantage. It is not going to see the benefits for years, if ever. There is no guarantee. If you were to sit down with Sempra Gas today and say to Sempra Gas, are you going to guarantee to us that for sure in your time-frame there will be natural gas to residential customers in industrial Cape Breton in your target dates? I am sure they will give you some kind of answer that will show that they are hedging their bet. A lot of that, I can tell you, goes to the point of capacity, the capacity that that pipe can handle. We know it is not there. We know, the government knows this, the industry knows this. All you have to do is look at the level right now, today, that the fractionation plant in the Strait of Canso, how many cars they are filling up, how many tanker cars they are filling per day.

Mr. Speaker, I would say that they are well below 50 per cent of capacity. I don't think the outlook of hitting full capacity with the pipeline problems is a reality. This government and the Liberal Government before it have had an abysmal record of failing to fully capitalize on the opportunities this oil and gas industry could present to this province. We have not developed a homegrown policy for the gas and oil industry to compete worldwide, where the spin-offs would be in real terms, real money, we would get to keep 100 per cent of every homegrown dollar for Nova Scotia, with a job for a Nova Scotia company that wins contracts. The money would stay here; we are not talking 70/30, we are talking 100 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, revenue from oil and gas royalties are just one piece of the puzzle in Nova Scotia's economic recovery. Again the MacLellan Government badly let us down when setting the royalty regime. We won't get enough money for our resource, and it is loaded at the back end.

On top of that we stand to lose 70 cents of equalization money for every dollar of royalty revenue. The net result is a resource that will pay us less than $10 billion over 25 years. The Liberals should be embarrassed about that, but yet they continue to crow about it, Mr. Speaker. It is opportunity lost. It is time the part of the equalization formula dealing with revenues for natural resources were changed. It is time to say the East Coast needs a break until it can get back on its feet.

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, the fact that you just cannot turn off the tap of equalization programs because at the well-head, if you will, it appears that we are doing very well financially, but we are not. Today we see the unemployment rate in Cape Breton climbing. We see the unemployment rate climbing in Queens County. We see it in Yarmouth and so on because they are not enjoying the benefits of the offshore, but yet the federal government still wants to base it as if everybody is in the glow of this prosperity, which is not a fact. We want everybody in this province to be a part of that growth and for real dollars to be flowing in those areas.

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So I think this is a very, I would suspect, non-partisan approach to this and saying, you know, it is not bad to admit you are wrong at some point, Mr. Speaker, and it is important, I think, that if we went to the federal government as a respectable provincial government and said, look, this is not working, this equalization regime is not working as proposed because our whole province is not participating in this growth. I defy members of this House to say that the economic engine that is chugging along here in metro is reflective in the outer reaches of the province. I think every member in here would agree today that that is not happening. So for us to cut them adrift and say, well, look, we just are not getting those equalization dollars any more, it would be wrong.

What we need is a renegotiated program that would allow, as we say, a 10 year moratorium on those funds, that they would not be decreased, that would allow us to invest in areas that are not enjoying this economic renaissance and help them build together as opposed to this old-fashioned idea of economic hub and spoke where if the centre takes off, eventually everybody else will take off which, you know, in its simplicity works, but the problem is, as we all know, it is like flowing water, it takes longer to get to the end than to the middle. How long can people in Yarmouth County last like that, Mr. Speaker? How long can people in rural Cape Breton last waiting for this vague promise while they see real revenues going down in this province?

So we need a formula that says, look, no more cuts. Let us take this money and we will spread it equally amongst all of our citizens. Everyone in this province will have an equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits. We are not asking for anything else than what we need. We are not looking for, as my Liberal friends would say, a handout. We are looking for a hand up, Mr. Speaker. We are looking for equalization and I think that is important that these things are equalization. They are not putting one part above the other. What they are saying is, you don't have a resource so we are going to help you and that is all that is, Mr. Speaker, is a moratorium for 10 years to help turn this around.

It will take them 20 years, maybe 30 years for the outer reaches; if we were left just to be driven by corporate economics, these people will be left out there with no safety net. So I believe, Mr. Speaker - in closing my remarks - that if we put a 10 year moratorium on equalization programs, it would help the outer reaches of this province and everyone would enjoy economic renewal.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to debate the motion in late debate:

"Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the need for a 10 year moratorium on the clawbacks of equalization payment as royalties are obtained from offshore oil and gas."

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Mr. Speaker, to begin with, one would have to say of Ottawa - and the other provinces would agree - that a 10 year moratorium would be able to be in place in Nova Scotia, that I for one would be extremely happy because it would be a tremendous benefit to the Province of Nova Scotia, economically, in many ways. Unlike the NDP who say that they should be just given out in a paycheque to everybody in Nova Scotia, I don't know if that is wise in regard to if those dollars were to be here to build the infrastructure that is required to allow for further exploration and opportunity to again enhance long beyond a 10 year window, the economic opportunities for the province.

The reality is with the offshore coming in and the royalties are here, the province will see the benefits in billions of dollars to the province. For that, not only directly in dollars, but in employment, this is a very positive initiative and one that we as a province should be working harder on to develop further economic opportunities that really undoubtedly are part of the offshore potential. This is a new frontier. The frontier we have here is only the beginning, the tip of the iceberg of what I believe can happen down the road.

I think the reality is that what will not happen today or tomorrow is a collective agreement from Ottawa to say yes, we are just going to give you 10 years of royalty pleasure. We have been after them ourselves, and I don't know if Ottawa is inclined to give that up overnight, or the other provinces to agree to that benefit for this particular province without an offset somewhere in the other areas; nor are the other Conservative Governments in Canada, I doubt if they would agree with that.

But instead of bargaining from a position of weakness, Mr. Speaker, I think Nova Scotia should be moving forward and exploit every opportunity to make this province a have province. I believe that can happen. It is unfortunate I guess when we look back to 1988, the offshore accord, the agreement that was signed by John Buchanan and then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, that basically hobbled together the offshore industry and has created many of the hollowness of the opportunities that we had in the offshore back then, and we are seeing the effect of that today.

Nova Scotia has yet to live up to its full potential, the potential as a world leader in petroleum production. Nova Scotia in my view gave away its ability to leverage opportunities by the agreement of that accord, which included the ability to benefit fully from the royalty regime. I believe Mr. Buchanan maybe didn't understand the future, or Brian Mulroney, the former Prime Minister, understand that the future of this province, the royalty benefits would be a phenomenal economic windfall to help shore up health care, education and other fundamental underpinnings to the economy of this province, not only in those social benefits that are required, but also in infrastructure that is badly needed.

All I can think about is when the agreements that Mr. Buchanan had made with the former provincial government and federal Conservative Government in Ottawa, I remember those agreements that were made where dollars flowed into the province and we built roads

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to nowhere, and we built all sorts of things that meant no real benefit to the economy of the Province of Nova Scotia. Those days would never want to come back again. Nova Scotians deserve better, and I believe this province is poised for opportunity, but not opportunity by getting money to only throw away at political wills.

To add to that, when they signed the accord, they should have given Nova Scotia control at that time of the lucrative Laurentian Sub-basin. John Buchanan at that time should have known that Newfoundland was not ready, by any stretch of the imagination, to concede Nova Scotia's rightful claim to the Laurentian Sub-basin opportunities. Now we are debating that particular issue in spades, and we are trying to find a resolve. That should have been part of that accord. If he had done anything, he should have made sure we could have strengthened our position in that particular area, but the 1988 accord signed by the Progressive Conservative Government of Nova Scotia and that of the federal Conservative Government, is a hollow document and today we see the negative effects.

[6:15 p.m.]

To add insult to injury during that whole process, John Buchanan, the Premier of the Government of the Province of Nova Scotia, set the wheels in motion for the fiasco that all of us have lived through, and that is Nova Scotia Resources Limited. I know what that headache is all about. I remember in 1993, when we took over the $0.5 billion unfunded liability that went with NSRL. Why didn't the government do something about that? Why didn't they agree in the accord to write some of that off, or pay some of that with the money that came from Ottawa, instead of into programs that were not beneficial to the overall economy of this province. We have seen the legacy of poor management in these areas.

What I believe is that if we were to receive that 100 per cent royalty regime, it would be beneficial, and we would need to put in focus and in place a very clear delineation of where those dollar investments would be. I think we also have to look beyond the issue of equalization, to a time when Nova Scotia will be that have province that many of us on this side of the bench started to build with our economic strategies for the Province of Nova Scotia. A have province once and for all is a dream that many of us have, so that the children and others will be able to stay here and prosper.

However, in the government's view, they don't feel that we could be doing that with developing a stronger liaison with the petroleum industry. I have talked to the minister about that, and I feel very strongly about it. The NDP want to take their hat in hand, go around to other provinces, and beg for this, beg for that. Well, that is fine, they can do that.

If they are really true about their attitude about building that infrastructure of self-reliance and benefits to us all, then why isn't the government of the day making sure that the petroleum industry - we have a Minister of Tourism and Culture, which is fine, a very important part of the economy, but the petroleum industry is spending billions of dollars off

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our coast. There are billions of dollars more to be spent, the potential is unbelievable for economic windfall and gain and jobs and benefits, a new emerging industry within our grasp, within our reach, and yet we have a minister that has a number of portfolios. I know he can only do so much, and I am not critical of him at all; I know he is trying to do this job right.

I think if the government was to make a priority of developing a strategy for the petroleum industry, and talking about the royalty regime, they should be putting a minister directly responsible to allow those companies to come here to know that we are open for business, to sherpa them through the process and the maze of bureaucracy in the government that we have.

Mr. Speaker, I feel very strongly that yes, it is great to talk about the royalty regime, and that is like putting in Atlantic Loto, we should get it all back, we all fight for that. The reality is that it is highly unlikely that will happen. We should fight hard to make sure that does, but if it doesn't work out, then what do we do? We have an opportunity here to make the have Province of Nova Scotia a reality by building and strengthening and making a priority of that government of the day to put more focus on the offshore and allow that industry to know that we are open for business. We are not giving anything away, we don't want to give anything away. We want to be smart and prudent and careful about the resource and manage it to the advantage of Nova Scotians.

We need to make sure we send that message to that industry, that we want them to come. The opportunities are phenomenal. The NDP, hat in hand, beg other provinces for a crumb off the table. My view is to take a look at what mistakes were made in the past, and they were made in the past, to what we can do in the future to build this province from the petroleum industry that will be a great potential for us all.

Instead of government being trapped in a past of no vision, no hope, we should be building on the opportunities that truly exist in this industry by focusing the attention of government and all of us on building a stronger, more diverse economy by allowing the petroleum industry to really take off in this frontier that we are on. It will be a frontier that will grow and expand to be a major plank, economically and socially, for this province for years to come. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate.

HON. GORDON BALSER: I would like to thank the member for Halifax Needham for raising this issue so that we could discuss it in late debate. I would like to put aside the empty rhetoric and approach the discussion with three main objectives. First, there is a great deal of information that exists around how the royalty regime actually works, so I would like to explain a bit about that. I would also like to look specifically at the issue that is contained in the resolution, and that is exactly how the equalization formula works.

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In closing, I would like to discuss what it is that we, as a government, are doing to address the issue of clawbacks. First of all, and many people have a great deal of misinformation, as I said, the Sable royalty regime is designed to encourage development and reduce financial risk and, at the same time, to offer the province a fair market price for that resource. This was an industry in its infancy when the Sable project began. To ensure that it could go forward, we put in place a royalty regime that was reflective of the level of risk and, at the same time, reflective of the fact that this resource off our coast is truly going to be the catalyst for future economic prosperity for this province.

The reality of the royalty regime, as it currently exists, is that the royalties as accruing to the province are low in the first year because the investors need to get a return on their significant investments. They need to get back what they have put out. One per cent of our gross revenues is our royalty for the first three years. After that, the royalty depends on how much money the project makes. That is fair to all partners.

Once the project has paid back the investment to the original investors, we will see a significant increase in the revenues accruing to the province. Net revenue, by the way, is really just the cash flow after you have deducted the costs of operations. That is operating costs, that is not the capital costs to build the initial structures. The capital costs, as I said earlier, have already been recovered through the structuring of the royalties. So net royalty is, in fact, really based on the net cash flows from the project. We recognize that the net royalty rate will range somewhere between 30 per cent and 35 per cent, again depending on how the investment return occurs. At the current prices we obviously expect net royalties by the middle of the coming decade. So, to follow on the comments from across the floor, we do have a significant opportunity for this province.

By the middle of the decade, the revenues to the province will be substantial. Based on the Sable project alone we are talking hundreds of millions of dollars. Everyone is optimistic that the Sable project is just the precursor for projects yet to come.

We don't get the full benefit of all that and therein lies the problem - how the equalization formula works. So I want to take a few moments now to explain that. As I said earlier, there is a great deal of misinformation and rhetoric around the issues of whether or not the royalty regime that was negotiated by the Province of Nova Scotia is fair and equitable. As every member in this House knows and realizes fully, equalization is enshrined in the constitution. The economic circumstances that each province finds varies. You have Alberta with vast resources and the revenues that have accrued over a number of years to that province as a result of those resources. You have Ontario which, because of its significant industrial base, has a strong and vibrant economy.

Equalization revenue is the constitution's way of ensuring that provinces that are not as fortunate as provinces like Alberta and Ontario have a chance to gain from the vast wealth of this great country. It is an attempt, if you will, to level the playing field, to ensure that

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those who are less well off can expect a certain level of economic prosperity and benefit. It is fair and it is, in fact, very much what makes Canada one of the greatest countries in the world.

Now in theory, the province's ability to pay its own way, if that improves, then obviously, the equalization regime should drop off. As revenues to the province accrue because of economic growth, monies are diverted to provinces that remain less fortunate. That is the theory behind the way in which equalization payments work. The problem is, there is a great deal of difference between what is theory and what is reality, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, we are going to have new royalties and yes, as I said earlier, those royalties will be substantial in the years ahead. And yes, we will have corporate income taxes accruing to the province as a result of the economic growth that occurs directly from the oil and gas industry, and indirectly as the economy grows overall. But, you know, as fast as those provincial revenues grow, the equalization payments will decline. So what could potentially happen is that we will be metaphorically like the person who runs faster and faster and faster and remains in exactly the same spot. That, to all concerned, is just not good enough. It is not good enough for any Nova Scotian.

We need to place a means by which we can bridge the gap from where we are now to where we will be. To do that, we face significant problems. This province has a massive, staggering debt. Nova Scotia pays more interest per capita than any other province in Canada. At the same time, our needs are significant. Each day in this House of Assembly, we hear of the concerns of Nova Scotians, and they are legitimate concerns. On one hand, they see a wealth of opportunity off our shore. They see the beginnings of what will be, and like anyone hungry for opportunity, they want that day to come as soon as possible.

We have an older population, a population that makes significant demands on our health care system. As everyone knows, health care is very, very expensive. We also in this province, as has been said on many occasions, have significant economic problems. We do have an economy that is growing, but we have issues around regional disparity within this province. Everyone speaks to the opportunities that will accrue to certain geographic regions as we move forward with oil and gas. The level of optimism and excitement in the Strait area as you see, gas fractionation, and in fact other related industries, petro chemical industries, you see that on the horizon.

The level of optimism is there. But by the same token there are areas of this province that recognize that it will be very, very difficult for them to have access to those benefits. I think, too, we need to look at Nova Scotia as a region. We need to start talking about home in a way that includes all of the province. In fact, what is good for the Strait area or good for industrial Cape Breton or good for Metropolitan Halifax, HRM, is also in many ways good for the Valley and good for my riding in Digby-Annapolis or good for Yarmouth and Shelburne. We need to recognize that.

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We also need to realize just exactly what the Premier has done to make this issue come forward. He raised the issue at the CORE conference when he spoke about what Nova Scotia will look like into the future, so we are aggressively pursuing the issue of a clawback. We have written letters to our federal counterparts. We have structured a committee that is aggressively looking at ways in which we can ensure that the issue of equalization is addressed in a timely manner, because it is important to Nova Scotians that we get our maximum share of those benefits as soon as is humanly possible. I am convinced that this government will be able to do that. Our federal counterparts have expressed an interest in making that happen. We will work with them. I am sure with my colleagues across the way, we can make it happen. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, and I thank the members for the discussion this evening. The time has expired. We will adjourn until tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:30 p.m.]