Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Tue., June 9, 1998

First Session


Housing & Mun. Affs.: Tenancy Act - Revise, Mr. G. Balser 1017
No. 14, Public Services Protection Act, Ms. Helen MacDonald 1018
No. 15, Workers' Compensation Regional Appeal Tribunals Act,
Mr. M. Baker 1018
No. 16, Workers' Compensation Act, Mr. M. Baker 1018
Res. 543, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Commun. Econ. Dev.: Women -
Needs Ignored Condemn, Ms. Y. Atwell 1018
Res. 544, Transport (Can.) - Hfx. Internat. Airport.: Plans - Announce,
Mr. R. Chisholm 1019
Res. 545, Health - Hants Commun. Hosp.: Beds Addt'l. - Provide,
Mr. G. Moody 1020
Res. 546, EMO - Emergency Serv. (911): Quality - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Samson 1020
Vote - Affirmative 1021
Res. 547, Environ. - Mercury Reduction Target: Coal Workers -
Consult, Mr. D. Chard 1021
Res. 548, Seniors & Pensioners (N.S.) - Yar. Co. Reps.:
Mr. H. Magels & Ms. E. Amirault - Congrats., Mr. N. LeBlanc 1022
Vote - Affirmative 1022
Res. 549, NDP (N.S.) MLAs - Budget (1998-99): Opposition -
Responsibility, Mr. P. MacEwan 1022
Res. 550, Environ. - Mercury Emissions Agreement:
Consultation Lacking - Signature Condemn, Mr. F. Corbett 1023
Res. 551, Environ./Disabled Persons Comm'n. - LORDA: Concerns -
Address, Mr. J. DeWolfe 1024
Res. 552, Hfx. Chebucto MLA - Budget Reply (08/06/98):
Rural (N.S.) Mockery - Apologize, Mr. M. Samson 1024
Res. 553, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Peggy's Cove (Hwy. No. 103):
Preferred Route - Indicate, Mr. W. Estabrooks 1025
Res. 554, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Cobequid Rd./Wentworth Valley:
Signage - Meeting Convene, Mr. G. Balser 1025
Res. 555, Fin. (Can.) - Job Creation: Surplus - Use, Mr. J. Holm 1026
Res. 556, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Morris & Surette's Islands:
Bridge Access - Info. Release, Mr. N. LeBlanc 1027
Res. 557, Environ. - Sydney Tar Ponds: Clean-up - Plan Develop,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 1027
Res. 558, Health - South Cumb. Mem. Health Care Centre Fdn.
(Parrsboro): Efforts - Congrats., Mr. M. Scott 1028
Vote - Affirmative 1028
Res. 559, Lbr. - Metro Transit: Strike - Negotiations Continuance Urge,
Mr. J. Pye 1029
Vote - Affirmative 1029
Res. 560, HRM Act (Bill No. 1): Second Reading - Debate Call,
Ms. E. O'Connell 1029
Res. 561, NDP (N.S.) - Leadership Lacking: Approval Rating -
Decline Likely, Mr. P. MacEwan 1030
Bus. & Cons. Serv.: Access Nova Scotia - Customer Comment Lines,
Hon. K. Colwell 1031
No. 92, Health - Commun. Bds.: Legislation - Time-Frame, Dr. J. Hamm 1033
No. 93, Fin. - HST: Relief - Promise Unfulfilled, Mr. R. Chisholm 1035
No. 94, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Assess. Div.: Mun. Elections - Policy,
Mr. G. Archibald 1037
No. 95, Fin. - HST: NSP-Rev. Can. - Contingencies, Mr. H. Epstein 1038
No. 96, Health: Highland View Reg. Hosp. (Amherst) - Mgt. Changes,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1039
No. 97, EMO - Radio Tower: Maintenance - Tenders, Mr. B. Taylor 1041
No. 98, Environ. - Sydney Tar Ponds: Pollutants - Action,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 1042
No. 99, Bus. & Cons. Serv.: Vehicle Inspection Prog. - Continuance,
Mr. G. Moody 1044
No. 100, Justice: Nancy Morrison Case - Min. Intervention,
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 1045
No. 101, Health - Intestinal Disease: Meal Supplements - Quality of Life,
Mr. E. Fage 1047
No. 102, Nat. Res. - Logging (Aboriginal): Stora Areas -
Mediator Appoint, Mr. R. Chisholm 1048
No. 103, Environ. - Meadowview (Kings Co.): Landfill - Closure Ensure,
Mr. D. Chard 1050
No. 104, Health - Care: Remote Areas - Ensure, Mr. G. Balser 1051
Mr. M. Scott 1053
Mr. R. White 1056
Adjourned debate 1058
Res. 2, National Unity: Calgary Declaration - Endorsement,
The Premier 1059
The Premier 1059
Mr. R. Chisholm 1063
Dr. J. Hamm 1067
Hon. W. Gaudet 1068
Mr. P. MacEwan 1073
Mr. J. Holm 1074
Mr. E. Fage 1077
Hon. F. Cosman 1079
Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 1081
M. M. Samson 1082
Ms. R. Godin 1083
Vote - Affirmative 1085
Mr. J. Holm 1086
Mr. J. Muir 1089
Mr. R. Matheson 1093
Gov't. (N.S.) - Wishes (Gov't. [Can.]): Compliance - Condemn:
Mr. J. Leefe 1097
The Premier 1099
Mr. D. Dexter 1102
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., June 10th at 2:00 p.m. 1104
Res. 562, Ldr. of Opp'n. - Election (24/03/98): Result - Accept,
Mr. P. MacEwan 1105

[Page 1017]


Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

12:00 P.M.


Hon. Ronald Russell


Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we commence with the daily routine, I should advise the members that the winner for the late debate today is the honourable member for Queens. The resolution is as follows:

Therefore be it resolved that this Premier and his predecessor be condemned for continuously bowing to the wishes of their federal Liberal cousins, allowing Ottawa to walk all over Nova Scotians on the issue of our military resources, taxation, agriculture, ports, forestry, transportation, et cetera.

That resolution will be debated tonight at 6:00 p.m.


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

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of some Digby landlords. The operative clause is, "We the undersigned would like the Minister to look at changing the Tenancy Act to give Landlords back the control of their properties instead of tenants controlling them.". There are 27 names and I have affixed my name.


[Page 1018]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.






Bill No. 14 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Protection of Public Services in the Province. (Ms. Helen MacDonald)

Bill No. 15 - Entitled an Act to Provide an Expedited Procedure to Deal With the Current Backlog of Appeals under the Former Workers' Compensation Act. (Mr. Michael Baker)

Bill No. 16 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 10 of the Acts of 1994-95. The Workers' Compensation Act. (Mr. Michael Baker)

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


MR. SPEAKER: 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 this government's budget calls for cuts in funding of 20 per cent for community economic development; and

Whereas many women in rural areas who build small businesses and community support systems rely on community economic development funding to fill the void left by the radically underfunded women's centres; and

Whereas this policy of slashing may be particularly devastating to women;

[Page 1019]

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn this government's continued erosion of support for community economic development and that it reconsider a budget that ignores the needs of women.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

I should bring to the attention of all members that you have to be very careful in introducing notices of motion that relate to the estimates or to bills that are on the floor, and the estimates is actually a bill that is on the floor, but that type of resolution is in order.

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 Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, and the Hotel Association of Nova Scotia have joined forces to urge the federal government to transfer Halifax International Airport to the community on fair terms; and

Whereas these and other groups have been working for over two years to convince the federal government that Halifax International Airport should get the same federal infrastructure investment as similar airports like Ottawa and Winnipeg; and

Whereas despite repeated proposals on behalf of Halifax International Airport, the federal Minister of Transport and the Prime Minister have failed to respond positively;

Therefore be it resolved that all Parties in this House urge the Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport not only to meet with the chamber, TIANS, and the hotel association, but to announce immediately its plans to provide Halifax International Airport with the support its needs in order to secure its place as a vital part of the Nova Scotia economy.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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.

[Page 1020]

The honourable member for Kings West.


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

Whereas the Central Regional Health Board continues to play a cat and mouse game with the residents of Windsor-West Hants concerning the addition of more hospital beds at the Hants Community Hospital in Windsor; and

Whereas despite the Premier ordering an independent report that has recommended more beds for the hospital, the Central Regional Health Board has turned around and requested yet another study; and

Whereas the Central Regional Health Board is doing a disservice to the people of Windsor-West Hants in refusing them additional beds to look after sick people, yet spending $15,219 on travel expenses between July 1996 and February 1998;

Therefore be it resolved that the Central Regional Health Board stop playing a game of cat and mouse with the residents of Windsor-West Hants and provide the necessary hospital beds for the Hants Community Hospital in a fast and efficient manner.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.


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

Whereas on my way to Halifax on Sunday night, I witnessed a single vehicle accident on Highway No. 104 just before the Town of New Glasgow; and

Whereas I was able to use my MT&T cell phone to immediately call 911 and notify emergency officials of this accident; and

Whereas the sole occupant was not injured and EMT personnel arrived in a few short minutes;

[Page 1021]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate this government and MT&T for its establishment of the 911 system, and congratulate the many men and women who serve as EMTs in this province for their quick responses and outstanding quality of service.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Dartmouth South.


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

Whereas Nova Scotia, along with the other Eastern Canadian Premiers and New England Governors, has committed to the reduction of mercury emissions by 50 per cent by the year 2003; and

Whereas this will force the province to target mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants; and

Whereas this commitment will have a direct impact on the lives of workers in Nova Scotia, particularly those in the coal industry;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to consult with coal workers in Nova Scotia and develop a strategy for meeting the mercury reduction target, which will offset any adverse economic effects this commitment may have on their livelihoods.

[12:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

[Page 1022]


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

Whereas two representatives of the Yarmouth County Council of the Federation of Seniors and Pensioners of Nova Scotia have been appointed to the provincial body's executive; and

Whereas the new president is Heiner Mangels of my home village of Wedgeport and the new first Vice-President is Evelyn Amirault of West Pubnico; and

Whereas the two Yarmouth County individuals assumed their positions at the federation's 25th annual convention in Truro on May 7th;

Therefore be it resolved that all the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Ms. Amirault and Mr. Mangels on their newly appointed positions and offer them warmest wishes as they bring the voice of senior citizens in Yarmouth County to the public ear.

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 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 NDP condemned the budget sight unseen, before it had even been released, claiming in advance that, whatever its content, it was not worthy of support and that they would not vote for it; and

[Page 1023]

Whereas this budget contains many measures which the citizens and communities of Nova Scotia greatly need, but the NDP has served advance notice that they are against every bit of it; and

Whereas by voting against the budget, members of the New Democratic Party are stating on behalf of their constituents that they reject its content without qualification or reservation;

Therefore be it resolved that individual members of the New Democratic Party can be held responsible to their constituents for voting against measures the communities and citizens they represent clearly want and need.

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 without consulting Nova Scotians the Premier went to Fredericton and signed a treaty to limit mercury emissions from coal-fired plants; and

Whereas the mercury treaty came as a surprise to the United Mine Workers whose President, Steve Drake, told the press, "We do not know just exactly what it means to either the reduction or the stabilization of coal sales to Nova Scotia Power.";

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemns the Premier for signing an agreement on mercury emissions without first consulting with Nova Scotians, in particular those who are most affected, the coal miners of Cape Breton.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition on an introduction.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery, I would like to introduce the Executive Director of the NSGEU, Lorraine Singler, and ask her to rise, and members, please afford her the usual welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

[Page 1024]


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

Whereas Lansdowne Outdoor Recreational Development Association, or LORDA, is a charitable non-profit organization which caters exclusively to seniors and disabled persons; and

Whereas LORDA is the only one of its kind in North America and has been unable to get any assistance to cover their operating expenses while also having trouble finding the funds to remain open each year; and

Whereas the facility is in great demand by the people from across the province and the county who depend on it to help them get the most out of life;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Environment and the Minister responsible for the Disabled Persons Commission Act immediately look into meeting with the Lansdowne Outdoor Recreational Development Association to discuss their issues of concern.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.


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

Whereas the concerns and issues affecting rural Nova Scotians is a top priority for this government; and

Whereas many rural Nova Scotians work hard to meet the serious challenges of maintaining one home for themselves and their families; and

Whereas last evening in this Legislature, the member for Halifax Chebucto set himself and his Party as defenders of rural Nova Scotians by saying that he understood their concerns, particularly in transportation because he, too, has to travel our many roadways to reach his country home;

[Page 1025]

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Halifax-Chebucto apologize to rural Nova Scotians for his shameful mockery of their circumstances and his disgraceful display of his privileged-class status.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.


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

Whereas Peggy's Cove is a popular tourist destination where benefits are gladly shared by the residents of both Timberlea-Prospect and Chester-St. Margaret's; and

Whereas current long-overdue road repairs on the portion of Route 333 section in the Chester-St. Margaret's constituency has resulted in excessive delays; and

Whereas the Prospect Road also serves as an alternate route to Peggy's Cove;

Therefore be it resolved that tourism officials encourage the Department of Transportation to erect alternate route signs at appropriate places on Highway No. 103 to alleviate these delays and to direct visitors to use the Prospect Road as the preferred way to travel to Peggy's Cove.

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 the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia has repeatedly cited signage as a critical issue for the tourism industry of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas tourism related businesses in the Wentworth Valley need signage to capture potential travellers on the Cobequid Road; and

Whereas the issue of signage on the Cobequid Road/Wentworth Valley has been an ongoing, unresolved problem for some time;

[Page 1026]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works act immediately to convene a meeting of department and tourism industry representatives to resolve the signage problem.

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 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:

Whereas Nova Scotia and Canada's physical infrastructure is in need of further improvement and upgrading; and

Whereas every billion dollars invested in infrastructure programs not only creates 56,000 jobs but provides Canadians with needed water and sewage treatment, waste management, recycling and other environmental benefits; and

Whereas the federal Liberals saw fit to extend the program through the 1997 election but is now ignoring the advice of municipal officials and letting the program lapse, while throwing a few dollars into a public-private Internet venture;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge Paul Martin to spend some of his growing surplus on a real infrastructure program that will create jobs, build the economy and help the environment.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 1027]

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:

Whereas the Villages of Morris and Surette's Islands only have access to the mainland by way of the Indian Sluice Bridge; and

Whereas this bridge suffered a serious mishap in late 1996 when a commercial vehicle came perilously close to falling into the water; and

Whereas the faulty replacement parts which caused the collapse have shaken the residents' confidence in the bridge to the core, causing property values to decrease and causing considerable stress;

Therefore be it resolved that the government stop keeping the residents of the islands in the dark about this issue and release whatever internal information they have available as to what the cost of a replacement bridge is versus the cost of upgrading and maintaining the current bridge.

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 high levels of toxic arsenic seeping into yards in the Frederick Street area is the latest example of the perils of living close to what has been described as Canada's worst toxic waste dump; and

Whereas the federal and provincial governments have failed to act effectively and decisively to clean up the Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens; and

Whereas instead of meaningful action these governments have downloaded responsibility for the environmental disaster represented by the tar ponds and the coke ovens onto the Joint Action Group;

[Page 1028]

Therefore be it resolved that this House demands that the Nova Scotia and federal governments stop using the JAG process as an excuse for inaction and get on with the clean-up of the tar ponds and the coke ovens and develop an immediate plan to offer protection for nearby residents.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.


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

Whereas the South Cumberland Memorial Health Care Centre Foundation has been working on a project for many years; and

Whereas on Monday, June 8, 1998 the foundation, along with the Health Board officials and other members of the community turned the sod for the medical centre which will have doctors and dentists housed under one roof; and

Whereas this facility will not only contribute to retaining and attracting doctors to the area, it will also instill confidence in the community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the South Cumberland Memorial Health Care Centre Foundation for its untiring efforts to make Parrsboro a better place to live.

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 Dartmouth North.

[Page 1029]


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

Whereas the Metro Transit strike is entering its third week; and

Whereas the strike has caused hardship for tens of thousands of metro residents who have no other way of getting around; and

Whereas most of the outstanding issues in the dispute have been settled;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the parties to continue negotiations so that a fair settlement can be reached and our transit service restored to the citizens of the HRM.

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 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:

Whereas Halifax Fairview resident, Nancy Armstrong and her family have been forced from their home to a safe house because of herbicide spraying; and

Whereas the Department of the Environment has not used its power to protect chemically sensitive people in urban areas by providing exclusion zones around their homes; and

[Page 1030]

Whereas the package of amendments to the Halifax Regional Municipality Act, now called Bill No. 1 and containing provision to empower HRM to consider a by-law to create such zones has come to this House in two sessions, but has yet to be debated;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to immediately call Bill No. 1 for second reading debate.

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 NDP is ecstatic over the latest Corporate Research Associates poll suggesting, based on a sample of 817 respondents, that they now enjoy a 40 per cent public approval rating for their performance; and

Whereas this poll was taken before a number of noteworthy recent developments, including the condemnation of the budget before they had even seen, the shilly-shallying of the Leader on matters where leadership was required, and his hijacking of a media interview session with Premier Russell MacLellan; and

Whereas it is clear that as time passes, given enough rope, the NDP will hang itself, especially its top leadership;

Therefore be it resolved that in the opinion of this House, as more and more Nova Scotians catch on to the lack of leadership and responsibility represented by this particular Party, the levels of approval for the NDP are likely to undergo sharp decline.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Statements by Ministers.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request to revert to Statements by Ministers.

Is it agreed?

[Page 1031]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, just over two years ago, the Department of Business and Consumer Services was formed. Its purpose was to bring together the parts of government that account for most of the transactions between Nova Scotians and their government. In fact, the nine different organizations that originally formed Business and Consumer Services accounted for 90 per cent of these transactions.

Once formed, the new department was to set about improving customer service and improving access to this service, especially in rural Nova Scotia. For the past two years now, staff in the department have been implementing customer service improvements and developing a comprehensive Quality Program in order to deliver on this mandate.

[12:30 p.m.]

A number of these Quality Program initiatives have been implemented over the past number of weeks, including a customer satisfaction survey and an employee satisfaction survey. I will be announcing results from these surveys at a later date.

Today, I am pleased to announce the latest customer service improvement initiative. At the Access Nova Scotia centres in Halifax, Dartmouth and Kentville, Customer Comment Lines have been installed. These phones are direct links between customers and my office, enabling customers to give an immediate response to the service they receive directly to the minister's office.

We want to hear the good, the bad, compliments and complaints, suggestions and opinions. Through these lines, staff want to know from customers what it is they do well and what needs improvement. Or, what are we not doing that we should be doing. The rationale behind this is clear, Mr. Speaker. Who is better to judge the job we are doing than our customers?

The days of government indifference to customer service are long gone. Mr. Speaker, it is not good enough to say, well, they have to deal with us, they have no choice. I am proud to say that the measures that have improved customer service have been led and implemented by staff in Business and Consumer Services.

[Page 1032]

Our Quality Program is one of continuous improvement. We're using technology to offer vehicle registration renewal over the phone. We've changed drivers' licenses so that they don't all expire at the end of the month, adding to the end-of-the-month rush. We're working on other service improvement options, as well.

Our staff want this Quality Program to work. I encourage all Access Nova Scotia customers to pick up the phone the next time they are in and tell us how we did. We are there to serve the people of Nova Scotia and we want to do it right. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services for that report. Certainly, it is welcomed to see that he is providing information that is going to improve the efficiency of customer service, particularly to the rural areas.

I trust, however, that the information in this statement will not lead to layoffs or temporary or part-time services but, hopefully, that people will be able to keep their jobs. So, I congratulate you on moving this forward.

Customer satisfaction, I see here, as well, you talk about a survey. I would be really interested in getting that survey from the customers so I would look forward to being provided with a copy of that.

So, once again, Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable minister to see that customer services will be improved to allow for the customer to launch complaints and compliments. Thank you very much.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I, too, welcome the announcement by the Minister of Business and Consumer Services. As the minister indicated, he and his government have initiated a number of Quality Program initiatives and I think that it is important that customers are given a vehicle to express themselves. I am not sure how many complaints the minister will receive and how many good compliments he will receive but, nonetheless, I know he will entertain some that may not be so complimentary relative to the services that are provided by the government.

I have a complaint, Mr. Speaker, that the trucking industry is very concerned about and I know that the Department of Business and Consumer Services is responsible for this government's weigh stations. Unfortunately, eastbound commercial vehicles are forced to cross the Trans Canada Highway so as to enter and exit the weigh station at the Canso Causeway. This creates a very, very real safety hazard. The perpetrator of this danger is that

[Page 1033]

government. They require, by law, that eastbound commercial vehicles cross the Trans Canada. The RCMP in accident reports plus the large number of daily exposures surely must require that the Minister of Business and Consumer Services intervene in this matter and immediately exempt eastbound commercial vehicles and westbound empty wood trucks. A lot of the wood trucks that go to Stora come back empty, and guess what? They have to pull into the weigh scales as well. That creates a real logjam down there.

So I will be telling members of the trucking industry to make use of this hotline that the minister has established, or at least this Quality Program initiative, because it is important that the government immediately act relative to that concern down at the causeway. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The time is 12:36 p.m. We will be commencing Oral Questions Put By Members. We will terminate at 1:36 p.m.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question, through you, to the Minister of Finance, who is not here. Sorry.

MR. SPEAKER: Would some other member like to continue while we are waiting for the Minister of Finance?

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I don't get an opportunity to lead off any more.


DR. HAMM: Thank you. I have question for the Minister of Health. My question to the Minister of Health is simply, does the minister's government still plan to introduce legislation establishing and mandating the authority of community health boards and, if so, would he indicate what is the time-frame for this legislation?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have draft legislation addressing both regional boards and community health boards but, in light of the recent discussions relative to regional boards and their function, I would prefer at this juncture to do a consultation process with the

[Page 1034]

honourable member and his caucus and to see how that may unfold, and that we would be able to bring more appropriate legislation at the time. That would be in no way to delay this, but we want the legislation to be right and to be appropriate and reflect the function - and I underline function - rather than the structure of the community health boards and the regional boards.

DR. HAMM: I will continue, Mr. Speaker, with the Minister of Health. Dr. Roy Harding, the Chief of Staff at the Digby General Hospital, recently resigned as chief of staff of that hospital out of frustration for what has been happening due to regionalization. He maintains - as do many others, including all members of this caucus - that regional health boards have been a colossal failure. Now I understand from the minister's answer to my first question that he, as well, is softening in his support for regional health boards. I would ask the minister today, is he prepared to commit to going down the road, to putting health care control and care where it really belongs, back into community-based organizations, and to take away that function from the regional health boards and to eventually eliminate regional health boards? Will you make that commitment?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the regional health boards in this province, in the four regions, have been in place for approximately 13 months or 14 months. We cannot turn this health care system around on a dime. The regional health boards, to be functioning, would be within that period of time. The role in how, the governance issues and how they may function, is under review. As I mentioned, I would like to do that with all members of this Legislature because I think this is an important issue, but we don't want to make rapid changes. I think we have heard very clearly from the people of Nova Scotia that some changes have been made too rapidly. We want to slow this down a bit and we want to work with community groups. We want it to reflect community needs and what is appropriate for those particular communities. I know you want me to briefly say that we will work toward what they will be called or whether it is a combination of regional health boards and community boards, we will work toward that.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the minister to review the information in his department. Regional health boards have been around a lot longer than 13 months or 14 months.

In his letter of resignation - and I will table it for the minister - Dr. Harding maintains that regionalization has resulted in a burgeoning bureaucracy and an increase in the number of levels that must be crossed before any decision can be made. I would ask, does the minister believe, as does Dr. Harding, that regional health boards have produced, in this health care system of ours in Nova Scotia, a burgeoning bureaucracy and an increasing number of levels that have to be crossed in making decisions?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there have been changes and I think many changes for the better in this province under regional boards, but not without some problems.

[Page 1035]

I do not know, Mr. Speaker, the circumstances under Dr. Harding's resignation. I have not spoken with him personally so I do not know his personal views. I can tell you though that the western region has saved approximately $2 million on administration in one year, and I think those are significant. There is a problem, no question, that the facilities are disenfranchised and they feel disenfranchised sometimes, and I, myself have admitted there is a distance and disconnectedness sometimes between the regional boards and the facilities, but we can't have it both ways. We are moving to a community system and we will work with the cooperation of others as to the best system to put in place for Nova Scotia's quality care.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I will direct my question through you to the Minister of Finance. It has been reported recently in the media that the government intends to provide what they refer to as HST relief which is a 5 per cent rebate on electricity bills over a five month period from November 1997 to March 1998. This, of course, you will recall is in response to the oft-stated commitment by the Premier when he was seeking the leadership of the Liberal Party last summer and throughout the fall and winter and, again, this spring, that he and his government were going to provide relief to those most affected by the BST, those on low income and in particular the rebate was going to be for home heating fuel, for electricity and for children's clothing.

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that it is clear the government has made a decision here that benefits households which use electricity. Approximately, 86,000 households in the Province of Nova Scotia heat their homes with electricity; 227,000 Nova Scotia households . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question please.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . use oil heating. That is 62 per cent . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Can we have the question please.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . versus 24 per cent. I want to ask the Minister of Finance, Mr. Speaker, why it is that his government, in trying to come up with clearly a flimsy excuse for fulfilling their promise, decided to discriminate against all of those households in Nova Scotia who heat with oil?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in fact we have tried to deal with the people utilizing power which, whether they heat their home with power or they use power in their home, will benefit from this $10 million assistance program that we are providing to all Nova Scotians and we are very pleased to be able to do so.

[Page 1036]

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, as the many people who have called our office would suggest, this is a rebate for Nova Scotia Power and not for Nova Scotians.

My first supplementary, I feel compelled to ask the minister, what he and his government say to people who heat their homes with oil, with wood, with propane, to those people on fixed and low incomes, living in rooming houses, who were led to believe that they would benefit from this government's commitment to provide relief to the BST. Could the minister please explain what it is that he offers to those many Nova Scotians and, in particular, low income Nova Scotians who believed this government, believed the Premier of Nova Scotia on his commitment that they were going to provide relief?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, sometimes it is hard to get him to conclude with a question instead of a speech. (Interruptions) The $10 million program that we announced during the Budget Speech was clearly an indication that we are concerned and are doing our part, within our fiscal framework, to provide a benefit back to Nova Scotians.

The honourable member opposite refers to the issue of oil and, Mr. Speaker, I think if the member opposite was to do a little homework, he would realize that actually home heating fuels have gone down since we brought in the HST and they are paying less today than they were a year ago to heat their home because of the cost of oil. (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, I would ask the members opposite to at least have a little respect for the House here.

[12:45 p.m.]

The third point is that we, as Liberals on this side of the House, are always concerned about those who need help and that is why we have the Direct Assistance Program, to help low income Nova Scotians in dealing with the offset of the HST. We have the Low Income Assistance Program, the Direct Assistance Program and we did have the 2 per cent reduction in the provincial income tax which is the lowest rate anywhere in Atlantic Canada.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians have drawn one conclusion from this statement and from the remarks by that minister. That is that the government had absolutely no intention of fulfilling the commitment of the Premier of this province to provide relief to low income Nova Scotians for the HST. That is the issue right here, it is about trust, it is about credibility and this minister has got some nerve asking members of this House to respect his government because Nova Scotians know what the real truth is here.

I want to ask the minister to explain to Nova Scotians whether in fact this government had any intention whatsoever of trying to fulfill the Premier's commitment to provide relief to low income Nova Scotians for home heating fuel, for electricity . . .

[Page 1037]

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the reality is that we have always had a commitment to do something. We have been able to do our part with a $10 million program to help all Nova Scotians, a $10 million program that we were able to pay with the money that we have, unlike the member opposite who would like us to go out and get deeper in debt to provide programs that we cannot afford. We have committed to Nova Scotians that we are prepared to do our part within the fiscal framework of where our government is. We believe the commitment in education is a priority. We believe our commitment in health is a priority. We believe our commitment in a program is a priority.

I would like to say one thing . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs and I would suggest that it is also very fortunate that he is the Minister of Human Resources. Last fall, the day that nomination papers were to be filed for municipal elections across the Province of Nova Scotia, the Minister of Municipal Affairs sent around a letter to employees within the Assessment Division, indicating that they could not run for municipal election or if they chose to run they would have to resign from their position with the provincial government. The minister's order was back-tracked on, I made a few phone calls and I called and it was getting embarrassing for them but could the minister tell me what the update is at the present time? Does that ruling still hold or are they holding meetings or where exactly do the municipal employees who work for the Assessment Division fit with regard to municipal elections?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for his question. The member raises a very good point. As far as the conflict of interest policy, that was certainly raised by staff in the field and staff within the department. On September 18, 1997, the department implemented a conflict of interest policy. Basically what that policy indicates is that an employee who is in direct conflict certainly will, this is again, especially with the people who have offered to run in the last municipal elections, this will not apply to them but, however, this policy will apply to the municipal elections in the year 2000 or employees who wish to offer in by-elections. So the policy, as far as we are concerned, was to try to address concerns that were raised. It is now in place, has been in place for a number of months, and certainly will address some of these concerns. So again, for members or for interested individuals who wish to pursue municipal elections in the year 2000 or a by-election, they will not be able to run for office.

[Page 1038]

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, I was wondering if this policy applies to incumbents who are now currently serving, for instance the mayor of Kentville, who works for the government within the assessment department, does this apply? Are you telling me that he will not be allowed to run for mayor in the next election?

MR. GAUDET: The member raises a good point. At this stage, I do not know the answer. However, I will certainly take that point the member brings forward under advisement and I certainly will report back to the House on a future day.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, look, I was very annoyed and very confused with the policy when it came out, and I'm just as annoyed and confused today. The minister stood and said he'd have to check with policy. Part of being a Cabinet Minister, what you do is you make the policies. Now, I would like the minister to tell me how an assessor could be considered in a conflict of interest, unable to run for municipal election, while at the same time there are hundreds of other civil servants around the Province of Nova Scotia they have allowed to run for office? Why this government has singled out assessors is beyond me, and if the minister could come up with a very good reason, either that or he must withdraw the policy?

MR. GAUDET: I think when we reflect back in the past, from many concerns that were raised by municipal units across the province, raised the concern especially of the assessment services on this particular issue being done by elected members of council, of members wearing two hats, individuals who are assessment officers and those same individuals are elected officials. If the member has a hard time understanding the conflict that this presents, (Interruptions) Very much so. Based on the feedback that we have received from units across the province, we feel this conflict of interest policy is beneficial for all Nova Scotians, and we certainly will stand by that. However, I did indicate to the honourable member, the question that he did raise, that I will get back to him, and I will get back to the House on a future day.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.


MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, a question for the honourable Minister of Finance. If there is any remote possibility that the HST relief may be extended, we are told that is dependent entirely upon a settlement of a tax claim by Nova Scotia Power with the federal government. We have never been given any details and I wonder if the minister will tell this House now, what exactly are the contingencies of the tax claim that is being pursued by Nova Scotia Power with Revenue Canada?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it's a very complicated tax provision, dealing with capital cost allowance and the sale of the Power Corporation. We in turn have brought a proposal forward to the federal government for a ruling, a tax ruling, and the tax ruling has

[Page 1039]

not come forward. We are going to continue to exercise our rights as Nova Scotians to bring it forward and to see whether or not we can have a benefit back to Nova Scotians, and it will be within our view, not only with our tax experts, but also our legal experts have indicated to us that we are totally in compliance and we have the right to be able to go forward with this initiative, and we as a province will.

MR. EPSTEIN: Well, the question really is, how much money is involved at the maximum; how much money could possibly flow as a result of this ruling, if it went most favourably, how much money could flow to the Nova Scotia Government?

MR. DOWNE: Well, Mr. Speaker, if the money flows to the province, it will be turned around to be a benefit back in a relief program for Nova Scotians. So, the number is somewhere between, I believe, $10 million and $20 million; I think the number is $16 million but don't hold me to it. I will get the exact number for the member opposite.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, there has been some suggestion in utterances by the government, that they think that some of the money should go to Nova Scotia Power and some of the money, if it ever comes, should go to the Nova Scotia Government to set up a program. My question is, since this is purely pre-privatization of Nova Scotia Power, why should any of that money go to Nova Scotia Power since at the time it was a publicly-owned corporation?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, there are certain rights that that company now has and they want to exercise the right of the money that is due to them. I am not arguing that point. The issue is that the money that would come back to the provincial Treasury is the question that he was referring to. The money that would come back to the provincial Treasury from our point of view, looking at it with our experts, have indicated that those dollars would be to the tune of somewhere between $10 million and $20 million. What we propose to do is to be able to provide that as a benefit of an HST relief to all Nova Scotians. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.



MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question is for the Minister of Health through you, Mr. Speaker. In the past few weeks the Opposition has been accused of scaremongering by the minister, who has maintained that there is no crisis in health care, that the problems we have been bringing here and asking questions on are purely a myth. However, in the last few days we have had a report with respect to the Highland View Regional Hospital in Amherst. My question for the minister, with respect to that report, which indicates serious problems in that facility, is, how exactly are we to interpret the fact that the management of the

[Page 1040]

Highland View Regional Hospital in Amherst has had to be turned over to the Province of New Brunswick?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would disagree with the honourable member in that the NDP have been fear-mongering for the past two weeks. They have been fear-mongering for as long as I can remember on health care with their ads from goodness knows where, in California or somewhere, and pushing the right buttons.

Mr. Speaker, there has been a review requested by the Northern Regional Health Board on the Highland View Hospital. It has been received. The appropriate people have been informed of that. We are moving into putting a team in place. That team includes transferring patient service representatives from the Truro area into that particular community, moving emergency health team members, Dr. Michael Murphy and others, having their resources available to that hospital, and part of that also is a CEO that would be moved in from the Moncton community with links into the hospital there and also into the medical school through the Moncton Hospital system.

The control, Mr. Speaker, rests with the Northern Health Board as it had previously done. There is absolutely no change. There is a team being put in place and I am very pleased to say it is a very competent team that will ensure quality health care in the Amherst-Cumberland area.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, once more we see the Minister of Health deflecting the very real concerns that people in Nova Scotia have about health care and not being prepared to accept any accountability whatsoever for what is a very serious situation and which was pointed out as a very serious situation by people, experts in the field, totally unconnected to Opposition Parties. My supplementary question to the minister, through you, is, what specific steps is the Minister of Health taking to address quickly and comprehensively the critical problems identified at the Highland View Regional Hospital or will this, too, be turned over to the Province of New Brunswick to solve?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to say that I received the report. We had a briefing with the three very competent reviewers, from across Canada, that came here as a team. We put a contingency plan in place immediately in the event of any changes of disruption of service in that area. As I have outlined and I do not want to repeat it for the House, it will be in Hansard, the team that we have put in place is a very effective team. I think it highlights one thing. We speak in terms of the functions of the regional boards. It is my personal opinion that this very important issue would not have been dealt with had we not been in the regional health care system. It was the Northern Regional Board that requested the review. It wasn't strictly a matter of recruitment of physicians, there were other underlying problems that are being dealt with, will be dealt with. When we move into the new hospital, we will have a great medical team.

[Page 1041]

[1:00 p.m.]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my final question to the minister is, now that we have this report, which is another in a series of problems at various hospital facilities around the Province of Nova Scotia, will the minister now finally admit to the House that there is a crisis in health care, that he is prepared to hear the concerns of Nova Scotians and he is prepared to work on these problems, solving them?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member started her questioning regarding that I was accusing them of fear-mongering and she really has proven me to be true by ending on that very note. This is not a problem, the issue of the report of the Highland View Hospital. It is the solution. We are dealing with the solutions. We are putting the team in place. The northern board is responsible as they have been and we will maintain quality care in the Cumberland area.

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


MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Natural Resources who is also, I believe, responsible for the Emergency Measures Organization. The same Nova Scotia mobile integrated radio network tower maintenance tender has been called twice within the last four months. The first tender was closed on March 30th with Don Fisher Construction of Hilden, Colchester County, who has provided this exemplary service for the past several years being the only bidder. According to the Department of Natural Resources' manager of corporate services, Mr. Fisher's tender was never opened. However, I believe the tender was opened and it was made available for public consumption. Will the minister explain to the House if the original tender was open and made available for public consumption before it was re-issued and subsequently awarded to JOL Tower Services and Antenna from the Dartmouth East riding?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my honourable friend for the question. The tender was originally called and processed through the Public Tender Office and went to the electronic bulletin board. The dollar value of the tender required that a newspaper advertisement was required. The tender initially was in Mr. Fisher's favour but when somebody complained that it hadn't been in the newspaper because of the dollar value, the tenders had to be recalled.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows full well and I trust he was briefed about this matter, I did take the time to contact the minister previous to Question Period. But after the second bids were in, your department contacted hired help, Oldham Engineering, consultants, were asked for their opinion on who should do the work. Will the minister confirm that Oldham Engineering recommended against JOL Tower Work and Antenna from

[Page 1042]

the Dartmouth East riding because they do not have the necessary equipment and tools as per Schedule A of the tender?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I again thank the honourable member. My information is that the report from Oldham Engineering Inc. was JOL Tower did have the ability and the right price to do the job. That's the information we have and I will stand by that.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the mobile radio network provides high level communications for RCMP, the Department of Natural Resources, DNR, EMO, et cetera. The minister should check with his manager of corporate services who indicated that Oldham Engineering recommended against JOL Services from the Dartmouth East riding. Is the minister aware that on Sunday, Mr. John O'Leary of JOL Tower Services visited with Mr. Don Fisher stating that he didn't have the necessary equipment to remove and install microwave antenna as required in the contract?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, yes, I am aware and I have seen the letter. I saw it this morning. Our staff is reviewing that information and reviewing that letter, if it is indeed fact. Built into the contract we have a 30 day cancellation clause but when we review that letter that the honourable member is talking about, we will certainly bring it back to his attention. I appreciate his concern. I know he is very serious about the matter and we will follow it up and bring the information to the House at the earliest convenience.

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


MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. Again this week Cape Bretoners and especially the residents in the Frederick Street area of Whitney Pier are being presented with further evidence that their community and the living conditions in their community are certainly unacceptable. Soil taken from the railbed running along the back of people's properties and many homes is indicated to be contaminated with arsenic levels that are 18.5 times higher than the CCME guidelines. These federal testing reports certainly indicate that this level of concentration is way too high and certainly has nothing to do with natural occurrences. This is definitely unacceptable.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Why has it taken so long and yet another study to confirm the residents' concerns about the contamination in this area?

[Page 1043]

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question by my honourable colleague with regard to Frederick Street. As the member would know, the federal Department of the Environment officials have been on the site and have been there dealing with it, as well as our own individuals. What we need to determine now is where the source of contamination is really originating from. We have now informed the residents to realize that they shouldn't be playing in the area - children, pets and others - should not be playing near the stream and we will be monitoring that process. We are doing it on a urgent basis, fast-tracking the information so that we can make sure that the decisions we make are legitimate and founded on fact. We will continue to do that in partnership with the Department of Health, the health specialists; the Department of the Environment, provincially; the federal Department of the Environment that is leading the process, as well as working with the municipality.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the recommended CCME arsenic level is 12 milligrams per kilogram of soil and the level found here, in the residents' backyards, is 222.5 milligrams. I hear what the minister is saying about the federal Department of the Environment. We do have a testing lab in Cape Breton at the university. What I want to know is what is this government going to do other than talk to the people about what they can do to help the residents who are having this serious problem?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my honourable colleague must not have heard the fact that we are doing a monitoring process but we are also evaluating, on an urgent basis, the test results that we have gotten, to determine the impact and the location of where the problem is originating. I do appreciate the work at the UCCB and other facilities but we will be doing that in concert with Environment Canada and the Department of Health and so on and so forth. We have taken this extremely seriously. I know the member opposite is concerned about it. We, too, concur. This is a very serious issue and we are on top of the issue with the appropriate departments.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is not like we just found out about this last Friday. This has been going on for years in this community. When we listen and read pleas for help from the members of that community that are happening as late as today, I think what we need to hear is some real concrete suggestions about what is going to happen . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Will the government be offering any kind of compensation . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member please put her question.

[Page 1044]

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: I am asking the question now. Will the government be offering compensation to these families so that they can relocate temporarily until this issue is addressed?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is always great to meet a born-again environmentalist from the New Democratic socialist Party of the Province of Nova Scotia. I remember in this House . . .

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Is that the answer? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Minister of Finance has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: I have kind of got their attention is right. Mr. Speaker, I indicated to the member opposite that we are working to determine in a very professional way and one of concern with the people, with the appropriate federal-provincial ministries, in a very urgent way to deal with this specific problem. She is now talking about compensation, buying this, buying that. I mean we have got to first find out what the problem is and to try to rectify it as quickly as possible. I never heard the member opposite bring this matter to the attention of this House before. I thank her for doing it at this sitting of the House and not two years ago when they had . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Business and Consumer Services. This government has had a very poor record making decisions that affect people's lives, and they have had a very poor record, doing stupid things like the land use tax and then figuring out later it was all wrong. It is my understanding - and I cannot believe this, but I have it from a good source - that this minister and this government is considering doing away with the passenger and light vehicle inspection program that has been held in such high regard in this province. I ask the minister, is that true?


MR. MOODY: Well, Mr. Speaker, he has someone in his department doing the review and I can even give him the name, Mr. Hagen. I cannot believe that the department is carrying on a review of a program and the minister is not involved. What kind of a department is he running?

[Page 1045]

I would ask the minister, would he immediately go back to his department and let me know if there is a review going on in his department? I know people who have made a submission. Would he please report to me and, if it is going on, would he stop it immediately?

MR. COLWELL: I thank the honourable member for the question. I am not aware of any review going on. If there is one going on, it will be stopped. There is no need, I feel, to review this important program that has led to so many safe and accident-free days on Nova Scotia highways.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, the man doing the review is Mr. Paul Hagen; Paul F. Hagen of his department is doing the review. I have talked to small business operators who have heard about it. I have talked to people in the industry and he is doing the review and that is who you make your submissions to. So the review is going on; it is going to have to be stopped and, if the minister would check, in Newfoundland where they stopped this program, they have had more accidents and insurance rates have gone up. I would ask the minister one more time, will he ensure me and all Nova Scotians that this government is not reviewing, not considering doing away with the passenger and light commercial vehicle inspection program?

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that as long as I am minister of this department, that program will stay in place.

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


MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, through you, my question is to the Minister of Justice. As we are well aware, in the news lately has been the issue of appealing the Nancy Morrison preliminary hearing decision. Today, in the news, the Minister of Justice has been quoted as saying that he is considering intervention in this particular case. As we are also aware, under the Marshall Inquiry Report, it was recommended that the Attorney General or the Minister of Justice, whichever position is being held, was to define policies as to when prosecutorial discretion would be provided, and it was also under the Public Prosecutions Act, Section 6(a).

My question to the Minister of Justice, can he tell us whether or not such guidelines have been created with regard to prosecutorial discretion and whether or not these guidelines have been provided, if they have been created, whether or not they are in place to ensure the Minister of Justice doesn't interfere in that?

[Page 1046]

[1:15 p.m.]

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think I followed the question. I can say that my role as the Minister of Justice is to ensure that the process of justice is done. I have been advised of the decision from the Public Prosecution Service, I have taken that under advisement. I have sought expert legal advice and I will be making my announcement to the Public Prosecution Service in a timely manner.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, not only is it in the Marshall Inquiry Report and not only is it in the Public Prosecution Service Act but in the Ghiz-Archibald report it is discussed that there is a need for independence of the Public Prosecution Service. That can be done through independence in budget approval and in ensuring they have the resources to do the job properly. So I will again ask my question to the Minister of Justice, have these guidelines been created to ensure the prosecutorial discretion guidelines are in place and if not, why haven't they been created?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is correct. Out of the Marshall Inquiry arose the system that we have in Nova Scotia now that is at arm's length from political interference. The function of the Public Prosecution Service has been fair and it has been within the Act and meeting the requirements under the Act. My role, as Minister of Justice, is at arm's length without political interference and that is how it shall be.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, given the Marshall Inquiry Report, given the Ghiz-Archibald report and given the sections within the Public Prosecution Service Act, can the minister tell us whether or not he does intend to implement the Ghiz-Archibald report recommendation for independent approval of the budget of the Public Prosecution Service and in turn then allowing the resources to be there to make sure they can make the decisions without the minister having to interfere?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my role as the Minister of Justice in an arm's length function, is to communicate and receive information from the Director of Public Prosecutions and also on occasion where I have met with the regional managers and the management team. Other than that they shall conduct their own business and it shall be arm's length without political interference. The other things are in place and they function and any direction that I give will have to be as a directive and will be published publicly in the Royal Gazette and the honourable member will be able to read it along with all other Nova Scotians. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

[Page 1047]



MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. I would like to ask the Minister of Health if he would concur that people in Nova Scotia suffering from such conditions as Crohn's Disease, stomach cancer, intestinal cancer that products like Ensure, which are meal supplements, are valuable to the quality of life and essentially people in this condition cannot work at all. Their health condition so affects them that virtually their time is spent just trying to make sure that they stay alive. Are products like Ensure critical to the quality of life of people like that in Nova Scotia?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I will try to give a Minister of Health opinion rather than that of a physician but I am tempted to drop back into my role as a family doctor. This Sunday I had the opportunity to join members of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation in one of their walk-a-thons and heal-a-thons. I think what the honourable member is saying and I will try to be as fair in this as I can, certainly there are many people with Crohn's and ileitis illnesses who are on some sort of minor dietary restriction, so there is a whole spectrum of illness obviously, as there is in every condition. There are people that have special requirements both in medication and in supplemental feedings so I acknowledge the honourable member and I think that is as good an answer as I can give at this time.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer that it is indeed important to the quality of life. I would like to follow that question up, however, with a bit of policy that has been enforced, particularly in a hospital like Amherst's Highland View Regional. During the last number of years, because of the limited income and these people's inability to earn an income, a product like Ensure has been supplied through the hospital, at a cost of $6.50 a case, to the client to help them out, whereas if they went to a drugstore or a commercial outlet, it would have cost them $22. Does the minister concur this is good policy?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, generally speaking, with supplemental pharmaceuticals or other modes of therapy that aren't covered under plans, generally arrangements are made locally. Locally, here in the Halifax-Dartmouth Metro community, we have the metro dispensary, and that's been at the IWK-Grace. So, there are those general arrangements that have been made. I think they have worked very well. They've allowed the person, the people who require this particular therapy, some payments, but they've often put it within reach of the particular income. Sometimes service groups, organizations and others have assisted in these types of programs. I would concur, that is a good way to go, and it's helpful, and one of the issues we have of giving proper care to people, pharmaceuticals, supplemental feedings or whatever.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, and to you, Minister of Health, if the Minister of Health concurs that this is a proper policy, that this does protect the quality of life, and makes this product, or any product like it available at a reasonable cost to these people most in need, can

[Page 1048]

the Minister of Health explain and instruct the Northern Regional Health Board as to why, in April 1998, letters were sent to these clients, who were issued this product only on doctors' requests, telling them that they would have to purchase that commercially at $22 rather than continue to supply it at $6.50? These people are the most vulnerable and here is this regional health board, this government, saying that these people should pay a full price, where for the last number of years they have been supplied at $6.50.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his information. I thought that probably where his questions were leading would be in this direction, the policy and things of that nature. We spend over $50 million a year on pharmaceuticals and other initiatives of that nature. The regional health boards and the institutions, they can set up their own programs. We don't have a full provincial program covering the matters of which he speaks. This is an area that we would work on. I would want to discuss this with the regional board and I will take that under advisement today, and do so. I thank the honourable member for bringing this to the House of Assembly today.

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 Natural Resources. The minister, undoubtedly, is monitoring the situation in New Brunswick, where disputes and confrontations about Aboriginal logging have reached a point where it poses significant harm to all those who have an interest in the forest industry. On May 15th, the government received a request from the Mi'kmaq community for the appointment of a mediator facilitator to deal with the issue as it relates to the Stora cutting areas. I would like to ask the minister if he would explain why the government has not as of yet replied to that request and taken the opportunity afforded by the Aboriginal community to work cooperatively for a resolution to this issue?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Leader of the Official Opposition for his question. We, in Nova Scotia have taken a more conciliatory approach to the Native harvesting of timber on Crown land. We believe that the issue is much broader than just cutting timber. I think there are a lot of Native issues that we have to work with, and work with the Native community, and we are doing that. We are meeting on several fronts with businesses, the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, and we are continually bringing it to the table and trying to reach a resolve to this very important issue.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I'll direct my first supplementary, then, to the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs. Clearly anyone with an interest in the forest industry would want to see Nova Scotia avoid the route that has been followed by New Brunswick and to avoid a confrontation. I understand the Minister of Natural Resources talking about there

[Page 1049]

being a lot of outstanding issues there, but this one is a potential, right now, for conflict. I want to ask the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, what steps the minister has taken to ensure a speedy and positive reply to what can only be characterized as a constructive proposal made by the Mi'kmaq community.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Natural Resources and myself had a meeting, actually, with members of the Mi'kmaq community who were actually doing the logging in certain jurisdictional areas. We had a very successful meeting and we concluded that we should have our appropriate professional staff come back with some options to be reviewed. That has taken place. We will be consultating with them upon the outcome of trying to find a way to resolve this very important issue that the member opposite alludes to. We are aware that there are individuals who would like to do the conciliation process between the two but we are trying to do it nation to nation. We are trying to do it government to government. We are trying to do it people to people and that is our first approach, to deal with the community directly and if that doesn't work, obviously we will have to look at other options but we are confident . . .

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, what we see brewing in New Brunswick is a level of confrontation that surely all Nova Scotians want to avoid. We have a proposal that has been put forward some four weeks ago by the Mi'kmaq community to try to begin to develop a process to ensure that we don't go down that route. I know that the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs met with the community on this issue but it was well before that proposal was made. (Interruption)

I would like to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Labour may not think this is an important issue but it is an extremely important issue to this province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Leader of the Opposition will ignore the remarks from across the floor.

MR. CHISHOLM: I want to ask the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr. Speaker, who is also the Deputy Premier, to use his authority to ensure that a constructive and positive response, is delivered to this proposal, a proposal which was sent off some four weeks ago.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite alluded to the comment to begin a process, he stated that four weeks ago to begin a process. Well, I would like to inform the members of this House, we started a process long before four weeks ago about sitting down and doing consultation. We are already in a process and although the member opposite would want to begin a process, we are in the process, we are working with a process to find a solution to the serious problem that he is referring to.

[Page 1050]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.



MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of the Environment, considering that the Kings County Regional Landfill closure is four years behind schedule and that this dump has been a source of contamination of the Cornwallis River and of the residential community of Meadowview, will the Minister of the Environment guarantee the residents of Meadowview that this landfill will be closed down by June 1999?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for bringing this matter forward. I know it is a very serious concern on all our behalfs and the member opposite has actually visited the site and played a very active role in bringing it to my attention. I, in turn, have agreed to go and visit the site myself to see it. The issue is, would there be an extension beyond the year 2000? Certainly I am not in any position at this point to want to consider giving anybody extensions in this matter. I would like to have it dealt with immediately. If we can find a quicker way to resolve the problems that are there, then I would be in agreement with that as well.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's response. He caught me by surprise because I thought that the date for closure was 1999. Now we are hearing that it is probably going to be the year 2000. I appreciate the fact that the minister has committed to visit the area. Will he also commit himself to meeting with the residents of Meadowview to hear directly from them, their concerns about their health, their property values and commit himself to the monitoring of the municipality by the Department of the Environment.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry if I misunderstood the question. The first question was, would it be closed before the year 2000? My response was, yes, it would be closed before the turn of the year 2000. He is absolutely right that 1999 was the date that was brought there. If we can do it quicker, that will be great.

Secondly, to clarify, would I be considering going to the site? I have already indicated that I would be willing to go to the site upon closure of the House, whenever that is completed. I have already undertaken that I will be prepared to go forward and visit the site. As it turned out, there was a resolution in the House recently. Basically in compliance with that resolution and the comments made by the members opposite, I have already indicated to staff that I would like to attend a session and spend an afternoon and go through the site.

[Page 1051]

MR. CHARD: Will the minister further commit himself and his department to the health and safety of the residents of Meadowview by guaranteeing the necessary funds for proper mitigation of the problems from this landfill, such as either a diversion trench or a flexible geo-membrane covering?

MR. DOWNE: As the member opposite realizes, the department actually spent quite some time in the last period of weeks visiting and working with the community to find solutions. I am not in a position to undertake any financial commitment at this point in time until we find out how the whole area is being dealt with by the municipality, the province and the Department of the Environment. I would like to inform members of the House that the tire piles will be moved out, starting either this week or early next week, that the clean-up of the site is under way. There are methane detection units that will be implemented in structures that are currently there. Other structures that are not essential will be torn down. We are working with our Department of the Environment, Department of Labour and other jurisdictions to make sure that the concerns of the residents in that area are looked after.

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


MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. There are a number of communities in this province which would be considered remote, remote geographically or because of the highway infrastructure. I would ask the minister to explain to me and particularly to the residents of Long Island and Brier Island what strategy is in place to ensure that people who are geographically remote are provided access to quality health care on the same level that is available to other areas.

HON. JAMES SMITH: I think that is a very important issue. It is one that faces many parts of Nova Scotia and any province, particularly we are a little bit better off than some other provinces, such as Manitoba and Saskatchewan, of similar populations.

I think that there are differences. Not everyone can be next door to a QE II. So there are differences, based more on a primary care model. That is what we are moving toward to give accessibility within communities, not only with physicians, but with nurses and social workers as well. We are actively moving to a primary care model but particularly we have brought in programs for doctors in remote areas to receive extra money for being on call on weekends and nights and those types of initiatives. We have several programs to do that. I do not want to take the time during Question Period. I will be happy to discuss this with the member at a later time.

MR. BALSER: The Minister of Health did indicate the provisions of doctors to remote communities. In the situation of Long Island and Brier Island, they were without a physician for two years. One was finally retained after an extensive search. The person was in place less

[Page 1052]

than a year and they are back again, 1,200 residents on an island, two hours away from the next closest regional hospital, from having a physician. What strategy is in place to provide physicians to remote areas?

DR. SMITH: This is a very important issue of physician recruitment for very isolated communities. For years there have been extra monies as incentive for persons going in there. In fact, a classmate of mine actually had worked in that particular area for a period of time. It is very difficult to dictate where physicians in fact will practise. I think the community can play a role. We have five or six programs that would encourage physicians to go into those types of communities but it is a difficult issue. We are looking at a primary care model where nurse practitioners and other particular health team workers could work in communities like that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis, you have about 50 seconds.

MR. BALSER: First of all, there is a problem with geography; secondly, there is no plan to ensure a physician is there; and the third problem specific to Long and Brier Islands is that they have an ambulance service, it is one of three that is remaining in private hands and there is a great deal of uncertainty about how that will be brought to resolution, whether it is to be taken over or whether it will be a private provider. The residents of Long and Brier Islands need some comfort to know that they will have this ambulance service. Is there any time line for the resolution of that particular problem?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I will try to be brief. There is a plan in Nova Scotia of health care providers for physicians. The ambulances have worked, this has been a very effective world-class system that has been in place and I would assure the residents in his particular community that regardless of what, even the private side I know are doing better than they had previously.

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


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.

[Page 1053]

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I had originally intended to call Resolution No. 2 on national unity at this time but the Premier has been delayed. So we talked it over with the other House Leaders and they are agreeable that we would go to the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply and I believe that the honourable member for Cumberland South has the floor.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South, you have about 20 minutes, I think, remaining. I will just have to check that out, probably less than 20 minutes, let's make it 17 minutes.

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I guess when I last left off last night I was speaking about Parrsboro and the health care situation in Parrsboro and also in regard to Cumberland County. Again, I want to mention about the ambulance situation in Cumberland County. At one point in Cumberland County there was somewhere in the vicinity of eight ambulances representing the area of Cumberland South and at this point in time, Mr. Minister, there is somewhere around half that many.

We see the Town of Parrsboro with one ambulance stationed there and when that vehicle is busy in another area with regard to an emergency, a new ambulance is dispatched from the Town of Springhill to cover off. That, in good weather and on good roads, Mr. Speaker, is 40 minutes away. I guess my question is, if there were two emergencies simultaneously with one vehicle, what would happen, what would take priority?

Mr. Speaker, Parrsboro has to be considered for at least two observation beds for their medical centre. They were proud, one time, of the services offered at their hospital and they have seen that hospital, in fact, turned into a nursing home. A doctor at this point is not even able to keep a patient in overnight. It is not acceptable and they require, like I say, at least two observation beds. This would not only return confidence and hope to the community but would also allow the doctors to provide the service they were trained to give to their patients.

Mr. Speaker, is it not reasonable for local area concerns, such as the ones that I have outlined here, to be addressed by boards which are located in larger centres, which have no idea what it is like to live in these areas? The answer to this problem is simple, let the local residents decide what the needs of their community are and let them work towards implementing those concerns.

Mr. Speaker, I had the pleasure, on June 5th, to attend the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia medal awards ceremony in Truro. There were several young people from my constituency who deserve to be mentioned here today, they were recipients of that medal. They were Jennifer Robarts of Advocate District High, Michael King of Oxford Regional High, Amy McCormack of Oxford Regional High, Falesha George of Parrsboro Regional High, Chris Sterling of Parrsboro Regional High, Jessica Lee Hurley of River Hebert District

[Page 1054]

High, Gary Owen Porter of River Hebert District High, Michael Gilbert of Springhill Junior-Senior High and Amanda Hunter of Springhill Junior-Senior High.

Mr. Speaker, these young individuals certainly are deserving of mention in this House today. With all the negative comments about the youth today, when we see young people like this who will be the leaders of our province tomorrow being recognized as they were, they are very deserving of their names being mentioned in this House.

Mr. Speaker, there are several local groups and organizations who should be acknowledged. I would like to mention, first of all, the River Hebert Legion and the Parrsboro Legion who are sponsors of the Army and Air Force Cadet Programs in their local areas. I would also like to mention the Springhill Legion Branch No. 17 for its continued support through their local cadet program. There are presently 34 cadets in that program. It instills good values, along with the ability to learn many valuable skills. These young people will carry these attitudes throughout their adult life. The Oxford Legion, Branch No. 36, also sponsors the local cadet program.

Mr. Speaker, you may recall I introduced a resolution last week of congratulations to Jennifer Swan who was competing on the national shooting team. Her win will see her travelling to Beazley, England, to represent this country of ours, Canada. This would not have been possible without the Oxford Legion and their support of the cadet corps program.

Mr. Speaker, another person I want to mention is young Kenny Campbell of Oxford. Kenny had the ability to do something that a lot of people in the same situation may not have been able to do. Kenny, through his brave efforts, saved his brother, Kevin, from their burning home. Unfortunately, Kenny's second brother, Keith, perished in the fire. Kenny, as a result of his actions, received burns as well. It is the courage of young people like Kenny who help us to focus on the important issues in life.

Mr. Speaker, another community organization, and one which I have personally had the opportunity to work closely with over the years, is our local fire department. Not only do these volunteers put their lives on the line for us, but they also continually assist the communities through fund-raising efforts which benefit all residents. These firemen, in most cases, are volunteers.

Speaking about volunteers, I would be remiss if I did not mention those who received Provincial Volunteer of the Year Awards. Donna Foster of Springhill, who was recognized for many years of service to the Lillian Albon Animal Shelter. In my 20 years as a police officer, I had a lot of involvement with Donna and I can say that she was on call 24 hours a day. She always took up the cause of the animals and she was available when there was one in need.

[Page 1055]

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to mention Mrs. Ida Lowther of Oxford, who has been involved with many community projects. Other volunteers have been recognized locally for their contributions to their communities. This list includes Dora Bowden of Port Greville; Millie Smith of Southhampton; and Kathy Redmond of the Wentworth Valley.

Mr. Speaker, in Parrsboro, a campaign has been underway to provide the community with artificial ice, as only natural ice is presently available in that community. Through the efforts of campaign chairperson, Jeannie Morris, many organizations have come together to ensure this happens in the community. Up until now, the community of Parrsboro's young hockey players have not been able to take full advantage of the Cumberland County minor hockey system. With the artificial ice being installed now, this community can become a full partner. This group is to be commended for their fund-raising efforts when there are so many worthy causes that are canvassing our communities for assistance at this time.

Mr. Speaker, another group to be congratulated is the Age of Sail Museum at Port Greville. This small community continues to amaze me as they hold fund-raisers of all types to ensure their heritage is maintained through their museum. They have been working on a project which is all set to welcome home the Port Greville lighthouse. This lighthouse was moved from its former location overlooking the Port Greville shipyard in 1980. From here it went to the Canadian Coast Guard College in Sydney. With the efforts of the group, the volunteers made up their minds for the return of this piece of their history and they made it happen. I am proud to say this past week saw the return of that lighthouse to its original home at Port Greville.

Mr. Speaker, since the election in March I have had the opportunity to represent the people of Cumberland South. I have heard a lot of their concerns being addressed by different groups and different organizations as being not true, or not sincere, or myths. When a community has seen its hospital lose services and beds, I would suggest that is not a myth. When I have seen the roads, which they could depend on at one time to travel on safely, deteriorate to the situation they are in today, again, I suggest this is not a myth. If anyone would feel that way I would welcome them to come to Cumberland County and in particular, Cumberland South to view those roads and view our hospitals and decide for themselves whether the people are sincere about what they are saying to me as their representative and to this government.

[1:45 p.m.]

I could talk a lot longer about the people in the communities of Cumberland South but in closing I would like to say I will always remember the good people who sent me here to speak on their behalf. It is their voices I want heard and not my own. My hope is that we can put Party politics behind us and put the people of Nova Scotia first. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 1056]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured and pleased to stand here today to talk about some of the issues facing Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury and its constituents. But first of all I would be remiss, Mr. Speaker, if I did not extend to you on behalf of the constituents of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury our congratulations on your election as Speaker and also to the new Deputy Speaker. Also, if you would pass on to Their Excellencies, the Lieutenant Governor and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. James Kinley, greetings from the constituents of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

I want to personally thank the constituents of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury who supported me during the last election campaign and it is indeed an honour to serve such a wide and diverse constituency. I would be remiss also if I didn't pay special tribute to my election team. We were very pleased with the election victory which was even throughout the constituency and like other members, we have to acknowledge the contribution of our families as part of our election campaign committee. To my wife, Judy, daughters Stacey, Jacqueline and Tammy and my son Michael, without your continuing support I think the decision to run would not have been as easy. I think all of us know that if we don't have the support of our families, it makes the job of being away from home, being in the House, much more difficult. So, to my family, and I am sure other members would say the same thing, we certainly appreciate your support.

The decision to run a second time was based on the fact that we have a Premier who I believe embodies the qualities of honesty, integrity and leadership and also the fact that the Premier has a vision of where he wants to take Nova Scotia. That vision was evident in the Speech from the Throne. We now have the right Leader for the right time for this province.

Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury has some opportunities but it also has some challenges. I want to mention a few of the challenges facing Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury before we go into the opportunities. Being a resource-sectored constituency, the impact of those resources is direct on the constituents. With the downturn of the fisheries since the cod moratorium and particularly over the last couple of years in which the lobster fishery has been less than acceptable, it certainly has caused a great deal of strain on our coastal communities and on those who earn their livelihood from the sea. However, opportunities such as aquaculture are being explored throughout the constituency.

Recently in the news - and it has been a topic of debate in the House - were the efforts of two of the communities that I represent to secure shrimp quotas. I think it is public record that I did not agree with the decision of the federal minister and I have been working closely with our provincial minister to explore other options. We met as late as Monday with one of the groups and will continue to work with those groups to explore options. I believe that the shrimp fishery is a Canadian resource and that we as Nova Scotians should receive our fair

[Page 1057]

share as well as other provinces. I will continue to say that and impress that on our federal counterparts.

The forest provides both opportunities and challenges; challenges put forward by the tussock moth which we responded to with our spray program. I have received a large number of letters from constituents who are involved in the Christmas Tree industry, those who are involved in forestry throughout Guysborough County and the Inverness area and they certainly support the actions of the minister and I want to congratulate him for being proactive in dealing with this potential crisis that may affect the industry.

I think I would be remiss if I didn't take a few moments to talk to you about two of the most exciting projects that have happened in the area of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. I had the opportunity to go to Stora on Friday, two weeks ago, to attend the official opening of the PM2 paper machine. What was evident as I walked through the building, spoke to the employees, was the pride that they had as Nova Scotians, to say to the rest of the world that the labour and construction people in Cape Breton and particularly in the Port Hawkesbury area can build one of the world's largest, fastest and most productive paper machines, which shows that we as Nova Scotians can compete with anyone else in the world in producing a quality product on time. I do believe that speaks highly not only of Nova Scotians but of the hundreds of Cape Bretoners who were part of that project. (Applause)

The other thing I sensed as I went through the building and spoke to the workers was the pride they had that the local staff from Stora were able to transfer their skills and energy to the new PM2 machine, showing that Nova Scotians again are able to compete and produce a quality product. Stora has been a major player in the economy of eastern Nova Scotia and has been a very responsible corporate citizen. Wherever you travel throughout the constituency, you can find out about Stora's participation in various projects.

The second exciting project, which spans all of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury is the Sable Offshore Energy Project. I want to congratulate the Premier in his second round of negotiations in achieving what is known as the by-pass options. Nova Scotians know that the Premier was able to negotiate a preferential deal for Nova Scotia that gives us a 20 per cent advantage over other purchasers of natural gas. That indeed is a major accomplishment. But in the Goldboro area, the Premier was also able to negotiate what is called the by-pass option. This will mean that people in the Goldboro area will be able to buy gas directly from the pipeline at a reduced rate. The Guysborough Regional Development Authority has estimated that this will Goldboro area at an approximately 37 per cent advantage over any other purchaser of natural gas in Atlantic Canada. This is an ace card that the Premier has been able to deliver to Guysborough County and on behalf of the residents, I say, well done, Mr. Premier. (Applause)

[Page 1058]

This has produced a great deal of energy for potential economic growth in Guysborough County. The local municipal council, working with our Department of Natural Resources, has established a 500 acre industrial park. That industrial park is being built adjacent to the gas plant site. There have already been expressions of interest given, and this will enable further economic development to happen in that area. The RDA is working closely with the proponents and I am pleased to report that even the most recent hiring by the security firm that secured the job for the Sable site has resulted in eight out of the eight positions going to people from Guysborough County, and that's what we want to see happening with this project. That's a very positive move.

The other thing that's important is that the Premier was able to secure a commitment for a lateral to go to Cape Breton. That is going to have significant importance for the Port Hawkesbury, Strait area and also for the Malford Industrial Park site. As you are aware, the Province of Nova Scotia has a lease to an industrial park site there in the size of 14,000 acres. As the lateral passes through that site, there will be a take-off gate which will enable gas to be available to any of the industries that locate at the Malford site. This will have a significant impact to the development of that site. Also, this will have a significant impact to development of the Strait area as a super-port.

We often hear about the importance of Halifax and what it has to offer in the shipping industry, but I will say here proudly, the Strait of Canso is one of the deepest ports in North America, it is an ice-free port that probably has the greatest potential of any port in eastern North America. Why can I stand and say that with a great deal of confidence? Many of the ports throughout North America do not have land for future development. Many of the ports in North America do not have the deep water that the Strait of Canso has and many of the ports will not have the access to natural gas as this area will have. Presently, they have Stora located in Richmond County. We have major companies already onsite in that area. We have wharf facilities in Mulgrave which are some of the deepest facilities in the world.

I have been asked to adjourn at this time so with the wish of the House, I would move that we adjourn this debate and resume at a later date.

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, I thank you for your indulgence earlier. I would like now to call Resolution No. 2.

[Page 1059]

Res. No. 2, re National Unity: Calgary Declaration - Endorsement - notice given May 22/98 - (The Premier)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier. (Applause)

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I rise in this House today to speak on an issue of importance to every Nova Scotian and every Canadian, an issue which I personally feel very strongly about. This is the issue of national unity and more specifically, the resolution drafted by this Legislature's all-Party Select Committee on National Unity.

Mr. Speaker, when I grew up in Cape Breton, national unity wasn't something that was debated or discussed around our dining table. As students at the local elementary school, the closest we came to a debate on national unity was arguing about the skill of the Montreal Canadiens versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. Not much of an argument anymore.

By the time I entered politics, things had changed. I paid close attention to events in Quebec. I immersed myself in taking French lessons and I learned that the words national unity had a far deeper meaning than the old time hockey rivalry. Today, what family in this province hasn't discussed what it is to be Canadian and the importance of keeping our country strong and unified. Certainly it is something I have discussed with my children around the kitchen table. It is a topic my son and daughter have covered in the classroom. It has been the subject of many homework assignments and school reports. Truly, it is a topic of importance to all Canadians.

But what defines a country, what is a nation? In 1882 in a lecture at the Sorbonne, Ernst Renan said, "A nation is a soul . . . two things . . . constitute this . . . one lies in the past, the other in the present. Human beings . . . are not made overnight. The nation, like the individual, is the culmination of a long history of effort, of sacrifice and of devotion. In the present, however, it amounts to a tangible fact, which is consensus and the clearly expressed desire to pursue a common life. The existence of a nation is . . . a daily plebiscite, just as individual existence is a perpetual affirmation of life.". If that is the definition, then Canada most certainly is a nation.

Yet today more than 100 years later, we are still asking ourselves that important question, specifically, what constitutes this country we are so fortunate to call home? What defines Canada? That is the question the Premiers of nine provinces and Leaders of two territories sat down to answer in Calgary on September 14, 1997. Their goal was to come up with a vision of Canada that all Canadians should feel at home with. The result has become known as the Calgary Declaration, seven points that define a clear and common vision of our country and the Declaration's impact on native rights was addressed in a framework for discussion drafted by several Aboriginal leaders who met in Winnipeg last November.

[Page 1060]

To find out how Canadians felt about both documents, each province set about gathering public input. Here, in Nova Scotia, that took the form of a Select Committee on National Unity, our first official venture in all-Party cooperation. The committee toured the province in the depths of winter, visiting Halifax, Sydney, Port Hawkesbury, Truro, Kentville, Yarmouth, Bridgewater, Dartmouth and Pointe de l'Eglise from December 16th to January 21st.

[2:00 p.m.]

I would like to thank that committee, chaired by Eleanor Norrie, for the thoughtful, thorough way that they captured Nova Scotians' views on national unity in both their report and resolution. Each and every member deserves our recognition and our appreciation for the good work that they did on behalf of this province. So, too, do the people who braved the elements and came to the public hearings.

The response from Nova Scotians was great. The number and diversity of participants was outstanding. Boy Scouts, veterans, immigrants, First Nations, Acadians, high school history students and many others came to these hearings. They spoke with passion and eloquence about the Declaration and about their country. A total of 136 presentations were made. Many more Nova Scotians faxed, phoned, mailed and e-mailed their views on the Declaration.

In all, 385 people responded. People like Michael Janael in Truro told about how his grandfather came from Lebanon. He said he did not come to be Lebanese, he came because he heard that Canada was a wonderful and tolerant country. People like John Nause in Yarmouth talked about how one of his students, inspired by the trip to the Terry Fox Centre and a friendship with a student from Rimouski, voluntarily wrote an essay on the importance of preserving the Canada that we know and the Canada that we have. People like Elizabeth MacKenzie came without prepared presentations, but stood up and said that if she did not come forward and speak she was not going to be able to sleep that night.

While stories and comments varied, the end result was clear, a resounding endorsement of the seven statements in the Calgary Declaration.

Point one - all Canadians are equal and have rights protected by law. Many times the committee heard that governments and Canadians must work as hard as possible to ensure equality of opportunity, especially where it does not currently exist. We are committed to building a province where every individual can reach his or her full potential. We feel in this Legislature, I know, very strongly about this.

Point two - all provinces, while diverse in their characteristics, have equality of status. Nova Scotians agreed that all provinces should participate as equals in the affairs of this nation. However, they warned that equality of status should not mean that have and have not

[Page 1061]

provinces are treated as if they have the same needs. That would lead to less, not more, equality. For this reason, our resolution notes that the federal government must continue to address the different circumstances and needs of all provinces, and to ensure comparable public services across Canada.

Point three - Nova Scotians agreed that Canada's strengths include our diversity, tolerance, and equality of opportunity. In fact, in 1968, Pierre Elliot Trudeau said the great differences of geography, history and economics within our country have produced a rich diversity of temperament, viewpoint and culture. Truly, that diversity defines our country and makes it strong.

Point four - Canada's diversity includes Aboriginal peoples and their cultures, the vitality of the English and French languages, and multicultural Canadians from all over the world. Within the Declaration, Mi'kmaq representatives objected to the words which implied that the Aboriginal role in Canada's diversity was a gift. The Chairman of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, who is Mi'kmaq, put it well when she said, "We are not simply Canada's gift of diversity, but part of the foundation of this country, and must be respected.". In response, our committee recommended the word "gift" be struck from the statement - as was recommended in other provinces.

Je veux remercier les acadiens et les acadiennes qui ont assistés aux séances de notre comité. Notre comité a prit à coeur leur avis que la culture acadienne n'est pas simplement une culture francophone hors Québec, mais une culture vivante et unique en soi, et, je dois ajouter, une culture dont nous sommes tous très fiers.

Point five dealt with the unique character of Quebec society, a uniqueness based on its French-speaking majority, its culture and tradition of civil law. Although there was some debate about this clause, most Nova Scotians recognized that this statement expressed the necessary balance between diversity and equality, which underlies the unity of Canada.

Je crois que le message de solidarité que la Déclaration de Calgary envoie aux concitoyens et concitoyennes au Québec est inestimable. En appuyant la Déclaration, nous, vos concitoyens et concitoyennes en Nouvelle-Écosse, reconnaissons - en tous les sens de ce mot - votre droit de vivre en français, de maintenir votre culture, parce que vos droits et votre culture nous sont chers comme une partie essentielle de ce pays qui est le foyer de nous tous : le Canada.

Point six - ultimately the Canadian balance is maintained by the clause which states that if one province is offered new constitutional powers, these powers should be available to all provinces. Some Nova Scotians advised that this should not be pushed so far as to threaten the federal government's role in ensuring that Canadians everywhere can expect comparable public services.

[Page 1062]

This is a vast country and there are many diverse conditions which need diverse responses. But Nova Scotians believe that one of the rights of Canadian citizenship is the ability to expect that generally, there will be a common level of services from coast to coast. Otherwise, we are threatened with becoming several different countries - in fact, if not in name.

That's why Nova Scotians expect their governments to work together, especially in the delivery of social programs, which is where governments most frequently touch people's lives. That is the issue at the heart of the final point, point seven, of the Calgary Declaration.

The constitution gives provinces major responsibilities for social programs, but ensures that the federal government has the most revenue resources. So, our governments must work together. And Nova Scotians believe there is a role for the federal government in ensuring that all provinces have the resources to maintain comparable programs. Programs like equalization take us some of the way there, but fiscal arrangements must be flexible enough to cover different social and economic conditions.

Overall, the seven points that make up the Calgary Declaration help us define our country and our future.

Each of us in this room has our own definition of what it means to be a Canadian. It might be written in the words of Lesley Choyce or Silver Donald Cameron describing a feature of our land and home. It might be overheard in arguments of a young brother and sister playing in their backyard and switching without effort between English and French. It might be seen in the beauty of the Cabot Trail, the Bluenose in the harbour, or a million other views that make up our own special piece of Canada, but whatever our definition is, it is ours. It is something we must protect and preserve. It is something we must pass to our children and our grandchildren.

Today is an historic day. Nova Scotia is the last province or territory to vote on the Calgary Declaration. All other provinces and territories have endorsed the Declaration's vision of Canada. When this House says yes to the Calgary Declaration, we will be confirming the message to our fellow citizens in Quebec that their fellow citizens from coast to coast to coast, share a vision of this country which respects equality and diversity, which appreciates that there are many different ways of being a Canadian. This is our vision, too, the vision that comes to us from our proud heritage as Nova Scotians. A political scientist once said Canada is not a starting point, it is a goal. The Calgary Declaration, the consultations in the provinces and territories, the words of Nova Scotians, our select committee's report, this resolution, they are all first steps toward that goal. They are steps on a road to a more united Canada. Mr. Speaker, let's move forward together. Thank you very much. (Applause)

[Page 1063]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak for a few moments in support of the resolution that is now before the House. I have certainly been pleased to be a part, as I know all members have, of establishing the select committee. I want to, first of all, thank the members of this House from all Parties who participated in the select committee and who took time to travel the province and to listen to Nova Scotians, to patiently and with a great deal of sincerity participate with Nova Scotians in discussion and debate around this important question of national unity.

Mr. Speaker, we actually have a bit of history in this province, on all-Party cooperation, on matters relating to national unity, of course, going back to I believe 1991-92, when the three Party Leaders at the time, Don Cameron, Vince MacLean and Alexa McDonough, participated together at many different levels in the national debates and the provincial debates around Meech Lake and, of course, then Charlottetown. Certainly the Leaders today felt somewhat compelled to follow along with that tradition. It is a positive and a constructive tradition and it is one that we should try to follow again in the future.

Clearly the whole question of national unity is one that, I hate to say the "c" word, the constitutional word, but I guess maybe let me say that the whole question of constitutional change in the country, trying to find a resolve to that whole question, has been something that has confounded political Leaders in this country for nigh on a decade. The people of this country I think have sent a clear message to the political leadership in this country, that they do not want to, at this particular point in time, deal with constitutional change. They don't want to get bogged down; what people seem to represent as getting bogged down in the details, the legalistic details, as a former member of this House, the lawyerish detail around the constitution. What Canadians, and increasingly we heard this from Nova Scotians, what they want to talk about is what they love about this country, what they appreciate about this country, what they want to see maintained, restored and improved.

[2:15 p.m.]

That's, I think, where we're at right now, and I must commend the Leaders who participated in the development of this Declaration in Calgary, because I think it does very much respond to that sentiment that's out there in the country. The Declaration says quite clearly that we recognize the need, as the political leadership in this country, to have a discussion with our constituents about what it means to have a country like Canada, and that what we want to do is we want to put a framework around that discussion in order to form the basis, perhaps, of future discussions; discussions that maybe future generations want to participate in.

[Page 1064]

As I said, I commend and appreciate the commitment made back in September 1997, when the nine Premiers and the two territorial government Leaders agreed to submit the Framework for Discussion on Canadian unity, commonly known as the Calgary Declaration, to the citizens of their respective jurisdictions, for consideration of comment. I think that recognition of the need for dialogue and the need to participate in a debate and a discussion on the basis of certain principles, and the Premier, in his discussion, outlined those principles, the seven points upon which our resolution is debated. That openness and willingness to participate in a dialogue, I think, allowed the Premiers the leadership to respond in an extremely positive and constructive way to the response by the Aboriginal leadership in the country, through the framework of principles for discussion of relationships.

Leaders of the five national Aboriginal organizations, who agreed that this would form part of the discussion in the various jurisdictions, and of course, the committee heard quite clearly from the Mi'kmaq that recognition of Canada's diversity must not negate the Aboriginal people's unique place in Canada, affirmed in treaties and the Constitution, as they said, by treating that diversity as a gift which was in the initial wording of the resolution. The committee agreed with that, and recommended that the words, gift of, be deleted from the English language version, which I think was very constructive and recognized the important and the historic role of the Aboriginal community in this province and in this country.

So too did the community respond in a positive way to the representations by the Acadian community. The Nova Scotians told the committee that the thriving Acadian culture, within the larger provincial community, can be viewed as an enviable model of two cultures living side by side, and the committee certainly agreed with that, and I agree with that, and think that it is extremely positive.

I thank the committee. I want to, of course, thank those Nova Scotians who participated and those Nova Scotians who may not have formally participated by appearing before the committee, or by forwarding representation to the committee by phone, fax or letter, but who participated by discussing it, by discussing the whole issue of Canadian unity within their families, their workplaces, their communities, because I know that a number did, and a number of people spoke to me in my travels throughout the province about what they felt about Canadian unity. One of the things that really came through for me was how committed people are to this country here in Nova Scotia, how committed they are to national unity, but how they see national unity as being more than a constitutional document. That is why there was pressure within this country not to get into a constitutional or a lawyer-like discussion of the merits of this issue but to talk about principles and to talk about what it means to be a part of this national union.

Was the whole question of the economy, the whole question of national programs, social programs that many people feel bind this country together and make this country unique, make this country special, make this country what people are so proud of and so proud to call home? We talk, of course, of Medicare and our national health care program

[Page 1065]

that some feel has been under some considerable stress, some considerable pressure over the past 10 to 15 years and are fighting hard to try to protect and try to restore, try to enhance because it is a part of their community, but it is also a part of their country. It is part of the identity of what makes this country special. I heard that from many Nova Scotians when they discussed the whole question of national unity.

The whole issue of a strong central government and how that central government relates to the various provinces. You will note the clause that was put in our resolution says that: "AND WHEREAS Nova Scotians consider that, in the Canadian federation, the federal government must continue to be able to address the diverse circumstances and needs of all the provinces, and to ensure comparable public services across Canada;".

I am proud to see that clause in here, that very much recognizes and represents a strong feeling by Nova Scotians, a strong concern by Nova Scotians that in this whole theoretical debate about the Constitution and about national unity that we forget and that maybe the leadership over the years has forgotten what it means to people in our communities and on the ground here in Nova Scotia to be part of this country. People see, for example, the decisions that have been made over the past number of years that have had a detrimental impact on the Province of Nova Scotia. They begin to see that maybe the level of health care that is being delivered in this province is different than the level of health care that is delivered in other provinces and that the ability to realize your economic potential is different here in Nova Scotia than it is in other jurisdictions in this country. People wonder if that is fair.

If we are part of a national union, then we should recognize, as did the founders of Confederation, that economic policy and social policy is necessary to build the whole country and not just certain parts of the country. We know that Nova Scotia, for example, back when this country was first formed, was an economic powerhouse in this nation. As a result, I would suggest, of changing economic times but also of very deliberate economic policies, the economy in Nova Scotia changed. As a result of clear policy directions by the central government, the economy in Nova Scotia changed and some would say suffered. People, I think, believe, and I would agree, that for us to be part of the national union it is important that the national union recognize the needs, the desires and the aspirations of people in every province including, of course, the people here in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker.

Again, I say that I think when people talk about the whole question of national unity and think about the role of government in this federation that they think, and I often have suggested to people I think the way you best rate or you can judge a government is in their ability to improve and to enhance the opportunities for young people in our province and in our country, Mr. Speaker, and the ability of governments to do that, to carry out that role is integral in whether or not we are able to maintain the fabric of this country as much as anything that can be printed, that can be written down on a piece of paper.

[Page 1066]

So, Mr. Speaker, I have certainly enjoyed going through this report and I enjoyed listening to the reports of Nova Scotians, to this committee, who responded about what this issue means to them. Very heartfelt submissions, not all of them favourable by any stretch of the imagination, but this is a democracy, and surely we recognize that we are not all going to have the same understanding of where we are going to go forward, but I think, as the committee indicates and the report indicates, the vast majority of those people who responded in various ways support the Calgary Declaration and support their Legislature and their legislators reaffirming or affirming their support for this Declaration in trying to establish a positive and constructive vision for our future.

The Premier went through the seven points of the Calgary Declaration and I think all of them are extremely important, but I want to underline, perhaps, the last one. It has to do with the role of governments. It says: "Canadians want their governments to work cooperatively and with flexibility to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the federation." - very much, I think, represent the desires and some of the sentiments that I was referring to, Mr. Speaker - "Canadians want their governments to work together particularly in the delivery of their social programs. Provinces and territories renew their commitment to work in partnership with the Government of Canada to best serve the needs of Canadians.".

Mr. Speaker, I think that should be the goal of this Legislature, I think that should be the goal of all members here, that we listen to and we respond to the desires and to the needs of the people in this province and that we keep in mind, at the forefront, whenever we take to our feet and take our position here and participate in debate in this Legislature.

I want to say on behalf of the New Democratic Party caucus, Mr. Speaker, that I appreciate the work done by my caucus colleague, of course, John Holm, the senior sage of our caucus who has . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Sober thought.

MR. CHISHOLM: I didn't want to talk about sober, the one with sober thought. Certainly I know that my colleagues appreciated the role that the member for Sackville-Cobequid played on this committee. As I said earlier, I, too, thank all members who participated on this committee.

I think that the report that was put together is a good report. It makes a constructive representation, I think, of the hearings and of the sentiments of Nova Scotians to have members of this Legislature reaffirm their support with a couple of notable additions to the resolution and to send this forward with our hope and desire that governments at the federal, provincial and municipal level work together in order to best represent the interests of all Canadians and all Nova Scotians. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 1067]

[2:30 p.m.]

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

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join in the debate on the resolution on the framework of Canadian unity, the Calgary Declaration. I, too, congratulate the members of the committee, our own two committee members, the member for Hants West who now sits in the Speaker's Chair and the member for Cumberland North. I think the wisdom of working together, as demonstrated by this committee, is a lesson that perhaps will eventually infiltrate into this House of Assembly.

Every day that this Legislature meets, we introduce dozens of resolutions. Many of them are important resolutions that speak to the need to address urgent issues or that celebrate the special achievements of Nova Scotians. But no resolution is as important as the one we are addressing here today, because today we are addressing the very future of our country.

Despite the significance of this resolution, the vast majority of Nova Scotians are going about their daily business oblivious to what we are discussing. This is not a criticism, it is simply an observation. The irony is that if we fail again in expressing our commitment to each other as Canadians and if we fail again in understanding and making reasonable accommodations for our differences, that we will likely fail as a country and that will have a profound effect on our province and a direct impact on the daily lives of all Nova Scotians.

Many Canadians mistakenly believe that this resolution speaks to the needs of Quebec. It doesn't; it speaks to the needs of Canada, a Canada that includes Quebec. It speaks to the needs of all provinces, including Nova Scotia. Previous efforts to resolve the long-standing issues that have threatened our national unity, Meech Lake and the Charlottetown Accord, fell short of meeting the expectations of Nova Scotians. This time the majority of Canadians who came forward said this time you have got it right.

As legislators we are once again, as we were with the Charlottetown Accord, obligated to follow the will of the majority of Canadians, a healthy majority who have now given us two thumbs up to the essence of our country as expressed in the resolution that we debate here today. In passing this resolution today, Nova Scotia will reaffirm its commitment to Canada and to each and every one of its citizens.

Many nations would have given up by now. But Canadians from coast to coast stubbornly refuse to give up on what they know in their hearts is the greatest country in the world. And we are the greatest country in the world, not because of our military might, not because of our political or economic clout on the world stage, but because we are tolerant and compassionate, because those that have, share with those that have not, because we accept and make accommodations for our differences. These are the things that help define

[Page 1068]

us as Canadians, that make Canada the envy of nations around the world. These are the things we are working to preserve in endorsing this resolution.

I am confident in saying that every member of this House shares that conviction and that every member of this House shares the commitment to keep Canada strong, united and seamless. I am also confident in saying that no matter what the political scene in Quebec, this resolution sends a strong message to the people of Quebec. It tells Quebecers that the people of English-speaking Canada know they are an integral, vital and equal participant in our federation. It tells Quebecers that Canadians recognize their unique culture, language and tradition of civil law.

We came perilously close to losing Canada as we know it in the last Quebec Referendum. The results of the last vote were too close for comfort. Our narrow victory as a country made it clear that we cannot take a united Canada for granted and that we all have to work harder to keep it together. That is why nine provinces and two territorial governments have endorsed the Calgary Declaration which is the basis of our discussions today. Like most Nova Scotians, I do not make a distinction between being Nova Scotian and being Canadian. I am proud to be both. I am also pleased and proud to reaffirm my commitment to a Nova Scotia as a full and equal partner in a strong, united and seamless Canada. Merci. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, today it is an honour to participate in a debate of importance to all Nova Scotians and to all Canadians. The Nova Scotia Legislature is not alone in debating the Calgary Declaration, written by nine of Canada's Premiers and the two territorial Leaders. It has been debated and is still being scrutinized in other provincial Legislative Assemblies. These debates, I hope, will bring more light on a complex issue that all Canadians want resolved once and for all. It is not a simple matter. If there was an easy solution to national unity, it would have been applied long ago.

Mr. Speaker, I was fortunate to be able to attend some of the hearings on the Calgary Declaration held in December across this province. I heard opinions expressing views which spread out from both ends of the opinion spectrum. The most common view was, we are talking unity again. Some Nova Scotians wanted more rigidity while others wanted more flexibility. Some sidestepped the issues and touched on social and economic imperatives. Some wanted a stronger central government, others demanded more decentralization. But there were areas of common ground among those participating in these hearings.

M. le président, la majorité des gens qui se sont exprimés aux séances de consultations souhaite que le Québec fasse parties du Canada.

[Page 1069]

Mr. Speaker, everyone saw the benefits of a solid unified country. All agreed we can continue to build a strong Canada. Most Nova Scotians present at the hearings wanted Quebec to be included in the building process. This is a positive development. Despite the long debate on national unity in this country, one that might tire another nation, Nova Scotians want to build a strong Canada that includes Quebec.

Mr. Speaker, as Minister responsible for Acadian Affairs, I have the opportunity to represent Nova Scotians of French heritage and I am most encouraged by the findings of the Nova Scotia hearings. Of course, the central theme during the hearings was the place and the role of one province within Canada. That province, Quebec, was not represented in Calgary when Leaders of nine provinces and the territories drafted a document now known as the Calgary Declaration.

During the hearings, I heard many Nova Scotians express the need to get closer to the Quebec reality. We need a closer dialogue, intense negotiations and a better rapport between Quebec and the other provinces. The hard part is how. Maybe we have to start learning more about one another. I think that this is the first step in mutual understanding. There are lots of ways in which this Assembly can enter the debate on national unity. If we want a chance to get closer and work hand in hand in building a better Canada, let us look at all the different fabrics of our country.

As one of the world's best countries to live in, Canada cannot be taken for granted by Canadians. We have to start to look at the different aspects of this great nation. As a nation we have to keep coping with a changing world market. Unity is important in a world of increased competition, lower margins and continuing consolidation.

Nova Scotia as a province has a rich past of its own, along with a unique history, tradition and heritage. Therefore, its relationships with the other provinces and with the federal government reflect a unique past. One characteristic of our province was the presence of the Mi'kmaq people, long before the European settlers. Here in Nova Scotia is where the French made their first settlement in North America at Port Royal in 1604. Waves of European settlers and immigrants from around the world followed through the centuries.

Each province has its trademark, its own particular rich heritage and traditions. As I said, there are lots of ways to enter the debate on national unity. I feel that at the outset we have to engage in better networking and cooperation between the provinces and between the provinces and the federal government. I feel that this is part of the solution we seek. Our challenge as a nation and as a province is to develop the ability to rapidly respond to a constantly changing world and country. This has become the first condition for growth and progress.

[Page 1070]

There are two important realities that we sometimes fail to appreciate as a nation. Language and culture both play an important role in defining who we are. As we face the future together, we have to begin an open dialogue, one which includes the concepts of language and culture. Language and culture have to be looked at beyond emotions and applied in our everyday lives. A tremendous effort has been deployed in recent years to offer French programs in the public school system in Nova Scotia. I believe we are on the right track, Mr. Speaker.

Two languages and eventually more than two will strengthen not only the economic backbone of our province but will help our citizens to be open to different cultures of the world. We have an obligation to the younger generation of Nova Scotians to take Nova Scotia far beyond its boundaries. Culture, by definition, is elusive, yet implicit and often taken for granted. An entire debate could focus on this theme alone. We must realize that culture determines one's sense of being. It is a question of identity and of heritage. It is, of course, at the heart of the unity debate. There are definite mutual benefits in learning more of the rules that govern the day-to-day operations and the core set of assumptions in our respective provinces and in Canada as a whole.

M. le président, un dialogue plus soutenu et des rapports mieux articulés entre les provinces alimentés par un respect mutuel de nos différences favoriseraient le cheminement de l'unité nationale.

[2:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, a dialogue with our neighbouring provinces and respect for our differences will go a long way toward Canadian unity. Now that we are challenged by a global market, we have to become aware of the major ethnic and national differences around the world. Let us start by understanding a neighbour and sister province, Quebec, that for many years has expressed serious concerns about its survival to the rest of Canada. We need to look at our history to understand the present day. Many dedicated Canadians across this province expressed eloquently what they believe, and what I believe to be a new way of thinking.

We have to stand up for the values we believe in, caring, tolerance, understanding, and social justice. As Sherlock Holmes once remarked to Watson, you see, but you do not observe. In a nutshell, this is the problem most of us face when we reflect on our country. We enjoy the reputation Canada has on the world scene, but we fail to observe all the positive aspects that make our country among the best. Mr. Speaker, permit me to take this opportunity to reaffirm my dedication and commitment to our great nation.

M. le président, permettez-moi de profiter de cette occasion pour réaffirmer mon attachement total envers notre pays.

[Page 1071]

The unity debate following the Calgary Declaration is another occasion for us to realize the many splendid opportunities which lie before us. And together with all the values we have cultivated over the years, we will move with great optimism into the 21st Century as the best country in the world. I hope that with the Calgary Declaration, Canadians will take our country in a fresh new direction. This could be an historic break, and I invite all honourable members of this Assembly to make it so.

I am optimistic and I am confident that we, as parliamentarians of this province, will bring a contribution to the debate on national unity. Our input to the debate will be bolstered by our unified strength expressed in the resolution presently debated in this Legislative Assembly. Our unified support of the resolution formulated by our colleagues from all political stripes sitting on the committee, will send a message from Halifax all across the country.

The tripartite composition of the committee which conducted the hearings and drafted the resolution gives validity to our initiative. It is the position of a province united in its stand for a united Canada. If progress is to be made on national unity, I believe that our approach has to be focused on the issue at hand. We have consulted with the people of Nova Scotia. Our resolution is precise in spelling out, to all Canadians, what Nova Scotians regard as its legitimate provincial and national interests.

I honestly think we have made a step in the right direction. Nova Scotians had an opportunity to have clear eyed understanding of what is at stake in an open consultation process. It is now our responsibility to make sure that this Assembly speaks with a united voice on the unity issue. In doing so, I am confident that we will reflect the will of the majority of Nova Scotians.

The hearings across the province were conducted with proper decorum. Those who presented their views before the committee were treated with respect and dignity. I am convinced that the exercise permitted the people of Nova Scotia to express themselves. It also provided an excellent opportunity for many to listen to the views of others. It was indeed a process favouring consultation and education. The tripartite resolution, as worded in the committee's report and hopefully passed in this House, will send a strong signal to all Canadians and will contribute in a significant way toward national unity.

M. le président, je dois rapporter ici le fait que j'ai été impressionné par l'esprit qui semblait régner au sein du comité des parlementaires qui a tenu des séances de consultation à travers la province en décembre 1997.

Mr. Speaker, I must report how impressed I was with the spirit guiding the select committee that conducted hearings across the province in December of 1997.

[Page 1072]

En lisant le rapport final et la résolution que nous débattons présentement dans cette assemblée, M. le président, je suis persuadé que cet exercice de consultation a été une expérience positive pour tous ceux et celles qui ont participé à la démarche.

In reading the final report and the resolution before us, I am convinced that the whole consultation has been a rich and positive experience for all Nova Scotians.

À mon avis, la déclaration de Calgary a crée un nouveau dynamisme. On y voit tolérance et compréhension. On peut y dégager un message positif et ouvert. En somme, la déclaration de Calgary peut être perçue comme une déclaration qui rassemble les canadiens.

I believe that the Calgary Declaration creates a new dynamism. One can see tolerance and comprehension. It is an open and positive message. The Declaration regroups the positive forces engaged to unify Canada.

Je voudrais féliciter les députés des trois partis politiques et l'équipe de fonctionnaires qui les a soutenus pour le formidable travail d'écoute à travers la province et par la suite de rédaction de leur rapport. Ce rapport traduit ce que j'entends dans la population.

I would like to congratulate the MLAs sitting on the committee and the support staff for their great work listening and then writing a report containing the views expressed.

Je dois aussi dire devant cette assemblée, je me sens plutôt soulagé du résultat de l'ensemble de la démarche de consultation.

Le Néo-Écossais ont été nombreux à s'exprimer. Les opinions exprimées lors des consultations étaient variées. Mais en lisant le rapport, on découvre qu'il y a une volonté chez les canadiens et les canadiennes de participer à la préparation d'un avenir meilleur.

L'esprit d'optimisme qui se dégage suite à la déclaration de Calgary semble créer un climat plus calme dans lequel les canadiens et les canadiennes seront mieux en mesure de réfléchir sur la vraie nature de leur pays.

Mr. Speaker, I also should say before this Assembly that I am somewhat relieved by the result of this consultation. Many Nova Scotians have expressed themselves. Opinions varied but the main thrust of what was said carries a public who will look forward to the future. The ideas debated are exciting ideas of tomorrow.

The declaration creates a new optimism, a new climate, calm and serene in which Canadians will be in a better position to reflect on the future of their country.

Merci beaucoup! Thank you very much. (Applause)

[Page 1073]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle on an introduction.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, when I first came to this House in 1984, I was like you said, just a young'un, only 28 years old, much older than the honourable member for Richmond who is only 25. (Interruption) Yes, I am a little bit older. I had the opportunity to draw upon the experience of, as you call them, the battle horses or the war horses that were here. One of those individuals was an individual who is in the west gallery and an individual for whom I have the utmost respect and I think all members who have had the opportunity to meet the honourable Jack MacIsaac know that I speak the truth. He has served this province with the utmost responsibility and courtesy and everyone respects his actions in this House. He is here with his wife, Evelyn, in the west gallery and I would like to introduce them to the House and also offer them our warm generosity. (Applause)

Since I am on my feet, I will recognize also Kate Archibald and Megan Archibald in the gallery. They are, of course, related to the honourable member for Kings North. I would like them to receive the attention of the House also. (Applause)

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I greatly appreciated the tenor of the remarks of the last two speakers. I would like to compliment the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs for their contributions to this debate, both of which impressed me considerably. It is not my intention to seek to address the substance of the Calgary Declaration in the manner that we have just heard because I do not think that anyone could do any better than we have just heard from the honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

I would, however, like to state, as one of those who participated in the work of this committee, that I was very happy to serve on the committee, that we travelled to many parts of the province in the middle of the winter. The presentations that we received demonstrated, in my view, a very high level of interest on the part of our citizens towards these issues.

M. le président, j'étais content de servir au comité de cette assemblée sur l'unité nationale. La présidente de comité, l'honorable Madame Eleanor Norrie, et ses membres ont visitées plusieurs communautés à travers de la province au milieu de l'hiver. Les présentations que notre comité a reçu a démontré un très haut niveau d'intérêt au nom de nos citoyens.

Je veux remercier le Premier Ministre de la Nouvelle-Écosse, l'honorable Russell MacLellan, pour son invitation de servir sur cette comité.

À mon opinion, l'unité nationale c'est la plus importante question au Canada aujourd'hui. Les nations unis considèrent le Canada le meilleur pays du monde pour y demeurer. Nous avons ici le plus des meilleurs: notre qualité de vie au monde; nos

[Page 1074]

programmes sociales; nos diversités en culture; notre système d'éducation; notre système des service sociales; notre système de santé publique; tous sont les plus meilleurs au monde.

Ça sera une tragédie si cette nation sera deviser. Il faut que nous travaillons très fort pour préserver ce qui nous appartient. Si nous travaillons ensembles, je crois que les choses peuvent bien marchés. Je suis fier d'être canadien, je vais faire tous dans mon possible pour préserver notre pays.

Mr. Speaker, what I have just said is that I am very thankful to the Premier for his invitation to have served on this committee. In my opinion, national unity is the most important question in Canada today. The United Nations have considered Canada to be the best country in the world in which to live. We have here the best quality of life anywhere in the world, the best social programs, the best diversity of culture, the best system of education and of social services, of public health.

All of those in this country are the best anywhere in the world. It would be terrible tragedy if this country were to become divided. It is necessary that we work as hard as we can to preserve what we have here. If we work together, I believe that that is possible. I am proud to be a Canadian and I am certainly prepared to do all in my power that is possible to preserve this country.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I want to salute the work of the committee members with which I served and to state that I trust that we did something helpful for our country in the efforts that we undertook. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I certainly welcome the opportunity to stand this afternoon and to say a few words on the report that is before us and on the resolution that is before us for consideration this afternoon. When I say a few words, I do not mean by a few words what I often mean when I stand up to say that, that I am going to talk for an hour.

However, when I say that it's a topic that could fill many hours of debate, or many hours of discussion, on the floor of this House, all worthy debate, all worthy discussion, relating to this House and to Nova Scotians, what we heard from the men and women and the young people from across this province on this issue.

[3:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I'm not going to, this afternoon, try to go through and to pick out what we heard from this individual or this group or that group, rather what I'm going to try to do is talk about feelings, talk about the impression that was left with me, and as I begin, I want to say, and I want to commend those members of the committee and especially, I'll single out

[Page 1075]

the Chairman, Eleanor Norrie, the former member for Truro-Bible Hill. I have no hesitation in saying that, that the former member for Truro-Bible Hill, Eleanor Norrie, certainly did try to ensure that the committee operated in a totally non-partisan way, that we were dealing with the issue of the day, and that was talking about something extremely important to each and every one of us in this country, and to all of our children and to all of our children who are yet to come.

This is not an issue of partisan politics, this is not something upon which you play games. This is something that is crucial, something that is extremely important, and that it touches to the heart of what our very essence is, and that is Canadians. We can talk about what individuals said, and certainly there was some discourse, there was some disagreement with parts of the Declaration. There were many suggestions brought forward.

What did come through loud and clear from the vast majority of people was the sentiment, was a view that we love our country. We love Canada. We are proud Canadians, whether you grew up here in Nova Scotia, whether you are an immigrant to this province, or an immigrant to this country. People love their country. To define it, to say exactly what Canada is or exactly what it means, is a difficult thing to do. It's something that you feel, and despite the fact that we sometimes hear that Canadians don't run around with the patriotic feelings that some others do, what came through loud and clear, through those hearings, and Mr. Speaker, you know, because you were there, you travelled, you drove down the highways of this province in very inclement weather, you drove through snowstorms as did I, you wondered, as did I, would we make it home, or would we make it to some of the places where the meetings were being held. As did those who braved that kind of weather to come out to ensure that they were heard.

These people, everybody who presented or listened, because we had many people who came forward to these meetings who did not give formal presentations, many of them were spontaneous. They were expressing their strong love for this country and their patriotism.

We heard, and I say to the Minister of Education, I can't help but point this out to the Minister of Education, because one of the things that we heard, was a need for Canadians to know more about each other. For us to understand each other, we have to know our language, we have to know our culture, we have to know our history. Through you, Mr. Speaker, I point out to the Minister of Education that there isn't in Nova Scotia, which I think is a mistake, a single Canadian history course required in the high school curriculum program. So, I can't help but push the suggestion, something that's not in the report as such, but something that I think is extremely important if we're going to walk the walk, that we have to try to ensure that our young people have an opportunity to know about our country and our country's history, and our evolution to where we have gotten at the present time.

[Page 1076]

Equality does not mean sameness. We talked about, and we are talking about today, the need to be building and moving forward into the next century, and we are simply the custodians of our nation, to pass it forward. We have a responsibility, in fact we have an obligation, to our citizens to ensure that we as parliamentarians, as members of the House here in Nova Scotia, and with parliamentarians right across this country, that we work together; not that we simply sit back and are satisfied with where we are, but we actually move forward.

I want to commend the Premier, and it is not something that I always do, but I listened with much attention to the Premier's opening remarks. I concur with the Premier's assessment in terms of what he heard, so I am not going to try to repeat that, what was heard and what was reported in the report. I also remember, as the Premier does, of course he is much older than I, but I still remember the discussions - even though I have more grey hair - as a young man on who is better, the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Montreal Canadiens in what some of us called the good old days when there were six teams and we could remember who all the players were.

We did not, in those days, talk about national unity. It is something that now periodically seems to preoccupy our time. It is something that we are constantly, it seems, discussing and debating. That is not necessarily a bad thing because what it does is it forces us to constantly focus upon those things that Canadians value, that Canadians believe in, and not to sit back on our laurels, to take things for granted, to become complacent, because now we know that if we want to continue as a nation, as a strong country, which is enriched by all of its different component parts, that we have to work to build to make our programs stronger.

One of the questions in this resolution is not a constitutional document. It is not written in legalese. There are not definitions for equality. When you want to try to sit down and talk about equality and what that means, that then gets into very difficult issues. That is not attempted here. What is attempted in this resolution is to talk about a vision as it would generally be understood. Those kinds of visions when you are talking about equality, Nova Scotians talked about things, about having a strong Medicare system. They talked about having equality of economic opportunities. They talked about the need to ensure that our young people had equal access to educational and employment opportunities and many other things.

We cannot be complacent and by adopting this resolution I believe we are committing ourselves, not only as a province but as a country to be working to strengthen those kinds of principles, social values, that we in this nation espouse. We are saying that we are not going to be complacent and that this is the best country in the world to live. We are going to continue to make it so and we are going to continue to make it so that all people from all parts of this country are going to want to remain as part of this united country of Canada in a very strong federation.

[Page 1077]

I could go on for quite considerable length. Certainly, I have to say that I was impressed by the number, especially given the time of year and the weather conditions, of presenters. I was also very impressed and I have to say very moved by those who came forward to make the presentations. Some of the most moving presentations were not from those who came forward necessarily intending to make a presentation. They were members who came out to hear the dialogue, to hear what was going on and felt so compelled by what they were hearing that they had to simply get up and come forward and off the cuff make a presentation and very fine presentations indeed they did make, Mr. Speaker.

I want to say in closing that I would urge all members to support the resolution that is before us. I would urge all members of the House, if they have not had a chance to do so, to read the report and Nova Scotians to get a copy of the report and to read its contents because, Mr. Speaker, I believe, in fact, I know, I feel extremely confident, I am one of those optimists that believes our country has a very strong future yet ahead of it.

It is going to be a strong future, I believe, as a united country. It is going to be a country that is not only currently rated by the United Nations to be the best country in the world in which to live, it is a country that I believe with the wealth that it has, particularly of its people, its diversities, its different cultures, it is a wealth that is going to be built upon and it is a country that is going to be even stronger. So I urge all members to vote in support of it and I want also in closing, as I take my seat, to express my thanks to all members of the committee with whom I had the privilege of serving because, indeed, it was one of the more enjoyable experiences that I have had over the years as a member of this House. It was, indeed, a privilege to work with people who were prepared to set aside partisan issues and to be working for what we all know was a common objective and that is to ensure that we are going to be able to pass on to our children, to our grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren a very strong and a united country and with people who are prepared to commit themselves to work to ensure that that probability, in fact, becomes a reality. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the House on the issue of the Report of the Select Committee on National Unity dealing with the Calgary Accord. Mr. Speaker, I want you to know how proud I am to be a Canadian and how proud I am to be a Nova Scotian. Each and every member in this House I am sure feels the same way. It was a privilege to be asked by our Leader and an honour to be accepted by the House to be a member of the Select Committee on National Unity. In my previous travels and career before I became a member of the Legislature last year, I was blessed or had the opportunity to travel this country with various agricultural organizations and get a feel for the people who live in B.C., the people who live in western Canada, the people who live in Quebec, and the people of the Maritimes, and whether it was in the capital city of Vancouver, or the rural setting

[Page 1078]

between Regina and Saskatoon, or whether it is in Winnipeg, people in this country have views about this country.

The wonderful process that took place during the Calgary Accord was that people in those communities across this country decided to have a realistic look at where this country should be going. The document, the Calgary Accord, Mr. Speaker, to me is a framework for discussion. It is not a constitutional change. It is a breath of fresh air or, collectively, Canadians decided to have a look at how they felt about national unity and how they felt about their country, how they felt about their province and its role, and how they felt as individuals. It was with great pleasure to make the rounds of this province, that those same qualities we found in each stop, in each one of those 10 communities we did stop in for hearings.

The people who presented at those hearings, Mr. Speaker, were young people, they were Boy Scouts, they were Girl Guides, they were service groups, they were individuals. They were seniors. Some groups, like the Tai Woo Warriors from Bridgewater, brought perspective from the military aspect. Others brought a perspective from the socio-economic aspect. Others brought it from the aspect of the legion. Others brought it from the aspect of purely education; others, culture. The important thing was that it was the diversity that makes us strong that came forward and regardless of each presenter's view on the Calgary Accord, if it needed adjustment, if it was the right way to go, if there was compromise, the important thread that I felt as a member of that panel was each and every one of them loved Canada in their own way. That common thread is extremely important for the longevity of this country, that those individuals, those groups, they love Canada and each and every one have their own vision of Canada. That is what makes us strong, our diversity.

[3:15 p.m.]

I will not discuss the seven principles. The speakers that preceded me from the Official Parties here have done an eloquent job of articulating them and those principles were the ones that are in the document that we will later vote on today. I think it is important to note that respect for the individual, respect for provincial rights and the obligation of the federal government came clearly through in most presentations. I think the document reflects that there are those rights intrinsic in a discussion, in a country and how they interact with each other in the regions in the province and also, a strong federal government has a strong obligation to each one of those participants on the provincial and the individual level.

The aspect of education was raised in many of the presentations we were a party to and that aspect of education and culture is extremely important. Those individuals in their communities sometimes felt that the obligation of the federal government and provincial government needed some fine-tuning and being proud of the history and heritage of this province and an obligation by this province to make sure it happens in those communities and

[Page 1079]

that the young people, as they grow up, are exposed to what a rich, vibrant heritage we come from and the diversity we come from here in Nova Scotia.

I can't emphasize enough the spirit in which this document, I believe, was put forward and it is a framework of discussion. I don't think that you can over-emphasize that, the starting point. I can commend how well the committee worked together as individuals, we had people from three different Parties on that and they did truly set aside their partisan views and worked on behalf of the country and on behalf of this province to identify the concerns of the citizens of this province, regardless of their ethnic origin, regardless of their socio-economic status. They were there to listen, to report and indeed their concerns and suggestions are incorporated in this document.

Before I sit down, I would urge each and every member of this House to endorse this Calgary Declaration. I truly believe it is a fresh attempt at a framework of discussion to keep this country, the best country in the world, together. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and privileged to stand before this Assembly today and to speak in support of this resolution, in support of a strong and united Canada. Since September 1997, when nine Premiers and two territorial government leaders agreed to submit a framework for discussion of Canadian unity, commonly known today as the Calgary Declaration, the citizens of this great country of ours have taken the time to address this important issue.

The Nova Scotia Select Committee on National Unity, Chaired by Eleanor Norrie, travelled this province and we have heard about that today and heard over 100 submissions from the people of this province on the subject. I want to congratulate the committee for its work and I commend the people of Nova Scotia who took the time to come out and to express their viewpoints on this very important issue.

Our country is a shining example throughout the world for its quality of life. That quality of life is predicated on Canada's commitment to human rights for all. In this country, if one person's rights are threatened, all our rights are threatened. How often have we heard this country spoken of as a family? It is a family. It is a family of Native Canadians. It is a family of early immigrants seeking a better life. It is a family of refugees from war-torn countries. It is a mosaic family.

Canada was a haven for my family, Mr. Speaker, as they left the great famines of Ireland - I am not so sure what is great about famine, but they have always been described that way - when they left Ireland to come to Canada to find a better life, life was not easy. My grandfather came out of Ireland. He came here and he worked in the coal mines of Nova Scotia almost every day of his life and, on the day he was buried, the coal dust was still

[Page 1080]

embedded under his fingernails, but he took great pride in that. He took great pride in the fact that he was treated with respect and dignity in Nova Scotia, that he had a job, that he could make his way in this country and change the entire life of himself and his own family. He loved Canada with a passion.

On my mother's side were the Machels. They came from France and they went on to be landowners, then businesspeople, then professionals and, after 200 years, three of their homes are still standing in pretty good shape. So on both sides of my family, I have an Irish connection and a French connection.

As I look around this room, I feel confident that we would all have fascinating stories to tell if we all stood up and talked about our ancestors and how they came here to Canada, how they made tough decisions to leave the security, in many cases, of their own ancestral homes, how some of them left behind family members, and how they came to this great, unknown land. What a life this country has provided each and every one of us.

This country, Mr. Speaker, has been enriched by the many diverse settlers who chose to come here in search of many things: peace, prosperity, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, freedom. Indeed, the Constitution speaks clearly to guarantee our rights and our freedoms. All Canadians possess fundamental rights. All Canadians possess fundamental freedoms: freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of belief, freedom of opinion, and freedom of expression. Canada is richer for its variety of cultures, its variety of ethnic backgrounds, and its variety of languages.

I love this country too, Mr. Speaker, just like every other person who has stood here today. I believe we are strengthened here because within this country we struggle to find ways to be inclusive, not exclusive, because we are committed to finding the way to ensure that a united Canada is one in which all people, including the people of Quebec, are full participants.

I could speak here today and repeat what others have said about economic and social union, but I want to speak in artistic terms because that element has not been talked about today. When I see Canada, I see many colours: I see the colours of its rich and varied land; I see golden wheat; I see gray, craggy mountains; I see lush, green valleys rich with produce; I see our oceans; I see our freshwater lakes; and I see the beautiful colours of fall. When I hear Canada, I hear the many voices of this country; the voices of our native people; the voices of our early and recent immigrants; and the voices of our two early settlement groups, the French- and the English-speaking.

Mr. Speaker, I, as among many other Canadians, want all these voices to be heard and more than anything, I want all these voices to be protected. I support the Calgary Declaration that all Canadians are equal and have rights protected by law, that all provinces have equality of status, that our federal system respects diversity and equality as the underpinning of unity

[Page 1081]

and that the unique character of Quebec society, its language, culture and traditions, are fundamental to the well-being of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, the caring and compassion of individual Canadians is what makes this country great. It is a wonderful nation, and how we come together in times of crisis is really a demonstration of our common bond to one another. We have been tested as a country when we have come together in crisis. One only has to look to last winter, to the ice storms, to the floods, and, you know, we passed that test.

We came together collectively and we responded with our hearts and our souls and our emotions. So once more, we are being given the opportunity to respond to another test, and this test is one that we must not fail. It is the test that we must speak to this resolution, in support of this resolution, on behalf of our other fellow Canadians across this land, and on behalf of Nova Scotians. So, I am very pleased to have had this brief opportunity to speak in support of this resolution. Thank you. (Applause)

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

DR. HINRICH BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, I feel, too, very privileged to very briefly join my colleagues to speak to this accord. I have not prepared a formal speech, but the friendly and passionate and eloquent way in which so many members of this House have joined in to supporting this accord has changed my mind. I briefly would like to tell you why I felt compelled to share a few ideas with you.

When I came the first time to Canada in 1976, I landed in Montreal at Mirabel Airport and it was a week after the Olympics had closed. I fell, like everybody who ever has gone to Montreal, in love with that beautiful city, metropolitan, European and American, and with the people of Quebec.

I went to the old ballpark and saw the Expos with a rookie outfield, Valentine, Cromartie and Dawson. I worked and I did a bit of research at McGill, and halfway through my one year scheduled stay, Bill No. 101 was introduced. It was a shattering experience for me as a guest to see the people of Quebec being torn apart. My team, totally and to the last person except for me being from the U.K., decided to break their tenancy and resettle in Washington, D.C., and they took me with them.

For five years, I watched the slide of Montreal, the very subtle slide initially, from a distance. Then I was privileged enough to come back to Canada and to Nova Scotia, and I have closely, like we all have, watched the Meech Lake Accord, the Charlottetown Accord and now the new beginning with the Calgary Declaration.

[Page 1082]

In my view, it is testimony of what we Canadians are all about. There is truly tolerance and an attempt to reach out, not to minimize or to turn down, but to include. And me coming from the old country to what in Europe is called, America - or if you're very proud, you say you are going to Canada, which in the north of Europe is one step up - I can tell you that we have a country that all of you today have described in various ways, but with the same love. I'm glad that I was allowed to speak to this Calgary Declaration. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

M. MICHEL SAMSON: M. le président, sa me fait grand plaisir de me prononcer sur la question de la déclaration de Calgary. Depuis que nous somme la dernière province hors du Québec à se prononcer sur la déclaration, sa me fait grand plaisir que c'est notre appuis à la Nouvelle-Écosse qui va faire la déclaration complète.

M. le président, je suis un acadien et je suis fier d'être membre élu à l'assemblée législative. À Richmond, nous avons une communauté avec un peuple très divers.

[3:30 p.m.]

Richmond County is a shining example of how different cultures can live in harmony. Richmond has a large Acadian population, along with people of Irish, Scottish, English and German descent. Last but not least, we have a large population of Newfoundlanders who settled in Richmond during the height of our fishing days.

We are very proud of our diverse cultures in Richmond. A visit to our county during the summer will show the many festivals we have celebrating our cultures and rich history. In the last few years, our youth have been educated together in different languages. At Isle Madame District High School, our youth are taught under the English system and the French Acadian program. Two school boards control staff at the facility, yet the students play on the same sports teams, debate teams and student council. This is a shining example of how different cultures and languages can coexist in harmony.

M. le président, la communauté acadienne a toujours eu un bon rapport avec nos amis au Québec. Notre communauté a reçu beaucoup de support financière et en programmes du Québec pour promouvoir notre langue et notre culture.

Mr. Speaker, where the Acadian community differs from our friends in Quebec is on the issue of sovereignty. Acadians have grown by being part of the Canadian family. Canada is the one country where Acadians and Quebecers can live and grow as part of the great Canadian fabric.

[Page 1083]

M. le président, la déclaration de Calgary reconnais notre diversité. Nous célébrons nos cultures et notre peuple. Nous sommes tous égales, mais il faut aussi reconnaître que le Québec est unique avec sa langue et son système de droit.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the members of the committee which travelled throughout the province receiving input from Nova Scotians on this important question. The Calgary Declaration is good for Acadians. It is good for Nova Scotians but overall, it is good for Canadians throughout the country. That is why I will be supporting this resolution.

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

MS. ROSEMARY GODIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Je suis heureuse aujourd'hui d'être ici pour cette résolution et c'est si important à plusieurs des personnes à la Nouvelle-Écosse. Je suis un parent, une mère de deux fils; deux jeunes hommes qui sont très fiers de leur héritage acadien. Quelque fois dans les années passées à l'école, il y avait les autres qu'y avait dit des choses un peut mal du héritage de mes fils. C'est malheureux mais c'est frais. Mais avec l'endossement de la déclaration de Calgary, il y a l'espère que tous le monde peut travailler et jouer ensemble.

J'ai habitée au Québec pour quatre ans. J'ai un fils qui a été né à Val d'Or, Québec et il y a beaucoup des peuples de tous les cultures là. À vivre au Québec était une expérience très bien pour ma famille. Notre pays sera beaucoup mieux parce de la déclaration de Calgary, plus fort, plus mieux et pour certain le meilleur place à vivre dans le monde. Je support la déclaration de Calgary avec beaucoup de plaisir. Merci. (Applaudissement)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for the adoption of the Calgary Declaration, Resolution No. 2.

At this time I would like to put the question and I understand the honourable member for Kings North is asking for a recorded vote.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would you have the Clerk call the roll?

It is so long since we had a recorded vote.

We can recess until 3:40 p.m. Everybody be back in the House at 3:40 p.m. and we will have the roll call.

[Page 1084]

[3:35 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: For the benefit of all members, you have to be within the doors when we start the count. If you are out of the House and come in during the vote, you cannot vote. The Clerk will call the roll.

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[3:42 p.m.]


Mr. MacKinnon

Mr. Lorraine

Mr. MacAskill

Mr. Gaudet

Dr. Smith

Mr. M. MacDonald

Mr. MacLellan

Mr. Downe

Mr. Harrison

Mrs. Cosman

Mr. Samson

Mr. C. MacDonald

Mr. Montgomery

Mr. Huskilson

Mr. White

Mr. Fogarty

Mr. Colwell

Mr. Fraser

Mr. MacEwan

Mr. Matheson

Ms. Atwell

Mr. K. Deveaux

Ms. H. MacDonald

Ms. O'Connell

Mr. Chisholm

Mr. Holm

Mr. Moody

Dr. Hamm

Mr. Leefe

[Page 1085]

Mr. Archibald

Mr. LeBlanc

Mr. Baker

Mr. Taylor

Mr. Fage

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Muir

Mr. Dexter

Mr. Epstein

Ms. M. MacDonald

Mr. Estabrooks

Mr. Chard

Mr. Corbett

Mr. Delefes

Ms. Godin

Mr. MacDonell

Mr. Parker

Mr. Pye

Mr. Balser

Dr. Bitter-Suermann

Mr. Scott

THE CLERK: For, 50. Against, 0. (Applause)

[3.45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

I presume that the transmittal of our agreement in this House of the accord will be up to the Premier's Office and to his fellow Premiers; the transmittal of the passage of the resolution, along with the vote, which was unanimous.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.

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

[Page 1086]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, certainly, I know that I, as I am sure most members of this House do, welcome the opportunity for members to stand up and speak during the motion to go into Supply. This afternoon, I want to rise to talk a little bit about health care, but health care very specifically as it relates to the community of Sackville.

Mr. Speaker, we saw, during the discussion of the Calgary Declaration, tremendous cooperation. We saw all sides of this House being willing to work to try to ensure that we can be working to build programs and services and making a commitment to be building programs and services that will be equal and which will be meeting the needs of not only all Canadians but, more specifically here, Nova Scotians.

You know, when people have raised questions, however, about health care in this province, what the Minister of Health and his colleagues do is they accuse us of fear-mongering. They accuse those who have the audacity to raise the issues and to raise the concerns about the health care that they and their families are receiving. Those people, according to this government, are involved in fear-mongering. I want to say to the Minister of Health, to the Premier and the members on the Liberal red benches that, as I was going door to door in the recent election, then according to this government's definition, I heard an awful lot of fear-mongering from constituents who had very grave concerns about the quality of health care, as it was being allowed to deteriorate as a result of this government.

Mr. Speaker, those with whom I met, those on whose doors I knocked were not critical of the staff. They did not complain about the men and the women who worked at one of the hospitals in the metropolitan area or across the province. They did not complain about the staff who work at the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre. They did not complain about the quality of the staff who are working trying to provide home care and in-home hospital support. They didn't complain about the training and the qualifications of those who worked in the emergency response vehicles. What they complained about was that this government, in the name of so-called health care reform, had cut and slashed the level of service to such an extent that those who were in need of the emergency services, those who were in need of that health care service, were not able to get it as they once were.

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely proud of the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre in the constituency of Sackville-Cobequid. It is located in my riding, but it doesn't only service the people from Lower Sackville or Sackville-Cobequid. It serves, certainly, also, the residents who live in my colleague's riding of Sackville-Beaver Bank. It serves those who live in Timberlea-Prospect. It serves those who live in the riding of the Minister of Community Services, Bedford-Fall River. In fact, the catchment area was in the range of approximately 60,000 people. You know, that centre is under assault. It is under assault because of cuts.

Mr. Speaker, if you take a look at what has been happening, and the Minister of Health has got to know this, he has to know this, he has to know this. Because of the cuts that he and his colleagues have been making when they get down in their bunker where they decide -

[Page 1087]

behind the red curtain of secrecy that they draw around themselves in the red team - when they get down there they had decided they are going to be cutting the amount of money that was being provided for health care. That meant that vital services that people, men, women and children of this province need, if they need basic lab tests, if they need x-rays, if they need other services, preventive services that might be able to identify a health need, to identify a problem at the early stages, that they often are forced to wait weeks, if not months to get that service provided.

What is happening is that many of those who would have gone to another health care facility and received excellent care had they been able to get in in a shorter period of time are being referred by their physicians to the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre. I do not blame the physicians and I certainly do not blame those who are going out to get their testing and results done. If you are in need of vital testing, you certainly do not wish to wait for three months in order to get that done. So all of those increased demands, those people are going to what was a community health care system. A community-based system is now being treated in many ways as if it is a hospital, that these many more demands are being placed on it.

That is being done at the same time that the staff at that centre has been cut back over recent years. The staff are working extremely hard. They are run off their feet. Not only are the nurses and the lab technicians expected to do their jobs, they are often having to do jobs, and I met with them and was told how they have to do basic cleaning so that nurses sometimes who are dealing with patients, the next thing you know they have to clean the washroom because the supports are not even there for that.

This is the kind of thing that the government says is acceptable. They say that there have been a few glitches, a few bits of difficulty, a few problems, as they move down the road to reform. There has been nobody and certainly nobody on our side of the House, nobody in the NDP caucus, who has said that the health care system in Nova Scotia was perfect before. There was nobody in this caucus who said that the health care system could not benefit from some changes, some reforms, some modifications. Nobody, but common sense would tell you that if you are going to be changing something and if you are going to be taking away a vital service, that you plan a replacement in advance of that. If this government is truly committed to saving health care dollars, one of the things that they would do is ensure that they put an emphasis on wellness, to put an emphasis on those programs, on those services, that can detect in the earliest stages medical difficulties so they can be addressed early.

But no. This government operated on the basis of something like this. They turn around and they decide that they want to change the shape of their house so they come in with a hacksaw or a chainsaw and they cut off the roof and they chop off a side. Then they sit back and they look at it and say, golly gee, our house doesn't have a roof any more, it doesn't have a wall. I guess we'd better design a new one; we'd better start planning. So, then they go out and they figure out and design, or hire an architect, and probably two or three, one after another, to draw up an architectural design . . .

[Page 1088]

AN HON. MEMBER: Give them each a laptop.

MR. HOLM: Yes, give them all, probably, each a laptop, or two, to design whatever this new structure is going to look like, and after that they will get around to it as the spirit moves them, and as the fiscal ability comes forward to designing and actually building a new roof and a new wall.

Now all that time, of course, the elements have been pouring in on those who are in that home. That's what they have done to our health care system; they chopped off the roof and they chopped off the sides, before first having planned.

Now, during the election - and I'm sure it wasn't politics involved, heavens, the Liberal Party would never play politics with health care, I'm sure of that, Mr. Speaker, and I'm sure the member for Cape Breton Nova, who was concerned about the health of those who live in his community around the coke oven site, I'm sure he would not play politics with health care, and I'm sure there will be a resolution calling upon this government to address those very serious issues with arsenic and other issues, probably tomorrow; however, I won't be sidetracked by his rabbit tracks - the reality is, during the election, the chair of the regional health board came out with an announcement, and they said that there was going to be new monies provided to upgrade, to improve the facilities, the emergency facilities, et cetera, at the Dartmouth General Hospital and the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre. The planning was to begin immediately; it must be a priority.

Well, I just have to scratch my head and ask where has he been all this time. Has he paid no attention to what the Cobequid Community Health Board said, because the Cobequid Community Health Board had conducted a survey and they had held consultations throughout the community health board area to identify what the citizens in that area saw as important health care needs. Did he not know, had he not read his information, his letters, the documents that landed on his desk, had the Minister of Health not read all those same things? They were provided to him, because, he would know that the former board of the Cobequid Community Centre - before it was disbanded, but still the foundation - had already devised some plans. In fact, they have been involved and working very hard on fund-raising to try to get it.

During the election, they decide to announce, going back about five stages, the planning to begin immediately. That may have sounded good, for the Liberal candidate to run around and say, oh, we've got some money. No commitments made, of course, nothing solid, nothing concrete, all you've got is in the fullness of time to do planning. At the same time, the services are under attack, and the staff working at the centre are working extremely hard, because they are dedicated people. They are individuals who are concerned about the quality of health care services that they can provide to anybody who walks through that door. They are under attack, trying to do their job.

[Page 1089]

What this government owes the people who live in the community of Sackville and all those communities that are being served by that excellent facility - excellent, but under attack facility - what they deserve is for this government to lay on the table what their plans are, and to lay on the table their commitment as to how they're going to move forward. That centre didn't even have an emergency back-up power system and, to the best of my knowledge, it still does not, and much of the equipment in that centre is old and it's outdated and it can't meet the needs.

If somebody is at that centre and they need to be transported to a hospital, they don't have a high priority for an ambulance to be transported from the Cobequid centre to a hospital. Why? Because they are classified as a hospital even though they aren't, even though they don't have the back-up medical experts in that facility, even though they don't have a lot of the life-saving equipment that would be necessary. They get bounced down the line.

[4:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, my time, as you indicated, is about to expire. I have not even started to talk about the serious problems that exist with the delays when you call 911 for ambulance services. The minister should know about some of those as well. With those few brief remarks, I will resume my seat and some time during the Estimates debate I will expect that the Minister of Health will do the honourable thing, that he will do the right thing, and tell us what his plan is, how those identified health care needs are going to be met. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, before beginning some remarks about my constituency I would like to simply indicate how proud I was to be in the House for the vote on the resolution concerning the Calgary Declaration. In the constituency of Truro-Bible Hill, that particular subject was of great interest. I was there the night the committee came to Truro and I believe the turnout in my constituency was probably the largest that they had in the province. So there was concern from my constituents and I was delighted to be able to listen to the eloquent remarks of all of those who spoke and to actually have a part in passing that resolution.

Let me begin, Mr. Speaker, by talking about something that is known as a secure treatment centre which has been promised for my constituency but yet has not arrived. As most members know, Truro was one time known as one of the great educational centres here in Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, during the five years that the present Liberal Government, or the former Liberal Government, I guess is more correct, was in power it succeeded in taking most of those educational elements out of my constituency. It has gone from being a leading educational centre not only in Nova Scotia but actually in Canada, to one which is now down to one institution although it is a very good institution - the Nova Scotia Agricultural College.

[Page 1090]

One of the educational centres that was there was the Nova Scotia Residential Centre. The government decided, as the result of a 1996 study called, Too Good to Lose, to close it. The intention was at that time to replace it with a secure treatment facility. This secure treatment facility to be housed on the grounds of the former Nova Scotia Residential Centre was to be up and running by June of this year. Such has not been the case. There has been very little sign, indeed no sign at all, Mr. Speaker, of the necessary construction, renovations, modifications, or indeed any concrete statement from the government on this secure treatment centre, which was promised to replace the Nova Scotia Residential Centre in my constituency, no indication that the government is intending to act on that.

Like I say, Mr. Speaker, I looked for it in the Speech from the Throne and could not find it. It must have been a mistake. I looked for it in the Budget Estimates that were tabled the other day and I could not find it. I have written to the Minister of Community Services and I have not heard back from her. I assume that perhaps she cannot find it either but anyway I just want to read into the record some of the statements that were made by the previous government about this centre and the promises that followed there.

Recommendations for the changes were included in a report completed earlier this year and entitled Too Good to Lose, that reviewed placement resources across the province. "While most children can benefit from a foster care or group home placement, a few Nova Scotian youths require treatment that is more intrusive and costly, because of the severity of their problems, or because they would endanger themselves or others. Therefore, we will be using the building in Truro that now houses the Nova Scotia Residential Centre as a secure treatment centre . . . this facility will make Nova Scotia only the third province that has secure treatment for youth,". This was a statement by the former Minister of Community Services, John MacEachern.

"The need for secure treatment has been flagged by child welfare experts and Family Court judges. Secure treatment is used only after other less intrusive measures have failed, and with children who would endanger themselves or others. Young people would remain in the secure setting for short periods of time, until their behaviour could be managed in an open setting such as a group home. The Department of Community Services is working closely with the Departments of Health, Justice, and Education as well as child welfare agencies, to design an effective treatment model for these most vulnerable of our young people - and protect them and the community.".

I see absolutely no evidence that the Department of Community Services is working with the Department of Health or the Department of Justice to develop a plan for what was reported in February 1997, as an essential part of the child welfare system in this province.

They went on to say, "The Residential Centre, which currently operates at a cost of $3.5 million with a staff of 55, will close in June, and the children living there will be moved to more appropriate placements closer to their home communities.". Indeed, that did occur.

[Page 1091]

"Tenders will be called in May . . .", 13 months ago, ". . . for renovations to modify the building for its role as specialized secure treatment centre for young people who now are either sent out of the province, or who are unable to receive the most appropriate treatment. The new centre will accommodate approximately 15 young people. Currently, nine children are in placements outside of Nova Scotia, at an annual cost of approximately $1 million. The new secure treatment centre will be ready by early next year. Some of the employees of the Residential Centre will qualify for placement in positions in the new centre.".

I would like to know from the Minister of Community Services and the Minister of Health and Justice, what are the plans of the government for that secure treatment centre which it said in 1997 was essential as part of the child welfare system in this province? It is another example to me of a broken promise, and more stripping of my constituency of Truro-Bible Hill.

In March of this year, on a whistle-stop tour through my community, the Premier said that plans for this secure treatment centre were well advanced. We have still seen nothing. I really would like to know what is going on. Obviously, this is important to the province, it is important to my constituency, and it was a promise which was made by this government.

One of the things that happened, because there was no action, is that I had a visit from the local YMCA in Truro and they have a gymnastics program. They are currently housing that gymnastics program in part of a shopping centre in Truro and, because there are going to be some renovations going on at that shopping centre, the portion that they are using is no longer going to be available. I contacted someone for space and he said that they used to rent space from the Residential Centre. I said it was not being used, maybe we could use it again. So I contacted the Department of Community Services and the first report was rather positive, they thought it might be available. Then I received a letter from the deputy minister indicating that plans for the new secure treatment centre would be ongoing and that the facility would not be available to the YMCA, but I have yet to see any evidence that this planning is going on.

One of the statements that was made in a letter I received was that they were consulting with the staff at the Residential Centre. The staff at the Residential Centre consists of a caretaker who does the grass and things like that, and the other person is a field officer who travels all over the province. It just happens that he is using an office, he is not staff of that centre. So I don't know what staff they were talking about, but I do know that this was a promise from the Liberal Government for the people of Truro-Bible Hill and it is not being kept. I would like some indication from the government that they will honour their commitment and get that planning for that secure treatment centre up and running.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, although my constituency is perhaps best known as an agricultural centre, in the centre of some of the best agricultural lands in the province, it is also a forestry centre and, indeed, there are about 300 people in my constituency who make

[Page 1092]

a direct living from the forestry industry. The Speech from the Throne did mention forestry and, as I think everybody in the House knows, there is a considerable opinion that we are cutting the wood in the forests in this province quicker than it is being regenerated. This comes from people in the forestry industry, as well as others, that our forests may go the way of the fish if we don't take some appropriate action.

The Speech from the Throne, Mr. Speaker, indicated that there would be $4 million for private woodlot management. The forestry sector assumed that they would have $4 million for the implementation of the provincial forestry funded program, which is called the Resource Enhancement Fund for Forestry. The actual number that appeared in the budget was a severe shock. The promise was reduced over a two and one-half week period by 25 per cent, or we could say that the Speech from the Throne was a little bit more than 33 per cent above the promise in the Speech from the Throne above that which was delivered. Since approximately $1.5 million to $2 million of this $3 million left will be spent as the provincial contribution to several forest industry stewardship agreements that are already in place, there is only going to be about $1 million left as stand-alone resource enhancement funds for the forest industry. That has to be distributed province-wide.

The forestry industry generates between $1.3 billion and $1.5 billion a year to the economy of this province. The Liberal Government, it appears, is committing unfettered $1 million for reforestation. That, Mr. Speaker, does not go down well with the people who are operating the forests, including the 300 people in my constituency who derive their living from the forest industry, or who experience the spin-off benefits.

When one considers that some areas, for example, Cumberland County, have no forest product company stewardship agreement. All the money for reforestation up there has to come from this $1 million that has been made available for the silviculture program according to the budget. The Cumberland County woodlots are mainly private. They do not have the big companies. The big companies are better at the reforestation. Indeed, they do very good work at reforestation. The private people don't and if it is going to get done, the forest industry is going to be self-sustainable. Don't forget that about 75 per cent of the forest land in our province is owned privately. It is not owned by the big people and, therefore, if the private people don't have some encouragement and some help in silviculture, the 75 per cent of that is going to go by the boards.

Mr. Speaker, the result of the government's decision to reduce the money which is available for silviculture projects, in the short term, means that less work is going to be done on the ground. It means there is going to be less employment in the forest industry and the economic benefits of the spin-offs are going to be reduced. In addition, a lot of long-time professional silviculture contractors aren't going to have work this summer because there is no money for them.

[Page 1093]

Secondly, there has been a lot of silviculture work done and new plantations established in the province in the last number of years but they have to be maintained annually. The province has already invested a considerable amount of money in reforestation. Here we are, we have the plot of trees, we have the garden that needs to be weeded or whatever and there is no money to do it and it is just going to be a waste of the money that has been put in before.

[4:15 p.m.]

I would just like to say in closing, Mr. Speaker, that people in my constituency, and I would suspect all across the province that are involved in the forestry industry - and I have been approached by many people, including forestry organizations, about their fears, and it is not fear-mongering to say that our forests had better start receiving more attention than they are at the present time or that is one industry, the largest single industry in Nova Scotia, that we are not going to have for much longer. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. REEVES MATHESON: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak on this particularly vital consideration for the community and the Town of Glace Bay that I represent. When I made my comments in my Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne I made specific reference to issues that I felt the people of Glace Bay elected me to come to this House to address. It so happens that perhaps an issue that is paramount in the minds of the constituents that I represent is the issue as it relates to what this administration and the previous administration have done to the health care system in Glace Bay.

Mr. Speaker, if there is anybody in this province who wants to doubt that the administrations that have run this province over the last four or five years have committed carnage with respect to what they proposed to this House time and time again as being reasoned health care reform, if there is anybody who wants to know in the most profound sort of way, when people stand up and say and fight and rail against what was done to their communities, that it is not fear-mongering, that they had legitimate, real concerns about institutions and a way of life that was being ripped right out from under their feet, if there is anyone who wants to wonder in this province about what it is like not to have a doctor and to know that that is not health care reform, if there is anybody who is not convinced in this province, then I invite them to come to Glace Bay. If they need to be convinced, let them come to the proud community of Glace Bay and see what happened to our health care system.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that in 1993 in very many respects the health care delivery system in the Town of Glace Bay was the envy of the Province of Nova Scotia, of many communities in the Province of Nova Scotia. I believe that the medical community, in terms of the facilities, in terms of the expertise that existed in the town, had the ability to deliver a

[Page 1094]

quality of health care in that town that was second to none in this province and I would suggest, in very many respects, second to none in the country.

Mothers who had to deliver babies could exist in the confidence and the full knowledge that there were qualified practitioners ready and able to deliver their child in facilities that were adequately staffed and equipped to meet that challenge. If there was surgery to be performed most, if not all, of the major types of surgery could be performed in that community and we had a level of expertise in our health care community in terms of the doctors, to ensure that all those services could be delivered.

I believe that in very many respects Glace Bay was the first community to suffer the onslaught of what was proposed by the present administration of that day as health care reform because of what it represented and what they perceived had to be changed. Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to you that Glace Bay has, in very many real respects, been on the leading edge of the attack and the slash and the attack that was masked as health care reform in this province; that in very many respects we were the first community to suffer the blows of indignation that were heaped upon us under the auspices of this and past administrations, a plan or a supposed plan for health care reform.

We were represented by ministers from this government who refused on numerous occasions, time after time, to come out and to meet with concerned community groups of 500 and 600 people at a time to seek explanation, to seek clarification, to see what was happening with the health care system in the town and every time, in every situation, despite continual invitation to the same, they did not show up. Not only that, they sat as honourable ministers of the government of this particular administration and the Savage Administration before it, and sat quietly by while the health care system in Glace Bay was torn to ruin.

We have had, and we were the first community to suffer a direct out-migration of physicians as a result of this supposed health care reform. So much so that at one point there was 8,000 to 10,000 people in the community who did not have a family physician. So much so that the community stood hand in hand and surrounded the community hospital in 1995 and listened at that time as the then Minister of Education in that administration said there would not be a brick touched in that particular institution. We know now that that institution no longer exists. It has been levelled. It was torn down despite the fact, despite the promises of the administration of that day that such would not be the case.

We were promised in return for the loss of that institution, that was built from the paycheques of miners in the Town of Glace Bay, paid on a weekly basis, over years and years, we were promised an expansion to the remaining general hospital or Glace Bay Community Hospital on South Street. No such expansion ever took place. In fact it was next, approximately a year after the community hospital was levelled and the last brick was cleared off that site.

[Page 1095]

If there is a community that has suffered under this government as a result of what it calls health care reform, I want to reiterate that it is Glace Bay. So much so that I believe our community is owed an explanation as to why it was necessary, why to this degree did this government have to act to affect the community in the way it did with respect to that health care reform?

It became evident and it is becoming more and more clear to the people of Glace Bay that they are one of those communities, it seems, that both the federal and provincial levels of government want to see die on the vine. If possible, over the course of the next 20 or 30 years, if they find their natural logical conclusion and dry up and go away, that will be the best solution for the people, for the community, and I think it is clear when one looks at what has happened to our health care system we are left, not because of the people who are working in it, just because of the sheer lack of size or facility in the physical plant that is there. All we have left after four years of health care reform in Glace Bay is a wrap-and-ship institution at the end of South Street; overworked doctors, overtaxed health care staff, doing the best they can to service a community which is increasingly growing in the level of its despair in terms of its ability to look after itself and recognizing more and more as time goes on that really what this government is all about as it relates to Glace Bay is watching it die on the vine.

To the Minister of Health, what I want him to demonstrate to the people of Glace Bay, and not to me, over the course of this debate is what does he propose to offer to the community of the Town of Glace Bay that will offer them the type of reassurance that they have been seeking over the past three or four years that tells them that notwithstanding what has happened in the last five years that the health care system will continue to exist in the Town of Glace Bay at a level that they have come to expect, that it will continue to exist to meet the needs and the needs of their children and that it will be there so that there will be a clear signal sent to the community and people who want to grow up and live and raise families there, that when they need it, there will be a health care system in the Town of Glace Bay to meet those needs.

That is the object. That is the challenge that I give to this government and to this Minister of Health. Tell the people of Glace Bay that they are wrong. Show them that they are wrong and show them what the plan is for the community and the Town of Glace Bay in the months and years ahead to rebuild the health care system that this government has spent the last five years tearing apart. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[4:25 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Donald Chard in the Chair.]

[5:58 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Ronald Russell, resumed the Chair.]

[Page 1096]

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

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Tomorrow we will sit from the hours of 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Mr. Speaker. It is Opposition Day and I would ask the Opposition House Leader to outline to the House what he intends to raise tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, we will, as the Government House Leader said, sit from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. tomorrow and the business will be two bills, Bill No. 7 and Bill No. 8.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I move we adjourn to sit again tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

[6:00 p.m.]

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.

We have now reached the moment of interruption and the subject for the debate this evening was submitted by the honourable member for Queens, and it reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that this premier and his predecessor be condemned for continuously bowing to the wishes of their federal Liberal cousins allowing Ottawa to walk all over Nova Scotians on the issue of our military resources, taxation, agriculture, ports, forestry, transportation, et cetera.".

[Page 1097]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

(GOV'T. [CAN.]):


MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure this evening to rise and to respond to the motion which I have put forward respecting the absolutely dismal failure of this government over the past five years to stand up for the best interests of Nova Scotians; indeed, to stand up for any interests of Nova Scotians. It was, in fact, only days after the 1993 election that this government refused to provide support for the people of Nova Scotia with respect to the failure of the federal Liberal Government to purchase the EH-101 helicopters.

The failure of the federal government to purchase those helicopters resulted in two things. Firstly, it continued to put in jeopardy the lives of the men and the women who serve in our Armed Forces who daily risk their lives in order to save the lives of others and in order to protect the sovereignty of this nation. Secondly, Mr. Speaker, it resulted in the loss of tremendous economic opportunity to Nova Scotia because had, in fact, those helicopters been purchased, there would have been significant economic spin-off to Nova Scotia.

I have a document here which compares the contract that was thrown out in 1993 by the federal Liberal Government without so much as a whimper of protest from the provincial Liberal Government in contrast of the cost of the EH-101 deal which was finalized by the federal Liberal Government with the approval of these people over here. In 1993 the cost per unit for the EH-101 was $33 million each. In 1997 the cost of each helicopter plus the cost of getting out of the 1993 contract upon which the Liberal Party reneged, is $67 million each, twice the cost per unit.

What did Nova Scotians receive from that by way of benefit? Well, had this group in 1993 gotten up and spoken on behalf of Nova Scotians and worked to cause the federal Liberal Government, of which the Premier was then part, to reverse its decision respecting the abandonment of the 1993 contract, there would have been created here in Nova Scotia, principally in Nova Scotia, 185,000 person years of work, high-tech, high-paying, ongoing work here in Nova Scotia. The 1997 contract for which this government, in fact, is in part responsible through their failure to stand up for Nova Scotians in 1993, for the Premier's failure to stand up for Nova Scotians in 1993 as a Nova Scotia Member of Parliament, is zero person years of work.

That is the kind of support that this government has rendered to the people of Nova Scotia. With friends like that, Mr. Speaker, we do not need enemies.

[Page 1098]

Mr. Speaker, all through the late 1970's to the 1980's and the early 1990's, various federal governments in Canada, both Progressive Conservative and Liberal, and the Progressive Conservative Government in Nova Scotia, entered into a number of agreements respecting economic development. These were agreements which were designed to improve economic opportunity in Nova Scotia and their specific sectors. I think, for example, of the last agreement signed in 1993, for highway strengthening. It was signed on April 1, 1993. It was signed on behalf of the then Progressive Conservative Government, by the Honourable George Archibald, the then Minister of Transportation. It was a $140 million road-strengthening agreement to assist the Province of Nova Scotia through federal dollars in repairing and maintaining and building new highways. That was in 1993.

The very best that this Liberal Government could manage, with respect to negotiating a new agreement, was to hang its hat on a promise of future considerations in the Speech from the Throne that we heard a few weeks ago. This agreement, which was signed by the Progressive Conservative Government, was worth the paper it was written on. The reference to an agreement to be negotiated sometime in the future by this Liberal Government is not worth the paper it was written on, not even the one little space taken up by the one sentence, which made reference to it.

Our highways are falling apart. Anybody who spends any time driving anywhere in Nova Scotia understands that. They are literally falling apart, week by week, month by month. (Interruption)

The people in my constituency, in the Port Medway area, really like to get close to the No. 103 because they know that they can get a little bit of a smooth ride when they get on the rumble strips just before the highway. It's so much smoother than the road down into Port Medway is. But, then as my honourable friend reminds us, by curious coincidence, if one leaves Lunenburg County and moves into Queens County in Voglers Cove, leaves Lunenburg County and moves into Danesville in Queen's County, one might see that there is an abrupt stop to the new pavement and an abrupt beginning to the old. Curious coincidence. Curious coincidence that during the election campaign the former Minister of Transportation, now Minister of Finance, announced that there would be more new paving, and you guessed it, Mr. Speaker, that new pavement, if it takes place this year, will just happen to stop where the Lunenburg County line matches the Queens County line on Route 210, I believe, through Chelsea.

But again, the point to be made, is that our highway system is falling apart, and this government has absolutely failed, absolutely failed to renegotiate a new highway strengthening agreement to help to rebuild our highways, which after all are absolutely essential to the development of our economy here in Nova Scotia.

[Page 1099]

We can look at other federal-provincial agreements which we have had in the past, which have greatly benefited Nova Scotia, and which this government has absolutely failed to renegotiate with Ottawa. We have had agreements on tourism, we have had agreements on fisheries, we have had agreements on technology, we have had agreements on environment, we have had agreements on forestry.

Now there is another area where this government has an absolutely dismal record. There is more pressure on our forestry resources today than there has ever been in the past. And yet in spite of those pressures, this government has been an abject failure with respect to negotiating a new agreement which would put substantial national dollars into what, yes, is a provincial resource, but what is also a national resource - the forests of Nova Scotia. It is, as my honourable friend says, a national natural treasure. And, if we do not renew this forestry resource, we run the very real risk of our forests going the way of our fishery. And we have seen the devastation that has caused in coastal communities. We cannot let that happen in our forest communities, we cannot allow it to then be devastated to that extent.

And, one of the ways that we can resolve that is by negotiating a new federal-provincial agreement on forestry. This government has failed to do that. It has failed to meet its commitment to the people who depend on the forestry for economic development.

And we could go on and look at Halifax International Airport, we can look at Halifax Harbour, the failure to move forward on post-Panamax construction, we can look at our local harbours across Nova Scotia, we can look at the failure to produce a mineral agreement. We can look at the failure of this government to get a shrimp quota for Nova Scotia. We can look at the failure of this government to argue against its federal friends in Ottawa, as they have downloaded on us in health care and social costs, in housing, in education. It goes on and on.

What happens every time? The federal government pulls the mat out from underneath us and Nova Scotia. Instead of standing up for Nova Scotians, this Liberal Government tugs on its forelock and says, Aye Aye, Sir; Three bags full, Sir. That, Mr. Speaker, is not good enough. These people have abandoned the interests of Nova Scotians. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier. (Applause)

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if I didn't know where I was, I wouldn't believe I was in Nova Scotia, listening to the words of the honourable member for Queens. I do have concern on a lot of issues about the federal government's role in Nova Scotia. There are some areas where we are really going to have to be very vigilant. But I don't think in the past few years that the federal government has been negligent with respect to Nova Scotia.

The honourable member talks about fisheries. The fact is that we have got New Brunswick fishermen fishing in the Gulf. We only have two licences on the mid-shore crab in the Gulf. We have New Brunswick fishermen fishing off Sydney Bight and that has been

[Page 1100]

going on for years, Mr. Speaker. We have lost a lot of the rights of fishing off our own coast to fishermen from other jurisdictions. This has been going on for a long time and, certainly, it wasn't this government that was involved at that particular time.

With respect to forestry, we have just got involved with a new silviculture agreement. We are working on a highway agreement. One of the highway agreements that was in place did expire. The other one is still ongoing. Negotiations are continuing with the federal government for a new highway agreement, which I agree with the honourable member is very important for Nova Scotia because we do need a lot of work on our highways. That, of course, is a problem.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, in Nova Scotia, we have a lot of roads for a province our size. If you were to add the kilometres of roads in New Brunswick and Newfoundland, the total of those two provinces would only be 1,000 kilometres more than the total roads in Nova Scotia. Also, Nova Scotia has three times the number of bridges that New Brunswick has, so we have a large infrastructure to keep up and we are developing a plan to do that over the next few years.

The federal government has been, I think, very cooperative to Nova Scotia. Recently, of course, we just got a new contract, a notification of the submarines. There has been a contract entered into on search helicopters; there is still another one to come on the naval helicopters. Of course in the past years we have had tremendous assistance from the federal government on areas such as Sydney Steel Corporation, which has been a provincial jurisdiction, not to mention, Cape Breton Development Corporation, of course, which was federal.

We have also received assistance in Halifax. We had the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to have a harbour clean-up project take place in Halifax. The federal government money was there but, because of problems on this end, we weren't able to take advantage of that. That is very unfortunate.

We have, unfortunately, lost funding on the Canada Health and Social Transfer. That has been a very serious problem for Nova Scotia, as it has been for all the provinces in Canada. We are suffering in areas such as university financing, health care, as a result of that. That is something we have to come to grips with. In speaking with Honourable Paul Martin he realizes only too well the position we are in, particularly with respect to health care. The concern, of course, is that the federal government has their ideas as to where the health care money should go; all of the provinces and territories are in agreement, that the biggest need is in acute health care services. We are still negotiating in that area.

I want to say that all is not going as well as I would like to see it. We have areas where we do have problems and the major one, frankly - well, two major ones right now, one is the Halifax airport. That is a very big concern. Halifax is the only one of the 10 major airports in

[Page 1101]

Canada that has not had an agreement reached with the federal government for private or public sector takeover by the province or municipal corporation. That has got to be arrived at.

[6:15 p.m.]

I can assure you that the province is not going to enter into an agreement with the federal government on the Halifax airport until we feel the settlement is sufficient and that it is suitable for this province and this area. Halifax International Airport is a major attraction in Nova Scotia. It is the first point of entry of many people who come to Nova Scotia. In order to create that impression, to have that impression reinforced to the degree that we want it, we have to have the airport that we feel we should have in this province. Negotiations are still going on and they will go on until the Province of Nova Scotia gets the settlement we want.

Another area of concern and one that concerns me greatly and has for some time is Bill C-9 with respect to our ports. For the federal government to back out of financing of harbours in this country is a very severe blow to not only Nova Scotia but West Coast ports as well. The federal government has an obligation to provide and see that proper infrastructure is in place in this country. They have said as far as the St. Lawrence Seaway is concerned that the St. Lawrence Seaway ports and the complex there have access to the federal government funds, thus putting us on the East Coast and on the West Coast in an inferior position. That should definitely be addressed.

I would say to the federal government, listen to what we are saying in Nova Scotia, what everyone has said. People have appeared before the House of Commons Committees, the Senate Committees on Bill C-9 and the predecessor legislation, which I think was Bill C-42 in the last Parliament and yet the impact has not been made on the federal government. I think this is extremely unfair. It is unfair to large ports like Halifax but it is going to be increasingly unfair for the medium-sized ports which at this point may not have the revenues to generate the proper maintenance of those ports.

This is a large country with a long and varied coastline. If we just keep about 12 major ports in Canada and shut down all of the others, then we are going to suffer tremendously. It will be a severe blow to this country. Sure, there are ports that have been maintained that perhaps aren't necessary or aren't being utilized, but there are an awful lot of ports in this country that are utilized and have a tremendous future. If we, in fact, shut them down and we don't give them the proper support, then they will not be used, the infrastructure will not be able to be maintained and we will gradually one by one lose the use of these ports. This is something we have got to be very vigilant on and it is something which we are continuing to discuss with the federal government.

[Page 1102]

The Port of Halifax, Port Hawkesbury, the Strait of Canso, these are deep water ports which have tremendous possibilities. Sydney, as the honourable member for Queens said, is a port that is one of the medium-range ports to which I refer. As the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid has said, there is great potential in the future for the offshore, once we bring in some activity on the Laurentian sub-basin. In fact, if this was to take place after the port has suffered financial reversals, the port may not be able to provide the services.

Another thing is the federal government is saying, well we are going to charge back for ice breaking but they are not saying how much ice breaking they are going to charge back for. They have charged back a percentage of the ice breaking but at the same time not given any funding for other services. There is an inequitable arrangement there and I want to thank the honourable member for allowing me to make some comments on these issues.

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I too would like to take an opportunity to make a few comments this evening about what really has been a terrible blow that has been suffered by the working people of Nova Scotia as a result of this government's and the federal Liberal Government's inability to deal with the Port of Halifax and all of Nova Scotia in a way that is commensurate with its responsibility.

It was always the harbour in Halifax which brought the world here. That is true right from day one. Initially although the intention was more of a military nature where they looked upon this as an opportunity to solidify holdings in North America, but they recognized immediately that the Port of Halifax was of a special nature in all of Nova Scotia. It was not long after that that they also recognized that Halifax could be a powerful commercial centre. Over the years that is exactly what happened. It developed in many ways, not just as a thoroughfare for commercial traffic but also as part of the fabric of our society. It became the centre of a shipbuilding industry. It literally became the foundation for the city that we have here today. I know this in a very personal way because in the 1960's and 1970's and indeed into the 1980's my father was a sheet metal worker in the shipyards and in the dockyards. As a result of that employment he raised his family and he created a lifestyle and a home for them over that period of years that was entirely dependent on the fact that there was work at the shipyards and there was work at the dockyards.

This has been part of our heritage for hundreds of years. It is not the kind of thing that we should allow to just slip away by misfeasance or maybe some would suggest malfeasance. If you look back at the way in which we have allowed this over time to slip away, you will see that it has always been primarily as a result of central Canadian interests taking precedence over those of the people of Nova Scotia. That goes right back to what passed initially for shipbuilding policy. Indeed, it was seen that they would develop the ports on the Great Lakes and that as a result of that the infrastructure there would be superior to that on this coast. As a result, the shipbuilding industry here went into decay. I am sad to say that,

[Page 1103]

just as a coincidence, I have a note on my desk today that says of the 1,800 marine workers, members of the Marine Workers Federation, only 350 of them are employed today. That tells you a little something about the state that the shipbuilding industry is in.

The Marine Act in particular is a problem for us here because the wording of that Act in Sections 25 and 26 mean, first of all, that the federal government can make no appropriation on behalf of the port. That means, and I believe it means, that even under other development agreements, under other economic diversification agreements, under infrastructure agreements, they can make a powerful argument that says they cannot make an appropriation in the House of Commons, even under other areas of co-operation to apply to the Halifax Port.

It is not just a matter of running away. This is something on a grand scale. They have taken and moved out of this field completely. I do not think it is a stretch at all to say it is another form of downloading onto the province because that responsibility then lies squarely on the province.

Section 26, interestingly enough, goes one step further to say not only can they not appropriate anything before the House of Commons for the benefit of the port, but they cannot guarantee anything. In fact, other sections of the Act go on to say that every contract that is entered into on behalf of the port authority for purposes of building or supplying infrastructure to the port must state in its contract that they are dealing with the authority and that they are not dealing with the federal government. The federal government refuses to take or assume any liability whatsoever for any of the endeavours of the port authority.

No what they don't do, and this is, of course, the other edge of the sword, although they run away from their responsibility to do anything in the way of providing funds to help support the port, at the same time, they have the ability to levy a charge on the port out of the gross revenues that come in. This means that regardless of whether or not the port authority is making a profit, whether or not the business cycle is up or down, the federal government gets paid. They get paid first. So it is clear that the Liberal Government in Ottawa doesn't care what happens to this port. All it really cares about is that they can get the sunshine, but they don't have to take the rain. At the end of the day, they get paid and they don't have to put a cent into the port to make sure that the way of life of the people of this province is sustained. The people, ultimately, who suffer for that are the working people, the people who would normally be employed in those positions.

We look at the big picture of shipbuilding in this country. You will note, Mr. Speaker, that there is nothing that passes for a shipbuilding policy in this country. If you look to the United States where, under the provisions of the Jones Act, which is an exemption under the free trade agreement, the Americans have protected their domestic shipbuilding industry by ensuring that where ships are used between points within their own country, that those ships are, in fact, built in that country. (Interruption)

[Page 1104]

I think this is a serious problem that we have here because, of course, Honourable Paul Martin is not a stranger to the shipbuilding industry. He is not a stranger to that endeavour. So you do have to ask the question. I mean, for a person who would be so obviously knowledgeable about the workings of that industry, why it is that he hasn't come forward or influenced his colleagues to come forward with a solid shipbuilding policy which would mean that we would start to re-establish ourselves in the world as a real shipbuilding industrial nation, it is hard to understand.

As you may know, what happens with the investment and infrastructure in shipbuilding is that when you invest in that infrastructure, as you start to build ships and as the number of ships go up that you are building, you get into what is known as a virtuous circle. The more you put through, your overhead costs come down, so the cheaper it becomes to build more ships. Putting that infrastructure in in the first place is the first thing that you have to do. That virtuous circle, of course, is the opposite of what happens when you don't do that. Because when you don't do it, what you do is you get into a downward spiral, which means that, ultimately, your overhead costs continue to go up and the economy of producing ships in your port becomes less and less attractive to the private sector.

My colleague, the member for Queens mentioned to me earlier that he had forgotten to mention the fact that there was some $200 million that was left on the table with respect to harbour clean-up. This is something, of course, of great concern to all of us, because finding a solution to the clean-up of Halifax Harbour is something that has been discussed for many years. It is certainly something that when I was on city council in Dartmouth, we addressed very specifically with respect to the Dartmouth Cove, because, as the members may know, Dartmouth Cove became a particular problem. So when we realized that the province and the federal government were going to be unable to come to a conclusion about how to clean up Halifax Harbour, the City of Dartmouth went ahead on its own and cleaned up Dartmouth Cove for the benefit of all those residents who lived adjacent to what was essentially that sewer shed.

So this is just another example of the inability of this Liberal Government and of the federal Liberal Government to work on behalf and to the benefit of the people of this province. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for the late debate has expired.

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

[Page 1105]



By: Mr. Paul MacEwan (Cape Breton Nova)

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

Whereas the ATV News of May 28th showed a media scrum with Premier Russell MacLellan being interviewed, being interrupted and hijacked by NDP Leader Robert Chisholm; and

Whereas many viewers were shocked, if not appalled, at this spectacle and noted the rude behaviour of the NDP Leader who seemed to be craving media attention; and

Whereas public reaction to this hijacking has been that the honourable Leader of the Opposition lacks leadership qualities, is not leadership material and should be relegated to the backbenches if not sent to protocol school;

Therefore be it resolved that it is high time the honourable Leader of the Opposition grow up, accept that he did not win the last election and do what he said he would do - try to make this Legislature work.