Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Mon., Nov. 23, 1998

First Session

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ. - P3: Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea - Site Selection:
Mr. W. Estabrooks 4205
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on the 34th Provincial General
Election, March 24, 1998, The Speaker
(by Hon. Manning MacDonald) 4206
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2020, Fish. - Gulf of Maine Council (Longard Award): Contribution
(Arthur Longard) - Congrats., Hon. K. Colwell 4206
Vote - Affirmative 4206
Res. 2021, Justice - Prince Andrew HS/Hfx. Reg. Police: Innovative
Commun. Partnership - Congrats., Hon. J. Smith 4207
Vote - Affirmative 4207
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 86, Real Estate Appraisers Act, Mr. R. White 4208
No. 87, Nova Scotia Power Reorganization (1998) Act, Hon. D. Downe 4208
No. 88, Upper Stewiacke Fire Protection Act, Mr. B. Taylor 4208
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2022, PC (N.S.) Party Leader - Election Promise: Tax Increase
(Luxury Items) - Remember, Mr. R Chisholm 4208
Res. 2023, Health - Reform: Min. (Full Time) - Address, Dr. J. Hamm 4209
Res. 2024, NDP (Can.) Caucus - Accountability [Gov't. (Can.)]:
Forced - Congrats., Ms. E. O'Connell 4209
Res. 2025, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Training Session (Digby-Anna. MLA):
Offer - False Promise Admit, Mr. G. Balser 4210
Res. 2026, Health - Care (C.B.): Leg. End (27/11/98) -
Concerns Unanswered, Ms. Helen MacDonald 4211
Res. 2027, Educ. - Manfred Jericho & Roderick Wasylishen (Dal. Univ.):
Royal Soc. (Can.) Fellowships - Congrats., Mr. E. Fage 4211
Vote - Affirmative 4212
Res. 2028, PC (N.S.) MLAs - Lazy Suggestion: Demonstrate Reverse -
Opportunity Seize, Mr. Kevin Deveaux 4212
Res. 2029, Educ. - Guysborough Academy: Hosts (Students)/
Visit France - Recognize, Mr. R. White 4213
Vote - Affirmative 4213
Res. 2030, Lib. Party (N.S.) - Election Readiness: House Sitting -
Impossible, Mr. D. Chard 4213
Res. 2031, HRM - Amalgamation: Consequences - Effort (Citizens &
Councillors) Recognize, Mr. B. Taylor 4214
Res. 2032, Sports - Football (AUAA): Awards (Natl.) - Nominees
(Acadia & Mt. Allison Univs.) Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 4215
Vote - Affirmative 4215
Res. 2033, Pictou Co. Christmas Fund Show - Bd./Media: Success -
Commend, Mr. J. DeWolfe 4215
Vote - Affirmative 4216
Res. 2034, St. John, Order of - Ken Wilson (Hfx.-Knight) &
Dorothy Glen (Debert-Dame): Recognition - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Fogarty 4216
Vote - Affirmative 4217
Res. 2035, Health - QE II Health Sc. Ctr.: Mammograms -
Waiting Times Decrease, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 4217
Res. 2036, Health - Hepatitis C: Mrs. Connie Lake (Avonport) -
Support Walk Recognize, Dr. J. Hamm 4218
Vote - Affirmative 4218
Res. 2037, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Antigonish CoC: Consultations -
Pro-Active Approach Recognize, Mr. H. Fraser 4218
Vote - Affirmative 4219
Res. 2038, Fin. - Taxation: Fair (PC [N.S.] Promise) - Direction Adopt,
Mr. H. Epstein 4219
Res. 2039, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Indian Sluice Project: Studies -
Release, Mr. N. LeBlanc 4220
Res. 2040, Educ. - Judique Creignish CS: Writing (Career Day) -
Congrats., Mr. Charles MacDonald 4221
Vote - Affirmative 4221
Res. 2041, Exco - Strait Area: Econ. Plans - Inclusion Ensure,
Mr. D. Dexter 4221
Res. 2042, Justice (Can.) - Correctional Serv. Training Facility:
Springhill - Info. (Gov't. [N.S.]) Seek, Mr. M. Scott 4222
Res. 2043, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Bridgetown Waterfront Dev. Soc.:
Funding - Congrats., Mr. L. Montgomery 4223
Vote - Affirmative 4223
Res. 2044, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwys. (100-Series): Km Markers -
Instal, Mr. C. Parker 4223
Res. 2045, Welfare (Natl. Council) - Ms. Marilyn Peers: Appointment -
Congrats., Mr. J. Muir 4224
Vote - Affirmative 4225
Res. 2046, NDP - Taxation: Agenda (B.C.) - Reveal, Mr. H. Fraser 4225
Res. 2047, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Lun. (Old Town): UNESCO
Designation - Promote, Mr. M. Baker 4226
Res. 2048, NDP (N.S.) - Agric. (Sask. [Gov't]): Misguided - Admit,
Mr. M. Samson 4226
Res. 2049, DFO - Alex Herman (BIO): Inventiveness (Zooplankton
Counter) - Applaud, Mr. P. Delefes 4227
Res. 2050, Women, Status of - Work (Home/Lbr.): Links -
Investigate, Mr. G. Balser 4228
Res. 2051, Leader of the Opposition - Fin. Measures (1998) Act:
Non-Monetary Bill - Basis, Hon. R. MacKinnon 4228
Res. 2052, Sports - Hall of Fame (N.S.): Ken Shea (Snooker) -
Induction Congrats., Mr. D. Chard 4229
Vote - Affirmative 4229
Res. 2053, Justice (Can.) - Firearms Centre (N.B.): Premier
(Former PS [Justice (Can.)]) - Info. Table, Mr. B. Taylor 4230
Res. 2054, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Timberlea-Prospect:
Secondary Roads - Upgrade, Mr. W. Estabrooks 4230
Res. 2055, Sports - Swimming (Dal. Univ.): Dedication - Recognize,
Mr. J. Muir 4231
Vote - Affirmative 4231
Res. 2056, Fin. - P3: Expenditure Control - Regs. Implement,
Mr. E. Fage 4231
Res. 2057, Health - Hospitals: Medical Equipment Basic - List Table,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 4232
Res. 2058, Justice - Human Rights: Bill S-11 - Adopt, Mr. M. Scott 4233
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 58, Cemeteries Protection Act 4234
No. 72, Juries Act 4234
Hon. J. Smith 4234
Mr. D. Dexter 4235
Hon. J. Smith 4236
Vote - Affirmative 4236
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 87, Nova Scotia Power Reorganization (1998) Act 4237
Hon. Manning MacDonald 4237
Mr. H. Epstein 4237
Mr. N. LeBlanc 4245
Mr. R. Chisholm 4247
Mr. G. Archibald 4249
Mr. J. Pye 4252
Hon. D. Downe 4254
Vote - Affirmative 4255
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 82, Greenwich Fire Protection Act 4255
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 83, Motor Vehicle Act 4256
Dr. John Hamm 4256
Hon. C. Huskilson 4257
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 4257
Hon. J. Smith 4261
Mr. M. Scott 4263
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 4266
Mr. G. Archibald 4267
Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 4269
Dr. J. Hamm 4272
Vote - Affirmative 4272
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 9:06 P.M. 4272
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 10:00 P.M. 4272
CWH REPORTS 4272
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Nov. 24th at 2:00 p.m. 4273

[Page 4205]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 1998

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

6:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will commence the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table 43 letters from the residents of the Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea community that I have been asked to bring to the attention of the minister on the site selection process. I, too, have included a letter for the minister's attention.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

4205

[Page 4206]

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table, on your behalf, the Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on the 34th Provincial General Election, March 24, 1998.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2020

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

Whereas last week the Gulf of Maine Council held its semi-annual meeting here in Halifax; and

Whereas Art Longard, a former employee of the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture who passed away last year, was recognized at the meeting for his role in founding the council; and

Whereas the Gulf of Maine Council has established a Longard Gulf Volunteer Award, awarded annually to an individual from the five states and provinces bordering the Gulf of Maine who is committed to volunteer programs designed to protect the Gulf's environment;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the contribution made by Mr. Longard to the establishment of this important body and congratulate the Gulf of Maine Council for the recognition of the same.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 4207]

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 2021

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

Whereas students at Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth East, under the direction of Greg King, have worked diligently over the last four years collecting and analyzing data for a community partnership entitled Kids, Cops, Business and Community; and

Whereas on Friday, November 20, 1998, the students held a joint press conference with the Halifax Regional Police; and

Whereas this press conference marked the official national release of the first CD-ROM of its kind in Canada and the new 75 page How to kits which, to date, have been requested by 83 Canadian communities;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the students of Prince Andrew High School, Mr. Greg King and the Halifax Regional Police for their innovative partnership that now serves as a model for communities across this country.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, through you I would like to do an introduction of members of the Nova Scotia Branch of the Appraisal Institute of Canada in the Speaker's Gallery: President Carol Buchanan; Davida MacKay, Executive Director; Brian Varner and Philip Kempton, Sr., both Members of the Legislation Committee and Past-Presidents; Philip Kempton, Jr. Member of the Legislation Committee; Alastair Ingram, National Governing Council of the Appraisal Institute of Canada; Graham Walker, Q.C.,

[Page 4208]

counsel for the association. I would ask if they would stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 86 - Entitled an Act Respecting Real Estate Appraisers. (Mr. Raymond White)

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

Bill No. 87 - Entitled an Act to Permit the Corporate Reorganization of Nova Scotia Power Incorporated. (Hon. Donald Downe)

MR. SPEAKER: When shall Bill No. 87 be read for a second time?

AN HON. MEMBER: Later tonight.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read a second time later tonight.

Bill No. 88 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 96 of the Acts of 1958. The Upper Stewiacke Fire Protection Act. (Mr. Brooke Taylor)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2022

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

Whereas the Leader of the Tories recently shared with a local reporter his fear of, ". . . an unfettered NDP Government with a plan to tax."; and

Whereas I would like to remind the Leader of the Tories that the NDP, neither in the last election nor since, have even once mentioned the notion of raising taxes; and (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition has the floor.

[Page 4209]

MR. CHISHOLM: Whereas the Tory Leader has been taking increasing liberties with the actual facts of what the NDP has said or has not said;

Therefore be it resolved that this House remind the Tory Leader that during the last election campaign he said, the rich should pay more through increased taxes on luxury items.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

DR. JOHN HAMM: They are clearly on the defensive.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

RESOLUTION NO. 2023

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

Whereas the Minister of Health still has no plan to deal with the off-balance debt in the Department of Health; and

Whereas he has yet to admit that for health care spending, he is totally responsible and accountable; and

Whereas we, as yet, have no full accounting of the debt residing on the books of the non-designated institutions and all the regional health boards;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health make himself available as a full-time minister working to address this mess created by the ill-advised and ill-conceived Liberal approach to health reform.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 2024

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

[Page 4210]

Whereas the federal Liberal Solicitor General was finally forced to resign today for prejudging the outcome of the inquiry into the APEC pepper spray incident; and

[6:15 p.m.]

Whereas the Liberal Solicitor General should have heeded the accurate calls for his resignation when they first surfaced; and

Whereas the battle to make the federal Liberal Solicitor General do the right thing was led by the federal New Democrat Party MPs in the House of Commons;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the federal NDP caucus for doing the good work of Opposition and forcing the Liberal Government to be accountable to Canadians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2025

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 Minister of Economic Development and Tourism recently offered to have this member visit his office for a training session in economic development; and

Whereas the Department of Economic Development Tourism, under the minister's direction, is currently operating in an $18.5 million deficit position, leaving this member to wonder if the minister is truly qualified to offer this session; and

Whereas it would appear the minister's economic development expertise is primarily focused on cheque books, passports and red ink;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister admit his offer of a training session is like his strategy for economic development, full of false promise.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 4211]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 2026

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

Whereas the Health Minister's office told CBC Cape Breton that this fall sitting of the Legislature will end Friday, November 27th; and

Whereas the Health Minister's staff also told CBC Cape Breton that, for the foreseeable future, the minister will not consent to be interviewed about the debt and deficit facing the Cape Breton Regional Hospital; and

Whereas Nova Scotians expect their governments to be both publicly accountable and answerable to this House;

Therefore be it resolved that the Health Minister and his Liberal colleagues should recognize that shutting down the Legislature and refusing media interviews are no answers to the serious concerns about health care in Cape Breton.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works on an introduction.

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to you and, through you, to all members of the Legislature, I have the honour of introducing, in your gallery, the Society of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists of Nova Scotia: President, Keith Wren; Gabe Gallant, Past President; Martin Pelrine, Vice President; and Jean St. Pierre, Registrar. I would ask them to stand and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2027

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

[Page 4212]

Whereas Manfred Jericho and Roderick Wasylishen, both scientists at Dalhousie University, have recently been elected Fellows by the Royal Society of Canada; and

Whereas Mr. Jericho and Mr. Wasylishen were in Ottawa last Friday to be honoured with this award, considered by many to be the most prestigious in Canada; and

Whereas Mr. Jericho helped to develop the first atomic-force microscope in Canada, and Mr. Wasylishen is best known for research that led to the development of magnetic resonance imaging, a technique used to scan the human brain;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Mr. Jericho and Mr. Wasylishen and applaud their individual contributions to the world of science and mankind.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 2028

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 member for Cumberland North and other PC MLAs were outraged by the suggestion that the Progressive Conservatives were lazy and unwilling to pursue concerns about this Liberal Government; and

Whereas significant and important legislation could be left to die on the order paper if a majority of MLAs agreed to end this sitting on an arbitrary date; and

Whereas the Health Minister's office is already telling the public that the House will rise on Friday, come what may;

[Page 4213]

Therefore be it resolved that the Progressive Conservative MLAs should seize any opportunity to demonstrate once and for all that they are not lazy.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 2029

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

Whereas 28 French students recently returned to France after spending nearly two weeks with students from Guysborough Academy; and

Whereas while in Nova Scotia the students were treated to local culture and history, a trip over the Cabot Trail and whale watching; and

Whereas for the past two years Guysborough students planned for this exchange, including fund-raising for their own trip to France in April;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the students of Guysborough Academy for being such gracious and entertaining hosts and wish them luck as they prepare to be Nova Scotia's ambassadors to France next year.

Mr. Speaker, I ask 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.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2030

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

[Page 4214]

Whereas the Liberal Party's provincial election readiness chair has announced that Liberal nominations are starting immediately; and

Whereas the election readiness chair also announced that the Liberal platform direction will be set by November 28th; and

Whereas the government is already signalling that the fall session will adjourn at the end of this week;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Party itself has decided that their own Party's election readiness is impossible if this Liberal Government's performance in the House is visible to Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2031

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

Whereas the amalgamation of the Halifax Regional Municipality has been a colossal flop since day one; and

Whereas thousands of people within the HRM feel alienated as a result of the forced amalgamation of the former Town of Bedford, the Cities of Halifax and Dartmouth and the former Municipality of Halifax; and

Whereas the Halifax Regional Municipality has made efforts to recognize the communities of interest and way of life for residents and taxpayers, something which certainly cannot be said for this Liberal Government which has turned its back on the colossal failure they created;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government recognize the efforts being made by thousands of residents and councillors in the HRM to remove themselves from their real-life nightmare and come up with a workable solution beneficial to all taxpayers.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 4215]

RESOLUTION NO. 2032

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

Whereas AUAA football players and coaches were nominated this past Wednesday, November 18th, for national awards; and

Whereas these nominees include Acadia's Josh Thomas and Stuart Venables, St. Mary's Josh Tavares, and Mount Allison's Eric LaPoint, Derek Fury, Gord Grace and Peter Estabrooks;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to these nominees with wishes of good luck at the Canadian Intercollegiate Football Awards Ceremony this week in Toronto.

Mr. Speaker, I ask 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.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2033

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 24th Annual Pictou County Christmas Fund Show was another overwhelming success again this year; and

Whereas the show aired live in Pictou County on both CKEC Radio and Shaw Cable Channel 10; and

[Page 4216]

Whereas this year's Pictou County Christmas Fund Show raised in excess of $42,000 that will greatly assist several hundred families in enjoying a very nice Christmas that they ordinarily would not have had;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature commend the board of directors of the Pictou County Christmas Fund Show and acknowledge the tremendous role played by local media, including board representatives Heather Fiske of the New Glasgow Evening News and Rod Mackie from CKEC Radio for their great work in staging another successful Christmas Fund Show.

Mr. Speaker, I ask 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.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 2034

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

Whereas the St. John Ambulance has a long tradition of offering first-aid education as well as providing emergency medical services at community events; and

Whereas Ken Wilson of Halifax and Dorothy Glen of Debert were recently recognized by being named to the Order of St. John, the highest honour of the organization; and

Whereas both have served their community through the St. John Ambulance for over 20 years and were honoured for their outstanding achievement and volunteer work;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Ken Wilson and Dorothy Glen on being named Knight and Dame of the Order of St. John and thank them both for their many years of service to Nova Scotia.

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

[Page 4217]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 2035

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

Whereas waiting times for routine mammograms at the QE II Health Sciences Centre now stretch to 120 days; and

Whereas routine mammograms are getting bumped for diagnostic tests; and

Whereas forcing women to wait so long for mammograms defeats the purpose of early detection;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health act immediately to ensure speedier access to mammograms at the QE II.

Mr. Speaker, I would request 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 Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

[Page 4218]

RESOLUTION NO. 2036

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

Whereas November 26th marks the one year Anniversary of the federal government's release of the Krever Commission Report on the inquiry into Canada's blood system; and

Whereas Avonport resident, Connie Lake, who suffers from hepatitis C contracted through tainted blood, will be paying her respects to those who have died and will be demonstrating her support for those who continue to struggle with this disease by walking through Windsor, Wolfville, New Minas and Kentville; and

Whereas Ms. Lake will be using November 26th, a day significant to all Canadians, to highlight the continued need to help all who suffer from hepatitis C as a result of having received tainted blood;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the efforts of Ms. Connie Lake in her courageous and selfless endeavour to ensure that the memory of those whose lives have ended and the need to support those who face the future with uncertainty due to this tragic chapter in Canada's history, will not be forgotten.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 2037

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

[Page 4219]

Whereas the Antigonish Chamber of Commerce recently hosted representatives of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, including Deputy Minister, Ed Cramm; and

Whereas the group was in Antigonish to talk about provincial services available to businesses and to promote economic growth; and

Whereas while in the area, the group had the opportunity to visit five local businesses and discuss the success of such projects as Festival Antigonish and others;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Economic Development and Tourism be recognized for its proactive approach to economic development, which includes important consultations with business leaders in areas like Antigonish.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 2038

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

Whereas the main headline in The Chronicle-Herald/Mail-Star on March 12, 1998 was "Make the rich pay - Hamm"; and

Whereas in that article, the Progressive Conservative Leader stated, "'We have got to direct the taxation responsibility more fairly and less on the backs of lower and middle-income Nova Scotians . . .'"; and

Whereas the newspaper further reported that the Progressive Conservative solution ". . . is to redistribute taxation . . .", meaning "Nova Scotians will pay higher taxes . . .";

[Page 4220]

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to finally change course and adopt the fair tax direction that was urged upon it by the Progressive Conservative campaign to put people first.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 2039

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 Indian Sluice Bridge is of major concern to the residents of Surettes Island and Morris Island, as it represents their only access to the mainland; and

Whereas the residents have requested from the Department of Transportation and Public Works any studies done on the approximate cost of a new replacement bridge versus the cost of maintaining the current structure;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works immediately release the information so that the residents can be fully informed with regard to this important issue.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

[Page 4221]

RESOLUTION NO. 2040

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

Whereas Nova Scotians are proud of the number of exceptional authors, journalists and poets and other writers who come from our province; and

[6:30 p.m.]

Whereas the art of writing will be explored during a special career day this week at the Judique-Creignish Consolidated School; and

Whereas students will be exposed to 32 writers from across Nova Scotia who will present readings, workshops and discuss the publishing process;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the unique approach to learning under way at Judique-Creignish Consolidated School, and offer the students best wishes as they explore the art and career possibilities of writing.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2041

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

Whereas the Strait area is the only region of Nova Scotia which remained loyal to the Liberal cause in this year's general election; and

[Page 4222]

Whereas the Strait area is the only region of Nova Scotia which is not represented in the Liberal Cabinet; and

Whereas when the Premier called a Cape Breton economic summit he failed to invite the representatives from the Strait area;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Premier and Cabinet to extend official recognition to the people of Inverness, Richmond, Antigonish and Guysborough Counties, so the Strait area is included in economic and other plans that this government hatches.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2042

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

Whereas because of the location of the federal medium security institution in the Town of Springhill, local individuals have been pushing for some time to have a correctional officers training course implemented in the curriculum of the community college system in Springhill; and

Whereas the federal Solicitor General has no difficulty telling Liberal friends where he wants the new federal Correctional Services training facility to be located; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's Minister of Justice and the Premier have an obligation to the people of Nova Scotia to ensure this province is considered equally when it comes to the location of such a training facility;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Minister of Justice immediately undertake to find out where Nova Scotia and, particularly, Springhill stand concerning the location of a new federal Correctional Services training facility.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 4223]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2043

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

Whereas the Bridgetown Waterfront Development Society recently received some good news in the form of funding from the provincial and federal governments; and

Whereas this funding will assist several projects, including the Cypress Walk, a historical walking trail that includes a nature path, look-offs and sidewalks; and

Whereas this ongoing work on the Bridgetown waterfront will benefit the community by making the area more attractive to tourists and new business;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Bridgetown Waterfront Development Society on receiving the new funding and recognize the efforts to promote and preserve the heritage of the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2044

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

Whereas the absence of kilometre markers on 100-Series Highways puts hardship on persons reporting accidents and emergencies; and

[Page 4224]

Whereas many jurisdictions throughout North America have such an important safety system in place; and

Whereas only Highway No. 102 in Nova Scotia has these kilometre markers;

Therefore be it resolves that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works direct his department to install kilometre markers on the remainder of Nova Scotia's 100-Series Highways.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 2045

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

Whereas Halifax social worker and child advocate, Ms. Marilyn Peers, was recently named to the National Council on Welfare, an organization which comments on social security issues such as child welfare and the working poor; and

Whereas Ms. Peers, a social work professional for over three decades, teaches at the Maritime School of Social Work, holds workshops for social workers in family therapy, child advocacy and ethical decision-making; and

Whereas recent council reports have indicated that child poverty in Canada has reached its highest level since annual poverty statistics were first gathered in 1980;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the former executive director of the Children's Aid Society on her appointment, her years of service to the betterment of families in Nova Scotia, and wish her best wishes in her new role with the National Council on Welfare in its efforts to reduce child poverty.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 4225]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 2046

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

Whereas taxes levied on businesses by the NDP Government in British Columbia have increased by 150 per cent since 1992; and

Whereas the tax bill for an average family in British Columbia has increased by $803 since 1992; and

Whereas British Columbia has the highest personal income tax rate in the country at 54.17 per cent of the basic federal tax;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia NDP be honest with Nova Scotians and reveal their true agenda to follow the lead set by their cousins in British Columbia.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

[Page 4226]

RESOLUTION NO. 2047

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

Whereas an official of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism recently met with the Lunenburg Board of Trade to speak concerning the importance of the UNESCO World Heritage Designation of Old Town Lunenburg in the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the government has failed to create specific programs which will fully promote the tourism potential of the designation; and

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia has so far failed to implement unique policies designed for the Old Town of Lunenburg;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly direct the Department of Economic Development and Tourism to immediately formulate unique policies to promote the UNESCO World Heritage designation for the Old Town of Lunenburg.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 2048

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

Whereas in 1992, Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow showed how concerned the NDP is about agriculture when he cancelled the Gross Revenue Insurance Plan contracts with some 60,000 farmers; and

Whereas the Saskatchewan NDP recently abandoned farmers by saying that for the first time since the 1930's, the province couldn't afford money for farmers facing negative realized net farm income; and

[Page 4227]

Whereas the NDP Utopia of Saskatchewan is, in fact, a land of hardship for farmers who have been forgotten by NDP policies;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP of Nova Scotia, who point to Saskatchewan as the ideal socialist state, admit to this House that NDP policy is misguided, unfair and not in the best interests of farmers.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 2049

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

Whereas Bedford Institute of Oceanography scientist Alex Herman has invented a fast and efficient way to count zooplankton; and

Whereas Mr. Herman's optical plankton counter has become a best seller with marine researchers around the world; and

Whereas he has received a federal Partners in Technology Award for his invention;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House applaud the inventiveness of Alex Herman and the important role he has played in advancing the excellent reputation of Nova Scotia scientists both nationally and internationally.

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.

[Page 4228]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2050

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

Whereas a recent study has found that women in Nova Scotia do most of the household chores, which is unpaid work worth $8.5 billion a year; and

Whereas this unpaid work represents 491 million hours or 25 per cent more than the 707 million hours Nova Scotians annually spend working for pay; and

Whereas the Advisory Council on the Status of Women has stated that these numbers are a clear indication that society needs to put more value on work done in the home;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister responsible for the administration of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women Act commit to investigating the links which exist between the lack of value placed on unpaid work done in the home and the low pay received by women who perform similar jobs in the labour market.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2051

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

Whereas the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party is without question a man of integrity; and

[Page 4229]

Whereas the Leader of the Official Opposition has publicly stated that the Financial Measures (1998) Act was not a money bill, because he was advised by the Office of the Clerk of House of Assembly; and

Whereas no evidence exists to support any such public declaration of the sort;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the Official Opposition please inform the House of the basis in fact for his public statement, if indeed one exists.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2052

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

Whereas Ken Shea, long-time resident of Dartmouth, was recently inducted into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame; and

Whereas Mr. Shea achieved this distinction as one of the top snooker players on the world scene; and

Whereas Ken has won 30 Maritime Snooker Championships and finished second at the North American Championships;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Ken Shea on his achievements and wish him good luck in his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 4230]

RESOLUTION NO. 2053

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

Whereas Canada's new firearms centre is located in Miramichi, New Brunswick and is home to hundreds of new jobs including 115 now and 200 that will be added in the coming weeks and months; and

Whereas the now Premier but then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice approved the new site, while providing no public comment as to why Nova Scotia, especially Cape Breton should not be granted equal treatment in locating a site for the new firearms centre; and

Whereas the new Canadian Firearms Centre will provide the Miramichi with opportunities to continue attracting high-end technology companies while attracting national visibility to the city;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately table background information as to what, if anything, that he did to bring those hundreds of jobs to Cape Breton or other parts of Nova Scotia while serving as Parliamentary Secretary to Canada's Minister of Justice.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2054

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 secondary roads throughout the constituency of Timberlea-Prospect need immediate attention before the onslaught of winter; and

Whereas such neglected roads as Club Road in Hatchet Lake, Leeward in Highland Park and Fox Hollow in St. Margaret's Village are in embarrassing shape;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation instruct his staff to upgrade these gravel roads and others in the area as soon as possible.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

[Page 4231]

RESOLUTION NO. 2055

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

Whereas both the Dalhousie men's and women's swim teams were victorious this past weekend at the Dal Invitational swim meet; and

Whereas strong individual performances by Amy Woodsworth and teammate Angela MacAlpine propelled the women's team to victory over the University of New Brunswick, Mount Allison University and Memorial University; and

Whereas the men's team led by Stuart Kemp and Dave LeBlanc also placed first in the four-team event;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the dedication to excellence and commitment to teamwork displayed by the members of the men's and women's swim teams of Dalhousie University and congratulate them on their strong showing at the recent Dal Invitational swim meet.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2056

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

Whereas disturbing information from New Brunswick's Auditor General was made public late last week showing the New Brunswick Government could have saved itself $1.3 million if they had not entered into the two public-private partnerships; and

[Page 4232]

Whereas New Brunswick's Auditor General has said the Nova Scotia Government is merely dancing around the issue of debt while not wanting to recognize it; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's Auditor General is already on record in one of his recent annual reports that Highway No. 104 could have been twinned cheaper if the government had constructed the road instead of turning it over to the private sector;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government implement regulations that ensure that taxpayers are not forced to pay more for P3 leases compared to government projects financed the conventional way.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2057

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 Department of Health has provided only $68,000 for equipment purchases at the Aberdeen Hospital for fiscal 1998-99; and

Whereas this meagre amount has prompted Aberdeen Hospital Foundation President Jim Gogan to publicly state that the province appears to have abdicated its responsibilities for funding, even the most basic of hospital equipment; and

Whereas despite the fact that the people of Pictou County have donated almost $4 million worth of equipment over the last five years, both the Aberdeen Hospital and its foundation face significant challenges due to the lack of funding from the Department of Health;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health table a list of what constitutes basic medical equipment for both community and regional hospitals and, further, that he immediately agree not to add any more pressure on overtaxed hospital foundations by further delisting those items covered by his department as basic medical equipment.

[6:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 4233]

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 Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2058

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

Whereas last week in the House of Commons the MP for Shefford, Diane St. Jacques, launched proceedings at second reading of Bill S-11, an Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, in order to add social condition as a prohibited ground of discrimination; and

Whereas the fact that the Act does not include social condition among prohibited grounds of discrimination is evidence of the social and economic marginalization of poor people and their lack of influence in the Canadian political system; and

Whereas recalling that poor people are today the only marginalized group still not explicitly recognized in the Canadian Human Rights Act;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government urge the federal Liberals to adopt Bill S-11 and that all members of this House follow the lead of the MP for Shefford and work toward ending the discrimination faced by those Canadians experiencing economic difficulty.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 4234]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Third Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 58.

Bill No. 58 - Cemeteries Protection Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: I would move third reading of this bill, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that the bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 72.

Bill No. 72 - Juries Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAMES SMITH: I so move the Juries Act, Bill No. 72, Mr. Speaker.

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

[Page 4235]

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to take a few minutes this evening to speak on the Juries Act and I didn't want to miss the opportunity to speak on this. It is not a controversial piece of legislation but it is a very important one. So I wanted to take this opportunity to speak in support of it.

I think in order to fully appreciate the changes to this Act, which expand the number of people who will be able to serve on juries, it is important that we realize that juries have historically been considered a fundamental part of a democratic society.

Mr. Speaker, members of this House may not realize that the history of juries is intertwined with the history of democracies of this world. Juries predate many of the modern fixtures of the legal system that we have today. For example, juries predate lawyers and they predate them by some considerable amount. Juries date back, in fact, to, if not before, the Athenian democracy around the turn of 5th Century B.C.

It is reported that in those days the juries often numbered hundreds and sometimes as many as a thousand, because people believed that juries were a fundamental part of the democratic society. They were integral to a fundamental democratic value, that is justice. These juries are not ornaments to the justice system, they are part of the sum and substance of both civil and criminal justice. The jury's tasks are not always easy. Recently, the Latimer case came before the courts and all Canadians watched as the jury struggled with a difficult and controversial decision.

In criminal cases, juries make findings of fact in circumstances where the state has brought to bear the full weight of its authority. An individual stands before a jury of his peers. In these circumstances, the individual has the right, the democratic right, to seek adjudication of the facts by a fair and unbiased jury. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, juries and service on juries does not always receive the respect that it should.

Recently, in our province, judges have commented on the number of people who, when called, have failed to appear to be empanelled as jurors. We refer to such service as jury duty, but, Mr. Speaker, such service, although it is an obligation, is also a privilege. I believe that there are few other services that an individual can perform for their community, for their province and for their nation that are as honourable and as necessary as serving on a jury. Here is the entry point, by the public, into the most fundamental, democratic value. It is the entry point into the justice system itself.

I mentioned earlier in my comments the Athenian democracy and, Mr. Speaker, I would point out that the first changes to the jury system were brought in by Pericles when they expanded the jury system by paying jurors so that not only the rich would serve on juries, so it would be available to people from all classes. So they expanded the base of those people who could serve in the jury system. This bill further expands the base of people who are

[Page 4236]

brought into the jury system and, therefore, are able to participate in this most fundamental, democratic value.

I support this bill. I support it because the inclusion of the jury system in our criminal justice system is so much a part of the fabric of the way that we distribute and enforce the laws of this country. I wanted to just, very briefly, point out, Mr. Speaker, that without juries, what we are left with is a justice system which is removed from the people. It does not have that inclusion of the individuals of the state or of the province. So this is an important piece of legislation, one which will go further down that road of keeping people not only informed, but involved in the justice system itself. It has been said before that more people participate on a year over year basis in juries than participate in elections. That gives you some notion of the amount of involvement by the public in the justice system.

So with those few comments, Mr. Speaker, I will take my place. (Applause)

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I move third reading of the Bill No. 72, the Juries Act.

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

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 87, An Act to Permit the Corporate Reorganization of Nova Scotia Power Incorporated.

MR. SPEAKER: Bill No. 87 is not on the order paper.

[Page 4237]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: It received unanimous consent earlier.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, I recognize the fact and that we are going to do it.

Bill No. 87 - Nova Scotia Power Reorganization (1998) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Finance, I would move second reading of Bill No. 87.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the bill that is in front of us now for second reading is quite an important one. I think not all members of the House will realize that there are only, in Nova Scotia, 12 companies that trade publicly on stock exchanges around the country. One of the most important of those companies, of course, is Nova Scotia Power Incorporated.

Nova Scotia Power Incorporated is a major company in our province. It is a major company not just because its shares trade publicly, which in and of itself is an indicator, not only because of the size of its workforce, which is about 1,700 persons, which in and of itself makes it a major company in our province. There are other reasons. Centrally, of course, is the function that it performs. This is a company which has, virtually, a monopoly position in terms of delivery of electricity to the thousands of households in our province, to the thousands of businesses in our province, to the many industries in our province. It supplies, therefore, something that is to be regarded as a necessary of everyday life.

What this means is that we have to pay very close attention to any initiatives that either come from Nova Scotia Power Incorporated or that affect Nova Scotia Power Incorporated because in doing so, we are paying attention to something that has historically been regarded as crucial to how it is we carry on our lives, not only in our province but throughout North America. The issue of electrification has historically been one which has been looked at thoroughly as a matter for public policy, in the past for public investment, and at the moment for public regulation. Indeed, Nova Scotia Power Inc., which comes before us as a publicly-traded private company, was only six years ago a company that was owned by the people of Nova Scotia since it was a publicly-owned company in that sense.

All members will recall that in 1992 there was legislation brought forward and adopted to privatize Nova Scotia Power. This is only one of the many issues that we have to consider as soon as we begin to think about the many different factors that affect us when we consider what public policy has to be brought to bear when we are faced with an initiative that requires us to examine Nova Scotia Power and its interaction with the public. Inevitably, there is a

[Page 4238]

whole range of public issues that must be brought to mind as soon as we think about Nova Scotia Power.

I mentioned a moment ago the privatization. Of course, this was an issue that has been debated time and again in Nova Scotia. It was debated publicly in 1972 at the time when there were two large corporations delivering electricity, one privately owned and one publicly owned, and at that time the public policy decision was to merge the two into one publicly-owned company.

Twenty years later the decision was made to privatize that company. This is an issue which was hard fought at the time. It is an issue which continues to have repercussions and it is one that many of us who consider public policy issues continue to mull over in our minds. If anything is to be learned by observing the electricity industry over the last 20 years, it is that it is in a state of change. Fundamental change is taking place in the electricity industry all over North America.

Generally what we hear about is what is called deregulation. This, too, is a major policy issue to which we as legislators will have to turn our minds to at some point. Deregulation involves issues around the question of whether it makes sense in any single jurisdiction to allow electricity, this essential service, to be delivered as a monopoly or whether it makes sense to split up some of the electricity functions typically, for example, to split off the generation function from the transmission and distribution function.

Many places throughout North America are moving towards what is called deregulation; that is to say although the transmission and distribution lines will often be held in a monopoly fashion - and logically so since this is typically what economists call a natural monopoly, you only need one of them - typically what jurisdictions do is they regard the opportunity for generation of electricity to be a function taken over by multiple companies and, indeed, many companies are now being incorporated to generate electricity by different means than those traditionally used throughout North America.

The whole question of deregulation - how it will impact us in Nova Scotia, how it will impact Canadians at large, what ought to be our response to it - is a complicated question and one which we, as legislators, will have to turn our minds to at some point.

[7:00 p.m.]

I mentioned that one of the drivers of deregulation is not only that of a theory of how the economy ought to be organized, it, in fact, is being driven by technological innovation. It is being driven more by the whole question of advances in technology that are allowing new companies to come along and use either different fuels or different sources for the generation of electricity. We know in our own province that where traditionally we generated electricity through burning coal and importing oil we are about to, through use of our own offshore gas,

[Page 4239]

probably see an era in which an increasingly large amount of electricity will be generated by the use of natural gas.

This is not the only technological change, there are others. We know that throughout North America wind power, for example, is becoming increasingly important. There are wind farms that have been established all over North America, including very large ones in provinces like Quebec and Alberta. We know that solar power is equally advancing and that probably as we look ahead 100 years, we can anticipate that the main forms of electricity generation may well be very different than the forms we use today.

What we know is that in this era of change we have to be engaged in long-term planning. We have to look ahead as far as we possibly can and anticipate, what are the changes that are coming and try to accommodate ourselves to them. This diversification of fuel sources or modes of generation of electricity is also something I would say we, as legislators, will have to turn our minds to at some point in order to decide how it is we want to try to affect and shape that future.

We know as well that when we think about change and the major issues that immediately come to mind, when we think about Nova Scotia Power and electricity, that we have to think about environmental issues, including conservation. We know that environmental issues are very important to the public, we know it is highly valued, we know that environmental protections are important to human health and to the health of the ecosystems on which we depend. We also are aware that international agreements, of which the latest was the Kyoto Agreement, are moving in a direction in which an attempt is being made to come to grips with forms of pollutants that have been identified - be they sulphur, be they nitrogen, be they other forms of emissions - that lead to global warming or to the thinning of the ozone layer.

Internationally we find that nations are coming to grips with these problems. This, of course, as a result of scientific research, advancing knowledge not just about the harms but advancing knowledge about the way to deal with these problems, will inevitably mean that forms of change will be necessary for us in this province to adopt, to come to grips with and, indeed, we are already moving in that direction. All of the public policy questions, of course, are driven by these advances in knowledge and technology and we have to decide how quickly we want to move in that direction.

There are all kinds of other major public policy issues associated with Nova Scotia Power and electricity. Rates are an example. There is nothing that is of more immediate impact on every household in Nova Scotia than the power bill that it has to pay every few months. This issue has been debated and fought over and been the subject of public policy discussions for years and we have a Utility and Review Board because, although Nova Scotia Power is essentially in a monopoly position here, it is a regulated monopoly. That is why we have a Utility and Review Board to examine the rates, to make sure that the rates are fair both

[Page 4240]

to the customer and, in terms of a rate of return, to the investors in Nova Scotia Power. This is a major public policy issue for us but we do have a vehicle for dealing with that.

Finally, I would like to add to the list of major issues that immediately come to mind when we turn our attention to Nova Scotia Power, the question of employment in our province. I don't mean simply those people who are employed at Nova Scotia Power, although this is a significant number of people. We know, of course, that there is an indigenous coal industry and this fact is recognized in the Utility and Review Board Act, where there is a section that encourages the Utility and Review Board in its review of Nova Scotia Power to look for ways in which indigenous fuels can be used, quite clearly. Although the word coal is not used in that section, that is exactly what led to that section being put in the Utility and Review Board Act.

All of these issues are issues that immediately come to the fore, as soon as we have in front of us a piece of legislation that deals with Nova Scotia Power. What I say is that all of these issues are issues that we have to come to grips with as legislators, but the true problem is, how do we come to grips with them? What is the right vehicle? What is the right mechanism for dealing with all of these issues?

Members will know that it is the position of our Party that Nova Scotia requires a comprehensive energy policy. This has been said by our Party time and again. It is the starting point for our analysis of what process is required. Energy, of course, is a wider term than just electricity, it is not just electricity. It involves the energy having to do with the transportation sector, and it involves the energy having to do with the heating sector. All of these together, electricity, transportation and heating make up the main subsections of what is thought of as energy, when dealt with as a matter of public policy.

Our Party's view is that however important each of the subjects that I have just listed might be, each of them requires careful scrutiny and each of them requires careful scrutiny through a public process in which all interested parties get the opportunity to come forward and say what ought to be part of Nova Scotia's energy policy. This is not something to be done lightly, it is not something that will likely be done very quickly. It is something that requires a great deal of detailed attention.

The last time Nova Scotia went through an exercise like this was in 1991. At that time, the Department of Natural Resources, its energy branch went through an exercise in which there was public consultation, in which they ended up with a draft energy strategy. This draft energy strategy was never finalized, it was sidetracked, indeed, by the government's own policy initiative just a few months after November 1991, when the draft energy policy was issued by the government's own policy initiative to privatize Nova Scotia Power.

[Page 4241]

The exercise that was gone through, the public consultation exercise, is one well worth repeating. There has been a vacuum in terms of public policy in the energy field since that time. This has been extremely unfortunate, given the advances and changes that have taken place in energy in Nova Scotia over the last seven or eight years. I refer to our maladventures on the offshore with oil. I refer to what might be a more successful adventure on the offshore with gas. I refer, of course, to the difficult position of Devco and its employees. There are fundamental changes underway. What has happened is that a great many changes have taken place without a comprehensive energy policy setting a framework. This is difficult.

It is important that members note that I do not say that all of the issues that I listed have to be dealt with as part of Bill No. 87 that is in front of us now. What I do say is that we have to recognize that in Bill No. 87, what we are seeing is an initiative, yet again another initiative that has come forward that deals with an important aspect of public policy in the absence of a comprehensive framework to allow us to judge this initiative. At the same time, that is what we are faced with. Now, the reorganization is the corporation's response to changing facts. It is the corporation's attempt to anticipate what will be some of the changes in the future. Indeed, the company has already taken steps internally to reorganize itself.

It has done that without legislation, without a court order, without vote of its shareholders, because it was not necessary to take the initial steps that the company has taken internally to anticipate the possibility of deregulation, to anticipate some changes that are inevitably coming in the issues surrounding electricity. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, I have been asked if I may yield to the member for Halifax Needham on an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham on an introduction.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto. I would like to draw the attention of members of the House to a very distinguished member of our community who is in the west gallery this evening. I would ask her to stand. This is Muriel Duckworth, a holder of the Order of Canada. (Applause)

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, it was a pleasure to have yielded for the opportunity to acknowledge the presence of Muriel Duckworth, a person I have known, I think, all my life.

I was saying that to a certain extent the preliminaries of reorganization are already a fact at Nova Scotia Power. The difficulty that we have to come to grips with is to what extent ought we, as legislators, to look at the proposed reorganization into a holding company and simply say, at this point no more can be done, or should we look at it and say, recognizing that there are very serious energy policy issues that do need to be looked at, but which require

[Page 4242]

an extensive public process, are there, nonetheless, points which can legitimately be addressed at this time? I believe that there are.

The essence of the bill is really to allow Nova Scotia Power Inc. to diversify its corporate activities. At the moment, what we see is a company that is caught up in essentially one form of business activity, and that one form of business activity is to generate and sell electricity. What the company is interested in doing is entering into new kinds of activities, some that are quite related, of course, to its core business, and others that might take it in different directions. Obviously, this is a corporate decision, something the company has decided it wants to do, yet, of course, in all of these decisions, there are public policy dimensions and we have to be aware of them.

As I understand it, what the company anticipates doing is moving along the lines that I described before as deregulation; this is in the context of electricity. It anticipates that it will take its generation function and separate it from its transmission and distribution function. There may also be a sales function. This is clear enough and this is typical of the pattern that has emerged in deregulated jurisdictions, with respect to electricity. At the same time, Nova Scotia Power is very interested, as we know, in business opportunities for it that are associated with the development of the Sable gas fields on the offshore.

There are at least two aspects of this that have received public attention and that have been widely reported in the press, and Nova Scotia Power has in no way hidden its interest here. One, of course, is in the possibility of Nova Scotia Power being a distributor of natural gas, pursuant to the Natural Gas Distribution Act of Nova Scotia and we know that it is partnered with another company and is interested in the possibility of obtaining a franchise in order to distribute that gas to businesses around the province.

[7:15 p.m.]

A part of the reorganization is to set up a separate company under the holdings company that would deal with this aspect of the business. There is yet another aspect. Nova Scotia Power has announced that it is interested in the possibility of acquiring a partial interest in the actual offshore facilities - that is to say in the gas fields themselves - and it is in negotiations over this. Again, as I understand it, there would be a separate company that would deal with this.

We also know that Nova Scotia Power has been engaged in exploration onshore looking at the possibilities for coal bed methane. I am not sure if this is going to be a separate company in their conception but it is a new business initiative which is beyond the traditional conception of what the company has been involved with and there may be other forms of business initiatives that the company may choose to become involved with.

[Page 4243]

However desirable it might have been to deal with these questions in the context of developing an overall energy policy, that does not happen to be the way the matter has presented itself. The company has come and asked for a reorganization. It is logical that we approve this at this time. At the same time it is important that we do turn our minds to some questions of public policy that can very logically flow from this legislation and which have been the subject of public policy debate extensively in the past and which can conveniently be dealt with while we deal in detail with this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I want to list three items which our Party believes are appropriate to deal with as we turn our minds to Bill No. 87. In doing so, I want to be absolutely clear with all members of this Legislature and with all members of the public who are listening that our Party has already advised Nova Scotia Power Incorporated that these issues are issues of concern to us and that we had full intention of raising them when this bill came forward for debate. In addition, we advised the other two Parties in this House of our interest in these issues. So this is not new. This is not the first time these items have been raised.

The three issues are as follows. One is the question of how to protect those who are already customers of Nova Scotia Power purchasing electricity. I will not go into a huge amount of detail about this, Mr. Speaker, but it is important that as the company evolves and moves into fields in which some of its activities are publicly regulated by the Utility and Review Board and some of its business activities are not, that there be clear demarcation of the limits of the regulated business and the limits of the non-regulated business. It is important that those who are customers of the regulated business not in any way subsidize any other business activities. That is the crucial fact and ways have to be found in order to make sure that this delineation is kept clear.

The solution that our Party is suggesting and will suggest by way of proposed amendments is that there be a consumer advocate created in order to attempt to facilitate the hearing process at the Utility and Review Board and look out for the interests of the consumers to make sure that as the company diversifies there is complete respect paid to the necessity for keeping separate the regulated and non-regulated aspects of the business. So this is the first point that we will be seeking to advance.

The second point has to do with municipal taxation. Mr. Speaker, every municipality around this province has had occasion to consider the problematic position of entities like Nova Scotia Power and here, of course, it is particularly Nova Scotia Power Inc. that we are focusing on.

The difficulty, of course, is that Nova Scotia Power owns sometimes very large generating facilities. For example, the Tufts Cove generating plant. Of necessity, such facilities are located only in one municipality and if taxed fully and exclusively by that municipality, that revenue would go only to that municipality. There are transmission lines that go across the province. In the end, when you look at the system taken together, it is clear

[Page 4244]

that it is for the public benefit, that the generation facilities and the transmission and distribution facilities are for the benefit of all people throughout the province, as well, of course, as the private interests of those who are shareholders in the company. But the issue of taxation has been a vexing one for municipalities. Not all municipalities are pleased with the present arrangements. I will not go into the details again about what they are but, again, our Party will be proposing that this is the time to turn to that issue and change the nature of the municipal taxation system that applies to Nova Scotia Power.

The third issue is one which relates very directly to some of the points that I mentioned earlier, when I mentioned the precarious position of Devco, the importance of employment, particularly in Cape Breton. We know, anyone will know who has paid any attention at all to the recent economic history of Cape Breton, how important the coal mining industry is to Cape Breton, how precarious the employment situation is in Cape Breton and all the difficulties that presently beset Devco with consequences for all those who work there. The relationship between Devco and Nova Scotia Power has not, in recent years, been an easy one. This is something with which we can equally come to grips at this point. It may well not be the complete solution to difficulties that are being encountered.

As I said earlier when I said that if anything fundamentally characterized the electricity industry at this point, it is fast-evolving change. Given that, given that we only turn on an irregular basis to legislation that affects major entities, we have to take advantage of this opportunity in order to come to grips with this very important issue.

Members will know that in the recent election, our Party spoke about the importance of making sure that there were statutory protections for what is, at this point, our only real achieved indigenous fuel. We have to look at that and that will be the third area in which we will be proposing changes to this bill.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I want to point out that the thrust of our Party's analysis is clearly in favour of this legislation. At the same time, we recognize that there are a whole host of important policy changes that have come and will come in the area of electricity and within the overall context of energy policy. We have said that this province has to come to grips with putting in place a comprehensive energy policy and that it has been a serious problem for us, for all of us in Nova Scotia, that there has not been this policy in place. At the same time, when faced with a proposal like the one incorporated in Bill No. 87, it is the time to move forward with it, but, at the same time, there are some issues that we can come to grips with, issues that we think will improve the bill, that will serve to protect the public, that will serve to achieve equities in this very important policy area. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 4245]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, as I rise to speak on this important bill, Bill No. 87, which is a bill, basically, to reorganize Nova Scotia Power to allow it, I guess, in a sense, to compete in a deregulated type of atmosphere, which is now becoming more and more apparent is going to take place in Nova Scotia. I have to say that it brings up a lot of policy questions, which the previous speaker has brought up, one of which, I guess in a sense, is the fact of the matter of whether or not the government has what I would consider a clear energy policy for the Province of Nova Scotia.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have said in the past that we feel that this forum hasn't taken place and it is one that I think that the province has to have as to know where we want to go. When I say that, I am not really sure, as with the previous speaker, that we can incorporate this into this bill. I will be honest when I say that. The fact of the matter is that forum will take a considerable amount of time and I think that especially people, whether they be from Cape Breton whereby they are having this decision as where the coal industry is going versus SOEP, the new Sable Offshore Energy Project, and where they fit into, there is a forum, there is a debate that should have taken place that as of now hasn't.

I think for the people, especially from Cape Breton and perhaps not only Cape Breton but other parts of Nova Scotia which partake in the coal industry, that that forum has to take place. I guess we as a province have to understand where we are going with regard to our energy policy, not only for electricity, which is the major component of what we are talking about here today, but in regard to heating and a lot of other factors; even, I guess, in the sense of how we drive our cars, as natural gas comes onshore and if we are going to have a petrochemical type of industry here and whether or not in time more and more Nova Scotians will turn to alternate types of energy.

So when I say that, Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that we are debating this bill. The reason that we are debating this bill, No. 87, is that we as a collective body of legislators are asking ourselves as to whether or not we want to ensure whether Nova Scotia Power can compete. I think that all of us would like very much for this company, which is based here in Nova Scotia, which employs thousands of Nova Scotians across this province, whether we can ensure that they will be able to compete against forces which will come here to Nova Scotia and take part of this new energy project which lies off our shore.

There is an interest from outside this province for people to come in and to take part of this deregulated electrical industry and, as such, I think we have to be cognizant of the fact, does Nova Scotia Power have one hand tied behind its back. Now, if it does, Mr. Speaker, then I guess in a sense we as a collective body have to determine or have to decide whether or not we want to correct that. That in essence, I guess in a sense, is the guts or the essence of this bill as to whether or not we want to ensure that Nova Scotia can compete.

[Page 4246]

I listened to the previous speaker and he indicated that his Party had put forward to Nova Scotia Power that they were willing to bring this matter forward. They want to ensure that Nova Scotia Power would, in essence, be able to compete. He brings up some other points, one of which was how to protect consumers. Then he talked about other ones which was a Devco issue, which I have already indicated, and I think it doesn't only lay with Devco, there are other parts of Nova Scotia which have a coal industry which are part of the debate. The other one, of course, is the municipal taxation.

The one that hits me the most, Mr. Speaker, is how we protect existing consumers. That can be, of course, a household or that could be a small electric user, which is trying to compete against people from other provinces. I guess in a sense what I want to ensure is that we have a level playing field and that our consumers, especially our household consumers, are receiving rates which are accurate; if they are going to compete in the private sector outside the regulated industry of providing electricity that there is appropriate deviation or separation so that the consumer is being protected, I guess in the sense of the costs that are being charged to Nova Scotia Power Incorporated.

[7:30 p.m.]

I look at it and I say for ourselves and for our Party, if we can bring about some legislation which can incorporate changes which will allow Nova Scotia Power to be competitive, then we will support that and the essence of this bill is that. The other points that were brought up by the previous speaker was that we should have incorporated into here a comprehensive energy policy. As much as I think that debate has to take place, I am not sure that this legislation is the appropriate forum to do so.

The fact of the matter is, we want to ensure that Nova Scotia Power is ready to take part in this project and compete and those decisions are weighing now. I think that the government, perhaps in retrospect, should have brought this forward in the spring. Nova Scotia Power had indicated at that point in time its interests and they haven't hidden their interests. They said that they want to take part in the offshore development, both in energy generation, perhaps in distribution and also perhaps in owning part of the overall project. So they have been forthright in saying what their objections are and they also have been forthright in saying that they require some changes in legislation in order to do so.

The bottom line, in my estimation, is that we want to ensure that Nova Scotia Power, that employs thousands of people in Nova Scotia can continue to do so and, hopefully, can actually expand its base. As such, it will provide more jobs for Nova Scotians. Based on all of the points that I have brought forward, it is not my intention to speak at great length on this bill but to say that we will be supporting this bill going on to the Law Amendments Committee.

[Page 4247]

I do want to say, as I close my comments, that especially in regard to protecting consumers those are the types of things that we would like to have brought forward to the Law Amendments Committee and that hopefully, those initiatives will be brought about so we can rest assured that the consumers and the users of electricity in Nova Scotia will have their interests protected. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to take the opportunity to rise and speak for a few moments on Bill No. 87. It is an important piece of legislation that is here before us, a bill to allow Nova Scotia Power to reorganize its corporate structure. Any bill that deals with Nova Scotia Power is an important piece of legislation here in this Chamber. Nova Scotia Power is an important corporation in the Province of Nova Scotia, not only because of the business it conducts as a regulated utility in the electrical generation field, but also as an employer in many parts of this province and because of the contribution it makes to many of those varied communities.

I am kind of disappointed that the government did not bring this bill forward sooner to give us a little more opportunity to have a good go at it. When I first arrived here in the Legislature back in 1992, one of the first battles that I was involved in was on the whole debate around the Nova Scotia Power Privatization Act, as the then Progressive Conservatives introduced a proposal to have the public utility, Nova Scotia Power, privatized and become Nova Scotia Power Incorporated and you may recall those debates, Mr. Speaker. Now that I think about it I don't know if anybody opposite was here in those days - Jim Smith, the Minister of Justice was here - but those were pretty energetic and high-spirited debates and discussions that we had at that particular time.

The Liberals were then the Official Opposition and of course, in the NDP there were three of us back in those days and we were extremely concerned about what this move was all about and what it was going to do and the lack of control Nova Scotia taxpayers would have over decisions around energy issues in the Province of Nova Scotia. So I would not mind casting my mind back to those debates and review some of that history, now that we have the whole issue of Nova Scotia Power Inc. on the floor, but I am not going to avail myself of the opportunity, because there appears to be some urgency that we move this through somewhat quickly, and I wouldn't want to needlessly jeopardize this attempt by Nova Scotia Power to do what it suggests it needs to do, which is to reorganize its corporate structure, set up a holding company in order to separate its different corporations based on the economic sphere in which they are entered.

The regulated electric utility operations would be in a separate company, and then, if it were to be successful in its attempt to engage in the gas distribution business in the Province of Nova Scotia, then that would be a separate entity, and so on and so forth. I am told, and I have no reason to disbelieve the representations from Nova Scotia Power, that this

[Page 4248]

is what is needed in order to allow them to be able to compete not only here in Nova Scotia, but also in the energy field across North America.

As indicated by our Finance Critic, we will be supporting this bill in principle, in second reading, and certainly see no obstacles in supporting this bill through its other processes. I do want to say that this whole idea of privatizing Nova Scotia Power has left us - and it is not Nova Scotia Power's fault, I would suggest that it is the government's fault - we find ourselves in 1998 without a comprehensive energy policy in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Our coal industry in the province is deteriorating on a daily basis; we have natural gas coming ashore; and we have the potential of onshore oil findings. We have other options facing us in the energy field and, yet, there is no clear plan on how in fact to accommodate all of those different energy sources into one package in the Province of Nova Scotia, because there is no question, whether or not you decide to generate electricity with natural gas, that is going to affect jobs in Cape Breton from coal. Your ability to create jobs in Cape Breton may in fact be affected by whether or not you get natural gas to industrial Cape Breton, whether or not you are able to develop a petrochemical industry, and so on and so forth.

There are a lot of interesting and important questions that have not been explored even, unfortunately, in a public way in this province. Certainly, it is something that we have been suggesting is an important debate that we need to have, an important public debate. We would certainly like to have the participation of Nova Scotia Power in that debate, because they bring a lot of expertise and experience to the table.

What is going to happen with Nova Scotia Power in their operation or their attempt to be a participant in the gas distribution field, we have yet to find out. Certainly, we wish them good luck, and we hope that this reorganization will help them, if that is in fact what they require to be able to participate, to level the playing field with other potential bidders on the gas distribution field. That would certainly be good, because to not be able to recognize the important role that Nova Scotia Power Inc. plays in the economy of this province, I think we would be remiss if we didn't have that discussion.

Whether it is in Pictou County and the type of tax scheme with the Trenton generating facility, whether they and how they contribute to that town and to those surrounding communities in the county is important. It is important for those Nova Scotians. Decisions relative to the use of domestic coal in their coal generating facilities has an impact on Devco and other coalfields in the Province of Nova Scotia, whether that be in Pictou or in other parts of Cape Breton. Their ability to respond in ways that make sense and recognize the global pressures on us to conserve energy, to consider the whole gas emissions question that is being debated locally is very important and something that we must address. It is unfortunate that we are not able to take the opportunity right now to have that kind of debate, but such is the nature of the planning or lack thereof of the current government.

[Page 4249]

Certainly, as our critic has mentioned, we are going to be addressing primarily three areas in the Law Amendments Committee and Committee of the Whole House on Bills stages. One of them has to do with making sure there is consumer protection. That is a concern we have raised and we are going to argue that point a bit more forcefully. The question of tax in lieu, the arrangement that now exists in the Province of Nova Scotia and that has such an impact on towns like Trenton. We are going to make a proposal there that that policy be revisited, Mr. Speaker, and finally, the whole question of domestic energy supplies.

I understand that Devco in its present circumstances is not always able to meet the energy needs of the coal-fired generating stations in Nova Scotia. As a result, Nova Scotia Power has gone out to foreign sources in order to find that supply. We think that Nova Scotia Power should be required to go to those domestic sources first, in order to try to meet their needs, before going outside the province. We will be arguing that point as well.

This is an extremely important corporation in the economy of this province in the ways that I have mentioned. We think that those three issues that relate to Nova Scotia Power and energy in the Province of Nova Scotia are very important and need to be addressed, and we will be addressing them. That having been said, we have accepted the proposal presented by executives at Nova Scotia Power that this reorganization is required in order to put the corporation on a sound footing, in good stead in competing globally and to prepare themselves to meet the challenges that are facing them here in the region, in the Province of Nova Scotia. So as a result of that, we are supporting this bill as it moves from second reading into the Law Amendments Committee, Mr. Speaker. Thank you for the opportunity of having those few words and I look forward to any other members who feel so inclined.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I just want to speak very briefly in support of this bill. Nova Scotia Power is one of the great companies in Nova Scotia that all of us can take part in as shareholders, if we wish. You can buy the shares and go to the annual meeting and take part. One of the great things that we have to do is to help the company grow and to expand, to employ more Nova Scotians, provide jobs and bring forth new technologies and new ideas that will make Nova Scotia a stronger and a better place to live.

We could at this time, I suppose, hold this bill up and try to develop an energy policy with the 52 members of the Legislature all working together like busy little bees, but I don't think an energy policy should be put on the back of this bill. Why, Mr. Speaker, this bill only has a couple of pages in it, about one and one-quarter pages, and to try to turn that into a whole policy of making a new energy policy for Nova Scotia, I think perhaps is the wrong vehicle for doing it.

[Page 4250]

[7:45 p.m.]

All of us have been interested in energy in Nova Scotia for the last several years and, gracious sakes, I have been asking this government and the former government questions on NSRL and on natural gas for a long time and, Mr. Speaker, I will continue to do that. But do you know one of the things we can do is be helpful to the taxpayers in Nova Scotia and to the consumers.

The Utility and Review Board does some regulating I believe of Nova Scotia Power. Isn't that right, Mr. Speaker, the URB does some regulating on the rates that the power customers can be charged and can pay and so on? I think we have to leave them with that very good and onerous responsibility to help look out for us to make sure that everything that is right and proper is done. That has been their role in the past and I have got faith in it and I continue to do so.

We need large companies in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, because in the last 10 years the world has changed. We are becoming globalized whether we like it or not. The hog farmers in Nova Scotia found out when the price of hogs went down to half what they were a year ago. It was not because there were too many hogs in Nova Scotia. It was not because there were too many in Canada. It was not because there were just too many in North America. It is because the global picture affected the little hog farmer that lives in Upper Dyke; he was affected by what was going on on the other side of the world.

What happens with Nova Scotia Power Inc. is going to have a direct effect as well by situations that are not based or grown or even thought of in Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia Power Inc. has to be able to compete, Mr. Speaker, with anybody who comes into Nova Scotia. We have seen how deregulation affected the telephone service in Nova Scotia. The deregulation in the power industry is not far behind and that is on a North American basis. At the present time we are hearing that, I believe, there were five applications in the State of Maine to build electric generating facilities of 1,000 megawatts each, I think that is the number. Anyway, they are huge. They could supply all the power to Nova Scotia operating on less than 10 per cent of their capacity. That is the sort of industry that Nova Scotia Power Inc. is going to be competing with, large North American-based industries, some of them even based on burning Nova Scotia's natural gas.

I think it is a duty that we have as legislators to be cooperative - and I do not mean by falling over backwards and being trod upon - but I am saying be cooperative and to be helpful and bring in legislation so Nova Scotia companies can grow, can expand, and can compete in the market so that they are here 10 years from now and are not put out of business by some larger company who may want to practice predatory pricing or dear knows what.

[Page 4251]

If this is the way that Nova Scotia Power Inc. is going to grow, then, Mr. Speaker, I think we have to help them. I think we should help them and do all we can. At the same time, in our platform during the last election that some people read - anybody who read it thought it was pretty nice, pretty good and all-inclusive - but one of the things we were suggesting is a government-funded consumer advocate. It is nice to see that the Opposition Party has also indicated that they have come onboard and they are suggesting as well that there should be a consumer advocate. I think there should be but I am not sure this is the piece of legislation to guarantee that because it just is not.

We need one but in the meantime, until we do have a consumer advocate, I am perfectly willing to make sure that the URB looks after the interests of us. You know, you start getting into the taxation and the municipality taxes and so on, there is only one taxpayer. There is only one consumer, too. One way or another the consumers of electricity are going to pay any increased costs absorbed by Nova Scotia Power Inc.

We are worried about Devco, Mr. Speaker. I do not think anybody in this House is more concerned about Devco than members of this caucus. There are over 1,000 people depending on Devco and coal. The only way Devco coal is going to be successful, Mr. Speaker, is if we have a good, strong company that wants to buy the coal and can buy the coal.

One of the things that is of great interest to me, Mr. Speaker, is research into coal and the future uses, the gasification and liquification. During the last war, the folks over in Germany were using coal and they were squeezing it down and mixing it with other things and they were making it into oil to burn in their cars. Are we doing any research, as a province, in the uses of coal, and better uses and better ways to get that coal out of the ground? Now, to the best of my recollection, the Government of Nova Scotia in cost-saving shut down the research facility that they had for coal. It is an odd time to do it. When times are tough, you stop research. We should be telling the government, this is it. Do more research on coal and better ways to mine it and better ways to use it.

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly not going to be one that will hold up this legislation. I want to see it pass as quickly as possible so Nova Scotia Power Incorporated can go ahead and build more opportunities for Nova Scotians in Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia Power is interested in the future of Nova Scotia with gas distribution, perhaps electric distribution in other provinces across Canada. Maybe they are going to be forming partnerships with other companies. All of those things are good for the consumer because when we have a good, strong company in Nova Scotia, there are good, strong employees with benefit plans, with pension plans and this is what we have to encourage and develop in Nova Scotia.

We don't need more hindrances to holding up the development of companies and of opportunities. We need, as legislators, to make it easier for companies in Nova Scotia to grow and expand and if this is what it takes, it is not going to cost the consumer one penny, but if

[Page 4252]

this is what it takes to make a Nova Scotia company grow and to expand and to provide opportunities, Mr. Speaker, then I am for it and I have no hesitation but to indicate to you that I will support this bill and urge all members to do so. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak to Bill No. 87, an Act to Permit the Corporate Reorganization of Nova Scotia Power Incorporated. I want to say to the members of the Legislature that I live within 500 metres of the Nova Scotia Power Incorporated called Tufts Cove Generating Station, which, in fact, Nova Scotia Power Incorporated has invested tremendous dollars in. First, of course, you know that it was a coal generating station. Then it became a crude oil generating station and now it is looking forward to bringing natural gas to our community. It is not uncommon to say that that community has been beset with the kind of problems like emissions and particulates that have come out of those particular stacks in that surrounding community to the residents of that particular area.

Mr. Speaker, what I want to speak about is, in speaking with many citizens within my constituency anyway, when we look back to 1992 when, in fact, the Nova Scotia Power Corporation became a corporate inc., and we look back, many Nova Scotians had felt, even though the corporate inc. had overtaken the provincial debt of the Nova Scotia Power Corporation as well, that, in fact, there were many Nova Scotians who felt that, in fact, there was a tremendous infrastructure that was gotten for almost a song. In fact, they were sold on the stock exchange I believe, at that time, for $10 a share. Correct me if I am wrong, and I believe that that is, in fact, true.

I recall going back and here is the concern that I have with the reorganization and the structure of Nova Scotia Power Incorporated, not that it ought not to compete globally and we are looking at this primarily right now for natural gas, because we do recognize that it has to compete globally, but my concern is that Nova Scotia Power Incorporated, in its reorganization, and if we look back to 1962, 1967, 1969, when it was a private corporation itself, the Nova Scotia Power Corporation, and we looked at the retail business and if you remember Reddy Kilowatt stores that were located on Barrington Street, located on Portland Street in Dartmouth that, in fact, it sold in the competing market place, appliances. Now what happens is if Nova Scotia Power Incorporated can very well compete, once it has its grasp upon the natural gas, then it can compete in the retail market again and it can be as a part of the restructuring and organization of Nova Scotia Power Inc. a right to compete in that retail market, a right to sell those appliances, such as gas stoves, a right to sell those appliances such as gas heaters, a right to compete in that market place against other members of the private sector who do not have the same opportunities to compete.

[Page 4253]

That, to me, is a real concern. It is a concern that, in fact, many people have expressed to me and also there is a major concern, and I know that other members in this Legislature have talked about it, but the grants in lieu of. For the last seven years at least it has been unanimously endorsed by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities that Nova Scotia Power Inc. being a private corporation the same as any other corporation, ought to pay its real property tax and its business occupancy tax and ought not to be exempt.

I can tell you that the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities recognizes that and the community of Dartmouth recognizes that. As a matter of fact, when it was the City of Dartmouth, and I served on the city council for many years, it was a recommendation that was taken to the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. I do recognize and one has to recognize that ultimately the taxpayer pays but the taxpayer pays for all corporate interests. If a corporate interest sells you a commodity, then the taxpayer pays for that. Here is a commodity that is being sold and it ought to turn around and pay the real property tax and the business occupancy tax much the same as any other corporate entity.

I think that what we have to recognize is that is a single most important thing to many Nova Scotians, particularly those who have immense Nova Scotia Power Inc. facilities within their communities, and one can obviously imagine the kind of tax dollars. When I look at Trenton, when I look at the Tufts Cove generating plant in the community of Dartmouth and I see the potential revenue to those municipalities, that those municipalities rightfully have and rightfully deserve, the same as Bowater Mersey to the Municipality of Lunenburg or Queens, or the same as Stora industry to the Town of Port Hawkesbury. These things have to be consistent. They have to be real and they have to be identified as being real.

Mr. Speaker, if I can say that I think that, although I am in support of this with the recommended changes that my colleagues have brought forward and other members of this Legislature have brought forward, then I think that what we have to recognize is that there is a single most important issue and I believe Nova Scotia Power Inc. ought to demonstrate some flexibility. It ought to say, yes, that is fair, yes, that is just; if in fact we are going to be able to expand into the global market, yes, we are going to be able to distribute natural gas, yes, we are going to be in the energy field, then, yes, we as a private corporation have an onus and responsibility similar to those of any other corporation and, yes, we are committed to paying the real property tax and the business occupancy tax.

Mr. Speaker, that is the primary reason I stand before this Legislature. I stand before this Legislature because many of the residents that I represent in Dartmouth North, many during this election campaign, during the times that I was a municipal politician, felt slighted by the fact that here they were living adjacent to a major corporation and yet their city was not reaping the benefits of those tax dollars. I think it is significantly important that communities recognize that they have corporations in their midst and that they ought to receive or reap the benefit of those tax revenues.

[Page 4254]

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that we ought to tread with caution and I do not profess to be an expert in corporate restructuring. There are experts in the field far beyond my scope of even thinking about corporate restructuring. But what I do know is that if we do not tread carefully, if we do not look at corporate restructuring, particularly in the energy field and look at that in the overall comprehensive energy policy as the two members of my Party previously mentioned, then we are going off on a wrong track, and I would certainly hope that this Legislature would look at the proposed amendments that are coming forward, look at them as genuine and real proposed amendments, and that we would address this carefully. Thank you.

[8:00 p.m.]

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

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to close the debate in second reading of this very important bill. I do note that I did find quite interesting, the comments made by members opposite towards this bill. Although there is discussion about setting up a broader issue, and that is the development of an energy policy, I believe that the member opposite tonight made the comment that that is probably not possible to be developed here in the Legislative Assembly over whatever period of time we have left, the next three or four weeks. Suffice it to say, I do appreciate the verbal support being given by all Parties for the bill as it is.

The purpose of the bill is quite straightforward; it gives the Nova Scotia Power the flexibility it needs to grow its economic opportunities. We all agree here tonight that the world is changing and Nova Scotia Power has the chance to expand and create new economic opportunities and jobs. The current corporation structure is extremely restrictive in a world of finance, in a world of restructuring, and because of that it has really inhibited their opportunities to expand. The current structure assumes that Nova Scotia Power was an electrical utility and nothing more. I want to say that I believe Nova Scotia Power, in fact, can be much more than simply an electrical utility. This bill allows them to grow beyond and without eliminating any of the real protections required for our electrical consumers.

The role of the URB was mentioned here this evening. The electrical rates in this province are regulated, as we all know. Nova Scotia Power Inc. must justify any proposed rate increases, as was in the past. This bill, I want to make it very clear, does not change anything to do with that. The Utility and Review Board still has full regulatory control over the electrical side of doing business. In other words, the way it has been in the past will be the way it is in the future. There is no change to the consumer.

[Page 4255]

The URB, however, does not automatically control the other businesses that the power company wants to expand into. This bill divides the legal structure into two, and regulates only the one entity that it has the responsibility to regulate. The other activities then can grow without the limits of the regulations, as with any other business in the private sector.

The details of the option, I think, are important. I want to go through it just so that we all have a good understanding. For the information of all members, I will just run through it as quickly as possible, through the different clauses within the bill. Clause 1 is obviously very straightforward. It is simply the title of the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am not too sure that this is proper. As you all know, we are in second reading, and second reading is strictly devoted to the principle of the bill. Clause by clause does not come into this House until we get into Committee of Whole House. Perhaps you can give a paraphrase of what is in various clauses or something of that nature, and that will be acceptable.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I can certainly close that down quicker. What I wanted to do, as we have done in this House previously, is explain to members of the House generally what each individual clause was, without going into a great deal of detail. I wasn't planning on speaking here for a long period of time. If you would rather, I can simply close off discussion and we can move on. I move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 87. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 82.

Bill No. 82 - Greenwich Fire Protection Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

[Page 4256]

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 82.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 82. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 83.

Bill No. 83 - Motor Vehicle Act.

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

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Government House Leader for calling this bill. Bill No. 83, an amendment to the Motor Vehicle Act, makes a point that the death rates from impaired driving in this country are double the murder rate; impaired driving deaths are the single, largest criminal cause of death in this country. In Canada, 39.7 per cent of fatal accidents are alcohol involved. This grim statistic is nearly mirrored in Nova Scotia, where 39.1 per cent of fatal accidents have alcohol involved.

This bill provides tough, new measures aimed at repeat drinking and driving offences. Where a person had their driver's license revoked for an alcohol-related offence, it would now be mandatory that the person participate in an alcohol rehabilitation program. License suspension periods for repeat offenders are increased. The provision has not changed for the first license revocation, it is one year; however, for a second conviction, revocation would be three years which is up from two.

The time period used to determine whether a conviction is a second or subsequent conviction has been lengthened from five to ten years. The driver's license would be suspended indefinitely for a third or subsequent conviction; however, licenses may be reinstated after at least five years, which is up from three, upon application to a judge who

[Page 4257]

determines whether certain conditions as required by the Governor In Council have been met. The condition that I would be pushing for is an ignition interlock device to be installed in their vehicle. Alberta is now cited as using this device. Where a license has been revoked for a fourth time, the revocation is permanent.

Tougher measures will also be given to those who are driving while their license is suspended. The Registry of Motor Vehicles may impound a vehicle where the police are satisfied that a person was driving while that person's license is suspended due to a conviction under the Criminal Code.

Drinking and driving is a serious criminal offence. The amendments in this legislation are similar to those recently made in Ontario. We must take measures so that Nova Scotia will be the last place people will drink and drive. We must make our roads safe and if drivers continue to put the safety of others at risk they will, as a result of this legislation, pay a steeper price for their actions. Our caucus consulted with the Nova Scotia Safety Council, the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the Truckers Association, the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association and Mothers Against Drunk Driving and received endorsements.

I am hoping to see the cooperation in this Legislature which will move these amendments forward, and look to them ultimately becoming law in this province. Thank you.

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

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to add a few words on this bill also. This bill is a very important bill and I feel this is a first step in the ongoing crusade against drunk drivers. Mr. Speaker, we support this legislation and believe it should go on further to make Nova Scotia's roads safer and, also, this legislation is an important opportunity to save lives. It is excellent legislation. It is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss. Therefore, I support this bill and I know that the MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, also appreciates tougher laws in Nova Scotia pertaining to drunk drivers. I believe that we do have to take a tougher approach to drunk drivers and I do support this bill. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I as well rise in support of Bill No. 83, entitled an Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Act. I just want to say a few words about this piece of legislation.

I want to start - this being second reading - to talk a bit about the principle behind the bill, Mr. Speaker. First of all, the intent, as I read this particular amendment to the Motor Vehicle Act, is to allow for stricter enforcement and penalties with regard to those who are convicted under the Criminal Code for violating the drinking and driving offences. Actually,

[Page 4258]

I haven't been able to check my Criminal Code, I assume it also involves failure to provide a breathalyzer, although I am not absolutely sure of that one. Some of the other members are nodding their heads, so I am assuming that is the case.

So what we have in this circumstance is where a person is convicted under the Criminal Code, there are also parallel provisions under the Motor Vehicle Act for revocation of their license and so on. I think it is important for us to recognize, first of all, the efforts of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, better known as MADD. They have done a lot of work towards pursuing stricter enforcement and stricter penalties to ensure that - I guess, sort of the big stick, when someone knows that they may lose their license for a greater period of time than currently, or if they know that they are about to lose a vehicle through impounding, and I will get to the specific clauses a bit in a minute. I think it is important for us to recognize that this can be the stick that can ensure that when someone makes that decision to not or to get into a vehicle when they have had too much to drink, that this will be the opportunity for them to maybe think twice when they might not have before. That is very crucial with regard to this particular piece of legislation.

That is its intent. Its intent is to ensure that there be greater deterrents against those who might drink and drive and send the proper message to them, that this province will not allow this to happen. I know there have been steps in the past to try to deal with drinking and driving, but I think, as the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party noted, Mr. Speaker, obviously, there has been an inability to ensure that it has been completely successful, given the number of people that are still drinking and driving and the number of fatalities caused by drivers who are drunk. Those are factors that all come into play with regard to this piece of legislation.

I want to talk about a couple of the specific points. It is funny, because when this bill came in last Thursday, I was asked by someone, what does your Party feel about this particular piece of legislation? I will say on the record what I said to them and that is that this is a good start, but I would hope that we seize this opportunity to see that there are opportunities in here to improve on this piece of legislation. I am glad the government agreed to call it for second reading, because I think there are opportunities, through this legislation, to even give more teeth, to send even a clearer message to people that this is a piece of legislation, the Motor Vehicle Act will be used to ensure that if you drink and drive, you are going to face severe penalties under the Motor Vehicle Act.

I want to talk about a couple of particular issues around the principle of the bill and, in particular, the impounding of vehicles, which is one of the key points in the legislation. My reading of Clause 2 of the bill, which deals with Section 291A, I think it creates Section 291A(3) of the Motor Vehicle Act, allows when someone has been convicted of a Criminal Code offence related to driving while impaired or failure to provide breathalyzer and, at the same time, they are caught driving someone else's vehicle, then the Registrar of the Motor Vehicle branch has the power, Mr. Speaker, to specifically deal with them by impounding

[Page 4259]

their vehicle. For a first offender, it can be 45 days, if there had not been an order made before. If there is one order made, it can be 90 days and if they have had more than one impounding order against them, it is for 180 days.

[8:15 p.m.]

I want to make a couple of points about this, Mr. Speaker. First of all, the legislation as it currently stands is not mandatory. The Registrar may give back the vehicle without ever impounding it or the Registrar may decide to impound it for the period of time that is identified. If we are really serious about creating legislation that will require people to have to comply with orders not to drive after they have been convicted under the Criminal Code, then clearly the Registrar should not have any discretion in this case. It should be shall, the Registrar shall deal with this particular matter. I would hope that through the legislation we would take the opportunity through the Law Amendments Committee to address that particular issue.

The other aspect of this is something that we have under other legislation, I think federally and maybe even provincially, and that is the seizure of a vehicle on a permanent basis, potentially. Some would say that is drastic but let's look at issues around someone who is illegally fishing or someone who is doing other sort of quasi-criminal offences. Those people are in circumstances where if they are using equipment or vehicles in the pursuit of criminal or quasi-criminal activities, then at least the federal and maybe even the provincial, in certain circumstances, has the power to actually seize those vehicles and sell them.

I would suggest that in this case, this is something this Legislature should look at. Again, if we are very serious about addressing drinking and driving in a way that would allow for people to understand that if you do it, then you have to pay the price, then that should include potentially - now, maybe that one should be discretionary - but it should at least include the potential for the seizure of vehicles, not impounding for 45, 90 or 180 days, but I would challenge everyone in this Legislature, if they are serious about the issue of drinking and driving, then let's address it through giving the Registrar the opportunity to actually seize and dispose of vehicles that might be used in the pursuit of someone who has already been convicted and is caught driving subsequently. I think those are just a couple of issues around that particular clause.

I want to talk about another particular clause in here which is around - again dealing with the principle of the bill, but around - the principle is, if someone is drinking and driving and is convicted and then they are driving subsequently when their license is revoked and they are driving someone else's vehicle, that vehicle can be impounded even though it is not their own vehicle. It also says in the bill that the owner of the vehicle can then have an action against the individual driver if the car is impounded. I have a concern with that. There are a couple of things here.

[Page 4260]

First of all, when you loan someone your vehicle and you know that their license is revoked, then you should have to pay the piper, Mr. Speaker, which means you should not be in a situation where you then can go after them in an action. Some would say, maybe you didn't know that they had their license revoked. I will get to that clause in a second.

When you look at Clause 2, new Section 291B as it would be amended by this bill, it allows for an appeal to the minister, I guess that is the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, where someone does not agree with the Registrar's decision to impound. One of the options that is available with regard to exceptions to the rule that the minister can decide to revoke or to reverse the decision of the Registrar to impound, is around the issue of Clause 2, new Section 291C(3)(c), "the owner of the motor vehicle exercised due diligence in attempting to determine that the driver's license of the driver of the motor vehicle at the time in respect of which the order was made was not then under suspension;".

So what we have are circumstances where if an individual loans a car to a person they must take due diligence to ensure that person's license has not been revoked. It could be a simple question, it could be asking to look at their driver's license. There are a lot of options around that, but they must do the due diligence in order to ensure that they will comply with the law. If they do due diligence, then under the appeal process they can have the impound order revoked. Mr. Speaker, that seems like a reasonable process to allow in this particular case. At the same time then, if they have done due diligence and they get their vehicle back and the impounding does not occur, then presumably they do not have to take action against someone because their vehicle is not impounded.

So why do we need these two alternatives in this particular case? If someone is going to loan their vehicle to a person whose license is revoked, they should make every effort to ensure that they know that that person's license is in good stead and is not revoked. If they do not do everything they are supposed to, then they should not have the option of suing that person later on, because they had the opportunity to remedy it. In some respects maybe they are responsible as well if that person actually went out and killed someone or seriously injured them when they were drinking and driving again. I think that is another issue I would like to see dealt with.

Finally, the last particular issue I want to deal with is again another clause under this, that the minister may set aside the order for impounding by the Registrar where Clause 2, new Section 291C(3)(d), "the order will result in exceptional hardship.". Now, those are strong words, but there is not a lot of definition to them. Maybe there is in the Act, and I have not had a chance to see it. Assuming those words are plainly described, my concern is that what we have in those circumstances words that can be liberally, small "l"; interpreted in a way then that would result in the minister being able to politicize the process. I would hope that the last thing we want are exceptions to rules that are so broad you can drive a truck through them - pardon my pun - and would result in a situation where we don't have real teeth to enforce this legislation.

[Page 4261]

What we don't need is someone being able to come forward again. If someone is drinking and driving and they are convicted and their license is revoked and later on they are caught driving, why should there be exceptional hardship, with regard to this, allowed as an excuse? The car should be impounded and that should be it. If we are really talking about having strong teeth, strong provisions in here to prevent people from ignoring their revocation of license once they have been caught and convicted under the Criminal Code, then these sort of exceptions are just creating a farce amongst the bill and I don't think it is necessary and I don't think it is appropriate. Again, our Party would like to see this bill strengthened in the Law Amendments Committee.

Finally, why do we have the Minister of Transportation and Public Works deciding on the issue of an appeal? Again, given the nature of this province, given the nature of our history with regard to ministerial concerns and politicization of the issues, whether that be appeals or whether that be actual decisions being made by government, I would hope that we would take the opportunity to allow for an appeal to some other body, whether that be a Provincial Court judge or some other appeal process that is administrative in nature, but having the minister make that decision, I fear for the minister who would be the person that would have to make them and they could very well have to make them on a regular basis. I would also fear for the people who may have to be involved in that process. I would hope that we could depoliticize it.

Again, if we support this legislation and support it in a way that we want to strengthen it and makes this a stronger Motor Vehicle Act with regard to drunk driving offences in Nova Scotia, then we should take the opportunity to depoliticize it at the same time.

So our Party supports Bill No. 83, we look forward to it going to the Law Amendments Committee and we will have some changes there, hopefully. If the other Parties are serious about making this truly a province that sends the proper message with regard to drunk driving offences, they will also take the opportunity to discuss with us and, through the spirit of cooperation, work with us to try to improve this bill, so that it will be better for the people of Nova Scotia. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak on Bill No. 83. I am pleased to have the opportunity to propose amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act as put forward by the honourable member for Pictou Centre.

Firstly, I would like to commend the honourable member for the leadership he is showing on this particular issue. (Applause) It is one that I believe is important to every Nova Scotian and is especially noteworthy as we approach the holiday season, and I am sure it is on everyone's mind. We are supportive of the bill and its intent. We believe this bill is an important first step in the ongoing crusade against drunk driving.

[Page 4262]

Much of what the honourable member is proposing is currently being examined by a committee that has been working very hard for the past couple of months. This committee is comprised of representatives of several government departments, the police, and the Nova Scotia Safety Council, and they have put together a proposal which is now going forward to the Road Safety Advisory Committee.

The proposal contains several recommendations that are designed to target repeat offenders and provide more effective measures to keep drunk drivers off the roads. Along with stiffer penalties for those caught driving drunk, the committee has identified 26 other areas for consideration. I will touch on some of the proposals, to illustrate how this proposed legislation will further augment the work that is already under way.

The proposed amendments we are discussing today should have a very sobering effect on those who still get behind the wheel while under the influence. These people have no regard for others, therefore, we have to take others into account and make it even tougher for people to get behind the wheel while drunk.

In keeping with the committee's recommendations, I would like to suggest amending this bill to increase the loss of license to 18 months for a first-time offender. I would also suggest that an alcohol usage assessment be a requirement before the individual gets his or her license back. I agree with the time-frames put forward for second, third and fourth convictions. I would also like to augment the efforts in this aspect, as well, and suggest, as the committee has, that we look at flagging the license plates of those previously convicted of impaired driving. This would be an effective tool for police when patrolling our highways, Mr. Speaker, and I think it is something we have to consider.

I agree with the idea of impounding vehicles, Mr. Speaker. Here again, though, I would like us to go further. In order to be truly effective, I suggest we consider an amendment that would impound the vehicle for a minimum of 90 days, as long as there has been no other order to impound. However, we should not stop there. We believe there should be a mechanism to order the sale of the impounded vehicle and apply the proceeds to the campaign to keep drunk drivers off the roads. Obviously, we would have to protect the interest of innocent third parties. A mechanism to appeal would have to be built into the system, as well. Perhaps an order for sale could be issued through the courts, after the charges relating to impaired driving or driving while suspended has been heard.

We do not feel that the minister is the appropriate authority to set aside an order to impound. We believe that the courts would be the proper and the fairest adjudicator in these cases, Mr. Speaker. As a legislator, and as a physician, I take this issue very personally, as I know the honourable member that proposed these amendments does, as well. I believe this legislation brings us forward in a very progressive manner. There are other areas that we can consider and we will be bringing forward the additional recommendations of the committee

[Page 4263]

in the near future. In the meantime, the amendments that I have outlined can further strengthen the proposed legislation and make our highways safer.

We have an opportunity to create some very effective, yet some very tough, legislation, Mr. Speaker. We have an opportunity to save lives with this legislation. It is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege for me to rise at this time and speak in support of Bill No. 83. I would like to congratulate the Leader of our Party for the foresight at this time of year, family time of year, to bring forth amendments like this that have caused such devastation to the families of Nova Scotians in the past years.

Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity, over my previous career in 20 years, to see a lot of families that were touched by a criminal activity - and that is what alcohol-related driving is, it is a criminal activity - and it has to be treated as such. Those people who choose to drive while impaired under the influence of alcohol, have to be ready to stand up and be accountable for their actions. There are people that refuse to give the keys up to sober drivers, refuse offers from friends and from business to take taxis. It is time that this government take a hard stand against impaired drivers in the Province of Nova Scotia. I believe it is time to take a lead in this country.

Mr. Speaker, there are victims on both sides of the fence here. They are the unknown victims, drivers of other vehicles that are involved in crashes, pedestrians, children who are involved and, through no fault of their own, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, are injured or have their life taken. There are also another set of victims and those are families of those drivers. I have had a lot of occasions where I have had family members approach me and just don't know which way to turn. They have people in their families that are habitual impaired drivers who love to drink and love to drive and don't know how to address themselves. They have, on occasion, reported those people themselves. They have called the police and have tried to do what they can to prevent their loved ones from killing or, indeed, being killed.

Mr. Speaker, we talk about seizure of vehicles. To me, it is the seizure of a weapon. When people are involved in criminal activity, if they use a weapon, a knife, a gun, the police have the ability to seize that weapon and this is a criminal activity. The weapon in this case is a motorized vehicle and, indeed, the police in the province should have the ability to seize that weapon and prevent that person, if they are not able to prevent themselves from using it, then the province and the police should have the ability to prevent them from using that weapon.

[Page 4264]

[8:30 p.m.]

A lot of people can only imagine, and I have been there, Mr. Speaker, when we had to notify families that a young one, maybe at graduation time, or at the time of year we are approaching, has lost their life or has had a young person in their family taken from them, and the devastation caused to those families, words cannot express the look on someone's face when they are told that they have lost a parent, or brother, or child, at the hands of an impaired driver.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I spoke about it being this time of year, it is Christmas, and what better time of year to send a message out to Nova Scotians and the people who really care that this province will no longer tolerate impaired drivers. I have heard stories years ago where it was a great pastime among many people to maybe take a six-pack of beer with them and go for a drive and that may have been accepted years back, socially accepted, but today it is not. Now is the time for this government and all the legislators in this province to send a clear message out to, indeed, all Canadians that Nova Scotians will no longer accept impaired drivers on the roads of this province.

The Minister of Justice, Mr. Speaker, mentioned about license plates to identify people who have been charged in this province with impaired driving. I, personally, and I am sure our caucus will feel that that is a great way to identify someone in this province who has been charged with impaired driving and who is back on the roads and streets of our communities again. I know there are a lot of occasions where individuals driving, maybe we will see a vehicle driving erratically and they are not quite sure whether they should call, maybe they do not feel comfortable in calling the police and notifying them that this vehicle maybe is driving from side to side, or a bit slow, or not in consideration of what the conditions are at the time, but if there was some way that an impaired driver, or someone who has been charged in this province could be identified out there to the motorists, the pedestrians in this province, that they indeed had been charged with impaired driving, what better way to let the public know that this individual has broken the law at least once and give that opportunity.

I think the people in this province would take the opportunity when it arises to notify the police that, indeed, this person is driving erratically and should be reported based on the fact they know that this person has been charged previously. I think the suggestion by the Minister of Justice in regard to license plates is a very good idea and maybe something that could be adopted right across this province.

Mr. Speaker, to ask police in this province to do a job, we have to provide them with the tools. As we approach Christmas time, when police traditionally have set up road checks, and these road checks have been questioned and challenged in regard to constitutional rights of people across this country but this is one issue which has been upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in regard to our police doing roadside checks, looking for impaired drivers,

[Page 4265]

that the outcome or the consequence far outweighs the rights of the individual when it leads to saving lives.

Mr. Speaker, one time years back the only way that we had to identify an impaired or intoxicated driver was through his physical actions and that was to get a driver out on the road and make him walk the yellow line, put his head back, close his eyes, touch his nose. Those were the only ways, other than smell, that we were able to detect these drivers one time but in the age we are in today we have what is called a roadside screening device where right there at the scene a suspected impaired driver can be asked to take a roadside screening test. That in itself is not enough to charge a person but certainly enough, if he fails it, to request and demand that driver to return to the police station and take a breathalyzer test.

The breathalyzer, Mr. Speaker, can be given to a suspected impaired driver and again it is another tool used by police to detect impaired drivers in this province. We are giving the tools to the police to address this most serious problem and here is another way in this province to keep these impaired drivers off the road.

There is one other area I would like to see eventually addressed, Mr. Speaker, and it goes beyond this province, I am aware, but it is something we could take a lead in, and that is that drivers at fatalities or serious accident scenes be demanded to take a roadside screening test. Some would argue that that would be an infringement upon rights of drivers, but, again, it not only would help to detect and prevent further accidents and detect drivers that are under the influence, as well it would eliminate the possibility of any question being asked in the future whether or not a driver had been drinking. We are seeing all the time, through civil action, investigation of other accidents, the public are questioning police, they are questioning investigators. Was that person driving? Did you have the ability to detect whether that individual was drinking? If indeed, it was mandatory to take a roadside screening device test in serious accidents or fatality accidents, that would be one area that would be cleared up one way or another.

Mr. Speaker, we have the opportunity here, as I said earlier, to take the lead. In this province, approaching 40 per cent of the fatal accidents are alcohol involved. That is way too high. When you look at 4 out of 10 people that are killed in this province, alcohol is involved in those accidents. We have to do something and we have to do it now to address that very important issue. I believe this is a step in the right direction and I believe the amendments that are being mentioned by the Minister of Justice previously are also good amendments. I would hope that our caucus would be supporting those amendments put forward by the minister. We need tough measures to prevent repeat drinking drivers from travelling on the roads of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, our caucus has consulted with the Nova Scotia Safety Council, the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the Truckers Association, Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association and Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. All these people are in support of this

[Page 4266]

legislation. I look forward to this being passed on to the Law Amendments Committee. We are very much in support of this bill and in support of the amendments put forth by the Minister of Justice and, again, I thank you for the opportunity to speak on this and look forward to discussing it further at the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak in support of this bill and the intent of this bill. I am not going to take a great deal of time in doing that. I think our Justice Critic has addressed the issues that we have in this caucus. I think that this is a bill, certainly, that finds, on the floor of this Legislature, support regardless whether one is a Progressive Conservative or a New Democrat or a Liberal. I think that we all recognize the importance of making drinking and driving socially unacceptable in our province and in our country. Certainly, criminalization is one way of doing that through tougher penalties and, certainly, harsh penalties in the first instance need to be in place and available to enforcement agencies. We need to get the message out, clearly and forcefully, right at the outset of offences, that this is not something that we will tolerate in our communities and it is not something to be repeated.

I think, for most members here in this House, perhaps all of us, we have known the emotion of anger and despair at the senselessness of deaths that have occurred in our communities and around us, things we read on the front pages of our newspaper, when a drunk driver, who habitually has been an offender, offends again. It is a culture that we cannot allow to be propagated in this province. So any increase in penalties is certainly very welcome if this will act as a deterrent for those kinds of senseless and selfish kinds of behaviours and crimes.

At the same time, I do want to make mention of the provisions that require that those persons whose licenses have been revoked for an alcohol-related offence must participate in alcohol rehabilitation programs. I noticed in the list of groups and organizations that have been consulted with respect to this particular bill, absent on that list, perhaps just in terms of the list that was read here - perhaps they have been consulted, but maybe not - are, in fact, people who work in addiction counselling services.

It would seem to me that it would be extremely important to have some consultation or to hear from those who provide these services, to ensure that the resources that they require to meet the provisions of this particular bill in fact are there, and also to determine whether or not this approach is one that will be successful in terms of rehabilitation and for whom would it be successful. Is it an approach that would be successful for all offenders or for a certain proportion of offenders, maybe people who aren't habitual offenders but the first-time offender? That certainly would be something I would be very interested in knowing more about, and perhaps at the Law Amendments Committee stage, people who are involved

[Page 4267]

in the addictions field will be able to come forward and talk to us about their experience and the expertise they have with respect to counselling and rehabilitation in this area.

I would like to say that because I know a fair number of people who are doing clinical counselling in the addictions field, and I do know that the clinical therapists with the addiction services for the province have been attempting for some number of years now to become reclassified and have their work better recognized through pay, training and what have you, that there is some level of demoralization in that department that needs to be addressed. I think if this is a provision that sort of increases their workload in a way that would require additional resources, we would need to hear that so we are not building in expectations into our legislation that can't be fulfilled and will lead ultimately to some sense of dissatisfaction on the part of the public, on the part of addiction counsellors and, certainly, even on the part of offenders who are sent into these programs, expecting that they will somehow receive services that will assist them to be back into society in an acceptable way.

In closing, I would just reiterate that this is an important bill. It is important that we send out a strong message that drinking and driving is not acceptable and that we, as a society, will not tolerate it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the members of the NDP and I particularly want to thank the Government and the Government House Leader for calling this bill tonight. We do a lot of things in the Legislature, but I don't think we can do anything this session that will be more meaningful to Nova Scotians than passing this bill and probably with some of the amendments from the government and perhaps even some from the Opposition. We will see what the amendments are and, as a group of legislators, we will pass them and make this bill even better than it is.

I think it is significant that our Leader decided that it was time to do this and, of his own initiative, has spent a great deal of time researching, studying and looking into the facts and the situation surrounding drinking and driving.

[8:45 p.m.]

Our caucus was assisted greatly by that organization, MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. When they speak, we should really listen to them. They are a fine group of people. Most of them, if not all, have suffered the loss of a loved one due to a traffic accident involving a drunk driver. You can see the crosses on your way in from Windsor, when you come into Halifax, every day. There is a little group of four, then a group of two more. When I drive by there, I feel a sadness and heartache for those people who have suffered, not because they did anything wrong, just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the person driving the other car was drinking and driving.

[Page 4268]

If we can help alleviate the suffering and the pain of future people, who knows, it may be one of us next that would suffer the loss of a loved one due to someone's momentary lapse of good judgement. If we can do something in this House that would prevent that from happening, then I think that is great. I think it is marvellous. I think we should do it.

Drinking and driving, when we were younger, when most people were younger, it was sort of acceptable socially. To a degree, it still is. I will draw the analogy, if you saw me walking down the street carrying a loaded shotgun, you would probably call the police and say, look, he shouldn't be doing that. Most people would be running in fear and terror. But at the same time, if I had three or four too many, and you saw me hopping into my car, you are not apt to say, holy smokes, I am calling the cops, get them up here. You are probably crossing your fingers, saying, I hope he gets home without hurting himself. This is human nature. We don't view drinking and driving with the same degree of seriousness as we would if we saw someone with a loaded gun. But the results of that inadvertent action are just as deadly, and in fact, more so.

Impaired drivers, every week, kill 30 people in Canada; 24 hours a day, 300 people a day in Canada are injured; 1,600 people were killed in 1993; 1,500 were killed in 1995. Over half the accidents on our roads are the result of alcohol. Forty-five per cent of the fatally injured drivers have been drinking; 25 per cent to 30 per cent of the injured drivers have been drinking.

Mr. Speaker, it is not something that just happens, it is something that we cause because we are drinking. This bill will help to alleviate some of that. I don't have a copy of the amendments that the Minister of Justice is proposing, but hopefully we will have them very soon and we could look at them. The Minister of Justice has indicated that he would like to make the penalty section more severe. A year and a half for the first conviction.

That is a severe hardship for the person who is convicted and can't drive for 18 months. I have a lot of sympathy for that person, but I have to have sympathy too for the family of the person that might have suffered at the hands of that fellow when he was drinking and driving. Those people are the ones who are going to suffer the most, the families of the victims who no longer have that person to sit around the kitchen table and the dining room table at mealtimes, they are not there anymore because they are removed by a drunken driver. The drunken driver has to walk for 18 months, but he can still sit down and have his lunch and his dinner with his family. So the real hardship that we have to bear in mind is the consequences of drinking and driving.

I am very pleased, but I want to say that I am not surprised that there is universal support among all caucuses for this bill. I am very anxious for it to go from here to the Law Amendments Committee so we can amend this bill and make it better, make it more representative of the wishes of the people of this Legislature, so we can put this bill into law before this House closes next week or this week, whenever we are wound up for this session.

[Page 4269]

I think it is important and it is very gratifying that the Premier is anxious to see this come through. He said to me the other day that this is a good piece of legislation. The Government House Leader called it tonight and it is not often the Government House Leader calls an Opposition bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: If it is a good bill, he does.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, if it is a good bill. We don't want to get off and sidetracked into what was in the newspaper this morning. I think we had better stick to this bill and say nice things about the Government House Leader so he will call it as soon as it gets out of the Law Amendments Committee and we will get it through.

The statistics are overwhelmingly in favour of passing this bill. One of the things in the bill indicates that your driver's license would be looked at for 10 years before your slate is wiped clean. That means that if you are convicted in 1998 and then you are convicted again in 2008, it is not your first conviction, it is your second. Under the current legislation, every five years you have a clean slate so every five years you can be a first offender. Let's make it 10 years. I know the hardship for some people this may cause, somebody who just by chance had one too many. I have a sympathy for that, but the taxi services are there, designated drivers are there, your friends and family are there. We must very vigorously make sure that we have alternative methods of getting around besides depending on ourselves when we really and truly know better.

I want to take my place but I do want to thank all members of the House for supporting this bill and I look forward to the amendments that will make this bill stronger and make it so that the Government House Leader will call this bill and we can get it into law just as quickly as possible. Thank you.

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

DR. HINRICH BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, with great enthusiasm I would like to rise and to speak for a few moments on this very important piece of legislation, proposed legislation. I would like to add a bit of my personal experience to what the honourable member for Kings North just now told us, namely that he compared shotgun - inflicted fatal injuries with motor vehicle fatal injuries, my experience in the emergency room as a surgeon and in the hospitals in the OR setting when I remove organs from both categories, that is, shotgun-inflicted brain injuries that are deadly or motor vehicle accident inflicted injuries.

When I compare these two categories of injuries that come along in my professional life, both of them are shocking. Most of the shotgun-inflicted injuries are suicidal and, unfortunately, successful. All of the motor vehicle induced fatal injuries are not suicidal at all, unless you look at alcoholism as a chronic way of committing suicide. Here lies the difference.

[Page 4270]

Although the honourable member for Kings North was right in comparing, and for a good reason, the lethal effect of a motor vehicle driven by an alcoholized driver to that of a loaded shotgun, in a way it is not. I fear we are talking about apples and pears here. I think the motor vehicle, Mr. Speaker, driven by a citizen who is under the influence is, because of its random effect on society, that much more reprehensible.

I would like to bring to your attention that terrible tragedy that we, in metro Halifax, remember some years ago at the Natal Day festivities in the north end of Halifax. A car mowed into a group of children walking on the sidewalk. One of the children who was killed was the son of an eminent, young, brave Halifax orthopeadic surgeon who had died of cancer just a few months earlier. All his widow had were two boys that reminded her of dad and her husband and one of them was taken by that random act of violence, and that is what drunk driving, whether it is in rural Nova Scotia or whether it is in the City of Halifax, that is what it is. It is an uncontrolled, and uncontrollable, act of violence and that is why Bill No. 83 that the Leader of the other Party has put forward here is in its intent so laudable.

My experience as a physician dealing with alcoholism is that it is a disease and the question that comes to mind is, Mr. Speaker, can diseased people be deterred or should they be punished? It is one of the oldest questions in civilized societies. What is the meaning of laws, is it to deter or is it to punish? Now, whatever we feel about it, we have to be practical, and chronic alcoholism is a disease that most likely is intractable except for very few and fortunate individuals who enter programs that are well-designed, and offer long-term follow-up and help.

We do not have these programs in Nova Scotia. We do not have these programs anywhere in North America and, as long as these programs are not in place to cure, or at least to keep chronically alcoholised citizens in their long-term remission, as long as that is not possible, we have to look at deterrents rather than at cures, or at long-term remission. For that reason, Mr. Speaker, the proposed bill by the Leader of the other Party, in my view, does not go far enough.

I am now speaking out of experience. Having been living in rural Nova Scotia for the last 17 years or so, I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that the only deterrent outside metro, in my neck of the woods, would be to impound any vehicle driven by anybody - whether it would be first-, second-, third- or fourth-time offenders - impound it and auction it off without any ado, without any loopholes because, after all, coming back to my introduction, these are lethal vehicles driven by sick people.

In rural Nova Scotia, the people who, again and again, crowd our courtrooms, those people are often five, six, seven, eight times offenders. Of course, they never have a license and, of course, it is never their own car they drive, but they drive and they kill and, for that reason, there should be no leniency with the real owner of a car, there should be no leniency with people saying, well, 10 years, the record will have to be kept for 10 years.

[Page 4271]

[9:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, what difference does it make for a mother, like the wife of my late colleague, whether the perpetrator had a clean record or not. The child is dead and, for that reason, the proposed bill by the Leader of the other Party, is not strict enough in its deterrent aspects. There has to be, in my view, changes made in the Law Amendments Committee to make the impounding of cars easier. That is one thing I wanted to say.

Mr. Speaker, another thing that bothers me when I read the local newspaper that comes weekly to my house, is the refusal of the breathalyser. Why should we, as lawmakers, that at this moment try to protect society? Why would we pass a bill and not even mention the reprehensible and very frequent modus operandi of those impaired drivers, namely that in order to not embarrass themselves or their families or whatever, or trying to get some legal loopholes, avail themselves of those loopholes, that they refuse the breathalyser. That is unacceptable. As a matter of fact, it shows the state of denial that the chronically stricken alcoholic is in. Why would anybody refuse a breathalyser if that is the law? I would very much hope that, at the Law Amendments Committee, something can be done to do away with the practice. Refusing the breathalyser should not be part of our practice. The car should be impounded and immediate rehab program would be started, et cetera.

There was one more point, Mr. Speaker, I would like to raise and that is the level of alcohol in our bloodstream that, in Nova Scotia, leads to legal consequences. In Scandinavian countries, one of which I lived for quite a while of my life, the level of impairment is pegged much lower and it has had dramatic consequences in terms of MVA deaths on Sweden's roads, for good reason. If the level is not 0.9 or 0.8 or whatever it is in Nova Scotia, but one beer or one whatever and that is it. Just the smell on your breath, Mr. Speaker, not on yours, would be that it would be. That is, in my view, a very good law, a law that basically instills to the young people of our province that you don't drink at all, a lethal weapon with four wheels and hundreds of horsepower and that is our youngsters at graduation day who go into their pick-up truck and four or five of them, every second or third year, get killed because they think they still are within the legal limit of drinking. I think we should give it serious thought, maybe not in that bill that the Leader of the other Party has proposed, but overall, to lower the level of alcohol that is permissible on Nova Scotian roads.

Lastly, I would like to comment on the device that the Leader of the other Party wants to install into cars that, under certain circumstances, are driven by people that have been offenders too often. I find it is quite elaborate. I think we should not. I think it would, basically, water down this bill. We should pre-empt situations, or this bill, the law should pre-empt situations that would make somebody eligible to get a device in their car which would give off an alarm or something if there was impaired driving involved. I think we should make this bill tighter and tailor it to the reality of Nova Scotia. I will leave it at that, thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

[Page 4272]

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the remarks of those who spoke on the bill and I move Bill No. 83 for second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 83. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

The motion is carried.

[9:06 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Donald Chard in the Chair.]

[10:00 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Mr. Speaker, Hon. Ronald Russell in the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 38 - Private Career Colleges Regulation Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 4273]

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is time to adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, it is 10:00 p.m. In fact, we are automatically adjourned.

The House is adjourned.

[The House rose at 10:01 p.m.]

[The House will sit tomorrow from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.]