Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

La Chambre s'est ajournée le
26 octobre 2017

Hansard -- Thur., May 17, 2001

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HALIFAX, THURSDAY, MAY 17, 2001

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

12:00 Noon

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable members, before we begin the daily routine, I would like to advise the House that the Adjournment motion for tonight has been submitted by the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto:

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should immediately provide the most current information on profits that have been earned by Nova Scotia Resources Limited in the years 2000 and 2001.

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

3625

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1214

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

Whereas Cara Hazelton of Digby, a student at Mount St. Vincent University, recently won two awards at a ceremony in Moncton honouring Atlantic Canada's young entrepreneurs; and

Whereas Ms. Hazelton won the J.D. Irving Ltd. Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the CanJet Airlines Service Excellence Award; and

Whereas Ms. Hazelton is a full-time student and owner of the Inside Edge Skating Supplies Company, a full-service skating boutique which is the only one of its kind in Atlantic Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Ms. Hazelton on winning these prestigious awards and wish her well in her future endeavours.

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. 1215

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

Whereas various strains of hepatitis affect many Nova Scotians; and

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Whereas the province recognizes the difficulties and challenges associated with living with hepatitis; and

Whereas all Nova Scotians are encouraged to support the efforts to minimize the risks associated with the transmission of hepatitis, as well as to support those affected;

Therefore be it resolved that all members recognize May 13th to May 19th as Hepatitis Awareness Week in 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. 1216

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

Whereas the Medical Commission of the International Paralympic Committee is currently meeting in Halifax; and

Whereas in addition to providing medical service and advice, the commission works tirelessly to promote participation in and public awareness of Paralympic sport; and

Whereas Dr. Michael Riding, a Halifax radiologist, who has been Chairman of the International Paralympic Committee's Medical Commission for 11 years is now stepping down but will remain as a member;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Medical Commission of the International Paralympic Committee for its excellent work and thank Dr. Michael Riding for his leadership and ongoing support to Paralympic athletes here in Nova Scotia and elsewhere in Canada and the world.

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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 Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1217

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

Whereas the Big Red Machine, a robot designed and built by a group of Pugwash District High School students recently won a Maritime robot design competition; and

Whereas the Pugwash students became the first Nova Scotia team to win the five year old competition which included 12 Maritime high schools; and

Whereas a video showing the Pugwash students designing, building and testing their project placed second in the multimedia competition which was part of the event;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the students of Pugwash District High School for their ingenuity and perseverance in designing and building their award-winning robot.

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.

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INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 56 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 208 of the Acts of 1906. An Act Respecting the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Nova Scotia. (Hon. Jane Purves as a private member.)

Bill No. 57 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Halifax Corresponding Committee of the Colonial and Continental Church Society. (Hon. Jane Purves as a private member.)

Bill No. 58 - Entitled an Act To Amend Chapter 246 of the Revised Statues of 1989. The Labour Standards Code, to Provide for More Comprehensive Regulation of the Employment of Children in Film and Other Entertainment Productions. (Mr. Howard Epstein)

[MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be read a second time on a future day.]

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

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to make an introduction, through you, to all members of the House of Assembly. I am very pleased to introduce to you 18 Grade 12 students of Westville High School, Occupational Preparation Program, along with their teachers, Bruce Moore and Troy Read. This program is for students at risk of dropping out of high school. I have to mention that these are Grade 12 students and they have a wonderful, exciting future ahead of them now because of this program. I would like them to receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Yes indeed, welcome to our guests from Westville and welcome to all the guests in the gallery.

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition

RESOLUTION NO. 1218

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

Whereas this is the International Year of Volunteers; and

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Whereas Charles William Watson, Bud or Charlie to his many friends and family and volunteer par excellence, passed away on February 1, 2001, before the sitting of this Legislature; and

Whereas Charlie, through his life, spent many hours each week assisting good causes, especially the Victoria Road United Baptist Church and the Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize Charlie Watson's work as a volunteer with, among others, the Victoria Road United Baptist Church and the Brain Injury Association and extend sympathy to family and friends at his passing.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 1219

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

Whereas the Rosedale Home for Special Care in New Germany is celebrating its 17th Anniversary this month; and

Whereas the nursing home unveiled a memorial book detailing the names of every person who has lived there in the past 17 years; and

Whereas residents say that the very caring and dedicated staff makes the home a special place to live;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly send our best wishes to all residents and staff of the Rosedale Home for Special Care and wish them our very best for the future.

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Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[12:15 p.m.]

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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1220

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

Whereas after 30 years of dedicated loyalty to fellow staff and people residing at Mountain Lea Lodge, employee Lila Fredericks recently retired; and

Whereas on her retirement, a special party was organized for Ms. Fredericks and attended by many well-wishers; and

Whereas the Mountain Lea Lodge has been a fixture in the Town of Bridgetown and Annapolis County for decades;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in the Legislature take this opportunity to wish Lila the very best in her retirement while sending along continued good wishes to employees and residents of Mountain Lea Lodge.

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.

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The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1221

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

Whereas coal mining has a storied and often painful history and has carved itself into the very soul of industrial Cape Breton; and

Whereas 300 years of mining the coal in Cape Breton ends later this year with the closure of Prince Mine, and marks the passing of a large part of Cape Breton's cultural legacy; and

Whereas the demise of King Coal also marks the collapse of the last pillar of the economy of industrial Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that this government come up with a practical workable economic strategy for Cape Breton, backed by money and the political will to implement it.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1222

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 Finance Critic of the New Democratic Party and his spouse are the parents of a nine pound one ounce baby girl; and

Whereas all members share the joy of knowing mother and baby are doing fine; and

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Whereas a new Nova Scotian is a cause for celebration by all;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations and best wishes to the MLA for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage and his family on this joyous occasion. (Standing Ovation)

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 Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1223

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

Whereas what could have been a tragedy Monday was instead a story with a happy ending for two hikers at Chignecto Provincial Park; and

Whereas the hikers were stranded by the high tide, but were fortunate enough to call for help with their cell phones and were located by using their Global Positioning System gear; and

Whereas it was a Labrador helicopter from 14 Wing Greenwood's search and rescue squadron, piloted by Captain Hans Kleeman, who responded, along with a Canadian Coast Guard auxiliary vessel, to the distress call during miserable weather conditions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend our efficient and capable personnel from 14 Wing Greenwood for picking up the couple before any harm came to them, and thank our Coast Guard auxiliary and all other emergency personnel who responded to the call and who are always there for us in time of need, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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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. 1224

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

Whereas music inspires, uplifts and cheers us all; and

Whereas volunteers who bring musical abilities to their organizations are even rarer than leaders; and

Whereas on Volunteer Awards Night, April 27, 2001, Ms. Ruth Grant was honoured by the Municipality of East Hants for her involvement with many worthy causes in the Rawdon area, but notably for her gift of music that she freely shares;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Ms. Grant for bringing a song to the hearts of the people of Rawdon.

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.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1225

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

Whereas voters in British Columbia repudiated the scandal-plagued, spendthrift New Democratic Government; and

Whereas British Columbia voters enthusiastically supported Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell and his policies to revitalize the economy, support the health care system and improve education; and

Whereas in winning 76 of the province's 79 seats, B.C. Liberals achieved one of the largest electoral sweeps in Canadian history;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the new Liberal Government of British Columbia and Premier-elect Gordon Campbell for the magnitude of their victory and the vision of their winning policies.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1226

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

Whereas Charlotte Johnson of Bedford has been an outstanding volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society, Bedford/Hammonds Plains unit, for the past 14 years; and

Whereas Charlotte Johnson was recently awarded a National Citation of Merit, recognizing her significant contributions to the Canadian Cancer Society; and

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Whereas by offering her valuable time, skills and leadership, she is helping the Canadian Cancer Society eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life for people living with cancer;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Charlotte Johnson on receiving this Citation of Merit and thank her for all her hard work in the fight against this terrible disease.

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. 1227

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

Whereas 18 junior fastball players from all over Canada were selected to represent Canada at the World's Junior Fastball Championships in Blacktown, Australia, from April 14th to April 30th; and

Whereas 4 of the 18 players are Nova Scotians: Joel Isenor, Casey Higgins, Jason White and Craig Smith; and

Whereas the junior fastball team won the bronze at the World's Fastball Championships, thus proving that Nova Scotians are among the best athletics in the world;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Canadian junior fastball team, especially Nova Scotian teammates Joel Isenor, Casey Higgins, Jason White and Craig Smith for winning bronze at the World's Junior Fastball Championships in Australia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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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. 1228

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 Halifax Regional School Board is preparing to split some 900 students from Halifax West High School and send them to several other schools in metro this fall; and

Whereas attempts by guardians and parents of students to get detailed answers from the Minister of Education and the member for Halifax Bedford Basin have fallen on deaf ears; and

Whereas guardians and parents of students from Halifax West High School have been advised by at least one elected school board representative that the decision to split students and send them to different school "may be a staff decision";

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education please report to all members of this House as to why elected school board officials are being kept in the dark on this pressing issue.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 1229

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

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Whereas the Town of Windsor is proud to host this year's Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Tea at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 9 in Windsor on Friday afternoon, June 1st; and

Whereas the hosting of this event, which can average upward to 400 people attending annually, would not be possible without the exceptional organizing abilities of Ms. Elizabeth (Betty) Houston and her committee of volunteers; and

Whereas this social tea brings all the princesses together from towns and villages across the Annapolis Valley prior to the coronation of Queen Annapolisa the 69th on Friday evening at Acadia University in Wolfville;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly applaud the work of Ms. Betty Houston and her committee for their diligent and hard work to ensure this year's tea is another banner success.

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. 1230

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

Whereas George Bissett Elementary School on Arklow Drive, Dartmouth, sorely needs a new playground to provide children with physical exercise and recreation in a fun and safe environment; and

Whereas the local PTA and a committee of concerned parents have raised funds over the last two years to construct the new George Bissett Community Playground on the grounds of the school; and

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Whereas with the continued contribution of parents, residents, community groups, governments and the business and corporate community, the committee hopes to realize its goal of having the playground in place for the coming school year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend George Bissett Elementary School PTA, the local committee of concerned parents and all those who have contributed to establishing a new playground at the school and wish them all well in meeting their target of completion for the coming school year.

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. 1231

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

Whereas Suas e! translated from Gaelic means an invitation to lift your voice and spirit in song and this weekend 14 treble and mixed voice choirs from Canada and the United States will be lifting their voices throughout Cape Breton; and

Whereas these 518 young 8 to 18 year old singers will participate in workshops and practices with world-renowned youth conductors and composers, Stephen Hartfield of Ireland and Jonathan Willcocks of England; and

Whereas at the finale concert at Centre 200 in Sydney on Sunday, May 20th, the Suas e! singers will perform with local artists from Cape Breton, lifting voices and spirits in this culturally rich part of Nova Scotia;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Eric Favard, Chair of the Suas e! International Choral Festival and the Nova Scotia Choral Federation on this spectacular musical event and wish all 518 young chorists from Canada and the U.S. a memorable weekend.

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. 1232

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

Whereas Stephanie Turnbull of Truro won the ladies senior singles event at the Nova Scotia Highland Dancing Championships; and

Whereas Stephanie has been an outstanding highland dancer for many years and has donated her exceptional talents to entertain at many non-profit events; and

Whereas Stephanie now combines her excellence in highland dancing with her program at St. F. X. which will lead to a teaching career;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Stephanie Turnbull on winning the Nova Scotia Senior Singles Highland Dancing Championship and wish her every success when she competes in the national championship later this year.

Mr. Speaker, just before requesting waiver, I would like to point out that this young woman is the niece of the honourable member for Cape Breton West.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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MR. SPEAKER: Yes, and I would point out further honourable member, that I had the privilege of witnessing young Miss Turnbull in full flight and form on Friday evening and she certainly is very talented.

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. 1233

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

Whereas the jaws of life are a necessary but expensive tool for every fire department; and

Whereas the Maitland and District Fire Department had an outstanding debt on their jaws of life that needed to be addressed; and

Whereas on Volunteer Awards Night on April 27, 2001, Ms. Minna Ettinger and Mr. Walter Collins were honoured by the Municipality of East Hants for their successful efforts to erase the debt owed their local fire department;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Ms. Ettinger and Mr. Collins for their volunteer awards from the Municipality of East Hants and for their acute sense of public duty and effective action.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

[12:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1234

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

Whereas Karen Furneaux of Waverley completed a golden sweep of events at the Canadian paddling team trials last weekend in Montreal; and

Whereas during these trials, Karen Furneaux won the K-1 500 metre, K-1 200 metre, K-1 1,000 metre and teamed up with Marie-Josee Ouimet, of Lachine, Quebec to win the K-2 500 metre event; and

Whereas by having such a great showing at this event, Karen Furneaux has earned spots on the national team that will compete at regattas in Europe this summer and at the world championship in Poland in August;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Waverley's Karen Furneaux on her strong showing at these trials and wish her all the best in the future events.

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.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1235

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

Whereas Special Olympians always display sportsmanship in all competitions; and

Whereas Ross MacIntosh of New Glasgow has been working with special Olympians for 10 years in his capacity as coach for softball, curling, floor hockey and bowling; and

Whereas Ross MacIntosh is being recognized for his dedication with the Nova Scotia Special Olympics Male Coach of the Year Award;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House learn from the sportsmanship shown by Special Olympians and join in honouring Ross MacIntosh as Nova Scotia's Special Olympic Male Coach of the Year.

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 Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1236

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

Whereas Friday, May 18th is International Museum Day, with the theme this year recognizing the role of museums in building communities; and

Whereas museums of Nova Scotia are an integral part of community life throughout the province, and represent our culture and heritage to visitors and Nova Scotians; and

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Whereas museums are an important means of cultural understanding, of enrichment of history, of development among peoples and of facilitating mutual understanding and co-operation between communities;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House acknowledge Friday, May 18th as International Museum Day and encourage citizens to visit and support museums in our province and to acknowledge and celebrate the value of museums in our life and in protecting heritage.

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.

Oral Question Period will run until 1:33 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DEVCO - PRINCE MINE:

CLOSURE - COMM. (ALL-PARTY) ACTION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, yesterday in this House, we debated the end of an era in Cape Breton because of the federal Liberal shutdown of Devco. During these debates, we asked the Deputy Premier to reconstitute the all-Party committee on Devco. We asked that this group immediately be sent to Cape Breton to meet with miners and community stakeholders and then to Ottawa to meet with federal officials. I want to ask the Premier if he will commit today to putting this three-Party committee in action to help Cape Breton coal miners?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I see the minister responsible is anxious to answer that question because I believe he indicated an answer yesterday and he is prepared to repeat it.

[Page 3645]

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as the member well knows, yesterday that very question was asked and certainly the committee is already constituted. The committee, as agreed yesterday, will become active again and the committee is willing to hear any group that wants to come forward in that regard.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I am afraid the real question was whether or not they were going to take the committee to Cape Breton to be heard. I don't think that was answered. Despite the Minister of Economic Development's bragging about his investment in Cape Breton, unemployment continues to rise. This government has a responsibility to help Cape Breton's economy deal with yet another staggering blow. When asked two days in a row for his plan, the Minister of Economic Development could not produce a single piece of paper. I want to ask the Minister of Economic Development, what have you been doing for two years if you haven't had time to come up with a long-term plan to guide Cape Breton out of its economic troubles?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Economic Development brought forward the Toward Prosperity document and then Opportunities for Prosperity, which is an economic development plan for the entire province and does specifically reference Cape Breton.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, that's just an admission of failure if that is all he can come up with. There are good ideas out there for this minister to steal if he wishes. For example, the CBRM have proposed a department of energy to help manage the fast emerging challenges and opportunities facing the province which are outside the scope of existing departments. This department could be based in Cape Breton.

I want to ask the Premier, has he read the CBRM report and is he considering developing an energy department which would help guide the province and at the same time boost the Cape Breton economy?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the province is very much engaged right now in developing an energy policy which involves, among other things, public consultation. Until we have that energy policy, I believe it would be inopportune for us to take a position that before we have the policy, we are going to start putting in place a structure to implement the policy. So we will get the policy first then we will proceed, perhaps, along the lines that the member opposite is suggesting.

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

DEVCO - PRINCE MINE CLOSURE: C.B. ECONOMY - EFFECTS

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The member for Cape Breton North said yesterday following the announcement of the closing of the

[Page 3646]

Prince Mine that the people of Cape Breton were not victims. Given that 400 jobs, with several hundreds spinoff jobs, have been lost, my question to the Premier is, does the Premier share the view of the honourable member for Cape Breton North?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe that as a result of the debate last night, all members expressed concern about what is happening in Cape Breton and the impact that the loss of perhaps 500 jobs will have with the closing of the Prince Mine. Unfortunately at this time, we don't have a lot of detail as to what the put-backs will be, what will be the remedial action taken by the federal government to make up for the loss of employment opportunities and the tremendous impact it will have on the province to have to buy so much offshore coal. So much of what this all means has yet to reach the provincial government.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I will try something else. The government pays a lot of lip service to the new way of economic development in Cape Breton. Unfortunately, this government has not supported this new way. Money has been committed for environmental remediation but none is being spent. Infrastructure is crumbling and unemployment is up at 20 per cent. The Port Hawkesbury to Sydney railway is in danger of closing. My question to the Premier is, what concrete steps is the Premier taking to ensure that the latest closure will not mean the complete collapse of the Cape Breton economy?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I share the member's concern. I believe that all members of this House are profoundly aware of the implications of the loss of 500 good-paying jobs in Cape Breton and what all that means. On the other hand, I am very anxious to hear what remedial action is being proposed by the federal government. We have not received much in the way of concrete information, but I understand it is forthcoming. So it would be, certainly, premature for us to start suggesting remedies until we are absolutely sure what it is the federal government is about to propose. This is a very, very serious time for industrial Cape Breton and I believe that we have to act responsibly, which we will do as a government.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the government's economic development document, Opportunities for Prosperity, indicated the problems faced by Cape Breton were unique in the province. Why won't the Premier instruct his Minister of Economic Development to implement a strategy based on the recognition of Cape Breton's unique economic problems?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, you will recall that in response to an earlier question, the Minister of Economic Development indicated very clearly that in his documents relative to an economic strategy for the Province of Nova Scotia there was specific reference to Cape Breton, and that is in response to the acknowledgement by government that there are unique circumstances there to be addressed.

[Page 3647]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

EDUC. - JANITORIAL STRIKE: HEALTH ISSUES - INVESTIGATE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, last week a seven year old, who attends Caudle Park Elementary School in Lower Sackville, became very ill with rotavirus. This virus can be serious, especially in young children. The child spent three days in the hospital, part of that time in isolation, and wasn't able to eat for almost a week. Rotavirus can be passed from child to child on unclean surfaces and in washrooms. If one child has the virus and uses a washroom that is not properly cleaned, the virus can spread easily. There have been numerous reports of dirty washrooms in schools since the custodians have been on strike, and the student's mother is concerned that the virus was caused by an unclean school. My question for the Minister of Education is, will the minister investigate whether this case of rotavirus was caused by a dirty school, as the parent suspects?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, yes, I will ask Dr. Strang, who is in charge of investigating the schools for cleanliness, if this could be possible.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the child from Caudle Park Elementary School wasn't the only one in the IWK Health Centre exhibiting these symptoms. There were several other children who appeared to be suffering from the same thing. Parents, teachers and students have told the minister that some of the schools are dirty. We have heard from children whose medical conditions are being aggravated by conditions in the schools. The minister must be vigilant in ensuring that this strike is not damaging the health of children. I want to ask the Minister of Health, is his department tracking cases of rotavirus, and are there other cases of school-aged children becoming violently ill with serious viruses like this one?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, when such illnesses are reported - in this case, it would be the IWK Health Centre that would be keeping track of that - if that institution felt it was necessary for public health officials or other appropriate professionals to go out and really do that, it would be done.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, well, this student couldn't eat for a week. She is seven years old. I want to ask the Minister of Education, will you direct the health inspector to revisit Caudle Park Elementary School?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, certainly I would ask, rather than direct. What I would like to point out is that there have been reports of illnesses, for example pink eye and other illnesses that people have attributed to the state of the schools. These illnesses exist all the time, they are passed from person to person, and these illnesses are not attributable to the condition of the schools. Dr. Strang has said that publicly, so I wouldn't want people jumping to conclusions, because in fact children do get ill whether or not custodians are on strike.

[Page 3648]

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

EDUC. - KNOWLEDGE HOUSE:

E-LEARNING CONTRACT - DETAILS

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Last week, we all learned about the exclusive e-learning contract that Knowledge House has with the province. They pitched a multi-million dollar contract to the Minister of Education, and she accepted it without even putting it to tender. The minister indicated last week there were no other companies that could offer this type of service and, therefore, tendering wouldn't be an option. My question to the minister is simple, does the minister still stand by the statement that no other companies can provide this software?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, this service software was developed by Knowledge House and it was tested in a project in the Chignecto-Central School Board. There are many circumstances under government procurement policy where tendering is not necessary, particularly in pilots or special projects.

AN HON. MEMBER: She didn't answer the question.

MR. GAUDET: No, she didn't answer the question.

Mr. Speaker, I will table an interim report prepared by a local e-learning software company called Pleiades. The report is based on an e-learning project it conducted with the Southwest Regional School Board. Throughout the project the company worked with the minister's office and with the Learning Resources and Technology Branch of the department. My question is, given that the department was aware of Pleiades potential to develop the same e-learning software as Knowledge House, why was Pleiades not given the chance to compete for this project?

[12:45 p.m.]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, there are many varieties of e-learning, just as there are many varieties of text books. They are not all the same. What we had was a kind of software that had worked very well and we wished to see if we could continue it. That is the story.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, we are not going to get an answer from the Minister of Education. I am going to go to the minister responsible for procurement, the Minister of

Transportation and Public Works. Based on this situation, Mr. Minister, is there now a policy in this department that any minister has the power to hand out untendered contracts?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to know the details of any particular documents that the member is questioning and I will certainly take a look at them.

[Page 3649]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - WATER SUPPLY: SAMPLES - REQUESTS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. In January, in the course of a freedom of information request for water quality records our office learned that the Department of Environment and Labour has no system in place to track contaminated water samples. Our request was very simple. It was for, "Any records which report, document or warn of any public or private drinking water supply . . . having traces of fecal coliforms from January 1999 to present." The department was not able to respond to such a simple request. My question to the minister is, why can't your department respond to such a simple thing as a request for records of contaminated water?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, there is a report generated on an ongoing basis of any private wells or utilities that report positive test results for contamination, and that is done on an ongoing basis.

MR. STEELE: Well, Mr. Speaker, obviously it is not a very effective system. According to departmental staff, records of contaminated water are not separated out from other test results but are filed away with other results. We were even told that in one regional office alone there was a stack of water quality reports 56 inches high waiting to be filed. That is four times the size of this piece of paper, just sitting there waiting to be filed. We asked a simple question which was show us the records, and the answer has been, we are not able to do that. I want to ask the minister, how can you stand in this House and tell Nova Scotians their water is safe if you can't respond to such a simple request?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I feel that we have responded to the question for water that is for public consumption for anybody who serves more than 25 consumers. There is an ongoing tracking system. When a positive test result comes back it is brought to the department's attention and we take the appropriate steps.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the bottom line here is that the Department of Environment and Labour has no information system in place to track water quality and report to the public. That is in spite of grave warnings from other parts of the country that prompt and efficient processing of water quality results is a key component of maintaining high standards. My question to the minister is simple and very serious. When will the minister put in place the basic mechanisms required to live up to the responsibility to ensure safe public drinking water?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate these water quality questions because this is indeed a very serious topic and it is good that members of the House ask those questions because it highlights the steps that have been taken over time until today and that we are

[Page 3650]

continuing to take to continue to raise the bar for protecting the public clean-water supply. Indeed, when we get requests back about how we are increasing the certification required of water utility plant operators and that we are having to train more, that is a good-news story and we will continue down that path so that Nova Scotians will have total confidence in the safety of their drinking-water supply.

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

EDUC. - KNOWLEDGE HOUSE CONTRACT:

TENDER - LACK EXPLAIN

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education has clearly demonstrated here today that the selection process for the Knowledge House contract was not the least bit above-board. Knowledge House simply submitted a proposal and the minister then approved it. I can't imagine what would happen if that became the norm for all expenditures. Can you imagine the outcry if that had been a tender for school construction or road repair. My question to the Minister of Education is, why was Knowledge House given this untendered, sweetheart contract, completely outside of the public purview?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the contract with Knowledge House was a result of two pilots, one in Advocate-Parrsboro, and one that was done during the Commonwealth Education Ministers Conference, that all the students, teachers, superintendents, everybody involved was very enthusiastic about. I have here a copy of the government procurement policy. I can certainly obtain one for the member opposite if he would like to get one and read where, under circumstances of providing a unique service, it is perfectly acceptable, indeed honourable, to give contracts in that way.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the minister was the one who said there was no one else who could do it and, as we have heard the Leader of this Party say earlier, we know of another company based right here in Halifax that has been working with the Department of Education on similar projects. In fact, I have a batch of correspondence that I will now table that will prove exactly that. The other company in question, Pleiades, has not only been successful in working in this province, but when the minister visits Hong Kong next month, there is a good chance she will be visiting a school there that has been set up with Pleiades products.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, if we now know for sure that there is another world-class company that could have bid on this project, can the minister indicate how many other companies there may have been that also could have bid on this project?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, there are many world-class companies in Nova Scotia, including Knowledge House, and because the member opposite says that black is white doesn't make it so.

[Page 3651]

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the minister just doesn't get it. She said there were no other companies that could do it, only Knowledge House, and she gave them the contract. Obviously, the minister may not admit it, she knows she has made a mistake. However, she does have a chance to redeem herself here today. Will the minister commit to opening a real tendering process for this contract so that all Nova Scotia companies can compete?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, these eight pilots are going to proceed with Knowledge House as we announced.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - KNOWLEDGE HOUSE CONTRACT:

INTELLECTUAL PROP. - RIGHTS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. I want to table a very troubling copy of the memorandum of understanding between Knowledge House and Dalhousie University concerning the global baccalaureate program. That program was the forerunner of the Advanced Studies Program now in the works between Knowledge House and this government. In the document I tabled,

Knowledge House makes some very disturbing demands like the right to all intellectual property produced in the program. That deal with Dalhousie and Knowledge House failed partly because faculty members were outraged that Knowledge House thought that their work - the faculty members' work and the students' work - shouldn't be appropriated for profit by Knowledge House. So I want to ask the Minister of Education, is Knowledge House demanding rights to intellectual property produced by Nova Scotia students and teachers in the Advanced Studies Program?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, when the contract is finally nailed down, we will be able to provide that contract and the members with that kind of answer. But I must say, comparing the two programs is quite wrong. The baccalaureate program is in fact dead and they are not the same program whatsoever.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, same company, same concept. The rights to intellectual property aren't all that Knowledge House wanted. In the memorandum of association or understanding with Dalhousie, Knowledge House buys faculty time, 125 hours in the first year, 250 in the next. Our public school system cannot afford teachers working outside of the classroom for the benefit of a private company. So we need to know what demands this will place on our education system, this deal with Knowledge House. I want to ask the minister, how many hours of teachers' time has this government promised to Knowledge House?

[Page 3652]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has this quite wrong. There will be teachers and there will be students. Knowledge House will be supplying the means by which Nova Scotia curriculum is taught to students. It is a method of teaching. It has nothing to do with the global baccalaureate. It has got nothing to do with whatever nefarious schemes the Opposition would like to make up. This is for the good of students in the classrooms of Nova Scotia and it is going to be a first in the world.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: The minister, if she thinks people have it quite wrong, can clear it up fairly easily by tabling the contract, as we asked her. Mr. Speaker, what we are witnessing here is the privatization of secondary and post-secondary education. This government is attempting to sell high school programming without public debate and without consultation with stakeholders and without telling Nova Scotians the truth about the deal. So I want to ask the minister, why won't she simply table the contract with Knowledge House and provide Nova Scotians with the answers they deserve?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, obviously the member for Halifax Needham was not listening to the previous answer. This is not privatizing education. This is something we are doing with public education to try to save it from some of the forces that are actually starting to destroy it. The contract with Knowledge House, which is a private company, when it has gone through all the legal processes and everything has been nailed down, will be made public.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - ORGANIC MATERIAL:

SHIPMENTS (ILLEGAL) - MIN. HALT

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, news reports today in the Chronicle-Herald report that some 44 to 50 tons of organic material are being shipped daily from the Halifax Regional Municipality to the Queens Regional Municipality. According to the minister's own departmental officials, he indicates that that is not permissible. So my question to the minister is, has he issued a ministerial order to halt this illegal practice?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to express my appreciation to the member opposite for allowing me to address this matter that has been brought up in the media. In fact, this pertains to a certain segment of the waste stream called overs. Overs involve things that are screened out when they go to, in this case, New Era Farms, things like plastic and whatnot, and permission was given to dispose of that in the Queens County landfill site.

[Page 3653]

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, that's the most bizarre description of a minister not doing his job that I have ever witnessed in this House. The operator of the compost farm exporting the materials says he has a permit. My question to the minister, why did his department issue an approval for an activity which his own officials, in today's reports, indicate is illegal?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to get up here and further reiterate that overs involve things like plastics and other large things that are too large to go through the screening process and it is appropriate to dispose of them in some other manner. We have approved of this method of disposing of them in Queens County in the short run.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, up until the ministerial order was issued on New Era Farms several weeks ago, to deal with another problem at the site in Timberlea, compost from Kings County was being shipped to Halifax County. Can the minister now confirm that some of that compost from Kings County is being shipped to Queens County?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, again I really appreciate the member opposite bringing up the question of New Era Farms. New Era Farms was indeed encountering some difficulties with staying within compliance and it was causing problems for the community. Since the ministerial order, I am very pleased with the steps that have been taken by New Era Farms to bring themselves into compliance. I thank the member opposite for giving me the opportunity to once again stand up and point that out.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - KNOWLEDGE HOUSE: CONTRACT - EFFECTS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The minister says that you can't compare the Dal-Knowledge House program with the Department of Education's Knowledge House program, but there are some interesting coincidences here. In the memorandum of understanding with Dal, Knowledge House demanded that the deal be announced before their annual general meeting. We know that the new Advanced Studies Program was announced just one week before Knowledge House released their first quarterly earning report for 2001. Now, this certainly boosts the value of the stocks in Knowledge House, with a little help from the Department of Education. I want to ask the minister why the P3 debacle has taught the Department of Education little about the mixing of public and private enterprise in terms of education, that they just don't mix?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, for years and years and years . . .

[Page 3654]

AN HON. MEMBER: And years and years.

MISS PURVES: And years and years, schools in the Education Department have textbooks supplied to classrooms, they have pens, pencils, they have all kinds of supplies, provided by private enterprise. This is absolutely no different. The curriculum being offered here is developed by the Department of Education, it is Nova Scotia curriculum, this is simply a new means of developing it, just like we would order a new math textbook or something like that. It is just that it is computer-based.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, instead of properly funding the public education system, the Minister of Education has passed the ball to a private company and, in doing so, the government has given Knowledge House unprecedented access to our students. We need to know what else the minister has signed away, so my question to the minister is, when will she make all information related to the Advanced Studies Program public so that Nova Scotians can scrutinize the deal and make their own conclusions?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I said that earlier. As soon as that contract is absolutely complete, as soon as our lawyers have gone through it, as soon as it has gone through essentially what it has to in the FOIPOP process, then that will be made available. As the pilot sites are selected and as the school boards sign on, certainly that will be public information, no problem.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: If you log onto the Knowledge House Web site, the first thing you will see is a picture of smiling children. And, right underneath those pictures is the Knowledge House stock quote. The message is clear - profits are at least as important as students. I want to ask the minister, will she admit that the Advanced Studies Program is more about profit than it is about education?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the Advanced Studies Program is about giving a chance to kids who have largely been ignored in the last 10 years of public education. I really think that giving these kids something to sink their teeth into, this is a really excellent initiative on the part of our government and Knowledge House and I don't expect the member of that Party to understand because they don't understand about private enterprise and they don't understand about money and they think it grows on trees.

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

FIN. - CASINO (SYDNEY): CHARITIES - CUTBACKS RESTORE

MR. DAVID WILSON: The Premier and the Finance Minister, I think, have already proven that their hearts are in the wrong place when they absconded with what is now about $3.8 million in money destined for charities in this province. Now, if that wasn't low enough, we found out yesterday from the Alcohol and Gaming Authority that charities are short

[Page 3655]

another $500,000 from charitable lotteries because the sales are down. My question to the Premier is - I have asked it before and I will ask it again - will the Premier restore the $3.8 million removed from the Sydney Charity Casino Fund?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite can appreciate that government must direct all money in a controlled fashion whether it be to charities, to those organizations that we fund that carry out very important social programs around the province. The government is not prepared simply to make $3.8 million available for a free-for-all.

MR. WILSON: If the Premier considers giving money to the Glace Bay Food Bank a free-for-all, then I suggest he should sit back and think about what he just said. MLAs giving a few pennies to charities here and there while stemming the losses for charitable organizations across the province, that little PR exercise yields few results. If you add that $500,000 latest hit to charities, they out $4.2 million under this government. Will the Premier please demonstrate some compassion here and restore the money that has been removed from the pockets of the most needy in our society?

THE PREMIER: The government is quite prepared through various programs to accept requests for specific projects. What we are not prepared to do is to make a very large amount of money available in a fund over which we have no control as to where that money is going to be spent. We are going to be responsible in how every taxpayer dollar is spent. We are going to make sure it goes where it can do the most good.

MR. WILSON: No one will believe that. The Premier and the Finance Minister who have done this, they are the epitome of everything that is wrong about being a Tory. I bet they consider being stingy some kind of twisted virtue that they have. Again, to the Premier, why won't the Premier prove that he has some true virtue and restore the $3.8 million that was destined for charities in this province.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I hardly think that being responsible in spending the taxpayers' money somehow qualifies as twisted virtue.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

FIN. - CASINO (SYDNEY): CHARITIES - CUTBACKS RESTORE

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Alcohol and Gaming Authority released its annual report for 1999-2000. The province has now surpassed the $1 billion mark in total wagers and, as we all know, one of the first acts of this Premier on taking office was to strip away the funding to charities from casino profits. I want to ask the Premier, with more than $1 billion in gambling going on in this province, you must now recognize what you did was so short-sighted. Will you now restore to charities in this province their rightful share of casino profits?

[Page 3656]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows that the province is still spending more money than it takes in. The member opposite also knows that that Party received a recommendation through public consultation that this government not ignore balancing the budget, eliminating the deficit, and then starting to address the debt. We are going to listen to the public, not that member opposite.

MR. PYE: So he is going to balance the budget on the backs of addicted people with gambling problems in Nova Scotia. That is what this Premier is going to do. Mr. Speaker, the authority's annual report alone admits that 66 per cent of Nova Scotians are opposed to VLTs and want them scrapped. That is 66 per cent of Nova Scotians. The math isn't difficult. Most Nova Scotians are opposed to VLTs. The number of VLTs hasn't gone up, yet the VLT wagers increased by $30 million. That means that most of that increase is most likely due to addicted players, gambling more of their money away. I want to ask the Premier, how do you justify profiting off the backs of addicted players over the objections of so many Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is aware that the decision to eliminate VLTs will not stop gambling. What it will simply do is drive gambling underground so that the money that is made off gambling won't be available for health care, it won't be available for education and it won't be available for remedial programs to look after problem gambling. It simply will go to make a very small number of people in this province privately rich.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the Premier that, in fact, grey gambling machines are a responsibility of the policing services of this province and also the federal legislation. So I would like to ask my final question to the Minister responsible for the administration of Part II of the Gaming Control Act. That is the member who used to be in favour of referendums on VLTs before he became a minister in the Hamm Government. Will the minister responsible, given that we now have even more evidence of harm VLTs do to addicted players, what plans do you have to spearhead a referendum on VLTs in the Province of Nova Scotia?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, while the subject of his question perhaps should be answered by another minister, I am very proud to stand up and tell this House that we had a very specific platform during the election campaign. It encompassed many concerns of Nova Scotians and, in fact, after the election campaign, they elected us a majority government.

[Page 3657]

[1:15 p.m.]

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

COMMUN. SERV. - SERV. AGREEMENTS:

FOCUS GROUP MEETINGS - STATUS

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, last December, Liberals revealed concerns about service agreements between non-profit agencies and the government. At that time, the Minister of Community Services indicated that focus group meetings would be held to consider how the service agreement plan would be implemented. My question for the minister is, will the minister advise us of the status of those focus group meetings?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is quite right, we did have focus group meetings with 40 groups around the province to talk about the initiatives, to talk about bringing together those forums, and to talk about how business plans and so on would be developed. That particular initiative is still with the CAYAC group, the group made of Justice, Community Services, Health and Education, and when the recommendations come forward, they will be brought forward to the House or made public.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the women's centre, Connect has expressed concern that the anticipated changes to the contract negotiation process will mean a considerable commitment of staff resources and time in order to prepare additional documentation. My question to the minister is, could the minister assure the women's centre, Connect, that any new reporting requirements for funding submissions will not force them to simply add to their administrative workload?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, through the focus groups and through our discussion with the groups on those accountability framework initiatives, we have indicated that the reporting will be more demanding with more requirements for people who get larger sums of money. The people of the women's centre, Connect, and the other groups such as that will do minimum reporting and they will prepare business plans the way they presently do to send in to the departments to get funding.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I think what they are saying here is that there is a need for clarity. In their letter, the women's centre, Connect, has stated they are still not given a clear indication of the process that they will be required to follow in negotiating contracts with the government. My question to the minister is, when will the government provide those centres with the information they need to prepare the necessary documentation, so they can get on with the business of helping people instead of spending the majority of their time and resources filling out government forms?

[Page 3658]

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, when the CAYAC group has finalized their recommendations, we will be meeting with all the different sectors, all the different groups. We will be meeting with those groups anyway, to talk about their challenges, to talk about their business plans and where they are going. Through that consultation process, we will be talking with them about the reporting requirements that they will have to have.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - WORKPLACE VIOLENCE:

REGULATIONS - STATUS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I am saddened, as I am sure everybody else in this House was saddened to hear of the death of a young man in Antigonish this week. He was murdered while working in a convenience store. I know we wish, all of us, to pass on our condolences to the family. Now we have a chance here, an opportunity for this House to address the practices of persons working alone who may be the target of violence. I want to ask the Minister of Environment and Labour, as we are all aware of violence in the workplace regulations to be put in place, and some of these address the issue of employees working alone, when can workers in this province expect your department to bring these issues forward?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for the way that he handled this matter. I thought that showed a lot of class, in the way that you first of all recognized condolences to the family. That has not always been the case with some other members in this House, so I thank you for the tactful manner in which you have addressed this. I believe I answered that question not too long ago. The workplace violence regulations are with, I believe, the Department of Justice at the present time, getting redrafted for coming back to the department and then for presentation to Cabinet.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, following Westray, the Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council spent a lot of time examining workplace safety, as I am sure the minister well knows. One of their recommendations was that better legislative measures were needed to help protect workers from violence as much as possible. Included in these provisions was a working alone clause. These changes were proposed in 1994. My question to the Minister of Environment and Labour is specific. Specific provisions on working alone regulations, should they be included in the Occupational Health and Safety Act and when will you act to include them in the Act?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, something like that would be covered in the regulations that would be coming forward for consideration by Cabinet.

[Page 3659]

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, we are not sure if they are in there or not. I want to direct my next question to the Premier. Mr. Premier, New Brunswick and Manitoba have such legislation and this style of legislation is also proposed in Newfoundland. Will the Premier commit to having his government review the legislation that this minister has looked at and look at these legislations in other provinces with a goal to bring this type of enforcement to Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite brings a sobering topic to the House of Assembly by way of his question. All of us are saddened when violence presents itself, particularly in small-town Nova Scotia but in fact in any part of Nova Scotia. It is a concern of government and a responsibility of government that we maintain law and order. We are prepared to undertake and look at any piece of responsible legislation in any part of the country that might help us here in Nova Scotia.

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

PETROLEUM DIRECTORATE - OIL COMPANIES:

ROYALTIES - DEPT. EXPERTISE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate. The minister should be aware that the U.S. Government recently finished recovering $392 million from 17 companies that underpaid oil and gas royalties and I will table this document of Dow Jones news wires of January 24th this year. In fact, it was alleged that the 17 companies submitted 500,000 false claims both onshore and offshore in 21 states in the amount of $2.4 billion. Even though those companies could have been on the hook for $5 billion in damages and penalties, most of that money will never be recovered. This information would never have seen the light of day had it not been for two private whistle-blowers. My question to the minister is, what expertise, if any, has the minister retained within the Petroleum Directorate to ensure the oil companies pay their fair share of royalties.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, while the Petroleum Directorate in this province is small, we do have, within the staff, people with expertise in areas dealing with royalties and certainly we are watching very carefully what is happening in the United States and these people monitor the royalty agreement here in this province.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the word on the street is that this government is an easy mark when it comes to the offshore regime. Among the companies that settled with the U.S. Government were Shell, $110 million; Chevron, $95 million; Mobil Oil, $45 million; Kerr-McGee, $13 million and ExxonMobil, $7 million. All of those companies are producing gas or have leases off Nova Scotia. My question again to the minister is, will the minister hire the appropriate expertise to monitor royalties paid to the Nova Scotia Government?

[Page 3660]

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, we do have, within the department, people who have the expertise and certainly when we need additional expertise we go outside of the department to retain that.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Again, Mr. Speaker, hypothetically what he might do in the future is the only answer I am getting here. The legal department of ExxonMobil is probably bigger than the entire Nova Scotia payroll. In my final supplementary, why won't the minister hire the staff required so that the oil companies pay their fair share to the people of Nova Scotia?

MR. BALSER: It is highly likely that the operating budget of ExxonMobil is larger than the budget of Nova Scotia. So it is only reasonable that we live within our means, and we do have, within the department, people with the expertise to monitor the royalty agreement and the royalties that are being paid.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

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

BUS ACCIDENTS - INVESTIGATION POLICY

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. Last week, I asked the Minister of Education to investigate an accident where a 12 year old girl from the Annapolis Valley was struck by a car when exiting a school bus. The New Minas RCMP were not called about this accident by the bus company. I want to ask the Minister of Education what she has learned about this matter and what steps she has taken to ensure police are called immediately to investigate any further bus accidents?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I did look into that incident and, in point of fact, the driver had called an ambulance but the child's parent came and picked the child up even before the ambulance arrived. But, yes, the school board is looking into that accident and, unfortunately, these things do happen from time to time. I do have a report that I can give to the honourable member.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, let's be clear. The Minister of Education directed school boards to make cuts to busing services and, following her direction, the Valley board lost 80 per cent of their experienced bus drivers. Now we learn of another accident. I will table an article from today's paper. A parent is alleging her 9 year old daughter was injured when an inadequately trained driver drove the bus to high speeds before hitting potholes. Given the reports coming from the Valley, I want to ask the Minister of Education whether she regrets her decision to direct school boards to bring in cut-rate busing services for students?

[Page 3661]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, obviously, I can hardly regret a decision I didn't make. The Valley board chose to get a new bus service. It was a difficult decision for them to make. They chose to make it because they wanted to invest the money they would save over the life of the contract, in teachers in the classroom.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, these aren't the only incidents or complaints that we have heard about. We have filed a freedom of information request to that board and they and the review board have agreed to release all bus incidents, but the company appears to want to appeal the release of information all the way to the Supreme Court. So I want to ask the Minister of Education, since she thinks she understands private enterprise so well, why she is still allowing this company to investigate itself regarding children's safety?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the bus company has a contract with the Annapolis Valley school board. It must abide by that contract. Complaints about accidents, et cetera, should be made to either the bus company or the board, and the board is quite equipped to monitor its own contract.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

JUSTICE - SPRINGHILL POLICE FORCE: MIN. - INVESTIGATE

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. The Springhill police issue is getting ugly. Accusations and counter-accusations have been laid against the Springhill Police Commission and the police force. I know, for example, the minister is in possession of a letter from a police officer to the chairman of the Springhill Police Commission, which outlines some of the problem. My question to the minister is, will the minister take a personal interest in this matter to ensure that the Springhill Police Commission is not exerting undue pressure on the members of its police force?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. I have.

MR. DOWNE: I am sure, Mr. Speaker, he will be able to tell us what he has done. I understand members of the Springhill Police Commission, including the son of the mayor and two members of the commission actively campaigned for the member for Cumberland

South. Will the minister commit to an inquiry into the actions of the Springhill Police Commission?

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. BAKER: Thank you for the question. No.

[Page 3662]

MR. DOWNE: I am not surprised at Rambo Justice Minister, Mr. Speaker. This is a question of confidence in our justice system. The province must step in to ensure that confidence is going to be given to the people of that area. Why won't the Minister of Justice simply investigate this matter and clear the air publicly?

MR. BAKER: We will do what needs to be done.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

HEALTH - MENTALLY DISABLED: KENDRICK REPORT - RECOMMENDATIONS ADOPT

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, every day I am approached by someone in regard to the lack of community services and support for mentally disabled (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable members, it is difficult for the Speaker to hear the member for Dartmouth North place his question.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, every day I am approached by someone in regard to the lack of community services and support for mentally disabled people. This government knows full well what the problems are and the Kendrick report tells us what the solutions are. I have stood in this House on many occasions and asked the Minister of Health to adopt the recommendations of the Kendrick report. His answer is always the same - we are studying the issue. My question to the Minister of Health is, how much longer do people have to go without the services they need before you adopt the recommendations from the expert this government has hired?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member will know very well that the recommendation of Mr. Kendrick, the suggestions that he made, he recognized that they would be implemented over a 5 to 10 year period. We are currently reviewing those recommendations and those that are appropriate and feasible to implement first, will be done first.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the minister that that was not a recommendation of Dr. Kendrick; the recommendation of spreading this out over a 5 to 10 year period was made by the Department of Health and the Department of Community Services. In the last few weeks I have been approached by six different families of mentally disabled teenagers. These young people presently have respite service through the Department of Community Services. All these young people are about to turn 19. They will no longer qualify for Community Services and must turn to the Department of Health for the services that aren't available.

[Page 3663]

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, with the concurrence of the House, I would ask that we revert back to the order of business, Introduction of Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 59 - Entitled An Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Motor Vehicle Act. (Dr. James Smith)

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The motion is carried.

[1:34 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Acting Deputy Speaker Mr. William Dooks in the Chair.]

[5:53 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered the following bills:

[Page 3664]

Bill No. 30 - Financial Measures (2001) Act.

Bill No. 13 - House of Assembly Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend both bills to the favourable consideration of the House, Bill No. 13 without amendment, and Bill No. 30 with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, seeing as how we are approaching the hour of 6:00 p.m., I move the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 9:00 a.m. The House will sit until 2:00 p.m. The order of business will be Public Bills and Private and Local Bills for Second Reading. We have a list of bills in the order that we will be presenting them. I move the House do now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader moves that the House adjourn to meet again tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[The motion is carried.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The subject of tonight's late debate, submitted by the member for Halifax Chebucto is:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should immediately provide the most current information on profits that have been earned by Nova Scotia Resources Limited in the years 2000 and 2001."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

NSRL - PROFITS (2000/2001): INFO - PREMIER PROVIDE

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the Adjournment motion tonight has to do with a publicly-owned corporation, our eyes and ears in the world of oil and gas, particularly the offshore; that is Nova Scotia Resources Limited. Just on the face of it, the motion seems

[Page 3665]

very straightforward and seems, I imagine, to many observers to be a bit puzzling. They would look at it and they would say, what is it that is so difficult about having the profit figures for the most recent years provided, and why is it that a motion even comes with respect to that?

The problem is this, the problem has nothing to do with focusing exactly on the difficulty of knowing what the profits have been in Nova Scotia Resources Limited for the years 2000 and 2001. Of course, everyone would like to know what the profits have been, what the financial position is of Nova Scotia Resources Limited for those fiscal years. That would be a useful piece of information, and I think many of us were a little surprised that the honourable Minister of Finance, when asked about this the other day, apparently didn't know the answer to that, given that I think he has responsibility for this entity.

The issue is a little more elaborate than knowing just what the state of the cash flow might be, in and out, of Nova Scotia Resources Limited. The problem is that the government is proposing to sell off Nova Scotia Resources Limited. There are two questions that have to be asked about a proposed sale: first, is it a good idea; second, is it a good deal? Now, both of these are extremely debatable propositions, and it is really the attempt to focus the attention of the members of the House on both of those questions that the Adjournment motion has been brought.

We have to ask these two questions, and I will just state them again for those who might have missed them. The first question is, is it a good idea? Is it a good idea to sell off Nova Scotia Resources Limited? The second question is, regardless of whether it is a good idea or a bad idea, if it is going to happen, is the particular business deal that has been struck by the government, or is in the process of being struck, through the offers that it has made, good for the people of Nova Scotia?

It is probably the second aspect of the question that tonight's Adjournment motion is more focused on. I am just going to take a minute to examine this question first, of whether it is a good idea to privatize our national oil and gas company. I suppose national might be not quite the right word - provincial oil and gas company.

Nova Scotia Resources Limited has as its chief, although not its only asset, an interest in the SOEP project to the extent of a little over 8 per cent. That means that at the moment, in terms of ownership of the gas that is being extracted, we own a little over 8 per cent of that gas. It means as the sale of that gas, which is now at a record-high price, proceeds that the revenues to Nova Scotia Resources Limited are fairly high. Is it a good idea for us to get out of the oil and gas business?

Well, this is problematic. The difficulty, of course, has been that in the past when the province has been in the oil and gas business, we have done nothing but lose money. It is only in recent years that we are in any kind of position to begin to make any money at all.

[Page 3666]

This has to do mostly now with the question of timing. If we have lost money, as we clearly have - enormous sums in the past with oil exploration or oil extraction - is it possible that we might in fact recover some of those funds and offset them by holding on to our interests in future years?

[6:00 p.m.]

That is an important question, and it is one that has to be answered, and has to be answered and backed up with detail before Nova Scotians are going to be in a position to know whether it is a good idea to get out of the oil and gas business now. That is a crucial part of this question as well. Does it make sense, if we were going to get out of the oil and gas business, to do it now or should we wait 5, 7, 10 years perhaps to the extent of waiting to the end of the life of the SOEP project, the six significant discovery licenses, the six SDLs that are now in production offshore? If we wait until the end of that time, especially given how valuable a commodity our gas seems now to be in the international markets, it might make sense for us to accumulate revenues that would offset our losses. Would we do that? If so, how long would it take?

It is not known, and the reason it isn't known is that the government has not yet chosen to say. It has been asked on a number of occasions, Nova Scotia Resources Limited has been asked on a number of occasions, to supply definite projections of revenues over the future, over the life expectancy of the SOEP project but it has not done so. I hope that the minister is soon going to be in a position, perhaps even this evening, to give us the details of that, because if the public does not know that, then we know nothing about whether it makes sense to sell, to sell now and to sell at the particular price that it is that the government is telling us is appropriate.

I know the government didn't come up with this number on its own. We know that they retained advisors to analyse the situation and to give a suggested price, and it did so last summer. The company that was hired to do the projections did it at a time when the price of gas was significantly lower than it is now. We know that since the projections were done there has been a large increase in the market price of natural gas. One cannot but open the financial pages of any newspaper or financial journal now and be struck by story after story about the energy demand in the United States, particularly in the northeastern United States which is the part of the market into which we are selling our gas. Everyone knows that the Boston market has shown the highest demand and the highest price for natural gas. That is because there has been a huge demand and a relatively low supply. Even with the SOEP gas flowing to the Boston market - Boston market meaning not just Boston, but the northeastern United States - there is still a huge demand there that remains partially unmet.

What that means is, according to the classic rules in the marketplace of supply and demand which works peculiarly well in this particular kind of market, there is a premium price being paid for SOEP gas. With the premium price being paid for SOEP gas, that is a

[Page 3667]

crucial, probably the crucial factor in determining the price that ought to be obtained for our public asset, Nova Scotia Resources Limited.

When the projections were done by the company that was hired as the government's consultant as to what the price for the company ought to be on the market, that was done last summer. Since then, the gas price has risen, as I have described. I would have thought that it was appropriate to revisit, in detail, what it is that the price of Nova Scotia Resources Limited ought to be. Is $420 million the right price?

In estimates, we had the opportunity to speak with the honourable Minister of Finance about this a little bit. He suggested that, indeed, there had been some rethinking of the situation since the increase in the price of gas. But, the puzzling thing is that although he tells us that the consultant company did rethink the situation, there was no change in the price that they suggested between last summer and now. Last summer they thought $420 million was the right price, after that the price of gas skyrockets and now they still think $420 million is the right price. How can they possibly explain that?

Well, we are looking to the Minister of Finance to explain to us what it is about the situation that could not have been influenced by the astronomical change in the price of gas over that period of time. I don't understand it and I look to the minister to explain it for us.

Is my time up, Mr. Speaker? Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I was very pleased to see that the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto had asked to speak on Nova Scotia Resources Limited. I think it is an important issue. This week there has been some coverage about the fact that Nova Scotia Resources Limited is in the process of trying to sell its assets, that is the company shell itself, significant discovery licences which would go to one of the partners which is called PanCanadian and the other assets, which are basically the gas reserves and the rights in the SOEP project.

For those at home, that is the gas and oil project that is a conglomerate of people who got together, along with the government, and it has basically come together and allowed natural gas to finally come ashore where it is being piped to New England. That is what the member is referring to and our share is a little over 8 per cent. We have entered into an agreement with a company to buy both those assets for $420 million. The issue is one that for ourselves, there has been a bit of confusion in the coverage this week and I think it is important, there are two different issues, one of which is when the accounting should take place for this as to when the asset is being sold. There are those who will say that if it doesn't get finalized until this year, then that is when it should get recorded.

[Page 3668]

Mr. Speaker, within the Department of Finance we look at this issue as when the province was contractually obligated to sell this asset, if this process comes to conclusion, and it has been a long process and the reason being especially because of the ROFR, which is the right of first refusal that was given by the previous administration in its dying days to the companies, Shell and ExxonMobil. It made this sale so much more complicated. I didn't have gray hair before I started and look at me now.

So, however, what has happened is that the accounting people from our department clearly say because of the fact that we are contractually obligated because this deal was signed in February 6, 2001, that if it comes to fruition and it gets finalized, the date of the gain and loss on the sale of the assets should be as of February which means that it would get recorded in the last fiscal year. The final decision, of course, we are going to be taking this information to the Auditor General and he will basically be giving his audited opinion. We have asked him in advance and actually I think even perhaps some of the Parties have asked him also. On the information that he has, as of now, because it isn't finalized, he concurs that it would probably get reported last year. However, he reserves the right to see all the information. That is fine.

So that is one issue, that when the gain on sale would get recorded, and no matter what happens, Mr. Speaker, we only have one gas company to sell. If people think that this is part of our operating results of the province, you are fooling yourselves. I wish we had a whole lot of them to sell and that we could sell them for $420 million. This province would be better.

The other issue, Mr. Speaker, which is very important, is when did we sell the company? Some people are saying, well, how come it is being dated back to December 1st. Well, we had 7 to 10 companies who were interested in buying Nova Scotia Resources Limited and the fact of the matter is they want to put a bid on the company as a point in time. What we are selling is gas in the ground or under the sea and when they buy it, they want to know at what point in time they were going to buy this. You say, well, why is that? If they buy it and they buy the gas, if we take the gas out after, obviously, they want to be paid for it. It would be their property that they bought. So as we articulated this week, the companies that are buying, which are Emera and Pengrowth Energy Trust, they are the ones who are buying the assets of Sable offshore and they are buying the gas basically. That is the main asset that they are buying.

They would be purchasing it as of December 1st which means the transactions that happen after that are going to be accruing to them if this sale becomes final. Mr. Speaker, that is standard industry practice and although some people are having some trouble understanding it, and I think part of the problem is that they are confusing it with the accounting of how the sale will take place and the actual sale of the asset to this company. The member opposite brought up two questions, one of which is it a good idea?

[Page 3669]

Mr. Speaker, I am clearly of the opinion that it is a good idea. I know that the member for Lunenburg West will not participate tonight in the event, but I remember when he took over this portfolio when the Liberal Government was there, and he was saying that the situation was terrible and he said it made him want to hurl. I remember reading it in the paper, I was not in government at the time, but he said it was so terrible and the debt was $420 million at that time. As of a few months ago, the debt of NSRL had risen to $800 million. You are talking big, big money and you have to be able to play in this game. It is a very risky business.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto mentioned the fact that the prices are high, and they are high, but as of December 1st the price of natural gas on the stock market, which is what you could buy today without a long-term contract, was $7.97 U.S. That is a very high price. Today, it is down to $3.45; it is down 50 per cent. It goes up and it goes down; it is a very risky business. That is why we feel that it is in the best interests of the province to sell when the situation was looking good, limit our risk and, as such, limit the risk especially to the taxpayers of this province.

We put a lot of money into it. Why did we do that? We did that because we wanted to develop an offshore gas and oil industry. We have done that. There are many companies that come to this province to invest, and they are coming by the droves right now because a lot of people are interested in it and that is great for this economy. But they have deep pockets, and we don't, and the fact of the matter is if you want to look at government's experiences in being in the private sector, we haven't done too good at steelmaking and we haven't done too good at gas and oil.

Mr. Speaker, that is their expertise. They have capital and they spread their risks world-wide. This is not their only gas finds. You look at the ExxonMobils, or the PanCanadians, and these companies that are there, they have other assets and everything is weighed and they do very well. They are good, profitable companies, and we have not been that fortunate along that way.

The other question that the member asked was, is it a good deal? He is asking a question which is a valid one. Part of the thing that they have asked in the past is, when will we release the evaluation that was done. Before we took this asset to sale, we did an evaluation on it. We wanted to know how much we thought that we could get for it and was it a fair price for the Province of Nova Scotia. We have not released that information. We said publicly we will release it after the sale becomes final, because, Mr. Speaker, if it doesn't become final, that is good, confidential information if you want to start the process again.

I don't think it is very prudent for the government to put on the table an evaluation report of how much an asset is worth if you are going to go sell it, because everyone is going to know what your asset is. That is something that the government should keep confidential

[Page 3670]

until such time as the sale becomes final. We have said that. We have said it upfront, but we also said we would release that information, as we should. The taxpayers of this province should be able to see what evaluation was done and what results we achieved by selling it.

One of the main results is, of course, that we were going to lower our long-term borrowing in this province by $420 million. Mr. Speaker, that is a lot of money; it is a lot of debt that we are moving off the books of the Province of Nova Scotia. At the same time, it limits the risk. Even in Tier 2, which is the second phase of the Sable Offshore Energy Project. What happens is that if we want to stay in, we are going to have to pay, because if you want to play with the big boys, you have to have money, and it is going to cost a lot of money. What prices will be in the future, it is difficult to say. This is like playing at the casino. A lot of times they say the government should stay in, prices will be high, and when they go down they will be the first ones to say, what in God's name were you doing in this industry?

It is high risk and you have to have the funds to play and you have to have the expertise in order to be in this game. For ourselves, we believe very clearly that we have done the right things for the taxpayers in limiting our risk. We will be getting a reasonable return. The fact of the matter is, if we would have put this company for sale five or six months or a year before, we would have gotten much less. We feel we went to the market at the right time. It is the best deal for the Province of Nova Scotia, but it is a good deal for the taxpayers and we feel that we have done the right thing. I appreciate the honourable member opposite wanting to know the information and evaluation, and we will make that public when the sale becomes final.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak to this resolution, "Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should immediately provide the most current information on profits that have been earned by Nova Scotia Resources Limited in the years 2000 and 2001."

Well, it is an interesting resolution. I wouldn't count on getting that information very soon, but nevertheless it is a resolution that begs some discussion, and hopefully the discussion will at least say to the government that there are people out here interested in finding out what is happening with NSRL. Once again, this NDP resolution is proving that the NDP is Opposition in name only in this place. I will give you an example; in Question Period today, if you were following it very closely, the NDP followed our caucus on pretty near every one of the issues today. I say that, because they are also following our lead on NSRL.

[Page 3671]

[6:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we support this resolution because it is a very simple one for the government to listen to; if they will listen to anything these days, this would be a very simple one for them to listen to. There is no reason why the Minister of Finance can't table the figures immediately. Any move to block such a release, I believe, is obstruction. It is typical for the government that does not issue press releases with adequate information, as in the case of this issue. In fact, if the government were a publicly-traded company, the TSE would have sanctioned them for not indicating the effective date of the sale as December 1, 2001.

Mr. Speaker, this is the same government that no longer issues press releases from the Gaming Corporation. That organization doesn't even issue quarterly reports any more. This is the new secrecy that the people of Nova Scotia are becoming accustomed to. It is up to the Alcohol and Gaming Authority to release that information, even the government does not issue a regular quarterly report, even the government doesn't do that any more. This year, in March, they buried the report in the budget. In fact, I would argue this government is not fully committed to quarterly reporting at all.

Mr. Speaker, I have said it would be easy for the Finance Minister to figure out how much NSRL has made since December 1, 2001. Then again, maybe the Finance Minister should just ask his staff. I would remind the government that it was the MacLellan Government that made NSRL saleable by purchasing 8.4 per cent of the Sable project. That is an undeniable fact.

Mr. Speaker, I would also remind the government that it was the Buchanan and Cameron Tories who left us with the NSRL debacle in the first place. I guess we can't expect much from the Minister of Finance, he must be very stressed with the cutbacks proposed for his local health district, District 2, I believe, the same district of the member for Shelburne and the member for Yarmouth. I guess we haven't seen anything yet, so you backbenchers better get ready for the wrath of your constituents when the Health Minister axes services at your local hospital.

Mr. Speaker, either the Finance Minister is not too bright or he is deliberately ignoring Opposition concerns. I know he is not stupid, so it must be the latter. How else can you explain that yesterday, the member for Lunenburg West said he wanted taxes frozen at current levels. Do you know what the Finance Minister did, he stood up and proceeded to say that we can't afford a tax cut. Our caucus has never asked for a tax cut, we have been asking this minister to stop raising taxes. In fact, the minister won't acknowledge that he has raised incomes taxes in 2000, when he separated from the federal tax. A bit of sleight of hand there. He raised taxes again this year when he failed to end bracket creep. Yet the minister won't tell the truth. He can't come to grips with the fact that Tories are raising income taxes and that the year four tax cut promise is absolutely, positively worthless. He would have to cut

[Page 3672]

taxes by 30 per cent or 40 per cent, just to give the people back the money they took since 1999, money from the pockets of average, hardworking Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, this issue will be the downfall of this government. Today, perhaps, the Finance Minister could pledge to be more open and fully disclose how much money NSRL has made. But, you know and I know that won't happen. Think back to last year, when the minister wrote off the NSRL debt of some $700 million by OIC, down in the bunker, remember that is mostly Tory non-performing debt. This is the same minister who said he would no longer reveal such important information by OIC. Saying one thing and doing another.

Mr. Speaker, even that promise and the minister's integrity went out the window the day he wrote off the NSRL debt by OIC. It is apparent to me and apparent to Nova Scotians that more and more we are seeing a government that is being run from the bunker, a government that is hiding from the people of Nova Scotia by not coming to the floor of this Legislature and debating these important financial decisions this government is regularly making, I might add, to the detriment of Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, it is up to us in the Opposition, both our Party and the Official Opposition, to constantly make Nova Scotians aware of the fact that this government is employing measures that are not in their best interests and, indeed, are embarking upon tax issues that if they are not illegal they are certainly immoral, to be putting tax increases and user fees in place in this province and to be doing the kinds of deals they are doing with NSRL without having to come and explain those deals to the Legislature, without having to table documents in this House that will substantiate what they are doing in this current mandate that they have.

They are not doing that; they are operating from the bunker; they are operating from behind closed doors, and they have nothing, I think, but contempt for the electorate of this province by even suggesting that they are operating in their best interests, to be even letting Nova Scotians feel that what they are doing in the area of taxation is for their benefit, when in effect they are employing user fees and gaining additional tax revenue from the taxpayers of this province, only to try to get re-elected by giving them the same money back in the election year.

Mr. Speaker, a cynical ploy, a very cynical ploy, but it is not unusual for this government to act in this manner. They have been acting in this manner ever since they took office. They have set out on an agenda, much like the agenda they are doing with NSRL, to run and hide, hit and run, to try to convince Nova Scotians that they are financially responsible when in fact, Mr. Speaker, you and I both know, the Auditor General has said he is concerned about the debt of this province; he is concerned about the debt repayment schedule of this province; he is concerned that this government is heading down the road, again, to fiscal irresponsibility in this province.

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The Premier didn't even know last week, in this House, that the debt was rising. I am not saying the debt is rising in this province, the Finance Minister's own people are saying that. As a matter of fact, Nova Scotians should know that the debt of this province is going to rise by $400 million in the current mandate of this government, $400 million, to an all-time high. The debt repayment in this province is going to go over $1 billion, $1 billion right off the top of the budget of this province this year to pay the interest on the long-term debt.

Mr. Speaker, if you can consider that responsible government, combining that with the windfall they received from Ottawa in the last fiscal year for this year, the user fees, the increases that we talked about in Bill No. 30 and in Bill No. 20 in this House, the increases in those fees, the windfall, the increase in taxation, what they are gearing up for is the same kind of shell game they are playing here with NSRL. What they are doing is using Nova Scotians' own money to buy their votes again, in the next election. That is what they are doing.

They are taking a page from the past, the good old Tory way of getting re-elected, fool Nova Scotians into thinking you are doing something for them with their own money, and then give them half that money back in an election year, and hope you have conned them sufficiently to get re-elected. That is what is going on here. There is no doubt in my mind that the stage has been set, the re-election campaign has begun. It is going to be, look after your friends in government; look after our backroom boys, they will tell you who to look after, all the way from Economic Development through Finance to the Premier's Office to the minister of patronage, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, and Government House Leader, and Chairman of Planning and Priorities . . .

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: And Human Resources.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: . . . and Human Resources, my friend the Finance Minister informs me.

That is what is going to happen here. That is what is going to happen. Having said that, I will take my place, only to revisit this issue soon, again, I hope.

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

[The House is adjourned.]

[The House rose at 6:25 p.m.]

[Page 3674]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1237

By: Hon. Peter Christie (Minister of Community Services)

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

Whereas on May 4, 2001 home builders, material suppliers, developers and provincial officials were among those who gathered to open the Lifestyle 2001 Home located at 103 Waterstone Run, Waterstone Subdivision in Lucasville; and

Whereas the single-level bungalow, built by Carleton Homes, is a joint venture between Carleton Homes, the Nova Scotia Builders' Association, Waterstone and Kimberley-Lloyd/Armco Capital Corp., Nova Scotia Power, MTT, Kent Home Improvements, Atlantic Windows and Image Design Communications and others; and

Whereas the 1,450 square feet of living space is completely wheelchair accessible, with wider doorways and hallways and a grade level entrance, which showcases the advantages of using new building technologies in residential construction;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to this group of partners for coming together to build and showcase their expertise to the general public.

RESOLUTION NO. 1238

By: Mr. David Hendsbee (Preston)

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

Whereas Sylvia Hamilton, a native of Beechville, has earned her many well-deserved awards and honours in Canada and internationally through her work as an artist and a community activist and is 1 of 12 individuals receiving honorary doctoral degrees during Dalhousie University's spring convocation; and

Whereas Sylvia Hamilton's work includes Speak It! From the Heart of Black Nova Scotia for which she received a Gemini Award in 1994; and

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Whereas Ms. Hamilton also devotes her time to volunteer for many organizations including the Canada Council's Second Advisory Committee for Racial Equality in the Arts; the Advisory Board of Dalhousie University Law School Indigenous Black and Mi'kmaq Law Program and the Board of Governors of the University of King's College;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join Dalhousie University in recognizing Sylvia Hamilton's significant artistic accomplishments and tireless community service.