Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Tue., June 2, 1998

First Session


Anl. Rept. of Department of Labour, 1996, Hon. R. MacKinnon 608
Anl. Rept. of Department of Labour, 1997, Hon. R. MacKinnon 608
No. 8, Provincial Finance Act, Dr. J. Hamm 608
Speaker's Ruling: Money Bill - Defined
Bill No. 8 - Not a Money Bill 609
No. 9, Auditor General Act, Dr. J. Hamm 609
No. 10, Queens Regional Municipality Act, Mr. J. Leefe 609
Res. 348, Health - Cobequid Multi-Service Centre: Crisis - Address,
Mr. J. Holm 609
Res. 349, Sports - World Marathon Canoe Championships
(Dartmouth 2000): Support - Express, Dr. J. Hamm 610
Vote - Affirmative 611
Res. 350, DFO - TAGS: Louisbourg Civil Unrest -
Encouragement Condemn, Hon. R. MacKinnon 611
Res. 351, Gov't. House Ldr. - Tricks New: Learn - Urge, Mr. F. Corbett 611
Res. 352, Health - Musquodoboit Valley Mem. Hosp.: Ambulance -
Authorize, Mr. B. Taylor 612
Res. 353, Culture - Sinclair Soc. (Guys.): Legend (Prince Henry Sinclair
[02/06/1398] - Authentication Quest Congrats., Mr. R. White 613
Vote - Affirmative 613
Res. 354, Fgn. Affs. & Internat. Trade (Can.) - POWs Buchenwald
Concentration Camp: Reparations - Seek, Mr. P. Delefes 613
Vote - Affirmative 614
Res. 355, Health - Breast Biopsy: Eventual Action -
Good News (Premier), Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 614
Res. 356, Educ. - Hammonds Plains Elem. School: Construction -
Action, Ms. R. Godin 615
Res. 357, Hfx. Chebucto MLA: Arithmetic Course - Enrol,
Mr. P. MacEwan 615
Res. 358, Justice - Crown Prosecutors: Walkout Seriousness - Realize,
Mr. M. Scott 616
Res. 359, Agric. - Saltsprings 4-H Club: Funding (Rural Beautification) -
Restore, Mr. C. Parker 617
Res. 360, Culture: Cajun Festival (Cheticamp 19/06/98-23/06/98) -
Congrats., Mr. Charles MacDonald 617
Vote - Affirmative 618
Res. 361, Educ. - Pictou Co.: Schools - Min. Requirements Recognize,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 618
Res. 362, Fish. (HoC) - Bill C-27: Overfishing (Internat. Waters Comm.) -
Prevention Amend, Mr. John Deveau 619
Res. 363, MPs (N.S. [11]02/06/97): Service - Congrats., Mr. R. Chisholm 619
Res. 364, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Hwy. No. 102 - Maintain, Mr. J. Muir 620
Res. 365, Women, Status of - Women's Centres: Adequate Support -
Provide, Ms. Y. Atwell 621
Res. 366, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Sable Island: Development -
Public Consultation Ensure, Mr. G. Balser 621
Res. 367, Justice - Crown Prosecutors: Replacement - Waste Condemn,
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 622
Res. 368, Sports - Skate Yarmouth: Ice Time Insufficient -
Funding Support, Mr. N. LeBlanc 622
Res. 369, Fish. - Lobster: Price Fair - Buyers Urge, Ms. Helen MacDonald 623
Res. 370, Educ. - P3: Meeting (02/06/98 [90 mins.]) - Promotional,
Ms. E. O'Connell 623
Res. 371, Culture - Sheena Masson (Hubbards): Paddle Lun.-Queens -
Book Congrats., Mr. J. Leefe 624
Vote - Affirmative 625
Res. 372, Aboriginal Affs. - Mi'kmaq Chiefs-Party Ldrs.: Meeting - Urge,
Mr. R. Chisholm 625
Res. 373, Educ.: Bible Hill Preschool Soc. (Anniv. 25th) - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Muir 625
Vote - Affirmative 626
Res. 374, MPs (C.B.) - Policies (Gov't. [Can.]) Harsh: Answer - Forced,
Mr. F. Corbett 626
Res. 375, Millennium Initiative (Can.) - Project Funding (Gov't. [N.S.]):
Sources - Find, Mr. E. Fage 627
Vote - Affirmative 627
Res. 376, Educ.: COGS (Lawrencetown) - Support, Mr. John Deveau 627
Res. 377, Sheldon Kennedy (Former NHL Player) - Skate (Cross Canada)-
Child Abuse Dangers: Welcome - Extend, Mr. B. Taylor 628
Vote - Affirmative 629
Res. 378, Justice - Crown Prosecutors: Collective Bargaining -
Recognize, Mr. Kevin Deveaux 629
Res. 379, Sydney Environ. Res. Ltd.: JAG Recommendations - Respect,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 629
No. 42, Justice: Crown Prosecutors - Walkout, Mr. R. Chisholm 630
No. 43, Justice - Crown Prosecutors: Walkout - Case Responsibility,
Dr. J. Hamm 632
No. 44, Justice - Crown Prosecutors: Walkout - Replacement Tenders,
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 634
No. 45, Justice - Crown Prosecutors: Walkout - Cases Continuance,
`^^Mr. M. Scott 635
No. 46, Educ. - P3: Cost-Benefit Analysis (Aud. Gen.) - Ignored,
Ms. E. O'Connell 636
No. 47, Justice: Crown Attorneys - Per Diem Prog., Mr. M. Baker 638
No. 48, Health - Physicians: Under-Serviced Areas - Definition,
Mr. John Deveau 639
No. 49, Health - Physicians: Fully Registered - Increase, Dr. J. Hamm 640
No. 50, Gaming Control Comm'n. - VLTs: Plebiscite - Position (Premier),
Ms. Helen MacDonald 642
No. 51, Educ. - O'Connell Dr. School (Porters Lake): Lease -
Aud. Gen. Examine, Mr. E. Fage 642
No. 52, Women, Status of: Women's Centres - Funding, Ms. Y. Atwell 644
No. 53, Justice - Crown Prosecutors: Arbitration - Appropriate,
Mr. R. Chisholm 645
No. 54, Nat. Res. - Ethane Extraction: Petrochemical Ind. - Study,
Mr. G. Archibald 647
No. 55, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Ports: Post-Panamax - Bids,
Mr. D. Dexter 648
No. 56, Justice - Crown Attorneys: Per Diem Prog. - Cost,
Mr. B. Taylor 649
Mr. F. Corbett 651
Mr. John Deveau 658
Mr. P. MacEwan 660
Mr. B. Taylor 674
Adjourned debate 687
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Hwy. No. 101 (Digby-Weymouth) -
Priority Advise:
Mr. G. Balser 688
Hon. C. Huskilson 690
Mr. W. Estabrooks 692
Mr. John Deveau 693
Mr. B. Taylor 694
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., June 3rd at 2:00 p.m. 695

[Page 607]


Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.


Hon. Ronald Russell


Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wish to advise the members that the winner of the Adjournment debate is the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. The resolution is as follows:

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works immediately advise this Legislature as to the priority the section of highway between Digby and Weymouth has in becoming connected to Nova Scotia's 100-Series Highway system.

That resolution will be debated at 6:00 o'clock.




MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.


[Page 608]

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Reports for the Department of Labour for the respective fiscal years ended March 31, 1996, and March 31, 1997.

MR. SPEAKER: The annual reports are tabled.




Bill No. 8 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 28 of the Revised Statutes, 1989. The Auditor General Act, and an Act to Amend Chapter 365 of the Revised Statutes, 1989. The Provincial Finance Act. (Dr. John Hamm)

MR. SPEAKER: Before proceeding any further with that bill, I wish to advise the House that I have had the opportunity to examine this bill prior to today, as the Legislative Counsel is required to provide the Speaker with a copy of any Private Member's Bill that in his opinion appears to be a money bill.

This bill is a Private Member's Public Bill and as such should not be permitted to be proposed if it is a money bill. The difficulty in this Legislature is that we have had two rulings by two different Speakers, defining what is a money bill, and unfortunately they do not entirely agree.

On May 22, 1980, as Speaker, I ruled that a bill, namely Bill No. 100, The Venture Corporations Act, introduced by a member not of the Executive Council, not be proposed for first reading.

The basis for that ruling was that Bill No. 100 entailed the expenditures of monies from the consolidated fund of this province. All authorities agree that such bills may only be introduced by a member of the Executive Council, in that the provisions of the bill infringe upon the financial initiative of the Crown. Beauchesne, 6th Edition, Page 221, refers.

On March 13, 1981 - and this is the most recent ruling - Speaker Arthur Donahoe ruled that a bill was a money bill as defined by a Statute of the Parliament of Westminster, the British House of Commons. This definition casts a much wider net than that of my ruling of 1980, and the definition is as follows:

"A 'money bill' means a public bill which in the opinion of the Speaker of the House of Commons contains only provisions dealing with all or any of the following subjects, namely, the imposition, repeal,

[Page 609]

remission, alteration, or regulation of taxation; the imposition for the payment of debt or other financial purposes of charges on the Consolidated Fund . . . or on money provided by Parliament or the variation or repeal of any such charges; Supply; the appropriation, receipt, custody, issue or audit of accounts of public money; the raising or guarantee of any loan or the repayment thereof; or subordinate matters incidental to those subjects or any of them.". In this subsection, ". . . the expressions 'taxation,' 'public money,' and 'loan' respectively do not include any taxation, money, or loan raised by local authorities or bodies for local purposes . . .".

That is the definition according to the British House of Commons. That definition would clearly include within its scope the bill that the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party is proposing today.

I do not agree that the definition of a money bill as established by the British House of Commons should apply to bills introduced in this House. Sections 54 and 90 of the Constitution Act of 1867 very clearly define a money bill. My ruling is:

"A money bill is a bill that appropriates part of the public revenue and thus infringes upon the financial initiative of the Crown.".

The bill proposed by the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party does not, and therefore is not a money bill. Any person who wishes to may have a copy of that ruling.

Bill No. 9 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 28 of the Revised Statutes, 1989. The Auditor General Act. (Dr. John Hamm)

Bill No. 10 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 9 of the Acts of 1995. The Queens Regional Municipality Act. (Mr. John Leefe)

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


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


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

[Page 610]

Whereas the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre has experienced a 10 per cent increase in the number of emergency cases it deals with since 1996; and

Whereas there has been a 22 per cent increase in lab work at this facility in the last year alone with similar increased demands for x-rays, physiotherapy, ultrasound and electrocardiograms, thereby creating tremendous new strains on a system already working on the edge; and

Whereas these increases are caused, in large part, because of cutbacks in services at other medical facilities that are resulting in doctors referring their patients to the walk-in Cobequid Clinic to avoid them having to wait for weeks, even months, at other health centres;

Therefore be it resolved that the House demand that the Minister of Health and his Central Regional Health Board immediately announce not only their good intentions but detailed plans to address the crisis in health care at the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre of this government's making.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.


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

Whereas two world canoe championships have been held here in Nova Scotia and each was an overwhelming success, most recently the Canoe '97 event on Lake Banook; and

Whereas each brought an economic boost to the province, as well as first-class exposure on the world scene; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Marathon Canoe Racing Association has been successful in its bid to host the World Marathon Canoe Championships here in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, in September 2000, these championships will again focus the attention of the world upon our outstanding recreational and sporting potential;

Therefore be it resolved that the Legislature and the Government of Nova Scotia express the most solid of support for this coming championship, its organizing committee and the Nova Scotia athletes fortunate enough to participate in yet another world championship canoeing event here in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 611]

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

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 Labour.


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

Whereas residents of Louisbourg are awaiting the federal minister's announcement for the 1998 TAGS program; and

Whereas recently the federal socialist MP Michelle Dockrill convened a community meeting to discuss the TAGS program and related matters; and

Whereas this federal socialist MP preferred to encourage residents to "protest in front of the merchants' stores in Louisbourg and then go and protest in front of Russell MacLellan's office" rather than offer to contribute solutions to a serious situation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn any such action which encourages civil unrest.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.


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

Whereas Nova Scotia voters are seeing for themselves whether the March 24th election results were enough to cure Liberal arrogance, Liberal broken promises and Liberal incompetence; and

[Page 612]

Whereas only the governing Party has authority in this House to call a Private Member's Bill for debate and a vote on second reading; and

Whereas the Government House Leader told reporters yesterday that Private Members' Bills mean very little because, in his experience, Private Members' Bills are never called.

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Government House Leader to learn some new tricks, rather than relying on the experience he gained as the Liberals built the record that led them to the loss of most of their seats.

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.


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

Whereas health facilities and community-based services are required to meet the emergency health needs of the community; and

Whereas over 600 people participated in consultations, sharing their feelings and beliefs regarding health issues, needs and possible solutions for the Eastern Shore-Musquodoboit Valley's comprehensive health plan; and

Whereas the fundamental challenge for the community and the community health board during the health plan process was to ensure equity so that rural residents in the Eastern Shore-Musquodoboit Valley area can have the same opportunity to access services as their urban neighbours;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health, who has general supervision and management of the Health Act, immediately authorize the placement of an ambulance at the Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital as recommended in the plan over one year ago.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

[Page 613]


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

Whereas, according to legend, Prince Henry Sinclair, in 1398, set sail from the Orkney Islands with 12 ships and 300 crew; and

Whereas on June 2, 1398, Prince Henry Sinclair and crew landed in Guysborough; and

Whereas this week, Sinclair Societies and Scottish clans are celebrating the arrival of Prince Henry in the New World;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations to the Sinclair Society and wish them every success in their quest to authenticate the arrival of Prince Henry in North America.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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 Citadel.


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

Whereas William Gibson of Halifax is one of the Canadian prisoners of war who was imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp, contrary to the Geneva Convention; and

Whereas the federal government has known for decades that Canadian prisoners of war were imprisoned in Buchenwald, and that Germany pays reparations for these breaches of the Geneva Convention; and

[Page 614]

Whereas now that Mr. Gibson has helped bring the government's lack of action on this issue to public attention, a federal minister has agreed to keep reviewing the file;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the federal government to immediately seek reparations for the Canadian prisoners of war imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp, and to provide additional support for the surviving family members and surviving prisoners of war who were forced to endure this horrifying experience.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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 Chester-St. Margaret's.


DR. HINRICH BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, my previous attempt at this resolution was deemed to be too long by you; this is my second attempt.

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

Whereas fox furs are bartered for doctors appointments in post-Communist Russia; and

Whereas this practice would wipe out Nova Scotia's fox population, if adopted; and

Whereas the Premier wants me to focus on good health care news from the backwoods of rural Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the woman who waited for eight weeks after 19 unsuccessfully long-distance phone calls by her GP got a date for a breast biopsy after only one phone call by me, which should please the Premier no end.

[Page 615]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.


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

Whereas the need for a new school to alleviate overcrowding conditions at Hammonds Plains Elementary is acknowledged by government and Opposition Parties alike; and

Whereas students as young as six years old are suffering through temperatures in portables which could, and may already, have exceeded 30 degrees Celsius; and

Whereas parents are sending their children off to school under conditions that they claim are heartbreaking;

Therefore be it resolved that the government overcome the delays caused by its P3 process and move immediately to save those children from the unbearable and detrimental conditions under which they are expected to learn each and every day.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.


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 honourable member for Halifax Chebucto has stated that his Party, the socialist NDP Party, will not support the budget that is to be tabled by the Minister of Finance in this Chamber on Thursday; and

Whereas in stating that the socialist NDP Party will not support the budget, the honourable member alleges that the Liberal Government lost the provincial election on March 24th; and

Whereas the total number of votes cast for each political Party as provided by the Chief Electoral Officer in the election were as follows: Liberal, 158,819; NDP, 155,680; and Progressive Conservative, 133,903;

[Page 616]

Therefore be it resolved that this House recommends that the would-be Minister of Finance, the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto, enrol in a course in basic arithmetic and learn about numbers, so that he can recognize that 158,000 is greater than 155,000.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South. (Interruption) Order, please.


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

Whereas ineptitude would be but one description in the Justice Minister's handling of the two-day walkout by Crown Prosecutors across the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Liberals had the gall, last week, to say they had made adequate arrangements to look after the administration of justice if job action was taken; and

Whereas because of the lack of planning, there was dismissal by Provincial Court judges of 11 criminal cases, including one against an individual charged with uttering death threats against a former wife and a Family Court judge, while another case of sexual assault was dismissed;

Therefore be it resolved that this part-time minister realize the seriousness of the strike action of public prosecutors and avoid possible continual strike action by negotiating with members of this vital service to ensure their needs are addressed.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

[Page 617]


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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Rural Beautification Program contributes directly to community pride, quality of life, and tourism; and

Whereas Rural Beatification has been a financial boon to greenhouse growers, seed vendors, and has instilled pride in 4-H groups, Women's Institute groups, cemetery maintenance and more; and

Whereas the Salt Springs 4-H Club of Pictou County is encouraging the Department of Agriculture and Marketing to consider a substantial increase in funds for this program to $20,000;

Therefore be it resolved that this House fully supports the Salt Springs 4-H Club in their quest to restore additional funding for Rural Beautification in Nova Scotia.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.


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

Whereas Cheticamp will host, from June 19th to June 23rd, the 1st Annual Cajun Festival; and

Whereas this festival will bring together the best in Acadian and Cajun artists; and

[Page 618]

Whereas during the festival, Cheticamp's Acadian French will mingle with their Southern Louisiana Cajun cousins, featuring performing arts, cooking and craft work from both cultures;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations to the organizers of the festival and wish all participants an enjoyable and rewarding get-together.

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

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

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.


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

Whereas a report by local educators, parents and students for the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board says Pictou County high schools are barely able to meet minimum educational standards because they are not getting enough money to meet either programs or operational requirements; and

Whereas the problem is expected to get worse with a projected drop in enrolment of 25 per cent by the year 2007; and

Whereas teachers are being spread very thinly to try to implement programs with a broader scope making it even harder to meet minimum standards;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education immediately recognize the serious concerns of the Pictou County parents, students and educators, that the minimum educational requirements from textbooks to maintenance be provided by the province and that he work with the board and its constituents in facing such a serious dilemma.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 619]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.


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

Whereas Premier Tobin of Newfoundland has written Members of Parliament to express his concern that Bill C-27 could limit Canada's powers under existing legislation to take unilateral action against a vessel engaged in overfishing in international waters; and

Whereas the House of Commons Fisheries Committee will this week consider whether Bill C-27 should be amended, including amendments necessary to keep strong Canadian legislation unless or until the United Nations agreement on overfishing takes effect and is enforced;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the House of Commons, and in particular the Standing Committee on Fisheries, to adopt all amendments necessary to maintain and improve Canada's laws against overfishing in international waters.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


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

Whereas one year ago today Nova Scotians used their democratic right to vote to ensure that their concerns, hopes and interests would be forcefully and effectively represented in the House of Commons; and

[Page 620]

Whereas all 11 Nova Scotian Members of Parliament have done their part to bring Nova Scotians' issues onto the floor of the House of Commons, to ensure accountability and responsibility from the federal government; and

Whereas Nova Scotians take particular pride in the fact that a fellow citizen and MP from our province, sits in the House of Commons as a Party Leader for the first time in more than 20 years;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the 11 Nova Scotian MPs for their hard work and service on behalf of this province that they have demonstrated in the year since the historic federal election of June 2, 1997.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a multitude of Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.


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

Whereas Highway No. 102 is the most heavily-travelled highway in the province; and

Whereas the highway and exits seem to be in a consistent state of disrepair; and

Whereas the condition of the road, bridge surface and shoulders is often such that damage is caused to vehicles and trying to avoid hazards is an impediment to highway safety;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works instruct his department to ensure that every effort is made to keep the road, bridges and shoulders free from potholes, cracks and bumps.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 621]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.


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

Whereas the Speech from the Throne promised that this government will increase funding and harmonize financing for the province's women's centres; and

Whereas women's centres have now been informed that this means three centres will receive no additional support, despite the Premier's assurance of increased support; and

Whereas $68,700 will be divided among the three smaller centres so they receive the same budget as others, a budget that is still lower than the original provincial funding for women's centres;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to fulfil its Speech from the Throne promise of a place for everyone in Nova Scotia by providing adequate support for women's centres and the services they provide, instead of breaking that promise with another budget freeze for most centres.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.


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

Whereas allowing limited tourism on Sable Island can make money which could be used to protect this island; and

[Page 622]

Whereas members of the World Wildlife Fund have expressed worry over embracing ecotourism to the point of harming the island's sensitive ecology and wildlife; and

Whereas tourism development on Sable Island should proceed at a slow and careful pace;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism carry out public consultation to ensure that tourism development on Sable Island will not occur at the expense of the island's unique and fragile ecosystem.

[2:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.


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

Whereas the Liberal Government's refusal to provide decent wages or working conditions for its Crown Prosecutors has forced the Crowns to take job action; and

Whereas the failure of the Liberal Government to provide its prosecutors with the means to do their jobs has compromised the administration of justice in this province; and

Whereas the Liberal Government, which is tight-fisted in dealing with its own employees, had no hesitation in paying up to $200 an hour so that lawyers working for private firms with Liberal connections could show up in court to seek adjournment of cases;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemns the Liberal Government for wasting resources on its political cronies and rent-a-Crowns that should have been used to improve the ability of Crowns to do their job.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.


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

[Page 623]

Whereas there have been attempts over the past 20 to 25 years to help remedy the severe problem of insufficient ice time available to the residents of Yarmouth County; and

Whereas competitive forces have prevented the area from working together until the efforts of Skate Yarmouth succeeded in breaking down the barriers that had held back a concerted effort; and

Whereas they were assured by the Premier prior to the election that an answer would be coming shortly;

Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government supports the efforts of the community by approving Skate Yarmouth's application for funding.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.


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

Whereas some 300 lobster fishers on the eastern side of Cape Breton tied up their boats to protest unfair prices; and

Whereas prices are 40 cents a pound less for canners and $1.00 a pound less for market lobsters than they were last year; and

Whereas lobster fishers continue to have increased costs and do not have a mechanism to negotiate prices since boycotts cost them money;

Therefore be it resolved that this government act on behalf of lobster fishers by urging buyers to pay a fair price for lobsters.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


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

[Page 624]

Whereas senior officials from Education, Finance, Transportation and Public Works, the Auditor General's office and Justice met for one and one-half hours today with members of the Official Opposition and the Progressive Conservative caucus; and

Whereas a slide presentation took up the bulk of that time, leaving inadequate time for discussion and questions; and

Whereas most senior officials present uttered not a word;

Therefore be it resolved this House declares today's meeting to be not a consultation but a promotional session for P3 schools.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.


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

Whereas ecotourism writer Sheena Masson of Hubbards has gained a well-deserved reputation for expertise in ocean and inland waters kayaking; and

Whereas Miss Masson promotes kayaking as a spring through autumn sport which can be enjoyed by people of all ages; and

Whereas Miss Masson has made a particular study of kayaking opportunities in Queens and Lunenburg Counties;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulates Sheena Masson on the publication of her book Paddle Lunenburg-Queens and commends her for promoting the ecotourism resources of Nova Scotia's waterways, both salt and fresh.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 625]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


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 Premier has told one and all that he is a most cooperative individual who will stop at nothing to demonstrate his openness and consultative approach to the voters' mandate; and

Whereas on April 29th, the Union of Nova Scotia Indians proposed that the 13 Mi'kmaq Chiefs meet the three political Party Leaders; and

Whereas although a meeting with the three Party Leaders took place during the Cameron and Savage Administrations, this precarious government has declined that request in the Premier's May 29th letter;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Premier to recognize that he will not loosen his white-knuckled grip on power by agreeing to the request that all three Party Leaders meet the Mi'kmaq chiefs.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.


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

Whereas the Bible Hill Preschool Society celebrated its 25th Anniversary on May 29, 1998; and

Whereas the preschool operated by the society provides exemplary programming to more than 60 children each week; and

Whereas many of the preschool openings are booked until the year 2001;

[Page 626]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Bible Hill Preschool Society, the pre-school director, Niki Hoyle, and the parent volunteers for providing outstanding education experiences to young children in the Bible Hill area.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

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.


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

Whereas one year ago today, Cape Bretoners elected Peter Mancini and Michelle Dockrill to represent them in the House of Commons; and

Whereas these MPs have brought forward key issues, including the massive cuts to health care and education, the future of Devco, the need for sustainable economic development in Cape Breton, securing Marine Atlantic jobs in North Sydney and the loss of federal services like air navigation; and

Whereas this is a welcome change from the silence and inactivity of the previous MPs whose record was condemned by Cape Breton voters;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Members of Parliament, Peter Mancini and Michelle Dockrill, for finally forcing the federal government to answer for the many harsh policies it has imposed on Cape Bretoners.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

[Page 627]


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

Whereas we are now only 577 days away from the beginning of a new millennium; and

Whereas the country's Deputy Prime Minister, who is chairing Canada's millennium initiative, has already extended an invitation to Canadians in every community across this country to find ways to participate in celebrating the beginning of the year 2000 by taking stock of our past and looking ahead to our future; and

Whereas communities such as the Town of Amherst have an active millennium project underway and are seeking ideas from individuals that will ensure the history of Amherst is enshrined in this province's history;

Therefore be it resolved that this present Liberal Government immediately begin looking at potential sources of funding that will enable Nova Scotia to actively participate in celebrating the commencement of the year 2000 and, in turn, assist communities with the start-up of various millennium projects.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

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 Yarmouth.


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

Whereas the survey school in Lawrencetown, now known as the College of Geographic Sciences, demonstrates the high quality training that can be provided through regional cooperation; and

[Page 628]

Whereas the college's rural location provides significant local jobs and demonstrates that top quality public education need not be headquartered in urban areas; and

Whereas the Association of Nova Scotia Land Surveyors has expressed serious concern that the college's separate identity and world-wide renown are threatened by absorption into the community college system;

Therefore be it resolved that this House affirms its support for the continued separate identity of the College of Geographic Sciences in Lawrencetown, which has won great respect from Nova Scotia and strong professional support.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.


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

Whereas former Calgary Flames and Boston Bruin NHL player, Sheldon Kennedy, began his in-line skating trip across Canada last week in St. John's, Newfoundland; and

Whereas Mr. Kennedy arrived in Sydney on Sunday and is en route to Halifax with an expected arrival in Vancouver, British Columbia, on October 12th; and

Whereas the cross-Canada skate is designed to help young people understand child abuse while raising funds to help build a retreat in British Columbia for children and their families to deal with the first steps of recovery from child abuse;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature extend a warm welcome to Sheldon Kennedy in his cross-Canada skate to assist and educate more young people on the dangers of child abuse.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 629]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens for an introduction.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure this afternoon to introduce to you and to my colleagues in the House, 28 Grade 9 students from North Queens Rural High School who are seated in the east gallery, and I would ask them to stand. They are here with their teacher, Marie MacLeod, and with chaperones Marsha Lutz, Wendy Hawkes, and Elizabeth Wambolt. They live in an area which is well-known to my colleague, the Minister of Natural Resources, who has been very involved in having the Shubenacadie River made a heritage river in Nova Scotia, and also with the Tobeatic Wilderness and of course, Kejimkujik National Park falls on their doorstep as well. I would ask all members of the House to welcome them to the Legislature this afternoon. (Applause)

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


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

Whereas the Minister of Justice's claim that no disruption in the justice system would result from the two-day walkout by Crown Prosecutors has proven to be false; and

Whereas the minister paid rent-a-Crowns up to $200 an hour to bring the wheels of justice to a halt with instructions to seek adjournments of cases; and

Whereas these adjournments wasted the time of the courts, inconvenienced witnesses, and led to the dismissal of serious charges;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Minister of Justice and the Liberal Government for its stubborn refusal to do the right thing and recognize the right of Crown Prosecutors to bargain collectively.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.


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

[Page 630]

Whereas the mission of Sydney Tar Ponds Clean-Up Inc. is to complete the clean-up of the tar ponds site in an environmentally safe and cost-efficient manner, while giving the highest priority to the health and safety of employees and community residents; and

Whereas after the expenditure of $53 million and 10 years on a clean-up that wasn't, a study has recommended the tar ponds incinerators be re-activated to treat hazardous waste from local contaminated sites; and

Whereas the Joint Action Group on Environmental Clean-Up (JAG) was established to initiate and carry out an open, transparent and inclusive process for community participation in the search for safe, practical solutions to health and environmental challenges;

Therefore be it resolved that this government direct that Sydney Environmental Resources Ltd., formerly Sydney Tar Ponds Inc., respect the collective decision-making power of JAG in relationship to their recommendations for the Sydney Tar Ponds.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer my question, through you, to the Minister of Justice. I believe, about four years now, there was a review conducted established, known as the Ghiz-Archibald review of the problems in the prosecution services, primarily problems related to morale and resources. A problems that has been in evidence for many years and successive governments have failed to deal with the problem. The Ghiz report recommended four different types of mechanisms, structures to deal with the grievances, including wages. Four years has past, the government has decided, in its wisdom, to do nothing. We are now on day two of the two-day walk-out by Crown Prosecutors.

I want to ask the minister, if he would explain why it is that his government has put even one case, but certainly more than one case, at risk as a result of this walkout simply because they have failed to recognize the serious problems articulated by the Ghiz-Archibald report? They have failed to move and take action on those recommendations.

[Page 631]

[2:45 p.m.]

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the cases at risk that the honourable member mentions are placed at risk by virtue of a strike being called by the Crown Attorneys. This government came forward with a financial package that was fair and just, and the door was not closed to the process of collective bargaining. The Ghiz-Archibald report that the honourable member quotes brought forward four possibilities, one of which was collective bargaining; that is still open and the Crown Attorneys of this province have been informed of that. That is the position of the government as we speak.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, this is the kind of action, the kind of indecision, the kind of irresponsible activity that we have seen on behalf of this government in the past five years. They have pushed this situation to the point where the Crown Prosecutors have withdrawn their services in order to get the attention of this government, because they recognize their duty and responsibility to the people of Nova Scotia.

I will ask the minister in my first supplementary - one judge has noted that the government had at least four weeks to prepare, but clearly that did not happen, they did not get ready and at least in one case a person charged with a very serious crime has been released - I want to ask the minister if he would explain, why is it that his department did not prepare for an incident that they themselves precipitated?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, months have been used to prepare for this eventuality and, in fact, there were some plans by the previous Director of Public Prosecutions, whose responsibility it is to put this program in place. I am not aware of the honourable judge's comments relative to four weeks. When the strike is called, there is a limited time that the prosecutors could become aware of any cases; there is a transition period. There is bound to be some disruptions and lack of continuity; I think that is particularly normal. As far as the release of any serious matters, they are often in the early stages, as we all know, and certainly will be revisited to see if those can be appealed or brought forward on another day. That is the commitment and that will be the responsibility of the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I think, if I may, in my final supplementary - Nova Scotians would agree that this minister and his government, their approach to this matter has not worked, they have pushed the Crown to the point where it felt that it had no other choice, they clearly decided to play brinkmanship here and they are costing many Nova Scotians some significant discomfort and they are further threatening the stability of the prosecution services in this province - I want to ask the minister, given the fact that his approach and his government's approach to dealing with this issue has been an obvious failure, will he agree, today, to go back to Cabinet and get their agreement that they will permit voluntary recognition and the establishment of collective bargaining for Crown Prosecutors in the Province of Nova Scotia?

[Page 632]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, this is a very serious matter. We are talking about the administration of justice. If that honourable member decides to play politics with it, that is fine, and that is up to him, but I am telling you what we brought forward. We brought forward a very fair and just financial package that will put the Crown Attorneys of this province squarely in the average across this country. We have not closed the door on collective bargaining. We want to look at the options. We have to consult with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union and other persons, and other groups that may well be impacted by any decision, not by bringing in a bill that is irresponsible and leaves the door wide open.

The Ghiz report did point out, Mr. Speaker, not everyone was happy with that approach, the Crown Attorneys, and I can refer you to the page and number that you can look at that report. So if you are going to quote reports, let us be comprehensive. We have made an offer and it is there and it stands today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Justice. The Minister of Justice did admit to knowledge of the Ghiz-Archibald report, which was tabled on August 31, 1994. In that report, which cost the taxpayers of this province $90,000, were resolutions to the situation that has resulted in the Crown being inappropriately represented in the courts of Nova Scotia yesterday and resulted in criminal cases being dropped simply because this minister and this government failed in its responsibility to adequately provide a justice system in this province that protects the people of this province.

Is the minister prepared to accept responsibility for what happened yesterday in the courts of this province because he and his government, for four years, have failed to respond to the Ghiz-Archibald report?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, by their own words, the Crown Attorneys have cited problems of major issues going back nine and one-half or 10 years. I think that honourable member knows which government was in power during that time.

We have come forward. The Ghiz report is comprehensive. It wasn't a waste of money. Much has been accomplished and more has been accomplished in the last few weeks. The computer system is coming on and is making great strides. I must say on the issue of computers and all the other talk, if you want to go up to the Maritime Centre, we will arrange a tour there for you, Mr. Speaker, or anybody else . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The minister is wandering from the reply.

[Page 633]

DR. SMITH: . . . in the House who wants to see some of the progress that is taking place on this.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I will continue with the Minister of Justice. The Minister of Justice has known for some weeks that the courts of this province on June 1st and June 2nd would not have regular Crown Prosecutors in place. I would ask this minister, in the carrying out of his duties as protector of the justice system in this province, what actions had he taken over the last four weeks to ensure that the Crown was adequately represented in the courts of Nova Scotia yesterday and what steps has he taken now that he realizes that what he provided yesterday was inappropriate and didn't work, what steps has he taken that will result in the Crown being represented today in the courts of Nova Scotia?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the responsibility of the program in place, which was done very effectively, is that of the Acting Director of Public Prosecution Services. I have had communications with the director and I am satisfied that everything has been done to put in place proper prosecution services.

Mr. Speaker, the transition period, those prosecuting lawyers would not have access to information of cases prior to a particular set period of time. They would not have weeks and days even to prepare. So any transition period is difficult. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: The honourable member asked me, Mr. Speaker, do I accept responsibility? Yes, we all accept responsibility, that's why we are here, we are accountable. But I will tell you the responsibility of this strike rests on the head of the Crown Attorneys of this province, not the Government of Nova Scotia. (Interruptions) And we have made more headway in the last short while than over the last several years and that is a fact.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the minister in his reply to me said that he was satisfied with the arrangements that are made. The minister said that he is satisfied that someone charged with sexual abuse, the case has been discharged; that someone who was charged with uttering death threats, the case has been discharged; and he is satisfied that a case that resulted in a failed plea for restitution has gone by the board and the taxpayers will pay for that; and this minister says he is satisfied. The minister should not be satisfied.

My final question to the minister is, will he commit, and commit here today, that he will start implementing the recommendations of the Ghiz-Archibald report that have resulted in the debacle that we have seen in the courts of this province yesterday and today and that he will accept his responsibility of Minister of Justice as being the one responsible for what is happening here in Nova Scotia in our court system today?

[Page 634]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, one cannot be satisfied with a strike. A strike by definition is disruption of a system. We have a good system of justice in Nova Scotia that works. This government has already implemented many of the recommendations of the Ghiz-Archibald report and the four we are talking about are open. We have not closed the door to collective bargaining.

The four options in the Ghiz-Archibald report are there and we are prepared to discuss them. That is a commitment and that is well known.

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



MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Justice as well. The minister has had knowledge of the potential Crown strike for over one month and the government decided to hire private lawyers at $200 per hour to seek adjournments yesterday and presumably, today as well. As we all know, these law firms all have fine Liberal pedigrees, Boyne Clarke, Sampson McDougall, Cox Downie, and Daley, Black and Moreria. My question to the Minister of Justice is quite simple, how were these firms selected to do the replacement Crown work?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I hesitate to answer a question such as that. The innuendo to me and I don't know your ruling, Mr. Speaker, but it is just my experience that the law profession has been very adept at balancing political persuasions, maybe not so strong on the New Democratic Party some days and maybe that is what has his nose out of joint a little bit.

The Acting Director of Public Prosecution Service, whose responsibility it was to put a program of replacement in place, carried out his duties. There were proposals received, there were selections made and there were meetings with ongoing liaison with those particular companies. I feel very strongly that a lawyer, while he may not be specialized, has a high degree of professionalism and I think that is what we are seeing happening today.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, again my question is for the Minister of Justice. I want to start by tendering a document which our office received from the Public Tenders Office, basically identifying and I know the Minister of Justice spoke of a proposal that was sent out, so I wanted to tender a document identifying the firms that did actually put forward the tender. Just for the record then, those are Patterson Palmer Hunt and Murphy, Cox Downie, Daley Black and Moreira and Boyne Clarke were the four firms that submitted proposals for the actual job of the Crown replacements.

[Page 635]

My question to the minister is quite simple, that Sampson McDougall did not actually provide a proposal to the government to provide the replacement Crown work, so the question is, why did a firm from Sydney that has an exceptional Liberal pedigree get the work to do the Crown replacement without ever having to put in a tendered proposal?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Acting Director, Martin Herschorn, who I have every confidence in, who has been devoting every hour of his waking day to this initiative, I have utmost faith in. If the member has some problems with that particular issue, I suggest that he contact the Acting Director of the service. In the event that he doesn't choose to do that I could get a reply. There is no question that this was an open process. To imply that one firm is over another, the ones that you mentioned on the eastern side of the harbour here, it is an issue that I am not prepared really to address, I think it is so transparent, it has been a transparent system. I have every confidence in the Acting Director of the Public Prosecution Service.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question again is to the Minister of Justice. My concern with this is twofold. First of all, I think we can duly note that the Minister of Justice did not answer my question as to why a firm that didn't actually put in a proposal was actually selected. The second issue with regard to this is the fact that the Public Prosecution Service was originally created to be independent, that was its purpose. My question to the Minister of Justice is this, why is he breaching the independence by directing the Director of Public Prosecution to hire specific firms with Liberal connections that did not put in proposals for tender?

[3:00 p.m.]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, if that honourable member has some evidence he is a lawyer, he should understand that a directive has to be publicized and it has to be public in the Royal Gazette. I have in no way directed the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions to do anything of the nature and I really resent that comment. (Interruptions) That is gutter politics and that is stooping pretty low with the criticism of that person who is responsible for that program.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.



MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is also to the Minister of Justice. The Minister of Justice has indicated here today that cases, because of a transitional period, were dismissed. Is the Minister of Justice suggesting to us today that someone charged in a

[Page 636]

separate hearing, once the strike date was known, the cases were still allowed to go ahead? If they were, why did that happen? Why were those cases allowed to proceed today if he knew the strike was going to happen?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I heard a couple of questions there. I am not too sure, but the first part was something about the transition period, why something would be allowed to go ahead. I learned that there were some changes made in the caseloads and how they were delegated, but I am in no position to comment or interfere in any way. It has already been mentioned that this is arm's length, the Public Prosecution Service in this province, and they would have done what they would have seen best. Why a judge would have made a decision to dismiss, that of course is the judgment of the particular honourable judge, of which I will not question.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, the proof is on the streets of Halifax: highly trained Crown Attorneys forced to picket to bring to the attention of Nova Scotians the failure of this government to support them in their quest to bring criminals to justice. Will the minister commit, here today, that no cases in the criminal court system in Nova Scotia will be dismissed because of his inaction?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, not being a lawyer, I probably will never become a judge, so I will never be able to guarantee that they will not be dismissed. I want to be fair with the honourable member, as I think he was sincere in the question, but the decision of dismissal or not will be that of a judge, which I have no right at all to interfere with and neither does anyone else here.

MR. SCOTT: My third question is to the Premier. Mr. Premier, your part-time Justice Minister is too busy to deal with the justice system in this province. Will you reassign the Justice portfolio to someone who has the time to deal with it? (Applause)

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I think the justice of this province is in very good hands. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. As the House knows, we had a session this morning with senior officials to discuss the P3 process in schools and, as the House also knows, it was not what we had hoped it would be because there was a great deal of presenting and not an awful lot of discussion. One thing, however, was confirmed and this is what I want to ask the minister about.

[Page 637]

One thing that was absolutely and finally confirmed for us was that the government did ignore the Auditor General's recommendation for a comprehensive and objective cost-benefit analysis before and during the P3 process. So I want to ask the Minister of Education, why did the government choose to ignore the Auditor General's explicit recommendation?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we have dealt with this question often and we are committed on this side of the House to high-quality schools for children. Before each and every lease is signed, a cost-benefit analysis is done to ensure that the taxpayers get full value for the dollars spent and the children get the finest schools in Canada.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, we have heard the answer before as well. It seems that the Auditor General, like our Party, does not find that a satisfactory answer, so I am going to ask the Minister of Education, will the government do now what it should have done before and subject this process to a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis for the benefit of the taxpayers and children of Nova Scotia?

MR. HARRISON: We are well aware and familiar with the recommendations the Auditor General made in his last report concerning the process. We have taken steps to implement every single one of those recommendations, including rigorous cost-benefit analysis before every lease is signed.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my second supplementary is again to the Minister of Education. After all these months of going around and around with it, there is only one conclusion left that people can come to. I want to ask the Minister of Education why the government is more interested in getting good deals for their friends than in the responsible financing of schools?

MR. HARRISON: It is an interesting projection on a government that is committed to young people.

The honourable member will know, the Education Critic will know, that the members of the selection committee who decide on the successful consortia for this province are members of the very communities in which those schools are to be built. They are members of school boards. They are various staff and department officials and they are the ones who recommend the successful proponents for these schools in Nova Scotia. I trust the member opposite is not maligning all of those school board members, all of those community members and all of those people who make those decisions on those companies that earned the right to build the finest schools in Canada for our children.

[Page 638]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.


MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Justice. We have a system in this province of per diem Crown Attorneys. Those are Crown Attorneys who are in private practice in this province who are prepared to volunteer their time at very little pay to ensure that cases are prosecuted that cannot be otherwise dealt with by the Public Prosecution Service.

Can the Minister of Justice tell this House why those Crown Attorneys did not prosecute the matters and if it is because they feel that this Minister of Justice and his department have failed to adequately dealt with their brethren, can he tell this House why this House should have any confidence in his ability to run his department?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it is a long convoluted question and it has to do with brethren, but I would believe there are sisters involved as well. I have every confidence that those hired by the Director of Public Prosecution are competent. The program is a special program that was put in place for the eventuality of a strike. I have every faith in the director of that service and I am sure that he explored any area that was feasible of putting a program in place. I am not sure of all the work time allotments or the commitments that the per diems that the honourable member mentions could have made, but I know that things were done right and they were done properly and they were done with sensitivity to the issue with respect to the justice system in this province.

MR. BAKER: Is the Minister of Justice suggesting to this House that you had to go outside to high-priced law firms to ask for an adjournment? We knew the strike date. The Minister of Justice buried his head in the sand. Will the Minister of Justice tell us why there was not a request for adjournment made in those cases before the cases came to court?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the process of justice was protected in this province. It was protected in a fair and responsible and equitable way. I will stand by that. The government did not call the strike. The Crown Attorneys called the strike and the responsibility for what happens following is theirs.

There was much progress made, Mr. Speaker, both on the wage package and the collective agreement, but if they choose to strike and they had their minds set in that direction. They chose to do that and the responsibility is theirs and you can ask them.

MR. BAKER: Will the Minister of Justice tell the House why, if he is not prepared to grant collective bargaining to the Crown Attorneys, at least will he suggest that this matter be referred to arbitration so that the matters can be dealt with and we will have no further work stoppages that will throw cases out of our courts?

[Page 639]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, either I have not been making it clear, and I guess that is what it is, or that honourable member has not been listening. I said that we have not closed the door on collective bargaining. This is part of the Ghiz-Archibald report (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: Any other way that we can move into a process of dealing with the situation, the working conditions, and the financial package that we brought forward is fair and just. We are prepared to do that. We are open, we have not closed the door to collective bargaining.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.


MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. I quote from the Speech from the Throne, "While other jurisdictions continue to suffer a doctor exodus, Nova Scotia is turning the tide and attracting qualified physicians to under-served communities.". My question then is what is the government's, or what is the minister's definition of an under-serviced community?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker there is a physician resource program being developed for the province. There is no specific definition to my knowledge on an under-serviced area. We are moving in the regional system with specialist funding. We are dealing with issues particular to the rural communities. We have done more in the last while, in the last year or two that has been done for many, many years in these initiatives. There has been a net gain of 95 physicians in the province for 1997 over 1996. We are one of the few provinces in Canada that has stopped the out-migration of physicians from all of those provinces.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my supplementary will be to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health is quick to make mention of how many doctors have come to Nova Scotia but he does not make reflection on the statistics of the number of doctors that have left Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, my question is this. The Yarmouth area has 6,000 people who are without the services of a doctor. Is the Minister of Health, today, prepared to designate Yarmouth as an under-serviced area?

DR. SMITH: Yes, Mr. Speaker, and I think that is a fair question. Yarmouth is a unique community but it is designated already. It is along with Amherst, the Port Hawkesbury areas, and there are some areas, no question, that we have really addressed quite well. I think our staff has within the last while, along with the communities, and the communities are key to

[Page 640]

this, the medical community and the whole community, but Yarmouth is well known as an area that is difficult to retain physicians. Many people come there, spend a period of time, and go away. That is a real concern, that relocation, but we will certainly work with the hospital, the people in the community, the physicians, to do anything that we can. It is very important. It is a very isolated community. It is a good regional centre and we want to help and support that. I thank the honourable member for his question.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: I appreciate the comments by the Minister of Health but what he needs to understand is that Yarmouth is not designated as an under-serviced area and knowing that there are 6,000 people in the Yarmouth area without a doctor, my question then, Mr. Speaker, is for the Minister of Health. Why is your department only advertising for one-third of the doctors needed to address the doctor shortage crisis in the Yarmouth area?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, our program is not a cure all. We need help from the communities. Communities have to recruit their own physicians. We can do what we can and we have been very successful, 95 new doctors in 1997 over the previous year. That is net. I mean we have turned the tide but I think we have to acknowledge that we are living in a global community and no profession is more mobile than physicians. As I met with someone today, a physician of long-standing in this province, said this has not changed over 20 years. I mean basically it has been happening but there is no question we will work with the community. I think the issue is primary care. It is an area . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I think the minister has adequately answered the question.

DR. SMITH: . . . that we may want to look at putting out pilot project in a community like Yarmouth.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. I would like to table two sheets here. One is a sheet from the 1992 report of the Provincial Medical Board and the other is a sheet from the 1997 Report of the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Nova Scotia. My question is to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health has, on many occasions recently, indicated in the last year that the province witnessed a net increase of 100 new doctors. Would the minister indicate if he is referring to fully registered doctors?

[3:15 p.m.]

HON. JAMES SMITH: The number 95, that I mentioned in 1997, was both defined and temporary registrations, and that is the response to the question.

[Page 641]

DR. HAMM: I would hope that the minister would take a minute and have a look at the sheets that I just tabled, because it very clearly, in black and white, points out that the minister's answer is incorrect.

I would like to continue with the Minister of Health. In fact, the net increase in fully registered physicians in Nova Scotia last year was four, would the minister confirm that from December 31, 1992, to December 31, 1997, during the period of time in which this government was in power, that Nova Scotia experienced a net loss of 180 fully registered physicians?

DR. SMITH: The figure I was quoting - and I don't know that we can solve this in a numbers game today here - but I was quoting the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia as year ends, 1997. There was a net of 95 physicians. I can only go with the information that I have, it was collected by a responsible person. The list, at any one time, if you take statistics from MSI, from College of Physicians and Surgeons, and all the others, it is very difficult. What we do know is that we have areas with shortages of physicians, rural and otherwise, and we have addressed them, and we have made great progress. Areas like Canso now have physicians, and that has been for a long period of time.

DR. HAMM: I would hold this up for the minister to see, because I am quoting from the 1997 Report of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, the same document that the minister purports to be using for his information and, clearly, the information in my report is very different from what the minister has been reporting publicly.

My final supplementary to the minister. Now that he has had an opportunity to look at the 1992 figures and realizes that we have some 180 fewer full-time, fully registered physicians here in Nova Scotia, would the minister now recognize that the loss of 180 fully registered physicians in Nova Scotia since 1992 has had a disastrous effect on health care delivery in Nova Scotia and, in fact, is the reason why so many Nova Scotians are having difficulty in accessing a primary care physician and also specialist's services in this province?

DR. SMITH: Our main problem is our location. We speak in terms of paediatricians, 60 being in the urban area here around the university, and yet very difficult to place. This is really the issue. Now there are people who have come in that don't have full licenses, and the honourable member is quoting types of licensing, but, as he knows, there has been, as recent as last week, changes at the national level in how this is determined and who will qualify, and there are some numbers here being quoted that are a little bit out of context as to who is available to see patients. The honourable member quite well knows that.

[Page 642]

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



MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. In August, 1997, Premier MacLellan said he was prepared to accept the results of the Kings County Plebiscite on VLTs, and of course we know that he was never forced to do that since the duly lobbied Kings County Council turned down the request to have the issue put on the ballot during the municipal elections. My question for the Premier. Does he stand by his earlier commitment to remove VLTs in accordance with a plebiscite?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member said, the Kings County Council did not pass such a motion. The whole question of VLTs is being looked at at the present time and, hopefully, we will have something to report further.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question was whether or not he was standing by the stand he took prior to and during his campaign that he would, in fact, remove VLTs in accordance with a plebiscite? I did not get an answer to that question.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we realize that there are many people in Nova Scotia who are concerned about the increasing numbers of VLTs and this is something which we are very interested in in the government. We realize that this question needs consideration and we are giving it consideration.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I guess one way that we could see some concrete action on this very issue would be to support changes to the Municipal Act so that municipal councils can't, just simply by a majority vote, decide not to have this issue on a plebiscite. I guess I would ask the Premier whether or not he and his government would support those changes to the Municipal Act?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, to my knowledge we have not received any such request.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.



MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, my question through you today will be to the Minister of Education. As we have known for the last three or four years, the alternative to financing schools that has been proposed by this government has been the P3 process. The P3 process has brought forward four school constructions, none of those school constructions

[Page 643]

having a lease signed upfront. My question today is after the election, the public debate about lack of accountability, competitiveness to the minister, is there a request going to the Auditor General for an analysis on the P3 partnership on the Porters Lake school?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, there is a request going forward to the Auditor General and I will be meeting with him.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, that is indeed good news. It is a recognition that public accountability and good value for taxpayers' dollars must be ensured in school construction. We all know and accept that schools must be built in a timely fashion. It is absolutely imperative that schools are built for communities in Nova Scotia that desperately need their schools. A school that comes to mind is Lantz. At a parents' meeting earlier this month a number of people in this House attended, myself included, and those parents wanted to know when their school was going to be built, was it going to be started before June 15th? My question, first supplementary, to the minister is do we have a school construction by June 15th?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, in answering the first question that he asked, would we ask the Auditor General to review the leases to date, including Porters Lake, the answer is yes, we are doing that, providing the Auditor General with any and all information. We are doing everything we can to meet that June 15th deadline. I would suggest that the member opposite, whose Party has just introduced a resolution which would ensure that the people of Lantz do not get a school in a timely manner might, in fact, consider the dilemma that he is, in a sense, suggesting here. One is that we review and have public accountability, and we fully intend to do that. Secondly, will we get on with the job of building quality schools? We intend to do that as well.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is reassuring that this minister and this government have taken six months to ask for accountability in the process and try to blame accountability for the public good on another political Party. My question on the second supplementary now involves a meeting that took place this morning. The meeting was to inform the two Opposition Parties of the P3 process.

Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, certainly it was a beginning, but the meeting was a little too short and it created more questions than it did answers. I believe to provide the comfort to the members of this House and to the people of Nova Scotia, certainly more questions have to be answered. Will the minister ensure that more questions are answered on the P3 partnerships so this process can move ahead? This process is government driven, not Opposition held up.

MR. HARRISON: We have agreed to undertake a review with the Auditor General as is the practice of this government through all these leases. The members opposite asked earlier if there were cost-benefit analyses. Every bit of information that we have in the

[Page 644]

creation of a lease is exchanged with the Auditor General so that they are fully informed of all the leases to date and those that are about to be signed.

Do we intend to provide more information for the Opposition Parties, Mr. Speaker? We would be more than pleased to provide more opportunities for more discussion and to characterize this morning's meeting as simply a one-way discussion, I know from having met with two of the four deputies that there were questions and exchanges. Was there enough time? Perhaps not. Will we create more time for the Opposition Parties? We certainly would do that. But we intend not only to review the accountability factor of these leases but we also intend to get on with needed construction.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.


MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the honourable Minister Responsible for the Status of Women. In the Throne Speech the government talked about funding for women's centres. I quote, it mentions, ". . . a place for everyone in Nova Scotia. We must break down the barriers that keep too many on the margins of society.".

My question is, Mr. Speaker, why then did your government only fund half of the six women's centres in this province?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: I thank the honourable member for her question. We heard many times last year in this House issues raised around the equity issue of funding for women's centres. I met with women's centres and transition house representatives as well and gave a commitment to try to bring the funding of the three lower funded centres up to an equity basis with the three other centres and this we are doing.

MS. ATWELL: I thank the honourable minister for her response; however, the six women's centres are all underfunded. They are short staffed. They have part-time staff. They need money for finances for a crisis intervention worker. Once again, why did this minister only choose to bring the lower funded up to the other three centres that are already underfunded? I would like her to explain that.

MRS. COSMAN: I thank the honourable member for her second question. The whole issue of funding for women's centres and transition houses is one that we all, I am sure, share concern around because there is always more to be done in all the service areas that these groups provide. Certainly, I have senior staff working with the representatives of women's centres trying to look at a business plan that they have been asked to provide around the question of another level of funding for their service. That is an evolving process, honourable member, and I am certainly sure that my staff will work with them to identify the key issues

[Page 645]

around the question of increasing, again, support for the centres' financial needs and identifying some of the core services that would be encompassed in such a plan.

MS. ATWELL: Once again, I would like to say that I have been at the centres and you have been at the centres and we know the work that the women's centres are doing. They are always in crisis because they are thoroughly underfunded. You yourself, the honourable member, have been part of the Status of Woman and understand these issues very well. I guess your answer to me is quite unacceptable. In the Throne Speech this government did commit to funding for women's centres. I ask you again, will this government keep its commitment to the women of Nova Scotia?

MRS. COSMAN: I think I have already answered the question, both the first question and the second question. I have addressed the concern that the honourable member is raising.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Justice. We referred earlier to the second day of the dispute involving the Crown Prosecutors withdrawing their services as a result of inaction on behalf of the Minister of Justice and this government. I want to ask the minister if he would explain to Nova Scotians why it is that it appears to be appropriate for the independence of judges to have binding arbitration to deal with issues of establishing levels of remuneration and working conditions, but it is not also appropriate for Crown Prosecutors to have a similar set-up of binding arbitration to deal with issues of salaries and working conditions?

[3:30 p.m.]

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, what we brought back to the Crown Attorneys of this province was a twofold issue: one, regarding a fair and just financial package; and the other, an alternative to setting up a process that collective bargaining would be an option and various options we would explore across this country and see what would be most appropriate. The door is open and, in answer to the question, we have not dismissed using a system such as the honourable member has mentioned in his question.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice says the door is open. Four years ago, Ghiz-Archibald made a recommendation that if there is not some structure set up to establish the independence of these Crown Prosecutors, that there will be an erosion of its operational independence and the minister has the nerve to say that the door is open. I want to ask the minister, why is it that he has not moved before now to establish an independent process such as collective bargaining and will he do that before today's sitting is over?

[Page 646]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I don't want to give the answer that the reason I didn't move on it is that I wasn't Minister of Justice, but it certainly has occupied a reasonable amount of my time. I have met with the Crown Attorneys of this province, I have tried to be as open and frank and as fair with them as I can be, and we brought a package forward that addresses the concerns that the honourable member mentions and it impacts, also, on the recommendations of the Ghiz-Archibald report. I cannot say any more than that. The system, how it would look in the times ahead, I am not sure. It certainly isn't working any better in other parts of Canada than here if you want to look at the issue as we speak, including those provinces with collective bargaining.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about Nova Scotians, the Nova Scotia justice system and the Crowns here in Nova Scotia on what this Nova Scotia Government is going to do.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, this is Question Period.

MR. CHISHOLM: I want to direct my question through you to the Premier. I want to ask the Premier, the former Premier and Liberal Government requested the Ghiz-Archibald team come together and review the prosecution services in the Province of Nova Scotia and make recommendations because of the problems that were brewing in that service. They were very clear that there needed to be the establishment . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Put your question, please. Order, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . of some independent structure to establish wages and working conditions. I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, given the fact that the Crowns have taken the unprecedented action of going on strike for the past two days, will he commit his government here today, to finding a resolve to this very serious situation affecting the very stability of the justice system in Nova Scotia before this week is out?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition likes to refer to this time last year, the federal election. Well, I would like to refer to this time last year with respect to the labour outlook for the following year. There was a great deal of concern about over 50,000 public employees coming up for contract renewals as of November 1st. Well, I will tell you, all of those public servants had their contracts renewed without losing one day of work in this province, not one day. (Applause)

We have Crown Prosecutors who are not members of a collective bargaining unit. We have made them an offer, they have said they don't want that offer. We have said we are going to look at the Ghiz-Archibald report and we are going to consider the Ghiz-Archibald report (Interruptions) but we want the time to do it. We want the time to talk to them about this.

[Page 647]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Premier, who is in charge of offshore natural gas. The Nova Scotia Petroleum Directorate recently let out a contract to examine the feasibility of extracting ethane from natural gas. The Province of Nova Scotia has already agreed with Mobil and Shell to export the ethane, which is the building block of the petrochemical industry. The Province of Nova Scotia has already agreed to allow the export of ethane in the natural gas as it leaves our borders.

Could the Premier tell me, please, after he has already agreed to allow the ethane to be exported, why is he suddenly now doing a study to see whether we can have a petrochemical industry or not?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we don't need a study to tell us if we can have a petrochemical industry. We already know we can. The question is how much ethane, how much product do we need to justify the petrochemical industry. What we have said is that we are prepared to allow the ethane to flow with the natural gas until we have the quantity sufficient to have someone make a proposal to us to process the ethane here in Nova Scotia. We can stop the ethane when that time arrives and we will. We are committed to a petrochemical industry in Nova Scotia.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, in December, the Premier agreed that if the province does in fact tell Mobil and Shell that they want to stop the ethane from leaving Nova Scotia, that the taxpayers are going to have to pay Mobil and Shell. Could he tell us why the taxpayers are going to be paying for the ethane?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is not a question of paying for the ethane. It is a question of natural gas flowing to a customer with a particular BTU requirement. That BTU requirement is enhanced because of ethane. That can also be enhanced with the use of propane. So the ethane can be taken from the natural gas and propane injected to keep that BTU content up, or the value of the natural gas per cubic litre can decline. This is something which is a very reasonable consideration and one which we understand, but we are not, and I want to repeat, we are not going to allow the ethane to leave this province at the expense of a petrochemical industry for Nova Scotia.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, it seems as though you have already allowed it to leave at the expense of an industry. Could the minister in charge indicate then why he has agreed that when the ethane is stripped at Goldboro, the taxpayers of Nova Scotia are going to be responsible for the cost of upgrading the plant that isn't even built? Why would the Premier agree to do that? Why didn't the Premier insist that the plant be built so that ethane

[Page 648]

could be extracted from the beginning and why did you obligate the taxpayers to some future construction problem that is going to result from the ethane that should be in Nova Scotia? The future minister in charge of the offshore will demand that it be here because that is where the jobs are. For the Premier to first say they can have the ethane . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member please put his question.

MR. ARCHIBALD: The minister in charge said they could have the ethane. If Nova Scotians want it for an industry, we are going to have to pay to get it back. Now we find the Premier also agreed. Could he tell us why he has obligated the taxpayers of Nova Scotia . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have not committed the people of Nova Scotia to pay for any stripping plant. The stripping plant must be at the cost of the company who wants to process the ethane. I can assure the people of Nova Scotia that no added cost for a stripping plant has been factored into the transportation of natural gas.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.


MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question this afternoon is for the Minister of Transportation. As you know, New Jersey is investing some $30 billion to improve its infrastructure in pursuit of the post-Panamax shipping traffic, while Baltimore, Boston, Norfolk and New York are aggressively pursuing this contractual arrangement with Sealand Maersk.

Could the Minister of Transportation tell the House what efforts, financial and otherwise, are being made to support Nova Scotia ports in their bids?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Thank you, honourable member. The Province of Nova Scotia is very concerned about the Port of Halifax, which generates over 7,000 jobs and there is over $3 million in direct and indirect spending here in the Port of Halifax. We certainly would like to push ahead with this project and we certainly stand behind it.

MR. DEXTER: Well, I guess, the follow-up to that response is, is it only the bid of the Port of Halifax that the Department of Transportation is supporting?

MR. HUSKILSON: The Department of Transportation and Public Works would like to look at several bids. Certainly, we are not just going to look at one, there are several. We want to be fair and even across the board. So we will certainly look at all bids.

[Page 649]

MR. DEXTER: Can the minister tell the House when he last met with the bidders and when their proposals will be going forward?

MR. HUSKILSON: I had an opportunity to meet with the Halifax Port Development Commission and that was approximately, I can certainly get back to you on that, but that was probably about two weeks ago.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.


MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of Justice. It was confirmed a little earlier today in Question Period that the lawyers who are substituting, if you will, for the Crown Prosecutors come from well-connected and well-attached Liberal law firms. Would the minister not agree that $300 per hour is just a little too steep and a little too pricey for the poor beleaguered taxpayers of Nova Scotia?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I will try to answer very briefly, and I know you will appreciate that, the two questions from the honourable member. Number one about well connected, again, I just will (Interruption) I will give no answer to that. I don't think that really will get an answer even that it deserves.

The hypothetical question of $300 an hour, I expect he is referring to the per diems. That is not the amount, Mr. Speaker, that is a misrepresentation of that. That is an amount determined by the acting director. Although it was predicted that the entire strike would cost $250,000 or something of that nature, I suspect we would be looking at far less than that. So I can't really in all fairness react to that $300 an hour. Yes, it would be a lot if that was the average but that is not so.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, you have 40 seconds.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Anyway you cut it, this strike by the Crown Prosecutors is going to impact the Public Accounts of this province. Will the minister stand up in his place today and tell all of Nova Scotia what he is paying the lawyers and their law firms, those well-connected Liberals? How much an hour are you paying per lawyer?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice, you have 14 seconds.

[Page 650]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I fail to respond to the well-connected Liberal comment again. It is just a misrepresentation and also the other part of his question as well. The arrangements have been made by the Acting Director of the Public Prosecution Service and he . . .

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Notices of Motion.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

Did I hear a No?

Order, please. We have had a request to revert to the order of business, Notices of Motion.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

MR. GERALD FOGARTY: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Earlier this afternoon, the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage tabled a resolution which deals with the Crown Prosecutors dispute ongoing here in the Province of Nova Scotia. Just yesterday, the same member brought in a bill for first reading on that same subject matter . . .

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: I don't want to interrupt the honourable member, but you're up on your feet for a point of order, is that correct?

MR. FOGARTY: A point of order, yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, it's not a notice of motion.

MR. FOGARTY: On a point of order, I'm referring to or going back to a notice of motion that was brought forward earlier this afternoon. Yesterday, if I might continue, the same member from Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage introduced a bill for first reading on the same subject matter, the Crown Prosecutors dispute and with respect, Mr. Speaker, I submit

[Page 651]

that the resolution should have been declared out of order. I draw attention to the section in Beauchesne dealing with notices of motion, on Page 175, Clause 566.(7), and I quote. "A motion dealing with the same subject-matter as a bill, standing on the Order Paper for second reading, cannot be considered.".

I would ask you to revisit your decision, with respect, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, do you wish to respond to the point of order?

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: No, that's okay.

MR. SPEAKER: I will take the matter under advisement.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

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

You have approximately 52 minutes remaining.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: I was driving somewhere along the Gardiner highway, so . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: You got a speeding ticket.

MR. CORBETT: Well, I don't know if I got a speeding ticket. There are good people out there, you drive nice and slow so you can see all the houses and see all the good New Democratic voters out there.

I would like to just move over a little bit to the Town of Dominion and its great people. (Interruption)

[Page 652]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber.

MR. CORBETT: Thank you. This small town - as I so often said in my speech in the first few minutes - another area that certainly grew up around coal mining and its effects. It's a great little town and we - Brenda MacDonald and I - during the election campaign, had much fun there, standing outside the post office, talking to voters and asking them for support which was certainly forthcoming on my behalf and I appreciate that.

The good people of Dominion, every summer, have a festival I would like to talk about. It's called Seaside Days, and for those who have been in around the area, they should certainly see that it is one of the loveliest natural sandbars in all this province. They have this as their centrepiece for the Seaside Days Festival and it acts as a come home, if you will, for a lot of the former residents who had to go away to find work because of government's inaction on the job front in Cape Breton. These people come home and they get to enjoy a week of fun and activity and meet friends and relatives and it is a great time. I urge any members in the House, if they are available at that time of year, in August, to please come down and enjoy the Seaside Days in Dominion and certainly enjoy the company of the great people of Dominion.

We'll skip over a bit, we will go to the area of River Ryan, which I'm sure the member for Cape Breton The Lakes has a great affinity for. These are people who belong in the former Municipality of the County of Cape Breton, which was taken under the auspices of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. I don't really know what government enacted that, maybe the member for Cape Breton West can enlighten me. These people are living in this area, basically, you would think it was Third World conditions, with the lack of sewer and water. We have attended a few meetings out in that area with those community residents, and we certainly will be petitioning this government, and probably bring it to public light through this speech, that these people will be looking for sewer and water in that area. If the proper department would look into it, I'm sure that it's something that's due and certainly feasible.

The area of New Waterford. Now, I grew up in the Town of New Waterford. It's a great place. You know, I grew up on No. 12 Hill, and I was fortunate when I was going around during my campaigning to be followed one day by the Parliamentary channel, the CPAC cameras. I happened to go into St. Agnes Convent where I met a number of the sisters. They are the Sisters of Charity, they are out here at Mount Saint Vincent, fine women.

Part of the thing, as in most places, they are no different than a lot of the other homes, their convent was under disrepair. They were trying to basically put some money together to effect some repairs for their convent and wished me to bring that forward to this body, that if I was so elected that we would ask, through any of the ministries here, if we could effect some money for the improvements in their convent and I put that forward now.

[Page 653]

This Town of New Waterford has been devastated many times. When I was growing up there were three active mines in this town and now we are down to one. What we had done through a lot of citizens' hard work is establish what was called Colliery Lands Park which was basically taking the old workings of two former mines, No. 12 Mine, one which my father worked in for many years and No. 16, another mine that my father toiled in for many years. He was a proud UMW member and he was the former President of Local 1888 of the United Mine Workers of America.

They took this land, reconfigured it and made a great park for all the citizens of New Waterford to enjoy and participate in. People have picnics there, they have a band shell there, they have all these amenities there and it is through the hard work of the people of the Town of New Waterford and some of the former councillors before that town was amalgamated. I take this time to salute the hard work of the mayor and the former councillors of the Town of New Waterford.

Another area and I will probably be addressing it a bit more in my speech but it is the hard work of the citizens of New Waterford in working to help their town hospital to survive. There are many people on the other side of the floor who act as the apologists for the people of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, the management, as their official apologists. If we go out and we try to protect the jobs, the people who work there and protect the patients that are served there, we are seen as the mongrels, if you will and these people are out there and no matter what the management side of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital have to say, these people will doggedly support them to the behest of the people of New Waterford.

I am not going to spend too much more time the rest of the day in talking about the whole idea of what my area looks like and what it is but I would probably like to move in and make some comments about the content of the Speech from the Throne. I would like to start my comments by quoting the late John F. Kennedy, who said, the real enemy of truth is not lies but myths. That is truly what the problem is with this document, it is full of myths.

I use, probably, the hospital example as the greatest one. We had the Minister of Health telling us, oh boy, we are on the threshold of a great hospital situation here. Well, I beg to differ. They do these things that are called in the news business, viewer friendly or listener friendly, we will give you a name, we will throw it out and we will say, oh, isn't that nice, warm and cuddly. I will tell you something, I am going to give you some names and incidents that makes this whole hospital charade not so warm and not so cuddly.

I will start with less than two years ago, my elderly father-in-law, 88 years old. He brought up a family of 12, he and his wife worked hard all their lives. Tom MacPherson was born on Rocky Ridge in Inverness County just outside of Port Hood. He worked from there right down to Newport Beach in California, worked hard all of his life. He raised his family, raised a good, strong Cape Breton family. At 88 years old, the man becomes ill and is taken to the New Waterford Hospital by his daughter, my wife. He spends three days on a gurney

[Page 654]

in the outpatients. Is that the dignity to be shown to a man of 88 years old who worked, produced and gave his heart and soul to this province? I say shame. For this government to tell us we have turned the corner, well, mister, it is an ugly corner. It is a very ugly corner.

It was through understaffing, through bed cutbacks, that this happened. Now, my wife's family stood beside this man's bed for approximately three weeks until his demise and it was a sad demise. It was not easy for my family and the rest of my wife's family. If they had not stood there and done the basic things they would not have gotten done because of understaffing. I will say this, the ones who are remaining in the hospitals as the workers, God love them, because they work their hearts and souls out for little or no recognition.

The only thing that is recognized by the management of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital is the fact that these people will be facing a nurse shortage, a crisis as they say, in four years. That is using their words, a crisis. They manage this mess.

The honourable members across the way can say, you know, that is history, that is two years ago. Let's bring something up to this December and we will personalize it so the Liberals can understand it.

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went in for chemotherapy. The whole idea is to get them in and get them out. One of my sisters took her home. Little or no education to my sister. She takes her home. It is a couple of weeks before Christmas. Nobody tells her that as part of this treatment you must give them lots of fluids to get this out of their system. Nobody tells them that. So in the middle of the night my mother gets up to use the washroom. She is disoriented and falls down a flight of stairs. Where was our hospital system then?

Our family takes her off to the hospital where we wait for four hours. One, two, three, four. Count them. Too bad the minister is not in the House now as we make this fabulous turn. We go there and after four hours of waiting, finally we get a doctor to see her and have to plead to him to do something to stitch a four inch gash in her head. My mother, many of you may not know, she brought 15 children into this world, 72 years old. Certainly deserved more than that.

I will tell you what, Mr. Speaker, this government does not have to worry about her costing their precious health care system anymore. Because of their cost-cutting, their meanness, she passed away on April 7th. They do not have to worry about people like my mother anymore. That is what their health care reform did and if they can look at themselves in the mirror, great. Just great.

[Page 655]

I do not want to belabour the health care issue too much longer. If they think this is working, they should go and talk to the pregnant women in around Glace Bay who are going full term without getting to see a doctor. Or talk to the people who are living out at Lingan, Phelan Mine or at Lingan Generating Station who say, if we are in the two biggest industrial complexes in the area, if we are faced here with any kind of disaster on the worksite, are there going to be enough people up there to treat us at the hospital? We asked this of the management at Cape Breton Regional Hospital and they said, don't know. We are paying a guy there to stay all night. I can tell you, one doctor does not do it. One doctor certainly does not do it.

We will move off the health care issue for a few minutes and I would like to talk about education. We have grave problems in our education and I won't even go on to articulate some of the problems with P3. It is certainly that during the election there were many partisans - I am going to call them partisans because they were not partisans on our side. They were supporters of that Party across the way who called the P3 public private patronage. That is what it is. People come to us and say I know the Sherwood Park School is an inferior building in construction and design. Yet these folks won't see it.

Or they will tell you about when those computer systems are down, they are down for two weeks because they cannot be fixed in Nova Scotia. They have to be shipped somewhere in the United States. This whole P3 fiasco is just a joke.

I won't spend too much time on that because I would like to spend a few minutes talking about the University College of Cape Breton. Now for those members who are not from Cape Breton, they may not be aware of the uniqueness of this facility; certainly by its own definition it is a university and a college. It offers a trades component that is not to be found anywhere else and, obviously, it has a university's degree-granting status.

[4:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, for years and years this has been underfunded and unrecognized by this government. For some reason they do not want to take the bull by the proverbial horns and say look, this is a problem, we have to get out there. They tell us in a very superficial way that look, we have to do something about the job problem in Cape Breton. Well, do something, help us train our young people, help us educate them. Don't put roadblocks in front of us. But, when it comes to doing it, it is oops. The only thing they like to do at UCCB is build walls and buildings as monuments to themselves and then, when they walk away from it, you say well, excuse me, we need some soap and water to clean the building with. Oh, that wasn't part of the deal, we wanted Mr. MP's name on this, see you later, and it is gone. They don't care anymore. So we are left there holding the proverbial bag again.

[Page 656]

When it comes to even stuff like bringing professors from Cape Breton to Halifax, these grants are not considered, the cost of bringing them up. It is just thrown in their general costs. We have to be recognized for that. We still, per square feet, have one of the smallest areas for teaching students, even with these new mausoleums.

Mr. Speaker, this government has to realize the uniqueness of the University College of Cape Breton and spend accordingly. We are not asking to throw money at it, as they often say. All we want is a fair share and a recognition of the uniqueness and a recognition that by educating our children in Cape Breton they will stay in Cape Breton, they will create jobs which, in turn, will create wealth and we will all be the better for it. It is not that hard.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to change gears a bit and talk about my critic area, which is Labour. I am extremely proud that I come from a trade union background, I am proud that I have involved myself in the trade union movement and I am proud of my sisters and brothers who supported me in my election campaign. When we talk in terms of the Trade Union Act here in this province, again something that wasn't mentioned by this government in its Speech from the Throne, things that in other provinces are considered a way of course.

One of those, by way of highlight, would be automatic recognition. Now, for the uninitiated, all that is is if you can show that you sign up a majority of the workers in a certain area, you are automatically certified. No more of this hearing stuff that causes all kinds of acrimony on the work floor and is just another way for employers to drive wedges and it is another way to put a rub against unions and management. I think we should use a nice, clean process.

Another one would be, as it is often referred to, anti-scab legislation, and it is one which would certainly be embraced by most employers. It is only fear of the unknown when people say, oh no, that is the way it goes, you need this stuff. I can assure you that if this government would look at the areas where anti-scab legislation was legislated, you will find that you have strikes of shorter duration, you have less picket line violence and less hooliganism all around because there is no need for it, there is a respect for each other's locations. I think those are two of the issues.

You know, Mr. Speaker, there is another issue I would like to speak about for a short while in the labour movement, and that is the first collective agreement. Another one that I think would go a long way to getting rid of the useless acrimony that is put in place by the adversarial roles of first-time collective agreements. There are the ones where both parties are new to each other at the table. If we were to have this again, it would get rid of a lot of wasted tugging at one another during the collective bargaining process. We could get it out, get them together and they would spend a year with each other, so to speak, and they would certainly find out that they are not the bogeymen that they think each other are.

[Page 657]

One of the other items I would like to talk about right now, Mr. Speaker, is about jobs and job creation. It is just so baffling when this government talks in terms of that and when they beat their chest about any kind of economic growth or any kind of job policy. I drive up here just about every weekend. When I drive through my riding to leave, it is shameful with the amount of unemployment. There are people on that side of the floor who are apt to say, we won't be happy until everybody who wants a job gets a job. Well, if they are going to keep this attitude, they are going to be a long time before they are happy. There is nothing creative.

We go to Cape Breton. They go to create jobs. Do they do it in a honest and transparent way? No way. They go and they take their little cartel and they meet and they say, oh, which guy do we cherry-pick from this week? They say, okay, you are the guy that is going to operate this position and you are going to operate that position. So what you have, in effect, is a feudal system that would make the 1800's look tame. Here you are, you work for us or you don't work on Cape Breton Island.

Whether it is their indifference to the coal industry or its their headlong rush into appeasing the people on the Sable project or it is the selling, the giving away of our ports in Cape Breton with the possibility of the Laurentian oilfield/gasfield taking off, basically giving it away to the private sector, after being told by various community groups and, indeed, the municipality, that that is needed for job creation. Yet, this government just wants to saddle up to its federal cousins and take off willy-nilly with it, Mr. Speaker.

It is abysmal when their own government created the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. This government did. They have to take the oil companies to court, and with no support from that government, because they made a sidebar deal with their friends in the offshore. It is pretty pathetic, Mr. Speaker. We are out there. All we want is our fair share. Yet, they are making us, as taxpayers of the Regional Municipality of Cape Breton, spend money we don't have just because they are out there to please the oil companies. It is shameful. It would be funny if it wasn't so serious.

I am not going to speak much longer, Mr. Speaker, but if there is one plea I suppose I could make to this government in its Throne Speech, it would be that they would have to saddle up and do some real job infrastructure. Jobs aren't there. They are not trying to create them in any meaningful way. They do a little hit here and a little hit there, yet they are not doing anything. We see it. We see it by whether it is the fooling around with the offshore, or whether it is their lack of attention to UCCB or if its their lack of attention to the municipalities.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to wrap up my talk on this subject. I thank you for your time and allowing me to do this. As a way of ending, I want to advise you that I will be voting for the amendment and also that I will be voting against the Speech from the Throne. (Applause)

[Page 658]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I stand before you today in this House to respond, to comment on the Speech from the Throne as the first ever NDP member for Yarmouth.

At this point I would like to congratulate the Speaker and Deputy Speaker on your recent historic election. I listened intently and with disappointment to a Speech from the Throne which totally ignored rural Nova Scotians. The good people of Yarmouth took it upon themselves, that they disagree strongly with the past five years of Liberal Government, of being ignored and not listened to. As some of my constituents would say, isolated. An example of Yarmouth being ignored is in the Speech from the Throne when mention is made that Yarmouth is slated to get an access centre in 1998-99. Yarmouth has had an access centre since February 1995. An example such as this only solidifies the need that this government pay attention to the needs of Yarmouth and rural Nova Scotia. If this government is serious in wanting to address the concerns of Yarmouth, then I would like to mention a few.

The secondary roads in Yarmouth, as well as most of rural Nova Scotia, are deplorable. Roads such as the Canaan Road, the Rodney Road, Lake George Road, and many others that are too numerous to mention, need maintenance and asphalt. During the recent election campaign it was quoted in the local newspaper that the Premier gave a solemn commitment that following the election he would work closely to tackle the long-standing problems we have had with country roads, particularly the Canaan Road and Moodsmill Road. Well, I am glad he gave his commitment because he did not give the asphalt.

Mr. Speaker, how can we expect rural communities to grow and prosper if there is no infrastructure in place? Who would want to build a home or locate a business on roads that we cannot commute during certain times of the year? Health care in the Yarmouth area is of major concern. Although we have a multimillion dollar hospital expansion, which is years overdue, between 5,000 to 6,000 Yarmouthians are without a doctor and experience four to five hour waits in the outpatient department. This government needs to address the issue of doctor shortage in Yarmouth and rural Nova Scotia. It would be criminal not to.

Education, Mr. Speaker, is another concern for the people of Yarmouth. We are slated for a P3 school. We have already named that school Meadowfields. During the recent campaign the people of Yarmouth have said loud and clear we want a new school but not a P3 school. They said to me that school funding needs to move towards government funding, 100 per cent. If one can privatize our schools and our highways, what is next - hospitals or parks? Nova Scotians do not want to be tenants in their own province.

[Page 659]

Mr. Speaker, during the recent campaign the people of Yarmouth had the commitment from this government for a multi-purpose sportsplex. For five years this Liberal Government has made that same commitment. Lip service, Mr. Speaker, needs to end. This sportsplex would be an economic boost for the Yarmouth area which has taken several hits in the last five years. That sportsplex is needed in Yarmouth now, today.

Employment, Mr. Speaker, in the Yarmouth area is not as prosperous today as it was 10 years ago. With the closure of the tin mine, the cotton mill, and a downturn in the fishery, good, fair-paying jobs are few and far between but what makes Yarmouth unique is that we are a very resilient lot. We continue to live and work and bounce back from whatever is thrown at us. We, as Yarmouthians, are determined that our community will be successful and will be prosperous. An example of that success is the arrival of the Cat, a fantastic boost to tourism in Yarmouth, with two crossings a day from Yarmouth to Bar Harbor. The economic spin-offs for the area will be great. I would like to invite all the MLAs and Cabinet Ministers to come to Yarmouth and experience the Cat.

[4:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, government should play a role in this success. Rural Nova Scotians, Yarmouthians, want to work with government to obtain that success. My hope is that this government doesn't ignore the potential that rural Nova Scotians have to offer.

Mr. Speaker, I am here because of the support and trust that the good people of Yarmouth have placed in me, and for that I thank them. But I am also here because of the work of a few dedicated constituents. At this point, I would like to acknowledge a few: Jim Laverie who was my campaign manager; Brian Noble; Carol and Harry DeCourcey; and Hartley Wickens, to name a few, and there are many more. I would also like to mention my wife, Karen, and my two sons, Justin and Jordan, with whom I spend less time as a result of my new job, but their support enables me to continue. I also want to make mention of my parents, Barb and Greg Deveau, for instilling in me a sense of fairness and humility.

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to be the MLA representing Yarmouth. I am very proud to have the opportunity to work with my colleagues in the NDP caucus and with my Leader. But I am very disappointed in the Speech from the Throne. It fails to address the plight of rural Nova Scotians, of Yarmouth, and it fails to address the concerns of health care, fair taxation, job creation, to name a few. I state before you today that I will vote against the Speech from the Throne and for the amendment with a clear conscience.

Mr. Speaker, the need for government is to work and implement legislation for all Nova Scotians; yes, including rural Nova Scotia. That message is not reflected in the Throne Speech. Rural Nova Scotians are looking towards this government for leadership; I maintain it is not there. To be a successful province, the government needs to recognize all of Nova Scotia, urban and rural, recognizing that different areas need different attention.

[Page 660]

Mr. Speaker, I thank you very much for this opportunity to speak before you and this House today. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova. (Applause)

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege and an honour to address the Assembly on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I would like to begin by extending my compliments to you, sir, and to your very capable deputy on having gained, and in your own case regained, the high office of Speaker of this House. I would like to state that in my previous experience working with you, when you were Speaker from 1978 to 1980 and again from 1991 to 1993, I found you to be an extremely fair and learned person in terms of knowledge of the usages and precedents of this House. I know that you will serve the House well and faithfully and I commend you, sir, on your re-election.

I would also like to extend congratulations to my very dear friend, Doug Giles, on his election as full Sergeant-at-Arms of this Assembly and my good friend, Arthur Fordham, Q.C., on his election as the Assistant Clerk of this House. I would like to welcome all the new members that we have, the new members of all three Parties. I certainly wish them every success during their time that they may be here. I know that I have enjoyed my years here and I trust that they may also enjoy their time here and that they will find their membership in this Assembly to be a productive and rewarding experience.

The honourable member for Annapolis is to be congratulated on the excellent way in which he moved the Address in Reply. I thought he spoke with great conviction and with dignity. He is the successor to the late Earle Rafuse who was a very dear friend of mine. I know he will carry on in the tradition established by Earle Rafuse, to the best of his ability.

I was equally impressed with the delivery of the honourable member for Richmond who seconded the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, l'honorable le député de Richmond.

M. le président, je veux félicité le nouveau député pour la circonscription de Richmond comme le deuxième plus jeune membre jamais élu à cette chambre. Je suis fier de l'avoir comme membre de notre gouvernement libéral. Moi aussi, j'ai le plaisir d'avoir été un jeune membre quand j'ai premier été élu, ayant seulement vingt-sept ans.

Je veux félicité le membre de Richmond pour sa présentation et son discours à l'ouverture de cette Assemblée législative. Je félicite les gens de Richmond pour leurs confiance dans leurs jeune député. J'ai confiance qu'il va les représenté avec distinction dans les années à venir.

[Page 661]

M. le président, je voudrais vous exprimer les salutations des citoyens de notre circonscription de Cape Breton Nova. C'est en privilège et un honneur d'avoir été élu à cette chambre pour la huitième fois consécutive. J'ai été élu à cette Assemblée pour la première fois en 1970, et encore en 1974, puis encore en 1978, puis encore en 1981, puis en 1984, puis encore en 1993 et maintenant en 1998. Seulement Robert Muir, à ma connaissance, a gagner un numéro égale d'élection au Cap-Breton au vingtième siècle, et personne n'a gagner plus. Mais, M. le président, j'ai juste commencer. I have only just begun.

Mr. Speaker, I am priviledged to serve in the office of dean of the House, an office gained by having served longer than any other member here. This office enables me to act as a sort of unofficial senior advisor and consultant to the government, a capacity in which I give the best effort that I can. I am proud to serve with this government.

Je suis fier de servir avec ce gouvernement. Je suis fier d'être un libéral. Le parti libéral est le parti du peuple. Le parti libéral est le parti qui ramène le Canada ensemble comme une nation. Le gouvernement du Premier Ministre, le très honorable Jean Chrétien, maintien ce pays unis. Si le gouvernement libéral n'était pas à Ottawa, si le Canada était mis en les mains du parti Reform, ou le Bloc, ou pour certainement l'NPD, cette nation sera complètement divisée. Ça c'est la vérité.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand here as a member of the Liberal Party, a Party which is the cement that binds our country together. Certainly, sir, as I have just stated in our other official language, if the Liberal Party was not there, if the Government of Canada was not in the hands of the Liberal Party today, if instead it was in the hands of the Reform or the Bloc, or for certain the NDP, our country would certainly come to very severe and indeed terrible times.

I want to pay tribute to our Premier, a long-time friend of mine in his capacity as Member of Parliament for Sydney, a man who is doing his level best for the people of Nova Scotia under difficult circumstances. I want to pay tribute too to the Honourable Manning MacDonald, my fellow MLA from Sydney, a lifetime friend. He and I were rink rats together at the Sydney Forum. We did many things together and learned together and, as we grew older, we overcame some of our childish practices. He and I have had a long-time working relationship and I know that he is doing an excellent job for the people of our area and of Nova Scotia at this particular time.

I would also like to say a few kind words on behalf of my friend, the honourable member for Shelburne, in his elevation to the position of Minister of Transportation and Public Works. I saw his father in the gallery on opening day and I must say that Harold Huskilson is such a good friend of mine that I frequently call his son Harold and then change the first name, realizing I have made a mistake. I can say that he certainly is a very worthy successor of his father, who served in this House for many, many years with great distinction.

[Page 662]

I want also to pay tribute to my honourable friend the member for Cape Breton West on his political comeback and on his having been made Minister of Labour for this province, a very important position to hold. I know that he will do his best to address the many serious problems facing that particular department.

I would also like to say a few words on behalf of my fellow member for Victoria in his work in the Department of Natural Resources, where he is carrying on and doing his best to cope with the many complicated problems that come across his desk every day. I know that he serves his constituency well. He runs one of the best constituency programs that I know of, at any constituency in Nova Scotia, thanks to the very capable work of his constituency assistant, Ms. Dara Beddow. I know that Dara and he together work very hard for the people of Victoria and I think that his re-election to the House this past winter certainly demonstrated the high esteem in which he is held by the people of Victoria County.

I would like to say a few kind words about the Premier and his role as federal Member of Parliament, because he served the area that I represent for many years. I know that he was held in very high esteem, and continues to be by the people. I think it is a great tribute to any politician when, generally speaking, the public refer to you by your first name. I know that Smallwood in Newfoundland was commonly known as Joey by everyone. In fact, he even had his telephones arranged so that you dialled the numbers for J-O-E-Y to get through to his office. He was held in very high esteem; he was loved by the people of Newfoundland.

In the same way, Russell MacLellan is known as Russell on the streets of the City of Sydney and in the surrounding area. He is not known by his last name or perhaps even as the Premier. I know he called me on the telephone one night and he said, Paul, this is Russell and I said, Russell who? He said, Russell the Premier, that Russell. Oh, I said. That is the way the people view him and they like him and know he is a very sincere and dedicated politician who has given the best years of his life trying to improve the community he represented.

You know, every election that Russell MacLellan ran in, he gained a larger majority than the time before. Many other politicians find that there is sort of an up and down to that type of thing, that you don't necessarily always get more votes in an election than you got the time before, but Russell MacLellan, during the time that he represented Cape Breton-The Sydneys as it was then known as - it is now Sydney-Victoria, but when it was Cape Breton- The Sydneys, virtually the same area - each election that he ran he received a higher vote than he had the time before, which demonstrates to me, certainly, that the people appreciated his efforts. I have every confidence that the people of Nova Scotia will come to develop a similar view of this man as Premier as time moves on.

He has come to office in times of great difficulty. I feel that one of the greatest difficulties our Premier has faced lies in the legacy created by the decision of our voters a year ago, on June 2, 1997, not to return any elected members of the government Party at all to the House of Commons in Ottawa. What a terribly unwise thing that seems in retrospect, because

[Page 663]

we have no voice at the elected level in Ottawa to represent this province; absolutely none. I feel that the terrible difficulty that has been created by the absence of elected representatives from this province in the federal government since June 2, 1997, certainly has been one of the causes of the difficulties that this provincial government has faced.

[4:30 p.m.]

I would, however, want to pay tribute at this time to Senator Al Graham who, at the age of 67, has stepped into the breach in a way that he had never planned on, had never sought, had never expected. He was asked by the Prime Minister if he would fill the breach of providing Nova Scotia with a voice at the federal Cabinet Table, in the absence of any elected member who could serve. Senator Graham assented immediately to taking on that difficult assignment and since that time, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that Senator Graham has worked day and night to try to overcome the enormous difficulties presented for this province as a result of the federal election of June 2, 1997.

I think that if you were to ask some of our friends across the way something of what they stand for, I think they would probably say that they stood for empowerment of the people. But when you look at the actual results of the experience of that election that I have just described, the election of NDP members in my area - because in my area, the Conservative Party is very weak. In fact, I think the Conservative running against me got the lowest percentage vote of any Conservative running in the province - the effect of electing NDP members in Cape Breton has not been to empower the people at all, but rather has been to disempower them, to marginalize our voice in Ottawa, to result in us being shut out of the corridors of power.

We are represented in Ottawa, mind you, not by the members of the government or even of the Official Opposition or even of the third-place Party, but by members of the fourth-place Party. No wonder we have problems at the Sydney Airport. No wonder we have problems at the Cape Breton Development Corporation. No wonder we have problems with Marine Atlantic. No wonder we have problems with all the federal agencies and programs applicable to our area, because we don't have anybody elected to represent our area in the federal government in Ottawa; only members of the fourth-place Party.

AN HON. MEMBER: All this happened in a year?

MR. MACEWAN: My, my. It is terrible. Do I hear the voice of the Independent Glace Bay Party? I am not prepared to listen to the voice of the Independent Glace Bay Party, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 664]

I have here in my hand a book that I think would be worthy reading for honourable members of the House who crave enlightenment. This volume, published by the Bras d'Or Liberal Association entitled, David C. Dingwall, "His Record", 1980 to 1997. I recently gave a copy of this to the Legislative Library, Mr. Speaker, so that there will be a copy.

AN HON. MEMBER: Table it.

MR. MACEWAN: I will table one, certainly. In fact, I can table two or three, but I have just one here with me now. This book is a little encyclopaedia of all the things that Mr. Dingwall got done for Cape Breton during the time he served us. You open this book and you won't find a great number of press releases in it. You won't find a great number of quotations from Hansard. I think there are five pages, in all, of press clippings, but the book is 76 pages long, so only five pages of press clippings. It is not very heavy on what he got into the press.

You see, one of the great differences between the Liberal Party and the NDP, Mr. Speaker, is that the Liberal Party is a Party that emphasizes primarily action rather than talk, whereas the NDP, of course, is all talk and no action. I don't doubt that members of the NDP are able to publish catalogues of all the speeches and press releases they have put out. I have never challenged them on their claims to be the first Party to raise this or to demand that or to advocate something else. They undoubtedly have been. It is very easy to make advocacies when you have no responsibility to subsequently deliver. Dingwall, on the other hand, during his years representing us in Ottawa, did not place any great emphasis on advocacy, other than to deliver results. He felt that if he tried to get something and failed to get it, it wasn't worthy of reporting.

He did deliver and this book outlines many of the specifics, usually placing a dollar value on the amount of federal funds that were made available to the community as a result of the initiative because that is the yardstick by which a member's productivity can be determined, not by how many press releases he or she rushes out. (Interruption) There are all kinds of them here, my friend, go get the book in the library and read it and then you will be enlightened.

Now, to get back to what I was saying. This book details area by area the achievements of Mr. Dingwall. It notes - I am not going to read it in its entirety. I have only an hour to speak and it takes me about an hour to get warmed up. Under the heading, for example, of the University College of Cape Breton, it is noted here how Mr. Dingwall was able to obtain the money for the Student Centre & Cultural & Heritage Centre, $15.1 million for UCCB at that time.

If the honourable member seeks some enlightenment, I can take a page at random. Let's take a page from down in Richmond. Framboise, Softwood Clearing, $81,252 - this is Page 52 of the book; L'Ardoise, History of the L'Ardoise Church, $2,137; RRAP funding, RICHMOND COUNTY, $1.4 million; Canada Works Allocation, $243,952; RRAP

[Page 665]

Allocation for 1994, $3.25 million; Chapel Island - road repairs, $12,660; another Canada Works Allocation, $1.12 million, and so on and so forth; $5.6 million for the construction of a new school on Chapel Island. In the New Waterford area a great deal was done, a tremendous amount; Polar Bear Beach Access, South Bar, $36,848; Municipal infrastructure projects for 1994, $2.4 million; New Waterford Homemakers Service Society, $63,464; Town of New Waterford for the construction of a playground, outdoor basketball facilities, training for child care and other programs, $396,252. It goes on and on.

I have not tallied up the total value of all the projects mentioned in this book. My friend guesstimates it might be $100 million, I think it would probably be a lot more than that. That is the record of the Liberal Party, that is what the Liberal Party has done. Perhaps it hasn't solved all the problems.

You know, Mr. Speaker, we don't live in a perfect world and we never will. In my experience over all the years I have been in politics - I would like to table that book, in fact I would like to donate it to the Clerk and after he has read it he can pass it on to another reader. But, in any event, we don't live in a perfect world and we never will. My experience in politics has been that when you solve one problem and you think you have everything in place and the way it ought to be, why, another problem comes up that is even greater. Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. Politics is like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it.

Now there is no doubt that the area I come from, right now is having its fair share of problems. I think that most of them are due to the federal level of government, certainly far more so than the provincial level. Our provincial government is doing good work right now in the area that I represent in those things that come under provincial jurisdiction. Sydney Steel, a problem that has bedevilled governments ever since G.I. Smith, we now have reason to believe, hope to believe, may be on the brink of a solution that is satisfactory to all concerned - labour, management and community. I think that is something to be proud of. It is certainly nothing to be ashamed of, Mr. Speaker, at least we have tried.

The Sysco Clean-Up Program, the coke ovens clean-up program, other efforts at environmental remediation that were never attempted in the past but we are doing them now. We may not be doing them perfectly. Sure, there are complications, there always are. Try excavating something that for 90 years or 100 years has been the site of continued dumping of contaminated substances. Try cleaning up a site like that and see if you don't have problems, complications that result. Of course there will be. We are trying our best to deal with those complications as they arise and keep them to a bare minimum.

I was talking on the telephone this morning with the manager of the Sydney Airport. There are problems at the airport, I agree. They are not problems created by this government, Mr. Speaker. This Premier has done his level best, he has gone to Ottawa frequently. I think that between our Premier and Al Graham that those two people are keeping Nova Scotia alive

[Page 666]

because they are the thread that connects us to the power brokers in Ottawa, not the NDP. The NDP is completely unable to do anything.

I have here in my hand a clipping from the Cape Breton Post dated Friday, May 22nd, and the heading is, MP Unable to Obtain Report. Member of Parliament Peter Mancini, who had all the answers prior to June 2nd a year ago, cannot even obtain a report, and so there's a big headline about it. He can't obtain a report, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Well, if we had effective Liberal members in Parliament right now representing Sydney and the surrounding area, you wouldn't see a headline like this. It would be, MP obtains report and produces action. That's the difference, Liberal representation and NDP representation.

Now, we're having problems with the Cape Breton Development Corporation. I have here another clipping from the Cape Breton Post of April 2, 1998, and the headline is Devco halting coal exports, and the picture there is of a young man that I was quite proud to be associated with, on the hustings recently, Mr. Stephen Drake, President of District 26 of the United Mine Workers of America. Probably one of the most outstanding labour leaders that Nova Scotia has produced in the second half of the 20th Century. (Laughter)

Mr. Speaker, the honourable members opposite claim to be the political arm of labour, yet they jeer and laugh when a labour representative steps forward seeking elected office. That was shown certainly in the case of Steve Drake who was vilified by the NDP for the crime of seeking public office, because he was from a labour background. Heavens forbid.

I want to say that I welcomed the participation of Steve Drake on the Liberal ticket in the last provincial election. I encourage people like him to step forward and to run for office on the ticket of the Liberal Party because it is my view, it is my view, if we could have a little order here, Mr. Speaker, it is my view that we need more men and women from the ranks of labour in public office. I believe that, and I would especially like to see them in this government, because I believe that in a government such as ours, we need voices such as Steve Drake's. I would certainly do what I could to encourage men and women from a trade union background to come forward and to run for public office. To seek to participate in the government on an equal basis with a Party that is capable of forming a government, not with a Party that would marginalize the political voice of labour.

I am quite proud to stand here today as a member of the Liberal Party and as a member of this government. I am very impressed by the way in which the Premier has conducted himself over the last number of weeks and months. His quiet, dignified demeanor, to me, stands in stark contrast with the power-hungry who would elbow their way to the top, never minding who they tramp on en route. The honourable Premier has done enormous good work in rebuilding the Liberal Party since he won the leadership of the Party last year.

[Page 667]

In the federal election of June 2, 1997, the Liberal vote in Nova Scotia was 124,153. Nine months later, on March 24, 1998, the Liberal vote had climbed up to 158,819, for a net gain of approximately 34,000 votes from one election to the next. That, in my view, is a benchmark to indicate the confidence the people of Nova Scotia have in our Premier and the response that he has been able to gain from the voters of this province.

In the election on March 24th, much progress was made at regaining the votes that had been lost to the NDP in the June 1997 federal election. In my own constituency of Cape Breton Nova, in the federal election of June 1997, the NDP obtained 64 per cent of the vote; the Liberal candidates, 25 percent; and the Tory, 11 per cent. In the provincial election, nine months later, the NDP was cut from 64 per cent down to only 42 per cent, while the Liberal vote with myself as candidate, jumped, more than doubled from 25 per cent to 54 per cent. That, in my view, is the type of rebuilding that Russell MacLellan as Premier is doing as Leader of the Liberal Party. There are many other constituencies in which we can show the same type of results. In the Town of Glace Bay, where the vote was 60 per cent for the NDP in June 1997, it went down to only 52 per cent in March 1998. That type of development, as it continues, will, I think, bring our Party back to where it ought to be.

[4:45 p.m.]

The NDP, recognizing that they are losing support, that they are slipping and sliding daily, have resorted to their usual tactic of bringing in organizers, paid professional organizers, from outside the province to run the election campaign here. It is a point on which they are somewhat sensitive.

I want to say this, in all the elections I have ever won and ran, I have never employed an outside organizer of any kind, never. I rely on local people. If the people of Cape Breton do not want me, I should not be here. If I cannot find within my own constituency or in the immediately surrounding area men and women capable of doing such things as sticking up signs or running headquarters or organizing polls or whatever needs to be done, I do not think I should be running.

We have only one Party in this province that is addicted to a dependency on organizers from outside Nova Scotia to run their elections for them. They cannot do it themselves. They have to bring them in from Ontario, from Saskatchewan, from B.C. and from the Yukon. In fact, I even heard complaints that there might have been some coming in from Sweden. I do not know if that was the Socialist International connection. I do not expect that the Sandinista National Liberation Front sent anybody in, except perhaps as observers. (Laughter)

Be that as it may, I have found that the New Democratic Party can be beaten at the polls. We certainly did it in my constituency. I heard a previous speaker mentioning something about the community of Gardiner Mines. The community of Gardiner Mines is divided by a little line that runs across the map. On one side it is Cape Breton Nova and on the other side

[Page 668]

it is Cape Breton Centre. The side that was on my side of that line I won quite handily. I do not know, but I think that perhaps we might be able to be winning back some of the support that we lost in June 1997 and perhaps with a little bit more effort we can win back even more.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to get into a great examination today of international socialism. I realize that that is not at the top of the agenda here in Nova Scotia. But I do want to say that there is a great deal of material available to show that that Party has not told the whole truth to the public, not just about the Socialist International but about many things.

They pretend, for example, on my side of the Canso Causeway to be the great champion of the coal miner, although they are 100 per cent against the leader of the mine workers' union running for the Legislature. They are against that but they are for the coal miner. Yet, at the same time they want to shut all the coal mines down when they get into Halifax and replace them with windmills. That is apparently their platform. We have here various publications. I am not going to read them all. They are there and everybody knows what they advocate. They advocate the closure of coal mines and the substitution of the coal mine employment with various energy related projects including the development of windmills.

This prompted one wag to pen a cartoon. I have a copy of it here. Your future in an NDP Nova Scotia. It shows a windmill. The Howard Epstein windmill No. 42, this one is. It shows unemployed coal miners, you can enter down here at the door. I do not know where they will go out at but they go in at the door of the windmill.

Mr. Speaker, back in 1966 there was a report. I have it here in my hand, called the Donald Report. The Donald Report was entitled, The Cape Breton Coal Problem. The Donald Report was produced by a Dr. J. R. Donald, who I suppose has since gone on to his reward, but at that time he was held to be an expert, a consultant to the Government of Canada. He brought in this report which was condemned at the time as being a very terrible report. It was condemned as being a terrible report because it proposed a phased close-down of all coal mines in Cape Breton over a 10 year period or a 15 year period that would begin in 1966 and would end in 1981.

It recommended against the opening of the Lingan Mine, which at the time was the new mine that was being sought, just as the Donkin Mine is being sought today. It recommended the setting up of a new Crown Corporation to be called the Cape Breton Development Corporation which would be set up not for the purposes of mining coal but rather for the development of alternative industry. This report was condemned, condemned probably by all Parties at the time, and its recommendations were never put into effect, thanks largely to the political leadership of the Honorable Alan J. MacEachen.

[Page 669]

The Liberal Government of Lester Pearson proceeded to set up the Cape Breton Development Corporation which was recommended but that was the only part of its recommendations that were ever put into effect.

Now, the reason why this document was so objectionable was that it proposed the loss of employment of the economic foundation of Cape Breton County, the coal industry. I realize that by burning coal there are pollutant substances created. That is part of the combustion process. When anything that will burn unites with oxygen, it creates carbon dioxide and various by-products, depending on what is burned. So if you light a fire in your fireplace, or if you light up any combustible product, you are going to make smoke, you are going to make fire, you are going to make pollution. But some have come along and said, well, because of that fundamental and obvious truth we must, therefore, cease immediately to burn coal anywhere in Nova Scotia. Shut them all down instantly, you know, no 15 year grace period as Dr. J.R. Donald proposed, just do it now. Why wait for spring?

Well, those who have said those things, and we have all kinds of records to demonstrate that that has been their advocacy, and done so in the capacity of spokespersons for the New Democratic Party, I find myself mystified when I try to mesh that on the one hand with this concept on the other hand that the NDP is a great champion of the Cape Breton coal miner and of the coal industry, although they do not want the head of the United Mine Workers to be running for public office. So that is what I have difficulty accepting.

The fact of the matter is, of course, Mr. Speaker, that this Party is not - when I say this Party, I mean the NDP Party - is not completely truthful with the voters and I suggest that that has a large bearing on how they got to be where they are today, because they did not tell the whole truth about themselves. They did not come out and say we are international socialists. They did not come out in Cape Breton and say, we are against the coal industry, we want to see it all shut down, those windmills put up all over the place.

Instead they put up posters with candidates' names on them and put some sort of a stick-on across it saying, send the Liberals a message. Send the Liberals a message. They did not say what message, just a message, or wake the Liberals up. Wake the Liberals up or words to that effect. I do not know the exact words. In other words, they presented themselves as sort of a political alarm clock, that if you voted NDP it would somehow ring a bell and wake the Liberals up.

Well, if you look at the NDP in any serious way, you will find there is a lot more to it than being an alarm clock. They have a very detailed platform. They have an ideology, at least I think they have one. They had one, past tense, you know. They have a very comprehensive system of belief, at least they had at one time.

[Page 670]

They do not tell these things to the people. They say we are here to wake the Liberals up. Vote for us. (Interruption)

We have to be very, very careful, Mr. Speaker, or we could turn the government of this province over to the most incompetent, inexperienced and irresponsible hands, and I feel that so long as I remain in this seat in this Legislature I intend to, I must, I have a duty to do all in my power to prevent that from happening. Therefore, I say, Mr. Speaker, we should be humbly thankful that we have Premier Russell MacLellan, and the men and women who serve in his government, who have the courage to withstand the onslaughts, who have the gumption and the belief in their cause to take the abuse and to carry on. God love them.

Now, I want to say this before I complete. I am not going to go into, I have clippings here that I am passing over. I am going to use one here, Howard Epstein against Sable gas. I will get into that some other time. Let me talk about schools and maybe about Sydney Steel before I take my place. I want to talk about the schools project first. This green volume here is the Vision Statement of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board in the developing of new schools in the area that I come from. In there there are some new schools for my area and for adjacent areas that I think we very much need. I think we very much need. This government has identified a means by which that might be possible. You can call it P3, that is a shortened form, an acronym for public-private partnering. But it identifies a mechanism, a means by which the schools that we need can be made a reality. What is so terrible about that?

Oh, the NDP say, it is terrible, it might work, it might help people. It might result in some new schools. We cannot have that. I have here a clipping from the Daily News of April 25th in which the, I do not know if she is the Education Critic, but I take it she is, the honourable member for Halifax Fairview, the poet, in which she denounces as 'fiscal lunacy' the method by which our government proposes to build these schools. I have here a newspaper column from my colleague for Cape Breton Centre in which he writes that Nova Scotia needs new schools but the Liberals' P3 school scheme is just not going to get the job done. Then he says, it is time to clean up the process and it is time to speed up the process by doing away with the Liberals' P3 plan. The NDP would look at financing school construction through the Municipal Finance Corporation. That way much needed new schools could be built quicker than they are being built now. I think this should be tabled in the interests of the enlightenment of the Assembly.

I went to the Minister of Finance and I asked him about that, I said what is this Municipal Finance Corporation because I never ran a city or town, I don't know all the intricacies of financing. I asked my good friend from Antigonish here next to me, he had been the Warden of Antigonish County and he explained that the Municipal Finance Corporation was an agency the municipalities and presumably school boards could apply to for borrowings for capital construction. Now the question came up, well do they have their own money to lend out and I was told no, I don't think so, I think they go and borrow it elsewhere, it is a

[Page 671]

brokerage agency. It is not a pot of money at all, it is a brokerage agency. Then the Minister of Finance explained a bit more to me about the Municipal Finance Corporation, he said they don't have any money of their own at all, it is a lending arm that goes out and borrows money wherever they can obtain it, guarantees these borrowings. Well, who guarantees them? Well, the Province of Nova Scotia guarantees them, that is who guarantees them. So the Municipal Finance Corporation has no money of its own, it is not a pot of money that we can dip into to get money to build schools. It is a brokerage agency that borrows money on the money markets.

Were the Government of Nova Scotia to go out through this Municipal Finance Corporation and borrow all kinds of money to build the 30-plus new schools that we so desperately need, what would the effect of that be on our provincial finances? Well, of course, it would be to greatly increase our debt load, to greatly increase our indebtedness.

Now the NDP says, you know if we get into government we are not going to deficit finance, we are not going to increase the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia. We believe in the balanced budget but at the same time we also believe, you see, in using our Municipal Finance Corporation to go out on a borrowing spree to raise enough money to build 30-odd new schools and to build them quicker than they are going to be built by this government, which already has the plans and the sites, in many cases or tentatively identified sites. I understand that ground can be broken this fall but they could do it even quicker if they got in through this Municipal Finance Corporation borrowing spree. Well, don't you believe it for a moment.

The fact of the matter is that they don't have any of their proposals well researched. They don't really know what they are doing. They are trying to fake it, trying to make it look like they know how to run a government when, in fact, they have no hands on experience running a government at all. That is where this government is fortunate in that it has men and women in its ranks who are capable of running a government because they have much experience at doing that type of thing. So, I think this government must remain in power to see that school construction program go through.

I realize that everybody wants new schools and nobody wants to pay for them. It is that way with probably all public services. I never cease to wonder at how the list of demands for public funds is almost endless and every advocacy group demands compensation or special payments or the building of a new bridge now or the building of something else immediately or perhaps even like yesterday. But at the same time they all say, and a balanced budget. Well, we will see more about a budget in two days time but for now I simply want to say that I admire that in all that storm of advocacy and seeking of this and demanding of that, how this government is able to weather the storm and its leaders have not lost their heads or their cool but have simply done the best they could for the people of Nova Scotia and presented a budget or will be presenting a budget that demonstrates their commitment to keeping our finances intact.

[Page 672]

One area in which I want to commend the government before I conclude, is in the good work that it is doing on behalf of the steelworkers in Sydney. We have two major industries in Cape Breton, the coal mines and the steel plant. Both, until recently, have been in a very sorry state. I admit it. I feel that the Liberal record is that it has kept the coal mines in business since Donald's Report in 1966; that is over 30 years now. If the Liberals are to be condemned for not having done enough, bear in mind that had the Dominion Coal Company had its way, had private enterprise had its way, the coal mines would have been all closed in 1966, because that is why J.R. Donald was appointed by the federal government to recommend a course of action. It was because the Dominion Coal Company, the owners of the coal mines in Cape Breton, had served notice of their intent to completely close up shop, to leave some 7,500 employees just destitute. There was no plan for any particular early retirement window or anything of that type. It was just going to close down and walk away.

[5:00 p.m.]

Similarly, in 1967, Hawker-Siddeley of Canada, the company that owned the Sydney steel plant, served notice that it intended to close down the Sydney steel plant on December 31st, I believe, of the year 1967, and gave three months notice of intent to that effect on October 13, 1967.

This government, when it was formed in July of last year, inherited very tremendous, very great problems. With courage and with cool heads, it has proceeded to attract to the bargaining table an international steel producer of some note, Grupo Acerero del Norte.


MR. MACEWAN: Ole, all right, fine. I hear the honourable member over there is interested in Spanish. I have here in my hands, Mr. Speaker, a catalogue for the Sydney Steel Corporation in three languages, English, French and Spanish, demonstrating the commitment of the company to international markets. This book might be attractive to my friends across the way because it even has a full colour picture there of Mr. Terry Crawley, who ran against me on the NDP ticket once or twice back, and there he is at work at his computer at the Sydney steel plant producing steel rails, doing good work rather than, perhaps, NDP work.

In any event, I think we should perhaps have a look at this catalogue and at the efforts that are being made right now to promote Sydney Steel products by this government. I think those are efforts worthy of support. Is there a Page here who would like to take this fine catalogue to the Table so that the honourable members who want to read in the Spanish language can avail themselves of its contents?

The government, at the same time as it has made these efforts to find a new operator for the company, has also been, in my view, instrumental in obtaining further orders for steel products from Sydney Steel that are keeping steelworkers working, are keeping the plant in

[Page 673]

operation, producing steel products and I think that those efforts should be noted and saluted. At the same time, the government has encouraged and, through our friend, Senator Al Graham, in Ottawa, has obtained funding to undertake a very large scale clean-up project of the site of the Sydney Steel Plant in Sydney.

Now the Sydney Steel Plant was never anything very beautiful. I worked there a number of years ago and I can tell you, the general atmosphere at the place was depressing. Certainly, it might not be as dirty or as dangerous as some other kinds of work, but it wasn't a very pleasant place to go to work. Since that time, of course, these old buildings, many of them derelicts and no longer used for anything at all, have been rusting away. Roofs have holes put in them. There has been all kinds of wear and tear on abandoned buildings. It doesn't make for a very pretty picture. This government, Mr. Speaker, together with the federal Government of Canada, has undertaken a large-scale clean-up and site remediation program at Sydney Steel that has resulted in three major areas at the steel plant being tremendously improved in appearance, and all kinds of derelict facilities torn down and the scrap steel in them recycled back into the electric arc reduction furnace, so as to make more new steel.

If you drive over the Victoria Road Overpass, which connects Sydney proper to Whitney Pier, and look to the right and to the left, these days you will see a site that one year ago you could never have imagined possible, as all the unsightly derelict buildings on one side have been removed and are replaced by a large, clean area that is available for use for parking or for yard purposes. While on the other side, the coke ovens site, 17 prominent eyesores have suddenly disappeared and been eliminated and work is ongoing to make that site also look more presentable. I realize that the full remediation of the coke ovens site is a project that will take many years and many millions of dollars before it will ever, if it ever is, restored to proper conditions.

These are some of the things this government has done, good things, worthy things. I know there are some who would find fault no matter what happened. There are two basic mindsets with which one can approach life and I suppose in politics it might depend on which side of the House one sits on, whether it be on the government side or on the Opposition side. I would predict that the transformation of some of the doom and gloom sayers that we have heard from the opposite side would be almost immediate, were they to be on this side of the House. Suddenly those things that they have been condemning and chastising they would suddenly make a new discovery of having much good. I could see that transformation in the works, were that metamorphosis to take place.

I can say there are two ways you can approach matters, you can either make the best of them or you can make the worst of them. I think this government has tried to make the best of things. I think this government has taken a difficult situation and approached it with courage. I think this government has taken a very awkward situation politically and carried

[Page 674]

on notwithstanding. I think they should be commended for that, I think they should be given a good round of applause. (Applause)

I know there are other honourable members who want to get into this debate and I don't want to monopolize the discussion. I must say it is a good Speech from the Throne, Mr. Speaker. It is obviously not an all-encompassing work that lists every last improvement that ought to be undertaken but it indicates a general direction, it indicates a direction of hope, not of gloom. I think we should want to march forward into the future with some degree of hope and confidence that in this government, by their actions - not their words - they have demonstrated themselves capable of undertaking those responsibilities. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I would call on all honourable members to join me in voting for this Speech from the Throne because it is most worthy of approbation by the House. I thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by commending the previous speaker on his Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I am sure there members here who don't entirely agree with the content but, nonetheless, I would like to congratulate the honourable member. In fact, he is the dean in the Legislature, so for that I certainly extend bouquets his way.

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to congratulate you on winning in the riding of Hants West. You have represented that riding for a number of years and again you have been returned. Also, I think just as important, you are the first elected Speaker to the Chair, that very distinguished position. I must say that I believe your top hat adds a lot of character to this place. I would also like to congratulate another gentleman who wears a top hat, the permanent, if you will, Sergeant-at-Arms, Mr. Doug Giles. I am really pleased that Doug has been appointed. He will certainly represent all members in the House, as he has in the past.

I would also like to commend the Deputy Clerk who now is the official Deputy Clerk. He is no longer Acting Deputy Clerk. As one of my colleagues mentioned earlier, we always thought he was the official Deputy Clerk and, of course, greetings and congratulations to the Clerk, Mr. Rod MacArthur.

Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Speaker was also elected and I would like to congratulate the member for Dartmouth South, Donald Chard, on his election as Deputy Speaker. That election really was history in this making. This being the oldest democratic Assembly in North America, I think now we can truly say that we have certainly reached a milestone. It took a while to do it, but nonetheless the milestone was reached, and I think all members can be proud of what we did in here when we came into the Assembly and elected the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.

[Page 675]

As I indicated, it is with pride and pleasure and, indeed, honour that I rise in my place today and reply to the Throne Speech. I made my foray, if you will, into public office back in October 1991 when I ran for District 12 Halifax County Councillor. There were four candidates for that position, and when the dust settled and the ballots were counted, I had won by a scant 66 votes. So, it was nip and tuck. I have to commend my family: my wife, Norma; my daughter, Julie; and son, Trevor; and of course, our moms and dad; my late father. They gave me lots of support, as did other relatives and friends. I shall never forget that very first election into public office and I want to say it was truly a grass-roots election and a down-home type campaign done right off the kitchen table.

In the fall of 1993, again with the assistance of my family and friends, and a few politicians, we quickly assembled a team with me as candidate for the nomination in the beautiful constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. Mr. Speaker, I remember when you; the interim Leader of the day, Terry Donahoe; our Leader, John Hamm; and some more of the Tory caucus came to that nomination convention in Stewiacke. We had well over 400 people. This nomination convention was held back in October 1993 and that was barely four or five months after the Savage swarm had come to office in May 1993. Again, we were successful in getting the nomination, and when the election was held in May 1993, in my constituency, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, the electorate, the constituents rejected the Savage swarm and they said no to the red tide. They elected the honourable Ken Streatch to office.

In the by-election of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, they again made history. They were the only provincial constituency in Nova Scotia in 1993 that said no to the Savage swarm twice. Twice they rejected the Savage swarm. They felt they were very fortunate, and I truly believe that Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley really is the heartland of Conservatism in Nova Scotia. They said no to Liberalism. Although I only won by 395 votes in 1993, it clearly was a consequence of the people. It is the people's constituency, it is not my constituency, it is not the Liberals' constituency, it is not the NDP's constituency, it is not the Conservatives' constituency. It is the people's constituency. (Interruptions) And this is the people's House.

The people in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley appreciated the hard work of the previous government, they appreciated the hard work of the previous government. In fact, my predecessors, the late Dr. Colin Stewart and Mr. Ken Streatch, as I indicated, the Progressive Conservatives provided a compassionate and caring government to Nova Scotia.

I readily submit, my success in provincial politics was the direct result of people power. The most recent election, my third election so to speak, was the consequence of a lot of hard work and, again, people power. However, this time, the constituents in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley overwhelmingly said no. They said no to the Grits and for that matter, they said no to the NDP. The majority from Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, the beautiful

[Page 676]

constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley were behind me in every poll. For that I am forever beholden.

[5:15 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: And humble.

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, and deeply humble, Mr. Speaker.

I would like at this time to welcome and congratulate each and every member who had a successful election campaign, all members in this House. I know that it sure would not have been possible without a lot of hard work and it probably did take a lot of blood, sweat and tears. As the old song goes, there was probably a lot of compromising on the road to everybody's horizon in this case. I especially would like to congratulate my Leader and colleagues. The Progressive Conservative Party is a fine and proud Party. We are very fortunate and gifted to have new members in our caucus. From Truro-Bible Hill we have Jamie Muir. From Pictou East, Jim DeWolfe; Cumberland South, Murray Scott; Lunenburg, we have Mike Baker; Chester-St. Margaret's, Dr. Hinrich Bitter-Suermann. We cannot forget Gordon Balser back there from Digby-Annapolis and we also have the return of Neil LeBlanc. We were very fortunate. I know in all cases it took a lot of hard work, a lot of commitment and a great deal of dedication.

Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is made up of some 63 communities. We only have one town in the beautiful constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and that is the Town of Stewiacke. Stewiacke just happens to be halfway between the North Pole and the equator. It is home to Mastodon Ridge which, without question, is one of the major tourist attractions in the province.

The residents of Stewiacke are very pleased with their town. They are very happy with their town. It is growing very fast. Town council works extremely hard. Mayor Dick Steeves happened to be the Liberal candidate in the recent provincial election. Mayor Steeves and I have a very good working relationship, as I do with all council members in the Town of Stewiacke. Just last Wednesday the Nova Forest Alliance opened a new office in the Town of Stewiacke and they are going to create a model forest up through the Musquodoboit and Stewiacke Valleys. That is a major accomplishment for the Town of Stewiacke and for the Musquodoboit and Stewiacke Valleys and points in between.

Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is very reliant on resource based industries. Agriculture, farming and mining. In Colchester County there are 538 farms. The farmer and his family in Colchester County put over $100 million into the Nova Scotia economy on an annual basis. It costs the farmers and their families in Colchester County nearly $40 million to keep their farms operational. Unfortunately and for the last five years the agricultural community has been under siege by both the provincial and federal governments. At the very

[Page 677]

least this government must reinstate the grant in lieu of farm taxes that used to go to the municipalities. I implore someone, be it the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, perhaps the Premier, perhaps the Minister of Agriculture, whoever - I implore whoever, whatever it takes, to immediately make a statement declaring that the government recognizes and appreciates the importance of farming and immediately reinstate their investment, the people's investment, in the farm sector in Nova Scotia.

I would also like to comment that the grant, the investment, was taken away in a sneaky and underhanded manner. As I indicated, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is very dependent on our resource-based industries. In fact, relative to forestry and the forestry sector, in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley there are some eight large sawmills operating. These sawmills and related activities, such as harvesting and trucking, literally employ hundreds of my constituents. Sawmills, such as Laurie Ledwidge in Enfield, Laurie Isenor & Son in Dutch Settlement operated by brothers, Garth and Leroy Isenor, Taylor Lumber in the beautiful Middle Musquodoboit community, Blakie Lumber in Upper Stewiacke, Julimar Lumber in Brookfield, Brookfield Lumber, Irving's Sproule mill in Greenfield. These industries, these employers employ hundreds and hundreds of constituents, Mr. Speaker, and, of course, the constituents are Nova Scotians.

Through job opportunities, economic benefits and related spin-offs, the forest industry pumps millions and millions of dollars into the Nova Scotia economy. In fact, last year the Nova Scotia forestry sector provided this province with $1.5 million, Mr. Speaker, and that is no small potatoes. So unacceptably for over the past five years this Liberal Government has all but snubbed its nose at this valuable benefaction. It is unacceptable. In Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley the resource-based industries, the employers contribute thousands and thousands, yes, millions of tax dollars to the Public Accounts of this province. What has this government done to keep pace with the industrial development and manufacturing sector that has taken place in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

Well, I will tell you what this government had done, Mr. Speaker. I will tell you exactly what this government has done in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. For the last six construction years on our secondary roads - and we have the largest number of kilometres of any constituency in this province - this government only during the last election called one tender, for not quite seven kilometres. One tender was called on our secondary road and isn't it ironic that it was done during an election. It was done during an election. After the valuable contribution that the employers and the employees have made and that government comes in with a Speech from the Throne that does not even mention our resource-based industries. That government over there, the government that is looking for support and a government that is looking for cooperation, in the constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, called one tender in six years and is looking for support. Shame on you. Shame on that government over there. Shame on that charade over there that calls itself a government. It is absolutely unacceptable. (Interruptions)

[Page 678]

Well, Mr. Speaker, it just does not cut it with the constituents in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. I could promise, like the Minister of Community Services did during the election campaign, I could promise a new school without having any substance to back it up. I could do that to get elected. Hey, we could do that but we chose to put a policy forward called Putting People First, a document that talked about and costed everything. We did not say, oh, all we are going to do is just throw $80 million in health care, that is our platform. That is your answer. Well, I can tell you about health care and the people in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley can tell you about health care.

I have a document here, Mr. Speaker, that took a lot of work to put together, a lot of stakeholders, a lot of community individuals, a lot of organizations worked very hard, community group in Mooseland, Port Dufferin, Tangier, Sheet Harbour, Moser River, Ecum Secum, Lake Echo, Musquodoboit Valley Focus Group, Seniors' Day Club, family caregivers, the clergy, mutual aid firefighters, first responders, high school teachers, palliative care associations in Sheet Harbour, Musquodoboit Valley and Musquodoboit Harbour, the RCMP, a lot of people, including health service providers, worked hard to put this document together and the Eastern Shore-Musquodoboit Valley Community Health Board submitted the first such plan to any regional board. In this case, it happened to be the Central Regional Health Board. They submitted the first plan in the province.

One of the recommendations, and there are many, many recommendations in this document, but very, very few, if any, have been incorporated and enacted. That is a shame. That is the government. That is the government over there that is looking for support. They treated us like poor second-class citizens over the last five or six years and that is a shame. One of many recommendations in this document relative to emergency services recommends the placement of an ambulance at the Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital. I already talked about our heavy growing industrial base. Businesses like MacTara Lumber, Atlantic Explosives, Mosher's Limestone, Archibald Drilling and Blasting, Tusket Mining and then you have the farm community, all the trucks, the heavy volume of commercial vehicles. We don't even have an ambulance at our hospital or in our community and the Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital has a catchment of somewhere around 5,000 people. The recommendation is here and it is backed up with supporting data.

Do you know what the part-time Minister of Health, part-time Minister of Justice said today? He said, the hospital doesn't want an ambulance. We know the hospital doesn't want an ambulance or doesn't need an ambulance. We want one stationed in our community. It is time, Mr. Minister, to get serious. You are looking for support. We are asking for something that is very logical, very rational, backed up with supporting data. For example, the majority of people in the Musquodoboit Valley are over 45 minutes away from a 24 hour emergency department. People living at the outer limits of the community are some two hours away, Mr. Speaker. There is all kinds of rationale as to why we need an ambulance stationed at the Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital.

[Page 679]

Last year, somewhere it indicated there were nearly 200 visits made to the Musquodoboit Valley by ambulances. People are waiting. This is a life and death matter. That part-time minister has the audacity to stand in this House and say, you are fearmongering. You are frightening people, it is a myth, there is nothing wrong out there. I submit to you, Mr. part-time Minister, that we need an ambulance in the Musquodoboit Valley and we need it stationed at the Musquodoboit Valley hospital, Mr. Speaker. We certainly do.

Rates of death and disability in rural areas are higher than those from similar degrees of illness and injury experienced by people in urban areas. That comes from the Emergency Health Services Report dated April 1994. Well, Mr. Speaker, the MLA for Bedford-Fall River says I am not very nice. Well, that minister is not very nice to the people in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. It reciprocates, baby. It goes back and forth.

MR. SPEAKER: I would direct the honourable member to direct his comments through the Speaker.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, this little document, the Throne Speech Highlights, Health Care. They represented health care. This is just about platitudes.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I believe I did hear the honourable member use a somewhat derogatory term there. Perhaps he would like to withdraw it.

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, Mr. Speaker. No question, that perhaps was unparliamentary and I will withdraw the statement.

Mr. Speaker, we will get back to fact. We will get back to some of the fact as to how this government has discriminated. In fact, I am still thinking about going to the Human Rights Commission. In fact, I have made a call to Mr. MacKay relative to that government. They rained holy terror on Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

The forestry in Nova Scotia. Everybody knows what is going on in the forestry in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker. One of the acts of the now Minister of Finance was to close down, put the padlocks on the forestry complex in Middle Musquodoboit, beside Musquodoboit Rural High School, a great central location for a nursery. The greenhouses are gone and we are going to convert the forest complex, so I hear, into an elementary school. We need both desperately in this province.

The silviculture program. This year, I think this government has only allocated about $6 million to go into the forestry silviculture program, and they are going to take $4 million of that $6 million regarding the spraying of the BTK agent to combat the whitemarked tussock moth. So what is going to be left for silviculture programs on the private lands, I understand there will be none taking place on the Crown lands, that is absolutely irresponsible, Mr. Speaker. So don't we have just cause, as a Party and as Parties, to question

[Page 680]

this government when they come in with a skimpy little Throne Speech like this. It doesn't even talk about our resource-based industries, it doesn't reference the highways in this province, no reference, but they are telling me and my caucus that all is well and good in Nova Scotia, that you have no reason to be concerned.

[5:30 p.m.]

Well, Mr. Speaker, I have lots of reasons to be concerned because for over five years I have pressed that government on issues that are important to my constituents, important education concerns, very important health concerns, important concerns relative to transportation. Now that is unacceptable.

I should move along to some different areas here, Mr. Speaker, in order to cover some other topics. There were two or three bills introduced during this session, I am not sure what is going to happen to these bills but they were Acts to Amend the Halifax Regional Municipality Act.

MR. SPEAKER: I will let you go for the moment but I warn the honourable member that we cannot debate bills that are presently on the floor.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, I just might say then that during the last session, on December 1, 1997, an honourable member brought forward legislation that fell off the order table, so to speak. I had great concerns with that legislation. One of the provisions in that legislation would have seen the poor rural taxpayer possibly compromised, as far as the tax rate goes. A clause was put forward in legislation that would, if incorporated and enacted into legislation, if the amendment lived it would repeal existing legislation that provides for some protection for the rural taxpayer. We have a big concern about that. I would hate to see any legislation like that live in a future day.

Last year, Mr. Speaker, on December 1, 1997, there was also some other legislation that because of different matters, as you well know, regarding the election and so on, those bills didn't make it to the Nova Scotia Legislature, other than their introduction. So if there is similar legislation to that, I certainly hope it meets the same fate.

Now out in the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley we, in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, the farm community, there is concern about any measures that a provincial or federal government would or could bring forward that would somehow further restrict how they store, how they transport, how they apply insecticides, pesticides, herbicides and things of that nature, chemical fertilizers and other such products.

I think regulation and control in urban areas is very important because I think right now there really are no regulations or the regulations are pretty lax. So we are hoping that no matter what happens in the Halifax Regional Municipality, that consideration will be given to

[Page 681]

the farm community, the forestry sector. I think that is very important that we do make that point, Mr. Speaker.

Now a little earlier I was talking about how important ambulance enhancement was in the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley. I found a press release that just happened to be under some papers that I have on my desk. I really think it is important that I read this into the record, Mr. Speaker. I don't think you will have any objections. It is dated June (Interruptions) Oh, absolutely, I would be delighted to table this press release. June 1, 1998, ambulance enhancement urged, datelined Middle Musquodoboit. Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MLA, Brooke Taylor on behalf of the constituents of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley charges that the Minister of Health, Dr. Jim Smith and the Central Regional Health Board are ignoring provincial policies that guarantee people access to emergency services within a minimum length of time, regardless of where they live.

The MLA says the Eastern Shore Musquodoboit Community Health Board presented its comprehensive health plan to the province over one year ago. A key recommendation was to place an ambulance at the Musquodoboit Memorial Hospital. That recommendation has been disregarded. According to the April 1994 Emergency Health Services Nova Scotia Report, rates of death and disability in rural areas are higher than those for similar degrees of illness and injury experienced by people in urban areas.

There were over 200 ambulance visits made to the Musquodoboit Valley during the previous twelve months. The Musquodoboit Valley is enjoying industrial and manufacturing sector growth and the potential for accidents is increasing. For the majority the nearest hospital with 24 hour emergency care is over 45 minutes away. I am calling on the Minister of Health to immediately exercise his vested responsibility and authorize the placement of an ambulance at the Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital, concluded Taylor.

Again, I appeal to the Minister of Health, the part-time Minister of Health, the part-time Minister of Justice, (Interruption) well, health care and justice are in chaos in this province. We need a full-time representative on the government side of the House, if they are really serious about those issues. They cannot continue to disregard the concerns that people have about health care. That minister, he cannot wear two hats. Some people, I understand, will have some additional roles besides their major portfolio. But I think all members of the House have to admit that Justice and Health are pretty important portfolios. The Premier should put somebody in charge over there who can, in my opinion, do the job and do it adequately. Right now there are very major concerns in those areas.

The farming community out in the Clifton, Old Barns area, the Lower Truro area is very important to the Nova Scotia economy. Something you will find out in the Lower Truro area is a farm with a herd of Guernsey milking cows. There are not all that many around and I would encourage all members, if they have an opportunity and are really interested in seeing what makes Nova Scotia tick, to perhaps go around and visit some of the agriculture sector

[Page 682]

outlets in Nova Scotia. Of course, nowhere are they more prominent than in the beautiful constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to attend a rally at the Chignecto-Central School Board offices down on Lawrence Street in Truro. A number of my constituents and a number of my colleague's constituents, MLA Jamie Muir, are very concerned about an equity fund that has been established by that super board, the Chignecto-Central School Board. In Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, or at least in the Colchester portion of the riding, we have some 10 schools and a number of my constituents also go to Cobequid Education Centre, they go to Hants East Rural High School and, of course, they also go to Onslow Junior High School.

The way this equity fund has been set up, it more or less penalizes and punishes students and taxpayers from the areas that are served by those schools. In fact, students and taxpayers, parents, teachers from Truro-Bible Hill, Colchester North and a good portion of Hants East are very concerned about that. I know the honourable member for Hants East also attended that rally yesterday and I am sure he was concerned too and is concerned. He had an opportunity, as did all the MLAs who were present, to speak on behalf of our constituents.

Unfortunately the Chignecto school board does not seem to be of the opinion that the equity fund should be set up to serve all districts, all counties, within the Chignecto-Central School Board system. The bone of contention or the bane of concern appears to be this education foundation that has been established. The education foundation, as far as I am concerned - no question it is a legal entity, it was permitted, I believe, by the former Education Minister, John MacEachern. The old Colchester-East Hants Board was given permission to set that fund up, and I am sure it is done appropriately - but I do believe if we do not come to some resolution up there we are going to need the co-operation of the present Education Minister to help us resolve what really is a difficult situation.

The problem is that the folks in Colchester and East Hants are paying the same rate to this education fund, I think in total it amounts to - with the assistance of Cumberland and Pictou County residents - $375,000. I further understand and acknowledge that that money is going to be collected for eight years in fact. Big problem, big concern. We want to work with the elected representatives for Cumberland and Pictou and, of course, from Colchester and East Hants to bring that to a successful conclusion. I do not know what that resolve might be, but we are going to have to work together on that.

We will have an opportunity to judge this government over the next few weeks. This MLA is going to be looking at how this government treats people in the constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. The track record of the Savage-MacLellan Government has been very poor. Without any consultation, this government went against the people's will and established casinos, established the toll road, and they neglected areas that really needed their public infrastructure upgraded.

[Page 683]

The Halifax International Airport, for example, sits in my constituency. Over 2 million people use that airport on an annual basis, at least they did last year; over 2 million people. This government's federal cousins in Ottawa have decided they are going to privatize that airport but, guess what, they are going to keep control of the land. They are going to keep the deed, they are going to keep the land, but they are not going to give any more money. They are not going to help upgrade. That Halifax International Airport is an economic engine that is just idling away up there. It is just idling when it could be pulled to full throttle with a little investment.

I indicated earlier, when the member for Cape Breton Nova was making his speech, that while we congratulated him on the fact he did reply to the Throne Speech, we certainly did not agree with what he was saying. Now he is blaming all of Nova Scotia's woes on the fact that there are no Liberal Members of Parliament in Ottawa. Well, guess why there are no Liberal members of Parliament in Ottawa. Because, for five years, they were just the silent choir. The choir that never sang and now this government, the MacLellan Government, is talking about, not Allan MacEachen, what's his name?


MR. TAYLOR: Al Graham, yes. Oh, MacEachen, is he still in the Senate? No.

AN HON. MEMBER: He has an office.

MR. TAYLOR: Oh, he has an office up in Ottawa. Okay.

Anyway, I guess this Honourable Al Graham has done more in the last couple of months than all those MPs from Cape Breton did in whatever their mandate - three or four years - was. That should tell the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova how effective and efficient those Members of Parliament from Cape Breton were. The consequence is that there are none there today. There are none there representing you today. It is small wonder that those MPs did not get re-elected; in fact, one has to wonder why the Premier didn't reoffer in that federal election. Anybody got any ideas why the Premier didn't reoffer? It's hard to say. But Nova Scotia needs support from that government's federal cousins in Ottawa, the Chretien Liberals.

[5:45 p.m.]

Look at the Port of Halifax. Legislation was rammed through, there were hearings held, Opposition members, the Leader of this Party went up and made a presentation on behalf of Nova Scotia and unfortunately, unacceptably rather, the Liberals didn't send a representative to make a presentation to the committee. That's a shame, that is very unfortunate. So we have a port, the Halifax Port, the Port of Halifax is being neglected. Our Halifax International Airport is being neglected and it is going to be extremely difficult for that government and its

[Page 684]

so-called balanced budget to provide any type of infrastructure funding to those big facilities, those important economic facilities.

I received a few phone calls from constituents who are having difficulty getting some roads improved in Nova Scotia. The public infrastructure, and I don't think that Hants West is any different than Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. I know that it's not unique to Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. The government is in a difficult position, I wouldn't say otherwise. But the fact is, our secondary roads are going to pot; potholes, that is. They are going to pot, but yet, each year, the federal government, that government's federal cousins in Ottawa siphon off about $130 million from the Nova Scotia motorists through the excise gas tax; $130 million, and they don't even return a pittance. They don't give us anything.

I remember the former minister, the former provincial Minister of Transportation and Public Works going to Ottawa, cap in hand, he was going up to Ottawa and he was going to come back with some federal excise tax dollars to invest in the public highway infrastructure in this province. And, guess what? He came back empty-handed. (Interruption) The former Minister of Transportation and Public Works, well, it was the honourable member from Lunenburg West.

So now, I encourage, and I hope that the new honourable member, and I wish the new honourable member for Shelburne, the new Minister of Transportation, I wish him all the best and congratulate him in his new portfolio. But, he's got to somehow get the ear of his federal cousin in Ottawa. Maybe put him in a little hammerlock. I don't know, whatever it takes. We've got to get (Interruption) what they're doing in Ottawa with all the surpluses they have up there, and we haven't even got into the EI surplus yet, but what they're doing up there, is darned well criminal. What they're doing, they're treating us, down here, like second-class citizens and we supposedly have a Liberal government. What happened?

Let's start looking at, you can even look at the northern shrimp quota. What did Nova Scotia get and what did Newfoundland get? So, you see, we are being treated very poorly by Ottawa. Very poorly, terrible, they way they're treating Nova Scotia.

The new Minister of Transportation and Public Works, I hope when he has an opportunity, he will go to Ottawa, and he will let them know up there, and he'll take an entourage, make a beautiful, comprehensive presentation. He will have such a compelling presentation that the money will just flow and he will be able to bring us back a truckload. That's wishful thinking, but we do wish the honourable member and minister the best in his endeavours with Ottawa. The way they are treating us is terrible. It is just unacceptable what they are doing to us down here in Nova Scotia.

[Page 685]

Now, if we had a government that stood up to their federal cousins in Ottawa, I think you would find, I think you would quickly discern that things will change in Nova Scotia. But, when you hear somebody stand up and reply to the Throne Speech and blame all their woes on the federal MPs, the present federal MPs, that is irresponsible. It must have been a dream that the honourable member had last night, that brought him to those types of resolutions and conclusions.

That type of rhetoric; what has to happen is that member should start writing letters, and he should get on the phone and encourage all members of that minority government to work hard and get the ear of the Chretien Liberals and say, look, I know when we had federal members of Parliament up there like Dingwall, MacLellan and so on and so forth, we got virtually nothing. Well, we are getting the same thing today. What is wrong? What the heck is happening? It is just terrible. It has been a terrible let-down for Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, especially with our international airport. When you see Ottawa and Winnipeg international airports receive infrastructure, federal dollars, and Nova Scotia gets completely shut-out, it is a shame. It is shameful what is going on.

Look at the ports. We are going to soon enter the post-Panamax era, Mr. Speaker. We have a beautiful opportunity here. We don't have to dredge our harbour, but we need help with infrastructure right here in the city. This is the capital of our province and we are being treated like second class poor cousins down here. It is absolutely unacceptable.

Mr. Speaker, by way of closing, I would like to say that our young people in Nova Scotia have also been treated very poorly by this government. I did have a couple of concerns here that I probably should read into the record. Our Leader, on April 1, 1998, met with the Premier and our leader talked about the priorities of Nova Scotians. Our Leader spoke to him at length about the problems in our health care system. Our Leader talked about the need to address the needs of young Nova Scotians who are falling through the cracks. They are falling through the cracks of our education system. We believe that this province and its people have a right to the benefits from the Sable Gas projects, but our leader talked to the Premier about a whole host of important issues, a whole host of priorities that clearly put people first and, guess what? That was on April 1st. Some 60 days or two months later, the Premier showed how cooperative he was and replied at the 11th hour. Now is that any type of cooperation?

So we are really looking to see what this government will do for Nova Scotia. To see if it will do some things that are in the best interests of the people in this province. So far, I have been extremely disappointed. The government has failed to present a clear plan on how natural gas distribution will be maximized and made available to communities throughout Nova Scotia. This government has failed, Mr. Speaker. It has failed municipalities. It has failed towns. It has failed development cooperations that are very interested in making application for distribution. This government and the Utility Review Board came up with a fee of some $50,000, a non-refundable fee. That is unreasonable. It is unacceptable. That will break the backs of small municipal units like Stewiacke, absolutely. The real value of natural

[Page 686]

gas comes from making it available to Nova Scotia consumers. Natural gas is a clean, cheap energy source, is an inducement to investment and new jobs. The government has clearly failed to recognize and plan for real opportunities that are presented by Sable gas.

Mr. Speaker, education, some schools in Nova Scotia are still being built by conventional funding and some are being built by this new concept, P3 financing. We have to know, clearly, the terms and conditions relative to the P3 concept. This has to be clearly spelled out. I do appreciate that the Minister of Education met with my colleague today, Education Critic Ernest Fage, and they did have some discussion. But, and I say this with all appreciation, when my honourable colleague came back from the meeting he said, you know the meeting raised more questions than answers. So what are you going to get from this Minister of Education? He promises a lot; children first, he talks a lot about it but the proof is in the pudding. So it doesn't matter whether it is transportation issues, health care issues, education, justice, this government does a lot of talking but when are they going to walk the walk? Does anybody in Nova Scotia know when they are going to walk the walk?

We have a motion before us, we have a Throne Speech that is absolutely, well it is useless, it is substanceless. We have a non-confidence motion and here we are on the horns of a dilemma in some respects, and again I say with all appreciation, we are kind of between the devil and the witch. Mr. Speaker, that is just an old adage that has been around for quite some time. The fact is that some people will suggest, well the devil you know is better than the witch you don't know. We have to see better government. The ultimate goal is to receive better government in Nova Scotia. When are we going to see better government for Nova Scotia?

It can't happen without cooperation and it can't happen right now without cooperation from the Liberals. We have to have some cooperation from the Liberals. Talk is cheap. Talk the talk, fine, but when is this government going to start walking the walk?

As I said, our Leader met with the Premier on April 1st but some two months later, we wonder why, on the eve of coming into the Legislature here this session, all of a sudden we received a fax, it is well known. Well, what happened on the way to the Legislature? So we are not going to accept, the Tories are not going to, this member is not going to accept the government's business as usual approach. We will not accept that things are still the same and nothing has changed. All you have to do is look around, Mr. Speaker.

Cooperation means giving and taking, Mr. Speaker, it means give and take. So this government has to come to its senses quickly. (Interruptions) No, that government is not failing me, it has failed, for five years it has failed the people of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. Twice in 1993 they said no to Liberalism, twice in 1993 they said no to the Savage-MacLellan Government. In the election just passed, on March 24, 1998, in every single poll they said no to Liberalism. In fact, the Liberal candidate came last. I think . . .

[Page 687]

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if the honourable member would move adjournment of the debate. He has approximately 10 minutes remaining.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would move adjournment of the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn the debate.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will sit from the hours of 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and following the daily routine and Question Period, it will be Opposition Day and I would ask the Opposition - it is the Third Party tomorrow - and I would ask the current House Leader and everyone else to get up and tell us what is in store for us tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Acting House Leader.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will be dealing with Bill No. 6 and Resolution No. 231.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I move that we now adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

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

The motion is carried.

I neglected, unfortunately, to remind members that the meeting with Mr. Donahoe tomorrow, for those who wish to attend, cannot be held in the Red Room because it is being set up for the estimates and instead we will be holding that meeting in the Uniacke Room at 1:00 p.m. tomorrow. Thank you.

Honourable members, we have reached the moment of interruption.

[Page 688]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.



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

"Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works immediately advise this Legislature as to the priority the section of highway between Digby and Weymouth has in becoming connected to Nova Scotia's 100 series highway system.".

[6:00 p.m.]

To quote an editorial from the Digby Courier, dated November 27th, 1996, that is two years ago, the editor indicates, "It is well past time the province reviewed the status of Hwy. 101.". In that same editorial a spokesman for the Department of Highways is quoted as saying, "Projects must be done on a priority basis after evaluating safety, traffic capacity, level of service, social and economic factors.". In that quote he speaks of priority. Let us look at what that particular spokesman for the Department of Transportation indicates. First of all, Highway No. 101 is over 30 years old. It is two lanes of highway, has a number of blind crests, no passing lanes and passing lanes and varying speed limits, as low as 50 kilometres per hour in school zones to as much as 100 kilometres per hour in less developed areas. There are curves. There are blind alleys and there are varying traffic speeds as I have indicated. In fact, the traffic has increased in excess of 75 per cent between 1994 and 1996 and there is every indication that traffic is increasing as we speak.

Parents and children who live along that road live in daily fear as they travel from their community homes to stores and businesses. There have been a number of fatalities as a direct result of the increasing traffic. The highway is the main arterial route between Yarmouth and the Annapolis Valley. Every car that travels that route must pass through the Barton-Brighton area on the way from Weymouth to Digby. The government talks about commitment to the revitalization of rural Nova Scotia. On one hand they say we must put in place an infrastructure that will allow for the development of our rural communities. On the other hand, nothing is done to address the concerns of rural constituents who have poor road structures. The very economic future of Digby depends on developing a modern highway system that will support the transportation of goods, services, products and people. In the time when economic decline is occurring in rural Nova Scotia, we are turning more and more to tourism as a means to supplement our income. Nova Scotia's tourism industry is growing

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at an exponential rate. Without an adequate highway system, it is very difficult to ensure that the tourists will be drawn to our province and will remain here. We must have an adequate highway system.

In fact, the movement from the Catamaran Ferry in Yarmouth has meant that there will be increased heavy truck traffic and increased tourist traffic along this route. It is the only section of this highway that is non-limited access. What that means is that there are literally hundreds of driveways - 15 kilometres of highway which include 619 residential homes, five churches, three businesses, and an elementary school. This section of highway runs, as I mentioned earlier, through a number of small communities with a great deal of stop-and-go traffic. That is fine for the people who live in the area but since it is a main arterial route, a great deal of traffic that travels that route is not familiar with the communities and the structure of those communities and the fact that there are often people pulling out of driveways, blind crests, and so on.

I mentioned earlier about an elementary school with children aged five to 13. What that means is every day of the school year, from September to June, twice a day, 100 children get on and off the school buses, children that many times drivers are not aware of, children who get off the bus at night, happy and excited to get home and tell their parents about what has been going on, children who get up in the morning eager and anxious to get out by the side of the road to wait with their friends for the buses. It is again, very fortunate, that there has never been a fatality related to school bus transportation on this section of highway. I think it is a testament to the quality of the bus drivers and the safety programs that are in place in the schools, and not to the fact that the highway is adequate.

I would also like to speak about the fact that our elected officials are well aware of the need for this highway to be upgraded. My predecessor, Mr. Joe Casey, introduced a resolution in this House that spoke specifically about the need to complete this section of highway. It is indeed unfortunate - or perhaps fortunate from my point of view - that he had to call upon the Opposition Parties to have support for that resolution, his own Liberal colleagues said nay. It is an issue with my federal counterpart, the honourable member for West Nova, who has raised it with the federal Minister of Transportation and has tried at every level to ensure that this section of highway is completed before any more risk of life and limb.

As I mentioned earlier, because of the upgrades of the various industries in our area, there is increased truck traffic. The Lewis Sawmill has expanded and with that expansion has come an increase in the amount of logging trucks and lumber-related trucks that travel on this route. In addition to that, since it is the only arterial route from Yarmouth to the Valley, there are trucks that transport hazardous waste. Think of the impact in a residential area, should one of those trucks have an accident. Because it is a rural community, it means that their water source for houses and even for the school is from dug wells for the most part. A spillage of hazardous waste would not only risk human life, it would also risk the

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contamination of the water structure. Since it travels along the coastline, there is the risk too that any accident would cause a spillage into our coastal waters, which would also mean that there might be a risk of contamination of aquatic life there.

As I said earlier, the highway has been long neglected. It is the only section of that highway that is incomplete in the entire province. The fact that this government has committed to twinning highways in more urban areas and to development of toll roads is poor testimony to their long-range planning. What we are asking for and what we need as taxpayers in Nova Scotia is the acknowledgement that the need to finish this road is real and genuine and that it is in the best interests not only of the people who reside in that community, but in the best interests of all Nova Scotians. An adequate highway infrastructure will allow economic development, it will allow for adequate tourist transportation, it will allow for us to expand and develop, and it will make us less dependent on handouts and job-creation projects.

There is no question that the will is missing. We have the technology and, I believe, with a genuine look at a priority list, the government would see its way clear to begin work and that is what the people are asking for. They recognize that money is scarce. What they want to see is the government take some step that can be interpreted in a positive way. For the last 20 years we have been told that it will be done, but nothing has happened to clearly indicate that the government is committed. I can tell you first-hand that it is the number one area of concern regarding highway construction in my riding. I receive in excess of 10 to 15 calls a week, specifically around the issues related to the construction of Highway No. 101 between Weymouth and Digby.

Last year there was a message sent by the government in that they decided to pave that highway, and that was interpreted by the people living there that the government has absolutely no plan in place to begin to work on that section of road. That is very discouraging for the residents and discouraging for the businesses located there. In fact, the other evening I had a call from a lady who runs a small convenience store located on that highway and, lo and behold, when one of her customers was driving out of the driveway, the car was struck by a logging truck, the operator of which was concerned about getting to the mill with his load of materials, and the person was probably going home with groceries to feed his family.

There is no need of that. There is no need in this day and age for people to live on a highway with the volume of traffic that occurs there on a daily basis. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation.

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I am glad this issue has come before us in the Legislature this evening. Providing strong infrastructure that is safe, links that allow the flow of goods and services from community to community, roads and highways to allow

[Page 691]

Nova Scotians access to one another, whether it be for recreation or business, this is an important part of our mandate at Transportation and Public Works.

The connection of Highway No. 101, between Digby and Weymouth, is a project we have identified as a development priority. Yet, even this file has been reactive within the department. It is not a new issue for the Department of Transportation and Public Works. In fact, Mr. Speaker, it really goes back to the 1970's when the government policy was to make all Highway No. 101 a controlled access facility. Since that time, we have done a lot of good work on Highway No. 101. There have been sections of new development and some areas twinned and other sections strengthened and improved for high volume traffic.

The segment between Digby and Weymouth has not yet been completed, but that doesn't mean that it is not part of our planning process. Mr. Speaker, the segment we are talking about this evening is approximately 25 kilometres. The estimated cost of completing this project, a new two-lane controlled access highway, is $35 million, a cost greatly inflated since the vision back in 1970. Tonight, I suggest to the House, much has happened since the 1970's. Indeed, things have changed. I won't go into the history of all that has happened over the last 30 years in Nova Scotia.

We have accomplished a great deal as a province, but we have also learned some tough lessons. Our spending and years of deficit financing left us with tough decisions to make to secure the financial and economic future of this province for our children and grandchildren. Nova Scotia was shocked into a position of fiscal reality and accountability. We have had the courage to make the tough decisions and to do tough work here to get our financial house in order for all Nova Scotia.

I add this to tonight's debate simply because it is the issue of funding that is the bottom line here and a $35 million price tag is erroneous. But, Mr. Speaker, that doesn't mean we are not working on this project. In fact, as I mentioned, it has been reactivated. Staff is now considering what needs to be done to put this project back on the agenda as part of a future highway plan. In fact, a significant amount of field work is complete. Three potential quarters for this project have been identified. They were taken to the community in a public open house in March 1992. Initiative environmental screening was completed in 1994. Information obtained from this screening and input from the community on their needs will help establish the preferred corridor and highway alignment. After this is done, property acquisition needs to begin in order to protect the right-of-way from development and then further environmental assessments would have to be completed. These assessments alone can take up to two years. The process cannot happen overnight. Even if I had $35 million today, it would be years before we could do the construction. Realistically, I don't have $35 million.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out the objective evaluation mechanism for prioritizing highway construction development by the Department of Transportation and Public Works over the past five years. It is an objective system designed for fairness and need.

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The system is based on issues like traffic volume, accident rates and conditions and driving comfort. Considering traffic volume alone, traffic along this section of highway between Digby and Weymouth rarely reaches 5,000 vehicles per day, compare this with Antigonish, for example, where volumes on Highway No. 104 reach 13,000 to 14,000 vehicles per day. I draw this comparison because it demonstrates need. I do not want to raise any false hopes about the speed with which Digby-Weymouth development will proceed. But, I do want to assure you that it is not being ignored either. Based on our priority system for development, this file is active. Staff today are working on the preliminary stages of planning and development. We are laying the groundwork today, so that when funding is identified to allow us to move forward with this project, it will happen.

[6:15 p.m.]

Nova Scotians want good government. They want us to look at the big picture. They have laid out their priorities and given us the clear signal to stick to these priorities. We are following their plan with a fiscally responsible vision for the future of Nova Scotia. Thank you.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: First of all, I would like to thank the members for staying. It is very interesting to know, there are a number of rural people present this evening who believe that there are some issues outside of Metro Halifax that are of some consequence to all of us. I would like to congratulate the member for Digby-Annapolis for bringing this particular concern forward, and I know we didn't get much of an answer, not that it's a question and answer session.

I would like to remind the member for Yarmouth to just give me a tug here. We've got 10 minutes, Yarmouthian, and you're going to get probably about 30 seconds of them. Seriously, I'm going to ask the MLA for Yarmouth to share my time, because it seems of some importance to both of us that we address this issue.

The issue, as I understand it, and as has been put forth by the MLA for Digby-Annapolis, is an issue of frustration. Frustration. The 1970's, we hear him talk about. The 1970's, I think I was still in university then. However, there is a concern that we want to address, based upon priorities. The priorities should be open and they should be public. This is the same government that talks about crucial schools. Oh yes, I'm going to bring up schools, and thank God, I don't have to get into privatizing this stretch of road. However, we have crucial schools. We have important schools. We have vital schools. Well, we should have the same open system in determining highway needs.

[Page 693]

Now, if there's a needs assessment, and we are told as rural residents that is a crucial stretch of highway and we're looking at addressing that in 1999, then we can tell the people in our areas, it's being looked at. But, is there any schedule? None. When the twinning of certain highways happens, it happens for political reasons. For example, would the Highway No. 103, I ask you, be twinned past Beechville, Lakeside and Timberlea if it was not metro's garbage expressway? The answer is no. Don't talk about the number of accidents, don't talk about the safety record, don't worry about the various other dangerous pieces of road that stretch from Bridgewater through Chester Basin all the way into the city. No, if we didn't have a garbage dump, we wouldn't have a twinning.

Now the member for Digby-Annapolis, I don't suggest you want a garbage dump, because that in itself will cause innumerable problems. But there has to be an open process based upon needs assessment. Point by point analysis, safety needs, traffic volumes, schedules that we know about and as the member for Pictou has told me many times, when will that schedule be completed. Is it to be left to the political powers? No, there is safety involved, there's concerns from rural residents who are frustrated, who are angry, that basically want some answers. We have a shotgun approach to paving roads. We figure if we pave here today, or maybe upgrade something today, or maybe twin something tomorrow, well that will keep them quiet. Isn't it amazing, where some of these projects take place? They take place in proximity to metro. They take place in some of the main corridors, yet metro always is in the heart of the decision. Meanwhile rural roads, rural areas are neglected. I heard the honourable member for beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. I hear him address this issue time and time again. Secondary roads are being neglected. There are areas of this province that have been waiting far too long and one of them obviously is Digby-Annapolis.

Could I turn the floor over?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: This resolution is a very strong example of the need for this government to recognize the plight of rural and coastal communities. This government is not keeping its eye on the prize. The prize is what rural and coastal communities have to offer to this province. How can communities such as Digby and Weymouth grow and expand and attract business without having this connection to the 100-Series Highway? What would attract business to come to those communities without having that in place?

What is being discussed this evening pertaining to Digby and Weymouth is pertinent right across the province in the rural and coastal communities. Rural and coastal communities such as Weymouth and Digby need this infrastructure in place in order to survive, not just to grow and expand, but just to survive. This government, in my opinion, is ignoring the plight of Digby and Weymouth and of the rural and coastal communities. This government needs to pay attention and implement the infrastructure necessary for these communities to grow. If this government continues to ignore the rural and coastal communities, Digby and

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Weymouth, what then? This government needs to keep its eye on the prize and the prize is what the rural and coastal communities such as Digby and Weymouth have to offer.

Digby and Weymouth need this connection to Nova Scotia's 100-Series Highways. Digby and Weymouth need the attention of this government. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I just want to add that a number of our constituencies, as the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect indicated, it seems as if our rural areas are especially neglected or have been neglected over the last five or six years. The difficulty is that the Department of Transportation budget has been slashed disproportionately; when I say disproportionately I mean in comparison to some other government departments.

I know the minister, the previous minister, et cetera, if they had the opportunity to spend the road tax and the Registry of Motor Vehicle receipts or the equivalent thereof on our highways, then perhaps more constituencies would receive some much-needed road work and improvements.

In my constituency, as I indicated earlier, we do have the largest highway network of any constituency in the province. There is kilometre after kilometre of dirt road, paved road, paved road that looks like pavement but you wonder if you are not out on some rough mountain terrain in some areas. It is really bad. While we did get one little contract, as far as secondary roads go, honestly that road was so bad you could lose a small car in it and not even know. It was terrible. In fact, the department had to issue a tender that called for the pulverizing of this secondary road because they had to extract what was left of the existing road bed to lay new asphalt and put a new subgrade 4 inch, 2 inch, class A and eventually the pavement on it. So what I would like to see, and I know it is difficult, it is a balancing act, we all believe in financial responsibility but somewhere, some way the government has to spend the road tax.

You know Nova Scotians pay 15.4 cents of every litre of gas on road tax. Then, of course, we pay the much-hated BST. We used to pay the 7 per cent, the GST, but now because of harmonization, and one of the consequences and I say one of the negative impacts for the motorist is that an additional 8 per cent was added. So we are paying more and really we are getting less. When you look at previous budgets you will see that the government has spent less than they actually took in through those ordinary revenue sources. That was a conscious decision that the previous government made in order to somehow provide some stability in our Public Accounts in this province. That much I can appreciate.

Economic development depends on our public infrastructure, our highways in this province, especially in our rural areas. If you don't have a good road, look at the costs, you will beat your vehicle to death. It is dangerous. People in my constituency are really

[Page 695]

intimidated by the number of commercial vehicles going to our sawmills. It is not industry's fault. I believe that the government has to keep pace with development. They have to make a conscious decision. Look, for example, I will use MacTara, the largest sawmill in this province, they make a major contribution to the accounts of this province, they have nearly 300 employees. They have shown confidence in Nova Scotia. They have expanded, they have done this, they have done that and they have done a lot of things that really have not been given enough consideration and deliberation by this government.

So all I am saying is, we would love to have every road paved, I am sure every MLA would and I am sure the minister would like to have every road in his constituency of beautiful Shelburne paved but it just doesn't work that way. What we are saying is that cooperation is give and take. We really have gotten the wrong end of the stick in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley over the last six construction seasons. We are getting away at one corner of the constituency, a road that is so bad it had to be repaved. So all I am saying to the minister and this government is, do the best you can when you are down in the Cabinet Room and try, if you can, to get your colleagues, because I know it is difficult, the Minister of Agriculture would like to do more for the farming community but it is a matter of economics but, more than that, it is a matter of priorities. The city, I live in the Halifax Regional Municipality but my riding is very rural. As I indicated earlier, we don't believe that Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley deserves a part-time Minister of Health, a part-time Minister of Justice, et cetera, and we don't believe any riding in Nova Scotia does. We have to ensure that those priorities, like health - we hold health right up there with our family.

Again, perhaps I am digressing but the fact is there are priorities and then there are decisions that governments make that don't respect the priorities of the people. What this government has got to do is get back to the basics. There is no magic solution, you can't go out and wave a magic wand but there area areas where the government can tighten up and reign in unnecessary spending.

I still have constituents comment, how did that guy ever walk away with that $300,000 from the QE II? They can't imagine that anybody would earn $200,000 a year and then have a severance package that would give them $300,000 and then you see, like that would, I think, pave probably four or five kilometres of highway. Deals like that are bad. I would like to see that money spent on repairing and improving some of the roads in this province. The roads are deplorable. The minister is in an awkward and difficult portfolio and I am glad that that is his major responsibility and portfolio.

I thank you very much, I think you are a very fine Speaker and I congratulate you on being elected. Thank you for the opportunity to speak here this evening.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allocated for debate has expired.

[The House rose at 6:30 p.m.]

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