Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017
























HALIFAX, FRIDAY, APRIL 28, 1995



Fifty-sixth General Assembly



Third Session



8:00 A.M.



SPEAKER



Hon. Paul MacEwan



DEPUTY SPEAKER



Mrs. Francene Cosman






MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like to call the House to order at this time.



Are there any introductions of guests in the galleries? If not, we will advance directly into the daily
routine.



The daily routine.



PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS



GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.



RESOLUTION NO. 219



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, today I am speaking on behalf of the Minister of Labour.



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



1185

 

Whereas today is a national day of mourning for persons killed or injured in the work place; and



Whereas each year far too many workers and families feel the impact of work place injury, illness
and fatality in Nova Scotia; and



Whereas employers, employees and elected officials must work together to reduce the human and
economic cost of work place accidents, making work place health and safety everyone’s responsibility;



Therefore be it resolved that as we look back and remember the workers who have been killed or
injured in our work place, we also look ahead and work together to make more work sites safer for all Nova
Scotians.



Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I now ask that the honourable members pause for a moment of
silence and remember workers who have been killed or injured in Nova Scotia.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



The motion is carried by unanimous consent.



The notice calls for a moment of silence, which we will now observe.



[One minute of silence was observed.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.



HON. RONALD STEWART: On an introduction, Mr. Speaker, if I may. Nova Scotia has long
welcomed visitors to its shores. It gives me great pleasure to introduce, through you and to the members of
the House, representatives of a delegation from the People’s Republic of China, who are establishing a liaison
with the Ministry of Health and with the hospitals, particularly the children’s hospital here. They have a very
good tradition developing of mutual help.



I would like to introduce them to you this morning, Mr. Speaker. Dr. Fu, who is Vice-President of
the Department of Public Health of Zhejiang Province of the People’s Republic of China; Dr. Chen, who is
Head of the Children’s Hospital of Wenzhou City; Dr. Hu, Director of Cardiac Surgery of the Children’s
Hospital of Zhejiang; Mr. Hong, who is the Deputy Chief of the Foreign Affairs Department of Public Health
of Zhejiang Province and who is the official translator; and Mr. Richard Leadon, Manager of Cardiovascular
Perfusion at the IWK Children’s Hospital. Would you welcome them to our shores. (Applause)



INTRODUCTION OF BILLS



NOTICES OF MOTION



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



RESOLUTION NO. 220



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



Whereas head office administration costs within the Department of Transportation have sky-rocketed
in the past two years by $1.1 million; and



Whereas field administration costs in the Department of Transportation have soared through the roof
by $3.3 million; and



Whereas the budget for snow and ice control, as well as for highways, bridges and buildings, has
decreased by $16.3 million;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation get his priorities straight and begin the
learning process of what Nova Scotians want and deserve from their Department of Transportation.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The budget will be debated, I assume,
on my department, as it is in all others and to put out erroneous information or to put it out in such a way that
there is no explanation for that, this is not an increase in head office administration or an increase in field
administration, what it is, is moving Registry of Motor Vehicles accounting into the Finance Division and
moving superintendents and foreman out of snow and ice control, where they have been buried, and putting
them in administration where they should have been.



MR. JOHN HOLM: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, . . .



[8:15 a.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: Now wait one moment, please. I have not even had a chance to read this resolution
yet.



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: It is in the book.



MR. SPEAKER: I would ask the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley to please be quiet.



I appreciate the points of the honourable Minister of Transportation but under the parliamentary
standards of Beauchesne and Erskine May, I don’t find anything out of order about the motion. It may be
erroneous in fact but, as I have ruled before, there is nothing wrong with a member getting up and moving
that therefore be it resolved that two and two make five. That doesn’t necessarily make two and two are five,
but that is the honourable member’s expression of opinion and, so long as it conforms to the standards of the
parliamentary authorities, it is in order.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.









RESOLUTION NO. 221



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



Whereas two years ago the Liberal Leader declared that “it is key that Nova Scotians can hold their
government accountable and you can’t do that if facts are hidden or hard to access”; and



Whereas the Liberal Party issued a campaign pledge that government “must open its activities to
scrutiny by the public and the opposition”; and



Whereas a Liberal Party committee now recommends that one of the greatest state secrets in this
province be the level of support that their own Leader enjoys from his own political Party;



Therefore be it resolved that Liberals should buck up their courage and be prepared to tell each other
and Nova Scotians just how much they support their leadership and this government.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



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



Whereas Nova Scotia highway workers have seen the effects of a 26 per cent cut in snow and ice
control during the last two years, an 18 per cent cut in ferry budgets and a 16 per cent cut in the budget for
highways and bridges; and



Whereas field administration costs rose 28 per cent during the same period, while head office
administration is up 16 per cent; and



Whereas this year the Transportation Minister himself is enjoying the largest increase in any
minister’s office budget;



Therefore be it resolved that any Nova Scotian, who thinks it was another innocent Liberal mistake
to cut road quality and safety for the sake of a much larger administration, should ask the Finance Minister
about his boast that “we know where we’re going; we have a plan.”.



MR. SPEAKER: I don’t know if that is a proposition for the adoption of the House. A resolution
before the House should call on the House to take some action; resolved that any Nova Scotian who thinks
such and such should then do so and so, in my view, is not a proper proposition to put to the House for
adoption.



I rule the motion out of order.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Harbour.



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



Whereas the Minister of Natural Resources remains very distant with Nova Scotians on important
issues facing the forestry industry; and



Whereas the long-distance feeling with the minister has even spread to the ranks of the Liberal
caucus; and



Whereas a case in point is the recent announcement by the member for Shelburne after he was forced
to find out from the minister’s executive assistant as to the state of two Natural Resources depots in Shelburne
County;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Natural Resources realize he can’t run and hide forever
and that sooner or later both Nova Scotians and the Liberal caucus members will catch up to him.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



[This resolution was withdrawn later on Page 1191.]



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 222



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 effects of the so-called municipal service exchange continue to be felt in the form of
higher property taxes for many Nova Scotians; and



Whereas Colchester County has been forced to increase the residential property tax rate by 8.78 per
cent; and



Whereas despite boasts that Liberal tax hikes are a thing of the past, many costs are being loaded
onto property taxes and other regressive rates that Nova Scotians must pay regardless of their income;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges this government to stop undermining its own credibility
and public confidence by claiming the Liberals are not increasing taxes.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 223



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



Whereas Barrington Municipal Council has expressed concern about the failure of the federal
Fisheries Minister to decide whether helicopter service based in southwest Nova Scotia will continue; and



Whereas the present helicopter contract expires within three months; and



Whereas one of Canada’s richest fisheries has gained immeasurably from the assured surveillance
and fast rescues provided by helicopter service in Southwest Nova;



Therefore be it resolved that this House join with the Municipality of Barrington and the many
coastal communities in southwest Nova Scotia in seeking an early decision in favour of continuing the federal
Fisheries Department helicopter service based in that region.



MR. SPEAKER: Several members have called for waiver of notice.



Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.



RESOLUTION NO. 224



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



Whereas April 28, 1995, will see a Celebration of Success at Eastern Passage Junior High School
in the communities of Eastern Passage, Cow Bay and Shearwater; and



Whereas the Eastern Passage Junior High School is the very first school in Nova Scotia in which all
of the students have completed CPR training; and



Whereas this has been accomplished through the efforts of the Family Wellness Network, in concert
with the Eastern Passage/Cow Bay Fire Department and the staff of the Eastern Passage Junior High School;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly extend congratulations to the
community volunteers, teachers, parents and students who participated in the Education for Life project.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. Is this the third time today?



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise on a point of order to clarify my third
Whereas in the last resolution.



MR. SPEAKER: A point of order to clarify the third Whereas.



MR. TAYLOR: Yes, and with your approbation, Mr. Speaker, perhaps we could have that resolution
taken out entirely, unless we can correct it to read “the member for Yarmouth” instead of “the member for
Shelburne.”.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member requested that his motion be withdrawn.



Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



Therefore, the motion is withdrawn.



Are there further notices of motion? If not, that concludes the daily routine. We will now advance
to the order of business, Orders of the Day, Government Business.



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, Government
Motions.



GOVERNMENT MOTIONS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



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



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak for a few minutes this morning, trying to address
the Minister of the Environment and maybe even encourage or prompt the Minister of the Environment
himself to enter into a debate. I want to raise the issue of pits and quarries and regulations and lack thereof
in the Province of Nova Scotia.



Now, Mr. Speaker, the government, under its new environment Act, has introduced regulations that
basically say that the Department of the Environment and the Minister of the Environment are going to take
absolutely no responsibility whatsoever in terms of requiring permits, in terms of doing assessments, in terms
of monitoring any pits and quarries, if such a pit and quarry is to be constructed, or if the aggregate from that
pit and quarry is intended for the use of the Department of Transportation or for contracts to fulfil a contract
that was won from the Department of Transportation and Communications.



Now, Mr. Speaker, what we seem to have happening here is a system being set up where the fox is
to be guarding the hen house. Under the regulations that the Minister of the Environment and his Cabinet
colleagues have passed, it is the Department of Transportation themselves who are supposedly going to be
monitoring the pits and quarries where the aggregate, where the stone, is intended to be used for department
process.



Now, it is obviously an advantage of the Department of Transportation and Communications to have,
so that the Minister of Transportation can get the lowest prices that he possibly can and to keep his
contracting friends happy, to make sure that the cost of that stone, the cost of that aggregate is as low as
possible. It is not the responsibility of the Department of Transportation to ensure the property owners and
homeowners that the environment is properly protected from the activities that go on within that pit and
quarry. Surely to Heavens, the Department of the Environment and the Minister of the Environment should,
by the very nature of the department that he leads, have a key and a main responsibility to ensure that the
highest standards are being met.



Mr. Speaker, my office has been bombarded. We have received letters, we have been receiving phone
calls from residents who are concerned about what this minister and this government are doing. Those in the
metro area are coming from two major areas, from the Hammonds Plains area and we are also receiving
concerns from out in the Waverley area. Now, a former Minister of Transportation and Communications in
the Tory Regime, he seems to favour and side and with the Minister of Transportation of the current
government. That is the member for Kings North.



One would not be surprised that the former Minister of Transportation, the member for Kings North,
might be supportive of what the government is doing. In fact, it was his government that allowed the
Tidewater quarry in Waverley to go ahead in the first place and to set it up in the way that they did.
(Interruption) He now says from behind me that they should have allowed more. Well, I think that the
homeowners, the people, the residents in the Waverley area who are saying that they cannot even get blast
insurance because of the damage that has been done and the number of claims that they have put in because
of damage done to their homes, they would be very interested in hearing the view of the former Conservative
Government as well as they do of the Liberals.



Mr. Speaker, the former Minister of the Environment, now Minister for the Economic Renewal
Agency, suspended, quite correctly - and I applauded him on that and I still do, if it means anything, anything
in terms of a suspension - he suspended the license of Tidewater and he did so because Tidewater had
breached the permit that they were operating under. They breached that permit by extracting more aggregate
than they were permitted to do.



Now, in this House previously when I raised questions like this, the Minister of the Environment
said, well, they are the only company that he is aware of that has an actual quantity associated with their
permit and indicated that it was a voluntary measure on their part. Well, that is not correct, quite frankly,
because the recommendation to put the quantity controls on the Tidewater permit came as a result of the
environmental assessment, under the old Environmental Protection Act, that was held back in 1985.
Originally the company had been seeking, from the information I have been provided, 300,000 tons. It was
suggested to the minister of the former government as a result of the assessment process that that figure was
too high and that it would lead to harm to the environment and to the residents in the area. So, they
recommended a rate of 90,000 tons and the former minister agreed to that level.



Well, surely to Heavens, Mr. Speaker, residents in a community should not be forced, they should
not be the ones whose job it is to go out and monitor and check to find out if, in fact, those permits are being
honoured. Surely to Heavens, the department - and this is a government and this is a department that said that
they were going to be active, that they were going to be enforcing (Interruption) stringently is the word I am
trying to get out.



AN HON. MEMBER: It is an early morning.



MR. HOLM: The Minister of Supply and Services correctly says it is an early morning, Mr. Speaker,
and I am trying to break in a new tongue, obviously, at the start of a new day.



They promised that they were going to very forcefully and stringently be enforcing the regulations
and the Act. Yet, it was up to the citizens to actually be counting the number of vehicles and then to be doing
the calculations that forced this government to determine how much aggregate was actually being removed.
Now, there is a very real probability because of the way the regulations are written, even though that permit
has been suspended, that if that company were to choose to bid, and it has bid and won contracts with the
Department of Transportation, and if the aggregate from that quarry is intended only for the contracts of the
Department of Transportation, they don’t even need a permit to be extracting rock from a quarry nor does
anybody else need to have a permit from the Department of the Environment to be extracting rock or to
undergo an assessment, if they are providing their stone to the Department of Transportation or for a
Department of Transportation contract.



[8:30 a.m.]



In other words, the suspension looks like it was very much of a paper tiger. If, in fact, the information
I have is correct and I invite the minister if my information that I am putting forward today is not bang on,
I invite the minister to stand in his place and to make the record straight and to put the government’s position
clearly on the line in opposition to what I am saying.



The minister is also, from information that I have received, having discussions with and responding
very favourably to the Roadbuilders Association. I can understand and I appreciate where the Roadbuilders
Association is coming from and I don’t fault them for lobbying for their best interests. Their best interests
would mean to have the least amount of regulations on their operations, the greatest opportunities to establish
pits and quarries wherever and whenever they decide they want to because that will give them an opportunity
to maximize their profits. Certainly it is in the interests of the Department of Transportation to make sure that
they can get the stone as cheaply as possible but that is not necessarily in the interests of the people in the
communities where those are going to be located. The areas I am hearing the most about are in the Hammonds
Plains area and out in the Waverley area. I would like to hear also the representatives from those areas maybe
bringing forward some of the concerns in that regard.



Surely to Heaven, this minister and this government, if their suspensions of permits are to mean
anything at all, if the Department of the Environment is to have any credibility whatsoever, it should make
it clear, unequivocally that that company which has exceeded its department permit will not be permitted to
extract any more stone from that area until enough time has passed that they are back within their quota
levels. Since they had extracted over 200,000 tons when they were only permitted 90,000 in one year’s
operation, that would mean a suspension, surely to Heaven, of approximately two years.



If the minister, as there are also rumours that he is planning to do, does in fact lift the suspension,
then the suspension itself becomes a joke. The suspension will have only been imposed during the winter
season when, in fact, there is virtually nothing done in the way of mining or extracting of aggregate from such
quarries.



Certainly, the Roadbuilders Association have had good access to the government and they have been
able to meet, for example, with the mineral resources committee. Yet, representatives from those who are
concerned about the environment, those who represent the communities that have been affected, the Sackville
Rivers Association, the Black Duck Society and others, as well as the residents groups, they have not yet even
had a response from the minister for a meeting. We also understand that the minister, when he received, as
we all did, letters of lobbying from the Roadbuilders Association, that the minister responded extremely
quickly to them within a matter of a few days indicating how supportive he was of their concerns and of their
causes.



Yet, in the in the estimates debate, when I raised concerns about pits and quarries and about the
effects that they have on the homeowners and the schools and other public buildings in the area, the minister
expressed to me in the Red Chamber that he had a great deal of sympathy for those people and that he had
a great deal of sympathy for the 800 metre set-back for new pits and quarries from existing residential
properties. I appears that the minister has sympathies, obviously, with both sides but is only responding and
dealing directly with one.



I can’t help but wonder if the minister and it is like when I asked about the Thorburn situation and
the strip mine where he said, well, we get so many letters from one group, we get so many letters from another
and the majority are on this side so that is the side that we opted for. It sounds like it depends on what kind
of polling is being done. If you send more letters, if you make more calls on one side than the other, maybe
that is the side that the minister and the department will come down on.



I remind the minister and I remind the government that the Department of the Environment is there
to protect not just business interests - and it does have a responsibility to help to ensure that businesses are
fairly and properly protected, those who own businesses also live in the Province of Nova Scotia and are
affected by what is done around them - but they have a responsibility to ensure that the integrity of the
environment is protected and not strained and those who live in these areas do not have the peace, enjoyment
and the values of their homes destroyed because of activities of others.



Certainly, in the Upper Sackville area because of another failure by the Department of the
Environment to do proper assessments and to do proper monitoring, we have seen the residents in the area
having their home values greatly reduced, we have seen them losing the enjoyment of their homes because
of a landfill, if you can call it that - it is called a landfill but it properly has been operated like a dump rather
than what you would call a proper landfill - we have seen their properties and their way of life extremely
affected in the negative as a result of the government’s failure to provide the leadership and action that it
should.



Surely, others across this province have a right to expect that the minister will not permit their homes
and their enjoyment of their homes and their property values to be destroyed, so that somebody who seems
to have a direct line to the minister and to the government can make a few extra dollars and be exempted from
the proper protections that are supposed to be provided under the environment Act. You know, the new
environment Act like so many other things, is almost like a skeleton with almost everything to be decided by
regulations.



MR. SPEAKER: I believe the honourable member’s time has expired.



MR. HOLM: It has expired. Well, there is more to be said but all I will say in closing as I take my
seat is to simply say, one wants to hear the Minister of the Environment stand up and very clearly state what
he is prepared to do to ensure that these homeowners and these communities are going to be properly
protected which is, of course, his responsibility to do. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for East Hants.



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, I just want to take a couple of minutes of the House’s
time this morning to discuss what has been of some interest to me in the last few days and that is the
methodology that the Opposition Parties have taken in this House. I find it interesting and I wanted to inform
myself of precedents to see how we are progressing in that regard.



I note now that the Committee on Assembly Matters, under your very capable leadership and
chairmanship is meeting to discuss new rule changes, possible rule changes, seeking an all-Party agreement,
that is always the best. In my view, this House as with all government creatures, all business creatures, must
evolve and it must change to reflect times. I think we are moving in that direction. What I do find somewhat
strange is the methodology in this House that the Opposition Parties use when they are discussing bills.



Now, Mr. Speaker, we are all aware of the procedures that are followed; we have a first reading, we
have a second reading, we have a committee that the bill is referred to, we have a Committee of the Whole
House made up of all members of this House, and then we have a third reading. What has been interesting
lately is that every time there is a bill put forward by this government, and it doesn’t have to be a bill that
incurs the wrath of the Opposition Parties, it just has to be a bill of any significance at all, and we watch a
procedure go through. There are amendments proposed and they are always the same, they say the exact same
thing. It doesn’t matter what the bill is about, it matters not what the subject matter of the bill is about, it
doesn’t even matter whether members of the Opposition Parties are in favour of it or against it. It is the exact
same amendment.



Mr. Speaker, I sat in this House with awe, in the first 20 months of being involved in provincial Party
politics at this level, and I saw amendments that were put forward where the name of the previous bill had
not been erased from the amendment. (Laughter) Now here is an amendment on a bill that is very important,
and you hear it, you must have heard it. Every Opposition member gets up and says, Mr. Speaker, this is a
very important matter and I wish the attention, and those heckling, and what are the names, monkeys,
lemmings, seals, I have heard it. They are making fun. This is a very important matter, Mr. Speaker, this
amendment.



Then we find out in the amendment they forgot to scratch out the name of the previous Act and put
the new one in. Is this how an effective Opposition functions? It is certainly not my understanding of how
Opposition works in a House of Assembly, not just in this province but in any province, in any of the
Commonwealth states and to our good friends to the south in their states also. You don’t put forth
amendments that say the exact same thing, unless you have a reason for doing so. (Interruption)



My friend for Halifax Atlantic asked me what do I base that knowledge on? Well, I base it on sitting
in this chair, and I believe it was your amendment that I am talking about. But that is not the only one, in
fairness . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Please address the Chair now and don’t be distracted by rabbit tracks.



MR. CARRUTHERS: Yes, I will. Well, actually I enjoy his help because I have always done a little
bit of this myself, I have to tell you. (Laughter) So, Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you, I have checked the Rule
Books and the Rule Books allow it.



Now I must tell you things. Under the Criminal Code there are certain defences allowed. Now one
doesn’t run out and try to find every defence they can use under the Criminal Code to do things. That is not
the methodology in a person’s life, to see if they can find some excuse to do something that some others might
consider wrong, or some defence. So when the member for Halifax Atlantic says that the rules allow it, what
it really means is that we know this is dumb, we understand this is silly, we understand that it makes no sense
and if average Canadians and Nova Scotians were in this House watching this, we understand they would be
going (Laughter) but the rules allow it. Well, I understand that, the rules do allow it.



Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you something else, because of your fairness in this House and your
rulings that give a great deal of leeway to the Opposition, and I am sure they are very thankful to you, for
instance, we have the debate on the motion to hoist. Well, we know that in many cases a passage of a hoist
amendment many times, realistically, as the Speaker has pointed out, could be the death knell of the bill. So
what? That is not what the amendment says, it says to hoist. So one of these guys gets up, I should not say
that.



MR. SPEAKER: These honourable members.



MR. CARRUTHERS: These honourable members get up and say, well let’s talk about the pros and
cons of the bill. But excuse me, that is just what you talked about. Did you ever sit for any length of time and
listen to the comments that come out of the Opposition? They say the same thing over and over again. It
would be one thing if you said the same thing about the bill before you, because as my friends, we have
pointed out, we wish to say it over and over again to strike home the importance of what we are saying.



[8:45 a.m.]



That’s not a bad argument, is it? But you cannot say the same thing about 10 different bills.
Sometimes they are not even related. You could take out three or four words. I am sure the speech-writers for
the Opposition Parties have a really easy time. You just take the speeches and you cross out five or six places
and you fill in - now once in a while they forget to do that, mind you, so it must be a bit embarrassing - but
if they are not embarrassed, I wish to point it out just in case it slipped by them. (Interruption)



Mr. Speaker, I have been told by, as a matter of fact I look at my good friend here, the member for
Kings North. He is always so very helpful to me, an advisor for quite some time, since I have come into this
House. He was quick to point out to me some time ago when I rose to speak on a point of order, he said, now
look, this new member is going to tell us things. This House has been running for 175 years without the new
member so it should be able to function without his input. Well, let me tell you something. I realize the
member for Kings North is a bit long in the tooth compared to me, but 175 years he can’t claim.



Mr. Speaker, I have looked back and that is not the way it was always done in this House, to
automatically go through the rigmarole. They all have to speak. It does not matter what the bill is about, it
does not matter whether they are for it, it does not matter whether they agree with each other. If they don’t
all say something, see, they are not doing their job right. So, they’ve all got to say something and they’ve all
got to say something on every amendment and they’ve all got to say something on every bill because that is
their job. Now, they may know nothing about what they are talking about at all.



What is interesting is I have heard members from the Opposition say, read the bill, read the bill.
Now, don’t hold me to this. I cannot substantiate this, but I think one time I saw one of them saying read the
bill and he had the wrong bill. (Laughter) I make it a policy of reading the bills. I like to listen to the
Opposition members because, to be frank, there are experienced Opposition members over here, I wish to hear
their comments. Many times they have good comments and many times we have made amendments as a result
of input from the Opposition members. So, I listen to those Opposition members because sometimes they make
sense. But every time you listen and hear something that makes sense, I’ve got to tell you, you have to go
through three or four speeches that make no sense at all.



We are definitely dedicated members and we want to hear them all. I want you to understand this
does not slip by. When someone gets up and rattles and rattles and says nothing, I hope the member that is
making the speech does not think that we don’t know, that we are not listening. We hear you. Sometimes it
shuts off after a certain period of time, but we hear enough to have made a conscious evaluative decision on
the evidence before us that, oh, oh, here is another one of these, they make no sense. (Interruption)



Well, listen. Honestly, I was kidding. I got a little note here that is going to help me out, but I was
going to get to this because this is really good.



AN HON. MEMBER: Is it better than what we’ve heard to this point?



MR. CARRUTHERS: Oh, it is. I’ve got to tell you. Did you notice how many times that members
opposite will get up and speak against a bill and it sounds like, my Heavens, we’re bombing orphanages and
we must be the worst creatures in the world? And, then they get up and vote in favour in the bill. Hello! You
know, I keep quoting Star Trek, but somebody has to beam me up when I hear this kind of thing.



Here’s a great one. The member mentions about being a defence lawyer. Well, there is something that
I learned in law school, way back. It was in moot court. Moot court is when you are just learning to go, I love
to go to court and I love to speak in this House of Assembly. I really enjoy being here, I have to tell you. I
learned this a long time ago, when your case doesn’t have any meat, when it is meritless, you’ve got to say
something; these people follow that route. They’ve got to say something anyway. (Laughter) So, when there
is nothing bad you can really say about the government’s bill, you pick something on procedure. We learned
that in law school; find something procedurally wrong. (Laughter) I really like what you are doing, but I don’t
like the way you are doing it.



How many times have you heard this one? We are in favour of this bill, but we don’t like the way you
are doing it. Now that’s walking both sides of the street. So you are out there in your constituency and
somebody comes up to you and says, I am in favour of that bill; I said in the House I am in favour of that bill.
Another person comes up and says, I am not in favour of that bill, I told him I just didn’t like this bill because
of the way they did it. Now, when you speak both sides, it works very well.



The key is this, when you talk about principles such as the principles of amalgamation of services,
when you talk about principles about making a redistribution of the monies in this province from those that
have to those that have not, when you speak about principles of reform so that you do not wish to give things
just because of friends people have and their power and their money, the biggies and those well-connected,
when you try to change that system, you have to stand up and you have to be counted. Are you with us or are
you against us? (Applause) It is as simple as that.



MR. SPEAKER: One minute remaining.



MR. CARRUTHERS: Well, just one last thing I wanted to point out. I know it is Friday and I know
that there is a big conference going on in Ottawa where the Conservative Party is holding their convention
of their MPs. We have, I think, two of our members up there representing Nova Scotia. I am glad of that
because it is nice to see a couple of members from the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia go up
because it is an equal, we send two of our members up and that equals the whole MPs of this Party. (Laughter)



Mr. Speaker, more power to them. I wish them well. I wish they would analyze their approach to
opposition and anything I can do to help, as a nuance, I will certainly offer them. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I was questioning whether or not to get up today. There
is a lot of business to be done today, there are a lot of issues to be covered, and a lot of questions to be asked
but, nonetheless, the intervention of the member for Hants East, I found thought-provoking, and a tough act
to follow. I certainly would never suggest that I am anywhere near the kind of stand-up comic that the member
for Hants East obviously is . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Look at the material that . . .



MR. CHISHOLM: . . . and presents his interpretation of what goes on in this particular House.



I can understand that perception of what happens here being somewhat twisted by someone that sits
in the far-reaches of a government caucus, where they don’t have a whole lot of opportunity to participate.
That is that member’s only experience, as well as some other new members here, Mr. Speaker, in terms of
understanding what the Rules of the House are and understanding what parliamentary procedure is all about
and, for that matter, even dealing with very difficult things like democracy and people having the opportunity
to participate in debate.



I just want to, on a small point, talk a little bit about what the member was doing, trying to obviously
mock the participation by Opposition members in their debate on bills, in particular, at second reading. He
was doing that by suggesting that Opposition members oppose bills simply for the sake of opposing them. The
evidence to that, as he suggested, is the fact that we present the same amendments time in and time out; in
fact, it gets so bad that sometimes the headline on one amendment is for the previous bill. Now isn’t that awful
says the member for Hants East.



Well, Mr. Speaker, rules, I understand, are a difficult concept sometimes in this House. I sometimes
question them, I have trouble with them, as you yourself will appreciate. But, at the same time, there are
things that we have to work within. When, for example, I have concerns about a particular bill, let’s take the
metro amalgamation bill that is before us or let’s look at the casino bill that we dealt with in the winter/spring
or the Workers’ Compensation Act; at second reading, if you oppose a particular piece of legislation, if you
are concerned about specific aspects of that legislation, then you have the opportunity to make three different
kinds of amendments at second reading stage in a bill, to that amendment.



Mr. Speaker, in Beauchesne on Page 200 and 201 and 202, it lays out what those amendments are
at second reading and what form they must take. There is what is called the hoist amendment, which is an
amendment suggesting that the bill not be read a second time but that it be read a second time this day, and
sometimes we say six months hence, sometimes we say three months hence. But the point is that if you oppose
a particular piece of legislation, on whatever grounds, you may wish that it be delayed for that period of time,
in order to receive further examination. That is the purpose for that hoist amendment.



It doesn’t matter, I don’t think, Mr. Speaker, how you say it, a hoist amendment is a hoist
amendment. It is very clear what the language of that particular amendment has to be. You could come up
with a whole page worth of words but if you don’t have the specific language that is directed by Beauchesne,
then you may incur the wrath of the Chair at that particular time and have that motion ruled out of order. So
it is not unknown and it makes some sense and it is perfectly a part of the rules, in fact it is directed by the
rules, that if you are proposing a hoist amendment, one of the three provided for in Beauchesne at second
reading, then you do it in a certain way. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about municipal
amalgamation, workers’ compensation, the casinos or whatever, if you have a bill that you want hoisted, this
is the language.



The second type of amendment is called a reasoned amendment, Mr. Speaker, and there is a form,
which you know very well, which that particular resolution or amendment must take. There are five categories
that it must fit within. It is very specific.



MR. SPEAKER: Only number one is a must and it says it must be declaratory. The others say it may
be.



MR. CHISHOLM: Well, I would suggest that that is true, but whether it is declaratory is a matter
that is somewhat part of interpretation. It is also important that it falls into one of those categories. But as you
know, Mr. Speaker, that doesn’t change from one bill to the next, necessarily, that you make a statement about
one of the principles, in terms of being adverse to the bill, and you lay it out accordingly.



Now, to suggest that all of those amendments that are proposed in each bill are the same, I think is
clearly a misrepresentation of the facts. I know that from personal experience because I have difficulty getting
it right, getting my reasoned amendments in a way that is acceptable to the Chair, Mr. Speaker. Sometimes
they are acceptable, sometimes they are not. I think that is an indication of one of two things, either the
Chair’s interpretations change or my preparation of the amendments change. Regardless, the fact is the rules
are clear and if you are opposed to a bill on those grounds, then you must follow a certain form and then make
your presentation and hope for the best.



[9:00 a.m.]



The third type of amendment that is allowed at second reading is a referral of subject matter to a
committee and there are a number of conditions upon which that can be made. I won’t go through them
particularly, but the question of whether the referral to a committee requires the expenditure of additional
monies, whether the resolution is too specific in terms of what the committee must deal with, these are all
matters that form in which that particular amendment has to fall within. It doesn’t matter whether you are
talking about casinos, whether you are talking about workers’ compensation, whether you are talking about
municipal amalgamation.



The fact is that if you want a particular aspect of a bill referred to a committee, whether that be the
Public Accounts Committee to review tax implications, whether that be the Community Services Committee
to consider the effects, for example, of casino gambling, or whatever, it has to fall within the parameters of
those rules.



I just wanted to stand up and clarify what I felt was a clear misrepresentation of what the Opposition
is actually faced with and what you, sir, and the other people who chair this House are responsible to and that
is that if the Opposition or anyone else in this Legislature is opposed to a particular piece of legislation or is
concerned about a particular piece of legislation and want to make changes to it, they have to do that within
the rules of this House as set by our own rules and by Beauchesne and to some extent by the rules of the
English Parliament as presented by Sir Erskine May. So, as frustrating as it may be sometimes for the member
for Hants East and for other members who sit with very little to do sometimes when we are debating bills,
there is a method to what appears to be the madness sometimes in this House; that we have to follow certain
procedures and that we are sometimes encumbered by that, sometimes that facilitates our debate and our
process in terms of opposing that particular legislation.



I encourage the member for Hants East to review those rules and to appreciate the fact that whether
it is the constituents of Halifax Atlantic or the constituents of Hants East or Inverness-Richmond, people
(Interruption). It is in Cape Breton somewhere. I just thought we would take in two constituencies right there,
the Government House Leader can handle it. Anyway, I had a whole different topic that I was going to get
up and talk about. I will save that for another day.



MR. SPEAKER: You have four minutes remaining.



MR. CHISHOLM: I have no intention of taking that time. It is not enough to discuss the other topic
but I was so entertained by the member for Hants East that I was prompted to get up and respond in some way.
I felt the best way to do that was to perhaps clarify for him or anybody else that is crazy enough to be up at
this hour and watching the matter or may read Hansard, that the representation that was presented by the
member for Hants East has not quite gotten very close to the actual facts.



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: A question, Mr. Speaker. I just wonder, I prefaced my comments
with comments regarding the ongoing meeting of the Committee on Assembly Matters, chaired by the Speaker
of the House and our attempts to perhaps work out on an all-Party basis, some progressive changes to the
rules. I wonder if the member would have any comment on that approach?



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I do, I think it is extremely important that we modernize and update
the rules of this House, in terms of how debate happens. My concern is that from that member and from
government members sometimes is what they see as progressive changes are changes that limit the debate for
the Opposition because they get tired of listening to us exercise our democratic right to participate in debate
and, therefore, they think that that needs to be changed. (Interruptions)



Well, that is not the reason why you make rules changes in the Legislature. You know, changes have
been made, in terms of how the committee on estimates does its business, that has been agreed to. There have
been other changes in this House, some that we have agreed to and some that we don’t. But, nonetheless, what
we have to constantly do is participate in a process that modernizes and makes the rules of this House
relevant.



At the same time, I, as a member of this Legislature, am going to protect my right to participate in
debate as strenuously and as actively as I possibly can, whether or not that gets in the way of some members
who don’t have as much to do as I, that is unfortunate. But, Mr. Speaker, I think it is important that all of us
do our best to protect the democratic rights that we have in this Legislature to participate to the utmost in
representing the concerns of our constituents.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I understand we have just about a minute left. I would
like to recognize the contribution that the member for Hants East has made, I think he makes a number of
very valid points. Part of the difficulty is that when an Opposition member rises in the House and makes an
amendment to hoist a bill and then argues strenuously at great length about all the value that will come from
a six months’ hoist, for example, is pressed in debate, as I think they were the other day by the honourable
member for Hants East, will get up and say, now the member for Hants East knows that we are not really out
to hoist the bill, we are out to kill it; this is just procedure, this is just a tactic, we don’t really mean what we
are suggesting here when we debate.



Well, that is fine, that is legitimate under the rules; we don’t really mean it, this is a tactic. When
they come up and move what I suggest, Mr. Speaker, what I refer to as the Xerox amendment, in other words
they just pull another copy out, put it through and say ultimately, when pressed, oh we really don’t mean this,
this is just another tactic. You people know that this is just a tactic of the Opposition and they are legitimately
able to do that. Or, Mr. Speaker, (Interruptions) If I may have the floor.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is very little time left here.



MR. BOUDREAU: Or in Committee of the Whole, Mr. Speaker, when they debate 100 hours on the
title of the bill and get up and say, we don’t really mean that we are debating the title of the bill, this is just
a tactic. (Interruption) Well, in those circumstances, I would suggest that they read the story of the little boy
who cried wolf. Now the problem is, if you get up and continually debate things you are not really serious
about, as a tactic, they might at least indicate that when they rise at first - now for those of you who may be
listening, we are not really serious about this, this is a tactic - then that would save us some difficulty, Mr.
Speaker, on this side.



Nowhere was it shown as much as it was in this House the other day, when the honourable Official
Opposition got up, debated at great length, admittedly to crush the municipal amalgamation bill here in
Halifax, to crush it. They were very clear, in response to the member for Hants East; we are not looking to
hoist this, the honourable member knows, we are looking to crush this bill, to defeat it, and moments later
got up and voted in favour. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for the discussion of the motion to go into Supply has expired.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. My point of order would be to the
honourable member that the Opposition the other day were voting in favour of that motion to get it on to the
Law Amendments Committee so that the people of Nova Scotia can come in and try to get through to this
government, where the Opposition can’t, letters can’t, nobody can seem to get through to this government. We
want to put it to the Law Amendments Committee where the people can come in and (Interruptions) they are
lined up for days, come in and and give this government a piece of advice. Mr. Speaker, that is why we voted
to get it on the the Law Amendments Committee so that people can . . .



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. So when they vote and argue to
hoist it, they don’t really mean that, and when they vote in favour of it in principle, they don’t really mean that
either? Well, all I am looking for is that they would announce that before hand so we would know.
(Interruption)



MR. SPEAKER: I hesitate to allow an extensive procedural discussion at this time. We have had a
good discussion on the motion to go into Supply but the time allotted for that debate has expired.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: On the point of order, I would just like to ensure the record says very
clearly that the New Democratic caucus voted against that bill.



MR. SPEAKER: I am sure that the record will show that.



The motion is carried.



[9:11 a.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene
Cosman in the Chair.]



[1:13 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene
Cosman in the Chair.]



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



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



MADAM SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



The honourable Government House Leader.



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



PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 5.



Bill No. 5 - School Boards Act.



MADAM SPEAKER: I now recognize the member for Kings North, who adjourned the debate.



The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: How much time do I have?



MADAM SPEAKER: I am advised you have 36 minutes remaining.



SOME HON. MEMBERS: No, no.



MR. ARCHIBALD: I certainly appreciate that. It is comforting to know there is such enthusiasm.



Madam Speaker, it is again interesting to take part in this debate on the bill that the Minister of
Education introduced. It is a very short bill, very easy to read, easy to understand. But you know, the reading
and the understanding of this bill, the ramifications of it can and probably will be felt for many years to come
because this bill gives the Minister of Education absolute and complete power with regard to school boards.
He can, Clause 1, Section 8A(1) “(a) amalgamate a school board with any other school board; (b) annex the
whole or any part of a school district to another school district.”. This is very far-reaching.



The minister recalled the other day when the Leader of the Opposition became Minister of Education,
that he reduced the number of school boards, I think, from 65 or 70 or something down to the current 22. He
indicated that when he did that, he did not even bother meeting with people and that the procedure was not
nearly as exacting and as good as the procedure he is following now. Well, several years ago there was an
amalgamation of school boards. I was not in the Legislature at the time, I don’t know how it was all done, but
I do know the result was 22 boards formed on lines pretty much following the counties and the regions
throughout the province. School boards are at the 22 level in the province at the present time.



The minister put forth a proposal that said we could have four, five or six boards around the province.
Four boards would be exceedingly large districts to try to manoeuvre on, seven would be a little easier to
handle but certainly not acceptable to the school boards. He said a third option will be the proposals that come
forward.



The minister was very pleased when the Kings, Annapolis and Hants West districts came forward
with a proposal, but to hear him talk it was as though they came up with the proposal of their own free will
and said, gee, what a good idea, we want to do this. Really and truly, it was almost as though a gun was to
their head and they said, listen, you are going to be in a much larger district than you are at the present time,
you had better come up with an idea, which is what they did. They have made that proposal and perhaps the
minister will accept it and perhaps not, but the legislation is so very vague.



[1:15 p.m.]



His White Paper, I talked about it yesterday, is so very vague as well that it is hard to know exactly
what on earth the Minister of Education is trying to do at all. We are not sure whether he has an overall plan
of where he wants the school system in Nova Scotia to be six months from now, 12 months from now and two
years from now because if you followed all of the platitudes and chatter that is within this book, Education
Horizons, all very nice words, all nice phrases, I don’t think anybody would quibble with the pleasant, warm
and fuzzy thought that it gives you as you read it. I think that people would be very concerned if they tried
to find out exactly what the Minister of Education is thinking about by reading the book.



He did indicate quite clearly, though, that we had to adopt this legislation sooner not later because
as he indicated on Wednesday, April 19th, in this very Chamber, he told the Leader of the Opposition that
he is sentencing some boards into bankruptcy. To suggest that we don’t act immediately in Guysborough, as
a very particular example, to not do something to help Guysborough out is to sentence them to bankruptcy.
That is what he is suggesting as he speaks.



The minister was indicating that there are school boards that will be bankrupt, Guysborough being
one of them, if we don’t adopt this bill this afternoon at the very latest. The minister knows that even in a
hurry-up mode, this bill can not be adopted in a couple of days. It does take time on the order paper. The
procedures will be followed in this Chamber and the Opposition will have its opportunity to speak.
(Interruption)



The Minister of Transportation in his very helpful way indicates that the important thing is to get
it to the Law Amendments Committee. The other day we supported a bill to go to the Law Amendments
Committee so that we could have input from the general populace of interest. We are getting a lot of interest
and a lot of comment from people. If there is something wrong with moving a bill on to the Law Amendments
Committee, I would like to know what it would be. We are accused on one hand of trying to hold up
legislation but when we do things to assist to get it to the Law Amendments Committee, we are criticized for
voting to get it to the Law Amendments Committee and not holding it up any longer. So you can’t have it on
both hands. One way or the other, Mr. Speaker, the government has got to know that they are in charge
(Interruption) and we have an opportunity to speak.



The minister can tell us all he wants. If Guysborough is going to go bankrupt if we don’t do this
immediately, well, I suggest to you that even if we pass this bill on Monday morning, the minister could do
nothing that quickly to help Guysborough with regard to this bill. Sure, in the long term this bill and the
minister may do something that will change the financial situation in Guysborough but the speed with which
this bill goes through this House, whether it is a matter of days or an extra week, is not going to have any
effect on the people in Guysborough. For the minister to indicate that Guysborough is somehow the reason
for this bill to be in here, and for the reason that the government is trying to put in a fast track, is a little unfair
to the people of Guysborough and it is grossly unfair to the members of this House.



The minister has options that he can adopt to help the school board in Guysborough. It is now
functioning and the school board in Guysborough has been doing some very difficult financial cuts and
situations that will help to stave off his so-called fear of bankruptcy. The last time the minister in this
Chamber used the fear of bankruptcy on the Opposition to try to speed a bill through was in the fall session
of the Legislature, and the bill went through, and to this day, it has not been proclaimed. But the minister said
that the Workers’ Compensation Board needed this bill, needed it now, and you fellows are doing a disservice
to the people of Nova Scotia because you haven’t passed this bill the day we introduced it.



We were held up to ridicule, we were held up for being a nuisance because we slowed the bill down
and the minister said it was not a patriotic thing to do. Yet, when the minister has the bill passed through the
House, through force through the House, he certainly let us down because he said that we really and truly had
to have the bill and nothing has happened. So, the excuse that the Minister of Education is using, that we have
to get this through today, certainly doesn’t bear any more merit than the one from the Minister of Labour last
fall.



The Nova Scotia School Boards Association has written to the minister a joint response. That joint
response came from the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and there was a joint response from a very distinguished
group of Nova Scotians: the Nova Scotia Teachers Union; the Nova Scotia School Boards Association; the
Federation of Home and School Associations; and the Association of Nova Scotia Educational Administrators.
Those people have some real concerns with this bill and the White Paper, and who is listening?



“Education Horizons . . .”, this White Paper, “. . . makes financial claims which, while on paper may
look attractive to the lay reader, in reality are invalid.”. This is what people of independence are saying to the
minister. This isn’t what the Progressive Conservative caucus is saying. This is what the people in the industry
who are teaching the children of Nova Scotia, teaching the future of Nova Scotia, are saying, that the claims
that the minister makes are invalid. Well, why do they say that and is the minister listening to them?



Sometimes, they say, free advice is worth what you pay for it, but these people, their advice is worth
listening to supposing it is free, because they are the people who deal with our schools, the Teachers Union,
the school boards, the Federation of Home and School Associations. They are very concerned with what the
minister is suggesting. They are indicating what is needed is an in-depth analysis of the funding formulas
because they indicate that the minister and his department is not spending enough money on our students.
Well, that is a great divergence from what the minister is actually telling us, so somewhere in the middle must
be the truth and must actually be what the situation presents itself as today.



Why don’t we have an in-depth study of the funding formula? There was one a few years ago and
perhaps it is time we had another one; a lot of things have changed since the Walker Report was done. We
have schools closed, schools opened, different housing patterns, different areas where children are going to
school, different growth centres, so perhaps it is time. Kings County, for instance, has more students this year
than they had two years ago. Other areas of the province have fewer students now than they had a couple of
years ago. Perhaps it is time that we looked at and had an in-depth analysis of the funding formula.



The minister, according to this paper, “. . . refers to the utilization of school councils as the preferred
vehicle for involving parents/community in educational decision-making.”. But the school council is one
model and they only make up a very small part of what the educational system in Nova Scotia can and should
be. The minister, by adopting his views on these councils, certainly has passed over any suggestion in the
contribution that the home and school associations have put forward over these many years. As a former active
parent on the home and school association, I am not sure why the minister would find such great fault and
such lack of interest from the parents in the home and school associations.



I recall all the volunteer and free effort that the parents put forward. I recall seeing many parents
from the home and school associations going into the classrooms to help the children read, help the children
with some of their math problems. The home and school association has been an integral part of the
educational system in Nova Scotia over all of these years and to be totally ignored by the minister and his
White Paper isn’t just quite fair.



The school boards in Nova Scotia have been providing a valuable service to the province but the
school boards were not elected; they were one-third elected, one-third appointed by a municipal council and
one-third appointed by the province. The Opposition for several years said they should all be elected, 100 per
cent elected, that is the only way to make them a viable entity for the 1990’s.



Well, a few years ago the government adopted the policy, let’s elect the school board members. So
that is what has happened now, we have elected the school board members. But this minister, when he was
in Opposition, wanted the school boards elected. Now he is not so sure that that was even the right decision.
He has changed his mind again. Really and truly, is there any written documentation that tells us why the
Minister of Education has changed his mind? He has more power in his hand than all of the school boards
that were elected across Nova Scotia. This minister, if we adopt the bill, can supersede the wishes of the
people of Kings County, Annapolis, Lunenburg, Queens. He supersedes the electoral wishes of the people
because he can combine the Kings County, the Shelburne, which is one of his plans -Kings, Shelburne,
Queens, Digby, Annapolis. He can combine the whole shooting match into one board, if he so wishes. This
is not what the people of Nova Scotia either expected from this minister nor is it what they were told by the
minister.



You see, the specifications in the recommendations from the independent school board, the Teachers
Union and the home and school association, general comments, suggested, “that the Nova Scotia Department
of Education and Culture provide a clear provincial direction for public education.”. Now this is very peculiar
that they would make a recommendation like that, right after the minister put out Education Horizons. You
would have thought that would have been the groundwork and the background and the skeleton for a new
education system. But, in fact, what this is is merely a bunch of nice warm and fuzzy words put together. You
know, develop and allocate equitable funding on a global basis to each school; approve school improvement
plans; accountability reports and budgets. All of the things in this are warm and fuzzy. You can’t particularly
argue with them but you can’t really go out and hang your hat on them. If a carpenter or a contractor wanted
to build a house and an architect gave him a set of plans that were the same sort of stuff as this, he would not
be able to follow it because it is not the framework. It is a rough idea, it is the sort of a thing like saying we
are going to build a house without any plans; the plans and specifications to follow.



The school boards and the Teachers Union have suggested that a clear direction be given, so that the
parents, the taxpayers and the students can really understand where this minister wants to take us. ” That a
carefully planned reform process be a part of the provincial direction.”. This is a government that is concerned
with one word and that is reform of pretty near anything that can possibly be reformed, they want to reform
it. Now their definition of reform is whatever you happen to think it may be but there are a lot of things you
can change and is it reform? Most people, when they heard reform, said hummm, reform is going to make
things better. But, in actual fact, does this legislation and does this White Paper have anything in it that is
truly going to make education for Nova Scotia better?



They are suggesting the reform program that the minister talks about be implemented in
chronological stages; let’s find out where we are going, one at a time. We are jumping in with both feet and
we don’t even know how warm or how deep the water is. “That adequate time, financial and human resources
be allocated to ensure that reform is successful.”. Well, we are not sure of the funding, we certainly are not
sure of the human resources because at the present time we are going through one of the greatest reductions
in staffing within the Department of Education around the province in the school boards through the very
generous and very popular, I will add, provincial government early retirement plan that this government
adopted.



[1:30 p.m.]



There are many teachers with a lot of valuable information who have chosen to take early retirement
and we don’t know yet how many are actually going to take it, which subjects they are going to take. Certainly,
there is nobody, there is no person that is indispensable but when we are going to lose the most senior
teaching staff from around the province, that is something that must be taken into consideration as well
because all of the teachers that the early retirement plan are going to eliminate are not teachers that were just
putting in time. The vast majority of the teachers that are taking early retirement were making a tremendous
contribution to the youngsters.



MR. SPEAKER: I hesitate to interrupt the honourable member but I want to make some observations
of the character of this debate. What we are dealing with here is second reading of an amendment to an
existing Statute, not a new School Boards Act. The amendment deals only with a single section of the the
School Boards Act and calls for the addition of Clause 8A to the existing law. The “Bill authorizes the
Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Education and Culture, to amalgamate school
boards.”, reads the explanatory note.



Now that is the proposition that is before the House for debate. A great deal of extraneous matter has
been dealt with in these debates including the minister’s White Paper on Education, teachers’ retirement
options, the meaning of the word reform, and other matters that have absolutely nothing to do with the bill
before the House.



Reading here in Sir Erskine May, I find under the heading of, “Offences and the appropriate methods
of dealing with them . . .”, the first and primary offence that Sir Erskine May notes in Parliamentary debates
is that of “irrelevance or tedious repetition;”. Sir Erskine May states that, “If any Member wanders from the
question under discussion, . . .”, it is the duty of the Speaker to “. . . interrupt him and remind him that he
must speak to the question. If a Member persists in irrelevance or tedious repetition either of his own
arguments, or of the arguments used by other Members . . .”, previously in the debate, the Standing Orders
of the House of Commons empower “. . . the Speaker, after calling the attention of the House to the Member’s
conduct, to direct him to discontinue his speech.”.



Now that is what Sir Erskine May says about this matter which we are constantly dealing with, it
seems here in the House to me, of irrelevance and tedious repetition and debate that is not sharp, that is not
focused, that is not addressed to the question before the House but is wandering all over the globe. I want to
ask for remarks that are sharp and focused and directed to the specific amendment that the School Boards Act
be amended by adding thereto Clause 8A as outlined in the bill and nothing else, please.



The honourable member for Kings North has the floor.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I always appreciate your interjections and
your suggestions from Erskine May on how we perform ourselves in the House and I guess you are the most
senior member of the House having been elected since 1970 successfully, and I want to congratulate you.



MR. SPEAKER: All that is irrelevant to the bill.



MR. ARCHIBALD: It may be irrelevant but I think it is right on. Certainly, with all your years of
experience in the House, you hardly need such an expert as Erskine May. You certainly know the rules of
debate yourself very well and I think you used them to your advantage over the years very well, so I do respect
the words of the Speaker and Erskine May and all those other great folks that you read about and quote to us
about and I will stick with, Clause 1 Section 8A(1) “(a) amalgamate school board with any other school board;
(b) annex the whole or any part of a school district . . .”, one to another.



It is very plain and it is very clear because when you start talking about amalgamating school boards
with other school boards, with amalgamating and annexing the whole with one and the other you are not on
a very consistently narrow pinpointed discussion because this whole bill is premised apparently on the White
Paper that the minister has brought in and the White Paper can function only by bringing forth this bill that
will empower, give the power to the minister, that no Minister of the Crown ever had before, to bring sections
of Nova Scotia together. Whether they want to be together or whether they don’t want to be together is of
absolutely no concern to the minister. I think it is up to us, Mr. Speaker, to make sure that the minister knows
the views of Nova Scotians and what they really feel about his amalgamation program.



When you are speaking of amalgamation, the teachers are frowning upon it. The ones from the
Cumberland District School Board say they don’t like this piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker. How can it
become any more pointed and any more clear than that? The Cumberland District School Board teachers said
they don’t like it. “`The economies . . . that are the driving force behind board amalgamation have already
been achieved . . .’” - that is what they are saying in Cumberland County - “. . . the Nova Scotia Teachers
Union said this week. `We see very little, if any, fiscal or educational gains to be achieved by school board
amalgamation.’”. That is what the people are telling us about this bill. They don’t like this bill. I would not
be doing my duty as an elected member for the Legislature if I didn’t bring forth the views and explained to
you and to the members of this Legislature exactly what the people are telling us.



Now, I know that Erskine May, if he were here, that is what he would want us to do, to talk about
this bill, just the way you told us he would want us to talk. He wouldn’t want any confusion and he wouldn’t
want any wandering around. I know that when I mentioned that labour bill that we talked about, I was off-track, but I am right on track now, because the Colchester-East Hants District School Board had something
else to say about it, this bill, exactly this bill.



This minister, Mr. Speaker, cut $1 million from their budget last year and do you know what he did
last week? He cut another $0.5 million from it. That is what the Colchester-East Hants people are trying to
fight, a reduction of $513,000 last week and $1 million last fall. That is $1.5 million and what could be closer
to this bill than the suggestions from the people in the Colchester-East Hants District School Board.



Now, I know that there are - what do they call it - another unexpected MacEachern whammy, they
called it. Now, I wouldn’t say that in this House unless I was quoting the district school . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: You just did.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, I didn’t, they did. They are indicating that their school board is down to
a bare-bones operation and it is going to be very difficult for them to continue with this additional $500,000
reduction, Mr. Speaker. So, I would like to know what the minister really has in mind with this bill? When
you have a bill like this, generally, you get some idea. I know all the bills that go through the Legislature and
all the amendments have regulations to follow, but when you have a bill as broad as this, I am not sure you
can make regulations to keep up with it.



When you give the power to the minister to amalgamate boards, we could wind up in this province
with one school board, Mr. Speaker, only one, because the minister can amalgamate the board with any other
board. He can amalgamate the whole works together and when he wants to have a school board meeting, he
could have half a dozen members and they could all sit around the table in his office. This bill doesn’t say that
he won’t do that; he doesn’t say he will do that either. He said he wouldn’t do that but that is the same guy that
is part of a government that said they wouldn’t raise taxes. You know what I mean? He said he wouldn’t do
it but did he have his fingers crossed and did he really mean it? This bill gives him the power to amalgamate
boards into one for the entire province, maybe one in Cape Breton and one on the mainland. This is what the
people are saying and they are not happy.



To report from the suggestions, from reading the school board or from the Teachers Union - the
minister has those reports - did he totally disregard them when he brought in this legislation? What was the
minister thinking about when he said, I need the power, and when he convinced his Cabinet colleagues and
his caucus colleagues that he needed the absolute power to amalgamate school boards willy-nilly at his will.
It does not say anywhere that it is going to be based on any scientific or financial or - it does not tell us how
he is going to decide.



He told us he is going to have five or seven boards in the province, or maybe something different
depending upon what people tell me that I want to hear. Well, thanks a lot, but that assurance does not do it
for the Nova Scotia school boards, it does not do it for the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, nor the home and
school association nor the educators association. There isn’t anybody in this entire province that has come
forth and said, I think I trust the minister’s judgment completely and I want him to make the decision all by
himself in his little office. Then he is going to come over to Cabinet, in their office, and they are going to
ratify the decision that he has made. Is this fair? Is it what we were told? Is it what we expected?



You know, when you are providing government, you are supposed to provide what the people are
asking you for. You have to come ahead and you have to deliver the goods. This is delivery day. You had your
election two years ago, now it is delivery day. Nobody in Nova Scotia expected a delivery day like this.
Nobody expected the school boards were going to be thrilled (Interruption) Pardon? I couldn’t hear.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, now. Come on. If the honourable member for Cape Breton South wishes to
ask a question, perhaps he can get up and ask a question.



MR. ARCHIBALD: No, I guess he won’t get up. I am disappointed. Mr. Speaker, I think it is much
better now that I am staying on to the point specifically, because this is exactly what the people are telling me.
I bet that is exactly what they are telling you too. Your school board must be made up of the same types of
people as mine. They are people with a concern for the children and a concern for the future of this province
and they are saying, what in the dickens is the minister going to try to do next? It is not, what are we going
to do next working like a unit, that is not the feeling they have. The school boards are over here and the
minister is over here all by himself, talking in riddles and putting out these papers that do not really give you
the bare bones. So, what are the people supposed to think, what are the school boards, what are the teachers,
what are we as legislators going through this legislation? In a day or so we are going to start doing his budget
and there are more questions than there are answers.



This bill should be withdrawn by the minister and it should come back with some specific
recommendations, it should be understandable, it should be readable. This minister, I know, as an educator
and as a Cape Bretoner, there is one thing that he is interested in and that is the betterment of youth in Nova
Scotia. I think that is not something that we would argue, that the minister does not have the best interests
of Nova Scotia children at heart. But he will not always be the Minister of Education. In a couple of years time
somebody else may be Minister of Education who is not nearly as understanding and as dedicated as he is,
and he is going to have a peek at this legislation and say, I guess I am going to have a little go at this myself.
He may be the man that says, we’re just having one school board. You see, this is what this bill brings forth.
It brings forth the opportunity for future abuse by a future minister.



Now we would not suggest for a minute that this minister has anything but this plan ahead of him,
to have two or three or four or half a dozen school boards, whatever he wants, but you see, a future minister
has not made that commitment. We do not even know for sure he is going to be the Minister of Education two
months from now. After the July vote comes to pass, there may be a Cabinet shuffle. He may be Minister for
the Economic Development Agency, he may be Minister of Labour, you don’t know (Interruption) And the
honourable member for Hants East may be, in fact, in Cabinet himself. His dreams would be fulfilled. You
see, this could be exactly what a minister at a future day may just - it would be hard to imagine a more
dictatorial government than the one we are facing now, but one may come down the pipes, Madam Speaker.
One may come down the pipes and if it does, legislation like this gives them all power to the minister.



This is not right. I cannot support this bill and I urge the other members of the House to look at the
bill and read it and understand it. I do not believe for one second that members of this Legislature can support
a bill that puts power in the Minister of Education like this one does. This is not the kind of bill that a
government that is thinking of democracy would even bring in. This bill should not be tolerated by the caucus,
it certainly will not be tolerated by this Opposition.



[1:45 p.m.]



We are going to be voting against this bill because we do not believe for even one minute that any
Minister of the Crown should have powers given to him like this. This is absolute power and it isn’t fair, it
is isn’t right and it is certainly not what the people in Nova Scotia elected this government to do in 1993. This
government has reneged on every single promise they made in 1993 and when they ran out of promises to
break, then they started coming up with ideas like this, to make people even more cross at them and realize
that this government is nothing more than a dictatorship run by a bunch of autocrats. This is not what the
people of Nova Scotia wanted.



Mr. Speaker, I cannot support this bill but I cannot allow (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: One minute remaining.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, the time for my discussion apparently is over.



AN HON. MEMBER: Well we should give another 10 minutes.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, by unanimous consent, I could go on. (Interruption) But, Mr. Speaker, I
do want to indicate that I think the members of this House should each read the bill, understand the
ramifications of this amendment and vote it down.



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I intend to take only a few moments. I do want to comment
on Bill No. 5, An Act to Amend the School Boards Act. I had the pleasure of attending a meeting the
honourable Minister of Education hosted up in Truro at the Cobequid Educational Centre. It was on Education
Horizons, the White Paper on restructuring the education system. It was a very orderly, well-conducted
meeting, everybody seemed to be in a quite collegial frame of mind.



I believe, regardless of what the minister says, this particular booklet, at least a component, the White
Paper on School Boards, that component of the White Paper is, in fact, the genesis of this bill and the catalyst
of this bill. I don’t think the minister can deny that, despite his feeble protestations, there is no question about
it that the restructuring of the schools boards, that component is what is behind this bill.



Now the minister told us up in Truro that any decisions reflecting school boards would be done by
consensus. Now I have to ask the minister, what consensus does he have at this stage? I thought he was
working towards achieving a consensus but at this stage I don’t believe he has the consensus of the school
boards. In fact, at the meeting in Truro, Mr. Whelan, the Superintendent for Colchester-East Hants, stated
that for the most part, he felt and I agree and I think the minister agrees, that particular board works in a very
effective and efficient manner. They trim the fat, they provide a very good curriculum, there is no fat in terms
of maintenance, there is no fat in terms of the busing service. It is a school board that works very effectively.



Now Halifax County-Bedford School Board also works very effectively, so we do have some concerns.
The bill that the minister tabled does give the minister carte blanche approval, no question about it. The
minister can, carte blanche, carve up the school boards any way he pleases. I feel it is wrong.



Now, upon further observation of the bill, Mr. Speaker, one can clearly note that Benito Mussolini
would very much be pleased with a bill like this.



MR. SPEAKER: Well now I don’t want to get into Benito. Benito is finito. Let’s get on to the bill and
away from the life of Mussolini.



MR. TAYLOR: We are talking about absolute power, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: We are talking about Bill No. 5.



MR. TAYLOR: Yes, but Bill No. 5 gives the Minister of Education absolute power, any way you cut
it, Mr. Speaker. I was just simply denoting an infamous member of the past, how pleased he would be, and
that individual was a dictator. That dictator was the founder of Fascism but I promise to get away from Benito
Mussolini.



Nonetheless, the Minister of Education promised the audience up in Truro that any decision
reflecting school boards would be made by consensus. But here we are today with a bill before us which gives
the minister the absolute power to reduce the number of school boards from 22 to whatever number he
determines to be appropriate. Now I am not sure if there is something in the charter that limits the number
of school boards, across the province. Maybe he can come down from 22 school boards to four school boards
or maybe he can only come to one school board. I am sure that something in the charter would regulate that.
But we do have some very serious concerns about this.



The minister indicated, actually at the meeting up in Truro, to the public, that he never told us that
he would introduce an amendment to the School Boards Act that would give him this power that he certainly
will attain if this comes into existence. So I find it to be unreasonable and quite frightening that the minister
would come forward with something like this. I do commend him for restructuring the education system and
how it is delivered across the province. I commend the minister. But I am concerned nonetheless that the
minister is coming in with a bill that is without the consensus of the people. I am not quite sure if we all
understand what the ramifications of this bill are going to be. I am not quite sure we do.



Mr. Speaker, with those very few words, I will not be supporting this bill. I await the comments from
the next honourable member.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to make some remarks on
Bill No. 5. I am not sure whether my voice is going to last for as long as I would wish to speak.



Mr. Speaker, I regret the fact that I have been absent from the Chamber during much of this week
because of illness so I have not had the full benefit of following the debate. Although being home sick, now
that we have video Hansard, means that if one is really desperate, one can turn on the TV and actually follow
the debate that one is missing. For some of the hours that I have been out of the Chamber, sick, I actually
resorted to doing that so I have tried to follow some of the debate.



In any case, Mr. Speaker, my comments come from a number of sources, having caucused this bill
and considered the ramifications of this bill with my caucus colleagues. It won’t surprise you to know that I,
too, will be voting against this bill in its current form because I think it is just simply wrong in a number of
respects. In addition to that, I have had the opportunity of attending one of the public meetings that the
Minister of Education held here in the metropolitan area to address his White Paper, Education Horizons, and
to consult with the so-called stakeholders in the educational system.



Certainly I am very well aware of what many of the concerns are from that meeting of stakeholders
in the metropolitan area, but also have had the benefit of a full and detailed report back from my Leader, the
member for Sackville-Cobequid, who actually attended, I believe, five in total of the meetings across the
province because it is very important to recognize that the implications of school board amalgamation are not
felt evenly. There are different circumstances, obviously, different population numbers, different geography
and different financial implications in the proposed amalgamation. It is important to be sensitive to what they
are, not just in one’s own riding or one’s own county but in the province as well.



Finally, I would indicate that I also had the opportunity to meet with the members or a significant
number, not the full school board but a significant number of the members of the Halifax District School
Board, who have taken it upon themselves to make known what their views are on the bill. I think it is fair
to say they have been working earnestly through at least two other forums to try to not just put forward their
objections to the manner in which this bill is proceeding but more importantly, I think, to put forward
constructive alternatives and that is in their effort to work together with the school boards in Dartmouth and
in Halifax County, to try to come up with an alternative to what currently seems to be the minister’s thinking
on this matter.



In fairness to the minister, I understand that he had indicated that he was more than prepared to
entertain alternatives because it seems so obvious, both on the face of it and when one examines in detail what
the implications would be of amalgamating the entire metropolitan area into one school board, that is just
simply too large, too populous, too unwieldy, too spread out. Surely, there must be an alternative. I want to
say I appreciate not just the opportunity to meet with the Halifax District School Board but also the
conscientious efforts that they have been making to work with their neighbouring school boards to try to arrive
at a consensus for how the amalgamation might better serve the students in the Halifax-Dartmouth
metropolitan area.



That is what this exercise ought to be about although from time to time people understandably
question whether this exercise has very much to do with the students’ ultimate educational experience and
with the quality of education and rather seems very much driven by budget considerations more than any other
single thing.



Finally, I am not as familiar with the efforts that have been made but I do understand as well that
the Halifax District School Board representatives have been part of the province-wide effort to work through
the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, to also come back with a detailed version and perhaps an
alternate vision of what the amalgamation might achieve if it were done in a manner that was more sensitive
to the different needs and perspectives of all of the different regions and school boards affected and ultimately
all of the students affected right across the province.



Mr. Speaker, I said at the outset that I would not be voting in favour of the bill that is now before us.
I want to briefly indicate that there are really four reasons why I feel unable to support the bill in its current
form. None of these are original points or any kind of new revelations. I think in a variety of different ways
people have registered their objection on all of these points.



The first is that I think it is just simply ill-advised and ill-conceived to bring in a bill which just gives
such totally unfettered powers to any minister on any subject. It just doesn’t make sense, it seems to me, to
bring in a bill that really amounts to carte blanche to say to the minister, we know that you have indicated that
your intention is not to stray widely from what you have set out in your White Paper. It is nonetheless the case
that this bill just simply gives the power to the minister to pretty well do whatever he might wish to do with
respect to a complete reconfiguration of the school boards in this province.



[2:00 p.m.]



I don’t think that it should surprise the minister that there is a good deal of resistance to participating
in such a legislative initiative. It seems to me the whole point of our having a legislative process, the whole
point of not just saying, well, all legislation can be written by the Cabinet and dispatched out of the Cabinet
Room is to bring legislation before the House so that both government members and Opposition members
could carefully scrutinize what the details of this bill are and have an opportunity to shape the decisions and
the implications that will flow from it.



What we have here is a situation where the minister basically is being asked to just be given a
complete free hand to do whatever he might want to do. Although he is indicating that he doesn’t intend to
do anything dramatically different from what he has previously discussed in his White Paper it seems to me
that it is nevertheless ill-advised to pass through this Legislative Assembly a piece of legislation that is so
absolutely lacking in details, that is so imprecise that really one could not responsibly analyze in order to
determine whether the implications of this bill are supportable or not. How can one possibly calculate what
the effects of this bill are on a given student population, on a given school board budget, on a given
municipality let alone the overall impact on the quality of education in this province when the bill itself is
almost totally devoid of any details whatsoever?



So, what it really says is, trust me to do what I think is in the best interests of the educational
population in this province, the students themselves, the educators, school board members and the public at
large who quite properly have a stake in the education system and the success of the education system whether
they happen to have children in the system or not. I don’t see how the legislative process can mean anything
if the legislation is so completely devoid of any details.



Perhaps the minister thinks it is satisfactory to say, well, just go and read the White Paper and then
somehow all members of this House of Assembly, 51 members should familiarize themselves with what the
various discussions, debates, dialogues, submissions have been at a variety of public meetings and then try
to somehow imagine that if the minister chooses to do ABC that here is how people will feel about it. If the
minister chooses instead to do XYZ then here is what the implications will be and imagine as many different
scenarios as you can and in the end throw up your hands and say but since the bill doesn’t tell me at all what
the minister is going to do, I can’t possibly make any kind of informed responsible assessment so I will just
vote for it anyway. I don’t understand what the minister’s response is to those objections that are being raised.



Mr. Speaker, in principle, I have difficulty with even being asked to do that with a piece of legislation
because it just doesn’t commend itself, it seems to me, to a process of members on either side of the House,
government side or Opposition side taking responsibility for what the implications are of a particular bill.
Let’s be honest about it, we don’t have a sweet clue what the implications of this legislation might be because
it gives the minister the right to do absolutely whatever he may decide to do.



Legislation, according to the trust me formula, just really isn’t, I think, likely to find too much favour
these days with the public of Nova Scotia. I know it certainly doesn’t find favour with my caucus.



Mr. Speaker, even if we could be persuaded that we are confident that the Minister of Education has
listened carefully to the stakeholders, that the Minister of Education would not, under any circumstances,
bring about an amalgamation that is not designed to maximize the educational advantages to the students of
Nova Scotia and to ensure that there is the best possible governance structure in place, in the form of new
school boards, in terms of their size, their mandate, their scope and so on.



I think there can be a second argument made against this legislation with which we are being
presented, that is the argument, frankly, that even if you can trust the minister on this one, even if you could
be persuaded that the minister knows exactly what he is doing and even though he won’t tell the rest of us that
in the end all wisdom will prevail and he will do the most responsible thing, surely there can be an argument
made that it is really not a good precedent to have us passing legislation in this House which is, essentially,
just a blank cheque, which is essentially saying well, a minister can do whatever she or he wants in a given
area of public policy and we will just sort of take our chances.



I feel, as a member of this Legislature, that I have to take more responsibility for what I do in this
House and if I am going to vote for something, I have to fully know and understand what the implications of
it are.



Now I may be dead wrong, in terms of the position I take. I may not be accurately reading either what
is in the public interest or what, in fact, is the predominant public view. Certainly on many occasions I have
seen fit to vote on a piece of legislation, even though I knew it was a minority point of view, and not just a
minority point of view in the province but in my own constituency. I have on numerous occasions voted on
a particular bill, knowing that in fact my particular perspective on that piece of legislation might be very much
in the minority, that the majority of my constituents would not even agree with the vote that I had cast, but
I did so because my own analysis, to the best of my ability to bring to bear the information that was available
to me to analyze it in the light of my own experience, to put it through a process of trying to measure it against
certain very important principles that I feel I must be accountable for, that led me to adopt a minority
viewpoint and leave it to my constituents to judge whether that was sufficient to turf me out of office or to
severely chastise me or whatever.



I have appreciated the fact that my constituents have often said, I don’t agree with the decision you
made, I disagreed with the way you cast your vote on that issue but I accept that you did it in a conscientious
way and having tried to bring to bear the information available to you and your own experience in that matter.



In regard to such a bill as the one before us, I don’t know how I would account for casting a vote in
favour of this bill if I were grilled by parents of children in the current education system because I am being
asked to vote for this bill, not having any idea. Now the minister may say, well, there isn’t a vast range of
options of what I will do but I really have no way of knowing, when I vote for this bill, whether, for example,
the constituents in my riding, the children in the school area that I represent, are going to have their interests
in the future represented by a school board that is the same size as the current one, is double the size, is triple
the size. The minister himself has acknowledged that there is not at this point a clear indication of which way
this is going to go. So I can’t be responsible or accountable for my action in voting for a bill that is such a
blank slate. For that reason, I am just not prepared to do it. I would rather be accountable for making the
wrong decision than casting a vote for something, knowing perfectly well that I didn’t have the slightest idea
what the implications were going to be of the vote that I cast.



The third reason that I am unable to support this bill in its current form is that I think what is
happening here is simply wrong in terms of process. I want to say before I outline my objections to the process
that is going on here with respect to the proposed amalgamation of school boards, that I do not accept the
criticism of those members who would take the view that anyone who offers criticism, anyone who has
difficulty with the manner in which this government is going about educational reform, is therefore resistant
to change, is therefore just simply an apologist for the status quo.



I think all too often that is what happens when one rises here in a legislative debate to say, I cannot
in good faith and in good conscience support this legislation because it is not sufficiently detailed and there
is no way to be held accountable for it. One hears in response from government members and from the
minister himself, oh, you are just obviously resistant to educational reform, you are happy with the way things
are and you are going to be responsible and guilty for all the sins and woes of the educational system because
you are resisting the necessary change that has to take place.



Let me say very clearly and without reservations that we do need reforms in our educational system,
there is no question about it. You could not go to a single home and school meeting and certainly could not
attend the kind of educational forums that have been held around the whole issue of educational reform,
including the minister’s whirlwind tour across the province, without understanding very clearly that there are
many changes needed in our educational system. There is no question about it.



I know of very few people who would strenuously argue for the status quo. But that doesn’t mean,
automatically, perforce, that precisely what the minister and the minister alone wants to do and decides to do
in the end, is worthy of endorsement. We don’t even know what the minister is going to do.



I think it has to be said that many people who are desperate for educational reform are not persuaded,
for example, that collapsing into one school board, all of the schools in the Halifax-Dartmouth metropolitan
area, I believe there are 147 of them, to bring together under the umbrella of one school board that vast a
geographic area and that large a student population, is not necessarily reform, if one defines reform as making
improvements in the system, if one defines reform - as the dictionary does, I don’t care what dictionary you
consult - as making the situation better, improving the conditions, removing some of the existing flaws or
barriers.



There is nothing that leads automatically to the conclusion that creating a mega-school board for all
of the metropolitan area is going to make for improvements in the successes of the educational system. In fact,
I think it somewhat ignores the experience from elsewhere. I think what it fails to recognize is that when you
reach a school board of a certain size, it begins to be too remote from the population that it serves. Now I do
not know what the magic number is, Mr. Speaker, and I do not think any of us do; it is not an absolute and
let’s not pretend it is. I know that the argument will be made, well, look, you go to the bigger provinces, you
go to the more populous centres and they have school boards that are much larger than that, they are immense.
I know that that is true, but I think, to state the obvious, that if the people of this province wanted to live in
much more heavily populated areas, in much more dense urban centres, then they would chose to go and live
there.



[2:15 p.m.]



I think that one of the things that Nova Scotians, and I am one of them, have always prized is the
fact that we are able to do things on a less massive scale - I don’t know if that is a double negative or not - that
we are able to have, whether it is our school board officials, whether it is our city councillors or town
councillors, whether it is our MLAs, not so far removed from people. It is not just a matter of geographic, it
is a matter of what the span, the actual scope of one’s responsibility is. I think a reasonable case has been made
and can be made. Going back to the previous government, the decision was made to reduce the much larger
number of school boards to the existing 22. I do think there was massive resistance to that. I think there was
the recognition that at a certain point there can be too much duplication of administrative effort and that,
particularly at a time when budgets are under such severe restraint, it is not smart to have a severe duplication
of some of the administrative services. So, there can very well be a case made for there being a smaller
number of boards.



As far as I am aware, none of those who have involved themselves in much greater depth, because
they are much more directly affected by it than I am or perhaps than any of us are, have not strenuously
argued against reducing the number of school boards somewhat from the existing 22, but I think that there
is a great deal of opposition to the idea of collapsing the number of school boards down to as few as 5 or 7.
In school boards that that will create, in terms of both population numbers and geographic spread, it is larger
than is really felt to be optimal, than is felt to be desirable by a great many people.



I am not going to try to speak in any kind of detail about the rural boards because I do not have the
personal experience with those rural boards, except to say that I do find the minister’s constant urging that
if there were any possibility of a delay in this process of amalgamating the boards, those of us who would have
created or pressed for a delay would be guilty of causing the bankruptcy, the complete insolvency, of a number
of rural boards.



Now, Mr. Speaker, I do not think anybody seriously believes that. I don’t believe that the minister
believes that, because he knows otherwise. He knows that if there is a short-term financial crunch in some of
those smaller boards, I know Guysborough has been referred to perhaps the most frequently, but there are
others that are in severe financial distress that bringing in a bill, a blank cheque, carte blanche bill to just give
the minister free rein to amalgamate all the school boards of the province in whatever way he sees fit is not
the only response that one could make to some school boards that are in financial distress. There have been
school boards in financial distress in the past, there have been municipalities facing severe financial straits
in the past and that hasn’t meant that there has to be a carte blanche piece of legislation brought in to let the
minister do whatever he or she might want, to deal with that circumstance.



The minister knows perfectly well that it is a sort of false accusation that really sounds quite silly
when he stands up here as he did - I listened to him at home on video Hansard - and says, if anybody causes
a delay in this then you are going to be responsible for the terrible situation that you have put the Guysborough
school boards in and others. Well, the minister knows that he can act to deal with those emergencies in ways
other than being required to be given complete carte blanche legislatively to rearrange the school boards of
this province any way that he should see fit in his wisdom.



I do want to say though about the amalgamation of the school boards in the metropolitan area that
I am persuaded by all of the arguments that I have heard at the public meeting where the minister was in
attendance and I think that meeting went on for about four and one-half hours, I know I was there until the
bitter end and I think it was well over four hours, in a meeting with the Halifax District School Board
members themselves in talking with a lot of educators as well as parents who are themselves very much
attuned to educational issues. I am persuaded by the arguments against collapsing all of the school boards in
the Halifax-Dartmouth metropolitan area into one single board. I think it is just simply too big and too
unwieldy, I think you can say that in terms of the effect that it will have on the operation of that one mega-board itself. But, I would also say that I don’t think it is advisable to create such a massive board in the context
of the school boards of this province because I think it creates a sort of monster board in comparison to or in
contrast to all of the other boards.



I think we already know that there are a number of different ways in which there tend to be certain
urban/rural tensions in this province. I think there are politicians in this province who have literally made
careers out of sort of pitting one end of the province against the other or one rural part against the urban part
and so on. I think that there is every argument against our taking measures that will exacerbate those kinds
of strains and tensions. It is my belief, based on a good deal of argumentation that I have heard from a lot of
different people, that to give the minister carte blanche which this bill would do to just simply crunch all of
the school boards in the metropolitan area into one mega-school board is not a sound thing to do.



I know the minister has said well, he is not necessarily going to do that. But, I guess that brings me
to my final basis for objection to the bill and that really is the issue of process. I think the minister can see
quite clearly that people are not just registering their objections to what has been proposed in the Education
Horizons paper, what people have done in response to the proposals put forward by the minister is make their
objections known that they have gone beyond that. They have said we are not interested in resisting change
for the sake of resisting change. We are not interested in obstructing or opposing just to be oppositional about
it, we are genuinely concerned in how to maximize the reform of the educational system. We are genuinely
committed to trying to help shape the decisions that will be taken in the process of reforming the governance
structures, as well as reforming a whole variety of other policies affecting education in this province. They
have gone about doing that. They have been holding meetings and consulting and talking across school board
boundaries on a regional basis, on a province-wide basis and so on.



I think for the minister to short-circuit that process, for the minister to say, sorry, your time is up,
you haven’t come up with all the answers, therefore we are going to bring in this bill that gives me a complete
free hand to do whatever I see fit, is essentially not only an insult to all of those stakeholders in the education
system who are committed to trying to help find the best possible answers but I think it is also essentially
undemocratic. I don’t see under what circumstance, not in this province or in any jurisdiction that pretends
that it operates on democratic principles, in which it would be better to bring in a bill overriding the
participation of people affected, instead of working to try to achieve the optimal kinds of solutions, formulae,
in this case boundaries, that will get the job done and make sure that that is accurately reflected in the
legislation that is enacted.



I have not heard the minister explain, other than the sort of threat and, I think, the quite
unconvincing argument that to delay the passage of this bill in its current inadequate form would somehow
make us responsible for the financial woes of Guysborough and a couple of other rural school boards that are
admittedly having a very difficult time. But other than that unconvincing argument, I have not heard the
minister explain in any way how it is sound public policy-making to pass a bill that essentially is a blank slate
and why it is that seeing this process through is not the better way to go.



The minister himself knows that he brought in that White Paper, took a long time to get it prepared,
a very short time to circulate it and start holding public meetings, I think a period of some seven weeks, if I
am not mistaken. Surely it cannot be argued that decisions as important and as long-lasting, with as much
implications and impact as they will have with respect to the complete restructuring of our school boards in
this province, have to be made within a very tight timetable. It is not a sound approach to this problem to
collapse that into a tight timetable. Because of its very nature, the democratic process takes a certain amount
of time. Unless you are buying into the idea that we are better served by a system where government members
elected to govern should just simply deem these things, should dictate these things, should impose these
things, it surely is not unreasonable to argue that a proper amount of time should be allowed to permit all of
those affected by these changes to come back with constructive counter-proposals, which is what they are
doing.



To my knowledge, the minister has not even seen fit to respond to those counter-proposals. Instead
it seems as though he and his government prefer to say, we don’t have to be bothered by any of that, sure we
might take it into account, we might not, we know best, in our wisdom, we are going to just simply dictate
how this is going to be done, and by the way, would you members of the Opposition mind giving us a
complete blank slate in the form of passing a piece of legislation that simply doesn’t spell out any of the
specifics, any of the details and doesn’t allow for analysing any of the implications.



[2:30 p.m.]



So, Madam Speaker, those are my four reasons for opposing this legislation in its current form. I
think, in the final analysis, one of the things that bothers me a great deal is that what people are desperately
looking for is improvements in the quality of education in this province. Yet, to a very disappointing degree,
if you look at the minister’s White Paper on Educational Reform, if you follow the discussions that that White
Paper has generated, the preoccupation, the major focus of very much of this debate has been on the financial
implications, the financial considerations.



Sure the case can be made that we shouldn’t be wasting money if it is being wasted in regard to
certain administrative duplications. Certainly the case could be made that in the instance of being able to
perhaps do more cost-effective purchasing and so on, that perhaps larger administrative units should be given
careful consideration. But I think, to some extent, Madam Speaker, the most disappointing thing is that there
has yet to be very much focus on what the things are that really do beg for reform in our educational system.
I think most people - I do not know what the percentage would be - I would guess that at least 95 per cent of
the people of this province would say that reconfiguring the school boards just doesn’t do it. Redefining the
boundaries for our school boards just doesn’t really get at what is needed.



In that sense, Madam Speaker, I think it is understandable that people would say I don’t think the
minister quite gets it, I think the minister doesn’t really get the point. He seems to miss the point when he
comes to these community meetings where people really do want to talk about the need for changes in our
education system and mostly all he wants to talk about is how collapsing certain boundaries is going to save
$11 million. Well, I don’t think very many people are persuaded that even the saving of that $11 million is
necessarily guaranteed. But even if the $11 million can clearly be shown as a savings from the amalgamation
of boards as the minister has envisioned it, I think we have barely begun the process of educational reform
that this system desperately needs.



So, Madam Speaker, for those reasons and others which I am sure we will have a chance to debate
further, as I indicated at the outset, I will not be voting for Bill No. 5 in its current form.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.



DR. JOHN HAMM: I am pleased to rise for a few moments and speak to Bill No. 5, An Act to
Amend Chapter 6 of the Acts of 1991, the School Boards Act. I welcome the opportunity because like all
members in this place, I realize the very important role that education plays in this province and that
education of our young people plays in all regions and the regions that we represent.



The Minister of Education has been providing a lot of material regarding his particular view of a
reformed educational delivery system in this province. I have, while it is not my particular duty as I am not
Education Critic, watched with considerable interest the statements and the ideas that the minister is bringing
forth.



When we were provided with the document, Education Horizons, which described very clearly a
revised system of the delivery, at least at the administrative level, of education in this province, one was
certainly expecting a different kind of legislation than appeared before us here the other day. All of us are
aware of what a tremendously important subject this is and we are all aware of the emotional aspects that a
controversial change in education can evoke from people.



I remember very clearly in the days leading up to the provincial election in May 1993, the very
emotional issue that occurred in the Towns of Trenton and New Glasgow when it was threatened that the
young people in the elementary grades of Trenton would be bused to New Glasgow for their education. This
particular topic on many occasions overshadowed many other aspects of the provincial election locally at that
time. It certainly impressed upon me how very seriously people take changes in the educational programs for
children, particularly if there is no obvious benefit.



I was particularly distressed when, after all of the information that was put before us, that the kind
of legislation that appeared in the form of Bill No. 5 is characterized by a singular lack of detail. The question
that this legislation asks is, should the structure for the administration and provision of education in the
province at the local level be the purview of this House. Well, I submit that it is. A piece of legislation which
merely gives the minister the power to alter and amalgamate school boards across this province without any
input from the floor of this House should not be acceptable to any MLA in this place. This particular piece
of legislation establishes the minister as an educational despot in the Province of Nova Scotia.



The kinds of topics that I would like to have the opportunity to debate with the introduction of
legislation, particularly in relation to educational reform in this province are subjects like, will the
administrative savings be $6 million? Will effective regional management with amalgamation of school
boards save $5 million? This particular legislation does not give the opportunity to allow us to enter into that
kind of meaningful debate. Will this just be another opportunity for change for the sake of change and if there
are true savings, why not bring them forward to the floor of this House for analysis?



I would like the opportunity with the introduction of this bill to debate the boundaries of the proposed
new school boards. Certainly, the situation with which I am most familiar is the local situation. The document
to which I had earlier referred, Education Horizons, provides two options. Both options, from my point of
view, are unsatisfactory for the Chignecto Central School Board make up. It is extremely important when one
is setting up amalgamated boards, the way it was extremely important when the Minister of Health was setting
up regional health boards, that we look at the cultural and social, educational, travel, recreational and
historical relationships of the communities served by any local board.



I would submit to you, Madam Speaker, that the make up of the Central Chignecto School Board
ignores these particular relationships. I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss that by way of debate in
this House, but the nature of this legislation does not allow that kind of debate because all it says is that at the
minister’s discretion he can set the boundaries for local school boards.



Madam Speaker, no member of this House with any conscience could vote for this tyrannical
approach to the revision of the school board boundaries in this province. This government was committed
before May 1993 to having regular sessions of this House and in fact had committed itself to two sessions of
this House. Now for what reason would members come twice a year and sit in session? It is to discuss, to
analyze and eventually to vote upon (Interruptions) the proposals that the Executive Council would bring
forward. Let us just imagine if the 16 Cabinet Ministers all brought in this kind of legislation which will allow
them to do whatever the spirit moves them to do in between sittings. Well, we could come here and pass those
particular enabling legislations and go home the following day and then return again six months later for the
second session and perhaps have a little debate as to whether or not they had done the right thing.



Well, it is very interesting how attitudes change when one moves from one side of this House to the
other. I make that observation without having the privilege of ever having had the opportunity to do so.



AN HON. MEMBER: Come on over. (Laughter)



DR. HAMM: But I would like to suggest to you, Madam Speaker, that this is not the kind of
legislation that this House should allow to pass. No minister should be given a carte blanche opportunity to
design the educational administrative structure of this province without bringing it to this House for full
analysis and debate and that is what is wrong with this piece of legislation. It does not even allow opportunity
for one to comment on the particular direction that the minister plans to take, because it does not tell that, it
does not lay it out before us.



This province in times past has provided excellent educational opportunities for young people. It is
the expectation of all of us that that can continue, but it should not be the purview of one person to design and
commit this province to a particular plan without bringing it here to this House for a proper review and an
opportunity, perhaps, at the Law Amendments Committee process for people to come and to provide a
grassroots analysis of what the reform is all about. Madam Speaker, this is poor legislation.



Now the minister on an earlier occasion has said, we have school boards, particularly the smaller
school boards, that will in a few short weeks be forced to lay off schoolteachers because in essence they are
financially bankrupt. I do not disagree with the minister’s analysis of that, because obviously with the
restricted ability of government to provide unending resources to school boards, in some areas of the province
the school boards are in financial jeopardy. But if that is the case and if this catastrophe is as imminent as the
minister suggests, then why not a piece of legislation brought forth by that minister, suggesting his solution
to this catastrophe and let us look at it and analyze it and take it to the Law Amendments Committee and then
bring it back to this Legislature for passage. That is how this House was designed to work; that is how the
legislative process that has been in place in this province for some 148 years was designed to operate. This
is a short-circuiting kind of legislation and gives power to the Minister of Education, a power of the
magnitude that no minister should expect to have. For that reason, Madam Speaker, I will be voting against
the legislation. Thank you.



[2:45 p.m.]



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise and speak for a few
moments on this bill, not long to the Minister of Finance, we are agreeable to your suggestion earlier. Madam
Speaker, I don’t want to give you the sense that we are cutting deals on the side or cutting deals on the run
here, but as usual, we are always trying to be cooperative, in terms of the best and most efficient use of this
House’s time and that of the Committee of the Whole House on Supply. I am flushing, I am not blushing.



MADAM SPEAKER: Well, honourable member, whether you are flushing or blushing, I would like
you to restrict yourself to the debate on the bill.



MR. CHISHOLM: Thank you, and I will try, Madam Speaker. I think this piece of legislation is
perhaps reflective of a lot of initiatives that this government has undertaken. It is very straightforward, it just
says, give me, the Minister of Education, complete carte blanche authority to do whatever I want with respect
to the amalgamation of school boards in the Province of Nova Scotia. What could be more clear and simple
and cut and dried than that?



I am sure the Minister of Education and other members of government sit there and say, well, why
would we have problems with that? He is busy trying to reform the education system in the Province of Nova
Scotia, a system that we have all indicated from time to time is in need of refinement and reform. This will
give him the authority to go ahead and do that. He is a good minister, a good fellow and why shouldn’t he be
given that authority?



I think, Madam Speaker, if you look at, and my colleague, the Leader of the NDP, attended eight out
of nine of the public meetings on the White Paper that were held around the province (Interruption) five of
them. What he heard, as did other people and it was reported in the press and so on, but what he heard and
reported back to me was that people, whether they be parents or teachers or school administrators or, to some
extent, students, were unhappy with the process by which this minister and his government were going
forward with education reform. They were clearly presenting a structure and a strategy and a process that had,
at its very core, the saving of money, that was the primary focus and was driving much of the reform process.



People were extremely concerned and raised major issues with that whole approach. It wasn’t a
matter of the fact that people didn’t think there was a need to take a look at the education system in this
province and to look at the better delivery of education and education programs across the province, from one
end to the other, to deal with some of the funding issues that create inequities in the system from one part of
the province to the next. People understand that. In fact, some of the ideas that the minister is throwing
around would be somewhat more acceptable, perhaps, to be discussed and debated if, in fact, there was the
opportunity to do that.



The minister has provided a fairly restrictive timetable. He has really clearly set the parameters of
this reform process, in particular the amalgamation of boards, when he proposes or when he sets out for the
people of Nova Scotia the idea of having four to five schools boards in the Province of Nova Scotia and that
he wants to give people the opportunity to have some debate. It has happened over the past few weeks but
many people don’t feel that has been enough time.



We heard the member for Sackville-Cobequid, the Leader of the NDP, say the other day that at many
of these public meetings held to discuss and get people’s input on the White Paper, it was the first time that
people saw the White Paper, the first time they had to review it and digest it and analyze it and try to come
up with some cogent and constructive analysis and people feel that it is too important.



They don’t understand how the minister could possibly expect to come up with this $11 million in
savings other than by reducing the level of service to the classroom. The reality of the reduction in the number
of boards to four or five is that you are going to have massive boards with responsibility for huge areas of
geography, if not, in some cases, population. These are going to be, in fact, super-boards that will be even less
accessible than some would suggest school boards are now.



In terms of just simply the travel time, the geography that it is going to take for people to attend to
the administrative offices of a school board that takes in the whole of southwestern Nova Scotia, for example;
and as has been suggested in the whole debate around municipal amalgamation. Many jurisdictions in this
world have gone through this whole bigger is better concept. In many jurisdictions, they are reviewing that
and, in fact, some have gone to the point of breaking down those super-boards or super-councils or whatever
into smaller, more representative, more accessible, more accountable levels of administration or governance.



As we have talked about before in this House, what people don’t feel now is that they have good
access to the levels of government that exist now, that governance level - be it school boards or be it municipal
government or provincial government - is, they feel, many people cite this, too far removed from what is
happening on the ground, what is happening in the communities and in the schools. You are not going to deal
with that level of accessibility and accountability by making school boards bigger and by bringing them all
together.



People are asking themselves, of course then, why is it that the government is going forward lickety-split on this plan to reform the system primarily by amalgamating school boards into fewer units. I think it
is fairly clear in listening to the concerns expressed across this province is that people understand that this
whole move is predicated on the basis of saving money. It has nothing to do or very little to do with being able
to provide a higher quality of education, a more equal high level of education to the people of Nova Scotia
from one end of this province to the other because were that the main focus, then we would make sure that
we get it right the first time.



People would suggest, I think, that if we are going to do this, then we take the time to engage in a
proper planning process to identify the goals and objectives that we want to attain in this province through
our education system and that we would come up with a process that would assist us in making that, in
achieving those goals and objectives. But that is not what is happening because of the fact that this
government is on a fast-track, as they are in so many other things, to get the job done. In their haste, people
are concerned that much of the details that will actually affect whether or not reform is going to take place
in an effective and efficient manner is going to be lost, in the drive to try to meet the arbitrary fiscal targets
that have been set by the Minister of Finance and by his colleagues on the Treasury benches.



Madam Speaker, the whole idea of vesting all this authority in the Minister of Education is absolutely
incredible. The Minister of Education and this government, have shown themselves completely capable of
doing whatever it takes to carry forward with implementing a decision of theirs, regardless of what Nova
Scotians, either from one end of the province or the other, or in individual communities, have to say about
it. We have seen it in the casino issue. Nova Scotians are overwhelmingly opposed to the establishment of
casinos and yet this government has run roughshod over the democratic wishes of the people of Nova Scotia,
and implemented that particular strategy.



We see in the question of municipal amalgamation, that regardless of what the people of the
community actually say, regardless of the wishes, the authority and the democratic rights of local politicians
and the local level of administration, this government has decided what is going to happen. They are just
going to run right through everybody else in order to see that that is done, regardless of the Opposition,
regardless of the concerns and regardless of the issues that are brought forward.



So, what can people expect when you give the minister carte blanche authority to go in and throw
boards together? That he will just continue along that road of making arbitrary and autocratic decisions based
on rationale or reasons that he alone understands and agrees with, that are contrary to what people in those
communities affected, contrary to what they think should happen? On top of that and perhaps the most
chilling part of it, is that those decisions primarily will be based on financial matters.



There is no question that the situation with some of the school boards in this province, the
underfunded situation, needs to be addressed. But, do you address that by basically taking away the
opportunity and the ability of people in that region to have a say, to have a direct role in the decision-making
on the delivery of education in their communities? I don’t think so. I don’t think that is the way to do it. I don’t
think that is the way to ensure that people in a community feel that they have an investment in their schools
and in the education system in their communities. You hear lots of talk about the councils, the community
council type structures that are going to be more prevalent now. But what about in those areas where you don’t
have functioning home and school associations, where it is difficult, for socio-economic reasons to encourage
or to get the participation of parents in the system? Does that mean then that, in any given region in this
province, they are not going to be able to have a say in the decisions that are made at a super-school board
that may be hundreds of miles away from their particular community? I do not believe that is the way to solve
the underfunding problem of some of those school boards.



[3:00 p.m.]



The minister indicates time and time again that he does have, at the forefront, his focus of providing
more resources to the classroom, of taking money out of the boardrooms -I think is his expression - and
putting it into the classrooms. Putting more power in the office of the minister is not the way to come up with
accountable and responsible and decentralized decision-making in the education system which will make it,
I believe, more democratic and responsive to local needs. We must provide an education system that is equal
from one end of this province to the other. We must not just provide the minimum levels of education for
people and then allow them to increase their standards if they can afford it. We must ensure that we have a
high quality of education everywhere in this province, regardless of whether or not a particular community
can afford an area rate or supplementary funding to increase the provision of education services in their
particular communities.



What we don’t need in this province, which we see already in some areas, is almost a two-tiered level
of education. We need to reform the education system in order to increase our standards, in order to increase
the scope of the education that we provide to the young people in this province, because that is our future.
That is not going to be done by giving this minister the authority to just go out there and, because a school
board is in financial difficulties, they will shove it in together with an adjacent board or with a school board
hundreds of miles away. That is not the answer.



Look at the proposal, for example, in metro. Look at the idea here of putting together the Halifax
County-Bedford District School Board, the Halifax District School Board and the Dartmouth District School
Board. You are not only toying here with very long histories in terms of those individual municipalities
having responsibility for the delivery of education, of responding to the special characteristics of their
communities, and the need for different or special programs that may not be required in other parts of the
region or of the province and the commitment by the municipal level of government in that community to
respond to those different needs and demands, all of a sudden we are looking at a proposal to lump these
school boards, with their histories, with their different ways of delivering services, into one. I think it is fair
to say that Halifax and Dartmouth are not particularly enamoured with that proposal.



MADAM SPEAKER: Would the honourable member permit an introduction please?



MR. CHISHOLM: Certainly.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.



MR. GERALD FOGARTY: Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for
Halifax Atlantic for allowing me to introduce to you and to all members of the House, the presence in the west
gallery of a prominent member of Halifax City Council, Alderman for Ward 11. I would like you to please
extend the usual warm welcome from members of the House for Mary Ann Crowley. (Applause)



MR. CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I too welcome my alderman for Ward 11.



AN HON. MEMBER: Alderperson.



MR. CHISHOLM: They have made a decision at Halifax City Council to call themselves aldermen.
So there you go. Anyway, welcome. Alderman Crowley is here to participate in the City of Halifax
presentation to the Law Amendments Committee on Bill No. 3. I again thank her and the council for their
participation in that process.



Madam Speaker, I really do not have a whole lot to say about this bill. I just think it is a total abuse
of power, I think that this bill, what it proposes here is absolutely wrong. I think if there is merit to
amalgamate some of the school boards, then let us engage in a process whereby members of the community,
members of the school boards in the municipalities and the citizens have part in the decision about whether
in fact that is going to be done, how it is going to be done, what are the parameters of that amalgamation
going to be. Let’s talk about a piece of legislation like that, that lays out the details in terms of how employees
are going to be handled, what requirements the minister must provide to the members of the community and
to the school boards and to the parents and the teachers and the students in terms of the reasons and the
rationale why he wants to amalgamate any school boards.



This legislation does not provide the requirement for him to do that. He does not have to make any
explanations. He can go to Cabinet and get authority from his colleagues, as the Minister of Finance did with
casinos, completely contrary to the wishes of the people that are going to be affected. That, as far as I am
concerned, is no way to run a government and it is no way to run an education system.



The minister has talked at some length about his consultation process and he has gone out, but he
has gone out on a restricted timetable. People have not received the information and had sufficient time to
digest it. They have not been given the opportunity, Madam Speaker, to make representations on the contents
of those particular proposals, one of them being amalgamation, before the minister comes into this House and
presents a bill which will give himself the complete authority to carry out amalgamation. That is not
democratic, that is not consultation and that is what people in Nova Scotia are saying and have said to this
minister and to members of government, that this is not a real consultation process, this is a process of smoke
and mirrors, it is a sham and people are not being given the opportunity to actually affect the final decision.
That is what it is all about.



You know, it is one thing to come into a community and to tell people what it is you are going to do
and to let people respond, but it is another thing to actually give people an opportunity to analyze, to evaluate
and to make recommendations and then take those recommendations, to sit down and come up with a plan,
some options, and then provide those back to, in other words, respond to the input that people have provided
and then make a decision. I would suggest to you that that is consultation, not the form of consultation the
minister has participated in in the last several weeks and months.



So, Madam Speaker, I, for one, will not be voting in favour of this bill, regardless of whether it is
a matter of voting for it, in order to take it to the Law Amendments Committee or in order to let the people
of Nova Scotia have the opportunity to have some input or not. I don’t think this is a good piece of legislation.
I think that this minister can do better; I think that this government can do better.



If you want to amalgamate, if you want to carry forward with amalgamation, then come up with a
process and put that in legislation. Lay it out to the people how it is that you are going to carry forward with
your intentions, whether that be to amalgamate or not. Put in a process there, don’t just expect us, in this
House, or Nova Scotians, to give you, the Minister of Education, complete power to just do what you want on
a matter that is so critically important to Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the other.



The question here clearly is, what is the intention of this minister. What is the intention of this bill?
I think Nova Scotians are coming to the understanding that this bill is intended to save this government
money, to give the minister authority to just go out and pull those boards that he feels need to be pulled
together, in order to achieve some kind of savings.



We have yet to see evidence of the fact that the reforms the minister is proposing, the reforms the
minister is carrying forward have actually seen the light of day in the classrooms, Madam Speaker. This is
a serious matter, it needs to be dealt with, this whole question of reform. This is not the way to do it and I will
be voting against this legislation.



MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you. I recognize the honourable Minister of Education to close the
debate.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Madam Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 5 so it can go
on to the Law Amendments Committee.



MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 5. There are two requests for a
recorded vote.



Ring the bells.



[3:14 p.m.]



[The Division bells were rung.]



[3:27 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?



[The Clerk calls the roll.]



YEAS NAYS



Mr. Barkhouse Mr. Moody

 

Mrs. Norrie Mr. Holm

 

Dr. Smith Mr. Chisholm

 

Mr. Boudreau Ms. McDonough

 

Mr. Gillis Mr. Archibald

 

Mr. MacEachern Mr. Taylor

 

Mr. Casey Mr. McInnes

 

Mr. Gaudet Dr. Hamm

 

Mr. O’Malley

 

Mr. Adams

 

Mr. Bragg

 

Mr. Rayfuse

 

Mr. Richards

 

Mr. White

 

Mr. Holland

 

Mrs. O’Connor

 

Mr. Mitchell

 

Mr. Carruthers

 

Mr. Fogarty

 

Mr. Hubbard

 

Mr. Fraser

 

Mr. Colwell

 

Mr. Huskilson



THE CLERK: For, 23. Against, 8.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Acting Government House Leader.



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 7, an Act
Respecting Certain Financial Measures.



Bill No. 7 - Financial Measures (1995) Act.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.



[3:30 p.m.]



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Madam Speaker, I don’t intend to spend much time with my
comments in introducing this bill for second reading, an Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. These
are the items which have proceeded from the budget, they were discussed in some detail in the budget. I think
we embarked on a very responsible but ambitious program of tax reductions in this budget. The measures were
worth approximately $31 million, the tax burden this year on Nova Scotians will be less than it was the year
before. That has been our commitment, we met that commitment and do so as outlined in this bill. With those
comments, I would move second reading of Bill No. 7.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, one of the areas of the bill the minister just indicated,
is all tax reduction. The section for Senior Citizens Financial Aid Act, is obviously not a reduction. What I
am trying to figure out and the minister, I hope, will address this and I have heard seniors ask me this very
question, that if you have gotten a rental subsidy in previous years, you will continue to get a rent subsidy. If
you have gotten a property tax rebate previously, you will continue to get a property tax rebate. If I happen
to turn 65 tomorrow or I have turned 65 and am now a senior and I am in the same income bracket as the
people that are getting those subsidies, all of a sudden, I don’t qualify for the subsidy.



The reason I don’t qualify, is that the government made a cut-off date and it has nothing to do with
my income, it is because I don’t qualify. I am trying to rationalize and figure out why, if in the Charter of
Rights, if I am a senior and I only make a certain amount of money or my income is a certain amount of
money, why my neighbour to my left is getting a rental subsidy and I am living in the same rental property
and making even less or no more money and my neighbour to my left gets a subsidy and I don’t? Or if I am
living at home and trying to keep up my property and I happen to turn 65 and I am on the same income as
my neighbour to my right, he gets a property tax rebate but I don’t.



If the government wanted to say to seniors, we are going to cut out this program, I guess they cut it
out. But to penalize anybody who is now turning 65 and say you no longer qualify for either the rental subsidy
or the property tax rebate, I have to ask where is the fairness? If we are going to have a government that is
going to treat every senior the same, treat everybody the same, they have prided themselves in saying, well,
listen, anybody that is getting a supplement will be treated the same. They talked about that in the Pharmacare
Program. They said if you make less money, we, as a government, will treat you all the same.



Now what the government is doing under this legislation is not treating all seniors the same who are
getting the supplement. I have difficulty, as a legislator, to agree to legislation that is not equal and fair to
every senior who turns 65 in this province. So how could I vote for legislation that discriminates against a
portion of seniors when their income is the same but the matter just has to do with when when they turn 65?



Now, Madam Speaker, I find that kind of strange. Now you may be able to rationalize in your mind
that that is quite acceptable, that we don’t have to treat people who are seniors with the same income the same.
But I know, and listening to AVR and they have a call-in show that has been inundated with phone calls on
that show of seniors who have now turned 65, trying to find out where to make application, because they knew
this program was in effect and they didn’t know it was cancelled. The government never advertised that the
subsidy was cancelled. So they were trying to get an application so they could qualify either to get the rental
subsidy or the property tax rebate.



Well, I heard the announcer, as a matter of fact, coming in last Monday when Terry Thomas was on.
He said that one senior called in and said well, she had called her MLA, her MLA happened to be Ronald
Russell, I guess, and he had checked with the government. The government said, if you are already getting
the subsidy, you would continue to get it. But if you happen to turn 65 and even though you qualified
financially, you would not get it.



I have to tell you, Madam Speaker, the calls that came into that radio station from seniors who now
turned 65, did not think that was fair. I have to say to myself, well actually I didn’t think it was fair.



Now if the government says, look, we have only a limited amount of money in this financial aid
package, and that is understandable and I think seniors will take their hits like everybody else and have been
taking their hit. What the seniors have said is well, if we all have to take a hit, why couldn’t they lower the
amount they were giving to people but treat us all the same? I am thinking that maybe the Minister of Finance
has an explanation but that he could not make the program a few dollars less to those receiving it, but yet
everybody who was in that financial bracket and was a senior would not be discriminated against and they
would all receive the program.



Now maybe what the minister was saying is that we plan to phase-out the program. So as these
people pass away, there will be fewer people on the program and the program will disappear. The seniors say
to me, well why if I am in the same financial bracket, could not we have reduced the numbers and then as the
numbers kept reducing, that we would all get an equal amount. If it was the year 2000 that the program was
to phase-out, then so be it.



But then they would all have an opportunity, if they qualified, as the member knows, you can only
qualify by filling out a form and it is based on income because that is what it is, a financial aid package. That
package was to make sure that seniors with very low incomes, who had very little disposable income left after
their rent, would get some assistance, either on their rent or on their property taxes.



So as I talked to seniors around the province, and many of them have yet to realize that as they
become seniors, they will not qualify, although they know the program is still in place for those people who
are on the program.



So when the minister gets up and says this whole bill has to do with financial benefit to the taxpayer,
he is only partly correct because part of the bill does do that and I commend him for that aspect, there are
parts of the bill that do what he said, whether it is new small-business tax reductions or some areas that are
exempt from the health services tax that he indicated in his budget would happen. What I fail to understand
is, what has this government against seniors of this province? As I have watched the tax measures as they
have unfolded in this government’s budget and the legislation that this government has introduced, it is sock
the seniors, sock the seniors.



Here we have a group of people who are on a fixed income who have a limited amount of disposable
income, who are being hit. Some of the seniors say to me, Mr. Moody, or George, we don’t know we are being
hit until we go to apply for something. There was no announcement by this government that told seniors of
this province, don’t bother applying anymore for either rental assistance or property tax rebate, don’t bother
applying. They never said a word until these people, as they became 65 and knew their neighbours and friends
were getting it and never heard that the program disappeared, were trying to apply. Now they find out it is
gone.



It is almost the same as the fishing license thing. It was never announced, but when they went to get
it, it was not there. So, what this government is doing is taking a real shot at the seniors. I hope the minister
can give us an explanation and the government can give an explanation of why these seniors are not being
treated equally and why neighbour x and neighbour y, who have the same income, only one happened to be
65 earlier than the other one, are not treated the same. I cannot understand the rationale or the reasoning
behind such an approach that wouldn’t show equality for seniors of this province.



Probably the minister says, well, there are only so many seniors coming onstream every year and it
won’t hurt us politically. It is not a political thing that he should be using as a rationale to decide that, it
should be on fairness and it is not being fair. So, I do not understand why this government says to anybody,
if you happen to turn 65 today, we are not going to treat you the same as somebody who is 66 or 67. When
that person is 66 they still will not get this program and when they are 88 they won’t get the program. So, I
have a little bit of difficulty with this.



I am not sure, in the business aspect, how many new small businesses will be able to take advantage
of this program. I know there has been a tax incentive for small business and I hope the minister can give us
some idea of how many businesses do qualify and have come under this legislation and how many will benefit
from this new legislation. Are we talking a large number, are we talking a small number? Just what kind of
numbers are we talking about?



We also have a tax credit. Clause 8(a), “. . . incurred by a corporation in filing . . . thirty-five per cent
of the eligible expenditures to a maximum of $100,000 . . .”. The film industry is part of that and I am not
sure what kind of numbers the government is really talking about in this area.



Now I could support the bill if the bill went without hitting the seniors, but because it hits the seniors
I have difficulty in supporting the bill. What the minister has done has lumped in the good parts of the bill
with a part of the bill that stinks. So, in order for me to show my displeasure of the part that stinks, I have to
vote against the bill.



[3:45 p.m.]



Now, maybe the minister will give an explanation before we get to vote on it when he wraps up,
which hasn’t been done by ministers very much of late. I noticed the Minister of Education didn’t wrap up or
give any explanation. I know the Minister of Health didn’t give any detailed explanation of when he started.
I assume and that minister is usually very good at trying at least, to come up with answers and I appreciate
what he does is try to at least answer the questions that are asked and I do appreciate that. I am sure when he
summarizes, that he will answer that aspect and I don’t know if it will change my mind, but I will at least
listen to the explanation. The other parts of the bill are the good parts of the bill that I think is good for
business, good for the film industry and good for other sectors of the province and I don’t have any difficulty
with that. So, with that Madam Speaker, I will take my place and will listen to the minister’s explanation
when he wraps up.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I am interested in having a bit of say on Bill No. 7.
It has an interesting title, it says An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. You open it up and what do
you see? Well, one of the first items is the big windfall to the ITT Sheraton and to the big hotel chains here
in downtown Halifax, that is going to be received as a result of this exemption from health services tax for
people coming in and taking advantage of conventions here in the City of Halifax. It has been characterized
clearly as a tax rebate, as an incentive, as a measure to bring convention business to Halifax, which is not
necessarily a bad idea. But it is just Halifax, it is just for the major hotel chains and some would suggest that
it just has to do with bringing more customers into the casino to ensure that the revenues are in fact, as what
they are predicted.



The minister says, why just Halifax? Well, we will see what advantage this does to hotel-motels, bed
and breakfasts in the Valley or down on the South Shore or in Guysborough or other parts of Nova Scotia, we
will see what advantage it is. So, that is one of the first ones that you see here. You flip over a little bit and
you see another one here with respect to the equity tax credit. What it does, is it increases the eligible
investment for an equity tax credit from $10,000 to $30,000.



The point here, is that for those individuals that have sufficient disposable income, they can
participate to a greater maximum in this tax credit program. In other words, for those people who have greater
disposable income, they now have an additional vehicle here, through which to get further tax credit and to
avoid paying taxes. This is not necessarily a bad thing perhaps, but there is some question whether it promotes
the kind of local economic development or economic development that one would suggest. In fact, there have
been some suggestions and presentations made to the minister, to make that same kind of tax credit program
accessible to community organizations, in order that it not just be to wealthy individuals, people with a fair
bit of disposable income.



What else do we have in here? Well, if you go a little further, you have the film industry tax credit,
a good idea. I think a proposal that the indigenous film industry in Nova Scotia has presented to this
government and I believe had presented to the previous government. I say good for them, to be moving
forward on this, the possibilities of the opportunities for building the film industry in Nova Scotia are good,
much improved.



Then we go on a little further, Madam Speaker, and we see that in Clause 11 senior citizens are
taking a big hit, in terms of a rental subsidy. So it is like at the beginning you get benefits for ITT Sheraton
and the other major hotel chains in the province, in particular here in Halifax, . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Aimed at the casinos.



MR. CHISHOLM: . . . aimed perhaps specifically at the casino. You see the tax credits that made
more vehicles for avoiding paying taxes by wealthy individuals with sufficient disposable income, see
advantages, too, for the film industry and companies, in terms of providing work, no question, but the benefit,
let’s face it, is to a specific industry.



Here you have a little further on, seniors getting kicked in the teeth, Madam Speaker, again by this
government, in the whole business here of the elimination of the rent subsidy to which they had been eligible
up until March 31, 1995. I will tell you what, I think there are a number of seniors who are now eligible for
that who are going to be deeply affected as a result of the elimination of this subsidy.



You know the government says, well, we have to do more with less, we have to tighten our belts, you
know people have to pay their share. Well, you know seniors are beginning to say excuse me, we have
contributed to this economy and to this community and to this province for 50 and 60 years and now you are
asking us, through increased Pharmacare costs, contributions, through reductions in the rental subsidy, you
are asking us to pay. In the same piece of legislation you are providing for benefits for wealthy individuals
and corporations in the hotel convention business.



You know it is like this bill in itself is a reflection of the unequal treatment being meted out by this
government to people from one end of this province to the other, as a result of some of their policies, as a
result of some of their decisions. Seniors have had enough.



I have a constituency office in the South Centre Mall, right across the hall from Bowlarama. Most
mornings throughout the week there is a group of senior citizens in there, bowling. I am in there a fair bit,
chatting with these folks, and let me tell you, they are not happy with what this government is doing. You
know it is like at every turn these people are being hit and asked to pay more when they have already paid all
their lives and contributed to their community and paid into these programs and other people have enjoyed
the benefits. And now that they have reached a stage where their income is fixed, their income is at a very
modest, if not low level and this government, through so many different measures, is asking them to pay more.



I will have an opportunity to talk a little more the next day that we return to this bill, about how it
reflects some of the unfair policies of this government. But the Government House Leader has indicated, given
the time, that it would be appropriate to adjourn debate on Bill No. 7. I would therefore move adjournment,
Madam Speaker.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic has moved adjournment of the
debate on Bill No. 7. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



The Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, the House will sit on Monday from the hours of 2:00
p.m. until 10:00 p.m. After the daily routine, we will go to the Committee of the Whole House on Supply and
the Subcommittee on Supply will also meet in the Red Chamber. Following that, we will do Public Bills for
Second Reading.



I move that we adjourn until 2:00 p.m. on Monday.



MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is carried.



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



[The House rose at 3:56 p.m.]