Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Fri., May 11, 2001

[Page 3223]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, MAY 11, 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. We will begin the daily routine.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There seems to have been some confusion in the minds of government last night in terms of what they actually announced. Last evening, after the House adjourned, I asked Hansard for an [unedited] copy of the Adjournment motion that was put by the Government House Leader and I will read that:

"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, you clearly understood what the minister said because you said, "The motion is to adjourn until 8:00 a.m., to sit until 12:00 p.m. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay. The motion is carried."

3223

[Page 3224]

Now, Mr. Speaker, that motion differs quite significantly from the motion that was put the previous day, announcing yesterday's hours. At that time the Government House Leader said, "Mr. Speaker, the hours for tomorrow will be extended and I do that reluctantly, but I had some amendments offered to the Opposition which were not accepted, so tomorrow morning the House will meet at the hour of 8:00 a.m. and sit until 12:00 midnight and the order of business will be . . .", and goes on about public bills. It is quite clear that last night when the Government House Leader announced the hours for today, he announced them from 8:00 o'clock in the morning and the hours are until 12:00 p.m., which is noon. Hansard, of course, is the official record. We cannot go back after the fact and change the official record and the motion was made and carried unanimously by all members of the House and I, therefore, request that you rule that the House will adjourn in 3 hours and 58 minutes and so many seconds - 44 minutes - because quite clearly we agreed to adjourn today at noon.

Mr. Speaker, I would be only too happy to have a Page bring you a copy of the Hansard record from yesterday.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I have no dispute with the Hansard record. However, I am sure that every member within this House at the hour when we had the Adjournment motion last evening, I think it was around about 11:00 o'clock, I immediately said after that, 12:00 midnight and midnight, of course, means 12:00 p.m.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, I believe that in police terminology, and you would be well familiar with this, I believe, that there is such a thing as 12:00 p.m. midnight because there is a nanosecond before you reach (Interruptions) Oh yes, that is right, Mr. Speaker, and also it is recognized within the military, if you go onto Canadian time, as 12:00 p.m. midnight.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I didn't know that we are currently in the military, and certainly there is an old expression, how does it go, say what you mean and mean what you say. Anything that the minister, and I cannot read the minister's mind, but if the minister decided to change his mind after he made the motion and after the House had voted and adjourned, I can't help it if the minister changes his mind but, quite clearly, on the public record, which is what we go by, the Hansard is a written record, the recorded record of decisions and statements that are made in this House. Clearly on the record the minister said, and he wasn't talking about, what was it, nanoseconds, he did not mention any nanosecond before or after. So that really doesn't apply I would suggest. Obviously, it was quite clear. If he made a faux pas, Mr. Speaker, he has to live with that. It is certainly not a decision of the Opposition or our responsibility to correct it and, of course, the minister does have the

[Page 3225]

option at five to twelve today, of course, he can announce new hours, but as it stands, quite clearly, the decision that was made when the House adjourned was that the House adjourns at 12:00 p.m., and everybody recognizes that 12:00 p.m. means noon hour today; now in just a little over four hours and 36 minutes.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would also like to suggest to the House that what is said in this House and what is meant to be said in this House are two very different matters, and sometimes we wish we could say something else as to what we said here, but I heard, clearly, what the Government House Leader said and I agree with the Leader of the Opposition here.

[8:15 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Any other interveners? I have read what the honourable members presented and I listened to the tape, as well. When the honourable Government House Leader did get up and give the hours for the next day, I repeated, as well, what he had said and it is in Hansard. However, I think all members in this House would agree that we wouldn't be, first of all, looking for a vote if it was only (Interruptions) Order, please. I understand the record, I read it and I heard it, thank you very much. I think we would all agree of what has happened in this House this week, we would all fully agree that we understood what the intention of the House Leader was. (Interruptions)

Order, please. Order, please. Wait until I am finished, please. When I am finished, the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid can take the floor again. I think it is obvious in this House what the intention of the Government House Leader was, that when he gave the hours for the day (Interruptions) - would you please give me the time that I am willing to give each one of you, please - that it was obvious, because I would not have called for agreement of the House if he was only going to sit for four hours today. He wouldn't need it. He would not need it if it was only four hours. So, it was obviously the intention of the Government House Leader (Interruptions) and there is no clear definition of 11:59 p.m. or a.m. or 12:01 a.m. or p.m. There is not. There is not. (Interruptions)

My ruling is the House will sit until midnight tonight. (Interruptions)

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege. (Interruptions)

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

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 3226]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the normal hours for a Friday are three hours not four. That is what our Rule Book states. Secondly, we understood very clearly what the minister had said when he announced those hours, and that was the main reason why we did not ring the bells and call for a recorded vote. I do not remember, do not recollect it being any kind of a common occurrence or any occurrence that the House has sat until midnight on a Friday night. I don't ever remember that happening.

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that a ruling or a decision to be made that changes what decision was made in this House and is recorded in Hansard is a violation of the rights of members of this House, because all members voted on that. (Interruptions)

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

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Government House Leader gave no indication to myself or to the House Leader of the Opposition that the hours for Friday were going to be extended until midnight on Friday. It is almost without precedent that that is happening. Normally, we have talked in the past couple of weeks about shortening the hours on Friday, and that was what we thought was going to happen today. To turn around, without notification of the House Leaders of either Party and suggest we are going to meet . . . Could the member for Preston stifle himself there for a few moments.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

Allow the honourable member for Cape Breton South the floor please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: . . . the Wal-Mart greeter over there, until I am finished.

MR. SPEAKER: I agree.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South has the floor.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to you that we felt the intention was to go to short hours here today, and go into longer hours on Monday.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, obviously then, I made an error. I am not stating by any means that I did not make the statement as displayed in Hansard. I am sure, though, that every member of the House who was in the House at 11:00 p.m. last evening

[Page 3227]

heard me say the hours are to midnight. However, that being the case, if the honourable members opposite wish to stick to the point, that is fine.

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that we have a consensus, that we proceed until midnight. If we do not, then we will certainly adjourn at 12:00 p.m. today, tonight, no, I am saying 12:00 p.m. at noon. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: So we will recess at noon? (Interruptions)

Order, please. Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, you have already ruled on this, and now the Government House Leader is suggesting you change your ruling. Is that what I wring out of this? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. Obviously, we will not get an agreement on this. I have made a ruling. I would suggest maybe the three House Leaders should get together on it after we get the House's daily proceedings moving along. I have made my ruling on it. As it stands right now, the House is going to sit until midnight tonight.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The honourable Government House Leader has just stood in his place and indicated, quite clearly, he made a mistake and, number two, he was prepared to agree with the clear idea that 12:00 p.m. means 12:00 noon. He just stood in his place and stated that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: The Houghton Mifflin Canadian Dictionary, and I would just like to read from it, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions) No, I am not. I am not arguing against what I said. I know exactly what I said. Post Meridian (afternoon) used chiefly in the abbreviated form to specify the hour - well, it does not state what I was going to (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: I know you didn't rule on my point of privilege, but, Mr. Speaker, I would also suggest, maybe as a way to help resolve this briefly, you were suggesting that the House Leaders should get together. Maybe what we should do is recess for five or ten minutes for the House Leaders to get together now and see if this can't be resolved. I would suggest that we recess for up to 10 minutes to resolve the issue.

[Page 3228]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I would concur with that, Mr. Speaker, because what we resolve in the meeting of the House Leaders may dictate the agenda today.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the honourable Government House Leader agree with that?

MR. RUSSELL: Sure.

MR. SPEAKER: We will recess until 8:30 a.m.

[8:23 a.m. The House recessed.]

[8:30 a.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would someone like to report the deliberations of the three kings of this House? The three wise men?

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the other two House Leaders and myself have agreed that we will sit today until 3:00 p.m. - that is 3.00 p.m. this afternoon - for greater clarity, or 1500 hours.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreed?

It is agreed.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

[Page 3229]

RESOLUTION NO. 1065

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

Whereas a vitally important role within Nova Scotia's health care system is filled by licensed practical nurses; and

Whereas licensed practical nurses continually master the knowledge and technology required to be current in the nursing profession; and

Whereas licensed practical nurses consistently display professionalism, respect and dignity in their profession;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the vital role of licensed practical nurses in Nova Scotia and thank all licensed practical nurses for their history of dedicated and professional service to Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1066

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

Whereas May 7 to May 13, 2001, across Canada marks the 50th Anniversary of Mental Health Week with the theme this year, Emerging into Light, representing resilience and recovery for people who care about mental illness and mental health; and

[Page 3230]

Whereas the Halifax Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association over the last 50 years has been educating the public about mental illness and the importance of maintaining good mental health; and

Whereas because many people with mental disorders continue to face discrimination and experience personal feelings of shame, the inclusion and acceptance of people with mental illness is an important social justice issue that needs to be publicly recognized;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the week of May 7 to May 13, 2001 as Mental Health Week in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 54 - Entitled an Act to Authorize the Municipality of the District of Barrington to Provide Financial Assistance to Encourage Health Professionals to Locate in the Municipality. (Mr. Cecil O'Donnell)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1067

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

Whereas the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia is a non-profit organization established in 1982 to work with and on behalf of women in conflict with the law and women at risk of coming into conflict with the law; and

[Page 3231]

Whereas tonight the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia is holding its 3rd

Annual Rebels With A Cause event to honour five women who have championed issues of human rights and have worked towards social equality for all; and

Whereas the worthy recipients of this year's awards are: Community Services Coordinator, Norma Lloyd; Single Parents Centre Coordinator, Sister Joan O'Keefe; Nova Scotia Family Court Judge, Corinne Sparks; Hot Lunch Program Coordinator, Evelina Upshaw; and a former colleague of ours from this House, MLA Eileen O'Connell (posthumously);

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend sincere congratulations and thanks to this year's Rebels With a Cause, Norma Lloyd, Sister Joan O'Keefe, Corinne Sparks, Evelina Upshaw and former MLA Eileen O'Connell (posthumous award) as they are honoured by the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia for their years of advocacy work on behalf of women in our community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1068

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 Yarmouth Airport is a vital transportation link for southwest Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Yarmouth Airport should be developed as a true international airport; and

Whereas the Yarmouth Ferry must be renewed and enhanced so that year-round commercial ferry links to New England are maintained;

[Page 3232]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House call upon the government to work towards developing these vital year-round transportation links for the benefit of Yarmouth and all of southwest Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1069

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, 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 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 worked non-stop to prepare the town's international festival;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the work of the festival organizers and encourage all who are able, including all in this House, to attend the event and have a good time.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3233]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1070

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

Whereas on Monday, May 7th, at the Armstrong Memorial Branch 19 of the Royal Canadian Legion in North Sydney, peacekeeping medals were presented to six veterans during the Legion's biannual honours and awards night; and

Whereas the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal and 50 year medals are given to Canadian veterans on behalf of the federal government; and

Whereas peacekeeping medal recipients included Cecil Bonner, Warren Gillis, Ronald Kelly, Roland Leyte, John F. MacKinnon, and Jessie MacNeil, widow of John Neil MacNeil;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their warmest congratulations to these six men and women for their valiant service to our country.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1071

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

[Page 3234]

Whereas the people of Digby County are honest, hard-working Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the people of Digby County have contributed greatly to the economic and social life in this province; and

Whereas the 22,000 residents of the area bring a diverse background of skills, including a large bilingual workforce;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House urge the government to support the hard-working people of Digby County in pursuing economic development opportunities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1072

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;

[Page 3235]

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?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1073

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

Whereas the rich and evolving traditions of the Gaels are a vital part of our cultural mosaic; and

Whereas Gaelic language and culture is as much a part of our future as it has been a part of our past; and

Whereas Gaelic Cultural Studies 11 acknowledges and honours the story of the Gaels for their descendants as well as for other interested students and teachers;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate those who have embraced the Gaelic language and culture, especially those students and teachers as a part of Gaelic Cultural Studies 11.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3236]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1074

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

Whereas on June 3, 2001, cancer survivors and their families will celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day; and

Whereas this day recognizes the important role of family and friends of cancer survivors and the efforts of health professionals who work to make life more comfortable for people faced with the disease; and

Whereas on that day Swanky's Pub in Cole Harbour, through coordinator Elsie Manual of co-host Kyte's Pharmasave, will celebrate the event from noon until 3:00 p.m. outside their premises with a free community hot dog barbeque and draws on donated articles;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank and wish best wishes to Swanky's Pub and Kyte's Pharmasave, its owner, Don Kyte, and in particular coordinator Elsie Manual, for celebrating National Cancer Survivors Day on June 3rd in Cole Harbour.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

[Page 3237]

RESOLUTION NO. 1075

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

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

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

Whereas the annual Girl Talk jewelry sale supporting this program will be held tomorrow, May 12th, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the centre court of the Bridgewater Mall;

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

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1076

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

Whereas a new collective agreement was ratified yesterday at Trenton Works; and

Whereas this collective agreement ensures the continued operation of one of Nova Scotia's most important manufacturing industries; and

[Page 3238]

Whereas Local 1231 of the United Steelworkers of America fought hard and succeeded in getting as good a deal as possible from Trenton Works;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the leaders and membership of USWA Local 1231 for their successful negotiation of a new collective agreement at Trenton Works.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1077

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

Whereas the Aberdeen Hospital has provided over 105 years of service to the residents of Pictou County and the surrounding areas of northeastern Nova Scotia, founded in 1895 and incorporated in 1950; and

Whereas the hospital is a 126 bed regional facility providing a broad range of primary and secondary care services through in-patient, outpatient and community-based services to a population of 50,000; and

Whereas the Aberdeen Hospital enjoys excellent support from its communities and volunteer organizations as volunteers provide a broad range of helpful support and funds;

[8:45 a.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the hard-working volunteers of the Aberdeen Hospital as they keep the hospital at the forefront of health care delivery in Pictou County.

[Page 3239]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1078

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

Whereas the Mineville Community Association is committed to protecting and developing community park land and building community pride and spirit; and

Whereas the association has held events like fairs, raft races, street sales, dances and auctions to raise funds for projects to clear trails, waterways and to build a park for the residents of the community; and

Whereas this community of about 1,000 people, which was featured in Saltscapes magazine as an area of "tranquil living in the best of both worlds, rural lifestyle - near the city," is located on the Eastern Shore near Dartmouth;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend all the volunteers, directors and President Grant MacDonald of the Mineville Community Association, who, through local projects and initiatives have all contributed to enhancing the profile of the community of Mineville.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3240]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1079

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 challenge of physician recruitment for rural Nova Scotia is often difficult and time-consuming; and

Whereas community volunteers, local physicians and recruitment committees all pitch in to help recruit new doctors; and

Whereas the Strait Area Physician Recruitment Committee has been working tirelessly to find new doctors for Richmond County, including a daytime emergency doctor at the Strait-Richmond Hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the Strait Area Physician Recruitment Committee, local physicians and volunteers for their tireless efforts at physician recruitment in the Strait area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 1080

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

[Page 3241]

Whereas Andrew Cochrane's Theodore Tugboat is watched in 80 countries around the world, and Theodore Too, the 19.5 metre replica, has been boarded by more than 92,000 people and viewed by 7.5 million more; and

Whereas Dartmouth-based Sparkling Springs, which bottles water from its underground spring in Colchester County is celebrating its 30th Anniversary; and

Whereas David Ring, VP and General Manager of Sparkling Springs, and Andrew Cochran have signed a deal which will see Theodore's smiling image and Web site address on the 355 millilitre size bottles of water;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate David Ring and Andrew Cochran on their merchandising venture involving Theodore Tugboat and Sparkling Springs Company, and wish them every success promoting their quality Nova Scotian products.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1081

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

Whereas register.com recently announced it would set up business in Yarmouth that could create 300 jobs with assistance from the payroll rebate program; and

Whereas EDS has also announced it would open a call centre in Port Hawkesbury, creating 450 jobs; and

Whereas these two announcements are good news for rural Nova Scotia;

[Page 3242]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate all of those responsible for these two announcements, especially EDS and register.com.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1082

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

Whereas debating allows young minds to trade thoughts, build friendships and learn from one another's opinions; and

Whereas at the recent National Debating Championship, Gordon Shotwell, a student at Queen Elizabeth High School, won a spot on the National Debating Team; and

Whereas as a member of the National Debating Team, he will represent Canada at the World Debating Championship in 2002 in Singapore;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and commend Gordon Shotwell of Queen Elizabeth High School for winning a placement on the National Debating Team and wish him every success in the World Championships in Singapore in the year 2002.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3243]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1083

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

Whereas from those events, organizers raised over $30,000 to provide adult companionship and mentoring to youth in our communities; and

Whereas this vital community service organization enjoys 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 and Big Brother Michael Tousenard and all others whose volunteer efforts help bring Big Brothers and Big Sisters contributions to our communities well-being.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1084

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

[Page 3244]

Whereas the communities of Terence Bay, Lower Prospect and Sandy Cove are beautiful coastal communities; and

Whereas tourists and residents from throughout Nova Scotia continue to travel to these communities to visit the SS Atlantic Heritage Park, the Sandy Cove Lighthouse and other local attractions; and

Whereas the Terence Bay Road includes the notorious Porcupine Hill, which is in terrible condition;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works inform the residents of Sandy Cove, Lower Prospect and Terence Bay when the Terence Bay Road will receive the attention it deserves.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1085

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

Whereas the Roseway Hospital serves the people of Shelburne and surrounding area; and

Whereas this hospital is vital to meet the health care needs of Shelburne County; and

Whereas the hospital can only be kept running by staff, volunteers and a dedicated community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the staff, volunteers and the surrounding community for their dedication to the Roseway Hospital and health care in general.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3245]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1086

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 made the supreme sacrifice of their lives in battle overseas did not die in vain, nor will they be forgotten; and

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 Sports 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's cry - Lest We Forget - in 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?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

[Page 3246]

RESOLUTION NO. 1087

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 Lutley 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;

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?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1088

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

Whereas many Canadian men and women helped in the liberation of Holland during the dark days of World War II; and

Whereas the Dutch have never forgotten the sacrifice made by those Canadians in setting them free of the Nazi yoke; and

[Page 3247]

Whereas the Van den Hoek family of Economy honour the local veterans of the liberation of Holland each year at a tea and social at their restaurant;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House join the Van den Hoek family in honouring the veterans of the liberation of Holland during World War II.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1089

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

Whereas MicMac Mall is hosting a Pink Ribbon Mother's Day Tea called Pour for the Cure on Saturday, May 12th, with proceeds going to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Atlantic Division; and

Whereas celebrity "pourers" will serve tea and pink ribbon shortbread in a picket-fenced forest with music and fashion shows, all donated by various corporate sponsors; and

Whereas this event celebrates women, and in particular mothers, as it promotes breast health and breast cancer awareness;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House wish administrators at MicMac Mall; the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Atlantic Division; and other corporate sponsors every success at tomorrow's Pour for the Cure Pink Ribbon Mother's Day Tea.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3248]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1090

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

Whereas the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival has been a source of Valley pride as family entertainment since 1933; and

Whereas this year's festival will take place from May 30 until June 4, 2001; and

Whereas festivities this year will include a Big Band Night, dessert contests, the annual pageant, fireworks, and a concert by Juno-award-winning artists, the Barenaked Ladies;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the volunteers, sponsors, and organizers of the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival, and encourage as many Nova Scotians as possible to attend this very special event.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

[Page 3249]

RESOLUTION NO. 1091

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

Whereas this year marks the 50th Anniversary of Mental Health Week in Canada; and

Whereas the theme for this year's Mental Health Week, May 7th - May 13th, is Emerging into the Light; and

Whereas this theme was chosen by the Canadian Mental Health Association to promote awareness that mental health involves everyone and that the inclusion and acceptance of people with mental illness is an important social justice issue that needs to be publicly recognized;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join with the Canadian Mental Health Association in promoting a society where resilience, recovery, caring, and tolerance are features of life for those who have mental illness.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1092

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

Whereas Coffin Island Lighthouse in Queens County started construction in 1812 and was the fifth lighthouse built in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas it was commissioned in 1811 by the Justice of the Peace for approximately 500 to build a lighthouse on Coffin Island, which is at the mouth of Liverpool Harbour; and

[Page 3250]

Whereas the Coffin Island Lighthouse Heritage Society has managed to save Coffin Island Lighthouse for future generations, through fundraising and community support;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House commend the Coffin Island Lighthouse Heritage Society for preserving the lighthouse and preserving our heritage for the public and for future generations.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1093

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3251]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[9:00 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1094

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

Whereas the Eastern Shore is one of Nova Scotia's hidden treasures; and

Whereas tourism on the Eastern Shore has grown in recent years thanks to community effort; and

Whereas promotion of the Eastern Shore should be a priority;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support the efforts of the Eastern Shore residents to enhance their growing tourism sector.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 3252]

RESOLUTION NO. 1095

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

Whereas Private John Bernard Croak, V.C., of Glace Bay died a hero on August 8, 1918, during World War I; and

Whereas in 1976 the Town of Glace Bay and the board of school commissioners honoured the memory of John Bernard Croak by naming a school after him; and

Whereas students and staff marked the 25th Anniversary of John Bernard Croak V.C. Memorial School at an open house at the school on Tuesday, May 8th, at 6:30 p.m.;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the people of Glace Bay and especially the staff and students of John Bernard Croak V.C. Memorial School on the 25th Anniversary of their school.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1096

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 the Hector Arena in Pictou recently received $5,900 through the Planning Assistance Program of the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Committee; and

Whereas the money was used to technically assess the facility and plan for the maintenance and replacement of components of the building; and

[Page 3253]

Whereas the Hector Arena is a hub of activity for the community of Pictou;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the Hector Arena as a hub of activity for Pictou County and continue to support its existence as a recreation and community centre.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1097

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

Whereas the Premier once said in this House the Sydney tar ponds is one of the worst toxic messes in North America; and

Whereas yesterday in the House of Commons Progressive Conservative MP Peter MacKay said, the situation at the Sydney tar ponds is critical, and that families there have been exposed to high levels of toxins, resulting in shocking rates of cancer, birth defects and miscarriages; and

Whereas the actions or more precisely the inactions of the Nova Scotia Government on the question of relocating residents of neighbourhoods bordering on the tar ponds and coke ovens is not in keeping with these Progressive Conservative statements of concern;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government follow through on the request of Progressive Conservative MP Peter MacKay and make a firm commitment to provide the financial resources to permanently relocate affected residents of Whitney Pier.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 3254]

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1098

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

Whereas the Village of Prospect is a wonderfully unique coastal community; and

Whereas tourists and residents from throughout Nova Scotia continue to visit this community and its numerous attractions; and

Whereas the Prospect Bay Road is in embarrassingly poor shape;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works inform the residents of Prospect when the Prospect Bay Road will receive the attention that it needs.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1099

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

Whereas the State of Georgia is known as the powerhouse of the Southern United States; and

Whereas the Premier and 10 Nova Scotia businesses are heading to Atlanta, Georgia, next week on a Team Canada trade mission; and

Whereas this trade mission will help build ties with our neighbours to the south;

Therefore be it resolved that in order to foster goodwill that the members of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia send warm greetings to the people of Georgia through the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Georgia, Tom Murphy, and Georgia State Governor, Roy E. Barnes.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3255]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 1100

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 lobster is a most delicious and famous symbol of our fishing heritage; and

Whereas the lobster fishery is a vital part of our rural economy; and

Whereas lobster season has begun in many of our coastal communities, and fishers are venturing forth on the sometimes treacherous sea;

Therefore be it resolved that this House wishes all fishers a safe and successful lobster season.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

[Page 3256]

RESOLUTION NO. 1101

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

Whereas Point Pleasant Park in Halifax is a favourite recreation facility of local residents; and

Whereas the forest ecosystem of the park has suffered in recent years due to a variety of factors such as thin soil, climatic stress and absence of beneficial management; and

Whereas last year, some 2,000 trees were cut in this park by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourages Halifax Regional Municipality to act to restore the health of Point Pleasant Park by having regard to all the factors needed to build up a healthy ecosystem in the park.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1102

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

Whereas quilts represent the fulfilment of two basic human requirements, warmth and comfort; and

Whereas since the founding of this province, Nova Scotia women have contributed to its art, culture and history through the craft of quilting; and

[Page 3257]

Whereas at the Municipality of East Hants Volunteers Award Night, April 27, 2001, Mrs. Emma Dalrymple of the Mayflower Quilters Association was honoured for her award-winning quilt, which raised thousands of dollars towards the establishment of the Rawdon Health Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly congratulate Mrs. Dalrymple on her generosity with her time, skills and her valuable quilts.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1103

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

Whereas the Landsdowne Outdoor Recreation Development Association, LORDA, a non-profit charitable organization, is opening for another season; and

Whereas LORDA provides a valuable community service for seniors and citizens who happen to be disabled; and

Whereas LORDA has won many national and international awards and is widely recognized;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Dave Leese, the Executive Director of LORDA, and LORDA's board of directors for their contributions to seniors and the disabled year after year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3258]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak on the amendment to hoist for six months . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: To set aside.

DR. SMITH: . . . to set aside, not hoist but to set aside for six months Bill No. 20, the Government Restructuring (2001) Act. The reasons I will bring forward are multiple and focused on the reasons for hoisting this bill. This bill has 63 sections. It is a substantive bill that impacts on many different departments, but there is a common theme and that is the centralization of power in government. We feel that this bill must be set aside for that period of time to allow Nova Scotians access to address matters relative to this bill and to understand, thoroughly, the bill.

[Page 3259]

Mr. Speaker, I want to take some time in addressing the proposed amendment, to talk about the centralization of government power in the hands of the Cabinet. This is a majority government, although, if we look at times, like this morning, we are not quite sure. Sooner or later they will realize, from time to time, they are a majority government.

They do have the power, and they have the power to push this legislation through this House of Assembly. How they do that will determine the type of government they will be perceived to be, and actually will be, in the governance of the Province of Nova Scotia. We see a very small Cabinet, that started out to be more of a public relations manoeuvre on the part of this government because we all know that the size of the Cabinet, basically, has very little influence on budgetary matters. In fact, the neglect that we have seen in some departments of government by not having a full-time minister has had a negative impact and has not allowed initiatives and has resulted in measures that would be to the benefit of Nova Scotians to not take place. I know how difficult it is, having shared Cabinet positions with a couple of departments at a time. It can be done for a period of time, but I think sooner or later how one governs is determined through the participation of the Cabinet members and how they interact and support their staff in the priorities and the choices that the government of the day makes.

In this province, it started out to be very popular. I know there are many people who felt this was a great thing to have happen, to have a small Cabinet, we are going to save so much money, all those big salaries the Cabinet Ministers make. I think Cabinet Ministers quickly found out that the cheque every two weeks wasn't really very great for 16, 18, perhaps sometimes 20 hour days. Be that as it may, that was the public relations effort. Now the government is in a bit of box. They have a very small Cabinet.

What this bill does, and the reason I think it should be set aside for six months, is that it is concentrating power in the hands of that small Cabinet. Even at the height of the Buchanan patronage era, no government has ever wielded so much power as this one will if this particular bill is passed. I say if, it still can be set aside, there can be changes made, amendments. We are looking forward to the Law Amendments Committee, where people in Nova Scotia, all citizens of Nova Scotia can come into the Law Amendments Committee and address their concerns, but they must understand what those concerns are. That is why we need time to address the issues and to allow time for Nova Scotians to understand the seriousness of this particular bill that on the surface looks innocuous, unless you compare it to what the changes really do to impact on the structure of government.

Mr. Speaker, we believe in not supporting this bill, there is nothing that can be done to this bill that could change the fundamental flaw. It is a flawed bill. It is large, 63 sections. We don't feel we can amend this bill. This is why we are supporting the overall amendment to set this bill aside. The reason the new centralization of power is different, as I mentioned, from the Buchanan era, from 1978-93, in that the government has more influence now, I believe, over the lives of Nova Scotians. I think that is a significant difference. I think people

[Page 3260]

look to government for interaction, and we are more dependent on government. That may not be direct dependence on a cheque from government, but I think government is an integral part of how we move forward in this 21st Century. That is why the government must be enlightened, it must be open, it must be transparent, it must be accountable, and it must not concentrate power in the Cabinet Rooms of this Legislative Assembly.

With technology and centralization, you end up with oligarchy. The ancient Greek meaning of the term meant the power was wielded by a few for the benefit of themselves. The cynics among us would say, well, that is no different than democracy, perhaps, but it is really Tory democracy as we see it.

[9:15 a.m.]

Even in a democracy, power is wielded by a few people, but at least in a democracy, those people have to compete for the public's approval. It is an open system. Ours is based on the British Parliamentary system. Generally, in a democracy, competing groups are on a level playing field, unless - and this is very important - the government of the day erects barriers to public participation. Another way is erecting barriers, Mr. Speaker, so that the elected representatives are cut off from any influence with the executive branch or the Cabinet, the barriers are erected.

That is precisely what is happening in Bill No. 20. I want to direct this, particularly, to the backbenchers on the government side because I think this is important. Backbenchers lack power in government. This is the argument, this is the debate that is going on across this country. I would argue that the backbenchers, perhaps, have even less power than Opposition members. This bill makes this situation worse. You talk to some of them, Mr. Minister, and you will find out. This bill makes the situation worse, Mr. Speaker, because power is even more centralized. Nobody escapes from this. Nova Scotians will suffer because of this, members of the Legislature will.

I want to speak on this as we support this amendment to set this bill aside for six months. The more power that is centralized in the hands of the Cabinet, the less power the backbenchers and all members of this Legislature will have. What it means is the voter will have no recourse. No wonder voter turnout is low at this time in our history. As I say, this is the debate that is raging, not only in this Legislature, but in Legislatures across this country and in the federal Parliament. It is well-known that voters feel that government will do what it wants, when it wants and no matter what the people think. This bill, unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, continues to take us down that path. Instead of correcting something that is a deficiency within the function of our democratic process, we are going to concentrate power more centrally, in the OIC, the Orders in Council, the executive branch of government.

[Page 3261]

We have seen the protestors in Quebec City. Many of us didn't necessarily agree with their beliefs, particularly some of the leaders who I am very much opposed to, the Maude Barlows and the Naomi Kleins and the Alexa McDonoughs that take courses in how to confront the police. Whether we want it or not, there are changes that are taking place. But while I don't share their beliefs, Mr. Speaker, many of the people felt that they had no other option. They believe that participatory democracy has been replaced by globalization and corporate culture and influence on our political system and on our process of government.

So these leaders who went to be mischievous and had agendas of their own can use globalization and corporate culture as buzzwords, that while we don't quite understand them, Mr. Speaker, are very effective tools in the hands of leaders who want to be mischievous and to foster their own agenda and give them prime time on television and we see that. We don't want to see this government here in Nova Scotia playing into the hands of those people anymore, although some of the them have been in this Legislature and have moved on, supposedly to higher places, but I am never quite sure about that.

Mr. Speaker, you know that the greatest threat to democracy are bills like Bill No. 20 that is under the innocuous heading, An Act to Restructure the Government of Nova Scotia. It doesn't sound too bad. It sounds quite positive. Everybody feels we should have strong administrations. But in there is that centralization of power. What Bill No. 20 does, in addition, it waters down the power of the representatives, all of us, in this Legislature, the 52 people who take their seats in this Legislature. It puts power in the hands of a few for the benefit of a few. The classical Greeks, as I mentioned, would have spotted this bill for what it is.

This bill is a bill that attempts to entrench power in the central Cabinet of government in the Province of Nova Scotia. We always knew that this government was governing for the benefit of a few who have direct access, not only to the Premier but to the Cabinet of this province. Now we know that power will be concentrated in the hands of the member for Hants West and the Premier and I would say a couple of Cabinet Ministers. Probably the list is not long. A power of the few is represented by the Treasury and Policy Board now with this government, and they govern for the benefit of the few who have access to them.

It is the land of milk and honey for some Tories, but like the animals from George Orwell's Animal Farm that we read in earlier times of our life, some animals are more equal than others. Even though they were all supposed be equal, some obviously were more equal than others. In this case, we see members of this government, some being much more equal than others. In fact, one might call this the George Orwell Animal Farm Act because the bill enshrines in legislation the same idea contained in George Orwell's novel. Again, all are equal but some Tories are more equal than others, so it is not fair for many of us in this Legislature.

[Page 3262]

Mr. Speaker, those who have written about democracy in the past understand that the concentration of power in the hands of the executive branch of government means freedoms are taken away from the people. This bill, Bill No. 20, does the same thing. It concentrates power in the hands of Cabinet and takes it away from the Legislature.

Montesquieu and later, Thomas Jefferson, Mr. Speaker, understood all too well that there must be a separation of powers. The legislative branch of government is becoming weaker. With every Bill No. 20 we see it diluted. It is time that the power pendulum went back the other way. There will be too much power concentrated in one branch of government. Many people have warned that the Constitution Act, 1982, in our country, gives too much power to the judiciary and that is a threat to our democracy, but I say that the greatest threat to democracy is the watering down of our legislative power. Granted, we do not have a true separation of executive and legislative branch in the British parliamentary system. Yes, that is true and that is exactly what Montesquieu and Thomas Jefferson warned would happen.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 20 is an affront to democracy, plain and simple. We must vote against it and we will because we are not just using the time, we are not abusing the time of the House, we are using our time efficiently and effectively to bring our concerns because we want this House open. We want the members to come, bring the concerns of their constituents and to address various matters.

We know at this time of year the budget of this government has been out to the school boards, the district health authorities and we have not heard back, to any extent, Mr. Speaker, the impact of those budgets. We have not heard the impact of this provincial government on the school boards, essentially; some we have. The true impact takes some period of time to roll out and we know that. Also, in the district health authorities, in the western part of the province, we are getting some information, much like we did last year when we were able to say in this House and question the Minister of Health on various matters that we knew were in the game plan of this government, that would mean cutbacks in front-line health workers, closure of hospital beds, changing of the types of hospital services, increased waiting lists and others. We were told in this very Chamber that we were misleading the people of Nova Scotia in bringing that forward. Later, almost to the letter, all of those were proved to be true.

So this is why, Mr. Speaker, we are trying, in our caucus, to act responsibly and to come forward and bring our concerns. I have addressed some of them here this morning, some almost in a philosophical way. It is very subtle, changes that happened because we have seen governments in this country - and there are tendencies that happen when you concentrate power in a few - they buy the silence of others. We saw that, particularly, much has been written about it, though it is nothing that I personally have discovered, but I have read somewhat on the Maurice Duplessis Regime in Quebec. I think that was very much like what happened with the Buchanan era from 1978 to 1993, where budgets were determined,

[Page 3263]

everything was done very much in secret. Monies were doled out to education, to health and those issues and it was a clear warning and we heard those things said in this House during those times. You take what is coming and you be quiet because if you criticize this government, then you will pay that price. Those threats have been thrown across the aisle here in this very House and I have heard them before.

That was the Quebec Regime. Why I think it is important that Nova Scotians have some time to evaluate this bill is because this is the sort of government that we are heading toward as well. A government that can buy the silence of groups, agencies, boards and commissions, can buy the silence of the churches even, if they are delivering services such as in Quebec - it was very much involved in the education system and in the health care system. We see less of that now, of course, but it is still there with boards.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I suggest to the honourable member that suggesting the government could buy, would make it sound as if through money, they would receive favours or would certainly shed a shadow on and I would ask the honourable member to reframe that type of comment please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East has the floor.

DR. SMITH: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think we have lots of documentation that the era of which I speak - the Maurice Duplessis era in Quebec - was very much like that. There have been books written and I don't think there has been anybody sued badly for that or sued at all. We have major evidence of it in the Buchanan era where actually, members of this Legislature - there were judgments of the court passed against them. I think the sad thing about this - and when I say that they are not buying something directly, they are buying the compliance and silence of people. The people out there now in the district health authorities and the school boards are quiet. This government has bought their silence and that is why we want to have this time for this bill to be known to Nova Scotians, to know the direction that this government is taking.

So, yes, Mr. Speaker, you are right in disciplining me here this morning and cautioning me, but I am choosing my words very cautiously. I have sat in this Legislature since 1984 and I have seen the silence of groups bought and we have done it, we saw it this year when the accountability - it was done under the accountability of agencies where non-profit organizations had to have more documentation. It was all done on the surface, but when speaking to them, they told us as Opposition, we have to comply, we don't want to really complain because we are depending on the grants.

I have real concerns and we saw on the highways and we saw jobs in Nova Scotia and you can go back - and we are not only talking about Tory Governments, we are talking about past governments of all stripes in this province - and the worst patronage of all has been the jobs in facilities for youth and children that we have seen widespread abuse. When friends

[Page 3264]

of the Premier of the day had jobs, protection of their jobs and they abused and eventually went to court and were found guilty of abuse.

So, I am speaking of matters today that went before the courts. That is the history of this province and we have gotten away from that and at great personal cost probably to the political career of former Premier John Savage. If you talked to that man today, he is still strong and he believes what he did was right. We have turned that around - but now I am afraid that this bill will allow these private appointments - and we are starting to see it already. We see people being asked to submit their names at the agencies, boards and commissions, at the Human Resources Committee. People slipping into these committees to subvert the function of an agency, a committee that is put in place to give transparency and accountability, and we are starting to see that subverted. We are seeing it in a major way, subverting that fair system and the process that has been set up in this province.

[9:30 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, a lot of good things have happened. I am particularly concerned about children, and I want to address that as well in some of my closing comments. I have concerns in the matter of the advanced studies program that has come forward. We don't know much about this. On the surface it looks great, we are going to enrich the lives of children, particularly high achievers. But we have some major questions on this. It does tie in with this bill. There is a lot to do with the responsibilities of the Minister of Education and that whole process. We have a process here in Nova Scotia. We have a very political deputy - although maybe he is doing a good job for all I know, I certainly hope he is - and a minister we get no answers out of here, of any substance, in the House. Everything is sort of quiet out there.

For the first time, in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board we will see the loss of permanent positions; the first time, or at least in a long time. Is this advanced studies program the start of privatization of education in Nova Scotia? I know a lot of young people who have had the International Baccalaureate. What will be the status of that? We see this, in some ways, maybe replacing that. Is that the way we want to go? Particularly when we look at a lot of the agenda of this government, it has been dictated to this government by the Harris Government in Ontario. We have just seen a budget come down there, with a lot of little wiggle room to move into privatization in the education and health care systems.

That is not necessarily what Nova Scotians want or need. There may be some areas where we need to move in that direction, because we already have. There are parts of health care, for instance, that are privatized. Nova Scotians should understand, if the agenda of this government is that we are going to move to more privatization of health care than what we already have, I think they should know that.

[Page 3265]

Mr. Speaker, the time is needed. An integral part of this legislation is the advanced studies program. We are talking about the Web - I don't quite understand all this - I know our son, in the first year of Dalhousie this year, did one of his exams on the computer from home. I know he did that. How much will be quality time with access to teachers on this particular program? How will it be offered? Where will the program be offered? Who will assess the program? Who determines, more importantly, who gets into that program? That really does concern me.

We know, in the schools, often there are favourites. What is the influence there? Who will have the say? Can students not involved in the course then be able to challenge for advanced credits, say at Dalhousie University? What is the relationship with Dalhousie University? What is the relationship with Knowledge House? Who will determine the selection criteria? While this is being floated about there are a lot of questions. I have a lot of questions, and this caucus has a lot of questions. Will there be an official research project attached to this pilot project to monitor the student and the program successes?

Mr. Speaker, one thing that makes me concerned when I see something like this coming forward is that we have a history in this province of picking up programs after they have worn out their welcome in other parts. We see it with the whole language program. After everyone else has tried it and set it aside, then we sort of get into it. I know this is led to be cutting-edge and that sort of thing, but there are a lot of questions here. Is this really based on substantive research? I think we need those references on that particular research. Where is the funding coming from for this project?

This House has passed a budget. We have Bill No. 30 before us as well, enabling legislation for that budget. These are integral parts, both Bill No. 30, on the matters relative to the budget, and this restructuring of government is very much integrated. That is why we need more time to debate this as we discover the impact of not only programs such as this, but the question I ask again is, where will the money come from? Will it be taken from other parts of the education system?

It is fine to have an enhanced and an enriched program. I think that is really excellent to prepare our children and youth in the early part of this century to make changes that are fundamental to the way of learning. I support that and I am sure that many of the children of people of this Legislature will benefit as children throughout this province, but I hope it is equal and I am hoping it is fair and it is not a first step toward a privatization of the education system. So I would ask will the funding of this pilot project impact on the funding allocation of public education, this advanced studies program?

What are the benefits of Knowledge House? When you see these programs develop, who has the rights of the intellectual property, the patent or the copyright that is now woven into what we call the intellectual property right? Who has that? Is that something that will benefit private industry and is this experimental? It is like a pharmaceutical company needs

[Page 3266]

clinical trials? Is this what we are developing as a model here, Mr. Speaker, that is marketable internationally? Is that some of the benefit? What is the arrangement between Dalhousie Knowledge House and this Department of Education? Those are just some of my concerns and why we need more debate and we need more open accountability to understand the way that this government is doing business and the matters which they are addressing.

Page 26, Mr. Speaker, Clause 46 clearly gives the Minister of Health specific responsibilities of supervision, direction and control of affairs in matters relating to health, hospitals, insured services, emergency health services, adult protection, homecare, public health and addiction services, a broad range. So it is pretty clear that the minister cannot blame the overruns in the regions of the health authorities, that it is the responsibility of the minister, and he cannot assign that to an agency, board or commission, or someone as his or her agent. It is pretty clear the direction there.

So we see matters that we have brought before the House and the reason that these debates are so important and the reason that we have more time to question, more Question Periods, quite frankly, as we said earlier in other debates, we make no apologies for having this House open for a few more weeks, Mr. Speaker, because we are seeing materials and I have said earlier, the impact of the budget. So however we restructure government and we have seen change, the four regional health boards changed into the nine regional health authorities, but we are seeing that has been under the largesse of this government to move from four to nine boards and to give power to the people so to speak, but I will tell you, when you read the minutes such as District Health Authority 2 and matters that we brought before the House yesterday, the people in those areas don't understand that that is so.

We have these minutes particularly that have been tabled, Mr. Speaker, and I will refer to them again. The meeting of that health authority expressed dissatisfaction with the process of resubmitting a document without the approval of the board. So this is a group, the western region, according to our calculations, that saw an overall reduction of $1.8 million and this authority itself was being told to reduce $1.3 million. They felt, and I am not sure if they realized - I don't think they did - that they were being asked to accept so much of that responsibility of that reduction. They felt that the body who was responsible for the budget and are responsible for the people in their district for the decisions being made, they thought they were. But the deputy minister is making the decision without any consultation from them. The board recognized the position the staff were put in by the Department of Health to prepare this document and submit to the Department of Health in such a short period of time.

The first one, Mr. Speaker, essentially was their budget was presented and their business plan. Well, that wasn't quite good enough. What we are going to see, and there is no question, some of the evidence we have had and some, I know, will be forthcoming. We are going to see the same thing we saw last time. This is why we need time in this restructuring and in the budget debates, as well, or legislation such as in Bill No. 30, relative

[Page 3267]

to the budget. What we are going to see is that business plans and these budgets realized that perhaps all those deficits in these regions and the health authorities are not going to be covered. There is talk about that. We have to find out about that. Is that so? Are they going to be covered? What sort of community responsibility is this when these boards - and this is just one, there are others and I am sure that we will realize that later - feel that they have lost the power and control?

So it is always interesting, Mr. Speaker, when you talk about government reform and the need to reform. The Minister of Finance in Ontario the other day ends all his litany of the various issues as they all end up, by saying, we must reform the health care system. After awhile if you hang that sort of shingle out there long enough, then everybody starts to believe that. Well the system had been reformed. It had been reformed into four regional health boards. The Goldbloom report, with a very non-partisan committee, that supported Dr. Richard Goldbloom, an internationally acclaimed physician who worked hard and conscientiously for our government. The report was actually tabled after the change of government. So this government actually got to table that report and, of course, did not accept that report because that report said, the regionalization and the four regional health boards, while not perfect, were starting to work and starting to gel.

That wasn't good enough. People who have gotten to this Premier and this government had other agendas. They wanted to return to the good old days. They remembered when you made an appointment with the minister and if you didn't get what you wanted, then you called up the Premier's office and then you got what you wanted, usually. That is what gave us the $8 billion and now the $11 billion and $12 billion debt in this province. Because when I came in as a minister, Mr. Speaker - it was in Community Services in 1993 - groups would come to me and they would say, well, we need this and we need that. I would say that we have looked at this and we don't really think this is possible. We are going to have to hold the line on this.

It wasn't easy. It was very difficult. A look of disbelief would come over many of their faces. They couldn't believe it. They would leave the office and then they would go and call the Premier's office. But one thing about Premier Savage, Mr. Speaker, he never, ever responded to that. He never cut the legs out from underneath his ministers by sabotaging the programs. He paid the price for that, perhaps, but at least he had his integrity and the way of doing business was changed. It has continued to change until this day. I think we have a much fairer, open system. What concerns me, Mr. Speaker, is that we are moving back to that system, that concentration of power in that central region.

So we have nine regional health authorities. We haven't even heard much from the central region. We hear stories, we have some information, Mr. Speaker. We see the nurses in the capital region, I say the old Central Regional Health Board, which is the capital region now, which is one-third of the population, at least, of this province within one district health

[Page 3268]

authority. We see them coming forward now with job action that may be taking place even as early as May 14th, which is just a few days away.

The whole issue of returning power to the people in the restructuring of government is not taking place. This document that we tabled really is just one example of one of the nine groups and how they feel. Some of the subtleties that I mentioned and my colleague, the member for Dartmouth South, is not here, but yesterday I know and in the media today there were matters relative to a letter that he wrote on April 12th to the Halifax Regional School Board, to Sandra Everett, the chairman. I know that his intention was good. He was advocating for a school in his area, Alderney School in Dartmouth, but there are parts of that letter, Mr. Speaker, that are exactly what I said earlier, that you cautioned me on and rightly so you cautioned me on, and the paragraph of that letter is, "I am pleased that our government has begun a process of evaluation of the management of school boards in Nova Scotia and I look forward to the results of that review." Is it subtle? I don't know. Be the judge of that.

[9:45 a.m.]

The article in the paper today thought that that was less than subtle perhaps. As a threat, I don't know, the member for Dartmouth South will know that, but this is a member, the Chairman of the Tory caucus writing to the school board that is allegedly reviewing with a flawed system albeit, the closure of schools. Then the other one that I will just refer to briefly and I don't want to make a big issue of that because I know the intentions of the member for Dartmouth South are honourable, but if he feels he has to do it this way, then so be it. The letter will speak for itself and be judged by that.

But he does say, Mr. Speaker, on the second page, ". . . I am not prepared to stand by and allow the HRSB to implement a school closure that directly and clearly contravenes the Education Act that stipulates that the Provincial Government has the responsibility to review a decision of a board that creates just such a negative environment for children." Then he goes on to say that, "I believe that the original decision did not include Alderney School . . ."

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I fail to see the relevance of a letter from a member of the House in regard to the hoist of Bill No. 20. I would ask the honourable member to bring his comments back to the hoist amendment that is presently before the House.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, in all fairness, I was speaking about the restructuring of government, the influence, and where you have to go for power and the disempowerment of people. I thought I had laid that out with discussing matters relative to the democratic process that is not perfect and has some flaws, but generally works well. I feel that people in the community are feeling disenfranchised and so then they have to go to where the power is. If they see the government side, it is the process and the structure of government and how it functions. Our Leader was criticized by some members of this House because at the time of

[Page 3269]

the closure announcement, and it is very interesting that this school in the Tory riding stayed open and the schools that were for closures were all in non-government ridings.

I did not make that a public issue at that time and I hesitate to bring it forward here this morning, but it is an issue and I think that in the political realm - and this is politics that we are involved in in this House of Assembly - that one has to ask that question. Our Leader, who is one of the finest people I have ever worked with, Mr. Speaker, and a very honourable and fair person, brought that forward as a concern. So we are talking about power and we are talking about the centralization power and how people can pull the levers of government and what they have to do. So they have to be quiet and not criticize government and they have to work through certain paths to get to where the power is. I am going to leave that now. That will speak for itself and it is now written in the records already and it has been in the media today, as I saw early this morning.

Mr. Speaker, it may on the surface appear to be moving from the motion, the amendment, but I think we need more time. There is much concern. The school board in its decision, which is really part of that whole government structure, within the Minister of Education and the deputy and be they do their function as they will. They are members of government and that is why we are here to hold them accountable. There is now a group in Dartmouth that is moving toward a challenge within the courts to that process system and there are others that are considering that because that system is flawed and deemed to be flawed and that is what they are alleging. From what I have seen in some of the documentation provided to the parents of the schools that are up for closure, it certainly is deficient, it is inaccurate and even I could see that myself.

We will move on. I did want to perhaps dwell on some services and how the structure of government because we see headlines, the other day, Tories $66 billion to help kids grow up great. Five year plan to boost daycare and it was very positive, although I don't think it is too well understood in some areas and it is not too clear where the monies are going. Essentially, that was federal money and it is amazing - we never could seem to when we were in government, get away with that, announce five and six different times the same money over and over. They are even now travelling in pairs - the Minister of Health and the Minister of Community Services - announcing federal money. I think this is important that the whole structure of government is working positively and I think parts of this program will go to early intervention.

When you speak in any way of how government is functioning, how is it functioning for all of the people? The reason I am bringing this up at this juncture, relative to this motion to set aside this bill and the restructuring of government, is because I think there are many areas, and if there is any area that has suffered and any group that has suffered, it has been the children and youth across this country, but particularly in this province. I mentioned earlier, too, the patronage jobs that were doled out through previous governments in areas

[Page 3270]

of people being put in positions of trust, relative to care of children and also the absence of legislation protecting the rights of children.

A lot of that has been changed across this country and it has been changed largely through our previous Liberal Government in this province. The highlights here on these particular announcements which, my understanding is, are almost all federal government money and it has been announced at least five or six times in the last few weeks in various locations around metro. There is one for public health nurses and I think it is good to see. But this is an initiative basically of the federal government so we have a structure of this government that is really responding to another government and where are they in bringing forth their own initiatives?

But we see that good could come of this because we have 40 public health nurses, we have an additional 25 lay home visitors and that abuse that has been so pervasive and not spoken of in our society has been gradually changing. It has changed the structure at the United Nations level to some extent on the global scene, federally with programs from the federal government and I am one that often has been critical of the federal government programs. They will often come in and start a program as a pilot project and then withdraw their funding.

So it is important that the structure of government is there to protect the more vulnerable. We have spoken earlier about some of the broad issues of health and education, and the reason I am highlighting this particular federal involvement and the $66 million over the next five years is because this is building an infrastructure.

Mr. Speaker, I am just wondering if I could ask, how much time do I have left?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has about 15 minutes.

DR. SMITH: I think there has been some indication that maybe I could share my time. I will just make a few brief comments, and then I will share my time, if that seems to be the wish. The area that I want to close on, and I hope you will bear with me, in addressing this restructuring of government is the lack of an infrastructure for children, adolescents and youth. This is not, again, where I put the blame on this government. I would encourage them to not only just depend on federal government monies coming in. The ministers must have felt very comfortable the other day to see the great headlines for that.

Those people who know what is happening behind the scenes know that this money can come and go from the federal government, know that this province needs an infrastructure. The structure of government must be resourced properly for children and youth, in the early stages, where identification of abuse and neglect can be done, the criteria are very well accepted. We know programs that can identify children very early in life. We have some terrible, horrendous situations, of course, not only in this province but in many

[Page 3271]

provinces across this country and globally. That is why the United Nations has addressed, within their structure of governance, matters in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, particularly relative to the rights of children on nutrition, matters of literacy, matters of shelter.

Again, what I am alluding to this morning, or addressing somewhat, is the personal safety of children. I think the prenatal programs, which are so important, that structure must be in place. During the times of the birth of those children, of all our children, that the assessment is done in a kind, sensitive and caring way, about the vulnerability of that child to abuse and neglect, not being intrusive. I know that with child protection workers, there is no great facilities or foster parent programs that aren't stretched to the limit. There is no real desire, as sometimes the media would portray it, that the child protection workers are going around gathering children to take into custody.

The resources that are needed in this area, and the structure of government, I am pleased to say that this money will help to shore it up. What has to be entrenched is the rights of all of our children and to access into budgets and into programs, and not have those budgets fall off the table and entrench. These people don't vote. Again, that brings me around to my point about how they access government resources. They depend, of course, on someone being an advocate for them. We have had good advocates across this country, not only the prenatal and at the time of delivery, but also at the early window of opportunity, those first couple of years. Now we see intervention programs being brought into the structure. Certainly we have seen the loss of the public health nurses over the years - which is now being redressed - which I have always supported. I feel that is extremely important.

When they arrive at school - the concerns I expressed about the privatization. We are going to put all this money into restructuring government and to restructure our programs and to enhance and enrich the programs in early intervention. Well, we can't have them coming into a school system that doesn't have those resources. So the money that is coming in this few years from the federal level that this government is announcing is not going to be adequate. So the structure of government must address those more vulnerable and those who don't vote and those who can't speak for themselves, which are the children, youth and adolescents.

[10:00 a.m.]

We have been, I think, lucky, very fortunate in these last few years, although we have had some death of children. I know the most disturbing thing that I have seen in my experience in government - and I tried to change some of the structure through legislation and through the restructuring of departments - was the fact that two children had been murdered in this metro area when I went in as Minister of Community Services. The only two charts that I have read when I was minister and there were obviously flaws and deficiencies that we try to address within the limitations of the finances and that was in 1993.

[Page 3272]

I think the changes that we brought in did make a difference. Now that times are better, money is coming into government, I think we have to make sure that we just don't spend the federal monies on the resources of this government and we don't lose sight of what we are structuring here and our priorities are. Because at the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, it is not that the children are our future, we know that, that is pretty obvious, but their needs are now and they have to be addressed now. So when you get carried away with a whole lot of highfalutin stuff, at the end of the day for most of us, it is really our children that matter in our lives and it reflects on how we have functioned as individuals. It impacts and reflects very much how we function as legislators here in this Legislature.

So when I see the power being more concentrated and the power being taken away from all of us, not only the backbenchers on the government side, but on all legislators when you have power concentrated. I only hope that the day will come when there will be no murders and deaths of children. Do you ever notice, Mr. Speaker, how it is when we speak about deaths of children it is often called abuse of children. But if it is a death where an adult is murdered, it is called the murder of adults. You see, we even treat it differently. So we have a lot of work to be done. We know some of the criteria. Often, this death of a child that has got to do when they are alone with a male that is usually not the biological father and there are others factors that we know the risk.

So in looking at restructuring and enhancement of programs, I commend the government for at least, at this juncture, even though they are getting more benefit than they deserve, I believe, and that how we have to see the programs that they are announcing for children and adolescents and youth, that we need a strong structure of government that has to make some choices and priorities that reflect those who can't speak for themselves and not to allow people to go to ministers and maybe not get what they want and then go to the Premier's office and get that benefit. That is a very subtle form of patronage and really weakens that whole system, because the ones that don't have the voice are the children and the adolescents and the youth.

Mr. Speaker, I know my time is just about up and I think others want the floor. But I want to support that we will voting for this amendment to set aside this bill for six months. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I take my place to rise to speak on the motion to set aside for six months, Bill No. 20, Government Restructuring (2001) Act. The reason why I stand here and rise in support of this restructuring bill is simply because of the potential that it has placed within that restructuring bill. For a short time, I want to harken back to what the member for Dartmouth East had said with respect to the FTAA. He made comments with respect to some of those individuals in Quebec, during the Summit of the Americas, who

[Page 3273]

were somehow protesting because they just simply wanted to protest and that there was no reason or logic for their protesting, which in fact is totally wrong.

The Free Trade Agreement of the Americas was in fact an agreement that would have the impact on culture; it would have the impact on health care, it would have the impact on setting regulations with respect to wages. There are significant impacts with respect to what the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas would have on Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is unfair to trivialize those protestors who protested and wanted exactly what we want from this restructuring bill. That is why we want to know what government is going to do and what kind of restructuring is going to take place. Much the same as those people in Quebec, who stood there and protested simply because none of that information was available, the text of the report was not available for the citizens of Canada to see. As a matter of fact, it was kept in absolute secrecy, much the same as this government's restructuring bill is kept in absolute secrecy.

The government says, no, this is not the direction, this is not what we intend within this restructuring bill, yet it is not prepared to have any member stand up and refute what the Opposition is saying, much the same as those individuals who organized that huge protest in Quebec and the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas. They wanted to know the contents of that particular agreement. That particular agreement was significantly important because it has a significant direction on the lives of many Canadians.

Therefore, this restructuring bill is exactly the same thing. It allows government to take hold of agencies, boards and commissions. It allows government to infiltrate those boards, agencies and commissions, government members or citizens who are favourable to the direction that this government is going.

I just want to hearken back to a very important issue I was just reading in The Daily News today. The last time I spoke on this Government Restructuring (2001) Bill to refer it to the Human Resources Committee, I spoke because it had a significant impact on those agencies, boards, commissions and school boards. I made specific reference to the Southwest Regional School Board, and the government's ability to intimidate the remaining school boards throughout this province. If you don't toe the line, then we will take you over. If you don't do as we say, we will make sure you are an agency of government and no longer will you be fully elected school boards, but we will take the direction on which these school boards are going.

Mr. Speaker, a prime example of that is that the member for Dartmouth South actually intervened with a letter to the school board, which I was totally unaware of until it was brought to our attention yesterday in this House by members of the Third Party, the Liberal Party. As a matter of fact it appears in The Daily News today. I am just wondering, how far will this government go? This letter was written on caucus letterhead. This letter is by the

[Page 3274]

caucus chairman, Tim Olive, and it says that, "Olive's letter questions the board's ability to manage its operations and makes a veiled reference to its future. 'I am pleased that our government has begun a process of evaluation of the management of school boards in Nova Scotia, and I look forward to the results of that review,'"

Mr. Speaker, that is the reason we need this bill to restructure government. Now we know, we know there are going to be 31 little fiefdoms over there who will now control and set the direction of how this government is going to administer the affairs of Nova Scotia. That is what is happening here. This member just happened to be supported by Sandra Everett. If any member wants to know who Sandra Everett is, she was the campaign manager for Jane MacKay, who was a Tory candidate in the 1999 election in Dartmouth North.

Mr. Speaker, that is the kind of thing that is happening here; that is the kind of thing that is happening under government restructuring. These are the kinds of issues that Nova Scotians don't want to hear about. These are the kinds of issues that might be okay for the member for Preston; he knows full well how he intervened in an election campaign, seeking a business list one time for contributions and donations to a former Cabinet Minister. He felt no problem with that whatsoever.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I would like to bring to your attention some of the comments that the honourable member for Dartmouth North is bringing into the debate on the hoist. I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, if you believe that perhaps he should be a little more specific and speak in fact to the hoist. He is all over the road map. He is reading from a letter that allegedly the honourable member for Dartmouth South wrote. I am not saying he did or didn't write the letter, but I don't believe that it is relevant, quite frankly.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Thank you. I believe the letter has been tabled. Is that right? (Interruption) Now he has the article that you were quoting from on the table?

MR. PYE: No, the article has not been tabled and I am quite prepared, Mr. Speaker, to table it.

MR. SPEAKER: If you have quoted from it, you should table it, and I would suggest that from time to time the member makes sure that the issues he talks about are relevant to Bill No. 20.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, this issue is quite relevant to Bill No. 20 because it talks about the hoist and reason for the hoist. It talks about why we should have the six months' hoist, so that this kind of action, you know, Nova Scotians can get out there and talk to their government about government restructuring and what is government restructuring all about. That is the single most important thing. (Interruption) Many people in your constituency, I

[Page 3275]

should say the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank is now speaking, he hasn't even told them what is under this bill of government restructuring.

That is the problem, Mr. Speaker, the most important thing here, it has to be recognized that there needs to be a six months' hoist because many Nova Scotians don't know. As a matter of fact, on the weekend, I was speaking with a number of citizens in the community who said, government restructuring, what is that all about? Government doesn't listen to us anymore. Government is taking a corporate agenda. It is taking an agenda that doesn't deliver services to people, and government is not listening to us. So, as a matter of fact, that is quite evident.

As a result, if one looks at the voter turnout in the last general election in Nova Scotia, in 1999, 67 per cent of the eligible voters voted in the 1999 election, of which this Tory Government only received 39 per cent of that vote, and of that 39 per cent of that vote they now think they have a mandate to take on Nova Scotia and to deliver a restructured government that Nova Scotians don't understand and they want to know about. In order for Nova Scotians to know about that restructuring, we need to make sure that we, on this side of the House, at least keep it in abeyance for six months so that Nova Scotians can move forward and hopefully contact their MLAs in their constituencies and their MLAs will bring that to their attention and tell them exactly what is the restructuring in this bill.

Mr. Speaker, I know that many of the members on that side of the floor will not be talking about the government restructuring bill if, in fact, this is supported for a six month period; they will skirt the issue. They will not let their constituents be aware of the kind of impact that this bill has on the direction of government in Nova Scotia. They want to shove this through, and this is the reason why we have been into extended hours. This is the reason why the government has tried to set the agenda of the day, so that they can push this through, ram it through and, with their majority, make sure that this bill gets enacted.

This bill of government restructuring is just a hand-me-down bill from the Province of Ontario, and they are looking at the Province of Ontario with direction on how government takes control of agencies, boards and commissions, Mr. Speaker. That is what that is; this is a hand-me-down bill with fingerprints all over it from all those Cabinet Ministers and advisors in Ontario. As a matter of fact, many citizens believe what will happen is that this will set the pace for reorganization and will allow high-paying unaccountable . . .

[10:15 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The members of this House will be reminded that they are not to be using cell phones in the Legislature.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North has the floor.

[Page 3276]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me a chance to bring myself back down to the Government Restructuring (2001) Bill, and why we agree on the six months' hoist. If we look at it, many citizens are out there saying that this will just allow high-paid, unaccountable appointments to make decisions for Nova Scotians without any consultation. Nova Scotians have said that they want consultation on this Bill No. 20. As a matter of fact, the Tory blue book indicates that, and in the election campaign of 1999, Strong Leadership . . . . a clear course, talked about accountability.

As a matter of fact, they wanted to be accountable. I just want to say that on Page 19 of the Tory campaign blue book, Strong Leadership . . . . a clear curse - I want to quote and I will table this as well, because this is relevant to the six months' amendment - it says:

"The Liberal budget represents only the most recent example that the Liberal government has no respect for the electorate. Their Health Investment Fund -- an off-book accounting gimmick -- goes beyond deception. It illustrates contempt for Nova Scotians. Such an approach to government not only displays a lack of integrity and competence, it undermines public respect for our political system and the integrity of elected representatives. The Liberals have, quite simply, abandoned their responsibility to the electorate and forfeited their right to govern.

We believe Nova Scotians are right to demand greater openness, accountability and participation."

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Government did forfeit their right to govern Nova Scotians, because Nova Scotians, at the polls, did, in fact, elect a Tory Government. That government is over there doing exactly the same thing that it said was the arrogance of the Liberal Government. It did not allow and it is not allowing for public participation; it is not allowing for consultation; and it is not allowing for accountability within Bill No. 20.

Mr. Speaker, that is the reason why we need the hoist. We need the hoist because, of all things, government must be accountable to the electorate. Government has an obligation to inform the electorate, not to be secretive about bills. There are a number of bills that come through this House. I am told that there are some 50 bills on the docket right now, that have to come before this Legislature for approval or for readings. Those 50 bills will go under the scrutiny, much the same as this Government Restructuring (2001) Bill.

Mr. Speaker, many of those bills might end up taking a six months' hoist as well. The six months' hoist allows people who are uninformed about legislation to become informed about legislation. It gives the government the opportunity to travel across this province and inform Nova Scotians about why they introduce bills. That is the same for Private Members' Bills as well. Many Private Members' Bills are put forward by way of consultation. They have consulted with those stakeholders out there in the community to make sure that this bill

[Page 3277]

is what those stakeholders in the community want as a bill, and that it will enhance the quality of life of those individuals. That is exactly what we do over here. We make those kinds of consultations.

This government, simply because it doesn't make those kinds of consultations, we over here, have to use the means within the Legislative Assembly that allow us to challenge the government with respect to the bills it introduces. Some of that can be called filibustering, but it is filibustering for the right reason. It is filibustering because we have to make sure that Nova Scotians don't have legislation passed in rapid succession without being aware of what that legislation is.

The very good reason for the six months' hoist is because of the citizens that I met with on the weekend who are so cynical of government and who think that government no longer listens to them. Government does not care and so what do they do? They retract and they in turn, don't go to exercise their democratic right of casting a ballot, because they believe that it makes no significant difference.

That is what they believe and historically, in the last few years, we have seen that decline. I can assure the member in Cape Breton North that the voter turn out probably has been less than that in the by-election in the last provincial election. Maybe it is because there were a number of high profile individuals in there, that may have actually increased. I am not sure - the voter turn out might have increased in that by-election in that particular area, but it did not increase in Halifax Fairview. As a matter of fact, it was extremely low. People attribute that to bad weather and so on, but people can also attribute that to the level of services the government is delivering.

If government is delivering a good level of service, people will come out and support that government. But people are disaffected from government. They are simply disaffected from government and especially this one. We know that because this particular government didn't even get the opportunity to have a honeymoon. It didn't get the opportunity to have a honeymoon. In its two year mandate, this government has dropped in its popularity in the polls. Oh, just wait and see, the arrogance of this government is similar to, when I first came in this Legislative Assembly, the arrogance of the Liberals. Oh, no, don't worry about it, we are going to get elected, at whatever cost. And they come out with a $670 million health care investment plan, thinking that Nova Scotians would buy that.

This government is thinking another year and a half down the road, maybe two years, but I think it will be more like a year and a half, and they are thinking about giving the taxpayers out there a 10 per cent tax cut. That 10 per cent tax cut has a significant impact on this government restructuring. There is $110 million that may not be accountable in the Treasury of this government. What kinds of services and programs will be cut as a result of that?

[Page 3278]

They think that just simply by funnelling money back into the pocket that somehow that ignites the economy and that the economy starts to drive and flourish. Well, I will tell you it has been consistently trying to happen in the United States, it has not made one significant move yet and for the last five and one-half years in the Province of Ontario, the Ontario Government has consistently been doing it and they are still sticking it to those needy Ontarians who in fact need government for assistance. They are still putting the blame on them as a part of the deficit of Ontario. The deficit, as a matter of fact, of Ontario has not even been erased yet. Let alone the debt. That was supposed to be done in year four, the first term of their mandate. What I want to say is that is the reason that Nova Scotians are cynical, that is the reason why we need a six months' hoist and that is the reason why we need to know what is going on here.

I just want to take a step back with respect to education once again. Yesterday I was at a news conference because the citizens of school closures in Dartmouth North felt that the process was unfair, it was unjust, they didn't have access to information and that is part of government's role, to provide them access to information. School boards are a part of government and provincial governments are a part of government and so are municipal governments. Back to the school board, the school board had an obligation, it had a right, to provide those citizens with the kind of technical information that was needed to make a fair assessment of that school closure. I can tell you it didn't happen in Dartmouth South. All the member for Dartmouth South had to do was use caucus letterhead and write a letter. In Dartmouth South, because you are a member of the government, all of sudden the school closure didn't happen.

Mr. Speaker, I did not retort do that, even during Question Period, to the minister. I did not retort to that kind of thing because I did not feel that, in fact, that was right and I didn't believe that it would even happen. But then when I saw a letter tabled here yesterday and I see an article in a newsletter today, what can one possibly imagine? What can all those citizens who have now faced school closures, and personally I don't believe in school closures unless it can be legitimatized by a solid policy that is set out that brings about the technical information and the financial information that is needed within that policy to justify the school closure.

I don't care if it is in the Dartmouth North constituency or what constituency it is in. As long as it meets the criteria set out for school closure, then we don't have a beef with that. But we do have a beef with in fact government restructuring that allows an individual MLA, because he is caucus chairman, to contravene the level of government and to walk in and because of a letter, threaten the school board and the school board, chairman, who just happens to be a friendly Tory, says that this was just the kind of thing that possibly wouldn't happen. This is the kind of thing that, under restructuring, would not happen, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, I wonder if the member would permit an introduction?

[Page 3279]

MR. PYE: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we have a number of important young people in our east gallery today. They are recipients of the Wendy's Classic Achiever Scholarship. It is a program that began five years ago here in Halifax and it is designed to recognize students involved in academics, athletics, their school community and their community at large. So the way it works is principals of every school in the Maritimes are asked to nominate one male and one female student, who they feel are outstanding classic achievers. They get points based on their various clubs, sports, academics and community groups they are involved in.

From over 280 nominees in the Maritimes, that list is narrowed to 36 semi-finalists and then to 12 finalists, all of whom receive a $1,000 scholarship and each of the finalist schools also receives a $1,000 grant. The two top winners, one male and one female, each receive an additional $5,000 scholarship at the awards ceremony on May 12th. The students are accompanied by Sharon Reid of the Wendy's Scholarship Program, she is the manager, and John Talbot, the marketing manager, as well as some of their parents.

With the indulgence of the House, I would like to name all the award winners from the Maritimes. They are Travis Anderson from Parrsboro, perhaps you could stand as I call your name, Abby Astle from Boiestown, New Brunswick; Keir Campbell from Kensington, P.E.I.; Patricia Doyle from Sydney; Allen Furlong, Quispamsis, N.B.; Tracy George from Sydney; Johnathan Harris from Greenwood; David Hirtle from Briggs Corner, N.B.; Nikki Hoffman from Oxford N.S.; Tyler Johnston from Dartmouth; Toven MacLean from Windsor; and Amanda Noble from Yarmouth. So if you could all rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you and welcome to all our guests.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would also like to welcome the awardees to this debate on the six months' hoist of government restructuring. I think it is important that they are here today. As a matter of fact, I just want to go back to this letter and the article in the newspaper where it says there appeared to be bullying by the caucus chairman, and that is the member for Dartmouth South. I also want to say that it is easy when government can influence those appointees who sit on government boards, agencies or commissions, that they can carry the directive of government's agenda and they can carry that directive into the hearts and souls of all Nova Scotians. They have such a significant impact on how that is going to affect the daily lives of all Nova Scotians across this province.

[Page 3280]

[10:30 a.m.]

I think it is significantly important to recognize that, Mr. Speaker, and that is why this six months' hoist is significantly important. It is because this kind of thing needs to be seen as fair. It needs to be seen as above-board. It needs to be seen that government is, in itself, accountable and it is accountable not only by the Opposition members, but it is accountable by every single member who is elected to this Legislative Assembly. My heart and soul goes out to those individuals who, despite paying their taxes and property taxes and their contribution to education under a mandatory contribution through their property tax and an unmandatory contribution because of the community that they live in, still have to go out there and fundraise to raise thousands of dollars to hire legal representation to take the regional school board to court on a policy and on a regulation that the school board should automatically know has been flawed and it ought not to have been tinkered with in the way that the school board did.

The school board even decided that it was inappropriate action to go through what was called family of schools. Many communities don't know families of schools. They don't know that a high school and then all the elementary schools surrounding it are junior highs, surrounding in that particular defined area is considered a family of schools. They just know the school in which their child goes to school. They become a part of the Parent-Teacher Association. They become a part of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association. They become a part of that school because they love it and that school is a part of their community. Then government sends the kind of directive that it is now sending out, it sends a clear signal that restructuring of this government will never be the same. What you see today is not what you are going to get tomorrow.

Mr. Speaker, when I walk the streets in my constituency that is what people tell me. People are sick and tired of that happening at the federal level and people are sick and tired of that happening at the provincial level. They have watched restructuring of government under the former Liberal Government. They are now watching restructuring of government under the present Tory Government and no one is better off. That is the sad commentary.

We now have health boards, we have nine, I believe it is, nine regional health authorities. They are not called health boards any more, they are called health authorities. Those nine regional health authorities are in locations such as: Digby, Clare, Yarmouth and Shelburne is District Health Authority 2; District Health Authority 3 is Kings, Annapolis; District Health Authority 5 is Cumberland; District Health Authority 6 is Pictou; District Health Authority 7 is Antigonish-Guysborough-Strait-Richmond; District Health Authority 8 is Cape Breton; and District Health Authority 9 is actually the capital region, which is right here, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 3281]

I can assure you that the appointments to those health authority boards will have influence by the directive of government. They will make sure that there is sufficient influence. Do you know why? Because the amount of money that now goes to those nine regional health authorities will be money that will be put into a bag, or transported off by an armoured truck. It might be Brinks, it might be another armoured agency, I don't know which one, but it will be sent off to that health authority and that health authority will have to live within its means. It will have to divvy up those dollars the Minister of Health says is the amount of money for your fiscal year of 2001-02.

Mr. Speaker, in the event of an emergency, and that money is already tightly knit there is nowhere for that money to go and then the decision will be what is going to happen to deliver the kind of health care in this particular region. If the minister says he has no money and he has a majority of people who carry the same agenda as the government in power, then they have the authority to turn around and play havoc on the delivery of health care in that region, significant delivery of health care in that region.

As a matter of fact, they have now had the influences, particularly in Truro. I remember when the Ladies Auxiliary of, I believe, the Colchester Regional Hospital in Truro, actually fundraised for a bone densitometer and they raised the money. They actually bought it. This minister, for some time, continued to refuse to allow that bone densitometer to be located in that Colchester Regional Hospital. He said the reason for that is because we do not have the technicians - that was the quote - to operate that piece of equipment and we need qualified technicians to do that. He didn't say, well, it is our job to go out there and get those qualified technicians. He didn't say that at all.

Under this restructuring, Mr. Speaker, citizens can come out in Truro-Bible Hill and speak about that. Citizens in Cape Breton, I believe you will have to forgive me, but the Cape Breton Regional Hospital doesn't have a bone densitometer. As a matter of fact, in Nova Scotia there are only three and that is only because of the most recent one in Truro. There is one here in Halifax and there is one in Lunenburg. There is a waiting list of over 5,000 people waiting for a bone densitometer. But because of restructuring of government and because government will have a handle and they will have the control of that, then the citizens of that community will not be able to determine, even if they do the fundraising, and they do raise enough money.

I thought that a bone densitometer was one of these huge, expensive items. Now I do know that expense is relative to what you can consider within your realm of economics, but for a hospital piece of equipment, $100,000 is insignificant and $100,000 is what will purchase you a bone densitometer. It will purchase that for the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. It will be able to furnish one for the Strait-Richmond Hospital. It will be able to furnish one for the Yarmouth Regional Hospital. In New Brunswick, there are eight bone densitometers. In Newfoundland, I believe, there are somewhere around six. In Nova Scotia, there are only three and that is only because of the one that was fundraised by the Ladies

[Page 3282]

Auxiliary in Truro that now will be found a technician and now hopefully will be able to address it.

Government restructuring has lost the faith of seniors. Seniors are certainly aware of what this government has done to them. Seniors are very much aware because government has decided to step in on the Seniors' Secretariat and, Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact, tried to set the rates this year with respect to an increase in Pharmacare. No one knows that, but I do and I do know that in the Seniors' Secretariat, they told them, in no uncertain terms, there will be no increases in Pharmacare this year, not the rate, nor the co-pay because we will not support it and we will not endorse it. The Group of Nine did that, despite government's interference or trying to interfere in the decision making of that Group of Nine's decision-making position.

That is the kind of thing, Mr. Speaker, that you have to realize is how far will this government infiltrate those boards, agencies and commissions? I know that there is an advertisement out there, and I am sure that many Nova Scotians are wanting to make application to be a part of these boards, agencies and commissions. Those applications will go to the Human Resources Committee; those applications will come with names endorsing those individuals to sit on those agencies, boards and commissions.

Many of those individuals may not know that their time may be short. They may be making application through these agencies, boards and commissions now, but if government decides to amalgamate or to join some of these agencies, boards and commissions, and decides that it will set the agendas for these agencies, boards and commissions simply because it provides funding to many of those agencies, boards and commissions, then we have the nucleus of a government that has decided how it will run Nova Scotia, and not necessarily in the best interests of Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance sets a budget each and every year, and that budget is set down each and every year with the consultation of the ministers of every department. That budget is set down as a direction on how this government is going to go, where this government is going to move in a fiscal year. That agenda also sets the tone of how this government is going to operate. You can actually visualize - which took me some time, I must say, but mind you I have only been here for a short period of time - how these budgets are structured. You can actually see how government is trending itself toward the future. You just simply have to look at the budgets and where the biggest dollars are going into what budgets, and how much cutbacks have affected those budgets over the period of years, and if, in fact, that kind of budget is going to deliver the programs and services that are needed.

Mr. Speaker, that, too, is all about government restructuring. It says in there, I think it also mentions the Policy and Treasury Board. The Treasury Board deals with financial matters, and the Policy Board deals with the direction on which of that money is going to be

[Page 3283]

spent, as well the all-encompassing policies that are going to affect the lives of many Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, if there is one reason why I am here, and if there is one reason why my Party is here, that is because we have to let Nova Scotians know we are here to make the government accountable for its actions. That is why we are here, and that is why we have been elected by Nova Scotians. That is why we are here. That government continues to say that is why they are here, but the path is very short. It has the same arrogance as the former Liberal Government when I came to this Legislative Assembly in 1998. I remember the great things they were going to do. I remember the $670 million health care investment fund. The Minister of Finance is aware of that.

That same government was going to fix all those ills with $46 million. What a contrast, $460 million and $46 million, what is that, 10 per cent of $460 million that they were going to fix all the ills of the health care. This the kind of direction that Nova Scotians can't get their handle on. They can't get their mind on it simply because they don't understand where government is going. Government speaks out of both sides of its mouth at the same time. That is the reason why people are turned off, and voters are turned off with politicians. I, for one, don't care if I am one person in this Legislative Assembly, I try to make sure that whoever I represent is going to get fair value for their dollar, and that they are, at least, going to get the consultation, and they are going to get the opportunity to know and understand the bills that come before this Legislative Assembly, even if it requires a public meeting in a community hall.

That is what it takes. It requires a public meeting in a community hall. I don't understand how many of the members on that government side who have been involved in municipal government, who have been involved in professional careers, who know and understand the importance of consultation, who know and understand the importance of feedback by the stakeholders and every single electorate out there is a stakeholder. They are a stakeholder because of the myriad of programs that are delivered by this government. That is what they have. They have that. I just want to make a step with respect to the Department of Community Services. Less than a year ago, I believe in the fall of 2000, we had the Minister of Community Services restructure the Department of Social Services. It was called Bill No. 62 if anyone remembers, and that Bill No. 62 set out - in my opinion and it is yet to be realized - some very harsh penalties for some very needy Nova Scotians. Very needy Nova Scotians will not know that and that is because it was set out by the secretive agenda of an internal department that, in fact, would not tell needy Nova Scotians or Nova Scotians that need the Department of Community Services anything until after June.

[Page 3284]

[10:45 a.m.]

That might be just when this House rises. That might be the reason why the House Leader is trying to push Bill No. 20 through, the Government Restructuring (2001) Bill, that might be just the very reason. There are many unanswered questions with respect to Community Services. Community Services has not gone out to this community yet with respect to the Kendrick report. It has now told us in this Legislative Assembly that will unfold over a five to ten year period. No longer is it going to turn around and speed up that process. An individual with such a high reputation, such credentials, the curriculum vitae of this individual is such that it warrants a kind of a more positive response from the Department of Community Services than it is receiving right now.

I do know that, hopefully, Mr. Kendrick will be back here at the end of May and that he will have consultation because government chose not to - with people in the community, those stakeholders - and he will set an agenda for this government on what he thinks are the most important issues that should be addressed by government.

Government can do that quite easily. They don't have to unfold this over a 5 to 10 year period. I have been in government here long enough and many of my colleagues have been as well and we know that those non-monetary items can be flushed out. Those non-monetary items that are significant to the Kendrick report that can have a positive effect on those individuals with disabilities can certainly be flushed out and it can be brought forward now.

The monetary items you can debate over, but there is no need for a 10 year period. The government has the money, it has the agenda and if it doesn't have the money, I would question as to why it is going to give Nova Scotians a 10 per cent tax cut when it starts the campaign trail. What do you think that is? That is buying Nova Scotians with their own money. That is what it is. It has already taxed Nova Scotians to the hilt, it has taxed Nova Scotians to the point of $110 million through user fees. That will continue forever and a day. This government has no intention of relinquishing those user fees. Those user fees just happen to be almost equivalent to the $110 million that they are going to give back to Nova Scotians in year four as a tax cut. If you look in the Tory blue book, it will tell you that is the cost of this 10 per cent tax cut.

That is the reason why we need government restructuring. Allow me to tell you that when each and every one of those people get the 10 per cent tax cut, that will reduce revenue to government, contrary to this notion that all of a sudden revenue has increased because people spend the money and it flows through an economy. It is called Economics 101. Well sometimes Economics 101 just doesn't reflect the kind of picture that it does in theory. In practice it is quite different.

[Page 3285]

Lots of things ought to work in theory, but in practice they don't and the practice is that if you give people money, they have already been indebted themselves or are in the process of at least 5 to 10 years of trying to pay back their debt or trying to get ahead. Even with that 10 per cent, they can't get ahead, because all of sudden, you know what happens, Mr. Speaker? User fees start dipping in again because government does not have the cash flow, user fees start dipping in and those kind of user fees are user fees such as recreational needs, public transportation and all hit hard on the people who fact, are on fixed incomes.

Mr. Speaker, it is those kind of people I have the time of day for; those are the people I stand in this Legislative Assembly and talk about government restructuring because it is those individuals who, in fact, don't know what hit them until government has actually implemented the bill and the legislation. It is only then that those individuals, know what hit them, and then it is far too late because government turns around and says, well, we don't have the money.

Just here last week, Mr. Speaker, we looked at what was happening in Ontario, where Ontario was going ever farther into hitting the most vulnerable of its province by accusing them of any particular debts that it might have. Ontario is a province that they are the engine that drives the economy of Canada and yet it is talking about taking alcoholics off of the welfare roll, and illiterate individuals. It is saying that if you don't engage in a program, then you will get no social assistance. Since when did the social safety net in this country get an ultimate decision by a provincial government, simply because the Liberal Government decided to split some of its responsibility and pass it down onto provinces because provinces demanded it?

Now we see the kind of action that is happening in provinces as a result of having that power to do it. It is unthinkable, Mr. Speaker, but as I stand in this Legislative Assembly, there are some 49 food banks in the Province of Alberta, the Province of Alberta that doesn't have a provincial sales tax.

MR. BARRY BARNET: There are more than that.

MR. PYE: The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank says more than that; I would certainly hope not. Mr. Speaker, that is the reason why we need this restructuring, because that is the kind of thing that happens. That is the kind of thing that happens when governments decide that it has the role and responsibility of delivering whatever programs and services it wants without consultation of Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, just think about it. Alberta, in five years, will not have a debt. It has eliminated its deficit. It has no provincial sales tax and intends to give back every single . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Socialist policies.

[Page 3286]

MR. PYE: So the thing is, is you still have food banks. Now socialist policies or not, Mr. Speaker, the problem is there needs to be a balance. We support communities and we support business and we have a number of businesses who support our Party. Quite frankly a lot of the members on both sides of the House, both the Third Party and the Party in the power, may not want to believe that, but that in fact is true. We have an awful lot of people who don't believe the kind of agenda that is going on.

All you have to do is look at the association of those organizations and where they set themselves. There are a tremendous number of major corporations that, in fact, have an understanding about social policy; a far greater understanding, some of them, than governments do, and a greater commitment. There are a number of foundations who recognize that government can't and will not deliver some programs, so those foundations come from major corporations. They are set up by major corporations to help those individuals and communities that need to have money, and that is a result of government not delivering its services, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, another reason why this bill, Bill No. 20, ought to be delayed for six months, or at least a six months' hoist ought to be placed on this, is because there are some 21,000 NSGEU employees out there who don't know what effect this restructuring bill is going to have on their collective bargaining. There is now going to be a Public Service Commission and that Public Service Commission is going to have an appointed commissioner. I can assure you that that appointed commissioner might very well end up being a friend of government. Because you are a friend of government doesn't mean that you shouldn't get the appointment, no, but I can tell you that the agenda that is set by the government will probably be the agenda set by this commissioner as well, and this commissioner will be expected to toe the line.

Some 21,000 NSGEU employees, who are in the health care services, who are in government administrative services, who are in the Department of Transportation and Public Works, all those individuals have serious and grave concerns with respect to how the collective bargaining process is going to take place after this government restructures. There are 21,000 NSGEU employees out there directly and indirectly. I want to make it clear, they may not all be directly within the Province of Nova Scotia Government's employ, but they are within government-funded agencies, like universities, like other agencies that are out there funded by government, and in fact make up that 21,000 employees. Every one of them, whether they are here or not.

We all know about the long arm of government. We have seen it through wage and price controls. Remember the wage controls. It was not only a wage freeze, but it was also a wage rollback. Now you have a commissioner who might very well set that kind of an agenda. (Interruptions) Certainly did, and I was one of those in that university community who got nailed. That is one of the very good reasons why I ran, because I didn't want that kind of government that, in fact, dictated to me, after negotiating a collective agreement, the

[Page 3287]

right to have a collective agreement. (Interruptions) I didn't have to look for a job, I can assure you of that.

Mr. Speaker, I want you to know that when I took my leave of absence from that university to run for this political office, it was the best move I have ever made. The Party that I represent, it gave us the opportunity to stand here and debate the legislative agendas of this government. It made us accountable and it is for us to make this government accountable. That is why we believe in a six months' hoist. We believe in that six months' hoist because we believe that not only we who stand in this Legislative Assembly ought to be able to debate this legislation, but every single Nova Scotian who this government restructuring may have an impact on their lives have a right to also be consulted. They have a right to participate in legislation.

That is what participatory democracy is all about. It is not only about getting oneself elected and being in this Legislative Assembly, it is about going out there in the community, seeking public input into the good kind of legislation and the good kind of bills and the good kind of government that they rightfully deserve. That is what this is all about. We can argue back and forth all day. We can do that, and we can do that until we are blue in the face, but the bottom line is that when we stand on this floor on this side of the Legislature, we stand here because we are here for all Nova Scotians. We are here for Nova Scotians who do not fully understand the bill.

I want to get back to all those public servants. There has been this hue and cry that government has to reduce the level of services. In all my years of being involved in government, I must be associating with a different community than most members of this Legislature, because everyone wants, first of all, the best level of government they can get, they want programs and services delivered, and they want to be able to pick up a phone and have someone on the end of it. That is what they want to happen. They want to have someone on the end of that line, they want to know that someone is there for them. As a result of reductions in government, they haven't had that personal touch. They feel isolated and they feel out of place.

Mr. Speaker, when I harken back to when we had the Corporate Research Associates do a poll and we had found that 44 per cent of Nova Scotians out there believe the number one priority is health care. I can understand why the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, the Leader of our Party is, in fact, continuing to carry this agenda every single day. He continues to carry this agenda every single day, because he hears from citizens from one end of this province to the other about the deterioration of health care and there is more to come. The music has not stopped with respect to the cry out there on the kind of health care that people are receiving today in the delivery of health care. There are individuals who say, well, you know, privatization of health care is going to happen. It is inevitable. We don't believe that it is inevitable at all. We believe that with the kind of cash flow and money and with the

[Page 3288]

right kind of economy and taking advantage of your economy, Mr. Speaker, that we in fact can increase the revenue in this province and deliver those health care services.

[11:00 a.m.]

The number two issue, Mr. Speaker, is in fact education. Education is significantly important. If you read the Voluntary Planning Report on Education in Nova Scotia, we have a long way to go. We certainly have a long way to go and that is not criticism of the teachers federation of Nova Scotia. That is criticism with respect to the inability to properly fund an education system, an education system whereby individuals have to go out and fundraise for such things as paper, pencils and so on. An individual who doesn't partake in fundraising, get this, and this is government restructuring, and that is the reason why we have got to look at this whole picture, an individual who lives in a community that may not enable that young student or child to go out there and fundraise on behalf of his school ends up sitting in the classroom. They don't participate in the adventures that go on out there. That is most unfortunate.

Mr. Speaker, this government is aware that every time, particularly in the Halifax Regional School Board, they give those dollars, they know that there is another supplementary funding coming forward from this region and so, therefore, it takes a step backwards and doesn't give the regional school board, in my opinion, the adequate funding that it needs. The Halifax Regional Municipality I think this year has hit a population of 400,000 people. Much of that is individuals who may have migrated from the Cape Breton area and, particularly, the Cape Breton East region, Cape Breton South and the Cape Breton North region simply because of the jobs, because of the economy and because of this government's inability to do anything about that and that is what they would like to talk about during restructuring.

They would like to be able to talk about government restructuring and where is the Economic Development Department in this and what kind of economic development is being delivered across this province, the kind of economic development that will, in fact, create high paid jobs or even jobs, most importantly, that will be funnelled into the Treasury of the government, that then we will have money to pay for the programs and deliver the programs.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that it is important to be here to make sure that we support this hoist for six months so that each and every Nova Scotian will get the opportunity to sit in that community hall, or that fire hall, or that church hall, so that that individual gets the opportunity to hear from government just exactly what this government restructuring bill is all about.

[Page 3289]

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in my place and make a number of observations with regard to this six months' hoist on Bill No. 20, an Act to Restructure the Government of Nova Scotia. At the outset, I have to concur with many of the presentations that have been made before the House on this particular piece of legislation to date. It all comes down to, in my view, the lack of confidence that the people of Nova Scotia have in this government on the amount of detail that has been provided so that members of the House, in particular Opposition members, would be able to make a proper, fair, detailed and complete assessment of the implications of Bill No. 20.

Mr. Speaker, to reiterate a point I made on a previous day, some of the significant factors I believe that really haven't been disclosed or discussed to date are with regard to the recommendations that were made by Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations to Planning and Priorities, which is essentially the originating body of this particular piece of legislation. That is the heart and soul of government in terms of determining the tone and direction of what government will be doing in future plans and where it would like to take the administration of the people's needs, issues, policy initiatives and financial measures in future days, weeks and years ahead.

But, unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations has, for whatever reason, been dragging his feet on this particular issue. He has, for all the evidence that points to it, been very reluctant - I believe somewhat intentionally reluctant - to provide that information, despite the fact of a commitment that was made during the budgetary process and during a presentation before the Public Accounts Committee by representatives from his department, dating back to March 21st.

So, Mr. Speaker, we have been waiting for this information for almost two months. Now if this was a freedom of information request, I think the freedom of information officer would have certainly come down and ruled rather harshly against the government. Being somewhat fair-minded, we expected the government to live up to its legal and moral obligations. That having been said, that is perhaps one of the primary reasons we would like to see this six months' hoist put in place so that we, as representatives for Nova Scotians, would have an opportunity to be able to determine whether these recommendations that were made by Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations to P&P do have a significant impact as to whether the government is making the right decision or the wrong decision.

Mr. Speaker, ironically, the government has only been willing to state something of a somewhat superfluous nature on the big scheme of things, and that is the fact that one of the recommendations made by Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations is the closing of the Government Bookstore. That is very minor compared with some of the issues that we are dealing with here. The fact that the government, after having gone through a rather extensive consultation through this red tape task force last year (Interruption) and I hear one honourable

[Page 3290]

member say, good members were on the committee. Well, I am sure they very well could be, but the darnedest thing is the Red Tape Reduction Task Force Interim Report, dated November 2000. Where is the final report?

It is rather disappointing that we now have a piece of legislation before the House, restructuring government in its entirety and the final recommendations from this committee haven't even been forthcoming, despite the fact that one of the primary objectives was to make recommendations to P&P on the reduction of red tape in government and a number of other issues.

Now it is rather strange, Mr. Speaker, when you look at some of the representatives that sat on this particular committee. We have the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, we have the member for King West, the member for Eastern Shore, the member for Yarmouth and the member for Kings South. Now, ironically, Mr. Speaker, all five of them were Conservative backbenchers. Now I know it is difficult for the Premier to kind of keep these members in tow, given the fact that the government doesn't seem to be keeping them well informed on what is happening in government, so they send them on this little mission to make it look like they are doing something for government. Well, let's give them the benefit of the doubt and see how this impacts on Bill No. 20 and why it would be so important to ask for this six months' hoist.

This is the premise by which they start. They come to the conclusion that the Public Service, this is the government's interpretation of what the public receives presently, ". . . endless forms, endless delays, surly service, too many regulations, illogical rules, poor information, endless games of phone tag." This is what representatives from the government say the people of Nova Scotia are receiving. One of these members, since the preparation of this interim report, was, in fact now appointed to the Executive Council - the member for Kings South is now the Minister of Environment and Labour. He would describe our public servants as, according to Webster's Dictionary: arrogant in manner or overbearing, domineering, haughty, impervious, ill-natured, abrupt and rude.

Now is that what the honourable government members think of our Public Service, Mr. Speaker? That will show the contempt and the arrogance of the government when it comes to try to sell a bill of goods for political purposes. All we have to do is look at some additional factors that were considered in this particular report that were, in fact, supposed to be recommendations to P&P. One of the initial recommendations of the process was that the government should implement the recommendations of The Licences, Permits, and Applications (LPA) task force. Well, that sounds fairly straightforward and I believe there have been some gains made on that.

Mr. Speaker, on the next entity, it says, "Enforce regulations, but don't treat businesses as adversaries . . . We believe it is time to move towards a more collaborative, constructive approach to enforcing regulations . . . time to acknowledge that everyone wants a safe

[Page 3291]

workplace and the best way to achieve that is through co-operation." Well, the words are pretty shallow when we see the actions of the government when it comes to Bill No. 20. The recommendation by the government to destroy the independence of the Workers' Compensation Board for political purposes is one of the primary reasons that we in Opposition will oppose Bill No. 20 in its present form and recommend that it be sent for a six months' hoist.

Mr. Speaker, one of the members of this committee, who, in fact, is now the minister responsible for that particular issue, through political manipulation, has interfered with the safety laws of this province, seeing inspectors issue orders equivalent to orders of the court, only to have those inspectors rescind those orders under political pressure, on not one occasion, but on several occasions. It is well documented. In fact, those orders that were issued, particularly with the Valley Regional Hospital and Yarmouth Regional Hospital, those orders were issued in strict compliance with the laws and the regulations of the Province of Nova Scotia. His department, under the minister's supervision, ordered those inspectors orders be rescinded, contravening the laws of the province. You wonder why we would want a six months' hoist.

[11:15 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, this restructuring bill is very dangerous for Nova Scotia. It will politicize one of the most sacred entities that we have to protect the workers of this province. I certainly don't want to repeat some of the points that I made during the referral to a committee issue but it is quite clear, what the government wants to do is to go back to the days of John Buchanan where a minister had direct control over the board, direct control over who would get workers' compensation benefits and who would not. It completely destroyed the financial security as well as the confidence in the system, notwithstanding the fact that in many cases it severely impeded on the safety and the well-being of the lives of many Nova Scotians, if not destroyed some of those, and documented evidence came before this House, came before several committees of the Legislature, that would clearly demonstrate that, because of the political interference under the Tory Regime, people's lives could very well have been destroyed.

Now this government, still embedded with some of that Buchananite material, for the lack of a better phrase, is now looking to go back and purge that financial security that was put in place after 1993. They would love to get their grubby paws on that $0.5 billion fund, Mr. Speaker, for political purposes, but I tell you, industry and labour in this province will not sit quietly and allow Bill No. 20 to go through in its present form. The Minister of Environment and Labour cannot even stand in his place and defend a simple Opposition resolution on occupational health and safety, but rather with his childish, coyish, flippant remarks, while people are out there being hurt, maimed and injured with the concern that the safety laws of Nova Scotia, the enforcement agencies and the regulatory bodies that they need and they count on are not there.

[Page 3292]

Mr. Speaker, that is why there has to be a second sober thought on this particular piece of legislation. Just the other day we received notice that one industry that the government has been quite favourable to over the last number of months, Amherst Fabricators, received a total of 26 inspectors' orders, with 14 inspections and nine on-site visits, not one prosecution, not one prosecution. When the Labour inspector wanted to proceed in that direction to protect the employees of that industry, what did the minister and his staff do, senior government staff? They yanked that inspector off the site and that sent a very dangerous message to the entire Safety Division of the Department of Environment and Labour. Inspectors now don't even know if they should go to a work site, should they issue an order, should they issue a notice for some violation with an intent to prosecute, or should they just wait for another signal from the minister's office because he may or may not have determined that individual would be a friend of the government.

This is probably the most dangerous piece of legislation that is before the House of Assembly in this session if not the entire domain of this government. I am sure each and every MLA, irrespective of what side of the House they are on, when an employee comes to them looking for some justice, once this workers' compensation system has been politicized once again, then they will feel the wrath.

Even more so, let's think, God forbid if we could ever think like the government, let's put money as the primary motivating factor on their desire to pull the Workers' Compensation Board under the domain of Treasury and Policy Board, politicizing this board.

What will happen is the cost to employers, their premiums will increase. Right now, the average rate provincially is $2.54 of which 72 cents goes towards the unfunded liability. It was a 45 year plan that we in government put in place and all indications are that unfunded liability will be wiped out by the year 2010 - in another nine years that will be wiped out. So what happens? The government is now in a position to start going and purging that account. The savings that would have been derived from the paydown of that unfunded liability, the sustainability of that account, will now be compromised.

Right now the government could send a clear signal to the Workers' Compensation Board to establish a fair and moderate balance for both employees, injured workers and the employers by asking the board to reduce the premiums by 10 or 15 cents. It still wouldn't compromise the integrity of that paydown on the unfunded liability. We would still be on target, well ahead of target by more than 50 per cent. Instead of paying it down in 45 years, we would be paying it down in about 20 years. Not only that, but it is an opportunity to address some of the pay inequity for injured workers because the pay scales for some of them are obsolete.

We devised a plan. I remember when I was Minister of Labour at that time, we took the initiative that all firms from outside of Nova Scotia would not be given that special envelope, that special privilege of having to not pay Workers' Compensation premiums for

[Page 3293]

six months. We brought it down to five working days. They come into the province, they set up a business, they get a contract, work on any job site in Nova Scotia - within five days they have to be registered to pay premiums in Nova Scotia. We raised tens of millions of dollars by that one policy initiative that didn't do anything but help industry and labour in Nova Scotia.

That will be compromised under that nepotistic approach to public policy. A six months' hoist would certainly allow a lot of the stakeholders from across the province to come and make presentation in the appropriate channels so as to ensure that what they themselves have invested in - this is not taxpayers' money, this is money that belongs to industry and labour. Why in the name of heavens the government wants to politicize it? The taxpayers were already forced to put money into this system to help kickstart the paydown on the unfunded liability and now if it goes back under the domain of politics, we are going to see a major compromise. I have spoken to major stakeholders in this province, industry and labour, and they are totally, totally opposed to this piece of legislation. It makes no sense. It makes no sense from a public policy point of view, from a safety point of view, from an industry point of view, from a labour point of view. This is absolutely ludicrous what this government is proposing to do.

We saw the presentation that was made before the Law Amendments Committee last year by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business on this particular issue, when it came to bringing in the sunset clause, Mr. Speaker. They openly and strongly opposed what the government was doing on the occupational health and safety sunset clause that was brought in. They recognized by having the process that we put in place was actually saving industry, they themselves were saving money. For those members of the House who may not be familiar with that process, it is quite simple.

The Occupational Health and Safety Division within the Department of Environment and Labour is funded in large measure by industry. Government pays a small percentage, I am not sure if it is 10 per cent or 15 per cent, it might be 20 per cent, somewhere in that range. But what happens is the Minister of Environment and Labour would make a request to Cabinet to order the Workers' Compensation Board to provide all the funding for that division within the Department of Environment and Labour for its operation and day-to-day routine activities. Now, at the end of the year there would be an assessment done as to what saving would be achieved in industry, from an employer point of view, as a result of that appropriation of approximately $4 million a year.

Consistently, Mr. Speaker, industry always had a net saving of between $2 million and $3 million. In other words, the total saving, because of preventable accidents in the marketplace, on the job site, was approximately $7 million. So if you take off the $4 million charge, industry was actually saving money. Now, since they brought in the sunset clause, the minister's own report shows that the number of lost claims, the preventable time injuries has gone up and the cost to industry has gone up. That's what boggles the mind. That boggles

[Page 3294]

my mind as to why anyone would want to destroy a system that is successful. It can't be for anything other than politics.

They will rue the day, Mr. Speaker, because without that six months' hoist and allowing all the appropriate stakeholders to come and voice their opinion, this is what I predict. The government will ram this through, take control of the workers' compensation system. Within a year, maybe a few months, before an election, they will go and unilaterally say to industry, we are going to drop the rates to industry by 10 per cent.

Do you know, Mr. Speaker, they can do it but the board can do it right now as well. But under independent, prudent management, they are balancing between eliminating the unfunded liability and being able to give maximum benefits to the injured workers. What will happen here, this will all be done down in the Cabinet Room with no independence, the government will have unilaterally taken control of industry's $0.5 billion fund and politicized it. That is the reality.

[11:30 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, this is politics, crass and nasty and underhanded, in its worst form. All I can say is Senator John Buchanan would be proud of this lot today, because at the rate they are going I doubt if they could even balance the budget on a fudge sale. It is not good. Looking over . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The member did use the word underhanded. I would remind the member that that is use of unparliamentary language, and I would ask him to retract it please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACKINNON: I will certainly withdraw that and replace it with not up on the table. Another issue is obviously the issue with regard to the liquor stores. Now we are going to allow liquor outlets, establishments to be set up in drug stores, but let's not despair. You wonder why we would want a six months' hoist, let's not despair. The unique process that the government is setting up here, you just don't look at one piece of legislation here, you have to look at couple, maybe three or four before you really get a flavour for what they are trying to do here. It is not just drug stores where the liquor outlets will go, but refer over to Clause 12, Section 5, where it states, the Liquor Corporation ". . . has the capacity, rights, powers and privileges of a natural person to do anything that the Corporation considers necessary or convenient for, or incidental or conducive to, the carrying . . . of objects . . ."

Really what they are saying, in a very convoluted form, is they can set up liquor outlets in corner stores. That is next. That is what they are saying, and they don't have to go back. They don't have to go back for public scrutiny or to the present structure we have now,

[Page 3295]

because it won't be there. This is the thin edge of the wedge. The liquor outlets will now be in corner stores and grocery stores across this province. That is the first step, and that will be the end result. Government will do anything for a fast buck. That is the way it is coming down. They are going to purge industry's account, as I would have suggested on a previous day, they will surreptitiously remove it without the knowledge, approval or authorization, in any way, shape or form of industry. I am being kind to the government on that.

Mr. Speaker, it is all about process, and doing what is right. Look at what is happening. Talking about restructuring, government, last year, in its Financial Measures (2001) Act, gave the Minister of Finance the authorization, the power to order all government agencies, commissions, school boards, municipal entities, everything to come under the same financial computer systems as the Province of Nova Scotia. Within a month after that bill was passed, the Minister of Finance issued a directive to the Minister of Education requesting that all school boards across the province go on-line with the government's computer programming system, SAP.com.

Mr. Speaker, I have spoken to several of those boards and some interesting things came out of that. When the representatives from the Halifax Regional School Board were here before the Public Accounts Committee the other day, they let some very interesting information out for the members of the Public Accounts Committee, and indeed all Nova Scotians. Mr. David Reid, the Superintendent, indicated that going on to this common system would actually save money and make things more efficient and effective. But what he didn't say, that is a very veiled reference to what the government actually wants to do, because when we reference what Mr. Reid also said is that he met with the Deputy Minister of Education, who proposed to take over facilities in transportation at the Halifax Regional School Board.

Now the picture is getting a little clearer, isn't it? You wonder why we would want a six months' hoist.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, it's obvious, its obvious.

MR. MACKINNON: My colleague to my right says, no, it is not wonder, it is obvious. Perhaps he is absolutely correct on that. I did a little more research to find out if maybe my fears were just fears and they were ill-founded on Bill No. 20. I said there is something wrong, there is something wrong with the big picture here, that we have custodians out on the street for the last seven weeks, the school board is saying we want them in and we have applied for a mediator, and you talk to the striking custodians, you come to the conclusion there is little reason for both parties not to be agreeing.

Let's look at the detail. What the Halifax Regional School Board didn't tell the government, didn't tell members of the Legislature, didn't tell the custodians was that they had devised, the same day they asked for a mediator, a 10 day communication strategy to

[Page 3296]

publicize their position on this entire issue. If they had that much confidence in the process, why would they be wasting thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money on a communication strategy, running expensive ads in The Chronicle-Herald and The Daily News? (Interruptions) That is correct.

Mr. Speaker, let's go one step further. We see in recent days, school groups from Northbrook and Notting Park saying that they are going to sue the school board for not following proper process. The member for Dartmouth South raised the same concern when it came to Alderney Elementary School, and he was going to challenge the school board, if they were to close Alderney Elementary School, for violating the Education Act. I said to myself, how could that be? The school board is doing everything it was supposed to do.

Here is where it gets really interesting. Do you know what happened? After the process was put in place, starting September 30th, unbeknownst to the parents' groups, the school board changed the rules. They changed the rules. I did some research and I find that the policy for the review of facilities for permanent closure was changed after the process started. That is like saying you are going to get fined for speeding, 100 kilometres in the 50-kilometre zone, but before we get to court we are going to change that so that it is a 100-kilometre zone, so you don't have to go to court.

It doesn't work that way. There is mischief at play here. There is mischief, and I would suggest all the more reason for the six months' hoist. I would suggest that somebody should be held legally accountable at the Halifax Regional School Board for changing the policy and the procedures after the process for closure has started.

The policy, if you look on the Web site, is dated June 23, 1998 and they have all the policies outlined, from start to finish, and they also have . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is just a little too much noise in the Chamber. The member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, would you like me to speak a little louder?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MR. MACKINNON: Yes, okay. Mr. Speaker, by September 30th, all the parents' groups were supposed to have been notified of the process. Now this is very concerning. This is a legal issue. I believe that the Halifax Regional School Board has violated the laws of Nova Scotia. Yes, Mr. Reid may want to think about suing me again and again. Well, that is his right. Everybody can sue, but not everybody can win. I will stand here for the students and the parents and all stakeholders of the Halifax Regional School Board because the policy that the school board has on its computer on-line is dated approved June 23, 1998. But what

[Page 3297]

they don't tell you is that it was amended November 23, 2000, after the review process for the schools was initiated.

Mr. Speaker, any reasonable person would say, by law, they have to go with the process, the policy that was in place at the time the process was started. It its quite significant. Do you know what is so significant about this? The facilitator, i.e., the superintendent of the school board, has shifted the responsibility for him providing detailed, quantitative evidence, financial facts and figures and dynamics for these school closures on to the parents, who have been denied access to vital information on the school closure. That is a violation of the policies and the procedures for the Halifax Regional School Board, hence a violation of the Education Act.

Up until about two weeks ago, the policy and the procedures that were on the computer systems on the Internet indicated that the revision date was in place. Then, for some strange reason, that November 2000 revision date disappeared. So anyone going on-line, unless they looked back into history, would be led to believe that the processes, the policies and procedures were initiated back in 1998. Somebody is misleading the parents, the students, the teachers, the principals and the taxpayers of the Halifax Regional Municipality and, perhaps, very well, the Minister of Education.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If the member would just excuse me for a moment. It is about the fourth time I have heard a laptop turn on or off. I believe the Speaker has addressed this before, that there was an agreement reached, if I am not mistaken, that the sound be turned off on laptops. So if I hear another one, we will deal with it from there. Thank you.

The member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I will summarize on this particular issue by just comparing the two documents and it will certainly demonstrate why we in the Opposition want this six months' hoist. It would appear to me that there is a fair bit of chicanery going on here

Under the old policy that was approved on June 23, 1998, it says, under duties and responsibilities of the review committee . . .

[11:45 a.m.]

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

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if the members for metro, particularly realize how profound this is. I will read exactly what is says. Under Section 5.1, under the Duties and Responsibilities of the Review Committee, it states, "The facilitator will develop

[Page 3298]

a range of closure scenarios for consideration by the committee.". That is prior to November 2000. Here is what happened in November 2000. They changed this vital piece of directive. Now it says, Section 5.1., "With the assistance of the facilitator, the committee . . ." and that is the parents group, "will meet and identify preliminary closure scenarios prior to the end of December.".

What they have done, Mr. Speaker, is shifted the onus from senior administration at the board from giving detailed, factual information on all the implications of a school closure, or a family of school closures, as they may refer to it or I believe there is a different term, but essentially in that family of schools, to a group of honest, well-intended citizens who do not have information and are refused information. I can certainly table lots of information here, documents where staff have written back and told the parents groups, as recently as a week ago, that they do not have the human resources to provide the factual detail that would be pertinent to doing an analysis of these financial decisions.

Now there is something askew here. First of all, I would suggest that these parents groups would have a strong legal case against the board. Second of all, Mr. Speaker, I believe that every one of these school closures is now in jeopardy. They are now in jeopardy because after the process has commenced, the board and/or the superintendent or senior administration or somebody on that board has changed the process. You cannot do it. The rules are quite clear in the Education Act of this province. Somebody has violated the process and unfairly skewed the information flow in favour of some other considerations that nobody seems to know but a select few.

Mr. Speaker, I again raise the spectre, several individuals raised concerns at the Public Accounts Committee the other day that senior administration were not giving sufficient information to the elected board to make a fair and reasonable comprehensive decision on these school closures. Ms. Sandra Everett herself appeared, very readily. to be second- guessing herself on this issue. I don't pretend to get into a detailed analysis of what Ms. Everett thinks or doesn't think on the issue today. I do know one thing, I believe that if all board members had this information, the school closure process that is now in effect would be stopped dead in its tracks before it got going. I felt it important to bring that to the attention of all members of this House, particularly for the government backbenchers, who may just escape the possibility of a school closure in their backyard today, but put it altogether then I think we have a very concerning issue before us. That is why this legislation, Bill No. 20, ties very significantly into the six months' hoist.

Mr. Speaker, the government is simply not being fair, here. The custodians' strike will also have an impact on the bottom line. It is no secret, as was pointed out at the Public Accounts Committee, the deputy minister indicated to the superintendent that they wanted to take over facilities and transportation. What that will do, that will completely disengage input from the community level into the process in a meaningful fashion because what will be left for the school boards matters on policy to which they have no control over the destiny

[Page 3299]

because they have no control over budgetary processes. That is another step towards taking education further and further away from the community level, at the school level, up to the bureaucratic level over at the Trade Mart building. That's what happening.

All the legal frameworks are now coming into play. In the finance bill last year we saw this type of chicanery going on over in the Halifax Regional School Board and I believe that that will be addressed in the very near future. But it is almost like the government is turning a blind eye to this because they see at the end of the day what they want to do. It is not a question of how they are going to get there, they are just going to get there and they don't care who they go over, who they mow down, who gets hurt, who gets pushed off to the side. That's the unfortunate part, because that single-minded thinking is very dangerous.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am wondering if the member would allow for an introduction.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North on an introduction.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for Cape Breton West for allowing me to give this introduction. In the Speaker's Gallery we have Mr. Ken Edwards, who is the Past-President of the Nova Scotia Denturists Society and he lives in the beautiful Town of Bridgewater. I would like to have the House give him a very warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I, too, welcome the gentleman to our gallery. I hope we are not boring him too much with some of the debate that has taken place here today.

Mr. Speaker, it is the style of the leadership that concerns people, not only here in the House but across Nova Scotia, or the lack of style. We saw, yesterday, the Minister of Environment and Labour turn around and say he was going to appoint a mediator. Well, I am looking at three different news clips from three different outlets, from Global to CBC and so on, and depending upon which news outlet you talk to, they get a different message. One says a mediator is appointed, the other one says he isn't appointed and another one says he is appointed but with conditions. That's what wrong with this government, they don't know how to communicate a simple message so that people will have confidence in what they are doing. It is just mumbo-jumbo, day after day. They are stumbling through. It is very disappointing. (Interruption) I am not going to look over in that direction any more. (Laughter) Because every time I look over there I look over there I look at Slick and Slacker there - I am not going to say which is Slick and which is Slack.

It is very concerning what is happening with the government. We seem to have lost control at the community level. People don't feel like they have any input into this process at all. The government, they will sit there, stone-faced, silent - what a disappointment when the member for Eastern Shore canvassed to come to the House of Assembly he was going

[Page 3300]

around, I am going to be there, I am going to be a central part of this government and my voice is going to be heard. It must be all on tape somewhere because we are not hearing it here. It must be on his computer, he must be typing it somewhere, it must be via some strange medium that we don't know about because we haven't heard anything but a whimper from that member since he came here.

The member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, well, well, well. You wouldn't even think we had a member for down there. Honest to heavens, we actually kind of check the organizational chart in the House of Assembly to find out who the members are in some of those ridings, they are so quiet. They may be gone to Bermuda for all we know - we would never know because they are so quiet. When that honourable member was with the Halifax Regional Municipality, he was like a canary, he was chirping all the time. All the things he was going to do to the Department of Education should he get down here; about going back to that 90/10 per cent formula on supplementary funding. Boy oh boy - have you ever seen such a transformation?

I don't know, is there some type of a magical vacuum? They walk through and the chemistry changes in their system? They go from verbose to mum. I don't know if maybe they have been zapped or what it is. I don't know if they are using sting guns on those backbenchers or what in the name of heavens is going on. (Interruption) Well, I am not going to say stun guns because I don't think that is fair to the members, but they must be getting hit with sting guns because they are nothing - there is nothing over there, there is no life, on a major piece of legislation that would change the very format upon which government will function for all Nova Scotians.

The good member for Kings West, Kings North as well, it is so quiet on the government benches these days when it comes to this six months' hoist in Bill No. 20, it is so quiet that you can hear a grasshopper up on top of Citadel Hill chirping. That is how quiet it is on that side.

AN HON. MEMBER: Grasshoppers don't chirp - that is crickets.

MR. MACKINNON: Except for the Wal-Mart greeter from Preston. He always has that nice, warm, friendly smile, never, ever participates in a debate and he is willing to open the door for all the government members as they go in and out of the chamber and he smiles. (Interruption) Some would say he is a bit of a shepherd, give him a little stick and he will stand there with his pole watching the sheep flock in and out. (Interruptions) No, but you can flog a few things. You can't flock but you can flog, but I don't want to go there. It is a sidebar with the Minister of Education - she is very concerned about what is going on in her department. She doesn't . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Teachers Union.

[Page 3301]

MR. MACKINNON: Teachers Union, let me see, Halifax Regional School Board, custodians strike, the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, but I realize that my time is getting a little bit short. I would venture to say, it would be wrong of me to suggest that if I gave up my time, a government member would get up on his feet and try to defend its own legislation. You would have a better chance of getting hit with a Soviet missile than you would of getting one of those members up to speak on this bill. (Interruption)

[12:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. For some reason the honourable member seems to be straying a bit. I know he doesn't very often, but he seems to be straying a bit from the six months' hoist. He has approximately four minutes left in his time.

MR. MACKINNON: M. Le President, six mois pour l'argument pour le bill.

That is as close as I am going to come but, Mr. Speaker, it is all relevant as to why we need the six months' hoist because the government refuses to give us the vital information on the recommendations that were made to P & P by Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, and, yes, too, from the Red Tape Reduction Task Force.

Mr. Deputy Speaker, you remember that. That was a committee that you were a member of at one time. You saw the wisdom to move along because if you look at this recommendation on Page 6, it says that the Red Tape Reduction Task Force will "submit recommendations to the Chair of the Priorities and Planning Committee on which regulations should be repealed or revised." Well, what happened? Where are those recommendations? Maybe you were a very wise man, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, you saw the wisdom of that faux pas. It was just an exercise in futility, just to keep the backbenchers happy, keep them out of the hair of the ministers.

AN HON. MEMBER: A make-work project.

MR. MACKINNON: That is all it was - a make-work project for idle backbenchers. Well, Mr. Speaker, we support the six months' hoist. We believe that it is an opportunity for the government members to stand in their place, at least show us they know what is in the bill, show us that much. Give us one shred of evidence, one little hope, a thread, an idle piece of thread, an inkling that they know what is in the bill or not some faceless bunch of mandarins over across the street at One Government Place who have articulated this to mean a government philosophy and a political agenda.

For that reason, Mr. Speaker, I will be supporting the hoist and I want to extend my sympathies to the government backbenchers who have not had an opportunity, or at least been afforded the opportunity to stand and defend this particular piece of legislation because,

[Page 3302]

obviously, the muzzle is on. This is the week of the muzzle for the backbenchers, except for the Wal-Mart greeter. He will at least stand up and say hello. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time is up.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I rise in my spot today to make a few comments on the reason why, over the next six months, it will be very appropriate that this particular piece of legislation is available to the public for their scrutiny Mr. Speaker I want to tell you how I began my day today, a little earlier than usual, but I began my day today by going to the local Tim Hortons. I want to remind all members camp day is coming up next week and make sure you get into your particular Tim Hortons location, whether you are a Maple Leaf fan or not, I know there is a bit of crying in your coffee considering what happened lately, but I began my day by committing to the Tim Hortons organizers that I would be there for camp day, but do you know while I was at Tim Hortons this morning in Tantallon, I met some constituents.

The very first thing they want to know is, what are you doing here so early? You are usually not in here until about 7:50 a.m. This was at 6:50 a.m. I began to explain we are currently going through extended hours and I am on my way to do my job in the Legislature because I have to be there at 8:00 a.m. and at that time I wasn't aware of this mix-up of 12:00 p.m., 12:00 a.m. Let's not go back there, but let me tell you of a few of the people who I met this morning at the Tim Hortons where I regularly get my morning jolt and their concerns about why we suddenly, as legislators, are into extended hours. Explain that to me, a number of them said. Aside from the fact that a 16 hour day for some of those people in the line of work that they are involved in is, on many occasions, a regular day for them, but that 16 hour day and forcing through legislation is not well-received by Nova Scotians. It is says this government is in a hurry, that this government has an agenda that they are going to shove down our throats in Opposition. I guess it could be interpreted that they are going to shove it down the throats of Nova Scotians, too, because they have a majority and they are going to do what they want to do. So that public relations is a negative one for this government because of extended hours.

One of the gentlemen I ran into this morning, and he is a gentleman off the ice, not on the ice, I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, that gentleman asked a question that has been asked of me many times. Garvey Morash said to me this morning, is anybody listening to what Nova Scotians are saying? Actually he said, is anybody listening to me? I want you to know, there is the tone of frustration that we have seen recently around here. We have seen it on the street. We have seen it in the gallery. I am sure members over there hear about it in the coffee shops. We hear about that frustration and we see it and that particular tone is not a healthy one.

[Page 3303]

I know it is frustrating for you. It is frustrating for me. It is frustrating for all of us. But why is that tone there, that confrontationalist approach to getting things done? It is not the way we do things in Nova Scotia. It is not the way we should be doing things in this Legislature. But that tone is there and we have seen it this week. Let's face it, for one reason or another, we have seen a Nova Scotian pinned to the lawn out there with a knee in his back and cuffs on the back of him. We have seen some very disappointing sights that happened this week, toilet paper hanging from our fences - young people in frustration.

Young people, at times, do things that perhaps they might look back on and say, well, maybe that was a bit of an overreaction. But that frustration and the coverage of some of those things by the media, that frustration is boiling over and Nova Scotians here locally because of the particular strike which we are involved in, I say we because I am involved in it, I am involved in it because in my school, and I say it is my school personally, I do not go into that school now because of the picket line outside of it. I am asked by students, on occasion to go in and visit that school for various reasons. I am refusing to go and I am telling those young people why.

I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, that there are advantages to being an inside member, although I only miss by about a kilometre. Let me tell you, outside members, in some cases, they can be here and their constituents are aware of the fact that they can't get to community meetings. I want to tell you, this week, I attended four different events in the evening and because of the cooperation of my Leader, had the opportunity to speak at various times that I wasn't required here in the House. I want to share each of those meetings with you now so members can know that the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect is standing again in his place, bringing forth some of the concerns that he heard this week from people in coffee shops, from people in community meetings. So let's look at how the week was for this MLA and some of the concerns.

Mr. Speaker, over the next six months, we all would have this opportunity, we all should take this opportunity to listen to Nova Scotians and their frustrations and their concerns about Bill No. 20. So let's begin. First of all, I went to Terence Bay on Monday night. Now you have heard me speak about Terence Bay many times. The people in Terence Bay are absolutely having it to here, if you get my expression as I point to my one good eye, with the delays and the frustrations that they have and the concerns that they have about how their government has forgotten the coastal community, such as Terence Bay.

They feel forgotten. They feel that their needs are not being addressed and that is why they bring them to my attention, so I can bring them here. I can talk about Porcupine Hill. I can talk about the fire hall that doesn't have a fire engine. I can talk about the concern that they have about their lighthouse. Those are all things that all members present would benefit from if over the next six months, they took the opportunity to get out there and to listen to Nova Scotians, like I had the opportunity on Monday night in Terence Bay.

[Page 3304]

On Tuesday night, Mr. Speaker, I hosted, actually I chaired a community meeting on the transfer of recreational facilities called the Hubley Wild Land Trust. Thank God, at that meeting there were representatives from the Department of Natural Resources, and the Minister of Environment and Labour in his wisdom saw it a good move to send someone from his department, as the people in that community wanted to have their say about land control. For a change, this was not coastal property they were concerned about, this was a wild land trust that has been threatened in many ways by increasing subdivisions and developments along Highway No. 103.

I know, having met both of those people who were there from Environment and Labour, and Natural Resources, both of those civil servants benefited immeasurably from being present at that meeting. That meeting went from 7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. As the chairman of that meeting, attended by over 80 people, it was a healthy exchange about where the community wants to go on land control. The Minister of Natural Resources, it would have been a perfect opportunity for him to come into the community that I am fortunate enough to represent and hear what Nova Scotians say about that particular issue. Over the next six months, it would be a wonderful opportunity if it happened again and that particular minister came into the community that I represent.

On Wednesday evening, I went to Prospect. Mr. Speaker, you have heard me speak of Prospect, that wonderful, unique village down at the end of the Prospect Bay Road. I want to tell you, it is another one of those roads that is in hard shape because of the tour buses. It is in hard shape because of the tourists that are wanting to get down to see this wonderful, unique village. This is the very village that has been the scene of a number of recent movie sets. They have movie directors from the United States who want to come and do a seaside shot. They want to deal with any kind of thing that deals with the ocean, they come to Prospect to use that natural facility. They use their wharf there that, incidentally, is going to be divested by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and that community is showing the initiative that they are not going to let that wharf go down and out.

Our Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, he would have benefited from being there and at any time over the next six months he would be a welcome person in that community. But, of course, that community had something else very important to talk about. They are talking about land control in the village of Prospect and they are talking about coastal properties. They are talking about that important piece of property that I know, Mr. Speaker, you have heard about, and that of course is this Prospect High Head.

Mr. Speaker, I say it again, I am here in this Legislature to speak up for those people in Prospect, to speak up about their concern about the Prospect High Head and to continue to bring those concerns forward. But you know, over the next six months, I wouldn't just have to be the messenger. The opportunity would be there for those ministers and some of those members opposite who have and share communities much like mine. They would have the opportunity to come to the village of Prospect and to see and hear first-hand the concerns

[Page 3305]

that those Nova Scotians have about their wharf, about their coastal properties and, of course, about continuing access to those coastal properties.

It would also be a wonderful opportunity for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to come to Prospect, and I could show him where Indian Point Road - not Indian Head Road - and I know there are a lot of Indian Point Roads in this province and perhaps a few Indian Head Roads, but Indian Point Road is the real issue when it comes to the protection of those 100 plus hectares of land on the High Head. I encourage all members to go down to Prospect, because over the next six months members opposite and ministers opposite would have an opportunity to take the opportunity to go down there and look at the problem that these people brought forward.

Last night, I attended another meeting in my community, through the good graces of our interim Leader, who allowed me to be out of the House for a couple hours, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting of the St. Margarets Arena in the Lion's Club community hall, where over 150 parents and custodians sat down and talked to each other.

[12:15 p.m.]

There was a meaningful meeting, let me assure you. There were adults, a couple of young people from the school system were also there, and they talked to each other about this unfortunate labour interruption that has dragged on now for more than seven weeks. They shared their concerns; they shared their frustrations. That would be a wonderful opportunity for members opposite, for members of the Third Party to have the opportunity to hear from parents and to hear from custodians about their concerns. I should point out, at that meeting was the school board member from my community, the school board member who has had the courage to stand in his place at school board meetings, to have his say about the flawed negotiation process, to stand there and say I am elected. I might only be paid $7,000 a year, but I am elected and I am going to speak up for my constituents, and I am going to speak up for the students and the parents who are concerned about the health and safety of the students in the schools and how unclean they are.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that my school board member, the man whose sign was on my lawn, Mike Flemming was at that meeting. Mike Flemming, again, listened and showed the very leadership that so many other school board members - and I know there are members from metro here, I know those members from metro, they have heard from school board members, too. We have had this thing go on far too long. The reason is, they are not talking and they are not listening to each other. But last night, last night at the St. Margaret's arena in the Lion's Club community hall, what a wonderful opportunity it was, and what a wonderful opportunity it would have been for the Minister of Environment and Labour to be present and to have a chance. He will have the chance over the next six months, if he takes it, to be able to listen to Nova Scotians about their concerns and about their frustrations.

[Page 3306]

Mr. Speaker, over the next few moments, I would like to tell you some concerns that have been brought to my attention. I want to tell you of some of the people who would love to have the opportunity over the next six months to be able to have their concerns expressed to members in this House. I want to talk about some of the local concerns; I want to talk about this privatization binge - that is a word that I don't use lightly - which this government looks like it is intending to go upon. The concern comes down to the fact that there is no respect any more by this government for collective bargaining, and collective bargaining and privatization are going to be in conflict in the months and years ahead, with the agenda of this government.

I am also going to point to Clause 41, Section 6 of this particular piece of legislation. Clause 41, Section 6, that section alone would be important enough over the next six months for members present to have their opportunity to have their say and make sure that they get to listen to their constituents. There are certain ministers and there are certain members that we know well are important in this decision-making process that is going to take place over Bill No. 20. This is a power grab; this is a power grab by the Cabinet, by the inner Cabinet, by a couple of powerful ministers who are going to have their say, and the backbenchers, their continuing neglect of this issue is going to show more and more.

I want to point out to a couple of ministers opposite that there are people across Nova Scotia who would love to have some things explained to them. I want to begin with liquor store workers. Liquor store workers play an important, professional role in this province in the dispensing of alcohol. It is not a job to be taken lightly; it is not a job that can just be given to anyone. It is a job of responsibility; it is a job of trust; it is a job where someone is put in a position of making sure that underage clients - and it is important to understand that there are people who, unfortunately, will come into these establishments, then take alcohol out and sell it to younger people.

Mr. Speaker, as you were well aware in a previous career, and in a previous community where I worked, I had the opportunity in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia to work closely with liquor store workers because they had a major concern about underage drinkers getting in to these establishments.

Mr. Speaker, that concern from those Liquor Commission workers was brought to my attention as a school official. Yes, I was the one running the school dances; I was the one who stood at those school dances with one of those portable Breathalyzers and told them right then; I was the one who intimidated and challenged young men and women, if you come into this facility on a Friday night and you are under the influence, you are going to be gone, you are going to be out of here. We used to have dances on Friday nights because of the fact that you could attract bigger crowds. (Interruptions) I hear the recent graduate of Sackville High School say they were on Thursday night. I never had the pleasure. I know he is a good decision maker on issues like this, but those sorts of things had to be done because you had to protect a safe environment for these kids to go to their school dances.

[Page 3307]

Mr. Speaker, the liquor store workers in Sackville came to me, as the vice-principal of Sackville High School, and said, we need your help because we believe we are missing some of these underage drinkers who might be coming in with false IDs, who might be getting in there or other ones who are coming back and forth and back and forth because they are selling alcohol to younger people. The point of this is, who came to whom? The liquor store workers came to the school teacher. The liquor store workers were responsible enough to say, we are not just going to dispense with this stuff, we not going to just worry about the profit and the bottom line here, we are concerned about who we are selling it to.

Liquor store workers that I know, who are my constituents, who are my friends, some of whom I worked with in previous careers, others of them that I happen to know because of service club connections, are very concerned about the fact that there could be, of all things, liquor sold in drug stores. If that is a misconception - and I have heard the minister responsible stand in his place and point this out, so I want to table this e-mail and I want the minister responsible, if he could, or have one of his staff respond to this e-mail. I have already responded to this gentleman. His name is Glen McCarron. I am going to table it in a moment. Glen McCarron sends me this e-mail May 10th, booze in drug stores, it is called.

Good morning, Bill, he writes. Just reading today's paper, and see that we now want to put booze in the drug stores. Isn't it ironic that we take out the cigarettes because of the mixed message in a health institution, and now they want to replace it with beer. What are they thinking?

Here is a perfect opportunity, over the next six months for that minister - who wants to have an answer to Mr. McCarron now, and he has the floor.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. As I mentioned yesterday - for clarification, perhaps the member wasn't here - the situation, if he looks at the clause which he is referring to, only part of the clause is removed on this issue. Technically, if it was going to be with regard to a pharmacy it would be much in line with how it is now in a store with regard to the separate entrance and so on. It is much in line with what is already happening in certain stores in the HRM. If you take a look at the clause, you are only taking a look at what is removed, you are not taking a look at the entire clause.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect has the floor.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I thank the minister for that clarification. I heard that clarification the other day, but the important thing is that Glen McCarron, who lives in St. Margarets Village, is getting what the media is reporting. I have gone back to him that I was going to use it this morning in this ramble - I was going to call it a speech. I want the minister to know that is the very reason why we need a six months' hoist. It would be a wonderful

[Page 3308]

opportunity for that minister and other members to make sure that they would have the opportunity to correct some of these misconceptions, to point out to Nova Scotians some of the fears that are there, because these have to be addressed. (Interruptions)

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: What's presently illegal, legal. That's what that clause says.

MR. ESTABROOKS: In other words, it does make present illegal practices legal. That is what that clause, my friend, the member for Hants East, says. Therefore, I just wanted the minister responsible to be aware that there is that misconception, there is that problem here and over the next six months it would be a wonderful opportunity, I know you would agree with me on this, Mr. Speaker, it would be a wonderful opportunity for that young minister, the MLA for Inverness, to meet openly with people who have this concern, whether it is liquor store workers or a common citizen such as Glen McCarron and on the topic of that particular minister, he could be in demand during the next six months. I am sure the people of Digby Pines, the people of Liscombe Lodge, some of those people who hear that concern about privatization pop up again, they would love to have the opportunity to have a few moments of his time so they could express their ideas about their concerns about such operations as Liscombe Lodge and Digby Pines.

Mr. Speaker, there are other workers. There are other Public Service employees who over the next six months would want to have their opportunity to talk to various Cabinet Ministers opposite. Highway workers again bring this issue up. The community that I represent and the minister knows the concern because he did show the initiative, I thank him for that, of going to the Beechville shed and talking to the men and women who work out of that shed, but there was this proposal a number of months ago that the Beechville shed was going to be, I believe we might call it a test case. It was going to be one of those models for privatization and if I review it the way I remember it, they were going to privatize certain services out of the Beechville shed because it was said to these workers it was going to be more cost-efficient and that there were certain roads in the growing constituency of Timberlea-Prospect, some are the responsibility of the HRM and others, Mr. Speaker, are the responsibility of the Department of Transportation and Public Works. Now that concern remains with highway workers and over the next six months it would be a great opportunity for that minister to make sure that he could clarify for his department, for those workers and for all Nova Scotians, about the concern with privatization of Transportation and Public Works.

Mr. Speaker, there is always the concern that comes up when it comes to the compliance workers. We had the opportunity to meet with some of the men and women who work the scales on the highway. I know, Mr. Speaker, in your previous career you, of course, worked with these people and, of course, there is the concern that is out there that the RCMP is going to take over this particular practice, that the RCMP are going to be the ones responsible and that these very valued government employees are going to be replaced. That

[Page 3309]

whole issue could be very quickly clarified over the next six months if the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations or the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, could step in there and meet with those workers and clarify this whole issue.

You know, Mr. Speaker, what it comes down to is this privatization fear. I used the word binge earlier and I want to remind members opposite, and the Premier in particular, that in July 1997 that Premier, at that time Leader of the Third Party, signed a Five Point Quality Public Service Protection Plan for Nova Scotia. That concern continuously raises its ugly head. It raises its head because of the concern that this isn't worth the paper it is written on and I would like to read from it for a moment or two and then I will ask the Page to come and table this. It is important that members opposite look at this Five Point Quality Public Service Protection Plan that was signed by all three Party Leaders at the time.

The first clause is, "A provincial public service will not be privatized or contracted to the private sector without public consultation and without demonstrable evidence . . ." Now, Mr. Speaker, that says it. That first clause says there must be evidence that proves that private is better and that, secondly, there must be public consultation. The perfect way to have public consultation is over the next six months to make sure that members opposite, Cabinet Ministers opposite, take the opportunity to get out there and listen to people across this province. In this case, members of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union.

[12:30 p.m.]

Secondly: "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 . . ." Those are guarantees that this government has to remain committed to. The concerns that come out of Bill No. 20, because of the fear around privatization, because of the concern that we saw in this House one short week ago when members of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union unfortunately became involved in a confrontation in this House, that concern and how it was handled, all that comes up. That could have been taken care of if there was the commitment from this government and those particular Cabinet Ministers and the Premier personally to make sure that these aren't just words on a piece of paper, they are also going to be followed up with action.

Finally, it says, "Public sector workers and their representatives and other . . . parties shall have standing in the review process." Shall have standing means to me that they shall have their say. They will be encouraged to have their say, before any of this type of legislation and the fears and concerns that are brought forward, they will have their say. That is what those government employees want and that is what they are going to get because over the next six months, members opposite have got their thinking hats on, they are going to say, this is the sort of suggestion that makes a lot of sense.

[Page 3310]

Let's look at a couple of concerns as we look in the few weeks and months ahead of us and the possibility of certain labour interruptions that are going to take place. Over the next six months, those labour interruptions could involve health workers, nurses, many members of the public sector. These are workers who are frustrated. These are workers who believe that this government no longer has any faith or trust in labour relations in this province. The perfect example was brought forth last evening at the meeting that I attended at St. Margarets Arena where worker after worker who is involved with this particular strike, pointed out that the Minster of Environment and Labour should just do the right thing and that is appoint this mediator.

The minister keeps saying, they are not ready. I didn't hear that last night and if any time over the next six days, any time over the next six hours, let alone six months, if that member and that Minister of Labour want to understand this issue better, it would be important for him to listen to the frustrations of those custodians; to listen to the concerns of those parents that were brought forward last night. It is not a matter of who is right and who is wrong in the collective bargaining process, that is not the issue. The issue is, what is right for the students.

I want to refer to one particular clause. I hope members opposite have looked at this clause. This is Clause 41, Section 6. This particular clause alone would be a major concern for members if they look carefully at it. I want to read it into the record because it is an important clause. Clause 41, Section 6 says, "A member of the Executive Council may, subject to the approval of the Governor in Council, enter into an agreement with the Government of Canada or the government of a province, or agency thereof . . ." Now, here's the kicker, the first part in the preamble I can live with and I think our caucus can live with, I think Nova Scotians can live with it, but here is the kicker, ". . . or with any institution or person, or any of them, providing for a joint undertaking with the Government of Canada or with the government of a province, or an agency thereof, or with any institution or person, or any of them, of any project within the member's mandate under this Act." That is a carte blanche.

That is an open door that is going to allow any truck even you could drive through, Mr. Deputy Speaker. That is a wide open clause that, as far as I am concerned, needs to be tightened up and I know that that clause and that concern is going to be continuously brought to members and Cabinet Ministers opposite over the next six months. That clause just has far too much breadth. That clause needs to be addressed and over the next six months it would be a perfect opportunity for that to be done.

Mr. Speaker, that clause is a concern that has been brought to the floor of this debate by the members here. The concern comes down to the fact whether the members opposite actually - and I am not into trying to insult them - do they understand that clause? I have read it out. I have debated it. I have expressed my concern about it, but do members opposite understand it? There is an opportunity during the next six months for them to understand it

[Page 3311]

and to hear from Nova Scotians about it because it is a concern, not just for the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, for all kinds of Nova Scotians. There are too many anybodys and anyone in that clause. It is too wide open. The issue has to be addressed and, hopefully, the members opposite are aware of the concern. This clause incidentally justifies any kind of privatization, any kind of contracting out. That is the concern in a clause and in a section and over the next six months . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I might just advise the honourable member, and he is a very experienced and somewhat veteran member of the Legislature, he knows full well that he is not supposed to be going into the clause with a fine-tooth comb. It is quite all right as far as this Speaker is concerned to reference clauses, but he did read the clause verbatim. He has expanded on the clause and perhaps he would like to shift gears, no pun intended, into something else more relevant to the amendment. I say that to the honourable member and advise him that he does have the floor and has approximately half an hour remaining.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your advice and I wouldn't say experienced, I would say learning every day that I am in here as a member of this Legislature. That clause is the concern and it should be brought up over the next six months. I know that some of the concerns I have heard about frustrations with this government, this bill and this particular extended hours routine that we are in, comes forward from some people in my constituency. So I am going to bring them to your attention now.

I have mentioned Glen McCarron already. I want to point out the case of the injured worker, Armand Lanteigne, Workers' Compensation Board, frustrations, lawyers, doctors, bureaucratic reports. It would seem to be time that the concern is expressed that the WCB has had and does have, let's face it, a PR firm badly in need of a face-lift; that WCB is one agency of this government and previous governments that has caused a great deal of frustration and concern for Nova Scotians. Injured workers have been put through the wringer and I don't mean it in terms of a physical sense because, heaven forbid, any more injuries of that sort ever happening. But the concern comes down that the Minister of Environment and Labour would learn invaluable lessons if at some time over the next six months he would meet with injured workers and he would explain to them how this Bill No. 20 is going to make workers' compensation and make his job a better job because that is a concern that Nova Scotians have. Injured workers or not, the concern is that this government, that particular minister with responsibilities for WCB, or WCAT, is not listening. That is the concern that injured workers bring to my attention.

Let's look at the concern that is brought to my attention by a mother by the name of Linda Blackburn. Linda Blackburn lives in Terence Bay. She is the mother of an adult daughter who is in need of assistance when it comes to transportation to a workplace in Halifax. That mother has been working with Community Services for a number of months trying to get assistance, and the Minister of Community Services and his staff say there is only $100 available for transportation for adult support services; that is all that is there. This

[Page 3312]

week I went to an appeal hearing with Linda Blackburn, and at that appeal hearing we learned that it is not just Community Services, it is another agency called Community Care that can help out here.

Community Care is not under Community Services' jurisdiction. The worker who was there thought, he said, - "thought" - it was a shared responsibility between the Department of Health and Community Services. He wasn't quite sure which one was responsible for it, but he is going to give Mrs. Blackburn the telephone number, and he is going to give me, as the MLA, the follow-up address and the contact name and we are going to start to work through now, again, how we can get extra assistance to this family who lives outside of the core area. This family who have this young, 22 year old daughter who wants to work in Halifax in a protected area where she can learn and advance and, as Linda said at the appeal, spread her wings.

It would be a wonderful opportunity if that minister over the next six months took the opportunity to meet with Linda Blackburn and her daughter, to meet with Nicole and understand some of the frustrations that this young woman has gone through and how she has to travel back and forth from this rural community down to a part of the city where she, perhaps, is not that comfortable. But that transportation in a safe way is an important concern. Community Care is not the responsibility of Community Services, we were told. Instead, it is a shared responsibility now.

Now, here we are again, with a government agency and a worker, not quite sure himself who to direct us to, and it would be an opportunity over the next six months to have parents such as Linda Blackburn learn directly from the minister responsible who actually is responsible for that particular transportation budget.

You have to ask yourself why, why is that group over there opposed to this six months' hoist? Eventually, we understand, and I have been in this House long enough to understand that you are going to get your way. Nova Scotians aren't going to have their say, Nova Scotians aren't going to be able, over the next six months, to talk to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. They are not going to have a chance to talk to the Minister of Community Services. They are not going to have a chance to talk to the Minister of Tourism who would be a very, very important person in any coastal community, from Peggy's Cove to Terence Bay. They are not going to have that opportunity.

This bill is then going to proceed to the Law Amendments Committee if they unwisely do not accept our advice here, and the presentations at the Law Amendments Committee are going to line up, they are going to line up, there are going to be hundreds of presentations on this particular bill and there is not going to be any rush because Nova Scotians are going to want to have their say. The unfortunate thing is, we know how the Law Amendments Committee works. I am on the Law Amendments Committee. Nova Scotians must come to this House, they must travel to Halifax, they must find a parking spot, they must come to

[Page 3313]

downtown Halifax, but if this hoist were accepted, then members opposite and ministers opposite would go to Nova Scotians.

If we are talking about positive PR, if we are talking about positive public relations, let me tell you, this government would score big points if that were the case. Instead of going through the Law Amendments Committee process, which is a valued one, one we all treasure, we would go to the people instead of the people coming to us. That is based on the fact that so many of them are allowed in, or the gates aren't locked up, or whatever is happening that particular day. Instead, we would go to the people. We would have an opportunity over the next six months to listen to them.

You have heard me say many times, there are members Opposite over there and it would be a wonderful opportunity for them to come into my community. I just want to review those again. I think it is important that those backbenchers know that we know, and members opposite know, how important they are in certain areas called their constituencies.

[12:45 p.m.]

Last night, I was asked at a community meeting with the custodians and the parents, a particular man from Sackville asked me, what does my MLA say about this strike? What does my MLA say about the fact that schools are unsafe and unclean? That particular member is the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank and that custodian from Lower Sackville - and I know I can't use that member's name in here - he expressed his disappointment with that MLA who, when he was a municipal councillor, had a lot to say, but now as the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, does not speak up, does not say what is on his mind. I am sure that custodians from across Lower Sackville, Sackville-Beaver Bank, Sackville-Cobequid, have contacted that member of the government.

That particular member's name was brought up last night at that community meeting; it would have been a perfect opportunity, last night, for that member to host a similar meeting in his community, inviting custodians, inviting parents into some particular convenient location so that they could talk to their school board member; I believe the school board member is a gentleman named Wade Marshall, who has a pretty rough time provincially, running in Sackville-Cobequid, I have heard; a pretty rough time where he can't seem to get himself elected as a provincial member, or was it a federal ambition he had last time?

I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, that Wade Marshall and the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank should host the very same meeting that I hosted last night at the St. Margarets Arena, that I hosted, that I am going to pay the rent for in that particular facility, because I want to listen to the people of my constituency and the custodians that are there, and the parents who have those concerns. That could be done over the next six months. (Interruption) The member opposite wants to know who those people were. Afterwards, I will share with

[Page 3314]

him that fact, the concern that that member's name was brought up. There were other members brought up. The honourable member for Eastern Shore, it was asked again, and the honourable member for Preston, what are they saying? Are they saying anything about this unfortunate strike?

You know what, Mr. Speaker? I challenge the members opposite to have the very same meeting that I had last evening, to cover the rent for two hours; $15 an hour, you have an opportunity. We went in there at 7:00 p.m., and three hours later we were out, $45 paid, taken care of, because the MLA is doing his job. Those MLAs over there, they aren't doing their jobs, but over the next six months they would have the opportunity. Over the next six months, on any given evening, they could do that.

I want to be able to say to those custodians in Sackville, I want those custodians to say, hey, guess what, you know who - not to use his name - but the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank had one of those meetings that Bill had out in Timberlea-Prospect, and people showed up; parents showed up, custodians showed up, and the member learned something. That's what would happen over the next six months.

Voluntary Planning has served as a wonderful example for input across this province . . .

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: No, Mr. Speaker, just on a point of clarification. I have been listening to the honourable member talk about the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, order. Honourable member, there are no points of clarification. On a point of order? (Interruptions) Order, please. I can't hear the honourable Minister of Health. Is the honourable Minister of Health on an introduction or on a point of order?

MR. MUIR: No, on a point of clarification, Mr. Speaker. I just want to help the honourable member . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Sorry, honourable member, there are no points of clarification. I will have to ask the honourable member to please take his seat.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The member over there who is raving on is impugning my colleague, the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, but I just want to say that these meetings he is talking about, my colleague held his long before this member even thought of it. As a matter of fact, I think it is because this member did it, he copied it because he thought he had to. (Interruptions)

[Page 3315]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order. I think perhaps it is a point of clarification from the honourable member's perspective. I will give the floor back to the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I am well aware of the fact that there are past examples in this House, and you are one of them, Mr. Speaker. I will tell you the example that you served for me as rookie member, or the examples that George Moody in particular, or John Leefe, served for me in serving your constituency and being accountable and standing up and speaking out in this House. Those particular members are the examples that I will continue to follow. I don't have to look at current members who perhaps thought in municipal council they could say anything they want. They have to speak up now. They have to have their say now. Over the next months it is important that they consult.

Let's talk about Voluntary Planning, Mr. Speaker. Voluntary Planning has a wonderful example that we could use over the next six months. They could set the meetings up. They could go across this province. Voluntary Planning has established an example which could be a valuable one on Bill No. 20. They could, after all, very clearly identify the process for government members opposite and they might even go back to some of the same locations. Those locations are valuable ones because I am currently involved in those locations and I draw attention to this, that I hope the members opposite know where these meetings are because I continue to attend these meetings.

My Leader and I were at a meeting the other evening and I want members opposite to go to those meetings. I hope the member for beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley attended the meeting which I reminded him to go to on the land use - and I see him nodding his head. He did. Thank you for going to that - but I look at these other Voluntary Planning meetings. These other Voluntary Planning meetings, for example, and don't you think that the member for Eastern Shore should be in Sheet Harbour for that very important meeting on May 17th? That would be a wonderful opportunity and it fits within that next six month guideline where he could sit and listen to the people in Sheet Harbour about their concerns about land use, ownership and, of course, non-resident ownership. At the same time, perhaps there could be some other concerns brought to his attention.

I remind the member for Chester-St. Margaret's that on May 15th, in the St. Luke's United Church in Upper Tantallon, there is a meeting on the same topic put together by Voluntary Planning. That is the sort of example that could be followed, Mr. Speaker. It could be followed over the next six months with the opportunity for this government opposite to listen to Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I have only a few more comments because I have another important commitment that I have to attend this afternoon.

AN HON. MEMBER: Probably another meeting, is it?

[Page 3316]

MR. ESTABROOKS: No, it is, unfortunately, a rather sad event. An outstanding young man in my community, his mother has passed away. I am not going to take my full hour. I just want to bring up these things and I want to ask these questions in conclusion. I want to ask, and I want those members opposite over there to ask themselves these questions. Why does the Cabinet need to scrap the rule to put a limit on how many government departments it can create in secret? Why the secrecy? That is built into this bill and that is the question that over the next six months Nova Scotians would like to have the opportunity to ask members opposite, not just Cabinet members, but members of the government, backbenches and front benches, why all the secrecy?

Why does the Cabinet need to give itself the power to interfere in the operations of any department, any agency, any board, any commission? Why does there have to be such a centralization of power? That concern is there. Why does the government need the power to interfere in all contract negotiations within the public sector? That power is there. Why do they need that power? Why must it be so centralized? That is a question that I know all government members opposite are going to have to listen to.

Most important, Mr. Speaker, why does the Cabinet want to move important decisions, taking power out of the public realm in the Legislature, down to that Cabinet Room, that Cabinet Room with the blue curtains. Maybe it even has blue carpet in it now, where there is all that power concentrated in the hands of so few. That is the concern that revolves around Bill No. 20. Those are the questions that Nova Scotians are going to continue to ask, those are the issues that I am going to continue to raise in this House because that is why I am here. I thank you for your time.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am trying to figure out if I can explain why I am here. There are a number of things I want to address this afternoon and I say, as I begin, that I expect that I will be uncharacteristically short. I don't intend to use the full hour unless I get so motivated. But there are a few questions and a few points that were raised by my colleague in his previous speech and I thought maybe I could answer a couple of them for him. Certainly, one of them has to do with the whole issue of selling liquor in drugstores.

I think, Mr. Speaker, if one scratches below the surface a little bit, and maybe the minister will be willing to amend the legislation in such a way as to clarify it, but I think right now there are some facilities that have drugstores that are selling liquor. They have boutiques in them. Some of them may be called Sobeys, some of them may be called the Real Atlantic Superstore and there does appear to be a situation where maybe they caught themselves or they find themselves in a situation that may not be considered to pass the test of the law.

[Page 3317]

So by putting this clause in, in such a way, maybe what the government is trying to do is to address a problem that they hoped would never be challenged in the courts, a problem, I will confess, that was not of their making. The first liquor stores and drugstores started to be mixed under the previous administration and it is a problem that this government has inherited and only exacerbated. So, obviously, Mr. Speaker, they are both bad. Here is a sneaky way to try to address the problem they found themselves in without coming out and being forthright and admitting what the problem is.

So I hope the minister will indicate he is prepared to amend the legislation to clarify what is being intended and to state that clearly on the record, because there are obviously a lot of concerns that what is really intended here is to allow, for example, and the minister will know that many drugstores remain open on Sunday. Here is a way, if they are going to allow alcohol to be sold in some of the drugstores, it could be a way of doing that. But before I get into some of the other issues, Mr. Speaker, since I also wear the hat of Critic for the Liquor Commission in our caucus, there is another issue that certainly has great concern. I also hope that the minister may address this issue.

There are several concerns with this. One, the way that the bill is written; it states that specialty permits can be given for the sale of alcohol. That can be interpreted in a lot of ways. Certainly in the broadest sense, that could mean that maybe down in Truro, a corner store that is around the corner from where the Minister of Health lives could be given a special permit - it's not an agency store - but special permits can be given for the sale of alcohol. So the way that is written, it can be interpreted, and a special permit could be given and a corner store could be selling alcohol. (Interruption)

[1:00 p.m.]

I see government members across saying, oh, no, we are not going to be that stupid. I hope that they aren't going to be that stupid. Welcome to the Chair, Mr. Speaker. I know you would be too wise to ever allow anything like that to happen if you have any control over it. It is not clear what those specialty permits are intended to do or how they are restricted.

Mr. Speaker, therefore, I would hope - and I think maybe the minister understands what I am talking about even if the Government House Leader doesn't - that the minister would be prepared to indicate that he will state, and make sure that the legislation is crystal clear as to what those special permits are intended to cover. For example, it might be at one of these meetings that are going to be held where somebody might be selling liquor at a recreational event, those kinds of things. That is not what the legislation clearly states. If there is confusion because of the lack of clarity or precision in the way that the legislation is written, that is an easy issue to address. What it requires is a little bit of time . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: A little bit of time. Six months.

[Page 3318]

MR. HOLM: Six months could do it. In fact, all of the issues over a six month period of time, you could address them one after another if the government is actually open-minded and really listening to people, can address those issues. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I am getting some helpful hints - from, what was his name back there - about the "a.m."s and the "p.m."s, and I don't think we want to get into that at this point in time. I think we have come to the conclusion, though, that 12:00 a.m. is midnight, and 12:00 p.m. is noon. Now it is a little after 1:00 p.m., and we are still sitting until 3:00 p.m. because of the tremendous co-operation; when people really want to put their minds together and try to work together in a co-operative way. I am hoping that that brief moment when the government was willing to do that today, that that kind of feeling of satisfaction that must have come over them will compel them to be looking at doing the same kind of thing in other areas across the province.

Mr. Speaker, I addressed a few of the things. Certainly, there is the whole issue of the agency stores and the concern about privatization and concern of establishing more agency stores. One of the things that can be done here, of course, is to tighten up by stating that no agency store, for example, would be allowed to be created or established within, let's say, 40 kilometres of a commission store. That would eliminate the concerns that people have that agency stores will be set up in competition and in close proximity to existing liquor stores. Of course, the government knows or should know that it is not in their best interest because they don't make as much profit on those agency stores as they do through a commission store, because they have to sell it at a lower price in order to ensure that their private partner makes a profit. That is common sense.

AN HON. MEMBER: I finally got it.

MR. HOLM: The minister says, I finally got it. The minister should know that, in fact, the consultant's report pointed that out to them, something we noted when we read it. Therefore, it would be no difficulty whatsoever for the government, because they don't always follow what is logical. That is the same bunch over there that privatized Nova Scotia Power based on philosophy, and it was one of the dumbest decisions, one of the most costly decisions the Tories ever did. It has cost Nova Scotians literally hundreds of millions of dollars in lost profits, because they did it on philosophy. Philosophy, and had they instead insisted that the Crown Corporation be run in an effective, efficient businesslike manner, there would have been approximately $900 million in profits that would have been used to pay down the debt, Mr. Speaker, so your power bill and the power bills of all Nova Scotians and of businesses in Nova Scotia would have been less, which would have been an incentive for the establishment and creation of new long-term jobs. That is if you actually had a government that didn't just talk philosophy but actually had a common sense businesslike approach towards running itself and its corporation.

[Page 3319]

Therefore, you know that even though the government says, oh, heavens, why would we want to have more of these agency stores because we make more money, well this is the bunch that sold off Nova Scotia Power. We also know that there are those beating on the doors of government, their friends who want the Liquor Commission privatized.

Mr. Speaker, that would be foolish, and we have to ensure that doesn't happen. You have to understand why people are suspicious of this bunch, when you see what they have done. Look at what they have in the offshore and the onshore gas. Here we have 11 cents an acre for the cost to explore for your natural gas and my natural gas, the natural gas that belongs to all Nova Scotians and future Nova Scotians, we charged the poor, big, multi-national oil companies a whole 11 cents an acre to explore for it.

AN HON. MEMBER: John, how many Nova Scotians have got gas yet?

MR. HOLM: I am not going to answer that. A few.

AN HON. MEMBER: I mean from the offshore, John.

MR. HOLM: You are not talking natural. (Interruptions) You would think it was Monday night from all the help I am getting here, extended hours. The reality is that we have a government which has a philosophy that is, give everything away, it can't do or run anything properly. With this bunch, that is probably a fair assessment, probably a fairly fair assessment. Their view is, we have to get out of everything, we have to turn it all over to our friends in big business because they will take care of us. That is why in New Brunswick and in the States, they are burning our natural gas. Premier Lord in New Brunswick is eating hamburgers that are cooked on grills that are fired by Nova Scotia gas.

Here in Nova Scotia, we are just waiting and wondering if and when that is ever going to come to us. We have discussions about the next possible pipeline to carry our resource to the United States, and now we have got it, finally, the Premier has said, it has to touch land. So it is going to have to land here before it goes to the States. We don't know if that means that the pipeline is going to kiss the province and then head off again out to sea; if it means that it is going to touch at the southern corner of the province and go across a short stretch and then head down to the States; or if it is going to run all the way across Nova Scotia and onwards.

What we do know is that if it doesn't go all the way through Nova Scotia, the number of jobs in the construction phase and so on for Nova Scotians are going to be dramatically reduced. What we also know is that if it just kisses Nova Scotia, goes through a short section of it, there is very little pipeline or infrastructure on Nova Scotia soil, so therefore the amount of taxes, in the way of property taxes, that would be collected from that are going to be minimal.

[Page 3320]

We and the municipalities and all Nova Scotians are going to be benefiting; we don't know how much yet because the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline seems to think they don't have to pay much or anything in the way of property taxes. Of course, the province says it is up to municipalities to negotiate because the province wants to wash its hands of any responsibility. We do know that there are going to be property taxes paid by the owners of that pipeline that will benefit the people in Guysborough, Port Hawkesbury, and benefit the people who live in Colchester, the people who live in Dartmouth, in Yarmouth and so on.

If that pipeline is allowed to be built, the next one from the offshore and just kisses Nova Scotia or just touches a small section, virtually no tax dollars at all or none will be shared with the Province of Nova Scotia, which of course will increase the profits. If the production is done offshore, the manufacturing, we won't have a Goldboro plant, we won't have a Port Hawkesbury plant, therefore, we won't be getting the property taxes from that as well. So we won't be getting those taxes either.

What we want to insist, Mr. Speaker, is that Nova Scotians get the benefits from that and this bill will do nothing. This is a restructuring bill. It doesn't restructure the spine of this government. It doesn't restructure the spine to take out the Jell-O. It doesn't do that. It is not going to strengthen the backbone of this government. (Interruptions) Yes, I am being corrected by some colleagues who are saying what backbone. Well, I was being generous.

Mr. Speaker, one looks at this and says, well, what does this bill do. It creates tremendous anxiety because of the way it is written. One of the things that is very clear is that this bill is intended to concentrate even more power in the hands of the bunker crew in the Cabinet group and so that you won't have to come back to this Legislature at all for approvals on all kinds of things, just down there they can go in and I don't know, I have not been down there for a little while, there used to be a red curtain around it when the Liberals were there. Now maybe it is a blue curtain or maybe possibly, given the increased security, it might be an iron curtain today. (Interruptions)

But you know, Mr. Speaker, what they do down there in their bunker in secrecy, at least now with many of their decisions, not all, they have to at least pass an Order in Council and even though they don't deem it necessary to consult with Nova Scotians anywhere in this province when they make their secret, behind their blue-curtain room, I will say, down in the bunker, at least they have to pass an Order in Council and that Order in Council is then publicized a week later. So Nova Scotians at least can find out what they did. But now this bunch that believes in an open, accountable, transparent government is increasing the amount of secrecy by saying, ministers don't have to get approval or Orders in Council for doing all kinds of things any more, like passing authority to others to do things on their behalf and, therefore, no Order in Council, no openness, no transparency, but absolute secrecy and that is a complete 100 per cent betrayal of what this government said they would do.

[Page 3321]

I know, Mr. Speaker, some of the truth is sometimes hard to take and, therefore, some government members might want to leave the Chamber because they don't want to have to face the reality of what they are permitting. The government is going to be allowed to set up offices - whatever an office is, undefined in the Act, but they can set up special offices - to do special things, only we don't know what those special things are. We don't know what this office is. So can they set up now an office to take the place of the Attorney General? Maybe, we don't know. There are special agencies that can be established and these special agencies will have the ability to set up their own charters and they report apparently to nobody, certainly not to this House, and to those special agencies, again, the powers of a department, or whatever, can be created or transferred.

Is that open? Is that accountable? Is that transparent? How many of you on the government benches, how many of you ran in the last election and promised, if I am elected, I will be as autocratic, I will be as secretive, I will deny you access to any and all information? How many of you over there actually said what you are doing? I remember hearing, and I won't identify him because the greeter has been identified many times before, but saying well, people gave us this mandate. Why are we here, because people gave us a majority. That is true.

[1:15 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: That is why we are here.

MR. HOLM: That is why you are there. That may be why you are there because you were given a majority, but as the Government House Leader can tell you, majorities come and go.

I ask the honourable Government House Leader, maybe he would like to sit back - he is the dean of this House at the moment - and list all kinds of members who have been here with him. I would like him to sit down some day and it might be a good lesson for his colleagues to put a checkmark beside the numbers of members who were here over all the years with him, how many of them left of their own freewill and how many of them left on the freewill of their constituents. I think you will find out that (Interruptions) Oh yes, there are some who of their own freewill left and there are many others who left on the voters' will. If you take a look at it, he can get up to three and he can get even higher than that because he has five fingers on that hand. I can get that high too, but I can tell you more who left not of their own choice but of the voters' choice. I say to those who say that we are here because, ha ha we were elected as a majority, just remember, you may think you are important now but the day that you are gone your importance very rapidly disappears. As do many of your new-found friends, they may disappear as well.

[Page 3322]

What is important is that you actually try to honour the commitments that you made and represent the best interests of your constituents. That doesn't just simply mean piling up as much as you can more and more concentrated powers in the hands of, not even the whole Cabinet, but even in just the select hands of the Treasury Board and the Priorities and Planning, which now, according to this bill, can set the policies. They can declare who is and who is not going to be Civil Service. They can say all you want that, gee whiz, the employer, because now the government has decided, let's say, the school board is part of the Civil Service, considered to be under it and fall under the human resources and financial control and dictates of Treasury and P&P, say you have to try to bargain in good faith. If the government sets what the conditions are, you can talk all you want.

Their contracts, their ability to have free collective bargaining is hamstrung and controlled by the government. Of course, the government would say oh, it is not our fault, there is nothing we can do.

It is like in the school board strike here in Halifax with the caretakers, what do you want us to do? Are you telling us that we should take over the school boards and run them? That would be interference, we can't do that. I wonder, how many mice have to run across a classroom floor in order for that classroom to be considered an unsafe work environment? One a day, two a day, three a day. I can tell you that I have heard of one classroom where they identified 12 little critters running across the classroom floor in one day. How about scabies and all kinds of other little issues that government says, oh they aren't health concerns. You know, if children weren't in those, if members of this Legislature were sitting in this House and 12 little critters called mice were to be running across this Chamber and we would say oh, there goes one . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I would ask the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid if he could explain to me the relevance between mice running across the floor and the six months' hoist on Bill No. 20 in a way that would be parliamentary. I would ask the honourable member to bring his comments back to the amendment that is before the House at this time. At this time the honourable member has the floor.

MR. HOLM: I really do appreciate that because not only do you make sure that I am staying on target, but also it increases my challenge to be relevant, Mr. Speaker, and this has been a bit of a challenge. However, over a six month period of time we can take a look at the Department of Education because when you are talking about a bill, it is not only what is in the bill but what is not in the bill, and over that six month period of time that Minister of Education and the department, and others, could be holding hearings and looking at discussions about how maybe the Department of Education - and maybe we could even talk about the Department of Environment and Labour - how those departments can be restructured so that they actually are responsible and actually do take into consideration what is in the best interests of the children. One of those things might be to get rid of the mice; it might also be to get rid of the scabies; it might also be to have classrooms and buildings that

[Page 3323]

are clean and safe; it might also be to look at ways that we can ensure that school boards will actually bargain in good faith with their employees. But you know, all of those kinds of things can be done in a six month period of time.

When you take a look at this legislation that is before us, it certainly doesn't address the issues of fairness, and I could go on about the fact that now, all of a sudden, the government has decided that they don't need to have the approval of this House. I mean, democracy can be messy, to have to bring things back here, to talk about if they want to restructure so that they have more than two departments changing at one time; it can be awkward to come in here, just as this debate is awkward for those who occupy the benches.

I could be spending my time talking about how ineffective, and the fact that government members aren't paying any attention to their own legislation; I have done that before. I could be standing here and urging them to get on their feet and to speak; others have done that, I have done that, and that all fails. (Interruption) I hear the Wal-Mart greeting man. (Interruption)

AN HON. MEMBER: He doesn't understand very much of anything anyway.

MR. HOLM: He said there are 10, instead of 3. I think he has counted and figured out on his two hands, he now has 10 appendages sticking out. I am not sure if that is what he is trying to imply, but I want him to know that there are four fingers and two thumbs and when you put them together you get 10. If that is what you have been able to accomplish, figuring that out and understanding that today, Mr. Speaker, I would say that he gets a gold star; we will give him a gold star on his little record.

Maybe, being the good student that he is, we will also hopefully be able to make him understand that democracy means that sometimes you have to do things that are not the most convenient and that if you are going to protect and preserve democracy and all those freedoms that we talk about, one of the key things, even if it isn't convenient, is to have the House of Assembly, where the elected representatives of the people have an opportunity to examine, to ask hard questions - yes, sometimes some questions that aren't on target; sometimes they aren't the best questions, but they are questions - and to make suggestions sometimes good, sometimes not as good; that's for the people to decide. But it should not ever be questioned that this system is better than any other that exists.

We should, with all of our energies, be opposing anything that is aimed at concentrating power in the hands of a select few, where the decisions are made out of public view without public consultation and without the need for public reporting. That's wrong. There is a strong term that I could use to describe what it is, but I think people can use their imaginations and they know what it is, and I don't want to get close to trespassing on that unparliamentary term. Six months, maybe members opposite can take a look at taking a refresher course in the meaning of democracy.

[Page 3324]

Mr. Speaker, I have copious notes for one to look at. We have had commitments made by the Premier - I talked about them before, I may talk about them again on Monday - and a letter that he signed in 1997 promising public employees certain things. There are other items that I talked about just the other day that I am not going to bother addressing now, because I have raised them before.

But I ask the people opposite, on the government benches, what does this legislation really accomplish that is going to be for the benefit of Nova Scotians? Is it going to address the crisis in education? Is it going to do that? Is it going to address the shortage of resources for specialists in the classrooms? It is not going to address those mice that are running around, or the labour problems that exist here, or the threats that are made by the board towards others, or the letter that the superintendent sent around to teachers telling them not to be unprofessional and to report their concerns to the union, but only to talk to them.

I don't know if the Minister of Education is aware of that letter. If she isn't, I will provide her a copy of it - she is aware of it - I think it had the wrong effect. If I was still in the classroom and I got that letter, I know what I would have said, and I know exactly what I would have done. But I won't say it here because it wouldn't be parliamentary, what I would have been saying, and I think that is probably the reaction of many.

It is not going to address the shortages of health care workers in this province; the fact that the nurses here are the lowest paid in the country; the shortages of doctors; the cancellation of surgeries. This legislation is not going to do any of that, and it is certainly going to do absolutely nothing to improve accountability or transparency in government. In brief, what it does, what this legislation is, quite clearly, is a bill to concentrate more and more power in the selective hands a few. Sometimes the full bunker crowd, the Cabinet; at other times, just a select few, those who are under the direct leadership of our eminent Government House Leader, the Policy Board and the Treasury Board, and even many Cabinet Ministers won't be involved.

Over the weekend, when you are at home having a barbecue - possibly a propane barbecue or one over the coals, because you are unable to cook your hamburgers or hot dogs or steaks over a barbecue that is burning Nova Scotia's natural gas, as others are in other places, or if you have an electric barbecue, you can't use one where the electricity is being produced by the use of our resource, as they are doing in the States - think about what you are doing in this legislation, actually read it, that might be an eye-opening experience for members opposite.

Truthfully, as I take my place, I do believe that, except upon a few, my words of enlightenment this afternoon have probably fallen on deaf ears, because they think that since they have a majority that empowers them to do whatever they wish, and they don't have to listen to Nova Scotians or to advice that can come from the other side of the House. The only

[Page 3325]

real hope is that some of those ministers who actually do have a little bit of experience will take some leadership and help people remember that what goes around, comes around.

They got here because the last government fouled up so badly, and Nova Scotians could hold their nose no longer and they turfed them out. If you want to get turfed out, all this government has to do is to continue to act in the same kind of arrogant, contemptuous manner of Nova Scotians that the former Liberal Government did and that this government's model seems to be trying to follow. Thank you very much.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I rise on this occasion to take part in the debate on the amendment, which will, if successful, move this bill out of this House for six months for consideration. Explaining to the government members why that ought to happen is part of the reason we are here, to try and educate them, to try and make them understand the necessity of holding proper consultations, listening to the debate that will take place, inevitably, around this bill.

I must say, I think it is pretty clear that we require the six months that is set out in this amendment to be able to do that. I must say I was somewhat disappointed with the Government House Leader when I heard his comments to the press, when he talked about how this wasn't really a debate, that there wasn't really anything about the bill that was being achieved here through our attempts to try and educate the government and the government members on the ramifications that this bill would have if it were passed. In fact, Mr. Speaker, the Government House Leader seemed to be entirely focused on getting the bill out of the House, that is what he said, I want to get the bill out of the House.

Mr. Speaker, I guess what the Government House Leader didn't realize, when he was saying that, was that is exactly what this amendment is designed to do; get the bill out of the House for six months, allow people an opportunity to have their input on it, allow an opportunity for frank discussion with government members. I know as the flaws in this bill become more and more evident with the members of the backbench, I am sure there will be a great deal of pressure coming from the backbench members on to the Cabinet when the backbench members actually start to understand what this bill is about. Six months would allow you to do that.

Mr. Speaker, it would do more than that. What it would do is provide the government with some very much-needed credibility. That, in and of itself, would be a major accomplishment of the acceptance of this amendment. Can you imagine? That would do all the things that the government said they intended to do. It would present a process that was transparent; it would provide for some accountability; it would take into account

[Page 3326]

consultation, all the things that you may remember were said by the government members during the election campaign of 1999. I remember it well because, of course, although I was campaigning on a much different platform and policy initiatives, I was listening carefully to what the government members were saying.

Mr. Speaker, I must say, I was listening with disbelief and skepticism and with a certain amount of deeply held, well, I guess skepticism is the best word. I was going to say a critical eye, but you can't just be critical, you have to look at the alternatives. I was doing that when I was watching what is now the government Party unroll their platform, and saying, well, this is all very interesting because it is so contradictory. The government was successful at that time, they managed to convince the bulk of Nova Scotians that they ought to support them, but they supported them, I think, because of the best reasons that were put forward in the platform, which included transparency and accountability and consultation.

Mr. Speaker, you listen to the Government House Leader as he has tried to shepherd this bill through the House and his conversations and interviews with the press, and he says, well you know, for heaven's sake, this bill is about what has already been done; we don't need six months to talk about something we have already put into place. Well, every time a member on this side of the House has gotten up, we have pointed out to the government members and to the Government House Leader that the bill actually says something much different than what the Government House Leader presents, the face that he paints to the public. It is completely different.

Mr. Speaker, it raises the question, how can you believe them? This is the government and the Government House Leader is the individual who just this morning launched into this bizarre explanation of what was the difference between 12:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. and tried to explain that there was a nanosecond just before 12:00 a.m. when it is actually 12:00 p.m. or just before 12:00 p.m. when it is actually 12:00 a.m. Can you imagine having somebody (Interruptions)

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps if the member is talking about time, he could refer to the six months' hoist in his deliberations.

MR. SPEAKER: Not a point of order but certainly a point and well taken. The honourable Leader of the Opposition has the floor and I would ask him to keep his comments to the hoist amendment please.

MR. DEXTER: You are right, Mr. Speaker, it is not a point of order because this is a parable and in case the minister doesn't understand, that's a story to illustrate a point. So if you listen carefully maybe you will get the point.

[Page 3327]

Mr. Speaker, my point is, the reason why you need this is because clearly the government members don't understand what it is that their bill actually says. The same way that they don't understand the difference between a.m. and p.m. Can you imagine, if you were arriving at 12:00 a.m. and you asked me to come out and pick you up at the airport? Well, either I would arrive 12 hours late or you would be 12 hours early, because if you were to arrive at 12:00 a.m. and you had the minister and you had the House Leader picking you up, you are not sure that there is going to be anybody there to greet you, I can tell you. (Laughter) As the Minister of Education very helpfully points out, they might even be six months late.

Just imagine if you could put that kind of construction on something as simple as a.m.. and p.m. just imagine what they could do with everything that is contained in Bill No. 20 and that again, Mr. Speaker, is one of the reasons why you need to have six months in order to be able to examine that.

I was just thinking myself, can you imagine a conversation between the House Leader and Sir Sandford Fleming, can you imagine that conversation taking place. I think it would end in a very stern lecture by Sir Sandford Fleming on the necessity for standard time, Mr. Speaker. That's the point. You know, there is a Heritage Moment that is on the CBC around Sir Sandford Fleming and perhaps the Government House Leader will have the opportunity over the weekend to review that and acquaint himself with the notion of standard time so that in future this confusion won't become the stuff of a point of privilege that takes up one-half hour of the time of this House.

My point is this, Mr. Speaker, that you can't rely on the government's interpretation of anything and that is why you need the six months to be able to explain to the government, to be able to move this bill around the province to get the commentary on it that's necessary in order to convince the government that they are in error when they say this government means one thing and not the other.

As an example, Mr. Speaker, just have a look at the Health Authorities Act. We passed the Health Authorities Act and the Minister of Health stood up time after time and told us that this was about moving out the decision making into the communities. It was about allowing communities to have control over their own health priorities. But since that time, that Act has been about exactly the opposite.

What it has done is that it has centralized decision making on Hollis Street. It has taken away from communities the ability to control their own health care priorities. It has done anything but accomplish and establish the goals that were set out, or at least were said to be the priorities of the bill by the minister. Can you think of a more salient reason for having a cooling off period of six months in order to be able to consider these matters fully. I say to you, again, Mr. Speaker, that it is kind of one of the most profound examples that I have

[Page 3328]

seen come before this House in my time here of a bill that really needed the benefit of this amendment.

I think the Government House Leader, if he was thinking clearly and not muddling around in issues of space and time that he would be recommending this to his Cabinet colleagues, Mr. Speaker, and that what would happen on Monday when we arrive here is the Government House Leader would stand up and say, I heard the advice of the Opposition members and it makes some good sense. Now, that would take some strength, I know, on behalf of the House Leader. It would take some commitment to those principles that he espouses about transparency and consultation and accountability, but it would be greatly appreciated not only by the members on this side but I am sure by the citizenry of this province, from Yarmouth to Meat Cove. It is something that we can all agree on. It is sometimes difficult to make a concession, it is sometimes difficult to say my opponents have a good point, they make a good point. It is time to recognize that it takes some real backbone, takes a real appreciation for your role as a parliamentarian in this House.

So I have hope that perhaps over the weekend, after he finishes reviewing those Heritage Moments, that they will have the opportunity to consider what has been said over the many hours of debate in this House. I say this with the best of intentions, that the restructurings that has gone on through government over the last 10 years alone have cost the people of this province untold millions of dollars in restructuring costs and lost opportunities, Mr. Speaker. I think that if the minister and if the government took the opportunity, took six months to do an examination of that, and to hear from people about their experiences with past restructuring, that we wouldn't be in this position.

I want to use just one example of what happens when you undergo this kind of restructuring, this kind of centralization of power. One of the things that this bill will allow the government to do, in my view, is to take control of the Workers' Compensation Board. You might say, what is wrong with that? If we are going to control the costs of the Workers' Compensation Board, if we are going to try to make it more efficient, if we are going to try to bring it under the closer umbrella of government, what's wrong that with? Well, Mr. Speaker, you may remember - I certainly do - that one of the reasons why the Workers' Compensation Board was placed at arm's length was to prevent the interference by government into the policy decisions that were being made by the government.

I will give you a little example of how that works, Mr. Speaker. As you know, the various sectors, industries are rated. They pay a rate in their workers' compensation premiums and what the government in those days was doing was they were using those premiums as a bargaining chip and they would say to potential employers who were coming to the province, we will bargain you down to a lower sector so you are paying a lower workers' compensation premium.

[Page 3329]

Mr. Speaker, these premiums are set, based on actuarial calculations about how many claims you are going to have to pay out over the lifetime of the fund. When you take an industry or a sector and you bargain down their premiums, what you do is you create a shortfall in the fund. You create a shortfall in the fund so you end up with a Workers' Compensation Board that has a very large unfunded liability because of the interference that took place in years gone by.

So having an opportunity, having six months to look at just that kind of an example, an example where clearly the people of the province were not well-served, where clearly the government ended up in a loss position, where there are not just the philosophical costs associated with interference in a body like the Workers' Compensation Board but tangible costs and actual loss of money that belongs to taxpayers of the province, Mr. Speaker, I think it is a good reason for the government to want to take the opportunity to examine it entirely and fully.

[1:45 p.m.]

I think if they took the opportunity to talk to the people from the Workers' Compensation Board who were there at the time when this was taking place, they would benefit greatly from that advice. I am not sure why it is that you would make a decision like this without consulting in advance, but having failed to do that, then you ought to take advantage of the benefits of an amendment like this to see to it that the consultation takes place. That is just one example of the benefits that could be gained by the government if simply took it upon themselves to listen to the people of the province for a period of time, that would provide them with the ability and opportunity to properly assess the legislation they have brought forward.

I am under the profound impression, Mr. Speaker, that you could go to some of the backbench members of the Legislature here and you could ask them - I want to be specific about that - the backbench government members of the Legislature, and you could go to them with the bill and you could say to them, what does this mean? Quite frankly, I am not sure that you would get the sense that there was a clear understanding of what it meant. I know that as we have been carrying out our examination of it, what has happened is more and more of the flaws in the legislation have been illuminated and they have been illuminated as a result of consultation, they have been illuminated as the result of the application of practical experience to the words of the legislation. That is an immeasurable benefit to not only the Opposition, but should be to the government. This is a government which I think over the last two or three sessions has demonstrated a real thirst for the consolidation of power, a real thirst for stamping out opposition, a real thirst for autocratic governance.

I am sure that is not what they promised, Mr. Speaker, but nonetheless that is what it looks like. Can you imagine, here we have a piece of legislation that will allow the Cabinet to create as many departments as they want and they can do it in secret. They don't even have

[Page 3330]

to bring that decision forward. They can do it at a whim, and what it does is it takes accountability right out of the equation. So there is particular difficulty with that kind of a philosophy.

What it does, Mr. Speaker, is this legislation puts in place a framework for yet more bulky, central administration, downtown bureaucrats who will be dictating to the various parts of this province how government services are going to be delivered in their area. I already pointed out to you how that worked with the district health authorities, how the Health Authorities Act is already starting to show the increased centralization of decision making in Halifax and we are waiting for the rollout of the clinical services footprint. As one person said, it is not a question of the clinical services footprint, but who is going to be underneath that footprint and, clearly, who is going to be underneath it are the towns, villages and hamlets of rural Nova Scotia.

Having six months to be able to examine this bill, we would hope would determine or deter the government from proceeding yet further down that road of establishing what is essentially a central-state agency, Mr. Speaker, this has all the characteristics of some of the 1960's East Bloc-style central planning agencies.

It is ironic because this is a government that said all along that this is exactly what they were opposed to, so why would they, if they are opposed to it, bring forward legislation that is designed to do just exactly that? It is disturbing to see that kind of avaristic tendencies on behalf of a government to consume power for the sake of consuming power.

We have good reason to be concerned about it. Mr. Speaker, democracies, by their very nature, are frail. We in the Legislatures - and the Opposition in particular - are the guardians of the democracy. We are the people who are charged with the responsibility to be both an Opposition and to be loyal. Anybody who knows anything about parliamentary democracy does not see that as a contradiction, they see it as the job of the members who are elected in Opposition to hold the government accountable, to keep them honest, in their pursuit of what is best for the people of the province. That is why we are here, to speak up on behalf of the people of the province, to speak up when we see the government is engaged in behaviour which, even though it doesn't understand it, by its very nature is errant, misses the mark, doesn't serve the greater purpose of our society. That is why we are here.

Mr. Speaker, that is why we think it is incumbent upon the government to use the benefit of this particular amendment to be able to hear the people, to hear the people from Yarmouth, to hear the people from Port Mouton, to hear the people from LaHave, to hear the people from Cape Breton, from Pictou County, to listen to the voices of people from Digby, to have the opportunity to listen to the people from Cumberland County, from Joggins. (Interruptions)

[Page 3331]

The Government House Leader says, what about Hants County, and that's right, Mr. Speaker, all of those people should have the opportunity to indicate to the government how they feel about legislation which is going to centralize the decision making in a bunker of government that is going to be unaccountable, which is going to be shielded from the view of the loyal Opposition, which is going to be much like the government itself, an enigma. It is difficult to understand why a government that says it is committed to transparency and consultation would not vote in favour of an amendment that is designed to provide exactly that which the government says it is in favour of.

Mr. Speaker, I say with all sincerity, our job here is to try to assist the government in the proper execution of its duties, that is why this legislation has come forward and that is why we have been doing our best to stand united on this side, to point out the folly of simply blindly passing this legislation without the examination it deserves.

That is why I say to you, Mr. Speaker, the six months' amendment, commonly referred to around these parts as the hoist, is in this case very beneficial to the operation of the government. I would think, when you are talking about things like the continued privatization of government services, whether it is the liquor store or others, that is something that bears some scrutiny. There are already being serious questions raised about why you want to put liquor stores in positions where they are adjacent to or closely connected with pharmacies and what that means. There are broad public policy reasons why you might not want to do that.

We don't know because we haven't heard from the government the rationale on this and I am given to understand from the wise counsel of the member for Sackville-Cobequid that there are some very practical reasons why this piece of legislation might want to go ahead on that particular count. But the bill fails to clearly articulate the circumstances that that is intended to deal with. As a result, it could be interpreted far more broadly; in fact, it could cover the entire clock face of issues and we just can't have legislation that is vague, that is not specific, that doesn't clear up the ambiguities but, in fact, creates more ambiguities than it clears up. I guess that's the real point. I think if the government took the opportunity to have a proper vetting of this over the next six months, it would be an opportunity to draft some real amendments that could deal with those kinds of flaws as they have been uncovered.

Mr. Speaker, you don't have to go too far to see examples of where there is a great deal of mistrust around the things that the government says. I think back just a few days, in fact I think to yesterday, in the custodial dispute that's going on in the Halifax Regional School Board, when both parties asked for the appointment of a mediator and the Minister of Environment and Labour takes it upon himself to say, I don't think the appointment of a mediator will solve anything. Well, to illustrate my point about why you need the six months to be able to draft appropriate language for the bill, is just thinking like that. Here he has two parties that have made a request that makes good sense, that has a commonality of purposes,

[Page 3332]

which is very, very important if you are going to achieve consensus, and a senior member of government dismisses it.

How do you think the people who look at Bill No. 20 feel when they bring forward these kinds of suggestions, these kinds of amendments that are designed to do the work of the Opposition or of the government to improve the bill, and it is dismissed without so much as a how do you do, it is just thrown out the door and they just simply say, that's not what the legislation means and we are not prepared to listen to you? Anytime you shut the doors, Mr. Speaker, and you keep people out, then all that does is create tension, all it does is create distrust, all it does is create conflict.

By refusing to allow consultations on this bill - perhaps unknowingly that is what the Government House Leader is doing - just think about it, in six months' time, you could be taking this to the Masonic Hall in Milton and you could bring people in from Milton Road East and Milton Road West, and they could meet at the Masonic Hall and the government could explain the purpose of its bill and the people of the town could communicate their concerns to the government and we could bring it back to this Legislature and we could have a better bill. We could have a piece of legislation that serves the people of the province.

Mr. Speaker, do you know what I hear when I go out in my constituency and when I go out across the province? The people of the province keep saying to me, every time I turn around, the government is doing something to me instead of something for me. That's what people are tired of. They say consistently to members of the Legislature from all sides, I want a government that meets my needs, I want a government that responds to the concerns that I have, I want a government that listens. Well, this bill is the antithesis of listening. It shuts down debate, it shuts out the people. It is a bill that champions the role of secret government. It champions the insidiousness of government that does thing behind people's backs.

[2:00 p.m.]

Now surely that was not what was intended by the Government House Leader when he brought this bill forward. We have an opportunity, courtesy of this amendment, much like the amendment that I introduced earlier, which would have sent the bill off to the Human Resources Committee for study. The government, for whatever reason, saw fit to oppose that amendment; perhaps they thought that the Human Resources Committee was not the right committee for it to go to. I don't know. All I know is that they decided to pass up that opportunity to have consultation; they decided to pass up that opportunity to enter into a conversation between them and the people they represent; and they passed up the opportunity to enter into a dialogue to try and reach a common understanding, Mr. Speaker.

The minister says well if you would have allowed this to go forward to the Law Amendments Committee. Well, you know, Mr. Speaker, one of the unfortunate things about the Law Amendments Committee is the Law Amendments Committee doesn't travel. It

[Page 3333]

doesn't get outside of Halifax. It doesn't have the opportunity to hear from all the people. I think, in part, it is perhaps the government that doesn't want to listen to those parts of the province that it most represents. I don't understand that, but perhaps that it the rationale. I think it would be unfortunate and, in fact, somewhat lamentable if that was the government's intention.

Mr. Speaker, the one thing that I have learned in travelling this province, especially in rural Nova Scotia, whether it is in Yarmouth or Woods Harbour or Lunenburg, is that the people in rural Nova Scotia have a lot to offer. They have a lot in their common experience, a lot in their common understanding that would be of great benefit if the government was prepared to listen. That is why I am disappointed when I hear the Government House Leader say it is time to get this bill out of the House. What he really means is it is not time to get the bill out of the House in the sense to get it out for an airing, to take it out and consult with people, what he means is it is time to get it out of the House because they are tired of listening to reasoned debate. They are tired of listening to the loyal Opposition, and they are tired of the functioning of the process of democracy.

Mr. Speaker, that is a pretty sad commentary, because when the people elected me and they elected my colleagues, they didn't say to any of us, look, we want you to go to the House of Assembly and kowtow to the wishes of the majority. They didn't say we want you to roll over on every piece of legislation that the government brings forward. They didn't say that. What they said, in fact, was that we know that the functioning of democracy depends on the proper operation of both the government side and the Opposition side. That is what Parliament is about; that is the structure of our democracy.

It is our job to hold the members of the government accountable for the legislation that they bring forward, and when it is legislation like Bill No. 20 that is aimed at creating a bigger central agency, creating more downtown bureaucracy, and it is aimed at hiring more high-priced Deputy Ministers like Tom Ward in the Department of Health and pay them $180,000, I think, for that particular Deputy Minister, and we have no idea what the administrative costs in the Department of Health will finally top out at - no idea - the deputy minister, assistant deputy minister, associate deputy minister, district health authority piled on district health authority, and more CEOs with bigger contracts, Mr. Speaker, no wonder the nurses are saying, we feel undervalued when we look at ourselves when compared to what is being done with the administration.

We are the front-line health care workers. We are the ones who are providing the care. They're the ones, the administration and the bureaucracy are the ones who are getting the compensation, the big bucks, the remuneration and that is unfair. (Interruption)

They are right, Mr. Speaker, surely to goodness being in government is about more than being able to cut big cheques to your friends. I mean surely it is about more than that. Surely it is about more than finding jobs for Guy LeBlanc and LeRoy Legere. It has got to

[Page 3334]

be about more than that. It has got to be about more than finding two tons of gravel for a friend or a colleague. It has got to be about more than that. (Interruptions)

We have seen all those things happen before, Mr. Speaker. With that, I have already had an hour of time to speak on the restructuring generally. I have taken the better part of another hour to try to educate the government about the ills of this bill. I know that the members on the other side, they always make sure that there are enough of them here to attend whenever I am speaking and I am always pleased of that and, hopefully, some of what I have said will get through to them. With that, I want to thank you for the opportunity to intervene on Bill No. 20 today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I believe that is all the members, at least on the Opposition side, who have spoken or had the ability to speak, or had the opportunity I should say. The question is being called on the amendment. Is the House ready for the question?

A recorded vote is being called for.

Ring the bells. Call in the members.

[2:00 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[2:15 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Deveaux Mr. Rodney MacDonald

Ms. Maureen MacDonald Mr. Christie

Mr. Dexter Mr. Baker

Mr. Holm Mr. Russell

Mr. Downe Mr. LeBlanc

Dr. Smith Mr. Muir

Mr. Boudreau Miss Purves

Mr. Samson Mr. Balser

Mr. Pye Ms.McGrath

Mr. MacDonell Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Epstein Mr. Olive

Mr. Steele Mr. Morse

[Page 3335]

Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. Dooks

Mr. Chataway

Mr. Hendsbee

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Carey

Mr. Morash

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

THE CLERK: For, 12. Against, 21.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is defeated.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

MRS. MURIEL BAILLIE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure this afternoon, on behalf of Bill Langille, the honourable member for Colchester North, to introduce a group of students here this afternoon. They are the students from the Northumberland Christian School. There are 12 students, accompanied by 7 adults. Now I am not acquainted with all the adults, but I do know a couple of them. Leroy and his wife, Gwen, have accompanied them. I will ask the group to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House, please. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

MR. CECIL O'DONNELL: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery, I would like to introduce to the House two reasons why I won that massive majority vote in Shelburne County. (Laughter) As a matter of fact, if it wasn't for either one of those ladies not showing up, I probably wouldn't be here today. But I would ask that Marlene Smith from Clarke's Harbour and Kay Mood from Beaverdam stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview, back on the main motion.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to go back to the main motion this afternoon on second reading of Bill No. 20, Government Restructuring (2001) Act. We have spent a good deal of time on a couple of amendments. The first amendment being to refer the bill to the Human Resources Committee, which I certainly felt and I said that I thought was a good motion because there is great deal more information that Nova Scotians could have about Bill No. 20 that they don't currently have. Then we spent time debating a second amendment proposing that the bill be read six months from now instead

[Page 3336]

of now. I supported that amendment as well because I felt that there is a great deal that needs to be known about this bill that is not currently known, more details to be worked out.

Mr. Speaker, at that time, I rose in my place to put forward a proposal that I believe has a certain amount of merit about how to eliminate patronage from agencies, boards and commission appointments. The creation of the Public Service Commission, as proposed by Bill No. 20, seems to me to be the opportunity that we have all been waiting for to once and for all eliminate inappropriate patronage from agencies, boards and commission appointments in Nova Scotia, a problem that has plagued us throughout our history.

Although I raised that point on the hoist amendment, Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by commending to the government's attention the points that I made. I think the arguments I put forward were valid, that the proposal for reform of appointments to agencies, boards and commissions is a valid one, with merit that is worthy of the government's attention, even though the hoist amendment was just defeated. But I am not going to spend my time this afternoon going over that ground again; it is in Hansard and I certainly hope, in the spirit of public debate and positive suggestions from the Opposition, that the government will be able to consider the ideas that I put forward.

What I would like to talk about now, Mr. Speaker, now that we are back on the main motion, now that we are back on the principle of Bill No. 20, it is very disturbing the lack of information and a certain amount of information about what exactly Bill No. 20 is all about. The sponsor of the bill, the honourable Government House Leader, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, was quoted in the local paper of last Saturday saying that the bill is perfectly straightforward; it is a restructuring that has already taken place. When I read that before, I tabled that particular article, although I think the Government House Leader is familiar with it.

It is true, Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 20 is a recognition of a restructuring that has already taken place. Now, the difficulty with it is that although it has already taken place, and in some cases quite some time ago, the government has not laid before this House, has not laid before the public of Nova Scotia, one piece of information indicating that the restructuring has actually resulted already in better government, or that it will result in better government. The government hasn't put one shred of information before the House that the restructuring, which has already happened, has resulted in one taxpayer's dollar being more wisely spent or that one taxpayer's dollar will be more wisely spent.

One would have thought, Mr. Speaker, that since the government had at least some of this restructuring already under its belt, that the evidence would be readily available, that if the evidence were positive and showed either that there was going to be more effective government, or that taxpayers' money was going to be more wisely spent, the evidence would be on the table; not just on the table, but shouted from the rooftop, but none of that information is before us.

[Page 3337]

Even though I certainly acknowledge that part of Bill No. 20 is to legalize, legitimize the restructuring - which has already taken place, I must say how disappointed I am that the government has not laid before this House, or the people of Nova Scotia, one shred of evidence that it is actually going to make things better because, after all, Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 20 is a long and complicated bill . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member for Halifax Fairview allow for an introduction?

MR. STEELE: Certainly, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

MR. CECIL O'DONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Halifax Fairview for giving me this time. In the east gallery today - this is a great day for Shelburne County, I guess - we have Bonnie Shand and Nancy Baker. I would ask that they rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome all visitors to the House today.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I certainly too do extend my greeting and welcome to visitors in the gallery as we debate this very important bill.

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, Bill No. 20 is a long, somewhat complex bill, but at the end of the day what we all have to do is to be able to say to our constituents who come to ask us about this bill - they say, well what's all the fuss about, why are the gates at Province House being locked? Why are some people apparently so unhappy about it? Why is it, they say to me, that you are sitting 16 hour days and, Mr. Speaker, I wish I had a better explanation. I wish I had an explanation as simple as the one offered by the Government House Leader when he said that this bill simply recognizes the restructuring that has already taken place. I wish it were that simple, but it is not, it is not that simple at all.

Although I will acknowledge readily that Bill No. 20 is about recognizing the restructuring that has already taken place, it is so very much more than that, Mr. Speaker. It is so very much more than that and it is in the details of how much further the government is going, than simply recognizing restructuring, that our concern lies. In a nutshell, the government says - or what little we have heard from the government, because really the only speaker who stood up for the government to explain the government's understanding of the bill is the Government House Leader who gave brief remarks as he moved second reading of the bill. The only thing that the government will say is that it is about increasing accountability.

[Page 3338]

That is why, Mr. Speaker, I find it somewhat ironic that the government that claims this bill is increasing the accountability of the public sector to the Cabinet, that this very same bill also results in that Cabinet being less accountable to this Legislature. I would like to talk for a minute about the powers that Bill No. 20 gives the Cabinet, not the members over there on the other side, who really have no more powers than I do sitting here in Opposition, but the powers that the Cabinet and, in many cases, not even the Cabinet but a committee of Cabinet to be called the Treasury and Policy Board, the powers that these few people hunkered down in office buildings in downtown Halifax will have over many aspects of the lives of Nova Scotians.

I want to talk about some of the powers that these few people, I think there are 12 of them, 12 Cabinet Ministers and how many members of the Treasury and Policy Board - well we don't know but we can expect 5. So what are the powers that Bill No. 20 gives to these five and why is it that my constituents and their constituents should be so concerned about it?

Mr. Speaker, I would like to cite a few examples and I am citing these examples, not to get into detailed debate on the clauses, because, of course, as I know full well that comes later in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, but as simple illustrations of a broader point about the way this bill gives the executive, by which I mean those 5 or 11 or 12 Cabinet Ministers, gives them power. This bill deletes a restriction on government power that currently exists, that requires the government to come back to the Legislature if it creates more than two departments. Governments need a certain amount of flexibility, and the Legislature in its wisdom before, said that it is okay to create two departments without legislative approval but there can't be more. But what this bill does is completely remove that restriction.

Mr. Speaker, the impact of that is that this government, indeed, any future government, need never come back to this House to seek this House's approval of restructuring of government. That just seems wrong to me, that a government that claims the bill is about accountability is, at the same time, not just reducing, but eliminating its accountability to this House, to the elected representatives of the people as it goes about restructuring government.

[2:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that in their minds and in their adviser's minds that they intend to use this power for good and not for evil, but they don't know what shape governments will take in the future. They don't know how long they will be over there. Certainly they won't be over there forever, history shows that. Eventually they will wind up on this side and someone else will wind up on that side. Politics is fluid enough that we have no way of knowing who is going to end up on that side. We have no way of knowing how future governments are going to use that power. The protection of the people is that approvals of this kind of restructuring of government have to come before this House, and if this provision

[Page 3339]

is passed, no future government need ever come back before this House to seek the approval of the House, to seek the people's approval of restructuring. Mr. Speaker, that seems to me to be fundamentally wrong.

Mr. Speaker, this bill gives the executive another power which seems to me to be wrong, and that is that it gives Cabinet the power to create institutions of government to be called "offices" and also gives the government the ability to prescribe their "functions, powers and duties." So, what this government is presenting to this Legislature, or gives any future government, is the power to create an unlimited number of these offices with the Cabinet - not all the members on that side, but only the Cabinet Ministers - the power to create these institutions and tell those institutions what their mandate is.

Now, I would have thought that the members on that side in particular, whose Party philosophy includes a very real sense of the limitations of government, that government ought to have a small role, as small a role as possible, in people's lives, would take a second look at a provision that allows any government to create an unlimited number of these beasts called offices and to tell those offices what exactly it is that their powers are, because up until now the creation of that kind of institution has been the prerogative of the Legislature; not of the Cabinet, but of the Legislature.

Now, the Government House Leader is quoted as saying that all that Bill No. 20 does is recognize the restructuring that has already taken place. To a certain extent that is true because the government has already created two offices, the Office of Aboriginal Affairs and the Petroleum Directorate, but the creation and the mandate of those offices is laid out in other parts of Bill No. 20. So, if all this bill was doing was recognizing a restructuring that had already taken place, why is it that the government hasn't just stopped at the creation of offices that already exist, the Petroleum Directorate and Office of Aboriginal Affairs?

Why have they cloaked themselves with the power to create any number of offices in future and to prescribe their powers? Surely they are not giving themselves the power without some idea of what it is they are going to do with that power; I find it hard to believe that they would come before the Legislature with no particular idea about what they are going to do, but simply give themselves and any future government the power to do this at will and at whim.

We have no information about what the government's intentions are. Certainly one can search in vain in Bill No. 20 for any explanation; one can search in vain in Hansard for any explanation in the Government House Leader's introduction of the bill about why those provisions are there. So we on this side of the House and the people of Nova Scotia have some reason to be concerned, to be afraid of a government that gives its executive these unlimited powers with no explanation, no public explanation of what it is that the government intends to do with that power. As I said before, I am sure that in the minds of the government members and in the minds of their Civil Service advisors, they believe that they

[Page 3340]

will use these powers for good and not for evil. We need more than that to protect our rights and liberties, we need governments who pass legislation only so far as is necessary and not so as to ensure that no future creation of an office need ever come before this Legislature again.

Mr. Speaker, very similar points could be made about the parts of Bill No. 20 that create another unknown beast called "special operating agencies." Now there is one important difference between a special operating agency and an office, these unknown beasts that Bill No. 20 allow this or any other government to create, and that is that an office apparently gets created out of nothing. For example, when we didn't have an oil and gas industry we didn't need a Petroleum Directorate, but what the provisions dealing with special operating agencies allow the government to do is not to create a new office, but to designate any existing part of the government as one of these so-called special operating agencies.

It also empowers the government to enact - Mr. Speaker, I should be more precise in my language. It is not the government that creates these special operating agencies, and this time it is not even the Cabinet that creates them, it is the new Treasury and Policy Board which, at the end of the day, consists of five Cabinet Ministers. Five people hunkered down in an office in downtown Halifax get to create these bodies called special operating agencies and not only that, but gets to set their so-called operating charters which sets out exactly what their mandate is and what their powers are.

Mr. Speaker, one may search in vain in Hansard in the Government House Leader's remarks for what it is that this government intends to do with that provision. Why do we need it? What is it for? What are they going to do with it? Surely to heavens, the government isn't enacting this just because it would be a good idea at some point, maybe. Surely they are not proposing such a measure to the House if they didn't have a very good idea of exactly what parts of government they want to designate as special operating agencies and, if they do, then it is their prerogative, as a government, to bring that before the House because they are accountable to this Legislature, and that's something that they don't seem to have taken into account in the drafting of Bill No. 20.

Although they want everybody else to be accountable, it doesn't appear that they are very interested in being accountable to this House, because these unknown bodies, these special operating agencies formed of any part of the existing Civil Service can be created and then given a whole new mandate, a mandate different than the one that has already been voted on and approved by this Legislature, and they don't even need to come back to this House for approval. What does that mean? What parts of the Civil Service is it that they intend to designate as special operating agencies and what are the implications of that designation? I would be very interested to hear the answer to that, but so far we have had no explanation. The Opposition has had no explanation. The public has had no explanation.

[Page 3341]

So, Mr. Speaker, we are a little afraid of what the government is doing here. We think the people of Nova Scotia should be a little afraid of a government that would cloak itself with unlimited powers and yet offer no explanation of what it intends to do with those powers.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that in their minds and in their hearts they believe that the creation of special operating agencies will be a good thing, that it will lead to a more effective and efficient Public Service, but they owe it to this House, they owe it to the people who elected them to tell us, to tell the people what it is they intend to do with this power, and there has been no explanation. I am sure that the passage of Bill No. 20 would be a great deal easier, a great deal smoother if the government were to come forward to explain its intentions so that we could shape Bill No. 20 to make sure that it matches those stated intentions rather than giving the government, well, not the government, not even the Cabinet, but the five ministers who sit on the Treasury and Policy Board the unlimited power to fundamentally reshape the Civil Service.

In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, there is the provision giving the government the power and, again I want to be precise, it is not the government, it is not the Cabinet, it is not even the Treasury and Policy Board, this time it is any single Cabinet Minister to be given the power to enter into any agreement with anybody ". . . providing for a joint undertaking . . . of any project within the member's mandate . . ."

Mr. Speaker, it has been said by myself and it has been said by others, inside and outside this Legislature, that this broad power could give this government or any future government, whether it is next month, next year, 10 years or 20 years from now, the power to contract out and privatize any government service or program. I am sure that in their minds and in their hearts they don't intend to do that. By the same token, I can't imagine why any government would put a provision like this before this House, if it didn't intend to exercise it. I think that that government owes it this House and owes it to the people of Nova Scotia to explain why this provision is in the bill. How is it that this government proposes to use it?

If the explanation is simple and straightforward, if it is simply a restructuring of agreements that have already been entered into, well, so be it. That would be just fine. Then this House could work on shaping those provisions so that it recognizes and supports but does not go beyond agreements that have already been entered into. What they are proposing to do in Bill No. 20 is to grant themselves an unlimited power to enter into a joint undertaking with anybody to do anything.

Mr. Speaker, that is what it says. That is what the words of Bill No. 20 say. If they don't intend to do that, then they owe an explanation to this House, and they owe an explanation to my constituents and their constituents about what they mean by it. The people of Nova Scotia, the working people of Nova Scotia, it will come as no surprise to the members on that side, are very protective about certain things, about their homes, their

[Page 3342]

families, their jobs, their communities. They do not want government intruding on that, and I am sure that government doesn't intend to do that.

But it is precisely because the people of Nova Scotia are so protective of those things that are so dear to them that they want their government to limit its intrusions into their lives, to explain, to consult, to talk to them before anything is done. It is very frightening for people to see a government that is clothing itself with what on paper is an unlimited power, even if in their hearts and minds they don't intend to use it for any nefarious purpose, which I am sure is the case. Surely they owe it to the people to explain to them what this provision is for.

Mr. Speaker, so far we have heard nothing. We have heard nothing from the Cabinet, we have heard nothing from any other member on the government side about what this is for. Now, the members on that side, although principally from a sitting position in a way that is not recorded and for which they not accountable, accuses the Opposition of fearmongering, scare-mongering and exaggerating. What we are doing or what I am doing is simply reading the words that are in the bill. If that is what is happening, if we are raising spectres that are unreasonable or that do not exist, that is what debate is for, that is what this House is for, that is why we are all here, that is why we are elected, to put real debate on the record, to hear from the government about what this is for. We do not have that information right now; we do not have that information before us about what this provision is for.

Mr. Speaker, the last example I will give from the bill of this general taking of power by the executive from this Legislature, from this precious Legislature, the power that they are taking is that they are giving the Treasury and Policy Board, not the Cabinet, but those five Cabinet Ministers, the power to issue administrative directives and rules and regulations governing the Public Service. That doesn't sound so terrible, although I would certainly feel a lot happier if there was any provision in the bill for making sure that any such directive or rule or regulation were made public, because I can say as a person who has devoted his professional career to administrative law, that it is not entirely clear that the Regulations Act would apply to these instruments in Bill No. 20, these instruments hitherto unknown to the law. Principally, these administrative directives that the Regulations Act would apply to them so that they have to be made public. That is a side issue.

[2:45 p.m.]

The real kicker is not the fact that they are creating a whole bunch of new instruments that must be followed, the real kicker, Mr. Speaker, is that bill gives this government the power, or the Cabinet the power, to define what the Public Service is to which all these directives, rules and regulations apply. What the bill says is that they can define as being part of the Public Service anybody, any institution that receives money from the government.

[Page 3343]

Now, Mr. Speaker, that is much broader than what you or I or any person on the street or any of my constituents believe is meant by the Public Service. That includes charities of all kinds, non-profit groups, community groups of all kinds. We all have them in our constituency and, to a larger or lesser degree, many of them receive money from the government. What this bill does is it gives the Cabinet the power to designate any particular body or any class of bodies as being part of the Public Service simply because they receive money from the government and then making those bodies subject to every mysterious administrative directive or rule or regulation that the Cabinet cares to issue or not even the Cabinet because the bill allows the new Public Service Commission to issue administrative directives on its own authority. So now it is not even the Cabinet or committee of Cabinet or an individual Cabinet Minister, it is something yet further removed from this House, namely the Public Service Commission.

Mr. Speaker, if the government doesn't intend to do that, if it doesn't intend to bring in within the web cast by Bill No. 20, all these community organizations and non-profits and the hundreds and hundreds of organizations that do good work and to do that good work receive a little bit of money from the government, if it doesn't intend to take them, well then, for heaven's sake, the government needs to say so. It needs to stand up and say that is not our intention. We are never going to do that. Because if the government were to stand up and say that, we could work with them to shape Bill No. 20 to make sure that it doesn't go any further than it ought to go, to make sure that even if this government intends to use it for good and not for evil, that no future government will be able to use it for nefarious purposes, because the great responsibility of sitting on that side of the House is that on that side of the House, they get to pass laws that are applicable to everyone in the province and for all time until they are changed again by this House.

So the bill that the government seeks to pass could very well be the law of Nova Scotia 100 years from now if the Legislature never changes it, Mr. Speaker, and that is why it is so important that this government outline what it intends to do with the power it is giving itself. That is why it is important that Bill No. 20 be no broader than it has to be to achieve the government's objective.

Mr. Speaker, that is the first part of the theme that I wanted to pursue this afternoon and that is the lack of information that this House has, the lack of information that my constituents have, that lack of information that their constituents have about what this government intends to do with these very broad powers that it is giving itself. Before Bill No. 20 passes through this House, that government owes an explanation to the people of how these very broad powers are going to be used. It owes that to the people.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to move on then from the lack of information that this House has to what I might call misinformation or perhaps inaccurate understandings that the members on that side of the House may have. What I would like to do is to illustrate that

[Page 3344]

theme with one example, namely the Workers' Compensation Board. The government says that this bill is about accountability.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member for Halifax Fairview allow for an introduction.

MR. STEELE: Certainly, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the opportunity and time to introduce two very special guests in the Speaker's Gallery this afternoon. The guests are my colleague, the member for Colchester North's sister-in-law Elena Wright and her husband Dennis. We would ask the House to give them a warm welcome that is appropriate. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Wright, as everyone knows is a Truro police officer. Again, like the honourable member said, brother-in-law and sister-in-law to the honourable member for Colchester North and welcome to the House today.

I thank the honourable member for Halifax Fairview for allowing the introduction. You have the floor.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I certainly welcome our guests to the House today.

Mr. Speaker, I was talking about the theme of misinformation, or perhaps inaccurate understanding, and I would like to illustrate that by talking about the Workers' Compensation Board. The Workers' Compensation Board and the changes to its accountability structure is something that is woven throughout Bill No. 20 and in a number of different way the accountability structure of the Workers' Compensation Board is being changed by Bill No. 20.

Mr. Speaker, for four and a half years I worked for the Workers' Compensation Board; for four and a half years I was the board's general counsel, which means that I was the principal legal adviser to the board and so the accountability structure is something that I know a little bit about. I think there is a great deal of misunderstanding about the board. Now, I am not standing here to defend the board, I am simply saying that accountability structures are not quite as cut and dried perhaps as members on that side of the House believe.

Mr. Speaker, the Workers' Compensation Board was created in 1915, one of the oldest agencies, boards and commissions in Nova Scotia. Its history, up until 1992, was rife with mismanagement, incompetence, patronage; it was controversial almost from the day it was

[Page 3345]

created and has been a continuing subject over the years, of debate, amendment, inquiry in this House and has been the subject of a great deal of consternation to injured workers, their families, and employers outside the House.

Mr. Speaker, things had reached such a bad state that in 1992 a fundamental reform had to be undertaken. Political interference had gotten to a level where effective management had ceased. The board had an unfunded liability of hundreds of millions of dollars, which was a shocking amount in a province of this size. The Don Cameron Government, to its credit, finally recognized that reform had to happen, deep fundamental reform.

Mr. Speaker, one of the first and best things it did was to appoint as the new Chairman of the board, Dr. Robert Elgie, a former Cabinet Minister from the Bill Davis Government in Ontario and a fine gentleman that I was very pleased and proud to work with during the time that I was there. Dr. Elgie had been the Chairman of the Ontario Workers' Compensation Board and knew a great deal about how workers' compensation boards did and should work.

One of the next acts of the Cameron Government was to appoint a board of directors that was equally balanced between representatives of employers and representatives of workers. Some fine and capable and committed people were appointed to that board. Under the direction of Dr. Elgie, one of the board's first acts was to hire a new Chief Executive Officer, Mr. David Stuewe, who, again, Mr. Speaker, is one of the reasons why the board has come so far so fast because he and Dr. Elgie undertook fundamental change. I think credit has to be given where credit is due and that started under the Cameron Conservative Government.

Mr. Speaker, that board has come a long way. The last Liberal Government, for better or for worse, controversial but necessary perhaps, again engaged in fundamental reform and completely rewrote the Workers' Compensation Act, the first real rewriting and updating of the Workers' Compensation Act since 1915. The former Act, for heaven's sake, still referred to assessment rates for people who owned ox carts, and that was in 1995. It was shamefully out of date.

The key is, Mr. Speaker, that the operational independence of the board and the fundamental accountability of that board to its stakeholders is what enabled the board to come as far as it has and make the changes that it needed to make. The board is flexible and independent and that was important and necessary to pull it out of this history of patronage and incompetence.

What this government proposes to do in Bill No. 20 is remove the operational independence of the WCB to put the board, once again, under the yoke of the wise people in downtown Halifax. That is not necessarily a good thing. I know that every government

[Page 3346]

likes to think that it has all the answers, that it knows what to do, that if only it barks out the right orders, things will be okay.

Mr. Speaker, the WCB, which enjoys a great deal of operational independence is coming along very well, thank you very much, and just about the last thing it needs is, once again, to come under the thumb of the central government which did so much damage. That is not to say that the Workers' Compensation Board in its form is not accountable, something the members on that side of the House may not know, or if they do know they may have forgotten, that there is no taxpayers' money in the Workers Compensation Board. In fact, exactly the opposite, the government takes money out of the Workers Compensation Board in order to fund occupational health and safety. In concept and function, the Workers' Compensation Board . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member like to move adjournment of debate?

MR. STEELE: Certainly, Mr. Speaker. I so move.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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 Monday at the hour of 2:00 p.m., that is 2:00 p.m., and the House will sit until 12:00 midnight, 23:59, I think, if you want to be really correct. (Interruptions) That is counting the nanoseconds. The order of business will be the continuation of second reading of Bill No. 20. The agreement that we have, as I understand it, is that if the bill should clear the House prior to 23:59, 12:00 midnight or whatever, we shall adjourn for the evening.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn until 2:00 p.m. on Monday.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

We stand adjourned until 2:00 p.m. Monday.

[The House rose at 3:00 p.m.]

[Page 3347]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1104

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 athletics play a significant role in the development of both individual and group communication skills; and

Whereas it is one thing to participate in a sport, but a true reflection of dedication and commitment to be a leader and a recognized contender; and

Whereas it takes a tremendous amount of effort, sacrifice and focus to raise your skill set to a level that is recognized as competitive by judges and fellow athletes;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize Amherst Aerials gymnasts Samantha Landry, Krysten Landry and Leanne Brown, who placed fifth, second and eighth, respectively, in their categories, in a recent open meet held in Dartmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 1105

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 it is rewarding to see our youth excel in academics, athletics and even business, it is truly a pleasure to witness their philanthropic initiative and their commitment to charitable organizations and others that give back to the community; and

Whereas there are so many groups that need volunteers, it often makes it difficult to find one particular organization where your efforts will help, all the while giving the individual a chance to develop their own skill sets; and

Whereas charitable contributions by youth in high school or junior high school are often perceived differently than the other extracurricular activities that students may pursue, the reality is that it still requires the same level of commitment and sacrifice to become a leader, a contributor and to make a difference;

[Page 3348]

Therefore be it resolved that the House recognize the members of two teams from the Amherst St. John Ambulance who finished first and second in the provincial Cadet First Aid Competition and more specifically acknowledge the team of Holly Cameron, Alex Creamer, Becky Farrow and Cory Gilroy and their coach, Cindy Bird, who will be representing Nova Scotia at the Canadian championships in Toronto in May. Thank you for making a difference.

RESOLUTION NO. 1106

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 Nova Scotia Fruit Grower's Association annually sponsors a dessert contest in support of the internationally famous Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival; and

Whereas this dessert features the use of apples as an essential ingredient in the recipe; and

Whereas seven different local restaurants and their respective chefs submitted mouth-watering recipes to this year's contest which was held in Berwick Lion's Hall on Sunday, April 6th;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate third place winner Ellen Kennie of the Evangeline Inn and Motel, second place winner Liz Creemer of the Best Western Aurora Inn, and first place winner Scott Laceby of the Blomidon Inn for the culinary achievement.

RESOLUTION NO. 1107

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 Dana LeBlanc and Gordon McLeod know the deal and have their strategy ready to face opponents at the Royal Canadian Legion Maritime Cribbage Championships; and

Whereas Dana and Gordon are pegged for winners with scores of support from their Westville Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion; and

[Page 3349]

Whereas this team, two-time Nova Scotia cribbage champions, will join nine other Nova Scotian teams for a fresh round of play at the Maritime championships in Yarmouth;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House wish Dana LeBlanc and Gordon McLeod good luck and good fun.

RESOLUTION NO. 1108

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 Pictou Landing Mi'kmaq First Nations community has received the Coastal Communities Network's Resource Management Award for their development of sustainable forest practices; and

Whereas this Pictou Landing community is also the first Nova Scotian community, and the only Canadian First Nations community, to be certified by the internationally recognized Forest Stewardship Council; and

Whereas this well-deserved recognition comes after 15 years of dedicated work to protect and restore degraded forests in three woodlots totalling over 1,000 acres;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Pictou Landing First Nations on their award and for their commitment to sustainable forestry practices, and commend lands manager Dan MacDonald for remaining steadfast in promoting the social, economic and environmental benefits of sustainable yield forestry.

RESOLUTION NO. 1109

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 Pictou County hockey prowess has been on display for the past two years as the Stanley Cup has been brought home by members of the past two Stanley Cup winners, Jon Sim of the Dallas Stars in 1999 and Colin White of the New Jersey Devils in 2000; and

Whereas it appears Andrew Joudrey of Westville might be the latest in the long line of Pictou County hockey players to succeed on the ice; and

[Page 3350]

Whereas examples of his winning ways include his role in the success of the Nova Scotia pee wee minor team, scoring the winning and tying goal in the team's recent victory at the Cape Breton Fire Invitational, and also by chipping in five goals and two assists in the team's win at the Nova Scotia Fury Elite Invitational Minor Division Championship;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Andrew Joudrey of Westville on his recent success on the ice and wish him all the best with his hockey career in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 1110

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 for years, the Pictou County chapter of the Victorian Order of Nurses has provided valuable service to the people in the area; and

Whereas the VON in Pictou County has organized a four kilometre walk-a-thon, the Walk for Life, to be held May 27th at the Scott Weeks Sports Complex; and

Whereas the funds raised will be used to support VON charitable programs and services such as foot care, school health program, volunteer support network and transportation programs in Pictou County;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish the Pictou County VON all the best in their Walk for Life and also thank them for their many community activities over the years.

RESOLUTION NO. 1111

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas the Mayor of Monterey, California, Mr. Dan Albert, and his wife Joanne, along with Mr. and Mrs. Jack Holt of Pacific Grove, California, will be inducted into Nova Scotia's Order of Good Times over the weekend at the Beach House in Fox River, Cumberland County; and

[Page 3351]

Whereas The Order of Good Times is the oldest social club in North America, having been first formed at Port Royal in Annapolis County on November 14, 1606; and

Whereas the requirements to be a member of Nova Scotia's Order of Good Times is that you stay at least three days in our great province, have a good time while you are here, remember us pleasantly while speaking kindly of us and promising to return once again;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this Legislative Assembly extend their best wishes and hope Mayor Albert and his wife, along with Mr. and Mrs. Holt, have a special visit to Nova Scotia and will come back very soon.