Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Tue., Nov. 6, 2001

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HALIFAX, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2001

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Jerry Pye, Mr. David Wilson

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

Therefore be it resolved that federal NDP Leader Alexa McDonough does not support the actions of Canadian Armed Forces women and men in the war against terrorism and that all Parties in the provincial Legislature should recognize this incontrovertible fact.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

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HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the 10th Annual Report of the Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia for the period April 1, 2000 to March 31, 2001.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Nova Scotia Integrated Tourism Plan, 2002.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, before I read this statement I would like to apologize to the Opposition Parties for not making this available sooner. I believe it is on its way. A person in my department had thought the House opened at 2:00 p.m. today, not 12:00 noon, and it is an error on our part. (Interruptions) It is on its way. I would be perfectly prepared to do it later.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There has been a suggestion to possibly revert back to Statements by Ministers at a later time today.

MISS PURVES: I would be perfectly prepared, agreed, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 2156

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

Whereas the Canada Export Awards was held in Montreal on September 24th; and

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Whereas two Nova Scotia companies, Mermaid Theatre and The Shaw Group Limited, received two of the 10 national export awards; and

Whereas The Shaw Group Limited also received the Special Job Creation Achievement Award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate these companies as winners of the Canada Export Achievement Awards.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 2157

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

Whereas yesterday I joined with the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia and the Tourism Partnership Council to report on the strength of the industry's performance in 2001 and to outline plans for next year; and

Whereas once again, the annual impact of this industry is striking, with revenues surpassing the $1.2 billion mark and non-resident visitation reaching 2 million visitors; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's Tourism Partnership Council is working to further develop and enhance this critical sector of our economy with a new integrated tourism plan which has been tabled in this House;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating and thanking the people whose hard work and perseverance are behind the great strides this industry has made in identifying and capitalizing on Nova Scotia's strengths.

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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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 79 - Entitled an Act to Prevent the Continuation of Domestic Violence. (Hon. Michael Baker)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 2158

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

Whereas the strength of Nova Scotia's music industry comes from the significant indigenous talent represented by such artists as Jimmy Rankin; and

Whereas with the release of his CD, Song Dog, Jimmy Rankin has embarked on a solo career; and

Whereas he is currently touring across Nova Scotia, showcasing his trademark yarn-telling, toe-tapping tunes that audiences can't resist;

Therefore be it resolved that all members extend best wishes to Jimmy Rankin, his wife Mia and members of his band for a successful Maritime tour.

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 Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 2159

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Community College Strait Area campus, in partnership with the Wagmatcook First Nation and StoraEnso Port Hawkesbury, celebrated with the graduates of the first NSCC First Nation Forestry Program in September; and

Whereas this ceremony was held in the new Wagmatcook Community Centre that included community members, NSCC faculty and staff, industry representatives, Wagmatcook Chief Mary Louise Bernard and the Wagmatcook Band Council; and

Whereas this occasion marks a new era in which government, the forest industry and First Nations representatives are working together to improve the economic conditions of First Nations communities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all participants who contributed to the success of this program which will help in the pursuit of economic development for First Nations communities.

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 Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2160

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

Whereas November 5th to November 11th marks Veterans Week in Canada, "A Time to Remember" the service and sacrifice, courage and gallantry of Canadians in the service of peace; and

Whereas a focal point of the week here in Nova Scotia is today's presentation of Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medals at the Pier 21 National Historic Site;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly, during this Veterans Week, express its utmost respect and gratitude for the sacrifices made in the name of peace by today's recipients of the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal: Colonel James M. Atkins, Sergeant Daniel Joseph Boutilier, Sergeant John D. Cooper, Master Warrant Officer George Bernard Elliot, Sergeant Ralph Arnold Higgins, Warrant Officer Robert Maxwell Jollimore, Sergeant Vincent James Kennie, Master Corporal Ronald MacLean, Sergeant John Graham Merry, Sergeant Hubert G. Ryan, Sergeant Stanley Dean Salsman, and Corporal Donald Richard Smelser.

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 Premier.

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RESOLUTION NO. 2161

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Reverend Bruce Morrison has served New Glasgow for over 20 years; and

Whereas during this time, he was a member of the counselling team after the Westray explosion and has been a police chaplain for seven years; and

Whereas true to his calling, Reverend Morrison volunteered his services as a member of the critical-incident stress management team of the New York Port Authority Police in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Reverend Bruce Morrison for his caring spirit in the face of this tragedy and his kindness in bringing comfort to others.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2162

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

Whereas first year university student, Melissa Bogle, wants to eliminate impaired driving and has been selected by Mothers Against Drunk Driving to its 2001 National Youth Advocate Team; and

Whereas Ms. Bogle is the only Nova Scotia member; and

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Whereas she will work to spur federal and provincial governments to enact legislation that will more effectively deal with drinking and driving;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Ms. Bogle on being the only Nova Scotian chosen by MADD to the National Youth Advocate Team, and for her dedication to the cause.

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. 2163

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

Whereas November 5th to November 11th marks Veterans Week in Canada, "A Time to Remember" the service and sacrifice, courage and gallantry of Canadians in the service of peace; and

Whereas on October 20, 2001, 12 Cape Bretoners were honoured with the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal for their efforts during recent Canadian peacekeeping missions in Kosovo; and

Whereas the Canadian Peacekeeping Service medal is designed to recognize all Canadians, including serving and former Canadian Forces members and members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who contributed to peace in the United Nations mission;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly, during this Veterans Week, express its utmost respect and gratitude for the sacrifices made in the name of peace by Cape Breton recipients of the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal: Canadian Forces Master Corporal Terrance Patrick Long; and Regional Police members, Constable Warren

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MacEachern, Constable Owen McKenzie, Constable Steven Nagy, Constable Mel Birmingham, Constable Steve Ettinger, Constable Mike Byrne, Sergeant Eugene MacLean, Constable Calvin Thomas, Constable Paul Kelley, Constable Rob MacMullin and Constable Wayne Rudderham.

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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 2164

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

Whereas part of this provincial government's Party platform was a commitment to make provincially-owned industrial land available for purchase by municipal units; and

Whereas having lived up to this commitment, the Region of Queens now has the opportunity to promote the sale of lands in the Liverpool Industrial Park and bring in new companies which will create employment and generate new tax dollars; and

Whereas situated within the high-speed Internet service capability of MTT and with three-phase power available, and both water and sewer, the industrial park is well suited to light industry, including information technologies;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the new opportunities afforded to the Municipality of the Region of Queens and acknowledge their strength and position to capitalize on the assets found at the Liverpool Industrial Park.

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 2165

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

Whereas Lieutenant Governor Myra Freeman presented peacekeeping medals on Saturday to 12 Cape Breton Regional Police officers and a member of the Armed Forces; and

Whereas those honoured recently returned from Kosovo on assignment; and

Whereas they were faced with land mines and worked with few supplies and little equipment;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate these officers and Armed Forces personnel on the bravery they have shown and pride they have given to us as Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

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RESOLUTION NO. 2166

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

Whereas Chris Campbell was a legendary volunteer in the communities along the Prospect Road; and

Whereas each year the Chris Campbell Community Volunteer Award is presented to a deserving local resident; and

Whereas this year's winner is Andy Mitchell of Prospect Bay, who was recognized for his countless hours of volunteerism;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Andy Mitchell of Prospect Bay on his selection as this year's recipient of the Chris Campbell Community Volunteer Award.

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 North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2167

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

Whereas the Governor General of Canada's Medal of Bravery recognizes people who have risked their lives to save or protect others; and

Whereas in August at Blomidon Provincial Park, Park Warden Gary Trevors, of Kentville, committed just such an act of bravery by risking his life to rescue a four year old boy who had fallen 20 metres into a crevice in the rocky cliff; and

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Whereas although fully aware of the danger he faced, the first responder immediately administered first aid and used what little equipment he had to stop the bleeding, and remained to comfort and keep the child alert until help arrived;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Gary Trevors for being awarded the Governor General's Medal of Bravery and thank him for his part in ensuring a happy ending to what might have been a tragic accident.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2168

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

Whereas tourism is down 3 per cent this year on top of the 1 per cent loss last year, even though we have a full-time Minister of Tourism and Culture; and

Whereas to his credit, however, the Tourism Minister is not blaming the tragedy of September 11th for the decline in the industry; and

Whereas this fact sets him apart from the Premier and the Finance Minister, who have used this tragedy as an excuse for poor government;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House commend the Tourism Minister for not using tragedy to justify his poor performance as Tourism Minister.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2169

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 safe use of a gun can be as pleasurable a pastime as any; and

Whereas shooting clubs provide safe ways to pursue the skill of accurate shooting; and

Whereas Tides End Shooting Club donated all proceeds from the Tanner Ives/Rosie Nevin Benefit Shoot to those two youngsters who are in dire need of expensive medical treatment;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the members of the Tides End Shooting Club for sticking to their guns in hosting a successful benefit shoot to help fund urgent medical treatment for Tanner Ives and Rosie Nevin.

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 Justice.

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RESOLUTION NO. 2170

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

Whereas the Lunenburg Tourist Bureau is host to thousands of visitors to the town each year; and

Whereas the staff at tourist bureaus throughout the province play a large role in promoting our province as a tourist destination; and

Whereas Cheryl Corkum has managed the Lunenburg Tourist Bureau for 25 years and has contributed to the Town of Lunenburg's growth as a tourist destination throughout the years;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Cheryl Corkum for her 25 years of dedicated service as the Manager of the Lunenburg Tourist Bureau.

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 Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 2171

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

Whereas the Ottawa Sun is reporting today that demand for poppies is so great that Legions in Nova Scotia, Ontario and B.C. are running out; and

Whereas a Royal Canadian Legion spokesman said they had never run out before and that demand this year was exceeding the 14.8 million poppies ordered; and

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Whereas last year the Legion collected $12 million in poppy donations to help veterans and their families;

Therefore be it resolved that the Legion be congratulated on what is shaping up to be the most successful poppy campaign ever, especially at a time when a reminder of those who fought for democracy is all-important.

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. (Applause)

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 2172

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

Whereas the Cole Harbour Minor Baseball Association has developed many strong players over the years, including some who have been drafted by major league baseball teams; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Canada Games baseball team won a bronze medal at the 2001 Canada Games held in London, Ontario, this past summer; and

Whereas seven members of the Nova Scotia Canada Games baseball team came from the Cole Harbour Minor Baseball Association and were an integral part of the success of the team;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Nova Scotia Canada Games baseball team on their bronze medal performance and recognize the efforts of Bob Gillis, Head Coach, Todd Parker, Jr., Assistant Coach, and all players on the team.

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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2173

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

Whereas two students from Middleton Regional High School, Catherine Terauds and Joel Cox, were recently awarded the Duke of Edinburgh's bronze award; and

Whereas the Duke of Edinburgh Award is now presented in nearly 100 countries throughout the world and presented to self-driven, self-motivated young people between the ages of 14 and 25 who are preparing to become better citizens in their communities; and

Whereas the Duke of Edinburgh Award is described as "Canada's most prestigious award for youth" in fostering the development of responsibility, leadership and perseverance;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly commend Catherine Terauds and Joel Cox for being awarded this prestigious award.

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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The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2174

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 West Nova Agro Commodities Grain and Forage Centre is a community-based producer-owned and operated facility which came into being after the Middleton grain centre closed in 1998; and

Whereas the Royal Bank gives an Economic Development Program Award annually for Canada's best economic development project; and

Whereas this year's recipient of the Economic Development Program Award went to the Western Valley Development Authority for its role in creating the West Nova Agro Commodities Grain and Forage Centre in Lawrencetown;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House applaud the Western Valley Development Authority on receiving the Royal Bank's Economic Development Program Award for helping to create the West Nova Agro Commodities Grain and Forage Centre in Lawrencetown.

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 Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2175

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: 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 nine-hole Riverrun Golf Club presently under construction in North River, Colchester County, is expected to open next spring; and

Whereas owner, Greg Jones, is looking forward to the opening as the sport of golf continues to grow in leaps and bounds with Golf Nova Scotia recently reporting a record 83,000 inquiries about courses across Nova Scotia in May, June and July of this year as well as 100,000 hits on their Web site; and

Whereas the new North River golf course is expected to employ 10 people while generating significant spin-off business;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature recognize the tremendous economic benefits from the sport of golf as Nova Scotia makes a name for itself as a prominent golf destination.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 2176

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

Whereas some of us might dream of travelling to exotic places like Zimbabwe or Israel, others have been able to allow us to experience such places from our living room; and

Whereas Tanya Shaw, a former resident of Cole Harbour, hosted three episodes of Don't Forget Your Passport, a travel adventure program featured on the Outdoor Life Network; and

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Whereas Tanya Shaw experienced bungee jumping over Victoria Falls, an African safari and the history of Jerusalem and helped us all learn a bit more about these countries;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Tanya Shaw on her success and wish her all the best in the years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 2177

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

Whereas the RCMP-initiated Adopt-a-Library Literacy Program is proving to be an overwhelming success in Guysborough County with more than 50 children participating; and

Whereas the program, which began in January of this year, is held at the library in Sherbrooke and involves the RCMP working with local sponsors such as Dairy Queen, Subway and the local Lions Club; and

Whereas school-aged children, upon returning books to the library, are asked to keep an ongoing reading log and once 10 books have been read, young readers receive a small prize;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly commend the Sherbrooke Library and staff members and officers with the Sherbrooke RCMP detachment for their work with children in the RCMP Adopt-a-Library Literacy Program.

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[12:30 p.m.]

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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2178

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

Whereas the Maritime only steel casting foundry, Scotia Foundries of Pictou County, is currently undergoing a significant modernization with Phase 1 scheduled for completion in January; and

Whereas this fall in a ceremony at Scotia Foundries in New Glasgow, company President R.B. Cameron, Jr., accepted on behalf of the company an ISO 9001:2000 certification from ISO Auditor Kim Sadler, from Halifax; and

Whereas the ISO certification will enable Scotia Foundries to increase their competitiveness as suppliers of the best steel castings in the entire world;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs extend our best wishes to President and CEO, R.B. Cameron, Jr., and Scotia Foundries' General Manager, Roger Burley, as they, along with company staff, continue their expansion initiatives.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

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It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

MR. SPEAKER: I would just like to remind the members - it's happened a couple of days in a row now - and I would ask the members to at least watch for resolutions. What happens is we're trying to move from one piece of business to the other and we're missing - I would appreciate the members' attention to what's happening.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, prior to going to Question Period, I request the unanimous consent of the House to revert to the order of business, Statements by Ministers.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JANE PURVES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the Opposition Parties for allowing this. Last night members of the Strait Regional School Board, in consultation with the Department of Education, made a decision to turn information on payments to two senior board staff over to the RCMP; that information is being handed over today.

Last Tuesday board and representatives from the Departments of Education, Finance, and Justice met as part of the investigation into a loan guarantee signed by board representatives in 1998. The board subsequently took a deeper look at financial payments made to senior staff and, as a result, new information was uncovered over the weekend. In consultation with my department, it was decided that sufficient information exists to warrant the involvement of the RCMP.

As outlined in the board's news release last night, the board discovered financial payments in excess of $250,000 to two senior staff dating back to 1996. Upon the discovery of this information, the board immediately notified the department. The gravity of this situation causes me great disappointment and concern, but I fully support the action taken by the board. The Department of Education lends its full support and co-operation to the

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board as it continues to deal with this very difficult situation. We will also continue to work with them and the RCMP throughout this investigation.

It is also important to remember today that we are dealing with a situation in one board; I believe it would be unfair for all school boards to be tainted by the actions of a few individuals.

I will attempt to answer any questions you may have this afternoon and in the coming days but please keep in mind that, because this investigation is now in the hands of the police, I am not in a position to comment on every detail. I do, however, reconfirm my commitment to make public any and all information I am legally able to share when the RCMP investigation is complete. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I guess I want to start by making it clear that there is an investigation on behalf of the RCMP, but no charges have been laid at this point. There's nothing before the courts at this point and I would hope this minister would not be using this statement and the potential investigation by the RCMP as a way to try and duck questions that are legitimate questions that will be asked, not only about the Strait Regional School Board, but about other boards as well. (Applause)

I only bring that up because the minister has said that she will continue to answer questions. There are questions that many of us have and hopefully, in this Question Period and others, we will continue to get answers. We still don't know who that Department of Education individual was who was at those meetings during those negotiations of the loan agreements. Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, that is an important question that needs to be answered and this minister hasn't even come forward with that yet.

There are other investigations going on as well, whether they be by the Auditor General or the independent auditor or, if we are successful, maybe through the Public Accounts Committee, what we have pushed for, or a special report from the Auditor General. These are all investigations that will continue and must continue because the people of Nova Scotia must have answers to the questions, not only with the Strait Regional School Board, but with all boards. In particular, Mr. Speaker, we must have an understanding of what this Department of Education's role was and what it knew and why it allowed this to happen. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for holding off on her statement until her staff could get this information to us. I want to take this opportunity,

[Page 6565]

on behalf of our caucus, to applaud the minister for bringing this statement here today and making it clear that her department and her government is going to take serious action based on the information that has been revealed today.

Mr. Speaker, I can clearly tell you, as an elected official from the Strait Regional School Board, that the information that has come out has been extremely disturbing to the students, to the parents, to the teachers and to all the residents of the Strait Regional School Board, and that this has come out, not only the contract information and the loan guarantee, but now to find out that a payment of $250,000 has been made. This clearly needs to be investigated and we clearly need to have open accountability for what has occurred here. I appreciate the minister's comment that this was an occurrence on one board and that we shouldn't taint all boards. I would go further and to say that this is an occurrence which clearly involves unelected staff at the board and that no elected members are in any way being questioned in the activities here. I think it is important that we remove that cloud from the elected members of the Strait Regional School Board who are currently there.

Mr. Speaker, it has become quite clear in the last few weeks that there is significant information that clearly was not made available to either this government or the previous administration and that is something that we recognize. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the position has not been that this minister should have known of the 1998 deal, but the question of when her department became aware of this information and when it chose to share that information with the people of Nova Scotia. We will see in the next few days and in the next few weeks that clearly the Department of Education, specifically the deputy minister, had a greater deal of information in his possession than he shared with the minister or the minister chose to share with Nova Scotians. That is the disturbing aspect of this: that the minister found out on October 4th, or her department found out on October 4th, that taxpayers' money had been put at risk and the minister on October 22nd said that that had not taken place.

Based on that, based on what we have found out from Knowledge House, that is why we have had serious concerns about how this minister has been open with this House. But today, certainly, I want to take this opportunity to commend her for bringing this information forward as soon as possible. We certainly hope that she will continue to share this information in a public forum. Any information that her deputy might still be aware of that the minister is not, we can only hope that the minister will go and ask him to share that with her and if not, we certainly will be more than happy to do that for her on the floor of this House.

[Page 6566]

Mr. Speaker, this is a positive step. Again, it is an unfortunate thing that taxpayers' dollars meant for the classrooms did not reach those classrooms, and we certainly hope that the investigation will be prompt and that the details of this occurrence will be made public as soon as possible. Thank you.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday I stood in my place and asked you to rule on a possible violation of point of privilege as a member of this House and a former member of this House. During discussion on Bill No. 29, comments were made by the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage. I was wondering if you are prepared to rule on that today?

MR. SPEAKER: I am. I would have liked to prepare a written one, but I will give a verbal one. After reviewing Hansard and the comments made by the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, and as well by the matter raised by the member for Cape Breton South, my decision is there is not a prima facie case of breach of privilege. I could go into more detail about things that have been said in this House before about previous members. I would like to caution all members, whether it is members in the House today or previous members, we should be very careful about comments or words we use that could be misconstrued to mean something that maybe the member doesn't intend for them to mean. I would ask the members to be very cautious of words that are used not only of the members here but previous members as well.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 12:41 p.m. and will end at 1:41 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

EDUC.: SCH. BDS. HANDBOOK - INFO.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I will begin by tabling a press release from the Strait Regional School Board that alleges two senior Strait officials received irregular payments of more than $250,000. I am left to ask how this could happen. Let me table a document that will help answer that question. This is a handbook for school boards, prepared in 1996. It states that the Liberal Government would appoint co-ordinators to help select superintendents and develop compensation packages for all positions, as appropriate. My question for the Minister of Education is, how can you or any former Minister of Education claim you just discovered this information, when you have had it all along?

[Page 6567]

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the information that we discovered in both the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board and the Strait Regional School Board was discovered this fall. Pieces of paper and guidelines developed back in the mid-1990's that may or may not have been adhered to are not the issue at this time.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the 1996 handbook makes it clear that the department's co-ordinator, this is somebody in the Minister of Education's office who reports to the deputy minister, ran the show when it came to the hiring and the benefit packages received by the superintendents. It says that the co-ordinator will, "Establish and lead the superintendent selection committee." and "Review all agreements and contracts." I want to ask the Minister of Education, given this, how can you possibly say that you did not know about the sweetheart Liberal deals? How?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the co-ordinators who were appointed by the Liberal Government at that time to co-ordinate the amalgamation of the school boards were given the authority to help negotiate a package. At the same time, the same statement says the boards are fully accountable for these packages. The fact remains, if you go back on file in the department, the number of contracts on file at the department is zero, Mr. Speaker, zero.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, we know that virtually all the elected board officials were kept in the dark about these secret sweetheart deals that have wasted millions of dollars from the budget of the Department of Education. We know that the former Ministers of Education not only knew, but oversaw the whole fiasco through their political appointments. The present Minister of Education absolutely would have known about this mess. What steps is the Minister of Education taking to ensure the RCMP knows your department's role in hand-picking superintendents and senior staff, and establishing their benefits package?

[12:45 p.m.]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I repeat, no contracts of superintendents, at the time, are on file in the department. I would say, repeat again, that the information that came to me this fall was made public as soon as it possibly could be made public. In answer to one aspect of the question from the member opposite, I frankly doubt very much that any Minister of Education knew of these secret sweetheart deals, in this government or the previous government. I know one of those ministers and I highly doubt that any responsible minister of the Government of Nova Scotia would say that money destined for the classroom should go somewhere else. (Interruptions)

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

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

[Page 6568]

TOBACCO TAX: MEETING -

PREMIER'S STAFF/CHRONICLE-HERALD

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Last Wednesday a newspaper very accurately reported that there would be a tobacco tax increase. This is information that had come from only the most senior levels of government. Will the Premier aid this House and confirm, yes or no, whether a member of his staff met with an employee of The Chronicle-Herald on Wednesday, October 31st, to discuss tobacco tax increases?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the short answer is that I have no knowledge of that meeting, but it does open up an interesting question as to the roll out of the tobacco tax in Nova Scotia and, in fact, right across the country. I've talked about it actually during the election of 1999 when I indicated that a government that I would lead would not guarantee that the tobacco tax would not go up. In February of this year the federal Minister of Finance indicated very clearly that he favoured the tobacco tax going up. The interesting thing, on the day in question, the day in which later the announcement was to come out officially, government sources in Ottawa leaked the information, Government sources in P.E.I. leaked the information and, I believe, in other parts of the country. So it happened right across the country.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, what a lame duck answer from a Premier of the Province of Nova Scotia. I want to table a letter that I received from the Premier to the members of this House so they can read for themselves, but I want to point out, Mr. Premier, whether you recognize it or not, there has been a violation of members' privileges in this House tradition. I want to read out of The Chronicle-Herald. It states very specifically, it says there is a quote of government sources saying, "We're reasonably confident that late Thursday we'll be in a position to announce a $4.00 a carton increase in tobacco prices." The sources said, "We will be in a position to announce . . ."

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Premier, how many people in the government have the power to say yes or no, to give the government go-ahead on policy announcements such as tax increases for the government? To the Premier, how many members have that authority?

THE PREMIER: Unlike the previous government, this government believes in accountability and those who sit on the government front benches are the ones who speak for the government. Bearing that in mind, the member opposite fails to make a good point in that anything happened as a result of the public being informed early on by a government source that, in fact, the tax on tobacco was going to increase. It happened in Ottawa. It happened other provinces. It was a very poorly kept secret.

[Page 6569]

MR. DOWNE: I can't believe the Premier's answer. You know, there's a smoking gun in your office, Mr. Premier, and it's informing people about tax measures before it should. To the Premier, you don't seem to take this issue very seriously. It is an affront on the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia and it is an affront on members of this House. Perhaps you feel that you're above the law, Mr. Premier. Maybe you feel you're above the traditions of the House or perhaps you have just lost control of your office and lost control of your agenda.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DOWNE: My question to the Premier, can the Premier give me his word that no one from his staff played a part in the advance notice of the tobacco tax increase?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am going to table a document that was actually the subject of some public debate in the year 2000. It was interesting that it makes reference to what is going on in Ottawa. It said, "First, Martin began releasing fiscal and economic outlooks in the fall of each year, telegraphing most of the assumptions underlying the next year's federal budget. Second, the Finance Department . . .", and this is the Finance Department in Ottawa, ". . . became a well-managed sieve of budget news." Now, is the member opposite indicating that, as well, I should start an investigation of the federal Department of Finance?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

EDUC.: STRAIT REG. SCH. BD. - MIN. KNOWLEDGE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education is distancing herself from the irregularities in the Strait Regional School Board and I have to say I don't blame her one bit, but the facts speak for themselves. Her department not only knew about the original contracts, they took the lead in striking the deals. Furthermore, for the minister's education, her own Act states the department must have a representative participate in the hiring of the superintendents and the directors of education, and the department must participate in their annual review. I am sure you have spoken to the department officials who participated in the review each year. My question for the Minister of Education is, why didn't your officials tell you anything about the irregularities that have gone on for so long in the Strait Regional School Board?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for refreshing me on the Education Act. He is quite right. It is the job of the regional education officer to be involved, to be invited to the hiring committee on the hiring of a superintendent and is also invited to be part of the annual review. Nowhere in the Act does it state that the regional

[Page 6570]

education officer is involved in the negotiation of the contract, beyond the original one right after amalgamation.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I just reminded her about the contents of the Act and now I am going to remind her about the contents of the regulations. I am tabling the appropriate sections of the regulations that state that school boards must supply annual reports to the department outlining all school board salaries and expenses. She has the power she needed to detect this problem and, frankly, so did the Liberals before them. You should have had this information. You should have had it when you needed to stop this right in its tracks, right from the day that you became minister. So I want to ask, how could this possibly have gone on for so long right under your nose?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the issue here is that under the Education Act, the member is quite right. The salaries and expenses are public. There is nothing in there saying that contracts have to be public or any of these secret deals. When we discovered this in the fall, we announced it. We told the public what was going on. It is because of us that the public is finding this out.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, thanks to the massive centralization of power under the Liberal's Education Act, that Act already puts the minister's representative in the room for hiring and the annual evaluation of superintendents and directors of education at every school board. Why is the minister looking for even more power when it is blindingly obvious that she blew it by failing to use the power she now has?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I should have thought the answer to that question is quite obvious because there is nothing in the Act or regulations that requires officials of the board to report secret deals, either to their own board or to the Department of Education.

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

PREMIER'S CONFERENCE: B.C. - COSTS

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Recently the Premier and staff from the Premier's office and other departments attended the Premiers Conference in Victoria, British Columbia. Total expenses for this trip were $35,325 in tough times that the Premier keeps talking about here in Nova Scotia. A total of $35,000 was spent on this trip. The Premier surrounded himself with a contingent of staff. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South has the floor.

[Page 6571]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: My question to the Premier is this, in times of non-essential government spending and department budget cuts, how can you justify this travel expense? (Interruptions)

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

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite suggests, the government is looking at ways in which it can reduce costs. One of the ways in which we reduced the cost of that particular trip, many government officials, including elected officials, stayed over to get the cheap rate coming home Sunday. That saved approximately $2,500 per ticket. If we are going to isolate ourselves and not be represented at these national conferences, then the member opposite may be suggesting that that is so. On the other hand, I believe it's important that we participate in what those national conferences are all about and, like we have said, we will be looking at the ways in which we can do that as inexpensively as possible.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, again, my first supplementary is to the Premier. I wasn't interested in why members stayed over, I was interested in what they were doing there in the first place. The Premier's office has had 9 of 12 staff connected to his office and the Intergovernmental Affairs office out to Victoria, British Columbia. The Premier is in constant denial about problems in his office, yet he's preaching poverty everywhere he goes here in Nova Scotia. I will ask the Premier, why was it necessary for the Premier to take nine people to Victoria? (Interruptions)

THE PREMIER: The participation of the people who went to Victoria was necessary because of the kinds of discussions that were going on in Victoria. One of the interesting things is that next year Nova Scotia will be hosting the annual Premiers Conference. One of the persons who went on the trip was, in fact, there to study exactly what was done out there to make sure that we will have in place all of the elements of a good meeting in Nova Scotia next year.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that's a very interesting answer, but it is light years away from the answer to the question I asked. My final supplementary is again to the Premier. Mr. Premier, why was it necessary for you to have your chief of staff, your principal assistant, your press secretary, the Clerk of the Executive Council and your deputy minister all escort you to this conference when, in fact, you accomplished nothing while you were there? I would like to table these documents, the exact expenditures spent by this crowd at the taxpayers of Nova Scotia's expense. Why, Mr. Premier, did you consider it necessary to take all those people out to that conference?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that the size of our delegation compared to the size of delegations from almost every other province was very small. I believe that we have to be represented at that high-level conference. I believe we

[Page 6572]

need the proper support staff and I disagree wholeheartedly with the assumption or the conclusion that the member opposite has made that we didn't achieve some progress at that meeting.

[1:00 p.m.]

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

EDUC.: ASHFORD GROUP - PURCHASES

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The Ashford Group is a consortium that has developed 15 P3 schools in Nova Scotia. In May 2000, the Ashford Group asked the Department of Education to buy the equipment and furniture in 15 P3 schools instead of the normal lease process. The Department of Education agreed and paid $24.5 million for that equipment. However, I am going to table a press release from Knowledge House, who were originally the providers of that equipment, that stated that the real cost of the equipment was $17.6 million. So my question to the Minister of Education is quite simple, why did the Department of Education spend $7 million more than the fair market value for equipment and furniture they weren't even obliged to buy?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question. I will find the answer and bring it back to this House.

MR. DEVEAUX: A few months ago when the Minister of Finance issued his quarterly report, there was a clear line item noted of this very deal. I can't believe the Minister of Education has no information about why this purchase was made. The financial mismanagement continues and the children of this province are the people who are suffering because of it. The Department of Education bought the equipment instead of leasing it. If they had leased the equipment, the Department of Finance would have allowed them to write it off over 20 years. By buying it, they had to write it off over 5 years. This means that the deficit of this province, because the Department of Education bought that equipment instead of leasing it, went up $5 million a year. So, my question to the Minister of Education is, why did this minister agree to buy the equipment from Ashford instead of leasing it and forcing $5 million more onto the annual deficit of Nova Scotia? (Applause)

MISS PURVES: As I said previously, I will get the answer to that question and I will bring it back to this House.

MR. DEVEAUX: We only heard a few minutes ago that this minister was willing to answer questions about her department and its accountability with the money that it spends on education in this province. This is about more than the Strait Regional School Board; this is about this department and its ability to be accountable for how it spends the money on

[Page 6573]

children on this province and not wasting it. My question to the minister is, why did this minister waste $7 million to bail out Ashford from cost overruns?

MISS PURVES: I repeat, I will get that information and bring it back to the House. Mr. Speaker, my job here is to answer questions, not make up the answers. I will have the answers for the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

PREMIER'S CONFERENCE: DELEGATIONS - SIZE

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. All out-of-town travel must be pre-authorized and travel plans reviewed by the minister responsible prior to being approved to determine consistency with government goals. Earlier, the Premier justified a leak from his office on tobacco taxes because everyone else was doing it. Now he's saying that sending large delegations to Premiers' conferences is okay because everyone else is doing it. My question to the Premier is, how is it that sending 12 people to a Premiers' conference is consistent with his government's financial goals?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member knows full well that it's important to have the province well-represented at high-level conferences and meetings such as the one that occurred in Victoria. The member well knows as well that next year we will be the host province for that particular meeting. The size of the delegation was in part determined by those two factors. We had to be well-represented and we had to get the feedback in terms of what we will be asked to provide next year when we host the conference.

MR. SAMSON: Everyone else in this province is expected to cut back and to expect less from this government except the Premier's own staff. It seems to apply to everyone except himself. The Public Service's travel policy states that out of town travel must be approved. Premier, you were the minister responsible for all but three of the staff who attended that conference. My question is, did you pre-authorize and approve the spending of $30,000 of taxpayers' money for your staff to take a trip to Victoria, and will you produce the receipts for these expenses?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, first of all, needless to say, when people go on a delegation, that involves myself, I approve those who go. The answer to that is self-evident. Part of the challenge we face is that the previous government had a very poor record in dealing with other governments and in dealing with Ottawa. One of the commitments we made to the people of Nova Scotia was to do a better job, and part of that better job requires that we have good representation at these kinds of meetings. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 6574]

MR. SAMSON: I tell you, Mr. Speaker, if it took 12 staff for this conference to achieve the success that he has gotten from his Campaign for Fairness and his tax on softwood lumber, Lord only knows how many he is going to have to bring with him the next time, because for $30,000, I think Nova Scotians will determine for themselves what value we got for that dollar. Every other department that received the freedom of information request asking for expenses from this trip responded within the required time frame, except for the Premier's Office. My question to the Premier is, was this delay because of the fact that your own staff did not adhere to your travel policy?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I was not aware until the member opposite just said so, that he had made that request. If he wants the information and he asks me, I will provide it.

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

PREM.: DEP. MINS. - COST-EFFECTIVENESS

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. This government states its most pressing priority is to put the province's financial books in order, despite the hardships this would cause in Health, in Education, Community Services and a lot of other departments. The Education Minister has expressed concern about the financial management practices in our school boards. This government wants others to share the pain in order that they can balance the books and give a tax cut to their friends. My question is for the Premier. Will he assure Nova Scotians that he got the best deal for taxpayers when his government recruited the current Deputy Ministers of Education and Health?

THE PREMIER: Yes.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, it is well known that these deputy ministers are paid significantly more than their colleagues in other departments; this is a disturbing trend that appears to be developing and it is not limited to the school boards. It is present across government in senior positions. This government has agreed to excessive salaries and benefit packages for a chosen few. My second question is, can the Premier explain why his government is prepared to award generous employment contracts to some, while condemning the same practice by others?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, one of the difficulties in the Department of Health had been the inability of the department to retain a deputy minister for any length of time. As you know, in recent years, deputy ministers had lasted less than one year. You cannot administer a $1.8 million department if, in fact, there are going to be continual . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Billion, add some zeros.

[Page 6575]

THE PREMIER: . . . $1.8 billion, thank you, it's a big number, it's hard to comprehend. A $1.8 billion budget if, in fact, every year and, in fact, oftener than every year you are going to have a change at the top. We needed stability, and in order to get the expertise that we needed and the stability that we wanted, we had to, obviously, pay more than the going rate for other deputy ministers.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, maybe some of the school boards would be saying that exact same excuse for what they are paying their superintendents, that you are making today in this House. Front-line health care workers and other public servants who provide the services Nova Scotians need face a constant assault in the name of balancing the books. Will the Premier provide this House with the documents outlining, completely, the contracts his government has entered into with all the deputy ministers and other senior officials?

THE PREMIER: Yes, we are quite prepared, because one of the things that we have done is we have made those contracts, to which the member has referred, public as soon as they were finalized, and we will continue to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

PREMIER: CHIEF OF STAFF - AIRLINE TICKETS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Nova Scotians paid for two plane tickets for Karen Oldfield, your chief of staff, for over $3,100, to attend the Premiers Conference in Victoria. Her second ticket, at a cost of over $1,900, was purchased the same day she apparently attended a meeting in Toronto, if you follow so far. My question is, what was that meeting about, and why was it so important that your chief of staff had to reschedule her flight and had to purchase two tickets back and forth to Victoria?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will research that and provide the member opposite with the answer.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, just to inform the Premier, that ticket, the one ticket unused for his chief of staff, is sitting in his office. Mr. Premier, I am wondering, will she be getting her second free trip to B.C. because of her last-minute decision to take a side trip to Toronto, that unused ticket that sits in the Premier's office?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there may have been a question there that others understood, but I am not sure I did.

DR. SMITH: Well, when did the Premier know and did he need to know? We're talking about accountability here today, and these series of questions reflect directly on the Premier and his office and how that is functioning. My final question to the Premier is, as

[Page 6576]

he well knows, most Nova Scotians don't have the opportunity to jet to B.C., how does the Premier justify that his chief of staff can purchase two tickets for a so-called last-minute meeting? If he doesn't understand that there were two tickets purchased, he could refer to the document that was tabled by our House Leader.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I commend the member opposite. He did a better job the second time asking the question. First of all, it is commonplace at Premiers' meetings for the chief of staff to attend those meetings, so that is not unusual. I did make a commitment to the member opposite that I would look into the matter of the second ticket.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

EDUC.: STRAIT REG. SCH. BD. - DISBURSEMENTS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, we see in today's news, from the Strait Regional School Board, that some $250,000 of taxpayers' money was paid to two senior staff, Jack Sullivan and John Cameron, taxpayers' money that should have gone into the classrooms. Can the minister tell the House what these hundreds of thousands of dollars were supposed to be spent on?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I believe the member opposite answered his own question. It is quite obvious that money in the possession of the Strait Regional School Board that went to two senior officials was obviously supposed to be spent on children and it wasn't, which is the whole point of why we are talking about this and why we are doing what we are doing.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, that was a long-winded way for the Minister of Education to say she doesn't know what it was supposed to be spent on; the reality is that we know. The $250,000 was supposed to go into the classrooms, it was supposed to go into education, but instead the children of the province are going without. So I want to know, can the Minister of Education tell us exactly what it is that this money should have been spent on?

[1:15 p.m.]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, what this money should have been spent on was, among many things, it could be renovations, teachers, teacher assistants, books, any of the things that a board would normally spend money on meant for children that did not go to children. That is a very distressing situation which is why we have this investigation going on.

[Page 6577]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I believe she got it. I believe she got it. The Minister of Education finally knows what the money was supposed to be spent on so I want to ask this question. What are you going to do to get it back?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, what we will do is rely on our investigation and the RCMP investigation to see if, in fact, any of this money can be got back.

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

PREMIER: SPENDING RESTRICTIONS - UNSM SPEECH

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I recently attended the meetings of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes has the floor. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I recently attended the meetings of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities where the Premier said that he had issued orders to restrict spending. How convenient for his staff that this order came after they got their trip to B.C., of course. Can the Premier please table the specific spending restriction order he referred to in his speech at the UNSM in Sydney?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, since I wasn't pre-warned of the question, I don't have the documents in question with me, but I will be pleased to provide them to the member opposite.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the Premier could issue an order to his staff to account for their spending. One floor below us in the Howe Room, of course, all the expenses of the members of the Cabinet and their Executive Assistants are available, that is all but one. The Executive Assistant to the Premier has not submitted his expenses since July. Can the Premier tell me why his staff is above submitting their expenses?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can provide the member opposite with that information because the member opposite has a right to it.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to note that more than I should have access to that expense account. Perhaps the delay the Premier's EA had in filing his own expenses was his distraction over our freedom of information request which we

[Page 6578]

understand took up a lot of his time. Will the Premier take control of his staff and ensure that they, too, file their expenses like the other EAs?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will look after the matter to which the member referred to in the question and he will get the information.

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

NAT. RES.: PANCANADIAN - APPLICATION

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, through you I would like to address a question to the Premier. The Premier, of course, will know that PanCanadian's development plan calls for the processing of the natural gas offshore and, of course, if they get their way, it will be cheaper for PanCanadian but, of course, Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians will pay again very heavily for that. So I want to ask the Premier this question, will your government oppose PanCanadian's application to process natural gas offshore or will you simply roll over yet again to the demands of big oil?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, one of the requirements is for PanCanadian to provide business plans that look at not only offshore processing but onshore processing. So we, as can others, make an assessment as to what would be in the best interests of the people of Nova Scotia. To this point, I have not seen that analysis.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier's answer is very interesting because, of course, certainly once upon a time the Premier knew that the offshore was supposed to be developed primarily for the benefit of Nova Scotians; we were to be the primary beneficiaries. Of course, that was before the last election; the Premier knew that when he was looking for Nova Scotians' support to get elected.

Mr. Speaker, if the government isn't simply being the pawn for big oil, you will not only be looking at their assessment, but you will have asked for and obtained an independent cost-benefit analysis of offshore processing to ensure that it is in Nova Scotia's best interest. My question to the Premier is, have you had or asked for such an independent cost-benefit analysis to be done and will you table it?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite seems to be encouraging government to start doing things before any information is on the table. It is the requirement of PanCanadian to bring forward an analysis of the benefits of offshore processing, the benefits of onshore processing. Once that analysis has been achieved, has been obtained by government, then we will analyze the analysis, but until it is available it is very, very difficult to grab a cloud.

[Page 6579]

MR. HOLM: So the Premier is saying that they will analyze the analysis that was done by the proponent, big oil, but that you won't do your own; that is what you are saying, Mr. Premier.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier should know, certainly the big oil companies like PanCanadian and other companies that want to ship our gas straight by us, like elpaso, know that natural gas can be shipped to shore safely in special pipes that are of heavier gauge, that have added coatings, chemical inhibitors, and if that were done the processing can be done onshore. It would mean more jobs for Nova Scotians, it would mean more municipal taxation, et cetera, et cetera. My question to the Premier is, why do you and your government always seem to be siding with the best interests of big oil rather than with the people of Nova Scotia, who you are sworn to represent?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite continues to display a long-time weakness, and that is he can never really decide where he wants to be. What I have said is that we will look at the analysis. Now the member opposite seems to have developed over the short period of time expertise in engineering, that he is prepared to say that, in fact, you can ship sour gas onshore without huge costs. I have not seen that analysis, but if the member opposite has it, I would be very, very pleased if he would provide it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

PREMIER - STAFF TRIP (B.C.): QUEBEC PLANE - DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON: When the Premier's staff went on their $35,000 junket to British Columbia (Interruptions)

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

The honourable member for Glace Bay has the floor.

MR. WILSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When the Premier's staff went on their $35,000 junket to British Columbia, flying commercial was just not good enough for some of them. A call was made to the office of the Premier of Quebec, and you see the Province of Quebec has this very nice plane, so the Premier of Quebec was asked if Premier Hamm and some staff could bum a ride. My question to the Premier is, was this request of Premier Landry made with our without your knowledge? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 6580]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I wasn't aware that I was offered a free ride, but I can tell you that we are quite prepared, if free rides are offered, to take them because I share the member opposite's concern about the cost of going to these various conferences.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the Premier and that government have been on a free ride for over two years. The office of Premier Landry was able to confirm that he would have been most honoured to have Premier Hamm and a staff person join him but, alas, someone in the Premier's Office forgot to tell Premier Hamm of that request. I am told that the Premier refused Premier Landry's offer. Unfortunately for the Quebec Premier, two of his staff, who had been removed in order to make room for the Nova Scotians, presumably had to go and purchase commercial tickets. The Premier has attempted a campaign of sorts to try to get Canadian Premiers to support him. We all know that. Can the Premier tell me how impressed the Premier of Quebec was with a fellow Premier who can't even keep his staff in line?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of the travel arrangements that the Premier of Quebec had to go to Victoria. But in view of the questioning today, I would be interested in learning how big his entourage was, now that I have learned that it was hard to fit them into a single plane.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, we know one thing, the Premier's staff has obviously developed a taste for the finer things in life like private planes. Can the Premier confirm if the request to hitch a ride with the Parti Québécois Separatist delegation came from his Chief of Staff, Ms. Oldfield?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will find out that information and provide it to the member opposite.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - NURSING HOME:

COMFORT ALLOWANCE - REVIEW

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the Minister of Health. The Department of Health regulates the amount of money that a nursing home resident is allowed for personal use. It is called a comfort allowance by most people and it is currently set at $105 a month; small comfort to those who have to make do with this amount. Many residents use this money for clothing, for toiletries, even for telephones by their bedside, newspapers and small gifts. I want to ask the Minister of Health if he would tell us when was the amount of the personal use allowance last reviewed by his department?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, it has been reviewed within the last 12 months.

[Page 6581]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am told by his department staff that there is no set time when the comfort allowance is reviewed and in fact the amount of $105 has been set now for many years. It hasn't changed. There hasn't even been an adjustment for inflation. Now, surely, the minister doesn't think this is a fair way to treat vulnerable people under his care. I want to ask the Minister of Health if he will commit to nursing home residents to initiate an immediate review of the current PUA rates and establish a protocol for an annual review process.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will not commit to an immediate review, but the annual rate or the amount of that comfort allowance I will certainly assure the honourable member that it will be reviewed during the budgetary process, as it was last year.

[1:30 p.m.]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, if a resident does not spend all of their comfort allowance in a month, they are allowed to save it, however, they are only allowed to accumulate $315, at which point they're not allowed to qualify for any more of the comfort allowance. People who have worked hard all of their lives and contributed to society for many years are not entitled to possess any more than $315 before they are penalized by this minister and this government. I want to ask the minister, since he won't commit to doing a review, will he direct his department to stop the practice of penalizing people who are able to save a portion of this meager allowance once it is allotted?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, last spring and summer that particular issue was raised on the floor of this House on more than one occasion. At that time, I did have staff address it. Like everything else, that policy will be reviewed as part of the annual business planning process of long-term care in the Department of Health, and also, I should add, the Department of Community Services.

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

PREMIER'S CONFERENCE: B.C. - COSTS

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier, again, with reference to the August 1st to August 3rd Annual Premiers Conference held in British Columbia. The honourable member for Cape Breton South has already tabled these 56 pages of documents relating to that trip. If you want another copy, I can table it the second time. I have one here, in fact I have three. We've analyzed these 56 pages of documents and our arithmetic shows that the cost of that trip to Nova Scotian taxpayers was $35,325. It was to attend a four day conference. Some of the delegations stayed five days, others stayed a whole week to attend a four day conference. We feel that the cost of the extra days for those who stayed the whole week was $8,500, within that total. If they hadn't stayed the extra days, the

[Page 6582]

total cost would have only been $26,825. I wonder, could the Premier confirm the general nature of that arithmetic, whether it's correct or whether it's false?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, while I can't confirm the arithmetic, a partial explanation, if not the complete explanation, is that because of the unusual billing practices of Air Canada if, in fact, those who went to Victoria stayed over the Saturday night they saved almost $3,000 per ticket. With that in mind, I requested staff who were not absolutely required to return to Nova Scotia to stay until Sunday, because even paying their meals and hotel bills for the extra time, there was a very significant saving to the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, our arithmetic may or may not be correct. I am not saying that we subscribe to the new mathematics necessarily, but (Interruptions)

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

MR. MACEWAN: I hope they could be quiet so I can ask my question, please.

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

MR. MACEWAN: It cost Nova Scotian taxpayers $8,500. My question to the Premier is, is that considered an acceptable expense by he and his government considering the fact that he and his Finance Minister are telling other Nova Scotians, that is almost everybody else, that they have to grin and bear it, face the pain and take the cuts?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, for the member opposite and for the members of the House, there was a very considerable saving by having members stay over until Sunday morning. In fact, the saving per individual was very substantial. With that in mind, that is why we requested members of the delegation to stay until Sunday morning, because we were in a considerable amount of money due to the reduction in the airfare by staying over Saturday night.

MR. MACEWAN: I heard that some of the delegates were seeking to or sought to travel on Air Parti Québécois, but let that be. I would like to ask the Premier as my final supplementary, could he indicate to us just how much pain he and his delegation endured during their one week trip to British Columbia? Tell us about the pain, sir.

[Page 6583]

THE PREMIER: One of the commitments that we have made as government is to do a better job in dealing with other governments and I believe that we have started down the road to do that. But also, in defence of those who are not here to defend themselves, the people who work for this government work hard. They are dedicated. They have the interests of Nova Scotians at heart and for you to suggest otherwise I think is offensive.

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

HEALTH: COBEQUID MULTI-SERVICE CTR. - REPLACEMENT

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, through you a question to the Minister of Health. I would like to make a statement as really the intro to my question and that is that the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre concept, if properly housed and resourced as a model for the cost-efficient delivery of health and social services, the government itself has recognized that the current Cobequid facility is badly overstressed, overcrowded and inadequate to meet current, let alone future, demands placed upon it by the rapidly growing community that it serves. The government knows that the facility desperately needs to be replaced and my question to the minister is, does the minister agree with that statement or, if not, which parts does he take exception to?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, certainly my department and myself recognize the value that the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre provides to the residents, not only in the Bedford-Sackville area, but also down as far as Hants County and out in the corridor. Indeed, we've looked at that model as one we might like to emulate in other places.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I didn't hear the minister disagreeing with anything that I had said. The government says that it is still committed to the Cobequid project and that all it is doing is deferring from the books this year monies that couldn't be expended in any event. If the project is going to move ahead, what we have to have is a request for proposals for the design work. If the request for proposals goes out, there will be no expenditure of public monies this fiscal year. It would enable the request for the design work proposals to go out, the design work to begin, and defer any payments for that until the next fiscal year, yet it would allow that project to proceed on schedule.

So my question to the minister is, are you and is your government prepared to allow the request for proposals to go out as soon as they are ready so that the project can continue to proceed on schedule?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member is aware, there is still between $400,000 and $500,000 that was committed to that project and is available for this year. If the group that is going to do that would go ahead, and I assume that if they wish to spend it on design rather than site preparation, it would be up to them.

[Page 6584]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister and the Premier and members of those benches know full well that the foundation is about to embark on a major fundraising campaign. If this government isn't prepared to send a solid message that they are behind this project, that places that fundraising effort in jeopardy.

Mr. Speaker, I haven't asked the minister to spend one more red cent this year. Will you agree to allow that call for proposals to go out this fiscal year, yes or no?

MR. MUIR: I know it would probably be foreign to that member and some of his colleagues, but we try to do things in an orderly way in the Department of Health these days. There will be an orderly planning process that is going to accompany the eventual construction of the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre. There is approximately $500,000 this year and I would suggest - and the honourable member and I had this conversation the other day. I think they should go ahead with the massive fundraising campaign. I think that's a good thing. It's like other areas have done in this province too. You get the money together and then you're ready to go as soon as the appropriate ones are there.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired. I have two requests for introductions. The first one is from the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Among our guests today in the gallery, we have a couple of young people from Ridgecliff Middle School, one of the schools in my growing community. They are here - one is job shadowing me. I would like first of all to introduce, and I would ask her to stand, Shauna Krasuski, who is job shadowing her uncle, Jim Vibert. I would like to introduce Caroline Cox, who is here job shadowing her MLA. Welcome to the people's House. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have an opportunity to introduce to the House a number of students who are here today observing Question Period from the Flexible Learning and Education Centre, the political science class of that centre of the Halifax Regional School Board located at St. Pat's-Alexandra in north-end Halifax. This is the Grade 12 class. There are 18 students here today with us, accompanied by their teacher, Sandy MacDougall, and I would invite them to rise and receive a warm welcome from members of the House. (Applause)

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

[Page 6585]

The honourable Government House Leader.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 29.

Bill No. 29 - Elections Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West adjourned the debate, but he sent me a note that he is unable to be here, so is there another speaker?

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I will make an attempt on the principle of Bill No. 69 and I want to speak on the principle of Bill No. 69 from a disabled person's perspective. Bill No. 29 is the bill I am talking about, an Act to Amend Chapter 140 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Elections Act.

I want to speak about this bill from a disabled perspective. I want to talk about the timing of elections. It's significantly important that one recognize that many disabled people within this province do not have the opportunity to participate in an election campaign. Most often they don't have the opportuntiy to become candidates. The reason for that is often governments call elections at a time when it's convenient for government and those elections might very well be in a time and season which makes it extremely difficult for disabled persons to participate as candidates in the election campaign, particularly the winter season.

I remember the election of February 1998, which was held during the winter months. It made it extremely difficult for individuals who are disabled to run as candidates and actually get out there and see the constituents. In fact, they made the attempt to, or offered themselves for services as candidates for political Parties. It's something that quite frequently government doesn't take into consideration when calling the time of the election.

[Page 6586]

[1:45 p.m.]

Also, the length of the election is significantly important as well. We do know that the government and the Minister of Justice has suggested that the time be limited with respect to the length of the election campaign from 36 days to 30 days. This is significant in the eyes of a disabled person, as well, I should say because a disabled person cannot see every member of the constituency during that time. Most people who are going out there to cast their ballot want to at least see the candidate at their doorstep when in fact an election is called. Quite frequently, disabled people cannot get the opportunity to see all the constituents that may be in that constituency. So, therefore, there are other factors that have to be considered. There has to be the consideration of special meetings, special costs with respect to the rental of facilities and so on.

So, Mr. Speaker, I am wondering just how much thought has been given or consideration has been given to persons with disabilities, the visually impaired, the deaf and hard of hearing. I do know that the deaf and hard of hearing have made an application to the Human Rights Commission for all political Parties to take into consideration their particular concerns. The particular concern that they brought to our attention, and I know that they brought to all political Parties in the Province of Nova Scotia's attention, was closed-caption hearing. As we know, closed-caption hearing is extremely costly. It is one of those cost factors that is built into the end of the election campaign. So I am wondering if the minister has given any thought or consideration to amending parts of that section of the Elections Act that deals with the expenditures of candidates, so that there can be an additional expenditure allowance given to individuals who are disabled to run campaigns in the Province of Nova Scotia?

I think that one has to recognize that in our population, somewhere around about 21 per cent of Nova Scotians are disabled individuals. Now, of course, there are varying degrees of disabilities. But, Mr. Speaker, one has to recognize that each and every one of those are not fully represented in this Legislature, nor does it represent the populations out there of disabled persons. So there is, maybe, a very good reason for the number of individuals who are disabled who don't run for public office. The concern is the time of elections, number one; the length of elections, number two; and the cost of election campaigns, number three. There is significantly more cost, as I have indicated earlier, that are reflective of persons with disabilities in order for them to be participants in the electoral process.

I think that governments recognize that and governments never intend to isolate individuals to be a part of a democratic process. But I think that when we look at the Elections Act, I would hope that the minister will in fact, or when it goes to the Law Amendments Committee, that in fact members of the Law Amendments Committee will recognize that there ought to be special preferences placed within the Elections Act to address those particular issues. I didn't come here to speak a long time on this particular bill,

[Page 6587]

Bill No. 29, but what I did want to do is impress upon this Legislative Assembly the fact that disadvantaged individuals out there do not have the same opportunities to participate in a democratic process and run for public office. I have experienced that, Mr. Speaker, over the years and I have been involved in a number of campaigns. So I know from where I speak on this particular issue of just how difficult it is for those individuals.

There is also the cost of Braille and Braille printed material for people who are visually impaired. There is not one representative in this Legislative Assembly of visually impaired individuals, but yet Nova Scotia has a high population of visually impaired individuals. I would say to you, Mr. Speaker, there is another additional cost that cannot be borne by the standard formula set out with respect to campaign and election expenses. In those areas there has to be some review within the Elections Act. I am sure that the government will make note of those particular concerns that I bring to their attention today, and that, in fact, government will try to craft legislation in such a way that it does address those particular issues, some of them which have been brought to my attention as well.

There is also another issue of concern that I think we somehow take for granted, but yet people would like to participate in, and that's in public housing units. There are a number of individuals in public housing units who have advised me, and I have not looked through the legislation, but many of them tell me they are unable to participate in the election campaigns and they are unable to put election signs or campaign candidate signs on their properties or within their windows of publicly-owned units. I think we develop public housing so that we can give people quality shelter and living, we don't develop public housing to prevent people from being a part of the democratic process and being actively involved in election campaigns.

Mr. Speaker, I think that is another area we need to look at. Maybe there can be an amendment to Clause 39 of this bill with respect to displaying election and advertising posters in public housing units. I think that is significant, I think it's important, and people in public housing units feel somewhat intimidated now when they do place a sign only to get a call later on saying they ought to be non-political and non-partisan. If we are going to allow candidates and/or their canvassers and/or their agents access to apartment units and to condominiums and townhouses, then surely we would recognize that the people in public housing have the same right and the same access to be a part of this process.

Mr. Speaker and members of the Legislature, with that in mind, I would hope that the government, when it takes this bill before the Law Amendments Committee, will recognize some of the concerns that I have brought before the House on this particular issue. With that in mind, I am going to relinquish my spot on the floor on Bill No. 29. Hopefully the government, once again, will heed the advice.

[Page 6588]

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Justice it will be to close debate on Bill No. 29.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and close debate on second reading of this bill. I am not going to try to address all of the concerns that have been raised by honourable members opposite, but I will try to address a number of those concerns. The last one, first, is the honourable member for Dartmouth North, who just spoke, who raised the concern about putting up signs in public housing units. My understanding is those are apartments like any other apartment building, and that the intention is that people who are in apartment buildings are going to have the right to put up a sign in their rooms, like any other apartment unit dweller, in their room. Obviously common areas in all buildings would not be covered, but that's fine. (Interruptions) Public housing. Well, before that it was within the power of any landlord, under the old law, to prohibit signs in the building. The new legislation quite clearly is intended to prevent landlords from prohibiting their tenants from affecting their right to put up signs. Those are tenants in buildings.

Frankly, Mr. Speaker, I don't think an amendment is necessary, because what they are referring to is the past, where the landlord, which was the Housing Authority, could prohibit that. Under the new rules, the landlord, the Housing Authority or any other landlord, cannot prohibit the erection of signs by the tenants. I think we all agree on that. That is like campaigning in apartment buildings. I don't care if that apartment building is owned by the Housing Authority or by a private landowner, it's an apartment building and they have a right to canvass. I agree that members of all political Parties have, from time to time, been prevented from having access to voters in an election campaign. So I think that frankly we're ad idem on that factor.

Now, a number of other issues have been raised, in no particular order, the issue of British subjects and whether the Election Commission supported removing the franchise from them, the answer was yes. That would have been raised by one member. I think it may have been the honourable Leader of the Opposition. The permanent voter's list, the provision only enables the use of a permanent voter's list. The bill does not create a permanent voter's list. The provision in this bill, I understand, is supported by the Election Commission and frankly (Interruption)

There are other issues in here, for example, voting by judges. My understanding is that was recommended by the justices themselves. There are the issues, for example, of accessibility. I think those issues are quite clear. The Chief Electoral Officer is empowered to deal with those kinds of issues. So without going on to the complete shopping list of issues, I will try to close the debate by saying that I am prepared to discuss with honourable members the bill as it proceeds through the Law Amendments Committee process. This bill,

[Page 6589]

I believe, is a very good bill and my understanding is that the bill is supported by the Election Commission.

Mr. Speaker, with that I close debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 29. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 71.

Bill No. 71 - Izaak Walton Killam Health Centre Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to stand here this afternoon to begin the debate on second reading of Bill No. 71 which is an Act to amend the Izaak Walton Killam Act. In September 1999, the IWK's partnership with the Salvation Army came to an end after four years. That partnership had actually begun in 1993 and had been formalized in 1995.

The history of these organizations, each of them extends much further in the past than 1995. Indeed, both the Izaak Walton Killam Health Centre and the Salvation Army helped to build the health care in Nova Scotia. The Salvation Army was an active member of our health care system for almost 100 years. It began, Mr. Speaker, with the opening of a home for unmarried mothers in 1906. The Grace Maternity Hospital was established in 1922 and two of my children were born in the Grace Maternity Hospital. In 1993 a new building was constructed and the IWK and the Grace were physically located on basically the same campus and in the same building and a formal partnership with the IWK was established in 1995 and, indeed, the IWK Health Centre came into being in that year.

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that the Salvation Army has worked to make the lives of Nova Scotians better in many ways, including its service to women and to maternity. The Salvation Army has been a loving and caring member in its partnership with the IWK and it helped the IWK staff to make the quality of life of its staff and, of course, that of the patients better. While the mission of the Salvation Army remains strong, and that is to

[Page 6590]

alleviate human suffering and distress without discrimination, as an organization nationally it has made a decision to change its role in health across our country.

[2:00 p..m.]

Mr. Speaker, in keeping with the wishes of the Salvation Army, the IWK agreed to cease using the name 'Grace' in the health centre's official title and has asked this body to give its blessing in order to maintain this commitment. The IWK began as the Halifax Children's Hospital and it opened its doors in 1909.

AN HON. MEMBER: I wasn't born then.

MR. MUIR: Your hair would give you away. It wasn't until 1965 that the hospital was renamed the Izaak Walton Killam Hospital for Children in honour of Izaak and Dorothy Killam. Upon Mr. Killam's death in 1955, the estate of Mr. Killam bequeathed monies to the then Halifax Children's Hospital for the purpose of creating a new building. Mrs. Killam ensured that the hospital was taken care of, and after her passing another donation was made for the new building. So, Mr. Speaker, in 1970, thanks to the wonderful generosity of Izaak and Dorothy Killam, the new structure was erected and the IWK Hospital for Children was born.

There was almost a century of health care wrapped up in the IWK. For almost 100 years, this health centre worked to help build the health care system in Nova Scotia, opening its doors to those in pain, offering caring and support. The IWK is a health centre for women, children and youth and offered top-notch medical services to some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Like the Salvation Army, the IWK had a history steeped in helping others for the betterment of society.

I might add, Mr. Speaker, that my two grandchildren were born in the IWK-Grace Health Centre. Upon learning that a name change was required, the IWK received tremendous support from outside and inside the organization to choose a name that was familiar with the honoured IWK's long commitment to health and well-being of children, youth and women and was reflective of the high quality health care offered by that institution. With this in mind, the IWK Health Centre was proposed as the new name for the organization.

Mr. Speaker, I believe this is an appropriate choice. It conveys both the history of this wonderful health centre and the future that lies before it. The IWK has a renewed vision and should have a name that addresses its new future. The IWK Health Centre conveys this message. In the last year, we began a massive campaign to restructure the health care system here in Nova Scotia. We have asked hospitals to expand or decrease their areas of service

[Page 6591]

based on this new model. We have asked all to commit to changing the system, making it better for Nova Scotians, and the IWK is no exception.

The IWK is a provincial health centre, but it also serves women, children and youth from across the Maritimes. In the last year, the IWK renewed its Maritime health centre commitment and dedication to improving the lives of children, youth, women and their families in keeping with the new direction of our health care system. The brand of caring offered at the IWK is unique, and the commitment made by all staff members to patients is unparallel. Often, in dealing with the very sick and severely injured children, the staff of the IWK offer a service over and above that normally seen in most other institutions, not just by fixing their sometimes broken limbs, but by offering some of them the most important medicine of all: which is love, caring and understanding.

This health centre is recognized throughout Canada as a haven for the sick and injured in our society as a place where children, youth, women and their families are welcomed in their time of greatest need, where they are taken care of like family. It's my hope that the newly named IWK Health Centre will continue with this long tradition and offer the same high-quality health care and support they have always offered to families for the next 100 years at least.

Mr. Speaker, I ask that this body, without hesitation, officially recognize the change of name from the IWK Health Centre for Children, Women and Families to the IWK Health Centre, as requested by the health centre and myself. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for what was a very interesting and detailed account of the history of the Salvation Army Maternity Care Hospital here in Halifax and the origins of the IWK Children's Hospital, which today we will be looking at a transformation. One chapter closes and another I guess opens with the introduction of this bill and the change which is more than a change of name, it's actually a name change that reflects a substantial change in the delivery of health care for infants, children, youth and women from the Atlantic Region.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the NDP caucus, we are certainly fully in support of this bill and the changes that are reflected in this bill. I would say that we, too, join with the minister in wishing the IWK Health Centre, as it will be known upon passage of this bill, every success in the future of providing the high-quality health care services that they are known for throughout the Atlantic Region. We look forward, here in the Legislature, to advocating for, on behalf of health care services, on behalf of the staff who are a very dedicated staff, the volunteers and the board members, whose dedication to this facility and to the mandate of this facility is well known across the region, even in the face sometimes, of disorganized

[Page 6592]

governments that have agendas that are more political or fiscal than necessarily human or humanitarian. We think this centre, the staff, the volunteers, and the patients of this centre deserve support from this Legislature. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to rise and speak on behalf of our Liberal caucus in support of Bill No. 7, an Act to Amend Chapter 26 of the Acts of 1996, the Izaak Walton Killam-Grace Health Centre Act. As others have addressed the Assembly and informed the Assembly of the change of name to the Izaak Walton Killam Health Centre, it would more reflect their initiative, particularly in the area of services to youth.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health mentioned the long history of that institution growing out of the Children's Hospital in 1909 and various changes that have reflected the changing role of that hospital as they address the needs of children and families particularly, and later adding the gynecological services to women in the broad sense of women's wellness, pap smear programs, those types of initiatives in that broad range. I would like to acknowledge and thank particularly Miss Sarah Dennis, Chair of the IWK Health Centre Board of Directors, and also Mr. Rick Nurse, who is the administrator of that institution, for their correspondence seeking our support on this important name change. I have relayed my information to Mr. Nurse that we will be supporting this bill and will acknowledge also from the chairman.

It is that board, Mr. Speaker, of that institution that is the only free-standing institution of that nature in this area and it is, in fact, a Maritime and even an Atlantic Canada institution of health care that that board has traditionally been an extremely strong board. Their foundation has been particularly strong, as well, innovative and committed to the well-being, particularly of children, but children, adolescents, youth and their families.

I could go on, Mr. Speaker. When I first started my family practice in 1964, I visited the Children's Hospital daily and have seen it grow. But I can't help thinking back to physicians such as Barrie Coward. Dr. Coward, while suffering from very severe insulin- dependent diabetes, was a leader in that area of care for children with diabetes, particularly, and lived to be a ripe old age, actually, and had a very productive life. Although suffering a disability himself, he never let that stand in the way. In fact, he used that as an in with families to help children suffering from diabetes and related illnesses.

I think of during the years, Mr. Speaker, of that institution with surgeons like Dr. Alex Gillis and others who were innovative in approaching congenital heart disease and surgery that they did in those areas and really were leaders in that field. In those days, there was formal training, but a lot of the discoveries and the changes that were taking place, particularly in congenital heart disease, one had to be innovative and change the procedures

[Page 6593]

to what they found at the time of operation because they didn't have the benefit, in those days, of the technology that we have at this time.

So, Mr. Speaker, while speaking in support of this name change, I want to pay tribute to the more inclusive initiative of youth. Going back through the 1960's and 1970's, when a lot of youth health challenges became better known and received much media attention, I think society in general didn't quite know what to do with these adolescents and youth who were out of control. At the Children's Hospital and later, at the IWK-Grace, they also had to adapt and learn new programs. The strength of that institution has been the team approach and the fine teams that they have put together that have addressed the needs of those they serve.

Particularly, we are looking at the blockage of access into our health care system. If you look at that, the model that has been used at the IWK-Grace and now the IWK Health Centre, they had long ago developed and put very efficient teams in place and that, of course, is what is lacking in our primary care today, a lack of a team approach to primary care and we are seeing a blockage of access into our health care system. This institution, Mr. Speaker, had addressed that issue a long time ago, particularly with persons who lived away from the centre, in Yarmouth and Sydney and other areas, who came with children with disabilities and other chronic illnesses. They were the flagship that really put the teams together to address not only the needs of the patient, the child or the adolescent, but that of the family as well. They were leaders in the Care by Parent Unit, where parents would stay with their children and also where volunteers were brought in to coddle the infants, particularly the small infants in intensive care, particularly where the parents were quite a distance away.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention Dr. Terry Gillespie and the team that he put together for the treatment of cystic fibrosis. We've had a very strong volunteer group that has addressed this particular illness and there is no question in my mind that the cystic fibrosis team under Dr. Terry Gillespie was one of the best teams in North America. It has received that recognition, it is not just my opinion, but that of many others. So I think to have that grow out of a program here and a team approach to an illness such as cystic fibrosis, that with the volunteer support, the support of the board, but also the putting together of an initiative of a physician such as Dr. Gillespie; those are things that I remember and think about when I think of the IWK Health Centre.

[2:15 p.m.]

I just attended, a couple of weeks ago, a national forum conference that was held in that institution with accident prevention and that institution has been a leader, and that's why I call on the government to watch what that institution is supporting in the use of helmets, particularly now with scooters and rollerblades and those other initiatives, because those types of injuries don't go away and it puts the burden on that institution to see those families

[Page 6594]

and those children who suffer early brain damage. That isn't something that gets better next week or next year, Mr. Speaker, and those are the long-term impacts, and that's what government can do to assist an institution such as the IWK Health Centre. It has been a centre of excellence with academic training. I am speaking largely of the clinical excellence that they have delivered care, but also one of academic learning and of research.

I just want to close by also saying, the initiatives within mental health, the issue here, and I think there's no other issue that's any stronger in need than that of mental health relative to youth. I think that's important that youth are enclosed in that particular goal of those who are served by the institution. The issues of autism, I have a file here on my desk that one of our caucus members, the member for Cape Breton The Lakes, has brought forward. A family in his own home area has a child who is suffering from autism and all the multiple challenges they face. Well, there is a chair now in autism, and there are specialists there available to that and we must support them in these initiatives.

Volunteers such as Barb and Darrel Haley, who have been leaders in the better services for mental health, and I refer to receiving the IWK Health Centre's strategic plan 2001-2005. I take the liberty of mentioning these people's names because on the back page their name is mentioned and all the great things that they have done personally in support of mental health programs that are centred and resourced in the Izaak Walton Killam Health Centre.

I will close my comments, Mr. Speaker, but I did want to use this opportunity to pay tribute to the board, the volunteers, the staff and those persons who many have followed that journey over the years from the Children's Hospital through the IWK-Grace and now another name change, and I think adapting to the time. I have always felt that youth must have services that are clearly spelled out. They have access in a time that many of them are sort of separating from their own family, and it needs to be user friendly. I don't think as a society we've always had those services and I really want to commend the IWK Health Centre for their expansion and clearly spelling out their initiative for youth, particularly in the area of mental health services. We will be supporting this bill in the name change as indicated by Bill No. 71.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I hadn't intended on speaking on this and I will just speak for a few moments, only to speak in support of this particular piece of legislation as my colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, has stated. I wanted to make note of some of the very conscious and diligent work that has been done by some of the staff at the IWK. I don't usually like to make reference to some personal experiences, but I know our family has enjoyed the benefits of some of the expertise and the hard work and the tremendous amount of professional service that has been provided by the staff at the IWK.

[Page 6595]

I know, on a previous day, that we had a family member who suffered from extreme burns and had to go to the burn unit of the IWK, a young girl from our family, 10 years of age, and had to receive a considerable amount of support and medical care for several months. I have nothing to say other than that the staff and the support staff and the volunteers at the IWK, the doctors, the nurses have done an absolutely superb job and continue to do so because I know, as an MLA visiting constituents, they themselves have attended a great service to a lot of other individuals.

As well, another young member of our family, who unfortunately passed away at the early age of eight years, had received treatment at the IWK for over a four year period. I can say that they not only treat the young people at this facility with some of the best high-quality medical attention and service second to none anywhere in North America, if not the world, but also it is the personal attention and the way they really pay attention to the emotional needs of a lot of the young people that need that emotional support when they are away from home and the way they support the families, as well.

So, on that note, Mr. Speaker, I wanted to rise in support of the legislation. It is somewhat of a housekeeping measure, but it gives all members an opportunity to expound upon the good work that has been done at the IWK and continues to be done and I know will be done in years to come, despite some of the tough decisions that they have to make, not only through budgetary measures, but also meeting challenges in terms of increased demand for their service and so on and so forth. So with that, I take my place in support of this particular piece of legislation. Thank you.

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

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise again and to close debate on an Act to Amend Chapter 26 of the Acts of 1996, the Izaak Walton Killam Health Centre Act. I appreciate the helpful interventions and positive statements made by the member for Halifax Needham, the member for Dartmouth East and the member for Cape Breton West. I think we all know that the IWK has a long history of exceptional service, particularly to children, and in combination in recent years with the Grace Maternity Hospital to women, and then its expanding role for youth. With those few comments, I am pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 71.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 71. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 6596]

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 72.

Bill No. 72 - Electronic Evidence Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to second reading of this legislation. This is the third piece of legislation introduced this session which is part of the National Commercial Law Strategy. This strategy is designed to modernize and harmonize commercial law in Canada. With a standardized legislative framework in place, we can make it easier to do business in this country.

That is the case with this legislation as well. The Electronic Evidence Act sets out rules dealing with electronic data. When one considers just how we use electronic data, I would suggest that this legislation is very timely. This Act sets out rules which will apply to data recorded or stored in a computer system.

This Act will help businesses to decide how to produce and keep records, as they will have a better understanding of how their legal rights will be affected by storage of information. Today's work practices mean that many records are produced using a computer. This Act sets out rules for those records which are produced or stored in a computer and are readable only with the help of a computer.

If a person wishes to introduce electronic evidence into a legal proceeding, they must prove the authenticity of the record. This Act does not modify any common law or statutory rule relating to the admissibility of records except those relating to authentication and best evidence. The integrity of electronic records can be verified by examining the physical and electronic access controls, the security features, as well as retention and destruction schedules used with that system.

This legislation is already in place in several other jurisdictions. This Act has been included as part of electronic commercial legislation by the federal government and the Provinces of Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. This Act in its entirety has been adopted by Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan and the Yukon. That is why we feel it is so important that Nova Scotia follows suit. Uniform commercial legislation is good for business and it's good for our economy.

[Page 6597]

It is our intention to further consult regarding this legislation. We will be providing ample time in the process for input from the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society and the Canadian Barristers' Association and, of course, record management. We encourage and look forward to any additional input regarding the legislation which may be made as part of the Law Amendments Committee process. We are committed to fulfilling our requirements under the uniform law strategy. It is a strategy first adopted by the Ministers of Justice from across the country in December 1999 at the first Justice Ministers meeting I attended. Strategy was adopted by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada after consultation with representatives of government, business and law reform organizations. I look forward to the further debate and discussion regarding this Act and to working with my colleagues as the bill progresses through the House. Thank you.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I just want to take a few minutes to put on the record some comments as the Justice Critic for my caucus, Bill No. 72, An Act Respecting Electronic Evidence.

It's been interesting. I guess I presumed that in the past 10, 15, 20 years that computers have been around and active in businesses, there must have been some common law rules that had been set up around record keeping and the admission of records. I find it interesting that now we're coming forward with legislation when this is something that has been going on as a part of everyday business for a long period of time. That's not a negative comment, it's not a positive comment, it's just more an observation as to why now we're coming forward with harmonized legislation when this is something that's been going on for a while.

The one comment I do have - it's a question and maybe the staff of the Department of Justice is able to address at some point, I see in one of the sections it talks about recognition of the integrity of the records. It talks about evidence that can be provided that at no material time did the computer get, I presume, hacked, or somehow the records were altered. I am not a computer scientist so I can't say whether that's something that can actually be proven in a court of law, but it's a question I have as to how do you know when someone hacks into a computer? How do you know if records have been changed? Is there an ability to identify that or not, and I guess that's a question I have as well around this particular Act.

Otherwise, it's a fairly straightforward Act that harmonizes legislation, talks about the need to - and I agree there is a need to have rules in place around electronic evidence. I would be curious if the courts haven't already set up their own common law rules. Is the Statute just codifying those rules or is this an opportunity to change what the courts have already begun to recognize? Is this something the courts have already requested?

[Page 6598]

These are all questions I have. I hope, as the minister stated, there will be time to consult, to get information, to get input from stakeholders, whether it be the Barristers' Society or those involved in record keeping or even the business community generally. I think it's important that we do hear from them as to whether this is something that is changing and altering, but they already have built as a practice based on the common law and based on what the courts have already addressed. with regard to business records on computers, electronic business records, whether this is codifying it.

[2:30 p.m.]

I look forward to the debate. I look forward to an opportunity to discuss this further. As I said, our Party will be supporting it in principle, I would hope there is an opportunity through the Law Amendments Committee and other ways to hear from those who are directly impacted by this to see what, if anything, they may have with regard to concerns.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today as the Justice Critic for the Liberal caucus to make a few comments on Bill No. 72, the Electronic Evidence Act. Like the Liens and Enforcement of Canadian Judgment and Decrees Act, which was discussed last week, this bill is another piece of model legislation developed by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada.

This particular bill aims to modernize the rules of evidence in our province by setting out the legal rules for the use of electronic evidence. In doing so, this legislation merely addresses some of the issues which our courts have been struggling with in the past few years. The introduction and spread of computer technology throughout our modern world has created many challenges for our legal system. Many of our laws, particularly the laws related to evidence, only contemplated the existence of paper records. However, when necessary, electronic records have been admitted into litigation. In doing so, courts across our province and this country have struggled in applying traditional rules of evidence, and have sometimes produced inconsistent results.

On the other hand, computer record managers and their legal advisers have expressed concerns that modern data systems might not produce records that would be acceptable for use in court. As a response, some jurisdictions attempted to address the issue of electronic evidence on their own, but without consultation with other jurisdictions. The result of this trend would be that businesses which are active in more than one province might have to keep records differently to satisfy different requirements.

[Page 6599]

The value of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada Model Act is that it not only modernizes and clarifies the law but it also seeks to harmonize the law across the country to the greatest degree possible. This bill will provide lawyers, their clients and the courts with more guidance and certainty about the admissibility of electronic evidence by setting out rules for authentication and for satisfying the "best evidence rule". It will also provide more consistent and easier-to-understand standards for those who keep legally significant records in electronic form.

This legislation recognizes that the standards of computer system integrity will change over time and as a result it does not attempt to legislate minimum standards. This bill is also an important step forward in removing outdated barriers to electronic commerce. Passage of this bill will be a positive measure to reflect the reality that is already going on in our legal system today.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that it has the support of the Liberal caucus, going into the Law Amendments Committee. We look forward to hearing any public presentations that there may be on this bill and any suggested amendments which might come forward, which I am sure the Minister of Justice will be open to entertaining. With that, I will take my place and again commend the minister for bringing forward this important legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Justice, I would like to close debate on Bill No. 72. The comments that have been made by the other caucuses, we have made notes of those. I am sure the minister will look forward to the debate in the Law Amendments Committee. With that, I move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 72. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 73.

Bill No. 73 - Agriculture and Marketing Act.

[Page 6600]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak about Bill No. 73, the Agriculture and Marketing Act. I would like to share the highlights of the changes proposed in this bill, and from these points you will recognize the importance of supporting this action.

Mr. Speaker, the proposed changes would address some minor housekeeping items such as replacing references of Agriculture and Marketing to the current department name of Agriculture and Fisheries, as well as amending the definition sections with new and revised definitions. There are also a few more substantial amendments proposed as well. Bill No. 73 repeals three outdated sections regarding livestock breeding, including the Artificial Insemination Board. The activities of the board are no longer carried out and are handled under federal regulations and so we are confident that the agriculture community will not feel the absence of this board.

This bill also replaces the livestock breeding items from this section. That gives the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries the flexibility and the authority to address unforseen issues in the livestock industry. With approval of Governor in Council, the minister may make regulations for the improvement of the livestock industry, including breeding, production, facility standards, testing methods, inspection and tracking. The prevention and control of the apple maggot section will be updated, as well, Mr. Speaker. This includes repealing the Apple Maggot Control Board with the provision that inspection, control and enforcement will be conducted by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Inspection for apple maggot is part of certification for export, so this continues to be an important pest management control. The board was created in the 1930's as an advisory directing body, yet the operation of the board has since become quite routine. Industry groups recognize the need for the inspection, however support the elimination of the formal board structure. I believe that repealing the Apple Maggot Control Board modernizes and streamlines the administration and inspection of this program.

Eliminating two boards is in line with the government's commitment to reducing agencies, boards and commissions, Mr. Speaker. In preparation for these changes, the department consulted various industry groups to ensure that our legislation would continue to support the needs of the Nova Scotia producers. As well, you will realize changes from the current Act promote modern practices and processes for a core function in delivering service to the agriculture sector, eliminates sections of the Act which are redundant, that are no longer the work of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, yet still meet the expectation and the interest of Nova Scotians.

So, Mr. Speaker, I thank you and I move second reading of Bill No. 73.

[Page 6601]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to speak for a minute on this bill. I certainly have to say that we won't oppose the minister when it comes to decreasing the number of boards. I think we criticized the minister when one of the first pieces of legislation after the government came into power was around the Right to Farm legislation and the government created another board. I think we jumped on them hard enough because it was obvious that this went totally against what the government had promised that they would do in the 1999 election campaign. So, in this case of eliminating the board, I think that I would agree with the minister that if the responsibilities of the board are taken up within the department and the industry seems to be pleased with that, then I would say that this Opposition Party is not going to argue with that. As long as the functions are still carried out as far as inspection and the quality of the product is ensured, I think that we wouldn't have a problem with that.

I have to say that certainly it makes sense to be doing the housekeeping items as far as changing those clauses that would refer to Agriculture and Marketing to Agriculture and Fisheries, since that is the department we now talk about, and I want to say to the minister that I did try to find the scrub bull Act and the Artificial Insemination Act, all to no avail. I am always leery of how much bull is in any piece of legislation, so I will still be pursuing that information. But if the minister certainly seems to be able to ensure that those are antiquated pieces of legislation and that moving forward is the appropriate way and in doing so is to eliminate those pieces of legislation, I would say that I would support the minister in that.

Certainly those Acts don't seem to be ones that farmers are calling me up about and saying, please keep those in place. As long as the livestock industry is served by the minister and the department, I would have no problem. So with that, I think I can tell the minister that we would be supporting this piece of legislation as it goes on and, unless some flag is raised on any item, I would give the minister that assurance.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand in this House as well to speak on this bill that the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries has brought forward. To begin with, the Liberal caucus will be supporting this bill going forward and I want to say that streamlining processes are always important; limited dollars are available to each and every one of us. We understand that, and I understand all too well the need to make sure that we tighten up wherever possible. I know that the minister is always trying to tighten up. Sometimes maybe he has tightened up a little too tight on some things, when he has to shut down part of the department there, but I think they're coming back one by one and that's good. That's good and I compliment you for that.

[Page 6602]

It is interesting, the Apple Maggot Board, I remember when we were reviewing different things when we were in government, one of the issues that came up was the Apple Maggot Board. At first blush, people sometimes will laugh at that, kind of have a smirk on their face, Mr. Speaker, about the term Apple Maggot Board. They wonder, well, what could this possibly be, but when that board and that Act was brought in, that was an extremely important board established for the principles of export. Apples in the Annapolis Valley, apples in the South Shore, apples throughout the Province of Nova Scotia, apples were a major commodity for export and they needed to have that so-called phytosanitary inspection process established so that we could export. So there's a great history in the development and the introduction and the continuance of the Apple Maggot Board. So the fundamental principles of why that board was established were there for economic prosperity and opportunity for not only the farm community, but throughout all of Nova Scotia, and especially the Valley.

One of the concerns I immediately had when reviewing the bill was whether or not the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association was in favour. I asked the question were they consulted. They were consulted and they were discussed. I give credit where credit is due. I try as hard as I can, not to be partisan on this issue. The minister did consult with them. The minister did meet with them and I understand that the conversation was fairly straight about streamlining. I understand that the minister made commitments to the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association, the undertakings for which inspection services will be done and that the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association will be consulted and discussions will be forthcoming with regard to dealing with the issue of export and making sure some country will use as a trade sanction against the Province of Nova Scotia, in the event of export of apples, the fact that we don't have some sort of structure in place to regulate the quality of the apple. I want to say that I understand that the minister has given that undertaking. I want it in the record and I note that the minister is shaking his head positively. It's important for the industry that they have that commitment by the minister.

The other issue is with regard to some changing from Agriculture and Marketing, which I remember the former Premier of this province spoke so well, and I will say he was one of the best Ministers of Agriculture the province has had, and that was the Honourable Roger Bacon. He was a great Minister of Agriculture in the Province of Nova Scotia. He fought very hard for the farmers, and I was president at the time. Can you imagine a Grit and a Tory working together? Well, we did, and we worked very effectively for the benefits of the farm community, not personally, it was always for the industry. The expansion of the department, Agriculture and Marketing, was always a major part because marketing was a strong initiative within the department so that the industry could grow and create opportunities, but also be able to market that product. The change now, because of the merger between Fisheries and Agriculture, is deleting the word marketing in some instances and adding the word fisheries, so we have Agriculture and Fisheries, which is really streamlining because of the fact that this has already been put together.

[Page 6603]

[2:45 p.m.]

The other is with regard to the AI Board, the Artificial Insemination Board. It was established, different ones, I guess, across the province. The board hasn't really been functioning for a number of years. It is really a redundant board. The unit in Truro has been working independently for a long time. I understand there is competition, there are other people involved now, of course, in the province, but I understand that this isn't a major issue within the industry, from what I can gather at this point.

We have the expert over here on artificial insemination I take it, back in the corner, from Dartmouth. I know the Dartmouth North member spent some time in agriculture on farms in the Valley. If he ever had any common sense he probably learned it from the farmers that he worked for in the Valley. (Interruptions) That's probably true, too.

I don't know if the minister, in his consultation, informed the Federation of Agriculture of these changes prior to the introduction of this bill. I am not aware if that was done, but I assume it was done, I would hope that it was done. (Interruptions) It seems to me I did make a call and I don't know if they were fully informed of that bill introduction. Maybe they were and the person I talked to wasn't aware, but I would hope that the minister realizes, as did the former Minister of Agriculture a number of years back, the Honourable Roger Bacon, would always work very closely with the federation. In fact, I remember one time at a Federation of Agriculture meeting when the minister then stood up and said that he recognizes one, and one organization only, in the Province of Nova Scotia as the umbrella organization representing all of agriculture, and that was the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. That's how sincere he was about supporting that.

AN HON. MEMBER: I think I remember him saying that.

MR. DOWNE: Well, I remember, I was there.

AN HON. MEMBER: I think he said it in here.

MR. DOWNE: He probably did. I was so young, I wouldn't have remembered. (Laughter) I have certainly aged a little bit since I've been here.

AN HON. MEMBER: You're starting to get a little bit of a distinguished look.

MR. DOWNE: Yes, well, some people look like Stalin, some people just get greyer hair. (Interruptions) Oh, yes, the KFC look. If only he would wear a bow tie.

[Page 6604]

Mr. Speaker, although there has been a little bit of levity here for a change in this House, I do want to say to the minister that we will be supporting it. I look forward to the fact that he will be working very closely with the sectors involved and that his commitment is there for the long-term viability of the industry, and that this cutting measure in no way will impede upon the ability of farmers to be able to continue to do whatever they need to do to expand in export and to grow the industry that is so vitally important to the economic and social well-being throughout all of Nova Scotia and that, of course, is the agricultural sector.

Mr. Speaker, with those few words, I say that we will be supporting the bill.

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

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable members for their comments, and certainly both of them, I don't want to speak on behalf of them, but I think all three of us who have spoken on this bill are there for the support of agriculture and recognize the importance of the Nova Scotia Federation as the united voice for the farming community across the province. Their comments are taken into consideration, and if for any reason there are issues that need to be explored further, we are certainly prepared to sit down and do that on this subject. With those few brief remarks, it is my pleasure to move second reading on Bill No. 73.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 73. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 74.

Bill No. 74 - Costs and Fees Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak on behalf of the Minister of Justice to introduce this bill. This is one that will be bring greater accessibility for people using the court system. The Costs and Fees Act is being amended to provide staff with the legislative ability to waive court fees based on specific criteria. Currently, some

[Page 6605]

individuals must apply to have the court fees waived. This amendment, once the appropriate regulations are in place, will give staff the ability to waive fees based on specific criteria. This will ensure a more consistent approach across the province. The criteria will involve a specific income level or an entitlement to social assistance, and that criteria will be set in regulations.

This amendment provides for a legislative framework under which it can operate. Again, we will achieve a more consistent approach within this province. It will give those who cannot afford to pay the court filing fees a faster and more accessible way to apply for a waiver. It is also about improving our processes. It will provide greater accessibility to the courts. Mr. Speaker, as the courts' time will no longer be spent on the requests, the processes will be much more efficient for all involved. Thank you and I am happy to move second reading.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I will be speaking as the Justice Critic because this is a bill originally introduced by the Justice Minister, but my colleague for Dartmouth North will also probably have a few words to say on this because this is one of those bills that, quite frankly, is a good-news bill. This is a piece of legislation that is recognizing that certain people are unable to afford the fees in our court system and here is an opportunity to waive those. Obviously, the devil's in the details to some extent. We will have to see what those regulations are, what will be the benchmark in which people will be able, if they are under that mark, to waive fees and, if over that mark they will have to pay the fee. These are all questions we will have when the regulations come out, but this is an enabling piece of legislation that allows the government to at least begin to produce regulations that can ensure some access to, whether it be Small Claims Court or whether it be other forms of fees that will be provided by court.

I will say, on the record, that it is a good piece of legislation. Our caucus will support it and I look forward to the Law Amendments Committee and hearing what type of debate we are going to have on it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to say a few words on Bill No. 74, the Costs and Fees Act, as Justice Critic for the Liberal caucus. The Liberal caucus welcomes changes to the Costs and Fees Act which, in theory, will make it easier for more people to access our court system. Everyone talks about and is aware that going to court can be an expensive proposition for many - even going to Small Claims Court can involve expenses which may be considerable for some people who have to account for every dollar they spend on a monthly basis - but when people have to go to Provincial Court or Supreme

[Page 6606]

Court, either voluntarily or involuntarily, the fees involved can be quite daunting to say the least. For some people the expense can be such that they have no choice but to forgo potential remedies that could be obtained through our court system. In the situation of family law, this can have unfortunate or even tragic consequences.

The amendments discussed here today could well be a very positive step in making access to our court system a reality for more people. We will have to wait to see what the regulations will eventually stipulate; however, providing a broader range of officials with the authority to waive fees in certain circumstances will be a very positive and welcome step by our caucus. Allowing court staff to process these claims will divert these issues from our courts; this will save valuable court time and result in a savings for everyone. These changes could also make applications for waiver of fees an easier, faster, and more accessible process for Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, one concern we do have is whether the regulations that may eventually be introduced would give court staff a discretion to waive fees or will they stipulate that court staff must waive fees if certain conditions are met? Our caucus is very concerned that if the regulations merely give court staff discretionary power, then some staff across the province may be more hard-nosed than others when it comes to granting waivers. If this scenario occurs, then the objectives of consistency across the province will not be met. Therefore, if the government intends to proceed with these changes by regulation, then we strongly urge them to stipulate the exact conditions that must be met for someone to qualify for a waiver of fees. If someone meets these qualifications, then they should get the fee waiver - no questions asked, no discretion on the part of court staff should be necessary.

We hope that this government will take this under advisement and we look forward to supporting this bill going to the Law Amendments Committee to get the public input and hope that the minister will be open to any possible amendments which may be coming out of that process.

With that, at this point, we are more than happy to give our support to having this bill go forward to the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to commend the government for bringing forward Bill No. 74, an Act to Amend Chapter 104 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Costs and Fees Act. I want to say that this is a direction in which a government knows it's a proactive move and that the government then does not have to offset the cost of those individuals, particularly those individuals on low income and social assistance to create the paperwork that is necessary to go through the departments. It is now just a fundamental matter of having the regulations set in so that the criteria is then applied to the applicant so

[Page 6607]

that the applicant then is a successful applicant. It leaves no question of who will be responsible and who will be the recipient of whether those certain fees are waived or not.

I think it's important to recognize that when the government talks about certain fees, we're not only talking about court fees, we're also probably speaking about licensing fees and copies of government documents that are absolutely necessary and needed by those individuals who now don't have access to the courts and who will have access to the courts as a result of this.

There's also the issue of probating estates and so on that are extremely costly. For those individuals on low and fixed incomes, this is a matter of whether they can afford to take these issues to the courts or not. Now, what government has recognized is that some of those fees are simply out of the bounds of allowing individuals to have the rightful access to justice and justice being by the process of the courts.

I believe this also goes much further than simply costs and fees to the courts. I believe it can be extended to coroner's reports, to probably birth certificates, marriage fees, divorce fees. I don't know if, in fact, that's covered under that same category, but I do know there's a whole host of costs and fees that are as a result of one having to go to the courts. This is primarily dealing with justice and access to the courts and material that would be needed for those individuals on low incomes to find their rightful place to have access to the judicial system.

I want to say, like my colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, and our Justice Critic who has had the opportunity to review this bill, we in caucus have had the opportunity to look at this bill. I have certainly had the opportuntiy to look at this bill on the basis that it reflects the opportunities now for low income persons - and hopefully not just those individuals who are on social assistance because there are many low income individuals who fall out of the realm of social assistance, they may very well be on fixed incomes of OAS, which is Old Age Security, and also those individuals who are on fixed incomes such as CPP, Canada Pension Plan disabilities, as well, so it gives that whole host of individuals the opportunity now to access the courts with minimal cost, and that we commend the government for. We think it's a move in the right direction - we don't think, we know it's a move in the right direction - particularly since fees have been increased by this government. We should not recognize that fees have been increased under this government, as well, and government has recognized that all people cannot afford to pay those fees.

[3:00 p.m.]

On behalf of my caucus and in speaking in sync with our Justice Critic, I do support this bill.

[Page 6608]

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Community Services it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Justice, I do want to say thank you to the other Parties for their support in recognizing that this is a good-news story as we move forward to help all of the people in Nova Scotia. I have made some notes of the comments that were made; I will pass those on to the Minister of Justice and those, obviously, will be debated during the Law Amendments Committee process.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I close debate on Bill No. 74.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 74. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 76, the Consumer Protection Act.

Bill No. 76 - Consumer Protection Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I move that this bill be now read a second time.

Perhaps just to underline to the members of the House, the reason that we need legislation of this sort would be to review the magnitude of Internet commerce that is currently underway, especially in the Atlantic Region. Last year there was a total, in Atlantic Canada, of $68 million of commerce conducted through the Internet. That represents an increase of over 209 per cent. So the purpose of this bill is to address concerns with respect to consumer protection through business that is conducted over the Internet; that is the essence of the legislation.

[Page 6609]

The bill is as a result of a joint effort by Ministers of Consumer Affairs across the country, federally, provincially and territorially. They have worked together to develop a template which this legislation is based on, and the agreement to proceed with the legislation was reached in St. John's, Newfoundland, last year. I can tell the House that both Manitoba and Alberta have already proceeded and have in place this legislation, and we are the third province to bring it forward at this time.

The essence of the legislation, Mr. Speaker, is to ensure that vendors who do business on the Internet provide to consumers fundamental, basic information. That information, first of all, would identify the company; it would identify their location, both physically and electronically, in terms of being able to access them through the Internet; it would ensure that adequate descriptions of the items that are being sold are, in fact, made available to consumers; it would specify the method of payment that is to take place and that, of course, is through credit cards for pretty well all of these Internet purchases; it would also specify the currency in which the payment would be made so that consumers would understand exactly how they are to pay for the purchase that they make. Also, there is other information that is required, as well.

In addition to providing fundamental information, the vendor must also provide a contract to the consumer within a specified period of time, so that the consumer can view the contract and know full well his or her legal obligations under that contract. So that must take place, Mr. Speaker.

If there is a failure on the part of the vendor to either provide the basic information, or to provide the sales contract, or if upon delivery of the product, individuals or consumers find that the vendor has not lived up to the terms of the contract, then there are provisions for the consumer to return the items which they purchased through this transaction. In the event that vendors fail to comply with the terms of the legislation, that is to accept in return the items that failed to live up to the obligations outlined in the sales contract, then there are provisions to ultimately protect the consumer through the provision of a refund on the credit card purchase that the individual makes.

Mr. Speaker, that refund ultimately trails back to the vendor because when the credit card company - and I should point out to members that credit card companies are on-line with respect to this legislation, they are not jumping for joy over it, but they recognize that for Internet commerce to occur, the credit card is the only vehicle by which that commerce can occur. So they do agree that they will provide that refund to individuals. Now individuals must provide the evidence that the vendor failed to live up to the contract or that the items purchased did not live up to the billing as outlined in the transaction. But once that evidence is provided, then the credit card company will provide a credit to the consumer to their credit card account. The credit card company, of course, gets reimbursed by simply withholding in

[Page 6610]

their payment to the vendor the amount of the money outlined in the purchase. So it works with respect to everybody who is involved in the process.

We believe, Mr. Speaker, that this is good legislation, legislation that will ensure that those people who are involved in doing commerce on the Internet, and that is growing at a very rapid pace, almost expediently, and businesses are not all brick and mortar businesses. Some of them exist only on the Internet and therefore we need to have this kind of protection in place. So I look forward to the debate and I am very pleased to bring the legislation forward at this time.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to rise on behalf of our caucus and on behalf of my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview, who is called out at the moment and who is the Critic for Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Services. As I begin my remarks, and they aren't going to be lengthy, I want to indicate at the outset that we will be supporting this legislation going forward. We certainly recognize that the Internet commerce is growing at a rapid pace. Nova Scotians, I believe, are the highest users of the Internet in the country and certainly many goods and services are purchased over the Net. I am also aware and I know that my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview, pointed out to me - and the minister has said it again today - similar legislation has already been passed in Manitoba and Alberta and that all other provinces are on-line in doing the same thing.

With that having been said, Mr. Speaker, I really have a few questions, more than anything else, that I would like the minister, either now or at some process, address. Like most members in this House, we have all probably heard horror stories where individuals and businesses have been ripped off over the Internet, where they may have purchased goods or services or somebody may have ordered something from them and they never received the payment for it. So I certainly believe that it is very important that we do have consumer protection for those who are using the Internet to purchase goods or services.

So I have no dispute with the intent; I do though pose a couple of questions. For example, Mr. Speaker, a lot of the businesses that Nova Scotians and others are purchasing goods and services from aren't located within Nova Scotia. They aren't located within Canada; many of these are international. Many of them, I don't know the percentage, I'm not going to say the vast majority, or the majority, certainly there are many very reputable companies selling goods and services over the Internet, but we also know that there are some that are fly-by-night types of operations, and it is a very quick and simple thing for somebody to set up a company - in some jurisdictions it may be easier than others - get a registered company and you would be registered, for example, to be able to receive payments by credit cards.

[Page 6611]

Mr. Speaker, they could be fly-by-night companies. They could be there today and collect as much in the way of receipts, payments coming in over a short of period of time, and be gone tomorrow. We all are aware that those kind of companies do exist. The minister in his remarks talked about it being a requirement that the companies have, for example, the sales contract with all the listings and all the obligations and the currencies and so on. It would be interesting to know if the department, or not only necessarily our own department here, but the ministers as they're preparing such legislation and coming up with such kind of agreement, if they did any kind of an assessment or an evaluation of companies - and I don't mean every single one that's listed on the Internet, obviously that would be impossible

but sample surveying to find out what percentage of the companies that would be out there actually would meet these kinds of requirements that the minister would foresee being required according to the legislation.

I don't know if I'm like others in this House or not, but I doubt that I am different from others who have Internet addresses, and that is I get in my mail box on a fairly regular basis unsolicited e-mails offering to sell me a whole range of goods and services, whether that be accounting services - and I get one all the time, Mr. Speaker, I get it at least every week, this is a different kind of thing slightly, but it still fits in, offering to sell me a university diploma from an unregistered - I could get a diploma in any field I want, even at the doctoral level. Nobody is turned down. All I have to do is call a certain number and, I am sure, give them a credit card number and I will have from a non-accredited university - but it looked very official so the message says - a degree being sent to me. I haven't applied for one because I think some others might catch on rather quickly.

But my point is this, I mean all kinds of offers and so on are being made out there and these companies that are not located within Canada, or certainly in Nova Scotia, what teeth are there really going to be to enforce some of these. What I'm really trying to get at here, I guess, and not in a very articulate way, is that I wouldn't want consumers necessarily to believe that just by having this legislation that everything is going to be copacetic, lull them into a false sense of security. I believe the consumers certainly still are going to have to be on the lookout and be very cautious when they are dealing over the Internet, Mr. Speaker, particularly certain kinds of products, and it still would be probably advantageous for those who wish to purchase over the network to try to get a little bit of information, do a little research about the company from whom they are trying to buy that product.

[3:15 p.m.]

The other thing, for example, Mr. Speaker, and I probably should know this, but I don't, but I was reading the sections in here about if a consumer wishes to cancel the Internet sales agreement and the minister talked about the credit cards and how you can get the refunds and so on. What I'm wondering - and I throw this out as a question to the minister because I haven't the foggiest notion on this one - if you charge something on your credit

[Page 6612]

card, how long is it before that credit card company then makes the actual payment into the account of the supplier of that product. If I fill up, for example for gas in my car, which I did yesterday, and I put it on my credit card, because I am on-line and I can look at my credit charges on a daily basis, I can tell you as soon as that charge shows up on my statement. I know what I owe and it's there, so it's gone through. But what I don't know is how long it takes for the credit card company then to actually issue the payment to the company that sold me the gas.

Where I am coming from on this one is, if the credit card company in the timelines here, when those charges are being made, I also don't want to see the credit card companies being dinged if I have cancelled a contract - hypothetically - because the product wasn't what it was supposed to be. I may well have had to pay for it by credit card before they would ship it to me and the shipping can take a period of time, that supplier would have applied for a payment of that and I wouldn't like to see - the time frames being such - that the payment has already gone to the supplier before the individual or business would have had a chance to cancel that contract. And, of course, if the credit card companies - and I am not a big fan of the interest rates charged by credit card companies and I don't really generally have much sympathy for them, but if they lose a lot of money from these kinds of things, that would then mean that they would have one more justification or excuse to keep the rates even higher than they are.

I might point out that I don't think the credit card rates - even though the bank rates and the prime rates have been dropping - I don't think that the credit card companies have been overly quick to pass those savings on to consumers. I am not what you call overly fond of credit card companies and what they charge, however, I think that it's prudent for us to try to be sure that those kinds of things have been looked into. I am not suggesting for a moment that they haven't and I am not suggesting for a minute that anything I have said so far is any kind of a reason not to support this legislation. I am putting it out as questions that I would be interested in knowing about.

The other thing, this bill to a large extent revolves around Clause 1, Section 21AA on Page 2, where it has, "A consumer may cancel an internet sales contract under the circumstances described in the regulations." Of course, regulations are part of the law, but we don't have those regulations here. I am wondering if the minister could, or if his department is close to having the draft regulations or actually having the regulations that would be going with this legislation, available. Will they mirror the regulations that I assume are in place in Manitoba and Alberta? If they will, then we have a quick way to get a guide on what they will be.

[Page 6613]

The other point that I would like to ask is in terms - again, this is open to the proclamation date as prescribed by Order in Council, whenever the Royal Assent is being given. I wonder if the minister could indicate what kind of time frame he expects, when he believes that this bill would be ready for proclamation.

With those comments, a little briefer than some of my comments tend to be in this House, I certainly want to indicate that we will be supporting the bill going forward. As I said and in the questions that I have raised, I am not suggesting them as a reason not to support the bill. At this point, I am not even suggesting that there's anything that you could do differently because I honestly don't know that there is, but I believe the minister would share - at least I hope he would - my view that this legislation in itself cannot provide absolute protection for consumers who are purchasing over the Internet.

You still have to be cautious, do due diligence and some research on who it is that you are purchasing the goods and services from because those who are outside the reach of our law and who have no respect for the law and are out there trying to abuse the system, to make a quick buck in a fraudulent manner - this isn't going to deter them. It may hinder them somewhat, but certainly it won't deter their efforts to try. So with those few brief comments, I will resume my seat and, as I said before, be voting for the bill to go on. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is tough to follow such a well thought out and well-researched speech as that given by the honourable NDP House Leader. I think he may want to actually suggest to his research staff that they read bills before actually standing in the House. I thought the next question coming out of him was going to be, if a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear it? Because he certainly had lots of questions to ask. I never thought I would see the day when I would hear the NDP expressing concern about the financial health of credit card companies in this country and wanting to make sure that their profits don't fall and that they continue to be financially healthy. I think we have seen some interesting things today.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of our caucus and on behalf of my colleague, the member for Cape Breton The Lakes, who unfortunately cannot be with us here due to the passing of one of his very long-time, hard-working Liberal campaign workers in his constituency, Mr. Lloyd Lewis.

Nova Scotians, as we all know, are using the Internet more and more on a daily basis. Measures that are intended to give greater protection and a sense of assurance to consumers in Nova Scotia can only be seen as a positive thing. Many consumers are declining to use the Internet to purchase goods and services because they are very concerned about what will

[Page 6614]

happen if they transmit their credit card information across the Internet. This bill addresses that, to a certain extent.

Credit card service providers will have to comply with the amendments of this bill as they apply to Nova Scotian consumers. If a consumer in this province wishes to cancel an Internet sales contract under this bill, they can do so under certain conditions. Mr. Speaker, the question is, what happens to their credit card information? This bill compels the credit card companies to cancel or reverse credit card charges if a consumer cancels a transaction and complies with the requirement of this bill. That measure will certainly help to calm some concerns of Nova Scotians.

One concern that our caucus doesn't see as being addressed here is the issue of jurisdiction and that has been raised by a number of people who have questioned it. While they think the bill is a very good start and the intention is good, the question is, what jurisdiction will this province have to enforce this bill outside of the Province of Nova Scotia? I certainly look forward to hearing the comments from the minister and his staff, who I am sure have provided him with some legal advice on this.

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, our caucus is certainly supportive of this legislation, Bill No. 76, the Consumer Protection Act, going forward to the Law Amendments Committee. We look forward to the presentations that will be made and hope the minister will be open to any possible amendments that will be introduced to make sure this is the best possible legislation to deal with this most important concern of all Nova Scotians. With that, I take my seat and look forward to the Law Amendments Committee process. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations it will be to close debate.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank members opposite for their comments and contribution to the debate. I just want to underline again that the legislation, of course, is an attempt to provide protection for consumers. It in no way tells the consumer that they should abandon their caution when it comes to doing business. They need to be cautious. But what it does do is provide them with the tools that they need in order to exercise that caution, and the tools are that the information relative to the vendor becomes available to them and must be available before the contract becomes legal. It also ensures that the delivery of that contract must take place before the contract is final, complete. Those two provisions, information and delivery of the contract, allow the consumer to exercise vigilance with respect to the transaction that they are conducting. They still must be vigilant as a consumer who walks in off the street must be vigilant.

[Page 6615]

With the indulgence of the House Leader, I will relate the story of a young man who left here, and I won't name the city for fear of identifying the young man, but he left here with a university degree and went out and decided that it was time for him to purchase a car. He went to a dealer, a reputable dealership because it bears the name of a famous athlete in another jurisdiction, and they gave him the car for the weekend, and insisted that he should try the car for the weekend. He signed a document, which he was told was just a release for him to have it, came back Monday morning with the car and was told, I'm too busy to deal with you, why don't you take it for another day. He came back the next day, was told, I'm too busy, why don't you just keep it for another day. He says, no, no, I have to return the car. They said, no, look, tomorrow morning, 8:00 o'clock come, so he comes back the next day at 8:00 o'clock. What is he told, he's told that you've kept the vehicle too long, you signed the contract that if you keep it x number of hours then you have agreed to the purchase and you have agreed to the purchase at an interest rate of 20 per cent. That's not an Internet. But it's there, and people have to be vigilant.

You asked about whether we've done a survey on businesses. The honourable member knows and I believe he alluded to that in his comments, that you simply can't survey every business that's out there because more and more of them are coming onstream all the time. What was done was an analysis of the information that consumers should have, and that is what is reflected in the legislation, that analysis of the information that they should have.

Mr. Speaker, that is what was provided. The regulations are, in fact, being worked upon. They need to reflect the interests of Nova Scotia, but at the same time ensure that the template is protected, and proclamation will, in fact, coincide with the readiness of the regulations relative to the bill. I am quite pleased to close this debate, and I thank the members for their contribution to it.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 76. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 77.

Bill No. 77 - Motor Vehicle Act and Public Highways Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 6616]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to introduce this bill for second reading. The bill is a relatively straightforward bill, but it is, in some respects, an omnibus bill, if you can consider a bill with three pages an omnibus bill. It is, in fact, amending two Acts in the House, the Motor Vehicle Act and the Public Highways Act. As members I am sure are aware, in this province we have broken up the original responsibilities of the Department of Transportation with regard to registration and licensing, et cetera, and passed those responsibilities to Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations and I think it is a reasonable approach to have the administrative side of the issuing of permits and licenses, et cetera, at an agency that does a lot of that business for government.

Mr. Speaker, in effect, this bill does amend those two Acts, however, both of the amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act and the Public Highways Act relate to public safety. So, there is a very definite commonality between these two particular Acts. There are a number of changes, but I would just like to go through them very briefly, each one, because there are only about five of them and, indeed, I think members will agree that these changes are definitely to the benefit of the employees of the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Public Works who are involved in working on the highways.

[3:30 p.m.]

We have had a number of close calls of recent date, Mr. Speaker, and I presume those close calls have been occurring ever since the Department of Highways was initiated in that we have to work on the highways. It is very difficult to get people to slow down on the highways when they are approaching a workplace or a repair job on the highway or just off the highway on the median, perhaps, or on the shoulders. In fact, just about a month ago we had one situation where we had a semi-trailer and a car both barrel into a workplace at the same time. Fortunately nobody was hurt but, however, there was an opportunity for a multi-death incident.

Not only are we looking at problems involving the workplace and the highway, Mr. Speaker, but we are also looking at some other things that have been neglected somewhat by the Department of Transportation and Public Works over the years, and that is there are still some things within the regulations that have to be taken into consideration when people approach a situation that may be unfamiliar to them. One of those is where you approach an intersection and the stoplights are out. All four lights are blinking, and what is the process to be followed by drivers when they reach that intersection? It isn't laid out within the Act at the present time and it isn't laid out in the guide to drivers when they are taking their license. However, I think that most drivers over the years have become aware of the fact that everybody should stop and treat it as a four-way stop sign. However, there are some motorists who don't realize that and proceed through the intersection and an accident, or at least an accident situation, is created.

[Page 6617]

Under the legislation that we are introducing, Mr. Speaker, drivers who ignore traffic control persons who are directing traffic at a workplace on the highway, at the present time, unless we actually catch the person in the act, there is no process to charge that person. Now they will get four demerit points on their drivers' record with the recording of the license plate and they will also face charges for dangerous or reckless driving if those particular charges are warranted.

Mr. Speaker, when they approach a vehicle that is flashing a red light on the highway, it will now be mandatory for the traffic to stop before proceeding as directed by a person who is in control of the traffic at that time. We also have a couple of amendments with regard to drunk driving. We are proposing that drivers who licenses are revoked, often an offense involving alcohol, would no longer be able to apply for early reinstatement of their license. We will also close a loophole in the law by revoking the licenses of young offenders who are convicted of an offense involving a vehicle and alcohol.

So, Mr. Speaker, as I say, these are minor housekeeping changes perhaps, but they do affect the safety of the workers on the highway. They also affect the safety of the public of Nova Scotia. So with those few remarks, I move that Bill No. 77 move through second reading.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for bringing forward certain sections of Bill No. 77. I think it is important for the members present to know that at one time earlier in this sitting of the House there was a bill called Bill No. 42 that was brought forward. Bill No. 42 included some suggestions, An Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Motor Vehicle Act, and I think it is of some consequence that we notice that this bill brought forth at this time recommended that there would be certain changes to the Motor Vehicle Act, particularly when it came to temporary work sites on the Department of Transportation and Public Works' responsibility when work is being done on highways, bridges and various other things across this province.

I will leave it to the imagination of the members opposite who Bill No. 42 was brought forward by, but that particular piece of legislation, I'm proud to announce, was brought forward by the members of the NDP caucus and it is absolutely exceptional to see that the minister opposite is following the good advice that was brought forward in Bill No. 42 earlier, that he is willing to be open-minded enough to say that this is a piece of legislation that the government should bring forward because we all know how it works. I mean I'm not going to stand on Opposition Day and bring Bill No. 42 in and get it talked out, but instead the minister and his department have said here's an example of the NDP having a good idea, an idea that we can accept and bring forward, Mr. Speaker, into legislation and that is included in Bill No. 77.

[Page 6618]

So I am more than pleased to see that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has been listening to the NDP caucus and members of his department have said, now, there's an idea that we can support and this omnibus bill, although it is short, in three pages, does include some amendments of some real value and there is one that I can tell you we will definitely support, but - well, Mr. Speaker, there's always a but when you're in Opposition - Bill No. 42 brought forward by the NDP caucus also included the fact that there should be further amendments brought forward in school zones.

Now, Mr. Speaker, you know, you represent an area very much like mine in certain portions. When you have a school zone that's on a major secondary road, you could put up all the signs in the world and the right colour, those new colours are exceptional and I can congratulate the Department of Transportation and Public Works for moving in that direction, but it was suggested at this time that we also increase the fines. In fact, Bill No. 42 recommended that we double the fines of anyone speeding in a school zone and that we make sure we truly put some teeth in that sort of legislation. Now there was another suggestion brought forward by the caucus that I belong to that, unfortunately, the minister didn't listen to and it would be of some consequence at the Law Amendments Committee, and perhaps on the floor of this House when we discuss further amendments, that this also should be included.

But it does disappoint me further that this piece of legislation does not deal with another very dangerous place - when we have people driving the highways and the byways of this province - and that is on crosswalks. Mr. Speaker, I remember, in fact, he used to sit very close to where the member for Shelburne does sit, in fact he was the member for Shelburne at the time, he was the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and we used to go after him about dangers in crosswalks.

It was a terrible time, Mr. Speaker. I don't know if you remember it, but a young man up here on the Commons unfortunately was killed in a crosswalk and the furor that resulted as we were going to look into a full review of crosswalks across this province, dangerous crosswalks in certain areas. Now, there are some dangerous crosswalks in Timberlea-Prospect, as I'm sure members here have other crosswalks across this province that are dangerous. We can have all the signs in the world. We can have the flashing lights. In fact, we can have the guards there. In certain school zones, when you can have those crosswalks, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member is straying from the principle of the bill that the minister brought forward and I would ask the honourable member, he's a very experienced member in this House and he knows full well that he should speak to the amended Motor Vehicle Act as presented here just a few moments ago.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect does have the floor.

[Page 6619]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your guidance and I appreciate the good advice that you've got and I will point out to the minister and the members opposite for them to be prepared at the Law Amendments Committee because I know that's a process that we all treasure and value in this House, that there would be the possibility for further amendments brought forward that would address the issues that I have just brought to the House's attention. If we are going to deal with safer highways and look at the fact that safer highways around construction areas are of real concern, we should also address the issues of safer highways when it comes to school zones and when it comes to crosswalks.

Mr. Speaker, you have thrown me off. (Interruption) Yes, and on that topic, if I may, I am going to have a Halls.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member is certainly in receipt of permission to have a Halls or a Fisherman's Friend, or whatever the honourable member should like to indulge in, provided it's legal, and I'm quite certain it would be. (Interruption)

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I hear the member for Preston say there's no advertising in this House, and he's quite correct. I'm just having a cough drop, so I would, under no circumstances show him the shirt I'm wearing because it could be advertising. (Laughter)

Mr. Speaker, it's of real consequence that traffic control persons have the proper authority on our highways, and the people who have those responsibilities must be given the authority to be able to act appropriately when they see an offender in a dangerous construction area. As we well know, and we travel the highways of this province, you see those people who are out flagging, you see those people there with those stop signs - we have to make sure that the traffic controller has some authority and this legislation is going to do that. When we deal with traffic offenders, of whatever age and in whatever part of the province, we can have all the warnings, we can have all the signs, but what we have to have is demerit points and fines in place that will make sure that drivers are attentive to such dangerous areas.

Highway construction, of course - I wish there was more of it in my area, incidentally. I can tell you, there would be people who would be slowing up because they would be stopping out of shock, Mr. Speaker, saying, you mean we're getting highway construction on the Prospect Road? There wouldn't be a need for much flag work, there wouldn't be a need for much signage, because I can tell you that they would be stopping in shock. They probably would be trying to find out who the contractor is, what work they are doing, and they would be stopping and congratulating these highway workers for finally paying attention to some of the dangerous areas that have been brought to that minister's attention by their MLA.

[Page 6620]

Mr. Speaker, let's look very carefully at the fact that these traffic controllers, properly trained as they are, have to be given the authority that we want them to have. Construction workers on highway sites must feel that they can operate in a fashion that is safe. The way it can be safe is that the motorists who are travelling by should be aware of the fact, well in advance, that if they do not pay attention to the traffic control person, if they do not pay attention to the signage, they are going to be dealt with appropriately. This legislation does this. I wish it would go further. I wish it would deal with those other issues that you have brought me back on; however, I will address those matters at another time.

Mr. Speaker, I know we aren't doing clause by clause, but it concerns me that we single out, in this legislation, young drivers who are 16, 17 and 18 years old, and those ages, and the reflection on those ages; it concerns me that suddenly we are going to draw attention to the young driver and the fact that his or her license will be revoked immediately. What about the situation where we have a 28 year old male or female who has just, for one reason or another, gotten a driver's license, just received their driver's license, will they not be treated in the same way? Why draw attention to bringing forward those ages? I mean, we have to deal with teenagers, and then somebody who is 18 years old will be treated differently than someone who is 19 years old.

[3:45 p.m.]

Why get into the specifics of mentioning those ages when it would seem to me to be more appropriate, if we look at the graduated license system that we have, if somebody is a new driver in Nova Scotia, at whatever age, with no reflection on whether they are teenagers or not, if you look at that 28 year old and that 28 year old happens to have a criminal offense, drinking and driving, whatever else, driving through a construction site. If those sorts of offenses happen, then that 28 year old should be treated just as appropriately and just as tough in a tough fashion as a teenager who is 16, 17 or 18.

Not many young people watch Legislative TV at this time of the day. Some of them, my past students, Mr. Speaker, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable member, would you permit an introduction by the honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Absolutely.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for coming down from on high to allow me a chance to say a few words on an introduction in the west gallery, It is my distinct pleasure to introduce two very strong individuals who have shown great

[Page 6621]

leadership in the agricultural community in the Province of Nova Scotia and beyond. These two individuals have both held the esteemed position of being President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. They are now members of the illustrious Nova Scotia Senate Club and it is my pleasure to introduce to the members of this Legislature and through you to all members, I would ask the members to stand, Mr. Greg Caldwell and Mr. Earl Kidston, two very outstanding farmers in the Province of Nova Scotia and I will ask the members of the House to give a warm welcome to these very fine gentlemen. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, indeed and welcome to our guests in the gallery. I would point out that the Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, Mr. Laurence Nason, resides in the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and I clearly do understand how hard working the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture is.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect on relevance.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I welcome our guests here today and I thank the member for Lunenburg West for introducing them. We are talking on a piece of legislation, Bill No. 77, for those members and those teenagers at home - that is my train of thought, incidently - those teenagers at home that are being drawn out here as 16, 17, 18 year old new drivers and I will come back to that. We are dealing with Bill No. 77, although short, I will agree with the minister, is an omnibus bill because it does offer amendments to two current Acts, the Motor Vehicle Act and the Highway Safety Act. So it is of some importance that Nova Scotians are aware of the fact that when this legislation goes through the Law Amendments Committee and comes back to this House for amendments, that there could be some different traffic laws that they are going to have to obey.

Some are common sense. How many times have we gone to a traffic light and the light is out? The light is blinking red one way and caution the other. That happens. In other jurisdictions they might - and my learned from Dartmouth North said, oh no, they all are blinking red - well I know in some jurisdictions, that is not the case. Common sense prevails with the fact that if for some reason the lights are out, then we have an automatic four-way stop situation. Young drivers are aware of that, there is no doubt, Mr. Speaker, when it comes to how to handle a four-way stop. It is good to see that that piece of housekeeping legislation is there. But those young watchers at home, those young people who do turn to Legislative TV, and my friend from Ridgecliff, who has left with her parents already, when she becomes a driver, I think it is of some importance to note that when we bring in legislation in this Assembly, why is it necessary to draw attention to the age of the drivers?

That is something that is going to be up for charter challenge, perhaps. We are going to treat an 18 year old differently than a 19 year old and the automatic question that comes from the 18 year old - why do I have to be treated differently? We have a graduated license program. We have new drivers who get drivers' licenses at various ages in this province, yet

[Page 6622]

this government has taken the opportunity to single out 16, 17 and 18 years olds who, for one reason or another, if they break the law, then we will deal with them as new drivers when it comes to the revoking of their license and making sure that they are dealt with properly when they eventually. hopefully, do get a license back and learn from their lesson.

But I think it's of real concern and I hope the minister's staff is looking at that. Why? I ask again why draw the reference? Why single out these teenage drivers? Is that not fair? That's after all part of the problem that we come to when we have young people learning to drive.

I know members opposite all want to have their opportunity to talk about safe highways. I made a comment earlier about the fact of highway construction and how important it is and the dangers that are on the road. We always react to situations. We react to situations by saying, we should have stronger laws when it comes to speeding through construction sites. That was an idea brought forward, as I repeated earlier, by this caucus. We should, after all, have stronger legislation when it comes to speeding in school zones. It's not included. That disappoints me. It could be brought forward as an amendment.

More importantly - and I am coming back to it, Mr. Speaker - in the midst of the member for Shelburne at the time and all the things that he was going to do as the minister to review dangerous crosswalks, whatever happened to the review? Surely that minister knows that report is available and that this would be an appropriate time to bring in legislation that also would deal with that particular dangerous part of our highways. There are no more dangerous places - I will agree - than construction sites on highways. It's very important for the traffic controllers who are operating those sites to feel safe and for the workers there to also feel safe.

Isn't it also important for the people who man - if that's the appropriate language now in the year 2001 - who people crosswalks that they also should feel safe? That when someone goes whipping by, they, as a traffic controller should have the authority to be able to jot down that license and that particular person who has, if not caused an accident, nearly caused an accident, shouldn't they also be put in a situation where they could be referred to the RCMP and handled appropriately if the RCMP is the police force in that jurisdiction that is responsible? The same thing is true, how many times, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that people speed through school zones. It's not dealt with here and it disappoints me. Yes, we're taking care of highway workers. Yes, we're taking care of traffic controllers and flag people, but there are a couple of other dangerous places on highways.

It would be appropriate at this time if the minister and his staff would perhaps look back at Bill No. 42 and say, well, maybe for once the NDP just didn't have one good idea, maybe they had two or three. Thank you.

[Page 6623]

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: That's a very difficult act to follow and I don't think I will try to measure quite the height of emotion that the last speaker just demonstrated. I do commend him for his interest in this bill. I too am interested in this bill, Mr. Speaker. I don't know if I should share all my secrets with you, but I will share one with you here. There's a copy of the bill that I am now speaking on - absolutely blank sheet of paper, yet that's the form of the bill that we all have in our bill books for page one - a very blank looking bill.

Having said that, I can tell you that the Liberal caucus has deliberated on this bill nonetheless. From the explanatory process over on the left-hand side of the page, we've been able to decide what the bill actually says. If I were a little younger and brighter, I would say that the bill says nothing. I am not going to stand here and say that, we know that there is a master copy of the bill somewhere and it does say something.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Does the honourable member's bill include the explanatory notes, but not Page 1 of the actual bill? The explanatory notes are there? Yes, okay. The honourable member is quite correct. The honourable member raises an excellent point because Page 1 of the bill is missing. It's missing from the copy that I have in the Speaker's bill book here, so I would just point out that perhaps it's something that we should look into and get copies circulated.

MR. MACEWAN: Perhaps this is one of those legislative reforms that government is working towards. I don't know.

In any case, the Liberal caucus has considered the bill from what we could find out as to what it actually said, and the decision was to support it. There really isn't any problem. We'd just like to get a copy of the bill somewhere down the road.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we do support in principle any changes that make the roads safer for transportation workers. We do support any proposition that says there doesn't have to be an accident before these workers are properly protected. We do support changes to the Motor Vehicle Act that bring us in line with other jurisdictions across the country and we support those changes that will prohibit drivers charged with a drunk driving offence from applying for early reinstatement prior to the expiry of the full time that they were suspended for.

I think those are all the comments I care to make, Mr. Speaker, because I really didn't have very much to get into on this bill. Perhaps it doesn't say things that it should say, like the last speaker who outlined a great list of things that it should also have gone on to say. (Interruption) That is why we are here, I agree, but we can always move an amendment, so possibly there may be some amendments forthcoming, I don't know.

[Page 6624]

I will say that I don't wish to prolong the discussion on what hasn't been a particularly visible kind of legislation. So, having made that point, I think I will take my place and hope that the government can table a properly worded form of the bill before too long. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, and I again want to point out that we will certainly make sure the bill is circulated in its entirety.

Are there further interventions on second reading?

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: I thank the honourable members opposite for their remarks. First of all, I apologize for the fact that Page 1 was missing on the bill. Maybe I am a senior citizen so they gave me a Page 1. Anyway, we will rectify that and ensure that everybody has Page 1.

I appreciate the remarks of the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect on Bill No. 42. I remember when Bill No. 42 was before this House and we discussed various matters reflecting on safety of workers on public highways and a number of other issues as well. There was no reason at that time, Mr. Speaker, to proceed with the bill and we did not. In fact, I don't know if the bill actually came forward for debate; I believe it didn't.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, regardless of that, I am pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 77.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 77. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 78.

Bill No.78 - Conservation Easements Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

[Page 6625]

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to bring forward for second reading Bill No. 78, the Conservation Easements Act. I think there are maybe a couple of important points to quickly go over with this particular bill. What this bill does is really eliminate red tape and speed up the process where individual Nova Scotians are encouraged to enter into conservation easements with approved conservation groups here in Nova Scotia. Currently the process is that when this type of easement is brought forward, then it has to go through the OIC process and be approved by Executive Council. By eliminating the need to come forward for OIC and Executive Council, we will speed up that process where individual Nova Scotians, for various reasons, for conservation and environment, can put forward into trust pieces of property they hold dear to themselves and for future generations of Nova Scotians with that particular conservation group.

[4:00 p.m.]

There are a number of other issues around that. I think that it is important maybe to say a couple of words in that the current provincial regulations for approving a conservation group, and there are eight approved groups in Nova Scotia now, that process would remain the same. The province would approve those groups as well, as the province continues under the new Act, the same as the previous Act, to regulate what particular agreements can be in that easement as in terms of what constitutes conservation or environment or specific properties that would be protected under that.

With those brief remarks, I welcome the comments of my colleagues.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I have to say to the minister that I would be supporting this piece of legislation. I would say that anything that cuts down on the red tape, I would agree with. Actually if in doing that that encourages agreements between landowners and whatever non-government organizations that might be interested, the first one I think that would come to mind would be Nova Scotia Nature Trust, in securing those ecologically significant or ecologically sensitive areas throughout the province that could be retained for whatever agreed period or perpetuity, I would say that this can only be a good thing.

I think that since the department really is interested in the guidelines for designation and I think that the fact that these agreements quite often would demand that there is legal advice pertained to them in drafting of those agreements, I would say that having to require a designation by Order in Council would seem to be another cumbersome step and in removing that I think the minister has provided an avenue that may hopefully allow for - if there is such a thing as a backlog, which I would wonder - organizations to pursue having designation of some areas done much more quickly.

[Page 6626]

I would want to applaud the department for their effort in this regard. It is probably, I would assume, answering requests by those organizations to try to streamline the process. I hope that as the government looks at the significance of some of these ecologically important sites, that maybe they will think about designating more significant areas and bringing the province's designation up to around 12 per cent of its land, which is the standard more so across the country rather than 8 per cent which is what is protected in Nova Scotia today.

With those few comments I would say I applaud the minister for his effort and will be supporting this legislation as it goes into the Law Amendments Committee process.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to, for a few moments, take some time to make a few comments relative to the Conservation Easements Act. A couple of my colleagues, I believe, want to speak on this bill too, so I will only take a few minutes to congratulate the minister and the government for bringing this bill forward. I know the conservation groups that are registered throughout the province and the country are always seeking avenues whereby less red tape is involved in securing these conservation easements.

I am not quite sure what delay Cabinet may have had in having these OICs approved. I don't know, I guess time will tell if that is a good move or not. I am sure all Cabinet Ministers have input, or should have input, into any decisions made by the government. I am not sure if the delay in previous years was at the Cabinet Table, but I hope that any government from here on will at least keep the ministers informed of any decisions made relative to land exchange.

Mr. Speaker, we all know that it is only a small portion of our land in Nova Scotia that belongs to the Crown. The Crown only owns 25 per cent of the land mass in Nova Scotia, so to add conservation easements to that small portion of land is a good move. We hope that by this new Act these easements will move easier from here on.

Mr. Speaker, just one or two notes of caution are the - and that is the reason that I suggested having Cabinet removed from these decisions may or may not be a good idea. One thing that we must do is protect our resources that may be underneath these lands. I recall when I was Minister of Natural Resources that we had a piece of - that we had to repossess or - what is the word I am looking for, when you have to take charge of a piece of land for mining - expropriation. That is the word I am looking for. It is not a nice thing to go to a family and tell them that you must expropriate their land for the purpose of mining.

[Page 6627]

I would hope that for any land that is put into conservation easement all these things will be looked at so that down the road we don't have to repossess this land for the sake of mining and to make sure that our resources are protected, the resources that lie underneath the surface of these properties.

I think the move is good and I commend the minister for bringing it forward and this caucus will be supporting it. When we get a chance to dissect the bill more we may find other places where we can express our views on third reading or Committee of the Whole when we have an opportunity to go into the bill clause by clause. At the present time, I don't see any great problem with this bill and we hope it will move forward through the process and become law.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I, too, rise today to support my colleague from the Liberal caucus who is speaking in favour of this bill. The Conservation Easements Act, if I recall correctly, was brought in under John Leefe, former Minister of Natural Resources, back in the early 1990's. I had the pleasure in the province - whether it is the first or not - one of the few conservation easement proposals for the province in the Valley.

It was a very special time to be able to set aside land in perpetuity for protection. It was land that is now marshland, actually used for a duck habitat, ducks and geese and wildlife habitat in the Valley. I was very pleased to do it. I believe it was in Kings North riding that that was set aside. I note also that in the press release, Miss Penfound, who is the director responsible, a very professional lawyer, indicates that this will be a process to help speed the process along. Anything to speed it up is great because I remember when we took over, some of those issues in the department were some 10 years old. Dealing with Section 37(1), for example - the minister understands what I am talking about - it was a lot of work to do that so if we can find a way to streamline it, that works.

As long as the security and the integrity of the principle of the Conservation Easements Act is upheld and that the principles that are enshrined within the Act are maintained for the best interests of those who are prepared to make the personal sacrifice and commit lands into these preserves. So I want to say we'll support it, obviously, and I want to thank the minister for trying to find a vehicle to fast-track it, but also to maintain the integrity of the principle of the bill.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak on this particular piece of legislation. It is a very important piece of legislation because any opportunity to reduce red tape and make our laws more user friendly I am certainly in support of, but on the

[Page 6628]

other hand, I hope that the government is not using this particular piece of legislation as an opportunity to make it so easy for certain individuals to circumvent the process, or further incidents of what transpired in some areas of the province, particularly, for example, down in the Eastern Shore with all the concerns that were raised about the salt marsh down in Lawrencetown. (Interruptions)

At least there's one member on the government backbench that's familiar with the violations of the Environment Act and I think that's important, Mr. Speaker, because it is a clear indication that certain members on the government team are aware of the importance of this particular piece of legislation and why the government would want to rush this through. Certainly there are some concerns that were raised by residents in that particular area, more specifically, all the residents in the Lawrencetown area, and it goes right to the heart of this particular piece of legislation, the fact that all those residents along the Eastern Shore in and around the Lawrencetown area voiced their concern and certainly their anxiety about a property developer from Florida causing a considerable amount of environmental damage to the marshlands and to sensitive environmental habitat and wildlife habitat in that area.

I know the member for Preston is a little sensitive on this particular area because he and his colleague, the member for Eastern Shore, really should have been a little more on the ball to ensure that all the concerns of the residents were reflected. I'm not too sure if this particular piece of legislation is going to address that and perhaps they shouldn't be so anxious just to support relaxing the rules and the regulations so as to allow (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I may want to ask the honourable member to get his geography correct, being a former surveyor, he knows the importance of community identity and locations and when I mentioned a few times Seaforth, there is the community of Seaforth which is next to Three Fathom Harbour, which is next to Lawrencetown. So I wish he would get his clarification and directions straight.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, he makes a better politician than he does a surveyor because he's good at driving stakes in people's hearts on the very issue here of protecting the rights and the privileges of the people on environmental issues than he would being a surveyor, I can certainly assure you of that.

Mr. Speaker, his constituents are the ones who are upset with the lack of representation on this environmental issue and concerned about this particular piece of legislation. It is his colleague's constituents from the Eastern Shore who are also concerned about the fact that

[Page 6629]

this government is rushing to lax the environmental regulations in favour of certain friends of the government. That's what the residents in those areas are concerned about and that's why they're concerned about the lack of voice on the government benches on pieces of legislation that seem so user friendly.

Mr. Speaker, that's why they're saying nothing. That's why they're hoping that if the Opposition will get up and offer a few platitudes about the well-intended view of the government and everything looks great on paper, but let's go out into the real world, whether it be in Lawrencetown, whether it be down in Robertsons Marsh in Seaforth, or where have you. The honourable member knows exactly the differential between the two communities, but I was glad to see that at least he was alert to the importance of this particular piece of legislation and maybe that is why he has been so silent on it, much the same as what happened not only in Robertsons Marsh, but also down in the Annapolis Valley in Kings County.

[4:15 p.m.]

You know, Mr. Speaker, that Kings County, and generally the Annapolis Valley, is becoming known as one area of the province that is the most lax when it comes to environmental regulations and protecting sensitive marshland areas; that is a given anytime you talk to anyone in the Annapolis Valley, in particular Kings County. Have we ever heard of Balser marsh and the sensitive environmental concerns that were raised there, not only to the Minister of Environment and Labour, but also to the local MLA who is one and the same? What does he do? He tells the constituents to . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Hang up the phone.

MR. MACKINNON: Hang up the phone, yes, and how does that tie into this particular piece of legislation?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. You almost started to ask the question I was going to ask you. The honourable member is well aware that it is Bill No. 78, the Conservation Easements Act, which is before the House today, and I ask you to bring your comments back to that bill, second reading on the principle of that bill, please. Thank you.

MR. MACKINNON: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I certainly will because it is all about protecting the environment. It is all about protecting our wildlife, our habitat, our ecosystem and that is where the government has fallen flat on its face and, most importantly, the Minister of Environment and Labour who should be at least protecting his constituents when it comes to sensitive pieces of legislation such as this bill that is before the House, and all others, and what have they said and what have they done? They have turned a blind eye to environmental concerns.

[Page 6630]

When we look, Mr. Speaker, at this particular area in Balser Bog and the fact that the Nova Scotia Government had such a major involvement in allowing this environmental disaster to propagate to the situation that it is, you would certainly raise concern about the approbation of this particular piece of legislation without putting it under the microscope. That is the point I want to make, particularly since the Department of Economic Development has even made cash payments to a private developer to be involved in an environmental disastrous area created at the urgings of this government to cover up for mistakes that it made in the year past.

Mr. Speaker, that is why I rise in my place today, to raise concerns about this particular piece of legislation, because it looks good on the surface, it is like a nice cake with lots of icing and sparkles and everything, but cut through it and it may be there for six years and it might rotten; it might be moldy. So you have to look beneath the surface to find out really what the government is trying to approve and accomplish with this particular piece of legislation. Yes, they should keep their heads down on that side, particularly the Cabinet, on the government benches, because it is shameful what they may try to accomplish with this particular piece of legislation.

They are just going to kind of glaze over what is a serious environmental concern in the Annapolis Valley, more particular Kings County, where the chief steward of all environmental concerns should be alert. He should be standing vigilant, he should be protecting the interest of all Nova Scotians and not certain interests that satisfy the political whim of the government, or to try to cover up for mismanagement and the disbursement of taxpayers' money in a highly inappropriate fashion. That is why I am concerned that this bill will ride through all too smoothly.

Yes, we will support it, as my colleague the member for Victoria has stated. We will support that going on to the Law Amendments Committee; it has a lot of good points.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why would you do that?

MR. MACKINNON: Because we want further dialogue. We want this to be examined under the microscope, unlike what is happening on that side. You notice how the member for Preston and the member for the Eastern Shore have absolutely nothing to say on this particular piece of legislation? Why would they? If they walk softly and maybe say nothing, it will go away. Maybe, just maybe, legislation will help mea culpa. Forgive a few mistakes and a few oversights by the Department of Environment and Labour. There will be some more questions. (Interruptions) Never mind the ramblings of the socialists to the left. We know what kind of a war they would fight, a paper war, at best. They're all talk and no action. At least in the Liberal caucus we're not afraid to stand up and be counted like they are on the government benches sometimes, even though on this particular piece of legislation . . .

[Page 6631]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton West I think is grasping at comments to make about Bill No. 78. I would ask that you bring your comments back to second reading of Bill No. 78 and the principle of the bill, please.

MR. MACKINNON: I believe I may have made my point, albeit a little softly. With those notes having been made, I will certainly be looking forward . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: May I ask you what your point was? Try again.

MR. MACKINNON: Well, there's so many leaders over in the NDP caucus, you don't know how to address them anymore. They got Tommy Douglas on the back here, we got Trotskyite on the front here and you just go on and on and it gets worse as time goes on.

Anyway, I will close my remarks on this particular piece of legislation. Thank you.

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

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciated the comments of the members opposite and they will be taken into consideration. I would like to dispel any fears - this particular piece of legislation deals with individuals who want to protect and conserve specific landmarks and significant ecological landmarks for future generations of Nova Scotians by entering into agreements with approved conservation organizations. I want to assure the members opposite that the department and the government will still retain approval of those organizations and the regulation of those activities that conform to the Conservation Easements Act. In consultation with a number of those groups, I would like to highlight that the Nova Scotia Nature Trust certainly is in agreement with this to help promote private lands coming forward for conservation easements. Areas like the Gap Point would be a fine example of where that's at work effectively for Nova Scotians.

With those few remarks, I would like to close debate on Bill No. 78, the Conservation Easements Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 78. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

[Page 6632]

The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Thank you. I wish to rise on a point of privilege. In Question Period today, I inadvertently misled the House as to my information relative to an offer to take the Quebec Government plane to Victoria. After Question Period, a staff member indicated he had told me of the issue at the time. I wish to provide some additional information in connection with the question.

It was suggested that a member of my office and myself were offered a free ride by Premier Landry of Quebec to attend the annual Premiers' meeting in Victoria last August. Staff in the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs who handled the issue between the two governments contacted Premier Landry's office regarding travel arrangements and the offer of a one-way return trip home from Victoria to Montreal was extended. Due to the timing of the meeting and flight schedules over the long weekend in August, this would have resulted in additional delays and the purchase of a premium price ticket to complete the trip. The information was passed on to me and for the reasons stated, the offer was declined. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The Premier rose on a point of privilege, but I believe it would be more of a clarification of the facts. It was all information stemming from Question Period. Is everybody satisfied (Interruptions) No, it's not a point of privilege.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government's business for today. I would now turn it over to the House Leader from the New Democratic Party, the Official Opposition.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the hours for tomorrow will be from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. We hope to deal with a couple of resolutions, Resolution No. 2121 and Resolution No. 2090. I move that the House do now rise to meet tomorrow at the hour of 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for the House to now adjourn. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

We have reached the moment of interruption. The subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton South.

[Page 6633]

"Therefore be it resolved that the federal NDP Leader Alexa McDonough does not support the actions of Canadian Armed Forces men and women in the war against terrorism and that all Parties in the provincial Legislature should recognize this incontrovertible fact."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

WAR - CAF INVOLVEMENT: MCDONOUGH, ALEXA - STANCE

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the honourable member for Cape Breton South for having won the draw. I would also like to commend him for allowing me to take his place in the debate. Having said that, and I don't mind if our friends to the right want to leave because the door is wide open, they can all go home. The subject matter that was drawn in the draw today read:

"Therefore be it resolved that the federal NDP Leader Alexa McDonough does not support the actions of Canadian Armed Forces men and women in the war against terrorism and that all Parties in the provincial Legislature . . .", all Parties, Mr. Speaker, ". . . should recognize this incontrovertible fact."

In speaking to that, Mr. Speaker, I want to say that what I am about to say is not intended in any way to be anti-Arabic, I just this morning said shokran, to a girl in a convenience store, that's Arabic for thank you. I've studied a bit of it and I know some of the words. I am certainly not speaking against those people who speak Arabic, I am not speaking against Muslims. Turkey which is an almost overwhelmingly Muslim country was one of the original members of NATO when set up in 1949, and I have many friends who have an Arabic or partly Arabic heritage. The member for Cape Breton South and myself grew up in the same neighbourhood in Sydney, we played with the same fellows, and I would say probably at one stage in our lives, there were more of them who were partly Arabic or fully Arabic in descent than there were of any other kind. That's a fact. Anybody who studies our biographies will know that.

I am not speaking against those people at all, and they know that. I am speaking against terrorism, whether it is carried out under the banner of some religion or under some political stripe or some ideology or some other expectation that is inconsistent with reality. What has happened in our world recently has demonstrated the existence of a force that is capable of carrying out some very savage attacks on institutions, governments, society and, above all, people. That is what we're fighting against. It has nothing to do with any religion, nationality or race, none.

[Page 6634]

Mr. Speaker, when these things happened, the federal Leader of the NDP made clear her distaste for any retaliatory action. She said she did not want to see Canada getting involved. Throw the whole thing into the General Assembly of the United Nations was her suggestion, if you want a remedy. Certainly, in that Assembly, and I am not going to name nations because I have friends, I hope, from almost every nationality background you could imagine, but there are nations that in the General Assembly of the United Nations would use that forum as an opportunity to tie this matter up week after week with filibustering, theatrics and generally just making much ado about this rather than taking action.

I realize that in 1950 the United Nations was able to take action against communist aggression in Korea. That was because at that time Comrade Stalin had decided not to participate in the United Nations and not only the USSR but also the People's Democracy all withdrew from the United Nations and took no part in its deliberations at that time, which enabled a UN force to be set up to go into Korea and rescue South Korea from the aggression carried on from the north. The United Nations worked in 1950. It will not work today in 2001 because of the fact there are so many more nations today than there were back then. There is no longer a division of the camps between the communist world and the capitalist world. There are new strains and stresses that have arisen and we cannot depend on the General Assembly of the United Nations to deal with this matter in any speedy or resolute way at all. Therefore, in my view, that suggestion is a cop-out. It's saying we really shouldn't do anything, just walk away from it, and I don't support that at all, neither does the Government of Canada, Mr. Speaker, neither do the people of Canada.

[4:30 p.m.]

A recent opinion poll by the Leger organization found that over 80 per cent of Canadians support Prime Minister Jean Chretien in this matter, and only 11 per cent supported Alexa McDonough's position - 80 per cent versus 11 per cent. Which Party speaks for the people of this country, the Liberal Party. That's the Party that speaks for this country. That's the Party, Mr. Speaker, that keeps this country together and I am certainly proud to be supporting it.

The NDP has had a long history of consistent distaste for matters military, for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or for any of the ties that bind us to other democracies on this planet that support the kind of government we have here in Canada. Even, although when NATO was set up in 1949, one of the founding Parties there was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the Prime Minister of that country at that time was Clement Attlee who was the Leader of the Labour Party of Great Britain. The Labour Party, you see, has more of a mainstream approach than the NDP takes. It doesn't set itself off from British society as being a far-flown left wing sect. Instead, it tries to speak for the general rank and file and, by doing that, has become acceptable . . .

[Page 6635]

AN HON. MEMBER: Ask Margaret Thatcher . . .

MR. MACEWAN: Well, I have seen Margaret Thatcher and I've seen Dennis Thatcher, her husband, who walks three steps behind her, but I am not going to get sidetracked on that one right now.

AN HON. MEMBER: You would probably do the same thing.

MR. MACEWAN: I would probably do the same thing. I would stay six steps behind her. Anyway, we have seen that the New Democratic Party has been very half-hearted, and by the New Democratic Party I mean its federal Leader. That's who I'm talking about here. I'm not talking about Peter Stoffer. I'm not talking about Darrell Dexter; I know I'm not supposed to call him by his name, but the honourable Leader of that Party. I'm not talking about those people. I'm talking about Alexa McDonough, and that these other members of the NDP would say, well, now we should support our soldiers; we should support our sailors, we support their families all the way. They do not fail to go the distance and say we oppose Alexa McDonough and the things she has said on this matter (Interruption)

I think the time has come, Mr. Speaker, to set this matter in some perspective because it is time that the people have a right to know. (Interruptions) I must say this. I am certainly no supporter of Osama bin Laden, but I can tell you that Osama bin Laden has made his pronouncement on throwing the whole matter into the hands of the United Nations and his pronouncement was that that proposition was infidelism. That was his pronouncement - infidelism.

AN HON. MEMBER: So you're siding with bin Laden?

MR. MACEWAN: No I'm not, but bin Laden is not siding with Alexa, that's the point. He would if he had his way, I suppose, have her stoned, but I'm not proposing that either. I am saying, sir, that it is time that a respnsible political Party in Canada took this democracy of ours seriously and supported the actions of the government we have that is attempting to maintain law and order internationally; a very difficult assignment, one that requires the support of all Canadians of goodwill. I might say, sir, in response to the stand taken by the United States, by Great Britain and by NATO, that there are many Muslims speaking in countries in the workd, for example, Pakistan, which is supporting to a greater or lesser extent the efforts that are now being taken to deal with this terrorist attack and Tajikistan and other Muslim countries in that area.

So, sir, with only a minute left, all I can say is that we in the Liberal Party support the United States, we support NATO and the NDP does not. That is the difference.

[Page 6636]

I think that our men and women in the Armed Forces deserve better than half-hearted platitudes; they require full support by the very fact that their cause is just. Therefore, sir, I say that the failure of the provincial NDP to condemn their federal Leader for her half-hearted support of our women and men at arms and her half-hearted support for western democracy is a moral failure, in my view, on the part of the Nova Scotia NDP. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure for me to rise tonight to speak on this resolution. I hope to add more to the comments that were previously made by the member for Cape Breton Nova. That honourable member has a steep history and tradition in this House, and also beyond this House, in regard to his friends across this country and his friends in the United Nations and beyond. He knows that terrorism and hatred come in many colours and also in many religions. That is one thing we have to face, that the reality in this world - it is not a beautiful world that we all live in and therefore we have to deal with some of these horrific situations.

I was appalled to hear the comments that were made by Alexa McDonough in Ottawa in regard to what we should be doing. On October 17th when Operation Apollo left our harbour, I happened to be standing on the dock with a lot of the citizens of this province. To my physical right and proverbial right was Stockwell Day, and to my physical left and proverbial left was Alexa McDonough as we stood there and watched the ships go out of the harbour. To see them all participate in that event - it was good to see that we had solidarity in regard to seeing our countrymen off to sea, but I was appalled before that day to hear Alexa on an open radio show, CBC's Cross Country Checkup, talking about whether we should have the deployments or not.

The philosophy of the NDP - in my opinion, they sometimes like to be idealistic. They want to be throwing bouquets all the time, but this time we have to throw a few bricks. They prefer to drop blossoms, but this time we have to drop some bombs. We must meet force with force. Terrorism cannot take over the world. We must have democracy, freedom and security for all nations in this world.

Mr. Speaker, we recently saw an editorial cartoon that was in The Chronicle-Herald on November 5, 2001.

AN HON. MEMBER: They were turkeys and not geese.

MR. HENDSBEE: Well, I don't know if they were turkeys or geese. I thought they might have been ostriches who finally pulled their heads out of the sand. And they said: Why don't we just Royal Commission terrorists to their knees? That was an NDP banner one of them looked like a depiction of Alexa McDonough. I am disappointed that satire of political

[Page 6637]

people has to be done like that, but the issue is the deployment of Canadian military personnel to fight terrorism.

Those horrific events of September 11th are going to be remarked and remembered by everybody. We as the PC caucus were on that day going up to Cape Breton for an out-of-town caucus meeting. That was the talk when we got up there, what we saw on television, and we just couldn't believe it. We had a bus of tourists from the United States at the same place that we were staying, at the Margaree Lodge. I asked a couple of people there and they just couldn't believe what they were watching on TV. They were crying and they said they were happy to be in Nova Scotia, they were happy to be in Canada where it was safe, but they were cutting their trip short. They had to go home to be with their families and their loved ones.

Here on our own shores we had to see our own troops, our own men and women, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, leave our harbour to go to the Arabian Sea. We saw the Iroquois, Preserver and - Halifax was already en route - Charlottetown. Also we recently had, I believe, the Vancouver on the West Coast, leave to fight off terrorism threats that are upon us now. As true Nova Scotians we rise to the occasion. We honoured our men and women at sea and we saw them go proudly. We all wished them Godspeed and a speedy return. As the Prime Minister stated, they are our heroes. He also wished them Bravo Zulu, good luck and make sure they come back safe.

I want to say to the member for Cape Breton Nova that it is not just the Liberal Party of Canada that supports our military; the PC Party of Canada, the Alliance and the Bloc Quebecois also stated their support. (Interruption) The PC Democratic representative, yes, that group, too.

I can also say that Mr. Joe Clark, who is probably one of our best-renowned External Affairs Ministers did speak eloquently about the issues. I also think he brought the issues to the forefront for the House of Commons to deal with. I believe that Mr. Manley, our current Minister of External Affairs and the Prime Minister have followed Mr. Clark's advice on a lot of things. I am glad to see that we are finally moving forward.

As we move forward we also have to think of the sacrifices our families will be going through. Those families in the military will be missing a lot of special occasions. They just missed Halloween, they are going to miss our Remembrance Day ceremonies coming up this week; they will miss Christmas and New Year's; they will miss Yom Kippur, Valentine's Day, Easter and everything else. We hope our troops will come back soon and celebrate those holidays with their families when they do arrive.

[Page 6638]

Mr. Speaker, it is the horrors of war that make us take the actions we have to take. I hope that the consciousness of the NDP, both provincially and federally, will realize that. I was happy to see, for the first time, that all three Parties on our first day back in the Legislature all stood in unison. It was good to see the NDP caucus in this province finally come forward and try to separate themselves from Alexa McDonough. They proudly wore their red, white and blue ribbons that day. I am glad to see they are trying to show support for the metro families that are in the military. I wish they were still wearing those ribbons today.

I hope we move forward, and with the upcoming ceremonies this weekend for Remembrance Day and all the cenotaphs and all the Legions across this province, I hope we also take time out to reflect on those military families who are not with us today because they are out there doing their duty to this country.

Mr. Speaker, there comes to mind a couple of the lines in that famous poem, Flanders Fields;

"To you from failing hands we throw

The torch, be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die.

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields."

Mr. Speaker, I hope that our brave men and women in the Canadian military who have taken up the challenge and go through the gauntlet and have made a commitment to protect Canada's borders in its aid of peacekeeping around the world and, as true Canadian heroes, we will be forever grateful.

Mr. Speaker, I was proud to be on the docks that day when all our provincial and federal leaders said goodbye and good luck. I can't wait for the day to say, welcome home. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, normally at this time I would begin the debate by reading the resolution but I am not going to do that today because I think that this resolution is such an incredible waste of this province's time that I don't intend to do that.

[Page 6639]

Mr. Speaker, I don't know if the member for Cape Breton Nova has ever stood the post; I don't know if the member for Cape Breton Nova has ever kept the midnight watch; I don't know if the members on this side of the House have ever had the opportunity to wear the Queen's Commission, I don't know. I only know that I have.

Now, I don't know if the members over here have had the opportunity to slog through basic training. (Interruptions) You see, they don't even want to hear this, Mr. Speaker, because the whole point of this resolution is to undermine democracy, that is what they are trying to do. They are trying to shut out the opinions of people, trying to undermine the very instrument of our democracy. That is wrong.

I don't know, Mr. Speaker, if any of these people have had the opportunity I have had to go through basic training, to run the obstacle course, to stand on a graduation parade with a group of friends and to watch while others receive their commissions. I only know that I had the opportunity to count among my lifelong friends members of the current Armed Forces and those who have served. That is what I know. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, perhaps he has, perhaps the members on this side - it is clear they don't want to listen, they want to continue the same way. They wouldn't participate on the debate around the Strait Regional School Board, they don't want to participate in this debate. They want to try to suppress debate, that is what they want to do. Perhaps it is simply that they have forgotten that the duty of every service person is to support the government, the instrument of our democracy.

[4:45 p.m.]

I want to get back to the substance of the resolution in a minute, but I think, first of all, I want to set some of the background because I think the drafting of this resolution and its presentation here today speaks volumes about those who would introduce it. So I want to spend a few minutes on background, Mr. Speaker. Service personnel are told from the day that they enlist that they have answered the call of duty, that regardless of political persuasion, their first allegiance is to heed the call of their country, whether it is in peacetime postings, whether it is as aid to civil power, whether it is in action in peacekeeping missions or whether it is in theatres of conflict around the world they serve. They serve in all those capacities and they do so without reservation.

Mr. Speaker, military officers live under a code. They live under a code which is often represented, and perhaps members here don't know this, but they are represented by the acronym HILO. It stands for honesty, integrity, loyalty and obedience. For as long as there has been a standing force, there have been men and women who have joined the corps, who have accepted this creed and who have served this country with distinction. Today, I stood with many others at Pier 21 to watch the presentation of peacekeeping medals to 10 former

[Page 6640]

members of our Armed Forces. They served in Cyprus, in Bosnia and in Kosovo, just to name a few.

Since 1957, Canada's peacekeepers have been in service around the world and they have been a source of pride, not only to Canadians, but to the international community at large. Lester Pearson, someone the Liberal Party would know of, won the Nobel Peace Prize - and I believe it was in 1957 - for the inspiration of that very thing, of peacekeepers. Canadians continue to swell with pride of the impact that this force has had on the events far from our shores. All of this, Mr. Speaker, is to underline that these people are committed to democracy. They are committed to the notion that for democracy to function, there must be a form for debate that canvasses and respects all opinions. This is the promise of the very word democracy. It holds that out to all of us.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, there are those apparently here in the Liberal caucus who would seek to tear down democracy, who would seek to say that there is room for only one opinion and it is theirs. They would castigate, and they do castigate even now, those who would dare to shed the light of caution and reason on a national debate. It is hard to believe that they would do this huge disservice and fundamentally they fail to recognize and respect the very work that the servicemen and women are doing. They attack the very basis of the service of these men and women. It is a terrible shame. They should be ashamed that they would use this time to try to narrow political sniping. You see, they can't do it. All they want is narrow, political sniping. They want to abuse the privilege that they are being given by the service people who are now in the Arabian Sea and they could use their time to reaffirm their commitment, as we have, to the military personnel and to their families and to those who are left in our community. That is what they could do, but instead, they engage in the shameful undermining of the very democracy that these people are set forth to defend.

Mr. Speaker, that is what they are doing. (Interruptions) They could undertake, like my colleague, the member for Timberlea-Prospect, to turn their offices into satellite organizations for the families of military personnel. They could do that, or they could use the elements of democracy that we are granted through the work of these people to enter into the debate, for example, this afternoon on the Straight Regional School Board, but they won't do that, they won't do that. (Interruptions).

Indeed, they think it is patriotic to debase the work that these men and women do. Well, I don't think so. (Interruptions). Just for the record I want to read into to the record - how much time do I have?

MR. SPEAKER: Two minutes.

[Page 6641]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, these are the words of Alexa McDonough: As we reflect on the contribution of Canada's veterans today, today's generation of military men and women are sailing to the Arabian Sea to carry out the duties to which they have been assigned in the campaign against terrorism. These members of our Armed Forces go with our prayers for safe passage and speedy return to their loved ones who are all too often forgotten whether in military operations, peacekeeping missions, or humanitarian services. They put their lives on the line and for this they deserve our full respect and support.

For the record, that is what Alexa McDonough has to say. Canadians are well served by Alexa McDonough, they are - I believe not only is it her courage and thoughtfulness that are serving well the people of this country, but what she is doing in her capacity as the federal Leader is admired, I believe, by many across this country. In fact, in opposition to this, I think they are ashamed that the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia - they would be ashamed and dismayed that the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia would attempt through resolutions like this to diminish our democracy. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond. You have about, actually . . .

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be able to rise and to say a few words. The speaker has been quite clear, Alexa McDonough has said she opposes military action. The NDP provincial caucus has continued to refer to our men and women as peacekeepers who are going over there on a peacekeeping mission.

Mr. Speaker, we are at war, this country is at war. We support that war effort, we support our men and women not as peacekeepers but going to defend us as part of a war, that is the purpose of this resolution. They had an opportunity to say that they support our men and women going off to war to protect our country, to protect democracy. They continue to mock them by calling them peacekeepers going on a humanitarian mission. This is a war, we are proud to be participating in that. We have family members, our caucus members have brothers and sisters in the military. We are proud . . .

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Richmond will bring himself to order.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Emotions may be running a little bit high, but I would like to, through you, request that the member withdraw his comment where he said referring to those in our military who serve as peacekeepers is mocking them. Those certainly who are serving in whatever capacity whether it be in the current theatre, whether it be in one of the peacekeeping activities that we have been involved in, to suggest that you are mocking them

[Page 6642]

when you refer to our men and women who are serving us and this world as peacekeepers is mocking them. I would ask that he withdraw that comment.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The time allotted for the late debate has expired. The House is adjourned until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. (Interruptions)

[The House rose at 4:54 p.m.]

[Page 6643]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 2179

By: Mr. Cecil O'Donnell (Shelburne)

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

Whereas Acadian Seaplants Limited has been awarded the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters' Canadian Innovation Award for Technology in recognition of its world-class research and development of new products and manufacturing processes; and

Whereas from its Shelburne County operation, ASL cultivates and then processes edible seaweeds - changing their colour and texture without altering the flavour - for sale in the Asian food market; and

Whereas Acadian Seaplants Limited began as a one product, one customer operation but, in 20 years, has developed a sustainable industry and now has three operations and is one of the world's largest independent manufacturers of seaweed-based specialty products;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate President Louis Deveau and the talented staff at Acadian Seaplants Limited on their recent award and applaud their innovation which is the key to success in our global economy.

RESOLUTION NO. 2180

By: Hon. James Muir (Minister of Health)

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

Whereas the Stanley Clyke Memorial Award for Excellence in Community Development in the African Nova Scotian community of Colchester County commemorates the Truro native's work in the Black community of Montreal in the 1940's, 1950's and 1960's; and

Whereas Stanley Clyke, a 1931 graduate of Acadia University, graduated with a BSW from McGill University in 1947 and became the Executive Director of the Negro Community Centre and his work in that position earned him the title of Mr. Social Worker; and

[Page 6644]

Whereas Stanley Clyke is remembered not only for the exemplary programs developed at the centre but for his capacity building in the Black community of Montreal through the creation of public and private partnerships;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the wonderful model of community development demonstrated by Truro native Stanley Clyke and thank Oliver Management Connexus Inc. for remembering a great Nova Scotian in a way which recognizes a person who exemplifies the qualities of Stanley Clyke.

RESOLUTION NO. 2181

By: Mr. Cecil Clarke (Cape Breton North)

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

Whereas the pain and horror felt around the world at the devastation wrought on New York City was felt keenly by adults and children everywhere; and

Whereas children at St. Joseph's Elementary School in Sydney Mines faced their fears, sadness and uncertainty by immediately reaching out to their American neighbours with comfort and by spreading the message of peace; and

Whereas as members of the League of Peaceful Schools, St. Joseph's students expressed their empathy and support in word and in song which they taped, to share with school children in New York City, Mayor Giuliani and President Bush;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the students and staff of St. Joseph's Elementary School for their thoughtful actions and proudly acknowledge children across this province who have shown such remarkable compassion and deep sympathy for their American neighbours during what has been a frightening and chaotic time.

RESOLUTION NO. 2182

By: Mr. Cecil Clarke (Cape Breton North)

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

Whereas physical activity is vital to children's physical, mental and social growth and development; it builds self-esteem and a positive self-image and strengthens concentration and improves learning while helping children share and co-operate with each other; and

[Page 6645]

Whereas on October 2nd millions of students, parents, teachers and community leaders from around the world participated in the second annual International Walk to School Day for good health, good safety and a stronger sense of community; and

Whereas the aim of the students and staff at St. Joseph's Elementary School in Sydney Mines was to promote safer streets and healthier habits for all students;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend these students for their participation in the International Walk to School Day and applaud the principal and staff for encouraging the spirit of physical fitness and for taking the opportunity to promote the safety of their students along the roads of Sydney Mines.

RESOLUTION NO. 2183

By: Hon. Angus MacIsaac (Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas many Nova Scotians opened their hearts and their wallets to help the thousands of people affected by the tragic events of September 11th; and

Whereas St. Francis Xavier students organized a 45 minute Walk Against Terrorism in Antigonish that raised more than $500; and

Whereas about 75 people took part in the Walk Against Terrorism that was led by members of the Antigonish Fire Department;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature commend the students at St. Francis Xavier and the members of the Antigonish Fire Department who organized and took part in the Walk Against Terrorism.

RESOLUTION NO. 2184

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas students and staff of the West End Memorial and Junction Road Elementary Schools in Springhill will hold their fifth annual Remembrance Day services this year; and

[Page 6646]

Whereas these students and staff will hold these services on Thursday, November 8, 2001, to pay tribute to those who fought to keep Canada a free and democratic country; and

Whereas the students will recite speeches they have written with awards being provided by the members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 17 of Springhill;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate the students and staff of the Springhill elementary schools for their effort to ensure we never forget the sacrifices made to Canada by those who fought in conflicts.