Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017






























HALIFAX, MONDAY, MAY 1, 1995



Fifty-sixth General Assembly



Third Session



2:00 P.M.



SPEAKER



Hon. Paul MacEwan



DEPUTY SPEAKER



Mrs. Francene Cosman












MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable members, I would like to call the House to order at this
time and commence the afternoon’s agenda.



PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the annual report for the fiscal year ended
March 31, 1994, the Department of Community Services.



MR. SPEAKER: The annual report is tabled.



STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS



GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.






1235



RESOLUTION NO. 225



HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall
move the adoption of the following resolution:



Whereas this past Sunday, April 30, 1995, marked the 50th Anniversary of the liberation by allied
forces of the Nazi concentration camps; and



Whereas the world will forever recall with horror the history of the Holocaust and the atrocities
perpetrated on its innocent victims in such infamous places as Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Dachau and
Treblinka; and



Whereas many young Canadian soldiers died in the brave and ultimately successful effort to free
many thousands of tortured souls from the confines of the concentration camps;



Therefore be it resolved that this House unanimously condemn fascism and all that it represented,
and join with the survivors and their families in remembering those who suffered and, in their memories,
promise to do our utmost to ensure that history will not be repeated.



Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable Premier.



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, can I suggest that we have a moment of silence in memory of the
victims of the Nazi concentration camps, and also the many young men and women who gave up their lives
in the attempt to rescue them.



MR. SPEAKER: Please stand for a moment of silence.



[One minute of silence was observed.]



INTRODUCTION OF BILLS



NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 226



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



Whereas the Premier catered to a crowd of good Liberals in conjunction with the visit of the
Governor General; and



Whereas these good Liberals have been catered to for the better part of a year in the name of saving
the Premier from his own reputation and deeds; and



Whereas this entire government has been consumed with the needs of a few good Liberals, abdicating
for the year the needs and concerns of hundreds of thousands of good Nova Scotians;



Therefore be it resolved that this Premier deal with this leadership review question once and for all
so that he can direct his full attention to those many good Nova Scotians whose questions on Pharmacare,
Highway No. 104, health and education reform, casinos and so on, require answers and effective action.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 227



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 Canadian Mental Health Association, Nova Scotia Division, has undertaken The Open
Mind Campaign; and



Whereas this campaign encourages caring, understanding and new attitudes towards people who have
experienced mental health problems; and



Whereas today, on behalf of all residents of Halifax County, Mayor Randy Ball is declaring Halifax
County to be a community of The Open Mind;



Therefore be it resolved that this House salutes the Nova Scotia Division of the Canadian Mental
Health Association and Halifax County for the leadership in The Open Mind Campaign, and recommends
to all residents the goals of this campaign.



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



MR. SPEAKER: The request is 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 unanimously.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 228



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



Whereas members of the Saskatchewan Legislature are officially on record as opposing the national
registration component of Bill C-68; and



Whereas the latest opposition to Bill C-68 took place yesterday in Port Hawkesbury as over 200 Nova
Scotians voiced their opposition to gun registration; and



Whereas there is no concrete data to substantiate claims from the federal Minister of Justice that
crime will be reduced upon implementation of a national gun registration system;



Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature endorse the deletion of the registration
component of Bill C-68.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Shelburne.



RESOLUTION NO. 229



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



Whereas Mr. Daniel Bower is an avid sportsman who enjoys nature through hunting, fishing and
providing knowledge about the outdoors to others; and



Whereas Mr. Bower submitted a letter to the editor of a provincial daily newspaper boosting many
of the marvellous qualities of Shelburne County that he has come to appreciate and cherish; and



Whereas Mr. Bower’s letter was featured recently as the Letter of the Week in this provincial
newspaper publication;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Mr. Daniel Bower
for having his many positive observations about Shelburne County featured.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.









RESOLUTION NO. 230



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



Whereas the provincial, territorial and federal governments have been working together to develop
a coordinated approach to endangered species conservation in Canada; and



Whereas the first in a nation-wide series of public workshops on this national approach is taking
place at the Delta Barrington Hotel in Halifax this afternoon and this evening; and



Whereas the Province of Nova Scotia is represented on a national working group to develop a revised
national process for listing species at risk;



Therefore be it resolved that members of this House acknowledge and endorse the important work
of this group as well as the public consultation that will contribute to development of a national policy on
conservation of endangered species in this country.



Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable Minister of Health.



RESOLUTION NO. 231



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



Whereas May is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month in Nova Scotia;



Whereas MS is the most common neurological disease in Canada today, affecting about 1 in 500
Atlantic Canadians;



Whereas the Nova Scotia Multiple Sclerosis Society is dedicated to providing information and
support to people with MS and their families, generating increased public awareness and raising funds to find
the cause and cure for this disease;



Therefore be it resolved that all Nova Scotians support the society in its annual carnation campaign
and recognize May as Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month.



I ask for waiver for notice without debate, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried unanimously.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 232



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 idea behind municipal service exchange was supposed to be revenue neutral or a
reduction in property taxes for Nova Scotia taxpayers; and



Whereas residents in the municipality of Colchester are facing tax increases this year of 8.7 per cent
residentially and 3.6 per cent commercially; and



Whereas the chief administrative officer for Colchester County says that part of the reason for the
massive hike in taxes is because of the government’s municipal service exchange legislation;



Therefore be it resolved that this government explain to not only residents of Colchester County but
to all Nova Scotians precisely when they can expect to be paying less in taxes instead of more.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.



RESOLUTION NO. 233



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



Whereas the Provincial Midget Tier Two Girls Volleyball Championship was held in Canso on the
weekend; and



Whereas this tournament involved teams from Middleton, Dartmouth, Antigonish, New Glasgow,
Port Hawkesbury and Canso; and



Whereas Melissa MacDonald was chosen the tournament MVP and Melissa Richards was named
to the all-star team;



Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Canso team, coached by Principal Bernie
MacLean, on winning its first Provincial Tier Two Girls Volleyball Championship.



I request waiver without debate.



MR. SPEAKER: The request is for waiver of notice. Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



[2:15 p.m.]



RESOLUTION NO. 234



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



Whereas a major concern among health care providers in Cape Breton has been the use of hospitals
to provide long-term care, making effective acute care more difficult; and



Whereas 29 Legion branches in Cape Breton have endorsed a proposal that the former St. Rita’s
Hospital, most recently operated as the Sydney Community Health Centre, be converted to a veterans’ home
and convalescent facility; and



Whereas local supporters have asked that MPs and MLAs speak out;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the federal and provincial governments, at the highest
levels, to meet soon with those proposing a veterans’ facility at the Sydney Community Health Centre and give
the proposal serious consideration.



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



MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 235



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



Whereas Liberal MLAs described the relatively small turnout at January’s Liberal Party meetings as
a sign of great satisfaction with their own performance in government; and



Whereas Cabinet Ministers ignored the 89 per cent of Bedford residents voting against
amalgamation, focusing instead on a turnout which actually exceeded that in many metro municipal elections;
and



Whereas Liberals have now agreed that no one should ever, ever, ever know how many of their own
Party vote to support the Premier and this government;



Therefore be it resolved that in the opinion of this House the Premier and senior Liberals spoke from
personal experience when they stated that anyone can distort and undermine the results of a free, democratic
exercise, rather than abiding by the people’s wishes.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 236



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



Whereas average weekly earnings in Nova Scotia feel 2.7 per cent in February alone, by more than
$13 a week, according to information just released by Statistics Canada; and



Whereas Nova Scotia in one of only two provinces where earnings fell during the last year, while the
same survey found one of the highest rate of job losses; and



Whereas this illustrates the Liberal Government’s race to the bottom, turning back the clock towards
unstable, poorly paid, and low-skills employment;



Therefore be it resolved that the Finance Minister and other Liberals who intended to impose a lower
standard of living, economic dislocation and more family breakdowns should have honestly presented their
goals when they sought Nova Scotians’ support in the election two years ago.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



ORDERS OF THE DAY



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



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



PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 2.



Bill No. 2 - Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company Limited Act.



Bill No. 6 - Centre Falmouth Cemetery Company Act.



Bill No. 8 - Bridgewater Museum Commission Act.



Bill No. 9 - Train Station Inn Cabooses Act.



MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 11.



Bill No. 11 - Halifax County Charter.



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



MR. DENNIS RICHARDS: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 11.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 11. Would all those in favour of the
motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 12.



Bill No. 12 - Hopewell Cemetery Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.



MR. WAYNE FRASER: Mr. Speaker, I so move.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East moves second reading of Bill No. 12.
Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



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



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 motion is carried. (Interruption)



If I was a little too quick, I apologize.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic. I always look forward to hearing him, so I will resume
the Chair to the hear the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: You’re too kind, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to have the opportunity to
rise and speak for a few moments this afternoon as the House prepares to resolve itself into a Committee of
the Whole House on Supply.



Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak for a few moments today on the whole issue of private/public
partnerships. I do so with the clear understanding that this seems to be a trend that many jurisdictions in the
public sector are moving towards within the fiscal constraints that they are being faced with. They are looking
at options and ways to restore capital projects in their jurisdictions, whether that be highways or bridges or
schools or other major construction. The whole issue is a question of how do they come up with the funds at
a time when the national and international bond dealers or financial interests are suggesting, in Canada for
example, that our public debt is far too high and if we don’t get it under control that we will hit what is known
in some jurisdictions as the debt wall.



Mr. Speaker, when the hysteria about the debt and coming close to the debt wall is talked about,
especially in recent years in Canada, the spectre of New Zealand and what happened in New Zealand over
the period from 1984 through to the present time, in terms of the situation that they were faced with, people
conjure up the image of, basically, New Zealand going bankrupt and, therefore, being forced to completely
restructure itself, to completely unload responsibility for many of its public services and in areas of
responsibility, the public sector had a lot to do with.



Mr. Speaker, New Zealand is cited by those who are pushing the deficit hysteria, those people who
are suggesting that governments cannot afford any longer to do things like build roads or to do things like
provide social programs, even to provide an acceptable level of health care in this country or in other
countries. People would suggest that this is an example of the fact that our governments can no longer afford
these kinds of payments, at least until we get our deficit better under control.



The whole issue of New Zealand and I have no intention of speaking about that today in any great
detail. Suffice it to say that many who have analyzed the situation in New Zealand have suggested, in fact,
that it is more smoke and mirrors than it is anything else in that what actually happened in New Zealand in
the early 1980’s, in particular 1984-1985, is considerably different than the picture that is presented to us in
the media and in speeches by what is called the Representatives of the New Right from New Zealand, who
are brought to the United States and to Canada to preach the word about how government has to get out of
the delivery of public services.



Suffice it to say, I guess that as a result of the changes that have been made in New Zealand, that
today in New Zealand most of the major transportation links, most of the national resources and the national
industries in New Zealand are now completely controlled by interests outside of the New Zealand economy
that, in fact, the majority of the economy in New Zealand is completely owned and controlled by forces outside
that country and their deficit has not lowered, in fact, it has continued to grow even though they have made
all these drastic changes to get out of the delivery of social programs, out of the provision of better highways
and schools and so on and their unemployment levels have gone right through the roof, their levels of poverty
and child poverty and violence and crime have grown astronomically over this period and I will talk about
that in more detail on another day.



I guess the question that many people would ask is why is it we are looking at New Zealand as an
example when that is clearly a case of that particular policy, in other words, the government turning over the
handling or the financing of public services to the private sector as the answer to all the problems, that that
absolutely and completely failed in that particular jurisdiction. More and more in this country, in various
jurisdictions, we are seeing ourselves being faced with an argument that says that if we in the public sector
do not unload some of these expenses, do not cut back in terms of the amount of our tax dollars that go to the
provision of public services then we will increase our debt and for generations to come we will be faced to
make those payments.



There is no question that regardless of what has happened over the past 15 years our debt and deficit
has continued to grow. It is not because of the increases in social spending or spending on social programs,
in fact, over the past 10 years statistics clearly indicate that spending on social programs has decreased. What
has made our deficit grow by leaps and bounds has been a clear and well focused and aggressively pursued
policy of zero inflation which has taken our real interest rates in this country to levels that far exceed any of
the other G-7 countries or any other countries in the industrial world.



Regardless of what we do in this country, it is the gap between the interest rates that are being
charged and the level of inflation that, in fact, is the problem of our increasing deficit. It seems that no matter
how much the federal government or the provinces cut back on the amount of expenditures they make on
social programs or on infrastructure the deficit continues to grow out of hand. At the same time, so does the
level of unemployment in this country. It has grown to levels which are clearly unacceptable to many of us,
yet our Government in Ottawa and the Government of Nova Scotia and far too many governments across the
country in other provinces are following the game plan laid out by the public sector, which is that we cannot
afford to pay for our social programs; we cannot afford to pay for our health care; and we cannot afford to pay
for public infrastructure.



[2:30 p.m.]



I guess my point is that I don’t agree with the premise. It is not that we cannot forget or dismiss the
fact that we have high deficits and debts in this country - we cannot ignore that, Mr. Speaker - but it is a
question of how we go at the program and who is it who pays the most. What we have with high, real interest
rates in the country is the people who have money are the people who are making money. The people who are
looking for jobs and the small business people who are looking for loans in order to get their businesses going,
in order to keep their businesses going, are the ones who are paying for the kind of fiscal strategy that we have
in this country.



Is it any answer for governments in this country and across this world to go out and hand over much
of our public assets to the private sector in exchange for money? Is that going be to cheaper? Well, I guess the
jury is still out in many ways, except in most areas where there has been private sector partnering with the
public sector on roads or on correctional facilities or other areas, that there has been a problem not only with
whether or not any savings are realized but, perhaps as importantly, if not more importantly, it is a question
of accountability and responsibility for the provision of those kinds of services, that all of a sudden - whether
it be snow-clearing or garbage pick-up - if you lend that off, if you take all of that responsibility and give it
off to a private sector corporation, the accountability factor is completely gone.



To imagine that all of a sudden a private sector enterprise, that has to borrow money at an interest
rate greater than the public sector, is going to be able to do it cheaper, is something that boggles my mind.
What we found across the country and in North America is that where savings are realized, it comes at the
cost of employees’ wages and benefits. So, it is like all the while we are continually pushing down the level
of wages and benefits of working people in this province and in this country and across North America in an
attempt to realize better balance sheets in the public sector and in order to ensure greater profits in the private
sector.



It is almost obscene in a sense, Mr. Speaker, when you see the private sector courting the government
of this province, or federally or any other jurisdiction, about how it is that the public sector has to get out of
the provision of these services and that they, all of a sudden, will come in and do the job. These are public
services that taxpayers pay for. These are services that benefit all taxpayers, whether that be the provision of
a safe and efficient and effective highway transportation system or whether that be health care. What is
happening in far too many cases - and you look at the whole question of toll roads - is that if you have the
money, if you have the wherewithal, then you can have a speedy new highway that you can go 110 kilometres
an hour on with no barriers in between. If you don’t have any money, if you don’t have the wherewithal, then,
of course, you have to take a secondary road somewhere, that undoubtedly will not only be slower but probably
will not be maintained as well and so on.



We are getting into that whole situation in the delivery of health care in this country. I do not think
that anybody in this country believes that that in fact is the way we have to go, that we have to follow the
American model that if you can afford to pay, then you will get a better service. The whole point in this, I
guess, is, will the taxpayer save in the long run? We need to have good roads, we need to have effective and
efficient and quality high schools and junior highs and elementary schools in this province, we need to have
health care facilities, but we need to be in charge of those, because those are public sector services that all
taxpayers are entitled to, that all taxpayers are willing to pay for and it is not appropriate that these services
are handed over holus bolus to the private sector.



In the event that this government is moving forward on more of its private/public sector partnering,
Mr. Speaker, I think it is important that they at least remember that the answer is not simply a more clean,
a more appropriate, a more politically palatable bottom line, in terms of the whole balance sheet, that they still
have a responsibility as a public sector, as the government, to protect the public interest, and that if they are
going to turn over the control of a highway or of a hospital or of a school to the private sector, then they have
responsibilities to ensure employment standards are maintained, to ensure that the additional costs to
taxpayers are not exorbitant and that, in the long run, taxpayers are not forced to pay more money simply
because of the fact that the government does not feel it is in the position to absorb those costs on the short
term, on its balance sheet, for political reasons.



Those are questions of accountability that this government and any other government cannot avoid.
When we talk about governing, you know, the government is not there simply to serve the interests of
business; the government is there to serve the interests of all taxpayers. Whether it comes to the question of
the provision of public services or whether it comes to the question of efficient management of the public
sector, this government has a responsibility to do it better in the interests of all taxpayers, not just business.
Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.



[2:38 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene
Cosman in the Chair.]



[6:40 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. 7.



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



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I wonder if you could indicate how much time I have
left?



MADAM SPEAKER: You have 51 minutes remaining. (Interruptions)



MR. CHISHOLM: Gee, that’s too bad. Madam Speaker, I have an opportunity, perhaps, today to rise
and speak a little more thoroughly about Bill No. 7 and the implications of Bill No. 7 on Nova Scotians and
how Bill No. 7 is a reflection, it is the bill that carries forward many of the plans that were brought out in the
budget of the Minister of Finance in the early part of this session. It is clearly an indication, I think, and this
was the point that I was trying to make on Friday afternoon when I began my intervention, that it is clearly
an indication of where the priorities of this government rest. That is and as was cited by this government and
by this minister and by many people out there in the community, that this budget is meant to ensure that Nova
Scotia is an attractive place for doing business. That this government is solely - no, that’s not fair, I will not
say solely - but is focused quite considerably on reducing any barriers to business coming to Nova Scotia or
operating in Nova Scotia.



Madam Speaker, that in itself is not such a bad idea. I don’t think anybody in the province is going
to suggest that we want to turn business away or that we want to persist in creating obstacles or allowing
obstacles to remain in place that prevent businesses from operating or from continuing to operate in the
Province of Nova Scotia and generating economic activity, creating jobs, paying wages, salaries, benefits and
so on and so forth. Absolutely not. For anyone to suggest that we were arguing otherwise, I think, would be
misleading.



The question is, what is the balance that has to be struck in terms of providing for, either through
tax breaks or incentive tax credits or through the delivery of services or whatever, a balanced form of people
sharing in the pain and sharing in the gain of whatever activities that this government participates in? I think
that what we have seen, from this government, Mr. Speaker, in the two years that they have been in office,
is that contrary to the promises that were made when they were running for election or when they were in
Opposition, they decided the day they took office that, in fact, they were going to focus on the deficit as their
number one priority.



They were going to forget about unemployment. They were going to forget about growing the
economy. They were going to focus on the deficit as their number one priority and that it wasn’t going to be
business that was going to be helping to pay off that deficit, it was going to be individual Nova Scotians. In
fact, it was going to be many businesses, funny enough, that would end up paying as a result of the slow
growth in the economy, as a result of continuing layoffs, as a result of the lack of creativity in terms of
developing programs that would assist small and medium-sized businesses to get started and to grow.



[6:45 p.m.]



That is the concern. We have seen two years of this government whacking it to public sector workers.
We have seen this government focusing on individuals, in terms of paying the price for the excesses over the
past 15 years of previous administrations who have racked up a deficit, contributed though, I must say, Mr.
Speaker, some considerable amount by the high interest rate policy of the federal government.



So what this government has done is they have said to individual Nova Scotians, you have to tighten
your belt. You have to suffer some pain. You have to be unemployed, if not, for this year, then next year and
the year after. You, as small business people, have to incur high, real interest rates in order that other
businesses, other individuals in this province, generally people that have sufficient disposable income that they
can take advantage of some of the credits, tax incentives like the equity tax credit, in order to avoid paying
further income tax, or corporations, Mr. Speaker, whether that be major convention facilities in the province
or whether that be in the film industry or other types of industries in the Province of Nova Scotia, the mining
industry with the removal of the 4 per cent tax on mining equipment. These people, individual Nova Scotians,
have to pay the price in order that these companies enjoy benefits.



We saw it last session with the way this government attacked the unfunded liability in workers’
compensation. Who paid for that, Mr. Speaker? It was injured workers. It was working people in the Province
of Nova Scotia who are paying for that unfunded liability. It was not companies, it was not employers. It was
not a balanced approach. It was, clearly, individuals. In this budget, the most bizarre thing in here is the fact
that on the one hand, they give credits to individuals who have sufficient disposal income that they can invest
through the equity tax credit, then on the other hand, they remove a very modest program that affects senior
citizens, that enables many of them to stay in their own homes or to be able to afford their own apartments.
You know what I am talking about? The rental subsidy.



If you look at the information that has come out of the Department of Community Services, it talks
about rental assistance and let me just tell you a few of the numbers that we are talking about here. It says,
“This program provides a monthly assistance payment to seniors who rent their home and whose monthly
rental payment exceed 30 per cent of their monthly income. Rental assistance is available to seniors who
receive a guaranteed income supplement, a spouse’s allowance, or who are single and have an annual income
of $17,600 or less. Maximum rent amounts of $442 are used for single people, and $560 for couples, when
determining the level of a rental assistance payment. For single persons, payments range from a minimum
of $15 to a maximum of $130 per month. In 1992-93, 1,800 seniors received rental assistance.”.



Mr. Speaker, this is a modest program in terms of the individuals, in terms of the amounts involved,
but it affects - in 1992-93 it says nearly 2,000 and I bet you that last year was probably more than that -
seniors who are living at levels below $17,000 a year. Those people, from this day in, when this bill goes into
effect will no longer be able to receive this rental subsidy.



Imagine if you will that you have seniors earning a fixed income of $17,000 or less, who would enjoy
a subsidy of anywhere from $15 to $130 a month, are having that program cut at the same time that we are
providing $30 million worth of tax credits for the business community, including wealthy individuals. Where
is the sense of fairness in that? I don’t understand that, for the life of me, and let’s not forget that this rental
subsidy reduction is coming down at the same time that we have had the burden of Pharmacare shifted from
all taxpayers to senior citizens. So low income seniors are being hit by this government in two ways: in terms
of the cost of their drugs and the amount of the plan that covers those drugs and, on the other, this rental
subsidy.



Now it may save, it doesn’t touch very many people, I don’t know what the total cost of that program
is, but let’s say that half of those people receive $15 a month - and $15 a month is not a big deal to you, is it,
Mr. Speaker - well $15 to somebody on a fixed income, and many seniors that I deal with in my constituency
office have very little extra after they have paid all the bills, so what are we going to do then? What are they
going to give up? People who are now receiving the rental subsidy will continue to receive it but those people
who are now eligible will no longer be able to receive it. The question is, why is that fair? When people who
are much more able to pay in this society, including business, are not only not being asked to pay but they are
being given more, it absolutely boggles my mind how this government can talk about fairness.



You know, over the past two years it was stated in the budget that this government has reduced the
tax burden on business by $70 million in the past two years. We have the lowest corporate tax rate in the
country in the Province of Nova Scotia. Do we enjoy a better unemployment rate than they do in other
provinces? Are we at the top of the heap in terms of our employment levels? Over the past two years, have
we had a phenomenal surge in employment? In fact, what we are seeing happen is that unemployment levels
in areas of this province are becoming at a very critical endemic level. You know that, Mr. Speaker, as well
as any of us do, that parts of many communities in Cape Breton are suffering from unemployment levels in
the area of 35 per cent, 40 per cent, 50 per cent some of them and that is a very serious concern.



MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member permit an introduction?



MR. CHISHOLM: Certainly, Mr. Speaker.



The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.



MRS. FRANCENE COSMAN: Thank you, honourable member. Through you, Mr. Speaker, I would
like to introduce in the gallery the 2nd Wellington Scout Troop. They are accompanied by their leaders, David
Green and Eric Doucette. They are having a tour of the Legislature and the various buildings. Mary Stewart
is accompanying them on this tour. I would like them to all stand and receive the warm welcome of our
Assembly. Thank you. (Applause)



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the point is that we continue to hand over all these credits and
benefits to the business community, to make ourselves more attractive and more accessible to somebody. I
don’t know, I think maybe this government has in mind that there are all these businesses out there across the
country that are looking for a low tax haven and that they are going to flock into Nova Scotia. Well, I think
what we found is that over the last 25 years it has not mattered. Some companies have come, but many of the
companies that have come have also left because it is not a question of simply, we don’t want a company here
that is just coming because we have the lowest tax rates or we have the lowest rates in terms of workers’
compensation.



We want a company that has assessed this province in terms of our labour force, in terms of our
environment and wants to come here and make a contribution to the Province of Nova Scotia and not stay here
for a year until the rebates run out and then head to some other jurisdiction that is prepared to basically
prostitute itself in terms of what it can provide to the next runaway business.



This bill, I talked a little bit about this the other day. It has some things in here which, I think, will
be helpful. The benefit to the local film industry in terms of the credits in terms of helping to provide jobs
within the film industry, I think that will be helpful. There is no question about that. The credit that will affect
non-profit and performing arts production companies in terms of the exemption from the 10 per cent
amusement tax will be positive and helpful for that segment of the economy that is growing and that is
important to the Province of Nova Scotia and to the overall economy.



The equity tax credit, for one, has not shown itself to be particularly effective primarily because it
is most simply designed to benefit those people who have a significant amount of disposable income. It is just
another vehicle available to those people, of a whole assortment of vehicles that are out there in terms of tax
credits and so far it has not shown itself to be all that effective. Now, one of the reasons for raising what is
available, the maximums and so on, is done in order to hopefully make it more attractive to individuals with
that kind of disposal income.



Maybe if the minister had came forward with other vehicles in this budget to provide opportunity to
develop capital within our communities, like a community loan fund or that kind of initiative that would
enable local community enterprises to invest money in the community and corporations in the community to
invest money in their community. That kind of thing that I know is being developed is being supposedly
worked on in the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency. The sooner we get that kind of vehicle in place,
the sooner we can begin to see more effective and more sustainable economic development in our
communities.



The problem is not simply a question of the fact that some of the measures in here that benefit the
film industry or other parts of the cultural industry are not effective.



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: A question, Mr. Speaker. Earlier today there were comments made
about public/private partnering and concerns about that. We have just heard a comment about the importance
of having local access to capital for entrepreneurs in small and medium-sized enterprises in the community.
I wonder if the honourable member would talk about the opportunity for partnership with the private and
public sector combining to provide access to capital in communities and what his opinion might be on that
subject?



[7:00 p.m.]



MR. CHISHOLM: I appreciate the question and I certainly am pleased that the minister paid some
attention, at least, to some of the comments I made, somewhat ragged and disjointed as they were.



My point is that there are some possibilities of vehicles in the community where there can be a
combination of funds developed from both the private and public sectors and perhaps through instruments
of legislation that will provide an opportunity for the investment of private capital in communities or in
community-based enterprises. We have seen it, whether it be the community bonds in Saskatchewan or the
community loan funds in some parts of Ontario, in different degrees, in taking different forms, have shown
themselves to be quite effective. I think they are important opportunities.



I was in touch with his department. In fact, just the other day, to talk to the director of the
Community Economic Development Division to talk about that very thing. I understand that they are working
on that. I certainly am encouraging that and that was one of the things that I was just talking about. I do not
think that detracts at all from the concern I have and the caution that I am urging on this whole private/public
partnership initiative, Mr. Speaker, that there are a lot of problems with that initiative.



I am concerned with when I see jurisdictions that are basically selling off public assets at what seem
like fire sale prices that we or that government has a responsibility to monitor and to remain accountable for
public service and public assets and that sometimes that is not done and governments forget that in the great
haste that they are in in order to basically get a job done and engage in private/public partnerships.



MR. SPEAKER: If I could intervene here, briefly. I know the honourable member was responding
to a question, but I do not find private/public sector partnering anywhere in the contents of Bill No. 7.
(Interruption) Well, no. While the bill is headed An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures that does not
imply that it covers all potential financial measures that one could imagine. It only covers a certain schedule
specific financial measures. I would ask that the debate be addressed, if possible, to those specific financial
measures or arguments that might reasonably be connected thereto.



MR. CHISHOLM: I appreciate the Speaker’s intervention and, of course, the bill does not deal with
that. I think the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency asked me that question when I was discussing
the idea of different vehicles to make capital pools available for communities. He sort of prompted me to
discuss the whole issue of private/public partnerships in relation to what I had spoken about earlier today.



MR. SPEAKER: Yes. I agree, but I do recall earlier the honourable member making a lengthy
dissertation on matters relating to New Zealand, for example. I just caution the honourable member to try to
(Interruption) keep it on the track of this bill.



MR. CHISHOLM: I caution the government too, Mr. Speaker. Yes, certainly. (Interruptions) That
is two people who were listening. I am impressed, believe me.



Mr. Speaker, I do not have much more to say on this particular bill. My point before the interjection
of the minister that I was trying to sort of wrap up on was that there are elements of this bill that are positive.
What is happening in this province is that there is not a lack of corporate profits. In fact, corporate profits are
increasing at quite a significant rate in the Province of Nova Scotia. What we are not seeing is an increase
in personal income because people don’t have jobs and the people that do have jobs are not realizing any
increase in their wages. There is a significant level of unemployment and as a result of the fact that people
don’t have money to spend, we are not seeing the kind of growth in the sales tax revenue that we should be.



If we don’t do something about those issues soon, we are going to find ourselves in another recession,
if we have ever gotten out of one to begin with. You just can’t keep shutting off the economy. The pulp and
paper industry and industries like that are going to benefit as a result of the relationship of our dollar to world
currency and that is benefitting that industry and therefore benefitting their activities in this province. At some
point, we have got to get people working in this province. We have got to deal with the high levels of
unemployment. A bill like this does not do that. The worst thing about this is that at the same time that they
are providing benefits to business on the one hand, they are taking a miserable and a mean-spirited crack at
seniors on the other. For that I think that the people of Nova Scotia find it very difficult to forgive this
government, with those kinds of measures that are clearly so far removed from any sense of even-handedness
that it is difficult to contemplate what the rationale was in the first place.



Let me say that on the basis of the fact that I think that this particular bill is completely unbalanced,
that it doesn’t recognize at all the problems that Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians are facing in terms of the
difficult economic times - the fact that it provides certain benefits to certain sectors is fine - the fact that it
takes such a crack at seniors and the fact that it takes a somewhat veiled attack or strategy to ensure that
casino revenues are increased in the province, especially in the Cities of Halifax and Sydney, I think this bill
should be defeated and I would urge all members to vote accordingly.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I agree with some of the things the honourable member
for Halifax Atlantic said. The last part, where he said he was going to vote against the bill, I certainly agree
with that.



There are some questions in the bill that I am sure the Minister of Finance will answer quite willingly
and anxiously. One of the things is an exemption from the Health Services Tax for the production and
processing of non-renewable resources. This is a very good section, a very interesting section but one of the
things that is interesting to me is, for several years, the Government of Nova Scotia has been indicating that
we want to develop a sustainable economic development policy within this province.



Certainly by exempting the processing and production of non-renewable resources it is not quite the
same as giving a tax exemption to a renewable resource such as agriculture, forestry, for practicing good
policies out in the forest in reforestation and that sort of thing. Agriculture is exempted but not totally and not
completely. Some aspects of agriculture there is a provincial tax. I do think that we have to be very cautious
when we are encouraging non-renewable resource usage, so it is not at the expense of the renewable resources.



One of the things that really bothered me when the minister talked about his budget, is this transient
accommodation purchased by persons attending a convention. I mean, just the words, transient
accommodation, it gives you, sounds of, perhaps they are undesirables. But really what that means is, folks
that arrive at a hotel and say I want to stay the night, that is what a transient is, apparently. But, if you are
at a convention from out-of-town, you don’t have to pay the hospital tax, now that is to make sure that all of
the conventions come here. If you call, as I did, a couple of people who are in the hotel business with
conventions and you say, look, what is the first thing they ask you? Not one of them said, do we have to pay
hospital tax on the rooms? When people decide to come to Nova Scotia for a convention, it is usually on a
rotation basis; they go west, they go east and they go west and back and forth. Then about every eight or nine
years they wind up back in Nova Scotia, which is great. Nobody, I don’t think, at a convention says, look, we
can’t go to Nova Scotia because the tax is too high.



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: A question, Mr. Speaker. This question is, that he is in town and I am
in town and that is a good way to ask questions to get answers. The question I have is whether or not in the
international convention business, whether or not an 11 per cent cut in cost is seen by the honourable member
as an important marketing tool to attract international conventions to Halifax?



MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, that is a very interesting question. I would think that the Minister for the
Economic Renewal Agency would have somebody working for him that could give him the answer. But, look,
if he has to come down here, to a poor and humble farmer from Kings County to get answers I am more than
happy to give them to him. I think that the answer to his question is bizarre, but I will go ahead and answer
it, because, now what it says here, (Interruption) Look, you be quiet and you will learn too, there Slim.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We are here in the House.



MR. ARCHIBALD: There is a mention about being in town to answer questions. Is there a problem
with somebody being out-of-town or something? I want to know if there is something we are missing between
in town and out-of-town? The minister asked a very misleading question, because he said if you can reduce
the price of your convention by 11 per cent, will people come? All you are doing is reducing the cost of your
accommodation by 11 per cent.



Now, if your entire convention is based in a hotel room, I am not sure what kind of a convention you
are having. But have you removed the sales tax on meals? Have you removed the sales tax that the buses must
charge to take these people throughout the province? Have you removed it off the taxi charge? Have you
removed it after the clothing they purchased, the entertainment they take part in? You see, Mr. Speaker, the
minister asked a question and he hadn’t even read the blessed bill, because he thought that if you had a
convention, the whole 11 per cent was gone from all of it, but it is not. It is just that little portion on your hotel
room and as the minister knows from travelling around the countryside, that the price of the tax to stay in a
New York hotel room is more than it costs to stay at a hotel in Halifax, just a little bit of tax, but do you know
what? There are more people registered at a hotel today in New York City, than there will be in Nova Scotia
in a whole year.



The tax doesn’t even enter into it and if the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency had asked
me the question before the Minister of Finance brought in the budget, it would have simplified his
understanding of the situation a great deal. Because, obviously, the Minister of Finance had not told the
Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, that all it applied to was the price of a room, just the price of a
room. For that, people are lining up to come, come on, the answer is not a chance. But, at the same time, the
other question we want to know is from time to time, when people hold events in Halifax such as a hockey
tournament and the biggest one in Canada is held here in the spring.



[7:15 p.m.]



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: A question, Mr. Speaker. I actually got an answer to my question. It
took a while, but I got an answer. I think it is the answer, but I just want to clarify it. This is another question,
if the member opposite would entertain. I think he said the 11 per cent exemption on certain aspects of
convention business, the question was, would that make a competitive difference in an international market
place to attract conventions to Halifax and to Nova Scotia and I think, if I heard correctly, and Hansard, I am
sure, will substantiate this, is, not a chance. Could I have that clarified? Is that exactly the answer to the
question, not a chance?



AN HON. MEMBER: Not a chance you will get an answer.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North is giving the answer, not someone else.
The honourable member for Kings North has the floor.



MR. ARCHIBALD:  Yes, you tell them, Mr. Speaker. We are together. I think the Minister for the
Economic Renewal Agency got it. I want to congratulate him. Thank you, very much. There is a lot more to
a convention than a hotel room. It was a couple of years ago and there was a convention in this province. It
was agriculture and I spent a little bit of time with department staff in the organization of it. The last thing
that anybody who came wanted to know was, what is your hospital tax like on your hotel rooms? I mean,
nobody even mentioned that and it did not go out in the sales brochures. (Interruption) Yes, they wanted to
know how much the rooms cost and they all said, hmm, that is very competitive. That is fine. They are a lot
less here than they are in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa or Quebec City. They said, we are coming.



I will tell you something that is very significant about it, Mr. Speaker, is they had more people attend
the convention in Halifax than they did at any other location in Canada. They have had them from coast to
coast, year by year. When we were talking to the gentleman at the hotel, he said, well, that is not strange. It
always happens. People want to come to Halifax for conventions. It was the trucking association. You were
probably there, Brooke. Some of your pals were, anyway. There was a trucking association meeting here. They
arrived, not just once in 10 years, they picked Halifax because it was a choice location.



I know the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is having great giggles of laughter and that
is fair ball. The point of it is, people come to Halifax and they come to Nova Scotia because of the beauty,
because of the people, the hospitality. It is not because the Minister of Finance decided to take 11 per cent off
the hospital tax to people (Interruption) Look, if everything was so easy, the Minister for the Economic
Renewal Agency, we would have jobs. Even in Amherst, we would have jobs.



Mr. Speaker, they have hockey tournaments in this area. There is a hockey tournament, SEDMHA.
It is the biggest tournament in Canada. Does that qualify as a convention? Not a chance. When people from
the Valley in the winter, a bunch of people get together and they say, look, we will go to Halifax for the
weekend. Now, they are all arriving. They book their hotel rooms as a group. Is that a convention? What
entails, by this minister’s definition, a convention? It is not a hockey team coming to town, because that would
involve a lot of Nova Scotians and they are not going to get any advantage of this minister. They are not going
to save the 11 per cent. The only way a Nova Scotian can get the advantage of it is if he happens to come to
a convention and not many of us come to conventions in Halifax, but if we do, we are certainly going to save
tax.



So I think if the minister wanted to do something to help Nova Scotians, perhaps he could have just
removed the tax for Nova Scotians and when the convention people come, not say boo about it and just let
them go on and pay because most of the conventions are paid for, not on an individual basis, but they are paid
for by the company.



Now, The G-7 Summit is coming to Halifax and perhaps he had a call from Bill Clinton and Bill
probably said, Bernie, I cannot come. The 11 per cent is too much. Is this is what is going on here because
it sure does not make sense to me and it certainly does not make sense when people come to a hockey
tournament and I know people who are going to a hockey tournament are not on a lavish expense account like
we have been hearing about around here, they have to pay their own way. The parents are coming and the kids
are coming. When you register a kid or two or three and if you are paying all the money to register in minor
hockey and then you buy all the gear, it doesn’t leave a lot of budgeted money left over for some families, but
yet they do come to Halifax, they don’t have the chance for the saving. If the minister wanted to do something
to help Nova Scotians, I would have gone out and said look, if you are having a hockey tournament, no tax
on the room, and Nova Scotians could have taken advantage of this tax saving and seen a benefit from this
government. But rather than help out, no, he decided not to.



Well, you know there is something that is nice about this bill and what it does for the first time
homeowners, they are getting a tax rebate. I think that is in great contrast to over here farther, where the first
time homeowners are going to get a tax rebate on some of the taxes they pay but he is going to stick it to the
seniors on the other hand; on the one hand you help the young people in Nova Scotia and you really put it to
the senior citizens. That is perhaps the thinking of this government, that maybe they feel that by the time there
is an election around, that all these new home buyers will have convinced all the seniors that look, it was a
good thing to do. I am not sure.



This bill doesn’t really do a lot to help local Nova Scotians. It doesn’t help the small, the ordinary -
look, the ordinary Nova Scotian who feels he is getting hosed and he is getting it in the ear, he has no big tax
credit that he can claim, he is not making business investments, he is not in venture capital, he is not going
to conventions, he is an ordinary Nova Scotian trying to make a living. He is saying (Interruption) Yes, ever
since they shifted the money from here to Japan, how much did it go up this year? What is the total debt?
(Interruption) $1 billion in one year, that is some record for the Minister of Transportation.



Well, the Minister of Transportation has an amazing method for mathematics. I know when he leaves
the Department of Transportation he will probably be the Minister of Finance and things will be great because
he can subtract $26 million from $55 million and it is better, he has new math working for him. I think that
is interesting.



The film industry in Nova Scotia is going to get a tax credit, too. Again, an industry that we really,
absolutely have to help. The film industry is in dire straits and they are standing around saying; look, if only
Nova Scotia would cut the taxes for it, then we are going to start making movies in Nova Scotia.



You know the guy who needs a tax break is the local fellow trying to make ends meet. It is not the
film industry; Demi Moore is going to make more money next week than most of the Nova Scotia people are
going to see in 25 years. The folks who made the movie probably could have done it and paid the tax and not
been too concerned about it. But still the Minister of Finance and the Minister for the Economic Renewal
Agency think that the only way to attract people to Nova Scotia is to tell people from away that you don’t have
to pay the hospital tax because the Nova Scotians are going to pay it, so this is good for business; come on in
and get a better deal than we will give to Nova Scotians.



Now who is this government working for? Is it working for the people of Nova Scotia or the people
from Hollywood? I know the minister - oh, my golly, here we go again.



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: . . . if the honourable gentleman sat down, he would actually entertain
a question here.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, your questions are so entertaining.



MR. HARRISON: Well, you know it is interesting, there is a small lesson here, the former Chairman
of the Management Board. We are talking here about return on investment, about an incentive for a film
industry that is now running at about $23 million, and that is not counting all of the wonderful films - that
is the local, domestic film industry - not counting all the wonderful input to Shelburne and to Lunenburg and
even in Halifax the other day, of companies coming here and bringing foreign currency to the Province of
Nova Scotia in a ratio that so far exceeds the input that even Nova Scotians would understand that sometimes
in an international market place it is absolutely critical to make sure there are incentives to remain
competitive.



I guess the question is, does the former Chairman of the Management Board disagree with a policy
that actually takes the revenues that come as windfall revenues and apply them as incentives to attract foreign
currency to the province which allows Nova Scotians from one end of the province to the other to find
meaningful work and productive employment?



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you that was a good question and a nice delivery, he
is getting good. I want you to know and I want to tell you about the fellow who was trying to make a movie
about the Bluenose in Nova Scotia. He is making the movie about the Bluenose in Ontario. Hard to believe
isn’t it because the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency wouldn’t help him finance it. He had to go to
Ontario to help get financing to make a movie about the Bluenose. (Interruptions) They are doing it on Lake
Ontario and they are making big waves somehow and pretending they were in the Atlantic Ocean.



I don’t think anybody came to Nova Scotia to make a movie because Shelburne was in Toronto. They
came because Shelburne is here and I am telling you, I have talked to a lot of people that dealt with the people
that were involved in the two very large movies, Dolores Claiborne and the Scarlet Letter. I talked to Nova
Scotians who were involved with those people and there wasn’t a single one of the visiting movie people who
said, we are not coming back because your hospital tax is too high. That was not an issue with those people.
The issue with those people was the simple fact that Shelburne was there and it has a beautiful unspoiled
harbour (Interruption)



Well, I was in Shelburne, I looked all around and was impressed and amazed. You walk down that
Main Street and you would think you were back 400 years ago and then you look at the building and it was
just a shell. Just like this government, it was just a shell of a real government. They were hiding what their
real goals were. In that election in 1993, they were just making a movie, they hid all their real goals behind
this sham of (Interruption) They are trying it again in this thing right here, this is just a shell for getting at
people like senior citizens.



How can anybody stand up in this House and try to condemn me for sticking up for Nova Scotians,
at the same time that they are sticking it to senior citizens the way this government is. What did this
government ever think the seniors did to deserve the rough and shoddy treatment they are getting. It goes
beyond this budget, it goes beyond the fishing licenses. In this Bill No. 7, it clearly states that the seniors are
not going to be getting any rental subsidy.



One of the goals that I thought the government had was that they were going to keep seniors in their
homes as long as possible. It is nice to have seniors in their own homes. The government has decided that
from now on, seniors are not going to be getting any assistance; if they weren’t getting it last month they are
never going to get it, no new people coming into the rental program. That is going to mean there are more
and more seniors that will have to sell their homes and move probably into government assisted housing.
Now, is this good for the Nova Scotia economy to have houses (Interruption). Oh, well, perhaps . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Order.



MR. ARCHIBALD: All right, Mr. Speaker. You see, that is not helpful. It would be helpful to carry
on with the program so that seniors do have some assistance.



The property tax rebate helps the people stay in their homes. That was a pretty good program but if
you weren’t on it in 1995 I guess it is just too bad. Seniors who are living in senior citizens’ housing
throughout Nova Scotia this year, they have a 4 per cent increase in their rental accommodation. The
government just put the rents up 4 per cent and on top of the 4 per cent, now seniors in the seniors complexes
have a laundry room fee. I know seniors that have family living close by and as kind of a day out, they take
the laundry over to their daughter or their son’s house and they do all their laundry there and have a visit and
fool around and have fun. That does not make any difference, they are now paying a laundry room fee. They
never paid it before, but this government said, look 4 per cent is not enough now we are going to start
charging them for the use of the laundry room, $4.00. Now $4.00 is not a whole lot of money to you or to me
maybe, but if you were on a fixed income, (Interruption) Well, it is probably more than you have in your
pocket, you haven’t anything in your pocket.



[7:30 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: Those personal references are out of order. Please, back to the bill.



MR. ARCHIBALD: The laundry room fee is not fair either. Well, that is not in this budget, that just
slipped in by regulation. So, this is not the only tax grab on Nova Scotians.



The Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is very concerned and he is very excited about
developing Nova Scotia and so on, but look, let us not forget about Nova Scotians and let’s not say the people
are coming here because they want to have lower taxes. Industries are coming to Nova Scotia to make movies
because the dollar in Canada, and perhaps you had not noticed, is now about 40 cents less if you go to the
bank to buy it than it was a year ago. That encourages them to come. (Interruption) Well, you go to the store
and say, I want to buy an American dollar, and the bank is going to say, give me a $1.40. You go to the bank
and try it.



They are coming because the cost of doing business here is lower. They are coming because the talent
that we have available to build the sets, to operate the cameras is available. Because there is not a whole lot
of steady employment in some of our communities, there are people available to be extras on movies for short
periods of time. Sure, movies are great for Nova Scotia. They come in and they spend several million dollars
and then they are gone. It is to be encouraged and I hope we make more movies. Let us not think that by
reducing the tax that they are going to have to pay that this is going to become Hollywood. This may become
Hollywood because of the location, the people and the services that we can offer. This Bill No. 7 is not going
to do a thing for them. The whole thrust of this budget, this bill, this government is looking beyond
themselves, not looking at Nova Scotians as people who have the answer. The consultants they hire come in
from outside. The deputy ministers they drag them in from outside. The only advice that this government
thinks is worth having is something that somebody from away told them. The only people they want to give
a break is somebody coming to Nova Scotia from away to a convention.



A movie company coming here - but the people who built this province, our senior citizens, are
seeing their rental subsidy taken away, they are seeing their property tax rebates taken away and the driver’s
licenses could be the next. The government is looking at Nova Scotians not with any degree of pride. They
are almost looking at Nova Scotians as though they are a beast of burden, just an inconvenience that we have
to muddle along with while we deal with the people we really want to deal with. We want to deal with the
people that come to Nova Scotia to a convention, they are the kind of people that this government seems to
like, or the movie people. Yes, we want to deal with the movie people and at the same time we are going to
put it to Nova Scotians.



I do not know any Nova Scotian that could support this bill, because there is nothing for the ordinary
average everyday working person in Nova Scotia. They are the people that have been forgotten by this
government and that is really not fair. When you consider what seniors have done to build this country - some
of the seniors would be veterans.



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: A question, Mr. Speaker. I have heard over the last number of
moments how violently opposed this member is to the exemption and I assume his Party is equally as violently
opposed to this exemption for hotel rooms at conventions. In view of that, will the honourable member now
stand in his place and indicate that when the PC leadership convention occurs in this province and would
normally qualify for that exemption, will he forego that exemption on behalf of his Party?



MR. ARCHIBALD: I will tell you what, are you speaking personally or am I to speak on behalf of
everybody that goes, all the thousands that attend the convention? (Interruption) Personally, probably the
1,500 or 2,000 that arrive, if it is there and you are the type of government that is willing to give them the tax
free, they are going to take it, they would be crazy not to. You take the cookies when they are going by and
if this minister has the idea, you see, this is why it is so foolish, his thinking is so foolish.



The convention that we have scheduled for next October 26th and 27th at the Sheraton Hotel was
made, the arrangements for it were made prior to the introduction of this bill. But to use his thinking, we
probably should have called Moncton or P.E.I. or something, called them and said, look, if we have our
leadership convention in Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland, will you drop the hospital tax?



That is how foolish this hospital tax is and I am glad that he brought it up. Many times the
convention is coming whether you have the tax or not. We had more people show up and we only had to take
one day to do the voting. I think when it comes to conventions there, slim, you had better go talk to somebody
else. (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: Now, wait a minute. I think matters are getting a bit out of hand. Speakers must
address the Chair.



The honourable Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency.



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: I couldn’t agree more, I think that was an uncalled for remark and I
hope that Hansard perhaps doesn’t record that because I am not sure it is totally accurate. (Laughter) The real
question that I would like to put to the honourable member and I assume he is prepared to respond again,
because he is seated. He mentioned earlier that the consultation process, that we surely must have listened to
people from away on the issue of convention tax breaks, on the issue of film tax credits.



I wonder if he would recall during the Throne Speech and perhaps in many other debates the fact
that it was Voluntary Planning which is a Nova Scotia organization, the TIANS organization, the tourism
industry of the province, it is from the very Nova Scotians who are part of this industry that these kinds of
recommendations come and are listened to by this government and built into tax reform. I wonder if he would
perhaps be willing to correct what might be a misstatement perhaps on his part, that in fact, the consultation
didn’t take place with Nova Scotians but with people from Hollywood or some other place? (Interruption)



MR. ARCHIBALD: Who has the floor here, Buster, come on? Mr. Speaker, I know what the Minister
for the Economic Renewal Agency is trying to say. But the thing is, Voluntary Planning and groups and
associations from around the province have made suggestions to this government. But what suggestions were
followed and what suggestions were adopted? Was there any group in this province who said we want casinos?
Now come on, find the group.



This government, (Interruption) Yes, bingo Bob wanted it, the point is that your taking of advice
from Nova Scotians is very selective. I am sure that in a long package that Voluntary Planning said, well, this
would be something that might be advantageous but in conjunction with half a dozen other things. The only
thing that you took was drop the tax in hotel rooms.






I mean, my gracious, if that is the example of your government listening to Nova Scotians, it is a
pretty weak example. I know that nobody in Hollywood would say that because they are not interested.



You know, conventions are here because they have got to be here in some cases and other cases they
just pick a spot but, truly, why don’t we look after Nova Scotians first? No. What the Minister for the
Economic Renewal Agency is telling me is the first thing they do is they put on the wall all the taxes in every
province. Nova Scotia, they just dropped their hospital tax. We are all going to Nova Scotia. Build more hotel
rooms. Why this government won’t even help finance the hotel at the airport; they are not even confident that
it is going to work. If you were so confident that we were going to be flooded with conventions you would be
building hotels and you would be financing hotels and we would see nothing but hotel rooms being built. Even
this government knows, Mr. Speaker, that building hotel rooms is not going to make us any more attractive
as a destination than we already are. As far as Nova Scotia and Halifax, it does not get any better than it is.



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: I wonder if the honourable member would entertain a short
question? I wonder what the member is saying? In the business world of today, when they seek to hold
meetings, conventions whether it be from businesses that are outside Nova Scotia or within Nova Scotia, is
the member saying that when they select a site that cost is an irrelevant factor? Is that what he is suggesting,
that the cost of the convention is an irrelevant factor because that is what it sounds like he is suggesting? I
wonder, is he saying that?



MR. ARCHIBALD: I think what is not irrelevant is that people from across Canada and across North
America want to come to Nova Scotia and they want to come to Halifax, and one of the things everybody
wants to do the minute they get here is they all want to make a beeline for the Shore Club, for the lobster
supper. Now they can go down to Pier 21 for the lobster supper. There is not a convention that comes to Nova
Scotia that does not have at least one lobster supper and sometimes they have two. Now look, is a lobster
supper sort of like bargain food? What you guys are trying to get me to believe is that conventions are coming
here so they can live cheap, so, they would be having baloney sandwiches, not lobsters. You see what I mean?



This is the whole crux of the problem. You people are confused and the price is not an object in Nova
Scotia conventions because our prices are so very reasonable. Compare the price of a hotel in New York City,
Toronto, Montreal with the price in Halifax. Even with the tax on in Halifax, it is still a better buy. Not only
that, they come because this is where Nova Scotia is. You are not going to find Nova Scotia in Toronto,
Quebec or anywhere else. If you want to go to Nova Scotia, you have to come here; there is no choice in that.



Mr. Speaker, truly, I think I have convinced all members of the House that the tax on hotel rooms
should have been left. (Interruption) I am saying lower the taxes to Nova Scotians. If you have so much
revenue in this province that you can give outsiders their 11 per cent back, why don’t you reduce the tax to
10 per cent for Nova Scotians? Give us back some of the 3 per cent that you put on the power bill last year;
3 per cent on the power bill last year he put on. Give us some of that back if you want to give it to foreigners.
Think of Nova Scotians first, the convention-goers can look after themselves, and that is offshore money; that
is the kind of money we want. (Interruption)



The minister said if I had 12 pals from Kings County having a convention it is not a convention, the
hockey team, not a convention, the baseball tournament. Kentville has more baseball tournaments than
anybody else in Nova Scotia, does that count? No. Last year they had 56 teams playing in Kentville, but that
is a baseball tournament, not a convention. They are going to have to change the definition of convention and
people are going to do that I am sure. They will have a baseball players’ convention and book all the rooms.



So, you know, it is unfair because Nova Scotians, our sports teams, our tournaments, and our college
teams, they are all going to get stuck with it, but the people from away that can afford it that are on an expense
account from a government or a large multinational, they are the ones that can afford it and he is giving them
a break. It does not make sense. (Interruptions) What?



MR. SPEAKER: Order please.



MR. ARCHIBALD. My soul, we have got a request. What about the hospital auxiliary, are they
exempt? (Interruption)



AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, they are; they have exemption.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Are they?



AN HON. MEMBER: If they have enough members they are.



MR. ARCHIBALD: What? (Interruption) Oh at the end he is going to tell us. He is going to have
to figure out where the hospital auxiliary is having their annual meeting in Halifax, or are they having a
convention? You know, it just is totally unfair, Mr. Speaker, because the only people this government is
interested in listening to and catering are people from outside of our province and the local people who make
this province strong and great and come up with the good ideas and are providing the jobs for people are
getting nothing from this government or this budget. When the opportunity arrives, I certainly will be voting
against this bill. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I have just a couple of brief comments that I would like
to make relative to Bill No. 7. It is, as is often the case, one of these difficult bills to deal with because there
are some elements here which I support, which I think are helpful and there are a few other provisions in
relation to which I have some reservation and some question.



This bill, and the issue was raised by my colleague for Kings North, this bill would have the effect
of - well to go to the explanatory note - “to remove the four per cent Health Services Tax on tangible personal
property consumed or used in the production or processing of non-renewable resources.”. Well, that in itself
is a reasonable and worthwhile assistance to those who are in the business of producing or processing non-renewable resources, but I think, I really do, I ask the minister when he wraps up if he might do his best to
respond to the question which I think it begs. It begs the question, why are we, as much benefit as this may
be in the non-renewable resource area, why would he not have attempted to expand the relief to deal with
those who are in renewable resource industries in the Province of Nova Scotia, which are absolutely vitally
important in the terms of the integrity of the economic fabric of the Province of Nova Scotia?



The problem is, to really do the job, I think, to extinguish all provincial taxes when we get to the
transient accommodation issue. I will not go on at quite as much length as my colleague for King North did
relative to this particular issue, but I think this is a worthwhile provision. However, I would ask, when he
closes if the minister would help me understand, first of all, what is the definition of convention? I think that
is vital. I would like him to respond, if he will, to the observation already made by my colleague for Kings
North and I would repeat it because it is such a truism.



This province is just loaded, annually, every community in this province, with sporting event after
sporting event, hockey tournaments, baseball tournaments, and basketball, and name them all. I recall last
winter, or two winters ago, I stopped for gas at a service station at the Strait and I could not believe it, I was
virtually overrun by about eight buses, 200 young people and probably 50 or 60 parents of those children.
They had just come from a major hockey tournament which, if memory serves me correctly, was held in, I
may be mistaken, but I think it was in Richmond County. A major hockey tournament two winters ago. So
I ran into these six or eight bus loads of young people and their parents and so on.



[7:45 p.m.]



So the point I am making is, and the thought I want to, as did my colleague, the member for Kings
North, put in the mind of the Minister of Finance, and I mean it seriously, that if the definition of convention
can be expanded and stretched and worked in such a way as to include sporting events, I think then this
particular amendment would be going a very long way to assist the financial integrity of hundreds of local
community-based sporting organizations. The minor and amateur sporting community of this province would
be greatly benefited if their travel to certain centres across the province did attract some tax relief of the kind
that is intended to be made available for conventions of 25 or more registered participants. I really would ask
the minister to address that issue.



As far as Clause 6(3), Section 7(12) is concerned, Madam Speaker, and the minister might help me
again here when he wraps up, the principle is established that “A corporation incorporated pursuant to the
laws of a province or Canada is not entitled to the deduction . . .”, this has to do with the Income Tax Act,
“. . . pursuant to this Section unless at least twenty-five per cent of the wages and salaries paid by the
corporation in the taxation year are paid to employees who are resident in the Province and the corporation’s
head office is located in the Province.”.



I really wonder why the minister would settle at 25 per cent of the employees being resident in the
province. It is an accommodation clearly being made to out-of-province corporations. My other question in
relation to this particular issue is, why it is retroactive to 1993? Clause 6(4) says, “Subsections (2) and (3) are
applicable to the 1993 and subsequent taxation years.”. All I want to say to the minister is, I don’t think I
really understand at all why it is he is going back to 1993 with that provision. He may have been engaged in
conversation with his colleague, the Minister of Natural Resources a moment ago, my other question
(Interruption) Oh, well. I did not think that was the section that related to the carry forward, carry back, but
perhaps he might, when he responds, help me with that.



The provisions relative to film industry tax credits, I really think are helpful. There is no question
about that. We cannot kid ourselves. We have enjoyed some success relative to film production here in this
province in the last couple of years for two reasons; even before this present government became government,
there was considerable effort made through the development of the Nova Scotia Film Development
Corporation and making entrées into the Hollywood and the American and the Canadian film development
industry and tremendous work done by such people as Allison Bishop and others in the provincial employ,
whose work was well advanced long before this government became government.



This government, to its credit, has stayed with it, has pursued it and has come forward with this
proposed film industry tax credit, indeed, in the same realm, as you will recall, Madam Speaker, they have
made the public pronouncements they have, relative to the potential development of a sound stage, both
important elements. I give the government full marks for that.



The second reason, however, and we have to be mindful of this, the second reason, at least in my
opinion, that we have in the last couple of years enjoyed some of the success of the film development industry
is a rather unfortunate one, it is that our dollar is so abysmally weak, relative to the American dollar, that it
is in the interest and big time interest, in financial terms, of particularly the American production houses, of
coming to places like Nova Scotia, as they do to other places in Canada, to avail themselves of not only our
magnificent scenery and our talented people and so on, but to avail themselves of the reality of the
international money market.



So we have to be, I think, mindful and I trust that this Minister of Finance, and through you, Madam
Speaker, to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency and to all the members of the Treasury benches,
that as they pursue their dealings with the film industry and in regard to the film industry, that they are good
and careful that the kind of foundation and base is laid that is viable and has integrity and has future life in
the event and on the occasion of that hopeful day when the economic realities as between the value of the
Canadian dollar and the American dollar change to the credit of the Canadian dollar, which we all hope will
be the case.



I think this is a very helpful . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Kind of I like it this way.



MR. DONAHOE: Well, I hear the defrocked Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency say . . .



MADAM SPEAKER: I think that if you would make an effort not to be side-tracked and I think
calling a minister who has left his portfolio as defrocked is probably a tad inappropriate.



MR. DONAHOE: Well, I know. My friend knows that I mean that in jest. (Interruption) So maybe
as I have been advised, maybe I just better not say it. Okay, I will not say it.



But the comment is made that we kind of like it this way. Well, I don’t know that I like it so much
this way that



AN HON. MEMBER: Great for tourism, great for exports.



MR. DONAHOE: Well, it is great for tourism and it is great for exports. This isn’t the place and this
isn’t perhaps the bill to get into discussion about the relative merits of a stronger or weaker Canadian dollar,
vis-a-vis the American dollar. It might be the place to get into a discussion about the relative merits or
weaknesses or strengths of the Canadian dollar against the Japanese yen, but then again that is another matter.



We have enjoyed great success in the last few years in film development. I mean it sincerely when
I say to this government that they deserve credit for continuing and expanding on the work that had been
undertaken and begun by the predecessor government, and I think some very good work. I don’t think anybody
can take issue with the hard, cold reality that the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation was, in fact,
created by the previous government and evidence of a very real commitment to move in the area of
(Interruption) Well, we will not bother with those rabbit tracks either. (Laughter)



Madam Speaker, the bill has a provision which, again, I would ask the Minister of Finance to
describe or explain or elucidate a little bit when he wraps up, and I refer to Clause 10, the amendment to
Section 19A of the Provincial Finance Act. Section 19A at present reads that the Governor in Council, “. .
. may remit any tax or penalty, including any interest paid or payable thereon, where the Governor in Council
considers that the collection of the tax or the enforcement of the penalty is unreasonable or unjust or that it
is otherwise in the public interest to remit the tax or penalty.”.



[8:00 p.m.]



So, we have on the books of the laws of our province, a process whereby, for good or for bad, the
Executive Council can make a judgment and, in fact, remit tax and/or penalty, and/or interest to a taxpayer.
They can do so on the basis that if they come to the conclusion as a Cabinet, the Executive Council, the
Governor in Council, if they come to the conclusion, “. . . that the collection of the tax or the enforcement of
the penalty is unreasonable or unjust or that it is otherwise in the public interest to remit the tax or penalty.”.



Now we see this proposal here whereby the Minister of Finance wants to give himself an authority
in addition to that which is available to the Executive Council, because what we see in Clause 10 of Bill No.
7 is a provision which says, in essence, notwithstanding the fact that the Executive Council has the authority
to remit and so on, now the minister can remit any tax or penalty - the same words -”. . . including any
interest paid or payable thereon, where the amount of the tax or penalty is ten thousand dollars or less, . . .”.



I see that is the difference, there is no amount described in the existing Section 19A. Here at least
the minister has the good grace to at least limit himself to $10,000 of unfettered jurisdiction, where this
minister or any subsequent Minister of Finance, “. . . considers that the collection of the tax or the
enforcement of the penalty is unreasonable or unjust or that it is otherwise in the public interest to remit the
tax or penalty.”.



My difficulty here is the whole question of remission of tax or penalties or the remission of any
interest that might have accrued or been charged against outstanding tax, that is a difficult concept at the best
of times and a very difficult concept for all of those thousands of people and taxpayers in this province who
religiously pay every single nickel and penny of tax which they owe and they work hard and sometimes at very
great sacrifice to do that. Yet, we have those situations where there is a law in our province which says that
the Governor in Council, the Cabinet, can make a decision that they can remit, they can forgo the requirement
that the taxpayer pay the tax or do all of the things set out in Section 19A.



Now we have the minister coming along and saying that he wants to assume unto himself and for
future Ministers of Finance an authority which would allow him and subsequent ministers, up to a limit of
$10,000, without any reference to the Executive Council, to be able to himself remit any tax or penalty,
including any interest which has been paid or payable thereon, if this minister or subsequent ministers if this
clause were to pass “. . . considers that the collection of the tax or the enforcement of the penalty is
unreasonable or unjust or that it is otherwise in the public interest to remit the tax or penalty.”.



My difficulty is, I don’t, unless I have missed it in other places in the legislation, I don’t really think
that we should allow any Minister of Finance in the Province of Nova Scotia to have an authority unto himself
or herself to remit and forgo tax and penalties and so on up to $10,000 where that minister, on no stated
criteria whatsoever, at all, considers that collection of that tax or the enforcement of the penalty is
unreasonable or unjust.



What does that mean? Who is to say? On what basis is the Minister of Finance to come to the
conclusion that it is unreasonable or unjust to force this particular taxpayer to come up with and make that
payment? Whereas, taxpayer B down the street, may be in similar difficulties as taxpayer A and on what basis,
on what criteria, is the Minister of Finance going to make the judgment that it is unreasonable or unjust to
force poor little taxpayer A to make the payment? But there is some reason, unstated, undefined, in the mind
of the Minister of Finance of the day, to say that taxpayer B should have the relief.



AN HON. MEMBER: Taxpayer B is probably supporting Dr. Savage.



MR. DONAHOE: I do not know who B is supporting and I was not going to make that comment and
I am not going to make that comment.



I am simply going to make the comment on the basis of giving the benefit of the doubt to this and
every subsequent Minister of Finance that this province will ever have, if this is the legislation under which
that minister would be required and empowered to operate, it is wrong.



MADAM SPEAKER: Would the honourable member permit an introduction from the Chair?



To all members in our Assembly, I would like to acknowledge the presence in the Speaker’s Gallery
of His Worship Peter Kelly. He is accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Dixon, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Towill,
who are residents of Bedford and they are visiting the House of Assembly tonight and I would ask them to
stand and receive the warm welcome of the Assembly. (Applause)



I thank the honourable member for allowing me to interrupt him in full flight.



MR. DONAHOE: I, too welcome our guests, who I know are here to make it known that there is very
significant concern about amalgamation in the Town of Bedford and I trust they have had the opportunity to
make those views known to you tonight and to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and to the Premier and
others.



I do not want to be repetitive, I have commented on the principle established by this section. I do not
know whether other colleagues share my concern or not, but I believe that the concern I raise is a very
important and a very legitimate one. I do not think I want and I do not think too many taxpayers will want,
any Minister of Finance, on his or her own hook to be able to say, without any legislated criteria established
that he or she, Minister of Finance, believes that it would be unreasonable or unjust or that it would otherwise
be in the public interest, to allow somebody to forgo tax. I do not understand that. I really do not understand
that.



At least in Section 19A, which is in the bill now, Section 19A(1) which is in the bill now, at least
a decision is being taken by an Executive Council. At least, there is the sense and the reality that a Minister
of Finance has to walk into a Cabinet Room, has to explain to his or her Cabinet colleagues, that it is his or
her intention to forgo, remit the tax, the penalty or the interest and has to secure an approval from his or her
Executive Council colleagues.



MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable members, there are a number of conversations carrying on
simultaneously. It is getting more difficult to hear the speaker. That is happening on all sides of the House
and I would ask you to either try and quiet it down or perhaps take your conversations outside the Chamber.
Thank you.



MR. DONAHOE: I leave it at that and the minister might be kind enough to respond to my concern.
I think it is a very significant public policy concern that I raise and I just invite all other members to think
about it. Do we want - and I refer not only to the current minister - but if this passes, what it says is that all
future Ministers of Finance can on their own, without reference to the Executive Council, without reference
to this Legislature forgo up to $10,000 worth of tax penalty and so on for any given taxpayer. I think that is
a very dangerous piece of public policy, that is all I am saying and I say it as strongly as I can because I
believe it fervently to be a very dangerous public policy position.



This bill before us tonight also has the effect of amending the Senior Citizens Financial Aid Act and
I guess I need help here as well from the Minister of Finance. I guess I really don’t understand why it is that
in Bill No. 7, in Clause 11, we are amending a piece of legislation which has as its purpose the following, An
Act Respecting Financial Aid to Senior Citizens. Section 2, “The purpose of financial aid under this Act is
to provide assistance to senior citizens so that they may remain in their own homes for as long a time as is
possible.”. As you will be aware, Madam Speaker, I am sure as the Minister of Finance certainly is, there are
all kinds of protections, residency requirements and all kinds of things that were built into that piece of
legislation to ensure some reasonableness and integrity. The purpose of that legislation is stated in the Act
itself, Chapter 419 of the Statues of 1989.



So, here we have in the bill before us tonight a proposal that at the tail-end of the bill which has that
stated purpose and has 17 clauses, we have a proposal from this Minister of Finance and this government that
they add a new Section 18, which says that, “(a) on and after April 1, 1995, only those people who are in
receipt of a rental subsidy pursuant to this Act on March 31, 1995, are eligible to receive a rental subsidy .
. . (b) on and after April 1, 1996, only those persons who received a property tax rebate pursuant to this Act
in 1995 are eligible to receive a property tax rebate in 1996 and subsequent years.”. I really am not sure that
I understand the logic or the fairness of the particular provision. It seems to me to fly in the face of the stated
purpose of the legislation being amended, Section 2, “The purpose of financial aid under this Act is to provide
assistance to senior citizens so that they may remain in their own homes for as long a time as is possible.”.



I take it by adding, or proposing to add this section to the Act that the current government does not
believe or support the purpose of the legislation which it now amends. It does not support that we should have
a piece of legislation, the purpose of which is to provide financial aid to enable senior citizens to remain in
their own homes as long as possible. What other conclusion can one draw? I have very real difficulty with the
clause, I think it is again wrong, I think it does a financial disservice to potentially many, many seniors. I
repeat there are protections in the legislation here in the event that assistance is provided and the senior dies,
there are protections for recovery from the estate and so on and I just read this as an assault on one of the very
few and modest policies in place in the Province of Nova Scotia designed to be of some assistance to our
senior population. I don’t understand it. I do not think it is right and I do not think it is fair.



[8:15 p.m.]



This same piece of legislation, Madam Speaker, also would amend if it passes, the Equity Tax Credit
Act. Again, I need some help. I was away from the House when the minister moved second reading and he
may well have addressed that particular issue in my absence, but the concern I have here or perhaps better
characterized, the question I have here is that the amendment, or one of them, to the Equity Tax Credit Act
would have the effect of establishing a new definition of corporation and the bill would provide to
corporations, Clause 12(a)(f), “. . . incorporated pursuant to the laws of the Province, another province of
Canada or Canada;”.



I am a little bit concerned about the rationale as to why, and the minister might help me with an
explanation, we are moving equity tax credit entitlements to corporations which are incorporated outside of
Nova Scotia. I am not sure and maybe I have missed something. I don’t think, Madam Speaker, that this same
piece of legislation and the entitlements available to a company under this legislation carry with it the
requirement for the out-of-province or the Canadian incorporated company that a certain number of their
employees and head office be here by - and I may be mistaken. That provision or that protection, such as it
is, and I commented on that earlier, that does apply in the case of the, Clause 12(a)(f), “. . . corporation
incorporated pursuant to the laws of the Province . . .”. The new small business tax reduction. There, at least,
the section which the minister provides makes a requirement as to the location of head office here in the
province and that 25 per cent, at least, of the wages and salaries paid by the corporation are paid to employees
who are resident in the province. Quite frankly, I did, and I don’t know whether the minister heard me earlier,
I queried why 25 per cent. It strikes me as, frankly, rather a low percentage and it was in that same connection
that I was asking, why is that particular piece of legislation, as it would be amended, the new small business
tax reduction, why is that being made retroactive back to 1993? I really think I would be helped by some
explanation there.



Those, Madam Speaker, are my comments and observations in relation to this particular piece of
legislation. As I say, it is a difficult one to deal with in the sense that is an omnibus bill of sorts and there are
matters which, as I have indicated, are, I think, positive and helpful and which I support, there are others
where I think I have very real problems. So one is torn on whether one supports the legislation or not, being
omnibus as it is.



You know, I just want to close by going back to some of the debate and dialogue that, as interesting
and, some might think, amusing as it was a little while ago, as between my colleague for Kings North and
the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency and others, talking about the relief for conventioneers of the
tax on the accommodation, what wasn’t mentioned in the course of that discussion, and I found it interesting
that there has been relatively little mentioned, is that the unfortunate reality that we are dealing with is we
are talking about an 11 per cent tax which, prior to this government coming into place, used to be a 10 per
cent tax.



I think it is absolutely vital, and I would be very much intrigued to have the minister make an
observation, if he would, when he closes, I think it is absolutely vital that we move in the direction not only
of providing tax relief to certain groups or classes of people, and that is what that section purports to do,
namely people attending conventions, but that we move in the direction of reducing the tax burden that applies
to all Nova Scotians, and, indeed, to our visitors and tourists. I would very much like to hear the minister, as
he closes, to make comment on the timeframe over which he would expect he could realistically suggest to
Nova Scotians that the tax which his government increased might start to see a downward trend because I
think that is fundamental and essential to the long-term financial integrity and the potential for economic
growth here in the province.



I have nattered perhaps unduly long, Madam Speaker, in regard to this bill. As I say, I support
certain provisions. I have very real, fundamental concerns about a couple of the provisions in it. I will listen
with great interest to the minister’s comments when he wraps up and will probably find myself supporting the
bill, only so that it gets on to the Law Amendments Committee and we can have a further and closer look at
some of these provisions. But if the minister was disposed to help with some of the definitional questions we
have raised and some of the questions about retroactivity in the one clause and so on, I would greatly
appreciate assistance in that regard. I will leave my remarks on the bill at that point.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to rise to speak this evening for a
few minutes on the minister’s bill, that I guess you might say it is intended to try to put a little bit more profit
back into a few pockets and to carry out the thrust of what he has spelled out in his Budget Address.



Now when I take a look at the Budget Address, which really gives a lot more substance to the bill
than what the minister did when he opened the debate on it because he basically just stood up and made a few
very brief remarks and maybe some people thought that this would just slip by and nobody would notice, but
in his remarks, in the address, of course the minister said the government has listened to the concerns of the
business community. Everything that this government is doing, quite honestly, appears to be aimed at . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Truer words were never spoken.



MR. HOLM: Well, my colleague from behind says that truer words were never spoken. Of course
when we take a look at what the government is planning in terms of privatization and so on, the minister and
the government have already said that they are planning to privatize at least 71 government services and
programs that they are planning to put on the chopping block, in the fire sale, so that certain groups can make
more money. (Interruption)



But you know, Madam Speaker, while they are talking about listening to the concerns, and I hear
that Mr. Heckle is back, but while they are talking about . . .



MADAM SPEAKER: Order, order.



MR. HOLM: . . . having listened to the business community and they are saying that they are on their
second year of their program to enhance the business community, enhance investments and to reduce the taxes
on the business community, because somehow this is going to be growing the Nova Scotia economy, this is
going to be putting people back to work and it is going to be good for all.









Well, let’s take a look at their budget projections. When you take a look at their budget projections
they are predicting a drop in terms of estimated revenue from income tax, that is the money that is paid by
individuals this year, not because there are reduced tax rates but because less Nova Scotians are working and
less Nova Scotians are making a decent living wage, they are suggesting and predicting that there will be $53
million less in the way of income tax being collected in 1995 and 1996 as a result of this government listening
to business.



What we have here is a continuation of last year’s budget direction, that is to be doing and giving
everything that they can in the way of tax breaks to the business community at the same time that they are
hurting individual families in the Province of Nova Scotia, unemployment is increasing, as they are showing
by their own figures where they are predicting that the revenues from personal income tax are going to go
down. At the same time they are paying for that by eliminating future programs for people like seniors, the
very poor, who depend upon rent subsidies, who depend upon property tax rebates. The most vulnerable, the
poorest in our communities who depend upon those so that they can maintain their own homes so that they
can live in dignity in their own homes.



To pay for that, subsidies and extra grants that they are providing to those who have the greatest
amount of income, they are doing away with programs after this year. Nobody new who would qualify for a
rent subsidy under the existing program will be taken on board.



Is there some projection over there? Do they have some magic wand? Are all of the people in need
going to somehow disappear as a result of this budget? Are the incomes going to massively increase? Are the
elderly, the sick, who are going to now be paying a Pharmacare premium as well, are they going to all of a
sudden have new revenues and they won’t need property tax rebates any more? Is that what we are being told?



We take a look at this bill that is before us, we take a look at the budget. Corporation taxes are going
up, profits have gone up dramatically, they have gone up almost one-third while individual taxes are projected
to go down. Yet the government decides that they have to give more in the way of tax breaks, tax loopholes
for those who can most afford it and that is what this bill does, gives more tax loopholes.



When I say that, there are some good things in the legislation and I do not take any exception to, for
example, the provisions in this that are aimed at helping the film industry. That makes good sense. I have no
challenge, no dispute, no disagreement with that. That has shown, I believe, to pay off, that it has in fact in
terms of the benefits shown that it is going to produce jobs and it is going to produce revenue in the Province
of Nova Scotia. I don’t have any dispute with that. But why is it that the equity tax credit is going to be
increased from $10,000 to $30,000?



Those are the people who have the disposable income and have the most amount of disposable
income and therefore are going to be better able to pay the taxes than those who are now going to be denied
a rent subsidy, those who are going to be denied a property tax rebate which may mean if they are unable to
have the property tax rebate, those new seniors, those new individuals who fall upon hard times, that they may
no longer be able to maintain their own homes and may, in fact, become more costly to the province and to
the people.



We have the government providing up to $100,000 in the way of tax credits to offset, as a result of
this, for those companies that have the onerous costs, the horrendous costs. In the Speech from the Throne
it says, the onerous costs or, excuse me, in the Budget Address of raising capital through public offerings.
Such things as legal fees and filing prospectus and so on.



[8:30 p.m.]



To offset that they are going to give up to a 35 per cent non-refundable corporate income tax credit,
Madam Speaker, up to $100,000 in value. You know, they are not reducing the tax rates for those who are
in the lower and the middle income brackets, not at all. Has the government shown from its actions of last
year where they gave approximately $30 million in tax breaks, did that produce increased employment in the
Province of Nova Scotia? The answer, if you take a look at the statistics, is a resounding no. It certainly has
not led at all to a growth in the level of incomes that Nova Scotians as a whole are making.



Certainly yes, the wealthier are doing better, thank you very much. Certainly yes, the wealthier are
going to have more tax loopholes courtesy of the Minister of Finance and this government as a result of this
budget, Madam Speaker. No question about it. Just in a few instances individuals and small businesses and
those who are trying to get started will in fact receive a few benefits and pluses from this and I certainly think
the temporary tax rebate on building materials does indeed pay off and that is helping to encourage the
housing industry in the Province of Nova Scotia which does need some help. Especially since the wages of
most workers in the province have either been stagnant or gone down and less and less people are able to
afford to build or buy their own home.



We have here the government removing, I call it the casino tax, Madam Speaker. Maybe somehow
the government by removing the sales tax on the designated conventions that would be coming to our city,
the government believes that that somehow is going to be attracting thousands and thousands of new people
who are going to be coming from all across the globe to drop their loonies in the one-armed bandits that are
going to be down the street from us, down on the waterfront.



Well, maybe the Minister of Transportation is suggesting that the machines will be altered to take
the twoonies, the double loonies. Well, I think we have got enough double loonies right now in the House,
Madam Speaker, and I do not know that we necessarily need any more, but I am sure if they can find a way
to get more bucks, more dollars out of individuals through gambling addictions then in fact they will do it.
That certainly is what their objective is and that is one of the major things that they are banking on in terms
of the ways to recover the economy in the Province of Nova Scotia.



I wonder how many of those companies will qualify for these tax credits and tax rebates? I wonder
if the Sheraton or the setting up of the casinos if they are going to qualify for any of that? I wonder if they will,
Madam Speaker, be qualifying for any of the tax exemptions that are included in the legislation that we are
debating tonight? I am sure that they really need a helping hand after the generous package that has been
given out to them.



Of course, we know, Madam Speaker, that the Sheraton right now is projecting that there will be a
grand total of 12,000 new tourists attracted to the Province of Nova Scotia. The government is looking for
those high rollers, those who have $50,000 a day and who will be able to go to the 2nd floor up to the special
gaming rooms for the high rollers. They are hoping to attract thousands of them to the Province of Nova
Scotia and that they will be leaving money by the handful, by the fistful on the gaming tables and in the one-armed bandits. I somehow think that those who can afford to be dropping $10,000, $20,000, $30,000,
$40,000, $50,000, that the government seems to be banking on, if they can afford to spend that kind of money,
I do not think that they are going to be deterred from coming to Nova Scotia, as a result of the modest amount
of tax that is placed on the accommodations. Surely to Heavens, the government can be more creative in trying
to attract tourists to Nova Scotia.



Our accommodations in terms of rates, with respect, are not high, compared to those of other major
convention centres either in Canada or throughout North America. Our rates are not high. You know, we have
in our province, many beautiful areas of this province that certainly will attract visitors to our shores. The
government is afraid, I would suggest, that they won’t get as many coins coming into their slot machines and
into the casinos and that really is what that is aimed at. It certainly is not aimed at the small operators, the
hotel/motel operators across the province of Nova Scotia. That is not aimed at them. It is aimed at the big
operators, the ones who are able to have large numbers of beds and so on, to accommodate conventions. The
amount of the tax is not going to be deterring those people. What that is aimed at is one more little selling
niche in trying to get more people to come to the casinos and try to encourage that. There is not really much
doubt or much question about that. To remove that, that is a primary purpose.



When we take a look at the bill and others have spoken on this earlier. The Minister of Finance,
according to this legislation, will be enabled to remit any tax or penalty where the amount of the penalty is
$10,000 or less. Clause 10, Section 19A(1A), “. . . the Minister may remit any tax or penalty, including any
interest paid or payable thereon, where the amount of the tax or penalty is ten thousand dollars or less, where
the Minister considers that the collection of the tax or the enforcement of the penalty is unreasonable or unjust
or that it is otherwise in the public interest to remit the tax or penalty.”.



When you read that, there are no provisions, there are no caveats in there. There is nothing in that
other than the fact that the minister is going to have to be deciding that. The minister, of course, would be
recommending that to his Cabinet colleagues. Let us say, somebody is lobbying the minister, has the minister’s
ear and they are friends of the government, does this then not give the minister and this government, the
ability to turn away from or decide not to collect, up to $10,000 in taxes, because the minister decides that it
is not in the public interest? On what basis does the minister make that decision? Is it because some friend
has said, a friend of the Liberal Party has persuaded the government that they want to have a $10,000 tax
break, at the same time that the government is saying to senior citizens in the Province of Nova Scotia, you
have to pay $215 for Pharmacare co-pay?



At the same time, that they are saying that seniors and others who need a rent subsidy in order to be
able to remain in their own home or a tax rebate. You only get those if you are in the low economic end of
the scale, not everybody can get that. The levels are very low. Yet somebody here, just because the minister
decides $10,000, that is for one. For two, we are up to $20,000; 10 people, that is $100,000, Madam Speaker
and 100 is $1 million. Just 100 friends of government persuading them that they need to have a tax rebate or
this to be remitted, $1 million can be written off. This legislation does not spell out any terms, conditions or
anything. The minister may remit if the minister decides. Not bad.

 

 

That is a principle, to my friend who was suggesting that I was getting into clause by clause, because
a bill contains, and this one does, many principles. (Interruption) Well, I will not get sidetracked by answering
his question, but if he would like to stand on his feet and pose a question to me, Madam Speaker, I would be
quite happy to answer that question, if he wishes to pose it on the floor.



MADAM SPEAKER: I know you are struggling valiantly to not be sidetracked.



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: A question, Madam Speaker, the member alluded some time ago
to a criticism of the government’s allowing, particularly to low income seniors, a rebate of up to $215. Is the
member suggesting that this rebate should be given to someone other than low income seniors? Is he
suggesting that low income seniors are not the people the rebates should be given to?



MR. HOLM: I say, hello, hello! Is anybody home over there, Madam Speaker? I don’t know where
the member is drawing his question from. (Interruption) I think that I am being encouraged, I might be a little
bit repetitious, but to have to go back and to expand in a little bit more detail and in some time, to explain.



MADAM SPEAKER: Well, I would just suggest that you avoid the repetition, if at all possible, and
stick to your point on the debate.



MR. HOLM: Well, thank you, Madam Speaker, I will try to address the question as precisely as I can.
I pointed out, through you to the member for Hants East, that the government has decided that it is going to
be charging a $215 co-pay for Pharmacare, at the same time as they are giving major tax breaks to
corporations, at the same time that they are saying that the Minister of Finance can, on his own, simply write
off up to $10,000 per corporation or individual who approaches them under Clause 10. (Interruption)



I also pointed out, Madam Speaker, that in this legislation, the government has said, and not getting
into clause by clause because I am not allowed to, but the principle of the points that are raised in a certain
clause that came after Clause 10, they are saying that only people who are now currently in receipt of rental
subsidies, as of March 31, 1995, are now going to be able to receive a rent subsidy in the future. The bill also
says that those persons who were receiving a property tax rebate in 1995 are going to be the only people who
will be able to receive that in future years.



In other words, Madam Speaker, it is quite obvious that the government has decided somehow that
poverty is going to disappear. There are going to be no people who need a rent subsidy in the future. There
are going to be no new people who need a property tax rebate in order to remain in their own home. Yet
somehow, those people who are poorest in our society, who are in the greatest of need, the government has
decided that somehow they do not need a hand any more. But those companies that want to receive up to
$100,000 in the way of a tax credit, to pay off or to counter the costs of setting up that business, Madam
Speaker, they can receive up to $100,000 in tax credit, plus, if the minister so decides, he can forgive them
for another $10,000 a year, any year he wants, for the taxes that they are supposed to remit.



[8:45 p.m.]



Madam Speaker, this government clearly has double standards. The government and the minister
in his statement said, and I will again quote the one line, the government has listened to the concerns of the
business community. Those concerns are that the business community want to make as much profit, some in
the business community want to make as much profit as they possibly can, Madam Speaker. (Interruptions)



This government is listening to certain individuals, certain interests who want to maximize their
profits but you know, Madam Speaker, they are not listening to the community at large. Let me tell you, even
those who are involved in business can also have family members and friends and relatives who are in need
of programs like rent subsidies, who are in need of programs like the tax rebate. They have and know people
who may need those.



I really question, Madam Speaker, if you were to put it to most business community members, if they
would say that those kinds of essential programs should be eliminated, simply so the minister would have the
power under this bill to, without any stipulation here other than that the minister decides it is in the public
interest, to write-off or forgive $10,000 worth of taxes, I would suggest that the majority would say no. Ten
thousand dollars, at $400, let’s say on average for the tax rebates, $10,000 would provide, if my math is
anywhere accurate, something like 25 tax rebates to seniors who need that to be able to stay in their own
homes. One hundred of those will eliminate, as I said before, $1 million, that is 2,500 seniors tax rebates. That
is where this government’s priorities are. They can’t believe for one minute the rhetoric that this is somehow
going to be building and growing Nova Scotia out of the recession we have been in. If they were, if they
believed that these tax breaks were going to be such a great help, they wouldn’t be predicting that the taxes
paid by individuals in Nova Scotia will actually fall by $7 million from what was forecast to have been
collected last year and from $53 million from what they had estimated would be collected in 1994.



If their economic program, that this is a continuation of from last year, was such a success then,
Madam Speaker, one would expect that firstly, the unemployment rates in Nova Scotia would be going down
and secondly, that the level of taxes being collected through the income tax system from Nova Scotians would
be going up. Instead, Madam Speaker, what we see in reality is that this government has somehow or other
or for some reason or other decided to abdicate any responsibility, in terms of trying to come up with concrete
programs to improve the economic situation in the province. Instead, they are trying to say we will give away
more and more in the way of tax concessions and tax breaks to our friends to whom we wish to give that. The
average Nova Scotian, the middle class, the working family, the ones also in the lower income brackets who
are paying the vast majority of the costs, well, those people, what the heck, we will just cut benefits in those
areas where they may need it. What we will do instead is make the middle class and the poor pay more, so
that we can give more tax breaks to those who can most afford to pay their fair share of taxes. That, quite
honestly, I have to say, is what this legislation is doing and it is a betrayal of the kinds of commitments to
social justice and equality that the government had committed itself to when they sought election, not all that
many months ago.



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: I am pleased to rise for a few moments and speak on Bill No. 7. I would
have to term this as a somewhat bitter-sweet bill. (Interruption) No, actually, I don’t agree with the Leader
of the Third Party on everything he said. I do support tax relief and I do support some of the measures
contained in this bill. When I look at the bill, I see certain benefits but I also see certain pitfalls and certain
burdens and I would be extremely pleased if the minister would remove the burdens and just leave the
benefits, but I don’t believe he is going to do this.



One thing I do support, I see the minister is taking a step to increase the attractiveness of mineral
exploration. I support and commend the minister for removing the 4 per cent health services tax. In the riding
of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley we have a small company, Logan Drilling, in the town of Stewiacke, who
employ a good number of employees and this will be an incentive for a company like that to go out, if they
are contracted, of course, by a major company and do some geotechnical drilling or some mineral core
drilling, so for that I commend the minister and I support that provision in the bill.



Madam Speaker, the minister exempts from health services tax, effective April 12, 1995, tangible
personal property consumed or used in the production of processing non-renewable resources. I know and the
minister knows that that most likely will pertain to mineral and mineral exploration and monies that would
be expended in those types of operations. I think it is important that Nova Scotia companies and companies
outside of Nova Scotia see that there is some form of tax relief and that should increase a company’s awareness
in Nova Scotia and not only just for their business but they will also become more aware of where the
government is sitting and perhaps - I believe that recommendation was made by the Taxation Committee of
Voluntary Planning and the minister in his summary can correct me if I am wrong I certainly know that they
contributed greatly to the minister’s measure respecting the equity tax credit, so there are some things in this
bittersweet bill that are certainly worthy of supporting.



As we go further along through the bill, Madam Speaker, the bill becomes a little more bitter. What
I find is that the bill doesn’t really help everyday Nova Scotians as much as I think we all would like it to. It
has been mentioned and it has been mentioned at great length and some people elaborated on it more than
perhaps others that seniors will be hard hit by this bill. The government is, in effect, eliminating programs
that have been dedicated to seniors and they have been dedicated towards seniors for several years. I know
we can’t go through clause by clause and I certainly don’t intend to but if I remember correctly Clause 11 . .
.



MADAM SPEAKER: May I just suggest that you don’t remember correctly Clause 11 because we
are debating the principle of the bill.



MR. TAYLOR: It could be Clause 10 then. I don’t know whether it is Clause 10 or Clause 11, but
nonetheless, it is cited as the Senior Citizens’ Financial Aid Act. You know, there is no help, no relief for a
senior who attains the age of 65 after April 1, 1995, and that is a shame because I think we all support, there
is not a member in this House that doesn’t support trying to keep our fathers, our mothers, our grandparents
in their own home, but this Act does absolutely nothing. In fact, it takes away from that incentive. You cannot
receive a rental subsidy unless you received a rental subsidy before March 31, 1995, and the same can be said
for our seniors who receive the property tax rebate. I know many seniors in my constituency like to stay in
their own home, they enjoy staying in their own home, they are on a fixed income and many of them only
receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement. It is important that we do what we can to keep our seniors in
their homes.



There has been some discussion and some talk about the film industry and just how they will be
affected by this bill. In a lot of cases, the film industry is here and gone tomorrow, no question about it. But
I understand what the government is trying to do. (Interruption) It is gone in a flick, yes. They are trying to
attract the film industry to Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia has a lot to offer. We have beautiful scenery, we have
beautiful people, we have beautiful facilities. Who would not want to come to Nova Scotia?



It seems, you know like I said, it is a bittersweet bill. It has a lot of bitter in it. What really disturbs
me and I have to go back to it, Madam Speaker, is that the government seems as if they are holding our
seniors with scorn and with contempt. I mean, if this government continues to do what I consider
discriminating against our seniors, I think you will find that it is a recipe for disaster. That is exactly what
it is. There is no question about it. (Interruption)



Our seniors were exempted and the previous Liberal Government, I believe it was the Regan
Government that brought in the exemption for seniors respecting fishing licenses. (Interruption) Now, Madam
Speaker, a senior has to go out and pay $16.05 to drown a worm. How many members in this government and
how many members in this House support that? But the principle of the bill is an onslaught on the seniors of
this province. There is no question about it. (Interruption)



MADAM SPEAKER: Now I am going to ask for order. I think the shouts back and forth on the floor
can end. The honourable member need not be shouting himself into the microphone. So let us have some
order in the Chamber, please.



MR. TAYLOR: I apologize, Madam Speaker, and I support you in your efforts to have proper
decorum here in the House. Sometimes that member for Hants East has a way of slipping around from one
seat to another and he tries to antagonize the Opposition. You know, sometimes he does not do too bad a job.



I wonder how many seniors have contacted the honourable members and especially the honourable
member for Hants East about having to go out and buy a fishing license. I bet you there have been a few
seniors who have contacted him. I know there has been some more seniors who have contacted him for
clarification on Pharmacare. A lot of the seniors do not understand and I do not know whether it is that the
government has not done a good selling and I have mentioned to, in fact, the Minister of Health during
debates on his Department of Health estimates that the government maybe should do a little better job in
selling some of their legislation.



Get the information out. The seniors do not know. There is a lot of conjecture, a lot of rhetoric.
Madam Speaker, I have phoned the Department of Health and I want to commend the minister and the
minister’s staff because they have provided us with information respecting Pharmacare and it is important that
we get (Interruption) He never even looked at the bill. I mean there is no question about it. He does not even
understand that Pharmacare (Interruption)



MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, you have no idea who in this Chamber has looked at the
bill or has not looked at the bill. I would like you to restrain your debate to the principle of the bill, please.



MR. TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, Pharmacare is part of the principle and when somebody, well,
anyway we will not dwell on that too long.



Madam Speaker, the Equity Tax Credit Act, now I am pleased that the Minister of Finance has seen
fit to increase the tax credit from $10,000 to $30,000. Coming from small business, tax incentives are
important. For those who think that small business does not pay their way, for those who do not think that
small business does not pay their way, they are badly mistaken. Small business does pay. They pay through
the nose. (Interruption)



When you see a tax incentive, I will tell you, small business, I mean, let us not try to obscure it. Let
us look at it for what it is. When small business, and I would submit a medium sized business looks at the
equity tax credit, they will take advantage of it if they are in a position to. (Interruption) Well, Madam
Speaker, I am not sure if it is for individuals or organizations, I think both will take advantage of it. I would
be pleased if I was in a position to receive a tax credit. If I decide to invest in a Nova Scotia company, I would
be pleased that the threshold has been raised from $10,000 to $30,000.



AN HON. MEMBER: Good government, eh?



MR. TAYLOR: Well, it is a bittersweet bill, Madam Speaker, and there is a federal bill before us now
that reminds me an awful lot of it and I wish they would take some of their bad components out and leave the
good in and we could support it. That is the way I see this bill, the Senior Citizens’ Financial Aid Act, I do
not support that, so I have to vote against the bill because the minister found fit to include that in the
legislation. The bill does have some good components, does have some good provisions. It has good provisions
for small companies.



[9:00 p.m.]



The Minister of Finance suggests that in his first budget over a year ago the government introduced
temporary $3,000 health services tax rebate on building materials used in the construction of new homes by
first time homeowners. It is a very good thing. Who could speak against that? I certainly cannot speak against
it and I don’t intend to. A $3,000 rebate has to be seen as a positive.



Now there has been talk about conventions and conventions will be exempt from the sales tax. The
minister indicated in his, I believe it is called the Budget Address, the minister indicated that convention
activity is a thriving industry in Nova Scotia. I do not think there is any question that it provides a tremendous
business for our hotels and motels. I hope the minister will, and I am sure that he will because he has been
requested to different times here this evening, when he sums things up, I hope he indicates just what
constitutes, in terms of numbers, a convention and perhaps what kind of conventions are eligible. There has
been some talk about our minor sports whether or not they would be eligible and I don’t believe they are, but
nonetheless the hotel and motel activity in the province probably will increase as a result of this.



I do have some difficulty with that because some members have suggested that a lot of the
convention-goers are pretty well, I suppose, financially secure. I have attended different conventions and some
members of this House and perhaps we are, I would submit, all in different financial situations, but a lot of
convention-goers may not be quite as well off as others. Some will see that as more of a benefit, so I cannot
really speak against it, but I can’t really speak in favour of it. It should increase business at our hotels and
motels.



What type of money is going to be spent by the Economic Renewal Agency advertising that fact, that
feature? How is the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency going to get that out to the public, out to
people in the United States, out to people in the rest of Canada? Is the cost of advertising going to exceed the
actual loss that the province is going to incur as a result of exempting convention-goers?



With those few words, I find it extremely difficult to speak too harshly against Bill No. 7, but there
are a couple of components in there I would be much more satisfied if they were removed, but I know the
minister has no intention of removing them, so I will vote against the bill and I will now take my place.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Madam Speaker, I want to rise tonight to spend a few moments to speak
to Bill No. 7, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures.



I have to say at the outset that I think there are some good things in this bill and I think there are
some bad things in the bill. I will take a few minutes and try to tell you what I think is good and what I think
is bad. I know we are not supposed to go clause by clause and I will try not to do that, but one of the first items
in the bills is in regard to the 4 per cent health services tax used in the production or processing of non-renewable resources. It is only 4 per cent now, but I think the fact that we are going to remove that and
encourage the mining in the province, I think it is very acceptable.



I might say that in the minister’s Budget Address to us earlier in the session he said he had talked
to the Taxation Committee of Voluntary Planning, and I commend the minister for doing that, I think that
is important that we listen to the volunteer organizations of this province, Voluntary Planning, to take their
advice. That was certainly one of the items that they referred to, to remove the 4 per cent tax from the
processing of renewable resources.



As it goes on it talks about removal of 11 per cent sales tax on convention-goers. This, as I
understand it, is only for their hotel rooms. It is not on meals or on any other expenses that may occur.



I did ask the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency in the Legislature a number of days ago
about that particular item. I just don’t know how they are going to promote it. It seems to me that a lot of
conventions, people who go to conventions, are on expenses. They are sent there either by an organization
or whatever, maybe they are on their own. I just wonder how many more conventions we are going to get in
Nova Scotia because of the removal of that 11 per cent sales tax.



I am not against encouraging conventions to come to the province, I don’t want you to misunderstand
me on that. If we could get more conventions to come here, fine, but I am concerned as to how much it is
going to cost to promote it and how the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency or the Minister of Finance
is going to advertise that to businesses or organizations that may be coming to Nova Scotia.



The bill talks about new credit, to help companies raise capital. A 35 per cent, non-refundable
corporate income tax credit will be available, beginning in the 1995 taxation year, on eligible costs of
preparing and filing a prospectus, up to a maximum of $100,000. I did talk to my colleague here from Pictou
Centre about I wonder how many companies would be considering filing a prospectus in Nova Scotia. Maybe
there are quite a few but I guess a 35 per cent reduction for them would be commendable and perhaps it may
encourage businesses to do that.



Perhaps when the minister sums up he could tell me how many prospectus were filed, say, in 1994.
He may not be able to have the answer to that question tonight or when we do finish but I would be rather
interested to see how many companies really did file.



It talked about the 4 per cent tax on mining. Last year the government introduced the measure of a
$3,000 health services tax rebate on building materials and we congratulated him for doing that and now he
is going to extend it for another year, which will expire on April 1, 1996. I think that is a big saving for
anybody building a new home, that they are able to recover that sales tax. It is $3,000 and anything we can
do to help young people or any age people, as far as that goes, to build their home, the first time home, we
should encourage them and I congratulate the minister for doing that.



Now it also talks about removing the amusement tax from the performing arts, to help build the
potential of this industry, non-profit performing art production companies will be able to apply for a certificate
exempting their performance from the 10 per cent amusement tax. I get to ask the minister, I would think this
would apply to buildings like the de Coste Entertainment Centre in Pictou, who are a non-profit organization
and I would hope that would be a reduction in the cost of the tickets. Perhaps the minister could answer that
question, too, but I would think the de Coste Entertainment Centre in Pictou would be one that would qualify
under that 10 per cent amusement tax. (Interruption) I didn’t say I was going to vote against it.



The film industry assistance to small, local film makers in regard to cost of production in Nova Scotia
is a good thing. I am not into films, but anybody who saw the film, Delores Claiborne, a wonderful film of
Nova Scotia, and I am sure the member for Digby was proud of the Joshua Slocum, the boat of Brier Island
and the scenery, if you didn’t see it, go and see it. For the price of the movie, it is worth seeing the Nova Scotia
scenery. I don’t know the Lunenburg area as well as some of you would but I could certainly relate to Digby
and to Brier Island and to the pictures that were taken there and I say that is a good thing too, but everything
is not good in this bill, I can’t say that.



The other point I wanted to make was in regard to that section which refers to the rental subsidy to
seniors who become seniors after March 31, 1995. Those seniors would normally be eligible, because of
receiving the supplement, to receive a receipt of rental subsidy but are not going to be eligible. Here sits one
fellow who is 65, getting the supplement, he or she is going to get it and here is another person over here who
turned 65 after March 31st and they don’t qualify. I don’t think that is fair. Only those persons who received
a property tax rebate in 1995 are eligible to receive a rebate in future years. So those people who are 65 years
old who are getting the property tax now because they get a supplement, those who turn 65 won’t be getting
it. That is not fair. So, it puts a person in a difficult position whether to vote for this bill or not to vote for this
bill.



As I said, there are a lot of good things in the bill. I will say how I am going to vote to the Minister
of Transportation in a minute, but I am disappointed that the bill is really hard on the senior citizens. What
in fact they are doing is they are going to end the rental subsidy and the property tax rebate because when
those people who are qualified now pass away, the program will be over. It is as simple as that; it dies with
the seniors. Those who are turning 65 - and some of us are getting pretty close - those who get the supplement
will not be able to receive it this year. I think that is hard on the senior citizens.



Madam Speaker, I didn’t really intend to speak this long on the bill but, as I say, there are some good
things in the bill, there are some bad things in the bill. I don’t know what our caucus is going to do but I,
personally, am going to vote for the bill to go to the Law Amendments Committee so we will be able to hear
any presenters, get their views and I will think about it when the bill comes back to Committee of the Whole
House and give consideration to it then. As I say, I will be supporting the bill. Thank you.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Madam Speaker, I noticed when one of the members was speaking not too long
ago that he referenced the fact that here in second reading we are directed, and quite properly so, to deal with
the principle of the bill. I looked at this bill and found it difficult to define a principle to address. I thought
perhaps that was a shortcoming on my part and not fully understanding just what the word principle means,
I went to the Webster’s Dictionary to avail myself of a clear meaning of the word principle. I find that a
principle is, “a general or fundamental truth: a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine or assumption
on which others are based or from which others are derived:”.



[9:15 p.m.]



I must say that in this relative hodgepodge that we find before us dressed up in the title, An Act
Respecting Certain Financial Measures, I fail to see any of those things which would cause us to be able to
define a principle with respect to this bill.



Not long ago, a young neighbour of ours was married and I was reminded, in looking at this bill, of
an expression that very often is applied to a wedding when the bride is advised to take on something old,
something new, something borrowed and something blue. Well, here we have some things old; for example,
we have the continuation of the rebate on building materials for first time home builders. We have something
new with respect to the assistance provided to film corporations. We have some things borrowed from other
governments in other days. We also have, certainly, something blue and that would be the senior citizens who
are going to be denied the rental subsidy as a result of this initiative by this Minister of Finance and by this
Liberal Government.



It is unfortunate that the bill is laid out in such a way that we have a mixture of positives and
negatives. We do not even have all of the clawbacks in one section and the initiatives which will provide tax
benefits in another section. They are mixed up higgledy-piggledy and one is, therefore, even more hard-pressed to define any kind of principle encompassed in it whatsoever.



MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable members, it is getting more difficult to hear, higgledy-piggledy.
So if you could sort of lower the clamour, I would appreciate it very much.



MR. LEEFE: For example, Madam Speaker, there is a 4 per cent health services tax reduction with
respect to tangible personal property which is consumed or used in the production or processing of non-renewable resources. Now I do not see, and perhaps the minister can help me out here when he closes on this
bill, I do not understand, and this may well be a failing on my part, how this provision dovetails with this
government’s stated commitment, to the concept of sustainable development, particularly in this case with
respect to the sustainable development of non-renewable resources.



Well, there is nothing in the explanatory notes or in the body of the bill itself or in the minister’s
introductory remarks to suggest to us what incentives or disincentives are built into this tax measure to ensure
that by further driving forward the non-renewable resource industries in this province, that that will be done
in a sustainable way. Now this is the minister, Madam Speaker, that I hasten to remind you, is also the
minister who chairs the Priorities and Planning Committee of Cabinet. Surely that committee of Cabinet,
which should be coordinating every economic effort in this province in such a way that it, in fact, does follow
the basic principle laid down by this government and by the one-time Minister of the Environment, now
Minister of the Economic Renewal Agency, that all economic development in Nova Scotia will be done in a
sustainably developable way. There is nothing here which gives us any cause to hope that any thought was
given to ensuring the sustainable development of these resources through this fiscal measure.



As we all know, we are used to having command control, regulatory regimes available with respect
to protecting the environment and we are greatly encouraged by business and by modern thinkers who look
beyond command control techniques to look to using fiscal instruments, taxation instruments in order to create
sustainably developable economies.



We do not see this here. This is a very simple measure on the face of it but, in fact, it could have a
negative impact on the environment of Nova Scotia, on our capacity to develop our non-renewable resource
industries in a sustainable way and it behooves the minister to explain to us in taking this measure, not how
it might be done but how, in fact, he is going to build into this, in his capacity as Minister of Finance, in his
capacity as Chairman of the Priorities and Planning Committee, in his capacity as the principal Minister of
the Crown other than the Premier, to ensure that this basic tenet of government policy, that is sustainable
development, is going to be realized and not undercut by this measure.



I also have listened carefully to the arguments with respect to the proposal which would seem at first
blush to support the tourism sector and, which the minister and several other ministers have advised us, were
requested by the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia itself, that is an exemption from the health
services tax for transient accommodations that are associated with those persons who attend conventions. For
a very long time I have listened to many people involved in the tourism industry in this province who talked
about the high cost of taxation here, the high cost of providing services to tourists and how those costs, among
others, have a detrimental impact on our capacity to draw tourists into Nova Scotia.



Well, let me say to you that if it were true that significantly reduced costs and lowering of taxes was
the major way to attract tourists into a particular area then today Europe would be empty. There would be no
tourists there, they would be flocking here. I, for one, am sick and tired of people in the industry, and outside
of industry, here in Nova Scotia running around and wringing their hands and apologizing to visitors in this
province for the high cost of things here.



The people who come to this province come here and they get a bargain. You visit any jurisdiction
in the United States of America and almost assuredly when you pay your accommodations bill you are going
to be paying state tax and you are going to be paying city tax. Mr. Speaker, you will never get one penny of
that rebated. Yet, when anybody from a foreign country comes to visit this province in this country, they know
that all they have to do is to file a very simple application and they can have every penny that was spent on
the goods and services tax rebated to them. It is much easier to get the GST rebated here than it is for you or
me in the United Kingdom or other countries in Europe to have the value added tax rebated, a much more
complex and a much more difficult system there.



People talk about the high cost of fuel here. Yes, fuel does cost more here but let’s also remember that
the American gallon does not equate necessarily to the Canadian litre. Let’s remember also the many other
ways in which people can come here and have a very cost-effective vacation, not the least of which is a very
favourable exchange rate. It is very favourable for Americans, it is even more favourable for most Europeans
but particularly, for the Germans and that is one reason why Germans come here, because they know that the
Deutschmark has a very high rate of return to them with respect to spending it here in Canada.



I am fed up with the people who run around apologizing for the high price we charge people to come
and share Nova Scotia with us. I think they get a pretty good bang for their buck, thank you very much. I don’t
think we have to go around and apologize for ourselves and introduce measures of this nature in order to
attract tourists here to Nova Scotia. People not only will come and enjoy themselves once but will want to
return again.



Mr. Speaker, we should be doing everything we possibly can to assist new home buyers, first time
home buyers here in Nova Scotia. It is increasingly difficult for young couples to acquire the hard-earned
dollars they need in order to pay for housing here in this province. This is particularly true as we find at least
outside the metropolitan area, and I am not so sure that this is not also true of the metropolitan area as well,
that young couples are finding it more difficult to have dual employment in a family, that most of the burden
is once again falling on the back of a single income earner, with perhaps the other partner in the couple
earning a few dollars here and there through sporadic work, yet those young people aspire, just as you and
I did when we were their ages, to being able to buy their own homes. One of the ways we can do that is to
provide fiscal measures which will give them real, honest encouragement and cause the cost to be somewhat
less to them. In this instance I say that this is a good measure that is built into the bill and it is one that I think
the minister should take a bow for and I am pleased to see it is here.



I noticed there is also, again with respect to economic development, reference to research and
development tax credits. Now what we are supposed to have with our bills is explanatory notes which tell us
in a pithy way the substance of each of the measures laid out in the bill. I must say that I find less than pithy
and less than self-explanatory the notation “. . . makes several technical amendments . . .”. I think it behooves
the minister to explain to this House and to Nova Scotians just what those amendments are. Surely the
minister is not suggesting that Nova Scotians are not sufficiently well educated to be able to understand the
technical side of these amendments. I would hope that before he takes his place, after moving second reading
of this bill, that he will be a little more forthcoming with respect to explaining to Nova Scotians the technical
side of those amendments and exactly what they will mean. That is pretty fluffy language for a tax bill. The
minister deserves, and Nova Scotians, to be on the mark and explain precisely what it is that he intends to do.
If we don’t understand it, that is fine, but he should assume that every Nova Scotian is capable of
understanding it and he should explain it in exactly that way.



  Mr. Speaker, I should also say that I find interesting the references to a new small business tax
reduction, to corporations and cooperatives incorporated outside the province. Then we find out that there is
a little caveat to that, two, in fact; one that 25 per cent of the wages paid have to go to residents in the
province and that the head office has to be in the province. I don’t understand why the minister didn’t simply
have one clause which offered that reduction simply to corporations that have their head offices in this
province and are incorporated in this province. Perhaps there is a rationale for that. I don’t know and I look
forward to his explanation respecting it.



I read with interest the tax credit which is going to be made available to the film industry, 35 per cent
of the eligible expenses to a maximum of $100,000 with respect to that sector. Over several years now there
has been a growing interest in and growing participation by the film industry filming here on location in Nova
Scotia. It began in a relatively modest way and has grown increasingly through the years, so that Nova Scotia
is now beginning to develop a pretty fine reputation, not only as a physical location because of our geography
and our climate, but also because it is seen to be a place where the communities in which filming is done are
capable of providing all of the necessary types of expertise to cause it to be able to put a film together and to
shoot it and to can it and then to present it to the public.



[9:30 p.m.]



Anybody who took the opportunity this summer - to give one example - to go down to Shelburne and
have a look at The Scarlet Letter being filmed there, could see what a tremendous impact that film making
has on the economy of Nova Scotia and particularly on local economies. While that film was shot in
Shelburne, it nonetheless had a very positive economic impact on communities from Clare in Digby County,
right down through Yarmouth County, up through Shelburne County and at least into Queens County and,
indeed, into Lunenburg County, as well, now that I think of another example. So most of southwestern Nova
Scotia had a very significant economic benefit apply to it as a result of the shooting of that film over a quite
a long period, over several months through this summer.



My colleague, the member for Pictou West, referenced the filming of Dolores Claiborne. There is
another film which is now going to be made, I understand, in Chester, and so we should be endeavouring to
use fiscal measures in order to continue to attract these people here to Nova Scotia.



What I would ask of the minister is to explain to us, and I am sure there is a rational explanation,
how the $100,000 level was arrived at. They must have done some figuring to settle on that particular amount
and perhaps he can help us there. Presumably, this was done not by the Department of Finance in isolation,
but in consultation with people in the industry and some solid advice must have been given to the minister
in this respect.



There is, again, one of these inexplicable explanatory notes with respect to Clause 9 in the bill and
I would ask the minister to help us out with a full explanation, which indeed may be simple. The minister is
pretty good at explaining things and that is, what the technical amendment is that is requested by the
Department of Finance. What does it do? Is it of any real significance? Clearly, we are required to change the
law, but why are we required to change the law? I think the minister would want to explain that to Nova
Scotians.



I am uncomfortably inquisitive with respect to the tax measure that the minister proposes whereby
any minister, and I am not referring specifically to this minister because it would be unfair to suggest that he
would do anything untoward, but none of us can set bond for his successor, why is it that a measure is being
introduced which would allow the minister himself, not the Executive Council, not the House of Assembly
which by all traditions has the power of the purse, to remit any tax or penalty where the amount of the tax or
penalty is $10,000 or less? I do not understand why that is so.



Most men and women who work and earn livings in Nova Scotia pay every penny of tax which is
required of them. They pay it out of their pay cheque and their provincial and their federal income tax. They
pay it when they go to the store in their provincial sales tax, and on the goods and services tax. They pay it
when they go to the gas pump when they pay their tax on their gasoline and diesel fuel or their oil that they
purchase. Very, very few Nova Scotians have any way in which to be able to escape paying a tax that is
required of most Nova Scotians to pay.



I know, for example, in my own community, of many fishermen, who have been caught up in the
difficulty of not having taxes taken from them at source and they intend to put it aside, many do. Some, for
whatever reason, find they are unable to do that and they end up in trouble with Revenue Canada. Revenue
Canada does not say, well, in your case, you do not have to pay it. Revenue Canada says in every case, you
have to pay it because, as a citizen, you are responsible for meeting the payment of any taxes that are due by
you.



I wonder what kind of circumstances could possibly arise, which would cause a Minister of Finance,
sitting in his office across the street in the Provincial Building, to look at any particular case and say, this
person owes $10,000 or less in taxes, I am going to write that person a letter and say, do not worry, you do
not have to pay?



You do not have that opportunity, Madam Speaker, I do not and I do not believe any person in this
House does. I do not believe there are very many Nova Scotians who do. So, it behooves me to ask the
minister, who are the Nova Scotians, who potentially are going to benefit from this and why should they
benefit from this? What will the cost be to the taxpayer, because if the minister loses revenue, as a result of
remitting these amounts, then surely that revenue has to be picked up somewhere else and where is the
somewhere else? The somewhere else has to be in your pocket, in my pocket and the pockets of all of those
people who do not have tax remissions available to them. I do look forward to the minister’s description, with
respect to that.



Perhaps the greatest travesty in this bill, is the title which is applied to this section which references
senior citizens. This is the amendment to the Senior Citizens Financial Aid Act. Well, Madam Speaker, in
this instance, we see the seniors once again having their economic security eroded by this government. In
small ways and in large, this government has taken action, fiscal measures, policy measures, which militate
against the senior citizens of this province. Whether we look at Pharmacare, whether we look at the closure
and the downsizing of local hospitals and the requirement there for senior citizens in rural areas. They have
to drive further to try to or even arrange for someone else to drive them to get treatment, whether we are
talking about fishing licenses or whether we are talking about rental subsidies, as is the case here.



The senior citizens in this province, have been hit hard by this government. I do not understand why
it is necessary for the minister to reduce this rental subsidy, a subsidy which is certainly required by so many
senior citizens across this province, particularly, senior citizens who live in areas where there is a low vacancy
rate and therefore, the cost of rents are higher than in areas where there are moderate or high vacancy rates.



Nova Scotia is not the same everywhere. In fact, very often what one finds is that seniors and renters
in small communities in Nova Scotia have to pay proportionately more out of their income for rent than is the
case for people who live in the cities. That is because the vacancy rate is very often much lower in the smaller
communities and therefore, the rents that the market can demand are higher. I do not, for the life of me,
understand why this minister, has chosen in this bill to further erode the economic interests of the senior
citizens in this province.



There is another equity tax credit advantage provided in this bill. This time, this one gives 25 per
cent to 30 per cent. It moves from 25 per cent to 30 percent. It increases the maximum investment from
$10,000 to $30,000 and I think that probably, if that has a measurable outcome, that will be a good thing.



This is a bill of bits and bites. I really don’t see any kind of a focus, let alone a sharp focus here. I
don’t see what Webster would define as a clear, concise, comprehensive principle in this bill. I don’t see
anything in this bill, for example, which would enhance the long-term development of the smaller
communities and the rural communities in this province. Community economic development, if it is affected
by this bill at all, is affected only obliquely. I don’t see this as a bill which is going to have a significant impact
on the overall economy or the overall economic direction of this province. It is a bill which is going to have
a positive impact on some groups, but it is going to have a very negative impact on some people who can
afford it least and, most particularly, on the senior citizens.



So it is a bill of little principle, a bill of some interest and a bill of only sporadic benefit. There are
some measures in it that I like. I always think, excepting in the case of the most odious of legislation, that it
is important to give any bill an opportunity to pass through second reading and go on to the Law Amendments
Committee where the general public have an opportunity to address it. I look forward to hearing what the
senior citizens have to say about this bill in the Law Amendments Committee; I look forward to hearing what
other groups who are adversely affected, as well as those who are positively affected by it, have to say at the
Law Amendments Committee and, for that reason, I will be voting for the bill at second reading.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Madam Speaker, let me say at the outset that, as my two colleagues
in the NDP caucus have already indicated, we will not be voting for this bill because we think there are a
couple of very fundamental principles in this bill that represent severe violations of, really, the concept of
fairness and equity. So, in that regard, although there are some positive measures in the bill - and I had the
opportunity to make reference to those when I had an opportunity to respond to the Budget Address by the
Finance Minister and I will again refer to them in my wrap-up - the basic thrust of this bill is not one that we
are able to support because, frankly, it is a very unfair budgetary document in terms of the differential impact
on different segments of Nova Scotia society.



I am not the first to make this point, that it is extremely disappointing when a Finance Minister
stands up to introduce a bill and I don’t know whether he uttered three sentences or four sentences when he
did that, and we are talking about a bill with many different implications for many different groups of Nova
Scotians, we are talking about a bill that implements a budget of (Interruption)



Well, that is right, we now have a little help here from the Minister of Finance’s cheering squad, that
we already heard the Budget Speech so what do we need to hear any explanation about the budgetary measures
for? The fact of the matter is that when you go through this bill there are a great many things about the impact
of these budgetary measures on which the Budget Address was absolutely silent and now, because of the
sparseness or almost non-existence of explanatory notes, we are absolutely no further ahead, thanks to the
Minister of Finance, in being able to fully understand what the implications are, what the impacts are of the
various measures that are here proposed.



Certainly, a careful combing of the Budget Address doesn’t leave us any the wiser. I suppose if one
considers the political implications instead of the real human considerations and consequences of this budget,
it is not surprising that the government did not choose to outline in any kind of detail who really are to be the
beneficiaries of these budgetary measures in the main and who are really to pay the penalties, who are really
to be negatively impacted and who are to be in receipt of the positive impacts of these budgetary measures.



[9:45 p.m.]



Well, I suppose, Mr. Speaker, you do not have to go very far to see that, in general terms, the day
after the budget was introduced, you had an almost unanimous round of applause from those representing the
interests of the big business community, the major corporate citizens in this province. Although I think it is
interesting that even some of the usual spokespersons for business raise the question of whether there were
not, in fact, some measures in this budget that are not even of such important consequence to business that
they were justified, given the fact that there are a number of really quite mean-spirited measures in terms of
who is going to pay the penalty for the general thrust of this budget, which is one of being almost entirely
consumed with what will benefit the corporate elite in this province.



I think the Minister of Finance did sum up these budgetary measures with a fairly honest statement
that really the only thing that is of real importance to this government is that it allows the government to say
that we have moved ahead with promised tax reductions, underscored the fact that Nova Scotians, in the
coming year, would be burdened by $31 million less in taxes than in the previous year. That is where the
explanation stopped, Mr. Speaker. What the minister failed to do in his Budget Address and certainly failed
absolutely to do in his introductory comments to Bill No. 7, is to give any real explanation of who those Nova
Scotians are that will benefit from the $31 million in tax reductions and who those Nova Scotians are and
what their circumstances are that will be paying the price for that $31 million of tax revenues forfeited by this
government’s tax measures.



Now, Mr. Speaker, I might say that earlier today I had a chance to attend a senior citizens forum
where there was a discussion about health reform in general and an extremely highly respected advocate on
behalf of the interests and needs of seniors in this province, herself a wonderful senior that is, perhaps, best
known to many Nova Scotians as the host of the long-playing, although not still playing, program called
Seniors in Action, carried on cable TV across the province for many years, a woman by the name of Roberta
Way Clarke, who comes from Cape Breton but has more recently been living in the Halifax-Dartmouth area.
I see that the member for Cape Breton South is nodding, I believe in approval, so I have his attention, not
necessarily because of the views she espouses but because there may, in fact, be some blood relationship there
to the member for Cape Breton South. Well, you don’t always get to choose your relatives, but if you could
choose to be related to Roberta Way Clarke, I am sure there would be no one that would not be honoured to
be related to her.



In any case, Mr. Speaker, in talking about what kind of indicators there are, what kind of societal
indicators one can identify that reveal the health of a citizenry and the health of communities or that would
indicate healthy communities, the foremost indicator that this senior citizens’ advocate referred to was that
of what sort of income spread there is between the rich and the poor in a society. By actual research
documentation there is considerable evidence that the greater the gaps in a community and in any jurisdiction
- and that follows for a province or a nation - where there are immense gaps between the rich and the poor,
then it goes without saying it is almost axiomatic that you have a higher incidence of unhealthy citizens and
unhealthy communities.



Conversely, Mr. Speaker, where there are narrower gaps between the rich and the poor and, most
importantly, where the gaps between haves and have-nots are narrowing, by and large there is substantial
evidence that you have both a healthier citizenry, you have healthier people and healthier communities.



Now, Mr. Speaker, for that reason I think it is a fair test to look at this budget, if we are serious in
this province about the overall priority of this government being to promote healthy citizens and healthy
communities, that it is a fair test to apply to this budget. What is the impact of these budgetary measures?



MR. SPEAKER: Excuse me, is the debate on the budget now? I thought we were on Bill No. 7.



AN HON. MEMBER: Oh but she was away for a while. (Laughter)



MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I am glad you have rejoined us because it is exactly on the impact
of this budget and specifically on the budgetary measures that are contained within Bill No. 7 that is now
before us that I am addressing my remarks to.



MR. SPEAKER: Oh, I see, we are now on the bill.



MS. MCDONOUGH: Maybe I can use a couple of examples to illustrate my point, Mr. Speaker,
because I would hope that not just you but that all members would be concerned about this topic. We have,
for example, in this budget . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Budget? This is Bill No. 7. (Interruptions)



MS. MCDONOUGH: . . . in this bill implementing the budgetary measures, considerable pride being
taken by this government in having introduced exemptions from the health services tax for transient
accommodations purchased by a person attending a convention.



I want to take a few minutes, Mr. Speaker, to talk about who really are likely to be the beneficiaries
of that particular budgetary measure. I would like to juxtapose, I would like to compare,  the beneficiaries
of that particular budgetary measure with those who will be . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I fear this discussion is too wide-ranging to be addressing Bill No. 7 on second
reading.



MS. MCDONOUGH: I don’t believe it.



MR. SPEAKER: The debate has to focus on the bill and on the principles of the specific measures
contained therein.



AN HON. MEMBER: Tell him the clause number.



MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I am speaking precisely about the budgetary measure that
provides for exemptions from the health services tax for conventioneers. If I start talking in detail about the
specific clause, you will tell me that this is not a clause by clause debate. I am talking about the very principle
that I feel is the most important principle that you can put any budget to and that is, how fair are the measures
in this bill? Therefore, I am going to compare those who are going to benefit from that particular measure in
Bill No. 7 with those who are going to be paying a price for another very important measure in this bill, which
is the elimination of some very important financial assistance, small amounts of assistance admittedly, but
nevertheless extremely important budgetary assistance measures for senior citizens in this province. I think
that that is not only pertinent to the bill but that is the ultimate test to which any budget in any democratic
jurisdiction should be put. Is it fair? Is it equitable? Does it do anything to try to create a better sense of equity
in terms of how people are treated by their government in regard to budgetary matters?



We hear, of course, the government trying to sell the measure that proposes basically a tax break for
conventioneers as being ever so important to our tourist industry. Who could argue against the importance
of our tourism industry? I don’t think anybody trying to consider what the real purpose of this measure is, who
are really going to be the beneficiaries of it, could seriously advocate that it is going to be tourist operators
and those involved in the tourism industry across the province that are going to benefit from this measure
because first of all, by and large, conventions tend to be scheduled, tend to be located in the largest urban
centres, primarily in Halifax-Dartmouth metropolitan area, industrial Cape Breton and to a much lesser
degree to some of our smaller facilities in places like Digby Pines and Keltic Lodge but to a very much lesser
degree. I don’t think there is any question that those who are going to benefit from such a tax exemption are
going to be the operators of the largest hotels in a couple of the largest centres in this province.



I don’t know what that does to fulfil this government’s commitment to small business, to try to spread
across the province greater prosperity, greater economic activity, certainly seems to be completely out of touch
with this government’s supposed commitment to community economic development. But, I don’t think it is
just with the view to anybody benefiting that this government has seen fit to introduce this measure. I think
that what will never be possible to really fully ascertain, be impossible to really document but I don’t think
that there is very much mystery surrounding what the real purpose of this budgetary measure is and that is
to make sure that the casino operations to which this government (Interruption)



MR. SPEAKER: There is only 60 seconds left this evening, 60 seconds left. Do you want to adjourn
the debate?



MS. MCDONOUGH: If you would like me to adjourn the debate right now, Mr. Speaker, I am quite
happy to do that. I was once again making the mistake of looking at the clock over the Speaker’s head which
says five minutes to ten but now that you have reminded me, I am supposed to be watching the clock on my
left, then I would be pleased to adjourn the debate.



MR. SPEAKER: The debate is adjourned.



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, we will be sitting tomorrow from the hours of 12:00 p.m.
until 8:00 p.m. Following Question Period we will be doing Committee of the Whole House on Supply in the
Chamber. The Minister of Justice has advised me that Law Amendments Committee will be sitting in the Red
Room and following Supply in the Chamber we will be going back to Public Bills for Second Reading. I move
that we adjourn until 12:00 p.m. tomorrow.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of
12:00 noon.



The motion is carried.



[The House rose at 10:00 p.m.]