Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Thur., June 10, 1999

First Session

THURSDAY, JUNE 10, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Fish. - Seniors: Licences - Fees Exempt, Mr. B. Taylor 7034
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Tyndal Rd. (Route 366) - Upgrade, Mr. E. Fage 7034
Educ. - Pugwash District High School: Teachers - Increase, Mr. E. Fage 7034
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Tenders (1998) - Constituencies (PC),
Hon. C. Huskilson 7035
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Tenders: Secondary Roads (1999) -
Constituencies (PC), Hon. C. Huskilson 7035
Surplus Crown Property Disposal Report, Hon. C. Huskilson 7035
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Health - Nursing: Action Team - Initiatives, Hon. J. Smith 7035
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Surplus Crown Property Program - Benefits,
Hon. C. Huskilson 7039
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3343, Agric. - Farmers of the Year (1999-Cumb. Co.):
Mark & Brenda Ripley (River Philip) - Congrats.,
Hon. E. Lorraine (by Hon. K. MacAskill) 7040
Vote - Affirmative 7041
Res. 3344, Educ. - NSSBA: President (Marg Forbes-Bridgewater) -
Re-Election Congrats., Hon. W. Gaudet 7041
Vote - Affirmative 7041
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 116, Davis (Miners' Memorial) Day Act, Mr. R. Chisholm 7042
No. 117, Protection of Children in Prostitution Act, Mr. J. Muir 7042
No. 118, Motor Vehicle Act, Mr. M. Scott 7042
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3345, RCL (Calais Branch 162 [Sackville]): Youth Needs -
Commitment Recognize, Mr. J. Holm 7042
Vote - Affirmative 7043
Res. 3346, Lbr.: Davis (Miners' Memorial) Day (11/06/99) -
Remembrance, Mr. M. Scott 7043
Vote - Affirmative 7043
Res. 3347, NDP (N.S.) - Anna. Co.: Educ./Health - Solutions Address,
Mr. L. Montgomery 7043
Res. 3348, Justice - Crown Prosecutors: Kaufman Report -
Recommendations Accept, Mr. Kevin Deveaux 7044
Res. 3349, Justice - Pub. Prosecution Serv.: Recommendations -
Implement, Mr. J. Muir 7045
Res. 3350, PC Caucus (N.S.) - Budget (N.S.-1999-2000): Stance -
Reveal, Mr. F. Corbett 7045
Res. 3351, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Political Patronage:
Promise Fulfilment - Admit, Mr. B. Taylor 7046
Res. 3352, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Destinations (Prospect Rd.) -
Promote, Mr. W. Estabrooks 7046
Res. 3353, Nat. Res. - Coastal Water Trail (N.S.): Cooperative Efforts -
Applaud, Mr. G. Balser 7047
Vote - Affirmative 7047
Res. 3354, Fin. - Budget (1999-2000): Business Criticism -
Warning Heed, Mr. D. Dexter 7048
Res. 3355, Educ. - Dal. Univ.: Medical Research Chairs (6) - Congrats.,
Mr. E. Fage 7048
Vote - Affirmative 7049
Res. 3356, Navy League (Can.) - Calvin & Clara Hillier (Vic. Co.):
Hon. Life Members - Congrats., Hon. K. MacAskill 7049
Vote - Affirmative 7049
Res. 3357, Sports - LORDA (Pictou Co.): Facilities - Dave Leese &
Family/Volunteers Congrats., Mr. C. Parker 7050
Vote - Affirmative 7050
Res. 3358, Commun. Serv. - Screening (Predators) Nat. Educ. Campaign:
Policies Short-sighted - Amend, Mr. J. Muir 7050
Vote - Affirmative 7051
Res. 3359, Fin. - Budget (1999-2000): Omens - Consider Carefully,
Mr. P. Delefes 7051
Res. 3360, Fin. - Vol. Firefighters: Tax Credit Balance - Deliver,
Mr. M. Baker 7052
Res. 3361, Educ. - Shatford Mem. Elem. Sch. (Hubbards):
Anniv. 50th - Congrats., Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 7052
Vote - Affirmative 7053
Res. 3362, Educ. - Hfx. Reg. Sch. Bd.: Class (Primary) Hours -
Intervene, Mr. B. Taylor 7053
Res. 3363, Educ. - Digby RHS: Renovations - Significance Recognize,
Mr. G. Balser 7054
Res. 3364, NDP (N.S.) Ldr. - NDP (N.S.) Direction: Takeover
(Unions & Ex-Prov.) - Believability, Mr. H. Fraser 7054
Res. 3365, Educ. - Judique/Creignish Schools: Moratorium Commitment -
Unfulfilled Condemn, Mr. E. Fage 7055
Res. 3366, NDP (N.S.): Hostility (N.S.) - Believability,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 7055
Res. 3367, Housing & Mun. Affs. - UNSM: Resolutions
(Workshop 29-30/04/99) - Address, Mr. J. Leefe 7056
Res. 3368, Little Hbr. Fire Dept. (Pictou): Initiatives - Applaud,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 7057
Vote - Affirmative 7057
Res. 3369, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - John Bragg (Oxford Frozen Foods):
Business Success - Congrats., Mr. M. Scott 7057
Vote - Affirmative 7058
Res. 3370, Lbr. - Rodd Grand Hotel (Yar.): Dispute - Settle,
Mr. N. LeBlanc 7058
Vote - Affirmative 7059
Res. 3371, Educ. - Museums (N.S.): Success (1999) - Wish,
Mr. M. Baker 7059
Vote - Affirmative 7059
Res. 3372, NDP (N.S.) Ldr.: Democracy Disbelief - Believability,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 7059
Res. 3373, Svend Robinson MP (NDP) - View (Constitution [Can.]
"God" Removal): NDP Leader (N.S.) - View Declare,
Hon. M. Samson 7060
Vote - Affirmative 7061
Res. 3374, NDP (N.S.) Ldr.: Resignation - Tender, Hon. M. Samson 7061
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1189, Health - Care: Mistakes (1993-99) - Rectification Plan,
Mr. R. Chisholm 7062
No. 1190, Fin. - Budget (1999-2000): Econ. Indicators -
Scenarios Prepared, Mr. N. LeBlanc 7063
No. 1191, Fin. - Budget (1999-2000): Business Commun. - Justify,
Mr. H. Epstein 7064
No. 1192, Sysco - Hoogovens: Mgt. Fee - Confirm, Mr. G. Balser 7065
No. 1193, Fin. - Budget (1999-2000): Balanced - Confirm, Mr. H. Epstein 7066
No. 1194, Sysco - Hoogovens: Mgt. Employees (On-Site) - Enumerate,
Mr. G. Balser 7067
No. 1195, Nat. Res. - NSRL: Debt Increase - Asset Define, Mr. J. Holm 7068
No. 1196, Devco: Coal Leases - Retain (Gov't. [N.S.]),
Mr. R. Chisholm 7069
No. 1197, Educ. - Horton HS (Kings Co.): Lease Payment -
Enrolment Basis, Mr. E. Fage 7070
No. 1198, Health - Hepatitis C: Compensation Package - Status,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7071
No. 1199, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Secondary Roads -
Constituencies (PC), Mr. B. Taylor 7072
No. 1200, Justice - Family Court: Abusive Relationships - Mediation,
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 7073
No. 1201, Fish. - Illegal Fishing (SW N.S.): Representations
(Gov't. [N.S.]) - Report, Mr. N. LeBlanc 7074
No. 1202, Lbr. - Pub. Wks. Projects: Fair Wage Schedules - Revamp,
Mr. F. Corbett 7075
No. 1203, Nat. Res. - Forestry Technician: Classification Appeal -
Status, Mr. J. DeWolfe 7076
No. 1204, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Offshore Rights Decision Making -
Fishers Inclusion, Mr. John Deveau 7077
No. 1205, Alc. & Gaming Auth. - Casinos: Gambling Addicts -
Policing Responsibility, Ms. Helen MacDonald 7078
No. 1206, Health - Nurses: Full Time-Casual - Costs Stance (Min.),
Mr. M. Baker 7079
No. 1207, Fin. - Gaming Corp.: Lottery (N.S.) - HQ Location,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 7080
No. 1208, Sysco - Sale: Responsibility - Company Name,
Mr. G. Balser 7081
No. 1209, Nat. Res.: Coastal Prop. - Sales (Hectares-1999),
Mr. W. Estabrooks 7082
No. 1210, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Mac Timber: Sale - Delay,
Mr. J. Muir 7083
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. J. Holm 7084
Mr. J. DeWolfe 7088
Mr. W. Estabrooks 7092
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:40 P.M. 7095
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:00 P.M. 7095
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Justice - Pub. Prosecution Serv.: Improvement - Stalling Condemn:
Mr. M. Scott 7096
Mr. M. Baker 7098
Hon. R. Harrison 7099
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 7102
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 6:30 P.M. 7105
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:10 P.M. 7105
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 102, Petroleum Resources Removal Permit Act 7106
Hon. Manning MacDonald 7106
Mr. J. Holm 7107
Mr. G. Archibald 7117
Adjourned debate 7117
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., June 11th at 10:00 a.m. 7117
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
H.O. 6, Health - Food: Pesticides Safety Level - Measurement Criteria,
Mr. J. Leefe 7118

[Page 7033]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, JUNE 10, 1999

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

12:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we commence the daily routine, I would advise members that the Adjournment debate today was submitted by the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. It reads:

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government be condemned for five years of stalling and immediately commit to implementing the latest round of recommendations for improving Nova Scotia's public prosecution services as a top priority.

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

We will commence the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

7033

[Page 7034]

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by a large number of Nova Scotians. It is also endorsed by the honourable member for Cumberland North. The petition reads, "We, the undersigned respectfully request of the Minister of Fisheries to eliminate the charge for fishing licenses levied against the senior citizens of the province of Nova Scotia as agreed by resolution in the Nova Scotia Legislature.". I have signed that petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table this petition from residents of the Tyndal Road, Route 366, in Cumberland County. The petition reads, "This PETITION is to bring to the attention of the Government of Nova Scotia, and in particular to those representatives whom the PEOPLE have ELECTED, the utterly deplorable state and unsafe condition of the Tyndal Road (Route 366).

This road serves as a main route for hundreds of cottagers, thousands of tourists, and hundreds of local citizens! Travellers on motorbikes have found it to be completely unsafe for travel, and there is a growing fear that the huge splits and drop-offs in the highway will contribute to accidents and quite possibly loss of life.

The Government MUST MAKE A COMMITMENT to resolve this problem IMMEDIATELY!". I have affixed my signature to it, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of more residents of the Pugwash area. The petition reads, "Pugwash District High School has been cut a further 70% of a teaching position. This makes for a total 5.9 teaching positions cut for a decline of 56 students - an average of 1 teacher per 9.5 students. As a result, PDHS has lost a number of programs and services including tech education programs, family studies programs, personal guidance services, and now the extended French program. Our children deserve better. We ask you to take the necessary steps to fund 3.5 additional teaching positions so that these services and programs can be restored.". I have affixed my signature to the petition as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

[Page 7035]

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

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

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the 1998 tenders in constituencies represented by members of the Progressive Conservative Party. Also, I would like to table the 1999 tender work on secondary roads in constituencies represented by members of the Progressive Conservative Party.

MR. SPEAKER: The papers are tabled.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Report of the Disposal of Surplus Crown Property.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I rise to make a statement regarding Nursing Action Team. In the June 1st Budget Address, this government announced several initiatives with respect to the challenges facing nursing professionals in Nova Scotia. These initiatives were the result of extensive consultations with various nursing groups including the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Nurses Union, the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union and the nursing schools at Dalhousie and St. Francis Xavier Universities. These consultations are ongoing. In fact, the latest meeting occurred earlier this week.

Mr. Speaker, one of the major concerns addressed in this year's budget was the issue of shortage of nurses. This government has committed $8 million to create 200 new, full-time nursing positions. In addition, we have agreed to fund the conversion of 200 casual nursing positions into full-time jobs. (Applause) The $8 million represents only a portion of the fiscal year and the extra funding for these new positions will be substantially higher when allocated on a 12 month basis.

That is not all, Mr. Speaker. Money will be allocated in the Health Investment Fund for the recruitment, training and retention of health care providers starting with nurses. We have also provided $2 million to open up an additional 70 spaces in nursing schools at Dalhousie and St. F. X. Universities. (Applause)

[Page 7036]

Mr. Speaker, when releasing the budget estimates this year, we promised that we would work with health care providers when implementing the various aspects of our health care plan. So far there have been more than 50 consultative meetings. I don't think there has been anything like that in the history of any government in the past.

Today, I am pleased to announce an illustration of our commitment to the consultative process. We have now put in place a nursing action team. This group of health professionals will work with government in implementing the various parts of our nursing investment program. Members of the nursing action team include: Dr. David Rippey, CEO of the Northern Regional Health Board; Anne McGuire, CEO of the Nova Scotia Hospital; Chris Power, Vice-President of Nursing at the QE II Hospital; Betty Mattson, with the Western Regional Health Board; Linda Percy, of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union; Heather Henderson, President of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union.

Still to be appointed will be a representative of the long-term care sector, as well as two officials from the Department of Health, including the new nursing advisor. The Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations will provide advisory assistance and act as the action team's secretariat. I am extremely pleased that these health care professionals have volunteered to serve on the nursing action team.

The team's terms of reference include: by the end of June 1999, to provide the Department of Health with recommended criteria and conditions related to the funding required to convert casual positions to full-time jobs and to the creation of new positions. The action team has also been asked to recommend a nursing recruitment process. By the end of June 1999, to provide the department and the hospitals with a proposal to distribute the first 100 positions. By the end of July, provide us with a recommended list for conversions from casual to full-time positions. By the end of August, we expect to have a proposed distribution schedule for the remainder of those new positions.

At each step of the process, and before making recommendations to the department and the hospitals, the task force will meet with, and receive input from a group of nursing leaders. We want to continue the consultative and meeting process.

Mr. Speaker, we are quickly moving to address the challenges facing the nursing profession in Nova Scotia. Not only are we giving the issue the highest priority, but we are also maintaining our promise to consult with the health care providers. Thank you. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, if I could, in the east gallery, I would like to introduce two of the members of the nursing action team, Ms. Anne McGuire, CEO of the Nova Scotia Hospital; and Ms. Heather Henderson, President of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union. I would ask them to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House.

[Page 7037]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister. This is the closest thing we have gotten to an apology and an admission of how badly this government has mismanaged the health care system, and how they have ignored front-line health care workers for the past five or six years in this province. This is an announcement that is long overdue.

I would like to offer the congratulations of this caucus to those nursing organizations, the Nova Scotia Nurses Union, the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, the nursing schools, and others around Nova Scotia. I want to say to them, you have spoken clearly and in unison. You have forced this government to take some action and this is a congratulations that you deserve, this government could not afford to ignore your voices. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, nurses represent three-quarters of the health care workers in the health care system, and we all know the serious crisis that needs to be averted with the casualization of nursing and the shortage of nurses. While this announcement in no way meets that challenge fully, it certainly is a beginning. Members of the action team that have been named here today by the minister are certainly capable, no question about their abilities or their capacity or their commitment.

[12:15 p.m.]

However, having said that, I want to say to the minister that we will be watching to see what your commitment is to the nurses of this province. This caucus will continue to stand up for health care providers. We will stand up and make sure that this is not another promise that you will break. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: It is fully our intention to hold this minister and this government accountable for the havoc that they have created in the health care system. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I rise and I thank the minister, first of all, for giving me a copy of the statement prior to his speaking in the House, just before the House started.

[Page 7038]

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that our caucus welcomes anything that will improve the nursing situation in this province. In 1992-93 we had a nursing task force and the Liberal Government came to power in 1993 and did not do anything about it. They shelved it. It collected dust. We do have a shortage of nurses. We have to ask ourselves why? We have to ask ourselves where we are headed?

I want to say that the group that the minister has put together, I am very pleased with, and I know many of these people. I know that they are very capable. I want to remind the minister of how important long-term care is. It seems like we are late getting someone announced for that area, but it is so important that we get somebody from long-term care on this committee because there seems to be some difficulty with them recruiting versus acute care recruiting. So that is going to be very vital that that position be put in place as quickly as possible.

Mr. Speaker, the additional nurses are needed. Full-time jobs are needed. I think the Nurses' Union and RNANS are saying that these are not enough, but I agree it is a start. I would hope this task force would be ongoing. I might remind the minister though, he talked about the consultation. It is new for this government. When this government came to power in 1993, they stopped consulting. That was an issue that we made with this government in their first term. If you are going to be successful and you are going to make inroads and do what is right in health care, consultation is key and those people who use the system and those people in the system have to be part of that process.

I am pleased that they finally, after six years, recognized that that is how you get the best results. I want to congratulate those people that have agreed to be part of this Nursing Action Task Force. They have got a big job ahead of them and I wish them well but, you know, Mr. Speaker, putting together the task force is the easy part. Actually doing something after you get the report is the key. Unfortunately, this government's record on doing has not been good. I am hoping finally they have opened their eyes and understand that after they consult something has to change so that nursing and health care can be better in this province. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North on an introduction.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the House, I would like to extend a welcome to the 41 students of the Grade 6 class of St. Charles Elementary School in the far gallery. Accompanying them are instructors, Linda Harrison, Marlene Barnett and Margaret Myles; parents, Bill Meighan, Debbie Landry, Elspeth Wilson, Mary Lynn Comeau, Patti Gilroy and Debbie Gatza. Would the House please extend a warm welcome and would the students please rise. (Applause)

[Page 7039]

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

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to share with the members of this House how the disposal of surplus Crown property program benefits thousands of Nova Scotians. The province disposes of surplus assets in a number of ways. Assets, including property and equipment, that can no longer be used by government departments are sold by auction or by tender.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to report that from April 1, 1998, to March 31, 1999, in excess of $209,000 was collected through the sale of surplus materials and real property. Since 1994, this program has put more than $3 million back into Nova Scotia.

There is another way this program benefits Nova Scotians. Many items are donated to worthy not-for-profit groups. For the year 1998-99, 140 non-profit groups received donations, and many communities benefited. I wish to mention a few: The Open Door Homeless Shelter in Sydney received bedding; the Colchester Community Workshop received metal lockers; the Louisdale Community Access Centre received furniture; the Martins River Volunteer Fire Department received office equipment, as did the Bay of Fundy Marine Resource Centre and Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea School.

Young Nova Scotians were important benefactors as well. The province donated over 1,200 computers to schools through the NovaKnowledge Association's Computers for Schools Program. This is 800 more computers than last year. Contributing to our children's education is important and I am pleased we were able to do so through this program.

Thank you for allowing me to share this information with you today. It is good news and a very successful, worthwhile program for everyone involved. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the fact that of course many of these 140 non-profit groups have benefited. In particular, I notice that Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea School is in receipt of some filing cabinets, some furniture and so on. I don't know exactly what that says about the Education budget, but I do know for a fact that that was appreciated in that particular school.

I would hope the Communications Department of Transportation and Public Works continues to make this program available on an across-the-province basis because it is important that all of these non-profit organizations are aware of this particular piece of legislation. However, I would like to point out to the minister that the Surplus Crown Property Act can be used in other ways, too. I am aware of the fact that on certain occasions the Order In Council of April 27th makes land available to a particular P3 developer, and that particular help to Liberal friends also comes through this piece of legislation. So it is a

[Page 7040]

particular piece of good news but this Crown Property Act can also be used at times for matters that I think should be looked at more clearly.

I am going to have a look at this report and I thank the minister for making it public. I am sure that there will probably be follow-up questions in the House on that matter. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, we, in the Progressive Conservative Party caucus, appreciate the fact that the Minister of Transportation provided us not only with a copy of his statement today previous to coming into the House, but we just received the document, Surplus Crown Property Disposal Report, and we are very much appreciative of that program. I know some not-for-profit organizations in my constituency, the Senior's Fellowship Club and the Colchester Community Workshop have received some Crown assets and, again, we extend out thanks to this minister and the government for continuing with a program that, I believe, was initiated by previous Tory Administrations. We like to see this government carry on with some practices that are supportable by all members of the Legislature and this just happens to be one of them. Thank you. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 3343

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Cumberland County Federation of Agriculture held their annual banquet and dance this spring; and

Whereas Mark and Brenda Ripley of River Philip were chosen as the 1999 Farmers of the Year for Cumberland County; and

Whereas this award reflects the hard work and commitment the Ripleys have invested in their farming operation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Ripley's on their achievements and wish them continued success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 7041]

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 Minister of Education and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 3344

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia School Boards Association recently held its annual meeting; and

Whereas Marg Forbes of Bridgewater was re-elected President of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association; and

Whereas Mrs. Forbes has been a tireless advocate on behalf of our children in schools in Bridgewater and across Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mrs. Forbes on her re-election as President of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask 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.

[Page 7042]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 116 - Entitled an Act Respecting a Day of Mourning for Miners Killed, Disabled or Injured in the Mines. (Mr. Robert Chisholm)

Bill No. 117 - Entitled an Act to Protect Children Involved in Prostitution. (Mr. James Muir)

Bill No. 118 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Motor Vehicle Act. (Mr. Murray Scott)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3345

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

Whereas in the best tradition of their organization, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sackville delivers valuable programs and services to the youth of Sackville; and

Whereas Sackville's Calais Branch 162 of the Royal Canadian Legion has, throughout its history, demonstrated its commitment to assisting Sackville residents and other community volunteer organizations; and

Whereas on Saturday, June 12th, Calais Branch 162 will present a van to the Boys and Girls Club of Sackville;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and thank Calais Branch 162 for their generosity and continued commitment to meeting the needs of Sackville residents, especially the youth.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 7043]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

[12:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 3346

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

Whereas June 11, 1999, is Bill Davis Miners' Memorial Day; and

Whereas the communities of Springhill and River Hebert were built upon the coal mining industry in which many lives were lost in the search for black gold; and

Whereas the communities of Springhill and River Hebert will be gathering tomorrow to keep the memories alive of those who perished in the coal mines;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House remember the young boys and men who lost their lives in the depths of the coal mines of Nova Scotia.

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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3347

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

[Page 7044]

Whereas the New Democratic Party and the Leader of the NDP continue to go into communities in this province and attempt to play on the emotions of people; and

Whereas the people of Nova Scotia and, indeed, the people of Annapolis County are intelligent people and understand how the NDP continue to operate; and

Whereas such tactics as sensationalism, exaggeration and suspicion are common themes of their approach;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP socialists stop the use of such tactics and address situations head-on, with the thought of finding solutions such as this government has done in terms of school construction and health care across the province generally and, more specifically, in Annapolis County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 3348

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

Whereas in his report yesterday, Judge Kaufman recommended Crown Attorneys should get collective bargaining rights; and

Whereas in 1994, the Ghiz-Archibald report also recommended that Crown Attorneys be given bargaining rights; and

Whereas yesterday, the Minister of Justice said that we still won't commit to collective bargaining rights for the province's 65 Crown Attorneys;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice accept recommendations of the Kaufman Report and allow Crown Attorneys to have a say in their own working conditions.

[Page 7045]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 3349

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's Crown Prosecutors have been trying to get a formal mechanism to address grievances, working conditions and salary setting; and

Whereas the Ghiz-Archibald report provided recommendations to address these issues that were fundamentally ignored by the Liberal Government; and

Whereas retired Judge Fred Kaufman, has submitted his final report on the Public Prosecution Service with recommendations to address the concerns of Crown Prosecutors;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government be condemned for five years of stalling and immediately commit to implementing the latest round of recommendations for improving Nova Scotia's Public Prosecution Service as a top priority.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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 Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 3350

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

Whereas on this morning's CJCH Radio's talk-back show, one caller referred to the Tory Party as the Eggo Party, because they are waffling on the Liberal budget; and

[Page 7046]

Whereas even PC supporters around the province are calling on Dr. Hamm and his caucus to stop waffling and make this Liberal budget toast;

Therefore be it resolved that Dr. Hamm and his Tory caucus "Leggo that Eggo" and tell Nova Scotians where they stand.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 3351

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 Minister of Transportation and Public Works has not publicly advertised a single tender regarding the placement of new asphalt on rural secondary roads in any of the 13 Tory ridings; and

Whereas yesterday, when confronted with this indulgence of political patronage, the minister and his fabricators produced a hastily written hand note; and

Whereas the minister instead today tabled a list of projects that have not, like the budget vote, been called yet;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier admit that the only one to keep an election promise has been his Minister of Transportation and Public Works who, long ago, promised blatant political patronage.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3352

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

Whereas tourist publications continue to promote Peggy's Cove as a popular destination in our province; and

Whereas tourism must remain an important source of income for all areas of this province; and

[Page 7047]

Whereas the unique coastal communities along the coast from Terence Bay, Lower Prospect, Sandy Cove, Prospect Village, McGrath's Cove, Bayside, Shad Bay, Blind Bay to East and West Dover also deserve promotion;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism instruct his staff to feature other destinations along the Prospect Road on the way to Peggy's Cove.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3353

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 Ecology Action Centre has taken the initiative to support the development of a Nova Scotia Coastal Water Trail; and

Whereas this coastal water trail will be the first of its kind in Eastern Canada; and

Whereas the development of this coastal water trail will have a profound positive impact on the local economy through the development of recreational opportunities and conservation initiatives;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the cooperative efforts of the Ecology Action Centre, the EJLB Foundation and Human Resources Development Canada for their worthwhile support of this waterfront legacy.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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-Cole Harbour.

[Page 7048]

RESOLUTION NO. 3354

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 Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce has taken out a newspaper ad to express its alarm at rising provincial debts; and

Whereas in a survey of its members, the chamber found that 98 per cent feel the government needs a sound plan for debt reduction and the political will to carry it out; and

Whereas the government has claimed that business confidence is necessary for economic growth;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government heed the warning of our business community which is adding its voice to the province-wide chorus of "bad budget".

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3355

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

Whereas Dalhousie University has received the largest investment ever made in medical research in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas $12 million in funding for six medical research chairs has been provided to the school to work on new developments in Alzheimer's disease, internal medicine, ophthalmology, psychotic disorders, surgery and autism; and

Whereas funding was provided by individual donors including Janssen Ortho Inc., the QE II Health Sciences Centre, the Dalhousie Medical Research Society, the Nova Scotia Hospital and the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend sincere congratulations to Dalhousie University and applaud the tremendous efforts and generosity of those who have made this announcement possible.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request waiver of notice.

[Page 7049]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 3356

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

Whereas Calvin and Clara Hillier from Skir Dhu, Victoria County, each received honorary life memberships from the Navy League of Canada; and

Whereas the Navy League of Canada is an organization which deals in the promotion of maritime education to all Canadians as well as with youth programs and the sea cadets; and

Whereas this prestigious distinction bestowed upon the Hilliers represents the first time in Navy League history that a husband and wife team were ever presented with their highest award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend a well-deserved congratulations and best wishes to Calvin and Clara for their over 20 years of dedicated volunteer service to the community, province and country through the Navy League of Canada and the sea cadet movement.

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.

[Page 7050]

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3357

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 Landsdowne Outdoor Recreation Development Association, better known as LORDA, of Pictou County was featured as a success story on last night's CTV National News; and

Whereas this recreation park provides free fishing for seniors and disabled as well as the mentally challenged and the children from Chernobyl; and

Whereas this park brings pleasure to so many and is one of a kind in the world;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Dave Leese and his family and all the volunteers providing such a wonderful facility.

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 member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 3358

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 National Education Campaign on Screening provides public education to voluntary organizations, with both paid and unpaid staff, to prevent would-be predators from working with vulnerable clients, particularly seniors and children; and

[Page 7051]

Whereas the significance of continuing a campaign working to help organizations screen individuals working in positions of trust cannot be overstated; and

Whereas the funding for this vital program is scheduled to end in September 1999;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services immediately amend the short-sighted policies that would place this program in jeopardy, and ensure that the National Education Campaign and the Volunteer Resource Centre are supported.

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 Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 3359

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

Whereas the Bluenose II, the sailing symbol of Nova Scotia, ran aground yesterday off Point Pleasant Park at the start of its new season; and

Whereas in the 1998 General Election, Liberal hopes that they could get re-elected on the basis of their record also ran aground off Point Pleasant Park when they lost Halifax Citadel and 20 other former Liberal seats;

Whereas the Liberals' captain is ignoring the channel markers and warning signs, taking his surviving crew towards a rocky shore in the belief that ordinary Nova Scotians will pick up the pieces;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House consider carefully the omens that surround this budget, rather than let the good ship Nova Scotia be wrecked by a captain who steers towards the treacherous shoals of debt and deficit.

[Page 7052]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 3360

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

Whereas the Liberal Government clearly did not provide satisfactory consultation to Nova Scotia's approximately 8,000 volunteer firefighters concerning a $500 tax credit; and

Whereas the Liberal Government agreed and then changed its mind concerning the provision of such a tax credit; and

Whereas the Minister of Labour was struggling for answers when he stated that a $500 annual tax credit was not better for volunteer firefighters than a $75 reduction in annual vehicle licensing fees;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Labour complete the government's promise by delivering the balance of the tax credit that was taken from volunteer firefighters of this province by an indifferent Liberal Government.

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 Chester-St. Margaret's.

RESOLUTION NO. 3361

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 Shatford Memorial is a Primary to Grade 6 elementary school in Hubbards; and

[Page 7053]

Whereas Principal Judy Harrity, staff and the 103 students at Shatford Memorial work hard to make it a special place for education; and

Whereas Shatford Memorial Elementary School is celebrating 50 years of learning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Ms. Harrity, past and present staff and students, and the community on the 50th Anniversary of Shatford Memorial Elementary School.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 3362

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

Whereas Primary school children in the Halifax Regional Municipality are being put on a merry-go-round once again because of this Liberal Government's ineptitude; and

Whereas 4,100 children were faced with this prospect last year as school board members discussed their operating budget; and

Whereas by cutting Primary programs back to part-time, the school board is indicating that savings will result in salaries for teachers and support staff;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education inform parents of Primary-aged children in the HRM that the education of their children is not for sale and undertake to implement a province-wide, full-day Primary school program.

[Page 7054]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3363

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 Education has said that the tender for the renovations at Digby Regional High School will be going out on July 21st; and

Whereas parents, teachers and staff of this school want assurances that the school will be ready for September 2000; and

Whereas when asked, the Minister of Education refused to commit to this time-frame;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education recognize the vital significance that this school has for the students, teachers, parents and staff of the community of Digby and surrounding areas and place the completion of this project at the top of his priority list so that it will be ready by September 2000.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[12:45 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 3364

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

Whereas yesterday the NDP Critic for the Department of Economic Development said private businesses are ripping off Nova Scotians; and

[Page 7055]

Whereas this is the same member of the NDP who has been secretive about nearly $4,000 worth of support he received from the NDP in British Columbia; and

Whereas the Leader of the NDP does nothing while his caucus attacks the private sector and takes cash along with bad advice from the BC NDP;

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians ask the Leader of the NDP, why should we believe him when he has obviously allowed the direction of his Party to be taken over by unions and out-of-province interests?

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3365

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 Premier committed to provide the people of Judique-Creignish with a decision regarding a five year moratorium on the closure of their school; and

Whereas the Premier on May 5th made the commitment to provide the decision within two weeks; and

Whereas the Premier has broken that commitment to respond in two weeks and the community, now some five weeks later, is still waiting for a decision;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Liberal Government for breaking yet another commitment to one of our Nova Scotia communities and that this government muster whatever energy it has left to provide the community with an answer.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 3366

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

Whereas yesterday the NDP said they are hostile to business; and

[Page 7056]

Whereas their flip-flop on health proves the NDP favour finances and are hostile to long-term sustainability in our health care system; and

Whereas the NDP import paid workers from other provinces, proving they are hostile to Nova Scotia workers;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the NDP explain his hostility to all things Nova Scotian to voters who are asking, why should we trust the NDP who, obviously, do not trust Nova Scotians?

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 3367

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

Whereas the annual spring workshop of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities was held between April 29th and 30th in Stellarton; and

Whereas over 100 municipal delegates were in attendance; and

Whereas the concerns of the UNSM and their delegates deserve the attention of each member of the Nova Scotia Legislature and, in particular, the Liberal Government;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs aggressively work with the UNSM in addressing resolutions, presentations and reports tabled during the annual fall conference and the spring workshop.

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 Pictou East.

[Page 7057]

RESOLUTION NO. 3368

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 Little Harbour Fire Department is now in their 40th year of operation; and

Whereas three years of hard work will culminate Saturday afternoon in Little Harbour as the department celebrates the opening of their newly constructed fire station; and

Whereas Little Harbour Fire Chief Donnie Wadden and his department's 25 members respond to between 25 and 40 alarms annually;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature applaud the initiatives of the Little Harbour Fire Department and wish them ongoing success with all future endeavours.

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 South,

RESOLUTION NO. 3369

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

Whereas Atlantic Business Magazine conducted an extensive public survey in an effort to identify Atlantic Canada's top CEOs; and

Whereas the magazine asked readers to identify those who they felt qualified to carry the distinguished title of top CEO; and

Whereas John L. Bragg, President of Oxford Frozen Foods, was among those named as one of Atlantic Canada's top 50 CEOs;

[Page 7058]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize this distinction and congratulate John Bragg of Oxford Frozen Foods on his success in business and his commitment to his community and Nova Scotia.

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 Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 3370

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 labour dispute at the Rodd's Grand Hotel in Yarmouth is currently in its 56th day; and

Whereas this ongoing strike is taking its toll on the workers, the hotel and indeed, the tourism industry in Yarmouth County; and

Whereas this strike will only be resolved by way of negotiations between the two parties;

Therefore be it resolved that even though this long strike has polarized both parties, they attempt to sit down together to somehow find a negotiated settlement to this ongoing strike.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 7059]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 3371

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

Whereas Make your Day a Museum Day is the slogan for June 12th and 13th; and

Whereas the family of Nova Scotia Museums is celebrating the start of a great summer season; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has a wonderful system of museums; which provide a tremendous variety of material, which represents the variety that is Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly wishes Nova Scotia Museums the best for a successful summer season entertaining and educating Nova Scotians and visitors.

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 Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 3372

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

Whereas yesterday, the NDP member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour proved the NDP are anti-business; and

[Page 7060]

Whereas the NDP dependence on out-of-province cash and paid workers proves the NDP are anti-Nova Scotian; and

Whereas the silence of the Leader of the NDP on the hijacking of the Cape Breton North nomination process by NDP bosses from Halifax proves the NDP are anti-democracy;

Therefore be it resolved that since the Leader of the NDP does not believe in democracy, Nova Scotia workers or Nova Scotia businesses, the taxpayers are asking the question, why should we believe the NDP?

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of the Environment.

RESOLUTION NO. 3373

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

Whereas on Tuesday, socialist MP Svend Robinson introduced a petition in the House of Commons calling for the removal of the reference to God in our nation's Constitution; and

Whereas this MP has been resoundly criticized by all Canadians for such inappropriate behaviour and shameful suggestion; and

Whereas the socialist Leader of the federal NDP merely sent the member to the back benches, where he now joins socialist Cape Breton MPs Michelle Dockrill and Peter Mancini, rather than doing the right thing and expelling him from their Party;

Therefore be it resolved that all Nova Scotians and all honourable members of this House call upon the Nova Scotia socialist Leader of the NDP to publicly declare whether or not he supports his federal socialist cousin, Svend Robinson.

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.

[Page 7061]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I would be happy to let the member for Richmond know that I made that statement . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . very clearly this morning, that in fact the position made by Mr. Robinson does not represent NDP policy federally or provincially.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.

Order, please.

The honourable Minister of the Environment.

RESOLUTION NO. 3374

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

Whereas the socialist member for Halifax Chebucto has suggested that we legalize prostitution, tax it as a means of revenue for the province, and set up red-light districts throughout this province; and

Whereas the socialist member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour yesterday managed to destroy the name and honour of every entrepreneur and business person in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the recent childish and immature behaviour of the socialist Leader of the NDP shows that he cannot control his own inappropriate actions, let alone those of his rogue members;

Therefore be it resolved that the socialist Leader of the Nova Scotia NDP do the right thing and step aside allowing the real leader of the NDP, the socialist member for Sackville-Cobequid, to assume the helm and become the new captain of the ship, HMCS Ship of Fools.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Order, please. Before we commence with the Orders of the Day, Oral Questions Put by Members, are there any introductions?

[Page 7062]

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery there are students from Ms. Fougere's Grade 5 class from Tallahassee Community School in Eastern Passage. They are here with Ms. Beth Fougere, their teacher and parents whom have come along as chaperones, Pat Miles, Jennifer Bowles, Jerry Thompson, and Gina Croft. I would ask them to stand and the House give them their applause and appreciation for coming. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The time being 12:57 p.m., we will terminate Question Period at 1:57 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - CARE: MISTAKES (1993-99) -

RECTIFICATION PLAN

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Health care workers in the Province of Nova Scotia say that the government's arbitrary mergers and amalgamations are a major barrier to quality health care. They also say that government paperwork is putting patient's lives at risk. I want to ask the Premier, will he explain to health care workers in this province what his plan is to fix the mistakes made in the last six years by the Liberal Government?

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, if the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition has been listening he would have heard the Minister of Health say that he has had quite a few meetings with the health care stakeholders and has told them exactly what this government is going to be doing with respect to health care and they agreed completely.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, all we have heard is that this government is going to dump a pile of money in. But Nova Scotians have been telling us, including one community health board, that pouring good money after bad won't solve the big problem . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . which is poor management. So my question to the Premier is this, why will he not admit that the biggest barrier to health care in the Province of Nova Scotia is his government?

[Page 7063]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the NDP completely misses the point. The problem is that every time you restrict spending in health care by balancing the budget, what you cut are new initiatives that you need to make the health care system better. This Health Investment Fund will allow us to develop these new initiatives which will put new systems in place, cut costs in the long term, and save universal health care.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I think of the old adage, building a house on quicksand - the more you put into it the faster it sinks.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: I want to ask the Premier, why should Nova Scotians co-sign a new mortgage to this government when they haven't been able to solve the problems they have created in the past six years?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have been working with the people of Nova Scotia, listening to them and working with the stakeholders to develop a health care program that is going to meet the needs of the future. If, in fact, we don't do this, we are not going to be able to meet the increased demands. We have to level off the increased health care costs so that they are manageable. This plan will do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

FIN. - BUDGET (1999-2000):

ECON. INDICATORS - SCENARIOS PREPARED

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Finance. When the Minister of Finance sits down with his department officials to prepare his budget, will the minister not confirm to this House today that they prepare different scenarios based on different economic indicators?

[1:00 p.m.]

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in fact, the economic modelling that is being done is also reviewed by the Auditor General of the Province of Nova Scotia, and he in turn agrees with the assumptions that are being made with regard to the revenue streams of the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I agree that there are some economic assumptions used. Following the same logic, will the minister table today the plan that the Minister of Health submitted to him whereby cost savings would come to this province by the spending of $600 million so that we can look at the economic indicators used by that department, for you to make that decision?

[Page 7064]

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the reality here is that the Department of Health has been reviewing this, as the Premier has indicated, as the minister has indicated, and consultation has been ongoing for over 50-some meetings over a number of months, developing the plan and going forward with it. I am sure the Minister of Health would be able to and will outline, over the next number of days, exactly where that process has been going. I think the indication here today, the first initiative is the fact of the nurses. You will see more as time goes on.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, yesterday in this House, the Minister of Finance indicated that PricewaterhouseCoopers was given access to that plan. Why can't the people of Nova Scotia, and why can't the members of this House be given the same opportunity to see the same information so that when we make a decision on the budget, we have that information? Why won't you table that plan?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is a health plan. The Minister of Health will be outlining the issues of the plan, and today was one example. I am sure you will see it over the next three days, exactly where we are going with health, so that people will realize the sustainability of that health care system from an economic point of view as one issue, from a social responsibility as another issue. We are developing a plan that will provide good quality health care in the long term in the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

FIN. - BUDGET (1999-2000): BUSINESS COMMUN. - JUSTIFY

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, today, the Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce took out a newspaper ad which, unlike these Liberals, they actually paid for with their own money, to tell Nova Scotians how worried they are about the Liberal budget and the Liberal mortgage fund. I have a question for the Minister of Finance. What can the minister possibly tell the business community to justify his magical budget, perhaps the devil made me do it?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting. Last week, they referred to us as liars, now devils. It is really quite bad when they have to revert to that level of conversation.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DOWNE: I had a meeting with the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. I spoke to the HRM Chamber the other day. The reality here is, I would like to know when you basically have four options, increased taxation, slash and burn, a two-tier system, or fix the system, what is the best business decision to make? We made the right decision by investing in health care so it is sustainable in the long term. Not like the NDP that want to . . .

[Page 7065]

MR. SPEAKER: The member for Halifax Chebucto, your first supplementary.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, just the other day, Fred McMahon, of the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies, referred to this budget as an ongoing act of lunacy. Today, Ernest Cadegan, in the Daily News, called the budget a farce, and another columnist called it a travesty.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. EPSTEIN: My question to the Minister of Finance is this, if the government's friends are calling his budget lunacy, a farce and a travesty, what does he think other Nova Scotians are calling it? (Interruptions)

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I don't wonder what Nova Scotians have said, over 70 per cent of Nova Scotians have said they are concerned about health care, they want re-investment in health care, and Nova Scotians have said very clearly they are prepared to be part of that solution. That is what this government is doing, unlike the NDP that doesn't want to spend a cent on health care.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, even though he doesn't like it, the hard fact is Nova Scotians just plain don't trust this government to deliver the goods . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. EPSTEIN: . . . piling up debt to levels seen only in the Buchanan years. My question for the Minister of Finance is, why should Nova Scotians trust this government with even one single penny of their money?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia will ultimately decide at the end of the day who they want to trust. Do they want to trust the New Democratic socialist government that condemns business in the Province of Nova Scotia? Do they want to support a Party that says that they want to increase taxation to the people of Nova Scotia? Do they want to have a Party that says they want to slash and burn the health care?

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

SYSCO - HOOGOVENS: MGT. FEE - CONFIRM

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. Is that minister prepared to stand by his statement that Hoogovens is being paid $750,000 a month to manage Sysco?

[Page 7066]

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I didn't catch the first part of the question, but I think he is asking me to substantiate what they are being paid. Hoogovens are managing the Sydney steel plant, totally. There is no other management there but Hoogovens and they are being paid a management fee to operate the plant. I have explained that before. It is a matter of public record.

MR. BALSER: Since he has confirmed that, will the minister table the payment agreement so that we can see it?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, again let me refer to statements that I made earlier on this matter, that I have invited people - stakeholders, the Economic Development Committee, the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Leader of the Third Party - to come to Sydney to tour the plant and to have a session with Hoogovens to discuss their role at Sydney Steel.

MR. BALSER: Through you, Mr. Speaker, thank you for the invitation and we will take advantage of that, but that is not what we asked for. What we asked for is simply for you to table the payment agreement so that the people of Nova Scotia can see what it is that you are hiding from them.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the information that the honourable member requests is information that, to a certain extent, is proprietary. We have said that before, but in the case of that member opposite, who is fast becoming another expert on steel, I would suggest that he and his Party members and his Leader come to Sydney and tour the plant and ask Hoogovens that question.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

FIN. - BUDGET (1999-2000): BALANCED - CONFIRM

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, again, to the Minister of Finance. Mr. Minister, here is another one. Columnist Don Cayo calls this budget a shameful charade. You know the problem? It's that this Liberal Government has no credibility. Not on managing health care, not on managing the province's finances. No credibility. Will the minister tell us please, does he still claim that his budget is balanced?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, we indicated before in this House that we brought this province from having a deficit virtually everywhere to the point where we balanced the current account. The auditor of the Province of Nova Scotia agreed. Secondly, we raised the bar, and we balanced the operating and current capital of the Province of Nova Scotia. We raised the bar, the auditor agreed that it was a balanced budget and it had a surplus.

[Page 7067]

Mr. Speaker, they talk a great story, but the reality is that we have been able to perform and do the job for Nova Scotia.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the minister had a different answer in the Red Room on the day of the Budget Address. That answer was a simple no, the budget is not balanced. Will the minister finally break down and confess that his budgets for the previous three years weren't balanced either?

MR. DOWNE: It is unbelievable, Mr. Speaker. Why don't you go back to the auditors of the Province of Nova Scotia, the same auditors that we have had for this province, they are the ones that are saying it is balanced, they are the ones who confirmed the numbers. Now, this member opposite is now challenging auditors. He challenges doctors; he challenges nurses; he challenges everybody in society. It is only his way or no way. His way or nobody's way.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my final question is for the Premier. If the Premier has ever wondered why his government has no credibility, a big part of the answer is sitting right beside him.

What I want to know is, will the Premier tell his Minister of Finance to withdraw this budget, go back, try again, or does the Premier continue to support a budget that his own friends are calling a charade, a farce, a travesty?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I want the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto to tell - having alleged that people were dying in the health care system in Nova Scotia - I want him to tell people who are sick today, it is too bad you were not sick in 10 years' time because then we would have had the infrastructure in place to save you. Tell them that.

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

SYSCO - HOOGOVENS:

MGT. EMPLOYEES (ON-SITE) - ENUMERATE

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, would the minister tell the House how many employees Hoogovens, the Dutch firm, has on-site for Sysco to manage that company?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I do not micro-manage the Sydney steel plant, contrary to some opinions, but the management team at Sysco, I understand there are approximately 30 people from Hoogovens on the plant at the present time, but it varies from day to day, from week to week. They also have people working in virtually every country of the world on sales and marketing.

[Page 7068]

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, there are approximately 30. I agree with that. At a fee of $750,000 per month, will the minister confirm that that works out to be approximately $25,000 for each employee of Hoogovens that is working there - $25,000 a month?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thought that member was smarter than that. Does he honestly think that the total amount we are paying - first of all, I did not say the amount here today, he did. Secondly, does he realize that there are any other costs except salaries? There are people working on trying to sell that plant and it is statements like this constantly in the House that are impeding that progress.

MR. BALSER: Once again, will the minister table the payment schedule so that we can see that they are, in fact, getting their money's-worth? Taxpayers want to know what they are paying $750,000 each month for; table the plan.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there are only two people in the Province of Nova Scotia asking me that - the Leader of the Third Party and that member.

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

NAT. RES. - NSRL: DEBT INCREASE - ASSET DEFINE

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Natural Resources, who said something rather incredible yesterday. He referred to a $700 million debt as an asset. So I want to ask the Minister of Natural Resources, why he describes NSRL and its $700 million debt that is rapidly growing and will reach $1.4 billion as an asset?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I think what I said was that NSRL was an asset to Nova Scotia and we cannot have NSRL without the debt. The honourable member should know that. If he would only wait for a week - maybe less than a week, maybe a little more than a week - he will see the financial audited statement. I do not know what he is in such a rush for.

MR. HOLM: We have had six years without answers so what is the rush? What is another few weeks? Yes. The minister, yesterday, said that NSRL would peak at $40 million to $50 million a year in terms of the benefit from Sable and that, Mr. Speaker, should pay for about half of the interest on the debt that NSRL will have by the time we start to get that. My question to the minister is simply this, why have you not come up with a realistic plan that will meet the daunting reality of the NSRL debt which is a debt of all Nova Scotians.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, he has finally got something right. It is the debt of all Nova Scotians but, as I keep repeating every time I get on my feet, the audited statement will be available soon. The honourable member can look at it and then we will confirm or deny the accusations in terms of numbers that he is throwing across the House.

[Page 7069]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, of course, we all know that NSRL's debt is on top of the $10 billion that the Minister of Finance is trying to inflict on the people of the province.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please. This is your final supplementary.

MR. HOLM: My question is, why is the minister putting the politics of the Liberal Party ahead of the interests of Nova Scotians by hiding the 25 year revenue and debt projections for NSRL?

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. MACASKILL: Again, Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, he may or he may not be close on his numbers, I am not sure, but the honourable member will see when the report is tabled in this House, soon I hope, so that we can further discuss it. If he has other questions he wants to raise during the estimates, he is free to do that, but at this point in time, I cannot confirm or deny the statements he is making today.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DEVCO: COAL LEASES - RETAIN (GOV'T. [N.S.])

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question to the Premier. Today we learned that the federal Minister of Natural Resources has hired Nesbitt Burns to broker the sale of Devco assets. You may recall that once upon a time this Premier said, that Nova Scotia owns Devco's coal leases and he won't transfer them without a better deal. I want to ask the Premier, why hasn't he made it clear to Ottawa that there will be no transfer, no sale, until Nova Scotia gets a better deal?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there is no transfer of leases until Nova Scotia gets a better deal. There is also, however, the rolling stock and other assets over which we have no control but which this government says the receipts for which belong to the miners and the workers of Nova Scotia, not to the federal government.

MR. CHISHOLM: So, Mr. Speaker, what the Premier seems to be saying is, we are going to sell everything out from underneath the workers but then we are going to keep control of it. I want to ask the Premier, why is it that Ralph Goodale has the impression that he can forge ahead with the Devco sale without access to our coal leases? Why hasn't he made it clear, or once again is Ottawa not listening to the Premier?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think it should be apparent even to the Leader of the Opposition that the federal government wants out of the coal mining industry in Cape Breton. No one is going to stop them from doing that, but this province takes great exception to any

[Page 7070]

assets being sold without the receipts of those assets being given back to the workers of Devco.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, Devco is being sold out from underneath the workers in Cape Breton, from underneath Nova Scotians. I want to ask the Premier, will he make a clear statement in this House, right now, telling Ralph Goodale that this sale will not continue until Nova Scotia gets a better deal on what they are planning to do.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I thought I made it clear to the honourable Leader of the Opposition today and many times that the leases will not be transferred until there is a better deal for the workers of Devco.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

EDUC. - HORTON HS (KINGS CO.):

LEASE PAYMENT - ENROLMENT BASIS

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Education, I was wondering if the Minister of Education would confirm that the Horton lease payment is based on 1,100 students?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I don't have those numbers here with me this afternoon but I can certainly provide the honourable member at a future time with confirmation on whether or not those are the exact numbers.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the minister, I am kind of shocked that the minister wouldn't know that the lease arrangements are based on a per student basis, but given that 180 students less than what was projected, that Horton school was built for, are not in attendance this year, Mr. Minister, how much is the Province of Nova Scotia overpaying for that underutilization on a per student basis?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member again, as I have indicated earlier, the honourable member made reference to 1,100 students. I indicated to the honourable member that I did not know whether or not that was the number that was in the lease. I did indicate to the honourable member that I would certainly look into it and provide him with an answer at a later time. However, to the honourable member, and to all members of the House, all the leases that have been signed are available for the public, are on our web page. As we have said, the whole process is transparent right across the system. That information is available to all Nova Scotians.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the minister again, I wonder when he gets those figures if he would confirm that that is costing the taxpayers of Nova Scotia approximately $0.5 million a year on underutilization on those lease payments? Will the minister confirm today

[Page 7071]

that he is willing to pay $500,000 of the education budget on a lease for a school that is not being filled, to a private developer?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that just recently I had the opportunity to visit the Horton High School and I was talking with the principal at the time. The principal indicated to me that with the current student population attending that school, he is predicting those numbers will certainly be increased come this September.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - HEPATITIS C: COMPENSATION PACKAGE - STATUS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. The final draft of the intergovernmental agreement on hepatitis C compensation gives victims of Canada's tainted blood supply few choices. Unbelievably, it actually forces them to pay for their own compensation. I would like to table this agreement. I want to ask the minister, has Nova Scotia supported and signed this unfair agreement?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there is an agreement that will be before the courts addressing the issues of class actions in two provinces in Canada. Nova Scotia has agreed to work within that framework and we have supported that initiative and remain a player on the national scene.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this agreement forces people infected with hepatitis C to choose between income replacement or home care services. This is both unfair and immoral. Why hasn't this government acted to ensure that people infected through our blood system don't have to choose between having an income and having the care they require?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the matter is before the courts and whether that will be discharged, then there will be arrangements made with the stakeholders and those people affected who are represented through groups. In addition to that there will be programs at the provincial level that will address those particular initiatives.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this agreement will have some groups compensated at the expense of other groups and this in unacceptable. What possible justification can this minister have for supporting this non-compensation package?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, provinces across Canada are supporting this particular initiative. This is a matter that is before the courts. There will be further negotiations, programs and research, and it is comprehensive. That honourable member is making it look like this is a narrow initiative. This is a broad initiative and is supported by provinces

[Page 7072]

throughout Canada and the federal government. We have always been team players on that initiative.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.:

SECONDARY ROADS - CONSTITUENCIES (PC)

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The document that the minister tabled today in the Legislature clearly confirms that since he has become minister not one Tory riding has received any new pavement on our secondary roads. Why did the minister and his fabricators say otherwise yesterday?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, there are several contracts that have been called in the Progressive Conservative Party ridings. For example, the honourable member said there were absolutely no tender calls since I became minister. In 1998, there was 16 tender calls in your ridings and there have been 10 in 1999.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, you know otherwise. But the document today indicates that one Tory riding might, if the tender is called, eventually see 1.5 kilometres of new pavement go down on a secondary road. Could I ask the minister when that tender is going to be called?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I am trying to explain to the honourable member that we have a very fair system in the Province of Nova Scotia for selecting what roads are to be paved. We have priority lists and we will follow that to the letter of the law.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HUSKILSON: I know he doesn't want to hear the good news. I remember when my colleague, the Honourable Richie Mann used to sit here and debate with this group. At that time they used to have a red file system, a blue file system and an orange file system .We don't have that.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am getting lots of help over here. The minister didn't tell the House or Nova Scotians when he is going to call that one tender for 1.5 kilometres in a Tory riding. I guess what I would say to the minister is simply this, when is he going to

[Page 7073]

disengage from pavement politics and start calling projects that are truly based on need, province-wide, and treat all ridings equally?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, that is what I have been trying to explain to him now for some time. Paving is done on a priority list in the Province of Nova Scotia and we will stick to that. That is the best way of paving in the Province of Nova Scotia, looking after the priorities.

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

JUSTICE - FAMILY COURT:

ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS - MEDIATION

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Justice. The Department of Justice has developed principles for the unified Family Court which state that mediation is not appropriate where there has been an abusive relationship. But Justice officials are encouraging women leaving abusive situations to enter mediation. My question is, why is the Minister of Justice pushing mediation on women leaving abusive relationships?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, at least two years of work by all of the stakeholders from the judiciary through to those who work in our courthouses, have gone into the foundation for implementing a successful change to the Family Division of the Supreme Court from the Family Court of Nova Scotia. I can assure the honourable member that service delivery to families in crisis will be handled appropriately.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, the first few months have not been very encouraging. The minister assured the Status of Women, transition houses and the public that a screening protocol would be introduced to ensure mediation is not offered to victims of spousal assault. My question to the Minister of Justice is, why has a fully developed screening protocol not been developed by his department?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the very groups he described sit on the framework, the implementation planning team that, in fact, sets up the foundation for this move to a unified Family Court. The issue has to do with supplying families in crisis with the most appropriate service level and the protocols are being followed.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I hope the Minister of Justice is not saying it is the fault of those groups for not having a screening protocol. The department has no training guide, no policy manual and the protocol is only in the draft stages. My question is, how many women will end up being victimized as a result of this mediation process before you develop a screening protocol?

[Page 7074]

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the honourable critic for the New Democratic Party is once again creating fiction out of non-fiction. The reality is that the real story is one of the most successful implementation teams in the country will ensure families in crisis get the service they need through single service justice centres in the Family Division of the Supreme Court here in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

FISH. - ILLEGAL FISHING (SW N.S.):

REPRESENTATIONS (GOV'T. [N.S.]) - REPORT

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Fisheries. In southwestern Nova Scotia, the most lucrative lobster fishing grounds in all of Canada, the season closed on May 31st. The illegal harvesting of lobster has already commenced and the issues related to the Native fishery have also been ongoing with no rules, no definition of what a food fisher is, no definition of how many traps can be allowed, and no definition who can partake in a Native fishery. Can the minister report to the House today as to what representations he has made to the federal government with regard to these issues and what he has been told?

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, this is a very important question to the lobster enforcement activity we presently have going on in southwestern Nova Scotia and all over the province. The issue of Native fishing and the number of traps that they are supposed to use or not supposed to use is still under negotiation with the federal government and the Native community. Presently, it is supposed to be at six traps, but there have been problems run into with that and we hope that that will be resolved shortly because it is a serious problem and it is creating a lot of illegal activity that really cannot be tolerated.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I know it is complicated. Our caucus asked this minister and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in Ottawa last summer, with 10 or 11 months lead time, to develop these very rules that he is saying today have not been finalized. Where were you for the last 11 months in regard to representing fishermen from southwestern Nova Scotia and, indeed, all of Nova Scotia in regard to the representations to Ottawa? Where were you?

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member well knows, we have been taking very proactive efforts in enforcement of illegal lobster fishing. We passed a law just recently which was (Interruptions) If they are not interested in hearing my answer, that is fine.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 7075]

MR. COLWELL: We just passed a law that was proclaimed just 24 hours after it was passed in this Legislature which, I believe, is precedent-setting, that is now in place, with stricter enforcement and stricter penalties than there have ever been before in the Province of Nova Scotia. We even have other enforcement agencies coming to join us in the effort.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I will try to be very basic. You control a small part of the picture. The big picture is in Ottawa and DFO. We have been asking you, as Minister of Fisheries, as to what you will do in representing the fishermen's interests and getting clear rules in Ottawa. What are you going to do today?

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member hasn't got the message. We have been doing everything we possibly can to stop this illegal activity. We have been actively lobbying Ottawa to change their Native rules and regulations. However, there are some court cases that are pending that are holding the whole process up. Until those are settled we cannot move forward, or DFO cannot move forward with a positive long-term solution.

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

LBR. - PUB. WKS. PROJECTS:

FAIR WAGE SCHEDULES - REVAMP

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Labour. Nova Scotians' fair wages schedules have not been changed since the 1970's. Your federal counterpart wants to revamp these schedules as they apply to federal public works projects in Nova Scotia. Will the minister advise this House if he approves of his federal counterpart's initiatives?

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, last year I had the occasion to meet with my federal counterpart on this particular issue as well as a number of other initiatives. My federal counterpart at that particular point in time indicated that he was in the process of receiving his report. I understand he has received his report. Subsequent to that he was transferred on to another department and my colleague from New Brunswick, my federal counterpart, has indicated that she will be making an announcement in the near future and we will be reviewing the contents of that.

MR. CORBETT: I understand his federal counterpart has in the last few weeks contacted stakeholders about revamping the fair wage schedules for the construction industries. They seem like they are doing something, Mr. Speaker. Would the minister advise this House why he has been so silent on the issue now a quarter of a century old?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is, the record will show quite clearly, that I have been meeting with labour groups across this province on this very issue on numerous occasions; as recently as last week, is the latest time-frame. I also discussed it

[Page 7076]

with the Construction Industry Association of Nova Scotia and there are many issues that have to be considered on this because of both the economic and the social consequences on both sides of the issue.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is to the Premier then, since the minister did not answer the question. Mr. Premier, you made promises in the last election to look at the fair wage issue. Your minister's vendetta against the construction workers in Cape Breton has nullified any credibility in this area.

MR. SPEAKER: You are on your final supplementary. Question, please.

MR. CORBETT: Will you undertake to this House to do all in your power to get the stakeholders together on the fair wage issue today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer that question to the Minister of Labour.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I believe that the record will show quite clearly that I have an excellent working relationship with many labour groups across this province as well as industry. That is why as recently as a week ago I met with six senior labour leaders in this province to discuss this and a number of other related issues. Unfortunately, these labour leaders do not always consult with the NDP.

MR. SPEAKER: Next question.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

NAT. RES. - FORESTRY TECHNICIAN:

CLASSIFICATION APPEAL - STATUS

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Natural Resources. Through you to the minister, is the minister aware that a forestry technician, on behalf of some 50 fellow enforcement officers across Nova Scotia, filed a classification appeal almost two years ago? Are you aware of that, Mr. Minister?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I am aware of such a case, but to offer the honourable member any results on it today, I would have to take it under advisement and get him the status of it as of this date.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister, is the minister prepared to ensure that enforcement officers will be treated with the same fairness and respect that enforcement officers with the Department of the Environment are treated, and have them reclassified to Inspector 3 levels?

[Page 7077]

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable (Laughter) (Interruptions) Can you tell me what the joke is? (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: I started off calling for the Minister of Economic Development. Go ahead.

The Minister of Natural Resources, the question is actually directed to you.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that we have a great deal of respect for enforcement officers. We believe they are doing a terrific job for the department. I know there is a lot of strain on our enforcement officers at the present time. I would like to believe, and let all Nova Scotians believe, we will treat them fairly.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister. That really wasn't the question. (Interruptions) I wasn't aware of the joke either, Mr. Minister. A result, this appeal is long overdue. Will the minister look into this concern and assure a speedy resolve?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that I will look into this and give it a fair assessment.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS:

OFFSHORE RIGHTS DECISION MAKING - FISHERS INCLUSION

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate. Fishing is a billion dollar industry in Nova Scotia and seafood is its largest export. Why then aren't fishers being included in the decision-making process about what areas are open to offshore exploration and drilling?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is a good question, and it is one that is certainly of interest and concern to both the fishing industry in this province and the offshore industry in this province. As you know, the Canada-Nova Scotia board has put up some leases for auction throughout the province for exploration rights, and before any activity can happen in those particular areas that have been designated so far, an extensive period of consultation will be undertaken, including some environmental assessments.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, Corridor Resources Incorporated has been awarded a 4,080 hectare site off western Cape Breton which fishers have asked the federal and provincial governments to veto. My question to the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate is, why would his department jeopardize prime lobster, hake and snow crab spawning grounds before the fishers who depend on these resources had been consulted?

[Page 7078]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we are not jeopardizing anything. What we are saying to people in the fishing industry is that while the different areas have been auctioned, before any requests for seismic testing can be entertained, there has to be a permit issued for that. Once the Canada-Nova Scotia board is assured that all the environmental assessments have been done and then after that, if they get as far as getting seismic testing done, they then have to apply for another permit for drilling.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is to the Premier. Fishers are worried that exploration and drilling are inevitable. What assurance will he give this House that his government will develop a mechanism to include fishers as a part of the discussion before any further offshore exploration sites are leased?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, just following up with what the honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism has said, that there has to be permission given before seismic and before drilling takes place. That allows for adequate opportunity to have negotiations with the people who are involved in the fishing industry in that location.

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

ALC. & GAMING AUTH. - CASINOS:

GAMBLING ADDICTS - POLICING RESPONSIBILITY

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the minister responsible for the alcohol and gaming commission. The voluntary exclusion program is one of the programs that this government touts as being a responsible gaming initiative. Under this program, gambling addicts who self-identify to casino security are supposed to be banned from future entry to the casino. My question to the minister, who is responsible for policing individuals under this program?

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, there is no such thing as the alcohol and gaming commission in the Province of Nova Scotia, it is the Alcohol and Gaming Authority that I look after and the honourable Minister of Finance looks after the other section of the gambling Act.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I guess making the Sheraton - and that's my understanding since the minister doesn't know - responsible for policing problem gamblers is like holding 12-step meetings at taverns, it just doesn't work. My question to the same minister, when will the government start putting money into responsible gaming initiatives that work?

[Page 7079]

MR. COLWELL: The honourable member is probably asking the wrong minister but I will try to give an answer as to exactly what my department is supposed to do in my section. Our section is to police the actual activity of operating the machines and to license the machines and the casinos. Nothing more, nothing less.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Well, I am still going to continue to ask this minister, will he ensure that a monitoring system is instituted for this program? Because my understanding is that it is his responsibility, Mr. Speaker.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member opposite that we have no intention of encouraging anybody to gamble in the Province of Nova Scotia. We are going to try to take every possible step we can within the laws we have to work with to ensure that people that shouldn't have access don't have access to gamble in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

HEALTH - NURSES: FULL TIME-CASUAL - COSTS STANCE (MIN.)

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health stood in this House on a number of occasions and indicated that he felt that the practice of making full-time nursing positions casuals was, in fact, increasing health care costs in the province and that there was no real savings. I wanted to ask the minister whether he still agrees with the position he took?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that I understood the question. I felt that the use of casual nurses in the place of full-time equivalents was not conducive to good patient care or morale for the nursing people and I think, in the long run, probably was not saving money. But more importantly it was a negative impact on the nursing profession. If that is what I understood the honourable member to say, then I would agree with that.

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. BAKER: I recall when the minister indicated that he didn't feel that in the long run having casual nurses was cost effective. That being the case, my question to the minister is, why in his budget does it reflect a huge cost to convert 200 nursing positions from part time or casual to full time?

DR. SMITH: The cost is involved, there are some benefit costs obviously. That is why industry has employed part-time people without benefits. There are costs incurred, but it is also partly a recruitment, retraining and retention program, it is an inclusive program.

[Page 7080]

MR. BAKER: I think that the answers are contradictory but, in any event, my final question to the minister is very simple. What is the minister going to do to ensure that nurses in this province are attracted to the long-term care sector as well as to the acute care sector? There seems to be no plan in this province to ensure that the long-term care sector, which is having problems attracting nurses, has an adequate number of nurses.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think this is a valid point. The Health Investment Fund is a transition fund to provide stabilization in the acute care sector. That is the sector that we have to stabilize first. I am sure the action plan that I have announced today, the action team, will address the long-term care. The Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations is represented there through Mrs. Anne McGuire and the organization itself will also be a support to that committee. We are working hand in hand with the long-term care sector, because that is where the ultimate savings will be and there will be better patient care.

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

FIN. - GAMING CORP.: LOTTERY (N.S.) - HQ LOCATION

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister at this time responsible for the Gaming Corporation. The Gaming Corporation is forging ahead with plans to create the provincial lottery. Recently, corporation officials indicated that the site for the lottery headquarters will soon be announced. My question is, what steps has this minister taken to ensure that these headquarters go to an economically disadvantaged area of this province, an area like industrial Cape Breton?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: I thought she might also make reference to some other areas of this province that have economic problems as well. I assume that she is not parochial enough not to realize the whole province is not without need. What we can say is that we are analyzing it, we are looking at it from a cost point of view, and from an economic point of view, and from the concern with regard to the unemployment situations in different parts of this province.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I didn't hear all of the minister's answer, but I am sure he reassured me that Cape Breton is on the top of the list. I am concerned about the province's plan to offer some of the high-paying lottery jobs, the senior management ones to people from outside the province. My question, will this minister try to arrange that some of the most qualified Nova Scotians receive the training required for them to fill these high-paying positions?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, what I can tell the member opposite is all qualified Nova Scotians are first and foremost, in the view of this administration, the people that we want to have work and operate the lottery in the Province of Nova Scotia. If we have qualified people

[Page 7081]

in this province, which I believe we do in many capacities, then that is exactly who we want to hire, Nova Scotians.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that is encouraging to hear, because it is not what the Gaming Corporation is saying. The start-up cost for the province's new lottery is almost $18 million. I would like to ask the minister if he would please table the studies and the reports he has to prove that this debt will be paid in five years, as the government claims?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the vice-chair of the Gaming Corporation, in fact, had a press release and a press conference with the media, and all those interested, providing all data with regard to how that operation would be run, the cost benefits and everything else that is tied into it. That information is available through the Gaming Corporation and all she simply has to do is phone the Gaming Corporation to find out what the issues are.

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

SYSCO - SALE: RESPONSIBILITY - COMPANY NAME

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. I am a little bit unclear in light of his previous answer to a question. Who is charged with selling Sysco, is it Hoogovens or is it ABN Amro?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, ABN Amro.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, through you again to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. How much over and above the $750,000 are we paying ABN Amro to sell Sysco?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that honourable member opposite obviously doesn't read the papers or doesn't keep up to date with what is going on. That was explained publicly by myself and the Premier a couple of weeks ago. He keeps using the figure of $750,000; I would remind you that that is his figure, not mine.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary will be to the Premier. Mr. Premier, how can you justify putting $44 million into an industry that doesn't seem to have a future and at the same time ask taxpayers to borrow $600 million to prop up health care? How can you justify that?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the steel industry has a future, it is worldwide. The question that I would think the honourable member would want to pose is, does this plant have a viable future economically? The fact of the matter is, in Cape Breton, we have a very serious unemployment situation, a very serious economic problem. We have to be absolutely assured in our own minds that the Sydney Steel Corporation is not part of what we need to

[Page 7082]

do economically to revitalize the area. When you are looking at new industry, here is an industry that employs 700 people. Can we say that this isn't viable and isn't part of the future economic picture in Cape Breton without giving it a fair chance?

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

NAT. RES.: COASTAL PROP. - SALES (HECTARES - 1999)

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. It is time for the minister to wake up to the fact that our greatest natural resource, our coastal properties and our islands, are being sold from under our very feet. I want to table an Internet ad from an outfit called Private Dream Estates, advertising our coastal properties. My question to the minister is, can he tell me how many hectares of coastal property have been sold so far this year?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I can't give the honourable member that information today, but I can assure him I will have it for him within the next 24 hours.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I will take him up on that because sometimes I can get better answers from that portrait of the Attorney General William Johntson than I can from this minister.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I have tabled in that material an attractive ad featuring one of the largest islands in Nova Scotia, Liscomb Island.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Your question.

MR. ESTABROOKS: My question to the minister is, can he explain why the only law currently on the books to protect our coastal properties is not even being enforced?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I can agree with the honourable member where he gets his information because he is right on. If the honourable member was that interested in getting information on what land has been sold to whom, why didn't he go to the municipality, to the regional office? He will get that information. I can't stand here today and tell the people of Nova Scotia who they should sell their land to. I can't define for the member what he refers to as an out-of-province person; is it somebody who left here 40 years ago and wants to come back to retire in this province. All these questions will have to be answered before we can get to the bottom of what that member is asking.

[Page 7083]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, when I recently introduced a private member's bill on this issue, the Premier said that we don't want to scare off international buyers. My question to the minister is since the minister's own statements on this issue are being undercut by the Premier, why should concerned Nova Scotians believe anything that this government has to say about coastal properties and sales throughout the world . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, we will look into it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill, you have one and one-half minutes.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - MAC TIMBER: SALE - DELAY

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. Mr. Minister, yesterday I asked you a question about the Mac Timber sale; you said it was pending. Would you be kind enough to tell the House what the problems are holding up the final sale of those assets?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I stated yesterday, this is a matter of great concern to the member's riding and to that area of Nova Scotia and, indeed, to all Nova Scotians. I can tell you that we are actively trying to wind this up to the benefit of the people of that area and to the benefit of all those who have an interest in Mac Timber.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister, what was the sale price agreed to for those assets?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, again, let me refer to previous comments that I have made in this House. I do not negotiate or talk about those while these deals are still ongoing. This one is still very active.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, to the minister, my understanding was that basically a price had been agreed to on this sale but there were a couple of glitches. That is what I was trying to find out about in addition to the sale price. I didn't think that was under negotiation.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. MUIR: My final question is, when will the businesses that have taken the brunt, the small unsecured businesses in Colchester and Pictou Counties, when are they going to find out how much they will realize from the sale of those assets?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that is still under discussion.

[Page 7084]

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

The honourable Minister of Education on an introduction.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, to you and through you to all members of the House, I would like to introduce two special guests joining us here this afternoon: the President of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, Marg Forbes; and the Executive Director of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, Frank Barteaux. I would ask both of our guests to rise and receive the usual welcome of the House. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to stand to speak for a few minutes this afternoon. In this House we once upon a time had a tradition that we valued very much, and that was that we would have a Throne Speech and the government, of course, would, at that time, lay out its plan. It also afforded members of this Chamber with the opportunity stand up and talk not only about their critic area, but also to bring forward the greetings of their constituents to you, Mr. Speaker, and members of this House and to bring forward to the attention of all members issues and concerns within the constituency, as well as new developments within the constituency.

Unfortunately, the MacLellan Government has followed the bad example of the Cameron Regime and that tradition has gone by the wayside so, Mr. Speaker, I am going to use the time that is allotted to us going into Supply to bring forward to you and all members the greetings of the good people of Sackville and to also talk about a few of the developments going on within that community.

[Page 7085]

Mr. Speaker, Sackville is, indeed, a very dynamic and rapidly growing community. It is a community, as well, that is celebrating an important milestone in that this year will mark the 250th birthday of the founding of Sackville. As it is a very rapidly growing community and one that is very dynamic, it has many needs, it has many challenges, but fortunately, it has living within it a population that I would suggest is second to none. The greatest strength of the Community of Sackville is its people.

[2:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon I want to talk about a few of the accomplishments, a few other needs, but also a few of the accomplishments, and pay some tribute to residents and organizations within the community who have worked, and continue to work so tirelessly on behalf of the community not only to provide better services, but also to ensure that governments of all levels hear what our needs are and work to make sure that those needed facilities and resources come to fruition.

Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I was pleased this afternoon to have an opportunity to introduce a resolution and get the unanimous consent of this House to congratulate Calais Branch 162 of the Royal Canadian Legion. The Legion in Sackville and the Legion members have, since the Calais branch was first founded, worked tirelessly, not only for internal club matters, but they have been extremely supportive of the community as a whole and especially for the youth within our community. They not only make their facility available, but they also raise monies that they then donate to other important and worthwhile ventures.

Mr. Speaker, this coming Saturday the Legion will be presenting a van to the Boys and Girls Club of Sackville, so that that club will be better able to meet the needs and continue to provide the services for the young people that they do.

Mr. Speaker, probably the most enjoyable event that I have the honour to attend each and every year is actually held in that Legion. It is sponsored by another volunteer organization to which the community owes a great deal, and I am referring to Lake District Recreation Association. Lake District Recreation Association hosts a volunteer appreciation night, and what they do is they hold this evening and all volunteer organizations, whether that be an organization that deals with children, the Scout movement or the Girl Guide movement, ball teams and other recreational teams, whether it be organizations that deal with seniors, environmental groups like the Sackville Rivers Association, heritage groups, church groups, it gives those organizations an opportunity to stand up and to publicly acknowledge and give thanks to one of their members who they, from amongst themselves, select to be the volunteer of the year.

It is extremely humbling to go to that function and hear of all the good work, the dedication, the commitments and sacrifices being made by those volunteers on behalf of the greater community. Mr. Speaker, that is probably the most enjoyable event that I attend in

[Page 7086]

the entire year because of what it represents, bringing all of these people and the communities together. This year Carolyn Harvey was recognized and received the award as the Community Volunteer of the Year, a well-deserved honour, and she has joined a very select group of very special people who are working tirelessly to make our Community of Sackville a better place to live and to bring up their families.

Mr. Speaker, there are many other things that are going on and have gone on within the community. I mentioned Lake District Recreation before, and certainly Lake District Recreation and other groups have been instrumental in developing many of the important facilities within the community. Lake District Recreation has a plan to expand the Sackville Sports Stadium facility which they and others, under their direction, were the driving force to get the facility developed in the first place. We have - and I was pleased to be able to be of some assistance - I believe, gotten the land transferred from the province to HRM so that that expansion can take place. I thank the now Minister of Education because it was his department in a former portfolio that I had some dealings with; good minister on that occasion for that event and on another.

Mr. Speaker, when it is able to be expanded and the tie-ups right now, hopefully, will be sorted out very quickly, that facility will meet another identified need that the community themselves, through surveys and so on, have identified. We also saw improvements to the Metropolitan Field, and those who were able to be out for the opening of the Capital Region Special Olympics would have seen the improvements on the Metropolitan Field in Sackville.

There are additional things that are needed in that area, such as accessible washrooms and additional washrooms, certainly that would be most appropriate when we are holding Special Olympics events and other events. There are other things that have to be worked on, but all of those who have worked on both of those projects deserve to be recognized and thanked for their efforts.

Certainly something that is very close to my heart is the Second Lake lands and the Second Lake Regional Park Association. I had the honour of being the representative of the community from 1984 onward. In 1986, on the floor of this House, I first raised that the Second Lake area would be an ideal location for the province to honour a commitment they made when they took the designation off the Sandy Lake-Jack Lake area, and that was to develop a park.

For many, it seemed like an extremely long battle, but every day that those lands were not sold and every day that a road was not put through those lands, that was a victory for the community, because the community had spoken very loudly and very clearly that they wanted those lands to be designated so that the community can work with the Department of Natural Resources and with others to develop a passive recreation park that will be there, not just for the benefit of people who are around today but for generations and generations to come.

[Page 7087]

We certainly were very pleased to see that the efforts of all of those who have worked on this have come to fruition and that the government has agreed to transfer the 665 acres from the Department of Housing to the Department of Natural Resources and held for a park reserve. Also I am pleased that the Minister of Housing, and I will say this to him, responded very quickly to my request that some additional lands that had been left out of that, that the Minister of Housing has agreed that those lands will also be made available, and he put that in writing to me.

That was the area's three parcels of land on the other side of the lake, also owned by the department but for which the department currently has no plans. When the quieting of title is done on that one piece of land, as a community is developing the development plan in consultation with the Department of Natural Resources, I look forward to those lands being made available.

Certainly, the Sackville Rivers Association continues to do great work to restore the Sackville Rivers, both the Sackville River and the Little Sackville River. Last year, it was a pleasure to be at the official opening and cutting of the ribbon for the fish ladder that was opened on that river, which has made it possible for the salmon to more easily get up the river. Largely through the efforts of the Sackville Rivers Association, the health of that river is being restored, and the salmon are able to return.

There are many other things that are going on. Certainly, Heritage Park is being improved. The Sackville Community Development Association is working very hard, trying to pull together many of the organizations and coordinate many things, including the Canada Day celebrations on our 250th anniversary celebrations. Certainly, they have been working and trying to beautify Heritage Park and to have the ugly fences that the Department of Transportation had around parts of it taken down so that rose bushes could be planted to beautify the entrance to the community.

The walkway. The trails group are working diligently to develop new trails that will be going along the Sackville River and actually in time will be linking together the lands around First Lake and Second Lake with the river's trails and actually with trails that will be running up through the Jack Lake-Sandy Lake area as well. There are those many things that are going on plus there are many others as well, but I cannot get into them all.

There are some other issues, Mr. Speaker, that, because of the changing nature and the growth of the community, still remain outstanding. Sackville is a changing community. It still has very many young families with young children whose primary concern is education and services for children, but we also have an aging population because it is a community that has been growing and many of the people moved to the community in the late 1960's and 1970's and are moving into the age when they are looking towards retirement. Certainly the number of seniors is growing.

[Page 7088]

We have already an identified need within the community for long-term care beds. The Minister of Health had promised, and the government in their last Speech from the Throne, that they were going to be delivering 170 long-term care beds in the province. The community of Sackville has zero. We are lumped in with the entire metropolitan area which, of course, the government has said needs no more but, you know, Mr. Speaker, the government still has not finished their assessments. They have only given, out of that 170 that they committed to deliver in the last fiscal year, approximately 40. I say to the minister and to the government members, please rethink your positions and be willing to look favourably on providing some of those in the Sackville area.

Education. School classrooms still remain overcrowded in many cases. The basic materials of textbooks are inadequate. Specialist resources and the teachers' aides for those children with special needs are sadly lacking and as pressures are being put on because of the higher needs of some children, those with the moderate and lower needs are losing out because more and more resources have to be directed to the higher end. We hear about P3s and these high-tech schools being built everywhere, whereas many of the schools in Sackville are still waiting for the commitment for the computers that have been provided.

Mr. Speaker, I see that you are telling me that my time has expired so I will take my seat wishing that we had had a Speech from the Throne so I could have dedicated the hour that we should be entitled to talk about our constituencies in this House. Thank you.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Earlier today I tabled a resolution and, Mr. Speaker, my resolution was in error. I had some information in it that was not correct in regard to a labour dispute at the Rodd Grand Hotel. I mentioned that it was a strike and I want to clarify that it is a lockout. I will be reintroducing a resolution on another day to put it before the House.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order, it is a point of clarification.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I was just going to thank the member for his point of clarification and intervention. I think it is helpful.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour for me to rise in historic Province House today and say a few words on the Supply motion as we proceed to the budget estimates. I would like to take a few moments to reintroduce to you, and through you to my colleagues, my constituency of Pictou East which is considered by all who live there and most who visit to be one of the most beautiful areas of Nova Scotia.

[Page 7089]

We are bounded on the north by Northumberland Strait with miles of sandy beaches, inlets and quaint fishing villages such as Merigomish, Lismore, Pictou Landing - the village I live in - and to the south by rolling hills, scenic river valleys and forests. The TransCanada Highway runs centrally through the constituency from west to east and the area is as economically diverse and it is geographically dispersed. Our major urban centre is the Town of Westville with its proud history of coal mining, together with a loose collection of villages that dot the landscape, each with its own identity and historic charm.

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to focus on a couple of topics that are important to my constituents and my constituency. We find ourselves again at the start of tourist season and, as I said last year, if we are to expect visitors to overnight and spend time in this beautiful historic area, we must do something meaningful to our roads.

[2:15 p.m.]

The secondary roads in Pictou East are a disgrace; they are a public embarrassment. There are shoulders to be rebuilt, potholes; great voids to be filled and sections to be repaved. I have a priority list for roadwork in Pictou County for this year and it is similar to the ones we saw last year and the year before. The same roads are on there and the work is still not done. I call it my wish list and I keep it on my bulletin board in my office.

Because Pictou East is such a large, sprawling area, many residents have to travel quite a distance on these secondary roads to get to work, to go to school, or to purchase all of their requirements. The calls never stop coming in with regard to road conditions. Quite frankly, the residents of rural communities in my area are totally frustrated, they are pothole-pounded and choked with dust and at the end of their tether. Some honourable members in here say that roads are not important, it is not the big issue, but it is a big issue if you live in East River St. Marys, Lismore, Barneys River or, for that matter, in Pictou Landing.

I was reading over the Minister of Transportation's reports on the budget and the motherhood statements are wonderful. The mission includes: to construct, maintain and manage provincial highways; their goal includes: to enhance the value and safety of the transportation system. Wonderful statements. It is not happening. Their function includes: the construction, maintenance and operation of provincial roads and to continue early tendering construction of contracts. There is no tendering advertised for any of these roads that are on this list. It is meaningless, it doesn't mean anything without tenders.

They go on to say that they will pursue cost-sharing agreements with the federal government. Well, there hasn't been any federal-provincial agreements since the Tories were there in 1993 and we question the pursuit. The Minister of Transportation has gone to Ottawa and the minister responsible there doesn't even recall his visit, so we question how strong we are in pursuit of this.

[Page 7090]

Some roads that are urgently in need of repair, one in particular, the Stellarton Trafalgar Road. You hear it brought up by several MLAs from our area, a highly travelled road; in fact, Route 374 has been a test site for an amazing new machine. This amazing new machine chops up asphalt and magically transforms paved roads into gravel roads. Badly paved sections are now gravel sections, with seemingly no plans to repave the area. So we are going along and we have pavement and then we have a sign, gravel, and then back to pavement. It is quite interesting.

Some of the roads on this list like the Chance Harbour Road, the Pictou Landing Road and Thorburn Street are in deplorable condition - the minister has been there - the River Road, and with regard to the condition of the River Road, the municipal council has come out in the papers saying they are not satisfied with the government's conclusion even on the guardrail issue.

Mr. Speaker, last Christmas Eve, a young man was killed when his car went over this very dangerous section that doesn't have a guardrail. It has been a collection spot for cars for years. In fact, within a week of the accident that claimed the life of a gentleman, there was another lady who went over in the same spot. That has been the history of this location, but yet the government concluded that a guardrail wasn't necessary. How many cars have to go over this section or for that matter, does someone else have to get killed? It is a sorry state that we are living in right now. County council blasts government on the Westville Road conditions, another dangerous road. It also needs traffic lights, it is a high traffic area, a very high traffic area.

Mr. Speaker, there are many more roads that are in unsafe condition. It is time this government took this situation seriously, because quite frankly, if they are not dealt with soon, it is going to cost many more dollars to fix. I don't know where we are going to end. Where are we going to, back to gravel roads everywhere? Not very progressive.

With regard to health care, it is hard to criticize additional health care spending, because it is seemingly on everyone's mind, but the problem is the present government, through mismanagement, have created the problems that are in health care. They have made a mess of it, quite frankly, since 1993. In fact, this government is not even spending the present health care dollars in an efficient manner. Keep in mind, they overspent their projected 1998-1999 budget by $70 million, and just look at the problems that still exist in health care. We see $107 million in additional spending in the regular health care budget, on top of the government's $600 million Health Investment Fund.

Mr. Speaker, yes, the residents in my constituency fully recognize there are far-reaching problems in our health care and in the boards that oversee it. In fact, with regard to the boards, the task force on health care, when meeting in Pictou County, received a clear message from the residents of Pictou County and surrounding area. I attended that meeting, and the task force was told that there was no support out there for bipolar or autistic children.

[Page 7091]

There were some sad commentaries at that meeting. A doctor spoke with regard to mental health and how regionalization cut beds at the IWK Children's Hospital and they were not replaced in the regions.

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if I could interrupt the honourable member for a brief school introduction.

MR. DEWOLFE: Absolutely.

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

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, thank you honourable member for yielding the floor. In the east gallery, I would like to point out the 22 Grade 6 students from the O'Connell Drive School in Porter's Lake. They are with their teacher today, Paul Mooney, and some parents, Vivian Hiscock, Derek Arseneault, Glenda Siteman, Annette Newton and Sonia Larose. I would ask them to rise and receive a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East. You have five minutes remaining.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, St. Martha's Hospital in Antigonish won't take adult in-patients in their mental health ward. There are no adequate services in the region. In fact, there are more than 1,000 people in my constituency alone, probably 3,000 in Pictou County, who still do not have access to a family physician. The task force was told that dollars are being wasted in building bureaucracy, and as far as the regional health boards are concerned, you can't improve a dead horse. You can dress it up but eventually you have to get rid of it and that is what we have to do and that was what was echoed at this meeting. That is what the people said they wanted, to do away with the boards and get back to the community. In fact, regional boards have done nothing for us in Pictou County and in my mind the sooner they are done away with, the better.

Before I conclude I would like to say a few words about the festive atmosphere in my constituency which is prevalent 12 months a year but certainly blossoms in the summer. Numerous villages and towns have fairs, parades, concerts, shows, barbeques, and dinners that are ongoing through the summer and fall. There is something for everyone.

A remarkable collection of musical talent prevails throughout Pictou County and is as much a part of our lives as is religion and politics to Pictou County people. We are proud of our talented performers in Pictou East but none more so than the Pictou County Old Time Fiddlers, providing their own version of Celtic and old time music to the delight of audiences both young and old.

[Page 7092]

Focus will soon be on the Canada Day celebrations and a large street parade taking place in the Town of Westville. I must commend the Westville Fire Department for the work they have done in organizing this over the years. It is really the kick-off event for all of Pictou County. Westville, as many of you know, is also the home of my constituency office located at 1791 Main Street, directly opposite MacLeod's Restaurant, where if any of my colleagues come to visit me I will take them to the best lunch in town.

In closing, I would just have to say that whatever we may face during the days and months ahead, we will rise to the challenge and provide decisive leadership that the majority of Nova Scotians clearly look for and indeed expect of our Leader, John Hamm and the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a few moments to bring to your attention some of the various concerns and points of view that have been expressed to me since my election as the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect.

Many times in this business we are accused of having a lot to say and do we actually listen. That is one of the concerns that has always been brought to my attention by various groups, is government truly listening to the people of Nova Scotia? One of our greatest challenges as elected officials, in my opinion, is to do less talking and more listening on any number of various issues. Have less reliance on various spin doctors and more actual facts when it comes to answers.

I would like to tell the House about some of the concerns I hear. I hear from seniors who are afraid for health care, they are afraid for Pharmacare. I hear from young people who are afraid about the massive debts which they will face when they move onto secondary institutions of study. And I hear from young couples throughout my constituency who are concerned about the fact that they pay taxes and in return the services that are rendered do not measure those taxes. Some of the concerns that I hear about revolve around the environment, particularly when it deals with such issues as illegal dumps, particularly in rural parts of Timberlea-Prospect where certain people are avoiding tipping scales at our landfill site hosted in this community, unfortunately. But these illegal dumps are springing up everywhere.

I have encouraged the Minister of the Environment to please make sure that he puts some teeth in some legislation to ensure that offenders are dealt with. Environmental issues that deal, of course, with the PCB storage site in Five Island Lake. Again I would like to congratulate the volunteers from that community who stepped forward and continue to make their case in this decade-long struggle to get the PCBs out of Five Island Lake, but also I remind the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to get those containers off that hill and out of our community as soon as possible.

[Page 7093]

[2:30 p.m.]

I also hear, Mr. Speaker, about a continuing concern about land use. There is a need in our constituency - a growing constituency, as you probably know - of the importance of having land developers with a conscience, a conscience that will ensure that there are proper recreational facilities and there are proper facilities in some of these massive new developments that are taking place throughout Timberlea-Prospect.

One of the greatest concerns - and it is just not from the coastal communities that are within my constituency, Mr. Speaker, there are other members present and I have heard also from constituents of theirs - is about the sale of coastal properties and islands throughout our province. The traditional access to this land is of major concern to Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the other and I encourage the Minister of Natural Resources to follow up on the words that he said in this House on a couple of occasions and let's deal with the idea that we must continually have that traditional access to our coastal properties.

One of the concerns that I hear about a great deal and maybe, Mr. Speaker, it is because of my prior career before becoming elected as the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect, I hear a great deal about schools. I hear from teachers who are concerned about the fact that they are not empowered within their own schools to be in charge. I think all members should be aware of the fact that being a teacher these days is not an easy business. Everybody seems to be an expert because they have gone to school, they know all about school.

I see the Minister of Education nodding his head and during estimates I know the Minister of Education will, to the best of his ability, answer some of the concerns that I have about schools and funding in my community. I look particularly at a couple of issues of equity, Mr. Speaker, between older schools and some of the newer schools that are being built. B-L-T Education Centre will be well received in the community. The private developer is going to be made - and he is going to, they as a consortium, are going - to have to listen to the community about access and community use.

There are some older schools, particularly Sir John A. Macdonald High School, that must not be forgotten. I remind the Minister of Education that that high school is overcrowded. That high school has been forgotten. I look forward to the Minister of Education working with me and the other members and parents of that community to make sure that Sir John A. Macdonald offers the quality of service which other high schools throughout this province also attempt to do.

One of the greatest concerns that I hear about, of course, are roads. As the Critic for the Department of Transportation and Public Works, I hear constantly about the need to make sure there is attention to upgrading secondary roads. I hear about Highway No. 103 and the need to have it twinned. At this time I want to publicly acknowledge the contribution of a citizen such as Bruce Munroe who has been in communication with the Minister of

[Page 7094]

Transportation and Public Works. The Minister of Transportation and Public Works has corresponded back with Mr. Munroe. Mr. Munroe is one of many citizens in my community who is concerned about the safety beyond the landfill site, out through Exit 4 and Exit 5. There are also outstanding young people in my community who are volunteers - Kim Noel, who has expressed her strong reservations about dangerous crosswalks throughout our community.

In particular, Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the House to a community that sometimes gets forgotten and that is the community of West Dover. That community is just before you get to Peggy's Cove and, unfortunately, many tourists are in such a hurry to get to this gem, Peggy's Cove. They should also stop in West Dover and they should be aware of the unique characteristics of that fine village. In particular, I draw your attention to some of the volunteers in that community, to Brice Morash for all the long work that he has put into that ballfield, to Lionel and Eugene Young, to Susan Lanteigne and the great work that they have done to make that ballfield a focal point of their community.

Mr. Speaker, one of the difficulties when you begin to mention volunteers, is you often leave people out. I would just like to refer to my notes and I would like to point out that there are a number of volunteers around the loop and in the busy community of Timberlea-Prospect who need to be recognized. I mention the Lions Club members, Peggy and Art Gilbert in particular, excellent Lions members who make sure that the needs of their community are listened to. I mention Linda Deal, who is the co-chair, an excellent spokesperson on behalf of the Sir John A. Macdonald Renovation Group. I mention Harry Beuree and Marj Hild, seniors in the community of Five Island Lake, where they have lived for many years and do not want to be known as the PCB capital of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, the strength of a community is in its volunteers. Their involvement, their participation, being part of what we as MLAs rely upon. Many times I have heard from them about their concerns. Some of these concerns reflect that ongoing importance that we are only as good as elected officials in relation to the people that we hear from, people who have concerns, particularly about subdivision paving and the 50/50 municipal paving program.

A young man who was an outstanding hockey player at Sackville High School, perhaps because of his coach, but Joel Jessome is now a member of the community that I represent. Joel Jessome has gone from house to house getting petitions. Yet now, we go through that frustrating experience, what happens to this petition? Will municipal and provincial governments agree that that particular road, Leeward Avenue that Mr. Jessome lives on, will be a road that receives the attention it is due?

I should also draw attention to a number of other outstanding citizens of Timberlea. Recently I heard from Leo Toulany who is an outstanding businessman with a sense of conscience, who has spoken up on a number of issues in our community, issues that he wants addressed. That is why it is welcome news to hear, whether it is on the answering machine

[Page 7095]

or whether he calls me personally at home. When it is important, a person such as Mr. Toulany can turn to me for advice, and I in turn can turn to him for some of the answers and the direction that I want in the community that I represent.

I would be remiss, of course, if I did not mention that there is that unique fishing village, which you must go over Porcupine Hill to visit, Terence Bay. Terence Bay, the home of the Slaunwhites. There is an outstanding young woman in the community of Terence Bay that I met, Tina Slaunwhite. Tina has a vested interest in that community. She has an excellent job, she has moved into her community and she wants to make her community and her small school still an integral part of what Terence Bay has been and what it will be in the future. Terence Bay as a school will continue because of the small schools' policy that the NDP endorses. Barb Allen, who has been involved with the CAP site there is appreciative of the fact that small schools are an integral part of our communities. Communities that must not get forgotten, communities that we must continue to listen to.

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak at any time about this community. More importantly, I remind members present that when you have the opportunity to serve, take it for what it is worth, however, I remind members our greatest skill should be our listening skills and not our oratorical ones. I thank the House for its time. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[2:40 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Donald Chard in the Chair.]

[6:00 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Acting Deputy Speaker, Ms. Helen MacDonald in the Chair.]

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

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

MADAM SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Order, please. This is the moment of interruption and the topic of the late debate this evening is submitted by the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

[Page 7096]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

JUSTICE - PUB. PROSECUTION SERV.:

IMPROVEMENT - STALLING CONDEMN

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak to this resolution:

"Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government be condemned for five years of stalling and immediately commit to implementing the latest round of recommendations for improving Nova Scotia's public prosecution services as a top priority.".

Madam Speaker, Nova Scotia has a Public Prosecution Service that we can all be proud of, and we are proud of. It was a service that was formed in 1990 and is the only prosecuting agency in Nova Scotia to operate at arm's length from the government. It has the potential and it has the people within the service to make this a model for right across this country. Its intended purpose was to act as an independent agency to prevent political interference in regard to decision making.

Rather than having achieved that independence, Madam Speaker, from government, the service has instead been hindered in performing its duties as a result of its continuing relationship with this government. The Public Prosecution Service is crucial to the administration of justice within the Province of Nova Scotia. I have had the opportunity personally to work with the service in this province and I can tell you that the service itself has very dedicated, very educated, and very concerned workers within the service.

Madam Speaker, the Progressive Conservative caucus has continuously urged an effective and efficient resolution to the difficulties facing those within the service today. We have just seen the completion of the second external review of the Public Prosecution Service in five years. We had the Ghiz-Archibald Report in 1994, which provided a series of recommendations which were fundamentally ignored by this government. All but eight of Nova Scotia's 65 Crown Prosecutors walked off the job, for two days last June, to demand collective bargaining and increased resources.

Last spring the former Minister of Justice, the Honourable Jim Smith, initiated a working group to address the concerns of prosecutors. The working group submitted their report in February and the Minister of Justice promised a timely response. The response has not been forthcoming and the minister has said that he is awaiting the Kaufman Report before responding. Again, in June 1999, we have seen 25 Crown Attorneys converge on Province

[Page 7097]

House to repeat demands for raises and an independent tribunal to set salaries and collective bargaining rights.

Justice Kaufman, in his interim report, described the Public Prosecution Service as having a disturbing malaise due to lack of strong leadership and government inaction in devising a better pay system. These are provided to government as two urgent priorities. The lack of leadership is not only within the Public Prosecution Service, but particularly within government. People in this province are depending on prosecution service every day in the justice system and the whole system is hinging on the Attorney General's Office in this province to provide that leadership and the support that is so urgently needed. Longer-term priorities include the overall management of the Public Prosecution Service and whether or not it is sufficiently independent and accountable.

On the issue of pay, Justice Kaufman said the present system does not work and he encouraged the government to sit down with the Public Prosecution Service to work it out between themselves. Crown Attorneys were told last May that the process involving the working group would only take 12 to 18 months. Justice Kaufman also stated that he was told he would be provided with this report by the end of 1998, but the report was not filed until February, causing Justice Kaufman to submit his interim report without this input.

We have had the final report of Justice Kaufman just lately tabled. His recommendations essentially include a recognition that the Crown Prosecutors in Nova Scotia are in need of leadership. He was pleased to see that the disturbing malaise reported in January has eased somewhat, but there is still cause for considerable concern. Justice Kaufman also concludes that prosecutors lack leadership, organization and, most importantly, they are lacking in hope; hope that there will be some consideration given in a final conclusion brought to this long, drawn-out process that has been totally out of their hands.

Our caucus is also very concerned about the description Justice Kaufman makes of the prosecutors who are, in his words, insufficiently compensated, have no faith in the integrity of the promotion process and who do not trust their managers. These are not words that our caucus takes lightly. Such a description is a call to action for this government. It must heed it now.

Crown Prosecutors require action in dealing with their concerns, the Province of Nova Scotia requires a strong system of justice. We have the people in place within the service to be effective. It is time the government supported them and worked with them, not against them. As Justice Kaufman says, we have competent and dedicated Crown Attorneys, who are the backbone of the Public Prosecution Service in this province. Their performance goes to the very heart of the unique prosecution service that we are fortunate to have here in Nova Scotia. Such a system deserves to be a priority, and the Liberal Government seems to have failed to recognize this.

[Page 7098]

As was the case in his interim report, Justice Kaufman duly notes the lingering issue of compensation. Once again, he states that it is of the highest priority at this time. He also expressed the hope that this issue could be worked out between the two parties, but it has not evolved. The government has failed to adequately address this issue time and time again. Failure to do so has forced the hand of Mr. Kaufman in making recommendations about an issue he has previously stated was an urgent matter. Government must address this and immediately begin to implement the necessary changes.

Also encouraged by Justice Kaufman's recommendation that within one year from May 31st, the Director of the Public Prosecution Service should report on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report which are accepted. We do not want any more stalling on the part of the government, and this recommendation recognizes this has been appended in attempts to avoid it in the future.

Madam Speaker, I am going to share my time with my friend, the honourable member for Lunenburg at this time.

MADAM SPEAKER: There is less than three minutes.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Madam Speaker, I wanted to rise briefly in the few minutes that are left just to comment on the situation of the Public Prosecution Service. I had occasion during the years that I have practised law to have a lot of dealings with the Public Prosecution Service. I wanted to share with the House, and particularly with the government, my view as someone who has dealt with them.

One of the difficult parts of the problem has been the lack of technology. Technology problems in the Public Prosecution Service have, I think by everyone's admission, been one of the critical issues, because information management on files is so important, particularly in these days of Crown disclosure and those kinds of issues. It seems like a small thing, but it is a very major issue when the Public Prosecution Service is trying to manage their caseload.

Another issue which my colleague raised was the issue of compensation. I can remember, not that many years ago, looking at the Supplement to the Public Accounts for Nova Scotia. At that time, the local Judge of the Provincial Court was making in the $60,000 a year range. Within a couple of thousand dollars, so was the Chief Crown Prosecutor in Lunenburg County. Time has passed. These were both senior lawyers who were acting in the public interest.

[Page 7099]

In the meantime, what has happened is that the members of the Provincial Court have had their salaries go up by huge amounts leaving behind, however, those very senior lawyers in the Public Prosecution Service, who by comparison are certainly not making anything close to the same compensation. I think it is critical that the government address the issue of compensation and that there be some format, whether it is binding arbitration or otherwise, to resolve this issue. If that issue is not addressed, I don't think that the Public Prosecution Service will ever have true peace.

I am going to make the following comment, because I understand from the Kaufman Report that one of the issues that has been raised is the issue of the role of the Attorney General of Nova Scotia and the Minister of Justice in the Public Prosecution Service. I can indicate it is my view that in a parliamentary democracy, ultimately the Public Prosecution Service is accountable to the people through its elected officials. I think, for many years in this province, we have had a very serious shortcoming, and that shortcoming has been that there has been a lack of accountability of the Public Prosecution Service to the taxpayers and electors.

I understand that my time is drawing very near, but I would say that I think that anything that guarantees accountability without providing for interference is in the public interest. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Madam Speaker, I am going to try to capture some of the excerpts of comments made by the first speakers on tonight's late debate. The choosing by the Progressive Conservative Party of the day of an independent prosecution service, that set, as a primary goal, the elimination of political interference in the administration of justice, in terms of the independence of the service and that that could very well be a model for the country; in fact, for North America.

I encourage all members of this House to read the Kaufman Report. At first it seems a little daunting, that 450-some odd pages - a limit set by the publisher before you head into Volume II, and one that Justice Kaufman said was not a bad recipe for concise reporting - and it is only the first 50 or so pages that are the essence of his report. The rest are appendices and, albeit, valuable information, but it is not as daunting as it might first look. However, it is a comprehensive report. It is one that I would encourage members to read. It strikes a cord with what has been said by the honourable Justice Critic for the Third Party. That some of the original purposes, the elimination of political interference in that element of the justice system, and the potential for a model, a strong foundation, in which, by the way, he also says some very dedicated and capable people work, I think, as what I will call some of the highlights of the report that we have before us.

[Page 7100]

There is no question that there are dedicated lawyers and staff members who work within the Public Prosecution Service and that it is a partnership or an alliance between the Attorney General of the province and the Cabinet and the government of the day and those who work within this service. We both have jobs to do and, clearly, Justice Kaufman has given us a report that we will take the next three weeks to digest and assimilate. We will fold in a report by the service itself, who will undertake, within 12 days, to prepare a response to Justice Kaufman's report.

It is interesting, you know, that both Opposition Parties have said, well, this is the second external report. We had the Marshall Report, then we had the Ghiz-Archibald Report and now we have the Kaufman Report. As I indicated at the press conference, it seems to me that we will have arrived at a better day when the third external report - and there must continue to be external reports; when you are evaluating an independent service, by definition, it will require external evaluation - I would hope that the third report, and on, would become regular external statements of quality, supported by internal evaluation first, but that would invite some of the best prosecution services in the world, perhaps.

A process for ensuring quality that speaks to the degree of independence, that speaks to the need for any Attorney General in this province to be able to stand in this House and defend the quality of a service that is also, by definition, independent. Independent of political interference, independent of the kind of interference that is starting to creep into systems of justice within this country that are perhaps even more difficult in terms of ensuring that there is quality law before the courts through an independent service.

There are other forms of interference just as dangerous to the exercise of quality law that are also protected by legislation, albeit created to solve one problem. That could very well be important legislation to keep the quality of law before the courts at its highest level in this province, by other forms of interference, interference with the professional and legal discretion of independent prosecutors. So we will continue, as a province, to define independence and we will, invariably, be doing that by having external teams come and remind us of quality and also leave behind a blueprint for improvement.

I want to remind the members opposite that we spent $10.5 million a year - and we will be defending budget estimates in a few days in the Red Chamber - and that ATi, the company hired by Justice Kaufman to provide a management document, said that those funds are adequate. So we are really talking now about managing those funds more effectively. Having said all that, if there are one-time expenditures for technology or other elements that are needed to achieve, and really there is only one pinnacle objective here; quality of law before the courts has to be the single most important objective we have. Public confidence is a very worthy goal and there is no question that we have to do more to engender public confidence. The pinnacle objective to which I am committed, to which I hope every member of the service is committed, and to which I hope all members of the House are committed, has to be quality of law before the courts, second to none in any jurisdiction in this country and I would

[Page 7101]

daresay beyond. So ATi has said that we are adequately funding at $10.5 million as a core budget and we have to manage ourselves better, we have to use those funds more effectively to achieve that objective that I have described. Having said that, once again, the commitment of the Attorney General is to bring before the Cabinet certain expenditures that may be in the interests of improving the service, not within a core budget but are necessary to achieve those objectives.

[6:15 p.m.]

It has often been said and somewhat misleadingly portrayed as nothing was implemented from Ghiz-Archibald. I can assure the members opposite that most if not all of Ghiz-Archibald has been implemented or in the instance of the mechanism for salary and remuneration, let's remind ourselves that Ghiz-Archibald put four options on the table. The working group commissioned last spring and reporting this February put a tribunal option on the table, just as Justice Kaufman has clearly put collective bargaining as his lead objective. But then he also leaves the door open for mutually agreeable mechanisms for salary, benefits, remuneration and grievances to be struck between the Attorney General and the service.

In three weeks we will declare for this province the position of government with respect to all of those options and, clearly, Justice Kaufman has made a pretty strong case for collective bargaining. Those elements for dealing with the mechanism for salary setting must be dealt with and they will be dealt with within three weeks. The three week time limit is really to give all of us, including the service, a chance to digest a very comprehensive, thorough and professional piece of work to make sure that in three weeks we have a declarative, definitive statement of the relationship between the government and its part and the service and its part to reach that objective of higher quality of law before the courts.

I do want to take a few moments to examine the management side. Clearly, Justice Kaufman has said, in 1990 you set out with an Act and a service to achieve many objectives not the least of which was an independent from political interference service. And then he says, you have arrived. There is no question that in all of the intervening years you have eliminated political interference from the administration of Justice through the Public Prosecution Service. Now you must swing your focus over to management within, from the lynchpin move of completing the national search for a new director and when I say a new director, we are really talking about a director who will provide sustained quality leadership both on the legal and management side for a longer term than has been the case to date.

For a variety of reasons we have had four to five periods of leadership, some interim, some permanent but not in anyone's book or in anyone's mind the kind of sustained leadership for the long term that this service deserved and that this service does deserve. For me the completion of that national search, the work of the panel that has been selected to choose the new leader, the quality of that leader looking at two major characteristics: a successful track record in managing people and law firms, in essence, or public sector law

[Page 7102]

firms, in this case, for lack of a better description; and on the legal side, someone of great stature who is respected by the legal community both within and without the Public Service of Nova Scotia.

I have about one minute left and I will use that minute to once again restate that the prime objective, there are many, we can talk about the relationship with the regional police force here in Halifax, the people who are reading that report, both at the Halifax Regional Police Station, the chief himself and the prosecution service do not need three weeks and an Attorney General to make the government's position clear to begin acting on that recommendation.

Clearly there needs to be a relationship repaired between the Crown Prosecutors of this city and the Halifax Regional Police. Justice Kaufman says, do something immediately and then set up a liaison between the prosecutors and not just the metropolitan chief of police or his staff but also the RCMP and other municipal police forces. Those are recommendations that one needs to address both in the short term and the medium term.

The bottom line from all of this work is to ensure that in this province we have a service that achieves higher and higher goals of quality law before the courts. We are committing this government and this Attorney General to that task. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Madam Speaker, I had the opportunity yesterday of attending the press conference held by Justice Kaufman in presenting his report to the media and to the people of Nova Scotia. I appreciate having had an opportunity to receive a copy a few hours in advance, which allowed me to review it and have a better understanding of where Justice Kaufman was coming from when he spoke.

I think it is important to remember why Justice Kaufman was appointed to do this and why, when he was appointed, most of us felt comfortable. Justice Kaufman has respect on a national level for his ability to recognize justice issues, having been a former justice and a criminal lawyer before that, in Quebec, and also to be able to deal with the issues in a succinct manner and make clear recommendations. He did it in the Morin public inquiry in Ontario and he did it here.

I think he must be applauded for his work but let's make it clear, Madam Speaker, Justice Kaufman's report is only recommendations. It is only when this Liberal Government is in a position to feel that it must implement these and, when it does implement these changes, that the justice system in Nova Scotia will improve and people will once again have confidence in the justice system. This is not just about the Public Prosecution Service and our adversarial legal system, there is the defence counsel and there are the Crown Attorneys. When one of those two groups - in this case the Public Prosecution Service - has fallen on bad

[Page 7103]

times, has lacked leadership for many years, if not 10 years since its inception, and does not have the confidence of the people of this province, then our justice system is in tatters and it must be fixed.

I want to talk for a second about the collective bargaining process. The Minister of Justice pointed out that there are many different opinions that have been given, from the working group that he assembled, from Justice Kaufman, from the Ghiz Report. Let's make it clear, Madam Speaker, there is only one real option, and that is independent, free bargaining between the Crown Attorneys and the government, so that they have the ability to have a direct impact - the Crown Attorneys do - on their working condition. You can call it an independent tribunal, collective bargaining, you can call it a judicial review tribunal, much like the judges have for salaries, but until we have some form of independent review and arbitration, the Crown Attorney morale will never improve. That is a key point.

Let me talk about something I think is an even bigger point, that is the selection of the DPP, also known as the Director of Public Prosecutions. That position has been around since the inception of the PPS. Why hasn't it worked? It my opinion and it is the opinion of our caucus, Madam Speaker, that the Public Prosecution Service has not suffered from a lack of theory, from a lack of legislative intent, from a clear description of the role of the Attorney General and of the DPP, it has suffered because it has not had the proper people leading the Public Prosecution Service. That is a major problem, that is why the system has had trouble in the past 10 years.

In particular, what we have, and I think the Minister of Justice noted this, we have had major vacuums of leadership within the Public Prosecution Service. We have had two full-time DPPs, Mr. Pearson and Mr. Pitzul. In both cases, when they left we have had periods of up to 24 or 36 months waiting for another DPP to arrive. I will grant it, a DPP is a position that is hard to find someone for but, at the same time, to wait that long, to be in a position where we have an Acting DPP in the position, does result, I do believe, Madam Speaker, in a lack of leadership, and I think the Minister of Justice acknowledges, a lack of a period of time where we can have cohesive, long-term, clear leadership from one person who can help improve the Public Prosecution Service.

It is not only that, we have a situation, Madam Speaker, and I think it is noted by Justice Kaufman, that there is a lack of a policy analyst within the Public Prosecution Service. This is a service that is made up of very good criminal justice lawyers, but there is a difference between criminal justice and criminal policy. That is something that is lost on many, if not all, of the senior managers in the Public Prosecution Service. They have a clear level of knowledge with regard to how to perform trials but, when it comes to the issue of implementing policy and implementing decisions around those policies, there is no person who takes on the role in a serious and full-time manner.

[Page 7104]

Justice Kaufman has recommended that there be a Deputy DPP of Policy and Planning. I applaud that recommendation but I also implore the Minister of Justice, when considering that recommendation, to ensure that we open up the competition. The last thing we need is people who are in the position now hoping that they will continue in that position if they do not meet the new job description that Justice Kaufman has laid out.

That leads to a few other problems, Madam Speaker. The real problem that we face is not Justice Kaufman's recommendations, but whether they will be implemented, and there are a few reasons why our caucus is concerned as to whether they will be implemented. First of all, there are no surprises in this report. This is the same report that was basically provided, in broader strokes, as an interim report in January of this year by Justice Kaufman.

The Minister of Justice has known for almost six months that this is what will be happening in his recommendations; in fact, in his interim report Justice Kaufman implored the Minister of Justice to act immediately on the low morale issue and to deal with the issue of collective bargaining or some other form of independent adjudication for Crown Attorneys. Nothing has been done in those six months. Nothing has been done for the six years that the Liberals have had the Ghiz-Archibald Report. So I have a lot of concern believing that the next three weeks are going to change anything. Let's make it clear. This is not just three weeks. The Minister of Justice has had this report since May 31st, and he has already had it 10 days and we have heard nothing. If he needs another three weeks, I am assuming we will hear nothing after that as well.

Here is the second reason I have a concern with whether the Liberal Government will do anything. The Minister of Justice set up his own working group to address the issue of how Crown Attorneys should have their working conditions adjudicated. Subsequent to getting that report, he gutted that working group. In the report on, I think, Pages 63 and 64 of Justice Kaufman's Report, there is a letter from the Minister of Justice saying this working group that he set up was biased against the government. Well, I don't even understand how that can be. It was made up of equal members of government and Crown Attorneys. If it was not favouring the government's side in the working group, and yet he is concerned that that working group came up with ideas that go against what he wanted, well, if you set up the working group and it makes recommendations, you have to accept them.

Third - and I think I heard the Minister of Justice suggest this over the last two days - he must hear from the people in the Public Prosecution Service with regard to recommendations. That is the crux of the problem, the Minister of Justice has created a Public Prosecution Service to deal with criminal matters in this province, Madam Speaker, and he does not have the staff within the Department of Justice. They are very good lawyers, they deal with civil issues now, but he does not have the criminal expertise to give him advice independently. He is relying on the Public Prosecution Service for a response to the Kaufman Report. Who did Justice Kaufman criticize the most in his report? The senior managers in the Public Prosecution Service. The very ones that the Minister of Justice will be relying on for

[Page 7105]

advice. That is a major problem, and if it is not addressed in the long-term, the Public Prosecution Service will not improve.

If we are going to fix the Public Prosecution Service and our justice system generally, Madam Speaker - and I think Justice Kaufman began to hit on this in his report - there is a role for the Attorney General and there is a role for the DPP and the PPS, but it must be made clear. The Attorney General does have a role to play but, clearly, he must have policy advice that is independent from the Public Prosecution Service, that can help him when he knows he has to step in and make a decision.

In return, the DDP must have the policy advice and the expertise to help him or her do the job as well. That level of equal, yet separate, policy advice and knowledge on criminal matters will make for a very good system that I believe can work. Let me give you one example of where it has not worked, and it is in the past year, and it involves the case of Dr. Morrison. We had the Crown make a decision to proceed, then last July we had the Attorney General arrive and say that I do not believe I can intervene in this case. He gave very succinct reasons. Public interest, I think, was the key one.

Let's remember exactly what Justice Kaufman said in his report yesterday. He did not mention the Morrison case specifically - that is my own analogy - but he made it quite clear, Madam Speaker, that it is the role of the Attorney General, when certain cases hit a certain level of political involvement and hit the public in a way that demands political response, to respond. What we had in that case was a Minister of Justice who did not have the expertise or the advice for him to go against what the Public Prosecution Service said he should do. He was stuck with not being able, I believe, to make the proper decision and intervene where he should intervene.

Unfortunately, that is what happened in that case and that is why the Public Prosecution Service is not working and, until it is fixed - and, hopefully, the Kaufman recommendations are implemented - it will not work. Thank you. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The time for the late debate has expired and we will return to Committee of the Whole House on Supply.

[GOVERNMENT MOTIONS]

[6:30 p.m. The House resolved itself into CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Donald Chard in the Chair.]

[7:10 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Donald Chard in the Chair.]

[Page 7106]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made some progress and begs leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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. 102.

Bill No. 102 - Petroleum Resources Removal Permit Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 102, which has the support of all Parties, prepares the way for the next stage of the Nova Scotia petroleum industry. We believe that Nova Scotians expect and deserve to reap the benefits of their own resources. This bill will make it easier for that to happen.

Natural gas liquids can be, and I believe will be, the building blocks of a sustainable petrochemical industry for Nova Scotia. Those liquids need to be available to create products and jobs right here in Nova Scotia. The bill gives the province the legal means of making that happen. This is our Nova Scotia First policy.

This legislation will guarantee that liquids such as ethane are available to companies that want to develop the petrochemical promise of the offshore right here in Nova Scotia. As I said earlier in the debate, the bill answers the question, what kind of province do we want to develop?

[Page 7107]

We want a Nova Scotia that stands on its own two feet, creating a vibrant economy worthy of people who are blessed by abundant natural resources. Nova Scotia gas liquids should produce jobs right here, and not shipped in a pipeline to create jobs somewhere else. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, the Nova Scotia Petrochemical Policy is about giving the people of our province control over our economic destiny. The objective is to ensure that when Nova Scotia petrochemical operations are developed, they have access to the resources they need to operate.

Sable gas has the potential to improve the lives of all Nova Scotians. Developing the reserves has created thousands of jobs. This legislation will guarantee Nova Scotians will take their place at the head of the line for the petrochemical jobs that will follow. This bill will have a direct positive effect on the province and its people for many years to come.

Mr. Speaker, the recent record-setting bidding for exploration rights in Nova Scotia shows that we are now a major player on the energy scene. Just yesterday, the British Government announced it was appointing a special trade officer to work on the eastern Canadian oil and gas file. That tells us that others recognize the potential is well beyond just the Sable project. We have to ensure that we are ready for the coming wave of development. That is what we are doing with Bill No. 102.

This legislation has been a cooperative effort. I want to thank all the members of the House for their insight and suggestions in making this a better bill. Mr. Speaker, I move third reading.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for his comments. I have to say that there is nothing that the minister has said that I disagree with. In fact, when I listened to the Minister of Economic Development, I almost wondered if he read some of the comments that I and other members in our caucus were saying from the very beginning.

Mr. Speaker, our offshore resources are a major opportunity for the future of this province. They provide us with the potential to have a strong economy, the potential to develop secure, long-lasting, high-paying jobs for Nova Scotians; there is no question, none whatsoever. I just hope that the government truly believes the rhetoric that came from the minister, and that is that Nova Scotians expect and have a right to have first claim on the benefits from our offshore liquids and gases. There is no question.

[Page 7108]

[7:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if this legislation - because there are still no assurances, no guarantees that the kinds of benefits that we want and that the government says that they want for Nova Scotians will be achieved. I think back to an event that happened before the last provincial election. It happened down the hall in what once was the Senate Chamber for this House, the Red Room. Down in the Red Room on December 3, 1997, amongst great amounts of fanfare, the media was called in, and we were told that Nova Scotia's future had been secured.

We were told that our fearless Premier had duked it out with the big players in the oil and gas industry and had gotten a new deal for Nova Scotians and that that was going to ensure that Nova Scotian got the first benefits from our oil and gas. In fact, this Memorandum of Understanding, which was tabled and given out at that time said that the government had an agreement over a year and one-half ago, to accomplish what Bill No. 102 now is designed to do.

What wasn't told and wasn't advertised at that time was the fact that although they had a Memorandum of Understanding, signed December 3, 1997, they said that the final legal details had to be worked out and that there had to be an agreement on that - get this - in less than two weeks, by December 15, 1997, or either party could revoke this agreement and not be bound by any of the commitments made within it.

Well, we will find out from the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate, I hope, during his estimates debate if any of those agreements - I think there were about a dozen of them (Interruption) The minister says, don't count on it. I don't count on it. I said, maybe we will and he said, don't count on it. That is the whole point, that is what we have come to learn from the estimates debates in asking the government legitimate questions. You can ask a legitimate question, but you don't count on getting an answer.

Mr. Speaker, I sincerely hope that Bill No. 102 is not just more pre-election manoeuvring. When one looks at the history, and the minister himself made reference during his remarks in introducing the bill, to the fact that the other players in the world recognize the importance of the offshore; he talks about the major new commitments to expend approximately $600 million in exploring off of our coast.

What the minister did not talk about when he mentioned that is that that money does not flow as they would have people believe by the way that they say it, that money does not flow into the coffers of the Province of Nova Scotia, we don't get one red nickel from that. That money is what those companies commit to spend in exploration of that site. Therefore, when they bring up, for example, a rig that may be doing drilling offshore and paying in the range of a couple of hundred thousand dollars a day, that money is included in the cost of exploration; that is not money flowing to Nova Scotia.

[Page 7109]

There are not firm commitments as to the percentage of work that must be done by Nova Scotians, the percentage of the goods and services that must be purchased from Nova Scotians and Nova Scotian companies. That is why, if we are truly committed to ensuring that Nova Scotians get the maximum benefits from our offshore resources, when we are putting parcels of land out for tender and companies are asked to bid on those for the right to explore, we should not be simply saying that we will award that contract or permit to whoever bids the highest dollar value. Instead, what we should be saying is that we want companies to bid not only on how many dollars they commit to spend but on how much Nova Scotia content they will guarantee will be involved in that exploration process. What percentage of Nova Scotians will they employ? How will they set up training if necessary to employ Nova Scotians in that exploration process? Will they be using Nova Scotia businesses to provide supplies or engineering work to help develop the industry here in this province?

They talk about jobs. I had a call again this morning from a gentleman saying, I thought Nova Scotians were supposed to be working on the laying of the pipelines and complaining about all of the out-of-province licence plates in this particular town and asking how is it that if Nova Scotians are supposed to be getting these jobs, there are all of these out-of-province vehicles? I had to explain that the pipeline doesn't fall under the jurisdiction of either the Petroleum Directorate or the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Board. But that pipe that is being laid, is now regulated by the National Energy Board and they do not require Nova Scotia content.

I know there are people, I am sure, who are living in Inverness who would love to have the opportunity to work on that line and to know that their future and their children's future are secure here. I know that they want to hear their member get on his feet on the floor of this House and stand up and tell us what he is doing, other than flapping his gums in the way of helpful heckles in the back, what he is going to do to fight to ensure that the children who live in his community have a viable opportunity to have long-term, secure jobs working in the Province of Nova Scotia. That is a reasonable request. They talk about employment.

The Economic Council of Canada is projecting that next year Nova Scotia is going to be down near the bottom at about 1.2 per cent growth. I am sure that is, in part, a reflection of the fact that by that time much of the work, in terms of doing the clearing for the land to lay the pipe and the initial work will have been done. When one looks at what we have in the way of long-term, secure, committed jobs, and let's count them all: this includes on the production platforms; it includes the jobs that are going to be in the fractionation plant and in the liquids plant; and it includes the numbers of those who will be working on the supply vessels.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 7110]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, if I may be of assistance, I used to teach junior high and I am not distracted by the behaviour like that from the members on the government benches. (Applause) Of course, they were much younger and they had the excuse of youth; they could blame their immaturity on their youth.

However, 246 jobs, and those are very welcome jobs. Those jobs will be long-term, high-skilled, very important jobs that should bring home good paycheques for those workers and their families. That is extremely important but 246 jobs are not enough. In this province we have an extremely - I would rank Nova Scotians against anybody in this country or in North America for their entrepreneurial skills. I would stack them up and the businesses in this province for their entrepreneurial skills and their willingness to get in there and do the job, and, Mr. Speaker, (Interruptions) I used to find when I taught young teenagers that sometimes if you paused for a few minutes, the students in the class would quiet down, so I will just try that on some of the government members for a moment.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HOLM: I am sure that the honourable Minister of Justice, who used to be a teacher, probably employed that practice himself sometimes and maybe he would like to reflect upon how well it worked, and he will do it as well.

However, I just feel my few minutes growing, my few minutes and my brief remarks seem to be expanding. However, we talk about employment. One of the things that has been done in other areas, and this is not unreasonable, if we truly want Nova Scotia businesses to have the first and best opportunity, you set it up in such a way as to require that those who are bidding to develop the resources have to be assisting in the development of the industry, in the home-grown industry within that province.

If those who are bidding on the permits have to look at how they can maximize the content of Nova Scotia, that forces these companies that are not based in Nova Scotia, but these companies that are from away, it starts to force them to look at Nova Scotia and say, now what industries exist? Trenton Works can produce an awful lot of the products that would be needed. (Interruption) Michelin can provide the tires, yes, they can.

You know, Mr. Speaker, we have many people in this province; we have engineering firms, we have all kinds of businesses that can provide the valuable services and goods needed. However, if there is not a way to require and gently nudge those businesses, those companies, to look to Nova Scotia to procure their services, then the tendency is to go to those with whom they normally do business. If they are doing that, like those members who work, who are involved in OTANS and who are involved, if those big come-from-away companies are forced to look at Nova Scotia, they will find a wide range of businesses here that can provide those services. But if they are not forced to do that, they will continue to

[Page 7111]

deal with those businesses around the world where they have gotten comfortable doing business.

[7:30 p.m.]

I have nothing against that, but that is not our top priority. Our top priority - and I agree totally with what the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism said in this regard - is to ensure that Nova Scotians and Nova Scotia businesses have the first crack and have the best opportunity to obtain the work and the business. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, we have what they call sweet gas. It is very rich in the liquids and the liquids (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, this, quite honestly, does not throw me off at all, but what it does is it surprises me at the level at which many people in this House are so unconcerned or disinterested in the importance of developing the petroleum industry in this province, because this is not a matter to make light of. Ours is a very sweet gas and what that means is that it has a much higher percentage of the liquids, which are the most valuable components, than most gas. Our gas has about twice the amount of western gas.

Mr. Speaker, those, and some of the big players who have major petrochemical industries - and some of those companies that are our partners in the offshore have such large petrochemical industries - might say the developing of a petrochemical industry in Nova Scotia is not to their advantage. Why? If it is developed here by somebody else, that business here could be in competition with their business.

I am sure the honourable member for Guysborough would love to have, and even as much if not more than him, the constituents in the County of Guysborough would love to have a petrochemical industry located in his constituency, as would, I am sure, the people from Richmond and other parts of this province; they would love to have it.

Mr. Speaker, some may say that we do not have enough to be so-called world-class. Well, that depends on what you mean by world-class, doesn't? It depends on what you mean by world-class.

I made a mistake, Mr. Speaker, I said that the honourable member for Richmond would like to have a petrochemical industry in his area and he is telling me across the floor to speak for myself, so I am sure he will stand up later on and say that they want it or that he wants it. I would not want to imply from his comments across the floor that they do not want it.

Mr. Speaker, we have in this province not only a sweet gas, we also have far more natural gas offshore than we can begin to imagine. The amounts, when we are talking about them, they say that there is 3.5 trillion right now that is proven, and it is widely believed that we have a minimum of 18 trillion, and that is before you get into all kinds of other areas like

[Page 7112]

the Laurentian Shelf and so on. We have massive amounts. We have great salt domes in which natural gas and the liquids can be stored. That is an extremely valuable resource.

The Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, the honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, he knows about those salt domes. He knows, and he indicates across the floor he knows the importance of that for the development of a petrochemical industry in this province. What we have to do, and what we have not done as a province and the Liberals have not done as a government, is that we have to stand up and we have to start to play hardball, and maybe since the minister has a new assistant minister responsible in the petroleum directorate and a new director, maybe we will get some new direction.

Just because the big players offshore say that oh no, you haven't got enough, well I am sorry, others would disagree. We have far more to come, we have a much sweeter gas, and in addition to that, if we are short by small amounts, the liquids can be purchased from the ships that are travelling by our coast all the time, carrying those liquids at fire sale prices. We can augment what we have initially from that which is going by.

We have to start to take a proactive position and not only say that we are going to have legislation that says that we can do something, but we should start to be going out and actively shopping around and looking. I am not talking about putting taxpayers' dollars up, but trying to find out, put the feelers out seeking out companies that may be interested in coming in.

When we are talking about the liquids and the ethane, and the minister was quite correct talking about ethane, and how important that is as a feedstock for the petrochemical industry, but he knows as well as I that the plant that has yet to open in Goldboro, which is going to be doing the fractionation, that doesn't even have the scrubbers in it to take the ethane out. That would cost literally millions of dollars, possibly, I wouldn't want to begin to estimate because I don't know the amount, but it would require a whole new plant really to be built to remove that ethane.

Here we are saying that we have legislation that can require that a permit be provided in order for it to be removed, but we don't have the means to remove it. Do we have the ability to force those companies to put that plant in place to remove it? That is another question, a very important question. I am sure they would be happy to, if we want to pay for it, not likely.

When one takes a look at what we are getting so far, we don't have anything yet in the way of long-term real secure jobs. This is the gas, of course, that is coming from what is commonly referred to as the Sable project, the first that is coming on board or onshore, the SOEP, in which Nova Scotia has an 8.4 per cent ownership. The Minister of Natural Resources is a guardian of that through the Nova Scotia Resources Limited, a body which

[Page 7113]

has, by the end of this fiscal year, a debt that will be approaching $700 million, that we will not be receiving any monies from . . .

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Opposition House Leader is light years away from discussing third reading on this particular bill. I suggest that he stick to third reading of this bill. He is now into talking about NSRL, that has nothing to do with this bill.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I will try to explain the context for the minister. What I am trying to point out to the minister in his impatience is that we have a situation where we have major debts, we do not have the revenues coming in, we have the debts growing from NSRL, we are getting peanuts in royalties, and therefore . . .

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we are discussing third reading on this bill, not NSRL.

MR. HOLM: My point is this, for the honourable Minister of Economic Development, we are getting virtually nothing other than major debts. Therefore, it is crucially important that we put in place regimes that can actually ensure - because the government has not thought to do this before - that Nova Scotians are actually going to receive benefits from our offshore, in terms of developing jobs.

You know, Mr. Speaker, if we are able to put in place and to actually have the backbone to require that our resources and liquids be used here to create jobs in Nova Scotia, that means that those Nova Scotians will be earning incomes, paying taxes and helping to pay off the massive debts that have been run up, as well as helping to offset slightly the fact that we are getting such a miserly return for royalties.

Mr. Speaker, when the government accepted this very-generous-to-their-friends big oil royalty regime, they did so on the argument that that was going to be the catalyst to develop and create jobs in the Province of Nova Scotia. I am sure that the small businesses right across this province are anxiously looking for an opportunity to fairly compete, and I am sure that they anxiously want to do that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, when the bill first came in it had some very serious flaws. I think it is important to put on the record some of the important amendments and changes. I want to thank the minister, I want to acknowledge and appreciate - they are saying my appreciations to the member for Kings North who is the Petroleum Critic for the Third Party - because we were able (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I don't know, it is not bedtime yet, this is not Monday night either, is it? I thought it was Monday night, based on the reactions.

[Page 7114]

Mr. Speaker, when the bill was introduced there were major flaws in the legislation. The reason why I say that I wanted to thank the minister and the member for Kings North, quite truthfully, is that around this bill we were able to agree on what I believe are some very significant and important amendments and those changes need to be recognized. I also say that when I suggested some amendments and, in reality, and we certainly don't profess to have all the answers although sometimes the people opposite may think we do, there were some flaws in a particular amendment I had proposed. I will say, in fairness, that it was the member for Kings North who came forward with a suggested amendment that corrected the one that I had said. I freely acknowledge that that is where the suggestion came from in one of the particular amendments.

However, Mr. Speaker, when it came forward in the first place, the legislation stated that permits would be required to remove any of the petroleum products from the province. Then it went on to say that even though permits were required, Cabinet had the authority to exempt any product or any group of products, or of individuals, from requiring a permit. That had the effect of saying that although we had the legislation that said you could do it, it also gave Cabinet the authority to say that we do not have to follow anything.

[7:45 p.m.]

It states in the bill, as the minister did in his opening comments, that the granting of the permits and so on was to be done in the public interest of the people of Nova Scotia. Yet when the bill first came forward, there was no requirement that any of those permits or the applications would be made public. There was no requirement, Mr. Speaker, that if the minister asked for additional information, that that be made public or if a body appealed to the Utility and Review Board, that the decision of the URB be made public, or that the government's response to the URB's recommendations would be made public.

I want to say we have made major improvements here because the minister did agree that those permits, subject to - and properly the way it should be - the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, that the information contained in those permits and also, Mr. Speaker, regarding decisions of Cabinet and also the URB, that that information shall be made public. There is no better way to protect the public interest than to ensure that there is public access.

We also amended so that, yes, now permits are not going to be required for laying out specific points, specific items. However, it also lays out, Mr. Speaker, that Cabinet has the ability by regulation to still require permits for those items like methane gas. When the bill was first brought into the House, it laid out all kinds of areas where the Cabinet has the power to make regulations, but there was no requirement that those regulations have to come in by any set time.

[Page 7115]

Well, natural gas is supposed to reach shore by November 1st. I am sure if you were to check the Statutes of the province, you would discover that we have many pieces of legislation which require regulations, but that the regulations have never been put into effect or even adopted. Therefore, another important amendment that was made, that I had recommended, as those with the opening up and to make the public access process more open to the information, was that now - and I want to thank the staff, the lawyers within the Petroleum Directorate for their assistance in drafting these - the regulations that are required for this Act also have to come and be in place when this Act comes into force and now the legislation states that the Act comes into force on or before November 1, 1999.

In other words, Mr. Speaker, we will ensure that we have the ability to require that permits are available and that the regulations are in place by the time natural gas comes on shore. Now we have a framework and that is extremely important. We had, and I know the government does not like to be reminded of it, a Memorandum of Understanding. That Memorandum of Understanding went nowhere. I have been checking since December 1997, trying to find out which of the approximately 12 agreements would have to be reached as a result of this Memorandum of Understanding, trying to find out how many of those have been inked. What I have gotten in the way of a response consistently since that time is that we are working on it, we are very close, we have got agreements on most items but we are trying to do it as a package, but nothing comes forward. (Interruption) Oh it has a great deal to do with this bill.

One of the points that I think is also important that we raise and maybe, and then, maybe not, I may get a response to during the estimates debates has to do with the legal ability of Nova Scotia to do some of that which is contained in this bill. I am aware and I am certainly counting on and Nova Scotians are crossing their fingers and hoping and praying that the legal abilities and the legal opinions are there to support Nova Scotia's position on this bill because a Supreme Court decision back in 1983, ruled 11 to none that the offshore resources still, although we believe they are ours and we call them ours and I believe that they are ours, the Supreme Court said that they are still under the federal jurisdiction.

I am hoping and praying that the feds will back up the Province of Nova Scotia. I don't know if our Premier, with the great clout he has in Ottawa, has gotten the Prime Minister's assurances that they will make whatever amendments are necessary to state that those resources belong to us so that we can fulfil this Act or if there are legal opinions that would state that once it reaches the shore and the liquids and so on are being stripped out that automatically Nova Scotia has jurisdiction over them. The ethane is not to be stripped out and of course, the ethane is really the most valuable both in the feedstock and also as a fuel because it has the highest Btu value in that natural gas.

So I am hoping that the province has the legal opinion to say they can actually enforce this because I know from the presentation that was submitted to the Law Amendments Committee, that was questioned by CAPP. We have a lot riding on this, a great deal riding

[Page 7116]

on this. The best way to achieve what we wanted here would have been, had there been foresight, if when the Minister of Finance had been Minister of Natural Resources if he had at that time required that the companies wishing to develop make legal agreements binding them to do this kind of thing before they were given the permits to develop and explore in the first place because they would have been bound and then we had the biggest stick. That stick now has been shrinking.

As I am listening to some of the comments, I get the feeling that I should be somehow apologizing for taking some time on the floor of the House this evening to talk about the importance of developing petrochemical industries in the Province of Nova Scotia and for pushing to ensure we are developing jobs for Nova Scotians first, and business for Nova Scotian businesses first.

I say that I feel like maybe I should be apologizing for doing that because I am hearing from members on the government benches, hearing them heckling and critical of comments that are in support of programs and services and policies that would be aimed at doing that kind of thing. Quite honestly, whether somebody lives in the constituency of Sackville-Cobequid, or if they live in Timberlea-Prospect, or if they live in Yarmouth, or if they live in government members' ridings like Inverness and Sydney and Halifax Bedford Basin, regardless of where they live in this province, I believe that those people in those communities have a right, and I am not going to apologize for this, despite all the noise around me.

I am not going to apologize for standing up and demanding that the Government of Nova Scotia start to develop a backbone to ensure that we develop jobs in Nova Scotia and that we do not continually ship our valuable resources - and this is it for years, once this opportunity is gone. We didn't get the superport this time around, that had the potential to create massive numbers of jobs. We may yet be successful in getting a superport and the superships coming here and all the jobs.

Mr. Speaker, the petroleum industry is our best opportunity to ensure that we have jobs developed here for our men and women and for our children, long-term, secure jobs. Tell me, look into your crystal ball - not the same one that you used to look at your finances, not Merlin's - and tell me what other golden opportunity, what better opportunity do we have to be building our economic future on in this province, what better one and when will it come along again, in another 100 years?

I remember Gerry Regan standing up here - what was it? 1971-72 - with a little bottle of oil. Mr. Speaker, that's almost 30 years ago. We have reached this stage, and so far we have frittered away our best opportunities. (Interruptions) I shouldn't say we, I apologize for that one. They have frittered away, the red team on the Liberal benches.

[Page 7117]

We must be proactive. We must, and so, Mr. Speaker, as the minister is getting to his feet, as I conclude, I want to thank you and the members of this House for your patience, and tell them that I will be voting in support of this bill on third reading. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: All I can say is that I am sure glad he liked the bill and was supporting it (Laughter) because anybody who could talk so long and say so little. Mr. Speaker, I move that we adjourn debate on this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate on Bill No. 102. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, thank you, I am glad that he did adjourn debate, because I would hope that he would have an opportunity to speak to the bill on third reading, perhaps tomorrow.

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the House will meet between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Following the daily routine and Committee of the Whole House on Supply, I will continue with Bill No. 102.

I move that we adjourn.

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 are adjourned until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 8:00 p.m.]

[Page 7118]

NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

HOUSE ORDER NO. 6

By: Mr. John Leefe (Queens)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move that an order of this House do issue for a return showing, with respect to the Department of Health:

(1) All criteria used by the Department of Health to determine safe levels of pesticides in foodstuffs for human consumption.