Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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HALIFAX, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 1994



Fifty-sixth General Assembly



Second Session



8:00 A.M.



SPEAKER



Hon. Paul MacEwan



DEPUTY SPEAKER



Mr. Gerald O’Malley






MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will commence our sitting for Friday at this time. The first item
on the agenda is the daily routine.



PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am
directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:



Bill No. 119 - Motor Vehicle Act.



and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain
amendments.



MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



MR. SPEAKER: I beg leave to table the resignation of the Ombudsman, Dr. Guy MacLean, effective
immediately.



The report is tabled.



5185

 

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS



GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources.



RESOLUTION NO. 1139



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



Whereas November 25th has been declared International Day Against Violence Against Women and
is observed by member states of the Organization of American States, of which Canada is a member; and



Whereas November 25th was declared by Latin American women’s groups in memory of the Mirabal
sisters who were brutally tortured and murdered for their social and political activism in the Dominican
Republic in 1960; and November 25th also marks the beginning of a period known as the 16 Days of Activism
Against Gender Violence, an ongoing international campaign by women’s groups around the world to
strengthen the movement for women’s human rights; and



Whereas in Nova Scotia November 25th marks the beginning of an annual Purple Ribbon Campaign
culminating on December 6th when we will commemorate Canada’s national day of remembrance and action
on violence against women; and we recognize the gains which have been made, including the U.N.
Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, December 1993, and the Inter-American
Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women, April 1994; we will
need only to look at our local newspapers to see that violence against women has not yet been eliminated here
in Nova Scotia or around the world;



Therefore be it resolved that all members support the movement to end violence against women
through personal commitment, organizational support and community action, and that we make our
commitment known by wearing a purple ribbon.



Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver of notice.



Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried. (Applause)



INTRODUCTION OF BILLS



NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 1140



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



Whereas a remark by a provincial court judge this week during a trial of a 42 year old man who was
found guilty of sexual assault against three female minors showed contempt for women throughout our
province; and



Whereas Judge Donald [See p.5188] Matheson’s comment as he made his decision, “If these were
35-year-old women that (the accused) had done this to, I might smile and throw this out of court”, proves that
there is a great deal of work to be done with attitudinal change; and



Whereas while the judge convicted the offender, his further excuse for the accused was that, “he may
have been having a bit of a bad spell at the time”, is inexcusable;



Therefore be it resolved that because so many in this province are disillusioned with our justice
system already that the Justice Minister, following the inquiry by the Provincial Court Chief Judge, ensure
that justice is done.



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



MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice which requires unanimous consent.



Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried. (Applause)



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 1141



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



Whereas the pirate flag is widely known as the Jolly Roger; and



Whereas the Premier has been taken aback by the mutiny of a minister whose name rhymes with
holly; and



Whereas Nova Scotians must be witnessing mutiny on the Hollis Street because the Premier claims
that the Jolly Roger was hoisted in his absence;



Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should post a list of mutinous ministers known to be acting
without authority for the benefit of municipalities and any others who might otherwise make the mistake of
believing a Liberal Cabinet Minister’s statements.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, and for the edification perhaps of
the House, on the previous worthy motion posed by the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition. We
might check the name of the judge, I believe it was incorrect and that may be important.



MR. SPEAKER: Is the name of the judge . . .



DR. STEWART: I think he said Donald, just to be clear.



MR. SPEAKER: Will the Clerk please correct that in the record. Thank you.



[Resolution No. 1140 was altered to read Judge Lewis Matheson.]



The honourable member for Pictou West.



RESOLUTION NO. 1142



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



Whereas Parliament has designated throughout Canada, in each and every year, December 6th as
the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women; and



Whereas the Women’s Action Coalition of Nova Scotia has designated the 14 days leading up to
December 6th as a time of remembrance for the 14 women killed in Montreal and as a time to raise awareness
of violence against women; and



Whereas violence assaults women every day in their homes, on the streets and at work;



Therefore be it resolved that all Nova Scotians recognize and take action against this blight in our
society and raise awareness by wearing a purple ribbon to commemorate the victims of violence in our
community and throughout Canada.



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



MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice which requires unanimous consent.



Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Pictou Centre.



RESOLUTION NO. 1143



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



Whereas the federal government has laid down the gauntlet to Canadians to develop a social
framework for the future; and



Whereas Nova Scotians have demonstrated that they believe change is necessary and are willing to
support reasoned change; and



Whereas Nova Scotians who will be deeply affected by this reform must make their voices heard and
put forth their suggestions and recommendations in order to provide a well-rounded shape to that reform;



Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians pick up the gauntlet and make a discerning and
convincing representation of their perspective of a social framework that is effective not only for Nova
Scotians but for all Canadians.



MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice which requires unanimous consent.



Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



RESOLUTION NO. 1144



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



Whereas hospital accreditation standards list as essential the position of trauma team leader available
24 hours a day, within 20 minutes; and



Whereas the Emergency Health Services Plan, Metropolitan Area Emergency Services report and
health reform require a tertiary 24 hour adult trauma centre at the VG, so trauma patients don’t depend on
the luck of the draw; and



Whereas the Minister of Health describes his refusal to approve a trauma team leader position as a
clinical difference and ignores the fact that, as a result, surgeons trained to deal with trauma will not
necessarily be available;






Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health should act upon the many recommendations and
the accreditation standards which make it clear that the optimal life-saving care of an adult trauma centre at
the Victoria General Hospital can only be realized if the team leader position is approved and filled.



[8:15 a.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 1145



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



Whereas the second Metropolitan Economic Summit will be held in Halifax this weekend, November
25 and 26, 1994; and



Whereas participants recognize the need for a more cooperative approach to economic development
in metro; and



Whereas building on the overwhelming success of the first ever Metropolitan Economic Summit held
last November in Halifax, this year’s participants will focus on joint action;



Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature applaud the organizers of the Metropolitan
Economic Summit and follow their leadership in demonstrating positive economic activity for the region.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Pictou West.



RESOLUTION NO. 1146



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



Whereas the president and chief operating officer of a leading Nova Scotia grocery retailer has been
honoured with a national award for his innovation and introductions to advances in technology; and



Whereas Doug Stewart, who is a constituent of mine, of Sobeys Inc. has also been recognized for
developing the role of brokers and consultants and promoting the enhanced cooperation among manufacturers,
retailers and wholesalers; and



Whereas it is because of the dedication and hard work put forth by individuals such as Doug Stewart
that Sobeys Inc. is able to employ the thousands of individuals they do across Atlantic Canada and Ontario;



Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature commend Doug Stewart for winning the
Food Industry Association of Canada’s 1994 Knight of the Golden Pencil Award.



Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice which requires unanimous consent.



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 Kings North.



RESOLUTION NO. 1147



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



Whereas the Minister of Health is allowed to circumvent the government rules when he wishes; and



Whereas the Minister of Municipal Affairs has become a walking disaster in recent weeks yet is
allowed to remain within the government’s inner circle; and



Whereas despite standing up and defending the rights of individuals who elected him to this
Legislature, the member for Cape Breton West was turfed out of government caucus;



Therefore be it resolved that the Premier explain to Nova Scotians today why he is operating under
two sets of rules; a strict disciplinary code for back bench MLAs, yet members of Cabinet are allowed to wheel
and deal to their heart’s content.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 1148



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



Whereas the Liberals proclaimed that ministerial responsibility would be the fundamental principle
and crowning achievement of their Civil Service hiring; and



Whereas the Liberals saw no need for an independent, arm’s length agency with a statutory
responsibility to ensure open competitions and merit-based hiring; and



Whereas the Premier specifically promised “fairness in government”, “opening up access to
government” with “tough measures” to “hire and promote on the basis of individual ability . . . fairly and
equitably”;



Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should explain to every potential applicant -male, female,
black, white, yellow, red, able or disabled - why in his view it would be perfectly fair for his Liberal
Government to deny them any opportunity to apply for the position of Human Resource Development
Coordinator.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



RESOLUTION NO. 1149



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



Whereas the Provincial Health Council’s Annual Report demonstrated anew this week the value of
an independent watchdog to oversee the effect of Nova Scotia’s health goals and further reform measures; and



Whereas the Health Minister told this House in very certain terms that his reforms are precisely those
measures outlined in the Blueprint Report that he commissioned; and



Whereas that report recommends a specific, ongoing role for the Provincial Health Council to
monitor the health reform plan laid out in the blueprint;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Health Minister to affirm the importance of
independent monitoring of health reform and regular public reports by the Provincial Health Council.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 1150



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



Whereas on Monday, His Excellency the Governor General will present Medals of Bravery to the
draegermen who participated in rescue efforts at the Westray coal mine; and



Whereas the draegermen went underground during those terrible days with the support and prayers
of Nova Scotians and Canadians; and



Whereas these draegermen exemplify the best standards of bravery and solidarity among workers,
and the medal presentation itself is due in large part to the solidarity and persistence of family members such
as Shirley Day-Comish;



Therefore be it resolved that on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Nova Scotians so many others
who cannot be present at Sharon United Church in Stellarton for Monday’s ceremony, this House affirms its
own congratulations and thanks to each draegermen and their loved ones for the courage they demonstrated
during rescue efforts following the Westray coal mine disaster.



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



MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice which requires unanimous consent.



Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried. (Applause)



That concludes the daily routine and we will advance to Orders of the Day.



ORDERS OF THE DAY



GOVERNMENT BUSINESS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



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



PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 124.



Bill No. 124 - Maintenance Enforcement Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The debate was adjourned by the honourable Leader of the Opposition. He has, I
believe, approximately 20 minutes remaining.



The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I don’t expect that I will require the remaining 20
minutes available to me to conclude my remarks in relation to this legislation. I had the opportunity, in my
remarks last night, to say pretty much everything I wanted, including and I repeat, my sincerest of
compliments to the Minister of Justice for coming forward with a very important piece of legislation and one
which I am absolutely convinced will redound to the long-term economic stability of thousands of women and
children who are the payees under existing and future maintenance payment orders. I think the legislation
has just so much to recommend it.



My recollection is that as I closed last night, I was raising a potential concern, or at least an issue,
which I was inviting the Minister of Justice to at least review, and that was the matter of allowing, as this
legislation does, Mr. Speaker, the director established here to have access to joint accounts, accounts in
connection with which the payor, under an existing maintenance order, is the owner of a joint account.



There are situations, as I pointed out last night, where there might, as a result of business
connections, be joint accounts and debtor x is also a payor under a maintenance order and x may be a partner
of y and there may be monies in a joint account. I am sure the minister has no intention of disadvantaging the
innocent party in this case, the business partner y, in a way that the director could have access to the joint
account, because x’s name is there as a joint owner of the account. So, I think that issue has to be looked at.



A similar, virtually identical, kind of situation where we could have accounts of what we might refer
to as accounts of convenience. It may be that there is a joint account opened in the name of the debtor, the
person who owed the obligation on the maintenance order, say, with that person’s mother, father, infirm aunt
or uncle, or any other person. And, in fact, the account is really, as much as anything, a trust account more
so than a straight regular joint banking account.



I would, therefore, again in that context, urge the Minister of Justice to consult with his officials to
see that we do not allow the director to have an authority which would enable him or her to have access to that
kind of an account in order, ostensibly, or with the purported intention of responding to or acting upon a
maintenance order but at the same time find that we are, in effect, disenfranchising an elderly or infirm parent
or relative of the payor. So some real care has to be taken to ensure that the director has the right instructions,
has the right information or, more to the point, does not exercise an authority which unfairly and under the
guise of responding to the maintenance order, in effect absconds with or scoops up monies which are in fact
not really those of the debtor on the default order.



We have the other situation, too, and I am sure from a practical point of view, information being
made available to the director, there will be those situations where there may well be joint accounts. In the
event, for instance, as an example, that the debtor, the payor, under an existing maintenance order, perhaps
following divorce, would remarry and there may be the possibility of a joint account with the new spouse and
that the amounts of money in that joint account with the new spouse are as much intended for the use and
enjoyment of the new spouse and/or children. Again I think we have to be awfully careful that we do not allow
the director to adversely impact upon the legitimate rights of the new spouse and children in the event that
there is such a joint account.



I have not had an awful lot of opportunity to conduct the research that I should have in this
connection but there is a piece of legislation of which I am sure the Minister of Justice is aware, known as the
Tenancies and Distress for Rent Act. That has an impact on the force and application of garnishee. Now it
is not a matter that is likely to fret the Minister of Justice terribly often but if I can find the right reference,
well, I guess for today’s purposes, suffice it to say this to the Minister of Finance, that under the Tenancies
and Distress for Rent Act, there are certain exemptions set out whereby certain things simply are, by an
existing law, not able to be attached by way of garnishee order. They are set out basically in Section 9(1) in
the Tenancies and Distress for Rent Act under a section called, “Exemption from distress for rent, . . . Goods
brought upon or into any building used as a market bona fide for the purpose of sale, by any person or persons,
not being the property of the tenant, or property in which the tenant is interested, shall be exempt from
distress for rent and also any articles which shall at any time by any Act of the Legislature be declared exempt
from levy under execution.”.



Then there are some further exemptions set out, Section 9(2)(a), “the necessary wearing apparel,
beds, bedding and bedsteads . . . “, and so on. Then, admittedly, when the Minister of Justice looks at this,
he will be told, I am sure, by his officials, that the legislation is so old that it may not have language in it
which is really all that relevant in today’s contemporary society. But, I do simply raise the issue and ask, in
the course of this bill going forward now to the Law Amendments Committee and then back to us through
the other processes here in this place, that he ask his officials to take a look with him at the Tenancies and
Distress for Rent Act. As I say, notwithstanding the fact that the provisions in Tenancies and Distress for Rent
setting out, as they do, some very interesting but rather arcane exemptions, it is the law.



[8:30 a.m.]



It occurs to me that we might want to have the Minister of Justice discuss with his officials the
possibility that some reference, at least to the Tenancies and Distress for Rent Act is made in this legislation.
Just simply so that we avoid the possibility of an unnecessary confusion and what could, later, turn into a
time-consuming and costly legal dispute if certain things were attempted to be executed upon under a
garnishee order by the director established here in Bill No. 124 and then have somebody cite, by way of
defence, the Tenancies and Distress for Rent Act. Then we would be unnecessarily, I think, moving, in the
cases I am visualizing in my mind, a needy spouse, a needy woman and/or children, into an unnecessary legal
hassle which we could do without and certainly they could do without.



Mr. Speaker, as I said, I had an opportunity to get a little bit into high gear last night and have 40-some minutes of opportunity to make some remarks. I repeat again, I really think that while I am sure as we
hear representations at Law Amendments and have a further few days to review this legislation, we may well
find that there are some language changes or modest refinements that are necessary, but by way of principle,
I really believe that the principle established by this bill is an absolutely sound one.



I repeat what I said last night, it is not the case, it is simply not the case that every person who falls
into arrears relative to maintenance payments is, therefore, by definition a deadbeat. But it is in fact the truth
that, and I know all honourable members who are dealing with family situations in their own constituencies
will know it to be true, there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people, virtually all of them men,
who just simply flout the judicial system. Flout the order requiring them to pay maintenance and have little
or no regard for the adverse consequences which befall the spouse or payee under the maintenance order. The
payee or payees can be and often are not only spouses or common law wives and adult women but that they
can be children as well. We just simply cannot allow, I think in terms of the zero tolerance line that is in
vogue and has currency, and rightly so, in connection with family violence matters. I think we have a long
way to go there and we will, hopefully, before this session ends have an opportunity to come back to that issue,
because I think we do have a long way to go.



I don’t want to get off the track but the resolution which I introduced here today, Mr. Speaker, and
I should repeat my thanks to the Minister of Health for helping me with the appropriate correction and I think
it is important for the record and that was my error. But if we have judges sitting on the benches of the
Province of Nova Scotia who can get off lines such as Judge Lewis Matheson actually did in cases such as he
was dealing with here in regard to sexual assault, then I say to the Minister of Justice - and I know he knows
this, but I say it to encourage and not to criticize - we have a long way to go. I know there is this fine line,
there is this difficult role because I was in the position myself before. There is this difficult role as to just
where the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General, fits relative to telling judges what to do and how to do
their job. But I am firmly of the view that there is absolutely nothing wrong at all with a Minister of Justice
or an Attorney General, with the help of his senior people, convening seminars and workshops and
discussions involving the judiciary and involving experts in the field of sentencing and family violence and
maintenance and so on.



I would, therefore, if I may, put the thought in the Minister of Justice’s mind, and it may well be there
already from his own sense of the way things are unfolding in the province or from discussions with his
officials. But I don’t think there is anything at all wrong with the Minister of Justice prompted, even alone
by the remarks made by Judge Matheson in the case before him, subject - in fairness to everybody involved -
to the judicial inquiry which I trust will be undertaken by the Provincial Court judge, and expeditiously so,
that the Minister of Justice find a means to convene appropriate meetings of all the judiciary of this province
and just have some very frank talks with them. Not by way of telling them what particular sentence must be
imposed in any case, in any given factual situation, but it occurs to me that if this kind of language can come
from any jurist in the Province of Nova Scotia in 1994, then we have a lot of sensitivity training that is
necessary. I urge the minister to move in that regard.



The same, I think, may well be said relative to Bill No. 124 and the minister indicated, when he
moved second reading, that it was intentional, that the effective outside implementation date is about 13
months from now. He explained why, and I accept his explanation because there is a great deal of
administrative and mechanical and logistical work that needs to be done. But I would very seriously urge the
Minister of Justice, Mr. Speaker, to consider that during the course of that 13 months, one of the steps taken
to ensure the effective and forceful implementation of Bill No. 124 that he might well consider is the
convening of appropriate conferences or seminars with the judiciary, so that they understand this legislation
chapter and verse but, more important, that they understand - as I am sure most of them intuitively do, but
reminders are never unhelpful - the force and the vigour with which this legislation is and should be enforced.



We just simply cannot allow, any longer, anybody in this province who is, on the basis of court order,
the subject of a maintenance order requiring payment to needy spouse and/or children, to walk away from that
obligation. It is probably, when one thinks of it, one of the most offensive actions or attitudes on the part of
anybody to walk away from a maintenance obligation to spouse and to children. I urge the minister to consider
the possibility of some very serious information and sensitivity sessions with his staff and with the judiciary
between now and the time that the Act does, in fact, take force.



With those remarks - I hope some of which have been even modestly helpful - I say again to the
Minister of Justice, I applaud him for coming forward with what I think is a tremendous advance in the field
of maintenance order enforcement and I truly believe that in rather short order, we are going to find that the
circumstances of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of women and children in this province, who have a legal right
to be provided for by spouses and former spouses, will, in fact, realize their legal rights, in a way and more
effectively and more expeditiously, than has been the case under the present regime.






So, I will certainly be supporting this bill, Mr. Speaker, in second reading and I am supporting it,
not only as it is sometimes said in this place, so that we can get it into the Law Amendments Committee, I
am supporting it because I support the principle. I believe fervently that the principle is right and I look
forward to the Law Amendments Committee discussion and the discussion at the further stages back here,
where, quite possibly, we might find some modest language change which will strengthen the document and
strengthen the principle of the legislation and strengthen its likely enforcement even that much more. I have
no hesitation in supporting Bill No. 124 and encourage all members of this Legislature to do likewise. Thank
you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased rise to enter the debate on Bill No. 124,
that is now before the House, An Act to Provide for the Enforcement of Payments Under Maintenance Orders.



The first reason I am pleased to have an opportunity to rise and speak to this bill, is because we
finally have such a bill before this House, and it has been a very long time coming indeed. I do not think there
is any law, maybe someone else who has been involved more directly in the practice of law can suggest
otherwise, but I do not know of any law that exists in this province that has been as basically flaunted and
ignored and outright violated with as much frequency and with as dire consequences, as the existing
provisions for enforcing maintenance orders to women and dependant children.



Mr. Speaker, I have to say that, as pleased as I am that the government has brought this bill forward,
and I congratulate the minister for finally bringing such a bill forward, I am very disappointed on two
particular points. The first is that I found it somewhat disappointing, I do not want to dwell unduly on this
point, but I found it disappointing that the Minister of Justice, when he made his comments on introducing
this bill yesterday, really devoted more attention, seem to give more priority to the importance of this piece
of legislation from the point of view of saving taxpayers money in this long run, than he did stressing that this
bill, if it is properly enforced, and I would say, at least from my perspective and I think that of a lot of other
people with a great deal of painful, personal experience with maintenance order defaulting, that this bill has
the potential to eliminate incredible amounts of suffering that women and children have endured
unnecessarily for a very long time.



It seems to me that it is appropriate on the occasion of our bringing in such a bill that we
acknowledge what the dereliction of duty on the part of successive governments has caused in the way of pain
and suffering, distress and trauma to families for a very long time. Nobody would argue with the point that
the Minister of Justice made when he introduced this legislation, and he said, why should taxpayers shoulder
the burden of a parent who defaults on court ordered maintenance.



Nobody would say that that is not a fair point and, certainly, there is immense evidence that there
is a very heavy price being paid by the government, which means automatically by taxpayers, for unenforced
maintenance orders. But surely the essence of this legislation, surely the reason for it, surely the main point
to be made about it is that we finally are bringing in a piece of legislation which is capable of putting an end,
if not an end a very significant improvement, in terms of the amount of unnecessary and prolonged suffering
that so many women and children in this province have endured.






[8:45 a.m.]



Mr. Speaker, it was certainly very timely and topical that as the Minister of Justice here in Nova
Scotia was introducing this legislation on second reading yesterday, the federal Justice Minister, Allan Rock,
was addressing the Family Law Division of the Canadian Bar Association. I, of course, don’t know what the
entirety of his presentation was, and I want to say that I have admired the proactive position he has taken in
speaking out on some of these issues. I think that where that kind of positive initiative is being taken, it
deserves to be acknowledged by people of all political stripes and I have no hesitation about saying that.



But I couldn’t help but think, again, that it perhaps says more about why governments have finally
begun to deal with this problem, that they are feeling the financial pressures than that they have begun to
finally understand the immense financial pressures and hardship and all of the other adverse consequences
for the women and children who have been bearing the burden of unenforced maintenance orders for so very
long.



In this article with a screaming headline, and I am glad it is there and is going to attract attention,
but in an article today in the Chronicle-Herald, “Deadbeat parents cost feds $1.5 billion”. Again, the amount
of financial hardship that has been borne by so many families seems to take second place to the cost that has
been borne by the public purse in the form of social assistance and maintenance payments to families because
of default payments in court-ordered maintenance.



Mr. Speaker, nobody can minimize the cost to taxpayers, that is for certain, and in the address that
federal Justice Minister, Allan Rock made to the Canadian Bar, Family Law Division, he sets it out pretty
clearly, “If child support payments handed down by the courts were enforced, the federal government would
save more than $1.5 billion a year in welfare and other social assistance,”. He went on to say, “It’s a very good
investment to enforce what the courts have already ordered,”.



Again, Mr. Speaker, it seems so kind of crass, in a way, that what has finally brought governments
to the point of dealing with this unimaginable problem, is that they cannot figure out how to go on filling in
the void and paying for it instead of squarely seeing that what this policy needs to be about, what an
aggressive maintenance enforcement program needs to be about, is addressing the issue of child poverty,
addressing the issue of the amount of suffering that is endured by a great many women who have had the onus
and the burden on their own shoulders to fight for every scrap of maintenance that ought to have been their
due, that, in fact, was established as the law of the land, that court orders clearly established that it would be
a violation of the law if the supporting parent did not maintain their financial obligations to their family.



Yet this law has been taken so lightly that there has been very little clout behind any attempt to
enforce those maintenance payments and the result, of course, has been that women have gone through the
nightmare of really a revolving door. I think it is an accurate sort of picture except somehow it has to be that
of a revolving door and a log-jam at the same time. Anybody knows what it looks like when you get a lot of
women and children trying to go through a revolving door all at once, you have an awful problem on your
hands.



What we have done is lived with and tolerated and failed to address the unbelievable spectacle of
women who often have been faced with a marital breakdown have been faced with single parenthood in the
first instance because of physical violence or mental harassment or the threat of violence, have had to bear
the burden of taking it upon themselves to try to go after the maintenance payments that their children’s father
has failed to pay in any voluntary sense but also failed to pay even when the court has ordered them to do so.
What other law, Mr. Speaker, is left to the people affected, really the victims, in the instance of default
payments, to enforce themselves?



So, Mr. Speaker, I would very much applaud the government and the Minister of Justice for finally
dealing with this matter by at least bringing in legislation that gets us on the right track. I think my
disappointment is that perhaps it would have been appropriate on this occasion to express a kind of public
apology to all of those families who have suffered because we have been so slow and so reluctant to bring in
the kind of aggressive, effective maintenance enforcement legislation and policies that would have put an end
to this suffering long ago.

 

 

Mr. Speaker, I referred to Justice Minister Allan Rock’s address yesterday to the Family Law Division
of the Canadian Bar Association. I cannot help, before passing on to another point, but also draw attention
to the concluding paragraph in that newspaper account of the Justice Minister’s presentation to the family law
section. I cannot help but refer to that paragraph because of its timeliness and its, regrettably, relevance to the
very shocking comments made here in this province by a judge in dealing with a sexual assault case involving
three teenagers.



It has, unfortunately, already achieved considerable notoriety, that a judge in our Family Court, who
is responsible to apply the law equally, who supposedly sits on a bench that has gone through a process of
becoming sensitized and being dragged into the 20th Century in terms of attitudes toward women, has been
prepared to make a comment in the court that shakes the confidence, I think not just of every woman in this
province, but every Nova Scotian as to whether we have really learned anything from the shocking revelations
about not just the degree of sexual assault in our midst but the extent to which that has been overlooked and
tolerated by both law enforcement officers and by the judiciary. Also, to have a judge who would stand in his
court and make the comment that the instance of sexual assault against a 35 year old woman might have
brought nothing but a smile and a dismissal but that he was prepared to be a little tougher when it came to
sexual assault on teenagers is a completely unacceptable attitude that results in completely unacceptable
practices and is a very dangerous message to be delivering to a courtroom, a very dangerous precedent to set
and a very dangerous thing to establish as an acceptable norm in this jurisdiction or any other. For that reason,
Mr. Speaker, I am very glad that this House has solidly gone on record as demanding that a judicial review
be held of that unacceptable statement by that judge.



So, Mr. Speaker, I think federal Justice Minister Allan Rock’s suggestion to the Family Law Division
of the Canadian Bar Association was certainly a very relevant one, the suggestion that is reported here in this
newspaper article that there be a training centre established for Family Court judges. I don’t necessarily
endorse the idea that a family training centre that would be located in one particular situation is the answer
to this problem but I think what is important and to be welcomed is to have a Justice Minister federally, and
also to be fair to the Justice Minister here in Nova Scotia, he very quickly went on record as acknowledging
that the comments that are attributed to Judge Matheson - and I guess there doesn’t seem to be any question
about whether he made the comments, they are a statement of fact - that they were unacceptable and that they
needed to be addressed. So at least we are making some kind of progress, in regard to both these unacceptable
attitudes and the practices that have too long been tolerated that have been based on those attitudes.



Mr. Speaker, I mentioned I was disappointed when the minister brought in the legislation, that the
sort of first message that seemed to come through was the importance of this legislation because it would lift
some of the financial burden off taxpayers who have, for too long, been paying for the defaulted maintenance
payments of what have euphemistically become referred to a deadbeat dads. That is a fact, there is no question
about it, the incidence of default is absolutely unbelievable and there have been many women who have not
only suffered under it but many organizations and groups on behalf of women that have been lobbying for a
very long time to have this matter addressed.



I think it is fair to say over time that when they have failed to get the government to move, on the
strength of the arguments about the pain and suffering and about how this would be good prevention, in terms
of ensuring that families could live with a little higher degree of economic security and that children would
not be suffering from inadequate nutrition or not having what they require to ensure they could participate
in their community life or be properly equipped to go to school with the education materials or whatever they
needed, none of the arguments about why this was so important for women and children seemed to be getting
anywhere.



So, Mr. Speaker, it is now many years since various groups, on behalf of those women and children
who have been suffering, began to document what the incidence was of default payments and what the costs
were associated with the very high degree of default. But I think what is disappointing, not only about the
tenor in which this matter is finally being addressed, but also what is disappointing about what this
government has done in bringing in this particular piece of legislation, is that the government has really
backed away from a couple of the things that would give us a truly effective maintenance enforcement system.



Now I listened carefully to the minister’s arguments and I listened carefully to the interventions by
the Leader of the Official Opposition as well, and I don’t disagree that there has to be a concern, to make sure
that all of those who have a responsibility to pay maintenance are not branded and labelled as deadbeat dads
when there certainly are a good many people who do conscientiously and dutifully fulfil the maintenance
orders that the courts have brought in.



[9:00 a.m.]



I have a very difficult time, Mr. Speaker, with the decision that the government has made to decide
that it is so critically important that we not allow the conscientious maintenance enforcement payors in any
way, shape or form, to feel that they are being somehow coerced, that they are made to feel that there
somehow is the strong arm of the law being used to ensure that they honour and fulfil their maintenance
payments such that that preoccupation and their particular interests have been allowed to override and
overrule what ought to, in my mind, have been even more important, ought to have taken an even higher
priority. That is to bring in maintenance enforcement provisions that would be targeted, first and foremost,
at ensuring that the pain and suffering of families who are on the short end of the stick, who are faced with
the default situation, that their interests come first.



Mr. Speaker, I am not insensitive to the notion that Legislatures and lawmakers should try to find
a solution to a social problem or a family problem or a legal problem, in the least intrusive way possible, that
can be found and still get the job done. But I personally think, and I am not alone in this, that the decision
of this government to backslide from what was contained in the earlier draft of the legislation, with respect
to the opting out provision, is very disappointing. Because I think it is fair to say that the overwhelming
evidence has been on the side of ensuring not only that the filing of maintenance orders is mandatory, but also
recognizing that when you provide for an opting out element in that legislation, then you open up a lot of
problems that are going to continue to cause pain and suffering for a great many people that could have been
avoided.



The Minister of Justice has cited the Law Reform Commission recommendations as one of the major
authorities for this legislation. I want to commend the Law Reform Commission for the important work that
they have done. And the Law Reform Commission, it is true, acknowledged that with written consent that
there should be permission, with written consent of both parties to a maintenance order, that there should be
the opportunity to opt out.



Let me say, Mr. Speaker, that I think the arguments that have been advanced by the Advisory
Council on the Status of Women and by a good many other bodies, as well, that have done in-depth research
on this issue, are very compelling and very persuasive. I don’t really hear from the minister any argument that
gives me confidence that the rights and the needs of those children and women who will be victimized by this
opting out provision have been given the kind of consideration that they deserve.



I want to refer, Mr. Speaker, to the brief that was submitted by the Advisory Council on the Status
of Women to the government on this whole matter of mandatory filing of maintenance orders and the whole
question of opting out provisions. Let me say before I refer to that and I would be happy to table it, I don’t
know whether anyone else has, it is a very excellent brief. It is not just a bunch of opinions that have been put
on paper by a well-meaning group. It is not a position put forward that is just based on a certain point of view.
It is a very solid position put forward on the basis of extensive research and documentation. What that
research and documentation shows is that there are a number of reasons why providing for parties to opt out
of this legislation is not a good idea.



In the first place, I think what it does is it communicates a certain kind of message that is very
unfortunate. It sort of says, well, maintenance orders are a law not like any other law and that if two parties
agree to sort of escape the tightest legal framework that we can provide for, then that is fine. Then what it says
is, if one of those parties is experiencing hardship as a result of that opting out, then the onus is on that person
to then get a reversal of that decision and everything will be fine.



There are a number of problems with that. I think in addition to the sort of wrong message about it,
it is sort of the idea that, well, all our other laws are really important to respect and understand but in this case
there is a notion that, we’ll leave it to a completely voluntary system and then if people don’t fully comply with
the order, then we will begin to do something about it.



But let me tell you, and I don’t want to overly dramatize this, but I am just one of thousands and
thousands of women, and in every instance there are men on the other side of this dynamic, whose marriage
broke up and who experienced that process - and there are many other people in this House as well - that
experienced the process of just trying to figure out how to get through this, how to try to settle things in a fair
way and get on with one’s life.



I have to say that there is a process of making a lot of decisions, in that instance, which isn’t
necessarily characterized by foresight and total rationality and really responsible far-sighted considerations.
It is a process that is fraught with an incredible amount of emotional wrangling, a lot of upset and a lot of
people make a lot of decisions in that process that are influenced by the very same factors, the very same
pressures, that resulted in the breakdown of the marriage in the first place.



So, if there are problems with the self-perception of the woman in that situation, which is very often
the case, then there is a kind of sense of failure and a sense of not wanting to bring that any more to light than
it already is. So, it is not that difficult to understand why women faced with that situation would say, well,
I would rather opt out of any automatic registering with the director and there being an automatic process
whereby the maintenance orders will be enforced.



Mr. Speaker, it is that much more difficult for women faced with possible intimidation, various kinds
of pressures that can be brought to bear, and let’s keep in mind that statistically in a society where there still
are a great many women that are in an inferior position economically to their male partners, then pressures
can be brought to bear. When we are talking about the problem of maintenance orders being enforced, the very
issue of economic dependency is at the heart of it.



When you have, in addition to those pressures, in far too many instances - this is not paranoia, this
isn’t hysteria, this is a reality - the fact of physical violence, emotional harassment and the threat of violence,
then it is all the more understandable that there are women who would say, it leaves me at the mercy of those
same forces to put in an opting out provision and in far too many cases, the easier thing for a woman to do
in the instance of intimidation, and harassment threats and so on is to say that I will opt out and at least that
is one thing that I can agree to and get the male partner to stop pressuring me around that.



Mr. Speaker, I want to refer to the brief that the Advisory Council on the Status of Women has
submitted to the government, because some of their arguments are just extremely well put. The first point that
they were making was in response to any suggestion about possible constitutional challenges to a mandatory
enforcement system. The Advisory Council states their concurrence with the National Association of Women
in the Law and the position that they have put forward, namely that the state interest in eliminating poverty
for the collective of women and children supersedes the state interest in protecting the privacies of an
individual. They go on to say that yes, the least intrusive means that can be found to get the job done is what
should be embraced, but it recognizes that there are very good reasons for making the system completely
mandatory and not allowing for opting out on the basis of parties reaching mutual consent.



The reason, Mr. Speaker, they have documented with very sound evidence and arguments. In some
jurisdictions, defaults have been as high as 60 per cent to 75 per cent. They cite a national study where it was
determined that only two-thirds of women receive their payments regularly and only 54 per cent receive them
either on time or usually on time. They go on to say there is also evidence to show that areas with higher
unemployment and economic distress may have increased numbers of defaulters and, to state the obvious,
Nova Scotia would come into that category.



The most important part, it seems to me, of that brief that regrettably the Minister of Justice and his
government appear to have ignored, decided to reject, are the arguments around the whole basis for opting
out. A woman may agree to the non-filing of the order for all kinds of reasons, many of which may not be in
her best interest. It seems to me that they have put the case in a manner that is very hard to avoid dealing with
when they say, in what kinds of situations would we imagine in which it would not be in the mother’s interest
to have the court order registered and the enforcement of it made automatic?



There is considerable evidence that the incidence of maintenance enforcement in the early years, for
example, after the dissolution of a relationship or a marriage is very much more satisfactory both in terms of
frequency and in terms of levels of payment and you can imagine that that would be so but, the longer the time
that expires, then the less likely, statistically, that the maintenance order is going to be kept or fully observed.



So, Mr. Speaker, to provide for a situation where a woman in good faith says, well, I am going to opt
out on the front end, ignores the reality that with the passage of time it is less and less likely that the
maintenance order is going to be fully enforced.



[9:15 a.m.]



The Justice Minister may very well rise to his feet and say, well that is no problem. You can just opt
back in. But there are many situations in which women are not likely to do that because of the pressures that
will be brought to bear. In any case, Mr. Speaker, it creates the situation where the woman has to really revisit
that whole situation. It seems to me what is desirable at the point of establishing the court order is to provide
for a situation where the enforcement will be automatic. Otherwise it communicates the message that it will
require further steps, further initiatives from the family affected in order to have it be dealt with.



I know, Mr. Speaker, that one of the things that has been applauded about that opting out is the idea
that really it should be a decision that two people make in which the state does not need to become involved
and ought not to become involved, unless there is good reason to do so. But the federal Justice Minister
himself, in addressing the family law section yesterday, acknowledged that it is a very serious problem that
people do not even realize what the implications are of opting out. As the Advisory Council documented, in
Ontario, for example, where support orders are automatically entered into the system, unless the person
receiving the support specifically opts out, only 39 per cent of those who were not using the enforcement
system said that they had opted out.



In other words, they did not realize what it meant to have opted out. Half of the non-users said that
they had not opted out and the remaining 11 per cent were unsure about whether they had opted out or not.
To state the obvious, Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of confusion about this. Most of the women who are on record
as having opted out did not do so with a clear understanding of what the implications are.



The Advisory Council goes on to argue, this is of enormous significance in planning a maintenance
enforcement program that is in the interests of women and their children. They have further documented the
effect that abusive relationships have on a woman’s decision to opt out in the first place and on her reluctance
to then go back to ask for review of the situation and to have an automatic enforcement mechanism put in
place.



Women seeking maintenance orders in the first place are desperately trying to keep the peace. They
are trying to, in some cases, demonstrate that there still is some measure of trust or cooperation in the
relationship and they are very often trying to avoid the punishment that goes with the intimidation being
brought to bear. So it seems to me that the argument put forward by the Advisory Council is a very compelling
one, that putting the onus on the judiciary to forbid opting out by particular individuals is an inadequate
solution. That is what this legislation has done; it has said in a certain instance that the judge can forbid
opting out -even if the parties ask that opting out should be agreed to - where the judge has reason to think
that some intimidation was brought to bear, where the judge has reason to think that there is every evidence
that one party will default.



But, as the Advisory Council has argued, there is really no way for the judge to have a complete
understanding of the dynamics of the relationship that led to the dissolution or the breakdown of the
relationship in the first place, and to determine whether or not a party is being intimidated into agreeing to
forego the automatic enforcement provision. The only way he or she would know that is if the woman herself
brought forward the evidence, and there are an awful lot of cases in which women will not do that for fear of
retaliation, for fear of punishment.



So, it would be our view that opting out should not be permitted, in recognition that in the final
analysis the thing that matters most is, first of all, to communicate absolutely clearly that there are no ifs, ands
or buts about the maintenance order being enforced and enforceable and, secondly, so as to lift that burden
off too many women who have paid a price for having to be the ones to push the system to act responsibly and
effectively, to ensure that maintenance payments are made and fully enforced.



Mr. Speaker, I know that the minister has talked about striking a balance between assuming that
people will do the responsible thing, assuming that people will, in fact, honour their maintenance payments,
and dealing with the hardship that is endured in the instance of where that doesn’t happen and the onus shifts
onto the women.



I have heard the arguments for why automatic garnisheeing is not necessarily the way to go. I am
not nearly as familiar as the minister would be, and certainly as his very capable staff would be on what the
experience has been, in the instance of Ontario, I think, being the most dramatic example of where garnishee
is automatic. I am not arguing for that as the only way to go. I think there does seem to be considerable
evidence that the administrative demands on the system of automatic garnisheeing are very heavy, indeed,
and perhaps partly because there has been such a backlog, this problem hasn’t been properly dealt with for
so long. It has been a real problem with the startup. I don’t know, maybe it is too early to know that for sure.
So I wouldn’t necessarily be arguing and it is not the position of my caucus that automatic garnisheeing is the
only way to go.



Mr. Speaker, we do have a concern that the government has chosen not to put in place a system
where garnisheeing becomes automatic after default has occurred. In hearing the minister introduce this
legislation, I didn’t hear him offer a clear explanation. He cited the Law Reform Commission, he cited the
Advisory Council, he cited the Community Services Discussion Draft, all as important contributions to the
evolution of this legislation in its present form, but he didn’t, in my view, provide a satisfactory explanation
for why the government has back-slid from what was a clear recommendation by the Law Reform Commission
of automatic garnisheeing after the occurrence of one default. The same recommendation had been made by
the Advisory Council based on their extensive research and the same provision was contained in the
Community Services paper.



Frankly, I was very surprised when the legislation that came out was, in effect, weakened and
lessened and watered down in this regard, because when the Minister of Community Services spoke to this
issue over the last six or eight months, I think he gave people a reasonable expectation. Perhaps, we were
being unduly optimistic, perhaps we were reading too much into it or perhaps we were imputing to the
Minister of Community Services more clout than he has in those Cabinet backroom, but we had felt, I think
a lot of people had felt, somewhat hopeful that one of the reasons the government didn’t go forward with this
legislation in the spring was because it wasn’t fully satisfied that the provisions were strong enough.



Yet, Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the issue of garnisheeing, the government has backed away even
from its own earlier position, at least the position that had been articulated to the public. So at the very least,
there seems to me that there is an onus on the minister and on the government to give a more adequate, a
more satisfactory, a more convincing argument for why they have backed away from automatic garnishment
upon default.



Mr. Speaker, that brings me to the final point that I want to address briefly and that is around the
amount of discretion that has been given to the director. I think there are arguments to be made for there being
considerable discretion given to the director. But I think that it has to be cause for concern to have some of
the basic elements of the system, the opting out provision being one, the failure to automatically garnishee
after default has occurred, is creating, in my view, a situation that depends too heavily and more heavily than
is necessarily warranted, upon a progressive, proactive, extremely sensitive, enlightened director and it is
based on the assumption that there will be adequate resources allocated that will enable the director to then
do what needs to be done.



Mr. Speaker, I don’t think that you have to be just a skeptic or a cynic to have a concern about
whether this government is likely to give the kind of resources to the director that would be necessary to
absolutely ensure that enforcement is going to be carried out vigorously and effectively.



Certainly, if the previous government is any indication, and this government seems to be emulating
the previous government in a great many ways that cause people concern, considering that people thought they
had rejected some of the unacceptable practices of the previous government, but if the previous government
is any indication and if the early signs from this government are an accurate indication, then there is not much
basis for confidence that there will be sufficient resources allocated to ensure that vigorous enforcement will
result.



[9:30 a.m.]



I know the argument has been made that if you give a good deal of discretion to the director, then
the director is more likely to do all the right things than the courts would have done. Well, that is only, Mr.
Speaker, if you assume that the courts will forever be characterized by the kinds of attitudes and decisions that
we heard from Judge Matheson yesterday and, conversely, if we assume that the director will always be
someone who sees this as a very high priority and one that should be guided by the principle of women and
children first in the instance of hardship.



So, Mr. Speaker, it seems, at the very least, that there has to be some more effective way to have a
review and a monitoring of the manner in which the director is utilizing the discretion that is given to her or
to him in discharging their duties and a way to really monitor and measure the results of those discretionary
decisions and what kind of outcomes there are from the enforcement measures that are actually taken.



It may be, Mr. Speaker, that the minister will make the point that that has to be achieved through
regulation and it has to be achieved through the allocation of resources. I think that is largely the case, but
I think there also needs to be some kind of mechanism that will allow for the review of the director’s decisions
and results, so that it is not forever in the sort of realm of the discretionary. If what is happening is the
government is failing to give adequate resources to the director and the program charged with this
responsibility, that there is some way to really get at that problem, or if the discretion is being abused or the
authority is being either underutilized or exceeded, either way, it seems to me, there have to be some checks
and balances there that have not really been fully thought out or spelled out in the legislation.



Mr. Speaker, in wrapping up, I think I am coming close to my allotted time, I want to say again that
I welcome the fact that a government has finally brought forward legislation that is capable of doing the job
that needs to be done, but I hope that the minister will remain open to looking at a couple of these concerns
that are widely shared by people who have a lot of experience and very bitter experience with what it means
to be on the short end of the stick what it comes, not just to not receiving those court ordered maintenance
payments, but also on the short end of the stick, and I guess I use the term advisedly, when it comes to their
being intimidated and harassed into agreeing to certain things, even if it is something as seemingly
straightforward as opting out of the maintenance enforcement system.



Because it is true that people can, by the very nature of the upset and disruption and the breakdown
of any harmonious relationships, be further victimized by those pressures of intimidation that will be brought
to bear, or just the desire to cut down on the amount of conflict, to get beyond the difficult decisions and try
to restore some kind of peace and harmony in one’s life. If that means agreeing to things that are really not
in your best interests, in the long run, then that is exactly what a lot of women do and there is ample evidence
of that.



Of course the problem in the final analysis is that it is the children who suffer. It is children who are
not in a position to protect their own interests; it is children who therefore are dependent upon us to put in
place a system that will support their needs and do it in such a way that in the instance, and this is what we
are talking about in most cases, Mr. Speaker, of the very large number of women who find themselves in this
situation, can use the system to ensure that children have the financial security and the emotional stability that
goes with not being in a continual uproar, around trying to see that court ordered maintenance payments are
fulfilled. Thank you very much. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak to Bill No. 124, An Act to
Provide for the Enforcement of Payments Under Maintenance Orders. I wish to congratulate the Minister of
Justice for bringing forward this legislation and, as well, to congratulate the Minister of Community Services
who, as well, has shown great interest in this legislation and has been working to bring forward this kind of
legislation to the House. I think it is certainly responsible legislation and I think in terms of the times, socially
correct.



I do welcome the opportunity to make a few comments because it is important legislation and
certainly it is legislation that a great number of Nova Scotians have been anxious to see occur. So while there
were many of us who were impatient as we waited for the government to come forth with the bill, we certainly
congratulate them on so doing. I think there are many things in this bill that will receive favourable comment.



I would also like to thank my chief legal researcher, the member for Halifax Citadel, who has
provided me with a little background information. In 1949 in this Legislature there was an Act passed to
facilitate the enforcement of maintenance orders. So as far back as 1949, the need for this kind of legislation
was obviously there. Then in 1980 there was passed in this place the Family Maintenance Act.



There is another piece of legislation that I think is important and maybe the Minister of Justice would
make brief reference to it, that is the 1983 Statute, An Act Respecting the Reciprocal Enforcement of
Maintenance Orders. Through this particular piece of legislation we have a reciprocal agreement with all
provinces and 30 or 40 American States that warrants issued by either our Supreme Court or Family Court,
under this legislation, can be issued in that number of American States and, in fact, right across Canada.



So in other words, while that is not an easy and sometimes a very cumbersome process, it does allow
orders to be issued from our court system here in Nova Scotia and to be made effective on persons who have
left the province. I think that is good legislation and I think it ties in to what we are talking about here today.



It is a sad commentary on the times in Nova Scotia that each year there are some 13,000 maintenance
orders issued, to a total value of some $23 million each year. That is a sizable amount of money and it
certainly is a sizable number of awards. While many family and marriage breakups are resolved without going
through Family Court, unfortunately, a great number require the court system to come up with what is a fair
and equitable solution to breakup. Of the 13,000 maintenance orders issued each year, apparently this year,
some 6,500 defaults have been identified.



This is a very serious problem and there is probably no one in this place, in terms of doing their
constituency work, that has not had an opportunity to speak with a spouse who is having difficulty because
the award that has been made to them by the court is not being honoured by the payor and it is a very difficult
thing. It was a very cumbersome process they had to go through because once the payments were not
forthcoming they, in effect, really had to go back to the court and wait for a court date and that was time-consuming. During that period of time, of course, family life would suffer and in many instances there was
a great deal of difficulty putting bread on the table. So, it was a difficult situation for many of the recipients
of maintenance payments when the payor would, in fact, default.



I have personal knowledge of cases where the same order would be defaulted, two or three times a
year, which would mean two or three trips back to the court and the resolution was never really very
satisfactory.



So, we look at the new legislation, I think, with an eye to determining whether or not this solves the
problem that is before us and certainly, looking at the legislation, I think it does. There are things, I am sure,
that could be debated in terms of (Interruption) I have been asked to yield the floor for an introduction.



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



MR. DENNIS RICHARDS: Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the honourable member for giving me the
floor at that time. It gives me great pleasure this morning to introduce to you and to all members of the House,
a group of high school students. These students are adult students from the Cole Harbour area, who are seated
in the east gallery with us this morning. They are accompanied by their instructors, Mr. Scott Lakes and Ms.
Margaret Gillis. As you can see, this group of people who are 25 in total, are here to join in some of the
activities going on this morning in the House. They are students of the adult group at high school that have
come back and have accepted the challenge to upgrade their education and I applaud them for that. I wish to
give them now a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, in terms of proceeding with evaluating the effect that this new legislation
will have, I think, it warrants spending a few minutes just looking at exactly what the legislation does. One
of the criticisms, as before the introduction I had alluded to, is the fact of the very cumbersome process of
dealing with defaults with a significant loss of time and very significant hardship for the families who, in fact,
were not receiving their payments.



One of the good things about the current legislation is, in fact, that when there is an amicable
relationship and a private agreement between the aggrieved parties, they may bypass the legislation, but they
do have the right to register with the director the terms of their agreement. This allows either party, if a
situation develops where the agreement is not being lived up to that it is on record with the director, he would
then have the power to act and to become involved.



[9:45 a.m.]



I think it is only fair to point out that many arrangements dealing with maintenance are done
privately and the parties live up to the agreement and to all the responsibilities. It certainly would be unfair
to tar everybody with the same brush. But, regardless of that, there is a very significant problem to be
addressed by the legislation. The key to the legislation is the establishment of the office of director of
Maintenance Enforcement, with an administration separate from the Family Court. This would mean that
each and every decision of the Supreme Court and the Family Court which is made under the Maintenance
Enforcement Act would be registered with this office and with the director.



The parties would then have the ability to opt in or opt out. It well may be that after the court has
issued the arrangement, the parties could opt out and the award of the court would be fulfilled by private
arrangement. Failing that, however, the payment would be made then through the office of the director, who
would disperse the funds in terms of the award of the court. All of that, I think, is a reasonable, fair and
working arrangement.



It is obvious that the administrative costs of this new bill will be increased and the minister has
provided us with the figures that the costs will go up some $1.1 million and I believe the figure that he gave
is an annual cost of $2.7 million. Well, we do not like to be spending additional funds in these financially
troubled times, but I think this is one case in which there will be agreement in this House that that is money
well spent and, in fact, I think, with an efficient system that the cost even would be, as we like to say, cost-effective. But it is certainly money well spent and we will certainly stand behind that additional expense by
the government.



There will be a requirement for new staff in the maintenance enforcement office. Figures given are
a doubling of the staff from 16 to 32. Now, the Director of Maintenance Enforcement will have tremendous
power, what I refer to as quasi-judicial powers. We are not breaking new ground here. This bill does not break
new ground. You look at Revenue Canada and they have tremendous powers. You look at the Registrar of
Motor Vehicles and he has tremendous powers. So we are not breaking new ground, but we are creating a new
office in which, without going through the courts, an individual has, by way of his office, tremendous power.



The kinds of powers that he will have. For example, he will have the ability, when faced with a
failure to pay, to garnishee wages, and he will be able to do this without returning to the court. The director
will be able, as is Revenue Canada, to demand information from the payor or other parties and including the
payor’s current spouse. The director could put a lien on property. He could cause real property to be seized
or sold and he could require the payor to actually post a bond. So these are tremendous powers and they are
not powers that should be granted lightly and they are not powers that should be granted without considerable
safeguards.



One of the most talked about powers of the director is the ability, through the Motor Vehicle Branch,
to suspend drivers’ licenses. I understand that in other jurisdictions this has been a very effective tool in
enforcing maintenance payments. The only caution I think I would suggest to the minister, when the
regulations, which I am sure will accompany the office of the director, is that particularly in those cases where
a driver’s license is required for the payor to earn his living, that immediately on making restitution for late
payments, his driver’s license could be re-instituted as quickly as possible, to allow him to continue earning
his living and to keep making his required payments. So I think that is something that should be looked into.



The other thing, and I have heard other speakers make reference to this, is the ability of the director
to seize assets of the defaulting payor and certainly in terms when there are joint assets by way of a joint
account, that the director be given specific instructions and discretionary power that, in fact, he is not taking
funds from somebody who is not directly involved in the court order. In other words, if, for example, the
payor, by reason of a joint account with, say, an elderly, infirmed parent, that those funds would be protected,
the funds that could be identified with the elderly parent would be protected from the award from the court.
I think this is only fair because obviously there will be innocent third parties who would be drawn into this
arrangement and they should not be made to suffer unduly, simply by association.



Now the appointment of the director, according to the bill, will be appointed under terms of the Civil
Service Act. I do not have familiarity with that Act but it well may be that that would be the appropriate
avenue for appointing this person but there well may be other avenues as well. While I don’t have a firm
recommendation on this, perhaps in the Law Amendments Committee there will be some comment on that
and perhaps some other process in appointing a director may be looked at, maybe something paralleling the
appointment of an ombudsman, which obviously is an exercise we will be going through shortly, as a result
of the Speaker’s announcement earlier today.



It is certainly obvious to all that because of the nature of the powers granted to the Director of
Maintenance Enforcement that a search for the proper kind of person who will certainly have the background
and the experience and the judgment that he can handle effectively and in the spirit of the legislation, the very
considerable powers that will be placed in his hands when he assumes the office of the director. It well may
be that perhaps a former judge of the Family Court, or somebody with this kind of experience, would be the
type of person we would be looking for. I think it is a very important position he will occupy.



The legislation or the information, perhaps, given out with the legislation suggests that it may be as
long as January 1996 before all of the arrangements can be made to start this legislation working. I certainly
would encourage the minister that if, in fact, arrangements can be made and proper training programs both
for the director and for enforcement officers can be completed before that date, that the institution of the whole
process will occur, certainly, as rapidly as possible. It well may be that it won’t require 13 months to get the
Act up and running and I would certainly encourage that as quickly as reasonably possible that the legislation
come into effect and that the office of the Director of Maintenance Enforcement become operational.



One of the problems that I foresee in the startup of the process, is the backlog of some 6,500 cases,
obviously, that are chronic problems for the current administration of the bill. We certainly don’t want to
create the same kind of a backlog of unadjudicated or unattended cases as occur now, for example, in workers’
compensation where we have been looking at for months and years, hundreds, now as many as 1,900
unresolved cases in the workers’ compensation field of people simply waiting to have their case attended to
by the appropriate legislation.



There will be a tremendous amount of work to be done once this office becomes operational because
not only will they be dealing with the new cases that occur, I am sure, weekly, but also that tremendous
backlog of unresolved cases. Now, it well may be that the legislation will be perceived to have enough teeth
in it that a great number of the problem cases will disappear overnight because there won’t be the escape
avenues that were available in the previous legislation. Certainly, the minister and his department have gone
to great pains, I think, to try to make this an effective solution and a process with teeth in it that the
percentage of defaulters, I am sure, will go down dramatically the day that this legislation comes into effect.



In summating my remarks on this, I certainly congratulate the minister on bringing forward the
legislation, it is a good piece of legislation. I would expect, perhaps, that we will see some good critique in
the Law Amendments Committee and I would certainly encourage the minister if, in fact, that we hear good
critiques and good suggestions, he will be at the Law Amendments Committee as Chairman and will hear the
presentations firsthand, that he will be flexible enough that he would be prepared to introduce amendments
if, in fact, better ideas come forward, ideas that are perhaps superior to the bill as it has been presented here
to us for second reading.



So, certainly this Opposition caucus congratulates the government. We will certainly be voting in
favour of this legislation. We will certainly be watching with interest for any suggestions for improvement
and we will also certainly support those. It is our expectation that we will be at third reading as well,
endorsing this bill and encouraging the minister to, as quickly as possible, get the process up and running.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.



MRS. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I just want to add my word of support to this bill, very
briefly. Having been a former President of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women in the 1980’s, I know
only too well the tremendous need that there is for this legislation to go into place. I think we can look back
over 50 years, from the late 1940’s, of the identification of the problem and literally many decades of inactivity
in dealing with it.



[10:00 a.m.]



The mention was made of 6,500 defaults in maintenance and certainly in 1983 the former
Honourable Edmund Morris, I believe it was, signed the reciprocal agreement which began a process that was
very worthwhile, in terms of being able to apply across provinces and across states in this reciprocal
agreement.



There are increasing numbers of divorces, there are increasing numbers of defaults in payments and
a huge demand on our court system. I just wanted to stand very briefly and say that this legislation is needed,
it is timely, it is appropriate and I feel very positive about the fact that our government has introduced it.
Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources.



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I do rise today as Minister responsible for the Advisory
Council on the Status of Women, to speak in support of this bill. I feel it is one of the most important pieces
of legislation that this government has brought forward. It is a very positive piece of legislation. The effects
it will have on women, on children and on families cannot be discounted.



It has been stated by previous speakers that this problem in Nova Scotia has been identified for over
50 years. We have brought forward something that has the most effective enforcement criteria set in it, the
one that has the most teeth that I can identify in Atlantic Canada. On Wednesday of this week I hosted the
Ministers for the Status of Women at an Atlantic Canada inter-provincial meeting in Truro. We spoke at great
length about maintenance enforcement and about the Acts and bills in place in the other three Atlantic
Provinces. I was very proud to be able to say the list of enforcement criteria that have been set up so that our
bill now is the most powerful in Atlantic Canada. The Status of Women in other provinces are looking at our
bill very closely to see if they can duplicate what we have done. They are watching, as the member opposite
has mentioned, the number of maintenance orders. Hopefully the percentage will rise so dramatically that they
will follow suit. The fact that 13,000 orders are out annually in this province for maintenance is a sad
commentary on the way we feel about our family responsibilities here in Nova Scotia.



I think there are some other issues I want to talk on just briefly, the guidelines for child support, there
are some other issues related to enforcement. I think that reasonable rates and how much should be paid for
family support is one issue for the guideline that should be addressed. This is one thing that the Ministers
responsible for the Status of Women talked about in Truro on Wednesday was the reciprocal agreement;
although that is in place, the turnaround time can sometimes be two years. We are hoping to improve the
efficiency of that support by, as a group force of Status of Women Ministers from all four Atlantic Provinces,
to bring this to the table and hope that we can tighten up the reciprocal agreements, at least between the four
Atlantic Provinces to start with and, hopefully, go further than that so that can be turned around more quickly
and so there will be a shorter time of a break in family income as a result of it.



I have a little concern with the comment deadbeat dads that the media have picked up, attached to
this piece of legislation. That is a very negative comment and I don’t feel that it is a deserved one. I think that
if people are allowed to go forward without responding to their responsibilities, then I think they will do it.
That is human nature. So I find that offensive and want to state that as I speak to this legislation.



As I have said before, this legislation protects family, it protects children. It also protects those who
wish to opt out and I think that it gives people an option to sit down together and come to an agreement
without going to stronger teeth, as we have put in this bill.



I want to congratulate the Premier for his stand on this and for his support of this bill and for his
initiative to bring it forward. I particularly want to support and congratulate the Minister of Justice and the
Minister of Community Services for their work on this bill and for helping me in my strong support that I had
for strengthening the enforcement from a Status of Women point of view.



I also want to now thank the Opposition, as they have stood in support of this bill, as we go forward
with a very positive piece of legislation and I think this government can stand to be very proud that they have
sat down and put their money, their teeth and their thoughts behind enforcing this bill, to strengthen it and
to look after those in this province that need looking after. Thank you. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, welcome the opportunity to stand in my place and say a few
words on the bill that is before us for discussion in the House this morning. I say to the minister and I say to
members opposite that, although I may have some comments about the bill and ways in which I think the bill
can be strengthened and the provisions in the bill be made more clear, I certainly do intend to support it. I
think that this kind of legislation is something that is, in fact, long overdue.



I want to tip my hat, if I may, and express my appreciation to all of those who have worked so hard
for many years, representatives, whether they be the advocacy groups for those women who are living in
poverty, those representatives and leaders of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women and all of the
others, Mr. Speaker, who have worked so hard to make sure that this issue came to the front burners of the
government agenda and remained there. Because, I would suggest, without their prodding, without their
pushing, this issue would not be as far along on the floor of the Legislature as it is today. So I think that those
people deserve a great deal of gratitude, not only from ourselves, but for all of those whom this legislation,
hopefully, will provide some protection for.



Certainly, Mr. Speaker, if we lived in a perfect world, there would be no need for this legislation. If
we lived in a perfect world, everybody would get along great and there would be no separations and no
divorces and no messy battles. But we do know that we don’t live in a perfect world and all we have to do is
take a look, in the case of Nova Scotia, at the number of summonses that are issued each year to those who
have defaulted on their maintenance payments for their ex-spouse and dependent children. Those numbers
are, I would suggest, at an extremely alarming level.



I am not as kind as the minister is when she said that she does not think that maybe the title of
deadbeat dad is appropriate and it certainly is not for all. There can be situations in which an individual,
because of changes in circumstances, are unable to make the payments to which they are committed and,
certainly, that they may wish to be able to make for their children.



But, certainly, we have seen large percentages of those who are required to be making such payments
in default and, in many cases, I know from experience in trying to help constituents, that many of those
individuals are indeed deserving of the title deadbeat dads, because they had not been trying to live up to their
obligations to their children, to their families, that they were well able to do. Of course, they, too, have had
the options to have returned to Family Court had they not been able to make those payments and,
unfortunately, many of them just chose to ignore that.






I think that another example, though, another bit of statistics that proves the importance of this
legislation, that is that the National Council on Welfare showed that in 1993 there were 43,000 children in
the Province of Nova Scotia under the age of 18 who were living below the poverty line, in other words, living
in poverty.



Now certainly you cannot attribute all of that, by any stretch of the imagination, to the failure of the
respective parents who are supposed to be supporting those children. I would suggest that, and I don’t know
if there are any statistics that can be used to say how many of the children are living in that state because of
defaults on maintenance orders but I would suggest that a goodly number were, Mr. Speaker. So I say to the
minister and to the government, anything that is going to be done to try to cut down on that level of default
and improve the lot of those children and parents, who are supposed to be receiving assistance, is to be
appreciated.



Now, Mr. Speaker, there are a number of things that I want to say as well with regard to the
legislation. One of the concerns I have, before I get into the actual specifics, are what resources are going to
be made available. We can have the best plan in the world, and I am not suggesting that this is the best, it is
certainly a significant improvement but it is not the best; but even if we did have the best plan in the world,
it is only going to be partially effective if adequate resources are not provided.



The comment was made that one of the statements the Minister of Justice made when he introduced
the legislation had to do with how this is going to affect Nova Scotia, in terms of savings of dollars. Certainly
at the federal level, again as based on the article that has appeared in today’s press, proper maintenance
enforcement can save the Government of Canada over $1 billion. That is not to be sneezed at.



However, Mr. Speaker, the primary concern has got to be to make sure that the funds that should be
collected are going into the hands of those who are in need of that support; in other words, mainly the women
and children, although in some cases men as well, who need that money.



I plead with the minister and I plead with the government to make sure that sufficient resources are
made available. Not only for increased staff but I would guess that there is also a need for improved
technology. One of the arguments given as to why it was going to cost so much for the province to assume
for the province, social assistance payments, was the fact that across the province we did not have a proper
computer system in place. We have many different systems in operation, so that the information was not easily
retrievable.



In this day and age, with the technology that does exist, the government and the director should be
able to know if a maintenance enforcement order has been registered. They should be able to know within a
couple of days if, in fact, those payments have been made. There is no reason why, as I say, with modern
technology, that can’t be the case. Hopefully, that would prevent the long delays that often exist, trying to get
enforcement of those orders.



You know when you are talking about the thousands of summonses issued to those in default, those
summonses are not often issued until three or four months after the default has begun. That means that that
family, that woman and her children, have had to do without for that period of time, creating tremendous
strains on those other remaining family members.






I certainly know from experience that those who are in need of assistance, under the current system,
if they go down for social assistance, one of the first requirements, of course, is to make sure that they have
proven that they have taken the necessary legal actions and filed the claims against their former partner to
get that maintenance order enforced before they can often get any kind of assistance at all. That, of course,
puts even more strains on the family and that kind of pressure on the woman and the children should be
removed. That kind of responsibility should be, I say to the minister as he has acknowledged, that should be
taken off their plate and picked up by the government.



[10:15 a.m.]



If, in fact, maintenance orders are going to be enforced and enforced effectively, that certainly will
save the province a lot of money and, I would suggest to the minister, knowing that, that it is crucially
important to make sure that some of those savings are directed into the increased staff, not only so that those
who are in default can be forced to pay, which will save the government money, but more importantly, to
make sure in as timely a fashion as possible, the pressures can be brought to bear to make sure that those
defaults do not continue.



I look at the new powers that are being given to a director and I say that they are quite impressive.
The new director is going to have, I believe, very broad powers to try to enforce the maintenance orders. I am
pleased to see those in there, the abilities not only to garnish wages, but to require the posting of securities,
cause real estate property to be seized or sold, seize bank accounts, cause privilege associated with the
operation of a motor vehicle to be suspended or revoked. Those are pretty potent weapons, pretty potent
powers and I am pleased to see those in there.



My problem with that, however, is not that the powers are given but it appears that there seems to
be also a great deal of discretionary power given to the director. Certainly, the director does need to have some
discretion but I think that it is also crucially important that we send as strong a message as we possibly can
to any would-be defaulter, that the powers of discretion are only to be exercised in very precise circumstances.
It is also crucially important, I believe, that we clearly lay out a process where an appeal in a very timely
manner and in a way that is not going to cost the recipient who should be receiving the maintenance
payments, not cost them monies, as the current system does, so that if a director makes a decision that the
recipient is uncomfortable with, that there is a way to have that looked at, as I say, in a very timely way.



Right now, the powers are very broad, I would suggest to the minister, and they aren’t as precisely
defined in terms of language as I would like. For example, the director has the discretion to decide about the
initial decision whether or not to enforce an order or not, whether or not to enforce it, whether or not to allow
an order to be withdrawn and even to determine the method in which payments can be made. The director
has the ability to refuse to endorse arrears, where the director feels there is insufficient or unreliable evidence
to substantiate the arrears.



Certainly, it should be on the defaulter to prove the situation, rather than on the one who is supposed
to be receiving and the obligation should be on the defaulter to prove that there are insufficient resources, not
on the director to prove that there is unreliable evidence.



So, I would think that we should be coming down more on the side of caution and more on the side
of the recipient, and put the onus on the would-be defaulter or the person who says that they do not have the
ability to pay.



Certainly, the director also, I understand, has the ability to say that arrears will be forgotten or
forgiven, if the director is unable to locate the payor, does not know where the payor is, or to identify or locate
what the assets of the payor may happen to be. Well, Mr. Speaker, just because you cannot find the person,
and we do have and I know I have had dealings in a number of situations, where the payor lived in Nova
Scotia and the order was issued, and then the payor skipped the province and could not be found. But,
eventually, shows back up and, of course, in the times that they were away, refused to make the payments.



I do not think there should be the ability to forgive the arrears because the payor, the person who is
supposed to be providing this support, has decided to skip the province and, thereby, skip their
responsibilities. Now maybe, we can get reciprocal agreements that have teeth and that are very prompt in
terms of enforcement in other jurisdictions. That has not been the case to date. I hope and I wish, the Minister
of Human Resources and the Minister of Justice, every success in sitting down with their colleagues across
the country. I would love to see every province in Canada and every jurisdiction in the States agree, that a
maintenance order that has been issued in the Province of Nova Scotia, is automatically enforced in that
jurisdiction and we would do the same for them.



But the wheels often move very slowly. I am just saying that I would really question whether or not
the director should have that power. Or maybe, if it is talking about the forgiveness of arrears - and for some
people - the amounts of arrears that are owed in a lot of situations, amount in to the many thousands of
dollars. One would have to question whether it should be the director or the court, that would have the final
decision on whether to forgive those arrears. I know that the courts in the past have had a tendency, very
often, to forgive those. But I would say, Mr. Speaker, maybe the Maintenance Enforcement Act, could be
amended as well in such a way as to give the courts more authority, to ensure that the arrears are going to be
honoured.



Also, another concern that I have is, and I am pleased to see that there is some - but that it does not
go quite far enough - and that that a maintenance arrears will have priority in terms of unsecured debts and
so on, only for a period of three years. I do not know why the period of three years is used. I am not a lawyer
or learned in the law, but we have several members in here. But if my memory serves me correctly, if a normal
judgment is issued, that judgment is there for seven years? I am seeing a head shaking no, so I do not know
what the timeframe is, or if there is timeframe. I know they have to be renewed, I think, after so many years,
or at least I am hearing shaking of heads, so I am getting legal advice here.



So, I guess if they do not have to renew it and there is no time limit, they go on for 20 years. I am
asking the question, why would it be, that the government would decide to, in that 20 year process, say that
the priority for the maintenance judgment, would only have top priority for a period of three years? Because
I cannot think of anything that should have a higher priority than living up to your responsibilities to your
children. So I hope that the minister will address that a little bit later on, maybe when he wraps up the debate
on the bill.



There are some other things that concern me a great deal. The opting out provision is certainly one
that does concern me. My understanding is that when a maintenance order is issued . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There are too many conversations going on in the House. Those who
wish to carry them on, please leave the Chamber.



MR. HOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The member don’t seem to be used to listening to me unless
I am on a rant. I am not trying to be on a rant here today, I am trying to, in as sensible a way as I can, talk
about what I consider to be one of the most important pieces of legislation. It is certainly something that
deserves the attention of this government far more than the implementation of casinos, as an example. I hoped
that this legislation would have been the first piece of legislation to show how important the government feels
this issue is.



But on the opting out section, I am reminded of - if I might make a comparison with the Canada
Pension provisions - up until a number of years ago, when a couple split up, there were no provisions that the
partner had a right to a share of their former mate’s Canada Pension. That became and that was initially a
topic of negotiations at this very difficult time, and when it was simply a matter of negotiations it was
something that was often given up, mainly by women, as a trade-off in return for other things, other benefits,
such as having custody of the children.



Then we saw that most women didn’t end up receiving a portion of their former partner’s pensions
when they reached retirement age. If we take a look at those seniors who are living in poverty today, the
majority of those are women. Many of those women had been married before, and with, in fact, their ex-partner still living, because of the way the pension arrangement was at that time, in terms of negotiations, they
are still not receiving a portion of their former partner’s Canada Pension.



Then the law was changed so that a woman had a right to opt in for a period of time, but most didn’t
know that. So again the numbers who took advantage of that provision were very low. It had been negotiated
away. Now the law has come full circle and now it is automatic. So hopefully, down the road, the numbers
of people who have not received the full kinds of benefits that they should have been entitled to will change.
We can’t go back and undo what was before, and I am not suggesting we should.



Mr. Speaker, we have a situation where we are seeing that people can opt out of this maintenance
enforcement provision. Certainly the legislation says that they all have to be registered, all maintenance orders
made by the court will automatically be registered, but in the negotiations, and these negotiations are often
conducted by lawyers, they are often in a very adversarial situation, it is often very much of a give and take
situation, and so there is what you might call horse-trading of the highest order and the most intense kind
going on.



[10:30 a.m.]



The Minister of Human Resources said, in her remarks, that one of the things that she liked about
the legislation is that it protected those who wished to opt out of this enforcement provision. Well I do not see
that as a protection. I honestly see that as a major weakness in the legislation because it leaves those who are
most vulnerable in the situation where they can be bullied and pressured into agreeing to an opting out
provision.



Here we are, we are celebrating - the Minister of Justice himself, and I am pleased to see it and I
should have mine on, too. I have got my ribbon, but I do not have my pin - we are standing against violence
in the family. I see this provision, allowing for the opting out, as a potential for the continuation of violence.
If there was no choice, if, in fact, automatically all enforcement orders had to be registered and there was no
chance to opt out, that would relieve the person who could be under pressure, the woman and her children,
from having those pressures imposed on them.



So I would hope that the minister may be open to hearing arguments and I think that this minister
is trying to be fair and wants to move forward with the best piece of legislation because I think this minister
is very genuinely concerned about these issues of family violence and a fairness and so on, Mr. Speaker. I
hope the minister would give serious consideration to not allowing opting out. I would also hope that the
minister might be prepared to amend it so that automatically, I would go so far as to say no default at all
should be the automatic requirement that the payments be made directly but, certainly, if there is so much as
to be one default occur, then there can be no consideration of opting out or any backing off of the provisions.



We have seen many cases, and I am sure I am not alone in this, other members of this House have
had constituents who have talked to them of how many times they have had to go back and try to fight to get
maintenance enforcement followed. I had one situation where a woman had been back over 20 times and still
not having had any success. I say to the minister, I do not see that as a protection, I see that as a fundamental
weakness in the bill.



Another part that I have some concern with and we do live in a changing society, a changing world,
Mr. Speaker, many couples cohabit, they do not get married but, in their own eyes, they are a couple and in
the eyes of the law, in fact, they are married after a certain period of time. They live together, they do not go
through either a civil or a church wedding, but they live together, they buy property together, they have
children together but, of course, they do not, if they are not legally married through either the legal process,
through a church or through the civil ceremonies, have to go through a legal divorce appearing before the
Supreme Court.



There certainly may, Mr. Speaker, and, hopefully, all would develop separation agreements. Those
separation agreements can also be developed in a very friendly, amicable way, just as many divorce
agreements are done. Not all are as the ones that I described before, by any stretch of the imagination. Not
all are adversarial and confrontational.



Under this legislation, unless I am missing something and maybe the minister can clarify this for me,
there is no requirement, as I look at this bill, to compel that automatically all separation agreements must be
registered. (Interruption)



Well, the minister says that they are but I thought that that was the orders of the courts, so that if a
separation agreement is entered into by partners, which doesn’t have to go through the court system, unless
there is a changes in the maintenance enforcement bill, I don’t think that there is a legal requirement that
those be registered. I could be wrong and based on what the minister said in a way of trying to be helpful
across the floor, he thinks that they are. He has also indicated that he is prepared to check that and I would
appreciate that and also appreciate that if what I understand to be the case is, in fact, the case, that some
amendments would be forthcoming by the minister to ensure that that situation does not continue.



Mr. Speaker, I am not standing up here today in an attempt to try to go on at as great a length as I
can. I want to say, however, that I consider bringing forward legislation to make sure that the enforcements
of payments that are required under the maintenance orders, is an extremely important piece of legislation.
It strikes to the principle of justice and fairness. I don’t think, with respect, that we should be trying to settle
for second best. I don’t think that we should be saying that our goal is to have the best law in Atlantic Canada.
I believe we owe it to those . . . (Interruption)



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.



MR. HOLM: Maybe I should go into my rant mode and turn up my tone about 10 decibels, then I
can hear myself over the din in the background, Mr. Speaker. But I do firmly believe that we should be trying
to put in place the very best legislation that we possibly can. We have to have the resources made available
immediately to put in place the programs, the extra staff, I would say the extra hardware so that we can have
as rapid a flow of information that we can possibly have. This is not an area where we can be second best.



I congratulate the government for taking a step forward. I am pleased that we have been given two-thirds of a loaf. I look forward to the rest of the loaf and I look forward very much to receiving presentations
at the Law Amendments Committee and, quite honestly, I am optimistic and hopeful that the minister will
be open, will hear what other concerns may be brought forward, by others who are far more knowledgeable
about these matters than I and try to make sure the bill is as strong as it possibly can be to put an end to an
injustice that has been going on for far too long.



This is legislation, something that has been flouted for years, thousands and thousands of women and
children have been harmed because court orders have been flouted. I just can’t imagine, in any other situation,
where, for example, you don’t obey a court order time after time, where you would have gotten away with it
as those who have defaulted on court-ordered maintenance payments have.



Just imagine what happens to you if you don’t pay your parking tickets. If you don’t pay you parking
tickets, after a short period of time you get a summons to appear in court. If you don’t appear in court, they
can come and pick you up and make sure you do appear in court. You end up bearing and feeling the full
weight of the law.



Somehow it seems to me powerfully unjust and our priorities are so totally out of whack when we
have had a system which has been flouted so badly for so many years and where tremendous pain and
suffering has been inflicted upon women and children in this province.



If we are truly committed to the campaign to bring an end to family violence, to put an end to
violence against women and children, then we will have the strongest piece of legislation we can have, not
only in Atlantic Canada but right across the country. We will commit the resources that are necessary and we
will do that which is morally right, to ensure that the victimization does not continue. Thank you, Mr.
Speaker.



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



The honourable Minister of Justice.



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I have a few things I would like to say before I take my
place, a few questions that were raised, I would just like to have a chance to say a few words on them. I won’t
detain the House too long but there are a few things I would like to say. One of the things I want to say right
up-front is to thank all the people who have helped me, as minister, and my department to bring this bill
before the House. We had very good cooperation from the Department of Community Services and the
Minister of Community Services. I want to say that starting in May, we set a target that we were going to have
this bill in this fall session. We met over the summer, right through the heat of the summer, and it was a hot
summer, and although by August 1st the matter was no longer his responsibility, Dr. Jim Smith was a regular
attender and a pusher to get the job done. So I want to pay tribute to the Minister of Community Services and
his staff and, of course, the staff in the Department of Justice who worked so hard, also voluntary
organizations and the Advisory Council on the Status of Women; representatives of transition houses and
other groups were all very helpful and I want to thank all of them.



I also want to thank those persons who have spoken today. I appreciate the comments. I don’t agree
with all the comments and there are some things about which there are some misunderstandings. Maybe
before I sit down I will clear up a few of those.



I might just mention first, the member for Pictou Centre and others raised the matter of reciprocal
agreements. I want to make it clear, in terms of maintenance enforcement, to help children and spouses, that
there are agreements with all of the Canadian jurisdictions, with 32 of the United States and 16 other
countries. So there are those agreements in place and we will make every effort to the director to enforce
enforcement, so that the monies will be paid.



The honourable member for Pictou Centre talked about driving privileges; I want to make very clear
to all honourable members that this is a move of last resort. We hope the director, he or she, will be able to
have the monies paid that are due, without getting on to revoking drivers’ privileges. But, of course, it will
be done if necessary. On the other hand, as the member raised, it would be my hope and intention, and I
would monitor it through the Minister of Transportation and Communications, that once monies are paid, that
as soon as possible the privileges be restored. This is not meant to punish anybody, it is to help people. That
is our goal.



Mr. Speaker, I also want to mention - it came up with several speakers, including the member for
Pictou Centre - the matter of joint accounts. I just want to make it clear that in terms of joint accounts, we
want to err on the side of helping the children and the spouse.



[10:45 a.m.]



Too often in the past, Mr. Speaker, joint accounts and other accounts have been used as a curtain,
a shield, to keep monies that otherwise should be paid to the children and the spouse from going in that
direction. To coin a phrase, or change a phrase a bit, let the debtor beware. That if the debtor owes money,
that debtor better be prepared to pay up. We can hear all the compassion we want, but the first goal is to help
those in need.



Of course, I assume that the director would use compassion and common sense, but having said that,
the goal is to see that the monies that are due are paid. I want to see that that is done. The member talked
about when this would be done and about staff and equipment. I will mention this a little bit later. The
government, the Premier, backed the Ministry of Justice up. We have almost a doubling of our operating
budget and, in fact, more than a doubling if you throw in the capital for the equipment we need. We will have
the resources we need, the reasonable resources we will have to make this work in terms of staff and
equipment and we are going to get on with the job and do it.






In terms of the timeframe, I think all honourable members can understand, given the cautions that
were given by all the Canadian jurisdictions and others, was to be ready when you start. Don’t go off half-cocked. In this case, this legislation will be in effect a year from January 1st, but if possible, it will be in effect
December 1, 1995, November 1, 1995 or even October 1, 1995. The heat is going to be on. They are going
to have the heat on the minister again. I know my staff and people in my department will be monitoring our
activities and I will be monitoring staff activities to see that what needs to be done is done as soon as possible.
(Interruption)



Well that is good, that is the way the whole thing works. Speaking of the Leader of the Third Party,
well the Third Party in the House, I just want to make clear the references made by that honourable member,
the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party, the term deadbeat, he used dad, I don’t personally like
the term deadbeat used at all. I think it slurs all those people who pay the monies owing.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I think that maybe the minister, probably
because of my inarticulate way that I was speaking, it would not be intentional, misheard what I was saying.
I was saying that that title did not apply to all, but that it certainly was applicable for many and that many of
the thousands who have received summons, it is applicable to them, but certainly not to all. Some had very
valid reasons as to why they were unable to make the payments. So I would not want the minister to leave the
impression that I was saying that was appropriate for all defaulters.



MR. GILLIS: I, in no way, intended to imply anything that you were saying it applied to everyone
and no way would I say that. All I am saying, and I am entitled to my own views, I just don’t like the term
deadbeat. I think there are people that do not pay and there are actions under this bill with the powers as a
director to take action and get the money for the spouses and children. I am just saying that the member could
use it for those ones that don’t, but I don’t like it and I think we should just go and get the job done.



The honourable member talked about resources and others referred to this, the member for Halifax
Fairview. There are the resources. As I said earlier, the operating budget was $1.7 million in 1993-94. It is
going to go to $2.8 million starting April 1, 1996, which is almost a doubling of the operating budget, plus
$0.6 million for capital to provide the equipment and that honourable member referred to that. I agree. It is
crucial and, at least on paper, it looks like we are going to have what we need. You never really know, but
we are going very hard to do what is right.



The Leader of the New Democratic Party talked about the powers of the director, that they are not
as precisely as defined as they might be and that may or may not be so, but certainly, there is a great deal of
flexibility, broad powers and I would hope that that director would take whatever measures are necessary to
collect the money that is due and payable. We are going to try, it is my hope, that we will recruit the best
possible woman or man. And we know in law enforcement, we read about or watch on movies about Elliott
Ness and in discussions with one group I said, we may need an Emily Ness, who will be tough and unrelenting
and seeing that right is done in these cases. So, I would hope that that will not be a question that we will get
a tough, well qualified person who will do the job for us.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party talked about opting out and it was talked about
earlier. He talked about one of the problems of opting out might lead to violence and that is possibly true. But
the fact of the matter is that the only jurisdiction in the country where opting out is not permitted, in Ontario,
there are still threats of violence, so whatever way you do it there is no one perfect way. We have tried to look
at all of them, our model is the same as eight others in the country, two have a voluntary system and one has
an automatic system.



We think we are doing what is best here but let’s not kid ourselves, opt in or opt out, there is no
magic when people have a violent streak and want to follow that process, it is unfortunate but that is the
reality of it. The discussion came up, and I will check on it, whether all separations are registered. Certainly,
all court orders, as the member knows are registered automatically. If there are some other separation
agreements, I will certainly check on that. The reference was made by that honourable member, before I leave
his comments, about the best law in Atlantic Canada and I know the honourable Minister of Human Resources
mentioned that. That is true, I am sure it is the best law in Atlantic Canada but we feel it is equal to the best
in the country, based on our discussions with all of the jurisdictions.



I have a few more things I want to mention.



MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if the honourable minister would yield the floor on an introduction?



MR. GILLIS: Yes, glad to.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, I want to bring to your attention, to you and through
you, to all members of this House, a group of students from the Grade 12 business education class in my
district in Hants East. They are from the Hants East Rural High School. They are here with their teachers,
Ms. Margaret Coutts and Mr. Michael MacKinnon, good friends of mine. I appreciate the Minister of Justice,
the honourable Attorney General surrendering a moment so I could introduce them. I wonder if they would
stand and get the warm greetings of the House of Assembly.(Applause)



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I want to continue. When the Leader of the Opposition spoke, I think he
misinterpreted that I said that the Buchanan-Cameron Governments or the government did not do anything.
What I really said was that there wasn’t much change in the maintenance enforcement legislation from 1971,
I wasn’t trying to knock anybody, I tried to record the facts as they were. The record will show what was said
and we can judge it from there.



The Leader of the Opposition talked about the director being appointed in accordance with the Civil
Service Act. We certainly intend to follow due process and get the best qualified person for that job, there is
no question about that.



The Leader of the Opposition talked about seizure of joint bank accounts, business type accounts. As
I have said, I think the director will be erring on the side of helping children and women but I think common
sense would be also part of the direction that person would take. If it can be shown that there is something
that is clearly somebody else’s, it will be looked at carefully. I think again, as I said, let the debtor beware,
when monies are due, have been ordered paid by the court, they should be paid, they shouldn’t be ignored.



The Leader of the Opposition mentioned the matter of information. I think and I said this when I
introduced the bill in the briefing, information is crucial. We intend, if the House moves this bill along to
second reading as I guess we will today and it goes through to become law and proclaimed, as we go down
the road, and starting fairly soon, we intend to have public information so the general public will know what
is happening. We will also keep special interest groups, various transition houses, I would think for example,
the Advisory Council, many other groups have special interests, those concerned with violence against
families and violence in the home. But MLAs in particular, because all of the calls that they get, MLAs of all
Parties, we intend to develop a package that will give detailed information, how the MLAs can help their
constituents when somebody comes to them, so answers can be given.



Mr. Speaker, I want to move along, I don’t want to take too much more time but I think there are a
few things I need to say about comments by the member for Halifax Fairview. I did emphasize, and again, the
reading of my comments will show that, I did emphasize the concern with the suffering, especially for
children, I highlighted that. My comments weren’t on the matter of how important it was to save provincial
expenditures. I simply said that if the people pay what they owe, it would save governments, in general, from
having to make up the difference. I wasn’t emphasizing that, I was saying it as a fact. Of course, the
honourable member got into some of the comments by Allan Rock, well, you know, if Allan Rock brings a
certain perspective, that’s Allan Rock’s business. But our main concern is to help the children and the spouses
under this bill. That’s our priority, make no mistake about it. (Applause) If we can save some tax dollars on
the way by, that’s okay, too, because I have been known to be concerned about a nickel or a dime through time.
(Laughter)



We also had the Leader of the New Democratic Party talking about that there should be an apology
for the delay. Mr. Speaker, I don’t make an apology. This government came to power in June 1993, we had
a draft - I am sorry, it wasn’t the Leader of the New Democratic Party, the former Leader, I am sorry, I got
mixed up, (Interruption) Yes, I apologize to you, it was the member for Halifax Fairview, who was for quite
some time Leader of your Party, who talked about that there should be an apology - I don’t apologize because
this government came to office in June 1993, a discussion draft was tabled by the Minister of Community
Services in December 1993 and in 1994, now we have this bill before the House. That to me is action.
(Applause)



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. That is not in fact what I said. I
don’t think the Minister of Justice needs to be overly defensive on it. What I said is that I thought it was
appropriate that all 52 of us as legislators ought to make a sort of collective apology for the many, many years
of suffering that has gone on because there hasn’t been appropriate intervention. I want to say that that wasn’t
my point but, rather, that the violation of maintenance orders has been allowed to go on for so long that it
doesn’t even seem as though it is treated as if it is a law that people mean should be fully observed.



So, that really wasn’t my point. If the minister was referring to my expressed disappointment that
there had been some backsliding from the more stringent measures that I still think would improve the bill,
then that is another point altogether.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, there is a difference of opinion between the two members but there is no point
of order.



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, there is not point of order and I know what the member said, she may
not have meant to have said what she said, but I just want to show, we are getting on with the job.



I also want to mention a couple of other things and not just the member for Halifax Fairview but at
least one other member, I believe the Leader of the Opposition, slid off to talk about the Provincial Court
judge in Sydney. I just want to make it very clear in case there is any misunderstanding, that immediately
upon hearing about the comment that was made by Judge Matheson, I brought the matter to my officials, to
the Chief Provincial Court Judge, who is responsible for discipline.



I understand there is an immediate review being carried out. That matter, Mr. Speaker, can be
referred to the Judicial Council either by the Chief Provincial Court Judge or myself. I would look very
carefully to see what happens once the Chief Provincial Court Judge deals with it. I am concerned about it too.
I don’t like it when things are said. Anyway, we have a chief judge and I expect that he will do his job.



The member for Halifax Fairview talked about opting out. I reiterate what I said in my comments,
we want to target our resources for those most in need. If we take everybody in, have everybody dealing
through, even those who faithfully pay their obligations, I don’t think that is a proper approach. We should
spend our money on collecting from those persons who are not paying. Mr. Speaker, don’t forget, we are
following the majority of recommendations of the Law Reform Committee in this particular regard.



[11:00 a.m.]



One other thing I want to say in relation to that matter, and the honourable member for Halifax
Fairview, it may be their different philosophies - the NDP are following the Ontario position of that NDP
Government - where apparently the state knows best. I say we do what is right and get on with the job.
(Applause)



I also want to make it clear in this regard that a judge can forbid opting out, and that is clear in the
bill. If there are any problems suspected, that can be done. As we know, the opting out under the bill is in
writing and any one party may opt in. As I said earlier, there is no magic, whether there is no opt out or an
opt out is allowed, there is always a danger of violence. Nobody likes it but there is no magic solution and we
are just trying to do our best.



I know our director, who will be appointed, will be very alert to any threat of violence. In Ontario,
under the everybody in, the no opt-out, they red flag files and I am sure that here in Nova Scotia there will
be red flags, too, to protect those who need protection.



Just remember, as I said, only Ontario has the required no opt-out; 8 out of 11 have the same program
we have and two are voluntary. So those are the facts on registration.



The honourable member for Halifax Fairview talked about automatic garnishee. She advocated that
particular approach. My argument again is, why have an automatic garnishee when proper arrangements can
be made? And if they don’t work, you can move to a garnishee immediately. In fact, the director can order a
garnishee right off the top, as soon as . . .



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I did not advocate automatic
garnishee, I said in fact I was persuaded that there were reasonable arguments for not going to automatic
garnisheeing. The concern I expressed is that in the instance of default, why we did not go to automatic
garnisheeing, yet again shifting the onus onto the backs of the women and children, to have to initiate and
press further for their interests to be represented.



MR. SPEAKER: Again there seems to be a difference of opinion between the two members but there
is no point of order in the debate.



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, in this regard, if I said anything that misrepresented the honourable
member, I certainly withdraw it. In fact, on checking my notes, it may be not necessarily arguing for
automatic garnishee, but I think that the member certainly talked about it and was showing certain favour.
I just want to make it clear that my position is, why have it if arrangements can be worked out and honoured?



But anyway, as I say, if I in any way misrepresented the honourable member, I withdraw any such
reference. It is not my intention to operate like that.



Mr. Speaker, we have provisions, we have the payment plan, we have posting of securities, so there
are ways that this will operate. I think the member wanted to garnishee after one default, sort of automatic
after one. I say in response, that the director doesn’t even have to wait for one, if she or he sees there are
dangers of the person not collecting. If they don’t go in that direction, then we have a proper payment plan
of posting of securities, then that is another way to go, too.



Again, I think I have covered the recruitment of the director. It will be done in the best possible way
and the resources will be provided for the director. The monies - we are almost going to double the operating
budget and $0.6 million for the equipment; we will have the gear, we will have the equipment and we will
upgrade completely the system across the province, so we can get that job done.



The other matter I would mention, the director has strong powers but that director will be responsible
to the department and to the minister. I would hope the minister of the day would pay attention and see that
that person is doing the job. It is going to be a big responsibility but I think there are people certainly well
capable of doing it and I expect that will be done.



Mr. Speaker, before I close I want to pay tribute, not only to the Minister of Community Services like
I did earlier, but those people that have been labouring in the maintenance enforcement field for the last
number of years. I think they have done a great job to try to see that they collected as much money on behalf
of the children and spouses as they could. I think, overall, they have done a really good job and I want to
commend them.



Finally, in closing, I think, Mr. Speaker, that this bill is a major improvement. I think it is equal to
the best in the country. I think the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. We are committed to following
a process of staff training, sensitivity training of the director and all the staff. We are going to have the proper
equipment, the computers. We are going to have a program. This program is a non-judicial model, instead
of repeated trips back to the court when defaults occur, and members have raised this of how frustrating it is,
we will have a process that the person, sometimes without legal resources, have to go back many times to the
court and under our model, it is non-judicial. The director can help the recipient, they can help the spouse and
the children get their money.



With that, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of this bill. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 124, the Maintenance Enforcement
Act. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 128.



Bill No. 128 - Farm Registration Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.



HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to begin the debate on legislation that
will establish a farm registration system in Nova Scotia. During these times of fiscal restraint and declining
public expenditures, there is growing concern in the Nova Scotia farm community that government
expenditures for agriculture should be more clearly targeted towards industry participants actively involved
in agricultural production.



In 1992, the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture began a process to develop the proposal that
would address the issue of better targeting of governmental financial assistance to industry and the need to
explore alternative ways for general farm organizations to obtain the industry financial support that is required
in order for them to carry out their mandate.



Out of this process, a farm registration proposal evolved. During the fall of 1993, individual county
federations of agriculture and provincial commodity groups debated and voted on this proposal. All county
federations and 22 of the 24 provincial commodity groups have voted in favour of this proposal.



In January of this year, the federation submitted, for consideration by government, the farm
registration proposal. Since that time, there have been active discussions between my department and
individuals and industry organizations and the proposal has continued to evolve. Over the past year, there
have been ongoing formal discussions with the industry as represented by the Nova Scotia Federation of
Agriculture and the Freedom to Farm group and by my department on this proposal.

 

 

Mr. Speaker, I wish to acknowledge the work of these individuals and I am very much appreciative
of the efforts made by all. An Act to Provide for a Farm Registration System has been developed based on
these discussions. The purpose of this bill is to provide, first, a farm business registration system designed to
facilitate access to the programs of government by farm businesses. Secondly, the creation of a data base,
which may be used by government departments to verify farm business eligibility for programs of assistance
and for development of agriculture policy. Thirdly, the fair and equitable funding of general farm
organizations by farm businesses.



This legislation does four things. First, it establishes the registration system, which will be operated
by my department and available to all Nova Scotian farmers who report agricultural income to Revenue
Canada. Secondly, it establishes a joint industry and government advisory committee, whose job will be to
develop the policy and procedures used in the operation of the registration system. Thirdly, it establishes a
joint industry and government appeal committee to hear any complaints received respecting a decision made.
Fourth, it provides Governor in Council regulation-making authority, for the policies and procedures
developed by the advisory committee.



I am pleased to note that farm organizations have actively endorsed the concept of a farm registration
system. A total of 12 organizations have written me in recent weeks asking that I move forward with this
legislation. These organizations would represent over 85 per cent of Nova Scotia agricultural production. In
addition, the PC caucus has written me, urging me to introduce this legislation and I thank them for their
support and input.



We all recognize the importance of agriculture and the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture in this
province. I am pleased to show continued government support for this industry and I certainly welcome
comments from the Opposition. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise and speak to this bill
that the minister has brought to the House today. I am of mixed mind with respect to this legislation and I will
say at the outset to the minister that I have not yet decided whether at the close of second reading I will be
supporting the bill or not. Much will depend on what he has to say to the House in response to questions
which are raised in second reading and his responses, one way or the other, will be helpful to me in deciding
whether or not to support the bill.



I am one of those who believe that our responsibility is to make decisions, not to avoid them. I believe
we have a responsibility, once all the arguments are in, to vote yes or no, not to avoid taking the vote by either
abstaining or worse, absenting ourselves from the Chamber in order to avoid taking a position, something
which our electorate certainly should expect from us.



The minister has made reference to 12 organizations which have written him in support of the bill.
I very much want the minister to tell us who those organizations are. That is one thing which will be helpful,
I think, to all of us in understanding just how widespread the support for this is across the entire farming
community.



Secondly, I noticed that the minister has said that this bill will help to facilitate access to
departmental programs. My concern is that this bill not become a vehicle to deny access to programs that are
available through the Department of Agriculture. I am very much looking to the minister to allay that fear and
I hope he will tell me that it is not a well-founded one and indeed convince me that it is not.



I notice that in the bill, with respect to organizations, there is only one organization which is
mentioned and that is the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. I wonder why it is that only that
organization is recognized in the bill, when he tells us that there are probably, I would assume, 11 other
organizations, the 12th supporting this being the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture and why it is that they
are given an exclusive, with respect to the bill. It is, of course, widely recognized and acknowledged that it
is the largest of the organizations but that does not necessarily mean that it is the only one which does and
should have influence within the agricultural community. That aspect of the bill troubles me.



I notice too, that with respect to registration, that a position for a Registrar of Farms will be created
and I note that the bill seems to suggest that this may be a person who is already employed in the Department
of Agriculture and Marketing. I want the minister to assure the House that if it is a person who is not already
in the employ of the department, that that position will be duly advertised and will be competed for on a free,
open and transparent basis, that it will not be somebody simply who is appointed to undertake that task, at
whatever remuneration government may determine.



[11:15 a.m.]



The advisory committee that the minister establishes under this references one person appointed by
each general farm organization. Yet again, there is only one farm organization which is referenced in the bill.
What other organizations might the minister look to, in order to fill out the membership of the advisory
committee?



I also note in the bill that these appointments are made by the minister. I believe these appointments
should be made by Governor in Council. If they are made by the minister, they do not have to go through a
formal process. If they are made under Order in Council, then they do have to go through the formal process
of having an Order in Council issued, whereby the public will then come to know, through the Royal Gazette,
just who has been appointed and, in the case of changes, who has been dis-appointed.



Mr. Speaker, the term for those appointed to the advisory council is wide open. I believe that every
advisory council or committee of government should limit the length of time that any person can be appointed
to it, with respect to successive terms. I believe that in this instance it would be appropriate for the minister
to, through Orders in Council, to appoint persons for a term of three years but to sit for no more than two
consecutive terms. That would ensure there is a continuing turnover. A lot of people like to be appointed to
these organizations and they like to stay appointed to them. It is much more difficult for government to change
people if the law does not require that they be changed. I think the minister should amend the bill he has
before the House in this respect.



I note, too, that the advisory committee is given the authority to provide advice and make
recommendations to the minister on the farm registration process and the development of regulations. Yet
we don’t know who will be on that committee, other than, obviously, the Nova Scotia Federation of
Agriculture. I think that Nova Scotians generally, as well as more specifically the farm community, should
have a better sense of just what organizations are likely to be given the opportunity to have members
appointed from them to the advisory committee, so that we don’t have the Federation of Agriculture, however
much it may be acting, as I am sure it deems itself to be, in the interests of agriculture in Nova Scotia, having
the exclusive influence with respect to that council.



I also notice, Mr. Speaker, that this bill allows that reasonable travelling and living expenses be paid
to members of the advisory committee. Nobody would argue with that but I do very much think that the
minister must drop the reference in the bill which states that the advisory council members may also be paid
such fees as the minister determines. That suggests that they are going to be paid a per diem, they are going
to be paid something for simply sitting on that council. I think we have reached that time in Nova Scotia’s
history where people who are prepared to offer to sit on councils and advisory committees, should be doing
so as good citizens, not because there is a fee associated with it. One of the things I will be looking for the
minister to do is to drop that clause out of this bill, either at the Law Amendments Committee or in
Committee of the Whole House on Bills.



I also notice, Mr. Speaker, that there is a reference here, again, to general farm organizations and
there is, in the appeal process, a person has the right to appeal within 60 days of the decision but there is no
reference here as to how the individual is to be notified. Do they have to find out for themselves? Is there a
letter sent out to the minister? Is there a letter sent out to the advisory council? We do not know. But I do
think that a negative decision rendered by the appeal committee should be sent by registered mail to the
appellant and that the 60 days should begin to count from the date that the registered letter is sent out.



In Clause 12, the Governor in Council, of course, is given the authority to make regulations and that
is appropriate. There is no specific reference, but there is an explicit reference to providing the Governor in
Council the opportunity to dispose of fees that are collected through the registration process. I want the
minister to define for the House and for all of those who are interested in the farming community and in this
bill, just what authorities are going to be provided with respect to the disposition of fees collected, what
process is going to be put in place with respect to the disposition of those fees and to ensure to the House that
that disposition is going to be a fair, open and transparent process.



Mr. Speaker, those are some of the thoughts that I have on this bill. As I have said, I have not yet
determined how I am going to vote at the end of second reading. However, I can assure you that I will be
voting and I am very much looking forward to hearing the minister, in his wrap-up, respond to my comments
and the comments of all other members who will speak to this bill.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak to this bill and
congratulate the Minister of Agriculture on a piece of legislation that he has come forward with that is going
to affect my district immensely.



You would know, Mr. Speaker, that perhaps, with the exception of the Annapolis Valley, the district
of Hants East probably has one of the most concentrated and successful farming areas in the province.
(Interruption) Hants West, I always assumed, would be in the Valley, or the majority of it. But, certainly, from
Falmouth on, Hants County, indeed, has one of the most concentrated farming efforts in the province and it
has been very successful.



One of the reasons for that is that the farm registration system that is coming forward through the
Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, has been recommended by the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture.
There has been some opposition and I think it has been pointed out earlier, some of the groups that are
opposed, for instance the Freedom to Farm people, put forward some arguments with some points or a few
that were reasonable.



I want to congratulate the Minister of Agriculture because he opened the door, he consulted with
these people. I know that I had been to a number of meetings with the minister and with members from the
agricultural community, not just large outfits, small outfits, part-time farmers, farmers from my area,
especially along the shore, for instance, that derive part of their income from farming and part of their income
from other sources.



The minister entertained all the submissions and, as a result, he has come out with a bill that seems
to be satisfactory to just about all the farming interest in the province. That is pretty unique. Because through
many years, we have tried to deal with the varying concerns from different types, not only from the different
produce as opposed to dairy, from the meat industry, the hog producers, all have opposing interests, in many
cases. This minister went forward, listened to all the concerns and came out with a piece of legislation that
seems to satisfy just about everybody.



You know the big plus to this piece of legislation is to put on a registry, individuals that are truly
farmers or involved in a farming industry, so that this does not have to be half a dozen checks. I know in my
district alone, when an individual, who by definition, obviously, all you have to do is drive to these massive
farming production, for instance, through the Milford-Shubenacadie areas, massive farming production. You
just have to drive there and you can see there is no question, this person qualifies as a full-time farmer, but
had to make application through the red tape to show that they qualified for a program. We have had 35 or
40 different programs that the farming communities would be involved with. Each time having to go through
government red tape to prove that they qualified.



What this system does, Mr. Speaker, is to put on record who is going to qualify automatically. It is
pretty rare when a piece of legislation comes forward that actually cuts down on government red tape and
makes immediate action from the program, the dollars get to the people that need them instead of having to
be wasted through administration or a bunch of bureaucracy. That is pretty rare for a piece of legislation that
clear on its face is going to do that. It is applauded by the community.



Mr. Speaker, the fee structure is much more reasonable than originally intended. It opens the door
for people to opt in and opt out with their fees and direct their fees to the different organizations that they feel
the fees will support. That is from basic production at, perhaps, from produce areas right up to a specialized
dairy and hog and beef productions. These are important considerations to what I think is still the primary
producers in this province, the primary producers are farming, fishing, lumbering, mining, these are still
where the dollars, these are still where the jobs come from, everything else comes from that. There may be
a whole of jobs out there nowadays where people are flipping hamburgers for McDonald’s, but I will tell you,
they can’t get to those jobs, you can’t have the basis, you can’t even have the hamburgers to flip until you have
basic production in good health in this province. This is a step towards it.



I want to compliment the minister again. I will advise the minister, I am going to be supporting this
bill and to help it through second reading. I don’t think there is any possibility one could assault the basic
principle of this bill and the work that has been done by that committee. I want to compliment the staff, too.
Because sometimes in our rush to perhaps point fingers at members of the Civil Service, we forget to praise
them. In this case, there was a lot of research done and there has been very little friction. I think the members
of this House will remember at one point a group of people from the Freedom to Farm community, they came
and petitioned us and also picketed. As a result of that input, there have been some changes made that seem
to satisfy the majority of these people. Now, that is a plus. That is another evidence of a government that came
in here to reform, to consult, to listen, to put it all together and put a piece of legislation before the people of
Nova Scotia that is acceptable. I am glad to see my friends in the Opposition Parties basically seem to accept
the principle and I want to congratulate the Premier and the ministers for bringing it forward. I will be
supporting the bill, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I hope that this is the beginning of a new trend where
a member of the government backbenchers will stand and speak on a bill so eagerly, so vigorously and tell
us what is happening, because so often we keep waiting, waiting and hoping.



Mr. Speaker, as a resident of the most populated agricultural area in Nova Scotia, I want to speak
quite vigorously in favour of this bill. The Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture is, I guess, without question
the most knowledgeable Federation of Agriculture in all of Canada. It enjoys the most support from the
greatest percentage of farmers of any area. This year is a banner year, in fact, for the federation, they are
celebrating their 100th Anniversary. There are all kinds of reasons why we should support this bill.



The Federation of Agriculture has represented the wishes of farmers for 100 years and even before
there was the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, in Windsor in 1789, I mean that wasn’t yesterday, Mr.
Speaker, there was the Windsor Agricultural Society and that was the forerunner of, really, the Nova Scotia
Federation of Agriculture.



The Federation of Agriculture supports this farm registration proposal and they have been vigorously
talking to farmers throughout Nova Scotia for the last three or four years. I remember when I was active
myself in the federation in Kings County, we wanted to make the Federation of Agriculture an all inclusive
organization. There were some commodity groups that didn’t belong. The fruit growers, for instance, weren’t
members of the Federation of Agriculture but they would send an observer to the annual meeting. Well, now
I believe that you wouldn’t have a federation meeting without the Fruit Growers Association there. The Potato
and Vegetable Growers Association, the same attitude was there. They realized there was only one way that
the voice of the farmer will be heard and that is by speaking as a united voice.



[11:30 a.m.]



So, the Federation of Agriculture has had a history of working with all farm groups, whether it be
vegetable, beef, poultry, dairy, all the commodities are represented by the Federation of Agriculture. One of
the things that members of the Board of Directors do, the Council of Leaders for the Federation of Agriculture,
they give up their time, they leave their farms. They go to their meetings in Truro, they meet in Yarmouth,
they will meet in Cape Breton and they are constantly leaving their farms to go discuss items of importance
to all Nova Scotians on behalf of their farmers.



The Minister of Natural Resources is a past president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture.
He was active with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture as well, he knows the importance. A former
colleague and member, Ken Streatch, is a past president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. My
colleague for Pictou West has been active in the Pictou County Federation of Agriculture and I suspect he was
probably past president. He has been to many meetings of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture in Truro.



All of the things that the Federation of Agriculture lobbies for, works for, on behalf of the
agricultural community, is done by the volunteer farmers who give of their time, time that they could spend
with their families, perhaps time they could spend on a little vacation. But instead, they have been working
vigorously for the betterment of agriculture in Nova Scotia.



Now, the bill that we have before us, raises a couple of questions for me. Its purpose is designed to
facilitate access to the programs of the government by farm businesses. Well, all farmers must be eligible for
these programs. You can’t segregate the programs and just say you farmers can have it and you farmers can’t.
But you have to be sure who is, in fact, a farmer. This will ensure that we do have knowledge of who, in fact,
are the farmers of Nova Scotia.



Developing agricultural policy, we have enjoyed in Nova Scotia a rapport with farmers that is envied
across Canada. The Federation of Agriculture and the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture staff, have a
working relationship and the minister has a working relationship with the farmers in this province that can
only be envied. Most farm organizations do not get to meet with the minister on a regular basis. Most farm
organizations across Canada are constantly fighting and arguing with their government. But in Nova Scotia,
the Federation of Agriculture and the Minister of Agriculture have been able to sit down and negotiate and
develop policies that we can afford as a province and will help support agriculture.



This is a policy and this is a direction that we have been travelling in for many years and it could be
a model for all departments in government to communicate and associate with the grass roots.



The other need from this farm registration, is the fair and equitable funding of general farm
organizations by farm business. As we know, I remember the first general manager that the Nova Scotia
Federation of Agriculture hired and I think it must have been in the early 1970’s and the Federation of
Agriculture had the astronomical budget, I think it was $15,000 for the whole year; that included the money
that had to be paid for the general manager’s salary, his expenses, the telephone, the secretarial help, I mean
this was big stuff. Before that, it was volunteers on a hit-and-miss basis, with an honorarium. To raise $15,000
among all the farmers in the province was really quite an event.



From that humble beginning, we have now moved and progressed so that we have a Federation of
Agriculture that is staffed by professionals. It is staffed with secretarial help, an office, equipment, computers
and faxes. The Federation of Agriculture is running an office that is equipped for the 20th Century; it is
equipped to keep up to date with the GATT negotiations that are going on. It is equipped to handle
negotiations with free trade. All the farmers who are associated with the trade group, with the free trade
group, with national and international programs, they are in touch with farmers around the world, so that our
policies that the farmers are asking the government to support are based on knowledge, on facts.



This is what we need to build a strong Nova Scotia. We need the Federation of Agriculture and the
farmers to be keeping abreast of all activities that will affect Nova Scotia agriculture, not just in Canada, not
just in Atlantic Canada, but across North America and in Europe, South America and Australia because we
are in a world agricultural community and our Federation of Agriculture can stand right up and be counted
among any farm organization, in any location, anywhere in the world.



That is the kind of an organization we need, because Nova Scotia farmers cannot be led by a group
that is anything but out front. It is a real privilege for us to work with the Federation of Agriculture and the
farmers because they are so knowledgeable and they are so experienced and so interested. They have acquired
the knowledge and they give their time for the betterment of all agriculture. There are very few farmers
involved in the actual executive of the Federation of Agriculture who are meeting on a regular basis in Truro.
There are probably only about 50 farmers who give of their time to be the leaders and then next year there will
be a few added and a few will retire. It is constantly changing, but it is constantly a giving of their time away
from the farm.



It costs a lot of money to be the President of the Federation of Agriculture or to be a director, because
every day you are in Truro at meetings and every evening you get a stack of pages on your fax machine that
you have to read and study. When the environmental bill was tabled in the House, that was faxed to the
federation, the federation faxed it to their environmental committee and the fellows had to pour over it in the
evenings and in the daytime so they could present a brief to the Law Amendments Committee and they could
make representations to others.



This is the kind of an organization that the Federation of Agriculture is. It is what I just described
and it is a whole lot more. They have an annual meeting in Truro, attended by delegates from right across the
province, every farm organization, every farming commodity group, the beef producers, the dairy, the poultry,
the sheep, everybody is represented, the field crops, they are all at this meeting and they all have a voice and
they all are steering agriculture in the direction it must go, so that it can provide the kind of employment that
it does.



Now the farm business means the farming business within the meaning of the Income Tax Act, and
I assume that is the clause that says a $10,000 minimum income for the year, well, I think that is pretty fair.
I mean a person who is running a business and the income is $10,000, it is not too much to ask, I don’t think,
that that be the very minimum. However, the Federation of Agriculture has said look, we realize there are
people who are starting farming on a part-time basis and maybe this year they are doing a little bit and their
gross income is very small and next year they will do a little bit more and, pretty soon, they will go from a
few thousand dollars or maybe even as small as a few hundred and then they turn that business into a farm
of several thousand, several hundred thousand.



When I was farming I had a youngster that used to work every weekend and summers for me. He
started when he was 13. His first purchase after he was working for me was two steers and a cow. He bred the
cow, of course, and it has progressed from there. He is a young man, married now with a family. He has a job,
but he also has a beef herd of 40 head of cattle. He has been building up over the last 15 to 20 years, very
slowly. But, eventually, he will be a very large and successful farmer.



He should be encouraged and he should be part of the Federation of Agriculture because the
federation is working on his behalf and they are working on behalf of the farmer who has several hundred
head of cattle. The federation does not designate its support on the size of your bank account or the size of
your farm. They are working for all of agriculture because we know that the small farmer of today may be
tomorrow’s large farmer or he may stay the way he is. Nobody said you had to become a huge farmer to be
successful. But the federation represents everyone in the industry.



One of the things in the bill says, Clause 3(2), “A commodity group, marketing board or issue-specific group is not a general farm organization for the purpose of this Act.”. That is fine, I have no problem
with that. Clause 3(3), “For the purpose of this Act, the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture is recognized
as a general farm organization . . .”. Is there another general farm organization? The Nova Scotia Federation
of Agriculture, for my money, is the farm organization for Nova Scotia.



Clause 5(1), “The Minister may appoint a person employed . . .”, you know there are going to be two
Department of Agriculture employees who are going to be the registrar and they are going to really be the
operators of this registration process. I think that is fair game because you need an impartial organization to
do that.



But one of the things, when we get down here to Clause 6 (1)(b) it says, “one person appointed by
each general farm organization;”, now when you see the word each, to me that means more than one. If it did
not mean more than one, it would say one person appointed by the general farm organization, but it says by
each. Are there more general farm organizations in this province that the minister knows about or that he is
going to cause to be recognized by the government? Because over on the page beforehand, we see that, Clause
3(2), “A commodity group, marketing board or issue-specific group is not a general farm organization . . .”.
So there must be something that the minister knows that I am looking forward to him sharing so that he can
tell us what are the other general farm organizations he is concerned about and he is going to give recognition
to. Is there any farm organization that is on a par with our Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, celebrating
its 100th Anniversary this year? I would like to know.



To establish the criteria to be a general farm organization for the purpose of this bill is Clause 6 (4),
“The Advisory Committee shall (b) establish the criteria to be a general farm organization . . .”. This is
serious. We need a united, strong voice for agriculture in Nova Scotia. The Federation of Agriculture is it. I
cannot image, however, if the minister is going to enlighten us, I look forward to that.



Each general farm organization shall appoint a registered farm-business owner. I want to know who
or what these other general farm organizations are and how they compare to the Nova Scotia Federation of
Agriculture, 100 years of providing service beyond the call of duty to the farmers. The annual fees will be paid
and if a farm operator says, look, I do not want to pay money I don’t want to be part of this, under the
regulations the Governor in Council may return his fees.



[11:45 a.m.]



Well, perhaps it would be more popular if, rather than under regulations, it was right in the bill that
any persons who feels vigorously that they do not want to be associated with the general farm legislation
system can have his money returned, it might smooth the way. I know there is some opposition. I would not
be so silly as to say there is not opposition to this bill. There are some organizations and groups out there that
I guess don’t like it. We have a press release from a beef farmer in - it doesn’t say where he is located but he
is a beef farmer with a Freedom to Farm association which has 250 members in nine counties, he is quite
opposed to this bill, and that is fine. Nobody would suggest that 100 per cent of the people would support
anything. So I don’t think that is as serious a difficulty that there is an organization that is opposed to this,
I don’t have a problem with that. I think their opposition has made this bill that has been introduced by the
minister perhaps a little better because it is under the scrutiny of a group opposed to it. But even with their
opposition to it, they have to recognize the benefits they have been receiving, by the very existence of the Nova
Scotia Federation of Agriculture.



The Federation of Agriculture supports the modification recently made by the minister, to allow for
refunds and to encourage refunds to people. Now when I used to be a milk producer, the dairy was a member
of the co-op, there were people who didn’t want to be members of the co-op, so it was worked so that they had
a refund. Now why they would want it and why they didn’t want to share capital in the co-op beats me because
eventually we did get all our money that we put in, we got it all back. But there were some that say you have
to make allowances, and there is an allowance for those people in this bill.



Agriculture is so important to the Nova Scotia economy that the Federation of Agriculture wants this
Act. It is going to help the Federation of Agriculture with their funding; it is going to help the farmers in the
province because the funding will be more equitably spread, rather than just a few handfuls of farmers in the
commodity groups, in the dairy and poultry, where it is so easy to do a check-off. There are other farm groups
where you can’t do a check-off because there are so many places to sell your vegetables, there are so many
places to sell your beef, you are selling your tree fruits all over the place so there is no convenient way to have
a check-off, as there is with dairy and poultry, where everybody is funnelled into one or two places to sell their
product.



This will be more equitable and it means that the people who have been paying several thousand
dollars a year in dues to the federation, the dues will be reduced slightly and the people who have been getting
a free ride for a long time won’t be getting a free ride any longer. The fees are not excessive. The ones
suggested, I don’t know if I can even find anything in this little pamphlet I have but the fees suggested are not
excessive. A farmer whose gross sales are up to $10,000 would pay $25. Now, who is going to argue with $25,
I mean, by a weekly basis, is $.50 a week is too much to ask for the benefit that you really are deriving from
becoming a member of an organization that is internationally recognized and nationally recognized for the
assistance to the agricultural industry? Your gross sales up to $25,000, $80 for the whole year, you know that
isn’t even excessive. A farmer who is grossing $250,000, his fee would be proposed to be about $360, that is
a dollar a day. Well, even that isn’t excessive, I don’t think. Somebody that smokes would spend more than
that and who complains about that? So, the fees aren’t excessive.



Some people complain on principle that they don’t want to be a member of an organization. I know
one of the news clippings indicated there was a person, actually, one of my constituents indicated she wasn’t
interested in becoming a member of another organization because her farm already belongs to several. Well,
their farm is involved in several commodities. But let’s look at agriculture just for a minute.



In Nova Scotia, we have almost 4,000 farmers. The revenue generated by those farmers at the
farmgate is $358 million, now that is a big industry. How many industries can you tell me have a gross
generating capacity of $358 million every year, year in, year out, with 4,000 farmers? They are located right
across the province. If I could make an announcement today in this Legislature that Kings County was going
to get a new industry producing $100 million a year, now that would be exciting and I think I would get a
headline. But you know, very quietly, every year, agriculture in Kings County on 580 farms, produces over
$100 million a year at the farmgate. Now, that is not even the processing, that is not all the things that have
added value today, that is what the farmer gets paid, that is the wholesale or the very bottom price, $100
million in Kings County. Now isn’t that amazing!



We just heard from the honourable member for Hants East and he was extolling the virtues of his
area very large agricultural area and he is right. There are 475 farmers in the district of Halifax County and
Hants County and they are producing about 15 per cent of the gross revenue from all of agriculture for the
province. It is the third largest farming area in the province and that is good, 475 farms, that is a big business.
Colchester County, 411 farms and their gross sales are about $35 million to $36 million. That is a big
contribution to any county. Antigonish and Guysborough Counties, 205 farmers, Pictou County, 279 farmers,
in Cape Breton, 250.



When I was lucky enough to be with the Department of Agriculture I travelled around the province,
we went to Yarmouth, Digby, Liverpool, Musquodoboit, Kings County, we travelled from one end of the
province to the other. We went on a couple of trips to Cape Breton Island. There are some pretty exciting
things happening in the agricultural industry in Cape Breton. In the area around Mabou, is a tremendous dairy
operation, there are several dairy farms in the area. Some of the most modern dairy plants in North America
are located in Nova Scotia and some of the most modern in Nova Scotia are located up in the Mabou region.
There are cows and each cow has a computer fastened to her neck on a chain. Did you know that cows have
entered the computer age? As that cow walks into the milking parlour where she is going to be milked, the
computer is hooked up to the screen and it tells you which cow you have got. It gives you her name and her
registration number. It tells you how old she is, how many calves she has had, how much milk she produced
last year, how much milk she has been producing this year, at a glance. I mean, this is in Nova Scotia. This
is not science fiction. This is what the farmers in Nova Scotia are doing, modern.



Down around North Sydney and the Sydney area, one of the largest vegetable farms in eastern
Canada, the Ikings, are growing vegetables, acres and acres of vegetables, exporting to Newfoundland, New
England, St. Pierre, very successful. They are members of the Federation of Agriculture, because the
federation is able to assist them from time to time with policies that are helpful, not just to them, but to the
other farmers in the area. One of the neat things, one of the exciting things about having farmers around, good
farmers promote good neighbours and as the neighbours are watching, they suddenly start adopting some of
the practices and then you get an expansion in the agriculture industry.



Kings County, 580 farmers - my colleague over here says, is that all? - 580 farmers with receipts of
over $100 million a year. That is a pretty good business. Then when you look at the spinoff from agriculture,
this is where we really get into things that are interesting and exciting. There are 16,000 people in Nova
Scotia who derive their employment directly from the agricultural industry, 16,000. Is there another industry
in the province that has 16,000 direct employees? Which industry is it? No, the fisheries does not have that
many employees. Well, the fishing industry used to and the fishing industry is a very important industry, but
there are 16,000 people working today in agriculture, who owe their livelihood, owe their family income to
the workings of the farms.



This is kind of exciting. In Kings County, there are 580 farmers, but we have 4,500 jobs that depend
on agriculture. A few years ago, I was in one of the farm machinery dealers. He sells trucks to the trucking
industry (Interruptions) Yes, he is a good man.



Anyway, he sells trucks, highway tractors. No, nothing half ton, big trucks. Anyway, what he said
to me was strange. He said, you know when agriculture is thriving, our business is booming. This fellow sells
trucks. He does not sell farm trucks or farm tractors, it is just the highway trucks. But agriculture in Kings
County is so important that it spills over and it affects all industry in Kings County. And little wonder, 4,500
jobs, one-third of all the jobs in Kings County exist due to the presence of agriculture.



The poultry farmers that we have in Kings County, we have two poultry plants that process these
birds. There are a couple of hundred employees at each plant. (Interruptions) No, I did not.



It is a real success story. It has enabled Colonel Sanders, which we all know, to be so successful
because one of the plants supplies Atlantic Canada for them. It is a success and it depends on agriculture and
the success of agriculture depends on a strong voice and that is the Federation of Agriculture. It is all tied in
together and this bill brings us all together because the bill the minister introduced will see that proper
funding is applied to the agricultural association and that they will be able to continue to do the good work
that they have been doing for a long time.






[12:00 p.m.]



Tree fruits, the Annapolis Valley is known around Canada, probably around the world, because we
travel so much, for its apples. It starts the tourism season for Nova Scotia and last year the honourable
Minister of Tourism was the special guest and he watched the parade and he took part in the festivities and
it was a great thing. The very start of the tourism season. I trust that this year the Minister of Tourism will
come back again and enjoy the hospitality of the Apple Blossom Festival. This year it is the weekend of May
25th, so if any of you are planning ahead several months, mark the May 25th on your calendar and come to
Kentville and the Annapolis Valley to enjoy the Apple Blossom Festival.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for allowing me the opportunity
to rise for just a moment to introduce to you and to all members two very distinguished guests seated in your
gallery. I am delighted this morning to introduce to you and to all members the Leaders of the Progressive
Conservative Party of the Provinces of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, Ms. Pat Mella the Leader
of the Conservative Party in P.E.I. and Mr. Dennis Cochrane the Leader of the Conservative Party in New
Brunswick.



Just before they rise to receive what I trust will be a warm welcome from all colleagues I might just
simply let you, Mr. Speaker, and other members know that Pat and Dennis were here to join with me in a
press conference. A press conference just completed in which we call upon the three Maritime governments
to appoint an all-Party legislative and citizen committee to analyze the impact of the proposed federal social
security changes on all Maritimers. Not just here in Nova Scotia but all Maritimers and on provincial budgets
to co-ordinate information to recommend alternative policies, to create a unified Maritime position respecting
social security and to make joint presentation of that position to Ottawa. Ms. Mella and Mr. Cochrane came
to Halifax today, joined in that representation to the three Maritime governments and we would hope that
there will be a positive response to that request. Having said that I would invite Pat and Dennis to rise and
receive the usual warm welcome of all members of our House. (Applause)



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable Leader of the Opposition for
making such a nice introduction and what a great day for them to be here because you know there is a lot of
agriculture involved in Prince Edward Island and in New Brunswick as well. One of the things they do grow
and I think you have about 75,000 acres of potatoes in Prince Edward Island, and they have about 60,000
acres of potatoes in New Brunswick (Interruption) They are getting a fixed link so they can bring them over
here more easily.



One of the commodities we really aren’t noted for in Nova Scotia is potatoes. We do grow potatoes
but we pale in comparison. We grow about 5,000 acres of potatoes in Nova Scotia and half of those potatoes
are grown right in Kings County and they are used in the processing industry for making those bags of
Hostess Frito-Lay potato chips. Any time you are in the store I urge you support and buy a little Kings County
potato in one of those little bags and enjoy it. I wish we did have the potato industry that they have in Prince
Edward Island and New Brunswick, but our soil and our climatic conditions are that much different that the
potato grows better in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick than it does in Nova Scotia. Now I know
that is hard for you to believe, isn’t it? Did you know that? Well, that is the fact. That is why we have so few
acres of potatoes growing in Nova Scotia. But still, 5,000 acres is a good piece of business.



Where we really shine in Nova Scotia, though, is in poultry and in hogs. Almost one-half of the hog
production in Maritime Canada is right in Nova Scotia, and you might be interested to know that over one-half of the hogs grown in Nova Scotia are grown in Kings County. In Kings County, we have that beautiful
new processing plant, Larsen Packers. The Federation of Agriculture was instrumental in the rebuilding and
the rebirth of Larsen Packers when it was rebuilt a few years ago at a cost of some $10 million. It enabled the
hog industry in Nova Scotia to prosper.



At the present time, the price - and price is a peculiar thing - but hog production was said to go up
slightly in the United States so, immediately, the price of hogs in Chicago went down and just as quick as a
wink, the price of hogs in Atlantic Canada went down as well. It went down to a level that hog farmers in
Nova Scotia are currently losing upwards of $10 to $20 per hog. Every time they ship one to market, they are
losing money and they have asked the minister to lend them assistance and to look into some kind of program
that will see them over this little temporary hurdle. I know he is looking into that and I know that he is going
to help them. The hog industry is so important. In the run of a year, there are almost 200,000 hogs grown in
Nova Scotia and that is a big industry.



The egg industry is important in Nova Scotia, as well. We have all manner of agricultural production
that is anywhere in Canada is right here. We even have tobacco. There is only, I think, four tobacco farmers
at the present time and I think in a few years, there won’t be any, but it used to be a very large industry.
Blueberries in Nova Scotia, one of the real success stories. Now the blueberry farmers originally were a little
bit opposed to this bill but, I believe, to the best of my knowledge, they have come around and have seen the
benefit of supporting this bill and supporting the Federation of Agriculture.



One of the unique things about blueberries is they only grow in three regions: they grow in Nova
Scotia; they grow in New Brunswick; and they grow in Maine. The organization that markets and develops
and supports blueberries is international. It is made up of Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and I
think that is the only international farm association in all of Canada. They just work hand-in-glove because
we are the only area in the world where they grow these delicious little wild blueberries.



The Federation of Agriculture supports the blueberry industry very vigorously and the blueberry
industry is a growing industry; it is expanding, and one of the nice things about it is it is importing money.
They are selling the blueberries off-shore, they are selling them in Europe and in Japan and our honourable
Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, his father and his uncle are very much involved in the blueberry
industry and our minister’s father worked with the Department of Agriculture’s engineers to design the world’s
first automatic mechanical blueberry harvestor. It actually works better than people picking berries by hand,
this tractor-mounted machine that he built; and he is still building them and selling them in Canada and the
United States.



So we have a varied agricultural industry. We have an important agricultural industry. But what we
need is a voice. We need the voice of agriculture to be heard. One of the ways is to make the Federation of
Agriculture stronger, and one of the ways to make it stronger is to make sure that it is adequately funded so
that when there is an important meeting in Ottawa, the federation delegates can go without saying, oh-oh, we
don’t have enough money to send a couple of farmers to Ottawa or if the federation has to prepare a brief and
they need legal advice, they don’t have the problem of saying, look, we don’t have the money to pay a lawyer.
These are real facts and if the federation is going to hold a meeting in Cape Breton, they need the money to
hire the hall.



This is what the Federation of Agriculture is really all about, it is representing the wishes of the Nova
Scotia farmer, not just with our Department of Agriculture but with the federal Department of Agriculture
and with the planning and drawing up of legislation.



Agriculture is so important in each and every area of our province. You can’t pick an area of the
province that it isn’t. Digby, Annapolis Counties, 307 farmers located in those two counties. Can you tell me
an industry in Digby-Annapolis that has 307 owners and I would have to say probably 1,000 employees?
Where is it? We take agriculture for granted sometimes because it is there. It is exciting and we have to keep
telling people of the exciting developments because it is a changing industry.



Nova Scotia is at the forefront of the blueberry industry with the blueberry harvester invented by the
staff at the Department of Agriculture and Marketing and Ross Bragg’s father, they built this thing in Oxford
in the machine shop. (Interruption) We just had an interjection from a Cumberland County person but the
Federation of Agriculture supports that kind of innovation.



Lunenburg County; not known for agriculture but there are over 200 farmers in Lunenburg. I think
when I went with the Department of Agriculture, the first area I went to visit was Lunenburg County and we
met with some beef producers, poultry producers, agriculture is active. We think of Lunenburg County, well,
they have fishing and stuff, but there are 225 farms and they are producing 4 per cent of the gross receipts for
all of Nova Scotia’s agriculture, in Lunenburg and Queens Counties, that is tremendous. Is there another
industry down there with 225 employees? What is it?



The list goes on, Yarmouth and Shelburne another area that is noted for things other than farming,
103 farmers. One of the most successful, independently owned dairies is located in Yarmouth. Last year our
caucus had the privilege of spending two days in Yarmouth visiting with people and one of the industries we
stopped to visit was Cook’s Dairy. I think really all members of the Legislature and everybody in the province
should drop down and see a real family business. The president is a Cook and the general manager is a Cook,
they are all members of the family and they have a very great little market because Yarmouth is a little bit
isolated and they are sitting there, they had the first plastic bag machine to put milk in a bag, in Nova Scotia,
a few years ago.



Last Christmas, and I want to somehow get hold of them between now and Christmas because, when
we were there they gave us a special ice cream. I don’t know how many fruit flavours they had in the ice cream
but there were peaches and cherries and plums, it was the most delicious ice cream you have ever seen in your
life, only available in Yarmouth. After they treated us to it I said, you fellows should patent this stuff and sell
it because nobody, anywhere, has made ice cream as good as Cook’s Dairy in Yarmouth. It was a Christmas
special so I guess this is the time of year that I better get hold of them and if the weather gets cold enough I
could put it on the bus and they could ship it up.



[12:15 p.m.]



Agriculture is unique, and in Yarmouth 103 farmers, I bet people just take it for granted, but there
are 103. The honourable member for Hants East was talking a few minutes ago and telling us how important
agriculture is in Hants County. He said it was the second most important agricultural area in the province.
He was bragging and he should and he was almost right. There are 475 farmers in Halifax-Hants County.
They kind of lump Halifax County and Hants County together. But 475 is a big number of farmers. The only
other counties that are bigger are Kings County and Cumberland County.



So you have a very significant agricultural industry and it is producing 15 per cent of the gross
receipts. The gross receipts are $358 million for the year, so I suppose it is $35 million and a half of that, it
is probably about $45 million a year. That is a big contribution. Do you have another industry that is putting
out $45 million a year in your area? No, I did not think so.



Do you see what I am telling you and he just proved it was right. Agriculture is taken for granted and
it should not be. It is taken for granted because our farmers are so progressive and the Federation of
Agriculture is an organization that does not send out nasty press releases, it does not organize marches and
tractor parades and make a nuisance of itself. It is an organization that believes in conciliation and it believes
in discussion. The Minister of Agriculture in our province and officials from the Department of Agriculture
meet frequently with the federation and when there is a problem, as there is now in the hog industry, they are
meeting.



When there was a problem a few years ago with the fur industry in Nova Scotia, the federation was
there with the fur producers to meet with the department and the minister to solve the problem. It was
important that that was the way it was done. It was not done through the media. It was done quietly and it was
done. I think that is one of the difficulties at the present time because there are some organizations that say,
well, we are not in favour of this, the Federation of Agriculture. But it is because they forget and they do not
realize some of the things that the federation is really doing for them.



A few days ago, I was at the annual meeting of the Kings County Federation of Agriculture in
Kentville. I suppose there were probably 100 farmers there and the meeting started at 7:00 p.m. and it got over
at about 11:30 p.m. and that was a lot of stuff. They had a little list and if I could find it, I would like to read
it.



“Why support the Kings County Federation of Agriculture?”. Just let me highlight a few of these
reasons because they do not just pertain to Kings County, but to all of the areas of the province. “An
organization is needed to handle concerns of all farmers, such as land use, taxes, vehicle registration and
environmental concerns, etc.”. Those are four good reasons to belong to the Federation of Agriculture because
all farmers are interested in land use. Certainly, the farmer at home who is trying to expand his poultry barn
and the municipality said, no, you cannot because your barn will be 1,000 feet away from somebody’s house.
Build it up the road a little bit farther and totally block the view of your neighbor’s house so he cannot even
see out his front door. That is land use and the federation is there to help this guy try to negotiate common
sense with the municipality and their planning department. So far, there has been no common sense, but we
are hopeful that there will be.



Taxes, who is not interested in taxes? The Federation of Agriculture is there to help farmers negotiate
with governments on taxes. Vehicle registration is very important. Your tractor on the farm never sees
highway. You buy a license plate for it. The federation told the Department of Transportation why do we
register them every year? We do not drive them on the road. So, finally, the Department of Transportation
said look, I guess you are right. So now it is a no expiry plate, you just buy it once and it is there and that is
good. Who doesn’t have environmental concerns and what organization is better equipped to deal with
environmental concerns than the Federation of Agriculture and the farmers because who, what group, what
organization is closer to the environment than farmers?



The Environment Department is bringing in legislation, some of it is good and some of it is going
to be very difficult, not just for farmers in the province but some of these new parts of the bill that the
Department of the Environment have brought in are going to make it pretty near impossible for some
businesses to even exist in the province. The Federation of Agriculture has done a little critique on this bill
to point out what they do like and what they don’t like and what they can live with and they have made
suggestions at the Law Amendments Committee.



That is just one little line on why you should be a member of the federation. Number two, a common
voice is needed in order for all farmers to lobby government on common concerns and carry out the critical
agricultural awareness. Well, that is what I am doing this morning, to a small degree, is pointing out to you,
Mr. Speaker, and through you to all members of the House, the importance to Nova Scotia of agriculture. The
Federation of Agriculture has an agricultural awareness committee and they are trying to spread the word
because sometimes people just forget, just for a moment, but they forget how important agriculture really is
to Nova Scotia. The third reason why you should be a member of the federation, the organization should be
complementary to other organizations, associations and boards.



Well, you see we have the milk producers, we have the broiler producers, we have the turkey
producers, we have the fruit growers, we have the potato and vegetable growers, the beef and the cattle, the
Nova Scotia Cattlemen’s Association; there is a very long list of associations. What you need is a clearing
house and for all of the associations to send a representative, and sit down and discuss and then after all
agricultural commodity groups and all interested farmers have had their say the federation comes out the other
end of the tunnel with a voice, a voice that they can say, we represent the farmers in Nova Scotia and this is
what the farmers think.



Now, it is a very helpful thing to the minister to have confidence that when he meets with the
Federation of Agriculture they are telling him exactly what the farmers are thinking. If he couldn’t do that,
he could meet with the board of producers and then he could meet with the Egg Producers’ Association and
then he could meet with the Dairymen’s Association, the Cattlemen’s Association, the potato growers and he
could get all kinds of different ideas and he wouldn’t be sure exactly what the farmers wanted but, by having
a strong Federation of Agriculture, he could sit down with the federation executive and they could tell him
exactly the position of the farmers of Nova Scotia, and that is helpful to the minister. All of the organizations
should pull together to promote and enhance the true image of agriculture.



Well, one of the things that is kind of interesting - and that is another reason to join the federation -
sometimes we have the impression that people who are farmers are kind of hayseeds. Well, what we should
do is go to a Federation of Agriculture meeting and you will find out that the farmers in Nova Scotia are
businessmen. They are well-educated, they arrive in a suit and a tie. These guys are there to do business and
then go home. They aren’t there to fool around and it is a refreshing, it is exciting to be part of a Federation
of Agriculture meeting because they are dealing with topics like free trade, the GATT, farmers in Nova Scotia
know more about the General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade than any other segment because it affects them -
they know more about chemicals and chemical imbalances, they know more about the mathematical ways to
figure things out. (Interruption) Farmers today are not like the stereotypes you sometimes see. Farmers today
are some of the best-educated, most well-informed of any group or organization that we have.



We should join the federations because we must all be accountable for our actions. Any of us who
do things that will have a negative effect on agriculture, such as making bad decisions concerning the
environment will, as a result, make it even harder for all of us to carry on our business.



Those are five reasons why the farmers should be members of the Federation of Agriculture. That
is why the government introduced this bill because the Federation of Agriculture, at its meeting - I remember,
I was there for part of the discussion when the farmers were talking about this - the support from each
commodity group and each area of the province. Now each county sends delegates to the Federation of
Agriculture meeting and each delegate is certainly speaking on behalf of the commodity group he represents
or the region of the province he comes from. They discussed farm registration. It was not unanimous. It was
not the most popular thing in the world but you know, they had a meeting of the minds because they realized,
as I just read, five reasons why you should be a member of the Federation of Agriculture. Those farmers
realized probably 50 more reasons why they should become members of the federation, why they should
support it, and why Nova Scotia needs one strong voice representing all of agriculture in our province.



Now, my time, apparently, is pretty near up so I will take my seat for the time being. I know the
minister will have further comments later and I trust that he will, in fact, answer some of the questions that
I posed during my agricultural awareness discussion this morning and my talk on this bill. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ARCHIBALD: He has roots in the Annapolis Valley. You fellows did not know his farming
background.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise and speak for
a few moments on Bill No. 128. As the member for Kings North indicated, I do have some brief history in
the farming industry and the agriculture industry. When I grew up in the Valley, short as it was, it was
certainly a memorable experience and some day when I am in a position, perhaps, to make some money at
it, then maybe I will be able to return.



This whole question of a farm registration system has certainly been a controversial issue. Mr.
Speaker, over the past two years, I believe, there has been some considerable debate at meetings of the
Federation of Agriculture and at their annual convention there have been rallies by people for and against the
idea of the farm registration system. I know that there has been a considerable amount of work done by the
minister’s department on this question.



I have had the opportunity to meet with the Federation of Agriculture representatives on their
intentions behind this whole proposal of a farm registration system. I must say that the presentations always
seem to make a fair bit of sense to me. It is not unlike the need in the fisheries to bring all the groups together
and give them an opportunity to be represented by an organization which was self-financed and self-funded.
I think there is some real value in that. Certainly, of course, in the trade union movement you have mandatory
dues that are paid by union members, deducted from their salaries and paid into the coffers of the union that
represents those individuals and that pays for the services that are necessary in order to represent the needs
and the interests of the people that make up that organization and as is the case in many of those examples
or most of those examples that I have cited, it is decisions that are made in terms of how to use that money,
how much of it will be spent on administration, how much of it will be spent on publicity, how much of it will
be spent on different programs, services and education, is a democratic decision that is made by the
democratically elected executive and by the annual or biannual conventions which generally give everyone
involved an opportunity to have their say, perhaps yea or nay.



[12:30 p.m.]



Mr. Speaker, there have been a number of concerns raised about this whole question of farm
registration and what appeared to be the mandatory nature of the farm registration system. The opposition
came primarily from the owners of smaller farms. They were concerned that if they were required to
participate in this organization that they felt was largely controlled by larger farm interests, by large land
owners and operators in different agricultural sectors, that they would have very little say in how, in fact, that
money was spent or in the decisions that were made and that they as a small or minority group within that
particular organization would have to pay monies out of their small reserves in order to maintain it and yet
they would have very little say on the decisions that were actually made and very little interest in those same
decisions.



The other thing, of course, and I think that mandatory question has been dealt with, the issue of the
$10,000 ceiling income still raises some concerns, I understand, in that (Interruption) Sorry? No, the $10,000
is still there, isn’t it? (Interruption) Oh, it is gone. Well, that is good. The question that I was beginning to
address was the idea that in order to be defined as a farmer and, therefore, eligible for some of the programs
through the Department of Agriculture, then you had to be earning $10,000 or more. The concern was that -
for example with blueberry, beekeepers or maple producers in those sectors - Mr. Speaker, those people are
often in those industries as a part time or as a sideline to doing something else. Or sometimes people are into -
and this is an important part of the history of our province, is the whole question of mixed farming - farming
in way that sort of supplements what it is they do the rest of the year, whether it is to cut and haul pulpwood
during the winter or whether it is to fish in the spring and the fall and farm in the summer, the income may
not be up to that $10,000 threshold and people were concerned, therefore, that that would exclude them from
the various provisions within this particular farm registration system.



So, the concerns that were brought to my attention over the past couple of years about the whole idea
of farm registration were the question of the mandatory nature of it, were the question of the exclusion, on
the one hand, of the small farmer, the advertent or inadvertent promotion of the big farmer, of the large
farming interests by some of the restrictions within the farm registration system, in terms of access to
programs and tax benefits and so on.



The final issue is escaping me at this particular time; maybe it will come back and maybe it won’t.
My position has always been, whether it is dealing with the Federation of Agriculture or the Department of
Agriculture on this issue, that I felt that those concerns were legitimate and had to be answered. If the Nova
Scotia Federation of Agriculture, for example, wanted to maintain a fairly legitimate position on this question,
that it was not good enough to just make a proposal and get it ratified by, perhaps, a small percentage of
people at a convention.



I did not have to go into that at any great degree, Mr. Speaker, because leadership at the Nova Scotia
Federation of Agriculture, I sensed, were very much in tune with those kinds of concerns, and, my
understanding, have worked quite diligently, over the past number of months and the past year or so, to work
with those groups who were indicating there, that they were concerned with a number of these issues. They
have attempted, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture staff, to try to come up with a piece of
legislation and with a program, that would, in fact, respond to those concerns, include as many people as
possible, but only on a voluntary basis, not set up exclusionary provisions that would prejudice people because
of the size of their farm.



Mr. Speaker, I have not had the opportunity yet to hear from some of those people as to whether they
believe that this particular bill has done that. But, I understand that there are still some concerns with the farm
registration bill, but will have an opportunity, I would suggest, at the Law Amendments Committee to hear
presentations from those different groups.



As I understand it, again, the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture has consulted, for example, with
the Freedom to Farm organization on some of their concerns. I, though, at the same time, understand from
some of the Freedom to Farm people, they do not feel that their concerns were adequately addressed. Now,
I think it is important that we have an opportunity, at the Law Amendments Committee, to hear directly from
those groups as to what this bill provides as they understand. How does it affect them and how does it relate
to their concerns? They, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest, are the best people in order to lay out those particular
concerns.



So, I guess, in short, I have been interested in this particular issue for going on now, two years. Since
it has been around, I have been involved in trying to address the concerns of some and the wishes of others.
I will be interested, and will be looking forward to, understanding from those people directly involved how,
in fact, Bill No. 128 addresses the concerns and the wishes that they have, with respect to the farm registration
system.



Mr. Speaker, I will, at this point, on my behalf and not necessarily on the behalf of my caucus
members, but I will be voting to support this bill moving forward through second reading, to the Law
Amendments Committee, where we will have an opportunity to understand, to listen to and, hopefully,
understand what is the position of those people directly affected. Depending, of course, at that point, whether
or not we feel that there is some merit to concerns that are raised with this particular piece of legislation, then
we will have the opportunity, either in the Law Amendments Committee or Committee of the Whole House
on Bills, to propose amendments that we feel may be justified in response to some of the issues and some of
the concerns, that we have heard at the Law Amendments Committee.



So, Mr. Speaker, with those few brief remarks and comments, I look forward to the further debate
on this issue at the Law Amendments Committee.



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I stand this afternoon in support of An Act to Provide for
a Farm Registration System, Bill No. 128 and I want to commend the minister for bringing this bill forward.
I know he has worked extremely hard. He has met with farmers from one end of this province to the other and
back again several times. I do not think anybody in this House can say that the honourable Minister of
Agriculture and Marketing has done this extemporaneously. He has certainly done his work, and I applaud
and commend the minister. (Applause) Yes, he deserves it.



On November 8th, I attended the Colchester County Federation of Agriculture meeting up in,
(Interruption) - no, it was not in the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley - it was up in the beautiful community
of Truro at the agricultural college and we had a very large turnout. I was pleased, because I had been asked,
of course, to bring greetings on behalf of the province to the farmers and they were very warm, very receptive.



One of the first questions that came up was, how do you think the minister is getting along with the
farm registration legislation? I said, well, I think he is getting along very well. Occasionally I talk to him on
a somewhat informal basis and he told me most of the i’s had been dotted, most of the t’s had been crossed.
Most of the areas of concern had been addressed. He was not really comfortable with all of the areas of
concern but there were a couple of outstanding issues but for the most part, all areas of concern had been
addressed. There had been some compromising made on behalf of the federation and I think mostly on behalf
of the federation and the right to farm. The freedom farmers, of course, were working hard and watching this
with somewhat bated breath, Mr. Speaker.



As you may or may not know, I was born and raised on a dairy farm in the beautiful Musquodoboit
Valley. I am extremely proud of my heritage and culture and we were extremely fortunate back then - and
several years before that - people were pleased, too, that we had the Federation of Agriculture to speak for us.
I think it is the only voice, it is certainly a strong voice to speak for the agricultural community in this
province. But not only a strong voice to speak for us in Nova Scotia, but it is a strong voice to speak for us
nationally and it has proven itself to be a strong voice to speak for us internationally. The honourable Minister
of Natural Resources has done that in his, I suppose we could call it prior career, so to speak.



So, the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture has been around for some 100 years. It is a trusted
organization. It really cares, Mr. Speaker, about the agriculture industry. You know, here in Nova Scotia, we
are very fortunate because all aspects of agriculture are carried on or conducted, at least, in this province. We
have poultry farmers, we have dairy farmers, blueberry, apples, you name it, we pretty well have it in this
beautiful province.



Now there has been some concern expressed by different people, I don’t believe on behalf of any one
organization in particular. But some people were concerned, as the previous speaker had mentioned, about
this $10,000 threshold that was in place. The minister, and I again commend the minister for working with
the federation and they did compromise and that threshold has been removed. It is not in the registration
legislation. So that was a very sticky, very contentious issue that has been removed. So nobody can say in
order to be a bona fide farmer, or a legitimate farmer, you have to have sales of $10,000. That has been
removed.



This new system, Mr. Speaker, will simplify farmer identification with all government departments.
Control of program access will remain with the departments and the fee is fully refundable. I understand
nobody is forcing you, twisting your arm, to join. You do not have to join but I would encourage all farmers
in this province to join because there is some concern about misuse, if you want, or a little bit of abuse
respecting the farm plight. There is a certain amount of abuse, perhaps, regarding the tax exemption card that
farmers who are not bona fide do have. So those are some of the concerns that will be removed and it gives
government an opportunity to get a better grasp on that particular concern.



There are 16,000 direct employees in the agriculture industry in Nova Scotia. I do not think there
are too many industries in this province, and especially with the decline or in some cases, the demise of the
fishery, that can boast that they have 16,000 direct employees. I know the forestry industry has some 30,000
direct/indirect but I certainly will not get into that, Mr. Speaker, now. I am trying to be germane and stick to
the issue. Some farmers are concerned. The smaller farmer sees this, perhaps, as an infringement or they feel
that perhaps the government is impinging on their civil liberties and I don’t think that is the case at all. This
will help the small farmer as much as it will help the larger farmer.



[12:45 p.m.]



I went through the bill and, in Clause 2, “The purpose of this Act is to provide for (a) a farm-business
registration system designed to facilitate access to the programs of government by farm businesses; (b) the
creation of a data base that may be used (i) by government departments to verify farm-business eligibility for
programs of assistance, . . .”. I think it is only reasonable that the government would want to know about the
eligibility of different businesses but in this case, of course, we are talking about the agriculture business. I
don’t see too much problem with that, Mr. Speaker.



As of 1990, we had some 633 farms in Nova Scotia in the dairy business. We have 1,011 beef farms,
Mr. Speaker, 99 farmers are in the business of raising pigs in the pork business, and I believe there is around
117 or 120 farmers who are in the poultry business. So, farming in Nova Scotia is a big business.



Just before I conclude, I would like to comment that the President of the Nova Scotia Federation of
Agriculture, Mr. Jim Burrows, who is a constituent of mine in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, has said it
best - I think he can say it better, in fact, he may make a good politician - he said Wednesday, “. . . the bill
is designed to reduce government bureaucracy by streamlining the process farmers must go through to qualify
for benefits. Many now have to apply through four departments which all have different qualifications.”.



So, it is extremely important that we do streamline the process and cut back on some of the
bureaucracy. Well, even last night we met with the Halifax County Small Business Association out in
Sackville and that is one of the concerns that they have too, about the vast amount of bureaucracy that you
must go through, especially if you are a small-business person here in Nova Scotia.



Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the minister and I will be supporting this going on to the Law
Amendments Committee. Thank you very much.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on Bill No. 128, not because I am a farmer
or because I know a great deal about the farming industry, but because I come from an area where there are,
indeed, a number of farms, some large and a great many small farms.



Mr. Speaker, I lived for many years in Falmouth, which is just across the river from the Town of
Windsor in Hants West. That area, originally a New England village, was primarily engaged in the apple
industry in the early days. But with the growth of the Town of Windsor and the easier access to the city, it has
become very much a bedroom community for a number of people who work in the Halifax-Dartmouth metro
area, and for those who are employed across the river in Windsor. In consequence, the farms there,
particularly the apple orchards, have been cut up into smaller and smaller blocks and properties now in the
Falmouth area that are not just lots, range, I suppose, up to about 10 acres in size.



These people, under no manner or means, are farmers, but, however, they have a very definite
interest in the land. Some of them for recreation purposes are running a few horses and being engaged in
activities on the equestrian side. Others have a few sheep. Some have a few head of cattle, but all in all, Mr.
Speaker, they are very small landholders, very small operators in the farming community.



Mr. Speaker, I have had a number of these people approach me because they still use some of the
programs that are available through the Department of Agriculture. They were among those others in this
province who were not willing to join the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, yet they still wished to
access, as I say, the programs provided under the Department of Agriculture.



As a consequence of that , Mr. Speaker, they had approached the minister and they have been
approaching the Department of Agriculture for several years to make the payment of fees to the Nova Scotia
Federation of Agriculture as a refundable levy. The minister has, in essence, done that. However, the other
night I was at an event where there were a number of people from the Falmouth area, as well as from other
areas around my constituency. They asked if I would say a few words in second reading on this bill with
regard to the fact that the refunding of fees is going to be in regulations rather than in the bill.



They are not particularly happy with that solution to their problem because they feel that while the
Governor in Council may make regulations to refund the fees, that there is nothing to stop the Governor in
Council deleting those regulations without any necessity to come to the Legislature and change the particular
piece of legislation.



The clause that I am speaking about is the regulation clause within the bill, which is Clause 12. I am
just making a point to the minister. I have nothing against the particular legislation because I have a large
number of farmers in my area who think that this is just the cat’s pyjamas. However, there are a significant
number, as I say, in my riding and across this province, Mr. Speaker, who would evidently like to see the
refunding of fees not being by regulation, but being within the bill itself.



So, Mr. Speaker, with those few words and thoughts, I will be supporting this bill through second
reading and I have asked the minister to give consideration, if he would, to taking a look at that particular
aspect of the bill. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the Legislature today to speak to
Bill No. 128, An Act to Provide for a Farm Registration System. I would first of all say, congratulations to
the minister for bringing this bill into the House for consideration. I might say that I had the pleasure a couple
of years ago, or whatever time went by, to have been in the position of Minister of the Department of
Agriculture and Marketing. We were, even at that time, talking with the federation with regard to this type
of legislation.



So it has been going on for quite some time, trying to put a bill together that would be satisfactory
to all the farmers across this province. My colleague the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley did
congratulate the minister and I do too, in pulling this all together and presenting it.



Mr. Speaker, one of my colleagues wants to make an introduction.



MR. SPEAKER: By all means. The honourable member for Kings West.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and through you to all
members of the House, in the gallery, Gerry Buchan, the former Warden of Kings County. Gerry, welcome
to the Legislature. (Applause)



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I, too, welcome the former Warden of Kings County, who I know and
I am pleased that he is here today.



The minister did meet with, I understand that the minister did meet with all the groups, the
Federation of Agriculture and the smaller groups of farmers, the Freedom to Farm Association. They have
some concerns about the bill and I do have some concerns about the bill myself and I will address those later
on.



I want to talk about the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture which is made up of organizations in
each of the counties across this province and of course, the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture belongs to
the Canadian Federation of Agriculture as well. It is the voice of agriculture in Nova Scotia. It is the voice
that has represented the farmers in this province and as my colleague for Kings North said, over 100, they
are celebrating their 100th Anniversary this year. He spoke, too, about the Windsor Agricultural Society that
was set up in, I believe he said, 1782 or whatever and I know that the Pictou Agricultural Society was set up
late in the 1800’s. In fact, they are still going, they are the people, the small group that run the Pictou-North
Colchester Exhibition.



The Federation of Agriculture was started by the farmers to have a voice, to make their views known
to governments and for things that would improve agriculture in Nova Scotia. I had the opportunity to belong
to that Federation of Agriculture when I was a farmer. In fact, even before I really got involved in farming,
I worked with the Department of Agriculture many years ago and worked very hard with the Federation of
Agriculture. I was made secretary of the Pictou County Federation of Agriculture and I served in that position
for over seven years. I had a lot of good experiences and met a lot of farmers in the county that I wouldn’t have
the opportunity to and it probably helped me in 1978, the fact that I did do that.



Each county, of course, sends representation to the annual meeting in Truro and I remember back
in 1955, that we were at an annual meeting in Truro on the Esplanade in Truro where they had the meetings
at that time and I see the member for (Interruptions) What was the hotel? It was the old Scotian Hotel and the
member for Colchester North is telling me that and I remember being there. One of the things they talked
about at that meeting back in 1955 was trying to get exemption for registration of farm trucks, back in 1955.
I thought, my gracious, this would be a great thing at that time but what they were asking for was not for the
half-ton trucks, they were asking to get a license for larger trucks, over 2 ton trucks.



The license at that time for those would probably be $150 to $175 and a lot of us had trucks. I didn’t
have one at that time but a lot of the farmers had a truck that they probably took to Truro once a week or
maybe hauled their manure up the road or moved their cattle from one place to another but they really weren’t
on the road very much. That was the reason why the government of the day and I don’t even know what
government was in power, did give for trucks over a ton, an exemption of their license and brought it down
to, I believe it was $20 at that time. I thought that was a great thing and I was pretty impressed, I was only
a young fellow, 19 or 20 years old at the time and I was very pleased that we were able to achieve this through
the Federation of Agriculture.



You know, I have to admit the thing got out of hand. I really think the thing got out of hand, that
now we are giving farmers an exemption on a half-ton truck which costs roughly $60 or $75 a year to license.
But when the initial asking was done, it was to exempt the larger trucks which cost so much to register, to
give the farmer a break on that. Now the thing got out of hand, we have the fishermen, we have the farmers
and I go along the street and I see a farm plate and I am saying this guy has got a 4 X 4 and he never milked
a cow or fed a beef cow, or looked after any kind of a farm in his life. I think the thing got out of hand and
I think this bill may be able to draw those people back and set up a list that bona fide or whatever farmers are
eligible for these programs. They have many programs and I just use that one as an example of the things
achieved through the Federation of Agriculture.



[1:00 p.m.]



The Federation of Agriculture has been basically financed by three or four groups over the last 20
years; the dairy producers, the chicken producers, hog producers and turkey people. They basically paid 95
per cent of the financing for the Federation of Agriculture. I am sure some of the beef farmers did contribute
some but really, those groups that I mentioned were the people who were able, because they were able to have
a check-off, their funds went to the federation, their check-offs were sent into the federation and paid for the
organization of that group.



Mr. Speaker, by having this bill, I think we will give the farmers an opportunity to -and most of those
farmers would like to pay. Now there are some who would not, there is always that type of farmer who does
not want to pay. The honourable member for Kings North spoke about when he was a dairy farmer that we
had a check-off that went into the Federation of Agriculture. He also said there was always the odd farmer
who wanted it back, and if the farmer wanted it back he had the opportunity to get it back, and that is fair ball.
It is in the bill about that and I will talk about that a little later on, too, but I think that is important.



The Federation of Agriculture not only represents us here in Nova Scotia, they represent us on a
national level and it is a very important organization. Most of the farm organizations belong to the Federation
of Agriculture. Frankly, I am a little disappointed that the blueberry producers did not come in under this.



Again, the member for Kings North said that the fruit growers did not belong until just a few years
ago. The vegetable growers did not but they have now come in; the sheep producers, the hog producers have
all joined, but the maple producers and the blueberry producers and I believe also the beekeepers, did not want
to become part of this organization. I think it is a shame because I think they could have worked very closely
with the federation because they receive the benefits, the same as the other farmers across this province.



The Federation of Agriculture and the Department of Agriculture have always had good rapport with
each other over the years - not in our government or any other but in former governments. They have always
had an excellent relationship with the Federation of Agriculture and worked hand in glove. I think that is
right. Anytime they wanted to meet, they have the opportunity to meet and make their points known. Of
course the department can’t always do what they want them to do but they do have the opportunity to meet
with them on an ongoing basis, and I know this minister has that policy as well.



I want to take just a minute and go through the bill. The purpose of the bill, as was said many times
previously today, but I want to do it, too; Clause 2, “The purpose of this Act is to provide for (a) a farm-business registration system designed to facilitate access to the programs of government by farm businesses;”,
and that is good, that is what we said, and, of course, “(b) the creation of a data base that may be used”, so
we have a list of all the farmers, what they are producing and whatever, across this province. I think that is
very important that we have that information on record.



Clause 2(b)(i), “by government departments to verify farm-business eligibility for programs of
assistance,”, and I say, I just take the farm license, for example, I know there are abuses and it is a shame and,
quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, to the minister, I think it is the cost of putting those registration forms out for farm
trucks or for fishing trucks or whatever should be at least the cost of processing them and not a mere $20.
Clause 2(b)(ii), “for the development of agriculture policy;”, is the purpose of the Act and “(c) the fair and
equitable funding of general farm organizations by farm businesses.”. It says general farm organization, but
really we only have one general farm organization in this province. I guess what the bill is saying is if in fact
there was another farm organization that they too would have the opportunity if John Doe wanted to belong
to one, if John Smith wants to belong to the other he would have the opportunity to do so. (Interruption)



Clause 3(3) says, “For the purpose of this Act, the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture is
recognized as a general farm organization unless this recognition is revoked by the Advisory Committee.”.
I don’t think that is going to happen but I guess what it is saying is, again that, if there was some other farm
organization that would meet the standards of the farmers of this province and they wanted to be recognized
I am sure that they would be given the opportunity to do so.



Clause 5(1), “The Minister may appoint a person employed in the Department to be the Registrar
of Farms.”. I have no problem with that at all. Clause 6(1), “There shall be an Advisory Committee consisting
of (a) the Registrar . . . (b) one person appointed by each general farm organization; and (c) such other
number of persons, not exceeding three, appointed by the Minister.”. That would make a committee of five,
I don’t know if it is necessary to have that big a committee, quite frankly. I think three or four would be the
maximum needed for this purpose.



The other point is that in the bill it says that they may be “. . . appointed for such terms as the
Minister determines.”. I am a little concerned about that, I think they should be appointed for a three year
term, maybe a two year term and a one year term so you have a turnover and you have different people having
the opportunity to serve on those boards and not be sitting there for the rest of their lives, or if a government
changes we throw them out because they might have different politics. I know the Department of Agriculture
wouldn’t do that but some times we tend to, when appointments are up, to maybe do it because we think it is
right to put somebody back and they are there and there forever and ever and a day and I don’t think that is
necessarily right.



The members of the advisory committee are eligible for reasonable travel and living expenses, I have
no problem with that, that is fine. Then we have an appeal committee and this is where I differ with the
minister on his bill. The appeal committee, in Clause 7(1), is to consist of “(a) one person who is an employee
of the Department appointed by the Minister; (b) one registered farm-business operator . . . and “(c) at the
discretion of the Minister, one other person appointed by the Minister.”. I really think on that appeal
committee that we should have somebody, a consumer, an independent person altogether whether is a CA,
or a banker or a hardware salesman or whatever. I think on the appeal committee that we should have
somebody that is Chairman of that board that will be able to take an outside look at it and see if they are being
fair.



I think we just give the minister - and I am not talking about this minister - too much authority in
the people that he is appointing that are working with the department. The people on the advisory committee
are also appointed by the minister and here again we are going to appoint another employee of the department.
I know we have excellent employees in the department but I think we should have somebody independent as
chairman of the committee. The terms of the appeal committee again could be appointed for one, two and
three years or whatever, a reasonable period of time.



Perhaps the last point I really want to make is Clause 12 when it talks about “(1) The Governor in
Council may make regulations,”. I guess what I am really concerned about is respecting the refunding of fees
and other members have mentioned this as well that I think that really should be in the bill, spelled out. I
think that would alleviate the fears of many of the Freedom to Farm people and they have a right to farm and
they have a right if they don’t want to belong not to belong, I have no problem with that. But I think it would
make most of the people a lot happier if we had spelled it out, I don’t know what clause you could amend in
the Law Amendments Committee or whatever. I can suggest to the minister that he might make a
recommendation to the Law Amendments Committee that he amend Clause 12(d) and put it in as Clause 11
or Clause 12 and make Clause 12, Clause 13. I’m not telling him how to do the legislation but I am sure the
legislative lawyers would be able to put that in, especially respecting the refunding of fees. I don’t think you
need to put in how much the fees are in the bill but I think you should put in the refund, spell it right out in
the bill.



As I say, I think it is a good bill. It is one that will be very helpful to the Federation of Agriculture.
It will make the financing of their organization much easier. It will be done because it is fair and spread out
to all the agriculture groups across this province and not just three or four groups that have been paying the
way, really for many years.



I want to quote Jim Burrows, too, who is the President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture,
that this bill will “. . . reduce government bureaucracy by streamlining the process farmers must go through
to qualify for benefits.”. We have to go through about four different departments to get some of the benefits
and I think it would be quite simple if the minister has a list of data on his computer that will say, who is who,
across this province.



So, Mr. Speaker, I certainly will be voting in favour of this bill, Bill No. 128, when it comes to voting
time and I say to the minister, I think it is a good bill. I know he has worked hard on it over his time as
minister and worked with the groups to put this in place. My one concern is about the appeal board, that we
have somebody in there neutral and that we put in the bill the fact that their fees could be refunded, if they
so desire. Thank you very much.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: I cannot imagine anybody from Kings County, or from a farming area, not
getting up and supporting this bill or saying a few words about this bill. (Interruption) Well, there are some
other counties that are pretty important but, Mr. Speaker, I know that you know and all members know, that
the largest number of farms in this province are in Kings County, 580 to be exact.



AN HON. MEMBER: There is more beef in Colchester.



MR. MOODY: Well, 411 in Colchester.



AN HON. MEMBER: More beef.



MR. MOODY: Oh, more beef, oh well. (Interruptions)



Mr. Speaker, I will get back to the bill. I want to say that I was not in for the honourable member for
Hants East, when he spoke in support of this bill but I think it says something that a government member will
get up and speak in support of legislation that does affect the people they represent and I think that is a very
positive thing.



You know, Mr. Speaker, if you look at Kings County and the employment in Kings County, there
are 4,500 jobs, either direct or indirect, related to this industry. I don’t know of anybody in King’s County
employing 4,500 people.



[1:15 p.m.]



I have to say that as you travel through Kings County, they are a very active group, the Kings County
Federation of Agriculture and there are many families that end up farming and supporting many members
of the family. If we look at this legislation and we say, well how did it come about? I commend the minister
for bringing it into the Legislature and his staff. But do you know how it came about? It came about because
the federation worked hard to make it come about. They travelled around this province. There was some
opposition to it and there may still be some small pockets of opposition.



The federation were able to give and take as they tried to answer and come up with legislation in
conjunction with the Department of Agriculture that would, obviously, not have a whole lot of opposition.
Because if they had not done that work, I am not sure we would have had this legislation today. When they
first brought this concept forward, there was a fair amount of opposition and it took some time. There were
a lot of people in the federation who were pretty dedicated, who spent hours and hours of their time, away
from their work, evenings and travelling to public meetings convincing others that this was the right way to
go.



You might say, Mr. Speaker, what is the benefit? I think there is a lot of benefit to this legislation
in the long term. Agriculture is a very important industry to this province. We all know that. We all know that
it has to change. Everything else changes in the world and as agriculture goes, there are many changes with
that. We have had programs in the Department of Agriculture and the member for Colchester North and I
were talking just over lunch, we all agree there are some very good programs there. But there are some, like
everything, that are now outdated. We have to drop those programs, but we have to come up with new
programs because new programs can be more effective in what is happening today in the agricultural industry.



I am not a farming expert like some of the other members of this Legislature, I had the opportunity
to grow up in a farming community and work on a farm. (Interruption) Yes, I milked cows. Mr. Speaker,
where we have gone with technology in agriculture is what is making us competitive today and is why we
have a very flourishing industry in this province.



Yes, we are affected by GATT Agreements, we are affected by free trade and that makes it all the
more important that the federation and the Department of Agriculture work together to make sure that the
programs we come up with, not only are they competitive here in this province, they become competitive on
the world market, outside even this country.



So that is why this is important, this legislation. It is important that everybody be registered and I
think it will be easier for farmers when they deal with other departments because I have heard over the years
that you can get registered with one department and another department does not recognize you, even in the
provincial government. There is a lot of hassle. This way, once you register and are recognized and go
through the process, then every department will then recognize you as a bona fide farmer and that is the way
it should be. There is a process in here of appeals for those who feel they did not get a fair shake or the answer
was they did not meet the criteria, for whatever reason and I do not have any difficulty with that. I think that
is very important.



Mr. Speaker, probably the only little bit of concern I have and I will talk about that, but I happen to
know from my area the number of people, not only in the farming community, but I look at Larsen Packers
and I look at O.H. Armstrong’s the number of families that have jobs there that depend on that industry. I was
a little surprised, though, that the make-up of the industry, beef is 11 per cent and hogs is 10 per cent. I
thought it would have been the other way around. There was a day, I am sure, that the hog industry was ahead
of the beef industry, but the hog industry has been slipping, and for various reasons. I know that at one time
there was a fairly large subsidy in the hog industry. Over time, that kind of disappeared but, at that time, that
subsidy did save an industry and a lot of jobs in this province.



I often wonder, you know, we hand out money to foreign companies that come to Nova Scotia and
promise all kinds of things. Some of them stay and some of them are successful, but some of them are not so
successful. When we look at putting a few million dollars into saving an industry in the agricultural sector,
we say, well, we ought to be careful. Well, Larsens Packers would not be there today if government had not
got involved; O.H. Armstrong, would not have been able to expand if government had not got involved; I am
sure Scotian Gold would have had to close up if government had not got involved. Scotian Gold had to turn
around and do things differently, and now they can keep apples for a long time and with the new packing
equipment, have turned that whole thing around. Without Scotian Gold, we would not have Sarsfield pies
because they, in turn, store a lot of the apples that Sarsfield’s use. So it is just a cycle.



So this industry, even though you look and you say it is a direct farm, it is a direct farm, but there
is a lot of spinoff from those farms. So I have to say that if you look at the history of what has happened in
agriculture - and the minister happens to be the minister of a department that can take some credit for that -
there has been a tremendous relationship between the farm organizations and the Federation of Labour and
the Department of Agriculture over the years, not confrontation, Mr. Speaker, but one that they have been able
to negotiate and work in harmony for the benefit of everyone. That department has had some excellent people
who were very open and willing to listen. That has been very positive, and I don’t think that even though it
is a small department everybody realizes how important that department and the employees are to the
agricultural industry of this province. They have done a tremendous job. It has not been political but they have
worked at trying to improve things.



The only part of the legislation is the regulations, and we never know exactly what is going to be in
the regulations. There are a few people who say they have the right to opt out. I guess there are people who
have the right to opt out of anything. I know that part of this agreement with some people was that if so, they
could ask for a refund. I guess there is nothing in the bill that says exactly that would happen, and the promise
has been committed.



We don’t know the exact fees that will be paid. I have heard some farmers who are in favour of this
legislation, but are not sure what the fees will be. I know it will be a scale, or I understand it will be a scale.
I think the other part they want to know is to make sure there is some accountability in the spending of their
money. They realize that this money will go for the betterment of the industry, there is no question. But there
has to be accountability, even though they know that, and they are obviously looking to the minister and his
department to ensure that that accountability is there.



I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that the majority of farmers I talk to - there is no question in Kings
County - they support this legislation and support what they feel it will do to enhance their industry and allow
them, I believe, to continue to work to help the industry grow because it is an industry that can grow. I firmly
believe we have not reached our potential in a lot of areas. I believe there is even a greater opportunity for us
and for Nova Scotia, and for the farming community in Nova Scotia to grow.



I have often heard it said that the small farm is maybe at a disadvantage but I think it is like anything
else, you look at farms today and most of them specialize, either in dairy or beef or hogs or small fruit or tree
fruit. They specialize. You almost have to do that today to be successful but you also have to be fairly large,
so that we can compete with others. You know, it always amazes me today of what farmers have to know to
be successful. Many of them, on their own, go to take courses and are continually upgrading their knowledge
on how they can improve their production because production is so important. I have gone to dinners of
recognition with ACA that recognized poultry farmers that had improved their techniques and had improved
their production and they awarded these people with some sort of acknowledgement that over the years, they
have been able to grow and be more efficient and effective. I think that that is so important.



I would say in closing, that I will be supporting this piece of legislation and I hope that all members
support this legislation. I think a lot of time and effort has been put in by many farmers in this province to
make this work. I hope that members of this Legislature will support them in their ever-tireless effort to
improve this industry. I would encourage members that support this, even on the government side, to just
stand up and say, not very long, but a few words acknowledging how important this industry is and all the
work that has been done by the department and the Federation of Agriculture in something that I believe is
so important here in Nova Scotia. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester North.



MR. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, I wasn’t planning on speaking on this bill because when
you believe is something as strongly as I do, I don’t see why we should waste the time. But the member for
Kings West did suggest anybody representing an agricultural community, that member should speak on the
bill. Of course, I might speak for an hour now that I have gotten on my feet but of course, I come from an
agricultural community, an agriculture-based economy county, in the County of Colchester. If you see any
county that has a good solid agriculture-forestry base, you see a well-to-do and a good economy in that county.
That has held true over many, many years.



I would want to tell the member for Kings West that although they may have a few more farmers,
production in Colchester County in the agricultural community is much higher than it is in that county that
he resides, Kings County, which is the second highest income county in the agricultural industry in the
Province of Nova Scotia. (Interruptions) Well, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley wants to talk
about dairy cows, I did have the odd dairy cow in my lifetime and in fact, quite a few of them. I can speak for
an hour on the dairy industry too and the quota system and the whole bit if that is what you want.



I don’t want to play into the Opposition’s hands to delay for the sake of delaying because that is not
my intention. But I remember back probably three or four years ago when the Federation of Agriculture was
working on this and I met with the federation on a number of occasions to discuss this legislation. At that
time, I felt there were too many farmers that were too much opposed and I suggested to the Federation of
Agriculture, before you look for my support, get the agreement of these smaller farmers that seem to be
opposed, get them on your side, get them to join in with your movement and then bring the bill before the
House of Assembly. I believe the federation has done that. I think the majority of the farmers now that did
have some opposition are in support of the bill.



[1:30 p.m.]



I would say that the former Minister of Agriculture, in fact, both of the former ministers, I recall Mr.
Archibald talking about preparing this legislation. Then Don McInnes comes along and I remember Don had
a bill very near ready to introduce in the House at that time, but there seemed to be a little too many people
that were not in agreement of the bill. But, however, I do want to commend both of those minister and,
particularly, our present minister who has worked with the Federation of Agriculture, who has worked
through the Department of Agriculture to bring a bill in that I believe is going to satisfy 95 per cent of the
farming community in the Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause)



You know, Mr. Speaker, if the agriculture industry is going to be represented, you have got to have
a strong organization. The people that are in the production business have to fund that organization. Now this
bill does give those people that are opposed to it the right to reclaim whatever dues, whatever their check-off,
whatever they have to pay as a member. But, it still does not take the right away, as long as they have been
qualified as a bona fide farmer, for them to qualify for the policies that the present government and the past
governments had.



I heard some talk here a few minutes ago about the existing policies they have to support the
agriculture industry. The minister and I had a very good tour on Monday of this week, visiting a lot of
different farmers, including the new complex at the Nova Scotia Agriculture College, and that was one thing
we discussed and it is one thing some of the farmers that we were talking to suggested. That they should
review the policy which the minister has made a commitment to do.



There are some policies that were excellent when they came our 20 or 25 years ago. They have
outlived their usefulness. Those policies should be dropped. There should be policies that are maintained and
there should be new policies to really promote the agriculture industry and I think that is what the minister
and I discussed with many farmers.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East on an introduction.



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: I wish to thank the honourable member for Colchester North for
leaving the floor to me. Mr. Speaker, to you and through you, I would like to introduce a couple members of
the staff of Carruthers and MacDonell from Shubenacadie. They are here attending a course upgrading their
skills in incorporating companies. A couple of our staff, Corrina MacKenzie and Stacey MacPhee are here
in the gallery and I would like all members of the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)



MR. LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, I had not intended to speak very much. I just wanted to indicate my
support for the bill. When the former minister, the member for Pictou West was speaking, he talked about the
different commodities that mainly funded the Federation of Agriculture and he is right. But he did not
mention the beef industry and, true, the beef industry, I don’t think until the last year or two, have really met
their commitment to what they should have been making to the Federation of Agriculture for the work the
federation was doing on their behalf.



Speaking as a beef producer myself, the fees that I would have paid through check-off, and that is
each animal that goes to market, I believe is a $1.50 a head I always said it should have been $5.00 a head
and let’s get some real money in there so the organization can do something to support the industry. But I still
believe, under these proposed fees, what they are going to be or what I understand they are going to be, are
probably going to be less than I have been paying for a good many years through the commodity check-off.
Which at $1.50 a head, because if you handle 1,000, sometimes 10,000 head a year, you see your check-off
can turn into quite a bit of money.



So, through that, though I never had the $20 membership fee to say that I was a farmer, but I felt that
I was a member of the federation, contributing to the federation through the check-off that I would be paying,
supposing it was only 500 head in a year, I was still paying fairly good bucks into the federation through that
check-off.



Again, I say we have to have a strong organization and the door is open there. If there were another
organization to represent the agricultural community, there is nothing to stop that organization from getting
formed, being a spokesman for the farm community. But at the present time we have only the one
organization, that is the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture who has been there for over 100 years now.



I remember some of the trying times they had. The former minister, the honourable member for
Pictou West talked about 1955 and he was 20 years of age - I thought he would have been older than that in
1955 - but that is beside the point. I remember those meetings, too, I remember attending the Federation of
Agriculture, and particularly beef producers’ meetings, because I not only served, as one on the beef producers’
organization, but I was also a director of the Nova Scotia Cattlemen’s Association, as well as the Canadian
Cattlemen’s Association.



That leads me into saying just a few words about the Department of Agriculture and the minister’s
staff. I see one of them sitting in the gallery - he is only a young pup, he hasn’t been around too long - but he
has been an excellent worker with the Department of Agriculture staff. I recall when I was speaking at a beef
producers’ national meeting in Alberta one night and I was asked, prior to speaking, about the provincial
Department of Agriculture in the Province of Nova Scotia. Being a small province, I suppose they thought
that we would not have much of a department.



When you remember the people that I grew up in business with, like your Deputy Minister, Dick
Huggard who just retired, and those people, and we were working together at meetings. You would remember,
the feeder sale and how that came about in Truro. Dick Huggard, Tom Nunn, Stu Allaby, Charlie Douglas,
all those fellows, we worked there lots of nights through the night, until 4:00 a.m. or 5:00 a.m., trying to get
that feeder sale started. Once we got it established, and I will tell you how it got established, there were four
of us, including Dick Huggard who was then Director of Livestock, I guess, who signed a note at the Bank
of Nova Scotia in Truro to get the money. We put our necks on the line and we guaranteed that loan.



Fortunately the thing turned out pretty good and within a couple of years the loan was retired. That
is how the feeder sales started.



The point I want to make is the dedicated employees we had in the Department of Agriculture, like
the ones I have just mentioned, and many more, you could name them, they were all there. We worked
through the night culling those cattle, and I think it mostly all fell back to Dick Huggard and myself. Because
I think we were probably the two who knew a little more about the quality of what you were looking for in a
feeder calf to become a 1,400 pound steer down the road. I have talked about that previously so I am not going
to go on with that much longer. I am getting short of wind, it must be the atmosphere here in the House.



I felt I should mention, and I remember that night in Alberta in the Cattlemen’s Association they had
two cattlemen’s associations in Alberta at that time and they just couldn’t agree; there was the south and there
was the north. In no way could they come to an agreement as to what policy they wanted to bring in. I thought
and I talked about the Department of Agriculture and the policies we had in Nova Scotia. I said at that time,
and people agreed and they still agree, at that time we had the best provincial Department of Agriculture
employees of any department in the Dominion of Canada - not just in Nova Scotia but we had the best.
(Applause) Unfortunately, a lot of those people who I grew up with have now retired. Of course they had to
be older than me or they would not have been of retirement age.



I wanted to point out just what the Department of Agriculture and the cooperation that the Federation
of Agriculture and the Department of Agriculture have had with one another. It has been excellent over the
years.



I will end by saying, Mr. Speaker, it took a long time coming but I honestly believe we are headed
in the right direction with this bill and I will compliment the minister for bringing it in. The former minister,
Donald McInnes, was pretty near ready but did not have quite as much of an agreement with the other part-time farmers as what you and the Federation of Agriculture were able to achieve. For that, I commend you
and I will be supporting the bill. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome, although I must admit, I take my place on my feet this
afternoon with a little bit of trepidation after following such an eloquent speech by a gentleman who, certainly
from his career, has been very much involved with the agriculture industry. I was trying to listen as intently
as I could, not only to his comments but to those who spoke earlier, those who have the experience of serving
as Ministers of Agriculture in the Province of Nova Scotia or coming from a major agricultural area. I do not
pretend that within the constituency of Sackville-Cobequid, we have a large agricultural base at the present
time, although at one time, certainly, the Sackville valley was a very important agricultural area in the
Province of Nova Scotia but those times have passed as the housing has moved in. I am not planning to take
a long time in speaking to the bill. I will say at the outset that it is my intention, yes, indeed, to be voting in
support of the bill to proceed.



I say that, Mr. Speaker, and I take a look at the agricultural industry, and I do not profess, I don’t
pretend to have any firsthand knowledge of the hands-on workings of agriculture or farming. I do say,
however, that you do not have to have hands-on experience to recognize the vital importance of the agriculture
industry to the Province of Nova Scotia. I don’t only mean for those who are directly involved in agriculture,
itself, but I say to the province’s economy as a whole that it is certainly a major source of wealth generation
for the province, it is a major source of wealth that is circulated throughout the community and has the effect
of producing tremendous spinoff jobs.



The entire section of the province can benefit from a strong, agricultural community. Those who are
involved, actually, in the hands-on farming are outnumbered many times over by those who receive the
benefits of employment, providing the services, the equipment, the supplies, doing the processing, et cetera,
that result from the agricultural industry. It is very important, even, I would suggest, if you want to get as far
removed from agriculture in the province, I guess, as you can in the metropolitan area. Even in the
metropolitan area there are many jobs that really are as a direct result of agriculture around the province,
whether that be in the wholesaling of supplies, providing insurance or all kinds of service sectors. It is vitally
important.

 

 

The figure of 16,000 jobs was mentioned earlier. I do not challenge that at all. I would not even be
surprised if the figure was actually a little bit higher than that, in terms of the employment that is related to
that. I also say, Mr. Speaker, that I am not opposed at all. In fact, I am quite supportive of the principle, that
the agriculture industry has to have a way to organize.



I am trying to remember some of the figures that I used to use way back in my former life as a
classroom teacher a number of years ago, Mr. Speaker. I remember talking to the students about how the
economy in Nova Scotia has changed and how, if my memory serves me correctly and I am off by a number
of percentages here, quite obviously, but if my memory serves me correctly, in the 1940’s, I believe
approximately 90 per cent or maybe even higher of the agricultural products that we used in the Province of
Nova Scotia were produced in the Province of Nova Scotia, whether that be fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy
products, poultry or beef products, the vast majority were produced in Nova Scotia. Now, I don’t know what
the figure is, the Minister of Agriculture could probably rattle the figure off quite quickly off the top of his
head, but I would be willing to bet you that we are well below the 40 per cent range.



So many of our products now, with changes in transportation, particularly during the winter season
and so on, so many of our fresh produce products are brought in to the province, as are many of our other
products.



For the benefit . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: It is hard to grow potatoes here in January.



MR. HOLM: As the former Minister of Agriculture advises me - and it is something that even the
light had gone on with myself on this one - it is pretty hard to grow potatoes here in January. But we can be
eating the potatoes in January that we grew during the summertime and that is a fact. Otherwise, you are
going to have to have a pretty good-sized greenhouse if you are going to be producing fresh potatoes, as I say
to the member at that time.









[1:45 p.m.]



However, the point that I am trying to get at and what I hope for through this whole process is a
number of things, I guess. Certainly one, by having the ability to organize and to have a better handle on what
the different agricultural activities are and maybe sometimes being a little more focused, that we can start to
recover and recapture some of the ground that we have lost over the years, largely because of changing
transportation and changing lifestyles. I would love to see Nova Scotia actually be totally self-sufficient. I
mean, that is not going to happen, but I would love to see every job that is associated with the food industry
here in the Province of Nova Scotia, so that the wealth being generated by that was occurring to Nova
Scotians, to help our economy. One can dream and dream high but at least I would be hopeful that through
the ability to have a strong organization, that we will be finding ways to be moving forward, pulling together,
hopefully, the entire agricultural industry can be trying to support and to help it grow.



I do, however, have some concerns and I am looking forward to hearing presentations being made
at the Law Amendments Committee. The member for Colchester North spoke quite eloquently about his
experience and the reason why he would be in support of the legislation. I don’t challenge anything that he
has said because I certainly wouldn’t be knowledgable enough, quite honestly, on this topic nor have I had
enough discussions or done enough research to be able to do that.



It is my understanding that even today, close to 40 per cent of the gross farm products in Nova Scotia
are produced by the small farmers, those who are producing in the range of less than $10,000 in total. I have
read and looked at, for example, the minister’s press statement that came out in mid-August, or early August,
talking about how, and I commend the minister for having done this, for sitting down with the various sectors,
not only with the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture but also those who have concerns with the proposed
registration system and the concerns that many have that the smaller operation, the smaller farming
operations, may in fact be harmed by this.



When I was listening to those who were speaking and when I was trying to assess where the greatest
numbers of members of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture come from and where the areas where those
who were speaking in support, strongest support of the legislation, where they come from and maybe my
perception is wrong, I am not saying that this is fact but from a casual step-back observer, if I might, it seems
like the greatest support is coming from those areas understandably where you have the largest commercial
operations, where you have the largest farm operation. When I take a look at where some of the concerns are,
whether they be mainly from the Cumberland area, I would guess for the blueberry industry those who are
concerned as well in the bee industry and those for example, like the group like the Freedom to Farm, they
would come really from the smaller operations.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: No, not necessarily.



MR. HOLM: The member for Kings North says no, not necessarily and that is why I said this is
coming from the position of a casual observer looking at it.



What I look forward to at the Law Amendments Committee process is hearing from the two sides,
the two groups. As I said before, I congratulate the minister and I say this sincerely for taking the time in
trying to, through meetings, to resolve the differences that exist between the different groups, those who
support the registration and those who do not. I understand that the majority of the concerns, I think they were
major, probably around 15 or 16 concerns, that two-thirds of those have been resolved and that a few more
are well on the way to being resolved so there are really a couple of areas of concern left.



In this day and age it certainly makes a great deal of sense to have a good data base; it makes a great
deal of sense to have all of your programs registered in the one area so that you don’t have to go from pillar
to post and find out where you do go for assistance. All those kinds of things make, to me anyway as a casual
observer, somebody who is not directly involved in the industry, a lot of sense. In this day and age it is very
easy to do, in a lot of ways, relatively speaking, to develop those kinds of data bases and to keep that
information straight.



I am just concerned though that those who are determining who is and who is not considered to be
a farmer are not going to have the ability to exclude many of the smaller operations and many who, for
example, are really, even though it may be a large operation, part time. For example, blueberry growers who
are not quite like the beef industry or the producer of eggs that is not something where they have a day-in,
day-out hands-on experience all year long. It is my understanding, I am subject to being corrected on this, that
in order to qualify as a farmer for the different programs you would have to be receiving at least 50 per cent
of your income, if it is more than $10,000, it would be about 50 per cent of your income from the actual
agricultural activity. That may or may not be the case and it may or may not be realistic in some types of
situations. Certainly, some of the types of agriculture activities which are extremely important to the Province
of Nova Scotia and like the blueberry industry I can’t quote the figures, I am sure the Minister of Housing and
Consumer Affairs off the top of his head, if he were able to be here right now, could tell us in a moment the
value of the blueberry crop in his area and how many millions of dollars that brings into the Province of Nova
Scotia in the way of exports. My concern is to make sure that those kinds of issues are satisfactorily addressed
and to ensure that those protections are there.



I guess the other thing is even if somebody is involved in a small way, what a lot of people would call
a hobby farm, programs still certainly should be able to be made available to them, maybe not to the full extent
of somebody who is making their full livelihood at that. But is there not a way or has the government looked
at ways that on, I guess, a prorated basis certain kinds of programs can be provided. Because these small
operations and if they are approximately 40 per cent of the gross in the province I would suggest we don’t
want to try to discourage those, they are very important. What better kind of community economic
development can you have but to have all kinds of these smaller operations as well spread all throughout the
province? The entire area of the province is not necessarily suitable for large scale commercial operations.



I think that certainly the smaller farms do provide tremendous benefits in terms of providing fresh,
locally grown fruits and vegetables, locally produced beef and poultry products. Often, it would be my
impression anyway, that many of these smaller operations are the ones that would be following the most
environmentally friendly practices where they are not using the pesticides and so on and that kind of thing.
I think that most of those types of farm operations would actually fit into the smaller type of category.



Again, I am not professing to have all the information and to know that that is true, but if that is, in
fact, the case, my concern would be that the legislation would not, in any way, hamper or harm those
industries or those small operations which are trying to be environmentally friendly in providing products and
foodstuffs, Mr. Speaker, that are increasingly becoming in higher demand.



I would not want to see the programs, I guess, in essence being restricted in such a way that we are
putting one more nail in the coffin of the small farm operation in the province in support, instead, of the
larger agri-business, the one which is interested in the huge mega-farms for the quicker profit. That is not to
say for a moment that those large farm operations are not important because, indeed, they are very important
to the economy of Nova Scotia and, most particularly, for rural Nova Scotia.



I guess I am trying to find out if the balance exists and to seek from the minister the assurances that
in doing what I think is a noble attempt to assist the agriculture industry and to give it an opportunity to
organize, to strengthen and to grow, that we are not, at the same time, putting roadblocks in the way of the
smaller operations which exist around the province and which are very important to the local economies in
those areas.



So with those brief comments, Mr. Speaker, I will indicate that I will be voting in support of the bill
going on to the Law Amendments Committee and I look forward to hearing what presenters do have to say
and to the minister, hopefully, being able to address some of the kinds of concerns that I bring forward simply
because of information that I have looked at and that I know that there are those concerns out there. Thank
you.



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



MR. JOSEPH CASEY: I just thought a little more technical information and advice would come in
handy at this moment on farming. Mr. Speaker, as everybody knows, I am not a farmer. I bought a starvation
farm after the war and it lived right up to its name. If I had not got off of it, I would not have been here today.



The member for Kings North, Mr. Speaker, he gave out a lot of information that was very interesting.
I think the farming industry, the agriculture industry is like an iceberg, there is only a little bit of it showing.
We do not realize just how important this is. I noticed that he mentioned Cook’s Dairy in Yarmouth and they
have been very progressive and so on. But I always liked their advertisement. It says you can whip our cream,
but you cannot beat our milk. I think that is done very good.



In my part of Digby County, the honourable minister has half the county and I have half, but they
named his differently. It is Clare. But in our area there is not that much farming, really. There is not too much
beef cattle farming, there is some. I do not think we have a dairy cow, not officially there, with a license to
operate. As I have said before, it is not even a one cow town. But when you get a little further east, up into
Annapolis County, then we do have some dairy farms there that are quite successful. But in Digby County one
of the most important parts of farming, to me, is the mink industry. It is a very famous industry in that the
Mullen brothers started with a couple of mink that happened to be jet black and they kept them and they bred
them until they had a lot of these mink and never told the outside world that they had them. All of a sudden
the news got out and the people who were coming there to buy a pair of mink would be from Russia,
Denmark, Finland, all over the place, and they all stopped at our fish plant to see where the food was coming
from for these mink. It got to be a very big business and they are some of the best mink in the world and I am
quite proud of it.



[2:00 p.m.]



The other thing I am quite proud of, they ran into a slump about six or seven years ago, mink farming
went all to pieces, mainly because of the Greenpeace people who made it unpopular to wear a mink coat or
a fur coat of any kind. But they have struggled through that period, they have worked like heck and they are
coming out of it. This year I had a letter from them, inviting me to go to their dinner in Weymouth. They were
saying they are really optimistic that the thing is turning around and is going to have a bright future. They
had the tenacity to stick in there and they made it pay.



In the western half of Annapolis County, as I said, we do have dairy farms. Vegetable farms are small
and they are not as productive as the ones that the other members were talking about but we do have a deer
farm, I guess that is what you would call it, they are raising Red Deer in Digby County. It has been quite
successful. They lost one deer, he jumped over the fence but he came back, he got homesick, anybody would
for Digby.



I don’t know whether you people would believe it or not but I have a list of just some of the farm
organizations that I have spoken to, would you believe that? They call on me when they get in trouble. The
Nova Scotia Cattlemen’s Association just last weekend in Truro, the Canadian Beef Producers Association,
I suppose, the Canadian Turkey Producers Marketing Board, the Chicken Producers Marketing Board, the
Hog Producers Marketing Board, the Wild Blueberry Association, the Apple Marketing Board and on and on.
You would almost think I was an expert. But anyway, I didn’t talk about the technical points, I can tell you
that. But I have enjoyed meeting with these people, they have the greatest sense of - they have a good sense
of humour, I can tell you that.



Twenty years ago I visited a dairy farm in New Jersey and it was supposed to be the latest thing going
at that time, it was modern. They had a big merry-go-round that they put the cows on. The cows would go
through a hospital where they took their temperatures, they gave them a bath, they checked them out for good
health and then the people who were operating it stayed in one place and the cows came to them. I thought
that was a pretty good idea. But just as I was leaving, I suggested to the owner of the farm there, I said I have
one suggestion, why don’t you speed the darn thing up so you can spin them dry. That was 20 some years ago
and, Mr. Speaker, I have never been back to check to see whether it worked. Thank you very much.
(Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.



MR. EARLE RAYFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I really didn’t intend to get up and elaborate on this. First I
want to congratulate the minister for bringing this bill forward. My colleagues, the members for Kings West
and Kings North and Colchester North seem to think all the food is grown in those three places. I just wanted
to make sure that the people of Nova Scotia know that in Annapolis East and part of Annapolis West, there
is a fair amount of food grown there as well. Agriculture, as I have always said, to me is one of the most
important departments in the government because that is where food is produced, it is on farms whether it
is breakfast, dinner, or lunch. You ask somebody, well, where is it produced? Well, it goes right back to the
family farm.



A few weeks ago the minister and I had the privilege of visiting probably 12 to 15 farms in Annapolis
County. The minister was received very well, we were at beef farms, dairy farms, vegetable farms, poultry,
turkey and pig farms. Don Sproule is in our part of Annapolis County and he probably has the most modern
poultry farm and the most modern hog farm in the province, based on a concept from Holland. The day that
we were there, two days before he had received 38,000 day-old chicks, they would have been two or three days
old depending on when they had arrived, all in one building. It is completely automated throughout; two
people operate it; the chicks are automatically fed, watered; it is completely automated. They leave them in
there four to six weeks, some come out and go to Kentucky Fried Chicken, I guess, Colonel Sanders and the
larger ones go to Swiss Chalet, I believe. So, quite a few of the members here support Swiss Chalet as well.
(Laughter)



In Annapolis County there are a fair amount of apples grown; potatoes; one of the best yellow-eyed
beans grown and produced in the province, they are all hand packaged, they go through belts and tables and
quality-wise. One of the farmers who, years ago, in the food business, produced many acres of carrots, then
he turned to potatoes. He now has potatoes, yellow-eyed beans, he removed most of his orchards so he is a very
successful farmer. That individual happens to be Dick Morris, who we didn’t get to call on the day that we
were in the Annapolis County.



One of the former Ministers of Agriculture, the present member for Kings North, has moved out but
I did want to congratulate him because it seems that he knows more about agriculture now then when he was
minister. (Laughter) He gave a lot of good comments today and he spoke about pork. I remember some of the
fun that we had when we were on that side of the House and asked the member for Kings North some
questions about agriculture and the pork industry and the beef industry. He is still talking about the increase
in pork production, but I am not so sure that many pork producers are making very many dollars because the
price is down very low.



I mentioned this, I think, when we were in Opposition and I think it is a thought worth thinking of,
is getting more people from the metro area visiting farms. Maybe an investment practice such as somebody
from metro buying, shall we say, a sow from each litter. Maybe they would get the earnings from that piglet
that they sell and create an interest and more incentive for people going out to our rural areas and visiting our
farms. Again, it would give the farmer cash flow, it would give a little bit of encouragement to somebody from
metro to say, gee, I own a sow pig in Annapolis County, or wherever in Nova Scotia or a heifer cow or what
have you. I think it would be worth creating an interest, an incentive and make people more aware of where
our food is produced and how it is made up.



Again, I don’t want to take much time because it is good bill. I think that the minister has addressed
many of the concerns of Freedom to Farm. In fact, there was a phone call that came in from Annapolis County
this afternoon wanting one word changed in one of the paragraphs, but I will pass it on to the minister and
I am sure that he will probably take it to the Law Amendments Committee.



Again, I congratulate the minister and all those who have made remarks. There have been some good
comments here this afternoon. I will be supporting the bill and thank you very much for listening. (Applause)



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



HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all the members for their support and
comments and points made in regard to this bill. Permit me to provide some clarification and provide some
information to some of the questions asked.



The original proposal submitted for consideration was considerably more stringent than the proposal
as it exists today. In the original proposal, registration was mandatory for all farms with sales of over $10,000,
with a non-refundable registration fee in support of general farm organizations.



Mr. Speaker, in the current proposal registration is voluntary for all farms, large or small and the
annual fee is refundable upon request. If farmers decide not to register, they will still have access to
government programs.



The member for Queens has requested a list of the organizations, commodity groups and county
federations of agriculture that support this piece of legislation. Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a document
to provide this information to all members of the House.



Mr. Speaker, the member for Queens also asked who would be the Registrar of Farms. This position
will be fulfilled by the Executive Director of Agricultural Services of my department or someone that he will
appoint. Procedures to register, procedures to appeal will be provided to all farmers after the piece of
legislation is passed.



Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Queens was asking in regard to the membership of the
Advisory Committee. As this piece of legislation indicates, the Advisory Committee will consist of “(a) the
Registrar and one other employee of the Department . . .” and that other member of my department will be
the Director of Extension Services to make sure the liaison between our department and farm organizations
exists and continues.



Clause 6 (1)(b) indicates that, “one person appointed by each general farm organization;” and I will
elaborate on what is meant by each general farm organization in a minute. Clause 6(1)(c) indicates that, “such
other number of persons, not exceeding three, appointed by the Minister.”, shall sit on this Advisory
Committee. These people have not been appointed yet, but we are looking at members from the Freedom to
Farm organization to be represented on this Advisory Committee. We are looking at representation from other
departments to make sure that there is a connection, a link, between our department and other departments
of this government, Mr. Speaker.



Mr. Speaker, I spoke earlier of the changes brought to the original proposal since last year. However,
there are still two issues left to be resolved by the Advisory Committee. One of those issues is the fee structure.
The proposed fee structure will be finalized shortly and the second issue is the development of criteria for a
general farm organization.



As the honourable member for Kings North pointed out, presently the only recognized general farm
organization in our province is the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. However, Mr. Speaker, as we have
seen in other provinces, there is more than one general provincial farm organization recognized. So the
advisory committee will have to address this issue, and to assure in the future that if any other general farm
organization wishes to be recognized in Nova Scotia, they will have to meet this criteria that will be finalized
shortly by the advisory committee. Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 128.



[2:15 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 128. Would all those in favour of the
motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 129.



Bill No. 129 - Public Highways Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, in introducing this bill I would just like to say that over the
past six years that I have been in this Legislature, I have heard many a reference to housekeeping legislation
and I think if anything could ever be classed as housekeeping legislation this would be it. What this
amendment to the Public Highways Act does is remove reference, in the Public Highways Act, to three
positions which no longer exist in the Department of Transportation.



In the Public Highways Act, authority is set out to certain individuals by title, in particular, the Chief
Engineer, the division engineer, and the superintendent. Those three positions no longer exist in the new,
restructured Department of Transportation and you will not see them in the line of progression. The division
engineer has now taken on more authority and more wide-sweeping powers and has become known as the area
manager, superintendents and what were commonly referred to as foremen, those functions have been
combined into one with half as many in the province, the operation supervisor, and the chief engineer which
was a line position under the deputy manager and in between the directors have disappeared and in fact there
is an executive engineer in the department, but is not in the line of progression, not in the reporting layers.



So, what this does, I will give one example from my own experience, if you wanted to go and have
a culvert installed, the Public Highways Act would state that you have to go and get a signed document,
permission from the division engineer. Obviously, we don’t want to leave that in the Public Highways Act
since there is no such thing as a division engineer. What it has been replaced with is simply the statement that
“`a person employed in the public service of the Province in the Department of Transportation and
Communications designated by the Minister.”’. So the minister has to give the authority to these individuals
to carry out these functions and, if positions change, it will not mean amending the Act each and every time
that happens. With that Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 129.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I recognize this is a bit of housekeeping and as a former
Minister of Transportation, I think one of the things that used to amaze every minister over there were the
levels that were there, and I think that there is no question, with the levels of engineers one could, by time
the paper got through one section to the last section, a lot of time had elapsed, if you could find the piece of
paper.



I think what we have to try and do and I guess the operation supervisor versus superintendents - I
think the jury is still out by a lot of people, I know we streamlined the Department of Transportation, but I
haven’t been convinced yet and I will await final judgment as another year goes by because, in all fairness,
this system was only put in place this summer and I haven’t seen a full year of operation - I think we have to
understand the Department of Transportation is there to serve the general public, to make our highways safe
and to provide a maintenance program that keeps our highway safe.



Over the years I guess we have come to where we had superintendents in my area and we had four
foremen. We now have two Operations Supervisors to cover that area. I am not talking about how the
government has moved to fill these positions, I don’t have any difficulty with the way they have gone and
advertised and filled these positions. You know, Mr. Speaker, one of the things that is so important, that I am
not sure hasn’t been missed, is the local knowledge that people would have from areas that they get the job.



Now it happens to be in Kings County, one of the Operations Supervisors from the area, one
happened to move up from some other place in metro. You know over the years the public do call the
department, DOT, for many things. I am not sure that two people can cover the area that four people covered
and cover it 24 hours a day and do the kinds of things that are necessary to look after our highways. Because
if situations occur - and this does happen -where there are washouts during storms, whether there is something
that happened, something has to be done immediately, before an accident or something can occur.



These people have a very high responsibility. They have to make very important decisions about
things that have to do with highway safety. I can understand the minister moving to streamline it some, I don’t
have any difficulty with that. I don’t have any difficulty with the hiring practices. I am concerned about the
level that we have now available to look after areas that we had available before. As I said, I will have to wait
to see whether, in a year’s time, I feel it is adequately covered or not adequately covered. I have some questions
and I hear some rumbling and I hear some from the general public but as I said, only time will tell.



I can understand that this bill has to be passed. I will vote for the bill, I will support it, Bill No. 129.
Obviously, as the minister indicated, and I know that such things as culverts have to be signed by the division
engineer, and if there is no division engineer, obviously you have to change the bill and I support that. But
I hope the minister, from my remarks, will consider and assess - I know he had an assessment done on the
department. I hope that after the department has been run for a year or so, that there will also be an
assessment done on the effect and efficiencies of where we are with the present set-up. I think you always want
to improve something, you get a recommendation, and obviously he has implemented a recommendation and
it came to him and I don’t have any trouble with that. But if you are going to do a good job, you have to
reassess after a period of time, to make sure that what you did, does what you wanted it to do.



So often we don’t build in a mechanism to have a continued evaluation because what we are trying
to do is obviously - and I know the minister is trying to do - to serve the public and to try to provide the best
programs possible for the public. The department is trying to do that. But if there is no built-in mechanism
or reassessment done on the way that it is set up now, then we may not be convinced in a year or two’s time
that this is the benefit. And if that is working out fine, it is meeting the objectives and it is efficient and
meeting the needs, then I don’t have any difficulty, we keep what we have. But we have to have a mechanism
that would have another look at it and if there are changes that need to be done -to better serve Nova Scotians
- then I hope the minister would be open to that, too.



So that is really my concern. We have kicked around superintendents, from the political point of
view, for a long time. But I think we must recognize that having a number of local people make decisions on
our roads locally is very important. I think that is the concept I want to keep before the Legislature. It is so
important that when people locally have a problem, be it flooding, be it a culvert problem, be it whatever, that
they can call the Department of Transportation, they will get somebody out and somebody will make a
decision on what needs to be done in a particular situation. If those people do not have the authority and
things cannot be done or they get led around and don’t get answers then we are not improving the system.



So with those few words on the bill, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your time and the time of the
House.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I just rise to make a few very brief comments. Our
Transportation Critic is, unfortunately, tied up on a couple of other things right now. I would like to, I guess,
echo in some part the comments that were made by the previous speaker. At times like this when money is
tight, we cut back on services and people and resources that are being applied to different parts of our
infrastructure at the same time that we are taking other pots of money and we are applying them to major
projects through the federal-provincial-municipal agreements.



We have got major construction going on in twinning some of our highways and some other major
work happening and, yet, there are other secondary roads or even less than secondary roads that are receiving
very little attention, Mr. Speaker. Those, in many cases, are the roads that many taxpayers use on a daily basis
that take them from their homes to the 100-Series Highway or the Trans Canada Highway.



I think we have an obligation, I think the government has an obligation to ensure that those roads
and those highways are maintained at a level where the safety of the public is ensured. There is no question,
there is no argument here that ensuring the safety of the travelling public from one part of this province to
the other is not important, that is very important, Mr. Speaker. The same thing with the transportation of
goods and services over those same roads. It is important that we have effective and efficient transportation
routes across and around this province.



At the same time, I am concerned that some of our other roads are being neglected. In my
constituency, for example, Mr. Speaker, the condition of some of the roads there is quite appalling, especially
in the season just after winter, some of the roads you have to basically come to a standstill in your car to
prevent your car from being demolished or going down into a pot-hole and never coming back again. These
are roads that hundreds of people travel on every morning and every night. Yet, all the attention that some
of those roads get is a bit of asphalt from time to time and a bit of grading on shoulders and so on. That is a
matter that concerns me.



The speaker earlier talked about the lack of people in the field in terms of superintendents, people
that actually know what is happening, foremen that know what is going on in your particular vicinity. That
has happened in my area and I know that people in our communities are concerned that the Department of
Transportation does not have the kind of hands on level of contact with their areas of responsibilities that they
once had. While nobody will argue with the need to ensure that the department is run in the most effective
and efficient way possible. I think it concerns all of us when the decision is to take away that local level of
responsibility and accountability. That local level where the knowledge is in terms of whether it be what roads
need to be plowed and the roads that are the hardest hit during winter storms and need special attention. Some
roads cannot be cleared with certain types of equipment, they need special equipment. That is information that
is held within the local area and by someone that has had some experience there. As others have said, I know
I am concerned as are residents in the communities that I represent, that some of that local knowledge is now
gone as a result of the restructuring of the minister’s department.



[2:30 p.m.]



With that having been said, the minister indicated earlier that this basically is a piece of legislation
which responds to the restructuring and the changes that have already gone on within his department.
Therefore, it is really a house cleaning, a housekeeping, he already did the house cleaning last fall in the
Department of Transportation, at least house cleaning as far as the Liberal Party would be concerned.



With that having been said, I am sure that the Transportation Critic - I have difficulty with that word
that is why I am not the Transportation Critic - the member of our caucus that is shadowing the minister’s
responsibilities, may have some concerns and some points that he wants to raise at the Committee of the
Whole House or at the Law Amendments Committee but as you appreciate, we reserve the right to do that.
Now, at this point, Mr. Speaker, I am going to cut it short and realize that the day is drawing nigh. Thank
you.



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to thank the minister for this
information packet he passed out. I think all members of the House received this packet and it will be quite
useful. There have certainly been several changes made to transportation, the different depots and the different
bases across our province. We now have names we can contact should we have some difficulty. We also
received a map of our area and some excerpts from local newspapers from our area introducing your new local
transportation team and I think that will be beneficial.



I note from looking at the bill that it is an attempt to remove different references, some of the
terminology has been changed. Although I missed the minister’s comments, I believe it has been termed a
housekeeping bill, so to speak. As the former speaker mentioned, it may be a housekeeping bill that is the net
result of a former house cleaning effort made by this government because back on April 15th, it was in the
spring of 1993, 94 supervisors were let go. So, I think what we are seeing here is a direct result of that and
many of those people were very good solid citizens and did incredible jobs. They were familiar with their area.
At the time I felt, and still feel to this day, that there wasn’t a proper evaluation done on the 160 supervisors
who were let go.



You know, Mr. Speaker, another concern directly relating to that is the fact that some 40 former
front-line supervisors filed an application with the Labour Standards Board and that was some six months ago
and something you would be interested in, that they haven’t heard a thing about that application. It has taken
a terribly long time and that is causing a great deal of concern for the 40 front-line supervisors who feel that
they were wrongfully dismissed. I am not sure exactly if they were or if they weren’t, what the case is, but they
do have the right to have their concern addressed and it should be addressed fairly quickly instead of dragging
it out over six months. So that is a concern that the front-line supervisors have.



I still believe to this day that with local supervisors, now in our particular bases, in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, I am very pleased with the cooperation I am receiving from the foremen and the
superintendents. They really go above and beyond, the new front-line supervisors seem to be very obliging.
Mr. Speaker, you might remember the minister indicated this is an effort and an attempt to take politics out
of the Department of Transportation and Communications and for that I commend the minister because I don’t
think we need politics in transportation. I don’t think a politician has any right to say what roads should be
done or what ditch should be dug or where snow and ice control should take place. It should be up to the
people with the expertise.



So I do support the merit system. I have seen a couple of indications where perhaps it hasn’t been
followed as closely as I would like to see it followed, Mr. Speaker, but in the overall picture, I think it is a step
forward and it is a step in the right direction.



So with those few brief comments, Mr. Speaker, I will support Bill No. 129. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, you know I listened intently when the minister
introduced this bill in a very few brief words. I think he said it was mere housekeeping, if there ever had been
a bill introduced in this House that was just housekeeping, this was it. I want to admit quite freely that for a
few brief moments, I actually thought that might be the case. This bill has just been introduced and my
colleague, who is now the Leader of the New Democratic Party, was taken away briefly to other duties and
is, of course, the Transportation Critic and has very capably served in that capacity as Transportation Critic
for a number of years.



So initially I have to say that I was just a little bit off guard and I guess I would say almost persuaded
by the minister’s own words that this is nothing but a housekeeping bill, I almost said peacekeeping bill, and
that it isn’t. It took me a few moments to think about what the implications were of the events that have led
up to this bill and the activities that, after the fact, this tiny, simple amendment to the Public Highways Act
have had on the lives of a great many people because the bill is this straightforward, Mr. Speaker, and the
minister was quite right when he said that it does nothing more than remove from the Public Highways Act
all references to three different categories of staff; the Chief Engineer, division engineers and superintendents
of highways, with the simple explanation that these positions no longer exist.



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



MRS. LILA O’CONNOR: Mr. Speaker, to you and to the Assembly and on behalf of the Honourable
Donald Downe, who is not here this afternoon, I would like to introduce up in the gallery, Ken Edwards from
Bridgewater, who is President of the Nova Scotia Denturists Society. (Applause)



MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, maybe because of the lateness in the week and we are
approaching the time of adjournment for this week in the House, it would be easy to just sort of let down one’s
guard and sit back and let this so-called housekeeping bill just slide through with very little comment. But
I have to say that it was not just a matter of mere housekeeping for 146 long-serving workers who have been
employed in the maintenance of our highways over the years to suddenly find themselves out of work.



Mr. Speaker, nothing in the minister’s introductory comments would alert you to the fact that what
we are really talking about here is an after-the-fact change in legislation to sanction and to justify what were
fairly unprecedented political hirings. I think 160 jobs would be considered to be mass firings. Certainly, to
the 160 highways workers who lost their jobs, and to their families who at least temporarily, and I am told
in many instances on an ongoing basis to have lost their livelihoods, this was not exactly just a stroke of the
pen, an unimportant event in their lives.



It has been presented, Mr. Speaker, here today as if it was really just a kind of small, administrative
detail that needed to be dealt with. Perhaps that is exactly what is wrong with the way that this new Liberal
Government approached its so-called reorganization of the Transportation Department. Perhaps it failed to
take into account that in its reorganizational zeal, that it devastated the lives of a very large number of people.



Now, I don’t think there is any question that there has been a long tradition in this province of
political hirings and political firings in the realm of highways jobs. That is well known. It is also true, Mr.
Speaker, that this government came to power on the commitment that this kind of political hiring and firing
would no longer be acceptable. As a matter of fact, because a few years ago we succeeded, after many years
of fighting to achieve it, in ensuring that it became illegal to engage in political hiring and firing, it is now
included in the Human Rights Act as a prohibited grounds for discrimination.



Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation is shaking his head. I don’t know whether it is to
disagree with what I am saying, and he will certainly have the last word when he wraps up debate, or whether
it is because he is a little bit dismayed that this so-called housekeeping matter did not just kind of slide
through here with much comment and without absolutely no attention from Opposition members late on
Friday afternoon.



Mr. Speaker, I refer back to the controversy that ensued here just a little over a year ago in the fall
of 1993, shortly after the Liberals took office, when they set in motion what I consider and what a lot of people
consider was a new tradition in the pattern that has brought a lot of disgrace and a lot of waste to this province
in the form of political hirings and firings. It basically is a situation where we now have consultants who are
engaged to play a major role in justifying and rationalizing the process of political hiring and firing. It
allowed the minister, by hiring a consulting firm and saying, you tell us how to reorganize, to have that
consultant’s report coming back, suggesting some organizational changes.



We know from how this government has responded to some other management consultant reports
but there is no pretense that they are bound by the recommendations. There is no pretense that they have
committed themselves in advance and that is as it should be. They ought not to, in any way, shape or form,
commit themselves in advance to the outcome of a management consultant report because in the final analysis,
there are a great many factors that are to be weighed and the buck stops with the elected officials who are
there to make the decisions and be accountable for them.



Mr. Speaker, we had, in this instance, leading up to this simple, administrative change, this simple
changing of a few words in this Act, the spectacle of a consultant’s report that came in with some suggested
changes in the organization of the department. Then we watched the process of 160 people being done out
of their jobs in the process of that reorganizational effort.



[2:45 p.m.]



Now, Mr. Speaker, it may be that the Minister of Transportation would just simply want to suggest
there was nothing political in any of this. Nothing was motivated by any kind of political considerations. But
the Minister of Transportation made it clear himself that this was about political house cleaning. He said that
these reforms were going to be the reforms that would rid road work in the province of politics. He applauded
these changes, I believe, and I think the record shows that this is so, because he seized upon them to justify
engaging in a mass firing of people in the belief that those people had been hired to their jobs in the first place
by the Tories in office through the Tory political networks.



Mr. Speaker, nobody could argue that point. Certainly, that was true, that the vast majority of those
people were hired through the political patronage process, the time-worn and time not-so-honoured process
that has accompanied politics in this province for far too long.



But, Mr. Speaker, it surely cannot be allowed to pass. What this government has done in handling
the transition from what is supposed to have been a transition from a patronage-ridden Transportation
Department and its personnel practices, to a modern, professional Transportation Department that was no
longer tainted by political hirings and firings and the exercise of raw, political power in the process.



I, for one, Mr. Speaker, do not buy the idea that this was not just another exercising of raw, political
power for the express and sole purpose of getting rid of Tory hired Transportation workers.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I do not want to stifle debate on any matter, as the honourable
member knows. The honourable knows that if she were to refer to Page 141 of Beauchesne and the content
of speeches, Paragraph 481(e), it is out of order to “impute bad motives or motives different from those
acknowledged by a Member.”. That is in Beauchesne and as a reference (Interruption)



I did not say you called it a lie. I read you from Beauchesne. I will read it again, it is out of order to
“impute bad motives or motives different from those acknowledged by a Member.”.



MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, perhaps rather than me being guilty and I certainly do not want
to violate the Rules of the House, me being guilty of imputing political motives, I could quote directly from
the accounts given of the events last October when this new Liberal Government engaged in a mass firing of
160 Transportation workers.



I assume that the Minister of Transportation was quoted accurately or you can be sure he would have
raised Cain at the time if that were not so. Headlines, the Daily News, Thursday, October 28th. “Grits go after
highways brass”. Subtitle, “Reforms aim to rid roadwork of politics, Mann says of audit.”. That is not man
as in the gender, but Mann, M-A-N-N, as in the Minister of Transportation.



“Citing an example from his Richmond County riding, Mann said he is determined to take the
politics out of road building. `There were being people favoured, and favoured to a great extent, in the
Department of Transportation when it came to truck and equipment hiring. It was . . . a sick and disgusting
practice, . . . Mann said.”.



Mr. Speaker, far be it from me to stand in this House and defend the disgusting and sickening
patronage hiring practices of the past. Far be it from the NDP caucus to stand in this House and say that there
were not those political practices going on in the past under the Tory Government and you never have and
never will hear us defend them. The fact of the matter is that when you have 160 people who were hired in
jobs and have been doing those jobs and then probably some of them not very competently because they got
there the wrong way, it seems to me that there was a responsibility and an onus if this government was serious
about taking the politics out of hiring, to provide for the proper training and supervision and transition that
would have enabled the vast majority of those workers to go on working in jobs in which they had been hired
and which they were conscientiously serving.



I have no doubt, (Interruptions) Well, you see, Mr. Speaker, the concern of the Liberals then is the
concern that we hear being expressed now from the back benches. Were those Tory highway workers serving
their proper masters? Because when I said that the vast majority of them were conscientiously serving, the
taunts were serving who. The problem was clear to all Nova Scotians that a good many of these Tory
highways workers were not serving their new political masters, the Liberal members and the Liberal
Government, but were seen by these new politicians who promised to rid hiring and firing of politics, were
seen to be serving their former Tory political masters. (Interruptions) I don’t think that there are very many
Nova Scotians that are persuaded that there were 160 people in what I understand to be really the middle
management ranks of the Department of Transportation each and every last one of whom were not competent
to serve the people of Nova Scotia in carrying out their work on the highways or overseeing the work of the
highways.



I guess it was the sort of glee with which I watched this government and the Minister of
Transportation fire those 160 people; I guess to be accurate about it we are talking about a layoff of 160
people. The fact that there was a reorganization and a redefinition of roles that would justify that process
being carried out in the way that it was, I think was recognized for what it was. It was recognized as the only
way that this government could rid itself of that many Tory hired highways workers without actually getting
into difficulty with the law in terms of the prohibition against political affiliation being a legitimate grounds
for discrimination. I know that there are some who are sufficiently convinced that it was political
discrimination, that there is actually some basis for feeling that there could be a human rights finding against
the manner in which this matter was dealt.



Mr. Speaker, when you have the kinds of assurances that were given that this government would not
engage in wholesale political firing and we have a law in this province that prevents that from happening,
then I don’t see how Nova Scotians could come to any conclusion other than the one that was expressed then
and which I am expressing now which is that the government decided to do a lot of things through
management consultants. One of the things they have decided to do through management consultants is to
hide behind that old practice of political hirings and find new ways of justifying it in the terms of the
consultants who have served this government very well in allowing them to . . .



MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I have been sitting here listening to the
honourable member and I question the relevance of her remarks. I have looked at the bill and the question
is, what is the principle of the bill? That seems to be a fairly restricted bill in that it just intends to substitute
names of the persons. I have listened to the honourable member’s remarks and they seem to getting farther
and farther away and bear no relevance, whatsoever, to the particular subject that we are supposed to be
debating.



Mr. Speaker, I know that there is a certain amount of latitude given on the debate on second reading
on the principle of the bill, but I suggest in this case she is way beyond that and she is out of order.



MR. SPEAKER: I want to answer the point of order, do you wish to speak on that point of order or
another point of order?



MR. JOHN HOLM: Yes, indeed, it was on that particular point of order. I heard the former Speaker
saying that this was not indeed relevant. Well, I would suggest that what this bill has to do with is a
justification of the firings that took place. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, because that is in effect what it is doing,
it is reorganizing and justifying the firings by making them legal, and I think that the debate that has been
going on is indeed, very relevant.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, on that same point of order. The member wasn’t in the
Chamber so I guess we could forgive him for being mistaken on what he has just said. This bill does not, in
fact, try to justify anything. There are references in the Public Highway Act to three positions which no longer
exist in the department. That is what this bill does. As the member for Kings West has stated in his remarks
very accurately, nine members of management have been reduced to five. That is what happened to the layers
of management; a chief engineer, a division engineer and two positions were combined into one. That is what
the bill is about, that is all the bill is about.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable minister, in his opening remarks, gave the principle of the bill, in
enunciating his views on the principle of the bill. It was for the purposes of restructuring the department for
purposes, I presume, of efficiency, general productivity, cost measures, et cetera. The debate that is now being
taken on is that a difference of viewpoints on that matter. I admonish the honourable member for imputing
motives, other than motives that were put forward by the member. There is a latitude to present an argument
for the government as a whole but not on behalf of imputing motives to the individual member.



I don’t believe there is a point of order but there is a wide difference of opinion. I want to make
certain that the debate is kept not to the questioning of the motives of the individual minister, who has
outlined the individual minister’s motives.



MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I am not attempting to imply motives or imply motives to the
minister. What I am trying to do is review and chronicle the events that have led up to this simple
administrative change which on the surface of it looks very benign, it looks as though it is of very little effect,
very little import. The minister himself said, it is merely housekeeping.



I think it is important for the record and for the edification of anybody who wants to understand why
we have these changes taking place to not just review how it has impacted on the lives of dozens and dozens
of highway workers and their families, but also to look at what the minister said on his way to introducing
these changes. I think we all need to have an accurate picture of where they came from and what they were
designed to achieve.



[3:00 p.m.]



Now, Mr. Speaker, I heard you say a moment ago that it was assumed that it was for reasons of
efficiency and cost measures and so on that the organizational . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I want to make it very clear that I was attempting, in some succinct
form, to outline the minister’s comments on the introduction of the bill. So I wasn’t generating a personal
opinion of this, I was trying to analyze the minister’s presentation. So when I said what I said, it was only a
reproduction of what I thought I heard the minister say.



MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I am glad you clarified that point because of course the rules
disallow me to engage in a debate with you about whether it was for reasons of efficiency and cost saving, so
I am very glad that you made it clear that it is the Minister of Transportation who said those things because
the rules do allow me to engage in a debate with the Minister of Transportation over whether that is a
completely accurate and comprehensive account of why these changes took place.



Mr. Speaker, I am not just debating the point that the Minister of Transportation made when he
rationalized this supposedly tiny little administrative change. I am actually reminding the Minister of
Transportation, and anyone else who is interested in the debate, that in fact he himself gave very different
explanations for why the government was doing what it was doing when he set out, as the Minister of
Transportation, to tackle the reorganization of the department.



Again, Mr. Speaker, a newspaper account, I think the Port Hawkesbury reporter, from November 16,
1993, the Minister of Transportation’s first task, and I will quote, “will be an assessment of the department
and its staff, but he says no one will have to fear for their job unless they are not doing their job. I am not
saying there are going to be massive changes, we are not going back to the 1970’s when there were mass
firings but we have to look at the whole department and see if you have people in the right positions.”.



Well, Mr. Speaker, those were the opening words. That was the opening shot. But then we heard the
minister express his dismay at the extent of political hirings that became evident as he began to look at this
picture. I think what happened was that it was perfectly obvious that it was not going to be possible to just get
rid of people because you measured whether or not they were doing their jobs and whether you have the right
people in the right positions. So, the government set out to do a wholesale reorganization and guess what that
allowed, by chance and I would suggest not by sheer coincidence, it allowed the rationalization of political
firings that the minister himself made clear at the outset was going to be something that would be necessary
to achieve, to rid the highway and the transportation system of politics once and for all.



So my only real point in response to this very simple explanation of what we are dealing with here
is that I think the implications of this bill are not in what is likely to follow but the implications of the
meaning of this bill are in what has already happened. I think it is important for us to be reminded of what
has already happened.



Mr. Speaker, I had sort of a moment of anxiety when this bill came up for reading this afternoon and
I admit quite freely I had not yet read the bill. It has only just been introduced, we had several major pieces
of legislation before us in the last couple of days, massive reform of the workers’ compensation system,
welcome reform of the maintenance enforcement system and I have not had an opportunity to read this bill.



Fairly or unfairly, I left it to my colleague who is the Transportation Critic for the New Democratic
Party to address this bill. As it turns out, Mr. Speaker, and you are aware of this, the NDP Transportation
Critic was momentarily out of the House when the bill was introduced, so I realize that I should try to
scramble and make sense out of what this bill was all about and what its real importance was.



What it reminded me of, Mr. Speaker, and maybe this is one of the advantages of being on the back
bench, is how little I understood about the importance of our highways and, for that matter, legislation
pertaining to our highways when I first came into this Chamber. I think probably that is not atypical of a great
many people and I am one of them who has pretty much always lived in metro. I have never actually lived in
another part of the province other than for the purpose of visiting and the purpose of vacationing. I remember
in the early years how often I came to discover not only that I knew very little, but came to realize how
absolutely, critically important the provincial highway system is to the lives of large numbers of Nova
Scotians.



I suppose it seems obvious to say that safety on our highways affects everybody who travels on them.
That is pretty self-evident. I guess it is also obvious to say that a great many people depend upon employment
in our transportation system and, in particular, our highways building and maintenance system for their
livelihood. But what I have not appreciated when I came into this House, Mr. Speaker, is the importance of
those highways to people in terms of really having anything you could describe as fair access and equal
opportunity in terms of getting to the goods and services and being able to avail themselves of the
opportunities that exist for others in other parts of the province.



But what I absolutely did not understand until I have been here for a very long time . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member entertain a question?



MS. MCDONOUGH: Sure, I may or may not be able to answer it.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of the Environment on a question.



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: I have just heard that the honourable member indicated that she really
does not have much, either direct or indirect, knowledge of transportation and that she was, in a sense, not
filling in time, but developing an argument around the issue of transportation. Having been patiently listening
to most of that attempt at an argument, couched primarily, in political terminology, in terms of the
transformation and changes to transportation, I wonder if she would also comment, as she is beginning to do
now, about the essential issue of public safety and whether or not the changes she perceives, albeit her political
arguments, might have in fact improved safety and delivery of services to the people of Nova Scotia. I wonder
if she is prepared to make a comment or two on that issue in her interesting argument?



MS. MCDONOUGH: I think that is a fair question, Mr. Speaker. I would not pretend to be in a
position to answer it in any sort of in-depth way or any really detailed knowledgeable way. I think there can
be no question that in some instances where there was incompetence, where there were people lacking in the
basic skills to perform certain jobs, that there had to be, I mean we are talking here, really, about the ultimate
responsibility and the main functions of government and of those who take on the responsibility of office and
those who have the management challenge to deliver the services whether it is in community services,
transportation services, or whatever.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If I may, for just one moment; I may have misinterpreted the
principle of the bill, but, as I understood the principle of the bill, it had little to do with the competence of
individuals. What it had to do with was the restructuring of the department for the purposes of increasing
efficiency and operational procedures and costs, et cetera, so I wouldn’t want the debate to degenerate into a
specific evaluation of the competencies or incompetencies of any of the persons who may or may not have
been released by virtue of the restructuring.



MS. MCDONOUGH: Well, Mr. Speaker, I don’t know whether that was a ruling or whether that was
an admonishing to me of not getting into a too far-reaching debate and that is fair game if that is what it was.



MR. SPEAKER: What it was was a ruling on relevance. I want to keep the member’s remarks
relevant to what I thought was the principle of the bill as enunciated in the presentation made by the minister.
So it is a ruling on relevance.



MS. MCDONOUGH: Well, then I guess, Mr. Speaker, the question that the Minister of Environment
put to me was not really in order. I was trying to accommodate the question but it really had to do with the
very same subject that I was trying to address.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, again, please. I really don’t think it did. I listened carefully to the question
and I think the question that was put really had to do with the safety on the highways and that may indeed
have to do with structure or organization, not necessarily with competence or incompetence. It was interpreted
as a matter of competence. I think that was a little far afield.



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Obviously it is not a point of order
but (Laughter)

 

 

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will decide that.



MR. HARRISON: (Interruption) I have learned one thing from Minister Brown and that is that there
is no such thing as a point of order. But to clarify the question, it had everything to do with the ultimate
function of the Department of Transportation, that is public safety. The fundamental question for my
honourable colleague is whether or not she thinks, apart from all the other extraneous arguments about
politics, has the ultimate function of the Department of Transportation been affected positively in regard to
its essential mission and that is delivery of public safety to the people of Nova Scotia?



MR. SPEAKER: And I think that was my interpretation of the original question.



MR. HARRISON: I knew it was, sir. (Interruption)



MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, maybe the best thing for us to do is to move on in this debate
because I don’t think this Speaker is going to allow - nor should he, based on the Rules of the House - debate
back and forth about whether the organizational changes in the department were brought about for the sole
and express purpose of improving public safety on the highways, or whether, from our point of view, the
organizational changes were brought about, at least in part, to justify some mass political firings that this
government made no pretence, that this minister made no pretence, was anything but a main part of the
agenda.



[3:15 p.m.]



So, I would just at this point, wrap up my comments and I guess this is my only major point. Let us
never reach the point where we think that just a simple stroke of a pen, just an amendment that is as tiny as
this one is to the Public Highways Act, is nothing but a housekeeping matter. The fact of the matter is, that
simple change that we are now introducing, is simply the formalizing or the codifying into law or whatever
the proper legal terminology is, for some very profound decisions by this minister and this government to turf
160 people of their jobs and to massively reorganize a department.



Now, we could debate the pros and cons of whether that was the only way to reorganize the
department in order to improve public safety. I don’t think the Speaker is going to let us get into that whole
debate. I would simply say that at the very least, this government failed to show the credibility and the fairness
in living up to their own pre-election promises that there wouldn’t be mass firing on the highways and
secondly, I think that the government failed to really rise to the challenge that they faced, as the new
managers, to take the personnel that were there and give them a fair opportunity, if there were to be
organizational changes, then, to allow them the possibility to play a role in that new organizational structure.
If there were shortfalls in the skills that people had, then provide them with the opportunity to make the
transition and make the grade but that wasn’t done.



The minister will say, oh no, those job competitions we held were just completely fair and objective
and even-handed, completely free of any patronage considerations. I think there are just enough people that
know that not to be the case, to give at least some grounds for mistrust and suspicion. So maybe others will
be in a much better position than I, I think many others will be in a much better position than I am, to
comment knowledgeably about the outcome of this reorganization. I have already been willing to grant that
there probably have been some positive results but I think there also is some basis for saying that the only
clear, very easily measurable thing achieved on the front end, is the layoff of 160 workers that this Minister
of Transportation and this government had said should not be worried about their jobs but in the final
analysis, the ultimate worry and the ultimate threat to one’s job is having that job wiped out.



I suppose only time will tell how many improvements will have resulted from this reorganizational
effort. I simply was not prepared to let pass, without comment, such a sort of summary dismissal of something
that has had a very profound impact on the lives of at least 160 transportation workers and their families and
indirectly, I think, the communities in which they operate and in the final analysis, I think the political culture
of this province, which one had perhaps naively hoped would no longer tolerate that kind of political hiring
and firing practice, but it appears that we still have not managed to rid ourselves of it completely. Thank you,
Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: For the interest and edification of all members of the House, I would like to quote
from Beauchesne, Page 96, Paragraph 317(1), on points of order. “Points of order are questions raised with
the view of calling attention to any departure from the Standing Orders or the customary modes of proceeding
in debate . . .”.



And on Page 97, Paragraph 322, “Points of order are justified when there is some flagrant misuse
of the rules, but they are unfortunate necessities which should not be regarded as usual phases of procedure
and ought not to develop into long arguments with the Speaker . . .”. I put that clearly on the floor.



The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.



MR. JOSEPH CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the honourable minister for some
of the things he has done in the department. (Applause) I spent many hours on the back roads during winter,
when there is ice and snow on them and so on, checking on his workers and so on. If there is anybody who
deserves a medal, it is some of those snowplow operators. Pardon?



MR. SPEAKER: I was just calling order, so I can hear you.



MR. CASEY: Okay. These people, in many cases, were laid off to increase the efficiency of the
department. I find the department, in my area anyway, is running just as well as it ever did before and, in
some cases, better. I think that was probably the prime reason for laying these people off. I hate to see anybody
lose a job. I have had to lay off about 200 people from my own company it is not a very good feeling, now I
will tell you that.



I also want to bring to the attention of the honourable member who just made a speech about the
Department of Transportation and about the firing of 160 members from the department, does she realize that
the NDP Government in Ontario has just laid off 10,000 people from the Power Corporation, 10,000 with the
stroke of a pen and I understand they are going to lay off another 2,500. That is a similar thing, it is run by
government, I think, is it not, Mr. Speaker? How come it is right in one place and not in the other. Sometimes
we have, in any department of government or in even the fish plants and so on, two men doing one man’s job
or two women doing one woman’s job. You usually have one to dilly and the other to dally. Thank you.
(Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I rose in my seat very slowly in hopes that perhaps
another member would speak. The honourable Minister of the Environment was very anxious to get in debate
and I was trying to give him lots of time, but I guess he has chosen not to.



AN HON. MEMBER: If you don’t have anything to say, sit down.



AN HON. MEMBER: He knows there is an authority on the floor. He will ask the questions, as long
as you don’t get political.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Not in the House of Assembly, certainly not. There is no room for politics in the
House of Assembly is there, Mr. Speaker? We are dealing with a very small, very innocuous bill with just a
few clauses. I guess there are five, so it is only a page and a bit. There is not much in it, but the effect of this
bill is legitimizing, had a great effect on 160 Nova Scotians.



I don’t know all of the people who were fired. But in the district that I represent, prior to becoming
elected to this office 10 years ago, there were two foremen in my riding. One of them I have known for years
because he was a grader operator for about 12 years prior to entering a competition to become a foreman. He
had a great deal of experience in road building, from a grader operator’s point of view, and, I guess, before
that he was a crewman working, that sort of thing. So he had a lot of experience.



The other foreman in the area also had started out as a crewman. He was raking and cutting bushes
and so on. They both started prior to 1978, I might add, Mr. Speaker, and they worked along. He eventually
became a foreman as well. Nobody could accuse those gentleman of not having safety and quality of work and
value for the wages they were being paid, foremost in their minds.



But when the study was done of the department, as one was done in the Department of Education,
but most of that was dismissed; they did not like it, so they dismissed it and they were doing it anyway, the
evaluation that was done in the Department of Transportation, the parts were accepted that were convenient
to accept and the part that said we can fire foremen and superintendents, particularly last October you will
recall was the time when there were uprisings and local riding associations saying that the Liberals were not
getting the jobs, fire the Tories. Remember that? To make it look as though they were really tough on
patronage and tough on Tories, they fired the whole works of them. Some excellent people were let go at the
time and some of them . . .



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I suppose it is really a point of
clarification. The notice to Department of Transportation employees was given on January 4th. The Doane
Raymond report was released in October. There was no one laid off in the Department of Transportation last
October, there were no notices given. I would just point that out for the honourable member so that he can
probably get it straight.



MR. ARCHIBALD: And, with very good reason. October is almost to the commencement of the
winter season and the engineers that were in staff said, for the love of Pete, do not turn us loose with the
winter conditions coming on. Allow the people that have been doing the job so well to stay there at least until
the end of the winter season. The end of the winter season came and they were gone, simple as that and that
is why they weren’t let go in October because it was too close to the winter season.



One of the things that is in this bill was, what I find mind-boggling, with things the way they are and
the opportunity that the Department of Transportation had at the time to remove a layer of management is
what we have been told they wanted to do and I think that is commendable and it was but what they did was
they divided the province into four sections and each section has an engineer in his office. So now the
constituency I represent, Kings North, the engineer now reports to an engineer living in Bridgewater and
working in the Bridgewater area.



SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Interruptions) Shame, shame.



MR. ARCHIBALD: I think Bridgewater is a beautiful area but the craziest thing about it is, well you
see if they really want to do that why wasn’t the engineer allowed to continue to have authority to do things
in his region on his own, you see. That is what the recommendation really was to reduce the amount of the
number of levels of management.



These engineers are university graduates, well-educated people, capable of making decisions very
quickly but now they are not allowed. The poor guy in New Minas, he couldn’t go and send in an order for
pencils without a pencil, it is so simple. He can’t order a pencil without calling the engineer in Bridgewater
to see if it is okay and the engineer in Bridgewater has to call Halifax. Well, why didn’t we short circuit it and
just let the engineer in New Minas call the guy in Halifax and say look, I want some pencils, is it okay with
you? It would be much quicker . . .



MR. ROBERT HARRISON: Actually, this is a scintillating debate. Can I ask a question?



MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member for Kings North entertain a question?



MR. ARCHIBALD: Yes, please.



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: It is fascinating, here we have a reference to pencils that engineers
now are in the practice of being second-guessed and third-guessed on their way to Halifax over a pencil. I
wonder if the honourable member, given the fact that he at one time held the esteemed office of Minister of
Transportation, would like to comment on the civil engineering priorities that used to go to Halifax and would
be second-guessed by MLAs. I wonder if he would mind commenting on, not pencils but actual pavement
priorities based on civil engineering standards that might have been second-guessed by MLAs with or without
engineering degrees.



MR. ARCHIBALD: May I have permission to answer the question because that question is a little
bit off this bill but if you will give me permission I will give it.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, the question really isn’t, the question I think first of all was asked relative,
I believe, to the restructuring of the department and that is the principle of the bill we are talking about.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Yes, sir, thank you very much. I will answer that question because as you know
MLAs are elected by the people to represent the people. Who should know their constituent . . .



MR. HARRISON: Who knows pavement better than civil engineers?



MR. ARCHIBALD: Now look, I want to answer the question. If you want to make a speech, you get
up. When I answer this one you can ask another one, that is the way we are going to do it. (Laughter) As an
elected MLA . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I will tell you the way you are going to do it.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Yes, right. Mr. Speaker, you are correct, you are the boss.



The MLAs know their areas better than anyone else. We know from hearing from our constituents
which roads are muddy, and you hear that very quickly, which ones are rough and you know where the pot-holes are. If you don’t drive on them yourself, we get calls. A member living in beautiful Halifax, like the
Deputy Speaker, wouldn’t get the calls that we get in the country. But when the ice comes, when the snow
comes, we get calls and people tell us. We know where the roads are with problems. So, I think it would be
folly, and foolhardy if an MLA was not allowed to go and appear before the Minister of Transportation and
the Deputy Minister of Transportation . . .



[3:30 p.m.]



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I didn’t want to get involved in this until
I wrap up and I will certainly address most of these points when I do. But I cannot sit here and allow a great
disservice to be done to the excellent employees in the Department of Transportation that is being done in this
debate. The engineers, the four district directors and area managers, I guess he is referring to, do not have to
go to head office for decisions any longer. They have been clearly instructed to make decisions, they are in
charge of their areas and they are in charge of their districts. That has been written to them, that has been
communicated to them and that has been delivered again and again in training sessions to them.



It is a great disservice to this House and to the excellent engineers, and employees of the Department
of Transportation, for any member to stand and suggest that they have to get permission to buy a pencil. It
is nonsense, it is not the truth and it should not be allowed. It has no place in this debate. Every one of the
managers and every one of the operation supervisors and the directors have been instructed to deal with every
MLA in this province, not like the previous one where only the Government MLAs were, but to deal with
them with respect; not to take orders from them, but to consider every concern that is brought forward. Those
are the instructions and it is a great disservice to those professional people to suggest that they are acting in
any other manner.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable minister has stood on a point of order but, of course, the purpose
of a debate is to correct errors of perception, errors of understanding and the honourable minister has the
opportunity to close the debate and correct any errors or misunderstandings that are presented in the debate
process. (Interruption)



Would the honourable member for Kings North entertain a question?



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, may I finish answering his question and then I will take his, thank
you. An MLA representing his constituents, I see nothing wrong and, in fact, I would encourage the practice,
for him to have a list of roads that need attention, and I think it is incumbent upon him to go before the
minister and the deputy and say, look, these are the road priorities in the constituency that I represent. Now
I wasn’t in Transportation as Minister very long, but I can tell you that there were members of the government
and there were members of the Opposition that came to visit the minister’s office to talk with the deputy
minister and say, these are the roads that are the priorities for my riding. Now, if you find fault, I want to
know, who better would know the district which they represent? I tell you, in all honesty, that if the member
doesn’t know his constituency, he is not representing very well, and I don’t see anything wrong, I think a
member should be encouraged to request service on his highway system when he is asked.



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: A question, Mr. Speaker. It falls right in with the answer that we
have heard from the honourable member, the previous Minister of Transportation. I am just wondering if the
previous minister would recall in his mind that the district of Hants East, for many years, through the 15 years
of his government, was represented by an Opposition member. That member was an Opposition member in
this House on and off for four or five terms and he knew his district well. I wonder if the ex-Minister of
Transportation could answer why it was that the roads of Hants East were left, comparative to the two
neighbouring ridings which were Conservative ridings for 15 years, in a mess, in turmoil, while all those
times the Opposition member’s district was treated, I wonder if he could explain that to me and explain it to
the people of Hants East?



MR. SPEAKER: Order, order, please. Friday afternoon order. The honourable member for Kings
North, I will give him the opportunity to answer the question but the debate is beginning to become irrelevant
to the principle. In my judgment, there is irrelevancy and I am going to stop that irrelevancy.



The honourable member for Kings North can now answer the question.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you. Well, I was not always Minister of Transportation but when I was
Minister of Transportation, (Interruptions)



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, it wasn’t me! It wasn’t me!



MR. ARCHIBALD: Oh, they cannot wait for the answer, to start heckling. I mean, it is amazing,
isn’t it? They trained them well. (Laughter) The honourable person who was the member for the area certainly
never made a single request to the Department of Transportation when I was there at all. He never made any
representations.



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh! Oh!



MR. ARCHIBALD: I will assure you, there are members in the House who are now on the
government side that could tell you that they made requests from time to time and in many cases their roads
were paved, their bridges were built and there were a lot of things done, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please. I suggest the question has been answered. Now, please return
to the relevancy of the principle of the bill of the reorganization of the Department of Transportation.



MR. ARCHIBALD: I will. You know, Mr. Speaker, there was a lot of talk and a lot of anxious people
prior to the election about this very reorganization in the Department of Transportation but we were given
assurance, and I know staff that worked there were given a great deal of assurance that their jobs were not in
jeopardy. They read the policy of the Liberal Party on June 26, 1993 - he was then Premier - when he said,
the Liberal policy on roads is evolving but he envisions a scenario that would see, “Everybody resign and then,
on merit, there will be a selection of people who will work in those areas and that will not be decided
politically.” That is what the Premier said about roads. (Interruption)



That was not what happened but it was almost - it was preordained before the study was done by the
chartered accountant firm, that everybody would resign if they wanted to get at - the Premier told us in June
that is what would happen and that is what happened. It was not the result of any study that was done because
the announcement was made in June. Everybody resign. That is what he said on June 26, 1993. It was long
before any study that had been done so these people had been targeted and then the study was done to hide
the target that they had done. They have now scrapped out the chief engineer and the superintendent.



You know, I was at a meeting last evening among business leaders in Halifax County. They told me,
they said, look, the G-7 is coming to Halifax next summer. They said that the . . .



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I have listened to this debate quite
patiently all afternoon and the G-7, I am sure, is a fascinating subject but what it has to do with the
restructuring of the Department of Transportation, I fail to see. I would ask that if it is possible, that we could
either speed up the coming to the restructuring of the Department of Transportation or, perhaps, rule that he
is anywhere near close to the bill.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has made, I think - this may shock him - a relatively valid
point of order. (Laughter) There is a process in debate and when a point is to be made in debate, it does not
permit a lengthy straying from the point with the promise that convergence will sometime take place. I would
suggest to the honourable member that he may put his point forward and then substantiate it with argument.



MR. ARCHIBALD: I was going forward but I will start at the back and go backwards. The road to
Peggy’s Cove needs work. (Interruption) The reason I know that and the reason I was told that is because the
business leaders that were telling me that weren’t sure who to notify. They said, we used to know who the
superintendent was but he is not there any more, so who do we call? And the reason they are so anxious about
it is because next summer the G-7 is going to Peggy’s Cove and they said we have got to get the road fixed
before we get there. Do you follow? Exactly, so I am not off the track, am I? Thank you.



You see, that is the very point and I am sorry that the Minister of the Environment is getting
exercised about this debate today. And I think that we should ask him and I gave him an opportunity to stand
up and enter the debate because he is very anxious and very concerned about roads and safety.



Now, local decisions are important and if it really and truly will help the Department of
Transportation to make the local decisions on the priorities, on the way that things in each constituency are
handled. For instance, the grading - which roads are going to be graded - so that everybody gets the service
they deserve. Which roads are going to be salted, what time the salt trucks go out, all this sort of thing. The
one thing that is interesting, before when they had a superintendent, they used to fill the salt silos in October
because there was a discount at the salt factory. But now the new people that are engineers, I guess, aren’t
aware of that so the salt silos didn’t get filled in October. Now they are in the process of filling them, I guess.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The salt silos were filled in October and
they all had an abundant supply of salt in October.



MR. SPEAKER: Order please. It would appear that there is a misunderstanding or a difference of
viewpoint between the two members and the debate will resolve it. And it will be voted on ultimately and the
House will decide it but the honourable minister has the opportunity to sum up the debate.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I know for a fact they were not filled in New Minas. I can’t speak
for anywhere else but I just know from the truckers that were calling me and that is just what they are telling
me. Now, maybe they weren’t telling me what is right but they have never led me astray before.



One of the things that brought this debate about was the overhaul of the 150 foremen and the
supervisors who have lost their jobs. This process removes any reference to them, this bill removes the
reference to the older style of managing the department and brings it into line with the way it is. This bill is
a necessary piece of legislation. Otherwise, the people who have jobs there are operating contrary to the
legislation of the Province of Nova Scotia. Now I can’t say that I agree with the process that was followed, I
can’t argue with this legislation because all the legislation is doing is legitimizing what has already been done.
I can’t agree with the need for this legislation. I can’t honestly say that the best thing that has happened to the
Province of Nova Scotia was the dismissal of the former employees.



Now, I am sure all of the former employees weren’t fantastic but I am sure all the new ones aren’t
fantastic either. In 160 people you get some that are just the best in the world, people are people. And by
getting rid of 160 and replacing them with 160, I am sure they have hired some tremendous people and they
have hired some very ordinary people as well. All we are doing here now, is just saying that that is, you are
looking puzzled, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, I want to indicate to the member that I ruled a little while ago that we are
talking about structure and restructure of the department and the principles related thereto. We are not
discussing the competencies or incompetencies of either present members of the department or former
members of the department. That is the point I am making, that is why I am looking puzzled.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I don’t have a whole lot more to add to this debate. I wanted to take
part in it just because I do feel that it is important. I think it wouldn’t be fair to the 160 people who lost their
jobs if some mention wasn’t made of the good work and the honesty and sincerity with which they carried out
their jobs. I would not feel right if I didn’t say I think they served Kings North very well over many years, both
for the former government and for the present government. I think they did exemplary service the whole time
they were there.



[3:45 p.m.]



I do hope that the new system works as well as the minister has said it would. Now I can’t argue that
it isn’t working but it takes a little time and perhaps we will know in the spring. I know there were some great
difficulties earlier last spring and I hope those difficulties have been settled and I hope it won’t happen that
way again. But we do have to be very vigilant and I know that the constituents of Kings North are going to
be very conscious of road conditions this winter, because they are used to having pretty good service. I know
if there is any reduction that I will be the first one to hear and I will pass on the telephone numbers of the local
people and probably the number of the minister as well, if they start calling me and complaining.



So I do hope this reorganization works as well as the minister has said it would and as well as the
$100,000 study that was done that put it in place. I hope we got good value for our money. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I had not necessarily planned to rise to speak this afternoon but
some certain discussions and so on motivated me to get to my place and to make a few points. I am hoping
that the Minister of the Environment will ask a few questions across the floor.



First of all, I want to look at the bill, if I may. Then I want to take a look at what supposedly was and
wasn’t going to be done and whether this is really something that is progressive or if, in fact, it is really just
a smoke-screen covering up something else.



Now when you read the explanatory notes, it is sort of interesting because even some of the words
that are used are symbolic, or rather descriptive, in terms of actually what happened to a lot of people. The
bill “removes” - it sure does - from the Public Highways Act all references to the chief engineer and to
divisional engineers and superintendents of highways. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, it not only removes the positions
from the Act, but it removed those people from their jobs.



Since these positions no longer exist now, Mr. Speaker, . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: You should do some homework.



MR. HOLM: It is being suggested that I should do some “home” work. Well, I am doing some
“Holm” work here by taking part in the debate, so I see the Holm is at work, so in that sense I appreciate the
minister’s encouraging me to take part in the debate.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would the honourable member entertain a question? The
member has just stated quite clearly that the chief engineer and the division engineers are gone. Would he
please tell me where they have gone?



MR. HOLM: I don’t know where they went, Mr. Speaker. Now a few of them, I must say - and I have
no hesitation in saying this at all - I am very delighted that in my particular area a couple of them were able
to maintain their jobs. But the positions, the 160 people who held those jobs, those positions were gone, they
were eliminated.



AN HON. MEMBER: Their titles might have changed, John.



MR. HOLM: Their titles might have changed. I wonder if the minister could advise where all of
those people who had worked in those positions are currently working?



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation, in answer to a question from the
honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.



MR. HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, this won’t allow him to close the debate, I assume?



MR. SPEAKER: No, it doesn’t. You have the floor.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, he asked the question, I didn’t. Some of them were laid off;
some of them took early retirement;, some took natural retirement; and some of them are still employed as
operation supervisors with the Department of Transportation and Communications.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I know where a lot of them went, courtesy of the Minister of
Transportation, as he has just answered. But the answer as to why some of them took the early retirement,
some of them were laid off, some of them had a number of other things happening to them. I would suggest
that maybe, because I have also taken a look at the audit that was done for the Department of Transportation
and yes, indeed, the audit and one of those consultants’ reports costing some of those hundreds of thousands
of dollars that the government likes to give out to the consultants, did make some suggestions on
reorganization.



But you know, Mr. Speaker, that audit report did not and the government will tell and they will say
that what we are doing is following the recommendations in the audit report. I would love to see somebody
point out to me in that audit report where it says, aha, superintendents, foreman, sack them, get rid of those
positions. What the government did by eliminating those positions, it gave them the choice of saying, look,
we will now hold new competitions. Look at how great we are. We are going to get rid of everybody and we
will have a new interview process and we will select, among those who we have just sacked, which ones we
may decide to take on. Now we are hearing over here the little comment from the back corner, those who are
qualified.



Well, Mr. Speaker, if an employee is not qualified, if an employee is unable to do their job or is not
doing their job, then I would suggest that this government is certainly not doing anybody a service, including
that employee. If they are not reprimanding that employee and if an employee is incompetent, then that
employee should be disciplined and that could mean to retraining, it could eventually mean to lay off. But you
don’t have to go and sack everybody to get at a few who are incompetent if you know how to manage and
manage properly.



You know that, Mr. Speaker, I know you do from your years as being the principal of one of the
largest community schools in the province, if not the largest, you certainly do not go in and say, here is a
school, here is an individual who is not competent, let’s sack everybody, make everybody reapply and then
we will determine who we want.



You know, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation said back shortly after he assumed office,
his first task as Transportation Minister will be an assessment of the department and its staff. But he says, no
one will have to fear for their job unless they are not doing their job. In other words, the minister was saying,
there will be an assessment and people’s job performance will be evaluated and through the job evaluation
process, the only ones who need to worry are those who are not doing their job. That was then, back soon after
he became minister.



He said I am not saying there is going to be massive changes. We are not going back to the 1970’s
when there were mass firings. I guess 150 people or 160 people told to hit the door, hit the road, that is not
mass firing, Mr. Speaker. Surely, no, of course not. We do things differently. But we have to look at the whole
department and see if we have the people in the right positions. No mass firings, we are going to look at the
department and see if we have people in the right positions. There were going to be assessments.



MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member entertain one more brief question?



MR. HOLM: I would be happy. Maybe time could be added on at the end.



HON. RICHARD MANN: I have no objection to that, Mr. Speaker, but I wonder if he could inform
us before we leave this afternoon, while this is fresh in everyone’s mind, if the changes in the department at
the front-line supervisory level have had a positive impact in his area, to date?



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister asks a question that would sound very simple in one sense.
The minister is asking if changes have had positive effects in my area. Well, quite truthfully in my particular
area the person who is acting as the engineer is somebody who I have always had confidence in since the day
he came there and he was there before the mass firings and also I would say to the minister the person who
is acting in the supervisor position under that had been a foreman and I had had no difficulties with his
performance either.



In terms of any major changes in my area it has not changed and there were a couple of those who
were successful. Mr. Speaker (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.



MR. HOLM: Yes, indeed I know where two are and I have said that before, I said it in the debate
before but you don’t have to go and fire these people and then make them reapply to find out that they were
qualified. The minister said there was going to be an assessment. There is going to be a job evaluation but we
also have to remember the dynamics of what was going on at this time. You know, 1994 the summer and fall
aren’t the only times that our fearless Leader, the Red Baron, the Premier was in difficulty with his supporters
the Liberal Party. If you remember a year ago there was a lot of criticism because the Premier would not fire
Tories and hire Liberals. Take a look at the timing, take a look at what was going on and quite obviously,
there would appear to be a direct correlation, a direct line between the two and of course it was the member
for Inverness, who was quoted as saying that the audit will please his supporters who believe Tories within
the department are still hiring their friends.



How much does that comment represent really the true reason behind this so-called reorganization?
How much was it because (Interruption) Well, it is a valid point, maybe Liberal backbenchers according to
the member for Hants East.



MR. SPEAKER: There is a procedure presenting a valid point in this House and that is not the
procedure.



MR. HOLM: Yes, indeed his point is not the valid procedure but he does have a point but I won’t
touch on it even if the comment that he is suggesting backbenchers may have influenced the firing may be
valid. Now, what we have are not only so many jobs and I will not for one minute stand in my place and
defend the corrupt political patronage practices that were followed by the former government. I will not for
one second, (Interruptions) well, the members are asking me across the way to adjourn but if the House Leader
wants me to adjourn the debate I will but I remember being on the floor once when somebody else moved an
adjournment and the vote went against that person very quickly and they lost their place on the floor. Now
the Government House Leader is asking me to adjourn the debate and so that I won’t lose my place.



I appreciate him saying that and I now move adjournment of Bill No. 129.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for adjournment of debate on Bill No. 129. Would all those in favour
of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: I think that last statement of his spoke volumes in why they are so
negative about everything. Something happened once, years ago and now they don’t trust anyone because of
it.



MR. SPEAKER: The debate has been adjourned.



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Would you please call the order of business, Tabling, Reports, Regulations
and Other Papers.



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources.



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, in response to a question in the House yesterday regarding
the temporary hiring of a human resource co-ordinator I am tabling a response to that for the members of the
House.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: I would advise members of the House that we will be sitting on Monday,
from the hours of 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and the order of business following the daily routine will be
resumption of debate on Public Bills for Second Reading. I move we adjourn until 2:00 p.m. Monday.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion for adjournment has been made and carried. The House will now rise
to meet again Monday afternoon at the hour of 2:00 p.m.



We stand adjourned until 2:00 p.m. on Monday.



[The House rose at 4:00 p.m.]



NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)



RESOLUTION NO. 1151



By: Mr. John Holm (Sackville-Cobequid)



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



Whereas it is one month until most Nova Scotians will be celebrating Christmas with their loved
ones; and



Whereas the Premier’s public timetable permits this House to sit for 10 more sitting days maximum;
and



Whereas the loss of democratic rights and freedoms that was required to make Italy’s trains run on
time is comparable to the loss of freedoms required for any Premier to preordain the schedule for this House
to review legislation;



Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and everyone who attends Liberal caucus meetings should
resist the temptation to take any further steps to steamroll unpopular, unwise and ill-considered legislation
through this House simply to satisfy an arbitrary, self-serving political timetable.



NOTICE OF QUESTIONS FOR WRITTEN ANSWERS



Given on November 24, 1994



(Pursuant to Rule 30)



QUESTION NO. 12



By: Mr. Ronald Russell (Hants West)

 

To: Hon. John Savage (Premier)



(1) I want to know, as does V. Cook of Yarmouth, why is the provincial government doing
nothing about the federal government building a new base in Lunenburg County instead of using the
Cornwallis Armed Forces Base which they are closing at the cost of many jobs?



QUESTION NO. 13



By: Mr. Ronald Russell (Hants West)

 

To: Hon. Ross Bragg (Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency)



(1) I want to know, as does Adam Sampson of Windsor, if there is any government funding
available for his Glasscan fibreglass business as he is the only black businessman in Hants County and one
of very few in manufacturing in Nova Scotia?



QUESTION NO. 14



By: Mr. Ronald Russell (Hants West)

 

To: Hon. Bernard Boudreau (Minister of Finance)



(1) I want to know, as does J. MacDonald of Sydney, if the government’s tax rebate for post-secondary students purchasing computer equipment can also be extended to high school students in order that
they may be more prepared when stepping from Grade 12 to post-secondary education?



QUESTION NO. 15



By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

 

To: Hon. John MacEachern (Minister of Education)



(1) I want to know, as does P. Melanson of Amherst, in 1990 the Department of Education and
the Department of Advanced Education and Training were merged into one. At that time, it was proposed that
the two unions (NSTU and NSGEU) would be merged as well. When is this merger going to take place and
what form will it take?






QUESTION NO. 16



By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

 

To: Hon. John MacEachern (Minister of Education)



(1) I want to know, as does M. Tibbetts of Bear River, why children have to ride on a school
bus that is overcrowded, and is there consideration of getting seatbelts for each rider?



QUESTION NO. 17



By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

 

To: Hon. John MacEachern (Minister of Education)



(1) I want to know, as does Gail Fisher of Wallace, why, when she applied at Kingstec
Community College in Kentville to take a one year program in funeral services, she was told that she would
not get accepted because of politics, and what qualifications must she have in order to qualify and be accepted
in such a course?