Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Mon., Nov. 22, 1999

First Session

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Sandy Cove Lighthouse (Terence Bay):
Right of Way - Develop, Mr. W. Estabrooks 2415
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Shore Friendship Group: Hwy. No. 215
(Hants Co.) - Pave, Hon. R. Russell 2416
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Winter Safety Day: November 22, 1999 -
Proclaim, Hon. G. Balser 2416
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 714, Sports - Football (Vanier Cup): SMU Huskies Finalists -
Support, Hon. J. Purves 2419
Vote - Affirmative 2419
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 715, Fin. - Funding Cuts: Restoration - Lead (Premier),
Mr. D. Downe 2420
Res. 716, Sports - Football (Atlantic Bowl): SMU Huskies -
Winners Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 2420
Vote - Affirmative 2421
Res. 717, Fish. - Bay of Fundy Marine Resource Ctr.: Ocean Mgt. -
Congrats., Hon. G. Balser 2421
Vote - Affirmative 2422
Res. 718, PC Politicians - Observations (Late Prof. Donald Swainson
[Queens Univ.]): True - Still, Mr. R. MacLellan 2422
Res. 719, Exco - Deputy Premier: Non-App't. - Account, Mr. J. Holm 2423
Res. 720, Culture - Photography Awards (Prof. Photo. [Can.]):
Winners (Truro) - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 2423
Vote - Affirmative 2424
Res. 721, Premier - Misunderstood: Messages (PC Caucus) - Mixed,
Dr. J. Smith 2424
Res. 722, Commun. Serv. - Children Disabled: Stance - Reconsider,
Ms. E. O'Connell 2425
Res. 723, Health - Neils Hbr.: Commun. Health Ctr. - Support,
Mr. K. MacAskill 2425
Vote - Affirmative 2426
Res. 724, Econ. Dev. - Bluenose Soaps (Pictou Co. [Yvonne Miske]):
Success - Recognize, Mr. J. DeWolfe 2426
Vote - Affirmative 2427
Res. 725, Premier - Actions (Cuts): Protest - Excessive,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2427
Res. 726, Premier - Actions (Cuts): Uncaring - Recognize,
Mr. M. Samson 2427
Res. 727, John Alex & Tena MacMillan (Mabou): Wedding Anniv.
(Golden) - Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 2428
Vote - Affirmative 2428
Res. 728, Premier - Betrayal (Voters): John Savage (Ex-Premier) -
Remember Soon, Mr. F. Corbett 2429
Res. 729, Lbr. - Fire Prevention Act: Amdts. - Intro., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2429
Res. 730, Cape Breton The Lakes MLA: Bogart Line (No Replay) -
Remember, Mr. D. Dexter 2430
Res. 731, Educ. - Student Loans: Plans - Reveal, Mr. W. Gaudet 2430
Res. 732, Sports - Hockey (Eastern Shore Old-Timers League):
Continuance - Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 2431
Vote - Affirmative 2432
Res. 733, Parade of Lights (Hfx.): Astral Drive ES PTO Float -
Winners Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 2432
Vote - Affirmative 2432
Res. 734, Fin. - Poor Target: Coldness (Premier) - Recognize,
Mr. D. Wilson 2433
Res. 735, Commun. Serv. - St. Margarets Bay Lions: Fund-Raising
Project - Success Wish, Mr. W. Estabrooks 2433
Vote - Affirmative 2434
Res. 736, Housing & Mun. Affs. - CBRM: Bus Serv. (Handi-Trans) -
Continuance Ensure, Mr. B. Boudreau 2434
Vote - Affirmative 2435
Res. 737, Fin. - Cuts: Companies Assist. First - Recognize,
Mr. H. Epstein 2435
Res. 738, Eastern Shore MLA - Illegal Dumping: Comments
(Rural Way) - Apologize, Mr. M. Samson 2435
Res. 739, Premier - Disadvantaged (N.S.): Assist. - Soliloquize,
Mr. John MacDonell 2436
Res. 740, Fish. - Native: Regulations - Dialogue (Gov'ts. [Can.-N.S.]) -
Encourage, Mr. R. MacKinnon 2437
Res. 741, YMCA (Gtr. Hfx.-Dart.) Peace Medal 1999: Raging Grannies -
Congrats., Ms. E. O'Connell 2437
Vote - Affirmative 2438
Res. 742, Educ. - Post-Secondary: Rating (N.S.[3=]:Ont.[10])
Worship (Ont. [Premier]) - Cessation Recommend, Mr. W. Gaudet 2438
Res. 743, Lbr. - Hfx. Herald/Media Guild [Cdn.]: Collective
Agreement - Congrats., Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2439
Vote - Affirmative 2439
Res. 744, CBRM - Cr. Ron Burrows (Glace Bay): Retirement
(Oct. 2000) - Contribution Recognize, Mr. D. Wilson 2439
Vote - Affirmative 2440
Res. 745, Econ. Dev. - Scotiabank: Non-Assist. Claim -
Ponder (Premier), Mr. F. Corbett 2440
Res. 746, Premier & Caucus (PC): Motto - Summation (George
Bernard Shaw) Best, Mr. D. Dexter 2441
Res. 747, Econ. Dev. - Cole Hbr. HS & Auburn Dr. HS: Multiculturalism
(Exchange Students) - Efforts Recognize, Mr. K. Deveaux 2441
Vote - Affirmative 2442
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 20, Emergency "911" Act 2442
Amendment [debate resumed] 2442
Mr. H. Epstein 2442
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2447
Mr. F. Corbett 2461
Mr. D. Downe 2471
Hon. R. Russell 2482
Adjourned debate 2482
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Mr. K. Deveaux 2482
Mr. B. Boudreau 2498
Adjourned debate 2509
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 20, Emergency "911" Act 2510
Amendment [debate resumed] 2510
Hon. J. Muir 2511
Vote - Negative 2511
Main Motion [debate resumed] 2512
Hon. J. Muir 2512
Vote - Affirmative 2512
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Ms. E. O'Connell 2512
Mr. D. Hendsbee 2526
Mr. J. Pye 2544
Adjourned debate 2552
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Baker 2553
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Nov. 23rd at 12:00 p.m. 2553

[Page 2415]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 1999

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 430 residents of the community of Terence Bay and area which states, "We the undersigned are in favor of developing the right of way to the Sandy Cove Lighthouse and Lighthouse Beach for use of the public in Terence Bay.". I have affixed my signature - or I am going to do it now - to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

2415

[Page 2416]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from the Shore Friendship Group of Summerville who pray that, "Highway 215 between Brooklyn and Walton Hants Co., that services the communities of Brooklyn, Upper Burlington, Center Burlington, Lower Burlington Summerville, Kempt, Cheverie, Bramber, Cambridge, Pembroke and Walton deem this highway . . .", be paved in the year 2000 and are asking if that cannot be done it be resurfaced in areas that are falling to pieces.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I rise in this House today to proclaim November 22, 1999 as Winter Safety Day across the Province of Nova Scotia. Winter Safety Day is an initiative of my department that focuses on elementary school children - educating them as to the importance of staying safe all winter.

This week young children from across the province will have the opportunity to examine a 38,000 pound snowplow up close and personal. Mr. Speaker, crews from the Department of Transportation and Public Works will visit over 70 schools across this province to share first-hand their experiences with children about winter storms and to talk about winter safety practices.

Children are wonderfully carefree. When the first snowfall comes, they are out in the yard making snowmen or building a snow fort. Many children are excited to see the plow travelling down their road but with the same carefree quality that can make a child enjoy the winter, they sometimes run out into the road to get the snowplow operator to blow his horn, or they will build a fort on the side of the road in a snowdrift where they can't be seen. This, is extremely dangerous and we have to teach our children about these dangers and that is what Winter Safety Day is all about, ensuring our children are aware of the risks and are not taking those risks.

Mr. Speaker, this morning I had the pleasure of meeting the children and staff at Digby County's Barton Consolidated School. I must admit I learned a couple of safety rules there myself. They were thrilled to see the snowplow up close. I think we all have a better understanding of some of the things that we can do to make winter safer.

[Page 2417]

I would like to personally thank Eugene Silver and Troy Andrews, the snowplow operators who answered the children's questions, as well as the operations supervisor, Dave Comeau, and Mr. Paul Stone, our area manager from Middleton. They were all there to help out with Winter Safety Day at Barton Consolidated.

I would also like to thank all the Department of Transportation and Public Works staff and the employees of the Halifax Regional Municipality, who are bringing Winter Safety Day to the school children in their areas. Children in the early grades of all schools are being visited by Transportation and Public Works and HRM crews are being given winter safety colouring books. Each school will also receive a certificate of participation. Winter Safety Day is one day of the year, but it is something we have to be aware of throughout the winter.

Mr. Speaker, no one has more influence on adults than their children. This week there will be thousands of children taking a winter safety lesson home to their parents as well. We hope the message hits home - drive safe and play safe this winter. Keep a safe distance from snowplows. Don't pass a plow when it is working. Use caution on the roads this winter to make the season as safe as possible.

Mr. Speaker, despite today's unseasonably mild temperatures, I can assure you that winter is coming and I ask you to support Winter Safety Day in Nova Scotia. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable minister for providing, in advance, a copy of his statement. I would like to congratulate the minister on the promotion of highway safety, particularly when it comes to heavy equipment such as snowplows, for the children across this province because all too well many find out, sometimes the wrong way, when they become involved in accidents.

I think it is rather ironic, Mr. Speaker, that this minister will stand and talk about safety at the same time when he is cutting back on the services of our seasonal employees, the snowplow operators, this winter. Generally speaking, they are called back to duty on the first Sunday of December every year, but this year this minister has decided to roll that back another week to try and save a few dollars. So, on one hand he is talking about safety for children and all of the people of Nova Scotia and on the other hand, when it comes to putting the dollars on the table to actually provide that safety to the people of Nova Scotia so they can drive on the road safely, he is actually, in effect, calling the workers off the roads to provide that service for the people of Nova Scotia; thereby leaving the roads in a very unsafe and sometimes deplorable condition. At the same time the minister, himself, took no time in commissioning a study to extend and expand the condition of the road between Weymouth and Digby in his own riding, despite some of the other priorities that were highlighted by the expertise in his own department.

[Page 2418]

The minister has made politics a priority over safety in this province. He has cut back on the services of our winter crews in this province. When he was in Opposition the honourable minister demanded day in and day out that the people of Nova Scotia be afforded this protection. Yet when he becomes minister he cuts back on that service and at the same time is placing a political priority over some of the prioritized needs that have been identified by the expertise within his department.

While I congratulate the promotional tour of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, and it does create an awareness for the children of Nova Scotia, I cannot support him on some of his rather ill-conceived, politically-motivated activities. (Applause)

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the Minister of Transportation and Public Works for finally having something to say for that department in this House. Because of the full plate that he has and the attention he has been giving to the Department of Economic Development and the Petroleum Directorate, Sysco and business development, I congratulate him in finally making an announcement with regard to this particular department, a department, unfortunately, that suffered again through some major cuts.

I do know the influence on school children when it comes to those big feather dusters, as it says in that great advertisement on television. I hope that we don't count upon our children to pass that drive safely message on to their parents and adults, that we continue with that very proactive advertisement that we identify with regard to feather dusters.

To Eugene Silver and Troy Andrews, they are the men and women who operate this equipment that should receive this. It is good to see that they are out talking to children however, it seems a concern to me that in some areas - I know that in my area for example - there are no longer two workers in each plow, there is only one. The wing-man has been eliminated, when in some situations on some roads it is extremely dangerous to have one operator in those so-called feather dusters. Those are the men and women who operate that equipment who need a pat on the back. It is good to see that the school children will realize how important they are.

Also, I hope that the minister continues to turn his attention to such factors as school bus safety and those dangerous crosswalks. Those are the kinds of things that children are going to be asking the Minister of Transportation and Public Works about. It is good to see that the men and women on the ground are finally being given some attention in local schools because they do have that very positive effect on school children.

[Page 2419]

November 22nd of course is remembered for many things and had I had the opportunity on November 22, 1963 to listen and ask questions of a snowplow operator, it would have been something of importance to me on that day. November 22nd is an important day this year for winter safety. I congratulate the minister for this initiative and in particular I congratulate the department for using the workers on the ground who identify with the local school children for being the ambassadors of safety for the long winter ahead. Thank you, Mr. Minister and thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission.

RESOLUTION NO. 714

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

Whereas this past Saturday, Saint Mary's University Huskies and the University of Waterloo Warriors competed in the 1999 Atlantic Bowl CIAU Football game; and

Whereas Saint Mary's University Huskies won with a score of 21 to 14; and

Whereas Saint Mary's University Huskies advance to play in the Vanier Cup at the Skydome, Toronto, Ontario on Saturday, November 27, 1999;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House band together to support Nova Scotia's team, the Saint Mary's Huskies, in the national championship Vanier Cup.

[2:15 p.m.]

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.

[Page 2420]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 715

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

Whereas the Premier feels his actions are being misunderstood by all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas Nova Scotians understand all too clearly that the goal of this government is to punish the poor, the sick, and the disabled, despite their small effect on the overall budget of the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the assault has been driven by the cold calculations of an unfeeling Cabinet led by an uncaring Premier, and not a misunderstood man.

Therefore be it resolved that this House demand that before the Premier feels his is misunderstood, he should first lead by example and restore funding to charities, the disabled and the Winter Works Program.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 716

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

[Page 2421]

Whereas AUAA Football Champions, Saint Mary's Huskies, represented this region in Saturday's Atlantic Bowl; and

Whereas this Saturday the Huskies defeated the Waterloo Warriors in a thrilling 21-14 victory to capture the Atlantic Bowl; and

Whereas the Huskies will now move on to play for the Vanier Cup, emblematic of the national university football championship, against Laval;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Saint Mary's Huskies on their success, with particular best wishes for previous coach Larry Uteck and current Head Coach Blake Nill on their team's accomplishments.

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 Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 717

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

Whereas the Bay of Fundy Marine Resource Centre has been established to support a growing commitment toward the stewardship of our marine environment; and

Whereas Sunday, November 21st, marked the official opening of this innovative, community-based facility; and

Whereas the Bay of Fundy Marine Resource Centre will provide ongoing technical support and guidance to various marine resource-based industries, associations and agencies;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the centre as it encourages sound ecologically-based management of our ocean resources.

[Page 2422]

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 Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 718

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

Whereas the late Donald Swainson was a political writer and lecturer who taught at Queens University in Kingston; and

Whereas Professor Swainson lectured about Canadian political scandal, and often used Progressive Conservative politicians as examples; and

Whereas the late professor said he didn't dislike Tories, "They simply happened to pop up more frequently when politics and graft intersected.";

Therefore be it resolved that the astute observations of the late Donald Swainson continue to be as true today as ever before.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 2423]

RESOLUTION NO. 719

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

Whereas we learned this past week that there is no Deputy Premier; and

Whereas it would seem therefore that the Premier must now always be present for Question Period, because no one within his Cabinet is authorized to speak on his behalf or that of his government; and

Whereas by not having a Deputy Premier, the Premier is himself displaying a lack of confidence in his own Cabinet Ministers;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier account for his lack of confidence in his Cabinet colleagues as demonstrated by his failure to appoint a Deputy Premier.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 720

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

Whereas Johanna Yorke of Carsand Mosher Photographics, Kirk Saint of Unique Images Photography and Bruce Berry of Berryhill Photography were winners of national awards given by the Professional Photographers of Canada; and

Whereas Johanna Yorke was one of the four finalists for the 1999 Canadian Specialist of the Year; Kirk Saint earned a Craftsman of Photographic Arts Award; and Bruce Berry was awarded a coveted Master's Bar; and

[Page 2424]

Whereas the success of these artists continues to keep the Truro area on the map as a home to a high calibre of artistic talent;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Johanna Yorke, Kirk Saint and Bruce Berry on their outstanding photographic achievements and wish them continued success in the practice of their craft.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 721

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

Whereas according to the Minister of Health, one solution to control costs in the Department of Health is to increase its revenue-generating capabilities; and

Whereas the minister, despite his denial that he is doing so, has started the process of implementing a tax on the 911 system; and

Whereas the member for Yarmouth on a talk show this weekend indicated that he received assurances from the Minister of Education that there would not be a tax on the 911 system, but not from the Minister of Health;

Therefore be it resolved that it should be clear to the Premier that one of the reasons Nova Scotians don't understand him is because of the mixed messages from his caucus members and that of his government, the message of increased taxes and user fees.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2425]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 722

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

Whereas the Premier is feeling maligned and misunderstood according to a local paper today; and

Whereas a children's advocate indicated that the Premier's words to a business crowd have sent a chill through the province's social-activist community; and

Whereas this very House on Friday denied a resolution asking it to support a call by the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children for disabled children to participate fully in Canadian society and was roundly nayed by the government members;

Therefore be it resolved that if this Premier is really serious about public perception, he will reconsider his Party's stance on advocating for disabled children.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 723

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 new Buchanan Memorial Community Health Centre in Neil's Harbour was officially opened this weekend by the Minister of Health; and

Whereas this long-awaited event was achieved through a tremendous outpouring of community support; and

[Page 2426]

Whereas the work of many generous volunteers was supported by a commitment of funding from the provincial government;

Therefore be it resolved that the current government continue to support the community of Neil's Harbour and the surrounding areas as they work to maintain their new community health centre.

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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 724

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

Whereas a Westville entrepreneur, Yvonne Miske is in her second year of business producing soaps for sensitive skin; and

Whereas Ms. Miske developed her product in an effort to help her son who has sensitive skin; and

Whereas her company, Bluenose Soaps, now have a wide selection of skin care products;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the efforts of Yvonne Miske and wish her great success and growth of her Pictou County company.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2427]

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 Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 725

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

Whereas the Premier is upset that the old adage of monkey see, monkey do is now being applied to his government; and

Whereas just like Mike Harris, the Premier's idol, the first victims of Tory cost cutting were those who can least afford it; and

Whereas just like Mike Harris' Government where big business is the real winner, while the disabled and disadvantaged are heartlessly pushed aside;

Therefore be it resolved that in the words of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, "methinks thou doth protest too much".

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 726

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

Whereas after 99 days, our Premier has stated that he feels misunderstood and that if only Nova Scotians understood his message they would find out what kind of great guy he is; and

Whereas the Premier became visibly upset when compared to Iron Mike Harris of Ontario, saying that made-in-Ontario solutions will not work for Nova Scotians; and

[Page 2428]

Whereas the difference between Mike Harris and Premier Hamm is not in the substance, but in that Mike Harris has done what he had promised to do, while the Premier here in Nova Scotia is implementing an agenda completely different from what he had promised during the campaign;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that the Premier is not misunderstood, but that his actions clearly demonstrate that he is uncaring and without remorse for the cruel decisions inflicted and about to be inflicted on Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Tourism.

RESOLUTION NO. 727

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

Whereas John Alex and Tena MacMillan of Mabou are celebrating 50 years of marriage on November 22nd; and

Whereas John Alex, a veteran of World War II, and Tena have helped make a difference, not only for their country but also for the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas John Alex and Tena's sons and daughters, like their parents, have made a difference in each of their respective communities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate John Alex and Tena MacMillan for 50 years of marriage and wish them all the best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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.

[Page 2429]

RESOLUTION NO. 728

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

Whereas in the great Shakespearean play, Julius Caesar, the leader faced rebellion from within his own ranks; and

Whereas he was also stabbed in the back by his closest ally, Brutus, who was called an honourable man for his acts; and

Whereas Tory backbenchers and Cabinet Ministers alike are stepping on themselves in the rush to be the Tories' Brutus and to be an honourable man;

Therefore be it resolved that the voters of Nova Scotia could soon be reminded of another Premier who betrayed them, Premier John Savage and ask, et tu, Hamm?

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 729

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

Whereas three years ago, the province's Fire Prevention Advisory Council held province-wide consultations on fire safety; and

Whereas those consultations resulted in many recommendations being made concerning fire safety; and

Whereas to date, there has not been any legislation introduced by this government to update the Fire Prevention Act;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the Minister of Labour to immediately act on the concerns of those who made submissions to the Fire Prevention Advisory Council by introducing amendments to the Fire Prevention Act.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 2430]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 730

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

Whereas the member for Cape Breton The Lakes fancies himself as Humphrey Bogart saying, "You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss"; and

Whereas all the staff of this House deserve the respect of the members of the Legislature; and

Whereas such unseemly conduct as that of the member, whether in jest or otherwise is wrong;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Cape Breton The Lakes remember another Bogart line, don't play it again, Crusher.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 731

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

Whereas more than seven months ago, Department of Education officials held a series of meetings across the province on proposed student loan reforms; and

Whereas participants in those meetings have not, as yet, heard a word from the department-proposed student loan reforms; and

[Page 2431]

Whereas students, along with university officials, are anxious to find out what the government has in mind with respect to student loans;

Therefore be it resolved that this House request the Minister of Education to immediately inform Nova Scotians of her government's plans for student loans so that these issues can be publicly debated before any decisions are made.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 732

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

Whereas the Eastern Shore Old-Timers' Hockey League is one of the longest running, old-timer leagues in all of Nova Scotia; and

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas on Friday evening the Musquodoboit Valley Flyers and the Jupiter Foundation battled to a rare nothing to nothing tie; and

Whereas Ship Harbour, Ecum Secum, Jeddore, Jupiter, Chezzetcook, Porters Lake, Musquodoboit Harbour and the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley make up the teams in this league;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Eastern Shore Old-Timers Hockey League as they skate into the next millennium.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 2432]

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 733

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

Whereas the Parade of Lights is an annual Christmas parade held in downtown Halifax to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season; and

Whereas this year the parade was held on November 20th and included many excellent floats; and

Whereas the Astral Drive Elementary School PTO entered a float in the Parade of Lights for the first time and ended up winning the 1999 best non-commercial float prize from the organizers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Marion Beers, David Beers and the other members of the Astral Drive Elementary School PTO who helped to organize the award-winning float at this year's Parade of Lights.

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.

[Page 2433]

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 734

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

Whereas the Premier stated that it would be silly to implement new programs in times of restraint; and

Whereas revenue made from the Sydney Casino specifically earmarked for charities was cost neutral and would not have negatively impacted on the province's bottom line;

Whereas taking this money and putting it to general revenues represents an unprovoked attack on the poor in order to satisfy a twisted Progressive Conservative view that the poor and underprivileged are a drain on the system;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that the Premier has coldly and precisely targeted the poor and underprivileged for heartless reasons and not because it will balance the province's books.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 735

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

Whereas service clubs throughout our province are busy making financial plans to assist those less fortunate in the Christmas season fast approaching; and

Whereas each year the St. Margarets Bay Lions sell Christmas trees with all monies raised going to families in the area; and

[Page 2434]

Whereas Christmas tree chairman, Jim Swim, has finalized the setup for this year's Lions' tree lot at the Hubley Center in Tantallon;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its thanks to Lion Jim Swim and the members of the St. Margarets Bay Lions with best wishes for a successful fund-raising project.

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 Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 736

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

Whereas many seniors and people with disabilities living in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality depend on the Handi-Trans bus service; and

Whereas this important service has been suspended since the start of the strike of the CBRM outside workers; and

Whereas there is a fear that this service will be permanently stopped after the strike because of a review of the transit services in CBRM;

Therefore be it resolved that this government work with the CBRM to make sure this important service is continued.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2435]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 737

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 feels that he and his government have been misunderstood; and

Whereas the Premier states, "We have to be clearer in terms of telling Nova Scotians what we are doing and why we are doing it."; and

Whereas it is very clear to Nova Scotians that withholding funds from charities, scrapping a plan to improve accessibility to public buildings for the disabled, outlawing a paramedics strike and cancelling a nursing home licence for the Sisters of Charity are not the things this Tory Government promised to the electorate during the summer election campaign;

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians do recognize this Tory Government for what it is, a government that is blinded by its simple-solution dedication to cuts, and that puts big business ahead of the neediest in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 738

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

Whereas the member for Eastern Shore has recently justified the keeping of an illegal dump on his property by saying, "that's the way things are done in rural Nova Scotia'; and

Whereas most rural Nova Scotians would be surprised to learn that the practice of rural Nova Scotians is to pile garbage on their property in contravention of the Environment Act; and

[Page 2436]

Whereas most people in rural Nova Scotia take pride in their properties and keep their properties at a high level of cleanliness;

Therefore be it resolved that this House demand that the member for Eastern Shore apologize to rural Nova Scotians for his insult and urge that member to take responsibility for his actions instead of blaming the system.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 739

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

Whereas the Premier is starring in his own remake of the tragedy Hamlet; and

Whereas in this drama he plays the much maligned and misunderstood leader of a government who takes from the poor to give to the rich; and

Whereas in this Hamlet the Premier's best line is, "I am concerned . . . that the majority of Nova Scotians seem to continue to think that we have written a cheque to the Bank of Nova Scotia . . .";

Therefore be it resolved that the next soliloquy the Premier speaks will not be so concerned about how misunderstood he is but about what he will do for the most disadvantaged Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 2437]

RESOLUTION NO. 740

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

Whereas the Supreme Court of Canada refused to revisit the Marshall trial on native fishing rights; and

Whereas the Supreme Court of Canada elaborated on its original decision by stating that the native fishery should be regulated; and

Whereas the federal government is entrusted with the responsibility of regulating the fishery;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the Minister of Fisheries to enter into immediate dialogue with his federal counterpart to have these regulations drafted and approved forthwith.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 741

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

Whereas the Raging Grannies have been donning their shawls and bonnets and singing out on social justice issues for years and years; and

Whereas on Friday, November 19th, the YMCA of Greater Halifax-Dartmouth awarded its 1999 Peace Medal to the Raging Grannies; and

Whereas this award was given to honour their pledge to social justice and commitment to preserving alliances with marginalized people;

[Page 2438]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Raging Grannies on receiving the 1999 YMCA Peace Medal.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 742

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

Whereas the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives recently issued a report on Canadian provinces' commitment to post-secondary education; and

Whereas Nova Scotia was tied with New Brunswick for third place; and

Whereas Ontario, which is governed by our Premier's great role model, Mike Harris, is ranked last among all provinces;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recommend to the Premier that he cease his worship of his Ontario colleague since that will only lead to Nova Scotia replacing Ontario in last place.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 2439]

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 743

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

Whereas the Halifax Chronicle-Herald employees who are represented by the Canadian Media Guild have approved their first collective agreement; and

Whereas the conclusion of the first agreement is always difficult and requires goodwill from both parties who are forging a new relationship; and

Whereas the Chronicle-Herald is the single largest news outlet in Atlantic Canada and the most significant, independent newspaper in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Halifax Chronicle-Herald and the Canadian Media Guild for successfully concluding a first collective agreement without a management-labour dispute.

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 East.

RESOLUTION NO. 744

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

Whereas Councillor Ron Burrows has served the people of Glace Bay since his election to town council in 1976, and later with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality; and

[Page 2440]

Whereas Councillor Burrows believes that the most important part of being a councillor is responding to a steady stream of phone calls for help from constituents; and

Whereas Councillor Burrows, who represents District 4, which includes Table Head, New Aberdeen, The Hub, Sterling and Reserve Street area, has announced his retirement from municipal politics and will not re-offer in the October 2000 election;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the important contribution of Councillor Ron Burrows of Glace Bay to the public life of the province and wish him all the best on his retirement from municipal politics.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 745

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

Whereas a former Soviet Premier pounded his desk to emphasize his infamous claim of "we will bury you"; and

Whereas the current Nova Scotia Premier pounded his desk to emphasize his infamous claim that we did not help Scotiabank; and

Whereas Nikita Khrushchev's days in office were numbered when he began pounding his desk;

Therefore be it resolved that instead of pounding, the Premier should ponder and pull together the pragmatic, compassionate government he promised Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

[Page 2441]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 746

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

Whereas in the Saturday Daily News, a former Progressive Conservative candidate wrote in to praise Premier John Hamm and his caucus for boldly pledging to stop listening to special interest groups; and

Whereas among the notable accomplishment of this government is cancelling assistance to the disabled and taking money from charities to give it to big banks; and

Whereas the Premier and his caucus know exactly what they are doing;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge that the motto of the Premier and his caucus was best summed up by George Bernard Shaw, who said "A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend upon the support of Paul.".

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 747

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

Whereas cross-cultural experiences are a key component of a young person's education; and

Whereas multiculturalism and education are brought together at Cole Harbour High School and Auburn Drive High School through the hosting of foreign exchange students; and

[Page 2442]

Whereas the exchange students are a welcome part of the communities of Cole Harbour and Eastern Passage and the host families with whom they live for several months;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the efforts of the staff of Cole Harbour High School, Auburn Drive High School, the host families and the exchange students to promote multiculturalism through personal experiences and mutual understanding.

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.

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, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 20.

Bill No. 20 - Emergency "911" Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, when we left off debate on Bill No. 20 last Thursday, I was setting out reasons for my support of the amendment that was on the floor. The amendment that is on the floor is essentially a hoist amendment. Members will recall that it calls for a six-month interruption in proceeding with this bill. This is the bill that essentially is designed to put in place a user fee for the 911 service. It is a user fee on an emergency

[Page 2443]

service. This is the bill that would require Nova Scotians who wish to use the 911 in order to call for fire, police or ambulance services to find themselves with a charge on their phone bill the next month.

I have already addressed the whole question of user fees and the circumstances in which user fees are appropriate. In reviewing that, I think I showed that there are limited circumstances in which governments should contemplate using user fees. It may be that if a government wishes to discourage a service, then it might be appropriate to put a user fee in place, but I find it hard to imagine that the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act would be interested in putting in place some measure that would discourage Nova Scotians from using the 911 service; there has never been even the remotest suggestion that it is being abused.

[2:45 p.m.]

Quite clearly, if Nova Scotians believe that they need 911 service the whole point about putting in place an efficient, province-wide, uniform service was to try to put in place something that would assist Nova Scotians in their moments of emergency. It is for those individual Nova Scotians to decide whether there is an emergency. Clearly it makes no sense to try to discourage the use of that service and that is what a user fee would do.

I have reviewed that and I imagine other members will review that part of it, but I also want to turn to another aspect of the bill that I haven't heard any comment on yet, and which equally, along with the inappropriateness of a user fee for the 911 service, should give us pause, and this is the provision in the bill that essentially eliminates any potential liability on the part of the operators of the system.

Now limiting tort liability is not something that we ought to do lightly. This bill suggests that the operators of the 911 system cannot be sued should they do something wrong. Now, why would you want to do this? If someone does something wrong that is of a non-criminal, non-contractual sort of wrong, then the courts are the place in which the question of liability is determined. This is a traditional function of the courts; this is the kind of function that the courts have performed in the common law tradition for hundreds of years. There is a well-developed jurisprudence around tort liability. This is one of the basic subjects taught in law school; this is something in which the courts have expertise. If the government decides that it wants to offer absolute immunity to some entity, there has to be a good reason for it or there ought to be a good reason for it, but we have not been told any reason for extension of immunity of this sort to the 911 operators.

Now if it is a question of who ought to pay if something goes wrong, then that is the sort of thing that could be determined in a contract between the government and the 911 operators. If they are afraid that the 911 operators won't wish to be involved, won't allow themselves to be involved unless they are given this kind of immunity, then perhaps the

[Page 2444]

government ought to operate it themselves, or perhaps the government should address this question of sharing the risk of a potential tort suit in a contract that apportions responsibility, but how can it be that the government brings in legislation that says, right off the bat to citizens, that there is no possibility of a lawsuit ever being brought?

I can understand that in most of the circumstances one could contemplate, probably the 911 operator wouldn't be responsible, or if they were responsible for some kind of injury it might be seen to be very remote, but do you know what? This whole question of who is responsible for tortious actions, to what extent they might be responsible, and how remote the liability might be, these are exactly the kinds of questions that courts determine. They determine them by looking at the details of any set of circumstances and, as any judge who deals with civil matters or any lawyer who practises in this area will tell you, it is impossible to determine in advance of given sets of circumstances who might be liable. New circumstances come along all the time.

There are certain general principles that guide one, but the general principle is that if you are carrying out functions upon which another person relies, and you either deliberately or negligently fail in your duties thereby causing harm, you are responsible for reimbursing the person for the harms that you have caused. But this bill includes measures that would absolutely rule out any kind of claim. It would do so regardless of the circumstances.

To just illustrate how completely misplaced the thinking of these provisions is, I would like to remind the government members that tort claims are broadly of two sorts. It is quite obvious that the drafters of this clause were thinking about negligence, but there is another category of tortious claims. The other category of tortious claims is the intentional infliction of harm, not just doing something inadvertently, carelessly, wantonly or recklessly, that is negligence. The other category is doing something intentional.

Now, it is easy to understand the difference. If you are moving around through a crowded room and you accidentally bump into somebody and you do them a slight harm, perhaps even a serious harm, it is done by accident. That is negligence. But if you haul off and punch somebody, that is deliberation. That is doing something intentionally. Of course, when you do it deliberately, often you can do serious harm. This clause says that regardless of whether it is negligence, or deliberate, you can't sue.

Now I know that it is very unlikely that any of the parties named as being given protection in this bill are likely to do anything harmful, deliberately. Yet, I can imagine one set of circumstances in which that would apply. Now at the moment, everyone contemplates that the service will be handled by MTT, but at the same time, the legislation quite specifically contemplates that some other kind of entity might handle the service. These are called CLECs, that is something entitled a competitive local exchange carrier, a CLEC. But what I want you to imagine is the following circumstance.

[Page 2445]

Suppose there is a fire at the Sprint office. Remember Sprint? Sprint is a competitor to MTT and other telephone carriers. So suppose they have set up business in Nova Scotia. MTT has the contract; there is a fire at the Sprint office and they call 911. MTT people take it into their heads to say, too bad, we are not going to pass on your call to the fire services, you are just going to have to live with it. Figure it out yourself. Now I am not suggesting that they would do this. I certainly hope they wouldn't do this, but if harm entailed because of the deliberate refusal to pass on a call for help, this legislation says you can't sue. This legislation says you wouldn't be able to do anything about it.

Now others may be able to imagine other circumstances in which someone deliberately fails to pass on a message. You could imagine an employee of the 911 service unfortunately behaving in a mentally ill or erratic fashion and deliberately failing to do it. This bill says, you can't sue. You are calling for police, for an ambulance, for the fire truck, and the 911 service deliberately doesn't do anything to help you out. You can't sue. How on earth can that possibly make sense?

Now when I review the Statutes of Nova Scotia and I look for examples in which tort liability is eliminated, there are very few of them. It is extremely limited, the circumstances in which the government has chosen to refuse to allow private citizens or companies access to the courts in order to seek redress and compensation for tortious wrongs. If there is any justification for that to occur, I would hope that all members at the very least would agree with me that it cannot be extended. That kind of protection cannot be extended in cases of deliberate tortious acts.

Surely that narrows the focus of discussion down to the question of negligence so at the very least this part of the bill needs amendment. In my suggestion it needs further study which is why the hoist proposal makes sense. This is obviously not a well-thought-through proposal. This is a proposal that takes an extraordinary step. I find it hard to have any kind of sympathy for a government proposing to give exemption from the normal rigours of such an ancient and well-respected aspect of the law.

There are categories that we are aware of that are commonly met with. Workers' compensation is an example that goes back almost a full century. The legislation that governs the workers' compensation system says that you cannot sue your employer in negligence if something goes wrong. It says it, but it says it for a reason. The reason it does that is that at the same time as it offers protection from tort liability to employers, it sets up an insurance scheme so that fault does not enter into it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member allow for an introduction at this time?

MR. EPSTEIN: An introduction, yes, of course, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 2446]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, if you would permit an introduction with a brief preamble. Just a few moments ago, I was honoured to sign a protocol with the Republic of the Philippines and the Nova Scotia Oceans initiative. This protocol is kick-starting a partnership in marine and Maritime education that will last 15 to 20 years. I might add that no other province, no other country has reached such an agreement with the Phillippines.

I would ask the members of the House to join me in giving a warm Nova Scotia welcome to our distinguished guests from the Philippines. We have with us Congressman Dante Liban, Chair of the Committee on Higher Education in the Philippine House of Representatives; Dr. Ester Garcia, Chair of the Philippine Commission on Higher Education. We have Dr. Mona Dumlao-Valisno, Commissioner with CHED; Mrs. Elenita Delgado, Deputy Administrator of the Maritime Industry Development Authority; and Dr. Adrian Arcelo, a private consultant. Would you rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I was making the point that as we consider the hoist we ought to consider not just the question of whether it is advisable to have a user fee for an emergency service, but we ought to consider another aspect of the bill which is the protection from tort liability that is offered to all the parties involved in the delivery of the 911 service. I was suggesting that this is such a rare occurrence in the law that it should not be allowed to go forward without some kind of specific stated justification offered by the government and, of course, we are not offered any justification. Hence, we are left to speculate.

I was also saying that when we consider when this kind of protection from tort liability has been offered to other entities, it has been in such exceptional circumstances that the force and logic of it tend to be manifest, but that there is usually an offsetting justification. The example I had just given was the example of the workers' compensation system in which we recognize that although employers are given protection from tort liability, it is because at the same time a system of no-fault insurance has been set up in order to offer the workers' compensation. What stands out about this bill is that, no such system of no-fault compensation is put in place to take the place of the tort system.

[3:00 p.m.]

Other circumstances in which liability is limited are the occasional provisions you find in bills which require that a very strong standard be met if someone is to bring a successful tort action. So it is not mere negligence or bare negligence but a kind of reckless negligence that would still attract liability.

[Page 2447]

Mr. Speaker, that isn't said in this bill either. It is not that the standard is made more difficult for a litigant, it is that the access of the litigants to the courts or potential litigants to the courts is completely eliminated. Now I cannot see that there is any suggestion made of why it is that the government thinks that this is necessary. There is nothing in the explanatory notes, there are no explanatory notes with respect to this provision in the bill. There is nothing in the comments that have been made by the government when it offered this bill to us that explained why it is that they felt that this was necessary. Therefore, we are left to speculate on our own. I cannot see that there is any good motive for doing that.

Surely it is obvious that a hoist for six months to allow further study of this would give us the opportunity, us as legislators together in this House, all three Parties, to study whether there is any justification for this kind of extraordinary clause in a bill. I can't think of one, but it may emerge during a public round of consultations that there is some reason, but at the moment it is unstated, any justification that might exist has not been suggested by the minister or, so far as I have noticed, any speaker whose has risen to support the bill. On that basis alone, I think it would be appropriate to vote in favour of the motion for a hoist.

So just to review, Mr. Speaker, I have suggested that reasons to support the hoist are: first, the fact that it is, as a matter of principle, wrong to look for a user fee when it comes to emergency services; second, I have suggested that since we now know that something like 200,000 or more calls per year can be expected, we actually have some feel for the magnitude or potential magnitude of the tax that is about to be imposed on Nova Scotians and that it is wrong; third, that there is an unjustified immunity from tort liability being offered to all entities associated with delivering the 911 service.

What I have suggested is that any one of these reasons, but certainly all three in combination, which is what Bill No. 20 offers us, amounts to a very clear justification for hoisting this bill for further study and I hope that the government will agree, in the end, having had the opportunity now to consider it in more detail, that this hoist make sense. I hope the government members will support this hoist and I hope the government members will recall that a hoist does not end the bill. All it does is, it gives an opportunity for further study. So with those remarks, Mr. Speaker, I would like to indicate that I am prepared to vote in favour of the motion for amendment, that is to say the motion to give a six months' hoist to this bill. Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to this.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to make a number of interventions on this particular motion to hoist Bill No. 20, an Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1992, the Emergency "911" Act. I support the motion to hoist for a variety of reasons. Before I dwell deeply on that, I will give you the background and the rationale for supporting this particular hoist, which I believe is important and is fundamental to the issue at hand for the people of Nova Scotia, and that is the right to participate and to be consulted

[Page 2448]

on a very important and pressing issue that the Minister of Health has brought before this House of Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, when the minister introduced this particular piece of legislation, it was done, I somehow felt, in a very low-key and unassuming fashion, without the usual fanfare that Ministers of the Crown would deign when implementing a particular piece of legislation. There was no press conference, there was no briefing as to the analysis of this particular piece of legislation. It was just simply introduced in the House of Assembly in a very low-key and unassuming fashion, perhaps designed to not attract a lot of attention, not only for members of the House of Assembly but also for the people of Nova Scotia, in essence the stakeholders who are most affected.

Mr. Speaker, without this consultative process, what we will find, as has been the case in many pieces of legislation that have come before this House on previous days, not only with the present administration but indeed other administrations, to be fair to the government and indeed the Minister of Health, it is a lesson that has been learned by politicians from both sides of the House.

Mr. Speaker, this particular piece of legislation and my intent to support the hoist is premised on the fact that the people of Nova Scotia have not been consulted. They have not been consulted on what is evidently a tax measure. It is a tax measure in a circumvented fashion by virtue of the fact that we are implementing a tax without telling the people of Nova Scotia that it is in effect a tax. It is a user fee.

One has to ask themselves, how many user fees are there in the Province of Nova Scotia that have been implemented by government, in the present and in the past, that essentially drain the very valuable resources that the individual homeowner has in terms of meeting their day-to-day obligations, whether it be paying for their grocery bill, their lights, their telephone, their mortgage, their day-to-day operations, their automotive expenses, insurance.

Mr. Speaker, this in essence takes that much more away from the average family in Nova Scotia. We have some 950,000 Nova Scotians. I believe the Minister of Health has indicated, during one of his media scrums, that there are approximately 1.5 million telephones in the province, thereby consumers, so that the overall cost of this administration fee, this user fee for the 911 system would be very minimal.

Mr. Speaker, that was the intent several months ago. If we go back several months, in June, when the government, after we had dealt with this had made a commitment that the total administration costs would be reduced. Since then and indeed since this particular government and this Minister of Health has taken charge of this issue, the total administrative cost has increased by somewhere in the vicinity of $100,000. The minister is shaking his head no, so I would welcome his intervention to correct me on that.

[Page 2449]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the response to his question is there were two employees transferred from the Department of the Environment to the Emergency Measures Organization. They were being billed under the Department of the Environment. The increase to the government is not there.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health has really clarified this situation by saying that what he has done is he is downloading a further cost to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. They are paying for those positions, as I understand, in the Department of the Environment, unless he has reduced the budget within the Department of the Environment to the tune of $100,000 - and he is shaking his head yes - but the overall costs to that department, if he will check, has increased.

So I think, irrespective of where the dollars flowed from - from point A to point B to point C - the bottom line is the cost to the taxpayers in that particular department has not decreased, but yet what we are seeing is a downloading of an increase of at least $100,000 of administrative costs in direct charges to the people of Nova Scotia. So they are getting hit twice. They are still getting hit with that increased overall budgetary measure within the Department of the Environment, and yet they are getting hit with an increase of a $100,000 administration cost of a user fee through the emergency 911 system.

Mr. Speaker, the average homeowner today would have at least one, perhaps two telephones, so the question is the distribution of the cost. The distribution of the cost to the homeowner versus the business operator, the corporate board rooms of this province. How is this fee going to be distributed? Is it going to be distributed fairly, or is it going to be a disproportionate share to the consumer on the domestic basis or who, in fact, will be the primary users of this? So those questions haven't really been answered.

It seems to me to be more of an approach on an ad hoc basis. It is very difficult to support a particular piece of legislation that hasn't really given the full rationale other than the basis of a tax grab. Quite frankly, if we are looking at 1.5 million telephones, for example, in the province, and I believe the minister has kind of hinted at the possibility of a $1.00 per month, (Interruption) No? Zero at this point, but the option is open to the minister, as per the legislation, that the provision is there to implement a user fee. So while the minister is stating today, Mr. Speaker, that it is zero cents, it could very well be $1.00 tomorrow if the legislation were to be approved, and the minister has not ruled that out.

One of the reasons, I believe, we need further consultation, Mr. Speaker, is to question very openly as to how this particular piece of legislation has been implemented and is working in other provincial jurisdictions. As we know, there is a lot of interprovincial activity in terms of MTT, which is now incorporated into a Maritime telephone system - so it is not just for the Province of Nova Scotia - and how is that tax going to be implemented and how are we going to be able to distinguish one jurisdiction from the other? Is that responsibility going to be put on the shoulders of the new Maritime telephone system that we have in existence

[Page 2450]

today? If so, will that result in an increased administration cost over and above what the government is hoping to recoup in terms of its administrative and operational costs with the 911 system under its jurisdiction?

[3:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I envisage very easily that the monthly fee that is being charged by MTT, which is now a Maritime telephone system - it is regional for all intents and purposes, taking in a number of different provincial jurisdictions and not just the Province of Nova Scotia and the Province of Prince Edward Island but indeed all four. So what we are seeing here is not only the increased cost to government that the Minister of Health has acknowledged that we are downloading by the transfers of these two employees, which will be a direct charge over and above the people's taxation, but also the cost for the telephone company to be able to implement this service and there has been no analysis to date on that.

What is the impact from other provincial jurisdictions? I think it would only be appropriate to take such an issue before the people of Nova Scotia and, indeed, to consult with other jurisdictions, perhaps the Law Amendments Committee would be the appropriate place to allow these various stakeholders to come and participate or at least for a more thorough research and analysis of the situation, Mr. Speaker, before it is just simply railroaded through the consultative process as this particular government sometimes refers to as being consultative. We saw what happened with the paramedics and I think that turned out to be for all intents and purposes, an unmitigated disaster for the government, certainly from public relations, because if communications is what they are planning on improving through a 911 system, that certainly is not the way that I would have chosen.

Mr. Speaker, then there is also the other aspect of it. How does this particular piece of legislation impact on the volunteer fire departments in Nova Scotia? As we know, we have some 8,000 volunteer firefighters in the Province of Nova Scotia. We have somewhere in the vicinity of 376 volunteer fire departments and, most importantly, is the admission by the Fire Marshal's Office of a plan to download the responsibility of basic investigations onto these volunteers. Now, take that in sync or in harmony with this proposed 911 system and what we have is a recipe for a tremendous amount of liability and a burdensome task for the volunteer firefighters in this province.

On the one hand the Minister of Health through his legislation is providing exemption for the corporate strategies of this particular operation, i.e., the carriers of the service, which was initially extended to MTT but because of the diversification through the directive of the Canadian telecommunications board has expanded that. So what we are seeing is not only a burden to the average Nova Scotian who is paying taxes in essence to provide this service through the provincial tax system to operate this as part of one of the government's agency but now they are going to be asked to pay a user fee over and above that, so in essence that

[Page 2451]

is a hidden tax, plus many of those consumers who are volunteer firefighters or families of volunteer firefighters are going to be expected to assume a greater liability.

So, Mr. Speaker, what we have, in essence, is a very, very unfair distribution of liability and financial burden. The legal liability, alone, to the volunteer firefighters in this province is becoming such that, as I have noted through a number of resolutions that I have introduced in this House on previous days, shows that volunteer firefighters are now finding problems maintaining their membership because the burden, the legal liability and the increased requirements for training are such that they are simply giving up the ghost. They are simply giving up the ghost because this government has found just another way to download its responsibility without assuming some leadership responsibility in terms of training, in terms of the administration, in terms of financial assistance, in terms of the interactive relationships between volunteer firefighters, the paramedics and now indeed with the operators and administrators of the 911 system.

So, Mr. Speaker, what we are seeing is a hodgepodge attempt by the provincial Department of Health, and indeed the provincial government, to find a resolve to a problem that they in effect have created. They have created it because of their uncoordinated approach to dealing with matters of public policy as it comes to the health and safety of the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the people of Nova Scotia would not have had any great problem in finding ways to come up with additional revenue for the paramedics of the province because they understood quite readily and quite willingly the valuable contribution by the paramedics. The Minister of Health, who supports this particular piece of legislation, in fact being the sponsor, is delivering mixed messages to the people of Nova Scotia and indeed to the paramedics because if you look at the contractual obligation that the paramedics of this province have in carrying out their responsibilities, particularly on the issue of due diligence, they have not been given any exemption, any alleviation, any protection, from this government, or indeed from EMC in terms of its responsibilities.

As you will recall, Mr. Speaker, the issue was brought up in terms of whether an employee could withdraw his or her services if he or she saw fit. Then there were considerable pressures put on through the legislative and the legal mechanisms to turn that burden of proof over onto the individual employee, but we do not see that with the corporate giants, such as MTT or, as some have suggested, the possibility of Sprint, or whoever it would be. So I think that is an unfair distribution of liability for those who are part of the system, in particular volunteers.

Mr. Speaker, it is tough enough if you volunteer your service, but then to be held liable while those who are being paid very handsomely for participating in this particular service are given legislative protection, I think that is unfair to the volunteer firefighters. I think that is unfair to the volunteer firefighters' families, to the people of Nova Scotia, to the paramedics

[Page 2452]

and to all those who are involved in the safety and the well-being of the people of Nova Scotia and, in particular, those who need the services of 911.

That in itself, Mr. Speaker, is ample cause to ask for a hoist of this particular piece of legislation and, as has been noted and according the rules of Beauchesne, that hoist would be for either a three or a six month period that would allow for ample consultation and, indeed, if the government is still set on design to incorporate these financial measures as part of their hard-hitting measures coming up in the spring budget, then there is ample opportunity to incorporate them because, as we know, the government has the majority. They can ram this through whether they continue to go around the clock or they don't, but the fact of the matter is, after a certain period of time, the legislation will pass because it is a simple numbers game. It is a numbers game, not only in terms of the fact that the government controls the majority, but it is an issue of time and the Rules of the House. That is fine, we all accept that and the people of Nova Scotia accept that.

That is why, for all intents and purposes, we have a majority government, because that was their choice. But in a sense a fairness, in a sense of ensuring the proper consultation for the people of Nova Scotia and indeed for the shareholders, what is the problem? The government will still be able to meet its financial targets. If this is part of their financial objective and overall package, then there is no problem. There is no problem in consulting with the people of Nova Scotia. In fact, the government may be very well surprised to find out that the people of Nova Scotia support this. Personally, I don't think so, at least I would be somewhat suspect.

The Minister of Health is suggesting perhaps 90 per cent of the people of Nova Scotia would accept an additional hidden tax. I am not so sure that the people of Nova Scotia are open armed to having more hidden taxes dumped on their shoulders when they are struggling for very precious dollars. But again, that is not for me to decide. I can only assume that from the mandate that I have received and from the consultations and the discussions that I have had with constituents and taxpayers across this province, I would say no, Mr. Speaker, they do not support this. It is a hidden tax. It is a sneaky tax. I think it is most unfair.

I believe the resolution that was put forth by my colleague from the NDP caucus, at the Public Accounts Committee several weeks ago, in terms of asking the Auditor General to do a value-for-dollar audit on the total number of user fees in this province was a clear indication that the people of Nova Scotia have no idea how badly they are being hit. They feel it every day, and they sense that they are really being, kind of, gouged by governments of all political Parties, for that matter. But more importantly, the way this government is going, to gouge the taxpayers even more so, I believe we are at a breaking point. That is why it is important to open up the doors of opportunity, open up the windows of the success that the government espouses and open up their ears and listen to what the people of Nova Scotia are saying.

[Page 2453]

Mr. Speaker, what we are saying is, we want some consultation. We want some consultation and we are not getting it from this government. That is one of the primary reasons I would support a hoist on this particular piece of legislation. The fire marshal, last week, in dealing with basic fire investigations which tie into this 911 system and is a critical component in ensuring protection and quality service for the people of Nova Scotia, indicated in essence that they were going to privatize basic fire investigations by allowing the private firms, individuals and entities to carry out that service.

Mr. Speaker, what is the purpose of the fire marshal's office? By his own admission, with an internal departmental document, he has acknowledged that they are not able to meet those most important and pressing needs for the people of Nova Scotia. He has, by his own admission admitted that there is insufficient training and professional capabilities to meet the demand of the service that is required by these 376 volunteer fire departments notwithstanding the paid services in this province.

[3:30 p.m.]

So we have, Mr. Speaker, yet another problem. How can the government impose such a measure that will create a chain reaction in such a counter-productive fashion without assessing the total impact? That alone should be a clear indication that the Minister of Health should slow down, take some time to interact, to consult with his colleague at the Cabinet Table, the Minister of Labour, who is responsible for this most important service, and he will find that if they are looking to deliver the message to the people of Nova Scotia that they have a clear course, that they are just simply misunderstood, here is an opportunity for them to do that.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia are not misunderstood. The government is not misunderstood. The government is just simply not doing what it said it was going to do. This 911 service in concert with the basic fire investigative service that is provided by the fire marshal's office, at the rate it is going is nothing short of an unmitigated disaster unless it is the design and the intent of this government to privatize the entire service.

Mr. Speaker, all indications are this is part of the government's overall government strategy to privatize government people services. We are seeing the privatization of the fire marshal's office and I think what might be left of that will perhaps go over to the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs as some adjunct to satisfy some of the demands and the needs within that legislative body, but also, on the other side, what we are seeing is the move towards the privatization of the 911 service.

Also included in that, with the suggestion or the legislative intent by the government to provide the exemption from liability from the lead agents of this particular service, Mr. Speaker, I think it creates another legal quandary and that is if they privatize, and all indications are there is another aspect to this, and that is with regard to the Workers'

[Page 2454]

Compensation Act. Under the Workers' Compensation Act there is provision for coverage and for protection for volunteer firefighters in this province. How will this impact?

We are seeing, Mr. Speaker, that this downloading is going to have a negative impact not only for the volunteer firefighters but also for the employers in the province. We are going to see a negative impact. So they are getting hit with a hidden user fee. The indications are they are moving towards a privatization and the liability has to come out somewhere. You cannot expect the people of Nova Scotia to accept a system where nobody is going to be held accountable. You cannot expect just the paramedics to be held liable. You cannot expect the volunteer firefighters to be held liable and not the sponsors and the lead agents of this, i.e. the Government of Nova Scotia.

At what point in time do we stop putting the responsibility on everybody else for our actions and that is essentially what the government is trying to do, Mr. Speaker. I think that this particular issue has not been given a full and clear examination. There are still many issues surrounding the issue of liability with volunteer firefighters in this province as it pertains to the Workers' Compensation Board.

To go one step further, if you look at the Tory blue book, which my colleague, the member for Dartmouth North, is always flogging in this House, you will see that the government is planning on moving the Occupational Health and Safety Division from the Department of Labour over to the Workers' Compensation Board. That is clear. So what you are going to see is a dissection of the Department of Labour, which is one of the parent agencies that has a major impact and a major responsibility for this particular piece of legislation, even though they are not the sponsors of this particular piece of legislation. So what is going to be the impact? If the government is going to privatize occupational health and safety, if they are privatizing the issue of 911 and the government hasn't taken issue with my comments, obviously I can only assume that I am not far off the mark and it is part of their overall corporate strategy.

Also, Mr. Speaker, you can see the way they are slowly dismantling the fire marshal's office because by the fire marshal's own admission, they are not even able to meet the demands that are sometimes caused by this very vital service, and that is 911. So the calls are coming in quicker, faster, more efficiently and that, with the liabilities that are imposed on the individual firefighters of this province, I think unless we have an overall corporate strategy from the government as to where and how this is going to be implemented in a coordinated fashion, how it is going to impact on the people of Nova Scotia, will it meet the needs of those who are demanding the service not only from a human resources point of view, but also from a financial point of view.

So, Mr. Speaker, what we have is a deliberate attempt, as I read, by the Government of Nova Scotia to impose a piece of enabling legislation to impose a hidden tax. We have come full circle. We have to look at that very issue, the issue of tax liability. The consumers

[Page 2455]

of this province don't have the luxury of writing off this additional charge as a tax deduction. The corporations in this province do, whether it be a small business operator or a large commercial or industrial operator, you could write that off, but the average householder in this province cannot write that off, so that is a double hit. The consumers of this province are subsidizing the corporate write-offs once again. That, in itself, is an issue.

So the consumers, when you add it up at the end of the day, and I am sure the Minister of Finance would have very little trouble coming up with the fact that if one wanted to, for the sake of discussion break it down 50/50 - let's say the total charge is $1 million, $0.5 million to the consumers, the private citizens, and $0.5 million to the corporate structures of Nova Scotia, how much, in essence, does it cost the corporate structure of Nova Scotia? Little or nothing, Mr. Speaker.

Anyone who has operated a business, and I have certainly operated one for more than 20 years, could at times, as has been noted here in the Public Accounts Committee last week, a tax liability can turn into a tax asset pretty easily. So, in essence what is the difference, whether you pay it to the tax man or you use it as a corporate right off? In many cases that is what happens, Mr. Speaker. So we are seeing here the potential by the Minister of Health to impose an unfair tax structure. Again, we are going back to the issue of the hoist. The government, I am sure, would be very agreeable to a three months' hoist and still be able to meet its financial targets for its budgetary measures in March or April 2000 because the budget has been approved for this year. The government has laid out its corporate and its financial agenda for the next four to five months, so what is the problem? There is very little inconsistency with putting this particular piece of legislation on hold so that the people of Nova Scotia would have an opportunity to vent this in a fair and equitable fashion, but it is also an opportunity for the government to reflect on how it has not consulted the people of Nova Scotia on this most important issue.

I will bet you a dime to a donut, Mr. Speaker - I don't have a dime and I don't have a donut, unless I were to go to Tim Hortons, but assuming that I did - I would venture to say that at least 75 per cent of Nova Scotians are not fully aware that they will be getting an additional charge on their tax bill at the end of the month. They won't realize, like most people don't realize, about some of these hidden tax charges until they get hit with it. What the government is doing here is trying to go with the flow, get as many as these subtleties, these tax measures, these charges, in, while the people's attention is focused on other issues and maybe that is part of their strategy.

Maybe it is also part of the government's strategy to impose as many of these measures as possible, in as short a period of time as possible, so that after a while, Mr. Speaker, people become immune to how it is going to impact on them. They just say, oh yes, just another tax. Then all of a sudden, six months later, when they can't afford to pay this bill or that bill, they will say where did this come from. Then where will the Minister of Health be? He will say, look, this was openly debated in the House of Assembly, it was given a thorough examination,

[Page 2456]

and all the good things that the Minister of Health wished to put in the context of trying to sell this as a good piece of legislation and I think that is wrong. I think it is fundamentally wrong. It is wrong not only for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia because, in essence, it is a hidden tax.

It is unfair to those in the rural parts of Nova Scotia where the 911 system really hasn't been given the full opportunity to be exercised. When this 911 system was introduced in Nova Scotia there were concerns that there were certain jurisdictions in the province, such as northeastern Nova Scotia and, in particular, in and around the Cumberland County area, there were areas that the 911 system just simply could not be implemented in providing the same level of service as it is here in metro or in industrial Cape Breton. So we find that in some cases we are going to have consumers of the telephone service in Nova Scotia that will be paying for a service that, in all probability, will not be using for some time.

Also, for the corporate strategists, are they going to be paying for that service when they use their fax machines? You have to have a telephone number to be able to use your fax; it is a telephone fax number. Is that an additional charge over and above what the government is implementing? The government really isn't telling the people of Nova Scotia, to the full extent of what this measure will do in its implementation.

The government has not given any clear indication as to what's the bottom line. What is the bottom line for the people of Nova Scotia? How much more will it cost the consumer? How much more are we going to be taking out of the pockets of the average Nova Scotian?

[3:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, during our budgetary debates, deliberations, with the Minister of Community Services, we learned the poor children of this province only get 95 cents per meal a day to feed themselves. If the government is going to implement a user fee for this 911 system which will be, for all intents and purposes, if you are looking at a budget of $1 million to $1.5 million, then you are going to be charging more for this service than you will be providing for the 50,000 hungry children of this province. So, on one hand the government seems to be very firm on its commitment to fiscal and monetary responsibility, but yet by its very own actions it seems to take a slightly different course.

The Minister of Health has failed to indicate what role the CRTC will play in terms of this particular issue, in terms of control, the administration, the quality of service. How are we going to guarantee the quality of the service, Mr. Speaker, particularly when we get into this very competitive market that we see emerging by the various service distributors in this province? Neither the Minister of Health, nor the Minister of Labour who is responsible for workers' safety and for the volunteer fire service and indeed for fire service in this province, haven't even come close to addressing this particular issue.

[Page 2457]

Mr. Speaker, I believe it is incumbent on the Minister of Labour to stand on his feet in this House and explain to the people of Nova Scotia how this particular piece of legislation will impact the volunteer fire service and indeed the paid fire service and indeed the paramedics and indeed those who are being covered by Workers' Compensation Act and indeed those who are affected by the Occupational Health and Safety Act of this province. I believe the Minister of Labour, as a member of the Executive Council, has a responsibility to stand and make intervention and give that guaranteed quality assurance for the people of Nova Scotia and indeed for those members in this House who are required to vote on this particular piece of legislation. I believe that that is incumbent.

The Premier, himself, earlier in today's paper, says that they are just simply misunderstood, but how can you misunderstand being jabbed with a hidden tax? Any which way you cut it, Mr. Speaker, a tax is a tax is a tax.

AN HON. MEMBER: What do you mean jabbed? We are not only being jabbed, we are being stolen from and everything else.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I believe that it is very unfair for this government to implement such a regressive, hidden tax measure. Let's be fair, as my colleague, the member for Dartmouth North has suggested, this is not like garbage, you can't bury it. You can't bury this, you know, it is not like (Interruption) There are lots from Dartmouth I am sure, and I am sure they would agree with me. You can't hide these things. Put them out, put them on the table so they will be well vented and the people of Nova Scotia can say, yes, the government needs the money, that is a good issue. It is a worthwhile expenditure and I don't mind coughing up a few extra bucks a month to pay for this service because I know it will protect me, my family, my children, my children's children and, indeed, the community at large, but the government has failed to do that.

Sometimes I wonder if maybe the Minister of Health was just given this directive from the Minister of Finance to meet a corporate target. Okay, we have to start cutting and cutting somewhere. So maybe it is the three wise men in Cabinet. Maybe it is the Baker, Russell, LeBlanc combination. Maybe it is the three wise men. (Interruptions) And the wise woman, perhaps the Minister of Education is in on this. She is nodding her head in a different direction so I am not so sure if she is agreeing or disagreeing, but I am sure that if all things are consistent and if what has taken place in the Department of Health is any indication of what is taking place in other government departments, the users of the education system are going to get hit too, and they are going to get hit hard.

Mr. Speaker, you saw in Ontario where the Harris Government rushed to get a press release out for the Globe and Mail today to state that they weren't going to privatize education in the Province of Ontario. I would certainly look for any measure of comfort from the Minister of Education that she is not going to start implementing a user fee for the people of Nova Scotia in education thereby creating a double system, a double standard. She is not

[Page 2458]

saying yes and she is not saying no. I guess we can only assume, knowing the track record of this government, that that means yes. My colleague the member for Dartmouth North will certainly ferret it out in his blue book that has been provided to him by the Progressive Conservative caucus.

Mr. Speaker, the impact on municipalities, the government through this 911 piece of legislation has not clarified its role with the municipalities. Through the proposed Fire Prevention Act that was drafted, although not tabled to date, by the Department of Labour in concert and in consultation with the Department of Municipal Affairs will have quite a dramatic impact in terms of who is going to take the lead role and the ultimate responsibility for this 911 service.

As I have indicated before, with the scenario that has been developed between the Department of Health, the Department of Labour and indeed the Department of Municipal Affairs, I think we can (Interruptions) The Minister of Municipal Affairs is saying there is nobody in the Department of Municipal Affairs who will accept that responsibility. I can certainly, perhaps, agree with him, he is the minister and if he can't accept responsibility why would the rest of the staff accept responsibility. If the Minister of Municipal Affairs is asleep at the switch then obviously what he is indicated is that he is not going to accept the responsibility for the 911 system, and hopefully he will give some quality assurance that it will not be downloaded on the municipalities.

Mr. Speaker, if in fact the government's corporate design is to move the fire marshal's office under the responsibility of the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs, then I think what we will have is in fact a downloading that will have a cause and effect relationship with this 911 system that the Minister of Health is proposing to implement.

Mr. Speaker, as we know, in the Province of Nova Scotia there are 52 municipalities presently - 55 - I am losing count as they start to amalgamate. If we examine, we will find that not all of those municipalities have fire inspectors. They do not have deputy fire marshals or a fire service, investigative service. They have to rely on volunteer firefighters or indeed if you are lucky enough to be within the Halifax Regional Municipality, we have a large enough corporate structured government body that you can provide that, that is fine. But many of these do not.

If we continue to download and compound that problem, it has to come out somewhere. That has to come out somewhere in terms of a tax increase. If it is not going to be a tax increase, it is going to be an increase in user fees. So, Mr. Speaker, I believe it is also incumbent upon the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs to state where he stands within this coordinated approach to the 911 system. As we know, there have been emergency strategies designed, developed and implemented by the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs, in concert with the Department of Labour, the Department of Health and, indeed, a number of other government departments.

[Page 2459]

Mr. Speaker, I believe that if the government is looking for the full approbation and support of Opposition members here who are, in essence, the voice for the people of Nova Scotia who feel that the government is not listening, this is an opportunity for the government, indeed, for the Minister of Health to win support for his legislation. Unfortunately, that is not the case with this particular government. So the Minister of Health is inviting opposition. That is essentially what he and his government are doing; they are inviting opposition by virtue of their silence, by virtue of their reluctance to participate in an open and consultative process.

I am sure that many of the government backbenchers who have volunteer fire services in their respective constituencies, who also count on the interactive and the coordinated approach with the paramedics through EMC in this province, would be quite surprised to find out the impact that this particular piece of legislation would have if they were to take it back to their local volunteer fire departments.

In my constituency, Mr. Speaker, we have 14 volunteer fire departments. All 14 volunteer services do it willingly. They participate in training sessions on a regular basis; they come to the fire school here in Waverley to try to upgrade as best they can, giving up their valuable time for their service. To implement this particular piece of legislation in the fashion that the Minister of Health is planning on implementing it, he is saying to these volunteer firefighters that, yes, we still hold you fully accountable for all your actions, but the other component of this service, the administrators of this 911 service and the distributors, the telecommunications operators, are not going to be held responsible for anything.

Mr. Speaker, what does that say to the volunteer services in the Province of Nova Scotia? Many people don't know but the volunteer service in this province equates to a dollar value greater than the total provincial Civil Service. That is correct. If you look at the total contribution put in by some 300,000 volunteers in this province, you will find that it equates to over $2.2 billion, which is greater than the total payroll for the entire Civil Service in this province, and the government wants to bring in a piece of legislation that is counterproductive and regressive towards the volunteer services of this province.

Mr. Speaker, why wouldn't we want to hoist this particular piece of legislation? Why wouldn't we want further consultation? Why would we not want those who are most affected to participate and to make intervention, to make some very constructive suggestions as to how to improve this particular piece of legislation?

The government is doing very little to enhance its credibility by bringing in a sneaky tax. That is what it is, a sneaky tax . . .

AN. HON. MEMBER: How is it a sneaky tax?

[Page 2460]

MR. MACKINNON: . . . any which way you cut it because, and an honourable member asks how is it a sneaky tax.

[4:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, quite simply, there is no reduction in the Department of the Environment's budget. The overall Department of the Environment's budget has not been shrunk, so what we are seeing is a shift, a realignment of financial resources to meet some governmental objective. How can the government say we are going to examine all programs, all initiatives and, at the same time, stick it to the people of Nova Scotia? I believe that is very regressive.

If the government were to stand in its place, Mr. Speaker, and say we are going to reduce your personal income tax by one per cent but we are going to implement a user fee for this service, then there could be some balance, some justification. Perhaps not all people have telephones, and there are a lot of communities in this province where people cannot afford telephones, have chosen not to have a telephone or, indeed, the cost of the telephone service is just too excessive for their budgetary needs. So I think if the government was looking for a way of ingratiating itself with the taxpayers or the people of Nova Scotia, they have gone about it in a very wrong and very stubborn fashion.

Mr. Speaker, having a closed mind to the people of Nova Scotia has been a lesson for many governments, including the government that I sat in. We felt that we had made a lot of good decisions but, indeed, one thing this government must realize is it should consult before it acts.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ask John Savage.

MR. MACKINNON: There have been Premiers in the past who have paid the price and I do not want to go too far into history, but Premier Hamm seems to be following the same course as Premier Donald Cameron did. He will act first. You know, pound his fist on the table and say might is right, this is the way we are going to do it, and that is the way it is going to be done and, if you don't like it, too bad.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia don't accept that. They don't accept it. So is there a reason why the Premier and his government is misunderstood? Perhaps we should rename the Premier Dr. C. because many of the things happening over here are a simple cover-up. So we will call him Dr. Cover-up because by ramming this particular piece of legislation through without proper vetting and discussion is a cover-up. It is a simple cover-up because the people of Nova Scotia have not had an opportunity to reflect and contemplate the implications.

[Page 2461]

What the government is saying is that presently we are using about $1 million of your taxpayers' money for the 911 service, but what we are going to do is take that $1 million, put it somewhere else in the government bureaucracy and we are going to hit you with another $1 million tax. They are not going to call it a tax, they are going to call it a user fee, Mr. Speaker, which will have as I have indicated before a corporate advantage, but a consumer disadvantage.

Mr. Speaker, I realize you are signalling my time has expired, or is about to expire, but I certainly look forward to making further intervention on this most important piece of legislation. I would ask the government, and I would ask the Minister of Health to reconsider this rather bull-headed, stubborn, and non-consultative approach to taxing the people of Nova Scotia. Thank you.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I too will be supporting hoisting this bill. I don't think I will speak as long because I am going to try to speak on the bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: A novel suggestion.

MR. CORBETT: A novel suggestion and, do you know what, I may regret making that statement. The idea of the hoist in this bill, and my rationale for supporting it, is the fact that before there can be any changes it really has to go through a federal commission, the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission. So before this even saw the light of day in this House, in some respects, I wonder if it would have been much wiser to go to that commission and get approval. Then we would know within this House what we are really dealing with on a dollar value because, for sure, none of us are supporting another hidden tax.

This bill goes a step further and says it is a hidden tax and that again is hidden. We don't know, in this bill, if we are going to be paying a user fee on a per call basis. We don't know whether the fee would be for the amount of telephones you own or the use of your telephones, there are many variables here. That is the problem and it is a large problem, Mr. Speaker. Let's look at it from a side that maybe people in our chairs don't assume to look at it from, but from a corporate aspect. If you are a large firm that has many telephones, and that is the way you access your business, whether you are a call centre, a broadcaster or some form of news gatherer where you would need lots of telephones and access to telephones, is it fair then to place a burden, perhaps $1.00 a phone, on those businesses? I don't think so.

A service charge or a tax? I think most people in this House agree with the fact that whatever you want to call it, that fee you pay should have a correlation to the service received. That is a problem with this legislation because no one really knows what and how this is going to be taxed. So now by hoisting it, I think we give a couple of things. One of them is, when the service fee goes off to the CRTC, and the provincial government then

[Page 2462]

shines some light on it and tells the commission what it intends to do in a fiscal way of extracting money, now we have been found out. Is it a phone tax, a user fee, what is it? So then they explain it to the commission.

We all know that one of the CRTC's great traits is its slowness in making decisions. One can only look at the mess the broadcast industry in this country is in because of the CRTC's inability to grapple with an emerging industry. Now they are also on the edge of stuff like the Internet. Again, this commission, instead of being on the leading edge, is on the hind end. So one has to wonder about the whole idea of where we are going to go with the commission? Why wouldn't the government go to them seeking the openness that this bill deserves? They would have gone and said, here is what we are going to do. We are going to charge a $1.00 a month fee, we are going to charge a 10 cent service charge per call, we are going to charge a $1.00 service fee per call. No.

This government is playing three-card monte with this bill. They are asking us to pass a bill that has tax implications (Interruptions) You are going to pass a bill which you don't even know the extent of the tax implications. But it is a good bill. We don't know who is going to be affected by this bill financially in this province, but they are asking us to support it. This is a bill that in no way, shape or form reflects the infamous blue book, it is not there. It is just not there.

Why are they so anxious at this point in time to trotting this bill out? You can't even check it off in the proverbial blue book. The only thing one could even in their wildest imagination think of is maybe when we rise that they are going to have a public document that they will circulate around to the media and so on, and tell them, these are all things we have done in the short sitting of the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is supposed to be on the website.

MR. CORBETT: Yes. It could be posted on their website with all their other good news. Interesting read. Maybe that is one reason we should really look at the CRTC and its role of what people can put on the electronic airways, via the Internet, via e-mail because sometimes it is just not completely accurate.

Why do this? Why do this bill? Is 911 costing this province too much? Are we going to go and sell this bill to the public in a way that says, your safety depends on it. Well, that is a very mean-spirited thing to do, to deliver that to Nova Scotians and tell Nova Scotians that if you want to stay safe in your home, then we have a cost that goes with that home safety. We are not going to tell you today, we are not going to tell you tomorrow, and we are going to put it through a federal body and they are going to come back and we are going to let you know. What is home safety worth?

[Page 2463]

Mr. Speaker, that is wrong-minded to do that in the first place, but what is even more wrong-thinking in that is the fact that it is a tax. However they come up with this, whatever way they are going to massage this, it is a tax. That by itself is a good enough reason to hoist the bill; to tell Nova Scotians, look, we are listening, that what you are doing matters to Nova Scotians, and that these things should be thought through more clearly. Truly this bill, even in its title, does not really purport itself to be a service fee, a tax, whichever you want to call it, on 911. Truly the bill, all it says is Bill No. 20 is an Emergency 911 Act.

One would think that bringing in a bill with an innocuous title like that, what you are being asked to do is support better 911 service. Well, obviously on a very short bit of scrutiny, I found out that that bill was not what that was intended to do. The bill was certainly intended to be a tax, and to help. It was two hidden taxes, as I said; one was that it is going to be a form of user fee, and we don't even know what that user fee is or what it is going to be applied to. When you put a flat user fee on something, it always hurts those at the lower end of the economic spectrum because a dollar out of someone's pocket who makes $12,000 a year is much more onerous than for someone who makes $120,000. So is that where this government is going?

[4:15 p.m.]

We can't debate that here today, Mr. Speaker, because we don't know. The government, in its wisdom, decided, no. I have often said in this House, they like to play three-card monte and not show you the game and that is the way they are governing. It is just like keep everything behind their little desk and then ask Nova Scotians to buy into it. Well, as we are finding out, fewer and fewer Nova Scotians are buying into this government.

What do we get by hoisting the bill? We get, I think, a government that will show it is responsive to Nova Scotians and a government if, indeed, they have a plan, it will be time for them to show it, that people in this province will see this plan unfold, they will see this tax unfold and they then would be able to go forward. Instead, they don't want to tell us anything, they just say, pass this bill and we will look after people.

As I mentioned earlier, Mr. Speaker, we talked about the CRTC and the emergence of new technologies and new forms of communications. Just this past week, less than a week ago, when Eastlink Cable decided it was going to provide a local telephone exchange here in metro. How does that impact? We don't know yet. I am sure it will be referred to as a CLEC. We don't know where that is at yet, because that hasn't been substantiated in front of the commission.

So it begs the question back again, why is this government in such a hurry to put this flawed piece of legislation forward? Why wouldn't they, in their great wisdom, decide and tell the people of Nova Scotia, no, there are just too many variables out there, that we don't think we should heap this on this province at this time and that we should get clarity. We will

[Page 2464]

come back and we are going to do two things, we will tell Nova Scotians what we are going to do and how we are going to do it, whether it is going to be a hidden tax, it is a per user fee, it is going to be when you buy a telephone, whether it will be included in your monthly statement from your telephone company, whoever the carrier may be.

Why not say those things? Wouldn't that make the debate so much more simpler? Wouldn't Nova Scotians then be able to say to their politicians, well, I don't like user fees but I can live with this amount or it would certainly stop a lot of the debate that is going on in this House today of people saying, well, they don't have telephones and they don't have this. I mean we can go down the road later on about who can afford any kind of telecommunication devices in this province shortly.

Mr. Speaker, that is where we are at. We have a tax but we don't know what it is. We don't know whether it is going to be on your equipment or it is going to be on your bill or if it is going to be usage. So we don't know where we are going to go from there. Let's look at those people in Nova Scotia that can't afford the telephone system. It would be interesting if we could grab statistics to look at the type of people who access the 911 service in this province and where they are at in the socio-economic ladder in this province, because I am quite sure it would bear out with other statistics that it would tend to be the poor and disadvantaged, by and large, that is the greatest number.

Mr. Speaker, we are here and we are talking about the poor and a lot of times when we disagree with a government motion and we make statements, they have often said, you guys are fearmongerers.

I will make this statement with that phrase in mind because I am thinking of seniors who are living alone and if they see that they have this monthly stipend coming in and these monies going out, if that bill is a dollar per call - again, maybe a dollar is not much to you and me, but to somebody who is living on $7,000 or $8,000 a year that is quite a bit of money - and they decide, maybe it is just the flu, I shouldn't do that, that may the difference between milk for my toast and tea in the morning, so no, I am not going to do that, that is the type of situation that worries me, Mr. Speaker. We could make that statement and our Party could put it in a press release in the morning and couch it in that way, at this point I would probably tend to agree with your thinking and that would be fairly irresponsible, wouldn't it? Nobody knows if that is true and we would be scaring people needlessly.

The problem with the direction this bill takes is we do not know whether that is fact or fiction. The government refuses to come forward and say, this is exactly what we are going to do, we are going to charge per call, we are going to charge per phone, or whatever. That is one, and another example we could use, Mr. Speaker, is a low-income, single parent whose child is in need of emergency services. Is it the same thing again? Are they afraid to make that call because it will impact on lunch money at school the next day or the next week because,

[Page 2465]

again, these are not extras. As members are often wont to say in this House, that kids get 90-some cents a day when they are on Community Services.

While I agree with that position, one has to look in the mirror sometimes when you are a former minister in a former government when you make those statements. I think you have to look in the mirror and decide the rightness of that position because while I may have great differences with the government across the way, and I may agree with certain people who say that they have done some hurtful things, they have certainly had some allies since 1993.

So, Mr. Speaker, where do we go? Do we as an Opposition Party move forward and support this legislation? Do we muster the troops and try to defeat it? Well, you are a bright man, you know the numbers in this House. We can use our legislative devices that are here to stall the bill, if that is a way of putting it, but you know, Mr. Speaker, in your infinite wisdom that there are more numbers across the way than there are on this side of the floor and, at the end of the day, that would carry.

That is why we are saying hoist the bill. Let Nova Scotians have their say about it. Let this government do what it said it was going to do, and that was to be inclusive of Nova Scotians and ask for their support. The Premier is often touted as a fair-minded man, as a man who has - and I don't know if there is really any difference, but he has - the values of rural Nova Scotians at heart. I think people in metro, in urban centres have values and I think Nova Scotians have great values, so I don't like to separate them too much, but I think I know where they are going with that statement.

I would think that if indeed that is true about the Premier of this province, he should then follow that line of thinking and say, no, while we are not really admitting defeat on our bill, what we are saying is we are going to allow Nova Scotians to really see what the bill is. That is all it is. We are not asking for this government to put its tail between its legs and scamper off into the woods. No. We are asking them, in a very fair-minded way, to take this away, restudy it and then possibly reintroduce it in a way that most Nova Scotians could truly give an open-minded appraisal of this bill; if it is a user fee you want, then why not say that, why not tell Nova Scotians that it is a user fee?

While I don't think that the minister introduced this bill in a cowardly way, he has been accused of just slipping it on the Clerk's Table, so to speak, without a briefing on the bill . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Not this minister.

MR. CORBETT: I don't think this minister did that. I think he introduced this bill the same way a few other ministers over there did. You always enjoy your ability as a member, especially if it is your critic area, to be given a chance by the minister to be briefed on it, so you will understand it when it hits the floor. By not briefing, I don't think we should get

[Page 2466]

carried away, that they were trying to hoodwink anybody, that there was anything nefarious going on here. I think he just introduced the bill and so be it.

We could also debate the fact that people think there is an evil triad over there planning the financial overthrow of this province, if you will, by stripping the poor of what few rights they have and taking the lint out of their pockets after they have stolen the pennies off their eyes. I don't think they are operating like that. I think they are sane and rational people who care about this province. I think that is the point here. You have to care about the province. I don't think they are showing good judgement about the future direction of this province by not having faith in their fellow Nova Scotians and putting everything out there.

If they hoisted the bill, took it away for, let's say, six months and came back in in the spring sitting of the House and said, yes, here is where it is at, we are going to charge $1.00 per phone per month, now you can get into a debate. There is a real clear debate. We can talk in terms of the effect on people of low income, we can talk in real terms of putting a tax on a telephone that would probably never be used for 911. I would use by way of example, a call centre. It is an apparatus, and you know most of them aren't what we see as the typical phone. It is usually dialled straight through the computer. Then we learn, is a phone not a phone? I would think by hoisting, it would give us all that ability to revisit the bill and help determine what we are going to do.

[4:30 p.m.]

We are fortunate in this province, and I say that the 911 system as it operates in this province is very good. We have a good system in this province. By virtue of this bill, I think what they are saying in a backhanded way is that you are looking for a champagne system on a beer budget. Well, Mr. Speaker, I think that is not the fact here. I think whether you are in Nova Scotia or if you are in Newfoundland or wherever you are in this country, one of the key elements to this society we know as Canada is the fact of our access to health care, especially health care in the light of emergencies.

So I don't think that if the government tried to enter into that type of debate, saying that we need this money or this system will collapse, I don't think that is an argument that the people of this province would buy because I think what we are saying is these are becoming the necessities of life, that we are in this expanding age of communications where, in literal terms, one could actually be walking down Granville Street and, with the ability of technology today, be actually picked up by a satellite picture. So to say that now we have to start reassessing what we have here in just an audio form of communications, is a Cadillac and may be too expensive for us mere Nova Scotia is wrong. We have to go and talk more seriously about what and how we are going to deliver services in this province, rather than some hidden tax, hidden user fee.

[Page 2467]

People have said to me that one of the things this Tory Government is looking at in the way of taxation is things like raising the cost of marriage licenses from $100 to $400. Now that would be quite amazing. Is that what we are going to see from this government, trying to hold a baseline on (Interruption) That's right. My good friend from Hants East said the honeymoon is over, and I think (Interruption) Yes, I don't think this was a very pretty wedding night, as a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker. I don't think the negligee should have been removed. (Interruptions) Quick, change gears.

Mr. Speaker, this is what they are going to do; they are going to service charge us to death. They are going to tell the people in this province that no, no, we are not raising taxes. But we have seen the pop bottles, that is exactly where I was going - the pop bottles, you know, the deposit, the candy tax, the kiddie tax. So we have been down this road before. A few things that history should tell us about this is when we hear governments talk about getting their fiscal house in order is things that don't work is, roll back civil servants' salaries. It has been proved that that doesn't work, and service fees don't work. (Interruption)

Well, no, there was John Beast - oh no, John Savage, that was the name, Savage. So those - you know, that has been proven, Mr. Speaker. So why are we starting down that slippery slope again? That is what we as Nova Scotians have to ask ourselves and, more importantly, I think that is what this government has to ask themselves, of why go there, it did not work. It did not help Nova Scotia's debt situation in the mid-1990's and it is not going to help it as we face this millennium. God, I hate that word millennium.

What do we do, Mr. Speaker? I think it is fairly simple. I think we do radical things at times and we rethink about how we tax people in this province to show that there is a fairness in the tax system. As I stated before, $1.00 from someone who makes $120,000 is nothing, but if you are making $6,000, $7,000, $8,000 a year - which there are a fair amount in this province - we notice there are people this winter who will not even have access to Winter Works Programs because the government has decided that it was inefficient and, therefore, didn't want to support these workers who really need it in the province. So that is gone.

If we are going to attack the deficit by user fees, two things happen. We hit the low wage earners or the no-wage earners the hardest and we just stop using the service which then actually has a negative gain to that type of tax. So, Mr. Speaker, I think this government would be wise to heed the fact that user fees are not where it is at. User fees hurt the poor and the people of greater means get a way around it and what is $1.00 among friends?

AN HON. MEMBER: A slippery slope.

MR. CORBETT: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I have already said the slippery slope.

AN HON. MEMBER: You already said that, did you?

[Page 2468]

MR. CORBETT: Yes. So let's look at it. Is it a user fee. What is a user fee if it is not a tax? It is no different than, and I am trying to put it into a context, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that a man of your stature would understand and do you know what I think of? I think of toll highways because you know about that. You were out there. You moved the commerce of this province every day before you entered this House and you knew what it was all about. You were there bringing goods not only from one part of this province to the other, but indeed interprovincially and I would dare say internationally. I don't think that that is a misstatement.

Then if you think of it, what you are doing with toll highways, especially within this province, is you are punishing one end of the province against the other. So it is a user fee and it is a negative effect on the flow of commerce in this province and that is a real concern, because I know we are in this House and we are talking about such things as toll highways or where highways should be constructed. What is the purpose of highways but if not to move commerce? Highways, for instance, are not constructed, I don't believe anyway, to help one community. It is to benefit all of the province. It is the ability for the apple grower in the Annapolis Valley to get his apples, if Newfoundland is his market, to get it there as quickly as he can. It is not for the Town of Antigonish, if you will, to be an area for people to stop off in.

Connections with the Trans Canada Highway are just that. They are ways to connect and you know that is what our telecommunication systems are, the exact same. They are about the tar and asphalt and so on that make up the highway system, we have a highway system made up of wires and satellites that are connecting us. Now what we are doing, is we are asking them, the information highway, if you wish, Mr. Speaker, to put a toll on the information highway.

When I look across the floor, those men and women across the floor would say, heck, no, to a toll highway. So I am going to ask them to do the same with the information highway: heck, no. So, Mr. Speaker, we are going down that toll highway road with 911. Is that the way to go? I don't think so. I think what we are looking at here is the ability for this government to do what we are asking them to do in the amendment, and that is to hoist the bill.

Mr. Speaker, I remember growing up knowing a hoist was always the big wheel in the back of the pit that brought up the cars. That was always a good job. If you got a job operating the hoist, and that meant you operated the rake and the other lifts, that was a good job. Everyone wanted that job. You obviously had to be intelligent to do the job. You had to know pressures and gauges and so on. So what I am doing is the same as you used to see when the wheels turned the hoist in Number 12 - bright, women and men had to do that job - that is what I am asking the bright men and women across the way here, is to hoist this bill.

[Page 2469]

We are not telling them to take this bill and never let it see the light of day. We are asking them to take this bill and rethink it and bring it back if they wish, because I think there are good things in this bill, but come here with a clear message for Nova Scotians, show leadership. Show them what we are going to do. If it is $1.00 a phone or if it is 10 cents a call of whatever, put it in the bill. Let Nova Scotians see that. As Opposition members, if we are wrong, then we will wear it. But I think what you have to do is give people the option. You can't say that you are going to put a service charge, or whichever, and not tell people what it is. Do you run the risk of saying, I want to put $1.00 on it and send it off to the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission and then they come back and say it is only 50 cents? That is certainly within their right, they have done that for years with the phone companies and that falls, clearly, within their jurisdiction.

AN HON. MEMBER: There isn't even an upper limit.

MR. CORBETT: That is right, there is no limit. We could be talking $5.00 a call. We don't know. But let's put some facts in here. That is not too much to ask, Mr. Speaker. Let them put some facts in here so we can debate it and so Nova Scotians can see it. As I said, sometime earlier, it would be irresponsible for us to go out and start telling people of this province that this could happen; this is the scenario, here is another scenario and so on. Yet, we are left to that because this government will not be open and say exactly what they are going to do.

I remember outside this House the day this bill was introduced and the Premier was saying, well, you know, maybe we will put a tax on phones.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre permit an introduction?

MR. CORBETT: Of course, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for giving me this time. I would like to introduce to the House today a friend and my second son, Mark Hurlburt. (Applause)

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, how far are we along here?

AN HON. MEMBER: Check your notes.

[Page 2470]

[4:45 p.m.]

MR. CORBETT: Yes, check my many notes. So where are we, Mr. Speaker? We are at a point that we are left with making assumptions. It was interesting because one can assume from what the Premier said outside the House the other day when the bill was introduced, when reporters asked him about it, and he said, maybe we will tax phones. There are lots at the Chronicle-Herald, CBC and ATV. So was he making a statement then? Can we jump to that conclusion, that that is going to be it, a tax on phones, which would be wrong? It begs that other question of when is a phone a phone? Is a phone when you use a computer as a device to take people away from the kitchen table and do a survey with them? You are not using the phone as we traditionally see it. It is done completely through a keyboard. It is not done with your basic telephone, so is that taxable? Is the act of communicating via the telephone lines, is that it? So we don't know.

If they would just tell us what they envision this tax to be. They don't know what it is. That is the killer here, Mr. Speaker. I used the Premier as an example before because even their own Leader is not sure what they are going to do. It is a scorched earth policy that we will just do it all. Maybe what we will do is we will tax the phone, pay a service charge, plus we will put another service charge of multiple users of the telecommunications system. We will get them all. Is that what this government is going to do and then tell people, oh no, we are not going to raise taxes. So that makes you start to think of what these folks are all about. We are not going to raise taxes, we are going to have a service charge but we are not going to tell you what it is.

What are Nova Scotians supposed to say about that type of leadership? There is absolutely none there. So let's hoist this bill. Let's give Nova Scotians a time to see this bill for what it is. Let's get any regulatory approval that they need for changes, get that done, and let people see it there. We have quantitative numbers we can deal with. We have real situations in which we can use a template for, that Nova Scotians then know what is going on. Until that is done, this bill in this form, with its hidden tax, will be a burden to Nova Scotians. So let's hoist this bill. Certainly it will give a brief respite to Nova Scotians. It will be something like what the Premier wished for today, in newspaper articles, to be understood. If he would be understood, in his words, the kind and compassionate things that he and his government are doing, then maybe he would get a respite from, as he would like to put it, this negative publicity.

Unless he is willing to show leadership, he can do two things, I guess. One thing he can do is go out and say, here is the hidden tax. Here is exactly what we are going to do. He can do that. And then, to use his terms again, they would just get more of the negative publicity, or he can go to his minister and say, you know, let's respect Nova Scotians and we will hoist this bill. It is not rocket science here. We are going to help Nova Scotians, and we are going to tell them that if we are going to inflict an economic penalty on anybody in this province, we are not going to do it unless they have a full and clear chance to debate it. Call me naive,

[Page 2471]

but that seems fairly sensible. Why wouldn't the government do this? (Interruptions) My friend here says, call me anything but just call me, but I don't know what that would cost in this province anymore.

AN HON. MEMBER: 911.

MR. CORBETT: Yes, my number is 911. We need clarity to this bill. I think that is what hoisting is going to do. I would think that it would be a wise and prudent thing for this government to do that. It would show that they are hearing what Nova Scotians are saying. It would go a long way to help people decide, do I need my extra $4.00 that came out of my Old Age Pension cheque this month, can I afford to call 911 if I am feeling ill, with the flu season coming on.

These are very simple things. Sometimes this House makes decisions and I don't think we have in mind who we are affecting. I would hope that this government, before it initiates any kind of user fee which is by any other name a tax, that they would think of who would be impacted by this, who they need to protect in this province, and I think more importantly, do we want to move the province forward or shove it backwards.

I think for all Nova Scotians, we want this province to move forward. We don't need regressive taxes, whether they are a user fee or whatever name you want to put on it. They are not necessary, they only hurt the poor and disadvantaged, and as I said, those of incomes that can afford it will usually get around it.

Mr. Speaker, I will ask the minister once more to hoist this bill, give Nova Scotians the time it takes to see this bill, see its financial implications on the people of this province, and we could make a better decision. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I too would like to rise and speak on Bill No. 20, the Emergency "911" Act. I note that the Minister of Health is no longer in the Legislature to hear the debate. It becomes quite clear that either he is going to accept the logic of the Opposition's recommendation to hoist it for a period of six months until the budget comes in, and then we can really see what taxes are all about . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just caution the honourable member that it is not parliamentary to advise the House or anybody else whether members are present or absent.

MR. DOWNE: Okay. I know that the minister had been here for quite some time listening to the debate, and I know he is very interested in it, and he obviously had to step out for a moment but nevertheless he has been listening. I didn't mean it in a negative way.

[Page 2472]

I don't know, maybe he is going to the back room, the back room where the spin doctors should be in determining, is this the hill to die on for the Tory Party? Is this the issue? Is this the fundamental issue that is going to find a way to get the Department of Health to get itself back in check? I remember all too well in the election, $48 million and a couple of little snip-snips and health is going to be sustainable and predictable and accessible to all Nova Scotians forever and a day.

Maybe he realizes that this bill of taxation is really not the bill that will solve all the problems of the Department of Health. Maybe he is going back and contemplating and thinking about the fact that, yes, I should hoist this and wait just a few months so that all Nova Scotians can see what real taxation increases will mean to the Province of Nova Scotia, and then he can slide the 911 tax in under all the other pressures of tax increases that we will, undoubtedly, see.

I noted, with interest, Mr. Speaker, the Premier's comments in a newspaper today. The Premier, Dr. Hamm, made it clear that he feels misunderstood. He is saddened and heartbroken by the fact that he is misunderstood, a man who has had a lot bedside manner practice dealing with people and very sensitive issues, a man a lot of people have maybe understood before to be a reasonable individual. Now he feels he is misunderstood. I don't know. He says, he is not getting his message out. He is not getting his true message about what he is all about out to the general public. Well, quite frankly, I think the message is getting out, and he might not have understood what his message really is but the message is loud and clear.

So what does the good doctor do? The good doctor, a general practitioner, calls in the spin doctors, a doctor-to-doctor fraternity, maybe, I don't know, but nevertheless he brings in his spin doctors to try to find a way to divert the negative pressure and the negative press and the negative aspects of what this government is all about, and try to divert it to another area. So I have been trying to think: what have they been doing to try to divert the issue? The simple way of doing it is to clean their act up.

The first thing to do is to do the right thing as a government. Show a little sensitivity, move forward with the big agenda items, address the challenges that they face, build their province they way they like to see it in this so-called term of self-reliance, and just govern right and then the message will be clear. Instead, what I think they have tried to do is a number of very strategic tacks, and one is to have a number of fiction writers write editorials, their Tory friends to write articles about how great the Conservative Government is in the Province of Nova Scotia. I am sure they are having a hard job finding a lot of writers, but, nevertheless, maybe that is one way to get the message out about how important Dr. Hamm feels about changing the misunderstanding that Nova Scotians have with regard to a Progressive Conservative Government of just 100 days old.

[Page 2473]

Just 100 days old. It is the shortest honeymoon, I think, this province has seen in regard to a government. They are now reeling and spinning out of control, a government that did not necessarily have a real plan - although they had six years to develop one - is now really flying blind and realizing the effect that it is having on the people of the Province of Nova Scotia.

The next spin doctor approach to this thing, besides having a number of fictional writers spread the gospel according to the Progressive Conservative approach to good government, which may not go over all that well, will be to maybe try to divert attention, the witch hunts and diverting attention to things other than their inability to govern the Province of Nova Scotia, but try as they may the disastrous situations that have been happening in the Province of Nova Scotia will continually be at the forefront of Nova Scotians because of the good media of presenting objective journalism in the Province of Nova Scotia.

I read with interest the editorial journals and the editorials that are coming forward and I know we have someone who is familiar with what good editorials journals are all about, what good objective - not subjective - journalism is all about. I am sure that the good writers in the Province of Nova Scotia will, in fact, write the true story as to what is really going on in regard to the agenda of the Progressive Conservative Party.

This bill today is one that - let's not kid ourselves - no matter how you want to sweeten the pill that we are going to be taking here, no matter how you want to ice the cake, no matter how you want to try to mislead, the reality here is that Bill No. 20 is a tax; it is a cold, calculated, absolutely required - according to the minister - taxation on Nova Scotians.

[5:00 p.m.]

Why don't they just simply come forward and say, yes, we are going to tax 911; we don't like to have to do it but we are going to do it. We need the money and we are going to do it; this is a tax, period. Why don't they just simply say it as it is? Well, it could be because of the blue book and they said they don't want to increase taxes in the Province of Nova Scotia. So they are in a box. They are, like in the farm expression, between a rock and a hard spot. I think they are in a box and that box has nails on the top and the nails are going to be pounded in, one by one. It is a bit of a coffin they have themselves in here. On the one hand they say they don't want to increase taxes and on the other hand they say they are going to be a compassionate government, one with openness and caring. Then, on the other hand, they say they are going to charge for things but they are not taxes.

The policy of the government is, yes, to lower taxes in two or three years. We have had two different stories on that over the last number of months. They say they are going to lower taxes and what we are going to see between now and three years from now is their tremendous race to increase taxation on the backs of Nova Scotians.

[Page 2474]

We heard recently that they want to change policies within the HST. Maybe they are going to increase the HST to tax Nova Scotians. Then they go on and say that they are going to increase what they call user fees. Now don't kid yourself, the Minister of Health said, I am not going to do it, I just want to have the ability to go ahead and do it but I promise, I won't do it for maybe a month or two or three; it may be four or five months before I even consider that tax.

On the other hand, you have the Premier, who sits just a couple of chairs away, saying that if you use it, you have to pay for it. He is actually coming closer to explaining to Nova Scotians what the real agenda will be, the Progressive Conservative Government's agenda in regard to federal tax. It is going to be interesting and I will watch with interest, because we, the former government of this province, actually lowered personal taxes in the Province of Nova Scotia in the last couple of years, to the tune of $60 million in the pockets of Nova Scotians; $60 million that working Nova Scotians were able to keep so they could spend it on goods and services and provide for their families.

I am saddened to hear that now the Progressive Conservative Government, in fact, is looking very closely at not flowing through the federal tax reductions that the tremendous Liberal Government in Ottawa is doing and will continue to do. That government has put the country on the map in regard to being the best country in the world, according to the U.N., and secondly, probably has its house together. So the federal government is now going to start lowering personal income taxes and we hear recently that now the Progressive Conservative Government in the Province of Nova Scotia says that it will not pass through its provincial component. So, in effect, we will be increasing taxes to Nova Scotians again, for another couple of years.

I always thought it was the New Democrats who were going to increase taxes. Without question, I knew that taxes would rise with a New Democratic Government because, basically, that is what I understood their policy was. They were not worried about lowering taxes, they were worried about providing services and, whatever that cost will be, they will raise the tax. Lo and behold what do we get? We get a Progressive Conservative Government that most people thought at least would not increase taxes. One of the first things we see is an increase in taxation being brought into the Legislative Assembly.

AN HON. MEMBER: Shame, shame.

MR. DOWNE: As my colleague from Cape Breton is saying, shame. It is a shame and I note that the Leader of the New Democratic Party is shaking his head and waving his hands, saying shame, shame on the Progressive Conservative Party because he, too, I am sure, is amazed that their strategy is to increase taxation, to further burden the economic growth of the Province of Nova Scotia, a growth that is unprecedented, that we have not seen in decades, and I hope that they do not stymie that economic growth that we, the Liberal Government, worked so hard with the private sector to create an environment to foster

[Page 2475]

economic growth and that is why we have actually reduced the tax burden on Nova Scotians while we were in power.

The spin doctors are I am sure spinning around trying to figure out, well, now, the good doctor, you talked the good talk that got you elected. We ran a magnificent campaign and we won. Then they must have fired all the good people because they have been in disarray ever since. So the spin doctors are now saying, well, just a minute now before we talk about taxing 911, why don't we just try to rephrase this in another way. Why don't we try to kind of put a smoke and mirror approach to this so that people will not realize that this is almost a $1 million tax to all consumers who have phones in the Province of Nova Scotia.

I mean this is about less than three hours of the budget of the Department of Health, three hours of a 24 hour day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. So this is obviously an issue, a policy, a bill that they are going to die on the hill for. They are going to stand their ground and fight this one because this is the beginning of a tax revolution that we are going to have, the increased tax revolution in the Province of Nova Scotia. The taxes that will be imposed upon Nova Scotians over the next three or four years will be unprecedented in regard to the inability for them to flow through the federal tax reductions and the user fee component that will be taxed on Nova Scotians.

So they might meet their reduction in three years, or two years, or whatever, they will change that around maybe. I hope they don't. They will be able to do it because all they will do is say that all the things that we increased, we are just going to maybe lower some of them and maybe that will be the flow through that they are talking about. Anyway, these spin doctors are saying let's get us on our feet. Let's talk about the real Progressive Conservative Party. Let's lay out the real platform of the Progressive Conservative Party and the report card of the Progressive Conservative Party. Let's be straight up for the public of Nova Scotia what we are all about so that the Premier says he is misunderstood, so we can change that misunderstanding of the Progressive Conservative Party and let's say it as it is.

The first thing was in their 90 or 100 days of life, they have accomplished so many of those promises. Well, I think about one-third of them we had already done as a Liberal Government when we were in power just a few months ago. So, yes, we will give them the credit if they want on some of that stuff, but we will let Nova Scotians know that those are not all theirs. As my former Premier, the Leader of the Liberal Party says, no, we will not give them credit. I will take that back. We will not give them credit, but I will say . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: I agree with you that they are not all theirs.

MR. DOWNE: They are not all theirs. They are not all theirs. So the next thing, you see, well, let's check the record here. The first record was we took away a little over $2 million from charities in the Province of Nova Scotia. That is the real record and the spin doctors are saying, hooray, we have got something material here that we can stand on our

[Page 2476]

platform for and here, Dr. Hamm, here, Premier, is something that you cannot be misunderstood on - $2 million taken away from charities that was in a fund that was coming out of the casino profits, that had nothing to do with general revenues. So we can just claw that back. So we did not increase taxes. So the spin is, Premier, that you did not increase taxes to rob $2 million from charities in the Province of Nova Scotia. There, we fixed your problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: A penny for the poor.

MR. DOWNE: We fixed your problem and I am sure the good Premier thought for a minute and he said, well, that is right. That is not increasing taxes but he said it is robbing from the most vulnerable in society. Is that the image we want? He is going back to his spin doctors and specialists and saying, well, yes, you are absolutely right, we did rob from the poor, but that is not the story I want. I am still being misunderstood because I do not think that is really what I am all about. I really did not mean to rob from the poor in the Province of Nova Scotia and I don't want to be labelled as a tax grabber either.

So the spin doctors go back and they hover and they huddle in the backrooms and they think again as to what else can they do to get the story out about the Progressive Conservative Party. They think again and they come back and they say, well, here is another thing we have done. This is a program that was never introduced. It was only in a budget that the Liberals brought in and seeing that the budget was defeated, it wasn't a program, as such, so we can take that away. That means that we weren't increasing taxes, which is something we are trying to hide from, and number two, this wasn't a program anyway. So they never had it so they will never miss it. That, of course, is when they took away $0.75 million for accessibility in rural Nova Scotia for the disabled. Dr. Hamm was all excited. I am sure he is excited. He said, yes this is a way for us, as Progressive Conservatives, to get a real message out. We robbed money, we took money away from a program that we didn't develop and it wasn't really out there, but was only told it was going to be out there . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member has talked about the HST, federal tax reduction, spin doctors, dying on the hill, charities, robbing from the poor, accessibility, but very little about the amendment which is, ". . . Bill No. 20, the Emergency 911 Act, be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence.". That is the amendment. I always try to afford honourable members with quite a bit of leeway and latitude, but would the honourable member please try to focus on the amendment, as best he can.

MR. DOWNE: Yes, thank you very much. Good chairing. So, what he does . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Glad you are listening.

[Page 2477]

MR. DOWNE: Yes, and he did a great job and I appreciate that. So instead of going and robbing from disabled people in the province in rural Nova Scotia, the spin doctors say, we won't have to tax. We won't shut down an existing program, it is a program that didn't exist, so that is the answer. So the good doctor says, I am still misunderstood and I don't like that, so maybe what I should do is go back to the Minister of Health and say, you should hoist the bill for six months. How am I doing? Is that close? And so on and so on. The Minister of Health is still contemplating that very important initiative that both of the Opposition Parties support.

But getting back to feeling bad about the misunderstanding of exactly what we are about is the Sisters of Charity, another program that was promised and taken away. So I can understand why the Sisters of Charity, for Mount Saint Vincent, would be very upset when they were robbed of their opportunity of providing Level 2 and Level 3 care; the Winter Works Program, and the list goes on. The policy that was brought in, by the way, I think it was the Minister of Health who brought it in, and that was a Draconian bill to take away the rights of collective bargaining for the paramedics. Do you remember that very emotional debate in the House? So maybe the reason why the minister does not want to hoist the bill for six months, Mr. Speaker, is that he realizes he has already lost on the paramedic bill, and he already lost ground and credibility on trying to deal with paramedics, so he is scared to bring forward and accept hoisting this bill for six months to review?

Well, I think the reason he is concerned about that is because he doesn't want to change the image that the Progressive Conservative Party has in the Province of Nova Scotia. I say that maybe he should be going back to the spin doctors and saying, hey, this is a chance for us to show compassion. This is a chance for us to show that we are a different government, a better government, a more caring government. This is a chance that - if he were thinking really hard - he can hoist it for six months and when the Minister of Finance comes in with all the taxation measures that he undoubtedly will, he can hide this in and look like he is a good guy. So maybe the Minister of Health could take another serious look at hoisting Bill No. 20, the increased tax on Nova Scotians.

I understand that the Harris-Hamm approach to government is going to be a challenging one for this administration. It will be a challenging one for the Province of Nova Scotia. But the Harris-Hamm approach is alive and well and the Harris-Hamm approach will continue, by the editorials, in the paper to give these kind of comments: misunderstood or properly understood. The reality is, we are increasing taxes to the people of the Province of Nova Scotia and I think the good government of the day should come forward and be straightforward and say, absolutely, we are going to increase taxes on phone usage for 911 and we will do that, maybe not right now, but in five months hence. So, why not allow the bill to be hoisted for five months to really get proper consultation and input by Nova Scotians that are going to be affected by this bill?

[Page 2478]

[5:15 p.m.]

Generally, the overall bill is not bad. It is good. I think the minister has put a lot of thought into it; department staff have worked hard. Overall, there are some good measures there and I would encourage him to continue with that approach. But the bottom line is that we need to have the time to hoist this taxation burden on the public of Nova Scotia.

It is interesting, when the bill came out I am sure the good minister probably thought to himself, well, of all the things in here, this taxation burden will not be a really big issue. User pay, user fee - probably won't be a big deal. So, when he was scrummed, he was probably caught a little off guard, being the good minister that he is and the good man that he is, and said, well I am not going to use it, for now. Shortly after that the Premier gets scrummed and he said, well, tough. Use it, pay for it. That is the reality.

Well, the reality is, yes, they will bring forward a bill, but they do not listen to the good wisdom of this side of the House, both Parties' wisdom in regard to lifting this bill, to hoist it for some period of rational thought and deliberations to the people most affected. Now there are people who won't mind increased taxes, maybe, in the province of Nova Scotia on 911. But we are also talking about the people who maybe cannot afford that increased tax burden and for them, I believe, we should be allowing them an opportunity to say what they believe is important on this issue.

My time is running short and I don't want to spend a lot of time on this one here because I might stray from the amendment. But let it be a reality in this House that I shall never stray from the reality of what this debate is all about. The reality of what this debate is all about, Mr. Speaker, is increased taxation to Nova Scotians. Secondly, if it is Tory times, is it going to be tougher times, whether they are charities or not-for-profit organizations or disabled people or for those who cannot afford to pay for 911.

I do not know if that is the image that the colleagues, in the Legislative Assembly, I am looking across the floor at today and they are all good-meaning people, really want to have that stigma attached to them. I do not know if they want to be considered a body without compassion or sensitivity. I do not know if they want to be a body that has no heart and no feeling to the underprivileged in society.

So why not say to the Minister of Health during the election campaign for $48 million and a few snip-snips we will put the Department of Health back on track. He has already spent $208 million over the $1.562 billion budget that was originally slated for the Department of Health. So we are now at a little over $1.7 billion for less than a million people in the province of Nova Scotia. Could the good minister find less than $1 million to deal with 911 instead of taxing Nova Scotians once again?

[Page 2479]

Mr. Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity to have a small scope to work in here and I appreciate the interest of my colleagues opposite because they are not all reading newspapers and playing games, they are paying attention. One of the few times that I have stood in this House that I have seen so much attention and I thank goodness it is a Monday because obviously they are wide awake and they are anxious to stand on their feet. To stand up and be able to talk about why this government is misunderstood and how this government is going to change the image of this government from a heartless group to a group that is prepared to go back and think about Bill No. 20 . . .

MR. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I think I detected that we were being asked to get up and perhaps ask a question. I just want to confirm whether that is the case.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the honourable member for Lunenburg West wish to facilitate a question?

MR. DOWNE: Sure.

MR. MORSE: He is a good sport and, believe it or not, back somewhere in that speech he was praising the federal government for their prudence. I was just wondering, in view, (Interruptions) Well, you were praising, about 15 minutes ago, the fiscal management of the federal government. Since this is a tax bill, it would seem to be appropriate that we talk about finances.

Given that the federal government is showing about a $9.5 billion projected surplus this year, and given that they are absconding about $5 billion in EI funds, about $5 billion in gas taxes, and about $4 billion in health and social transfer that they have not yet reinstated to the provinces, would the honourable member perhaps like to comment on that in view of the fact that these monies have all been taken from the provincial governments?

MR. DOWNE: My learned colleague, the member for Kings North . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Kings South.

MR. DOWNE: Kings South, pardon me. He is an even more learned colleague than the member for Kings South. My learned colleague, the member for Kings North asked a very important question . . .

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Kings South.

MR. DOWNE: Kings South. I am going to write this down. (Interruptions) My learned colleague, the member for Kings South, it is interesting how he always likes to kind of portray the fact that they have an open caucus to be able to stand up and talk about the issue. Instead

[Page 2480]

he is kind of like the sniper on the team that is intellectually able to follow all conversations and then able to stand up and pose the shot to kill, the silver bullet as it were, to the speaker on this side of the House. I know that this is one of their plans; I am sure that Priorities and Planning have been thinking about this for quite some time, to appoint the hit person from the Progressive Conservative caucus backbenchers to be the one to shoot the silver bullet to take out the individual who is prepared to stand up and talk about a bill.

My learned colleague, the member for Kings South, has shot many a bullet in this House since he has been here, but nary a silver bullet have I sang.

AN HON. MEMBER: A few blanks.

MR. DOWNE: A few blanks is right, a few blanks. He tries, and I will say one thing for him, he is not ashamed to stand up whether he makes a lot of sense all the time or not on the question, he does have the stamina, the intestinal fortitude to stand up and talk about a bill. I would encourage my colleagues in the back who are opposed to increased taxes in the Province of Nova Scotia, unlike what the minister didn't realize maybe in the beginning that what he is doing is taxing Nova Scotians, to stand up and talk about why you support increased taxes in the Province of Nova Scotia. I don't think you do. Anyway, back to the question.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think the time for the answer to that question has expired. Does the honourable member wish to get back to the amendment?

MR. DOWNE: I was actually going to speak a little while. I am not afraid to say that it is time Ottawa puts money back into the Department of Health. I am not ashamed to stand up and say, Ottawa, you have done your thing, but now you have a social and economic responsibility for the provinces in this country for health, education and community services; for children who are disadvantaged, for children who are starving. When you start realizing that one in five children in this country are in poverty, it is wrong.

I am not afraid to say that because I am a Liberal; a Liberal has respect for each other to be honest about it. I will stand up on those issues. I am not afraid like the Tories who are even scared to stand up on a local bill. I am not afraid to stand up and say what is right and I will continue to do that because that is the Liberal way, not the Tory way . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would inform the honourable member that while his comments and points relative to Ottawa are accurate, they have absolutely nothing to do with this amendment. Would the honourable member please speak to the amendment or perhaps take his place.

[Page 2481]

MR. DOWNE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. You didn't rule the question out of order, so I felt it was incumbent upon me, where the member for Kings South was legitimately asking a very important question to him, or he would not have asked it, he would not have wasted the time of the House to ask a question if he didn't think it was absolutely stellar and important and to the essence of the debate, so I just merely reversed the respect back to the member for Kings South with a chance to answer his question. It wasn't ruled out of order.

I will say to you, Mr. Speaker, I will now leave the floor, but before I do I ask and challenge the Minister of Health, a good man, to reconsider. Most of the bill is a good bill but the one fundamental issue is that taxes are to be increased. I know that the member for Truro-Bible Hill doesn't believe in increased taxes and I know that he would do everything he can to reduce taxes to the public of Nova Scotia. Here is his chance, here is his opportunity, either by amending the bill or accepting the amendment that is before the House today to hoist this bill for a period of six months so that people have an opportunity to have a say on whether or not they want to increase taxes on using 911.

I thank the Speaker and the members of the House for their tremendous attention here today. I am sure they will take the comments for whence they come in regard to a sincere effort to give this government some good advice so the Premier of this province will no longer stand before the media and say he needs to make sure he is better understood because he is truly misunderstood. Well, Nova Scotians know he is understood, he needs to change his message. Thank you very much.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I rise with regard to the intervention made by the honourable member for Kings South. I am looking for your guidance, Mr. Speaker, or at least some clarification from the Minister of Health or some representative from the government. Clearly the Minister of Health has stated that this is not a tax measure but, unlike the Minister of Health, his colleague, the member for Kings South, has clearly stated in the House that it is a tax measure. We, in the Opposition, deserve the courtesy of knowing what direction the government is going with this so we can debate this issue accordingly. Otherwise, Mr. Speaker, we are being misguided by the government and I believe that, on behalf of the citizens of Nova Scotia, we deserve to know what is the intent of this particular piece of legislation. Is it for a tax measure or is it not?

MR. SPEAKER: I will take those comments under advisement and report back to the House at a later date. I would perhaps caution the Liberal caucus that not too many years ago, when a tire environmental fee was introduced to the Province of Nova Scotia, at the time the then-Minister of the Environment, Wayne Adams, insisted that it was an environmental fee, while Nova Scotians and the Progressive Conservative caucus stated that it was a tax.

[Page 2482]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I was around this Chamber when the matter that you are referring to was raised. My point is that I appreciate that you are in the Chair and it is not my position nor am I entitled to challenge you as the Speaker, however it would appear as if you are getting close to editorializing and not necessarily being an independent Speaker. I am not suggesting, of course, because it would be inappropriate for me to do that, and of course I would not want to trespass upon the rules. But I would just suggest that maybe matters like that are best decided through debate on the floor and members of this House, on all sides, can actually remember what the . . .

[5:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: I would ask the honourable member to please take his seat as that is not a point of order. As I indicated to the honourable member for Cape Breton West, I will take his comments under advisement and report back to the House.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the debate on Bill No. 20 be adjourned.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the amendment on Bill No. 20 be adjourned. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, it seems a while ago now that I left off from my Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I think I have about 55 minutes or so. I just wanted to take a couple of minutes to backtrack and to put on the record, some of the issues surrounding my riding that are of concern to the people in my riding. The riding, as I

[Page 2483]

have noted, Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, represents the communities of Woodside, also known as Imperoyal, Eastern Passage, Shearwater, Cole Harbour and the lovely area of Cow Bay, in which I reside. There are a lot of issues that have come up in the past one and one-half years since I was first elected, but I just wanted to highlight some of these that I think are of particular concern.

I want to start, Mr. Speaker, with the issue of shore erosion, something that isn't just a concern in my riding, but is a concern throughout Nova Scotia. The concern in my area, particularly in the area of the outer mouth of the harbour in Eastern Passage, beyond MacNabs Island, near Devils Island, there used to be a beach called Barres Beach. It was a beautiful one-quarter mile long beach into the ocean. It was a natural breakwater. It naturally broke the water as it came into the harbour, preventing serious physical damage as the water would gently come in after it hit the breakwater. Back in 1918, that beach was systematically mined for very good purposes - I will put on the record - first, to help build the hydrostone housing in the North End of Halifax in the riding of Halifax Needham, my colleague's riding, and more recently, in the 1950's, it was mined, I believe, for purposes of the Halterm terminal, to build the pier and also to mine for purposes of concrete for the airport in Enfield. Those are all very good purposes however you feel about the issue of mining sand.

The concern that my community has is that they are now in a situation, Mr. Speaker, where they no longer have that natural breakwater. Either by commission or omission, the government has allowed this to happen and the people of Eastern Passage who live near the shore and who access it through the Shore Road, which also leads to military facilities and a golf course, Hartlen Point, are very much worried about what will happen as another storm and another winter comes and how it will impact on them.

This is my point. That it is different than maybe other forms of shore erosion because it wouldn't have happened if nature had taken its course. It is only through government action or government inaction that this was allowed to happen. I would hope, over the next year, that I will have an opportunity to talk more with the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of the Environment in hoping to find a solution. In the end, we are only talking about protecting a shore; it is already partially protected with armour rock, but it needs more protection and I would hope that that might be something that can be resolved.

One of the other issues that we have heard about more recently in this House, that was a concern in my riding, is illegal dumping. This is something that goes on throughout, I think, what you might call, the ex-urban of HRM. The Eastern Shore, Sackville-Beaver Bank, Timberlea-Prospect, Halifax Atlantic and Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage are all areas that are affected by illegal dumping. Particularly one of the concerns, and I note this for the record, this is mainly commercial material that is now being dumped. I say it is commercial for two very good reasons. First of all, on the Dartmouth side of the harbour, you have to travel all the way to Timberlea to dump commercial material. As you recall, HRM decided to no longer collect commercial material, so you have to travel to Timberlea, which is quite a distance,

[Page 2484]

and, on top of that there are tipping fees. So between the two of them, a lot of our commercial and construction-based industries are more interested in saving the buck and finding a place to illegally dump than they are in attempting to take it to the proper place.

A very simple solution might be a transfer station - there used to be one in Dartmouth - and it may help to eliminate some of the illegal dumping. I would hope it may be something that might be considered by this government to help the HRM, just a simple transfer station to allow them to be able to get it to a closer facility, a more centralized facility, instead of having to travel all the way to Timberlea.

This is a problem that will continue until there is some action by government, whether it be in the form of enforcement - and let me state for the record, Mr. Speaker, that I have had dealings with the Department of the Environment on this issue and my experiences have been quite good. The local inspector, Mr. Glen Warner, has done a great job at reacting and being proactive and trying to ensure that the issue is being addressed and that it is being cleaned up wherever it is possible. I salute him and I know the minister is aware of my concerns on this issue.

I want to talk a bit about some of the issues around youth recreational services, which is always an issue in suburban areas, whether it be in Eastern Passage or in Cole Harbour, specifically, but in all my riding. There are concerns around the issue of what we can do to keep youth interested and active. Let's face it, when you are that age, between the ages of 13 and 20, there is a tendency to congregate, there is a tendency to be bored and - I remember an old saying when I used to work at the Boys and Girls Clubs, Mr. Speaker - at that age children are going to experiment. The question is, will it be positive or negative? I would hope, as a government and as MLAs, we would try to encourage positive experiences, positive experimentation that allows them to grow and build and move forward as adults.

What I am finding in more suburban communities is a lack of facilities, a lack of services to allow them to do that, whether it be in Cole Harbour, where you have a Boys and Girls Club that is striving to find a facility and has not had any luck, or whether it be in Eastern Passage where there are some recreational facilities but they are seen as maybe too institutionalized and there is a need to try to develop more casual or more youth-oriented facilities and youth-controlled. Let's face it, I think one of the key measures of what will get youth interested in certain services and facilities is that they have some say in how those facilities are being run. I am not saying that they should run it wholeheartedly but that they should be given an opportunity to have some say in how it is run. I think you will find that they will be much more eager to be involved.

More importantly, or just as importantly, in some areas in my riding it is quite high density population. In those circumstances, Mr. Speaker, I think it is a powder keg. You have communities that have houses and apartments on top of each other and it is only a matter of time; as these children are now four, five and six years old, in another 10 years you are going

[Page 2485]

to have a very high level of teenage population, youth, with very little space in which to release some energy, and very little facilities in which to vent steam. I think it is only a matter of time that if we don't address that, we are going to see the fruits of our lack of labour, so to speak.

Two other issues I want to highlight in my riding; one is CFB Shearwater, which, of course, has been in the news to some extent but I think is important to address. The first issue that must be resolved is the future of Shearwater. Shearwater is a naval air base, also there is a diving unit for the Navy. The Sea Kings that are placed at Shearwater are there to assist the frigates and the Navy. I think that is where the dilemma is with regard to its future. I think it is important that we recognize that Shearwater has a vital role to play in our naval defence, in our coastal defence and it must remain open. Any thought of moving Sea Kings to Greenwood or Gander or anywhere else would be wrong. They must be in close proximity to the naval base at Halifax and Shearwater is a natural location that is already there. I would hope that the federal government will be clear-minded enough, as they replace the Sea Kings, hopefully, with the replacement helicopters, that they will see that Shearwater has a key role to play and will remain open.

That having been said, there are pieces of Shearwater's land, whether it be the runways or the shoreline, that could be opened up for development. I think that as long as we ensure that development is consistent with the air base, it should remain. Mr. Speaker, Shearwater still employs over 1,000 people. The difference between Shearwater and other programs, whether it be Cornwallis or Summerside, is that those bases were closed fully, whereas Shearwater was just downsized. That is where the problem has come with how Shearwater would operate. When you have a military facility, obviously with the security issues, and at the same time you have to try to bring in private enterprise to sort of fill in some of the void lost by the downsizing. There are a lot of difficult questions but they must be answered, and they will be answered in time. But we must ensure that Shearwater stays open as a base. Any alternative with regard to private sector industry would not have the same economic impact or the long-term planning that might come with the jobs in the military.

Finally I just want to note the issue of native development, it is something I think as the native issues become front and centre in our province. There is a satellite reserve of Millbrook in the Cole Harbour area that is in my riding. It is a reserve that is attempting to build and - quite frankly, for the record, it is attempting on its own, through its own financing of the facility - to try to build a commercial venture. The problem all along, I believe, is that that venture has been developed without consultation or without information being provided to the residents who live in that area. There has been a lot of fear, a lot of anger on both sides as to what will happen with the development in Cole Harbour and, as I have said all along, sitting down and talking to each other can go a long way to resolve a lot of those fears and a lot of that anger. It has never happened and I would hope, as that commercial venture continues, there will be an opportunity to try to do that.

[Page 2486]

What would be a response to the Throne Speech without a few thank-yous with regard to the last election? I want to take an opportunity to recognize, for the record, some of the people who worked on my 1999 campaign. I want to start by saying I want to congratulate Colin MacEachern, who ran for the Liberals and Nadine Cooper Mont, who ran for the Progressive Conservatives. They ran good campaigns and I would just like to say that it was a pleasure dealing with them during the campaign and it was a pleasure to be a part of the democratic process with them.

Having said that, I would like to recognize some of the people who particularly were involved in my campaign. Bruce Logan, who was my campaign manager, did a wonderful job. Rachel Notley, a good friend of mine, who did my election day planning. Debbie Clayton; Dorothy Boudreau, who did the office work and the canvassing; and of particular note is Wilbert Williams, a volunteer who was my election planning committee chair, who from long before the election was called, got my association well organized for that election. To quickly note some of the volunteers who were involved in my election campaign: Melanie Harrison, Harry Sarson, Frank Bunyan, Bob MacNeil, Charlie MacAuley, Jeremy Gay, Debbie Williams, Patrick Williams, Erin Williams, Brian Crawford, Colleen Van den Heuval, Brenda Anderson, Mary Henneberry, Judy Bhandari, Harold Taylor, Mike Dunphy and Lorna Pace. There are many others that I have probably not noted and I want to send a thank you to all of them, but for the record I wanted to note those people.

There are also those in my family, obviously, that have had a lot to do with my success. Whether it be my father, Jeep Deveaux; my mother, Shirley, did a lot of work on the campaign; my brother, Bob, who was my official agent; my sister, Cheryl; my niece, Elysse, who also did a lot of work; my mother-in-law, Dr. Marylin McKay; and I must say I wouldn't be around today if it were not for my wife, Megan and my son, Ewan, who have given a lot in order to allow me to be here and represent the people of Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage and I want to thank them all.

I want to take the rest of my time, Mr. Speaker, to talk a bit about - as I noted when I first stood up on this issue two weeks ago - the issue of where this province is going to go. I was looking back at my old response to the Liberal Speech from the Throne back in 1998 and at that time I quite clearly stated that the problem with the Liberal Throne Speech was that it had no vision. It came nowhere close to explaining where they wanted this province to go. (Interruptions.)

The problem with this Tory Government is not a lack of vision, it is the wrong vision. What we have with regard to their Throne Speech is not a lack of some form of identification of where they are going to go, that whole Throne Speech, Mr. Speaker, is peppered with Orwellian language that can be - when the doublespeak is interpreted and decoded - one understands exactly where they are going. My problem with this Throne Speech is that I do not like where they are going and I do not think the people of Nova Scotia voted for a government to do what they claim they are doing. Whether it is words like self-reliance, or

[Page 2487]

empowerment or less government. These phrases are phrases we have heard in other provinces and in other countries.

[5:45 p.m.]

This province now seems to be sort of catching on to the tail-end of the neo-Liberal agenda that has been adopted in western Europe and in Canada and in the United States and even in Australia, and particularly New Zealand. I say the tail-end because I truly believe that we are on the brink of a change, the pendulum is beginning to swing back from the right. In typical Nova Scotia political fashion, it is our governments that are the last to adapt to something that is already going out of style.

What is it that we must do? Where must we go? How do we get from here to where this province can be a beacon of success for other small resource-based economies in the world? This isn't just an issue of Canada or of North America or of the first world, this is an issue for all the world. I believe that Nova Scotia can be a leader in how we deal with certain issues, and how we grow our economy, how we do it in a way that builds good jobs, sound jobs, well-paying, long-term jobs and at the same time moves us in a way that ensures that we are building healthy, well-educated and safe communities in Nova Scotia.

Those are very broad terms. If you ask anyone over across the way on the Tory benches, they would probably tell you that is what they want as well. The question is, how do you get from here to there, and who do you step on or not step on on the road, as the New Democratic Party likes to say, to the New Jerusalem.

First of all, let me just say a few things about why we need to change. I think 1867 is, what, 132 years ago, and in that time we have had a succession of Tory and Liberal Governments, and we have also had a succession of spiralling down of Nova Scotia from where we were in the mid-1800's as an industrial power to where we are now as a peripheral economic power in Canada. That may change, it may change just as a matter of luck, as we begin to bring on our petroleum resources. But I would suggest to you that having resources alone is not going to get you, it is how you take those resources and move them.

Let's face it, Canada's problem all those years has been that we have used our resources in a primary manner, shipped them to the United States or England prior to that, then have them brought back as by-products and value-added products while we end up paying extra money for it. We have used our resources to increase our wealth, but now we must use those resources even further to maintain our wealthy situation and our standard of living in this country.

That is what I think the Liberals and Tories have failed to do in this country and in Nova Scotia. They have failed to bring forward any ideas of how we go from taking those resources as a primary sort of hewers of wood and drawers of water, I think is the old saying,

[Page 2488]

and changing that over to using that water and that wood and other resources to ensure that we as an urban society, because that is predominantly what we are in Canada and even in Nova Scotia, that we use those resources to maintain our standard of living in those situations. It is not a problem that only Canada has, you see Sweden going through it, you see countries like Norway, even Russia to a much greater extent, structural changes occurring around the world, but the question is what are we going to do in order to address that?

I think the other factor that is playing out in all this is the fact that we have demographic changes occurring in Nova Scotia and in Canada. In the past 30 years, we have had a generation that has dominated us economically and culturally, and that generation is of course the baby boomers, born between 1945 and 1965. What will be happening, I think, in the next four or five years, is that a new generation, unfortunately not my own, but the children of the baby boomers will begin to come on line as adults. I think the oldest ones now, born in 1983, would be 16 years old.

So in about four or five years, we will see them leaving university, we will see them beginning to enter - that is going to result, I believe, in a lot of social, economic and cultural upheaval in this country, in this province, in this city. I think it is something that a lot of people, much like in 1964, wouldn't have predicted, but in 1967 and 1968, it was very visible as to what was happening. I think we have to be prepared for that as well.

I have laid out some of the groundwork as to what some of the problems are, and where we are going to be going. I would like to take a few minutes to talk a bit about why I think left-wing politics has not taken root in North America the way it may have in other places.

It is funny because I sit here and quote The Economist magazine, which is something of a bible of the neo-Liberal movement, but it is something that I think is important to quote because going back prior to 1929, we lived in a liberal economy. We lived in an economy based on laissez-faire government, where they would allow the private sector to do as it wished, with very little regulation, in which the Adam Smith invisible hand would drive our economy and allow for production to occur, albeit with an imbalance there between rich and poor. Mr. Speaker, it worked, at least that is how many suspected.

Then we had, in 1929, a market crash which led, through government and private sector reaction, to a major depression. That is when we began to see what many called the mixed economy, Mr. Speaker; an economy also known as Keynesian economy, one in which the government would take a partial role in attempting to spend money in order to work our way out of a depression or a recession. It worked well in the 1930's. It recognized that government was one of three players in an economy and it had a major role to play in spending in order to control our economy. When times were bad, governments would go into deficit situations, but they would spend in order to keep jobs going, to create jobs and to put

[Page 2489]

ourselves in a position where we then could use that money to continue demand and, therefore, work our way out of a recession or depression.

On the flip side, and this is key to Keynesian economics, what we have is, when times are good, government is supposed to pull back. It is supposed to spend less because as times are good in the other two sectors, whether it be consumer or private sector, or spending, there is no need for the government to spend as much because, in those circumstances, the other two sectors will create the demand. Government, in those circumstances, almost has to be the water hose on the fire. It must try to control the amount of demand so it doesn't overheat and, therefore, lead to another bust from a boom.

Getting back to The Economist, this is what they noted. They did a recent review of the 20th Century and talked about it on an economic scale. You know what? The Economist, which some of you may be aware, which recognizes itself as a very right-wing magazine, recognized that Keynesian economics is not only something that they think is good, but is necessary in a modern-day economy. That is an astounding thing, Mr. Speaker, because what it is doing, is it is recognizing that what we have is a need for a mixed economy in a modern-day western world. No longer does the right even believe that it can do it alone, that the private sector can do everything. But it believes that there is a need for the government to play a crucial role in ensuring both recessions are dealt with and boom times are controlled.

I think it is also important to note, Mr. Speaker, that one of the problems - and this is why Keynesian economics has failed - is western governments have used it in boom times to keep spending, where maybe they should be drawing back. Maybe they should be recognizing the limits of government at times and the limited specific areas in which government can spend. It has attempted to move into other areas; whether it be in unsuccessful Crown Corporations or corporate hand-outs, government has continued to spend when it should actually be withdrawing from the economy at times.

The other thing that I think has failed with regard to left-wing governments or left-wing politics, is that in Canada and in the rest of the world there has been a reflection of rights, an increase in the belief of individualism and that people have rights - whether it be a right to vote, a right to expression, a right to religion - but there hasn't been a recognition of a corresponding responsibility, Mr. Speaker, a belief that where you have a right, you must also act responsibly. Democracy is not only based on rights, it is based on the fact that we are responsible for each other and must continue to be diligent and vigilant in a democracy to ensure that those rights are protected and that a democracy continues to move forward.

It also deals with the issue of risk and security. It is that fine line within a mixed economy that we must promote risk. That is what creates our private sector issues and promotes demand and promotes entrepreneurialism while, at the same time, recognizing that risk left unabated results in no security, whether it be economic security or social security. We

[Page 2490]

must balance those two as we move forward. That is where, in many cases, the left has failed and where we must now begin in the millennium to try to move forward.

Let me talk a little bit about that, Mr. Speaker, what we have with regard to where we must go. As I noted, no right without a responsibility, no freedom without a duty, and let me talk a little bit about those two. I think one of the things that must happen in this province is a democratization. We have elections every four years, or every three years or every five years, but between them there is very little, particularly as we see now in a majority situation that forces the government to have to change its mind; whether it be an adoption Act, or an increase in taxes, or a reduction in taxes, they believe because they have won one election they continue to hold the beliefs of the people of this province and continue to move forward. I would suggest that there are ways of democratizing - and I will talk about that in a bit - that can result in showing that we are able to continue to hear the voices of people while not threatening the stability that comes with a parliamentary majority system.

Part of that includes, I think, recognition, Mr. Speaker, that individuals have a key role to play and a diligence against both government and the private sector and that is key. As I said, there were three players within our social and economic structures: the individual; the government, which is nothing more than a collective of the individuals; and the private sector. We must ensure that individuals have the powers and the rights in order to protect themselves and protect society against government's intervention where it is not called for and the private sector's; it is a balance and it is a check and balance between the three and that is what we must be promoting.

I would suggest in our society we have recognized the rights of corporations; we have recognized the rights of government; and we have only recognized the rights of individuals in a limited manner. Until they are given full balance of power to effect change, individuals will not be able to protect themselves against a government or a private sector that wants it expanded beyond its true natural state.

I think the other aspect is we have to recognize, and citizens must be committed to democracy. That is not just a matter of voting once every four years or coming to the Law Amendments Committee when they are really peeved off at a certain bill, but it is recognizing that individuals in our society have a role to play - and again I will give some examples of that in a minute - in really trying to make democracy work and to make government work. They have opinions. We should not just look at the op-ed page for those opinions. we must go out and actively pursue the opinions of the people. I don't mean polling, but I mean putting the tools in the hands of the people to truly speak their minds and be heard.

That voice is not only a matter of a right, but it is a duty. There may be times in which we are not so impressed with an issue, or care so much, but as citizens of a democracy I think we have a duty to come forward on behalf of others and speak up. I am going to paraphrase, and I apologize for that, the classic saying, or poem, about Nazi Germany where the person

[Page 2491]

says they came for the gypsies and I said nothing; they came for the Jews and I said nothing; they came for the Catholics and I said nothing; they came for the homosexuals and I said nothing; they came for me and there was no one left to speak. I apologize for paraphrasing that, but that is the key point, we have to all speak for each other even if we feel it is not directly affecting us.

I think the other part of this is with regard to rights and responsibilities, Mr. Speaker. We usually think of rights along the lines of right to vote, you know, under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, all those rights that are enunciated in a democracy, but I think the rights are more palatable than that, more day-to-day, and the responsibilities that come with them also have to be reflected. Again, we must recognize the balance in that between a right and a responsibility.

So what does this mean in the end? I want to give some clear examples of what I am talking about with regard to this, Mr. Speaker. With regard to health care, as I mentioned there are three spheres of responsibility in a society, I believe, and that is how we are best able to balance and check each other, but one of those responsibilities of government as a collective is to provide basic health care services. A society cannot function if the people are not healthy. Again, I don't think anyone in this room would disagree with that, but what do we really mean by that? Do we mean that that should be the government regulating and the private sector operating? Do we mean that the government should fund and the private sector collect the money, make a profit and provide the service? Do we mean that everything should be fully operated by the government?

[6:00 p.m.]

I think there are a couple of clear points that need to be made and I think this is it, that government must provide universal health care. That means, one-tiered health care. That means no user fees, no suture fees, that no one is to make a profit from the health care system. I think that is what draws the line between some of us in this House. There is no room for making profit, no room for the private sector in our health care system. Some would argue that that is the problem with our health care system.

I think it is clear that with regard to that issue, people have a right - again, going back to rights and responsibilities - to free health care. They have a right to access to health care, to protect their health in a reactive manner. But, Mr. Speaker, they also have a duty and a responsibility to keep themselves as healthy as possible. Now that is a very difficult one, as many of us know, but the fact is, that is something that must be taught to people from day one. Again, redefining our rights with responsibilities.

I would hope that everyone in this House would recognize that allowing the private sector to come in to our health care system will only cause havoc and destruction to what we stand for. What has made us different than most other societies, what has made us recognized

[Page 2492]

by the UN as the number one country in the world for the past five years or six years, or whatever the number may be, Mr. Speaker, is that we do have a health care system that is affordable, cost-effective and is universal, and that has allowed us to continue to move forward as a relatively healthy society in a way that the United States, England or any other country can't do. It is the role of government, on behalf of the people as a collective, to take its money and to spend it on something that helps protect those people, and that is the health care system.

With regard to education, Mr. Speaker, that is another key issue. I think there are a couple of key areas that must be looked at. Again, this is something within the government's realm. The private sector has no role to play with regard to our education system. We must eliminate profit, we must eliminate profit gouging from our education system and there are a lot of ways in which it has sort of insidiously crept in over the years. That must be stopped.

I think the other thing we must recognize, Mr. Speaker, is that 30 years ago or 40 years ago, high school education got you somewhere. It doesn't anymore. Do you know what the main difference is? Forty years ago, that high school education was predominantly free, where now, your first post-secondary degree or diploma costs you a bundle, anywhere from $4,000 or $5,000 a year for a two year community college program up to $20,000 or $30,000 for a post-secondary degree. I think it is time that as a society we recognize that that first degree or diploma must be free to the people of Nova Scotia, as well. Until we recognize that the government has a duty to provide that to the people of our province, we are only going to continue to fall behind and continue to develop a bigger gap between rich and poor.

On the other side, what I have learned as the Community Services Critic, is that having children at the age of 5 years dropped off at the door on the first day of school in Grade Primary in many cases is too late. There is a lot of child development education that goes on between the ages of zero, the day of birth, to the age of five, when they enter school. This is of personal interest to me since I have a 15 month old son. There is a tendency in our society to believe that in those ages that is the parents' domain, that society has no role to play, but I beg to differ.

Again, government as a collective, on behalf of the people, has a big role to play because it must ensure that those children are going to be productive, healthy, educated people in our society. Many of the problems that affect those children as they get into high school or beyond, through their young years or even older, are started in those first five years. Government must play an active role with the individuals and with families in order to try to help nurture education within those children. What do I mean? Well, to start with, we have a four-plus program in some parts of this city. Why not expand that? Why don't we bring in some form of child care program?

[Page 2493]

Let's talk about full service schools like they have at St. Patrick's Alexandra School. These aren't way-out ideas. These are ones that are being done now. Let's talk about parents starting to go see the public health nurse at the school so that they feel comfortable with the school, feel comfortable with who is there, and there is an ability to observe and help them. Nurture, educate, build good citizens and build good children so that at age five, when they fully enter into a full-time school program, they are entering into a program where they have already been given a head start. We will all be better off in the end for that, Mr. Speaker.

These are rights that we should be providing whether it be early childhood access to education or post-secondary education but, Mr. Speaker, the key is the responsibility that goes with it. I would suggest to you that if a society is investing in an individual, we should be expecting something back. Now again, that can be through democratic participation.

I will say this for the record, one thing that Mike Harris has done is he has recognized the right - the duty - to have to provide a certain amount of volunteer hours for youth. Now hopefully, that might help entrench the belief that volunteerism can and will flourish later on. That is another way we can ensure that people are getting something back for the education they have received and has been invested in by the government.

I would suggest to you, the more esoteric way, that if you have been given an education, you should use it to become a critical thinker, to analyse, to critique, to question, when you feel it needs to be questioned. That is a much more nebulous concept but I think it is important that we educate our children to believe that, we will all be better off as a society later on. That is something that won't flourish for 10, 20 or 30 years, but in the end, Mr. Speaker, it will pay off.

I want to talk a bit about legislative reform within this House, again, part of the democratic process. I think there are ways that it can help make this province better. Let's talk about a greater role for legislative committees. I sit on a Community Services Committee that hasn't met yet. It is probably going to meet on Thursday and that will probably be it for a while. Well, Mr. Speaker, these are great committees that can be used to help go around this province and listen to what people really have to say.

Why are we so afraid of loosening them up so that we maybe have an equal number of Opposition and government, or, maybe since we have a three Party system here, three, three and three. The committees only make recommendations. Why don't we use them in a way that ensures a bipartisan or tripartisan effect? A classic example is with regard to the budget. Someone said to me, after that last budget you guys criticized it; why didn't you talk about what you could do to fix it. I said, well do you know why? Because we weren't consulted.

They stood up, the Minister of Finance stood up and gave his budget and told us what was happening and we had to pore over it, a very adversarial system. What if we had a committee like the Public Accounts Committee that was made up of equal numbers, that

[Page 2494]

would go around this province, consult and report back with regard to what exactly they think needs to be done in the budget? The government does not have to accept it but they are going to have to face political questioning and media scrutiny, if they go against something that is a bipartisan acceptance of what should be done. That is using the committees effectively, in a manner that has not been done in the past. It is consultative and it is working together. I think that is what people want to see in their politicians.

We sit around this House and talk about how long the days are; they can be. Do you know what? As Legislatures go, we don't sit very long, compared to most, Mr. Speaker. Why don't we have more time set aside at the end, when the government finishes its agenda, of a week or two in which we debate Private Members' Bills? Why don't we have a situation where we allow more free votes on this? Why don't we have circumstances where we recognize that those Private Members' Bills can make a difference and they do have legitimacy, not toss them off as partisan. Do you know what? If the governments were willing to accept them, you would probably find that the Opposition would only promote those that they felt were truly good legislation.

They are used as political tools now. I don't think that is right. They should be used as a true means of fixing problems that we recognize on this side of the House, or members of the backbenches. They do not have to be ones that deal with money but can fix real problems. Again, a few weeks tacked onto the end of a session could go a long way to allowing people to believe we are actually doing something in here.

Now, also we can talk about greater public input into legislation; I don't just mean the Law Amendments Committee. Let me give you an example; we have in this province a lot of problems with planning. I see it in the suburban area where I represent and live. People are very concerned about setting up rules as to what houses and what types of houses - R-1, R-2, C-1, C-2 - and where they can go, Mr. Speaker. Then they set up this whole plan and they pass it and then with a sweep of a pen or a vote of a council that can be removed by development agreement. I have seen it happen in Eastern Passage, something that I have always thought was wrong.

We have environmental committees, when we do have environmental assessments, that are set up to decide whether a gypsum mine or a coal mine will go in a certain place. Mr. Speaker, why don't we allow these types of committees to be operated more fully by the people of this province. Let's open them up, let's have planning councils for various communities where planning decisions are made in the community. Let's have environmental assessment boards where we have it dominated by people within the community, where they can haggle and work out what they feel is a compromise necessary with regard to both the private sector and the individual needs within the community.

[Page 2495]

Education is another one. We have advisory councils and I applaud those, but I think in many cases there could be the ability to have more control of both teachers and parents at the local level, not one over the other but again together working out compromises. With regard to government decision making, I think there are a couple of points I want to make again about rights and responsibilities.

First of all, we should be encouraging public input, in many cases we don't. The Adoption Act is a good example that is before us now. A bill in which the government has put forward, Bill No. 17, with little consultation, then changes it abruptly, again, with little consultation, and is trying to ram it through without any consultation.

More public input into the legislative process, not just law amendments but at the beginning. It can be costly, but in the end we would have a lot less of - and I have seen this through my own experiences, where you have the stakeholders involved from the beginning - a media firestorm around an issue because there is no one out there the media can latch onto who is going to be criticizing, or they are a lot less likely to find someone.

Let's talk about lobbyist registration. People should know who is coming to the government and asking them to help out. Let's talk about the fact that we should be recognizing the limits of government. Government in a mixed economy, in a Keynesian economy, has a key role to play in effecting change, whether it be the group on behalf of the people who legislate or whether it be the economic power they wield through taxation, they have a lot of power. We must recognize there are limits and it should be focused on those areas that government does best, whether it be education or community services or health care. Only in those areas and a few others should we be focusing. Let's leave the private sector to do what it does best, and let's leave the individuals to do what they do best.

Let's talk a bit about electoral reform. Something I think is dearly overdue in this province. We have seen trust funds and God knows where the money has been collected. We have seen numbered corporations and God knows where that money is coming from as well. But do you know where this all comes from? We have a system in which all of us, as candidates, must go out and seek donations, take that money, spend it on telephone bills and rent and pamphlets and signs and advertisements, and then we file a form and get that money back from the government. It is a triangle or a circle, where I must collect the money, spend it, the government pays me back for what I spent.

Why don't we eliminate the middleman, why do we need to have political donations at all? Let's set a limit; $2.00, $3.00 a voter. That is plenty of money, and then as candidates, we could go out and either pay the bills through a line of credit or have the bills directed to government, and the government would just pay them. It wouldn't cost any more. The government is already funding us through their rebates.

[Page 2496]

What it would do is, first, politically, it would eliminate the belief in people's minds that we are beholden to our political donations, which I don't think is necessary correct, but it would also ensure a much cleaner system where those kinds of perceptions wouldn't be allowed. It would, in fact, result in a system that doesn't cost any more, but would allow for a better political debate. It is something it is high time that we decided on.

I would suggest to you that there are other issues that need to be looked at, but I think it is important to recognize that with regard to the economy, again, government has a key role to play. There are those in this House that probably believe the government should play no role, laissez-faire, or a very little role. There are those in this House that believe the government should play a very strong role. I believe we must recognize the balance in our economy that is created in a mixed economy that the Keynesian economics has recognized. That is that government has an ability, collectively through its tax collection, to spend money. That money helps create jobs, it helps provide essential services, and it helps as one of three parties, of the private sector and the consumer, to fuel our economy, to create demand.

It has been very successful for us in the western world since 1929-30. We shouldn't forget that. But at the same time, we must recognize that the private sector must stand on its own two feet as well, that it must pay its fair share of taxes, like any individual, that it must spend its money wisely, reinvest, and recognize that profit at any cost is not necessarily the answer to all our problems.

[6:15 p.m.]

A private sector's main mandate is to make money, yes, but it must recognize it can only make money in a way that does not affect the health and safety of workers or the public through environmental issues, and it must recognize that where it provides services like day care, or proper health care, or proper education, that in itself is helping to reduce the burden on government and what it must invest in, and that must be applauded and recognized by government.

The third party, Mr. Speaker, individuals and the consumer, they carry a lot of weight, though never in a way that is ever very easy to promote except through very broad strokes, but we must recognize that consumers have rights and have responsibilities in our economy and, again, that that must be promoted, but they also must pay their fair share of taxes because that in itself makes us a better society, paying those taxes and getting services back from government.

I don't think there is anyone in this province who says they don't like to pay taxes, what they say is they don't like to pay as much as they are paying because they are not getting anything for them. If we ensure they have good education, if we ensure they have good health care, universal access to both, free education that provides them with a decent level of

[Page 2497]

training that allows them to go out into that world and make money and in return pay that money back and in turn have that money reinvested, then we all win.

That is building and adding to our economy, Mr. Speaker, and that is what we must do. In the end what we have is a situation where the government's role is to create a fair playing field. The government must recognize that it has a job to regulate the economy, to invest where it is best at investing and to stay the heck out of the places where it does not do well and allow the other two, individuals and the private sector, to take part in those areas. Government has a role to play in investing in R and D, in corporations and the many situations where individuals are more short-sighted, more profit oriented for corporations, we see in Japan where they have been able to use R and D as a way of continuing to build an economy, and to promote innovation. Innovation does not only come from R and D, but it comes, again, from investing in education and that is something government can do as well.

Last but not least, Mr. Speaker, the government can use its tax system to promote good corporate behaviour, whether that be through tax credits that allow corporations to continue to provide good facilities and services to individuals, whether it be health care, education, day care, or whether it be tax credits, or tax penalties on the other side that help punish particular practices that are negative to the economy, to the environment, or to people's health and safety. Government has the power to collectively do that on behalf of people. It must begin to recognize its limits but, again, to recognize its full strength and to use those two leverages of the economy and of society, and of civilization and of culture to begin to promote a full role for government, as an equal party with individuals and corporations, in building a better Nova Scotia and building a better Canada.

That is something we have not done in this province for 132 years and if we do not start doing it soon, Mr. Speaker, I am afraid to think where we are going to go. Hope is not lost; there is still a good chance to do this, but I would hope that if anyone is listening to what I am saying they will take time to think about exactly where we are going to go and how we are going to get there. I have promoted one idea, and I will be more than glad to hear from others who may have an alternative view, but part of this House I think and our role in it is to try and promote debate and discussion as to how, not only that we deal with the issues of the day, or the bills of the day, but how in the long term we make this province better.

I hope over the next four years, as we sit and have a Tory Government, we will all have an opportunity to discuss this further and work towards a better economy, a better society, a healthier and better-educated society so that we are all better off after four years. I don't think this Speech from the Throne does that. I will not vote for it but, Mr. Speaker, I do believe that hopefully over the next few years we will have an opportunity to see exactly where this Tory Government is going and whether or not they will be able to recognize a real vision, a vision that I can accept for where Nova Scotia is going to go. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 2498]

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly an honour, a pleasure and a privilege for me to rise in the House this evening to have the distinct opportunity to reply to the Speech from the Throne. I would like to begin by expressing my congratulations to the Honourable Murray Scott on his appointment as the Speaker of this Assembly. The Speaker has shown great judgement so far and truly it is an indication, at least for now, that the Speaker is fair and reasonable, as well as an honourable gentleman. His name will go down in history and I want to express both my congratulations and best wishes for the future. I am sure his constituents are very proud of his many abilities.

I would also like to congratulate the newly elected members of this House, on all sides, and, yes, Mr. Speaker, even those from the Third Party to the left. I want to express, on behalf of the good people of Cape Breton The Lakes, good wishes for every member of this House for the future. We must not forget that all of our goals are for the people of this province and, given the circumstances, I think it is obvious that we all need good luck for the future.

Congratulations are also in order for Premier Hamm and his newly formed Cabinet. Although I firmly believe Nova Scotians made the wrong choice on July 27th, I do accept, Mr. Speaker, that democracy has spoken. I sincerely want to wish Premier Hamm and his Cabinet the best of luck in the days ahead. Nova Scotia does require a clear direction, and hopefully the best interests of all Nova Scotians will prevail.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the hard, dedicated work of many volunteers who worked so hard day and night, I think I would even go so far as to say 26 hours a day, to help me achieve my goal in representing the people of Cape Breton The Lakes in this House. Their efforts are greatly appreciated and I want to express my gratitude to these ordinary Nova Scotians and I will be forever grateful and I intend to work very hard and, hopefully, not let them down. There are far too many of these volunteers for me to name and I guess, for fear of missing one, I won't get into names, but the executive of Cape Breton The Lakes, of course, works very hard in my constituency and I want to express my gratitude to those individuals in particular.

I also would like to say thank you to my wonderful wife Robin and my four children, Tammy, Corey, Carley and Brandy. My family has, throughout my political career, provided much encouragement and inspiration to me, personally, and I, like all members of this House, cherish my family. I know all members value their families very highly, as well as all Nova Scotians, and I want to say thank you to them.

I also want to thank my former municipal colleagues, whom I have learned to respect a great deal. CBRM Council clearly indicated their confidence in me and my abilities by electing me on two occasions, Mr. Speaker, as their Deputy Mayor. The Mayor of the

[Page 2499]

CBRM, David Muise, who has been a member of this Assembly, has always been a good friend to me and provided much direction and good advice. He has shown much confidence in my abilities, both in my role as the Councillor for District 20 in the CBRM, and as Deputy Mayor, and I want to say thank you to him, as well as all members of the Council. I have a great respect for many of the council members who are working hard on behalf of the residents of the CBRM area, and through very difficult times I may add, I want to express my gratitude to them, in particular, for the encouragement they have provided me.

I also want to express my gratitude to the management team at the CBRM. The CAO, Gerry Ryan, has many proven abilities, Mr. Speaker, and has put a management team in place that is certainly second to none throughout this wonderful province. Management, combined with staff, have many proven abilities and have always shown great professionalism in delivering the many services they provide to the residents of the CBRM, enhancing community life and, as I indicated before, through very trying times.

I want to wish them well in the future, Mr. Speaker, and of course, as they are probably well aware, I will be seeking advice from time to time from the many friends I have there.

I would just like to say a few words about Cape Breton The Lakes, if I may, Mr. Speaker. After all, as far as I am concerned, personally, Cape Breton The Lakes is the most beautiful place in the world. I know we all feel that way about our communities. The people I represent are tough, determined, proud and hard-working. They believe very strongly in Cape Breton and in Nova Scotia in particular. Talent can be found on every street and in every corner of my constituency and I am very fortunate for that and, if I may, I will touch on this a little later.

Cape Breton The Lakes, like many other constituencies, has both rural and urban areas. Our very name is taken from the famous Bras d'Or Lakes, an international masterpiece. The Bras d'Or Lakes, of course, is an inland sea, in fact, one of the largest salt water inland seas in the world. Cape Breton The Lakes is a constituency of many diverse communities. I will name just a few, Mr. Speaker. Eskasoni is the largest Aboriginal community in Atlantic Canada and its population continues to grow. This community is situated on the shores of the Bras d'Or Lakes and is very proud of its strong Mi'kmaq culture. This is evident by their language, their music, their storytelling and, of course, their many customs. Most are fluent in both their mother language, as well as English. Just recently the Mi'kmaq Language Centre opened in Eskasoni and in this centre the Mi'kmaq language will be preserved through research and language development.

Cape Breton The Lakes also has a vibrant Scottish Gaelic culture. Communities like Grand Narrows, Christmas Island, Boisdale and Barrachois are rich in Scottish tradition. Songs, storytelling, piping and fiddling are all alive and well. Ceilidhs are held on a regular basis throughout the community and are very popular and well attended. We are proud of this rich history.

[Page 2500]

Boularderie Island, of course, is another unique part of my constituency. It is unique, Mr. Speaker, because I live on it - that is one of the reasons - of course, with my family. It is completely surrounded by the Bras d'Or Lakes and it represents a strong farming community. In fact, Mr. Speaker, it is home to the largest mixed vegetable farm operation east of Montreal. We have some of the largest strawberry farms in the province and we are very proud of the commitment that our farmers make to our community. Many of our farmers, of course, came from their homeland in Holland. They truly are a very important part of our everyday life in our community and they contribute a great deal and we are very grateful for that.

[6:30 p.m.]

Of course, Mr. Speaker, many of my constituents in Cape Breton The Lakes are seniors. Many of the seniors who reside in the areas of Bras d'Or, Alder Point, Point Aconi, Mill Creek, Georges River and Groves Point have expressed concern for the lack of any kind of senior citizens' apartments or residences in the area of my constituency. One of my goals and a challenge will be to provide a suitable seniors' complex to this area. Little Pond is an area that is sometimes forgotten and never mentioned, but it plays a very important role in our community. It lies on the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean and the people there are committed to their community and play an important role. Like any other community throughout the province, many difficulties are currently being experienced there, such as roads and lack of sewer. That will be another challenge.

Other areas like Blacketts Lake, Frenchvale, Leitches Creek, Balls Creek, Seaview Drive, Keltic Drive are rapidly growing areas of my constituency and have many struggles such as water and sewer and infrastructure programs. We are a proud people, of course, and we will continue to struggle. Hopefully, one day, we will achieve our goals.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to express how proud I am to be here amongst such distinguished company. I personally want to thank my opponents in Cape Breton The Lakes. It was an exciting election and all the candidates performed well. I want to congratulate them. I especially want to congratulate my seatmate, the member for Cape Breton East. As a fellow rookie MLA, we both have a lot to learn together. I think he has much more to learn than I do, but he may disagree with that, of course. We will be riding a sharp learning curve together and while I am learning the ropes, I want to thank our Leader, Russell MacLellan. His guidance and his direction are very important to me personally, and my caucus. He is a true gentleman and a great example of grace and dignity. I know I have a lot to learn from him and I am looking forward to the days ahead in working alongside him. Mr. MacLellan has shown tremendous faith in his caucus and we are all eager to work together to hold this new government accountable, Mr. Speaker. Russell MacLellan has always set a high standard for others to follow.

[Page 2501]

Under former Premier MacLellan and many of my caucus colleagues, I might add - eight in fact - Nova Scotia experienced amazing economic growth. In the past few years Nova Scotia has been leading the country in economic growth and job creation. This type of thing, Mr. Speaker , does not happen by accident. Our economic success in the past few years is a direct result of the work of Russell MacLellan and his Liberal team.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear. (Applause.)

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I may add that this is the standard that the new Tory Government must reach for the benefit of all of Nova Scotia. This trend must continue and the challenge is really upon this new government. The bars are set pretty high and it will not be easy for Premier Hamm and his Cabinet to achieve this type of success. But I know, and have confidence, that they will at least try to do the things that they believe in for the benefit of all of Nova Scotia.

They have already started trying by taking credit for some of the Liberals' success stories, of course. The Throne Speech says very clearly that Nova Scotia's future has never been brighter. (Applause.) This is on the last page of the Throne Speech and it was one of the few things I actually agree with. The future has never been brighter, but I ask myself why is this? The future has never been brighter because the past six years were so successful. (Interruptions.) The previous Liberal Government has a proud record of stability, responsibility and accountability. I think that is what the Progressive Conservatives promised, of course, and they have promised this, in writing, to all Nova Scotians.

The Tories made 243 promises in the election. They made so many promises because they knew they had such big shoes to fill, perhaps. Only by promising the world could the Tories hope to top the success of the previous government. What I did read on the first page of the Throne Speech, I read that the PC Government is backing down from its 243 promises, Mr. Speaker. The first thing they say is, government cannot be all things to all people. What does this mean? Do you know what it means to me? I will let you know what I believe it means. It means sorry, folks, we won't be able to keep our 243 promises. Well, I am going to do my best to make sure that this government does keep its promise to Nova Scotians and I know my entire caucus colleagues will be doing the same.

I do look forward and regard it as a challenge - both a privilege and a challenge - to serve my constituents as a member of this Liberal team. I am grateful for the trust that my constituents have shown in me, in Cape Breton the Lakes, and I want to thank all those voters for the confidence they have shown in me. I want to state for the record here in this historic House, Mr. Speaker, that I will do everything in my power to make sure their concerns and priorities are represented to the best of my ability. That is why I listened to the Speech from the Throne very carefully. I wanted to hear how this new government planned to address problems facing my area. I wanted to hear what solutions the government has for issues like

[Page 2502]

rural roads and unemployment. I wanted to hear what the Speech from the Throne had to offer for all Nova Scotians.

I admit, of course, Mr. Speaker, that I am a rookie here in this House, but I thought the Speech from the Throne would contain more information. I thought the Speech from the Throne would carefully outline the government's plan for Nova Scotia; I expected the Speech from the Throne to be a blueprint for the government's agenda. I expected more from the Speech from the Throne and I have to admit that I was very disappointed. It is ironic the Speech from the Throne was delivered just before the Thanksgiving Day weekend, because Thanksgiving is when many Nova Scotians are left with a lot of leftovers. The Speech from the Throne is the same way; it is a bunch of warmed-up leftovers from the election.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who got the wish bone?

MR. BOUDREAU: However, unlike the Thanksgiving dinner I had on that weekend, after I finished with the Speech from the Throne I was still hungry. (Applause) There does not, Mr. Speaker, appear to be much substance. The Speech from the Throne offers little in the way of real policy ideas and concrete alternatives for building a better Nova Scotia. The Speech from the Throne is also very confusing. It is full of contradictions. It talks about reducing the size of government, but in a 13-page speech I counted nearly 10 new levels of bureaucracy. The speech is full of new advisers, committees, committee councils, commissioners; there are enough new jobs to fill an entire government department.

If this is the government's plan for job creation, then it just might work, but I think my Leader, I am proud to say, Russell MacLellan, summed it up best one day in this House. He said the speech was inconsistent and incoherent, and I think he was being very kind when he said that.

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

MR. BOUDREAU: Yes, Mr. Speaker, no problem.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

HON. JOHN CHATAWAY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes for giving me time to make an introduction.

It is indeed my pleasure to welcome to the House of Assembly, sitting in the west gallery, Ron and Cynthia Driskill from Hubbards, known down our way as two of the most hard-working, small community newspaper people in the province in that they run the Masthead News. I would ask the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

[Page 2503]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I forget where I left off now.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Committee appointment. All the committee appointments.

MR. BOUDREAU: Actually I am very pleased and honoured to be named my Party's Critic for Housing and Municipal Affairs. (Applause) My job, of course, has been made more difficult by the revolving door in the minister's office. The Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs has had three ministers since this government took power. This has to be some sort of record. At the very least, it does not say much for the stability and strong leadership promised by the Progressive Conservatives during their election campaign.

[6:45 p.m.]

Although I am a rookie in this House, I do have plenty of experience in municipal government. As a former Deputy Mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, I know that this experience will come in handy when commenting on many of the issues that this department will be facing in the next few years. Unfortunately this is one department that is hardly even mentioned in the Throne Speech. I thought I could mention what the speech said about concerns in subsidized housing, and maybe mention the ideas about creating a better relationship with our municipal units. I looked and I looked several times, and I found nothing.

The Throne Speech is full of big, bold titles. Titles like Building on Strong Values and Building a Healthier Province and even Building Better Government. With all that talk about buildings, you would expect to find some mention of housing, but there was none. To be fair, the Throne Speech does say that the Tories will extend the property tax rebate to more low-income seniors. I am grateful for that, but the seniors have to wait until next year for this rebate. I believe our seniors deserve more and they deserve better.

The Throne Speech says nothing at all about municipal units. Nothing. With the high number of units throughout the Province of Nova Scotia, that is very surprising to me. I plan to contact our many municipal units around the province, and it will be a great opportunity for me to speak to them individually on what they expect from this new government. I know they will be able to give me more information than I received, of course, or could find in the Throne Speech.

Also, when I want to find out what people expect from the government, I will look in my own backyard. My constituents had plenty to say during the election. They brought up many issues and concerns as I went door to door. The voters in Cape Breton The Lakes have told me that they were scared and afraid of a Tory Government. This was partly because the Conservatives ran an anti-Cape Breton campaign. The Tories sacrificed the peace of mind of Cape Bretoners in general and all voters in that area in order to win seats on the mainland.

[Page 2504]

My residents remember a time, just six short years ago, when the Tories were running things. Of course, they remember the scandal. They remember the massive debt. They remember the favouritism when job postings occurred. Tory times, I believe, were tough times in Nova Scotia. I looked to the Throne Speech to see if things would be different this time around. Yes. The Throne Speech actually says, government in this province will be very difficult and different.

Does the Throne Speech contain any proof of this? No. I couldn't find any and recent events backed us up. The new government has been bouncing from controversy to controversy, almost since, July 27th, Mr. Speaker. The Tory old boys' club is back in town and running business. I am prepared to give this new government, of course, the benefit of a doubt and I want to believe things will be better in Cape Breton The Lakes under the Tories. After all, as I indicated before, Cape Breton The Lakes is probably the most beautiful area in the world and I am very proud of that.

The people in my area have a lot of questions for this new government. Here is one question. How does making a separate Department of Tourism agree with the promise of a smaller government? If you talk to the people working in the tourism industry, they will say they want less government interference. They don't need a whole department breathing down their necks. The tourism industry indicates, very clearly, that they want a hands-off relationship from government and, of course, this government doesn't know the meaning of the term hands-off.

We have a Minister of Justice who wants to interfere in the Public Prosecution Service; we have a Minister of Highways who is trying to overrule decisions on highway alignment; and now the Tories want to mess with the tourism industry. They won't say what they plan to do. This won't be tolerated in Cape Breton The Lakes, either by those residents or by this representative. Countless jobs, Mr. Speaker, depend on tourism. The Throne Speech seems to take credit for the record-breaking success of our tourism industry. The tourism industry in Nova Scotia has broken the $1 billion mark two years in a row, and the Throne Speech says the government has set a goal of $1.5 billion for tourism next year. How do they plan to do this, by adding another level of bureaucracy?

On that note, Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the MLA for Inverness on his election and his Cabinet post. (Applause) I also want to wish him well and much luck in the days ahead because, as the lone voice for the Tory Government on Cape Breton Island, he is going to have a lot to answer for. I, personally, as well as my colleagues . . .

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There happens to be two members representing Cape Breton Island. (Applause) I do represent the area of Port Hawkesbury and Port Hastings and I just want to point that out to the honourable member across.

[Page 2505]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member is right. It would be nice to recognize him.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I hate to oppose your decision but, if you check Hansard, I am sure you will indicate that I said the lone Tory Cabinet Minister. To my knowledge, the MLA for Inverness is the lone Tory Cabinet Minister for Cape Breton Island, although I do recognize that the Tory caucus has two members, MLAs. That is obvious, perhaps one is there and one is a wannabe, but (Laughter)

SOME HON. MEMBERS: That will teach you.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the Tory MLA for Inverness, of course, is the lone representative in Cabinet for Cape Breton. He is going to have a lot to answer for, and I intend to hold him accountable in this House and he can be assured that he is going to be held accountable by the remainder of my colleagues as well. I am very anxious to see how he will deliver.

This raises another good question, Mr. Speaker, involving new ideas for the film and television industries. I can't wait to see what this minister and his Cabinet colleagues come up with. Of their 243 promises, one was to continue the tax credits for film companies that hire Nova Scotian workers. That was a promise. It was a campaign promise, but it is missing from this Throne Speech; I doubt we will see an increase in the film tax credit in the budget when it comes down.

The film industry, of course, is another success story in Nova Scotia. Just look at the movies being made in Halifax today, Mr. Speaker, even on the steps of this great House, and the TV shows being filmed in Cape Breton or Lunenburg or in Shelburne. The previous Liberal Government made this happen. When the Liberals took power in 1993 the film industry in Nova Scotia was practically non-existent. The Tories, prior to that government, could not recognize how big this industry would become, but my Liberal colleagues promoted this industry and the Liberals brought in the film tax credit and even proposed an increase in our last budget. The Liberals proposed to extend this tax credit to apply to the multimedia industry.

The Liberals, under Russell MacLellan, had big plans for this industry. What did the Tories propose in the Speech from the Throne? They say they will take initiatives. The people of Cape Breton The Lakes want to know what the plan really is, Mr. Speaker, and what they will do. The Throne Speech doesn't go into detail, so we don't have any knowledge of their agenda on their initiatives. I think it is because the Tories don't know what they will do.

They made 243 promises during the election that they can't keep. One of the promises they made will have a great impact on my area and on all of Cape Breton Island. That promise, Mr. Speaker, of course is to close Sysco. The Progressive Conservatives suggested

[Page 2506]

during the election that hospital beds were closed because Sysco was open. It is fear-mongering at its worst. This was clearly an anti-Cape Breton policy designed to win seats on the mainland and I would be the first to admit that it worked.

[7:00 p.m.]

It worked, Mr. Speaker, but now Cape Bretoners are looking for some assurance they will not be left out in the cold. The government may disagree with this, of course, but it is clearly indicated in the feelings I receive from my constituency. Again, this is something the lone Tory voice on Cape Breton Island will have to answer for, and I can assure you that there will be many questions in the days ahead for that honourable member.

What does Premier Hamm plan to do to show my constituents that his government is not anti-Cape Breton? Maybe I can help the Premier, if I may make a suggestion. One area that is very important in my riding, of course, as I indicated prior, is agriculture. When people talk about agriculture, attention always turns to the Valley, Mr. Speaker, but I want to remind the government, and I see the minister is in the House, that Cape Breton The Lakes has a very vibrant farming community and we do not intend to take a backseat to anybody.

I appreciate the fact that the Speech from the Throne does indeed refer to farm drought relief and this is, and continues to remain, a major issue in my community. I would have been much happier, of course, if the Speech from the Throne clearly outlined the plan for making sure farmers in Cape Breton The Lakes received fair treatment, Mr. Speaker, when it comes to this federal money, but there is no plan, just more talking. If we could eat our words, politicians would never go hungry.

We need to eat more than words, Mr. Speaker. We need clear answers on what the government will do (Interruptions) We need clear answers on the issues facing this province. We need clear answers and a clear direction and this caucus will hold that government accountable. In regard to the farm drought relief, this situation is going to get much worse. The indications are that it will get much worse. Scientists say we could be in for at least a few more years of hot, dry summers, so we must plan now. Farming employs 16,000 people across this province and it is a $1 billion a year industry. This is also another result of direct planning by the Liberal team of Russell MacLellan. (Applause) That plan, Mr. Speaker, obviously came with positive results that today's farming industry has shown and now I ask the Progressive Conservatives to show us their plan.

Another problem that will not go away is the situation with the coalfields, Mr. Speaker, in Cape Breton and the former Premier, Russell MacLellan, always showed tremendous leadership on this issue. He personally took up the fight of the coal miners and their families. I personally saw Mr. MacLellan fight for this when I was the Deputy Mayor of CBRM. I saw him do it on a daily basis and I saw how the former government was prepared to work with

[Page 2507]

the municipal council, with UCCB and ECB and we worked together as a team to come up with options and plans for the economy in Cape Breton.

I am proud of these documents that were produced. They outline a blueprint for economic prosperity in industrial Cape Breton. Russell MacLellan took an active leadership role in endorsing this plan. The municipal government supports this plan; the community and the university support this plan, Mr. Speaker, but what does this government do? I will tell you. They plan to set up another committee, the Cape Breton Committee. This is totally ridiculous. The idea of a committee for Cape Breton has been done, and is done, and the time for talk is over.

The Throne Speech says that funding decisions must be made at the local level in Cape Breton; I agree with that. It is an issue that the CBRM council has sought and I totally agree with that. What funding are we talking about? Where is the money? That is what we need; that is what the difficulties on Cape Breton Island require, money and a concentrated effort. Does Premier Hamm have a bag of money somewhere that he is hiding or are we going to talk about it some more?

I have heard, soon, very soon, more times in this House since I became a member than ever before. Now is the time to act, Mr. Speaker. Now is the time to take action, and the Speech from the Throne, in my opinion, is short on action. We need the government to support a plan that has the support of the community; we need the government to create stability. We need stability in our economy and in our health care system. For six years, the Tories told people how terrible the health care system is, and now is the time to reassure people that they will get the health care that they deserve, but what is happening? More fear is being created. I am both shocked and surprised by the direction this government has taken in health care.

Now the talk is of closing hospitals and cutting back services to pay for Tory promises. That is the talk I heard over this weekend in my constituency. The Tories have, of course, by now, destroyed the regional health boards just because they were stubborn. The Goldbloom report, a report Premier Hamm called for and endorsed, said the regional health boards should stay, Mr. Speaker, but what did this government do? I will allow them the courtesy to tell the people in this province what they did themselves, and I am sure they will be asked on a daily basis throughout the province. Tearing down these health boards has and will continue to create more instability in the health care system and it will prove to be very expensive, too, so why we are going in that direction I cannot comprehend.

We should be talking about more beds, more hospital beds, shorter waiting lists, and quality care for seniors in their homes when it is required. I am proud to say that more Cape Bretoners are receiving health care, when they require it, on Cape Breton Island. The former government led, of course, by my Leader Russell MacLellan, because of the direction of this former government less people have to travel to Halifax for treatment. This is what investing

[Page 2508]

in health care is all about. (Applause) That is the dividend; that is the result of smart investment.

When people do have to travel to the hospital they want to know they are driving on good safe roads, and I hope the minister is hearing that. Another question from the Throne Speech, why is tourism more important than road safety? Safety should come first for all Nova Scotians. Also, when can we expect to see the Tories' promised 10 year plan for all rural roads? When do we see it?

I see the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is already getting new pavement in his own riding.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, no.

MR. BOUDREAU: What I want to know is where the pavement is for Cape Breton The Lakes, my constituency? I don't want to wait 10 years for better roads for my residents. Where is the plan and how is the plan different from the priority list used by the previous government? That is what I want to know. Some roads in Cape Breton The Lakes are terrible, they are falling down, they are abused, misused and neglected for the past several years. We need road priorities now. This government can throw away millions of dollars to play hopscotch with a new jail, but they can't produce a plan for roads. The road to the jail, of course, in Burnside, it must be paved with gold.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's right, $1.8 million worth.

MR. BOUDREAU: We may have to wait awhile for any plan from the Department of Transportation and Public Works, or any plan at all from any department, because rumours are flying about cutbacks and lay-offs in the Civil Service. The Throne Speech talks about a bright future for Nova Scotia. Are civil servants included in that future? Right now public employees are afraid for their future; the Throne Speech seems to hint that there will be major cutting and slashing of jobs. Our civil servants do not need this grief, and they should share - they have in the past - in the successes of this province.

As I said earlier, Nova Scotia is the leading province in the country in economic growth and job creation. This is a success story the former government achieved with its role from its civil servants. How will this determined success continue if the best and brightest minds in Nova Scotia are forced out? Where is the consultation this government promised with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union? How is this fear and uncertainty building on human potential, and what is the potential for our education system?

Cape Breton The Lakes is one of the areas that, of course, is getting a new school. The minister's committee indicated that is still on schedule, and I want to recognize that I appreciate her making that commitment to continue the priority of the previous government

[Page 2509]

in allowing the school to proceed. Cape Breton's new school construction program, of course, seems to be in a state of limbo, and the question is, do we need new schools? I would say yes, of course we need new schools. We certainly do require that new school in Cape Breton The Lakes, I know that. The students in my riding deserve the same benefits, Mr. Speaker, and the same high quality schools as students in other areas.

[7:15 p.m.]

I know I am getting short on time, Mr. Speaker, so in closing, I want to again thank the voters of Cape Breton The Lakes. I feel very confident that they will help me carry out my duties as the MLA and a Liberal critic of the government. My role as the Opposition critic is to ask some very hard and important questions. I have been involved in politics enough to know that these questions are not and I want to make it clear, personal attacks on individuals. I want to focus on the issues that are important to all Nova Scotians. The reason I ask these questions is because there were no answers in the Throne Speech. The speech says the government does not hold a monopoly on good ideas. Boy, do I ever agree with that. They don't seem to have a monopoly on any ideas, let alone any good ones.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I want to express my gratitude personally again, for the last time today, to the people of Cape Breton The Lakes. I also want to express my gratitude to all members of the House for making me feel welcome and wanted in this House. I am looking forward to the many days and years ahead. (Interruptions) Well, of course the NDP don't want me, but that is their problem. (Laughter) That is just too bad, I say, to the NDP members over there. That is just too bad, but there will be another day. So I will have another day, Mr. Speaker, and my residents will have a day to judge me, as well as all members of this House. (Interruptions) So I want to say again, Premier Hamm and all his Cabinet colleagues, I realize the road ahead is going to be very difficult, but I do truly want to wish you all the best in the future. Hopefully all Nova Scotians will benefit from this government. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 2510]

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 20.

Bill No. 20 - Emergency "911" Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I move that we call the question on the amendment.

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I understood that the minister was going to be making another commitment. Certainly, if the minister makes the commitment that I understood he was going to make, I would be very happy to state that there will be no more speakers within the NDP caucus, either on the hoist amendment or on second reading on the bill. However, unless the minister makes the statement that I understood he was going to make, then the debate will resume.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker. I, too, want to make sure that the minister understands all too well that this House is waiting to hear what his words of wisdom would be on Bill No. 20 with regard to the amendments, changes or deletions to that bill. So we are of the understanding, that is why we moved in this direction, was that the minister would have something to say to this House. So I am anxiously waiting to hear what the minister has to say on that particular issue before we go any further. (Interruption.)

MR. HOLM: In my understanding - I am not sure if the minister had concluded his remarks when he sat down but, if he did, then of course he would not be permitted to speak again except by unanimous consent. I would like to suggest that we would all give him that unanimous consent so he can speak. (Laughter.)

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Minister of Health.

[Page 2511]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I should have added - and I do apologize - that I will be proposing that when the bill goes off to Law Amendments that Clause (f)[(ea)] in the amended Act be removed. I would now, Mr. Speaker, like to see the question put on the hoist amendment.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, as I understand the Rules of the House, proposing something is one thing, but actually putting a motion to have it withdrawn is quite another. I would respectfully submit that if we approve the hoisting - the agreement to withdraw the hoist - and then to vote on this particular bill in second reading (Interruption.) And, yes, I do have a right to speak on this particular issue as do all members in this House. The Minister of Finance may not want members of this House to speak on it, but I can assure the Minister of Finance that this is our legal obligation and we are not going to ram something through just to accommodate a right-wing agenda.

Mr. Speaker, I believe the Minister of Health is an honourable member and if he would clarify exactly what his intent is, then certainly we would be willing to support it.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order, very briefly, we had some discussions earlier and the minister agreed to make the undertaking - and certainly we cannot make a motion at this stage, we cannot do that on the floor during the second reading debate. It can only be done in Law Amendments or in the Committee of the Whole stage and the minister made an undertaking that he would remove that clause. We are accepting the minister and the government at their word and on the basis of that our caucus is prepared to honour that agreement and we will not be putting up any more speakers during this stage of the bill debate. (Interruptions.)

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order, I wonder if I heard the honourable minister correctly. I thought I heard him say it was Clause (f) he would withdraw, but in fact, I think it is Clause 7 of the bill, although it comes after Clause (e), for some reason it is referred to as Clause (ea). Was that the clause that the minister was intending to withdraw? I see him saying yes and if that is correct, that is our understanding.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. What we will be voting on, then, is the amendment that was introduced, and I will read it: "That all the words after the word 'that' be deleted and the following substituted therefore: Bill No. 20, an Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1992, the Emergency "911" Act, be not now read a second time, but that it be read a second time this day six months hence.".

Are you ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is defeated.

[Page 2512]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 20.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 20, the Emergency "911" Act. Is the House ready for the question?

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

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview. (Applause.)

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I must say that I made these notes so many weeks ago that when I took them out of my desk today, there were a few things I no longer understood. So there are some hieroglyphics in my notes that may or may not become clear to me in the course of my remarks but I figure that just makes it all a little more interesting for the person trying to read her notes.

Like so many members, I think, of this House, I am delighted to be back here, Mr. Speaker, in this beautiful historic place where we sometimes do it justice and sometimes don't. I have said it before in this place, Mr. Speaker, and I will say it again, if you have to be in Grade 8, it is better to be one of the kids than the teacher - I have been on both sides of it.

I am very glad to be back here with my colleagues and not just from the New Democratic Party, but with colleagues new and old, from the other Parties. I think it is only right, Mr. Speaker, that the first thing a member ought to do in a situation like this is to thank the people in his or her constituency. I don't just mean the people that I surmise voted for me

[Page 2513]

or for our Party, because I feel extremely strongly, as I am sure other members do, too, that once elected a member of this representative group, represents everyone and that everyone includes all those who may not have voted for you in an election. I think it was John Ralston Saul who said it and it has been said here before, the first duty is to those who did not elect you. I do thank those who did and I am extremely grateful to be able to continue to do work that I have done for a short time now, three years, but have enjoyed every minute of it.

I also want to thank the people who were on what you might call our side, the campaign workers. Mr. Speaker, I am sure you can recall, as other members can, the incredible heat and humidity of the first half of this summer in Nova Scotia. I have to tell you that Halifax Fairview consists almost entirely of steep hills and when we are out on the doorsteps in Halifax Fairview, we are either going uphill or downhill. We have mastered the art of setting it up so that most of the walking is downhill, but it didn't make much of a difference in that kind of heat and humidity. So we were extremely grateful to the people who went out and campaigned on our behalf in that heat and humidity, up and down those hills of Halifax Fairview, and who did such a good job on behalf of a cause that they all believed in.

I have no doubt that the workers from the other Parties have the same commitment and toiled in the same hard circumstances that we did, although I can bet that there is probably not a constituency in this province that does have as many hills as Halifax Fairview. I challenge any member to prove otherwise.

Mr. Speaker, there is also a woman I would like to thank. Her name is Linda Smith, and aside from being one of the funniest human beings on the face of the earth, she is also my constituency assistant and has been with me for the entire three years since I was first elected. Linda Smith is also what we call multi-skilled these days. She has been an office manager, an official agent, a constituency assistant and now, Mr. Speaker, she has been a campaign manager. It has just proven to be one more skill that she had that we didn't know about until we asked her to take on the challenge. So I wanted to thank her publicly, on the record, for the incredible work that she has done, on behalf, not just of our political cause, but on behalf of the constituents of Halifax Fairview.

[7:30 p.m.]

We come back, of course, Mr. Speaker, to a changed place. Everybody knows that. It is no secret that we regret the loss of our members who lost in the July election. Of particular interest to me, though I regret the loss of all the members who were defeated by other people in this House, I particularly regret the shrinking of the numbers of women, not just in our caucus but, therefore, in the House. It seems to me that we have an enormous challenge before us on all sides, not just in our Party, but we have an enormous challenge ahead of us to make sure that someday, before too many years pass, we have a House that is representative of the people that we represent.

[Page 2514]

I challenge the other Parties and our own to make sure that, in the future, we actively promote and seek out and encourage, in all possible ways, those people who have not considered it a possibility, who have not been sought out, to represent all the people, whether they be women, people of colour, disabled people, Aboriginal people, anybody in this community who ought to have a voice here or enough of a voice and, perhaps, doesn't yet. Of course, I want to go on the record saying that, in particular, I miss my friend Helen MacDonald, who was so helpful to me last winter through rather difficult times. I just wanted to say that because I do, indeed, miss her presence and the enormous assistance that, both as caucus chair and friend, she gave to me last winter.

Mr. Speaker, I want to mention Mr. Doug Giles tonight. I don't know how many members know it, but Doug Giles was a constituent of Halifax Fairview and Mr. Giles's house was right next door to my very first campaign office. We were divided by a board fence and my first campaign office then became my first constituency office. I want you to know, and all other members, that we had very many good chats over that board fence, politically neutral and I must say that I also miss him when I come to this place.

Mr. Speaker, there is one more person. I went to the library way back when we began this sitting because I couldn't recall whether I had ever had an opportunity to reply to the previous government's last Speech from the Throne. If I did, there is no record of it so I feel entirely safe because I have the utmost trust in librarians, having one in the family. I feel confident that if there is no record, I didn't say it. So I do want to mention another very special person. I think last winter I brought in a resolution about him, but I want to mention him in a little more detail. Last January, the communities around Halifax Fairview lost a dear friend and a community activist and his name was Peter Kidd.

Peter Kidd we have honoured and mourned in our community, but he wasn't just a partisan political activist, he was, in fact, more than 20 years ago, the first person in Halifax to engage in home recycling. He was active with the Clean Nova Scotia Foundation. He sought municipal office in the course of his life. All in all, he was what you would call a model citizen. While we had the good fortune in Halifax Fairview to have his wisdom and his capacity for work directed our way much of the time, he was a huge contributor to the wider community. I do believe that the municipality is planning to name a street after him and it is, frankly, the least that they can do.

I want to congratulate the new members who have come here, even though they have been here awhile now and it is kind of old news. I want to thank especially the member for Antigonish. You may remember that the member for Antigonish had the kindness in his Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne to mention both the member for Halifax Needham and myself, both of whom originate on his home turf, and I thought it was extremely kind of him also to make mention of my mother and the other members of my family who still live there.

[Page 2515]

What you don't know, Mr. Speaker, is the real purpose of the member for Antigonish and this is what I want to share with the House. You may think the member for Antigonish exists to represent his constituents, but that is not so. He exists to take packages to my mother. That is what he is really there for and I want you to know that Mr. Bill Gillis, when he was in this House, understood his role instantly and was most cooperative, especially at Christmas time, when he delivered packages and parcels and, Lord knows, what else I put in the trunk of his car. The next member for Antigonish also was very clear about understanding his role when I mentioned it to him, day one, that the previous member had understood that his job was to deliver things to my mother and he agreed that was absolutely his role entirely.

The current member came over to say hello to me one day and I saw the opportunity to educate him. As soon as he sat down, he said you don't have to, your sister already told me. So a family member got to him ahead of me and he has been kind enough I must say not only to speak nicely of my politically errant family, but also to offer when circumstances arise to happily take packages and whatnot to my mother. So I thank him for that and I also thank him for his kind words. (Applause)

In the words of the kids at school, I think I will get serious for a minute. The old members know, and I have alluded to the fact that last winter was not the best winter of my life. There is a group of people, a group of women that I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to, Mr. Speaker. There is a group of women who work every day on the fourth floor of the VG Hospital in the chemotherapy unit. Those women - now, for those of you who have never been there with a family member, or have experienced the trauma of this kind of outing, if you want to call it that - they are all women, if there were men there I would certainly pay tribute to them too, but all the people who are there are women, and some of them have been doing this job for 30 or more years, which is incredible when you think of the history of cancer treatment.

Chemotherapy is kind of like insurance, you know, everybody pays, but not everybody collects. So I think it must be a very stressful kind of work to do for 5, or 10, or 15, or 20 or 30 years, Mr. Speaker. They work in a challenging and difficult environment. They are not always successful and they have, I have to say of my whole experiences last year, this was consistently the group of women who showed the most professional skill, the most kindness, and the most compassion of any group as a group that I encountered.

Mr. Speaker, there is one woman there I want to pay a special tribute to. She is the director - I don't know what her title is actually. She is just there. She seems to be in charge. She has been there for over 30 years and she has managed in all that time not to become hardened, or crass, or mechanical in what she does. She, after 30-some years, has the same compassion, goodness and decency that anybody struggling in difficulty would want to find in a place such as that - I want to tell you her name, and I am going to spell it for you because she is not a native-born Canadian, but I want her name in Hansard, I want her name on the

[Page 2516]

record in this province as somebody who has devoted her working life to people in these truly difficult circumstances.

Mr. Speaker, her name is Jasmine Buisseret, a woman who came from Anguilla in her youth and who has spent her life in Nova Scotia, devoting herself to the care of people who are suffering from cancer. I want her to know and I want you to know how much I, and others, respect and admire the work that she has done for so many years. I thank you for your patience with that because I felt very strongly that I wanted to say that.

I want to talk about Halifax Fairview. It is a strange community in a sense, it is a geographically strange community. It is a community that is a kind of chain of communities. I am sure that a lot of constituencies are like this. It is an urban chain, it is not out in the rural area. It is made up of what, generally speaking, you could call Cowie Hill; Chocolate Lake; Kline Heights; the Dutch Village Road community, the areas surrounding Dutch Village Road; Springvale and Fairmount, and what we would call Fairview proper, which is the piece of the constituency that goes by the name adopted by the constituency.

Mr. Speaker, I have not felt, in the three years that I have represented these communities, that they have ever really had, in general, a fair shake from government. It doesn't seem to matter which one it is. The Fairview communities are, with one exception, not wealthy. The Fairview constituency as a whole has a very high percentage of renters, a high percentage of senior citizens, and the little bit of Fairview that has a business community is a struggling business community.

It seems as if businesses are lost every few months to the big stores and the drive by the highway box stores and so on. Some of the small businesses on Dutch Village Road, which is the only real business core that Fairview had, have been closing down one at a time, over a period of time. Sometimes other ones open but it is a struggle for this community to keep its core, or to keep one of its cores so that there is something for the community to focus on.

Cowie Hill is a very densely populated community which I have a huge respect for because the condominium corporations there work very hard to maintain a sense of community in what is gradually becoming, slowly over time, more and more of a rental community. It is more of a challenge to keep that sense of neighbourhood with the turnover.

Fairview proper is the community that I was most familiar with, because I worked for so many years at the high school in the riding, at Halifax West High School, I taught there for 14 years. In those days, and I am going to talk about Halifax West in a few minutes, it is a very different place, very different communities now, but in those days it was basically Fairview and Clayton Park, and that was a much smaller Clayton Park of 20 years ago. The rivalry was palpable, it was clear. If you came from a certain community you went out the back door and if you came from the other community you were called front door, and there were all those things that went on.

[Page 2517]

But Fairview proper is a community that, over time, I came to admire and respect for its own ability to maintain its community and to maintain its values. I was canvassing on one of those very steep hills, on one of those very hot days this summer, and in three houses in a row on one street, there were families, second-generation Fairview children, grown up, who had either left home and come back with their families or who had stayed in the neighbourhood. It didn't surprise me to see three houses in a row because I learned a long time ago that Fairview is the kind of place, Mr. Speaker, where the kids grow up and they don't leave home and their families don't want them to. There are wonderful extended families in this urban community where the children often build next door or buy next door, or build on the parent's lot and they live in this extended family for several generations. Of course, for me, it is a bit of a going home time because I taught so many of them in the course of my teaching life at Halifax West High School. So it is a little like old home week when I go up to Fairview to see the parents, the grandparents, the children and, of course, the babies that they are having and to say hello again and reconnect with them.

[7:45 p.m.]

Now I talked a little bit about the struggles that the small business core has in Halifax Fairview. There is one business centre inside the constituency and that is the Bayers Road Shopping Centre, Mr. Speaker. My constituency office is in the Bayers Road mall and it is undergoing a major renovation. It is attempting to make a wise market move, given the huge expansion of the box stores at Bayers Lake Park. It is attempting to restructure itself as a community core, in other words, to redesign the space so that it will be a place where people in Halifax Fairview can go, not just to run in, grab a VCR or a computer printer or a pair of shoes and run out again, but the kind of place where people will be drawn and it will be a community meeting place.

I am hopeful that it will, when renovated, provide some increased sense of community although it has always, all along, tried to instil that. It is now being designed to encourage actual public spaces being used. But every time there is a major renovation, things are lost. The members from Halifax might be familiar with the Starlite Restaurant which operated, I believe, from the very day or the very year that the mall opened. The Starlite Restaurant was in business for 32 years and . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: We would often go there and have lunch.

MS. O'CONNELL: Absolutely, we would go there and have lunch, and it is really sad that in the course of change, a stable, popular business was lost, Mr. Speaker.

There have been some special moments, if you like, in the constituency over the last year and I am just going to name a couple. It was a great privilege last winter to go to the Fairview United Church on Martin Luther King Day. The member for Halifax Needham will know about this because Halifax Fairview is not the most multicultural community in this

[Page 2518]

province, for sure. What the pastor, Kevin Little did, was he arranged with the Rev. Moriah from Cornwallis United Baptist Church to trade churches for Martin Luther King Day. The Cornwallis United Baptist Church brought to Fairview at least a portion of its gospel choir. It was a real thrill for me, Mr. Speaker, to be in the Fairview United Church the day that we had this wonderful experience with the gospel choir and a service with a visiting pastor, while the Fairview minister went down and did the same thing in a very different community on a very special day.

I want to talk about the schools, too. But before I do, I want to talk about kind of a special girl in Halifax Fairview. I brought in a resolution in the House about her, Mr. Speaker, her name is Jessica Longtin. She is 11 years old. I met her parents - I have actually never met them face-to-face but we have talked on the telephone now any number of times - on the telephone during the election when they called me from the IWK Hospital, where they had been living for several months with their daughter while she was struggling with a brain tumour. Eleven years old. Mr. Speaker. To be with her they had given up the care of their younger child, I believe a toddler, so that they could be with the child who was in the most need. They called me from the hospital, and the question, as the member for Halifax Chebucto would say - do you know what the question was? How do we vote?

I thought, now here are people who are truly citizens, who have the capacity in times of enormous personal stress to look outside that and see what is going on in the world, and it was important to them. Now, Mr. Speaker, since that time they have struggled. Jessica is back in the hospital this week - I spoke to her father - but they have also had an enormous amount of support, organized by the employees of the Sheriff's Office who held a highly successful fund-raiser to help the family as it struggled with its extraordinary expenses.

So if I were to ask what kind of people live in Halifax Fairview, I would say, people like Stephen and Cindy Longtin and many more like them. It is a privilege to know them and a privilege to be of the meanest and smallest sort of assistance to people who are so committed to their families and their communities, and I honour them.

Mr. Speaker, the schools in Halifax Fairview have not had a good year; that is called understatement. Last spring I went to the last ice cream social at Clarence A. Beckett School. Now Clarence A. Beckett School was a tiny school with fewer than 100 children. It was built in the 1940's for the community of what was then called, what was it called then? Jollimore? No. It is right off the St. Margarets Bay Road.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Armdale.

MS. O'CONNELL: Armdale. Thank you. My colleague from Halifax Atlantic, who shares some geography with me, reminded me that it is the community of Armdale. I went to the last ice cream social, a many-years tradition, a long-time tradition at Clarence A. Beckett School, and because the school board had reviewed Clarence A. Beckett five years in a row,

[Page 2519]

that little school went through the torments of school review and, through that whole time, families moved out because they were afraid the school would not be there and the population went down, and families refused to move into the neighbourhood because they were afraid there would not be a school.

In the end the crunch came last spring. Mr. Speaker, I went to this ice cream social thinking, boy, there are going to be a lot of long faces here tonight. I was fascinated not just by the attitude of the school administration, but by the powerful effect they had on the children of that school who were going to pack up and move to another school in the neighbourhood, Springvale, within a couple of months. I said to the Vice Principal, Margaret Cameron, aren't you the least bit sad about this? She said, yes, we are, but it is not about us, it is about the kids.

She said we have made a pact that we will not pack in a box a single pencil, a single eraser, a single chalkboard brush, a single computer keyboard, nothing goes in a box until after those children walk out of the school on the last day because they deserve a peaceful and secure transition, because it is hard enough to go to a new school. Here they are, all of them, saying goodbye to their school and going on to another school. I really admired that. In addition, she then went on to say that the real task at hand was to integrate those children from Clarence A. Beckett into the Springvale School, which is rather an inconvenient distance away and does create some problems for the children furthest way. She said their job really was to create a new community.

There is a statement, Mr. Speaker, that to me exemplifies everything that is good and strong about those communities that I represent. They are adaptable, they are flexible, they are committed to each other in their communities and we saw a perfect example of it in the closing of this school and the amalgamating of those children into Springvale Elementary School.

Halifax West High School, and I am sure the member for Halifax Bedford Basin, who has been a parent there, will understand if I mention the grave difficulties that are going on there with environmental problems. Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you that in 1978 we were saying there is something wrong with the air in here. Otherwise, why would dead flies be falling out of the ventilator shafts. We figured there would be live flies if there was not something wrong. Anyway, in those days we did not understand the importance of it and for many years we worked in a school that, over time, we discovered had a great deal of environmental difficulties.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: No flies on you.

MS. O'CONNELL: No flies on me, thank you. The member for Hants East says there are no flies on me. Not any more, I hasten to add. Halifax West has serious problems and like so many buildings, and like our limited understanding 20 years ago, these problems built. I

[Page 2520]

find myself now, Mr. Speaker, calling friends that I taught with for many years who are no longer able to work. They spend their days at home or if they have to go out, they spend their days with masks on, or they spend their days getting environmental treatments.

Mr. Speaker, I find this utterly frightening and appalling. I can only hope that as we understand more and more, as our testing improves, and as school boards and the government recognize the critical importance of a healthy workplace for children who are growing and learning, and teenagers as well, I can only hope that this school and all the others like it will have repairs done that will enable the students to learn in a healthy and clean environment.

Mr. Speaker, I want to interrupt myself for a minute because I did not write down my start time.

MR. SPEAKER: You have 27 minutes left; 8:25 p.m.

MS. O'CONNELL: Thank you very much, 8:25 p.m., I want to make sure I get it all in.

There is another problem that I raised in this House last spring, Mr. Speaker, and that is the whole issue - well, really we only have one highway in Halifax Fairview and that is the Bicentennial, Highway No. 102, which comes down into an intersection at the top of Dutch Village Road, Joseph Howe Avenue and Bayers Road there in Halifax. I spoke about this before, but you have to understand the continual frustration of the residents of School Avenue. School Avenue is a very long street. It has houses on one side and on the other side of the pavement there is a chain-link fence and on the other side of the fence is a provincial highway. They have coped over the years, again and again, with noise, with pollution, with garbage that is strewn out of cars by drivers who are on their way into the city. The garbage, of course, when the wind blows, piles up against the fence and sometimes there are massive amounts of it.

The residents of School Avenue have almost had to become a permanent vigilante committee. They spend their days calling the city to pick up the garbage and they have spent a great deal of time both with their councillor and myself, trying to impress upon us the crucial importance of something being done about the noise, the pollution and the other difficulties that the traffic creates.

Mr. Speaker, this is the street, probably the only street in Halifax Fairview, where people have to keep their doors and windows shut in the summertime because they cannot be heard and the dirt and the dust are too predominant for them to even go and sit on their front steps.

[Page 2521]

[8:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I take heart. I talk about the difficulties of the constituency and I take a great deal of heart . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order. There is a little too much chatter in the background. If people want to carry on conversations, they can go outside.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I take a great deal of heart, as I said, from the people in the communities. Governments will never, I don't think, ever be able to destroy the strength and the community spirit of people in communities all over this province. But I do wish that governments had a better understanding of the incredible value to us all of the strength of those communities. That brings me directly to the Speech from the Throne.

I went to it with an open mind, but I made a list, way back when we came here, of some of the catch-phrases in the Speech from the Throne. I am not so interested in the particulars, Mr. Speaker, as I am in the tone and the tenor of the document. I just want to read a couple of almost random samples from the speech so that I can comment on what I see that is so discouraging for communities like those that make up the constituency of Halifax Fairview. When I read that Speech from the Throne, the bells went off, the flags came up. I just thought, I hope government doesn't make it even harder. It is hard enough. I hope government doesn't make it even harder. These are just phrases. I jotted them down.

"Achieve greater value from every dollar spent.". Well, we can't complain about efficiency. The question is, is this code for more than that? ". . . reasonable and orderly divestiture of public business enterprises in favour of private sector involvement.", the downsizing, as we say, of government. Is that going to be good for the people of this province? The government says in its Throne Speech that, ". . . we will also move towards creating a new and flexible work environment for our employees. We will offer them options to improve their family lives . . .". The minute a government invokes family, Mr. Speaker, the hair on the back of my neck goes up. I want to know what it really is that is happening here.

We are going to, " . . . make government a more efficient and cost-effective organization . . .". Again, on the face of it, it could be a very worthwhile thing to do. But there is a kind of code here, I think. " . . . government must also know its place. . ." is another one. "Government must respect the right of Nova Scotians to. . . chart their own futures.". Mr. Speaker, who would argue with that except for those who can't, who need assistance charting their own futures and support to make them a reality. "This government believes . . . self-reliance and personal responsibility are the keys to . . . ", whatever. Well, sure. I agree with that, too. I think we should be personally responsible and self-reliant, when we can be and we should challenge ourselves to be that and we should be responsible citizens. But one wonders, in cases like this, with code words like this, what that means for those who are not able to be self-sufficient and totally reliant upon themselves.

[Page 2522]

" . . . government cannot, and should not, attempt to be all things to all people." Well, it is hard to quarrel with that, too. But it sure would be nice to have a government that is something to some people, frankly, and I am still trying to work out what it is. Now to me there is a tone there and it has been raised here before. If what we are hearing from this government is it is every person for each person's self, I want to point out to the government that, in Nova Scotia, and I am sure there are members all over this province who come from different subcultures, whether they are urban and rural, whether they are Cape Breton or mainland, whether you are from Digby or whether you are from industrial Cape Breton, there is not a member in this House, I don't think, who wouldn't say, what is our great strength in this province? It is our sense of ourselves, our families, our communities. We belong here. We belong together. We care for one another when we can. The almighty dollar is not the first preoccupation of most Nova Scotians, otherwise they would have left long ago.

What do we value here? I very much fear, not just for myself and not just for my own family but for those I represent, I very much fear and I very much feared when I heard the speech that there was a road we were going down that whether it was imported from some other culture, whether it was Ontario or whatever, whether the ideas were pulled from somewhere else which had a different culture and different meanings for people's lives in some sense, were we going to lose these valuable and important attributes that have kept us here when we could have, many of us could have, gone down the road and stayed gone.

We might have made more money, we probably would have lived in, I don't know, Burlington or something, made more money, and come home every summer, if we could afford it, or every fifth summer if that is all we could afford, and then pined to come home and retire. But we stayed. We stayed here because of our values.

I am very nervous about this government in this respect. I think the government members know what it is that matters to people in Nova Scotia. I think you have to distort it. I think you have to twist. I don't know if it is like throwing a slinky down the stairs or taking one of those long skinny balloons and tying it up and contorting it into a shape, but you have to contort who we are, I think, to pretend that what is in the Speech from the Throne accurately and thoroughly represents the values that we all have. That discourages me. That really discourages me.

Unfortunately, I think that we have, in the intervening weeks, and I agree there were two of them that I was not here for, but I don't suggest that the government took a sharp turn to the left in my absence, what we have seen in the intervening weeks is an attempt, I think, to move in that very direction. I have to say, sometimes you couldn't tell because you couldn't tell if it was just newness, whether the government was still working out which leg to put in the pants first, or whether it was actual philosophy, whether it was the working out of a philosophy. Look at what we have seen.

[Page 2523]

I think the breaking point for me was the Sisters of Charity. I called my mother this morning. My mother is a graduate of Mount Saint Vincent, 1941. My mother said to me, can you believe it? Can you believe it, she said. This is a women who spent her high school and college life and then the rest of her life staying in contact with the Sisters of Charity and her classmates from a group of people who have created a strong bond in the late 1930's and early 1940's, and who continue, the ones who are alive, to see one another and to maintain their bonds and their love and respect for not just the Sisters of Charity but the work that they have done.

Mr. Speaker, my mother said to me, I can't believe what they are doing to the Sisters of Charity. I said, well, I don't pretend to understand it myself. She said, don't you know that they lost everything in 1951, the whole place burned down. She said to me, on January 31, 1951, in the cold of the night, and I went there, she said, and I stood there and I watched my history burn down. She said, they lost, and I wrote it down, she said everything was in one building. They lost the postulate, they lost an noviciate, they lost the academy, they lost the college, they lost the marble chapel, they lost all their records, everything. That was the day they said to the Government of Canada, okay, we have never taken a cent, now we are talking about sisters who have taken a vow of poverty, and they said to that moment they had never taken a penny from the Government of Canada for pensions for their senior, aged sisters. They gave that money back, until the day they had nothing. The day they had nothing they applied to the Government of Canada for pensions for their sisters, so that they could in a small way help with the rebuilding.

The other thing my mother told me, Mr. Speaker, which I think is just so important to me, with my particular critic area, the Status of Women and with my interest in education, she said to me, don't you know that girls could get an education because it was cheap, they didn't charge a lot of money. My mother went there and she said my friends thought I was wealthy because I had two cardigans, everybody else had just one. She was passionate with me about the history of the service of these women to this province for over 150 years. Her response was how could they do this? What do these women want to do? They don't want something for themselves, they want to go and help some more people. They want to open some more beds so that they can take care of more than just their own.

How can a government (a) deny the years of service - much longer than our lifetimes - and (b) deny what it is that these women, who have served this province and the people in it so well, want to do in the future? Mr. Speaker, I guess that, for me, was the point where I thought what it is that we are all about here and what is this government going to do in the next four years or four and one-half years or however long it is? How are they going to carve this out? Are they going to continue to say, well disabled, you just wait, we will get around to you. They have been hearing that for years, they have been hearing it about everything from wheelchair access to technical aids, and I would be willing to bet that there is more than one member in this House who has an office that somebody cannot get into because they are in a wheelchair.

[Page 2524]

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if the member would permit an introduction from the member for Dartmouth North?

MS. O'CONNELL: Absolutely, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, honourable member.

The reason I rise today is that in the Speaker's Gallery is Mr. Ron Murdock, formerly from Merigomish, Pictou County, who has lived in Europe for some 33 years, presently living in Amsterdam, Holland. Mr. Murdock is here to do a memorial concert in memory of Mr. Raymond Simpson, a co-founder of the Nova Scotia Talent Trust for many years.

Mr. Murdock also has a special interest in a bill that was coming before this House and he was hoping to be able to sit in on that bill, Bill No. 17, the Adoption Information Act. I would hope that this House would give a warm welcome to Mr. Murdock and welcome him to Nova Scotia and thank him for coming to this Legislative Assembly to watch the proceedings. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I have just a few more words to say. I think I have made my point. I wanted to say a word or two about the rearrangement of government departments with the new government, the moving of Culture into the Department of Tourism. I am willing to say that I have proceeded fairly cautiously here because I think it is not necessarily a bad thing that the government did, but before I said that I wanted to find out if that is what people thought.

[8:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, my mind was set at ease somewhat by the Minister of Tourism and Culture fairly early on in this sitting when he made a statement about what culture is. Let me tell you what my problem was. My problem was that tourism is fundamentally a product. It is a market product, whether it is a bed and breakfast, whether it is a restaurant, whether it is a gift shop, whether it is cultural tourism, whether it is a summer festival, Festival Antigonish for example. Culture is not just product; culture is much broader than that. It seemed to me that when culture was associated with education, that made a huge pile of sense to me philosophically, which is maybe not what level we should be dealing on here.

The fact is that culture is a lot more than product and culture seemed to me, in my mind, to be such a nice fit with education. Education is about your culture. You get education in the cultural arts. If you have ever taught school, you know how many projects and how many school class skits never get finished, or get three-quarters finished, and they have a ball

[Page 2525]

but you never quite get it all done, then you know that culture is not just about product because what happened was more important than what came out the pipe at the other end.

I was concerned - and I have to say I don't think I had a big gang of people concerned with me, it was just me - about this shift. As I said, I was somewhat consoled by the ministerial statement in which the minister defined culture much more broadly. I want to say, though, in a perfectly polite and respectful way, that as far as I am concerned the minister is on notice about this. If culture in this province just becomes economic development - which is important - but if all it becomes is the market, then what will happen to the wonderful and amazing things, for example, the grants to the Arts Council, community cultural grants, programs in the schools and on and on? So I wanted to mention that, Mr. Speaker, because I think it is vital. I do hope the minister has the understanding about it that he seems to have, or at least somebody in his department has. I do believe, actually, that he does have it.

I have kind of gone full circle, Mr. Speaker. I am kind of back to the beginning of my remarks, because I want to talk for a minute about the struggles that women have, in my capacity as Critic for the Status of Women. When I first came to this place, that was a critic area for me. It has always been an interest of mine and I don't think it is any secret to members in this House that it has been. Then there was the time when another colleague was responsible for this and in spite of the circumstances, I was happy to see it on my list of critic areas because it is an interest and not something that I have to force myself to be interested in.

I want to end my remarks where I began. There is so much work to be done, so much understanding to be shared, so much education of men, children and women. We seem at some times, Mr. Speaker, to go in circles. We seem to go three steps forward and one step back. I have used the simple example of the population of this House because it is visible, you can count. It is a very clear measure and we are, I believe, five women in this House. There were six, the most there ever were, in the last House, and five of them were New Democratic Party women and I regret their loss, as I have said.

I think, and I am sure that many people think the same, that if we are to truly represent the women of this province, if our voices and their voices are to be heard, we have to reach what a former federal Liberal member said in a recent film, critical mass, we have to have critical mass. We have to understand men and women, that we may see the world differently. But that is the very diversity that we have to sort through and amalgamate in order to find the appropriate public policy measures that will serve families, children, parents, women with no families, women with disabilities, women of all kinds and with all kinds of challenges. Mr. Speaker, we have to understand that true equality is something that comes through the system and we are part of the system. So systematic inequality, the inequality that is soaked into the walls here, bred in the bones of some members, this is the inequality that must be fought and we have to do it together.

[Page 2526]

I cite the example of this House, as I say, only because it is highly visual and makes the point obvious. I think, Mr. Speaker, there is a great deal of work to be done and I think there is a great deal of work to be done in this House, in this culture, in the next four and one-half years, so that we can struggle towards what might be said to be a more equal and a fairer society.

It is unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, that the kind of code words, the kind of phrases that were in that Speech from the Throne, and the actions of this government since, make me worry because I don't see how we can do it if we lose our sense of community, if we lose our sense of togetherness, if we lose our joint focus on things other than the almighty dollar and we come together and we say this is what we will do for the benefit of Nova Scotians. I am still hopeful that we can do that. I hope we can. I have not given up the ship.

I look forward to continuing to work with members of all Parties, not just my own, in a struggle that I think is as important as - not more important perhaps - the battle of the budget, the battle of the deficit, the battle of the debt. Let us keep our balance in this House and in these four years let us not forget who we are. Let us remember that we are people and that we are people together in a very small province and that we should be able to make changes that benefit all. We can do them efficiently. We don't need to be wasteful, but I feel hopeful that over the course of the next four years, if we are clear and if Nova Scotians are clear, that we ought to be able to struggle and make some progress against the kinds of inequalities and I hope that this government does not lose sight of that in its headlong battle to wipe out the deficit. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Merci beaucoup, M. le Président, thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank God I don't have to call you Your Worship. Finally, I get my chance to have my response to the Speech from the Throne and my say to set the record straight in this Legislature. I know that there has been a great deal of anticipation from the Opposition benches, waiting for me to break my so-called silence. My reputation as an outspoken individual must have them confused and bewildered. Perhaps my silence was too deafening for them to deal with. But where do I begin?

Perhaps I should get the formalities out of the way first. I would like to thank the Lieutenant Governor, His Honour James Kinley, for his eloquent delivery of our Party's opening statement as the government for our beautiful Province of Nova Scotia. This may be the last Speech from the Throne that Mr. Kinley may make as our Lieutenant Governor. His tenure in this post is about to expire. The Prime Minister of Canada made a wise choice in selecting the Kinleys as our viceregal couple.

[Page 2527]

I have had the privilege on many occasions to meet His Honour, Mr. Kinley and his lovely wife, Grace, be it at the garden tea parties, New Year's Day levees, formal functions or at many other community events. They represented our Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II proudly and distinctly. I hope that they get the opportunity to host just one more New Year's Day Levee at Government House to mark the first day of the new millennium.

Secondly, I wish to congratulate you on your successful election as the MLA for the beautiful riding of Cumberland South. (Interruptions) He will be here in a second. But also on being only the second elected Speaker in this House of Assembly. Your previous career as a police officer has undoubtedly given you the skills and ability to maintain law and order in these chambers. I wish you the best of luck in your duties and endeavours.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR. HENDSBEE: Thirdly, congratulations should be extended to the three Deputy Speakers who have been selected by each of the three political Parties in the House. This is an historical occasion whereas all three political Parties are collectively cooperating with legislative functions and procedures of the House. Even though there was a deadlock between the second and third Parties as who should be classified as the Official Opposition, your decision and ruling has proven to be fruitful and productive. Perhaps the notion of having shared duties and having a Deputy Speaker designated from each Party in the House should be continued in the future, regardless of the outcome from future contested elections, by-elections or general elections.

As for the lucky designated deputies, you have at your disposal a teacher, a lawyer and a former owner of a trucking business and past municipal councillor. One could say that you have one to teach you to understand how to read the lines of parliamentary procedures, another one to interpret how to read between the lines, and the other one to keep you on track by showing what side of the line to stay on. (Applause) Best of luck to the honourable members from the constituencies of Clare, Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, and of course the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

Mr. Speaker, of course I would like to congratulate all the newly elected and returning MLAs to this Legislative Assembly. This House needs more examples of collective cooperation. I would like to suggest that as these proceedings are being broadcasted perhaps we should show the House collectively in prayer. Make it a public function and not a private ceremony. Let's be proud to pray publicly. At the inaugural meeting of the Halifax Regional Council, I interrupted the mayor and asked him that we start our meetings with a prayer. It was customarily done at the former Halifax County Council meetings and it is done at practically every public function or meeting that is held in the Black communities of Preston.

[Page 2528]

We also need to do some procedural improvements too. The repetition of redundant rhetoric is ridiculous. Maybe the ranting and the raving should be restrained to only relevant retorts. Perhaps only then will we be able to restore the respect and reputation of representation.

Mr. Speaker, we need to put provisions in our proceedings that will allow any member of this House, either a minister or a backbencher or an Opposition member to address any issue that may have a negative impact on the reputation of that member. With my experience as a Halifax Regional Municipality councillor, I know there is a rule in their Administrative Council Order that allows for more personal privilege than the rules that we follow in this House of Assembly.

As a backbencher on the government side, we cannot reply to any enquiries or accusations made during Question Period. Nor do we have a fair opportunity to report or retort any accounts that may be portrayed of us in the media. The members of this House do not and will not get a fair chance to defend ourselves if need be. Our rights and privileges of free speech have been reduced to nothing more than mere edited and at most distorted sound bites. We should have the right to make a statement in this House about any situation that is deemed to impede or interfere upon the ability of a member to do their job as an MLA or have a detrimental reflection upon this Legislative Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to turn our attention to the Robert Frost quotation about the fork in the road that was used by the Finance Minister in his Budget Address, "I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.". It can be said that my path to this Legislative Assembly has been an unusual but an anticipated journey. The question was never if but when I would get here. I am proud to say that I have finally done it. It was not easy, the path I took was the least travelled route, but I am glad that I did take the elongated passage. (Applause)

[8:30 p.m.]

Before I review my journey to this seat and thank the many people who helped me along the way, I wish to take the members of this House on an historical and geographical journey of the Preston constituency.

Back in 1749, during the early days of establishing Halifax as the centre of British forces in the New World, early grants of land were given to British soldiers, servicemen and their families. The Preston and Lawrence land grants were surveyed and named after particular servicemen. As a matter of fact, the current alignment of Highway No. 107 from Little Salmon River to Porters Lake runs exactly along that original survey grant line. But there are different interpretations that still exist today as to how vast these original grants of land actually were. Some would say the Preston grant was from the shores of Halifax Harbour

[Page 2529]

in the current Burnside area to the river in Musquodoboit Harbour; others say it was limited from the shores of Lake Banook to Porters Lake.

Regardless of the exact township boundaries, with its natural resources of forest it was quickly realized that the trees in these areas would make ideal timber for fortress construction and shipbuilding. Due to harsh seasonal conditions and coastal winds the trees did not grow as quickly as they do in other regions of the province. The slower maturation rate of these trees would give the tree grain a denser core with a thinner and tighter ring growth pattern. This enhanced the durability and strength of the timber. These forested lands became known as the Kings Woods, where the timber was destined for the exclusive use of building vessels and fortifications for the British Empire.

This area east of our harbour was also blessed with a series of lakes and rivers that could easily facilitate logging operations. Lake Micmac and Lake Banook had streams which eventually became the Shubenacadie Canal system that fed directly into the harbour. Lake Major and Little Salmon River systems fed into the next adjacent inlet, the Cole Harbour Basin, and both the Waverley-Long Lake-Salmon River-Lake Echo-Lawrencetown Lake watershed system and Porters Lake fed directly to the neighbouring ocean-front beaches. These logs would be boomed and floated into Halifax Harbour. As these areas were logged, various settlements were established. Over the ensuing centuries, several sawmill operations were established on the shores of Lake Major, Lake Echo and Porters Lake. Only recently, during the past half century, have these sawmills disappeared, but remnants of those facilities can still be found today.

As the land was cleared, roads and trail ways were built and farms were established. In fact, some of the old roads can still be traced today. The current highway trunk Routes 7 and 207 are basically the same main corridors of travel that were used back then. There were various stagecoach stops and inns along the way for the weary travellers and horses to rest. To preserve some of this heritage, the Lake Echo Lions Club has used symbols of stagecoaches and carriage horse teams as symbols for their club lapel pins. There are documented tales that Joseph Howe himself had travelled to Musquodoboit and Pictou via this way and went on a few fishing trips on the lakes in the Preston area.

The early settlers had to eke out a livelihood from living off the land. The more fertile lands in the Westphal-Cole Harbour area were reserved for the white European settlers. The Black settlers and freed slaves that came to Halifax were located out on the hills, out on the rather barren landscape. But the Black community persevered and survived these hardships.

As time passed, more communities grew and grew. The Preston Township now has the following communities within its territory: Westphal, Lake Loon, Montague Mines, Cherry Brook, Lake Major, Little Salmon River, North Preston, East Preston, Lake Echo, Mineville and Porters Lake.

[Page 2530]

Here are some more historical notes that are worth mentioning on how some of these communities got their names. Westphal derives its name from the distinguished Westphal brothers. You will find a monument marker today on Crane Hill Road that was laid by the Nova Scotia Historical Society back in 1924 that marks the birthplace of Philip Westphal, 1782 to 1880, and Sir George Westphal, 1785 to 1875, both Admirals in the British Royal Navy who were many times in action. The latter, Sir George, was wounded in the course of duty on the ship Victory at Trafalgar against the Spanish Armada. In honour of their memory, there is a school named the Admiral Westphal School in the riding of Dartmouth East and a local golf course on Crane Hill Road that uses a graphic of an Admiral as their emblem.

The communities of Montague Mines and Mineville were initially settled and got their names from early discoveries of gold. You can look at the early maps to see where gold mining claims were staked. Burrowing pits, blast holes and mining slag can still be found on various sites. Even today there is some interest by a local company, Gammon Lake Resources Limited, for mineral rights in the Mineville area.

The rural way of living is still quite prominent today. There may be fewer farms, but there are still some livestock, piggeries and farmland and woodlots that are still active in the Preston area. More and more this area is becoming a larger residential area. Today it is still mainly rural in nature but suburbia is sprawling outward.

The more populated areas are in Westphal, Montague Mines, Lake Loon and Lake Echo. There is an old subdivision known as Humber Park in Westphal which some people have nicknamed Little Newfoundland because of all the streets such as Gander, Terra Nova, Codroy, Serpentine, Rattling and Smallwood all derive their names originating from the Rock. The Westphal Trailer Court is one of the oldest mobile home parks in metro, with approximately 100 units. Its unique characteristic is the streets that have been named after trees; Apple, Birch, Cocoa, Dogwood, and Elder. The streets in the Wonderland Trailer Park in Lake Echo are labelled after the fable Snow White and some of the Seven Dwarfs, namely Doc, Sneezy, Dopey and Happy, but there is one road called Bumpy, and it is not Grumpy - it probably depicted the state of the roads at the time. This park has expanded with the extension of the Moutainview Trailer Park. There are nearly 300 mobiles situated here.

The constituency of Preston presently has four elementary schools: Humber Park, Bell Park Academic Centre, Nelson Whynder and O'Connell Drive School, which is the first P3 elementary school built in this province, and one junior high school, Graham Creighton Junior High in Cherry Brook. This area also feeds other local school facilities - Ross Road elementary and Ross Road Junior High School, Sir Robert Borden Junior High in Forest Hills, as well as Gaetz Brook Junior High in Gaetz Brook, as well, of course, the Eastern Shore District High, the home of the Schooners in Musquodoboit Harbour, Auburn Drive High School, the Home of the Eagles and Cole Harbour, as well as Cole Harbour High School, home of the Cavaliers.

[Page 2531]

Myself, Mr. Speaker, I am a product of these local schools. After moving here from Ontario some 31 years ago with my family, I grew up in the area and attended the following schools: I briefly attended Admiral Westphal before my family settled in on a short street named Nelson Drive, by Cherry Brook Road and Lake Major Road. I attended Grades 4 and 5 at William Ross, which has since closed but now is the home for the City Heights Church. I attended Grade 6 at Humber Park and then went on to Grades 7, 8 and 9 at Sir Robert Borden Junior High, before I attended my senior years of Grades 10, 11 and 12 at good old Graham Creighton High School. Now this school has been reclassified and is used as a junior high school. As the enrolments at Cole Harbour and Auburn continue to grow, I believe that some day Graham Creighton may have to be converted back to a senior high school facility.

After high school, I went on to Saint Mary's University, home of the Huskies. I am grateful that my education was in a racially integrated school system. Learning and living with different ethnic groups can only add to one's own personal growth and development. I cannot imagine anyone getting a real education these days without any cultural diversity. I am glad to see that the schools today are expanding their curriculum to include more ethnic history and literature.

Mr. Speaker, every member of this House may boast that their riding is the heart of the province, but I can say that Preston has more than a heartbeat, it has soul, both spiritually and musically. The Preston constituency is blessed with several churches. There is the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church, the East Preston United Baptist Church and the St. Thomas United Baptist Church in North Preston. These churches in the Black communities have a long and distinguished history in the African United Baptist Association of Nova Scotia. In fact, the founder of the AUBA is the legendary Reverend Richard Preston. He came from the former British Colonies, then knows as the United States, in search of his mother, Mary. Coincidentally, he eventually found her here in the Preston area.

Many would jump to the conclusion that Preston was named after him but that is not the case. He did stay and called it home and we are the benefactors today of his great work across the province in mobilizing and organizing the Black community and their churches. The church is the foundation and spiritual centre of the Black community. Their strong faith in God has seen them through many struggles and hardships. I invite everyone in this Legislature to partake in any services at an African United Baptist Church in any of the many African-Nova Scotian communities across this province. I can assure you that you will be blessed with a highly spiritual experience with great gospel singing and resounding sermons.

The Partridge River in East Preston is still used from time to time for full-body submersion baptismal services. Mr. Speaker, just recently this House of Assembly stood silent in solemn memory to the late Rev. Dr. Donald Skier. The communities of Lake Loon, Cherry Brook, East Preston and North Preston, as well as many other communities across this province, were blessed to have just a great man in our midst. For over 40 years he was the

[Page 2532]

spiritual leader and mentor to many. Hopefully history will mark and record his accomplishments as Nova Scotia's own Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mr. Speaker, there are many other churches for other congregations throughout the constituency of Preston. There is the Immanuel United Baptist Church, the City Heights Church and St. John's Anglican Church in Westphal. In fact, the old linden trees that shade and separate St. John's Church from Highway No. 7 are hundreds of years old. They began as saplings brought over from Britain back in the 1700's and are still growing today. There are several churches in the Lake Echo-Mineville area as well. There is the Lake Echo Fellowship Baptist Church, St. David's United Church, St. Augustine's Anglican Church and Ste. Anne's Catholic Church. On the Myra Road in Porters Lake, you will find the small old church known as St. Mark's.

Mr. Speaker, my constituents are also served by other churches that are found just beyond the boundaries of the Preston constituency. There is the Foundation Baptist Church that holds its services at the Porters Lake Community Centre, which in itself is an old converted one-room schoolhouse. There is the New Beginnings Baptist Church that has services at the Ross Road School. Across the street in the neighbouring constituencies of Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage and Eastern Shore, you will find the Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall; the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Forest Hills; the Church of the Latter Day Saints, the Mormon Temple, in Colby Village; as well as the Church of the Good Shepherd and the Calvin United Church in Lawrencetown; and St. Anselm's Catholic Church in the good old Acadian community of West Chezzetcook.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to highlight all the churches because early in my life, I once pondered if I should be a police officer, like yourself, or a priest or a politician. I chose the latter so that I would not have to be so innocent all the time, but I am always truthful and fair in everything I do.

Mr. Speaker, the constituency of Preston is also blessed with pristine wilderness areas. There are some ancient hemlock stands in the Lake Echo area that should be protected under the Special Places Protection Act. Recently, the previous government recognized and protected several wilderness candidate protected sites for their unique ecological features. I applaud them for this initiative. There are two such candidate sites in my area: the Clattenburg Brook and the Waverley, Long Lake, Salmon River sites that border between the constituencies of Preston and Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, as well as the Waverley Game Sanctuary.

There is a very active recreational corridor between these candidate sites that goes onward to the Halifax International Airport and to other destination points beyond the Stewiacke and Musquodoboit River valleys. The old logging and stagecoach roads are now used as recreational vehicle pathways. Motor bikes, ATVs, snowmobiles, skiers, cyclists, hikers, sport fishers, hunters and nature lovers use this area extensively.

[Page 2533]

The major access point for this area is at the head of Porters Lake at the end of Myra Road. It should be noted that Porters Lake, which is shared between the ridings of Preston and Eastern Shore, also boasts the best lake in which to angle for record-sized brown bass in this province. Bass fishing is very popular here. As well, this lake, which happens to be as long as Halifax Harbour, is one of the busiest lakes in metro for recreational boating and pleasure craft use. During the warm summer months, you will find boats of all sizes and speed as well as windsurfing, water-skiing, seadooing and parachute sailing. In the winter, it is host to ice boats, skating, cross-country skiing and numerous ice-fishing shacks.

[8:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, you and other members of this House may recall, just a few years ago, when the Metropolitan Authority, prior to amalgamation, was looking for a landfill site to deposit fly ash and other residue from a proposed incinerator. Several sites along the Eastern Shore and Preston were identified as potential sites. One particular location, known as Site H, by East Lake and Lake Williams was smack in the middle of the aforementioned candidate protected wilderness sites. I can tell you and members of this House that the mere mentioning of a landfill site will mobilize any community to stand up and be recognized, especially if the site is unsuitable for such a proposal.

People from all walks of life and backgrounds came together. There were the Porters Lake and Myra Road Wilderness Protection Association. There was C-PLOG, which is the Chezzetcook-Porters Lake Opposition Group; the SOS, Save our Shores Action Group; the Friends of the Barrens and others that collaborated and joined in with COPALS, the Coalition of People Against Landfill Sitings. Active citizens rose up and fought back and I was proud to be a part of that movement. The Liberal Government of the day wisely removed incineration as a method for solid waste management in metro and Site H was correctly removed as a potential site, due to its significant historical features and natural limitations.

It was pointed out that this particular site was in the middle of an acidic slate formation. Exposure of that material would prove to be detrimental to the watershed of the area. In fact, back in the mid-1970's, when the Halifax International Airport did some landing strip extensions, they unknowingly uncovered and disturbed this type of rock. From that construction, the run-off of rainwater made its way into the watershed. It fed down through the streams, rivers, still waters and lakes to the communities of Lake Echo, Mineville and Lawrencetown. The pH level in the water was drastically affected and the amounted of fish killed was phenomenal. Gaspereaux, trout and salmon were found floating in these waterways. Since that discovery, redeemable measures and alkaline liming of the watershed has restored the damaged fish habitats. It should be noted that one of the final issues that needed to be resolved before the federal government transferred their responsibility of Halifax International Airport over to our local authority was the concern over environmental mitigation and liability limitations.

[Page 2534]

From the midst of all that environmental commotion, it was gratifying to see that some good has come from that experience. The Porters Lake-Myra Road Wilderness Protection Association refocused its energy and started to promote alternative uses for Site H and its surrounding areas. From the research, they have raised a consciousness of the community to promote its history and natural splendour. They renovated a derelict community building, The Old Hall, and refurbished it into a living community museum and display centre. The work of this group resonates from the determination of one particular individual - Mrs. Margaret Blumsum. Her love, dedication and commitment to the community is unsurpassed. She could not idly stand by and see the beauty of the Upper Porters Lake area be abused and wasted as a solid waste facility. Thank goodness for us she decided to fight back.

Mr. Speaker, there are a few other people and businesses from the Preston constituency that I would like to highlight at this time. While the constituency of Preston does not have very many businesses, nor a large commercial base, there are several small businesses supporting our communities, several of which I would like to highlight now. Ann and Earl Ernst, years ago, started a farm market and vegetable stand operation. This was a major employer for the area. I was their neighbour and newspaper boy, babysitter and friend of the family. When the City of Dartmouth claimed the watershed of Lake Major back in the 1970's, the Ernsts took the buyout and converted their farmland and woodlots into the Grandview Golf and Country Club, now in their 12th year of operation. It has been publicly disclosed that I am a limited shareholder, with only 10 years left in my golfing privileges. I have not had many chances to play in the last number of years. I will tell you why later.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber. The honourable member for Preston has the floor. (Applause)

MR. HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, I would also like to tell you about Mr. Wilfred Simmons from North Preston. He is a very accomplished businessman, family man and a senior deacon in his church. He and his sons have operated Simmons Paving for decades. His workmanship is his word and trademark. You cannot get a better job done elsewhere.

There is the matriarch of North Preston - Mrs. Noreen Smith. I consider her one of my closest advisors on any situation that arises in the community. I cannot imagine any MLA not having her as their counsel. She always speaks the truth on all the matters.

Then in Lake Echo there is a Mr. Lou Boulet. I call him one of the pioneers and builders of Lake Echo. His stonework stands the test of time. Without him Lake Eco would not have prospered as it has.

Another Lake Echo couple I would like to talk about is Donny and Brenda King. They own Basin Stationery Supplies here in Halifax. These two people have given so much time, energy and devotion to their community.

[Page 2535]

If I may, Mr. Speaker, there is one more gentleman from Lake Echo that I must feel compelled to mention - Mr. Lou Burns. He is now retired, but he himself is an institution. As a former hockey and baseball coach he has taught many kids about good sportsmanship. If it was not for him, the ballfields in Lake Echo would never have been kept in such great condition. Through his fine art they always look pampered and manicured.

Mr. Speaker, you might not know that we only have one Tim Hortons outlet, but it has to be one of the busiest venues in the province. The owner is Mr. Stephen Breed from Porters Lake. Another renowned eating establishment is Hungry Jack's. Its owner, John Helmkay, is from Humber Park. Hungry Jack's is the home of the infamous Burger Poll that has been successfully accurate in predicting every election they polled. It won every time practically.

Another eating establishment and watering hole is the Sandtrap Bar & Grill and Par T-Golf. Indoor golfing is available year-round and they have a large TV screen for various sports shows. The place is packed to capacity to cheer on local heroes such as Olympians, Peter and Steve Giles, paddlers from the Orenda Canoe Club in Lake Echo, and Kirk Johnson, a world ranked heavyweight boxing contender from North Preston. The owner of this establishment, Mr. Chris Moore, and their resident sports trivia expert, Skip "the Blade" Holman, are both constituents of Preston.

If I may, I would like to highlight a few more constituents - Mr. and Mrs. Robert and Hilda Rowlings of Porters Lake. Hilda once operated a very successful home-cleaning business before she sold it and Robert used to work at the Volvo plant before it closed. Now, together, they have opened a new business venture - The Lake and Shore Family Restaurant and Laundromat. There is Mr. Chris Boone and his family also from Porters Lake that operate Day Nite Signs in Woodside. Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the great contributions made by Mr. and Mrs. Wayne and Ruth Drew. They both may be retired now, but they are the quiescent organizers for many Porters Lake functions. I cannot imagine what the community of Porters Lake would be if they were not involved. I wish them and all of the businesses in Preston the best of success with their enterprises. I am sure that all of them can give their own first-hand accounts of bureaucratic nightmares when dealing with various government departments and I will be encouraging them all to make submissions to our red tape commissioner.

The Preston constituency is also served by many community organizations. You will find The Royal Canadian Legion No.160 Centennial Branch at Lake Loon and Branch No.161 Eastern Marine in Gaetz Brook which happens to be located in the Eastern Shore. We also have three Lions Clubs in the area that serve the Preston constituency. The clubs of Cole Harbour, Preston and Lake Echo have provided a great public service to the communities that they serve. We have two food banks, the Lake Echo Food Bank and the St. John's Food bank at Lake Major Road plus many other church organizations to help those in need. We also have five day care centres, two public and three private facilities.

[Page 2536]

Here are a few other community groups, such as the two Army Cadet Corps that serve parts of the Preston constituency - the Army Cadet Corps No. 117 and No. 2741, under the instructions of Mark Johnson and Marilyn Hicks. I would like to thank them for their dedication in training young people and teaching them about respect and discipline. There are also various Boy Scouts and Girl Guide troops organized throughout the riding as well as several seniors clubs that are active in the Preston constituency. They can be found in the communities of Porters Lake, Lake Echo, East Preston, North Preston and Cherry Brook-Lake Loon.

But we are still in need of recreational facilities for our young and senior citizens and the community as a whole, primarily in Porters Lake, North Preston and Cherry Brook-Lake Loon. Mr. Speaker,

Mr. Speaker, I have already mentioned the roles that the church has in the Black community. Several people who are making their marks outside the church. Their talents are being recognized beyond the choir loft and altar benches. From their church roots, the Gospel Heirs from North Preston have been singing God's praises for 21 years, and they have two CDS out and are preparing a third one now for release soon. Their lead singer, Wallace Smith, Sr., has just been ordained as a Baptist Church Minister on Saturday, October 30th and is now preaching in Truro at the Zion Baptist Church.

Another rising star is from the Cherry Brook area, Jeremiah Sparks. His CD, Let go, Let God is reaching high on the radio gospel charts. Jeremiah has recently been the recipient of a few awards at the second annual ANSMA ceremonies, that is the African-Nova Scotia Music Awards. His younger brother, Jamie Sparks and his sister, Carrie Sparks are also very talented musicians and have their own CDS out in the market place.

The Sparks family is not the only talented musical family in the area. There is the Colley family with father Joe, mother Lelia and young son Shane who are becoming quite popular, no matter where they play. Another great R & B guitarist is Carson Downey and his band, the Big City Blues Band. They are a very popular band and bring down the house no matter where they play and any time they play.

Another talented individual who hails from Lake Loon is Delvina Bernard. She is a member of the popular a cappella group and recording artists, Four the Moment. Another-up and-coming star will be Marko Simmonds from North Preston, who at a very young age is an accomplished classical pianist. He has already appeared on the television series, Touched by an Angel.

Another group that deserves mentioning is the Nova Scotia Mass Choir, a multicultural, multiracial singing group that has performed all over this province and this country, as well as in the United States. They performed recently at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Anniversary March in Washington, D. C. The Mass Choir now has two CDs out. CBC Radio has also

[Page 2537]

acknowledged the talent pool and cultural richness of the Black community. The compilation CD of old folklore and spiritual recordings coupled with current renditions of these old songs are highlighted on a double CD package: Lord, You Brought Me a Mighty Long Way.

Mr. Speaker, we all know the great success of Celtic musicians from Cape Breton. Their culture is the foundation of their talent. The Nova Scotia Black community is now on the verge of breaking through at the same level. Even the East Coast Music Awards are now having a permanent Black Vibes showcase during their annual award shows and festivities.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to go from the music scene to some cultural institutions in the Preston constituency, namely the Nova Scotia Black Cultural Centre, the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children, and the Preston Area Housing Fund. The Black Cultural Society has been around now for 16 years, and they built a centre at the corner of Cherry Brook Road and Highway No. 7, 12 years ago.

Mr. Speaker, as a kid I used to play many games of baseball, football and hide-and-seek in this very field. I can still remember the day they broke the ground for this magnificent centre. As a museum, it houses many artefacts and displays that tell the tale of Black immigration to this province. Their current curator, Mr. Henry Bishop, should be congratulated for his efforts of bringing the broader community at large into the centre. It has become a venue of cultural shows and special functions. It is the hope of the Black Cultural Centre that this facility will expand and add a performance auditorium to its building.

Across the street from the Black Cultural Centre is the grounds of the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children. This institution has been in existence for 78 years. Their original building is now in a dilapidated sate, but there are plans to restore the original structure of this heritage site. As well there are proposals to develop the surrounding grounds into outdoor recreational facilities and sports fields. These plans only rival the recreational grounds that are now available on the Halifax Commons. As the urban sprawl continues to stretch out along the eastern region of Halifax Harbour, there will be such a need for recreational and leisure facilities. Hopefully, the Halifax Regional Municipality, the province and the home can come to some mutual arrangement that will be beneficial for all.

On a commercial note, I wish to promote the upcoming 68th Annual Appeal for Funds for the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children. The telecast will be on Sunday, December 12th, on Shaw Cable, Channel 10. I ask each and every member of this House to make a pledge and please give generously to this worthy cause.

[9:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I wish to recognize the Preston Area Housing Fund. They have been in operation for more than 25 years in bringing affordable housing to the greater Preston communities. As the former municipal councillor, I have been on the board of directors of the

[Page 2538]

housing fund for six years. I intend to reintroduce legislation that will see the restructuring of the board and bring on more citizen representation from the communities of East Preston, Cherry Brook and Lake Loon. Hopefully, with the cooperation of the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs, the Crown land holdings in the Lake Eagle area of East Preston can be utilized to provide more building lots for the community to expand. We also need to have more emphasis on the quieting of titles because the bulk of the land in North Preston is designated under the land clarification Act. This has inhibited the wishes of many families to subdivide property so their siblings can build their own homes in their own community.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a comment on one particular opportunity that ought to get the full support and encouragement of a business venture in the North Preston area. Mr. Ivan Willis and his daughter Sherry have been trying very hard to open Preston Quarry Inc. This is a C & D debris reclamation site and also has future plans to include a quarry and asphalt plant. HRM and the Department of the Environment and the Black Business Initiative should find ways to remove some of the bureaucratic obstacles they have been encountering. It is ironic that the early Black settlers were outcast on this barren, rocky terrain, but here is a chance for this same hard ground to be turned into a lucrative venture.

Another issue is the off-road dumping, a major problem that affects all parts of our beloved province. Recently, the Department of the Environment has identified 55 sites in HRM, 15 of which are in the District 3 area of HRM and eight of those are in the Preston constituency. I took two members of the Environmental Youth Corps on tour and gave them a detailed map and showed them exactly where these 15 sites in District 3 were.

As the county councillor, I took the initiative to organize several clean-up work programs. But wasn't it ironic that the MLA at the time was the Environment Minister and it is a shame he didn't help out. I had over 300 appliances collected and over six trailer loads of crushed derelict vehicles removed from various dump sites that were littered throughout the constituency and there are plenty more sites that need to be addressed and cleaned up.

There are plenty of other issues that I wish to speak about, but I will keep those for another day. However, I must compliment and commend the good people of Preston on how well they respond to adversity. Far too many times there have been negative aspersions cast upon the community. From controversies such as the Cole Harbour High School incident to the North Preston stand-off and to the Halifax Task Force on Prostitution Prosecutions, the community of Preston fought back to restore its integrity and self-esteem. It is said that the Chinese use the same symbol to describe crisis and opportunity. From various community crises, the citizens of Preston have risen up to meet the challenge and made the best of these opportunities.

[Page 2539]

These experiences have made it possible for better cooperation between the community and the RCMP. We have been able to foster greater ties of trust and respect. We have seen the establishment of a community police office in the Preston area, as well as in Eastern Passage and Lake Echo. There are more people involved with the Citizens on Patrol and Neighbourhood Watch programs and the RCMP Community Constable Program has made tremendous strides for all involved. Congratulations should be extended to the RCMP H Division in Halifax and their detachment in Cole Harbour. They extended the long arm of the law and they held out a helping hand.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to talk about my own political background. It is quite a story in itself and perhaps I should write a book or two about my experiences. I used to be a newspaper boy for the Lake Major-Cherry Brook area. I used to deliver news, but, since then, I have made the news. (Applause)

It started back in high school in 1977 when I became the class rep to the Graham Creighton High School Student Council. In 1978, I also helped a friend get elected student council president. That same person, Clifford "Kip" Walker, Jr., got me involved in the 1978 provincial electoral campaign for the new riding of Cole Harbour. Mr. David Nantes was the PC candidate and Mr. Peter Sawler was the Liberal candidate, who happened to be a newspaper customer of mine. As a side note, Mr. Sawler and his family established Major Gardens which was a significant greenhouse and garden centre operation for many years. Since that time Mr. Sawler has moved on to Mabou, Cape Breton, and started Mabou Gardens, which is still in operation today.

Back then, as a newly-licensed driver who had just graduated from my high school driving class, I drove Mr. Nantes's cream-coloured Cougar XR7 during many campaign parades. I also did signs, knocked on the doors and organized youth functions and campaign events. Mr. Nantes and the PCs were quite successful in 1978, 1981, 1984 and 1988.

My family moved from the constituency of Cole Harbour and went to the riding of Eastern Shore, and lived in Porters Lake, in 1982. Mr. Tom McInnis was the MLA. I became very active on the Eastern Shore PC Executive after I finished my university education. While attending university I got involved in student politics and gained a greater education than that derived from any textbook. At SMU I was Commerce Student Rep in 1982 and a class valedictorian. In 1983 and 1984 I served as Student President. I lobbied the government then as a member of the Student Union of Nova Scotia about tuition fees and university restructuring of programs. Even back then I gained quite a reputation as a student politician.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There are conversations going on in this room that are louder than the honourable member for Preston is having. If you can't keep it down to a dull roar, I would appreciate it if you would take the conversations outside the Chamber, please. (Applause)

[Page 2540]

MR. HENDSBEE: Back then the Saint Mary's University student newspaper, The Journal, depicted me in many Marbles Cartoons. That was just the beginning of many more cartoons to come from The Chronicle-Herald, The Daily News and, of course, The Coast. I think I am going to miss being depicted in Walter's World.

From 1978 to 1989 I was involved in the PC Youth movement and worked on many metro campaigns. From 1989 to 1992 I served as Executive Assistant to Tom McInnis who served this province as the Attorney General, the Minister of Economic Development and Deputy Premier. This experience opened my eyes to the bureaucracy of government.

In 1992 I was involved in an innocent incident that got blown totally out of proportion due to nothing more than mere political opportunism. The issue was the infamous vendor's tax list information for fund-raising purposes. I guess you could say that I am a freedom of information expert, and the whole ordeal is well documented in Hansard. The Opposition tried to paint me as a political scapegoat and a fall guy for someone else. I did not cover up for anyone; it was my own idea, my own actions. I did the honourable thing and voluntarily resigned as an EA in case there was a chance of any wrongdoing. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, what is so confidential about a business name and a mailing address? There is more information in the Registry of Joint Stocks or in the Yellow Pages of any phone directory.

This House, and especially the Opposition, owe Mr. Bob Khan an apology for putting him, a civil servant, through a rigorous and frustrating court case. In the end he was charged a nominal $100 fine. Later he won his appeal and was fully reinstated in his position in the Civil Service. I am sorry that Bob Khan and his family had to go through all that hassle for nothing more than a virtual political tit for tat.

As for the then Premier, Mr. Don Cameron, he was right to establish a riding to concentrate the Black population into one constituency, but he was wrong to exclude the democratic rights of everyone in that Preston riding to choose their own candidate. I would not allow him to do this to Preston nor shoudl any riding be stereotyped or segregated. I guess that is where my political reputation as a fighter, a rebel, a maverick began. His excuse of excluding me because of my involvement in helping the PC Party with a fund-raising campaign was unreasonable but that was his so-called prerogative.

There are some people I would like to publicly acknowledge and thank for their contributions and efforts in getting me elected. First of all, I should go back to my 1993 campaign team: Mr. Brian Veitch of Lake Echo was my manager; Mrs. Sandra Roman was my fund-raising chairperson advisor; Mrs. Twila Grosse of Cherry Brook was my official agent; Dena and Reg Thompson, were my computer data specialists; and, of course, Mr. Wade White, my sign man.

[Page 2541]

Back in 1993, I did not need Mr. Cameron's consent nor his signature. More important were the signatures of 11 constituents who did sign my nomination papers. I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to the late Mr. Jim Beals of Cherry Brook and Mr. Arnold Johnson of North Preston, who happens to be a former Halifax County Councillor for District 8, who stood with me and signed my nomination papers. But in the long run, it was probably the best that events occurred as they did. Mr. Wayne Adams became the first Black MLA and his picture is proudly displayed in these Chambers. (Applause)

There were many comments about my participation and probably people can read for yourself some of the editorials by Mr. Charles Saunders in his book Black and Bluenose, which is available in the library. I can honestly say my participation legitimized Mr. Adam's election as a bona fide victory. If not, some would say it was artificially induced. In 1998, Preston was represented by Yvonne Atwell, the first Black woman MLA to be elected in Nova Scotia. (Applause) Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, her picture, too, should hang in these galleries.

Posterity has been achieved. History has been made but many expectations were not achieved. They, the previous MLAs have talked the talk, but could not walk the walk. Now this home boy has been called upon to bring prosperity to the Prestons. I hope I can deliver on the faith that the constituents of Preston have put in me. In the brief history of the riding of Preston, they have voted for all three political Parties. They have voted a Liberal, New Democratic Party and Progressive Conservative MLA. Perhaps they kept the best for last. (Applause)

Coincidentally I was nominated to be the first candidate for the Progressive Conservative Party, if not the first of any political Party in the entire province for the July 27, 1999 election. I was nominated back on December 10, 1998 which is also known as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Mr. Speaker, the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a role model of mine and he once said that we should not be judged by the colour of our skin but the content of our character. I can only hope that I will be judged fairly by my efforts as an MLA for the entire constituency.

I would like to quote my predecessor, Miss Yvonne Atwell, from her inaugural Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne back on Tuesday, May 26, 1997. She said, "I want to clearly point out that I fully recognize and accept the fact that my community is very diverse. Unlike previous politicians, I intend to represent the interests of all my constituents. There will be no group within the Preston riding who shall remain without a champion or who will remain voiceless. Unlike previous politicians in the Prestons, who have turned a deaf ear to my community, I intend to represent all of the people in my riding.".

I could not have said it any better myself. Mr. Speaker, it is quite obvious that I am not of African descent. But the African culture has had a profound impact on my life. My skin may not be black but I am proud to publicly display my affiliation and affection for my

[Page 2542]

African-Nova Scotian constituents. I wear the Kente Ceremonial cloth at all special occasions and functions inside or outside the Preston constituency. My wish is that items such as this with significant cultural importance should be permitted to be worn in these Chambers during auspicious ceremonies such as Throne Speeches.

I went on and ran for the vacant county seat for District 8, that Wayne Adams had held for 12 years. From that time, I went through five election campaigns in six years. As you can see, I had no time for golfing.

In 1993, I ran as an Independent candidate and came a close second, only 491 votes from winning this seat in the midst of a big Liberal landslide. In 1993, I ran in the Halifax County by-election for District 8 and won. In 1994, I ran in the Halifax County general election for District 8 and won. In 1995, I ran in the amalgamated election for HRM for District 3 and won. Luckily for Yvonne Atwell, I decided not to run in the 1998 provincial election. After the minority election of 1998, I announced my candidacy, the return of the political prodigal son. The once cast away stone had become the cornerstone for this Party. I was the first to be nominated, and I am glad to see my other colleagues here to join me. In 1999, as the Progressive Conservative candidate, I beat Yvonne Atwell for the second time. On election night, I said that my victory was both a vindication and a validation for me.

[9:15 p.m.]

I have proven to my soothsayers and critics that I was too legit to quit. My six years of municipal experience were invaluable. While serving on that council, Halifax Regional Municipality went through a program and service review to re-evaluate which programs and communities the municipality should be providing. From that exercise, we hear they have turned the corner and went from a $20 million deficit to a projected $5 million surplus in just two years.

I am confident that we, as the Government of Nova Scotia, will reap the same type of results when we do our provincial program review. My time at Halifax Regional Municipality has helped me to mature and have a greater appreciation for public service. I share some fraternity affiliation with 14 municipal colleagues in this House. Perhaps I can call them my kindred spirits.

The five members from the Opposition with municipal experience are from Cape Breton The Lakes, Cape Breton South, Halifax Chebucto, Dartmouth North and Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. I have also been joined by nine members on the government benches; they are from Annapolis, Sackville-Beaver Bank, Yarmouth, Kings South, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, Eastern Store, Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, Chester-St. Margaret's and Bedford-Fall River.

[Page 2543]

Mr. Speaker, I have more than just a municipal affiliation with some of the members of this House. I am no stranger to many of them, past and present, who have served in this Legislature. For example, the previous member for Dartmouth South, Dr. John Savage, was a Sunday school teacher of mine. The member for Dartmouth East, his sister is a constituent of mine in Lake Echo. The member for Cape Breton East, his sister-in-law and her husband live in my riding of Lake Echo. The member for Halifax Atlantic, when I was an EA, I worked with his wife while she was at Victim Services at the Attorney General's Department.

The member for Cape Breton North, as a Halifax County and Halifax Regional Municipality Councillor, I worked with his brilliant brother who happens to be one of the municipality's leading administrators. The member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, I am a former colleague of his father, Eugene "Jeep" Deveaux, who has served in the Halifax County for many years as a municipal councillor, and I went to school with his older sister, Janine from junior high right on through to my graduation from high school.

My dear friend from Halifax Chebucto, he knows full well that I am not a no-name, no-talent nobody. (Applause) The member for Timberlea-Prospect was also a fellow Lion member. From Yarmouth, his son Mark Hurlburt, he and I were involved in the PC Youth Movement many years ago. The member for Sackville-Beaver Bank is another colleague of mine from the Halifax County and Halifax Regional Municipality Council days.

My friend from the Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, another Halifax County colleague and a good political friend. Lastly, from the Eastern Shore, what can I say about my municipal colleague and personal friend. We have worked and walked on many political campaigns together and I hope to do quite a few more in the future with him. Whereas some of the other members probably have heard of me through various media accounts, my notoriety superseded me here.

But now to my 1999 campaign team, Mr. Greg Brown, my campaign manager; Cindy Brown, my official agent; Dena and Reg Thompson, my computer experts, again; and to Kerry O'Hearn, my fund-raising chairperson. And a host of other workers, especially my drivers who drove me every day to pound the pavement. To Cathy MacDonald, Kevin Mason, Calvin Prior, Lionel MacCormick, Gordie White, Vincent Dempsey and Davey Townsend, thanks for pushing me and keeping me going.

And to all the officer workers who were on the phones. Thanks again to Cathy MacDonald, Marilyn Dempsey, Cheryl White, Joanne Conrod, Liz Trelean, Carolena Danderand, Barb LaPierre, Patricia Baker, Glenn Cain, Vivian Cain and many others who got the vote out, even though I probably had the lowest total of 1,800 votes to win an election in this Legislature. Thank goodness our current Progressive Conservative Leader, Dr. John Hamm, is more open to allowing the constituency to decide their respective candidates and allows us to speak openly and freely on any legislation. I can assure all honourable members

[Page 2544]

of this House that my voice, the elected official of the constituency of Preston will be heard loud and clear. (Applause)

But most of all to my family, my brothers and sister and my mother and my new stepfather. I lost my own father in 1997 to ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease, the night of the federal election. To deal with my grief, I jokingly said that my dad could not believe another federal Liberal Government was elected and especially could not bear the reality of having an NDPer as an MP. I can remember back in 1995 when my father's right hand and arm were starting to feel the afflictions of lost muscle control due to the ALS disease, he would struggle to keep a hammer in his hand to pound the nails in my signs. He would never give up. I can only hope and pray that I can do him proud.

Speaking of my father, I should point out that the Hendsbee name is quite prominent in Guysborough County, especially around the communities of Half Island Cove and Queensport. My mother is an O'Neil who hails from Mattie Settlement which is a small rural community just outside of Mulgrave. Just a few years ago this community decided to be annexed by Antigonish County since all the municipal services and their sense of community identity had stronger affiliations with Tracadie and Monastery. As kids, we would spend many summer vacations at my father's homestead in Sand Point just outside Mulgrave on the Strait of Canso. Every day I would look across the Strait and see the beautiful rugged shorelines of Richmond County and I would wonder what kind of people lived there. Now as I look across this Chamber, hopefully, this is not a representative sample.

Mr. Speaker, my Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne has touched basically six themes throughout the speech: building on strong values, building a healthier province, rebuilding our economy, building our human potential, building better government and building the future. I wish to conclude by saying that I am deeply honoured to have been elected to this Legislature. Being a part of this new government with a strong leadership and a clear course means that there is a new horizon, a new day, a new era for a new Nova Scotia as we go forth into a new millennium. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I must say that it is going to be hard to follow the member for Preston.

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by saying it is true that life is full of mysteries and that you never know what is going to happen from one day to the next. I want to say this because back in the days of my youth, politics was as removed from my mind as becoming a football player with the Toronto Argonauts, neither was a reality. As you can see, I did not make it to the Toronto Argonauts but instead I have been drafted to the provincial Legislature. (Applause) I am here for how long I do not know. My fate is in the hands of the Dartmouth North voters.

[Page 2545]

Mr. Speaker, I did not get the opportunity to respond to the Speech from the Throne at the 57th General Assembly so it is indeed a tremendous honour to be here today at the 58th sitting of the provincial Legislature. I cannot fully express my gratitude towards the voters of the constituency of Dartmouth North. The privilege they have afforded me in making me their elected official and allowing me the opportunity to partake in the act of government can only be repaid with hard work and determination and that they can be assured I will do.

I want to begin by extending to you, Mr. Speaker, congratulations on being elected to this Legislative Assembly and also as the Speaker of this Legislative Assembly. Indeed, it must be an honour and I know you will endeavour to carry out the proud tradition of this House to uphold the rules of order and procedure in a fair and impartial manner. I also want to extend the very same congratulations to each of the Deputy House Speakers.

Mr. Speaker, I extend my congratulations to all members of the Legislative Assembly. We represent different political Parties, each with different ideologies, solutions and agendas. These differences at times can divide, but they just as easily can work to remind or enlighten us to other perspectives that we otherwise would not consider. With this understanding we should also remain constantly aware of whom we are here to serve; we have been elected to work in the best interests of all Nova Scotians. I would go so far as to suggest that if we forget this small, but important, fact then we have failed in our task and all Nova Scotians will be the worse for it.

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not recognize the other candidates who ran for this legislative seat. First, in the 1998 campaign: to Gloria McCluskey who ran for the Liberal Party, I understand she now has lots of time to practice her golf strokes, and here's hoping she gets a hole-in-one; to Michael Brownlow who ran for the Conservative Party, I wish him the best of luck in his future political ambitions, but just don't run in Dartmouth North; and now, in the 1999 campaign: to Frank Cameron for the Liberal Party, it is a pleasure to hear his voice back on the radio, and I believe that that is where it should stay; to Jane MacKay of the Conservatives, all the best in whatever she does; and to Susan Livingstone of the Nova Scotia Party, better luck the next time, but not enough to win.

Seriously, Mr. Speaker, all these candidates believed in putting up or shutting up. They were not armchair politicians, and we all know what an armchair politician is. They are the ones who will have all the answers to all the issues, but never offer themselves for public office. To Gloria, to Michael, to Frank, to Jane and to Susan, I say thank you for taking part in the democratic process. (Applause.)

Mr. Speaker, I am going to be a bit parochial here, in recognizing members of my Party who served in the 57th Legislative Assembly and are not with us today. They are Yvonne Atwell, Helen MacDonald, John Deveau, Charlie Parker, Hinrich Bitter-Suermann, Don Chard, Peter Delefes and Rosemary Godin. I want them to know that my evaluation of their

[Page 2546]

performances while in this Legislative Assembly is that they served Nova Scotians well. (Applause.)

I am particularly proud that they have chosen to run as New Democrats because I feel that it is important to align oneself with a Party that will tell the truth to Nova Scotians during an election campaign, however unpopular that decision might be. Mr. Speaker, I am constantly reminded of the old phrase: you can tell a lie and a truth at the same time and the lie will be halfway around the world before the truth gets started. That is why our Party campaigned on five issues instead of 243 promises. Also, we knew, and we said all along, what we believed was the state of the province's finances; we chose not to disillusion Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, there are times when I believe some members of the public have no concept of what it is to involve a family member of a politician; therefore I would like to take this special opportunity to single out some very special persons to thank. First my wife, Marian, who has been my partner in every one of my challenges, and I must tell you some of those challenges were not easy but she maintained her sanity through it all. To my two sons, Jerry W. and Bradley J.W., I thank them for the understanding of my commitment to political life and why perhaps there were times when I could not be with them.

[9:30 p.m.]

There are, of course, my mother, brothers and sisters, all who have contributed to my involvement in both my municipal and provincial election campaigns. Mr. Speaker, it has been said that because I come from a large family that I have already had a campaign team before an election is called. Let there be no doubt that this is true, and they constantly worked diligently on every one of those campaigns.

Mr. Speaker, I want to mention briefly my birthplace, Ecum Secum, which is a small fishing village that straddles the Halifax-Guysborough County line. I am told the name of the village is derived from the Mi'kmaq language and there are several different versions of its meaning. I am not about to speculate as to what the true meaning might be. However, I do know that most sport fishing enthusiasts know the Ecum Secum river as an excellent place to catch salmon and trout. If stories need be told, this truly is the place where the big one got away.

The hard-working people of Ecum Secum instilled within me the importance of compassion, consideration for others, cooperation and understanding. This close-knit community knew the importance of the phrase, we are our brothers' keeper, and I might also add our sisters'. Like most small coastal communities, they knew the meaning of hard times, they knew the importance of sticking together - back then it was a means of survival.

[Page 2547]

Mr. Speaker, I have kept their philosophy with me always and it has helped me shape the political life that I so richly enjoy and in part the political Party that I became part of.

I want to give special recognition to others responsible for setting me on the correct political path - Mr. Peter Kidd, an educator; Mr. Chester Sanford, a former Alderman and former City of Dartmouth member of Council and his wife Marie were influential in my becoming a New Democrat. Their influences directed me to the path that has allowed me to be a part of this moment of Nova Scotia's political history. There are, of course, Mr. Kell Antoft, co-author of Local Government in Nova Scotia, and the late Allan O'Brien, former Alderman and past Mayor of the former City of Halifax. These gentlemen were responsible for much of my education on how local governments should work.

Mr. Speaker, most importantly I wish to thank the team of dedicated campaign workers because without their support it is impossible for any one of us to reach this Legislative Assembly. I further extend thanks to all the citizens of Dartmouth North who have offered their continuous support and worked so hard on my behalf over the years to elect me first as their Alderman for 11 years, until of course municipal amalgamation, which I did not support and was the reason for not re-offering for municipal politics.

Mr. Speaker, now the citizens of Dartmouth North have given me yet another opportunity to represent them, this time as a New Democrat member of this Legislative Assembly. I am truly overwhelmed, humbled by their confidence in me, and I will attempt to do my best for them and, by doing so, live up to their expectations.

Mr. Speaker, I want to briefly speak talk about municipal amalgamation which was brought forward by the former Liberal Government. This action took the City of Dartmouth from its citizens and, without allowing them the right to vote on whether they wanted to be part of an amalgamated municipality, relegated their city back to its former community status. Many Dartmouthians consider this a 54 year reversal of history, when prior to the construction of the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge, the City of Dartmouth was known as the bedroom community of Halifax.

The citizens of Dartmouth to this day are not happy with the former Liberal Government's underhanded approach to municipal amalgamation. This should stand as a beacon to all governments and all politicians on how important it is to seek public consultation on matters affecting the lives of their citizens and their communities. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the public consultation process, albeit late for the citizens of the Halifax Regional Municipality, and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is now enshrined in the new Municipal Act for future municipalities considering amalgamation. Since amalgamation, the citizens of Dartmouth will have seen the loss of their museum, police station, reduced police services, reduction in library services, greater increases in user fees to recreational services such as ball fields, soccer fields and arenas.

[Page 2548]

I just want to harken back to a few months ago when I attended a Sport Nova Scotia Annual Awards Night. On each table was a fund-raising card by KidSport. On that card it stated that 44,000 Nova Scotian children lived below the poverty line. Not knowing what the definition of a child might be, I called Statistics Canada and was told the definition of a child is a person from birth to age 14 and that there were 176,000 children living in Nova Scotia. That, my friends, is 24 per cent of Nova Scotia's child population who cannot play organized sports because they are too poor. Colleagues, we all know the downside of this action. More jails and more youth correctional facilities.

Then there is the constant increase in public transit fares, while at the same time users of the service are experiencing route reductions. Public transit has progressively gotten worse since the demise of the Metropolitan Authority. I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that the Metropolitan Authority had an important role to play because it had a cost-sharing formula where the monies that came through the fare box, the provincial and municipal governments cost-shared to make sure that public transit was, in fact, a usable service. This kind of service would be at least, accessible, to all and most Nova Scotians, particularly in the metropolitan area.

Mr. Speaker, amalgamation has not been good for the citizens of Dartmouth. Four years later and they are still waiting to see the benefits. Why? I hear now that what was touted to be the panacea of economic ills of the individual municipalities, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality will have close to a $5 million to $10 million deficit this year. That is part of a problem that this provincial government is going to have to deal with and possibly come to rescue.

Mr. Speaker, I want to speak about the different types of communities, organizations and agencies that are within the boundaries of the Dartmouth North constituency. For example, Dartmouth North is the home of the largest industrial park east of Montreal, known as the Burnside Industrial and Business Park. For many years, the Burnside Industrial Park concentrated primarily on attracting industrial business to the park. However, during the last 15 years emphasis has been placed on bringing major businesses to the park.

Today Burnside Industrial and Business Park is the home of over 1,500 companies, employing over 17,000 people from as far away as Truro. A town and a community within itself. The park is a major tax contributor, both in real property tax, business occupancy tax to the Halifax Regional Municipality, as well as sales and personal income tax to the provincial coffers. Today Burnside can boast about its beautiful park which is placed in a campus like setting, and through its development has protected the environment. The most recent example is the 1997 Nova Scotia Environmental Assessment Board's award of a plaque to Refrigerant Services Inc., 75 Akerley Blvd.

[Page 2549]

The Burnside Park can boast about offering the people employed there walking trails, look-off points, picnic areas and two beautiful lakes, Frenchman Lake and Spectacle Lake. I am told that these are the only two remaining lakes in Dartmouth where wild trout still exist.

Mr. Speaker, the National Gypsum facilities are located on the Bedford Basin in Dartmouth North. One can watch hundreds of thousands of tons of natural resource hauled by rail through our community, only to be transported by ships to a destination in the United States and then come back as a manufactured good known as gyproc, a building product. Many citizens wonder why this product cannot be produced here, putting many Nova Scotians to work, a value-added resource, I might say. Also, they wonder how many natural resources come north from the border of the United States to be made as a consumer good and sold in this country. This has been a serious issue with many residents of Dartmouth North and, hopefully, this new government will look at the resources that we have available in this province and will, in fact, take advantage of the kind of resources we have to employ more people to make this economy flow.

Mr. Speaker, Dartmouth North is the home of the Tufts Cove Power Generating Plant. This power plant serves all Nova Scotians through its power grid and, also, supplies New Brunswick with energy back-up during peak times of the year. For many years, the citizens of the community tolerated the particulate emissions that emanated from the plant into their homes and their properties as a result of burning coal and crude oil. The residents never received compensation from N.S. Power for the damages this plant has caused to their homes and properties. There could have easily been a reduced power rate offered as a host community. Suffice it to say that the Tufts Cove citizens can hardly wait for natural gas to be flowing from offshore. The generating plant has been converted over to the usage of natural gas and that will mean a much cleaner burning fuel than the coal or crude oil. This, they believe, will have a significant, positive impact upon their community.

Mr. Speaker, Dartmouth North is also the home of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography. This internationally recognized research centre works in cooperation with universities of our province to seek out new and innovative solutions to increasing numbers of marine problems currently facing our Maritime industries. The Bedford Institute of Oceanography has also provided essential research, which has assisted in the management of coastal resources and illuminated the plight of our offshore cod fisheries. The institute has been an invaluable resource for many sectors of our society and a necessity for oceanic studies in our global community.

Mr. Speaker, it is fair to say that the citizens of Dartmouth North have done more than their fair share of supporting business development for their city and for their province. Often, I have heard members, particularly during the debate of the jail and forensic hospital, saying to the residents, and the residents of Dartmouth North have taken much criticism in respect to, do they not want to have jobs? Are they not interested in job opportunities for people and so on? I want to tell you that many of the residents of Dartmouth North have felt slighted by

[Page 2550]

that because they certainly do contribute in an enormous way to the tax base of this province, the Province of Nova Scotia. It is important to know that one-half of that constituency is, in fact, industrial business-based oriented.

[9:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, like most constituencies, Dartmouth North is made up of individual communities, each with their own unique, rich and proud history. Dartmouth North is no different. In Dartmouth North there exist many neighbourhoods, each with their own distinctive characteristics. The oldest neighbourhood is known as Tufts Cove. The long-time seniors of this neighbourhood tell me that Dartmouth's first wine distillery was located on the harbour at the foot of Nivens Avenue. What is now the location of the Tufts Cove Power Generating Plant, was known as the MacKeen shipyards. Next to that shipyards was one of the many Mi'kmaq settlements in Dartmouth. This particular settlement was completely destroyed by the 1917 Halifax Explosion.

Mr. Speaker, for many years the Tufts Cove community had fallen into a state of disrepair because of neglect and past planning practices. With the help of a group of concerned citizens, in 1976 through to 1979, this community underwent a Neighbourhood Improvement Program. With the cooperation of the three levels of government on a funding formula, the Tufts Cove neighbourhood received $650,000 for improvements. The chairman, Mr. John Keating, set out to revitalize a decaying neighbourhood. Today their success can be measured by the presence of a stable neighbourhood with sound planning practices for the future.

The North Brook community is another community bounded by Albro Lake Road, Wyse Road to the waterfront, and to the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge. This community has a naval research establishment, the dockyard base, and it also has what one would recognize as an historic building, which, in fact, is the Old Mill Lounge now, but many years ago was in fact a rope manufacturing centre.

Mr. Speaker, the neighbourhood of Pinecrest, Brule, Jackson and Highfield, recently underwent a neighbourhood needs of assessment, known as the Burke/Oliver report, which was commissioned by the former Dartmouth City Council. There is much to be done in this neighbourhood. The former city council recognized the problem of this neighbourhood, as pointed out in the study, and approved a blanket re-zoning to revitalize this area. They also agreed in principle to an additional $250,000 over and above the normal capital expenditure because of the urgent need to stabilize a community. Unfortunately, this did not happen because, once again, municipal amalgamation came into being and somehow the commitments got lost.

[Page 2551]

Mr. Speaker, however, with the help of the District 9 Residents Association and in consultation with the regional councillor, the residents are doing their best to take back their neighbourhood and in time I know that this determined group of citizens will in fact succeed. I know they will succeed and they have already shown the marks of success.

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that there are a number of well-established neighbourhoods in the constituency, each again with their own unique characteristics, such as Notting Park, Albro Lake, Kingston Crescent area, Lancaster Ridge and the Brightwood golf area.

Mr. Speaker, now I would like to acknowledge the many organizations whose objective is in serving the interests of the residents of this constituency. I shudder to think what the constituency that I represent would be like without their presence, organizations like the Farrell Benevolent Society. This non-profit organization has served the constituency for more than 31 years. The present board of directors is carrying out the tradition of the society. The society on average raises more than $100,000 over each of its years in existence. The funds are used to assist residents in need and to contribute to the betterment of student education. The Farrell Benevolent Society approves between 12 to 15 bursaries a year and in recent years because of cuts in spending by all levels of government, this organization, like many others, has seen the increase in the number of area residents becoming dependent upon their service.

Mr. Speaker, the Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club and its board of directors is another organization that has served this community well. The Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club has operated in Dartmouth North for more than 24 years. Currently, more than 500 children and youth from ages 2 to 18 years of age participate as members, at a cost that is affordable to all. Each year . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is very difficult to hear the member who has the floor. I would ask the members to quiet down a bit, please.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, thank you.

Each year, more than 40 different activities are offered to members including: preschool; school-aged daycare; drop-in activities; summer day camps; sports, soccer, basketball, floor hockey, football; new activities such as the breakfast program, more than 9,500 children were served this year alone; tutoring; computer clubs; and minor football have been initiated to help our members reach their potential.

The club is supported by the municipal government, provincial government, United Way, and by families in the local community. The Boys and Girls Club's mission statement is, with the families and other adults, to offer children and youth opportunities to develop skills, knowledge and the value they seek to become fulfilled individuals.

[Page 2552]

Mr. Speaker, the Northbrook Community Centre is yet another non-profit organization that has been serving the community for over 20 years. Under the chairmanship of Robert Anthony and its board of directors, this centre has continued with its mandate to provide services to the community. Organizations like the Dartmouth Dance Group, the City of Lakes Barbershop Chorus, and the Independent Order of Foresters are but a few that presently occupy the centre. The centre receives no funding from any level of government or agency; the centre prides itself on sustaining the centre through rentals and fund-raising activities.

Mr. Speaker, the most recent non-profit facility to the constituency is the Dartmouth North Community Centre. This centre became a reality as a result of the Federal Infrastructures Program, a program that required all levels of government to share equally in the cost of this capital project. It was, I might add, one of my last orders of business while serving on Dartmouth City Council, one that I am particularly proud of, and I know that the community is particularly proud of as well, and one in which many other citizens, other than myself, have actually made this become a reality. One special person I would like to mention here is the late William Murphy. William Murphy was instrumental in assisting us in making sure that the Dartmouth North Community Centre became a fixture of this community.

Mr. Speaker, the community centre is owned by the Halifax Regional Municipality and is managed by a community-based board of directors made up of a majority of local residents. Some programs offered by the community centre are: the Family Services Association, the TLC Pre-School, Pre-School Drop-Ins, After-School Tutoring for Youth, Lunch time Program, Adult Literacy Training, Collective Kitchens, and Seniors Socials.

Mr. Speaker, the highlight of this community centre is its computer facility. The computer lab offers a wide range of computer courses geared to individuals of all ages and ability levels. The community response to the computer lab has been overwhelming. This community centre also houses a much-needed satellite library of the Halifax Regional Library system and provides users with a wide range of library services. The library was a long- awaited service to Dartmouth North and only came about again, because of the constant persistence of the late William Murphy.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member like to adjourn debate?

MR. PYE: Just one second while I finish this last paragraph? So the community centre and the library are only three years old, yet more than 11,700 people came through the door, truly a welcome addition to Dartmouth North. Thank you. I will adjourn debate.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 2553]

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bill No. 20 - Emergency "911" Act.

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

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 12:00 noon and we will sit until 8:00 p.m. The order of business will Committee of the Whole House on Bills, third reading of bills, Question Period and the remainder of the replies to the Speech from the Throne.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for adjournment until 12:00 p.m. tomorrow. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 9:57 p.m.]