Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Fri., Nov. 19, 1999

First Session

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Justice - St. Thomas More CWL (Pugwash): Child Pornography -
Media Remove, Hon. E. Fage 2327
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 693, Petroleum Directorate - Gasification: Franchise - Debate,
Mr. J. Holm 2328
Res. 694, Bedford - Christmas Parade: Metro Food Bank -^
Support Recognize, Hon. P. Christie 2328
Vote - Affirmative 2329
Res. 695, Commun. Serv. - Child Day (Nat'l.): Importance - Recognize,
Hon. P. Christie 2329
Vote - Affirmative 2330
Res. 696, Health - Breast Cancer: Research - NSCC Contribution
Recognize, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2330
Vote - Affirmative 2330
Res. 697, Justice - Abuse Allegations: Shelburne School -
Public Inquiry Appoint, Mr. F. Corbett 2330
Res. 698, Lbr. - Wentworth Fire Dept.: Anniv. 25th - Congrats.,
The Speaker, (By Mr. B. Taylor) 2331
Vote - Affirmative 2332
Res. 699, Econ. Dev. - Ski Cape Smokey: Future - Ensure,
Mr. K. MacAskill 2332
Vote - Affirmative 2333
Res. 700, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 103 (Exits 3 to 5):
Plans - Reveal, Mr. W. Estabrooks 2333
Res. 701, Fish. - Bay of Fundy Marine Resource Ctr. (Anna. Co.):
Opening - Congrats., Hon. E. Fage 2333
Vote - Affirmative 2334
Res. 702, Health - Care: Changes Rapid - Cease, Dr. J. Smith 2334
Res. 703, Commun. Serv. - Child Rights (U.N. Convention):
Violation (Can.) - Redress Support, Mr. H. Epstein 2335
Res. 704, Exco - Code of Conduct (Ministerial): MLAs (PC) - Apply,
Mr. D. Wilson 2335
Res. 705, Gov't. (N.S.) - Promises: Fulfilled - Reveal, Mr. J. Pye 2336
Res. 706, Fin. - Deficit: Reduction - Options (Premier) Use, Mr. J. Holm 2337
Res. 707, Exco: Colchester-Musq. Valley MLA - Appoint,
Mr. B. Boudreau 2337
Res. 708, Fish. - Heritage Rich.: Value - Recognize, Hon. E. Fage 2338
Vote - Affirmative 2338
Res. 709, Nat. Res. - Oil & Gas: Mismanagement (Gov't. Lib. [N.S.]) -
Stop, Mr. H. Epstein 2339
Res. 710, Educ. - J.L. Ilsley HS: Parliamentarians (Student) - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Gaudet 2339
Vote - Affirmative 2340
Res. 711, Commun. Serv. - Child Rights (U.N. Convention):
Commitment Signed - Recognize, Dr. J. Smith 2340
Vote - Affirmative 2341
Res. 712, Lbr. - Shubenacadie Vol. Fire Dept.: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. John MacDonell 2341
Vote - Affirmative 2341
Res. 713, Health - Cheticamp: Sacred Heart Commun. Health Ctr. -
Opening Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 2341
Vote - Affirmative 2342
Alice "Dolly" MacEwen, Death of, Mr. R. MacLellan 2342
SPEAKER'S RULING ON PREVIOUS POINT OF PRIVILEGE:
Health - Min. (Dartmouth East MLA): Nursing Home Beds - Policy;
Comments by Hon. J. Muir
(Point of Privilege by Dr. J. Smith) Page 1935:
Ruling: Disagreement Between Members -
Not a Point of Privilege 2343
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 11, Foresters Association Act 2343
Mr. K. Morash 2343
Mr. John MacDonell 2343
Mr. K. MacAskill 2344
Mr. K. Morash 2345
Vote - Affirmative 2345
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 25, Justice Administration Amendment (1999) Act 2345
Hon. M. Baker 2345
Mr. H. Epstein 2346
Mr. M. Samson 2346
Hon. M. Baker 2347
Vote - Affirmative 2347
No. 14, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act 2347
Hon. M. Baker 2347
Mr. H. Epstein 2349
Mr. M. Samson 2352
Mr. W. Gaudet 2359
Mr. J. Holm 2363
Hon. M. Baker 2365
Vote - Affirmative 2368
No. 18, Petroleum Resources Removal Permit Act 2369
Hon. G. Balser 2369
Mr. J. Holm 2369
Mr. R. MacLellan 2374
Mr. D. Downe 2377
Mr. M. Samson 2381
Mr. H. Epstein 2383
Mr. D. Dexter 2393
Dr. J. Smith 2395
Hon. G. Balser 2398
Vote - Affirmative 2398
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Private and Local Bills Committee, Hon. R. Russell 2399
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 21, Pharmacy Act 2399
Hon. J. Muir 2399
Mr. D. Dexter 2400
Dr. J. Smith 2400
Hon. J. Muir 2405
Vote - Affirmative 2406
No. 22, Chiropractic Act 2407
Hon. J. Muir 2407
Mr. D. Dexter 2407
Dr. J. Smith 2407
Hon. J. Muir 2413
Vote - Affirmative 2413
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 2:36 P.M. 2414
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 4:57 P.M. 2414
CWH REPORTS 2414
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Nov. 22nd at 2:00 p.m. 2414

[Page 2327]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 1999

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the St. Thomas More CW League from Pugwash, Nova Scotia. They have initiated a white ribbon campaign, wishing the Legislature to petition the federal government to have child pornographic material through the television, Internet and other various forms of media removed. I have affixed my signature to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

2327

[Page 2328]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 693

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

Whereas two days ago the Premier stated in this House that he hasn't reviewed the decision of the URB to grant franchise rights for gas distribution to Sempra Atlantic so he won't answer any questions about it; and

Whereas immediately afterward, the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate declared that the gasification of Nova Scotia is one of the most significant events in our history; and

Whereas Nova Scotians can only hope the Premier recants so that one of the most significant events in our history, one that promises to have a huge impact on our lives, can be debated openly in the people's forum;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier undertake to this House to award the franchise and debate the gasification while the House sits.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 694

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

Whereas this weekend Bedford will be holding a parade to provide assistance for the Metro Food Bank; and

Whereas the parade will be held on Sunday evening at 6:45 p.m. proceeding through Bedford to the waterfront; and

[Page 2329]

Whereas volunteers will be collecting food donations at the start and finish sites of the parade as well as along the way;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the community of Bedford for its Christmas spirit and for its support of the important services provided by the Metro Food Bank all year long.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 695

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

Whereas children are important and valued members of society; and

Whereas children need love and respect to grow to their full potential; and

Whereas all Nova Scotians are reminded that children thrive in an atmosphere of love, care and understanding;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing the importance of National Child Day on November 20th.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2330]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 696

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

Whereas breast cancer continues to be one of the major causes of death among women in Canada; and

Whereas Nova Scotia Community College faculty and students at the Halifax Campus shaved their heads in support of those women suffering from breast cancer; and

Whereas by shaving their heads, these women and men were able to raise $5,000 for breast cancer research;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the contribution of the faculty and students of the Nova Scotia Community College in the fight against breast cancer.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 697

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

[Page 2331]

Whereas the Premier and the Minister of Justice have now engaged in the dance of the seven veils over a public inquiry into the abuse at the Shelburne correctional facility; and

Whereas this dance of the seven veils has become a torrid tango around Tory election promises; and

Whereas it has also become a polka, with the Premier and the Minister of Justice spinning wildly out of control;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Justice resolve who is going to lead in this dance and appoint a public inquiry into abuse claims at the Shelburne correctional facility.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 698

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

Whereas the Wentworth Volunteer Fire Department continues to provide an excellent and professional service to the local community; and

Whereas the Wentworth Fire Department will be celebrating its 25th year of service to the area this year; and

Whereas on November 27, 1999, an evening of celebration will be held when people will gather to congratulate the Wentworth Fire Department and its members for many years of dedication and commitment.

[Page 2332]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Wentworth Fire Department and its members on their 25th Anniversary and wish them many more years of success.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice 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 Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 699

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

Whereas the ski hill operation at Cape Smokey is a major contributor to the economy of the area; and

Whereas the former Liberal Government, along with Ottawa and the community partnered in the plan to make Ski Cape Smokey self-sufficient; and

Whereas the future success of Ski Cape Smokey and the economy of the area is dependent on this commitment;

Therefore be it resolved that this government consult with the community to ensure that Ski Cape Smokey is able to continue making a positive contribution to the area.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2333]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 700

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

Whereas residents in various growing subdivisions along Highway No. 103 from Exit 3 to Exit 5 have held a number of recent meetings; and

Whereas these subdivisions include Haliburton Hills and Haliburton Heights, Westwood Hills, Highland Park, Sheldrake Lake, Sheldrake Heights, Lake of the Woods, Cambrian Cove, Three Brooks and Tantallon Woods; and

Whereas the major concern among these residents at these meetings is the unfulfilled commitment to the twinning of this busy highway;

Therefore be it resolved that the part-time Minister of Transportation tell these residents of his department's plans for the twinning of Highway No. 103 from Exit 3 to Exit 5.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 701

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

Whereas this weekend marks the grand opening of the Bay of Fundy Marine Resource Centre located at Cornwallis Park in the beautiful Annapolis Valley; and

Whereas this centre is a community-based group created to help support the marine economy of the Bay of Fundy whose work will inevitably lead to more jobs in the area and greater cooperation between local stakeholders; and

Whereas the centre has already completed the worthwhile project of GIS mapping for the community-based management of clams;

[Page 2334]

Therefore be it resolved the centre's manager, Martin Kaye, and his staff be congratulated for their good work and that the public share in their work by attending the opening, Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 702

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

Whereas Premier Hamm should apologize to the people of Nova Scotia for misleading them during the election campaign by saying he could fix the health care system by cutting $46 million worth of fat from health care administration; and

Whereas the Minister of Health repeatedly speaks of increased revenue from health services, meaning user fees, contracting out, privatization and higher fees and taxes; and

Whereas the government, in trying to find its way, is modelling other Progressive Conservative Governments of Harris, hit the welfare moms; Klein, let them freeze in the dark; by increasing charges on 911, introducing fees on adoption information and cutting programs for seniors and the disabled;

Therefore be it resolved this government cease in its rush to user fees, increase charges and cutting programs in social and health services on finding out it cannot keep its election promises.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

[Page 2335]

RESOLUTION NO. 703

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 Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted by the United Nations in 1989, is touted as the most comprehensive human rights document in history; and

Whereas yesterday the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children released a report in which it claims Canada is systematically violating articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child with the most glaring failure - its treatment of disabled children; and

Whereas the report states, Disabled children in Canada are not guaranteed basic educational and social services.;

Therefore be it resolved that this House supports the call by the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children for disabled children to participate fully in Canadian society.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 704

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

Whereas after 111 days and several scandals, Premier John Hamm finally unveiled his long-awaited Code of Conduct; and

Whereas this code clearly says that even the perception of a conflict of interest will not be tolerated by this Tory Government; and

[Page 2336]

Whereas Premier Hamm has correctly acknowledged that even the perception of a conflict seriously damages public confidence in the governing Party;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier ensure that the spirit and intent of his new Code of Conduct apply to all government MLAs.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[9:15 a.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 705

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

Whereas the Premier stated yesterday his government so far has kept those promises it intended to keep during this sitting of the Legislature but he coyly refused to say which ones; and

Whereas perhaps for clarification the Speaker could hold a weekly game of blue book bingo acting as a caller for balls, each emblazoned with one of the 243 promises; and

Whereas members with the winning cards would be required to yell, cow patty, and the Premier would verify the winning numbers;

Therefore be it resolved the Premier avoid such nonsense and come clean with Nova Scotians about which promises he intends to keep.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2337]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 706

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 Premier justifies his government's bad choices by pointing to the deficits they inherited; and

Whereas one way to take a major bite out of the deficit and debt is to put Nova Scotia Resources Limited on a path to profitability; and

Whereas the Premier has philosophical objections to expert proposals to save taxpayers from paying off a $1 billion NSRL debt;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should try to achieve philosophical purity with his own time and his own money so Nova Scotians can benefit from every opinion to reduce the deficit and debt.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 707

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

Whereas last night during the late debate, the Liberal caucus called on all government backbenchers to represent the views of their constituents; and

Whereas the Tory MLA for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley claimed he was free to speak during many years in Opposition; and

Whereas that Tory MLA spoke himself into a seat on a backbench;

[Page 2338]

Therefore be it resolved that if Tory MLAs are free to speak their minds, then Premier John Hamm should immediately give the MLA for beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley a seat at the Cabinet Table.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 708

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

Whereas this Sunday, November 21st, is recognized in Nova Scotia and around the globe as World Fisheries Day; and

Whereas in 1998, preliminary figures for fish exports were estimated at more than 890 million with lobster, scallop and shrimp leading the way; and

Whereas the fishery supports hundreds of coastal communities in Nova Scotia and provides thousands of jobs on the water and on the land and especially in the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley;

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians everywhere recognize that the rich heritage of fishing in this province is of value today as it was for centuries.

Mr. Speaker, may 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 Halifax Chebucto.

[Page 2339]

RESOLUTION NO. 709

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 regards $1 billion in lost opportunities as water under the bridge; and

Whereas thanks to $600,000 in fancy new bridge lights, it will be easier to see the future as it flushes out to sea under the bridge; and

Whereas most Nova Scotians would rather not just sit on the bridge and watch their future wash away beneath them;

Therefore be it resolved that the government make a firm commitment to stop the tide of Liberal mismanagement of our oil and gas resources and fight to maximize benefits to Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 710

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

Whereas J.L. Ilsley High School in Halifax held its 19th annual model Parliament last evening; and

Whereas this model Parliament was a forceful example of the ongoing interest that our youth have in our parliamentary system; and

Whereas the debate on the bills that were introduced was a clear indication that the student parliamentarians conducted in-depth research on the topics debated;

[Page 2340]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the student parliamentarians of J.L. Ilsley High School and their teacher advisers and wish them every success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 711

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

Whereas November 20th marks the 10th Anniversary of National Child Day; and

Whereas Canada and Nova Scotia support the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; and

Whereas children must have first call in all economic, social and political decisions, policies, programs and expenditures;

Therefore be it resolved that this government recognize its signed commitment to children and youth, realizing they are our future but their needs are now.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 2341]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 712

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

Whereas community safety is dependent ultimately on the efforts of its members; and

Whereas fire protection is one aspect of community safety that often relies on volunteers to carry out the dangerous task of controlling fires that threaten residents; and

Whereas the Shubenacadie Volunteer Fire Department has served the village and area continuously for 37 years;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Shubenacadie Volunteer Fire Department for its faithful and excellent service to its community.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism.

RESOLUTION NO. 713

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

Whereas the people of Cheticamp will celebrate the official opening of Sacred Heart Community Health Centre on Saturday, November 20th; and

[Page 2342]

Whereas the people of Cheticamp have always given their time and energies towards such important community services; and

Whereas this hospital will greatly serve the people of the Acadian region;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the people of Cheticamp on their new facility.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you and the House for this opportunity. I just wanted to announce to the House the passing of the mother of the member for Cape Breton Nova. Alice "Dolly" MacEwen, who was born on Long Island on July 15, 1915, was quite a remarkable woman. She was a graduate of the Julliard School of Music and the Ontario Teachers College in Toronto. She was a tremendous musician and from 1988 to 1998, she was the choir director and organist at Trinity Anglican Church. In fact, she gave music lesson just up until a few weeks ago.

I know that all members of the House would want to join with me in offering our condolences and our sympathy to the member for Cape Breton Nova and to his family. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Before we begin with the Orders of the Day, I want to rule on a matter that was brought to the floor of this House on Wednesday, November 10, 1999. The member for Dartmouth East rose on a point of personal privilege. He indicated that the Minister of Health had implied that when the member for Dartmouth East was Minister of Health he had not followed policy and had, in fact, done something wrong in allocating nursing home beds. The member for Dartmouth East also stated that he felt the Minister of Health was saying that he did something wrong and that he violated policy of that department.

[Page 2343]

Upon reviewing Hansard, I note that the Minister of Health made the following statement in response to a question asked by the Leader of the Liberal Party, "Unfortunately, the protocol that was followed by him and his then Minister of Health in making a commitment, the Mother Berchman's Centre was not consistent with the protocol that is established in the department, . . .".

I am ruling that there is not a prima facie case of privilege based on research that I have done using the authority that we use for direction in this House, but merely a disagreement over facts between two members.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

Bill No. 11 - Foresters Association Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I move third reading of Bill No. 11, an Act to Incorporate the Registered Professional Foresters Association of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I certainly support this bill. I know of the efforts by all Parties in trying to bring this piece of legislation forward. I think that for all who are connected in some way to the forest industry in this province, they can only realize the value of professional foresters to the province and to the industry.

I think that one of the stumbling blocks of this piece of legislation getting to the House, as it finally has, has been disagreement over the writing of the legislation in a way that seemed to somehow pre-empt the abilities of technicians to become registered professional foresters. So compromise has been made between the foresters association and the technicians

[Page 2344]

association. My only concern - and it is not addressed in the bill, and I am not sure that it can be, but more education on my part will certainly teach me whether or not it is possible - but one of the problems they have run into in New Brunswick in similar legislation has been the fact that although there is the requirement for testing prior to individuals becoming registered professional foresters, the testing mechanism in New Brunswick seems to have excluded technicians, even though the legislation provides for their entry as registered professional foresters.

I certainly hope that that won't be the case here in this province. I know individuals of both professions and I would say that the training and the advantage to the profession, to the province, and to the forest industry in general to have a bit of a mix of capability that is offered by both the technicians and the foresters, it can only be an advantage to the province, Mr. Speaker, so therefore I certainly endorse this piece of legislation and hope that all members will do so. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I just want to make a few more comments on this piece of legislation which our Party will certainly be supporting. This piece of legislation is long overdue. I was in that department as minister for two years and that piece of legislation was in draft form, I know there has been a lot of consultation between the Department of Natural Resources and industry in trying to get this piece of legislation through the House and to get it in its proper form and suitable to all sectors of forestry.

Mr. Speaker, I think the time has come when we have to take a very serious look at our forests and anything we can do to upgrade the people who work there, to make the forests sustainable in the future, I think it is very important to the industry today. I know this piece of legislation will be well received by the industry and by the people who work in the forests to make their role more of a professional type of role that they play in the forestry today.

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the honourable member for bringing this piece of legislation forward. I know this will pass through the Legislature and I believe that we will all feel very comfortable in supporting this and moving it to the law in this province. Thank you.

[9:30 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable member it will be to close the debate.

The honourable member for Queens.

[Page 2345]

MR. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I move third reading of Bill No. 11.

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

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 25.

Bill No. 25 - Justice Administration Amendment (1999) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am going to try to be as much a model of brevity as possible this morning with respect to this bill. I would begin by saying that I certainly appreciate the contribution made by the honourable members on the opposite side of the House with respect to the bill. I can honestly say that with respect to the bill, there was a great deal of cooperation on the part of both Opposition Parties and in particular their Justice Critics, on the bill. We looked at one of the sections in the bill and a change was made, which I think was prompted as a result of some Opposition comment. I appreciate that. I appreciate the work of staff on this particular bill.

While this bill is seen by many as a housekeeping kind of legislation, I think the legislation is important in that it updates a number of statutory requirements which will benefit Nova Scotians. I think it is very important that laws be reviewed on a periodic basis to make sure that they keep current with the current needs. I think that this Statute accomplishes just that. Again, I appreciate the assistance of all honourable members and I thank the House.

[Page 2346]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, our Party will certainly be supporting Bill No. 25 on the vote to give the bill third reading. The Minister of Justice has correctly pointed out to members that this bill deals with a variety of Statutes and essentially makes a number of administrative amendments that are designed to promote efficiency and modernize a number of Statutes. There really isn't a great deal that one could quibble with, and the points that we thought the minister and his department ought to think further about, we have suggested to him.

One example of that has to do with the extension of jurisdiction in Small Claims Court. The bill will give greater jurisdiction to Small Claims Court, as one of its many provisions by increasing the dollar amount of the jurisdiction up to $10,000. We suggested to the minister that there might be some consequential administrative changes that might be made, and he has agreed to think about these and pointed out that he has the regulatory authority to act on that. We appreciate the minister's willingness to take up this point.

On other matters, we find that the use of documents being moved around from province to province is being made more efficient, that certain additional powers are being given to administrative tribunals to increase their efficiency, we all rely upon these tribunals and we think it is correct, as the minister said, to undertake these kinds of revisions from time to time. We find other sensible provisions, such as the changes to the Intestate Succession Act, in which inheritance from both parents is now recognized rather than just one parent in some of the antique language that characterizes the occasional older Statute. Again, we appreciate the minister's diligence in finding these points and bringing forward legislation to deal with them.

That said, we certainly agree with the minister that these are the kinds of changes that ought to go forward. We commend the minister for having done so. We will support this bill at third reading. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity again to commend the Minister of Justice and his staff for bringing forward Bill No. 25. As he indicated, it is seen as housekeeping matters but it is of great importance to the administration of justice here in this province with the number of important changes that are being made.

As the minister indicated, some changes were made to the bill as a result of concerns raised by Opposition members and I thank the minister for accepting those concerns and making the necessary changes. I guess the last thing I would leave with the minister is that, as he well knows, these are ongoing changes that need to take place in the justice system in

[Page 2347]

our province. We have raised the concern about the Small Claims Court. It is now going from $5,000 to $10,000.

I would submit that the minister should take a close look in the next couple of years at possibly increasing that amount once again. As with many other parts of our justice system, as he well knows, through the Law Reform Commission, through the Barristers' Society and through Nova Scotians, in general, they have come forward with many recommendations of how we can make a better system. I have confidence that with Bill No. 25 it is a clear indication that the minister will keep a close eye on changes in the justice system and make the necessary legislative changes here in the House. Without anything further, Mr. Speaker, our caucus will be voting in support of Bill No. 25. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, again, I thank my colleagues in the House and with that I would ask for third reading on the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 25. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 14.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I am going to get the same unanimous vote of ringing approval with respect to this bill as with respect to the previous bill, but on a very serious note, I think that even the critics of perhaps some of the things that are not in the bill would admit that this bill is still a major step forward in advancing the Freedom of Information Act in this province.

[Page 2348]

This bill has a number of very critical and important points. Among the most important is the extension of the coverage of the bill to school boards, universities and some health institutions which were not formerly covered under the old legislation. While the regional health boards were covered under the old legislation, there were institutions which were not covered under the old legislation, an anomaly which had no logical benefit other than a historical accident.

This bill is a major step forward in advancing the public's right to know with respect to institutions which are the major users of our taxpayers' dollars. Mr. Speaker, we should never forget that when you look at health and education in the provincial budget, they comprise quite literally over half of the entire budget of the Province of Nova Scotia. To have citizens not have the right to ask questions about a very significant portion of the expenditures of this province, which are delegated to other institutions to actually make, whether they be health boards or health authorities in the future, or whether they be to the universities and so forth, school boards, is a major gap in the legislation. I would think that even the critics, as I said, would admit that this is a major step forward.

I think it would also be fair to say, Mr. Speaker, that the bill is also a major step forward in a very simple practical sense and that is the sense that we have now scheduled many of the boards and agencies that are covered by the legislation. That simply makes the Act more user friendly to the average person who may have occasion to go to their local library, look at the Statute and want to try to understand whether or not they have a right to access to information. While we could do, through crafting of legislative language that would accomplish the same thing it would be much more Byzantine and complex, and I think this language is more transparent in the sense that we have enumerated lists of boards that are covered. I think that is of great assistance to the average person who may be interested in this area.

I also would comment in that - and much has been said, and I am sure that much will be said later this morning on the issue of the extent to which the limit of divulging of the name of the applicant has gone - clearly this bill does extend the clear application of the Act so that there would be no disclosure of the name of an applicant outside of the department. There is no question about the fact that it accomplishes that end. Honourable members, as I said, we will just have to agree to disagree on whether it should have gone further, but clearly the Act does extend the reach of the law further than it had hitherto been.

I think it is very important that government be seen to be open and transparent. It assists in the accountability and I think when we talk about schools, universities and health boards, these are the institutions, in many ways, that are often closest to people, and that is the reason that the previous administration chose to extend the reach of this legislation to municipal government. Mr. Speaker, you will recall that the previous legislation did not, had not, hitherto reached to municipal government until the spring of 1999. It was very important

[Page 2349]

that municipal government be brought into that, because again it is an organ of public administration which is very close to people.

I think that this bill is a major step forward. There may very well be an opportunity or necessity to adjust to the legislation in the future; that certainly is not outside the realm of possibility.

We are committed to openness in government, Mr. Speaker, and I know that that may seem not obvious from the Opposition benches sometimes, but I think that we are, in fact, and the allegation that we are against this disclosure of public information just doesn't carry any weight, simply because we were not forced to bring this legislation forward; we chose to do it at the earliest opportunity.

Finally, in closing, Mr. Speaker, much has been said about the review officer, and I think it is clear to say that this legislation makes a major step forward with respect to the review officer. Again, I respect that the honourable members opposite perhaps wish the legislation had gone further, and I respect their view in that, but it is quite clear to say that this legislation will now create a term of office for the review officer and the circumstances under which he can be removed, which guarantee him a great deal of independence in doing his or her work.

Let's not forget the steps forward we are making when we are looking, perhaps from different perspectives, at what we might rather have seen in the bill. I think this is a major step forward and I look forward to the comments of the honourable members opposite.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the minister will certainly get our votes on third reading of this bill, but he will not get them without some notification and reminder of what it is we find problematic with it.

We have discussed this bill a number of times, and I do want to start by just quickly reviewing what it is that the bill does. As the minister correctly says, one of the main thrusts of the bill is to extend its application to a greater number of entities that are government-related. Essentially what it does, at this point, is it attempts to encompass the whole of the MUSH sector: municipalities, universities, schools, and hospitals. The bill was essentially already extended to municipalities last year through a specific portion of the new Municipal Government Act; this bill now will extend the application of FOIPOP to all the other entities that are seen as part of the broader public sector.

It is absolutely right that this should occur. There is no doubt about it that this was a recommendation that has been outstanding for quite a long time, since 1996 when the committee known as the Jobb Committee reported. That was one of their recommendations

[Page 2350]

and it was clear that this kind of expansion of mandate should take place. No one disagrees with that. It is entirely appropriate. There are interesting variations in how this has actually been done, although I would like to start on this point by commending the minister by resisting the blandishments of the School Boards Association which came and asked to be exempted from the ambit of the bill. I think it was not desirable for them to take this position and I think it is well that we have resisted the request that they made.

[9:45 a.m.]

One of the interesting variations, I guess, has to do with the universities. I note that the sacred right of academics to defame each other in private with respect to tenure and promotions is maintained as one of the private matters under the bill, but this is a well-recognized feature of our society. Perhaps on a future day we might attack this aspect of the bill. I think the minister is correct in saying that it helps enormously to have a schedule attached to the bill, listing the various entities to which it will apply.

In general, the bill also gives acknowledgment to Statutes governing different entities where higher standards are seen to apply already. I think, for example, some of the provisions under Section 71 of the Hospitals Act is a good example of that. These are maintained and I think that is quite right, whether these are instances of special privacy that are needed or access to information. Again, I think there is nothing problematic with any of that.

On the whole, I think we can look at the thrust of the bill and say, as the minister has, that this is a step forward. For that reason, of course, we will be supporting it. Where I do, however, wish to note problems is really as follows. First, of course, is the difficulty of knowledge of the name of the applicant inside a government department. We have had occasion to discuss this a number of times. I won't prolong it again, but I will note that the nature of the problem is as follows.

About a month ago we saw an instance in which a Cabinet Minister, having learned the name of an applicant under the FOIPOP Act, chose to speak personally to that applicant. That should never have occurred. It should never have occurred because the minister should never have known in the first place the name of an applicant. It is clear that the standard that ought to prevail is that the political level has no need to know the name of an applicant. Unfortunately, the political level can either deliberately or through inadvertence discourage people from using the Act. That is not what we want to do.

When we think about possibly discouraging people from the Act, we have to think about those who might be most vulnerable to expressed or implied intimidation. That could be a range of people: that could be civil servants in that very same department who might be interested in gathering information; it might be the occasional journalist - although in general I don't think it is going to have a serious impact there, but the occasional journalist - in a small place who might, for whatever reason, feel a little vulnerable; and there could be

[Page 2351]

business people or individuals at large. The problem is not directly addressed in this bill and it could have been. The amendment that we put forward and similar amendments put forward by representatives of the Liberal Party were defeated by the government.

Under this bill, it is entirely possible that there could be repetition of the situation we saw a month ago in which a Cabinet Minister could learn the name of an applicant. This is out and out wrong, it shouldn't occur. I hope that at some point in the future, when this bill is reviewed that this particular problem will be addressed. Now I can understand that the minister might well have felt a political sensitivity to including the kind of prohibition that we have asked for in this bill, given the recent circumstances. I speculate that he would have seen it as an admission of wrongdoing on the part of one of his colleagues if they had included such a provision in the bill. I don't think there is any other reasonable interpretation of the failure to include in the bill or to adopt the suggested amendments.

At some point in the future, when this matter is no longer so current and touchy, it may well be that this particular point will be nailed down. I would remind members that the incumbent of the review officer's position has made it extremely clear, in one of his rulings from about a year ago, that there is no reason why anyone except the civil servants processing the application should need to know the name of an applicant. I think this point is clear. No more needs to be said except to remind members that this was not addressed in the bill.

The other point that wasn't addressed in the bill, of course, is complete independence for the review officer. The government has gone one small step towards providing some independence for the review officer. The small step that was taken was to say that the review officer, who will be given an extended tenure of perhaps as long as seven years, could only be removed upon the advice of the Legislature. The thrust of the amendments that have been put forward but not accepted by the government has been to say that the review officer should only be appointed upon the advice of the Legislature, that is to say, upon the advice of all Parties. It should not be exclusively in the hands of the government. Again, this is a failure in the legislation.

There is a more subtle but very disturbing aspect of this, because in talking about giving greater security of tenure to a review officer, the minister has made it clear that he is not talking about the present incumbent. The minister has made it clear that he contemplates holding a job competition, and yet over the last number of years the incumbent has performed his functions as review officer in a manner that is beyond reproach.

Every once in a while, contrary to experience and expectation, something goes right. Well, something went right when we appointed the review officer, Mr. Fardy a number of years ago. It turned out that this man was wonderful. He has done a great job. I would have thought that all Parties would have rushed to take the opportunity to say, we support Mr. Fardy, and at the moment when we are looking to give more security of tenure to the review officer position, we will take advantage of that opportunity to say to Mr. Fardy, we offer you

[Page 2352]

this job on a different basis than the basis you have had it for the last few years. You, Mr. Fardy, have been an Order in Council per diem paid person, now that we are changing to a permanent basis, we will give you the first opportunity to hold this position.

The minister hasn't done that, it is inexplicable why the minister has not done that. I find this to be the worst aspect of this bill. It is one thing to have minor criticisms about how the bill might have been better drafted or might have extended to more of the Jobb Committee recommendations, it is quite another to actually take what amounts to an active step, to virtually discharge the incumbent. This is just wrong, it is unconscionable, I can't accept it and when we dealt with those sections of the bill, we voted against those sections of the bill and we will support the bill as a whole because it does make advances but this part of the bill really is a complete failure to grapple with the problem of true security of tenure for the incumbent. It is a rebuke. It is nothing more than a rebuke to the person who doesn't deserve it.

The final point I want to make is that there is included in the bill, an interesting provision with respect to a review of the bill within three years. Several Acts now have similar kinds of provisions and I want to commend the minister for this particular provision. It is found in Clause 21 of the bill. The time-frame that is contemplated is three years. In an earlier stage of debate, I pointed out to the minister that a federal government initiative, a bill on freedom of information and protection of privacy that had just gone through the House of Commons, the bill known as Bill C-6, purported to extend federal jurisdiction over freedom of information in electronic communications to areas of what would otherwise be regarded as provincial jurisdiction, if the province did not act within three years. Because of Clause 21 giving us the opportunity to review our own bill within three years, the time-frame happens to coincide with the time-frame contemplated by Bill C-6. So I hope when this review takes place the government will have adopted, by that time, a position with respect to electronic communications and have decided whether it wishes to have its own legislation or adopt the federal regime.

That is the final point that I wish to make. Overall, Mr. Speaker, we will be supporting the bill at third reading but I certainly hope that the minister thinks long and hard about the points we have raised.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak on this bill as we go into third reading. It was with interest, yesterday, I can say that it was my first opportunity in Committee of the Whole House on Bills to go clause by clause and to suggest amendments. Unfortunately, I had not had the opportunity to do that personally during my previous time in government but it was a very interesting process and I would submit to all members of the House that if you want to learn how this House works, get involved in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills in doing amendments because it really is an

[Page 2353]

opportunity. I would submit you certainly don't need a legal background or any official training to get involved in the process and to be an active participant. It was an eye-opener for me.

At the same time, Mr. Speaker, it was a little disappointing because when this bill was brought in by this minister, he clearly indicated that he was more than open to amendments to make this a better bill. Yesterday, ironically, they voted down every single amendment that was brought in by both Opposition Parties. So one is left to question the sincerity of the Minister of Justice when he did introduce the bill and said that he would be more than open to amendments.

[10:00 a.m.]

I listened, with interest to my socialist colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto, when speaking on Bill No. 14, saying everything that was wrong and not included in the bill and then saying he is going to vote for the bill. How interesting. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, that is not good enough in my submission because again this is an example of where a government has indicated what they are going to do, they have led Nova Scotians to believe where they are going, that it is positive and that they are covering all loopholes in where they are going. Again, I use my example of walking up a set of stairs. This government has only, in this case, I would say they have only gotten one-quarter of the way and yet they want Nova Scotians to believe they have made it to the top; and they have not, because of the many points that we have raised in Opposition with this bill.

I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that the amendments would not have cost more money. It was not a financial concern that the government had, that the Opposition Party was trying to raise the costs or add levels of bureaucracy to this government. That was not what the amendments were about. An amendment to ensure that Ministers of the Crown would not be given the identity of applicants would not have cost them any more money. It would not have added any additional level of bureaucracy, but it would have sent a signal to Nova Scotians that this government had learned from their mistakes.

Again, I submit to you and it is with great surprise that the arrogance of the Premier and of the Ministers of the Crown prevented them from being able to stand here and say, yes, we did wrong, there is a flaw in this Act and the flaw is that ministers should not be told the identity of applicants. We cannot have the situation that occurred between the Premier's Office and the Minister of Human Resources ever happen again in this province. That is what Nova Scotians thought this Premier would do. That is what this Opposition thought this Premier would do because when he said this Act is flawed, that was your flaw, Mr. Premier.

Unfortunately, the Minister of Justice tries to convince Nova Scotians that he has done well, that he has addressed this issue, that the loose lips of the Minister of Human Resources will not create any further problems as it relates to this Act but, in reality, Nova Scotians

[Page 2354]

should know that under Bill No. 14 the exact same situation can happen again. There is no protection there. There is nothing to stop ministers of this government to inform applicants that they know their identity, or possibly, which we hope would never happen, even intimidate applicants because they know their identity. We certainly would never want to see that happen.

I do not think any of the ministers on the front benches would even contemplate doing such a thing, but the problem is, in this business, it is all about perception. This government had an ideal opportunity to ensure that this never happened again and they have not done so. I would submit, not because our amendment and our suggestion was flawed, but because this government, this new, open, accountable Tory Government, was not willing to admit they made a mistake and they are going to make the changes to ensure it never happens again.

It is unfortunate with the confidence Nova Scotians and members of this House have placed in the Premier that he would not be willing to just simply stand in this House, and he does not have to stand in this House to say it, just allow this amendment to go through and it would be a recognition by this government that they have heard the concerns, they have learned from their past activities and it will not happen again. It is very disappointing to me to see that that is obviously not going to happen, based on the fact that all amendments were voted down by the Minister of Justice and his government.

The other amendment that was brought in, Mr. Speaker, as you well know, by the Liberal caucus was one that was not an original thought from our caucus. I indicated that last night, that the original writer and promoter of this amendment was none other than the good Premier of this province. How ironic. How ironic that when he sat as Leader of the Third Party, he brought in Bill No. 45 to address changes to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, changes which he in his, by that time, probably five years of Opposition, had seen that there was, in this bill in his recommendations, on how it could be enhanced.

Mr. Speaker, in the kindness of the Liberal caucus, we went out there and got his bill and resuscitated the bill and brought it back to the floor of this House hoping, giving the Premier an opportunity to put into effect the exact changes which he had recommended, almost what we would say in politics and in this House, throwing him a lob ball, giving him an opportunity to either hit a home run, or catch it just before it goes over the fence. Instead, the Minister of Justice, once again, in voting, shouted nice and loud, no.

He voted down the amendment brought to the floor of this House by his own Leader and now Premier of this province and Nova Scotians are left at home wondering how this process really works. The Premier, as Leader of the Third Party, brought in these recommended changes to the Freedom of Information Act. They obviously did not get through at that point in time, I am not even sure if they were called. Now, the Liberals bring it back and they openly admit that they are bringing back a recommendation put forward by

[Page 2355]

the Premier, when he was in Opposition, and yet it is his own Party in government that votes it down.

I think if we had a political science class here, they would be left scratching their heads and also wondering, wait a minute, that is not how the system is supposed to work. If it failed because they weren't in government and now they are in government, it is a golden opportunity for them to implement the very changes which they have learned when they were members in Opposition, and to show Nova Scotians that they weren't just twiddling their thumbs when we were sitting on this side of the House, they were contemplating very important legislative changes to make this province a better place. It is unfortunate, when given that opportunity, the now majority Tory Government votes down its own amendment from its Premier.

That very amendment, Mr. Speaker, again would have given Nova Scotians a sense of confidence in the office of the review officer. It would have set an all-Party committee to deal with the appointment of this review officer.

I think the Premier, when he sat as Leader of the Third Party, was a big promoter of all-Party committees, but it appears now that they are in government that they don't share the same amount of enthusiasm for those committees as they once had. Again, Nova Scotians are left scratching their heads wondering why they said something when they were in Opposition and now that they are in government, they do the exact opposite of what they said they would do. One would say that that possibly is double-talk or speaking from both side of one's mouth. One is left to ask what Nova Scotians are going to really give as their assessment of this government's actions.

The other concern, Mr. Speaker, as I have raised a number of times, is the actual implementation of Bill No. 14. I have asked on numerous occasions for the Minister of Justice or the Minister of Health or the Minister of Education to give us some hint that they do have a plan in place, so that when we pass this legislation we can go home and say that we know that this bill is not going to create a burden on our small hospitals or on our school boards or on our schools, or the Collège de l'Acadie or our small community colleges.

All the Minister of Justice or the Minister of Health or the Minister of Education had to say was that we have a plan. I didn't expect details or step-by-step but just to indicate to us that, yes, there are bureaucrats working on this; yes, we do have a kind of mandate as to how the plan should take place; that something is being done. During debate the Minister of Health, when asked about this, just blurted out, well, I am too busy just pass the bill and then we will take care of it. That's not good enough. That's not good enough because when we go back as legislators and we are asked, did you ensure that this was the best possible legislation and that Bill No. 14 was going to do exactly what it was intended to do, we can't say that.

[Page 2356]

Mr. Speaker, that is one of our other major concerns and I would submit to you, again, this government could have easily given us an indication, because when I think of Bill No. 25, it was just the exact opposite. Any concerns we raised with the Minister of Justice, immediately when we went to the Law Amendments Committee he had the information there for us. When we suggested a change to the proclamation date, when we went to the Law Amendments Committee he already had the amendment drafted. There was great cooperation. The bill went through, it came here to the House, members of the Opposition gave compliments to the Minister of Justice, they gave compliments to this government, it was a very happy place, I would give as a summation, especially for a Friday morning. I thought everyone was pretty happy, everyone was pretty cooperative but, unfortunately, Bill No. 14 does not bring the same level of happiness.

It brings great sadness, because the government that brought Bill No. 14 in, the Minister of Justice who trumpeted in with the bill with great fanfare. I recall, I think he said five times, that he looked forward to amendments from the Opposition and he looked forward to changing this bill and making it the best possible Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bill. The Minister of Justice says, well, I have made changes. I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that they were simply minor administrative changes, not anything of a substantive policy nature. Again, I would put to you that his great sense of cooperation left him yesterday during the Committee of the Whole House when he voted down every single amendment from both the Liberal caucus and the NDP caucus.

That is quite unfortunate because again Nova Scotians are saying, well, wait a minute, he said that he would support all of these great amendments. I would surmise that our amendments from Opposition were very good amendments. Again, not putting an additional financial burden on this government or causing them any great hardship, I think all it was doing was providing greater accountability. It is unfortunate this open and accountable government - which I know the member for Kings South ran on the Tory ticket because of, because he was proud to be part of and he was looking forward to being part of an open and accountable government, as I would submit did my good colleague, the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury and all the other ridings represented by the Tories. I am sure, even my Tory candidate was running on, an open and accountable government. I think even he would be saddened right now to . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you vote for him?

MR. SAMSON: No, unfortunately, I did not vote for him. I did not buy into the open and accountable promise by this government. I was one of those who was pessimistic and suspicious of the blue book. I have come to learn that my pessimism and suspicions was certainly well-founded.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just remind the member, let's not forget about the bill.

[Page 2357]

MR. SAMSON: No, never do we forget about Bill No. 14, Mr. Speaker. It is always in our thoughts. It shall be in our thoughts for quite some time, as we recall the manner in which this bill was brought forward. If it was brought forward again, I would say it was knee-jerk legislation, coming from a government that is trying to make amendments for a serious political situation they had in the Premier's Office, and in the office of the embattled Minister of Human Resources. They threw this bill here in this House with great fanfare and while there are applaudable changes being made to this Act, it again comes down, I would submit to you, as with the Public Prosecution Service, to what has not been put in this bill which makes it fundamentally flawed.

The exact situation that we had with the Minister of Human Resources in the Premier's Office can happen again tomorrow if this bill is passed. It can happen again tomorrow. This government has not learned from its mistakes and it has not learned from this politically embarrassing situation. That is the unfortunate thing, Mr. Speaker.

The other big concern that comes is that yesterday, during the Committee of the Whole House, my socialist colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto, raised the concern that the Tories had some sort of an evil plot to remove Mr. Darce Fardy from his position, which was of great surprise to me and was of an alarming nature. Rather than get up and cast spurs at this government and at the Minister of Justice, the good member for Richmond stood, and I said, well those are very serious allegations. Mr. Minister, could you please rise in your place and simply indicate to us whether that is correct.

I could have stood up and either way agreed with the member for Halifax Chebucto that yes, this was really the Tories' intentions, that it was another evil plot by this Tory Government, but instead, I thought I did what was the proper thing. I stood and I just asked the minister, could you please inform me, before I go on any further, whether it is your intention to keep Mr. Fardy in his position, or, are you going to be putting in someone new? I must commend the minister, unlike many of the government backbenchers who have not stood when asked to do so, or challenged to do so, he did stand and he did give us an answer and unfortunately it wasn't the answer we were looking for.

It wasn't a clear sign to me. It wasn't a clear sign, I would submit, to members of the Opposition and it certainly was not a clear sign to Nova Scotians that this Tory Government, in fulfilling their commitment to make changes to Bill No. 14 was actually very serious about their commitment to better the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and that they weren't going to pass this bill. Then they turned around and suddenly the Minister of Justice indicated that they were having a job competition for the new review officer and that they were going to put in all of these crazy requirements that would possibly eliminate Mr. Fardy from his current employment. (Interruptions) Well, the Minister of Justice says I read a little more into it.

[Page 2358]

[10:15 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I would submit to you the problem is he didn't give enough for me to read into. I am not reading too much into it, I am having to read where there was nothing. That is the unfortunate thing, because the Minister of Justice could have clearly told me, member for Richmond, I give you the commitment on behalf of my government that Mr. Fardy, at least for the beginning mandate of this new bill, will remain in his position. I will assure you of that confidence. I will assure you that we are going to have a very competent person in this position, that we are not going to start from scratch with a new review officer who does not have sufficient experience in this business.

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately in Bill No. 14, the Minister of Justice did not give that reassurance. I would invite him to stand at any time here and tell me clearly, member for Richmond, we are going to continue the employment service of Mr. Fardy. We realize the importance of having experience in this position as we go through this transition stage of strengthening this Act. You need not fear that we are going to bring in a rookie to deal with such important legislation at this time. Unfortunately, the Minister of Justice cannot give us those assurances, so I must say I am left suspect of what their actual intentions are.

Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated in the past, there are serious concerns from our caucus, I have serious concerns about the impact this legislation will have. I think all members of this House, as elected officials, do applaud the notion of more openness and of Nova Scotians knowing where their money is being spent. But again, it comes down to the issue of how much of a burden are we placing on those institutions we value most.

I remember I spoke about the School Boards Association's presentation. Ironically after I spoke of that in this House, I received an e-mail from the Halifax Regional School Board saying they were never consulted by the School Boards Association and that they had no problems at all with being included under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, but it was that very last sentence which kind of made me smile when I read it. The very last sentence was: We look forward to your implementation plan and the allocation of additional funding for this position. That was the caveat to their support.

Mr. Speaker, I would submit to you that is the caveat to the support of this side of the House, knowing that there will be additional funding, and knowing that there will be a plan. I am sure when the Minister of Justice received that e-mail from, I believe, Mrs. Campbell from the Halifax Regional School Board indicating that they would be supporting Bill No. 14 . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Stella.

[Page 2359]

MR. SAMSON: Stella Campbell, that is what I thought. Unfortunately, it is quite clear that this government had absolutely no intention of providing additional funding. The Minister of Education, I don't think she has even turned her mind to this, and we already know that the Minister of Health is going cap in hand to anyone he thinks might actually give him a few dollars for his embattled Department of Health.

Mr. Speaker, on Bill No. 14, I know that we are putting an additional burden on our school boards, we are putting an additional burden on our hospitals, and it is unfortunate that this government, in trying to correct a political problem, is going to create difficulties for those institutions we value the most.

In terminating my comments, I want to tell you that while my socialist colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto, indicated everything that was wrong with this bill, said that they would be supporting it, I want to indicate to the Minister of Justice, to the Premier and to the members of this House that the Liberal caucus will not applaud this government for not having gone the whole way, for having gone only one-quarter of the way up the stairs and making Nova Scotians believe they have gone the whole way.

That is not going to be supported by the Liberal caucus, the Official Opposition; we will not allow this government to deny its responsibilities and its obligations. That is why on third reading I will be voting against this bill, our caucus will be voting against this bill, not because we disagree with it in principle but because of the fact that this government has refused to go the whole way with this bill and to truly fulfil the commitment that they made to Nova Scotians, I will submit to you, Mr. Speaker, the commitment that they made to you and to all members of this House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have the opportunity to rise today to speak on third reading of Bill No. 14, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. I would be happy to support this bill that improves the current Act and makes it better for the public of Nova Scotia. However, I find it difficult to support these changes because these changes are not about better serving the people of Nova Scotia. These changes are not about protecting the public interest or about strengthening the Act or about closing a loophole. These changes are damage control, pure and simple. The Act is not flawless; few Acts are.

Mr. Speaker, our review officer, Darce Fardy, has said the Act needs to be examined again and changes made. Perhaps we have been able to address some of the needed changes through the Law Amendments Committee process but the fact remains that Bill No. 14 was introduced because of a mistake. The Premier's Office made a big mistake. As I said, Bill No. 14 is damage control. It is hard to say how much damage was done when the spirit and the intent of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act was violated.

[Page 2360]

Mr. Speaker, we have seen and heard all kinds of reports from the media saying that the Minister of Human Resources took information that he never should have had and where he confronted a member of the media about it. This information was leaked to him from the Office of the Premier of Nova Scotia and I don't know why the Office of the Premier would be distributing this type of information anyway. So whether it was protected by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act or not, whether a loophole in the Act led to this information being leaked or not, regardless of flaws in the Act, the Premier's Office should know this type of behaviour is wrong.

The biggest loophole is the one in the Premier's Office and this is the hole that needs to be plugged. So before laying blame on flaws in the Act, the Premier should look at flaws in the way his office deals with sensitive information and put a stop to it. So instead, the Premier tried to defend the actions of his office staff and Bill No. 14 is the result.

I would argue that the process by which this bill has come before the House is flawed. It never should have happened, but I am glad it did because it gives us the chance to tighten the screws on the FOIPOP Act. Why? Because until this incident with the one-time Minister of Housing, the current Minister of Human Resources, this Tory Government never recognized there was a problem. In fact, the Premier never mentioned it back in 1996 when he introduced his own bill regarding the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The Tories certainly did not mention it during the election campaign. In their famous 243 promises, the only thing the Progressive Conservatives said about freedom of information was that they wanted to give the review officer a full-time job.

Under Bill No. 14, the new full-time review officer will be provided with a budget. He or she will also be required to file an annual report. This may be a good idea, Mr. Speaker, but it is in direct conflict with the Tory promise to reduce the size of government and to reduce red tape.

There is also the issue of how the review officer is appointed, I must add. At one time, Premier Hamm firmly believed that the review officer should be appointed through an all-Party committee but that tune has changed, Mr. Speaker. Now the Tories will be in full control of who gets the job.

Yesterday, Mr. Speaker, we saw the Opposition bring an amendment to this Act but, unfortunately, when that amendment was brought forward in the Committee of the Whole, we saw the government defeating this amendment. So it seems to me the Premier has lost the courage of his own convictions on this issue. I am not surprised since the Tories seem to have forgotten so many of the things that were important to them just a year ago.

As another example, the Sisters of Charity comes to mind and I am not going to go into that, Mr. Speaker. The promise of a full-time review officer is also great for job creation, but does little to improve the Act. The Tories promised us little to make this Act better for Nova

[Page 2361]

Scotians. The original Freedom of Information Act, as introduced by the former Liberal Government, was designed as a tool for the public to gain access to government held information.

Mr. Speaker, the Act balances the public's right to know and an individual's right to privacy. When the Liberals were in power, the Tories and the NDP turned the request for information on their FOIPOP into an art form. The Opposition turned the mechanism designed to help the general public in a way to clog an already overburdened system. They love to exploit public misconceptions, like about FOIPOP. Practically every day in Question Period, and I am sure my colleague here, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, would agree, the Opposition would wave a piece of paper they uncovered as a result of a freedom of information request. The impression . . .

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, to the member. He insinuated that I would be agreeing with a comment that he just made and I just have to, on a point of order, indicate to him quite clearly that I do not agree with the comment that he just made and that he attributed I would be agreeing to because, quite honestly, when we put in freedom of information requests, what we often got when we applied for information from the former Liberal Government were refusals and incomplete information being provided. So certainly I would not want that member to be leaving the impression on the floor, without responding to it, that I would be in agreement with the statement that he had just made.

MR. SPEAKER: I do not believe it is a point of order, but certainly a point well made. Thank you.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague here for his clarification. He is always welcome to (Interruption) Absolutely, it is always a pleasure.

Mr. Speaker, the impression was that the Opposition uncovered a little secret that the government was desperately trying to hide. That happened, practically, constantly. (Interruption) This led to much aggravation in many departments. I can look back on many of the requests that came forward.

AN HON. MEMBER: Good requests.

MR. GAUDET: Yes, good requests. I can say, Mr. Speaker, since much of this information that was actually requested through the freedom of information officer could easily have been obtained by a simple phone call. Now the Tories want to continue to put pressure on the system.

[Page 2362]

[10:30 a.m.]

With Bill No. 14, this government is suggesting that another level of bureaucracy be added to government, to schools boards and to hospitals. So the obvious question that comes to mind is, will this extra layer of bureaucracy lead to increased costs? That is a good question; we are still waiting for that answer. Everyone knows that school boards, hospitals and government cannot afford any more expenses. Under Bill No. 14, every hospital will have to devote the time and energy to process the FOIPOP requests, as well as larger hospitals, like the QE II or the Cape Breton Health Care Complex may have to hire new staff to handle these requests.

At a time when everyone agrees that we need to provide the best possible education and training for our students in the province, universities and school boards are already underfunded. Yet, who is going to pay for them to devote the time and resources to handle this new level of bureaucracy, the government? It does not appear so. Is the government going to fund the added layer of responsibility for the large number of agencies, boards and commissions? Many of these organizations have little or no budget. They cannot afford more bureaucracy without crippling their ability to fulfil their mandate.

Many questions are left unanswered by this bill. I guess the biggest question is, how will this bill fix the flaws that allow the Minister of Human Resources to intimidate a member of the public, a member of the media? This question has not been answered and yesterday, when my colleague, the member for Richmond, introduced an amendment to correct this situation, it was rejected by the government.

MR. JOHN HOLM: We did, it was the member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. GAUDET: My colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, makes a good point. It was brought forward by the member for Halifax Chebucto. So, thank you very much; a good socialist member, I agree. (Laughter)

This brings me back to the biggest loophole in this entire issue, and that is the leak that exists in the Office of the Premier of Nova Scotia. I think one of my fellow colleagues said it best when he said that the Premier's Office has more leaks than a submarine with a screen door.

I remember before the election, Mr. Speaker, the current Premier promised to run a campaign based on the unspun truth. So this means that the Tories were not going to rely on the work of spin doctors. Well, the little speech the Premier gave in this House on Thursday, October 28th was spinning out of control. This scandal received more spin than a baseball. It was embarrassing to watch the Premier deliver that little speech, and to follow it up with Bill No. 14 is most unfortunate. This bill does not address the fundamental flaw that the Premier blamed as the cause of this whole controversy.

[Page 2363]

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I will not be voting in support of Bill No. 14 and I will certainly yield the floor to other interveners. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I really had not intended to speak on this bill, but I got motivated, a little bit, by a previous speaker. I do not have any prepared text, and I am told that that is not always when I am at my briefest but I am going to attempt to be brief, however. The reason I am rising here is because I have to point out a couple of things. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am interested in hearing this.

MR. HOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have been a member of this House for some time.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Too long.

MR. HOLM: Too long, the member for Preston says; however, unlike the member for Preston, at least I do not hesitate to speak on the floor. He walked into that one.

Mr. Speaker, when I sat over here in the Opposition benches as a member of the then Third Party - the now government of the day sat over here - we both remember the Jobb Report being tabled. For over three years we waited and we tried to force out of the former Liberal Government, we tried to get from them, their response to the Jobb Report. We tried to get them to tell us what they thought about the recommendations. It took until after the last election and for them to be in Opposition for us to get the official reply from the Liberal Party to the Jobb Report, and that is that they rejected it. That explains quite clearly why there were no amendments brought forward before this time.

Mr. Speaker, I was interested in the former Speaker's comments, he was talking about the bill and he said he remembers regularly being told about - and I hope I am not misquoting him and I don't have the Hansard here obviously, but talking about - all of the freedom of information applications requests coming forward. I have to ask the question, how did he know about those as a Minister of the Crown.

AN HON. MEMBER: Psychic.

MR. HOLM: Was he psychic as somebody across the floor said or were Ministers of the Crown informed about freedom of information requests? I can't answer that question and I have no way of finding it out. I just simply raise it because of the words in the speech by the former minister. I don't believe that any minister of the former government or the current government should be advised if a freedom of information request is being made.

[Page 2364]

We in this caucus have steadfastly tried to get some fundamental improvements made to this legislation. Unfortunately, the government was not prepared to address those issues. They would not restrict the access, they would not prohibit the information or the names of who was applying for the freedom of information request from being provided to a Cabinet Minister and to restrict that information only to the person or people who are charged with dealing with that freedom of information request.

Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I am very disappointed that the government would not take that extra step, because when they were in Opposition they supported that provision. I am also very disappointed that the government would not ensure not only the actual but also the perceived independence in terms of how the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy officer is to be appointed. I believe that the appointment cannot be above question, it should not be above question.

The one way to try to ensure that is to have the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy officer appointed based on the recommendations from all three caucuses in this House. That has been done before with other positions; that is the requirement for the Auditor General and that has created no problems. But it not only creates the independence in the process but also creates the impression, which is extremely important because perception is often as important as reality. I am disappointed in that.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to be voting for the bill. (Applause) I am going to be voting for the bill because, although the bill does not go far enough, and because we will certainly still, in this caucus anyway, be pushing for improvements to the bill to address what we consider to be fundamental flaws, but I am not going to turn down half a loaf in favour of no improvements at all. The legislation is a step forward. I disagree with the speakers in the Liberal caucus when they are opposed to the school boards and the hospitals boards and other such bodies having to be covered by the Freedom of Information Act. We in this caucus had argued when the Municipal Act was brought forward that the municipalities should be included and have included, within the Municipal Act, provisions that were like ours under the Freedom of Information Act and that was done.

Let's face it, school boards and hospital boards are charged with carrying out important government functions, and they also receive public monies so they also have to be held accountable. I appreciate that that can cause some increased pressures on those bodies and that means that the government has a responsibility to ensure that there are sufficient resources for them to deal with, in a responsible manner, the added requirements that are going to be placed upon them. That is a government responsibility and it is one that they are obviously having to assume by agreeing to pass this legislation. I believe that the public should have a right to that kind of information.

[Page 2365]

So rather than saying I am not going to be supporting this positive move because of financial matters or possible financial concerns, I say to the government that I am quite prepared to support what I believe is a reasonable and responsible amendment and you, therefore, have the responsibility to ensure that the proper resources are there to carry out the responsibilities that are being passed forward. So with those uncharacteristically brief comments on my part, Mr. Speaker, I wish to indicate that, yes, I very definitely will be supporting the bill, not because the bill does all that I believe that it should do but because I believe it is a big step in the right direction. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable member it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, a number of members have made comments about the implementation of the FOIPOP bill. I was listening to the honourable members opposite, so I can provide information to the honourable members about the implementation plan for schools and universities. The Nova Scotia Department of Justice has an education approach which involves familiarization sessions, specific training sessions, a reference package of info materials, a periodic newsletter, follow-up training, and awareness sessions for staff. All of this programming will be provided at no cost to the universities and school boards to allow them, in a very cost-effective and efficient manner, to implement the Act. That of course is the reason why there was a one year phase-in for those institutions to allow this training to take place.

I must say that I note the criticism that was made by members of the Liberal caucus opposite, and it is odd to see that since this is exactly the same approach that they took when implementing it with respect to municipal governments. So I just want to indicate for the benefit of honourable members that we listened to them and there is an implementation plan which will assist schools and universities to implement this bill. Thank you very much.

With that, I would move third reading, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 14.

A recorded vote is being called for.

Are the Whips satisfied?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No.

MR. SPEAKER: Ring the bells for 10 minutes and then we will request the authorization of the Whips at that time.

[Page 2366]

[10:44 a.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

[10:56 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

AN HON. MEMBER: Give us a couple of more minutes.

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: I thought they wanted an hour.

MR. SPEAKER: I said I would ring the bells for 10 minutes and check with the Whips at that time.

[10:57 a.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

[10:59 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Are the Whips satisfied?

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: I am the Acting Whip of the Liberal Party, Mr. Speaker, and we would request the bells to continue to ring. We need more time, sir.

MR. SPEAKER: The request is for the bells to continue ringing. We will ring them for 20 more minutes and then we will come back at 11:20 a.m.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party on an introduction.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, to you and all members of the House, this is a Grade 8 class from Elizabeth Sutherland Junior High with their chaperones, Jim Bradbury, Art Horne and David Hinch. I want to again welcome you, as I did outside, and tell you, Jim, that when we resume debate, if you have left, I will get up and do the introduction again so that it will be on the record and then we will send the Hansard out to you, so everyone can have record of the fact that they have been to the Big House. All right. So, maybe all members present would join me in giving a warm welcome to our guests. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The bells will ring until 11:20 a.m.

[Page 2367]

[11:01 a.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

[11:20 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

Are the Whips satisfied?

The honourable member for Clare.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, we have contacted a number of our members. They are on their way to the House, so I anticipate if we could probably adjourn for another 5 to 10 minutes, please.

MR. SPEAKER: The hour for the bells to expire will be at 11:44 a.m.

Ring the bells. Call in the members.

[11:22 a.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

[11:44 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The hour has expired for ringing the bells.

Are the Whips satisfied?

Would the Clerk call the roll please.

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[11:45 a.m.]

AYES NAYS

Mr. Chataway Dr. Smith

Mr. Baker Mr. MacLellan

Mr. Russell Mr. Downe

Dr. Hamm Mr. Gaudet

Mr. Muir Mr. Samson

[Page 2368]

Miss Purves Mr. Boudreau

Mr. Fage Mr. Wilson

Mr. Balser

Mr. Parent

Ms. McGrath

Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Olive

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. Rodney MacDonald

Mr. Taylor

Mr. Dooks

Mr. Langille

Mr. Morse

Mr. Carey

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Hendsbee

Mr. Morash

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Hurlburt

Mr. Holm

Mr. Robert Chisholm

Ms. O'Connell

Ms. Maureen MacDonald

Mr. Corbett

Mr. Epstein

Mr. Estabrooks

Mr. Deveaux

Mr. Dexter

Mr. Pye

Mr. John MacDonell

THE CLERK: For, 37. Against, 7.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[Page 2369]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, as you know, there was a Grade 8 class here a little while ago from Elizabeth Sutherland Junior High and I wanted to make sure that I was able to get the introduction on the record, in Hansard, and then I could send that out to them and their teachers. They were here at period when the Liberal caucus was having a hard time finding some of their wayward members to come in and vote on this bill.

I want to, if I may, introduce again, 45 students and 3 instructors from the Grade 8 class from Elizabeth Sutherland Junior High. They are accompanied by Jim Bradbury, Art Horne and David Hinch. I want to thank them for attending and I know that they enjoyed themselves while they were here and learned a great deal about how this operation is run. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

Bill No. 18 - Petroleum Resources Removal Permit Act.

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

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to move third reading of Bill No. 18.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to be my characteristically brief self in the comments that I am going to make today but I do have to make a few comments on this bill that is before us. Now, I note that the minister has learned that this time, on third reading, he did not stand up and bring forward the assertions that really can't be backed up by saying how this particular bill improves things here in the Province of Nova Scotia and how it is going to make it easier to develop a petrochemical industry, for example, within the province, as he has said on other occasions.

Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, what this particular legislation does is really gut the legislation that is before this House right now. That is really not all that significant in many regards because the legislation that we passed in this House last spring really was not very effective in trying to do anything to develop the petrochemical industry anyway, because Nova Scotia, unfortunately, does not have sole administrative jurisdiction on the resources in the offshore.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that disappoints me tremendously with this government, as we heard again yesterday in the Public Accounts Committee and it is the kind of thing that I and members in my caucus have been talking about for a great amount of time in this House,

[Page 2370]

and quite honestly members of the Progressive Conservative caucus, when they were sitting on the Opposition benches, they also knew that Nova Scotians were being sold out with regard to our offshore resources, and I might add to our onshore resources.

What the legislation that we have before us does is it basically says that the Act that we passed last spring, except for one provision in that Act, has no force and effect unless the Governor in Council should proclaim them. Although the Act in itself is very brief, what it does is simply state that the Act that was supposed to have come into effect as of November 1, 1999, will now only be proclaimed if and when the Governor in Council should decide that they wish to proclaim it. This Act was pre-dated, it was backdated so that it would apply from October 31, 1999, even though it wasn't even introduced by that period in time.

The reason for that is quite simple, the legislation that passed this Chamber just a few short months ago had required that the government develop a permitting process so that those companies that are going to be exporting our resource from this province would have had to get a permit to export that resource. The Petroleum Directorate under the direction of this minister and this government failed to develop that permitting process. They didn't develop the permitting process, supposedly on the basis that, quite honestly, the government that went out on July 27th, on that date had completed the final contracts with their SOEP partners, and that those contracts therefore are going to take precedence over the legislation.

I had grave reservations when the legislation was introduced, and a review of Hansard will see that we on this side of the House had suggested that we didn't know that that legislation was even going to be constitutional if anybody wished to challenge it in the courts, because as I said earlier the Supreme Court in 1983 had in fact ruled that the resource belonged to the federal government. Subsequently what we had developed with the federal government was the joint administration of those resources. As we don't have sole jurisdiction it is really questionable whether or not we could have, in fact, enforced that legislation if one of those companies with pockets bigger than the Province of Nova Scotia wished to take us to court.

What is so extremely disappointing with the legislation that is brought forward is that we have and this government has done absolutely nothing to try to address the very severe deficiencies that currently exist. We aren't the only ones who talked about the fact that the former government had given away the back-in provisions for the pipeline to bring the gas from the offshore to the onshore and also our right to have ownership of the back-in provision for the transmission line that would have gone from Goldboro to the provincial border at Amherst. The Tories, when they were in Opposition, recognized that as well.

Mr. Speaker, had the government of the day - and I don't blame this on this current government - not given that right away and received zero in return for an asset that is going to generate literally tens and tens of millions of dollars in profit, we would have been able to receive a fee for that transport and the fee is regulated by the National Energy Board. They

[Page 2371]

traditionally give 12 per cent to 14 per cent return on capital investment. That is after your capital costs and your interest costs.

We have seen, for example, that the Utility and Review Board in the recommendations, when they are granting the application to Sempra, do not see a 14 per cent to 15 per cent rate of return on capital investments as being unreasonable and, in fact, they will not even have to go back to the URB unless the rate of return exceeds 20 per cent.

It was a cash cow, it was a tremendous opportunity for the government to have recouped major revenues for the Province of Nova Scotia and a way to have paid down the debt of the province that we owe through Nova Scotia Resources Limited, a debt which the Minister of Finance in his estimates told me will be $740 million by the end of December. A 12 per cent to 14 per cent rate of return on the investment to build that infrastructure would have been a guarantee of having many millions of dollars, anywhere from probably something in the range of - and these are quick calculations, but I would suggest anywhere - between $24 million to $50 million or more a year that could have been used and attributed towards that debt. Also, the other government gave up the rights to exercise the contract on LASMO, failed to do that and as a result LASMO was able to sell that to PanCanadian for which they received $60 million instead of the Province of Nova Scotia receiving that $60 million.

Mr. Speaker, the litany of errors and missed opportunities can go on considerably beyond that, but I am not going to go into all of those today because they are well known. There are a lot of times that one likes to have been proven to be right, but there are also sometimes that in your heart of hearts you want to have been proven to be wrong.

Mr. Speaker, these kinds of issues that I am talking about today are issues that I have brought to the floor of this House for many years. They are issues upon which I have spoken that in my heart I wished to be wrong. I wish that I could stand here today and say that I apologize for having been misleading or for being a fear-mongerer in the past and that I was incorrect. Unfortunately, I was not wrong and, unfortunately, those things that we and, quite honestly, the Progressive Conservatives were also saying proved to be correct.

That is a reality, but what we have to do, Mr. Speaker - and the government of the day said you had a plan, the reality is, yes, you inherited by assuming office a major problem that was left to you. Nova Scotians are not getting the fair benefits out of our resources, but this government now has a responsibility to try to dig us out of that mess. In the legislation that is before us today there is not even a first step to do that. There is nothing in this legislation that is going to enhance, one iota the ability, for example, for the Province of Nova Scotia to be developing a petrochemical industry in the province. We have no guarantees in any of the contracts, any of the agreements that were reached. We have none.

[Page 2372]

Mr. Speaker, I have no idea what your children do in their professional careers, or what their ambitions are, I have no idea what my children, my youngest who is in university now, I have no idea where his future will lead him nor do I know where the children of other members of this House, where they will be going in their careers or are currently employed. I do know that within this Province of Nova Scotia there are many families who aspire to have their children to have an opportunity to work in this province, to make a good living working in this province, providing secondary processing in manufacturing to our resources like those from our onshore and offshore resources.

We are getting extremely little in the way of royalties from our resources, approximately 1 per cent. The first couple of years will just about pay the legal bills for the Calgary firm that did the legal work in the initial negotiation stages.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Who hired them?

[12:00 p.m.]

MR. HOLM: The Minister of Justice, if he wants to get on his feet to ask me a question, Mr. Speaker, he seems to have a question. I would be happy to answer his questions on the floor because he knows the answer as well as I do about who hired them, but I am not getting into that at the moment.

I do not know that it would be reasonable to expect in a frontier market, the development of a frontier resource, I certainly do not think that it is reasonable to expect that our royalty rate would be as generous and as good as that in Alberta. I think that that is a little bit of dreaming in Technicolor but certainly the kind of royalty rates that we are getting are not reasonable either. I say to this minister, who has much on his plate, not only being the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate, the Minister of Economic Development, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, the Minister responsible for the Business Development Corporation and sometimes the Deputy Premier, Mr. Speaker, I do not know that this minister has, in spite of him telling us he is very capable, I am not sure that he has the ability to provide enough attention to all of the portfolios that are under his responsibility. So I hope that the Premier will provide him with some help, and I am talking about providing the best expertise, some guidance, as my colleague, the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour says, to enable him to try to weave his way through the mess that he has inherited.

We have, and I underscore this, because I believe this to the core of my being, I believe this sincerely, that we have squandered tremendous opportunities to this point in time. I do not accept the Premier's statement that it is all water under the bridge. It was stated yesterday in this House at the Public Accounts Committee that the cost of our mismanagement and lost opportunities could reach $1 billion. I believe that figure is high. I don't believe the figure of $1 billion is a true figure; I think it is somewhere below that, but there is no doubt in my mind that the figure is many hundreds of millions of dollars. That is an awful lot of water to let go

[Page 2373]

under the bridge without making a very concerted effort to try to find ways to address it and to try to recover some of that lost opportunity.

It is, Mr. Speaker, a very heavy responsibility that this minister and this government are now facing. I don't say that lightly. I am not being cavalier and I am not suggesting that the solutions are going to be quick and easy. Some of those solutions may well require the government taking the occasional gamble, a gamble that can pay tremendous dividends to this province. It is going to take some courage, and it is going to take some leadership, but if what we are going to be left with in this province is about 200, or 246 I believe is the total number of permanent jobs to have been left directly related to the initial phase one project, and that includes the people who are working on the production rigs, that includes those who are working in Port Hawkesbury and Goldboro and the fractionation and the liquid plant . . .

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I have listened to this nonsense long enough. I want to make one point that the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid in his utterances, and on previous occasions, accused the companies of not providing enough Nova Scotia jobs, I just wanted to inform him - and I think it is only fair - that Sempra has made the commitment that 75 per cent of the jobs in construction will be Nova Scotian and 95 per cent of the jobs in their operations will be Nova Scotian.

MR. SPEAKER: I would rule that in fact that is a justifiable point of order.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that it is certainly a justifiable point of information; however, as the former Premier would know and certainly from his many years of experience being a petroleum critic on the federal basis, Sempra is the distribution company and Sempra is not a company involved with the offshore directly. He would know that Sempra itself has nothing to do with the Sable project in terms of either the production or the fractionation or the liquid plant. He would also know that if I conclude in my remarks about the 246 jobs that are remaining, they include those on the production platforms, the fractionation plant, and the liquid plant as well as the tugs that will be supplying those.

AN HON. MEMBER: The supply vessels.

MR. HOLM: The supply vessels, excuse me, the supply vessels. I understand why the Liberals might be a little bit touchy on this topic, and I certainly welcome it when they do rise and interject something that is of a constructive nature. It is hard to understand why they might be defensive on what they might have done. (Interruptions) I am being motivated to continue.

The reality is that there is absolutely nothing in this legislation that provides or shows where this government is going to be doing anything to try to address the difficulties that it has been left with, and I freely admit that this government has many problems with this portfolio. You have many difficult challenges to face and I am not taking anything away from

[Page 2374]

that. I would not wish to be in the minister's seat, facing the difficult decisions that they are going to have to make.

What I am saying, as I wrap up my debate on this, is that the legislation that is before us - let's not pretend that it is anything more than what it is - it is a piece of legislation that simply states we are setting aside the legislation that we passed last spring and we are therefore going to be relying upon the contracts that were signed last summer as the former government was about to leave office.

Let's get a solid commitment from the minister and the government as he wraps up debate, that he and his officials and his government will be looking for the creative solutions, getting the best darn professional advice that you can possibly get to find ways to turn it around so that Nova Scotians will start to obtain the benefits, in terms of what are fair royalties but also, more importantly, to obtain what we desperately need and that is good, well-paying, long-lasting jobs for Nova Scotians. I acknowledge there will be some more work as lines are being put in the ground to distribute natural gas. That is not a question. If Sempra is approved by this government as a distributor, as recommended by the Utility and Review Board, there will be jobs created here in Nova Scotia. That is not a question, we know that.

What is also crucially important is not only the jobs that will be created in distributing and hooking up homes and businesses, but the jobs that can be created at the end of the pipe, in businesses and industry particularly in rural areas of Nova Scotia. If natural gas is able to be delivered at a lower cost, there are many parts of this province where certain kinds of industries could be developed that now cannot be. If anybody questions this, take a tour of some of the western provinces. Visit Alberta as I did a year or so ago and you will see in rural communities how those communities have been able to develop secure, long-term economic activity as a result of it being made available. That is one area that can be done. Another important area will be to be able to develop the secondary manufacturing of that product through the development of a petrochemical industry here in this province.

The legislation that is before us in itself does none of that, nor does it begin to address any of the other issues, Mr. Speaker. I know, as I said before, that the minister has a difficult job. I am not looking for the neat answers today, because you can't have them that fast. All I am looking for are the assurances that every reasonable effort will be made to try to address these issues. My last comment is that I don't anticipate that members of the former government will agree with very much of what I have said this afternoon. To put it that way is probably one of those major understatements. Thank you.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member said he was motivated. I didn't even plan to speak on this but I just can't allow this nonsense to go

[Page 2375]

unrefuted. I have never heard such blarney in all my life. It is extremely easy for someone to get up and say that the offshore has let people in Nova Scotia down, that there are not going to be jobs created for the offshore. Those are easy things to say, very difficult to substantiate.

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that the future in the offshore for the people of Nova Scotia is incredibly bright. I believe that the offshore will be there and thriving for 50 years in this province, easily, perhaps as long as 100 years. The potential in the offshore as has been described by the Canadian Geological Survey, including Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, is two-thirds the potential of the oil and gas in the North Sea. It may be more, but they believe it is at least that much.

We have, in the last two years, gone from signing a contract, a Memorandum of Understanding in December 1997, starting from scratch, to the point where we are going to be bringing natural gas ashore within a two year period. We entered into contracts with the Sable partners of which Nova Scotia Resources is one, with 8.4 per cent. We have a pipeline in place. We have contracts in the United States, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. We have now a distributorship that has been approved. We have royalties in place for future exploration. We have had difficulties sometimes with the oil companies and their agreeing that the royalties were fair, but they believe now that there has been a good arrangement made and the people of Nova Scotia are going to benefit.

[12:15 p.m.]

You cannot compare royalties offshore Nova Scotia with those on land in Alberta because when you drill a well on land, it is a heck of a lot less expensive than drilling a well in the ocean and the deeper the water the more expensive the well, but we have companies that are lining up to bid on the operating licences that become available. The royalties that we have in Nova Scotia will escalate as the companies - Sable in particular - get some of their money back.

Compare that to what would have happened had we been totally unreasonable, had we said to Mobil, Imperial and Shell, that we want more royalties, we want a bigger share. They would have said, fine, we will go and drill in Indonesia, or Nigeria, or the Ukraine, and we will talk again in 10 years time. How many jobs would we have created for our young people? How many of the courses that we have in the Nova Scotia Community College, where we are training our young people to work here in Nova Scotia, would we have? How many Nova Scotians who had to go to Alberta and other parts of Canada and the world to work would be coming back to Nova Scotia? Where would the prices in the Halifax Regional Municipality be? They would not be now where the list price is where you start in bidding up the sale price of your home. It would not be where you cannot get leased space in downtown Halifax when a year ago you could have a choice of leased space in any building in Halifax.

[Page 2376]

Sure, it has heightened the traffic problems. You have a longer wait at the rotary and the bridge but, let me tell you, the future of this province is very bright and the future of the Halifax Regional Municipality is extremely bright. We as a government took a lot of chances. We took the chance that the industry may not agree with the royalty regime, that when we insisted, as this bill will fortify, that the by-products remain in Nova Scotia so the ethanes, the butanes and the propanes could be used to create jobs in Nova Scotia, we did not know if this was going to be something that would turn off the perspective investors in the Province of Nova Scotia, but I want to say to you it did not. They are here. They are continuing to bid; more young people are being trained; more opportunities are being created.

We said that when the natural gas came ashore, we wanted all Nova Scotians to benefit from the distribution of natural gas. We said that natural gas had to be distributed to 62 per cent of the homes in Nova Scotia in all 18 counties in seven years. Sempra, one of the two applicants, said, we can have it to 78 per cent of the homes in four years in all 18 counties. They now have been granted the distribution licence. They have said that they will employ 75 per cent Nova Scotians in the construction of the infrastructure of the gas distribution system and 95 per cent of their employees in the administration and operations will be Nova Scotian.

This follows on the heels of the 90 per cent to 95 per cent Nova Scotians at the gas plant construction at Goldboro and the 90 per cent to 95 per cent Nova Scotians in the building of the fractionation plant at Port Hawkesbury. A lot of the things that we have done, the bringing in, the setting in of the rigs, a lot of things had to have a lot of foreign components because we just did not have the expertise initially, but we are developing the expertise, we are training our young people. I want to say that we support the legislation that the minister brought forward because it is in keeping with what we want to see.

When Nova Scotians look at less than two years to where we are with respect to oil and gas, the people that are involved, friends of theirs who actually got jobs in the offshore, people in technological industries, information technology, drafting, engineering, clerical work, who are actually working for companies who are doing contracts related to the offshore, who are working for companies who have moved from Calgary to Halifax, all of this in less than two years, and look at the future that this industry presents. The future that we are not only discussing as hypothetical, a future which we have seen in a manifestation of what is actually taking place, particularly in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

As the exploration licences go south and more exploration licences are granted towards the southern part of the province, other parts of the province will benefit in the south, on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. As we settle the dispute and the jurisdiction of the Laurentian sub-basin, people in Cape Breton will benefit. This will truly be a Pan-Nova Scotian industry that will provide jobs in all parts of this province.

[Page 2377]

I don't mind criticism, I don't have any problem with that, but what I do have a problem with is the doom and gloom that the New Democratic Party continue to perpetrate. I don't mind substantiated criticism, I don't mind being told that we were wrong, if someone could only tell me where we were wrong and how we were wrong. That is fine. Even if it is just a matter of opinion, that is fine: but the blanket allegations, people have to start feeling good about what is going on in this province. (Applause)

People have to start realizing that the future can be made here. We just cannot continue to berate our own province and our own prospects in this province. To do so is a travesty and treachery on our own young people. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak in favour of Bill No. 18, the petroleum resources bill. I want to start off by stating that I think the move forward by the government is one that will help sustain and build on the tremendous activities that have happened in the offshore. I, too, want to take a moment to speak to the comments that the member for Sackville-Cobequid made. It was interesting, he made the statement he would hate to sit in the minister's chair to make the decision (Interruption) And he never will. I hope he never will, never has the opportunity.

The reality is that particular member for Sackville-Cobequid never had to make a decision with regard to what is going on in the Province of Nova Scotia, never had to make a decision with regard to the future opportunities of this province, never had to make a decision that impacted positively for the future of this province. What he has been able to do and he has done all his life, is criticize every single initiative that has gone on to build the future of the Province of Nova Scotia, and he has done it without any fact, without any information. He has done it simply because he went to a couple of meetings and all of a sudden he felt he was now the next expert in regard to the offshore frontier development on the East Coast of Nova Scotia. Shame. Shame on that member. Shame on his inexperience and inability to understand what he is really talking about.

I don't profess for a second to say that I am expert in the offshore, I am not. I spent a few years on the North Sea, travelling around North America and talking to the experts and the presidents of the companies in industry and the people in the industry who have spent their lifetimes developing the whole offshore gas and oil industries. I have had the pleasure of meeting industry people in the Province of Nova Scotia that are by no means inexperienced in developing and working with the petrochemical industry, as well as with the oil and gas industry. For that member to stand here and talk out of both sides of his mouth on this issue is absolutely wrong. It is absolutely wrong.

[Page 2378]

I remember all too well the criticisms of investments that were made, and I remember back in 1993 and 1994 when we took over, NSRL had a $450 million debt. I remember the investments that were made, whether it was the combuoy or the Nordic Apollo or whether it was to do with the Rowan Gorilla costs and how that member and others criticized the previous government's investment in the offshore. He criticized waste and everything else. One minute he is criticizing investments and the next minute he is saying that is what we should be doing, going out and making investments and turning into an oil company now. Now he wants the government of the day to become an oil and gas business.

I am confused at the way he approaches these issues because he doesn't want to make a decision. He cannot make a decision and he will not make a decision because all he wants to do is find somebody to be able to criticize in regard to building a positive future for the Province of Nova Scotia.

This legislation that the Conservative Government is bringing in is a step forward in building and helping to secure a long-term future for the Province of Nova Scotia. I remember in this House the criticism in regard to exploration and what is involved with exploration. I can tell you, when you start drilling offshore, you can spend $50 million, like that, and you can have a dry well. You can lose $50 million overnight in this business. It is a tough business. It is a business that I think the now Premier is saying, the same as what was reported earlier by a previous government, that maybe what we should be doing as a government is allowing the private sector to run its businesses. Let them, the experts, know how to make it work and that government shouldn't be involved with it.

Well, I happen to agree with that. I happen to agree simply because of the fact, what do we know? What do the government benches know about offshore? Has anyone of them run a multi-billion corporation in developing offshore frontier activity? Certainly nobody in the New Democratic Party has ever done it and I don't believe anybody here has ever done it. So what gives us all of a sudden the sense that we would have all the answers when these companies that have been around for many years and have invested billions of dollars are the ones who know more about what is involved with the development of that industry than the New Democratic Party in the Province of Nova Scotia.

The member talks about all the losses in the Province of Nova Scotia. Well, I don't know what he is referring to; if he is referring to the articles in the paper today. If only we did this and if we had invested there and if we sold this and we sold that and done this and done that, maybe there would have been $1 billion. Well, I remember back in 1993 when we had a $617 million deficit in the Province of Nova Scotia. I remember a $450 million unfunded liability with NSRL. I remember the unfunded liabilities at workers' compensation. I remember the almost $1 billion unfunded liability with the Teachers' Pension Plan. Yet, this member was saying, yes, go and spend more money in developing the offshore in an industry that we know nothing about, that we should go ahead and spend hundreds of millions of dollars and take the risk. Take the risk.

[Page 2379]

Well, I, quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, know the taxpayers of this province work too hard and find it very difficult paying the taxes they pay to have government go ahead and try to waste money on a guess-by-golly basis. The member for Sackville-Cobequid is leaving now simply because he has had his fun. He had his fun at spiking comments that he has nothing to substantiate on and it is just because he is a puppet for someone else, or he has heard other answers from someone else and he wants to go on.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. I would advise the honourable member for Lunenburg West that the largest portion of his contribution to third reading has focused on the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid and I would ask him to direct his comments to third reading and to this legislation before him.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your comments. There have been a comments made and innuendoes that I think anybody in this room would be a little embarrassed about by the fact of the way he presented his so-called case in regard to going against Bill No. 18.

But for the doom and gloomers and the sky-fallers of the world here, the ones who say that everything is wrong, one only has to take a look at the Province of Nova Scotia today, where we are and where we were just a few years ago.

[12:30 p.m.]

In the oil and gas industry, when I talked to the offshore guys, when I talked to the industry here in the Province of Nova Scotia, they are excited about the future of this province. Yes, we have the SOEP project going, and I remember the work that went into developing that SOEP project, and that in no small way was a major feat, it was a tremendous amount of effort by government, by industry, by communities, and yes, by the oil and gas industries to make this a reality.

It is interesting when we hear comments in the House about the future, about children, well what we have been able to do, by developing the offshore, is creating a future for the Province of Nova Scotia, not only on the issue of the royalty regime, which I think the value of that royalty regime alone in the SOEP project is somewhere in the vicinity of $3 billion to $4 billion to the people of the Province of Nova Scotia. That is a lot of money, and that will continue to provide benefits to health and education and community services and natural resources and agriculture and all the other sectors of the economy as that continues to mature. We are only looking at one project right now, the SOEP project.

We are not even talking about the potential of many other projects that will happen off our coast, and when I had the pleasure to meet with some of the vice-presidents of Mobil worldwide, these people are in charge of exploration worldwide, these are individuals who have the responsibility for all future investments in exploration worldwide, this is a multi-billion dollar corporation, and when they say to me that one of the major frontiers in the

[Page 2380]

world today is the East Coast of Canada, and specifically Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, when they say that Nova Scotia's future in their view is strong and alive and will continue to grow, that gives me the assurances that people are prepared to put private sector money into this. This isn't with grants.

I remember in Alberta, western Canada and in other areas where the monies flowed from Ottawa to make these things work, even Hibernia had $1 billion or $2 billion of federal money to develop that field. This field, this SOEP operation was done by private sector investment of some $3 billion, $2 billion offshore and another $1 billion onshore. That investment meant jobs, tax revenue and opportunities for the future of this province.

This is only one project. It is 3.5 trillion cubic feet of opportunity. We know there is at least 6.5 trillion cubic feet out there, probably 10.5 trillion cubic feet, and some are even projecting it could be 18 trillion cubic feet to 20 trillion cubic feet of gas off our coast. That is sweet gas, that is gas that has a lot of condensates in it, that has a lot of opportunity to get into the petrochemical industry.

Mr. Speaker, I would say that we will see more projects, more exploration and more major development off our coast, not unlike what we have seen in the North Sea. When you are in Aberdeen and you talk to the people in Aberdeen about the potential, and they remembered back when, when that was just a starting industry and just beginning to be the offshore, it is now one of the centres of offshore development in the world. The technological advances that have been developed there, the industries that have grown, the jobs that have been created allows them to have strategic alliances with companies and partners literally around the world.

We have that potential right here in this beautiful Province of Nova Scotia. We have the human resources, we have the capability to move that benchmark higher each time we have the opportunity to develop the offshore. In adding value to the product in the petrochemical industry, it is another one that I think has a great potential here. When we take a look at the gas project alone, and then we start looking at the potential of the offshore in Newfoundland and the further offshore development that will happen in the Province of Nova Scotia, and I am confident that that will happen, I think the petrochemical industry will be one that will be a very vibrant sector and where the dollars really are and jobs can be in the future of this province.

I wanted to speak in favour of this, and I want to indicate that when investments are made today, that you don't always see the return immediately but here in the Province of Nova Scotia with SOEP, the investments that they have made only a little over a year ago has been showing dividends in jobs and economic growth and will continue to show those dividends not only in jobs, whether it is the supply vessels that are looking after the rigs or the operators of the rigs or the people involved with the fractionation plants and other

[Page 2381]

opportunities onshore. There is going to be a royalty regime that will provide additional dollars for the Province of Nova Scotia and that will continue.

Some would say, well, we should be spending more money, we should have spent money on pipelines and at that same time, I remember those same kind of people talking about, well, the offshore will probably never happen. We have heard it said so many times before. How many times in this House or in the Province of Nova Scotia did people stand up with little vials and say, this is the future of the Province of Nova Scotia, a decade or two decades ago? At many points in time - and I see members shaking their heads - people really questioned whether the offshore would ever become a reality. Well, today it is a reality. It is a reality because the industry drove it, the Liberal agenda drove it, the Liberal Government drove it and the industry drove it and the offshore industry drove it and we have it here now and they cannot take that away.

I think, Mr. Speaker, the proof is really in that pudding, no matter what some others would say about maybe this and maybe that and perhaps this and perhaps this and perhaps that and if only this and if only that, that is all gobbledegook. The reality is, the acid test is today. Today we have an industry that is growing, an industry that has buoyancy, an industry that has the public of Nova Scotia spinning in a very positive way by the potential of what this offshore can do.

I know that some members have said that they would not want to be in the seat of the minister responsible for the offshore. Well, quite frankly, I think we are honoured to have a minister who has the opportunity to help develop and secure further opportunities of growth in the offshore. I know the decisions that they make are going to be tough, because we made them, and they are not all perfect and they are not all right but I can tell you one thing, at least decisions are made and the proof of the pudding is, we are developing the offshore in the Province of Nova Scotia and Mr. Speaker, I want to support this particular bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise today to speak on Bill No. 18, the Petroleum Resources Removal Permit Act. It was with interest I listened to some of the comments of the member for Sackville-Cobequid and again, the rhetoric he continues to bring to this House and the doom and gloom about the future of this province. I can tell you that when I presented myself for office, the state of this province and the future that we had in the oil and gas industry was certainly one of the aspects that encouraged me most to become part of government, to become part of the Legislative Assembly to try to foster the environment needed to have the best possible future here in this province. I have no doubt in the recent campaign that the prospects for the future of oil and gas development were spoken about by my colleagues in the Strait area - the member for Inverness, the member for Antigonish and the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. I know that they are well

[Page 2382]

aware that our region stands to benefit most from the development of oil and gas exploration in this province, especially with the Sable gas project.

I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, there is an air of optimism in our area. Just recently the Richmond County Municipal Council did a study with Nova Scotia Power to identify and put together a business directory of all the businesses that could participate in the Sable gas project in order to help some of the companies involved in acquiring resources. I want to tell you, I believe the result was that 60 per cent indicated they expected that they would profit from the Sable gas project and that they would be actively involved.

I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, we are directly involved in Richmond County. In fact, the fractionation plant for the Sable gas project is located in Point Tupper. Again, there is a misconception that it is in Port Hawkesbury but I would point out to you again, that Point Tupper is in the beautiful riding of Richmond. We are very pleased to have them as part of our industrial park there because not only do we have the fractionation plant that will be dealing with the gas but also at the industrial park we have the major employers such as Stora, we have the Nova Scotia Power generating station and we also have USG, the gypsum wallboard plant located there, which are major employers of constituents in the ridings of my colleagues from the Strait area. We certainly recognize the importance that this is going to bring to our area, the importance it is going to bring to our province.

I want to commend the minister for bringing forward this legislation. It is another important step for us. I am very pleased to see that this government is moving forward with some of the decisions that we made. I am not here to say who made what decisions or who did not, the fact is we are on the road right now, Mr. Speaker. It appears that this government is going to continue on that road and is going to build on that and is also sharing the same optimism in the oil and gas industry that our government did when we were there. I think Nova Scotians are going to be the beneficiaries of that.

Mr. Speaker, as the second youngest member ever elected to this House, it is important in this province, and it is important for us as legislators to talk about the optimism that lies ahead for this province. We go back to our constituencies and we hear the continual complaints of how many of our young people are moving out of this province. I recall - and I am sure you have heard it yourself, Mr. Speaker - hearing that our biggest export is brains. We are sending young talent, educated, young Nova Scotians out-of-province and I would submit to you, as legislators, we have a duty and we have a responsibility, and Bill No. 18 is one step in that responsibility to establish an atmosphere and a spirit here in this province that encourages Nova Scotians to remain here, to have a career here, and to have the standard of life which they want here in their home province and in their home towns or communities here in this province.

[Page 2383]

It is unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, we continue to hear from some members of this House the doom and gloom, all the bad decisions, and this shouldn't be done. Anyhow, at one point someone actually suggested leaving the gas in the ground. Leave the gas in the ground. When we look at the potential of employment, the potential for development, the potential of energy that we have here, what an unfortunate statement to make.

Mr. Speaker, with that, I want to say again that we do have a duty here as legislators, this government has a duty to do its best to foster economic growth and development in this province. Bill No. 18 is a positive step in that direction. It is just one step. We see more and more applications coming in for exploration, not only offshore, but onshore, and it is important in this province.

We will make mistakes. There is no doubt about that. We are learning. I do not accept that we need to bring in all sorts of people from outside. We do need advice, but we also need some home-grown talent here in this province. We need to be able to take the youth of this province, take the professionals of this province and teach them. They are very intelligent. We have proven that; we have more universities per capita than any other province in this country, and it is important for us to take that and to have an oil and gas expertise which is Nova Scotia-based and Nova Scotia home-grown.

Bill No. 18 is one step on that way. The Minister of Education and the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate have a large responsibility to make sure that Nova Scotians are not left by the wayside in this development, Mr. Speaker. We have to keep on top of this emerging industry. We have to be the ones ready to take the jobs when those jobs come up, and I again encourage the Minister of Education to keep offering the necessary courses. The Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate must continue to encourage business to be directly involved with these projects and we have to continue to establish a sense of optimism and a sense of security for the future of Nova Scotians. As legislators, we must work together to ensure that we not only encourage it but, in the end, we do our best to deliver it. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 18 does not appeal to me. It is obvious that what this bill does is it allows the new Tory Government to sign on, lock, stock, and barrel, to the kind of contracts that the Liberal Government negotiated just before they left office. I did not like the Liberal Government's handling of the offshore, particularly the gas, and I am not encouraged by this bill that sets up the new government to adopt exactly what it is that the Liberals did. Now this focuses on one aspect of the bundle of benefits that we have to think about from the offshore. The one aspect that it focuses on is the possible development of a petrochemical industry.

[Page 2384]

[12:45 p.m.]

In order to understand this bill, you have to understand the whole history of the offshore in its context and all aspects of potential benefits that might have accrued to the people of Nova Scotia. What is particularly disappointing about this bill is that it accepts the limitations of what has been accomplished by the previous government. This is the first initiative of the new government with respect to offshore oil and gas and it doesn't improve jobs, improve the benefits regime, go back and look at any of the points that we heard at the Public Accounts Committee the other day; it doesn't do any of that. What it does is that it signs on to, yet again, another part of the weak range of benefits that the Liberals have allowed to accrue for Nova Scotia.

So you have to ask yourself what exactly is the range of benefits that an offshore oil and gas industry might have brought to Nova Scotia? What are the categories? Where do we look when we want to understand what the benefits might have been for Nova Scotians? It is quite obvious that there is a clear range of items that we look at. But there is a context within which we assess those benefits as well. The first is the realization that what we are dealing with is the last major natural resource of Nova Scotia. Furthermore, this is not a renewable resource. This is a non-renewable resource. What that means is that once it is gone, it is gone. It doesn't grow again the next year.

Offshore oil and gas are not like crops in the field. They are not like blueberries, they are not like the apples, they are not like wheat or they are not like agricultural produce. If it turns out that in one particular year you don't get the right price for your apples, blueberries or wheat, you take your losses that year or perhaps your small level of profits, and you hope that next year the marketplace will do better and it will be a whole new situation, you can deal with it again. That isn't the case with respect to oil and gas. If you don't get the right return, if we, as Nova Scotians, don't get the right bundle of returns, then we will have squandered a major opportunity. This is a once in 300 million year opportunity. That is how long it took to lay down supplies of oil and gas. It doesn't happen again. It happens once and that's it.

I heard the member who just spoke suggest somehow that it is foolish to let it sit there in the ground. Well it has been there in the ground for 300 million years. Every year that goes by, those commodities become even more valuable. They become even more valuable because we are well placed in terms of access to the most active market. The United States is interested in our gas. The United States needs our gas. It is American companies that came here wanting to develop our gas. Believe me, the price is not going down. So if it turns out that in order to get the best bundle of supplies, if we had to leave the gas sitting underneath the sea for another decade or much longer, in terms of geological time, in terms of getting the best economic benefits, that would have made sense. Indeed, playing hard ball with the companies in which the government should have suggested to them that they were in no rush, would have made a lot of sense.

[Page 2385]

Instead what we have seen is that the Liberals fell for the companies' line; lock, stock and barrel. This has been like Sam Slick all over again. The American traders came up here and they skinned us. They skinned us. Thank you very much, Liberal Party of Nova Scotia. Do you know what? Unfortunately the new government isn't learning these lessons. They are missing the opportunities to advance the benefits.

I said that what we start with is the observation that this is a non-renewable resource and that it is valuable. Within that context, you then have to look at the possible benefits that might have accrued to Nova Scotians. The first, of course, is access to the gas for our own local industries. That wasn't the basic conception of this industry. The basic conception was to extract the gas, run a big pipeline across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, hotfoot it down through the northern New England States to the Boston market.

That is what this project was all about. Questions of access to the gas by local Nova Scotian companies was far from the minds of those companies when they first started. It should have been on the minds of the government. It should have been on the minds of the government to say, this gas will not fuel industries in New England which compete with our industries before we get the chance to get the benefit of that gas ourselves. But that didn't happen.

There were minimal efforts made on the part of the Liberals to do that. You didn't hear the previous three speakers from the Liberal Party remind us about that, the minimal efforts that they made to try to keep the gas as a benefit first for Nova Scotians - first, not second, not third, not fourth or fifth in line after Massachusetts and New Hampshire and Maine and New Brunswick, Rhode Island. That is wrong. They should have been alert to that possibility, but they didn't do it.

I also heard the member for Richmond talk about the benefit of that gas to some of the industries in his district. He suggested that Stora was going to benefit from access to that gas or that Nova Scotia Power was going to benefit from access to that gas or other local industries, but that isn't going to do us any good. It does them some good, it does those companies some good. How is that going to do us any good?

The closest that the public of Nova Scotia might get to having major industrial customers like that take on gas as a substitute for the fuels they are now using is if by some remote chance those savings are passed on to their customers. That isn't going to happen with Stora, and we are not their customers anyway.

The best that might happen would be in the case of Nova Scotia Power, but have you heard them quantify it, have you heard anyone in the Liberal Party tell you exactly what the savings to the customers of Nova Scotia Power might be as a result of switching away from oil or coal to gas in terms of the price of their electricity? You haven't heard a word. Do you know why you haven't heard a word? Because the potential savings to customers, that is to

[Page 2386]

you and me and our residents and the businesses of Nova Scotia that buy electricity and the residents of Nova Scotia who buy electricity are infinitesimal.

Did Nova Scotia Power put that forward in the one opportunity of scrutiny of that potential, that is to say during the full year of hearings before the joint panel of the National Energy Board and the Environment Assessment Panel? They didn't. Do you know who put that forward, the one piece of analysis, Gas Metropolitan, the Quebec company? They did an analysis of what it might mean to Nova Scotia customers. Do you know what they pointed out? The use of gas might represent about a 10 per cent reduction in the fuel costs for Nova Scotia Power. That is good for Nova Scotia Power, but their fuel costs are only about 30 per cent to 35 per cent, something like that, of their total costs of running their company.

In terms of the ultimate savings to the company overall, it is going to be very small. Suppose the company makes savings, then where does that money go? There is going to be competition for those savings. There will be competition among shareholders who want to see greater dividends, among the management that wants to see better management compensation, among other employees who want to see greater employee compensation, among the demands for greater safety and greater environmental controls.

How much is going to be left over for savings to the customers of Nova Scotia Power? The answer is, very little. Although I think there is a case, of course, for substituting gas for some of the other more highly polluting fuels, this is not a money saving to people in Nova Scotia who are the customers of those companies. So let's be realistic. That is only one category of possible benefit.

What about jobs? There are two phases that you have to look at in this industry. One is the development phase and the other is the production phase. There is no doubt that in the development phase there have been jobs. There have been construction industry jobs but, do you know what, the agency that is charged with looking at the overall bundle of benefits, the CNSOPB, the Canada and Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, has been quantifying for us what the local benefits have been. They have not been immense. All the company undertook was a level of local benefits on the order of about 25 per cent, maybe 30 per cent, of their expenditures.

In Newfoundland the target that was required of the companies was 50 per cent local benefit. Now, why did the Liberal Government at the time agree to the lower level? The Sam Slick syndrome, they did not get enough, they were taken, we were taken. What the CNSOPB told us was that the level that they achieved the last time they measured it was around 20 per cent to 24 per cent. It was not even up at the level that was promised by the companies or supposedly extracted by the government. This was not good.

[Page 2387]

So although there was certainly some benefit during the development phase, it was not what it could have been. After the development phase there is the production phase. Do you know how many jobs there are in the production phase in this whole project - 240 jobs. This is not a big job producer. That is it - 240 jobs. That is nice, 240 jobs are fine, but we have 50,000 unemployed people in Nova Scotia. Don't get stars in your eyes and suddenly think that 240 jobs are going to make a huge amount of difference. They are not.

To hear the members of the former Liberal Government talk, you would think that they had somehow done something marvellous, wonderful, that we should all deeply appreciate. It is just a hard fact of life that in the production phase there are few jobs. I do not think they could have gotten more jobs in the production phase because that is just the nature of it, but the point is that when you add up the bundle of benefits, it does not mean that you can point to jobs as if this were the central feature of benefits.

I just heard the former Minister of Finance wave his arms around and tell us that we should not worry, this is only the first development in the offshore, there are going to be a lot more. Well, do you know what, he is not the only one I saw wave his arms around and promise us something in the sweet by and by because the proponents, the SOEP people did exactly the same thing. Now, be clear that in the National Energy Board hearings they did not make future production part of their promised bundle of benefits. They kept mentioning it, they kept hinting that it was going to happen. Well, they did more than hint. They kept promising that it was going to happen, but be very clear in your own minds that all they came forward with for approval was six SDLs, the one field that they have, six significant discovery licences.

The Mobil and Shell partners have interests in more than the six SDLs. They have interests in about 20 SDLs out there. So why did they not come forward and say, yes, although we are only going to extract from six of them right now, we will guarantee that we are going to extract from the other 14 that we hold interests in. Do you know why? Because they don't know that it is ever going to be economic to extract gas from those other SDLs out there.

[1:00 p.m.]

I listened for days to the direct testimony and the cross-examination of Dr. Goobie. Dr. Goobie was their chief geologist and she testified about the nature of what they knew as a result of years of drilling and examination of the cores that they took from the offshore and here is what she said. She said that gas molecules adhere to sand and other sub-sea strata and the problem is to get it out, to get it away from the sand and to do it economically, and to do that you have to do very careful examination of the geology of what you know of the core samples and of the economics of it and, until you do that fine balancing analysis, you don't know whether it is economic to recover that gas.

[Page 2388]

What she said was they only had enough solid information to allow them to come forward for a proposal for six of the SDLs and that was what was in front of the board; no more was in front of the board that that. That was it. Just those six SDLs because, after years of testing and drilling, they did not feel sufficiently confident that ever again, beyond those six SDLs, would there be economically extractable gas out there. Now we know there is more gas out there, what we don't know is whether it is economically extractable and we probably won't know that for years.

The conclusion from that is that as policy makers, as a government, you cannot make assumptions based on future possibilities. What you have to do is say this may be the one and only time, the one and only 15 years to 25 years in which we get to extract gas from the offshore; there may not be future projects. So if that is the case, we should be doing our planning based on maximizing our returns from this one play.

Now I said 15 years to 25 years. Why did I say that? Twenty-five years is the assumed life of this project. That is at the regular, daily, projected rate of extraction. Do you know something else we were told at the NEB hearings? We were told that they could pressurize the lines and virtually double the rate of extraction. The NEB ruling said to them that if the market demands that much gas, you can do it, go right ahead. Now what happens - the geologists were asked - if you do that? The answer was, well the six SDLs, this one play, would be gone in about 14 years.

So it is not going to be necessarily 25 years of a project. If the market demand is there - and it looks very much as if it is throughout the Massachussets, Boston area and the northern New England States - they could pressurize that line and it could be over in 14 years. Well, now that is a sobering thought, and I hope the policy makers on the government side keep that clearly in mind, because the predecessor government surely didn't.

Now what other possible category of benefits might there be? The other category was the back-in rights. Under Section 40 of the CNSOPB legislation, the federal government, although it had clear authority and ownership over the offshore, decided to grant Nova Scotia certain jurisdiction over the offshore, and part of that jurisdiction was the opportunity to acquire up to 50 per cent ownership of the offshore pipeline. It was up to the Liberal Government of the day to declare whether they were going to do that. They made a policy decision, at some point in there, not to be in the oil and gas business. So they, when they were called upon by the SOEP partners to declare themselves as to what their interest was in the 50 per cent of the offshore pipeline, they wrote a letter out of the Premier's office at the time and said, no, we are not interested.

Now, as it happens, I had the opportunity to cross-examine the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources about this decision. Why did you do this, I asked him? Well, he said, the Government of Nova Scotia decided it didn't want to be in the oil and gas business. Well that's fine, I said, there are lots of ways not to be in the oil and gas business. Did you, for

[Page 2389]

example, sell this right to the SOEP companies? No, he said, the government didn't sell its right. So you didn't sell your right for cash, I said. Did you maybe swap it for something else? Did you recognize its value and did you swap it for some other economic interest? No, he said, we didn't. You mean, I said, it wasn't a factor in your negotiations over the royalties? No, he said, it was not a factor in our negotiations over royalties. Could he offer me any explanation as to why the government of the day did not recognize the economic value of the back-in rights? No, he could not, nor has the former government ever gone on record explaining what their thinking was.

So we are left to guess. The best construction that anyone could possibly put on that was inexperience, ineptitude and poor business skills. That is the best construction. It is exactly that kind of indictment of the Liberal Government's record in the offshore oil and gas that we heard two days ago from Jim Livingstone, a man who has great credibility in this area, a man to whom the Liberal Government, after they fired him, was obliged to pay $500,000 because they had no choice since they clearly, wrongfully fired him. A sum of $300,000 of that $500,000 was, I believe, tied to his contract, but the $200,000 of the $500,000 was the equivalent of punitive damages because they had attempted to tarnish the reputation and acted maliciously with respect to this man.

If the Government of Nova Scotia had had a good defence, I rather think that they might have raised it and resisted the negotiated claim for $500,000. That speaks for itself. That speaks volumes. It is just as obvious as it could possibly be that this man has complete credibility. Do you know what he was suggesting to us? He was suggesting to us exactly what I have just pointed out, and have pointed out for several years, that the giveaway of the back-in rights was a scandal. It shouldn't have happened. There was no explanation and it shouldn't have happened.

What other possible categories of benefits would there be? Well, that gets us down to royalties because if most of the other categories are either speculative or derisory or minimal, then the real focus should be on royalties. But what about the royalty regime? Well, I heard the former Premier try to defend his royalty regime here a little while ago. He talked about how it costs a lot of money to drill an oil well, a gas well, on the offshore. Well he is right; it does cost a lot of money to drill a gas well on the offshore. But the question isn't how much it costs, the question is, how risky is it? He didn't talk about risk.

Now in those six SDLs, the companies are very willing to go forward. and that royalty regime was only developed after they knew that there was enough gas there. In other words, they had already taken the risk. When the royalty regime was finally developed, risk wasn't a factor any more. When you compare the royalties that we are going to be getting as a province to the royalties that would flow in any other jurisdiction in the world, they are derisory. I heard the former Minister of Finance a few minutes ago try to tell us that it was going to be $3 billion or $4 billion. What silliness. It is not $3 billion or $4 billion. The most that has ever been put on the royalty account is about $3 billion and it was a figure that was

[Page 2390]

put out by one of the former Ministers of Natural Resources, I think Mrs. Norrie. That is cumulative over 25 years but, do you know the crucial thing, that is before you take 70 per cent of that away because of the equalization arrangements between the federal government and the provinces.

AN HON. MEMBER: Forgot about that.

MR. EPSTEIN: Forgot about that, just kind of forgot to mention that, whoops. So the most we can get is about one-third of that. In fact, for the first time in the estimates, I think earlier this year, maybe in June, we finally got some figures from the Department of Finance about what they think the actual royalties might be. Do you know what? The cash amount net to Nova Scotia after deductions, after the 70 per cent, might be around $700 million or $800 million. That is spread over 25 years but built into that - in and of itself this is not a huge amount of money. Don't have stars in your eyes. Don't think suddenly there is going to be a Heritage Fund like in Alberta. Don't think that everyone is going to have a job. Don't think that there will be no sales tax. This is not even remotely in that ballpark.

Don't forget that we are carrying around a $10 billion debt and so maybe over 25 years we might get $700 million. That is very nice. It is good to have. That is terrific but don't get stars in your eyes, don't think that this royalty regime is anywhere near what it ought to have been. Built into that $700,000 figure are a lot of assumptions about the kinds of expenses that the company will be able to write off against their cash flow before the calculation of royalties takes place. We all know with respect to multinationals, nothing is easier for them to do their accounting between one company and another that they own to show profits or losses, or smaller profits in one jurisdiction compared to another and, believe me, if they did not like our royalty regime, that is exactly what they would do.

We could have nailed it down in a lot different way than was done under that royalty regime and I do not hear this government saying that it is about to change that royalty regime and do something about that. Instead what they give us is a bill in which they say we liked the contracts that the Liberal Government signed and, by golly, we want to sign on to them too, we can hardly wait, thank you very much. (Applause) Listen, I am not finished, I mean thank you to them for doing that. That is not what we want. (Interruption) I do appreciate the applause. That was good. I can see that in addition to a Whip we are going to have to have an official clucker at some point.

It is unbelievable that we do not hear anything from the new government about the royalty regime. As Mr. Livingstone pointed out, in Alberta what would be paid to the provincial government would be a royalty regime that would give them 24 per cent regardless of the expenses of the company. It would be based on the price of the gas. Alberta, which has a lot more experience in this than we have, has not signed on to take the risk as part of its royalty regime of the company's expenses. They have said to the company we own 24 per

[Page 2391]

cent of the gas. You can pay us cash or you can give us the gas and we will sell it ourselves. That is it, end of story.

Furthermore, they make distinctions in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and in the other gas producing provinces among different categories of gas because there are different parts of the gas that can be taken out. Some of them have more value in the market place than others but our royalty regime doesn't do that - I beg your pardon, the one the Liberal Government negotiated on our behalf, it is not one that we would have adopted. We would have had the common sense to look to see what the other provinces did first. It wasn't hard to find that out. It is easy. It is part of the public record, it is in the Statutes of the other provinces, you can look it up. Now we hear that the Liberals paid - what was it? - $4 million for the background legal advice they supposedly got for negotiating this royalty regime. Well, that was terrific. That was just great. Again, you are signing on to this, you are saying you love it you are not doing anything about it? If you are so mad keen on raising taxes, you might start thinking about the royalty regime for the offshore.

[1:15 p.m.]

This finally gets us to the last category of potential benefits that we might have as a province in Nova Scotia, which is the development of a petrochemical industry. But I have to say, this isn't going to do it. This bill isn't going to do it and the members opposite have to understand that when they deal with a one page, three clause bill, that seems on its face to just do something simple, there is a context within which they are operating, it means something. It is part of a history. The history here is a disgraceful history. It is a Sam Slick history, it is a history in which Nova Scotians have been skinned yet again, compliments of the former Liberal Government. It is time that the new government woke up, recognized this and did something about it, and this bill doesn't. This bill simply doesn't do it.

Now I understand that the companies that they are dealing with are huge multinational companies. Now that Mobil has been acquired by Exxon, and Shell is the other partner, these are huge companies, they have hot and cold running experts on everything and they have profits that are twice as large as the total revenue and expenditures of our whole government. But do you know what? We are the ones who own the gas. We have leverage. We can decide that regardless of their size, regardless of their expertise that we want to play hardball. Do you know what? In case you haven't noticed, although they keep writing articles about it all the time, the infrastructure is there. The pipeline is in the ground. Are they going to walk away? I don't think so.

This is an ideal time to be playing poker with them; ideal. Nothing could be better, especially given the results from the federal Court of Appeal halting the pipeline at the moment. The Nova Scotia Government is in an ideal negotiating position. Do we see any hint that this is taking place? We don't. We see a mad rush from the government to say, oh my God, how could the Aboriginal community have held up this project for export of our gas to

[Page 2392]

the United States? That is what we see. We see a three clause bill saying, we love the Liberal contracts and we are in a big rush to sign on as well. We don't see anything that is any different. It is no wonder that in the NDP we often say, Liberal, Tory, same old story. Well, it is the same old story. This is an opportunity. You are supposed to be the ones who have business expertise, you are the ones who tell us that we haven't a clue when it comes to business. I deny that, this is nonsense, but where is the factual evidence? It looks to me as if members opposite are twice as scared of dealing with the oil and gas companies as the Liberals ever were. This is an opportunity. This is a business opportunity. Pay attention.

Jim Livingstone, who is not one of us, so far as I know, who is an entrepreneur, President of a junior oil and gas company, K2 Energy, who has been busy making his career over the years developing oil and gas fields, working, he is a Nova Scotian who is concerned about Nova Scotia and do you know what he suggested? He suggested that there is a place to turn Nova Scotia Resources Limited into a dynamic, essentially privatized company. But what he is saying is that the government has to work with it first to strengthen its viability in the market place. He was saying, don't give Sempra the gas distribution rights, give them to NSRL, make it a valuable company. He said, see if you can do anything about recovering that back-in right, that 50 per cent ownership. He was saying, give them rights to continue to explore in the offshore. Now he wasn't saying it because he thought that long term it should be a Crown Corporation. What he was saying was that short term it should be a Crown Corporation and then sell it off to the private sector and take your $700 million of debt and convert it to equity. Convert debt to equity.

Now Nova Scotia has done that before. In fact, you did it when you privatized Nova Scotia Power in 1992. Part of the Nova Scotia Power debt at that time was converted to equity. Shares were sold, the revenue that flowed as a result of the sale of shares was used to pay down the debt. The same thing could happen with Nova Scotia Resources Limited, so Jim Livingstone tells us. What you do is you strengthen that company's pace, you sell it off and the $700 million of debt that we owe becomes shares that we own and sell those shares off and instead of having $700 million of debt, let the private investors take it over as equity and we can pay down $700 million of debt. I haven't heard a word from the other side about the wisdom of that. The Liberals, faced with this, threw up their hands and tried to then abuse Mr. Livingstone, they made personal attacks against him, it was unbelievable.

Mr. Speaker, this bill does not offer sufficient explanatory notes. What this should say is, we, the new Tory Government, are about to sign on to the failed Liberal plans and policies for offshore oil and gas. Let me tell you, I cannot find words to express my deep disappointment. It is wrong. This is a missed opportunity. This is an affront to those who have given reasoned criticism over the years of everything the Liberals have done. It is a betrayal of many of your own criticisms of what the Liberals have done and I cannot think of any good explanation for what you are about to do. With this bill, the only logical explanation is the one I suggested for the Liberals. It is a question of being scared, of inexperience, of ineptitude.

[Page 2393]

Now if there is any other explanation, I would be happy to hear it but I simply don't think it exists. I can't support this silliness.

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: I am pleased to stand this afternoon to respond and to speak a little on an Act to Amend Chapter 7 of the Acts of 1999, the Petroleum Resources Removal Permit Act. I notice that throughout the speech given by my colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto, despite the fact that he challenged the Liberals on a number of occasions to defend their dismal record, not one of them commented or stood and do you know why, Mr. Speaker, because they can't. They can't stand and defend their record, they can't. That is simply the case, as we are here today.

Mr. Speaker, I was disappointed. I, too, was in that Public Accounts Committee meeting and I paid close attention to the debate that took place there and the examination by the member for Kings South in which he pointed out that this was, in fact, a $1 billion bungle that rested on the shoulders of the former Liberal Government and to stand here, to sit in this Chamber and to listen to the former Finance Minister stand up and attack, through this bill, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, who has stood like a tower of common sense on this issue right from day one, I think is just inexcusable, Mr. Speaker, inexcusable.

Mr. Speaker, we sat here in these seats and we listened to Mr. Livingstone go through a litany of indiscretions by the Liberal Government that has cast this industry into disarray. The people of Nova Scotia are not getting the due from their own resource. It is a shame. Mr. Livingstone was kind enough to point out to us that while he was doing business, I believe he said, in the State of Montana, he was paying a 32 per cent royalty, I believe he said, to the people of the Blackfoot Nation. Can you just imagine what shape this province would be in if we had that kind of a royalty regime; how much better off the people of this province would be had the Liberal Government demonstrated even a little bit of backbone in their negotiations with the oil industry?

AN HON. MEMBER: They didn't understand it.

MR. DEXTER: They didn't understand what it was they were to do. They displayed the most callous incompetence, might I say, compound incompetence, throughout those negotiations. It is a sad legacy that this province will have to live with for years to come, Mr. Speaker. It wasn't just the royalty rate. He talked about the monetizing of the tax pools. That is when you sell tax losses, you try to regain some of the money you have lost by selling those losses to another partner who can then use that to write off against new profit. This was a way to raise revenue for NSRL. Yet, they squandered the opportunity, costing in the vicinity of $50 million to the Province of Nova Scotia, and it is a disgrace.

[Page 2394]

Mr. Livingstone talked about the sale of the western properties that belonged to NSRL and how the value that was achieved for those properties paled in comparison to their actual worth. He suggested that the ultimate purchaser of that property was employed as a consultant and knew what their actual value was, but there was no third party audit of the transaction to ensure that NSRL got the actual value of those properties. That is a disgrace, as well, Mr. Speaker. I can't believe the temerity of the former Liberal Government and its members who still sit in this Chamber, when they rise to attack the member for Sackville-Cobequid who has undoubtedly achieved a level of self-education with respect to this project, with respect to the components of the gas and oil industry, to a much larger degree than was ever achieved even by the minister who was responsible for the Petroleum Directorate at the time.

So, Mr. Speaker, I have no time for a minister or members of a former government that would stand and use this bill as a platform to try and attack a member who has done the kind of work that all the people of Nova Scotia can be proud of. I have no time for that whatsoever.

As regrettable as it is, it doesn't let the present government off the hook. The responsibility falls to the present government to ensure that the people of Nova Scotia get the best possible return on the investment. They get the best possible return on the resource that belongs to them. Do you know, Mr. Speaker, that we have an unfortunate habit in this province and, in fact, I would suggest in North America generally, in that we always describe success in terms of how fast you can deplete a resource. That is the way that you measure success. They call it productivity gains, but what it means is that you are using up your resource as fast as you possibly can in order to achieve the highest profit level and to pay that out to your shareholders.

The reality is, Mr. Speaker, when you do that, a resource like this which is non-renewable, once it is gone, it is gone. I have heard the member for Halifax Chebucto say on many occasions that it doesn't work, gas molecules don't get together at night and reproduce; once they are gone, they are gone forever. So the exploitation of this resource means that you have to achieve the best possible result now, because you only get one shot at it.

[1:30 p.m.]

The royalty regime that exists today means that the total amount of money that will come back to the province is somewhere in the vicinity of about $3 billion over a 25 year period, Mr. Speaker. Even that, in and of itself, is not the kind of money that you would require to build a heritage fund as they have in Alberta.

I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, in Alberta, as in Saskatchewan, they made sure that there was a Crown-owned energy company that looked after their resource. Mr. Livingstone pointed out that the last shares in Alberta Energy were sold off to the people of Alberta in the

[Page 2395]

last couple of years and reaped again a huge profit, which was able to go into the hands of the government into the consolidated general revenues to be used for the general welfare of the people of the province. Where did they learn that?

They learned it by watching Allan Blakeney and what was going on in Saskatchewan. They understood that this was the best way that you could get the best out of your own resource, that you could capitalize on the one-time use of a particular resource, in this case it is gas and oil.

Mr. Speaker, people may not know this but SaskEnergy that was set up and run by the Government of Saskatchewan is one of the most successful energy companies in the world. Although its name is Saskatchewan Energy it doesn't just work in Saskatchewan, in fact, they have projects around the world. They came here to have a look at our industry and to decide whether or not they were going to bid for the distribution rights but having looked at the deals that had been negotiated and after having invested a lot of money in an examination of what happened here in Nova Scotia, they walked away, because they said, you have already squandered this resource with the deal that you have. They weren't alone. There were some other companies who did just cursory reviews and decided that it was just not in their interests to be able to compete under these circumstances.

So what we have done, Mr. Speaker, is we have wasted an opportunity, we have wasted a resource and we have ultimately done a huge disservice to the people of our province. It will be, as I have said earlier, a sad legacy for many, many years to come.

I want to say, in closing, I didn't want to take up too much of the time of the House today with respect to this bill. I don't think that this bill does anything to correct the situation that exists today, I am sorry to say. As you may know, I have a great deal of respect for the Minister of Economic Development but I am sad to say that I don't think that this does anything but to sign on to a bad deal. I think in his heart he knows that, Mr. Speaker. He knows it and perhaps he feels that he is handcuffed, perhaps he feels he has no choice but I am hoping that in the end he will be able to find a way to ensure that the people of Nova Scotia get a better deal than what they got as a result of the absolute incompetence of the former Liberal Government. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I just want to speak briefly and I guess more on the economic impact of some of the offshore and some of the petroleum industry spin-offs that we are seeing in our constituencies here, locally. I am not an expert in this area but seeing as how that didn't hinder some of the previous speakers, particularly those on my left from getting up and mouthing off that I thought maybe I would use my opportunity as well. I don't know if mouthing off is not parliamentary, it is just not nice. (Interruptions)

[Page 2396]

Anybody speaking on that side, their main strategy in dealing with natural gas was to leave it in the ground, it had been there for 300 million years and why bother the poor gas. That, I guess, is part of this attitude that I have grown up with and tried to overcome in my lifetime. A fellow says, you have to be an optimist, really, to decide that there is nothing on the other side of the coin. But it is attitudes like that that I really think we have been fighting against and we are gradually breaking out of, here in this province.

So I want to speak in support of this bill, Mr. Speaker, and wish the government well as they continue in the efforts of developing the offshore and having those benefits realized by people in all parts of Nova Scotia. Coming from a rural community. I know how important some of these initiatives have been in the Port Hawkesbury area and in Guysborough County particularly; an area, when I was Minister of Municipal Affairs, I remember visiting, and the municipal units in that part of the province as having the most difficulties in meeting their basic core services to their constituents, to the people who lived in those areas. So the attitude of Nova Scotians has really bothered me over my years, particularly having had the opportunity to go to the West Coast and come home, not that I chose to live in the West Coast, this is the area that I prefer, but it bothers me when we hear the kind of talk that is going on here this morning in the Chamber, the negative aspects, that Nova Scotians have been taken advantage of again.

I remember some of those discussions we had in Cabinet and they were difficult discussions. The oil companies and the petroleum industry are well-versed and capable, with lots of support, a lot of legal talent and high-powered help, and they are able to drive some pretty tough deals. You have to make decisions whether you are going to be players in that role or not. I can remember we had some soul-searching to do on many occasions, and although not actively involved in negotiations, I certainly was apprised of them. I think that we did as well as a government could for this province. I just want to highlight some of the things that I see as very positive spin-offs, why we need good legislation and why I want to support this to further support the industry.

We see young people coming out of rural communities now, becoming specialized welders for the offshore - with the training programs in community colleges. I think you can talk about the construction phase of natural gas, only so many jobs, and you can put down 200 to 250 jobs, but we know generally we have shown one of the largest growths of any province across this country, along with Newfoundland. Quebec did a bit extra, but that was mainly as a result of their infrastructure repair following the ice storm. So this has been very positive and it is very important if we are going to break out of that cycle of a have-not province. I think hopefully over the next few years we will be able to see that.

I look at HRM here in our own particular area, and look at the Burnside Park and see the new developments there. I know the member for Dartmouth South is always looking for initiatives in ways to improve the community of Dartmouth. We have seen many spin-offs there and he would agree with me on that: Secunda Marine and those types of initiatives. To

[Page 2397]

sort of make light and put that down and say just leave the natural gas in the ground, I cannot follow this way of thinking. It wouldn't have taken much to have these companies leave for Indonesia and other parts of the world

During election time, Mr. Speaker, we tend to get around our communities sometimes in areas that we normally don't frequent. What struck me in our community this year and even over 1998, was the successes and numbers of new small businesses, employing oft-times three or four people, sometimes 15 people. You look at that, it is the general economy and this has been mentioned. For example, if you are selling your home, I read the other day that homes over $200,000 had gone from 10 per cent of the market to 20 per cent of the market. How people have chosen this area as the destination to live. They are buying into the real estate economy and are looking at places like Bedford, where they can access the airport quickly and those types of initiatives. That is what people are looking for.

It is so important that Burnside Park in Dartmouth and the other industrial parks have services for these groups. This is why it is so important to have strong legislation that is supportive of this particular industry. So to say that this is something that is really a negative, just bothers me. It bothers me when I speak to people who have gone away. A friend of my wife's was speaking a while ago - she had worked in Ottawa for many years, she is from a prominent Halifax family - and she said the thing that strikes her is the negative attitude of so many people in Nova Scotia, that nothing good ever happens, it is all going to be negative. I think that is really sad to hear those comments from learned people, people who have actually cost the taxpayers money in this province, who trained them as lawyers and other people and they still have that terrible, negative attitude. I really can't understand that.

To say that businesses came here and looked away, well maybe they were not able to compete in some other area, but I think there are a lot of companies, from small business to moderate-sized businesses that have done very well. I personally have had the opportunity to visit one of the offshore rigs and met the people there. I saw people working on those rigs that I realized were patients of mine or their families were patients of mine. So I have known them and have followed their careers. They have come from the North Sea, through Indonesia and other countries; they can go anywhere in the world. We are living in a global market and nowhere is that more demonstrated than in the offshore. It is so important to this province, along with our technological companies, our computer companies, in concert with our community colleges and universities, we are becoming a world-class destination of a place to live and a place to visit.

So these companies have options. You can say the deal hasn't been the best that could have been, but I am really surprised when we go for the things that were talked about by Mr. Livingstone yesterday. I remember some of our earlier discussions. He came in to work under a contract signed under the Cameron Government and it did cost money to get out of. Maybe the NDP would hire him back, I don't know, if they were government. They are welcome to that because our decision was, that was not a viable relationship and I am surprised he is not

[Page 2398]

hawking the Russians or something like that, which is really about the level some people are functioning at; all the things they bring into our economy and I suppose we could learn a few lessons from them.

I really want to say that along with the G7 and the tourism enjoyment, the rate of tourism, the increase particularly, people coming to visit our place that we have grown up in, this place called Nova Scotia, New Scotland, that they are coming for Celtic music, the friendly environment, the friendly people and now we have a viable economy that we can be proud of, so we don't have to really say that we are a have-not province anymore. We are on the road to recovery and I think the arrangements that the previous government made, I hope this current government will continue, that this will have an integral strong infrastructure that will support the petroleum industry and support the social and health-care needs of the people of Nova Scotia.

We are competing in a global economy. We are an economically viable unit. I think that is why it is so important that the HRM joined together the four municipal units into a viable unit and now we will become a world-class destination. It is a positive place to live, there is a great quality of life, a destination to visit as a tourist. I just really want to go on record here; I am very positive and very proud to be a Nova Scotian. I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to grow up in a coastal community, to live now in an urban setting. Shame on the media and some of the other attitude perpetrators and the NDP; if I just look around and see who their company is, the company I do not mean as an industry, I mean the company of who else is poor-mouthing Nova Scotia. This is the place to live and I say shame on all of them. Thank you.

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would move third reading of Bill No. 18.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 18. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 2399]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, could I 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 Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the member for Pictou West, as Chairman of the Committee on Private and Local Bills, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 24 - Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company Limited Act.

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

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 21.

Bill No. 21 - Pharmacy Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I so move third reading of Bill No. 21.

[Page 2400]

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to be very long on this. I just wanted to rise at this point in time to say that we have had an opportunity to review this bill, to look at its provisions, and we agree and intend to support the bill that puts forward some necessary changes. So we will be supporting it. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to say a few words on Bill No. 21. One thing, I was not clear of some changes of the amendment striking out the province and substituting Canada. I think the honourable minister said something about just conforming, as to the way it was at this juncture and to allow refills, but I was not clear and maybe he could clarify that at the end of his comments if that is what that does. If not, I had really voiced concerns about the changing from the province and having it open to change from the province to Canada.

The other amendments were amendments that our government had planned to implement. I really would compliment the minister for bringing those forward. The amendment that authorizes some optometrists to prescribe drugs for anterior segment disease of the eye was legislation we were planning to table prior to the change of the government. There is no problem with this amendment in our opinion.

The authorization of nurse practitioners who are playing a role in the primary care pilot project is also an amendment we were planning to bring in. This is an extremely important area, and one that until we deal with it across this country - and I am dealing with the issues facing primary care, that is the team approach to primary care in communities - then I don't believe we will ever solve our waiting times and all other access into the health care system that we hear so much about.

It is an administrative issue. It needs to have legislation like this brought forward, because the people are there, the nurses are there, the training is there, they are capable of doing these types of initiatives. We shouldn't let the lack of legislation stand in the way of a nurse being able to do what he or she may be able to do.

The nurse practitioner is another example of the good news that we want to take a little credit for, it was initiated by our government. I really want to compliment the minister for bringing this forward. I know sometimes there is some opposition from certain sectors, particularly the medical profession, particularly anything to do with the fee structure within the fee for service issue, but it is an area that will go forward regardless of opposition. I think it is one whose time has come, and access into the health care system has to have some variables. It must be less rigid than what it is now, so this is a way to open up the system, and I want to say that as a positive initiative.

[Page 2401]

It is very important that this nurse practitioner pilot project be allowed to develop to its full potential. The ability to write prescriptions will enable the pilot project to be carried out on some of that potential. The other areas, of course, are ones that I have mentioned: that the fee structure is in place that recognizes the abilities of those health providers on the team, and also that we have accountability built into that system. I am concerned. I don't think the sites have been chosen yet, or at least I haven't heard that they were, and I would just caution the minister to keep an eye on that in his role, that we don't buy into some system of evaluating the pilot projects, then the systems aren't good.

I think there needs to be accountability, and I think the salaried positions that are there have to be monitored and accountable. The people who come for those services, whether a private clinic or more of a government-funded clinic, it is important that they have not only quality of care, but they have value for the health dollar that is spent on that particular service.

It is important that those four projects be allowed to develop to their full potential and that people are getting into this, skating with their head up as they say in the National Hockey League, but that we don't buy into a model that is not going to be the best for Nova Scotians for quality of care.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member allow time for an introduction?

DR. SMITH: I certainly would.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Tourism.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise and to welcome a person in the gallery, John Abbass. John is from the Sydney area, and he is a past president of our Party. I would ask him to rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I was so pleased to give up the floor. I, too, was very anxious to get a look at Mr. John Abbass who writes these fine letters. (Laughter) If there was any doubt in my mind that he was a strong Tory, as I have heard the rumour, when I see that group over there across the way leap to their feet in admiration for the fine letter-writing style of this gentleman, then that was the spell. Welcome, Mr. Abbass, as well, from this side of the House. (Interruptions) Our group may have been a little slower getting to their feet but, nevertheless, we showed our enthusiasm and warm welcome.

Mr. Speaker, the amendment that does strike, ". . . out 'the province' in the second line of clause (k) and substituting 'Canada';", at least for me at this juncture, is more problematic. There is a question that I ask, and I probably should have been more persistent, but I did miss the bill in second reading and I guess maybe I deserve not to have my questions answered, but I believe the amendment is to deal with individuals in the northern region, particularly,

[Page 2402]

who are unable to get their prescriptions refilled if doctors from New Brunswick write out that prescription. That is my understanding. However, there are some holes there, perhaps, in that legislation. If I am a senior on Seniors' Pharmacare and I have a prescription written by a New Brunswick doctor, I am assuming that there will be provisions made in the regulations that would enable the New Brunswick doctors to get a copy of the Nova Scotia formulary. I expect that is really done at this junction; I hope it is.

If the exchange of these formularies does not happen, what will happen if a senior is prescribed a drug that may not be covered under Seniors' Pharmacare? That does happen now in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, where a physician will write a prescription for a senior, as the minister knows, because he often gets requests to okay them, or at least his staff does, but this could be more of a problem unless there is a good relationship between our formulary here and the knowledge that the New Brunswick or the out-of-province physicians have. Of course, we know that the seniors have to pay for those prescriptions if they are not on the Seniors' Pharmacare formulary. An exchange of the Nova Scotia formulary is necessary to facilitate a smooth transaction and to realize the benefits of this legislation.

There is also difficulty in that the physicians who will be writing these prescriptions are registered and qualified to practise medicine in Nova Scotia. That is what concerned me, Mr. Speaker, with the legislation on that particular initiative of expanding it to Canada, because the further away you get - and I know with modern technology and all the other issues, that distances have really shrunk - there is still the issue of quality physicians having input into either pharmacies or the pharmaceuticals or the patient care. So we have expanded from the clause that strikes, ". . . out the 'province' in the second line of clause (k) and substituting 'Canada';".

The exchange of information that would enable doctors in New Brunswick to be registered and qualified to practise in Nova Scotia is mandatory. In other words, those persons writing prescriptions that are filled or refilled in Nova Scotia, should have the same qualifications and demands of quality patient care placed on them as anyone who needs to meet those qualifications to practise in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Pharmacists must have the peace of mind in knowing that a prescription written by another doctor in another jurisdiction is written by a doctor who is qualified to practise medicine in his or her province and, indeed, in Nova Scotia. I must say that this seems to have been complicated somewhat by inserting "Canada" in there as opposed to "province". My understanding - and I think the minister had spoken briefly on that - is that I thought this was an area of change within the legislation to accommodate the residents of Nova Scotia who were in the Amherst area and the northern region and they were seeing physicians in the Moncton area. The reason that this has been expanded to take in all Canada, I am not quite sure.

[Page 2403]

As I say, Mr. Speaker, I would have brought this up earlier but I, for some reason, missed second reading and I just wanted to bring my concerns to the House today. It could be that at 9:55 p.m. some evening, someone comes in with a prescription written by a doctor in B.C.; how will the pharmacist know? Are those safeguards in place now? I am not sure that they are. How will the pharmacist know that it was written by someone in practice without the proper exchange of information? That could be a refill on a prescription, it could be someone travelling from B.C. What is the guarantee there? I know that books are available to the pharmacists with the signatures. I know practising as a physician, I have had some people come who were pretty expert at getting narcotics, particularly.

There was one on a busy Saturday afternoon that I will always remember. Actually, the group had paid a gentleman from Ontario who had cancer, and they were taking him in a van around this province to different physicians, hitting them during a busy time. They hit me on a Saturday afternoon and I was on call for about 20 physicians and they had this poor old gentleman with an out-cell carcinoma of his lung, and they tried to get a prescription filled.

[2:00 p.m.]

It was for a narcotic and I was suspicious, although they had the discharge summary from the hospital with them, and it looked to me like a legitimate Ontario hospital discharge summary. When I hesitated to get it filled, then they wanted to give me money. That really alerted me, when they were going to give me extra money and they said forget about Medicare or MSI or whatever, and this gentleman might have qualified - no he would have been on the Ontario plan - anyway, to make a long story short, I refused them and I reported them.

I remember being interviewed and perhaps being chastised by the RCMP, which I could never figure out because I had helped them solve a problem that they have been chasing but hadn't quite caught up with yet. So there are some really innovative scams when it comes to narcotics, because this was very important to this group. Later I was informed that they had successfully done this in various parts of the province.

So the pharmacist has to have a degree of comfort that even though they get the books out and they see that Dr. Campbell in Campbell River, B.C., has a certain type of signature, I think if we were expanding this to include a large number of physicians right across this country that we have to have some safeguards. Perhaps there are and perhaps the minister is aware of them, but I am not quite aware.

So the issue of narcotics and the scams that go on, that was just one story and I don't want to take the time of the House today, Mr. Speaker, of course, but I was quite taken by that. I will remember that, on a busy Saturday afternoon and I cracked the case for the RCMP, and then I got heck from the RCMP and I thought I had done a great job. Anyway, that's another time.

[Page 2404]

Generally, my relationship with the RCMP has been very, very positive and I have great affection, and as the Minister of Justice they were particularly kind to me, but that is one thing that I could not understand. That goes to show that the pharmacists have to make those kind of decisions and they can be heart-rending when they wheel somebody in with a wheelchair, with a diagnosis from a hospital and yet it is a scam.

So what do we tend to with these situations, Mr. Speaker? What safeguards will you put in place to ensure that the health and well-being of Nova Scotians is being protected? How will you ensure the pharmacists in Nova Scotia the peace of mind that they so well deserve? The peace of mind that comes when you know that a doctor who is prescribing is in fact qualified to do so and, in fact, you are dealing with legitimate prescriptions.

The portion of the bill, while addressing difficulties in a particular region, is not without its problems. We as a caucus would very much like to learn how you plan to deal with those issues of jurisdiction and how you will ensure that all Nova Scotians will be protected by amending this clause.

I found the whole bill to be quite intriguing. I thought that the purpose of striking out the word "province" and inserting the word "Canada" was to ensure that those individuals in the northern region who, through no fault of their own, are accessing physicians in New Brunswick - I know perhaps they have been referred there, particularly for a specialist's care, however you did not indicate that this is the purpose of the bill and there was nothing in there to indicate that. I am confident that that is what it was initially because I believe I heard you say that.

I do wonder as to what possible reason why this government would not see that the ability of those in the northern region to have prescriptions filled in Nova Scotia that are written by New Brunswick doctors not be a benefit to the introduction of this bill. Could it be that the issue here is not that of the individual filling the prescription in Nova Scotia but perhaps it may be that drugstores in Amherst don't lose out on business. I am just wondering if there had been representations more from the pharmacists than the other way around; after all, most doctor's offices in any jurisdiction are within a stone's throw of a drugstore.

I think the minister did address some of this and mentioned that it was mainly on the refill issue, when the people have returned home to Springhill or Amherst or wherever. If I was issued a prescription in New Brunswick and there was a drugstore next door, I would be more inclined to get my prescription filled there so I wouldn't have to make an extra stop across the border in Nova Scotia. We know the close relationships between pharmacists and physicians' offices these days and it is more likely to be there. I accept that this is really to accommodate the refills particularly, and I think that is a positive step but I do still question the issue of province changed to Canada.

[Page 2405]

I wonder, given that this government has not included any safeguards that would protect the public from getting a prescription from a doctor who may not be qualified to practice, whether this is the real reason. Given that our caucus is dedicated to ensuring that every piece of legislation that is tabled protects the public and represents the balanced wishes of all people, I would just thank the House for the opportunity to bring my thoughts forward.

I will say it probably would have been better at an earlier time, but there are regulations that will be following. I hope I have given some food for thought to the minister and that he will share that if they too are a concern to him or perhaps he can allay any concerns that I might have on those particular issues, in particular why the change of definition of the province to all of Canada. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak on third reading of Bill No. 21, An Act to Amend Chapter 343 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Pharmacy Act. The amendments that we proposed will address some of the outstanding limitations to the Pharmacy Act, and I will deal with a couple of the comments from the member for Dartmouth East in a short period.

These changes could result in more timely treatment for patients and will help to ensure that legislation around the Pharmacy Act is more responsive to our complex and ever-changing health care system. The amendments will allow us to expand the scope of health professionals who can prescribe drugs in Nova Scotia to include optometrists and nurse practitioners, at least in the pilot primary care projects which will soon be ongoing in this province.

Nova Scotians with specific eye diseases would be able to receive prompt treatment from their optometrist upon diagnosis, rather than being referred to opthalmologists, general practitioners or emergency rooms for prescriptions. Nurse practitioners who will help this government evaluate alternative methods of delivering, funding and managing primary health care services would also have limited prescribing powers such as birth control pills.

Finally, the pharmacists would be able to refill prescriptions written by physicians licensed outside the province, alleviating problems like those experienced by Cumberland County residents who see physicians in New Brunswick. The member for Dartmouth East has raised some questions about this in the Pharmacy Act. These are really, in some ways, although they are major and good amendments, minor amendments. The actual due diligence required by pharmacists in filling any prescription remain in place. For example, if they are not familiar with the doctor or a prescription comes from out of province or from a doctor out

[Page 2406]

of province, it is an obligation of the pharmacist to determine that if it is a legally licensed practitioner in another province who has written the prescription.

That is the responsibility of the pharmacist now and that doesn't change. The major thing that this does is the pharmacists could fill the first prescription but the pharmacist in Nova Scotia could not refill that prescription if it was written by a doctor outside the province. That is really what this change does. It simply enables the pharmacist to do more than fill the prescription once.

It would seem to me that perhaps the second thing that this bill would allow for, like everything else pharmacies are gathering themselves into change, not to get involved in specifying the names of particular companies, but there may be a pharmacy in New Brunswick that the person from Cumberland County would come out of the office, see the doctor in New Brunswick, go to the pharmacy next door in New Brunswick and then travel on back to Cumberland County. Well, there may be a sister branch of that pharmacy in Cumberland County, and with the electronic messaging that goes back and forth, basically in some ways any drugstore is your drugstore, like any bank is your bank.

I think the way the legislation is written now, Mr. Speaker, that the drugstore in Cumberland County would not be able to refill that prescription instead of going back up in New Brunswick and getting it done there. This legislation would allow for that. I think in this electronic age that is a very positive thing because we do know that drugstore chains are drugstore chains and they do ship things back and forth. For example, I guess in my home constituency a rather well-known family owns about eight or nine pharmacies around the province. Technically, that would be an example. Just move one of those into the village of Sackville and you can understand what I am talking about.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to offer those comments. We believe it is good legislation. I am delighted and I would like to thank the members on the opposite side of the House for their support. I hope the few comments that I have made have perhaps clarified this Act to the Liberal caucus. Thank you. I move third reading of Bill No. 21.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 21. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 22.

[Page 2407]

Bill No. 22 - Chiropractic Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and move third reading of Bill No. 22, the Chiropractic Act.

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, again, as with the Pharmacy Act, I will be quite brief. The members of our caucus have had an opportunity to review this piece of legislation. We are pleased to see it come forward. Certainly it recognizes chiropractors as a bona fide part of the health care delivery system in the province. It is something that they have been asking for for a considerable period of time. There are important provisions to the profession. So with those few comments, I can indicate that our caucus will be supporting the bill. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: You know, Mr. Speaker, it is Friday afternoon and people have to go out and check their rabbit snares down in the Musquodoboit Valley, but maybe they will have to do it with a flashlight.

I do have some comments and I just want to, as I rise and speak in support of Bill No. 22, compliment the minister again, on bringing this forward. There have been several bills come forward in the last year or so, the social workers Act, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and other amendments to dental and medical community Acts that have supported the profession and recognize the team approach to health care. So this is legislation that has been before a couple of governments. It is good to see it moving through and I just want to offer a few words in support.

The Chiropractic Association has been working on this legislation for over six years, I understand, and they have been pleased with the support and the guidance that they have received from the Department of Health and are appreciative of that relationship and I am sure it will continue. We did have some concerns from them and I voiced these concerns earlier on the issue that the changes that were made, what they perceived were last minute changes, that the chiropractic group had not expected and that they had not approved of. So to the credit of the organization, they were willing to negotiate and they did compromise to see this legislation go forward, so another day I am sure they will be back for amendments.

It is important that we all allow this bill to proceed. I just want to add a few comments in third reading. Unlike other bills that the government has introduced this session, this bill is the result of much thought and consultation. It truly has been consultative. We have seen

[Page 2408]

some other legislation come here - we will be discussing the Adoption Act and others - and it really demonstrates what the lack of consultation will do when legislation hits the floor of the House of Assembly and also in the Law Amendments Committee.

[2:15 p.m.]

When it comes to a profession like that of chiropractic, it is very important that they have specific legislation that spells out their professional responsibility and spells out their rights. I think this bill does this. It is quite extensive. It is a large piece of legislation, and, as well, even though the numbers throughout this province, while growing, are still modest, but daily we see ads in the paper advertising someone opening a practice in chiropractic. I think that shows a healthy statement. Not only that these people are choosing Nova Scotia to come and set up a practice, because we know they are largely relying on private insurance firms to fund them or the cash money on the barrelhead, as we say, the way that health care was funded back prior to the 1960's, 30 years ago.

The bill does address the trends that we have seen across this province and across Canada with regard to the issues of regulation of the health professions. It is very important that we don't deal with broad general bills, but we have each profession addressed with a certain specific bill such as this Bill No. 22. Last year we brought in legislation to address the issues of occupational therapists and physiotherapists and for some time now, we have had legislation specifically governing discipline committees, complaint committees, relative to the dental profession and to the medical profession. The separation of responsibilities within a medical profession or a health care profession is important. That is the issue that was of some concern to me personally and also to the chiropractic group, the organization themselves.

It is important to have these separate parts of the governing, the regulatory body and the group supporting the professional development of the profession. It is very important that these differences are enshrined in legislation and is spelled out clearly what the roles and responsibilities of each of those groups are. It is important for public confidence in the health professions, but more importantly, for the protection of people who are availing themselves in accessing that particular group, whether it is physicians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers, nurses or whatever with part of that team.

Under Bill No. 22, we have here in third reading today, the chiropractors have a professional association and they also have a regulatory body. I would like to mention that a few nights ago, the Nova Scotia Chiropractic Association said it was pleased with this bill, however, some feel it could have gone a bit further. It is not unusual for any association that brings legislation of this nature certainly on the first flush through the legislative process that they have some concerns. I think generally the bill reflects good legislation and it is one that will be well received.

[Page 2409]

I think some of their concerns, though, may well be realistic. Particularly, Mr. Speaker, the concerns about the clear separation of the regulatory body from the professional association and the ability of each to charge membership fees. It is important that these two areas of responsibility are maintained as separate entities. You may say it is a small point whether either can charge fees or not, but you will tend to have activities that will centre around a particular group that is better funded. If we have one group that is better funded, it may really take over some of the roles and responsibilities of the other group. I have seen this before.

I think of the LPN association; for years that was the difficulty they had, separating these two groups. I think this is important. I think the minister should give some thought to this. I don't know exactly why each group - the regulatory and the professional - is not allowed to charge fees separately like occupational therapists and the medical community, where you have the Medical Society charging bills to a practising physician, the membership dues, and also you have the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which is a regulatory body for physicians able to charge fees as well.

The regulatory body in this case, in Bill No. 22, would be the Nova Scotia College of Chiropractors. They are responsible for making sure that practising chiropractors are trained in appropriate standards and operate according to the regulations. This is really the nuts and bolts of the organization that protects the people of Nova Scotia. The regulatory body, in effect, works in the interest of the public. While it spells out the rights and the responsibilities of the membership or the association or the chiropractic practitioners, it is really working in the interest of the public, and that is of the utmost importance.

That has to be the ultimate goal, we are talking about quality care and we are talking about the interest and safety of the public. That will only come about by having an informed board of highly-qualified professional people and laypeople who have expressed interest in being on the board and are there for the right reasons. We touched on the laypeople and I have voiced my concerns, and I am sure the minister is well aware of them, that I thought that two people going on the board for a two year period should not both end at that time. I think there should be an overlap, particularly with the laypeople who maybe have to be educated in some of the ways of chiropractory. I haven't seen that that has been addressed. I leave that as a concern.

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to, again, get into all the concerns of appointments of those laypeople. We talked about the poll captains, the Tory poll captains being eligible and all of that. I hope they are not excluded, because a lot of them are very good people, they do good work and I am sure they have done good work for all members on that side of the House. I just wanted that process of appointing laypeople, not to go back to the way it was in the old government when some of the members who are sitting over there were involved, we had people inside of departments of government whose main job, almost total job, was to make sure Tories got placed on agencies, boards and commissions. I hope we have gone

[Page 2410]

from there. I know Dr. Savage has paid his political price for changing some of those things, and I hope we don't slip back.

I would really say to the minister, it is important that the laypeople who come on those boards really do have an interest. That they are not on there because they think they are getting some high-profile political appointment. I know the minister is probably concerned that I am saying something that is unparliamentary, but I certainly wouldn't infer that. (Interruptions)

We were getting so many complaints, particularly in the earlier days, in 1993, after 1993 we were getting so many complaints that the Liberals felt that if they identified, they were hiding their Liberal card because they wouldn't get through the Human Resources Committee to serve on a committee. (Interruptions) I think if you work at something long enough and hard enough that you can succeed. I know to be looking for the rabbit snares, it would be late tonight, but I am not going to follow the rabbit tracks.

Anyway, certainly we have to make sure, and the onus is on ourselves, and I know the minister will do his best to make sure that laypeople are not on the board just to pad their résumé or that there is a so-called political appointment. The best way to weed some of them out is to not give them too many per diems, and I think that is an area that we will be watching, and not return to those good old days when we found some people, when we took over government, were getting as high as $75,000 a year out of being on a couple of boards and commissions and that sort of thing. We really don't want to return to those days.

During the time of the minority government, we ran into a lot of problems with appointing agencies, boards and commissions. Because of stalling from the Opposition, many of the ABCs were crippled because new appointments could not be made in time. I see that this Act, Bill No. 22, does accommodate that in that if the new appointments don't arrive in time, the old ones will continue until such time as they are replaced. I think that overlap is good. I think it is important, the transition period, because if the board is not strong, if the people are not informed and committed and they lack interest, the whole profession will suffer because it will be run by executive directors, and we see that happen sometimes, so the laypeople involvement; I want to encourage all Nova Scotians that they make themselves aware of these types of boards because we need them and they have a great deal to contribute. They are the consumers and those are the ones that the bills are brought in for, that we are going through this process of developing legislation that protects the people of Nova Scotia and ensures quality care.

I believe that this bill has provisions that if the appointments are not made, the previous board members can serve, as I mentioned, and that is a positive factor. This is important for the smooth transition. It is a practical matter that is written into legislation and it is vital. The professional body, of course, works to promote the interests of the chiropractors and to

[Page 2411]

promote the chiropractic profession. That involves continuing medical education or the studies and upgrading if the person has not practised within a year.

The Nova Scotia Chiropractic Association believes these two bodies should be kept separate which is addressed in this bill and I think that is important. They also feel that each of these two bodies should have the ability to charge a fee. This is what is done with the Medical Society and the College of Physicians and Surgeons. The Medical Society is the professional body and the College of Physicians and Surgeons is the regulatory body protecting the rights of Nova Scotians.

It seems in the case of chiropractors, that the Department of Health does not feel that it is appropriate to legislate that practitioners must join a professional organization. This is an issue that the chiropractors are willing to compromise on and they have done that through legislation. I want to commend them for that. I think that is important and I am sure one that they will be working on in the times ahead. The chiropractic profession is growing quickly in Nova Scotia and right across this country and perhaps it is time that the health care system better recognizes the growing influence of chiropractors.

Chiropractors have been very diligent in promoting themselves as a professional association and the regulations under which they currently operate outline a mechanism for peer review as well as the disciplinary process - the investigation and the disciplinary process which is so important. That is where the laypeople plug into that board system that is so crucial that they, too, have an inside look at how their best interests and of all Nova Scotians are being protected within that investigative and disciplinary function of the board.

This means that as chiropractors they police themselves and they respond to the complaints in an orderly and thoughtful fashion and a professional manner. They have been doing this all along, I believe. It is good to see that we have legislation brought before us today, that that is enshrined and it will be an integral part of their profession. In fact, the new bill essentially will not necessarily change the way the chiropractors operate in Nova Scotia. They will continue to do what they have been doing and they have been doing that in a responsible manner. It will officially bring them as team members, more effectively, into the health care profession of Nova Scotia.

Perhaps the Minister of Health will be able to better accommodate, as I mentioned before, than within the MSI. We spoke of offshore and all the revenues that will be generated, but also I know that the minister himself has innovative ways for generating revenue. He commonly uses that term, Mr. Speaker, that the health care system will generate revenues and we see that already starting with 911. So he is really bringing forward legislation that we never had the nerve to do; just have to realize what shrinking violets we were because we really did not come forward and just nail the people, those people, when their trembling hand grasps for 911, they will know that they are paying for that service with a special tax.

[Page 2412]

So, Mr. Speaker, I commend the minister to always raise money, but perhaps he could look outside of the health care system and not look at the health care system as a revenue generator. We mentioned that other provinces, such as Ontario - and I am not going to get into how the NDPs almost wrecked that province, or did wreck it really, but it was resilient and it did recover and now it is back in good old Tory hands. Other than knocking the heck out of some welfare moms and testing them for drugs and illegal things like that and some of the education initiatives, they have been very kind to chiropractors. Many plans do cover that and I commend the insurance industry on that. We don't usually give them much credit for their initiatives, but I think the dental plans and the chiropractic plans have really added a lot to health care.

[2:30 p.m.]

MR. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the honourable member would entertain a question?

DR. SMITH: Yes.

MR. MORSE: You mentioned testing for drugs. I presume we are talking about street drugs, so I guess I am going to ask the honourable member whether he is in favour of street drugs?

DR. SMITH: I know the Reform member from that part of the Valley, up where he comes from maybe they see open season on welfare moms as being okay, but seriously I thank the honourable member for his question because I knew it would be a good one.

I didn't want to really take up too much time of the House, because I am on my last page, Mr. Speaker, so I will try to be brief. It brings up another issue, the point being - if I have to explain it no wonder the Reform Party can't get started in Ontario. My goodness, I was just reading in the paper the other day about that very thing. It is funny it should come up this afternoon here in the House, in the eastern part of Canada - welfare mothers, single mothers on social assistance should be treated like everyone else. We have gone a long way in this country to foster independence and not create a dependent society, whether you are on social assistance or not. So we want fair treatment for all. That would be my request and that is why I don't subscribe to Mike Harris' philosophy of victimizing further victims, and that would be my answer to the honourable member. I know he does generally want to learn and I want to thank the honourable member for his enthusiasm to become better informed.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like to remind the honourable member that we are speaking on the Chiropractic Bill. I thought you may have forgotten.

[Page 2413]

DR. SMITH: Prior to the question, I thought I was a bit ontrack because I was trying to follow my notes. Seriously, Mr. Speaker, I am drawing near the end. You will be relieved and other members of the House will, knowing that I am at the end of my comments.

Making sure that chiropractic services are covered properly under MSI would be something we would examine hopefully in the upcoming budget. On the surface it is apparent that the bill will benefit the public and improve public accountability, and for that reason we will be supporting the bill. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say just a few words on the Chiropractic Bill. I would like to thank the members of the Opposition for supporting this bill. We do believe it is good legislation. I think it is interesting because it was truly worked out as a result of consultation with the Nova Scotia Chiropractic Association. The bill really does four things: it defines the scope of the practice; defines the powers of the association; establishes the composition of a regulatory board; and it talks about disciplinary provisions.

The legislation currently in force provides for one organization of chiropractors in Nova Scotia, the Chiropractic Association, and since the officers of the association also comprise the regulatory board there is an inherent conflict of interest and confusion of roles. By establishing a board of the college which is responsible for establishing and enforcing chiropractic standards, and a completely separate council to handle professional concerns this flaw will be eliminated. As with other provisions of the bill, the improvement was the result of collaboration between the chiropractors and my department.

Just in closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that we were very fortunate in this province to have a team of chiropractors who are committed to providing quality care to Nova Scotians and who are working with the Department of Health and other health care providers to improve their service. With that, I am pleased to move third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 22, the Chiropractic Act. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

[Page 2414]

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

The motion is carried.

[2:36 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[4:57 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Kevin Deveaux in the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and begs leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I now move that the House do now rise to meet again on Monday at the hour of 2:00 p.m. We will sit from 2:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. and the order of business will be Committee of the Whole House on Bills, second reading of bills, third reading of bills and the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The House is adjourned until 2:00 p.m. on Monday.

[The House rose at 4:58 p.m.]