Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Thur., June 18, 1998

First Session

THURSDAY, JUNE 18, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Fin.: Econ. Practices (Topshee Conf.) - Develop, Mr. D. Dexter 1503
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Route 307 (Wallace) - Repave, Mr. E. Fage 1504
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Fish. - TAGS: Replacement - Clarification, The Premier 1504
Commun. Serv. - National Child Benefit, Hon. F. Cosman 1509
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 19, Regional and Community Health Boards Act,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1513
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 764, Health - Summit (Can.): Support Failure - Regret,
Mr. R. Chisholm 1514
Res. 765, Environ. - Tire Recycling: Unevenness - Recognize,
Mr. B. Taylor 1514
Res. 766, Environ. - Ecosystem Preservation: Dedication - Recognize,
Mr. R. White 1515
Vote - Affirmative 1516
Res. 767, Educ. - Literacy: Golf Tournament (Peter Gzowski) -
Organizers Congrats., Hon. R. Harrison 1516
Vote - Affirmative 1516
Res. 768, RCL: Tulip Tribute - Thank, Ms. E. O'Connell 1517
Vote - Affirmative 1517
Res. 769, Environ. - Ecology Action Centre (Sustainable Commun.
Award): Sambro - Congrats., Mr. N. LeBlanc 1517
Vote - Affirmative 1518
Res. 770, Transport (Can.) - Transport Route Can. (Sydney): Workers -
Compensation Request [Gov't. (N.S.)], Ms. Helen MacDonald 1518
Vote - Affirmative 1519
Res. 771, Lbr. - Minimum Wage: Increase - Address, Mr. G. Balser 1519
Res. 772, Lib. Party (N.S.) - Larry Hayes: Principles Exemplification -
Commend, Mr. Kevin Deveaux 1520
Res. 773, Justice - Family Violence Victims: Cell Phones Provision -
Applaud, Mr. M. Baker 1520
Vote - Affirmative 1521
Res. 774, CIFA Radio Station (Clare) - Yvon Thibault:
Recognition (Can.) - Congrats., Hon. W. Gaudet 1521
Vote - Affirmative 1522
Res. 775, Educ. - Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea: School New -
Initiative Parents Congrats., Mr. W Estabrooks 1522
Res. 776, Environ. - Arsenic Poisoning (Whitney Pier): Report -
Table, Mr. J. DeWolfe 1523
Res. 777, Conflict of Interest Commissioner: Former Min.
(B. Boudreau) Conduct - Investigate, Mr. H. Epstein 1523
Res. 778, Educ. - Hants East Elem. School: Community - Congrats.,
Mr. L. Montgomery 1524
Vote - Affirmative 1525
Res. 779, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Women Business Owners
of Canada Ltd.: Success - Wish, Mr. J. Muir 1525
Vote - Affirmative 1526
Res. 780, Fin.: Econ. Practices (Topshee Conf.) - Develop,
Mr. D. Dexter 1526
Res. 781, Fin. - HST: Electricity Relief - Applaud (Gov't. [N.S.]),
Mr. P. MacEwan 1527
Res. 782, Housing & Mun. Affs. - CBRM: Promises
(Expenditure Lower) - Unfulfilled, Mr. F. Corbett 1527
Res. 783, WCB - Appeals: Backlog - Legislation Produce, Mr. M. Baker 1528
Res. 784, Gov't. (N.S.) - Info. Officers: MLAs - Info. Provide,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1529
Res. 785, Culture - Esther Thériault: Publication Children - Commend,
Ms. E. O'Connell 1529
Res. 786, Culture - Truemanville Wild Blueberry Music Festival:
Success - Wish, Mr. E. Fage 1530
Vote - Affirmative 1530
Res. 787, Sports - Skipping: Assoc. Champs. (Can.) -
Host (Bedford Skippers) Congrats., Hon. F. Cosman 1531
Vote - Affirmative 1531
Res. 788, Sports - Special Olympics (N.S.): Colin Bonaparte (Pictou)
Flame Lighter - Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 1532
Vote - Affirmative 1532
Res. 789, Sports - NSSAF Media Award: Diane Hunter
(Springhill Parrsboro Record) - Congrats., Mr. M. Scott 1533
Vote - Affirmative 1533
Res. 790, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - N.S. Internat. Tattoo (1998):
Warmest Wishes - Extend, Mr. G. Balser 1533
Vote - Affirmative 1534
Res. 791, Culture - Josh Litvin (Dal. Co-op School):
Story Contest (Can.) Success - Congrats., Mr. E. Fage 1534
Vote - Affirmative 1535
Res. 792, Culture - Port Greville: Lighthouse Return -
Judy Wheaton Commend, Mr. M. Scott 1535
Vote - Affirmative 1535
Res. 793, Sports - Hockey: Wendell Young (Hfx.) Cups
(Professional [4]) - Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 1536
Vote - Affirmative 1536
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 180, Fin. - Gaming Corp. (PAC [17/06/98]): Evidence -
Discussion (Prem.-DM), Mr. R. Chisholm 1537
No. 181, Fin. - Gaming Corp. (PAC [17/06/98]): Evidence -
Exco Interference, Mr. G. Moody 1538
No. 182, Fin. - Casino: ITT Sheraton - Penalties, Mr. R. Chisholm 1540
No. 183, Fin. - Gaming Corp. (PAC [17/06/98]): Evidence -
Deal Approval, Mr. N. LeBlanc 1541
No. 184, Fin. - Gaming Corp. (PAC [17/06/98]): Evidence -
Revenue Lost, Mr. R. Chisholm 1542
No. 185, Fin. - Gaming Corp. (PAC [17/06/98]): Evidence -
Deal Details Release, Mr. M. Baker 1544
No. 186, Fin. - PAC: Deputy Min. (D. Thompson) - Appear,
Mr. R. Chisholm 1545
No. 187, Educ. - Univ.: Tuition Fees - Increase, Ms. E. O'Connell 1547
No. 188, Fin. - Gaming Corp. (PAC [17/06/98]): Evidence -
Meeting (D. Thompson-R. Fiske [25/09/97]), Mr. J. Leefe 1548
No. 189, Fin. - Gaming Corp. (PAC [17/06/98]): Evidence -
Staff Directives, Mr. R. Chisholm 1549
No. 190, Fin. - Casino: Contract - Amendments (Time Extension),
Mr. B. Taylor 1550
No. 191, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Distribution (N.S.) - Assurances,
Mr. J. Holm 1551
No. 192, EMO - Radio Tower: Maintenance - Tenders, Mr. B. Taylor 1552
No. 193, Fin. - Gaming Corp.: Paper Shredding - Investigate,
Mr. R. Chisholm 1554
No. 194, Health: Regional Bds. - Admin. Costs, Mr. E. Fage 1555
No. 195, Justice - Crown Attorneys: Commitment - Make,
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 1557
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Ms. E. O'Connell 1558
Mr. J. Muir 1561
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:31 P.M. 1562
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 5:53 P.M. 1562
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
DFO - TAGS: Replacement - Adequacy Ensure:
Mr. John Deveau 1563
Hon. K. Colwell 1565
Hon. F. Cosman 1566
Mr. N. LeBlanc 1568
Hon. C. Huskilson 1571
Mr. G. Balser 1572
Mr. Charles MacDonald 1573
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., June 19th at 9:30 a.m. 1573
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 794, Educ. - Landmark East School: PE Excellence - Commend,
Hon. R. Harrison 1574

[Page 1503]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, JUNE 18, 1998

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

12:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we commence with the daily routine, I would advise the members that the subject for the debate at 6:00 p.m. was submitted by the honourable member for Dartmouth South. It reads:

Therefore be it resolved that the federal government must provide an adequate replacement for the TAGS program.

We will commence the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the participants in last weekend's Topshee Conference in Antigonish. The petition reads as follows, "Be it Resolved: That Participants in the Topshee Conference titled PEOPLE FIRST: PURSUING A JUST ECONOMY Request, Urge and Petition the governments of the Atlantic Provinces To pass a resolution followed by legislation to:

1503

[Page 1504]

A. Mandate that all economic and other actions of the government move our society and our environment toward a more just, equitable and sustainable economy that puts people and our shared environment first,

B. Develop and Implement a clear mechanism to evaluate and demonstrate this mandate is being fulfilled, and

C. Establish and Fund a permanent office and group within the Auditor General's department to audit government compliance with this mandate.".

The petition has 146 signatures and I have affixed my signature to the document.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I can hardly hear anybody. Keep the chatter down.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of Wallace and the southern end of Cumberland North in regard to the repaving and reconstruction of Route 307; a five kilometre section remains. I have a petition here signed by several hundred residents and I have affixed my signature as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I stand today to clarify Nova Scotia's position on a replacement program for The Atlantic Groundfish Strategy, or TAGS. (Applause)

We have had ongoing meetings with our federal counterparts and we were disappointed with the version of the post-TAGS program proposed informally by federal officials in recent weeks. Again this week I discussed my concerns about TAGS with the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister, I think, listened quite attentively. We discussed, as we have done before

[Page 1505]

in recent months, the importance of an ongoing and strong federal role in providing a meaningful replacement for the TAGS program that will truly provide a sense of hope in our coastal communities devastated by the downturn of the fishing industry.

I also talked with Minister Anderson and Minister Pettigrew on the subject and our officials have been working for months, at all levels, to explain our case. Nova Scotia's position on the replacement program for TAGS has been clear and it has been consistent.

There is no question, there will be a tremendous impact on this province when the TAGS program ends. The downturn in the fishing industry is truly a tragedy for the people involved and for the province as a whole. The viability of some communities is threatened by the end of TAGS. Hundreds of people have already extinguished their TAGS benefits, and more than 5,000 people are due to conclude their participation in the program in August. This will be devastating for them, for their communities and, indeed, for the entire province.

But as necessary as the TAGS program has been, many people from inside and outside the industry recognize that it has had some serious flaws. The federal government's own evaluation of the TAGS program has identified those problems in detail. Eugene Harrigan, the author of one of the studies, talked to hundreds of fishermen across Atlantic Canada. He pointed out that some aspects of TAGS were ill-conceived and that it did not fulfill its objective of helping people leave the fishery.

We have impressed upon the federal government the need to be realistic about the state of the fish stocks as the post-TAGS program unfolds. This is a complex, long-term problem. TAGS proves that a different approach is needed. There must be an appropriate level of funding for the post-TAGS program.

We believe the Government of Canada must provide is a multifaceted replacement program that will offset the negative effects of TAGS. We have argued strongly for five components:

an early retirement program for older workers; is a licence retirement program that is preferably determined in consultation with the fishing industry and communities affected; community economic development support, particularly for communities with a heavy dependence on TAGS. A replacement program must re-establish development activities in small coastal communities; income support that will provide a realistic bridge for people as they prepare for careers outside of the fishing industry. Our experience suggests that a longer term approach to income support is needed;

[Page 1506]

and meaningful retraining opportunities, through employment assistance programs. The federal government eliminated the training component from TAGS, so many TAGS recipients did not participate fully in training programs.

We have pressed upon the federal government the importance of providing some flexibility in these programs. With provincial and local input, they must be tailored, where possible, to the needs of specific communities and individuals. The replacement program for TAGS should be designed to help people apply their strong worth ethic in other fields of endeavour.

Fishermen are known as hard workers. To be out on the high seas requires a strength of spirit, Mr. Speaker. We have that as an advantage and even though the federal government removed the training component from the TAGS program, 22 per cent of people in the industry did move on to other jobs. We know it can be done.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to table a report that outlines Nova Scotia's position. We have been working for months with federal officials. The Opposition has requested that this be tabled. We have lobbied very effectively and I believe our work will yield results for Nova Scotia. I am hoping the federal government will accept our recommendations - I do not think we will have long to wait to find out - and that they will provide sufficient funding for the TAGS replacement program. Our fishing communities have not yet had time to adjust to the new realities of the industry and there is more work to do.

The Prime Minister has assured me that the federal government has considered our advice. A post-TAGS program will offer new opportunities for Nova Scotians he assures me. People who see the end of the TAGS program will have something to fall back on, but it will also be important for them to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the new programs. Our approach is a uniquely Nova Scotian one. For each of our people, the end of TAGS will be difficult. However, as a province, we are committed to working with the federal government to make this adjustment a good adjustment, as good as we possibly can. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate, as obviously the members opposite do, that the Premier has clarified the government's position. But I think clarify is the important word. I mean all of this discussion and debate around the nature of the replacement program for TAGS has been going on and we have had almost silence from this government in terms of what their position has been.

[Page 1507]

It took a special request here in this House to get the government to table a report, their position that had been submitted to government on behalf of Nova Scotians, and in this statement the government says, you know, we are working on behalf of fishermen. Why doesn't the government have confidence enough in those people who fish, those people who work in the industry, to discuss with them how the province is going to respond to an issue that will have such a significant impact on their lives and the lives of people in their particular community? I mean that clearly is a question that has to be asked.

The report that was tabled, the Nova Scotia Position Paper, of May 1998, why was this not discussed with other members of this House before it was sent to Ottawa? Maybe other members of this House could have had something to offer on this. Maybe fishermen and other people involved in the industry around the province could have had something to add to this particular position. But, oh no, oh no, once again the government, as the Premier said after the election, figures it is business as usual. Well, that is not the case, clearly that is not the case. This government is still operating though as if it is business as usual.

[12:15 p.m.]

I want to say also, that the Premier has not made a clear statement of what his government will do, if the plan that has been proposed and details of which have been leaked comes down, what will his government do? Has he laid an ultimatum on the table, as other Premiers have, in order to try to force the government's hand? That question has not been answered.

But we will have another opportunity today, there will be a late debate this afternoon that will be initiated by my colleague, the Fisheries Critic for the Official Opposition, the MLA from Yarmouth, Mr. Deveau, and we will have an opportunity to discuss in more detail, what the response should be from the Province of Nova Scotia on an issue that affects the very foundation of many coastal communities in this province. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to stand today and to respond to the Premier's statement. I would like to say, first of all, that during the estimates of the Minister of Fisheries, that I did ask for the position of the province to be put forward, and he assured me that it would be. I am very pleased today that the Premier of this province put forward this statement. I would like to congratulate the Premier. (Applause)

I would like to say congratulations, because I can't speak out of both sides of my mouth. I have said publicly many times, I probably have done in the past. However this time, I am going to be very specific. I have asked the Premier to become involved in this issue. I have asked the Premier to become involved in other issues. Today he stood up, and he outlined the plan of province. I think that is a positive step. Now this is a step that must be

[Page 1508]

continued. I think we as Oppositions have to be responsible in what we say and what we do. When we ask the Premier to take a position and to be the advocate for fishermen along with this House, then when he does so, we will congratulate him.

What transpires from this moment on, he will be judged by his actions. I think he agrees with that. That is all part of being an elected official and obviously, of being the Premier. I look at the document, and there are many things in it with which I agree. One of the proponents is that Nova Scotians will be treated fairly. We in Nova Scotia should have the ability to be treated as fairly as those who are in Newfoundland or on the West Coast. I think that we as Nova Scotians should accept no less than that. In the document, in what little time I have had in opportunity to review it, that is one of the principles that is outlined in it.

Also in this document are components, such as not only an income support program for people who are going to be affected by the fishery, but also provisions for retraining and for new opportunities. Because the reality is, we will not be able to maintain the fishery as it was in the middle 1980's. As much as we would dearly love to have that be the case, that is not reality. Some people who are involved in the fishery will move on. But we must put provisions in place, or the infrastructure in place, so that they can receive that training, and perhaps find a new life for themselves and for their families. So, in this proposal are some of those components, and I applaud the government for that.

Another that I mentioned in my estimates, and my comments will not be too long, Mr. Speaker, is in regards to a license buy-back. That was one of the biggest failings that happened in the first TAGS program that came out. It was for people who were wishing to move on. Many people in the fishing industry were looking to move on, and there were many obstructions to people looking to sell their licenses and receiving fair compensation, and perhaps looking towards retirement.

One specific one was, that if you wanted to sell your groundfish license, you had to sell all your other licenses. There were many restrictions that many people found totally unpalatable, and were not willing to accept. Because of that, the buy-back provisions of TAGS 1 was a complete and utter failure. I am looking forward to the government taking suggestions from myself and from members of our caucus, as to any dialogue that takes place. I hope in all sincerity, that this is the start of an open dialogue in TAGS because it affects my constituency in many ways, it affects the honourable member for Shelburne, who resides along my riding. Many of us have made our livelihood on groundfish, and have been affected negatively by the downturn. So we look with optimism that there is a dialogue happening here and that it will continue. I take the Premier at his word that he will continue to discuss this with our caucus because I think this is a very serious issue and if we can work together the province will benefit. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 1509]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, too many Canadian children live in poverty, a situation that puts them at risk of experiencing problems that can last a lifetime. While many children from low-income families grow up and out of poverty, some people who begin as disadvantaged children never realize their full potential.

In June 1996, the Prime Minister and the Premiers made child poverty a collective priority. The federal, provincial and territorial governments have been working together and the first major national program to address this problem is about to begin.

The National Child Benefit is a commitment by Canadian governments to help children living in poverty. This innovative and progressive new program will begin next month across Canada. It will give disadvantaged children a better start in life by improving benefits and services for their families. It will also help their parents enter and stay in the workforce so they can better meet the needs of their children.

Starting in July, the National Child Benefit will provide enhanced federal benefits to low-income families with children. This new Canada Child Tax Benefit will provide more money for low-income families with a family income of up to $20,921.

At the same time, provinces and territories are introducing complementary benefits and services for low-income families. Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia is very proud to be part of an historic program to help prevent and reduce child poverty in Canada. As part of the National Child Benefit Program, the Government of Nova Scotia will be offering special programs and services to support families and children in this province.

The Nova Scotia Child Benefit is a new monthly payment to help low-income families with children who have incomes below $16,000. The Nova Scotia Child Benefit will be paid each month along with the federal Canada Child Tax Benefit payment. Families who qualify will receive annual payments from Nova Scotia of $250 for the first child, $168 for the second child and $136 for each child after. The first monthly payment under the Nova Scotia Child Benefit will be made in October. It will include Nova Scotia Child Benefit payments for the months of August, September and October.

For families with children and who are receiving social assistance or family benefits, they will continue to receive at least the same monthly income they get now from all sources. They will also benefit from the complementary programs and services for low-income children made available through the provincial reinvestment funds.

[Page 1510]

As part of the National Child Benefit program, the Nova Scotia Government will also expand and strengthen programs and services in child care, prevention and early intervention. These Healthy Child Development Initiatives are designed to give children a better start in life and to build a better future for children and for our society.

Children's needs must be met in an environment which is safe and healthy and which is designed to maximize a child's potential. Research tells us that there are particular ingredients needed for healthy child development to occur.

Nova Scotia is supporting healthy child development by taking the following steps:

Extending current community-based prevention programs by building on the current established partnerships, parent education programs and parent support programs;

Strengthening and expanding Early Intervention Programs and providing services for an additional 75 special needs children in under-serviced areas;

Strengthening and expanding centre-based child care by adding up to 80 subsidized child care spaces and 30 portable child care spaces for special needs children in centres across the province; and

Setting up a new model of private home care to support low-income rural families, including an anticipated 70 subsidized home child care spaces.

These programs and services will be developed and offered in cooperation with existing public and private agencies. They will be developed through consultations with key stakeholders and they will have both a provincial and regional focus.

These Healthy Child Development Initiatives will add to what we already have in place to help families and to help children. Nova Scotia has 2,300 subsidized spaces for low-income parents and we will continue to increase that number. We are moving forward on our preventive approach to helping children and families. We have begun a Healthy Start pilot project to prevent child abuse and support healthy development. We are developing a child nutrition strategy. As I announced earlier this week, we are providing new regional treatment and placement options for children who require special residential care. The province is investing $10 million with the administrative takeover, last April, of social assistance programs in 52 municipalities. As a result, about 70 per cent of the former municipal clients, mainly families with children, saw an immediate increase in their benefits.

[Page 1511]

Mr. Speaker, the National Child Benefit is an excellent example of how political Parties from across this country can get together and put aside their philosophical differences to develop a program that will benefit children living in poverty. As part of that program, Nova Scotia is investing over $14 million each year.

The problem of children living in poverty will not be overcome with any one program, but the National Child Benefit, I believe, is an excellent and necessary start. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would want to commend the minister on providing the National Child Benefit program and providing additional funding to families with low incomes.

I also want to remind the minister, and I am sure the minister is very much aware, that Nova Scotia has become the third highest province with children living in poverty in Canada. As a matter of fact, it is a result of the federal Government of Canada's initiation through budget deliberations, in bringing down the finances of Canada, that we are paying a price at the provincial level as well, and as a result of that, across Canada. Under the Liberal rule, one would obviously recognize that, in fact, poverty has increased to over $1 million, and that is the number of children living in poverty in Canada, and in Nova Scotia, a significantly high number as well.

I want to mention, Mr. Speaker, to the minister, although we have had continuous conversation, in your presentation there with respect to low-income families, I do note that there are other children living in poverty and those are children who, in fact, are on family benefits. There are some significant increases, but I do have some concerns when I hear that social assistance or family benefits, they will continue to receive at least the same monthly income that they get now from all sources. I really do not know what that picture really means, and I want to be able to reflect on that on a later date. I will probably bring that up during the estimates deliberations.

I am also concerned that I do not know if any of the advocacy groups have been contacted with respect to the implementations of the National Child Benefit program. You will note that I brought a resolution, approximately one month ago, before the Legislature that was supported by all Parties that, in fact, all advocacy groups and everyone be prepared to have consultation and provide input with respect to the National Child Care Program. I do not know if, in fact, that is taking place or not. I would like to know if, in fact, that is.

[Page 1512]

[12:30 p.m.]

I would also say that we do recognize the increased day care spaces. We do recognize that if, in fact, there are low-income families, we also have to recognize that low-income families are a result of low wages and, in fact, I heard, yesterday I believe it was, from the Minister of Labour the increase with respect to the minimum wage. If we really want to drive low-income families' incomes up and provide benefits, we should be doing that through the Minister of Labour in making sure that that takes place as well. I want to say that that is the most proactive measure that one can possibly do.

I want to say that the overall picture is that we recognize that there has been an increase and we recognize that, in fact, poverty does exist and that it took five years of Liberal Reign to bring in a National Child Care Program but, nonetheless, it is here. The bottom line is that we have to recognize that $250 annually for a single family is not significant when we recognize that, in fact, in Nova Scotia you pay 15 per cent tax, HST tax, on all the consumer goods that you purchase under $100. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to hear the minister comment on the National Child Benefit Program in the House today. Clearly the issue of child poverty has been a major concern of the Progressive Conservative Party and we made a number of proposals in our election platform.

I have not had the opportunity to study this in detail, but there are a number of items in it which seem to me to be reasonable. I am not sure, I appreciate the increase of 80 subsidized spaces in day care in the province, but I think, if we listen to the advocacy groups and I have talked with a number of them since becoming a member, that that is simply not enough and the province is going to have to find a way to provide more. The extra 70 spaces for children who have special needs is, again, a start but it should not be taken as anything really significant. We need a lot more. It simply should be seen as a beginning, not as an end point. The healthy child initiatives are good in extending some of those things which we have ongoing.

The province is taking over social services and I guess the minister indicated $10 million is what was included as a result of picking up the social service benefits in 52 municipalities. I would simply like to report, Mr. Speaker, that like all members of this House, the number of calls that I receive as a member in my constituency, the great majority of them have to do with social services benefits. This is clearly something, $10 million, again a start, and should not be looked at as an end point.

[Page 1513]

The other thing that I would like to encourage the minister to do, and recognizing that this was primarily an initiative from the federal government, is that, as the honourable member for Dartmouth North said, that this is not going to be simply solved by your department. It is going to take an initiative from the Education Department, Community Services Department, and the Department of Economic Development. As my wife keeps telling me, it takes a whole village to raise a child and if we are going to cure this business of child poverty in Nova Scotia, we have to take a look at it collectively by everybody. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South for an introduction.

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Northrup who are in the Speaker's Gallery and if they would rise. They are here for their grandson's graduation from high school. Mr. Northrup is a former member of the Indiana State Legislature and I am sure he will find the proceedings here of great interest. I would ask the House to greet them. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, on an introduction.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, up in the west gallery is the Member of Parliament for Sackville-Eastern Shore, Peter Stoffer, also known as Landslide Pete. Maybe the Legislature can give a good round of applause to him, please. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition, on an introduction.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I just felt that since we are on a bit of a roll with introductions, I, too, would like to introduce two people who are contributing a significant degree to the life of this province and certainly the lives and the future of the Aboriginal community, two officials from the Union of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaqs, Bern Christmas and Dan Christmas. I would like to ask if they would stand and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 19 - Entitled an Act to Establish Regional and Community Health Boards. (Ms. Maureen MacDonald)

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

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NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 764

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

Whereas representatives of at least a dozen citizens' health groups joined the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Third Party yesterday to endorse the Canadian Health Coalition's call for a national health care summit; and

Whereas the proposed Canadian health care summit is an important vehicle through which Canadians and Nova Scotians can rededicate themselves and their governments to preserving and improving our universal and accessible health care system; and

Whereas the Minister of Health has responded to this vital citizens' initiative by once again denying that there are serious problems in the health care system that need to be dealt with;

Therefore be it resolved that this House deeply regret the failure of Nova Scotia's current Minister of Health to support the Canadian Health Coalition's call for a national health care summit.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 765

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

Whereas Tire Recycling Atlantic Canada Corporation, TRACC, was given political preference by this Liberal Government relative to establishing a tire recycling facility in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the heavily subsidized corporation is now in direct competition with many existing Nova Scotia enterprises such as Melanson's Forging in Digby County and Atlantic Rubber Recyclers in Debert, Colchester County; and

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Whereas existing tire recycling enterprises do not receive a cent from this province's tire tax, despite the fact that they, too, collect used tires and process them into value added products, yet and unfairly TRACC gets $2.50 for every passenger tire equivalent that it processes;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government recognize that it has created an uneven playing field and immediately negotiate some provision that will protect existing Nova Scotia tire recycling businesses or provide them with the same passenger tire equivalent fee.

I ask for waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 766

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

Whereas Environment Minister Donald Downe recently presented 23 Nova Scotian citizens, companies and community groups dedicated to preserving the provincial ecosystem; and

Whereas the certificate of merit in the youth category was awarded to the SAERC Highland Thunder Electric Racing Team of Port Hawkesbury; and

Whereas a certificate of merit was also awarded to Marian Williams' and Julie Doyle's project exploring the growth of moulds at Guysborough High School;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge that this government can make a difference in the quality of our environment and recognize the incredible creativity of residents who are committed to protecting our province's ecosystem.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 767

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

Whereas the Peter Gzowski Invitation Golf Tournament for Literacy held June 14th and 15th at the Bell Bay Golf Club in Baddeck was a tremendous success; and

Whereas to be literate gives one the ability to participate in family, work and community activities as well as to make choices and take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves; and

Whereas the Peter Gzowski invitational tournaments have raised more than $250,000 here in Nova Scotia during the past five years to help support local literacy programs;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the members of this year's PGI organizing committee and its Chairman, Mickey Woodford, for their efforts to this most worthwhile cause.

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.

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The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 768

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 beginning in 1994, Canadians all over the country planted tulips to commemorate Canadians who fought in the two World Wars; and

Whereas for each tulip planted somewhere in the country, included those at the base of the statue of Joseph Howe outside Province House, another was planted in the capital region; and

Whereas this week, the Canadian Legion's National Commemorative Wall, the Tulip Tribute, is on display at the Royal Canadian Legion in Fairview;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank the Royal Canadian Legion for the Tulip Tribute and other remembrances of Canadians' service to our country in time of war.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 769

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 Ecology Action Centre is giving its 1998 Sustainable Community Award to the coastal community of Sambro; and

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Whereas Sambro, which pioneered community-based management of the groundfish fishery industry was the first location for community quotas managed by a board of local fishermen; and

Whereas the other finalists of this year's award were Cow Bay on the Eastern Shore and Johnstown of Richmond County, Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House extend congratulations to the people of Sambro on their winning of the Sustainable Community Award and also acknowledge the efforts of the other worthy finalists in this year's competition.

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 Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 770

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

Whereas in the 1980's, the Mulroney Tories sold CN's trucking operation to Transport Route Canada; and

Whereas over 10 years, 16 workers have been fighting for compensation following the closure of Transport Route Canada, Sydney's terminal; and

Whereas Transport Canada claims the 16 workers do not qualify for a piece of the $12.5 million voluntary payment by that department;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government request their federal counterparts to act in a manner that demonstrates equality and fairness by awarding these workers their owed compensation.

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MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

AN HON. MEMBER: Waive notice?

MR. SPEAKER: I am sorry, was there a request for waiver?

AN HON. MEMBER: No, there was none.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: There was 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 Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 771

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 minimum wage rate for the Province of Nova Scotia is set at $5.50 per hour, a full 35 cents below the Canadian average; and

Whereas people who receive minimum wage remuneration represent in excess of one-quarter of the workforce and clearly fall within the definition of working poor; and

Whereas there is a growing recognition that the working poor of Nova Scotia do not receive a level of remuneration sufficient to allow them a standard of living above the subsistence level;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Labour move quickly to address the issue of an increase to the minimum wage for Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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[12:45 p.m.]

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 772

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

Whereas the Premier has expressed confidence that Liberal bagman and ITT Sheraton lawyer, Larry Hayes, would do everything above board; and

Whereas the Premier's confidence in Larry Hayes is shared by other powerful Liberals who entrusted Mr. Hayes with custody of the Liberal's tainted trust funds; and

Whereas his experience with trust funds raised in part by Liberal toll-gating of the liquor industry makes him uniquely qualified to deal with the Liberal Government on behalf of the gambling industry;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commends Larry Hayes for exemplifying the principles that the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia has come to represent.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 773

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

Whereas new partnerships with many organizations, both in the public and private sectors, have assisted in addressing family violence issues; and

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Whereas it is in the public interest to reach into the community to form partnerships that will improve the response of the justice system to victims of family violence; and

Whereas the Department of Justice, Bryony House and MT&T Mobility launched the Victim's First Program which will provide victims of violence with free cellular phones and access to 911 in order to ensure access to emergency services even when away from home;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend Bryony House and MT&T Mobility for their dedication to protecting those who are vulnerable and recognize the tremendous contribution made by them towards providing a new level of security and support to victims of violence.

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 Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 774

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

Whereas French language community radio stations, such as CIFA in Clare serve a special role in giving a sense of community to the Acadian villages in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Yvon Thibault of Saulnierville has been one of the key volunteers behind the success of the radio station CIFA in Clare, having served as manager, president and broadcast host for numerous programs since 1993; and

Whereas Yvon Thibault was honoured by his peers across the country on June 6th at a celebration of the Alliance of French Language Community Radio Stations in Ottawa with the Serge-Jacob Prize for Outstanding Volunteer Contribution;

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Yvon Thibault for the national recognition he received and for his work in making radio station, CIFA, a valuable community resource.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 775

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

Whereas many school vacations will be starting soon; and

Whereas the concerned parents of Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea continue to meet to express their frustrations with the lack of school construction in their community; and

Whereas the Parent Education Action Committee will continue to meet through the summer and update area residents via the school website and the school homework hotline all summer long;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea parents for their initiative in the school vacation ahead as they continue to coordinate their year-round quest for a new school for their children.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

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The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 776

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

Whereas the Minister of the Environment has been exceptionally quiet for nearly a week since details on high levels of arsenic in local waterways near Frederick Street in Whitney Pier first appeared in the provincial media; and

Whereas Joint Action Group member Fran Morrison recently resigned from her position as a member of JAG citing the Frederick Street situation as one of her reasons; and

Whereas Ms. Morrison was recently quoted in Cape Breton Post article as saying "after being invited down to the site by another member of JAG - what I saw was horrifying - there were little children playing on one side of a fence marked human health hazard, while men were working just over the fence wearing respirators and protective clothing."

Therefore be it resolved that prior to the closure of the House of Assembly today, the Minister of Environment table in this Legislature a report on the remediation efforts presently under way to rid the waterway near Frederick Street, in Whitney Pier, of its high content of arsenic poisoning.

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 Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 777

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

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Whereas Section 24 of the Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act prohibits, for a six month period, former members of Cabinet from acting on behalf of any person in connection with matters coming before their former department; and

Whereas Mr. Bernie Boudreau, the former Minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation, immediately upon leaving office, took a position as counsel with the law firm which represents ITT Sheraton; and

Whereas the Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act provides for an investigation by the Conflict of Interest Commissioner of matters dealt with in that Act;

Therefore be it resolved that this House hereby request the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to carry out an investigation under Section 27B(1) of the Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act, respecting the conduct of the former Minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation, Mr. Bernie Boudreau.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I am not sure if that notice of motion is in order, because it is a request for the House, whereas to have the commissioner investigate a member, it is up to an individual member to take that particular process through its course.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I understand your point about the fact that it can be an individual member. I don't know though that that precludes the House from urging the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to take that under advisement.

MR. SPEAKER: I can put the question, if the honourable members wish it, because the House makes the rules.

There has been a request for waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 778

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

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Whereas the Hants East Elementary School will be one of more than 30 schools this government is building over the next several years; and

Whereas construction of the new Hants East Elementary School got under way on schedule Monday, June 15th; and

Whereas the Hants East Elementary School will open its doors in September, 1999, in partnership with the Chignecto Central Regional School Board and TR3LC Nova;

Therefore be it resolved that the members extend congratulations to the members of the Hants East Education Task Force, the Chignecto Central Regional School Board, and the entire school community for their hard work and continuing support for their new school.

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 Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 779

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

Whereas more than 700,000 Canadian firms employing 1.7 million Canadians are led by women; and

Whereas Women Business Owners of Canada Limited, a new national non-profit organization that supports women-owned-and-operated businesses, was launched yesterday in Halifax, and other major centres around the country; and

Whereas this new national organization, sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada and IBM Canada Limited, is designed to promote sharing of information, facilitate business-to-business connections, and liaise with private sector industry and government;

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Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Nova Scotia companies participating in this national endeavour, thank the corporate sponsors for recognizing the tremendous contribution of women-led businesses to our national economy, and wish the Women Business Owners of Canada success in its efforts to promote the growth and development of women-owned-and-operated businesses.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 780

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

Whereas 300 Nova Scotians, including four members of the New Democratic Party caucus, participated this past weekend in the Annual Topshee Conference, whose theme was People First: Pursuing a Just Economy; and

Whereas the participants signed a petition for just, equitable and sustainable economic practises which has been tabled in this House; and

Whereas Topshee participants agreed that all the actions of government must move our society and our environment toward a more just, equitable and sustainable economy that puts people and our shared environment first;

Therefore be it resolved that the Government of Nova Scotia proceed with the development and implementation of a mechanism to evaluate and demonstrate the fulfilment of that mandate.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 781

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

Whereas Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition has distorted the HST relief contained in the budget, pretending it will apply only to those with electric heat rather than all users of electricity;

and

Whereas segments of the press have swallowed the NDP line and disseminated the impression that somehow the general electric consumer will not receive this rebate, but only those who utilize electric home heat; and

Whereas anyone familiar with electricity billing would know that electric heat costs are not segregated or metered on a separate bill, but that all electric costs are measured and appear together on one and the same bill for all electric consumers, unless they have separate wiring systems and meters;

Therefore be it resolved that the HST relief contained in this government's budget will be welcomed by all Nova Scotians who use electricity, and that when they receive their credit on their power bills, they will applaud the Liberals and renounce the NDP and all their works.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 782

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

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Whereas the Liberals promised that amalgamation of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality would save money and lead to lower property taxes; and

Whereas taxes in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality are already scheduled to go up by 1 per cent this year; and

Whereas further Liberal downloading of education costs threatens to add another 1.1 per cent increase to Cape Breton Regional Municipality tax bills;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Liberals for breaking two more promises, that amalgamation would save money and that there would be no further downloading of education costs onto the municipalities.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 783

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

Whereas there is a backlog of approximately 2,400 cases before the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal; and

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia has failed to produce any legislation specifically designed to address the backlog of cases before the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal; and

Whereas injured workers waiting for justice expect their cases will be adjudicated within a defined time limit;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly request that the Government of Nova Scotia immediately produce legislation for review by the all-Party Committee of the House of Assembly dealing with these matters so changes can be made during this session of the Legislature to address the backlog of cases at the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

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RESOLUTION NO. 784

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

Whereas the government tabled its spending in Transportation and Public Works Estimates along with those of the other departments in this House on June 4th; and

Whereas debate on these estimates requires information and detail that is not included in the printed estimates distributed to members; and

Whereas the Department of Transportation and Public Works refuses to provide additional information referring all queries to the estimates debates;

Therefore be it resolved that this government, which has invested heavily in information officers, employ this investment in providing information to members in this House.

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 785

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 Esther Thériault, an employee of Hansard Reporting Services, has co-authored with Matthew O'Neill, a children's book entitled, George the friendly dragon; and

Whereas this book was published by New World Publishing, a Halifax firm; and

Whereas since the book's publication many children have enjoyed both the antics of George and the book's message that it is okay to be different;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend Esther Thériault and pledge to continue to provide inspiration for her children's work, especially her upcoming series on legislative animals including: Kennie Coyote, Robbie Rattlesnake, Francene the Fluffy Bunny and Arsenic for Possum Paul.

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MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 786

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

Whereas the Wild Blueberry Music Festival will take place on Sunday, August 23rd, in support of the Truemanville Volunteer Fire Department; and

Whereas headlining this year's list of performers is the Godfather of Celtic Music in Canada, John Allan Cameron of Cape Breton; and

Whereas the festival will also include performances by the Fenwick Mountain Boys and fiddling duo Rodney MacDonald and Glenn Graham, as well as a pork and beef barbeque and the festival's theme dessert, dishes featuring blueberries;

Therefore be it resolved that all the members of the House of Assembly wish the Truemanville Wild Blueberry Music Festival organizers all the best for another successful year and thank all those participating in the event.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

MR. GERALD FOGARTY: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order in connection with the notice of motion that you had tabled a short while ago - this notice of motion came from the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto - which called into question the action of a former minister of this government. I believe if we checked the record and the dates, Mr. Boudreau resigned as a member of Cabinet when he decided to contest the leadership of the Liberal Party, the six month period which is necessary for a minister who resigned; then it was more than six months after that that he resigned as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. So, in other words, I think the six month period that a member of Cabinet must resign before he acts

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on behalf of any person in connection with matters coming before that former department, I believe, Mr. Speaker, the six month period was met by Mr. Boudreau. Therefore, I would say that this notice of motion is out of order.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a disagreement between two members as to a time-frame and that is not a point of order.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 787

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

Whereas the Bedford Skippers is a group of young people in Bedford, under the direction of Ed Cooper, who have in the past demonstrated outstanding commitment and skill in this sport; and

Whereas there is a Canadian Skipping Association Championship held every year in a host city; and

Whereas because of their enthusiasm and commitment to the sport and because of a dedicated team of volunteers, the annual Canadian Skipping Championships will be held this summer, for the first time ever, in the Atlantic Region; and

Whereas the host club for this event of over 200 athletes from across Canada is the Bedford Skippers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mr. Cooper, the young skippers and the organizing committee on this exciting summer event taking place in Halifax from July 5th to July 7th.

Mr. Speaker, I am asking for 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.

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The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 788

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

Whereas 18 year old Colin Bonaparte of Pictou lit the Nova Scotia Special Olympics flame during Friday night's opening ceremonies at Huskies Stadium in Halifax; and

Whereas Mr. Bonaparte is an outfielder and a second baseman for the Pictou County Bulldogs; and

Whereas Michelin is the exclusive sponsor of the Special Olympic Summer Games and held the ceremony at the Granton plant on Thursday;

Therefore be it resolved that all the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Colin Bonaparte on being selected to light the flame as well as all of the participants on their stellar athletic achievements and thank the many dedicated volunteers, coaches and fans as well as Michelin for sponsoring the Special Olympics.

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.

I don't know if we had any Ayes on that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: We had one Aye.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

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RESOLUTION NO. 789

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

Whereas Diane Hunter, sports reporter for the Springhill-Parrsboro Record, was nominated for recognition for her commitment to sports reporting in Cumberland County by covering many events and travelling many miles; and

Whereas the schools and students in Cumberland County contribute greatly to their communities and sports is one of the areas which brings great pride to the communities; and

Whereas Diane Hunter was a recipient of the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Media Award during Advocate District High School's annual sports banquet;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature extend congratulations and best wishes to Diane Hunter on receiving this much-deserved award.

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 Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 790

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 1998 Nova Scotia International Tattoo which takes place from July 1st to July 7th is honouring the 125th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; and

Whereas the Tattoo features acts from around the world such as the Copenhagen Police Band, Germany's Gym Wheel Display Group, and more than 30 athletes from France as well as Canadian performers; and

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Whereas the 1998 Tattoo, which receives outstanding support from the many tourists it attracts on a yearly basis from around the world, begins on Canada Day with a parade featuring over 1,500 of this year's performers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly extend their warmest wishes to the performers and organizers of Nova Scotia's International Tattoo as they honour the 125th Anniversary of the RCMP and encourage everyone to come and watch what promises to be the best Tattoo yet.

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 Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 791

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

Whereas 11 year old Josh Litvin of Halifax has won a national story-writing contest for his work Buster; and

Whereas YTV, a youth oriented network, is turning his story about an invisible bully into a television show to be aired on its new program Incredible Story Studio; and

Whereas Josh, who attends Grade 5 at Dalhousie Cooperative School, will be taped introducing his story to the many national viewers of YTV;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate Josh on his award-winning story, Buster, and wish him continued success in his writing and in all of his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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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 Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 792

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 Port Greville lighthouse was recently returned to the community after an absence of 18 years; and

Whereas without consultation with the community, the Liberal Government of Pierre Elliott Trudeau removed the lighthouse and moved it to Cape Breton 18 long years ago; and

Whereas the lighthouse was welcomed back to Port Greville recently by a caravan of cars that travelled with it from Parrsboro to the heritage centre in Port Greville;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature commend resident Judy Wheaton and all of those who assisted in ensuring a piece of the cultural heritage of Port Greville is now back in its proper place.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 1536]

RESOLUTION NO. 793

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

Whereas Halifax native and goaltender, Wendell Young, has now played for three professional hockey teams and been on four championship teams while also having played and won a fifth major championship in his junior years as a member of the Memorial Cup Kitchener Rangers; and

Whereas the four professional championships have taken place on all levels, including two Stanley Cups at Pittsburgh; a Calder Cup, with the American Hockey League's Hershey Bears; and the latest being a Turner Cup, with the International Hockey League's Chicago Wolverines; and

Whereas Wendell's parents, his wife, his in-laws, and Wendell's younger brother, Michael were on hand in Chicago earlier this week to witness the seventh and deciding game of the International Hockey League final, between the Chicago Wolverines and the Detroit Vipers, Wendell shut the Vipers out;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature extend our warmest wishes to Mr. Young and his family in being able to reach the pinnacle of success in professional hockey, on four separate occasions and on another occasion in Major Junior A.

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 Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, thank you for recognizing me. I would like to ask all honourable members to join me in welcoming the delegates participating in the Netherlands-Nova Scotia Health Forum 1998. They are located in the east gallery. They are accompanied by Dr. Ronald Stewart who may be familiar to some members of the Legislature. (Applause)

[Page 1537]

This distinguished delegation represents a wide range of health policy sectors, including government officials, leaders in health policy organizations, and academics from the Netherlands. Our Department of Health, in affiliation with Health Canada is assisting the forum and facilitating a valuable exchange of information on our respective health care systems. On behalf of the Assembly, I thank you for extending the warmest welcome, and our desire that they enjoy a successful conference. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The time now is 1:13 p.m. We will terminate Question Period at 2:13 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN. - GAMING CORP. (PAC [17/06/98]):

EVIDENCE - DISCUSSION (PREM.-DM)

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. The allegations made yesterday about the involvement of the Premier's Office and that other members of Cabinet had direct dealings with ITT Sheraton have left an image with many Nova Scotians that some of the most powerful politicians in this province are being yanked around by a string by the operators of casinos in the Province of Nova Scotia. They need answers, we need answers.

Yesterday in response to questions on the involvement of the Premier's own Deputy Minister, he said that he had not asked Mr. Thompson about the allegations made by Mr. Fiske up to that point. I want to ask the Premier here today, has he talked with his Deputy Minister, David Thompson, about the allegations by Mr. Fiske, and what is it that Mr. Thompson has said?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Thompson has told me that under no circumstances did he do what Mr. Fiske alleged he did.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me just say that I think Nova Scotians' confidence in this Premier is shaken by the fact that extremely serious allegations were made eight months ago about the involvement of his office in a very significant matter relative to the operation of casinos in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

[Page 1538]

MR. CHISHOLM: This Premier hasn't lifted a finger to determine the extent of those allegations. My question to the Premier, my first supplementary is, if he could explain to Nova Scotians why it is that it took those allegations becoming public, through the Public Accounts Committee, for him to finally ask his deputy minister, or for that matter, anybody else in his staff, what in fact happened around the resignation of Mr. Fiske?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this is incredible. This is an allegation against everybody who works in government, that you have to go around every day and ask him, did you do something wrong, did you do something that was illegal, did you do something that was untoward. The fact of the matter is we have got good people in the service of the Province of Nova Scotia. I am not going to go around and cast aspersions on their role and their dedication to this province by questioning them every day as to what they did, as to whether it was legal or not legal. (Applause)

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. CHISHOLM: I guess the question has to be asked whether or not every day allegations are made about the involvement of the deputy minister in the day-to-day operations of the Gaming Corporation, Mr. Speaker. My question to the Premier, clearly this is a question of the public interests and the purpose of the Gaming Control Act and whether or not they have been properly defended and advanced. I want to ask the Premier, given the fact that there has been so many serious allegations raised about the involvement of his office in this matter, will he agree to an independent judicial inquiry into the involvement of the Gaming Corporation, the Premier's Office and ITT Sheraton?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Fiske, as a former employee in the gaming business has the ability to go to the regulator and have the regulator report to the RCMP and say that these allegations have been made. It is right there in the process. In fact, it is not only an option for Mr. Fiske, it is a statutory responsibility, that if he has seen something wrong, he has to do this.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

FIN. - GAMING CORP. (PAC [17/06/98]):

EVIDENCE - EXCO INTERFERENCE

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. He was in this House and part of a government that brought in an Act to ensure that the Gaming Corporation was at arm's length. We had the Gaming Corporation negotiating with ITT Sheraton. Some issues were not resolved. There was an agreement in the Act that allowed the Gaming Corporation and the ITT Sheraton to go to arbitration, before a judge, who would be very fair in looking at both sides. I would ask the Minister of Finance why then on April 23, 1997, just prior to that hearing taking place with an independent judge as an

[Page 1539]

arbitrator to hear both sides and make a decision, did the Cabinet of this province decide to meddle and appoint their lawyer to directly negotiate with ITT Sheraton? Why?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the difference between the Gaming Corporation and the Gaming Control Commission, the Gaming Control Commission is the one that really has the authority to be the arm's-length body, but the reality here is we were waiting to have the casino built and it was not being built. We wanted to have the casino built, $100 million of construction that is now taking place. We have lived up to the responsibility as Cabinet Ministers and as government to make sure that that was brought forward and, in fact, it is. (Applause)

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary. It was not a matter of not getting a hearing. The arbitration hearing was about to sit, was sitting that day. There was no delay. This in Nova Scotian's minds would be fair, to have a judge be the arbitrator. Instead of that we got politicians being the arbitrator. I want to ask the minister once again, why did Cabinet decide that the judge, who was the arbitrator in that hearing, would not be fair to both the people of this province and to the Sheraton of this province on this agreement? Why did the Cabinet circumvent that system and appoint their own lawyer to do back-room bargaining?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, there is no back-room deal. The bottom line is we had a responsibility to live up to the obligation of having a casino built and, in fact, that is exactly what we have done. We have a casino under construction right now and, thank goodness, we were able to do that. We have done it for the best interests of Nova Scotians. (Applause)

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary. If they are clapping over there because they do not think judges are fair in arbitration, then I am in the wrong business. I would ask the minister, once again, was it because of a leadership race, was it because of a deal? What was the hurry that the judge, at the arbitration hearing set on April 23rd, was not allowed to proceed - by his government, which he was a member of Cabinet - why did they stop that arbitration hearing and do their own negotiations? Why, what were they hiding?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, here we go again with the allegations that we are hiding something because of the fact that we have a $100 million construction opportunity going on. The reality here is that if the member opposite has anything to bring forward to this House of Assembly to prove that there is wrongdoing, then bring it right here.

He can't do that; furthermore, the Auditor General reviews all activities of the corporation on a regular basis. The Auditor General has already said he is reviewing it; in fact, he is reviewing the activities every day, he is doing it right now. So if the Auditor General had a problem he would bring it forward. I think the member opposite is really taking us on a rabbit track hunt.

[Page 1540]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN. - CASINO: ITT SHERATON - PENALTIES

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to go through you to the Minister of Finance. Part of the negotiations that we are referring to were being done to deal with the fact that ITT Sheraton were delaying the completion of the casino that they had agreed to do. Part of that deal was something that Nova Scotians found so absolutely repugnant and that was a penalty clause, against the Province of Nova Scotia that tied the hands of any future government, worth $300 million. I want to ask the Minister of Finance, when his government was negotiating with ITT Sheraton to let them off the hook for their $10,000 a day penalty, why didn't he get out of the $300 million penalty that Nova Scotians find so repugnant?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the reality is that there was a number of recommendations by Mr. Fiske at the time back to Cabinet to have an extension to the original agreement. In fact, there wasn't one, there wasn't two, but three individual recommendations by Mr. Fiske to the Cabinet to extend the original agreement until we can finalize and get an agreement on building a casino. Under the leadership of this Premier and our administration, we have a casino under construction right now.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my first supplementary to the Premier. This deal that has been referred to as the Boudreau deal is a deal that the Premier indicated in the summer of 1997 that he did not accept. In fact, he indicated to Mr. Fiske that he applauded him for standing tall against the advances of ITT Sheraton. I want to ask the Premier, why was it that within a period of less than two months this Premier decided that a deal that was once repugnant, all of a sudden became embraced by his government?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if this is called the Boudreau deal, it is only called the Boudreau deal by the Leader of the Official Opposition. This is a deal that went forward because we had a good arrangement, we reached a good contract and the casino was going to be built. That is what we wanted to do, to give the final completion to what was agreed to do by the Government of the Province of Nova Scotia with ITT Sheraton.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, what we know of this deal is that once again, like with Sable gas, this government basically gave it all up. They gave Sheraton anything they wanted in order to get this deal signed. I want the Premier, if he says that this is a better deal, I want him to lay that deal on the table and let Nova Scotians see exactly what this Premier gave away in order to get this supposed construction from ITT Sheraton?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what we have done is brought forward legislation. We have had an agreement with ITT Sheraton. We have a process where if someone thinks there is a wrongdoing they can go to the regulator, to the RCMP. We have made everything open to the people of Nova Scotia. There is nothing that we have hidden. I want to say that it is

[Page 1541]

a good deal for the Province of Nova Scotia. Whether you like casinos or not that's another question, but as a business proposition, this is a good deal for Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

FIN. - GAMING CORP. (PAC [17/06/98]):

EVIDENCE - DEAL APPROVAL

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, a question through you to the honourable Premier. I participated yesterday at Public Accounts. I heard Ralph Fiske mention that the Premier had met with him on the day that this Premier was sworn in and he indicated his opposition to the so-called Boudreau deal. Will the Premier not admit today that from that time until the time he gave his approval to this deal, that you found out that Bernie Boudreau, your Finance Minister, and your other Cabinet Ministers who were there at that time had already agreed to this, the i's were dotted and the t's were crossed and you couldn't back out of the deal? Will the Premier not confirm that in the House today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there was a decision to go ahead with two casinos in Nova Scotia. The fact of the matter is, we want the people of Nova Scotia to realize that this deal is above board, it is open and the fact is that the financial benefit to Nova Scotia is going to be the best it could possibly be. That is my undertaking, that has been my undertaking since I became Premier of Nova Scotia.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the Premier has no intention of answering any questions from the Opposition benches today. But the people of Nova Scotia deserve an answer. I ask, again, would you not confirm that Bernie Boudreau had this deal finalized, he circumvented the arbitration process and when you came into power you had no choice but to accept the deal? Come clean with the answer.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, with due respect to the honourable member, when I became Premier the deal was not finalized, the contract had yet to be negotiated with ITT Sheraton. We did that, we reached an agreement on the contract for the building of the casino. Cabinet approved it. We are going ahead with it. It is being built as we speak.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the Premier may say there is a casino being built that is a $100 million project. There were allegations made in this House yesterday during Public Accounts that there was $20 million in revenue lost to this province. Those were serious concerns. I ask the Premier whether or not he will ask someone to investigate this issue and not his own staff, not his own deputy minister, not his own Chairman of Priorities and Planning, who will you appoint to investigate these serious allegations?

[Page 1542]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think, as I have said before, Mr. Fiske was involved in the process. He had a very important position. The regulator is there to look into it and to provide the impetus for investigation. There is an RCMP group already there in place to work with the casino. They are actually in place to work with the casino people. It is not only Mr. Fiske's option to report any wrongdoing to the regulator and have it investigated, I would think it is a statutory obligation of his to do so.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN. - GAMING CORP. (PAC [17/06/98]):

EVIDENCE - REVENUE LOST

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Finance. Yesterday, we heard allegations which were confirmed here in this House about the concessions to ITT Sheraton as well as the accounting irregularities amounting to nearly $20 million. I want to ask the Minister of Finance, yesterday, he dismissed the concerns about his government's decision to walk away from the $20 million by saying what the province got instead was the construction of a new casino. The minister knows, as do all Nova Scotians, that that was part of the deal, that it all comes from the same pot.

I want to ask the minister then why, given the fact that these are gambling revenues that are paying for this construction, it is $20 million that has been allowed to leak back out into the pockets of ITT Sheraton, why did the government pass up the $20 million in much-needed revenue to get something that it already had?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the comment they are referring to, one would only have to ask the question if Mr. Fiske felt that there was $20 million, that we were not doing our job, there was some point they felt that there was a deficiency in the process or some criminal activity going on or a breach of our fiduciary responsibility, then under Section 24(1)(e) and (f) of the Act he has the responsibility to report that. Now, Mr. Fiske is either derelict in his duty or he didn't understand his responsibility.

Clearly, Mr. Speaker, we have lived within the rules and the regulations for which we are responsible and that is why we are going ahead with this project, creating jobs, and $100 million of expenditure in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. CHISHOLM: I guess what we are hearing from the members opposite is that they are not responsible for anything. They cannot be held accountable. It is everybody else's fault, Mr. Speaker, unbelievable here, unbelievable. We are talking about the public interests being defended. My first supplementary is to the Minister of Finance. The Liberal Party was elected

[Page 1543]

in 1993 on an anti-gambling platform and, in fact, members of that Party admitted when they were pushing the Gaming Control Act through the House, that Nova Scotians did not want casinos.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. CHISHOLM: My question, Mr. Speaker, of the minister, why, when Sheraton came looking for concessions of $20 million, was this government so ready and willing to cave into Sheraton?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I do not think we have caved in. We kept their feet to the fire as a government. We did that because now we have construction of a facility. What they do not seem to understand, is that there was a gridlock in negotiations, there was an inability to be able to come forward with the construction of an independent casino. What this government was able to do is go ahead and negotiate and get an independent casino, you know, standing on its own and not tied into a facility that is in a hotel.

Part of our responsibility, Mr. Speaker, these are our rights and our obligations and we are not ashamed of the fact that we took the leadership in making sure that the interests of Nova Scotians were kept at the forefront.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let's be clear, it is not just a question the Province of Nova Scotia is up for sale, this government is up for sale.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: My second supplementary . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable member to withdraw that.

MR. CHISHOLM: Certainly, Mr. Speaker. My second supplementary is to the Premier. This government has said repeatedly to seniors . . .

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Withdraw.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member said that he withdrew, I understood.

MR. CHISHOLM: Yes, that is right. Mr. Speaker, my second supplementary to the Premier, this government has said to seniors, to students in the classrooms, to people paying an unfair BST tax burden, and to people in emergency wards, that it cannot afford to keep its promises.

[Page 1544]

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. CHISHOLM: Those people and many Nova Scotians want an answer to the question.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Question.

MR. CHISHOLM: Why did the Premier and members of this government forget these people when it came to forgiving Sheraton concessions in the area of $20 million? Explain that, Mr. Premier. (Interruptions)

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the Leader of the Opposition that this government will never forget those people in Nova Scotia. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Please address your remarks through the Chair.

THE PREMIER: The only time he remembers them is when they are in his briefing notes and I want to say, Mr. Speaker, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: . . . that what we are doing for the people of Nova Scotia, whether they agree with gambling or not, is largely financed by the revenues of the casino. That is a fact a lot of people may not like, Mr. Speaker. The obligation is to people and the obligation is to fulfil the obligations that we as a government entered into.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

FIN. - GAMING CORP. (PAC [17/06/98]):

EVIDENCE - DEAL DETAILS RELEASE

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Mr. Premier, your administration is on the edge of the abyss and it is looking over. Whether you like it or not, the Casinogate scandal is here. Nova Scotians expect an open government. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. BAKER: In the House today, Mr. Premier, you said we have made everything open to the people of Nova Scotia. Will you commit to the people of Nova Scotia, today, to make open to the people of Nova Scotia the details surrounding the negotiations of the so-called Boudreau agreement?

[Page 1545]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, he talks about the abyss, but I can assure him that there is no one here who has any vertigo and that we are going to do what is right for the people of Nova Scotia. The process is open. I have said on many occasions that I want an open process in this Government of Nova Scotia; I am going to make sure that everything I can possibly do will be done to see that it continues to be open. If the honourable member has anything that he wants, any allegations, any particular detail that he knows about, that he feels we can deliver, then let him say so.

MR. BAKER: My question again is to the Premier. You have indicated, again, Mr. Premier, that you want the process to be open. My question to you then is, will you make it clear to the solicitor for the government, at the time of the negotiation of the deal, Robbie MacKeigan, and direct also to the Gaming Corporation's solicitor, Mr. Merrick, that they waive solicitor-client privilege in testimony before the Public Accounts Committee? You can do that, Mr. Premier, will you do it for Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the result is the casino. The fact of what happened, what was discussed prior to the time that I became Premier is something I can't account for. But I can assure you that since I have become Premier, the process is open and it will continue to be open. I will stand by that, and I will give that honourable member, indeed everyone in the Legislature, that assurance.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Premier, I didn't hear you make the promise to have your solicitors waive privilege. Will you have them do that? That is my question again. And secondly, will you make available for public scrutiny, the minutes of the Cabinet meetings dealing with the Boudreau deal, so that Nova Scotians can see the deal, and the negotiations? It is a very simple thing to do Mr. Premier, you can do it, and you can clear up this whole matter. Will you do it for Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there is a process that has gone on for a long time. I cannot account for everything people did in the process before I came here. I can no more ask Joseph Howe to table his expense accounts either. The process is, as the process is now, since I have been Premier of Nova Scotia, is that is open, above board and everything will be open to the people. I will give that undertaking, I have given that undertaking, and I will continue to do so. I cannot do any more than that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN. - PAC: DEPUTY MIN. (D. THOMPSON) - APPEAR

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, we have heard the Premier say, several times today, that this process has been open, and that under his leadership, the process has been open, and will continue to be open, with respect to the ITT Sheraton and the Gaming Corporation. I would like to ask the Premier if, in support of that suggestion, will the Premier

[Page 1546]

ensure that David Thompson, his Deputy Minister will appear immediately before the Public Accounts Committee?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I don't have to speak for the Public Accounts Committee. The honourable chairman is the member for Halifax Chebucto, he is right there. I think on occasion, he has been quite able to speak for himself. He is the chairman, if he wants my deputy minister to appear, as shy as he may be, I am sure he will ask. (Laughter)

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, will the Premier make available, in this House today, details of the agreement signed between the Gaming Corporation and ITT Sheraton?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member, everyone in the House will know that when you are negotiating an agreement, there is a lot of things that are brought forward, a lot of things that are turned down. Those are things that are never intended to become public. That is the only way the process can go. You can't negotiate an agreement of this importance or any importance in the public eye. The question is what is lawful? What is going to bind the agreement? What is going to bind the public? What is going to bind this province? That is what has to be taken into consideration, that is open. It is right there in the agreement and it is there for everyone to see.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am still looking for the openness. What is it, the ceiling here that is open? What is it that is open? We are talking about the public interest. We are talking about accountability of a public body, the Gaming Corporation. I want to ask the Premier. This is an issue that goes to the heart of this government's ability to defend and to advance the public interest in the Province of Nova Scotia. Will the Premier agree to immediately appoint a judicial inquiry to examine the details around the involvement of the Gaming Corporation, ITT Sheraton and the Government of the Province of Nova Scotia, so that Nova Scotians can finally get some sense of exactly what has been going on behind closed doors?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the process allows for Mr. Fiske to make allegations to the regulator. He can go directly to the RCMP, who are there for that particular purpose, to make sure that the process goes the way it should, honestly and in the interest of the people of Nova Scotia. We cannot improve on that. There is everything that one could need to bring forward irregularities or any kind of dishonest proceedings.

Mr. Fiske also has the right to take his concerns before the courts of Nova Scotia. That is an obligation that we have provided to everyone in Nova Scotia. We cannot in any way fetter the rights of a person to make that undertaking. We want Mr. Fiske, if he feels that he wants to do this, we want him to be able to feel he can do so.

[Page 1547]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - UNIV.: TUITION FEES - INCREASE

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier, but it is on another topic. University students in this province are having a terrible time financially; I do not think there is any dispute about that. During the election the Premier said that increased funding to universities would ensure that tuition levels would stay where they were. Now, last month Dalhousie raised its undergraduate tuition fees and yesterday St. F.X. did the same. I want to ask the Premier what he is going to do about that?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am going to refer that question to the Minister of Education and Culture.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: This government is extremely proud of what is being dubbed, in part at least, the education budget. We committed funds to post-secondary education, publicly funded institutions of this province, to help them keep costs down, to help them relieve the burden on tuition rates. We had an expression from a student at St. F.X. yesterday, who recognizes the reality of the world, saying thank goodness the rates are not going up the way they are in other provinces thanks to the injection of provincial money for post-secondary institutions.

MS. O'CONNELL: I think I heard the minister say that what he heard was the equivalent of thank goodness I was beaten and not robbed. I am not exactly sure.

The picture is terribly glum in spite of the rhetoric that the minister can so ably dish out. The debt loads are over $25,000 for graduates. Jobs are scarce. The minimum wage is too low and nearly one-third of students . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MS. O'CONNELL: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am getting to it. Nearly one-third of the graduates have delinquent student loans. Many students have to quit university.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is, what is it that this government will do to keep the student debt load from going up?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, just for your information, the Education Minister in Ontario, two days ago, announced that he would reduce class sizes in the Province of Ontario by a $70 million injection. In this budget that we are debating now before the estimates committee, an $82 million injection by the Province of Nova Scotia. We have the most

[Page 1548]

generous loan remission program in the country and student leaders helped shape the federal budget which partners dollar-for-dollar on the most generous program in the country to assist students with debt reduction.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is for the Premier, since he was the one who made the random mutterings, during the election campaign, that passed for promises. It is graduation season in this province. I want to ask the Premier, what is he going to say to all those students in Nova Scotia who are graduating in Nova Scotia right now, who have ability, talent and good marks and who have kissed off a university education?

THE PREMIER: If the honourable member considers rantings and mutterings, promises to the people of Nova Scotia that we are going to do what we can for education, we have. We have made a very detailed and strong effort to help Nova Scotians. Now, some universities have increased tuition a little. That is their prerogative. We cannot control universities; all we can do is give them the wherewithal to maintain the status quo so they will not increase tuition. We have done that and the fact is the students now realize, as the honourable Minister of Education and Culture said, that the increases would have been considerably higher had it not been for this government.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

FIN. - GAMING CORP. (PAC [17/06/98]):

EVIDENCE -MEETING (D. THOMPSON-R. FISKE [25/09/97])

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Yesterday before the Public Accounts Committee, Ralph Fiske stated, "I was told by Mr. Thompson . . .", on September 25th, ". . . not only to sign the deal and put it to bed, but to give the Sheraton anything else that it required, if that is what it took to put the matter to rest.". In response to a question placed by the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party yesterday to the voracity of that statement by Mr. Fiske, the Premier said, "This is just ridiculous. No one who worked for me would ever say that to Sheraton, . . .".

The fact is that we are not interested in what Mr. Thompson said to Sheraton. We are interested in what Mr. Thompson said to Mr. Fiske. Clearly Mr. Thompson would have been acting under the instructions of the Premier whose Deputy Minister he is, what then was the purpose of the September 25th meeting between Mr. Fiske and Mr. Thompson?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, let me clarify that then, if it is the wish of the honourable member, that no person who worked for me would say that to Mr. Fiske. I would say that there is a relationship that the corporation had with government and it was the intention that the casino go ahead. If the casino does not go ahead and they do not move it, then we do not get $10,000 a day in penalty. We cannot get $10,000 a day if we are, in fact, inhibiting ITT Sheraton from building the casino.

[Page 1549]

All we and Mr. Thompson said was, let's get on with the process. Let's do what we can to cooperate under the arrangement we have to get the casino built.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, we now know that there was a meeting on September 25th and we now know that Mr. Thompson did give a directive to Mr. Fiske and whether the wording was exactly as Mr. Fiske says in his statement or not, we now know that there was a very strong directive given by Mr. Thompson to Mr. Fiske to do what Sheraton wanted done. It is very clear that what is at question here is the truth.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. LEEFE: My question to the Premier is this, if, in fact, Mr. Thompson did not make that remark to Mr. Fiske, did Mr. Fiske then lie when he appeared before the Public Accounts Committee yesterday?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am sure this will all be clarified if Mr. Fiske goes ahead with his lawsuit as he intends. Mr. Thompson is named in the lawsuit and as such he is in a position to have to defend himself as a result.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, again to the Premier, on September 25th there was a meeting between David Thompson and Mr. Fiske respecting the Sheraton Casino deal. Curiously, on September 26th, the Sheraton put a request to the Cabinet which was subsequently granted to have another extension to the building of the stand-alone casino.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. LEEFE: My question to the Premier is this, how does he explain the curious coincidence that a day after that meeting, September 25th, that request was put before the Cabinet? How does he explain that strange coincidence?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I think the honourable member will find is that at that time there was a time specified to ITT Sheraton by which they had to start construction of that casino. That date was followed through with, it was supported by this government and it was honoured by ITT Sheraton.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN. - GAMING CORP. (PAC [17/06/98]):

EVIDENCE - STAFF DIRECTIVES

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question through you to the Minister of Finance. I want to ask the Minister of Finance what directives he or his officials have given to the Gaming Corporation staff with respect to answers that they are to

[Page 1550]

give in response to any inquiries that the public or the media may have regarding the operations of the Gaming Corporation? Would he advise what directions he or his officials have given to those staff people?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, staff of the board run the operation. I have given them no instruction in any specific way other than to be forthright and straightforward and I am sure that they are doing that.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Minister of Finance, in my first supplementary, has the government taken steps to secure any and all documents in the possession of the Premier's Office or in the Gaming Corporation's office, which could be relevant to an investigation, inquiry or police investigation of the allegations by Mr. Fiske?

MR. DOWNE: Not to my knowledge.

MR. CHISHOLM: I would ask the Minister of Finance, in conclusion, what steps he has taken to ensure that any evidence is preserved, in either the Premier's Office or the Gaming Corporation's office, so that the Public Accounts Committee or any other public authority may pursue Mr. Fiske's allegations?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I take it that the member opposite is alluding to all sorts of things that might be happening, because of what was discussed here yesterday. I can tell you, it is business as usual. I am not, nor is this government going to go out there and come up with some sort of devious plot. The process of running the controls of the Gaming Corporation is business as usual, and there is no directive given by this minister to do anything other than normal business activities.

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

FIN. - CASINO: CONTRACT - AMENDMENTS (TIME EXTENSION)

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Finance a question. The Minister of Finance has had the, I'm sure, dubious distinction of sitting in the Savage Cabinet, and subsequently at present, the MacLellan Cabinet. Would the Minister of Finance agree that if his Liberal Government did not amend the original contract with ITT Sheraton, the casino operator would have been legally bound to provide this province with approximately $5 million in penalty fees?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if the member opposite is saying, because of the extensions that Mr. Fiske, in fact I believe it was Mr. Fiske, who brought it to Cabinet three different times, for three different extensions to the original agreement. The reality here is that, whether the bill of $10,000 a day over a year would be the difference between now a $100 million construction site going on that is creating jobs, and

[Page 1551]

also, additional revenue to the Province Nova Scotia. What we have done is look after the best interests of Nova Scotians, and we have done a good job of it.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, as per usual, the Minister of Finance has not come within a country mile of answering that question. Today in Question Period, the Premier got up and said that he was very proud of the project, that money-sucker that is taking place down on the waterfront. The Minister of Finance said the province needs this $100 million project, and I want to ask the Premier, why did you direct members of your government to not attend the official sod-turning ceremony down at this grandiose project?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I couldn't tell my ministers not to attend something I didn't even know about myself.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, will the Premier then confirm that, as per protocol, ITT Sheraton did not extend an invitation to you or any member of your government to attend that ceremony?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if that is the only breach of protocol, we will be doing all right. It is only one about attending a ceremony. What we are worried about is breaches, not of protocol, but of an agreement. That is what we are watching very carefully for.

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

NAT. RES. - SABLE GAS: DISTRIBUTION (N.S.) - ASSURANCES

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am going to give the Premier a break on that topic. I am going to ask the Premier a question on another topic. The Premier, of course, is travelling around this province and speaking in this House and giving off these warm fuzzies, particularly to those who live in rural Nova Scotia, that he is going to be taking care of them, and that he is going to be ensuring that they are going to have access to Nova Scotia's natural gas. My question to the Premier is, why is he giving those assurances, when the Premier knows that the deals that his government have struck will prohibit him from being able to deliver on the warm fuzzies, let alone the realities of what he is in fact promising to do?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, with due respect to the honourable member, that is just not correct. No decision has been made on the distribution of natural gas, that has yet to be determined by the Utility and Review Board. They will hear it thoroughly, and we will be working to do what we can for rural areas of Nova Scotia.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier will know that his government signed, in December, a memorandum of understanding whereby this government promised that it would do everything in its power to speed up the process of federal approval for Maritimes & Northeast if they provide up to 45,000 MN Btu's which, Mr. Speaker, is not even enough.

[Page 1552]

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. HOLM: It is not even enough to meet Nova Scotia Power's demand. My question to the Premier, Mr. Speaker through you, is, why is the Premier going around telling people that he will be providing them with a gas when he knows that his government is committed to supporting a pipeline that will not meet that need?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the document from which the honourable member quotes is a memorandum of understanding where parties to the memorandum give certain assurances that they will do things. That is just one of the undertakings of Maritimes & Northeast. That is only part of the product that will be available to Nova Scotia. I can assure him, just alone on Nova Scotia Resources, that all of our product will be available to Nova Scotians.

MR. HOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, but the product that belongs to the Province of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Resources Ltd., has to get down the pipeline somehow and if the pipeline cannot carry it, and the government is committed to supporting an inadequate pipeline, he knows that he cannot deliver. It would appear that yet again this government has sold out Nova Scotians for political reasons. They needed a short-term political announcement to make prior to the election and sold out our long-term benefits. My question to the Premier is simply, why did this government put their short-term political agenda ahead of the long-term economic benefits for Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the memorandum of understanding requires Maritimes & Northeast to contribute what the honourable has said, but that is just a portion of what will be available to Nova Scotians. Nova Scotians will have access to all the natural gas they can use. That is the commitment. The facility, the infrastructure will be in place to use it. What is left will leave Nova Scotia. Where it goes does not matter as long as Nova Scotians get the benefit from that natural gas.

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

EMO - RADIO TOWER: MAINTENANCE - TENDERS

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Organization. Last week during Question Period the minister gave me an undertaking that he would review a letter from Mr. Don Fisher of Fisher Construction in Hilden relative to the contract for the mobile integrated radio service maintenance in this province. As the minister knows, that contract was awarded to Mr. John O'Leary of JOL Tower Service & Antenna from the Dartmouth East riding. I want to ask the minister responsible simply this. Why did your hired consultant, your hired help, Oldham Engineering, verify that JOL did not have the equipment listed in the contract and, therefore, were not recommended?

[Page 1553]

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. His accusations are not correct. I have no evidence, I have seen no evidence that JOL was not recommended by Oldham Engineering. If that is the case, it is certainly news to me.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I hate to say that the Minister of Natural Resources has a very short memory, but he was provided with a letter and he promised me that he would review that letter from Don Fisher that indicated that Mr. John O'Leary of JOL Tower Service & Antenna went to Mr. Fisher and asked Mr. Fisher to borrow the equipment, rent it, or subcontract to do the job. Now, Mr. Minister, did you review that letter or not?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, yes.

[2:00 p.m.]

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, that was very succinct and to the point.

I guess I will ask the minister this. Okay, based on reviewing the letter, what actions, what policies or measures will you put in place to ensure that this sort of thing does not happen? Will you exercise the 30 day cancellation clauses that are in that contract and take that contract away from JOL Contracting and . . .

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, in all fairness to the honourable member, I did promise him that, when I had further information I would share it with him. I have asked my staff to go back to . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: A week and a half ago.

MR. MACASKILL: Well the mails are sometime slow.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. No chit-chat across the floor. Through me.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, thank you. I have to admit the mails are slow, but I will give the information to the honourable member when we have a response from Oldham Engineering. We asked them to go back to JOL and make sure the equipment was there. My understanding is that JOL Industries Limited have been doing work in the province for 15 years with some major companies.

[Page 1554]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN. - GAMING CORP.: PAPER SHREDDING - INVESTIGATE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question through you to the Minister of Finance. I asked the minister earlier whether the government had taken any steps to secure any and all documents in the possession of the Premier's Office or the Gaming Corporation, relevant to these allegations made by Mr. Fiske. We have just learned that, in fact, there is significant paper shredding going on, as we speak, at the Gaming Corporation's offices. I want to ask the Minister of Finance, will he commit to this House that he will immediately investigate this assertion and will he ensure that any and all documents at the Gaming Corporation and the Premier's Office are being secured?

MR. SPEAKER: I am not too sure about that question. I think you may be imputing motives. Perhaps you can ask the question again, using different phraseology.

MR. CHISHOLM: Well, I don't know how other than to say that we have just gotten information to suggest that there are documents being shredded at the offices of the Gaming Corporation. I am just asking the minister, would he investigate, ensure that is not going on, secure those documents and report back to the House?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I guess the Bingogate of British Columbia approach is now being transmitted across Canada and he thinks that is the way everybody runs their business, unlike B.C. I do not know anything about what he is talking about and if he has any proof of any allegation that that is happening, bring it to my attention and I will deal with it. I think he is out to lunch. (Applause)

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I did not ask the minister whether he knew or not. I asked him - that information has come to our attention that has suggested that there are documents being shredded at the Gaming Corporation . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Where is the evidence?

MR. CHISHOLM: Where is the evidence? I am asking the Minister of Finance to find out, that is the issue. I am asking the Minister of Finance. The government opposite thinks that this is funny, that there are documents that are potentially relevant to these allegations that may be being shredded at this particular time, . . .

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

MR. CHISHOLM: I do not, and I do not think Nova Scotians do. I want to ask the Minister of Finance once again - whether he knows or does not know is not the issue - I am asking him, will he follow up this information and determine whether, in fact, there is

[Page 1555]

shredding of documents going on? Will he ensure that ceases and that those documents are secured?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to look into the allegations the member is making here today. I know nothing about what he is referring to, but I will undertake to look into it when Question Period is over.

MR. CHISHOLM: I would ask the minister if he would in fact report back to this House before the end of proceedings today whether there is any substance to this information whatsoever and will he confirm to this House that he will ensure that documents at the Premier's office and the Gaming Corporation offices are, in fact, secured in the event there is any further investigation or inquiry?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is trying to make a big deal out of this and trying to leave everybody with a shadow of doubt that there is major underground activity going on, which is absolutely ridiculous. Secondly, I already indicated I will look into it. Thirdly, I really think that the member opposite demanding when I report back - I will report back in good time, but the main point is I will look into the matter. We have the best freedom of information policy anywhere in this country (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DOWNE: That member opposite, he should see what it is like in other parts of this country.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

HEALTH: REGIONAL BDS. - ADMIN. COSTS

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the cost of health care, scarce dollars going into health care budgets across this province, the set-up of regional health boards and the minister commenting in this House that he would like interventions by both the two Opposition Parties to help in ways that health boards could reduce costs. My question will be directed to the Minister of Health and that question would be, what is the normal percentage of administration costs to any one of the regional health boards?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the administration within most of the boards, particularly the regional boards, has really reduced the cost of administration. We learned that they had effected a $2 million saving. We provided those percentages at the time of the estimates. I do not have the exact detail before me today; I did the other day and as my memory serves me, we provided that to the committee. I could research that but with the four regions, the percentage was under review of the committee. It was found to be well within

[Page 1556]

normal practices and I can provide that to the honourable member. I would be guessing. I could guess today but I would rather table it at a later date.

MR. FAGE: I would ask of the minister in that light, would he consider 16 per cent, say, for the Northern Regional Health Board as a reasonable cost for administration to that board?

DR. SMITH: How much? What did he say?

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member please repeat his supplementary?

MR. FAGE: Would the minister consider 16 per cent as a normal and reasonable administration cost of the entire budget of the Northern Regional Health Board?

DR. SMITH: That would depend on what was included with administration within that budget. There have been some changes in the accounting practices and so I would have to review as to what exactly was within that administration. It may well be. On the other hand it may be a little more than we would like to see. At the end of June we will receive last year's accounting, fully audited statements from those regions, and we have asked for three-year business plans that we will receive by July 10th.

MR. FAGE: That was an elongated answer that did not go anywhere. I think it is terribly unacceptable that the budget for the upcoming year would have 16 per cent not going into patient care. Everything else dealing with administration is 16 per cent in that budget. Any time this Health Department is willing to spend 16 per cent on administration and 84 per cent on health care, when health care is so desperately needed in this province, is unacceptable. Will the minister commit today that he will bring in guidelines that put administration where it properly should be and that is 10 per cent and under?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, you can talk percentages. What is happening there is a regional health board system that is very well functioning and moving into the communities. The administration, as I have mentioned, included some salaries in areas that are directly impacting on patient care. So you can't say that it is either/or. There is an overlap. We are convinced that they are operating well and are accountable. We have asked and we will receive by the end of this month a fully audited statement and their business plan they are working with. That is the answer, I am sorry if he doesn't care for that. But they are functioning well.

[Page 1557]

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

JUSTICE - CROWN ATTORNEYS: COMMITMENT - MAKE

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Justice. As we have read in the news today, there are ongoing discussions and debates between the Minister of Justice and the Crown Attorneys Association of Nova Scotia. Just quickly to read a quote from the Ghiz-Archibald report, Page 114, which was produced in 1994.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it short?

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Yes. "We are convinced that the failure to adopt some independent process for the establishment of Crown Attorneys' salaries will result in a further deterioration of the already very low morale in the Public Prosecution Service, and will contribute to the erosion of its operational independence."

The government has ignored that report for four years, Mr. Speaker. My question to the Minister of Justice is quite simple, why does the Minister of Justice want to risk further chaos in the criminal justice system when this subject has been talked and studied to death?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the selective quotes that are made by the honourable member leave out that there are four major recommendations to how to proceed. If he quoted other parts of the Ghiz-Archibald report, he would also notice that that report noted that some Crown Attorneys had expressed some displeasure with moving into collective bargaining.

We have offered to the Crowns that, in addition to the financial package, we would set a process in place that would look at a process to deal with matters relative to benefits and all the other issues. We have not closed the door to collective bargaining, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, you have to be very fast is what I am trying to say. You have 27 seconds.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Yes. Crown Attorneys want and need a commitment in some form. I don't disagree but there is some form. There are four options. The Crown Attorneys want a commitment to one of those forms before that study is brought forward, Mr. Speaker. Why can't the Minister of Justice make the commitment to one of the four options and then allow the details to be worked out in the study?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable minister has four seconds.

[Page 1558]

DR. SMITH: In four seconds, I will say that that would be a very peculiar way to do business with the Crown Attorneys.

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

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make an introduction. In the east gallery, we have a distinguished educator in Lunenburg County who is here, and I assume he is with a grandson, and I would ask members of this House to give a warm welcome to Mr. David Pottie and his grandson for coming to the House. He is a very active member of the education fraternity. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: 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 Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, before we go into Supply, I wanted to speak for a few minutes about a really unfortunate and peculiar result of a type of downloading that this provincial government has caused for some of the residents of my constituency. It has to do with school construction.

About a month ago, the residents of the Springvale community made the discovery that the closed school, the old Springvale school in their community on Down Avenue, was going to be sold to the Halifax Christian Academy by the city for $1.00. Now, Mr. Speaker, the difficulty is not with, I don't think, the intentions of the city. So I just want to explain what happened, because it is so unfortunate.

[Page 1559]

[2:15 p.m.]

Everybody in this House knows that Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea is in desperate need of schools. What happened was that the Halifax Christian Academy has a lease on the Glengarry School building, which is in the Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea area. Because of the massive, horrendous overcrowding at the BLT school, the school board required the Glengarry building back for public school use. Now, the Halifax Christian Academy was therefore left without a location for its Grades 5 to 12 students for the coming school year. They have a lease which goes beyond this school year but, because they are good tenants and good citizens, they were willing to move somewhere else. Let me be very clear, when it finally got to the regional council, there was nothing but words of praise for this particular school, as a tenant and as a resident and citizen of that neighbourhood in Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea.

The problem is that the residents of Springvale heard at the very last minute about negotiations that had been going on since before Christmas between the Halifax School Board and the Halifax Christian Academy. The sequence of events, as far as I can understand them, is that before Christmas there was discussion about doing something with the old Springvale School. Members may or may not know that the Springvale School was an elementary school in the Springvale Subdivision. It was closed in recent years, some years ago, and it was re-opened as a teachers' resource centre. After it was opened, the discovery was made that it was a truly sick building. There is no equivocation around that. Staff at the resource centre had to go home and recover from a list of complaints and worse, things that were caused by the terrible environment of this building.

That building was closed and it has remained vacant now for at least three years. It has become mildly derelict in that windows are being broken in the back of the building. It is a building that requires several hundred thousand dollars worth of renovation and repair to make it habitable for humans. The Halifax Christian Academy was perfectly willing and is perfectly willing to restore this building, to use its own money to restore this building. It sounds like everything ought to be fine, but the really unfortunate outcome was that the residents of the Springvale Subdivision heard about this at the very last minute, literally days before the sale of the building was to go before the municipal council.

They were put in a really unfortunate position. Here they were, they had not been consulted on the use of that land or that building in their neighbourhood. They did not know what the effects on traffic would be. They did not know what the value of the land was on the open market. They did not know whether the city was making a good decision. They did not know what kind of arrangements were being made with the Halifax Christian Academy and when they began to voice these questions, it was a very difficult moment. I have to say, as representative for the area, I felt quite a bit of ambivalence around this because it sounded as if it was a classic case of not in my backyard.

[Page 1560]

The truth is, though, that the citizens were not consulted. As I said, they had concerns, and have had concerns for many years, about the traffic in that subdivision. They had concerns about having a building sit there derelict. They had concerns about whether it should stay there or come down, whether development should go in on the site, and whether the site was appropriate for development, and what development would mean for the site and for the neighbourhood. So there we had a neighbourhood that looked as if it had concerns other than the ones it did.

The outcome of this was for the regional council to delay the vote on the sale of the Halifax Christian Academy, of the building. It was delayed for a very few short days, long enough for the regional council to obtain at least some minimal information on traffic flow, traffic patterns, traffic volume, the value of the land and so on. That was all done in a matter of five days to a week to maybe 10 days as far as the residents' involvement was concerned.

Now this is obviously a municipal issue, but I think what is really important for us to remember here, is that the Halifax Christian Academy and the neighbourhood of Springvale were put in an untenable or at least awkward situation, because this government has not done what it said it would do, and that is build the Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea school. Now I know what members on the opposite side will say, they will talk about the glories of the government's current megaproject for schools. But the fact of the matter is, Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea has needed a school for how many years? (Interruption) For at least five years and the fact of the matter is that this government knew about it.

I think it is important for members of this House to know, that when governments, provincial governments make decisions, they have these enormous trickle-down effects. Here we had the school board, the municipality, neighbourhoods, a school group separate from the public schools, we had all these interest groups trying to deal with - or not trying to deal with in the case, perhaps, of some - the proper process for involving a neighbourhood in decision making. But the whole thing would never have happened if this government had kept its commitment to the people of Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea and to all Nova Scotians, and had gotten on with the job of building a school for that area.

So I look upon this situation as a real case of kicking the cat, pushing it down the line. Government policies have effects that may not be immediately apparent, government inaction, government procrastination, all the things that we on this side of the House see and identify and characterize as this whole misguided school construction scheme. All of this mess that might be loosely called government policy, has had a profound effect on several neighbourhoods and on several interest groups. I really wish that this government had been busier about building those critically-needed schools, for all kinds of reasons, but the one reason that I am addressing today is this awful downloading of problems onto neighbourhoods and communities.

[Page 1561]

I would hope that when the time comes to finally see this school exist, that we will remember that it should have happened five years ago, and that if it had happened five years ago, there would have been far less grief and frustration, and one might say some antagonism among members of the community. Thank you very much. (Applause)

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

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted, today, to relate sort of a case study, or parts of a case study that illustrates some of the gaps that we have in our health and social services systems here in the province. It involves a young man aged 14 who is going through some emotional problems and has a rather shaky relationship with his parents at the present time. What actually happened was he assaulted his parents and, anyway, for a variety of reasons, will be appearing in Youth Court but prior to that time had to sign an undertaking under certain conditions that would help the young person get through this troubled period.

He does not like school for a pretty good reason and actually he has been in the position of having moved from one school to another, a pretty difficult thing. A number of years ago he took some medication for some emotional problems. One of the things that was basically recommended when he ended up before the authorities was that he take some counselling as ordered by Community Services. This was ordered back, I guess three or four weeks ago, but there is no counselling available at Community Services so he cannot get the help that he needs.

The court prescribed something for him. It is court ordered basically, yet it is not available to him. Also the parents wish to get counselling to try to help the relationship between them and their son; they have agreed to do this but, again, they cannot get into the program because the program is halfway through. It does not look as though there is going to be another one.

Another particular program that they were referred to - the parents really are trying to deal with this problem - was there was a counselling program of some type, anger management counselling through an operation called Options for Youth. Unfortunately, the person who performed this service through the Options for Youth is on maternity leave and will not be back until January 15th. So that option is denied to the young person. Called the mental health office because, surely, the Health Department, mental health might be able to provide some assistance for this young person. It took about two and one-half weeks to get a reply from the Mental Health Service, actually returned the phone call. It is really too bad. The parents really wish to get some assistance for their young person and to work on this problem.

It is sort of a catch-22, you know, he is going to appear before a Youth Court. They order certain things to happen to improve the situation and they go to our system and they are not available. I recognize that we cannot have one person for everybody, but surely when

[Page 1562]

services are tied to people and when people go on maternity leave, or in the case of when I phoned the mental health clinic, they said the person who handled that is on vacation, so, therefore, there was no phone call returned - our health and community services systems must take a look at that type of administration which seems to me to be sadly lacking and to try to fill in those gaps.

Hopefully, this young person will get the help that he needs and his parents will get the help that they are requesting, but the way the system is currently structured or the way it has operated up to this point has been really an impediment to that.

[2:30 p.m.]

If we look at the mandate of Health and Community Services, the mandate of the regional health boards, this was one of the things that the regional health boards were supposed to be able to deal with and they have not. It is no better in my community now than it was when I was involved on an inter-agency committee about eight or nine years ago.

I am not going to continue on this. I simply wanted to stand up in the House and talk about this young person, not because of an individual, but it is just that it seems to me to be indicative of problems that do exist in this social net that we have for young people and their parents. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[2:31 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Donald Chard in the Chair.]

[5:53 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Ronald Russell, resumed the Chair.]

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.

[Page 1563]

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will meet from the hours of 9:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Following the daily routine we will be again going into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.

Monday's hours, Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of those who may not be around tomorrow, or travelling, will be 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. I will announce the agenda tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

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 time being 5:55 p.m. at the present time, we will consider it to be 6:00 o'clock and we will debate the Adjournment motion submitted by the honourable member for Dartmouth South, which is simply that:

"Therefore be it resolved that the federal government must provide an adequate replacement for the TAGS program.".

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

DFO - TAGS: REPLACEMENT - ADEQUACY ENSURE

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I am from a fishing community in southwest Nova Scotia, Yarmouth, and Yarmouth has a very long proud history in the fishing industry. I am very concerned about what is being proposed under the TAGS 2 program. What is at stake here is the very survival of our fishing communities, of our coastal communities, not only their survival but their history and their culture.

The current TAGS program, which is quickly ending, did not do the job it was intended to do. Everyone knows that. It is no secret and everyone knows that the fishers of Nova Scotia want the right to fish. They want the right to feed their families and they want the right to be contributing members of society, but they do not want government charity.

[Page 1564]

Mr. Speaker, if these rights are to be taken away, then a program should be in place to help the fishers of this province. The proposed TAGS 2 does not do it. It has half the money of TAGS. We all know that that did not do the job. I question how committed the federal government is in providing aid and assistance for displaced laid-off fishers. I get calls from fishers and fish plant workers who are young people, 40 or 50 years old who fished or worked in the plants all their lives. They are asking me, Mr. Speaker, what will TAGS 2 do for them? How can a proposed program which is grossly underfunded, aid persons to get out of the industry with dignity and respect?

Mr. Speaker, we hear talk of job retraining but first there have to be the jobs in place in the communities. With the federal government pinching pennies, what makes the Premier think they are going to be so forthcoming with any cash?

Mr. Speaker, the Premier has laid out a plan, finally, where have you been? However, he doesn't say how it will be carried out or what kind of pressure he is prepared to put on Ottawa to ensure that our fishers are taken care of.

Mr. Speaker, in the local media this morning I was reading that Ottawa is considering improvements to TAGS 2. The focus of this article, though, seems to be between Ottawa and Newfoundland - no mention of Nova Scotia fishers, no mention of Premier MacLellan. Knowing this, that there are proposed changes, what steps is our government taking to ensure that Nova Scotian interests are in the forefront?

I listened intently to the Premier's statement on TAGS this morning. Mr. Speaker, I found his statement to be weak and of little substance. I am glad he spoke to the Prime Minister and I am glad that the Prime Minister is listening sympathetically. Nova Scotia fishers don't want the Prime Minister's sympathy, Nova Scotia fishers want an improved TAGS program.

Mr. Speaker, fishers in this province are asking, will the Premier take the bull by the horns and go to Ottawa and be a voice, be aggressive, and represent the concerns of the fishers and the TAGS recipients of this province? If he is not willing to do that then I maintain that he should hang his head in shame for the lack of representation and the lack of voice he has provided for the Nova Scotia fishers.

What the Premier has to understand, what he has to realize is that if TAGS 2 is not sweetened, improved, enhanced, then the impact on our social programs can and will be devastating. What kind of plan does the Premier have in place to address the potentially negative impacts on our social services?

The fishers and the plant workers of this province are looking towards this government and saying help. They are saying that they want a voice; they are saying that they want their needs and concerns represented. They are saying to the Premier, go to Ottawa and demand

[Page 1565]

to be heard and condemn loudly and aggressively this proposed TAGS 2 program. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I am just going to take a few minutes. One of my other honourable colleagues is going to take some of the time as well. I just want to make a few points about the program that is coming up. I take a little bit of exception from the honourable member for Yarmouth indicating that he knows what is in the program. I am the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for the Province of Nova Scotia and I definitely do not know, and we have not been told by Ottawa what is coming. I think we are talking about things that are going to come in the future.

[6:00 p.m.]

I think it is important to realize that Nova Scotia has lobbied very hard and long for this TAGS program. We recognized a long time ago that the program was inadequate and did not really serve the needs of the people of Nova Scotia, and that has been very important. Over the past few years I have been dealing with a lot of fishermen. That was my business in the past and I have dealt with them specifically in the groundfishery.

The common consensus of the issue is that the system was not set up properly, the retraining was not done properly - the early retirement package was probably the best of the group - the buyouts were seriously flawed and so was the whole program. As a result of that, a lot of the people were not taken out of the fishery even though the number was quite high - I believe it was around 22 per cent - it still was not high enough and still did not really address the issues and concerns of the people. That is what we are talking about, we are talking about people and we are talking about communities. We are talking about the concerns that those people have about how they are going to feed their families, how they are going to educate their families and do the things that people in the Province of Nova Scotia deserve to do today.

We have lobbied hard with the federal government to address these concerns. I feel that they have listened to us. We will know, hopefully within the next week, if that has happened or not and, if they have not, I can guarantee you we are going to lobby harder, although once the federal government has made a decision, as always in the past, it is difficult to change it. I will stress it is a federal concern, and I would like to give the Premier of our province a lot of credit. He has worked hard on this, he has talked directly to the Prime Minister, he has talked with the Human Resources Minister and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans federally. All of the things that we have to do he has done on a regular, consistent basis with a regular, consistent voice of what Nova Scotia is looking for. He tabled that information today and, hopefully, we will achieve what we need.

[Page 1566]

It is not only a matter of money we need here, but it is how the money is directed and how it is directed to the people that need it most, and that is critical. We really have to look at the retraining programs again, the early retirements, the buyouts of the licenses, and make sure that that does for the communities and for the people in those communities what really is needed. Some people want to continue in the fishery; maybe they have to look at a different resource. Some people want to be retrained for a different type of job, and some people want to retire. All of those things should be available to them and be reasonable things. It has to be on the individual person it has to look at the families and their particular needs. It is very, very important that that is done. I feel that we have approached it in that manner, we will continue to approach it in that manner and we will work with the people of Nova Scotia to ensure that happens.

It is a difficult situation and even through all of this adversity, Nova Scotia has really moved forward. Our export sales in the fishing industry have soared to $1.1 billion and, if you add all the support industries, it really has helped the Province of Nova Scotia. I really give the people in the fishing industry a lot of credit for that, the fish plants, the processors and the people who actually do the harvesting; they have done an excellent job. We need to go a lot further and have to have support for a longer period of time to ensure that continues and helps our communities grow.

I just want to give you my commitment, as Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for the Province of Nova Scotia, that I intend to work with the people of the communities. I know the Premier has already done that, and it has been a pleasure to work with the Premier in this regard. I will now relinquish the rest of my time for one of my colleagues, who would also like to speak. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, could you advise me of the time-frame that we are using here tonight?

MR. SPEAKER: You have about six minutes remaining.

MRS. COSMAN: Okay, thank you. I want to begin by actually asking people to use their imagination for just a brief moment. I want us to try to imagine coastal communities, fishing communities. I want us to imagine the centuries in which fishermen have gone to sea and fished for their livelihood, brought their catch home, made a living from it, fed their families, supported their wives, supported their children, supported their communities. It was a way of life. If we can get that picture in our minds, I think we can then start to realize the absolutely incredible devastation as the fishery industry starts to collapse and the fish stocks dwindle and these men go out to sea and they don't find what they have gone to fish and they come home with empty boats. Their lives reflect that sense of loss. Their families reflect that

[Page 1567]

sense of loss and it is an incredible devastation that is occurring across our fishing communities.

Put that picture in our minds firmly and solidly just for a minute, because inject into that the TAGS program, a program that is widely recognized now for not doing the job it was intended to do, and put into that picture the sense of desperation, the sense of loss of dignity of people whose very lives have been on the sea fishing. That is what we, as a government, are trying to respond to. This whole collapse of the fisheries, this whole failure of the TAGS program is now recognized in its colossal dimensions for human magnitude. Clearly, our role as a government is to make sure that the federal government, whose responsibility TAGS was, is prepared to give us a proper and an effective post-TAGS strategy and response for our needs here in Nova Scotia.

Whether we have 30,000 or we have 5,000 people affected by the collapse of the TAGS program and the collapse of the industry, the numbers, while they are different between us and Newfoundland, have the same common denominator across them. These are human beings whose lives are tremendously impacted by what has happened here. Now tomorrow or Monday or Tuesday, we will know what the federal government is offering for a response. I want to assure members of this House but, more particularly, I want to assure the fishermen of Nova Scotia that this government has worked across departments, across senior levels of officials, across ministers of departments, to produce a negotiating paper to the federal government that clearly, articulately spells out what we expect in a replacement program. We can expect nothing less than a program that respects human dignity, human dignity of our fisher people, our fishermen, our fisherwomen. We have put forward, very clearly, our negotiating paper to the federal government. We have asked succinctly for certain things that we must get back from the federal government in this announcement when it comes.

I have to say to you that, at every step of the way, over the last year and one-half, over the last several months, over the last several weeks, we have been very clear to the federal government on our position. We have been very clear on what this new program must look like. We have communicated our sense of urgency at every step of the way and we have communicated the need for a timely post-TAGS strategy. We understand the impact of the uncertainty that is going on out there now. We understand the impact of the ambiguity that is going on and the concerns that people are listening to in the media every day and wondering what is going to happen to their livelihood. Clearly, we have articulated our position. We have made it very clear that there must be an adequate response that meets needs and provides for the dignity of the people of this province who fish for a living. We have pleaded our case vigorously.

At this point, we don't know what the new program is going to look like, but we certainly know what our position has been articulated and set forth to the federal government. I know when the new program is announced, we are ready to react to this, to analyze it and to respond quickly and firmly if it is not good enough and I can't prejudge that, Mr. Speaker,

[Page 1568]

but we are certainly prepared to go to bat for the fishermen of this province and to seek the position of the federal government. If it isn't good enough, we will be there working for our fishermen to get it better. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, it is, indeed, very timely that this motion in the late debate came forward today. As the members know, earlier today, the province put forward a position paper, or a policy paper, as to how they view the province's position as to where TAGS should be going and its deliberations with the federal government.

The fishery is an issue that is very dear to my heart. My family has been involved with the fishing industry for 70 or 80 years, be it my great-grandfather fishing the Grand Banks or my grandfather who ran a lobster-buying operation. My father himself has been involved with the fishery all his life. He is 70 years old and still going strong. I fully intend him to keep going for quite a bit of time still.

I look at the fact that it has evolved. It has changed and it never remains constant. One thing that my father always told me was that it has its ups and it has its downs. I think a lot of times we sometimes overextended ourselves on fisheries. I think in the 1970's and 1980's we sometimes over-exploited a resource and we over-expanded. What happened is that many people became dependent on the fishery. Fish plants opened up like crazy. Everybody could buy a boat and go fishing. It was amazing how many people were employed in the fishery. That was not only in my area. That was across the province and, indeed, across the Atlantic Provinces.

I have made this statement in the past. It was a false economy. People felt that we could maintain those jobs and that level of activity indefinitely. That was not the case. I think as people look back at it, people who were well informed in the fishery realized that just was not so. Unfortunately, many people built homes. They built up dreams and aspirations for themselves and for their families as it involved the fishery and the long-term viability as part of that fishery. As things came to a crash, many people were displaced and that is where TAGS came in. Really, TAGS was mostly designed for Newfoundland, to deal with the collapse of the northern cod. As for any national program, it also had implications for Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia also came in as a partner, as a participant, in the TAGS program.

There were many things wrong with the TAGS program. It is easy to criticize and it is easy to sit here today and note all the things that went wrong, but the problem is that there were many things that were wrong. Many people feel that they are untrainable and for them to take retraining to find jobs, where will they go? Most of these people have built their homes in rural communities. Their lifeblood is there. It holds them there and for them to leave is just totally unacceptable to them.

[Page 1569]

The retraining aspect of it only succeeded to a certain extent. Supposedly, according to the statistics, 22 per cent of the people did find alternate employment. Many people did not even take the retraining and some people who tried to take the retraining were prohibited from doing so because the TAGS program cost so much. So many people took part in it that the retraining money was reallocated into the income support.

When I say, was it ill-designed, the answer is obviously, yes. I look at the situation that we find ourselves in today. Many people who were on TAGS are having their benefits run out. I was talking to someone last week who has apparently just been disqualified. The program as it stands now will go on until the month of August. We are awaiting an announcement of a new federal program and supposedly it is coming out tomorrow or early next week. This is the press releases that I heard while driving a few minutes ago - I just ran an errand - and they mentioned the fact that they felt there was going to be an announcement tomorrow. If that is the case, then we will know a little more detail. There will be more questions than there will be answers, I am sure, when that program is announced.

The obvious question is, no matter what comes down, what about the people whose benefits have expired? What about the person who has theirs expire today and does not go until August? Are they off the program? What happens to them? These are the types of questions that we have to have answered. It would be much better to have the answers before the program is announced than after. I note the Minister of Fisheries, in his deliberations, said that after the decision is made, it is very difficult to change it. That is very true. I think that is why we have to have high-level political pressure or political presentations being made.

I was pleased today to see the Premier of this province stand up in the House and put forward the position of the province with regard to TAGS. I will say why. I have been a very strong proponent that we have one of the major - the major industry in the Province of Nova Scotia is fishery. We have $5.88 million promoting an industry of $1.5 billion or more. I have always said, and I have said it to the minister across the House, how can you promote a fishery with that minuscule budget? It does not make a whole lot of sense because with a little bit of money and a little bit of imagination, there are a lot of spin-off jobs that could be created and they have gone to waste.

I look back at the fact that the Premier has made this announcement today and I congratulated him on doing so, I am not scared to say it. If they do something good, I will give them accolades, at the same time, now what happens is that the Premier has to push forward with that plan, and I am hoping that he has done so.

[6:15 p.m.]

If it is coming down tomorrow, I am hoping that he has done so already. Because, as you notice, and I could show you things, Tobin, no easy sell on fish-aid, here is a press release. And more and more, Tobin has been very aggressive, his Minister of Fisheries has

[Page 1570]

been very aggressive. He has been given the resources, and he has been given the authority to push hard. And when I say that, Mr. Speaker, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that in Newfoundland the fish is king, and they hold it very dear to their heart. And it is a political issue. Whether it is the Earl McCurdys, or all the union leaders, or the John Crosbies, I can go on and on, Fred Mifflen, the former Minister of Fisheries. They have a lot of political connections, and fish is politics in the Province of Newfoundland. I have often said that fish should be more political in this province, because we are being left behind.

So, I welcome the fact that the Premier did stand up today, and I encourage him to do that on this issue and on other issues, because I really believe that Ottawa sometimes can get a little arrogant living within their own little circle, and they tend to think that they know what is right. Maybe we are the same way versus the municipalities. I don't know. But I will say that we have a message to bring to Ottawa, and we are responsible to do it. I would rather do it as a group, but if that government across the floor can do it effectively and take all the credit, that is fine. But if it can't do it, and we can work better together, then I will gladly give my time, away from my family, away from my constituents to go to Ottawa, and put forward better positions. I have no hesitation whatsoever.

Now in the position paper that was put forward today - can you tell me how many minutes I have left?

MR. SPEAKER: You have three minutes remaining.

MR. LEBLANC: Three minutes, it usually takes me that long just to clear my throat. But I will say that in regard to the TAGS program, there are many components to it. One that I said failed in the first one was in regard to retraining, and also another component, which was the license buy-back, because I think there are many people who are looking to get out of the fishery that could very well have been bought out at a reasonable price, reduced the number of participants into this fishery. As a consequence, now that we are trying to find solutions for fishermen to have adequate quotas, they would be in a much better position.

We often look at this whole equation, and we look at the fishermen. The fishermen have difficulties, but I look at the people who work in the fish plants, and I tell you in real terms, I think they suffer more than the fishermen. The fishermen have problems, and they are severe, I have no qualms. But somehow when we have these discussions, the fish plant workers don't get discussed. How do you try to bring up a family of four or five, with three children and a wife and husband, making $300 or $400 a week, if you are lucky, and that is not always regular. Have you ever tried to bring up a family with those kinds of numbers? It is staggering, and when you have young kids who want sneakers like their neighbours have, and they can't have them, it is difficult.

[Page 1571]

I think that the fish plant workers are the people who have suffered the most from this whole equation, and that is not to take anything away from the fishermen. But I tell you, I have had too many of them come into my office with problems and they never seem to complain, they don't knock on my door all the time, just when things get really bad and they are looking for help. But they have a lot of pride, and they have a lot of that work ethic that I hold very dear to my heart, and I know that that is what makes Nova Scotia great. That they are having a lot of problems, and if this program doesn't meet their expectations and their needs, the social consequences to this province will be severe. And I mean that with all my heart.

I will mention that I hope that this program will not be the final version, because I said we made mistakes on the first one, and we will make mistakes on this one, because no matter what presentations we bring forward, we don't know how the programs will work, and whether it will adequately meet the needs of the people who will try to be served by this program that is supposedly coming down any time. I look forward to working with the government, I have a lot of advice, if you want to listen to it, I am more than glad to give it, because I think the people of Argyle are asking me to do just that. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honorable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I would certainly like to join in this debate tonight. Shelburne County, as we know, has been famous for the fishing industry for the past hundreds of years and in Shelburne County we have several coastal communities right across, from Charlesville to Port L'Hebert, just to name a few of these communities, that are affected by this. The population of Shelburne County is around 17,200 and I am sure that it affects every one of these 17,200 people. Some of the communities are Port L'Hebert, Lockeport, West Green Harbour, East Green Harbour, Little Harbour, Clark's Harbour, Shag Harbour, Sandy Point - and I am sure the honourable member for Argyle is familiar with Sandy Point - Gunning Cove, Shelburne, Ingomar, Wood's Harbour, Cape Sable Island, Newellton, South Side, The Hawk, Port La Tour.

Mr. Speaker, I have had the chance to talk to several of these fishermen over the last 10 years. Recently they really are finding it very difficult and very hard, but what they say to me is, they say, Clifford, what we have to do here, we want a program that gives us dignity. Do not starve us out, do not let the government starve us out. What we have to do is have like a buy-back program here so that when we leave the fishing industry, we can have something else to go to where we can start up our business. Certainly, we do not want to be starved out of it. When we leave, we want to go with our dignity.

There are several fisheries in Shelburne County. One of the fisheries that is good in Shelburne County is the lobster fishery. Shelburne County is known as the lobster capital of Canada. (Interruption) No, no, it is Shelburne County.

[Page 1572]

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I am glad to join in the debate tonight but I want to say, this affects Shelburne County very seriously. Anything that we can do and we can work together to bring this new TAGS program in to help out the people in southwestern Nova Scotia and Shelburne County, I certainly want to be there to help out. Thank you.

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to get up this evening and talk to the resolution that we have a program in place. TAGS has run its existence and there is a need definitely to address the concerns of the people of my riding. Fishing has been a way of life in Digby-Annapolis for 200 years and there is no doubt that the people there are in desperate need of a replacement program.

Constituents call on a daily basis asking what will happen when the TAGS program expires. People are concerned that not only will they no longer be able to provide for their family but, in fact, the whole fabric of the community in which their grandparents and their parents and their children are living will be destroyed forever. What is happening is that the small communities are looking within themselves to find new ways to ensure that the life that they have known can continue. They no longer rely on fishing entirely, but what they want to do is be able to develop a strategy that will ensure that the way of life and the values they hold dear can be maintained.

I believe that the strategy put forward by the Premier today will go a long way towards ensuring that happens. It is nice to hear that in spite of partisan politics we have all come to speak with one voice, recognizing that this issue goes past political Parties and political ideologies. It is something that attacks the very core of what has made Nova Scotia great. Our heritage as a seafaring community and our links to the sea are something that we need to maintain. I believe, too, that the best way to do that is to talk to the people most directly affected. The people who are presently existing on TAGS and unsure of their future see the problems that existed in the TAGS I program and I believe that as my colleague said, that when we move to the second generation and perhaps onto a third generation, we will be able to refine and address those concerns so that what emerges is something that will make all of Nova Scotia a better place.

What we have heard from the Minister of Fisheries is that they are now looking at underutilized species and new ways of ensuring that the fishing industry is maintained but I think everyone involved recognizes that it cannot be as it was. For a time there was a sense of denial among people who were directly involved in the fishing industry, that nature would rebound and that they could go back to the old way of life. Part of the reluctance to embrace the original TAGS was that - they hoped that the problem would go away on its own. I think now we all recognize that it will not and that ensures that when we approach the second generation of the TAGS assistance program, new ideas will be introduced and will be accepted because we know that what was cannot continue to be.

[Page 1573]

I pledge, too, as everyone else has who has spoken tonight, to ensure that we work together, not only to ensure that the new program works but to make sure that our federal counterparts are aware of the problems in this province and in all of Atlantic Canada so that whatever happens we will be working together for the betterment of Nova Scotia. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.

MR. CHARLES MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to rise tonight. In my constituency, around the county of Inverness, as a total we have 160 miles of coastline. We are based totally on fishery almost from end to end. On the southern end we have the Strait and the pulp mill, which is just beyond my jurisdiction. My county is totally engrossed in the fishery, more so in the shellfish fishery, lobster and crab on that side. They have not fared as badly as other parts of Nova Scotia, I don't believe, in that they were not as dependent upon the groundfish fishery, with the cod and the hake and flounder and grey sole and that fishery, except in the north. Cheticamp was more tied into the groundfish fishery and the plant workers. They had more concern on that side.

I believe that when I look at it overall in the fishery, I think we have to bring more management back to Nova Scotia. I think the people of Nova Scotia have shown that they can manage the fishery when they have done their lobster and what they have control over. When you leave it with the fishermen you seem to get better management and they look after their stock. I would hope that our federal government would allow more of that to return. I would urge all of us, I guess, to impress upon the federal government that more of that control should be back within Nova Scotia. I thank you, sir.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for the late debate has expired. I would like to congratulate all members, that was a very good debate tonight.

We stand adjourned.

[The House rose at 6:27 p.m.]

[Page 1574]

NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 794

By: Hon. Robert Harrison (Minister of Education and Culture)

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

Whereas Landmark East School in Wolfville provides an excellent daily fitness and activity program so necessary for the healthy growth and development of our children; and

Whereas Landmark East School's program has been awarded the POST School Recognition Award for excellence in physical education in Canada by The Canadian Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance; and

Whereas this is the sixth consecutive year that Landmark East School has been so honoured;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate the students and staff of Landmark East School for achieving this high standard of excellence in physcial education.