Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Mon., Nov. 1, 1999

First Session

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Petroleum Directorate - NEB: Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline Ltd. -
Proceedings, Hon. G. Balser 1265
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 397, Culture: Music - African (N.S. Awards) & MIANS-Congrats./
Week-Recognize, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 1268
Vote - Affirmative 1268
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 398, Sysco - Gov't. (N.S.): Election Promise (Closure) -
Consequences, Mr. Robert Chisholm 1269
Res. 399, Health - Dr. Bruce Elliott (Dart.): Death - Sympathy Extend,
Hon. J. Muir 1269
Vote - Affirmative 1270
Res. 400, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Larry Uteck (HRM Councillor Dist. 13):
Resignation - Deep Appreciation Extend, Mr. R. MacLellan 1270
Vote - Affirmative 1271
Res. 401, Educ. - NSTU: Bravo Award of Distinction - Congrats.,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1271
Vote - Affirmative 1271
Res. 402, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Keith Colwell (HRM Councillor Dist. 3):
Election - Congrats., Mr. D. Hendsbee 1271
Vote - Affirmative 1272
Res. 403, Exco - Code of Conduct: Example (Gov't. [N.S.-Lib.]
1993-99) - Follow, Mr. D. Downe 1272
Res. 404, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Gasoline: Pricing Predatory Ban -
Legislation Intro., Mr. J. Holm 1273
Res. 405, Veterans Affs. (Can.) - Merchant Mariners: Benefits Plan -
Support, Mr. B. Taylor 1274
Vote - Affirmative 1274
Res. 406, Exco - Premier: Responsibilities - Actions Evaluate,
Dr. J. Smith 1274
Res. 407, Educ. - Debating Champs (N.S.-HS): Isabelle LeVert-Chiasson
(Dart.-Cole Hbr.), Deborah Militzer (Hfx. Citadel) & Participants -
Achievement Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 1275
Vote - Affirmative 1276
Res. 408, Utd. Baptist Convention (Atl. Prov.) - Rev. Wallace Smith
Ordination - Congrats., Mr. D. Hendsbee 1276
Vote - Affirmative 1277
Res. 409, Justice - FOI: Problem (Promises [243]) - Realize (Premier),
Mr. M. Samson 1277
Res. 410, Commun. Serv. - Seniors (Spryfield) Ctr.: Anniv. 1st -
Congrats., Mr. Robert Chisholm 1277
Vote - Affirmative 1278
Res. 411, Hfx.-Dart. Bridge Comm'n. - Angus L. Macdonald Bridge:
Third Lane Opening - Congrats., Mr. T. Olive 1278
Vote - Affirmative 1278
Res. 412, Gov't. (N.S.) - Route: Direction - Know, Mr. R. MacKinnon 1279
Res. 413, Church of Latter Day Saints (N.S.) - Service-Recognize/
Temple-Opening Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 1279
Vote - Affirmative 1280
Res. 414, Educ. - NSTU & PR Dir. (Mr. Les Walker): Bravo Award of
Distinction - Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 1280
Vote - Affirmative 1280
Res. 415, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwys.: Tolls - Eliminate,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1281
Res. 416, Justice - FOI: Leaks (Premier's Office) - Plug, Mr. B. Boudreau 1281
Res. 417, Hfx.-Dart. Bridge Comm'n. - Angus L. Macdonald Bridge:
Third Lane Opening - Congrats., Mr. J. Pye 1282
Vote - Affirmative 1283
Res. 418, Housing & Mun. Affs. - HRM By-Elections:
Keith Colwell et al - Election Congrats., Mr. R. MacLellan 1283
Vote - Affirmative 1283
Res. 419, Health - Physician Recruitment (Truro): Min. Solutions
[Third Party (1998-99)] - Use, Dr. J. Smith 1284
Res. 420, Justice - People First Nova Scotia: Contribution - Congrats.,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1285
Vote - Affirmative 1285
Res. 421, Environ. - Cdn. Mar. Millennium Initiative & Tusket R.
Environ. Protect Assoc.: Vision - Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 1285
Vote - Affirmative 1286
Res. 422, Remembrance Day: Silence (2 min.) - Observe, Mr. D. Dexter 1286
Vote - Affirmative 1287
Res. 423, Lbr. - Workers' Safety: Attitude (Min.) - Modification
(1993 on) Explain, Mr. R. MacKinnon 1287
Res. 424, Sports - Fastball (N.S. Champs.): Cole Hbr. Midgets Comets -
Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 1288
Vote - Affirmative 1288
Res. 425, Sports - Timberlea-Prospect: Ice Surface (Second) -
Meetings Hold, Mr. W. Estabrooks 1288
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1289
Mr. M. Samson 1293
Mr. B. Taylor 1298
Mr. M. Parent 1299
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 4:26 P.M. 1302
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 8:27 P.M. 1302
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 7, Financial Measures (1999) Act 1303
Hon. N. LeBlanc 1303
Mr. J. Holm 1305
Mr. H. Epstein 1312
Mr. D. Downe 1314
Mr. Robert Chisholm 1328
Hon. N. LeBlanc 1329
Vote - Affirmative 1331
No. 8, Municipal Elections Act 1331
Hon. A. MacIsaac 1332
Mr. J. Pye 1332
Mr. B. Boudreau 1334
Mr. J. Holm 1335
Hon. A. MacIsaac 1337
Vote - Affirmative 1338
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Mr. W. Dooks 1338
Adjourned debate 1344
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Nov. 2nd at 11:00 a.m. 1344

[Page 1265]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 1999

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

3:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

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

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, last week the National Energy Board announced it would hold two proceedings regarding the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline Ltd. These proceedings are the result of a recent federal court decision concerning an action brought forward by the Union of Nova Scotia Indians. The federal court's decision was to squash the board's original findings that Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline Ltd. had satisfied a condition of its Certificate of Convenience.

1265

[Page 1266]

The Province of Nova Scotia has an interest in the outcome of these matters now before the NEB. In particular, Nova Scotia has an interest in the impact of the court's decision on the start-up and operation of the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline. Therefore, Nova Scotia has accepted the National Energy Board's invitation to participate as an interested party. We believe the question of the start-up and the operation of the Maritimes pipeline is very important. While a separate proceeding is under way to bring a satisfactory conclusion to the dispute between the company and the Union of Nova Scotia Indians, the province believes that this matter should not cause a delay in the conduit of Sable gas.

This project, the first of its kind in Nova Scotia, holds out the promise for a better economy for all the people of this province. Nova Scotia believes that the lines should be allowed to operate so that gas can flow to market. This action should not be seen by either party in the separate dispute as an endorsement of the positions of either Maritimes or the Union of Nova Scotia Indians. The government must represent the interest of all people and it is this government's position that delivering Sable gas to market is in the interest of all Nova Scotians. It will mean jobs, royalties and the cementing of our reputation as a place where companies can do business. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I rise today in response to the minister's statement and say that I am somewhat concerned about the tone of it, not the fact that this is a very important initiative because it is and not because of the fact that Nova Scotia needs the jobs and the economic activity that may be generated from this pipeline and the sale of gas, but because of the message that it sends with respect to the court's decision on what the NEB did or failed to do with respect to the granting of this decision.

The court, Mr. Speaker, said that the case was really very simple; did the tribunal on the facts of the particular case act fairly and their answer was also simply, no. The NEB did not act fairly and so they have to go back and do it again. It all rests on something called Condition 22 and I will briefly read it for you. "The company shall submit to the board a written protocol or agreement, spelling out proponent Aboriginal roles and responsibilities for cooperation in studies and monitoring."

So by the government intervening as it has in this respect, they are saying that they are supporting the side of the company that did not give proper notice to the Aboriginal groups. They are proclaiming, in effect, that Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline Ltd. never really needed to take Condition 22 seriously. I think that is not the kind of signal that we want to send in this respect because if there are no consequences to breaching Condition 22 and no consequences for acting unfairly, then Condition 22 and Aboriginal rights might as well not exist. I don't think that the government wants to be sending that kind of a signal, especially given the fact that it is acknowledging on the one hand the need to deal with questions of

[Page 1267]

Aboriginal title and Aboriginal rights and yet it won't deal with those issues in the tripartite forum.

Mr. Speaker, I understand the minister and this government feeling the need to protect their interests but I think they also have to recognize their fiduciary responsibility in the whole question of Aboriginal title and Aboriginal rights and they can't simply come down on one side, as they have in this instance, and ignore what the courts have said and also ignore the very real wording and the implications of something like Condition 22 which deals with the whole question of Aboriginal rights and Aboriginal title.

I think, Mr. Speaker, that it was a knee-jerk response. I wish the government had not gone down this road because, once again, it is fanning the flames of a controversy that is building in this province that if this government does not start to show some clear-headed, fair-minded thinking, we are going to have further problems down the road. (Applause)

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for providing me the copy of his release earlier on. In the release the minister talks about holding proceedings and the government becoming involved in this particular project at this level. I think we have to state for the record that perhaps the Sable Offshore Energy Project is more than important to Nova Scotia; it is probably the most important economic initiative that we are going to have as we enter the new millennium.

In regard to the statement itself, there is a line here that is somewhat perplexing to me. It says that, "The Province of Nova Scotia has an interest in the outcome . . .", now before the National Energy Board. I would say, Mr. Speaker, that the Province of Nova Scotia not only has an interest and is acting as an "interested party," the Province of Nova Scotia is the main player here. I think the Province of Nova Scotia should take the leadership in discussions that are going to be intense over the next weeks and months and I think the government has a role to play in resolving the outstanding issues surrounding the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline's involvement in this and what eventually is going to happen.

I agree that the action should not be seen by either party as a separate dispute and the government must represent the interests of all people and the government's position that delivering Sable gas to market should be in the interests of all Nova Scotians. I wish the government well in this particular intervention, but there are some hard questions that have to be answered here. I certainly hope that those questions are answered sooner than later. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 1268]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 397

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

Whereas Nova Scotia musicians and the music industry are among the province's most valuable assets, contributing tens of millions of dollars annually to our provincial economy and enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors alike; and

Whereas on the weekend the African Nova Scotia Music Awards were held honouring the musical heritage of the province's Black community, while spotlighting talented new artists; and

Whereas the music industry of Nova Scotia is also working hard to raise awareness of our musicians in this important industry, including hosting the Music and Media Conference in Halifax this week;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House congratulate the organizers and winners of the African Nova Scotia Music Awards as well as congratulate the Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia and officially recognize the week of November 1st to November 7th as Nova Scotia Music Week.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

[Page 1269]

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 398

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

Whereas today Nova Scotians learned that Reserve, an Ohio-based consortium and one of the leading potential buyers for the Sydney steel mill, is prepared to drop out of the bidding; and

Whereas Reserve officials claim the financial numbers are an absolute disaster and Sysco's order book has dried up in recent months; and

Whereas this government campaigned on closing a failing Sydney Steel by year's end, thereby setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy where buyers are hesitant to contract steel purchases because of the uncertainty surrounding the plant, thus strangling Sydney Steel and the community it supports;

Therefore be it resolved that this government admit to Sysco, its workers and industrial Cape Bretoners that with friends like it, who need enemies.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 399

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

Whereas Dr. Bruce Elliott of Dartmouth spent much of his medical career attending to those with HIV and AIDS as well as those suffering from environmental illnesses; and

[3:15 p.m.]

Whereas Dr. Elliott worked at both the Victoria General and Fall River Environmental Clinics, and was co-chair of the Environmental Illnesses Community Advisory Committee; and

Whereas Dr. Elliott died Saturday in a tragic diving accident near St. Margaret's Bay;

[Page 1270]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend to the family of Dr. Elliott their deepest sympathies on the passing of this outstanding community physician.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 400

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

Whereas Larry Uteck has served the constituents of District No. 13, Northwest Arm-South End, with great pride and distinction; and

Whereas during his tenure, he has served the office of councillor and deputy mayor with commitment, vision and a lot of heart; and

Whereas Larry Uteck's recent resignation announcement has met with deep regret by his colleagues, residents and indeed our caucus;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House extend deep appreciation to Larry Uteck for all the dedicated support and commitment that he has exhibited to the residents of District No. 13, and to extend to him and his family our very best wishes, and to Larry Uteck our deepest thanks and utmost respect.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1271]

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 401

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

Whereas the Canadian Association of Communicators in Education has awarded a prestigious Bravo Award of Distinction to the Nova Scotia Teachers Union; and

Whereas this award was given to the Nova Scotia Teachers Union for a series of programs dating from 1992, which led to the establishment of the new Sheonoroil Foundation for Research in School Violence last May; and

Whereas the award was given for demonstrated excellence in research, planning, execution and evaluation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House and all its members congratulate the Nova Scotia Teachers Union for winning this prestigious award and for establishing the Sheonoroil Foundation for Research into School Violence.

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 Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 402

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

[Page 1272]

Whereas by-elections to fill the vacancies left on the Halifax Regional Council as a result of the July 27th provincial election, were held on the weekend; and

Whereas former provincial Liberal Cabinet Minister Keith Colwell was successful in winning the Preston-Porters Lake seat; and

Whereas switching from provincial to municipal politics will bring new and interesting challenges to the former MLA;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Mr. Colwell on his successful election as the new Halifax Regional Councillor for the great riding of District No. 3.

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 403

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

Whereas 1 of the 243 Tory promises is to establish and enforce a code of conduct for Cabinet Ministers; and

Whereas the Premier promised the House that his code of conduct was 85 per cent to 90 per cent completed; and

Whereas to establish this code now would be like closing the barn door after the herd of cattle stampeded out;

[Page 1273]

Therefore be it resolved that since the Premier's staff is so busy at damage control, they not waste their time on the final 10 per cent, but instead simply follow the example of the previous scandal-free Liberal Government (Laughter) as opposed to taking after the Buchanan-Cameron Tories of old.

I ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed.

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 404

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

Whereas Nova Scotians have suffered for years under the predatory pricing practices of big oil companies; and

Whereas the increased HST tax burden of recent years has only compounded these predatory practices; and

Whereas Nova Scotians deserve more than ever to pay only fair prices for gasoline and home heating oil;

Therefore be it resolved that this government move forward immediately with progressive legislation banning predatory pricing practices to ensure Nova Scotians pay fair prices for gasoline and home heating products.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 1274]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley

RESOLUTION NO. 405

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

Whereas the federal Minister of Veterans Affairs is working hard to put a benefits plan in place for merchant marines before November 11th; and

Whereas last year, this Legislature's All-Party Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, chaired at that time by the current MLA for Cumberland South, and now Speaker Murray Scott, unanimously endorsed our merchant marines' request for compensation; and

Whereas during the Battle of the Atlantic, 1,466 Canadian merchant seamen were killed in their efforts to secure peace, freedom and democracy;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature unanimously support the efforts of the minister and the House of Commons Veterans Affairs Committee in their quest of finally doing the right thing by unveiling a long and much-sought-after package for merchant marines.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of motion 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 Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 406

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

[Page 1275]

Whereas this government will be remembered by how it has responded to persons with disabilities, charities, paramedics, and regional health board volunteers; and

Whereas Premier Hamm must now assess where and from whom he is getting his advice on such matters; and

Whereas during the election, Premier Hamm promised to fix the health care system with $46 million that he said would be obtained from cutting back on administration;

Therefore be it resolved that if the Premier truly is in charge, he must now seriously evaluate whether he is just stubborn, poorly advised, lacks decision-making abilities, or a combination of all three.

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. 407

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

Whereas Isabelle LeVert-Chiasson, a Page in this House and a constituent in Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, has been recognized as a champion debater; and

Whereas Ms. LeVert-Chiasson won the title of best Francophone debater in the 1998 Debats L'Acadien; and

Whereas along with her teammate Deborah Militzer, Ms. LeVert-Chiasson finished in a 1st place tie for the Provincial Senior High School Bilingual Championship in 1999;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Ms. LeVert-Chiasson, Deborah Militzer and all participants in the provincial high school debating championship on their achievement.

[Page 1276]

Mr. Speaker, I would 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. (Applause)

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 408

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

Whereas the Reverend Wallace Smith, who has been the lead singer for the group The Gospel Heirs for the past 21 years, was ordained as a minister on Saturday, October 30th; and

Whereas Pastor Smith will be bringing his many talents to the Zion Baptist Church in Truro and will lead the congregation in sermons of praise of the Lord's work; and

Whereas Pastor Smith is the first individual from the Community of North Preston to meet the requirements of ordination by the United Baptist Convention of the Atlantic Provinces;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating the Reverend Wallace Smith and his family for his years of dedicated service and proclamation of the Lord's work.

Mr. Speaker, I hereby 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.

[Page 1277]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 409

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

Whereas on Thursday, the Premier was quoting line and verse of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act; and

Whereas the Premier was trying to hide behind the Act while at the same time peering through the loopholes; and

Whereas the Premier claimed it was the Act's fault because it is flawed;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier realize the problem does not lie with a flawed Freedom of Information Act but with 243 flaws contained in a document called, "Strong Leadership . . . . a clear course.".

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 410

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

Whereas on Saturday, October 30th, the Spryfield Seniors' Centre celebrated its 1st Anniversary; and

Whereas the South Centre Mall has generously provided space at the mall to the seniors at no charge; and

Whereas the seniors' centre is much needed and appreciated by the seniors of Spryfield as a place to enjoy friendships, support and good fun;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the seniors of Spryfield for establishing and running their own very successful centre in Spryfield.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1278]

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. 411

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

Whereas today's toll-free day for the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge marks the official opening of the new third lane; and

Whereas the third lane has already been a contributing factor to ease the traffic woes of regular commuters; and

Whereas the completion of this three year project will also help ease the crossing time for cyclists and safety for pedestrians, as a separate lane for each was part of the expansion;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission Chairman, Larry Doane; Steve Snider, General Manager and CEO of the Commission; their associates; and all others involved in the planning, but most especially the numerous construction workers who braved late hours, dangerous conditions, not to mention Nova Scotia weather to have this project completed for the benefit of all who cross its span.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1279]

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 412

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

Whereas recent media reports have legislative reporters dining amongst the rats; and

Whereas the hallmark of John Hamm's Tory Government is to take from the poor and give to the fat cats; and

Whereas continued Tory snafus have all Nova Scotians curious about this government's ability to govern effectively;

Therefore be it resolved that this government be mindful of the saying, "It is not as important to know where you are, as it is to know what direction you are taking.".

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 413

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

Whereas the Church of Latter Day Saints has a long history in the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Church of Latter Day Saints has an equally respected record with their church in Colby Village; and

Whereas the Church of Latter Day Saints is opening a temple in Colby Village to serve the needs of its congregation in this area;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the service of the Church of Latter Day Saints to Nova Scotians and congratulate them on the opening of their new temple.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 1280]

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 Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 414

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

Whereas the Canadian Association of Communicators in Education has awarded a prestigious Bravo Award of Distinction to the Nova Scotia Teachers Union; and

Whereas this was recognition for a series of programs established by the NSTU to address the disturbing situation of violence in our schools; and

Whereas the award was given for demonstrated excellence in research, planning, implementation and evaluation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations and best wishes to the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and its Director of Public Relations, Mr. Les Walker, on the receipt of this prestigious award.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 1281]

RESOLUTION NO. 415

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

Whereas while this Tory Government was the Third Party in this House it spoke out against toll highways; and

Whereas toll highways still exist in this province even though the Tories came into power; and

Whereas toll highways unfairly penalize communities in the areas where they are located;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government act immediately to reduce or eliminate tolls on Nova Scotia highways.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[3:30 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 416

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 leak of a Freedom of Information request from the Premier's Office is a major violation of public confidence; and

Whereas the last time the Premier had to deal with confidential information he burned it in his fireplace; and

[Page 1282]

Whereas when it comes to confidential information, the Premier's Office has more leaks than a submarine with a screen door;

Therefore be it resolved that before dealing with a law that he says is flawed, the Premier should begin his reforms by plugging the leaks coming from his own staff.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 417

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

Whereas the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge underwent extensive renovations to allow for a third traffic lane, a bicycle lane and a pedestrian walkway;

Whereas this traffic lane allows traffic to flow more freely; and

Whereas architectural designers, engineers, construction workers and commissionaires were involved in making this old new bridge possible by completing it early and under budget, a major accomplishment these days;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature congratulate all those involved on a job well done.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1283]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 418

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

Whereas this past Saturday three by-elections were held in the Halifax Regional Municipality to replace councillors who were elected to this House of Assembly during the recent provincial election; and

Whereas a former member of this House and former Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mr. Keith Colwell, was a candidate in one of the by-elections; and

Whereas Mr. Colwell ran in the district formerly held by the present member for Preston, garnering 62 per cent of the votes cast in his resounding victory;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations and best wishes to Mr. Colwell and the other successful candidates in the by-election.

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 Dartmouth South on an introduction.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw attention to the east gallery to an outstanding Dartmouthian and published author of a book called Waterfalls of Nova Scotia and a Dartmouthian who is working very hard to ensure the success of the Canoe 2000 World Marathon Championships in Dartmouth next July and August. I would

[Page 1284]

like to have the House acknowledge Mr. Allan Billard and bring him the wishes of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston on a point of order.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of clarification, I just want to provide information to the Leader of the Liberal Party that the percentage of votes that Mr. Colwell received was 58.38 per cent, not 62 per cent, as his resolution read. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 419

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I still think the honourable member should be mindful.

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

Whereas when the current Minister of Health was in Opposition, he had all the answers with respect to physician recruitment; and

Whereas today's article in The Halifax Chronicle-Herald and The Mail-Star has Dr. Bruce Phillips expressing concern over the shortage of physicians in Truro; and

Whereas Truro is the home town of the Minister of Health;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health use some of the answers he had when he was in Opposition with respect to physician recruitment and apply it to his home town of Truro.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

[Page 1285]

RESOLUTION NO. 420

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

Whereas People First Nova Scotia is an organization for people who are labelled to advocate for themselves; and

Whereas People First Nova Scotia this year celebrated 10 years of history with a conference entitled "Speaking for Ourselves"; and

Whereas People First have launched a black and yellow ribbon campaign to remind the public that many people in institutions have not been safe, and that some have even died, and that liberation from institutionalization is in their words, "a step to freedom";

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature congratulate People First Nova Scotia for the important contribution they make as members of society and citizens of Nova Scotia.

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 Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 421

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

Whereas the Gulf of Maine Institute Without Walls/Canadian Maritimes Millennium Initiative has received $108,000 in funding from the Canadian Millennium Partnership Program; and

[Page 1286]

Whereas this is a wonderful example of school, community partnership wherein the Tusket River Environmental Protection Association and the Southwest Regional School Board have joined forces to promote authentic community-based environmental education; and

Whereas the Canadian Maritimes Millennium Initiative will sponsor the first summer institute for student participants of the Gulf of Maine Institute Without Walls to be held in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations and best wishes to the Canadian Maritimes Millennium Initiative and the Tusket River Environmental Protection Association on their vision of a future where people will respect their environment as a rich, varied, renewable resource.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 422

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, the 20th Century, has been one of the most violent periods in human history; and

Whereas from the world wars in the first half of the century to NATO operations in the second, more than 1.4 million Canadians have volunteered to serve our nation with 116,000 paying the ultimate price; and

Whereas on the 11th day of the 11th month, at the 11th hour, there will be silence from one end of Canada to the other;

[Page 1287]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House observe two minutes of silence on this, the last Remembrance Day of the millennium.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 423

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 Department of Natural Resources will, by legislation, convey the responsibility for mineworkers' safety and inspection to the Department of Labour, as recommended by the Judge Richards inquiry; and

Whereas the Minister of Labour's desire to roll back the hands of time on the issue of workers' safety is known because of his refusal to adopt the recommended General Occupational Safety Regulations; and

Whereas the John Hamm Tory Party's platform on Occupational Health and Safety will direct the issue of workers' safety into the hands of private employers;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Labour fess up as to how his attitude in workers' safety has modified over the past seven years.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[Page 1288]

RESOLUTION NO. 424

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

Whereas the Cole Harbour Midget Comets are a fastball team for young women aged 16 to 19; and

Whereas the Comets have won the provincial championship for the past three years, including most recently in 1999; and

Whereas the Comets will represent Nova Scotia at the national championship in Brandon, Manitoba in 2000;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Cole Harbour Comets and their coaching staff, including Brent Campbell, Bill Appleby and Todd Carr and wish them all the best in the national championship in Brandon.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 425

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

Whereas the growing communities who make up the Timberlea-Prospect constituency are in need of a second ice surface to complement the existing facility at the St. Margaret's Arena; and

Whereas minor hockey teams that make up the TASA organization now have to use facilities in Chester and throughout metro for their practices and games; and

[Page 1289]

Whereas young people must continue to be a top priority because they are our province's future;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister responsible for sport instruct staff to meet with the TASA minor hockey executive, the executive of St. Margaret's Ringette, the St. Margaret's Figure Skating Club, the board of directors of the St. Margaret's Arena and interested area recreation associations to investigate plans for an important second ice surface for the residents of Timberlea-Prospect.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and make a number of interventions going into Supply. I would like today to discuss a number of constituency related issues that have some provincial policy implications that I am sure affect all members in this House and certainly affect all Nova Scotians.

[Page 1290]

Mr. Speaker, over the past number of years in the community of Birch Grove there has been considerable concern raised about the need for a central sewage system in that village. For those who are not familiar, that particular village has approximately 125 homes that are situated on on-site sewage disposal systems. The average size of the lot that that particular on-site sewage disposal system is on is less than one-half acre; in fact, it would average somewhere closer to one-quarter of an acre per lot.

We can see, Mr. Speaker, it is with no surprise that the Department of Health, the Department of the Environment, and the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs jointly concluded that more than 75 per cent of the homes in that particular village had malfunctioning systems. A rather extensive study was done in the early 1990's, if my memory serves me correctly, it was somewhere around 1993-94 that concluded the dire consequences if immediate action was not taken.

We were quite fortunate at that particular point in time to be able to receive the full approbation of the community and indeed the local council which after a number of varied positions and priorities came to the conclusion that Birch Grove would indeed be a number one priority for that regional municipality and we were, again, very fortunate that my colleague, the Housing and Municipal Affairs Minister at that particular point in time, the Honourable Wayne Gaudet, saw fit to come to Birch Grove and within five minutes of being on the site, after turning the sod on a number of lots, quite frankly, they had to leave the site. It was that bad. I do not want to get into too much description but the evidence would speak for itself.

Mr. Speaker, fast-forwarding along, a joint cooperative effort by the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and indeed eventually the federal government in a tri-party agreement contributed somewhere in the vicinity of $1 million, or $1.2 million, I believe. I stand to be corrected on the exact figure. I see the minister watching and I am sure he is aware of the figures.

[3:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the difficulty that we have now is the fact that the main line for this new essential sewage system has been laid and they are in the process of rebuilding the road, paving, and resetting the curb and gutter along the main street of Birch Grove, but the laterals to the side streets where all the malfunctioning systems are for the most part have been put on hold, as I understand, for a lack of money.

I guess it is a plea that I make to this House, and indeed to the respective ministries, not only to the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs, but also to the Department of Transportation and Public Works because it does involve their department to a certain extent.

[Page 1291]

Certainly the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, which we all know is in a very serious cash crunch with some of the difficulties they are facing right now with the strike that is ongoing, is certainly evidence of the financial difficulties and the strains.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to raise this because I believe this particular issue, unfortunately, if one were to amortize or average out the cost per home that it is taking to correct this problem, it is, I am sure, probably one of the highest percentages anywhere in the province. Unfortunately some of these small mining towns that developed over the years never foresaw or envisaged this type of difficulty, but it is a real problem. We are quite fortunate to have a central water system there; barring that, I think this entire village would have to be abandoned altogether.

Mr. Speaker, my plea is to the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs. I understand that the federal government has given consideration to a tri-party agreement in the not-too- distant future years, and if he could use the weight of his office to try to bring closure to this particular project, because the estimated cost was somewhere in the vicinity of $1.75 million to $2 million. Initially it was somewhere in the vicinity of $1.25 million and then, over the extended period of time, over a 10 year to 15 year debate, it seemed to escalate because nothing really was done. For whatever reason, it always seemed that this particular village was pushed to the bottom of the heap.

I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, it certainly wasn't for political gain that I was making the pitch here because, irrespective of what the considerations were on public policy, these people had strong views on their political positions. I think it was always quite favourable to the government, but despite that it is a very serious health concern and I think the minister, if he were to have the opportunity to come to this particular community, would readily agree that there is a major problem there. I know it is not easy, because undoubtedly he has demands from all over the province and some I am sure are just as worthy, but this is one where it bothers me when you see children who can't even play in their own yards; they only have less than one-quarter of an acre for a property, and then not to be able to play on their lawns because of the saturation that has transpired over the years.

Anyone who knows anything about health and safety concerns knows you don't have to go below the sod too far to encounter some very serious health problems. Again, I also have to recognize the efforts of Dr. Patricia Ripley, who was Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs at that time. She only had to look at the file for less than an hour to come to realize that something had to be done immediately. It is unfortunate because they were kind of cast in a roller-coaster position and, because they were such a small community, they didn't have the political voice to support them in their efforts. Again, just like everything else, there are competing factors; things evolve and that is the way it is.

[Page 1292]

Mr. Speaker, it also gives me an opportunity to speak about a number of other issues in and around industrial Cape Breton, particularly in my own constituency. For example, in the historic Town of Louisbourg, we have the Fortress of Louisbourg but in fact that is not in the town, that is adjacent to the town. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the members mind taking their conversations outside the Chamber? Thank you.

MR. MACKINNON: This was the original Town of Louisbourg and it encompasses what was once known as Old Town, and New Town is where, in fact, the present Town of Louisbourg is today. Within the Town of Louisbourg, we were always fortunate to have at least three fish plants in full operation year round. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, that is certainly not the case today. In fact, I think if we were to look at the total payroll for the town, going back eight years or nine years ago, we were looking at somewhere between $8 million and $9 million. Today, because of the downturn of the economy and the situation in the fisheries, I would venture to say that we are looking at somewhere in the vicinity of $3 million a year. So you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out the serious economic and social implications on a small town of 1,200.

Mr. Speaker, this particular town has a lot of potential. National Sea Products several years ago spent over $15 million renovating their fish plant and then two years later they closed it for what they felt were reasons within their corporate planning.There was a lot of effort in the past few years at the provincial level in terms of trying to support Han Beck with the surimi product and a number of other diversifications. To be honest, I am not sure exactly where that stands with the private sector and the provincial Department of Economic Development but it is a very delicate situation.

We also have one other small fisheries operation that employs, at its peak, somewhere in the vicinity of 60 employees at J.K. Fisheries in Louisbourg, Mr. Speaker. This particular operation is a home-grown operation and employs all local people and they really get value for their dollar, but it is like a lot of other small fisheries operations across the province. Bear in mind that in Cape Breton we only represent, at best, 15 per cent of the total fisheries in the province. For those who are not aware, 85 per cent of the fishery in Nova Scotia is in southwestern Nova Scotia.

AN HON. MEMBER: They just come and fish off Cape Breton.

MR. MACKINNON: So that is the reality of the situation. Yes, as my colleague, the member for Richmond has stated, many of the fishermen - or fishers or fisherwomen, I am not sure of the proper politically correct term, but I guess I am from the old school - from other parts of the province, do come to the various sectors off Cape Breton and fish and I am sure that is the case with Cape Breton fishermen moving to other parts of the province.

[Page 1293]

Mr. Speaker, we have a town that needs some assistance. The Minister of Economic Development has suggested that people should come up with some innovative ideas and come to his department and they will look at them. I believe the records will show that there have been some innovative proposals, particularly by one of these fisheries operations in Louisbourg before its department, not the Han Beck project, as we are all so familiar with, but another one, and I think it is inappropriate to name the actual names.

I believe the minister, if he were to come to the Town of Louisbourg and see the magnitude of the impact this particular operation has on the town and the sincerity of the stakeholders because they are not leaving town. They were born and raised there, as were their parents, their grandparents and third and fourth generations. I know that because I have many relatives in and around the Louisbourg area and Main-a-Dieu and Catalone and so on, so I know these people. They are tough, they can be somewhat suspect of politicians because the history is much the same as the history of coal miners with the company store and the government logic. Indeed, that can be paralleled very easily with the fishing community in this particular area.

I realize my time has come to a close, but I guess I wanted to leave that issue with the Minister of Economic Development, the other issue with the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, because they certainly transcend any political boundaries, and I think they would have a long-term positive effect for all Nova Scotians. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to speak and follow up on some comments from my honourable colleague, the member for Cape Breton West. I was interested in hearing him speak on the state of the fisheries in his riding. As you know, Richmond County and Cape Breton West have undergone a similar history in the fishery. As you know, Richmond County, years ago, was home to Richmond Fisheries, which was a subsidiary of Mersey Seafoods, which is still operational in Liverpool. Richmond Fisheries, at one point, employed up to 500 residents, mainly from the Isle Madame area of Richmond County, both men who worked on the draggers and the plant employees themselves. For an island of 4,300 people, 500 jobs, needless to say, touched pretty much every single family on Isle Madame.

Throughout the years, the workforce began to decline with the decreasing level of catches which were coming in and DFO's move towards closing certain fishery sectors. In 1993, DFO officially closed the groundfish fishery, and in essence, wrote the final chapter of the history of Richmond Fisheries. Due to the age of the fish plant, which was well in excess of 40 years old, and due to the technology which was in it, and the fact that there did not seem to be a very good prospect of that fishery reopening and the plant reopening, in 1995, I believe it was, the decision made by the owner was to demolish the plant and to remove all the equipment and all of the infrastructure that there was at that particular site.

[Page 1294]

We went from an industry, and one institution employing 500 people, which today is a parking lot in our community, with only the wharves left because they couldn't be taken away because they are owned by Small Crafts and Harbours. I am sure, had they been able to be taken away, those too would be gone.

One of the saddest parts with that is that a decision made by DFO years ago, the former policy was that quotas belonged to communities, and that these large fish plants could come and go and the quotas would stay. It is unfortunate that the policy was changed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans whereby these quotas were given to the plant operators. When the plant operators (Interruptions) No, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley says, Keith Colwell, I can guarantee you it was not the Liberal Minister of Fisheries who made that decision. It was an Ottawa decision, and unfortunately they decided that these quotas should go with the plant operators, needless to say, after intense lobbying by the powerful plant owners who wanted the ability to take this quota and roam as they wished with that quota.

While the redfish fishery still continues today, whereby the draggers which were built for the plant in Richmond County, in fact, one of those draggers was a state-of-the-art dragger - a lot of government money was given to it to have it fishing out of the community of Petit-de-Grat - continues to fish today out of Liverpool, catching a quota which was once caught and processed in Petit-de-Grat, yet the problem is that there are no employees from Petit-de-Grat benefiting from this.

The community of Richmond has completely lost out. The vessel named the Richmond Odyssey, has absolutely no ties to Richmond County other than the occasional crew member who comes from our county. That is a very sad statement of what fishery policy is, what it has done to rural communities such as Richmond County, and what it has done to communities such as Louisbourg in my colleague's riding of Cape Breton West. It is unfortunate today, as I said, that that plant which once employed 500 people, the nice draggers and the quota that went with it, the plant is now a parking lot, the quota is gone and the boat is gone, more than likely to never return to our community.

[4:00 p.m.]

What I am happy to say, Mr. Speaker, our community in Richmond County and on Isle Madame did not take this lying down. The TAGS program, which was brought in, which we heard vilified throughout most parts of this country, and said it was a Liberal waste, that it did not achieve what it was supposed to achieve and it was simply meant as a welfare-type payment, but I am proud to say that in a study done for the federal government on the success of the TAGS program, Isle Madame, a small island off Richmond County, rated as having the highest success rate for the TAGS program throughout the entire country where it was used.

[Page 1295]

Awards have been given, recognition has been put upon the tenacity of the people of Isle Madame for what they have been able to do. When the TAGS program finally ended, over 65 per cent of the original recipients of that program had found other employment and were no longer receiving any benefits from this program. That is a testament to the tenacity, the ingenuity and the hard work of the people of Isle Madame because they did not take this lying down. They took advantage of the retraining programs, they took advantage of the job sponsorships to find new employment and as a result of that, today Isle Madame is not a ghost town, it is a thriving community; I am quite pleased and honoured to be a member of that community and to be able to stand here and sing praises upon their accomplishments.

A few of the main groups involved in the success with the TAGS program was Development Isle Madame which was formed shortly before the collapse of the fishery crisis and formed out of a need to try to assist the fishermen and the fishery workers who were affected by the closure and who were left, many of them, with little education, most of them had left school to go work in the fishery and had no experiences outside. It was quite a challenge because you are taking people who essentially have a punch-clock mentality in that they come in the morning, they punch the clock, they leave at night and they punch the clock again and that is their only attachment to their workforce.

The problem with that and with development and trying to encourage people to take training, it is having to build up their self-confidence and allowing them to be independent and to think for themselves and to take care of their own affairs and get rid of this punch-clock mentality. When one visits the beautiful community of Isle Madame, and even throughout Richmond County, the amount of small businesses and private entrepreneurs that have emerged is shocking and pleasantly surprising - from photography studios, to wedding shops, to corner stores, to an arts manufacturing business. We have seen numerous success stories coming out of our community.

I look at the community of Louisbourg in the riding of my colleague, the member for Cape Breton West and the challenges that they are being faced with at the end of the TAGS program. I remember when my colleague and I had gone to Ottawa to discuss the end of the TAGS program with our federal counterpart in Human Resources Development Canada.

My colleague was accompanied by one of his local councillors, Danny Hanson, who represented the Louisbourg area. I remember Danny said to me, you guys are lucky down in Petit-de-Grat. He took me by surprise and I said, what do you mean we are lucky in Petit-de-Grat? He said, you are lucky because they demolished your fish plant and it is just a parking lot now and it is all gone. I looked at him and I said, how do you justify saying that we are lucky that this one enterprise which employed up to 500 people in our community and is now a parking lot, how can you justify that that is luck?" He said when I look at your community and I look at my community, it shows the fundamental difference in mindset because in your community the people could not sit back and say the fishery is going to come back because there was no plant to look at. It was a parking lot. It was gone. Your people had an

[Page 1296]

opportunity to realize that they could not sit back and not take the training or take the opportunities that were out there. They had to do something because there was not a fishery coming back to your community.

He said, on the other hand in my community, National Sea has this great big, shiny plant sitting there and the problem with the TAGS program, when we tried to encourage people to take the training and take new job opportunities, is that when they would look outside their window, they would say, no, look, we have this new, shiny plant, something is going to come back here, they are not going to just abandon this plant and leave it as it is, so we are just going to wait.

Unfortunately, many communities throughout Nova Scotia, throughout Newfoundland, throughout Quebec and New Brunswick, had that same mentality, that the fishery was going to come back and, unfortunately, the TAGS program didn't achieve as much success in those parts because of the fact that there still was that lingering feeling that the fishery will come back.

It has been a challenge for all of us, but I am quite pleased at the success that has been achieved in the community on top of that because, now, we have a very strong Inshore Fishermen's Association in Richmond County, which is now headed by President Ervin Touesnard, a good friend and a leader for the fishermen in our county. What they have been able to do is successfully lobby Ottawa and DFO to have more permits given - crab permits, specifically - at this point, to Richmond County. Unfortunately, Richmond County does not enjoy the same lucrative lobster fishery as what is enjoyed in southwestern Nova Scotia. In fact, on the opening of the fishery in southwestern Nova Scotia, the catches which are achieved on the first day - which are anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 pounds - represent more than what our lobster fishermen catch in two months. Therefore, certainly, the lobster fishery no longer has the economic impact on our community that it once had. Crab has proven to be a pleasant surprise in its abundance and in its lucrativeness for our area.

The Inshore Fishermen's Association this summer successfully lobbied DFO to have a community quota, whereby what they would do was the association would receive a quota and they would fish it with so many vessels and then they would divide up the profits amongst all of its membership. Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you that it has not always been easy to bring fishermen together and to have fishermen agree to work together because it has been an industry where it has been based on competition and on survival. I want to applaud the fishermen and the fishery workers and the leadership in our county for bringing them together to work together. This year they have, I believe it was, 220,000 pounds which was allocated to their association. I believe, at the end, each member received a cheque in the range of $4,000 to $6,000 each, as a result of this quota.

[Page 1297]

Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I want to commend DFO. It is not often that I do want to commend DFO, but, certainly, this was an important step. I think it sets an example for communities such as Louisbourg and Glace Bay which I believe are pursuing quotas of this nature. My colleague for Cape Breton East, I know, is now pursuing this with the provincial minister for his support and the federal Minister of Fisheries for them to have more of a crab allocation. Canso is another community which can benefit from this. But there is a lot of work that remains to be done and DFO is still lagging behind on the progress that could be made in the fisheries.

Again, I bring up the issue of the shrimp fishery, and my colleague talked about the small part that Cape Breton actually plays in the entire Nova Scotia fishery. One of the sad parts is with communities such as Isle Madame and the crisis that they have taken with the loss of their fish plant and the downfall of the lobster fishery. The New Brunswick fleet and the southwestern Nova Scotia fleet are basically catching their entire shrimp quota simply miles off the coast of Richmond County and Cape Breton County, while the fishermen in both counties on Cape Breton, both Richmond and Cape Breton, I believe, make up less than 5 per cent of the total catch. That is a sad statement. Only DFO would allow such an injustice to continue.

In Newfoundland, when it came to the northern shrimp fishery and it came time to decide who was going to have a part, Richmond County applied, I believe Louisbourg applied, Canso applied and several other areas applied to try to get a piece of that northern shrimp. But, and I am sure it is a testament to the leadership of the Premier for Newfoundland, the Honourable Brian Tobin, when DFO made their decision, they said, whoa. No one gets northern shrimp except Newfoundlanders. So our northern shrimp actually goes on the strait between Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec.

Only Newfoundlanders are allowed to fish that fishery and that is a shame because if that is good enough for Newfoundland, why is it not good enough for Richmond County? Why is it not good enough for Cape Breton County and why are there still millions of pounds of shrimp being caught off our coast by New Brunswick and by southwestern Nova Scotia, yet Louisbourg is a community sitting there with a fish plant with nothing to process, a workforce with nothing to process, fishermen with nothing to catch and Richmond County is the same thing? While DFO has made some very small steps at giving out quotas, the last time that there was an increase, they increased the total amount for the fleet and didn't allow anyone else in.

I would encourage the Premier and I would encourage the Minister of Fisheries here in the province to continue to make representations because I know my colleague, the former minister, Keith Colwell, was a very strong advocate for quotas for our areas. I would hope that the Premier, the next time he is in Ottawa, and his Minister of Fisheries will make those representations so that we can have some fairness and justice for the fishery here in Nova Scotia. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 1298]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak this afternoon on behalf of our veteran community in Nova Scotia and across this great country, Canada. I want to say for today, at least, I am very proud of the Nova Scotia Legislature in that this Legislature supported two resolutions in support of our veteran community. Our veteran population is dwindling and I don't think anybody disputes that our veterans provided us today with the peace, the freedom and democracy that we enjoy as Canadians.

We have a profound concern up in the Colchester County area, Mr. Speaker. I was approached by some individuals who were speaking in support of the North Nova Highlanders. The North Nova Highlanders, or the North Novies as they are known, was an infantry division and they sustained serious injury and much death during the world wars. Unfortunately, we only have five beds for our veterans at the wing at the Colchester Regional Hospital and on behalf of the veteran community, and supported by this Legislature, I sent a missive off to the Honourable George Baker in hopes that he would increase the number of beds at the Colchester Regional Hospital.

You know it is a shame that our dwindling population of veterans have to rely on friends and family members to provide for their health needs when, in fact, Ottawa is responsible and I am hoping that the minister, and perhaps if it gets to the Veterans Affairs Committee, if that is appropriate, will support a request.

Tomorrow, the House of Commons Committee on Veterans Affairs is going to discuss the continuing issue of extending benefits to our merchant marines. Now, Mr. Speaker, I know when you were chairing the Nova Scotia Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs last year your all-Party committee supported the merchant marines in their quest for compensation and I was pleased again today that this Legislature supported a resolution unanimously to encourage the minister, the Honourable George Baker, and the House of Commons Veterans Affairs Committee to finally do the right thing and extend a benefit package to our merchant marines. I know the honourable Member of Parliament for Saint John, New Brunswick, the honourable Elsie Wayne, has been working very hard and diligently on behalf of the merchant mariners.

Mr. Speaker, you know that that population, too, like all veterans, is getting smaller and smaller as the days go by. So, I hope especially in this International Year of Older Persons, that we do the right thing and let those people live the rest of their lives in dignity and hopefully they will receive the respect that they deserve.

Mr. Speaker, I want to briefly refer to our platform, our blue book, which is promoted almost on a daily basis by the honourable member for Dartmouth North. I do want to point out that we are committed, on behalf of our senior population, to removing the grandfather clause imposed on the property tax rebate program which unfairly treats some seniors

[Page 1299]

differently, if you will, than others. I should remind the honourable members opposite that it was the Savage Regime that came in in May 1993 and said that any new senior - and that sounds like an oxymoron - but any senior who reached their 65th birthday after May 1993 wasn't eligible for the property tax rebate.

[4:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that this government is going to do the right thing and provide fairness and some equity back into that program. The Honourable Peter Christie, the Minister of Community Services, has assured me that our government is going to follow through with that commitment, as we are with every commitment that we made. It is nice to talk the talk, but it is also very much more effective and substantive to walk the walk. So I am very pleased to see this government give serious consideration to treating seniors fairly across this province.

I probably only have a few minutes and, if I could, I would like to share the remainder of my time with my honourable colleague, the member for Kings North. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on my colleague's comments about the International Year of Older Persons, which is this year the resolution by the United Nations. I had the privilege on Saturday of being part of a very special conference at Acadia University on this theme. There were various workshops that were presented throughout the day. I was asked to do one on ethical wills. Now I really didn't know what an ethical will was, which is sort of interesting. I did some research. It is an interesting concept, actually, because I had confused it originally with living wills, but an ethical will is a document that you write, and you can revise over time, where you pass on not your possessions, but actually your values, the life lessons that you have learned.

One of the lessons I may put down, Mr. Speaker, for my children is to never run as a politician. (Laughter) At least don't sit on the government because in the Opposition you can yap on, but in the government you have to be responsible. (Applause)

When you think about it, it really is sort of odd that we spend all this time deciding how we will get rid of our physical possessions and we don't spend the important time passing on the important values that are beyond money to our children, so that is the workshop that I had to do. It was a fascinating conference. Don Wells was there. He was the former President of Mount Allison University, went on to the University of Regina and is now retired to the lovely riding of Kings North, next to the honourable member from the beautiful valley of - what's that Brooke? - Musquodoboit. Kings North has to be the nicest. At the University of Regina, they set up a seniors' program in conjunction with the university in that City of Regina which

[Page 1300]

has, he said, only about 150,000, much less than the Halifax-Dartmouth area and they had 4,000 people involved in this program.

So, the announcement has been made in conjunction with Acadia University that there will be a seniors' program at Acadia University, and the hopes that this will take off and cover many areas of interest to seniors, not only courses that they can take, but travel programs that they can do together. Many different things were covered and hope to be covered in this seniors' centre at Acadia University.

What I was most impressed with, Mr. Speaker, was the energy, the enthusiasm, the talent, the expertise that these seniors had and their willingness to continue to use that expertise, to continue to use that talent and to use slightly the extra time they had for the good of the greater community. It was a fascinating conference and I only had a very small part in it, but it impressed upon me the needs of our seniors and the talents they have and the ways they can be of use still to society and the ways they want to be of use to society. So I think we should congratulate Acadia University - this was sponsored by VON, the Victorian Order of Nurses, and by Brenda Allen, who is a very active person and staff worker - in a well-done conference. It impressed upon me the absolute essential importance in our society of using the talents and abilities of our seniors.

Now I could go on and on about this program, if you want to hear anything more about ethical wills, or if you want me to continue. I am just not terribly sure how much time I have left, Mr. Speaker, because I have been sharing it with my colleague.

MR. SPEAKER: Five minutes.

MR. PARENT: Five minutes, okay.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is your lucky day.

MR. PARENT: It is my lucky day to talk on about ethical wills. As I said before, ethical wills are a tradition that really date from the Jewish tradition. In the Jewish tradition you can find hints of it in the Hebrew Scriptures. In the Jewish tradition, particularly in the Medieval Ages, ethical wills became quite popular. They were documents that were drafted - I have a few examples of them that I could read to you if you are at all interested in them. One is a father's admonition to his son. It comes out of France, from about 1160 AD. He felt his son was obviously a little lazy and so in his will to his son he passed on to him his admonition for the son to occupy himself and be busy. He says in this particular will; stay not your hand when I have left you my son but devote yourself to the study of the Torah and to the science of medicine, but chiefly occupy yourself with the Torah for you have a wise and understanding heart and all that is needful on your part is ambition and application. I know that you will repent of the past, as many before you have repented of their youthful indolence.

[Page 1301]

These sorts of things became very popular but for quite a while they fell into disfavour and really into disuse after the Middle Ages. It is only recently, particularly in the Jewish community, they have become popular again. There is a very interesting website which tries to promote the writing of these ethical wills, particularly for seniors who are at that stage in their life where they have accumulated a fair amount of wisdom and where they want to share it with others, and hopefully will share it with others.

Here is one, for example, of a woman who wasn't a senior but she was dying from cancer. In her 40's and on her deathbed, she wrote to her children. She told them of her regrets, having stayed in a dead-end job simply to make money and how she wished her children wouldn't do that in the future but that they would follow their dreams. She talked about not getting discouraged and her pride in both of them. I think these ethical wills are very important and probably we should be encouraging people to think of those values and those experiences they have built-up over time as an important commodity to pass on.

Now a lot of this happens naturally. One of the seniors at this workshop that I gave shared how every Christmas one of the customs they have in their family is to sit around the Christmas tree and share a present, not a physical present but a present of some lesson they have learned that is of value to them, with the other members of the extended family. So some of this is going on already.

My mother, for example, I have asked her - because I know so little about her younger years - to write a history of growing up and what she learned as a child in the Town of Amherst, so I can learn it and pass it on to my children. It really is an important thing that we should be involved in. I think the seniors in the workshop were quite interested in learning about this new and the old sort of practice of writing an ethical will.

The workshops were varied. One of the most sought after workshops was how to use the Internet and how to be involved in this new world of communication. The seniors were eager to learn this new information. Many of them, in fact, have been using the Internet and are more familiar with the Internet than many of us are. To others, of course, this was a new tool and they flocked to this workshop to learn how to do it.

There were about 30 workshops in total and I would say there were about 100 to 200 seniors who are active in this. So the energy, the enthusiasm, the experience, our society unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, doesn't value seniors the way it should. We tend to have this sort of idea that you have this work and then, once you retire, you toodle around your garden and you have nothing more to contribute to society. I think the honourable member for Hants West is an example of how people who are seniors have an enormous amount to contribute to our society. Through this seniors' program at Acadia University, I think that much of that energy will be unleashed. They hope to be involved in distance education as well. Initially their focus is going to be on using their talents and the opportunities for seniors in Kings County but, through the Internet and through distance education, they hope to be able to

[Page 1302]

make the services available to all the citizens throughout the Province of Nova Scotia. It is a tremendously exciting opportunity that is taking place at Acadia. I wasn't really aware of it, but through the opportunity of giving a workshop on ethical wills, I had the chance to do so.

Mr. Speaker, how much time do I have left, I don't want to overuse my time. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has about 15 seconds.

MR. PARENT: Thank you very much for this chance to speak of this important centre and the work of seniors in this International Year of Seniors. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I would just remind the honourable member that any documents he referred to during his speech, to table, please.

The motion is carried.

[4:26 p.m. the House resolved itself into CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[8:27 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 1303]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 7.

Bill No. 7 - Financial Measures (1999) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise tonight to move Bill No. 7 for second reading. I want to just give a quick overview of the Financial Measures (1999) Act, especially for the new members of the House.

This is an omnibus bill. It amends a number of other Acts. It comes up each year in regard to the budget and it creates whatever legislation is required to back up the budget instrument itself. This year we have a number of minor housekeeping amendments and these are basically to make sure that our tax laws are clear and that they are also in line with those of Ottawa. We also have a number of significant issues relating to balanced budgets.

I would like to say, first of all, it is my regret that we have to suspend the requirement for a balanced budget, but I would note that the previous government planned to do something similar. They had to because they could not bring forward a balanced budget last spring, Mr. Speaker. As we have not had the time to significantly alter the spending pattern set in the past, we must also amend this Act, but I want to make the point that our amendment and the new legislation that we will bring forward in the spring has a mandate from the people of this province.

Mr. Speaker, we told them that the budget would not be balanced until the third year of our mandate. We will keep that promise, but in the meantime we will eliminate the charade of a balanced budget and suspend the law. Make no mistake about it, there will be new legislation in the spring but we want to make sure that the legislation we bring in is done carefully and properly so it will not have to be suspended again. Our fiscal task force is expected to give us some advice in this area and that will help us make sure that we get it right.

In a similar vein, I would note that the current legislation, the Provincial Finance Act, requires the Minister of Finance to pay into the public debt retirement fund at least one-half of the net gas royalties received in a fiscal year. This legislation was enacted in anticipation of balanced surpluses. The principle of this was great. The practice makes no sense until you have a real cash surplus for the province and we do not. We will be looking at a long-term debt reduction plan, one that actually sees the debt of this province going down, but until we are ready to announce it, saying that we are somehow reducing debt with Sable royalties is just not right, Mr. Speaker. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles requires us to pull everything together. When you do that, it is just confusing to say that the debt is going down here due to Sable when, in fact, it is going up somewhere else because the deficit is larger.

[Page 1304]

[8:30 p.m.]

This amendment before the House today will have the effect of ensuring all revenues of the province are taken into account in determining whether there is a surplus which can be used to make payments against the debt. This process is in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. The government's mandate commitments provide that where a surplus is achieved, one-third of the surplus will be applied to the debt.

Mr. Speaker, this concludes my remarks at this time. I will listen closely to the remarks of the members opposite and if they raise some questions during debate I hope I will have an opportunity to answer them before the bill goes off to the Law Amendments Committee.

Before I finish my notes, I agree to take a question from the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid on a question.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, before the minister concludes his remarks, I am just wondering in Clause 2, Section 14 of the bill it says, "Notwithstanding Section 11, this Part . . .", I am wondering if the minister can indicate if this part refers to Part II of the Expenditure Control Act, under which Part II applies? So that would sound like it implies to all of Section 2. Is that correct?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I beg the indulgence of the member. He started quoting that part of the bill before I had it open. If he could just be so kind as to repeat the question.

MR. HOLM: The way the bill reads, it says that Clause 2, Section 14, "Notwithstanding Section 11, this Part does not apply . . .", and it goes on to 1998-99, 1999-2000. That would mean that Sections 11, 12 and 13 because this becomes a new 14 and they would all be part of that Part II. Is that correct?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, although I have been briefed on this and I also had the briefing notice on this before tabling the bill, to be candid, I want to make absolutely sure that I am answering him properly. I don't have the other Act in front of me, but during the debates into the bill, I will have a chance to research that. Obviously, this is going to be going to the Law Amendments Committee and if there are any technical areas in the bill, we are more than willing to correct it. I do appreciate the question, however, if you would have told me before, perhaps I would have had the other bill in front of me. It is a valid question, however, like I said, I am not prepared at this point to answer it, but if there are any parts of it that require some adjustment, I would be more than prepared to do so in the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you.

[Page 1305]

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to stand to speak this evening for a few minutes, and I don't mean, necessarily, my few few minutes which, when I sometimes preface a remark, that may mean that I am going to go for one hour. The minister's comments in response to my question causes me grave concern.

Mr. Speaker, I am not a legal person myself. I am not, as the saying goes, learned in the law. I do not have a law degree like some other members of this House and others around. Thank Heavens there are those who have the legal minds and can draw certain things to our attention, things that, quite honestly, would sometimes go sailing past us. I asked this question for a very good reason because I think the minister, by this legislation, the way that it is written here, is, in fact, unless it is amended, breaking the law.

Mr. Speaker, we also have before us on the floor for consideration, two resolutions. The two resolutions that are before us are resolutions authorizing over-expenditures that occurred in previous years. Legislation requires and my colleague, hopefully, will speak to this far more articulately then I later on, and will refer to a Supreme Court ruling in which the Supreme Court itself ruled that this, not meaning necessarily this one, but the elected House, in the case of Nova Scotia, the Legislature of Nova Scotia, is the final authorization for the expenditure of public monies.

Now the minister, in tabling this bill, has said, and this is an important principle, and I know we are talking about the principle of a bill, but by the minister's own admission, what we have here is a bill that amends a number of pieces of legislation, so therefore, a number of clauses have principles. I want the minister to listen carefully to what he has introduced. And it says, "Notwithstanding Section 11, this Part . . . ", Section 11 is part of Part II of the Expenditure Control Act. It doesn't say that Section 11 doesn't apply, it doesn't say that Section 12 doesn't apply. It says the whole part does not apply, that whole section of the bill, " . . . does not apply to the 1998-1999 and the 1999-2000 fiscal years of the Province.".

The minister talked briefly about what Sections 11 and 12 do, and I will come back to that in a few minutes. Section 13 is also a piece of that part that doesn't apply. What Section 13 says is this, "Where net capital expenditures and net program operating expenditures for a fiscal year exceed the amount authorized to be spent pursuant to Section 12, the expenditures in excess of the amount authorized by subsections 12(1) and (2) may only be made after a resolution has been passed by the House of Assembly authorizing the expenditure.".

I am not learned in the law. I have not studied and gotten my degree. I am not a tax lawyer. I am not any kind of a lawyer. I am somebody who just simply listened to some very quick advice, as I see the minister now looking at the legislation with the help of the Government House Leader. Maybe through this discussion, these two experienced non-

[Page 1306]

learned-in-the-law individuals will come before, and maybe when the minister wraps up his debate, we will already have a commitment from the government that an amendment will be coming forward in the Law Amendments Committee process, because (Interruptions) He doesn't agree.

Then maybe we will have to have some more discussion about it. Because right now, if we exceed the expenditure amounts, do you know Mr. Minister, that you have two resolutions that the former government did not pass. What this legislation is saying is that if your government overexpends, it would also not have to bring forward a resolution before this House, because you are saying that does not apply; that Section 13 is a piece of the part that you say does not apply.

I don't know. I think that the minister is not intending to do that. I don't know that that is what the minister is intending, because the minister is trying to turn over a new leaf. The minister is trying to have proper accounting practices, which we in our caucus have been calling for for years. Do you know how long - well, Mr. Minister, let's just put it this way, you weren't in this House. I don't know, Mr. Minister, when you thought about running for this House, because when we started pushing for this, you were still gainfully employed running a school, I believe, that has since closed down. It was a teachers college, I believe. So that may give the Minister of Health some indication of how far back it has been that New Democrats have been calling for proper accounting practices.

Mr. Speaker, we have seen situations - and it is across the country - when the former government introduced legislation calling for balanced budgets and saying you have to have balanced budgets by this year and you have to x, y and z. If you overexpend one year, well then you are going to have to make it up within this certain kind of time-frame. That reminds me of some debates that we used to have on the floor of the House when the blue machine was occupying the government benches back in the 1980s.

You know we used to have legislation, the Municipal Grants Act and the Municipal Grants Act started off by saying in the fiscal year such and such, the amount of the grant to municipalities shall be x. Then the following year, you would get another, and it was supposed to increase by - I think it was, how did it go now, this is past history - an amount equal to the per cent of the growth in revenues for the province. So the municipalities were supposed to get their share. As the revenues of the province increased, by that same percentage the province's revenues increased, and so too were the grants to the municipalities supposed to increase.

So that was the initial legislation. Then in year two you would get another Act that would come in and it would say, notwithstanding clause such and such of the Acts of such and such, the amount shall be, and it would give a new figure. Then, of course, Mr. Speaker, the year afterwards you would have another piece of legislation which would say notwithstanding the amendment of last year, the amount shall be so and so. It was a very easy

[Page 1307]

speech to give in this House because all I had to do after I did the initial math and saw how the municipalities had been shorted, all I ever had to do was to recalculate the amount from one year to the next, add that amount on and I had my hour discussion without any difficulty whatsoever.

You know, Mr. Speaker, what we have here is one more of those notwithstanding clauses. You know, we said all along that none of the budgets of the so-called three balanced budgets of the former Liberal Government was balanced. We knew that; you knew that. You knew that when you were over here. You even knew that when you voted for the one. You knew it wasn't balanced. We all could see the shell game. We could all see the charade that was being played but you know they had a provision that supposedly said they had to be balanced.

The reality is, you can come out and you can say anything you want in terms of a principle for political points at a particular time, like we are bringing in balanced budget legislation, but any piece of legislation like that can be amended very simply by bringing in, the following year, notwithstanding our good intentions politically last year, this year it shall be such and such.

It is like the Tory campaign commitments. What was it? Year three there was supposed to be a balanced budget. Year three, but you know by saying that year three was supposed to be a balanced budget, what they didn't tell us - well, actually they did, but they forgot about this - initially, Mr. Speaker, it was supposed to be in three calendar years and it was supposed to be balanced in 2001-02. That was what the blue book said; that was what the speeches said. Now we have a notwithstanding clause in their commitments of the Minister of Finance and the notwithstanding clause of the Minister of Finance and the Premier, notwithstanding what we said in the election, we have amended that and we have decided that the fiscal year 1999-2000 doesn't count and we start counting our three years a year after we assumed office.

[8:45 p.m.]

Supposedly, this is the Liberal budget that is before the House, Mr. Speaker, not the Tory budget. This is the one that we voted down. So it is going to be very interesting when the vote does come on that one to see how the government members vote on this. Now, the new members might be able to vote for it in good conscience because it is your first budget but the members on the front benches and a few in the backbenches who were members of the Opposition Party over here, they voted against this budget, so it is going to be interesting to see how they vote this time. However, they have brought in their notwithstanding clause.

What this legislation does, Mr. Speaker, is bring in a notwithstanding clause. It says, despite the so-called good, political intentions before, we don't have to have the balanced budget. That's fine, right now. Let's be realistic. The budgets aren't balanced, they can't be

[Page 1308]

balanced and the process that is in Section 12 cannot apply. I am not disputing that for one second, and quite truthfully, for the last number of years they didn't apply either. They didn't and I am not pretending they did.

Surely to heavens, in coming up with and stating the obvious and doing the obvious, you cannot at the same time throw away the legal requirement that this House - and you have the numbers and you can carry it; let's face it, 30 out-votes 22 any day of the week. I am not a mathematician either, Mr. Speaker, I am not only not learned in the law but I am not a mathematician - but you know, (Interruptions) Yes, they may not have a quorum when it comes to the vote on these things but I somehow think that the Whip will make sure they are here or else the Government House Leader will be speaking to that Whip rather sternly.

The reality is, whether it is going to carry or not - and it is an extremely important principle and I would suggest it is an extremely important principle in law, as those who are learned would argue, even constitutional - that we in here have to authorize any expenditure of public monies. This clause, the way this is written, by saying this part doesn't apply for these years, what you are saying is that the government will not be required to bring in special resolutions for overexpenditures during these years.

Now, I don't think. Mr. Speaker - at least I am not going to attribute to the Minister of Finance that those are his wishes - I don't think that his friends in the big businesses would approve of that kind of practice either because they also have to report to their shareholders. So I am hoping that when the minister finishes that the minister will make a commitment - and it is not very difficult - all he would have to do is say that, notwithstanding and that is in Part I of this bill, notwithstanding Part II of the Expenditure Control Act, Sections 11 and 12 shall not apply for the years 1998-99 and 1999-2000 fiscal years within the province.

Now, I am not as, I have said before, a legal eagle, I am not a craftsman, but I think the minister understands the intention. I am sure that legislative counsel can address that and make it clear, but surely if this minister is truly trying to extend an olive branch to the people of Nova Scotia, he will make it clear that he will not try to trample upon the law and the constitutionality of what is going to go on.

The other point, Mr. Speaker - and I think that my Leader wants to take part in the debate and he is anxious that I make room for him on the floor and give him some time tonight. The other section has to do with the Provincial Finance Act, or Part IV. Unless you look at the legislation and the Explanatory Notes you would not necessarily know what it is referring to do. That has to do, of course, with - some call them the big, others call them the very modest royalties, compared to the value of the resource that is being brought in from our offshore, the Sable gas royalties, which certainly in the first number of years, at a rate of 1 per cent, are as modest and as generous to the big oil companies as we could possibly get. Of course we could have paid them to take it, which we almost did, in terms of royalties.

[Page 1309]

What this is saying is that those monies, of course, will not be used to pay down the debt. Those monies, of course, were supposed to be the profits, those royalties were going to be used, I believe, to pay down the $600 million Health Investment Fund. Let's face it, let's be realistic, you can call something whatever you want. We have expenditures in the Province of Nova Scotia, . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: That's what John Buchanan used to do.

MR. HOLM: Yes, well John Buchanan, I think John Buchanan - Senator Buchanan, let's be respectful - spent the royalties that we were going to make from our offshore, about 15 years ago, and he spent them four or five different ways. That is how it was that when this bunch left office we had a debt of over $6 billion, but that was the on-book debt. We don't know what all of the combined off-book debts were. We know that the off-book debt for Nova Scotia Resources Limited was, I think, if my memory serves me correctly, it was about $435 million, around 1993. It was in that vicinity, Mr. Speaker. So it has gone up under the red team but even the red team certainly inherited a huge debt from the blue team. So of course, Mr. Speaker (Interruptions) That's true. I am being told that the decisions, of course, are made in the bunker and that is one thing that hasn't changed, the bunker, and that is very serious.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the honourable member that we are speaking to the principle of this bill.

MR. HOLM: Yes, I am.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR. HOLM: An important principle it is, that is the secrecy of where and how these decisions are being made, this legislation, this budget, decisions on whether or not they will or they won't introduce an added expenditure resolution, those will be made downstairs, Mr. Speaker, in that room which has the blue curtains around it, in terms of secrecy, down in the bunker of the Cabinet Chambers.

Mr. Speaker, we can say that all of the monies, or 50 per cent of the monies from those royalties should be going into the Public Debt Retirement Fund. You can say that, or you can say that that money is going into the public Treasury and out of the public Treasury other monies are being spent into the Public Debt Retirement Fund. The reality is, until this government finally starts to do a few things right, until this government actually does start to grow the economy of this province - and let me tell you, there is tremendous wealth in our offshore, as well as on our onshore. If a government of this province, ever starts to get what is truly owing to the people of this province in the way of a fair return from our resources in the oil and gas industry. Then, there will be plenty of monies to not only put into that debt

[Page 1310]

retirement fund, but there will also be plenty of funds available to provide the essential programs and services that Nova Scotians need.

Mr. Speaker, this provision about saying that 50 per cent has to go for this, is absolutely meaningless because this year our share should be in the range of about $2 million. We can say that we are going to put $2 million into the debt retirement fund. We can say it comes out of the gas royalties. We can say it comes out of the royalties or the taxes that are collected on motor vehicle fuels. We can say it comes from anything. (Interruption)

Charities, yes, indeed, they have retired the debt fund by about the same amount. Yes, in fact, the amount of money that they are taking from charities is about equal to what we are going to get in royalties after the federal government takes their 70 per cent amount from the equalization. It will just about equal out.

Mr. Speaker, that provision in the Provincial Finance Act is really meaningless. The key is let's stop playing games. Let's stop playing game. Let's look truthfully at the finances of this province. How can we grow the economy in this province and put people back to work in meaningful jobs? I say meaningful not because the work that anybody does is not a meaningful piece of work, I am saying meaningful in the sense that they are paying a decent wage so that individuals and families can be supported. A meaningful income, one which is sufficient, not at a minimum wage that is going to increase by 10 cents an hour. You work for a week and after taxes, you get enough to get a muffin and a coffee at Tim Horton's out of your raise, a great increase, while at the same time those who have the most are given more.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that there are others who will want to speak on this. I am sure that they are far more learned in the law than I on these measures. Certainly, the other clauses are, as far as I can tell from looking at those, provisions that are basically just bringing into line the federal and the provincial Acts in terms of income tax. There is another important one in here as well and that is extending, for example, the tax credit for the film industry. That is the kind of measure, and I assume it is only being extended for a year because all programs are under review, but that is a provision that has brought meaningful work and employment around this province.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who brought that in?

MR. HOLM: That was brought in by the former government and that was right and we supported it, as did the Progressive Conservatives at that time. We now have sound stages in numerous parts of the province and we have films, movies and television programs being filmed in many parts of the province and a lot of spin-off benefits from that. I just hope by the extension of that only for a period of one year you are not sending a signal to the industry that they cannot do any long-term planning for productions here in Nova Scotia. Many of those who are producing these movies, and they are expensive propositions, provide a lot of

[Page 1311]

employment to not only the talented actors and actresses in this province and all those who provide the services, but also to many other support services as well. (Interruption) The minister says it is a $100 million industry and that is not chicken feed by any stretch of the imagination.

Certainly, I hope the government by their timidity of only extending it for one year is not sending a signal to the industry that they should not think about their planning for two or three years down the road to come to Nova Scotia. We do know that for a lot of these productions the preparation and the planning takes many years for that production to come forward.

[9:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the other things, as I say, are basically amendments that bring our legislation in line, in the tax system, with that of the federal Act. Although I have had a little bit of levity occasionally tonight in my remarks, it is what you call sleep deprivation-induced, I guess, Mr. Speaker. Although we are catching up to the kindness that the Government House Leader imposed on us last week, after a certain hour at night you sometimes don't think as clearly as you do a little bit earlier in the day; not that I ever claimed to think clearly. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I thank the government members and the members of the Liberal Party who said that they didn't notice any difference, that I am every bit as articulate at this time in the evening as I was earlier in the day. But as a very serious point in closing, the section dealing with the debt retirement fund, that was meaningless in the old legislation. Let's just lay the cards on the table. Let's see what things are. Let's see what the finances are. We don't need to pretend that it comes out of this pocket or out of that pocket. Taxpayers know, it doesn't make any difference which pocket you take the money out of, the money comes out of theirs. So let's just eliminate that charade.

The second thing, and most importantly, Mr. Speaker, the points that I was raising with the Minister of Finance at the beginning, I sincerely hope that was not the intention of the minister so I would like the minister to indicate that he will either himself introduce amendments to correct the problems with the bill or that he will be very supportive of amendments coming forward from our caucus to correct the legislation because I know he would not want a bill to pass that was as flawed as some of those that he would have argued strenuously against, had they been introduced by his predecessors who occupied those government benches. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 1312]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, it is always a joy to hear any speech from my colleague, the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid. (Interruption) Well, it is particularly a joy to hear a layman understand, to grasp immediately the essence of a legal point. Legal points can be obscure but it seems to me in this case that the honourable member has grasped the essence of it immediately and expressed it clearly. I do intend, just for the record, to go on to nail it down a little bit more in technical terms. Before I do so, though, I want to say that I don't think we can go on this way. I don't know that we on this side can continue to do the legal thinking for the Department of Finance in our spare time. Surely someone must have had a look at this clause and thought about it.

Now, here is the problem, Mr. Speaker, with this aspect of the bill. Indeed it should have been fresh in the mind of the Department of Finance since the only other bill that the department has sponsored so far this year was Bill No. 2, that indeed dealt with the very legal authority, the very Supreme Court of Canada decision that has bearing on this matter. That is to say, when the minister brought before us Bill No. 2 to correct the problems with the Probate Act and the Costs and Fees Act, it was because of the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada last year in re Eurig's estate. Now in re Eurig's estate . . .

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, it wasn't the Minister of Finance who introduced that bill, it was the Minister of Justice, just to clarify this.

MR. EPSTEIN: I think, indeed, that is quite correct. At the same time, of course, it had a direct bearing on the finances of the province, I am sure the department would have been paying attention to it and I hope the Department of Justice would have been paying attention to it.

Now here is the problem. The problem is that we have in place provisions in the Expenditure Control Act that talk now about the principle that is a constitutional law principle. The principle is that there should be no expenditure without the authorization of the Legislature. The reason that there are such provisions in the law is that this is mandated by the Canadian Constitution. Now the constitution has been interpreted on these points for us by the Supreme Court of Canada. The relevant sections are Sections 53 and 54 and Section 90 of the Constitution Act. Section 53 says as follows, "Bills for appropriating any Part of the Public Revenue, or for imposing any Tax or Impost, shall originate in the House of Commons.". Now it is obvious, Mr. Speaker, that the reference there is to the House of Commons and you would think that this would apply only to the Parliament of Canada. It does not.

Section 90 of the Constitution Act makes it clear that those sections, that is to say Section 53 and there is another, Section 54 of the Constitution Act, apply equally to the provincial Legislatures with whatever changes are necessary to understand them. What that

[Page 1313]

means is that where it talks about the House of Commons, the equivalent provision is for the Legislature of a province. Again you could go back to Section 53 and say, well, it talks about bills for appropriating the revenue or for imposing a tax, and you could think that on the face of it that doesn't have to do with the problem of money being granted and it only has to do with taxes, but you know, reading the constitutional document is not the same as reading a contract.

When you read a contract, you expect everything to be specified in detail. When you read a constitution, you understand that it is a living document that evolves over time in light of interpretations of the courts. Indeed, that is the way all constitutions are approached, which gets me to the question of how it is those sections have been interpreted by the Supreme Court of Canada, the ultimate authority.

The case of re Eurig Estate, which we discussed in this Chamber not so very long ago when we dealt with Bill No. 2, is the most recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada interpreting Sections 53, 54 and 90 of the Constitution Act. These are the very sections that are relevant to understanding our own Expenditure Control Act.

What the court tells us, and I will quote from the decision of the five majority judges, from the decision as issued by Mr. Justice Major on behalf of the majority of the judges. He says, "In our system of responsible government, the Lieutenant Governor in Council cannot impose a new tax without the authorization of the Legislature.". It goes on, "The basic purpose of Section 53 is to constitutionalize the principle that taxation powers cannot arise incidentally in delegated legislation. In doing so, it ensures parliamentary control over an accountability for taxation. Through the centuries the principle was maintained that taxation required representation and consent. The only body in Canada that meets this test is the Commons. The elected representatives of the people sit in the Commons and not in the Senate, and consistently, with history and tradition, they may well insist that they alone have the right to decide to the last cent what money is to be granted and what taxes are to be imposed.".

Now, the essence of the judgement, as relevant here, is in those last sentences, " . . . consistently with history and tradition, they may well insist," - now "they" is not just the Commons but in the case of provinces, the Legislature - " . . . that they alone have the right to decide to the last cent what money is to be granted and what taxes are to be imposed.". What that means is that the provisions that we have before us in this bill that essentially suspend for two years, or indeed for any period, the requirements of Section 13 of the Expenditure Control Act, that require the advanced consent of the Legislature to overexpenditures, would be violated.

That is not just a section in the law, it is a constitutional requirement. If it is a constitutional requirement, it is not something that this Legislature can, on its own say-so, override. It would be open to any citizen to come forward and say that what the Legislature

[Page 1314]

is doing is unconstitutional.This is not a circumstance to which we wish to expose ourselves. I think it would be wrong to proceed with this part of the bill as presently drafted. It would be wrong to adopt sections that are unconstitutional.

I think there are a number of associated problems, because it is not obvious how it is that the minister ought to amend this part of his bill. I thought the first stab at it that was made by the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid might provide some direction, but I think needs some concerted further thought. I look forward to the minister receiving the advice of his officials as to how this clause can be improved.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber. The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto has the floor.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that now that I have taken the opportunity at second reading to point out in detail what it is that is the problem with this part of the bill that has been introduced, the minister and his officials will move speedily to consider ways in which the bill can be changed to bring it into line with the appropriate constitutional principles. Let it not be said that this Legislature moved in violation of the constitution of the land. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I found it interesting listening to the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, who clearly stated that he is not of the legal profession and he was not a mathematician. I put him down as a wanna-be lawyer and a wanna-be mathematician. Then we were enlightened by the member for Halifax Chebucto's legal mind and quasi-mathematician; maybe has-been legal mind and mathematician. I find the two comments enlightening and powerful in their attack and observations of Bill No. 7.

I did find it interesting listening to the Statutes of that of the federal side and the comment coming back on the issue of, if only. I think it was the member for Sackville-Cobequid, the articulate and energetic and charismatic member, who speaks very eloquently about the legal and the math side of this issue, about the fact that it didn't matter what anybody has done to date, it is what he would want to have been able to do to rectify the problem. I find it interesting when I take a look at the whole issue of the consolidation of debt and the fact that he talks about the need to move it forward as part of the ideals of the New Democratic Party and, yet, in British Columbia, when they went to full consolidation some time ago, they eventually reversed their decision in this current government they have now and are not in compliance with full consolidation. I think, maybe, some of the direction that you would get from a body of a Third Party that, is a term used in the House, I don't necessarily agree with, kind of sucking and blowing at the same time. (Interruption)

[Page 1315]

I find it interesting, as well. (Interruption) Actually, the Leader of the Third Party, if he wants to get up and talk about this, I would be more than willing to allow him to do so. If he wants to get up and add to Bill No. 7 and give his views and to hear what he has to say about it, I would be more than willing to share my time tonight to allow him to do that.

[9:15 p.m.]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. If the member for Lunenburg West would like to do his counting, he will realize that today he is the member of the Third Party. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DOWNE: It wasn't a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It was my hope, after the much spirited debate we had last week that we wouldn't begin this week by starting to call each other names.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor, please. (Interruptions)

MR. DOWNE: Calling each other names, though, I really don't know if that is the case there, Mr. Speaker. I found it interesting listening to the member for Sackville-Cobequid talk about the budget that the Progressive Conservative Government had brought forward just recently and I refer to it as a Liberal-Tory budget. I want to clarify very clearly for the member of the Party to my far left as I stand here today that, in fact, what really we have seen is a budget (Interruptions) Here goes that Leader again, Mr. Speaker. If he really wants to add any kind of positive comment to this, I ask him to stand on his feet and take a leading role in articulating the position of the New Democratic Party with regard to Bill No. 7, otherwise I ask him please to keep his comments to himself. I am trying to . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor on the principles, please. (Interruptions)

MR. DOWNE: It is funny what haircuts can do for people. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I want to set the record straight, if I may, in regard to the comments made by the member for Sackville-Cobequid about the Liberal-Tory budget. There are some very fundamental deficiencies in the budget that the Minister of Finance had brought forward that I think should be made very clear and that is in regard to the accountability, the areas of making sure that the investments that were made are made for the long-term stability of the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 1316]

I think of the Health Investment Fund, which I am not ashamed to talk about, that actually stated very clearly that it had the Auditor General to review all activities on the expenditure side and that those reports be reported back to the House and that any expenditure over a certain value would be reviewed by not only the Minister of Finance but also by the Auditor General and the Legislative Assembly to show, in fact, that the largest single expenditure in the Province of Nova Scotia is health. The number one priority in the Province of Nova Scotia is health and we have yet to see from the Progressive Conservative Party their commitment to trying to find a plan to deal with this very serious issue for which we have heard repeatedly over the last number of days that a mere $46 million to $48 million would fix the problem and yet they spent $208 million with no accountability, no transparency and no determination that we will be able to develop a long-term sustainable and predictable Department of Health for the people of the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid. Is it a point of order?

MR. JOHN HOLM: No, no. I was just wondering for clarification on this bill, the member for Lunenburg West, of course, has some experience as a Minister of Finance so I am wondering if he could entertain just a very brief question?

MR. DOWNE: No, Mr. Speaker. (Laughter) I will say that I will compliment the member for Sackville-Cobequid in his observation. He is tenacious as a potential (Interruption) Oh, for goodness sakes alive, Mr. Speaker, come on. This is . . .

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, you know we are in second reading on Bill No. 7 and we are talking about the principle and one important principle of this bill is certainly in the way that it is crafted in exempting the government from bringing in any resolutions that would deal with overexpenditures. Now I know that the former government did not bring forward the resolutions to authorize the overexpenditures when they made them and this Minister of Finance is trying to correct that problem by bringing forward those resolutions.

My point of order, Mr. Speaker, is that is a very important principle in this bill and I am wondering if you would ask the member to speak about those important principles like having things done properly.

MR. DOWNE: I guess he is trying to get his question to the floor of the Legislature. I think, Mr. Speaker, you might be a little bit gullible listening to some of the directions he is trying to take you in, the rabbit tracks as it were. I will be so liberal as to give a compliment to the member for Sackville-Cobequid when he talked about that in fact the Progressive Conservative Government, for which the honourable Minister of Finance played a vital role in determining its plan and its future for the Province of Nova Scotia for some 18 years. I

[Page 1317]

believe, if I recall correctly, that when they took over the total debt of the Province of Nova Scotia it was about $500 million.

Thus, from Confederation until the Buchanan era the total debt of the Province of Nova Scotia was a $500 million debt. During that period of time that the Minister of Finance was part of that regime in and out, but he was there for a number of years, I think he was the youngest member ever elected at the time, actually ballooned that debt to in excess of $6 billion, and you are right. I just want to correct it even further, that if they had used the same principles that they are currently using for a selective couple of years, that in fact that debt could very well be $7 billion or $8 billion or $9 billion in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I think it would be appropriate for the minister who always states very clearly, and I understand why he states very clearly that his role is to show only a little bit of the past and talk about the future because he knows when you really open the door to the past, that he, the Minister of Finance, has as many skeletons in the closet about being open and straightforward, as anybody from that side of the House who sat there for more than a couple of years.

AN HON. MEMBER: He even doctored the reporting in his budget address, didn't he?

MR. DOWNE: Actually, I am going to talk about that. One of the points, and I think I might bring it up a couple of times tonight, to clarify that, is in the graph; the graph that was in the newspaper, the graph that was behind the Minister of Finance in the budget briefing in the lock-up of the media showed where it went back in his full consolidation of debt, bringing in . . .

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: How far back?

MR. DOWNE: They went back actually to 1993 in the graph but, in fact, the interesting part, to the honourable member for Richmond, is that in the issue of the full consolidation of debt, interestingly enough they went back only a couple of years. So the full exposure, back to the 1992-93 year that the member understands all too well was the year that the Liberals took over from the Progressive Conservatives' massive debt and mismanagement, would have been in excess - in fact, I think Donnie Cameron at the time - was $617 million that would have been over $1 billion when you added in the foreign debt.

If I recall correctly, the foreign debt at the time when we took over was in excess of 70 per cent. In fact, if the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid would stop his heckling for just a second, in fact if I can recall correctly, the unfunded liability of the Teachers' Pension Fund alone was $1 billion - can you imagine! The unfunded liability of the Teachers' Pension Fund, when the Tories had it, was underfunded by $1 billion. So, I find it absolutely unacceptable for the minister, and I know that the minister said in the House that by gosh, by

[Page 1318]

golly, I didn't realize that my staff was not forthcoming to the public of Nova Scotia by this graph in showing only a selected couple of years.

I said to the minister and I brought it to the attention of the minister and he was shocked that his staff would ever be so insensitive to portraying the overall picture. I know that the minister said some weeks ago to this House that he would endeavour to come forward to bring those numbers to the House as soon as possible and the clock is still ticking. We have yet to see the reality of what the minister said with regard to the whole issue of the true debt of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Let us not be fooled in this Legislative Assembly today, because the reality is, and the Minister of Finance understands, especially after coming back from New York and Toronto and meeting with the bond agencies and so on and so forth, that the overall debt of the Province of Nova Scotia, between now and eight months ago, there is no difference. He is shaking his head, agreeing that the overall debt, now he is shaking the other way. This is very typical of the Progressive Conservative Party, Mr. Speaker, to shake both ways and we never know what they really, truly mean.

I shall try this one more time. The Minister of Finance knows all too well that we have changed the accounting procedure and we support the principles of that, but what the reality is, and the Premier, I see I have his attention here, that the Premier knows the overall position of the province is no different than it was six months ago. The difference is, and I shall say that under this Tory Government, even though they are so full of themselves at this point and actually probably this is the first day that they have not had another foot come falling down from the sky onto them, but the day is not over yet, Mr. Speaker, there still can be some retirements and resignations, but we do not know if that is coming today or not.

Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, the reality is the finances of the province overall have not changed, it is the accounting procedure that has changed. I compliment the minister and the government for moving along the game plan and the strategy that the Liberal Government not only had agreed to but, in fact, brought in a document in the budget of 1998-99 so that all Nova Scotians knew that consolidation of debt was our plan.

Unlike the Progressive Conservative Government, Mr. Speaker, we are not ashamed and we are not hiding behind all sorts of studies to come forward with plans. In fact, we have consistently come forward with plans that have shown fiscal stability and the right management of the Government of the Province of Nova Scotia.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about the bill? Do you support the bill?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I just want to start talking about Bill No. 7 now. (Applause) I know that the members opposite are not really paying a great deal of attention to the seriousness of this debate, but I will continue.

[Page 1319]

Mr. Speaker, I want to compliment the Minister of Finance for moving forward in the Financial Measures (1999) Act today. As we stated in the House before and the minister has said to me, I remember, you have never said anything good about me so I thought I should state right off the bat that I compliment him for following the direction that we laid a little over a year ago. Secondly, I want to compliment the minister for the extension of the film tax credit in the bill and it is welcome. The minister is right. I remember all too well when we brought the bill in, we brought in the measures for the extension of the film tax credit, the industry was less than $30 million and today it is in excess of $100 million and creating jobs in the Province of Nova Scotia.

It is very reflective of part of our economic strategy and growing the economy because I remember back in 1993 when the GDP of this province was less than 1 per cent. I remember when private sector investment did not even rank; I remember the unemployment rate of over 14 per cent; I remember that the private sector and the small businesses in the Province of Nova Scotia were scared for the future; I remember also, Mr. Speaker, just a number of months ago, when the Progressive Conservatives took over, they have seen that the private sector investment in the Province of Nova Scotia has led the nation for the last number of years and that the Gross Domestic Product in the province, in the last two years, has been ahead of the national average and the employment side, are the best numbers anywhere in Atlantic Canada; in fact in the Halifax-HRM area, the lowest unemployment rate east of the Ottawa Valley, and I think that is worth mentioning.

[9:30 p.m.]

My hope is that when the report card comes down one year, two years and three years into the Progressive Conservative mandate, that that report card will not go back and digress to the point where those numbers are not improved upon. My concern is that, maybe, just maybe, they might not be able to keep that torch and that plan alive.

Nova Scotia is now in stiff competition with other jurisdictions when it comes to the issue of taxation investments and incentives. The Province of Nova Scotia understands that we are not competing just within the Maritimes but, clearly, in Eastern Canada and beyond. That is why the absence in this bill bothers me as much as what is in it. I am extremely disappointed that the Minister of Finance did not see his way clear to go forward with what we call the enterprise zone measures. These enterprise zone measures, Mr. Speaker, were there to help develop rural Nova Scotia.

As we have said before in this House, there are two economies in this province. There is the HRM area, with employment numbers that are phenomenal in relationship to what we have seen in the past. The enterprise zones were to help stimulate the activities of rural development, and jobs and additional revenue for the Minister of Finance. I was also equally disappointed with not only the tax incentives that were there to help stimulate things like the film tax credit and I am sure the member for Shelburne is disappointed, because I am sure the

[Page 1320]

member for Shelburne realizes now that they have got this facility over there that, with the increased tax advantages for the film tax credit in rural Nova Scotia, maybe an additional number of jobs could have been created in Shelburne.

I am sure he will talk to the Minister of Finance, asking him to reconsider that position. The multi-media tax credit was another one, another new emerging industry in the new millennium, one that I believe should have been reviewed and referred to in the budget, but was neglected to go in.

I think Mr. Speaker, the bill before us does have some positive sides, but unfortunately one part of the bill that disturbs our Party, and should disturb Nova Scotians, is in regard to the Sable royalties (Interruption) Now I notice my learned colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, said it is no big deal; it is not a big issue. Well, I just want to inform members of the House that the royalty regime is a big deal; in fact, the numbers that we had projected at the time when gas prices were at a bit of a low worked out to about $2.5 billion, and that is after the federal clawback of 70 per cent. I understand today, at the current world price of gas, that the royalty regime net to the province will be somewhere in the vicinity of $4 billion. I note the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate, whom I think is trying to do a very good job, I wish him well, that is a phenomenal amount of money. So although my colleague at the left and the New Democratic Party doesn't think $4 billion is a lot of money, I happen to believe that it is a lot of money and I realize that the member . . .

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I understand the member for Lunenburg West is having some difficulty staying focused there, but I don't think he has to misrepresent what the member for Sackville-Cobequid said earlier. At no time did he say that $4 billion or $2 billion was not a big deal, as it pertained to royalties from Sable offshore. I wish he would try to stay a little more focused with his comments on this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: In regard to the point of order, the honourable Leader is correct. I never heard the member state that either, so I would appreciate it also if the member would stick to the principles of the bill, please, for a change.

MR. DOWNE: I will follow suit, as the previous speakers have done, Mr. Speaker. I will say I think what it was was that the member for Sackville-Cobequid stated that the first few years of the royalty regime are not a big deal, and it didn't matter to him where it went. In the bill that we are talking about, Bill No. 7, it doesn't have a time-frame, it doesn't have a time zone. It can go on for whatever period of time they want it to go on in regard to having the royalty regime go directly into the current account of the Government of Nova Scotia.

The member opposite is correct that the first couple of years the royalty regime is - well, he said it wasn't very much, it is $4 million or $8 million or $17 million or $28 million, I don't have the exact number, but I know it is substantial; $1 million is substantial, $10,000 is substantial to the taxpayers of the Province of Nova Scotia. I say, without question, I have

[Page 1321]

some concern that the requirement of 50 per cent of the royalties to be paid to the debt is an important issue.

Now the minister responsible has taken that away, he has taken that caveat, that part of the legislation away. There has to be some logic behind it. The minister had said that we have to deal with the finances of the province first and foremost. Well, I think if the minister was clear on that, what he would have done, because he knows the royalty regime, he knows the triggers, he knows the payout and the time-frame, it would have been wise for the minister to put in a very specific period of time that the royal regime would be waived and all of it would go into the general revenue and not a percentage of it.

I would have liked to have seen a time-frame, a time horizon, a sunset clause as it were, built into the bill, so that we, on this side of the House, would have a clear understanding that it was not an amount of money going into general revenue for whatever period of time so that they could take advantage with regard to meeting their obligations and commitments to the public of Nova Scotia, with regard to balancing the budget.

That move worries me. Another area that concerns me is that there is nothing in this financial measures bill now that they have taken out the issue of 50 per cent of the royalties to be paying down into the Public Debt Retirement Fund, there is nothing really in the bill that talks about how they are going to deal with the issue of the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia.

I listened to the minister talk about the fact that the spring budget will be the budget. We are all going to be waiting to hear what that has to say. I think I would highly recommend to the minister that under all these reviews, he should not lose sight of the fact that the overall debt of the Province of Nova Scotia is a massive millstone around the future of this province, and one that has to be addressed.

By changing the accounting procedure - and the minister knew all too well that by changing the accounting procedure - you are going to change the numbers on the balance sheet. All of a sudden, we have taken Crown Corporations that we as a government totally exposed to Nova Scotians, and those are real numbers of where we are, they put them on the bottom line of the financial statement. By doing that, of course, it is going to change the financial situation in regard to the balance sheet. But it has not changed the financial situation of the Province of Nova Scotia.

I ask the frontbenchers to think about that. If you don't understand it, I will talk to you later, but the bottom line is the grim reality, there is no change to the overall debt of the Province of Nova Scotia, except the fact they continue to spend like drunken sailors in the budget areas that they have today without accountability. (Interruptions) I find that (Interruptions) I take that back, I apologize for saying that. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I apologize for making that comment about the sailors. (Interruptions)

[Page 1322]

I find it interesting that during the campaign, the Progressive Conservative Party spent a lot of time planning the 243 promises. But I don't recall during any of those debates and any of the information I had at the time - and maybe there is some information out there and I would be happy to take a look at it - I never once noticed in their material that they planned to change the royalty regime of the Province of Nova Scotia to go into general revenue.

Quite a windfall, Mr. Speaker, quite a windfall for the government of the day to all of a sudden realize this potential of $4 billion can go into general revenue over the life of the project. There is nothing in the budget and nothing in Bill No. 7 that restricts that from happening for as ever long as they are in power, which we obviously hope will not be for 25 years. I am absolutely sure that will not happen.

I find it interesting, Mr. Speaker, that what they did do, . . .

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

MR. DOWNE: I do find it interesting, Mr. Speaker, just back, I believe, in 1998, they did talk about the Sable royalty regime and what they did say was that they planned to take in fact $12 million of the Sable royalty regime. Do you know what they were going to do with it, they were going to put it into programs. I ask the members to please pay attention to this.

This is what the Conservative Government was going to do only a year ago. They said that Sable royalties will go into programs supporting the underprivileged and the disabled people of the Province of Nova Scotia and that was under a platform called Putting People First. (Laughter) Can you remember that, a little over a year ago? I know that the good Premier of the day remembers that. How quickly we forget. But they did in 1998 make a commitment to that, and they put it in paper. Now what they have done, they have actually taken the royalty regime and they have never told Nova Scotians what they were going to do, but in fact they are going to take it away.

Mr. Speaker, I understand the minister told the Canadian bond rating services his plan for eliminating the deficit. I remember all too well meeting bond rating agencies around the country. I never had the privilege and the opportunity to travel to New York. I did actually meet with some of them in New York but I didn't go specifically just for that. But I know that the minister that went to Toronto and went to New York (Interruption) I didn't go to Tokyo.

Here they go, Mr. Speaker, they want to talk about trips they used to take. Actually sometimes I think that government is on a giant trip and I just don't know where it is going and neither do Nova Scotians.

I would assume that the Minister of Finance - in meeting with the bond agencies, they would have asked very pertinent questions - was able to stand up and be absolutely truthful to this group, not political, but absolutely truthful. I am sure that the minister would have to profess that the Liberals had actually moved a long way toward proper accounting procedures

[Page 1323]

and a good way of approaching and dealing with these issues. I believe that the good minister would also point out that the bond agencies have stated, as well, the overall numbers of the province have not changed. It is the way we account that has changed and we agree with that.

The minister would have been asked some very pointed questions. The questions would have been put to him as saying, all well and good. We know what the numbers are but what exactly are you going to do about retiring the debt? What exactly are you going to do about putting your House in order and balancing the budget, based on a new consolidation of debt? I am sure that the minister, by May, would have had to give some very serious thought to answering those questions. I am sure that the minister - and this is probably privileged information that he is not prepared to disclose to the House of Assembly, but maybe we will see it in his spring budget - and I am confident that the minister worked very hard on those trips to sell their plan, a plan that Nova Scotians have yet to see, a plan that this Legislature has not seen, but a plan that we all hope and pray will be a fair plan for the people of Nova Scotia. (Interruption)

Well, anyway, Mr. Speaker, I am not going to get into that. I mean, the Minister of Finance is going to be going through his budget shortly, and I am sure he will, as the honourable member that he is, disclose any information that is pertinent to the questions that are being asked.

I want to now move on to the fact that the previous government, from 1993, had in fact moved to adopt Generally Accepted Accounting Principles that would move into the Province of Nova Scotia by the year 2000. In our government plan, Mr. Speaker, we outlined a Blueprint for Success. The document outlined the very serious challenges in adopting these accounting principles. (Interruption) There is an awful lot of heckling that has been going on in this audience here today.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you want to get heckled?

MR. DOWNE: I wouldn't mind, once in a while. Actually, I kind of miss it, Mr. Speaker. Normally if somebody is being heckled, you usually appreciate where the person is coming from who is doing the heckling.

[9:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, since 1993 the accounting of the province has moved to more accurate accounting and every dollar spent was accounted for, every number was available to the public of Nova Scotia, as it was to the bond agencies and other people who were wanting it. I remember - and the member for Sackville-Cobequid should be aware of this because he has been around for a while - that financial statements were sometimes a year outdated. I remember that we never knew, for example, NSRL's overall debt in the Province of Nova Scotia for quite some time.

[Page 1324]

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I just have to be helpful because the minister is going down a certain road.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: The member.

MR. HOLM: The member, excuse me, former Minister of Finance, and that former Minister of Finance, the member for Lunenburg West, will know that the last annual report for Nova Scotia Resources Limited was introduced in 1994 by the Liberal Government and no new report was introduced until the election of 1999 was almost completely concluded in which they were hiding the new, much-increased debt of NSRL.

So, Mr. Speaker, I raise this as a point of order because all of that information we were told a moment ago was available yet the government refused, during the budget debates, and in Question Period last spring, to release that information even though I was telling them what the true debt was. It only was confirmed after the election was held.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is it a point of order, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is not a point of order but I hope the member is not suggesting anything dishonest.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No.

MR. SPEAKER: No, I wouldn't think so. Thank you.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on your point, I was certainly not suggesting that they were being dishonest, I was just suggesting that they weren't . . .

MR. SPEAKER: You implied.

MR. HOLM: No, I wasn't even implying it. I was just suggesting that they were not overly willing to bring the information forward and to share that with all Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I hope you are going to rule him out of order on that point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: I did.

[Page 1325]

MR. DOWNE: Did you?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, I did.

MR. DOWNE: Is that what you call it? Okay, I hope he listens to that and sits there and listens. (Laughter) I have a funny suspicion he will be back on his feet again. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, the bottom line is that the numbers and the information we actually provided.

I get a kick to hear the Leader of the New Democratic Party (Interruption) Here he goes again. These are the people, this is a Party, Mr. Speaker, that can say anything they want because they never ever will be in power to ever have to do anything in the Province of Nova Scotia. (Interruption) They can yap all they want. They can heckle all they want. They can have rabbit tracks as long as they want but, Mr. Speaker, God help this province if they ever got in power. They just continually slash at everything that is being said . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DOWNE: . . . because they never have been able to make a decision yet.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions)

I would like to hear something about this bill tonight if I could. (Applause)

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I have been on Bill No. 7. As you know, I have been making points with regard to that. Obviously, I have made it very clear that we have some very serious, legitimate concerns here. The Minister of Finance in the bill does not talk about the issue on the royalty regime in the bill, when he is going to bring it back. He has not said in the bill, that when he balances the budget, whenever that might be, whatever year they want to choose, maybe it will be five years next time, that he will bring back that piece of that legislation that says that 50 per cent of the royalty regime will go back and pay down the debt of the Province of Nova, instead of having it as a cash cow, allowing the Minister of Finance to direct it in any way he wants to do it. I think that is an important piece of information relative to this bill.

Mr. Speaker, there is another area in this bill that I find intriguing. I have not heard the Minister of Finance really get into it, but as we move into full consolidation of debt and the principle of that is the right direction, this minister has been fairly selective in regard to the number of what companies are in, and what is in and what is not in. For example, the Minister of Finance said that workers' compensation will not be a part of the full consolidation of debt. It will not be a part of the bottom line of the finances of the Province of Nova Scotia. I do not know why he chose that but he was also very selective of what other companies and businesses he put in. We have the Bridge Commission actually making money. That is part of the financial statement.

[Page 1326]

One thing I think we have to be very clear about is that the minister had stated, and the Premier had stated, that we should have accounting procedures in the Province of Nova Scotia that are easy for everyone to understand, I agree. The minister has stated that he wants to make sure that all the numbers are exposed in one simple form. That is what we have and I agree. The minister said that we have to move forward in the consolidation of debt and meeting the new changes in the accounting procedures across this country, I agree.

I want to bring one point forward and I think it is worth noting. When you are a General Motors of the world every shareholder wants to take a look at every subsidiary and what impact it has to the bottom line. That is normal in a company basis, but I have to ask the minister, and I hope in later discussions, maybe tonight or tomorrow, or the next day, or whenever we are going to carry on with this debate, that the minister might inform this House that it is possible that if, for example, under the foreign exchange issue and/or the amendments that are brought in here to bring in companies and corporations within the financial statement, that it is conceivably possible that the province either can do a lot better or a lot worse and none of it would be reflective of government expenditures on a departmental by departmental basis. I think the Minister of Finance would agree with that.

There can be swings in currency and foreign exchange that could have a very positive or negative impact based on the way they have set it up. Now I know the minister has hedged a lot of that and by doing that it has basically put somewhere around $300-some million to a deficit position of the Province of Nova Scotia. I think it is $185 million in 1998-99 and I forget the number in this year but it is a fairly substantial amount of money.

What the minister has done - it hasn't changed that position any - is he has hedged those debentures and bonds and such and has put that money against debt as if we lost that money in previous and current years. In the event that the currency takes a wider change, that will still have a negative impact on the finances of the Province of Nova Scotia. In fact, Mr. Speaker, under consolidation of debt, what that could very well mean, is that the province could be doing better or worse and we as Nova Scotians would never know if it is because of the inability of the Minister of the Environment to control his department or the Minister of Health to get health under control or the Minister of Community Services to actually live within their means in the overall global numbers.

Mr. Speaker, I wish them well. I wish the minister, the Premier and the Cabinet well, but I have some concerns about that. I know that the minister will, at a later date I am sure, share some light in regard to his rationale about what he was selectively bringing in and what he selectively left out and secondly, what those true number are all about.

As I said before, in facing the challenge, the minister today to be honest to all of us and not in a partisan way but in a very truthful way that the overall situation of the Province of Nova Scotia is not significantly different, it is an accounting procedure that is substantially different.

[Page 1327]

I find it equally interesting, Mr. Speaker, how the minister repeatedly goes on about looking to the future and he doesn't want to mess around with the past. I think somebody had said that he doesn't want the rear-view mirror approach to the future of this province. I appreciate that. But I think it is important to make it very clear to this House, and I will across this province when we get the numbers, that when you are going to compare the numbers of the Province of Nova Scotia with this new accounting procedure that we compare apple to apples and not apples to bananas. I look forward to the minister living up to his commitment that that information will be forthcoming as soon as possible. I assume that they must be almost completed, as they have had the first couple of years done in a very short period of time; the last three or four wouldn't take very much longer to complete. I anticipate that that information will be coming in fairly quickly.

It is interesting as they sit over there and they go through where they are now and they are trying to try to paint a picture about the Liberal Government, I think all Nova Scotians understand all too well exactly where the Progressive Conservative Government has left this province. I know that the Premier today has indicated to this House, and publicly, before that his commitment is to straighten up the mess and the embarrassment of the previous administration while he is here. That is, in fact, was one of the reasons he got into politics if I understand correctly, to bring that level of change here. I think that is commendable, I think all of us in this room try to have those kind of values and principles. But we should not in this exercise ever lose sight of the reality of what that government had done.

I think back, and we talk about NSRL, and I remember the member for Sackville-Cobequid was making some comments but I remember the Offshore Development Fund, as an example. Those were dollars that were spent to develop that field and it went nowhere, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DOWNE: I will move on, Mr. Speaker. The hour is getting late and I think we are getting - well, actually it is probably the earliest we have been for quite some time, its usually 12:00 midnight or 2:00 o'clock in the morning.

[10:00 p.m.]

I think it is important for members of this House to realize that while we move forward with this piece of legislation that we shouldn't forget a little bit of where this minister came from, this minister who brought in this good piece of legislation that we had actually recommended a year ago today, that he was part of a government that back in 1993 had a $617 million capital and ordinary deficit. I think, when we find the real number, using the new accounting procedure, that number will be in excess of $1 billion.

[Page 1328]

I think, as they go around and I listen and I read the paper that the Minister of Finance goes on and he chastises and he is a little critical sometimes, and maybe it is an editorial latitude of the writer - but I will play it fair here - I think the minister should be very careful in pointing fingers, because those same realities of what they have done to this province will never ever be forgotten by the people of this province.

Mr. Speaker, we will make sure, as he goes forward, that he, above all, makes sure that those factual numbers are presented to the public of Nova Scotia, not in the way that we have seen as of today. The minister continues to claim that he will bring in a budget of his own in the spring. I think it should be abundantly clear to members in the Legislature today that he has already brought in a budget, a budget without a multi-year plan, a budget that does not achieve the goals that I understood that they, in fact, talked about in their election campaign, a budget that does not have any true direction as to where this province is going, except for study, review, review and study.

Mr. Speaker, the patience of Nova Scotians is wearing thin. The patience of Nova Scotians in regard to absolute trust for this government is getting lesser and lesser as every day goes by. I think even the members on the back benches would agree that the honeymoon is long over, if there ever was one. People are going to want to have the reality of where they are going and how they are going to get there sooner than later.

We have some concerns in other areas in this particular piece of legislation that were enunciated today, but I think it should be very clear that the way the minister is going to set this up, that he doesn't set up in the accounting procedure in this Bill No. 7, doesn't set up a cushion in this exercise or even in the budgetary numbers he has here today for the departments, set up these so that he can live up to his 243 promises as well as trying to hide and mask the reality of what we inherited in the Province of Nova Scotia back just some six years ago.

Mr. Speaker, I understand the Leader of the New Democratic Party wants to say a few words, is that right? (Interruptions) Good. I believe he wants to take a turn, and I will wait to hear what he has to say. I will be happy to address this issue again. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I listened intently when the member for Sackville-Cobequid, our Finance Critic was speaking earlier, and there were a couple of things that I wanted to say, but after listening to the member for Lunenburg West, I have kind of gotten a bit confused. The member for Lunenburg West was talking such nonsense about what his government did when they were in power, that I found myself a bit lost.

[Page 1329]

Anyway, I won't take too much time of the House tonight. I just want to say, though, that I think the points made by the member for Sackville-Cobequid and the member for Halifax Chebucto are important as they relate to the question of this government overspending and not having to bring in resolutions to have that overspending approved by the House. I think that is extremely important and I hope the minister recognized the points that were raised by the two members of this Party, of this caucus, and that we can deal with that issue when the bill moves on to Law Amendments.

I would suggest to you that on the basis of the arguments put forward by our Finance Critic, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, that we will be supporting Bill No. 7 out of the House and move it along to Law Amendments to, hopefully, deal with the problems that that member has raised. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the Minister of Finance, it will be to close debate.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to say that I listened to a lot of debate tonight and some of it has been informative and some of it has been rather entertaining. You will figure from my comments later on which ones were which. First of all, I want to speak regarding the comments brought forward by the member for Sackville-Cobequid and the member for Halifax Chebucto.

On that, Mr. Speaker, in regard to Section 13, my Clause 2 of this bill, which refers to the Expenditure Control Act, the way that the clause is worded, it would not apply to Section 13, which basically calls for the government to bring in a resolution if it overexpends, which is in line with the two resolutions that I brought forward. It was not my intention to do that. It is a technicality that was brought forward here tonight and it is something that I will be addressing with my staff to, perhaps, bring some amendments at Law Amendments. So I want to be clear on that. If I learned one thing in my years in the House, it is that you work with the good ideas and the bad ideas. Sometimes you agree to disagree, but the member brings up a good suggestion. (Applause)

I would say, in all candour, Mr. Speaker, even if this had gone by, I probably would have brought forward the resolution even though it would not have been required. It was not my intention to do so, but it is a point that was brought up by the Opposition and that is why, if you work together, you bring about the best legislation. We have seen it on many occasions.

I want to say tonight, Mr. Speaker, since I am on my feet that I was talking to the member for Sackville-Cobequid tonight, and in five days, it will be 15 years since that gentleman was elected, and also the member for Dartmouth East. The reason I know is that I was elected on the same night that they were, however, I was not as fortunate as my two other colleagues to remain undefeated during my tenure. They are both fine politicians and

[Page 1330]

they represent their constituencies well and that is how they have lasted this long. (Applause) The fact that one is from the NDP and one is from the Liberals, people will take me at my word, they do good work. (Interruption) I won't tell there are relatives in their ridings, I won't go that far.

Those were the informative points that were brought up, the other one was more entertaining. I heard a lot of different things and the honourable member for Lunenburg West made a few comments, one of which was that this government - the one that I am standing in front of here - is spending like drunken sailors. I found that one comment amazing because this is the same member . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member retracted that; he did retract the statement.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I am glad he retracted it. To get to the point, the member is insinuating that this government has no control over expenditures, which is what you say when you say that you are spending in that manner. The obvious question, this is the same member who said that this is the same budget that he tabled. So, in essence, I think that is another thing that he made mention, that, basically, he was . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has said that this is exactly the same budget. . .

AN HON. MEMBER: No, you said that.

MR. DOWNE: If I recall correctly, the minister just said this is the same budget . . .

MR. SPEAKER: What you said.

MR. DOWNE: . . . that we had brought in.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: He said you said.

MR. DOWNE: Oh, you didn't just say that now?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Finance on the bill, please. (Interruptions)

MR. LEBLANC: On the bill, he also said that this was his cover with a blue cover, I think a blue collar, he made mention, so just to clarify that.

[Page 1331]

On the bill, Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of points that he brought up which I will address, one of which was the matter of debt retirement and he made mention about the fact for the gas and the fact that 50 per cent should not have been struck down altogether, I think those were the words that he made mention. We will be bringing in a bill in the spring which addresses the Expenditure Control Act that we will put in place to deal with our mandate that has been clearly outlined in our platform. So that will be addressed at that time.

As to where we will go with debt retirement, Mr. Speaker, first and foremost, this province has to put itself on a financial footing and bring about some responsibility whereby we can truly bring a balanced budget. Once that has occurred and once we reach that point, we will have the discussions as to how we will deal with debt reduction, but before we can deal with debt reduction, we have to have a truly balanced budget and all members agree that if we don't do that, the consequences for this province are severe. I want to clearly articulate today that the debate that we will have is one that I will welcome and all members of our caucus will as to how we reach that balanced budget and then we will deal with how we are going to reduce our debt. But first of all, let's get into balancing our budget. (Applause)

If you want me to stick to the bill, Mr. Speaker, I will have to leave the other rabbit tracks to the side, so I will leave those and I will take the high road on this one. I will say, I have welcomed the points that were made here tonight and I also welcome them in the Law Amendments Committee. There are always refinements to be to a bill. I am always willing to listen to them. Sometimes we will disagree and that is part of the process. With those few comments, I move third reading of Bill No. 7.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Second reading. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading on Bill No. 7, the Financial Measures (1999) Act. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 8.

Bill No. 8 - Municipal Elections Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

[Page 1332]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I move that this bill be now read a second time. The main provision of the bill is to enable the municipalities of this province to employ the list of electors that were used in the provincial election in July. The Municipal Government Act provides that that list can be used for a period of up to 12 months. This situation, when the next municipal election comes around, it is a period of 15 months. So the amendment will allow that list to be used on this occasion only, that is the next municipal election. This is brought forward at the request of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and it is also supported by a number of municipal units in the province who have requested specifically that we bring forth this amendment.

I might point out to members of the House that the financial implications of this bill are rather significant in terms of the savings that can be realized by municipal units. The cost of just the enumeration for the provincial election was in the vicinity of $850,000. It is estimated that the saving for the Halifax Regional Municipality would be vicinity of $185,000. I believe it is somewhere close to that number, Mr. Speaker. So it is a measure which will facilitate the municipalities in their election and it will realize significant savings.

So, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move that this bill be read for a second time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on this bill and I understand the intent of the bill. Primarily the intent of the bill is to save the some 55 municipalities across the province the expense of hiring enumerators to go out and do the enumeration.

[10:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I have some problem with not spending additional revenues to enhance the democratic process. The reason I say that is if we look at the 1995 municipal election, which was held in December - an unusual time to hold it, December 2nd, I do believe - for the Halifax Regional Municipality and when we look at the voter turnout to that, it was some 43 per cent. We do also recognize in the most recent by-elections that were just held this weekend, voter turnout and voter support was somewhere around 32 per cent and in some of the districts around 19 per cent and in some 22 per cent.

I think that if we all realize that when we are out there campaigning during the election campaigns, that many people have expressed concerns for having their names off the voters lists. First, I am not so sure how accurate the July 1999 electors list is, I really do not know how accurate that is. I do know when enumerators are out there, many people had felt that they were off the list some 16 months prior to that which I believe was on March 24, 1998, the most recent election campaign. So you can understand and you can have a sense and a feel for wanting to make sure that the democratic process continues and that there is a price to pay for making sure that people are on the electors list, unlike the United States where, in

[Page 1333]

fact, I believe that it is your responsibility to register yourself to become an eligible voter. As a result of that, we know that the voter turnout is significantly low at the federal, the state level and at the municipal level.

Here we are going into some significant changes within the Municipal Act of allowing for four year terms to municipal office and to elected district school board offices as well. When we look at that period of time and we know now that it is four years, I am wondering just how important and how significant it is to save those dollars to make sure that we have a fair and accurate enumerating process that allows eligible voters to be identified.

The other point is this, remember that in the next 15 months a significant number of young people who will become of age, age 18, and be the first-time voters, who will not be on that voters list, or who may not be because there may not be any alternatives by the municipalities, or the municipalities may not think of going out and trying to enumerate those people and how could they do it is another question. So you have got a number of citizens who are automatically turned off.

There is also the other process of looking at multi-residential development communities where, in fact, the communities are multi-residential development communities and because of that there is a high residency turnover and many of the individuals are no longer on the voters list as well. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber. I would appreciate it, if you would respect the member speaking, the honourable member for Dartmouth North has the floor.

MR. PYE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, that is very nice of him to do that. I think most importantly here is, my difficulty is that when I became involved in politics, I recognized the importance of making sure the process was as democratic as possible. I recognized also that there would be a cost to that importance of having a democratic process that one could be comfortable with and I think we ought not to take our experiences from south of the border because that is the direction that I think we are going and I believe we are going. I believe that what we should be doing is encouraging, by making sure that the number of eligible voters are on an enumerator's list so they can be identified, and they don't have this problem of getting annoyed and upset by having their name off the list and going and refusing the vote. I know that there was a very serious problem a few years back. I believe it might have been back in the last federal election where in fact the list that was used was a referendum list. That was the most flawed list that anyone could possibly imagine, yet it was the list used to identify electors coming to the polls.

[Page 1334]

So, Mr. Speaker, if I may, I will close by saying to the minister that I would hope that when this goes to the Law Amendments Committee that the minister give some very serious consideration with respect to what impact this amendment to the Municipal Elections Act has on the possibility of the voter turnout in its democratic process. Thank you.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to say I believe this amendment is a very positive step. I think I would suggest that perhaps this government also stole another initiative from my Party, but we won't get into that too much because I know they will never agree to that, or admit it, so we will just move along.

I believe the move to consolidate the voters list, to create one list for municipal, federal and provincial lists, it has been discussed for some time now and I am pleased to see that the present government has taken the initiative, even if it is the Liberal initiative. I can accept that.

I believe the benefit is in savings costs associated with enumeration and it could help municipal units right across the province save, as the minister indicated, large sums of money. Another benefit is saving the trouble and hassle of sending out an army of enumerators each time there is an election. From what I am told, many homeowners in HRM, and the CBRM in particular, indicated their displeasure that with a federal election and a provincial by-election, and two provincial general elections since 1997, most homeowners indicated their displeasure for enumerators knocking on their door too often.

During the last federal election, of course, Ottawa announced to great fanfare that the enumeration of 1997 would be their last; the voters list would be updated using income tax information after that. However, again, it was never explained that this was a federal initiative and would have no impact on the provincial voters list. According to the Elections Act, of course, information gathered for a federal election cannot be used for any other purpose including a provincial election.

I do have a few concerns regarding this amendment. One is obvious. Provincial boundaries vary quite differently from municipal boundaries and it will require tinkering perhaps with some computer database to adapt provincial lists for municipal purposes. I would question perhaps the cost of that and who would pay for it. I believe many municipalities throughout the province, if this really is an amendment to provide a benefit to those municipalities, then I feel the minister should look within his department to pay for this funding.

Another question arises, is this a type of downloading cost to the municipalities? I think we are presenting the municipalities with an unprepared list is bordering on irresponsibility. I feel the province should pay the entire cost of providing this list to the municipalities.

[Page 1335]

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that this Tory Government has already proved that it has no respect for the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. I am concerned, that this government doesn't give any guarantee that this voter information will be protected, when it is adapted for municipal use. As we are all well aware, many lists are traded back and forth by various organizations, and I am concerned about that.

Mr. Speaker, overall, I will have some questions when it does arrive at the Law Amendments Committee, however, my Party is in support of the amendment. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my comments on this will be a little brief, but I wanted to bring a couple of points forward. First of all, I want to say that I echo the concerns of my colleague, the member for Dartmouth North, in terms of we have to be very careful and certainly municipalities have to be careful just relying upon the voters lists that were prepared at the last provincial election. I am sure that I am not alone when I say that there were some significant differences between, for example, the voters lists of 1999 and that of 1998, caused in part by the time of the year and the difficulty to find people home.

I think in my riding, there were about 600 fewer voters in 1999 than there were in 1998, even though the community has actually done some growing during that period of time. There are a significant number of voters, I am afraid, who may have been missed. I am not saying you don't build upon something, but certainly I know I heard from a lot of voters who were quite angry that they had lived at a residence for quite a number of years only to find that they were not on the voters list. It was difficult, sometimes, to persuade them that they still had an opportunity to get out and vote and did, in fact do it.

Maintaining and having an accurate voters list is extremely important. Saving money is important, but also ensuring the people feel that they are valued and have the right to vote is also very important. The way that we show that they are valued is often to make sure that their name is on the voters list.

Mr. Speaker, there is another point that I wanted to raise as well, and we are dealing with the Municipal Elections Act, the Minister of Housing as well as the Minister of Justice, will know that my colleague for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage had raised, I believe, with both of them another issue, that maybe the minister has or would consider as an amendment to this legislation, because what we are dealing with, of course, is an Act to Amend the Municipal Elections Act, and there is another area that I believe in the Municipal Elections Act that needs to be amended as does my colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage. I believe it is shared by all or most of the members in our caucus, anyway and that is that those who are municipal employees, according to the Municipal Elections Act, are prohibited from seeking elected office.

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There are those, if you look at it and I am not going to get into constitutionality and so on tonight, but I think that if you were to do that and to consult with those within the legal profession and who know constitutional law, I think that a very good case could be made that by denying municipal employees - and they aren't all - some of them could be working for bodies that are not directly paid by the municipal, for example a water commission or a transit commission or so on, the way the Act is currently structured, it prohibits them from seeking municipal office.

[10:30 p.m.]

For example, that is not something that is done here. We have members of this House who were public servants, who worked for the provincial government or for a Crown agency prior to their becoming elected. Once they became elected, yes, they had to either resign their positions or take a leave of absence. I, myself, taught school. As such, you might argue, although I was employed by the board, I was paid indirectly by the provincial government. There are members on the government benches who had been government employees prior to being elected.

That same right is not afforded to municipal employees. They cannot run. They would have to resign their job in order to seek municipal elected office. Certainly, you could understand if they were in a confidential position. However, just to say that somebody who happens to work for a department of a municipality, it doesn't matter which one it is across the province, or an agency or a commission of a municipality, to say that they cannot seek elected office, I believe is wrong. If they are elected, and it would be one of the things that they would have to take into consideration when they seek elected office, if they should be elected, the same as, if somebody is seeking to be elected here and they are a provincial employee, they would then have to take a leave of absence because, otherwise they could be in a conflict of interest. I believe that opportunity should be afforded to those who work for a municipality.

Mr. Speaker, I would hope that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs would seek some legal advice and, possibly, when this bill goes to the Law Amendments process, there is nothing that I am aware of that said that the minister couldn't come in with, at that time, another amendment to the bill to correct what I believe is another injustice and to bring in a provision that would be modelled on our own legislation. So it wouldn't be even all that difficult a craft. It could be modelled, really, on what we have in this House, an amendment that would afford municipal employees the same democratic rights that are afforded to provincial employees, and that is to seek elected office for the level of government of their choice.

Mr. Speaker, with those few remarks, I will conclude my comments on this particular bill, but I would, through you, to the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, ask that you take that suggestion under advisement and consult with the Minister of Justice. Here is a great

[Page 1337]

opportunity, an election will be coming up at the municipal level in slightly under one year's time. I think it is October 31st next year. So one year less a day from today (Interruption) October 15th? I am sorry, I was thinking it was October 31st. So two weeks less than one year. So we have plenty of time to bring forward this amendment and I am sure those who are former municipal councillors would, at least I would hope, see the justice in what I am suggesting, as I hope the Premier would. I look forward to this common sense amendment being made during the Law Amendments process.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs it will be to close debate.

The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the members who participated in the debate and I can assure them that their comments are valid. I know that the honourable member for Dartmouth North raises some concerns with respect to individuals being included on the voters' list and those concerns were echoed by the member for Sackville-Cobequid.

I can recall, having been a candidate in six elections, of encountering individuals who did not have their name of the list and it is, certainly, a matter of great concern. Some people take far more offence to it than others. Others are more patient with the process. Others are not so patient with the process. It is a concern. Nevertheless it becomes very difficult to come forward with a system that at any given time is going to be perfect and is going to address all of the concerns that we have. So we are always dealing with the best that we can do at any given time.

But I do want to point out to the House, Mr. Speaker, that we bring this legislation forward, not as a compulsory measure, but the clause is a "may" clause. It is a clause that is intended to allow the municipal units to use this vehicle in order to conduct their elections. They know their situation far better than any of us. Certainly the problem with respect to boundaries that was raised by the member for Cape Breton The Lakes, that is a question that the municipal units themselves will have to address.

What we are doing here is enabling them and giving them the tool that they would require in order to go ahead with the elections. I want to say also to the member for Sackville-Cobequid that his other suggestions are suggestions that have a great deal of merit. It is not the first time that I have heard them. His colleague did mention it to me in the past, and it is something that I indicated that we would be prepared to look at. I don't want to, at this point, come forward and say definitely that that is how we are going to respond. Obviously, with my responsibilities, I have a much bigger body that I need to consult with, with respect to legislation of this kind because as honourable members would know, I have 55 other governments that I must consult with.

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AN HON. MEMBER: It used to be 66.

MR. MACISAAC: It used to be, and I have been reminded that it is not just 55. I hope I have the number correct, it is more like 486 which is the number of councillors that we deal with. While I can say to him that the suggestion bears a great deal of merit, it is one which I would want to discuss with other people. So, Mr. Speaker, hopefully I have dealt with all of the concerns that have been raised by members and I want to conclude the debate on this bill at this time by moving that the bill be now read for a second time.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading on Bill No. 8, the Municipal Elections Act. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried. (Applause)

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand before you and the members of the House of Assembly tonight to share my response to the Speech from the Throne presented by the Lieutenant Governor of our beautiful province. It is indeed an honour for me to rise before you as the representative of the people of the scenic and beautiful Eastern Shore.

Mr. Speaker, congratulations on being only the second person in the history of Nova Scotia's House of Assembly to be elected to this distinguished office. I believe your past experience will allow you to serve the House with understanding and fairness. I would also like to congratulate the three Deputy Speakers on being elected to serve in such noteworthy positions. It certainly was a wise decision by this government to extend the role of Deputy Speaker to include each Party. It shows a desire to work together for the benefit of all Nova Scotians.

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Welcome to the new members of this historic building. Congratulations to the MLAs who make up the Executive Council. I know they have a very crucial role to fulfil. I equally congratulate those MLAs who are entrusted to serve on committees that are the backbone of this process, realizing that together we all form a team. Congratulations to new members and returning members on being chosen to represent your riding and its constituents into the millennium. It is indeed humbling to have so many people put their faith and trust in us. I look forward to working together with you to effectively serve the people of Nova Scotia.

A special thanks to the Lieutenant Governor and Mrs. Kinley for their attendance and Mr. Kinley for his eloquent delivery of the Speech from the Throne. I find their presence always brings an aura of dignity and class to an occasion.

At this time I would like to thank the Eastern Shore people who once again showed their confidence in me by allowing me the privilege to continue representing them; first on a municipal level and now on a provincial level. A special thanks to those who volunteered to work on my campaign. Their commitment and hard work has no rival.

Of course, Mr. Speaker, I would be neglectful if I did not acknowledge my four children, Daniel, Michelle, Melissa and Megan, and my wife, Collette Williams who hails from Ingonish Beach, located on the ruggedly beautiful and breathtaking Cape Breton Island, a place I have come to appreciate for its culture and its heritage. I am eternally grateful for their understanding, love and support. Believe me, I have heard many times these past few months about the woman behind the man. However, in our case, I proudly tell you it is the woman beside the man.

Mr. Speaker, I would now like to take the Assembly on a journey, a journey that depicts the past for the benefit of the present. It follows a twisting road through coves and river valleys, taking one back to a simpler time, a time of peace, serenity and community involvement. The journey begins 152 kilometres from here in the beautiful, quiet community of Ecum Secum. It is one of many fishing villages along the shore where the fishermen and women have learned to rely on what nature has to offer. They work hard and are proud of their ability to provide for themselves.

As we travel west, we witness a very unique display - the scarecrows of Necum Teuch, where a returning resident, an artist, shares local history through her scarecrows that feature people from her childhood. She is also an author who has written a book telling the background of her scarecrows. Many visitors have enjoyed visiting and chatting with her.

Our next community is the picturesque Moser River where all are welcome. It is nestled along our beautiful Eastern Shore and offers a seaside park where the children can play while mom and dad relax and enjoy the placid charm of the ocean meeting the shore. Mr. Speaker, I tell you from personal experience that when help is required, one phone call sets the

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community in motion. This is very typical of the Eastern Shore communities - neighbour helping neighbour.

Many communities along the shore have a heavily-based senior population. They have worked and helped build the communities we now enjoy. They deserve our respect and appreciation and it therefore gives me great pleasure to have this government recognize their investment and commit to helping seniors remain in their homes and in the communities they love.

As we travel west, one can stop in and visit some of the mini-communities that line the Eastern Shore - East and West Quoddy, Harrington Cove, Mitchell Bay, Ostrea Lake and the Petpeswicks, just to name a few. We continue along the quiet road through Port Dufferin where many local events are held at the Balcom Centre. A few minutes later we crest a hill surrounded by woods and country homes. We enter the community of Sheet Harbour.

Mr. Speaker, Sheet Harbour is located approximately 110 kilometres east of Halifax and is testimony to how communities on the Eastern Shore can develop and thrive. It is recognized as an excellent area in which to do business. The residents are eager and capable of developing new business and bringing growth to existing businesses. An example of this is how we have diversified and changed with the times, such as moving on from the building of traditional wood hull boats to the now fibreglass hull boats that are being sold all over the world from such communities as Sober Island, Ship Harbour, Owl's Head and Tangier.

[10:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that we can credit the past Progressive Conservative Government for having the foresight to invest in the offshore gas from which Nova Scotia is now reaping the benefits. The past Progressive Conservatives also had the vision to build a state-of-the-art facility and port on the west side of Sheet Harbour, a port that boasts deep water and an ice-free path. It is indeed an economic opportunity waiting to explode. It has a potential to and will benefit all Nova Scotians.

The Sheet Harbour port has the potential to attract great economic growth through shipping. It is a prime location and provides an opportunity for businesses to import and export goods. The prospect for employment is high. Two industries, Mr. Speaker, that have already realized the importance and capabilities of this port are the Shaw Group, a company that provided coated pipes for the pipeline off the offshore gas project and Northern Fibre that exports wood chips to Japan. As MLA, I would like to express my appreciation to the Shaw Group and Northern Fibre for taking a chance on Sheet Harbour and now reaping the financial gains. I send a world-wide invitation for companies to make such a bold move and invest in Sheet Harbour. You will not be disappointed.

[Page 1341]

Also, Mr. Speaker, at this moment, a project involving the federal government in the 111 dredging program is in effect at this location. The potential for doing business is unlimited. Along with this, we have two other industrial facilities located in Musquodoboit and Chezzetcook that provide opportunity for new business within the riding.

I am very pleased that the Throne Speech recognizes the crucial need for infrastructure to promote growth, especially in rural areas. It is encouraging indeed. Such a statement assures Nova Scotians that we are listening and taking note of what each riding has to offer, not only for the benefit of a community nor a riding but the benefit for our entire province.

Still within the Sheet Harbour area, we have the majestic Sheet Harbour Falls in East River. East River was once so heavily laden with salmon that local anglers could fork them out of the rivers. I am pleased to tell you that the local wildlife association is undertaking the task to bring back the salmon as they once were in this beautiful river.

Of course, tourism is a major industry on the Eastern Shore. We have many tourist attractions. I am sure most of you have heard and maybe even participated in the Clam Harbour Sand Castle and Sculpture Contest. This event draws several thousand people each year with many visiting from out of province. I invite all of you to attend this spectacular event next August. Perhaps each Party can appoint a team to design and construct their own sand sculpture.

AN HON. MEMBER: You're on.

MR. DOOKS: Thank you. Our riding offers a wide variety of activities from bird watching at the beautiful Taylor Head Beach Provincial Park to visiting the MacPhee House Museum in Sheet Harbour. From sea kayaking to supervised swimming at the exquisite Martinique Beach that boasts a three kilometre sand beach, from wilderness hiking trails to world-class surfing at the Lawrencetown Beach, from leisurely walking trails at Musquodoboit Harbour to Gibraltar Rock Trail to stepping back in time at the Fisherman's Life Museum and walking trail in Jeddore, a community where my father was born and raised and now I reside.

In Musquodoboit Harbour we find the Railroad Museum that sees over 10,000 visitors every year and moving on to Lawrencetown, one can visit the MacDonald House to enjoy a cup of tea and brush up on local history. One also can visit the Acadian community of Chezzetcook that is rich in heritage and deep in culture. It is an old community that is committed to keeping its culture alive through festivals and concerts. As we travel through, we can visit studios of local artists.

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A major project that is in the development stages is Memory Lane. This development will take place in Lake Charlotte and will offer visitors a look into the past through the reconstruction of old buildings and mills, et cetera. The proposal sat idle for a number of years until this government recognized the potential and supported it.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that the Speech from the Throne not only recognizes the growth in tourism due to the perseverance and dedication of the people, but also the importance of this industry, so much so that the Premier saw fit to establish a separate Department of Tourism and Culture. (Applause)

The Eastern Shore riding also has a number of fish plants in operation. We have a number of fishing villages, Three Fathom Harbour, Little Harbour, East and West Jeddore to name just a few. These operations and plants are booming businesses that are owned and operated by family units who employ many others in the communities. Looking at the exterior, one may think, no big deal; however behind those doors is an active, energetic and knowledgeable management and staff who operate a business that deals with people the world over.

The people of the Eastern Shore are of an adventurous and entrepreneurial spirit continually developing ideas for new businesses. They are considered small business, but what they provide is not small - employment opportunities for residents, summer employment for students and a service to the community and visitors. In the past, many ideas never came to fruition because of the difficulties one had to go through, red tape. I am very pleased that this government will rebuild our economy, "by freeing the business environment of unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles".

It is very important that I speak out about the forest in my riding. It provides a serene and untouched beauty that is enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. Two such communities where many have established cottages and camps are Mooseland and Mushaboom. They are superb locations for the avid outdoorsperson. The forest provides firewood and material for homes, with those who live here holding a great respect for and learning how to manage the property. At this time we are promoting proper use of this natural resource.

Mr. Speaker, I tell you of a desire for industry in the riding I represent, and I am very vocal in lobbying for infrastructure to support such industry. Once again, infrastructure does not only boost industry, but residential growth as well. I have witnessed this first-hand in the Lawrencetown, Porters Lake, Chezzetcook, Gaetz Brook areas with the construction of Highway No. 107 to that point.

I referred earlier to people caring for people, and under this category falls two topics: First, our riding is fortunate to have 11 of the best volunteer fire departments. They are made up of many dedicated men and women who give of their time to make our communities safe; and second, home care. In this day and age health care is very important. On the Eastern

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Shore we are very involved in the Home Care Program and it is indeed a major concern for everyone.

Mr. Speaker, I know this government is on the right path, a path cleared for the people by addressing the nursing shortage. This government recognized that more nurses will not necessarily solve the nursing problem, but that the answer in part lies within providing a "rewarding professional environment". It is encouraging that this government tells us it will not get caught up in bureaucracy. I believe there are times when we must refer to the past to solve problems in the present such as in replacing the regional boards with the people who live and work in the hospitals and communities.

Mr. Speaker, another resource Nova Scotia has lies within our youth. They are our future leaders and we must prepare them to be knowledgeable, educated individuals who are an asset to society. Every student should have access to post-secondary education. When a student achieves a higher level of education, not only she or he benefits, but we all benefit. It is important that government and society in general feel a responsibility to encourage and support further education. Let us all ensure all students that they have every right to continue on this path of higher learning. They are tomorrow.

As this government stated so eloquently, it is time government started looking at education as an investment in our future, rather than simply as a cost to government. The commitment of the present government to develop a code of conduct for students and teachers that will recognize and support a respectful and healthy learning environment is indicative of this government's commitment to education in Nova Scotia. If we want the best, we must offer the best.

I am most pleased that the Progressive Conservative Government recognizes not only those students who wish to attend universities, but also those who wish to pursue vocational trades. Our youth are valuable in all fields and are necessary to make Nova Scotia a whole, responsible and prosperous province. To one of my favourite and wisest teachers, my Uncle Maurice, many thanks.

Mr. Speaker, finally, I am very pleased to support the Speech from the Throne and I am very proud of the tough decisions that are being made with strength and confidence. I ask God to guide us as we meet, debate and make decisions that will affect many lives. I thank God for the strength and wisdom and understanding that has allowed me to be here today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Premier and my colleagues for joining me on a journey through the riding I am so proud of, the Eastern Shore.

To summarize, we have a safe, clean environment in which to do business and raise one's family. The Eastern Shore is waiting to be utilized and it is clear that my constituents have elected a Progressive Conservative member to be a part of change. As I conclude, I ask that we all take a moment to comprehend a true sense of what we are privileged to do; allow

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yourselves to feel what this building represents. We are continuing the representation of the people of Nova Scotia, just as our forefathers did in this historic building, where they roam the halls. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member like to move adjournment on debate?

MR. DOOKS: Yes, I would.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 11:00 a.m. The House will sit until 6:00 p.m. At that time, we will adjourn and have the CPA Annual Meeting. The business for tomorrow will be the daily routine, followed by Question Period, followed by Supply and, if there is time remaining, we will debate the Throne Speech.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned until 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 11:00 p.m.]