Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Thur., May 10, 2001

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HALIFAX, THURSDAY, MAY 10, 2001

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

8:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Kevin Deveaux, Mr. David Wilson

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Halifax Fairview:

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should demonstrate compassion and concern for the residents of Whitney Pier by agreeing to permanently relocate those whose homes are directly affected by toxic waste, without further distress and delay.

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

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege regarding security proceedings at Province House. The House recessed twice in the last week in response to citizens exercising their historic right to come to Province House to view proceedings and to speak directly to their elected representatives. Security procedures appear to have changed from those that were established by the Standing Committee on Internal Affairs in 1994-95.

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It has come to my attention since the end of yesterday's sitting that security procedures may, in fact, be changing on an hourly or a daily basis. Members and staff who serve the House deserve consistency and well-considered decisions on such matters. I can explain this matter in more detail later on, Mr. Speaker, if so desired, when the House finally convenes, and of course I am going from the letter right now and the House is convened.

Mr. Speaker, we have seen the security proceedings in this Chamber change quite dramatically: doors and gates being locked; we have seen additional police officers being brought in on a regular basis; and then on other occasions, of course, the security disappears. So I am prepared to move the matter that order and safety in the House be referred to the Standing Committee on Internal Affairs for it to consider what steps should be taken to avoid disruption of the House proceedings, while respecting Nova Scotians' right to enter Province House.

As I said, I am prepared to do that and, in fact, I will now move that the matter of order and safety in the House be referred to the Standing Committee on Internal Affairs for it to consider what steps may be taken to avoid disruption of the House proceedings, while respecting Nova Scotians' right to enter Province House. Mr. Speaker, I so move.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member rose on a point of privilege. I will take the matter under advisement and report back to the House.

MR. HOLM: You don't want to deal with the motion.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member rose on a point of privilege, which I will take under advisement, as I just received it at this moment, as the honourable member knows. So I will take it under advisement and report back to the House.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. A motion for adjournment is not in order during the daily routine.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. According to Beauchesne on Page 112 and Marleau on Page 462, a notice of motion to adjourn is in order during the routine proceedings, and specifically in Marleau it states that it can be in order during reading

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of petitions. So I would ask, according to the point of order, that adjournment can be raised at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: I believe on a previous day I ruled that a motion for adjournment was not in order during the daily routine before the orders of the day were put, and that ruling will stand.

The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of Gros Nez, Petit de Grat, the operative clause says:

We, the undersigned residents of Gros Nez, Petit-de-Grat, Richmond County, have suffered for years with deplorable road conditions on this small stretch of road, which is less than half a kilometre. Although it is a small area, we should have the same level of service as other residents in Richmond County and we demand that new paving work be done this summer.

Mr. Speaker, it is signed by 60 local residents, and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 53 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 246 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Labour Standards Code to Improve Labour Standards. (Mr. Darrell Dexter)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

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RESOLUTION NO. 1018

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

Whereas the Office of the Chief Clerk and the Assistant Clerk of the House of Assembly have a long, dignified tradition in parliamentary democracies; and

Whereas these officers of the House, among other things, provide much-needed advice and support to the Speaker and the members of this House on procedural matters concerning the privileges, usages and proceedings of the House of Assembly; and

Whereas it appears that today marks the 10th Anniversary of excellence and much-appreciated service by the Assistant Clerk of the House, Arthur Fordham, Q.C.;

Therefore be it resolved that the members congratulate the Assistant Clerk, Arthur Fordham, Q.C., on the 10th Anniversary of his service to this House and thank him on behalf of all members for his sage advice over these many years. (Standing Ovation)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1019

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 Shelburne-Yarmouth-Clare Branch of the Federal Superannuates National Association recently elected its executive; and

Whereas Mr. Ray Arsenault, a retired Canadian Forces officer and resident of St. Bernard was elected President along with nine members of the executive; and

Whereas the association is a non-partisan, non-profit group of 100,000 members across the country who work to represent the interests of federal retirees throughout the country;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate the members of the new executive and wish them every success in the coming year.

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Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1020

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

Whereas on May 9, 2001, the Transportation and Public Works Minister scorned requests for road improvement by demanding to know where the money would come from; and

Whereas on July 3, 1999, the now Premier said in Yarmouth that, "his government will dedicate every dollar of gasoline and vehicle revenue for use on highway construction and maintenance."; and

[8:15 a.m.]

Whereas John Hamm's plan for Nova Scotia states that this promise will be kept in year two of the Tory mandate, their year of the road;

Therefore be it resolved that instead of delivering on the Premier's promise to dedicate every dollar of gasoline and vehicle revenue to the roads, this government is trying to shut down the Legislature before summer traffic hits the worst roads in Canada.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1021

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

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Whereas the Premier is completely out of touch with reality when it comes to the policies and directions of his government, especially when it comes to the offshore; and

Whereas the Premier doesn't understand the debt will go up until 2007 even though the Finance Department projects that it will; and

Whereas the Premier didn't know his government would allow for the sale of liquor in our drugstores;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should stop touring North America until such time as he familiarizes himself with his own policies.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1022

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

Whereas financial institutions like Co-operative Trust are warning that a university education will cost an estimated $112,700 in the year 2018, up from $60,842 it cost in 1998; and

Whereas this government eliminated the Loan Remission Program, which was the only limit on the debts that students from low and middle incomes must incur to obtain a higher education; and

Whereas this government is now spending more on penalties to the bank for loan defaults while students no longer have the relief of loan remission;

Therefore be it resolved that before they flee this Legislative sitting to hid in their offices, the Premier and Education Minister should tell Nova Scotian families how the student debt load will finally be lowered, so education is not a preserve of the rich.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

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I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1023

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 Second Story Women's Centre Girl Talk Summer Program provides an important opportunity for girls aged 10 to 12 to come together to share common experiences and concerns; and

Whereas topics explored in the Girl Talk program include peer pressure, body image, relationships, and self-esteem; and

Whereas the annual Girl Talk jewellery sale supporting this program will be held Saturday, May 12th, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Centre Court, Bridgewater Mall;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the important contribution of the Second Story Women's Centre Girl Talk Summer Program to the development of young women on Nova Scotia's South Shore.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage. (Interruptions)

RESOLUTION NO. 1024

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

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MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage has the floor.

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

Whereas the Parish of Pope John XXIII in Colby Village hosted the 79th Halifax Diocesan Catholic Women's League Annual Convention from May 4 to 6, 2001; and

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. If the House doesn't come to order I will remove the members who refuse to come to order. The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage has the floor. And that goes for both sides of the House.

Whereas the Parish of Pope John XXIII in Colby Village hosted the 79th Halifax Diocesan Catholic Women's League annual convention from May 4 to 6, 2001; and

Whereas over 200 delegates from throughout the diocese attended the convention as well as His Grace, Archbishop Terrance Prendergast, Father Jim Richards, CWL's Spiritual Advisor and Father David Poirier, Pope John XXIII's parish priest and Marion Hepditch Littlepage, CWL Diocesan President; and

Whereas the convention discussed many pressing issues affecting all Nova Scotians, including those being debated in the House of Assembly;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Halifax Diocesan CWL; Myrtle O'Sullivan, President; Elizabeth Wolfe, registration convener; Carol Conrad, convention convener; and the other volunteers from Pope John XXIII's CWL for their efforts in making the 79th Halifax Diocesan CWL annual convention a success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

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The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1025

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 community of Gros Nez, located along the shores of beautiful Petit-de-Gras Harbour, is one of the most picturesque areas in Richmond County; and

Whereas the residents of Gros Nez have been awaiting the arrival of new pavement for their road; and

Whereas the new Tory Government has instead resorted to patching the patches on their road, leaving it in deplorable condition;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works immediately commit to repaving the Gros Nez Road so that this beautiful community can be enjoyed by the local residents and tourists.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1026

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas travel is an important part of the learning process; and

Whereas students and parents of Ridgecliff Middle School, Tantallon Junior High School and Brookside Junior High School have raised funds for their respective school trips throughout the school year; and

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Whereas these students will soon be on their way to various destinations;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly wishes a safe journey and a wonderful learning experience to the students at Ridgecliff Middle School, Tantallon Junior High School and Brookside Junior High School as they pursue their school trips.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1027

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

Whereas Catherine Ann Fuller was recently appointed Interim Director of the Strait-Highland Development Association; and

Whereas Ms. Fuller brings to this position extensive experience with regional development agencies as a development officer; and

Whereas in the year 2000 Ms. Fuller was awarded the Governor General's Gold Medal Award for highest academic achievement;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Strait-Highland Regional Development Association for appointing Ms. Catherine Ann Fuller as Interim Director and wish her much success in her new role.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

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The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1028

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the St. Margaret's Bay Lions for the past 10 years have raised funds providing for four seeing eye dogs at a cost of $6,000 per dog; and

Whereas this $6,000 involves the training of the dog and its eventual owner at the Lions Seeing Eye Dog School in Oakville, Ontario; and

Whereas these funds are raised through the generosity of the community at the Lions Annual Seeing Eye Dog Road Toll;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the St. Margaret's Bay Lions Club and offer its best wishes with their upcoming Seeing Eye Dog Road Toll at the Hubley Centre Mall in Tantallon.

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 Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1029

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

Whereas an employee of the Department of Education is participating in deliberations with the Halifax Regional School Board regarding the current custodian's strike; and

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Whereas such action clearly skews the Department of Education's independence on this issue; and

Whereas the minister appears to be turning a blind eye to such action which is having a direct impact on the length and tone of the current strike;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education open her blind eye and fulfill her responsibility for ensuring fairness in the dispute resolution process.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1030

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

Whereas on May 7th Richard Schewe and his daughter, Mikaela, were tragically killed in a car accident that has been attributed to the distraction of a cell phone; and

Whereas it is now estimated the use of cell phones by drivers is a factor in more than 1,600,000 accidents a year; and

Whereas despite the overwhelming evidence that the use of a cell phone by drivers makes travel on our roads less safe for these drivers, their passengers and other travellers, this government will not act;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to remember that he is there to represent the best interests of Nova Scotians and not to prolong unsafe driving conditions.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

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The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1031

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

Whereas Talbot House in Frenchvale is a long-term residential recovery centre for men who struggle with addiction which was first founded by the Catholic Church in 1959; and

Whereas as part of the recovery process the residents take part in carpentry projects such as creating Muskoka chairs; and

Whereas residents say that working on these projects is an important part of their journey on the road to recovery;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize the continuing good works by the residents and staff of Talbot House.

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 Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1032

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

Whereas jiu-jitsu is an ancient martial art, whose roots go back over 2,000 years, and the Kyushu system of jiu-jitsu was developed on the Japanese island of Kyushu; and

Whereas the Kyushu-Ryu jiu-jitsu system is taught at the Dartmouth YMCA under Chief Instructor Sansei Frank Zinck, the creator of Bully Proof and, among other things, the Chief Nova Scotia instructor of the internationally renowned rape awareness defence system for women; and

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Whereas Kyushu youth instructors also include Steve Barteaux, Jamie Hawboldt, Jamie Heatherington, Troy Robertson, Amit Parasram, Rupinder Singh Sekhon, and Heather Shuey;

Therefore be it resolved that this House wishes the Kyushu jiu-jitsu program and its graduates at the Dartmouth YMCA their very best on its upcoming graduation and banquet, and especially thanks to Chief Instructor Sansei Frank Zinck and the youth instructors on a job well done.

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 Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1033

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 Glace Bay Heritage Museum Society is dedicated to restoring the old town hall in Glace Bay; and

Whereas for the first time the non-profit museum society is being subjected to property taxes; and

Whereas the society has said it considers the demise of the project an insult to our past and a total disregard for those who built the town;

Therefore be it resolved that the Hamm Government support the Glace Bay Heritage Museum Society by allowing municipalities to provide tax exemptions for museums.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

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Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1034

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

Whereas coal mining has been the lifeblood of Cape Breton for many years; and

Whereas numerous failed attempts have been made to sell Devco to foreign companies; and

Whereas a local co-operative of coal miners wish to purchases these assets;

Therefore be it resolved that this government support the proposal of the former miners by transferring the coal mining leases in industrial Cape Breton to the coal miners' cooperative.

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1035

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

Whereas Big Brothers-Big Sisters of the South Shore recently held bowling party fundraisers in Liverpool, in Bridgewater and in Lunenburg; and

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Whereas through these events the organizations raised over $30,000 to provide adult companionship and mentoring to youth in our communities; and

Whereas these vital community service organizations enjoy the support of hundreds of residents of the South Shore;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate President David Outhouse, Big Sister Beth Ann Doane, Big Brother Michael Tousenard, and all others whose volunteer efforts help Big Brothers and Big Sisters contribute to our community's well-being.

[8:30 a.m.]

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 Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1036

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

Whereas this year dedicated students and staff at Halifax West High School have again produced an exceptional musical; and

Whereas the play was particularly difficult to produce this year because they are not in their own school and thus faced many extra challenges; and

Whereas the outstanding performances, costumes and orchestra show once again the talent and resiliency of the Halifax West community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the students and staff of Halifax West on their achievement in their wonderful production of Fame.

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Mr. Speaker, in light of this outstanding achievement, 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 Cape Breton West.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Russell, Russell, Russell. (Applause)

RESOLUTION NO. 1037

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Now, Mr. Speaker, if we could only get them to vote like us. (Laughter)

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

Whereas on Tuesday, May 8th of this year, the Halifax Regional School Board applied for a mediator in an effort to resolve the custodian strike; and

Whereas on the same day, the Halifax Regional School Board devised a communications plan by announcing its intention to purchase 10 days of advertising; and

Whereas such action raises concern about whether the Halifax Regional School Board is bargaining in good faith;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Environment and Labour stop behaving like a cheerleader and show some leadership by immediately appointing a mediator in an effort to resolve the custodian strike.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

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I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1038

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

Whereas a good transportation infrastructure, and especially air links, remain key to building a sound economy; and

Whereas operations at the Yarmouth airport, which services southwestern Nova Scotia and is an international designation, may be in jeopardy because of an operating deficit of $429,000; and

Whereas the loss of this facility could have a devastating impact upon the economy of southwestern Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development contact the Yarmouth Airport Authority to consider what assistance his government can provide to keep the Yarmouth airport viable.

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 Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1039

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

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Whereas Patti Dexter-Peck works as Vice-President of Clinical Services and Site Operation at the Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville; and

Whereas Patti Dexter-Peck will be receiving the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Award, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Limited; and

Whereas this award is given to the student in the Masters of Health Services Administration Program who is viewed as the most likely to contribute valuable services in the career of health administration;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly thank Ms. Patti Dexter-Peck for her present work on behalf of Nova Scotians and congratulate her on the receipt of the Robert Wood Johnson Award.

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 Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 1040

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

Whereas the Minister of Environment and Labour appears unwilling to appoint a mediator to help resolve the current strike at the Halifax Regional School Board; and

Whereas despite this request, the minister feels he must somehow be convinced of its merit; and

Whereas considering the acrimony on both sides, it would stand to reason that an unbiased third party would be of great assistance to both sides;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Environment and Labour act immediately upon the wishes of both sides and appoint a mediator today.

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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 Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1041

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

Whereas Nova Scotia needs a strong economic development plan to enable all Nova Scotians to be employed so that they may share in a growing and thriving economy; and

Whereas in order to attract companies to locate in our province we must send a message that Nova Scotia is progressive and moving forward; and

Whereas the message being sent out by this government is that taxes in Nova Scotia are too high and regressive and that the education and health systems are in disarray;

Therefore be it resolved this government rewrite their Campaign for Fairness which sends a message that Nova Scotia is disadvantaged and not a good place to invest and in its place present a plan showing innovative ideas for attracting new business to Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East. (Applause)

RESOLUTION NO. 1042

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

Whereas young Canadians who have made the supreme sacrifice of their lives in battle overseas did not die in vain nor will they be forgotten; and

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Whereas young people today enjoy the fruits of peace because of those young men and women who gave up the joys of their youth to take up arms in opposition to tyranny; and

Whereas on May 26, 2001 the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 165 in Mount Uniacke will dedicate and name three new ballfields to be known collectively as the Murphy Sport Complex to the memory of three local lads who died in World War II serving their country;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly salute the members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 165 for holding true to the Legion cry, "Lest We Forget" and dedicating the Murphy Sports Complex to three young men who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes. (Interruptions)

Order, please. Order, please.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: May I have a recorded vote please?

MR. SPEAKER: Waiver was denied.

The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, in my three years, that was the most disgraceful thing that I have ever seen in this House, voting down that sort of a motion.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Richmond is on a notice of motion.

MR. SAMSON: This government has reached a new low, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Richmond is up on a notice of motion. If he is not going to do that, I will call for another member under Notices of Motion.

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MR. SAMSON: What the hell was that?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That comment just by the honourable member for Richmond will be on the record because it came across the microphones. I will be reviewing that and take action appropriately.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1043

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

Whereas Member of Parliament Tom Wappel was recently asked by a constituent for assistance in seeking veteran's benefits to which this disabled veteran may be entitled; and

Whereas Mr. Wappel replied with a letter accusing his constituent of voting for another Party and demanding an explanation of that vote without offering any assistance; and

Whereas Mr. Wappel's behaviour and his subsequent defence of his failure to assist a constituent casts a cloud on all elected representatives who take their duty of representation seriously;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join other parliamentarians and legislators in repudiating Tom Wappell's failure to promptly assist a constituent, and affirms that all elected representatives should remember why they are here.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that this one has the support of government members, so I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1044

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

Whereas Kaitlyn Matheson, the 10 year old daughter of James and Cathy Matheson of historic North End Halifax, is an accomplished member of the Cygnus Diving Club of Halifax whose purpose is to promote the sport of springboard and platform diving; and

Whereas Kaitlyn is one of a very small group of divers from our province who has qualified to attend nationals in Victoria, B.C. in July; and

Whereas Kaitlyn was first in all three events - one metre, three metre and tower - in her age group in a recent competition in Newfoundland on April 26th;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Nova Scotia Legislature wish Kaitlyn Matheson our very best wishes for a fun-filled and successful time at the age group national diving competition in Victoria, B.C., in July.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1045

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

Whereas in January the Premier launched Nova Scotia's Campaign for Fairness; and

Whereas more and more Nova Scotians are expressing their support for this campaign to secure our province, the same tools used by others (Interruptions)

[Page 3014]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor; continue, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Whereas more and more Nova Scotians are expressing their support for this campaign to secure our province the same tools used by others to achieve economic independence; and

Whereas Bridgewater Mayor Ernie Bolivar, and members of the Bridgewater Town Council, recently expressed their support for the government's efforts on behalf of Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and thank the Town of Bridgewater, Mayor Bolivar and Bridgewater Town Council for their support in the Campaign for Fairness.

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 Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1046

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

Whereas protesters were here at Province House yesterday trying to get this government to listen to their health concerns about the Sydney tar ponds; and

Whereas the Premier has told them he is waiting for scientific evidence before he will act on this matter; and

Whereas the Whitney Pier area has the highest cancer rates in Canada and above-normal rates of miscarriages and birth defects;

Therefore be it resolved that the scientific evidence is in on the health dangers of the Sydney tar ponds, and that this government should move residents affected immediately.

[Page 3015]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1047

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Premier and his Petroleum Minister are asleep while large oil companies are planning to strip Nova Scotia of its natural gas; and

Whereas the Premier has not made a clear statement whether he supports an undersea pipeline to New England or not; and

Whereas the Premier is also allowing PanCanadian to go unopposed in its plan to process natural gas offshore, even though it certainly means fewer jobs and spinoffs for Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that it is time for the Premier and his Petroleum Minister to wake up and assert Nova Scotia's right to its natural gas so that Nova Scotians are the principal beneficiary of natural gas and not the large oil companies.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1048

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

[Page 3016]

Whereas this government has introduced legislation that would authorize, for the first time in generations, private-for-profit retail sale of liquor on an unlimited basis over and above any agency stores that are established; and

[8:45 a.m.]

Whereas the government has not drawn attention to this change nor has it explained its unlimited scope; and

Whereas the government has doubled the hours of debate to move this legislation through the House quickly without contributing any explanation of that or other controversial clauses;

Therefore be it resolved that the government should be prepared to withdraw indefensible clauses in this legislation without subjecting the House or Nova Scotians to high-handed efforts to have legislation approved without adequate public debate.

Mr. Speaker, in light of the reaction to the resolution of the member for Hants East, I will not request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1049

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

Whereas Hockey Night in Boston Magazine recognizes outstanding hockey players in New England; and

Whereas Cheryl Setchell was recognized in the Hockey Night in Boston Magazine as the most valuable offensive player in the co-ed prep school she attends in Sheffield, Massachusetts; and

Whereas Cheryl Setchell is the pride and joy of Westmount, Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Cheryl Setchell of Westmount on being chosen as one of the best offensive players playing prep school hockey in New England.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3017]

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 The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1050

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

Whereas the spring snow melt has left behind an incredible amount of litter and debris along the roads of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas spring cleanup is a tradition in many parts of our province; and

Whereas this annual cleanup will benefit the environment and enhance the beauty of our great province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and encourage all Nova Scotians to do their part and help keep Nova Scotia clean and beautiful.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 1051

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

[Page 3018]

Whereas Beverley Mascoll will be honoured tomorrow by Mount Saint Vincent University with an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters; and

Whereas Beverley Mascoll is the President of Mascoll Beauty Supplies Limited which specializes in beauty supplies for women of colour; and

Whereas the former resident of Fall River has also received the Order of Canada for her charitable works;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Beverley Mascoll on receiving an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Mount Saint Vincent University.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1052

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 and the Government of Nova Scotia seem to believe that taking care of the rich will result in help for the less fortunate through the trickle-down effect; and

Whereas the wealth in Alberta is so great that 43 per cent of people going to food banks are children with their working parents; and

Whereas in Alberta the $10 billion surplus has cost the province an incalculable sum with the highest rates of suicide and gambling in the country, as well as the cutting of more trees than are being planted and the generation of the most garbage per capita in the country;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly condemn any government that has made deficit reduction and re-election a higher priority than the well-being of its citizens.

[Page 3019]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: I move that Orders of the Day be now read.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Are there any more notices of motion? We are still under Notices of Motion.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. My reading, and I guess I am just trying to get clarification from the Speaker, is that a motion that we do now move to the Orders of the Day, would happen in routine proceedings, so that we can move to Orders of the Day. It can be done by the government in order to prevent dilatory activity. It can be moved by the Opposition in order to also move to the Orders of the Day. It is something that has been recognized in Beauchesne. Now there is a question, I think, and maybe that is what the Clerks are particularly talking about as to whether or not this type of motion can be moved during routine proceedings because is there a debate going on.

I want to clarify that, Mr. Speaker. First of all, in Beauchesne, on Page 173, it says, "They may only be moved when a question is under debate, and cannot be moved by a Member rising on a point of order.". So I would argue that in Beauchesne, it is only talking about a point of order being raised, and that is what it refers to where Marleau specifically states, on Page 460, that a motion to move to Orders of the Day can be specifically moved during routine proceedings.

So I would argue, since there are motions left, I am moving that we move to Orders of the Day and supersede those motions that are left. I think that is in order and I think that is something that Marleau and Beauchesne would agree with.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I believe that this matter refers to federal procedure, not provincial procedure.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. My understanding here is that we go to the practices of the House and we go to the Rules of the House. They are silent on this issue. Then we go to Beauchesne and I would suggest, in this case also, given

[Page 3020]

Marleau is a more up-to-date sort of edition of the book, that we look at that as well. Given the fact that our provincial rules and practices do not specifically state, then Beauchesne is the next precedent and, also, Beauchesne is not specifically stating whether these motions are allowed during routine proceedings. So if you look at Marleau as advice, Marleau does specifically state you can, and he actually references the journals of the House of Commons to state that the precedents of the House of Commons do allow, during routine proceedings of motion, that we move to the Orders of the Day.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. My final comment is that there are a number of things in Marleau and Beauchesne that apply specifically to the methods that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member has allowed each member to speak. I would like to hear the comments from all sides of the House, please.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: . . . the federal government, the federal House of Commons uses to resolve various things, such as, for instance, the procedures with estimates has no relationship whatsoever to what we do in this House. Mr. Speaker, in my opinion, and admittedly it is only my opinion, I believe this matter refers specifically to federal House of Common procedures.

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I can't help rising because I have heard the Government House Leader, when he was in Opposition and also, in fact, when he was Speaker on many occasions go and refer to Erskine May and Beauchesne to come up with decisions. The member knows quite clearly, as anybody who has been around this House, that our rules are silent on most matters. Our Rule Book covers very specific things and if our rules are silent, it has been the long-standing tradition in this House that we would then go and look at the procedures that are following in the federal House of Commons. We would go and look at Beauchesne and we would go and look at Marleau. That has been the long-standing tradition. The situation that has been raised by my colleague is one that is not covered by our rules and the precedent of the House would mean that we would then go, if our rules do not have a specific rule to cover it, to the rules that are followed, for example, in the House of Commons.

MR. SPEAKER: Are there any other interveners? We will recess until 9:00 a.m.

[8:55 a.m. The House recessed.]

[9:01 a.m. The House reconvened.]

[Page 3021]

SPEAKER'S RULING: On motion to proceed to Orders of the Day during Notices of Motion.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage rose and moved that the Orders of the Day - if I correctly remember his wording - be now read. First of all, before I give him a decision, one thing I would like to say is that many times, and I think all members would agree, issues are brought before the House, sometimes our rules are applicable and easy to understand, and sometimes they are not. Sometimes we refer to other books, Erskine May, Beauchesne; sometimes those rules are clear and if not, we seem to look for another book, another publication to help us. Many times one contradicts the other, as we see with parliamentary language in this House. Obviously, there is no clear indication on this issue, other than the one brought forward by the honourable member, and I would have to know the circumstances of the day that would allow that to happen.

One thing I would like to say to the members of this House is, if I had allowed such a motion today - my first reaction when I heard the motion was - ultimately, as Speaker, I would be allowing a process to take place that never again could there be a motion possibly be put before this House, a notice of motion. Ultimately, the first person on his feet in Notices of Motion could get up and actually move the Orders of the Day be put, and get an agreement that there would be not be any Notices of Motion.

Based on that and based on the fact that I don't see any clear indication of a rule that would ultimately make this decision, and based on appearance, and I mean both sides of the House, I am going to deny the motion, and ask that those who have Notices of Motion to continue, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1053

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

Whereas Fred and Janet Lutley have celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary on April 28, 2001; and

Whereas family and friends celebrated this long-standing union of marriage by joining Fred and Janet for a dinner and dance; and

Whereas Fred and Janet proved to all in attendance that even after 50 years of marriage, you can still be young at heart;

[Page 3022]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Fred and Janet Lutley on their 50th Wedding Anniversary, and wish them many more to come.

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 Leader of the Liberal Party. (Applause)

RESOLUTION NO. 1054

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my colleagues are already in favour of this resolution. I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas all members of this House support Article 1 of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Accord, which guarantees that Nova Scotia be the principal beneficiary of our offshore resources; and

Whereas despite this agreement, the federal government collects 81 cents out of every $1.00 generated from Nova Scotia's offshore; and

Whereas support for addressing this issue has been expressed by Leaders of the federal Conservative, New Democratic and Alliance Parties; members of the Atlantic Liberal caucus; Senators; Newfoundland Premier Roger Grimes; Albert Premier Ralph Klein; and former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed;

Therefore be it resolved that a letter be sent to the Prime Minister of Canada on behalf of all members of the House urging the Government of Canada to honour its commitment to the people of Nova Scotia to be the principle beneficiaries of our offshore.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3023]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The Oral Question Period will begin at 9:06 a.m. and will end at 10:06 a.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition. Order, please.

HEALTH - NURSING HOMES: RATES - RETROACTIVITY EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. I have been approached by a family of an Alzheimer's patient who is in a nursing home in the Premier's riding. This family is not subsidized by the Department of Health for the cost of their mother's care. The nursing home has told them that the Department of Health has increased the daily rate by 40 cents per day from April 1, 2000 and by an additional $7.47 from November 1, 2000. Mr. Speaker, I will table the letter that indicates the Department of Health is allowing the nursing home to bill this family, retroactively, to April 1, 2000. I want to ask the Minister of Health, is it a standard practice for nursing homes to retroactively raise the daily rates?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in some cases that does happen, unfortunately. It has to do with paperwork and the processing of the budgets that are put in by nursing homes. The requests are made by the nursing home and sometimes it takes a while for the procedure to catch up with the request.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, let's have a look at the effect of this paperwork. The daily rate for this family has increased by a total of $7.87 per day, that is a yearly increase of almost $3,000. This amount alone creates financial hardship for this family, added to that is the invoice for retroactive charges that comes to over $1,200. The family is not going to be able to manage these costs much longer without a government subsidy. My question for the minister is, why are you being so insensitive to the needs of private-paying seniors, forcing them to turn to government subsidies for care they need so desperately for their loved ones?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, that is an interesting question from the honourable member because he stood up in this House on a number of occasions and said that the government should pay for everybody. Certainly, we respect the needs and wishes of private-pay patients and I would hope the best thing would be that everybody would be able to pay for their own

[Page 3024]

long-term care. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen and the province does make provision to assist those who are not able to adequately provide it for themselves.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, what other business can retroactively charge for an increase in rates? Where else would retroactive billing even be legal? This is just not fair. My question to the minister is, will you undertake to investigate back to this practice that places such a heavy and unfair financial burden on our seniors and will you report your findings to this House?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I didn't get the last part of his question. Could he repeat the question for me, please?

MR. SPEAKER: Could the honourable Leader of the Opposition repeat the last part of the question only, please.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to do that. What I asked the minister to do was undertake to investigate this practice that places a heavy and unfair financial burden on seniors and ask the minister to report the findings to this House?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member would be good enough to give me that case and details on it I will have it looked into.

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

HEALTH - DISTRICT HEALTH AUTHORITIES: PLAN - DETAILS

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The District Health Authority No. 2 held a meeting on March 1, 2001, and I will table the minutes from that meeting. Grave concerns were expressed by board members. They strongly feel that their decision-making powers are being stripped. Given that the minister claims that the creation of the district health authorities would enable decision making to take place in the community, my question to the minister is, what has gone wrong with his plan for district health authorities?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, what I can tell the honourable member is, I am not familiar with the letter that he is speaking about, I don't think I have seen it, but I can tell you that the feedback that we have had from the district health authorities about their ability to make local decisions and to bring responsibility and response to local concerns has really been overwhelming since we introduced the district health authorities. It certainly establishes that these decisions that we made were correct.

[Page 3025]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, maybe the minister believes what he just said is true, but not according to what I just tabled. When a district health authority is told on February 19th to resubmit a business plan by noon on February 21st, something is terribly wrong. There was no time for the board to meet and have input. I will quote a statement from the minutes that I just tabled: The board felt that they are the body who is responsible for the budget and are responsible to the people in the district, but the deputy minister is making the decisions without any consultation from them.

My question to the minister is, will this minister please contact each board member of District Health Authority No. 2 and apologize for misleading them into believing that they were able to make decisions in the best interests of their community?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, what the honourable member brings up is something that is well in the past. It was part of the budget, the business planning process, for the district health authorities. He is right. They were given a relatively compressed time frame to make some decisions and all boards did that. That is over and done with. In the final business plans, and the business of being submitted, the board members should be having a lot more input than they did in that initial one.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, this Minister of Health day after day has sat in this House and blamed bad news decisions on district health authorities. No doubt he will blame the pending budget cuts on them as well. We know now what is really happening. The deputy minister is running the show from downtown Halifax. My final question to the minister, will he take back his words from Hansard on April 3, 2000, where he states, "Bill No. 34 gives communities a stronger voice to improve local health care"? Will he admit that the only voice district health authorities have will be to act as the minister's mouthpiece for bad news?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, that is the type of statement that explains why they are there. (Interruptions) District health authorities are moving along very well, thank you very much, and I think we will find that as they mature, they will see a better system of health delivered in Nova Scotia than there has been for some time.

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

EDUC. - JANITORIAL STRIKE:

EAST. PASSAGE SCH. - HEALTH RISKS

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I received a copy of a letter sent to the Halifax Regional School Board, and, I believe, the Minister of Education, which is very disturbing. It paints the picture of a school in Eastern Passage where there are a lot of problems because of this strike. Let me be clear that it is an elementary school and by nature young children are going to want to touch things. Let me give an example of an incident that is causing concern.

[Page 3026]

A child had a nosebleed and there was a trail of blood down the hall and there was no caretaker to clean that up. I want to ask the Minister of Education, do you consider this a serious health risk?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I have said in the past about this situation that the judging of the health risks in the school is up to the Department of Health and its public health team including inspectors from the Department of Environment and Labour.

[9:15 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I would say that in the course of a day there are many, many times when children have bloody noses. I am not sure about the individual incident in question but in a normal course of events, someone either would be there or in this case, perhaps, called in to clean up that blood. So the answer is that it is not for me to judge whether a nosebleed is a health risk.

MR. DEVEAUX: Not a health risk, isn't that interesting. Here is another example, Mr. Speaker, juice was spilled on the steps of this school and a child's foot got stuck on the sticky substance that remained. The child fell and was injured. This is an elementary school, children are not intentionally spilling things, they are not vomiting on purpose and they are not making their school dirty intentionally; they are just being children. So I ask the Minister of Education, will she now admit that these schools are filthy and that they are a health risk to the children of Halifax?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, the inspectors under Dr. Robert Strang are making those judgments and that's the advice upon which I am relying.

MR. DEVEAUX: I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the Minister of Education takes this tactic when this government allows children to play in arsenic in Whitney Pier as well, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear! Hear!

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, the parent who wrote this letter said that proper caretaking is a necessary component of our children's education, health and safety, and I couldn't agree more. So I want to ask the Minister of Environment and Labour, when will he stop shirking his responsibility and start intervening to ensure that this strike ends?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I think that it would be a fair statement to say that there is no magic solution by appointing a mediator and I think that is what the member opposite is suggesting here. Until both parties have shown our department that there is a sincere effort on both parts to move to a middle ground there just simply is no benefit from appointing a mediator for the sake of appointing a mediator.

[Page 3027]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - DIST. HEALTH AUTH. NO. 2:

BUDGET - REDUCTION DETAILS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. In the meeting minutes of the District Health Authority No. 2 that was tabled by my colleague, it was indicated that a $1.3 million reduction in their budget submitted by the district health authority was not enough. The Department of Health's budget, tabled in this House, indicated that the district health authorities that encompassed the former western region, all of the western region, was an overall reduction of $1.8 million. District No. 2, within the former region, was told that $1.3 million was not enough. My question is, why has he asked District Health Authority No. 2, which encompasses Shelburne, Yarmouth and Digby Counties, to bear more than their fair share of the government's budget reduction?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I really am having some difficulty understanding the question that the honourable member is asking. He is going back into a budgetary process that was going on in February and March and I think he is indicating that there was a reduction in the budget for that area of the province. As everybody knows, everybody got an increase.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the budget tabled in the House showed a reduction for that whole area of $1.3 million, asked from that one region. The minister indicated that $1.3 million in reduction that the board proposed did not impact on clinical areas. However, a $1.3 million cut in the budget was not good enough for the Minister of Health and one can assume that reducing the budget even more will likely have an impact on direct health care services. My question to the minister is, how can the minister justify reductions in front-line health care, while at the same time allowing increased salary rates for CEOs of regional health authorities?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I have to go back to the preliminary part of his question and indicate that the figures to which he is referring were the initial figures which were submitted to the boards. We made it quite clear that this was based on the budgeted figure for last year. The figures that he refers to are really out of context. As far as I know, there have been no cuts to front-line health care workers in that board.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there is limited information that we can bring forward in any one question, but I will assure the minister that we will be revisiting this issue. We want to lay some groundwork this morning and get the minister's comments recorded in Hansard. As you will recall, the member for Yarmouth, at a community meeting, indicated there would be no cuts to the Yarmouth Regional Hospital. The province has received unprecedented revenues. The lack of money can't be used as an excuse. My question to the minister is, why

[Page 3028]

has he broken his government's commitment to the people of Nova Scotia to invest in front-line health care workers?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber. It is very hard to hear the questions.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, one of the interesting things that was released yesterday - and the honourable member and his colleagues probably saw this, the same as everybody else - is that the number of front-line workers, and we will talk right now about doctors and nurses in Nova Scotia . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Where are they all?

MR. MUIR: Well, if you take a look at the figures on the number of nurses per 100,000 people, we are the second highest in Canada and we are way above the national average of the number of physicians that we have here, so when they make those statements, it is just empty rhetoric.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - PSYCHIATRIC PATIENTS: ADVOCACY - PROVIDE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, an advocate, by definition, provides support and information and speaks on behalf of another. This is Mental Health Week. There is seldom an occasion when advocacy is more needed than when you are a patient in a psychiatric facility. Psychiatric patients are extremely vulnerable and in need of someone to look out for and advise them of their rights. The Law Reform Commission has pointed out that the Hospital Act does not require advocacy services be provided to patients. My question is to the Minister of Health. Why does this province not require that advocates are available to our most vulnerable people?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that a number of people that I am familiar with who are in the mental health system have advocates. They may not be formal advocates paid by the government, but a lot of people do have advocates. There is also the process for those. I think he is going back to reading the Psychiatric Review Board Facilities Report - I think that is probably where you are coming from on that - which was recently released. The person who wrote that report did make some recommendations and they will obviously be considered in due course.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the Minister of Health doesn't realize that most hospitals in this province do provide patient advisers. Of course, we applaud them for that and recognize the good work that is done by the advisors; however they are limited in their ability to advocate on the side of the patient because of the very fact that the hospital is their

[Page 3029]

employer. There are instances when the best interests of the patient are not necessarily the best interests of the hospital. Will the minister recognize this inherent conflict and institute an advocacy program for psychiatric patients that is arms' length from the hospital administration?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is absolutely correct. There are people in each of the facilities who do advocate on behalf of patients. To be quite frank, we have gotten a number of calls in this office and we have referred people to them. In most cases there has been a satisfactory resolution to the problem. In some cases, there hasn't, but in a good many cases, there are. So to indicate that they don't do their job simply because they are employed by the hospital, I think is probably not the right thing to do.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I don't think I said they don't do their jobs, what I said is their inherent conflict in their situation. We fully appreciate that their are limits to just how far the present health care budget can be stretched, however, it is the responsibility of a caring society, and government, to protect and support its most vulnerable people. My question to the minister is, will you do the responsible thing and commit to this House that you will investigate the means to provide independent advocacy services for psychiatric patients?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, there are greater strides being taken in the provision of mental health in Nova Scotia than there has been in some time, that includes not only adults but children and youth. Yes, I will have that matter referred to our mental health section, reviewed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

EDUC. - PILOT PROJECT: TEACHERS UNION - CONSULT

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this week, through a meeting with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, our caucus has learned of the minister's plan to use our children as guinea pigs for a private company's new project. We have been told that not only is this company producing the project on their own, they are even being allowed to set the criteria for who will actually participate in it. The effect of this, clearly, is that there will be a two-tier education system; one program for those fortunate enough to be selected and another for the leftovers. All of this has been done without a word to the teachers of this province. My question to the Minister of Education is, why did the minister's department agree to this new program without even consulting the Nova Scotia Teachers Union?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, this new project had its basis in a pilot project carried out in the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board last year. It was a very successful project, and we are proceeding to pilot it in some other areas. The premises upon which the honourable member opposite is making his accusations are quite wrong.

[Page 3030]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, well, not only has this minister shown her disdain for parents and students around this province, now she is showing her disdain for the Nova Scotia Teachers Union. Maybe, if she actually spoke to them she would know what their concerns are. We have met with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and they have clearly told us they were not consulted before this program was announced. We know this government has quite a record when it comes to not consulting before acting on new programs. With that in mind, we also have to wonder who Knowledge House will be consulting with before they select the chosen ones who will actually get to participate in this program. How ironic that Knowledge House was able to get this contract without it ever going out to tender and that public funds are going to this private company. Can the Minister of Education tell us who will be involved in setting criteria and selecting the students who will participate in this high-end program?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the people in the program branch of our department are the people who are involved in selecting the pilot project sites. The students will be selected by consultation among people in our department and schools willing to participate in these pilot projects. Further, to the first part of the honourable member's question, the Teachers Union does not run the education system in Nova Scotia, the Department of Education runs the education system in Nova Scotia. The Teachers Union will be involved; we do not need their permission to initiate a pilot project.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as if it just could not go any further, the minister has reached a whole new level of arrogance by saying, I will do what I want, and I don't need the teachers union permission. The teachers union is not asking for this minister's permission, they are asking to be part of this process. They are part of our education system; they are the ones on the front line taking care of our children. All they ask is for this minister to at least let them know where she is going with the future of our education system in this province. For this minister to say she doesn't need the Teachers Union's permission . . .

[9:30 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. SAMSON: . . . is absolutely unbelievable. NovaKnowledge has already received significant sums from the government and from the taxpayers of this province. Will the minister guarantee today that no students will suffer through loss of funding because of the money that this government is giving to a private company?

MISS PURVES: First of all, it is not NovaKnowledge, it is Knowledge House. The money going to this pilot project is $1.6 million, it is federal-provincial money that was available for the economic development agreement and, no, this money is going to students in this province. It is not going to deprive students in the province, it is going to help students in this province. (Applause)

[Page 3031]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for (Interruptions) Order, please!

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - ANNA. VALLEY REG. SCH. BD.:

BUS SERVICE - ACCIDENT INVESTIGATE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Recently in this House I informed the Minister of Education that the private school busing company operating in the Annapolis Valley was responsible for investigating complaints against itself. The Minister of Education made it clear that this wasn't of concern to her.

Last Friday, a 12 year old girl exiting one of these buses was struck by a car, according to the New Minas RCMP. The bus company called an ambulance, but they did not call the police. The police learned about this matter through other means. I want to ask the Minister of Education to answer again, why is she allowing a private school bus company to investigate itself whenever problems arise with its own service?

HON. JANE PURVES: I am very sorry to hear of that incident. I will contact the school board and the bus company to find out more details of that accident. I will say that accidents do happen, but I recognize that they are not happy occurrences and I would be very glad to investigate that incident and report back to the honourable member.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I would like to say to the minster, if she had taken my concerns more seriously when I first raised them, perhaps there would have been a protocol in place for this situation.

The Minister of Education is directly responsible for the fact that this busing company won the contract in the Valley. She forced cheaper busing services on school boards through her disastrous budgets. This company won that contract by cutting drivers' pay and offering cheaper service and as a result, almost all of the qualified and experienced drivers quit. I want to ask the Minister of Education to explain, why has she instructed school boards in this province to meet her budget cuts by reducing transportation and building services costs?

MISS PURVES: We have asked school boards to meet budget targets which have actually been increases in the past two years. The Annapolis Valley Regional School Board made a very tough decision to go with the new bus service because it was looking at saving $2 million a year so it could put that money in the classroom.

[Page 3032]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Busing school children is a very serious matter for their parents. I can tell you that the minister needs to take this matter more seriously rather than looking at it as a means of cutting costs and cutting out the concerns of parents. I want to ask the Minister of Environment and Labour, will he look into the busing matter in the Valley to ensure that bus drivers receive the appropriate safety training, including instructions to immediately contact police in the event of an accident?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, occupational health and safety, and I think that following the instructions that are laid out for them, is certainly a concern. I would be happy to check with the department, and make sure they are advised of our concerns.

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

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS:

PIPELINE (N.S. BYPASS) - PREMIER OPPOSE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. It has been reported in the media that the government has been sending out mixed messages on whether it supports the proposal for an undersea pipeline to New England. I want to table, with this House, a recent article in the Halifax paper entitled: Government running mixed messages through pipeline. I would like to table that. The petroleum minister has been non-committal and has not come out firmly against the pipeline proposal. In fact, he said any decision for a subsea pipeline would be based on economics and not politics. If that is the case, than the subsea pipeline would seem like a go. Will the Premier take a stand publicly and oppose any plans for a subsea pipeline that bypasses Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: The answer is yes, and I already have.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what we have just heard is that there will be no subsea pipeline constructed anywhere that would bypass any part of Nova Scotia, in other words, that the pipeline will be one that will touch somewhere in Nova Scotia. We will have to wait and see. This is a departure from some of the recent ambiguous statements that the Premier has been making regarding this issue. I want to know from the Premier what concrete steps he is going to take to ensure that all gas obtained for offshore Nova Scotia will land in Nova Scotia, instead of being shipped directly to New England. I would ask the Premier if some policy will come out of this government to ensure that?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, right now the companies are not thinking of this. The only one that really seems to be promoting a direct line from offshore to New England would be members of the Opposition Party. There are two proposals, right now, being considered. One is to take the gas to the current Sable II from the Deep Panuke operation and have it run along the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, the other is a proposal out there by El Paso which is to come ashore and then ultimately go subsea from mainland Nova Scotia, to New

[Page 3033]

England. Those are the only two proposals. It is interesting that yesterday in the New Brunswick press, El Paso is quoted as saying that is their proposal, to come ashore and then go subsea to New England. There is no proposal out there suggesting a direct line to New England.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am certainly not surprised with that answer, because the Premier doesn't have any understanding of what we are talking about here. What we are talking about are jobs in the future in the offshore industry for Nova Scotians. That is what we are talking about. I am not surprised he doesn't get it, because he had no idea the debt was going up until the year 2007; he didn't realize his own legislation is being prepared for selling liquor in drug stores; now he has no idea what his position is going to be on the undersea pipeline. I would ask the Premier, will he assure Nova Scotians who are looking for work that in the future Nova Scotians will come first in terms of jobs in the offshore industry?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, with the exception of the member opposite, Nova Scotians are assured. Today, I will take the opportunity to assure the member opposite.

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

PETROLEUM DIRECTORATE - OFFSHORE PIPELINE:

U.S. EXPORTS - PROHIBITION GUARANTEE

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the Premier's answers and, quite honestly, as has been pointed out, every time one of the heavyweights on the government benches speaks on the issue of the offshore, and particularly with this pipeline, whether that be the Premier, the minister or the Premier's media flack, Dale Madill, there are some confusing messages. Now, I heard the Premier's answer, but it wasn't 100 per cent clear in his first one, so I want to pose a question, if I may, this way. Will the Premier guarantee, whether it is El Paso or anybody else, that there will be no permission granted, that the Premier will guarantee that no Nova Scotia offshore resource is shipped to the United States by a pipeline directly offshore, guarantee that that will not happen?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is very knowledgeable about the oil and gas industry. The member opposite knows that Nova Scotians need access to the ethane, the propane, the butane, the liquids that are part and parcel of the product that comes from the offshore. The member opposite knows that Nova Scotians need access to that. The member opposite knows the only way that that can happen is if the pipe, in fact, comes from the offshore to Nova Scotia before it goes anywhere else. Yes, that is the position of this government and will continue to be.

[Page 3034]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I do know those points that the Premier had made in his response. So I won't ask what was going to be my second question. But you know, the Premier really did not answer my question. He said that that is the position of the government but he didn't say that he is able to guarantee that that will not happen. Do you know, the National Energy Board has something to say in this as well. So I want to ask the Premier, can the Premier guarantee that it will not be shipped to the United States directly through an offshore pipeline and that it will not cross Georges Bank, which the Premier knows is a very sensitive area and there are great concerns for the fishing in that area?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite is very aware that I can't speak for the National Energy Board. I can speak for this government. It is the position of this government that Nova Scotians will have access to the liquids and the requirements for other industries. It will be the position of this government as long as we are government that those products will come ashore.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, sometimes he is right, he can't speak for the National Energy Board but he can tell us what he has been doing to try to ensure that, in fact, it won't be permitted. There is one thing that the Premier can do, the Premier can tell the oil companies that the royalty regime that is in place will only apply if the product is landed in Nova Scotia. So is the Premier prepared to tell those oil companies that would even contemplate shipping our resource subsea to the United States without landing here that the royalty regime will not apply and that we would impose a surcharge, a much higher royalty to force them to land it here, regardless of . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that in my conversations with the oil companies I have made it abundantly clear what the position of this government is; the products come ashore.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - SECURE TREAT. FAC.:

TRURO - LAND TRANSFER

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, not long ago we had a group from the secure treatment project in Truro, make a presentation to the Standing Committee on Community Services and there were several issues that arose out of that discussion that I am still a little bit unclear about. There is an issue involving the deeding of particular lands to the Town of Truro from the province, that has been brought to my attention that those who attended the Community Service's meeting at that time were unable to answer.

[Page 3035]

[9:45 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Community Services is this, has the province transferred any land to the Town of Truro in connection with the secure treatment project?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the land in question that the honourable member mentions was the discussion that was presented to the Standing Committee on Community Services; it has been the land that has been discussed with the Town of Truro at three different meetings. I would have to ask the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works if that has been completed; I am not aware if that transaction has been done.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I was looking for an answer and I have not received one as yet, but I will ask another question because there are a number of questions that have come from this particular meeting. One of them has to do with a particular individual who is being rather severely inconvenienced by this project. Mr. Roger Higgins is his name; he lives across Wood Street from the project site. He is being forced by the Town of Truro to come up with over $100,000 in betterment charges applied to his property because of curbing and sewer that has gone on for the treatment centre. Mr. Higgins' property, however, is only worth about $50,000. Needless to say, he is very concerned about this situation.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, will the minister commit that he will examine the fairness of the fees that have been levied against Mr. Higgins' property?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, our commitment all along has been to work with the Town Council of Truro, to keep them informed, to get their input. We have had three public meetings there. What the honourable member suggests is that I should be interfering in the Town of Truro's business, and I have no authority there.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, what I am suggesting is that the Minister of Community Services do something about this; that is what I am suggesting. The minister should know that Mr. Higgins is paying one-half and the town is paying one-half. He should know that. However, the province has agreed to cost-share the town's half. My question is, if nothing else, will the minister commit that he will extend that same cost-sharing offer to Mr. Higgins immediately?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated earlier, the arrangements that are made between the Town of Truro and the landowners is between them. I have no jurisdiction and I am not able to interfere in those.

[Page 3036]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

COMMUN. SERV.: DAYCARE (HS) - ASSISTANCE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Community Services. Three weeks ago during budget estimates I gave the minister information on a teen mother who was in arrears to her high school daycare. She could not pay the fees because the minister had taken away the measly $188 a month she got from his department. This student has not been in school since Monday, April 30th, because the daycare will no longer accept her child. I want the minister to explain to me, so I can explain to this young woman and her mother, why does he not think it is important that she get a high school education?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member did bring me a particular case that we are looking at, but in answer to her general question, the question is why should people not get high school educations and get education. I think from our department's point of view, if the honourable member will look at the plans that we have for this future year, providing more money to go back to take training, providing more money for daycare, that is exactly what we are trying to do.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you would check that member to see if there is a pulse there, this is a situation that requires some empathy. My 18 year old constituent is trying her best to get her (Interruptions)

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

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my 18 year old constituent is trying her best to get her Grade 10 and Grade 11 this year, right now. On more than one occasion, this member has stood in his place and said that this government's welfare agenda would lead to self-reliance. I want to ask the minister, how self-reliant an 18 year old without a high school education is going to be?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member asks why are we going in that direction with our reorganization with social assistance? Why are we going to give more money for people for training? Well, the answer is exactly that - because we want those people to be able to have that help, to remove those barriers, so they can go back and get their education.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that isn't my question at all. My question is, why is this minister not prepared to do anything now to assure this young woman gets this school year? I want to ask the minister if he will direct members of his staff to meet with this young woman right away to assist her to stay in school now?

[Page 3037]

MR. CHRISTIE: The question was, will department people meet with this person and the answer is yes, we will. But as I say, our objective, and the objective of what we have said as we passed our legislation, is to help people get training and to get going.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR.: DRINKING WATER STRATEGY - STATUS

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, all Canadians, of course, are concerned for residents of North Battleford, Saskatchewan, who are coping with a bug in their drinking water system. This, of course, follows last year's tragedy in Walkerton, Ontario. My question to the Minister of Environment and Labour is about drinking water quality. The minister announced development of a drinking water strategy in response to Walkerton. Will the minister indicate if that strategy is up and running or still in development?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, what I have announced is that there will be a strategy developed this year. It will start with a discussion paper. We have not yet, to date, released the discussion paper. We have released one on waste-water management and the public meetings have already been set up for that one and the two go hand in hand.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, many people who have faced water problems know the importance of public test results. Will the minister explain the current requirement for public notice of test results?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite refers to an initiative of the department before I was minister. I think that with regard to test results on private wells for private consumption, places like nursing homes where there are more than 25 consumers that draw on that private well, to answer his question, they have to report four times a year and two of those would have to include something more than a bacteriological analysis.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, notification, once there is a problem, just isn't good enough. People need daily confidence that their water is safe. Will the minister require all test results of all public drinking water systems to be reported to the public?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I think that what I would like to assure the member opposite and indeed all Nova Scotians is that when a test result comes back positive, that has to be reported immediately to the department and, therefore, we can take the appropriate steps to issue the necessary orders.

[Page 3038]

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

COMMUN. SERV. - ASSIST.:

STUDENT LOAN - EXCLUSION POLICY

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. I have recently had a call from a remarkable young woman. She is a single mother. Her name is Bethany Hogan and she is struggling to get ahead. She is now in her first year of a two year early childhood development program. When she started that course, she was under Child Protection Services. She was under 19 years of age. She was promised that when she turned 19 in January that Community Services would continue to provide her with income assistance. She turned 19 in January and Community Services has dropped her because they say she is getting a student loan. This is a two year program that she is in. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, can he explain why his department failed this individual and individuals like her?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the member's question is, why does Community Services not provide assistance while people have student loans? That is the rule that has been there, people know that. Our assistance is a last resort system and that is what we have been doing.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, this is a $5,000 program that she is in. It is a private school, obviously, because that is the only place she can really get any child development within two years. My understanding of the policy of the government is that if you are in a two year, or less, program, that they aren't going to apply that rule that this minister seems to be applying. Ms. Hogan is in a Catch-22, much like a lot of other young Nova Scotians, when they turn 19 from child protection and are taken over by income assistance, they are dropped by the Community Services Income Assistance Program.

I want to ask the Minister of Community Services, will he talk to his staff in Child Protection Services and get some understanding of how we can prevent people from being dropped from child protection, income assistance, while they are in the middle of a program?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I think the member's question was, will I talk to the people in Child Protection Services and review the policy? Yes, we will. We will have a look at that policy. We are in the process now of evaluating all people on assistance as we get ready for August 1st and we are looking at all the different issues and how we might improve those services.

MR. DEVEAUX: Well, if it were any other minister I might have faith, but when it comes from the stone cold minister, Mr. Speaker, I have a tendency to be worried about exactly what is going to happen. Ms. Hogan is a human face on exactly what this government is doing to the people of Nova Scotia. Our safety net is being torn apart. So I ask the Minister

[Page 3039]

of Community Services, through you, Mr. Speaker, will you look into Bethany Hogan's case and see that she is going to be treated fairly and with justice?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Community Services and this government takes all 38,000 people on assistance as human faces and with great concern. We will have a look at all the different cases, all the different areas where there are some concerns. We will be looking at those as we review their cases and we will be trying our best to bring all of those things to a satisfactory solution.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.: HWY. AGREEMENTS - STATUS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The three major highway agreements, the Highway Improvement Program, known as HIP; the Strategic Highway Improvement Program known as SHIP; and the Atlantic Freight Transition Program, have all expired under the minister's tenure in the last two years. Can the minister apprise members of the House as to what the status of negotiations with the federal government is on renewing any or all of these agreements?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the three programs the honourable member is speaking of are programs that were instituted to solve specific problems. Whether or not any new programs will have the same acronyms or not, I don't know. However, the question is generally, are we working on a federal/provincial agreement? Yes, our staff is in constant contact with our federal counterparts and it is hoped that sometime in the near future we will have an agreement with the federal government.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his update. It caught my attention because, yesterday, the minister put out a press release indicating some 11 tenders were issued on bridge repairs and roadwork and so on, for capital work. Ironically, 11 out of 11 are in Tory-held ridings. That may be just a coincidence. I would ask the minister if this is by coincidence or by design?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is strictly coincidence. There were some contracts, I think, in early March which were all in Cape Breton, in ridings held by Opposition members.

[10:00 a.m.]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is I think the tender the minister is referring to would actually be in my constituency, which was postponed for two years by this particular minister because the road actually physically collapsed; there was no road, so they had to do it. My question to the minister is, will he table in this House an

[Page 3040]

impartial list of road priority projects his department will undertake, so Nova Scotians can decide for themselves whether the Tories have given up playing politics on the issue of roads?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it would appear from the member's remarks that I should not be awarding any contracts in Liberal areas. I fail to understand his rationale. But anyway, with regard to the priorities of the department, the priorities of the department are always to do the best possible allocation we can to bring our roads up to an acceptable standard, compared to the standards that were established by the previous regime.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

NAT. RES. - MACNEILS COVE: MOORING GRID - LICENCES

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the warm weather has removed the ice from MacNeils Cove but it hasn't removed the chill around the issue of the mooring grid. Over the past several years this issue has come up in the House and in the Public Accounts Committee. As I understand it, last year the Department of Natural Resources had to supervise the grid and issue permits to individuals and that seemed to work out to the satisfaction of all involved. My question to the Minister of Natural Resources is, is your department, once again, going to supervise the mooring grid and issue permits to individuals, or is your department intent on issuing a licence for the mooring grid to the MacNeils Cove Boaters Association?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, certainly, we will continue to work with the people of that community, and hopefully that facility will be run again this summer.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, if ever there was a non-answer, I guess that was it. The Office of the Provincial Ombudsman filed a report dealing with the ongoing dispute in MacNeils Cove. Part of that report was the recommendation that the Department of Natural Resources only issue the mooring grid licence after all proper permits and exemptions have been obtained. As of last week the Coast Guard indicated that no permits under the Navigable Waters Protection Act have been approved, however residents of MacNeils Cove have been informed that the licences from the Department of Natural Resources for the mooring grid have been issued. Does the Minister of Natural Resources think that the recommendations of the ombudsman should be ignored?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, again, with conflicting interest, as I said to the honourable member before, we will continue to work with people in the community in a difficult situation so that the facility does benefit the community.

[Page 3041]

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, it would be nice to get an answer to at least one of three questions. My last question is again to the Minister of Natural Resources. If a licence is signed and issued from your department, is it in effect without the proper permit from the Canadian Coast Guard?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the federal government, the Coast Guard and DFO's Navigable Waters Division have their authority, the province has its authority and again, in a difficult situation with varied interests, we are attempting to address concerns of the community and allow the facility to operate.

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

JUSTICE - VEHICLE COMPLIANCE OFFICERS:

CUTBACK - DECISION DETAILS

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, over the past several weeks I have brought up the fact that this government is looking to not only privatize, but also to cut the number of provincial vehicle compliance officers, but it is not clear who initiated this process. Last week the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations said it wasn't his department. There was also an indication the Department of Justice encouraged the move. My question to the Minister of Justice is, what is your department's involvement in this process?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Our function in this whole process, Mr. Speaker, is to encourage the best use of taxpayers' dollars in Nova Scotia.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the reality of the fact is that minister interfered with the role and responsibilities as set out by the Premier, because he . . .

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

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. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. This, I believe, is a motion that the (Interruption)

[Page 3042]

MR. SPEAKER: No, it is the regular business of the House, which is called by the Government House Leader. It is not a motion.

MR. HOLM: Well, Mr. Speaker, then just for clarification, because we have moved out of the regular order of business, now we are into Government Business. When the minister calls something then specifically is that new business?

MR. SPEAKER: No, it is Government Business, which is called by the House Leader for the day, clearly, according to Orders of the Day, Rule 18 of the rules, "Subject to Rule 19, all items standing on the Orders of the Day shall be taken up in the discretion of the Minister leading the House at the time."

We are under Government Business, it is not a motion.

MR. HOLM: But, Mr. Speaker, when the minister calls something, he has his choice of what he can call.

MR. SPEAKER: It is not a motion.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, everything that we do in this House is by motion and the reason . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is a ruling of the Speaker that it is not a motion.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

Bill No. 20 - Government Restructuring (2001) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor, you have 15 minutes left.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise again to bring forward our concerns with regard to Bill No. 20 and the fact that we are actually debating the amendment to hoist this bill for a period of some six months, a six months' hoist on this bill so that Nova Scotians can understand exactly what this government, what their plans really are with regard to Bill No. 20.

I listened with interest this morning as we brought resolutions forward about Big Brothers and Big Sisters and they said no. We brought resolutions forward about the Catholic Church and they said no. We brought resolutions forward about Second Story and that government said no. So when anybody asks the question why would you want to hoist this

[Page 3043]

for six months, it is because I think Nova Scotians should be made aware of how devious this lot is across the way. How heartless this lot is across the way and how they will go to any lengths to get their point across. I cannot use bottom-dwelling individuals in this House but I can tell you that some of the motions that are going on here today are bad, Mr. Speaker.

We asked for this motion to be hoisted for six months so that Nova Scotians can have honest debate and honest discussions about what is the intent behind Bill No. 20. Yet, they say no. The House Leader says we are going to sit in here from 8:00 a.m. this morning until 12:00 a.m. tonight because he doesn't want this to go to a six months' hoist. He doesn't want Nova Scotians to have an opportunity to discuss the bill. He does not want Nova Scotians to understand what it is that they, in fact, are trying to do.

The Premier's comments on a five point plan that he signed earlier in 1997. I remember the fanfare of the then Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party making it very clear that he would be a Leader that would show compassion to workers in Nova Scotia. He said he would be the Premier, if ever elected, that would show that his government was committed to the workers of the Province of Nova Scotia. He went on about his five point plan and he stated, the ". . . provincial public service will not be privatized or contracted to the private sector without . . ." - without is the operative word here - ". . . without public consultation and without demonstrated evidence that privatization . . .", is important and would improve the service delivery to Nova Scotians.

Premier, do you remember making that statement? Premier, do you remember signing your name to the bottom of that? Well, that is why we are asking for a six months' hoist, because I think he forgot. I think the Premier forgot that he signed that declaration back on July 24, 1997, and that is why we are asking for the six months' hoist, so that Nova Scotians and the Public Service of the Province of Nova Scotia will be able to have public consultation on the issue of privatization, that we would be able to demonstrate without question that privatization would in the long term and in the short term improve the service delivery to Nova Scotians.

We haven't seen that, Mr. Speaker. We haven't seen that. We just have Bill No. 20 that is being, you know, basically rammed down the proverbial throats of all Nova Scotians without proper due diligence, without proper discussion, without proper public consultation. Yet the Premier by his own signature and his own words stood up and made a pronouncement that he would be the leader and a champion of democracy and the ability for Nova Scotia workers to have their rights upheld by this document that he signed. He goes on to say that decisions, ". . . to privatize or contract out a service will not be made without a full and open review . . .".

I am sure there are members of this government who decided to run for the Progressive Conservative Party because they believed what that Premier said. They believed the Premier when he signed his name to this document back on July 24, 1997; they believed him. Little

[Page 3044]

did they know that we are not going to have full and open review by independent mutually agreed upon review agencies or individuals. I think that seems to be a reasonable request. I think what the Premier actually said in his document is reasonable. It is fair to have an independent review process about privatization. Instead what we have is a bill that is basically going to allow the individuals on the front benches to go down to that Cabinet Room and make an Order in Council to eliminate Nova Scotia workers at a whim. Without public consultation, without public review, without an independent process in place that would allow for a review process to show the social and economic impact on exactly what the government is doing.

MR. MARK PARENT: On a point of order, please, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday during Question Period the member for Dartmouth North indicated that I refused to help a constituent of mine. Actually I met with her more than four times, myself or my staff, and we placed more than 10 phone calls on her behalf. We were unable to help her, but we certainly didn't refuse to help her. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order. It is, in fact, a disagreement between two honourable members.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I don't know why that was brought up right now when I am talking about Bill No. 20 and talking about hoisting it for six months.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. As the honourable member knows - he has been around here a long time, in fact he has been here I believe since 1993 - the honourable member for Lunenburg West knows full well that a point of order can be raised at any time.

MR. DOWNE: I think the member undoubtedly will work and represent his people very well. I have no question that he would be the one who would return calls and would fight for the people of his area. I have no question about that. Maybe he should have done it after Question Period unless the front bench is trying to convince him, morally persuade him, to interrupt this debate, which I think would be wrong. But I have no question that that member would represent his people very well, I just don't know why he would bring it up now.

Going on to Chapter 3 of this document that this Premier had signed. "Public sector workers and their representatives and other interest parties shall have standing in the review process." They would be able to be involved in the review process; they would have input in a review process; and they would be consulted in a review process. Yet Bill No. 20 doesn't talk about anything. They just talk about going to the basement, going into the Cabinet Room, making an Order in Council and bango, people are gone.

[Page 3045]

[10:15 a.m.]

When this government shut down a major part of Agriculture Department - and that is why we are asking for this six months' hoist - they didn't consult at that point; they didn't have public consultation; they didn't have a review process; they simply fired everybody. They simply fired everybody, 99 jobs gone, bang. No public consultation. It was, you are fired. Yet, this Premier, and I am only going by what he said and what he signed in his province's commitment to the workers of the Province of Nova Scotia, dated July 24, 1997, signed by the Leader of the Tory Party, now-Premier John Hamm. I ask the question, why, if in fact the Premier is a man of his word and I don't want to question his word or his integrity, but if that is what he signed in 1997, does that mean that this government has to hold up to that word and that signature on that document here today in the year 2001?

Mr. Speaker, I think so.

AN HON. MEMBER: Maybe his front benches won't let him.

MR. DOWNE: They don't want to keep him in the loop about too many things, I noticed that. He didn't know about this; he doesn't know about that; he doesn't remember this; he doesn't remember that. That is why, if we hoist this for six months, we can remind him, we can remind the Premier of what he signed. For six months, we can remind him that he is going to have the debt grow in the Province of Nova Scotia until the year 2007; we can remind the Premier, even with surpluses, he is allowing the debt to grow; we can remind the Premier about promises that he made about the offshore; we can remind the Premier about all the things that the front bench is doing that they don't seem to want to educate him about.

That is why, six months hence, we would be able to debate this bill better, because the Premier would know, in fact, what is going on.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you think he is that much of a fast learner?

MR. DOWNE: I think, in six months, we could do that. I think that if we hoist this bill for six months, we could do that. In this whole letter that the Premier wrote out, he said, I hereby support and endorse the Quality Public Service Protection Plan, and the signature is affixed by himself. They call it the Quality Public Service Protection Plan. Where is the protection plan today, in Bill No. 20? Where is the protection plan today, brought out by the front bench on Bill No. 20? I don't see it. I don't know where they have it. Is that another plan?

This is very typical of this government, they don't have a plan for health; gosh only knows, they don't have a real plan in finance; they don't have a plan in transportation; they don't have a plan in anything. All they have is, ask Ottawa to fix their problems. Anybody can do that. They did have a plan back in 1997. I notice we are getting some backbenchers

[Page 3046]

screaming across the way here. She is all taped up, I don't know what happened. She must have burned her hand. Anyway, I hope she is okay. I hope she is not hurt.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you they had a plan in 1997 about how this government was going to treat the Public Service, but I haven't seen that plan since 1997. That is why, in six months, we could learn what that plan would be and what that Premier was doing. In six months, we could do that. This government talks about how caring and compassionate they are to Nova Scotians. I wonder if the good Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries if he has something to do in this Bill No. 20, in six months he wouldn't mind sharing those plans about any potential privatization within those departments. He could talk to the farmers and the fishermen in Nova Scotia, and he would give us six months, and he could share that with us.

I think the Minister of Justice, who is closing down a jail in the Town of Lunenburg, and I would like to see if the minister who is going to be closing that down would give us six months to share what the logic is. I remember asking the minister, many times, what are the socio-economic costs, what are the benefits of doing it? I have never got an answer. Yet in this document that the Premier signed July 24, 1997, he talks about the fact that they want to make sure that they can demonstrate evidence that privatization would lead to improved services to Nova Scotians. He is shutting down a jail and yet we do not know if it is really going to be a benefit economically to the people of Nova Scotia, or socially to the family members who are going to be shifted from their ability to access their mothers or their brothers or their sisters or their cousins.

Six months would allow us to get into the whole debate on the issue of what is going on in the Liquor Commission. Can you imagine? Selling booze at a drugstore. They say no to tobacco, but they want to sell booze in drugstores. Can you imagine getting a doctor to give you a prescription for . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Seven days a week.

MR. DOWNE: Seven days a week. Well, they would be able to buy Tylenol there and they would be able to buy Aspirin there; maybe that is their logic. But selling booze in a drugstore, I can't believe it. Maybe that is their way of being able to sell alcohol seven days a week. Maybe that is their long-term plan, Sunday shopping for alcohol in drugstores seven days a week. Mr. Speaker, I wonder if that will take place in Windsor. Maybe that is their way of getting rid of bootleggers and they can sell liquor in drugstores seven days a week. Maybe that is their plan. I guess maybe they figure they can get more tax revenue from that.

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

[Page 3047]

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I move that the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes now be heard.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am not just too sure exactly what the motion is and, whatever the motion is, the answer is no.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The motion is out of order. I had already recognized the honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think for procedural sake, it is important that we take a look. I believe it is a motion that is in order. Again, going through the process in our House, the first part is to look at practice, then to look at procedure, then to look at the rules, then to look at Beauchesne and then to look at Erskine May and Marleau and others. The practice in the House is - you are correct - the next person would be the New Democratic. However, our House is silent with regard to practice and rules as to what happens when another member moves a motion that another member now be heard. It is a motion that is recognized in Beauchesne and Marleau and Bourinot. It is a motion that clearly states that if two members stand up at the same time . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: And they did.

MR. DEVEAUX: . . . and one is recognized . . .

SOME HON. MEMBERS: And they did.

MR. DEVEAUX: Yes, they did. They both stood up at the same time. If one is recognized on a point of order, another member can stand up on a point of order and ask that the other member now be heard. It is an exception to the normal rule. It is what is in this House. There is no practice in this House with regard to what happens in exceptional circumstances. That is why we must look at Bourinot, we must look at Beauchesne, and we must look at Marleau. I can reference the pages, Page 137 of Beauchesne, Page 507 . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Can you read it?

MR. DEVEAUX: I can read it, yes. I will read it. I will read Marleau.

[Page 3048]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Speaker has ruled that he has recognized the honourable member for Halifax Needham. If the honourable member for Halifax Needham wishes to relinquish her spot, I will recognize the next honourable member from the Liberal caucus, as the tradition and practice in this House has been.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham has the floor.

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Earlier today, we had a standing ovation for the Clerks for the fine and excellent jobs that they do in advising the Speaker and other members of this House. This is an important issue and I think to ensure what will be, I am sure, in your best interest and all of our best interests, we want to make sure that the decisions that are being made are being made after thoughtful consideration of the rules that are laid out in the various authorities to which we turn.

Mr. Speaker, before you make a final ruling, because of the importance of this decision, I would urge that you consider at least consulting with the Clerks for a few minutes to check to make sure that in fact we are following the proper procedures. We have had, I am sure you have seen before, situations where decisions that were made were no help for any Party over a longer period of time, simply because the effort was not taken to look at those authorities and have time, as I know you would want, Mr. Speaker, the time to make a rational, reasoned, most important decision.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure, being the reasonable person that you are, you would therefore want to take the time to consult with the Clerks who are extremely capable . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The point has been taken. The point has been made. It is not a point of order. The practice and tradition in this House has been, and all honourable members, I think, would agree, to recognize the Opposition Parties, especially on the hoist motion. I have done that. The Liberal member sat down, the honourable member for Lunenburg West sat down. I recognized the honourable member for Halifax Needham, as has been the practice. The honourable member was acknowledged by the Speaker. Subsequently, the honourable member for Cape Breton South rose on what was nothing more than a motion, but the motion is out of order because the honourable member for Halifax Needham has the floor.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Let's be clear about this. I have said from the beginning that the normal practice is, you are right, we go from one member to the other, fine, but let's be clear, we have no practice, we have no rule with regard to exceptional circumstances. The House has the right to move a motion that another member now be heard. It is an exception to the practice; it is something that is recognized in the text; it is something that is recognized in all the texts, not one, it's all three. Bourinot, Beauchesne, Marleau all say the same thing.

[Page 3049]

It is irregular, normally the Speaker would follow the procedure accepted in the House, but it is something that is clearly allowed and clearly acceptable. It is a motion that has been recognized by our Parliament, and when our House is silent with regard to the right of the House to move this motion, we move to the federal Parliament's rules, and that is what is defined in all three books that relate to that. I would suggest that the Speaker please speak to the Clerks and listen to what they have to say before making a decision that is clearly going to impact on the matter.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Speaker is not going to entertain any more points of order relative to this question. The fact of the matter is that the honourable member for Halifax Needham has the floor. If she wishes to relinquish her position, I will gladly offer it to another honourable member if he should wish to rise and speak.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of the amendment before members of this House, which is an amendment to hoist, for a six month period, Bill No. 20. Bill No. 20, as all members would be aware, is An Act to Restructure the Government of Nova Scotia or, at least, that is the title that the government has placed on this bill. However, it is a dubious title from a government that is becoming increasingly suspect, I think - my cold is much better than it was last week - in the eyes of many people in this province and, certainly, people from my constituency, the good people of Halifax Needham.

Mr. Speaker, this is a government that says one thing but does another thing. This bill says it is about the restructuring of government but, in fact, there are many aspects of this bill that are very troubling, that go far beyond a simple reorganization and restructuring, that have implications that will be felt throughout this province by many people who work in various government services and outside of government services and people who rely on public services in communities for many, many years to come.

That is why it is very important to take the time that a six months' hoist would provide - not only members of this House - to reflect in a much more serious and responsible way. It would allow us to consult more broadly in the community, it would allow for members of the public who are only becoming aware as we speak of this particular bill and the implications of this bill, to take some time and provide some direction to government members and to members of the Opposition about their concerns of how this bill might be improved or aspects of this bill that would need to be removed or amended in some way to make it a much more responsive piece of legislation for the people of Nova Scotia.

[Page 3050]

[10:30 a.m.]

I think there are several fairly significant changes that are being proposed by this government in this piece of legislation that require a much more sober second look that a six months' hoist would allow us. In particular, I think that there is no aspect of this bill that is more concerning to members of the Opposition than the increasing power that this government is giving itself to determine what, in fact, is public service in the Province of Nova Scotia. As we speak and for some time in this province, we have had a Civil Service Commission and the Civil Service Commission has been responsible for recruiting, for training, for evaluating and for negotiating collective agreements with members of the Civil Service. There are approximately 8,000 employees in the Province of Nova Scotia who work directly in the various government departments and this has been how we have thought of Civil Service employees in Nova Scotia, but what this bill does, it eliminates the Civil Service Commission and it replaces the Civil Service Commission with a new body - the Public Service Commission.

It allows the government the capacity to define who is a public servant. It takes on to itself the powers to enter into hiring and collective bargaining without being transparent in what the government's involvement actually will be. We have seen this behaviour and this pattern of governing now for a considerable period of time with the current government and it is not a pretty picture. I think if there is any area that we can point to where government has increased their own power and authority while shrinking their responsibility, it would have to be in the Department of Education. Specifically, we need to look no further than the current strike in the Halifax Regional School Board as an example of how this government is actually operating and pulling the strings in the background, but refusing to take any responsibility for what is occurring and trying to pretend that there are other players who are creating this situation and who are calling the shots when that certainly isn't the case.

Mr. Speaker, the Halifax Regional School Board strike right now with the custodians, the cleaners and the maintenance personnel, plumbers, electricians, carpenters and so on, is a strike where realistically the minister's sticky fingers are all over that situation. This has become more clear as my colleague, the Leader of the New Democratic Party, tabled earlier this week in the House a letter from the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board that said quite specifically that the directive that they are being given out of the Minister of Education's office with respect to trying to deal with their budget shortfall is to go looking for additional funds by cutting in the areas of transportation, busing and in the areas of property management, the maintaining of buildings, the cleaning of buildings and what have you in the school board.

This kind of an approach, Mr. Speaker, and these kinds of directives from the minister contribute directly to the labour unrest that is occurring in the Halifax Regional School Board. It is contributing to the kind of crisis that the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is currently experiencing. Indeed, it has already been felt in the Annapolis Valley

[Page 3051]

Regional School Board with respect to the tendering of school bus services away from Perry Rand, who have had the bus contract with that board for many years, to DRL; 80 per cent of the experienced bus drivers quit in that situation and the experienced bus drivers, they quit because their salaries were decreased, because their benefits were decreased, because their hours of work were extended and because they just could no longer make a living doing that kind of work. It is a very sad comment on the way this government perceives hard-working men and women in important public services like the education system. They are seen as being entirely expendable. The value of their work is not compensated. It is not recognized. It is not appreciated and they are expected to make concessions over and over again.

Mr. Speaker, that is what Bill No. 20 is all about ultimately. It is about government moving into the shadows in a whole variety of government services, boards and agencies around the province, like the district health authority boards, like the school boards, and using a labour-management approach that will ask for greater and greater concessions from workers, often workers who are on the bottom of the totem pole, if you will. I cannot imagine what this must feel like for those workers. I mean these are people who go through a period of several years and they know that their contracts are expiring. They know that they are going to be going back to the bargaining table. They are going to be talking to their employer. They have been working hard. They have gone through periods of wage rollbacks, wage freezes, and they are looking forward now to seeing some small gains at the bargaining table when finally they get to go back into collective bargaining. They are looking for modest pay increases. They are looking for some improvements in their benefit plans and they are looking for some way to deal with the fact that many people's work has been intensified as the numbers of people who have been employed in public sector organizations have been reduced.

Mr. Speaker, this is well documented. The reduction of people on the job has been systematically reduced by Liberal and Tory Governments in this province, and the people who remain in those jobs, their work has intensified because quite often they are doing the work of maybe one and a half workers rather than simply what one person would have been doing maybe 10 or 15 years ago.

So they go to the bargaining table knowing that the cost of living over the period of time since they last had a contract has gone up. They are paying more at the fuel pumps for fuel. They are paying more for their children's clothing. They are paying user fees every time they turn around for recreation programs. They are paying fees in the health care system. They are trying to find private tutors to help their children with their math or their science because the school programs have been cut because the class sizes have gotten so large, in many cases, the individual attention that some children require is no longer there.

All of a sudden, Mr. Speaker, they get to the bargaining table and they find out that those very modest improvements that they are looking for and they are entitled to after years of wage freezes and cuts, those modest increases aren't going to be there. In fact, what this

[Page 3052]

government is looking for in these situations are more concessions, because this government doesn't have the intestinal fortitude to come into this Legislature and impose a wage cut or wage freeze agenda, they do it in the backroom. They do it in the shadows and they do it by hiding behind the elected school board members. They do it behind the administrators in the school boards. Realistically, that is exactly what has been going on.

If we hoisted this bill for six months we would have an opportunity to hear from the people in Nova Scotia who are experiencing this agenda in this way, Mr. Speaker. They are not only workers in the education system that we could hear from if we took the six months to hoist this bill, we would have an opportunity to hear from health care workers. I don't think that there is any group who have been more impacted by this approach from this government, an approach that is not an open, a transparent, an accountable approach, but is a much more covert approach. But nevertheless, an approach that hurts ordinary people, that puts them at a continuing disadvantage, a disadvantage that they have experienced throughout the 1990's as governments have turned their backs on the very people who quite often elected them and supported them and believed them in their election campaigns and the promises they have made.

Mr. Speaker, I was very disappointed when government members weren't prepared to support a rather sensible amendment brought forward from the Leader of the Opposition, my colleague, the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, that we could refer Bill No. 20 to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, which would be a very proper place to have examined this bill. Nevertheless, that particular amendment didn't pass. So this amendment to hoist Bill No. 20 for a six month period, although it does not give us the same scope in terms of utilizing the Standing Committee on Human Resources in a way that would be most appropriate. Nevertheless, it would provide some additional time for the public to speak with the government members, and for the Opposition to do the consultation that members of the government are so reluctant to embark on and engage in.

[10:45 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, this is certainly an important issue that we need to give more attention to, and there are other aspects of Bill No. 20 that we need to concern ourselves with. The extraordinary power that this bill will invest in the Cabinet in Nova Scotia, in the Executive Council, is unprecedented. You have to ask yourself, why does this government feel that it is lacking sufficient power now to carry out its mandate and the agenda that they were elected on in the blue book? Why do they need these additional powers?

Mr. Speaker, a six months' hoist would allow us an opportunity to hear from a range of people whose expertise is in public administration, in organizational development, who could talk about how you reorganize government services so that you can retain accountability and you can retain some of the basic tenets of a strong democracy. If there is anything, I think, that is clear in terms of our current political context and culture, it is the

[Page 3053]

incredible desire on the part of many people in the public to have democracy work in a much better fashion than it has been working recently. There is a fair cynicism in the public about the difficulty that ordinary members of our community have in making their voices heard, and not just heard but listened to and taken into account and then reflected in the policy of government and in the programs of government.

Mr. Speaker, a six months' hoist would certainly give us the opportunity to examine how restructuring has occurred elsewhere in a way that it enhances democratic process rather than detracts from democratic process. There is no jurisdiction that I can think of that would be better suited to actually conduct a process of true democratization. We are a small province; government is relatively close to the people. I know I was very fortunate, I had an opportunity to live outside of this country, this province for a while, and one of the things that the people I met from different parts of the world - people from the African countries, from Western European countries, from the British Isles - were constantly amazed at is how I came from a jurisdiction where citizens, residents of this province could actually have access to and know, on a first-name basis, their elected representatives.

Mr. Speaker, certainly, just to take the U.K. for example, ordinary working people rarely have direct access to their elected officials. To pick up a phone and contact their elected members was absolutely unheard of and as I often had these wonderful discussions about politics and our society and our communities and as we compared and we contrasted the political processes and forms of organization and government from the perspective of people who lived in very different parts of the world, I learned so much about what is truly unique and wonderful about the Canadian political scene and certainly about Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, we wouldn't want to lose that. We wouldn't want to lose this opportunity to have people in our province most directly involved in the political process, and having access to their government, being able to instruct, influence and be directly involved in things that have a direct bearing on their lives and make a very fundamental difference in the quality of life in a province that I think we would all agree we really love and we are very fortunate to be here.

Mr. Speaker, I think if we took six months and hoisted Bill No. 20, we would have an opportunity to really assess how you could in this current climate restructure government services in a way that they become more responsive to the public, that they are efficient and effective in the forms of service delivery, that we look for ways to build consensus rather than see more and more polarization, conflict and confrontation. That is what Bill No. 20 is, let's be clear about this. Bill No. 20 is a recipe for greater conflict, for greater confrontation, and I don't think any of us want to go in that direction. If we go in that direction, an awful lot of our energy is used in very unproductive ways. It is used in ways where we are pitting groups against each other when what we could be doing, the alternative could be to have people working together, to have people really looking at our common interests, our collective abilities, our strengths.

[Page 3054]

Mr. Speaker, if we took six months and we hoisted this bill, I am very confident that we could arrive at some greater consensus in our province. If this government were serious about such an exercise, if they saw that as an important goal, if they weren't so bent on just forcing through their own rather suspicious agenda, then we could have a bill that we could all live with, we could all get behind, and it would result in a much stronger Public Service in this province. So I think this is another reason why members of the government need to think about what it is they are doing here and the long-term effects of just forcing through this piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, concerns have been raised about the long-term effects of making the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission into a Crown Corporation. We have seen this government make announcements and indicate that there is going to be a small smattering of privatization in areas that are unserviced around the province in rural parts of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, this bill looks suspiciously like preparation for privatization of the Liquor Commission that is far more extensive than those announcements. This is not fair to Nova Scotians. If there is to be privatization of the Liquor Commission, and certainly that is not something that I would support or endorse, but if there were to be, at the very least, we need an honest and open process of consulting with Nova Scotians and having a debate and a dialogue in our province that would indicate what the will of people in this province is with respect to that important issue.

Mr. Speaker, I come from the social work community and I know through discussions with many people in that community who work in the field of addictions that they have some serious concerns about the privatization of liquor sales in this province. These people are men and women who work in a very difficult area. It is very difficult to see people whose lives have been destroyed through addiction, through substance abuse. It is not only people who are directly addicted, it is often the family members who suffer. They suffer greatly when there is a person in their family with an addiction, and children, in fact, can suffer the most in these situations. Their suffering can last into adulthood. The impact of living with people, a person, a parent, a loved one with an addiction is very difficult to describe. It impacts on the ability of children to perform well in school. It often means that the priority for where money in a household goes is into these other areas of substances that can be abused.

Mr. Speaker, we really need to think long and hard about opening the door to wholesale privatization of liquor in the Province of Nova Scotia. This would be a most unfortunate situation. But if this government is going to go in this direction, they should at least be honest enough to stand up and make the announcement that that is what they are going to do, not lay the groundwork to sneak this in through the back door after some meeting of a handful of people down in the bunker of this Legislature. That would not be acceptable to Nova Scotians. That would be a very unfortunate situation if it were to occur.

[Page 3055]

I would ask government members to think long and hard about supporting this six months' hoist motion because maybe then they would have an opportunity to go out and speak to the many men and women who I have referred to who do addiction counselling. Maybe they would have an opportunity to develop some empathy for people who find themselves addicted, who find themselves in situations where they have become alcoholic, and they will learn about how important it is that there be some controls and that there be some concern on the part of government to control the sale of alcohol.

[11:00 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, also, with respect to the privatization of liquor, a concern that I certainly have, is the impact that this would have on young children or young people themselves, teenagers themselves. The last thing we would want is to have greater access to alcohol on the part of young people who are underage. If we hoisted this bill for a period of six months, I believe that we would certainly have an opportunity to consult with Boys and Girls Clubs and with a variety of organizations that do really excellent work with young people around the province, organizations like Phoenix Centre for Youth.

Phoenix Centre for Youth is an organization that has been recognized internationally for its work with youth. This is an organization that has worked with young people who come from all walks of life, all kinds of backgrounds, and who present various problems, including, sometimes, addiction problems. There is an absence of supports, right now, for people who have addictions in this province, and privatization of the Liquor Commission would certainly result in, I think, greater problems throughout our province. We need to be very mindful of what it is that we are doing.

Mr. Speaker, one of the other points I would like to make about why I think it would be a good thing to hoist Bill No. 20 for a six month period, so that we can think more about the implications of what the government is proposing here, is that there are many challenges. We have many challenges as a province that need to be addressed if we want to truly deliver high-quality public services to Nova Scotians, and we need to determine the best way to do that.

Mr. Speaker, there is a pattern we are seeing emerging from this government and from other organizations as well. This pattern is that there seems to be a basic assumption or a belief that you look to better management for solutions, look for better bureaucrats, look for people who come here from other places and command higher and higher salaries and quite a few perks and what have you as part of your reorganizational plan. We have seen so much of this now. We have seen people in the Department of Health, that would be a good example. It was the department where we had a parade of deputy ministers. It seemed every five or six months, we had a new deputy minister, and each subsequent minister came in and commanded a higher salary than the last one and a better severance package than the last one.

[Page 3056]

Mr. Speaker, we got to the stage where we saw people come to manage amalgamated bureaucracies and larger bureaucracies, come and stay for a short period of time and leave with as much as $300,000 in their back pockets, $300,000 that certainly would go a long way in your community or in my community for people for whom $300,000 is a fortune.

I am starting to doubt what has almost become a religion with this government and previous government, this idea that better management with higher paid bureaucrats is the answer to whatever ails us. It doesn't appear to be working. It doesn't appear to have worked at all yet we continually go back to this refrain and I would like to take six months so that we would have an opportunity to look for a different song; to see if we can find a better way of dealing with the issues that are in front of us than this religion that some people call managerialism, which I think is very much a feature of Bill No. 20. It really does smack of all the Harvard Business School management trainee gurus in the MBA programs who are getting rich quick, writing their books on reinventing government or these various top 10 best-sellers that we have seen peddled and packaged to governments in this province and elsewhere that really, in the final analysis, have not worked.

Maybe that would be the best use of six months, if we were to hoist Bill No. 20. The best use of six months might be to actually look at, to actually do a good assessment and analysis of just what has been gained and what has been lost - financially, and also in terms of the quality of life and the quality of services by the ongoing, the absolutely relentless, program of restructuring that governments in this province have undertaken since Don Cameron in 1991.

I think that if we objectively looked at that situation there are a number of things we would find. One thing we would find is that people in Nova Scotia continue to pay as much, if not more, for public services. That is one thing we will find. The cost of providing services in this province has not gone down, but what we would also find is that the quality and the quantity of services available to the public will have decreased rather dramatically.

This is what Nova Scotians are confused and frustrated and angry about. They are confused and frustrated and angry that they have been sold a bill of goods by various governments.

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

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Certainly, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR.. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to be able to introduce some students from Newfoundland who are in the west gallery - I have to remember which gallery - students from Herdman Collegiate in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. I believe it is the

[Page 3057]

student council, I believe there are 20 of them. They are here on an exchange with students from Cole Harbour High School, a good number from my area, but also the member for Preston, the member for Eastern Shore and the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, the Leader of the Opposition, also have people who go to Cole Harbour High School. So, I am pleased to be able to introduce them and I would ask them to stand and receive acknowledgement from the House, but I also want to recognize the two people who have come with them from Newfoundland, Mr. Derek Chalk and Mr. Reuben Austin and also - as I have down here - our Nova Scotian twin, Ms. Connie Glasgow, who I think was my guidance counsellor when I was in high school. (Interruption) And for the member for Preston, too?

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Yes.

MR. DEVEAUX: Well, there you go. Parent chaperones are Ms. Nancy Kelly from Cow Bay and Ms. Janet Falconer. So if they would please stand and receive the warm welcome of the House and welcome to Nova Scotia. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, indeed, welcome to our guests in the gallery, especially those from Newfoundland, Corner Brook, I am sure there are folks there from around Lark Harbour and the Cox's Cove area, Bay of Islands, greetings. I hope you enjoy your stay in the Legislature.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome all of our guests and I would like to say that you actually did an excellent job with my colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage. He is a very bright and interesting person to work with.

Mr. Speaker, this bill that we are debating, Bill No. 20, a bill to restructure government in Nova Scotia, has resulted in a fair amount of controversy and certainly I have received e-mails from various individuals who live in my constituency expressing strong reservations about Bill No. 20 and what it is that the government is actually attempting to do in Bill No. 20. Also I have received strong encouragement from people in my constituency to stand in my place and voice concern about this government's agenda for restructuring government services in Nova Scotia.

I have explained to people who contact me, Mr. Speaker, that certainly myself and members of my Party, the NDP, will stand in our place and we will fight our hardest to make this government understand what is wrong with Bill No. 20 and we will look for ways to improve Bill No. 20. We will look for ways to make sure that Bill No. 20 to restructure government in Nova Scotia will result in a stronger piece of legislation so that people in Nova Scotia will have better government.

[Page 3058]

So, Mr. Speaker, this amendment that we are now debating, an amendment that will take Bill No. 20 and hoist it, the hoist amendment which is here to allow us six months to consult more widely with Nova Scotians because this government did not provide for any opportunity for consultation with Nova Scotians. So if we were to adopt this amendment, we would have an additional six months to consult with Nova Scotians. Government members would have an opportunity to hear from people in their constituencies and other constituencies and they would be able to understand why it is that what is being proposed by a small group of people here on the front benches of the government, they did not consult with their own backbenchers. The first time these people hear about what this government is proposing is when they come into this House. They find out when everybody else finds out.

So, Mr. Speaker, we need a greater period of consultation on Bill No. 20. We need to have an opportunity to hear from Nova Scotians because they are the people who ultimately will have to live with the consequences of the reorganization of government. A lot of concern has been expressed by members in this House that Bill No. 20 could lead to this government deciding to expand the number of government departments, to create a new government department without any discussion, just some day down in the Cabinet Room, a little group gets together, decides they are going to do this, and boom; no consultation, just like what has occurred with Bill No. 20. All of a sudden there it is, on the wire, going out to the media saying that this decision was made by 11 men and 1 woman, down in the bunker.

[11:15 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, this is unheard of, this kind of power that really detracts from a much more open and democratic process where you lay out your plans, you have some ideas, you say, these are our ideas, what do you think about them, you engage in a process of consulting Nova Scotians about what they think. It is the case that all of the good ideas in the world are not owned by a small group, that everybody can have good ideas and those ideas can always be improved by talking to other people who say, oh, yeah, that is a good idea and what about this, wouldn't you like to do this as well?

At the same time, a small group of people can have some really bad ideas and they might not think they are bad ideas unless they have some kind of a discussion with a larger group, with people who know things, with people who would be directly impacted. If you have that discussion other people will say, oh, well, I know you think that is a good idea but it is a bad idea because, this is why it is a bad idea. They start to say, these are all of the ways it won't work, or these are the ways it could hurt people.

Mr. Speaker, this government, with this bill, is passing up this opportunity to either improve on their ideas by involving Nova Scotians, or to hear what the weaknesses are in their ideas and why they are bad ideas and why they aren't going to result in the kinds of improvements that Nova Scotians want in public services. So this is the simplest reason why

[Page 3059]

we should hoist this bill and take the opportunity to talk to people, to hear from people about what their ideas would be for restructuring government.

I think it is fair to say that everybody in Nova Scotia probably has an opinion on how best to restructure government services. Everybody in Nova Scotia has an area that they have had some direct experience with, when they have thought, gee, this could have been done better, and this is how it could have been done better, and why doesn't the government think about doing this. Everybody in this province, I have yet to meet anybody, I think, who hasn't had an opinion about some aspect of public services, be it the education system or the health care system or community services or agriculture or natural resources. People have great ideas; they have strong views, and they have opinions. Generally speaking, those ideas and those opinions come from their everyday lived experienced.

Mr. Speaker, taking six months to hoist this bill would not be an unreasonable approach to allow us to try to learn more from the good ideas that Nova Scotians have; to look at the opinions of Nova Scotians for what they think public services in Nova Scotia should be; to look at how they want this government to act with respect to, let's say, collective bargaining; to have a real public debate about privatization in important areas like the Liquor Commission. For example, what do Nova Scotians think about that. To hear more from Nova Scotians about their ideas and attitudes and opinions about relying on high level administrators with six figure salaries to solve the important issues that Nova Scotians have faced in health care, in education and what have you, that would be worthwhile, Mr. Speaker. That would be a very worthwhile exercise to hear more from Nova Scotians about what their ideas are with respect to these important issues.

I think the other thing, Mr. Speaker, that we could do is we could also seek some expertise on these matters outside of the province. We could look at people in our schools of public administration. We could certainly look to the academic community, who are always researching and looking at restructuring, the restructuring of municipal government, the amalgamations and what lessons we have learned from this. Certainly I know that there are some very strong pieces of academic research that are being done on the restructuring of government. There are many lessons to be learned. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it is rather interesting for me, at least, this morning to rise in my place and speak on the amendment, in fact, I believe it is a real good idea and opportunity for the government to provide six months to their members. Of course, it is no secret, the Premier could probably use some education on this bill as well. So the six months' hoist would provide to all these members, particularly the backbenchers, an opportunity to learn the details.

[Page 3060]

Mr. Speaker, who is in support of the amendment? It is obvious that the NSGEU would surely support this amendment, because in a letter on May 3rd to the Honourable Ron Russell, in fact, the president of that organization requested that this bill be put on hold. The purpose for that letter, in talking to officials in the NSGEU, would be to provide an opportunity for their members to become more familiar with this bill and particularly the clauses that pertain to them. So the six months' hoist, in fact, is certainly what I regard as what the public in Nova Scotia is asking for.

The NSGEU is one of the largest organizations in the province, as all good members are aware, and I am sure that when they made that request they put a lot of thought into it to ensure that their members would be brought up to speed and be provided with the proper details. The government is always indicating that the Opposition members and the members of the public don't know what they are talking about, then this would provide an opportunity for the government to educate all Nova Scotians, in particular the people that it affects within this organization, the NSGEU.

Mr. Speaker, the six months' hoist amendment would provide six months as we learned here in the House, the Premier himself he wasn't even aware that the debt was going to continually increase in this province for next seven years, approximately. So, perhaps it would provide a very handy tool for the Premier that he could take six months, sit down and really know what this bill details.

What concerns me about the Premier is not the fact that he wasn't aware that the debt was increasing, he also wasn't aware that there is a clause in the bill, Mr. Speaker, where liquor would be allowed to be sold in drugstores. That is alarming. It was quite obvious by the comments the Premier made that he wasn't aware that this clause was included in the bill.

When you look at the fact that the Premier doesn't know what is contained in the bill, then how could they tell their caucus and their backbenchers, how could they explain to those individuals what was in the bill, if the Premier himself doesn't know? So, if he wasn't told about these clauses, it is obvious that no member on the government side was aware. That may or may not be, but the six months' hoist would provide that avenue for the public to know whether their members that they have elected to come here did their homework before they presented this bill in this House, particularly when we look at the impact that it may have on, basically, all sectors of Nova Scotia.

The six months' hoist is an ideal opportunity. The government already had a make-work project last year - we saw that during the Sunday shopping debate. Perhaps they could do the same manoeuvre over again. With the spring coming, it would provide an opportunity for government members over there who are bored. They could have a real opportunity to travel across the province, at the taxpayers' expense, of course. They could stay in the finest hotels and resorts and whatever and then they could come back and tell us what Nova Scotians are telling them about this bill and whether they support it or they don't.

[Page 3061]

Six months seems like a long time when we look forward, but six months is very short when we look back. Six months could be here, the bill could be reintroduced in the fall and it would make - I would suggest - debate on the bill much clearer for the Opposition members as well as the government members. The six months' hoist amendment would provide that opportunity for the government members.

In order to offer private liquor outlets, the Liquor Control Act is amended to change the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission to the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation. This section lets the Governor in Council to appoint, by OIC, the chair and the board of directors, according to terms and conditions and for the remuneration to be set by the OIC. One could argue that in the interest of public accountability and transparency, the salary range and the terms and conditions of employment be entrenched in the body of the bill rather than being addressed later by the Governor in Council, Cabinet and by order of Cabinet.

When we see the Chairman of the Cabinet, who is the Premier, unaware of what this bill contains, it is obvious there is something wrong somewhere. The six months' amendment to hoist the bill would in fact provide that avenue so the Premier, along with his Cabinet colleagues, could be educated on the terms, the clauses and the conditions. Then, after they learn what is contained in the bill, they could ensure that the proper information is provided to the backbenchers.

[11:30 a.m.]

Governing by regulation, that is determining details and establishing them as regulations throughout the bill, and without the benefit of public scrutiny and debate by elected officials in the House. Because Cabinet papers are considered confidential and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act contains escape clauses, there is the potential for government to act without this bill or public scrutiny. Even after the fact, certain documents may be protected from public scrutiny.

It is obvious that the Premier is protecting the bill from public scrutiny without even being aware of what it contains which is kind of surprising given the fact that Premier Hamm is the Premier of the Province of Nova Scotia. You would think, at least, that he would educate himself on what bill is being presented in the House and would scrutinize that bill to ensure that it would be a bill that would prosper Nova Scotia. In fact, Mr. Speaker, the six months' hoist would provide an opportunity for the Premier to be briefed by the proper people because it is obvious to date that that hasn't occurred. Being the Premier of the province, I would imagine that he is very busy with luncheons and speeches and what have you. So six months, really, would provide an opportunity for him to work this into a schedule so that it wouldn't interfere with his duties as the Premier of the province.

[Page 3062]

I support the amendment to hoist the bill and I, for the life of me, can't understand why any member of the government wouldn't support it, especially provided the fact, of course, as I indicated before in this House, that my former municipal colleagues - many of them are sitting over there - in order to be closest to the people, they could take this bill out into the public and educate the community and provide an avenue for residents of Nova Scotia to indicate whether they are in favour of the bill and perhaps, Mr. Speaker, it would provide even an opportunity for Nova Scotians to have an input into this bill.

So the six months' hoist, in fact, is an ideal resolution to the problem that they are having over there. The problem as I see it, as an Opposition MLA, is that nobody tells them anything. There is no communication link within their caucus. I don't know, Mr. Speaker. I haven't really quite figured it out if this is accidental or deliberate. So this would provide, of course, handlers of their caucus - they are supposed to have what they call a co-ordinator between the caucus and the Cabinet Ministers - so that the information is provided to them in advance.

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that that system is not working too well when the Premier of the province himself is not aware that liquor is about to be sold in drugstores in this province. In fact, when we look at the fact that the Premier was unaware that the debt would increase and continue to increase over the next number of years, there is obviously no communication link somewhere within that government. That type of activity leaves doubt in everybody's mind and I don't mind saying it. I have a great deal of difficulty with some of the comments and statements coming from over in that particular area.

The six months' hoist would give them an opportunity to regroup. We are all aware that as a rookie government, I guess we will call them a rookie government, you know, the mistakes are adding and adding. There is really quite a list, a bundle of mistakes, that this government has incurred over the past 21 months or so. So with a mandate of five years, they possibly could go as much as three more years and it would give them an opportunity to get better organized and be prepared to deal with the issues and the clauses that affect Nova Scotians within the bill. The six months' hoist is simply something that if I was in government, I would certainly be seriously considering to support.

Mr. Speaker, when we look at issues such as the equalization scheme that the honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations created just prior to the by-election, you know where, released after 5 o'clock on a Friday evening, and was flatly turned down immediately by the HRM, just a scheme, and the shock was evident on the face of backbenchers over there. They weren't even aware that this announcement was coming. So then what happened during that process was the UNSM had to take the lead. They wrote to the Premier immediately after a little bit of a discussion with the various municipal units throughout the province. They requested that two things would happen.

[Page 3063]

One, Mr. Speaker, was that they would be provided a 90 day extension to the deadline - the original deadline was only 30 days and there was no debate or nothing with the municipal units. They were just told here it is, bang, and we are going to impose it in 30 days. So the UNSM, of course, dealt with the issue immediately in a very professional manner and requested two things. One thing that they requested was that they be provided a 90 day extension. The second thing and most important aspect of the letter, and we all have copies of the letter, it asked for leadership.

Mr. Speaker, that is very important. That is a very important detail and I will tell you why. It is obvious in reading that letter and in making that statement the UNSM recognized the fact there was no leadership coming from over there, none. So the six months' hoist would provide an opportunity for this government to regroup and either their middle man in between the Cabinet and the caucus who volunteers apparently his good time, and outside his duties apparently, according to the Minister of Health, that individual certainly is not working for that government because he is supposed to be the direct link between the caucus and the Cabinet.

Well, Mr. Speaker, if the Chairman of Cabinet doesn't know that we are about to begin liquor sales in drugstores, then I guess I would have to ask who told these backbenchers? I don't see any of them jumping to their feet to answer the question because I think I know the answer to the question and the answer to the question is quite simple. They did not know, they did not realize that that clause was in there, which indicates to me either the minister responsible for presenting this bill is trying to con them all over there or he did not know that it was in the bill. You really have to give the honourable minister the benefit of the doubt.

Now, if he did not know that this was in the bill, then I would have to ask, who put it in the bill? There happens to be a couple of lobbyists who are hanging around Halifax a lot. One guy's name is George and the other guy's name is George. I see all the government members obviously know who George and George are. Perhaps they could get George and George to put some type of system in, over the six months - and that is why I support the six months' hoist - so all Nova Scotians are aware of what is in the bill.

Mr. Speaker, if the minister didn't know and the Premier didn't know and the backbenchers didn't know, who knew? Who knew? Until the Liberal caucus ferreted out this information, they were all shocked and they went running to their advisors. Guess what they found out? Yes, the Liberal caucus is correct, the clause is there. Everybody was shocked to realize that it was there. So six months is necessary for the government to get together on this bill and to know what is in there, to educate themselves so they can go forward and stand in their rightful places in this House and tell Nova Scotians the impact that this will have on their daily lives.

[Page 3064]

Mr. Speaker, I really don't expect too much of that. The backbenchers over there, I feel kind of bad for them in some ways, as we know we are in extended hours now and their sitting time is going to much greater, particularly when they are told, the only thing you are allowed to say or speak is, nothing. They are doing a good job at it, I can tell you that, they listen well. They also have some responsibilities, and as an Opposition member I should - I don't like to but someone has to - remind them that they have duties. They actually represent real people. People who live and work in Nova Scotia each and every day. They are not here in this House to represent the best interests of George and George or anybody else who pretends to care about Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious somebody is going to make some money here somewhere. Somebody is going to make some money, gentlemen. Somebody is going to make some money. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes has the floor.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it is funny, it is odd, it seems every time I rise in the House we get the hecklers. Whatever you call it, hecklers, or Heckle and Jeckle, or whatever.

Anyway, a six months' hoist is an excellent opportunity for the backbenchers, it really is. As I indicated before, many of the backbenchers over there, I am familiar with them from my municipal days and they are not bad gentlemen. I really enjoyed the opportunity to work with these people. They obviously did a reasonably good job as a municipal representative, because I would be very surprised that people would vote for them if they were doing a bad job at that occupation.

Mr. Speaker, what they don't understand is that they can't ride that success on a municipal level in the next election. They certainly have to knock on everybody's door again and tell them why they did what they are doing, provincially. They are outside municipal days. Their municipal days are all over.

[11:45 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I knew several of those individuals over there when they sat on their town councils and their city councils and their rural councils. They would never be told to be quiet and they would not listen to that kind of a direct order from anybody on their council or in their local administration. So it kind of baffles me as to who has the control over these honourable gentlemen. When you get here in Halifax, then you are told, well there is your chairman, now you sit there and be quiet.

[Page 3065]

Mr. Speaker, I could say that they make up their time by playing with toys or doing crossword puzzles or reading papers or whatever. But, in all fairness, the majority of the backbenchers over there do not play with toys and they do not do crossword puzzles, but they do a rather fine job of sitting there doing nothing and saying nothing. I don't want to leave a bad impression here for those honourable gentlemen over there because they really are a pretty handsome looking group. They are all smiles and they really think they have Nova Scotia right where they want it, right at their mercy.

Mr. Speaker, they better start talking to Nova Scotians. They better get out there and start getting the feel for what Nova Scotians feel about those individuals. The messages I get, whether I stop at a local gas station in Cape Breton or while I am up here going for a coffee, all you have to do really, for anybody to get the feeling that the general public has for this government, is to get into a taxi. That is all you have to do. The taxi drivers listen to the issues very carefully, read the news and pay attention to what is happening, particularly to politics in this province. They should get a taxi. Perhaps that is a good recommendation that they could put in during the six months' hoist. I am sure they could get reimbursed somehow for the taxi ride. Perhaps they could really go out and talk to taxi drivers, along with all other types of people within Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, really this government needs six months. It needs six months to get its house in order. It needs six months to get organized. It needs six months to ensure that the backbenchers are aware of what direction they are moving forward in. We all know what their campaign slogan was, we all are aware of, close Sysco, open hospital beds. Well, they sure dismantled Sysco. There is no doubt about that. They did that and they had the impact they wanted with those families and that community. There is no doubt about that. But I am yet to find the hospital beds, gentlemen. I haven't seen them yet and don't expect to.

They are going to fix health care with $46 million and then all of a sudden they have $300 million spent and it is in worse shape than when they started and they wonder why they can't get a doctor to come here to the province. It is negotiating, that is why, negotiating ability. When you go to Ontario and out West to the other provinces and pay the highest amount of dollars to import health care advisors in this province then it sends the wrong message. It sends two very important messages.

The first message is it is obvious that this government doesn't believe people in health care in Nova Scotia are knowledgeable enough to provide the direction that is required. That is the one issue and then this six months' hoist would provide an avenue for them to go out into the health field and explain to the nurses and the doctors and administrators in this province that they are not qualified to provide direction. They could tell them first-hand why they feel that is their opinion of those individuals.

[Page 3066]

The second thing is, why would a doctor come to Nova Scotia - particularly if you are a specialist who is being chased after by every province in Canada and every little community in Canada - why would you want to come to Nova Scotia for any less money than the imports are getting from that Health Minister?

If I were a doctor, I would want the same type of pay because they are the individuals, as you are aware, who actually do the work and provide the service to Nova Scotians and they are the people that should be paid. The people that deliver the service.

When we look at the equalization scheme, it could provide six months - I am in support of the six months' hoist because it would provide those members over there an opportunity to go and tell the property owners - the low-income property owners in the Halifax Regional Municipality, the mothers who are struggling, single mothers who have no option for the well-being of their children, to take a job at Tim Hortons or Sobeys or one of the lower paying jobs, who rise at 6:00 a.m. to get their children breakfast and to get them ready for school and get off to work - they are the people that this crew over here want it to impact. The low income earners.

During that process, the six months' hoist could provide an avenue for them to explain why the $1 million granted in lieu of taxes provided to the CBRM previously through the Sysco board because of Sysco, the $1 million is tacked on to that equalization scheme that these guys were going to make the low-income earners in the Halifax Regional Municipality and Bedford - we have to remember that HRM is a wide area. One of the richest areas in Nova Scotia is Bedford and those individuals would not even have been touched under that scheme. The low-income earners and over 50 per cent of the working population in the HRM make less than $20,000 per year.

So, for the six months' hoist - I can't understand for the life of me why they would not support it. They could tell the people why they want it to impact in the manner that they were proposing. I don't think they should be too alarmed about that because - I know and I will say it - the UNSM has good, hard-working people. The municipal councils in this province are second to none, anywhere in the province. They will provide the answers and resolve the problems that were created by that bunch over there. I say that without doubt. The municipal administrators in this province are very capable individuals.

Mr. Speaker, if that government was smart, they would start listening to that type of individual. I don't see that happening any time soon. Given the fact that if you watched over the past 20 months or so, there only seems to be a handful of people they are listening to, and their names all begin with George. If your name is George, then perhaps you would have some opportunity over there, you may be listened to, provided you go and talk to the right people, of course. That is why I support the six months' hoist. I think it is a good idea. I think it is a good idea for this bill; I think it is a good idea for the people I represent; and I think it is a good idea for the people in Nova Scotia.

[Page 3067]

Mr. Speaker, the people in my riding, in Millville, Point Aconi, Alder Point, South Side of Boularderie, Little Pond, George's River, Grand Narrows in the Iona area in Victoria, Bras d'Or, Little Bras d'Or, New Harris, would love to have an opportunity, an avenue to ask questions on the content of this bill. People in Coxheath, Frenchvale, Westmount, all those areas, Edwardsville, would welcome that opportunity, and I would say people as far away as Glace Bay. Yes, being what I guess we would consider as being a sister constituency to Cape Breton North, I know those good people out there, and I can assure you that those people would fill the fire hall in North Sydney to learn of the impact of this bill.

Mr. Speaker, the people in Florence would love an opportunity to find out how they are going to be impacted by this bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: The people from Inverness, too.

MR. BOUDREAU: Oh, the people from Inverness, they are very welcoming. I am sure the good Minister of Tourism and Culture would agree that if this government went to Inverness and had a meeting, they would be welcomed with open arms. Those people are very fine Nova Scotians. Not only that, I can assure those honourable members there would be more than one cup of tea for them. I can assure those members over there. (Interruptions) Yes, Antigonish would love some consultation. Antigonish would like a whole bunch. There are all kinds of little places around.

Mr. Speaker, the Frenchvale fire hall is very capable of handling meetings too, and that is in a rural area of Nova Scotia, in Cape Breton The Lakes. They do have the capability and a very fine facility to hold a public meeting so this government could ferret out what Nova Scotians think about this bill. That certainly is not unreasonable. It is not unreasonable to ask the government to come forward and support this hoist for six months. It would be just the right amount of time, and by that time the UNSM, I am sure, will have the problem solved, that they created. They wouldn't have to get bombarded too much with equalization questions because I have a great deal of confidence and I believe the record will show historically it is proven that the UNSM is very capable of providing the proper route to equalization.

[12:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that if they had been consulted in a fair manner, prior to that scheme being announced on Friday evening after 5:00 o'clock, the good people in Bedford, you know, would be exempt of course because they are all aware that those people are doing very well in that area of the province - that area of the province, in fact, is one of the richest areas in Nova Scotia, so I am sure the good Minister of Community Services wasn't too concerned about the equalization formula created by the good Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations - but maybe that six months would provide an

[Page 3068]

opportunity for someone to provide some leadership over there that the UNSM is looking for, but can't find.

The six months, in all fairness, is a good amendment, Mr. Speaker, to this bill and I am certainly encouraging all members, all members, of the House to support the amendment. As I indicated before, down in Little Pond, in my community, it is a rural area and I know there are members here who know where Little Pond is - the good member for Cape Breton North, I know he is driving a new fancy truck over there, and I know he wouldn't dare drive down that road but I know he is familiar with people who live in Little Pond - it would provide those people an opportunity, not only to their representative but to the government directly, they could fill the fire hall in Florence and ask the questions. I don't understand why a government governing the Province of Nova Scotia, one of the most beautiful areas in Canada, that once just a few years ago, had a prosperous future, which now has a cloud over it because of the direction of this government, and a government that represents approximately one million people would not want to listen to the people they represent. It is amazing and it is a little baffling for me in particular because, being a former municipal politician, and I know there are many of them over there, we are the closest to the people. We are the people who listen to the people, hear their concerns, and then deal with their concerns.

Mr. Speaker, what happened? I am baffled. When I look at the budgets for the Province of Nova Scotia and I see more money being spent to service the debt or, to put it quite simply, to pay the interest on the money we owe, that amount of money is more money than the Minister of Education has in her budget for the entire Province of Nova Scotia to educate our children, and that is amazing. It has not been an easy ride for this government to get there. This debt has increased by over $2 billion since they took power some 20 months ago. That is an alarming rate of approximately $3.5 million a day added on to the debt in this province, imagine.

Last year, we paid approximately $80 million more in interest because of the decisions this government is making. Could you imagine, Mr. Speaker, how many nurses we could hire, how many pieces of medical equipment we could purchase? In fact, I honestly believe that it wouldn't be necessary for that gang over there to collect $50 a day from people while they are waiting for a nursing home in the hospital.

Mr. Speaker, I had a very interesting conversation regarding the $50 the other day with a health expert. Apparently this individual has a direct avenue to the minister. Imagine this. You live and work all your life in Nova Scotia. You contribute, you raise your family . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Perhaps some of the scheduling could be done outside of the Chambers. I will remind the members of the House that members who are here are supposed to be in their seats. The member standing has the floor, the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

[Page 3069]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, imagine this scenario, and I certainly hope that some of those government members over there are going to listen to this, you live and work in Nova Scotia your entire life. You contribute to your community with volunteer efforts on various projects or groups or organizations. You raise your family. You contribute to various things like charities and whatever, all during your lifetime, as much as you can contribute. You get old, which we are all getting old. Actually, I don't know if these honourable members realize it, but the fact is they are about 20 months older today than when they came in here.

Mr. Speaker, when you get old and you get sick and you have to go into the hospital, you probably have a waiting line-up. I talked to one lady the other day who went to the emergency room at a local hospital. She went there at 7:00 a.m., she thought she would be early; she didn't leave there until after 6:00 p.m. That is what kind of workload is on the health care workers in this province. Imagine getting sick and going in the hospital and when you get in there - now the Premier is a doctor and he should be aware of this - are diagnosed as having a continuing illness and you require care on a daily basis. So as you are diagnosed, bang, they start whamming you with $50 a day.

Mr. Speaker, imagine if you don't have the money. This is okay for Frank Sobey and maybe some of the other rich individuals that they associate themselves with. It may be okay for those individuals, but the people I represent generally are poor, hard-working people who contribute as much as they can to the province and to their community. How would they collect this $50 a day if you can't pay it? I will tell you what I believe. They will start slapping liens on your estate when you die. So then your house and your car and your home and everything that you worked for all of your life, instead of sharing it up with family members or providing it to your daughter or your son or whatever, this government will sneak right in underneath the table and take everything you worked for all your life right out from underneath everybody's nose.

Mr. Speaker, don't think they won't do it because they have already done it in one situation in my community. So they are capable of this. It doesn't make for a proud lot over there. It doesn't make for a proud lot. As I indicated the other day in the House, sometimes I wonder if the Minister of Health is the Minister of Health or the minister of denial; because they are exceptionally good at creating a crisis and then when they are told how to fix it, they run right out and fix it and then they try to make themselves look like heroes. That has occurred in this House and it has occurred with the situation with the doctor at the emergency ward at the Northside General in North Sydney. That honourable minister over there had two days one week, all weekend, the whole day Monday to take some action on that issue and what did he do? He denied there was even a problem at that hospital.

Mr. Speaker, it may be just coincidental that after questions in the House of Assembly, not only by myself, I am not looking to grandstand here, in fact . . .

[Page 3070]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I don't want to start naming members but if I have to start naming members to keep some order in this Chamber, I will. If members take exception to that, I will start naming them as well.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes has the floor.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am not standing here trying to take credit. I wouldn't do that and I promised the people I represent that I wouldn't make a political issue out of this and I don't intend to. I don't pretend for one minute that I am responsible for putting that doctor back at the Northside General Hospital because I firmly believe that it was the good doctor from Dartmouth, Dr. Jim Smith, upon his questions to the Minister of Health, and immediately following that Question Period the minister left here and announced, within minutes, that he located a doctor willing to go to Cape Breton.

Because this caucus, Mr. Speaker, and its members reminded that government, that Premier, that Minister of Health and the MLA who was recently elected for Cape Breton North, of their commitments to that community and to that hospital, and when we embarrassed them, that's when they moved. One of the reasons I support the six months' hoist is that it would provide an opportunity for the good doctor - actually he is not a doctor, but the good Minister of Health, I believe he was a school teacher the last time I checked - it would provide an opportunity for that good minister to go to Richmond, among other communities in this province, and he could either take two doctors and leave them there, or he could explain to the people why he didn't do the same thing and why they didn't get the same treatment as the people in Cape Breton North at the Northside General Hospital.

Mr. Speaker, that is reasonable and I would suggest that if there had not have been a by-election recently in Cape Breton North that that facility would have been in the same situation as the facility in Richmond, especially if it had elected an Opposition member to this House. I will say that, and I respect the fact that the good people in Cape Breton North chose the candidate they did. I respect that and so do all my colleagues. We recognize that the residents in Cape Breton North used their intelligence to send a government member here - the main reason, I believe, and I talk to these people pretty regularly, I just live in Bras d'Or which, as the good member knows, is only a couple of miles from the town and, in fact, in believing in shopping locally, and my wife is out there every day and we know many of our friends live in that area, and they voted for that candidate more in fear than anything else because they know, historically, what a Tory Government can do.

[12:15 p.m.]

Imagine this scenario, Mr. Speaker. The good Minister of Community Services protects his rich Bedford Basin area from the equalization scheme, but socks it to the low-income earners, on top of his colleagues. Was it planned? I would say probably. The coordinator they hired for the caucus and the Cabinet made sure that that was well hidden from the

[Page 3071]

backbenchers. He doesn't want them to know that at all. The six months would provide an opportunity when we look at job creation.

My main reason to be here is not to embarrass anybody, but in North Sydney last year, the sorting station - does anybody recall a postal station in North Sydney? I do - it was that government that wouldn't even write a letter on behalf of those employees. They wouldn't speak on the issue; they abandoned those people in that community. Then it was this member who approached the minister responsible at the time, Bernie Boudreau, responsible for Nova Scotia, who by the way was able to convince Canada Post to review the decision. That was in October of last year and just last Friday the announcement came down again that the site will be closed at an approximate impact of $0.5 million a year in that little community, in North Sydney, Cape Breton North.

Mr. Speaker, if I asked the Premier what input he had during that review process, I know the answer. Do you know what the answer is? None, because he didn't have any interest, that is why. The fact of the matter is this government is standing by doing nothing while jobs are created in Newfoundland and New Brunswick at the expense of Nova Scotians. That is a fact. The six months' hoist amendment is an exceptional opportunity to this government to provide the proper information. If I am wrong, I will apologize publicly to the Premier.

I haven't asked the Premier if he had an opportunity to have an input into those workers' jobs. I didn't ask the Premier, but I know the answer. Perhaps even next week, during Question Period, I may have a question for the good Premier and why Brian Tobin is pushing these guys around and they don't have the gumption to stand up and be counted. They don't have any interest because they couldn't care less.

Mr. Speaker, any Premier or any government that would stand idly by and allow another province to steal approximately 40 jobs right from underneath your nose, there is something wrong. When we look at the issue of Marine Atlantic, another facility located right in Cape Breton North, last year, no training programs - I saw the figures yesterday and it is scary - there are over 900 applications out of Newfoundland for those jobs, all qualified to take those jobs and Nova Scotia has less than one-third. That government failed to recognize the job opportunities for Nova Scotians and they did not train them. They haven't trained anybody to qualify for those jobs.

The six months' hoist would allow this government an opportunity to regroup and get on a clear course, one that George and George aren't leading them down by the necktie, and they can be big boys and stand up and really take their priorities and make their priorities and take the ball and go with it.

The six months is absolutely necessary in my opinion. That is why the president of the largest union in Nova Scotia wrote the honourable minister and requested that this bill be put

[Page 3072]

on hold to ensure that that government provides the proper information not only to its members, but to the members of the public.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The member's time for debate has expired.

The honourable Premier on an introduction.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I rise today to introduce and welcome four extraordinary Nova Scotia athletes. Julie Lynn Stanhope and Sandy Morrison from Halifax, Mary Brantnall from Middleton, and Jessica Nickerson of Chester were chosen to represent Nova Scotia at the Special Olympics International Winter Games in Anchorage, Alaska, in February. Their long hours of training, perseverance and determination certainly showed in their performance. These tremendous competitors returned with four gold, two silver, and two bronze medals in figure skating, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing, continuing the province's fine record of athletic achievement.

Accompanying them to Anchorage and here today are Louis Brill of staff, Mike Greek, coaches Mary Anne Crawley and Louanna Joseph, and Constable Mark Connell of the Yarmouth area RCMP. Constable Connell took part in the Law Enforcement Torch Run, an organization made up of international law enforcement agencies in support of the Special Olympics.

I would also like to congratulate Ruth McInnis who, unfortunately, could not join us today. Ms. McInnis was the head coach of the Nova Scotian delegation and was named Special Olympics Coach of the Year. All of the coaches and supporters are volunteers and serve as a fine example of Nova Scotian community spirit.

I would like to offer the appreciation of the House to the coaches and supporters for their dedication and the selfless contribution of their time and talent. And to the athletes, congratulations for both your efforts and results. You have made all Nova Scotians very proud. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto on an introduction.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the members of the House to some guests who are with us today seated in the west gallery. This group is from the Phoenix Learning & Employment Centre. They are led by their teacher, Tracy Devereaux, along with an assistant, Jonathan Mucklow. There are eight students who are at the Phoenix Learning & Employment Centre joining us. They are Bernie Gorman, Steven Poole, Ben Hegenbarth, Steven Fougere, Joey Bernier, Joey Reid, Donna Taker, and Damien Woodhead.

[Page 3073]

Before I ask them to rise and receive the welcome of the members of the House, I would like to just note for them and to apologize to them for my inability to join them for a chat about the proceedings of the House since I am scheduled to speak next in the debate we have here. My apologies for that, but I would ask them all to rise and ask members of the House to greet them in the usual way. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health, on an introduction.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would direct the attention of the House to the Speaker's Gallery. The gentleman is visiting from the Town of Truro, who is by trade a reporter although he is not here in that capacity today. I would like the House to give John Christianson a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I rise to do my duty. My duty today happens to be to do my best to bore the pants off of the government members for the next hour. I know there are those over there - I think, perhaps, if I strain my ears, I can hear them - crying out that the member for Halifax Chebucto is constitutionally incapable of delivering a boring speech. (Interruptions) Well, maybe I don't hear them saying that.

In any event, I am going to do my best, because partly, as the Leader of our Party says, I am going to try to educate them, but partly there has to be a trade-off here. The trade-off is if the government is going to require extraordinarily long hours of sitting in this House in order to force through Bill No. 20, they are going to get a little bit of pain in return. Hence, they better prepare themselves. Furthermore, because of the Rules of House, they have to keep quorum, so they can't leave, they are stuck here. They have to listen for the next hour. I know they are going to profit from this, there is just no doubt about it, but it will be as painful as I can make it.

When I last had the opportunity to speak to Bill No. 20, it was on the first amendment that was brought forward. Now we are dealing with the second amendment. This amendment is to take the bill and simply send it off for six months, hold it for six months until we get the opportunity to think about it in more detail, more particularly, the people who need to think about it in more detail are the government members opposite.

This motion is known as a hoist. A hoist is a motion for taking a bill off the floor of the House and saying, let's not deal with it for a period of time, in this case, six months. I am certainly, along with my colleagues, going to support this motion. It is a good idea. It is a good idea because Bill No. 20 is a bad bill. The whole point about moving a hoist - if it were to be successful - would be to give the opportunity for the government, upon more mature consideration, to engage with the underlying issues that are raised by its own legislation. Our hope would be that they would go out to the people of Nova Scotia and ask them questions,

[Page 3074]

and say, is this really what you want us to do, we are having second thoughts; what do you think about this; can you give us the benefit of your advice, because we are floundering around and we need the benefit of your advice.

That is the situation they are in. They need it and that is why I and my colleagues are without doubt going to support the hoist amendment. Well, when I had the chance to speak about the bill the last time, I focused on one part of it and that part was the part of the bill that had to do with increasing the powers of the Cabinet. That is certainly one of the fundamental problems with this bill, this bill says that the Cabinet, without having to come back to this Legislature, can create government departments, can end government departments, can rearrange government departments, and can take control of the direction of the government, including redefining what is the full ambit of the public sector, and do it by Cabinet Order. They wouldn't have to come back to the floor of the House in order to ask permission.

[12:30 p.m.]

It is particularly this last part that is problematic, this last part in which they would have, under Bill No. 20, the power to redefine the broad public sector without coming back to debate in public, without coming back with special legislation, without coming back for the opportunity to listen to what it is that the Opposition would have to say or without listening to the public at Law Amendments Committee. That is fundamentally wrong and I and others have already laid out our objections to this power grab on the part of the Cabinet. If Bill No. 20 goes through in the form in which it has been presented to this House, that will be the result. This will be the last time that there would need to be any debate about what the full ambit of the public sector would be.

Well, we have already canvassed that. I dealt with that and I am not going to deal with that in any more detail necessarily in my hour today. I want to focus on the other part of this bill. There are a number of provisions, as we know, that are all bound up together in Bill No. 20. It is a portmanteau-like piece of legislation. It covers a lot of ground. But, you know, there are really only two main things that emerge. One is this question of moving away from responsible government style of administration in our province and accreting powers to the administration to the Cabinet. Well, that is objectionable in and of itself. But there is a second part to this bill that is very worrisome and that has to do with the plans that begin to move towards privatization of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission. It is that question that I want to discuss now because this has not yet, I believe, been much of a focus of what it is, except for casual observation, in the debate that has come forward so far.

So what is the problem here? What exactly is it that the government is proposing as the second fundamental principle and plank of Bill No. 20 that requires further study and public consultation? I want to note that because we are debating the hoist, we realize that this part of the bill, as well as the other, should be the subject of extensive public consultation.

[Page 3075]

Well, on the face of it, it is pretty straightforward. We know that this government is, by its philosophic orientation, interested in the possibility of privatizing as much of the public sector as it can get away with. That is not my view. I don't think it is the view of Nova Scotians and I think that when the government begins to tread in that direction, it is going contrary to what is in the best interests of the people of Nova Scotia.

We know that this is a government that has already carried out one major privatization in its last incarnation. In 1992, the predecessor of this government, including two of its present Cabinet Ministers, took the bold move of privatizing Nova Scotia Power. It was extremely controversial, Bill No. 204, at the time, was extremely controversial. The debate went on for months about it. Many of us think that whether it should have happened was, and remains, extremely debatable. Many of us also think that the nature of the deal itself was a bad deal. The result of that though is that we feel extremely nervous when we see this government with that history coming forward with another privatization proposal.

You know what? This isn't its only privatization proposal. It is not just the Liquor Commission. There was another example because, of course, this government proposes to sell off Nova Scotia Resources Limited. Well, that is not what is in front of us at the moment, but it is all of a piece. It is all part of what it is that this government thinks is the right economic agenda for the Province of Nova Scotia. We disagree. We don't agree that this was the right economic agenda for Nova Scotia. What we think is that great caution is required when the government begins to move in that direction.

They are already hip-deep in their plans for privatization. But we have before us one example where they have to proceed by legislation. Fortunately, we get the opportunity to debate it. It is not clear whether we will even get the opportunity to debate the plans for privatization of Nova Scotia Resources Limited. It may be that they don't have to proceed by legislation. It certainly looks as if they don't have to and it certainly looks as if they don't intend to proceed that way.

Therefore, when we get before us Bill No. 20 that proceeds to set in place the framework for sell-off for privatization of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, this is a substitute for all aspects of what it is that the government is thinking of doing. This is the challenge that they have to meet if they go out and talk to the public. They have to say to them, we are thinking of doing this with respect to the Liquor Commission and, by the way, we are also about to do it with respect to Nova Scotia Resources Limited and we might have other examples in mind, what do you think? It is exactly that kind of discussion that the government members ought to be having with the public of Nova Scotia face to face. That should be happening and it should be happening right now.

Let's think about it. Let's just think about what it is that the bill does and what it is that the implications are because on the face of it the bill does not come and say it is our intention to sell off all of the Liquor Commission. We know that at least the statements of the

[Page 3076]

ministers responsible have been along the lines of saying we are just going to stick our toes in the water. We are just going to have a few agency stores and here is the only thing we are going to do. We are only going to have those agency stores in communities that are not adequately served by established Liquor Commission outlets, but the bill does not say that. That is what the ministers say. That is not what the bill says.

The bill creates a power for the Cabinet to allow agency stores to pop up, like mushrooms after the rain, all over the Province of Nova Scotia and, of course, it is already within the power of the Cabinet to close any of the Liquor Commission stores or outlets that already exist in the province anytime they want, by their fiat. So the bill is written in a way which although it is not the stated objective to completely privatize the Liquor Commission, it allows it. The bill does not limit the Cabinet power. The bill does not say agency stores can only be created up to a limit of four or five. The bill does not say agency stores can only be created in communities that are not served. The bill does not say that agency stores can only be created in a community that is at least 20 miles away from another established outlet. The bill does not say any of that. There is no fetter on the Cabinet's discretion in this bill.

So what that means is that we have to treat this bill as if its full ambit of powers were about to be used because you don't give yourself the extensive power to make those kinds of decisions unless you contemplate that at some point in the future you may wish to use that power. That is why legislation is written that way and that is clearly what we have in front of us, Clause 17 of this bill, that is exactly what it does. It amends the Liquor Control Act in such a way as to give the Cabinet the power, if it wished to move in that direction, to close every liquor outlet that now exists under public control in the Province of Nova Scotia and substitute for them this new entity - an agency store. That is it. It is there. It is clear. The language of this bill is clear and if the government is putting that power in place, it can only be because it chooses not to put any restrictions on the kinds of powers that it might in future exercise through Cabinet Order. If that is the case - and I certainly don't hear anyone on the government side coming forward and saying, oh, we made a mistake, we are going to amend the bill, let us step back from this a little bit - we have to engage with this bill on the basis that it provides the framework for wholesale privatization, a sell-off of the Liquor Commission.

If they are thinking of doing it, is it a good idea? Even if they are thinking that they might do it at some point in the future, is it a good idea? We have to ask those questions here today because there is no other opportunity to ask. What we are saying to the government, with the hoist amendment that has been made by the Third Party is, ask that question in a forthright fashion to the public in Nova Scotia, go out there and see if that is what they want or are they only prepared to put their toes in the water along the lines that the government has suggested; that is it, just four agency stores. Well, I haven't heard the government suggesting that is what they are going to do. It is just not their proposal. That is why we have to ask the question here today, and that is why it is that we are saying the hoist makes sense.

[Page 3077]

Let's think about this problem of privatization and whether it makes sense or whether it doesn't make sense. Why would a government choose to privatize some of the services that it is involved with? Now that is a fair question. You have to look at it and say, well, maybe there are some business enterprises that the government ought to be in and some that we ought not to be in. How do we sort them out? That is an appropriate question, and I would like to hear exactly where the government thinks the dividing line is. If they are going to engage on that kind of question, if they are going to think about that, if they are going to ask their full caucus to vote in support of a form of privatization of an important public service that has traditionally been in government hands, then they have to have some basis for deciding that.

Let's think about what that basis might be. I suggest that if they are going to do this they have to understand what the history of public enterprise has been in Canada. This is not a subject that has been without study. This has been written about. One of my favourite texts on this subject is by a West Coast economist, a man named Herschel Hardin. In 1989, through the Institute for Research in Public Policy, he published a book called, The Privatization Putsch. In a moment I am going to table a short chapter from that book, Chapter 9, because I am going to refer to it and I am going to quote from it.

Mr. Hardin has looked at Canadian economic history, and in this book which was clearly prompted by the moves that were being made the federal Conservative Government of the time, he looks back at Canadian economic history and he says: What has been our experience in Canada with public enterprise? Unless we understand the context, it is impossible to make a decision about the principles and the practice that ought to apply to public enterprise and to choices of expanding public enterprise or choices of contracting public enterprise.

Hardin points out something that many of us will instantly recognize as being a true fact about Canadian economic history, that is that Canadian economic history has not been one purely reliant on the private sector.

This is true today. Canada is not purely a private sector economy. We are not purely a public sector economy. We have a mixed economy. We have lots of room for a vital private sector; we have lots of room for a vital public sector; and we have lots of room for a vital volunteer non-profit sector. That is a mixed economy. That has been the fact of life in Canada since it first started. Furthermore, the instances of great wealth in Canada that have been amassed, now by people who many of us might think of as private sector capitalist entrepreneurs, the history has been that for the most part those individuals and families have generated their wealth as part of enterprise that has been led by the public sector.

Well, all you have to do is think about people like the Van Hornes. Railways were one of the public sector enterprises that got this country going. Canals were another thing that were public sector enterprises that got this country going. They were owned and operated in

[Page 3078]

the public sector, certainly there were lots of private sector business people who were involved in the construction, in the land buying and selling, in locating businesses near canals and having to do with the supplying of materials - no doubt about it - but that was the foundation of much of the wealth of many of the Canadian families that were, and some of them remain, among the wealthiest of Canadian families. Their fortunes developed along with initiative that were shown by the public sector. Maybe it was an early form of what we have come to know as private-public partnerships - P3 - but there were examples of that going back to Canada's earliest times.

[12:45 p.m.]

Indeed, this history, which Mr. Hardin sets out, is one which has helped to develop Canada as a thriving nation. And it is not just railroads and canals from the early days, it was and remains in many parts of the country, telephone companies. It includes electricity companies, oil and gas companies, mining companies - for example, Saskatchewan Potash. Among the largest companies in this country are entities like Ontario Hydro and Hydro Quebec. These are entities that are owned and operated in the public sector. I don't deny - and everyone knows - that there is a transformation underway. Air Canada, for example, used to be owned in the public sector and a policy decision was made to sell it off. There is a process, a dynamic process in which the government can be involved at one stage and then cease to be involved at some other stage. Everyone recognizes this; times change. It may well be that as times change, we reach a policy point where we, as a society, can make a decision that it is appropriate to sell off some business that the government has been involved with exclusively in the past.

But, do you know what? That isn't the kind of decision to be made casually. That isn't the kind of decision to be made by ramming through something like Bill No. 20, which is exactly why it is that we need a six months' hoist so that people can look at something like Hershel Hardin's studies, other studies and say to themselves, is this what we want? Have we now reached the stage in our history of development of Nova Scotia where it makes sense to be selling off the liquor business, to be selling off the offshore oil and gas interests that we have. I would think that one of the places people would want to start would be by looking back at the sale of Nova Scotia Power because it is not as if public enterprise in Nova Scotia owns a huge array of enterprises. There are a limited number of them, but it is a crucial decision. It is a crucial public policy decision.

I would have hoped that the government might have generated a policy paper on this. I would have hoped that they might have put out for public information and thought something that would analyze all the pros and cons. I know that a study was done last year by a company that was hired by the government to think about what the possibilities were, but this is not the same thing as actually taking that policy paper or giving it a historical context and taking it out to the public and saying, do you agree? Do you disagree? Do you

[Page 3079]

think that there is a better way to do this? Is this the appropriate way to do it? Should we proceed along these lines?

That is all we are asking for at this point. We are asking the government to engage seriously with the issue and to take it out to people and to say to them, we believe that this is the right initiative, but we want your guidance. That is participatory government, that is democracy. That is the process in which people get their say.

I want to remind the government members why it is that it is so important to go and make sure that people get their say. Do you know why it is? It is because if people feel that decisions are made without the opportunity for them to be heard, it doesn't matter what the decision is, they won't like it. They won't accept it; there won't be buy-in. They will not find it an acceptable process if they don't feel that their concerns have genuinely been heard and this is true in any forum of decision making whether it is a purely adjudicative forum or whether it is a legislative forum, which is where we are today.

People want to know that their concerns have been heard. In the end, if they feel that their point of view has not been the one adopted, of course, they won't be entirely happy, but they will be very unhappy if they don't get the chance to have their say. Because if you don't get the chance to have your say, you will never know, and people will have their suspicions that their opinion has not been recognized, their opinion has not been valued, their opinion has not been dealt with and they don't want that.

What everyone wants, what every citizen wants, is the chance to have their voice heard because everyone has opinions and they learn and they want to learn. This is an educative process for all of us. This is a process of dialogue. Law-making is a process of dialogue in which lawmakers come out with ideas and say to the people of Nova Scotia, we are thinking of doing this, tell us if you want to do this as well. Do you want to come along with us in this transformation of society that we have in mind? - in this instance the privatization of liquor sales. People will want to talk about that. People will want the opportunity to come and have their say in their community halls all around this province and that is what a six months' hoist gives the opportunity to do.

It gives the opportunity for people to be heard and that is what democracy is about. Democracy is offering people that opportunity to have their say and you take it down to the most grassroots level that it is possible to take it down to, and you don't do it purely in this Chamber at a remove from the far-reaches of our province.

It is fine for me. My district is just a quarter of a mile up the road. That is where it starts. I know where it is. It is easy for me to consult, and it is easy for people in my district to come here and watch and see what is going on in this Legislative Chamber. If they want to get hold of me and talk back and forth, that is easy. But do you know what? There are lots of parts of this province where it is not so easy to do and where members require much more

[Page 3080]

time in order to get out into their communities, and indeed their constituencies are not as compact as Halifax Chebucto. Many of them are spread out, large constituencies with lots of small communities in them.

AN HON. MEMBER: Guysborough.

MR. EPSTEIN: I have in mind something like Guysborough. I mean, there is an example where there are lots of communities and the member for that constituency could move around into the small communities and talk to people, but he cannot do it if he is tied down here. He cannot do it unless we give him the opportunity through a six months' hoist to go back and consult in all of those communities about this important initiative. It is equally true for the member for Inverness who is the Cabinet Minister who, I think, has most to do with this bill and its administration ultimately, or certainly parts of it, and I would have thought that he would want to go around to the different communities in Inverness and talk to people there and see what they have to say and, more importantly, listen to them and absorb their ideas.

I know that that honourable minister isn't thinking of himself as out of touch. He may be out of date, but probably he thinks maybe he is not out of touch. I mean he is hoping that he gets the chance to (Interruption) Well, his government will be out of time soon as well, but the member really has to keep in touch - as all of us do - with what goes on in our communities and that is what we are offering the minister with this motion that has been made for a six months' hoist. We are giving him the opportunity to go out and say to people, well, you know, do we want to be in this business or don't we? What do you think about public enterprise? What do you think about the history of it? Do you think that we should have public enterprise? What is the ambit of it? Are there some guidelines that could help us decide when we should be in a business and when we should be out of a business? How do you decide that? When should we use P3? When should we do it on a monopoly basis? When should we be in competition, if ever, with the private sector? These are tough questions.

I don't deny that times change. I said it a little earlier and I repeat it. We recognize it. We recognize that there is an evolution in a nation's economic life. As things change, decisions have to be made or present themselves and we have to ask ourselves, is it still appropriate to be in this business? Is it still appropriate for a government to be in a particular form of business.

Now perhaps I will pause at this point, Mr. Speaker, just to table the extract from the book that I referred to earlier. This is the chapter called Canadian Public Enterprise in Economic History from Mr. Hardin's book. I will just table that for the reference of the members of the House who want to follow along with the discussion. One of the things that emerges when anyone thinks about this question of economic change is the problem of how that change ought to take place.

[Page 3081]

I pointed out earlier that Bill No. 20 sets the framework for complete privatization of the Liquor Commission. That is true, but let's just start for a moment to look at what it is that the government credits itself as wanting to do. What it seems to want to do, according to the ministers, although there is a wider power in the bill, but what it says it wants to do is just create these agency stores. Well, there is no doubt that this agency store looks a lot like the old P3 that the Liberals used to go in for so famously in the context of schools when they were the government. Now it is hard to imagine how an agency store would operate without at least, at this point, some kind of reliance on the existing government apparatus that is in place. So it is a bit of a P3 entity.

In that context, I want to offer to the members a reminder of a document that was produced by the Department of Economic Development. In fact, in those days, it was called the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency. This document is called Public Private Partnering - A Discussion Paper. It is dated August 1995. I will table a copy of this. I have tabled this document before in this House, but it was at least two years ago. So just for the interest of a number of the members and to refresh their memories, I will table this document. I have to say that this document, which came out in the time of the Minister of the Economic Renewal Agency being Mr. Harrison, is, in fact, quite an interesting document. What it does it is goes through the potential benefits, but also the potential risks of P3 arrangements.

Now, I didn't agree and no one in our Party agreed with the terrible experience this province had under the Liberals with the P3 schools. I know the government opposite dropped it like a hot potato as soon as they became the government because we all knew that this was a bad deal. What was unfortunate about the P3 experience was that the Liberal Government did not learn the lessons of the pros and cons of P3 as set out in this discussion paper that the Economic Renewal Agency put out in August 1995. If they had learned those lessons, they wouldn't have found themselves up to their waist in the big muddy. Because when the Economic Renewal Agency had a look at the pros and cons of P3, they had the good sense to lay them out and they saw that there might be some potential advantages, for example, reduced public sector risk.

[1:00 p.m.]

Well, let's just think about that in the context of what is proposed here for the Liquor Commission. Is there a reduced public sector risk? I can't think so. Is there any particular public sector risk in operating the system that we operate now? It is hugely profitable; it is well run; good paying jobs, kind of anchor jobs, in a number of small communities. I don't think there are complaints about the Liquor Commission.

Let's remind ourselves why it is the government is in the liquor business in the first place. Do you know why the government is in the liquor business in the first place? It is because it is recognized that there is a huge demand for the product, but there needs to be

[Page 3082]

controls. Clearly, it is not that the private sector couldn't sell liquor. Everyone knows the private sector could sell liquor. Anyone can sell it, anyone can sell it and make a profit. It is not that hard. There is virtually a guaranteed demand. That is it.

The problem is the social dimension of control; the problem is to keep the business honest; the problem is to make sure that those who are underage are not sold liquor; to make sure that those who are not in a fit condition are not sold liquor; to make sure that there is something of an arm's-length relationship, something of an objective administration when it comes to the sale of liquor. If the profit motive is the sole motive, there is no restraint. What you get is advertising and promotion; you get weekend specials, come in and get your weekend special, beer at a cut rate.

The problem with that is that, of course, intoxicants lead to difficult situations. They don't just lead to tragic situations inside families where there are addictions, they can lead to car accidents and all too often do. People get injured; people get killed. This is a serious problem. I wouldn't have thought it was necessary to remind the members opposite that this is the basic reason that liquor sales are in the public sector in the first place. When I see something like Bill No. 20 come forward, I cannot but reach the conclusion that they have forgotten the basics, and if they have forgotten the basics, how can they make the right decisions?

Clearly, they haven't made the right decision in this case, that is why the hoist motion makes sense. It is because people in communities will be able to stand up and remind the ministers and the government members opposite exactly what they ought to be doing when it comes to liquor sales, that is retaining control in the public sector and retaining control on a monopoly basis.

When I think about something like reduced public sector risk, which is suggested to us as one of the potential benefits of P3 or privatization, I don't see that being a factor here, it isn't. There is no risk. The product is going to get sold. There is a market there. There is no risk. If it is a question of investing money in a new store, if there are some communities that are not serviced, let the government go in and rent or build a new store. It is very straightforward. Maintained or improved service levels; there is another possibility. Is there anything to indicate that there is a problem maintaining or improving the service levels of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission? Absolutely not, there is not one shred of evidence and there wasn't in the study that was done for the government last year to indicate that at all. Economic development opportunities is another item listed in the P3 study from 1995. It doesn't come up, it just plain doesn't come up. Reduced costs; I don't think so. Access to new sources of capital; nonsense.

There is just no rationale for moving in this direction. It is analyzed; it is analyzed in the document that I have tabled here, all the possibilities are laid out. Well, this document, as I said, lists potential benefits of P3 or privatization arrangements. The document also lists

[Page 3083]

potential risks, so let's think about what the potential risks might be. One of the main ones is loss of government control. I think this is one that we have to pay a lot of attention to. Loss of government control is exactly what privatization or a P3 or an agency store arrangement for the sale of liquor would be all about. This is an issue of social control, this is an issue in which, overwhelmingly, the evidence is that it makes sense to keep these services in the public sector. There are other potential downside risks identified in the P3 discussion paper from 1995, but I won't go through them, probably most of them are not relevant. It is really this question of control that is the one that is worrisome and that the hoist would allow the opportunity to engage with.

Privatization has been something that Conservative Governments have moved ahead on very aggressively in our nation over the last 15 and 20 years. We see it at all levels of government. We see it at the federal level, we certainly have seen it somewhat at municipal levels, and we see it in our own province at the provincial level. We have to ask ourselves what the experience has been with privatization in the different sectors. Has it been beneficial? What are the risks?

I want to talk about another aspect of risk. Members will recall that yesterday we had the opportunity to debate Bill No. 38, An Act to Protect Provincial Sovereignty Over Essential Public Services. During that debate, we all got the opportunity to think about the GATS, the General Agreement on Trade in Services. It was pointed out that trade in services is something that is now being negotiated internationally. Yet there are certain reservations with respect to government services. The problem becomes the definition of government services. Unless those government services are offered purely on a monopoly basis, there begins to be a strong argument to be made that they are no longer government services that are protected by way of exemption under the international agreements.

What concerns me - and this is an additional point to those I have laid out already - about Bill No. 20 and the Liquor Commission is that as soon as we invent something called agency stores, we are no longer having a service which is purely a government service. It becomes a mixed service. It is one which is offered partly from the public sector and partly from the private sector. If it is offered partly from the private sector, it is no longer purely a government service, and if it is no longer purely a government service, then it is open to competition from all comers. It is open to competition from companies anywhere.

Agency store is a nice little term. It gives the impression of corner store; it gives the impression of a mom-and-pop kind of operation. But, do you know what? That doesn't have to be the case. Just because it is called an agency store, doesn't mean that it has to be a small local entity. Indeed, there is nothing to say that all four - or however many - agency stores created could not be owned and operated by the same corporate entity; they could. There is nothing in this bill to prevent that. Is that what the public wants? Unless you ask them, unless you take the opportunity to go out with this hoist and ask them, they won't know the answer to that.

[Page 3084]

Furthermore, even if the corporate entity that were to take control of these so-called agency stores were a local company, it does not have to be. There is nothing to say it could not be a company located somewhere else in Canada. There is nothing to say it could not be a company located with its headquarters and its main decision making, its main employees and its profits in the United States. There is nothing to say it could not be a company located in Europe. There is nothing to say it could not be a company located anywhere and, indeed, under the international agreements that are already in place, never mind the ones that are under negotiation, as soon as this is opened up to private opportunity, any corporation anywhere has the right to begin to bid for this business. Any company anywhere has the right to begin to take some of the profits because, make no mistake, that is part of what those companies will be involved in and if they are going to be making profits, how will they make profits?

I know that it is said that the money to flow to the government will remain the same. We will keep the taxation on the liquor and, therefore, the revenues to the government will be the same. Well, that is fine. That may be true with respect to government revenues on the face of it, but that isn't the whole story when it comes to the economic impact of a business that has spun off. How is it that a private entity can step in with its management and make extra money and still leave the government with all of the dollars that it has as revenue? The answer to that is pretty simple and everyone knows what the answer to that is, they will reduce the wages of their employees.

Well, that is where they are going to make their profits. That is going to have an impact on our communities. Consider a company headquartered in Mississauga operating four of those agency stores. The revenues to the government may flow in exactly the same way so far as that one line on the provincial budget is concerned that shows Liquor Commission revenues, but in those four agency stores, instead of having 20 or 25 employees who are government employees working at the wage rate set by their union and negotiated by their union in negotiations with the government, they are going to have a wage rate set by negotiations with their private sector employers and they are going to either reduce the number of employees or reduce their wages or both and if they do that, if they reduce the number of employees below the number that could have been working there, that will be a few fewer Nova Scotians who could be at work. That is a few fewer Nova Scotians who will be spending money in their communities. That is a few fewer Nova Scotians who will be paying taxes in our province.

If they keep the same number of employees but reduce their wages, then we lose out another way. We lose out because they will have less money to spend in their communities. They will be paying fewer tax dollars to the provincial government and, furthermore, the profits that could have flown to the provincial government will flow out of province. Now, that is as clear as it could possibly be and if you have fewer employees than the normal standard in some of these agency stores, then what you are doing is you are cutting corners and it will mean that they may not be able to keep an eye on all of the social issues that we

[Page 3085]

ask them now to keep an eye on - to make sure that minors are not sold liquor, to make sure that intoxicated and prohibited persons are not sold liquor. That is one of the things that we expect from the professional employees of our Nova Scotia Liquor Commission and that is

one of the things we get from them. That is what we pay them for and that is what we ask.

[1:15 p.m.]

You can't cut costs without cutting corners and that is what we are going to get. That is what this bill says. This is what this bill encourages. By including this framework for complete, wholesale privatization of the Liquor Commission, as found in Clause 17 of Bill No. 20, that is what the government is setting itself up for. That is what the government is setting Nova Scotia up for. They are not doing this with the full knowledge and consent of Nova Scotians.

Let me tell you that the history of privatization of some government services in Canada has not been a happy one. There have been some successes. I don't say that there haven't been, but I say that there have been some real problems. I am particularly concerned when we begin to see contracting out of services that ought to be in the public sector for good policy reasons. The closest parallel, of course, is with water and water services. Now I am not going to go into that in a lot of detail, but it is a parallel example.

We don't want to find ourselves in a position of having to regret the contracts that may be entered into under this legislation. As a province, we want to be able to look at the situation and say in advance what is the right policy choice. That opportunity has not been afforded to Nova Scotians. What we find is a provision that is buried within a long piece of legislation and that yet has the potential to fundamentally change the way we experience life in our province.

I don't think that Nova Scotians want or are ready for or will ever be ready for the complete and outright privatization of our Liquor Commission. I think Nova Scotians sense of values is a different sense of values. I think that it is shameful that the government is not forthright about its plans. If the government believes that privatization is appropriate, then it should stand up and say so. It should stand up and present its plan in a separate piece of legislation clearly focused on. Preferably, before they do that, they should go out to the public and consult widely to make sure that this is something that communities want.

I am certain that they will hear from people, if they were to do that, that it is not what communities want. But they haven't even done that. They haven't focused on it and forthrightly said, here is what we are planning to do. They have hidden it. They have hidden it partly, by linking it with a variety of other measures in Bill No. 20 and partly because they are saying one thing and doing another. The thing they are saying they are doing is just trying out a few agency stores. What they are actually doing in Bill No. 20 is setting the stage for complete privatization of the Liquor Commission.

[Page 3086]

That is just not fair. That is not the way that policy should be made. Sneaking things through is not what it is that good government is all about. The members over there should be ashamed of themselves for being parties to this. If they are ashamed or even if they just feel a twinge of conscience, this hoist motion offers them the opportunity to put the brakes on this initiative. Voting in favour of the hoist will give them the opportunity to say to the front benches - and I think it is a question of the backbenches and the front benches - the backbenches could say to the front benches, hold on a moment, are you really doing this, are you really intending to privatize the whole of the Liquor Commission? If you are not intending to do it, why don't you rewrite the clauses in the bill so that you get yourself a limited power instead of such a wide power?

I believe that this is one of those opportunities for the government to remind itself that it believes in the opportunity for free votes in this House on appropriate questions. There weren't a lot of the 243 promises in the blue book that I much admired. When I hear statistics that say the government has kept some of their promises and not kept others, I don't find that necessarily fully informative. What concerns me is whether they are keeping good promises, because where the promises are bad ones, I don't mind if they don't fulfill them.

One of the good promises was for an increased number of opportunities for free votes. A free vote is where discipline is not imposed. It is where the government front benches are not saying to the backbenches, you have to vote for this measure. A free vote is where caucus as a whole is encouraged to make up their own minds. Some can vote in favour; some can vote against; they can stand up and debate the issue; they can give us the benefits of their thoughts. That is what free votes and free debates ought to be about. That is a sensible point.

This isn't a life or death measure for the government; this isn't a financial bill; this isn't a bill on which the government has said it is a confidence measure. They haven't said that if we fail to get Bill No. 20 through, we will have to call an election, that is what a confidence measure is. That is where the government draws the line in the sand and says, it is of the fundamental life of our government that we get this bill through, and if we don't our program is stymied and we will have to go back to the people and get a mandate. Well, they haven't said that about Bill No. 20.

Bill No. 20 is an ordinary, normal piece of legislation going through this House. Now, it is an important one because of what it contains, but it is exactly the kind of opportunity where the government should say to the backbenchers, this is an opportunity in which we will allow you to debate it, to stand up, to speak, to vote your conscience. We have been here with this government for a year and a half, getting on for two years. I don't think there has been one free vote yet. Not one. I could be wrong, and I am asking my colleagues if they could assist me. My colleagues here are telling me that they can't remember one other example of a free vote in this House that the government has allowed its members so far.

[Page 3087]

I would like to hear from the minister responsible for this legislation why it couldn't be a free vote, and particularly why it couldn't be a free vote on the hoist motion. It is not even the bottom line on this bill, yet; we are not to third reading; we are not even to full second reading of it; it is not even the debate in principle; this is a vote on the hoist. Why couldn't there be a full debate from the government members on the hoist. Let them stand up, we would love to hear from them. There is lots of time. We have until midnight tonight, and we have who knows how many hours tomorrow.

There is the opportunity. Many of us would be happy. An informal speaking schedule has been worked out between the two Opposition Parties, and I am sure there is lots of room in there for any of the backbenchers on the government side who would like to stand up and have their say on this, no problem. This is the greatest opportunity that has been presented to have a free vote. This is an opportunity for the government to make good on one of its promises in the blue book. Tick it off. This is what they like to do.

Here it is. We have set out, speaker after speaker, time after time, exactly why it is that this is an appropriate opportunity for a hoist to go back and talk over this important policy initiative. Equally, this is an opportunity for the government to stand up with some dignity and respect one of the promises that it made that is a sensible promise - free votes. Well, I can't see how it is that the government members can resist this. This is an opportunity that the Opposition members have afforded them through a simple procedural device. It is one that everyone can understand. It is one we welcome. It is something they should welcome. It gives them the opportunity to stand up and engage with these issues.

Now we have done our duty. We have laid out the scholarly background. We have laid out the policy background. We have laid out a number of issues on which we invite their opinions. We are looking forward to hearing it and even before they go back to listen to what people say in their home constituencies, there is the chance for them to stand up here and speak their minds today. Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak to my colleagues and the government members on the hoist.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have the opportunity to stand for a little while this afternoon to speak on the hoist amendment to Bill No. 20. It is interesting, I think. It is the second time that I found myself following the member for Halifax Chebucto. He began by making reference to boring that side of the House and I think he has done quite well. I see a lot of drowsiness over there. I don't think that was the intent of the honourable member, but if that was, it certainly worked. I am going to try to do the same thing, but it will come a lot easier for me.

[Page 3088]

Mr. Speaker, the reason this bill should be hoisted is clear. Why do I say that that bill should be hoisted? The government has not consulted enough on this bill. In fact, we recently learned that the Premier did not have any idea that drugstores would be able to sell alcohol. Not only will they be able to sell alcohol, but they may also be able to sell it seven days a week. I think it displays, in fact, that it is a sign that the government is maybe somewhat dysfunctional. When the top politician in the province doesn't understand some of his own legislation, then we have no option but to ask the government to hoist the bill that is before us today.

Mr. Speaker, to ask for a hoist, it gives time for the government to reflect on the implications of this bill. One of the very important points is the fact that turning the Liquor Commission into a corporate entity also raises the spectre that all liquor stores could and probably will be privatized. Maybe not today, not tomorrow, but when the government decides, it will be only a matter of dotting the i's and crossing the t's. So we ask for a hoist to give the public time to digest, to look at and to review the bill that is before us today.

Mr. Speaker, it has been the practice of this government to raise the spectre of privatization whether it be in transportation or provincial resorts and then fall silent. This government has left many workers wondering about their future and wondering where their paycheques will come from next month, next year or whenever, or if they will even have a job. There is no reason that we in our caucus can see why they should privatize liquor stores and we will get to that later. We have always contended, on this side of the House, that the public system is the best option.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if the honourable member might permit the Minister of Tourism and Culture to do an introduction?

MR. MACASKILL: Yes, sure.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture on an introduction.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for Victoria for giving up some of his time. In the west gallery we have with us a former member of this House, a very well-respected gentleman from my area, Charlie MacDonald. Accompanying Charlie is Joe Morris, a former principal from Whycocomagh, who is from Port Hood, who is now very involved in the arena in Port Hood. I would like to ask them to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome to all of our guests. It is always nice to see a former member of the House here.

[Page 3089]

MR. MACASKILL: I too welcome the former member and his friend.

Mr. Speaker, I was saying that we always contended on this side of the House that the public system, or the present system for the liquor stores, is our best option. We believe we can make improvements to service while government still would have the control over the sale and distribution of alcoholic products.

Mr. Speaker, not all things the government has done are bad, and I will give you one example. The permission for licensees to use credit cards, that is something that is an improvement and we support that, because this is a service improvement within the public system which does not require the wholesale of government liquor stores.

In keeping with the theme of improved services, it is extremely important to ensure that rural liquor stores are maintained at the same high standard as those in urban areas; another reason that we ask for a hoist. But in this bill we now see that agency stores could be drugstores and they could be selling alcohol on Sundays. Six months would allow for greater public input as to whether they want liquor being sold in drugstores; six months for public input, so all Nova Scotians would have a say and express their view on this.

Six months, Mr. Speaker, would give the opportunity for municipalities . . .

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of clarification for the member. In the clause he is referring to regarding drugstores, he should take a look at the entire clause, only part of the clause is removed. So, in fact, with the liquor stores it would be a store within a store. So it is a bit different. So it would be much in line with what the previous government did with super stores; it is exactly the same thing. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruption) Order, order. The member for Cape Breton The Lakes is taking up the time of his colleague, the member for Victoria, with his heckling. I will say to the Minister of Tourism and Culture that there is no such thing as a point of clarification, and if it was meant to be a point of order, it wasn't a point of order.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the honourable minister's intervention, and that's exactly what we are talking about, six months, and let him go out and get public input. Then all Nova Scotians will know, they can identify with what is in the bill. So we are asking for six months. The minister can go out and tell all Nova Scotians, tell municipalities, tell everyone what he plans to do and then Nova Scotians may understand.

To refresh the memory of the House, I would remind members that there are two conditions that it would set in motion. A plebiscite. When the committee is asking for a plebiscite in respect to liquor stores, there are several things they must do. They must accept the resolution of the council or of the municipality or a petition of at least 20 per cent of the resident electors of a municipality requesting that a vote of the resident electors of the

[Page 3090]

municipality be taken on the question of the operation by the commission of a store for the sale of liquor in the municipality. The commission may, subject to Section 46, take a vote of those electors in the manner prescribed in the Act and regulations. Do Nova Scotians know that? Well, let's take six months and ask them.

Mr. Speaker, this bill rightfully changes commissions and turns that power over to the Chief Electoral Officer, but the conditions remain the same. If 20 per cent of the residents want a plebiscite, a plebiscite must take place and this bill must be hoisted so citizens have time to organize a plebiscite if they wish. Again, if the government is serious about openness and accountability, it will allow the people to decide whether they want an agency store or not.

Mr. Speaker, you know this whole process has brought unnecessary strain on employees and their families. We believe we must keep liquor stores public to ensure that another monopoly like the Sobeys' empire does not unduly benefit. Now that we know Lawtons Drugs will be able to sell liquor, we believe those fears now have merit. Our caucus is very concerned that the government is turning the Liquor Store into a Crown Corporation and this will make it much easier to sell the entire operation, lock, stock and barrel, to anyone the government chooses, but if the government or the Premier himself is friends with the directors of a large corporation, then that puts the whole public system in peril.

Mr. Speaker, this is the reason that we want a six months' hoist and there is also a question of potential conflict of interest. What happens if a board of directors is made up of those with a vested interest in the liquor business or any other retail operation? We ask for a hoist because we believe instead of pursuing the privatized option, the government should have been working with management and union employees to improve service if that was necessary. Was it needed? No, I don't think it was needed.

Mr. Speaker, the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission was doing a good job of selling their products and I don't think there are many in Nova Scotia who would argue that point. If the government moves down the road to try to improve the present system, we could support that, but this government is moving towards privatizing anything that is profitable and why are they privatizing - to make things better or are they privatizing to make friends richer?

Mr. Speaker, even after the study, no one has asked the people what they want and now that is precisely why we must hoist this bill. The idea of a drugstore-liquor store, might make sense to some because alcohol is in a sense a drug. Unfortunately, that sends out a terrible message. There are few therapeutic uses for whiskey, rum or beer. They are generally drunk for the purpose of pleasure only, nothing wrong with pleasure, but I prefer my cup of tea. Drugs from the drugstore are meant to heal us or relieve the symptoms of illness. Alcohol sold at a Liquor Commission is not sold to relieve illness although some people may feel good for a short time, but that is not what we look at as a reason to have liquor in drugstores.

[Page 3091]

Mr. Speaker, our government removed tobacco from drugstores because we all know the risks associated with tobacco. We all know that a place designated to promote health should not be selling products that destroy it. The same could be said with alcohol. Alcoholism is still, even in this day and age, a severe health problem. Promoting the latest drink next to Anacin and Advil is not proper. There is a movement in North America to put warning labels on alcohol for expectant mothers. If those warnings are on all alcohol, then alcohol does not belong in drugstores.

Mr. Speaker, we ask for a six months' hoist because we believe people must have a say. The reason we ask for a six months' hoist is because we believe control is very much the theme of Bill No. 20 and not government restructuring. We believe we are back in the good old days of John Buchanan, back to the days of pork-barrel politics, of controlling everything for a privileged few people. For some, it may be considered that happy days are here again. This is a very good reason why we ask for a hoist on this bill, to ask for six months so all Nova Scotians will have some input in this very important piece of what they refer to as government restructuring.

Mr. Speaker, however, sadly, we will not likely see this bill referred to a six months' hoist because that type of action would be far too open and accountable for this government. We believe we are headed back to the days when the Civil Service Commission existed for one reason - to hire friends of the government. We recall back in the days, the latter part of the 1970's and 1980's, when Nova Scotia politics was the laughingstock of the nation because politically, during this time, Nova Scotia was seen as the worst managed, most corrupt government going and we believe that is the way we are heading today. This bill gives us carte blanche to return to those days and that is why we want this six months' hoist.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a few moments to draw your attention to the agreement signed by the Premier of the day, then the Leader of the Opposition. The date on the signed document was July 24, 1997. This document, in part, reads as follows. ". . . whereas, Nova Scotians deserve to be fully involved in assessing the impact of privatization on the quality of public services, and on the province's communities and workers . . ."

Mr. Speaker, do we remember that? Yes, we remember that. Number one, "A provincial public service will not be privatized or contracted to the private sector . . ." and get this, ". . . without public consultation and without demonstrable evidence that privatization will lead to improved services for Nova Scotians." Another reason we ask for a six months' hoist.

Number two, "A decision to privatize or contract out a service will not be made without a full and open review by an independent and mutually agreed upon Review Agency or individual, who will ensure full cost/benefit analyses and comprehensive social and economic impact studies when they are conducted."

[Page 3092]

[1:45 p.m.]

Does that sound familiar? Yes. We asked for a hoist because number three says, "Public sector workers and their representatives and other interested parties shall have standing in the review process."

Number five, "In the event the specific privatization is recommended and found to be in the best interests of Nova Scotians, employees will have the ability to move to the new employer with all existing rights, benefits and entitlements."

Mr. Speaker, does that sound familiar? It sounds familiar to me. Another reason for a hoist, most importantly, I note the line which states, "I hereby support and endorse the 'Quality Public Service Protection Plan.'" and the signature affixed is John F. Hamm.

There were groups of workers who breathed a sigh of relief when this government came out with its much touted report about privatizing our liquor stores. The workers felt that they were spared when the report stated that a few agency stores would be established, a few, while the status quo would remain the same for the already existing outlets.

This bill needs a six months' hoist to further question and investigate the government's true intentions with regard to changing the Liquor Commission to a liquor corporation. Workers at the Liquor Commission need to know that this is not the beginning of privatization in their workplace, but we asked for a hoist so these people will know once and for all where they stand relative to their workplace. Workers need to know that the Premier has been true to his word when he signed the Quality Public Service Protection Plan.

Mr. Speaker, there are many, many reasons why we feel this bill should have a six months' hoist. I wonder is the minister not completely content with the President and Board of Directors that are present at the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission? He should be, because as he and his government alone know, that commission does very well. Some of those appointees were during the former government's time in office, I mean prior to 1993. I think a hoist would have a large role to play here. We would be able to question the minister as to whether the mandate of the advisory committee - which we do not know, as this would be established by an Order In Council - would be to advise, or another word could be used, influence.

Mr. Speaker, with a six months' hoist, we could probably, in that time, be screening applicants for this so-called advisory committee. That way perhaps we may be able to minimize the likelihood of the board being influenced. For some strange reason, Sobeys comes to mind when I think of the dangerous potential in this bill. Even more frightening is the potential for George and George to be on the advisory committee. Perhaps we are all seeing the beginning of the establishment of a bunch of advisory committees so as to duck the lobbyist bill whenever that comes back to see the light of day. The hoist, again, is that the

[Page 3093]

advisory committee - and in this case of this bill, the privatization committee in disguise - all valid questions that could be answered in six months if we have a six months' hoist.

Mr. Speaker, the Liquor Control Act. In order to offer private liquor outlets, the Liquor Control Act is amended to change the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission to the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation. This section allows the Governor in Council to appoint by OIC the chairman, the board of directors, according to terms and conditions, and for remuneration to be set by Order in Council or Governor in Council. One could argue that in the interests of public accountability and transparency, the salary range and the terms and conditions of employment be entrenched in the body of the legislation rather than being addressed later by the Governor in Council or Cabinet or by a Cabinet Order in Council.

Mr. Speaker, these are a number of examples why we ask this bill to be hoisted for six months, so we may have a chance and an opportunity to have some of those questions answered. We believe this is an example of a trend towards what we call government by regulation; that is determining details and establishing them as regulations without benefit of public scrutiny and debate by elected officials in the Legislature. We all know that Cabinet papers are considered confidential, and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act contains the escape clause where there is the potential for government to act without legislative or public scrutiny; even after the fact, certain documents may be protected from public scrutiny. This challenge, the government's stated commitment to openness and accountability; indeed, every effort to escape public or Opposition scrutiny is taken by this government in composing this bill and other bills before the Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, Clause 12 replaces Sections 4, 7, 10 and 11 of the existing Public Service Act. This bill allows Cabinet to create by Order in Council a committee to advise the minister, and all terms of reference, appointments and employment under this section may be set by Order in Council. We talk about the Public Service Commission. This section enables Cabinet to make many rules and regulations. It gives them the whole broad range of anything they want to do.

Mr. Speaker, we are asking for a six months' hoist so we will have a chance to ask Nova Scotians how they feel about this bill, or what input they may have or may be able to offer in support of why this bill should be hoisted for six months. Let's ask the Nova Scotia Teachers Union what they think about this bill. Has the Minister of Education consulted with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union on this bill? Has she laid out all the ramifications relative to the contents of this bill? I doubt very much that she has, because in the letter to the Education Minister recently, the union requested that the minister ask the Minister of Labour to appoint a mediator in the custodial strike that is taking place in our schools around the HRM.

[Page 3094]

Mr. Speaker, we hear different stories as to who asked for a mediator or who was going to ask for a mediator. The Minister of Education says the Minister of Labour should be asking for a mediator because it is in his department. Whatever the confusion, it indicates, again, why this bill should be hoisted for six months.

Mr. Speaker, because this has been a difficult time for all stakeholders, the time has come for the Minister of Education, I believe, to intervene under the Education Act, because I believe she has the overall responsibility for the well-being of the education system in our province. So by asking for a six months' hoist maybe the Education Minister will get an opportunity to meet with the Teachers Union and talk with the Minister of Environment and Labour, appoint a mediator, settle the strike that is affecting the lives of our students and teachers.

I wonder, Mr. Speaker, is the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union familiar with Bill No. 20? Have they received all the information that they need on Bill No. 20? Each and every one under the contract of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union, I am sure they are not familiar with the content of this bill; at least that's not the message they are sending forth to us. They have very serious questions about Bill No. 20 and its ramifications relative to privatization.

We recently heard from the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union. They stated in their correspondence that they are preparing for conciliation and not celebration. The contract talks with the employees for the acute care facilities in Nova Scotia have broken down and conciliation talks are rescheduled to begin on May 14th, without Labour conciliator Darrell Foley. Why wouldn't the Minister of Education and the Minister of Environment and Labour do the same for the custodial workers in our school system in HRM?

Mr. Speaker, we believe that this government, in their move to privatization, is losing golden opportunities for this province because we believe that this is a government that doesn't look at spending seriously or rather doesn't look at spending smarter and better, but rather spending more. When we lose out through privatization on such things as the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission that has done very well for this province over the years, well managed, well run, well controlled, why would we want to fix a system that is not broke or a system that is working well? This bill represents a failure of the government to properly manage the finances of this province. We believe this is an admission by the government that they are not good managers, they don't know how to manage the affairs of the province.

Mr. Speaker, those of us who represent rural ridings in the province are very disturbed with the failure of this government to respect or to support rural communities. In the resolution debated just a few days ago, the resolution read that Nova Scotia has been completely, utterly and unquestionably abandoned by the Government of Nova Scotia. It is a strong, worldly resolution, and I am sure there was a reason for that. A lot of Nova Scotians don't know what this government is up to, they don't know where they are going and they are confused.

[Page 3095]

[2:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, if I may talk about my area, Victoria, for a moment, it is a riding of small communities and villages that are connected by a common rural bond. Unfortunately, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain families and jobs in rural communities because the government has abandoned these regions. Have they done it intentionally? I don't know, I wouldn't accuse them of doing it intentionally. But I believe if the public were given six months to discuss this bill, then we would all know; if we were given a six months' hoist, we may know. Even backbone industries like tourism are not supported by this government to the degree that we believe it should be, but probably supported to a bare minimum.

Mr. Speaker, we raised it many times in the House, about the condition of the Cabot Trail. The Cabot Trail is perhaps the best-known and the best-promoted scenic drive in North America. We believe when tourists finally get here, they are treated to a masterpiece of nature, which is probably the greatest in the Maritimes or in all of Canada. But they are also treated to potholes, to bumps and a lack of maintenance. It is a clear demonstration that this government doesn't seem to support our rural areas, because improving roads is enhancing tourism and we believe that areas like the Cabot Trail should be one of the most respected and cared-for trails in our province. We ask for a six months' hoist so this government can explain to the people of Nova Scotia why they don't seem to take an interest in rural Nova Scotia.

Living in rural Nova Scotia has some wonderful advantages and most of us who live there consider it a gift and wouldn't trade it for any other lifestyle. It does, however, have its drawbacks. If you choose to live in rural Nova Scotia, you need good access to transportation and a dependable means of transportation. Mr. Speaker, it is not only in my riding, but all rural areas of the province that roads and bridges are in disrepair.

I promised the Minister of Transportation and Public Works that every time I got to my feet I would mention the bridge in Middle River that has been sitting in the river since February. Mr. Speaker, no matter the cries and the pleas that go to the minister to replace the bridge, it seems to fall on deaf ears with such things as: we don't need it, it's only a couple of families affected. But there are letters from the Municipality of the County of Victoria expressing their concern. The Victoria County Municipal Council would like to go on record that it has been totally opposed to your department's stand in this regard, they tell the minister.

Mr. Speaker, we feel it is completely unacceptable and request that this bridge be replaced immediately but, unfortunately, this bridge is not in the minister's riding. If it was, it would be moved up on the priority list like the Mantua Bridge. To detour from the MacLellan Bridge to the Church Cross Bridge is over nine kilometres with 62 homes affected by this detour. The time response for the fire department is doubled in the affected areas and

[Page 3096]

that puts the residents, their homes and their children in the position of increased risk. That is one of the reasons why we believe this bill should be hoisted.

Mr. Speaker, what about the future of our rural hospitals? Are they in doubt? Despite this government's 640 days in government, or something like that, we still do not know the Tory plans for rural hospitals. Despite the release of the clinical planning tool to the Health Minister back sometime ago, hospitals like Baddeck, Neils Harbour and Cheticamp may be on the chopping block. That is why we want a hoist. That would be wrong and it is another example of how this government is threatening the future of our rural communities. These are but a few of the concerns facing rural Nova Scotia. The very fabric of Nova Scotia is under threat and I hope that this government does the right thing and enhance instead of attack our rural heritage.

Mr. Speaker, we all know the importance of education to our children in our province. What school board is likely facing the most heavy burden and the most cuts in the province? The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board; 53 teaching positions. The minister says more cuts are likely across the province. That is what the Minister of Education said in this House recently.

Mr. Speaker, 53 teachers will be lost in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board in September of this year, 23 through attrition and 30 through layoffs; 10 of the 30 to be laid off are probationary teachers new to the system and employed in instruction specialized programs. Why not a six months' hoist, because those teachers may learn from a six months' hoist why they would be cut; especially trained in modern technology and teaching uniques in this profession. The loss of these teachers is also a loss of expertise in speciality teaching areas.

Mr. Speaker, the board expected to lose 23 teachers through attrition, and planned accordingly. They sent a proposal to the Minister of Education for a bridge financing for one to two years. It was not a great lot to ask for. I believe it was somewhere less than $300,000 that would take them through a couple of years until the teachers who were due to retire at that time could be retired through attrition without affecting the school system.

Mr. Speaker, this was agreed to in advance with the department because the board expected to lose the 23 teachers through attrition and planned accordingly. But this was agreed to in advance with the department because the board had a $1.1 million deficit from last year that they were covering by attrition. One of the crises facing the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is declining enrolments. We know that declining enrolment is taking place and we know that this is going to happen. We understand that where there are declining enrolments, there is less work for teachers. But declining enrolments of students were caused by several closures of enterprises in the area, the Devco mine closures. The loss of the Sysco steel plant means an even steeper decline in enrolment in the next number of years.

[Page 3097]

Mr. Speaker, the impact on the funding formula on the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is at the root of the problem today.

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

MR. MACASKILL: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for giving me the time. In the Speaker's Gallery today, we have a former member of the House of Assembly, Mr. George Snow, and I would ask the members to give him a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome, it is like Old Home Week here today. I guess all the former members are coming back. The honourable member for Victoria has the floor. You have 14 minutes left.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, the formula assumes a teacher/student ratio of 1:16.5. Currently, in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional District School Board, the ratio is 1:15.1. But the department's deputy minister reportedly told the board superintendent to increase class sizes across the board so that the ratio is closer to the provincial average. To achieve that average, the board would have to lay off an additional - guess how many? - 95 teachers. That only includes teachers. It doesn't include bus drivers and the whole support system that it takes to maintain the school.

This directive to increase class sizes and diminish teaching staff has profound implications on the early intervention and the assessment procedure designed to bring additional attention to elementary learners in need, Mr. Speaker. This is because the Nova Scotia Teachers Union collective agreement assures the last hired are the first laid off. That is why we ask for a six months' hoist, so the teachers, the parents and the union will have a chance to have some input into Bill No. 20, so that we can get this bill where most people can, probably not be completely satisfied, but to reach some consensus where we can all live with it.

Mr. Speaker, because hiring in recent years has focused on those with specialties in elementary and special education, those teachers are the most vulnerable to layoffs. This situation makes the government's commitment to equitable resourcing of education and early intervention ring sort of hollow. Respecting the special education needs, it would also cost an additional $38 million to implement the recommendations of a special report contracted by the board to look into special education delivery.

[Page 3098]

[2:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the board and the teachers feel the government is not acknowledging that declining enrolment, and that declining enrolment is directly related to economic development decisions made by this government. In May 1999, the board commissioned a study of labour force and economic indicators of future enrolment, and found that the Sysco sale will result in an additional decline of 750 students in about two years' time.

Mr. Speaker, in responses in Question Period in this House, the minister claims she recognized the unique challenges of that board and gave them an additional $900,000. One real problem is the lack of multi-year budget plans, so boards can truly project expenses over a number of years. The funding formula used to be 80-20, meaning all boards received 80 per cent funding as a matter of course, but the additional 20 per cent of the budget was enrolment-based. Because this year the formula was changed to 75-25, it creates a difficult burden on the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board.

Mr. Speaker, we ask for a six months' hoist to give this board a better understanding and a clearer picture of what Bill No. 20 is all about. Naturally, the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is negatively impacted by an increased portion of the formula being based on enrolment. Many believe this new formula cannot help but have the effect of diminishing the board's ability to deliver the core curriculum in those schools. The Premier says he has no interest in micromanaging boards, but that is in effect what he is doing, because of the way budgets are tallied.

Mr. Speaker, next year 100 teachers will retire from the board and that mass exodus of older teachers will ensure, one, increased teacher/student ratio, as the government wants; and two, opportunities for new and better trained teachers, which teachers, parents and students want. The member for Cape Breton South suggested in Question Period some time ago that some sort of bridge financing or some effort by the government to stretch the growth of the teacher/student ratio over two to three years instead of one would solve the problem.

Mr. Speaker, this is because, once again, 100 teachers are due to retire next year. We want a six months' hoist because when that happens, the teacher/student ratio in the district will meet the provincial average and satisfy the planning needs of the department. What is needed is a one-time, one-year bridge financing so probationary and permanent teachers will not be lost to the system.

Mr. Speaker, we all know that regional school boards do not thrive unless they are actively plugged into their community, contributing to and responding to the issues that face them daily. It has been the intention of this board to keep the public informed about their business, and to expect support when things go wrong. This board has been struggling with shortfalls in their budgets for the last six years. It was reported several times in the past that

[Page 3099]

it must be spring because the local school boards are projecting a shortfall and staff reductions are an unfortunate result of that process.

Mr. Speaker, the school board had a deficit develop this year, and most of us know because of events that were difficult to predict. A long cold winter, joined by fuel cost inflation, which came together. What were the consequences of that? A $600,000 shortfall in their budget for this year, 2000-01. When they were unable to predict the loss of days by staff, it further exasperated the deficit by approximately $200,000. Another $300,000 was paid out in staff increments and wages, stemming from the Department of Education's clawback during the wage freeze of 1996. Other overbudget expenditures on electricity, gasoline and diesel, brought their total deficit to $1.5 million. In the interim, a number of events occurred that allowed them to reduce their deficit to $700,000.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Education gave all boards some relief in the form of a fuel deficit initiative. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board received approximately $600,000. The Department of Education had to come up with an additional $300,000 to go against their deficit and they were able to bring forward a $700,000 deficit, as the first expenditure in the 2000-01 year budget. We ask for a hoist to give this particular board and other boards in the province, like the board in the HRM that is facing problems within their system with their custodial workers and other problems that they may have, to make overtures to the Department of Education for assistance and they were asked to provide an interim transition plan, to guarantee the reduction of teachers so they would more closely come within the range of the student/teacher ratio average in the Province of Nova Scotia. They were presently showing a teacher/student ratio of 15 to 1, while the average for the province is 16 to 1. It was further announced that they would have to cut another 95 teachers to reach the provincial average.

Mr. Speaker, because they have a greater student decline, they are harnessed with a funding predicament that gives them fewer dollars for the support of their education and for the students who are in their care. I think it is unfair. I think every board should have the necessary resources available to provide the education. I don't think it is fair that you ask for the bare minimum, because there are a lot of activities that take place in the schools that are not directly related to the education aspect, what I am referring to is music, sport and other activities, that are very important to educating our children today.

Mr. Speaker, I know that my time is getting short so I just want to bring my remarks to a close today on the problem that is facing our softwood lumber exports in the Province of Nova Scotia. That is relative to the threat of U.S. countervailing duties or trade actions against our softwood lumber industry. We all know that 2,300 are dependent on our softwood lumber industry; $1.4 billion of government revenue, our Gross Domestic Product is from softwood lumber. The value of our softwood lumber is equivalent to the value of Nova Scotia's tourism industry or our annual fish exports.

[Page 3100]

It is a primary concern to our industry and to our lumber supplies that this be dealt with by every means possible because our regional goals differ somewhat from the national interest because of the unique characteristics of our softwood lumber industry which includes high concentrations of privately-owned, family-operated lumber operations and a relatively high concentration of softwood species in the plant communities that comprise our forests.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Thank you. The member's time has expired.

The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I certainly hope that my comments for the next while, whether it will be an hour or not - my intent is not to bore the members across the floor, but I am sure they will argue when I am done whether or not it has been enlightening.

Something I think is important for all members to reflect on, especially those of us who have only been in the House for a short time. I think back to probably the very beginning of any thoughts of how politicians affect my life had come with the actions of the Donald Cameron Government. I have to say there probably was a point in my life when if I were to enter politics, I may have done it as a Tory or as a Liberal and not necessarily as a New Democrat. I do want to say thank God, or some other power, that I actually have seen the light and tried to move toward it - even if it has been a journey slightly to the left.

I want to say that I, like many Nova Scotians, didn't give politics or politicians much thought. I was too absorbed in raising my family, the job I had as a teacher which consumed a lot of my time, although people who are not teachers or who are not married to teachers, certainly don't really realize the effort and the time that that job requires. So like lots of young people who had been recently married and had a new family, et cetera, I was pretty well preoccupied with lots of important issues and didn't give a lot of thought to politics or politicians. Actually, it wasn't until the Donald Cameron Government had signed a contract with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and then broke the contract that it actually made me sit up and notice a little bit about what it is that government's do.

It wasn't a concern so much in that I had lost so much in the breaking of the contract. What it was was a concern that the government didn't feel an obligation to stand up to their word at the time. That is what bothered me the most and I would say that if I could identify that as a spark that actually ignited some interest in politics, then it certainly ignited an interest not to go in the direction of the Progressive Conservative Party.

I think when I realized that the government had broken that contract, I laid awake that night and thought, I am not sure any of these politicians actually are thinking about me or my family at all when they make any of these decisions.

[Page 3101]

[2:30 p.m.]

In the present bill that this amendment deals with, the hoist amendment is actually in a lot of ways a very real reincarnation for me of my thoughts of what governments are, and actually here it is in black and white. Mr. Speaker, this amendment would allow the government and actually the public to have some time to reflect on this piece of legislation. Do I think that it actually would do some good for the government to have time to reflect on this? Absolutely not. I don't see that there is even a glimmer of hope that this government in six months, or nine months, or nine years, will actually have time enough to reinvent a piece of legislation that would actually work to benefiting Nova Scotians, because this piece of legislation does not do that.

You have to call into question who does it benefit and what agenda can a government have if benefiting the lives of its citizens is not priority number one and to do that in a prudent fashion, to try to generate policy and direction that actually improves people's lives, but in a cost-effective manner.

I have heard members of the government, Mr. Speaker, on the few occasions that any of them will get up and speak, say that government can't be everything to everyone; true enough. But what they indicate in their legislation is that government can't be anything to anyone. I think government has a responsibility to at least be something to everyone. There are those things that we know that all Nova Scotians hold dear. Health care and education are two.

The question of what this bill represents with regard to both of those is significant. Actually the clause in this bill, and I don't know if I have the wording of it here, but the wording is something to the effect that the Government of Nova Scotia can enter into an agreement with the Government of Canada, or any other agency, or any other body, or anybody, something to that effect, which is basically in black and white terms opening the door for privatization.

This is something that the government would not acknowledge previously that they wanted to head down this road. Certainly it is something that we said was behind the actions of government, to privatize as much of the services offered by the government, that Nova Scotians would feel that it is in their best interests to have those in the public domain. This clause definitely would indicate that the government in real black and white terms is intending to carry out privatization. Now, the question is, of what services?

Well, Mr. Speaker, I would say certainly in this bill we also have the creation of the Liquor Corporation and I would take that to be the first step toward privatization of liquor stores. What the time frame is or how that will come about is not clear from the legislation. It is certainly not clear from the government, but certainly the intent is shown to be here and you have to ask yourself who in their right mind would feel that the present system that is

[Page 3102]

controlled by the government is a disadvantage to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. I haven't heard one reason why anybody on the government side, or anybody in the public, feels that it is a disadvantage.

As a matter of fact, I have actually had people approach me saying they would like to be able to open a liquor store. I think some of them would feel it is a licence to print money and in the right locations it probably would be, but there would be those locations in this province where it would not be a licence to print money. As a matter of fact, I think there are many who see the ability to sell liquor as an additional crutch that would help a business that they may have that is already in financial trouble and seeing the sale of liquor as something that they could use to prop up other sales and hopefully maintain their business.

That, in and of itself, is not the reason you engage in stepping away from public policy. You have to ask yourself, what is the benefit for the public, generally, and what would be the benefit to the private sector? Certainly, we can see to Nova Scotians that there is no benefit when it comes to accessibility or to price for alcohol. This has been proven in other jurisdictions. Alberta is one in which the accessibility did not improve and the price did not improve. Actually, in some cases the accessibility decreased and the price increased. We would say that there are liquor stores in this province, generally the fact that they may not have as high a profit margin as other stores allows for other stores in those better locations to help carry a bit of the load and offer some equity to citizens in areas that have a lower population, more rural, et cetera, and also allows for the Liquor Commission to sell those products that would be in low demand in various locations, but still allow some of the people in those areas to have access to some variety of selection within the liquor store. The large distribution network that the Liquor Commission enjoys also helps reduce some of those costs.

Now, the question is, do you really intend to allow small corner stores to be selling alcohol? Or is this eventually going to wind up in the hands of those who would have large distribution networks already in place, and that would be large retail outlets and the one that certainly comes to mind would be something like Sobeys? Members opposite will say, well, if you slam anyone you are always slamming Sobeys, well, that is not true, it is the fact of the structure of the Sobeys organization that would allow it the flexibility that would be needed to maximize profit in this regard, and also they could cut their costs as far as what they pay staff compared to what the liquor stores pay.

You have to ask yourself, how much has this government done in terms of job creation around this province? We can tell from the Civil Service, right off the bat, that they have not created any jobs there. The first thing that happened when this government came into power, and we saw it hands down, in real terms, last spring, with the cutting in the various departments, and the Department of Agriculture is the one that comes to mind for me.

[Page 3103]

If you are not creating jobs in Nova Scotia, if that is not something that you see as the mandate for this government, then certainly maintaining good paying jobs in areas of this province that don't have a lot of good paying jobs would be important. There are liquor stores in rural Nova Scotia where the people working in those stores are actually making some of the best money or have one of the best paying jobs there is in the area, therefore it is a benefit to the community. You have to ask yourself, what is it that people do with that money? You would think that the direction of the government is that people dig a hole in their backyard and they take their money and dump it into this hole, and when it gets filled they will cover it over and dig another one, but that money goes completely out of circulation within the economy. But that is not true.

People use that money to buy goods to generate the economy. You can either distribute the wealth that is generated through the Liquor Commission in an equitable way among as many people as you can throughout the province, or you can allow that wealth to wind up in the hands of a very few and not be distributed for the taxpayers.

If we had been able to pay a wage that is seen to be a good wage for the workers of the Liquor Commission and yet make a significant profit of over $100 million as well, plus control the sale of liquor in a reasonable and responsible manner, then why isn't this a win win situation for Nova Scotians? Why would you want to take something that ain't broke and try to fix it? Because I think the alternative, we are going to find, and there is information readily available to the government, Mr. Speaker, that would indicate that that is not the way to go. Jurisdictions that have tried that have realized that and you would be much farther ahead to maintain the system that we have because dismantling it will certainly cost too much to reconstruct it. Like so many things that governments do, once it is gone, it is gone and you can't bring it back.

Mr. Speaker, a six months' hoist amendment would allow the government to have some time to reflect on where it is going. They haven't told us. This hasn't been clearly articulated in this piece of legislation, what the government really intends to do. Like so many things that we try to analyze on this side of the floor, or the members of both of these Opposition caucuses, there were no truer words spoken by the Premer than when he told the Opposition that they must ferret out the information they want. Well, we have been doing that, and to the best of our knowledge and the clearest indication of what we have been predicting, has come through in this Bill No. 20.

Some of what this bill is designed to do has already been done. We talk about restructuring. We talk about the amalgamation of the Department of Agriculture and Marketing and the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture into the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. We know that that has already been done. So this bill basically puts the final touches, legally, on that part of the restructuring, as well as others.

[Page 3104]

It is an interesting approach the government has, Mr. Speaker, in doing this. It does the restructuring and then it brings in the legislation. It doesn't bring the legislation to the House first and then allow for debate so that the public can really be aware of what its intent was. I remember one of the members of the Liberal caucus speaking, I think it was the member for Lunenburg West, about the lack of consultation around the cuts to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Actually, he is right in the sense that there was a lack of public consultation.

HON. JAMES MUIR: You were actually listening.

MR. MACDONELL: I actually was listening. I want to tell the Minister of Health that, on occasion, I do listen in this House. Actually, the fact that he made a comment means that he is listening to me. So, Mr. Speaker, there was no public consultation around those cuts to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, but there was an analysis of those programs that are offered by the department and within those branches that have been cut. I think, with a grain of salt, members would think, well, if you are going to have the very people whose jobs are going to be cut to do the analysis, then you would expect that their response would be that the job is necessary. I am willing to accept that that is certainly a justifiable criticism. But, in that analysis, if anybody was to look at it, then you would have to say, well, is this service being offered in some other way? In other words, is there a duplication of service at this department? If there is, it might seem that that being a redundant service, we should eliminate it.

Throughout the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and other departments, I think Community Services is the one that comes to mind, as well, then this was shown to not be the case. The programs and services being offered by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries were not a duplication of services, they were stand-alone services that had been readily received and shown to be necessary.

[2:45 p.m.]

I can't remember, but there was one specific program that had been evaluated previous to the cuts and shown to be very necessary, and that didn't mean anything. The fact that the program was shown to provide good service - and good service at a good cost - and shown to be necessary didn't have any effect in saving that program. So it only points to the very thing that we are hoping this hoist amendment will do, and that is that the government will take time and consult with people before they bring this piece of legislation back to the floor of the House, because when it comes to the restructuring in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, there was no public input into that at all and even the input of government itself had no effect on stopping the cuts. The government's plan was to hit a number in the budget, we are going to cut this many dollars, and that means in doing that we are going to cut programs to make it match, whether or not the programs were worthwhile or actually proved beneficial to Nova Scotians.

[Page 3105]

Mr. Speaker, earlier I talked about the change to the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission and the effects of privatization. I said if you destroy the Liquor Commission in its present structure, you will never rebuild it, you will never bring it back. I think that applies to something that has the infrastructure of the Liquor Commission. It doesn't seem to apply to those commissions or boards, or whatever you may want to call them, that we see being formed here, like the Public Service Commission and the Treasury Board. In one way or another, governments have been reinventing the wheel, as governments come and governments go, trying to position themselves and their friends so that the government actually exercises the most control that it can.

One question you have to ask, Mr. Speaker - and I think it is a fairly glaring question - has to be, what is this Conservative Government's agenda? And I mean in terms of a greater vision for the province. Certainly one thing we can see is there is no vision. This is pretty much looking back over your shoulder rather than looking ahead.

This Public Service Commission will actually probably destroy free collective bargaining as we know it. The government will exercise more control over a variety of bodies, school boards, in particular, in their contract negotiations, as well as a variety of other boards like the Workers' Compensation Board. If we think about the impact that this Public Service Commission will have on collective bargaining, the Trade Union Act, it will be significant. I think that any employees, the union members, will know from this piece of legislation that they will no longer be able to really bargain with their employer in a free and open mechanism that would allow, even to the point that both they and the employer agree on conditions, because the Cabinet can really decide they disagree and therefore you can't sign the agreement.

I have to say that you have to question why the government feels it needs this much power in this Act and it can only be related to that clause that I referred to that deals with the privatization so that if these services are going to be privatized, the powers of the unions prior to that is dwindled to the point that there is no power left and any private sector individuals taking on any of these services will not be as subject to restraint by the unions, and probably as a marketing tool that would be necessary. In other words, their private sector partners who might be interested in providing this service certainly are not going to want to feel hamstrung by whatever agreements would be in place by unions at the time.

I have to say how is it the government feels that its ability to deliver services has been so constrained by its collective agreements in good faith with members of any of these unions and I think if they proceed down this road, Mr. Speaker, then I would say that they are going to find themselves in for a battle. This may be a message that is easily sold, I think, to some Nova Scotians, but it will be the delivery of service that will actually be the rallying point for Nova Scotians generally because in any area where this has been tried the service has not matched the costs and the difference has only turned out to be a poorer quality of service at a higher cost. Nova Scotians, actually, Mr. Speaker, that is a road that they have been down

[Page 3106]

for several years since at least probably 1991 and since we saw the start of cutbacks carried on through 1993 to 1998 with the Liberals, picked up again by this Tory Government, and I think Nova Scotians have been quite patient. Nova Scotians have been told this is necessary. Nova Scotians have been told that at some point the books will be balanced and the lives of everybody generally will be better.

Well, it has not happened and there is no indication from this government that it is going to happen as yet. The debt is still increasing even though the government has jigged the numbers so that it would appear that they are going to balance the books as far as the deficit is concerned and that is certainly a possibility, I hope they do, but if you are going to do that based on extra dollars from the federal government and $100 million that you are taking out of the pockets of Nova Scotians, then there has been no creative plan to address the deficit situation in this province by this government. All I can see is that we are heading down a road to balance the books, offer a tax break, and be into another election.

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

MR. MACDONELL: Certainly, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the members' attention to our visitors in the east gallery. Today we have special guests from the National and New Brunswick Chapters of the Canadian Deafblind and Rubella Association and from the Canadian National Society of the Deafblind. They are in Halifax to meet with the Nova Scotia group to talk about how they are going to proceed.

I would like to introduce them, if I could. There is Linda LeLièvre from the Deafness Advocacy Association of Nova Scotia; Frank O'Sullivan from the Society of Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Nova Scotia; Cindy Boutilier from the Society of Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Nova Scotia; Marie Josee Crawford from the Canadian Association of Deaf; Jane Sayer, Canadian National Society of the Deafblind; Pam Janzen is an intervener; Stan Munro, Canadian Deaflind and Rubella Association from the national office; and Betty MacDonald from the Metro Deaf Literary Network. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly appreciate and welcome all the guests to the gallery today.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I also welcome the guests in the gallery. (Interruption) I am getting a question from the honourable member for Richmond about the funding to APSEA, so maybe the minister will return that funding.

[Page 3107]

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting, the different ways that legislation comes to the House and the wording of that legislation. Actually, it is interesting, the two approaches of government and the Opposition. I mean here we have a piece of legislation that would appear, in fairly black and white terms, to show the intent of the government and not certainly progressive legislation, let's put it in those terms. But then there are those pieces of legislation that come before the House that seem to be the right kinds of legislation, legislation that would seem to have a positive intent and that we would hope would have the desired effect in the way that they are written. We would think that the government is certainly moving forward when it comes to some of these pieces of legislation.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I guess the reason that I worry about the legislation that is before us is because it seems to be a particularly negative piece of legislation and yet the government's spin on it says it is not that bad. When we see a piece of legislation come before the House, put here by the government, that we think is appropriate, then we may support and endorse that piece of legislation only to find out that the government doesn't act on the legislation. Now, it would certainly seem to me that the way this Bill No. 20 is written is that the government would have every intention of acting on the legislation and it seems that the government finally, through a couple of years of trying to duck and dodge concerns by the Opposition, has really come to a point where they actually have to put a bill before the House that clearly identifies the agenda that they have.

Now, one of the examples of legislation that I want to use that I think fills my point is the Endangered Species Act that we have passed through this House. One of the intentions of the Endangered Species Act is to provide protection for a variety of species. Certainly, it is 10 that are considered in peril. I have a list of a number of species here. You know, Mr. Speaker, if you were to read the endangered species legislation, it certainly seems clear the government's intent to protect these species; actually it even goes so far as to say in Clause 11, "Notwithstanding Section 10, the Minister may on a precautionary basis, regardless of whether the scientific information is available, list endangered or threatened species where, in the opinion of the Minister, there is a threat to the survival of the species."

Now, Mr. Speaker, here is a case where the power of the minister, if it seems clear that there is evidence - and it doesn't even have to be scientific evidence, but if there is enough evidence - to generate a concern for the ability of a species to maintain itself then the government, even without scientific information, on a precautionary basis, the minister can have this species deemed threatened and carry out the right action to ensure that this species is maintained and one of the bases of doing that would have to be the maintenance of habitat.

[3:00 p.m.]

Well, Mr. Speaker, just looking at some of the species that this document before me indicates, the American marten, the lynx and the fisher, and actually the moose on mainland Nova Scotia. For some of these species, and for members of the House I am not sure if any

[Page 3108]

of them are avid birdwatchers or nature enthusiasts generally, but certainly for Nova Scotians who spend any time in the woods of Nova Scotia, then probably the first species that come to mind are those species that you can readily see - snowshoe hare, the ruffed grouse, the white-tailed deer. Those are the ones that if Nova Scotians walk through the forest and can't see those species, then they think, well, they must be in danger.

There is a variety of species that most Nova Scotians don't pay attention to because they live in the canopy of the forest, they are not aware of those species, don't see them very often but they still have an integral role to play in the overall biodiversity of the forest ecosystem. You can't remove them and think that the forest ecosystem will be maintained the way it is naturally intended to be. Now the point I am trying to make, and I will try to clarify this for the Finance Minister, is the relationship between actual pieces of legislation, as we are looking at with Bill No. 20, and what that legislation will do and I am comparing that with legislation that has already gone before this House.

Yet, we have endangered species legislation, we have had the endangered species identified in this province and yet, if you look at the Forests Act, we have nothing in that Act that would curtail clear-cutting which would be one of the major habitat destruction practices that we would have in this province. So we have two pieces of legislation absolutely conflicting in their intent and even the Forests Act, which we would assume would be for the sustainability of the forest and if nothing else, it would be for the sustainability of the forest industry. That is not taken care of in the Forests Act and it certainly conflicts with the endangered species legislation.

That is what I want to use as an example of legislation that has passed the House but yet it doesn't fulfill its intent. Now here we have Bill No. 20, Mr. Speaker, that its intent would seem relatively clear in the way that the bill is written, and the clauses, and yet the government is certainly not maintaining the damage that it will do in a variety of ways, certainly to the collective bargaining process with the Public Service Commission.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just like to remind the honourable member that he is to be speaking to the six months' hoist that is before the House at this time and I would ask him to bring his comments back to the hoist amendment.

The honourable member for Hants East has the floor.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, thank you for drawing me back but I wasn't that far astray. I was just about to bring the relevance (Interruption) I did and now I realize the folly of my ways. I see that my whole point was missed by the members opposite. (Interruption)

[Page 3109]

MR. MACDONELL: What I want to say, Mr. Speaker, the point of the amendment for the hoist would be that the members opposite and the government and the public at large would have some time to reflect on this piece of legislation and realize the impact of this piece of legislation.

So, Mr. Speaker, my comparison of other pieces of legislation and the fact that those pieces of legislation may seem well-intentioned, may seem well written to do what we think they are intended to do but yet without really the good intention of the government, that legislation isn't worth the paper it is written on. My fear is that Bill No. 20 will be a piece of legislation that I think isn't worth the paper it is written on but it does exactly what the government's intention is to do, particularly to the Public Service of Nova Scotia, and in particular towards the privatization of the Liquor Commission in Nova Scotia, and my biggest fear, to the privatization of health services in Nova Scotia. The fact that the Minister of Health was unwilling to allow a clause in the Health Authorities Act to stop privatization or to prevent it only clarifies for me that this should be a real fear, not only for members on this side of the floor, but all members and all Nova Scotians.

I would like to encourage members of the government, the backbenchers - we certainly have time for debate - if they want to get up and give their thoughts on this piece of legislation, I want them to know that by all means I would be interested in hearing what they have to say and I am sure, so would the people in their constituencies.

Mr. Speaker, the hoist amendment, as I stated earlier, do I think it would have a positive effect, do I think that the government would make use of the information that it would gather in six months? I would say, probably not. The reasons that I would say it probably would have no effect is we only have to look at recent history to recognize that information that we gather through the Voluntary Planning process doesn't seem to adjust the government's direction in any way; they went against some of the recommendations that came from Voluntary Planning.

We see, on occasion, and actually I think in Question Period today I raised the question around MacNeils Cove, and the recommendations of the Auditor General and the giving of permits around the mooring grid there. It would appear that the Minister of Natural Resources seems to flaunt the advice of the Auditor General. To assume that spending some time, spending six months to review this piece of legislation is going to have a positive effect on the government, and therefore, hopefully, have a positive effect for the way this bill will spin out to Nova Scotians isn't going to happen.

That doesn't mean that this isn't something that Nova Scotians would be interested in doing, interested in hearing, and I think looking at the impact that this bill will have on collective bargaining, it will be severe. I have to say I often wonder where it is that the members opposite live. How is it that the members opposite can have lives that are so

[Page 3110]

isolated from the impact of this piece of legislation, do they not have sons or daughters or nieces or nephews who are teachers who work in the Public Service?

I know, certainly, there are members opposite who have children who are teachers in the system. The ability for those members of the Teachers Union to bargain in good faith will be eroded by this bill. It will impact the lives of their children, but yet we hear no word from any of those people. I find it hard to believe that they are willing to sit by, allowing members of their families, their neighbours, their constituents, people they have known for years, to be impacted by this piece of legislation.

The only group or organization that I see that really aren't affected are the municipalities. I have to say, in response to the Minister of Finance, that there is enough here without me generating something that is not there and certainly, I would say, from what I have been able to learn from the municipalities, if they felt that this was a threat to them, we would know about it certainly by now.

So I have to ask the government what it is that they are thinking in allowing a piece of legislation like this to come through the House. I question the timing. I question the benefit to the taxpayer and, actually, I don't see one. I would worry about the erosion certainly of the quality of jobs and the benefits and the income to people who work in the Public Service. That is a major concern. But the other concern is the level of service that will be provided to the people if much of the Public Service is privatized and there has been no evidence anywhere that this has been done.

I think the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has indicated that all the concerns around the privatization of the Department of Highways or the services provided certainly there was nobody in the private sector that was willing to take on the winter work. So there has to be something done to sweeten the pot if the government is going to go this way. I have to say, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the government was to give up the most cost-effective part, in other words, the summertime work and maintain or keep the wintertime work, which would probably be done at a greater cost to Nova Scotians, and allow the private sector to make the money in the summertime.

I want to tell the minister that probably the evidence of that, the tip of the iceberg, we have seen, I would think, would be in the RIM money that comes out - the rural improvement money. I thought that this may turn out to be beneficial actually because I was able to get work done, or I shouldn't say I was, but the minister's department certainly was able to get work done in my constituency that people were actually clamouring for and I thought anyway to get those dollars out there to provide service might not be a bad idea.

My fears around the privatization of these services were realized, Mr. Speaker, last year in my constituency when it came to simple things like tenders for ditching in my constituency. We find that because the Department of Transportation and Public Works has

[Page 3111]

been at this, there probably aren't many complaints that the department hasn't heard. They, over time, with their expertise, have been able to align their strategy around doing these jobs in a way that minimizes or takes into consideration the complaints that they have heard in the past.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Again, I have to remind the member that he is speaking to the hoist amendment and ask him to bring his comments back to the amendments before the House now. The honourable member for Hants East hast the floor.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if at the end of every sentence I will have to mention the hoist, but certainly the point I am getting to around the Department of Transportation and Public Works, and because this bill applies, is the fact that in six months we can have some evaluation. Actually, we would have some information toward that evaluation already because of the action of the department over the past year or so. What I refer to as the program that the minister had brought forward in regards to the RIM money is actually information that could be used in analysis over six months toward whether or not the department would want to travel along the lines that are being opened up in Bill No. 20 towards privatization.

[3:15 p.m.]

If I might say, the information that might be readily worthwhile and available during a six month period that this hoist amendment would allow, is the fact that public dollars, taxpayers' dollars which had gone into this RIM program and the information that was available to the department as it carried out its functions, if they had spent that money with their own personnel doing these contracts, was slightly different information than the private contractors had when they did these contracts.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West on a point of order?

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, how many do we need in the House for a quorum?

MR. SPEAKER: Fifteen, counting the Speaker, myself. Would you like me to count?

MR. DOWNE: Well, they just walked in the door as you were talking.

MR. SPEAKER: As the honourable member would know, when they are counting for a quorum, members can come and go and they are included in the count. The honourable member for Hants East has the floor. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

[Page 3112]

MR. MACDONELL: I appreciate the intervention by the member for Lunenburg West. I want to make sure that there certainly is at least a quorum and actually, I would prefer if all the members of the government side were in their seats (Interruptions) Well, it doesn't take a lot of members from this side to give the message, but the fear is that by not having enough numbers on the other side, is that the message is lost and certainly, I would say that from doing this discussion on previous bills with hoist amendments, we haven't seen any positive exchange or any movement by the government.

Actually, I am amazed at the government's tenacity. It certainly shows that they do not vary from their path, they have an agenda and I think as we see them move away from particular pieces of legislation in the past that were to bring about some of what we see in this bill, then the government just tries to reroute and regroup and provide the same legislation in a different form. I think this Bill No. 20 is probably the culmination of a lot of pieces of work from a variety of other bills that now, in one fell swoop, they will accomplish a goal that they were unable to accomplish with other pieces of legislation, that the outcry by the public was too great. (Interruption)

I want to thank the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley for coaching me on how the member feels the relationship of this bill to softwood lumber applies. The member is probably right, but whether this bill is hoisted or not, the same six months is going to go by. I think if this is his point, if the government would spend its time working more diligently on bringing about some resolve in the softwood lumber deal in the Maritime accord rather than spending their time in debate on this piece of legislation, then probably all Nova Scotians will be much further ahead, better off, and we would find that there are people out there who actually support this Tory Government and would feel that the government is actually acting in their interests.

That six months is going to come and go. We all know that. We know that our amendment here will be defeated and the hours necessary to get this bill through the House will pass, all in the fullness of time, and the government will bring about this piece of legislation. I guess the reason that we are here, on this side, is to try to get this message out to Nova Scotians, that this piece of legislation requires time, requires six months for reflection. And, if nothing else, if it actually turns out that in six months this bill comes back unchanged, then certainly there would have been some time for Nova Scotians to have an opportunity to digest the implications of this piece of legislation and how it will really impact their lives in I would say a variety of ways.

One of the concerns I raised initially, was the decision made by the Donald Cameron Government around a contract negotiation with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union. I think members of the House have to realize that while it appears that this bill will impact the lives of certain members of our society in a very direct way, those in the Public Service, so six months would allow the broader scope of Nova Scotians to actually know the impact of that. In other words, those people in the Public Service have families, they have children in

[Page 3113]

school, and those people who are not in the Public Service have children in schools, and the ability of the Teachers Union to bargain in good faith, not only for themselves but for the benefits of students in this province, is going to be severely curtailed by the actions of this government and this piece of legislation.

Why would the government be opposed to hoisting this bill for six months, why would they be opposed to some open process of consultation around this piece of legislation? We certainly know they are going to be opposed to amending it, but certainly Nova Scotians would be well aware of the implications of this piece of legislation. I would say that at this point they aren't.

We heard the biggest outcry from NSGEU when they were here at the House the other day, but I would say that Nova Scotians generally are not aware of how this could impact them. If it is true that health care is the major issue for Nova Scotians, then if this bill allows for the privatization of any of those services, that could have a significant impact on something that Nova Scotians and Canadians have held to be near and dear.

Mr. Speaker, my time, how close am I?

MR. SPEAKER: Three more minutes.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I guess in summary I would like to say that I think in no clearer terms is there a piece of legislation that defines more what the Tory Government is about than Bill No. 20, the government's restructuring. It is certainly my hope that in the time of debate that we will have on this bill, that Nova Scotians will become more fully aware and they will look at this government in a newer light. They will actually see this government for what it is and they will give some strong consideration to whether or not they want to be bought off with their own money for a tax break that will basically amount to nothing, compared to the impact that this bill will have on their lives.

Mr. Speaker, I will certainly be supporting the amendment to have this bill hoisted for six months so that there can be some open and transparent dialogue on the effect of this piece of legislation in the hopes that the government truly will change its direction that is so clearly identified in this bill. Thank you.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to rise here today - for what seems, time after time after time, of talking about somewhat similar things that are happening - to talk about the hoist amendment to Bill No. 20, which would give the government a period of six months to rethink exactly what is going on and to finally see the light of day as to what is going on.

[Page 3114]

Mr. Speaker, these are trying times in Nova Scotia and these are times that Nova Scotians, indeed, are asking to be listened to, and they are in particular asking this government to pay attention to them and please listen to what they have to say. For instance, there are 21,000 public sector employees in this province who would like to see some changes to Bill No. 20; 21,000 reasons why we are all here, because we should be listening to the people who put us here in the first place. They include members of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union; they include trade unionists; they include everyday average Nova Scotians. They include men, women and children in this province who are asking to be heard on many topics, and this one in particular, on Bill No. 20, which would allow for restructuring. The reason that this amendment is there is to take six months and then come back after having rethought exactly what is going to happen here.

Mr. Speaker, you know what has happened in the past and what we are saying to this government right now . . .

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

MR. WILSON: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the members' attention to the Speaker's Gallery, to Commissionaire Sandra Reid. Sandra tells me she is no relation to David Reid, but Sandra is celebrating her 60th birthday here today and I would like the House to welcome her. (Applause)

AN HON. MEMBER: They will want a recorded vote on that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton East has the floor.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, if it was possible to do a recorded vote on an introduction, we would call for it right now, let me guarantee you. In six months' time Sandra will be on her way, halfway through to being 61, which means she is going to take six months to think about that, being 61. We are asking this government to take six months to think about a whole lot of things, including where they are going to be in a year from now, what position they are going to be in in a year from now.

Mr. Speaker, before the introduction, as I was saying, what has happened in the past and what is starting to happen here in Nova Scotia today since the Hamm Government came to power is that we are looking at going back to the good old days of John Buchanan et al. Only now we have replaced them with such notables as King Neil, Queen Jane, and the rest

[Page 3115]

of their court full of jesters that they have gathered on the other side, you know, and the king and queen and their court have decided to say that this is what we are saying, this is best and we don't want to hear from you. We don't care about what ideas you have. We don't care about what criticisms you may have and indeed we don't care about your opinion, whether you be a member of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, or a member of whatever public sector union may be involved, whether you be a nurse, whether you be a doctor, whatever.

The Health Minister is much the same, Mr. Speaker. The Health Minister has not paid attention. The Premier has not paid attention. The Finance Minister has not paid attention. The Education Minister is not paying attention. What I am asking for is for them finally to pay attention and to take six months and go over some things that you may be able to correct. I would suggest that if this bill is hoisted in a six month period, the Minister of Education, for instance, would be able to sit back for six months and think about why in heaven's name you would even possibly consider closing 11 schools in Cape Breton.

With the state of education in this province as it is right now, why would you even think about laying off permanent contract teachers? Why would you let it get to that point in this province? Why would you allow it to reach the stage where janitors in the Halifax Regional Municipality, school custodians are on strike and have been for some time? I would hope that if this bill was hoisted for six months that they would still not be on strike but, indeed, the Education Minister and the Minister of Environment and Labour should be doing what they should be doing and that is, as of today, trying their best to try to settle that dispute.

[3:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, as we said time after time and will continue to say it, this is a government that simply does not have a plan for Nova Scotia. They have no plan for economic development, for instance, and if they have no plan for economic development as an overall strategy for development in this province, they have less than no plan for economic development in Cape Breton. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, it happens every time in this House. When we stand up and mention Cape Breton and the mutterings from that side over there will start. You know, it is a guilty conscience that speaks up when that happens; a guilty conscience that you have done absolutely nothing for the people of Cape Breton; you have done nothing for the health care industry in Cape Breton; and you have nothing to do for them in the future. That is what is happening.

We are asking people like the Health Minister to take six months and think about what is going on. We all saw the fiasco that happened in Health with the Northside General Hospital and it will happen elsewhere and I don't know if elsewhere they will be fortunate to have a Tory MLA - and I use the word fortunate very loosely, let me tell you - who will

[Page 3116]

go and beg to the Minister of Health, for heavens sakes, find me a doctor in Halifax who will come down here temporarily so we can keep the Northside General Hospital emergency room open.

We know the situation that has happened in Richmond County. We know because we have heard the member for Richmond stand up time after time in this House and count down the number of days that Richmond County has gone without doctors in its emergency department. Every day that goes by is another day that is added to the people of Richmond and the Strait area not having those services, Mr. Speaker. What happens? I didn't see and I haven't seen anybody magically going to the doctors in Halifax and the hospitals in Halifax and saying, loan me a physician will you, because we need one right away in Richmond and the Strait area.

What makes that even more deplorable and more ridiculous is that the excuse used when it happened at the Northside General Hospital was that Cape Breton North had a Tory MLA. Well, there are Tory MLAs in the Strait area too, the last time I checked. There are Tory MLAs in Inverness the last time I checked. Why haven't they gone to the Health Minister and said the same thing? Help me out. There is a time-honoured expression, as a matter of fact, in Richmond, Mr. Speaker, and the expression is, are you a man or a mouse? That is what I am asking this government. (Interruption) There is a plural expression there too, but I don't agree with it grammatically so I am not going to say it.

Mr. Speaker, let me get back to the issue of economic development because I got off my point there for a moment because there were some mutterings about how good health care is in Cape Breton and how great it is going to be in the future and what a great job the Health Minister is doing. I would suggest to some of the members on the other side who are standing up right now and heckling me, that if they want to stand in their chair, I will give them the time. I don't have to take all of this time. The member for Preston, who stands up all the time for no reason other than to keep a door open, he can stand up in his chair and speak on behalf of the people of Preston and he can have the remainder of my time if he wants. I have no problem offering that.

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying about the issue of economic development, or as I refer to the minister, the minister of non-economic development in this province, if indeed he was doing his job, then we would not have a rising rate of unemployment in this province. We would still not have a serious chronic problem with unemployment in Cape Breton . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: In rural Nova Scotia.

MR. WILSON: Or, indeed, in rural Nova Scotia. If the Minister of Economic Development, or non-economic development, was doing his job, I would not be going home to a community that has 45 per cent unemployment. If anybody wants to question - and I hear

[Page 3117]

the questions over there - that that is 45 per cent employment, come on home with me some time and I will show you the 45 per cent unemployment.

The 20-some per cent unemployment is statistics by Statistics Canada. It does not include those people who have given up looking for work. They are not included in those statistics, and I will show you a high number of them in Cape Breton. I will also show you people in Cape Breton who have given up so much on looking for work that they have had to leave their home and their Island; as a matter of fact, I would suggest that many of them are now residents of Halifax and the metro areas. Unfortunately, some of them are probably represented by members over on that side of the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: We will change that next time.

MR. WILSON: But that will change. As one of my colleagues suggests, that certainly will change.

Mr. Speaker, there was absolutely nothing said in the Throne Speech, there was nothing in the budget, and there has been absolutely nothing in any of the bills that have been presented before this Legislature that has addressed the chronic unemployment problem in Cape Breton, absolutely nothing. There is nothing in Bill No. 20, which we are talking today about hoisting for six months. There is nothing in that bill that addresses in any way, shape or form, the chronic unemployment problem on Cape Breton Island.

Mr. Speaker, with the exception of maybe a year and a half, I have lived all my life on Cape Breton Island. I grew up there. I love Cape Breton Island more than myself, and the people who are there. Cape Breton Island is the closest thing to a distinct society in this country that you probably will ever find, but we don't want that distinction because we have the highest unemployment in Nova Scotia; we don't want that distinction because we have probably one or two on that same statistic in the country, as having the highest rate of unemployment. Fortunately, areas such as the Halifax Regional Municipality here, they do not have that kind of problem. Unemployment in this area would probably run around the 6 per cent mark. We only wish, we only hope that we have that same level of unemployment on Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, it will not be done by that crew over there, I can guarantee you that. As I mentioned, six months . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: This government has done more for Cape Breton is six months . . .

MR. WILSON: The Health Minister says that this government has done more for Cape Breton in six months than any other government. Mr. Speaker, that just shows the pomposity of the government that we have across here right now, that a Cabinet Minister would even

[Page 3118]

mutter those words in this Legislature, that more has been done in six months for Cape Breton than any other government is not only laughable, it is shameful.

AN HON. MEMBER: It's disgraceful.

MR. WILSON: It is disgraceful to even say that, absolutely disgraceful. This is the same Cabinet Minister who is ticked off today because he has to be here because we are talking on an amendment that will bring debate back to the floor of this Legislature and democracy back to the floor of this Legislature. That Cabinet Minister is ticked off because he can't be at a couple of speaking engagements.

AN HON. MEMBER: Imagine. He should be out looking for a doctor for the Strait.

MR. WILSON: He should be doing his job, that is what he should be doing, and any other Cabinet Minister over there.

If that particular minister wants to put the stats here that show me that Cape Breton is better off since this government came to power, I would love to see them. If you have them now, then table them. Mr. Speaker, tell the minister to table them, I would love to see them. Let me see them. I will throw in the federal government, too, that has created employment down there recently and you will back off pretty soon, let me tell you. This government doesn't have a clue as to what is going on in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I was on the Economic Development Committee. It doesn't take long to talk about economic development because the government has done absolutely nothing, so you can cover the topic of economic development in a very few minutes, to describe exactly what this government has done. Let me give you a perfect example, a perfect example of how this government operates. When the announcement of the closure of the Cape Breton Development Corporation was made, one of the things that this Legislature did was to strike an all-Party committee to deal with various issues regarding the closure of the Cape Breton Development Corporation.

Mr. Speaker, do you know the last time that committee met? It wasn't six months, which is what we are talking about here today, the time frame to talk about Bill No. 20. It has been over a year. Over a year. If one of the backbenchers wants to say, well, then obviously that backbencher has no idea whatsoever of what I am talking about or how important it is to the people in Cape Breton. (Interruptions) I know the Minister of Health doesn't care about Cape Breton, that is quite obvious.

Mr. Speaker, if I stand here in my place and talk about Cape Breton, I care about the rest of Nova Scotia, too. Maybe some other backbenchers over there who aren't from Cape Breton should show the same kind of decency to Cape Bretoners in general, and not just condemn them because it happens on Cape Breton Island. As I was mentioning, it has been

[Page 3119]

well over a year since that committee even met. As a matter of fact, since the committee was struck some two years ago, we have only met four times. Four times.

There are issues involving the Cape Breton Development Corporation - the Cape Breton Development Corporation was a federal Crown corporation, I understand that - provincial issues that revolve around the Cape Breton Development Corporation, mainly because it employs Nova Scotians. There is still an operating coal mine in Cape Breton, it still employs people. There are other things that are being talked about, the sale of assets and so on and so forth. There is the resource itself, which is governed provincially, a provincial responsibility.

Mr. Speaker, I use that as an example, and I use it simply because it is a great example of just how much this government cares about what is going on - they don't. Because if they cared they would be listening to people and they would be taking an amendment such as is proposed here, for a six month delay on this bill, and they would be welcoming it with open arms, saying, yes, this is a great idea, for us to talk about this and for us to learn.

Mr. Speaker, you have to be led, everybody has to have leaders; caucuses have leaders; Cabinets themselves have leaders; provinces have leaders; and the Leader of that caucus and Cabinet across the way is, of course, the Premier. That shows you how much support he has over there. (Interruptions) I am sitting here, and I mention the Premier, and 1 out of 20 Tory MLAs claps. (Applause) It is building, it is 3 out of 20 now. If I mention his name a few more times, maybe all of those seal pups over there who are trained to clap when his name is mentioned would finally wake up and say, hooray for the Premier.

[3:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the Premier has shown Nova Scotia that he has no idea what is going on in this province. That is the only reason I brought up his name. He has shown that he has no idea that there are plans, or there could possibly be plans, to put liquor stores in drugstores. He has no idea about pipelines or where they are going. He has no idea about Sunday shopping and recommendations that come back from task forces - the red tape task force that was struck - and he had absolutely no idea when we finally had to tell him, and the MLA for Lunenburg West told him, that the debt is growing.

By the way, the debt is growing. The Finance Minister didn't tell him. Maybe it is because the Finance Minister didn't want him to know that. That may have been why he didn't tell him. Well, when Nova Scotians (Interruption) the Finance Minister says, well, do you think so. And what Nova Scotians are saying right now is that they don't know either because they don't trust the government. They don't trust the government. (Interruption)

Let me tell you, the Finance Minister says, they trusted you guys.

[Page 3120]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Just to remind the honourable member for Cape Breton East that he is to speak on the six months' hoist amendment and I would ask him to bring his comments back to that amendment, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton East has the floor.

MR. WILSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It was more than six months ago that there was a Liberal Government in Nova Scotia, more than six months ago. This government has been in power for a very long time. What we are talking about here is an amendment to delay Bill No. 20 for just six months. But this government has been in power for a lot longer than six months and I think it is finally time that the Executive Council over there, the Cabinet ministers over there and all the backbenchers over there, it is finally time for them to even stop trying to blame previous governments for all the mistakes that they are making on a daily basis.

When are they going to grow up and realize that they have been in power and that they are now making mistakes and hurting people? When are they going to realize that? And this is a perfect opportunity for them to finally wake up and smell the roses because people like 21,000 Public Service employees are telling them, you are making mistakes and we would like you to take a look at this bill and possibly change some things in it. Because of that, Opposition members in this House have been forced - forced - we don't want to use tactics that are now being used. That is not exactly why we are here but it is, to a certain extent, what we have to do. We are forced into it to try to make that government responsible, to try to make that government accountable.

I am certainly no expert on legislative matters or whatever the case may be, but if you are taking a look at a major overhaul of government policy through regulation, instead of legislation, then I think that is dangerous. I think that is probably the reason that we were put here, legislation is exactly what we do. Without legislation, what you are taking away is the opportunity to debate everything that this government is going to do. If you take that process away, then you may as well - I hate to suggest this - take away the electoral process as well.

There are people in this province who, when they send us here, do so to debate bills and to debate legislation. But if you are taking and using government by regulation, then what you are doing is you are taking the opportunity away from the elected representatives to sit down or get up on their feet and debate that legislation. If you put it in the hands of Orders in Council, what will happen is that the Cabinet is going to be determining policy, you know, everything that happens without having it go through a legislative procedure. They will be calling the shots. That is the whole purpose of why we are here.

I know - despite the occasional jabs that we take at Opposition MLAs and backbenchers and Cabinet ministers - I know and I really feel that they understand what is being said. They understand that that is a dangerous precedent to set. If we were over there in government, or if the other Party was over there in government, I am sure that there are

[Page 3121]

backbench MLAs and Cabinet Ministers over on that side who would be over on this side who would say, you can't do that because you are setting a very dangerous precedent in this province. You have to bring it into the Legislature where we can debate what is going to happen before it becomes regulation, otherwise there is no sense in us being here. That is why we are talking today about delaying for six months Bill No. 20 and trying to get through to this government exactly what is going on.

Mr. Speaker, the other day I had the pleasure of attending a news conference on child care in Nova Scotia and I listened to the Minister of Community Services and the Minister of Health at that particular conference. When I got up the next morning, I read the daily newspaper and the headline in it was, province to spend $66 million on child care. It was not brought out at the news conference by the ministers responsible. As a matter of fact, it wasn't even mentioned by the ministers responsible. That, for the most part, is federal money that these ministers are throwing around and taking credit for, but the headline in the newspaper didn't reflect that. I mentioned it to a couple of reporters who were there. Some caught on, some didn't, about the fact that this government would stop at nothing, they will take any opportunity they can to try to get some credit for what they are not doing.

Mr. Speaker, Cabinet Ministers, government representatives have a responsibility to indeed tell exactly what is happening in terms of funding of projects. I would suggest that they were not forthright with the information that they were delaying at this particular conference. Of course, playing a political game, as they were playing, they would want to make themselves look as good as possible. My point is, and before you would interrupt, so to speak, and bring me back to the point, I will bring myself there, if you don't mind. My point in talking about that news conference is that there were child care workers there who have been waiting for over a year for a pay raise. If the government sees fit to sit on the money for over a year to give child care workers in this province a pay raise, then I think it would be rather easy for them to take six months to consider exactly what is happening with this bill in particular, Bill No. 20, because it deals with a much larger number of people.

There are about 1,500 child care workers in this province. What they were saying after the news conference the other day was, where is the beef? For over a year the government has had the money, but now they are saying they don't have the formula. They don't know exactly how they are going to pay child care workers. It may be that child care workers get an increase if they are on the bottom end of the pay scale. If they are on the top end of the pay scale, they may not get an increase. They don't know. It may be early fall before they know. It may be late fall before they know, but nobody had any answers for them.

In the meantime, the people who are providing care for our children in this province, and I don't know if there is a more important job that you can hold, not only in this province, anywhere, but then to have the responsibility of teaching and caring for someone else's children. How more important a role can you play in society? On average in this province they get paid $17,600 to do it. You drop your children off at whatever daycare centre it be

[Page 3122]

and you put them in the hands of a person who is going to give them care and is going to teach them things. You pick them up at the end of the day and you pay that worker, on average, $17,600 a year. That is pitiful. It is shameful, pitiful, ridiculous, absurd, whatever adjective you could possibly think of to describe it. It is just not right that that happens in this province.

Yet, Mr. Speaker, this government, in its arrogance, which is the same arrogance which is being shown here today by not wanting to listen, by not wanting to wait six months to talk about possible changes to this bill, this government, in its arrogance, will say, we have had the money for over a year. We haven't decided yet. We don't know what is going to happen, who is going to get the raises, who isn't going to get the raises and basically they are saying, we don't care. We don't care about the workers. We don't care about your children. We simply don't care.

Mr. Speaker, let me give you another example of exactly that, not caring, why this government should actually take a step back. There is a great project in Glace Bay. It is called the Glace Bay Heritage Museum Society, which is doing a real public service, in my opinion, a public service by trying to raise funds to restore the old town hall in Glace Bay. The town hall is indeed the source of a great deal of pride in the community. The society is doing its job by trying to raise money. It is difficult, it is not the easiest thing for non-profit organizations in this province these days to raise money. There are a lot of people who are out there looking for the same dollars. There are a lot of worthwhile projects out there that a lot of people can contribute to, but this one in particular, I raise it because it is a museum society. The museum society, which is a non-profit museum society, doesn't receive much support for their programs and services from the government.

Now, what is happening is that unfortunately the government also feels the need to take away from museums in this province. What they are doing is penalizing municipalities for providing exemptions from property taxes. What that has meant is that for the first time since its existence, the Glace Bay Heritage Museum Society is going to be subjected to property taxes. What that means is that they are going to have less money. It is as simple as that, if they have to pay property taxes, and they have never paid them before.

In a letter to the minister responsible, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, the society, which I may add is made up from people from all walks of life in Glace Bay, and I would suggest further is made up from people of all political stripes in Glace Bay. This is a society that has banded together to do something good on behalf of the people of the community, and to try to rebuild an old town hall, so that some pride can be restored in the community, as well. That, indeed, would be a centrepiece of that pride being restored.

[Page 3123]

Mr. Speaker, I am getting off track a bit. The society wrote to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, who is responsible, and said that in their opinion, they would consider the demise of the project to be an insult to their past and a total disregard for those who built the town in the first place in 1901.

Mr. Speaker, this matter was brought up in Question Period the other day, and the questions were asked, calling on the Province and the minister to do the right thing and allow municipalities to provide some tax exemptions from property taxes for museums. The answer was not there that we were looking for, of course; the answer wasn't yes. The government claims to be reducing red tape and so on but what is happening here is that non-profit groups are being taxed and red taped out of existence.

[4:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, if, in such a bill as this, we had six months to consider this bill, what I was asking for in Question Period the other day was even less time to consider that the minister should ensure that community museums in this province don't disappear simply because of the tax policies of a government. That is what will happen.

Mr. Speaker, there is one item, of many items, that I think is sticking in the minds of Nova Scotians since this government came to power some time ago. If we take a look at it, we can see who is being hurt the most are the people who actually need the most help from governments and politicians. What I am talking about is charities in this province and non-profit organizations that, before this government came to power, were expecting some money from the Sydney charity casino. Now, as we all know and as the government knows, and all members on the other side of this House know, the charity casino was put there. One-half of the profits from the charity casino were to be given to Aboriginal people in this province and the other half of the profits were to be given to various charities. That was a formula that came up over a much longer period than a six month period, which is what we are talking about here today. We are talking about six months only to make some changes and get some debate heard on the hoist amendment. This was a policy that came up over a longer period of time than just six months. This was a policy developed by all three Parties. This policy was agreed to by all three Parties in the Legislature. This was a policy that was put in place so it was at the stage where the money was there and the money was about to be handed out to people throughout Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, the money was about to be handed out to charitable organizations, non-profit organizations throughout the province, and distributed on a basis that the organizations would submit applications for how much they needed and for what project. I would assume there was a board already selected and in place; I would assume that the board members would have taken that money and distributed it as evenly as possible, or perhaps to those who needed it the most. In terms of government, not a great deal of money, there was about $1.3 million at the time, I believe.

[Page 3124]

AN HON. MEMBER: That's a fair amount of money.

MR. WILSON: Well, it is a fair amount of change, so to speak - not in government terms because I think government sometimes deals with hundreds and millions of dollars and billions of dollars, but anyway a significant amount for non-profit organizations and charities in this province. Some of them I personally talked to, including the Glace Bay food bank, said, if we could get a few thousand more dollars, we might be able to buy some more stock for the shelves. They have a roof that needs to be fixed; they have a building that needs repairs; at that time they had a furnace that needed repair. So a few thousand dollars to the Glace Bank Food Bank Society would have been like a cash windfall. That would have been money falling out of the sky, from nowhere.

Sure enough, it was announced, it was there; sure enough the applications were printed and sent out to the different organizations. In some cases they had already mailed the applications in, to help their organizations.

But lo and behold, Mr. Speaker, along came the Tory Government. The Tory Government took that program without any consideration whatsoever, you know, we are giving them the chance here today to consider something because we are asking them for a six month period to consider or reconsider Bill No. 20 and some amendments to it, but in that particular instance, in the instance of the Sydney charity casino, what they did was they considered absolutely nothing. They just decided at the time that they were going to axe that program and the charities that were involved were not even notified. There wasn't even enough decency on behalf of this government to notify people like the Glace Bay Food Bank Society that they were not getting the money. They just were not getting it and that is all there was to it.

On top of that, Mr. Speaker, to add insult to injury, and it is the only reason I can think of, to add insult to injury, is they took the money they were going to give from the casino to charities, they took that money and they put it into this thing called - what do you call it now? - I think it is called general revenue which basically means they can spend it wherever they want. So not only did they steal the money from charities, not only did they rob poor people who are . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member has been around the Legislature long enough to know that he is not permitted to use that type of language and I would ask the honourable member to please refrain from using the words, steal, rob, et cetera. The honourable member knows that.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, every time in this Legislature when I stand up, there is this little voice from the back of the room over on that side that hollers out, next caller, please, you know. It is the member for Preston. The member for Preston sits over there by the door and says, next caller, please, which is a reference to what I used to do for a living

[Page 3125]

as an open-line talk show host. Sometimes you had to bring people under control. Occasionally, I cut a few people off and I wish I was an open-line show host today because I would cut that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like to thank the honourable member for that clarification. That certainly cleared that point up. Now would the honourable member get back to the amendment, the hoist bill, please. Thank you.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, it wouldn't take me six months to cut off the member for Preston, I can tell you that. I would suggest he will be cut off permanently pretty soon anyway. So we don't have to worry about him. He can mutter whatever he wants over in that corner.

Mr. Speaker, I apologize for using perhaps the incorrect words, I won't use them again, but what I was saying about the charity casinos is that this government absconded with, now, up to this point, $3.8 million that could have been used by the people in this province who need it the most: the people in this province who run food bank societies, the people in this province who run charities that help send people away for medical treatment, or whatever else is there. There are people in this province who needed that money and they are not going to get it because of this government. Because of this government being here, they will not get that money.

What I have suggested, Mr. Speaker, and again it is a good opportunity for the government to listen, if they would listen to the Opposition about Bill No. 20 and about the amendment to delay it for six months, if they would listen to us here, there are good ideas; if they would listen to us on such things as the Sydney charity casino because we have reintroduced that bill in the Legislature to give the government a second chance. We reintroduced it in the last session. They did not take us up on it because they are basically a very mean-spirited group over there, you know, totally without a conscience.

The jack-in-the-box over there for Preston is popping up again. He pops up and down. He guards the door. He walks out. He leaves. He says nothing. At least the jack-in-the-box makes some sense when it pops up and says something. In this case there is nothing.

Mr. Speaker, we are giving them another chance here. We gave them another chance; we are giving them another chance with this bill. We are giving them another chance with the Sydney Casino, the charity casino, we reintroduced the bill before, we have reintroduced it again which would simply allow for this government to take that bill, and it wouldn't take too long to get through second reading, the Law Amendments Committee, third reading, and I can guarantee you that every member in this caucus would support that bill. I certainly wouldn't speak on behalf of the NDP caucus, but I am pretty sure, I am pretty certain that the members in the NDP caucus would also support a bill that would restore those monies to charities in this province.

[Page 3126]

As a matter of fact (Interruption) we could do it right now. That would be the best thing that could happen here right now. If we just took a few minutes right now, and whatever you wanted to do Mr. Speaker, within your power, and said to the Government House Leader, why don't we reintroduce that bill right now and we will go through second, third reading, whatever, and we will give that money back to charity. Right now. Even further, we could have a recorded vote. If we had a recorded vote we could see what government members on that side would stand up and say, no, you can't have any money for charities anymore. (Interruptions)

See, already there is agreement on this side of the House. We are not the ones who are hard to get along with here. As I said, we don't want to do what we have to do, the government has forced us into this position. The government has taken the attitude that we are not going to listen to Nova Scotians, we are not going to listen to Opposition MLAs, because they don't care. That is why. They simply don't care.

Mr. Speaker, I haven't had a chance to speak about this particular item that I am going to speak about now. I would hope that members would pay attention to this because it gives you a great example of what is being done out there in the real world. Perhaps government MLAs could take a lesson from this little girl in Glace Bay. She is a Grade 6 student at Glace Bay Elementary School, and she ran a business. She has been named Student Entrepreneur of the Year. Her name is Kailyn MacDonald. What Kailyn did is she ran her business in order to help a classmate who needs a bone marrow transplant.

Mr. Speaker, there is a great story here because it shows what can happen when you are totally selfless and you care about other people and you will do something on their behalf.

AN HON. MEMBER: They don't want to hear about that.

MR. WILSON: They may not want to hear about it, but they are going to hear about it anyway. What happened here is that Kailyn MacDonald was nominated for the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award by the Open for Business at the YMCA Enterprise Centre in Glace Bay. When she was eight years old her and her friend started selling feather pens at school, and they were assisted by their teacher. Then she began her business which raised money for her classmate, Kelly McQuarrie. Kelly McQuarrie is in Toronto getting a bone marrow transplant.

During the awards luncheon, each nominee gave a speech about why they opened the business and what they did. What happened is unique in this case, and why she was named Student Entrepreneur of the Year is because originally the recipient of that same award was a person by the name of Cara Hazelton of The Inside Edge Skating Supplies in Halifax. What happened, and this is a great story you know, it just shows the spirt of young people when they co-operate, what they do, why they do it, and how they care about each other and how they care about others. This is a story that perhaps some of the members in government could

[Page 3127]

possibly take home and reread it over and over again and maybe they would come out of it with an ounce of caring, I am not sure. They would have to read it several times.

[4:15 p.m.]

This person got this award because when the other person, or Cara Hazelton, was nominated and told she had won, Cara said no, wait a minute, Kailyn should get this award because of what Kailyn did on behalf of her friend and that was much more than what I did on behalf of my company. I am not sure where she is from but if she is from Digby I would suggest the Minister of Economic Development visit her, he could certainly be taught a few things. This little girl decides because of that - Mr. Speaker, I don't have to describe what happened after that, Kailyn was absolutely moved to tears that another person whom she had never met would think as highly of what she had done that she would give up such a prestigious award for such young girls to win in entrepreneurship.

Mr. Speaker, I use that as a prime example of what is needed. What is needed is an understanding, a conscience, a sense of feeling, a sense of caring, selflessness, that there are others out there who need your help. You know, there are people in this province who need the help of this government, whether they be members of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, whether they be social assistance recipients, it doesn't matter. There is always someone out there who requires your help, but if you are willing to sit back and be as pig-headed as this government and not listen to reason, if you are as pig-headed as this government - Mr. Speaker, some members are asking if I called them pig-headed, I did. I did call them pig-headed because that is exactly what they are being and I don't need to spell it.

Everybody knows how to spell pig-headed and they know what it means, too. This government is being exactly that (Interruptions) I don't use that word lightly, that is not - as I said to the honourable member for Preston, if he wants to stand up and say something, then I will give him the remainder of my time. (Interruption) He didn't take me up before when I had 58 minutes left but he wants to take me up now when I have - Mr. Speaker, may I enquire as to how much time I have left.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has a little less than six minutes.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member wants six minutes of my remaining time left, then he can have it and he can tell the people of Nova Scotia why his government is doing such a great job. He can explain to the 21,000 public sector employees out there how great a job this government is doing. He can explain to the 1,000 clients of the social assistance department in my riding, how great a job government is doing. He can explain to all of the people that we have seen protesting here over the last little while, how great a job this government is doing.

[Page 3128]

I would suggest if any of the members, I am not just picking on the member for Preston, but if any of the members over there have those answers, that they could have the remaining five minutes or whatever is left of my time. I will make that open offer at any time. If they want to stand up, I will sit down right away. Maybe some members, you know that would be a pleasure, but the offer is there, and it is out there.

Mr. Speaker, basically it is a matter of trust, is what is happening here. We saw this latest indication and we heard some about it is Question Period today. We heard about the Liquor Commission and the drugstores, selling liquor in drugstores and the minister responsible for the Liquor Commission is saying, no, that is not there, that is not in the regulations, it is not there. Well, we are talking about right here, right now and Bill No. 20 and why we are asking it be delayed for six months is that we don't want to see a government by regulation. As I mentioned before, we want to see a government by legislation, which means it has to be brought into this House to be debated.

The minister responsible for the Liquor Commission is saying, well, that is not going to happen. Again, it is entirely a matter of trust. If the people in this province trusted that government and Opposition MLAs stood up and said, well, you are going to have liquor stores in drugstores, if the people in this province trusted that government, then they would say, that is not right. That is not right, the government would never do that, we trust the government not to do that. The people in this province are saying, we don't trust them. So automatically that seed of doubt is planted right away; it is there because that government is there. That is what happens.

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly not the first time that I have spoken on this matter and I think I can be pretty sure that it certainly won't be the last time in the next several weeks because of what is happening in this situation because we are now here for extended hours in the Nova Scotia Legislature. (Interruption) We can't be here on the weekend; the only thing is that you can't see, that is the only thing that this government can't do is make us sit on Saturday and Sunday. (Interruption) Oh can you really? Oh really, really. Well, there you go. There is a government that would look and smile and laugh and say, oh yes you can, we will make you sit on Saturday and Sunday. We will make you sit no matter how long it takes to ram through our legislation. We will ram it through because we don't care what you think. We don't care.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Two minutes.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the member, and I didn't know it was the honourable member for Preston's job to tell me how much time I have left. Perhaps the Chair should intervene here and bring that member to order since he is doing your job. I don't know. I would suggest that perhaps I have a little more than two minutes, do I, Mr. Speaker, because I am not sure if the honourable member for Preston can count accurately. I am not sure.

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MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member has about one and a half minutes left. I don't recall the honourable member asking me how much time he had left. I cannot speak for the honourable member for Preston.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, he did say two minutes but, as I have proven, he can't count anyway. It is actually a minute and a half.

Mr. Speaker, in closing I would say to the ministers who so gleefully said, oh we can make you sit on Saturday and Sunday, I will sit here on every Saturday and Sunday that is required through June and July and August and September and October and November and December and every holiday that you want to name, as long as I am standing here knowing that I believe that this government is dead wrong in what they are doing, and I will stand here proudly. Thank you very much.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to be able to take a few minutes of the House's time to talk about Bill No. 20, in particular the motion to hoist, I guess it is normally called, but to delay the bill for six months so the people of Nova Scotia have an opportunity to talk about where this is taking them; where this government intends to take them with regard to our education system, our health care system and the restructuring of government. I think it is an important piece of legislation, let's not kid about that. I would hope that this government would seriously think about an opportunity to talk to the people of Nova Scotia about it.

Sometimes people will come to this House, I had a group from Newfoundland today who were visiting my local school and when we were over in the Red Room, I said, you know, sometimes it is easy when you come into this gallery and you might think, that gee, where is everyone at; or people don't seem to be taking it very seriously. I said, the problem is today you have come on a very unusual day. This isn't your normal day, this isn't your normal eight hour day or your normal four hour day on Wednesdays. I said, this is a fairly unique day. It is a day in which this government is attempting to ram through this House legislation and prevent the people from having their say.

The House Leader and the Minister of Justice seem to think that this is ramming through legislation. Let's be clear, when we wanted opportunities in this House to delay this bill (Interruptions) Well, that is right, Mr. Speaker, there is a litany of issues that could be dealt with today. Six months is necessary for this government to get a reality check, this government that seems to spend time rejecting motions supporting veterans, supporting children, supporting the Catholic Women's League, for heaven's sake - no pun intended. It means an opportunity to listen to the people of Nova Scotia and to what they truly want. They need six months to listen to the people of Nova Scotia about Bill No. 20 and this restructuring.

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When I was talking to the students from Newfoundland, I said, you are here on a unique day, a day for which we will be sitting up to 16 or 18 hours. So you are going to come into this room and see things maybe a little more relaxed or a little bit confusing. That is because, to some extent, we are punch drunk because we know it is going to be a long day. We have been here seven or eight weeks now and it is going to keep going and going.

That what is important for this government to learn, Mr. Speaker, that time is not of the essence with regard to this legislation. The House Leader said we are already implementing this, we are already doing this. We just need the legislation to make it okay.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia need an opportunity to take a step back to read Bill No. 20, to listen to what it is truly saying. Earlier today I heard the Minister of Tourism, who is in charge of the Liquor Commission, stand up on what he called a point of clarification - I am not sure what that is. He stood up and starting talking about the fact that this bill isn't what we claim it is. Why doesn't he take the opportunity in the next six months to go through the legislation with the people in his own riding, with the Liquor Commission employees, with the people of Nova Scotia who so desperately want to know exactly where this government is going.

This government has done a horrible job of communicating with the people of Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, you probably have people in your office, maybe on a daily or a weekly basis, who, when you were in Opposition - I think it was in 1993 that you got elected - you spent six years in Opposition, these are people who would have come to you with issues. Whether it be roads, or workers' compensation, whether it be community services, and you were able to fight for them. Mr. Speaker, I am sure that since you were elected they have had a lot of questions as to exactly where this government is going, what was promised, whether it be the motive fuel tax and the fact that all of it would be going to repair the roads in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley or Digby or Argyle or Inverness or Cape Breton North. They probably have a lot of questions but this government hasn't done a very good job of communicating. This government should look at this hoist as an opportunity over the summer months to listen to the people of Nova Scotia, to talk to them.

If the Minister of Tourism and the minister in charge of the Liquor Commission believe that this is good legislation, then let him take the next six months to talk to the people of Nova Scotia and explain it to them. This province will be better off because of it because the people will regain their faith in this government, if this government truly does have an agenda that Nova Scotians support. But maybe, on the other hand, we will have a government that will hear what the people are saying and might say, you know what? We haven't been listening, we have not been listening to what the people of Nova Scotia want; we have not been listening to their needs; we have not been addressing those needs. Maybe over the next six months this government will decide it needs to do things a little differently, take a different tack.

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I want to take some time in my limited period to speak on this hoist motion, to talk about what can be done over the next six months. I want to start with education. This is an issue that is very important to the people of Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage. Whether I travel to Woodside, South Woodside, Colby Village, Cow Bay or Eastern Passage, the people are constantly talking about education. Yes, health care is an ongoing issue, don't get me wrong. In my riding, one that is relatively young, a riding where there are still many families with children in school, education is a primary issue. Mr. Speaker, sometimes it takes a little bit of time for things to sink in before people begin to really worry about their education.

We have had problems in education for months, for years. Let's face it, many of the problems we have today in our education system were there when this government came into power. The people of Nova Scotia knew that. They didn't elect this government expecting miracles, but they did vote for them on the basis that there would be a few promises kept.

[4:30 p.m.]

One of them I remember quite clearly. In The Beacon, the local paper in my area, Mr. Speaker, a promise, a full page ad from Nadine Cooper-Mont, who was the candidate and a former deputy minister - the Minister of Finance may remember her, she would have been his deputy minister, I believe, there was a picture of Nadine Cooper-Mont and there was a picture of John Hamm. It said that we will restore our education system in Nova Scotia. We will invest more money in education. I remember reading that and I thought, wow, Nadine Cooper-Mont and John Hamm have the interests of Nova Scotians at heart. They truly want a better education system for Nova Scotians.

The people of Nova Scotia said, look, we don't expect miracles, but we would, if you are saying this, expect you to keep your promises, Mr. Speaker. Do you know what? Over the next six months there would be an opportunity for this government to go back and listen to the people of Nova Scotia and listen to what they are truly saying. It has been two years since this government came in. This is their first major restructuring of government legislation and it would give them two years to listen to the people of Nova Scotia as to whether this legislation, Bill No. 20, will actually improve our education system because all the restructuring in the world, all the budgets in the world mean nothing to people, it is just legislation, it is just small pieces of paper written in a newspaper, or it is seen on television as a brief comment.

They want to know whether their children are going to get that education that they need, whether their son or their daughter who maybe has the potential to be a doctor, or a nurse, or a plumber - or do you know what? In some cases a truck driver - but needs that extra help, maybe they just need that extra push, that extra motivation, maybe they just to need to know that the school is going to be there to ensure that they can fulfill themselves to the best of their potential. That is all we ever ask of our children. Let's be honest. That is all we ever ask of our grandchildren.

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This government made promises that we would create a system that would do that. Well, Mr. Speaker, I think the people of Nova Scotia would say that we do not have that system. In fact, in the Halifax Regional Municipality it has gone in the completely opposite direction and the people of Nova Scotia need the next six months. This government needs the next six months to talk to the people of Nova Scotia about how we can make this system work. Restructuring bills mean nothing. An education system that creates good students, good citizens, productive adults, and a quality of life that Nova Scotians enjoy now and want to enjoy in the future is what we need from this government, and if restructuring does not do that then this government needs six months to talk to the people of Nova Scotia about how they can do it.

My riding is in the Halifax Regional Municipality completely, and I know, Mr. Speaker, your riding is partially in the HRM. The Halifax Regional School Board is the school board for Halifax Regional Municipality, and it has been a bumpy ride to some extent since amalgamation. I have talked to my local school board representative, Grace Walker, she lives just down the road from me and we talk on a regular basis, but I know it is not an easy job that she has to deal with, but I think it is important that we reflect the fact that our education system in the last seven weeks has begun to deteriorate at a rapid pace.

I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, this is the tip of the iceberg. You know it's funny how things come in waves. In the last 10 years there seemed to be very few strikes, very few labour disputes, very few lockouts. For whatever reason, people, the labour market was such, there were so many people unemployed that you found that unions were willing to settle for less. The economy was not doing as well; it was not as robust. People did not feel they had an opportunity to try and negotiate agreements that would improve their quality of life.

Well, that is changing. We see so many strikes now, and more coming, whether it is the janitors, or whether it is the bus drivers for the school board who almost struck, but has settled for major cutbacks. We now have education program assistants who are on the verge of striking; we have school secretaries who are on the verge of striking; we have teachers who are negotiating this year; we have health care workers, homecare workers in Queens County; and we have workers at the Halifax International Airport. I am sure some of them live in your riding, Mr. Speaker. Now, they have settled, I believe. I believe they settled today or yesterday.

This is the point, Mr. Speaker, strikes are becoming more common. Lockouts are becoming more common because workers are not going to put up with this anymore and we need six months for this government and this province to talk about how this restructuring bill will make labour relations in this province better, will make jobs on behalf of government better.

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

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MR. DEVEAUX: Certainly, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the member for allowing me to do this introduction. In the east gallery we have with us today Derek Hayne. Derek is a Councillor for the Municipality of the District of Guysborough. He is also a teacher in the Strait Regional School system so I would ask this House to give Derek a very warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, indeed, greetings to our guest in the gallery. Greetings to all our guests. The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. DEVEAUX: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and welcome to our guests. (Interruption) Guest, singular, I am not referring to the gallery, but people at home may want to know that it is a quiet day today here, in the gallery.

But on the floor of this House, the people's work is being done and the people on this side of the House, the Opposition members are going to take the time to talk about why this legislation needs to be delayed. Why the people of Nova Scotia, were elected to come here and say on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia that we need time to talk about government restructuring. How can we make government restructuring make a better education system for Nova Scotia? How can we make government restructuring create a better health care system for Nova Scotians? In the end that is all that matters.

It doesn't matter how collective agreements are approved by Cabinet or by the Treasury Board. It doesn't matter whether liquor stores are private or public. We will talk about these things because on principle, we believe they are the details, the nuts and bolts that create a system and a quality of life for Nova Scotians; but to the average Nova Scotian, they want to know that their quality of life is better, that their children have an opportunity to succeed, that their parents and grandparents will have the quality of life, whether at home or whether in a nursing home or some other place, to ensure that people can live with dignity.

That is all we ask. That is all we were elected to do. That is all that all the members of this House were elected to do. Let's be candid. Whether you are the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, the member for Annapolis, the member for Queens, the member for Pictou West, you were elected for the same reasons we were. Because you promised the people that you would make their lives better, you would provide them with those beds, you would provide them with home care (Interruption) Oh, I am sorry. I see the member for Pictou West is shaking her head, I guess she didn't make any promises in the election. Maybe someone should pass me the blue book and show me exactly . . .

[Page 3134]

AN HON. MEMBER: She ran on that campaign, that platform, I am sure.

MR. DEVEAUX: I will hold this up, maybe the member for Pictou West didn't have an opportunity to see this during the election. This was tabled in the House several times so that the document has already been tabled, but Mr. Speaker, I will just hold this up so the member for Pictou West can take a good look at it. It is blue and it says, strong leadership, a clear curse.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is course.

MR. DEVEAUX: Oh. Mr. Speaker, this is the point. They were elected on promises to make people's lives better. Whether they said it directly or indirectly, that is what they were elected to do. That is why people vote. If they think the government is making their lives better, they vote to keep a government in. If they think a government is not making their lives better, they vote them out and vote for someone else who they think will. That is what happened on July 27, 1999 and that is why we have all been elected, all 52 of us.

That is clear. That is simple. But what is important to remember is that we need six months for this government to touch base with these people, to touch base with the people of Nova Scotia as to why they are here. They have lost sight. The quality of life has not improved. The health care system has not improved. The education system has not improved and the people of Nova Scotia need time to talk about how and if government restructuring will solve these problems.

If Bill No. 20 is a panacea, then take the time to tell people why it will make their lives better. How will it ensure their grandparents and parents have a bed in a long-term care facility? How will it ensure that their children have an education that will guarantee that they can succeed? How will it ensure that there are jobs for them and their children and their relatives and their loved ones? That is what this is about. That is why we are here. That is why we need six months to talk to the people of Nova Scotia.

I was talking about education before the member for Pictou West got me diverted. I was talking a bit about the bus drivers because they were the thin edge of the wedge, they were the beginning. Again, it wasn't this government that imposed privatization of bus drivers in Nova Scotia, that was the Liberals. But this government hasn't done anything to improve the lives of bus drivers. Let's face it, there are bus drivers in all our ridings. School bus drivers do an important job. We heard today in Question Period, from my colleague, the member for Halifax Needham, our Education Critic, who talked about the fact that there are problems with the privatized bus service in Annapolis Valley.

We saw in Halifax Regional Municipality that the service that was there, Stock Transport, was told by the school board, because the school board had to save money, because this government told them they were getting less, that Stock had to make cuts. Stock

[Page 3135]

had a contract with its union employees, it went to them and said, you are going to have to take drastic cuts or our contract is gone. The school board threatened to go to someone else who could do it cheaper, i.e. non-union labour. These workers were put over a barrel, and they had to make a decision. I can assure you that the school bus drivers in the Halifax Regional Municipality and many other places in Nova Scotia will tell you, their quality of life has not improved under this Tory Government.

Maybe they need six months, maybe this Tory Government needs six months to talk to those school bus drivers about how they can make their lives better; how the fact that these cuts that have been downloaded on school bus drivers that have resulted in major cuts in wages, major cuts in hours, major cuts in benefits will result in their having a better life. How their children will be able to succeed, how their children will be able to go to university or community college, so that they can build a better life for themselves. It is simple. They only want for themselves and their children what everyone else has, a decent home, a working car, a little piece of land they can relax on in the summer, maybe do some gardening, mowing.

That is all they ask for. They are not asking for the moon. But when they voted Tory, when the people of Nova Scotia, 39 per cent of them, voted Tory, they thought they were getting something. Those school bus drivers, some of them probably voted Tory as well, and they were voting for a government that would provide them with a good quality of life, wouldn't take away more. In fact, I wouldn't doubt if some of the members across the way probably said, oh, contracting out, Stock, DRL, that is bad, we are going to do something about that. Let me write that down on my list of promises, yes, I will fix that for you. Then they got elected, and they have done nothing. The people of Nova Scotia aren't stupid. They know. They know these promises were made; they know what they were voting for; and they will remember it the next election.

Mr. Speaker, janitors are the next part, the next layer of the iceberg, the next piece of the wedge. I tabled a letter today and I never had an opportunity to read the whole letter, and I would like to take that opportunity now. It is from a constituent of mine who came into my office, Gail Fulop. She wrote it on behalf of many parents at the Tallahassee Community School, which is a school in my riding.

Mr. Speaker, before I read it, I just want to say for seven weeks we have had a strike going on, and the janitors aren't asking for higher wages, the janitors aren't asking for gold, all they want is what they have. They want the benefits and the wages that they have had. We have a school board that is trying to force them to take major cuts because this Minister of Education, this Minister of Finance, this Premier have said, we are going to download on school boards and the school boards will have to download on essential services.

Mr. Speaker, that is a shame. These are essential services, and they need to be maintained. Janitors and custodians and maintenance staff are the services that our children so desperately need in our schools. Bill No. 20 goes even further. I find it quite ironic that

[Page 3136]

we have a government that says, we have a Minister of Education and a Minister of Labour who will stand up and say, we are not going to get involved, we are not going to intervene. Now we have a House Leader who says, all Bill No. 20 is doing is entrenching in law what we are already doing.

What does Bill No. 20 do, it says that any collective agreements signed by a school board must be approved by the Treasury Board. Something doesn't jive there. They are not connected. Either they are not getting involved or they have to approve the collective agreement signed between the janitors and the school board. Those are mutually exclusive. They can't be both. Maybe the Minister of Education isn't on the Treasury Board, maybe she hasn't read that piece of legislation. (Interruptions) I am sorry, what is the Minister of Health saying? I didn't hear him.

Mr. Speaker, the point is that this government and the Treasury Board, in this legislation, is entrenching the right to veto any collective agreement. So people have said Dave Reid is hard nosed, Dave Reid and the staff at the school board are being tough. I would suggest to you that Dave Reid is just doing what the Treasury Board has told him to do. Maybe he has come back with proposals. Maybe from time to time he has gone to the Treasury Board and said, I have proposals, I think I can live with this, and the Treasury Board has said, no, we have to approve these collective agreements and we think this is wrong, get tough, go out there, fight to the end.

[4:45 p.m.]

In the end, it is the Treasury Board that must approve these collective agreements. It is this government that must approve these collective agreements and it is this government that is responsible for the strike, is responsible for the state of our schools, is responsible for what the people of Nova Scotia and the children of Nova Scotia are dealing with right now because, in the end, they are the ones who will be approving these collective agreements.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to read the letter. May 1, 2001, to the Halifax Regional Municipality School Board. "On behalf of many parents here in Eastern Passage I am writing this letter as a formal complaint in regards to the cleanliness of our school, Tallahassee Community. We are very proud of our school and very grateful for the services provided by one of our bus drivers Dave MacLean. We realize that Mr. MacLean is doing all one person can do to maintain a healthy environment for our children.

Here are but a few examples of incidents that have occurred over the past few weeks.

"1. A child threw up in a class. The entire class was moved to the library to continue teaching as the teacher is not allowed to clean up and the smell was nauseating. No caretaker to help us.

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2. Another child threw up in another class. Children had to step over the vomit to exit after school, as it happened at the entrance door, the bus driver was driving children home, the teacher was not allowed to clean it up. No caretaker to help us.

3. Children who aren't usually 'coughers' are coughing much more these days and their ventilators are being used more. Dust mites are thriving . . . no caretaker to help us."

Mr. Speaker, these are all examples, and I have more when I continue reading this letter, of why this hoist is necessary so that the people of Nova Scotia have an opportunity to talk about how Bill No. 20 and the override of collective agreements by this government and this Treasury Board will have an impact and why these janitors are being left out on strike because this government is unwilling to approve any collective agreements.

"4. A child had a nose bleed. There was a trail of blood down the hall. This is an elementary school where children, by nature, touch everything unfamiliar. Is this not a serious health issue? This trail was left to dry as there was no caretaker to help us.

5. Juice was spilled on the steps. A child's foot momentarily stuck and she fell down the stairs causing injury to herself. Too bad we had no caretaker.

Enclosed, please find the paper towel used to clean the desks of one classroom." Actually I didn't get any copies of that. "These desks are not only used for schoolwork, our children stay for lunch and they must eat their food here also. This is what they're eating on.

Also enclosed please find a small sample of what is taking over our computer room. When the computers and lights are turned on and the heat in the room rises, the air is filled with dust mites and there aren't any windows to open. It's hard to concentrate on your work when you can't breathe properly and your eyes are itchy.

Proper caretaking is a necessary component of our children's education, health and safety. We have no hidden political agenda. We are taking no sides. We are simply on the side our children. We believe that most people on both sides of the bargaining table are parents. Let's set an example for the children we are in charge of raising. A lesson in communication and problem-solving before everyone's frustration levels rise to irreversible levels.

Please! Reconcile any issues outstanding so that we may all together remember our most important priority . . the children."

It is signed by Gail Fulop. Well, Mr. Speaker. . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Is the honourable member going to table . . .

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MR. DEVEAUX: It was tabled today, during Question Period, Mr. Speaker.

This letter speaks volumes on behalf of the people of Eastern Passage, the parents of Tallahassee Community School, throughout the Halifax region. We have had letters from other areas as well. These are major health problems. Our children have not only had to deal with the fact that if they house someone with a behaviour or learning disability problem, they are slipping through the cracks. I have talked to the principals on an annual basis. They tell me that many children are slipping through the cracks. The children with ADD or other behavioural issues that maybe could achieve and have a good quality of life and be productive citizens are left languishing in a classroom without any real help because this government is doing nothing.

Now we have literal health and safety issues. It used to just be the sick building, it used to be that maybe over 5 or 10 years they might get asthma or allergies would increase. Now we have serious safety problems, kids tripping downstairs, vomit in the hallways, Mr. Speaker, because this government, through Bill No. 20, is trying to put a tight rein on essential services and trying to prevent true labour peace in the Halifax Regional Municipality, trying to prevent our education system from working properly.

Now, they may have an agenda, but my point is, Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia, the people of Halifax need to hear what that agenda is. They need to know why their children have to step over vomit, they need to know why there is blood in the hallways and over the next six months, maybe you can tell them why Bill No. 20 is necessary so that the people of Halifax and the children of Halifax can understand why they need to face these barriers. That is a shame and this government cannot defend that. Over the next six months I would hope they would listen to the people of Nova Scotia, listen to the people of Halifax Regional Municipality as to why they need to do things differently. Why Bill No. 20 and its restructuring does not make the quality of life better for the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, the janitors are only the second part of the problem with regard to our education system in the Halifax Regional Municipality. We are going to have, over the next few months, others - secretaries - you know, I had the opportunity, I would say it was probably early March, I'm trying to remember now, it might have been late February, I think it was early March - Mary Conrad, she has had 25 years at the Oceanview School. Lovely woman, actually the first year she started as a secretary was when I was in Grade 4, many years ago. She has done a great job, I went to school with her son and daughter.

Mary Conrad is an example of what every school needs; someone who knows everyone's name, someone when those children walk through the door is not just a number but the children of their friends and their family and they treat them with dignity and respect. They give them the love and the caring that is necessary in any school that is going to work effectively. She has been doing that for 25 years, she is an example of what secretaries do; they are the ones who keep schools together. They are the ones who ensure that our schools

[Page 3139]

work effectively, they are chief cook and bottle washer in so many ways. It was a lovely ceremony at Oceanview School, it was an opportunity to celebrate Mary Conrad and what she has done for the school and the community. I put forward a resolution here in the House last year, which was endorsed by everyone here, including the government. Clearly they think Mary's doing a good job. Mary is an example of what our secretaries are doing.

Mr. Speaker, here is the problem: Bill No. 20 gives this government the power and the authority to veto any collective agreements with the secretaries at that school board and they are in the middle of negotiations right now. Let's be honest, the House Leader said, the House Leader has told us that those collective agreements are already being vetoed by this government, they just want the legal authority in Bill No. 20 to keep doing it. So if they are already rejecting these collective agreements, then this government is responsible for putting the secretaries on the brink of a strike at our school boards. That is a problem.

Our schools are already in desperate shape because we have school bus drivers that are destitute, morale is low because of the agreement they were forced to sign. We have janitors on strike, we have maintenance people who aren't able to do their job. Now we are going to have secretaries who are out on strike as well. This government is responsible because under Bill No. 20 and what they have already been doing, they are not signing these agreements. They are telling, I suggest, the school boards to hang tough. Tight restraint. Put the boots to the workers because in the end we will be able to balance the books and give a 10 per cent tax cut. (Interruption.)

The secretaries are just another example. Let's talk about EPAs, education program assistants. There are lots of them in my riding and I talk to them on a regular basis. These are people who, for a very meagre salary, are working with the children who need so much help. The high-needs, special-needs children, whether it is autism, whether it is other forms of mental or intellectual challenges, these EPAs are doing this. Most of them women, and let's be clear, so are the secretaries. Maybe they are not being given the respect they deserve because of gender; we can talk many more hours about that issue, but on top of it, they aren't being given the respect they deserve for the work they do.

When the government imposed, when the court imposed inclusion, when high-needs children were put into the classroom everyone applauded, it is a good thing. But there were never the resources necessary to make sure that it worked and it is the EPAs, with the meagre resources they are being provided with, with the meagre resources the school board is being provided with, that are holding it together to ensure our children continue to get some semblance of a quality of education. It is not easy, but these EPAs are the ones doing the hard work. They are the ones working with these children. You see it in their faces; if you travel around to the schools and you talk to the EPAs they will tell you they love these children. They can tell you these children have a personality of their own, they have a way and a character that builds the love between the EPA and the child, or children. That is special and

[Page 3140]

it is something we need to cherish. These people are doing the work that needs to be done to make sure these children have an opportunity for a decent and dignified quality of life.

They are about to go on strike as well. They are in negotiations with the school board. The school board goes to the table and it has to keep looking over its shoulder because according to Bill No. 20, which is already imposed, this is just legally affirming what the government is doing; the school board has to look over its shoulder to make sure the minister in charge of the Treasury Board and the Premier aren't saying, tsk, tsk, no, can't do that. The school board is at the table, but let's be candid, the people who are truly the ones vetoing or approving these collective agreements are in this room, and the bureaucrats they answer to.

This is a problem. We create school boards because we think that people at a local level should have more control over their education system. EPAs should be able to negotiate with the local school board and elected officials. But we see the facade is now being broken down. We have elected officials who have no control or any power to fix things. We have superintendents and staff at school boards who probably don't really have any control. It is the minister in charge of the Treasury Board, it is the Premier, it is the Minister of Finance, it is the Minister of Education and a handful of bureaucrats who are saying behind the scenes, we don't like these collective agreements, hang tough. Let them go on strike. We will break them. We will make sure those workers know we are the boss and we will guarantee that we will balance those books and give that tax cut to the wealthy in this province, when, in fact, these EPAs deserve the credit, the respect and the dignity of every Nova Scotian for the work they do and this government turns a blind eye, turns their head. Like Pontius Pilate, washes their hands and tries to blame others for their own decisions. That is a shame.

The EPAs are just one more example of why Bill No. 20 is wrong, why restructuring in this case isn't working and why we need six months to talk to the people of Nova Scotia about how restructuring can make a quality of life better. Downloading and imposing stringent and strict measures on our EPAs in our schools is not going to make their lives better. It is not going to make their husband's or wives lives better or their children's lives better and it is not going to make the lives better of those special children who need their help or the other children in our classroom. Let's be clear, this isn't just a few children with special needs, these are the other children in the classroom who rely on those EPAs so they can also get a decent quality of education.

Everyone is affected, but this government doesn't see that and they continue to download and impose and put people under their thumb in hopes they can get a little political advantage out of it when, in the end, the people of Nova Scotia will know that their quality of life is deteriorating because of every decision made across this way. The people of Nova Scotia know that and that is why they want six months to talk about how Bill No. 20 can truly make their lives better. It isn't just restructuring for the sake of autocratically imposing decisions on collective agreements on workers.

[Page 3141]

Mr. Speaker, the worst is yet to come. EPAs, secretaries, school bus drivers, janitors, maintenance staff, these people are all facing it now. In the fall we are going to have the teachers. I saw today, during Question Period, the members across the way applaud when the Minister of Education said, the teachers don't run our education system, we will do what we want. Those are strong words. Maybe they need a quick lesson in politics. Most governments rue the day they try and take on the Teachers Union. Why? Because teachers are doing the work that needs to be done for our children. I always remember going down to Sheet Harbour when a friend of mine, who is a teacher and so is his wife used to live in Sheet Harbour, they lived on what I think they called "Snob Hill". Sheet Harbour is a small town and up on that hill was where all the professionals lived, the Mounties, maybe there was a doctor or two, the nurses . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Lawyers.

[5:00 p.m.]

MR. DEVEAUX: I am not sure how many lawyers there are in Sheet Harbour, but the teachers are there as well. In the small communities of Nova Scotia, whether it is Parrsboro, whether it is Weymouth, whether it is Middle Musquodoboit, the teachers become - maybe where there isn't a law firm, maybe there aren't a lot of doctors - the professionals. They become the group that people rely on. They have the education, they have that experience to help lead a community, not just in the classroom, but outside. Whether it is in fundraising or at the Lions Club or at the Kiwanis or at the KOC or the Shriners, the UCW, those teachers are leaders in their communities.

You may not see it as much in metro, though it is there, but in those communities it is right in front of you. In those small communities teachers are the leaders. I think that is indicative here. You look around at the number of teachers that are elected because in those communities teachers take on a leadership role and therefore they are more likely to be elected to this House. The Minister of Economic Development is probably a great example, the Minister of Tourism and Culture is another, of teachers who are leaders in their communities. Yet, what does this government say? What does this government say? In fact, members of the union applaud the Minister of Education when she says we are going to put the boots to the Teachers Union. Well that is not right; that is not the way to build an education system in our province. That is not the way to ensure that the people of Nova Scotia have a quality education.

As I said, across this way when they were doing that, I leaned over and said to the Minister of Justice, I said be careful, no government wins when they try to take on the teachers, because teachers do a job that the people of Nova Scotia respect. They do a job that the people of Nova Scotia value. You heard my friend from Hants East talk about that earlier, about the amount of work the teachers do. People know that, whether it be in the classroom or whether it be leaders in their community. When you try to take on teachers you are taking

[Page 3142]

on not only the institution, you are not taking on the union, you are taking on a profession, you are taking on the leaders in our communities and that you can't win. You will not win that battle and if this government thinks they do and they will, then you are going to learn a sad political lesson.

Mr. Speaker, they are in the midst of negotiation over the next several months. If this government takes this hard line that they are taking with the janitors, that they are taking with the EPAs, that they are taking with the secretaries in our schools, they are going to have the same problem. In fact we already saw it. I think there is legislation here in this House that guarantees that there is one-tier negotiating. This government is bringing in the power so that every part of the collective agreement with teachers - it used to be that part of the collective agreement, I think salaries and other things, were negotiated provincially, but some of the other benefits and some of the other work conditions were negotiated at the local level, at the school board level.

While this government in legislation is trying to bring everything in and the Teachers Union I think said they don't have a problem with that, this government may be using that not to improve quality of workplace but to actually try again to put them under their thumb. Bill No. 20 does this, the collective agreements have to be approved, the Treasury Board has to approve these.

A few people controlling so much. Mr. Speaker, and that is why we need this hoist. That is why we need six months for the people of Nova Scotia to talk to this government, to talk to the members. Maybe the members of the Teachers Union who sit across the way will take the time to go out and talk to some of their fellow teachers about what they really should be saying and thinking about our education system. I find it hard to believe that the Minister of Economic Development or the Minister of Tourism and Culture could actually lose sight of our education system in such a short time.

I would suggest to you that they are in his House because they were upset with how our education system was being run, that they believe that our education system could be run better. As leaders in their community they wanted to make their education system better. Maybe they need six months to go back and talk to the people in their community and talk to the teachers in their communities and across this province so they can learn about what is really going on. Education isn't getting better, it is getting worse and you are responsible Mr. Speaker - not you personally - the government across the way.

Mr. Speaker, that is why we need six months. That is why we need this hoist, so that the people of Nova Scotia can talk to their members - whether they be members of the Teachers Union or members of the Bar or just average people who have comments - that they want to hear from. That is what is necessary.

[Page 3143]

I have talked about education because it is an important issue in my riding, but the one thing that I haven't talked about that has been impacted by education cuts are the parents.

I talked during the debate on the Financial Measures (2001) Act a lot about how parents are impacted, whether it is all the candy drives or all the spring fairs and all the auctions they have to go to, to raise money for things that should be paid for by this government. Parents know it; parents realize that. Many of them voted Tory. They voted for change. They voted against the Liberals, whether they voted for us or the Tories, because they wanted to see something different.

They wanted a system that ensured - they might not have articulated it as - I don't want to have to have my six year old go out and sell chocolate bars. What they were probably saying is, you know what? I want a system like it used to be. I want a system that ensures my child gets a decent education and we don't have to send little Johnny or Jane out at 5:00 o'clock every day in October to sell candy. I want a system that meant I didn't have to go out and go to an auction or to raise money, except for things that were necessary, Mr. Speaker, for curtains, for walkways, for playground equipment, things that should be part of the capital structure of a school. We have PTOs and Home and Schools and PTAs working on because this government has made the education system so deplorable that they have to step in.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 20, as a restructuring bill, should address this. If we are restructuring government, it should be to more adequately address the needs of the people of Nova Scotia, whether they be parents, whether they be seniors, whether they be just average citizens who are looking for work, restructuring government should be retooling government to ensure the people of Nova Scotia get a system that works for them.

That is not in Bill No. 20. Bill No. 20 is the furthest thing from that, Mr. Speaker, and that is why we need six months to talk about how this Bill No. 20, how restructuring must be redone. Let's reshuffle that deck so that the people of Nova Scotia get a restructuring that ensures that their education system is there so that little Johnny and Jane don't have to sell chocolate bars on a cold, dark night in October, so I don't have to go out in the middle of a snowstorm to go to an auction to raise money for something that my tax dollars should be paying for. That is what the people of Nova Scotia want, that is what this government isn't providing, that is not what Bill 20 does. That is why we need six months to talk to the people of Nova Scotia about why Bill No. 20 and restructuring and this government are not improving the quality of life of Nova Scotians.

I would be remiss, Mr. Speaker, if I didn't take an opportunity to talk about health care as well. We have several groups on that front that are also negotiating contracts this year; nurses, doctors, other workers as well. It is a tough year, I am sure the government, or the previous government when they signed them, are thinking, let's do it in the middle of a term. It is not a bad idea, politically - negotiate these contracts in the middle of a government's majority so that maybe in two years people forget about everything.

[Page 3144]

I was thinking about this the other day about nurses; nurses are saying they are on the brink of striking. My mother was a nurse, Mr. Speaker. She worked at the Grace Maternity Hospital. My sister was one as well. My mother who, quite honestly, until I ran for politics was a Tory, a dyed-in-the-wool Tory, loved Bob Stanfield, even loved Joe Clark. I don't understand that but she supported the Tories on a regular basis. If she read Bill No. 20 now, she would say, we need six months to talk about how this is going to help the nurses of Nova Scotia, as she was a nurse. She is retired now.

Mr. Speaker, if I can just talk a bit about her experience as a nurse. I was young, only about 10 or 11, I think, when the nurses went on strike. It may have been the last time they went on strike, in 1975 I think it was. The Liberals were in power, it was Gerald Regan. My mother always said - it wasn't that long a strike, I don't remember. She may have a better memory than I have, or other members in the House might have. Maybe the Minister of Transportation and Public Works was actually here then, I am not sure.

Mr. Speaker, clearly there was a strike by nurses. My mother always said, if Gerald Regan ever had to go into a hospital, he had better watch out because the nurses would never forget the fact that he made them have to go out on strike. I find that ironic since she worked at a maternity hospital, I am not sure why Gerald Regan would be showing up at a maternity hospital. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I have to intervene. I am not sure why Gerald Regan would have shown up at a maternity hospital. I think we should get back perhaps . . .

MR. DEVEAUX: I have a point to this.

MR. SPEAKER: Oh well, honourable member, carry on. I was waiting for the correlation here.

MR. DEVEAUX: My point is that any government that thinks it is going to allow nurses to go on strike and win a political victory from that, nurses have a long memory and they won't forget any government that makes them go on strike. If this government thinks it can put nurses out on strike and win a political victory from that, it is sorely mistaken. The people of Nova Scotia and the nurses of Nova Scotia, if they have to go on strike to fight for - and these are the lowest paid nurses in the country, those registered nurses. LPNs as nurses are the third lowest paid. This government, as we have seen in the past year, has said about some of these people that they are not even real nurses. We have heard that from the member for Dartmouth South, the government caucus chair.

Mr. Speaker, do you know what? Maybe we need six months to talk about restructuring. Maybe we need six months to talk about how Bill No. 20 will ensure that nurses will get a better lifestyle. They will have better working conditions. They will have full-time permanent jobs so they can go out and do what they want to do which is treat the

[Page 3145]

sick and treat the injured. That is all nurses want to do. They don't go in it for glory. They don't go in it for money. God knows there is not much else they can do, but they go in it because they love the work and they love what they do, helping people.

Mr. Speaker, why can't we treat them with dignity? Yet this government under Bill No. 20 is putting them under their thumb as well. The Treasury Board will have to approve every collective agreement with nurses and those nurses better be careful because this government is going to get tough with them like they got tough with the janitors, like they are going to get tough with the school secretaries, like they are going to get tough with the teachers. They are going to get tough with the nurses as well. (Interruptions)

Maybe the Minister of Health wasn't here when I was talking about it. Maybe he will read Hansard and pick up on that but, Mr. Speaker, my point is that like the teachers, even more so than the teachers, you do not put nurses out on strike because you will pay the political price. The nurses of Nova Scotia will never forget, like my mother will never forget Gerald Regan and him putting them on strike in 1975. They will never forget a government that does that to them. They do so much for the people of Nova Scotia. They do so much for our communities. I talked about the teachers as the leaders in our smaller communities; the nurses are as well. They are the ones who are leaders in our communities. They have a level of education. They have a skill and they are doing so much. (Interruption)

Do you know what, Mr. Speaker, that is what we need to be cherishing, we need to be valuing, we need to be improving and ensuring that they can continue to be the leaders. Quality of life isn't just about a hospital. It isn't just about a school. It is about teachers who care for our children, who want to teach. It is about nurses who care for the sick and want to care for them in our hospitals. When they leave work, they put in time as volunteers in their local community groups, in their local churches and in their local schools.

Mr. Speaker, that is what we want out of leaders. That is what our nurses and teachers are and yet this government seems to be giving them the back of their hand instead of giving them a hand. That is wrong and the people of Nova Scotia know it. Nurses know it. Any government that thinks Bill No. 20 is going to do anything more than create more strikes, more labour strife and more political problems and lower the quality of life of Nova Scotians, does not understand politics very well.

You know, Mr. Speaker, and maybe the Minister of Health may want to listen to this, I got a phone call the other day from Omnifacts.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, I don't believe that.

MR. DEVEAUX: Yes, I did. They did not know who I was. They were just randomly calling people.

[Page 3146]

AN HON. MEMBER: And you told them who you were. (Interruptions)

MR. DEVEAUX: So Omnifacts called and said they were doing a survey on the health care system of Nova Scotia. (Interruptions) I will just go through the questions. I am not going to tell you what the answers are because that is confidential. But you know, Mr. Speaker, I thought it was quite interesting because it had to be a poll from the government. This had to be a poll from the government. Maybe the Minister of Health can listen, he probably already knows, maybe he rubber-stamped what the polling was, but the polling questions were this:

Do you think our health care system is better now than it was five years ago? Then it went on to say, if money and time were not an issue, would you rather have an operation in Halifax, Toronto or New York City? (Interruption) Exactly, if I live in Yarmouth, I am not sure why I would want to answer Halifax. Maybe I want to have my operation in Yarmouth and I am sure the Minister of Finance can tell us, I mean he has recently had to go through the Yarmouth General Hospital, I believe it is, or the Yarmouth Regional, and a very good hospital, I am sure it was (Interruption) super. Mr. Speaker, then Omnifacts went on to ask me about the whole issue of doctors. What do you think of doctors and they asked five questions. I don't remember them all right now.

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I am going to talk about this Omnifacts poll, but I want to make it clear for your sake that it is important to know why I am talking about this poll, because it is another part of government restructuring, it is another ploy by this Treasury Board that Bill No. 20 is trying to address. It is more than about polling, it is more about this government trying to put people under their thumb, trying to repress workers who are doing so much for Nova Scotia, destroying the quality of life of this province, and that is why we need six months to talk about why this and the type of symptoms like polling by Omnifacts are destroying our province.

Mr. Speaker, Omnifacts went on to talk about doctors and it said - you had to rank it from one to five, one being not very good and five being excellent - how do they communicate? Do you trust them? There were five of them. Do they talk to you very much? There were a couple of others. Then it was interesting, it went from the doctors to the politicians. The Omnifacts poll said - it had five questions, the exact same five questions - do you trust your politicians? Do you believe what they say? Are they communicating with you? Do they get back to you when you have a problem?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable members should try to make sure their cell phones are shut off in the Legislature.

[Page 3147]

MR. DEVEAUX: Then it asked about the third group, and that was nurses. It asked the same five questions about nurses, ranking from one to five, one being poor and five being very good or excellent. Are they communicative? Do they get back to you when you have a problem? So on and so forth. Then it went on to ask, do you think doctors are overpaid? Do you think they are overworked? Then it asked the same thing about nurses. Didn't ask about politicians. I was expecting that question.

Mr. Speaker, my point is this government is out polling the people of Nova Scotia with one purpose in mind. They want to see whether they can put nurses out on strike, whether they can go to the wall with doctors and salary negotiations, and whether the people of Nova Scotia are going to be behind them. That is what this is all about. Why would you ask whether nurses are overpaid? Why would you ask whether workers are overworked? Why would you ask whether nurses have your respect, and whether you think they are doing an excellent job? Because you want to know what the perception of the people of Nova Scotia is so you can decide whether or not you are going to throw them out of work, lock them out and try and play hard ball with them.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you right now, I don't need a poll to tell me what people in Nova Scotia think of nurses, or what they think of their doctors, if they have a doctor. That is the problem. I am curious about those people at Omnifacts who might actually say, what is a doctor, I don't have one. We also have an aging population. The Minister of Transportation and Public Works, our House Leader is saying we have more doctors per capita, and I said we also have an aging population, which means we have more need for doctors, therefore, we should have more doctors, considering the age of the population. (Interruptions)

Yes, they are concentrated in Halifax. What does that mean to someone in Yarmouth who doesn't have a doctor? I have a population of 12,000 in Eastern Passage, and there is one doctor. Luckily, we are close enough to Dartmouth that maybe there are some opportunities there. That is where my doctor is, and many others. But there are many communities in this province that don't have that. We have heard the member for Richmond talk about his emergency room, and the problems at the Strait-Richmond Hospital, Northside General Hospital is another one.

Mr. Speaker, the point is that Omnifacts polling by this government was done with one purpose. It wasn't done to improve our health care system, it wasn't money spent on improving our health care system. It doesn't bring one more nurse into this province; it doesn't move one more nurse from casual to full-time; it doesn't bring one more doctor into this province. All it is is a form of ensuring this government knows whether it can put these people out on strike, and whether it will have the support of the people.

[Page 3148]

I don't need a poll for that. I know this government does not have the support of the people. That is why Nova Scotians don't like Bill No. 20. That is why they need six months to talk about why this restructuring and what has been created through this restructuring, wasting money on polling or wasting money on footprint consultants or wasting money on PR firms for a botched Sysco deal - why these things are a problem. Bill No. 20 doesn't solve them; Bill No. 20 only makes them worse. That is why we need six months to talk about how this legislation can be changed so that restructuring does not ensure government money is wasted on polling to see whether people like nurses. We all know the answer to that. They do like nurses, and respect them and value them.

Mr. Speaker, maybe that money should be spent on truly fixing our health care system, investing in our front-line workers. Let's stop the polling, and let's start the negotiating, let's start talking and treating our nurses and our doctors with dignity. That is what is needed. Polling isn't the answer and I would hope the Minister of Health is listening so that he will try and stop these pollings from going on any more. How much time do I have left, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has two and a half minutes.

MR. DEVEAUX: Two and a half minutes. Thank you. I guess I will have to leave the other half of my speech for the next hour, Mr. Speaker. I think it is important then to reflect on the fact of what we have here. Bill No. 20 is restructuring. Restructuring isn't just shuffling the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. Restructuring is not just about shuffling a deck of cards. It is about trying to make government more reflective and more responsive to the people of Nova Scotia, whether that be the roads of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley or nurses in Yarmouth or teachers in Sheet Harbour. The people of Nova Scotia want a government and they voted for a government two years ago that would create a government that is responsive. That is why they voted against the Liberals. That is why they voted Tory and NDP and that is why the Tories are in government.

But the people of Nova Scotia haven't gotten that. They continue to wait and Bill No. 20 is one more sad example of this government not listening, this government not responding to what the people of Nova Scotia want but instead just talking about restructuring for the sake of more control and an opportunity to rip up collective agreements and prevent true negotiations, one-on-one at the table. It is a sin.

Mr. Speaker, I remember five or six years ago, the member for Halifax Atlantic was here, there was and Education Act that was passed and there was a whole debate about whether or not there would be these issues of collective agreements being overridden. This government is doing the exact same thing. They are trying to do it through the back door and the people of Nova Scotia won't put up with it. They want a government that is responsive, a government that ensures their quality of life is better for them and their children and their parents and their grandchildren and their grandparents.

[Page 3149]

Mr. Speaker, that won't happen overnight. The people of Nova Scotia aren't naive. They are not expecting things to happen overnight, but at least show them you are going in the right direction. They don't see that. They don't believe it is going to happen and Bill No. 20 only continues to have people believe that this government is not doing what they promised. That is wrong and the people of Nova Scotia need six months and they need this hoist legislation to ensure they have an opportunity to talk to their government once again.

You are in the middle of your term. Take some time. Take six months to talk to the people of Nova Scotia and then maybe you can come back and begin to really address how you can make their lives better. Thank you.

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak on this hoist amendment. The six months' hoist will allow the government some time to explain what the real impact this Bill No. 20 - this Government Restructuring (2001) Bill - will have on the people of Nova Scotia. For a Party that ran on an open, transparent and accountable platform, you would think this hoist amendment would be an opportunity for this government to be open and sit down with entrusted groups, entrusted individuals and provide them with the information on Bill No. 20 and how Bill No. 20 affects them.

Mr. Speaker, I have received a copy of a letter from the President of the NSGEU that was sent to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and I will table this letter. The President of the NSGEU, Joan Jessome, is basically asking that this bill not be allowed to go any further in the legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why?

MR. GAUDET: Why? There are concerns. But I think we have to understand, what does she mean by not to go any further in the legislation? We know that the bill is currently in second reading. We are currently debating the second amendment on this bill. I understand, at some point in time, Mr. Speaker, we will be voting on this amendment. We will be voting on the second reading of this bill. This bill will then move to Law Amendments. At that time, any Nova Scotian may come to the Law Amendments Committee and speak to the committee in regard to the concerns they have on Bill No. 20.

Mr. Speaker, I can understand why the president of the NSGEU, representing over 21,000 public government employees have concerns over this bill. You can understand, again, why some questions have been raised by the president regarding the government's restructuring that is being proposed by this government in Bill No. 20.

[Page 3150]

Mr. Speaker, I am sure you were here last Friday when a group of government employees came down to the House in protest. Many government employees are probably asking themselves if this bill is going to affect them in some way. With this hoist amendment the government can take the time now and reassure government employees that this bill is not going to impact on them if that is the case. This amendment certainly provides the government with an opportunity here to sit down with the president of the NSGEU and sit down with representatives from the NSGEU to explain exactly what the impacts of Bill No. 20 will be on government employees.

Mr. Speaker, another copy of a letter I received, addressed to the same minister, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, it was sent by the President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, Mr. Clarke. Mr. Clarke is asking for an open and informed discussion about the implications of Bill No. 20 and how critical it is to have these discussions. Again, the government, with this hoist amendment has an opportunity to sit down with the president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour and reassure him and reassure his members that this bill is not going to impact on his members, if that is the case.

You can understand why government employees are a little nervous with Bill No. 20. With this piece of legislation amendments are being proposed under the Liquor Control Act. Well, let's talk about some of those amendments are being proposed. It talks about restructuring the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission to the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation. Under the proposed amendments we see that the chairman and the board of directors of the corporation will be appointed by an OIC, that is an Order in Council, for terms and salaries to be determined by the Governor in Council. Those details are not within this bill. Again, here are very important details that will be sorted out at some point in time by Cabinet. We need to ask the government why would the terms and salaries not be entrenched in this piece of legislation to ensure public accountability - you know, that this Party ran on in the last election.

This is not the first piece of legislation that this Tory Government has brought forward in which details are left up to Cabinet or to the Governor in Council which enables the government to changes, conditions, terms, remuneration, without being accountable into the Legislature for doing so. This new practice allows the government to continue to escape public scrutiny. This is the same Party that ran on an open, transparent, accountable platform. I guess we have to say so much for openness and accountability.

Mr. Speaker, this bill will also allow the Governor in Council to make regulations establishing a consultation committee to advise the minster. It is a little confusing. On one hand, we have the minister appointing his own chairman and board of directors of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation and, on the other hand, we have the minister who will be appointing a consultation committee to advise him. Yes, the obvious question that comes to mind is, why would the minister need an advisory committee when he appoints the chairman and the board of the Liquor Corporation to advise him? Well, maybe the government wants

[Page 3151]

to take the next six months and inform Nova Scotians why there is a need to have these two separate committees because on one hand, we have the board and the chairman and on the other side we have this advisory committee.

[5:30 p.m.]

Also, Mr. Speaker, in this bill, the government is proposing to increase the fines and violations for the illegal sale of liquor. That is interesting. I am sure many Nova Scotians are surprised, just as you and I have been, to see that the government did not decide to decrease the fines for violations for the illegal sale of liquor, just like they did for the smuggling of tobacco. The government told us that the fines for smuggling tobacco couldn't be enforced at the level they were. So what did they decide to do? They decided to lower the fines. The fines used to be, on the first offence, not less than $10,000 and not more than $50,000. That is for smuggling tobacco in the Province of Nova Scotia. Now they're proposing the fines to be no less $250 and not more than $5,000.

So I am sure, Mr. Speaker, you are probably wondering, as many Nova Scotians are, how will lowering the fines discourage Nova Scotians or other people smuggling tobacco in Nova Scotia? For a Party that wanted to be tough, and I mean tough, on criminals, you have to wonder what really happened here. I am sure many people are asking that very same question, what really happened here? Why is the government all of a sudden deciding to lower the fines for smuggling tobacco in the Province of Nova Scotia? Obviously, there are reasons and we still have not heard what these reasons are.

So lowering the fines certainly sends out the message that this government just doesn't care. By doing it, I am sure, Mr. Speaker, this will no doubt bring other concerns forward that the government will have to address along the way. Will it encourage more tobacco smuggling in the province? What kind of impact will it have on the legal tobacco sales in the province? Again, with this amendment, the government might reconsider lowering the fines for smuggling tobacco in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure you are wondering why did this government needs to restructure the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission. I am sure many government employees, many liquor store workers are probably asking that very same question: why is the government in need to restructure the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission? Well, there are probably reasons for this move, and I am sure the government employees are probably interested in finding out those reasons. Again, with this amendment, the government will have an opportunity in the next six months to explain to liquor store workers the need for this restructuring of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission. I am sure those employees, their families, their children who will be affected will certainly be interested in finding out what the government's plans are behind restructuring the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission.

[Page 3152]

Also, Mr. Speaker, this Tory Government has decided to move towards privately run liquor stores. Well, it is interesting. This is after they hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to do a study for them on privatizing liquor stores, and I might add that at the end of the study PricewaterhouseCoopers did not recommend this course of action.

So, Mr. Speaker, the move by this government to privatize the liquor stores is nothing more than a political decision. The study didn't show this; it was not recommended by the firm that did this study. So you have to ask yourself, where did this decision come from? This is nothing more than a political decision on behalf of the Tory Government.

Mr. Speaker, on February 20th the government decided to call for proposals to establish eight privately run liquor agency stores. In one of their own press releases they indicated that the eight locations for the eight privately run liquor agencies will be located in eight small communities across Nova Scotia. Those eight locations are in Advocate, Bass River, Freeport, French Shore, the Iona area of Cape Breton, New Ross, the Wentworth Valley, and Whycocomagh.

Mr. Speaker, you have to wonder, why in those eight different communities? Well tenders were called and the request for proposals closed on March 21, 2001. Again, you have to wonder. We haven't heard anything since then. I am sure the government has had the opportunity to look at these requests, look at these proposals, and make up their minds. Probably we will not be hearing any details of those proposals that were provided to government back in March, and I can probably tell you why government will not be making any statement, any announcements in regard to these eight privately run liquor agencies until the Houses rises.

One of those eight private liquor stores is for the French Shore, down in my area; I mentioned this earlier. I had the opportunity to question the minister responsible for liquor stores, and tried to find out, tried to get some information, what data was used, what criteria was used to justify another liquor store down on the French Shore. Currently the people of the Municipality of Clare are being served by a liquor store in Meteghan, there is a liquor store right on the boundary between the constituency of Clare and the constituency of Digby-Annapolis in the village of Weymouth, and on the other side of the riding there is a liquor store in Yarmouth.

Currently the people of Clare are being served by three liquor stores in the area. You have to ask yourself what criteria was used in order to determine there was a need for another liquor store on the French Shore, but that information is still not available. I can't tell the people back home, when I am asked, why is this government looking at opening another liquor outlet in our area, what type of information did government use in order to determine that?

[Page 3153]

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the government will proceed with those eight private liquor stores. At some point in time we will have the formal announcement, when the government decides to do the public announcements in regard to these eight communities. But then the next question is, what is going to happen after that? Is the government looking at privatizing more liquor stores in the province? Again I am wondering if there is any connection or reasons why there are talks about restructuring the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission to the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation. There has to be some connection here, and there has to be some reason.

Is it to allow government to pursue privatizing more liquor stores in the province? Maybe, I don't know. If that is part of the government, of course, they are not telling at this stage. Is it to make it easier for government to sell liquor stores down the road? Possibly, or at the same time, is it to make it easier for government to close liquor stores down the road? It is possible. Mr. Speaker, it looks to me that this Tory Government is moving towards privatizing liquor stores regardless of which way you look at this.

Again, we can understand why the president of the NSGEU has concerns over this bill and with this hoist amendment that has been brought to the floor of the House, it will allow the government the time to sit down with the executive of the NSGEU, with members, with liquor store workers, their families, and provide them with answers that they have been looking for. It is not fair to leave these individuals hanging for the time being. Yes, we understand that for the time being their jobs are safe, but for how long? I don't think it is fair to put these people through this exercise.

So, again, Mr. Speaker, this government is now going to let the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation do their dirty work. We have to wonder what is going to happen to these liquor store employees if this government decides later to privatize all the liquor stores in the province. I know the employees have been assured for now that their jobs are safe and the government should be congratulated over that, but I think the government should go one step further.

I think the president of the NSGEU is simply asking, on behalf of her membership, you know, to sit down with the government, for the government to come forward and provide her and her executive reassurance exactly what kind of impact Bill No. 20 will have on liquor store workers around the province once this bill goes through and what to expect down the road. This is a golden opportunity that this government has in the next six months to certainly sit down and explain to these individuals, their families and their children what is behind this Bill No. 20.

Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to an article that appeared in The Chronicle-Herald, Thursday, May 25, 2000. This is an article where the General Manager of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, Mr. Gary Findlay, told a Public Accounts Committee back then, when asked if the province needed more liquor stores. Well, it was a good question. Do you know

[Page 3154]

what Mr. Findlay answered to that question when he was asked at the Public Accounts Committee meeting? Mr. Findlay said, we have pretty much reached the saturation point. I will table that at the end of my speech here.

Mr. Speaker, again, even though the General Manager of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission said that we did not need any more liquor stores in the province, what did the government decide to do? Open more liquor stores; they went ahead last month, or two months ago, back in March, and they called a request for proposals to establish eight privately run liquor agency stores.

Again, if this government could decide to do the opposite of what staff recommended, you know, this Mr. Findlay works on behalf of the government in the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission. I would suspect Mr. Findlay would have that information, you know, whether or not there is a need to open more liquor stores in the Province of Nova Scotia. He did not believe that there was a need to open more liquor stores in the province.

However, we know that back in February this government decided they would go ahead and open eight liquor stores in various communities, as I pointed out to you earlier, Mr. Speaker, even though after this government had hired a firm to look at the question of whether or not the government should be looking at entering the privatization of liquor stores. So even after this study came though indicating to government that there was no need for it, government just decided to do the opposite.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I wonder if government could not repeat this very same action. After telling the employees of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission that their jobs were safe, you have to wonder today. I am sure those liquor store workers are probably asking themselves how long are their jobs safe? What kind of assurance do these employees have from this government.

So, Mr. Speaker, this amendment certainly would be a great opportunity for this government and for the Minister responsible for the administration of the Liquor Control Act to sit down with the liquor store workers and provide them with the answers they are looking for. What can they expect once this bill goes through the House on third and final reading? We know that it is just a question of time. The government has the numbers, they have the majority government. The Opposition can certainly delay as long as we can but it is going to come to a point where we vote on this bill. I think we know in the end how government will be voting on this bill; this bill will be going through. The question again is, what kind of impact will Bill No. 20 have on liquor store workers, their families, their children and the Province of Nova Scotia?

Mr. Speaker, the amendment that is before the committee certainly would provide government with the opportunity to reassure these liquor store workers of their jobs, and to allow them the opportunity to sit down with the minister and his staff if they have some

[Page 3155]

questions. I am sure they have lots of questions. You just have to look back to what happened here last Friday afternoon. There are many government employees who are uneasy, nervous in terms of what they can expect out of Bill No. 20. So, especially from that exercise last Friday, I am sure many government employees, not just liquor store workers, are probably wondering. I am sure they have a number of questions in regard to Bill No. 20.

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, chances are, yes, this Bill No. 20 will eventually sail through the House and be on its way to Law Amendments Committee. I will not be surprised to see many liquor store workers come, drive up to Halifax and appear before Law Amendments Committee looking for answers, looking for assurances from government about the future of their jobs. There are well over 500 or 700 liquor store workers in the province, so I can expect we will see, I am sure, a large number of liquor store workers coming to attend the Law Amendments Committee meetings here at the House.

Mr. Speaker, I believe the government will take this opportunity to meet with these employees during this time so they won't have to travel to Halifax from all parts of the province, so they won't have to travel to Halifax to appear before Law Amendments with their concerns and looking for answers to their questions. I think there is an opportunity here, for the Minister responsible for the administration of the Liquor Control Act and for the government to sit down and answer and work in cooperation with the government employees.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. There seems to be a tremendous amount of noise in the Chamber. I would appreciate it if the members would take some of their - order, please. Order, please. There are more members standing and moving around in this Chamber than there are in their places. I think what I am trying to do here is to restore some decorum to the Chamber right now. I think that would be my job. The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party has the floor.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the six months' hoist amendment would allow the time to reassure government employees working in liquor stores around the province and their families that this bill, Bill No. 20, is not going to impact on them, if that is the case. If that is not the case, then this government should take the next six months and explain to these individuals exactly how this bill will impact on them. It is very straightforward to me.

Mr. Speaker, also with amending the Liquor Control Act, under Bill No. 20, pharmacies in Nova Scotia will be able to sell liquor. I suspect this amendment will allow large pharmacy chain stores to sell liquor in Nova Scotia. It won't just be your small, corner drugstore we are looking at. As you are aware, drugstores are allowed to open on Sundays, seven days a week, so selling liquor in pharmacies and allowing them to sell it seven days a week raises many concerns with Nova Scotians. Again, with this policy change, I am sure that this government would like to sit down and consult with the public before they go ahead and implement this new policy if that is what they decide.

[Page 3156]

Six months would allow for a greater public input as to whether Nova Scotians want liquor sold in drugstores in Nova Scotia. It is a fundamental question. We already went through that debate, whether or not drugstores should be allowed to sell cigarettes and tobacco products, and in the end, tobacco is not being in drugstores. So now we are looking at the possibility of selling liquor in the drugstores in Nova Scotia and furthermore, selling liquor on Sundays.

Mr. Speaker, this government has not consulted enough on Bill No. 20. The people must have a say. That is why this hoist amendment will allow the government the time to consult with the public, whether or not they approve of selling liquor in drugstores and selling liquor on Sundays, because we know drugstores are open on Sundays. Instead of pursuing the privatization plan, I think the government should have been working with management and unionized employees to improve the service that they provide Nova Scotians.

This Tory Government appears to be convinced within their restructuring plan to also privatize the government's three provincially run resorts: Keltic Lodge in Cape Breton; Liscombe Lodge in Guysborough County; and Digby Pines in Digby County. From earlier reports we know that discussions are currently underway with four companies interested in taking over management of these three resorts. Also we understand from these reports that the government's goal is to have this new plan in place this month. Looking at today, Thursday, May 10th, by the 31st the government is anticipating to have this management plan in place in order to run these three provincially run resorts.

Again, this government has an opportunity to assure the employees and their families - I understand that there are roughly 400 employees in total working at these three resorts - that no jobs will be lost, that employees' salaries will not be affected negatively, and of course, employees working at any given resort will not be transferred without their consent to another resort. Just imagine someone from Digby County, if you want to work for this company that is now looking after the management of these three provincially run resorts, you have a choice, you can either move to work at Liscombe Lodge or Keltic Lodge, but the company may not be able to offer that employee work at the Digby Pines. That is a real concern. This amendment will give the government time to reflect on this new deal by the end of the month before government decides to go forward with this plan.

Mr. Speaker, again we can understand why there is a need. As the president of the NSGEU indicated earlier to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and probably to all members of the government, the need for this government to sit down with the NSGEU, the NSGEU executive that represents well over 21,000 government employees, these 400 employees will be affected if this management plan does go through at the end of the month. So what type of assurance is this government going to provide these employees working at these resorts about the future of their jobs?

[Page 3157]

Again, there is an opportunity for the government to take the opportunity to sit down with these individuals at Digby Pines, at Keltic Lodge, and at Liscombe Lodge to make sure, to reassure them that under this new managed plan their job, their salaries will not be affected. I think it is critical because these employees have questions and this government has an opportunity, and the Minister of Tourism and Culture could certainly take some time in the next six months and drop by these three resorts and sit down with these government employees and answer their questions directly, to make sure that they are reassured about what to expect under this new management plan.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have reached the moment of interruption. The subject of tonight's late debate submitted by the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should demonstrate compassion and concern for the residents of Whitney Pier by agreeing to permanently relocate those whose homes are directly affected by toxic waste without further distress and delay."

[6:00 p.m.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

WHITNEY PIER - RESIDENTS: RELOCATION - PREMIER AGREE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the time allotted to me tonight to speak about this very serious subject. In the last three weeks I believe, I counted, I asked no less than seven questions of this government on this very item. You know, the government's stonewalling efforts against these people are amazing. They go out and they tell us, oh, no, we have sent this information off to an expert, an expert in Florida. Well, it is so frustrating as an elected official from Cape Breton, and - therefore I can only imagine how demoralizing - if I am frustrated, these people from Whitney Pier have to be completely and utterly demoralized by this government.

I say that, Mr. Speaker, because you were in this House last year and there was a hue and cry because there was a beetle infestation in Point Pleasant Park in South End Halifax. So the people with their parasols and their purebred dogs, when they go prancing through that will not be offended - maybe a wayward twig will fall on their head, heaven forbid that that would ever happen to the elite of South End Halifax. The very people who built this province, who provided the structure for many of these steel-framed high-rises that we can spit on from this building, came from the hard work of the people from Whitney Pier. Yet, this government could care less about their future because they have robbed them of their

[Page 3158]

past to give the people of metro a future. We are asked to say, oh no, we'll study you again. We are like lab rats, those people to this government are no better than lab rats. We have a Premier who is a family physician. He knows the cause and effect of carcinogens. He knows by that term, carcinogen, that it causes cancer. He knows arsenic is a carcinogen, yet this same Premier, same person who purports to a Hippocratic oath of wanting to heal people, thinks, oh, no, this is fine.

Before we came to the moment of interruption, this government is offended by the democratic process when we tell them to take six months and look at this bill and see its impact. But they are the same group who find that is quite all right, oh, it is fine no you stay there and you wallow in that arsenic until we get somebody in from one of the southern states to tell us about your health. To say that is unconscionable is an understatement, yet this government is willing to allow senior citizens, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, infants to live and, if parents aren't careful, to play in that environment. Can you imagine in today's world, as parents we have a different set of worries about what our young children do today than it would be, say, in the 1950's, 1960's and probably early 1970's. There is a whole new, kind of gambit of things to worry about in the changing mores of the world and so on.

Mr. Speaker, when you were bringing children into this world, did you and your wife think - your worry was, well, is my backyard safe? - if I allow my child to go out on a swing set that I have just purchased with my hard-earned money, that they are on that swing set and they go off and start kicking the dirt around, that that very dirt is going to cause your own child to have cancer? I don't think so. I don't think there is any parent who would want to think that.

Do you know what, Mr. Speaker? That is the reality of living north of the coke ovens and indeed, I would put forward, in many other areas in and around the contaminated sites because I think as these things move out, next week the plan for Phase II will be made. Will that plan next week be made public? No, because the Minister of Transportation and Public Works says oh no, it is only prudent that we study it again.

Mr. Speaker, that is the whole reason behind doing the test. It is not for the edification of that minister and the lackeys who work around him, it is for the health and safety of those people. Good God, what would they do? That is unbelievable. Do you know what it is? It is not about health and safety, it is all about money.

Now whatever one of that lot they put up over there to speak about this, they will have some prepared text and they will read it - not understand it, but they will read it. They know nothing about the situation, they don't live it. It would be interesting if one of the people who got up to debate this today actually talked to people who live north of the coke ovens. Where were they? Their own Leader, the Premier, hunkered down in here and spoke to MLAs who he hadn't spoken to in this House since they were elected, trying to hide in here from his responsibility. I would like to say that he is hiding from his responsibility. Dr. Dementia, the

[Page 3159]

Minister of Environment and Labour, he doesn't know what is going on - whoo-ooh-ah-whoo-ah - he is in shock therapy, Mr. Speaker, when it comes to anything to do with his ministry. Then you have the kindly, old gentleman who represents TPW, who says no, no, we will test them.

Mr. Speaker, for the record I want to indicate that; these are human beings who have been good to this province. They worked hard all their lives, they have contributed to this province. You know, I realize that this province, especially this government, has not been good to those people. Well, there is a time to make things right. We can make those things right, starting here, starting today. They can move those people, they can stop studying them. They can help make the pain go away. They can't bring back the dead but they can comfort the living. They can help their children, give them a future. Don't do a response based solely on economics; you are a government, compassion has to override money. Move those people today, do the right thing. Thank you.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of the resolution from the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre. I think the member for Cape Breton Centre is absolutely correct when he says that the government is negligent in its duty to the residents of Whitney Pier and, indeed, to all those people who are affected by the tar ponds and the coke ovens.

Mr. Speaker, again, it is disappointing that the minister won't even take an opportunity to participate in this particular debate, neither the Minister of Environment and Labour, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works; all three have a very important role on this particular issue. As recently as March 23rd of this year, the Minister of Environment and Labour wrote to my colleague, the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova and also to a Mr. Gordon MacLeod, Whitney Avenue, Sydney, with their concern about how the JAG process has become bogged down with red tape, and the fact that the government is using it as a smokescreen to alleviate itself of its legal responsibility to the residents in and around there.

The letter was signed by the minister, dated March 23rd, "The role of the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour (NSDEL) is that of regulator; staff of NSDEL must review applications for approval and plans to ensure they meet the provisions of the Environment Act and the regulations . . .", thereunder. Obviously, if the minister were to go and undertake some soil samples and test the groundwater that is immediately below the surface of the contaminated site around Sydney Steel, I would be very surprised if he didn't find that that contamination has actually permeated down to the groundwater level.

The minister and his staff have an obligation to do more than just sit quietly. They also have an obligation, more so, to be very proactive. The minister, several months ago, shortly

[Page 3160]

after becoming Minister of Environment and Labour, visited the coke ovens and the tar ponds site, and he indicated to his staff that the sight and the smell in and around this contaminated site was so bad that he was speechless. He was speechless because of the sight and the smell. Unfortunately, he has been speechless ever since. He has done absolutely nothing on this particular issue, and it is very disappointing.

Mr. Speaker, the minister has a legal obligation, not just a political obligation, to certain interests in this province. Similar to what is happening in the tar ponds community, and I have to refer to it as such because these people are subjected to issues through no control that they have for resolving this, outside of coming and protesting before Province House, making continual pleas.

When we were in government, we were faced with similar decisions. Some would argue that perhaps we didn't act quickly enough; some would argue that perhaps we didn't go far enough. Mr. Speaker, at least we sent the signal out. If for no other reasons but on compassionate grounds, we gave the residents of Frederick Street that option. Similarly, with mounting evidence, I believe that the provincial government has an obligation to move on this particular issue.

One would think that the federal government would be one of the last levels of government that would jump in and say, yes, we are going to put money up, we are going to move those residents, but that is not the case. In this particular case, the federal government is saying they want to support moving those residents out of the contaminated site and the provincial government has been dragging its feet for almost two weeks on the federal government's offer. Why?

[6:15 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: They couldn't answer any questions.

MR. MACKINNON: That is right. The provincial representatives couldn't answer any questions. So, Mr. Speaker, the member for Dartmouth South (Interruption) I would gladly invite the honourable member for Dartmouth South to participate in the debate. Perhaps he may even want to take an opportunity to ask his colleague, the Minister of Environment and Labour, why he is doing absolutely nothing to protect the head waters from Grand Lake water supply and going down to the Shubenacadie watershed because of the contamination that now exists out off the Old Guysborough Road in Halifax County.

The Minister of Environment and Labour won't even send his staff to test the waters to protect the residents there. Those residents have been left to their own devices, Mr. Speaker, unlike what the minister and his government did for the residents in Meadowview, the landfill situation in Kings County. Well, what a coincidence that he can look after his own backyard, but he won't look after the needs of the people of Nova Scotia for which he

[Page 3161]

was delegated that legal responsibility. This is clearly a double standard and very unfortunate.

Mr. Speaker, we have seen, time and time again, instances where the government will violate its own laws and then hide behind some frivolous spin-doctoring. We saw that as recent as even today when the minister refused to appoint a mediator on the Halifax Regional School Board situation because he couldn't get the conditions that he wanted. Now when did the minister decide to take on the role of the negotiator? It is a far cry from the answers he has been giving in the House for the last week on this particular issue. Clearly, it demonstrates that the government, when it comes to the environment, and in particular for the residents in Whitney Pier and, heaven knows, it may very well extend beyond the parameters or the corridors that have been established. Maybe that is why the government doesn't want to accept its legal responsibility.

The action plan was laid out. I raised that with the Minister of Environment and Labour during budgets. He wasn't even aware of the federal-provincial action plan for the long-term cleanup of this particular site. This minister is, in many cases, oblivious to what is happening in his department, whether that is by design or just the fact that he doesn't understand what is going on in that department. But somebody should sit this minister down and brief him on the realities of what is happening, rather than interfering with the regulatory process that he himself claims that he is bound by law to uphold.

We saw what happened with Amherst Fabricators - this is really strange information - that when it comes to Amherst Fabricators, during the short tenure of this government and just shortly before, from 1998, 26 orders were issued against that particular company, 14 inspections and 9 were on-site visits by the inspectors. The strangest thing, Mr. Speaker, is there were zero prosecutions, despite the fact that people are being maimed and injured on the job. It is very disappointing that the residents of the Pier are being treated as second-class citizens. The minister wouldn't even take time to speak with those residents when they came to the Legislature.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honorable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: I will tell you, their silence speaks volumes on this very debate. You bring these forward for late debate and it is understanding what late debate is all about because it is something that is off from the norm. What is perplexing - and I will get back to the main germ of this debate in a second - their own member who fancies himself a columnist writes about what members do during late debate and it is pretty embarrassing that the government will not even get up and offer an iota of direction on a debate that is extremely important.

[Page 3162]

As I said in my first 10 minutes of this speech, this was a government that didn't care for these people. Myself, I have asked many questions on this and the minister taunts me by calling me an expert and he goes on and says various other things, yet, do they really understand what is going on in the day-to-day lives - or do they attempt to figure out what is going on in the day-to-day lives - of those people. We are not talking about people who are putting themselves in harm's way. We are not talking about people who are walking up and down the middle of Victoria Road in Whitney Pier trying to get hit with an automobile. No, they are people - they are Nova Scotians, that is what they are. The vast majority of Nova Scotians, all they want to do is to be someone who gives to their province, who works, lives, enjoys life, brings up a family and all the riches that come with that.

This government - because it has no use for these people, because it sees itself as only garnering 8 per cent of the vote in those areas - have deemed these people expendable. For the minister to say about Phase II, I am not going to release that right away, I am going to hold that back until my spin people have a look at it, is shameful. It is doubly shameful when the federal government puts a hand out and gets slapped away by this provincial government.

It was offensive outside of the doors of this Chamber yesterday when the member for Cape Breton North was asked by the residents, and he blamed it on the federal government. Yes, I have differences with the federal government, but when that member blamed the federal government for not acting fast enough and saying, oh, I don't know, I am from North Sydney, well, I am from New Waterford, you are from Glace Bay, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, and the member who spoke previous to me is originally from Grand Mira. I am telling you I am pretty darn sure that if the three of us were left out around Sydney River, the three of us could find our way to the tar ponds pretty darn quick and would know what is going on.

I think one of the reasons - I know myself and I don't purport to speak for the two of you - the reason I got involved with politics is because I care about my community. My community, first and foremost, obviously I worry about the people who voted for me, but it is the larger part and for someone to say, I am on the other side of the harbour, I don't know anything about the tar ponds, is either very unenlightened or has been living under a rock.

It just tells you that this government is an uncaring government that sees it as a dollars and cents issue and not a health risk issue and that is disgusting. Thank you.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Again, the issue is one of legal responsibility. The provincial government has a legal responsibility to do something for these residents. It is absolutely perplexing as to why the federal government is offering to help move those residents out of there and the provincial government doesn't.

[Page 3163]

When we were in government, we moved the residents of Frederick Street out of there. There is no logical reason, there is no legal reason, aside from the spin-doctoring by the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, waiting for another study upon another study. There is sufficient information, even the Chief Medical Officer himself said that he wouldn't live there. The Chief Medical Officer for the province indicated that he wouldn't live on that site. So how in the name of heavens would he expect the residents who are now found to be in this rather precarious position be expected to continue to live there? I mean this goes beyond just legal requirements, the basic human humanity of allowing people to live on a contaminated site that is proven to be contaminated and harmful to their health.

This reminds me, Mr. Speaker, of several years ago when the Minister of Transportation under the John Buchanan Government, the Honourable Tom MacInnis, was in this House and I remember when we were trying to keep the heavy truck traffic off Green Road and McGuire Drive, off the Grand Lake Road area, and I believe it was not until after about 12 or 13 resolutions, a near RCMP investigation, questions upon questions, and it got so bad that the minister was embarrassed into addressing that and that was not one-tenth as bad as what is happening here for the residents in the Pier. I mean it is almost like you are talking to a cold-hearted, stone-faced, self-interest government.

Mr. Speaker, they have a piece of legislation before the House here now that will restructure government, that will politicize the Workers' Compensation Board. They will go in and they will purge that $0.5 billion buildup of equity that has been put in place since we got rid of the Buchananites and there is not one stakeholder from industry or labour that supports it.

We have had the Minister of Environment and Labour make political appointments to friends of the government. There was so much nepotism to it that the political supporters of the government didn't even know that they were appointed to the board. I mean that is how bad it is. That is how nepotistic, self-centred and self-serving this government is. Yet they won't do anything when it comes to the basic humanities of protecting the health and safety of the residents. That is very disappointing.

Not since this House has opened in this session has the Minister of Environment and Labour defended one issue in a late show debate or an Opposition debate on matters affecting his department. They are keeping him so under wraps, Mr. Speaker, it would take the Man from Glad to get him out. I mean that is how insecure the government and the Premier are about this honourable minister. His own staff, by their own admission before the Resources Committee the other day, indicated that they didn't have the water results, the tests, for beneath the tar ponds site. Now, no one can tell me after this many years, under various governments, that we don't have those test results.

[Page 3164]

Mr. Speaker, again I would like to compliment the member for Cape Breton Centre for bringing this resolution forward. It is a very important resolution and it is very unfortunate that the government doesn't see fit to live up to its legal and moral obligation.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]

Bill No. 20 - Government Restructuring (2001) Act.] [Debate resumed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Leader of the Liberal Party has approximately 23 minutes left.

[6:30 p.m.]

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying before the late show this evening, this hoist amendment will give the government the next six months to explain to Nova Scotians and government employees what real impact this bill, Bill No. 20, will have on Nova Scotians. As I was saying just before the late show, government employees have real concerns with this bill. I have talked about liquor store workers; I have talked about employees working at the three government-run resorts in the province. But I want to talk about government employees who are working in other departments.

Mr. Speaker, under this restructuring piece of legislation, the Department of Human Resources will be replaced by the Public Service Commission. Again, I am sure the employees within the existing Department of Human Resources are wondering what is going to happen to them. Will their jobs, after Bill No. 20 goes through the House, still be there with the new Public Service Commission? Will these employees have to apply for these new positions within the new Public Service Commission? Again, this amendment will allow the government to meet with the NSGEU executive and their employees, and reassure them that their jobs will be safe.

Mr. Speaker, the Public Service Commission will be headed by a commissioner. I was talking with the Deputy Minister of the Department of Human Resources the other day. What is going to happen to her once this bill goes through? She still doesn't know what is going to happen. Will the Deputy Minister of the Department of Human Resources be considered for this position of Commissioner of the Public Service Commission? What kind of responsibilities will this new commissioner have? How will this new commissioner be selected?

Mr. Speaker, the government could take advantage of this amendment and let employees know what to expect under this new restructuring piece of legislation. Under the existing system, there are a number of Human Resources Corporate Services Units throughout government, to help various departments with Human Resources responsibilities. Under the new proposed structure, what will happen? What will happen to these various

[Page 3165]

Human Resources functions that are now being conducted in the various departments? Again, if these Corporate Services Units do remain in various departments and provide recommendations to the Public Service Commission, will they be accepted?

Well, if the Corporate Services Units continue to exist, at the same time you create a Public Service Commission, why would this government want to duplicate a hiring service? Is this reorganization? Does this reorganization represent the Human Resources professionals from the departments, will they have to move over to this new structure, this new Public Service Commission? Or yet, will government be adding more administration to the new Public Service Commission in order to do the same job that is currently done throughout various departments within government?

Mr. Speaker, at the end of the day will we have one minister responsible for all of the hiring within government? There is a good possibility that that could certainly be the case. Will we have more employees involved under this new process? Will this new Public Service Commission be more expensive to support than the existing system that we currently have under the Department of Human Resources?

Mr. Speaker, I am still not too clear on why this government is looking at creating the Public Service Commission.

AN HON. MEMBER: They aren't, either.

MR. GAUDET: In the government's own press release dated April 5, 2001, it talks about how the Public Service Commission will be designated to play a more significant role in collective bargaining. Well, from my past experience, the Department of Human Resources always played a significant role in collective bargaining. So, I don't see anything changing with this new structure. Maybe the minister will provide us with some details when he closes second reading on this bill at some point in time with regard to the Public Service Commission playing a more significant role in collective bargaining.

Mr. Speaker, with this restructuring piece of legislation that is before the House, Bill No. 20, we could understand why employees within the Department of Human Resources would have concerns with this bill. Is this bill going to affect them in any possible way? Is it going to affect their jobs? What does the future hold for them under the new so-called Public Service Commission? I am sure as we speak there are many government employees within that Department of Human Resources who have questions.

This hoist amendment will allow the government, will allow the minister responsible for the department, before this bill goes through, to explain to those employees exactly what will happen to them once Bill No. 20 gets passed through this Chamber. It is just a matter of time. We know that government members have a majority in this House. We know we are currently debating this hoist amendment. We know it is a question of time, what time this

[Page 3166]

bill will go through. The Opposition may help the government members decide that. Again I say that it is critical for this government to reassure employees within that department on what kind of impact this bill will have on their lives, on their jobs, once this bill is approved in the House. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, under this restructuring proposal that is before the House, the government is looking at the process of dismantling the Department of Economic Development. So on top of the employees within the Department of Human Resources we have the government employees within the Department of Economic Development who are probably wondering what is going to happen to them once this bill goes through.

Mr. Speaker, as I have said earlier, I can't recall among the 243 promises that this Tory Party made to Nova Scotians back in 1999 that they mentioned they would be dismantling the Department of Economic Development. So why were they not upfront about their intention?

Now, Mr. Speaker, this government has taken this apparatus of government, dismantled it, and have handed it over to a group of people who are not elected but are appointed by this Tory Government. This group of unelected individuals is now responsible for the funding of economic development initiatives in Nova Scotia. Here is a group of government appointees handing out taxpayers' money to individuals without the benefit of public scrutiny or accountability. So you have to ask yourself, where is the accountability built in in this Bill No. 20?

Mr. Speaker, looking at this group called the Nova Scotia Business Inc. that has been appointed to the Board of Directors, there is no one representing the Valley or the western region of the province. From the 12 individuals who were appointed to the Nova Scotia Business Inc. we have three individuals from the South Shore, we have two individuals from Lunenburg County and we have one individual from Queens County. We have no one coming from the Valley or representing the western region on this Nova Scotia Business Inc. You have to wonder why the government decided not to appoint anyone from the Valley or from the western region of the province.

Does the government have no intention to support economic development initiatives in our area of the province? I hope not. I hope that is not at all the case, Mr. Speaker. I think with the government's announcement I am sure people from our region are probably wondering why this Tory Government decided not to appoint anyone from our area. There is no one on it from the Valley, from Kings County, Hants, Kings, Annapolis, Digby to Yarmouth, no one.

Mr. Speaker, I hope with his amendment that this Tory Government will review the membership on this committee and recognize there is a need to appoint someone representing that area of the province.

[Page 3167]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Oh, I agree. That makes good sense.

MR. GAUDET: It makes good sense. My colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, agrees. I think this hoist amendment will allow the government the opportunity to review the membership on the Nova Scotia Business Inc. and recognize what area of the province is not being represented on this board. So I hope they will reconsider this omission, this shortfall, and appoint someone immediately from our area onto this board to ensure that our area will not be ignored. I encourage members on the government benches to talk to their colleague, the Minister of Economic Development, with regard to that omission, to make sure that someone from the Valley and from the western region is appointed to the Board of Directors of Nova Scotia Business Inc.

Under this Bill No. 20 that is before the House, the Small Business Development Act is repealed. So again you have to ask where is this Tory Government's commitment to small businesses in Nova Scotia? In a report presented in January by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, they indicated close to three-quarters of the businesses in Nova Scotia are small businesses and that means that they have five or less employees within their business. Over three-quarters of the businesses in Nova Scotia are small businesses. So again, I am sure that you have to recognize the important role that small businesses play throughout our province and especially in your own area, Mr. Speaker. So all the jobs that the small businesses provide Nova Scotians are very important to the economy of the province. Whether you are in a rural community in Nova Scotia or right here in downtown Halifax, these are all important jobs and government needs to continue to support this vital sector of our economy.

[6:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we know that small business is the backbone of the Nova Scotia economy and it deserves to be recognized. With this new Nova Scotia Business Inc. they certainly need to continue to pay attention to small businesses throughout the province. I hope by turning over the responsibilities to Nova Scotia Business Inc. that small businesses will still be recognized even though legislation supporting the development of small businesses in Nova Scotia is being repealed.

Mr. Speaker, the reason this bill should be hoisted is clear. This government has not consulted enough on this bill and certainly has not consulted enough with the individuals this bill is going to impact upon. A hoist gives time for this government to reflect on the implications of Bill No. 20. This Tory Government has left many government employees wondering about their future, their families, their children. If the government is serious about openness and accountability, then (Interruptions)

[Page 3168]

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the honourable Minister of Health was listening and paying attention to what I was saying. Maybe the Minister of Health will certainly take this under consideration and I hope he will convince his colleagues, he will (Interruptions)

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I am just trying to be helpful for the Minister of Health. Maybe you would like to adjourn the House for a little while and you could then go and get copies of the draft of Hansard and review Hansard and then resolve the issue; just trying to be helpful.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If anyone is calling in regard to relevance or whatever, it is always a very difficult thing to define. I think the member should always be given the benefit of the doubt.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party has the floor.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I think I had a chance to make my point. The honourable Minister of Health certainly recognizes what a golden opportunity that members on the government benches have before them with this hoist amendment. This is an opportunity that the government, the Premier, different ministers, even the government backbenchers, can take this opportunity to consult with the government employees that this bill will impact upon. There are many government employees who have serious questions in regard to the future of their jobs. Now, what is going to happen to the liquor store workers? What is going to happen to individuals working within the Department of Human Resources, within the Department of Economic Development? These individuals, they have families, they have children. This Bill No. 20 will impact on a lot of people in the Province of Nova Scotia. This government has an opportunity before them to explain to them exactly how this bill will impact upon them.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, this government will recognize this whole privatization process has brought unnecessary strain to the government employees and their families and I hope they will take the time to reflect on the implications of this bill that is before the House.

Yes, this bill will eventually pass in this Legislature.

MR. JOHN HOLM: I don't know, I don't know. Don't prejudge the backbenchers. They are getting ready for a revolt.

MR. GAUDET: Oh? There is always the opportunity I guess, as my honourable colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, would say that maybe some government members will rise and speak on this hoist amendment. So, it is an opportunity for the government members to rise and speak on this hoist amendment and they probably will. With a little bit of encouragement (Interruptions) It is a golden opportunity.

[Page 3169]

Mr. Speaker, I will take my seat and allow my colleague to resume debate on Bill No. 20. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise and speak for a few moments this evening on the motion that was introduced by one of my colleagues from the Liberal caucus, an amendment to hoist Bill No. 20 for a period of six months to give it the opportunity for some careful review and I think that time is something that we would all appreciate. The Government House Leader and the Health Minister and others would appreciate having the opportunity to maybe explain to the member for Preston exactly what this bill is all set up. It would certainly take five and a half months, let's put it that way, to go through because it is 34 pages and . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: There are no pictures.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: And there are no pictures. I know that the member for Preston, he is an eager and active MLA, constituency worker and I am sure he is getting calls in his constituency office from people asking him, what is Bill No. 20 all about . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: And who dresses you?

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: The helpful interventions from members on all sides are clearly appreciated, but I am going to have to move on and discuss in more detail the member for Preston. I know - and not to pick on him, I am not picking on him. I am just using him as an example of a government backbench member who is very active and interested and doing the best he can for his constituents. I know that when people call him and say, we understand that Bill No. 20 is - and Harry said it earlier on the political panel on CBC TV. He said that this bill is a bad bill in the way it centralizes far too much power in the hands of a few people in Cabinet and most importantly, I think, are the unelected people who are going to have so much authority as a result of Bill No. 20.

When people hear this, when Nova Scotians hear that this government, a government that ran on a plank of greater accountability, on a plank of being accountable to the people, on being democratic, on consulting and respecting Nova Scotians, suddenly are bringing in a piece of legislation which centralizes power into the hands of a few power-hungry ministers and their staff at the centre to do things without getting the regular review and consideration of the Legislature and of their members. I am sure, and I have certainly heard it, that those Nova Scotians are concerned and I think, certainly for me, I have taken the time to go through it and to hear people who are more learned than I in the law and in politics go through it, analyze it and speak about its implications.

[Page 3170]

I am sure the member for Preston and other members of the Tory backbench would appreciate that kind of information. Then they can take the six months to learn about it and to share that information with their constituents. I think that is something that the Government House Leader, the Minister of Finance and other members of the front bench would certainly be amenable to. It is a helpful suggestion and one that I think we should consider and maybe discuss a little more.

I must tell you that when I listened to the political panel a few moments ago, I was surprised to hear someone like Harry Flemming, someone who is, I think, known for being supportive of the government sort of doing what it wants to do and coming up with an idea and not getting sidetracked by an active and vigorous Opposition, that he supports the government when they want to put the pedal to the metal, when they want to put the hammer down and just get the job done. He is the first one to support the government and refer to the Opposition or refer to protestors or other dissenters as whiners and ne'er-do-wells who would never be happy no matter what the circumstance.

So to hear him say that this bill, Bill No. 20, was a power grab, it was centralizing too much power in the hands of too few people in government and it was a bad move, I thought, gee, maybe we have something here. Were the government members to know that such an esteemed political commentator as Harry Flemming thinks this is bad, then they would want to take, as we are suggesting, the six months proposed in this amendment to consider the ramifications of this bill and deal with their constituents. It is clearly something, I don't think there is any doubt about it, a piece of legislation that does have wide-ranging and fairly serious impacts.

Mr. Speaker, any piece of legislation that has the kind of degree of detail and the kind of changes that are proposed, 34 pages, something like 11 Statutes are being changed. It affects collective bargaining throughout the Public Service. It shifts power from many Cabinet members into the hands of non-elected people. It proposes and provides for the privatization of liquor sale and distribution in the Province of Nova Scotia and it provides the administrative capacity for other services in the Province of Nova Scotia to be privatized. That is what it says in this bill. That is what it allows for in the bill.

[7:00 p.m.]

In fact, you know that this legislation, Mr. Speaker, will allow the government through, I believe it is the Treasury and Policy Board, or whatever that new board is, it will allow them now to do privatizations through regulation. They don't even have to bother coming into the House to introduce legislation to allow for those kinds of serious and significant administrative and political changes. They can do it through regulation and that is scary. It is ominous and something that we should carefully review and scrutinize so that people will recognize what it is that is going to happen.

[Page 3171]

You have got a piece of legislation that proposes the kinds of things that I just talked about and you have got to ask yourself why is this government not prepared to have a more fulsome discussion? Why have they not, when they are proposing a piece of legislation that affects each and every civil servant that is employed by the Province of Nova Scotia, discussed this issue? Why have they not discussed this kind of restructuring with these employees? What is it that they are trying to hide? What is it that they are trying to get through, Mr. Speaker? Why have they not taken the tactic that they said they were going to when they were in Opposition, and when they were seeking election, which was to treat public sector workers with more respect, to consult them, to involve them in the decision-making process, to search out their expertise and to in other ways work in partnership with the employees of the Province of Nova Scotia to meet the eventual goals of all Nova Scotians? Why are they not doing that?

I think the employees of the Province of Nova Scotia, as well as all Nova Scotians, deserve that kind of an explanation and I suggest to you and I commend to all members opposite that this amendment to hoist the bill for six months provides that opportunity. There is great detail provided in this bill which I will get into over the next number of minutes that I have at my disposal to speak, but I want to talk about the political implications of this piece of legislation and suggest to you that the government is trying to centralize power the way it is in the hands of fewer ministers, a centralizing power by enabling a central body to be involved in human resources collective bargaining issues right across the public sector: the provincial government; agencies, boards and commissions; potentially school boards; the district health boards; and others.

Mr. Speaker, that decision is a very political decision and if the government decides in its wisdom, or lack thereof, that that is where they are going to go and that is a decision they have an opportunity to make, but I would suggest to you and to other members of this House, especially members opposite, that they have a responsibility when making this kind of a significant change to discuss it with Nova Scotians, to discuss it with members of this Legislature, to discuss it with the employees directly affected, to explain where they are going, why they are heading in this direction and what they hope to achieve because when it is done in silence, when the government brings a piece of legislation that has this kind of wide-ranging impact into the House, as they have, and try to jam it through like they are with hours of debate from 8:00 a.m. until midnight, I think it gives reason to pause for most Nova Scotians.

They say to themselves, why is the government heading in this direction? Why have they decided to put the hammer down? Why are they afraid of participating in reasonable and responsible and deliberate debate over a piece of legislation that has such significant impact? Why is that the case?

[Page 3172]

They come to some conclusions when they hear nothing in return. They come to such conclusions as, they are trying to do something to us, once again. Here is another government just like the Savage Liberals that brought in major changes to the Public Service through the Education Act changes, through the changes to the health care system, the establishment of regional health boards, the main health care reorganization of the tertiary health care facilities in the capital region. All of these things were done without the kind of explanation, without the kind of dialogue that people expect, and they didn't have the positive results that the government of the day said they were going to have; in fact, just the opposite.

There has been more chaos and confusion, a lack of direction in health care for example, than what was proposed. The amount of money that is being spent in health care continues to escalate, at the same time, the level of service continues to decline, in complete contrast to what it was that the Savage Liberal Government said when they brought in their new reform package in 1994 and began implementation.

People are saying, why should we believe another government who is proposing a similar kind of significant administrative reorganization? Why should we believe them, and are they not just - this is what Nova Scotians are saying, what some have said to me - trying to create more of a smokescreen to try to obfuscate the fact that they are just unable to meet the commitments that they made in 1999, that there continues to be chaos, a lack of direction in health care, problems in education, the year of the road was something that was in the Minister of Finance's head, and the writers of the political platform back in 1999, and certainly this government has not been able to attain those kinds of programs.

What is going on here is, that they are just trying to distract Nova Scotians' attention from their failings in meeting some of their very significant commitments. I would say, more importantly than that - because unfortunately Nova Scotians' expectations for government achieving its commitments are pretty low - is the fact that this is a critical time for this province. This is a very critical time for this province. We have to get hold of our finances; we have to be clear about our revenue sources; we have to ensure that we make investments in areas that have been seriously affected by financial circumstances over the past 10 to 15 years; we have to make investments so that our education system, for example, does not lag, that our children are able to be educated in a fashion, a quality of education that they are able to compete for jobs and for opportunities in this fast-changing economy.

Mr. Speaker, if we don't make those kinds of investments, if we continue to miss those opportunities to make investments, then in two years' time when this government goes for re-election, in four years' time, in six years' time, we are going to continue to be fighting the same old battles, and, frankly, the political fortunes of this government or any other Party matter to me less than does the future of Nova Scotians, the future of my daughter or of other children who are working right now to try to prepare themselves to have a life in Nova Scotia that is a good life. I think that is what we want, but if we don't pay attention, as legislators,

[Page 3173]

if this government doesn't pay attention to what it is doing then we are going to have trouble. That is my concern.

So we come to Bill No. 20 and the amendment to hoist Bill No. 20 for six months, and I say to you and I commend to other members of this House it is extremely important because of that concern I just raised that this government may be shuffling the deck, may be trying to create some activity, some noise to hide the fact that there continues to be problems in important areas like health, education, community service, road maintenance and construction in the Province of Nova Scotia, investment in economic development, the new economy in areas we need to pay attention to, otherwise we will continue to fall behind. Those are some of the reasons why I think it is important that we pay attention to this bill, Mr. Speaker, and the debate.

Now that is a bit of the politics of it. The issues relating to some of the political issues raised by this bill, there are others in terms of how we deal with liquor and privatization, and I will deal with a little more detail than that.

It was interesting earlier today, I think we heard bits and pieces of this from government members opposite who were extremely put out by the fact that members of the Opposition are debating, as thoroughly as we might, this bill, and put out as other governments have been over the years who are not able to bring in a piece of legislation and see it slide through within hours, if not days, of tabling that bill. There is nothing a government seems to dislike more than having an Opposition that is prepared to stand up and try to hold their feet to the fire, examine their bill, their legislation with a magnifying glass.

That takes time; that often takes considerable time because not only are we working here as members, with our staff, to examine legislation, to go through it, to use the vast experience of my colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, who is very learned in everything, we had that resource to draw on but we take the time to hone our debate to try to make our case to members opposite, but also to the five or six people who are watching on TV and perhaps, more importantly than all of that, we want to give people outside this House time to examine this bill, people who are going to be directly affected by it so they can go through what we are going through, so they can examine it, so they can go to resources like the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid and others out there who are learned in legislation, that they can examine it in some detail and, for the first time, think about how this bill is going to affect them in their lives, whether that be working lives or in the services they receive or otherwise. That is what we are trying to do.

[7:15 p.m.]

So I must say I chuckle at governments - and I have seen a couple of them now - who, when we debate in a fulsome way an important bill like this, they get their nose all out of joint and the House Leader, be he big or small, stands up with considerable outrage and says,

[Page 3174]

we won't have it. We are going to bring the power of our majority to bear, we are going to make sure that none of your appeals to the Rules of this House or other Parliaments in this land or across the sea are considered because we have a majority. This is our bill and we are going to get it through. So right off the bat we are going to have legislation by exhaustion, we are going to make sure that the Opposition knows who is in charge, and we think it is silly that we have so many hours for debate.

Missing the fact that - and I say missing the fact because the Government House Leader not too many years ago was sitting over here, back when the Liberals were elected in 1993, when we had to teach him what it was like to be in Opposition. He learned quickly, let me tell you, and he understood then how important it was, because in those days we were facing a very significant majority across the way and adjacent; there were 40 Liberals as opposed to 31 here . . .

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: It must have been awful . . .

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: It was awful, it was clearly awful, I say to the Minister of Justice, but ultimately it doesn't matter whether it is 31 or 40. When you have a government that wants to use its muscle to deal with legislation instead of its mind, instead of its head, then you run into this kind of situation, this kind of scenario where you have members of the Legislature basically beating their heads against the wall, trying to have debate, trying to have discussion, trying to have some kind of dialogue about the implications and the impact of a particular piece of legislation.

Now, do you know what would be helpful? The Government House Leader is chattering to himself over there, but do you know what would be helpful because I know that the Government House Leader, who sponsored this bill, I believe he did, the Chairman of Priorities and Planning, do you know what would be helpful, is if that honourable member - or other members of the Tory caucus, it doesn't even have to be the front bench - could stand in their place from time to time and try to address some of the concerns that we have raised.

I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer over here, but some of my colleagues are pretty good. I think the member for Dartmouth North is pretty sharp, the member for Cape Breton Centre doesn't miss anything (Interruptions.) Our current Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, has learned quickly and knows the Rules of this House and the debate. The point is that we have picked up some issues here, some concerns that we think are legitimate and you can't just say to us, you don't know what you are talking about. That is not fair; I think we deserve better than that as members of this House.

I say to the Government House Leader, if you disagree with us, if you see particular sections of the bill differently than we do, then why don't you stand on your feet and explain it to me; explain it to other members of my caucus. Take the time - the Government House

[Page 3175]

Leader says he did that yesterday. (Interruptions.) I read his - I don't know what he was talking about, but his speech, frankly, was cursory at best, and it did not speak, it asserted.

So what I would like to be able to do is I would like to be able to say, okay, what about the concerns raised here with respect to the centralization of power, into the hands of a smaller group in the committee that is going to be conducted in order to set some direction? What about my concerns? Explain to me, would you please, Mr. Government House Leader, why is it you are going in that direction? It is a political decision; it is the way you have decided as a government to manage the affairs of this province, to manage the affairs of government. You think it is a better way to be accountable. That is my understanding. Accountability is extremely important.

I have some problems in terms of where that can go, that power. I support the issue of accountability; I support the question of government trying to get hold of spending, understanding how spending is done, for those to say that this centralization of power means that individual department ministers suddenly aren't going to have any control over the finances. Well, they don't really have a whole lot of control over them now. The Minister of Finance, now tells the Minister of Health how much money he is going to get and how much he won't get; the same with the rest of the ministers. They set priorities in the Executive Council. That, I don't think, is going to change. I don't think that is going to change.

But what we need to make sure doesn't happen is this attempt to get a better handle - if that is what it is the government is trying to do - on administrative decisions and financial decisions and their impact, to set up a system of greater accountability. We want to make sure that that doesn't set up, what the member for Cape Breton Nova would refer to, as a small politburo of apparatchiks, people who are unelected, who sit behind the veil of being unelected and make decisions about where this government is going. We need to know what is going on. That is my concern. We need to put some controls on this whole business of centralizing power.

I would like to engage in that debate with somebody over there. I have considered that, as other members have over there, about how do you best get a handle on managing the government. (Interruption) The Minister of Health says Jeopardy is on television soon, but I am talking about jeopardy right here. I am talking about the jeopardy you are putting the people of Nova Scotia in, let alone your own government, by introducing a bill with these kinds of implications without debate. I say to you and I say to the Minister of Health, who wants to go out and watch Jeopardy, that he can do that. In fact, this six months' hoist will let him fill his boots with Jeopardy and any other game show he wants, but let me tell you he should be spending more time paying attention to what is happening in health care than worrying about what is happening on Jeopardy. That is a fairly innocent request, that we engage in some kind of dialogue.

[Page 3176]

Why is it we have gotten into this pattern in this province? Why is it that we have gotten into this pattern where the government says to the Opposition, we have to get this bill through, and they say to the Opposition, what will it take? The Opposition says, well we have concerns here, we have concerns there, maybe we will do this, maybe we will do that and what do you think? The government comes back and says, well we will do a little bit of tiddling here, a little bit of tiddling there, but we are not going to do this and that and the other thing. Then that is it, that is it. Then the government says, if you don't like it, we are going to do legislation by exhaustion, we are going to extend hours, we are going to ram it through because we have the right, the people of Nova Scotia gave us a majority government and we are just going to go ahead with it.

Why have we gotten into that pattern in the Province of Nova Scotia? Is it through laziness of government, or disrespect for the democratic process that they don't want to engage with the Opposition to try to actually work on legislation to try to make it better? I know members here recognize that this group opposite was elected to form government and to carry out what it is that they think needs to be done for the best operation of this province. We are not going to give up complete control to you without raising our concerns, without trying to bring changes.

I think you have a responsibility, I say to members opposite, to listen to our concerns and to try to work on legislation like this to try to get the changes, not to give it one quick blush, one quick review and say if you don't like that then we are going to jam it through this House. It is not good enough, it is not respectful of democracy and of the Legislature here in Nova Scotia. I think this government better consider other ways of carrying out its business. It certainly does not set a good example.

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if the honourable member would permit an introduction?

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: You bet.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development on an introduction.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for giving up his time to allow me to make an introduction. In your gallery we have Rene LeBlanc, and on a number of occasions in the last few hours they have referenced the Digby Pines . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: He's not here.

MR. BALSER: Oh, he moved? Good heavens, (Interruptions) Do it anyway. Oh, he moved around.

[Page 3177]

AN HON. MEMBER: There he is. He's in the west gallery.

MR. BALSER: Okay, in the west gallery. We will find him after a while, it is like Where's Waldo? In any event, Mr. LeBlanc is here this evening to watch the proceedings of the House and I would ask the members to give him the usual welcome. (Applause)

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: You see, that is my point about a six months' hoist. That member needs a rest, he needs a break. (Laughter) He needs a break and I would be happy to accommodate him, let me tell you.

Mr. Speaker, I have been speaking for a few minutes about the political implications of this bill, the problems that I think are inherent in heading in this direction. I want to move in the remaining time that I have to discuss a bit a few specifics about the legislation and what I think are the problems. Maybe the Government House Leader and other members opposite will get to their feet to try to share what their interpretations are of this bill and to allay my concerns.

In this legislation it refers to, as you know, the establishment of the Public Service Commission and under the Public Service Commission the definition of Public Service is extreme. Public Service can be determined, according to this provision, public service can now be determined by the government to include all public bodies, other than municipalities, that receive funding from the province, that manage the assets of the province or that are contracted to perform services for the province.

[7:30 p.m.]

What does that mean? Does that mean the Workers' Compensation Board is now going to become a line department or a line agency under the direct responsibility of a minister? Or, maybe of an assistant to a minister? Is that what is going to happen? We have been engaged in some discussion in the last number of weeks over what is happening in the Halifax Regional School Board. Under this provision, the Public Service, the government, the Minister of Education could directly insert themselves into the operation of the Halifax Regional School Board.

In particular, this pertains to collective bargaining issues and I think it is important that we discuss that right now because we have been talking about it for some weeks here in this House. There is an ugly dispute going on right now between the custodial staff and the school board over a collective agreement. As I read this bill, what it provides for is that the Halifax Regional School Board will take its direction on collective bargaining from this government, from the Public Service Commission, from that new centralized body.

[Page 3178]

I am extremely concerned about that for a couple of reasons which I will talk about in more detail, but I want to talk a little bit more about the issue at hand with the Halifax Regional School Board and that is that we have called on the Minister of Education at various times and the Minister of Environment and Labour to involve themselves in this dispute to try to help it get resolved. We believe that the parties are in an irreconcilable situation that they will not be able to achieve a resolve unless they are forced or unless they are guided or assisted or supported in some way, because their positions have become so polarized and there is so much emotion involved that it is almost impossible to see them coming to a reconciliation on their own.

We have asked the Minister of Education because of what is happening in our schools and how it is affecting the children in the schools and we have asked her to get involved. We have asked the Minister of Labour to get involved because of his authority under the Trade Union Act to try to help resolve this particular dispute.

As we have asked these questions, we have sometime gotten the smart alec rhetoric back from - in particular - the Minister of Education who says to us, the Opposition wants us to take over the operation of the school board. Of course, that is not what we are saying at all, although let me say this - and I am going to sidetrack myself a little bit and say this - I am very concerned that there is a method to this government's madness as it deals with school boards. They are trying to create the crisis conditions whereby they will have the political support to take over the operation of the school boards. We saw it happen in New Brunswick a few years ago and I can see this government heading in that direction here now. I am extremely concerned about that. We, in no way, believe that control over local education circumstances should be brought any further into central control.

That having been said, this minister and this government created the conditions which have led to this dispute, I believe, which is to not properly resource that board, to not properly resource those schools, to not properly resource the administration of education, the delivery of education in the Halifax Regional School Board to the point where the board finds itself in a situation where they have to examine other options and they have examined a few options which I absolutely and fundamentally disagree with.

One was the bus drivers where they unilaterally rolled back their benefits and the costs of their contract because of what they did with Stock Transportation, and now they have decided to take on the lowest paid workers in the Halifax Regional School Board. It is unconscionable the way that the school board responded to the direct pressures created by this Minister of Education and her government. But that having been said, the answer is not to wipe out the school board, to wipe out the semblance of more localized authority and control in favour of the minister and her hired officials - unelected, non-elected officials - them having control over that situation. That is not the direction that we think needs to be headed.

[Page 3179]

That having been said, we still maintain that the minister has responsibilities under the current Education Act to try to assist, as does the Minister of Environment and Labour, the parties through this very difficult situation and to impress upon them how important it is that they resolve this dispute at the earliest, given the disruption to the education of the students, given the deterioration of working conditions in the schools and given the fact that these workers have been out now for eight weeks without receiving any remuneration whatsoever. It is not good enough and this government has a responsibility as the ultimate payer to involve themselves to try to assist this dispute to get resolved.

So my point is the Minister of Education has said when we have criticized the school board, you know, we just want them to take over the school boards. That is not the case, but that in fact is what this provision in Bill No. 20 allows them to do, to take over the authority from the school board and other public bodies in the Province of Nova Scotia. That, Mr. Speaker, causes us some considerable concern.

Mr. Speaker, under the Public Service Act, Clause 41 proposes new Sections 17 to 17(I) of the Public Service Act. It empowers the Public Service Commission to interfere in collective bargaining in the broader public sector by giving directions which bind employers to the Public Service on issues now dealt with in collective bargaining. As I said, there are a few problems with that. The impact that this will have on those agencies in terms of those public sector bodies having to come to the employer in order to deal with those situations, I mean that is completely and utterly changing the collective bargaining relationship in the Province of Nova Scotia between bargaining units of not just the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, but other bargaining units and the Province of Nova Scotia.

I would think that if the Government of Nova Scotia wants to change and wants to alter a relationship that has been developed over decades, that they would have the respect for their employees and of those bargaining units and of the collective bargaining process to sit down with them and try to get this issue resolved, to present this whole question of greater centralization of decisions around collective bargaining and try to sort out how that best can happen.

Mr. Speaker, there are circumstances where trade unions will agree and would agree to a greater centralization of particular forms of collective bargaining, but I think we would agree that that would have to happen, if it did happen, with particular understanding and under particular controls and ensuring that, in particular, the circumstances of any particular workplace are allowed to come to bear on that central bargaining.

There was another issue I had here, Mr. Speaker, that caused me some concern. Clause 41, Section 17G (3), I believe it was. This is not the time to get into a detailed dissection of this bill. We will do that in Committee of the Whole House on Bills, believe me, but suffice it to say that I want to use some examples to highlight the specific concerns I have and why I think that we need to hoist this bill for six months to give it particular consideration. It is

[Page 3180]

the provision that requires employers in the Public Service to consult with the Public Service Commission before bargaining and prohibits these employers from entering into a collective agreement without the approval of the Public Service Commission.

My understanding, Mr. Speaker, is that the combined effect of these provisions is to replace collective bargaining with the unilateral regulation by the Public Service Commission, where the Public Service Commission gives directions in relation to collective bargaining, I would say to you, that as it relates to various Acts of this Government of the Province of Nova Scotia, the core duty on employers that the statutory duty to bargain prevents the employer from unilaterally determining the terms and conditions of employment of employees and instead provides for the mutually bargained establishment of terms and conditions of employment.

So what this bill is doing is it is drastically affecting the duty of employers with the Province of Nova Scotia and affecting that relationship. As I referred to before, the other part of this bill as it relates to collective bargaining and the relationship between the employer and its employees is the fact that the Public Service Commission, newly constituted, will now be able to achieve those kinds of results; in other words, directly asserting itself into the collective bargaining relationship of various bodies can do the same by regulation. Power to make regulations respecting standards and procedures to be followed in collective bargaining, including the content of collective agreements such as recruitment, selection, assignment, appointment and promotion of employees and compensation policies and practices.

So, Mr. Speaker, we need to look at that in more detail and we will, believe me. I haven't heard the Government House Leader or other members of the government caucus explain to me that it is a good thing that they would so dramatically involve themselves in the collective bargaining relationship with the Province of Nova Scotia, that they would so dramatically involve themselves and alter a relationship that has been developed over many decades and through many different experiences and as a result of different pieces of legislation.

I think, Mr. Speaker, that any change like this should be discussed, should be debated here in this House and certainly should be discussed and debated with the people most affected and that is the employees and the bargaining unit that represents those employees and the six months' hoist that has been proposed and that I am supporting would provide that opportunity.

[7:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of other issues here relative to the Public Service Commission that I wanted to talk about. Perhaps I will at another time. My time is running out. I wanted to briefly talk about the changes proposed under the Liquor Control Act to this

[Page 3181]

bill. We have had significant debate in this province over the past 10 years on whether the distribution and sale of alcohol would be done by the public sector or by the private sector. This government had a very extensive study commissioned which recommended that this government not head down the road of privatization. The representations have been made about the problems created through the privatization of liquor distribution and sales in other jurisdictions, the lack of control over access, the whole issue of pricing and quality, the fact that you are losing quality jobs in the Province of Nova Scotia and therefore, as I said, losing control.

Now I think the Government House Leader had something to say a second ago. He took his glasses off, he looked over at me and I saw his lips move. I am sure he has something to say that would add considerably to my understanding of this bill. Maybe he said, you are right, member for Halifax Atlantic, we are doing that, we are going to do it through the back door, we are going to make sure that the distribution and sale of liquor in this province is privatized from one end of the province to the other, that not only is it going to happen in corner stores, not only is it going to happen in all Sobeys outlets, but it is going to happen in drugstores in this province. Maybe that is where the Government House Leader wants to take this issue - flying in the face of public opinion, flying in the face of analysis that has been done by those who are directly affected by it, the Government House Leader has his own agenda.

Clearly what this bill does under the changes to the Liquor Control Act, Mr. Speaker, it makes that possibility real. Not only does it make it real, it provides that those decisions can be made by non-elected hirees of the Province of Nova Scotia, assistants to the minister, people who have been hired to carry out their responsibilities but without any accountability, people who don't come into this House, people who are not responsible. Those people will now have the authority to make changes to provide that liquor is distributed and sold in private institutional facilities throughout the Province of Nova Scotia.

I say to you that that is wrong for all the reasons I presented to this government about how we need to, on a social level, maintain control over access to liquor sales in the Province of Nova Scotia and that we need to examine all of that evidence that has been provided that says it is going to end up costing taxpayers and consumers money if this service is privatized. We need to make sure, Mr. Speaker, that provisions such as subclause 42(4) does not do what it is capable of doing here in this language, which is permitting the replacement of the whole system of government stores by agency stores. It is there in black and white.

I would certainly appreciate it if the Government House Leader or other members opposite have any other evidence or any other information to the contrary that they would take to their feet and explain to me and to members on this side and to other Nova Scotians why we shouldn't be concerned because I have seen legislation enough to know that when it is there in black and white, when it provides the opportunity, it is not there. The government met with the representatives of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union,

[Page 3182]

the Government House Leader, his favourite line was - if I can find the letter again. I didn't intend, we didn't intend, that wasn't - I don't know where the letter is now.

The Liberal Government under Savage and under MacLellan used to say the same thing when we would deal with egregious legislation in this House, when issues were brought before them they would say, well, that is not what we intended, we didn't mean for that to happen. They would say whatever they needed to say in order to get the bill through, in order to get the legislation dealt with. Once it was done, once it had received Royal Assent, then we saw what would happen, and the employees, the unions representing those employees would ultimately have to deal with the fallout caused by legislation that was not given the consideration by all members of this House, not just on this side but on the other side, was not given the kind of consideration that it was due.

Mr. Speaker, I understand my time is drawing near.

MR. SPEAKER: You have a little over one minute, you end at 7:53 p.m.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have about a minute left. Let me say I am pleased to have an opportunity to spend a few moments tonight to talk a bit about Bill No. 20. It is a very extensive piece of legislation that makes major changes not only to the administrative processes of government but, as importantly, to the relationships between employees and their employer, between Nova Scotians who receive services from the Province of Nova Scotia. I don't think this government is treating this House or is treating Nova Scotians with the kind of respect they deserve, because they are failing to discuss it. They are failing to get to their feet, they are failing to explain why it is that we should allow this bill to get through, why it is that we shouldn't be concerned about various provisions as they affect the Liquor Control Act or as it affects collective bargaining in the Public Service. I look forward to having the opportunity . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview on an introduction.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to welcome a special guest to the House tonight. In the west gallery is Patrick Larkin, a Grade 4 student at the Halifax Grammar School. He came tonight with his parents to find out more about how laws are made in this province. Patrick is in the gallery, together with his parents, Meryl Lister and Ray Larkin. I would like to ask them to rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Samson. (Interruptions) I am sorry, the honourable member for Richmond. (Interruptions) My apologies. Samsonville, yes. My apologies, it has been a long day.

[Page 3183]

The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I know my colleague, the member for Cape Breton East, has been trying to get his riding changed, but I think that might be a little presumptuous for me to get the riding of Richmond changed to the new riding of Samson. Maybe someday. (Interruption) We do have a cove named after us, there is Sampsons Cove in Richmond County. I don't think we are going to change the riding just yet.

Certainly, I also want to welcome the Larkin family here this evening to watch this debate, and recognize the importance of Bill No. 20. I noticed that the member for Halifax Atlantic, in his wrap-up comments, was talking about the lack of respect this government has shown to Nova Scotians with legislation such as Bill No. 20. Even further than that, today, I would say we saw the worst example of a lack of respect that this government has shown for this House and for members of this House with the shameful display that we saw this morning, of a government voting down notices of motion presented by the Opposition, very good notices of motion, I must say, Mr. Speaker. I am sure you know yourself it is a time-honoured tradition in this House that each member can take their place and be able to present resolutions, especially those that affect their constituencies.

I noticed my colleague for Cape Breton East, who introduced a resolution commending his Catholic Church in Glace Bay for their fundraising efforts and their commitment and the government voted that down and then I noticed how, Mr. Deputy Speaker, your own colleague, the member for Hants East, who also introduced a resolution commending veterans in his riding and the Royal Canadian Legion for having recognized veterans in his riding and once again, the government voted no on that. It was nothing short of shameful.

So in agreement with the member for Halifax Atlantic, it is not only a lack of respect for Nova Scotians, it is a lack of respect for this House. Today, when one looks at the hours, asking members to sit from the hours of 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 midnight and I am sure tomorrow we will probably be treated to the same sort of respect from the House Leader. Well, I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, I can assure you as the House Leader of our caucus has indicated on numerous occasions, they can put the hours 24 hours if want. We will continue to speak on behalf of our constituents. We will continue to raise their concerns and whether this government wants to hear it or not, it doesn't make a difference. We will still be here.

Mr. Speaker, I know the government members like to say, no one is listening. You are just wasting your time. No one is listening to what you have to say. I can tell you, in following in the footsteps of my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Nova, who himself has been elected to this Chamber for about 30 years, he suggested to me once I got elected that I should make use of local cable stations in my riding, community cable stations, and maybe do a report with them or even provide them with some video of what happens here in the House. I have taken him up on that and I am proud to say that I have the famous MLA

[Page 3184]

Report in Richmond County, which I do once every two weeks now. I think I am on my 38th episode right now.

The last time, I had gotten a clip from the House of when I was talking to the Minister of Health on the Health Estimates and talking about the situation at the Strait-Richmond Hospital. I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, if anyone thinks Nova Scotians aren't aware of what is happening in this House, I can assure you the people of Richmond County are aware of what is happening in this House.

While I was home on the weekend, on Saturday night, I attended a benefit, a supper and dance for the Richmond County Disabilities Network, which is trying to do some fundraising to allow for accessible transportation in Richmond County, something which does not exist. I can't tell you the amount of people who came up to me and said they couldn't believe the answers coming from the Minister of Health on the issue of the Strait-Richmond Hospital. They were saying how pleased they were to see that their member was continuing to represent them, to speak on their behalf and to lobby on their behalf. I can assure you that that will not change.

The six months' hoist that we are proposing on Bill No. 20 would give this government an opportunity to examine what they are doing. Further than that, Mr. Speaker, when I spoke to them, not only had they watched the MLA Report and seen the Minister of Health in action, many of them, by that time, were aware of the whole debacle of this government with the situation at the Northside General Hospital. Within 48 hours, the MLA for Cape Breton North stands in this House and blasts what a wonderful MLA he is and he is the best thing since sliced bread to ever see this province and that he was able to find a doctor himself from Halifax to go down. Ironically, the doctor had to drive by the Strait-Richmond Hospital, which has gone over 130 days, almost 140 days without emergency room physicians.

But the six months' hoist, Mr. Speaker, would give the Minister of Health an opportunity to even speak with his own officials in his department, because, in the local paper, when he was talking about the situation at the Northside General Hospital, compared to the Strait-Richmond Hospital, one of the officials in the Department of Health, Mr. Green I believe, said that to compare the Strait-Richmond Hospital to the Northside General Hospital was to compare apples and oranges. He said the Northside General Hospital was simply looking for a temporary doctor to fill in until they could get the doctors again at the emergency room, but the Strait-Richmond Hospital wanted a permanent doctor, so it is a lot different than what they were looking for.

Mr. Speaker, there is absolutely no difference. A lack of a doctor is a lack of a doctor, whether it be in Cape Breton or in Yarmouth or in Amherst or even here in Halifax. For 140 days now, the Minister of Health has yet to even send in one locum to the Strait-Richmond Hospital, not one to even come in and temporarily provide some relief to that institution.

[Page 3185]

[8:00 p.m.]

The Minister of Tourism himself, whose own riding is serviced by this hospital, and the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury both have been silent on this whole issue and people in the Strait area are starting to notice how having voted Tory in the last election was not a benefit to the Strait area, it has become a hindrance to the people of the Strait area to have voted Conservative in the last provincial election.

As I have said before, Mr. Speaker, I am quite confident that those two ridings will again return to the Liberal fold after seeing they have sent voiceless members on the government side, on the Tory side, and that they will not fall into that trap again.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 20 makes monumental and unprecedented changes to the Civil Service of this province. If anyone wonders about the gall of this Tory majority government, look at Bill No. 20 to see where they are willing to go. If they think any Nova Scotians are going to be fooled as to where they are going with the Public Service Commission and what the idea is by creating such a body, Nova Scotians are not fooled by that. They are well aware of what this government is trying to do and again, this government has a history, the Tories have a history. It is not a history of patronage; patronage is a reality. They have a history of corruption, everyone knows that. It is the idea of hiring people not because of their talents, not because of their ability but because of their Party allegiance. I would submit to you that that is a dangerous road we are going down again, by seeing that now they are going to have responsibility for the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act, the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act and the Corrections Act.

Mr. Speaker, there are two options here, they are either going to use Bill No. 20 and the Public Service Commission to hire good old Tories or, the second option, they are going to privatize these workers. Which one is it, or both? In fact, the Tory dream would be privatize, plus make sure good Tories are still getting the jobs because that way you take care of your corporate donors by allowing it to privatize yet, at the same time, you take care of your good Tory campaigner down the road, who is at the street level, by making sure they have a job. So that is the Tory dream and that is where this bill is going and no one is going to be fooled about it.

Mr. Speaker, the six months' hoist would allow the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to consult with the highway workers throughout this province. I can tell you that the highway workers are extremely concerned about where this government is going and that they are already moving down the road to privatization. Just this spring this government and this minister decided to take the mechanical workers out of the Department of Transportation and Public Works garage in Port Hawkesbury, which was servicing the Town of Port Hawkesbury, Inverness, Richmond and parts of Guysborough. They decided to take those mechanics out of there and send them to Antigonish, as a regional fleet centre, so if a plow was going to break down in Grand River, which is at least two hours away from

[Page 3186]

Antigonish, then they would either have to truck it up to Antigonish or, well, what would be the simpler thing to do than that, send it out to private industry and get them to fix the plow. It is too far to go all the way to Antigonish, why get a float and drag it to Antigonish when you can bring it to the local garage or to the local good Tory who owns a trucking company and who can do the mechanical work themselves. That is where this government was going.

Mr. Speaker, those workers in the Strait, those mechanical workers and those highway workers met with the honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury and with the Minister of Tourism and Culture. They said, will you at least put a hold on this move so we can discuss it further with the minister, we can bring our concerns, we can make our points. Instead, where did they go? Again, when I asked the minister in this House, will you give those highway workers the opportunity to at least make the presentation in front of you before implementing the April 1st date, will these workers have gotten through to the honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury and to the Minister of Tourism, the good Tories who are supposed to represent him? Well, surprise, surprise, what were they told? No, the plan is going ahead.

What did their elected representatives in the Tory Party do for them again? Silence. They didn't do anything, gave them lame excuses, were not even able to get a one month reprieve for that highway garage. That is why the six months' hoist would give this government the opportunity to revisit that decision because not only are they playing politics here, they are playing with the health and safety of the constituents of the Strait area who rely on the most important service from our highway workers to keep our roads safe, to keep them clear and to maintain them. Already, when the members of this caucus start talking about the government moving towards privatization of these essential services, it is happening before our very eyes.

We know that it is happening. Now, not only are the highway workers seeing that this is going to happen, they are now going to fall under this new Public Service Commission and that they will now decide who gets hired to work on our highways. The question is, under Bill No. 20 in the Public Service Commission, will people be hired based on competence and abilities or will they be hired once again because they are good old Tories or that they have contributed or their father contributed or their parents have contributed to the Tories. Which one is it going to be?

The Corrections Act, once again, we all know that this government has hinted in the past of going down the private route with the correctional officers throughout this province. This government has started to close jails, started to reduce the staff and, bit by bit, private services are starting to creep in to our correctional area. It is just a matter of time before this government decides to take the correctional workers and privatizes those workers also. We know that is going to happen, we are going down that road as we speak right now.

[Page 3187]

With the six months' hoist, it would give this government an opportunity to revisit those decisions. It would give the Minister of Tourism, the MLA for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury finally some time - they must be overwhelmed, they are so busy - finally a chance to be able to speak on behalf of their constituents on issues such as the Strait-Richmond Hospital, the highway workers, the situation of the roads in our area and here is another issue, I touched on it briefly the other day. I know the Minister of Tourism at the time acknowledged that what I was saying was true, that Bill No. 20 with the changes to the Department of Economic Development, is going to once again legislate the ability of this government through the Nova Scotia Business Inc. to allow an unelected body of individuals to be able to decide which companies and which organizations are going to be able to get money throughout this province.

Well, the member for Preston says we want political influence. This government has taken care of that because ironically, less than a month ago, they appointed the Chairman of this Nova Scotia Business Inc. and yesterday, the government announced that they were giving $1.6 million to Knowledge House, owned by the Chairman of Nova Scotia Business Inc. No contract and yet they are going to use our students in this province as the guinea pigs to test this new program and Knowledge House stands to gain $10 million in revenue off the backs of the students in this province.

That is where this government is going. So, how ironic. It is so interesting to hear Mr. Potter say, I can't believe I am being criticized for my volunteer services to the province. Well let me tell you if only all of our hard-working volunteers in our communities were compensated as well as Mr. Potter has been compensated, we would have a lot more volunteers in this province, rather than members standing up here and encouraging this government to put together a volunteer tax credit to help our hard-working volunteers. So that is the remuneration this government is going to be giving to volunteers, if that is the precedent, my God, I am looking forward to that, because I attended a function two weeks ago in Richmond County; 142 volunteers were recognized at that time. If only they would have gotten a portion of the compensation that particular individual received from this government.

With the six months' hoist, it would give this government a chance to revisit who they have put on Nova Scotia Business Inc. As I said before, this most important body of economic development in this province does not have any representation between New Glasgow and industrial Cape Breton. Not one member and what areas does that cover? You have Antigonish, Guysborough, Inverness, Richmond and Victoria. Five counties which I would say stand as the greatest potential for economic and industrial growth in this province, yet not one person appointed. So, again, the people in the Strait area say, wait a minute. Under this scenario, not only do we have the Minister of Tourism from Inverness, the MLA for Guysborough-Port Hawkebury, we even have the minister from Antigonish. So we have three Tories in this case - two ministers, one backbencher - and yet still no representation from the Strait area. (Interruption)

[Page 3188]

Mr. Speaker, well, let me tell you, I will put my representation of the people of Richmond County up against the member for Preston for what he has said in this House on behalf of his constituents any day. I know they will judge him the next election, on how effective he has been, speaking on their behalf in this House.

Regardless of that, it is essential that this government revisit who they have put on Nova Scotia Business Inc., which clearly falls under the purview of Bill No. 20 and where this government is going with economic development in this province. As I said before, the Minister of Tourism and Culture himself is well aware that there was a candidate from the Strait area, a leader in community economic development, a leader in small business development, who even approached the Minister of Tourism and Culture to get his blessing, which he was given. Yet, what did that gentleman get, a volunteer, a hard worker, someone dedicated to the growth of our community in the Strait area? They gave him a good reward, the Tory reward, a big slap in the face, and refused his appointment to that board.

I challenge any of those three members to stand here and say there wasn't a qualified candidate from the Strait area for Nova Scotia Business Inc., because they know very well. The Minister of Tourism and Culture, I look forward to the next time he has to meet that individual, and I hope he will have the decency to say, I am sorry. I am sorry I embarrassed you by saying that I would fight for you and that I would get you on this board, at the end, once again, I was voiceless in Cabinet, although I am a Cabinet Minister, they have me somewhere in the broom closet of the Cabinet Room, and I am unable to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the honourable member for Richmond that he is to be speaking to the hoist of Bill No. 20. I would ask him to bring his comments back to that hoist amendment, please.

The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as I stated, the six months' hoist would be an opportunity for this government to revisit where they are going with Nova Scotia Business Inc., who they have put on this board and what their plans are. As I have said before, Nova Scotia Business Inc. has moved into the field of where it is no longer going to represent small businesses in this province. The Tories have gone back to the days where they are looking for the pipe dream, the great big industry that is going to come in with 1,000 jobs or 500 jobs or 2,000 jobs, that is who Nova Scotia Business Inc. is interested in. They are not interested in the homemade Nova Scotia company that has been around for 50 or 25 or 30 years, that is looking for $10,000 to expand, or looking for $25,000 or $50,000.

Nova Scotia Business Inc., already in their first annual report, have clearly shown that they are out there for big business, $100,000 or more is what they deal with. For this government to abandon the small business in this province is an absolute disgrace, to see where this government is going. The six months' hoist would be an opportunity for this

[Page 3189]

government to revisit that decision. The Minister of Tourism and Culture himself knows, in his own riding, that it is small business that keeps his riding going, that generates that economy, not big business. They are the small businesses that are looking for the $5,000, $10,000, $25,000, even $50,000 loans and grants to be able to grow their businesses.

Mr. Speaker, yet, these Tory members, who know very well that that is the backbone of their economy, sit silent while this government moves forward on this very dangerous path. As I have said before, this would also give an opportunity, considering the vast changes that are taking place within the Civil Service of this province under Bill No. 20, hopefully, in the six months for the Minister of Health to finally decide to take charge of the situation in his department, in regard to physician recruitment, and to get a doctor at the Strait-Richmond Hospital immediately.

The six months would give him that opportunity because, ironically, you will recall last week, with the situation at the Northside General Hospital, when I challenged the minister and said he was playing politics with health care, the minister answered that it was hogwash, and it was trash talk. I would ask the minister to read the editorial in the local paper in the Strait area, The Reporter, to see exactly what their impression was of the situation. In that editorial, they said that the minister and his actions left them to agree that there was no other choice but to accept that this government was playing politics with our health care system.

Mr. Speaker, it is no longer just the member for Richmond who is saying this, it is the people of the Strait area themselves who are saying that that minister is playing politics with our health care system, and that the people at the Strait-Richmond Hospital are being punished because of politics. That is absolutely disgraceful. This six months' hoist would hopefully give that minister an opportunity to finally do the decent thing and make sure that there is a doctor sent down there immediately. Even if it is not going to be a permanent doctor, they at least send some relief in there to help the local doctors who are overworked trying to keep this hospital going without a physician.

[8:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I certainly hope that he will take that into consideration because I can tell you right now that the Strait area is fed up with this minister; they are fed up with this government. One hundred and forty days without an emergency doctor. When you consider that one of the largest employers in this province, StoraEnso in Point Tupper with 800 employees at the mill, has no emergency room opened in their immediate area, an absolute disgrace. I can assure you that if there is a death or a serious injury because of this minister's refusal to address the situation that not only I, but all members of this caucus and the people of the Strait area, will remind the minister and make sure that he knows that he will be held responsible for that unfortunate matter should it arise.

[Page 3190]

God willing it never does occur, but by keeping on going day by day without addressing this issue the risk continues to grow by the hour that some tragedy will occur and there will be no one there to address this most serious situation and the Minister of Health has absolutely no plan to address this. So, hopefully, the six months' hoist will give him an opportunity to put a plan in place and to finally take his responsibility and his job as the Minister of Health in a serious fashion.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 20 makes some very significant changes to the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, which will now become a Crown Corporation under Bill No. 20. This is the first step - I shouldn't say it is a first step because we already saw the first step when the government announced it would allow for private liquor stores in this province - this is the legislative means by which privatization will occur in the sale of liquor in this province. I remember last year representations made to me as an MLA for Richmond from the liquor store workers, people who I know throughout the community, and they are very dedicated employees, they are proud of the job they do. I can tell you when you look at the financial figures of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, they can thank the hard-working people that they have, the men and women who work for the Liquor Commission who do their best to find efficiency and to do their best to try to make sure that the whole operation is run in an efficient manner.

Mr. Speaker, what does this government say to workers who have been efficient, who have done their best to support this government, and who have given years of their lives to the service of this province? They continue to play these games and continue towards privatization of that. As I said, we first saw it with the pilot project of - what, eight or nine? - private liquor stores throughout the province. Where are they going to put them? Well, they figure let's start slowly and put them in small communities around this province but let's also make sure that we put them in communities that are isolated, small enough that we can say it doesn't make sense to build a liquor store so it would only make financial sense to give it to a private company and have them run it.

So they are very clever, you have to give them that; they are sneaky and they are very clever. If it wasn't for the efficient Opposition that we have in this province, such things might slip by without being properly noticed. That is clearly what they did, that is clearly the path they are going down. It gets even more reprehensible, more reprehensible in that now they want to allow the sale of liquor in pharmacies and in drugstores around this province.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Tourism and Culture yesterday tried to give us an excuse for it. It was a lame excuse, it was a pathetic excuse and it was a laughable excuse to hear a minister who would justify allowing the sale of liquor in our drugstores. I am proud to say that I was a member of the Liberal Government when the decision was made - and I must say with the unanimous support of all members of the House - to disallow the sale of tobacco in drugstores throughout this province. All three Parties in the House, all 52 members of the

[Page 3191]

House supported that legislation and supported the banishment of the sale of tobacco in our drugstores.

I would say that that made Nova Scotia a leader in the fight against tobacco sales in this province, and in this country, I would go so far as to say. Yet, what does this government do? It turns around and it says you can't buy smokes at the drugstore anymore, but you can pick up a six-pack and pick up a pint of rum. That is what they are saying. Imagine. I think anyone who saw the little cartoon in the paper today, I am not sure if it was The Chronicle-Herald or The Daily News, where it showed a gentleman trying to go and pick up a case of beer and pass his medical card, only to be told by the clerk, I am sorry, Medicare doesn't cover six-packs of beer. It was laughable and not only was it laughable, it was sad. It was pretty sad to see that a government would propose this through Bill No. 20. Bill No. 20 is clearly the legislative means which would allow them to remove the restriction so that you can now sell liquor in pharmacies and in drugstores throughout this province.

What next, Mr. Speaker? Where else? What more foolish things can this government come up with? I wish I could tell you. I think this is the most foolish it is going to get, but, unfortunately, as I know my NDP colleagues agree, it is going to get worse because Nova Scotians - and I think they are telling us that day by day - are pleased to know that they have an Opposition that will not bow down to this government. They will not bow down to this majority. We will go to the legislation. We will go through it clause by clause. We will ask the right questions and whether this government wishes to answer them or not, should they not wish to answer, we will continue to ask them one by one, standing in our place, taking our time and asking those questions on behalf of our constituents.

The Government House Leader, to show again an example of the respect he gives to the members of this House, he calls it ramble. Just ramble is what he says that we are getting. Mr. Speaker, clearly what we saw last Friday from the NSGEU, what we are seeing in the papers, what we are hearing from our constituents, what we are hearing from Nova Scotians makes it clear, they don't think it is just ramble in here. They see that there is an Opposition in this province which is holding this government accountable, which is finding the tricks that this government is trying to pull in this province by trying to slip through legislation and hope no one is going to notice.

Mr. Speaker, I think, if I am not mistaken, there are over 50 bills before this House as I stand in my place. I can assure you that every single one of those bills will receive the same level of scrutiny as the legislation before us here on Bill No. 20. We have made it quite clear that we are in no rush to go anywhere. It is difficult on all members to be away from their constituencies and not being able to spend the time with constituents as we would hope. But the six months' hoist would give this government, would give us each an opportunity to go back to our ridings, to speak to the people who sent us here in the first place and to seek their input on how they feel this will impact them, what changes they feel might be able to come forward. We have tried, on different legislation, for example, in Law Amendments

[Page 3192]

Committee we tried to bring changes to Bill No. 30. What happened? They were very legitimate changes and the government voted them all down and said they didn't want to hear anything of the changes being proposed here.

Mr. Speaker, I think as the member for Halifax Atlantic suggested before, the way this whole system works, this democracy, the idea is that members of the Opposition make suggestions to the government and that the government revisit some of their legislation, revisit bills, such as Bill No. 20, to see how they can make it better legislation. As much as the government would have Nova Scotians believe the Opposition is simply here to criticize and just to stand in their place and criticize, every member in the Opposition knows that that is not the case. They know that we have been sent here to try to do our best to make this province a better place, by bringing forward amendments, by bringing forward ideas. It is by bringing forward change.

At the end of the day, I think even the Minister of Justice, who serves as the Chairman of the Law Amendments Committee, would agree that the Opposition has brought forward very proactive changes. On a number of bills, I commended him by the fact that he has allowed some of those changes and rather than use his majority force, he has allowed this House to act in a democratic fashion and allowed bills to go forward in a more effective manner.

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate this government, when it comes to Bill No. 30 and Bill No. 20, they have said, no way. We will not make any changes. We are going to ram this through. We are going to push this through as quickly as we can. I would go so far as to say that they are trying to break the Opposition, hoping that they will break the Opposition and the Opposition will give up. To the Government House Leader, it is not working. It is not working and your shameful display this morning with resolutions only builds our resolve and strengthens our resolve to keep this government accountable and to make sure that we use all of our legislative means possible to try to enact change in this bill and in this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, as I have said, the six months' hoist would be a perfect opportunity. We have even tried together, supporting the Opposition; the NDP Party, we even supported their first amendment which would have sent this to the Human Resources Committee. Once again, a chance for elected members of this House to go out and directly hear from Nova Scotians, outside of this Chamber, the people who have sent us here, the people who elected us, the people who work for us, the people who believe in us and trust us. No, not interested; not interested in doing that.

Now, we have used an opportunity, again, as an Opposition, one of the legislative tools we have to once again try to reason with this government by saying, well, now, we are trying to get you to at least wait six months; review this in six months. Spend the six months and talk to the liquor store employees throughout this province, tell them exactly what your plans are, tell them where you are going; stop this game of the Tory Government, taking civil

[Page 3193]

servants in this province and continually dangling in front of them the possibility that they will be privatized and that they will no longer continue to be civil servants.

The Minister of Natural Resources did it with our conservation officers; the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations are now doing the same with our vehicle compliance officers. They stand in this House and they blame the RCMP, saying it is the RCMP who came forward with the proposal. We now know that they went out and asked the RCMP to bring forward a proposal to privatize the service of our vehicle compliance officers.

Mr. Speaker, it is for reasons like that that we continue as an Opposition to try to represent the people of our ridings, to try to represent Nova Scotians. Clearly, through the six months' hoist that we have put forward on Bill No. 20, I would say not only are we representing our constituents, but we are representing constituents from areas such as Kings North, where their MLA is quick to pen down his thoughts and to submit it to The Daily News, but unfortunately will not stand in his place here in this House to speak on behalf of his constituents, and to explain to us why he is confident that the liquor store employees, the highway workers, the civil servants in Kings North will not be adversely affected by this legislation.

If he could tell us that, it might go a long way to assist the Opposition in better understanding where this government is going because, as a result of their silence, we are left to assume and to look at past traditions by the Tories in this province as to where they are going. I think Nova Scotians do not feel that we are just going on a conspiracy theory. I think what Nova Scotians are telling us is that you caught them, and you are right. You have exposed them for where they are going. As much as they tried to hide it and slip it through, you are the ones who picked up on it and you are continuing to keep them accountable on that. We did it for Bill No. 30 and, as I said, we are doing it on Bill No. 20.

I would say again, whether it be 14 bills the House Leader wants through or 50 bills he wants through, we will do the same for each and every bill, whether it be a government bill, a private member's bill, an Opposition bill, a government member's bill, whichever one, we will do the same on each and every one of those concerns.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, one of the concerns, clearly, through our natural resources industries in this province is the move by this government to abandon both the farmers and the fishermen of this province, by combining these two departments. They are the backbone, in many ways, of our economy. Rather than say we should have a separate Department of Agriculture and a separate Department of Fisheries, we are going to merge them together, but we are going to make a Minister of Tourism and Culture, the smallest budget in government. I remember the Premier, in 1999, saying, we are committed to tourism, we are going to have tremendous numbers because we are going to have a stand-alone Department of Tourism and a full-time minister. I don't see it. The numbers aren't there.

[Page 3194]

First year we saw a decrease. The minister's numbers are extremely questionable but, needless to say, what was being presented, having a stand-alone Department of Tourism would be of a tremendous benefit to this province, I would submit, has not been the case. If the minister can sit in his place and say a 10 per cent increase makes him a hero, yet this government, on the flip side, says we are merging Fisheries and Agriculture together, it just doesn't wash. It doesn't wash at all. In fact, Labour and Environment together, having a stand-alone Department of Tourism has been a colossal failure in this province, I would submit to you, in light of saying that they were going to merge Agriculture and Fisheries, and Environment and Labour. So, we wait to see what wonderful things are going to come out of Tourism that the Tories are so convinced will happen.

[8:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, it has happened. It has given the minister an opportunity to display his talents throughout the province, talents which I know are enjoyed by Nova Scotians wherever he goes and wherever he plays and displays his talents but, at the end of the day, it is not increasing the revenues in this province or increasing the number of tourists who visit our beautiful province. Again, I would submit to you, it is time for the Premier, it is time for this government, through Bill No. 20, with a six months' hoist, to revisit the structuring of government that they are proposing.

Clearly, the fisheries sector in this province feels that the representation they are getting is a laughingstock. The agriculture sector, clearly, is not pleased with the representation they are getting. What we are seeing from the Minister of Environment and Labour is unprecedented in this House. I would say it is shameful to see. Today, I think it was the height of the insanity of this government, to see a Minister of Education say, I would like to see a mediator appointed. When asked, why isn't there one? Well, I am not responsible for appointing him. They ask why isn't there one appointed? I don't know, you will have to ask the minister. We asked the minister, why won't you appoint a mediator, and get this over with? No, I don't feel it would work.

Mr. Speaker, who is he to say it is not going to work, without giving it an opportunity to work in the first place? This is not a premature strike. We are going into the eighth week of this strike. It has been a nasty strike; there has been bitterness; there has been extreme frustration by the workers, with how they have been treated by the board. I can certainly appreciate some of those frustrations that have been conveyed to us.

Yet, again, because of the government's restructuring through Bill No. 20 and through previous attempts, we are seeing that the current structure of the Cabinet in this province is a failure, it is not working. The Minister of Tourism and Culture is not achieving his goals. The Minister of Justice is becoming a laughingstock with some of his initiatives. The Minister of Transportation and Public Works is now dubbed the minister responsible for landscaping in the Province of Nova Scotia, with references to clearing the sides of the road

[Page 3195]

for Highway No. 101. The Minister of Finance still hasn't accepted that the debt continues to go out of control. Rome is burning all around him, and he doesn't even realize it. He has the gall to stand here and say, this budget is about children. Imagine.

I hope that the children of today have an opportunity in 10, 15, 20 years to see the minister and to really say thanks to him for having put another $91 million on the debt of this province. The Minister of Economic Development, he is the minister that the Opposition sympathizes with the most. His legs have been cut right out from under him by his own Cabinet, by his own government. As I said before, it reminds of the skit on Monty Python, where you see the soldier who first gets one leg cut off and he is still fighting, then another cut off, then his arms are cut off one at a time. That is almost the Minister of Economic Developments, because week by week there is another limb being lost by him.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Although I am sure all the members in the House are enjoying the debate this evening, I would ask the honourable member to bring his comments back to the hoist amendment of Bill No. 20.

The honourable member for Richmond has the floor.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as I said, the six months' amendment would clearly give this government an opportunity to be able to review where they are going with the Cabinet structure and with the structure of the Civil Service in this province. Clearly, the Department of Health, for example, the poor Minister of Health, he is in need of assistance. We have seen him get an associate deputy minister, a deputy minister, the highest-paid deputy minister. Different ministers in this government, through this new restructuring, clearly are pleading out for help. It is a cry for help that the Opposition benches can hear so clearly, what it appears that the government benches can hear. I know right now . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Minister of Justice, on an introduction.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce, in the east gallery, the Honourable Jane Purves, Minister of Education, and Dale Madill, the Communication Director in the Speaker's Office. I would like to wish a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I don't think they are strangers to the House.

The honourable member for Richmond has the floor.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you I am a bit surprised by that, because following the Minister of Education's response to my question today and her comments towards the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, I would think the last thing any of those ministers

[Page 3196]

would do is identify where she is geographically located in this province, that they would keep it a secret. I know there are members of that union who are watching tonight who are pleased to know exactly where she is located. They know she is not on because I know that there are members of that union who are watching tonight who are pleased to know exactly where she is located because they know she is not on the floor so they are going to - now that they know where she is at, Mr. Speaker. Today, again, through Bill No. 20, and to where this government is going, today we saw another example of how the structure of this Cabinet is clearly not working and where this government is going. When you have a Minister of Education stand in her place and say, we are bringing in new education programs and say, I don't have to talk the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, I don't need their permission, I will do whatever I want and I don't need them.

Mr. Speaker, clearly that is the attitude that is ingrained in Bill No. 20, that is the attitude this government will take towards the liquor store workers throughout this province, that is the attitude this government will take for the highway workers throughout this province, that is the attitude they will take to the civil servants of this province but even worse, it is the attitude they are now taking to the people and the residents of Nova Scotia. Which is why, Mr. Speaker, as an Opposition we are doing our duty to suggest a six months' hoist, to use all of our legislative abilities to try to get this government to revisit their decision, to see exactly the error in their ways and the fact that this way they are going with legislation such as Bill No. 20 is wrong. It is not what is in the best interests of this province; it is what is in the best interests of the Tory Party here in this province.

Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, the six months' hoist might give an opportunity to members such as the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, the member for Inverness and the member for Antigonish - two Cabinet Ministers and a government backbencher - to go back to their ridings and to listen to the people and their concerns about roads, about education, about health care - no doctor at the Strait - and to finally stand in this House and to say something rather than their continual silence. That is why we cannot allow Bill No. 20 to go through right now, we will use all of our legislative means to have this government revisit that decision. Whether they like to hear what we have to say or not, we will continue to push them on that.

Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out before, one of the grave concerns is the question of what this government is doing with either the Youth Secretariat or the Department of Acadian Affairs in this province; not one mention in Bill no. 20 of where these important government departments are. The Minister of Tourism and Culture, responsible for the Youth Secretariat, we haven't heard a thing yet about the Youth Secretariat. What is he doing with that? Does it even still exist? Is there still a director there or is it like the Department of Acadian Affairs where the Minister of Finance got rid of the director and has gone nine months and after nine months decides to hire an out-of-work, unemployed Tory to be the acting director of Acadian Affairs. Clearly it is essential that this government revisit those types of decisions.

[Page 3197]

M. le Président, comme je l'ai dit à plusieurs reprises sur la loi no. 20, c'est clair que le gouvernement conservateur est en train de mettre en place la législation qui va leur permettre de mettre en place un système dans la province où qu'il peuve aller et contrôler tous les secteurs du syndicat des employés et des gens de cette province - les hommes et les femmes qui travaillent si dur pour cette province.

Au voix mime c'est comme je l'ai dit que déjà ils ont établiràa cette province son question que de mettre le département de l'agriculture et le département de pêche ensembles; ça n'a pas travaillé, ça n'a pas travaillé du tout. Parce qu'on voit les deux secteurs, on voit les fermiers de cette province qui disent qu'ils n'ont pas de voix. Comme je'lai dit j'ai était à Ottawa avant Noël, à Ottawa quand j'eux ai parlé je suis de la Nouvelle-Écosse, ils sont fait rire. Les différents personnes qui travaillaient dans le département de l'agriculture à Ottawa, parce qu'il y ont - imagine, imagine une province ou un ministre qui vient et qu'il dit, il faut plus d'argent d'Ottawa pour les fermiers de cette province et lui-même, dans cette province de la Nouvelle-Écosse à travers son budget, est en train d'éliminer toutes les services qu'il avait pour les fermiers de cette province. Mais là il dit à Ottawa qu'il veut plus d'argent.

Comme je l'ai dit, M. le Président, les employés des commissions d'alcool à travers cette province, ils se peuvent reconnaître qu'aujourd'hui la loi no. 20 est en train de mettre en place un système qui va permettre le gouvernement de prendre la vente des alcools dans cette province et le mettre dans les mains privées. Qu'est-ce qu'elles sont les mains privées qu'ils vont les mettres dedans? Mais là il les connait; ça va être les Sobeys de la Nouvelle-Écosse, ça va etre les conservateurs qui les supportent, qui eux donnent d'argent, qui va faire certaine que eux sont un peu regarde.

Ils ont déjà commencer avec leur projet qu'ils avaient de mettre neuf nouvelles commissions d'alcools à travers de la province. Mais elles ne vont pas être des commissions d'alcools traditionelles. Ça va être des nouvelles commissions - c'est ce qu'ils disent ... des endroits qui sont petits, ils ont pas beaucoup de gens. On veut permettre les différents entreprises de ces régions-là. C'est eux qui vont être responsables pour les commissions d'alcools et la vente des alcools dans ces régions.

Clairement, M. le Président, il n'y a pas de question que ce gouvernement va mettre en place un système qui va permettre les employés de la province qui travaillent à la commission d'alcools de perdre leurs emploies avec cette province et plus que ça va être mis dans les mains des gens, des entreprises privées dans cette province.

Comme je l'ai dit, nous voilà 140 jours, 140 jours sans un médecin a l'hôpital Strait-Richmond. 140 jours, M. le Président, je vous jurait aujourd'hui que ça n'a jamais été vu dans cette province, qu'un hôpital de cette province a pu aller 140 jours sans avoir un médecin. Pour un ministre de prendre sa place dans cette Maison et dire que je suis en train de faire mieux, quand qu'on voit un hôpital, la Northside General, 48 heures sans médecin

[Page 3198]

et le ministre a pu trouver un médecin d'Halifax. Le médecin d'Halifax c'est même - ben, il faut seront de North Sydney - vous savez bien, M. le Président, et vous en passez devant la porte de la Strait-Richmond. Passez devant la porte et n'en pas y arretez.

C'est clair aux gens de Richmond, même si le ministre prends sa place, quand qu'il a été questionné s'il sait de la politique de la système de la santé, il a dit

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I remind the honourable member for Richmond that he is to be speaking to the six months' hoist on Bill No. 20, (Interruptions) and not once did I hear him say the "six mois", so I would ask him to bring back his comments to the bill, please.

The honourable member for Richmond has the floor.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, if there is at any time that you feel that I am not in order when speaking in French, by all means do not hesitate.

Comme je l'ai dit, M. le Président, avec les six mois, ça donne l'occasion au Ministre de la Santé de finalement adresser la question de la manque de médecins à la Strait-Richmond. Comme je l'ai dit, la semaine passée il a dit, lui-même, quand j'ai demandé la question, est-ce qu'il y a de la politique dans le système de santé de cette province sous son ministère, il a dit c'était "hogwash". C'est-ce qu'il a dit. (Interruptions). Il n'y a pas vraiment un mot français pour bien repeter ce qu'il a dit, alors je vais le repeter en anglais ce qu'il a dit. Àce point-là j'ai dit c'est bien, s'il lui dit c'est la politique et c'est "hogwash", la "trash talk" et je pensait ça aussi qu'il a dit, j'ai dit je l'ai laissé aux gens de Richmond et les gens de la Strait de déterminer si qu'il a de la politique ou pas. Clairement aujourd'hui on l'a vu mardi dans le papier Le Reporteur, l'editorial a clairement dit qu'il y a de la politique dans le système de santé de cette province.

Alors, sous la loi no. 20, avec l'amendement qui a été mis en place ici par le chef de - notre Leader dans la Maison, le membre de Cape Breton South, qui a dit qu'il faut six mois donner l'occasion à ce gouvernement de revisiter la loi no. 20. De donner ce gouvernement l'occasion où il va avec la structure du gouvernement de cette province. Je veux vous dire que je supporte cette motion. J'ai supporté la motion du partie NPD, qui ont demandé que la loi no. 20 soit mise à un comité - le comité des ressources humaines - et que le comité aient à travers et peut communiquer avec pour voir vraiment si qu'ils supportent la loi no. 20 et la façon que ce gouvernement veut structurer le gouvernment de cette province.

Comme je vous l'ai dit avec les six mois, ça donne peut-être un occasion au ministre d'agriculture et de pêche, de finalement adresser et d'apprendre son département - spécialement . . . de pêche. Comme je vous l'ai dit, M. le Président, dans cette Maison, quand on a parlé du budget, j'ai parlé au ministre, j'ai demandé des questions, est-ce que vous savez comment crabe qu'y a était pêcher de cette province? Est-ce que vous savez

[Page 3199]

comment d'usine qui sont en train de processer du crabe de cette province? Est-ce vous savez comment de licenses qu'il y a de cette province? Aucun idée, aucun idée. J'ai demandé est-ce vous savez pour les crevette? La peche aux crevettes, avez vous une meilleur idée pour ça?

Ben là, à la fin, juste pour montrer comment il n'avait pas compris la peche j'avais jusqu'au ministre de dire qu'il supportait les . . . des pêcheurs de Richmond, de les voir pechers des crevettes dans le havre Arichat. Pêcher des crevettes dans le havre Arichat, pourrez-vous imaginer, monsieur? Il n'y a rien plus foli que ça j'ai vu dans dans mon temps dans la Maison qu'un ministre de la couronne qu'on pourrait lui dire et qu'il dirait je supporte pêcher, user des chalutiers pour pêcher des crevettes dans le havre Arichat.

Incroyable, c'est pour ça que la loi no. 20 ce donc on parle aujourd'hui, l'amendement qui on donnera six mois de revisiter leur décision sur la loi no. 20. Je pense ça va donner un raison de laisser cette chambre . . . c 'est que dans cette chambre le Ministre des Finances et toutes les autres, c'est rendu point qi'ils on a eu assez. Ils sont chauds, ils sont fatigués, ils sont frustrés, ils sont - je pense qu'ils sont . . . entendent l'Opposition quand il . . . et ont dire le mal et le tort qu'ils s'en train de faire. Alors six mois ça va donner l'occasion d'aller chez eux. Je vois que le premier ministre de la province dit que l'été c'est le temps pour un barbecue et de "watchez les Blue Jays". Ben, le voilà, je pense que six mois ça va donner l'occasion de faire ça. Pas juste avoir des barbecues eux-mêmes, mais avoir des barbecues avec les gens qui les ont élus, les gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse qui les a envoyés ici, les gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse qui nous disent, jour apres jour, qu'ils represent, qu'ils sont la voix.

Même le membre lui-même de Cape Breton North, lui-même, le membre incroyable - la meilleur chose qui est jamais arrivé à cette province. Selons son idée même, quil est le meilleur membre. Un minute c'est lui qui a trouvé un médecin pour la Northside General, la prochain journée ben, voilà, sa tête qu'avait devenue si gros, je pense c'était peut être deux pieds de large. Tout d'un coup elle était un peu plus petit la prochaine journée. Le Ministre de la Santé avait trouver quelques manières à lui faire baisser la tête un petit peu.

M. le Président, c'est clair. C'est clair que la loi no. 20 va sur le chemin que les gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse ne supportent pas. On sait que avec les six mois, ça va donner l'occasion des gens à travers de cette province, les syndicats, les employés mêmes, les jeunes de la province de vouloir expliquer à ce gouvernement, on sait qu'est-ce que vous avez l'intention de faire. Vous avez presenté la loi no. 20, vous pensiez que l'Opposition n'allaient pas s'apercevoir qu'est-ce que vous faisiez; que l'Opposition ne saurait pas quelqu'étaient vos intentions. L'Opposition ne s'apercoirait pas la structure vous étiez en train de mettre en place pour faire le changes d'avoir les services gouvernementaux privés dans cette province. Ils pensent-y en pas que l'Opposition a le savoir ca, parce que l'Opposition et ils ont dit, mais ils n'ont pas de chef permanent et parce-qu'ils n'ont pas de chef permanent ils ne sont pas . . .

[Page 3200]

Je vous dire, M. le Président, c'est très clair, à travers de la media, a travers les différents moyens de communication, les gens de cette province connaitent que cette Opposition, soit le partie NPD, soit le partie libéral de cette province, qu'ils sont en train de tiens ce gouvernement conservateur responsable aux gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse, responsable à cette maison - selon qu'on a vu ce matin. C'était un vrai honte, c'est un vrai honte de voir que le gouvernement a dit non à toutes les resolutions qui ont étés presentés par les membres de l'Opposition de cette Maison.

C'était clair que ce gouvernment, comme qu'ils ont appris si bien sous Buchanan, sous les anciens premiers ministres, les anciens membres de la couronne, l'ancien ministre dans cette province pour le partie conservateur, que c'est quand que nous avons dans l'idée de faire une loi; ce n'est pas un amendement de six mois, ce n'est pas un amendement de vouloir référer au comité des ressources humaines, il n'y a rien qui vont arreter le partie conservateur de cette province de vouloir marcher en avant avec les changes qu'ils veulent faire. Il n'y a rien qui va lui en faire un changer de course.

Vous vous rappelez vous-même, M. le Président, de la éléction de 1999, le grand livre bleu qu'ils aviaient, ça disait, John Hamm: A Clear Course. Ça disait, open and accountable government. Vous vous en rappelez ça, je sais que le membre de Dartmouth North s'en rappele bien, il y a toujours son livre au proche avec lui. M. le Président, l'en il faut se demander, où est le gouvernement ouvert et responsable que nous avons été dit que les gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse ont été dit qu'ils doivent supporter.

Le premier ministre lui-même pose une des grands raisons pourquoi il faut avoir l'amendement de six mois, c'est pour donner le premier ministre lui-même un occasion de savoir lui-même qu'est-ce qu'il y est dans la loi. Il a été demandé la question ici par notre chef, le député de Clare, mon ami. Il a été demandé lui-même si qu'il savait que sous la loi no. 20 qu'ils ont lui va permettre la vente des alcools de cette province dans les magasins à médecines. Ben, non, ça ne vait pas. Il a demandé au Ministre du Tourisme de le répond pour lui et bien essayer de le sauver, c'est que un de nos collègues a dit qu'il a vu ça et il a dit, avez vous vu le show de Batman et Robin qui a pris place aujourd'hui? Le premier ministre et le Ministre de Tourisme, c'est comme ça qu'il les ont comparé. Je vous dirait que, selon moi, que c'était un très, très bon example de Batman et Robin, cela qu'on a vu là, parce que c'est très clair que le premier ministre n'avait aucun idée de qu'est-ce qui était la loi no. 20.

Alors, pour le premier ministre lui-même, je connait que cet un homme honourable, un homme fier. Je suis certain que le premier ministre lui-même va faire certain qu'il la loi no. 20, alors quand qu'il va passer d'un bout de la province à l'autre cet été, qu'il va prendre arreter pour voir les gens avec ses barbecues, et quand qu'il va regarder les jeux les Blue Jays; qu'il va vouloir faire certain qu'il sait exactement qu'est-ce c'est qui est dans la loi no. 20.

[Page 3201]

Comme je l'ai dit, M. le Président, l'Opposition de cette province va continuer d'être responsable, soit que les heures sont 18 heures, soit qu'ils sont 20 heures, soit qu'ils soit 24 heures, l'Opposition va continuer de parler au nom des gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse, au nom des gens qui nous avons vu ici. Je suis fier de representer les gens de Richmond dans ma place dans cette je suis fier d'avoir l'occasion de me presenter aujourd'hui de parler et de parler au nom des gens de Richmond.

C'est dommage que les membres du gouvernement et les membres conservateurs ils-eux décident qu'ils ne veulent pas parler au nom de leur électeurs. Des gens comme le membre de Sackville-Beaver Bank, on n'a pas autant dire un mot . . . sur la loi no. 30, sur la loi no. 20, pas leurs membre. J'espère ce que c'est qu'il y a plusieurs gens des électeurs de sa circonscription qui vont être affecté par ça.

Malheureusement, M. le Président, je vois que l'heure est presque arrivée qu'il faudra que je prenne ma place, mais je veux vous dire que ce ne sera la dernière fois que je veux me presenter sous cette loi no. 20. Si que le gouvernement ne commence pas d'être responsable et de faire les changes nécessaires, l'Opposition va continuer d'être ici. L'Opposition va continuer à les tiens responsables, on va continuer à parler au nom des gens de la province. Je suis fier d'être membre du caucus libéral qui a parlé sur cette loi, qui continue à défendre l'interêt des gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse d'un bout de cette province a l'autre.

À la fin de la journée, M. le Président, je peux vous dire que toutes les membres du caucus libéral peuvent se tiens la tête haut et être fier à savoir qu'ils ont representer les gens de leurs regions, qu'ils ont fait tous que la qu'ils ont pu, et même que le gouvernment qu'a vouloir essayer nous casser. Vous n'allez pas nous casser, on va continuer à se battre. À la fin de la journée on pourrait être fier de cela qu'on a fait au nom des gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse, au nom de ceux qui nous ont envoyés ici et j'espère qu'à la fin de la journée que le gouvernement va finalement voir le tort qu'ils ont en train de faire et qu'ils faisent des changes nécessaires pour faire certain que notre province continue d'être le meilleur province possible dans notre pays. Merci, M. le Président.

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable member for Richmond for his very interesting debate this evening.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. It is certainly not to question anything that has been done in this Legislature in the past, but I think the last Speaker had a great chance in this Legislature to take a look at the possibility of having translation services available in this Legislature. For those of us who are unilingual to sit here during a speech such as the member has delivered right now and with other Acadian members of this Legislature that from time to time can do the exact same thing,

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

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MR. WILSON: Just on a point of order, that is all.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order but it is certainly an interesting point. I thank the honourable member for that.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I think from time to time when I break into Cape Bretonese, we will need someone to translate that. (Interruptions)

We are here tonight to talk about the hoisting of Bill No. 20. It is an interesting way of how we got here this late at night. We have been in this House now for going on almost 13 full hours today. It is interesting because the government felt that it had to use its hammer of extended hours. What we have to realize here is that in the time we have been in this House which is approximately 30 or 31 days, this government has only gotten two bills into the Law Amendments Committee. I have to ask you, is that the Opposition's fault, their inability to move their own legislation forward? They want to use this big hammer of extended hours and say, look, we need this, we need to get this through. We are in here 30 days, we have sat 30 days in this building . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Thirty-four days.

MR. CORBETT: Thirty-four day says the Wal-Mart greeter, Mr. Speaker. It must be the end of the month sale, that is how he knows it. Thirty-four days in this House which - you know what, he highlights his own government's incompetence. He has the temerity to put his foot in it, take it out and put the other foot in. Thirty-four days which is worse, 34 days, two bills into the other Chamber. If they can do two bills in 34 days, what could they do in six months?

AN HON. MEMBER: Take your time, it is a long night.

MR. CORBETT: It is a long night. Thank you. The hallmark of this government is inaction. (Interruption) The hallmark of this government is inaction. Why should it bother this government to wait six months and find out what the people of this province want? In this House yesterday I asked the Minister of Transportation and Public Works - I said, Phase II of the JAG report is due out next week, Mr. Speaker; anyway, I said that Phase II is coming out next week and I asked the Minister of Transportation and Public Works - would you give that to the families that are affected? Instead of allowing it to stay within his department and let the spin doctors look at it, let his people cut it up and dissect it? He said no, no, that is very appropriate.

[Page 3203]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber. I would ask the honourable members to take their seats or take the conversation outside please. The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre has the floor.

AN HON. MEMBER: Shift change. (Laughter)

MR. CORBETT: Shift change. Well, Mr. Speaker (Interruptions) God only knows, it does look like a scene from the Flintstones when you look over there.

Anyway, I think you do (Interruptions) When I look across that way, you do a great disservice to shift workers to say it is a change of shift because you have to actually do something. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, when you ask that minister to hand that over promptly to the citizens that would be affected, he says, oh no, I can't do that. I can't do that, you can't allow those people who may be suffering from cancer, or people who have birth defects, we can't allow those people to look at that before we sanitize it. You can live in arsenic but we have got to sanitize our reports. That is fundamentally wrong.

[9:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, then you try to take their tack on it and say, well, let's go ahead. Let's slow down and put the brakes on, as you say to us, Mr. Minister, let's do this. You are the guy who is in charge of shepherding bills through this House. You are the House Leader. Let's call it six months. Six months from now a lot of this would come through. We would be able to see what really is going on here. We would be able to see the reality of, you know, does this legislation really overstep its bounds as we, in the Opposition, are saying? I think that would be borne out, that it would be seen as overstepping its bounds.

Mr. Speaker, we see them come and we see them go, whether it is a Speaker or whether it is a minister, but this piece of legislation is going to be around for a long time. Why wouldn't this minister say, I am a man of integrity. I am a man who has been around this House for quite some time and I do indeed know the power of legislation and how it impacts on people's daily lives. So, if you could just give us six months, six easy months to look at this. This minister who is trying to shepherd this legislation through the House is, in legislative terms, no rookie. I would daresay he is one of the senior members in this whole House, either bench, in terms of how long he sat here. I think this is his fourth Premier he might have served under - Mr. Buchanan, Mr. Bacon, Mr. Cameron and Premier Hamm, as Leaders of his Party. I would think that would be accurate.

[Page 3204]

So he has the wisdom of that collective, if you will, Mr. Speaker, to realize that six months is not a heck of a long time to wait. If you can outlive a lot like that, it says a lot, and I think that he can do this. He could take this back for six months. So let's look, and six months is important because it is less than a year. It is a half a year.

We are here in the House, and today we saw some kind of press release come from the Minister of Environment and Labour. So, Mr. Speaker, the letter, or release, if you want to call it that, was talking about the lack of an appointment of a mediator. The minister, in his release, had said these words - I will have to paraphrase because I don't have the letter in front of me - that the union has said that its proposal is its final offer or its final position and the employer told him that is their final position. That is their final offer. No movement. Well, that is not an uncommon piece of information from either one of those sides in any kind of protracted labour dispute, but yet this minister took it upon himself to interpret that they can't move.

Mr. Speaker, I would say to you that the minister could take both sides down to his office and offer the services of a mediator with no preconditions, because what you have here with the style that this minister is pushing, is all you are doing is piling on to a intransigent position, an adversarial position, that neither one wants to move away in public but, as you know, with things that are done in this House, there are things done in the public eye and then there are ones where you, well, maybe we can work a deal.

As I am up here speaking, Mr. Speaker, you know, you are no doubt aware there could be deals being made in other places in this House. Those things can be done yet the minister decided to do this in public where I don't think either Party can move on this. So this is a problem.

What you are going to have, and you quite honestly may have this work stoppage go on for over six months. That is what I am saying. Can you imagine, this is a government that doesn't want to wait six months to change some legislation that is going to impact on Nova Scotians forever and a day but yet will allow hard-working Nova Scotians, who rightfully want to go to work and are due to go to work, that this government will impede their progress, Mr. Speaker.

You know we have to wonder what is in this legislation that we can't do these things because, Mr. Speaker, we talked earlier about going into extended hours today, as referred to in this House. Isn't if funny, extended hours, what we are debating here is all about time. I have an hour to speak, the House hours are going to be 16 hours, all these things. Just about everything in this House is time sensitive, right?

Mr. Speaker, I noticed one thing that really troubled me today was in notices of motion. The government is just so caught up in its own time frame that rather than being seen as a fair and equitable group of people, it vetoed good-intentioned notices of motion. Now some

[Page 3205]

could say it takes two to tango here and some could say, well, we are just throwing out a little bit of bait to see if you will grab it. Maybe, to a point, that may be accurate.

I was quite hurt there, today, when we put forward a notice of motion congratulating members of the Legion, veterans. I will tell you a story. The day my father passed away, he was over in Newfoundland, and that night in New Waterford he was earning his 45 year pin as a member of the Royal Canadian Legion. My father was a senior officer, not only in his Legion, Branch 15 in New Waterford, but also he was a Zone Commander in the Legion. I don't have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, the good work they do. Every once in a while we talk about things that are personal and hit you personally. You try not to let it bother you but we are human. That hurt me today because I thought time, it is all about time here. Our whole life is time and I think of young men who didn't come back here, who may have gone for six months, not to be flippant, but because the government was so bent on saving an hour's time that it was more important to be partisan at that time than to say, okay, do you know what? We will grab that bait because we are bigger than that. Even if what you are doing may just be trying to provoke us, you are wrong because we respect our veterans.

Mr. Speaker, it kind of rings hollow now any time someone on the government side will go up and pay homage to people who we owe this very room to. I wanted to get that on the record because we talk of all things in time. I am bothered by that but, as in most things in life, you get over it. I didn't think that was right. It was the member for Hants East who brought it forward and he said, I am quite sure without fear of contradiction, that it was not one of those tug and see what you will do type ones. This notice of motion was written up probably long before the hours of the day were even announced. Sometimes we do things and don't really understand the full consequences of it. I will leave that alone for awhile but I am glad I had the chance to put that on the record.

Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the member for Timberlea-Prospect, asked many questions about the condition of our roads. In the infamous blue book this government called this the year of the roads. Six months would almost, if you take it today, it would take us to the end of the road construction period. It would take us into almost, yes, early November, wouldn't it? I would suspect, not being a road warrior, like yourself, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but having driven many miles between New Waterford and Halifax in the last few years, that is the end of the construction season. By and large it is over then. You may get a little bit of work in, but it is an accepted principle that it is over by that time.

So we would be able to see what the impact would be of this legislation, Bill No. 20, if we hoisted it for six months, to see what it would do, to see how it would centralize power, Mr. Speaker. That would be a very interesting way to do it. One, it is something about pavement, it is something real. People see that, right. When you increase benefits to a certain part of society, if it was loosening up of student loans or increasing benefits for somebody, not the large percentage of the province see that. By and large the population does not see it, but if you do something with road construction by the mere facts, the travelling aspect of

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it, people see it. People see road construction and it is the strangest thing. Everyone wants their road paved, but as soon as they start construction on the road, everyone gets mad because it is holding up traffic but, you know, short-term pain for long-term gain I guess, but that would give us six months to see what is really going on.

Is the ministry we are creating here, Mr. Speaker, are they playing peekaboo with legislation? Is it hide-and-go-seek? Is it stick your head around the corner and see what is going on? Do you know what, as I look at the Minister of Tourism and I think what is going to happen, you know, his senior minister says this legislation, which is Bill No. 20, impacts greatly on the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission. It deals quite extensively with that and whether it is selling alcohol in drugstores, I really don't think that is the case of this bill. As bad as this group is, I don't think that is what it is about but, you know what is interesting, when I see them, when they have a family physician as a Leader, as a Premier, I am reminded of prohibition and during prohibition one way you could access alcohol-based drinks was through drugstores with a prescription from your doctor. Now, that was the way to go.

So is the good Premier having déjà vu? I don't know, Mr. Speaker. Maybe six months time would do that, but what we have here in all honesty about the liquor stores and - you know, I will be quite candid with you - my position on agency stores is there should not be any. They should be all fully owned, operated and managed by the provincial government. I have no problem putting that on record whatsoever, whether it is on the floor or at sidebar, I have no problem with that.

[9:15 p.m.]

But, Mr. Speaker, what we did talk about was, if you remember the report that was done for the provincial government on privatization of liquor outlets, selling alcohol, there was a couple of recommendations. I think, by and large, the government, not wanting to dive into the water, wanted to stick its toe in the water. What that government did was talk about so many agency stores in what they would describe as underserved areas. If it has to be, it has to be. They have the majority. I want to go back on record saying that I am against agency stores. If it is done in an open and transparent way, that I can live with but I believe there will be loss of revenue to the province overall.

What really bothers me is in this bill there is no fence put around the number of agency stores. In this bill it is left wide open. Where do we go? Do we say there is a liquor store in the Town of New Waterford and then we go to a little corner store in Scotchtown, and we are going to give them one? Is that really an underserved area? Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, you may know the area a bit from your old intermediate hockey days, you used to go the Stag and Doe after a game to be with your friends, and it wouldn't be far from there. That is not an underserved area.

[Page 3207]

Why won't the government put that fence around and say, look, these are the underserved areas, and that is it? The bill doesn't do that. The bill leaves it wide open. While I have nothing but the utmost respect for the honesty and integrity of this minister, we don't know what rapscallion may come behind him, and maybe would not have the intestinal - it could be a lowlife, someone like myself.

Mr. Speaker, I fear for his future. Do we see a liquor store in Port Hood; do we see one in Rocky Ridge? Then after that, do we put one out in Troy. Is there one in Troy? There is one in Mabou. These are all kind of tongue-in-check, but the reality is it is one of the large holes in this bill. This government is opening it wide open. They are saying, no, no, we said 9 or 11 agency stores, whatever the number was; 8 agency stores the minister says. Put it in the bill, close it down at eight, then that is it.

This whole idea of these agency stores to start with, is there any guarantee you are actually, from a purely profit perspective, going to sell more? If you just looked at the baseline of profit, I am sure that some people (Interruptions) I hear say the minister say 1 per cent, but that is a projection and the minister knows that. That projection, you can't take that to the bank, it is a projection. What happens, would those numbers still be reflective if there weren't those agency stores? That is from the pure profit perspective. We need at least six months to study that.

Mr. Speaker, before this legislation came forward, I didn't see anybody having to lock the front gates here to stop these people from Iona or Whycocomagh from coming in and tearing the gates down saying we need an agency liquor store. I never saw them outside protesting. They weren't tearing the gates down. Again, if the market was there, build them a store. Do you know what you do, and this is a marvellous thing, you would be paying union wages, which are good wages, to people in this province. Is the government speaking in terms of, if I give you an agency store, I am going to have to tell you that your wage levels and your benefit package is here? No. What happens if you have an agency store, does that preclude a minor from working in that convenience store? We would know that in six months.

Mr. Speaker, we know, in agency stores, we know in convenience stores, who works in these stores in the evenings, by and large, are young people looking for a few bucks to get through university or school. So we are doing two things with that and both are equally fearful for me. One is that we have to look from a theft prospective because, by and large, it is a commodity that does retail well in the underground sector. You could do all right from that. Do you open up these areas if they are not secure enough?

We have seen, throughout this province, Mr. Speaker, armed robberies and you will see cigarettes being stolen because it is the main commodity. You go in a convenience store now that has cigarettes for sale and I believe it is the wholesalers themselves who provide stores with a rack that will cover the cigarettes because they realize if there is an armed

[Page 3208]

robbery there or an intrusion, that is what they go after because they have a very large marketability on the underground market. So in six months, we could look at the security aspect.

The other aspect, Mr. Speaker, is if these young people are working there, the pressure they are under to see if their buddies come in. They are driving around a bit and say, young little Brookie is working in the store tonight. Let's go down. He's a pal of mine. He'll give me a six-pack and he won't ask me for an ID. So that is a problem. But where is the legislation at? That is all very silent. You talk to the employees of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission and they will tell you about training. They will tell you about how they are ever vigilant in seeking IDs from people who look and appear underage, people that look or maybe are under the influence, they won't sell it to. There are all these things. All is gone for naught.

So let's go look at the other side of it, about the straight-out wages again, Mr. Speaker, because we pay, thank goodness, for the Trade Union Act, which I will get into later which, I would say, is thrown out the window with this bill, which I ought to save for later because if I got into it now, I would just make it too emphatic and lose my cool on it. These are people in small communities and working in the liquor store is a pretty good job. You have someone who makes $15 or so an hour plus benefits and then you have all these things compounding. So it makes that a valued job in your community. In rural Nova Scotia, excuse me, but there ain't a whole lot of $16, $17, $18 an hour jobs with benefits.

Mr. Speaker, there are two things that go with that, too. It gives you a person who has the desire for that job and plus when you are paying a living wage, the whole idea of your stock going missing is almost brought down to zero. You have a good control, a good handle on your stock. If you just throw it in a little convenience store on the corner of the road in a community, let's look at Iona for instance, put it in Iona, it is in the corner of the small store, where your nearest RCMP detachment is in Baddeck. When you talk to these people, they already tell you they are worried about response times, but what you are willing to do is you are willing to take what people around North America will tell you is a commodity that entices smuggling, entices armed robberies, yet you are willing to say, that is okay, don't worry, we will let a 17 year old young Grade 11 student mind the store. You are in that store, you have no protection - maybe, just maybe, you might have a video camera for surveillance, but that is it. So, someone comes into the village of Iona, rips that store off and is gone and we are the less for it.

That is some of my words on the liquor store aspect. Just as serious, Mr. Speaker, is how this government just takes the Trade Union Act and throws it out the window. I think it is extremely important that this government takes six months to ponder that. You know, whether it is the former Savage Government or this one, for some strange reason they believe the way to a balanced budget is on the backs of the Civil Service. That seems to be - if we could only get them down to $2.00 an hour, this thing would be alright. We could balance

[Page 3209]

the books. It is not ever a matter of valuing their contributions as employees. Time and time they will get up in this House and talk of cheap platitudes, about the employees of this department, or that department is doing a fine job. The one huge thing this bill, it overrides the Trade Union Act because it gives the minister, through the Public Service Commission, the ability to set rates at the bargaining table. It gets rid of collective bargaining for all intents and purposes.

I say that because it allows - and not just what we are doing here, we are not just talking about direct civil servants. We are not talking, in particular, this government dealing with Nova Scotia Government Employees Union. I believe that this bill stretches out to the point where it interferes with the Nurses' Union and its relationship with the hospitals, any employees of any of the DHAs. It will impact directly on collective bargaining with the school boards, it will interfere in collective bargaining with the NSGEU, and the minister knows this. It is not something that the minister says, oh no, I am not aware of that. The minister feels that it is there and not only is it his right to do this. It is his intent to do this. To interfere with the collective bargaining process. So, what the minister wants to say to all these various and sundry groups is we have realized the value of your work is worth a 2 per cent raise this year and that is it.

No talk about the ability to pay, no talk about what job functions have just moved around, what real impact the economy is having on what you are doing. It would be like, for instance, in today's marketplace if we went and negotiated with the nurses and didn't take into effect that what is going on in the marketplace in the nursing industry, Mr. Speaker, because within that industry - it is not like 10 or 15 years ago when small regional hospitals negotiated with a group of nurses, 20 or 25 strong, maybe even as high as 100 plus at larger ones - what you are dealing with now is a more transient workforce, a workforce that I would probably better describe as more mobile. That workforce sits down and the wages aren't just impacted on what I can get in Glace Bay as compared to what they are paying in New Waterford, or what they are paying New Waterford compared to North Sydney.

[9:30 p.m.]

No, Mr. Speaker. What those marketplaces are doing now, those various RNs and LPNs look at where the industry norms are and what we are negotiating for now with various people in the health industry is what are they making in Alberta? What are they making in Ontario? What are they making in British Columbia? That is where we have to start the benchmark, but what that minister wants to do is put a blinder in everything and say, oh no, we are just dealing with cozy old little old, Nova Scotia. My job and your job is not impacted by market forces outside. Over to the Tantramar Marsh, it ends there.

Mr. Speaker, that is wrong because that is why we are losing nurses and teachers by the bucket loads here because of the lack of vision of governments like this. Now we are to leave the bargaining process in the hands of one ministry and we don't know what that

[Page 3210]

ministry is going to be and it doesn't matter, good, bad, or indifferent, it is not the right thing. What we have to do is believe in collective bargaining because collective bargaining will always find its high-watermark.

We have seen this government's inability to get involved with real and substantive issues when it comes to workers. You look around this province, Mr. Speaker, and you see the home care workers in Lunenburg are out; you see the custodial workers at the Halifax Regional School Board, represented by the Nova Scotia Union of Public Employees, they are on the picket line; we just went through two fairly long strikes in the Pictou County area; we have a strike going on now in Canning at the chicken processing co-operative; and we have daycare workers out in Cape Breton. The overriding thing in all these is that there is a government hand in most of these.

If the government delves any further and puts its stamp on it, Mr. Speaker, it becomes hard. If the government puts its hand in and says, okay, it is a 1 per cent raise and that is it, well down in the southern part of the province with the home care workers, it is a problem with them being so much farther behind than everybody else. So if we take a one-size-fits-all attitude, no one will ever catch up. This government, forever and a day, will keep these people down. You know what is interesting? This government, in particular, is one that sees itself as we shouldn't intrude in the marketplace.

They really want to put a clamp on working people, Mr. Speaker. So that is a problem and that creates, as I often said in this House, a large imbalance for people in this province. What you are going to do is you are setting up truly a class system. That is the danger of Bill No. 20 and if we were to hold this back for six months and hoist it, we could go out and we could talk to these people because people in this province want fairness. Yet what this government will do is they will intrude in ways never heard of before in the collective bargaining process, but allow the other end to go unfettered. It is like introducing wage and price controls, but just wage controls. Don't they realize that by impeding the right of workers to negotiate a fair and equitable rate for their labours, it is wrong.

If this government went and said to a supplier that I don't care what your market value is, we are going to go in, we need 50 new pick-up trucks for T&PW and we don't care what the market value of a truck is, but we are going to go in to your lot tomorrow and take 50 trucks off and pay you $10,000 for them, Mr. Speaker, they would be screaming to the high heavens how can a government do this; what gives them the right to come in and tell me that is what my trucks are worth? How can you do that? How can you come in and tell me that?

Do you know what, Mr. Speaker, they would be right. They would be absolutely right. The government has no right to do that, but on the other side, they feel they have every right to come in and say here is what your labours are worth, no more, no matter if we have so much money in the coffers that we have to hide it under mattresses, we are the sole interpreters of what you should make, oblivious to the wide marketplace.

[Page 3211]

Now, Mr. Speaker, you are a wise fellow. Do you believe that is right? Do you believe that it is right to encumber one side and not the other? So what you have again, as I say, wage controls without price controls and that is not right. Neither one is fair, but you have really tilted in a way. What is this Bill No. 20 going to do to our health care system because, again, it intrudes in such a way by setting out a budget, is it going to be even worthwhile to have CEOs in our DHAs? Has it become just a complete sham? Do we have such a top-down government to this all-encompassing power? Do we have a minister who calls them up and says, okay, we don't care what your needs are, we don't care about the statistics in the area, we are sending you down x amount of dollars, that is it, that is your budget?

The whole purpose we were told in the creation of the DHAs was to get the power out of one centralized location which, you know, Mr. Speaker, while I am not a big fan of the DHAs, I agree with anything that is not top-heavy or is not centred here in Halifax, but I think that the minister wants to use words like creates an internal infrastructure to monitor our spending through departments or third party agencies, boards and other organizations. So what are those other boards and organizations? This bill, nor the minister, is explicit on that. They talk about what-if's, but Mr. Speaker, not having been in this House nearly as long as you, I realize also though I wouldn't sign a blank cheque for any government. That is pretty well what this bill is ending up being. I want to quote something to the minister too, "This doesn't mean that everything will be controlled from the centre of government agencies and departments will have a significant role and a well-defined responsibilities, to develop and implement policies and budgets.".

What comfort does that give you, long in platitude, but short on substance. Instead of government doublespeak, why isn't this government coming up and saying, this is what we are going to do. This is the same minister who was telling people, no, no, you misinterpret this bill. All this bill is doing is reaffirming what we have already done with government departments.

But, it is not. It is - as the minister would say himself - we are replacing the old commissions model with a corporate model. A cold-hearted, no soul, corporate model that does not see the effects it has on its people, but just the effects it has on the bottom line. There is a bottom line with government. If we had six months, we could see that much easier. The bottom line in government should not be dollars, it should be people. That is the bottom line in government, people.

In my short time in the House - when the largest bills I have seen for impact purposes in my three years in this House. When I first came to this House in 1998, it was during a minority government, but the one thing I realized is that tenuous position, but I also realized the overall plurality each Party gains. Since that, in the 1999 election, the graphics haven't changed much. If you want to talk about the totality of Nova Scotians, while the government clearly has a majority of seats in this House, it did not come anywhere near getting the majority of Nova Scotians to vote for them, so the electorial system that we have, you win

[Page 3212]

and I don't disagree with that and that is one of the fundamentals of government as we know it in this province.

On the other side, one has to listen to Nova Scotians when you say - two out of every three people in this province didn't vote for us. This is not what Nova Scotians voted - Nova Scotians are much fairer than this. Nova Scotians are people in rural areas and in urban areas that help their neighbours. This is not a bill about helping fellow Nova Scotians, this is a bill about helping a government to consolidate power under a few offices. It is about a government that preaches about being small.

I believe they are small-minded and they may have a small Cabinet, but they have a large hand in it. They have their hand in an area where it doesn't belong. They have it, they use the big hand whether it is in - and I look over at the Minister of Community Services - whether it is in the new Community Services budget, whether it is roads, whether it is finance, they do intrude in a much larger way than they ever told Nova Scotians in the summer of 1999.

[9:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, this government has to realize that is not what Nova Scotians voted for. Nova Scotians didn't vote for a government that said, we are going to consolidate power with a couple of ministries, that we are going to inhibit the collective bargaining rights of many Nova Scotians. We are not going to vote for a government that is going to put privately-run liquor stores in rural communities, with no parameters around them, no security guidelines, nothing like that. There is nothing in this bill that talks about security; there is nothing in this bill that talks about revenue and where it is coming from and how much we are going to lose.

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, give us six months and it will give us time to look at that. The Minister of Tourism and Culture, whose bailiwick the Liquor Commission falls under, says that they will get a 1 per cent increase. Even with that 1 per cent increase, we are not getting that, that is profit at the wholesale level not the retail level. I would submit to you that that assumption is wrong, that if we were to go in and put stores in stand-alone areas, in Whycocomagh or Iona or Parrsboro, wherever they may happen to go, this would make for a much more reasonable and sane way. Why would you want to mess with something that has worked all these years? It works very well.

I guess it makes you wonder, are we going to go back to the days when the government changes hands, that the liquor store is emptied and they bring in new employees, that everybody is taken off a dump truck in the Department of Highways and they bring in new snowplow operators and all that. Some good people will smile and say, that is the good old days. That wasn't the good old days. It was patronage at its ugliest, it didn't work then and it certainly won't work today.

[Page 3213]

What you want with people who are providing services, you want to know that they are there, not because they are politically connected but that they are trained; that the public safety is first and foremost, not that they were ward captain for some ne'er-do-well MLA. We want people who operate our equipment to be trained, and to be there because they are competent. We want people, if alcohol is a controlled substance, to be trained to do the security around the buildings, to understand that young teenagers aren't coming in and being served, that people who are under the influence of alcohol aren't being served.

Mr. Speaker, let's use Iona as an example. I want to go back there for another reason, around public security. I mentioned this before. It is a rural community. What do they do? The nearest RCMP office is probably Baddeck. So what is next? Do we now say, okay, Iona is not big enough for a stand-alone RCMP detachment, so what we will do is we will contract out to a security firm, we will contract out to Burns Security or Pinkertons or one of those, and now they are going to be responsible for patrolling the road and investigating criminal activities in these areas. Is that the idea now? We have become too small.

Mr. Speaker, we have seen this attitude already, with gas distribution. Rather than go out and do a model based on electrical generation where all the province had to be served, we took a very insular approach and said, only if you have large pockets of population will you get served by natural gas. As it is, we are not getting served in Cape Breton. We all know one of the biggest scams ever to be purported on Cape Bretoners is gas distribution in and around industrial Cape Breton within the next six years. I think if you give us six months, we will prove that is not going to happen.

Mr. Speaker, everyone knows the pipeline capacity isn't going to take that past the fractionation plant in Point Tupper. Anybody who has a heartbeat knows that. All they have to do is look at the size of the plant, and they know, through Sable gas we are not getting it. Yet, we look all across this land, and see that. My I ask how much time is left?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has approximately three minutes.

MR. CORBETT: There are many things we could do. There we go. There we go, Mr. Speaker, the charity case from Yarmouth, this government's personal charity case.

I did figure that out on my own, Mr. Speaker, but with the capable aid of you, if I didn't have the visual aids from you I would still be counting fingers and toes. Before I take my place I want to say that six months is not a heck of a long time for us to look at this. This government is just forcing everything. They are squeezing time and they are just not being responsive to Nova Scotians. This is not what Nova Scotians voted for. It wasn't in the blue book. It would be fundamentaly untrue for your Premier to say that this is what he campaigned on in 1999.

[Page 3214]

We have a problem with this. We have a problem that Nova Scotians didn't elect a government on this promise and, as I told you, it is more than fair to say that a vast many Nova Scotians didn't vote for the Tories on their original promises let alone their made-up promises. So we have a problem with that. I think this government should seriously sit down and take six months to reconsider it.

Mr. Speaker, as I am ready to take my place I would like to make a motion to adjourn debate, and I call for a recorded vote.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate.

Is it agreed?

A recorded vote has been called for.

Ring the bells. Call in the members.

[9:52 a.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

A recorded vote has been called on the motion to adjourn debate on Bill No. 20.

Order, please. The honourable member came in during the announcement (Interruptions) Order, please.

A recorded vote has been called on the motion to adjourn the debate on Bill No. 20.

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[10:53 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Rodney MacDonald

Mr. Christie

Mr. Russell

Mr. LeBlanc

Mr. Balser

Mr. Parent

Ms. McGrath

[Page 3215]

Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Olive

Mr. Morse

Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Taylor

Mr. Langille

Mr. Chataway

Mr. Clarke

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Carey

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. Hurlburt

Mr. Corbett

Mr. Holm

Mr. Manning MacDonald

Mr. Downe

Dr. Smith

Mr. MacAskill

Mr. Wilson

Mr. Boudreau

Mr. MacKinnon

Mr. Pye

THE CLERK: All those present voting in favour. None opposed.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 8:00 a.m. We will sit until 12:00 p.m., or in the event that we finish Bill No. 20 we would adjourn earlier. The order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading, and we will continue with Bill No. 20.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn until 8:00 a.m., until 12:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3216]

The House is adjourned until 8:00 a.m.

[The House rose at 10:57 p.m.]

[Page 3217]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1055

By: Hon. Ernest Fage (Minister of Natural Resources)

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

Whereas today, May 10th, is designated as Arbour Day, the one day each year that countries throughout the world dedicate to tree planting; and

Whereas the intent of Arbour Day is to focus all efforts on conservation and the vital importance of ensuring a forest resource for future generations; and

Whereas schools, groups and organizations are participating in Arbour Day planting ceremonies throughout Nova Scotia, helping to conserve this important resource and relay the message that every person has a role to play;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House encourage all Nova Scotians to participate in Arbour Day events throughout this province as every contribution helps to ensure a forest resource for the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 1056

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas the Downtown Dartmouth Development Corporation, Community Groups and the Waterfront Development Corporation continue to work toward the revitalization of downtown Dartmouth; and

Whereas these organizations work very hard to advance the interests of the citizens of Dartmouth and the initiatives of the private sector; and

Whereas three departments of the federal government currently play an important part in the vitality of Dartmouth's downtown by occupying considerable office space and employing large numbers of employees in the heart of the city;

[Page 3218]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House urge the federal government to continue its indispensable role as a major employer in Dartmouth's downtown and encourage it to retain a presence in the area for the well-being of the downtown business community.

RESOLUTION NO. 1057

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas theatre and the arts enrich and diversify our communities; and

Whereas Two Planks and a Passion Theatre recently bought a farm near Canning where they plan to establish the Maritime Centre for the Arts; and

Whereas the Maritime Centre for the Arts will be a multimillion dollar, multi-disciplinary centre that would attract students and tourists to the area;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Ken Schwartz and Chris O'Neill and all those involved with Two Planks and a Passion Theatre on their recent purchase and wish them well as they develop a world-class arts centre in Kings County.

RESOLUTION NO. 1058

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas members of the Pictou Area Girl Guides have successfully completed the Red Cross First Aid course and learned basic first aid and life-saving CPR skills; and

Whereas the Girl Guides' promise to do their best and to help others is their main motivation; and

Whereas preparing themselves for possible emergencies enhances the Girl Guides' service to others and develops their individual initiative and self-confidence;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend these Girl Guides and applaud the Pictou area Girl Guide organization for enriching girls' lives and contributing to their dependability and preparedness for life.

[Page 3219]

RESOLUTION NO. 1059

By: Mrs. Muriel Baillie (Pictou West)

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

Whereas the Royal Canadian Legion's Call to Remembrance Provincial Competition will be held May 10th and May 11th; and

Whereas West Pictou Consolidated School students Marc Wood, Andrew Gould, Ryan Geldart and Gabe MacMaster defeated River John and New Glasgow teams to represent Pictou County in this event; and

Whereas Pictou Legion Branch 16 and Legion President Sonny Hebert look forward to their fine effort; and

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the winning team members and wish them all the best as they take part in the provincial Call to Remembrance debates.

RESOLUTION NO. 1060

By: Hon. Ernest Fage (Minister of Natural Resources)

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

Whereas the Town of Amherst had good reason to celebrate as it honoured its many local volunteers at the 2001 Town of Amherst Volunteer Reception; and

Whereas the town recognized the incredible value of the contributions of these volunteers who are the cornerstones of Amherst's many community organizations; and

Whereas each of the more than 50 organizations nominated one volunteer who embodies the spirit of volunteerism;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join the Town of Amherst in commending the community-minded people who volunteer their time and energy to benefit others and who make Amherst a better place to live.

[Page 3220]

RESOLUTION NO. 1061

By: Hon. Gordon Balser (Minister of Economic Development)

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

Whereas the Digby and Area Arts Council have been diligently working to promote the artistic heritage of Digby County; and

Whereas in Nova Scotia we will have a prolific and creative arts community; and

Whereas the council has planned the first annual Maud Lewis Folk Festival to celebrate the legacy and memory of one of Canada's premier folk artists to be held July 20 to July 23, 2001;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the organizers of this festival and wish them much success in their endeavour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1062

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the Kiwanis Music Festival held in Halifax this past February was the biggest ever with over 8,000 competitors from across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas nine year old Lucas Porter of Port Williams competed in his first festival, participating in five different classes; and

Whereas Lucas Porter placed first in all five classes - Chopin, sight reading, French senior, Bach and Beethoven;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Lucas Porter for his hard work, commitment and talent and wish him great success in his musical endeavours.

[Page 3221]

RESOLUTION NO. 1063

By: Mrs. Muriel Baillie (Pictou West)

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

Whereas Karate is a sport which requires speed, agility, focus and correct timing; and

Whereas three women from the New Glasgow Karate Club have proven their skill and will represent Nova Scotia in the National Karate Competition to be held in P.E.I. in early May; and

Whereas one of these competitors, Cherry Whitaker of Saltsprings, a second degree black belt, is the only female chief instructor in Canada and is proudly the oldest competitor at the Nationals in the Masters Division;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish Sheila Jeans and Shelly Priest well in the upcoming competition and commend Cherry Whitaker for rising to the challenges of Karate instruction and for establishing herself as an excellent role model for other women entering the sport of Karate.

RESOLUTION NO. 1064

By: Hon. James Muir (Minister of Health)

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

Whereas Truro will celebrate spring with its 4th Annual Truro International Tulip Festival from May 11th to May 13th; and

Whereas the popular festival not only showcases a beautiful array of tulips, it also showcases the talents and creations of local and Maritime artisans; and

Whereas local organizers work non-stop to prepare for the town's international festival;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the work of festival organizers to prepare for the festival and encourage all who are available to attend the event.