Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Thur., Apr. 1, 1999

First Session

THURSDAY, APRIL 1, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ. - Pictou Co.: School Closures - Oppose, Ms. E. O'Connell 5367
Gov't. (N.S.) - Seniors: IYOP Day - Declare, Dr. J. Hamm 5368
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Centreville: Park Side Estates Subdivision -
Upgrade, Mr. G. Archibald 5368
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Civil Procedure Rules Amendments, Hon. R. Harrison 5368
Anl. Rept. of the Department of Labour, Hon. R. MacKinnon 5369
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Fin. - New/Used Vehicles: Transition Tax - End, Hon. D. Downe 5369
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 94, Dangerous Goods and Transportation Act, Mr. R. Chisholm 5370
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2516, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Plutonium Surplus (Russia-U.S.):
Import (N.S.) - Oppose, Mr. R. Chisholm 5371
Res. 2517, Sysco - Min.: Manner New - Applaud, Mr. G. Balser 5371
Res. 2518, Easter - Celebration (Cdn.): Peace - Thanks, Mr. H. Epstein 5372
Vote - Affirmative 5373
Res. 2519, Sysco - ABN Amro: Documents - Table, Dr. J. Hamm 5373
Res. 2520, Sports - Hockey (Pictou Co. Minor): Jon Sim
(Dallas Stars) - Congrats., Mr. C. Parker 5374
Vote - Affirmative 5374
Res. 2521, Devco - Miners' Wives: PM Meet - Urge, Dr. J. Hamm 5374
Vote - Affirmative 5375
Res. 2522, Culture - Kirk MacDonald (New Waterford): Juno Award -
Congrats., Mr. F. Corbett 5375
Vote - Affirmative 5376
Res. 2523, Commun. Serv. - Soc. Assist. Restructuring:
Status of Women Report - Address, Mr. J. Muir 5376
Res. 2524, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Aspotogan Peninsula:
Hwy. No. 329 - Petition Organizer (Dermott Kenny) Congrats.,
Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 5377
Res. 2525, EMO - Gov't. (N.S.)/MT&T: Mobile Radio System -
Users Equip, Mr. M. Scott 5377
Res. 2526, Exco - Quarrels Personal: Cabinet Room - Confine,
Mr. H. Epstein 5378
Res. 2527, EMO - 911: Problems - Solve, Mr. J. DeWolfe 5379
Res. 2528, Sports - Hockey (NSSAF Triple A): Auburn Drive Eagles -
Champs. Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 5379
Vote - Affirmative 5380
Res. 2529, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Earltown-Kemptown Rd.
(Col. Co. [N.]): Mock Toll Booth - Recognize, Mr. B. Taylor 5380
Res. 2530, Gov't. (N.S.) - Record: Unique - Applaud (01/04/99-
April Fools Day), Mr. P. Delefes 5381
Res. 2531, Educ. - Atl. Mem. & Terence Bay Schools:
SS Atlantic Memories - Commend, Mr. E. Fage 5381
Vote - Affirmative 5382
Res. 2532, Econ. Dev. - Min.: Kindergarten - Message Internalize,
Mr. G. Balser 5382
Res. 2533, Educ. - Great Cdn. Geography Challenge (N.S.):
Winner [Jonathan Reid]/Second [Jacqueline Poushay] - Congrats.,
Mr. E. Fage 5383
Vote - Affirmative 5383
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 788, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Plutonium Surplus (Russia-U.S.):
Import (Hfx.) - Oppose, Mr. R. Chisholm 5384
No. 789, Environ. - Plutonium Surplus (Russia-U.S.): Import (Hfx.) -
PMO Contact, Mr. J. DeWolfe 5385
No. 790, Environ. - Plutonium Surplus (Russia-U.S.): Importation -
Assess, Mr. D. Chard 5386
No. 791, Sysco - ABN Amro: Contract - Details, Dr. J. Hamm 5387
No. 792, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Mac Timber: FTA -
Retaliation Prevent, Mr. R Chisholm 5389
No. 793, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Expenditure - Accountability,
Mr. G. Balser 5390
No. 794, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Mac Timber: Restart - Impossible,
Mr. C. Parker 5391
No. 795, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Debt Collection Prog. (Rev. Can.):
Low Incomes - Exemption, Ms. Y. Atwell 5392
No. 796, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Shelburne: Sound Stage - Status,
Mr. G. Balser 5393
No. 797, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Family Benefits: Overpayment -
Collection, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5394
No. 798, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Sheet Harbour: Common-User Dock -
Settlement, Mr. B. Taylor 5395
No. 799, Commun. Serv. - Debt Collection Prog.: Seniors (Low Income) -
Harassed, Mr. J. Pye 5397
No. 800, Health - Nurses: Shortage - Address, Mr. G. Moody 5398
No. 801, Human Rights Comm'n.: Appts. - Multiple,
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 5399
No. 802, Health: Long-Term Care Beds - Number, Mr. E. Fage 5400
No. 803, Justice - Supreme Court (N.S.) Family Div.: Appointments -
Factors, Mr. Kevin Deveaux 5401
No. 804, Tech. & Sc. Sec't. - Mobile Radio System: Volunteer
Firefighters - Adequacy, Mr. P. Delefes 5402
No. 805, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Distribution - Policy, Mr. G. Archibald 5403
No. 806, Fin. - C.B. Casino: Charity Monies - Distribution,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 5404
No. 807, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Taxation: Gasoline -
Infrastructure Commit, Mr. B. Taylor 5405
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Apr. 6th at 2:00 p.m. 5406

[Page 5367]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, APRIL 1, 1999

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

12:00 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 Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition bearing 216 signatures from residents of Pictou County who are concerned about public-private partnering in the construction of new schools. The operative clause reads, "We, the undersigned, are opposed to the closure of Pictou County's publicly owned, community High Schools and the construction of two amalgamated privately leased (P3) Mega High Schools. (We do support quality schools built and owned, when and where needed, by the taxpayers of Nova Scotia)".

I have put my signature on the document.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

5367

[Page 5368]

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition which reads,

"Whereas 1999 is the year of the Older Person and

Whereas June 13 th to 19 th is Seniors' week in Canada

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Federation of Senior Citizens and Pensionners petition the government of Nova Scotia to declare one specific day I.Y.O.P. day during the week.".

I have signed the petition for purposes of tabling and support.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition to the Minister of Transportation. "We, the tax-payers of Park Side Estates Subdivision in Centreville, are hereby petitioning yea, pleading with you to see that our streets are rid of the mud, the pot-holes, the water and the dust, so problematic in their seasons.

We've been beating our vehicles over these roads for over ten years, and wondering how much longer we will be expected to do so."

I have affixed my name to this very well-written petition, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to table it.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, in my capacity as Attorney General and pursuant to Section 51 of the Judicature Act, I hereby table amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules that were made pursuant to the Judicature Act by the Judges of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia on March 19, 1999.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

[Page 5369]

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1998, for the Department of Labour.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a brief announcement about a tax change that comes into effect today. As promised three years ago, the transition tax on purchases of all new and used vehicles, as well as heavy equipment, in Nova Scotia has come to an end. (Applause)

This tax was an important element in the province's plan to cover the revenue losses - from an 18.8 per cent to a 15 per cent tax - from the move to the harmonized sales tax system. The tax applied to all motor vehicle purchases, by consumers and businesses. Today, the tax has ended, as scheduled.

When the tax was implemented two years ago, it raised $15.5 million. That rate was lowered from 2 per cent to 1 per cent in 1998-99 and the forecast revenue is $9.5 million for 1998-99. So, clearly, businesses and consumers in this province, whether they are buying a $1,000 used vehicle or a $250,000 piece of construction equipment or making a payment on a lease, they will all be saving money now, this tax is gone.

The end of this tax brings Nova Scotia in line with Newfoundland and New Brunswick on the tax treatment for motor vehicles. I would also note that there are some administrative savings here as well. The end of the tax will also allow the Department of Business and Consumer Services to direct staff toward other projects and other issues. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, as an attempt at a good news announcement, this is nothing more than amusing. The reality is that what this covers is the nature of a tax that didn't exist before on sales of a certain class of vehicle. That, of course, is the private sale of used vehicles. We all know that prior to the introduction of the HST, only the provincial tax applied and that, indeed, after the introduction of the HST, those many private sales that many Nova Scotians engage in suddenly were hit with the higher 15 per cent tax.

[Page 5370]

There is another element of this that I think is important, that we notice that it draws to our attention one of the very many anomalies that exist with respect to the HST. We all know that many people are not happy with the way the HST applies in its details to various aspects of sales of goods and services in our province.

It is for that reason, Mr. Speaker, that this announcement draws to our attention, yet again, how important it is that there be a thoroughgoing, public look at all aspects of taxation, especially the HST in our province and that is why our Party has always taken the view that that is one of the main things we will do as soon as the government changes. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that I welcome the arrival of today, not so much the arrival of the statement, because today is the end of this so-called tax grab by the Government of Nova Scotia. I can say, on behalf of the dealerships across this province, they have been very disillusioned with this initiative by the government. I know that the people of Nova Scotia have never been able to fathom as to why they were being punished. One thing that it shows is another example of why Nova Scotia is sometimes different and why the government has failed in the sense of some cooperation with the other provinces, whether that be P.E.I., New Brunswick or Newfoundland. I use the example of this very week whereby this government has pulled out of the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, and then we go into the Atlantic Police Academy, and I can go on and on.

Mr. Speaker, if we can cooperate, we, in the Atlantic Provinces, whether it be in children's hospitals or veterinary colleges and so forth can prosper, and if we feel as a province that we can do everything better by ourselves in isolation, then I think we have failed the people of Nova Scotia, because we will not offer those services.

I will close my comments on this ministerial statement by saying that the HST does have different aspects of it that people don't understand and the people of Nova Scotia are still waiting for the review of the HST, how it applies to them, especially to low-income earners in regard to children's clothing or whether or not it be in respect of heating oil or electricity. I think that if the honourable Minister of Health were to ask his own constituents, they will tell him the same thing. Thank you.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 94 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 119 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Dangerous Goods and Transportation Act, to Prohibit the Transportation of Nuclear Material. (Mr. Robert Chisholm)

[Page 5371]

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. 2516

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

Whereas Atomic Energy of Canada has said it will proceed with burning U.S. and Russian weapons grade plutonium in Canada this summer; and

Whereas Halifax has been identified as a possible port of entry for shipments of plutonium by sea; and

Whereas the importation of nuclear waste in any form poses a serious danger to the people and environment of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House opposes the transportation of weapons grade plutonium through Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2517

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 board of directors of Sysco reports directly to the minister responsible for Sysco; and

[Page 5372]

Whereas the only member presently serving on the board of directors is the minister himself; and

Whereas this unique but not legally sanctioned arrangement has made it possible for the minister to communicate with the board of directors while shaving in front of his mirror every morning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the clean-shaven minister responsible for Sysco and applaud the new and efficient manner in which he is carrying out his responsibilities.

Mr. Speaker, I would seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 2518

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

Whereas this is the time of Easter, an important Christian religious occasion; and

Whereas this is also the time of Passover, an important Jewish religious occasion; and

Whereas in many parts of the world, religious differences often lead to disputes, divisions, hostilities and violence;

Therefore be it resolved that this House give thanks for the blessing we all enjoy to live in a country where different religious traditions can be celebrated in peace.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5373]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2519

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 Dutch company, Hoogovens acknowledged a conflict of interest in taking a multimillion dollar fee for managing Sysco at the same time it was responsible for selling Sysco; and

[12:15 p.m.]

Whereas in response to conflict of interest concerns, a Dutch bank was coincidentally contracted to try and sell Sysco; and

Whereas in the absence of a board of directors for Sydney Steel, questions remain with respect to why ABN Amro was selected to sell Sysco, who made the decision to hire the Dutch bank, the cost of the arrangement, and the nature of any commercial relationship that exists between the bank and Hoogovens;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister responsible for Sysco answer the questions noted above and further that he table in this House today any and all documents related to contractual arrangements with ABN Amro.

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 Pictou West.

[Page 5374]

RESOLUTION NO. 2520

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

Whereas Jon Sim of Pictou County scored his first National Hockey League goal last evening; and

Whereas Jon is a fine example of the Pictou County minor hockey system; and

Whereas Jon is expected to play an important role for the Dallas Stars in their drive for the Stanley Cup;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Jon Sim and his family and applaud the Pictou County minor hockey system for sending another player to the NHL.

Mr. Speaker, I will 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 Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2521

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

Whereas after 25 or more years working the mines there are hundreds of Cape Breton miners facing the prospects of no job, no income, no home as a result of the pending phase out of Devco; and

Whereas the Liberal Government of Premier MacLellan has itself denounced Ottawa's paltry pension and severance package for the miners and their families; and

[Page 5375]

Whereas the miners' wives, led by the spirited Edna Budden and Beverly Brown, have requested a meeting with the Prime Minister to present the dire implications for the miners and their families;

Therefore be it resolved that this House tangibly and unanimously offer our support by urging the Prime Minister to grant the miners' wives an opportunity to meet with him personally as soon as possible.

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 Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 2522

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

Whereas at this years Juno Awards held recently in Hamilton, Ontario, New Waterford native, Kirk MacDonald, won a Juno for Best Mainstream Jazz Album; and

Whereas Kirk has played with many jazz greats from around the world, he credits the band program at Breton Education Centre as his foundation in this musical genre; and

Whereas the award winning album was recorded here in Halifax at his brother Kennie's studio, Atlanti/Mix, and the disc is aptly named the Atlantic Sessions;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to Kirk MacDonald for show casing the wide range of musical talent that exists in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 5376]

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 Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 2523

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women has recently submitted a report to the Minister of Community Services providing recommendations regarding the Social Assistance Restructuring Initiative; and

Whereas among the purposes of this report is the call for all levels of government to commit to improving income security and social programs which can address the troubling issue of poverty; and

Whereas in the report the Advisory Council on the Status of Women has urged the minister and this government to work cooperatively with other provinces and the federal government toward addressing poverty, especially for women and children;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services not allow this report to collect dust and that she immediately commit to begin working with her colleagues in government to address the serious issues identified in the report, Rebuilding the System.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 5377]

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

RESOLUTION NO. 2524

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

Whereas as their MLA, I tabled a petition in this House on Thursday, March 25th, from 391 residents of the Aspotogan Peninsula; and

Whereas those residents called for the paving project on Highway No. 329 to be extended through to Hubbards; and

Whereas Dermott Kenny, who organized the petition, operates on the principle that a small group of citizens can change the world;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mr. Kenny and the petitioners on their efforts to better their community.

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 Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2525

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

Whereas the Liberal Government has announcement a new state-of-the-art emergency radio communication system for Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this new system will see the province pay $8.9 million annually for the next 10 years to provide better communication among all emergency providers; and

[Page 5378]

Whereas many small communities in Nova Scotia have dedicated police forces, fire departments and ground search and rescue units, who provide an invaluable service to its citizens;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature require this government to ensure that all those users who wish to access this new communication system have the equipment made available to them in a way that will ensure they will not be hindered from obtaining this equipment by a lack of funds.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 2526

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

Whereas yesterday, the Finance Minister ridiculed the suggestion that new government jobs be located in Cape Breton, mocking it as, "By the way, we want jobs in my riding,"; and

Whereas, in today's newspaper, that minister hints about locating jobs in his own constituency;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge Cabinet Ministers to take their personal quarrels over the spoils of power back behind the Cabinet Room door and spare Nova Scotians these public squabbles about which Liberal will leave office with the most loot.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

[Page 5379]

RESOLUTION NO. 2527

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 recent review of 911 call taking and call dispatch procedures within Nova Scotia resulted in the surveying of 1,200 users of the 911 system; and

Whereas while survey results showed a high percentage of those interviewed as feeling the 911 system met their expectations, mistakes were still found within the system that cannot be overlooked; and

Whereas some of the identified errors in the report included dispatchers not knowing what fire departments to send to the scene of an emergency and 911 dispatchers having a different set of road maps than the municipality, ending in emergency vehicles not being provided with correct directions;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Emergency Measures Organization ensure that despite the favourable review of 911, the minister not overlook the identified problems and work to ensure no one is left waiting in the event of an emergency.

Mr. Speaker, I would request 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 Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2528

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 Auburn Drive Eagles captured the "AAA" high school hockey championship this past Saturday; and

[Page 5380]

Whereas the Eagles went undefeated in the championship tournament round robin play at Cole Harbour Place; and

Whereas the Auburn team won a close 3-2 victory in the final against the Glace Bay Panthers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Auburn Drive Eagles "AAA" high school hockey champions.

Mr. Speaker, I would request wavier.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 2529

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

Whereas like most rural secondary roads in Nova Scotia, the Earltown-Kemptown Road in Colchester County is in destitute shape; and

Whereas this road is heavily travelled and has resulted in frequent damage to cars because of the gigantic potholes in the road; and

Whereas concern is being expressed about the state of this road when the transporting of equipment for natural gas pipeline construction begins;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government recognize that in spite of high Nova Scotia gasoline taxes, federal excise taxes and the BST, area residents have established a mock toll booth on this rural road in hopes of raising enough funds to improve the highway, because the local operational supervisor reports that his budget is broke.

[Page 5381]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 2530

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution, and I wish to make it unequivocally clear that the motion was prepared before noon today:

Whereas this Liberal Government's wise investment in economic development and trade promotion is matched only by its record of making sure health care is there when Nova Scotians need it; and

Whereas the Premier has established an unsurpassed personal record of dedication to education and learning, which are valued so highly by Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Cabinet's performance in faithfully keeping each and every Liberal election promise is a new milestone in public affairs;

Therefore be it resolved that it is indeed appropriate that this House applaud the unique and noteworthy record of this Liberal Government today, April 1st, April Fools Day.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2531

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

Whereas the sinking of the SS Atlantic was a tragedy of titanic proportions that claimed the lives of over 500 people on April 1, 1873; and

Whereas the students from Atlantic Memorial and Terence Bay schools will honour the memories of those who perished off the coast of Nova Scotia by visiting the site of this terrible sea tragedy; and

Whereas the schools organized this event in order that today's youth could reflect on our environment as well as understand and appreciate the depths of our local history;

[Page 5382]

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend Principal Sharon Aucoin, the staff and students of Atlantic Memorial and Terence Bay schools for their efforts in preserving an important part of our rich, but often tragic, Maritime history.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully 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 Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2532

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 tends to respond to difficult questions raised in the House by hurling personal insults rather than information; and

Whereas the energies and efforts of the minister directed to this childish playground behaviour would be better spent generating real answers to genuine questions; and

Whereas childhood memories would indicate that the most suitable response for this playground insult would be a heartfelt, sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism agree to make a serious attempt to internalize the important message contained in the best seller, Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5383]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2533

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

Whereas Jonathan Reid of Dr. T.L. Sullivan Junior High School, Bras d'Or, will represent Nova Scotia at the national finals of the Great Canadian Geography Challenge in May; and

Whereas Jonathan beat out 14 competitors at the provincial final held at St. Mary's University; and

Whereas Jacqueline Poushay, a Grade 9 student at Sydney's Malcolm Munroe Memorial Junior High School, placed second;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations to both Jonathan and Jacqueline for their success at the weekend provincial competition and offer Jonathan best wishes at the Great Canadian Geography Challenge.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time now being 12:30 p.m., we will terminate at 1:30 p.m.

[Page 5384]

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - PLUTONIUM SURPLUS (RUSSIA-U.S.):

IMPORT (HFX.) - OPPOSE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. The federal government has made a unilateral decision to accept Russian and American weapons grade plutonium, which may be shipped through Halifax Harbour. The dangers are obvious and yet there has been no public discussion.

My question to the Premier, what is he doing and what is his government doing to ensure that deadly weapons grade plutonium will not be shipped through Halifax's port?

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I can assure the Leader of the Opposition that this government will not do anything to in any way jeopardize the health or safety of the people of this province but I would like to refer this question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

[12:30 p.m.]

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to just inform the honourable member that Atomic Energy of Canada, as a possible importer, would have to register under the Dangerous Goods Transportation Act and they would have to get permission to do this before this could possibly be done. Also, I would like to mention to the honourable member that the departments that are involved in this - Transport Canada, Atomic Energy of Canada and others - would hold briefings in communities close to the possible area so people would be well informed and have their input in this before it was possible.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the risks and costs associated with contamination, and the risks and costs associated with security, are very clear. I want to ask the Premier, what is this government's policy regarding legislation to ban the transportation of dangerous plutonium through Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, with due respect to the honourable Leader of the Opposition, I have already stated that this government will not do anything that would in any way jeopardize the health or safety of the people of this province and I would ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to once again reiterate the statement that he has already made.

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, we would be very cognizant of this and we would take this very seriously. As I said, they would have to apply for permits and we would have the scrutiny of those permits and we take this very seriously.

[Page 5385]

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, in the last week, two ministers of this Crown - the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Natural Resources - have indicated that they know nothing of this plan. The indications we have received again today from the Premier and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works indicate that they don't know anything of the federal government's plan. I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, why is it that the federal Liberal Government continues to make arbitrary decisions that affect the health, safety and the lives of Nova Scotians without letting his government know?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I am trying to tell the Leader of the Opposition is that the federal government cannot make any decision about shipping plutonium through this community without our approval. We have not even had any information put before us that would in any way be considered as an application for approval. So it is purely hypothetical right now and I can assure the honourable Leader of the Opposition and all members of this Legislature that we are not going to give approval unless there is a darn good reason for anything.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

ENVIRON. - PLUTONIUM SURPLUS (RUSSIA-U.S.):

IMPORT (HFX.) - PMO CONTACT

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Minister of the Environment. Last week I brought to the Minister of the Environment's attention, the issue of the Port of Halifax being a potential entry point for nuclear waste into Canada. Mr. Minister, now that you are aware of this issue, have you been in touch with the Prime Minister's Office?

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. Again, as my colleague indicated, and as the Premier indicated, we have received absolutely no official notification from the federal government that they even intend to look at Halifax seriously as a port of entry. We have received no notification from them and in no way have they indicated that they will be seeking Halifax as a serious place for entry here. I want to assure the member that before anything takes place, there needs to be approval from Transport Canada.

On the question of whether legislation exists, Mr. Speaker, the Dangerous Goods Transportation Act regulations are already in place which protects the citizens of Nova Scotia from any dangerous . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East. (Interruptions) Order, please. Your first supplementary.

[Page 5386]

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, the minister wasn't aware of what was going on last week and it seems that he is still unaware. Since last Thursday, I would like to ask the minister what specific steps your department has taken, what steps you will take to find out why the PMO has suddenly become so interested in the Port of Halifax now that nuclear waste is in focus?

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, again, I want to thank the member for the question. Since that member raised this question in the House, my staff have been in direct contact with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited to further explore this issue and see what their plans are. They have made it clear to us that right now it is just being discussed. We have no plan. We have no intention on going forward with this. It is simply being discussed. It is being looked at right now. Again, we have received no official notification. Until we receive official notification, this is just a plan and again we see the Opposition fear-mongering again for the people of Nova Scotia and we are waiting for a real plan to come . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Pictou East, your final supplementary. (Interruptions) Order, please.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary, I would like to go to the Premier. The Minister of the Environment is clearly struggling with this issue. Mr. Premier, have you been in touch with the Prime Minister's Office or has the Prime Minister been in touch with you on this issue?

THE PREMIER: Presuming he refers to the shipping issue in Halifax Harbour, I have had no word from the Prime Minister on any intention of the federal government to do this. It is only a hypothetical position that has been brought forward by somebody. I can assure you that the federal government has not indicated any intention to ship any such goods through Halifax Harbour.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

ENVIRON. - PLUTONIUM SURPLUS (RUSSIA-U.S.):

IMPORTATION - ASSESS

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, the federal government's plan to dispose of 100 tonnes of plutonium from the United States and Russia over the next 20 years has been in the works since at least 1996, and just yesterday AECL held a press conference to announce that it is going to be doing test burns at Chalk River this summer. My question to the Minister of the Environment is, what will he do to push the federal government for a comprehensive environmental assessment of this boneheaded plan?

[Page 5387]

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the irony here, to hear the member of the Opposition talk about boneheaded plans, he should check his legislation before talking about anybody's boneheaded plans.

The fact is, again, that this is simply a proposal that has been put forward. We have received no notification that Halifax is being considered as a port of entry on this. We will continue to keep discussions open with AECL, Transport Canada, also the Department of International Trade is involved in this. There will be comprehensive consultation with both the province and the communities before any action takes place. Again, at this point it is just a plan, we have received no notice and, when we receive notice, we will have a plan in place.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Organization said yesterday that the province "probably could not stop any plans to ship the plutonium through Halifax". My question is for the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Organization. Now that the minister is aware that the material can't just be beamed up to Chalk River, when will he push for a full review of the hazards and security risks of this boneheaded plan?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, when we get some evidence that there is going to be any shipment of any dangerous goods through this port, whenever that happens then we will take action on that. Also the Halifax Regional Municipality would be involved in any shipment through this port, and I want to make sure that whenever we get evidence of any shipment of any dangerous goods through this province that involved emergency measures, we will act.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, my last question is for the Premier. Instead of just shrugging its shoulders, when will your government shoulder some responsibility to stop this boneheaded plan?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the only boneheaded plan here is the one on behalf of the Opposition to frighten the people of Nova Scotia.

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

SYSCO - ABN AMRO: CONTRACT - DETAILS

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for Sysco. Yesterday the minister acknowledged that there is no board of directors managing the affairs of Sysco. Last week in this place the Premier confirmed that a decision was made to hire the Dutch bank, ABN Amro to negotiate a sale of Sysco at a cost of some $4.4 million. My question to the minister is, who specifically made the decision to hire the Dutch bank and to offer them a contract with a potential value of $4.4 million?

[Page 5388]

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the honourable Leader of the Third Party makes reference in the first part of his question to the board of directors at Sysco and the second part to who hired ABN Amro. Who hired ABN Amro was the decision by Hoogovens and the Government of Nova Scotia. The Government of Nova Scotia is still responsible for the Sydney Steel operation and will be until we conclude the sale.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the minister, the minister knows that that negotiation was generated because of a concern there was a conflict of interest between Hoogovens, which was receiving a multimillion dollar fee to manage the plant and at the same time trying to sell the plant. Clearly they would be in a conflict of interest. My question to the minister is, could he indicate here today what is the professional or any other relationship between Hoogovens and the Dutch bank?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the honourable Leader of the Third Party makes reference to a lot of current questions surrounding Sysco but it is amazing to me that on the one hand he calls for the closure of Sysco almost immediately and wants to put everybody in Cape Breton on a make-work project instead of sustaining meaningful long-term jobs on Cape Breton Island. Having said that, the answer to the question is simply that Hoogovens and ABN Amro have had some relationship in the past. ABN Amro has done some financial work for Hoogovens in the past. Both of them are very respectable firms, both of them known world-wide, and both of them with tremendous expertise in the steel business. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, it is really strange how uncomfortable the minister is answering any question about Sysco. It leads to the question as to why. Would the minister agree to table any information relative to why the contract to sell Sysco went to the Dutch bank and not to some other institution that is completely unrelated to Hoogovens? Can he table any information that will shed light on to why the decision was made?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to again thank the honourable member. I would also tell you that the attitude of the member opposite just baffles me. On the one hand he talks about the need to close Sysco. Now he wants some details. He talks about the need to have a plan for Sysco, the plan that he has never seen one day, the next day he did not like it, showed it to people who did not like it. Then he states to me that he knows nothing about a plan that is going on at Sysco. I would just refer that honourable member to a letter that he received this morning from a lady in Sydney, who is a steelworker's wife, and that will tell the story he is looking for.

[Page 5389]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - MAC TIMBER:

FTA - RETALIATION PREVENT

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question through you to the Premier. Over the past three weeks there have been startling revelations about the government's involvement in the financing deal for Mac Timber. Yesterday, a former manager said that Mac Timber was under investigation for breaking the Free Trade Agreement with the United States. I want to ask the Premier, what steps is his government taking to make sure that sawmills and lumber mills do not suffer retaliation from the United States? (Applause)

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition makes a good point. We, as a province, want to make sure that our businesses can do business in the United States as openly as possible. I would like to refer that question to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the specifics of the Mac Timber operation, I have heard through the press and by statements made in the House here, yesterday, that there were some allegations made by principals of the former Mac Timber company. I have asked for those to be put in writing to my office and I will certainly look into them if I receive them. The only thing I know is what I have been told from the Opposition and what I have read in the paper.

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to the Premier. The evidence is clear that this government knew that the owner of Mac Timber was being investigated in three countries for bad business practices. This is a very serious implication for an industry worth $79 million in this province.

I ask the Premier, why will he not order an immediate investigation into why this government funded a business that not only ripped off Nova Scotians for millions of dollars, but a company that has threatened an entire industry in this province? (Applause)

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition was doing so well but he had to come down about 12 levels. He just can't handle it. He can't handle the high road. He has made a very serious allegation, alleging that we had some prior knowledge about the head of Mac Timber; absolutely no basis for that allegation. I can assure the Leader of the Opposition and everyone in this Legislature that we are doing a very thorough investigation on this question and that we have a very good record. Very few of the investments we make

[Page 5390]

are not gold-plated and when they are not going as well as we would like, we are every bit as concerned, more so, perhaps, than the Opposition.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, to the Premier. Nova Scotians want to know why it is when you have files like this that do go wrong, and they do that too often, that you are not prepared to publicly reveal the information and the causes for that problem? I want to ask the Premier, why will he not agree to make that information available about what went wrong and why this government did not act on the information that it had about Mac Timber well in advance? (Applause)

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have every intention of making any information we have regarding the problems of Mac Timber available to the members of this Legislature and everyone in this province. I would refer the question to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, does the honourable Leader of the Opposition really believe that if we knew there were improprieties with this company that we would lend them money in advance? That is absurd to even suggest that we would do something like that. What I would ask is for the Leader of the Opposition to table in this House the evidence that he says he has today that we knew about the improprieties. I challenge him to table this message in the House today. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

I would ask the Leader of the Opposition and the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism to please cool it.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM: EXPENDITURE - ACCOUNTABILITY

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. The minister is responsible for a multimillion department and lately he has, with great fanfare, been travelling the province handing out gobs and gobs of taxpayers' money. Does the minister feel any obligation to the taxpayers of this province to be accountable for how that money is spent?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Again, Mr. Speaker, I sometimes have difficulty with the questions of the honourable member opposite, but I will try. He asks the question whether or not I feel I have been irresponsible to the taxpayers when we help create jobs in this province? That is our responsibility, to help create jobs in the province and that is why we deal with many businesses, some of which are in his constituency.

[Page 5391]

MR. BALSER: Once again, by the minister's very demeanour, it is obvious that his actions and attitudes speak more loudly than his words. If he feels an accountability, when will he table, as I have asked on two other occasions, the business plan for Mac Timber so it can be looked at?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I will see if I can make him understand this. Our government does not table business plans for discussion in the House of Assembly. Any business plan that we do, is done in consultation with the proponents, with the idea that we would - see, I have caught his attention again, that is twice in four days that I have caught his attention. (Interruptions) In answer to . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions)

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis, your final supplementary.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister. Your government has recently boasted that you have been successful in luring Staples Call Centre away from Moncton. Could you tell me, on behalf of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, what it is costing them for each of the jobs that will be created at the Staples Call Centre?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Again, Mr. Speaker, we don't negotiate deals on the floor of this Legislature nor do we discuss them. All I can tell the members opposite is that we are creating jobs in Nova Scotia and in this particular case, the Halifax region, two major call centre announcements in the last couple of months by this government, creating over 1,000 jobs. Is he taking exception to that?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - MAC TIMBER: RESTART - IMPOSSIBLE

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Economic Development. A Mac Timber manager says the owner, Neil Vinet stripped the assets and flushed the company, leaving local businesses with outstanding debts. Yet, as minister, you said here yesterday that you hope to restart the plant. Well, you can't restart the plant because Neil Vinet flipped the land and assets to his holding company.

So my question to the Minister of Economic Development is, don't you get it, you have been had?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. We are presently negotiating, as I said yesterday, with the receiver that has been assigned to the Mac Timber file. We are investigating our options there. As an unsecured creditor we filed an application, we are investigating our options, including the

[Page 5392]

possible renegotiation with some other people who may be interested in doing business in Debert in that particular field.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question this time is to the Minister of Natural Resources. Mr. Minister, you know that there may be serious repercussions here for Nova Scotia's lumber mills because Mac Timber may have broken the NAFTA agreement. So my question, your colleague doesn't seem to take this matter too seriously, will you start work immediately with the federal government to prevent quotas on Maritime lumber companies?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, yes, to the honourable member, whenever this evidence comes to our department, relative to any illegal activities within the industry we will certainly act on it.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Natural Resources. The Minister of Economic Development's incompetence, I think, has jeopardized (Interruptions) this huge multimillion dollar industry. My question, Mr. Minister, why won't you stand up and fight for small Nova Scotia businesses?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, we always stand up for businesses in Nova Scotia very strongly. I would refer that question to the Minister of Economic Development.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, with regard to the honourable gentleman's assertion that my department and I are incompetent, all I can tell you is that not too long ago that same gentleman wanted to give $100 million to an Ontario company without seeing a business plan. I would call that incompetence.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

BUS. & CONS. SERV. - DEBT COLLECTION PROG. (REV. CAN.):

LOW INCOMES - EXEMPTION

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Business and Consumer Services. Documentation from your department states that persons earning under $17,000 annually will not be affected by Nova Scotia's decision to sign on to Revenue Canada's debt recollection program. Mr. Minister, I have had constituents who make less than $10,000 a year call to complain about how the department has been strong-arming them into repayment arrangements.

My question to the minister is, how little can low wage earners make before you swoop in and take the food from their mouths?

[Page 5393]

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for her question. I would appreciate after this House rises today to have the details of the file to which she refers. But in general terms and generally speaking, the numbers do correlate with the original press release and the overwhelming number of Nova Scotia citizens responding to the notice is that they are willing to sit down and work out payment terms that suit their budget and more importantly, that repay the dollars owed to the Province of Nova Scotia.

MS. ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Government anticipates making $0.75 million annually off the backs of Nova Scotians who are barely scraping by. I ask the minister again, does the province have an economic hardship threshold and what is it?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, in simple terms, it is in accordance with the public announcement that was made some time ago when this program was announced, but more importantly than that, callers who are reaching the Department of Business and Consumer Services are engaged in discussions about how to make repayment in accordance with the budgets of those families and those citizens. Most of those callers are not only receiving a courteous exchange of information but are willing to make repayment to the Province of Nova Scotia.

MS. ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, Mr. Minister tell this House why the government can afford to write off a $25 million loan to Michelin but can't do the same for low-wage earners in this province. Explain the logic here.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, this is a government that has raised the income threshold for payment of taxes, such that low-income earners in this province have benefited by $20 million to $30 million in tax reductions over the last five years. There is an income threshold. We are dealing with fairness, and most Nova Scotians are happy to make sure that they live up to their responsibilities to pay their debts as law-abiding citizens.

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

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - SHELBURNE: SOUND STAGE - STATUS

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. Recently the Minister of Transportation and Public Works announced with much fanfare that there would be the construction of a new sound stage in the Shelburne area. Would the minister comment on the status of that particular project?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we did announce funding for a new sound stage in the Shelburne area. We feel it is a very important initiative in the film industry to be located in that part of the province, and as we speak the deal is being put together with

[Page 5394]

a view to starting some reconstruction of that particular facility and will employ many people in the area of Shelburne.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, again through you to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, there are currently five sound stages in this province, including the one at Mill Cove that is now empty. Why would the province be putting more money into a sound stage facility when there is currently underutilized capacity within this province?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I guess you can't win in this business. You create jobs you get criticized, you don't create them, you get criticized. All I can tell that member opposite is that I am sorry that I don't have a sound stage for his constituency, but he should still stay with us and maybe we will put one there eventually too.

MR. BALSER: As they say, hope springs eternal. Before the government announces the construction of any more sound stages, even should one be located in my riding, I would ask him to table the strategy that this province has for growing the sound stage industry in this province or the film industry in this province.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I think the member is absolutely right, this is a very serious issue for Nova Scotia. The film industry in Nova Scotia has literally taken off in the past couple of years. It is becoming a very substantial business initiative for the people of Nova Scotia. There are many people employed in the film industry and many people are going to be employed in the film industry. We are setting the economic tone in this province to attract additional people to this province in the film industry in order to create additional employment.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

BUS. & CONS. SERV. - FAMILY BENEFITS:

OVERPAYMENT - COLLECTION

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Business and Consumer Services. Recently the government told a woman in my constituency she owed $840 from a 13 year old family benefits overpayment. She earns less than $14,000 per year, but she was ordered to make monthly payments to help reduce the provincial deficit. How does the minister justify taking money from a single mother who is working her hardest to stay off welfare?

[1:00 p.m.]

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, debtors with an income threshold of $17,000 are exempt from this program. The discussion that is taking place between those who owe the province money and those who are on the receiving end of those phone calls is

[Page 5395]

designed to work out repayment schedules that fit with the family budgets of those involved. They are willing to repay their debts to the province and they are working out solutions that benefit those families.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this same woman has agreed to pay $5.00 a month; at this rate it is going to take her 14 years to pay off her debt. Will the minister please tell us how much taxpayers are paying for the bureaucracy needed to squeeze the working poor in this ridiculous manner?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are law-abiding citizens. Nova Scotians of all income levels are interested in paying their taxes, and in some cases their debts, to the province in accordance with the parameters that manage their family income; the civil servants and those public servants who are engaged in discussions with those families are working through negotiated payments that suit the family income in case after case.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I will gladly give the Minister of Justice $5.00 toward the deficit if he will tell us why hard-working people with the least ability to pay are being asked to pay off the budget?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am going to remind the members opposite (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If it is going to be necessary to throw somebody out of this Chamber, I will do it, but we are going to get on with Question Period. The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services has the floor.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of this government's record in support of those who are low-income earners in this province, the only province not to decrease Community Services' expenditures over five years, the only province to add per capita day care spaces, the only province to forgive, to change the parameters for income tax such that low income earners benefited by $20 million-plus in tax benefits over the last five years. (Applause)

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

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - SHEET HARBOUR:

COMMON-USER DOCK - SETTLEMENT

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. Mr. Minister, you and your Liberal Government had to pay a company an out-of-court settlement because you forced it and three other companies out of business when the Willie Moore patronage scheme was consummated regarding the taxpayers' $11 million asset, the Sheet Harbour common-user dock. Do you believe the

[Page 5396]

taxpayers have a right to know how much you gave that Nova Scotia company to put it out on the street?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, you know it is amazing how we can throw names around this House of Assembly under protection, and literally try to damage people's reputations by statements like the one the honourable gentleman opposite just made. Having said that, North Atlantic Terminals, a subsidiary of Ceres is complying with all the regulations that we have imposed upon them. They are creating jobs in the Sheet Harbour area. The competition was an open affair won by that company and that company is creating jobs in Nova Scotia.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, this Liberal Government's divestiture, as I indicated, put four Nova Scotia companies out on the street. It put them out of business so a large corporation could have a monopoly on what was previously the taxpayers' $11 million asset.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. TAYLOR: My question is simply this, is the minister, and his department, negotiating a settlement with the other three companies, or is the minister and a bevy of lawyers preparing a defence against those companies?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the only thing I could tell you is that the honourable member opposite has been at this question now for at least three sessions of the House that I know about, the last three, and probably before that but, anyway, in any case I would just wish that this honourable member would get to the point of what his problem is and come out and tell the House just what his particular problem is with this particular operation.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am trying to find out on behalf of Nova Scotians how much it cost them to have this government divest a taxpayer asset. The Freedom of Information Officer . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the question is this. The Freedom of Information Officer ruled that the minister's refusal to confess the amount that it cost the public is contrary to the Act. My question is this, when are you going to disclose, as the Freedom of Information Officer has recommended, the amount of money it cost to put that company out on the street? When are you going to confess?

[Page 5397]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that company won the proposal over there under a fair and open competition. The company is not in default of any of its obligations to the Government of Nova Scotia. Recently, we just received a cheque for $150,000 from them, which is in keeping with their obligations to the province.

The bottom line, Mr. Speaker, is that this company has been good for Nova Scotia. It has created jobs in the Sheet Harbour area and that should be pleasing to every member of this House that they were able to put people to work in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - DEBT COLLECTION PROG.:

SENIORS (LOW INCOME) - HARASSED

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the minister responsible for seniors. One of our members recently spoke to an elderly woman who collects an Old Age Pension. This woman told us that the debt collection program is chasing her for less than $1,000. No one will tell her where the figure comes from. My question is, will the minister explain why this government harasses low-income seniors for a few dollars?

MR. SPEAKER: I am not too sure who that question is for, but we will start off with the Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member opposite ought to respect the fact that people who are on assistance, at various times in their lives, sometimes get an overpayment. That is because if they go into a situation where they are earning a salary and they are receiving a cheque at the same time, they occasionally get an overpayment. The Auditor General himself requires that we deal with those overpayments in a responsible manner. I think it would be very remiss on his part to just ignore the fact that we now have $25 million in outstanding overpayments over the past several years.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I am not remiss. A number of years ago, this very woman mentioned that she had paid back to social assistance the overpayment. Why is no government department now able to tell her where this new overpayment comes from?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, obviously I would like to know the details of what he is huffing and puffing about, because I would like to have the opportunity to look into it.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, can you imagine that this government advised this woman to get a loan to make her payment. My question to the minister is, why does this government allow Michelin off the hook for $25 million, yet it does not act on behalf of low-income seniors?

[Page 5398]

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, we often hear the example of Michelin and what we do not hear is the tax revenue that Michelin creates in this province with workers in this province, who pay the shot on all these programs for social assistance and family benefits. We never, ever hear that. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - NURSES: SHORTAGE - ADDRESS

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health is aware that there is a growing shortage of nurses across this country. The minister is also aware that P.E.I. has recognized that fact and is acknowledging that it is going to take more money to help solve this problem. I would ask the minister what he and his department are doing to solve a problem that is growing fast, the shortage of nurses here in Nova Scotia?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, this is an important issue and one that we take very seriously in the Department of Health, because nurses are certainly the backbone of health care. Last week I met with a group that had held focus groups of important players within the health care system throughout the province. There is a report coming to me shortly but we are not waiting for that alone. We are looking at addressing with the regional health boards and the non-designated hospitals the whole issue of core funding for services, and that is certainly the salaries. It is a time of pressures on the budget for salaries because a lot of the increases are now impacting. I think it is multifaceted. We are also looking at the training of nurses. A comprehensive study has been done and we are working with the institutional facilities.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I haven't heard anything concrete yet. The minister met with RNANS and the nurses in the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union on July 9, 1998. He promised some short-term and long-term solutions and that was due on March 31st. I would ask the minister, is that report ready, is he keeping that commitment?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there is a report that is coming to me, as I mentioned, and it will be within the next week or so, and we will be responding to that. That is a consensus that not only the groups that the honourable member has mentioned, there are many of the unions and all the other groups of stakeholders, as we might say, have been involved in this process and it is a process that has been open and I will be responding to that.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary. The minister knows that part of the problem is the large number of casuals that are being employed, in other words, they are leaving the province to go find full employment. I would ask the minister if he is prepared to

[Page 5399]

try to address that issue which will take more dollars for people to be permanent than casual? Is he prepared to put the money in to address that very serious issue among nurses?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I want to truly thank the minister because I think he has put his finger on one of the main issues that we are facing. How this has evolved in our society, I am not quite sure. He mentioned about more money and I would be prepared to fight for that. I would make that commitment today. This is an issue I have addressed with the regional health boards and the non-designated hospitals. I am not convinced we are saving money, but it sure as heck is contributing to low morale within the profession. I think it is a major issue and is one that I thank the honourable member for today and it is one that I am committed to address.

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

HUMAN RIGHTS COMM'N.: APPTS. - MULTIPLE

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, through you, my question is for the Minister of Justice. The Human Rights Act allows Cabinet to appoint between 3 and 12 members to the Human Rights Commission but generally only 7 or 8 such appointments are made at one time. My question to the Minister of Justice is, why is it that the Cabinet has chosen this year to do a purge and appoint almost all new members to the Human Rights Commission?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: What is most interesting, Mr. Speaker, is that the Justice Critic didn't ask me about the previous topic because when Justice announced that some $500,000 was being written off in an accounting term, it was the honourable Justice Critic who suggested we should go after deadbeat Nova Scotians. Can you imagine? This government believes in human rights, this government believes in a strong Human Rights Commission and this government will do everything it can to appoint quality people to that board.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, all but one of the former Human Rights Commissioners supported the rehiring of the commission's Executive Director Wayne MacKay, now your government is cleaning house. To the Minister of Justice, is the government punishing the former commissioners who supported a strong and independent Human Rights Commission?

MR. HARRISON: Obviously, this member doesn't sit on the Human Resources Committee at all, Mr. Speaker, or he would know what members of his caucus did during the last meeting, despite the objections of the chairman. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 5400]

MR. HARRISON: For political expediency, we have a declaration in support of human rights. Our government, on our watch, will not only appoint a fine commission but it will hire a director and it will ensure that the Human Rights Commission continues to lead by example in this province, Mr. Speaker.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I guess we will see what leading by example is. The Human Rights Commission will soon rehear the issue of discrimination on the basis of political patronage. Is this recent housecleaning just an attempt by the minister to stack the deck in favour of the government when that patronage issue is heard by the commission?

MR. HARRISON: Talk about political opportunism and cheap shots, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please!

MR. HARRISON: The member opposite comes from a legal background and should understand this issue but I will help him. We have both a Human Rights Commission and the Government of Nova Scotia agreeing that a procedural error was made; both agreeing to review the situation, both agreeing to ensure that Mr. Kaizer gets a fair hearing before the commission. That is precisely what a Human Rights Commission should be doing in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

HEALTH: LONG-TERM CARE BEDS - NUMBER

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Health. During the last three years there has been a huge amount of pressure on scarce acute care hospital beds and the hue and cry for more long-term beds was answered in the minister's statement and budget of last year. How many of those new long-term care beds have been assigned this year, Mr. Minister?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think 41 have been designated but there are ongoing proposals being received and so it is an ongoing process.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Minister, indeed, 41 have been assigned, but in the budget and in the fanfare of the announcement there were 170 beds going to be assigned and designated. Those beds are desperately needed for scarce hospital beds and for the well-being of those patients. When are you going to move this process forward, Mr. Minister, and make sure that those beds from last year are assigned as quickly as possible this year?

[Page 5401]

[1:15 p.m.]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as I said, the process is working. The staff continually meets with proposals, it is a complex nature because some involve adding on to new facilities that are being replaced and we are working with the industry. It is working and we will keep our commitment.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Minister, that is not good enough. The designation of those 170 beds don't need a re-announcement in this year's budget. They are desperately needed out there. Will you assure this House today that those beds will be assigned as well as additional beds in the upcoming year?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I will make no commitment as to when beds will be assigned. It is ongoing. I have said repeatedly that the process takes at least 18 months and that is with everything going well. There are many factors, we are working within the regions. There is some distribution area where they should go within the region. This is not a political issue, it is a very thoughtful process and we will adhere to that.

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

JUSTICE - SUPREME COURT (N.S.) FAMILY DIV.:

APPOINTMENTS - FACTORS

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, through you, another question to the Minister of Justice. On Tuesday, the Minister of Justice told this House that the province asked the federal government to consider geography, gender and diversity when it was making its appointments to the unified family court. My question to the Minister of Justice is, will the minister please explain what the province meant when it asked the federal government to take geography, gender and diversity into account?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I think those words speak for themselves. What we are attempting to do is say to the federal government as the Government of Canada responsible for the appointment process would they take into consideration diversity, gender and geography in the appointments of the new members to the Family Court Division of the Supreme Court.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Justice, the province lobbied to have Chief Judge Robert Ferguson appointed as Associate Chief Justice of the Family Division. My question is, can the Minister of Justice tell us which criteria Judge Ferguson satisfied? Was it geography, gender or diversity?

[Page 5402]

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, Justice Ferguson has offered this province exemplary judicial practice. He is a justice whose work in this province warranted the support of his position to the Family Division of the Supreme Court. It has been welcomed by all quarters in this province at a time when we are changing the structure for family law in Nova Scotia. I presume by the member's comments opposite that he supports the appointment of Justice Ferguson to that position.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my final question is, this Minister of Justice on Tuesday clearly stated that his government supports the independence of the judiciary. So my question is why did his government lobby to have a judge appointed that does not even meet the need for diversity on the bench?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, it goes without saying that for a long time people have spoken about the need for a Family Division of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. Justice Ferguson's service to this province, his future service to the bench of Nova Scotia is of such quality that it should go without question of being an example, not only for this province, but for this nation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

TECH. & SC. SEC'T. - MOBILE RADIO SYSTEM:

VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS - ADEQUACY

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, Tuesday we heard the Premier's announcement of a new mobile radio system. It is worth underlining the fact that volunteer fire departments are very important participants in the system. My question to the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat is this. What assurances can he give to our hard-working volunteer firefighters that this new system will meet their needs as well as the old system did?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to see the critics both from the Progressive Conservative caucus and the New Democratic caucus at that announcement and were acknowledged by the Premier that day. The assurance is that the volunteer firefighters are part of the design of this system. They have been part of the four year consultation process and will continue to be part of the design as the system moves out through transition to full realization across the province.

MR. DELEFES: In fact, Mr. Speaker, volunteer fire departments currently have about 4,400 radios and about 7,000 beepers. In the new system they will get just 900 radios. Great radios, but only 900 of them. I repeat my question to the minister. In light of these facts, what assurances can he give to our hard-working volunteer firefighters that this new system will meet their needs as well as the old one?

[Page 5403]

MR. HARRISON: You know, we often get complaints from the Opposition Party that we do not consult with Nova Scotians adequately and here is an example of working with volunteer firefighters through the design phase to the announcement phase and through the implementation phase, and they are complaining that we are not working with volunteer firefighters who will benefit most in many ways from this system. I do not understand the question, Mr. Speaker.

MR. DELEFES: In fact, Mr. Speaker, there is about $10 million that will be needed to equip volunteer fire departments, but it is not part of their plan announced on Tuesday. My question to the minister is this. Where are our hard-working, cash-strapped volunteer firefighters going to get the money to pay for the new system?

MR. HARRISON: What I cannot count on, Mr. Speaker, is who is doing the economic analysis or the quantitative analysis for the NDP. They seem wrong on so many files with their numbers, not unlike their colleagues in British Columbia. Wrong, wrong, wrong, in their numbers. We will work with volunteer firefighters; we will have a radio system that protects the safety of Nova Scotians and they will be right at the table during the design.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS: DISTRIBUTION - POLICY

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate. Several months ago, you will recall, the Premier announced and he reiterated last week, that 62 per cent accessibility for natural gas in all 18 counties in the province was the goal of this province. I am just wondering can the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, who is also in charge of the Petroleum Directorate, indicate whether that is still the policy of the Government of Nova Scotia?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the distinguished, honourable gentleman from Kings North for the question. The answer to the question is yes.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, if the Government of Nova Scotia still has 62 per cent in 18 counties, why is it that one of the proponents for distribution of natural gas throughout the province is making their application before the URB and they have absolutely no intention of servicing all 18 counties of the Province of Nova Scotia? They said in their proposal they are not going to do it. Could you tell me why they are allowed to continue with this process?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the honourable member would make reference to one who said they were not going to do it; the other proponent said they were going to raise the bar and go further. So I think what will happen

[Page 5404]

here is that when both companies get before the URB, we will find out the answers to that, but both of those companies know the price of admission.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, there were two companies that left Nova Scotia because they said they could not meet the requirements of the Province of Nova Scotia. They said the bar was much too high at 62 per cent in 18 counties, yet the province continues . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: The province continues to allow the hearings to go forward, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The question, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Could the minister indicate why the province is allowing this to continue when they are not going to follow the requirements that the province put forward?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member makes a point that I suppose is in the minds of many people, but all I can tell you is that the URB is going to deal with the issue very soon. They are not only dealing with two major proponents, Sempra and Maritimes NRG, they are also going to deal with a number of local co-ops and I think we will just have to wait and let the process make its eventual decision, then we will know where we are all at. They know the level of the bar, they know what we have set, and they know the rules when they are going in.

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

FIN. - C.B. CASINO: CHARITY MONIES - DISTRIBUTION

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Revenues garnered from the Cape Breton casino are to be distributed 50/50 between Aboriginal bands and various charities. While the bands have received their share of the monies, several millions that would be given to charities, cash-strapped charities that desperately need the money, has not been given out. It is sitting in government coffers. My question for the minister is, when will the committee responsible for the awarding of this money be appointed?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, there was a committee appointed and it went through the Human Resources Committee and was rejected.

[Page 5405]

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would think that those facts should be checked a little bit more carefully. The names of the appointees for this committee were forwarded to P & P months ago, and we have not seen them yet. What I want to know is when will Cabinet forward these names so that these charities can receive the much-needed funds?

MR. DOWNE: The so-called born again Party, the Opposition, if they were really concerned about trying to get this money out into the communities that deserve it, then they would cooperate and support names that are brought forward of qualified people. We will be bringing qualified people's names forward again, and I will ask them whether or not they are prepared to get away from politics and let good people run those programs.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: I guess since the charities haven't seen a cent of this money and it doesn't look like they are going to soon, what I would want to know is will the registered charities have to wait until an election is called before they see this money?

MR. DOWNE: I am sure they will be waiting a long time if she thinks there is going to be an election in a hurry, lady. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DOWNE: There are three funds in this program that we are involved with. Those funds are for Aboriginal peoples and are being dispersed as I speak. Another fund that we have in the province provides programs for other communities around Nova Scotia. The third fund will be able to be dispensed and dealt with effectively once we have some cooperation on this Human Resources Committee to allow people to be effectively put forward.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - TAXATION:

GASOLINE - INFRASTRUCTURE COMMIT

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: My question is for the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works. This Liberal Government's budget figures indicate that they are going to bring in approximately $25 million more through gasoline taxes than they are going to spend on Nova Scotia roads. I am asking the Minister of Transportation, when is he and his government going to commit road taxes to public infrastructure in this province?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, the honourable member is asking a budgetary question. I can't answer that at this time. I don't have budgetary targets right now.

[Page 5406]

MR. TAYLOR: The snow and ice control budget this winter, as a consequence of a favourable winter, has seen that department save approximately $18 million. I am asking the minister, where is that $18 million going to end up?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I don't know where he is getting the figure of $18 million. We are going through our figures and we are waiting for the budget targets to come out. I certainly cannot discuss budget at this point in time.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this concludes the government's business for today. I would remind members, however, that there is a flag raising ceremony at 2:00 p.m. here at the Legislature for the new Nunavut Government. I would also now tell the members of the House the hours for next week. There will be no Monday night of course; Tuesday will be from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Wednesday is Opposition day; Thursday, we expect the hours will be from 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m.; and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. If there is any change, I will discuss it with the House Leaders.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, if I may, I think that there may need to be some discussion about the Friday hours. I know that there hasn't been any with the Opposition caucuses yet.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Well, actually we are reaching anyway. It is a week away. What we will probably do is discuss the hours for Thursday and Friday next Tuesday.

I move that we do now adjourn until 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

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

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned.

[The House rose at 1:31 p.m.]