Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Tue., Nov. 9, 1999

First Session

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Private and Local Bills Committee, Mrs. M. Baillie 1760
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 545, Health - Diabetes: Awareness Month (Nov.)
& World Day (14/11) - Recognize, Hon. J. Muir 1760
Vote - Affirmative 1761
Res. 546, Nat. Res. - Mining Conf. (Hfx. 8-9/11/99): Organizers -
Congrats., Hon. E. Fage 1761
Vote - Affirmative 1762
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 547, Health - Nurses: Add. - Action, Mr. Robert Chisholm 1762
Res. 548, Health - Mgt.: Failure - Recognize, Mr. D. Downe 1762
Res. 549, Germany - Reunification: Anniv. 10th - Recognize,
Mr. W. Dooks 1763
Vote - Affirmative 1764
Res. 550, Health - Sackville Sport Stadium (Lake Dist. Rec. Assoc.):
Fitness Facilities - Congrats., Mr. J. Holm 1764
Vote - Affirmative 1764
Res. 551, Sports - Hall of Fame (N.S.): Mike MacPhee
(Rich. Co.-NHL Star) - Induction Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 1765
Vote - Affirmative 1765
Res. 552, Al & Mildred Casey (Waverley): Wedding Anniv. 50th -
Congrats., Hon. P. Christie 1765
Vote - Affirmative 1766
Res. 553, Senator Bernard Boudreau - Econ. Dev. Strategy (Wave):
Dangers (Coastal [N.S.]) - Beware, Mr. F. Corbett 1766
Res. 554, Human Res. - Mary Beth Fall (Hansard [N.S.]):
Service (25 yrs.) - Congrats., Dr. J. Smith 1767
Vote - Affirmative 1768
Res. 555, Remembrance Day: True Meaning - Reflect, Hon. R. Russell 1768
Vote - Affirmative 1769
Res. 556, Health - Care: Workers (Front Line) - Priority, Mr. D. Dexter 1769
Res. 557, Environ. - Waterworks Prog.: Organizations
(inc. Bras d'Or, Rich. & NSP) - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 1769
Vote - Affirmative 1770
Res. 558, Culture - Celtic Colours Internat. Festival: Organizers/Volunteers
- Congrats., Mr. K. MacAskill 1770
Vote - Affirmative 1771
Res. 559, Educ. - Timberlea-Prospect: Schools New (3) -
Staff/Pupils Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 1771
Vote - Affirmative 1771
Res. 560, Sports - Soccer (Metro HS League): Dart. HS -
Runner-Up Congrats., Mr. J. Pye (by Mr. W. Estabrooks) 1772
Vote - Affirmative 1773
Res. 561, Sports - Soccer (Metro HS League): Prince Andrew HS -
Play Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 1773
Vote - Affirmative 1773
Res. 562, Kristallnacht: Dignity Day Prog. - Remembrance, Mr. H. Epstein 1774
Vote - Affirmative 1774
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 20, Emergency "911"Act, Hon. J. Muir 1774
No. 21, Pharmacy Act, Hon. J. Muir 1775
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 233, Health - Nurses: Shortage - Working Conditions,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 1775
No. 234, Health - Nurses: Shortage - Plan, Mr. R. MacLellan 1776
No. 235, Health - Nurses: Increase - Evidence, Mr. Robert Chisholm 1777
No. 236, Health: Nurses - New (Post-Election), Dr. J. Smith 1778
No. 237, Health - Admin.: CEOs Add. - Savings, Mr. D. Dexter 1780
No. 238, Health - Admin.: Savings - Use, Mr. R. MacLellan 1782
No. 239, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Antigonish: Bypass Route -
Selection Process, Mr. W. Estabrooks 1783
No. 240, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Marine Atlantic HQ: N. Sydney -
Jobs, Mr. B. Boudreau 1784
No. 241, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Antigonish: Bypass Route -
Decision Responsible, Mr. W. Estabrooks 1785
No. 242, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Antigonish: Bypass Route -
Decision Date, Mr. R. MacLellan 1786
No. 243, Health - Care: Changes - Monies Source, Mr. D. Dexter 1787
No. 244, Justice: Correctional Facilities - Review, Mr. M. Samson 1788
No. 245, Health - Dep. Min.: Contract (Dr. T. Ward) - Release,
Mr. D. Dexter 1789
No. 246, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Snow Removal: Operators/
Equipment - Changes, Mr. P. MacEwan 1790
No. 247, Educ. - Whycocomagh: Students (Grades 9-12) -
Busing (Mabou) Safety, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1791
No. 248, Nat. Res. - Crown Lands: Timber Rights - Negotiations,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1792
No. 249, EMO: Emergency Serv. (911) - Fee, Mr. D. Dexter 1793
No. 250, EMO: Emergency Serv. (911) - Fee, Dr. J. Smith 1794
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 18, Petroleum Resources Removal Permit Act 1795
Hon. G. Balser 1795
Mr. J. Holm 1796
Mr. Manning MacDonald 1803
Hon. G. Balser 1805
Vote - Affirmative 1806
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 11, Foresters Association Act 1807
Mr. K. Morash 1807
Mr. John MacDonell 1807
Vote - Affirmative 1808
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 2:22 P.M. 1809
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 2:30 P.M. 1809
CWH REPORTS 1809
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No.7, Financial Measures (1999) Act 1809
Hon. N. LeBlanc 1810
Mr. J. Holm 1810
Vote - Affirmative 1812
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 2:41 P.M. 1812
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 3:07 P.M. 1812
CWH REPORTS 1812
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 8, Municipal Elections Act 1813
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 1814
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1822
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1836
Mr. J. DeWolfe 1850
Mr. F. Corbett 1853
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health - Admin.: Cut - Unplanned:^^
Dr. J. Smith 1856
Hon. J. Muir 1859
Mr. D. Dexter 1861
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. R. Russell 1864
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. R. Russell 1865
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Mr. F. Corbett [resumed] 1865
Dr. J. Smith 1871
Mr. K. Deveaux 1886
Adjourned debate 1889
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Nov. 10th at 11:00 a.m. 1889
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 563, Remembrance Day - Wave of Silence: Support - Proclaim,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1890

[Page 1759]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 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 tonight's late debate was submitted by the honourable Leader of the Liberal Party. It reads:

Therefore be it resolved that Tory promises to find $46.5 million through the budget reallocation and trimming the fat in health care administration were just promises made to get votes and not promises that they plan to keep.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

1759

[Page 1760]

MRS. MURIEL BAILLIE: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Private and Local Bills, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 6 - Maritime Life Assurance Company Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 545

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

Whereas diabetes is a serious condition which affects more than 2 million Canadians and is a leading cause of death by disease; and

Whereas there is a great need to raise funds for research into better methods of treatment and ultimately a cure; and

Whereas the Canadian Diabetes Association is attempting to focus public attention on the need for funds for diabetes research, education, service and advocacy;

Therefore be it resolved that this House take the opportunity to recognize November as Diabetes Awareness Month and November 14th as World Diabetes Day and encourage all Nova Scotians to contribute as they can when a Canadian Diabetes Association canvasser knocks on their doors.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1761]

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

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 Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 546

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

Whereas all day yesterday and today here in Halifax, representatives from the mining community across Nova Scotia and other parts of Canada are gathering for the Mining Matters of Nova Scotia '99 Conference, which includes illustrated poster displays, detailed talks, as well as mineral resources in industry; and

Whereas this event includes a partnership involving the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Economic Development, the Chamber of Mineral Resources of Nova Scotia, the Mining Society of Nova Scotia, and the Nova Scotia Prospectors Association; and

Whereas mining has long been a mainstay of the provincial economy and provides stable long-term jobs for Nova Scotians, provides raw materials and finished products used in every- day lives here;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating staff of the Department of Natural Resources for all their hard work in organizing this conference and their efforts in informing and educating many others about the various aspects of this very important industry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1762]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 547

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

Whereas the first point on the first page of John Hamm's Plan for Nova Scotia says, "A John Hamm Government will: Make sure that Nova Scotia has the nurses it needs . . ."; and

Whereas the third point on page one is a promise of immediate action within 90 days of forming government to ensure that Nova Scotians are receiving the right kind of care; and

Whereas the plan acknowledges "the critical shortage of nurses" and promises as our first priority the core funding required to establish additional full-time nursing positions;

Therefore be it resolved that it is past time for action to achieve the Conservative promise of additional nursing positions to meet the critical shortage of nurses, which the Conservatives acknowledged before July 27th.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 548

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 Tories promised in the election campaign that they would establish core funding required for additional nursing positions; and

[Page 1763]

Whereas they also promised they would miraculously find $45 million in health care administration to pay for all their health-related election promises, despite spending $200 million more in their first budget without any results; and

Whereas the need for 650 new permanent nursing positions underlines the fact that the Tories had no idea what they were talking about when they made their impractical promises;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that the Tories are a complete, utter and hopeless failure when it comes to management of the health care in our province.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 549

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

Whereas for almost 30 years the Berlin Wall was a suppression of human rights and existed for only one reason, to prevent the citizens of the German Democratic Republic from exercising the only voting option available to them, their feet; and

Whereas over a period of three decades, more than 200 individuals trying to escape East Germany were shot and killed by East German border guards; and

Whereas today marks the 10th Anniversary of the end of the Cold War and the reunification of East and West Germany as one country;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature recognize the historic importance of this date in world history and along with our fellow Nova Scotians and during this week of Remembrance, we commit to keep such barriers from ever being resurrected again.

[Page 1764]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 550

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

Whereas preventative health care should be the wave of the future in health care systems everywhere; and

Whereas physical fitness forms the core of preventative health care; and

Whereas the Sackville Sports Stadium, under the guiding hand of the Lake District Recreation Association, is expanding its facilities to meet the ever growing demands for fitness in Sackville and surrounding communities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Lake District Recreation Association and the Sackville Sports Stadium for this welcome addition to the health care system of the Sackville community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1765]

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 551

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleague, the honourable member for Richmond, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas River Bourgeois, Richmond County native, former NHL great Mike MacPhee was recently inducted into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame; and

Whereas he scored 200 goals; 399 points in 744 NHL games with Montreal, Minnesota and Dallas, along with 55 points in 134 playoff games; and

Whereas the second oldest son of Stan and Monica MacPhee's six children was discovered playing with the Junior B Strait Pirates and he went on to combine a successful sports and academic career, graduating as an engineer from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, and an MBA at the University of Dallas;

Therefore be it resolved the members of this House congratulate Mike MacPhee for his successful career and induction into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 552

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

[Page 1766]

Whereas on November 10, 1999, Mr. and Mrs. Al Casey, residents of Nova Scotia and valued residents for 40 years of the community of Waverley, will celebrate their 50th Anniversary; and

Whereas the Caseys are well known, valued and active members of the community, involved over many years with the Royal Canadian Legion and the Wellington United Church;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend their heartfelt congratulations and best wishes on the occasion of Mr. and Mrs. Casey's 50 Wedding Anniversary.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 553

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

Whereas Senator Bernie Boudreau is surfing all the way to the bank at taxpayers' expense on "Catching Tomorrow's Wave" in a desperate Liberal attempt to win Nova Scotians back to the unpopular Party; and

Whereas taxpayers are paying for Boudreau's surf board as he fights an undeclared election campaign from the Senate Chamber with a document that has not been approved by the federal Liberal Government; and

Whereas the Senator cannot pass himself off in this province as a narly surfer dude;

Therefore be it resolved that the rocky coast of Nova Scotia is the perfect place for the surfing Bernie to wipe out.

[Page 1767]

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East on an introduction.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce in the west gallery today a relative of mine and a resident of Glace Bay, a hardworking student at the Marconi Campus in Sydney, my nephew, Mr. Richard MacDonald. Would you please welcome him. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 554

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

Whereas today at the World Trade and Convention Centre the province will present long service awards to staff who have had long and successful careers in the Public Service; and

Whereas Mary Beth Fall of the Hansard office will be recognized for 25 years in the employ of the province; and

Whereas Mary Beth, who joined the staff of Hansard in 1988, following employment in other branches of government, has been totally dedicated to transcribing the verbal thrusts that occur in this Chamber;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations and best wishes to Mary Beth on her long service to the province and her fellow citizens.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

[Page 1768]

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 Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 555

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

Whereas each year at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Nova Scotians pause to honour and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our country; and

Whereas more than 100,000 Nova Scotians participated in the two World Wars and the Korean Conflict; and

Whereas Remembrance Day must be honoured by each of us in recognition and thanks given for the supreme sacrifice made for our country;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House pause on November 11th to reflect on the true meaning of freedom and recognize the monumental contribution made by the thousands of men and women who gave so much for our freedom.

[12:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 1769]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 556

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

Whereas Nova Scotians' health is at risk because of the ongoing nurses shortage; and

Whereas the new Deputy Minister of Health will possibly make in excess of $304,000, but we don't know that for sure as the government will not produce the contract; and

Whereas a nurse in this province makes about $40,000 and 7.6 nurses could have been hired at the cost of one Deputy Minister of Health;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government be reminded that front-line health care workers should be the government's first priority and not back-room pencil-pushers.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 557

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

Whereas Nova Scotia Power provides financial support through its Waterwork program to community groups dedicated to improving the environment's watercourses and waterways throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this year some 18 organizations have received support in the range of $500 to $10,000 for their environment enhancement projects: and

Whereas the Bras d'Or Stewardship Society, and the Richmond Wildlife Association are two of the 18 organizations that received funding this year;

[Page 1770]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the 18 organizations receiving assistance through the Waterwork program, including the Bras d'Or Stewardship Society, and the Richmond Wildlife Association and commend Nova Scotia Power for its environmental commitments.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 558

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

Whereas the Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia met this past week in Halifax to honour those who work behind the scenes to promote Nova Scotia music; and

Whereas the Cape Breton Celtic Colours International Festival won the award for Best Music Event of the Year; and

Whereas other nominees in this category include the prestigious Stan Rogers Festival, the Fiddles of the World event, and the Great Big Picnic;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House once again congratulate the many organizers and volunteers who work to make the Celtic Colours International Festival the premier cultural event in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 1771]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 559

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

Whereas the communities that make up the growing constituency of Timberlea-Prospect have students now attending three new schools; and

Whereas Madeline Symonds Middle School, St. Margaret's Bay Elementary, and Ridgecrest Middle School have had an eventful fall; and

Whereas Principals Leander Drover, Kevin Power and Terry Wadden have shown exceptional leadership throughout their schools respective openings;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its congratulations to Principals Drover, Power and Wadden, their teaching staffs and students on a successful school year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West on an introduction.

[Page 1772]

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery I would like to introduce to you and through you to all members of the House, three very distinguished individuals: Robin Boudreau - the wife of my colleague, the honourable member for Cape Breton the Lakes, Brian Boudreau - their daughter, Cora Lee; and her good friend, Storm Marie Evans from the Northside area. I would ask if they would rise and receive the warm approbation of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 560

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution: Mr. Speaker, I do wish to pass this on to someone else. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect. (Applause)

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: On behalf of the member for Dartmouth North, I have seen you in a movie somewhere, haven't I? (Laughter)

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

Whereas the Metro High School Soccer League has fostered top-quality competition among participating teams; and

Whereas the 1999 Dartmouth High School boys soccer team enjoyed an outstanding season in the Metro High School Soccer League; and

Whereas the team qualified for the Division I Provincial Championship held in Cape Breton on November 5th and 6th and finished a close second;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the coach and the players of this first-class team on their achievements and wish them the best of luck in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1773]

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. 561

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

Whereas school sports programs provide a sense of identity for participants and build school spirit through healthy competition; and

Whereas the Prince Andrew High School boys soccer team of Dartmouth enjoyed an exceptional season in the Metro High School Soccer League in 1999; and

Whereas the boys team qualified for the Division 1 Provincial Championship over formidable opposition and represented their school well at provincials;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Prince Andrew Coach, Aaron Cowper, and his team on their sportsmanship and their outstanding play this fall.

I would request waiver and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

[Page 1774]

RESOLUTION NO. 562

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 marks the anniversary of Kristallnacht, or the Night of the Broken Glass, when the Nazi Government unleashed a pogrom against the Jews of Germany on November 9, 1938; and

Whereas this event marked the movement towards perhaps the darkest stain on the human soul, the Final Solution, a systematic program of genocide, designed to annihilate every Jew in Europe; and

Whereas the Dignity Day Program, established in 1992, serves as a day to affirm the better qualities of human nature, a day to stand against intolerance and a day to remember Nazism's victims;

Therefore be it resolved that this House, on Dignity Day, reaffirms in the words of the prophet Ezechiel, "let memory startle us on sunny afternoons in sudden silence, when we are with friends, when we lie down and when we rise up . . . let us remember and never forget.".

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Just before we move into Question Period, I would ask for the agreement of the House to revert to the order of business, Introduction of Bills.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 20 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1992. The Emergency "911" Act. (Hon. James Muir)

[Page 1775]

Bill No. 21 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 343 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Pharmacy Act. (Hon. James Muir)

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

ORDERS OF The DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time is 12:25 p.m., Oral Question Period will finish at 1:25 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

HEALTH - NURSES: SHORTAGE - WORKING CONDITIONS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am going to direct my first question through you to the Premier. Yesterday the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union held a press conference to highlight the problem of the nursing shortage. Many nurses are forced to work overtime, putting their own health at risk and compromising the care of their patients. They feel they have absolutely no choice as a result of the shortage in nurses in the Province of Nova Scotia. I want to ask the Premier to explain, why have nurses seen no improvement in their working conditions since his government came to power?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows that in a recent number of weeks 130 more full-time positions have been, in fact, established. We have, as well, other programs that are designed to counteract the nursing shortage that is developing into a crisis. We are looking at the tuition program that will be coming forward. We are looking at the 75 new training seats that have been established. As well, we will be appointing, in the very near future, a nursing advisor to keep track of the crisis in nursing that all of us in this House realizes exists.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the whole question of the nursing shortage was one of the key issues in this past summer's election campaign. This Premier promised that he would improve conditions for nursing not just in the future but immediately, by hiring 100 new nurses; not converting casuals to full time, but new nurses into the system. The promise was that they would do that within six months, and four months into this government's mandate, we still haven't seen anything. I want to ask the Premier is he prepared to make sure that commitment, his promise made to Nova Scotians, will be fulfilled? One hundred new nurses - not conversions, but new nurses - by the end of six months?

THE PREMIER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that commitment will be kept. I know the member opposite understands that it is a very complex problem. The initial reaction, of course, to create from casual positions full-time positions is part of the strategy that will make a nursing

[Page 1776]

career more attractive here in Nova Scotia and will encourage nurses, who are currently practising their profession outside of Nova Scotia, to return to Nova Scotia.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier said when he was on the campaign trail that he understood as a doctor what the problem was. He led Nova Scotians to believe that not only did he care very deeply about what nurses were going through, but he said that he would take care of the problem. The nursing shortage is getting worse. I want this Premier to commit here today to the people in the nursing profession and all Nova Scotians that believed him when he said he would take action that he will, in fact, ensure that there are at least 100 new nurses put into the system within the next couple of weeks.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will repeat that commitment today for the benefit of all members of the House. As well, I will repeat that commitment tomorrow when I meet with the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union president.

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

HEALTH - NURSES: SHORTAGE - PLAN

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. The Premier lets on that this is really something new that there is a shortage of nurses, that really this has just landed in his lap. The Premier heard from nurses during the election campaign, before and after about the chronic shortage of nurses and the fatigue with which they had to deal, which was driving a lot of them out of the profession they love. In our election campaign, we promised 400 new nurses in the first year; 200 new nursing positions, 200 converted from part-time to full-time. Where is this Premier's plan to deal with the nursing shortage? He didn't have it then, he doesn't have it now. Where is it? When is he going to bring it forward?

[12:30 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will remind the Leader of the Liberal Party that it took them 2,190 days to create this problem. We have been working on it for 86 days. It is going to take us another few days to fix it. (Applause)

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the Premier says he knew about this situation. He is a doctor. He is supposed to have known about the shortage of nurses. He said there would be 100 new nursing positions. Nothing has come about. The nurses themselves say there have not been any new nurses brought into the system under this government, in the time that they have had. When will this Premier, I ask him again, provide a program for the retention and obtaining of new nurses for the health care system in Nova Scotia?

[Page 1777]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will refer the Leader of the Liberal Party to the answer that I gave to the Leader of the New Democratic Party. If he doesn't remember the answer, I will repeat the four-pronged approach that we are taking to solve the nursing crisis in this province. If the member opposite would nod that he can't remember the answer, I will repeat it. (Interruptions) I am waiting for the nod. I didn't get one. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I haven't heard an answer from the Premier. In two questions, there wasn't one answer. He is going to be meeting with the nurses tomorrow, who have told him that no nursing positions have been created under this government. Why has this not happened? He promised 100 new nurses, woefully inadequate even at that number. Is he going to give the nurses his assurance that their recommendations will in fact be adhered to? Will he do this, yes or no?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, yes, we will be working with the nurses' union to solve the problem. I will be meeting with the president tomorrow. I will remind the Leader opposite that we will create 100 new positions. We will follow up on the program to have 75 more training seats available. We will have a tuition program, and as well we will have a nurse advisor to work closely with the profession to make sure that this crisis is adequately addressed. (Applause)

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

HEALTH - NURSES: INCREASE - EVIDENCE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Health. I have found it somewhat disturbing that in the last little while the Minister of Health has been saying that the nursing shortage is not as bad as it was a few months ago. I would like to ask the minister to explain to this House on what evidence he bases this conclusion, that the nursing shortage is not as bad now as it was a few months ago.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has answered that question to some degree. However, I think the fact is that certainly the position with nursing in Nova Scotia is a lot better now than when we took office. I think that is recognized throughout the province. For example, there have been about 130 full-time nursing positions that have been created in the past several months. The majority of those went into the Western and Northern Regional Health Boards, but certainly some of those were conversions but the fact is that they are now full-time positions. (Applause)

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the question, of course, was to provide me with the evidence which the Minister of Health decided to ignore. My first supplementary, nursing unions, nursing educators and health organizations have spent months working on a

[Page 1778]

plan to analyse and address the nursing shortage. This task force has found that the nursing shortage is critical and that no improvements have been made since this government came to power. I would like to ask the minister to explain why it is that this government is suddenly ignoring the advice of nursing experts who say that the situation is critical?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the report to which the honourable member refers, I believe, was an interim work in progress submitted to the minister and is not complete by any means. There were some draft recommendations in there which certainly we are considering and looking at their implementations. Again, I emphasize, it is a work in progress, not a final work, and it presumably wasn't supposed to be public document but obviously it is.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, this minister's mismanagement of the health care system is a work in progress. That is what the work in progress is. The nursing task force says that the situation with respect to the shortage of nurses in the province is critical. If this minister doesn't agree with that, would he explain to this House today on what basis he reaches the decision that the nursing shortage is not critical and what is he going to do to respond in this matter to the situation raised by the nursing task force?

MR. SPEAKER: That was two questions, I believe.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Leader of the New Democratic Party for that question. As I said, we are studying the interim report, myself and my staff. There are a number of initiatives which have taken place in the province. I believe when that task force did present its reports, and I am aware of it, was some time ago when it was presented to me and there have been things happen in that interim which may not have been reflected in it. I think one of the things that probably wasn't as well recognized as it could have been in that report was the 130 full-time positions that were put into the system. For anybody to say that things are not better than they were when we took office, that is not correct. Now that is not to imply that we don't have a long way to go. The Premier recognizes that, I recognize that, but in contrast to the group that was here ahead of us, I want to tell you that we are doing something about it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH: NURSES - NEW (POST-ELECTION)

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it is shameful that that honourable minister would get up here this afternoon and say that after what we have heard from the Premier. We can't get an answer from the Premier so I will go to the Minister of Health. All the Premier is doing is recycling things that have been announced. He has no shame and he presents it in this House with the arrogance that he does.

[Page 1779]

Last evening, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health reported to members of the media that nurses should be happy with what has been done in the nursing profession since his government took power. We just heard the litany of recycling initiatives that have been brought in by the previous government. The minister indicated that 130 nurses had been hired. My question to the minister is simple. Could the minister please indicate how many of these 130 nurses that he claims - unjustfully, in my opinion - his government has hired are new positions, new nurses in the system? How many are new nurses of the 130 that they have stolen from the ones that we brought in?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Dartmouth East for that question . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Was it a question?

MR. MUIR: . . .or statement, whatever you would like to call it. Perhaps poor defence on the efforts of his government. Anyway, as we talk about the creation of full-time nursing positions and we know that the government has not hired those nurses, it has been the Western Regional Health Board and the Northern Regional Health Board and the Eastern Regional Health Board and so on, and the NDOs. I think the question that the honourable member is asking, I don't have the specifics of that question at my fingertips but we can find that if he would like us to.

DR. SMITH: So the minister doesn't know how many full-time positions have been created in the new nursing positions. Okay, I just wanted to be clear on that, Mr. Speaker, because I am quite surprised, even though I know that the Department of Health doesn't hire them, at least . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. SMITH: The Liberal Government had committed in our budget to hiring 200 new nurses and to convert 200 casual positions to full time. My question to the minister is simple, Mr. Speaker, when is your government hiring the 100 nurses you committed to hiring in the Throne Speech? When will that be done?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the member for Dartmouth East has some sort of a short memory because I think in a late debate one night we discussed this, but I can tell him that hiring continues. There are 130 new full-time positions in the province since we took office. The boards continue to advertise and those who saw the provincial media last weekend saw advertisements for nurses, so the process continues. I am optimistic that we will surpass our target but, as all members recognize, the numbers of nurses that are available for hire in the province are not as great as we would all like.

[Page 1780]

I can say as well that of the boards that did hire, in conversation with those people, there was a pleasing interest in people to come back home when full-time positions were made available. We have created 130 full-time positions and we have made it attractive for nurses to come back to Nova Scotia. (Applause)

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I repeat that that minister has no shame. He takes advantage of statistics. They have not created 130 new positions; those were recruited in the northern and western regions and that has been pointed out in debate here before. My final supplementary is, the health investment fund that we had proposed had monies allocated to deal with work-life issues; we heard that yesterday very clearly from the nurses' union, the issues surrounding work-life issues of nurses. My question to the minister is, how much money has been allocated in the budget, passed here last evening, to address the work-life issues of nurses? What specific programs and what costs have been passed in the budget?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there are a number of initiatives that we have undertaken to increase the numbers of nurses in the province. One of them, as the former minister had pointed out, really didn't get implemented. We did that, but he did point it out, the 75 new nursing seats in the province, which we thought was pretty good, the creation of 130 full-time positions since we have taken office, and it is more than that. That was the count I had a while ago and it is more than that now.

The assessment . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Is this a Ministerial Statement?

MR. MUIR: . . .of our health care facilities is under way. Obviously, Mr. Speaker, we would like to make our decisions based on some evidence rather than the ramblings of members of the Opposition.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Obviously the question and answers are a lot longer than the House would like, so I would request all members - I don't mind the preamble going into the question - but I would ask that the supplementaries be a question, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

HEALTH - ADMIN.: CEOS ADD. - SAVINGS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the new Tory plot for health care includes nine regional CEOs as opposed to the current four CEOs. That is interesting because I could have sworn that during the election campaign this government promised to make better use of health care dollars by cutting down on administration. So I would like to ask the Minister of Health, exactly how much money will be saved in the system that has five additional CEOs and more senior administrators?

[Page 1781]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as I have said a number of occasions in this House and elsewhere, the primary reason for restructuring the health care system was not a financial matter - although we do expect savings will be effected - it was to make a more responsive and responsible health care system for Nova Scotians.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the translation was he doesn't know or doesn't care. Considering how much this government is paying for a Deputy Minister of Health, we know that it isn't concerned about reducing administrative costs. We know the current CEOs of regional health boards are paid in the ballpark of $100,000 . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DEXTER: Now, how much will each of the nine CEOs be paid?

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I could make a comment that reflects on what he and his colleague did last week. Let them create a number because he will say anything simply to get some publicity, but the fact is these people have not been hired. It will be some time before they are and that will be dealt with at that time.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this government has made no assurances that current regional health board employees have any job security. Perhaps their jobs will be safe if they are known to be sympathetic to the government. At any rate, this government has said that it will deal with the regional health board staff fairly and compassionately.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DEXTER: I ask the minister, what assurance will the minister give regional health board staff that they will not be treated with the same fairness and compassion the government has shown to paramedics, charities and the disabled?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will repeat what we said earlier, that employees of the regional health boards, as the restructuring takes place, will be treated with fairness and compassion.

MR. SPEAKER: That was better.

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

[Page 1782]

HEALTH - ADMIN.: SAVINGS - USE

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health talks about it now being a responsible health care delivery system. He still has not answered the question as to how he is going to get the $46 million out of administration that he is going to use to put into the health care system, particularly when he has increased the CEOs, the medical directors and the support staff by five. Where is this money from administration going to come from that he said he could achieve during the election campaign?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question and, indeed, we expect there will be administrative savings made right across the system. Hopefully, it will come up with the number which we project and maybe optimistically you will see that. We believe that there are efficiencies that can be achieved in the system.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I hope the next time the Minister of Health goes to see Reveen, he does not leave until he comes out of the hypnosis.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Not only was it unparliamentary, but it was not nice. I know the honourable Leader of the Liberal Party wants to retract.

MR. MACLELLAN: I do not mind being unparliamentary, but I certainly do not want to not be nice. You really hit me in a soft spot.

MR. SPEAKER: Good.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health is saying that he is going to reduce health care costs by cutting in administration. We know he cannot cut the administration so he has to cut the health care delivery system. Where are these cuts going to be made in health care in Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the Leader of the Liberal Party knows, there are a number of initiatives and studies to try to generate some hard-core evidence on which we can make future decisions about cost-saving, including the reviews that are going on now about facilities use.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, there is no reduction in the cost of administration. There has to be some way that this minister is going to be able to force hospitals to meet the budget that they set. The only alternative is to cut costs. Will the minister tell us how he is going to maintain the level of health care in the Province of Nova Scotia that the people of this province demand?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, it is my belief and that of my colleagues on this side of the House, and I think on careful analysis it would be supported by all members of the House, as

[Page 1783]

we restructure health care, health care in this province will actually be improved under this government.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - ANTIGONISH:

BYPASS ROUTE - SELECTION PROCESS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. During the campaign, Mr. Premier, you mentioned that you would like to relax at a little cabin you own with a few friends. I would like to ask the Premier, do any of these friends have a vested interest in the red route for the Antigonish bypass?

THE PREMIER: I am trying to think if I can come up with a response that would indicate that they do. My initial reaction, going quickly over the list, is that they don't.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, it is well known around Antigonish that big business interests like the Sobeys want to see Highway No. 104 stay where it is. They support the red route. Mr. Premier, I am not sure whether this issue has ever come up at the fishing lodge that you co-own with Donald Sobey but I would ask, since your friends and political donors, the Sobeys, have a vested interest in the red route, will you remove yourself from deliberations on the issue of the Antigonish bypass to ensure the perception of fairness is preserved?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that since 1993, when I got into politics, I haven't been able to find time to spend a single night at the camp to which the member refers. The second thing I can assure you, that no conversations have occurred between myself and any of the people that are associated in that particular camp with me, no conversations have taken place about the red, the blue or the brown route.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the property details of this piece of property that is co-owned by Donald Sobey and a Mr. John Hamm. Mr. Premier, Nova Scotians need to be assured that this decision is made fairly and openly. Will you at least confirm that your new code of conduct, which you said will soon be available to the public, will instruct ministers to listen to community voices and not to backroom boys or guys at the camp who are out on a fishing expedition?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the only one fishing is the member opposite. (Laughter) The member opposite doesn't have a single piece of evidence that backs up his suggestion that that activity in which I engage has anything to do with the red, the blue or the brown route. Shame on that member.

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

[Page 1784]

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

N. SYDNEY - JOBS

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier, of course. It is no secret that I have been dying to ask the Premier a question about the Marine Atlantic jobs in North Sydney, but today he will not escape. (Laughter) The Premier started to tell me that he looked into this issue and the situation and he told me that there was nothing to worry about. Well, I don't think he told the workers, because the workers are concerned and are very much worried, as are the elected municipal representatives for the area and the community, and I share that concern.

Mr. Speaker, my question is, when did the Premier plan on telling the workers at Marine Atlantic that their jobs are safe?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I know the member opposite is concerned, as all members of this government are for every job in Nova Scotia, including those in North Sydney connected with the ferry service. Since the member brought it to my attention that he believed that the negotiations might be taken taking place between the Government of Newfoundland and Marine Atlantic, I have made ongoing enquiries as to whether or not anything is happening on that front. I can assure the member opposite that as recently as this morning I was assured that no formal or informal talks are taking place.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, these workers are hearing quite a different story than what the Premier is telling. They hear that the Premier of Newfoundland is busy lobbying Marine Atlantic officials, as well as David Collenette on a regular basis. My Leader and former Premier Russell MacLellan met this issue head on, and he negotiated a benefit for these workers that saw a great benefit for these workers. As the Premier, what are you doing to protect these jobs?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite continues to pursue what is a very important issue, the jobs in North Sydney. It is on the agenda of things that will be an ongoing discussion point between myself and Senator [Bernard] Boudreau and members of the federal government. Those are jobs that historically have been in North Sydney. It is the position of this government, and we will pursue it aggressively, that those jobs stay in North Sydney.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago the Minister of Transportation and Public Works said he would wait and see and then react. Last week, the Premier said he would do nothing. The workers in North Sydney are nervous and they are scared. Will the Premier guarantee the workers in North Sydney that these jobs and their positions are safe?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I will say to the member opposite is that I share his concern. The member opposite knows that one could not give that kind of a guarantee, but the guarantee I will give is that this is a priority of this government, I will make it a

[Page 1785]

priority of mine, I will work together with the member opposite to make sure that those jobs which historically have been part and parcel of the economy of North Sydney will continue to be so.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - ANTIGONISH: BYPASS ROUTE -

DECISION RESPONSIBLE

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The Safe Roads Community Coalition in Antigonish said in a news release that you would be choosing the blue route in spite of personal wishes of the Minister of Housing. Can you confirm, Mr. Minister, that this government will finally be showing some responsibility by listening to the community and safety experts in your very own department by choosing the blue route?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. I think the announcement was a bit premature in that no position has been taken by this government. We are reviewing the information that we have available, and of course the right decision will be made based on safety factors, based on environmental screening factors, based on cost, and the decision will be made at the appropriate time.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, can the minister then tell us what route he will recommend to Cabinet, the red route supported by the Minister of Housing and a few business elites, including Sobeys, or the blue route supported by the community and your own department's safety experts?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, when the announcement is made, he will be aware as will all Nova Scotians. The decision will be made based on the information presented and not before and not on the floor of the House.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Minister, the press release indicates that you had to "read the riot act" to the Minister of Housing to get him on board. Can the minister confirm whether the interference of the Minister of Housing or the Premier is responsible for the delay in making a decision on the Antigonish bypass?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the time taken to make the decision is because the time is needed to review the information. One does not want to make a decision prematurely based on misinformation or false information. There was no interference and no delay caused by any conversations.

[Page 1786]

[1:00 p.m.]

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - ANTIGONISH:

BYPASS ROUTE - DECISION DATE

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works knows that his own department has already made a recommendation for the blue route. That work has been done. He knows that there has been dialoguing with stakeholders and that has been done. I want to - just on the basis of that - ask the Premier, a lot of work has been done on that, pretty well all the background has been completed, where does this stand with the Premier and his government and when will we get a decision as to which route will be chosen?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that that decision will be made when the minister responsible takes the report to Cabinet and asks for a decision.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, my supplementary is to the Minister of Tourism and Culture. The Minister of Tourism and Culture knows that the choice of this route has tremendous ramifications for Antigonish and Guysborough Counties and all of Cape Breton Island. He has said that he would be doing dialoguing with the stakeholders and that he would be getting back to us after that dialoguing has been done. Could he please tell us what the results of that dialoguing are? Has it been completed and what are his findings as a result of those consultations?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member can be assured that we are having discussions with the Department of Transportation and Public Works and the minister. All parties will be consulted and when the decision is made public, the member will be well aware of it and we will go on from there.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, it seems that the assurances that we were given, that the stakeholders would be consulted, has not taken place. Nothing has taken place, no consultations have taken place and the people who have a direct bearing on this route have not been consulted. I go to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, why has this matter frozen? Why has nothing happened, why is the minister ignoring the recommendation of his own department? Why won't the minister admit that the blue route has been chosen and the minister just will not give that information? He doesn't want to give the people who are dependent on this route, the assurance of where this route is going.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There were three or four questions there. The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works, if he would like to answer one.

[Page 1787]

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, in fact I personally consulted with all the proponents, or at least representatives of the three routes, in terms of what their concerns were and why they were supportive of a particular route. That information was reviewed and we are in the process of preparing a recommendation to take to Cabinet. So in answer to the question, will we be carrying forward a recommendation; yes, we will.

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

HEALTH - CARE: CHANGES - MONIES SOURCE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of Health introduced his government's health care restructuring plot which should be called, total lack of direction for the health care system. In the so-called plan, the minister admits that there will be no initial large savings. In fact, the report states there will be a business planning and budgeting process established to determine the funding of the health care system, including hospitals. My question for the minister is, why is the minister throwing our province's health care system into chaos without having bothered to determine how much this change will cost and where the money will come from?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will probably answer the last question first. Clearly the money is going to come from the budget of the Health Department. The other question that the honourable member asked is clearly the restructuring. He has sort of scare tactics, or whatnot, about restructuring, the failure to recognize that a more responsive and responsible health care system is what Nova Scotians need and wish.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister is saying, trust us. We heard that before. He is telling us that this new system will be better; really just wait for the specifics. This plan has no vision for the health care system. It has no analysis of health trends in our province. It is déjà vu all over again. Will the minister please explain why Nova Scotians should trust this make-it-up-as-you-go-along plan any more than they supported the equally misguided Health Investment Fund?

MR. MUIR: I would think, Mr. Speaker, the answer to that question was made abundantly clear back on July 27th. That was an item in our platform and we are proceeding with it.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this directionless plan will do little to convince Nova Scotians that this government is going to use tax dollars wisely. Why shouldn't we believe that this needless and costly restructuring is just a display of vanity by a Party who wants desperately to put its mark on the health care system at any cost?

[Page 1788]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, our efforts in restructuring health care are not driven by vanity by any means, as certainly the honourable member knows. What we are committed to is trying to improve the health delivery service and also improve the health of Nova Scotians. That is the sole basis for the changes that we are making.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

JUSTICE: CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES - REVIEW

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Cost overruns at the relocated corrections facility in Burnside are expected to be over $1.2 million. That does not take into account unforeseen delays and the addition of another winter building season. In order to pay for this overrun, the minister will have to find money somewhere. There are several correctional centres throughout the province that could be put in jeopardy as a result of the cost overruns at this facility. My question to the minister, can the minister confirm for this House whether any of the existing correctional facilities are being reviewed for closure or consolidation?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the honourable member's question. The very short and simple answer to that is that, as the honourable member knows, there is a program review ongoing in this province and as part of that program review we are looking at all government expenditures.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, yes, we are aware of the program review. With every program under this review, we can only assume that the future of any or all of these facilities is in question. These facilities include Shelburne Youth Centre, Cumberland Correctional Centre, Antigonish Correctional Centre, Colchester Correctional Centre, Guysborough Correctional Centre, Lunenburg Correctional Centre and the Yarmouth Correctional Centre.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, can the minister now commit to either keeping these facilities open or explain to Nova Scotians his government's plan for correctional services in this province?

MR. BAKER: Again, the question has been asked in this House to other ministers before. All programs are under review. I am, obviously, not able to commit to whether a particular program is going to be affected or not.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the members of his Party representing these very communities will be anxious to have this question answered properly by the minister considering that the cost of corrections has risen by $2.5 million over the past three

[Page 1789]

years and now it will rise even more as a result of the blatant political decision to elect the Minister of Community Services.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is, will the minister commit to tabling before this House any present or future assessments on the feasibility of correctional facilities in rural Nova Scotia?

MR. BAKER: The honourable member fails to take cognizance of the fact that the Burnside correctional facility is being constructed within the envelope of funding approved by himself when he was a minister.

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

HEALTH - DEP. MIN.: CONTRACT (DR. T. WARD) - RELEASE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, last week this government promised, inside and outside the House, that it would release the contract it had signed with the new Deputy Minister of Health as soon as it is finalized. To date we have heard nothing. There are two possible reasons, either the government announced a new deputy minister before the contract was finalized or they are desperately trying to rewrite the terms of the contract so they do not match the figures that we released last week. My question to the Premier is, why won't the Premier release today the contract for his new deputy minister?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we did make a commitment to release that contract. We did make a commitment that you would see it before the House rises and we will keep that commitment.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this government seems a bit fuzzy on how the Freedom of Information law works. Under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the wage and benefit package of all civil servants is fully releasable. There are no secrets when it comes to Civil Service pay - no secrets. My question to the Premier is, why is this government once again thumbing its nose at the Freedom of Information law?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the Opposition Parties are having trouble coming up with good questions. We have said to the members opposite that you will have the contract, its complete detail, and you will have it before the House rises.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, we want something more than just the contract. I am sending across to the Premier a Freedom of Information request for all of the details surrounding the negotiations with the new Deputy Minister of Health. My question to the

[Page 1790]

Premier is, what assurances can you give Nova Scotians that this request for information will be answered promptly and completely?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite doesn't seem to like reassurances. You will have the contract, and if you are putting in a Freedom of Information - which is superfluous because you are going to get the information - it will be complied with.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - SNOW REMOVAL:

OPERATORS/EQUIPMENT - CHANGES

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, and it is not about Route 104 in particular. With winter fast approaching and the cool air in our midst, one's thoughts quickly turn to snow and to the removal of snow from the highways. Last year the Department of Transportation had 400 pieces of equipment for winter snow removal, and 469 trained equipment operators on the road. I am wondering could the minister update the House as to whether there will be any changes in those numbers for the upcoming snow removal season?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I don't have those numbers right at hand, but I would take it under advisement and get them for the member.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, given this government's penchant for imitating Mike Harris and the Tories in Ontario, I wonder if the minister would be kind enough to advise the House whether or not the snow removal operation will be part of a privatized snow removal operation this upcoming winter or in the future?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, there is no intention at this point in time to privatize that particular aspect of the operation. While our programs are under review, we haven't discussed that in terms of restructuring at this point.

MR. MACEWAN: I appreciate the nuance of at this point and not at this time; we will continue to pursue this in the future. I would also like to ask the minister, as a final supplementary, about the 57 salt depots that are spread across the province. I wonder, could the minister advise the House as to whether he or his government intend to privatize the salt depots, or to centralize them perhaps in one central location rather than having them at the present existing 57 locations under government ownership?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, again to the honourable member, there is no intention at this point in time to relocate or restructure.

[Page 1791]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - WHYCOCOMAGH: STUDENTS (GRADES 9-12) -

BUSING (MABOU) SAFETY

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. Last Friday the school in Whycocomagh was empty. Parents and students were protesting this government's decision to press ahead with plans to move students in Grades 9-12 to the new school in Mabou despite serious concerns from the community and opposition regarding many things including the distance and the safety of bus routes. My question to the minister is, what assurances can you give the parents of Whycocomagh that their children will be safe?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, yes, the parents were protesting a school board decision to move the high school students to a new school in Mabou. The school board and the parents and the community are talking now about new busing routes. The routes are not all laid down yet, decided yet. Parents are still upset, but I can assure the member opposite that the safety of students is one area under the Education Act where the minister has the authority to intervene and that if I feel, or anyone in this government feels, the safety of the students is in jeopardy, we will intervene.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this was a school board decision supported entirely by the minister. I would like to table an article from the Inverness Oran dated February 17, 1999, in which the Minister of Natural Resources, sitting right there beside the Minister of Education, is quoted as saying that, " . . . he supports efforts by the people of Whycocomagh to keep a primary to twelve school in that community.", and moreover he says he believes that, it is " . . .fundamentally wrong, for the board to reject the community's wishes.".

[1:15 p.m.]

My question to the minister is, why has this government made a U-turn and turned its back on the parents of Whycocomagh?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, this government has reviewed all the decisions made by the Strait Regional School Board. I have visited Whycocomagh. I have talked to the parents group twice. There are many considerations in the area. We have agreed and supported the board's decision to move the high school because the process was too far along at this point to change. To please the parents of Whycocomagh, would have created too much upset in other communities. So, we have supported the school board's decision to move the high school students to a new school.

[Page 1792]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: In an open letter to the former Minister of Education, the Premier said that, I believe your department's objectives could be met with a community-based proposal that satisfies the needs of all the communities in this area. So my question is, why did this Premier seriously mislead the people of Whycocomagh with that commitment? Why are they being let down now?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member is well aware that to imply that someone intentionally misled would be unparliamentary. I would ask her to retract that. I would ask the member to rephrase the question please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I will do that. My question to the minister is, the people of Whycocomagh thought that those commitments made by the Premier in that letter meant that they would be given fair consideration, why have they been let down now?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the group in Whycocomagh that is protesting the school board decision has been given very fair consideration.

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

NAT. RES. - CROWN LANDS: TIMBER RIGHTS - NEGOTIATIONS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. It is my understanding that the Sproule sawmill operations near Truro, which was recently purchased by the J.D. Irving family, is undergoing some significant expansion and renovation. Of course, any extensive renovation and expansion would need additional lumber to operate. As the minister is well aware, there is great concern about the over-cutting in the province. So my question to the minister is, are the Department of Natural Resources and J.D. Irving presently negotiating expanded timber cutting rights on Crown lands?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, a very good question As the honourable knows, certainly Sproule Lumber is an employer in the area of Colchester County which provides lots of good long-term jobs. In regard to Crown leases, in regard to volumes of wood, there are no requests to my knowledge for additional leases but I will endeavour to check and return that information to the honourable member.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that there are some discussions taking place. Given as his own staff has indicated that, "unprecedented cutting has left all regions of the province unsustainable". In light of this particular claim by his own staff, how could his department even entertain such a request for any expanded cutting rights?

[Page 1793]

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, as he well knows, the recent report on cutting in Nova Scotia was tabled and Crown lands are certainly sustainable, large private holdings are sustainable, but small private woodlots need more attention and we are attempting to do that at the present time.

As the member opposite would also well know, most Crown lands have obligations, in many cases already in place, as far as cutting rights and leases. Certainly our department is cognizant of respecting the ones that are in place and managing the forests of Nova Scotia that are owned by the taxpayer in a prudent manner for everyone's use.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, what we are seeing here, the small woodlot owners, as the minister may well understand, represent 75 per cent of the total woodlot acreage in the province, but there is growing concern that small sawmill operators are going to be squeezed out by the large operations such as MacTara and the Irvings.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, what particular plan does he have that would guarantee enough woodcutting rights to the small sawmill operators, ensuring them equal access to Crown lands?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, he well knows that for many years a number of long-term leases, such as the Stora arrangement, had been committed on many areas of large holdings of Crown land. The private woodlot owners he mentions, the small private is about 50 per cent of the private holdings in Nova Scotia, not 75 per cent; 75 per cent is the total of large private woodlot holdings as well as small private woodlot holdings. So that no one is mislead on the proportion, it is 75/25.

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

EMO: EMERGENCY SERV. (911) - FEE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, with this government, the hits just keep on coming. The minister has just introduced a bill that will provide for fees to be charged for the 911 service. This is a government that promised no new taxes. Will the minister explain, why is this government proceeding with legislation that will allow them to tax the provision of emergency 911 services?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I think that is probably not representing the intent of the bill correctly. The bill, is going to be under consideration and I am not so sure he can ask a question like that, can he?

[Page 1794]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Was the member's question about the bill that was tabled? (Interruptions) It is a bill before the House. (Interruptions)

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is, is it the intention of the government to charge for the provision of 911 service in the province?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we do not have any intention at the present time to charge for 911 calls.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in the government's press release, they talk about bringing forward legislation which is going to cost the people of this province more. The very straightforward question for the minister is, why would the minister seek new taxing powers before his program review is finished?

MR. MUIR: Is that question pertaining to the bill that is on the floor? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: He didn't mention the bill; I don't think it pertains to the bill itself. (Interruptions)

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I can say at this particular time, if the intent of the government is to suggest some changes to the Emergency 911 Act, then obviously that is a program which has been reviewed.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia want the answer to this question. How much is it going to cost them to dial 911?

MR. MUIR: I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that it is going to cost the same thing today that it cost yesterday.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

EMO: EMERGENCY SERV. (911) - FEE

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, just to follow up on that, I think it is a very important issue because we see now the further dismantling of the system as we know it. Is the minister making it clear that the fee structure for 911 has been discussed and is it subject to review, or are there plans to bring that forward at this juncture? Is it part of the review or is it already in the works that there will be a fee charged for 911?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, at the present time this government has no plans to introduce anything in terms of fees for 911 service.

[Page 1795]

DR. SMITH: The other parts of the services with this, Mr. Speaker, is a very comprehensive service and are there other parts of that 911 and the dispatch centre that is under review?

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 18.

Bill No. 18 - Petroleum Resources Removal Permit Act.

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

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise today and speak in support of this particular piece of legislation. The bill will, in fact, improve the way in which we do business in this province. It is one that has been brought forward as a direct result or the recognition that, in fact, we do need to support the petroleum industry.

We reviewed very carefully the legislation that was introduced by the previous government. It was put in place to ensure that there would be a permitting process in place to protect Nova Scotia's ability to remove distillate so that we could ensure that Nova Scotia would have a petroleum industry. Out of that, though, came a realization that with the signing of an agreement between the Sable partners and the Government of Nova Scotia that, in fact, it was creating unnecessary bureaucracy. We feel very strongly that the amendments that are being proposed will, in fact, make a much better process. It will become seamless because what will happen when there is a signed agreement in place, it does not require the invoking of the legislation.

However, by the same token, with the amendments we have proposed, it will mean that should companies involved in the industry not be able to reach an agreement, there would be an opportunity for the legislation to be enacted so that, in fact, Nova Scotia's interests would be protected. We hope that the Parties opposite will see that this is an improvement over the existing legislation and, in fact, works well with the agreement process that is in place. So I

[Page 1796]

would like to move the bill forward for second reading and I look forward to hearing other comments from members across the floor. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, we do not have the bill in our Bill Books. The bill has not been distributed to us and it is not in our Bill Books, the one that is up for discussion at the moment. I wonder though if the minister could indicate if the bill in its entirety is the same as the amendments that he had suggested to me previously and that is by inserting a Clause 1, Subsection (22(1) with the clause respecting a person who is exempt from this Act by reason of having signed a petrochemical supply agreement with the province and another one that this Act, except Section 18, has effect on such dates as the Governor in Council orders, and declares by proclamation.

[1:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, those are some amendments that I have. They are not in a bill form, it is just on a piece of paper that had been provided to me earlier. As I start my remarks, without having the actual bill before me, I am feeling a little bit cautious because I wouldn't want to go too far out on a limb, making any comments either in support or in opposition to this legislation before I have an opportunity to actually see the bill. I want to thank the Assistant Clerk for providing me with a copy. In fact, the bill that I now see is a little different from the amendments that I had been provided earlier.

Now, after having taking all of about 30 seconds, which is all I really need to read through this long bill, I think I have a few comments that I would like to make. First of all, I listened with interest to the minister's remarks of how this legislation is going to somehow strengthen Bill No. 102 that we passed last spring.

Mr. Speaker, can you tell me how a piece of legislation like that which we now have before us that says, in effect, that all of those things really that that Act was supposed to have done, are now exempt. What this Act now says is that "Subsection 22(1) of Chapter 7 of the Acts of 1999, the Petroleum Resources Removal Permit Act, is amended by adding immediately after clause (a) the following clause: (aa) exempting from this Act a person who has signed a petrochemical supply agreement with the Province.".

In other words, what the government is doing with all of the provisions that are contained in Bill No. 102 that we passed last spring, the government is saying that none of this applies to anybody who has signed an agreement. The agreement, of course, that the minister is referring to is the Nova Scotia Petroleum Supply Agreement among Her Majesty the Queen and the Right of the Province of Nova Scotia, as represented by the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate, and Mobil Oil Canada Property, Shell Canada

[Page 1797]

Limited, Imperial Oil Resources Limited, Nova Scotia Resources Limited, and Mosbacher Operations Limited.

Mr. Speaker, this Act that we passed last spring is no longer applicable to any of those parties. This is the same agreement that members of the government were somewhat critical of the former government for having signed on the dying days of the last campaign. There seems to have been a bit of a disagreement even, if my memory serves me correctly, between the now Minister of Finance and the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate, because shortly after assuming government the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate and the Minister of Economic Renewal and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works - and all of those other hats that he has on - said that he thought those agreements were quite fine.

The Minister of Finance, the next day, turned around and said well, he wants to get some independent reviews of those because he didn't think they were necessarily good for Nova Scotia. I don't always agree with the Minister of Finance. I found it rather ironic, if not comic, that the Minister of Finance was standing up and speaking in support of the Liberal's budget this fall and voting in favour of the Liberal budget this fall when it passed in this House, whereas the Liberal Finance Minister of the former government was standing up and speaking against that budget this fall that he introduced basically last spring and voted against it this fall.

Mr. Speaker, that was sort of ironic. Now we have the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Economic Development and all of the bodies on the Tory benches who were very critical of those agreements that basically gave away so much for so little. Now, in particular, law firms from Calgary, when one peruses the Public Accounts and sees these figures in the $4 million range for the services that they provided, they did very well in negotiating on behalf of the province and, in fact, they probably made as much in legal fees as the province is going to gain in two full years in terms of royalties.

Mr. Speaker, I think you may want to look at the Public Accounts and see who they were with. They weren't the ones who made the $4 million figure. What we have here is a piece of legislation that now says that Act doesn't apply. I have to say, after I do a little bit of beating up on the government, that I understand why they are saying it. I understand why the legislation is coming forward and I also appreciate the fact that the minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate had asked to meet with me to go over these particular amendments some time ago and had the House not been sitting 16 hours to 18 hours a day, some days, we would have had an opportunity to caucus the amendments before.

Let's not play shell games, Mr. Speaker. Let's not play charades. Why do we have this piece of legislation before us? I would suggest that the reason we have the legislation before us is twofold. It was something that we said ourselves last spring, and when I say we, I mean the NDP caucus and myself as a critic at the time, when the former Liberals had introduced

[Page 1798]

Bill No. 102, and that is, that Bill No. 102, if it was ever challenged in the courts, would undoubtedly be unsuccessful.

Mr. Speaker, let us remember that in 1983, a Supreme Court ruling ruled unanimously that the resources off the coast of our province are not Nova Scotia's property. They belong, unfortunately, to the federal government, even though we claim them as our own. The reason that we have a say in much of that is because we have a joint management agreement with them. We have a right to some royalties but we do not have sole jurisdiction over them; we have joint jurisdiction. The legislation that was introduced by the former Liberal Government acted as if we had sole jurisdiction.

So, Mr. Speaker, if any one of those big boys, those big oil companies, were to be denied a permit under that legislation, and they have deeper pockets than the Province of Nova Scotia, I would suggest, and if they were to take this to the courts, there is a very real possibility, a very good possibility, that this legislation would have been ruled unconstitutional as going beyond the powers of the Province of Nova Scotia. That is a reality. Therefore the minister is correct in his assertion that this petroleum agreement, as weak as it is, is probably more enforceable than that legislation that was passed in this Chamber last spring. It is probably more enforceable because this is a signed legal contract between both parties.

But, Mr. Speaker, when I take a look at this and what bothers me a lot about what the minister is doing when he is saying that this is going to make the law better or stronger, is that he is not admitting the full truth. He is not coming clean and saying that we have decided that the legislation that is before us, by and large, does not meet the test of constitutionality. Instead he is trying to pretend that the government is doing something that is making things stronger. Lay it out on the table as it is. Tell us the facts and that is that that Bill No. 102, the way that it was passed, most of that Act would probably be lost if it was challenged in court.

The other thing that this does, Mr. Speaker, one of the key things is that this Act has force and effect as of October 31, 1999. I wonder why they have chosen October 31, 1999, which is now eight days ago, for this Act to take effect? I wonder why. What is the importance of October 31st, for example instead of saying, other than as a Halloween joke (Interruption) Yes, trick or treat. Why wasn't this to take effect November 1st or maybe even November 2nd or maybe upon the date of passage in this House or upon the date of proclamation? I wonder why. So, one should take a look at the piece of legislation. What would November 1st have to do with anything or October 31st? Why would they be trying to predate that?

Mr. Speaker, oh, there it is, number 23. I seem to remember last spring holding some discussions outside this Chamber where we trying to negotiate some amendments to Bill No. 102. One of the ones that we got included was the date November 1st. Because that was the date by which time companies that were wishing to export these products had to have obtained their permits for the export of these resources.

[Page 1799]

By amending this Act retroactively to October 31st, that tells me that the minister is trying to have this go back to the day prior to those permits and the permit process having to have been prepared by the minister and his department. Of course, Mr. Speaker, we know that process isn't ready. There is no regulatory regime for those permits to be granted. It doesn't exist, thus the significance of the date; predate by one day the date at which the government was supposed to have had a regulatory regime up and running and ready for those poor little companies who are going to do so terribly well off our coast using our resources to have had the permits ready.

In truth though, Mr. Speaker, even though I torment in this manner, those companies have a right, if this legislation is in place, to expect that if they are going to be required to have permits that there would be a process for them to apply for those permits and that process simply does not exist.

So let's not pretend that this is somehow strengthening something. It will, certainly, there is one statement in here in the minister's press statement that can't be more accurate - that is that it reduces the need for the bureaucratic permitting process. It doesn't only reduce it, it eliminates it. There is no bureaucratic permitting process to reduce it at the present time because it hasn't been developed. It is not there. The government didn't do what they were required to do by that law that was passed in this House last spring. That's a fact. It is not there. If I am wrong, of course, the minister can stand on a point of order and correct me and produce those permitting processes that are in place, because they don't exist. What they have to show for it is, of course, this agreement that the former Liberal Government signed. I believe they adopted them the day that the former government was defeated in this House and were approved with the federal approval, just the day before the election was actually held. Just a coincidence.

[1:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, that is the reality that we are dealing with. When I take a look at this legislation, when I went through this agreement, the agreement does have - yes, I acknowledge - in it some provisions that would say nothing in this agreement would prohibit any of those signatories to that agreement or a third party from removing products like ethane within Nova Scotia. When I went through that agreement, when I take a look at the legislation that was introduced in this House by the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate, also the Minister of Economic Development, I see nothing in this, not a thing, not even a sniff of any indication that the government is serious about requiring those who have the resource to be aggressively looking for the development of a petrochemical industry in Nova Scotia.

The opportunities are there, the products can be removed; but there is nothing in terms of any kind of requirements. We can sit here and I can beat up, if I want to, on the former government - I have done that before and I may even do it again sometime, but they are not

[Page 1800]

in power anymore. The baton was picked up on July 27th by the blue team, when it was dropped by the red team. The blue team is now in charge.

AN HON. MEMBER: What happened to the orange team?

MR. HOLM: The orange team didn't win either. But we stuck true to our principles. That is something that makes me proud. I ask the Minister of Economic Development, what has he done, what effort has he made and what successes has he had to get Nova Scotia to have sole jurisdiction over control of their resources in the offshore? What discussions have been held with Ottawa? Those resources should be under the control of Nova Scotia so that we can insist that Nova Scotians get the true benefits and the true benefits would be in terms of the industrial benefits that would develop.

We see in terms of the granting of the licences for exploration that again, this government is following the practice of the former government. They are awarding the licences on the basis of how much companies say that they will spend. Not in Nova Scotia, no enforceable commitments as to the percentage of the jobs and the percentage of the money that must be spent in Nova Scotia, just how much you are going to spend? So if company x bids $10 million over the term of our lease, $5 million of that $10 million might be spent in Houston on evaluation of different things. Some of it, another $1 million, may be spent on the rent for a vessel that comes in from the North Sea. Maybe Nova Scotia will get a few dollars from people who are sending supplies out for the crews that are working, but it is not developing the jobs here in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I know you have children. I have no idea what your children's employment is. I don't know their ages or their aspirations. I have no idea about that. But your children, like all of your constituents who have children in your riding of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, same as the constituents who live in beautiful Sackville, I took beautiful out of the riding of the member for Musquodoboit Valley, I will put it in Sackville because it is a beautiful community, and I may have a chance to talk about that more today -

have a right to expect that Nova Scotians will have first call on the employment benefits that are going to be resulting from our offshore and onshore resource development. They should have that.

That is where the wealth is, $2 million, although to an individual like me it certainly is a big sum of money. If I had that in my back pocket, Mr. Speaker, I would be elevated quite considerably in terms of what my financial situation is at the present time. All you have to do is look at my disclosure statement to see that one, but in terms of the size of the budget of the Province of Nova Scotia and certainly in terms of the size of the budgets of these big boys who are playing on the offshore, $2 million is hardly a grain of sand.

We know what we are getting and we can play games, we can inflate numbers, because we can talk about numbers as those being numbers prior to what is happening in terms of the

[Page 1801]

reductions, because of equalization transfer payments and so on, Mr. Speaker, but the hard and fast reality is what is going into somebody's pocket is what counts. The number of dollars that we are going to get in the first number of years is extremely small, but we are not only talking about today, or we certainly shouldn't only be talking about today, we should be talking about our future as a province. People who live in Kings North, I am sure the member for Kings North, and my colleague from Sackville-Beaver Bank, would like to think that we would be developing within Nova Scotia a strong economy that has as an important part of it a petrochemical industry.

Mr. Speaker, I have to ask the minister who is responsible, and I know the Premier has decided that he is going to bestow upon him the great responsibilities of numerous government departments while others have so few responsibilities, knowing of course that he has such broad shoulders and tremendous talents, the Minister of Economic Development, Transportation and Public Works, the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate, the Minister responsible for the Business Development Corporation and so on (Interruption) I think I heard a whisper in the back, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I do not see anything in the legislation that the minister has tabled that shows this government is intending to do anything different from what the Liberals did. Do you have a vision? Do you have a plan? Do you have a goal? Any objectives? I do not know. Now, there will be some savings from this, no question, dollar savings to the government. This is maybe what you call one of the first examples of a program review. The minister, with his many talents, has had one program review completed and what the government has decided to do is to eliminate a cost that would have resulted from complying with this Act because no longer will it require that permitting process.

Mr. Speaker, I could go on at some more considerable length on this. I say to the minister, and I say this sincerely on this point, that I do appreciate the fact, and it is not a courtesy that you always get, not necessarily one you always want but it is not necessarily one that you always get either, the minister requesting to meet with me beforehand and to meet with me and some of his staff who are, I would have to suggest, very competent individuals to go over the rationale for why he wanted to do this legislation. I say that sincerely, I appreciate that.

That is a sign of openness and cooperation, a willingness to cooperate that isn't always there. I am not sure that that was necessarily done because there was a desire to be totally open or maybe he wanted to get this legislation through this House as expeditiously as possible and was hoping that some of us would not wish to speak on it for very long, that the power of persuasion and the wisdom of the minister and his staff might prevail to enable us to speak on this legislation with a little bit more brevity than we might have been inclined to do on other occasions.

[Page 1802]

Mr. Speaker, I am complying with that wish, because for me this is rather brief in terms of a number of interventions that I have made. I will indicate to the minister that at this stage I will not be trying to delay the bill any longer and I am not proposing any amendments on the bill at this point in time, but I say to the minister through you, Mr. Speaker - and wanting to be respectful and following the rules as I generally try to do, I am supposed to speak through the Speaker, Mr. Speaker, through you - I would like the minister to consider, and I am not proposing the exact wording at this point in time, I am simply proposing an idea that he may or may not wish to suggest, but I would like to see, if this is to be amended, a new clause inserted in this bill that would have the effect of putting a purpose clause in the original Bill No. 102.

I would like to see a clause that would say - and there is by the way a purpose in the other one but the purpose in the other one is to talk about ensuring the efficient and sustainable use of petroleum products in the Province of Nova Scotia by requiring a permit to remove the petroleum resources - I would like to see a clause that indicates quite strongly that it is the intention of the Government of Nova Scotia to use all that is reasonable and possible to insist that those who are obtaining the great wealth and benefit that are accruing from our resources, that those companies have a responsibility to actively pursue the development, and make it a requirement . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member permit an introduction?

MR. HOLM: Sir, I am just about to take my seat, I am just about finished. If the member wants to wait for 30 seconds, I will be concluding.

MR. SPEAKER: That will be fine, honourable member.

MR. HOLM: That was my intention. But to say that it would be requirement that those companies be required to be actively pursuing ways to be developing the petrochemical industry within the Province of Nova Scotia so that your children, our children collectively, and I am saying our in the broadest sense of all Nova Scotians, and even the adults will have an opportunity to gain the true benefits, and that is the secondary processing employment from the jobs that are going to result somewhere from our offshore.

Mr. Speaker, with those brief remarks, I will conclude my remarks at this stage.

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

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I introduce a guest in this House, in the gallery opposite, a constituent of the member for Sackville-Cobequid, a friend and a former colleague, Councillor Bob Harvey. (Applause)

[Page 1803]

MR. SPEAKER: We always welcome visitors to our gallery, especially distinguished visitors from the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The honourable member - a former municipal politician himself - for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I am just going to stand for a few moments to speak on Bill No. 18. I certainly won't be as long as my colleague to my left here, my extreme left, but I think it might be said that the member for Sackville-Cobequid never misses an opportunity, of course especially in prime time, to occupy the House. There is a big difference, when I am speaking here, the only people who are probably concerned politically about my speech are the people whom I am looking at here. We do not have Legislative Television. He does. I think that is probably part of the reason why he takes full advantage of the House and I do not blame him. I would do the same thing if I was subject to Legislative Television every day in the living rooms of the constituency that he represents.

[2:00 p.m.]

There are a couple of comments I would like to make on Bill No. 18. The first one is, unlike the NDP who would just as soon leave the gas where it is at out at Sable rather than have anybody in this province reap any sort of benefit from that particular program, because it has been my experience with the NDP that nothing is ever right. Everything is always wrong and particularly if somebody stands to make a dollar off a particular project, such as the Sable Offshore Energy Project. I know exactly where the NDP were coming from on Bill No.102 last year and now this particular bill, Bill No. 18, this year. For their own reasons, they have their objections to the bill and whether or not you agree with those objections, one has to respect the fact that they do have certain concerns about the bill.

One of the concerns I have about the bill is the explanatory note, for example, to exempt from the Petroleum Resources Removal Permit Act a person who has signed a petro-chemical supply agreement with the province. I would like to know how that improves the bill and I might get a chance to ask that question at some point as this bill moves through the process. What it does, it exempts the petroleum companies, who have already done business with the province from any further permit requirements for them in order to access petro-chemical products.

However, the other thing that is interesting is that we thought that Bill No. 102 filled the bill and that it protected the petrochemical future possibilities for the petrochemical industry in Nova Scotia. It is interesting that when we introduced Bill No.102 - the former government - that the people running the show in the gas industry and those in the Petroleum Directorate thought that this bill was just what we should have in Nova Scotia. Now we have amending legislation coming in to remove that permit from the existing people who are doing business with the province in regard to the petroleum agreements that were already signed,

[Page 1804]

but the new kids on the block, obviously, will not be protected under this as far as I can see now. It clearly takes out the need for permits. I am wondering what will happen in the future with new proponents.

One of the reasons why we introduced Bill No. 102 last year was to protect the future of the possible petrochemical industry in Nova Scotia, in that, you would not see a wholesale mainlining of feedstock leaving the province instead of having the opportunity for that feedstock to be developed here within the province. However, I am also a realist in saying that any petrochemical industry that would set up in Nova Scotia would have to be market-driven with no government assistance. We said that before. I don't think governments should be in the business of assisting the petrochemical industry in the Province of Nova Scotia; I don't think government should be in the business of assisting any of the proponents in the gas industry in Nova Scotia. I think if a petrochemical industry is going to be set up in Nova Scotia, it should be set up on its own, with its own resources, providing jobs for Nova Scotians with private money and not public assistance.

If that can happen in Nova Scotia, it will happen; I am a realist to say that as well. If there is an interest out there and if private-sector proponents feel that they can set up a petrochemical industry in this province that is going to make money and employ people, then they will, so in that respect I guess I am less discouraged by this particular amendment. I have no problem with the change from November 1st to March 1, 2000. That is obvious, the reason why that is in there. I just hope that as this bill moves through, and there is a strong indication from the bureaucrats in the Petroleum Directorate - and there are very knowledgeable people working in that directorate - that this will improve the bill. I think we will have to wait and see whether it does or not.

Again, let me say that protecting or making permits a necessity every time somebody wanted to remove some feedstock from the province for any kind of a petrochemical industry, as my colleague the member for Sackville-Cobequid said, may or may not be enforceable in the future but, again, that would have to remain to be seen. What I do know is that the spirit of the Bill No. 102 last year was to protect Nova Scotians, protect the petrochemical industry; it was a Nova Scotia-first policy. At the time it was an accepted policy by the people working in the directorate and I am sure that the present minister didn't wake up one morning and say I have to improve this bill.

The same people in the Petroleum Directorate who said that Bill No. 102 was the panacea for development in the future are the same people who are now saying it has to be amended. Well what has changed since then is that the agreements have been signed. I can accept that. I just hope that upon those signings having taken place - I am not going to stand here and agree with the NDP that everything is wrong with the petrochemical industry or the oil and gas industry in the province, or that it is terrible that somebody may be successful with this, or that the province may make some revenue down the road that is going to help us out of our financial dilemma - I am not going to say that any of this is a bad deal for Nova Scotia

[Page 1805]

because I don't believe that to be the case. I think that the oil and gas industry is going to have tremendous positive results for Nova Scotia in the future.

I just hope that this particular bill will strengthen our efforts to try and encourage the development of the petrochemical industry. I would rather see the petrochemical industry developed in this province than anywhere else and I am sure members opposite and members to my left would agree with that, but we must ensure that we move ahead with this particular project as soon as possible and it is for that reason, Mr. Speaker, that we will be supporting the amendment. Hopefully we can see some additional improvements in the near future that would create more interest in the establishment of a petrochemical industry, or perhaps some regulations will come forward to encourage the petrochemical industry to be developed in the Province of Nova Scotia if the opportunity is there.

I want to repeat again, Mr. Speaker, I don't think the Government of Nova Scotia, either the previous government or the government opposite, ever envisioned a time when they would get involved directly in the petrochemical industry by providing any public funds to do that. I think that kind of an industry has to be private-sector driven and has to be the kind of an industry has to be private sector driven and has to be the kind of industry that will not only promote jobs in the province but promote sustainable jobs for the future. Hopefully, those jobs will be in Nova Scotia and occupied by Nova Scotians. So with those remarks, Mr. Speaker, I would take my place now and perhaps let the bill go to the Law Amendments Committee process and back to the House for Committee of the Whole House. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: I recognize the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate in closing debate for second reading on this bill.

The honourable Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, just before moving second reading I would like to make a few comments around the way in which this moved forward. I do appreciate the willingness of the members opposite to support this particular piece of legislation because it is in fact an improvement over the existing situation.

What happened was when the Act was originally introduced there were no signed agreements in place and there was concern that this would create a very difficult situation for the province. In order to protect Nova Scotia's interests, included in that legislation was a permitting process. Subsequent to that, agreements were, in fact, signed and created a situation of double jeopardy, to some degree. Out of that and to parallel the experience of Alberta, the Petroleum Directorate staff, in consultation with industry members and so on, looked at a way of streamlining and improving the process, came the suggested amendments which are being put forward today.

[Page 1806]

It is not the intention of this government to in any way jeopardize or undermine the existing legislation. In fact, they continue to work in tandem, that is, when there is no signed agreement in place then the legislation will take effect. When in fact the parties involved can reach a signed agreement, then in order to facilitate and improve the process, to streamline and remove red tape, then we can move forward without the necessary regime of a regulatory requirement.

One of the comments made by the member for Sackville-Cobequid was that the department wasn't prepared to move forward if, in fact, the amendments did not proceed. We do have staff but what it would have required is an additional allocation of resources to ensure that companies that were involved in the process would have the permitting process out of the way. That is not in the best interests of anyone concerned, we don't feel.

As I say, the model that we are putting forward here is one that is very, very similar to that which Alberta developed over time and we believe most strongly that it will, in fact, improve the process and will make things go forward more quickly.

I would like to say, once again, how appreciative we are of the fact that by talking to the members opposite prior to introducing the bill, we were able to clear up any misgivings or concerns they might have had and, in fact, this makes it a much more effective way in which to do the business of the House. I do believe that it is necessary to move this along as quickly as we can and try to get the legislation back to the floor of the House so that it can be passed and invoked into law.

So with those few comments, I would move second reading of this piece of legislation. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 18, the Petroleum Resources Removal Permit Act. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 1807]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 11.

Bill No. 11 - Foresters Association Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to give some background on this bill. Bill No. 11 will ensure that we have legislation to establish a registered professional foresters association in Nova Scotia. A commitment to register professional foresters in jurisdictions where they do not exist was part of the 1992 and the proposed 1998 national forests strategy. This has not been a matter of strong public debate in Nova Scotia and did not surface as a significant item during discussions relating to the strategy. However, the strategy places heavy emphasis on private sector mechanisms and the existence of registered professional foresters, recognized professionals would add to the credibility of such private schemes.

[2:15 p.m.]

Similarly, associations exist in five other provinces, New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia, and the proposed Act submitted contains provisions for the grandfathering of both foresters and technicians. The proposed legislation restricts the use of the title registered professional forester and the symbol RPF, however this will not prevent a forester or a technician from continuing their work without use of such designation or advertisement. The proposed Act contains no residency requirement and provides for mutual recognition with other provinces, hence it would not limit interprovincial commerce for consulting foresters in other provinces and would aid Nova Scotians seeking contracts or employment elsewhere in Canada or abroad.

The legislation would not affect department programs unless the government chooses to specify qualifications as a condition of employment for some professional positions. This would end up with foresters working in Nova Scotia having been consulted and polled on several occasions, and they have been in favour of this proposed legislation. The Nova Scotia section of the Canadian Institute of Forestry has been the existing umbrella organization under which the proponents have been working and they are in favour. The Nova Scotia Forest Technicians Association executive and general membership are in favour, and the Forest Sector Committee on Voluntary Planning are also in favour.

Mr. Speaker, I would move second reading of this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I would certainly say that this bill seems to address the concerns of all individuals, all stakeholders in this debate. I am glad to see from

[Page 1808]

the note that the Nova Scotia Forest Technicians Association is in favour of this bill. My concern in a bill like this is the fact that it may be exclusionary or keep people out, but I see by the qualifications stated or as the legislation would indicate that it does give some wider range to individuals who could become registered professional foresters. I think that is a good thing.

If we consider the talents and capabilities of individuals in the sector, in other words I wouldn't mind even if it was a little more clearly defined as to what they recommend as individuals to become professional foresters. Certainly they acknowledge the degree in forestry and forestry engineering and also forest technicians. I would like to see some emphasis on a component that deals with experience in the forest sector as well, by this I am saying people who may not have had a formal education but have gained a lot of knowledge through their work over the years in the forest sector could also become professional foresters. I see that a test or examination is required anyway, so if they could pass that then they would qualify.

I am curious as to why it is that in the case of those with a forestry degree or a forest engineering, after 24 months can become eligible, yet forest technicians, after 7 years, so the difference of two years to seven years, I am curious why there is that much of a difference between the two. I would be somewhat worried or find it worrisome if the government was to say that only certain functions could be carried out by someone who was a registered professional forester, in other words there may be those individuals who have no wish to join this professional association but yet have the qualifications to carry out functions that professional foresters can carry out, and therefore, they would be excluded from some of these jobs. I don't see that that is in the best interests of the public in general. It certainly would be in the best interests of the association and to that degree it would have some exclusionary component.

If the province is not going to move on any piece of legislation that would state that certain government work or certain jobs would require a forester and not someone else of equal capability, then I think so far I have no major problem with this piece of legislation. I know that the Association of Foresters has worked toward this for some time so at this point, Mr. Speaker, I would be supporting it.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 11. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 1809]

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

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

The motion is carried.

[2:22 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

[2:30 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered the following bill:

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

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

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

When shall this bill be read a third time?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Now.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

[Page 1810]

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, before I commence my remarks, I would like to thank the honourable members for their cooperation today in putting forward the amendment. I could give a long dissertation, but I have done so in the past, so without further ado, I move Bill No. 7 for third reading.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, as I look at the clock and I see the Minister of the Environment over there, and I am looking at the agenda as we are going along, I cannot help but wonder what is happening to the timetable of this House. Are we on a little speed-up track here because we are calling this bill for third reading today? Of course, it would be desirable to have this bill pass before the House rises, so I just wonder if we have some events planned for later on today, if we conclude the Address in Reply to the Throne Speech. Anyway, that is not germane to the bill before us and, of course, I wouldn't want to speculate too far on the plans of the Government House Leader.

Those on the backbenches, in case you haven't been told what the government's plans are, you may want to talk to the Government House Leader because you may have an earlier rise. I am not sure, but one might think that we are leaning in that direction, that the House won't be sitting as long as some people might have thought. However, I could be wrong, and even I have my ability, possibly, to delay those plans, if we so chose. But that is not our point, because we are cooperating.

Mr. Speaker, I will not follow my own rabbit tracks and I will actually get back to the motion before the House, and that is to pass third reading of Bill No. 7.

Some new members might wonder what the heck I am up on my feet for talking again, to say exactly what I just said two minutes ago. Well, a couple of minutes ago we were in Committee of the Whole which, although there is a record kept in terms of the actual passage or amendments of resolution, there is no written transcript or Hansard. So the only time that things are actually recorded in a manner that is a lasting memory, for other than those who are here, is if it is written in the actual Hansard. (Interruption)

The member for Cape Breton Nova wants to know how many people are going to read it 10 years from now. I don't know how many people read his speeches from 29 years ago, but he probably has some. I can assure you though, Mr. Speaker, that I will not be reading what I am saying 10 years from now, and hopefully I will not be reading it 10 days from now.

I want to say a couple of nice words to the Minister of Finance - so rarely do you get the opportunity to say something kind to a Tory, especially when they are a Minister of Finance - because there is a great deal of speculation that the times to say something nice about my colleague - who was first elected the same time I was, so we have some history in here - because we know what is coming in the spring.

[Page 1811]

I do want to say in all seriousness to the Minister of Finance - and I want this on the record, so I want it recorded - I want to say to the minister and to the members of this government that I do appreciate the cooperation that was shown in the Law Amendments Committee process - and I want this on the record, not just in the committee stage where there is no record of it - I do appreciate the cooperation in bringing forward the amendment that will correct the problem that I had the opportunity to identify during the second reading debate. Mr. Speaker, I think it is a very important principle that we are protecting, because the way that the bill was first introduced it would have meant that government would have been able to overexpend after a budget had been passed. They would have been able to overexpend by amounts greater than 1 per cent and then not have been required to bring a resolution before this House for approval.

That, Mr. Speaker, even if we were to look at it in a constitutional sense, would be unconstitutional because expenditures have to be approved by the elected representatives. So I am pleased to say to the Minister of Finance that when that point was recognized the government acted, I think, responsibly in this particular matter and did agree to address that oversight. I thank the minister for that. I also want to say on record that our caucus certainly had no hesitation whatsoever in giving approval for the government to seek the unanimous consent so that we could approve an amendment which would - although it is called a taxing measure - have, hopefully, some beneficial health effects, and that is by increasing the tax rate on cigarettes.

Mr. Speaker, the taxes on cigarettes and the costs of cigarettes have been shown to be a major determining factor on whether or not people continue to smoke or begin to smoke, and by increasing the amount of taxes even by this small amount, hopefully it will be a bit of a deterrent upon those who actually will begin to smoke and it may discourage some who are smoking from continuing to smoke. I also hope that the Minister of Finance will not just be seeing this as another little modest tax grab, but actually that money that is generated - and it is expected to be approximately $6 million - will be actually used, and that money will be going into programs that are aimed at either cessation of smoking or education to help prevent people from smoking.

I know to our guest in the gallery, the councillor for the Lower Sackville area, from the Halifax Regional Municipality, smoking has been an issue that he has been championing or trying to get eliminated in many public places here in HRM, Mr. Speaker. He has certainly been quite outspoken on this particular topic. I don't know, but I am sure he would also support the increased taxes. He is nodding, yes, that he would also support those measures that would hopefully prevent more of our young people from adopting a bad habit that many of us of the older generation have had the misfortune to have fallen into sometimes.

So, Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to say that our caucus will be supporting this legislation. We do think that the bill, as it leaves third reading this afternoon, is a much-improved piece of legislation from that which came in, and that is the way this House should work in terms

[Page 1812]

of a cooperative way because people expect us to work together to improve legislation. It is quite enjoyable when you have those rare occasions when you can actually achieve that, voting on something that has been so improved as a result of cooperation from all three sides in this House. So with those brief remarks, I indicate my support for the bill as it has now been amended. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 7. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that the bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we will be going into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills and we will be dealing with Bill No. 8. There is an amendment which has been circulated to all members . . .

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.

MR. RUSSELL: It is agreed. I was going to ask for the agreement of the House. (Interruptions) No. We don't very often have amendments that fall outside the scope of an Act but this is one in particular. So, Mr. Speaker, with the concurrence of the members, who have already agreed, I do now move that you leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The motion is carried.

[2:41 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

[3:07 p.m. CWH on Bills 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 Bills reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered the following bill:

[Page 1813]

Bill No. 8 - Municipal Elections Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: When shall this bill be read for a third time?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Now.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move third reading of Bill No. 8, the Municipal Elections Act.

Bill No. 8 - Municipal Elections Act.

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

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

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.

[Page 1814]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be here today to rise from my seat to share some thoughts, some concerns and some information about my constituency of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. I am also pleased and I am honoured to extend greetings to our honourable Premier and to every member of the House of Assembly on behalf of my constituents.

Before I begin, Mr. Speaker, I would like to extend to you congratulations on behalf of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury on your election as Speaker and wish you much success in the days, weeks, and months ahead, as you carry out your duties.

I would also like to congratulate the honourable members for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, Clare, and Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, as the first three elected Deputy Speakers of the Nova Scotia Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, I would not have had the privilege of being here today if it not had been for the hard work and the efforts of the many people who had worked on my behalf during the past election campaign. Herman Long, my campaign manager, as well as Marlene George, Josie O'Connor, Farrell Sutherland, Ross Simms, Kilmer Meagher, Irene Sparks, just to name a few; and many more from all areas of my constituency. To all those who helped me in any way, a sincere thank you.

Mr. Speaker, there is another group of people that I would like to talk about today, a group of people who have supported me long before I entered politics. My family. The love and understanding and support of my wife, Alberta; my daughter, Lori Ann and her husband, Arthur; and my grandchildren, Aaron and Madison. My mother as well as my 11 brothers and sisters who, by the way, live in Antigonish County and they do number 12. (Applause)

AN HON. MEMBER: Who did they vote for?

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: We will get to that in a minute. Mr. Speaker, I am also very honoured to sit in this Legislature with the honourable member for Antigonish. As you know, Tando, as he is best known in Guysborough County, was first elected for Guysborough County in 1969. Tando got my first vote then and I am proud to say that I have never looked back.

There are lots of reasons why I am proud to represent the communities of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. I have lived in Goshen, Guysborough County, for the past

[Page 1815]

30 years. I raised my family there and I plan to retire there. Goshen is a small community of about 450 people . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Right in the town?

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: Right in the town. It is situated next to the Antigonish-Guysborough County line in the District of St. Mary's. Mr. Speaker, I have had the honour to represent the people of the Goshen area for the past 11 years on St. Mary's Municipal Council, the past five years as the warden.

Mr. Speaker, when I speak about my home community of Goshen, I would be remiss if I did not mention the great loss to our community with the passing of Merritt Feltmate on October 10th. As was pointed out by the member for Antigonish in his remarks, Merritt Feltmate accomplished many things in his 75 years. He was an outstanding entrepreneur and through his many business adventures he provided employment for a lot of people, including myself.

[3:15 p.m.]

Merritt Feltmate, Mr. Speaker, operated sawmills and at one time owned a Ford and Studebaker dealership in Goshen. He operated a General Store in Goshen for 37 years. He had a construction company building roads for the lumber industry. He operated a trailer park campground. Mr. Feltmate also constructed and managed what was called the Merritt Feltmate Game Farm.

Mr. Feltmate, even with all his business ventures, found the time to serve his community as councillor from 1961 to 1976. He served on the St. Mary's District School Board, the Eastern Counties Regional Library Board and was a member of the Eastern Shore Tourist Association. As well, Merritt was awarded the Albert E. Widden Award for Excellence in Tourism. I send condolences to his wife, Vera; his son, Brian; Brian's wife, Marilyn; Barbara and Wilfred MacKeen, his married daughter, as well as Shirley.

Mr. Speaker, the riding of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury is one of, if not, the largest ridings in the province. Guysborough County alone is the second largest county in the province. The county forms the southeastern section of mainland Nova Scotia. It is bounded on the north by the Counties of Antigonish and Pictou; to the south by the Atlantic Ocean; to the west by the Halifax Regional Municipality; and to the east by the Strait of Canso.

Then, Mr. Speaker, we go across the causeway to the beautiful Island of Cape Breton where I am proud to represent the people of Port Hastings and the Town of Port Hawkesbury. In Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury there are three rural municipalities: Inverness, the District of Guysborough, as well as the District of St. Mary's. We have three towns in Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury: Canso, Mulgrave and Port Hawkesbury.

[Page 1816]

Mr. Speaker, much has been made in recent months about this government turning its back on Cape Breton. I want to assure you and every member in this House that these claims could be no further from the truth. This government is committed to Nova Scotians and by that I mean all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, the constituency of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury should stand as a symbol of a united Nova Scotia. I want to ensure everyone that I intend to represent the people of my constituency not as islanders and not as mainlanders but as Nova Scotians. I believe there are enough forces in our society that endeavour to divide and conquer. I am personally committed, as are all of my caucus colleagues, to unite and to work as one to make this province and all of its people strong and prosperous both today and for many years to come.

That is not to say that all Nova Scotians have the same concerns or rank the many issues before them in the same order. That is why we have a democratic system of government, a system which the people of this province choose. Mr. Speaker, this government also has many choices to make, difficult choices. As was outlined in the Speech from the Throne, this government respects and honours the traditions and the heritage of this noble institution, but at the same time is committed to fostering a relationship with Nova Scotians that includes them in the process of making those difficult decisions.

Mr. Speaker, this government has already taken steps to make this possible. On October 20th, the Premier announced that Nova Scotia's Voluntary Planning Board, an independent, non-partisan board consisting of over 350 volunteers, representing 250 organizations across this province, will lead an independent task force to examine the province's financial situation. The financial management task force will examine fiscal measures implemented in other provinces, solicit expert opinions and take advantage of the knowledge and the experience that exists within the general public through open public consultation. It is the last component which I believe is most important. This is one example of where this government is proceeding in a different direction from governments of the past. This is not window-dressing. This is an important opportunity for Nova Scotians to be directly involved in charting their futures and the future of this province.

Mr. Speaker, having said that, I would like to return briefly to the constituency of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. For centuries the traditional core of economic activity in this region has come from the fishing and forestry industries. Today, the constituency of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury is a diverse thriving industrial hub of activity that includes machining and fabrication, production and processing, training and education, business, retail and tourism, to name a few. Natural Resources development in recent years has turned an eye towards such new alternatives as aquaculture, non-traditional fisheries and the flourishing petroleum industry.

[Page 1817]

Mr. Speaker, the future is now for economic growth in my constituency. Much is being said about the current and future impact of the Sable Offshore Gas Project, not only with respect to Guysborough and the surrounding region but for the entire province. This is the largest capital project in the history of Nova Scotia. It is visibly having a direct impact on the economy of the region and the economic spin-off is enormous. The increased exposure of the region has greatly benefited other industries, including the tourism industry as more people are drawn to our area.

Recent statistics show that as of September, some 2,469 people were working on this project in Nova Scotia alone. As you well know, Goldboro was chosen as the location for the on-shore processing facility. Operational employment at this plant is expected to reach 140 positions which will further add to the growth of the regional economy.

In 1997, Guysborough County Regional Development Authority represented the county well at the Joint Review Panel. The results of the meetings led to the creation of what is now known as the Goldboro-Bypass Option. This means that industrial customers are able to access natural gas at Goldboro, Guysborough County, without paying for transportation. Ultimately, this also means the price of natural gas is cheaper in Goldboro than anywhere along the eastern seaboard of the United States. That is why both government and industry alike are calling Guysborough County the energy gateway to North America.

The Guysborough County Regional Development Authority is taking action to see that the region takes full advantage of the potential brought about by Sable gas. The development authority has been serving the residents of Guysborough County since 1995. In 1997, a five-year strategic plan was developed in consultation with the community, resulting in eight goals focused primarily on promoting community economic development, training, infrastructure, marketing and adding value to the region's natural resources.

It provides assistance in the area of additional marketing and development in tourism, the creation of an action plan to better utilize forestry resources, developing new species and better marketing and development of a sustainable aquaculture industry. The Guysborough County Regional Development Authority has been working aggressively to attract new aquaculture investment to the area. There are three new sites being talked about: Melford, Tor Bay, and Whitehead. The GCRDA is confident that further announcements on the development of new aquaculture operations will be forthcoming. Also, Mr. Speaker, a new shrimp processing line has been announced for the Town of Canso that will provide approximately 200 new jobs for the town and expand the plant's capacity.

The Guysborough County Regional Development Authority has encouraged many fishers throughout Guysborough County to diversify their catch and many are now concentrating their efforts on alternative species including snow crab, skate, shrimp and flounder; however, traditional species such as lobster, tuna, mackerel and herring remain an important part of the fishing industry in Guysborough County.

[Page 1818]

In consultation with Nova Scotia Power, the GCRDA revealed that there exists a high level of optimism and consumer confidence with respect to the economic outlook in the region. However, they are not resting on their laurels, they recognize what the region has at the present and continue to work with the future in mind. They actively promote youth entrepreneurship through the Business Builders Program, the most successful youth entrepreneurship program in North America. They also recognize the importance of existing and new small business enterprises, and they also recognize and promote further development of infrastructure related to information technology.

Having said that, I would also like to talk briefly about another important organization that is assisting with economic growth and development in the constituency of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. The Strait East Nova Community Enterprise Network is using the power of cooperation, shared ideas and information technology to attract and retain people, business and jobs to the Strait Region of Nova Scotia.

SENCEN, as it is more commonly referred to, is an information technology membership-driven organization. They provide educational opportunities and training and technical support to businesses and citizens in the Strait Region who have been displaced from the fishery or those who remain and work in their home communities. Above all, this organization is taking a leadership role in showing that information technology is opening up and creating employment opportunities for the people of this region.

SENCEN is helping to bridge the gap that exists between the more traditional resource-based industries that have characterized the Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury region and the present and future knowledge and information-based industries. The entire constituency is presently undergoing a transformation from what only a few years ago was a strictly primary resource base to a diversified balance of industrial, commercial, and residential development, with strong growth areas in tourism and aquaculture.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a few minutes to talk about the important role the tourism industry plays in the economy of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. Area tourism operators have recently delivered some good news, reporting the best season in over five years. This is largely the result of a number of tourist attractions throughout this constituency that highlight and build upon its rich history and natural beauty. With this in mind, it is encouraging to see this government establish a separate Department of Tourism and Culture to ensure that maximum benefits are derived from the province's rapidly growing tourism and culture sectors. For example, Sherbrooke Village is an important part of the tourism industry.

This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the province, drawing some 50,000 visitors to the historical reproduction village each year. This is the largest Nova Scotia museum in the province and is administered by the recently created Department of Tourism and Culture, and is run by an energetic village commission.

[Page 1819]

Sherwood Village was started in the late 1960's through the efforts of local citizens who wanted to preserve a number of historic buildings in the area and increase economic activity in the region. The jail and the Cumminger Brothers General Store were the first two buildings to be restored. Today, the village encompasses 55 acres of land with over 80 wooden structures, 30 of which are open to the public.

In recent years, a number of successful programs, including the daily animated performances, the Court House Concert series, and the Living in History program, where school children actually live on-site and participate in historic activities such as pottery, blacksmithing, woodturning, weaving and other activities.

Mr. Speaker, Sherbrooke Village is a source of community pride and a major economic generator for the area. The village employs more than 100 people directly and is responsible for many additional spin-off jobs. It is estimated that nearly $3.2 million is spent in the area by visitors to the village. In 1999, with all programs considered, including the upcoming weekend Christmas celebrations, the number of visitors will again exceed 50,000 people.

I am also very proud that Sherbrooke Village has been nominated for the Nova Scotia Tourism Industry Attraction of the Year Award. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Guysborough County Regional Development Authority for recognizing the importance of this village as a tourist attraction as well as the village commission for their continued hard work and dedication in making Sherbrooke Village the success that it is. I wish them the best of luck when the tourism awards are handed out next week.

The Whitman House Museum illustrates the history of Canso Town and eastern Guysborough County. It provides an opportunity for visitors to learn about A. N. Whitman, a shipbuilder from Chester, Nova Scotia, who visited Canso in 1812. Whitman soon recognized the community's potential as a fishing port and he decided to stay in Canso to start a business. Exchanging merchandise for fish and furs, he built a very successful enterprise. The Whitman House Museum was the former home of E. C. Whitman, the grandson of A. N. Whitman and founder of Whitman and Son Company.

The Whitman family was prominent in all affairs pertaining to Canso for much of its early history. Today, Canso remains a small coastal fishing town of about 1,250 people, located at the eastern-most tip of Guysborough County. It is often referred to as the oldest fishing port in the Maritimes, having been founded in 1605. The community's economy has been predominantly fishing and remains so today.

There are a number of other developments that have enhanced the tourism industry in Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. The restoration of the Guysborough Waterfront, the development of the St. Mary's River Interpretative Centre, the Nova Scotia Gold Mine Museum in Goldenville, and the Goldboro Historical Interpretative Centre. In Port Hawkesbury, the Strait Area Waterfront Development Corporation is continuing to work

[Page 1820]

toward their development plan of the town's waterfront. This is one of the more beautiful areas within the town and provides a great place for residents and tourists to enjoy.

A number of hiking trails can be found throughout the constituency, including the Guysborough County Trails. By next spring, Guysborough County will have over 40 kilometres of Trans Canada Trail in service, including a very significant water crossing at Salmon River. Freshwater fishing is another popular recreational attraction throughout Guysborough County. Picturesque beaches can be found along the eastern shore for those wishing to work on their tan, swim or play in the fresh waters of the Atlantic Ocean, or to go digging for some of the tastiest clams in the province.

[3:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, a number of festivals and events are linked with the tourism industry. One of the largest draws, the Stan Rogers Folk Festival in Canso, was again a huge success. In only its third year of existence, StanFest '99 has expanded to include 45 performers with at least two coming from each Canadian province, several American performers, and a band from West Africa. I believe our own Minister of Tourism was also one of the attractions this year at the StanFest. He did a great job. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, more than 10,000 people flooded the Canso arena grounds for the second of three straight main shows, with the other two shows averaging 7,500 in attendance. For many area residents and thousands of visitors this was the highlight of their summer. More than 500 town residents freely volunteered their time and effort at the festival grounds. These selfless individuals, along with the event organizers, deserve to be thanked for their efforts and help in making StanFest '99 such a huge success.

The Mulgrave Road Theatre has achieved a national reputation for the integrity and quality of its productions. The plays are a reflective look into the unique culture of Guysborough County and of Atlantic Canada. I was in attendance for the debut of Marion Bridge, the first show of the season. I was truly impressed, Mr. Speaker, with the play and I am proud to know that something this special has its roots in Guysborough County.

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, Nova Scotia is rich with musical talent, a talent also celebrated in my constituency. Each Sunday evening during the summer in Port Hawkesbury, a free public concert is held at the Granville Green band shell. The Granville Green concert series is the largest outdoor production in the province and is coordinated by the Port Hawkesbury Parks Recreation and Tourism Department. Performers such as Natalie MacMaster, John Allen Cameron, Gordie Sampson, Jennifer Roland, Men of the Deeps and others, delighted both local residents and visitors alike.

Highly successful Ceilidhs have been held at the Creamery each Tuesday evening this summer. Professional entertainers, as well as those who are new to the stage, provide the

[Page 1821]

musical entertainment. There was a 30 per cent increase in attendance this summer compared to last year, largely due to increased tourism traffic, added support from the operators of local hotels, motels, cottages, and bed and breakfasts. This does not take into account, Mr. Speaker, the fact that people from neighbouring communities such as New Glasgow, Antigonish, Guysborough, Whycocomagh and St. Peter's are coming to attend the Ceilidhs just to meet old friends and have a good time.

Mr. Speaker, I have gone to some length in describing the constituency of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury and the importance of the Sable Gas Energy Project and the tourism industry to its economy. I hope from my comments that you have been able to develop a sense of what the people in this region are all about. They are working hard to create a better economic and social climate for themselves. They are not coming to government in search of handouts. They merely wish to develop a community and an economy that is very sustainable, one that provides a stable and prosperous future for their children.

Mr. Speaker, this is a message that is consistent with what this government has already done and will continue to do in the future. This government is not in the business of giving away handouts, but rather, is committed to fostering business and job growth. The people of my constituency recognize the important opportunities that are being made available to them and they are seizing those opportunities.

Organizations including the Guysborough County Regional Development Authority, the Strait Area Regional Development Authority, the Strait East Nova Community Enterprise Network have provided that catalyst, guidance and assistance to encourage the development which will benefit the region today, tomorrow, and for many years to come. The administration of the Strait Area Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College is firmly committed to preparing each and every student that graduates from that facility with the skills they need to be competitive in the workforce today and tomorrow.

Mr. Speaker, that does not mean that other issues and challenges that are facing this government and other Nova Scotians are not of importance to those in my constituency. Health care, education and the growing debt are also of major concern to the people of my constituency. But the Speech from the Throne reassures me that this government has the vision necessary to take on these and many other serious issues and challenges head-on. The government's blue book and course for Nova Scotia are well-known. I am pleased to see the progress that has been made to date in meeting the commitments within our platform. This government, through the Minister of Finance, has produced a set of financial statements that Nova Scotians can trust. They may not be pretty, but they are accurate and they provide a firm foundation on which to redefine government in a way that is consistent with the demands of the 21st Century.

[Page 1822]

This government has started the process of eliminating regional health boards and developing a community-based health care system that puts the patient and the community first. All Nova Scotians should be able to take comfort in the fact that this government is committed to creating a health care system that is there when people need it. This government is committed to a system of education that puts the student first and provides a strong educational foundation.

Mr. Speaker, one of the greatest challenges facing Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury is the need to maintain and improve the basic transportation infrastructure needed to sustain and further expand these new developments. This government is committed to investing strategically in both primary and secondary road systems and is approaching this challenge with the long term in mind, not throwing a quick-fix band-aid on the situation.

Mr. Speaker, I could go on all day and outline each of the government's commitments and how they will benefit the people of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury and all Nova Scotians, but I will stop here and simply say that I stand firmly behind the Speech from the Throne, the message it conveys and the commitments of this government. I look forward in the days, months and years that follow to help move this province forward to unprecedented heights of prosperity and security. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place this pleasant afternoon to make a few comments. I make the comments, not as a political veteran, but as someone who has had the opportunity to speak in reply earlier. I intend to follow the example set by other previous speakers with a degree of forthrightness while I am in this place and how fortunate I am. Then for the information of members present, I would like, of course, to talk about Timberlea-Prospect and its growing constituency problems and the future.

First of all, however, Mr. Speaker, I would like to again personally congratulate you on your election and the deputy speakers. To the new members, I welcome them, and in particular, the last member who just spoke, I welcome your comments. It is nice to see you in the House and hopefully you will have a healthy return over the next few months and years. That is the spirit that we first of all must understand about this House. I want to point to some examples that can tell me of that. The members opposite should know that as a rookie, John Leefe, the member for Queens - nobody more blue than John - took me aside after the first week, and I recall his message to me with the idea of relax, enjoy the experience and have some fun. That was from John Leefe.

Then there was that political veteran - I wasn't sure what Party he was in when I first started teaching political science and history - the member for Cape Breton Nova, who sent me over a book one day and a cartoon in it, which I won't go on about, but I want you to

[Page 1823]

know that the member for Cape Breton Nova took time to point out to me how fortunate we all are to be in this place.

There is another member that I must really point out to the members opposite and the members present here and that is a member that I grew to know and respect because I was the critic for Transportation in my first session in the House and I would like to refer to the past member for Shelburne, the man who lost the lucky draw, Clifford Huskilson. (Interruption) Not so lucky. You are right this time.

I can tell you, in all candour, with the member for Shelburne currently filling that seat, I miss Clifford Huskilson. I miss the exchanges that we had in the House and the comments we had in other places. That is very important for us as newcomers, and there a number of new members in here, to understand that we do have a job to do and the job is to do what is best for our constituents. But in many ways there are so many other things that are important for where we are right now and really how truly fortunate we are to be here.

Members should know that for a period of about eight years in my life, I was a two time loser. I had run in 1988 and I had not succeeded electorally. I decided to run again in 1993 and after the 1993 election, and I want the teachers in the House to understand this, in 1993 I ran against one of my ex-students and an athlete that I coached and I finished second. I think members should know that, and the Speaker knows and the Deputy Speaker will learn to know it that when we get our legislative hockey team together, I don't lose well. When you finish second, nice guys do finish second. I wasn't interested in finishing second. There are many members in this House who for the first time they offered, they won, perhaps because, as the member for Cape Breton Centre shared with me, they are fortunate to be in what is called a safe seat. Where if you get the nomination and don't screw up, you can have it basically until you want to retire.

Well, I want you to know that Timberlea-Prospect is not a safe seat for anybody. It has been served in the past by Jerry Lawrence, a long-time MLA for the Progressive Conservative Party. It was then served by Bruce Holland from the Liberal Party, that ex-student of mine. I am now fortunate as a member of the New Democratic Party of Nova Scotia to represent the people of Timberlea-Prospect. I know in my heart of hearts that if I don't do a good job at the constituency level, not out there in television land, not when Mr. Withers wants your 15 second clip, if I don't do a good job at the constituency level, then I don't deserve to be re-elected, because Timberlea-Prospect is not a safe NDP seat. Heaven forbid, I don't know if we have one. Do we?

I would like to take you however, if I could, from Mount A. to Sir John A. and I would like to make a few stops along the way. As most members know, with my eyesight there are eight points here in front of me so I am going to try and make the stops as appropriate as possible. Earlier in my life I was fortunate enough to be under the influence of a dynamic, well spoken, athletic coach by the name of Angus "Gus" MacFarlane. He told me one time in the

[Page 1824]

football huddle that you don't have to be loud to be listened to but when you speak you better have something to say.

Gus, of course, went on to be the Government Whip for Pierre Trudeau. You can imagine the coach and the football captain having their meeting in Ottawa with students of mine present and Gus MacFarlane giving his old, getting old, football captain a lecture on his politics of choice. Angus MacFarlane put it very clearly in my head, that if you are going to be involved in something, you give it everything you have otherwise don't get involved.

I remember when I got accepted to law school. Angus took me aside and said, what are you doing? You are a teacher or maybe worse still, a preacher. Teacher? I said to Gus. I have got to play football somewhere else. The last thing I want to do is make a decision and off to McMaster I went, as I followed Gus MacFarlane, and eventually accepted the direction that he gave me and chose teaching, or maybe teaching chose me.

[3:45 p.m.]

While I was at Mount Allison, last minute student that I was, I can tell you graduating from the high school that I did and I perhaps should not admit this publicly, but if students are watching, when I went to Mount Allison I did not know how to take a book out of the library. I know at times students in classes I was in made the excuse: nice guy, but a football player. In my second year, I recall that I had to do an assignment in Canadian history. I had to pick a Prime Minister and I had to get a book on that Prime Minister and I had to do a book review. I was all set to go. I had met John George Diefenbaker as an undergraduate and I thought, there would be someone interesting, a good Prairie populist interested in the best of what comes out of Saskatchewan.

When I went to the library and asked the librarian to get me a book on Diefenbaker, she showed me the stack. She showed me and said, take a book out. Unfortunately, the Diefenbaker books, the topic was gone, so I of course went to none other than William Lyon Mackenzie King, whom we have heard spoken about or I have spoken about in this House before and, thankfully, Blair Neatby's book on Mackenzie King was also out.

Finally, I went to the professor, Dr. Peter Penner, and Dr. Penner said to me - I will not say exactly what he said, but capsule form - typical football player, you are leaving it to the last minute and you want a book with a lot of pictures. Actually Peter Penner reached behind him and he picked out this book. Timing is everything in politics. Yesterday in one of our daily papers, of course, you saw me with A Prophet in Politics, J.S. Woodsworth. I can tell you members present, and I am not using this as a prop, Mr. Speaker, I want you to know, as members present perhaps know, I turn to J.S. Woodsworth once in awhile. I can tell you that that is not my copy of my book, A Prophet in Politics, by Kenneth Naught, my copy of Kenneth Naught's book, that I have turned to many times, actually is in the possession of my oldest daughter.

[Page 1825]

At that time, as an undergraduate of Mount Allison, I had heard of the CCF, but you see I had grown up in what we call in New Brunswick one of those split families. The first time my mother and father talked politics in front of me, my mother said to my father - they had just returned from voting - well, I guess I killed your vote. As a young person, I thought when you went to the ballot box, you took a gun because, you see, my mother was a member of a strong Tory family from Pictou County, and my father was a member - and his association with Louis J. Robichaud goes way back - was a Liberal to the day he died, but they killed each other's votes.

So when I told them at the Christmas break I had done a book review on J.S. Woodsworth, the CCFer, who was of course one of the early founders of what we now call the NDP, I got a little less to eat at Christmas dinner that particular break. The members present should know that those early influences on my life, whether it was Dr. Penner or whether it was Gus MacFarlane, have always kept me open-minded politically.

I can tell members opposite in the government, the first time I met the now Senator John Buchanan, I asked the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party at the time - and I forget how many members he had but he did not have a lot - to come to speak to my Political Science Class at Sir John A., and you know, John Buchanan came bounding out of his car, which he drove on his own, parked in a bus spot where he should not have parked, and came into my Political Science Class.

When Mr. Buchanan was finished, I can remember him saying to me, a very interesting class, have you ever thought of being involved in politics, Mr. Estabrooks? I said, oh no, I come from a split family. My father and mother at the time were still alive. When I told my mother that, she thought it was the greatest compliment I had ever received. My mom passed away recently so I do know, of course, that she was supportive of my Party of choice.

Later on, it was ongoing Liberal Leaders who I once met in a hockey dressing room who asked me whether I had ever run in politics and was I interested. When I told my father that one, he again thought, what a wonderful opportunity, he could have run for the Liberals or run for the nomination. It was Halifax West, then it was Halifax-St. Margarets, and of course now it is Timberlea-Prospect. For one reason or another, I decided that I felt most comfortable politically, not because of J.S. Woodsworth, not because of Alexa McDonough or Robert Chisholm, but I felt most comfortable in this province as a New Democrat. For a period of time, from 1986 to my successful election on March 24, 1998, I made no bones about the fact that I wanted the people in my constituency to consider voting NDP. Wisely, they have made that decision, for whatever reasons.

Timberlea-Prospect is an area, I want you to know, that is full of challenges, where you do the job or they are not going to re-elect you. When re-election came, and when I went from 1,400 votes in March 1998 to 1,700 votes, I recall saying I can hardly wait to get into that House and talk to the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and ask him about

[Page 1826]

those increased pluralities because the good people of Timberlea-Prospect, in their wisdom, have decided to put me back in this place.

I want to talk to you about the challenges ahead for Timberlea-Prospect. It is a growing area and, as a growing area, we have many needs. So as the MLA, I intend to bring these needs to this House. I want to start with schools - where else did I feel most comfortable? Schools. There are two schools I want to mention; one is a wonderful, small elementary school in the legendary community of Terence Bay, the home of the Slaunwhites and all those phenomenal fast ball players I have coached and all those fine young people who decided they want to keep their little elementary school open.

I want members present to know that in education - and excuse my grammar - big ain't better. I have heard of these high schools that are monsters. I think of Fredericton High School, bigger than the university I attended. The problems that are created in bigger schools are not the way to go in education. I understand that as a teacher and as a parent. It is very important that small - and they are usually rural - schools are kept open. They are elementary schools, of course.

Junior high kids, sure, they can take the bus ride and go a little further. Of course, because of the demands of technology and the need for proper labs and other things, high schools could be bigger and further removed from the communities, but Terence Bay's wonderful little school, let me tell you, must remain open. It is not just a school, it is the centre of the community. It is the place where people meet; it is the place where people feel comfortable.

That brings me to a concern about not just the school in Terence Bay but many schools in my community. I raised this matter with the Minister of Education during estimates. I don't know about members present or not, but the question that I asked the minister revolved around the fact about access to our schools. As an athletic coach I can tell you that I can't get in to my school - I shouldn't say that, Brookside Junior High, it is not my school anymore, I can't get in or I could not get in to Brookside Junior High School - as the volleyball coach on a Sunday and have a Sunday afternoon practice unless I had a member there from (Interruption) Oh, thank you Mr. Leader, it is nice to hear that, but I don't need your cheering on. I can tell you that that concerns me that I couldn't, as a teacher, use that school, and as an athletic coach.

There is a charge to use our schools, in the Halifax Regional Municipality anyway. In the summer, they are locked tight. You don't get near the library, you never get to use the gym. Over March Break, members, I have a problem at March break. I have shared this problem before with members, that one of the toughest days in the teaching profession is the Monday after March Break, because the kids who can afford it have gone off with their parents and come back with their tans and been to wherever. Then you get the other kids,

[Page 1827]

whose parents can't afford to go anywhere; and what did you do over March Break, well, you know, I sat home and watched television and played some video games and whatever.

Our schools must be available, much more openly and at no cost. There are responsible individuals in every community. If someone in Terence Bay wants to use the school, here is the key, lock it up when you are finished. That is the way it should work. We cannot allow a paper chase of bureaucracy to take over access to our schools.

From Terence Bay, our smallest school to Sir John A., our largest. I think members present know about the strong feelings that I have about this school where I was fortunate enough to teach. Sir John A. is an older school in need of help. The minister, I thank her again publicly for the attention she has turned and her department officials have turned to this older school. We can no longer have schools that are going to just conveniently be built as palaces and forget the older ones. Some of these buildings are structurally sound, and because of getting the best bang for our buck, renovations to older schools such as Sir John A. are still possible.

In a growing community such as Timberlea-Prospect, we now have two portables in back of Sir John A., with two portables scheduled for the following year. That says to me, and again Mr. Speaker knows, he is not listening to Einstein here, that we have an increasing enrolment problem at Sir John A. Macdonald High School. When I was the vice-principal at Sackville High we suffered through portables, split shifts and too many excuses. I want members present to know, newcomers and veterans in here, that there was another school built in the community of Sackville because of John Holm.

When he, as the member, at that time the only member from Sackville, when he stood in this House numerous times and addressed the issue that another high school was needed in Sackville, the community of Sackville knows, the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank knows that Millwood High School was built in the community of Sackville because of John Holm. I, under no circumstances, want to be John Holm. Let's just turn that reference around. But I want to follow John Holm's example, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, as I should refer to him. I want to follow the example of member for Sackville-Cobequid, and tell you I do seriously and honestly want changes and additions built on to Sir John A. to continue to face our overcrowding problem.

Mr. Speaker, the other prominent . . .

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, A question for the honourable member. I thank the honourable member for taking a question and I don't mean to be interruptive, but I am certainly enjoying his reply to the Throne Speech. I hope he is going to support the Throne Speech, because it was a very good Throne Speech.

[Page 1828]

I heard the honourable member, and I trust I didn't mishear, Mr. Speaker, say that it was important for elementary students to be in their community and I certainly support that contention, and I believe he also said that whereas high school students and junior high school students have to access laboratories and technology and things of that nature, I am wondering how long a bus ride would be before the honourable member would say it was too long a ride? Would it be an hour, an hour and one-half or two hours? What would the honourable member, who is a very learned student, of course, of teaching and things of that nature, so could the honourable member, perhaps, impart that for the indulgence of all members?

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Isn't the way the member for Dartmouth East used to go, like this, in the old days? Thank you for that intervention. I can tell you, and I don't mind you allowing me to have this in. One of the key factors in bus safety is the amount of time these young people are on a bus. The kids coming out of Terence Bay who go to Sir John A. Macdonald High School spend 40 minutes on the bus. That is a long haul for high school students. On the way to school in the morning, they all sleep, so there is never a problem.

I know, as a disciplinarian, it is the way home that there is a problem. From my experience, I truly believe that the best way to offer education is in children's own communities. I want that in elementary schools, but, in junior high schools, I have been through some situations where kids have spent as much as 35 minutes on the bus, which I consider acceptable. High school students, because of the nature of where these buildings are located, have to be on there a little longer. Under no circumstances, under anyway, can we possibly ask children to get up at 7:00 a.m. to be at school.

AN HON. MEMBER: How long is too long?

MR. ESTABROOKS: How long is too long? I will have to get back to the member on that one. When my staff appears - long, too long. Soon, too soon, very soon. On the point of schools and on the point of giving recognition, if I may, Mr. Speaker, to the minister, and I think it is important, again, that, during the summer, I bring recognition to this minister, because, as a newcomer, at the time, we were put into a situation where there were major concerns about busing and safety and getting children to and from, along a very busy road. That is the concern that addresses me.

You can say, how far is it? But are we walking along Dutch Village Road, St. Margaret's Bay Road? Are we walking along some of the busy connector roads that come out of Glace Bay or New Waterford to go to one area or another. We are talking primarily about safety. To the credit of this new minister - not new anymore, you have endured estimates and Question Period after Question Period - the minister responded, the municipality responded and the people and the community of Beechville, Lakeside and Timberlea responded, Mr. Speaker, and the sidewalks are almost completed. The concern,

[Page 1829]

of course, comes down to the fact that young people can safely be brought to and from schools.

I would like to move on, though, to another major concern in my community and that is the environment. Timberlea-Prospect is the home of the landfill site, which we were, unfortunately - and I say that because of the flawed process, if you recall those days, we were - chosen as the site for the HRM landfill site. The Highway No. 103 has been twinned as far as the landfill site and garbage trucks come and go, littering that stretch of road with various concerns I have brought to this House. We are also the home of a compost facility on the Prospect Road that caused a number of near problems during the summer, severe problems because of the fact that there was no community monitoring committee put in place.

The Minister of the Environment was contacted. The Minister of the Environment has become involved and it is very important that when you have a compost facility, state-of-the-art, New Era Farms was going to be top-of-the-line. But I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, it stunk. The people on the Prospect Road put up with an inconvenience that, under no circumstances, should they have had to face.

Also, Timberlea-Prospect contains the PCB site at Five Island Lake. The past government and this current government have maintained the commitment to clean up Five Island Lake, an embarrassment to all of us. But I urge the current Minister of the Environment, and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, to make sure that that PCB material is not stored in the community of Hubley, which is adjacent to Five Island Lake, but that those containers containing PCBs are removed from our community.

If I may, I would like to move to a topic which is near and dear to my heart, and that is my coastal communities; I say my, that is personal, I understand. I know that I had the opportunity to introduce a private member's bill that was, unfortunately, talked out on Opposition Day, but I noticed that the next Resources Committee meeting has an issue on it called non-resident ownership. I am sure that members present are probably concerned about the fact of why I continually bring this issue up. I am doing it on behalf of my constituents; I am doing it on behalf of a concern that they have for access to their islands, to the coastal properties, and that fact is that there is a growing trend between the Terence Bay Gut and the Peggy's Cove Light, that these coastal properties are being bought up by non-residents who then restrict access.

That issue has been discussed in the House on a number of occasions and I ask the Minister of Natural Resources, I ask the ministers responsible for those various departments, to clearly investigate this issue. This is a concern not just on the coastal properties in Timberlea-Prospect, it is a concern across this province. I am also aware of the fact that it is not just a concern for coastal communities, it is also a concern because of non-resident ownership of some of our prime timberland which is in the interior of this province. That

[Page 1830]

remains an important concern in Timberlea-Prospect - access to the greatest resource we have, our coastal properties.

Of course, Mr. Speaker, I have spoken in this House on numerous occasions about the roads in my community. You have heard about the Prospect Road, I am sure you have heard about Porcupine Hill and you have heard about the Hammonds Plains Road, but I would like to, for a few minutes, talk about some of the new subdivisions in my constituency and a growing problem they are facing.

Mr. Speaker, recent HRM legislation has been brought forth that now when developers sell pieces of property in growing subdivisions, these subdivisions must have paved streets. So what is happening is, you come into a subdivision and the entrance is paved. Then you might go a number of kilometres and all those streets are gravel. Then you go into another section, the newest section and, lo and behold, they are paved. There has to be a consistent policy when it comes to the paving of growing subdivisions across the HRM.

My concern comes down to the fact that it is a concern for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, his limited budget. I think members present know that it takes a different plough to remove the snow from a gravel road as opposed to a paved road. So it is very difficult to explain to constituents, Mr. Speaker, who just saw the plough go by but it was up, it cannot do that gravel spot in between one of these new subdivisions. Whether it is Haliburton Hills or whether it is some of the newer subdivisions in the Highland Park area, this remains a major concern for young people who have moved into my constituency.

I hear from a number of these young people. Joel Jessome has spoken to me so many times about the problem on his road, and we have made so many contacts with the Transportation Department, that I am sure we are speed dial, Mr. Jessome and myself as his MLA. I think the Minister of Transportation has a responsibility to make sure that his department officials provide proper service to these growing communities and their need for having proper roads to travel on.

On the topic of travel, let's talk about recreation and rails to trails. Those members from the South Shore probably remember that old railway line that swung out of Halifax and headed down the South Shore. Well, wisely or not, we of course no longer have those rails. We now have a trail and there is a very active community group in my area that has made sure that the Department of Natural Resources officials and all involved know that recreation of this sort, taking those rail tracks and making them suitable for walking, hiking, all-terrain vehicles, that those trails are an important part of the recreation offered in my community.

I point out to the Minister of Natural Resources that Lewis Lake Provincial Park should be connected to the Rails to Trails Program. Lewis Lake, Mr. Speaker, is a wonderful park in my constituency and it is 500 metres from Rails to Trails. But it needs that little connecting

[Page 1831]

path to be approved and thus far, the minister has not given the approval to make those funds available.

Another concern in my constituency is, of course, with recreation and the need for a second ice surface. I have constituents with young families who are involved in figure skating, hockey, ringette. These young people have to travel outside of the HRM, to Chester. They have to travel to other arenas throughout metro because there is not enough ice time available in their constituency. Now the St. Margaret's Arena is one of these facilities, Mr. Speaker. I would love to have the opportunity to speak to the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission and to have her come into my community and meet with organizations. I, in particular, point to the active Prospect Road Recreation Association chaired by Ken Beazley, an old-timer hockey player of some repute, as you know, also a student who once played for Sir John A. Macdonald High School, but I don't want you to go there at that stage.

I would love to have another facility in our community. I encourage the minister responsible for sport to assign staff to meet with these organizations. I am saying that this is an opportune time to build another facility in my community, not necessarily attached to St. Margaret's Arena, but another facility on the Prospect Road or adjacent to the growing community of Timberlea where we can have another arena.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of seniors in my area, some fortunate enough to be in one of the three seniors' facilities, and having had the opportunity to visit with them on a number of occasions, they have concerns. They continue to worry about Pharmacare. They continue to tell me, make sure that the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley keeps his promise and continues to push for free fishing licences for seniors. These seniors who are in these facilities in my constituency are fortunate but there are other seniors who live in their own homes throughout the constituency. They want to know, will this government continue to meet its commitment to seniors? I hope the answer is yes.

Tourism is an important part of my constituency, as you well know, Mr. Speaker, because of the fact that we are on the Lighthouse Route, and whether you are going through the coastal communities, or whether you are visiting some of the more attractive tourism must continue to be a priority for us as legislators. The community of Terence Bay is fortunate enough to have a very active cooperative group that is promoting its community. I congratulate that organizing committee. There is also a number of historic attractions in the community of Terence Bay; one of them, of course, is connected with the Atlantic Memorial Park. If you are aware of HMS Atlantic and the disaster that took place there many long years ago, on April 1st, that date and the fact of having the memorial to these unfortunate souls and the fact that the people in the community of Terence Bay and Prospect, and East and West Dover, they just don't want tourists to drive through their villages on the way to scenic Peggy's Cove, they want them to stop. They want them to enjoy the particular benefits of some of these wonderful, unique communities.

[Page 1832]

[4:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to move from the needs of my community, if I could, to recognize the strength of my community with reference to a number of active volunteers. Earlier in my comments I mentioned the difficulty we had this summer with the problem with the compost facility on the Prospect Road. The people who stepped forward and made their views known at that time and made sure that the minister and HRM officials became involved, those people deserve the credit for solving that problem.

I particularly want to point out the Walshs. If, at some time, Mr. Speaker, you are on a tour of the Prospect Road, you want to stop into a wonderful place, I encourage you to stop in at Golda's Cafe. You will not only get a great reception but you will get a great - Golda's Cafe, Mr. Speaker, and I see you writing that down. I would love to have you come out there and share lunch with me some day, and I might even put it on my tab, if you are interested.

While I am on the topic of the Prospect Road, Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about another organization, called VOTR 23. This is an active group that has been involved in a number of projects in my community. They have spoken about environmental issues but one of the recurring themes is the safety of the Prospect Road. The last thing we need is another unfortunate accident on a neglected highway in this province. I am aware of the fact that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, through the questions he has answered for me in this House, through correspondence I have received, and because that Minister of Transportation, when he sat on this side, he did attend a meeting in my community, and I thank him for continuing to make Prospect Road an important part of our highway system that needs upgrading - the interchange to the Club Road in particular. Further down, towards the ocean, there are dangerous stretches of road that are travelled by school buses to and from our busy communities as they grow.

I also want to turn my attention to a very active group of parents in the community of Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea. Earlier in this House I mentioned their names and I think, if I could, Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention their names again: Derek Cann, Christine Pettipas and Mary Riley, who this summer cancelled, on one occasion, their summer vacation to organize and to make sure that important decisions were made that they had an input into. That was the active group that pushed this summer to make sure that when the new school, Ridgecrest was opened in Beechville, that the kids did not, under any circumstances, have to walk that dangerous stretch of road.

Those people, in a very responsible manner - Derek, Christine, Mary and many other volunteers pressured this government. They met with the Minister of Education and eventually our problem will be solved. It is a major concern that continues to surface in the growing community of Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea. Under no circumstances can students be forced to walk a dangerous stretch of road without sidewalks. I know that is a concern that you share with me, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 1833]

The strength in the community of Timberlea-Prospect is because of volunteers. I want to tell you about a few, Mr. Speaker; some whom I know personally, some whom I am fortunate enough to consider my friends. I am a member of Lions International and I can tell you that as a past member of the Timberlea Lions Club, as the Guiding Lion for the Prospect Road Lions Club, and currently as a member of the St. Margaret's Bay Lions Club, I wear this emblem proudly as a receiver of a cornea transplant and knowing that Lions International remains the Knights of the Blind.

I can tell you that volunteers in my community, whether it is Lions or other service clubs, these service clubs are the heart and soul of my community. I look to Peggy and Art Gilbert on the Prospect Road, two volunteers who give of themselves absolutely without question. Peggy, who was heavily involved in the Swissair disaster, and who spent innumerable hours as a volunteer, pitching in, helping out, doing what she could do. I turn to other members in the Lions Clubs of which I am fortunate enough to know, Con Marsh, from Timberlea, Gary Meade, from St. Margaret's Bay. Those Lions are volunteers that give of themselves so freely and I thank them for making my community a better place to live.

Mr. Speaker, I have heard you speak about Royal Canadian Legions in your community and how important they are. Whether it is Claude Fraser, the Lakeside Legion, Nick Ryan or Tommy Waters at the White's Lake Legion, these men give of themselves many long hours. Pat Longaphy in the White's Lake Legion is a perfect example. Patrick's young son recently won the citizenship award from the HRM. I had the pleasure of presenting that award on behalf of Councillor Mitchell, who was not present that day at Brookside's graduation. Young Patrick Longaphy is following in the footsteps of his dad by giving of himself, by being involved in his community and that speaks well for what the future holds for the community that I am so fortunate to represent.

Also, I would like to mention, of course, our firefighters. If I start to mention some of them, I will forget some of them, Mr. Speaker. You know how my memory, with age, is beginning to fail. But I want you to know that there are volunteer firefighters in the communities that I represent who never, ever question that call, who respond when the need is there. I have seen them in action. I think it is important that we all know the types of communities that we represent. Volunteer firefighters, volunteer Lions, volunteers in all segments of our communities are extremely important to the growth and future of where we are.

Mr. Speaker, I want to mention a couple of these communities, if I may. I want to mention one community to begin with, the community of Dover. There is East Dover and West Dover. East Dover is the home of the village green. It is a wonderful place to visit. They have a challenge softball game every year and I have heard government members are quite the softball players, although I wasn't picked up as a designated hitter, I want you to know that when the village green has their softball game next summer, I look forward to you joining me at that game, because that is the sort of event that makes you feel part of a community.

[Page 1834]

West Dover recently pulled together. There was a tragic accident in the community and a young man will be wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life. There have to be renovations made to his home. There has to be all kinds of provisions for a change in his lifestyle. The community of West Dover pitched in, got involved and held an auction and dance in the Bay Landing down in Prospect, and we thank Jamie Miles for allowing us to have the opportunity to use his facility that night. Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity, at that event, to serve as the auctioneer. I am not a man lost for words, but after three hours, and then we had dances in between. So I was dancing, auctioneering and, I guess, I was politicking a little bit. I want you to know that after three hours of auctioneering, the community of West Dover raised $14,000 for that family. That is a tribute to the community of West Dover and the surrounding businesses and surrounding communities who pitched in on that evening and helped us raise that money.

I also want to talk about the growing community of Hammonds Plains. As the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank can tell you, we attended recently, the member for Sackville-Beaverbank and I, the Firefighters Awards evening. Hammonds Plains is a community that has always felt sort of in between. Are they part of Bedford? Are they part of St. Margaret's Bay? Do they belong to the community of Sackville? I can tell you, Hammonds Plains shouldn't have to worry about its recognition because it is a community with a future. That evening, I was witness to the fact that the Firefighter of the Year award was presented to an ex-student of mine, Mark Fletcher, who has returned to this community to serve it in a way that he knows will make a difference. Hammonds Plains is a community with a future because of people such as Mark Fletcher, and because of the time that young men such as him are giving to the community.

I also want to talk about the community of Prospect. I want to give you a geography lesson. I was a history teacher, but we are going to do geography. When you come down the Prospect Road, named after the Village of Prospect, you can make one left and go to Terence Bay, and if you go all the way through Terence Bay you will go to Lower Prospect. Lower Prospect, which we will call a suburb of Terence Bay, however, is not the Village of Prospect, you have to look across a stretch of water to get to Prospect. Instead you must not take the first left, you must take the second left, and you will have the opportunity to come down into beautiful Prospect.

Prospect Village is one of those very places that we must protect. There are parts of the village that are historic. There are parts of the coastline that we must not allow to continue to be developed. There are parts of that coastline, unfortunately, that are now part of what is called a gated community. In other words, you come to a set of gates and unless you have the lock or the combination or the proper punch-in code, you go no further. That sort of development cannot be allowed to continue in that wonderful community and in other communities across this province. That is the very issue that I was mentioning earlier when I spoke about the coastal issue and access to coastal properties.

[Page 1835]

I would be remiss if I did not mention Beechville. Beechville is a community with a long wonderful past. Recently I had the opportunity to attend an event in their community hall. Beechville was one of those communities that has been moved a number of times. Here is the history teacher in me coming out. Beechville was a Black community. It is not a Black community anymore, there are many whites, Blacks, whatever who live in that growing community. At one time in the history of Nova Scotia, Blacks were kept on the periphery of Halifax. I am sure the member for Preston can give me a history lesson on some of these matters.

Beechville, when it was originally settled was going to be at the arm, and then it was going to be up over the arm hill, well, finally Beechville and the community was allowed to put down its roots where it is now. That was a long time ago, but many of those families continue to live in that community. The DeLeons, the Wrights, the Blackmores, the Lopes, the Hills, those people and their ancestors continue to live in that wonderful community. They are fortunate enough to have a new middle school just being built there.

Mr. Speaker, I want you to know the key part of that community is that young people are moving back to Beechville. Young people are moving back there to make sure that they want their community to stay alive. I think of Terry DeLeon and Martin DeLeon, two outstanding young men - probably you have heard their names through softball circles - who have awards in their high schools named after them. You can have no greater honour than to have an award named after you, particularly when you are a recent graduate and still alive. Now, Martin DeLeon was an outstanding athlete. Martin DeLeon works at Ridgecrest Middle School. He is there as a teacher assistant. I can tell you that Martin DeLeon does much more than just work in that community. He is a role model for not just Blacks but for white young men and women who attend that school. Martin DeLeon cares about his community and I recognize him again, as I did earlier, in other comments at an earlier time.

[4:30 p.m.]

Joseph Howe said - I know the member for Cape Breton Nova wanted me to have a few quotes as I usually did - speak the truth and feel it. I can tell you that on many times in this House, I think we speak sometimes so the media is listening. We speak sometimes, Mr. Speaker, to hear ourselves speak. But when it comes to a topic that is near and dear and important to you, such as my constituency is, I make no apologies for speaking at length and speaking with some degree of passion.

I want you to know that W.H. Cowley said that a leader is anyone who has two characteristics. I should point out to you, Mr. Speaker, that this is not exactly in the age of the 1990's quite correct, because he only refers to he here, but for members present, if you could substitute he/she, I would appreciate it. W.H. Cowley said, that a leader is anyone who has two characteristics. First he is going somewhere and second, he is able to persuade other people to go with him.

[Page 1836]

Mr. Speaker, we have been put in a position of leadership. We have been put in a position where we have responsibilities to face, responsibilities that will get us re-elected if we do our job serving our constituents, speaking up for them, having our say on their behalf. That is the challenge before members present. I know that we have caucus solidarity and we have Cabinet secrecy. I have never been in any kind of position where I have been told that I cannot stand in my place and speak my mind on an issue. When that time comes, I will follow J.S. Woodsworth's example. J.S. Woodsworth was a man of courage. I don't agree with his decision when he stood in that House in September 1939, because J.S. WOODSWORTH was the only member of that Commons who voted Nay in Canada joining World War II.

My father, God bless his soul, called J.S. Woodsworth many things after I told him, after I had done the book review, and responded to the fact that I thought the NDP maybe was somebody you might consider, Dad. To his dying day, I have no idea whether the man ever placed an X next to the Party which I am fortunate enough to represent, but as he watches me from above, I will tell you that my father probably said, as Gus used to say to me in the football huddle, if you have nothing to say, you don't have to be loud, you just have to speak with a degree of passion.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your time and I thank members present. (Applause)

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and make a number of comments in the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I am very pleased to represent a constituency that has great diversity, great strength, character and the wherewithal to sustain itself through some very difficult times. Anyone who knows anything about the political, economic and social realities of what has transpired in Cape Breton over the last number of years would readily agree that it has not been an easy situation by any measure.

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I didn't stop to acknowledge and to thank those who have been very supportive of me and my family, ensuring my return to this House for the fourth consecutive election. There are many volunteers in the community who supported me. I would be somewhat cautious not to start mentioning too many names for fear if I miss one, then someone could easily, rightly or wrongly, assume that you didn't consider their contribution, no matter how big or how small, as being insignificant enough that you would not consider it.

I am very pleased, Mr. Speaker, to return to this House. I believe that as with all members in this Assembly, it is a great honour. It is probably one of the greatest honours that has been bestowed upon myself and, indeed, my family when you consider that when you have a population of close to 950,000 people and out of that total population they select 52 individuals from different walks of life, lifestyles, professional backgrounds, and just common

[Page 1837]

sensical ordinary Nova Scotians, who come together and produce what I feel are some of the best laws in this country, and I am sure will continue to produce.

I believe one of the novice members, if I can use such a term, on a previous date made reference to the quote that was given to him about all the insanity that sometimes is perceived to take place in this House, and we do get some of the best laws. I guess I can take some credit for that comment because having been in this Assembly before and having seen some very difficult pieces of legislation work their way through and the cooperation from all political Parties and seeing that political swords are put aside in the best interests of Nova Scotians, I can assure that honourable member and all other novice members that indeed, they are in a place where their voice is heard, irrespective of whether they are a member of the government backbenches, a member of the Executive Council or, as we are, in the Opposition.

Mr. Speaker, I represent a constituency with some 26 different communities, spanning over a total distance of approximately 62 miles. If you start at the Richmond County line and you start working your way community by community, and I am going to mention the names of these communities because I know for each person who is in the Assembly, at least one of those communities will mean something to one of these individual members because I know they have friends and relatives in one or several of these communities. It will just emphasize how diverse this constituency is and where it derives its strength, which obviously comes from the people.

We start at the Richmond County line at Irish Vale and then you work your way down through Big Pond, Ben Eoin, East Bay, Sydney Forks, Howie Centre, Sydney River, Prime Brook, Dutch Brook, Marion Bridge, Grand Mira North, Grand Mira South, Upper Grand Mira, Gabarus, Mira Road, Albert Bridge, Mira Gut, Catalone, Bateston, Main-à-Dieu, Little Lorraine, Big Lorraine, Louisbourg, Port Morien, Donkin, Birch Grove, Tower Road. So you can see, Mr. Speaker, that it truly is a rather diverse constituency. It is a community of communities in sum total.

When I was first elected back in 1988, it wasn't my first attempt at politics. I ran back in 1984 under the then Liberal Leader Sandy Cameron. It was quite an honour to have the opportunity to be a standard-bearer in that election, because time proved to be true in what Sandy Cameron stood for, not only as a politician but as an honourable individual, with some of the concerns that he had with the government of the day. Although people didn't readily accept his concerns about the way the government was off the rails in terms of some rather important legal matters, in terms of a number of major concerns that he had raised during that election, but the Premier of the day, Premier Buchanan, he was a rather slick salesman, there is no two ways about it. As time went by, I think in retrospect, the people of Nova Scotia, if they had their choice again would have made a much different decision back in that particular election.

[Page 1838]

I am very pleased, Mr. Speaker, to have been part of that process, albeit that I did not win in that particular election, it was a learning experience to understand how politics impacts each and every one of our lives. It has often been said that one out of every three Nova Scotians are directly affected by the provincial government. That is true when you start breaking it down through all the electoral processes, the agencies, boards and commissions, government departments and so on.

Mr. Speaker, I think that is what encouraged me to re-offer in 1988. I was very fortunate to be elected in that particular constituency and again in 1993. I took a short sabbatical in 1994 on a rather minor policy difference, I suppose, some would argue, but I was very fortunate to re-offer in 1998 and again in 1999.

Some of the things, Mr. Speaker, that you will encounter through any election process, and I am sure anyone who has gone door-to-door canvassing, or has been part of an organization where you are preparing and organizing, whether it be fund-raising, advertising, the door-to-door blitz with your campaign teams or so on, it is what you learn about human nature that helps to give you the greater knowledge and strength to be able to deal with some of the rather commanding issues that affect all Nova Scotians.

I recall in this election past, every second day I would be driving down the street to my headquarters and lo and behold there would always be this one van with two gentlemen in it and they would follow me. They would follow me to just about every community that I canvassed. I said this is rather interesting. Are these guys with the CIA? I mean nobody could ever get close to them. When you would go to pull up next to them or something like that, they would disappear. It was like a Monty Python movie, you know, go away and all of a sudden, puff, they are gone, but lo and behold after about a week and one-half I found out that this was part and parcel of a rather concentrated effort to ensure my lack of presence in this House this time around.

AN HON. MEMBER: By who?

MR. MACKINNON: An honourable member asks by who. They did have NDP badges on if that means anything. It was rather amusing to watch. I would canvass a particular community. Let's say I go down through a couple of streets in Prime Brook, you know, through Brooklyn Drive or some of those places there, and then when I would leave at the end of the evening, if we were kind of doing some backtracking for a particular reason, then you would see this van, they would go to every household that I had been in, especially if they saw a sign. They would go in and I tell you, Mr. Speaker, I have never in all my enduring days seen such a concentrated effort by a group to wave goodbye to my presence in the constituency of Cape Breton West. This went on day in and day out. I found it actually amazing. I was kind of disappointed when I would not see the van in the morning because I felt, well, maybe they got stuck at Tim Hortons, or something like that there, or they ran out of signs, or propaganda or something, I am not sure what the problem was, or maybe they

[Page 1839]

had a flat tire, but no matter where I went over that 62 mile stretch, that van was there. I tell you I do have the license plate well embedded in my mind.

It got so bad, they got so confused and so concentrated in their desire to defeat me that they even started putting signs on my own property. I could not believe it. I drove down the street one day and there was an NDP sign on one of my properties and I am saying to myself I cannot remember giving them permission. I mean I am a rather generous guy on some terms, but I never thought it would come to the point where they would just come and start putting signs up. So it was rather amusing, but Halloween did come early, and it left early, so that was the good part. Meeting the people around the constituency, Mr. Speaker, I found that there were a lot of good people who offered some suggestions as to how to improve on government and their access to government and the way that government should respond to their concerns and their needs.

[4:45 p.m.]

By the way, I would be somewhat remiss if I didn't make reference to my good friends in the Cape Breton Building and Construction Trades Council, who submitted the blanket letter asking their entire membership, at great effort, to make sure that no Liberal member of the team in Cape Breton was re-elected. So that letter was distributed about three days before the election. I could easily table the letter, Mr. Speaker, but I just hate to pick on them any more than they have been picked on. The people have chosen and they looked at greater wisdom than some of the shenanigans and the antics that sometimes transpire when you are leaning far to the left.

Mr. Speaker, my colleague who spoke just previous made reference to the democratic process and what it means to him - I just looked to your right and I don't want to look too far to the right, but the Honourable Joseph Howe, the picture of him there - and some of the things that Mr. Howe had to endure to be able to make some fundamental changes that have affected the lives of all Nova Scotians and, indeed, changed the course of politics and the course of Nova Scotia's history and what direction we are going as a province and as a people.

I can't but recall his words, to the effect, when he was talking about responsible government and he used to go to some of these political rallies down in Pictou County. They were just as feverish about their politics back in those days, Mr. Speaker, as we are in Cape Breton about our politics today. He was just getting pounded at a local town hall meeting for something he was supposed to have done or not done and he stood up and he said, well, I know the value of education by the lack of it. That pretty well says it all. When you come into this Chamber and you think you know everything and then you start listening to your colleagues around this Chamber, then you start to realize how important it is to hear everybody's point of view.

[Page 1840]

Mr. Speaker, that is one of the first things I learned. To be true to your constituents, be true to yourself and, indeed, just to put an honest, hard day's work in and not be seconded to political pressures, whether it be partisan or just because a certain policy position is put forth, quite frankly, as was with the paramedics issue, because after one week of pretty vigorous debate in the Assembly, the government essentially came back to the position that it refused to take in the first place. These are types of things that you can learn by listening to the debates from all sides of the political spectrum. I think that is very important; I know that is particularly important for the new members.

Mr. Speaker, Joseph Howe - and I hold very strong on this position - always maintains that the principle of responsible government is to reflect, defend and promote the interests of your constituents above all other interests.

Some of the more seasoned and experienced individuals in politics than I, whether it be at municipal or provincial level, would readily agree that it is only in the last 30 years to 35 years that we have actually had the Party Whip system introduced into Nova Scotian and Canadian politics. That, Mr. Speaker, obviously was because when governments were making difficult decisions, backbenchers who felt that they had a responsibility to promote, defend and reflect the interest of their constituents were sometimes standing out of the line-up, so to speak, and really took issue with their own government. Hence, the introduction of the Party Whip system which is a derivative from the British parliamentary rule. This whole principle and concept of responsible government is a direct derivative of the British parliamentary rule of law.

So, Mr. Speaker, anyone who feels that Party politics has to be first and foremost is sadly mistaken because they will be judged accordingly. They will be judged. There is ample opportunity for any elected official, it doesn't matter what political Party it is, to actually stand up, whether it be at a caucus meeting, whether it be at a Cabinet meeting, and have their voices heard, and, yes, you develop a consensus position and you hold true to that. Whether you agree with it entirely or not, that is the fundamental principle upon which this democratic process has to operate but the most important thing is that the voices of all have to be heard first. You cannot close the door and say this is the way it is going to be. Here are the facts, we will give you the details later. Here is our decision, this is what we are going to do, don't ask any questions, we will deal with that later, here is what we are going to do. Trust us.

Mr. Speaker, we know that the trust that the people of Nova Scotia have for politicians isn't always at the top of the list. I believe that we were next to, I think it was, bankers, they were rated pretty low. I think bankers were the only ones who were rated lower than politicians there about two or three years ago. I am not sure if that has changed any or not but that is a reality.

Mr. Speaker, in Cape Breton West, we have been very fortunate over the past number of years to have seen some very positive initiatives. As per my discussions and deliberations

[Page 1841]

with the Minister of Education, the new Mira P3 school, estimated at some $8.5 million is now under construction. I was very pleased to see that the newly elected government saw fit to adopt the policy direction of the Cape Breton District School Board in amalgamating three schools: Main-à-Dieu, Catalone and the Albert Bridge School because of their deteriorating state and, in fact, the need to educate our children in some of the most advanced technologically educational facilities in the Province of Nova Scotia. That is important because in rural Nova Scotia students don't always have the advantages that they have in some of the more suburban or rural centres because (Interruptions) Absolutely.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things we are very blessed with in and around the Mira area is the amount of fresh water and the quality. We have lots of good, clean air and the resources, and the people in Mira value that very highly. Yes, there has been the odd politician who would come along and wrap himself in the flag, singing Out on the Mira. (Interruptions) I am not sure if it was a blessing or a curse to have that type of promotion; at times it was a blessing, at times it was a curse, but he is off to the Senate now so I don't think we will have to worry too much about him for the time being.

Mr. Speaker, in the communities of Donkin, Port Morien, Birch Grove and Tower Road, they are facing some rather difficult times for a number of reasons. As you may or may not know, they are an appendix to the Town of Glace Bay and mining has always been a central part of their life. People always seem to focus on Glace Bay and New Waterford because they are historically mining towns, but a lot of members in this House may not be aware but the community of Donkin was once known as Glace Bay, Big Glace Bay and the Town of Glace Bay today was Little Glace Bay. The bridge that combined both sections, both towns together, that washed out early in the turn of the century and then they rebuilt another one, and then they built another, they washed out.

That is where the sandbar is, running from Glace Bay across over to Sterns Corner, which is the entrance going towards the community of Donkin. In fact, the community of Donkin did have a coal mine, as well they did over in the community of Birch Grove and Port Morien. (Interruptions)

Absolutely, my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, is correct, the first coal mine, I believe it was 1713 or actually just around the turn of the century, just going into the 1700's, the first coal mine in North America was developed in the community of Port Morien. It wasn't until about 25 or 30 years ago they actually filled it in, but some of those pit props and those pillar posts, are still almost as if they were put there yesterday. They are in excellent condition. There is an excellent opportunity to promote tourism.

My colleague, the good Minister of Tourism and Culture, if he is looking for an opportunity to promote Cape Breton, I would invite him to take this up as an opportunity. I am sure the honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture wouldn't want to see an opportunity lost. The first coal mine in North America, what a great promotion, if he could

[Page 1842]

incorporate on his list of accomplishments rather than to be just identified as the Minister in Cabinet because he is from Cape Breton. I know he would want to leave a more distinguished mark. Here is one opportunity.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are going to get a lump of coal for Christmas.

MR. MACKINNON: Some are saying, we will get a lump of coal for Christmas with a suggestion like that. I know the minister is much wiser than to be sidetracked by rabbit tracks. We also have Marconi House, that home which was the central office for Guglielmo Marconi for the wireless telegraph communication system. That is in the community of the Tower Road area. That would certainly be an excellent promotional tool as well. Some members may even remember the member who represented the Glace Bay area, Russell Cunningham, for the CCF, he was the provincial Leader. (Interruptions) A little to the left for my political liking but very well respected in his community. Many of his children still live in the constituency and are very well respected. In fact, two of his sons still live in the original Marconi homestead, and they are very proud. Their initiative to maintain that special history and culture by keeping that very special facility alive. So you can see, Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of opportunity just from a tourism point of view.

[5:00 p.m.]

We also have on the Mira River the Mira Two Rivers Park. It is an excellent facility. Several years ago when the (Interruption) I was in the process of mentioning, Mr. Speaker, back in 1993-94, when the policy decision was made to privatize a number of these provincial parks, I was very saddened, quite frankly, to see that provincial wildlife park privatized because it was the only wildlife park on Cape Breton Island. It is the home to probably one of the most scenic pieces of real estate in Nova Scotia, where the Salmon River and the Mira River combine. That 500 acre tract of land, of which only perhaps about 25 per cent or 30 per cent is developed, is an excellent opportunity that would be lost if we didn't continue to build on the efforts of the community organizations, in particular the parent body that has taken over responsibility of this particular provincial park after it was turned over to the private sector.

Indeed, I would be remiss if we didn't acknowledge some of the corporate sponsors. I can't mention them all because I can't remember them all but some, such as the Sobeys empire, were very strong supporters of this initiative. Some of the local business enterprises in industrial Cape Breton also saw the need. Mr. Speaker, in the peak season they employ upwards of 15 to 20 people in the summer; in the off-season there are somewhere in the vicinity of half a dozen who work there full time. So they have really taken ownership and they have demonstrated that through some difficult times, things can be a success.

Mr. Speaker, also on the Mira River we have the Mira Provincial Park, which is a campground park. My understanding, back when we came to power in 1993, up until that

[Page 1843]

particular point in time, there was an absence of some good business planning, and certainly with the support from the previous administration when the honourable John Leefe was Minister of Natural Resources, he, in fact, provided sufficient funding to upgrade the washroom and shower facilities and so on. That brought it to the stage where shortly after that, with the continuation of our investment under the honourable Don Downe who was then minister, that provincial park's revenues have always exceeded expenses. That is the type of initiative that I like to see, the Mira Provincial Campground Park.

It is in part not only because of the initiative that was undertaken by the community in and around the Mira area and the adjoining communities, for that matter, setting up the Board of Directors for the Mira Two Rivers Park, but also, at the mouth of the Mira River, where the river which enters into the Atlantic Ocean, we undertook an initiative back in 1993-94 to turn what was essentially just a marsh area, fronting between the Mira Gut Highway and the ocean, and we turned that into a beautiful beach area. On any summer day that you go to that particular area, if the sun is shining you will find at least 500 people in that very small area. It is just amazing what you can do with a little bit of money. That is the type of networking that is required in some of these outreaches, in order to make these different institutions and programs a success. Otherwise, all we are doing is just pouring money into bottomless pits, as some would suggest.

Mr. Speaker, we are very blessed by the fact that this Mira River, which is some 28 miles long, has four bridges over it. I think the history alone would be enough to keep anybody who would come to the community, literally, for days.

Mr. Speaker, I was a little bit disappointed with the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Economic Development and Public Works who refused to deal with a blockage at the Victoria Bridge area. A piece of marshland broke off, it is jammed, and it has literally blocked any passageway under the Victoria Bridge. I would encourage the Minister of the Environment to take some action because there is an opportunity lost, and an opportunity lost makes us more dependent on other sources. I believe that the Minister of the Environment would certainly not want that to happen.

Mr. Speaker, as well, one of the major concerns that we have had, obviously, is the downturn of the economy in general. Some of the difficulties we have are related to our transportation system and I must say when my colleague, the honourable Clifford Huskilson, was Minister of Transportation and Public Works, he was very good to the community. I know the Minister of Tourism, he spent some time in Ben Eoin last summer playing the fiddle and I am saying that is great because he had a chance to drive over the roads and find out how bad they are, and he knows Highway No. 4 is in dire need . . .

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: It is better than mine.

[Page 1844]

MR. MACKINNON: Now the Minister of Tourism is saying it is better than his, but I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, when his predecessor, one of my previous colleagues was here in this House, I think he had to buy a truck because he was hauling so many tenders and loads of asphalt back to Inverness County. I mean there was none for anybody else; I have just never seen anything like it. So if there are a couple of roads left out of the 300 or 400 miles of roads, I can appreciate him wanting to finish off so he can have a perfect system there.

The Minister of Tourism knows all too well the importance of Highway No. 4. There is critical need on both sides of Big Pond to have that highway upgraded. There is a very dangerous turn there, rock turns and, in fact, in the Middle Cape area on the St. Peters side of Big Pond, there was a young chap, 23 years old I believe, driving a truck loaded with biomedical waste, about two months ago. He came down one of those very steep, difficult hills and not being familiar with the area, unfortunately, he was killed. It is not the first time someone has gone off in that particular area and that was an area that was slated for some upgrading.

Although members would note that I really have not harped on this on a regular basis in the House, because I recognize that all members have equal demands for constituency roadwork but, Mr. Speaker, if ever there was a need for a particular piece of highway to be upgraded, it is indeed Highway No. 4. I recall on another time, driving from Halifax several years back, I came around the turn and the volunteer fire department from Big Pond was dealing with a rather horrific accident where one person was killed instantly and another person was critically injured.

I believe - not taking away from the issue of Highway No. 101 because I believe it is a very important issue - if one were to examine the number of injuries and deaths on this particular highway, they would find that there is probably as many, if not more. I know there is a higher percentage of deaths between Grand Lake Road and North Sydney on the Trans Canada. There are more deaths per kilometre than there are on Highway No. 101, in fact more than twice as many. There are, I believe, three deaths per kilometre on Highway No. 101; it is seven deaths per kilometre on Highway No. 125 between Grand Lake Road and North Sydney, so Mr. Speaker, you can see that sometimes, what gets the most publicity isn't necessarily the number one priority. It certainly is the priority for the good people in and around Annapolis and Kings Counties and I respect that, but I like to look at the facts as well. The facts of the matter, as one would say, is that there are more people dying for a variety of reasons. Not any less for which there are a high percentage, I believe there are 10 exits and entrances in that short distance and it creates a terrific traffic hazard.

So, Mr. Speaker, also the last time the Louisbourg Highway had any amount of work done to it was in 1968-69. Now just outside of Louisbourg is home to one of the greatest jewels that we have in this province, the National Historic Park, which is only, by the way, 25 per cent complete. Yet, if you were to go there, you would need to stay at least six hours to seven hours just to absorb all the different sites and activities and the recreated events and

[Page 1845]

structures back from the time of Louis XIV. Yet, the main thoroughfare to that historic town has never been upgraded in 30 years.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who was in government?

MR. MACKINNON: Well, yes, there were Liberals in power, Tories in power, wannabe socialists trying to get into power, but never did and probably never will. But it does make a difference. We had the issue of the Fleur-de-lis Trail. Quite frankly, I am really not pleased with some of the presentations that have come from the engineering division of that department, because, Mr. Speaker, I like to save money no matter whether it is my money or the taxpayers' money. Under the previous administration, about 75 per cent of that Fleur-de-lis Trail was completed. That is the original road for the French when they came from Louisbourg, working inland towards St. Peters and so on.

Now, from Gabarus, to the Fortress of Louisbourg, which is approximately, I would suggest, 10 kilometres, at maximum. That is what is left to be completed. The residents in and around the Town of Louisbourg want it to go along the coastal road, which is what is known as the Kennington Cove Road, where you can see the ocean. You can see across to Gabarus and out to Guyon Island. It is absolutely panoramic because you are driving along a ridge, high above the ocean and it is just absolutely breathtaking. The engineers say, no, we are going to go inland because it is going to cost too much to go along the coastal route.

Well, I could never ever rationalize that, Mr. Speaker, so I started writing some letters, making some interventions, asking questions and talking with the so-called experts. Initially I was advised that there is no cost differential between going the inland route, which is a super-route, 60 metres wide, so that is 180-190 feet right-of-way as opposed to going along the Kennington Cove Road, because they said it would cost too much to upgrade the Kennington Cove Road because that was used during the ox cart and horse and wagon days.

But, Mr. Speaker, I recall travelling back in the 1960's with my dad, when he was delivering laths to the fishermen in and around Louisbourg. He wasn't driving a horse and wagon, he was driving a truck. So I started to ask some more questions. Give me the details on your analysis because the total cost to finish this they estimate to be $15 million.

[5:15 p.m.]

I recognize that the Department of Transportation and Public Works does not have that kind of money for one single project, and I recognize equally that it is a joint agreement, a federal-provincial agreement. So lo and behold, Mr. Speaker, I find after inquiring that they never really did do a thorough analysis on the Kennington Cove Road, that it was kind of a general understanding between the provincial Department of Transportation and the officials at Fortress Canada, the historians, that they were not going to go over the Kennington Cove Road because they didn't want to travel down and get as far as Wolfes Landing because they

[Page 1846]

figured that was a sensitive area and they would be tampering with archaeological information that they felt was close to the road and so on.

Mr. Speaker, here is the error in their thinking: the first six kilometres coming from the Fortress of Louisbourg back towards Gabarus, that is being used now anyway and that is the critical area they are talking about. I estimated, having worked on road construction and worked in and around the business and talking to some of my good friends in the construction industry, we felt we could have saved close to $7 million if we were to go along the Kennington Cove route and we could still achieve our goals. I even met with the local councillor and we met with the Honourable Sheila Copps in Ottawa on this issue and she had no knowledge about this issue, about why they didn't want to go over the Kennington Cove Road. The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, we could still preserve the integrity of the archaeological finds, we could take the scenic route and we could save upwards of $7 million.

These are some of the problems that I understand, as legislators, that you don't necessarily accept the opinions of your technical experts. Here is a classic example why. I guess maybe it is a little bit like the red route, blue route in Antigonish. Here is an opportunity where the people want to go on the Kennington Cove route. It is scenic, it is going to save money, the tourists will be happy. You don't have to have a super highway going into this fortress. The whole idea is to travel back in time. I have seen it done in other historic parks. They don't need thoroughfares, all-season highways that would meet the satisfaction of the engineers within the Department of Transportation and Public Works. I think they are looking for a Cadillac system when we don't need it. I think we could still achieve our goals. Mr. Speaker, that is a very attainable goal. Anyone who captures the moment, anyone who seizes the opportunity to make this a realization will be remembered long after we are gone because this is one of the vital links in making the Fortress of Louisbourg the important historical entity that it is.

Mr. Speaker, as well, the speech we are making here this evening obviously is with regard to the Speech from the Throne. I know the government has indicated that it has 243 promises in its blue book (Interruption) oh, the commitments. I have been corrected by one of the backbenchers who has obviously been given permission to speak. If you look in great detail, if you examine the 243 commitments made by this government, more than 60 per cent of them at least have been just a commitment to examine or to study. That is like saying, I agree to consult with everybody when I go to the bank and withdraw $100. Well, I am going to go to the bank and I am going to get the $100 if I need it, so I am just going to tell everybody I am going to do it, but it doesn't have any impact. It is all mind games and it is all perception becoming the reality of a government listening to the people and doing what the people want.

Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is it is just all about a bunch of rhetoric and pale talk. That is all it is because what does it achieve? If the government were by its own admission to follow the commitments that were made in the blue book, this issue with the

[Page 1847]

paramedics would never have come to the House of Assembly the way it did. It never would and I believe the Minister of Health recognizes that. In hindsight, the Minister of Health, I will bet you a dime to a donut, would not have gone through the torture that he did for a week and one-half only to come back to the original position that they had put out in the collective bargaining process.

It was a terrible public relations exercise. It really was. It was a failure. I wish the Minister of Health good health after decisions like that. He will certainly need it. I think he brought in the 911 bill because he really needs the paramedics onside just in case something goes wrong because the health of this government is not good for a new government. On one hand they have come in and said we are just kind of getting our fingerprints off the Liberal budget, so let's get that. On the other hand, they are saying this is the real issue for Nova Scotia; this is the total debt, okay. But they forgot to tell the people of Nova Scotia that their commitment to health care, the $46 million - why is it now $200 million? How did the hospitals of Nova Scotia spend $154 million more than was anticipated in just two or three months? From the time the election took place to the time the budget reached its culmination here, how could the Tories be off that far in their calculations?

Obviously, Mr. Speaker, it was just part of the good news document to make people feel like they had a real good fiscal plan. The fact of the matter is they are penny-wise and pound-foolish. That is what we have over here. We have them taking from the poor. Realistically it cost over $1 million to win that seat in Bedford. It cost over $1 million to win that seat. We were part of a process that listened to the same advice these individuals listened to. There were public consultative activities with the community and the records will show that, the records will show. The people may not have agreed in the final analysis, and I respect that, but we did not hold one crowded little meeting in a hotel room, with 200 people when it is only designed for about 40 or 50 and they had to stand out in the hall.

Where was the Minister of Labour? Why did he not call the fire marshal and say, gosh, the Minister of Justice is off the rails here. We have got to protect people, not endanger their lives but, no, they were very anxious to get this behind them, Mr. Speaker. We are giving 94 cents to hungry children to eat and we are spending $1 million to win an election in a particular constituency. We are giving millions of dollars to the bank, the same bank that had over a $1.1 billion or $1.2 billion profit. How can anybody . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: What bank would that be?

MR. MACKINNON: The Bank of Nova Scotia. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, the back-pedalling and the cat catcalls are starting. That means they are sensitive. They have really fouled up. They must be getting some good inside advice from their staff and from the communications gurus over there, that must be turning out all this good news, but it is not good news. The fact of the matter is they have stumbled, they have fumbled and now they look like a government that has been here for nearly a decade, really, I mean I have never seen

[Page 1848]

a government wither so fast in such a short period of time. It is like going from one level of the stratosphere to the next. They are burning up. By the time they hit - earth to Tory caucus - it will be too late. (Laughter) My sympathies go out to them. I really believe that they mean well, but great intentions, that is only good in Charles Dickens, and that is just about what we are getting here.

Mr. Speaker, in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, this year we have a $10.3 million shortfall. Their own expert, an outside consultant's report, as I understand, concludes that over the next three years, they will have accumulated $25 million shortfall in revenues, just to meet their day-to-day operations. This at the same time that the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs is increasing assessments, when the economy points quite to the contrary. All he has to do is check with the Minister of Economic Development and/or the Minister of Finance and he will find the same experts that are allowing him to proceed in that very erroneous way are the ones that are downgrading the economic status in industrial Cape Breton. (Interruptions) Oh, I will come back to him later.

Mr. Speaker, how can the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs just sit and do nothing? He is going to consult while this entire situation gets progressively worse. On a CBC interview several months ago, the Minister of Economic Development said that he wasn't sitting idly by, he wasn't just sitting on his hands and doing nothing, that they were aggressively working to prepare a long-term economic strategy for Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, where is the plan? If he has one, it is probably the best-kept secret in the world, because nobody seems to know anything about it. If the plan is that there is no plan, why doesn't he just say so. You cannot allow people to be put in such a difficult situation as they have been put in by this particular government.

Mr. Speaker, this government didn't create all these problems, they have inherited some problems, by admission, I will be the first to admit that. I would be naive and I think it would not be appropriate to point fingers at everybody else and not say that I have a responsibility too, we all have a responsibility. But the fact of the matter is the Minister of Economic Development hasn't produced one iota of a semblance of economic strategy, order, management or anything of any substance that would contribute to the economic and social stability of industrial Cape Breton.

If he has, I would invite him to do the same. I would invite him. I would invite the Minister of Tourism and Culture. He is our Cabinet representative in Cape Breton, but what has he done? He has played the fiddle a couple of times. That is good music to a good Scotsman's ears, I like Scots music, but it doesn't feed a hungry family. The Minister of Tourism and Culture knows full well that Cape Breton Island was rated as one of the 10 best places to live in the world by National Geographic, less than a month ago. One of the best 10 places in the world to live.

[Page 1849]

I would say there must be something good about this place. It is not all bad as some would suggest. Cape Bretoners want Sydney Steel and they want this and they want that, but when are they going to start doing things for themselves? Well, we have been. I am very proud of my heritage, and I am very proud of where I come from. I am very proud to stand in this House and say that the vast majority of the people that I know in my constituency and indeed, on Cape Breton Island as a whole, are very honourable hard-working people and they are very proud. They are not going around looking for handouts, as some people would suggest through irresponsible and ill-informed statements.

[5:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I would invite our Cabinet representative in Cape Breton to tell the people of Cape Breton what he, on behalf of this government, is doing for the people in industrial Cape Breton. I am telling you, he would get a standing ovation like no one has ever gotten before, if he could at least come and announce at least one thing that this government has done for Cape Breton, just one. What do we get? We get total silence. Do you know why? Because they have done nothing, it is shameful. (Interruption) Very soon.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, they say very soon but I tell you, humour does not help people who need help. I tell you that this neo-Conservative, right-wing course, without some safeguards in place, is going to have more negative, long-term effects than the honourable member for Dartmouth South could even imagine because there is more to Nova Scotia than just Dartmouth South, that little world he has himself cocooned in. All he has to do is look around his own caucus.

Mr. Speaker, I realize my time is coming to a close but there are many important issues. I would invite the Minister of Tourism, one final time, take the opportunity, come to Cape Breton, let them at least know what you look like. You would never think it, if he lives there he is the best kept secret on that side of the Island because they don't even know what he looks like. Oh my gosh. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Tourism.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: I just want to say that I accept your offer to visit Cape Breton sometime.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West, you have about 20 seconds.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Well thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank all members for their indulgence during my rather lengthy dissertation. I know some will agree with me and some will not but I am very pleased to rise and make some intervention.

[Page 1850]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to rise in this Legislature today and bring forth my Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne on behalf of my constituents in Pictou East. It is, indeed, an honour to once again receive the support and the confidence of the fine people of Pictou East and be able to represent their concerns here in the provincial capital of Halifax.

During previous speeches I talked about the importance of our resource-based industries in our constituency; the forestry, the farming and the fishing are so predominant, so many people are employed in those industries that I would be remiss not to mention it. Since I did talk about those so much in the past, and also about how proud we are of our fire services and the festivals and so on, I won't talk about them tonight, Mr. Speaker, I will reserve that, with your indulgence, for another time. I just thought I should mention that because rather I thought I would start off, for the benefit of some of the new members and the Pages and perhaps refresh the memories of some of the more senior and seasoned members, I would like to talk a little about the history of this Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, to have an opportunity to speak in this Legislature is, indeed, quite an honour. The historical significance is something to behold, indeed. The Nova Scotia Legislature has met in these historic Chambers every year since February, 1819, and it is the oldest seat of government in Canada.

In 1948 the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada erected a centenary plaque commemorating the establishment here of the first responsible government in the Empire outside of Great Britain. An appropriation was passed in March 1811 and on August 12th of that same year the cornerstone of this building that we are standing in today was laid. Today's Legislature stands as a high tribute to the builders of another era.

These hallowed halls are also famous for having Joe Howe speak here. Mr. Howe was considered to be one of the finest journalists, orators and politicians in the British Empire. He established freedom of the press. On March 1, 1834, Joseph Howe, editor of the Novascotian, and champion of reform, stood before a court on a charge of seditious libel, but no lawyer dared defend him. He then defended himself and won a victory for freedom of the press. Joe Howe is perhaps the most-beloved politician in the history of Nova Scotia, but I should note that he symbolizes Nova Scotia's devotion to self-government and was totally opposed to joining Canada in 1867. After serving as Premier in 1863, Mr. Howe served as Lieutenant Governor in 1873 shortly before his death at the age of 69.

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate you, in particular, for being only the second Speaker in the history of this House to be chosen by your peers; it is quite an honour. I also want to congratulate the three Deputy Speakers chosen by their respective caucuses. They have proven already they have done a fine job for us, and we certainly appreciate the work

[Page 1851]

that they have done and the fairness they have shown. Also I want to offer sincere congratulations to my colleagues who were elected to their respective seats on the evening of July 27, 1999. While we will not always see eye to eye on issues, you are put here by the people of your constituency to represent their concerns.

The people of Nova Scotia were obviously not happy on July 27th, as they saw the Liberal Government as being too complacent and simply tired. They wanted change, they wanted openness, and they also wanted an opportunity to take part in the decision-making process concerning a wide variety of issues and initiatives, everything from their children's education to health care and other issues near and dear to their hearts and John Hamm and the Progressive Conservative team translated this into a mandate for a new government that is available and is also transparent. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I believe Premier Hamm deserves a great deal of credit for putting forth a plan and having Nova Scotians believe there was some light at the end of the tunnel. It was clearly something that neither the Liberals nor the NDP had. John Hamm and his PC team promised to provide more full-time nursing positions and this approach has been accepted very positively by the residents of Pictou County and the nurses at the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow.

In a news release I issued in late May, I attempted to bring attention to the situation facing nurses at the Aberdeen Hospital. The situation had reached a point where nurses were being called back on their day off, and some were facing a potential reduction in summer vacations, while others faced the prospect of working up to 24 hour shifts. Since Premier Hamm's PC Government took power in mid-August, additional nurses have been hired on a full-time basis in the Aberdeen Hospital. I am pleased that we have been able to bring some relief and I will continue to work with the Minister of Health on this issue.

The previous Liberal Administration failed in finding solutions to the ongoing shortages. Mr. Speaker, if you look back four years ago, it was this Liberal Government that offered $20 million in early incentive packages to encourage nurses and other health care providers to retire early. It has been recognized for several years that health care providers have been overworked and simply stressed out. Many have been required to work additional shifts. We are now entering a flu and cold season and any sick leave now will only increase the stress they are all facing, and they are facing it to the limit.

I thought I would now like to mention for the benefit of some of the new members, because I said this before, that I am not the first DeWolfe to sit in this Chamber. My uncle, Col. A.B. DeWolfe, proudly represented Pictou County and later represented Pictou Centre in Nova Scotia as a Cabinet Minister. This was back when I was just a youngster, but I remember it very well.

[Page 1852]

Mr. Speaker, it feels great to be here as part of the Progressive Conservative team under the leadership of John Hamm, a true statesman and recognized as such throughout the province. (Applause) I would certainly like to thank the members from the opposite side for their hand on that one. I do want to take a minute, and I would certainly be remiss if I didn't mention my family, my wife, Diane, mother of our two daughters, Kimberley and Jennifer. Since they are getting up in their 20's, I can't mention their ages now because I would be in trouble, and also our son, Mark. They all stood by me during my election campaign, and I thank them for their continued support as I strive to provide quality leadership for my constituents and for Nova Scotians. (Applause)

I also want to thank the very special men and women who dedicated their time, their money and their energy to my campaign. It was their efforts and their devotion that renewed my drive and strengthened my confidence on a daily basis. During my campaign, I was fortunate to visit many of the residents of Pictou East, many of my constituents, and regardless of their political stripes, they invited me into their homes. That says a lot about the people of Pictou East, they are fine people, and I am grateful for and I encourage input from my constituents. As their MLA, I will continue to represent them with the dedication that they deserve. After all, they are the people who yet again provided me the opportunity to speak here today.

I would like to take a few minutes to talk about my constituency, Pictou East, considered by all who live there and most who visit to be one of the most beautiful areas of the province. We are bounded on the north by Northumberland Strait with miles of sandy beaches, inlets and quaint villages, such as Pictou Landing where I live, Merigomish, Lismore, and to the south by rolling hills, scenic valleys and forests. The Trans Canada runs centrally through the constituency from west to east.

This area is as economically diverse as it is geographically dispersed. Our major urban centre is the Town of Westville with its proud history of coal mining, together with a loose collection of villages that dot the landscape, each with their own identity and historic charm.

I will go on to another topic. The Sable Gas pipeline is running through my constituency and Pictou County, which represents the third largest industrial base in Nova Scotia. We in Pictou County are waiting patiently for natural gas and must have natural gas to remain competitive. Our industries need it and our future economic growth of Pictou County is dependent on it, and Mr. Speaker, we will have it.

We are all poised to face the future. Our workforce is versatile, hardworking and willing to take on any challenge the future has to offer. Pictou County is connected to the world-wide market place, we are linked by sea, rail, road and air. As mentioned in the Throne Speech of the Progressive Government, we will see an emerging oil and gas industry continuing to flourish in the province. It holds a potential to transform many sectors of our economy by providing a secure source of clean energy, in addition to many jobs.

[Page 1853]

Mr. Speaker, I am looking forward to the establishment by Premier Hamm of the energy council that will monitor the development of this industry while ensuring all regions of the province are able to benefit from the offshore resources. Premier John Hamm will not allow future sources of revenue to be stripped out of our hands. The previous Liberal Government did just that, the Progressive Conservative Government will be proactive. (Applause)

In conclusion, the residents of Nova Scotia have dealt John Hamm and the Progressive Conservatives a majority hand on July 27th. It is now up to us, my colleagues and myself, to play our cards in a responsible way in the best interests of all Nova Scotians. We will rise to the challenge and we will provide decisive leadership that the majority of Nova Scotians clearly want and indeed expect of our Premier and our government. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support the Speech from the Throne. Thank you. (Applause)

[5:45 p.m.]

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I will start off with a few comments before the moment of interruption and I, hopefully, will be able to hit stride again.

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I would like to start today by congratulating you, as many before me have done, and the election of your three deputies. I think that was a historic moment in this House and I think that should not go unnoted. Therefore, I wish to say it publicly now that I congratulate you and your deputies. On returning, I would like to thank the staff of this House, the Pages and the various other employees.

AN HON. MEMBER: Jackie with a new haircut.

MR. CORBETT: Jackie with a new haircut, obviously. She goes to the Midtown with her dad but we will not go into that.

These are the people, Mr. Speaker, when we are in this House who makes our job that much easier. I see the member for Cape Breton West leaving and I know we are not supposed to say it, but I want to say one thing before he leaves. He talked about a van following him around when he was going door-to-door and I thought one other possibility could have been my legal team. I am not sure or not. So I just wanted to let the member know that. That was plausible, okay.

While I do not agree wholeheartedly with the Speech from the Throne, it certainly was an honour again to have the Lieutenant Governor here and read that Speech from the Throne as the Queen's representative in this House. I think that is important to note.

[Page 1854]

By no stretch of the imagination am I a seasoned veteran of this House. This is only my second time here. I am here less than two years. I have learned a lot, hopefully, in the short time I have been here from many of the senior members who sit in this House from all different Parties. As the member for Timberlea-Prospect said so eloquently before, you know, you get tips and you get information in this House, not for purely partisan reasons, but for reasons that they believe in this House that we should be able to conduct ourselves in the proper way and respect the traditions of this House. That is important.

I want to thank a lot of those members and I would like to thank one, in particular, the member for Hants West, who is a former Speaker when I first got in this House, and was very kind to me in some of his decisions in the Chair and would give us guidance. On a personal note, I would like to thank that member and say it meant a lot to me. Thank you, Mr. Minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: He never threw you out of the House either.

MR. CORBETT: No, that is right. Before I get on to talking about my riding, in particular, I think I want to talk about a couple things, about the new people who are in the House. I am certainly glad that you are here and I think it is important that, no matter if you are a government backbencher, or whatever, that you participate. I do not say that in a chiding way, I just say, when the opportunity presents itself, you know, if you get on the horse so to speak and get up and do it, you will find it easier, and as someone who is certainly not that learned around the ways of public speaking, that that is the way you get it done and whether it is by way of presenting resolutions, or speaking on bills, I think it will do you well.

To my many friends on all sides of the House who have returned, I wish to congratulate you on a successful campaign and it is good to see you all back.

On a level back to my constituency, I want to talk about the campaign, because, you know, to get here, we defeat other candidates. Sometimes that process can be acrimonious and sometimes it is not as acrimonious. It is, by its nature, you are aversing somebody and, therefore, at times, it isn't always lots of fun. I want to say about my two opponents, the Liberal candidate, Susan Marsh Deruelle and John Morrisey, who was the Tory candidate, that was true. At times, you are in the pitch of battle and you don't always see eye to eye on platforms and subject matter. But when the decision was in you were ready to go back and do what you set out to do, and that is to represent the people, and that is what those two candidates were in that election campaign for, to put their Party platform forward and to try to represent the people of the constituency of Cape Breton Centre.

I want to use this platform to thank those two people, because Ms. Marsh Deruelle is a family friend of ours and she is a good friend of one of my nieces. Ms. Deruelle was great comfort to my niece when she lost her brother just a year or so ago. Her father, for those of you who may not know, Carl Marsh was probably on of the better athletes to come out of

[Page 1855]

Cape Breton in a long time. He was an extremely good baseball and basketball player and a fine sports cartoonist and a great jazz aficionado. I say this because I think of a lot of us come from areas where we know our opponents personally. We know the family. Nova Scotia isn't that big, so we know the families of our opponents. So we tend to try to not let the campaign get personal.

On the other side, my Tory opponent, John Morrisey, was someone who adopted Cape Breton but, certainly, had the best interest of Cape Breton at heart when he took on the candidacy. His wife was born and raised in the Reserve Mines area and, later on in life, John and his wife moved back to Reserve Mines and he has been involved in the community. To that, was an excellent candidate and, certainly, a fine gentleman during that run and I wish he and his wife well. I would like to say, in a public way, and as I have said before, about thanking those people for making, what is often a difficult time, very easy and enjoyable and I wish both candidates well.

I am not going to get too much into my riding right now, Mr. Speaker, because we are not that far from the moment of interruption, but I would like to say a few things. I just was speaking about Mr. Morrisey and his family coming back and resettling in Reserve Mines. That is a part of my constituency that is interesting because for a small, former mining area, it has a lot of firsts, and not the least of which is that it was the first housing co-op in Canada. It was built in the Tompkinsville area and it reflects the name of Reverend Jimmy Tompkins. This area speaks to what is going on there today, still, the sense of community.

Back in the time when they were building Tompkinsville, the financial wherewithal to go out and purchase your own home was just not going to be a reality. These people had to devise a method of how they could build their own homes. Now up until this time a lot of people who would have lived in any kind of home, or be in a position to own their own home, were usually after purchasing what was referred to as company houses or the old row houses. So they took it upon themselves to form this co-op and to erect these homes.

Now you know, as daunting a task as that could be, because those people were not, by and large, carpenters, they were self-taught tradespeople from the mining community, so, Mr. Speaker, what they had to do was be the first, and then by virtue of being first, had to bring all this together. They did that in a spirit of cooperation that I don't think has been seen to that height ever again. They cleared the roadway, they helped put in their own service, they built their own panels for forms for pouring the concrete work. Everybody certainly knew what this project was all about. This project was about taking yourself that extra step, knowing that you had to rely on yourself and your neighbours to move your lot forward.

Now was that an easy task? No, Mr. Speaker, because I say to you that it is never easy being the first. It is never easy taking a plan from paper to reality. They did that, they took that plan and made it a reality. What that caused was a different form of thinking. I think that is something that I will be getting at today, later on, is the fact is that this is what this

[Page 1856]

government has to do. If it is going to change, it has to do some new thinking. To merely say that the books are in bad shape and we have to slash and burn is just not going to work.

They have to re-think and come up with some new ideas. Don't keep blaming people. Sit down, come up with a new and imaginative way to attack the problem. Don't just say, oh yeah, we have problems with revenue, we will cut programs, we will cut back workers and we will contract work out. I don't think that is the way to go about it, Mr. Speaker. I think the way to go would be to look at the model of what the citizens of Reserve did around Tompkinsville and said, you know there are the true leaders. They are people who saw they had a problem and they found their own solution. I think that is what this government has to do.

I see the hour is getting late, Mr. Speaker, and I am probably going to go for just another minute or so and then I will ask for adjournment. I think that the people in this province want this government to come up with new and imaginative ideas to help them move forward.

Now, as I said, they could take the old route or they could take the new route. I think in his Budget Speech the minister was talking about the road less travelled. Well, maybe sometimes you have to blaze a whole new trail. That is what I am asking this government to do, and maybe they should blaze a whole new trail and look at doing things differently and in a way that helps Nova Scotians and doesn't hurt Nova Scotians. So, Mr. Speaker, with that I am going to take my seat and resume again after the hour of interruption. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: We have reached the moment of interruption. The subject for the late show this evening was submitted by the honourable Leader of the Liberal Party, the honourable member for Cape Breton North. It reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that Tory promises to find $46.5 million through budget reallocation and trimming the fat in health care administration were just promises made to get votes and not promises that they planned to keep.".

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East,

HEALTH - ADMIN.: CUT - UNPLANNED

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I will be pinch-hitting this evening during this late debate on the late show resolution. It is my pleasure to rise in the House and to lead this very important late debate topic this evening. As we are well aware, late debate is an opportunity

[Page 1857]

to discuss issues of vital importance to the people of Nova Scotia, ones that we think as members of this Legislature are of vital importance.

[6:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I can think of no more vital issue than that of holding a Party accountable - it is our job as Opposition - and to hold them accountable to campaign promises that they made to the people of Nova Scotia. There is no question that health care was probably the most important issue during the election campaign. The people of Nova Scotia listened carefully to what the three Parties had to say about the state of health care and how each would deliver the quality of care Nova Scotians deserve.

They listened and they read about the Health Investment Fund, established by the Liberal Party, and how a healthy investment in health care was required. I would underline that, that a healthy investment was required to make the system more efficient. They then listened to the New Democratic Party and their health care plans, but there really weren't any plans beyond hiring a lot of nurses. The New Democratic Party provided no indication as to how they would create a quality health care system that would be there for Nova Scotians to use when they needed it.

Then, heaven forbid, they listened and they supported the Tories. (Interruptions) We shall see. This to me was the saddest part of the entire campaign. How a Party can, in all good conscience, go out and say to the people of Nova Scotia, we have a sensible, practical, affordable and doable health care plan, and guess what, it will only cost $46 million. That is beyond me. It gets even better.

I am sure that the good people of Nova Scotia couldn't believe their ears when they heard the saviour, Premier Hamm, say I can get you this for $46 million by finding savings in administration within the health care system. "People providing front line care and Nova Scotians using the system won't feel any pain because if you elect us as Government, we will fire a bunch of secretaries to fund the system.".

Mr. Speaker, what this government did to get votes is nothing short of deplorable. They led the people of Nova Scotia to believe that there were secretaries that really didn't need to be there. Shame. In other words, he said there was fat in the system and a little trimming of this fat would fix the problems. They played on the one ugly word that people detest most when it comes to government programs and services, and that word is administration.

If only good quality health care was as easy as the Tories made it seem during the election campaign. Well, guess what? If it was that easy, I believe it would have been done a long time ago. However, these now governing Tories decided that getting votes was more important than telling the truth. Who can forget the classic Bruce MacKinnon cartoon, the Chronicle Herald on July 23, 1999, pre-election, showing a grinning John Hamm drinking a

[Page 1858]

glass of hi-fat milk with the caption reading, "got votes?", with the deficit running over? I will table that just for the record.

The problem is, in the case of the health care system, there was no high-fat content to eliminate in order to create a more affordable system. The Tories knew this in July. The Tories knew this last year. The Tories also knew that they wanted to win at all costs. What does a Party without any clue as to how fix this system, the health care system, do during an election campaign? They glazed over the issues by saying, don't worry, have a barbecue, we have just the plan for you and you won't have to pay for it because we can pay for it by achieving savings in administration - that word "administration" - so here we are today, Mr. Speaker, waiting for the great promised plan that will provide quality health care at minimal dollars.

Mr. Speaker, our Liberal Party is still firm in its belief that our health care plan was the best plan for Nova Scotia. I have not changed my opinion on that, nor do I believe I will in the future. Our Health Investment Fund plan was the only plan that said in order for the health care system to gain any efficiencies and curb rising health care costs, a healthy investment was required. As this government quickly found out, and what the people of Nova Scotia will soon find out, is you cannot fund health care and long-term care and alternate methods of health care without doing one of two things: either spending more money; or cutting or gutting - you might say - the acute care system by closing hospitals and disbanding programs.

These, Mr. Speaker, are the challenges that this government will have to face. After all, a promise is a promise. If you are going to fund health care to the tune of $46 million, let's get on with it. We haven't seen that yet. What the system will look like in the end is anyone's guess. We do know that as the Tory plan stands today, there will be more administrative structures as we move from four health regions to nine district health boards. There will be more CEOs and more support staff for CEOs, all contrary to the great election promise. How will they provide all of this for $46 million? That will be the obstacle.

Mr. Speaker, we in the Liberal Party will be watching and we will do what we can to preserve our treasured health care system for the people of Nova Scotia. We will continue to remind the people that we are being truthful, that we were being truthful during the election campaign, and I believe we paid the price for telling the truth, but I think it was important that the people of Nova Scotia hear that, that we had a plan that would fund, that would be a pay-back, and it would not be added to the bottom of the debt forever. There was a plan. It was very much detailed, contrary to public opinion and contrary to perhaps even some of the beliefs of some of our own members, but it was detailed and was spelled out where that money would go, and we are seeing that with the nurses in the last few days.

After all, Nova Scotians deserve to know the truth and they deserve more than the hollow promises for their votes. Today we saw some proposed changes relative to 911. Fees for services, however they may not be a direct fee, but they will be a charge at least to the

[Page 1859]

phones, or whatever, but a charge nonetheless to a system that Nova Scotians have come to rely on and a system that is saving lives, yet we see legislation evolve today that will change some of that structure. Is this the start of user fees and other deterrents to access health care in Nova Scotia?

So we will be watching closely. I believe firmly that we had a plan, that we told the truth. We didn't do a good job, obviously, of selling it, an effective job. I think it was complicated; it was difficult to understand, but I believe strongly that we needed a firm, organized way of putting money into health care, not just putting $200 million or so, as this government has done, into the same old system, but we had plans and phases to change that system.

The first on the list was nurses, because lifestyle issues were addressed. Research into nursing, support, training, was all spelled out, either in the Health Investment Fund or the spaces for 400 nurses, new nursing positions, in the budget. So it was either in the Health Investment Fund or the budget itself, both of which were defeated at the time of the budget. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House tonight to highlight some of the government's efforts to more appropriately and more responsibly fund health services in Nova Scotia. Just before I get into that, I think I have to take issue with something the honourable member for Dartmouth East just talked about and it has to do with going to put money into nurses. If their planning had been any good, and I am not so sure if he was the minister at that time or not, they wouldn't have spent $20 million taking the nurses out of the system if they had done any research, then to look at somebody else and say, we destroyed it, I will give you 30 days to rebuild it. That is exactly the message that is coming from that bunch over there.

We know that we must make wise investments and decisions around health care today if we are to provide a responsive, responsible, outcome-based and efficient health care system for those who will rely on it for years to come. Mr. Speaker, we have to look at the big picture and determine how we can better direct our resources. This is one of the activities that our government is involved in now, trying to get some data from the big picture so that we can best determine how we can direct our resources.

One of the biggest concerns we have, Mr. Speaker, that we have heard from the people in this province, is that there has been inefficient and inappropriate health care delivery, with too great a focus on acute care and not enough emphasis on continuing care services and, also, too little emphasis on health and too much emphasis on health service. Right now, we are working with health administrators and organizations, caregivers, volunteers and communities throughout our great province to respond to the concerns through our

[Page 1860]

assessment of health care facilities. As I have mentioned on a number of occasions in this House, this comprehensive assessment is well under way. This facilities review will help us to determine if Nova Scotians are receiving the right care in the most appropriate facility. If we find that the evidence suggests that they are not, then plan changes can be made.

We know that on any given day, there could be patients in the hospital who could be well treated in an alternative type of care, such as home or in a long-term care facility. What we are trying to do is to get a sense, Mr. Speaker, of how many Nova Scotians are in hospitals waiting to receive home care or placements in a long-term care facility. Of course, everybody knows that the most expensive type of care that we have in this province is acute care delivered by hospitals. If there are people who are being served in that area that can have adequate health care delivered to them in a more cost-effective way, then we should be doing it.

If we can identify and reduce inefficiencies, then we are going to be better able to meet the health care needs of our citizens and, also, to be more responsive to the financial means of the province as a whole. I can assure you that the implementations of the recommendations based on the findings of the review will begin as soon as possible so that patient needs are properly met, while providing more cost-effective service delivery. This is just one example of how we are better planning for current and future health care needs.

Mr. Speaker, we are also in the midst of starting a comprehensive review of mental health services. In particular, the services that are delivered to children and youth in this province. The terms of reference for this study are currently being prepared. In addition, health is included in the government's current program review. We need the information from these reviews so that we can move forward in the right direction. We have to put this province back on the right track and soon.

[6:15 p.m.]

This, Mr. Speaker, is a priority of our government. This is a task that Nova Scotians elected us to do on July 27th. They said that what was there wasn't good enough. They said that the plan, this ill-conceived Health Investment Fund, proposed by the then government, was not what they needed or wanted. They wanted good leadership, as the promises contained in the platform of the Progressive Conservative Party. I am glad to see the members opposite have that. I can say, look, if they had had something comprehensive and detailed, indeed, it may have meant that they wouldn't be vying for Third Party status.

We know, Mr. Speaker, that there will be many tough decisions. It won't be easy. But, at the same time, the steps that we are taking will ensure a sustainable system for tomorrow. With the numerous advancements being achieved in technology and the pharmaceutical sector, we are seeing more and more treatment options. With each new discovery comes new demands and pressures on our limited resources. I know that the members on the opposite

[Page 1861]

side of the House realize this and are very aware of it. We are very pleased with the advancements being made within the health care sector itself, the advances made by research. More than ever, it is a challenge for us to make sure that our resources are allocated in the best interest of all Nova Scotians, and this is a challenge.

Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that we will make our health care decisions carefully and thoughtfully. I think members in the House would have to agree that we have been doing that since we have assumed the reigns of government. For example, we announced that we would be restructuring the health care delivery system in the province, trying to make it more community based and responsive. It is interesting to hear the members opposite as they criticize the government from time to time, but they all recognize that making the health care system responsive to the communities is something that is good for Nova Scotians. Whatever they may criticize us for, they cannot criticize us for that because they know that that is correct.

We will take our direction as we make changes from evidence based information, Mr. Speaker. We will listen, not like this bunch and that bunch. We will listen to health care providers, communities, volunteers and administrators. (Interruptions) It is imperative that we keep the balance between fiscal responsibility and providing services where they are needed. We need a responsive and responsible health care system that Nova Scotians can rely on. That is what we were elected to provide and that is what we are doing. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to participate in this debate on the resolution that says, "Therefore be it resolved that Tory promises to find $46.5 million through budget reallocation and trimming the fat in health care administration were just promises made to get votes and not promises they planned to keep.".

Mr. Speaker, I guess what immediately comes to mind, with respect to this, is that the plans and the pleas and the promises that were put forward by the government members when they were on the campaign trail were clearly, and I have said this before in this House, never meant to be implemented in the way that they are set out in their book. That is a certainty. That is an undeniable fact and we are just seeing the evidence of that as we move through this session of the House. But that was never the goal. That was never the reason for the document called "Strong Leadership . . . . a clear course". The point of that document was . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Curse.

[Page 1862]

MR. DEXTER: Well, there are those who say it is a clear curse, and I understand as we move through that it is also becoming more evident, but I am being generous here. At the time when they put forward the document, they knew that it was not possible to do the things that they said they were going to do in that document, but it wasn't the point, the point was to get past the 27th of July and to get into the seats that they are in now. It is the political equivalent of the quarterback sneak. That is what it is. That is where you snap the ball and everybody is going one way, and they push across the goal line.

That was the whole point of this document. It was never intended to be a plan for the future of health care in this province. All you have to do is ask some questions. You ask the minister, you ask the Premier, ask anybody on those benches over there, any one of those rascals, those guys, and you say, how much are the transition costs? I don't know. How much is it going to cost you to put in place nine new CEOs for the district health authorities? I don't know. Don't know. How much is the overall cost of the contract for the new deputy minister? Can't tell you, don't know, let you know. How much is the health care advocate going to cost and how much is running the office going to cost? Don't know. When are you going to find out? Do you know what the answer is? Soon. Very soon.

Mr. Speaker, the time has come. This has given a whole new meaning to the phrase a conservative guess. The whole health care plan is nothing but a conservative guess. I said earlier, they put out a document about the direction of health care in the future, and what it should have been called was just chaos in the future. There is no plan there. They put in time lines where they expect a budget to come forward without any staff to plan the budget. There is nothing there. They are making it up as they go along.

I mentioned, just as an example, the question of transition costs. I addressed this with the minister, I said, look, how much is it going to cost you just to put in place the structure for the new district health authorities? How much is it going to cost? Don't know. So I drilled a little deeper, I said I will give him another chance, and I explained it to him, I said transition costs are the costs associated with planning, putting in place the budget, putting in place the structure that you are going to need to run the kind of health care system that Nova Scotians want.

In your department, when you are allocating resources, when somebody writes the minister's statement, when somebody drafts that document that was foisted on the Legislature the other day, when you are going through that process, it takes staff resources. It takes resources out of the Department of Health that otherwise would have been dedicated to the administration of the department. Those are transition costs. They have no idea how much it is going to cost. No idea.

[Page 1863]

How much are the new CEOs going to be paid? This is the most fundamental kind of question. You have set out a document that says you are going to have nine district health authorities, surely to goodness you have gone through the mental exercise of figuring out how much you are going to pay those people and what kind of staff you are going to have to put in place in order to administer the health authorities. Do they know the answer? No, they don't know the answer or if they do know it, they refuse to tell Nova Scotians. The one thing that is absolutely certain is it is going to take a heck of a lot more money to administer nine district health authorities than it took to run four regional boards. That is just a reality. We know it and they know it.

Mr. Speaker, where is that money going to come from? We know one place it is going to come from, we know one place where they are going to start to recoup money, and that became abundantly obvious to all of us today when they tabled the 911 Emergency Services Act. What that Act does is put in place a legislative regime whereby the Minister of Health can levy a tax on the 911 service. What they do is they put a charge on all of the telephones in Nova Scotia that goes toward defraying the cost of the 911 service. That money is already allocated for in the budget. So if they raised the money to pay for the service then the money they are paying out now they can then use it for other aspects of the health care system.

Make no mistake, Nova Scotians are not fooled, they know a tax when they see it and this is a tax. This is the third tax this government has brought in, in the 78 days it has been in government. That is astounding for a group of people who ran - they didn't actually say, read my lips, no new taxes, but they got as close to that as they could possibly get on every single day of the campaign.

Now I do remember in the 1998 campaign, when the clarion call of the now Premier was, make the rich pay. Do you remember that? I remember them saying that and I have to say, when I woke up and saw it on the front page of The Halifax Chronicle-Herald I was a bit taken back. I didn't realize they were so enlightened in their thinking that they were going to institute some kind of progressive tax system, but I was at least pleased to see that they understood that progressive tax systems are at least one way to raise revenue for the government.

So, Mr. Speaker, they don't know anything about the transition costs, they don't know anything about how much the nine CEOs are going to cost, they know but they won't release the details of the contract for the new deputy minister. Now we have said it is around $300,000 and they say we are wrong. Well, you know, I will say the same thing that the new deputy minister said, show me the money. That is obviously what the new deputy minister said when he was negotiating his contract and they were certainly willing to come up with the money at that time. So now they should table the documents and tell everybody in this province just exactly how much it is going to cost to install the new deputy minister in his place.

[Page 1864]

If we are wrong, if it is less, let us know what is the figure. Is it $250,000? $275,000? Surely to goodness the people of Nova Scotia have the right to know what it is they are going to pay for the new deputy minister.

Now I don't know who was involved in the negotiations but surely they would have put the contract in place before they made the announcement. This is what confounds me because we know, and we have said this before, that under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act they can table the contracts of civil servants. It is not a secret, it is not supposed to be a secret. You are supposed to tender those documents so that we can have a look at them because that is our job. Our job is to provide you with good advice.

We try hard over here, it is not an easy job, I have to tell you. As I said today, with this government the hits just keep on coming. I honestly believe that they don't have any feet left to shoot off, they have been doing it so often.

Mr. Speaker, just among the other costs that they have not anticipated, they don't know how much the wage settlement for the paramedics is going to cost them in the end because they have sent it to arbitration. We disagreed with that bill but we understand it. They have to have in mind a figure so they know that all of these costs that they haven't either anticipated or don't understand or don't know, are going to come home to roost. It is going to be the taxpayers of Nova Scotia who are going to pay for it. It is not going to come to $56.5 million as they say, and ultimately we are all going to be worse off for it. Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak this evening. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thanks for the members taking part in this interesting discussion this evening.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I can get the concurrence of the House to return to the order of business, Presenting Report of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

[Page 1865]

Bill No. 1 - Gemstone Emblem Act.

Bill No. 14 - Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Bill No. 15 - Public Prosecutions Act.

Bill No. 16 - Provincial Mineral Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Chairman on the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 12 - Mineral Resources Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

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

[6:30 p.m.]

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, before I took my seat before adjournment, I was talking about the ingenuity of the people from the Reserve area. It is interesting because the Reserve-Dominion area of my riding is closely associated with the residents of the adjoining riding of Cape Breton East. Last week, I believe it was the member for Cape Breton East who brought it up that elementary school kids in Glace Bay recently held a skip-a-thon to raise money for the food bank. There is a simple lesson to be learned here, and a simple

[Page 1866]

lesson for all members of this Legislature hidden in this simple act, if they are willing to listen. I ask the members of this Tory Government to turn their minds to these 5 year old and 12 year old children for a minute. Take time out of your busy schedule of contemplating $2 million deals with Scotiabank, put down your pens and think about these elementary school children in the Town of Glace Bay.

Mr. Speaker, these aren't just any elementary school children. These children are very special indeed, because they are the youth in one of the hardest-hit communities in Nova Scotia; indeed, one of the hardest-hit communities in this country. They live in a community whose challenge is far greater than any debt or deficit facing this Tory Government or its Liberal predecessor; far greater. The challenge facing these children is far greater than the challenges the important men and women opposite speak about every day in the news; far greater. I think every one here should know that.

They are starting their lives in a community abandoned by the federal government, who is taking away their town's main employer, the coal mines; they are starting their lives in a community abandoned by their provincial government, who is going to shut down the Winter Works Program and appears to be bent on shutting down the nearby steel mill that employs 750 people.

Now these children, Mr. Speaker, I am sure, do not yet understand the subtle nuances and the nasty calculated nature of the divisive politics employed by this Tory Government. I am sure they are not yet aware the Tory Party used the nearby steel plant to raise the anger and scorn against their community as a way to win votes. Maybe they aren't even aware the Tory Government took money from a charity fund that would have provided cash to food banks across this province, but these young children were aware that the local food bank, a last resort for those facing desperate times in a community facing desperate times, was in need of help. These children helped. Shame, shame. Despite the troubles facing them at such a young age, and despite the challenges - challenges, as I say, far greater than anything this government faces - these young people lent a helping hand to others. An example, I believe, that this government could learn and should learn quickly.

At 5 years, 6 years, or 12 years old, these children accepted their responsibility to help the disadvantaged, as this government should. Despite their young age, they understood they had a duty to help others and they lived up to that duty, a duty this government should learn. That is the very lesson I spoke of earlier, the lesson children have for you, for this Tory Government. If you care to listen, then listen well. You have a clear understanding of divisive politics and how it works, how you employ it, but have no understanding whatsoever of your responsibility to the disadvantaged. Let the children of Glace Bay and area shame this government into accepting its responsibility on behalf of all Nova Scotians, and I say that, Mr. Speaker, because children without future or without hope leads us to a province without future and without hope.

[Page 1867]

AN HON. MEMBER: You are hiding behind children.

MR. CORBETT: We are not hiding behind children, Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Agriculture said, and that is shameful for him to even say that. I used that as a parable, if you will, to show the desperate needs. I challenge that minister to go into those communities and look at the unemployment rate and challenge his government to do something substantive for my riding and indeed all of industrial Cape Breton, to do something substantive I say to help the economy down there. Cold comfort for him to sit over there and say we hide behind children. Children shall lead them and that is what is happening now. I hope that that government will take the advice of those children and be led.

Mr. Speaker, I mentioned the connection between the areas of Reserve, Dominion and Glace Bay and indeed the Town of New Waterford. All these areas, what they have in common is that they are being challenged today because they were part of heavy industry, an industry that appears to be dying or at worst appears not to have any support from either the federal or provincial governments. There will be a legacy left here. There will be a legacy left to the environment, whatever happens. That is a challenge to this government and it is a challenge, again, that this government feels unwilling to answer.

These people do not want a handout, they want a hand up. Mr. Speaker, we are talking about people, and I refer back to my earlier comments about the people of Tompkinsville who went and moved forward. Yet this government does not appear to want to help the people of industrial Cape Breton to move forward. They are more in tune to believe in the sense of depopulation. Get them out of there and then they are not our problem. I, for one, do not believe in that. I, for one, see a future in what is referred to as industrial Cape Breton. I, for one, see that there are opportunities to be seized and that this government, instead of taking its regressive policies of slash and burn, should be going with build and grow, but they do not want to do that.

No, Mr. Speaker, you know, in my own hometown of New Waterford, there was disaster there back in the early 1970's when there was a fire in No. 12 Colliery. That colliery was closed and it saw the deaths of two individuals. One, poor soul, is still entombed in that mine. So what the people did after they lost that industry, the people of that community got together and turned that area into what is now called Colliery Lands Park. A unique feature of Colliery Lands Park is a monument. On that monument bears the name of every individual who was killed in the mines in the New Waterford area, every individual.

What is even a more telling story, Mr. Speaker, is above that monument is a list of over 30 flags from all over the world of people who came to the little Town of New Waterford to seek a better life. They came there and they worked as immigrants. Do you know what? While those people may have lost their lives in mining the coal, their families stayed there. In those days it was not uncommon for mining families to be large. I come from a family of 15 and I know what it is all about. So you would have oftentimes in growing up, families without

[Page 1868]

two parents and not because of today's situation, but more because of workplace injuries and then indeed the ultimate injury - death. These people stayed and took roots in that community and they provided not only then for New Waterford, that their families expanded and they went into other parts of industrial Cape Breton, other parts of this province, other parts of this country and, indeed, other parts of the world again. So that is the type of opportunity that people are looking for all over again. Are we going to hang up on them when they call 911 for our economic help? Are we going to charge them a user fee, so to speak, when they call the proverbial 911 when we ask them for a new economy?

I think, Mr. Speaker, that what we should be doing is looking for a new way to move the economy. Yet government does not seem willing to want to get into that new way of moving the economy. They want to take a total hands-off and that is it, see you later, no more from us. That is not going to work because people are not going to listen to this stuff any more. People where I come from, it is not their fault that there were millions of dollars and indeed billions of dollars wasted on political cronies rather than helping the root of the problem. It is not their fault, and it is time that governments own up to that, they have to respect the workers in that area and help them grow the economy.

We do not know in 53 days where the Sydney steel plant will be, 53 days from today is December 31st. Where is that steel plant going to be? Is that too much for the people of industrial Cape Breton to know? I do not think so, Mr. Speaker. I think that this government tells us we have a plan, we have a course. Well, then tell us what the course is. Give the people some hope. To say you have a vision and keep it in your back pocket is useless. What you have to do is bring the people along, trust the people, and they will trust you. Is that too much to ask? I think not.

I have just said a few words about Sysco because this government, they are willing to say a whole lot of nasty things about Sysco, but what they are not willing to do is talk about the days it was recklessly managed by R.B. Cameron and Associates and then willy-nilly shipped very profit-making components of that to their friends elsewhere. That is a slice of history that this government does not want to talk about. They just want to talk about close Sysco, open hospital beds. That does not work and they should be ashamed of that.

A member over there just recently said you are hiding behind children and yet they have the unmitigated gall to put that postcard out during a general election. It is reprehensible, is what it is, Mr. Speaker. What about those steelworkers?

AN HON. MEMBER: They have children.

MR. CORBETT: And do you know what, when those steelworkers come here to complain and if they take their children, that is what the government will say - you are hiding behind your children. They are telling people in Cape Breton you have no guts. I will tell you what, Mr. Speaker, that intestinal fortitude will come through when this government tries to

[Page 1869]

put its Harris economic agenda on Cape Breton Island because they are not going to put up with it. I am telling this government you are on notice and beware because people from Cape Breton are not going to put up with that crap. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, I have been asked to be interrupted for an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton East on an introduction.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I would like the members to help me in welcoming in the west gallery tonight two very well-known residents, and often outspoken residents of Glace Bay as well, Mr. Malcolm MacIntyre and Mr. Jose Pimentel. (Applause)

[6:45 p.m.]

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I wish I had noticed them first, because I would have stolen the honourable member's thunder, but I'll tell you, there are two guys, when we talk about intestinal fortitude, up there. You want to talk to miners - no children with them, they are not hiding anybody - I invite the members opposite to go and speak to them because they are bright, articulate workers who worked for Devco and can certainly tell you what is going on in there, in a very truthful way. (Applause)

What I want to wrap up about Sysco is the fact that this government owes those workers, that industry, the Regional Municipality of Cape Breton more than 53 more days and we will let you know. I think they owe everybody some straight answers. You just can't abandon them in their time of need and you just can't walk away. God knows your friends made enough money off it. It is time that the steelworkers made some money off it.

Now I would like to turn my focus to the Devco employees' situation because it is a situation that grows worse by the day. I know I am not allowed to refer to the gallery, but a member just introduced Malcolm MacIntyre. Malcolm is an outspoken critic of what is going on with the central shops. Now for those of you who don't know, the central shops is an area that does, or the neatest way to put it, most of the industrial repairs to the equipment for the Cape Breton Development Corporation.

It seems like a good idea to keep that. It seems like you could branch out and do other things with that. Yet, for some unforeseen reason, that is one of the first things we put on the chopping block. It makes no sense to me. It seems like you could make a dollar or two off of that. (Interruption) No, and I think it makes no sense to Malcolm MacIntyre. If my friends across the way have a few minutes out of their busy schedules tonight, maybe they should go up and talk to him. I am sure Malcolm could tell them much better than I could of the viability of the central shops and its future and the future of the industrial area.

[Page 1870]

We all know that the federal government is not going to stay in the coal industry. We would be fooling ourselves if we were to say that. But what you have to worry about is the type of fire sale they are setting themselves up for. Just recently, the federal government put forward what is referred to as the Devco Bill in the House, to do amendments to the old Cape Breton Development Corporation Act. Now what really strikes fear in a lot of people here, Mr. Speaker, is, even if Devco is not sold, this bill gives the federal government the right to abandon the workers, which is wrong. The bill, as contemplated originally by the workforce, was to help mediate a sale, not to punish the workers. But, lo and behold, the federal government decides no, that is not how we want to do it. We want to put the workers at a disadvantage. Wrong again.

Let's look at other aspects of the Devco sale. Now they are talking about selling their mines. They are closing Phalen. They will sell Prince Mine and they will also sell the assets of Donkin. Our hope is that those will be sold in a package. What happens here, Mr. Speaker, is that there are many other land holdings that Devco owns. A fear among mining companies is the fact that while you are buying into the existing mines, what if someone else comes in the back door and buys the leases and starts getting involved with strip mining? Now I am buying into a package that is much more expensive to mine coal, but someone else can come in the back door and buy the coal leases for the area and do strip mining.

What kind of stamp does the government have to stop that? Well, they don't. They have not thought beyond getting rid of the mines and have, again, not seriously given consideration to the economics of the area after they are out of coal mining, they just want to get out at any cost. That does not bode well for the workers at the Cape Breton Development Corporation. I think we have a role to play here as the owners of that resource, and I was greatly disappointed to hear the Premier say, about a week ago, that he wouldn't use those as a bargaining chip. That grieves me so, because I think it is one of the few things we had going for us and I think we could have used them to our advantage.

We do have, off the shores of Cape Breton, the possibilities of great wealth with natural gas deposits. But again, governments have failed, because now we are blocked into a fight with the Newfoundland Government over those resources. Instead of being the leader, we are the follower again. That seems to be, in the last half of this century, a hallmark of governments when they deal with the economy of Cape Breton. They would rather be followers than leaders.

I think most Nova Scotians, most Cape Bretoners would be happy for the day that governments of this sort quit intruding upon their lives, but they are at such a disadvantage that they need this help, they need this hand-up. What do we give them when the economy is down, do we say well, look, one of the positive things we can do here as a government is we will make sure that you are one of the first areas in this province to get natural gas? No, I don't think so. We are going to wait six to seven years before we get it. We not only are not going to help your economy right away, what we are going to do is hinder it. We are going

[Page 1871]

to say that other parts of the province, while they are enjoying the benefits of natural gas, you have to wait six to seven years. Your industry is going to have to wait.

I say to the industries in this province that will be able to access natural gas sooner than later, good for you, bravo. But part and parcel of any distribution of that vital natural resource that we owned should have been, all areas get it at the same time; you have to do it. (Interruptions) It would make Sysco's sale a lot brighter, I will tell you. It would indeed make all of the economy much brighter. We do things like we get rid of Sydport. We sell it for a song; ECBC decided to sell it which will basically be when offshore energy does come ashore, that it will be hindered because we don't own that piece of real estate that would make it economically viable and advantageous for us there.

Mr. Speaker, there are many problems facing the economy of Cape Breton. I will tell you they will only be compounded if this government goes through with its positioning on the economy and its inability or unwillingness to help the people of Cape Breton. They have to realize where they are in their economic life. It is not an area they are moving fast with, and they have done nothing to help the regional municipality in its forced amalgamation. It was a plan derived by Donald Cameron and consummated by John Savage.

It has not helped industrial Cape Breton. I think most people would think that amalgamation should have been a good idea, but because of lack of proper planning and financial aid it is more of a disaster than any kind of panacea. So, Mr. Speaker, I don't plan on speaking for my full hour. As a matter of fact, I am going to sit down shortly because I have very few things left to say, and wise men speak because they have something to say; fools speak because they have to say something. On that note, I will sit down.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Thank you for the opportunity to speak on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I want to start by saying what an honour it has been to represent Dartmouth East for 15 years now I think it was, the other Saturday, and recognize the dedicated group behind all of the members who serve in this Legislature, who for 35 or 40 days in their election campaign really do have a busy time and a commitment from their families and their other schedules.

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate you on your elected office, and you are serving, I don't mind saying, not being partisan at all, but I think with distinction, the fairness you have shown this session, that you have extended to us, I want to say thank you very much.

Mr. Speaker, I have gone through various phases of development in this culture within the British parliamentary system, our House of Assembly. I entered in Opposition in 1984 and then, in 1993 to this year, served in government and then now in Opposition again, so I feel that I have been in training for this job all my political life. Perhaps I have learned a bit from

[Page 1872]

the medical community, the health care community and some of the other areas where politics is just as serious and probably even not as fair as the politics of this particular Legislature, which I have grown very fond of, and I feel very privileged to stand here this evening.

It has been a year or two since I have used the opportunity to speak in the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. In mentioning my term in government, I was very pleased to have been involved for three years with Community Services, the issues of child protection, the rights of children, the ethical issues surrounding independent living of disabled persons, and those types of initiatives. We spoke of the adoption legislation that is being amended this time, and I commend the government for this initiative. I just hope that all members understand what they are doing. I think that is important because it is very sensitive and delicate, as the minister himself said, and legislation that needs to be done in a compassionate and sensitive way, with support services there. It is another step in open adoption and people seeking to find their birthright and who they are and where they came from.

[7:00 p.m.]

Following that, Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to spend a year in Housing and Municipal Affairs. I really enjoyed that part of it as well. I think I learned a lot I think about Nova Scotia and local government during that time. I met with almost all, except two perhaps, of the municipal units in the province on their home turf and I was very appreciative of that.

The nine months I spent as the Minister of Justice, I felt very privileged, perhaps more privileged than any other time. The courtesies extended to me by the judiciary, the police, the RCMP, the local police and others, was a most enjoyable time, I really enjoyed that. There were decisions that were there that I took very seriously, various situations relative to the Public Prosecution Service and Corrections. We even had a strike during that time and I hope I did not contribute too much to that, but at least it was a short strike. The choice of correction facilities for forensics and those types of issues were ones that we dealt with, but as important are the issues of the programs within Justice.

Most people think of Justice as public prosecution and those other services, but there are many programs, restorative justice, alternative sentencing, those types of initiatives that are very strong programs that need our support. I think it is much like Community Services, it is part that programs have been inherited there, but they are not as high profile perhaps as some of the others.

I just wanted to make a few comments about the Department of Health and then share some thoughts regarding my constituency of Dartmouth East. During the last year we did propose a $600 million Health Investment Fund that would be paid back over 16 years. So there was a plan to have an injection of money into the system that we felt the health care

[Page 1873]

system needed, but it was done in an orderly way with a lot of detail and thought put into that Health Investment Fund. We felt there had to be a strategic investment made into the health care system to level it off and to get a handle on the rising costs. We had a chance to debate some of this during late debate so I will not repeat some of those initiatives under that program. I am sure people, if they were not here, were able to watch it on television and hung on our every word, so I will not go over that ground again.

But we are addressing the Speech from the Throne and the issue of nurses, 100, or equivalent, as to whatever that meant, I am not sure. That has sort of gone by the board now. The Nurses' Union has come out publicly and expressed their concerns, Mr. Speaker, about the nursing shortage that still lacks a plan. During the Speech from the Throne this government also promised a rebate for nurses if they stay in Nova Scotia. It will still be very competitive and there have to be full-time positions made available and that is what the nursing profession is looking for because other jurisdictions will offer tuitions and that is nothing really too innovative.

There are also the rebates promised to medical students if they stay in particular areas in rural communities. Rural communities have faired fairly well under some of the programs of the previous government. In fact, it may well be the urban communities that are really suffering from the shortage of physicians at this time. But, here again, a plan is needed for that because there will always be a perceived shortage of physicians until we get the issue of primary care solved, particularly specialist waiting times, as we know, are not bad in this province relative to others, but the primary care - and I was pleased to see the legislation that came in today that would allow nurse practitioners, particularly, to have prescribing privileges and those types of initiatives.

To really do that, to have a pilot project - the four pilot projects - and move on from there, because the primary care issue, again, is an administrative issue and part of that is the use of nurse practitioners. I think this can be done with the full cooperation of the Medical Society if it is done properly. So we have the tuition and the rebate and I think while many will think that is commendable, it is not going to really address the real issue of the team approach to health care delivery, particularly in small towns and rural communities which is really what it is about now and physicians are not prepared to put in the long hours that they did when we started practice back, even as late as the 1960's and 1970's.

Mr. Speaker, this government talks about eliminating the regional health board structure and they have moved to that, but that is really not advice they received from the Task Force on Regionalization. In fact, they have eliminated them, I believe, quicker than they intended to, but at least it has been done. Without having the other pieces in place, this has really left a lot of people wondering about their jobs, wondering about what their structure will look like, wondering how costly it will be, what the cost would be of the CEOs and the administrative staff in the nine district boards.

[Page 1874]

Again, we see disruption within that system, moving from one system to another without the final structure being in place first. That is why the Health Investment Fund was done, so you could set up one system and not repeat what had been done before, closing hospitals without really a good home care program. The Health Investment Fund had provided for that and we see now that lack of direction.

This government is looking into things, Mr. Speaker. The reports now, again, are being shelved, as they have done in the past. The Task Force on Regionalization is an example of that. Here is a task force that this government wanted and when the time came to act on its recommendations, it didn't jibe with their ideas and the report was scrapped as insignificant. I haven't discussed this with the people that served on that committee, but I am sure they are disturbed by that. We are looking at what will actually replace the regional boards and, with less than 1 million people, we cannot afford to go back, in my opinion, into the more bureaucratic structures with everything being directed from Halifax. I think they have moved the community health boards in most areas, except for the eastern part of the province where they are becoming well organized. They need to be recognized legitimately, through legislation. We recognize that, but we cannot afford to go back to the bureaucratic structures.

This government made a huge issue of honouring the commitment to the nursing advisor positions in the Department of Health. This was, again, mentioned today in Question Period. I hate to disappoint the minister and the Premier, but this position existed prior to the government taking power. We know that, but let's get on with it and get it done anyway. As I say, at least they adopted that idea.

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that health care is an issue in the constituency of Dartmouth East that I represent, the same as other areas. They are very pleased to see our government's commitment to the expansion of the emergency department, as well as the expansion of the cardiac services in the Dartmouth General Hospital. There was support needed in that service. Many of the residents are working hard at the hospital foundation to fund-raise for these expansions. Like many volunteers who work so hard throughout the province to fund-raise for hospital equipment and expansions, they deserve our thanks and our support for the hard work on behalf of all the residents.

Residents of my constituency were equally pleased to see that the Liberal Government was moving forward in designating the Dartmouth General Hospital as a regional hospital. In fact, it had been functioning as a regional hospital and the designation, I think, made that complete. They are now concerned about the status of all plans for the Dartmouth General Hospital, Mr. Speaker; they wonder whether the decision to centralize decision making in downtown Halifax will, in fact, affect the Dartmouth General Hospital.

Mr. Speaker, on a daily basis, I hear from constituents about the issues of the day. They call to comment on the actions of the government and they call to offer suggestions on how to make things better in the Province of Nova Scotia. I think that is not exceptional. I am sure

[Page 1875]

all 52 members here do receive those types of calls. Probably one of the biggest concerns that I hear about this Throne Speech, other than a lack of any direction, is how the government plans to study everything. Everything is under review and how they plan to set up task forces and commissions to study everything.

The same people, Mr. Speaker, are saying, I thought this government had a plan. They had six years in Opposition. I thought they had a plan. I can't blame these people for making that observation. They all heard the government had a plan. They were disappointed when they heard the Throne Speech, obviously, the very framework under which this government is going to operate. This was filled with a plan to appoint people to look at things, and even a revisiting, perhaps, the old way of appointments to agencies, boards and commissions for committees friendly to the government; maybe they will start out being a bit representative of the community, but sooner or later they will become friends of the government. I hope this is not a way to bypass the Human Resources Committee, that at least added some legitimacy to the process.

Mr. Speaker, the appointment of a red tape commissioner is an example that illustrates that very point. I must say that it is rather ironic that a government would appoint a bureaucratic person to look at the bureaucracy of government. Something seems to be flawed in that logic. Perhaps it is just that I don't understand. A further example of bureaucratic layers to the system is the creation of the Energy Council. We already have a group of people who are monitoring the oil and gas industry in Nova Scotia. We don't need another layer of management.

One of the issues I heard the greatest number of comments on was the separation of Tourism from the Department of Economic Development. Many people commented that they couldn't see the logic of it. They felt that the tourism industry had and will continue to have a significant benefit to the economy of Nova Scotia, and that merging Tourism with Economic Development made perfect sense in 1993. What they can't understand is why a government so determined to reduce administration, a cornerstone of their campaign platform, would increase the bureaucracy of government by creating a separate department; that really seems to be incongruent.

One of the many issues that people commented on during the course of the election is the P3 construction process for building schools in Nova Scotia and there continues to be much debate and discussion on that issue. The people in my constituency agreed with this process. I found little opposition. They agreed that new schools needed to be built. They also agreed that the financial resources that were available back in the 1980's had long since dried up. We are still paying for schools from years and years ago. We needed schools but we didn't have the money to build them. They felt that the P3 process was the best process, given the requirements and the resources available; maybe not ideal but the best way to realize schools. We need them in our community.

[Page 1876]

If there was one part of the Throne Speech that concerned the constituents of Dartmouth East the most, it was the idea of creating a new and flexible work environment for civil servants. Because Dartmouth East is an urban riding, this commitment of this government is of great concern. They wonder whether options to improve their family lives means that they will no longer have to report to work. You might translate that literally. That certainly would have a mixed effect on family life. They didn't know what that meant. They wonder whether the intention of government is to make whatever programs are being developed voluntary or will we all have to participate, will they able to choose or will they be dictated to.

As I indicated earlier, I have had the good fortune of representing the constituents of Dartmouth East for 15 years. I may be biased but I happen to think it is one of the best, if not the best riding in this province. I had the opportunity to practice medicine for 29, going into my 30th year. In travelling to other parts of Canada, various meetings, College of Family Physicians, the Canadian Medical Association or whatever, I never lost an opportunity to tell them that I thought I had the opportunity to practice medicine in what was one of the best communities in Canada. It was a growing community when I went there on June 1, 1964, at the Woodlawn Medical Clinic. It was then that I saw the children grow, the trees grow - and they have a mature community now - a community that was extremely interested in education, minor sports, and today that remains.

Particularly in those days, a lot of people had come out of the Second World War from the Navy or Air Force, particularly in that community, and they wanted their families to do better, and they did do better; they worked hard. That was the privilege that I had, to share those growing years with that community. There is a particular sense of community in Dartmouth East, there is in Dartmouth, particularly, and Dartmouth East is unique. I always say I think I can spot the people from Woodlawn community in the shopping centres, they are a particular type of person. I mean that as a compliment.

[7:15 p.m.]

The role of churches has changed over time, Mr. Speaker. Woodlawn United Church, St. Thomas More, Port Wallace United Church, St. Luke's, Stevens Road Baptist Church, St. Andrews and others. Their role has changed dramatically. Food banks and those types of initiatives, breakfast programs for children for the Boys and Girls Club. Stevens Road Baptist Church supports the Breakfast Program for the Boys and Girls Club and are participants in the program. Not only do they offer their facilities, they provide from day one all the volunteers to make that program a reality. The same people I see in the swimming pools running events are there in the mornings. I want to thank particularly Pastor Don Crouse for his leadership and dedication in building this program in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club from the ground up.

[Page 1877]

St. Thomas More Church had their fall fair last weekend. Their role in organizing the Maritime Old Time Fiddle Contest, one of the greatest tourist attractions in Nova Scotia, that this year was added to by Fiddles of the World. Those kinds of interests brought a lot of people into our community. The proceeds from this event are donated to local charities and, goodness knows, they need more of our support as time goes on, rather than the withdrawing of those particular commitments. The Port Wallace United Church, particularly, the new structure has added to the beauty of Waverley Road. The building committee of this church worked for many years to see the new Port Wallace United Church become a reality and I want to compliment them for their efforts and the outcome of the addition to that community.

Mr. Speaker, one of the greatest interdenominational programs that I had the pleasure of being involved with was the support that all churches in the constituency of Dartmouth East provided for the Filipino sailors. The last family has just joined them, I think, within the last week or so and we all know from the media and maybe personal experience as well, the history of those people who were held in this country by our federal government to act as witnesses in a very serious allegation of crime. They have now, for their personal safety and that of their families, made Canada their home, and Nova Scotia, and some of them in my riding, and they have added to our community greatly.

I would like to pay tribute particularly to Rev. Flemming Holm, who some people in this assembly might know, and Jane Cushing. They worked extremely hard in support of the sailors. When they started, I was asked to join them and I sat in many times. Sometimes I missed meetings because of other commitments, but I really didn't see that they would be able to do that. It really showed the network of the church internationally, that people in the Philippines, churches of various denominations worked together. Flemming Holm is a retired United Church pastor, as many would know.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is way too much noise in the Chamber. I would ask the members to take their conversations outside please. Thank you.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for that because this is an important point I want to make, how maybe my faith failed me at that time and I didn't think this small group would be able to do what they did here. Four sailors who were detained in this country. Their families were in the Philippines, but through the fund-raising and lobbying they did in a positive way for those families and through the connection of the international church, I was really quite surprised that it could work so effectively with governments that were very sensitive to the issue that they didn't want to be embarrassed by this. Yet it was a political and very sensitive legal issue of international law. But I want to pay tribute to the local committee and their group that aided the Filipinos, but also the international church community.

They organized fund-raising events locally, information sessions and made presentations to various levels of government on the sailors' behalf. Mr. Speaker, these individuals, along with the support of churches throughout the Halifax-Dartmouth area, reunited the sailors with

[Page 1878]

their families right here in Nova Scotia and one family in Dartmouth East. I am proud to welcome that family into our community.

In the schools, Mr. Speaker, I mentioned earlier the P3 and how the important issue of the Michael Wallace Elementary School that needs additions and improvements and perhaps even a new school but there is real need right in our community for this program.

The Ian Forsyth School has developed an elementary schools innovative programming to deal with a culturally diverse school population, under the direction of the principal, Don Matheson, who has had great experience in administration and also has returned as a principal and brought his knowledge from administration and has done a great job with his staff in the Dartmouth East community in the Ian Forsyth School.

Caledonia Junior High School - great efforts on naturalization programs that have greatly improved their school grounds and that we have been able to support; Ellenvale Junior High School and Admiral Westphal Junior High - the great advances they have made in computer technology improvements for their students; and the Ecole du Carrefour, which is more than a school but a resource centre for our francophone community. Prince Andrew school - it was mentioned today in a resolution regarding the grounds and the new auditorium, the new infrastructure program that has had some hiccups but now, I am assured, will be addressed by the regional school board which I met with representatives both from administration and elected school board members last week in my constituency. I am pleased to say that I am informed that that project for the Prince Andrew High School auditorium is back on track and will be addressed by the regional board, and I really want to thank them for that.

The elementary schools, such as the Mary Lawson School in Brookhouse and the Michael Wallace School that I mentioned earlier, are integral parts of our community and groups that I want to thank for their courtesies they have extended to me, whether it is Christmas with Santa breakfast or a school play, those types of initiatives that I have been able to keep contact with over the years and I want to thank them for that.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention one of my favourite organizations, the East Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club and the challenge they are facing for a new facility and the servicing under very difficult challenges, over 400 children per week. They are in need of a new facility and we are looking forward to some assistance there. That is a group I have been involved with since my early days, when I was looking for a community group to be involved with; a social worker friend of mine said that he felt that the boys and girls club programs were second to none across this country. I really appreciated his advice. He died the other year at the age of 64, Ed Newell.

[Page 1879]

That was the only organization, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps I should have been involved with more but that is the only organization I have been involved with, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada. I served on the national board and I have been involved in the regional board and I continue with my relationship with the East Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club, as well as being an ordinary member of the regional board. So I really want to say how whatever community anyone has, whether it is more affluent than some others or not, it is just not for low income. Every community can benefit from a Boys and Girls Club. I thank the other members for voicing their support for that.

I feel very strongly about this. I think it is a model that has been developed, more than 100 clubs across this country, and I think the model is there. It has been proven and every community can benefit from this type of program.

The East Dartmouth Community Association has been involved in developing a new community garden in my area of high density apartment living, a community that has very few supports but yet is still labouring after years of development of that community and has needs of recreation and resources to support families, particularly single-parent families in that community. They got together and with some small support developed a community garden in the Churchill Court area.

The East Dartmouth Community Association has been very active this last year. The East Dartmouth Community Association was one of the many organizations in the east Dartmouth community that heard that the profits from the Sydney casino would not be available and they were very disappointed by that. I think that is an issue that is not going to go away very quickly.

I did want to mention the amalgamation and the change and I mentioned the community spirit that is so strong in the Dartmouth East community. The member for Dartmouth South spoke so well and I want to compliment him on his knowledge and his depth of commitment to his community. I think the Speech from the Throne gives us an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to speak of that.

I think the issue of the amalgamation of the Halifax Regional Municipality - and we can talk about it forever, that it was done in the wrong way, it was done too quickly, it was jammed together, - is very interesting, the critics of that particular initiative, to me, where many of them still remain so negative on this issue, were ones that were the problem areas.

I think of the waste management and we heard of almost $2 million deficit and garbage or waste, I should speak in terms of waste, not garbage, basically it is our own waste, but it is still being shipped out to Queens County. Others had been shipped out to Cumberland County earlier but, Mr. Speaker, in my opinion, that is because the Metropolitan Authority, there was some semblance of some organization between the municipal units was just non-

[Page 1880]

functional and the people who were involved in that were allowing that to continue and are still being so critical.

I think it is a real area, and I think the elected people can show some leadership on this. Whether it is now, or in 10 years, or 20 years, to compete in the global market, the Halifax metro community had to be one unit. It has to be in the times ahead. So we may as well get on with it and show some leadership. Again, if we are timid politicians, then we will listen to people and they will say we know that game; everybody sits around and wrings their hands and says, goodness, isn't it awful. But as far as I am concerned there are changes and, again, it is like the regional health boards. Everything that happens in health care did not happen as the result of the regional health boards and the same with this sort of issue. I speak of waste management. Had that been dealt with properly earlier, then we would not have this issue of sending our waste off to Cumberland County or Queens County.

I am very amazed at the amount of roadwork and paving that is done throughout my constituency. Some of it is infrastructure, but other is being done with the municipal unit. The police force, I think in order to have a sophisticated police force that will serve one-third of the population of Nova Scotia, it has to be sophisticated and have some training and programs and that cannot be done at the local level. I do not think there is any option there. I would think we see with fire as well. Those are the big issues that I have seen.

I think as long as we have the MicMac Amateur Aquatic Club, Senobe and Banook and those types of programs and facilities in our community, the spirit of Dartmouth will be alive and well. But what we saw with the bridge coming in in the 1950's and those initiatives, we had a very comfortable downtown area in Dartmouth and the issue that I spoke about, that is going into the Woodlawn community to practice medicine in 1964, it was a time of change, and dramatic change. There are those who would still like to think of it as an old-time downtown but many of those people now have passed on, deceased. They were leaders. So we are seeing new leadership and you are seeing the focus of your communities change. We are seeing Montebello as being a very dynamic group of people, very professional. Many people have come in who are francophone, to be at the Carrefour.

The power structures within a community and the influence does change, so to say that we like the comfortable downtown around Sullivan's Pond and those particular areas, I think it is important that that remains a strong part of our heritage and is treated well. I know the member for Dartmouth South is concerned about how that area is developed and I want to wish him well because he knows that community better than I. Dartmouth now, the geographic centre, is probably closer to the Penhorn area or at least in what we used to call the K-Mart community and out where my constituency office is on Tacoma Drive.

Times have changed and I think it will depend on how the institutions that I have tried to address, some of the issues regarding the boat clubs, the churches, the schools and the strength of those communities will determine the community. There is pride but it is changing

[Page 1881]

and I think the politicians have to be risk takers and support initiatives that are involved with change. No longer will we have less than 10,000 people in Dartmouth being the sole people who are really the main influence. It is a broader issue now and I think, as a politician, sure, there could have been things that could have been done better in the amalgamation, but I try to support it, it is a fact, it has happened and let's get on with it and let's have it work.

[7:30 p.m.]

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, would the honourable member for Dartmouth East entertain a question?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just remind the member that you have to be in your own seat, please.

MR. OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the member for Dartmouth East. You mentioned the role was changing for downtown Dartmouth. I wonder, could you assist me in giving me your interpretation or definition of what you see is the new role for downtown Dartmouth, since you understand that the core is moving towards Penhorn and that area? I would be interested to know that.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member because I know he is serious in this matter and we have discussed this before. Regardless of what area I would represent, regardless if it is Cole Harbour or what, I would support, very strongly, a good, viable downtown core. I think that has suffered because I think Burnside has done very well and I think it has detracted from it. I think we need anchors downtown, because I think every community needs a core downtown. We have tradition there, we have the Starr Manufacturing and the canals. We probably need a hotel downtown, and we need tourists coming across on the ferry.

My area is essentially a residential area. I do not see moving the administrative parts of a town, other than community policing perhaps, or community outreach programs or that type. We need a strong downtown. I think the initiative of the downtown development community has been strong, but I think it can be stronger. We have Alderney Place there, where the member spoke the other night, quite eloquently I might say, after a beautiful play, Saltwater Moon.

Those are the types of things, that anchor, that will keep people coming to Dartmouth. So many times I have heard people say that they are going to go out to eat and they find themselves on the bridge going to Halifax before they stop to make the decision, but we have restaurants now like La Perla and Alderney and all the other ones, so I think there is development in the core. We need people living downtown, and I think Alderney Place has done some of that.

[Page 1882]

Regardless of the almost all residential area that I represent - and I would like it to stay that way, I think that is fine - we need some local shops and that. I don't know if this answers the question, but I really feel we need a strong downtown core and that will be viable, but I am saying that where the people come from, the decision makers and the opinion leaders will come from all of the community, but the core administrative, I think, should be downtown, and that would be my answer to the question.

I wanted to say about the community college, and the Community Colleges Act that we have had and the changing role of the Akerley Campus, how it has really adapted to the offshore, the various training, and young people who have gone through university degrees, they are coming back, or others who have gone through the GED and moved into the programs there. The YMCA has moved into that area, as well, with some social programs.

The new development with Tacoma Place, or the centre, as I guess it is called now - my mother used to call it the Kmark. She would go out to the Kmark, but her arthur-itis was bothering her. I never could get her to pronounce those two right, but, so be it, to her it was always the Kmark - the new Canadian Tire Centre there. Shubie Park has been a hallmark and a very positive initiative. I think the identity of the community of Dartmouth East is influenced greatly by Shubie Park and it has really been, truly, one of the great improvements, I think, in our Dartmouth community, particularly in Dartmouth East.

The paddling and the rowing and the Marathon 2000 next year in the marathon canoeing has built on the credibility that has been established by Canoe 97, when the world came for the paddling championships and saw what a great facility the community of Dartmouth has built around the lakes. I think that has been an ideal development.

In drawing to the latter stages of my comments, I am concerned that the Premier doesn't seem to know what sort of a government he wants to lead. He spoke in terms of strong leadership during the election campaign, but just doesn't seem to be able to deliver that strong leadership. I feel the Throne Speech delivered by His Honour and accompanied by Her Honour, Mrs. Kinley, was well delivered but I felt that it was rhetoric, it was smaller, leaner government, but yet he is proposing more government, more bureaucracy and more red tape, as I mentioned earlier. I think the speech is filled with contradictions. I am going to touch on a few of those.

I think it has been difficult for this government to make difficult decisions. It is in government. It is easier to slip and slide. The speech makes several references to keeping the commitments they made during the campaign. Their commitments were vague in the campaign. Many times they had no dollar amounts and no details, particularly on health care. We still don't know where this government is headed, and they clearly don't know themselves.

[Page 1883]

The Throne Speech, as mentioned, I feel is a very contradictory document. A line on one page contradicts something on another. There is certainly no lack of new committees, commissions, councils, advocates and advisors to fill an entire new department. On Page 1 it states, the government cannot and should not attempt to be all things to all people. This comes from the Party that made a whopping 243 promises during the election. It is fiscally and realistically impossible for the Tories to keep all of those promises, even though they have tried, obviously, during these last few weeks.

Page 4 says that the government will establish the position of a nursing policy advisor. Not only is this more of a type of administration that he said he was going to cut, the Leader said he was going to cut, it is a position that already exists. We created that role, and they have copied that and taken credit for it. They are welcome to that because it is there. We held our breath because they were going to do all these cuts there.

On Page 6, they are going to establish an Energy Council to monitor development of the industry and make sure all Nova Scotians benefit from offshore resources - another expensive redundant level of red tape. Government already has a Petroleum Directorate to administer the petroleum industry.

Page 7, establish a committee to explore with Cape Breton communities their vision of the economic future. This is a duplication of work already done by the Cape Breton Economic Development Authority.

Page 5, the Tories plan to hire a red tape commissioner to free the business environment of unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles. They plan to do this by hiring a bureaucrat. Under the Liberals, at least there was an ongoing process to eliminate some red tape. Page 5 again, government should not try to direct or control the natural economic growth of the province, it stated. On Page 6, they state, government must capitalize on new industries and economic enablers such as information technology, biomedical research and oil and gas.

The Throne Speech also states how government must step in to help the people of industrial Cape Breton. This is contradictory. Should government get involved in economic development or not? Look at their record to date, taking from charities and giving to corporations.

Page 4, our commitment to provide 100 full-time nurses or the equivalent within six months of assuming office will be met. What is a nurse equivalent, we all said. Also, when are we going to see these actual 100 full-time nurses that the commitment was made for in the Throne Speech. We see them taking credit for nurses that the western and northern regions particularly have recruited, but no definitive action on full-time nurses creating those positions.

[Page 1884]

Page 8, "Nova Scotians know that government can't invent jobs; nor do loans and grants often buy jobs of lasting value". The Tories contradicted this point several times already with more money for Britex, Scotiabank, Rainbow Farms, et cetera. Page 8, Tories will move forward on a long-term remediation plan for declining heavy industries. Does this mean that the government has already put the lock on the door at Sysco?

If the closure of Sysco was the centrepiece of their election campaign to win seats here in metro, which it seemed to be, and in the rest of the mainland, how come Sysco is not even mentioned in the Throne Speech? When you put a human face on the children and the men and women impacted by the closure of the mines and the closure of Sysco, one realizes that the tragedy needs to be addressed. It is so easy to be up here in Halifax metro and talk about the closure of Sysco, like just get rid of the whole thing. If it had been easy, it would have been done before. I think to play parts of the province against the others, as done in the election and then not even to mention that in the Throne Speech, after creating the problem, aggravating the problem through pitting one part of the province against the other, Mr. Speaker, gives me concern and why I want to speak on that issue tonight.

On Page 9, Tories will review school board boundaries. This is obviously a precursor to setting up more school boards, is it perhaps? These are more levels of bureaucracy again, like we are seeing in the regional health boards.

On Page 12, Tories will give performance rewards for senior bureaucrats. Does this mean that senior executives will be rewarded for firing frontline civil servants, or will they be rewarded for shaving money off the paycheques of the frontline workers?

On Page 13, promised and delivered a smaller Cabinet - that is until one minister was shamed into resigning and was replaced by a new minister and also created another department, the Department of Tourism and Culture. Stay posted for other changes, I have written in here.

There barely was a mention of the fisheries, Mr. Speaker, and one of the most important traditional industries in this province, an area that I came from, Port Mouton that was impacted greatly by the closure of the fish plant at one time. That has been resurrected through Sylvain D'Eon and his family and I want to pay tribute to that because other than representing Dartmouth East, I would like to think that I like to help the honourable member for Queens County on occasion. I worked with the previous minister and member, Mr. Leefe, and I want to wish him well but also to make a little pitch this evening for Port Mouton because the tragedy that you saw, seriously - we are making a little light of this, but to see the tragedy - when Clearwater bought that firm and pulled the licences and closed the plant, to see 200 people in that community out of work was a tragedy.

[Page 1885]

I had watched those people during the last several decades climb from abject poverty. We were so poor that we didn't know we were poor and people down the road were poorer than us. It was only later that I returned and I realized how poor we actually had been, but it was a gentle poorness, I would say, through the early days at the tail-end of the Depression and through the war years. To see the money taken out of that community and the students starting to go through university and many of them going through university at my time going through, one of the first to go and it has been a struggle, but to see that drop back suddenly by the loss of those jobs and the informal day care that was being shared in that community. So it is a vulnerability and it is an issue that we have to address, Mr. Speaker, the one of the fisheries and the plight of coastal communities such as Port Mouton and other communities.

I feel I have taken enough time of the House. There are some random thoughts; I apologize for maybe not having it put together as I had other years or should have done, but I just want to say how proud I am to be a member of this Legislature. I think the member for Kings North when he spoke for this House and he mentioned going door-to-door and the concern of politicians; I just want to close my comments on echoing some of the things that he said that it must be a concern. It is an issue that we can't take lightly.

I have worked in several jobs. I have worked on fish boats and I have worked in pulp mills and in construction work. I have worked in banks and I worked in the health care community and I have worked in politics. I must say, Mr. Speaker, and I want to say here on the record, that people I have shared either my caucus or even, yes, almost all across the floor, at any occasion I really feel honoured and privileged. They are people who are working long hours and I have never had a regular 9 to 5 job, so I wouldn't know what it is like, so I feel very comfortable in this environment where the days are not predictable. If you think you are going to have a quiet day just wait, because 15 minutes later, something will change. There will be changes to 911, like happened today, and that is quite exciting.

[7:45 p.m.]

So even though I started in Opposition and have had the real privilege to serve under a couple of Leaders and really enjoyed that time, and now am back in Opposition, I find that I can still get excited. I have a great appreciation for this place. I like coming to work every day when I come here. I enjoy my colleagues even though we do have our differences in philosophies. I believe, this is one of the best bargains that people will get, and I only wish that young people - older people are entitled to their opinions - I really realize will not turn off on politics. I truly am concerned that good people will look away from politics as a career.

Most of us in professional life have taken a major financial hit. Our families have been sacrificed and they have paid their price. I don't mean to dwell on that. If I don't like it, I can always leave, but I really want to say that it has been a pleasure to work with colleagues on all sides of the House and I really feel we must work hard to gain respect. I think the media has a large part to do with the negative image of politicians, because if they knew them and

[Page 1886]

put a human face on them and got to know the people, they would know they mean well, they work hard and they are certainly not overpaid. I have been very privileged to be a member of this House and I expect to be back for another reply to the Throne Speech, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to have a few minutes before adjournment to start my response to the Speech from the Throne and to start off with a little bit about my riding and about some of the concerns facing my riding and some of the issues that are outstanding in that area. I would also talk a little bit about the Throne Speech itself, - and I can remember my Throne Speech when it was the Liberal Government the last time introducing it - and I had the privilege of being able to respond to that, and at that time was talking about the issues of vision and leadership. Maybe, we have a different government across the way and maybe they look at things a little differently with regard to vision, but I will have a few words to say about whether or not it is the appropriate vision for what Nova Scotia needs going into the new millennium.

I want to talk first about my riding. Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage is on the outskirts of Dartmouth, the old City of Dartmouth, I guess now part of the Halifax Regional Municipality. It includes what I consider five communities starting with South Woodside, Imperoil, as it is sometimes called, Shearwater, Eastern Passage, Cow Bay and the south part of Cole Harbour, which I share with my colleague to the right of me, the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. (Interruption) South Cole Harbour is the part physically to the right, yes, not philosophically to the right. Yes, thank you.

So, it is one of the larger ridings in the province and it is a diverse riding, Mr. Speaker, given the fact that it is a suburban riding. You see basically three or four different communities within one particular riding. You have what I would consider middle to upper middle class communities in Colby Village; you have very much a working class community in Woodside, in Eastern Passage and Shearwater; and in Cow Bay you have what I would consider a rural or an ex-urban community, one in which the people have a very different outlook based on where they live and why they live there. I will get into that shortly.

I want to talk about some of the changes that have occurred in my community and are ongoing since the last time I had a chance to respond to the Speech from the Throne, Mr. Speaker. Starting with Cow Bay, the community where I actually live, (Interruption) downtown Cow Bay, you will find what is sometimes known as the Moose. It is a large concrete moose overlooking the Cow Bay. It used to be part of what was Silver Sands Beach, a famous beach resort area back in the 1950's, until it was, unfortunately, mined of its sand back in the early 1960's for some industrial projects. I think a lot of people in Metro go there for a casual Sunday drive, particularly in the summer or in the spring. It is a fairly well known landmark in my community, obviously, but I think, throughout Halifax and Dartmouth, you

[Page 1887]

sometimes see it in advertising. It is falling into disrepair a bit. It is fairly old. It is at least 30 or 40 years old. I am not sure of the exact age, but, Mr. Speaker, it is a moose that does need some reworking. There is a community activist group there, which is really trying to raise money to help. First of all, to buy the land where the moose is and, also, to put some money into restoring it and I wish them the best of luck.

I think the other part that must be remembered about Cow Bay is that within a 25 minute drive of this building in downtown Halifax, you have a community that is almost totally rural, which is a unique thing, considering some of the distances with all the sort of urban sprawl going on, Mr. Speaker, to have a community that close. There may be only a few others and maybe the member for Halifax Atlantic, the Leader of the New Democratic Party, may have some of similar vein, being that close to the city. But there are very few communities left that you can say are under a 30 minute drive that you can have a beautiful view of the ocean, large sprawling rural scenery and, also, an opportunity to have a good lifestyle.

There has been a lot of work done by the community to try and maintain it, to preserve it, to prevent a lot of urban sprawl going into that community and people must be commended for that work because it is important that we be able to maintain that. It is a unique community and I am glad to live there and I am glad to have an opportunity to help maintain it as it is.

In Eastern Passage, Mr. Speaker, I guess education is, by far, the biggest issue. This year, there have been two new schools created, the Eastern Passage Learning Centre, a P3 school, which I will leave for further debate, maybe some other day, but it is a beautiful school, very high tech. I had a chance to go through it with Gary Walker, the Principal. Actually, I had an opportunity to see that there is someone there that, when I was at the old junior high school in Eastern Passage, there was a Principal by the name of Doug Creamer, who has now come back to teach. He took a year off from being a vice-principal, I think, at Graham Creighton Junior High, to actually go back and teach for one year, which I think is commendable. It is something that I think refreshes the administration in a way that I would hope that a lot of administrators in our schools may take that opportunity and I commend him for that.

On one side, it is quite a striking juxtaposition, because, at one place, we have this learning centre, which is state-of-the-art, 21st Century, a beautiful building and then, on the other hand, Mr. Speaker, what we have is the old junior high that has been converted into a senior elementary, which has no library or no playground. The children are playing in the driveway because there are not enough facilities. It is a real dilemma. I just want to put on the record that when we are investing in schools, there must be equity in it. Not only within a particular school, but also within the actual community. What we have, I think, is a situation where children in Grade 5 and Grade 6 that go to the senior elementary are being deprived of a lot of facilities, while the children in Grade 7 and Grade 9 are being provided with the top

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facilities. I don't begrudge those children being provided with the top facilities, but we must ensure that those at the senior elementary level are also being provided with the basic needs to ensure that they have the ability to learn to the best of their ability.

I want to talk a bit about Woodside, again, another community. I had an opportunity yesterday to meet with Anne Marie Sarto, who I found out is the daughter of Condo Sarto, the city councillor. She is the principal at South Woodside Elementary School. I had a great talk with her. I have been to that school before. It is a great community. It is where the Imperial Oil refinery is, for those who may not know exactly where it is. I know the member for Cape Breton Centre has, in his caucus office, a beautiful drawing of that part of my riding. That, particularly, is an area with a great community spirit, a mix of some old families, the Osbornes, the Naugles and a few other families that have resided in that area for a long period of time when it used to be part of the old county and, also, some new families that come and go and try and plant roots.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say for the record that, obviously, with the Kyoto Accord coming, there is a lot of concern about the future of the Imperial Oil refinery. It is a major employer in this province. I would like to think that Imperial Oil would remain a viable employer in this province, even within the framework of Kyoto and what that might mean in the next 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, or 20 years if we can find ways to ensure that that refinery is still a viable refinery in Nova Scotia and for Atlantic Canada.

I also would like to say that having been to a full-service school, as it is called, I think, one in which you have child care, day care, a junior kindergarten or a 4-Plus Program. You have the regular elementary school and then you have adult programming. I saw it at St. Patrick's-Alexandra School in downtown Halifax. South Woodside Elementary School is a school that could use a lot of those same services. If anyone in the Department of Education or in the school board has an opportunity to go there and see the needs of the students there, the special needs, this would be an opportunity to observe what can be done with early childhood intervention and with an opportunity to really make a difference in a community.

I know that there have been some schools identified in the Halifax Regional Municipality as special needs schools. I think the South Woodside Elementary School should be one of those and I would hope over the next few months I will have an opportunity to dialogue, as some members would like to say, with some of the ministers and hoping that we might be able to do that.

Just to wrap up before the adjournment, Mr. Speaker, talking a bit about Cole Harbour, since I was elected in 1998, I think there are a couple of things on a positive note. I will talk about some of the concerns the residents may have raised during the election, but on a positive note, we have the recognition of the Cole Harbour Meeting House at Long Hill in Cole Harbour, a beautiful building which I intend to use on a regular basis for receptions. I think anyone who lives in that area should take an opportunity to take a look at it. It was built

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back, I think, around 1820 or 1830 and it is a great building, a beautiful view, and anyone who has an opportunity to go and visit it, I would encourage it.

Just a stone's throw away is the Cole Harbour Heritage Park which is an old piece of land that used to be used as the poor farm for the old Halifax County and, Mr. Speaker, it is a great park. There are some concerns about how it should be used and, hopefully, they can be ironed out, but it is a great urban park that can be used by a lot of people in this area. I would hope that it is something, now that it has been recognized as a park, that will continue to be used as such and will be greatly appreciated over time.

Mr. Speaker, I see that the hour of adjournment is drawing near so I would move adjournment of the debate on the Speech from the Throne at this point in time.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow being Wednesday, the Liberal Party House Leader would perhaps advise the House of his intentions for tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal Party House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the House will sit from the hour of 11:00 a.m. until the completion of Question Period tomorrow and we will not be calling any Opposition Business following Question Period.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: I certainly agree with that, Mr. Speaker. I move we adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn until tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned.

[The House rose at 8:00 p.m.]

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NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 563

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas November 11, 1999 will be the last Remembrance Day of the 20th Century; and

Whereas to help secure peace for future generations, 116,000 brave young men and women gave their lives to defend our freedom and way of life; and

Whereas the Royal Canadian Legion is asking all Canadians to observe a two minute silence at 11:00 a.m. on November 11th with the two minutes of silence beginning in Newfoundland and sweeping across the country like a wave as the clock strikes 11 in each time zone;

Therefore be it resolved that this House proclaim its support for the two minute wave of silence encouraging the citizens of Nova Scotia to participate in the two minute wave of silence wherever practicality and safety permit.