Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Wed., Nov. 17, 1999

First Session

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Tourism - Industry: Performance (1999) - Encouraging,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 2150
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 648, Tourism - TIANS Awards: Natalie MacMaster et al. -
Winners Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 2154
Vote - Affirmative 2154
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 26, Hepatitis C Compensation Act, Mr. D. Dexter 2154
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 649, Aboriginal Affs. - Marshall Decision Recognize -
Mi'kmaq Consult, Mr. Robert Chisholm 2155
Res. 650, Educ. - Dr. Moses M. Coady Debating Tournament 1999
(St. FX Univ.): Success - Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 2155
Vote - Affirmative 2156
Res. 651, Econ. Dev. - Hants Ventures Inc. (Windsor Telework):
Share Offering - Congrats., Hon. R. Russell 2156
Vote - Affirmative 2157
Res. 652, Econ. Dev. - Interest Groups: Comments
(Metro Hfx. CoC-Premier) - Congrats., Mr. J. Holm 2157
Res. 653, Lbr. - Glace Bay Vol. Fire Dept.: Robert Wilson -
Heroism Congrats., Mr. D. Wilson 2158
Vote - Affirmative 2158
Res. 654, EMO - Emergency Serv. (911) Fees: Vol. Planning Task Force -
Input Encourage, Mr. T. Olive 2158
Res. 655, Women, Status of - Advisory Council: Members Retired -
Contributions Acknowledge, Ms. E. O'Connell 2159
Vote - Affirmative 2160
Res. 656, Youth - Guysborough: Reality Check 99 - Organizers Congrats.,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 2160
Vote - Affirmative 2160
Res. 657, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Kings Co. Transit Authority: Efforts -
Recognize, Mr. D. Morse 2161
Vote - Affirmative 2161
Res. 658, Fin. - Budget (2000-2001): Civil Service Cuts - Equality
Variance Remind (Premier), Mr. D. Dexter 2161
Res. 659, Commun. Serv. - Pictou Co. Christmas Fund: Gratitude -
Extend, Mrs. M. Baillie 2162
Vote - Affirmative 2163
Res. 660, Sports - Football (N.S. PeeWee Champs.):
Truro Bluebombers - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 2163
Vote - Affirmative 2163
Res. 661, Nat. Res. - Sackville Heritage Park: Winner
(Nat'l. Comp.-Texas) - Congrats., Mr. B. Barnet 2164
Vote - Affirmative 2164
Res. 662, Culture - Royal Winnipeg Ballet School: Lindsay Bendell
(Gaetz Brook) - Acceptance Congrats., Mr. W. Dooks 2164
Vote - Affirmative 2165
Res. 663, Exco: Code of Conduct - Produce/Backbenchers (PC) Include,
Mr. H. Epstein 2165
Res. 664, Sports - Cross Country (JHS Champs. [N.S.]):
S. Queens JHS Boys & Girls - Success Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 2166
Vote - Affirmative 2166
Res. 665, Cdn. Forces (434 Sq. 14 Wing Greenwood) - SOS Children's
Village (Margaretville): Assist. - Thank, Mr. F. Chipman 2166
Vote - Affirmative 2167
Res. 666, Educ. - Shel. Commun. Col.: Sound Tech. Prog. -
Terry Pulliam (Instructor) Congrats., Mr C. O'Donnell 2167
Vote - Affirmative 2168
Res. 667, DND - Servicemen (Persian Gulf War): Disabilities -
Redress Support, Mr. D. Morse 2168
Vote - Affirmative 2168
Res. 668, Tourism - Haddon Hall (Chester): Recognition
(Cdn. Country Inns Mag.) - Congrats., Hon. J. Chataway 2169
Vote - Affirmative 2169
Res. 669, Health - Queens Family Resource Ctr.: Prog. (Just for Girls) -
Importance Acknowledge, Mr. K. Morash 2169
Vote - Affirmative 2170
Res. 670, Culture - Guys. Co.: E.L.A.S.T.I.C. Initiative - Congrats.,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 2170
Vote - Affirmative 2171
Res. 671, Lbr. - Musquodoboit Hbr. Vol. Fire Dept. (Firefighter 1999):
Jacqueline Hubley - Congrats., Mr. W. Dooks 2171
Vote - Affirmative 2171
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 265, Justice - Abuse Allegations: Report (IIU) - Release,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 2172
No. 266, Health - Care: Facilities Review - Report Release,
Mr. R. MacLellan 2174
No. 267, Justice - Abuse Allegations: Public Inquiry - Institute,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 2175
No. 268, Health - Dart. Gen. Hosp.: Surgical Unit - Retention Assure,
Dr. J. Smith 2177
No. 269, Justice - Abuse Allegations: Public Inquiry - Appoint,
Mr. H. Epstein 2179
No. 270, Econ. Dev. - Shearwater: Purchase - Meeting (Premier-Ottawa)
Date, Mr. R. MacLellan 2180
No. 271, Health: Dart. Gen. Hosp. - Review, Mr. D. Dexter 2181
No. 272, Health - Dep. Min.: Document - Additional, Mr. R. MacLellan 2182
No. 273, Petroleum Directorate - Sable Gas: Distribution - Costs Monitor,
Mr. J. Holm 2183
No. 274, Petroleum Directorate: Gas Distribution - URB Decision,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2184
No. 275, Educ.: Gas Distribution Systems - Training,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2186
No. 276, Health - MSVU (Mother Berchman's Ctr.): Long-Term
Care Beds - Commit, Mr. R. MacLellan 2187
No. 277, Petroleum Directorate - Nat. Gas: Benefits - Maximize,
Mr. J. Holm 2188
No. 278, Justice - Jail (Yarmouth): Replacement - Priority Confirm,
Mr. M. Samson 2190
No. 279, Petroleum Directorate - Sable Gas: Sempra - Hiring (N.S.),
Mr. J. Holm 2191
No. 280, Yarmouth MLA - Conflict of Interest, Mr. D. Wilson 2192
No. 281, Petroleum Directorate - Sable Gas: Sempra - Hiring (N.S.),
Mr. F. Corbett 2193
No. 282, Environ. - Protection: Promises - Fulfil, Mr. M. Samson 2195
No. 283, Aboriginal Affs.: Marshall Decision - Implement,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 2196
No. 284, Human Res. - Budget (2000-2001): Civil Service Cuts - Role,
Mr. D. Wilson 2198
No. 285, Agric. - Apples (Anna. Valley): Storage - Ensure,
Mr. John MacDonell 2199
No. 286, Econ. Dev. - Dept.: Direction - Reveal,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2200
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 454, Health - Hepatitis C: Promises Meaningless - Cease,
Mr. D. Dexter 2202
Mr. D. Dexter 2202
Hon. J. Muir 2005
Dr. J. Smith 2207
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2211
Mr. B. Barnet 2214
Res. 594, Devco - Sale: Bill C-11 - Delay Demand, Mr. F. Corbett 2215
Mr. Robert Chisholm 2215
Hon. E. Fage 2218
Mr. D. Wilson 2221
Mr. F. Corbett 2225
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Baker 2228
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Baker 2229
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Gov't. (N.S.) - Steps (3 Mths.): Positive - Recognize:
Mr. B. Barnet 2230
Mr. K. Deveaux 2233
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Nov. 18th at 12:00 p.m. 2236

[Page 2149]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 1999

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for the late debate this evening was submitted by the honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank. It reads:

Therefore be it resolved that members recognize positive steps taken in this government's first three months in office.

That 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

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Tourism.

2149

[Page 2150]

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I have some great news to share about the tourism sector. Yesterday I had the pleasure of joining with the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia President Eric Mullen and the Nova Scotia Tourism Partnership Council Chairman Doug Fawthrop to announce the industry's performance in 1999.

It has been a spectacular year for tourism in Nova Scotia. The figures are so encouraging, it is hard to know where to begin. For starters, revenues are up 16 per cent while visitation has climbed 15 per cent. That growth is not only the highest in Atlantic Canada, it is the highest anywhere in Canada. In dollar terms, the industry grew to $1.27 billion. More people than ever are discovering Nova Scotia. They are choosing Nova Scotia as a destination because we are working together to bring them here and make them welcome.

Congratulations are very much in order and so are thank yous. On behalf of the province, thanks to all who have made this industry into the success that is so clearly demonstrated today. Our government has said that an intensive, sustained effort to promote tourism in Nova Scotia will benefit our economy many times over.

We have reinforced our commitment to this industry by setting up a new department and establishing a separate budget to ensure the province maximizes the benefits tourism can bring and the benefits are big. This year's $1.27 billion in revenues translates into jobs for some 36,000 Nova Scotians with an estimated payroll of $500 million. It also means $120 million in provincial and municipal revenues, revenues that help pay for essential government programs.

Tourism also brings export dollars into the provincial economy with more than half of overall tourism revenues representing new money moving into Nova Scotia's economy. A strong tourism sector also encourages Nova Scotians to vacation at home, keeping their dollars working here.

Mr. Speaker, our new department has already made progress on a number of government priorities including working with the Tourism Partnership Council on a plan to build on Nova Scotia's reputation as a year-round world-class tourism destination. Partnerships are critical if we are to continue improving visitor experiences and increasing our marketing power.

When it comes to partnerships, I would particularly like to acknowledge the efforts of organizations like the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia and regional tourism and sector associations for bring operators together to help grow tourism in Nova Scotia. I would also like to thank Doug Fawthrop and members of the Tourism Partnership Council, whose activities have been extremely effective in contributing to the growth of this key economic sector.

[Page 2151]

Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank the thousands of tourism operators throughout the province, as well as all the Nova Scotians whose actions have given us a reputation for world-class hospitality. (Applause) These are the people who make our visitors feel at home and make them want to come back. We certainly have a strong base on which to build. We are a strong competitor in terms of the visitor experiences we offer. We have an excellent reputation. We have a high level of repeat visitation and we offer the types of experiences today's travellers are seeking: history, the outdoors, seacoasts, culture and friendly people.

Mr. Speaker, our tourism strengths and the spirit of partnership will serve Nova Scotians well as we work together to realize tourism's potential for the benefit of all Nova Scotians. Thank you. (Extended Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I do think congratulations are in order, but I can't say that they should be properly directed to this government. It is indeed true that tourism has increased in Nova Scotia and that tourism revenue has increased in Nova Scotia, but one has to wonder just what possible role this government could have played in this increased tourism in Nova Scotia. It makes me wonder what exactly the Tourism Minister has been doing since he has been appointed Tourism Minister, apart from patting himself on the back for the fine work of the tourism operators and the businesses of this province.

When we look at the Speech from the Throne, my recollection is that this government had promised to improve infrastructure for the tourism industry and I have heard nothing about this. It makes me wonder, when we look at the condition of Highway No. 104, for example, in Cape Breton and the Margaree Bridge, whether the minister hasn't just been fiddling while Cape Breton burns. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, one more point before I take my seat. It might be worth noting that a large part of our tourist revenue has come about because of the low Canadian dollar and that the money made just about offsets the interest we have to pay on our foreign debt. The government members can applaud all they want and I hope they are applauding for the tourism operators and the people in this province who have done good work, because I can't imagine what their possible contribution has been to this. Riding, I say, on the coat-tails of the previous minister perhaps. (Applause) I hope that their commitments to the infrastructure that will put Cape Breton back into some kind of competitive position for tourism gets done. There is plenty more to do on this subject. (Applause)

[Page 2152]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, first I want to say to the minister that he has done something right, we got the notice of this statement on time. I do appreciate that very much. It is a bit of an anomaly now to get one on time. I want to first congratulate TIANS for their tremendous work and leadership and Judith Cabrita and the members of their team for being a very aggressive and assertive group in promoting tourism in the Province of Nova Scotia. The partnership council that the minister referred to in talks about how positive that initiative has been and how many strides forward that that particular group has made, I would like to congratulate them and congratulate the previous minister who worked very hard in bringing that council together. For that, this province has been better off. (Applause)

I want to congratulate the thousands of operators around the province and the some 36,600 people involved in tourism for putting forward a very positive image of the Province of Nova Scotia to the tourists who come and visit. Last but not least, and it is something that this administration doesn't seem to want to acknowledge and that is the staff within the Department of Tourism and Culture. That is the staff that has been working there for years, they have spent a tremendous amount of energy promoting the Province of Nova Scotia and they deserve recognition. The staff deserves recognition, not the minister over there, but the staff who has worked for years building tourism in the Province of Nova Scotia deserve the recognition.

We have seen a 16 per cent increase. The comment was made earlier, while we have a new Minister of Tourism and Culture, that is his only portfolio, that is the only job he has, to look after tourism in the Province of Nova Scotia, and yet we haven't seen him do a great deal in the last 80-some days since they have been in government. Yet he is quick to jump on his feet to take glory for the past work and almost make it seem like it is their administrative benefit here.

AN HON. MEMBER: Shame, shame.

MR. DOWNE: I think that is shameful. Last weekend, there was a meeting in Cape Breton and the Leader of the Liberal Party and three or four members or all the members of the caucus from Cape Breton were there talking about economic opportunity for Cape Breton. We had the Leader of the New Democratic Party and a couple of members from their caucus there talking about economic importance and what can be done in tourism. But the minister responsible for Cape Breton, the minister responsible for Tourism in the Province of Nova Scotia, wasn't there, in fact, there wasn't one member over there that was there talking about economic opportunity. That minister over there should start taking a look at himself and realizing that he has a tremendous job to do in building on the foundation of the Liberal Administration over the last six years and the work of the staff in the industry in building tourism in the Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

[Page 2153]

[2:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I am still talking here.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the member refers to the Economic Development meeting. In fact, I was at the Economic Development meeting in Port Hawkesbury, where neither one of the other Parties was at that meeting. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The point raised by the member was not a point of order.

Order, please.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. What I want to say is, nor did I see him when I was in New Waterford, and I doubt very much if the member for Cape Breton East saw him when he was in Glace Bay.

MR. SPEAKER: If the honourable member for Lunenburg West could finish his statement, please. I hope.

MR. DOWNE: Yes. The reality is, on that point of order that you ruled out of order, and the meeting in Antigonish, the MLAs and MPs were not invited to that particular meeting and that is why they were not there, Mr. Speaker. The bottom line here is I have heard the Minister of Economic Development talk about the need to grow the economy and the need to increase his budget, but I have not heard the Minister of Tourism and Culture say one thing about where his budget is going to be in the future of the Province of Nova Scotia, and I know that the tourism operators are watching exactly what this minister is going to do in developing a long-term strategy and the economics to go with it, to make sure that tourism continues to grow in the Province of Nova Scotia.

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

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the rest of the members of the Legislature, it gives me great pleasure to welcome 30 Grade 12 students, the OPP students, from Westville High School. They are accompanied today by their instructor, Bruce Moore, his wife, Nancy, and also Dave Watling. I must mention that Bruce and Nancy are friends of our Health Minister, James Muir, and they also reside in Truro. I ask the House to give them a big hand. (Applause)

[Page 2154]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Tourism.

RESOLUTION NO. 648

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

Whereas last night the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia held its annual tourism awards gala as part of the 22nd Annual Tourism Conference and Trade Show; and

Whereas 11 individuals or organizations received awards for excellence in the tourism industry, including Cape Breton's own Natalie MacMaster receiving the Ambassador Award; and

Whereas the Ambassador Award recognizes an individual or organization whose activities have made a major impact on tourism and culture in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House join me in congratulating Natalie MacMaster, as well as all the award winners, and thanking the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia for recognizing excellence in the tourism industry.

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 26 - Entitled an Act to Guarantee Equality of Treatment for All Sufferers of Hepatitis C. (Mr. Darrell Dexter)

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

[Page 2155]

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 649

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

Whereas today the Supreme Court of Canada denied an application for a rehearing of Donald Marshall's acquittal on charges of illegal fishing; and

Whereas the Supreme Court used the opportunity to reaffirm its decision that Mi'kmaq treaty rights exist and that those rights are subject to reasonable regulation conducted in consultation with the Mi'kmaq chiefs and communities; and

Whereas it is time to get on with addressing Mi'kmaq rights in a spirit of reconciliation and reason;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognizes and accepts the Supreme Court's clear direction that the Mi'kmaq are entitled to be consulted by the province on regulatory limits to their treaty and Aboriginal rights and that those limits must be reasonable within the principles laid down by the court.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 650

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

Whereas the annual Dr. Moses M. Coady Debating Competition took place this past weekend at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish; and

[Page 2156]

Whereas the team from St. Pat's High School in Halifax took top honours among the 20 teams that participated with second and third places going to teams from King's-Edgehill School in Windsor; and

Whereas Jason McNeil of Glace Bay High was the top debater, followed by Shingirai Kanhukamwe of King's-Edgehill, I hope I pronounced it right, and Zach Abrahams of St. Pat's;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extends congratulations to the successful team from St. Pat's; Jason McNeil, the top debater; and all students and volunteers who made this annual event so successful.

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

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 Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 651

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

Whereas Hants Ventures Incorporated is a Community Economic Development Investment Fund that will soon be offering shares in a Windsor area telework enterprise; and

Whereas less than 2 per cent of the $600 million annually invested by Nova Scotians into RRSPs are being put back into province's economy; and

Whereas Community Economic Development Investment Funds are designed for profit ventures in the operation and/or investment in local businesses;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House offer congratulations to members of Hants Ventures Incorporated as they prepare to begin offering shares in their telework enterprise operation.

[Page 2157]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 652

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

Whereas the immortal bard gave us "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet"; and

Whereas yesterday in this House the Premier was asked the difference between a big interest group and a special interest group; and

Whereas the Premier must have sparked rosy cheeks in the Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce when he responded by calling them a big interest group as opposed to a special interest group;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Premier on assuring this rose by any other name that all its dealings with his government will come up roses.

I request waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

[Page 2158]

RESOLUTION NO. 653

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

Whereas last year firefighter Robert Wilson, a 23 year veteran with the Glace Bay Volunteer Fire Department, rescued six people from the choking smoke of a fire that consumed their rooming house; and

Whereas Mr. Wilson has been honoured by St. John Ambulance, receiving a medal for his actions on November 6th at a ceremony in Halifax; and

Whereas like a true professional Mr. Wilson described his heroic action by saying, "I am just a volunteer fireman and I'm a car salesman, that's all I do";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly honour Mr. Robert Wilson of Glace Bay for his heroic action that has saved the lives of six people.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 654

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

Whereas the member for Sackville-Cobequid spoke passionately about the need for public consultation on the issue of 911 fees; and

Whereas the Premier has asked Voluntary Planning to establish an independent fiscal task force to seek the advice of all Nova Scotians on ways to sustain essential programs and services such as 911; and

[Page 2159]

Whereas the deadline for written submissions to the fiscal task force is Monday, November 22, 1999;

Therefore be it resolved that this House follow the lead of the Premier and the member for Sackville-Cobequid and encourage all Nova Scotians to provide their opinions to Voluntary Planning's independent fiscal task force.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 655

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

Whereas Dianne Crowell, Darlene Lawrence, Doreen Paris, Marcie Shwery-Stanley, Jean Knockwood, Colleen O'Connor and Elizabeth Blanchette have retired from the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women; and

Whereas these women were dedicated to the issues of women's equality; and

Whereas these women have made a significant contribution to the Advisory Council's work and have served the council over a number of years;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the contributions of Dianne Crowell, Darlene Lawrence, Doreen Paris, Marcie Shwery-Stanley, Jean Knockwood, Colleen O'Connor and Elizabeth Blanchette to the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women and wish them well with their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2160]

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 Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTIONS NO. 656

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

Whereas students in Guysborough County may not be aware of the opportunities available to them within the county; and

Whereas a recent survey indicates students want to know what a future in Guysborough will hold for them; and

Whereas about 350 students participated in a recent information fair called Reality Check '99 where 30 educational and employment resources and opportunities had displays;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate the organizers of Reality Check '99 for their hard work in informing Guysborough youth on the potential for staying in their 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.

The honourable member for Kings South.

[Page 2161]

RESOLUTION NO. 657

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

Whereas in the aftermath of the 1995 Liberal Government's municipal reform and service exchange, Kings Transit was on the brink of financial extinction; and

Whereas three years ago, the Kings Transit Authority turned a crisis situation into a success story, revamping the entire operation; and

Whereas today, Kings Transit is the leading public transit system in the country in cost recovery and the Kings Transit Authority is recognized in the latest issue of the American-based Metro magazine as one of the 10 best small transit agencies in North America;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the tireless efforts of the Kings Transit Authority and acknowledge their commitment to further develop this important transportation network.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 658

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

Whereas the Premier alluded yesterday to the very generous employment contract of the new Deputy Minister of Health as the standard contract for civil servants; and

Whereas this statement may reflect more of this government's philosophy than the Premier would care to admit; and

[Page 2162]

Whereas it recalls the allegory of a farmyard rebellion where the pigs triumphed over humankind on the premise that everyone is equal, but in time twisted that premise into some are more equal than others;

Therefore be it resolved that this House remind the Premier next spring, when his government's budget slams Nova Scotia's civil servants, that he has indeed made some more equal than others.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 659

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

Whereas this coming Sunday marks the 25th Anniversary of the Pictou County Christmas Fund; and

Whereas since 1974, the annual Christmas telethon has raised close to $1 million and has assisted over 10,000 Pictou County families around the holiday season; and

Whereas many of the original volunteers and entertainers will be reunited on November 21st for the special Silver Anniversary Show;

[2:30 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their gratitude to the endless list of community-minded individuals who contribute their time and talent to this worthy event, as well as to those who generously contribute to the Pictou County Christmas Fund.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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.

[Page 2163]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 660

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

Whereas the Truro Bluebombers won the 1999 Nova Scotia PeeWee Football Championships with a 23-0 victory over the Bedford Saints on November 11th; and

Whereas this is the third consecutive year that the Bluebombers have won the Nova Scotia PeeWee Football League title; and

Whereas the team has an excellent and continuing coaching staff which teaches sportsmanship, the rewards of hard work, the value of schooling, as well as football skills;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Truro Bluebombers players and coaches on winning the Nova Scotia PeeWee Football Championship and wish them many championship years in all of their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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 Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce in the gallery opposite, Heather Henderson, who is President of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union. I would like all members to welcome her to the House today. (Applause)

[Page 2164]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 661

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

Whereas community spirit brings life to an area; and

Whereas Heritage Park in Sackville, along with its beautiful cenotaph, is the fruit of community effort and cooperation; and

Whereas Sackville Heritage Park was chosen as a national winner in the Communities in Bloom competition in Houston, Texas;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate the Sackville Heritage Park Advisory Committee, the people of Sackville and the many community and business partners who, through their support, helped to bring beauty to this area of our community.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 662

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

Whereas 12 year old Lindsay Bendell, of Gaetz Brook, is currently attending the Royal Winnipeg School of Ballet; and

Whereas this talented and determined young lady was one of only 14 students selected from 150 candidates from across Canada to attend this prestigious institution; and

[Page 2165]

Whereas Lindsay has worked diligently over the past five years in pursuit of her goal of becoming a world-famous ballet dancer;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Lindsay Bendell on being accepted at the Royal Winnipeg School of Ballet and wish her well in her future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 663

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

Whereas the Premier, since coming to office, has promised this House a code of conduct for Cabinet Ministers; and

Whereas this Tory Government now is having conduct problems with its backbenchers and not just the minister of almost nothing; and

Whereas it is apparent to all that the continued delay of this document provides Tory members with the opportunity to cover their tracks over questionable business ventures;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier bring in his much-promised but never seen code of conduct immediately, include his backbenchers within this code and make it retroactive.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

[Page 2166]

RESOLUTION NO. 664

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

Whereas the provincial cross country championships were recently held in Lunenburg County; and

Whereas the South Queens Junior High School boys and girls teams made a strong showing at the event; and

Whereas Junior Boys, Ryan Boutilier and Ryan Doucette received provincial gold and silver medals as a result of their outstanding individual performances;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the South Queen Junior High School boys and girls teams and in particular Ryan Boutilier and Ryan Doucette on their success at the Provincial Cross Country Championships.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 665

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

Whereas the SOS Children's Village, located in Margaretville, provides much needed care for Nova Scotian children on a long-term basis; and

Whereas heavy rain in late September caused considerable damage to the village; and

[Page 2167]

Whereas the assistance provided by volunteers from 434 Squadron, 14 Wing, Greenwood, has enabled the rebuilding process to move forward more efficiently and at less expense;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend a heartfelt thanks to the 434 Squadron for their exceptional dedication and tireless efforts in assisting SOS Children's Village in their time of need.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 666

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

Whereas 16 students are presently enrolled in the new sound technician program at the Shelburne Community College; and

Whereas the program is the first in Atlantic Canada which focuses on music production and sound for film and video; and

Whereas the 38 week program will graduate its first class of recording engineers, sound designers and audio post-production professionals next June;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate instructor Terry Pulliam as this new course works at improving the number of qualified skilled sound technicians in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2168]

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 Kings South.

RESOLUTION NO. 667

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

Whereas many members of our military services have developed physical and psychological disabilities as a result of their participation in the Persian Gulf War and other peace-keeping duties; and

Whereas the federal government has not effectively redressed the health issues of these individuals; and

Whereas we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the many members of our military who represented our country both in times of conflict and peace;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House offer their encouragement and support to those members of the Canadian military as they endeavour to gain a fair and effective redress from the federal government.

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 2169]

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 668

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

Whereas Chester's Haddon Hall has been in operation as an inn for just five years; and

Whereas it has quickly become a very popular choice for tourists, among whom were the wives of the G-7 Leaders when in Halifax; and

Whereas it has been selected by readers of the Canadian Country Inns and Bed and Breakfast Magazine as one of the top 10 best inns in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the owners and staff of Haddon Hall for this national recognition and for helping contribute to the province's reputation as a top vacation destination.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver on this motion.

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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 669

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

Whereas the program at the Queens Family Resource Centre is helping young girls to grow into confident young women; and

Whereas the 10 week program, "Just for Girls", focuses mainly on self-esteem and helps pre-adolescent girls avoid problems such as eating disorders; and

[Page 2170]

Whereas this program also tackles issues such as bullying, expressing anger, friendships and dealing with stress;

Therefore be it resolved that all members acknowledge the important work being accomplished by this program and applaud the efforts of facilitators Melanie Walsh and Nadine Saunders in addressing these important issues.

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 Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 670

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

Whereas the benefits of life-long learning are many and varied; and

Whereas educators in Guysborough are developing a learning series for adult learners using the history and culture of Guysborough County; and

Whereas the initiative called ELASTIC, or Everyone Learning and Sharing Through History and Culture, will be of interest to adult learners;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations to Grail Sangster and Karen Lundrigan for bringing this valuable program to Guysborough.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2171]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 671

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

Whereas Jacqueline Hubley was recently presented with the Musquodoboit Harbour and District Volunteer Fire Department's 1999 Firefighter of the Year Award; and

Whereas Ms. Hubley was voted to receive this outstanding award by her fellow firefighters; and

Whereas Ms. Hubley, who also completed her Level 1 Firefighter Course, is a certified first responder and has attended 60 per cent of all meetings and training sessions;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the dedication and commitment shown by Jacqueline Hubley and congratulate her on being named Firefighter of the Year.

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.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, if I may, on a point of order. The Premier I believe is here, but is not in the Chamber, and I wonder if we could wait for a minute or so until the Premier arrives.

[Page 2172]

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Question Period will begin at 2:42 p.m. and will end at 4:12 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

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

JUSTICE - ABUSE ALLEGATIONS: REPORT (IIU) - RELEASE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. Tonight, the CBS TV program The Fifth Estate will be airing a segment on the abuse compensation process started under the previous government. It has further been reported that this program is largely based on a leaked report from the Internal Investigation Unit. I want to ask the Premier, will he commit his government to release the Internal Investigation Unit report to the public so that Nova Scotians can judge for themselves just where we are now in this process?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question from the Leader of the New Democratic Party. This government is committed to fairness for all, but for a specific answer, I would refer to the Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, in answer to the honourable member's question, I am not exactly sure which report was leaked to the media. What I can tell you is that the investigation is not complete. The Internal Investigation Unit has not filed a complete report and it would be inappropriate for me to comment on an incomplete report on an incomplete investigation.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, again to the Premier. The abuse compensation process started with an independent review conducted by Justice Stuart Stratton, who gave his report in 1995. Justice Stratton, working with professional investigators, found credible evidence of abuse. Now we have reports of an internal report in the Department of Justice that says that Stratton got it all wrong.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

[Page 2173]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, will he commit today to, once and for all, attempt to clear the air on this important subject and establish a public inquiry into what really happened at residential schools in the Province of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this Party is committed to doing exactly that, clearing the air. That is why the Minister of Justice has been taking the actions he has since he took over the ministry, and I would ask the minister to explain his actions to the Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, again, I appreciate the member's concern. As the member will know, this Party made a commitment during the election campaign, a commitment they intend to keep, to Nova Scotians, to have a review of what happened with respect to this process. We, in government, look forward as do all Nova Scotians to receiving an answer as to what actually happened there. We intend to proceed with having a review conducted and we hope to have that in the near future.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, again to the Premier. We have had a number of different answers. One by the independent review conducted by Judge Stratton and other determinations of what actually went on by officials within the Department of Justice. I think it is important to recognize that everyone involved feels aggrieved. No one is happy with what has happened and it is extremely important that we establish . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: . . . a process where everyone has equal standing. So I want to ask the Premier, instead of leaving this within the confines of government, will he not recognize that we need to engage in a public process where all parties have equal standing to present evidence so that we can finally clear the air and get to the bottom of this issue, will he conduct this public inquiry?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it would appear that the position of the New Democratic Party on this whole issue has changed substantially since they heard that there is going to be a program on the CBC tonight. This Party has been committed for many months in ensuring that all of those involved have fairness brought to their case. In pursuit of that, this Party and this Minister of Justice are doing what has to be done. Having the investigation performed - perhaps not in the same way that you are suggesting but having an investigation performed - that will result in fairness to all.

[Page 2174]

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

HEALTH - CARE: FACILITIES REVIEW - REPORT RELEASE

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Earlier we heard a reference about this government having been in power for three months and that, of course, brings to mind the fact that this government made a commitment that they would have a review of health care facilities in this province in 90 days. So presumably that review has been completed and that it is in the government's hands. When is the Premier going to release this report to health care facilities and to Nova Scotians so that we can get the benefit of the review that has been undertaken?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. I would defer to the Minister of Health for a specific answer.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question. He is absolutely correct, the government did commit to do facilities review within 90 days and we are awaiting the report of that now and when the report is done up, then we will make it available.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, once again the government has miscalculated. They said it would be ready in 90 days, it isn't. However, information is leaking out regarding this review and people in Dartmouth have been calling our office, and I suppose members on the other side of the harbour, about allegations that there are going to be severe cuts at the Dartmouth General Hospital. I would ask the government not to wait until this review is made public but why will they not give the people in the Dartmouth area their assurance that there will not be those cuts to the Dartmouth General Hospital?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I, too, like the member opposite, have heard some of those rumours. I can state that they are just rumours. There are no plans to downsize the Dartmouth General Hospital and, to be quite frank, I don't know how those rumours got started.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, six months ago this government had all the answers. Then they went on a review to find information to back up their answers. Now, they are saying, once again, that they do have the answers and that there is no need for the people in Dartmouth to be concerned . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACLELLAN: . . . in spite of the review that is taking place. Is the minister saying that there will not be, by this government, cuts in health care at the Dartmouth General Hospital?

[Page 2175]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will repeat what I said in response to the last question. There are no plans to downsize the Dartmouth General Hospital, and as with every other hospital in this province, whether it is in Truro or Amherst or Sydney or wherever it happens to be, all of these facilities are under review. When a report is made (Interruptions) The Dartmouth General Hospital is no different than any other hospital in this province. (Interruptions)

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

JUSTICE - ABUSE ALLEGATIONS: PUBLIC INQUIRY - INSTITUTE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to return to the Premier with respect to the whole issue of the abuse compensation process and program that I referred to earlier. The former government initiated this process with the intention to save time, avoid delays of a public inquiry, achieve a sense of resolution and settlement for all involved. No matter how well intentioned, there is no question that they have failed, that this process has failed.

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Premier, will he not recognize that all parties involved feel they have been aggrieved by this process, will he institute a public inquiry to get to the bottom of this matter?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in response to the member opposite's question, we have put in place a process that is going to bring fairness to all. We have been front and centre on this issue for many months, and we are following up on our commitment to do so. The member opposite very correctly said that many people are aggrieved by this process, the whole process, and we are finally going to bring to bear a program and an approach that will provide fairness to all.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, to the Premier. The Premier appears, and I think the Minister of Justice indicated this earlier, that they are focused on the process that has been under way, and I think that is an important part of this whole question, but we must remember that the issue at stake here is how Community Services and the Department of Justice handled the original incidents and the allegations of abuse dating back more than 50 years.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: We need to get at those issues, we need to find out what happened in order to prevent it from happening again.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier again, will he ensure that a public inquiry is established in order that we can get to the bottom of the problems that have been brought up as a result of this investigation?

[Page 2176]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I don't seem to be getting through to the member opposite, so I will ask the Minister of Justice to have a try.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I will repeat the answer for the honourable member's benefit. This government is committed to having a full and complete review of what happened at that facility, and to have that report made public so that the people of Nova Scotia will know what happened. We are determined to get at the truth. I cannot say it any more clearly than that. This government will find out what happened.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, to the Premier. Nova Scotians are being told once again by a government, don't worry, be happy, we are going to get to the bottom of this problem. The point of a public inquiry is that there needs to be the right to subpoena, there needs to be the right to have access to all records within the purview of the government, to be able to bring evidence, all evidence, including personal evidence to bear, and all parties need to have the right of due process. It is important that there is a public accounting of this issue.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I want the Premier . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The preambles to the first question are fine, but preambles to the first and second supplementaries are not acceptable and I would ask the honourable member to put the question, please. The other thing I can mention, as well, is repetition, asking the same question three times in a row. Would the member please refrain from repetition and would he ask the question, please. (Interruptions)

Order, please. Would the honourable member ask the question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia deserve the right to understand how their tax dollars have been spent and what happened to the people abused at these institutions. I want the Premier to commit today that there will be a public, independent inquiry conducted into this issue.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I don't feel that was a question. If the honourable Premier wants to answer it, fine, if not, I will call the next speaker. (Interruption) Order, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I asked the Premier a question. I asked the Premier to commit to a public inquiry.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. What you said was you want the Premier to commit. You didn't ask him. And again, you are asking the same question three times.

[Page 2177]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Why is that not a question?

MR. SPEAKER: Because you asked the same question three times. (Interruptions)

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I asked the Premier a question.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If the honourable Premier wants to answer, . . .

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I will put a question mark on . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Does the honourable Premier wish to answer? (Interruptions)

THE PREMIER: It would appear that the member opposite is having difficulty. I have answered the question. The Minister of Justice has answered the question. (Interruptions) I think we are running out of options here. We have indicated what we are going to do and we are going to bring fairness to bear on the issue. We are going to bring clarity to bear on the issue. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - DART. GEN. HOSP.:

SURGICAL UNIT - RETENTION ASSURE

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. It has to do again with the Central Regional Health Board and the Dartmouth General Hospital. In spite of what the minister might have answered in an earlier question from our Leader, there are still grave concerns in the community and I personally am getting calls on the issue of the role of the Dartmouth General Hospital and the regional role of that hospital. So I would like to specifically ask the minister, can he indicate, has he had any discussions, any indications and can he give assurances to the people who use the Dartmouth General Hospital on the eastern side of this harbour, that the surgical unit of the Dartmouth General Hospital will remain intact? I know that he hasn't received the report yet, but . . .

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the concerns that the member for Dartmouth East is presenting. I can tell the honourable member that with respect to any facility review that has gone on in this province, there has been no discussion in my department or with me about the results of that review. I guess probably one thing I can tell the member, which may be a positive statement, is that planning for the $8 million expansion of the emergency room is ongoing and the architectural drawings are expected to be available shortly.

[Page 2178]

DR. SMITH: I want to thank the minister for that. Those were announcements that were made and we are concerned that the word review is not a code word for cutbacks. So I thank the honourable minister for his announcement on the emergency department. Specifically, and I will try to be brief, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Please. I would ask the member to ask the question, please.

DR. SMITH: . . . and I know it is important, Mr. Speaker, to all of us. When we look at the map of the regionalization and the new district health boards, we see a very comfortable area, a little kingdom, you might say, in the New Glasgow-Pictou community, but we see a very large central region.

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

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, can the minister assure that the central region, which is such a large region that has been left intact, and Dartmouth General Hospital, being a regional hospital within that complex, that that will not suffer undue cutbacks in line with the cuts within the health care system that he is indicating?

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I have to go back to the honourable member, what I said first, the facilities review. We have not entertained any discussions about the future of any facility here in the central region other than what I mentioned in part of my response to that last question.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. The Third Party over here, I will try to satisfy them as well. It is sort of difficult to get the right balance. Can the minister share the logic of having small districts like the New Glasgow area, the home of the Premier, and the large area within the central region of which the Dartmouth General Hospital and the Windsor hospital are part? What is the logic there? Is the minister quite satisfied that it is okay to continue with the smaller regions and the large central region?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am not sure if the minister can make one or two questions out of that but if you want to try, go ahead.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, you are right, it is difficult sometimes to get the questions out of people like the Leader of the New Democratic Party and the member for Dartmouth East. I would say, as announced in the blue book, our plan initially is to put the nine regional health authorities around the former district regional hospitals and that is the reason for that. I can also say that there is room for some flexibility in that.

[Page 2179]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

JUSTICE - ABUSE ALLEGATIONS: PUBLIC INQUIRY - APPOINT

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Justice. Mr. Minister, during the election campaign on July 20th, the Shelburne candidate for your Party, Cecil O'Donnell, published his position and it said that a PC Government would call for an independent public inquiry and the release of information regarding allegations of physical and sexual abuse, and I will table that. On October 6th of this year (Interruptions)

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

MR. EPSTEIN: On October 6th of this year, Bill Cox, one of yours, published an item in The Chronicle-Herald in which he said that what was needed was to appoint a commission of inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act to investigate and report on the ultimate responsibility for the grievous abuses that took place. I will table that.

MR. SPEAKER: Could we have a question, please?

MR. EPSTEIN: My question for the minister is as follows, if he won't take advice from over here, why won't he take advice from his own? Can the Minister of Justice not recognize good advice when he is being given it?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, you know the honourable member should have heard the discussion earlier. Our government is committed to a full, independent review of the Shelburne school. Now the honourable member is also a practising member of the Bar and he realizes that it would be irresponsible on the part of any Minister of Justice and Attorney General to compromise the ongoing police investigations with respect to allegations of abuse and of fraud.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I will tell the minister what I heard. What I heard him say was that he was prepared to have what he called a review of this process. By this process he quite clearly means only the question of how money was given to victims but let me tell you, there are problems with the victims, the abusers, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. EPSTEIN: . . . and those who feel wrongfully accused. Will the minister tell us now that the mandate of a public inquiry or any review that he appoints will extend fully to all questions, including what Bill Cox said, that is to say on the ultimate responsibility for the grievous abuses that took place?

[Page 2180]

MR. BAKER: What I can tell the honourable member is, firstly, the review will be full, it will be independent, it will be complete and the report will be made public. Those things I can tell the honourable member. I can also tell the honourable member that that review will not compromise any ongoing police investigations either into allegations of abuse or fraud.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I will tell the minister that, if he is looking for independence, what you do is you appoint a judge. That is what they are there for and you use the Public Inquiries Act because that is what it is there for, to deliver fairness. What I want to know from the minister is, since he clearly is not interested in doing that, why will he not appoint a public inquiry, why does he reject a public inquiry?

MR. BAKER: It seems rather ironic coming from the honourable member, whose Party previously had endorsed the Stratton report as the be all and end all, that all of a sudden it is not complete enough. Very simply, this government, unlike the Party opposite, is committed to a review of the process. Your very new-found interest in this subject is only as a result of the CBC report tonight.

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

ECON. DEV. - SHEARWATER: PURCHASE -

MEETING (PREMIER-OTTAWA) DATE

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. On November 3rd and 4th he mentioned that, with respect to the purchase of a part of the lands of the Shearwater complex, there was going to be a meeting with Ottawa later this month. I want to ask the Premier, when will that meeting be taking place, this month, or has it already taken place?

THE PREMIER: I thank the member opposite for his question and he does have an interest in the Shearwater property. As soon as the results of that meeting are known, I will make them available to the member opposite.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, my question was when? There are not that many days left in November that it would be that difficult for the Premier to tell us as to when that meeting was going to be. The Premier pledged to consult with the Halifax business community about changes to public policy in Nova Scotia. He mentioned that he discussed this question of the purchase of Shearwater lands with Donald Cameron. Who else outside of government has he discussed this question with?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, a former Premier of the province did bring me his perspective, and it was unsolicited, about the Shearwater property. He shared the interest in that property that the former Premier, the most recent former Premier of this province shares. In response to the rest of the question, I did have an opportunity to discuss it with certain

[Page 2181]

federal people but that has, at this point, been the extent of the consultations that we have had.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the Premier knows this is a sensitive issue and it means a lot for the future of this area for the province to gain control over the right of first refusal on all Shearwater property as well as access to the water. So it is important that the Premier be very careful with whom he discusses this matter in the interest of the Province of Nova Scotia and to get an agreement from the federal government as soon as possible.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACLELLAN: Is there a meeting scheduled for this month or is there not a meeting scheduled this month with the federal government on this question?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is my belief that the meeting will occur this month, but I cannot give the member opposite the exact day.

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

HEALTH: DART. GEN. HOSP. - REVIEW

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health says on one hand that the rumours surrounding the Dartmouth General Hospital are unsubstantiated and then says directly after that that the facility is under review. As you may know, Dartmouth General is an important facility and it plays a crucial role in delivering health care to over 120,000 residents of Dartmouth and the Eastern Shore.

I would ask if the minister will give assurances to the staff of the Dartmouth General Hospital and to the people of Dartmouth and Eastern Shore that regardless of the results of the review that this crucial health care facility will not be the next victim of his government's slashing?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will repeat my point. There are no current plans to downsize the Dartmouth General Hospital. Like the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, and I appreciate these questions coming from the members from Dartmouth, I understand that you have probably been getting phone calls about it. The facilities review results have not been compiled and discussed, there have been no decisions made about any facility, Dartmouth General or any other in the province.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister should know that his response only goes to compound the consternation of the people in that community. Like many Nova Scotians, Dartmouth has a serious doctor shortage. One of the responses, as the minister indicated, was to put in place and commit to an $8 million expansion of the Dartmouth General Hospital.

[Page 2182]

Does the minister know, is the review sabotaging Dartmouth's attempt to attract and keep medical professionals and breaking his government's campaign promises by weakening the level of services offered at the Dartmouth General Hospital?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I guess in response to the honourable member's question, I would have to say I don't think so. I can only go back on my personal experience from my home community of Truro, where there have been two new doctors: one has arrived, another has committed to come in a very short period of time. Like the Dartmouth General Hospital, the facility in that community is under the same type of review.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, when I ask the minister if he was planning to close or downgrade community hospitals, the minister responded with great emphasis that it wasn't the case. No, no, heavens, no. The minister is certainly showing that his government's promises mean very little. Since the minister seems to be making decisions to cut and slash without even seeing the results of program review, will he share with us the names of community hospitals that he intends to place on the chopping block?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I hate to use a term that was commonly used by the former Minister of Health, that of fear-mongering, but I have to put a question like that into that category. I have said that we have no plans to close any institution at the present time.

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

HEALTH - DEP. MIN.: DOCUMENT - ADDITIONAL

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, in the letter signed by the new Deputy Minister of Health yesterday, November 10th, it stated that the information contained in those two letters of November 3rd was a summary of the issues negotiated between the province and the new Deputy Minister of Health.

Can the Premier tell us whether there is another document that was entered into between the government and the new Deputy Minister of Health, or are those two letters the only documents entered into between those two parties?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the two documents that I signed, both dated November 3rd, constitute the contract between the province and the minister.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, on November 3rd, the Premier mentioned that, in response to a question from the NDP, there had been a new Deputy Minister of Health named, yet at that time there had only been two letters from the Deputy Minister of Priorities and Planning, without any signature from the new Deputy Minister of Health.

[Page 2183]

How could he have said at that time that he had the assurance that there was a new Deputy Minister of Health when, in fact, that person had not agreed to sign the contract?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, first of all to clarify my first answer, the two letters constitute the financial agreement. There is a mandate as well that the deputy will be responsible for. The sequence of events is, the letters were drawn up, dated November 3rd; they were then considered by the deputy minister; and after a period of time and consideration he signed the letters and the letters were tabled here in the House. What happened between November 3rd and the time in which he ultimately made the decision that he was going to come here and become the Deputy Minister of Health explains why the letters were dated November 3rd and they were only available for tabling at a subsequent date.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the Premier had given us his assurance in this House that a new deputy minister would be taking up the role, yet the new deputy minister did not agree to the terms in those two letters until November 10th. What assurance did the Premier have that the new deputy minister had, in fact, committed himself to take on the role of deputy minister on November 3rd? Is there another agreement or undertaking that he signed to give the Premier that belief?

THE PREMIER: The reason I was able to make that statement is because the now deputy minister said so.

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

PETROLEUM DIRECTORATE - SABLE GAS:

DISTRIBUTION - COSTS MONITOR

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am still trying to fathom that last answer.

My question is to the Premier. The URB, in its decision yesterday, said that it is not convinced that industrial customers should have the ability to bypass the provincial distribution system. It indicates that if large industrial users, of course, are allowed to bypass this system, it could mean that smaller businesses and householders would end up having to carry the burden of costs of building the distribution system.

My question to the Premier is, what will your government do to ensure that ordinary Nova Scotians are not shouldering the costs of building the distribution system?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite does have an ongoing interest and a very substantial knowledge of what is going on here in the oil and gas industry, but I would be surprised if the member opposite really would expect that the government would be

[Page 2184]

making pronouncements on a document that was generated over 68 days after intense testimony, after having the document less than 24 hours.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Premier for his compliment, but I would like to throw back to the Premier that I would expect that he and his government would also have an ongoing interest in what is going on and should, therefore, also have some knowledge. Certainly the URB and their decision, I would suggest, has backed up what I was saying quite some time ago when the Premier was in this House listening to those comments about the direct industrial bypasses.

I would like to ask the Premier that given the URB's clear scepticism about industrial bypasses and saying how they will not really provide any economic disadvantage to those large companies if they are not granted, will he guarantee that industrial users have to hook into the provincial system?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I can say to the member opposite is that I share his concern about making sure that the proposal that comes from the URB will advantage all Nova Scotians to a maximum benefit. Having said that, we are going to spend considerable time analysing the report and, when the results of that analysis are complete, the member opposite, as will all Nova Scotians, will know the decision.

MR. HOLM: Soon, soon, very soon is the answer from the Premier, Mr. Speaker. Surely to Heavens the Premier and his ministers and his government have been doing some pretty detailed analysis and anticipating, because this is not a new topic, about direct industrial bypasses, so I want to ask the Premier, given the costs of allowing those direct industrial bypasses to household consumers and small businesses and the URB's scepticism about their value, under what conditions would this government even consider that a direct industrial bypass would be acceptable?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite seems to want to hurry the process along. What is happening, to reassure the member opposite and all members of the House and Nova Scotians, that we will be analyzing the report from the URB, looking at it page by page and coming out with a decision. I don't think it is appropriate that the kinds of questions that the member opposite is putting should be answered here today and I don't really think that the member opposite fully expected me to answer it.

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

PETROLEUM DIRECTORATE:

GAS DISTRIBUTION - URB DECISION

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate. The minister has indicated that his government

[Page 2185]

needs more time to review the Utility and Review Board decision regarding gas distribution. My understanding is that the minister has two options. Either the minister can accept the recommendation or reject it. The minister in Cabinet cannot change this decision. Why is the minister leaving the impression that the recommendation of the Utility and Review Board could be changed by this government?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. Obviously, this is probably one of the most significant events to occur in Nova Scotian history in some time. The gasification of this province is very similar to the electrification that occurred back in the 1920's and 1930's. We want to be sure that we are getting maximum benefit for Nova Scotians so we intend to look at the recommendations of the URB ruling and determine what is in the best interests of Nova Scotians and act accordingly.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am really not interested in the history of the electric light bulb but what I am interested in is the Sable gas project. The minister has stated that delays in the Sable project worry him because they may damage Nova Scotia's reputation as a place to do business. There was one sure way to do that and that is by politically interfering with a regulatory body recommendation. Political interference has been a hallmark of previous Tory Administrations.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, will the minister give an exact time-frame as to when Cabinet will ratify this decision so that Nova Scotians can take advantage of all opportunities associated with gas distribution?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, again, when the URB took seven months to look at the information and submissions to make their determination, we assumed that we should be given the luxury of determining it in a timely manner that ensures that we don't miss an opportunity. This is, as I said earlier, a very significant event in Nova Scotia's opportunity to increase the economy. So we are going to look at the information and make the appropriate decision at the appropriate time.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the only decision that this Cabinet can make is to accept it or reject it. My final supplementary is again to the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate. There have been four months of public hearings which have been accessible to the minister. I doubt if there is any expertise in this Cabinet that could add much to this. It makes you wonder who was asserting influence on this government. My question is, why won't this minister and this government maintain the credibility of the process and accept the URB decision now?

[Page 2186]

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, again, it is not our intention to make a hasty decision that, in fact, results in Nova Scotia not maximizing its benefits. So we will make the decision at the appropriate time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC.: GAS DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS - TRAINING

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Education. Yesterday the minister expressed surprise when she learned there was a serious shortage of trained Nova Scotians to work on the provincial gas distribution system. Can the minister explain why, as the person responsible for training in Nova Scotia, she was in the dark on this issue?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, there is a reason why I was in the dark on this issue and while I have every respect for the reporter in question as a highly underrated reporter in my opinion, the reason I was in the dark is because the facts of the story were not true.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister also indicated (Interruptions)

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

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister also indicated that Level 3 gas fitters graduating from the Nova Scotia Community College would be able to install gas in households but apparently she wasn't aware that they would require supervision of qualified Level 2 gas fitters of whom we have none in Nova Scotia right now. My question for the minister is what steps has she taken to provide training to take full advantage of natural gas coming onshore in Nova Scotia?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the training for various workers in the gas sector is proceeding as planned. It is proceeding with unions, it is proceeding through the community college. I am not a personal expert on all aspects of the gas industry and I would be the first to admit that. The Level 3 gas fitters who just wrote their exams are now receiving Level 2 training. That is true, they do need supervision. They will get that supervision.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the minister is concerned, like all members of this House, that we get as many Nova Scotians working on the gas distribution system as possible. So my question to the minister is if she could tell us specifically what plans are in place to meet the training needs of the Sempra project, including training Level 2 gas fitters, how many will be trained and by when?

[Page 2187]

MISS PURVES: Actually, Mr. Speaker, I did have some figures to table but unfortunately there was a little accident with a glass of water a few moments ago. (Laughter) But I would be glad to table those figures by tomorrow.

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

HEALTH - MSVU (MOTHER BERCHMAN'S CTR.):

LONG-TERM CARE BEDS - COMMIT

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. When the Minister of Health was answering a question about why he refused to give the licence to the Mother Berchman's Centre, he mentioned that there were other facilities that needed the long-term care beds more. Now, having made that statement, is he now prepared to commit those long-term care beds to those facilities he mentioned?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I don't believe what the honourable Leader of the Liberal Party reported that I said is what I said. I said that all requests for long-term beds, and there were a number of them from around the province, were being reviewed.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, with due respect to the minister, that is not the implication he left with this House. The implication was that there were other areas that had a greater need for long-term care beds and he mentioned Sackville as opposed to Bedford, he mentioned Cape Breton and I think there were other areas, but those two do stick in my mind. The fact of the matter is that I agree there are a lot of areas that need long-term care beds. Is the minister in a position right now to commit those long-term care beds for Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable Leader of the Liberal Party knows, we are trying to make our decisions on the allocation of long-term care beds on specific criteria and probably relatively specific evidence and we are still in the process of amassing the data that will enable us to make the best type of decisions for all of Nova Scotia.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Health has not amassed his criteria and his statistics and his review and everything else and his hocus-pocus, how in the name of heavens, and I ask the minister, can he turn down the licence for the Mother Berchman's Centre when he does not even have his own criteria in place?

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as I have explained to the honourable member and to other members of this House, there are ongoing deliberations about the most appropriate place to put long-term care beds in this province. I should also remind the honourable member that

[Page 2188]

the decision on the Mother Berchman's Centre simply said that we were not making decisions at this time. They are still in the hopper with others.

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

PETROLEUM DIRECTORATE - NAT. GAS: BENEFITS - MAXIMIZE

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, as the Premier had to leave, I will direct my question to the Deputy Premier, if you tell me who that is? (Interruption)

They do not have one. I got one straight answer today, Mr. Speaker. Then in that case I will go to his right-hand person, the person who has been given most of the jobs to do, part-time on a lot of things, so he can be part-time Deputy Premier today, and that will be to the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate.

Mr. Speaker, the URB's decision yesterday to grant the natural gas franchise to Sempra was in part based upon the fact that Sempra agreed that they were going to hire 350 Nova Scotians to work on the system. Houses in New England, as you know and I know, unfortunately, will be heated with our gas before programs are even in place to train Nova Scotians.

This was apparently news to the Minister of Education yesterday so I want to ask the minister who has overlapping responsibilities, given his colleague's lack of attention to this matter, why should Nova Scotians have any confidence that your government is fighting to maximize the benefits of natural gas here in Nova Scotia?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the question. Obviously, one of the major commitments we made as a Party during the election was ensuring that Nova Scotians got maximum benefit out of the Sable gas development and certainly the announcement that Sempra is going to be responsible for gasification in this province is a great opportunity for employment.

They estimate that there could be upwards of 300 jobs created around the installation of gas pipelines. Initially many of those jobs will be jobs for which Nova Scotians are already trained - that is running heavy equipment, installing gas lines, in fact, welding to some degree. Much of the gas line will be plastic and, in fact, the training for that involves basically a two-day course for plastic fusion welding. So the opportunities are there. The Petroleum Directorate certainly has expended money to ensure that there are training programs in place so that we can have Nova Scotians ready when the opportunity presents itself.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, like many people, heard the commitments that were made by this government but then I have not seen much in the way of action that backs it up. The URB's decision does not require, it is not an absolute requirement, that Sempra hire Nova

[Page 2189]

Scotians. It merely says that they should take reasonable measures to do so - a very big difference. Can the minister tell Nova Scotians how we can expect Sempra to take every step to hire Nova Scotians when your Minister of Education is so out of touch with training requirements that he did not know yesterday that we had even a lack of qualified workers?

MR. BALSER: I reassure the member opposite that we, as a government, want to have Nova Scotians placed in job opportunities as they are created. The Nova Scotia Community College has ongoing training programs. We are, in fact, looking at ways in which to ensure that people currently employed in the propane gas installation industry can retrain so that they can provide the expertise needed so that those people currently in community colleges will have the opportunity to take jobs and be supervised by these people. So we are looking at opportunities as they present themselves and we are guaranteeing that Nova Scotians will have maximum opportunity for employment.

MR. HOLM: The minister, as I know his colleague does, may know that I was pushing to see about the exams for those students who enrolled in the technical programs because they were not available when they were supposed to be, but if Cabinet approves the URB recommendations, Sempra is expected to start construction this spring. The minister is correct. The Nova Scotia Community College is expected to graduate approximately 100 apprentice gas fitters this year but qualified journeymen will probably have to be brought in from out of province to supervise during the start of the project.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. HOLM: I want to ask the minister, what measures is the government taking to ensure that when construction starts, the jobs will be going to qualified Nova Scotia workers and not workers who are brought in from away?

MR. BALSER: Again, the jobs in the initial phase will involve heavy equipment operation and installation of pipelines so that actual jobs requiring technicians are some time out. In fact, we are making arrangements so that people currently employed in the propane industry can re-certify or challenge for credit so that they will be trained and certified when the opportunities present themselves. In light of his comments around the Nova Scotia Community College testing procedures, it is our intention to ensure that those people are trained and ready to take part in the job opportunities. As in any new industry, there may be, at the initial stage, some requirement to bring in expertise from outside, but it is fully our intention to ensure that as this business ramps up, there will be more and more opportunities for Nova Scotians. That is a commitment we have made. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

[Page 2190]

JUSTICE - JAIL (YARMOUTH):

REPLACEMENT - PRIORITY CONFIRM

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General. The Yarmouth Correctional Centre is now 135 years old. The facility has been deemed, "difficult and expensive to operate in a safe and secure manner.". The Tory member for Yarmouth suggested in the November 12th edition of the Yarmouth Vanguard that "a new facility for Yarmouth is just one of the priorities in the Department of Justice.". He went on to say, "It doesn't matter how many Justice facilities you put in the city, we are still 200 miles away and we need facilities in Yarmouth.".

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Justice is, can he confirm to the House today whether the replacement of the Yarmouth Correctional Centre is an immediate priority of this government?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: I appreciate the honourable member's interest in Yarmouth County. I share his interest in Yarmouth County in making sure there are proper Justice facilities in Yarmouth County. That is why, as soon as the House closes, my plan is to go to Yarmouth County to meet with the citizens of Yarmouth County, to talk to them about their needs.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that he has to go to Yarmouth to hear about their concerns and that the MLA on his own backbench can't do it for him. It is quite unfortunate. The member for Yarmouth has told the people that the Yarmouth jail will not be closed under this Tory Government. In fact he is saying to people that a new facility will be built because it is a priority in the Department of Justice. Perhaps the member for Yarmouth has information from the Department of Justice that has not yet been shared with the current minister.

Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary is, will the minister confirm or deny what the member for Yarmouth has said, that this Tory Government will build a new jail in Yarmouth, is actually the intention of this government?

MR. BAKER: What I can confirm for this member is that when you have a program review, that means that you review all the programs. That means that some programs may get bigger in certain areas and they may get smaller in others. What I can tell you is that all programs, including programs in Justice are under review.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, rural Nova Scotians fear that this government and this minister are going to close their own institutions to pay for the million dollar Minister of Community Services. My second supplementary is that the Yarmouth jail has to be replaced or it will be closed. There is no question of that. The minister continues to reassert to this House that it is part of a program review. Either it is an essential facility or it is not.

[Page 2191]

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. SAMSON: My final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, is, will the minister confirm whether this facility is going to be replaced or will it be closed?

MR. BAKER: There is a fundamental error in the honourable member's hypothesis. He seems to have forgotten; amnesia seems to have overtaken him. The decision to build the new Halifax County Correctional Centre and Forensic Facility was a decision of the government he was a member of. He seems to have forgotten that, so I would just correct the record.

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

PETROLEUM DIRECTORATE - SABLE GAS:

SEMPRA - HIRING (N.S.)

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate and a bunch of other things. Yesterday's decision by the Utility and Review Board to award Sempra the franchise for distribution of natural gas in Nova Scotia, refers to a commitment by Sempra to allow up to 49 per cent ownership by Nova Scotians within 10 years. The URB remarked that specific Nova Scotia ownership details will be filed within 90 days of the approval by the Governor in Council of the granting of the franchise by the board. My question to the minister is, can he tell the House just what is meant by the term "Nova Scotians" as used by Sempra?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the question. I do believe that in the URB ruling they spent some time determining what, in fact, was a Nova Scotian in terms of opportunities for employment. Their response was that a Nova Scotian, to their understanding, was either a native-born Nova Scotian who had moved outside of the province and wished to return home, or someone who had lived in Nova Scotia for six months. So as to how it applies specifically to any purchase of shares, that is something that when we are reviewing the information - as we intend to do, as was mentioned earlier - we will be giving consideration to. It would be premature to comment at this point, because it is still under review.

MR. HOLM: The minister has obviously read the report, because I came across that same section myself, so I want to compliment him on his reading skills. Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians, of course, can refer to more than individuals; when it is used in legal terms, a person can refer to a company or a business. My question to the minister is, quite simply this, can the minister tell this House what commitment he expects from Sempra on Nova Scotia ownership? What is it that you expect Sempra to offer in terms of Nova Scotia ownership?

[Page 2192]

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, once again to the honourable member, the whole issue of what is, in fact, contained in the URB ruling is one that we want to spend some time analysing, so we have to discuss what it means so we can ensure there are maximum benefits for Nova Scotians. That would include the opportunity to partake of any profits that the company could accrue as a result of making a good investment in the gasification project. It is part of our ongoing discussions and review of the document.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my last question. Sempra says that it will be providing the specific details on Nova Scotia ownership 90 days after Cabinet grants the franchise. The URB accepted that statement in its decision. That is like saying you will close the barn door after the horse is gone. I want to ask the minister, will he commit to this House to have the specific details on Nova Scotia ownership from Sempra and show them to Nova Scotians, completely, before a franchise is approved?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by complimenting the URB on their diligence and hard work in bringing forward their recommendation in a very timely manner. Once again, the issues that are contained in that recommendation have to be looked at very carefully and very closely to ensure that we do not make a premature decision. So obviously, when we are reviewing, those kinds of issues are going to be contained in any recommendation or any information that goes to Cabinet before a decision is made.

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

YARMOUTH MLA - CONFLICT OF INTEREST

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question was for the Premier, but he is not here, and there is no Deputy Premier, so I think I will just go shopping, if you don't mind. I pick the Minister of Justice.

Yesterday the Premier played fast and loose with the clause in the House of Assembly Act dealing with exceptions to the conflict of interest section. The legal experts we consulted offered a different interpretation. The exception the Premier quoted deals just with shareholders in a company that receive government contracts. I would like to table that part of the Act. The MLA for Yarmouth is not just a shareholder in R. Hurlburt Construction, he is an officer of the company and he is still the President, and therefore in a conflict according to Section 18 of the Act.

[3:45 p.m.]

Will the minister commit then to independent legal interpretation of this section of the Act and pursue any necessary corrective action? If he won't, we will. (Applause)

[Page 2193]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member misunderstands the role of the Minister of Justice. The role of the Minister of Justice, as the honourable member knows, is not to investigate allegations. If the honourable member feels there has been an impropriety, I would ask him to do whatever he feels is necessary. I can tell you though, for the honourable member's benefit, what was the honourable member suggesting, that the Government of Nova Scotia take the highest contract?

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's comments and, of course, that is not what I was suggesting. Let me go then to the Chairman of the Priorities and Planning Committee, for my next question.

The member for Yarmouth claims he no longer controls R. Hurlburt Construction, and we have heard that the member for Yarmouth himself is directly involved in talks between R. Hurlburt Construction and Skate Yarmouth, in order to make a donation toward the planned two ice-surface facility. That is great for Yarmouth, I applaud him for that. Will the minister take this as proof then that the member for Yarmouth still directly controls R. Hurlburt Construction, and is thus in violation of the House of Assembly Act?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member seems to be inferring that there is a conflict of interest. If he believes that there is a conflict of interest, I would suggest that he go the route that everybody else goes.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I am not inferring it, I am saying it. There is a conflict of interest. Again to the minister, if independent legal counsel finds that the member for Yarmouth is in violation of the House of Assembly Act, then will you or the Premier remove him as a sitting member until this issue is settled once and for all?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the answer is no.

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

PETROLEUM DIRECTORATE - SABLE GAS:

SEMPRA - HIRING (N.S.)

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I like many other people in this province was happy yesterday to see that we have taken another step towards a distribution system for natural gas. I have some very serious reservations about the Sempra application. One of the previous government's fundamental failures with Sable Gas was its failure to establish a mechanism to guarantee enforcements of minimum standards of Nova Scotian content. The proposal for a distribution franchise makes the same mistake. There is no mechanism to guarantee that Sempra will live up to its promise to hire Nova Scotians.

[Page 2194]

I want to ask the minister responsible, what steps will he take to ensure the government has a hammer it can use to force Sempra to hire Nova Scotians?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the question. Obviously, when the URB undertook the public hearings and entertained submissions, one of the major concerns was around what the benefits would be to Nova Scotians. Obviously, the URB in its ruling put forward six areas of concern that they had, and from their recommendation the Sempra proposal was the one that seemed to contain the most in terms of what was needed to ensure that Nova Scotians get the maximum benefit.

Obviously this Party and this government has committed to ensuring that Nova Scotians are given the most access to employment opportunities. We intend to carry through on that, and the Petroleum Directorate does, in fact, have staff responsible for ensuring that there are maximum benefits and employment opportunities for Nova Scotians.

MR. CORBETT: Nowhere in that answer, Mr. Speaker, was there a definition of what he is going to use to make sure that Nova Scotians are going to be employed. Sempra says its senior managers will likely be foreigners because the level of expertise just isn't here.

Mr. Speaker, I am tired, as most are, of hearing that Nova Scotians don't have the expertise. We have been developing a significant gas industry in this province for almost two decades. What steps will this minister do to make an enforceable guarantee that Sempra's senior managers will come from this province?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, obviously, when you start a new industry, and the Sempra gasification is, to some degree, a new industry for this province, there will be a need to bring in some level of expertise from outside the province. But there are many Nova Scotians who currently reside outside of this province who are looking for an opportunity to return home. In the recommendations in the URB, it certainly references the fact that a Nova Scotian can be somebody who is native born who wishes to return home. So, obviously, there is a desire on the part of government to look very closely at the URB reporting and determine exactly what we need to do as a government to ensure that there are opportunities for Nova Scotians and that is what we intend to do.

MR. CORBETT: Again, Mr. Speaker, it is Nova Scotians that are getting the shaft. They will make no guarantees about employment to Nova Scotians. Now unemployment, as we all know, in Cape Breton is going through the roof. A lot of it is because the federal and provincial governments just don't care about that area any more. Yet this government only has the promise that Sempra will look at the feasibility of putting a call centre in Cape Breton. Mr. Minister, my question to you is very simple. What steps will you take to ensure that Sempra will guarantee a call centre in Cape Breton with guaranteed employment levels? What guarantee will you make to this House and to the people of Cape Breton today?

[Page 2195]

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the Petroleum Directorate and the government have been putting funding into training programs to the Nova Scotia Community College and through various others, in fact we spent $500,000 to train welders so that they would be qualified to take part in the gas pipeline installation project. It is our full intention to ensure that Nova Scotians are trained and part of the mandate of the Petroleum Directorate is to fund those kinds of training programs. So what more assurance can this member opposite have than to believe that the government is committed to putting forward training programs.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

ENVIRON. - PROTECTION: PROMISES - FULFIL

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of the Environment. All Nova Scotians are concerned with the environment and its protection. Inappropriate and illegal dumping and the burning of waste, for example, affect Nova Scotians very close to their homes. The illegal storage of waste is also a major concern to Nova Scotians. The Tory blue book was long on glowing, feel-good messages about the environment but was very short on specifics. My question, quite simply, what steps has the Minister of the Environment taken to implement the Tory election platform with respect to the environment?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, in accordance with the Environment Act, the Department of the Environment is rigorously pursuing all those who illegally dump.

MR. SAMSON: Very good to hear, Mr. Speaker. The environment platform of the Tory Party promised quite a few undertakings, including a green plan for Nova Scotia, refocusing resources within the department, promoting environmental technology, et cetera. The Tory member for Sackville-Beaver Bank continues to lobby his government to strengthen laws against illegal dumping and storage. In fact we received complaints just yesterday from constituents along the beautiful Eastern Shore regarding illegal storage of garbage.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is, is there anything in the minister's plans that would address Nova Scotians' concerns about illegal dumping and open burning not currently covered under Environment Act regulations?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, when a complaint is brought to the attention of the department, the department reacts by investigating that complaint.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is quite obvious that the minister is quite happy with what the Liberal plan was for the environment and he is bringing absolutely nothing new to that department with his Tory Government. It is clear that they are very happy with the

[Page 2196]

Liberal policy and what the Liberals have done with the Department of the Environment. My final supplementary is, will the Minister of the Environment commit to revealing, if not today, before the end of the month, his government's detailed plans for the environment concerning illegal dumping and storage of garbage?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is very hard to hear the question when there is a lot of noise in the Chamber. Will the honourable member repeat the question only, please.

MR. SAMSON: Well, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is making a lot of noise there about burning tires, but I will try it one more time. Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is, will the Minister of the Environment . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Thank you. There, try it one more time.

MR. SAMSON: The first question?

MR. SPEAKER: The third one, please. Thank you.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is, will the Minister of the Environment commit to revealing, if not today, before the end of the month, to this House, his government's detailed plans for the environment concerning illegal dumping and storage of garbage?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if we have a report available in that time, it will be made public.

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

ABORIGINAL AFFS.: MARSHALL DECISION - IMPLEMENT

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs. This morning, the Supreme Court of Canada denied the request for a stay and rehearing the acquittal of Donald Marshall. The court's decision today emphasizes its original judgement that Mi'kmaq treaty rights exist and that the provincial and federal governments must consult with Mi'kmaq communities about any regulatory limits that are placed on their treaty and Aboriginal rights. I want to ask the minister, what steps has the province taken to implement this decision which is now two months old?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased for this question because this government has been committed to sitting down with Aboriginal leaders to implement the Marshall decision; this government has never denied the fact that the Supreme Court of Canada had made a decision in the Marshall case and we respect that. What we have done is

[Page 2197]

we have entered into discussions with the Government of Canada towards coming out with a process that will have a comprehensive method of dealing with Aboriginal issues in Nova Scotia.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister. Yesterday the New Brunswick Government entered into an agreement with one Mi'kmaq community to regulate Aboriginal logging within the framework of the Mi'kmaq treaty rights affirmed by the Supreme Court. New Brunswick learned that confrontation is a costly dead end. I want to ask the minister responsible, when will his government finally recognize and adopt the Marshall decision as a framework for negotiation of issues like the logging agreements with Mi'kmaq bands in our province?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, first of all, as I indicated earlier to the honourable member, this government does respect the Marshall decision. With respect to the particular issue of logging I defer to my colleague, the Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, certainly the issue of logging and the access that would be desired at this current time with the native community, we have put forward opportunities to have discussions on the issue. Currently we hope to see some of those discussions come forward in an extremely short time-frame. The exact position we are with the native community, though, is that we are enforcing the provincial Statutes in relationship to Crown land in Nova Scotia.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that for too many years in this province we have seen government stirring up fear and misunderstanding, when in fact the government should be pursuing reconciliation among the various interests that are affected by these decisions. I ask the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs when his government will undertake clear direction, clear action, and a policy of reconciliation instead of the divisive statements that we have heard again and again from this government on a number of these specific issues?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, again, with respect to the question put by the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party, this government is committed to sitting down with Aboriginal leaders in this province and to reaching a process that will lead to a satisfactory result. This government is not interested in confrontation. We are interested in negotiation and, as I indicated in the House earlier, we will do that at any time.

[4:00 p.m.]

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

[Page 2198]

HUMAN RES. - BUDGET (2000-2001):

CIVIL SERVICE CUTS - ROLE

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Human Resources. It is becoming more and more apparent that this government is planning massive cuts to the Public Service. In fact, the government's internal review will begin a communications and a labour relations implementation strategy for December 7th of this year, a day of infamy. What role does this minister's department take in developing the strategy that will implement cuts in this spring's budget?

HON. JOHN CHATAWAY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. This government, as of July 27th, said that we are committed to innovative change, vis-a-vis our labour relations. We weren't going to do things in the exact same way. We are committed to a smaller, efficient, affordable government. At the same time we are also committed to obligations that we have via the collective bargaining process and I don't have to remind the member that that process also involves consultation with all our employees.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the document that I am tabling now clearly states that Phase IV is the implementation stage of the internal program review, including an expanded committee with staff from the minister's department. My question is, will the minister outline his department's plans for the implementation of deep staff reductions in all departments?

MR. CHATAWAY: Mr. Speaker, the member is quite right when he says there is going to be a complete review of all programs across government. That includes all programs associated with the Department of Human Resources. That review will be undertaken and has not been started yet.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I was looking for someone to take responsibility. I assume that this minister is responsible for something, although you really wouldn't know it considering that he said so little in this House to this point. My question is, will the minister come clean, please, with the people of Nova Scotia and indicate his role in the cuts that are being implemented by this government? (Interruptions)

MR. CHATAWAY: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Human Resources will be asking, as all departments will, for an inventory of programs that we are involved with and that inventory, as I mentioned during the Estimates, will be done within all departments of government. That process has not officially begun yet, but will be taking place in the foreseeable future.

[Page 2199]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. - APPLES (ANNA. VALLEY): STORAGE - ENSURE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will be directing my questions to the Minister of Agriculture. The bumper crop of nearly 2.7 million bushels of apples in the Annapolis Valley, combined with the shutdown of the Allen's plant, has placed a huge requirement on storage space for juice apples. Last week the Minister of Agriculture said his government had taken steps to ensure there was enough . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, obviously the question doesn't have appeal.

This government has taken steps to ensure there was enough storage space for apples awaiting juicing at the one remaining Valley plant. Mr. Speaker, the minister is wrong. He has not ensured there is enough storage. I want to ask the minister, what is it his government will do to ensure Valley apples will not go to waste because of a lack of storage?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. As I stated last week, the province is looking into ways where they can help find storage. One of those ways we are looking into, are the plants (Interruptions) with some of the . . .

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister doesn't understand the crisis. There is a chance the Allen's plant may reopen in December but there is no guarantee of a buyer and no guarantee that the one remaining plant will continue with the 24 hour production. Farmers in the Valley are worried some of their crop will be thrown out. What has this minister done to find out the impact on Valley apple farmers of the loss of the Allen's plant and the lack of storage?

MR. FAGE: I thank the honourable member for his question. As I stated last week, the government is concerned certainly about storage for apples and we have talked to a number of growers with other crops that, because of drought relief, may have storage. Those possibilities are being explored.

I would also remind the member that it is a private company that has gone bankrupt and it is the parent company, Sunkist, in Ontario. Certainly we are prepared to look at situations to help them, as soon as the company is back in operation. Again, the member must remember that a private enterprise owns the plant in the Annapolis Valley, Mr. Speaker.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I remind the minister he said last week there was storage and there are a lot of private companies that carry out business in this province that the government helps. The minister has stated on more than one occasion that he thinks that value added is important to any industry and value added is necessary here. Apple

[Page 2200]

farmers are getting one-quarter of one cent a pound for apples, they lost a key piece of infrastructure and face the prospect of having some of their crop composted.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: My question to the minister, why don't you recognize this growing threat to the Valley family farms and take action to avert the crisis?

MR. FAGE: I thank again the honourable member for his inquiries. As the honourable member knows, certainly it is an absolutely bumper crop, as he has stated, 2.7 million pounds. The storages are full, juice is being prepared as fast as it can be for the market. As the honourable member has stated on many occasions, he is not in favour of government getting involved in handing out subsidies or other programs. So certainly ensuring that the crop, as much as possible, can be processed is what the department is doing. Producers are out there looking after the majority of that themselves, as they should be, Mr. Speaker.

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

ECON. DEV. - DEPT.: DIRECTION - REVEAL

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Economic Development. In estimates, and recently in the media, the minister has been pleading for support for his budget. His pleas seem to be falling on deaf ears around the Cabinet Table as the Minister of Finance appears to be pulling the strings on the advice of the metro chamber of commerce, so there is very little room for the minister's input.

Mr. Speaker, this Party promised to streamline the Department of Economic Development so it focuses on infrastructure, training and marketing, rather than simply passing out grants, unless, of course, the metro chamber of commerce deems otherwise.

Mr. Speaker, could the minister explain to the House what the real direction of his department is, given the mixed messages sent out by himself, the Finance Minister and the Premier?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the question. Obviously we have committed to a total program review and that is being undertaken. What we see this as is an opportunity to look at how, in fact, government supports business in this province and everything is under review. When I made the comments around the budget, what I indicated was that the only way we can hope, as a government and as a province, to get back on our feet financially is if we look at ways in which to grow the revenue side of the budget. We can't simply cut ourselves prosperity.

[Page 2201]

In light of that, we are looking at any new ideas and any existing ideas that work well. We are coming to terms with what we will do with a new, streamlined Department of Economic Development, so every program within that department is under review at this time and we will move forward accordingly.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has made it clear that the only businesses that count in this province are located in Halifax, and that they alone will decide which businesses deserve incentives and which do not. That means that Annapolis, Yarmouth, Amherst and Sydney will have to look after themselves because this government has no interest in these regions.

Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary to the minister is, it is an absolute disgrace that this government continues to pit one region of this province against the other. Could the Minister of Economic Development now enlighten this House as to why he and his department are not being listened to when it comes to an economic development strategy for all of Nova Scotia?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member opposite that in fact two of the initiatives undertaken by the department, shortly after the election and shortly after I was appointed minister, were to support two businesses located in two parts of rural Nova Scotia, one being the Annapolis Valley, that was Britex. We undertook the commitment to support that business because it was a good investment and sustained 250 jobs. The second initiative was one that took place in Arichat. It involved putting funds forward to support the aquaculture industry, Rainbow Group, both of which are good investments and which we believe will sustain jobs in rural Nova Scotia. So the Department of Economic Development, as the member, the former minister as he likes to remind us so often, has about 80 per cent of its business plans involving rural Nova Scotia. (Applause)

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, more reviews I guess. My final supplementary to the minister is simply this, Mr. Minister, why are you and the government not consulting with anybody regarding future development initiatives in this province other than the Halifax Metro Chamber of Commerce? Are they taking over the governance of this province?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, to keep it short, we are entertaining discussions with businesses located all over this province, whether it is metro, Cape Breton, industrial Cape Breton, Yarmouth, Digby or Annapolis. So we are reviewing every business proposal that is put forward to the department.

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

The time has expired for Question Period.

[Page 2202]

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: I will be back tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable New Democratic Party House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, before I call the order of business, Opposition Members' Business, I would like to introduce in the west gallery a friend to members on all sides of this House. I am sure you know the gentleman very well, Guy Brown, the former Liberal member for Cumberland South, a friend to all. I think it was 24 years or more that he served his constituents in this province and I would like him to stand and receive the usual welcome from us all. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable New Democratic Party House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, another introduction if I may, I would like to introduce a constituent of mine, a gentleman who lives in Lower Sackville - Mr. Bruce DeVenne. He is known of course to most members, if not all members, of this House and we welcome him here as he listens to the debate. (Applause)

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable New Democratic Party House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 454.

Res. No. 454, re Health - Hepatitis C: Promises Meaningless - Cease - notice given Nov. 3/99 - (Mr. D. Dexter)

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on the resolution that I introduced on Wednesday, November 3rd, the operative clause of which reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that this Premier stop making meaningless promises and do as he has stated he would do and deliver on his commitment to hepatitis C sufferers."

Mr. Speaker, the picture painted by history is by and large a mosaic of decisions that are made by governments. Today I want to ask the members of this Legislature to reflect on what picture will be painted by the history of government decision-making in respect to the sufferers of hepatitis C. Will history record that at a time of need the government acted to offer the best of humanity to these people? Will there be leadership in the extension of compassion? Will we have acted swiftly, not only with understanding but with action? Will

[Page 2203]

we be proud of a record of compensation and compassion? Will we have taken the honourable and clear course under difficult circumstances? Will we have achieved the legitimate aim of responsible government in delivering to those in our charge justice?

Or, Mr. Speaker, will the government fail not only those who have contracted this disease but our society by absenting ourselves from duty when we are called to serve? Will we leave those so affected in despair? Will we desert them and their families and their loved ones? Will we paint a stark and desolate picture? Is this to be Guernica? Who will account for our role if we sit idly by today?

[4:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I heard some members question what Guernica was, and I will try to recount the story as best I can from memory. Guernica was a painting painted by Pablo Picasso that portrayed the destruction of a town in Spain. For many years, it adorned the history books of this province. What happened was one day a young soldier attended at the studios of Mr. Picasso, he saw Guernica and he said to Mr. Picasso, oh, you did that. Mr. Picasso was reputed to have said no, sir, you did that.

Mr. Speaker, that is where we are left today. The picture that is being painted is being painted by this government, so I thought it would be a good opportunity for us in this Legislature today to remind ourselves of some of the things that the government members or former members of the government caucus in this House said in respect to this issue, because I think it is important that the government members remember the commitments that were made by those who speak on their behalf.

Mr. Speaker, on May 22, 1998, Mr. George Moody, the member who served in this House for many years, well known to yourself and to others in this House, introduced Resolution No. 10 in which he said, "Whereas the Liberal Government continues to sacrifice dignity, fairness, justice and what is right to concerns over the bottom line when time and time again it found cause and threw millions at wasteful expenditures, including compensation for wrongfully dismissed bureaucrats; Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government take the lead and notify the federal government and other provinces that a just settlement shall be worked out with hepatitis C victims tainted by Canada's deadly blood system and further that it acknowledge that the excuses that it has used to date are an insult to the intelligence of Nova Scotians who want and expect their government to be accountable, just and compassionate.".

Mr. Speaker, truer words could not have been spoken by that member. It is ironic, because on that same day, the Premier, in response in speaking on the Speech from the Throne of the former Liberal Government said, "The government's failure to recognize and address the plight of hepatitis C sufferers means it fails on both counts: on compassion and fairness.". Those are his words, not mine, those are the words of the Premier.

[Page 2204]

The Premier had occasion to ask the then Minister of Health questions with respect to the compensation package and the status of that package in respect to hepatitis C sufferers. He asked, "Has the Premier instructed his Minister of Health, his provincial official, to look at a broader application of compensation to the victims of hepatitis C who received that hepatitis C virus from transfusions here in Nova Scotia? Have you instructed your Minister of Health to take a broader look at compensation of victims here in Nova Scotia?"

Mr. Speaker, obviously, he was concerned at that time, in his role as the then-Leader of the Third Party, as a physician, as a person engaging in the public life of this province, about the treatment of people suffering from hepatitis C. Just a short while later, on June 11th, the Premier had cause to bring forward a resolution in which he said:

"Whereas Prime Minister Chretien exhibits a complete lack of understanding of the issue of hepatitis C compensation; and

Whereas Judge Krever recommended all who are infected by the hepatitis C virus through tainted blood or blood products be compensated; and

Whereas the Minister of Health still fails to accept responsibility for all victims;" .

The operative clause read, Mr. Speaker,

"Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health join the growing lobby to negotiate with Ottawa a fair and just compensation package including all victims.".

Barely a week later, in this House, the Health Critic for the Progressive Conservative caucus stood on his feet and he introduced a resolution in which he said that, " . . . the Government of Canada and the Government of Nova Scotia have consistently refused to do what is right, fair and compassionate and expand the hepatitis C compensation program to cover all victims of tainted blood.". He went on to say that, " . . . the Minister of Health has repeatedly used the excuse that expanding the programs would require the province to take millions of dollars out of existing health programs. Then he went on to say in his resolution, "Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately do what is right by agreeing to expand the compensation package to those who contracted tainted blood before 1986 and after 1990.".

Mr. Speaker, I think Mr. Moody was well-known for his compassion in dealing with these matters and that he demonstrated that in taking the lead as part of government at an earlier date in dealing with those who had contracted HIV. It was a position of leadership at that time and we acknowledged it and we acknowledge it today and we encourage the government to do the same with respect to hepatitis C sufferers.

[Page 2205]

Later in the month, June 29th to be exact, the Premier again introduced a resolution in which he said:

"Whereas the number of Nova Scotians who contracted hepatitis C through tainted blood is significantly below original projections; and

Whereas the reduction in the number of victims who qualify for the original hepatitis C compensation package is a compelling reason to extend the compensation package to all victims of tainted blood and products; and

Whereas the most compelling reasons for extending the compensation package are fairness, justice and compassion;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government immediately do what is right, fair and just and open the compensation package to Nova Scotians outside the 1986 to 1990 time-frame.".

These are all good words, Mr. Speaker. These are all noble attestations. These are what the people of Nova Scotia believe is the right thing to do for hepatitis C sufferers. So, at this time, having taken only a small tour through the words of the members of the Government caucus and previous members, I hearken back to the analogy that I started with, the painting that will be painted by history. I say to the government members, the canvas stands before you, it is blurred, not blank. What picture will emerge? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise from my seat this afternoon to speak to Resolution No. 454, which asks us today to debate this government's commitment to hepatitis C sufferers.

Mr. Speaker, I want to assure you and all members of this Legislature, all sufferers of hepatitis C and, indeed, all Nova Scotians, that we are making every effort to address the needs of people in this province who have contracted hepatitis C. For example, although the amount may not be sufficient, I would like to note that the budget, which we have passed this year, does contain $1.5 million to be paid to victims of hepatitis C in the 1999-2000 budget year.

Mr. Speaker, as I am sure everybody can appreciate, this is a challenging and complex issue, but I can assure everybody it is one that this government is working to address. It is not only a challenging and complex issue for us in government, it is also a complex and challenging issue for the individuals in this province who have contracted hepatitis C. We have heard from many of them and a number of those have outlined their personal challenges and their fears about the disease.

[Page 2206]

The real responsibility for those who have hepatitis C rests with the federal government, which has failed to meet its responsibility to extend the compensation period to cover those people infected outside the 1986 to 1990 period. Despite the fact that we, as a government, have made our position clear to the federal government, further help has not been forthcoming. Unfortunately, this government's capacity to extend compensation outside the window, without the appropriate federal cost-sharing, is beyond our current fiscal capacity. Addressing the needs of persons with hepatitis C is a shared responsibility between the federal and the provincial governments. But the federal government, which has the larger responsibility has, thus far, failed to accept the responsibility which we feel it should. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, we use every opportunity to continue to remind the federal government of its responsibility and that it must assume it.

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to hear, in September, that persons who were infected between January 1, 1986 and July 1, 1990 will be individually compensated in the very near future. What are we doing on the provincial level? Compensation is one issue, but it is not the whole story. There is another issue that has to be addressed and it is the responsibility of this government to provide persons with hepatitis C the very best care that our health care system can offer. This is yet another reason to support this government's current review of existing programs and the review of the health care facilities currently being concluded by my department.

It is of the utmost importance, of course, Mr. Speaker, that we ensure people with hepatitis C are getting the services they need in the most appropriate manner. But we recognize that adequate and good medical care is not only necessary for people who have contracted hepatitis C, but for all people who are chronically ill.

[4:30 p.m.]

We have and we are making and will continue to make every effort to be fair to all Nova Scotians. All Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker, must be assured that they have access to the health care services they need. This is the direction our government is taking by introducing nine district health authorities, as we have introduced earlier this month. We believe that this step will help to ensure that adequate care can be given to all Nova Scotians.

The difference between district health authorities and regional health boards is that the district health authorities will represent smaller populations than the regional health boards. Their prime responsibility will be to integrate the delivery of health care services at the local level. The services requiring integration include community health, health promotion, illness prevention, acute or hospital care, emergency care, home care and long-term care. This new approach, Mr. Speaker, will make access much better for all individuals who require a range of health services, including people who have hepatitis C. In addition, under the new structure, community health boards will be legislated to assess local needs and these will then be presented to the district health authorities.

[Page 2207]

Mr. Speaker, the overall changes that we will make in the health care system in this province will benefit persons with hepatitis C and they will benefit all people who need care. I would like to note at this time that, in 1998, the federal government announced a $300 million program extending over 20 years to provide care, not cash, for Canadians who acquired hepatitis C from tainted blood prior to 1986. Nova Scotia's share of this is expected to be $6 million. We are currently identifying the appropriate means within the health care system to house this initiative. Before long, I hope to inform this House of the progress being made. We believe that the provincial health sector initiatives that I have outlined, together with the care investment from Ottawa, will help to ensure persons infected with hepatitis C have their health care needs met. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could just ask, we are a little bit off the time schedule, when my time will be up on this resolution? Could I ask that?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes. The honourable member's time will expire at 4:51 p.m.

DR. SMITH: I just have an extra five minutes there. I guess some of the other members didn't use their times. That is what I was going by, whether we want to allot that time. That is 13 minutes from now.

MR. SPEAKER: No. The honourable Minister of Health did not take his 13 minutes and thus I have added it. If you want the five minutes . . .

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. If everybody doesn't use the allotted time, then everybody has allotted time of up to 13 minutes and what time they don't use at the end of the order, then somebody else, of course, can speak. It is not added on to any particular member.

MR. SPEAKER: I apologize then. The honourable member for Dartmouth East would then have 13 minutes.

DR. SMITH: Can you help me in the addition, Mr. Speaker, as to when that might be? Those digital clocks make it difficult for someone my age.

MR. SPEAKER: It will be 4:48 p.m., honourable member.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to be sure and I didn't want to try to take more time than was allotted to me. This is an important issue and I really want to thank the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour for introducing it. I also want to compliment him for his presentation. I have never done this before in the House. I thought the honourable member

[Page 2208]

not only had good content, but he delivered it well. As people say, it will read well back home. That is what they used to say to me when I was able to do those kind of initiatives.

I will compliment the honourable minister on entering the debate today, but he is still blaming the feds. The programs are under review and somehow the district health boards, the nine boards as opposed to the four boards, will make some improvement. We have a province of less than one million people, Mr. Speaker, and we have had a trace-back and look-back program that Nova Scotia has led Canada in, I think, along with one or two other provinces, but surely to goodness, identifying persons with hepatitis C can be identified in a province of less than one million people without breaking the region up.

My concern is basically that the money that is going to cost extra for the bureaucracy within the regional health districts will, in fact, take away from the program for hepatitis C, so that certainly is my consideration and I don't see that as being a real positive. Any initiatives that are needed for hepatitis C certainly will not depend on a further breakdown of the system, but we pretty well have that system in place at this juncture.

Resolution No. 454, Mr. Speaker - I say it is a very important point and that is to ask the Premier to stop making meaningless promises. He has made 243 during the election and there is no question that in the days when the Premier and his government were in Opposition, things were different. The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour had mentioned that and I didn't want to dwell on that particularly although I do have a few references to that particular matter.

The very real questions I was asked as Minister of Health of the Liberal Government, on many occasions, were on a whole host of issues; issues ranging from the allocation of long-term beds, to more services for the brain injured, to more services to those with autism and of course the issue that is before us today, compensating hepatitis C victims who were infected during that period outside the window of 1986 to 1990, were asked daily.

I think it is very important to state, Mr. Speaker, before I continue to speak, on the "Therefore be it resolved . . . " part issued directly, what exactly has been done in the area of compensating those infected with hepatitis C, to date? The compensation of hepatitis C victims was indeed, both during my time as minister and others who preceded me, was a large part of our agenda. It occupied a lot of the ministerial meetings of Health Ministers across this country, along with the federal minister.

As a province we spent a great deal of time negotiating a compensation program that was as fair as it could possibly be. Victims of hepatitis C deserve nothing less. Nova Scotia had a large part in dealing with other provinces on this issue, I believe, Mr. Speaker. I mentioned earlier our look-back, trace-back program that started in 1997, approximately 14,000 letters were sent out to Nova Scotians who had received blood or blood products during that period. Two hundred people tested positive during that time and I know the

[Page 2209]

testing is ongoing. I am not sure what the exact numbers are to date. Nova Scotia was, and still is, ahead of other jurisdictions in identifying those infected, so I think the resources, put in the right spots and right places, will lead to results in identifying those infected with hepatitis C.

Mr. Speaker, when we were in government we were pleased to negotiate this final settlement, as was mentioned. We knew and know it still remains to be a long and difficult wait for those who have been infected. I think most would agree that a $1.118 billion settlement was a reasonable settlement. Some disagreed and I realize that. This would be available to those infected between January 1, 1986, through July 1, 1990. These dates are significant, as most members would know, during this time-frame the testing procedure for blood was available, it could have identified hepatitis C, and was not used. Any person would see that given the blatant neglect, people who received blood products during that time-frame deserve to be compensated.

Once again, a Liberal Government provincially and a Liberal Government federally were left to deal with the mess left over by the previous Tory Governments. None of us can be proud of the whole issue. I don't want to single out groups. I think particularly that there were things that should have been done and good people were doing bad things during that time. It was an effort that none of us in the history of this country can take much pride in.

I believe the offer is flexible by compensating those infected based on the severity of their illnesses and allowing for increased benefits should their health decline in the future. We also agreed that governments would not administer this agreement, but that a third party would set up procedures and administer the program. The resolution before us today is here because people infected outside of that window of 1986 to 1990 feel that they should be compensated as well. There is no question that every person who has contracted hepatitis C, or any other disease for that matter, must have our compassion.

It was incumbent upon all of us to offer them the best the health care system has to offer; the minister has alluded to that himself. In 1998, the federal government announced a $300 million program over 20 years to provide enhanced medical care and drugs for Canadians who acquired hepatitis C from tainted blood in the pre-1986 era. While not part of the negotiated compensation agreement, these people were not forgotten.

Enough about the Liberal Government's fairness in this issue, what about the Premier's word that is being questioned here today, which is the purpose of this debate following the resolution? This Premier is on record as saying that he would unilaterally negotiate a compensation package with the federal government and not be bound by what was negotiated by Nova Scotia, our government and all the other provinces.

[Page 2210]

The question to the Premier then. He is not in the Chamber and I know I probably shouldn't mention that, but I think we all realize the Premier is busy and can be excused. Is he a man of his word? Is he a person of his word? Has he begun these negotiations? Maybe the minister could check with him to see if he has. He certainly committed. If he has, what have been the results to date? We have a right to know, I believe. People who suffer from hepatitis C have a right to know. How much additional money has he acquired? When will he honour his commitment? I think those are valid questions to ask this government.

Perhaps the Premier wasn't completely aware. Even though he had at one time worked in the health care system, it seems that he is not aware of that system. Was he completely aware of the magnitude of this particular issue, the hepatitis C infection? Perhaps he found that the previous negotiated settlement had been fair and has changed his mind. We would like to hear some of those particular concerns addressed.

Regardless of whether this is the case or not, it is incumbent upon the Premier to let these people know if he is truly a man of his word, if he is a person of his word or, confirm what appears to be the case, he was just saying what he was saying to get elected. It is the antics that we saw from the Premier and other Cabinet Ministers when they were in Opposition that adds fuel to the cynicism people hold towards politicians today. I think the member for Kings North mentioned that, going door-to-door and finding the cynicism that people have. These are concrete examples of why that is so, and I think it is a concern to all of us.

A promise is a promise is a promise. Indeed, I hope all Nova Scotians are watching this debate and can share our thoughts and our concerns. I think that we will see a picture of our Premier that was completely different. When he was in Opposition, vote for me because I will deal with your issue and your issue, as well as your issue, but now today we see an attitude whereby your issues are not important. I got what I wanted, he says, out of my hollow promises, now leave me alone; that is what he is saying to the hepatitis C victims.

[4:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, quite a sad statement to make, but a very true case. The people of Nova Scotia will soon be aware, if they are not already, that their Premier was willing to say anything to get elected. The good people of Nova Scotia deserve much better than that. I particularly have been offended to think that the people could be fooled during election promises on what I call the big lie on health care, that we can take $46 million out of administration of health care and fix the system that we, as a government, broke. That has been a very sensitive point with me. I try not to be too personal in politics but I must say that it is one that has bothered me, the fact that it was a good line, it was a Bay Street line, I am sure, that a public relations firm dreamed up. It was a great vote-catching line, they had us. We were snookered, you might say, and I think it went a long way to really getting this government elected.

[Page 2211]

Now that Premier is going to have to answer for that, Mr. Speaker. He is going to have to answer for how he has misled. He has said in a letter here, Mr. DeVenne, if he doesn't mind and this is a public document now, it has been circulated, but a letter to him from John Hamm, the then Leader of the Third Party, on March 6, 1998. I quote from the letter from John Hamm to Bruce DeVenne in Lower Sackville. "I believe the Province of Nova Scotia, the federal Government and the Red Cross have a moral obligation to resolve this issue without further delay . . . Failing a speedy resolution . . .", it goes on to say, ". . . we are fully prepared to demonstrate the same kind of leadership in resolving the concerns of Hepatitis C victims as we demonstrated in responding to the concerns of AIDS victims."

It ends by saying, "The Progressive Conservative Party remains committed to finding a fair, just and speedy settlement to this long-standing issue.". Shame, shame, Mr. Minister, and shame on your Premier. They have deceived the people of Nova Scotia. A review is not a good enough answer. When are the people who are suffering from hepatitis C going to see the promises of your government kept?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, when I think about this whole issue of hepatitis C and people who have been affected, through no fault of their own, I feel very sad and I feel a strong sense of responsibility that we have to keep this issue in front of the public and we have to work very hard to make sure that this government does the right thing.

When I was a student in social work there was a book we were all required to read, called The Living Gift of Blood, by a British sociologist whose name is Richard Titmuss, the father of the welfare state in Britain. This book was about the different ways in which you can provide programs and the different choices countries have made in the provision of universal programs. The way he demonstrated some differences, and the differences he looked at were Canada and the United States and the U.K., he used the blood systems in these three countries. He demonstrated that the American system of giving blood was one based on a for-profit, people went and sold their blood. It turned out to be a system in which there were many more problems than systems based on not-for-profit.

I remember what an enormous impact this book had on me, in terms of looking at the different ways you approached social programs. When it became known in this country, primarily through the Krever Inquiry that our system had failed so profoundly and that people's lives were destroyed as a result of the failure of a blood system that I, and many others in this country, had placed our absolute faith and trust in. Our faith was shaken. It was shaken not only in our blood system, but it was really shaken, I think, in terms of our governments, both federally and at the provincial level. Governments who have a responsibility in terms of regulating and ensuring the protection of the public interest and the public interest in health care, something that, I think, Canadians hold in the most high regard, probably in a higher degree of regard than any other system, any other service that is

[Page 2212]

provided. So to find out that people's lives, children, men, women, fathers, mothers, sisters, daughters, that their lives have been profoundly affected and destroyed, was a real shock.

I think that this is why, Mr. Speaker, it is so sad and it is such a shame that this Premier took an opportunity to play politics with such a profoundly important issue and now is prepared to back away from commitments and from promises that were made. If you don't mean it, you shouldn't say it. That is the bottom line. If you don't mean it, you shouldn't say it, particularly with respect to people's lives, their hopes, their dreams and their aspirations and their health.

Mr. Speaker, let's be very clear about what the nature of this disease that people contacted, this virus that people contacted through the blood system, means for people. People have had to leave employment. They are no longer able to support themselves, to pay their mortgages and in some cases, they are unable to access medication. The minister talks about how this is a federal responsibility. Well, with all due respect, we can split hairs. There have been communities, I think about the Inuit community in the northern territories, communities that have been decimated because provincial governments and federal governments have played this game, this jurisdictional game. When people's lives hang in the balance, it is not acceptable to play a jurisdictional game when people's lives are hanging in the balance. Not at all.

What we need, we require a demonstration and action right now from a new government based on some commitments that they made in the past. Hansard is full of these commitments. I have here what the former member for Kings West had to say on a bill I introduced last year, An Act to Guarantee Equality of Treatment for all Sufferers of Hepatitis C. George Moody said in this House, on this floor, that it was said that we actually had to have such a debate on a bill, that this legislation had to come forward because this province should be doing - and that former minister there - what is fair and what is right for people in this province. We shouldn't need legislation to do it.

Yet, here we are, this new government sounds precisely like the former government. The imperative that is defining how they are going to approach this group of people who, through no fault of their own, are in dire predicaments, is exactly the same approach that the former government had taken. Their concern is fiscal imperatives, not moral imperatives. Their concern is numerical imperatives, not human imperatives and this is unacceptable.

Can you imagine the people in this country who placed their faith in a publicly-regulated blood system that we took a lot of pride in and contacted a deadly virus that profoundly changed their lives and the lives of those around them and we split hairs about jurisdiction and about legal liability, the dates, you know, when can a group of people reasonably be expected to get into a courtroom and prove culpability or liability on the part of the federal government.

[Page 2213]

This is not acceptable in a humane and civilized society. Government's role in a society is to actually bring some measure of civilizing approaches to public policy and not hide behind legal technical arguments that allow them to avoid their fundamental responsibility which is to respond to the needs of people, particularly people who are victimized in systems that they had no control over, which is very much the case in this situation.

The minister says we are going to provide a good health care system for the victims of hepatitis C, that is going to be our response here in Nova Scotia. I say to the minister we should be providing a good health care system to every Nova Scotian and this is not enough for people who suffer from hepatitis C. They have the right to the finest health care system that we can provide, but they have a right to more than that. They deserve more than a good health care system. They have lost much more here than their health. They have lost their ability to participate fully in society. They have lost the ability to work, save and plan for the futures of their children. They have lost those abilities and their families will be penalized in perpetuity as a result of something that occurred to them that they had no control over.

We have an obligation to look at that. There is absolutely no reason why this province cannot take some steps in dealing with its own citizens and as they did in Ontario, Mr. Speaker, there is no reason why we cannot do that. This province once had a Health Minister who had the tenacity to break with other Health Ministers and provide compensation to HIV/AIDS people. I think the result of that very courageous and, frankly, humane and highly principled action, rather than cosying up in a deal that is cooked to limit the financial obligations of provinces and the federal governments earned that particular Health Minister the esteem of people not only in this province but right across the country. One would hope that somewhere on the government benches there might be one or more members who would bring to bear some pressure on this Premier to follow through on the obligations that he has made, the commitments that he has made to people who have been infected with HIV.

Mr. Speaker, it will be two years next week since Mr. Justice Krever gave us his decision following a fairly lengthy inquiry that I would assume that many members of this House would have watched some portions of that inquiry on the C-PAC Channel. To me, it is unbelievable that this period of time has passed, the number of debates we have had and resolutions we have had in here with respect to this really important and serious issue and yet not one thing has happened to address the concerns of this group.

[5:00 p.m.]

It is not right, Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely unacceptable that government of whatever political stripe - first the Liberal Government and now the Conservative Government - status quo, are dragging their feet, are not prepared to do anything. This is a shame; it is a disgrace and I think that this is an issue I can guarantee you we will be raising again. This is not the last time you are hearing from us on this issue. (Applause.)

[Page 2214]

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

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, although I was not a member of this House at the time when this topic was on the agenda of this House, certainly I did follow it closely through the news.

I would say if it were not for the fact that it is such a tragedy and such a tragic event, we would probably all laugh out loud here in this House having heard the comments from the former Minister of Health, when he and his colleagues in Ottawa and his friends in the Liberal Government in Ottawa could easily have resolved this issue a number of years ago. (Interruptions.) Mr. Speaker, the members opposite know very well without the assistance and without the support of the federal government, there is absolutely nothing we could do. They know very well the condition our books are in, and the condition of the finances of this province. (Interruptions.)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If you expect to receive some respect when you have the floor, extend it to other members when they have the floor.

MR. BARNET: Thank you. Nova Scotia cannot afford to extend compensation to those outside of the window of the 1986 to 1990 time period without the federal government increasing its support; that is clear and that is concise, Mr. Speaker.

Every person who has contracted hepatitis C, as with other diseases, must have our compassion and we do give that. First and foremost, we must provide them with the best health care system that we can offer. This government has taken steps to improve the existing health care system as we found it. We know the condition the health care system is in and it is primarily as a result of the fact that this government is left with a $496 million deficit. It is an incredible amount of money. (Interruptions.)

Unfortunately, this government's capacity to extend compensation without appropriate federal cost-sharing is beyond our current financial capacity. Addressing the needs of persons with hepatitis C is a shared responsibility between the federal and the provincial government. The federal government has a larger responsibility which it has so far not accepted; the federal Liberal Government has a larger responsibility which it has so far not accepted. That is something, Mr. Speaker, that the members opposite should pay attention to . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable New Democratic Party House Leader.

[Page 2215]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 594.

Res. No. 594 - Devco - Sale: Bill C-11 - Delay Demand - notice given Nov.15/99 - (Mr. F. Corbett)

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to lead off debate today on Resolution No. 594, introduced by my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, who will be batting clean-up today, and if I may it refers to Bill C-11, a bill that is before the House of Commons as we speak, to authorize the sale of Devco. The concern is that it is being fast-tracked through the House of Commons. There are members in the House now trying to slow that down, trying to provide more time. What the member for Cape Breton Centre asks, through his resolution, is for members of this House to support the efforts of those MPs to slow down debate and passage of Bill C-11, particularly in order to give coal miners a chance to challenge the decision in court.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk for a few minutes, if I may, about why Bill C-11 is there in the first place. Back in January of this year, the federal government went to Sydney and they announced the decision to shut down the Cape Breton coal company, Devco, within a period of less than one year. They decided, at that point, that they had had enough and that they were going to withdraw all of their resources from that Crown Corporation. Since then, what have they done? Since then, have they held consultations with the people of Cape Breton? Have they negotiated with the miners about the pension severance package? Have they talked with the communities and with the families about how best to deal with the replacement of that economic activity? No, they haven't.

They set up here, a few weeks ago, an economic panel, to be frank, filled with Liberal hacks that is supposed to consult with Cape Bretoners about what is going to happen with the $68 million allocated over a period of five years, and they are doing that over a number of weeks. There were no coal miners' there, no coal miners families. There was nobody there who had any direct connection with that industry and, yet, Cape Bretoners and industrial Cape Bretoners and others are supposed to flock to this panel with very little opportunity to prepare and give this panel some of their wisdom.

I will tell you that regardless of the lack of planning, regardless of the fact that the composition of that committee does not reflect the people and the industry most affected, people are participating because Cape Bretoners understand exactly what it is that is happening here and even though they have no reason to trust this federal government, they are participating in order to try to have a say on how this decision unfolds.

[Page 2216]

It is important to go back to when Devco was originally established, Mr. Speaker. There was a section in there called Section 17 which says, and I will refer to a couple parts of it, that before closing or substantially reducing the production of coal from any coal mine operated by it, the corporation shall ensure that all reasonable measures have been adopted by the corporation, either alone or in conjunction with the Government of Canada or of Nova Scotia, to reduce, as far as possible, any unemployment or economic hardship that can be expected to result. Well, frankly, that hasn't happened.

You hear the feds and others talk about the $1.6 billion that the federal government says it has pumped into Cape Breton since 1967, that has been spent in Cape Breton on Devco, as though it has been a gift to Cape Bretoners. The good graces of the federal government said, over the years we are just going to give them $1.6 billion. The reality is that the federal government has taken back an estimated $6 billion in taxes as a result of that investment in Cape Breton, as a result of the direct work of those miners, as a result of the taxes paid by the businesses that supply Devco, as a result of the spin-off effects of that enterprise; $6 billion. Not a bad return, I would suggest, and far from the charitable donation the federal government likes to suggest and other Members of Parliament from other parts of the country, Reformers and others, who like to suggest that it is time we left Cape Bretoners to fend for themselves.

I will tell you what, this is not the way they deal with the idea of an automotive plant shutting down in Sainte Thérèse, Quebec, Mr. Speaker. That is not the way the federal government responds. The federal government rushes in there and gets together with the Deputy Premier and they go down to the United States to speak to the president of that automobile company, the manufacturer, in order to try to do whatever they need to save that enterprise, to save those jobs in that community in Quebec. What does the federal government do here in Canada with respect to Cape Breton? They say, that is enough. We have had enough. We are going to walk away. (Interruption)

The member for Victoria says it is because there is no representation in the federal Cabinet in Cape Breton. There was. From 1993, when the Liberals took over in Ottawa, one of the most powerful - as he said himself - MPs at the Cabinet Table was from Cape Breton. He is the same guy who said, when he was in Opposition, that the Tories were betraying Cape Breton and that if the Liberals were elected they were going to solve all the problems, they were going to start treating Cape Bretoners with respect.

Do you know what happened? Starting in 1993, Mr. Speaker, the Liberals kept on the same track that the federal Tories were on, that was to get out of the coal business, to get out of Cape Breton. It is shameful what that Liberal representative didn't do, let alone did, with respect to those particular decisions. Do you know what happened? Cape Bretoners sent that MP a message in 1997 about how they felt they had been treated, relative to the issue of the coal industry.

[Page 2217]

So whether there is a Cabinet Minister there from Cape Breton or not, the fact is that the powers that be in Ottawa have decided they are going to cut Cape Breton loose and that is shameful. Bill C-11 is just another step in that process, without negotiating with the miners about the pension and severance package, without a fair and reasonable discussion with members of this community, without, I would suggest, a fair and reasonable discussion with the Government of the Province of Nova Scotia, the federal government has introduced a piece of legislation which they are trying to get through the House of Commons as quickly as possible, so they can further wipe their hands of their responsibilities in Cape Breton. I say shame on them, shame.

One of the reasons why we have so many people my age - 42 to 50 - who have put in a number of years but don't have enough in order to qualify for pension is because when Devco was originally set up in 1967, they thought that the coal industry was dying and they had to begin to organize a way to get out of that, to organize some economic activity in order to replace the coal industry.

Do you know what happened? The world came knocking on Cape Breton's door in the early 1970's. The world was gripped by the throat by the OPEC countries who said, we want a greater price for our oil and we are going to cut down on production. So the world came to the door of Cape Bretoners and said, we want your coal. So, all of a sudden, coal was the greatest thing since sliced bread in this country, Mr. Speaker. They boosted production, they boosted employment, they sucked all the eligible men into the pits, in order to make sure that there was enough coal being provided to this country and to energy producers around the world, so they wouldn't have to pay the high price of Mideast oil.

When the world decides, or when Canada decides they have had enough of Cape Breton, what do they do? They have had enough of coal, they think they can just walk away. They think they can just say to Cape Bretoners, well, it is time you pulled yourselves up by your own bootstraps; we have been looking after you long enough. They are treating us like a basket case and it is unfair, Mr. Speaker. Cape Bretoners don't like it, I don't like it and surely members of this Legislature don't like it. It is time we stood up and told Ottawa that the way we are being treated is simply not good enough.

Mr. Speaker, I urge all members of this House to speak as clearly and as definitively as they possibly can about what the federal government is proposing under Bill C-11. They want to walk away from their responsibility, the coal industry

[5:15 p.m.]

We have to make some decisions about the future of the coal industry and the economy in Cape Breton, and the federal government has a responsibility to take a mature and reasonable and responsible position in those discussions. Negotiate with the miners on the severance and pension package, make it a better package, make sure that the economic

[Page 2218]

activity that is generated to replace the coal industry makes sense and is long lasting, ensure that if we continue to develop coal, and I think we should, it is an important natural resource, that we do it in a way that best benefits the community and the people of Cape Breton. Let's look at all options, including community ownership of that resource.

Those are only a few of the options that we should be able to consider, and the federal government should be forced to stand, like Cape Bretoners have, to stand the gap for so many years. They should be forced to stand with Cape Bretoners because they are Canadians too. The federal government has no business to walk away.

I thank the member. My time is drawing near. I want to say that I appreciate the member for Cape Breton Centre for bringing this important issue forward. He and his federal colleagues in Cape Breton are debating this issue as we speak, in Ottawa. I hope other members of this House, from all Parties, will stand up and say how reprehensible it is that the federal government is trying to wash their hands of Cape Breton through Bill C-11. Let's send a message to Ottawa that they can't ignore. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to join the debate this afternoon on Resolution No. 594. The resolution has a number of whereas clauses in it dealing with, ". . . a protective clause in the current Devco legislation that requires the government must take every reasonable measure to ensure Devco workers are looked after; and

Whereas the Devco unions currently have a court challenge based on the protective clause;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join with Peter Mancini, MP for Sydney-Victoria, in demanding that the federal government delay Bill C-11 until the coal miners have their chance to challenge the decision in court.".

Mr. Speaker, I guess I wish to speak to the resolution rather than a court challenge, as the resolution reads. I think it is extremely important that we think long and hard about our personal stance on where the issue of Devco and the issues of communities in Cape Breton are leading. Since 1967, when Devco was first formed, certainly tax dollars, Canadian and Nova Scotian tax dollars and primarily Canadian, have been invested in the Devco venture. That enterprise has had about $1.6 billion invested into the economy to allow the Devco project to proceed through the subsequent years up to this present date.

As noted by other speakers, there has been a return of about $6 billion to the federal government. Certainly through those years, the mine and the coal industry has been a huge benefit, not only to Nova Scotia but to every community in Cape Breton, to many of the families there, and many of the members in this House have families, backgrounds and roots

[Page 2219]

that deal with the coal mining industry in Cape Breton and the coal mining industry in many communities in Nova Scotia.

What has taken place in the last few days, though, I think is even more disturbing as to where the federal government intends to go on a long-range plan. Yesterday's announcement of $70 million more being allocated by the federal Minister Ralph Goodale to keep Devco operating certainly was a disappointment in that there was no allocation of funds, no re-opening, as this House and members in this House have wanted to see as in the early retirement package we lobbied for, or any increase in funds related to the $68 million that was allocated for economic development to offset the closure of Devco. The $70 million seems to be allocated from the federal government as a brush from a sweeping broom.

Last year that same decision was made to get to the end of the year, and they allocated $40 million to allow that to happen.

Mr. Speaker, it seems that if in two years in the short term of operating, the federal government can easily allocate $110 million for strictly short-term operating expenses to the Devco operation and to the communities and families who so desperately need the employment in Cape Breton; then the opportunity to revisit the terms of disengagement on Devco should be easier to accomplish on behalf of the people of Cape Breton.

When you look at the early retirement package, which ironically is approximately $111 million with severance, and you look at $68 million in remediation, this $110 million in two years to keep short-term operating flowing at this operation seems to fly in the face of having the sincerity that there are not dollars available to put together a better severance package for those workers and their families. It flies in the face of a better package for the communities to offset the financial impact of the closure of Devco.

As this House knows, our government is committed to doing what we can and that is the $12 million over the four years in equal payments, but certainly those benefits are large benefits from the kind of financial resources we have to contribute, but the federal government has a huge responsibility here to this community and this one-time disengagement. Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely imperative that they do whatever they can to ensure that the communities have an opportunity to have the growth and economic prosperity as other communities have in Nova Scotia and, quite honestly, other industries they have dealt with in this region and across this country.

One only has to look to some of the packages dealing with the closure of military bases, look at the packages dealing with the closure of shipyards, of wharves, of many other investitures, the CN Yards in Moncton, New Brunswick, for instance, and the type of severance and early retirement packages that were allocated to those people who were employed by a Crown Corporation, one then begins to see the magnitude, in my view, of the

[Page 2220]

differentiation between the two that has been offered under their guidance and tutelage to the workers here in Cape Breton and the workers associated with Devco.

Mr. Speaker, that being said, it is absolutely imperative that we, as a government and representatives in this House from all political Parties, have to look to the future for the economy of Nova Scotia and the economy in Cape Breton and, primarily in this case, industrial Cape Breton. The assurance that the environment through remediation has to be properly taken care of is a federal responsibility. We must ensure that that remediation does take place, that the environment, the health and the well-being of the communities there are protected, which are a federal responsibility in connection with the remediation work with these different mine sites.

We also must certainly ensure and remind the federal government of their obligation to the health of the workers who have worked at the Devco operation throughout the years and the current workers whose health could possibly have been impaired by their employment in the coal industry. Those type of issues have to be ensured in the takeover. The other issue that I think is of absolute paramount concern is that the coal industry, Mr. Speaker, does have a future in Nova Scotia. It does have a huge future to play, I believe, as an employer in Cape Breton and the private interest that, hopefully, will come forth and tender through the Nesbitt Burns procedure, will enable men and women to continue to be employed in the coal industry. That certainly has to be part of the overall stance taken in the procedure to ensure that the future of the men and women of industrial Cape Breton is ensured because I do not think for one moment we want to assume that we are prepared and should accept that the coal mining industry should not be a part of the future and does not have an opportunity to be part of the future.

Ensuring that part of the future, again, comes back to the responsibility of the federal government in their obligations to the workers, their obligations in terms of employment and engagement of any new private developers or private contractors who would assume the coal leases and the Devco operations or assets in the future. The federal government, through their actions, must ensure that those terms are the types of terms that allow private industry to proceed and the coal industry to continue to provide long-term benefits to the people of Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, other opportunities have to be identified. A task force has been struck by the federal government, along with one representative from the provincial government, which is at this point holding consultations and public hearings throughout industrial Cape Breton on identifying the strategies, opportunities, different types of projects that can contribute to the long-term economic health and future of Cape Breton. From my perspective, as the minister responsible for Devco and its leases, I cannot over-emphasize how strongly we feel that that has to encompass all the economy of Cape Breton, how those expenditures of $80 million have to involve projects that are not short term, but projects that provide and lead to long-term opportunities for employment for the people of Cape Breton.

[Page 2221]

These projects cannot fall into the category of the expenditure of millions of dollars on very short-term make-work projects that lead to an election readiness stance. Those cannot be the options if we are to have a situation for the people of Cape Breton to provide real opportunity and allow them to use their skills, their experience, their hard-work ethic and, Mr. Speaker, their determination for their own communities to allow them economic prosperity and a future that ensures that they are partners in their own community.

When we look for a moment again at the federal government's responsibility in this role, it is imperative that the federal government have a second look at the severance packages, at the early retirement packages, for those workers with the closing of the Phalen operation because of rock falls. It only highlights how important that that is revisited by the federal government to ensure that those workers of long years service, who are already in their 40's or 50's, who have not many options at retraining or participating in the economy in other ways, that they and their families are indeed protected and that they and their families are properly taken care of for their future because their future is extremely important to the communities in Cape Breton.

Also, the federal government has a responsibility to the larger community of industrial Cape Breton, Sydney, and indeed the entire community of Cape Breton and that is to ensure that the $60 million plus the $12 million hopefully can be enhanced and that they will see the proper light and argument of all members of this Legislature, that that is not enough money to ensure proper dollars are in place and that those dollars, when they come in place, there can't be another program that is currently there diverted into those funds and saying, we have met our commitment. Those are funds that are there for the long-term economic development of the people of Cape Breton for the industrial areas in Cape Breton, as well as Cape Breton as a whole, Mr. Speaker. The coal industry will play a significant role in that future. Thank you.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour to rise and talk on Resolution No. 594 before the House today. I don't think anyone, seriously, is going to stand up here and say that they don't agree that something has to be done about the Devco situation right now. The decision to close the Devco mines is something that affects all Cape Bretoners, and we all want to see a better package for the workers and families of Devco.

[5:30 p.m.]

I would certainly applaud each and every person who has contributed in any way, and who continues to contribute to a fight with Ottawa for a fairer package. So we as politicians have a pretty serious decision to make right now. We must decide if we are politicians first - and in my case Cape Bretoners second - or are we Cape Bretoners first and politicians second. I have made my decision, I have decided to set aside politics and work with federal

[Page 2222]

legislators to do whatever is necessary to ensure that Devco employees and their families are represented and that their voices are heard, both here in Halifax and in Ottawa.

I find it very unfortunate that my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, has chosen to use this Devco issue to perhaps promote his own political agenda and promote one of the potential candidates for the leadership of the provincial NDP. As you can clearly hear . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Who is that?

MR. WILSON: Well, it could be any of you, but in particular, I am talking in this case about Peter Mancini, the MP for Sydney-Victoria. As you can clearly read in the resolution, in the last paragraph: "Therefore be it resolved that this House join with Peter Mancini, MP for Sydney-Victoria, in demanding that the federal government delay Bill C-11 until the coal miners have their chance to challenge the decision in court.".

AN HON. MEMBER: A leadership advertisement.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, it does sound somewhat like a leadership advertisement; I would agree.

AN HON. MEMBER: Advertisement.

MR. WILSON: No, actually the correct pronunciation is advertisement, but we can get into that debate at a later date.

I welcome the input from the member for Cape Breton Centre on the Devco matter, and I hope, and I know, that he affords me the same luxury because we serve on a special legislative committee on Devco which has had a few meetings, as my colleague will attest, and we hope to be doing something along that line.

Mr. Speaker, I think this is rather shameless partisanship, this approach to solving the Devco crisis. It is one thing to jump on top of a political soapbox, which you are using to court favour perhaps with Peter Mancini MP, because perhaps he could be the new Leader of the NDP in this province, and perhaps the member for Cape Breton Centre would like to jump on that team. I am not sure. If that is the case, the early candidates in the provincial leadership race of the provincial NDP, it certainly would be inappropriate for our Liberal caucus to grant waiver.

Mr. Speaker, as you well know - and as one of the members of the House has asked if I am running for the Liberal leadership - we already have a Leader. (Applause) To the best of my knowledge, he has not announced his resignation and we are very pleased with the

[Page 2223]

work that he is doing in this House; as a matter of fact we couldn't be more pleased with the work that he is doing in this House.

Getting back to the debate on this resolution, as I was saying, it is rather irresponsible for the member for Cape Breton Centre, if he seriously wants to discuss the delay of Bill C-11, then let's leave Party politics out of it altogether and let's talk about the Devco situation, which I would like to do at this moment. I attended the Economic Development panel meeting recently in Glace Bay, and perhaps it was one of the most moving experiences that I have had over the past while. I actually saw people who were making presentations to that panel who broke down in tears during the presentation because this is an item that tugs at the heart of every Cape Bretoner, especially if you are from one of the coal mining communities. You know what it is like to live in that situation, you know what it is like to have your relatives go down underground and to literally risk their lives on a daily basis, so when you talk about that kind of situation you become very emotional. Indeed, at that meeting the other night a couple of people became very emotional and broke down in tears.

I agree with the Leader of the New Democratic Party who spoke here earlier this evening. It is time that miners sat down - and they have been asked to do this - to negotiate a fair compensation package with Devco officials and take that package back to Ottawa. That is what they are waiting for right now, that is what they have been instructed to do.

Unfortunately, the meetings have not been as frequent as we would like to have had them. Hopefully - and I have discussed this matter with my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, before - the solution has to come from within the unions and within company management, to be presented once and for all to Ottawa. I don't think the time is right now for total negativity on what is happening. As a matter of fact, I think the time is right now to put a positive message out there, as much as we possibly can. I also don't think the time is right for my interpretation of what the NDP Leader was doing earlier, of whipping everyone into a frenzy over this matter. Now is not the time. Feelings are very fragile. People back home in Cape Breton right now are talking about whether or not they will tie up coal mines, whether they will protest, because they are frustrated. The time is not right for that now, Mr. Speaker.

So I am saying, in this case, let's sit back, get back to a bargaining table, negotiate a package that both the miners and the company will consider to be a fair and just package, and take that to Ottawa as a final package and then we will all stand up and be counted and say, here we are, this is what we want and, if not, you will be hearing from us.

Now earlier, as well, Mr. Speaker, the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party made reference to a person who used to be, I think, a Liberal MP for the riding, by the name of Mr. Dingwall, I think, and certainly made reference to whether or not Mr. Dingwall had done anything in the past, as compared to the two federal NDP MPs who are certainly there at this time. I would say that in my personal opinion, that certainly Mr. Dingwall's record

[Page 2224]

stands by itself. We were quite proud of Mr. Dingwall while he was a Member of Parliament in that constituency. Indeed, I would dare say that a lot of people - I know I have run into them anyway in my travels while I was campaigning in the past election - have said, look, we are sorry, we made a big mistake by not electing Dave Dingwall. The mistake we made was by putting in an NDP MP by the name of Michelle Dockrill.

Now I don't know if my colleagues would care to get into an argument over that with me or not but certainly that is not what I intend to do in this situation. I simply bring it up because it was mentioned by the Leader of the NDP. I certainly would say, unequivocally, Mr. Speaker, that if, indeed, Mr. Dingwall was still the MP for Bras d'Or-Cape Breton, that we would not be in the mess we are in right now. (Interruptions)

I would also say, although (Interruptions) Now if we get back to the subject that we are talking about here right now, Mr. Speaker, and I apologize if I did stray from that subject somewhat, but it certainly seems to have brought out some spirit in a few people anyway, so I am glad it has accomplished that.

The Minister of Natural Resources, when he was replying to this resolution, certainly said a couple of times, in several instances, that Devco is a federal responsibility. He mentioned it at least a couple of times and, indeed we know that Devco is a federal Crown Corporation, it is a federal responsibility. The one point I think that he missed, though, is perhaps that the people who are employed at Devco are Nova Scotians, and Nova Scotians are, I think - anyway, the last time I checked - a provincial responsibility. The province has a responsibility to look after its people, whether they live in Glace Bay or in Sydney Mines or in North Sydney or in Dartmouth or wherever they live.

It is the responsibility of the federal government to look after Devco; it is the responsibility of the provincial government to look after the people in this province. Perhaps it is time that the provincial government would give some consideration that they should be doing a little more in this area than, well, I hate to use the word, but it is almost a pittance that they are offering in terms of what they have offered, in terms of economic renewal for the Island, when it is going to hit the coal-mining communities the way it is going to hit back home.

Mr. Speaker, if one thing stands out from the introduction of this resolution, it is that we do care as legislators about what is happening, and I will move aside the politicking that has been done in this case and I will forget about it because I know the good member for Cape Breton Centre also cares about his constituents and I know he cares about the coal mining industry. (Interruptions.) So what I am saying is that I am willing to forgive the good member for Cape Breton Centre for this one error in his ways, in mentioning Peter Mancini in this resolution. I will forgive him because I am that type of a person and we, on this side of the House, are that type of legislators.

[Page 2225]

Having said that, I know that we all care and the time is now and I agree to move, on a non-partisan basis, to try to solve this problem once and for all. The message has to come from us as legislators in this province. We have to be united that we are not going to abandon the people of Cape Breton and in particular the miners and their families who work for Devco, that we are going to stand up and be counted as well when the time comes and we have to be heard from, speaking for them. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. (Applause.)

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

MR FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it certainly does give me true privilege here today to rise and speak about Resolution No. 594 and about the amount, or lack of amount of politics in this resolution, because while I may be accused by some of supporting somebody for a leadership bid, I think the previous speaker sounded more like someone who is getting ready for a by-election. One has to wonder about that. I must say to him, I do not ask for his forgiveness, nor do I desire his forgiveness. (Interruption) Maybe some day I will loan him some votes.

Anyway, this is truly a problem of monumental proportions in this province. It was interesting when I heard the minister get up and go on at great length about what is going on at Devco. It was like everything else from that government since they have been elected, just platitudes. They talked about what is going on, but at no time as a government did that minister show any leadership and tell us what the problem is and how we are going to fix it. It said, we know, everybody in this House knows that that is not a fair deal, everybody in this House knows how hard coal miners work. Everybody in this House knows that something has to be done, with the exception of the people opposite.

[5:45 p.m.]

You know, it is interesting because they have no concept of what this is going to do to the economy of Cape Breton. It was spoken of today by many members about the role of their government in this economic panel put forward. On Friday, when all elected officials were asked to show up and voice their opinion, in an elongated version, more than the five minutes allotted at the other public meetings, the one Party that was absent was the governing Party. The minister had the audacity to stand up in this House today and say, Excuse me, I was in Port Hawkesbury. Well, it just doesn't work. The sense is why don't they get it? Time after time, I stand in this House and ask this government, especially the Minister of Economic Development, what are you doing, in a substantive way, to help the economy of Cape Breton?

AN HON. MEMBER: What does he say?

MR. CORBETT: He says nothing. He talks about, well, we are thinking about doing this and we are thinking about doing that. But it is in a crisis situation. Mr. Speaker, I digress. I want to talk about Bill C-11 and why this was put forward, because Bill C-11 talks about

[Page 2226]

radically changing the Devco Act, if you will, and the bill that was brought into the House of Commons in 1968 to create the Cape Breton Development Corporation. Was that a bill just to create another Crown Corporation? No, it was truly an act to show the people of industrial Cape Breton that they were going to be treated fairly by their government. That it is not just, here is the corporation, here are the parameters, that is it - get out. No, it wasn't. It was a social document, in many ways. Part of that social document clearly says, in Section 17, as my Leader said before, Before closing or substantially reducing the production of coal from any coal mine operated by this corporation, the corporation shall ensure that all reasonable measures have been adopted by the corporation, either alone or in conjunction with the Government of Canada or of Nova Scotia to reduce, as far as possible, any unemployment or economic hardship that can be expected to result.

I think that is a fairly significant piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker. Are we talking about, then, a bill just to create a coal mine? No. We are talking about a piece of legislation that would help the economy of a large section of this province to move from one phase to another. Also, if you remember what my Leader said earlier, was the fact that we were in the midst of doing that, that the phase-out was happening, but as in times of international crisis, whether it be in times of war, and this time it was at a time of peace and there was an economic crisis facing the world and its energy sources, we were called to arms, so to speak. We were asked to help lead our country, literally and proverbially, out of the dark. We lit this province. We ran the economic engines of this province, the Michelins, the Storas. You look around this province, our Cape Breton coal did that. What do we ask for in return? To be treated fairly when the sun sets in that industry. But, no. We are not.

Why not treat these people fairly? Why can't we do that? Is that so much to ask when we have a government that has billions of dollars in excess from funds that those workers paid into? Does that make any sense? I think it makes a lot of sense, Mr. Speaker. But, no. This government decides it won't do that. It decides yesterday, because of their mismanagement, they now have to pump in $70 million more of operating capital to see that company into its year end. But, when it comes to sitting down with their employees and trying to negotiate a fair wage, we can't do that. We don't have the money. We just can't do that. It is impossible. If we give it to the Cape Bretoners, we will have to give it to everybody.

Mr. Speaker, it has been given to everybody in this country. What we have to look at here is, is this government, federally and provincially, going to be truly compassionate, and that is not too much to ask from a government that you have worked all your life for, to be compassionate. It was interesting about compassion because I don't know where the federal government's $68 million is. I heard the Minister of Economic Development say that $80 million may be enhanced. I was glad to hear him say that because - do you know why? - there is only $68 million of that $80 million that is federal dollars, $12 million is provincial dollars. So that gives me hope.

[Page 2227]

It gives me hope that this provincial government will come to realize its role with the workers at the Cape Breton Development Corporation because, Mr. Speaker, if we decide to shut those mines down tomorrow and just cast these people out on their own, it is not a loss just for industrial Cape Breton, it is all of Nova Scotia that feels these losses. There are all kinds of tax dollars and tax revenues lost, and then there is a negative flow of money into Cape Breton to keep these people there.

Where is the leadership coming from in this government? It is not. There is just no leadership. We had the Premier stand up in this House a week or so ago and tell us, no, we are not going to hold back the coal leases, whoever wants them can have them. One of the few bargaining chips that this government had and it decides, no, we are not going to play that, we are going to give it away to whoever wants it.

Well, we saw all too sadly in this province when this government gives away coal leases to their friends; all too sadly, Mr. Speaker, and that worries me. It worries me greatly, but where is this province's economic plan for Cape Breton? They tell us in great platitudes, do not worry, a little pat on the head, and father knows best tells us we are all right. We are all right; don't worry about it. Well, it is not going to be all right. We have, yesterday Sempra announced as the one that is going to distribute natural gas in this province. This province could have taken some leadership, both governments, the past and the present, and said to whomever was getting it, the first thing is you have to do is bring that line into Cape Breton as part of the province's show of good faith that we are serious about economic renewal for Cape Breton.

Instead, no, no, not a word. I asked repeatedly today, the Minister of Economic Development, about job guarantees, not just for Cape Bretoners but for all Nova Scotians, and he would not do that. These people are more intent on giving money to Scotiabank than their own people.

HON. JAMES MUIR: You know that is not true.

MR. CORBETT: I hear the Minister of Health say I know that is not true. I am going to tell something to the Minister of Health. We were at the press conference the morning that Scotiabank got their largesse. The executives of Scotiabank said thanks for the $2 million. So if that is not true, then I would ask this government to go and get the executives at Scotiabank to give them the money back or cancel the cheque.

We have a great deal of difficulty with the role or lack of role this government is playing because you know its own Party members seem to be saying something else. On November 15th, in the House of Commons, MP Peter MacKay said that if the public at large is to have any confidence in this package, this remuneration or compensation package, there has to be fairness. That is what is missing here. It is not the genuine intent, but the formula that has been set up by the government is flawed. We have an opportunity to fix it. I hope that with

[Page 2228]

the participation of the Progressive Conservative Party and other Parties in Opposition that this government will open up to the changes that will be proposed at the committee. I hope this will take place.

So we are asking for a non-partisan approach, similar to the member. So I think this thing can be really rationalized. The resolution has been viewed by some with certainly skewered glasses as being partisan. With my short time remaining, I must say that it is not. It is a quote from this member, what he said, and we support that quote. So, Mr. Speaker, if Bernie Boudreau had said this, he would have been the one who is quoted. But, no, we say it, therefore, for some reason, it appears to be partisan.

Well, Mr. Speaker, it is not partisan, it is parochial, as I say. It is looking after the people who elect and send me here. I thank you for your time. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable New Democratic Party House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, our time has expired for the day. There are only a couple of minutes left and we have dealt with a couple of resolutions so I would turn the remaining three and one-half minutes over to the Government House Leader to announce tomorrow's business.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could have the unanimous consent of the House to return to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bill No. 21 - Pharmacy Act.

Bill No. 22 - Chiropractic Act.

[Page 2229]

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

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bill No. 25 - Justice Administration Amendment (1999) 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 advise the House that the hours tomorrow will be from 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. and the order of business following Question Period will be Public Bills for Second Reading, Public Bills for Third Reading, Committee of the Whole House on Bills, and the Address in Reply to the Throne Speech, if there is sufficient time.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

Order, please. We have reached the moment of interruption. The topic for the debate on the Adjournment motion this evening was submitted by the honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank and the debate tonight will be:

"Therefore be it resolved that members recognize the positive steps taken in this government's first three months in office.".

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

[Page 2230]

GOV'T. (N.S.) - STEPS (3 MTHS.): POSITIVE - RECOGNIZE

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, the last 20 to 30 days has certainly been a learning experience for me and certainly the last three months has been a learning experience for all members of this government. One of the things I think I learned particularly early in the first number of days sitting here in the Legislature was that it seems as if no matter what the government does, there is somebody, almost always, on the other side who can come up with a really negative reason why we should or shouldn't do what we are doing. I want to remind members of this House, and particularly the members opposite, that in many cases, the things that we are about to do, and we are doing, it is our strong belief that we do this on behalf of the people of the Province of Nova Scotia so that this province is a better place when we leave it than when we found it. (Applause)

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: A spattering of applause.

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, the member for Timberlea-Prospect said a spattering of applause but there is only a spattering of people here. (Interruption) Since taking office, following the July 27th provincial election, much has been said about the commitment made during the election campaign which we have outlined in our blue book, Strong Leadership . . . . a clear course. Opposition members have been tallying up the numbers of commitments this government has made. The number that is often used is 243.

Now I have taken the opportunity to add them up myself and, unfortunately, my math doesn't jibe with that, but I am not here to debate exactly what number of commitments are in this book. I am here to tell you that those commitments that are there are real changes that are absolutely necessary for this province, so that we can move forward.

I would like to take a few minutes of my time here this evening, not only to talk about the commitments we have made but also to briefly talk about how it is that we came here, why it is we are here and how this government was formed. During the month of July I spent a great deal of time, as did other members in this House, knocking on doors, walking up and down streets, meeting ordinary, everyday Nova Scotians like us. I believe the principal reason behind that was that both the Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party felt that the people of Nova Scotia could not continue on the same course that was being provided, that was the course of continued debt and deficit. We found ourselves in a situation where we were $10 billion in debt and the true accounting of the deficit, some $490 million, certainly to me that is, without a doubt, a very good reason to cause an election, regardless of whether it is in the fall, spring or in the heat of the summer.

The previous government offered to its constituents, the voters, the people of the Province of Nova Scotia, a budget that was both flawed and included significant debt. They offered $600 million worth of debt to repair a broken health care system.

[Page 2231]

Our Party made an offer to the people of the Province of Nova Scotia, and we clearly printed it in a book and showed the commitments that we intended to do (Interruption) The blue book. In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, we also felt it would be incumbent upon us to put a time-frame on those commitments. Therefore, we placed exactly when it is we intend to fill these commitments; some are Year 1 commitments, some are Year 2, some are Year 3 and some will get in the fourth year of our commitment.

We have heard a great deal of cynicism and scepticism over whether we are going to be able to fulfil these commitments. I suspect that as time goes on, the public, the people of the Province of Nova Scotia, will feel more and more comfortable and more and more confident that this government is able to do that. Yes, we are new; yes, it is early and yes, I believe that the commitments we have made we can keep.

During the past 90 days we have been able to check off a number of the commitments we have made in our blue book. I would like to remind the members opposite of the items we have been able to check off. This is a list of just a few of them: We have been able to reduce the size of Cabinet. It is evident, it is clear, you can't argue with the facts.

We have started the process of eliminating regional health boards - not only have we started it, we have done it. We have eliminated the regional health boards. We said we would do that in our blue book and we have done it. You can't criticize us for doing what we said we would do.

We said we would provide honest accounting of the province's finances. For the first time in Nova Scotian history we have that in this budget. There is nothing off the balance sheet, it is all on, it is there for everyone to see. It is not pretty but it is there.

We committed to reviewing every program that the Province of Nova Scotia does and we are doing that. Each and every department within this province is reviewing their programs. We are levelled with a barrage of criticism from the other side because we are reviewing programs. We told the people of the Province of Nova Scotia we were going to do it and they voted for us because of that. They know that we have a substantial commitment in here, we have a problem we have to fix.

Hiring 100 full-time nurses, we have done that, we are on the way to hiring more. Reviewing all health care facilities in Nova Scotia to maximize their use, it is under way right now; the review is happening now. Conducting an independent cost-benefit analysis of public-private partnerships, another commitment that we can put a check mark beside. (Applause)

Beginning to work with regional school boards to determine a stable, long-term funding base for Nova Scotian schools; members opposite might be interested in this. This government, our caucus, has taken the opportunity to not only meet with members from the Halifax Regional School Board, but also from the Nova Scotia School Boards Association.

[Page 2232]

The interesting thing about that is that both the Halifax Regional School Board and the Nova Scotia School Boards Association have told us, as a caucus, that it is the very first time in their existence that they have ever had a meeting with the caucus of the government. Never before, they both said that. I think that speaks well for us, because not only do we understand that we don't have all of the answers to every single question, we also understand that we need to go out to the people who are providing the services and ask for their input as well.

We have brought forward amendments to strengthen the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Bill No. 14, sits before us. We have established a separate Department of Tourism and Culture to ensure maximum benefits from the province's rapidly growing tourism and culture sector. We heard the minister here today, he spoke about the growth of tourism and culture. This government realized and recognized the importance of the tourism business to the Province of Nova Scotia. We realized it so we created a separate department where it ought to have been.

We have seen substantial growth, 15 per cent. It is now at $1.27 billion and we are looking to move it to $1.5 billion, and we want to see it get there. We want to see it there so that the member for St. Margaret's Bay, Eastern Passage, Timberlea, Eastern Shore, help me, (Laughter) Timberlea-Prospect (Interruptions) Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage and Timberlea-Prospect will have opportunities for their constituents so that they can find a job in the tourism business. Certainly we recognize the importance of that business, and that is why this government has created a separate Tourism Department.

We can put another check mark by introducing amendments to the Mineral Resources Act to address concerns raised in the 1997 Westray public inquiry. Before this House, this very week, we have had that bill and that is another check mark, another thing that this government can check off its list of commitments.

I don't know who is keeping track on the other side, but somebody ought to be doing that because quite frankly, if we keep on moving at this rate, we will be down to zero in no time. (Interruptions)

We are reviewing compensation programs for victims of abuse in the provincial youth facilities. We spoke about that here today. That is a process that is under way. We applied to join the legal challenge to the federal Gun Registry in the Supreme Court of Canada, something that was very important to the constituents that I represent, something that was raised to me at a good many doors. They wanted this government to do that. They wanted us to act on their behalf and we have done so.

We have introduced changes to the Adoption Information Act to provide greater access to adoption information in Nova Scotia. Again, here it is, this week before this House, that same piece of legislation, sits. We are going to do it, it is before us and that is another one of our commitments that we are able to check off the list.

[Page 2233]

How much time do I have? I am out of time. Thank you.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I find it quite poignant that at this time, this resolution has come forward, particularly because the member for Timberlea-Prospect and I were just going through some of the numbers as to exactly how many days this government has been in power. It started on August 16th, which to my understanding probably brings it up to about 94 days. Sometime next week, they are going to hit the 100th day mark.

What particularly interests me is that that is something that has sort of been a benchmark among governments in the western democracy. I think it started with President Kennedy back in the early 1960's. He promised that in the first 100 days he would change things, he would turn things around. We saw it more recently with Bernard Lord in New Brunswick and his early pronouncements that he seems to be turning his back on now. The fact is that within 100 days a government, in many cases, will have identified and presented itself as to what it really is. In those first 100 days, people now have the opportunity to judge a government. It is no longer a honeymoon period, it is no longer a time in which they are sort of being able to fumble through things and make those first rookie mistakes. After 100 days, that is gone. They are in a position where they will be judged. Particularly, they will be judged on what they have done in those past 100 days, because, in many cases, and I think history will prove this, you can extrapolate through from 100 days to what a whole term will be. This is something that I think many have argued in the past.

I just want to make a couple of points about why I have concerns, why those first 100 days of this government don't bode well for this province. I understand the comments of the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank about, we hope, at the end, that this government will result in a better Nova Scotia. I understand. I want to make it clear, though, that my comments here tonight - I preface this - are not against the backbench of the Tory Party because I know you don't have any say in the vision of your government and where it is going to go in the next three or four or maybe even close to five years.

This is something for the front bench. Let's face it, in that Cabinet Room, they are the ones making the decisions. They are the ones who will be deciding where your Party goes and whether your seat is going to be safe in four years. I hope, for your sake, that you have some opportunities over the next four years to talk to those people on those front benches and, hopefully, based on some of the analysis and juxtaposition I am going to put forward in the next few minutes, you will understand why you had better start talking to them or you won't be around much after the next four years to actually deal with the issues and how this province is going to transcend the next millennium and the next century.

[Page 2234]

What do I mean by that, Mr. Speaker? Well, let's take a look. Let's start with the fact that, within a few days of coming into this House, a budget was produced that slashed $2.2 million from the charities of this province - a fund that was supposed to be in place, that was set up based on gambling. Whether you like it or not, there were certain profits that were put in place and that money was there. That money was ready to be spent at some point. What we got from this government was pilfering that from the kitty of the charities and taking it and putting it for their own uses. You compare that - and this is what I find so incredible, that within days of the public actually finding out that they did this to charities - they come forward and publicly announce that they are actually giving $3 million to Scotiabank. Now, what type of juxtaposition is that when you have, at one time, taken $2.2 million and then (Interruption) Well, the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank doesn't know what juxtaposition means and maybe we are at a different level with regard to this. My point is that, at one point, you have $2.2 million taken from charities and, within days, $3 million given to a big bank that makes $1 billion a year in profit. That is the type of thing that we want to see from this government. That is going to make this province a better place.

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I would ask the honourable member opposite to table, in this House, any document that shows where this government has given Scotiabank $3 million, because, quite frankly, I would like to see it. I don't think it exists, but if he can show where this government has given Scotiabank $3 million, I would like to see it. Otherwise, I would like him to strike those comments from the record.

MR. DEVEAUX: I am assuming that is not a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.

MR. DEVEAUX: I want to also clarify that, around the same time, we found out in the budget that this government took $700,000, money that was supposed to be spent to build ramps for disabled people. Within days, they took that money out of the hands of people who are some of the most disenfranchised and the people that have the most trouble making access to whether it be economic power or social structure within this province. They took that money and used it for other purposes.

At the same time, getting back to an earlier point, we saw recently that the Premier starts talking about special interests and we have to cut away the money from special interests. Mr. Speaker, that is a real concern. We take money from disabled people, are they special interests? We take money from charities, are they special interests? This is the kind of government we are seeing and this is the kind of vision we hope that maybe the backbenchers will take some time to discuss with the frontbenchers and prevent them from carrying on this way.

[Page 2235]

Let me make a couple of other points. We talk about more long-term care beds in this province, yet you take beds from the Sisters of Charity when they were willing to set up long-term care beds. In return, you haven't even set up those 140 or 170 beds that were promised. You haven't even put those in place yet. So even when you take beds that were already promised to the Sisters of Charity, you don't even have them to assign to someone else.

Let's talk about the Department of Economic Development. You are carrying on with what the Liberals started, a department that, in The Chronicle-Herald today, they talk about as the DED board, this kind of attitude in which we will continue to move forward, Mac Timber was a good deal, Dynatek was a good deal, you know, but the problem is that we have a Minister of Economic Development who is carrying on with the same attitude and the same perspective and wants his money, wants to keep the $60 million in his department, does not want any program review, wants to keep it being spent. That is the type of vision we are seeing. No change; same old story; same old problems.

[6:15 p.m.]

Let's talk about a government that talks about self-reliance for all, yet when it comes to the fact that this government was supposed to be paying 100 per cent of social assistance payments and the municipalities were supposed to be moved out of it, now they want to review that. They want to break that agreement that they have with the municipalities, and particularly the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank should be quite shocked by that, considering his former job.

Let's talk about a code of ethics. This government comes out and says we are open and accountable and we want a code of ethics, let's talk about a code of ethics. Again, the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank should remember that I am talking about the front benches here, I do not have a quarrel with him. So with regard to the code of ethics, we have a Minister of Human Resources who does not even understand what the Residential Tenancies Act is supposed to have him do. He thinks the building code is a guide and not the law, and then he comes out and sort of spits in the face of the Freedom of Information Act. Now, is this the kind of code of ethics we are going to see from this government? They have not even passed the code of ethics and that is why I am worried about what the first 100 days are going to foretell for the next four years.

Let's talk about - and this is what I find most amazing, Mr. Speaker - a government, and we saw this through the election, you deserve a tax break. These are the kinds of ads we saw from these people, you deserve a 10 per cent tax cut. That is what we heard from them, and what does the Minister of Finance say yesterday? He said, the only way I can give you a tax cut is if I raise taxes. If I increase the percentage rate of this province and then I can then lower it, so I can meet my 10-per-cent promise. Why doesn't he just raise it 10 per cent today and then, a year from now, he can drop it 10 per cent and he will keep that promise?

[Page 2236]

That is the kind of bad logic, the kind of deceiving that we have seen from this Party and this government. They start with a promise; they say they are going to do it and then, within months of coming in, they turn around and say they do not want to do that. It is not possible. We cannot do that; we do not have the money; we do not have the resources; we do not have the leadership; we do not have the vision. That is what is wrong with the front benches of the Tory Government. Their inability to recognize that those promises, whether good or bad, are not ones that they are willing to keep now and that is my concern with what that first 100 days means.

Let's talk a bit about health care. That was a huge issue during the campaign, Mr. Speaker. Let's talk about the fact that we have health care problems that they promised they would fix, they would fix without spending a lot of money, yet we do not have those nurses yet. Despite what the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank would say, those nurses were already promised. There have not been 130 new nurses hired like that government promised.

Let's talk about user fees on 911. Let's talk about the fact that that is being implemented on the backs of Nova Scotians. Let's talk about the fact that there are no long-term care beds that have been increased in this province. Let's talk about the fact that they have taken away the Winter Works Program. Let's talk about the fact that what they did to the paramedics and what that is going to foretell for the rest of the civil servants in this province while they pay $180,000 to a Deputy Minister of Health.

Let me say this, Mr. Speaker, in closing. This is a government that in my mind in the first 100 days has pointed to two things: hypocrisy and weakness. An inability to recognize that their friends, their cronies need to be stopped from coming back to the trough, but are still willing to come forward and cut and cut to those who need it the most. We must stop that and I hope in the future this government will change its ways. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: I want to thank the honourable members for having taken part in tonight's late show.

The House will now rise, to sit again tomorrow at 12:00 noon.

The House is adjourned.

[The House rose at 6:19 p.m.]