Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Thur., Nov. 4, 1999

First Session

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Environ. - Cranberry/Wildwood Lakes: Future - Protect,
Mr. D. Dexter 1500
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Psychiatric Facilities Review Board, Hon. R. Russell 1500
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 478, Sports - Hall of Fame (N.S.): Inductees (1999) - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Purves 1500
Vote - Affirmative 1501
Res. 479, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - MADD: Project Red Ribbon
Campaign - Recognize, Hon. G. Balser 1501
Vote - Affirmative 1502
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 15, Public Prosecutions Act, Hon. M. Baker 1502
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 480, Justice (Can.) - Supreme Court (Can.): Chief Justice -
Hon. Beverley McLachlin-App't. Congrats., Mr. R. MacLellan 1502
Vote - Affirmative 1503
Res. 481, Health - Revenues Increase: User Fees - Exclusion Assure,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 1503
Res. 482, Educ. - Kentville: Red Door (Youth Counselling & Med. Serv.) -
Applaud, Mr. M. Parent 1504
Vote - Affirmative 1504
Res. 483, Devco - Central Shops: Retention - Action (Premier) Urge,
Mr. D. Wilson 1504
Res. 484, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - MADD: Project Red Ribbon
Campaign - Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 1505
Vote - Affirmative 1506
Res. 485, DFO - SW N.S.: Emergency Helicopter - Retain,
Mr. C. O'Donnell 1506
Res. 486, Educ. - Holy Angels HS (Sydney): Culture Skills &
Entrepreneurship Prog. - Congrats., Mr. Manning MacDonald 1507
Vote - Affirmative 1507
Res. 487, Justice - IBM Program: Cartoon (C.H.[04/11/99]) Negate -
Remind (Premier & Min.), Mr. H. Epstein 1507
Res. 488, Health - All Saints Hospital (Springhill): Isabel Simpson
(Springhill) - Volunteerism Congrats., The Speaker
(by Mr. B. Taylor) 1508
Vote - Affirmative 1509
Res. 489, Health - S. Shore Reg. Hosp. Auxiliary: Voluntary
Contribution - Acknowledge, Mr. D. Downe 1509
Vote - Affirmative 1509
Res. 490, U.S. Navy - Blue Angels Flying Team: Crew Tragedy -
Condolences Send, Mr. D. Dexter 1509
Vote - Affirmative 1510
Res 491, Question Period - Ministers: Answers Full - Demand,
Mr. D. Wilson 1510
Res. 492, Sports - Soccer (Sir John A. Macdonald Team): Gillian
MacLean (Rising Star) - Recognition Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 1511
Vote - Affirmative 1511
Res. 493, Min. Stats.: Adequate Notice - Provide,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 1512
Res. 494, Justice - FOI: Communications (Premier-Min.) - Improve,
Mr. H. Epstein 1512
Res. 495, Sports - Soccer (NSSAF W. Reg. Div. 3 Boys):
New Germany RHS - Champs Congrats., Mr. D. Downe 1513
Vote - Affirmative 1513
Res. 496, Exco - Housing (Min.-Former [Hon. John Chataway]):
Answers (Landlord) - Awaited, Mr. J. Pye 1514
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 216, Econ. Dev. - Shearwater: Purchase - Date, Mr. R. MacLellan 1515
No. 217, Health - Dep. Min.: Wage Scale (MCP) - Non-Application
(Dr. T. Ward), Mr. Robert Chisholm 1517
No. 218, Econ. Dev.: Assistance (Rural & C.B.) - Policy,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 1518
No. 219, Exco - Admin. (N.S.): Expenditure - Record, Mr. D. Dexter 1519
No. 220, Exco: Code of Conduct - Introduction (1999),
Mr. R. MacLellan 1520
No. 221, Health : Dep. Min. - Duties (Dr. T. Ward), Mr. Robert Chisholm 1521
No. 222, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Antigonish: Bypass Route - Decision,
Mr. P. MacEwan 1522
No. 223, Health - Revenues Increase: User Fees - Reject, Mr. D. Dexter 1523
No. 224, Educ. - P3 Schools: Canning Site - Verification, Mr. W. Gaudet 1524
No. 225, Devco - Coal Leases: Promise - Renege, Mr. F. Corbett 1526
No. 226, Housing & Mun. Affs. - CBRM: Property Assessments -
Increase, Mr. R. MacKinnon 1527
No. 227, Agric. - AIDAP: Monies (N.S.) - Advance,
Mr. John MacDonell 1528
No. 228, Housing & Mun. Affs. - HST: Municipalities - Removal
Downloading, Mr. B. Boudreau 1529
No. 229, WCAT - Environmental Illness: Compensation - Assurance,
Mr. H. Epstein 1530
No. 230, Justice - Kaufman Report: Recommendations -
Involvement (Min.), Mr. M. Samson 1531
No. 231, Fish. - Seniors: Licences - Exempt, Mr. John MacDonell 1533
No. 232, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Marine Atl. HQ.: North Sydney -
Jobs, Mr. B. Boudreau 1534
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. M. Samson 1535
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1540
Mr. B. Barnet 1544
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1548
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:18 P.M. 1549
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:00 P.M. 1549
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Devco & C.B. Coal Industry - Abandonment (Gov't. [N.S.]):
Mr. D. Wilson 1550
Mr. F. Corbett 1553
Hon. E. Fage 1557
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 6:30 P.M. 1559
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:48 P.M. 1560
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 321, Fin. - Expenditure Add.: Health/Labour/Transportation/
Technology & Science/Restructuring - Approval, Hon. N. LeBlanc 1560
Hon. N. LeBlanc 1560
Mr. J. Holm 1561
Mr. Manning MacDonald 1562
Hon. N. LeBlanc 1563
Vote - Affirmative 1563
Res. 322, Fin. - Expenditure Add.: Education/Debt. Serv./ Health/
Benefit Plans - Approval, Hon. N. LeBlanc 1564
Hon. N. LeBlanc 1564
Vote - Affirmative 1564
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1564
Mrs. M. Baillie 1566
Mr. D. Dexter 1576
Adjourned debate 1579
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Nov. 5th at 9:00 a.m. 1579

[Page 1499]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 1999

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The subject for the late debate tonight was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton West:

Therefore be it resolved that Premier John Hamm has abandoned Devco and the Cape Breton coal industry.

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

The honourable Minister of Economic Development on an introduction.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to call the attention of the members to the gallery opposite. Today we have two visitors with us, two members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving: Geraldine Dedrick, President of the Halifax Chapter of MADD; and a resident of my own riding, Gail Thibault, President of the Digby Chapter of MADD.

This week, of course, marks the start of MADD's Red Ribbon Campaign and I think each member has a ribbon on their desk and we hope that they will display that prominently. We applaud the members of MADD's efforts to ensure that the public is made aware of this issue and I would ask the members of the House to extend their welcome to the two representatives. (Applause)

1499

[Page 1500]

MR. SPEAKER: We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the following petition from 90 residents of Cranberry or Wildwood Lake watershed area of Dartmouth who wish to protect the health and future of Cranberry Lake and its watershed. The operative part of the petition asks that the minister, " . . . will request his staff to review this issue and take whatever action that is needed to correct this situation as quickly as possible before further lake contamination, sedimentation and or significant flooding occurs.". I have affixed my signature to the face of the document.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Psychiatric Facilities Review Board for April 1, 1998 to March 31, 1999 and that is in accordance with legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 478

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

Whereas on October 28th, the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame inducted its 1999 members; and

[Page 1501]

Whereas the Halifax Ladies Arcade Softball Team, Mike Henderson, Duncan Gillis, Dave Downey, Mike MacPhee, Bob Boucher, Pat Connolly and John MacGlasnon received this distinguished honour; and

Whereas sport is an integral and valued component of our heritage;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the 1999 inductees to the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame and their families for their outstanding contribution to sport and to the province.

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 Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 479

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

Whereas drinking and driving causes serious and often fatal accidents; and

Whereas there are many ways for people to celebrate special occasions and get home safely; and

Whereas in the next two months there will be increased celebrations leading into the new year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize Mothers Against Drunk Driving's Project Red Ribbon Campaign whereby drivers display a red ribbon on their vehicle in support of sober driving.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 1502]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 15 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 21 of the Acts of 1990. The Public Prosecutions Act. (Hon. Michael Baker)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 480

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

Whereas yesterday the Prime Minister announced that Beverley McLachlin will replace Antonio Lamer as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada; and

Whereas Beverley McLachlin becomes the first woman to hold this distinguished post; and

Whereas Beverley McLachlin is a distinguished jurist, well known for her strong work ethic and her balanced approach to judicial issues;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations to Beverley McLachlin on her historic appointment and wish her every success as she leads the Supreme Court into the new millennium.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 1503]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 481

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

Whereas the Health Department snatched a new deputy minister out from under the noses of the QE II administration for the princely sum of $187,000 annually, more than double the salary of almost all other deputy ministers; and

Whereas the Minister of Health commented yesterday that if the new deputy accomplishes all they have planned for him, he will be worth every dollar, whether he reduces expenditures or increases revenues; and

Whereas the minister also gave a nervous denial when a reporter asked whether increased revenues means the advent of user fees for health care;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister assure this House that measures to increase revenues in the health care system will not include user fees for Nova Scotians, especially increased Pharmacare premiums.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

[Page 1504]

RESOLUTION NO. 482

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

Whereas the Red Door, a youth counselling and medical services centre located in the Town of Kentville, provides essential services and support to students in the community of Kentville; and

Whereas satellite offices of the Red Door have opened at the Central Kings High School, West Kings High School and most recently Horton High School; and

Whereas Ms. Janice Dempsey, a registered nurse with an acute care background has recently been hired to provide in-house nursing care at these three satellite offices;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature applaud the hard work and commitment to our youth that is so clearly demonstrated by all who provide these essential services to the students of Central Kings, West Kings and Horton High.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 483

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

Whereas the Devco central shops are a vital asset for the continued operation of Devco's remaining operations; and

Whereas the shops save the corporation countless dollars in repair work that cannot be contracted out at a cheaper rate; and

[Page 1505]

Whereas the 45 employees ineligible for pension have been notified that the axe may fall on the Devco shops at the end of this year, one full year before they were supposed to close;

[12:15 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that this House strongly urge the Premier to take immediate action so that the Devco central shops remain open, as they play a valuable role in Devco's coal operations.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 484

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

Whereas last evening at Halifax City Hall, the Mothers Against Drunk Driving kicked off their Red Ribbon Campaign by hosting a MADD Mocktail Party which I was privileged enough to attend with a number of my past students; and

Whereas MADD reminds us all that on average 4.5 Canadians are killed and 125 Canadians are injured daily in alcohol-related crashes; and

Whereas Project Red Ribbon aims to raise awareness of these startling statistics;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate MADD with wishes of best luck in their campaign and that all members of this House place a red ribbon on their car antennae in support of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 1506]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 485

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

Whereas the federal Liberal Government remains steadfast in its refusal to stop the transfer of the Coast Guard-based Search and Rescue helicopter to Dartmouth; and

Whereas politics from all sides should be placed on the back burner on this issue because the lives of fishermen could be at stake; and

Whereas the Search and Rescue helicopter based in Yarmouth can respond exceptionally fast in the time of dire emergencies aboard fishing boats situated off of southwestern Nova Scotia, and in no way, shape, or form be permitted to transfer to Dartmouth;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature recognize the significant importance such a decision would have on southwestern Nova Scotia and the disastrous consequences that could result if the federal government refuses to change its policy concerning the transfer of the Search and Rescue helicopter from southwestern Nova Scotia to Dartmouth.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 1507]

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 486

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

Whereas Holy Angels High School students showed how music and culture are integral parts of the community during a luncheon for business and community leaders at the Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club Wednesday; and

Whereas Sander Matheson and Gary Walsh, teachers at Holy Angels, are taking part in a pilot program offered to only three schools in the province by the Department of Education; and

Whereas the project encourages the 30 students in the program to develop their cultural skills and entrepreneurship together;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all those involved in the program at Holy Angels and urge that this program be continued and expanded throughout Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 487

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

Whereas today in The Chronicle Herald, the Premier is depicted as Crusty the Clown from the Simpsons show; and

[Page 1508]

Whereas this cartoon mocks the Premier's stand on hiring Black and Aboriginal law students at law firms in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this cartoon should have also depicted the Minister of Justice as Crusty's companion, Sideshow Mike;

Therefore be it resolved that this House remind Crusty John and Sideshow Mike that Nova Scotia is not a cartoon strip where they can feebly blunder about looking for their next punchline. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 488

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

Whereas Isabel Simpson, of Springhill, who recently celebrated her 99th birthday has served on many volunteer organizations; and

Whereas Isabel will be honoured by a new volunteer award to be given each year in her name for her efforts pertaining to such organizations as the All Saints Hospital Foundation, the Springhill Heritage Society and the Springhill Cancer Society; and

Whereas on November 19, 1999, Isabel will be recognized for her many contributions at a dinner to be held in her honour, with the first recipient of this award to be named at that time;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Isabel Simpson on her commitment to All Saints Hospital, her community of Springhill and all of Nova Scotia, and wish her all the best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1509]

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. 489

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

Whereas the South Shore Regional Hospital Auxiliary volunteers operate The Gift Shop in the hospital and The Daisy, a nearly new clothing store; and

Whereas on November 26th, The Gift Shop will hold its annual Christmas Sale; and

Whereas to date this year, the South Shore Regional Hospital Auxiliary membership have volunteered an incredible 105,215 hours of their time for The Daisy;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the outstanding voluntary contribution of the membership of the South Shore Regional Hospital Auxiliary and extend its best wishes for a successful Christmas Sale on November 26th.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 490

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

[Page 1510]

Whereas the people of Nova Scotia had the opportunity to see and enjoy the United States Navy Blue Angels flying team at the Shearwater Air Show this summer past; and

Whereas the Blue Angels undertake spectacular but dangerous flying manoeuvres; and

Whereas recently the Blue Angels team suffered the loss of a crew in a tragic and fatal crash;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House send its condolences and sympathy to the families and friends of the Blue Angels team.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 491

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

Whereas when members of the Opposition ask questions in this House, they are asking on behalf of all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the members of the Treasury benches have taken to responding to the peoples' questions with smug replies and glib yes and no responses; and

Whereas it is clearly unacceptable that the government members refuse to answer the legitimate questions of all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House demand that government ministers answer questions in full, so they best represent the kind of open government they claim to represent.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 1511]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 492

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

Whereas young people involved with athletics continue to amaze me with their enthusiasm and positive approach; and

Whereas Gillian MacLean, a Grade 10 striker on the Sir John A. Macdonald Soccer Team , was recently featured as, The Rising Star, in the Daily News High School page; and

Whereas Gillian is a graduate of Brookside Junior High where she received the prestigious scholar-athlete award;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to Gillian MacLean on this recognition with wishes of good luck in her future endeavours.

I ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

[Page 1512]

RESOLUTION NO. 493

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

Whereas members of the government have gained a reputation for ignoring the past good practices of this Legislature by not giving suitable advance notice with regard to ministerial statements; and

Whereas at approximately 2:30 p.m., the Liberal Caucus was notified of a Health ministerial statement, well after the statement was read in the House; and

Whereas this incident is just the latest in a series of mistakes that show poor organization at best, and a lack of respect for the House at worst;

Therefore be it resolved that this House demand the government show more respect for this House and its members by giving adequate notice of ministerial statements.

I would ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 494

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

Whereas last week in this House, the Premier stated he wanted to, "close the loophole" in the Freedom of Information Act that led to his office disclosing information to the Minister of Human Resources; and

Whereas yesterday, the Minister of Justice introduced amendments to this Act which did not close this loophole; and

[Page 1513]

Whereas it appears that Crusty John and Sideshow Mike seem to be having a communication problem;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recommend to the Premier and the Minister of Justice that it is time to turn off this comedy of the Hammsons and talk to each other before blundering their way through another debacle.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 495

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation's Western Region Division 3 Soccer Championships were held October 23rd at Cornwallis District High School; and

Whereas many teams from Nova Scotia's South Shore competed in this tournament, including Shelburne and New Germany; and

Whereas the New Germany Rural High School Boys Soccer Team won this tournament for the second year in a row;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations to the New Germany Rural High School Boys Soccer Team for their participation in and performance at this event.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

[Page 1514]

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

Whereas yesterday in this House the Minister of Health seemed to be completely in the dark over the terms and conditions for hiring the new Deputy Minister of Health; and

Whereas the Minister of Health had no idea that his new Deputy Minister had practically been stolen out from under the QE II; and

Whereas the Minister of Health could offer no answers at all to these questions other than to say that it is the Premier's office that hires deputy ministers;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health reveal to this House information on the hiring of the new Deputy Minister of Health, soon, very soon.

MR. SPEAKER: I rule that motion out of order because of the use of the word "stolen".

AN HON. MEMBER: No, he said, almost.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, it is ruled out of order.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 496

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

Whereas when the Premier was dismissing the then Minister of Housing he said we would have all the answers around this issue, "soon, very soon"; and

Whereas the Premier yesterday said in this House that we would have his government's plan on a program to prevent smoking by our youth, "soon, very soon"; and

Whereas "soon, very soon" seems to be a reoccurring theme with this Premier when he can't or won't answer questions in this House;

Therefore be it resolved that in the eyes of this member, "soon, very soon" seems to take an awful long time, particularly in the case of the former Minister of Housing where we have now been waiting for over a month for answers on the question of the former minister being an absent-minded landlord.

[Page 1515]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: It is 12:28 p.m., we will finish at 1:28 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

ECON. DEV. - SHEARWATER: PURCHASE - DATE

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. As chance would have it, it was exactly one year ago today that the now Premier and then Leader of the Third Party asked me why the government wouldn't be insisting that the federal government turn over land at Shearwater for $1.00. That position has changed with the now Premier, but I did give him my undertaking that I would support that purchase if the Premier fulfilled the two conditions of getting a right of first refusal and access to the water. On Tuesday, the Premier said that he felt that this deal could be reached by next month. Now there is a meeting later this month. What makes the Premier think that the federal government is going to agree to those conditions by next month?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition Party knows that negotiations have been going on well over a year, and that 22 of 24 conditions have been met. Two very important conditions, important to the province, have yet to be met. I believe that there is a desire by both parties to bring this to a conclusion. Those who are doing the negotiations have come to the conclusion that we are very close to having a deal or not having a deal. That is what allows me to say to you that I believe that by Christmas that it is reasonable to conclude that a decision will be made.

[Page 1516]

[12:30 p.m.]

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I say respectfully to the Premier that we have to have a deal. We cannot allow this property, this valuable piece of real estate, to fall into the hands of self-seekers, to the detriment of the people of the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACLELLAN: I would say to the Premier, private interests will not fulfil what we need. The Premier met with Donnie Cameron.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the member ask the question, please.

MR. MACLELLAN: What has Donald Cameron got to do with the negotiation of the purchase of this Shearwater property?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Cameron, former Premier Cameron, said to me, it is in the interest of the province to purchase Shearwater and he said I hope you are pursuing it. That is exactly the same advice that I got from this former Premier.

MR. MACLELLAN: I would hope, Mr. Speaker, that the Premier is not talking about this deal with a lot of Progressive Conservative business people because it is in the interest of the province to go and demand from the federal government that this sale take place, these two parcels with those conditions.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACLELLAN: The province needs it if the federal government leaves Shearwater.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Would the member ask the question, please.

MR. MACLELLAN: Will he undertake to do that and insist that the province have the right of first refusal, access to the water on any lands that the federal government may sell at the Shearwater base?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Liberal Party seems to have two positions. Number one is we have to have a deal and number two, that we have to satisfy the two conditions. Now if we satisfy the two conditions, we will have a deal.

[Page 1517]

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

HEALTH - DEP. MIN.: WAGE SCALE (MCP) -

NON-APPLICATION (DR. T. WARD)

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier, all civil servants in management positions, including deputy ministers, are paid according to a wage scale called the Management Compensation Pay Plan or MCP. The MCP is approved by Cabinet and the last revision was approved on April 1, 1999. I will table that document when I am through my questions. The Cabinet approved absolutely positively the top salary for a civil servant at $104,895.44. I want to ask the Premier, can he explain why the Cabinet-approved Civil Service wage scale applies to everyone except the most recent acquisition of the Deputy Minister of Health for the Department of Health?

THE PREMIER: I believe the member opposite understands that we could not continue to go on having musical chairs in the deputy minister's office. The member opposite knows that we have had eight deputy ministers in six years. The member opposite knows that it is a daunting task for the Deputy Minister of Health in this province, and the member opposite knows that we need a person who can do the job and we were in competition to get that person and we have remunerated that person commensurate with the expertise and the ability that we perceive he has to do the job.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to the Premier. I want to ask him to confirm something for me, that in fact the deal with this new Deputy Minister of Health involves an annual salary of $187,000, $55,000 for moving expenses, $50,000 for housing costs to get set up . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: . . . $12,000 for incidentals for a grand total of $304,000. Would the Premier confirm that in fact that is what this government is paying for this new Deputy Minister of Health?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, yesterday in Question Period I agreed that as soon as the contract was totally finalized it would be made public and you will have those details.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Soon, very soon. Mr. Speaker, there are other senior civil servants that are being searched for by the Province of Nova Scotia, Education is one and senior civil servants in the Department of Health. Clearly this government has set a benchmark. I want to ask the Premier if he would explain the message that he is sending out to all Nova Scotians about the price that he is willing to pay to get senior civil servants in the Province of Nova Scotia, is this the message that he is sending to Nova Scotians?

[Page 1518]

THE PREMIER: The message that we are sending to Nova Scotians is that we have searched for and found a Deputy Minister of Health that is going to be able to work with us and to work with all members within that department to provide a cost-efficient Department of Health, providing a service in which all Nova Scotians have confidence.

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

ECON. DEV.: ASSISTANCE (RURAL & C.B.) - POLICY

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. The Premier has repeatedly told the people of Nova Scotia that their input into government policy would be listened to. Last night at the Halifax-Dartmouth Chamber of Commerce dinner, after-dinner speaker, Cris Worthington took the opportunity to give this government his opinion on rural economic development. In his comments, Worthington referred to rural Nova Scotia and Cape Breton as a hinterland, saying that no more government dollars should go to the hinterland and that efforts should be concentrated in Halifax.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Premier, does the Premier appreciate such advice from after-dinner speaker, Cris Worthington, or will he send a clear message to the people of Cape Breton and rural Nova Scotia that this kind of advice will be rejected?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I know the member opposite realizes I wasn't at the dinner last night. I was at UNSM. I wasn't aware of those remarks, but if what the member has reported is an accurate synopsis of what was said, I will certainly be very pleased if the member opposite, when he returns to Cape Breton, will say to all Cape Bretoners that this government is committed to building a new economy in Cape Breton, and this government will in fact listen to what Cape Bretoners are saying. (Applause)

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that comment is nothing short of laughable, from the Premier. We haven't seen any evidence of anything happening in that regard. (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: Does that mean that you are not going to take that message back?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: No. I am not taking that message back. What I would like to ask the Premier (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, it is obvious . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

[Page 1519]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: . . . that the position taken by this government in the last election campaign to divide Nova Scotians has caught on. The comments made last night is just the beginning of old-time Tory politics in which the privileged use the government to set their own agenda.

Will the Premier, once and for all, provide real leadership and distance himself from the kind of self-serving politics demonstrated at last night's Halifax-Dartmouth Chamber of Commerce dinner?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I don't care to get into a debate about what was said last night. I wasn't there, I didn't see any reporting of the speech. What I can say to the member opposite is that we remain committed to each and every Nova Scotian, metro and rural, right across this province, whether they live in Yarmouth or Cape Breton. We will bring forth policies that are fair to each and every Nova Scotian. (Applause)

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the clapping opposite, when I asked my first question and I mentioned Mr. Worthington's name, the honourable member for Preston clapped. He thinks it is funny, Mr. Speaker, that a gentleman like this is down on rural Nova Scotia and, particularly, Cape Breton Island. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: My supplementary question is to the Premier. Mr. Speaker, will the Premier stand in this House and give a commitment to the people of rural Nova Scotia and Cape Breton that he will contact the chamber and express his displeasure about the comments made by Mr. Worthington?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I will commit to do is to find out exactly what was said.

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

EXCO - ADMIN. (N.S.): EXPENDITURE - RECORD

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, during the last election campaign this Premier travelled the province and talked repeatedly about the need to minimize administrative costs in the health care system. His government's first big health care decision was to eliminate the regional health boards without a plan to replace them. His government's second big health care decision was to pole vault over the Nova Scotia record for administrative salaries by paying $304,000 for a new Deputy Minister of Health. My question to the Premier, can the Premier explain why anyone should believe what he said on the campaign trail now that he holds the Nova Scotia record for spending on administration?

[Page 1520]

THE PREMIER: The member opposite obviously does not share a concern that this Party has and this government has for the current state of the health care system. We realize that we have to get the very best person that we can attract into the deputy minister's chair. We have done that.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this government chose the paramedics as the first group of public servants that they would take on. The government put the paramedics out on strike last week because they wanted to keep the lid on a few bucks of retroactive pay. Now this government says $304,000 for a Deputy Minister of Health is not too much. My question to the Premier is this, why should the paramedics not believe that this government needed to keep their pay low so it could afford the record breaking contract for the deputy minister?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it would appear that the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour is not impressed with fair bargaining. He was not impressed when, in fact, a resolution at the negotiating table is not achieved, that it go to binding arbitration, a position that is supported by the Federation of Labour, an organization that has a very close relationship with that Party.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, you know, paramedics are not the only ones asking questions. This government will spend $600,000 to put some lights on a bridge. They will cut $700,000 from people with disabilities. They will take $2.2 million from a charity trust fund. My final question to the Premier is simple, why are this government's priorities so screwed up?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this government has a priority and it is to put this province back on its feet. It will do everything within its power to see that that is achieved. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before the next question, I would just like to remind the members to choose their words wisely, please, so I do not have to rule you out of order because it is unparliamentary. Thank you.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

EXCO: CODE OF CONDUCT - INTRODUCTION (1999)

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: My question is to the Premier. For some time now, the Premier has been saying that he is going to bring forward a code of conduct for the Executive Council and for his senior staff. In fact, The Chronicle-Herald on August 27th said that it would be brought forward very soon because the Premier had had a conversation about

[Page 1521]

values with his Cabinet. I want to ask the Premier, will he be bringing forward this code of conduct during this sitting of the Legislature?

THE PREMIER: Yes, you will see that before the House rises and it will be soon, very soon.

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. MACLELLAN: Did the Premier say that before we leave this sitting of the Legislature we will have the code of conduct and that it will be as the Premier promised and it will be brought forward and will be made available to everyone in the House?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Retroactive.

MR. MACLELLAN: Will it be made retroactive to cover a lot of the problems that some of the ministers have already had? (Laughter) Mr. Speaker, I would accept the Premier's pledge to do that before the House rises and I thank him for that.

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

HEALTH: DEP. MIN. - DUTIES (DR. T. WARD)

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to go to the Minister of Health on this question. Yesterday, the minister defended the high salary of our new $300,000 man by telling the media that he is confident we will recoup his salary many times over. However, the cost of our health care system will keep growing as demand on it increases. Either the minister is expecting the health care system to cost the province less or he expects Nova Scotians to pay more. I want to ask the Minister of Health if he believes he will get his money's worth out of this expensive deputy, what exactly has the deputy been asked to do?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, what we have asked the deputy to do is to help us to provide a health care system in Nova Scotia which is responsive and cost-effective.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Going for the answer to how they are going to do that, Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary to the minister is, this minister also told reporters yesterday that if the deputy minister does what we are going to ask him to do and he can deliver, yes, he is worth every penny he is going to get. I want to ask the minister, which health care services is this government planning to cut in order to pay our deputy minister's $304,000 salary?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, rather than give a yes or no thing to that, I have to take issue with his last statement because I have no idea whether that is accurate or inaccurate. Certainly, information hasn't been transmitted to me and the Premier answered that very well.

[Page 1522]

I hope that people don't take that as necessarily being fact. If that is part of the question, then I have answered it. However, we have a $1.7-plus billion budget. All programs are under review. We believe that there are a number of administrative efficiencies that can probably affect it in our department as well as in the health care services across the province. As the honourable member is well aware, we have a number of facility reviews that are ongoing now and as I have said time and time again, what we would like is to ensure that Nova Scotians are receiving first-class care in the most cost-effective facility.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary to the minister is he said yesterday that we will get our money's worth out of this new deputy as long as he carries out what the government asks him to do and I want to ask the minister if he would explain to Nova Scotians who are concerned about the signals this government is sending whether, in fact, this deputy minister has been brought in to cut and slash and reduce health care services in the Province of Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, to the Leader of an Opposition Party, I can say that our plan for health care was carefully planned and publicized in our so-called blue book and I refer him to his colleague, the member for Dartmouth North to pick it up. That does present the direction in which we are going. Obviously the deputy minister will be asked to help us implement the plan which we have explained to Nova Scotians and which was soundly endorsed back in July.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - ANTIGONISH:

BYPASS ROUTE - DECISION

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works. On Saturday, October 23rd, a large public meeting was held in Antigonish to discuss the proposed six-lane Trans Canada Highway re-routing around that town. The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, the MLA for Antigonish was invited to attend that meeting but we understand that he wasn't there. However, some 400 people were. Those present at that meeting overwhelmingly endorsed what is known as the blue route, and I have a copy here of the blue route which I would like to table, as being the most acceptable routing for this highway.

I am also reliably advised that on October 28th, the MLA for Antigonish and Mr. Brian MacLeod, a well-known strong Tory supporter and businessman from Antigonish, met at Province House with the Premier to convince the Premier that the red route was the acceptable route, and I have the red route here also to table.

[Page 1523]

MR. SPEAKER: Could I have the question please. Order, please.

MR. MACEWAN: My question to the minister would be, has the minister reached a decision yet with respect to the routing of this highway?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the question. I would tell him that the decision will be made very soon.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I have here in my hand a study conducted by Beasy Nicoll Engineering Ltd. in January 1999 for the Department of Transportation for the minister's urgent consideration which recommends Option 2B; namely, the blue route as the alignment location design and accessing scheme that would provide the greatest safety. So my supplementary question would be, why has the minister not accepted the result of this study, which I am about to table, and the overwhelming choice of the citizens of Antigonish, and recommend to Cabinet the blue route, Option 2B?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I, too, have a copy of that report and it is part of the many things that must be analysed before a decision is taken. We are reviewing the information that is being provided. We are looking at cost as well as environmental screening issues, as well as economic impact issues. So the decision will be made when it is appropriate to make that decision.

MR. MACEWAN: My final supplementary would be this, is the reason the minister is delaying his decision due to the fact that the Premier has interfered in the process at the request of the MLA for Antigonish, who has publicly endorsed the red route, considered the least safe of all the routes proposed?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member opposite that that decision has been pending for some time, I think in excess of three years it has been an issue. So we are looking at the information and we are going to make a decision based on the appropriate information.

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

HEALTH - REVENUES INCREASE: USER FEES - REJECT

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, back on October 13th, I asked the Premier if he intends to introduce user fees as a way of cutting the provincial health care spending. I would like to table his vague response in which he says only that his government has the ambition of creating a health care delivery system that the province can afford. Yesterday the Minister of Health said the government can afford the high salary of the new deputy minister because he will increase revenue in the health care system. So I would like to ask the minister,

[Page 1524]

what assurances can the minister give that the new deputy minister's to do list does not include increasing revenues by making Nova Scotians pay for their health care with user fees?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member might realize I was talking about increasing revenues. When I was asked for an example, one of the things that I cited was federal money coming in for particular projects and I think he neglected to mention that in his explanation of what I said. Clearly, he is asking me about budget things. I can say right now to the House that we have absolutely no intention right now of introducing user fees.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in the Throne Speech this government uses words like self-reliance and personal responsibility and they say that the responsibility for good health care rests with them. In other words, the people of Nova Scotia better get ready to open their wallets. I would like the minister to explain how Dr. Ward can increase federal transfers?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, along with other provincial and territorial Health Ministers, I met with the federal minister about a month ago in Charlottetown and there is some federal money that is available for specific projects. Some of these projects would be applicable to Nova Scotia and are needed here. We will be applying for federal assistance to get those things off the ground.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are now paying three times the normal amount for a Deputy Minister of Health. Of course, we may also be paying more for health care in general when the new deputy recoups his salary through cuts and, I will bet, user fees. This may make health care more affordable to government but it will be at the expense of the taxpayers. Will the minister explain what benchmarks he will use to determine whether the government and Nova Scotians have gotten their money's worth from this costly new deputy minister?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, we intend to deliver a responsive, responsible and cost-effective health care system, one which has the health care needs of Nova Scotians paramount. If we can deliver that system, then that would be a benchmark on which to rate the effectiveness of the new senior administrator in the health care system.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

EDUC. - P3 SCHOOLS: CANNING SITE - VERIFICATION

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, yesterday in this House I asked the Minister of Education about when she first found out that the original site for the P3 school in Canning was not available. The minister responded that it was last Thursday or Friday when she found out there were difficulties with the site. My question to the Minister of Education is, when a site is chosen to construct a school, does the Department of Education not request from the

[Page 1525]

contractor verification that the necessary arrangements have been made for the site and that the site is, indeed, available?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the former minister knows the answer to that question.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, he probably didn't. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. The honourable Minister of Education has the floor.

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, until last Thursday or Friday, as I said yesterday, everyone believed, the contractor believed, the department believed that everything was fine with the site. It was a surprise to us to find out that there was a problem with the site.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I find it very difficult to believe, considering the interest shown by the local communities with respect to the site selection for this particular school, that a firmer commitment to the site availability was not sought by the Department of Education.

My supplementary question to the minister is, did the Department of Education or the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board ask the contractor for a copy of the agreement of sale for the property in question?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I don't know the answer to that question and I would be quite happy to find out.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I have a serious concern that with a lease agreement worth millions of dollars that no one in the Department of Education would monitor the ongoing property negotiations leading up to the construction of this school. My final question to the minister is, with so much local controversy and provincial publicity concerning the selection of the site of this school, including several newspaper reports which I will table, I ask the minister once again, why, all of a sudden, is the chosen site no longer available?

[1:00 p.m.]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the chosen site is in dispute, is partially in dispute. The builder and the owner are still talking. This is not a huge problem; these site changes have happened before. It happened in the case of the Fall River school. There are several good sites still available in Canning or the Centreville area if this particular deal happens to fall through. There is no problem with a school site in that area.

[Page 1526]

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

DEVCO - COAL LEASES: PROMISE - RENEGE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Oh, there is the light. The light goes on, that is something that doesn't happen very often in this House. During the election, the Premier promised in Cape Breton he would go to bat for miners. In his blue book he indicated that he would pursue all options to obtain a fair package from Ottawa. Now the Premier says he won't use the coal leases to get a better deal. My question is why is the Premier going back on his word to the Cape Breton miners?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to finding a way to support the Cape Breton miners by making it as advantageous as possible for a privatized coal industry in Cape Breton. We will make every endeavour to see that that happens. (Applause)

MR. CORBETT: You say one thing now and another thing later on down the road. I quote from March 26th, when the now Premier stood in this House and tabled a petition with 22,000 signatures. It read, "WE, the undersigned, request that the Provincial Government not transfer any coal leases until such time that the Federal Government negotiates a strategy for the future of employees of the Cape Breton Development Corporation that provides satisfactory benefits to said employees, their families and our communities at large.".

Mr. Speaker, the Premier signed his name to that petition. I ask the Premier, why did you mislead miners by signing that petition?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite conveniently neglected to read, "I have signed this petition for tabling.". He conveniently left that out. What it says, going back to the petition, that we will negotiate, " . . . a strategy for the future of employees of the Cape Breton Development Corporation that provides satisfactory benefits to said employees, their families and our community at large.". We are doing that and we are doing that in making it advantageous for the best proposal to come forward to provide privatized coal mining in Cape Breton.

MR. CORBETT: Truly, talk is cheap. They have done nothing substantive since July 27th to help coal miners in Cape Breton; they have done nothing in that way. The Premier has always expressed his agreement with us on this side of the House that there needs to be an all-Party approach to Ottawa. Indeed, since taking power, he has moved forward with that commitment by putting together a committee. Why now have you adopted a position that you never publicly supported without consulting other Parties first?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has a very short memory. Since taking office, this government has personally spoken to the Prime Minister of Canada, we have had several conversations with the Nova Scotia representatives in the federal Cabinet,

[Page 1527]

and we have formed an all-Party committee to allow all Parties to have input and to put their shoulder to the wheel to provide a satisfactory resolution to the crisis in Cape Breton. It would appear that the member opposite is more interested in politics than he is in the workers in Cape Breton.

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

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS. - CBRM:

PROPERTY ASSESSMENTS - INCREASE

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs. The honourable minister has confirmed that property assessments in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality are based on fair market value. Given that, would the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs please explain to the residents of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality as to why their property assessments have increased substantially over the past several years despite shrinking property values?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for that question. The matter of municipal assessment is one which, as the honourable member is aware, takes place in a manner that it reflects the history of markets. What we are dealing with here, I believe, is a matter that is related to the history of the market.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, if that were the case then certainly the assessment should have reflected exactly what I have suggested, that the assessment should have been reduced. However, given the fact that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is facing a $10.3 million shortfall this year and their own projections over the next three years will show a shortfall of $25 million, would the honourable minister confirm whether he is prepared to put money on the table for the residents of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality rather than to see their assessments increased in a rather surreptitiously unpleasant fashion to obtain more money for the municipality.

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I again want to thank the honourable member for the question. I can indicate to him and to the House, sir, through you, that we will work very closely with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. Indeed, I am slated to meet with them in the near future and we will discuss, I am sure, many ways in which we may be of assistance with respect to dealing with this particular problem.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that several banking institutions have downgraded market values in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality while the assessments and taxes have gone up. His own colleague, the Minister of Community Services, has confirmed that the total contributory government allotment for the Cape Breton district for community services is well over $100 million, the single largest payroll in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

[Page 1528]

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Given that, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development, he has stated more than a month ago that they are preparing an economic development plan for the Cape Breton region, where is this plan, will he table it and when? I hope he does not say soon.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the issue of how best to address the economic issue in Cape Breton is one that has been at the forefront for some time. We are working within the department and using the committee that has currently been struck federally to get input as to how to move forward. We want to bring a plan forward that is truly going to be different. As we said before, so often in the past the plans have been stopgaps at best. So when we have a plan that we feel is appropriate and does, in fact, move forward in a positive way, we will bring it here for the members' consideration.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. - AIDAP: MONIES (N.S.) - ADVANCE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will direct my question through you to the Minister of Agriculture. Before I start, I want to thank the minister for some answers that were here today when I walked in, answers to questions from yesterday. The minister's statement on drought relief includes $700,000 allocated this year as the province's 40 per cent of the federal Agricultural Income Disaster Assistance Program. When this program was first announced in the spring, the federal government was picking up the tab for this year and Nova Scotia was picking up the bill for next year. The minister stated this as well in estimates.

My question for the minister, why are you allocating $700,000 as our province's share in a Program we are not supposed to be paying into this year?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: I want to thank the honourable member for his question. I have to come back to the principle of why the program was accelerated, Mr. Speaker. Due to the extensive drought conditions of the last three years, the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, who represents all farmers in Nova Scotia, requested that the program be accelerated from five years down to three years or whatever could be managed. So this is reflective of that. This is reflective of a five year program being compressed to a three year program so that there is $10 million available and $700,000 of this will go into that AIDA Program for income assistance, Mr. Speaker.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am curious as to why that wasn't made clear in the estimates. I have a little math quiz for the minister. Will the minister tell us if Nova Scotia's 40 per cent share is $700,000 this year and the federal government's share of the program is 60 per cent, what is the federal contribution this year?

[Page 1529]

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, again a good question from the member opposite. I come back to the principle of how much money is being accelerated and that is why there is $700,000. The federal portion of that program is actually allocated by the federal government, not the provincial portion, and it will be the $600,000 or whatever they have appropriated for this year; our appropriation will be the $700,000.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the federal share, if it is 60 per cent, should be $1.05 million. In the spring, they announced $7.5 million so if we take the difference in those amounts, I am wondering what is the amount that is going to be credited for programs already spent in the province for this year?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, the request on what will be spent or has already been allocated this year, and I don't understand the terminology of what he is requesting, again I will reiterate that the program is to spend $10 million accelerated in this year instead of the $4 million. The federal government will pay their portion of the AIDA Program, as it is called, and we will accelerate our portion as well into a three year program.

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

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS. - HST:

MUNICIPALITIES - REMOVAL DOWNLOADING

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs. Mr. Speaker, we have learned that nothing is safe from this government, not food banks and certainly not the disabled. One of the 243 Tory election promises was to stop downloading on municipal units and municipal governments. After listening to the Premier's speech last night at the UNSM at Pier 21, various councillors from various municipal units across the province expressed concern and I share that concern. My question is, would the minister agree that scrapping HST rebates to municipalities would, in effect, be a downloading of the provincial deficit on these municipal units?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question and I can say to the House, through you, sir, that the issue to which he refers is one which is under review, as are all government programs, and for him to anticipate the result of that review is perhaps a little premature.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, axing the rebate would force municipalities to raise taxes. As we are all aware, the UNSM is meeting this week in Halifax. Will the minister provide details of discussions he has had with municipal leaders about cutting their HST rebate to these units?

[Page 1530]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I am going to say to the honourable member that I have had discussions with the President of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and he has made his views very clear to me with respect to that issue.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, actually, just recently, the Tory MLA, the member for Preston, has said that he will vote against his own government to stop the elimination of the HST rebate to municipalities. (Interruptions) I applaud this member. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

MR. BOUDREAU: Hopefully, some of those other backbenchers will share some of the backbone that this member has indicated. (Interruptions) My question, Mr. Speaker, is can this minister give a guarantee to his caucus colleague and to the members of this House that the HST rebate to the municipalities will be exempt from Tory cutting and slashing?

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, again I want to thank the honourable member for the question. I can assure him that the honourable member for Preston is quite capable of taking care of himself. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

WCAT - ENVIRONMENTAL ILLNESS:

COMPENSATION - ASSURANCE

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Mr. Minister, on October 27th, I asked you a question with respect to test cases on proceeding through the workers' compensation system having to do with chronic pain. I would like to ask you today essentially the same question with respect to test cases having to do with environmental illness, also sometimes referred to as multiple chemical sensitivity. Will the minister give all of the claimants his government's guarantee that they will be paid if the test cases are successful?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, in reply to the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto, at the present time I was not aware that there were test cases going through for environmental sickness and like complaints. However, if indeed there are test cases going through, then I will give the same commitment as I gave for the other.

MR. EPSTEIN: Well, Mr. Speaker, the only commitment that I got from the minister with respect to chronic pain was that he would refer the matter to the Workers' Compensation Board. Now if that is the extent of the undertaking that the minister is prepared to give, I have to observe to him that we have had no response from the Workers'

[Page 1531]

Compensation Board at all since the minister referred it to them. I think the real question here is whether the minister is prepared to offer fairness to the workers who have suffered at Camp Hill Hospital? Will the minister undertake that they will be provided with services to help them preserve their rights?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the honourable member is not suggesting that I attempt to sway the policies and direction of the Workers' Compensation Board. As the honourable member is well aware, they are a board at arm's length from government. The best that I can do for the honourable member is to inquire of the Workers' Compensation Board as to whether or not those test cases will, if successful, cover the whole range of cases that are presently before the board.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the minister is saying, well, maybe this and maybe that, and yes but and what if. It is certainly the case that there might be individual variations in the situation of people but what we are really looking for here is some assurance that the cases of the individuals - and there are at least 200 people - that those cases will be similarly treated and given fair consideration by the board that he is ultimately responsible for, if the test cases are won. Now I don't see what's so difficult about that. Will the minister not offer some assurances to those individuals that technical objections to their cases will not be raised if the test cases are won?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I can say that I am sympathetic and I am fair. However, I cannot adjudicate on behalf of the Workers' Compensation Board. But what I can do is when Question Period is over, I will phone the Workers' Compensation Board and determine why I have not as yet received a response.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

JUSTICE - KAUFMAN REPORT:

RECOMMENDATIONS - INVOLVEMENT (MIN.)

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Nova Scotia. Earlier today the minister presented a bill that supposedly addressed the Kaufman Report on the Public Prosecution Service. While the Kaufman Report made 29 recommendations, this bill introduced today only legislates three of these recommendations. The minister indicated that many of the other recommendations were simply housekeeping measures and that he, unlike past Ministers of Justice, would be directly involved with public prosecution and would take care of them. My question is, what did the minister mean by this statement?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The question refers to the bill that was introduced. I believe the question is out of order. (Interruptions) Order, please. Rephrase the question so that it doesn't reflect the bill.

[Page 1532]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, at a briefing earlier today the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Nova Scotia indicated that many of the concerns from the Kaufman Report were simply housekeeping measures and that he, unlike past Ministers of Justice, would be directly involved with the Public Prosecution Service and would take care of them and their concerns. My question is, what exactly did the minister and the Attorney General mean by this statement?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: What the Minister of Justice and Attorney General meant by that statement is at long last we are going to fix the problems of the Public Prosecution Service. (Applause)

MR. SAMSON: That is just the answer I was hoping for. The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Nova Scotia was further asked how these supposed changes he was going to make would restore the confidence of the Nova Scotia public in how the Public Prosecution Service decides to proceed in certain cases. The minister argued that while only Superman could be informed of proceedings in each case, he said that in cases of public interest and importance to Nova Scotians that they would not proceed until he was briefed by the Public Prosecution Service as to how they were going to proceed in those cases, and therefore Nova Scotians should have confidence in the process.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. SAMSON: My question is to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Nova Scotia. What did you mean by that statement?

MR. BAKER: First of all, I think the honourable member misheard what I said. What was going on in this province during the previous Liberal Administration and which goes on today is that the Minister of Justice is briefed by the Public Prosecution Service on prosecutions in this province. That has happened under the six years of Liberal Administration and it is continuing to happen today. There is no revelation.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I and many members of the media who were present clearly heard the Minister of Justice and Attorney General when asked how the Nova Scotia public should have confidence in the Public Prosecution Service that they should rest assured that he as Minister of Justice would be first briefed on matters of public interest and importance before those cases would go forward by the Public Prosecution Service.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians have demanded an independent Public Prosecution Service, one that is free of any sort of political interference . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Question.

[Page 1533]

MR. SAMSON: My question is, what confidence can Nova Scotians have in the independence of the service following the statements made by the Attorney General today?

MR. BAKER: The honourable member has a very bad memory. During that same press conference, I said the fundamental principle of the Public Prosecution Service is that the Public Prosecution Service is free from political interference. That is a fundamental principle. The question, of course, is that the member doesn't want to accept the Kaufman Report which says that notwithstanding that it is still part of the executive branch of government, and that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General is responsible to this House for that service.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

FISH. - SENIORS: LICENCES - EXEMPT

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question will be to the Minister of Fisheries. Prior to the July election, this government was very concerned that seniors had to pay for their fishing licences. As a matter of fact, the honourable member for Cumberland South, while in Opposition, pointed out that many senior citizens are veterans of World War II and possibly disabled and many are on fixed incomes. Well, we have seen the kind of concern that this government has for people with disabilities and those on fixed incomes.

My question for the minister, you pursued the former government to get rid of these fees while you were in Opposition, and yet your desire to do so or to see them gone was not mentioned in the Throne Speech or the budget, why not?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Thank you, honourable member, for the question. As the honourable member knows, this government is extremely concerned about seniors, extremely concerned about all people of Nova Scotia who are disadvantaged in any way. We are trying to put forward uniform, even policies to reflect that concern, and those types of policies are developed in consultation with each one of those groups. It isn't developed in consultation somewhere in a caucus office. We believe in involving those people and those groups in those talks. When the time is right we will be having a strong look at the issue of fishing licences for seniors.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, when this government was in Opposition, it spent a great deal of time urging the Liberals to honour the resolution the House unanimously passed to exempt seniors from the unfair tax grab of fishing licence fees. My question to the Minister of Fisheries, why did your government support the resolution if you didn't honestly intend to honour that support?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, a very good question. As the member well knows, this government does honour its commitments. As the member opposite also knows, we are several months into a new administration, we are currently working on

[Page 1534]

243 principles, and a number of those commitments are being made and met. This one was not one of those 243 (Interruptions) but this undertaking is one that we are examining at the present time even though it wasn't one of those 243 principles.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will direct my last question to the Minister of Finance. Earlier this year the present Minister of Finance demanded that the Liberal Government apologize to seniors for suggesting that they were a threat to Nova Scotia's sports fishery and for reneging on the commitment to end fishing licence fees. My question to the Minister of Finance, will the minister now make an apology to seniors for his own government's failure to honour its commitment and eliminate the fee for seniors' fishing licences?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the member brings up a good question with regard to seniors. One thing that this government has done is brought about the re-establishment of the Senior Citizens' Secretariat to the level that it should be so that they will have a voice and we will have the opportunity to talk to them so that when we make decisions seniors will be listened to as they were not with the previous administration.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - MARINE ATL. HQ.:

NORTH SYDNEY - JOBS

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question of course is for the Premier; I would suggest that he is probably prepared for this. Yesterday I asked the Premier about the jobs at the Marine Atlantic terminal in North Sydney. Of course the Premier replied that he looked into it and there was nothing to worry about. Well the workers are worried and I share that worry, I share that concern with the workers. My question is, when does the Premier plan on telling the workers of Marine Atlantic that their jobs are safe?

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

THE PREMIER: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Earlier in the day, the Leader of the New Democratic Party made a number of assumptions about the contract that is in the process of being finalized. He made assumptions that were totally incorrect and we will be bringing forward the details of that contract that will indicate to the Leader of the New Democratic Party that the information that he got about the contract is completely incorrect.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on that point, you may recall when you go back through Hansard that I asked the Premier to confirm that information and, until he confirms that information, it is on the record and Nova Scotians will judge.

[Page 1535]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it certainly is a pleasure to stand today . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member permit an introduction, please? The request came in before Question Period was over.

[1:30 p.m.]

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, we have a student group here with us today, come to observe the orderly conduct of responsible government. (Laughter) On behalf of the member for Halifax Fairview, who is unfortunately not here today, I would like to introduce to the House 18 students from the Halifax Christian Academy, along with four of their leaders: Daphne Thurber is one; Stephen Michels; Daisy Vienot; and Pamela Zee. These are Grade 10 and Grade 11 students and I would ask them all to rise and for the House to acknowledge their presence with a very warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure and a privilege to be able to speak today going into Supply. I want to take this opportunity, I guess, to speak a bit on some issues concerning my county and concerning the Strait area in general. When I say the Strait area, it encompasses quite a wide area, mainly the Counties of Richmond, Inverness, Guysborough and Antigonish. As you know very well, we have four members in this House representing those areas: two who are Cabinet Ministers, the Minister of Tourism and Culture and the

[Page 1536]

Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs; myself; and my colleague on the government side, the member for Guysborough-Port Hawksbury.

Certainly in Richmond County, in discussing issues that affect us, I would be remiss if I didn't raise the issue with my colleague, the Minister of Tourism and Culture who is also responsible for the Youth Secretariat, that is the prevailing issue in regard to youth activity centres throughout this province. The concern mainly is the lack of funding which currently goes for these centres. I think, off the top of my head, of the Youth in Focus Centre in St. Peters which is based out of the high school in that community, which was put in place a couple of years ago to address concerns with the amount of drug use, alcohol use and criminal activity that was taking place among the young people in that area of our county. Basically, it was felt that many of these issues were rising out of the fact that these young people outside of the school had nothing to do, or there were no constructive establishments where they could actually spend their time productively, enjoy themselves in a very safe and healthy environment.

This not only happened in St. Peters. You look throughout the entire province, and offhand I think of Prometheus Place in Port Hawkesbury where my colleague, the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, is the MLA.

I remember receiving letters from them when I was the Minister responsible for the Youth Secretariat, expressing their concern over their lack of funding as I did get letters also from Youth in Focus in St. Peters in my county. I am pleased to say that they have reopened this fall following a period of closure during the summer months due to lack of funding. That was mainly because of a very ambitious fund-raising campaign which took place along with many donations from the private industry to assist them in keeping it open. Right now they are asking themselves, can we make it to Christmas and if we make it to Christmas, where do we go from there?

The problem is that the different government agencies that do provide funding for such centres, provide start-up costs and HRDC, for example, will be more than happy to fund you a coordinator for so many months, possibly up to a year, but after that year is over, they have met their mandate in the funding that they have provided. So you can only go to the well once. You can't keep going, under the current standards.

I know that the Province of Nova Scotia provides numerous grants to such bodies but again, grants are not enough. There is a need for core funding for these various youth centres and until there is core funding, they will continue to be under the burden of constant financial pain. It is essential for us, as legislators, and essential for the minister and for his government to have a serious look at the difficulties being faced by these youth centres. We have to ask ourselves, we have to weigh the options, are these of significant enough importance that we are willing to provide the necessary core funding or is this something where we feel when they have run their course either they survive on their own or we let them shut down. I think it is

[Page 1537]

safe to say, other than a few, which is just a maybe, I think it is safe to say that the majority of them, especially in rural Nova Scotia, cannot survive on their own. They cannot rely simply on fund-raisers and the generosity of private industry in their area. They need some form of support, whether it be from the federal government or from the provincial government.

I know in my case I am proud to say that Richmond Municipal Council has been a great supporter of Youth in Focus and other youth initiatives throughout this county. They did not wait and say, it is up to the province and it is up to the feds and it is up to everybody else but us. They took the initiative and when funding proposals came forward the municipality in many cases was the first one to sign up and say we are in, let's see what the other partners have to say.

We are fortunate in Richmond County. Unfortunately it is not every municipal unit that has that liberty or the funds to be able to do this. I have no doubt that the will is there and the intention is there, but it is a question of finances. So today I want to ask the minister responsible for the Youth Secretariat to talk to his colleagues, the Minister of Education, the Minister of Community Services, the Minister of Health and all other ministers who are involved - the Premier - with the health, safety and well-being of the children and young people of this province.

It is time for us as legislators and especially for the government to sit down with the federal government. We all know of the surpluses that the federal government has, and we realize the deficit we are faced with in this province. It is obvious that this would not be financially possible currently as the province stands, but there is a lot of federal money there.

There are a lot of programs to encourage young people in different aspects and I would encourage the minister responsible for the Youth Secretariat to give that secretariat great importance. Their budget is very limited; their staffing is very limited; and that is a reflection of the challenges we face as a province and not the willingness of our previous government or even of this current government to provide funding for that body. I would encourage the minister to strongly consider going to Ottawa and meeting with his counterparts in Ottawa and discussing with them the importance of finding funding for these youth centres. If we do not act now, by next year many of these centres will close and the idea will be forgotten.

All of the strength that you have now, from young people, from volunteers in communities, in many cases from teachers, the administration of local schools, that will be lost out of frustration based on lack of funding. It is not frustration out of the participation that takes place because I know that the Youth in Focus Centre in St. Peters has been a great success. There have been some issues and it is difficult to be able to find activities in which you are going to get the attention of all the young people in your area, but it has had great success.

[Page 1538]

Prometheus Place in Port Hawkesbury has had tremendous success. They have a weekly article in the local paper discussing their activities, indicating to the community what the young people are doing, what activities are out there for them. It is a sense of pride. It is kids not roaming around the streets or causing trouble. They are doing constructive stuff; they are enjoying themselves, they are healthy; and they are safe. We must continue to encourage this; we must foster this. It is essential for all members of this House. It is not a question of politics because I think when it all comes down, we realize the importance of the next generation.

I feel ironic saying that because, at 26 years of age, I have a hard time distinguishing myself from the younger generation, for I still consider myself to be part of it . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: You are over 25. You are one of us now. (Laughter)

MR. SAMSON: Certainly.

AN HON. MEMBER: He shaves. I saw him with a razor the other day.

MR. SAMSON: Yes, I am proud to say I shave. I remember talking of that. I remember a story of a member of this House - and I won't name the member, but if someone picks up his book they will read it - he had a very distinguished career and he was trying to say that he was a grass-roots kind of person and he wasn't an intellectual or someone who tried to move forward simply on their intelligence. He was the type of person who had made his way through life through hard work, and through dedication.

I remember one of his stories. He was saying how when he was in elementary school he had a bit of a hard time and he wasn't the brightest kid and he indicated that he was in Grade 4 and when he got his report card showing he had graded to the next grade, he got so excited he went home and cut himself shaving. He was trying to indicate to us that it was taking him a little bit of time to get through the system, but certainly those who know that member and those who heard that story will realize that he has a distinguished career that most of us will only hope that we can come close to emulating.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see that when the Minister of Tourism was appointed to Cabinet, that I was not simply an aberration and having had the opportunity of serving in Cabinet at such a young age, and I do applaud the Premier and his government for putting the confidence in the member for Inverness at the age of 27. I think it does send a great message throughout this entire province and it shows that young people can get involved in politics. They can enter this House, and gray hair and white hair are not a requirement once you enter, but I believe they are a result when you leave.

[Page 1539]

I think that he, having been a teacher, a member of the education profession, will certainly appreciate the importance that these centres have throughout the county and how important it is for us to foster them, for us to be there to assist them and, most of all, it is to be able to be there to provide the funding. Yes, we realize that this government is undergoing serious challenges. They are reviewing every program and they are doing their best to provide an efficient government where possible, but I would strongly submit to the members of this government to place a very high priority on our future generation and to ensure that we have a safe and healthy environment for them outside of the school.

While we do put a lot of emphasis in the school, we have the Peaceful Schools Program which is catching on throughout this province and I am pleased to say, with regard to that program, a conference was recently held in St. Peters, in my county, where educators from around the province, and I believe from other provinces, came to see the success that they had achieved through the Peaceful Schools concept. Many of our local teachers in Richmond County were the ones making the presentations.

We, like many areas throughout this province, have adopted this concept of Peaceful Schools, of a health and safety environment in the school, and it is important that we move that on to the after school hours, to the weekends, to the summer when the kids are no longer in school. It all comes down to a question of funding, that is the challenge and I issue that challenge to the minister. If he has not made representations already, which I do not doubt he probably has, go to Ottawa and demand that Ottawa put a plan in place and that core funding becomes an everyday thing in this province, not just one year funding and then we let things go by the wayside. It is essential that we have funding for that.

In talking on education, I am quite pleased to say, as a result of the initiatives brought forward by our Liberal Government, Richmond County will be one of the counties that will have one of these new educational facilities known as the Richmond Academy. It is difficult when you have a county, and in this case we have quite a large county, we have a high school in St. Peters and we have one on Isle Madame and Arichat, and it is a challenge, as the minister has alluded to in some of her statements, to try to have two communities that have schools and have to consolidate them into one.

It has been challenging. It has been challenging for the school board. It has been challenging for us as government. I know it has been challenging for the current Minister of Education and for her government. I can say it was challenging for me personally because when you have communities that are seeing they are losing a service, there becomes a lot of suspicion, a lot of accusations, and it is quite unfortunate, it takes a lot of years to rebuild afterwards. I want to thank the minister for having made a final decision on the siting of this school so that it can move forward, that this community can start the process of healing after this divisive debate, which I do not blame anyone for. I think it is something that we, as human beings, often see as a natural occurrence and I do not think it is unique to Richmond County. I think we see this unfortunate situation between Canning and Kentville. It is not

[Page 1540]

something any one of us as MLAs are proud to see because we hate to see our communities being divided on such issues where our view is that the long-term benefits are what is going to outweigh their concerns at the moment.

I am also pleased, and as I said in estimates to the minister, I encourage her and her government to proceed as quickly as possible on the building of L'ecole Petit-de-Grat, which already has had tremendous success as one of the Acadian schools in this province. Enrolment has constantly been increasing. There has been a tremendous response from the community, not only from Acadians but from non-Acadians who want to ensure that their kids have a proper education in English and in French.

It is essential that we have this institution because as it stands this school is only providing education from Grade Primary to Grade 8. This year they attempted to keep the Grade 9 students in that elementary school. It has provided serious challenges. It has caused a drop in enrolment and it is absolutely necessary that we have a vibrant, new and healthy institution which will go from kindergarten right up to Grade 12 and provide these students with the education that they need and as I told the minister, as she realizes, that they have a legal right to have. It is essential that this government move forward while, yes, I understand their concern to review programs but it is essential that they oblige their legal and moral duty and that they move as quickly as possible to ensure that these kids have the proper education in a school that does not have mould or air quality problems and that they enjoy the same facilities being enjoyed by students throughout our entire province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[1:45 p.m.]

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place today to talk on a topic which is rather ironic considering these red ribbons were given to us by MADD. I would like to bring to the attention of the House and members present, in particular I would like to speak to some points that obviously the Minister of Transportation is going to pay attention to because of concerns that I have about two particular roads that on occasion have reputations for being, unfortunately, nothing more than death traps.

I could tell you, Mr. Speaker, that as a teacher the toughest moment you have is when you go to the funeral of a student or an athlete that you have coached and taught and you realize that for one reason or another this young person made a bad decision on a particular dangerous curve or a stretch of road and we have had another unfortunate accident.

There are two stretches of road in the Timberlea-Prospect constituency which continue to be a major concern. As I drive down the Prospect Road, Mr. Speaker, I see these crosses and I realize that those crosses reflect the fact that another accident has taken place on a portion of Nova Scotia's highways. Also, and I don't know if members present have this, but

[Page 1541]

I have areas of my constituency where people who have lost friends and relatives have Christmas trees that they decorate, just prior to those couple of weeks as we come into the festive season where an accident has happened, in some particular spot and where a loved one has lost their life. These are sad moments when you think about them.

I would like to point out, in particular, that the Prospect Road, that notorious stretch that I have spoken about many times in this House, continues to claim a number of serious accidents. As you go down the Prospect Road, there are a number of stretches on that road, Mr. Speaker, that need immediate attention. There is what the locals call the long bog. I can tell you personally that many years ago as a young teacher I lost a hockey player on that very stretch of road. Perhaps it was not a wise decision that night, but I never drive by that particular culvert on the long bog without thinking about that young man. Yet, that road still remains a neglected stretch of highway.

Mr. Speaker, I can take you further down that road to Merrydale or I could take you just past the Club Road intersection and I know that this Minister of Transportation and his staff are looking at changes to this busy road. The Prospect Road is no longer just a scenic road down to the fishing villages. Growing subdivisions, tourists and many other users of this road have made this a dangerous stretch of highway. There are citizens groups who have worked hard to make sure that changes are taking place on the Prospect Road. There is the PROS organization, which stands for, Please Respect Our Safety. There are gentlemen such as Eddie Andrews, who is a retired citizen in one of the communities in Whites Lake who ceaselessly brings to the attention officials of the dangerous conditions on the Prospect Road.

I ask the minister and his staff to consider accidents and the history of accidents when it comes to upgrading roads. I know there are limited dollars, but I hope the minister is aware of the increasing number of accidents that are taking place on Route 233 from Goodwood to Peggy's Cove. I would like to table this at this time so that he could be made aware of these unfortunate statistics.

If I could, Mr. Speaker, I would like to move from the Prospect Road to Highway No. 103. Now Highway No. 103 is that busy stretch of road which takes you from the Beechville Interchange through Timberlea out to Tantallon and on the way to the South Shore.

I know that the members of the government caucus are going to receive people from the municipality along the South Shore route who are pressing for Highway No. 103. I am aware of the fact that the last thing we need is to pit one community against another community when it comes to twinning of highways, yet I want to pay credit to Don Downe when he was the Minister of Transportation, who in April 1997, made a statement in which he confirmed that at that time there was a completion schedule that Section 2, which was to be to Exit 4, would be completed by 2000-01, and that from Exit 4 to Exit 5 would be completed by 2001-02.

[Page 1542]

That says to me that there was a plan in effect. Those very same Department of Transportation officials are working for this government, and hopefully all the people involved will know of the increasing number of accidents on Highway No. 103 between Exit 3 and Exit 5. I have these statistics here and I would like to table them again, to the minister's attention.

The final point I want to bring out, of course, and this comes down to the fact that I am sure we all as members are aware of the ongoing problems when it comes to having so few dollars for this important need that we have, and that is safe highways. I have had the opportunity to hear from many constituents. I want to point out in particular, Bruce Munroe and the correspondence that Bruce brought to the past Minister of Transportation and Public Works, the Honourable Clifford Huskilson.

Mr. Munroe, under no apologies, if I can put those words in Mr. Munroe's mouth, he has no apologies for his direct impatient approach, because Mr. Munroe is an air traffic controller. He travels that road at many different times. He travels it when he sees the peak of highway and in the dark of night when he realizes an accident could happen at any time.

I have also heard from the residents of the Sheldrake Lake subdivision and their president, Dale Conrad. He wants to know, along with the residents of this growing area, if there is a plan, and tell us when. I think that is the key thing. I am not going to turn this into a W5, but I want to know when.

Area residents, I am sure, would be pleased if the Department of Transportation and Public Works and this minister could report that if and when this work is going to be completed, we can take it. We can understand. If there is a decision, make it, Mr. Minister. Make that decision. Make that call. I know we hear about Collenette and what he is going to do with us from Ottawa. But my concern comes down and I say to this minister, and I know this minister, and all politics aside, when he sat on this side, I know he listens, he has been in my community, our community, he has listened to the concerns of area residents.

Mr. Speaker, through you of course, I say to this minister, Mr. Minister, tell residents when your plan will be put in effect, tell us the schedule, because it is of some concern. We don't want to pick up the morning paper, flip it open and say, oh my God, another tragedy on Highway No. 103. We don't want to listen to the radio on the way to work and hear that there has been another serious accident on Highway No. 103.

Mr. Speaker, as you are very well aware, there was a tragic accident recently involving a friend of mine, a compatriot from the teaching profession who was tragically killed on Highway No. 103. It was an unbelievably sad event attended by friends and past students. That sort of accident cannot be allowed to continue. I know that residents of Nova Scotia would appreciate the fact if this government could say, our priority is and we will meet the commitment of - whatever you fill that blank in after that.

[Page 1543]

Mr. Speaker, I know that in this House and through your experience, you have heard many strong arguments made when it comes to dangerous roads. The Hammonds Plains Road is a big-time connector between Highway No. 102 and Highway No. 103. The Hammonds Plains Road goes past the growing subdivisions of Kingswood, Highland Park, Haliburton Hills, Haliburton Heights. The people who have moved into these communities pay big taxes.

These people want to know when their road will receive attention.

I know many of those young people who have moved into that community. Many of those young people have been students of mine. Many of those young people will say, if the decision is made to upgrade the Prospect Road, to upgrade the Hammonds Plains Road, to twin sections of Highway No. 103 beyond Exit 3 and our infamous landsite, just tell us when. I am sure that many of those residents will be patient with this minister and patient with this government. But, Mr. Speaker, they need to know the answer. How many times over the Christmas season ahead will we again face some of these unfortunate situations involving accidents in our communities? Now without doubt there are other factors involved in accidents throughout Nova Scotia. Some of them involve poor choices, indecision on the road, alcohol. But I do know that one of the factors that involves accidents on busy highways is the fact that road conditions at times really affect these sorts of decisions.

Young people or seniors, myself on the way home tonight, through my own impatience or perhaps I am in a rush, I have to show better judgement. Yet I think we, as a government, they as a government, we as legislators, have to provide the conditions, Mr. Speaker, that will allow these people to consistently and regularly travel these roads in a safe manner. Now the roads I have mentioned in the growing constituency of Timberlea-Prospect, are busy. They are extremely busy and I know the minister will have his staff look at these statistics that I have tabled here today. I represent a growing community that has many people coming to the city, time after time, day after day, to go to work. They have to have it in a safe manner. Those concerns must be addressed.

More importantly, I hope that the minister takes my advice. When I sat with him in Opposition, when we would ask that question, not why, but when? When will some of these questions be answered? That is the key thing. As we come upon the Christmas season ahead, and as I look at this red ribbon in front of me, Mr. Speaker, I know that I have been advised that it will be appropriate on my aerial or on my rearview mirror. It will be removed from my microphone here in a moment. I hope we understand the fact that Nova Scotians expect us to make tough decisions, to make decisions that will be in their best interest when they are on our highways. I know the twin-to-win people, Sonja Wood and the 101 Committee have worked extremely hard. But it seems to me that citizens can only take so much frustration, delays, meetings and indecisive moves that finally they become frustrated.

I have been to community meetings on the Prospect Road. The current minister represented the PC caucus at that time. He has been at those meetings. Mr. Clifford Huskilson, the past minister, he was at those meetings, yet the decision was not made. I think

[Page 1544]

that citizens deserve in every constituency, in every area of this province, they need to know when, Mr. Speaker. I hope that members present never have to go through some of the personal tragedies that I have had to face when dealing with young people and going to their funeral after an accident. They always ask why. But now, many of them are asking when. When will the Prospect Road be upgraded? When will Highway No. 103 be twinned between Exit 3 and Exit 5? When will the Hammonds Plains Road be a road that busy commuters can travel on? Thank you for your time. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, there is some very serious debate here today. However, I would like to bring members of this House back to some debate that happened last week when we were talking about the paramedics' situation, and the discussion that arose surrounding the debate. The member for Richmond offered in this House to help represent the constituents that I serve in the constituency of Sackville-Beaver Bank. I want to point out to the member that I appreciate that and so do the constituents that I represent. However, when the constituents in Sackville-Beaver Bank approached the former Minister of the Environment, the member for Richmond, for his assistance about a year ago, unfortunately they were turned down.

[2:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, across this province and particularly in the constituency that I represent, there is a huge issue surrounding illegal dumping. It is something that plagues the entire Province of Nova Scotia. The constituents that I represent asked the Minister of the Environment, through his department, to participate in helping to clean up some of these illegal dump sites. Unfortunately, in the letter returned from the former minister, his reply was that illegal dumping is a solid waste issue and therefore you should contact your councillor. The irony of that is the letter came from me, I was the councillor at the time, however, that is understandable, he wasn't aware of that, I am sure. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The member referred to a letter, I would ask him to table it.

MR. BARNET: I will bring it in and table it, yes. I don't have it with me. Absolutely. The Province of Nova Scotia is referred to as Canada's Ocean Playground, however it is very unfortunate that it has become, in some parts, Canada's ocean dumping ground. We all know that there are, in every one of our ridings I suspect, little areas in nooks and crannies and backwoods and roads where constituents have taken advantage of private property owners and public property owners and illegally dumped garbage.

[Page 1545]

Mr. Speaker, this issue has been brought up at municipal councils across this province, and municipal councils have attempted to deal with this over the last number of years. We have documented, in the constituency that I represent, that dumped illegally in the backwoods of (Interruptions) Yes, absolutely, construction debris, as pointed out across. (Interruptions) There have been doors, windows, roofing, framing materials, trim, drywall, fixtures, concrete, stoves, you name it, everything you can possibly imagine in terms of a house.

Mr. Speaker, we have seen in illegal dumpsites household garbage where people have actually just simply taken their garbage bags, thrown it in the back of their vehicle, driven off to a dead-end street and dumped it out. The disturbing part of this is that most if not all municipalities provide once a week if not twice a week collection for this refuse.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member entertain a question?

MR. BARNET: I certainly would.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for accepting the question. Being a former municipal councillor in the Halifax Regional Municipality, because I know different municipalities have different regulations governing garbage collection and disposal thereof, could he confirm if, in fact, there is a policy or a regulation or a law in the Halifax Regional Municipality which prevents one from burying any type of garbage or debris or even construction residuals in their backyard?

MR. BARNET: Could you repeat the last sentence? Just the last sentence.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am asking the former municipal councillor, is there a law in the Halifax Regional Municipality which prevents one from just freely burying any type of industrial or commercial garbage in their backyard?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, there is a by-law in Halifax Regional Municipality surrounding illegal dumping and the disposal of solid waste. In addition to that, in the Act that established the Halifax Regional Municipality, there was an opportunity for the municipality to deal with dangerous and unsightly premises, however, the issue that

is of great concern and interest to the people that I represent is the issue of people taking their garbage to other people's property and illegally dumping it. In fact, it has been dealt with by councils across this province and, particularly, at the Halifax Regional Council. The issue certainly is something that I believe has . . .

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

MR. BARNET: Sure.

[Page 1546]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member. I would like to introduce to the House of Assembly today three members from my community: Councillor Esther Dares, Mrs. Cheryl Pink and Councillor Martin Pink. They arrived from the Gateway to Nova Scotia. Would you please stand and have a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, the issue of illegal dumping is something that is not new to this province and certainly not new to the constituents whom I represent. During the past number of years, one of the communities that I represent has been dealing with a particular highway access road where illegal dumping has been going on for a number of years.

In fact, along Highway No. 101, I would suspect that there has been illegal dumping along that road since the day the road was built. Highway No. 101 is the road that provided access to the former landfill. Many of the people in the community that I represent felt that primarily the reason that they were the recipients of illegal dumping was because of that landfill. They excused it off as being that, but three and four years after the landfill closed the illegal dumping still persisted.

During the summer and spring of this year, I was able to convince landowners and the Department of Transportation and Public Works to take steps to clean up that particularly bad illegal dumpsite. As disturbing as it is, the Department of Transportation and Public Works actually withdrew 11 tractor-trailer loads of garbage. It took them nearly a week to clean that site up and I would like to at this point thank the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and thank the department itself because this site obviously is something that was a blight on this beautiful province.

Mr. Speaker, two years ago I was fortunate to win a raffle where I received a bicycle as a prize. My son and I have had the opportunity to take our bicycles through the backwoods and the trails in the Province of Nova Scotia. My initial finding when I was driving through a lot of those trails was really disturbing. What I found is that there is garbage and there are illegal dumpsites miles and miles back in the woods and it is littered throughout the entire Province of Nova Scotia.

The encouraging thing, Mr. Speaker, is that this province and our government know that this is something that is going to require assistance to municipalities to help clean up these sites. We know that private landowners and private property owners and other departments throughout this province need assistance to help clean up these sites. We know that we cannot continue to promote our beautiful province as a destination for tourism when the tourists come and the first thing they find is the backwoods of the Province of Nova Scotia is littered with garbage, debris and construction and demolition materials.

[Page 1547]

Mr. Speaker, this province, certainly in my opinion, is the most beautiful province in the Country of Canada. There is absolutely no real need for illegal dumping. As I indicated earlier, nearly every municipality across this province provides a service to its constituents where once every week, or once every two weeks, a garbage truck will come across the front of their house and pick up that stuff. For the life of me I have no idea why people would take the effort and energy to throw it in the back of their truck, drive miles away from their community into my community and dump this stuff.

Mr. Speaker, I am hearing a significant amount of heckling from the other side. I understand that maybe it is not as big an issue in the constituencies across. So, Mr. Speaker, . . .

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank just suggested that members on this side did not consider the matter of illegal dumping important. I want to say to him that in Halifax Atlantic it is a very serious problem. It is a very serious problem in all of our constituencies and we do take it seriously. Some members are speaking out; they are saying so to support what he is saying, that something has to be done to stop this problem, to stop illegal dumping in places like Halifax Atlantic.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The point is well taken.

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that you didn't rule it as a legitimate point of order because it certainly wasn't. (Interruptions) My comments were, that I said maybe others aren't taking this so seriously because, quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, I found myself standing here speaking and I was very curious as to whether anyone was listening. I am pleased that the Leader of the New Democratic Party obviously was listening and I hope that all the members on the opposite side, both in the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party, were listening because this is an important issue. I suspect it is an important issue to all of us. As I said, right from the beginning, if all members were present they would have heard. Yes, this issue is not just solely for my constituents it is universal, right across this entire province, and it needs to be dealt with fairly and responsibly.

Mr. Speaker, one of my colleagues from the former County of Halifax, now Halifax Regional Municipality, shared with his council colleague some photographs of illegal dumping. Councillor Gordon Snow who represents, I believe, a portion of the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley and represents Fall River, Waverley, and Guysborough Road, brought before council some disturbing pictures which turned out to be tons and tons of illegally dumped garbage. To my knowledge, that garbage may still sit there. I want you to know that our government certainly has taken action and taken steps, particularly in the constituency that I represent, to start cleaning up these things. We can no longer say that it is the municipality's responsibility because it is solid waste; it is the responsibility of us all. It is the responsibility of the constituents that we represent and it is the responsibility of government.

[Page 1548]

So, Mr. Speaker, I will close by saying that I think there are better times ahead for the Province of Nova Scotia, particularly in the environment, because this government is not going to take the approach that it is a municipal issue. We are going to clean it up. Thank you very much. (Applause)

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I want to rise and support the initiative as presented by the intervention of the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, because keeping the environment clean is a very important issue to all members of this House. It is not the exclusive position of one particular caucus or the other, so I wanted to make that point abundantly clear.

More importantly, Mr. Speaker, I think the record will show that when my former colleague, the member for Richmond, was Minister of the Environment there were a tremendous number of initiatives that were undertaken - particularly involving the youth of our province with the Youth Conservation Corps - unprecedented compared to the previous administrations of John Buchanan and Donnie Cameron. This is the same government that has rolled back the hands of time on occupational health and safety; this is the same government that is now turning a blind eye to the injured workers of this province when it comes to some of the more critical issues of worker safety in the market place. That is an environmental concern. That is an environmental safety concern in the market place. It is not just exclusively for the issue of whether you are going to pick up a cigarette package or a piece of paper off the side of the road, but rather it is an issue that cuts across the entire spectrum. Mr. Speaker, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to call a quorum. I would like to call a quorum, because I am quite concerned . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Who counts? The Clerk or me? (Interruptions)

There are 17, to my count.

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the calling of a quorum in the House is open to any member who wants to call a quorum in the House at any time. The member was just following an established practice here in that he saw that the government wasn't able to keep the appropriate numbers in the House and brought that to the attention of the Speaker. I would suggest that if the government wants to continue with the agenda that they keep sufficient members in the House to do so.

[Page 1549]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order raised by the honourable Liberal House Leader. It has been customary that during periods when we are going into Supply, that we maintain the same quorum as we do during Supply.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: That is not true. That is not a rule of this House, Mr. Speaker . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions)

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I am seeking a ruling. You may not be able to impart it today but perhaps at a future time you could. I understand when any honourable member calls for a quorum it is certainly in order to do so, but I am just wondering what is the protocol? Is it standard practice for the member who calls for the quorum, for his members to get up and leave the Chamber when a quorum is called for? Is that permitted? That is all I am asking.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. When a quorum is called, I will count the number of members who are on the floor at the time, whether they are standing or sitting or headed towards the door, and anybody else who comes in before I finish the count.

We are adjourned. I am sorry.

The motion is carried. (Interruptions)

No, just to go into Supply. My mistake, you had me excited.

The motion is carried.

[2:18 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[6:00 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The debate for this evening was submitted by the member for Cape Breton West. It reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that Premier John Hamm has abandoned Devco and the Cape Breton coal industry.".

[Page 1550]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

DEVCO & C.B. COAL INDUSTRY -

ABANDONMENT (GOV'T. [N.S.])

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to rise in the House this evening and talk about an issue that has not received much attention from this Tory Government. It is the situation surrounding the Cape Breton Development Corporation, which is now critical. I am very disappointed to see that this Tory Government is totally unprepared to deal with it. But I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, because the hostility of the Progressive Conservatives toward Cape Breton is rather legendary.

During the election, the Tory MLA for Halifax Citadel sent out postcards that claimed putting Nova Scotians out of work in Cape Breton would mean more hospital beds. Well, Mr. Speaker, that was nothing but vicious propaganda. But perhaps the most damaging propaganda put out by the Tories is a document called, Strong Leadership . . . . a clear course. This platform clearly spells out where the mining industry ranks on the list of Tory promises. It is at the very bottom on the very last page. Of 243 promises, only three deal with coal mining and Devco is only mentioned once.

Mr. Speaker, that is worse than a slap in the face to Cape Bretoners. It is a confession that the Tory Government of Premier John Hamm just doesn't care what happens to Cape Breton. The Tories don't care about the fair treatment of over 1,300 workers or their families. But there are far more people who will be negatively affected by the closure of Devco, far more, and the Premier knows that.

He knows because Premier Hamm, himself, when he was Leader of the Third Party, tabled a petition in this House on March 26, 1999. That petition contained 22,000 signatures; the largest ever received by this House of Assembly. To refresh the collective memory of the mainland Tory caucus I would like to quote from the preamble to that petition as read by Premier Hamm. On March 26, 1999, Premier Hamm said, "Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by residents of Cape Breton, the petition reading as follows, 'Whereas, withholding the transfer of coal leases from private owners maintains Nova Scotia's ability to assist Cape Breton coal miners to negotiate a fair employment and retirement strategy with the Federal Government, and: Whereas, this would allow miners to continue living in and contributing to our communities and our economy; WE, the undersigned, request that the Provincial Government not transfer any coal leases until such time that the Federal Government negotiates a strategy for the future of employees of the Cape Breton Development Corporation that provides satisfactory benefits to said employees, their families

[Page 1551]

and our communities at large.'". The Premier himself signed that petition. He signed it and he delivered it. Now, nope, the Premier is telling Cape Breton that his word, his signature, is not trusted.

Mr. Speaker, allow me to quote from the front page of The Cape Breton Post, I fail to see how withholding coal leases in any way puts pressure on the federal government, Tory Premier John Hamm was quoted as saying that Monday. There is a word that describes someone who says something one day and says something completely different the next day. (Interruption) Well, I wouldn't repeat that word because I am pretty sure that it is unparliamentary but the word starts with an h and ends with the word critical.

The United Mines Workers has given up on this Premier and this government. They are fed up with the lack of action, the lack of consultation and the lack of compassion for the problems now faced by the people of industrial Cape Breton.

This government, Mr. Speaker, has an opportunity to come to the defence of workers at the Devco central shops as well, but still we have heard nothing. When the hammer fell on Devco on January 28th, workers at the central shops were assured that their jobs were secure, at least until December 31, 2000. Now the workers are being told that they could be jobless at the end of this year or maybe in March.

Mr. Speaker, that puts a terrible strain on families, especially since the closure of the shops shouldn't be happening in the first place. A repair shop is vital to the mining industry. To a private buyer, an efficient shop that is in operation is a far more attractive selling point than a shop that is empty and quiet.

Mr. Speaker, will the Premier step in to help keep those shops open? Will the Minister for Cape Breton finally say something in this House? Can we count on Alfie MacLeod to look into this situation?

AN HON. MEMBER: What's he doing these days?

MR. WILSON: Apparently, not much. We can't afford to wait any longer for these answers. Two people from a group called United Families, Edna Budden and Bev Brown are doing their best to keep the community together at this time, and they have poured their hearts and souls into a campaign for fairness. As I have mentioned before in this House, there were once 11 coal mines operating in the former Town of Glace Bay, unfortunately, now there are none. The number of mines in Cape Breton continues to dwindle.

Mr. Speaker, while the Tory member for Preston cheers when someone dumps on Cape Breton, the Tory caucus cheers and applauds while families suffer, it is absolutely shameful.

[Page 1552]

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I would like to have a clarification from the honourable member in regard to that. If he wishes, I could supply the text of Mr. Worthington's speech from last night at the chamber of commerce, and in no way does it specify such items as you talk about.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member should have watched the 6:00 o'clock news tonight and seen the report done by Paul Withers which detailed that. The honourable member sat in this very House today, when the honourable member for Cape Breton South made reference to that speech last night and mentioned that man's name and you applauded at that man's name. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. WILSON: That honourable member applauded.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston raised a point of order. What was the point of order?

MR. HENDSBEE: I just wanted to make sure that if he makes any reference in regard to things I have said, I wish he would make clarification on that. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: I believe the member indicated that the honourable member for Preston clapped at a response to (Interruptions) not that anything was stated. (Interruptions) There is no point of order. Continue, please.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, no point of order and no sense either.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. WILSON: We witnessed the action here today in the House. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. WILSON: We witnessed that action here today. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable member to withdraw that, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton East, withdraw that statement please.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I withdraw that comment.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Continue.

[Page 1553]

MR. WILSON: Let me continue. As I said, after that happened the Tory caucus cheers and applauds while families suffer, and that is absolutely shameful. That is what we are faced with. These are the concerns that the people of industrial Cape Breton bring to the Tory Government, and what kind of response do they get, for instance from the Minister of Economic Development. He is saying that unemployed people should make up their own jobs. He says that the unemployed need to think outside the box. My question is, what box are you talking about, and where do you keep that box, Mr. Minister, perhaps in your office? (Interruptions)

Well, wishing won't make it so. We need action and we need leadership. Tomorrow my own daughter, along with many of her classmates are jumping rope to raise money and supplies for the Glace Bay and Area Food Bank. That is what it has come to, children skipping rope to support their community. Well, I hope they can keep it up for a long time, because this Tory Government is not doing anything to help miners receive a better deal from Ottawa.

The Premier promised the coal leases would be a key bargaining chip in his negotiations, he promised that he would immediately initiate formal discussions with Ottawa to get a fair severance and retirement package for workers. I have seen evidence of neither, which leads me to the conclusion that a promise made by this Tory Government is a promise broken, but not if I have anything to do with it. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: It is customary for the government to respond to that, but I guess (Interruptions) I think he doesn't have notes, so he wants to plagiarize our stuff. That is fine. (Interruptions) With that said, this is truly a serious problem.

Now the honourable member for Cape Breton East went on at great length at what this government has not done and I am going to get back to that in a second, but I think it is more important, I know the member was not here in this House last January when that announcement came, but where was the Liberal leadership in this province? They were making the announcement in Cape Breton and they were hunkered down here in Halifax, hiding, afraid to face the public. He goes down the next day and . . .

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Once again we hear the ramblings of the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre. Clearly what Nova Scotians have seen on the statement he has made . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Is there a point of order?

[Page 1554]

MR. SAMSON: Yes, there is a point of order, Mr. Speaker. He misled this House in his statement, by stating that the then Premier, Russell MacLellan, was somehow hiding in Halifax. It was clear that that press conference was being held by the honourable Minister of Natural Resources, the federal minister, and the day following the Premier held his own public meeting with the miners who were most affected. He took the concerns of the people, he didn't hide behind a few TV cameras and come and make some wimpy comment at the end so he could get picked up on the news.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre, continue please.

MR. CORBETT: Wise decision, Mr. Speaker, wise decision, as we say.

He goes down and starts pontificating to Cape Bretoners about Pit Pony; thousands of people facing the fact that they are going to lose their jobs and the Premier comes by with a statement about the Pit Pony and how that is going to save all these jobs. Then the next time they try to do something substantive about Devco, they are telling people during the election, just wait two more weeks, after the election, and the Prime Minister is going to come down and save us all. That is the type of leadership that government was showing.

Now it is more than two weeks past the end of the election and still no substantive positioning by the federal government. Now let's move over to our friends in the newly formed government of the Tory Regime. What have our friends done? Now my friend from Cape Breton East brought up an interesting point. He comes in and makes a statement that well, we are going to sign a petition for coal leases but it doesn't mean anything because it is just being tabled. We are going to table it. We don't have any real ideas about honouring it, we are just going to table it.

Then we push him on it: what are you going to do? What does he accuse people of? He accuses people of fear-mongering when you push them and want something substantive.

Now, as we speak, today in Cape Breton there is a panel going around trying to find out where we are going to spend $80 million that replaced some of the lost monies out of the Cape Breton economy. Now is this a panel made up of people you would say are representative of the people in industrial Cape Breton? I would say not. There are two members on that panel you could consider living in industrial Cape Breton. The other members who make up that panel are either from outside the province or are from elsewhere within Cape Breton Island.

AN HON. MEMBER: Any Liberals on it?

[Page 1555]

MR. CORBETT: Oh, there are a few Liberals. As a matter of fact one of the members of that panel is a former Liberal Senator who sat quite quietly while all these announcements were being made and did not come to the defence of the workers.

AN HON. MEMBER: Senators sleep.

MR. CORBETT: Just sat there and quietly listened to it.

AN HON. MEMBER: I want to be a senator. Make me a senator.

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: You are attacking Sister . . .

MR. CORBETT: You know, I hear some noise going on, especially from the honourable member for Richmond saying you are not attacking Sister Butts.

AN HON. MEMBER: Senator Butts.

MR. CORBETT: No, she is the former senator. I mean for some reason if you sit idly by and participate in that group's shenanigans, if you hide behind a religious moniker it is all right. (Interruptions) Well, it is not.

[6:15 p.m.]

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I would ask you to rule the member out of order. For the member to take the name of a lady who has served the Catholic Church her entire life, who has devoted herself to this church, as a Catholic myself, I take tremendous offence at the statements he is currently making in saying that she hides behind the cloth, or bonnet as he said. I find that terribly offensive, unbecoming a member of this House. I demand an apology and you should get thrown out of this House.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Will the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre retract that, please.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, first of all, one thing I will clarify. I did not say she hid behind that. I said they hide behind it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Apologize.

MR. CORBETT: I will not apologize. Furthermore, do you know what, I find it offensive, Mr. Speaker . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member please retract that statement.

[Page 1556]

MR. CORBETT: Which one?

MR. SPEAKER: The one you were referring to the individual who is not in this House this evening.

MR. CORBETT: I will, but . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member please retract that.

MR. CORBETT: I will retract it, Mr. Speaker, but I find it somewhat offensive because, you know, I, myself, am a practising Catholic. Two members of my family are religious. One is a member of the Friars of the Atonement and the other is a member of the Augustinians. When that member for Richmond takes the moralistic high ground, it is quite amusing.

These guys over here are going to say, well, we have only been here a short time and there is nothing we can do about it. There is something they can do about it. They should go and instead of taking these positions of cutting back money, $2.5 million from the casino revenues, instead of cutting back monies from the disabled, they should be looking at it. Where is the economic vision? We were just here a few weeks ago and the Minister of Economic Development went on and said we had this glorious announcement to make. We are going to give money to Scotiabank. This poor company, just barely scraping by, we have got to give them money to help them attract business to this province.

The two big problems here are this minister went and told everybody that we are really going to have to do economic development outside of metro. It is important that we go to areas of high unemployment, like Cape Breton, and to rural Nova Scotia and his first major deal in economic development, what did he go and do - give money to a huge corporate entity, a huge corporation like Scotia Rainbow, and now he goes and he is giving money for retraining here in Halifax when training was set up in the Marconi Campus in Cape Breton. Why would he not say to the Bank of Nova Scotia, we have already got a program set up in Cape Breton, why don't we funnel the students down to there.

AN HON. MEMBER: A good idea.

MR. CORBETT: Why would we not do that? No, because, you know, they do not want to do that. They do not believe in thinking outside the box. They do not want to think outside the box, Mr. Speaker. What they want to do is look after their friends in downtown Halifax. They applaud the ludicrous statements last night at the board of trade meeting and yet they champion those people, but the poor and the downtrodden in this province are left to be cast aside like so much garbage under their feet.

[Page 1557]

They really do not have time for the poor in this province. Do you know what? They should make time because as long as this government is in power, we are going to have a whole lot more of the poor. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise here tonight in late debate and address the issue. I can assure the members opposite I will not plagiarize their remarks as was indicated earlier. The first thing I would like to do is table this document, Mr. Speaker. It is actually the reason we are here tonight, "Therefore be it resolved that Premier John Hamm has abandoned Devco and the Cape Breton coal industry.". Rather than pontificating about positions of why the NDP MPs are ineffective in dealing with the issue and the constituents they represent in Cape Breton, or why the federal Liberal Government is ineffective in creating a climate that the people of Nova Scotia and the people of industrial Cape Breton would like to see in relation to Devco, I think we should talk about the issue, Mr. Speaker.

The issue has a number of facets to it that we have to realize. We have a situation with the closure of the Phalen operation which has caused even more concern, disruption, fear and unrest in the community of Sydney and the greater area of that region of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. What we have is a number of situations we have to deal with. The first one is the one dealing with the miners and the early retirement programs which have been announced, in which many people have put forward views over the last year on how it can be enhanced, how it can be enriched, any number of suggestions. The key thing which has been urged by the Premier of this province, the Honourable John Hamm, and certainly by the Premier of the former administration as well, is that those programs have to be enhanced. It is the responsibility of the federal government, which looks after Devco, to allow those situations to be handled.

Obviously it was a tragic thing to see Phalen have to close. I happened to be meeting with the federal minister on that very day, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, and I met with him for half an hour previous to the public announcement. Certainly Devco was the exact situation we were discussing. At that time I had some optimism when the federal minister agreed in his press release that he would include the phrase that it would have to be re-examined in light of the term of Phalen not lasting for another 18 months because of the forced closure. As time has passed since that date, obviously I have been, and certainly the Premier, urging that early retirement plan should have been sweetened.

We have not seen any major move to date and certainly I am saddened at that. We will continue, as I am sure all members in this House would like to see those terms, for the retired miners, how the severance packages and early retirement packages could be enhanced to better help them and their families remain active contributors to their community and uphold their quality of life. Many of those people, Mr. Speaker, are 50 years old and retraining in the

[Page 1558]

area may not be the best option for them. I think it is important that we all carry that forward. In that light, we have formed an all-Party committee from this House to deal with Devco. I certainly commend the members on that committee from the other two Parties for their sincere efforts in attempting, along with our representative, to come to some consensus on where we would like to recommend the Devco situation be moved forward on this and a number of other fronts.

I think the second point, Mr. Speaker, that is very important to make, is the economic development package that is being offered. The federal government is putting forward $68 million. We have proposed and put forward as a government, the honouring of $12 million proposed by the former government. I think it is absolutely imperative that this money, the $12 million, if it comes to fruition of the province, and the $68 million, which is $80 million, that this is spent on the future. Ladies and gentlemen, fellow members, it is the future we have to be concerned about.

These dollars are used for the community that has had the revenues that were spent in the local community by coal miners, by Devco in sourcing products, this $80 million is seed money to ensure that the community is maintained and has an opportunity to grow. I think it is very important that those kind of dollars become long-term dollars, that they are not a flash in the pan, that they are dollars that are into investment that allow the community an opportunity to prosper and move into the future, Mr. Speaker.

The third option I would like to speak about for a moment is in relationship to the leases.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member entertain a question?

MR. FAGE: Certainly, it would be my pleasure.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable minister for accepting the question. My question is, given the fact that the minister sees this $80 million as a very worthy and healthy start on a rebuilding process, post-Devco and so forth, why is it that his government refuses to commit the $12 million in this fiscal year to deal with this very problem? I also premise that with the fact that the Premier himself, on a number of occasions, has refused to commit to that funding for this fiscal year, so I didn't want to ask the question and try and snooker the minister into a different position than the Premier, but just simply to state a position.

MR. FAGE: I thank the honourable member for the question and intervention and would hope this doesn't count on my time because I have some other important issues that I would like to address. It is my understanding in discussions with our colleagues, that the

[Page 1559]

reason the $12 million is not expended in this year is because the program will not kick in until next year, the next budgetary year, and we will contribute that $4 million a year over the next three years. That is how it has been allocated and that is the practice that has been agreed upon, that is my understanding, honourable member.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to return to the issues of the leases. I think the leases obviously are under the signature of the honourable Minister of Natural Resources in this province. We have formed a committee with the federal government, which is Natural Resources Canada, and with Devco themselves, along with officials from the department that I have the honour of being the minister of, which is Natural Resources. That committee is, instead of trying to foster a situation of brinkmanship, or of using the leases as a hostage or a threat, trying to create the situation that a private buyer can come forward and that all Parties can sit down and come to the type of situation where, if there is going to be a private coal industry in the future, that those terms are agreed upon between the principals to allow that to move ahead. That is why we are not out there to brow-beat, to hold hostage, to do those types of things before the negotiation is found because we truly are concerned about the future, as a Party and as a government, of Cape Breton. We want to offer and foster the best opportunity for a coal industry and private ownership into the future.

If we shackle it, if we surround it with so many demands and threats in how we want that done, then it will be very difficult to get any number of positive or would-be buyers to that situation. That is why we have gone ahead and formed that committee; that is why we are sitting down in a calm, sensible, reasonable manner and looking out toward the future of how we would like, in partnership with the community, to see a private coal industry carry on. The greatest economic benefits from a continued coal industry can benefit; providing the jobs, the homes, the security, for all members of industrial Cape Breton and the communities of the greater Cape Breton and Sydney area.

I think that is why we have to be so careful and decide on what our priorities are and what future we are trying to create. We know that the federal government is leaving the coal industry, as in the form of Devco. That is absolutely apparent and there appears to be no turning back. Now it is important that we point ourselves toward the future, as a province concerned about those communities, concerned about the workers, concerned about their families, to ensure that the best opportunity to provide as many jobs as possible out of a profitable coal industry. That is why we are here to debate the issue today and not plagiarize political comments.

MR. SPEAKER: The time has expired for this debate. We will now move back into Supply.

[6:30 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Kevin Deveaux in the Chair.]

[Page 1560]

[6:48 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 progress and begs 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 Resolution No. 321.

Res. 321 re, Finance - Expenditure Add.: Health/Labour/Transportation/Technology & Science/Restructuring - Approval - notice given October 27, 1999 - (Hon. N. LeBlanc)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, these are two resolutions I am going to be debating. I will be doing one at a time. The first one is Resolution No. 321, this resolution is related to the requirements that this House approve the extra expenditures incurred by the previous government for the year ended March 31, 1998. First of all, I would like to say the intent behind this requirement is quite admirable. The intent is that this House approve the spending of taxpayers' money. This is to be done first by the annual debate of estimates followed by the Annual Appropriations Act.

The law then says that if additional requirements appear during the year, Cabinet may approve this extra spending as long as the requirement is for 1 per cent or less of the original approved budget. If the amount is greater, then the matter shall be the subject of a resolution such as the one that we are debating today. I believe it was originally intended that a resolution before this House on this matter be an unusual matter, that a resolution be an exception rather than the rule. The general case is that this governments live within their original budget and extra spending happens only where there is an unusual case, but this is not what has happened.

Mr. Speaker, this House has had to deal with a spending resolution every year since the requirement went into effect. Clearly, something has gone wrong and I believe the flaws are twofold. There has never been sufficient will to keep within the original budget plan and that is simply my observation.

[Page 1561]

Mr. Speaker, this resolution brings about the additional appropriations that took place in the fiscal year 1997-98 and, as I indicated to the Auditor General, I would be bringing this resolution before the House to ensure that we comply with the law, and I had indicated to the other two Parties that I would be doing so. This is the first of the two resolutions that I will be trying to bring forward tonight and with that I will take my seat. If there are any questions, I would be more than willing to answer them. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak briefly on the two resolutions, even though the second one hasn't been called yet. My remarks on this particular resolution, I guess, will apply to both. We are indeed pleased to see the resolutions brought forward. One shouldn't or can't only be looking at history, but the reality is the resolutions that we are considering here tonight should have been passed, one of them approximately two years ago. This Legislature has been in violation of the law because we have not sought the approval of this House for expenditures that have taken place.

The minister said that resolutions should be for exceptional situations and that he supports the principle of this resolution. Let's face it, Mr. Speaker, it is a fundamental constitutional principle that monies that are being expended have to be approved by this House. We do have some flexibility, or there is a modest flexibility and that is that they have to be within that 1 per cent range, so that if there is an overexpenditure within the department's budget of less than 1 per cent then there is not the requirement that an overexpenditure receive approval in this House.

I can remember being in this Chamber on many occasions, and I can go back even to the days when the current Minister of Finance sat in a previous Tory Government, when it was a common practice that we would have budgets that would be introduced into this Chamber and those budgets were anything but realistic and almost even before the ink was dry - or even before the ink was dry on the assent for the passage of that - Cabinet was meeting down in the bunker, behind closed doors, to approve additional appropriations. I think that was when there were blue curtains on it because this Minister of Finance was, of course, a member of that government and also a member of the Executive Council at that time.

It is an extremely important principle. If we are truly to have accountability, any expenditures - and there can be, as the minister does say, exceptional situations that can arise - and you cannot be 100 per cent accurate, but it is surely reasonable to expect that if those kinds of circumstances do arise, that after the fact, at the first opportunity, a resolution be brought before this House so that those extra appropriations can be examined and there can be a debate on those additional expenditures.

[Page 1562]

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see that this resolution is before us and that we are, by passing these resolutions - and given the numbers in the House, I am sure we will pass the resolutions - the money is also long gone, spent, we are talking about history now so what we are doing is, in a sense, correcting flaws from the past and you might say making almost an apology by passing these resolutions for what has been done before.

Before I take my seat, I want to remind the minister of his words about the importance of this because we have before this House, of course, the Financial Measures (1999) Act which has, the way the Act is written, a provision which would, if the Act passes as it is currently before this House, Mr. Speaker, make it so that no longer, or at least not for a few years, would there be the requirement for this government to bring in a resolution such as these if there are overexpenditures.

I know that, I am sure, was a mistake in drafting, it was one that got by them and was one, with the help of members in my caucus, I was able to identify and to bring to the minister's attention. I am sure that those problems will be corrected because it would even, in fact, be unconstitutional, I would suggest, for us to be expending monies without the approval of the Legislature. That has been demonstrated in Supreme Court rulings that expenditures of public monies must be approved by the elected representatives.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, to bring these longer-than-initially-intended comments to a close, I will be supporting this.That does not mean that I, in voting in support of the resolution, support necessarily where that money had been expended, nor does it mean that I in any way condone the fact that those resolutions are so late in coming forwar. I am not placing the blame for that on this minister, I just want to make sure that in future that certainly we do have a proper budgetary process and that if there are to be exceptional circumstances, which I acknowledge certainly can happen to any government that is on the government benches, but I just want to make sure that if that does happen, the resolutions that would authorize those expenditures would be dealt with properly on the floor of the House as they are required to be by law. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance is here this evening with a great deal of confidence introducing these resolutions to the House. That is understandable. He is sitting in a majority government position over there, not like we faced last year when the other two Parties were lying in wait for us to bring them to a vote in the House, just waiting for us and cajoling us every day of the week during the session of the House, why don't you bring that resolution forward, so you could defeat it and send the people of Nova Scotia into an election even earlier than they did.

[Page 1563]

I want to say that I agree with the resolutions coming before the House, but it is an academic exercise, as the New Democratic Party House Leader has said. Money is spent. It is a resolution that has to be approved by this House and I would say, the same as the New Democratic Party House Leader, that it is something we have to get on with, get approved, and I certainly will not stand in the way of that. The resolution here is an important resolution for the House. I think you have the numbers over there to see that it will pass so let's get on with it. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Finance, it will be to close debate on Resolution No. 321.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I want to say how much I appreciate the comments, but I do want to say though, in my closing comments, that the law as it is written is confusing because it says that you are supposed to approve this resolution before the expenditures would be made, if you read the Act and, of course, that is not going to happen and that is something that we should re-examine how we do it.

I agree that they should come before the House, but actually the way the Act is written, it almost appears to anyone who reads it that this resolution should be brought into the House and spent. Of course, Mr. Speaker, we all realize that the final accounting is not done until after the year end which would preclude you from doing that. So that is something, when we look at future legislation in regard to this, we should try to come around it as a House and decide what is the proper wording to make sure that it is consistent with what we are doing, because if you read the Act, you are almost supposed to have done this before it happened and that is not possible to do.

[7:00 p.m.]

So with those few comments, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all members for their cooperation and let's get this oversight done and let's get it done according to the laws of the Province of Nova Scotia. Thank you and I would move the resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to pass Resolution No. 321. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 1564]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 322.

Res. No. 322, re Fin. - Expenditure Add.: Education/Debt Serv./Health/Benefit Plans - Approval - notice given Oct. 27/99 - (Hon. N. LeBlanc)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do it again.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: I have no intention of repeating my speech other than to say just for the member's attention, this is for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1999. This of course is the second one. This would bring us into compliance with the rules. So, Mr. Speaker, with those few comments, I would take my place and invite debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Question.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is with regard to Resolution No. 322. 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 that the adjourned debate on the Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, could you please advise me on how much time I have remaining? I would be happy to take the whole hour.

MR. SPEAKER: I believe the member has 13 minutes.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, I think when I last had this opportunity I was talking about my riding, the community of Halifax Needham and all of the communities within it, and I had had an opportunity to speak briefly about the North End Council of Churches and their important work. I was about to talk a bit about the non-profit organizations in my constituency that are so important to that constituency.

There are so many of these organizations, I am not going to name them, except to say that many of these organizations, I think, feel vulnerable at this time knowing that the program review is underway by the new government. I think the next period of time will be a time of a lot of anxiety in my community in these organizations because of this. Many of

[Page 1565]

these organizations have been here before and they have gone through a period of downsizing and the freezing of revenue for the important work they do. So I think we need to be very mindful of how important these organizations are in the life of my community and there are many other non-profit organizations like them across the province.

I want to say a few words about the schools in my community. I have five very excellent schools in the area: St. Stephen's School, Highland Park School, St. Patrick's -Alexandra, St. Joseph's-Alexander McKay and Joseph Howe. Three of these schools are inner-city schools, Mr. Speaker, and they provide a place for children and their parents within the community to feel a real sense of belonging as kids learn to be good citizens in our community. I think that it is a real credit to the parents and the teachers and staff that they have been able to keep these schools so vibrant. They are truly wonderful schools to visit.

Because I have such limited time, I would like to move away from discussing the characteristics of my community and the features of organizations that are there, to say a bit more about the Speech from the Throne itself and the implications of the directions that are indicated in the Speech from the Throne for my constituency.

Mr. Speaker, I think if someone was to do a survey of members of this House, we would find there are an awful lot of values that we have in common. I think it would be true that members of this House would all want a caring community, we would all want a safe community and we would all want a clean environment, for example. We would differ, I think, greatly in our views of how to arrive at these things and in the way we explain why it is that we don't necessarily have these things.

Mr. Speaker, what distinguishes, I think, members of this House in the various political Parties that are here are our different world views. I think that it is important, as the person who represents my constituency, to talk a bit about the world view of my Party because people in my constituency want that world view reflected here. This is why they have elected me. The world view of this Party is that the economy should exist to serve humanity; humanity does not exist to serve the economy. This is a really important distinction in terms of the different world views represented in this Legislature. This document would suggest a laissez-faire approach to economic development, one that would allow the economy to develop with a minimal amount of interference from government. There are quite a few references in here to the notion that government needs to play a lesser role in our society and that we need to allow the market to dominate in the development of our society. That is not my world view and it is not the world view of members of my political Party.

It is our view that government has a really important role to play in the economy and that government has a very important role in terms of development and the creation of wealth and in the distribution of wealth in both of those things. There are places in here where the Speech from the Throne says that Nova Scotians know that government cannot invent jobs. Well, what is a nurse? What is a paramedic? There are all kinds of jobs that are public sector

[Page 1566]

jobs that, in fact, are created by government. So I don't understand that statement because it is not true and it is not the reality.

I think the other feature of the world view of this Party is the whole issue of equity and being at the core of the values of the social democratic Party and the fact that progress is measured in terms of the equitable distribution of wealth and opportunity in your society and progress is measured by the degree to which gaps between rich and poor are closed historically over time and by all accounts of what is occurring in our society today in terms of the equitable distribution of wealth or in terms of closing gaps between rich and poor, we have reached the end of progress because, in fact, the gaps are widening again after a relatively short period of time, actually, historically, that we have been able to close those gaps.

This is in spite of the fact that today we are in the richest period in our history in terms of Gross Domestic Product but so much of the wealth in our society is paper wealth. It is paper, it is financial transactions on the international money markets and it is also highly concentrated. It is not productive, it is not wealth that is reflected in employment and job creation in the goods and services sector. This is a problem internationally, globally and it is something that we really need to grapple with and come to terms with.

You know, so often when social democrats in this country talk about these issues, we are accused of being against business which, Mr. Speaker, is not the case at all. Our Party absolutely accepts the importance of a mixed economy, one in which there is public sector involvement, private sector involvement and the third sector, the voluntary sector, I think which is very important. The difficulties we have with respect to a business agenda that is solely a business agenda is one where we don't necessarily like environmental degradation or worker exploitation or racism or sexism in the workplace. Perhaps if our Party has an opportunity to write a Speech from the Throne, rather than talk about codes of conduct for teachers, we will talk about codes of conduct for corporations.

I really think it is important to talk about the difference in world view and this will be a difference that we will have a chance to talk about more and it is certainly one that people in my constituency know they can expect from me. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West on an introduction, first.

MRS. MURIEL BAILLIE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce two distinguished councillors from the municipality of Pictou and their wives, my brother-in-law Ron and his wife Norma, and Wayne Murray and his wife Wanda. Would you stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

[Page 1567]

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and present for the first time my Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I bring to you and all members present warmest greetings from my constituency of Pictou West. It is indeed an honour to stand in this historic Chamber where so many great individuals have come before me to represent the constituents and the interests of all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate and extend my sincere best wishes to all the members of this House, both new and returning. We have all been charged with a great responsibility and I am looking forward to working with each and every one of you.

Mr. Speaker, allow me to begin by congratulating you on your selection as only the second democratically elected Speaker in the Province of Nova Scotia. I am confident that you, like your predecessors, will work hard to uphold the sacred and time-honoured traditions of this House. I would also like to extend my congratulations to the three newly chosen Deputy Speakers, one from each of the three Parties present in this House.

Mr. Speaker, it is truly an honour to represent the people of Pictou West. These are hard-working people who believe in a full day's work for a full day's pay and they expect no less from their elected representatives and from their government. I want to ensure them and everyone here today that I, too, hold true to that work ethic and I will stand by it each and every day that I serve here in office. (Applause)

[7:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, at this time I would like to take a few moments to talk about the constituency of Pictou West and the great people who live and work there. Not only am I proud to be the elected member of this constituency but I am a long-time resident of the area, an area that, in my humble opinion, is one of the most beautiful and inviting regions in the province.

Mr. Speaker, I extend to you and all the members in this House an open invitation to come and see it for yourselves, but in the meantime let me tell you a bit about what you will find. Pictou West extends along the picturesque Northumberland Shore, home to some of the warmest waters north of the Carolinas, and sandy beaches renowned the world over. You will find rolling hills, lush green pastures, and clear rivers and brooks. You will also find thriving industries, including Michelin Tire Limited in Granton, employing some 400 local residents.

Pictou County has the distinction of being the site of the first Michelin plant in North America and is celebrating its 30th year this year. There is also Kimberley-Clark, a plant in Abercrombie, that just this past summer celebrated the production of its six-millionth ton of bleached craft paper. You will also find local businesses, success stories, including Scotsburn Dairy Limited, that celebrates its 100th Anniversary next year, the first year of the new

[Page 1568]

millennium. It was recently announced the Trenton Works plant received an order to build 1,000 rail cars, ensuring work until June 2000. While I recognize that the Trenton Works plant is in the Premier's riding of Pictou Centre, there are a significant number of people from Pictou West who are employed at this plant. A number of these individuals were formerly employed by Pictou Industries Limited, and before that known as Ferguson Industries, at one point the single largest employer in the Town of Pictou.

Mr. Speaker, let me tell you, it was a sad day in the Town of Pictou when the shipyard locked its gates a few years ago. To drive up Battery Hill and see an empty slip and hear only silence at 4:00 o'clock when once a work whistle blew to signify the end of a good day's work. These are difficult reminders of a once busy,dynamic industry that not only provided employment for as many as 400 workers during its heyday, but added definition and character to the town and its people.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that work has recently begun on the first of six, 75-foot, steel-hulled luxury yachts. This project is creating some 40 jobs for local platers, welders, carpenters, electricians, and plumbers. The yard's owners, MM Industra has also recently announced that they are working on a contract that would result in an additional 60 jobs at the yard. This is indeed very good news.

Mr. Speaker, there is no question of the value and importance of these large industries in my constituency and to Pictou County in general, but there is also no question of the value and importance of many locally owned and operated businesses and enterprises. Over the years they have formed the backbone of the regional economy, providing thousands of jobs and helping to circulate money within the region. The success of these small ventures has been the product of a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit that has long existed within my constituency. I believe this is something that we must all recognize and embrace, for it is indeed a cornerstone on which not only the economy of my constituency was built but, I would argue, the economic foundation for the entire province.

Mr. Speaker, I, for one, am pleased and encouraged to see this government moving forward in a way that not only recognizes the inherent value of small business to individual communities and to the province as a whole, and is committed to ensuring that Nova Scotia offers a business climate that encourages individual initiative and entrepreneurial spirit, (Applause) the heart blood of small business ventures, and the further commitment to establish a red tape commissioner to tear down the bureaucratic walls that constrict the spirit.

Mr. Speaker, in my constituency you will also find people who will welcome you into their homes for a cup of coffee or tea and a chance to talk about politics, the size of their catch or their crop, or the fact that the days are getting a little shorter and the nights are getting a little cooler. We Nova Scotians do seem to enjoy talking about the weather.

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The people of Pictou West are good, honest individuals who hold firm to a sense of family and community. Perhaps this is no more evident than in the many small rural communities that dot the landscape of this constituency. Small towns and villages such as my home village of River John - as well as Cape John, Caribou, Toney River, Seafoam, Lyons Brook, Durham, Abercrombie, Granton, Scotsburn, Loch Broom, Gairloch, Green Hill and Salt Springs and of course, Mount Thom, just to name a few, still contain names that can be traced back to early settlement.

Mr. Speaker, the largest urban centre within my constituency, the Town of Pictou, also embraces these values and traditions. The town is renowned as the birthplace of New Scotland, given that name because it was here, Brown's Point, to be exact along the north shore of the harbour, where some 189 Scottish settlers landed aboard the Ship Hector in 1773. These were, in fact, the first Scottish settlers to arrive in Nova Scotia and open the way for many more to follow in the years thereafter.

Mr. Speaker, my constituency has a long and proud heritage and history. Numerous activities, festivals, celebrations, church suppers and barbecues take place through the year, recognizing the different aspects of the region's culture, heritage, music and dance. The Hector Festival again proved to be a successful event, drawing people from all over the world to share in the remembrance of one the region's founding cultures.

Next year you will see the launch of the Ship Hector, a full scale replica of the original ship that sailed from Loch Broom, Scotland in 1773, dropping anchor some three months later in Pictou Harbour. Although the original vessel was old and was designed to carry cargo and not passengers, history lends its focus to the quality and durability of the ship, characteristics that were common of the Scottish settlers who boarded her some 226 years ago. These traits are evident today in the construction of the new vessel, a proud reminder of the region's Scottish heritage.

Mr. Speaker, one of the most popular attractions, not only to the Hector Festival but to the many celebrations held in Pictou County and around the Atlantic Provinces, is the Heather Vale Girls Pipe Band. This group, comprised of young girls ranging age from 11 to 17, brings to life the sounds of our Scottish culture. This past summer they spent the week in Calgary, performing before thousands at the world-famous Calgary Stampede.

This year's Pictou Lobster Carnival drew strong reviews for its celebration of the region's fishing heritage. Some of the region's best musical talent took to the stage alongside lobster boat races, a princess pageant and the annual parade through the streets of Pictou. And of course there is freshly cooked lobster, caught in the spring of the year, the tastiest in all of North America. Strawberry shortcake is served for dessert, made from the juiciest berries to be found anywhere, shortcake made from recipes handed down from generation to generation, baked by the best cooks in the province.

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My home community of River John again hosted River John Festival Days this past July. The event began with the ecumenical church service welcoming everyone from near and far. Breakfast on the verandah was served each day with a different community group hosting each meal. Every night there was free entertainment on the verandah, including performances by local musical talent that brought many to their feet to dance. A quilting fair is held, along with a fiddling contest which draws a large crowd into the community. Perhaps the most talked-about event among the locals is the ducky race, where people line the river bank to see whose duck would be the first to float down the river to the finish line.

Mr. Speaker, this is a great week for my village. Many people who grew up in the community and have moved away come home to see their families and friends and join in the fun. The success of River John Days is the result of the hard work of a number of volunteers who spend a lot of time planning the festival events. In fact, they will soon begin planning next year's event if they have not already started.

Pictou West is also widely known for its rich agricultural tradition. The days of our early ancestors and still today, farming has played a vital role in the region's economy. The Pictou North Colchester Exhibition was again a success this year despite a rather wet and cold final day to the festivities. In the absence of the carnival midway, the exhibition was more focused on the region's true agricultural identity, featuring vegetable displays and livestock competitions.

Mr. Speaker, there are many other events that deserve recognition.The Scotsburn Fire Department's pork shop barbeque and the Toney River barbeque were again well attended and sent a good many local residents home with a full stomach and a smile on their face. Church suppers and craft sales are held throughout the year and, although too numerous to mention individually, they deserve to be recognized because they are an important part of the community life in my constituency.

Mr. Speaker, I know that I am likely forgetting to mention a number of activities and events, but that is by no means an indication that they are not important. They are all invaluable pieces of community life. They bring people together to share stories and to generate and cultivate a genuine sense of community spirit that is an inherent part of the character of the region.

Mr. Speaker, for many people who were born and raised in these communities and for one reason or another have moved away, these festivals and events welcome them home to visit with their families and friends and to feel a bit of that community spirit they left behind. Although these celebrations and festivities occur throughout the year, many take place during the summer months, at which time the population of Pictou County grows dramatically. This is not only the result of sons and daughters, born and raised in Pictou County, coming back to their former hometowns, bringing with them their families, but also a great number of them are tourists from all over the world.

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Mr. Speaker, tourism plays a vital role in the economy of my constituency. The development of the Pictou Waterfront in recent years is a testament to this. Thousands visit the Hector Heritage Quay each year to learn about their Scottish ancestry and culture and to receive first hand the continued construction of a full-scale replica of the Ship Hector. The many fine restaurants and eating establishments, motels, hotels, bed and breakfasts, inns, lodges, cottage rentals, campgrounds, as well as the many shops and services available in my constituency all benefit from the presence of a vibrant tourism industry.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a few moments and talk about some of the tourist attractions that are available in my constituency. Pictou West is home to a number of fine museums putting our region's history and heritage on display for the world to see. The Hector National Exhibit Centre, established in 1973 to commemorate the bicentennial of the landing of the Ship Hector, provides a venue for local artisans to display their talents. Exhibits often feature crafts, beautiful quilts, hooked mats and artwork. The centre also has on hand extensive local heritage and genealogical information available and plays host to the popular Strawberry Festival in July.

Mr. Speaker, located next to the Hector Centre is the McCulloch House Museum, the former home of Dr. Thomas McCulloch, the man known in our province as the "Father of Liberalized Education.". During the 19th Century it was the efforts of Dr. McCulloch to establish a non-sectarian college in Pictou that resulted in the founding of Pictou Academy and laid the foundation for the education system we know today.

The Loch Broom Log Church, also constructed in 1973, stands as a tribute to the first session of the first Presbyterian Church of Pictou in New Glasgow, conducted by the Reverend James Drummond McGregor. The Norhthumberland Fisheries Museum, located in the recently restored CN station, provides a glimpse into the area's fishing industry and people. There are a number of displays on hand containing authentic fishing gear, the original fishermen's bunkhouse, a lobster fishing boat, the Silver Bullet, built during the 1930's and won three consecutive lobster carnival races. The deCoste Entertainment Centre is the focal point for year-round live entertainment by the world's famous acts, featuring music, drama, variety shows and ceilidhs. It truly provides something for everyone.

[7:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, these museums and facilities, and there are many others, in addition to the festivals and events of which I have spoken, illustrate the opportunities that exist to develop cultural tourism not only in my constituency but throughout Nova Scotia. Indeed, cultural tourism already has a firm base in Pictou County but there exists room for expansion and development. The constituency of Pictou West has much to offer tourists as they pass through and visit our region. The provincial parks of Caribou and Waterside offer access to beautiful beaches and relaxing picnic areas. The Greenhill Lookoff also includes a picnic area, along with a spectacular view of the entire county and offers a spectacular view of what is now truly

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an explosion of colour that blankets the countryside during the fall when the leaves change their colours.

Visitors can play a round of golf at the Pictou Golf and Country Club. An extensive network of walking and adventure trails are available year-round for hiking and biking in the summer and skiing in the winter. The Jitney Trail extends three kilometres along the waterfront to the site where the passengers of the Hector came ashore. It follows the path of the train tracks that once carried both freight and passengers to and from Pictou and derives its name from the noisy diesel electric train that used that line from the 1890's to the 1960's.

The Short Line Trail continues from Browns Point to Scotsburn, passing the site where the Mile Bridge that was lost to fire in 1993 came ashore. This line once provided a fast route for westbound Pictou County coal, that is the main line, via Truro, but due to declining freight traffic was abandoned in 1985. The Fitzpatrick Mountain Trail from Scotsburn to Millsville is a narrow, woodland hiking trail offering a more challenging adventure and more suitable for hiking, skilled mountain bikers and trail runners. The trail was developed entirely by the Pictou County Trails Association with the cooperation of landowners along the route.

The Munro's Island Nature Reserve located near the Caribou Provincial Park is home to a number of species of wildlife indigenous to the area, including eagles, geese, ducks, osprey and fox. The land was turned over to the provincial government in 1992 for use as a protected site and now offers visitors an opportunity to explore and hike around the island, in hopes of catching a glimpse of wildlife in their natural habitat.

Mr. Speaker, bird watching has long attracted visitors to Pictou County. Bald eagles and osprey are common to the region and make nests in various areas of the county. The nesting site beside the Harvey A. Veinot Causeway, named after the longtime MLA for Pictou West and a former Speaker of this House, provides a unique opportunity to get a close-up view of this migrating species who return to this site every year. This has, indeed, become a major landmark in Pictou County. In fact, t-shirts are sold in the local shops that have a picture of a cormorant on them, along with the name of the town for which they have helped to make famous.

Mr. Speaker, as you can see, ecotourism has already taken a firm hold on our constituency. I have keyed in only on the more popular activities that are available to tourists in the local areas alike. During the winter months the fun does not stop. There are over 500 kilometres of snowmobile trails throughout Pictou County. Sleigh rides are always a popular family activity. Winter carnivals are held during the cold winter months of January and February. Ice sculpturing, snow-shoeing, skating parties and dances are just some of the activities common to these events. Do not forget the popular pancake and sausage suppers. Winter, summer, spring and fall, Pictou West offers something for everyone. Whether you are a local resident or a tourist from afar, the opportunities are endless for adventure and

[Page 1573]

entertainment. It is important to get this message out, not only to Nova Scotians but to the world. These opportunities must be seized and new ones found.

Mr. Speaker, for example, representatives from the Pictou Heritage Quay and Pictou recently attended the Atlantic Canada Showcase in Prince Edward Island. More than 300 buyers and sellers in the motor coach industry were present for this event, which provided the opportunities for Atlantic Canada to demonstrate the world-class products we have to offer. My constituency, the County of Pictou and the Province of Nova Scotia all have world-class products to offer with respect to tourism.

With this in mind, I feel the decision to create a new Department of Tourism and Culture is a necessary and positive step to utilizing this vibrant industry for the entire province. I am especially pleased to see in the Speech from the Throne this government's recognition not only of the importance of the tourism industry in this province, but also the importance of this industry to the economic future of rural Nova Scotia. This is of particular interest to the people of my constituency and also to the many other Nova Scotians who stand to benefit from this commitment.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge my support for the Speech from the Throne as presented by the Lieutenant Governor. It outlines many of the issues that are of concern to the constituents in my area and indeed provides a clear course of action to address these issues. Health care is a high priority for Nova Scotians. This is especially true for the people of Pictou West. This government has identified health care as its first priority: to build a healthier society, deliver better health care to Nova Scotians and to bring communities back into the decision-making process. I welcome these commitments and I am confident in the vision being displayed by this government that the necessary actions will be taken to ensure that we do indeed have a healthier society and a health care system that provides what Nova Scotians need and what they want most.

Mr. Speaker, education is another issue of concern in Pictou West. My first career as a public school teacher began in a one-room school house in Melville and that was not yesterday. Over the years as a teacher and later as a principal, I came to see many changes in the education system in this province. Long gone are the days of the one-room school houses. Most recently, this province has come to see the construction of new high-tech buildings with all the bells and whistles.

Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention to say that the children in this province deserve anything less than the best possible education. To be successful in the world of today and tomorrow, they require a curriculum that prepares them for a dynamic, fast-paced world, characterized by rapidly involving technologies. They also need schools, facilities and teachers that have the capabilities of delivering this curriculum. But this does not translate into a licence to build palaces. Schools that stand as a monument are a tribute to the government, school board or politicians who are responsible for their construction. (Applause) School

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closures and new school construction have been issues of great concern to the many constituents of Pictou West. This past summer construction on a new elementary school began in the Town of Pictou under a contractual arrangement between the province and a private developer. It pleases me to see construction has continued on this needed facility.

But, Mr. Speaker, without a thorough understanding of all the costs and benefits associated with this type of arrangement, many people are left wondering how this will impact on the future generations of students and taxpayers. I was very pleased to see this government uphold its commitment to re-examine P3 school construction so as to better determine what impact these types of arrangements will have, not only the finances of the province, but also on the education of present and future generations of Nova Scotia's children.

Mr. Speaker, one line from the Speech from the Throne caught my eye, "While quality health care and a strong and vibrant economy are critical to this province's success in the 21st century, it is the skill, talent, and resourcefulness of Nova Scotians that will take us there.". This is the vision on which the commitment to direct every available tax dollar of education is found. This government recognizes the importance of education with the focus on providing learning opportunities for all students. This represents a departure from the way government has viewed education over the past six years. We don't need palaces, we need schools built to a standard that provides learning opportunities that are consistent with the demands of the economy of today and tomorrow. (Applause)

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear! Hear!

MRS. BAILLIE: We indeed do need opportunities that are provided in a credible manner so that the students are the determining factor in the level of success, not the government.

Mr. Speaker, the roads are also an issue of significant importance to the people of Pictou West. It is no secret that a good many secondary roads throughout this province are in need of maintenance and work. This is also very true in my constituency. Many of the calls I receive are in relation to the deteriorating condition of our roads. People are looking for a commitment that work will be done to improve and maintain the current network of roads in this province. I am pleased to see the commitment outlined in the Speech from the Throne. I am encouraged by this government's long-term plan for the investment in both primary and secondary highway systems and to increase highway funding and future budgets.

Mr. Speaker, this past summer a twinned section of Highway No. 104 between Salt Springs and the Westville turnoff was completed and opened to traffic. This new section permits a safer and quicker commute from New Glasgow to Truro. However, in bypassing the communities of Salt Springs and Alma, a number of the businesses are removed from the direct flow of traffic past their front doors. This is of great concern to many of the residents of this area who are affected by the bypass.

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Mr. Speaker, there needs to be improved signage along the new stretch of highway, identifying the businesses and services that are only an exit away. I am encouraged and pleased with our government's plan to examine the present highway signage policy. The Minister of Transportation and Public Works has already taken the initiative to meet with the business owners who are adversely affected by the Alma Bypass. Together, they are going to come up with a plan. This government talked about working with communities and this government is working with communities.

Mr. Speaker, one of my constituents told me the other day that getting elected was the easy part. Now comes the challenge of carrying out the duties and demands of being an elected Member of the Legislative Assembly. Far be it from me to stand here today and challenge that statement for I do not need to say that getting here was by no means an easy task. I say that not to pat myself on the back but rather as a way of recognizing and thanking everyone who worked on my campaign.

I would first like to thank Don McInnes, the former member who sat in this Chamber for 19 years as the elected member for Pictou West. (Applause) Don, you deserve to be recognized at every opportunity for your years of dedication and service to the people of this constituency and I thank you for your words of advice and encouragement throughout the campaign. I would also like to recognize Jennie McInnes, Don's wife. She, too, worked hard as a member of my campaign team. A number of others deserve recognition, including my campaign manager, Luke Young (Applause) team members: Art MacDonald; Scotty Grant; Ron Baillie; Nancy Sharp, my official agent; and the numerous poll captains who worked so hard throughout my campaign. To each and every one of you, I want you to know that your enthusiasm was inspiring, your commitment unwavering and your resolve was relentless.

Unfortunately, it seems to be human nature to leave the best to the last. The most important people in our lives are the ones you can always count on for encouragement and support, your family. My sons, Raymond and Donald, and my daughter, Deborah, and their families who contribute wherever possible and whenever possible. It would be impossible for me to stand here today and show my appreciation to my supporters without extending special words to my husband, Bill. (Applause) It was this man who first encouraged me to let my name go forward as a candidate and has been nothing but my most dedicated supporter not only during the election but through our years together. To simply say thank you to someone who means so much to me hardly seems enough but at the same time, I feel it has to be said. Thanks, Bill. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, although I have gone to some length to describe my constituency as one that is rich with history and largely comprised of small, rural communities, Pictou West is very much a modernized region that takes full advantage of new technologies to make our industries bigger and our lives better.

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[7:45 p.m.]

For example, if you were to visit my constituency today, you would find a number of gift shops selling just about everything from a small keepsake for tourists, who wish to take home a little reminder of their visit to this beautiful region, or books that outline the history of Pictou County and Town. But if you or anyone were unable to make the trip and would like to have something to take from this region, you can go on-line, place your order over the Internet, books, postcards, greeting cards, audiotapes and calendars are just to name a few of the items you can buy.

Mr. Speaker, this is evidence of a region that is moving forward, seizing opportunities and embracing new technologies that enhance, not only their present lives, but directly benefit their futures. The people of Pictou West recognize the value of the past and they want to share the responsibility of building and shaping their future. They want to have their say, whether it be in relation to the state of the health care system, education or economy.

Mr. Speaker, it is most encouraging to see that this government is offering no less. Thank you very much. (Applause)

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I guess I would really like to begin by just thanking the member for Pictou West for a very emotional and moving Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I say to you, it was an admirable job well done.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today and stand in my place to make my second Reply to the Speech from the Throne. It is my second reply but the first with this government. Before I begin, I would like to congratulate you on your election as Speaker, and I want to assure you that you can count on my cooperation as you watch over the rules of this House, and that I have faith in your even-handedness, your impartiality and your dedication to the fundamental nature of your office, which is the fair administration of this House. I also want to extend my congratulations to Mr. Taylor, Mr. Gaudet and Mr. Deveaux, your deputies.

I would like to begin by extending a welcome and my personal congratulations to all the members of this House, and I also want to congratulate the families and the supporters of all of the members. When you take your place here, it is because your family has endured many hours without you, or, in the alternative, many hours with you, but at campaign events and at doors and at meetings rather than in the comfort of your own home. Your supporters, whether they are drawn to you by ideology, past service, Party favour or just by the force of your personality and charisma have worked hard on your behalf and they deserve our congratulations and respect.

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Mr. Speaker, I have much to say about my constituency and the weighty matters of concern to the residents of those two fine communities, but with the election so recently over, I feel I must get right to work. Already this government, moving with virtually break-neck speed has done much that is worthy of criticism. They need to be chastised. The Throne Speech made us, on this side of the House, very uneasy. The budget coupled that unease with trepidation, and might I say tending toward fear. As I listened to the Minister of Finance deliver his Budget Address, I felt an emotion not unlike one feels when they are in a motor vehicle that hits ice and spins wildly out of control. There you are, no choice but to hold on and do your best to bring some direction to the vehicle.

Mr. Speaker, that is my job. My job is to try and bring some direction to this government. My job is not only as an advocate but to educate. We here in the Opposition have an important role as a very passionate group of observers. There are many great stories about politicians and political life. Indeed, I listened intently as the member for Kings North told a humorous fiction. He is an able performer in matters of mirth and although I have never had the opportunity to visit his congregation or to hear his sermon when he is engaged in his serious occupation, I am left with the sense that his church is a lively, comfortable and, I am sure, very instructive place.

He reminded me of a story about Sir Randolph Churchill who was visiting a prominent London barrister in an attempt to convince him to leave his practice and seek a seat in the House of Commons as a Conservative candidate. In his flamboyant manner he encouraged his prospect to join him in the great cause of Tory democracy. Just then the barrister interrupted him and he said, Mr. Churchill, I have often heard you refer to Tory democracy in public, but I am not clear exactly what it is. Well, Mr. Churchill paused, and then hesitantly he is reported to have said, that he often feared being asked that question in public. Then he said, you know, I am not really sure what Tory democracy is, but I think it has chiefly to do with political opportunism.

So, Mr. Speaker, apparently not much has changed. The Tory platform which was entitled "Strong Leadership . . . . a clear course", is as riddled with opportunistic, jingoistic palaver as any document I have ever seen. This document - and I say seriously, Mr. Speaker - displays anything but leadership; in fact, quite the opposite. The purpose of this document was to divide Nova Scotians into metro Nova Scotians, Cape Breton Nova Scotians, Acadian Nova Scotians and rural Nova Scotians. This was a document that was designed to diminish our citizenship and to fragment our common values into statistical data to be charted night after night in trend lines and cross tabs, in polling presentations and that is all that it was.

This mendacious document is now the foundation of the government's so-called plan. Well, there is no plan as I just pointed out and it was never intended as such. It was always a prop, an effective and cynical prop but a prop nonetheless. I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that we on this side of the House will be examining carefully over the coming weeks and months as each of the 243 mischievous undertakings are twisted and then subsequently

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declared fulfilled. Well, there will be a little smoke, a little misdirection, all manner of courtroom tricks and theatrics; nothing of substance. The citizens will be dissatisfied but the great cause of Tory democracy will be fulfilled.

Mr. Speaker, I say this with profound regret because there is a place for leadership for one who has the conviction of one's beliefs. There is room for those would stand against the tide of public opinion and to do what is right at any cost. But that is not what we saw from the government caucus in the last election and it is certainly not what we saw in their dealings with the paramedics in the debate just past. I have to say I don't think that I was ever as ashamed in my life, in my political career, as I was with the postcard designed to support the election of the Minister of Education. Its import was to suggest that the closure of Sysco would result in more hospital beds.

Mr. Speaker, this is demonstrably false. This is misleading and cynically sinister. It is shameful and abhorrent, the antithesis of leadership. It is the antithesis of leadership to pit one part of the province against another and to pit the needs of the health care system against the livelihood of families. (Applause) This is not leadership. We know it, the Government caucus knows it and the Premier knows it. So much for the opening pleasantries. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I am fortunate to represent two great communities in the riding of Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. I have now slogged its streets in February and March in the election of 1998, and this year I laboured along its roads in the heat of June and July. Interestingly, I found that the different seasons gave me a fresh perspective on the communities that were generous enough to cast their votes in my favour.

The first community is part of the great City of Dartmouth which I was also very pleased to represent on a city council of days gone by. I mentioned this before, but it bears repeating Dartmouth is the emerald city of the east; it is an ornament to this province, it is the City of Lakes. It was the recent site of the World Canoe Championships. It is the home of championship paddlers, and it is the home of the best senior baseball team in the province over the last 10 years, and a national champion. Don't get me wrong, Mr. Speaker, I wish the Kentville Wildcats very well next year as they represent our province, but I can't but think that their victory was an aberration and I am confident already that victory will be Dartmouth's in the next year.

Mr. Speaker, Dartmouth is the home of the Starr Manufacturing factory. It is not in my riding; in fact it is in Dartmouth South, but a contributor to the history of Dartmouth and the province and the country. You may know, but from the humble factory on Prince Albert Road came the modern tube skate which, with modest improvement, is still used today. It is Dartmouth's contribution to our national game. When Team Canada takes to the ice, the ingenuity of Dartmouth citizenry is on display.

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Mr. Speaker, with all respect to Kingston and Windsor and other communities that lay claim to the game of hockey, can it be doubted that Dartmouth, with its many lakes, was home to the earliest games of what we would recognize as hockey?

In my earlier academic career, as I studied the history of this province, I recall early newspaper reports . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member care to make a motion to adjourn debate?

MR. DEXTER: Well, Mr. Speaker, I was just getting going but I realize that the hour is upon us so I would like to adjourn debate for this evening. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: All ready for the question? 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, the hours for tomorrow will be from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The order of business following the daily routine will be estimates for four hours and, following that, we will be doing second reading of Bill No. 12, the Mineral Resources Act and, following that, maybe one or two Addresses in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, and that will be it for the day. Thank you very much.

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

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned until 9:00 a.m.

[The House rose at 7:59 p.m.]