Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 01/02-85

HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

Published by Order of the Legislature by Hansard Reporting Services and printed by the Queen's Printer.

Available on INTERNET at http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/hansard/

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

Second Session

TUESDAY, APRIL 16, 2002

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS 8371
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Justice - Victims Services: Funding Changes - Oppose, Mr. D. Dexter 8372
Commun. Serv. - Transition Houses: Cuts - Oppose,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8372
Commun. Serv. - Transition Houses: Cuts - Oppose,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8372
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Environ. & Lbr.: Workers' Compensation Statutory Review Comm. -
Dorsey Report, Hon. D. Morse 8373
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3124, Murphy, Margaret: Service (25 yrs.) - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Russell 8374
Vote - Affirmative 8374
Res. 3125, Tourism & Culture - Via Destinations Magazine:
C.B. & Hfx. - Recognition, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8374
Vote - Affirmative 8375
Res. 3126, Finlay, Dr. Gordon: Honour - Congrats., Hon. E. Fage 8375
Vote - Affirmative 8376
Res. 3127, Agric. & Fish. - Info./Educ./Collaboration: Importance -
Recognize, Hon. E. Fage 8376
Vote - Affirmative 8377
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3128, C.B. Screaming Eagles: Victory - Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 8377
Vote - Affirmative 8378
Res. 3129, C.B. - Screaming Eagles: Coaches/Players - Congrats.,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8378
Vote - Affirmative 8378
Res. 3130, C.B. Screaming Eagles: Victory - Congrats., Mr. C. Clarke 8379
Vote - Affirmative 8379
Res. 3131, Commun. Serv. - Funding: Fin. Min. - Restore,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8379
Res. 3132, École Stella-Maris Choir: Stars of Christmas Prog. -
Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 8380
Vote - Affirmative 8381
Res. 3133, Chronicle-Herald/Dennis Fam.: Expansion - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Purves 8381
Vote - Affirmative 8382
Res. 3134, Educ. - East. Pass. HS: Need - Recognize, Mr. K. Deveaux 8382
Res. 3135, Health: Dental Health Month (04/02) - Recognize,
Dr. J. Smith 8383
Vote - Affirmative 8383
Res. 3136, Murdock, Sam/McCarron, Leo - Hockey: Commitment -
Commend, Mr. J. DeWolfe 8383
Vote - Affirmative 8384
Res. 3137, Sadler, Kim - C.B. Transition House: Crisis Counsellor/
Prog. Coordinator - Applaud, Mr. F. Corbett 8384
Vote - Affirmative 8385
Res. 3138, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Rail Service: C.B. - Loss Prevent,
Mr. P. MacEwan 8385
Res. 3139, Mulgrave Vol. FD: Contributions - Recognize,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 8386
Vote - Affirmative 8387
Res. 3140, Mosher, Anne: PanCanadian Student Choice Award -
Congrats., Mr. H. Epstein 8387
Vote - Affirmative 8387
Res. 3141, MacRae Home Hardware: Dealers Award - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Boudreau 8387
Vote - Affirmative 8388
Res. 3142, Williams, Freda/Thomas, Nola/Gough, Joyce/Colley, Marian:
Contributions - Congrats., Mr. D. Hendsbee 8388
Vote - Affirmative 8389
Res. 3143, Educ. - Macdonald, Sir John A., HS: Overcrowding -
Solution, Mr. W. Estabrooks 8389
Res. 3144, Dobbin, Kaitlyn/Neal, Robyn/Bennett, Laurel:
Accomplishments - Congrats., Mr. D. Wilson 8390
Vote - Affirmative 8390
Res. 3145, MacKay, Ashley/Dunn, Michael/March, Patrick/Fraser, Sean:
Wendy's Scholarships - Congrats., Mrs. M. Baillie 8390
Vote - Affirmative 8391
Res. 3146, Doncasler, Heather - Autumn House: Women's Support
Counsellor - Applaud, Mr. Robert Chisholm 8391
Vote - Affirmative 8392
Res. 3147, Luke's Landing: Contributors - Congrats., Mr. D. Downe 8392
Vote - Affirmative 8393
Res. 3148, Moser, Friedel: Truro Chamber of Comm. Business
Person (2001) - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 8393
Vote - Affirmative 8393
Res. 3149, Maple Hill Manor: Anniv. (25th) - Congrats., Mr. F. Corbett 8394
Vote - Affirmative 8394
Res. 3150, Rae, Bob: NDP Positions - Disassociation, Mr. P. MacEwan 8394
Res. 3151, Crosby, Kenneth: PanCanadian Student Choice Award -
Congrats., Mr. H. Epstein 8395
Vote - Affirmative 8396
Res. 3152, Maier, Anna - Int'l. Dev.: Endeavours - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker 8396
Vote - Affirmative 8396
Res. 3153, Briand-Evans, Zachary - Encounters With Can.:
Participation - Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 8397
Vote - Affirmative 8397
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Tourism & Culture: Arts Council - Reinstate, Mr. D. Downe 8398
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 877, Fin.: Family Violence - Funding, Mr. D. Dexter 8398
No. 878, Commun. Serv. - Fam. Violence Serv.: Partners - Name,
Mr. D. Wilson 8400
No. 879, Fin. - Min.: Figures - Accuracy Check, Mr. G. Steele 8401
No. 880, Econ. Dev. - C.B. Rail Service: Continuance - Ensure,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8402
No. 881, Health - Underfunding: Physician Exodus - Correlation,
Mr. D. Dexter 8403
No. 882, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Rail Service: Truro to Sydney - Ensure,
Mr. P. MacEwan 8405
No. 883, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Rail Service (C.B.): Preservation -
Plans, Mr. F. Corbett 8407
No. 884, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Vehicle Compliance: Contracting -
Costs Table, Mr. B. Boudreau 8408
No. 885, Agric. & Fish. - Grain & Forage Producers: Crisis - Resolve,
Mr. J. MacDonell 8409
No. 886, Tourism & Culture - Arts Council: Endowment Fund - Plans,
Mr. D. Downe 8410
No. 887, Commun. Serv.: Nahaum House - Funding, Mr. J. Pye 8411
No. 888, Health - Valley DHA: Business Plans - Impact, Dr. J. Smith 8412
No. 889, Commun. Serv. - Transition Houses/Women's Centres:
Meeting - Participants, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8413
No. 890, Educ. - Barrington Mun. HS: Problems - Action, Mr. W. Gaudet 8414
No. 891, Educ. - Barrington Mun. HS: Problems - Address,
Mr. K. Deveaux 8416
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. F. Corbett 8417
Mr. P. MacEwan 8420
Mr. M. Parent 8424
Mr. J. Carey 8425
Mr. J. Chataway 8426
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:30 P.M. 8428
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:00 P.M. 8428
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Rail Service: CBRM - Importance:
Mr. P. MacEwan 8429
Mr. D. Downe 8430
Mr. F. Corbett 8432
Mr. H. Epstein 8433
Hon. G. Balser 8434
Mr. C. Clarke 8436
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 6:30 P.M. 8437
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:00 P.M. 8437
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 112, Gas Distribution Act 8438
Mr. H. Epstein 8438
Adjourned debate 8451
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Apr. 17th at 2:00 p.m. 8452
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3154, Williams, Freda - Contributions: Recognition - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Hendsbee 8453
Res. 3155, Gough, Joyce - Contributions: Recognition - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Hendsbee 8453
Res. 3156, Thomas, Nola - Contributions: Recognition - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Hendsbee 8454
Res. 3157, Colley, Marian - Contributions: Recognition - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Hendsbee 8454

[Page 8371]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, APRIL 16, 2002

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, I would like to bring all honourable members' attention to the east gallery. Today we have with us approximately 39 students from Grade 9 and Grade 10 at Springhill High School in Springhill. (Applause) They're here today to watch some of the proceedings in the House and, as well, to visit a couple of other sites while they are in Halifax. They had the opportunity to meet the honourable Minister of Education, which they appreciated very much, and have a tour of Province House. They're accompanied by Mr. Omer Bouchois and Ms. Audrey Morris who are teachers at Springhill High School. I would ask them to rise and receive the usual warm welcome of the House, please. (Standing Ovation)

I thank all members for that encouragement. Thank you very much. We hope you enjoy your stay this afternoon in the Legislature (Interruption) and the support.

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 without rail service, manufacturing in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality will wither and no new manufacturing will be attracted to the area.

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

8371

[Page 8372]

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition composed of 1,101 personally signed letters, the operative clause which reads, "I strongly object to the proposed changes to the funding of services for victims of family violence in the province and to Leeside in particular. I call upon you to reinstate funding levels of the 2002 fiscal year immediately. The lives of women and children in Nova Scotia depend on it." These are presented on behalf of the people of Port Hawkesbury, Richmond and Inverness Counties and the one that I've just read is signed by Colin Campbell, the Bishop of Antigonish. I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition, the operative clause which reads "To the members of the Legislature Assembly, MLAs of Cumberland County. Autumn House, also known as Cumberland Country Transition House Association, and the New Directions Program, a program for men who have abusive behaviours, are under attack by the provincial government's proposed cuts. These organizations work closely together to provide quality services and programs to women, children, teens and men in our Cumberland County community. We, as citizens, insist that the government rollback these cuts and enter into a meaningful dialogue about responsible funding for our community-based services. We call upon our two Members of the Legislative Assembly, Honourable Murray Scott, Speaker of the House, and Honourable Ernest Fage, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Natural Resources, to ensure that these cuts are not realized."

Mr. Speaker, this petition has been signed by 2,030 residents and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition, the operative clause which reads "Being safe is a right and not a privilege! We believe that every Nova Scotian woman should be able to count on shelter and support whenever and wherever it is required. By threatening to reduce or eliminate services provided by transition

[Page 8373]

houses, women's centres and men's treatment programs, we put women and their children at further risk. We therefore urge the government to abandon its plan to limit access and to cut those essential programs and to begin a meaningful dialogue with communities about addressing true need. In our community, Chrysalis House, a valuable and essential resource, helps hundreds of women and children each year - by providing shelter, support, counselling, outreach, and advocacy. Chrysalis House helps the rest of us in the community to understand the complex problem of family violence and how we can all take part in 'breaking the cycle of violence'."

Mr. Speaker, this petition has been signed by 374 persons and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the report of the Workers' Compensation Statutory Review Committee - the Dorsey report.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure on your behalf to give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas an effective Legislative Library is essential . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is a good resolution and we're looking forward to it but, unfortunately, we'll have to wait.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 8374]

RESOLUTION NO. 3124

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Well, certainly it bears repeating anyway, Mr. Speaker.

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

Whereas an effective Legislative Library is essential to the members and operation of this House; and

Whereas we have been blessed with the services of Margaret Murphy as the Chief Legislative Librarian for over 17 years; and

Whereas Margaret has been honoured by the Halifax Association of Law Libraries for 25 years of outstanding service at Dalhousie University, the Department of Justice and latterly the Legislative Library;

Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulate Margaret Murphy on 25 years of exemplary service and extend to her the heartfelt thanks of all members of this House for a job well done.

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. (Standing Ovation)

The record will show that there was a standing ovation for Ms. Murphy who I'm sure is in the library watching at this time.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 3125

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

[Page 8375]

Whereas Cape Breton and Halifax were featured in the March/April issue of Via Destinations Magazine; and

Whereas Halifax was recognized as a "cosmopolitan fun city" and Cape Breton's culture and history were highlighted; and

Whereas Via's magazine has a circulation of over 500,000 with inserts in several national newspapers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members acknowledge the significance of these articles in promoting travel to Nova Scotia and congratulate the people in the tourism industry who make our province the world-class tourism destination that it is.

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 Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 3126

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

Whereas the United Nations is running the Country of Kosovo, an eastern European country ravaged by war and uncertainty, and is encouraging development in many areas, including getting the country's agricultural industry in becoming active again; and

Whereas Dr. Gordon Finlay, Program Veterinarian for the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, has contributed greatly to the field of veterinary pathology during his career, notably working with other specialists in Britain during the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the Spring of 2001, and brings his expertise and knowledge to the work here in Nova Scotia; and

[Page 8376]

Whereas the United Nations invited Dr. Gordon Finlay to work as the international veterinary laboratory expert for three months to assist the Kosovo veterinary services to create plans for resources, equipment, training and personnel to develop its capacity to effectively diagnose animal diseases;

[12:15 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Dr. Finlay for this prestigious honour, considered to be as good as it gets in the agricultural world by Dr. Finlay, recognize his ongoing commitment to international agriculture and wish him a safe return from Kosovo this July.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 3127

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

Whereas farmers of Nova Scotia provide produce and livestock products to the people of Nova Scotia and contribute nearly $1 billion to the provincial economy each year; and

Whereas during four of the past five summers, farmers in Nova Scotia have experienced insufficient rainfall for their crops and livestock; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, in partnership with the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, the Agriculture Development Institute and the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration held a successful workshop engaging farmers on irrigation and water management issues;

[Page 8377]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the importance of information, education, ongoing collaboration, and partnerships to support Nova Scotia farmers in producing high-quality, safe food products.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 3128

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

Whereas Nova Scotia has become a leader in the world of major junior hockey; and

Whereas Halifax and Sydney feature two very good major junior teams who have developed a fierce rivalry for provincial bragging rights, a rivalry reminiscent of the great senior hockey leagues of old; and

Whereas the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles own the bragging rights this year after their victory in the playoff series last evening over an excellent Halifax Mooseheads team;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles for their series victory over the Halifax Mooseheads and laud both teams for their performance in a hard-fought playoff series.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8378]

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. 3129

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

Whereas last night the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles eliminated the Halifax Mooseheads from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs with a decisive 6 to 3 victory at Centre 200 in Sydney; and

Whereas the Eagles took the best of seven Dilio Conference semifinals 4 to 2 and move on to the third round for the first time in their history; and

Whereas the Eagles now move on to face the Bathurst Titans in the third round, starting with Game 1 on the road on Friday;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the coaches and players of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and wish them luck as they face the Bathurst Titans in round three on Friday.

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.

[Page 8379]

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3130

MR. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, in keeping with the theme here, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas with the home fans ecstatic, counting down the last final two minutes of play, the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles pulled off an exhilarating 6 to 3 victory, eliminating the Halifax Mooseheads from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League conference semifinals; and

Whereas this sweet victory was won in six hard-fought games and is the first time the Eagles have advanced to third round play; and

Whereas with such strong rivalry between the Screaming Eagles and the Mooseheads, this smashing win vindicates the Eagles' loyal fans and gets the score straight between two mayors, as well as these teams;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and cheer them on as they face the Acadie-Bathurst Titans.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 3131

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

[Page 8380]

Whereas a $1 million addition error in the budget could have happy consequences for transition houses, women's centres and men's programs if the Minister of Community Services insists that it be used to reverse mean-spirited funding cuts announced in the budget; and

Whereas the Minister responsible for the Status of Women should also add her voice to those who wish to see funding restored for these vital programs; and

Whereas instead of being embarrassed by his lack of basic addition skills, the Minister of Finance can now save face for this government by restoring the needed funding;

Therefore be it resolved that the Legislature instruct the Minister of Finance to do the right thing and restore funding to transition houses, women's centres and men's programs for his $1 million error in the calculation of revenues.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3132

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: M. le Président, par la présente, j'avise que je proposerai à une date ultérieure l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que la chorale de 36 élèves de l'École Stella-Maris s'est méritée la première place dans le programme The Sobeys/Campbell's Stars of Christmas 2001; et

Attendu que le montant de 3 253,90$ a été remis au directeur de l'École, M. Norbert Comeau, pour aider à financer le programme de musique de l'école; et

Attendu que cette chorale est la seule chorale d'expression française qui a été choisie parmi les 150 chorales du Canada atlantique pour participer à l'enregistrement sonore de musique du temps de fêtes;

[Page 8381]

Qu'il soit résolu que cette Assemblée exprime ses félicitations et ses meilleurs voeux aux membres de la chorale de l'École Stella-Maris et au personnel qui a contribué au succès remporté dans le programme Sobeys/Campbell's Stars of Christmas.

M. le Président, je propose l'adoption de cette résolution sans préavis et sans débats.

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

Whereas the 36-student choir from École Stella-Maris in Meteghan was selected as the first place winner in the Sobeys/Campbell's Stars of Christmas 2001 program for Southwestern Nova Scotia; and

Whereas a cheque for $3,253.90, raised through the sale of the Stars of Christmas CD, was presented to the school Principal, Norbett Comeau, to be used for the École Stella-Maris music department; and

Whereas the École Stella-Maris choir was the only francophone choir to be selected to participate in the audition process out of 150 choirs throughout Atlantic Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all members of the École Stella-Maris choir and staff on placing first in the Sobeys/Campbell's Stars of Christmas program and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3133

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

[Page 8382]

Whereas this spring, the Chronicle-Herald begins construction of a state-of-the-art production centre in Atlantic Acres Industrial Park; and

Whereas the centre will house sophisticated computer-controlled WIFAG OF370 presses, the first of their kind in Canada; and

Whereas the presses, slated to start running in late 2003, will offer brighter colour and sharper images, enhancing the quality of the newspaper for readers and advertisers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Dennis family and the staff of The Chronicle-Herald on this exciting expansion of their business and thank them for having confidence in the provincial economy and investing in Nova Scotia's future.

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. 3134

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

Whereas in the recent data from the 2001 Census, Eastern Passage continues to be one of the fastest-growing communities in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the rapid growth in the Dartmouth area will quickly lead to the need for a fifth high school in the area; and

Whereas nearly 600 students are bussed out of Eastern Passage each day to attend Cole Harbour District High School;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the need for a high school in Eastern Passage to prevent school overcrowding in the Dartmouth area.

[Page 8383]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3135

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

Whereas April is designated as Dental Health Month to recognize the importance of preventing dental disease; and

Whereas the Canadian Dental Association is marking 100 years of service and professionalism this year; and

Whereas the Canadian Dental Association, governments and public alike are now recognizing the important links between good dental health and overall health;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the value of Dental Health Month and encourage all Nova Scotians to pursue good health through dental health.

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. 3136

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

Whereas all members of this House realize that no matter who you are, you're only as old as you feel; and

[Page 8384]

Whereas when Sam "The Toad" Murdock and Leo McCarron first began playing hockey in Pictou County, Gordie Howe was still haying on the family farm in Saskatchewan; and

Whereas Sam "The Toad," at 71, and Leo, who will turn 71 in August, continue to play hockey at the Ivor MacDonald Memorial Arena in Thorburn once a week against men half their age;

Therefore be it resolved that since both gentlemen say they will be back to play again next year, Leo reportedly having two years left on his contract, members of this House of Assembly commend both gentlemen for their dedication to the sport of hockey and wish them many more years of enjoyment with the sport.

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. 3137

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

Whereas support services provided by women's centres, transition houses and men's intervention programs are sorely needed to provide services to women for counselling the perpetrators and victims of family violence; and

Whereas Nova Scotians owe much to these front-line workers who, year after year, provide excellent care and support for families; and

Whereas one of those front-line workers is Kim Sadler, a crisis counsellor and program co-ordinator with eleven and one-half years of service, at the Cape Breton Transition House in Sydney;

[Page 8385]

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud Kim Sadler, crisis counsellor and program co-ordinator at the Cape Breton Transition House in Sydney, for the care and support she provides for families.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader in the House for the Liberal Party.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I rise to make an introduction. Seated in your gallery this afternoon is a special individual, the new Leader of the Nova Scotia (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I'm having all kinds of help down here. I'm sure he's no stranger to a lot of these people sitting down below, but Mr. Danny Graham was chosen by the Party membership last weekend to be the new Leader of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party and I would like to ask him to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Standing Ovation)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. It's certainly an honour on (Interruptions) Order, please. Mr. Graham, I guess you will have to get used to this. It is certainly an honour on behalf of all members to welcome you, sir, to the Speaker's Gallery today and to the House.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 3138

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

Whereas the latest result of the closure of the Sydney Steel Corporation by the Hamm Government that was brought to power by NDP finagling in 1999 is that the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railroad seeks to suspend operations east of Port Hawkesbury; and

Whereas the known reaction of the Hamm Government to this news is a yawn as Cabinet Ministers disturb not their slumber to demonstrate any air of urgency; and

[Page 8386]

Whereas any hope of taking Cape Breton past the land of tourism and call centres lies in maintaining and preserving its rail link to the rest of Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that this apparent response of this Hammite Government to loss of rail service in Cape Breton is inexcusable, and that this House calls on those procrastinating sleepers opposite to get with it and take action to see that such a loss does not happen.

[12:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 3139

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

Whereas earlier this winter the Mulgrave Fire Department handed out service awards to volunteer firefighters with years of dedicated service; and

Whereas four of the firefighters honoured were presented with gold watches and honoured for their longtime service: Walter Crant, 28 years; Lorne MacDonald, 26 years; Chief Michael Breen, 23 years; and Melvin Morris, 22 years of service; and

Whereas the Mulgrave Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary was also honoured for its many years of dedicated service with 25 year-pins being awarded to Anna Ryan and Frances Crant;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the tremendous contributions undertaken by the Mulgrave Volunteer Fire Department and wish them many years of continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 8387]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 3140

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

Whereas Ann Mosher, a Grade 7 English and Social Studies teacher at Oxford School, recently received the PanCanadian Student Choice Award, Grades 7 to 9 category; and

Whereas teachers who receive the PanCanadian Student Choice Award are nominated by their students for recognition of teaching excellence both inside and outside the classroom; and

Whereas Ms. Mosher is highly regarded by both her fellow staff members and the students whom she has taught, one of whom nominated her to receive this award;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate teacher Ann Mosher of Oxford School in Halifax for receiving the PanCanadian Student Choice Award, Grades 7 to 9 category, and recognize that she has been cited by her students for her contribution to their education, a rare honour afforded to teachers.

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 The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 3141

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

[Page 8388]

Whereas MacRae Home Hardware of North Sydney has been awarded top honours as one of the best Home Hardware dealers in Canada; and

Whereas this is the second time since 1999 that this store has been cited among 963 dealers from coast to coast as achieving the highest standards in retailing merchandise presentation, staff performance and the overall quality of the store; and

Whereas the store was opened in North Sydney in 1991 by Carl and Shirley MacRae;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Carl and Shirley MacRae and the MacRae Home Hardware staff in North Sydney on their achievement and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 3142

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

Whereas the 22nd Annual Women's Recognition Luncheon, honouring women who, through selflessness and determination have touched the hearts of many, will be held on Thursday, April 18, 2002; and

Whereas all proceeds from the luncheon will go to support the YWCA family and childcare programs, wellness centre and women's accommodations; and

Whereas Freda Williams, Nola Thomas and Joyce Gough, all of East Preston, and Marian Colley of North Preston are four of approximately a dozen women who will be honoured at the luncheon for their extensive and varied volunteer work in their communities;

[Page 8389]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Freda Williams, Nola Thomas, Joyce Gough and Marian Colley on this tremendous recognition for their significant contributions to their community and province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3143

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

Whereas planning for schools must be in place for a growing community with many young families; and

Whereas the new Westgate development in Timberlea and expanding subdivisions on the Hammonds Plains Road and Prospect Road mean more students for schools in the Timberlea-Prospect constituency; and

Whereas the overcrowding problems at Sir John A. Macdonald High School, whose students are attending C.P. Allen High School on a split shift, must be addressed;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education show leadership and tell the students, staff and parents of Timberlea-Prospect how her department will solve the overcrowding at Sir John A. Macdonald High School.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 8390]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 3144

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

Whereas winners were crowned in three pageant divisions recently at the Savoy Theatre in Glace Bay; and

Whereas Laurel Bennett was crowned Little Miss Cape Breton Princess 2002; and

Whereas Kaitlyn Dobbin was crowned Miss Pre-Teen Cape Breton 2002 and Robyn Neal was crowned Miss Teen Cape Breton International 2002;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Kaitlyn Dobbin, Robyn Neal and Laurel Bennett on their recent accomplishments and wish them continued success in all future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3145

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

[Page 8391]

Whereas Wendy's Restaurants 2002 Classic Achiever High School Scholarship Awards Program awards $1,000 to educational scholarships to Maritime high school students each year; and

Whereas from over 250 nominations submitted by high school principals and 36 semi-finalists and 12 finalists, four Pictou County students have been so honoured; and

Whereas the nominees are all-around students and chosen not only for their top academics, but also for their extracurricular activities and volunteer participation in the community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Ashley Mackay of West Pictou High, chosen as a semifinalist along with finalists, Michael Dunn of New Glasgow High School, Patrick March of Pictou Academy and Sean Fraser of East Pictou High for their efforts which have ranked them as classic achievers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 3146

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

Whereas the support services provided by women's centres, transition houses and men's intervention programs are sorely needed to provide services to women and for counselling the perpetrators and victims of family violence; and

Whereas Nova Scotians owe much to these front-line workers who year after year provide excellent care and support for families; and

[Page 8392]

Whereas one of these front-line workers is Heather Doncasler, a women's support counsellor with seven years of service at Autumn House in Amherst;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud Heather Doncasler, a women's support counsellor, at Autumn House in Amherst for the care and support she provides to families.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3147

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

Whereas on Tuesday, March 19, 2002, the IWK held a very special event with the official opening of its helipad; and

Whereas Ms. Crystal Delorey of Windsor, Nova Scotia, raised $10,000 in memory of her son, Luke, so that others could benefit from speedier access to emergency treatment; and

Whereas Abbott Laboratories donated $1 million to ensure that Lukes Landing became a reality;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend our thanks to Ms. Crystal Delorey, Abbott Laboratories, staff of the IWK and members of the community for their new addition which will further improve pre-hospital care for infants and children.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 8393]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3148

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

Whereas Friedel Moser, owner and operator of Fundy Textile and Design Ltd., has been named Business Person of the Year for 2001 by the Truro and District Chamber of Commerce; and

Whereas Friedel Moser, who came to Truro from Germany in 1981 looked for work, saw the need for a quality garment screening service and established a production facility in her home with used equipment; and

Whereas, today, Fundy Textile and Design Ltd. occupies nearly 40,000 square feet of space, employs more than 120 people, and is the largest screen-printing and embroidery house east of Montreal;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Friedel Moser on being named Business Person of the Year for 2001 by the Truro and District Chamber of Commerce and wish her and her business, Fundy Textile and Design Ltd., continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 8394]

RESOLUTION NO. 3149

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

Whereas the Maple Hill Manor in New Waterford was started by a not-for-profit group 25 years ago; and

Whereas the staff, auxiliary and board of Maple Hill Manor help to make it an exceptional long-term care facility; and

Whereas on March 11th of this year, Maple Hill Manor had a celebration dinner for its first 25 years of successful long-term care;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates the staff, auxiliary and board of directors on 25 years of dedication to the residents of Maple Hill Manor in New Waterford.

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 Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 3150

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

Whereas the latest development in NDP land is that former Ontario Premier Bob Rae has disassociated himself from the foreign policy pronouncements of Alexa McDonough's Critic for Foreign Affairs, namely Svend Robinson; and

Whereas today's National Post (Interruptions)

[Page 8395]

Mr. Speaker, this is important. The honourable members should listen. (Interruptions) I would ask that they be quiet so that I can proceed. (Interruptions)

Whereas today's National Post features front-page billing for Mr. Rae on this issue under the heading, Rae Parts Ways With NDP; and

Whereas the National Post today (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I hear a foghorn . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova on his resolution, please.

MR. MACEWAN: . . . ran a lengthy essay by Bob Rae under the heading, Parting Company, in which Rae refers to Svend Robinson as a crank and dismisses his foreign policy position as "not a vision of social democracy worthy of support";

Therefore be it resolved that as responsible positions within the NDP are increasingly turned over to its extreme left-wing apostles, Canadians of broader vision, such as Bob Rae, are likely to become more and more turned off with them.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled. (Interruptions) The notice is finally tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 3151

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

Whereas Kenneth Crosby, Science and Technology teacher at Queen Elizabeth High School was recently the recipient of the PanCanadian Student Choice Award, Grades10 to12 category; and

Whereas Kenneth Crosby, a relatively new staff member at Queen Elizabeth High School, is respected and highly regarded by staff and students alike; and

Whereas teachers who receive this award are nominated by their students for recognition of teaching excellence both inside and outside the classroom;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate teacher Kenneth Crosby of Queen Elizabeth High School for receiving the prestigious PanCanadian Student Choice Award, Grades 10 to12 category.

[Page 8396]

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 3152

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

Whereas Lunenburg native Anna Maier will be taking a course in fieldwork methods and research at the University of The Gambia this summer; and

Whereas Anna will be volunteering with a women's rights and empowerment centre in Banjul; and

Whereas Anna is an international development and social anthropology student at Dalhousie University;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Anna on her courageous endeavours in international development.

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.

[Page 8397]

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3153

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

Whereas Encounters with Canada at the Terry Fox Youth Centre in Ottawa develops a spirit of understanding among Canadians; and

Whereas young people from throughout the country took part in this program from February 3rd to 9th, on the theme of science of technology; and

Whereas Zachary Briand-Evans of Stillwater Lake represented Sir John A. Macdonald High School at that program;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Zachary Briand- Evans of Sir John A. Macdonald High School on his participation at Encounters with Canada at the Terry Fox Youth Centre in Ottawa.

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.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you revert to the order of business - if it's all right with the Government House Leader - Presenting and Reading Petitions.

MR. SPEAKER: The request is to revert to the order of business, Presenting and Reading Petitions.

Is it agreed?

[Page 8398]

It is agreed.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, this is to the Honourable Rodney MacDonald, Minister of Tourism and Culture, and Premier Hamm, Premier of Nova Scotia. The signed petition states:

[12:45 p.m.]

"We the undersigned, representing artist-run organizations and their supporters from across Canada, assembled at Convergence, the National Conference for Artist-Run Centre, Artists, and Curators, in Ottawa, ON, April 11-14, 2002, demand the reinstatement of the Nova Scotia Arts Council, assuring the integrity of the Council as an arms-length funding body and maintaining the process of peer assessment in reviewing applications. As evidenced in every other province of Canada, arms length provincial arts funding is vital to the survival and development of artistic practice as well as creating dialogue with the community at large."

There are 174 signatures to this petition for which I have affixed my signature and I table for this House.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 12:46 p.m. and end at 1:46 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

FIN.: FAMILY VIOLENCE - FUNDING

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Last night, Mr. Speaker, 300 people marched from the Lieutenant Governor's mansion to Province House to protest this government's decision to close transition houses and women's centres. Today, I tabled 1,101 letters from people in the Port Hawkesbury area. These letters include letters from Crown Attorneys, clergy, town councillors and even Colin Campbell, Bishop of Antigonish. All of these letters say the lives of women and children in this province depend on restored funding for victims of family

[Page 8399]

violence. My question to the Minister of Finance is, how can your government be so completely out of touch with the people of Nova Scotia?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Our mandate is to deliver services to Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker, whether or not people are receiving those services from transition houses or whether they receive them from school boards or receive them from health and we will continue in that mandate because that's what we told Nova Scotians we would do.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, some of Nova Scotia's most prominent and respected citizens are telling the Minster of Finance and this government that they are risking the lives of Nova Scotia women and children, but for some reason this government refuses to listen. Now the responsibility for this decision rests on the shoulders of all of those members opposite and they no longer have the comfort of being able to say that they weren't forewarned. So my question to the Minister of Finance is, how can you continue to refuse to keep transition houses and other services open when the consequences are so clear and so serious?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I should point out to the member opposite that our intention is to continue to deliver the services that he's saying that we're going to withhold. I will say that the Minister of Community Services is saying that he's going to meet with the partners in delivering many of those services and there are not only transition houses, there are also men's treatment centres, there are also women's centres and also outreach programs. All those come together to form a system which men and women and children in this province depend upon. Our intention as a government is to make sure that those programs stay in place and those discussions that are going to happen are part of the process.

MR. DEXTER: I'm not sure how that's possible by taking $1 million out of the programming. These people I've mentioned are not alone. The Federation of Labour, the Teachers Union, prominent defence lawyers, Crown Attorneys, ministers, mayors, town councillors, and the Bishop of Antigonish all say you're dead wrong. Women by the hundreds last night and people by the thousands today are telling you that you're dead wrong. But, instead, you prefer to listen to the Minister of Community Services. My question to the Minister of Finance is, will you at least - at least - go to the Premier and ask whether or not he agrees that it is time to restore funding for the transition houses?

MR. LEBLANC: I should point out that though the Opposition wants to say that this is a money issue, Mr. Speaker, it is not. The fact of the matter is, the Department of Community Services is leading a redesign. In regard to that, I will refer the question to the Minister of Community Services so he can outline that same plan.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as the minister indicated, we are going to be speaking with people tomorrow. We are going to ensure that those services are there and we're going to ensure that there are more outreach services.

[Page 8400]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

COMMUN. SERV. - FAM. VIOLENCE SERV.: PARTNERS - NAME

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Over the last two weeks, legislators have heard much opposition to the government's intent to redesign family violence services at transition houses and women's centres. It's pretty evident that this call for re-evaluation of the current services has come from the top-down. The minister responsible has proven that it's not his intent to consult with front-line family violence workers in this province. My question to the minister is, can the Minister of Community Services name the community partners that he has had discussions with over the last year, as he mentioned in the emergency debate last Thursday?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the question is, where have I had an opportunity to visit in the last year? Well, there have been a number of places I have been. As the honourable member for Lunenburg West indicated, I had the opportunity to visit the transition house with him in his riding last fall. I've had an opportunity to meet with the Bryony House people last fall. I had an opportunity to meet with the Chrysalis House people and the Autumn House people. I've had an opportunity to meet with the Talbot House people and I've had an opportunity to meet with the Bonny Lea Farm people over the last period.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I can guarantee you that not one of those groups the minister has named asked him to cut $890,000 from their budget; not one of those groups. My second question is for the Minister of Justice. The Minister of Justice has stated that it's his government's intention to use transition houses as a last resort for family violence victims. The minister says the legislation allows Justices of the Peace to order immediate intervention for family violence, keeping women safe in their homes. So my question to the Minister of Justice is, how does this minister intend to keep those women and children safe when the abusive partner tries to come back home?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, first of all, the honourable member is distorting the issue. What I indicated is that, in fact, women and children in this family need a choice and that honourable member is against having those women and children have the right to make a choice of their own to stay in their own home. I favour allowing the people to have a choice.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, over the past couple of weeks a lot of us have been enlightened by the services that transition houses and women's centres across this province provide to victims of family abuse. They provide a safe home for women and children, some counselling, educational services and job training. Now, despite the protestation of the minister, let me go back to the Minister of Community Services. I want to ask him, when the meeting takes place tomorrow at noon, Mr. Minister, will you commit now to this House that

[Page 8401]

you, personally, are going to be at that table and finally hear the concerns of women and children from across this province?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, that was my intent last week when I spoke to the people who were here. My intent is to be there tomorrow to meet with them and I will be meeting with them in the future as we start to talk about regional design.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

FIN. - MIN.: FIGURES - ACCURACY CHECK

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians were amazed yesterday to hear that their Finance Minister had made a $1 million arithmetic mistake in his budget. This year's budget has already been characterized by transparently fudged figures and just plain old meanness. To that, we can now add incompetence. My question to the Acting Premier is, what steps is this government taking to check the Minister of Finance's figures to ensure there are no more $1 million mistakes?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I have every confidence in the Minister of Finance, and if the honourable member wishes to ask a question relative to the budget, I would suggest that he do so during estimates.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, without a doubt, the meanest cut of all in this budget was $893,000 cut from the budget of transition houses, women's centres and programs for abusive men. I found $1 million for the Minister of Finance, so he can now restore this funding without affecting his fictional, but politically precious, bottom line. But still he refuses. My question to the Acting Premier is, for how long has it been the policy of this government to cut transition house funding even if it doesn't save a dime?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is not the intention of government to cut programs that are provided to those who utilize transition homes.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, we now know that the transition house issue is not about money because the money has been found. We know that it's not about protecting women and children because everyone who knows anything about this issue says that this cut is going to put women and children at risk. My question to the Acting Premier is, why won't this government do the right thing and announce today that transition house funding has been restored?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member says that this is not about funding, and I agree; it is not about funding. We agree with that. This government has gone on the record saying that we are going to continue the programs that the Department of Community Services has provided through transition homes.

[Page 8402]

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

ECON. DEV. - C.B. RAIL SERVICE: CONTINUANCE - ENSURE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development. The Minister of Economic Development continues to preside over a department that is accomplishing nothing for economic development in Cape Breton, absolutely nothing. Now the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is in danger of losing rail service, which will end any new manufacturing and close existing facilities. The Tory blue book promised to extend private short lines in Nova Scotia, not close them. My question to the minister is, what, precisely, is this minister doing to ensure that this rail line will continue, given the economic impact of its closure?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member opposite that a recent candidate for the leadership of that very Party talked about all the jobs that had been created in Cape Breton while he was, in fact, an employee of the province, so you can't have it both ways. Either we are creating jobs there or we're not. As far as the railroad is concerned, we have been working very closely with all the partners because we recognize that the only solution that will work is one that creates increased volumes of traffic.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I can set this part of that speech straight, Mr. Speaker. The only jobs that were created in Cape Breton were created by the previous government, not that minister over there, who couldn't care less about Cape Breton. At the very least, this minister could assist in facilitating meetings between the rail line and potential customers.

I have a letter here to Mr. Paul Tellier from Mayor John Morgan regarding this very serious problem, and I will table this letter for the benefit of the House and the minister. The letter is dated July 20, 2001, and I'm sure the minister knows what is in this particular letter. I just wonder if the minister has taken the time to answer the mayor. What the mayor is talking about is a letter that was sent by Mr. Paul Tellier to then-Premier John Savage. The letter states, "This will acknowledge your letter of June 25, 1993, and our various phone conversations confirming that should Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia cease operations, Canadian National Railways agrees to ensure the continuation of rail service on the Truro-Sydney provincial short-line."

Now, Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, is he aware of this agreement and what's he doing about it?

[Page 8403]

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, yes, I am aware of the letter. As I said in response to a previous question, we're working very closely with all the partners to find a private sector solution that will increase rail traffic on that rail line. I'm sure that the member opposite can appreciate that a letter like that has to be interpreted from a legal perspective to see the strength of the various positions.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, once again, we see this minister abdicating any responsibility on his department for the economic well-being of Cape Breton and, in particular, those business concerns in the industrial park in North Sydney and in Sydney and in all of Cape Breton that depend on rail service. The minister is doing absolutely nothing.

My final supplementary is, are you, Mr. Minister, going to do anything about this particular problem except wax eloquently in this House about what might be and what could be and what should be? I want to know, what are you going to do about it? (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

MR. BALSER: What we're going to do is find a solution that works. It will be sustainable because it will be driven by the private sector, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HEALTH - UNDERFUNDING: PHYSICIAN EXODUS - CORRELATION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, yesterday, three members opposite attacked my integrity because I raised questions about health funding data. We all know they didn't like it because the truth hurts, and the truth is that this government was woefully underfunding health care and is driving doctors away when the province is supposed to be recruiting them: doctors like the pediatrician for the South Shore Regional Hospital, who changed his mind due to cuts to that facility. So I want to ask the Minister of Health, will you tell the truth, how many doctors are leaving the province due to health underfunding?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as usual, the honourable member hasn't done his homework and the newspaper article was wrong this morning, it was an ENT person, not a pediatrician. I just thought I would tell you that. Of course, I am not surprised, in light of the way he distorted the purpose of a meeting last week simply because he's in a leadership race.

Mr. Speaker, if the House has time, I did this in estimates, but I would like to go through the success of our physician recruiting here in the province. (Interruptions)

[Page 8404]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I think the honourable minister already answered his own question. The House does not have time, if you want to make a quick response to the question.

MR. MUIR: I would be anxious to detail this for the honourable member.

MR. SPEAKER: Maybe the honourable minister would table it. How would that be?

MR. MUIR: I would sooner read it, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition, your first supplementary.

MR. DEXTER: I guess the minister thinks losing an ENT specialist is a good idea. I don't know. I didn't understand that answer at all and I don't think anybody else did either, Mr. Speaker.

The Valley District Health Authority has approved a business plan that will cut 13 beds in Middleton, close programs in Annapolis Royal and reduce budgets at the Valley Regional Hospital. The Minister of Health is trying to tell us that the people of the Valley don't need as much money because of a formula that says they're healthier than people in other parts of the province. My question to the Minister of Health is, why is this government allowing DHAs to be underfunded when he and the deputy minister admit full well that the data is faulty?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the deputy and I don't admit that the data is faulty. We do recognize that what we are working for is a work in process. There is no question that some of the elements need to be enhanced. We've never denied that. As a matter of fact, we don't have a formula at this particular time, we're working toward it. Now, he may wish to listen to the Romanow presentation later on and get clued in.

Mr. Speaker, again he is giving false implications in his questions. The business plan that was tabled by DHA No. 3 sees the continuation of the programs, the ones in Annapolis Royal that he is talking about; they will not be cancelled. Similarly, he fails to talk about the beds that will be reopened in the Valley Regional Hospital as a result of this business plan. As usual, his information is incomplete and his questions are misleading.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to invite the minister to explain to the members of his backbench what he just said, because that's not what the backbenchers are telling the people of the Valley. They agree that that data is faulty. The district health authorities have spoken; health professionals have spoken; the people have spoken. Nobody seems to be listening. So I want to ask the Minister of Health when will he finally listen now that the doctors are speaking with their feet?

[Page 8405]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, between 1996 and continued to 2002, Nova Scotia experienced the second greatest increase in the total number of physicians in Canada over the past five years. Overall there are 187 physicians for every 100,000 people in Canada, with three provinces exceeding the national average: Quebec at 214, Nova Scotia at 201 and B.C. at 195. This province has the second highest number of doctors in Canada per 100,000 people.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - RAIL SERVICE:

TRURO TO SYDNEY - ENSURE

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to pose a question to the Deputy Premier and Minister of Transportation and Public Works with respect to the conditions under which the Nova Scotia Government accepted the deal that saw the Truro to Sydney railway line taken over by Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway in 1993. Now I have here a letter from Dr. John Savage, Premier of Nova Scotia, dated July 15, 1993, and it's addressed to the National Transportation Agency's secretary, Marie Paul Scott. The reference here is to the agreement by CN to ensure operation of that line should RailTex - that is Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway - cease operations, and that that was a condition of Nova Scotia's acceptance of the sale of the line in 1993.

That was the case and it was acknowledged by a return letter from Mr. Tellier acknowledging receipt of the letter and ". . . conversations confirming that, should Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia cease operations, Canadian National Railways agrees to ensure the continuation of rail service on the Truro-Sydney . . .", rail line. I want to table those two. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, the honourable member here is waxing a bit eloquently and he doesn't have the floor yet.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable member for Cape Breton Nova, question, please.

MR. MACEWAN: My question to the minister is, what is this government doing to see that the arrangements made by that government are upheld?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, Mr. John Savage is no longer in the House. I don't know which Party the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova was in at that time, however I seem to recollect that he was probably a member Mr. Savage's Party and, therefore, he would probably know what Mr. Savage was thinking about at that particular time.

[Page 8406]

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, that is a rather flip response by an honourable member who served three times as Speaker of the House. I was in the Chair at that time and I was Speaker of the House, but perhaps he doesn't remember that.

I will dare to pose the same question, in essence, again. Never minding all that, what is this government doing now to ensure that those arrangements made 9 or 10 years ago are upheld?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I presume I should apologize for not remembering when the honourable member was in the Chair in 1993, that was sort of a passing phase within this House. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that the Minister of Economic Development and myself as Minister of Transportation and Public Works are doing everything we possibly can and more to ensure that the railroad line to Sydney is carried on under its present management.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I have one final supplementary. With reference to the 1993 letter of Mr. Tellier to Dr. Savage and his commentary in today's Chronicle Herald, under the heading of, "CN not keen to run C.B. short line - Tellier," that appeared in today's paper. This is nine years ago. I would like to volunteer these two documents to the Deputy Premier, Minister of Transportation and Public Works, asking him if he would draw to Mr. Tellier's attention the contradiction between his stance today and his stance nine years ago, and ask him if the stance of nine years ago, conveyed in writing to the Premier of the province, might not take precedence over today's newspaper article?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova would know that it is not a responsibility of a minister to respond to whether in fact something in a newspaper is true or not. Would the Acting Premier like to try to answer the question?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that letter was indeed written, and there's no disputing the fact that Mr. Tellier signed the letter. However, I can understand the reluctance, perhaps, of CN now to carry out the commitment that was put forward by Mr. Tellier in that letter. I can assure the honourable member that we will be keeping their feet to the fire, and we do indeed have that letter as a fallback position. However, I'm sure that the honourable member is much more interested in having a viable line servicing Sydney, rather than one that is not viable. That is the intention of this government.

[Page 8407]

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - RAIL SERVICE (C.B.):

PRESERVATION - PLANS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, as we heard in previous questions, another blow has been dealt to the fragile economy of Cape Breton with the retreat from the railway industry by the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway. After Liberal and Tory Governments with their right-wing agendas got rid of the steel and coal industries in Cape Breton, they were also robbed of a railway of sufficient service. The government has known that the shoe was going to fall heavily on Cape Breton, its businesses, its customers and indeed the employees who are serviced by that railway. I want to ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, what steps are you taking, what concrete steps are you taking to ensure this vital transportation link is preserved?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the honourable member can understand that these discussions that are ongoing with the railroad and the Province of Nova Scotia do indeed have to be done under some form of confidentiality, and we are doing exactly that.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, one position we all agree on is that that railway link is crucial to the economic development of industrial Cape Breton. (Interruptions) The key component in decreasing emissions, and in the transportation's energy sector, it's energy efficient, and it certainly helps preserve our underfunded highway structure system on Cape Breton Island. I want to ask the minister - I'm sure he's doing his best to ensure that that service stays there, and as part of that he's contacted CN - will you tell the people of Nova Scotia and this House what the president of CN told you when you contacted them?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, this government is determined that the rail link will continue from Port Hawkesbury to Sydney, and I can tell the honourable member that we will do everything we possibly can to arrive at a determination in the immediate future, to the threatened closure of that line.

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, certain things are clear, that the present operator is getting out. It wants to get out by mid to late June, and Voluntary Planning in its 1999 study, entitled The Way Ahead, recommended the province needed a multi-modal approach to transportation. In the government's recently released energy strategy, it endorsed that recommendation. Will the minister commit his government to giving priority to the implementation of a true multi-modal transportation strategy for this province which includes a line from Sydney to Port Hawkesbury to ensure the future economic growth of industrial Cape Breton, and let Nova Scotians know what it is and let them know what it is today?

[Page 8408]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, let me make it very clear that there are more people working in Cape Breton today than in recent history and it has come about because (Applause) All the shouting and the screaming from the other side doesn't create one job. This government has created jobs. We have a record of creating jobs in Cape Breton and we will commit to the continued existence of the railroad line from Port Hawkesbury to Sydney.

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - VEHICLE COMPLIANCE:

CONTRACTING - COSTS TABLE

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minster of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. We learned last evening that the minister has pretty well made up his mind that he is about to contract out the services of the vehicle compliance officers to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. One would hope that the minister will be open and accountable in explaining his actions to the people of Nova Scotia. My question is, when the minister does make his final decision, will he commit here to this House to table the total costs and benefits associated with this transfer?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I will certainly be making our position known with respect to the decision whenever that is taken.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, this minister has it all figured out, I guess. He feels he can save on salaries in his own department by transferring costs to other departments. Overweight trucks, damaged roads and increases in truck accidents leads to increased health care costs and, of course, the Minister of Environment and Labour will be happy to see that insurance rates will be going up again. My question to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations is, could the minister please confirm if he has factored in the potential increases in other department budgets when making this decision?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that we will take into consideration all facets of this decision relative to the financial impact on the province.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, you can't put a price on highway safety. The people of Nova Scotia need to know that their safety isn't at risk. In 1999 Nova Scotia had the best grade of any province for truck safety. However, under the minister's plans those employees responsible for keeping Nova Scotia's highways safe will not be transferred to these new duties. Will the minister guarantee Nova Scotians their safety will not be put at risk when he brings in the Mounties to replace the compliance officers?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the House and I can assure all Nova Scotians that we will not take any decision that will do anything other than to increase safety on our highways.

[Page 8409]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. & FISH. - GRAIN & FORAGE PRODUCERS:

CRISIS - RESOLVE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the continuing saga of East Coast Commodities has a new chapter. We've learned that East Coast Commodities is expected to file for bankruptcy this week, affecting creditors which include the Farm Loan Board. This is the time of the year to plant grain in the Valley and farmers need to know right now where they're supposed to take their grain this fall. So I want to ask the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, what is his department doing to resolve the latest crisis for grain and forage producers in the Valley?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Certainly, the honourable member does have it right; you plant in the spring and you harvest in the fall. East Coast Commodities Inc. is a private company experiencing financial difficulties. The Province of Nova Scotia is one of the creditors and we're working through that situation with them right now.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: The minister should know that you reap what you sow, so he should be careful how he handles this situation. When the Middleton Grain Centre closed in 1998, farmers, with no support from this government, formed West Nova Agro Commodities and built a grain centre in Lawrencetown. Those farmers have worked hard, with community support, to make that grain centre a successful venture. Under the trust agreement, the assets of East Coast Commodities are to return to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, so I ask the Minister of Agriculture, what does he propose to do with those assets that the taxpayers of Nova Scotia paid for?

MR. FAGE: Again, the honourable member is right; you reap what you sow. The facts are very important. The fact is that the Province of Nova Scotia supported the new association very well with capital lending and expert advice throughout the whole set-up of the structure and they are performing very well. We're very proud of their activities and certainly the farming community is.

In relationship to East Coast Commodities, if they do exercise the receivership route, there is a legal recourse to be involved in that structure.

MR. MACDONELL: I have a suggestion for the minister. West Nova Agro Commodities seems to have a better business sense than East Coast Commodities has demonstrated, so has the Minister of Agriculture considered asking West Nova Agro Commodities to take over the Steam Mill facility and have a go at running it?

[Page 8410]

MR. FAGE: Again, as the honourable member would know, there is a procedure when a company, that is having financial difficulties if it chooses, would place itself in receivership. Certainly any other company is available to make an offer at that time, and I'm sure the West Coast group will have a look at that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

TOURISM & CULTURE - ARTS COUNCIL:

ENDOWMENT FUND - PLANS

MR. DONALD DOWNE: My question is to the Minister of Tourism and Culture. Recently the government has locked the door, thrown away the key and shut down the Nova Scotia Arts Council. As a result, the government now controls the $1 million endowment fund established in 1995 to protect the future of the Arts Council. The endowment fund was established to protect the future of Nova Scotia and its arts industry. My question to the minister is, what is the minister planning to do with the $1 million of the former Arts Council's endowment fund and how will he protect it for the arts community of Nova Scotia?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: I would like to thank the member for bringing up the question. Indeed, the endowment fund has been protected through a special fund. The framework around which the endowment fund will be administered will be the framework that was established under the former Nova Scotia Arts Council.

MR. DOWNE: This is a minister that literally gutted the Nova Scotia Arts Council and he continues to try to get away with saying that he's going to retain it. Money was placed in the endowment fund by the former government as well as by organizations and private individuals. That was set aside for the purpose of the Arts Council being at arm's length of government and also so that the money, the interest of that fund, would be used for the development of the arts community. Since the government has taken it over and it's now not at arm's length, my question to the minister is, what is the minister doing to provide a solution for those groups and private individuals seeking to have their money taken out of that endowment fund?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: If an individual or a group feels that strongly that their dollars should be provided back to that group, then they will be given back.

MR. DOWNE: Well, I can assure the minister that Nova Scotians feel strongly about one thing, and that is that the minister has destroyed the Nova Scotia arts community and has destroyed the credibility of the arts community and that government. My final supplementary to the minister, the minister who will leave a legacy of destroying the arts community in Nova Scotia. Will the minister commit here today to only spending the interest that has been

[Page 8411]

accrued to the endowment fund to ensure that there will always be funding available for Nova Scotia and its arts community?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, obviously he hasn't been listening. As I said, the funding will be administered as was such under the framework under the former Nova Scotia Arts Council. Indeed, by making the change, and I've said in this House and I will say it again, $0.25 million more will go back into cultural funding this year.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV.: NAHAUM HOUSE - FUNDING

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth North has the floor.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Adsum House is a short-term emergency shelter for homeless women. Staff have realized that many women don't have the skills necessary to live independently. Adsum House wants to open Nahaum House, a residence offering life-skills training, counselling and help so women can get the help they need in order to successfully stay off the streets. The project may never get off the ground because the province won't offer its support. I ask the Minister of Community Services why is his department once again turning its back on women?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member mentioned, that program has been developed over the last little while. The department has been having discussions with that group, as has the Family and Children's Services Division in Halifax. Those discussions are still ongoing.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, that department of Community Services is always having discussions. The municipality has donated land and a building. The federal government is willing to help with start-up costs. All this depends on the province supporting the project for three years. So far, it has not been willing to pony up to the federal funding that is available. I ask the Minister of Community Services, the municipality and the federal government see the value of this project, why is your government so shortsighted?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as our department has been having discussions with that particular group, we have indicated that we see value in that project. We have been involved in discussions with them and we will continue to do so.

[Page 8412]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, Adsum House is asking for a three-year commitment to get this program off the ground. Their window of opportunity expires in two weeks. The opportunity expires in two weeks. I'm asking the Minister of Community Services, when is his department going to stop ignoring the needs of homeless women and their children, and help Nahaum House get the start-up funding it desperately needs?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated before, we will continue discussions with them. We realize the deadlines they're under. We will be having those discussions and we will be moving on to try to accommodate that time frame that they have.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - VALLEY DHA: BUSINESS PLANS - IMPACT

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. This past weekend we learned the Valley Regional Hospital is struggling to maintain an adequate number of available beds in the face of full status, as it's called, and stated that they couldn't admit any more people. Yesterday, the Annapolis Valley DHA voted to accept a reduction of 13 beds at Soldiers Memorial Hospital. As well, 16 beds at Valley Regional Hospital will remain closed until at least September. I would like to table that release.

[1:30 p.m.]

We know that bed closures in Middleton impact on the Valley Regional Hospital and from the Valley Regional Hospital it will impact here in the capital district. My question to the minister is, is the minister satisfied that the business plans he has been asked to approve for the Valley District Health Authority, with the bed closures, will not impact on the level of service here at the capital district?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the business plan was produced by the DHA down there and we have taken their advice. I think it's fair to say I don't like to see beds reduced, nobody does. Clearly the members from the Valley have been very forceful in presenting the position of their authorities to us and as well to the DHA. What I can tell you is that the beds in Kentville, the way they are, that's a staffing shortage and there is nothing you can really do about that at this particular time because it takes time to recruit and they are actively recruiting. The impact on the capital district, we hope that there will not be a noticeable impact on the capital district.

DR. SMITH: Yesterday, various stakeholders throughout the health community were provided with the Annapolis Valley DHA's press release of its business plan. This gives us every indication that the pressures being experienced in the Valley will be transferred to other district health authorities as well. That has been in evidence. The question to the

[Page 8413]

minister is, is the minister prepared to commit today that wait times will not increase as a result of his budget approvals?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the business plan for DHA 3 does contain a number of clinical enhancements and I think the honourable member would agree with that. In terms of guaranteeing that waiting times will not increase, to be quite frank, in this season of the year, I expect that they will decrease.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority's press release also stated that the ongoing recruitment for nurses will continue and hopefully 16 beds in the Valley region will reopen in September but the minister's nursing recruitment Web site doesn't make the recruitment of nurses in the Valley a priority. It's interesting that he mentioned that in answer to the first question. This is the minister who told the people in the Valley that they didn't deserve more funding because they were too healthy. The question to the minister is, could the minister please commit here today that he at least cares a little bit about the Valley by posting some of the nursing vacancies on his own nursing recruitment site. I would like to table that site to show that recruitment for nurses in the Valley is not a priority, it's not on the Web site.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Health and as a resident of Nova Scotia, I care about the health and the services being delivered right across this province. If certainly the department Web site can assist the DHA in their recruitment of nurses and they're not on the Web site, I would be pleased to ask our people to contact the people in the DHA to assist in any way they can and that would include posting vacancies on the Web site if that is appropriate.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

COMMUN. SERV. - TRANSITION HOUSES/WOMEN'S CENTRES:

MEETING - PARTICIPANTS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, last night more than 300 Nova Scotians opposed to this government's plan to close transition houses and women's centres came in the rain to this Legislature. The Minister of Community Services refused to come out and meet with them because he said he has a meeting with these organizations on Wednesday - tomorrow. Yet, he is dictating who will attend that meeting. I want to ask the Minister of Community Services, will you agree to include front-line workers from these programs in your discussions tomorrow?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, when the ladies were down at the House last week and asked for a meeting, I asked them who they wanted to attend and they said they wanted a director from every one of the facilities. We indicated the executive directors would be coming, that we would have them come, and that's what we arranged for the meeting.

[Page 8414]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, front-line workers, who have devoted many years of their lives, deserve to be included directly in these discussions. They have written this minister through their unions to ask to send representatives of front-line providers to this meeting. They have had no response. I want to ask the minister, why won't you show the respect due to these workers by including them in the talks that will affect them and the work they do?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as we started to talk about how we were going to have the dialogue on this, members asked me to give them the draft plan of how we were going to proceed. In that plan it indicated we have plans to meet with every region, to meet with all the people, the workers, to meet with all the people interested in those sectors in the various regions as we work to develop the plan. That's when we will be meeting with them. That's when we will have the opportunity to talk to them and that's when they will have the opportunity to share their goals and vision for the redesign as we go forward.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this government's record speaks for itself, doesn't it, no respect for nurses, no respect for health care providers, no respect for the Sisters of Charity, no respect for professional artists and now no respect for the women and men who work in the difficult circumstances in the field of family violence. I want to ask the minister, how can you expect to get respect from people in this province when you so clearly display no respect for them?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I think, as the honourable member will look back over the last number of months when she brought the issue of Bryony House to the floor here, when we were having discussions with those, as I indicated to the member for Glace Bay, we had an opportunity to meet with those people in their locations and we will continue to do that. We are seeking their input. We are seeking the way to design this service so it's valuable to all Nova Scotians and they will be part of the process.

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

EDUC. - BARRINGTON MUN. HS: PROBLEMS - ACTION

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Barrington Municipal High School has been closed for more than two weeks because students and staff experienced rash and breathing difficulties. A microbiologist found mould in five different areas of the school and raw sewage leaking from a pipe. The school was closed for cleaning. However, yesterday, when teachers and staff returned, they again experienced rashes and breathing difficulties. My question to the minister is, could the minister please inform this House what action the Department of Education is taking to solve this problem so that students and teachers can go to school without developing a rash or other health problems?

[Page 8415]

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, yes, the member opposite points out a difficult problem down in that school, but I would like to correct one thing. The point about the raw sewage, technically that may be true, but what it was was what they call grey water from a shower that hadn't been used recently. So that leak from the pipe has definitely been fixed, but that's a minor point.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, it's obvious that cleaning at the school is not good enough. The provincial medical officer says the mould may not be related to the rash being experienced by students and staff and it is yet to be seen if sewage is at fault. Students shouldn't have to risk their health every time they walk through the doors of Barrington Municipal High School. My question to the minister, this minister talks about a healthy education system and healthy students as well, so how are the students at Barrington Municipal High School to learn in such an unhealthy school?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, last week there were workers for seven days cleaning that school for 20 hours a day. There has been our environmental officer from the department, and the medical health officer for the western region has been there. There has been a mycologist, i.e. a mould specialist, studying that school and there has been and is a dermatologist on-site. A number of factors have been ruled out.

AN HON. MEMBER: How many got sick?

MISS PURVES: As far as I know, none of them have been sick, Mr. Speaker. A number of factors have been ruled out, including communicable disease, as well as any airborne causes of this problem. So the cause of the rash does, indeed, remain a mystery, but it is not true that the school is filthy. The mouldy parts of the school have been cleaned over and over and are being repaired in the junior high wing where most of the mould was found.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my final question to the minister. Last Friday evening, concerned parents and students attended a public meeting to discuss Barrington Regional High School - the Minister of Education did not attend that meeting - can the minister inform this House how long the students of Barrington will be forced to attend this environmentally unhealthy school?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, two points. One, neither the member opposite nor I are specialists in this area and there is no proof that that school is environmentally unsound. Secondly, I was not at that meeting because I was at a meeting with parents in my riding angry about a school closure, and I attended that with the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

[Page 8416]

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

EDUC. - BARRINGTON MUN. HS: PROBLEMS - ADDRESS

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education with regard to the renovation of the schools that are unsafe and unhealthy. Some teachers at Barrington Municipal High School yesterday, when they returned to work, developed that same mysterious rash and were forced to leave the school immediately, even though it had been cleaned. This school has been closed for over two weeks due to the mysterious rash found on the students and staff. The school is 40 years old and, like many others, is in desperate need of repair. So my question to the Minister of Education is, what will her government do to address the safety and health problems at Barrington Regional High School?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, what we have been doing includes health officers, dermatologists, mould specialists and cleaning. So in the spirit of co-operation I would certainly suggest that if the member opposite has some suggestion that the health community has not come up with to help resolve this problem, we would certainly take his advice.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my issue is more with what renovations need to be provided for the school, but let me get to that point because what we're hearing and what the parents and students in Barrington Passage are hearing is that Barrington Passage is not one of those 10 schools slated to be replaced with a new school and, therefore, there's no money in the government's budget to be able to deal with the renovations that are so sadly needed for this school because of the safety and health issues that are being addressed. It is not only this school, we heard the other day about New Ross Consolidated Elementary School where a light fixture broke down, as well. So my question is, can this minister tell us what she will be doing, beyond possibly having to bus these students to Shelburne High School, which has the same problems as Barrington Regional High School does?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge there have been no rashes at Shelburne. I will add something else about the rashes. At three other schools, nowhere near Barrington Passage, children have been developing rashes. There was a bout of rashes in the eastern United States. Obviously I'm not a medical professional, but there is something going on here that is not necessarily to do with the school, because the rash of rashes, indeed, as the member for Sackville-Cobequid points out, rightly, there was an incident at a school in Cambridge last week outside Kentville, it occurred in a new portable. So there's something going on here that the medical experts cannot pinpoint.

[Page 8417]

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. DEVEAUX: Can the minister name those three other schools where the rashes have also developed, Mr. Speaker?

MISS PURVES: At Cambridge outside of Kentville was one of the schools. There was one on Cape Sable Island; and the name of the other one escapes me at the moment but I do have the name and I will provide it to the honourable member.

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, before we go into estimates, I would like to take some time today to talk about the situation in my community, which is of grave concern to me and to many of the residents in and around my community. That is the proposed changes at the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital Emergency Department.

Now, Mr. Speaker, to best present the facts around what we are speaking about today, I should first probably tell you some background on that facility. The facility itself, the actual hospital, is approximately 39 years old. It was opened this month in 1963. It was due to the hard work of many of the local townspeople, the town council and, indeed, the former member of the Legislature at that time, who was a member of the Stanfield Government, honourable Michael Laffin, who works tirelessly on behalf of that community, even now, in retirement.

What we must look at in that community, Mr. Speaker, is a community that has just been so severely hit in the last 10 years economically. I don't think we've experienced that type of economic downturn in any other community in this province of that sort. We know

[Page 8418]

of one-industry towns such as Canso and other municipalities on the South Shore because of the downturn in the fishery and so on, but this town has basically been decimated by the closure of the coal industry. It has almost been told that once again you're being used as the scapegoat in rationing out health care dollars, before it was economic dollars now it is straight health care dollars. I think - indeed I know - the people in this community have said enough is enough.

In the mid-to-late-1990s, Mr. Speaker, indeed the early 1990s, this hospital saw the loss of its pediatrics and its obstetrics units which severely hampered growth in that facility. Now, in support of those that managed that facility at that time, they were forward-thinking enough to position themselves in such a way as to bring in other needed medical necessities that would keep the doors open in that facility. It had to be one of the most active hospitals in industrial Cape Breton, and I would suspect, outside the capital district, one of the most active community-based hospitals for day surgery. It was truly a leader in doing that.

What happened? Again, I would have to congratulate the local management team at that hospital and its ability to realize what is out there and what it had to do for the survival of that hospital. That was obtained not only by way of how it was managed, but indeed, by the participation of the people in the community and fundraising and so on. While to some people it may sound trite to say that the hospital is truly a community-based facility and its support is needed by that community, I think we have more than amply shown that it is supported and indeed enhanced by community involvement and what they see about the strong need.

Mr. Speaker, if I can jump ahead a bit now and bring to the House's attention why we see this as being a crisis. The local DHA commissioned a nationally-renowned emergency room physician by the name of Dr. Murray to do a report around the rationalization of emergency departments within the health care complex as it relates to the emergency facilities at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney, the Northside General Hospital in North Sydney, the Glace Bay General Hospital and the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital. Out of that report came many recommendations, but the most onerous to the people of New Waterford was to have that facility closed for an eight hour period daily, approximately 11:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m.

Some would say you're not losing your emergency department altogether - what's the problem? Well, as I hopefully laid out earlier in my intervention, the fact is we realize that when you start eroding services, other things happen within the facility. If we do not have doctors actively engaged in emergency use, then their skills are going and they will be looking elsewhere.

That comes up in line with a real problem with the Murray report and as I asked the minister last week in estimates about the faulty numbers within the Murray report as it pertains to the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital, the minister and his staff

[Page 8419]

acknowledged that there were faulty numbers. Faulty numbers that I must add, weren't exactly forthcoming from the DHA, but indeed, were brought forward by community activists and health care providers in the New Waterford and surrounding area. The overall tone of that report as it related to the working physicians in New Waterford, that the physicians themselves and the community found extremely offensive, were such things as talking about the overall age of the doctors which borders clearly on age discrimination, and indeed, did not take that leap and use that rationale around any other facility, but just used that rationale around New Waterford. I'm sure those other locations have aging physicians as well, a point I will return to. Another point they tried to impress upon the people in the report was the lack of physicians to participate in training around emergency, which again, was totally false. The doctors in a public meeting that was attended by over 1,000 residents of the area clearly stated that they probably more than anyone else outside the Sydney area, partake in training in emergency.

Mr. Speaker, another very large aspect of what's coming around here is that this report seems to try to innoculate, if I can use that term, the people of that area about the incoming crisis, because the Department of Health and the Medical Society of Nova Scotia signed a new agreement, which they have a right to do. There's no doubt there. In the agreement, they laid out new fee schedules or hourly rates for emergency doctors in various hospitals. One of the lowest levels of pay would be in community hospitals such as New Waterford, which, again, sounds a death knell to these people because it's obvious that we're not going to work in areas where we don't get paid the same amount of money as people, as the minister is apt to say, 15 or 20 minutes down the road doing similar work. It is not a case of that hospital not having enough emergency visits. Now CTAS numbers, and that's an acronym, Mr. Speaker, for the Canadian Triage Acuity Scale - that their numbers aren't on the one and two scales, which are the really critical scales, but, indeed, the higher ones. That should not be the relevant point here. The relevant point is usage.

Now I want to also say here that what we have is an aging population, Mr. Speaker, and a population that, unlike a lot of people here in metro and possibly other areas, does not have access to what I would call reasonable transportation modes. Many do not own their own vehicles and for them to access emergency medical care when there's one attendant ambulance overnight in the municipality of the Town of New Waterford is another impediment. I am not even going to go down the road of employment figures for that town and what they mean, but it is a relevant fact. The DHA says it will not experience any loss of employment. What it means is system-wide. But, again, you will see fewer people employed in the Town of New Waterford, a problem, I think, that no government, federal or provincial, has really accurately tried to help.

Let's get back to one point they made about emergency doctors and their possible ages and around it. One could only surmise where they're going with this, where Dr. Murray was going with this. Is that to allude to the fact that there's an impending doctor shortage? Well, let's get that on the table. If there's an impending doctor shortage, let's talk about it. Let's

[Page 8420]

talk about it in a meaningful way, around recruitment. Don't hide behind it and say other things when you mean something totally opposite. Involve the community. I'm sure the community of New Waterford would love to be involved in the recruitment and retention of physicians. Again, this government has nothing on its books to attract doctors to communities such as New Waterford. Indeed, if you look on the doctor recruitment site, they don't even mention the Town of New Waterford. They seem to think that what we will do is close the emergency department.

I wanted to tell my other friends within industrial Cape Breton that if they think that this government and its funding propositions are going to stop at the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital, they're sadly mistaken. They're sadly mistaken if they think what they are going to do is cut and cut and the only place they are going to cut out is New Waterford. Again, that's wrong. This is a problem system-wide, Mr. Speaker, as we heard with questions about health care funding right across this province in Question Period today.

Mr. Speaker, what this community needs is not a document that's done in haste and quickly moved away from. What this community needs is an acknowledgment of (a) the role it played in the overall economic situation of this province, how it helped it advance through its many years of dedication in mining coal. It needs an acknowledgment from this province that now that you are on hard times, we are not going to kick you when you are down. It needs an acknowledgment from this Department of Health that it will actively recruit physicians. Indeed, if they want to talk about aging physicians, that they'll be there when these doctors step aside and go on to their much-deserved retirement, they need to tell the people of New Waterford that you will have a hospital for the future, that you will be there when the economy turns around. If not, Mr. Speaker, we're sending out the wrong message. When we're sending messages, when we don't have proper in-home care yet in the Town of New Waterford, we're sending the wrong message. When we have senior citizens telling me that they didn't want to go to the emergency because they thought it was closed, these are the types of things that we're going to have facing us in the very near future. I implore this government to respect that emergency room, do not close it, make it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

[2:00 p.m.]

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to continue on this theme, although I think the most ominous remarks that I've heard so far on this debate have come from the Minister of Health because he was the one who defined what an urgent care centre meant, and the urgent care centre that he defined could be opened 16 hours a day, but could also be opened 12 hours a day, or 8 hours a day, or be moved somewhere else altogether such as, say, to Sydney Mines, or maybe to Port Hawkesbury, or maybe to Montreal. Now, that's what he thinks an urgent care centre is. When he stood up in the House and said that himself,

[Page 8421]

I didn't invent these words, they're simply a repetition of what he said; that, to me, defined where the government is trying to take us on this whole business, to the point where there is no hospital in New Waterford. Exactly the same as was planned by Premier Donnie Cameron in 1992, exactly the same - shut her down, clean her out.

Now, the means by which the government is attempting to get us to that end consists of this report called the Murray report, which my honourable friend has just explained. Dr. Murray is supposed to be a specialist in matters of health care prioritization, I guess you might say, and emergency medicine. I don't personally know him. I never heard of him before. I don't know where he came from and I don't know where he's going to, but his name is Murray and he is the author of this report. I've read the report through; it's 59 pages long. It kind of reminds me of the Acts of the Apostles because it ends without telling you where you've gotten and just leaves you hanging, dangling in mid-air.

He does make a couple of statements that have given rise to all this speculation. As far as the emergency urgent care service goes, there's only one reference to it in his entire report of 59 pages, one sentence, and that one sentence says, "In discussion with a community group, the possibility of urgent care servicing using nurse practitioners with family physicians was raised." That's all he says about it. He just skirts on then to something else. He moves on to another subject, but that one sentence gave rise to this question of what are they talking about? What is an urgent care centre? Is that the future they propose for the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital?

Well, we asked the Minister of Health, who should be the be-all and end-all in matters of health service care delivery what that was and we got his answer, and so we know where we stand, and if this government stays in power that's where they're going to take us. I have no doubt of it. We have to get them out of power. Now, I'm not going to get sidetracked right now, Mr. Speaker, but we do need to get them out of power if we have any hope of restoring our health care delivery system in Nova Scotia. That's fact number one.

Now, let's get back to the Murray report. The Murray report gave another sentence and another point. I'm not saying right after the one I just read, it's three or four paragraphs beyond, but the second sentence says, "It may be more appropriate to transfer the acute emergency care workload to one of the other nearby sites from New Waterford . . ." because he's talking about New Waterford, ". . . namely Glace Bay or the Cape Breton Regional Hospital and allow the New Waterford Hospital to develop into an urgent care and primary care centre." So that's his second reference to the urgent care centre in his report and the only other one that he makes, and in neither one of those references does he explain what he's talking about. He doesn't say an urgent care centre is a centre that will be open 16, 12 or 8 hours a day or be moved somewhere else. The Minister of Health says that, but you have to get the commentary and the interpretation of the Minister of Health to understand what is that Murray is talking about. That's why we have to link the two of them together, to get the whole picture.

[Page 8422]

There are other references that have been made by my honourable friend - who has now departed, although I'm not supposed to say that, so I withdraw that remark - and this was with reference to the doctors who are now serving New Waterford. It's not a large number, I don't think in army terms they would constitute a platoon. They might constitute a squad which, as I remember, was one-third of a platoon, six or seven soldiers.

The physician pool is the name that's given to that squad, and Dr. Murray makes one reference to them in terms of the following words, "The physician pool for the community" - that is of New Waterford - "is aging, with three over 50 years of age." My, how horrible, Mr. Speaker. I dare say that you and I and the honourable member for Halifax Needham are over 50 years of age, but we're still fit as a fiddle and willing to serve for years to come. In this learned physician's analysis he found that to be over 50 years of age was something that merited mention, and in a rather uncomplimentary way as if those fellows are heading out to pasture, we can't depend on them.

Then there's another reference here, and one physician, one aged over 80 years of age. (Interruptions) Well, he's the best doctor there is in New Waterford. I know him well and I'm not going to mention his name here on the floor of the House, but I daresay half the members of the House know who we're talking about here. He doesn't want to retire and his patients don't want him to retire, and his medical opinions are the most erudite that you could possibly get from any doctor in town. I find his diagnosis and prognosis to be the most comprehensive that you can obtain. He's ready with a smile to serve his patients whenever they need him, basically - I don't say at 3:00 a.m. in the morning, but if he's on emergency duty I'm sure he would be out at 3:00 a.m. in the morning.

So what's the man complaining about if we've got doctors to serve a community? He seems to think that that's something that we should be shedding tears about. We should be saying, oh, how awful. Naturally, with such a mind set he's going to find ways and means to close that hospital that those doctors serve, with his urgent care centre concept.

Mr. Speaker, that's what the whole kerfuffle is about, I think. If you come out with a blueprint for demolishing a building, for ripping down a steel plant in Sydney, or for levelling the site of I don't know what - a mattress factory outside New Glasgow I was going to say, but it hasn't been levelled it has been made into a warehouse - but if you have plans for doing that kind of thing to existing institutions, then you make them public instead of doing what Donnie Cameron did 10 years ago in sitting on them and keeping them private and confidential. If you make them public, people are going to read them and they are going to get upset by what they say.

This man doesn't have anything good to say about the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital that I can find. It reminds me of the time when that hospital was under attack 10 years ago and Ron Stewart was the Minister of Health. He said well, get me something to show that that hospital is in good shape and should be continued to be operational. I told you

[Page 8423]

this one before, Mr. Speaker, but I will tell you again. I went to the fire marshal because I knew that the fire marshal would have a report on that building in terms of its structural fitness and that he would also have a comparison of that building with the other hospitals in industrial Cape Breton. His conclusion at that time was that it was the best one that they had.

The Cape Breton Regional Hospital was still under construction at the time; it was opened shortly afterwards by the Savage Government in one of their great achievements. But at the time that that fire marshal's report was obtained the hospital was still under construction, and the hospitals he was comparing it with would be the Northside General, St. Rita's, the City of Sydney Hospital in Sydney, and the hospital in Glace Bay. As compared with those other hospitals, the New Waterford Hospital was in the best shape. It was the most recent and modern in terms of construction, and it had the best standards of framework and exterior and interior and all the other things that make up a hospital. What else is there besides exterior and interior? Well, that pretty well covers it. Roof. The roof was the best; the roof did not leak, for example. I just mention that as one of the points that the fire marshal made. In other words, the building was A1.

So the building is A1, the doctors are there to serve it and they're doing a good job; what's the big deal? Why do they want to pick on this one and take it out of existence? I don't know, but I have a hypothesis that I might share with you. I find when I look over the results of the last provincial election, in the riding of Cape Breton Nova, my riding, the Tory candidate got 2 per cent of the votes; 2 per cent, 2 pour cent. And, in Cape Breton Centre, which my honourable friend for Cape Breton Centre represents, the Tory candidate there - as I recall it, I could be wrong - got 5 per cent of the vote. The two weakest ridings for the Tory Party anywhere in the province, and those are the communities that this hospital serves. Now, can you put two and two together, Mr. Speaker, and get four? I hope you can. I do.

I find that their reason for wanting to close this hospital is not based on its structural merit or demerit, the competence of its doctors or staff, or the qualifications of its professional staff, but rather on the fact that nobody down that way votes Tory anyway, so why should we care about it? Shut it down. They may not say that out and out in the Murray report or in the minister's definition of an urgent care centre, but the message is inherent, implicit, and is clear because you wouldn't - ah, we've stirred him to action. He's woken up. I defer to the honourable minister.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. These rabbit tracks that the honourable member is putting out there - and he knows that's simply not correct. I just want to remind those people who are listening that that was a report commissioned by the district health authority, totally by people who serve the health interests of that community.

MR. SPEAKER: It's not a point of order, but certainly a clarification of the facts by the honourable Minister of Health. The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova has the floor.

[Page 8424]

MR. MACEWAN: Had the honourable minister been listening to what I said, he would have found that I said exactly the same thing at the beginning of my speech, that I knew the Murray report was a document of the Cape Breton District Health Authority, but the Cape Breton District Health Authority is set up by legislation, funded by this government and is certainly an extension or an arm of government policy, basically the same way as any other such government agency is. Take the Cape Breton Island Housing Authority, for example. It's not, as such, a part of the Department of Housing, but it certainly functions as a housing authority under the auspices of the government housing program. If the government was going that way and the housing authority was going that way, I'm sure that something would be done very quickly by such as that minister to get the two of them in sync. It's the job of government to see that all of its subordinate agencies, departments, commissions and boards are functioning in one general, overall, cohesive manner and not going in different rabbit tracks, to use the honourable minister's term.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know how much time I have remaining. Two minutes or two hours? Two hours would be better. Two minutes. Well, I can't really develop these themes in much more detail in a short distance of two minutes, but I can assure the honourable minister and those in his government that when the House is going into Supply, that honourable members have this opportunity to get up and say their piece. They can really speak on almost anything they want. I could have gotten up and spoken for 15 minutes about Bob Rae leaving the NDP over the utterances of Svend Robinson. (Interruptions) Oh, they want to hear about that one. If you give me the time, Mr. Speaker, I will gladly indulge them. If I have to deal with this one subject, I will say I may have to terminate my remarks for now, but there can be a second instalment on a future day. Maybe Thursday, maybe Friday, but there will be more opportunities because - just to illustrate the depth of my interest in this field - these constitute my file on the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital. There's lots more in that box and that file to keep the honourable minister alert and awake whenever I next get the chance to take the floor.

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I'm very glad to take part for a few minutes in this motion on Supply. I want to speak very briefly in response to a press release that was released yesterday by the Interim Leader of the Official Opposition. I have to say that never in the course of political spin-messaging has so much disinformation been expressed in such a few words. In four short paragraphs he has three very blatant errors.

In the first paragraph he mentions that my honourable colleague, the member for Kings West, and myself have not pressed the minister for fairness in funding for our district health authority. I think someone should tell the minister that, because he would dissuade them of that misinformation. Someone should talk to his aides; someone should talk to the Premier.

[Page 8425]

They would all dissuade them of the fact that we have not pressed them for fair funding, and we have been assured that we will receive fair funding.

In the third paragraph he complains that we're upset about the fact that population-based illness funding has been released, and he released this information. This information was released two weeks ago in Berwick by the deputy minister, and it was well covered in the papers and well understood.

Then in the last paragraph there's another error. So in four short paragraphs, three blatant errors. This last one, I will let my honourable colleague, the member for Kings West, speak about. But in that wonderful circumlocution, which my honourable colleague used last week, if it walks like a duck and if it sounds like duck, if it smells like a duck, it is a duck, and this duck is quacking lustily three times in this short press release. Thank you. I give the floor to my honourable colleague, the member for Kings West.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. JON CAREY: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is certainly consistent. He consistently misinforms. After being challenged yesterday about a press release that he gave the previous week, he said that this release was about to . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: You don't even believe it yourself, Jon.

MR. CAREY: Yes, I believe it. (Interruptions) He said that he provided information (Interruptions) I just wanted to be sure that I get this right - he wanted to be sure that he provided information to the people of the Valley that they did not already know. Dr. Ward was out to the Valley and already had said that, however, not talking about that gentleman, had the member taken the time to investigate, he would have found that in a press release one week ago, I put in the paper a release that was stating this very thing, that there was an inaccuracy in using this resource intensity weight formula for hospital funding. If he cares to check the paper, it was already there and I already said it.

I was accused by the member of not wanting to have this out. I wanted it out. I put it out a week before. Therefore, the Leader of the Opposition not only puts out inaccuracies, he's running a week behind in getting this information out. (Interruptions)

All I would ask that he do is, why doesn't he just tell the truth, that he doesn't know if the district health authority is funded properly or adequately or not. There is an audit going on and he doesn't know any more than the rest of us. He doesn't know. That's all. If he would just present the facts, it would be most appreciated. I think we have a responsibility here to try to tell people the right information, and not try to mislead. Mr. Speaker, I would pass the remaining time to the member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

[Page 8426]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

MR. JOHN CHATAWAY: I wonder how many proverbial hours or minutes we have for this turn, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: You have about 10 minutes.

MR. CHATAWAY: I very much appreciate this opportunity to get up and speak. I would certainly like to thank the honourable member for Eastern Shore, who was good enough to give me some of the time there. I always appreciate, too, the member for Cape Breton Nova, who as I understand it is the most senior person in this House, speaking. Certainly as one of the ones in this debate now, one of the new guys.

Basically I am very interested in what this Party has done this year with the budget. When I get an opportunity to speak in Chester-St. Margaret's or any other place, many, many people are very interested in what the facts and the figures are. I think the member for Kings West got up and said everybody appreciates the truth. Basically it is a bit frustrating for anybody, especially members of this House, to have somebody get up and not really speak the truth or misalign it so badly. But, at any rate, I know many people are shocked that $11.6 billion is our deficit. Also, one of our biggest expenses is paying just the interest of the deficit; this is about $875 million per year. My oh my, oh my, it boils down to $2.38 million per day. I am not a chartered accountant, but you could check them up, and I also understand, too, it's about $100,000 every hour. So, during this debate, Nova Scotia has spent over $100,000 for every hour the House is in.

So people very much begin to realize that we have to do something with our deficit. Of course, here is the other thing. I know some of the Opposition members said oh, well we borrowed more money. When I get asked that question, I say this is quite simple. It is basically all expenses, long-term and short-term commitments that we have made and, also, all the interest rates that we pay in the run of the next year, all expenses are going to be paid by the revenues that we get this year.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's only been after 40 years that we've finally got this good common sense. Has it been easy? No, it has not been easy, as was pointed out. If it was so easy, other governments, would've said, we do this. It isn't easy. I do know that, of course, we spend and you have to recognize everybody in Nova Scotia. I was beginning to start to realize that it's $5.3 billion to spend around this province. So it's very, very difficult at times, and we have made some hard decisions. Should they have been made? Absolutely, they should have been made.

The first thing we have to do is one, deal with a deficit and then, number two, is deal with the debt. We said - this government, honoured enough to be elected as government - we will balance the budget in 2002. We have done that. Certainly, we can't predict everything

[Page 8427]

right down to the last 5 cents, but it's taken a lot to get to this point. We finally said we are handling the deficit. My goodness, many people come up and they say, oh well, if I was running my house or if I was running my small business or something like this, the banks would have finally bankrupted me many, many years ago and we wouldn't have lasted 40 years. This year we've lasted 40 years, and finally we're getting down to making a good decision on this.

We have to live within our means and that's what we're doing. I'm sure that we in this Party realize that, hopefully we will have handled the deficit and there are some things we can predict, but we can't predict right down to every last thing, but we will handle the deficit, and next year we will start, and this year we're starting on the path of dealing with the debt. My goodness, we can't be $11.6 billion in debt and say this is a normal good way of doing business. You can't do it anymore and we have to run this province just like running a house, running a business, running any sort of thing. You have to live within your means. (Interruption) My friend here, of course, has mentioned a trucking company. I can understand where your background is. (Interruption) Yes, exactly.

The other interesting thing, too, all the provincial Premiers got together in Vancouver relatively recently, and it didn't matter what provincial government was there. Some were Liberal Governments, some were Progressive Conservative Governments, some were NDP Governments, and everyone of them, when they get into that situation and analyze our biggest expenses, every province recognizes our biggest expense in any province is health care, it doesn't matter what political faith the people were, you have to do something to straighten it out with the federal government.

In the good old days when my hair was black, it was 1967, Lester Pearson, the Prime Minister of Canada, got up and said - Lester B. Pearson, yes, there he was - basically he got up and he said we have Medicare, we brought this in. Canada is 100 years old, it's a great thing to do, now it's a 50/50 deal, and every province joined up and did that. Guess what the truth is now? Basically every province - and I believe I can check this with the Minister of Finance - but at any rate we are paying 87 cents, or maybe it's 86 cents, we're paying 87 cents, the federal government is kindly giving us 13 cents.

AN HON. MEMBER: 14 cents.

MR. CHATAWAY: Oh, 14 cents, pardon me, sir. We got another penny out of Ottawa. (Interruptions) Okay, we pay 86 cents and Ottawa is spending 14 cents. We have to straighten it out. Every Canadian wants to have good health service and we have to work on that. The other thing is the first way to deal with any of these fiscal problems is to get fiscal responsibility and that means you have to conduct this business and this government, any business per se in Nova Scotia, as we can afford it and I think basically that's where we've gone.

[Page 8428]

Mr. Speaker, I don't know how many . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Another minute.

MR. CHATAWAY: One minute, okay, thank you very much. I know that every person who represents, especially a rural riding, knows too, that the roads need more repair and this government, slowly but surely is going in the right direction. Certainly everybody will appreciate that and the best thing that the minister, this 2 cent tax that we brought in, yes, but that will be analyzed and released publicly - here's where the 2 cents was, here's where it was spent, on this amount of money and it will be done at least on an annual basis if not more so because then people will know that, yes, we have to pay taxes, et cetera, et cetera, but we're certainly not hiding it. It's not going into general revenues. It's not going to that or going to this. It's going into road repair. So we have to do that.

I was about to give up, (Interruptions) but when you get an opportunity here, I very much appreciate it. It's very good to come here and I would like to do this more often and I very much appreciate the chance to do so. (Applause)

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

The motion is carried.

[2:30 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[6:00 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

"Therefore be it resolved that without rail service, manufacturing in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality will wither and no new manufacturing will be attracted to the area."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

[Page 8429]

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - RAIL SERVICE:

CBRM - IMPORTANCE

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, earlier today we attempted to raise this matter in Question Period. The matter being the announcement by the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway that they intend to abandon all service east of Port Hawkesbury and close down their railway line to Sydney running through the Island of Cape Breton. They have applied to the Utilities and Review Board for an order to cease service in June, I believe the exact date being - well, it is in the month of June anyway an application is to be filed.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South and myself, and I believe the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre, attempted to raise this matter in Question Period. We got very little by way of enlightenment from the ministers concerned. They were the Minister of Economic Development and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and both affected to know very little but to be resolved to do all they could and I guess they would let us know in due course, but not immediately, and they left the matter clouded in a shroud of mystery rather than being forthcoming and upfront as they ought to be here in the House.

Well, I left Oral Question Period unenlightened and uninformed, but I happened to go over to Scotia Square and there I picked up a copy of today's Cape Breton Post, Mr. Speaker, and the whole story we were looking for in Question Period was right here on the front page of the newspaper - "Tories to fight abandonment of rail line". My goodness, they were all full of it, just like the member for Cape Breton North - by Wes Stewart, a staff reporter for The Cape Breton Post. Now, Mr. Speaker, I have every respect for Wes Stewart. He's a man of integrity and competence, but I think it is wrong when Wes Stewart knows more about what's going on about this railway line abandonment than we members of the House do because the government will not tell us what it tells Wes Stewart. I think that deserves attack and condemnation.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I am so worked up on this subject and so is my honourable colleague, the member for Lunenburg West, that we've agreed to split our time here so we can get many kicks at the cat, not just one, and possibly the NDP might do the same thing and the Tories are always looking for a chance to give the honourable member for Cape Breton North an opportunity so might include him as part of their agenda. I merely offer that as a suggestion, but the point is that everything we brought out in Question Period this afternoon is here on the front page of the paper, including the letters that were tabled by myself and the honourable member for Cape Breton South. The letter from Mr. Paul Tellier, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian National Railway. It's dated June 10, 1993, addressed to Dr. John Savage and beginning, "Dear Mr. Premier: This will acknowledge your letter of June 25, 1993, and our various phone conversations confirming that, should Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia cease operations, Canadian National

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Railway agrees to ensure the continuation of rail service on the Truro-Sydney provincial short-line. Yours sincerely, Paul M. Tellier"

That letter appeared on the front page of The Cape Breton Post today, Mr. Speaker, and also a letter from Dr. Savage to the National Transportation Agency stating that Nova Scotia's Government had accepted the proposal to transfer that line from CN to the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway on the assurance that if the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway ceased to operate on that line, CNR would take it over and operate it once again. That was the condition on which the bill of goods was sold.

Now, if we've been short-changed on that transaction, if we've been defrauded, I think something should be done about it. In Question Period the government could not assure us that they were going to do anything about it except maybe flex some limp muscle, but here on the front page you see they're going to go to the Utilities and Review Board as an intervener and oppose that application, also requesting an adjournment of the board's proceedings so that it can be deferred while they attempt to work something out.

So you see, Mr. Speaker, there's one standard here in the House of information forthcoming with the facts. There's another standard employed with The Cape Breton Post and that, sir, is wrong. It should be we in this House who should get the inside story first. The Cape Breton Post, sir, could have printed this story tomorrow afternoon reporting what the minister had told the House here, but instead he went directly to the media with the full truth and here, in the House, had nothing to report.

Now, I have to table this because I've quoted from it and so I do table this photostatic copy. I was reading from that and not from the original newspaper, which I have here. So possibly someone could table that and lay it on the table so all concerned can see it. Now the honourable member for Lunenburg is revving up and is just about ready to take over.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, one does not have to take long to be concerned as a Nova Scotian about the potential loss of that railroad and that railway for the economic survival and economic diversity and economic development opportunities for an area of this province that needs exactly what we are talking about - a future to grow.

We talk about Cape Breton and the concerns about Cape Breton and, as a mainlander, my responsibility is all of Nova Scotia. But just think for a moment if CN decided to pull the rail out of Halifax. Without the rail, there's no port. Without the rail, there's no economic opportunity in regard to export in the broadest sense. When you realize the hundreds of millions of dollars of economic benefit because of that rail for the mainland of Nova Scotia, one is very cognizant of the fact that a rail line is one of the lifebloods of economic opportunity for this province. By the mere fact that they are referring to taking away or

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shutting down the rail line to industrial Cape Breton is similar to cutting down the rail coming into the Province of Nova Scotia.

I had the pleasure one year ago to go and visit Cape Breton and industrial Cape Breton and to go up to some of the areas where there is manufacturing, and some of the more sophisticated manufacturing anywhere in this country. The one single independent issue that they referred to, besides a number of other issues, the single most important issue, whether they manufacture rope, whether they manufacture parts for the auto industry, whatever industry they're in in manufacturing, they said the rail is absolute for their ability to compete and their ability to retain jobs and economic opportunity in Cape Breton. Furthermore, they said if they are to expand from a national perspective, they will need to have that rail maintained.

I would say for this government not to be exercised by the threat of that rail leaving is an indication that either this government is asleep at the switch, or that they don't care, or that this issue is beyond their capability of being able to resolve it. But whatever the case may be, I want it known in this House that it's not just the Cape Breton issue we are referring to here, we are talking about economic opportunity for Nova Scotians who happen to live in Cape Breton. We in this Legislature would be having an emergency debate if it was a rail line in Halifax that was being proposed to be shut down.

That rail line in Cape Breton is the lifeline of economic opportunity for that part of the province. I would say to the minister responsible and to the honourable member for Cape Breton North on the government benches, they should be doing whatever is in their power to make sure that that doesn't happen. We have the CN annual meeting happening in Halifax today and I wonder if either the Premier or any of that front bench has had the tenacity to pick up the phone and phone CN and say, listen gentlemen, we have a problem and we need to have something to be understood. We are going to call your mark with regard to the agreement that you signed with the previous Liberal Government. We demand to have a meeting and find a solution to this problem.

Now it's one thing to criticize; it's another to try to find answers. What I would bring forward to this House is to say to the minister, grab the phone. Don't hide. Meet with the players. Sit down and find a solution so that the rail line and economic opportunities in Cape Breton are not further retarded and slowed down but, in fact, enhanced and given the opportunity to liberalize those people in Cape Breton, find the opportunities of self-reliance, find the opportunities of economic growth, find opportunities for jobs in development for the good people of Cape Breton. This government, you better not fail on this issue. This is your watch. It is your responsibility and you better perform. Thank you.

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

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The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, most times in this venue I would say that government would go next, but I'm happy to go in this round. I am trying not to go over too much ground that has already been plowed because I, in essence, agree with a lot of what the two previous speakers said, that indeed this should be an argument, not so much of stamping what parts of the province we are talking about - but indeed it is a part of the province. You know we are all guilty, probably, of carving out our own little corner and not realizing where it is all going.

Certainly, Mr. Speaker, this is a problem that affects the full economy of this province and it should be looked at in that direction. You know, there are many success stories in and around that, because of that rail line. The member for Cape Breton North had given me some correspondence that we shared, and one that was a company in the Sydport Industrial Park called Trans-Atlantic Preforms. Now, Mr. Speaker, to many people that doesn't sound like much of an operation or a commodity that many people would know about, but it is a local company that has certainly seen a niche in the bottling industry. It takes preformed two-litre, one-litre and 500-millilitre bottles before they are expanded, so what happens is you ship a component of less than probably one-tenth of the size. We all know what the plastic bottling industry is like today with bottled water and all the other commodities in it.

I believe that is one of the industries that is growing and could be hurt by this, by government inaction not to try to get this rescinded or in some way attract a new owner, if you will, of that railway. I would like to see it be CN or someone who would give it stability because that is what we cry for and need in industrial Cape Breton, stability in the economy. We don't want band-aid solutions; we want a solution that is going to affect the wholeness of the problem. For once we are not coming here saying, as politicians, we have jobs in our back pockets for you. What we are is legislators; we are here trying to protect your jobs. We are creating legislation that makes your workplace safer, that provides you with decent child care leave and all those packages. That is why we should be here. Instead, we are mired in things that should be taken for granted in this day and age, Mr. Speaker.

I was somewhat dismayed today in Question Period, when asking the government for answers around this, that it was literally - I would best describe it as sandbagging. Now I know the term often used here - we are not going to negotiate on the floor of this House - and that is probably fair to say to a point. Also, I tell the government, don't shut the other Parties out. If you want cooperation and you genuinely want to help grow the economy, then use us as partners; don't use us as pawns. Talk to us. We have a multitude of knowledge of our area, of industrial Cape Breton, and indeed a lot of ideas about the province, but as long as you are going to play silly bugger, then we are not going to get anywhere. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable member to retract that; it's unparliamentary.

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MR. CORBETT: I will, and I apologize to the House for saying it, Mr. Speaker. It was a slip and I do apologize. I will be sitting down in a minute anyway. I will be sharing my time with the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

Mr. Speaker, I can't get over how that slipped. I can't believe I said that.

Mr. Speaker, we cannot be holding equipment back; we can't be holding back information. Indeed, I think what happened today in Question Period was the government tried to stonewall the Opposition about what was really going on. I think what we need is - if we feel cooperation is coming, certainly it will be reciprocated. So after that silly statement, and hopefully the other stuff isn't erased by that remark, I will be turning the rest of my time over to the member for Halifax Chebucto.

[6:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. As everyone knows when they think about what this nation is all about and has been all about historically and what keeps us together, it's the railroad.

AN HON. MEMBER: The ribbon of steel.

MR. EPSTEIN: This is, in fact, what defines Canada in terms of our existence on the North American continent. It's a ribbon of steel from east to west. That's the important thing. It's why phrases like 'the last spike' resonate with us. It's why those famous photographs of the driving of that last spike are so famous. It's because that is exactly what it is that created this nation 130-some years ago. It's the important thing that was essential to the creation of our country, Canada. If it weren't for that, we wouldn't have that. We would long since have been integrated north-south into the American economy and we wouldn't be a Canada. The essential thing is that hard ribbon of steel from one end of the country to the other. That's absolutely crucial. Moving goods and services by rail is crucial, moving people by rail is crucial and that means from one end of the country to the other.

In Nova Scotia one end of the country means all the way to Sydney in Cape Breton, that's what it means. If that's not available, then the fundamental basis, that fundamental, physical basis underlying the existence of Canada, is missing a crucial piece and there is no right for that piece to be missing. If CN at one point decided it wanted to give up that, I can't say that I was ever happy with that. I don't think it was the right thing. I think that CN's obligation was probably to carry on and keep its ownership and its management and its running of that last piece of the transcontinental railway in place and Paul Tellier should have known that.

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Paul Tellier, we should all remember, was the Clerk of the Privy Council before he was President of CN. The Clerk of the Privy Council means that he was the chief civil servant for Canada at the federal level. As the chief civil servant for Canada at the federal level, he would have dealt with this kind of issue and would have been steeped in the history, traditions and economics of what Canada is all about. Now is the time to remind Mr. Tellier of what he put on paper, lo, a few years ago. He may be of the view, as I've heard it said in an old song - you can say it with flowers, you can say it with mink, but whatever you do, don't say it in ink. Well, he's a little late. He said it in ink - and we have a copy. The important thing is that he should be held to account. He - and even if he is not there, his company - should be reminded by this government in no uncertain terms that this is a fundamental requirement of our existence here.

I think that the economic conditions to support a railroad should of course be in place, but the important thing is that even when a section of the country goes through some fluctuations in its economy and goes through some hard times, you don't rip up the railway track and take it away. That's a big mistake and that will only lead to a further decline. You can't take away that necessary piece of physical infrastructure. It would be bad enough for the railroad link to Sydney to cease to operate with trains on it, but the next stage, of course, would be the ripping up of the track as we've seen happen in many places in this country. If that steel is ripped up, then in fact, no matter how desirable it is that people take these railroad beds and turn them into trails - very nice - but we don't want to lose that section of track at all, period. It just shouldn't happen.

The ripping up of the line itself would be a virtually irrevocable step that we cannot allow ourselves to take before we move in that direction and we call upon the minister to take action now to get the CN on side and get them to move to make sure that the operation of the train does not cease. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time this evening with the member for Cape Breton North who has been working tirelessly on this particular issue. I see that all three Parties in this House have a similar view in that it is not just a Cape Breton problem, all of the people tonight have divided their time between mainland and Cape Breton. I can tell you that this is an issue that this government takes very, very seriously. We have had a team assembled for some time now working towards a solution.

When the federal government announced that they were going to discontinue the coal operation at Devco, it meant that 9,700 fewer cars would be using that line, and when the province made the decision to get out of the steel business, it meant that there would be 1,900 fewer cars travelling as a result of those decisions. The NDP we can understand not having any view to a bottom line, it's a question of putting money into play, but what has to happen here is you have to have an economically viable sustainable solution. EDM's

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proposal to see a bulk handling facility at the Sysco lands means that there will in fact be an opportunity to generate traffic flow.

All of the stakeholders have spoken very positively about the province's role today in trying to find a solution. The province has a role, the federal government has a role, AMCI and their proposal have a role to play in this and they very much want to play a role in generating traffic. At the end of the day there has to be something in the range of 7,000 to 10,000 cars annually to make that line viable.

It's fine to say that CN should take over that line regardless of what kind of traffic flow. There's no point in trying to create a model that cannot be sustained. I believe there is an opportunity, and I believe that if everyone comes to the table with a willingness to co-operate that we can find that solution. The members opposite would talk about not wanting to play politics and not wanting to use empty rhetoric to take political advantage of a situation. They want to be engaged and involved, but evidence flies in the face of that. What's to convince us, as government, that their help would truly be help and not just meddlesome interference?

A number of people in government, at all levels, are working towards a solution that will work. As I said earlier on, the redevelopment strategy for the Sysco lands and the opportunities that lie on the horizon speak very clearly to the fact that there is an opportunity for sustainability here. It's all about finding something that works and it takes time. I can tell you that government came out very clearly saying that we would not allow this abandonment strategy to move forward unencumbered by government involvement.

There is a role and there is a process. The URB have a process that's clearly outlined in the Railroads Act and we will follow that and we will ensure that the company involved follows the terms and conditions of the URB process to the full extent required to ensure that every possible opportunity is put forward and examined in detail to find a solution. Mr. Tellier's comments around CN's commitment to and willingness to participate in finding the solution was evident. They have a role to play and they're willing to play that role by directing traffic flow, because that helps them. Nova Scotia Power has a role to play - in fact they were users of the rail line and need to use that rail line into the future, so it makes sense to find a solution that does not require endless participation by the provincial government. We want a model that stands on its own; we believe that works.

The economy in Cape Breton is making a resurgence that hasn't been seen in some time; in fact the numbers employed in Cape Breton now are at record highs compared to the past number of years, so there's a solution.

Now I would like to relinquish my time to the member for Cape Breton North.

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

MR. CECIL CLARKE: Yes, and thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I think I join with all my colleagues when we share our concern over this issue. One of the things we have to look at is the impact on the existing stakeholders who are in Cape Breton that are contributing and employing people today and relying on the railway; not just talking about business loss from decisions that were made by federal and provincial governments over the last number of years, but the preservation of existing business and where the areas of opportunity lie for future business in the line.

What I can say emphatically in this House is, is there a belief that business exists and can exist to keep that line open as a private-driven rail line? Yes, there is, Mr. Speaker. The stakeholders in the community are doing what they can. This process didn't just happen overnight and it wasn't something that the member from the Liberal caucus brought up previously, that there would be an emergency debate if this was elsewhere. Well, 9,700 rail cars, with the decision of Devco, were taken off, the equivalent of what we are looking at now. I would love to see the emergency debate that the government of the day called when that decision came down with regard to the impact that the federal decision would have.

The reality is there have been a number of factors that have come to bear to create the situation we're in today. What we have to do is focus on reasoned and reasonable solutions for the future of the rail line for Cape Breton. That's what I've been part of in working with the stakeholders. Mr. Speaker, the stakeholders on the ground have submitted to the Utility and Review Board, and I will table a copy of this, but just to summarize, ". . . that the Board apply the six-month maximum notification period allowed for in the Act to enable the remaining customers and stakeholders of the CB&CNS Railway to reasonably implement alternative contingency plans. We further request that the Board accept this letter as a formal objection to the . . . application . . ." It goes on, but I will provide that as a copy and table it.

Mr. Speaker, I concur with those members and I believe their response, in light of the actions by RailAmerica, through CB&CNS, to be reasonable and appropriate given the impact they've received. I think we need to support them. Government itself, through the Attorney General, has also tabled to oppose the application. That has been an action by this government and, further, to look at the review process for hearings and if that is something they are going to pursue. So we have to encourage the people to have the dialogue. But this is something as well, as an issue, that we have to get the facts on the table. What the facts are is this government is working with major industry players that can put that on the line. That does include continued dialogue with CN. It includes dialogue with AMCI through provincial energy ventures. It includes a dialogue with Emera and Nova Scotia Power.

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One of the things you look at is their viability. If you look at the numbers for Devco, this government's commitment through the Minister of Natural Resources to say there is a future for coal in private hands in Cape Breton and the fact that companies are having to move coal for the power plants that we have, then there is indeed the fundamental basis to say there's a business case for a privately-driven solution for the railway. What it requires is time, and I am very disappointed with RailAmerica's decision to apply to the URB when so much effort has been made by this government, the community stakeholders, the community at large and businesses to pursue new business for that line.

However, the door is not closed and we welcome continued progress so that RailAmerica, through CB&CNS, will realize the types of volumes necessary and have the assurances that the line will have a viability well into the future. But it is not done and it is not done by rhetoric on the floor. This is too serious an issue to Cape Breton and to all of Nova Scotia. The reality is we do not have the driver of the most significant North Atlantic port, as Halifax has. We do have, however, the opportunities that can be realized, further opportunities when businesses - say AMCI, through provincial energy ventures, went to the Sysco piers, Mr. Speaker. Why? Because they viewed the rail as a strategic piece of infrastructure for them to operate part of their multinational business and they view Cape Breton as a very cost-competitive environment in which to do business.

Now a company that makes over $700 U.S. a year would not make a decision to locate in Cape Breton if it thought for a minute that there wouldn't be a viable future or they weren't in serious negotiations with other business interests, Mr. Speaker. The reality is there is a future for that rail line. This government is part of the solution, not part of the rhetoric problem that we're hearing even here tonight. I am very disappointed in some of those colleagues, and shame on him for that.

Mr. Speaker, I believe we will continue to ensure that the voice of reason and the voice of balance will ensure the CB&CNS Railway continues, because it is going to have the business and the volumes that will drive Cape Breton's economy, and so we will see employment levels and diversified economic activity unheard of when another government across the way was claiming they were doing all. But today, we're part of their problem in not actioning what we are doing.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time for the late debate has expired. I would like to thank the honourable members for taking part in this debate.

[6:30 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. William Dooks in the Chair.]

[7:00 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made some progress in considering Supply and asks leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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. 112.

Bill No. 112 - Gas Distribution Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, what we're dealing with here is Bill No. 112. It's the government's latest plan to try to roll out gas inside the Province of Nova Scotia. This has been from start, to what is not yet unfortunately the finish, an extremely sorry story. It's enough to make you weep. At every turn, the way the Nova Scotia resource, the resource that we own, the gas that is off our shores which is such a potentially valuable resource, the way that has been managed has been a disgrace from the moment it was first known to exist to the moment now with the government's latest fumbling efforts to try to secure in some fashion for us who live here in this province some minuscule benefit at long last from the resource that we own.

It is not as if Nova Scotia is rich in resources. We have some significant ones and some interesting ones. We certainly have forestry and we have some agriculture. We have a very rich fishery. We have some mining activity and we have some energy, but it's all at a relatively low level. When it became known that there was the possibility of recovery of gas from our offshore in commercial quantities that could actually be extracted, there was great excitement.

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Crucial to understanding that is to remember and not forget for a moment that it's a non-renewable resource. Non-renewable means you can use it once and then it's gone. It's not like fish. It's not like apples. It's not like blueberries. It's not like one of those things which, if you have a bad year and it turns out that the crop is not what you expected, the take is not what you expected, the price is not what you expected, well, you buckle down to work and you deal with it again the next year and maybe you'll do better and even if you have a run of several bad years, maybe you'll do better the next year. You hang on.

That's not what gas is about. That's not what any fossil fuel is about. It's available once, and once it's used, it's gone. Now, that's the crucial fact and has always been the crucial fact. What that meant and should have meant is that from day one the governments that were in power should have looked at this and said we have to do this right, there's no second chance. There may be a lot of fumbling around later on, but there's no real second chance.

Now, getting on for 20 years ago in recognition of that and in recognition of the fact that this gas was primarily offshore and, therefore, within federal jurisdiction, negotiations were entered into with the federal government in order to try to share for Nova Scotia some of the benefit for us. An amazing deal, an interesting deal was entered into between the province and the federal government.

What the federal government agreed to do was to share jurisdiction on the offshore gas. They went further - in the mutual accord Acts that were passed federally and provincially it was stated that Nova Scotia ought to be the main beneficiary of that gas. But that hasn't happened. How could we have become the main beneficiary of that gas? Certainly not by what has happened so far. The best way for us to have become the number one main beneficiary - in the language of the Statute - would have been for that project to have been developed as a project to benefit the Maritimes - Nova Scotia first, New Brunswick second. That's it. Maybe other provinces, but not for export. That shouldn't have happened; that should never have happened in the first place.

This project was designed for export and that's what it has been. This project has been purely for export and that means that Nova Scotians have never been able to have access to that gas in any meaningful way. It was clear from day one that the American proponents of the SOEP project were interested only in export.

Now I think that perhaps there isn't anyone in this room - apart from myself - who was an active participant in the hearings before the National Energy Board in 1997; the year-long activities and hearings of the National Energy Board. They were joint hearings, the panel that was convened was a panel that represented the National Energy Board, that represented the federal government in its environmental assessment function and the provincial government in its environmental assessment function. But I did participate in all of those hearings for a full year and it was fascinating, and we learned a lot. I would have wished that the

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governments in power - and it spanned, slightly different governments during that time - had also learned a great deal.

I've heard members opposite make reference to the offshore oil and gas conference that's about to take place in Houston. I should put on the record right now that at the invitation of the minister responsible, I'm happy to say, or I'm interested to say, that I'm going to go to Houston to that conference next month and I will be happy to learn something more about the oil and gas industry.

But I have learned a lot already and Nova Scotians have learned a lot already about what goes on and has gone on and what has failed to go on with respect to our offshore, because they know that the hard fact is that we have access to virtually none of that gas that is our resource, that belongs to us, and that the legislation says ought to benefit Nova Scotians first, and it doesn't. It doesn't because it's an export project.

At the last minute, during those National Energy Board hearings, there was worked out an agreement among the major partners, including the Government of Nova Scotia, and it was known as the joint position on tolling and laterals among the Province of Nova Scotia, the Province of New Brunswick, Sable Offshore Energy Project, and Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline. I will table this, I have a copy, but I'm sure all members would have had the opportuntiy to see it because it is part of the final report of the Joint Public Review Panel for the Sable gas projects.

Here's what it says with respect to tollings and access to gas. What it says, and I will quote the passage: "In order to facilitate early service to local communities in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the SOEP Producers undertake to keep available for contracting by local distribution companies on commercially acceptable terms and conditions, 10,000 MM Btu/day of gas for each province (total of 20,000 MMBtu/day) for a period of the initial three (3) years." Well, whoop-de-do.

Mr. Speaker, do you know what that is? The daily production, which was reached almost immediately from the start of the extraction of gas from the six fields that make up the Sable project was 520,000 million BTUs per day. In other words, what was being reserved for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick was 3.7 per cent of the daily production, that's half of that amount for Nova Scotia, half of that percentage, and half of that percentage for New Brunswick. In other words, less than 2 per cent of the daily production is reserved and only for a period of three years for Nova Scotia customers; after that the market decides.

I will tell you the hard fact, the hard fact is that they don't want to sell gas in the Maritimes, they want to sell gas to their customers in the United States. Do you know why? It's because the tolling is different as soon as you cross the New Brunswick border into the United States. Once they've built the pipeline all the way to Draycot, Massachusetts, they have made a significant investment of dollars, and they get more in the tolling from their

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American customers than they get from customers here, so they want more money, they want the higher fees that are paid by the American customers. That makes sense from their point of view but it sure isn't a benefit for us.

I will tell you something else, the situation is even worse than that. That line can be pressurized, and that line has been pressurized as I understand it. It can as much as double the daily production, and we're not guaranteed a percentage, we're guaranteed an absolute number. In Nova Scotia our three-year guarantee, about to expire at the end of this calendar year, will go from less than 2 per cent to less than 1 per cent of the daily production. That's our guarantee. Thank you very much Government of Nova Scotia of the day; thank you very much Liberal Government of Nova Scotia of the day. That was the deal that they entered into at the time.

Nova Scotians know it because, of course, they know that our gas, of which we were supposed to be the prime beneficiaries, is being used in the United States, the New England States, in States that didn't have gas before our gas went through them. They're using it to generate electricity. The North American pipeline grid, that is the American pipeline grid and the part of it that hooked up to the western part of Canada didn't go beyond Draycot, Massachusetts. It didn't go to New Hampshire and Maine, they were without gas until our pipeline, with our gas, or I should say Maritimes & Northeast's pipeline with our gas, introduced gas to them, our competitors - they're our competitors. Geographically, we are linked to them. This may have escaped the notice of successive governments, but geographically, we are linked to them - Maine, New Hampshire, the New England States, and they are our competitors, they are our business competitors. They wouldn't have had gas, and we would have had gas if that project had been developed as a domestic project here for our consumption, for our benefit. But there was no willingness to do that, there was no gumption, there was no vision, there was no view that we ought to be involved in doing that if we couldn't get other companies to do it.

There were other companies that were prepared. TQM was interested, a Canadian company was interested in coming with a pipeline here. It would have been a Canadian project, could have been a Canadian project. We already owned, through NSRL, part of that offshore. It could have been developed here for domestic consumption. It wasn't. That was the first big sell out.

To leap ahead, here we are with a Gas Distribution Act at the far end of this, trying to tidy up, somehow thinking that a gas distribution bill in place, no matter how well written it might be, and it has problems, might somehow secure access to our gas for us. But the hard fact that every Nova Scotian knows, as was said the other day, is they're taking our gas in New England and using it to generate electricity and, in Nova Scotia, no one can cook a hamburger with Nova Scotia gas. There is something seriously wrong with that picture.

[Page 8442]

[7:15 p.m.]

That's just the start; it gets worse. All during those hearings, it got worse. The suggestion was constantly made by the proponents of the project all throughout the hearings that this was a project that was going to be the start of a whole new kind of economy in the Maritimes. They put forward a whole variety of arguments that they tried to suggest were going to be benefits. They constantly talked about the SOEP project as a seed project. Indulge us, was the message. Don't worry about it if you don't think we are going to get really good benefits here in Nova Scotia, but indulge us because this is just a seed project. There are going to be all kinds of other projects out there.

Well you know, that's the stage we're still at. There are no other projects that are actually happening out there. There's lots of exploration, there's lots of talk, there are lots of pretty coloured maps on the wall. We're going to have a new Department of Energy. There's been a Petroleum Directorate. There's been all kinds of trips down to this conference and other conferences and meetings and everyone can go around feeling as if there's an oil economy and that it's booming and that everything is happening, but it isn't. It has yet to happen. So far, the one project that we have up and running is the SOEP project, based on those six SDLs for which they have been able to extract gas.

Let's remember that at that time, and still, the SOEP partners owned rights to more than those six SDLs. An SDL, Mr. Speaker, is a significant discovery licence. It represents a parcel on the ocean floor that they think has promise. They had rights to another 16 SDLs. They haven't been developed. It was only those six. So we can think of SOEP as a seed project, but we're five years along from those hearings in 1997 and there has still been a lot of casting of seed, but it's mostly upon pretty stony ground, not much to show for it beyond that one project, and it's not gas that we can use. It's gas for export, I remind you.

What about new industry? There was a lot of talk at the time that there was going to be all kinds of new industry developed here. But, do you know what? The proponents were sensible enough not to try to make the growth of new industry in Nova Scotia part of their case. It was not a formal part of their case. They specifically denied that they were alleging new industry in Nova Scotia based on gas as part of their benefits that they were trying to advance. At the same time, Mr. Bennett, who I think was the president or the manager of the SOEP project at the time, said that what they were doing was, "'bringing a new economy to the Province of Nova Scotia, and the Maritimes in general.'" There is no new economy, especially since they avoided making new industry part of their case. They simply avoided it.

What about low energy costs for us here? Now that might have been a benefit. Suppose we had lower energy costs here?

[Page 8443]

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

MR. EPSTEIN: Absolutely.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services on an introduction.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the honourable member for allowing me the time for an introduction. Honourable members, I would like to indicate to you, in the west gallery a group from the 2nd Wellington Scouts. We have Natalie Doucette,

Katelyn Kienapple, Kiya Wagg, Sara Creelman, Colin Ross, Brody Gerard, Justin Gillis, Danny Creelman, Dillan Lebrech, Steven Gillis, and they're accompanied by their leaders, Marian Doucette, Gerald Burgess, Danny Doucette and Len Wagg. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our special guests to the gallery this evening.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to see the scouts here this evening, hello.

Here is the next aspect of a way in which we might have had a benefit, but we have not - lower energy costs. Well, lower energy costs in Nova Scotia, of course, depends on access to the gas. It means, can an industry get that gas directly or will Nova Scotia Power get access to that gas and burn it and result in a lower cost to customers? I don't think so. Nova Scotia Power, in fact, did negotiate a contract with the suppliers of that gas.

It turned out, much to the surprise of the proponents, that there were industrial customers in the Maritimes who were interested in the gas, and the first three who came forward were Nova Scotia Power, New Brunswick Power and the Irvings and they signed contracts to have access to some of that gas. If it weren't for those contracts, there was nothing in that deal that I quoted from before that would have secured any gas for any entity in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick; no protection was put in place by the government. It was through the private contracts that were negotiated, which is fine. It's fine that those contracts were negotiated, but it was just a start and it was just the beginnings of the acknowledgment of the fact that there's a real potential market here in Nova Scotia, and that ought to have been the main focus, not just an add-on, not just something that was done at the time. It certainly hasn't resulted in lower energy costs for consumers of electricity, as we know, given the current rate application or in general availability of the gas.

We do know that there has been stimulus to the economy in terms of employment. I agree, but it was short term during the construction phase and the proponents always admitted that. They always said that the stimulus to the economy through employment would be in the construction phase, not in the extraction, or not in the production phase, and that was exactly what happened. Lots of activity during that, but no real substantial numbers of long-term jobs from the production.

[Page 8444]

There was not any big advance in terms of investment that had to take place for research here. It never took place. It wasn't necessary and, of course, there was the famous episode of our government at the time giving up the back-in rights. As we all remember, Section 40 of the Canada-Nova Scotia Accord legislation granted the Province of Nova Scotia the right to acquire ownership of up to 50 per cent of the undersea pipeline and, at the time, the provincial government gave up that right. They didn't swap it for cash. They didn't swap it for some greater benefit on the royalties. They didn't swap it for anything. They just gave it up, and when the various officials who were responsible were asked why, they said, well, a policy decision was made not to be in the oil and gas business anymore.

Well, that's fine, I mean I might disagree, but once they made a policy decision not to be in the oil and gas business, there are lots of different ways not to be in the oil and gas business and one of the best of them would have been to swap those back-in rights for something valuable to the people of Nova Scotia - some cash to pay down our debt, for example. It would have been a very good idea. It didn't seem to occur to them. I asked specifically at the time whether giving up the back-in rights had entered into the negotiations over the royalties. No, was the answer; no, it had no benefit.

I also want to remind members here that when we are thinking about this mopping up operation that Bill No. 112 represents, we shouldn't forget, in the context of how this gas is supposed to benefit us first and foremost, that there has already been substantial dollar investment by the people of Canada in the offshore exploration that led to that gas in the first place. I hope the members of this House remember PIP grants, the Petroleum Incentive Program. We heard solid figures about this during the hearings. For the Scotian Shelf as a whole, Canadian taxpayers have granted the SOEP partners some $155 million. That was in 1997.

Will we ever recover that amount of money? How much has Nova Scotia made so far in the royalties? It was $10 million, $10 million, and it is going to be $10 million again this year. It is very nice to have $10 million coming in a year that we didn't have before, but it is nowhere near the kind of money that we need.

I am being asked by one of the members of the House what it is that the Government of Nova Scotia will take in, in royalties, over the full life of the project. The answer is, it depends - it depends on how long the project is. I will give you the figure in a moment, I will give you what I think is the most optimistic figure. We heard it from the minister at the time, Eleanor Norrie. She finally filed and made public their projections on the royalties to flow to the Province of Nova Scotia over the expected lifetime of the project. At the lower level of extraction, that is the non-pressurized line, the life expectancy of the SOEP could be in the order of 20 to 25 years. Because of the offset under the federal-provincial equalization system, the figure of $2.5 billion, which is sometimes used as total royalties, is offset to the tune of at least 70 percent. That means that over the lifetime of that project, the best that could be expected would be about $800 million. That is over a 20 to 25 year period. That is

[Page 8445]

why I say that when we think again about this mopping-up operation represented by Bill No. 112, and compare it with the missed opportunities for real benefits, it is completely inadequate. Real benefit would have been hard cash, in hand, in substantial amounts from royalties. That would have been the best opportunity because virtually none of the other benefits that had been talked about when the ministers of the time and the corporate executives of the time were blue-skying it, have ever really materialized. They either didn't exist or they were minimal or they were evanescent like the jobs.

We know that when you think about the structure of the royalty agreement, because it proceeds in tiers, and we can compare it with the kind of royalty agreement that was negotiated, for example, in Newfoundland, that it is just not as good as that one. When you look at the royalty agreements that are in place in older, gas-producing parts of Canada - Alberta for example, Ontario, Saskatchewan - the royalty benefits are again not nearly as good as they ought to be for us here. Because so few of the other alleged benefits are actually going to come through or have come through, royalties should be the focus.

[7:30 p.m.]

So this project has been a disappointment from day one. Now we have had some stimulus to our economy through this, there have been goods and services that have been provided, not just in the development phase of this project, but in the exploration that's associated with the offshore as well. That's been very welcome, but we all know - and I won't go into details again - about the limitations of those benefits to the local economy; we argue about them all the time here. Constant examples come up, the latest one being the failure to secure for our shipyards the opportunity to be doing the latest tendered work.

I agree that it's very difficult to secure these kinds of benefits here. There are some things that we're just not equipped to do. Certainly we can do the legal work, we can do some of the engineering work, we can do some of the surveying, we can provide food, and we have helicopter services and we have other forms of supply vessels going back and forth, but there are other aspects of the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just remind the honourable members to keep their cell phones off in the House, please. The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto has the floor.

MR. EPSTEIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There are other aspects, big-ticket items like the construction of rigs and the repair of rigs that we don't always get. We don't manufacture all the steel components that go into it - again, big-ticket items. Now, at some point maybe we will develop some expertise in this and some industries will come along. I am not saying there hasn't been stimulus to our economy, what I'm saying is that it has been inadequate and it doesn't live up to the standard that was supposed to prevail. This is our resource and Nova

[Page 8446]

Scotians are supposed to be the prime beneficiaries, the main beneficiaries. It just hasn't happened.

So what happened after that? The SOEP won its approvals and got up and running. It's been up and running for two years; the gas is being exported and we're still not the main beneficiaries. But attention then turned to the question of how we might hope to actually deliver this gas if a market could be developed here and if we could secure the gas. Let me remind you again of what was in that agreement on tolling and access to the gas. The access to the gas, for less than 2 per cent of it was guaranteed to Nova Scotians for only three years, what that meant was that our best opportunity to get up and running in terms of developing a market for the gas was probably within that three years. But there was another angle from which you could consider it in which we still had an okay opportunity within 10 years. The benefit there was that on the tolling side of it there was a special reduction, but it wasn't going to last any more than 10 years for Nova Scotia.

Let me remind members that when a customer buys natural gas on a gas system they are paying for two things. Whether those services are bundled or not, what they're paying for is the gas and they're paying for the shipping of that gas, and tolling is the term that refers to the cost of shipping the gas.

It was part of that agreement that there be a reduction in the tolling for Nova Scotia for ten years. Let me remind members that the tolling regime was what's called a postage stamp regime. Again I will table - I think I have a copy of the definitions of what a postage stamp toll design is. Postage stamp toll design means that rates charged are the same regardless of distance of haul on a pipeline. In other words, throughout the whole province the rate was going to be the same, and we even got a discount on the postage stamp rate.

The other kind of rate design is what is known as point-to-point toll design and the definition of that is, "Rates are allocated to each delivery point on a pipeline based on the volume delivered and the distance covered from the start of the pipeline." I find I do have the copy to table, Mr. Speaker.

It was postage stamp that was decided during those hearings back in 1997 to be what everyone wanted. We wanted a postage stamp rate and, so that that meant that everyone everywhere in Nova Scotia was going to pay the same tolling for their gas and that was considered fair and we got a discount. Here's the discount that we got: the discount was - I will quote from the page that I've already tabled earlier - "In order to provide both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick with lower rates to help develop the Canadian market, M&NP agrees to discount firm service tolls to delivery points located in Nova Scotia by 10 (10%) percent for the initial eight (8) years and four (4%) percent for each of the next succeeding two (2) years."

[Page 8447]

Ten per cent for eight years, 4 per cent for the next two years. In other words, the total cost of becoming a customer of any gas system in Nova Scotia was going to be cheaper for Nova Scotia customers, even given the postage stamp system, but only for 10 years and the better deal was on the first eight years. Do you know what? We're two and a half years into that and every year that goes by we're missing out on the opportunity for a discount on that postage stamp system. So the best time to have distributed gas in Nova Scotia, to have gotten the system up and running, was at the same time that gas came ashore. If not at the same time as gas came ashore, then as soon thereafter as possible. That didn't happen and it hasn't happened and it's been a big mess ever since.

Here is what it is that has been floundered around with in the last few years: the province has tied itself in knots trying to decide how it is that they can distribute gas or arrange to have gas distributed around this province. What system would work? You know what? No matter how much they think about whether - oh, it ought to touch all 18 counties, oh, it all ought to go within seven years' rollout, oh, maybe 10 years rollout is appropriate. Maybe it ought to start in Nova Scotia, oh, what about Cape Breton? All serious questions, but the fundamental error was made when early on this project was designed for export because once this project was designed for export we were left with a mopping -up operation.

It will be a miracle if we ever get gas here in any serious quantities for our industrial, commercial, institutional or residential customers. We could use it and we ought to use it because there are industrial, commercial, institutional and residential customers who would be prepared to use it and who could benefit from it and there, of course, will be an environmental benefit. I'm not one who sees gas as being an environmental saviour. Everyone knows that it's a transition fuel. It will get us from an era, maybe, in which there's reliance on older, more established, and definitely dirtier forms of fossil fuels - Bunker C, coal - into a new era where something else will replace fossil fuels entirely. But gas is a transition fuel and it will help us - all of us in Canada, anyone else - meet appropriate standards, whether those standards are embodied in an international agreement like Kyoto or not. Given the news out of Ottawa now, it looks a little dubious. It doesn't matter whether an international agreement is entered into or not; the crucial thing is whether those new standards are met.

So I have no illusions about how wonderful it would be, but I think it would be of some benefit and it would help us through a transition. If it had been for domestic purposes, it would have been available to us for a longer period. Will it ever be available to us here, is the question we have to ask - beyond the small amounts that we see now?

Well, it's certainly the case that there's a market for gas in the United States and we saw a very smart, major local corporation, Nova Scotia Power, buy into the natural gas business. They're our major electricity generator here. When Devco put up coal mines for sale a few years ago, even though Nova Scotia Power is the main customer for burning coal in Nova Scotia, they didn't buy a coal mine even though they were for sale. They didn't go

[Page 8448]

into that business, but they did invest $200 million in the gas business. They saw more of a future there.

So it is a transition fuel and would be important to us here if we can ever get our hands on significant quantities. Well, what was the first thing that was thought of? Let's set up a framework for gas distribution inside Nova Scotia. Remember, I'm profoundly skeptical about whether this is going to have any use at all, but it was put forward on the principle that all areas of the province ought to have an equal opportunity to have access to that gas. If you can't do that instantly - as everyone recognizes, it takes a while to physically build the infrastructure and to build the business, to attract the customer interest. The idea of taking the gas out to all 18 counties over a seven-year period was what was judged to be appropriate. The Utility and Review Board held hearings and there were really only two main companies that, in the end, came forward thinking that they might be able to do this. One was Sempra Atlantic Gas Ltd., the American company that was ultimately given the franchise opportunity. The other was Maritimes NRG, essentially an Irving company that was created for the purpose of bidding on that franchise.

Maritimes NRG, from the very beginning, was extremely skeptical about whether it was even possible to develop the market here according to the rules that had been set up at the time. Other entities, like SaskEnergy, which earlier came forward and thought about the possibility of gas distribution in Nova Scotia, were completely discouraged by the rules that were in place. I have to say they were probably also discouraged by the general mess in terms of administration of the oil and gas portfolio here, and they went away, they didn't bid. It turns out that Maritimes NRG were probably quite right to be skeptical about whether it was possible to actually develop the market here according to the rules. Sempra was awarded the franchise, and after a lot of dancing around decided to back out. That left us with no franchise holder and no reasonable prospect of gas distribution. Now what are we going to do?

[7:45 p.m.]

Well, the government has apparently rethought its position. They've rethought what it is that might help get some gas distributed around the Province of Nova Scotia. What has been jettisoned, quite clearly, is the idea that gas will be made available in some reasonable period of time to all areas of the province. It should frankly be said to those in the remoter, less-populated parts of the province that the scheme that is now contemplated, the scheme that Bill No. 112 talks about, the scheme that the regulations that were tabled by the minister the other day implements, does not require that gas be rolled out to all parts of the province. The idea is that the market will prevail.

What that means is that the population centres or where industry already exists and is reasonably close to the main pipeline, they will get gas. They will get gas at an early date. They may, in fact, be the only ones who will ever get access to this gas that is supposed to

[Page 8449]

be our resource and supposed to provide us with the main benefits. People in Cape Breton, businesses in Cape Breton shouldn't hold their breath. People up and down the Annapolis Valley, they shouldn't hold their breath. If they're thinking that they might get access to natural gas for their businesses, for their existing businesses, for their existing industries, for their residential customers, they ought to face up to it, that doesn't seem to be what this government is prepared to promote. Probably the only way to have in fact guaranteed that would have been to have started with an entirely different project from day one.

However late it is, probably the government is just facing up to the hard business reality. But this isn't desirable, and we know this from the parallel with electricity, because as it happened, of course, when electricity began to be the essential commodity of industrial infrastructure in the 1920s and 1930s, that the private companies only wanted to deliver electricity to the areas that were easy to serve, that meant Halifax and Dartmouth and Truro. So there were a whole series of small, privately-owned electricity companies all over this province. The small areas, fishing communities for example, that could usefully use electricity for refrigeration of their product didn't get electricity until the government stepped in and started to make sure that a public company delivered electricity.

Finally, around 1970 - I am sure, Mr. Speaker, you know the story - there were two companies through consolidation. There was one public company and one private company. The private company essentially serviced all the easy-to-serve areas of the province, and the public company was serving the harder-to-serve, more diversified, less populated areas of the province. A public policy decision was made at the time that there ought to be one publicly-owned company, and they were merged. The public company bought out the private company, and that's how we got Nova Scotia Power, which continued to serve the public on that shared basis all across Nova Scotia until the privatization Act of 1992. I still think privatization was not a good idea, but the parallel, it's not necessary to go into it at this point, but the parallel with gas is obvious. It's clear that we're setting ourselves up for exactly the same situation. There will be multiple franchises all over Nova Scotia. There will be one for Antigonish and there will be one serving metro and maybe there will be one that will serve the Strait area. Little by little over the decades maybe they'll spread, but the sparsely populated areas, they won't get gas unless it's through the intervention of the public sector. It just won't happen.

I predict that what is likely to happen is that by the time there is an infrastructure of gas pipelines all across this province, or at least across a reasonable portion of it, will just about be the time that we run out of gas here and that being hooked up to the North American grid means we'll be importing gas from the United States. At that point my observation that we should have developed this in the first place as a Nova Scotia project will not only again be shown to be correct, but it will be shown to have been correct in, unfortunately, the worst possible way. At that point the whole notion of having hooked up to the North American grid won't even make us an exporter. We'll be an importer. That's not going to be so very wonderful.

[Page 8450]

Not so long ago in this Chamber, about an hour ago, we were discussing railways and the importance of railways as a linkage to keep Canada together. Given the way that our country has evolved and the way that the economy has evolved and the way that our energy needs have evolved, the kind of transCanadian linkage that we could have looked for would have been an energy linkage, perhaps based on gas and other associated forms of energy. That would have been good, but that wasn't the fundamental decision that was made.

Mr. Speaker, I have attempted to give what I think is an important context to Bill No. 112. I don't think anyone here can understand what it is that Bill No. 112 does unless they understand the whole history of where we came from and it has been a history of failures at every turn. I have to say that I don't expect that this bill is going to advance us very far either. I want now to draw out a few particular questions that I have about the situation that we're in because these questions are not answered in the legislation we have in front of us, nor have I heard the minister deal with these issues.

Let's remember one of the factors that drove Sempra away. Let's remember the road shoulder issue. What happened with the road shoulder issue? Sempra said that for it to be economical for it to distribute gas, it had to be able to run its lines along the road shoulders of the secondary highways. Now, I don't even know whether this dispute has resulted in a lawsuit. I hope it hasn't. I hope it doesn't. I would appreciate being brought up-to-date on that point by the ministers, but that issue is going to be a live issue.

Do we expect that some other applicant for a franchise is going to come forward and say that they, too, want to put their lines in the shoulders of the secondary roads? Is this going to be allowed? If it's not going to be allowed, let's hear the appropriate minister, whether it is the Minister of Economic Development or the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, tell us and tell the potential franchise applicants in no uncertain terms what the answer is. If the answer is no, what is that going to do to the projected costs? Are we, in fact, going to have any people coming forward if they can't use the road shoulders? That is an issue. It is still out there, it is still a live issue and it is one on which we have to hear from the minister.

Now here is another aspect. You remember that I mentioned previously the postage stamp tolls. Three or four years ago it was decided that postage stamp tolls were the appropriate, fair way of tolling for the delivery of gas inside Nova Scotia - one rate, no matter where you are. But this legislation does away with the principle of postage stamp tolling. This legislation says no, no, we are not interested in postage stamp tolling any more; this legislation says we are going to have a point-to-point toll design.

Why? On what principle? I haven't heard a word from the minister about his explanation of why it is that postage stamp tolling is no longer appropriate. Why is it that point-to-point is suddenly the measure of fairness, and if it is not a measure of fairness, what

[Page 8451]

is it designed to do? When you have differential rates, it is either designed to encourage or discourage something. We haven't heard from the minister about that.

What it means is that the farther away you are from the supply of gas, the more expensive it is, even within our small province, to have access to that gas. This is an extra problem for people in the old industrial Cape Breton in the Sydney area; it is an extra problem for people down in Yarmouth. Now this is a small province. That is why it is that the postage stamp rate was decided to be fair for Nova Scotia.

Why has this minister decided that point-to-point rates for the tolls are the way to go? Who has been whispering in his ear and suggesting that this is either fair or appropriate? We haven't heard a word from the minister about this; I want to hear from the minister about what it is he thinks he is accomplishing.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

Would the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto like to move adjournment of the debate, please?

MR. EPSTEIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. At this point I would like to move adjournment of the debate on Bill No. 112.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I will defer to the House Leader of the Liberal Party, who will run tomorrow's Opposition Day.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Tomorrow the House will meet from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Following the daily routine and Question Period, we will be calling Resolution No. 2916 and Resolution No. 1243.

I move that this House do now adjourn, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

[Page 8452]

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

The motion is carried.

The House is adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 7:58 p.m.]

[Page 8453]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3154

By: Mr. David Hendsbee (Preston)

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

Whereas the 22nd Annual Women's Recognition Luncheon, honouring women who, through selflessness and determination, have touched the hearts of many, will be held on Thursday, April 18, 2002, at the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel; and

Whereas all proceeds from the luncheon go to support the YWCA family and child care programs, wellness centre and women's accommodations; and

Whereas Freda Williams will be one of approximately a dozen women who will be honoured at the luncheon for her volunteer work with a wide variety of community organizations, including her extensive heritage and cultural contributions to her community and her current and previous membership in over 18 community organizations;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Freda Williams on her recognition for her significant contributions.

RESOLUTION NO. 3155

By: Mr. David Hendsbee (Preston)

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

Whereas the 22nd Annual Women's Recognition Luncheon, honouring women who, through selflessness and determination, have touched the hearts of many, will be held on Thursday, April 18, 2002, at the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel; and

Whereas all proceeds from the luncheon go to support the YWCA family and child care programs, wellness centre and women's accommodations; and

Whereas Joyce Gough will be one of approximately a dozen women who will be honoured at the luncheon for her volunteer work with a wide variety of community organizations, including her 22 years of work with the Preston District Girl Guides as a mentor and as one of that organization's founders as well as her lifelong dedication to the education of community youth;

[Page 8454]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Joyce Gough on her recognition for her significant contributions.

RESOLUTION NO. 3156

By: Mr. David Hendsbee (Preston)

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

Whereas the 22nd Annual Women's Recognition Luncheon, honouring women who, through selflessness and determination, have touched the hearts of many, will be held on Thursday, April 18, 2002, at the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel; and

Whereas all proceeds from the luncheon go to support the YWCA family and child care programs, wellness centre and women's accommodations; and

Whereas Nola Thomas will be one of approximately a dozen women who will be honoured at the luncheon for her volunteer work with a wide variety of community organizations, including her commitment and volunteer work in her community promoting its culture, history and heritage as well as the education of its youth;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Nola Thomas on her recognition for her significant contributions.

RESOLUTION NO. 3157

By: Mr. David Hendsbee (Preston)

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

Whereas the 22nd Annual Women's Recognition Luncheon, honouring women who, through selflessness and determination, have touched the hearts of many, will be held on Thursday, April 18, 2002, at the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel; and

Whereas all proceeds from the luncheon go to support the YWCA family and child care programs, wellness centre and women's accommodations; and

Whereas Marian Colley will be one of approximately a dozen women who will be honoured at the luncheon for her volunteer work with a wide variety of community organizations, including her involvement with the Community Gospel Choir and the

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Hallelujah Praise Choir which received the prestigious 2002 East Coast Music Award for best gospel group;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Marian Colley on her recognition for her significant contributions.