Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017


Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Third Session

2:00 P.M.


Hon. Paul MacEwan


Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like to call the House to order at this time to commence this afternoon's proceedings.

I am advised by the honourable member for Inverness that this lapel pin is available, Canada Remembers 1945-1995. It is a pin to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of VE Day, which took place on May 8, 1945. If any honourable members want these pins and do not now have them, the honourable member for Inverness is quite happy to provide them to you. He has a limited number available.

Are there any introductions of guests? If not, we will commence the daily routine.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, today I wish to tender a petition signed by approximately 150 residents of the Milford area in Hants East. The operative clause in this petition is, "Whereas this is the normal pattern of travel for the majority of our residents . . .", is in the central area. The petition is, "1. That the area generally falling within the Boundaries of the Municipality of East Hants be included in the Central Health Region, and; 2. That the area falling within these Boundaries be given representation on the Central Health Board and that both these actions be done at the earliest date possible.".

Mr. Speaker, I have signed this petition and I fully endorse its contents.


MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition from approximately 150 Nova Scotians requesting, ". . . a Small Option Home to provide developmental opportunities as well as a chance to provide a good quality-of-life to people who have survived brain injuries.". I have affixed my name to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.




MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs.

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to announce that the Department of Municipal Affairs will be making changes in the way personal property is registered and secured throughout the province. These changes will bring the process of registering personal property security in line with practices elsewhere in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to announce that this is the first project that has been approved under the new Innovation Fund that was announced in this year's budget by the Honourable Bernard Boudreau. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, existing legislation dealing with personal property is very much outdated and I hope to introduce new legislation this fall which will improve the environment for commercial activities in this province. This legislative reform process will be undertaken jointly with the Department of Justice. There will be one Act and one province-wide system. There are several reasons for an overhaul of the system. Currently there are four main Statutes: the Bills of Sale Act, the Conditional Sales Act, the Assignment of Book Debts Act and the Corporations Securities Registration Act. Each Act has its own set of registration and affidavit requirements.

Registration is still on a county basis in a Registry of Deeds office. There is no provision for a centralized province-wide registry to ensure the protection of financial interests in a more mobile society. The existing registry is paper-based and offers no automated search capability. The net effect is a fragmented, costly and cumbersome system. For many years, the financial and legal communities have expressed great frustration over the existing system. Increasingly, the difficulty in searching documents is causing individuals and firms to actually abandon the system.

For example, when a consumer buys a used car today, that individual could have to conduct a manual search in 21 registry offices throughout the province to be certain that there were no outstanding debts against that vehicle. Most people take a risk that they are not assuming someone else's debts rather than attempt to use the existing system.

The new personal property security legislation will streamline registration processing and enable the use of a virtually paperless personal property registry system. The benefits of such a system include: a significant reduction in paper burden and storage costs for registry operations; self-entry of information by clients, allowing them better control over information transferred into the system; vastly improved search capabilities, allowing potential purchasers of personal property a fair degree of assurance of the financial encumbrances, if any, on the item, with regard to what they are purchasing; substantially improved security and control over personal property records and a major increase in the level of service to clients by the institution of electronic registration and search, a particularly important feature to the business community and the banking community. The long-term goal is for the business community to be able to do searches directly from their offices.

In addition to this legislative reform, Mr. Speaker, work will also begin on implementation of a new automated system in registries throughout the province. The Department of Municipal Affairs, which operates the existing personal property registries, intends to pursue development and implementation of an electronic registry through a partnership with the private sector. Plans for the system to be in place in late 1996. My department will be issuing a proposal call within the next two weeks, to select our partner, through the government's Cooperative Business Solutions process. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to rise and respond positively to the statement just now made by the Minister of Municipal Affairs. As the lawyers in the House will know, as the minister has said, this is a change and an improvement which has been sought by the legal community and many in the business community, particularly the banking community, for some time and is an important advance.

I do have a couple of questions or concerns, though, that seem not to be addressed by the statement made by the minister. The minister has said that each of the Acts to which she refers in her statement, the Bills of Sale Act, the Conditional Sales Act, the Assignment of Book Debts Act and the Corporations Securities Registration Act, each has its own set of registration and affidavit requirements. What she does not say in the statement is that each has its own special and unique and complex legal implications as well, or legal consequences.

I am concerned that I have not heard from the minister in this statement that there will be either a White Paper or draft legislation made available well in advance of her introduction of legislation here in this place in the fall. I would be very disappointed and, frankly, she would be causing herself - I will tell her right now, through you, Mr. Speaker - mountains of unnecessary grief brought about not by members of the Opposition political Parties but by the legal and business and banking communities, if she doesn't show in advance exactly what she proposes to do, either by way of White Paper or draft legislation.

There is no question that (Interruption) The Premier has a problem? The statement goes on to say that in addition to the legislative reform, work will begin on the implementation of a new automated system in registries throughout the province. I want to say to the minister in that regard as well, I think it is vitally important that she prepare and her officials disseminate a document which outlines the way in which even the broad parameters of the way in which that automated system is intended to work because we are not only dealing with the legal community and the business community but, as well, we are dealing with thousands of ordinary, everyday Nova Scotians who engage in automobile transactions and the like. If they are expected to get into this automated system, then it has to be as user friendly as it possibly can be. I think there should be as much advance detail provided as to exactly how it will work.

Having said all that, I think without question, Mr. Speaker, the thrust and the principle and the concept is a very viable and important and positive one. I support the initiative but I very sincerely ask the minister to produce some documents in advance that let the entire provincial community know what the system will be and how it will work. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, welcome the announcement made by the minister today. I think it is time that we certainly streamline. We currently have a system that is outdated and it is extremely difficult for consumers, as well as those in the financial and legal industries, to be able to access and to get all of the information in, in a timely and in a cost-effective fashion. So, I do certainly support the initiative.

[2:15 p.m.]

I do not claim to be a legal eagle and I take the reservations that were raised by the Leader of the Official Opposition to heart. It seems to make a great deal of sense, because, of course, these Acts would all have special requirements and so on for the legal purposes and those certainly need to be addressed.

I note, however, at the very end of the announcement, that the minister sneaked in a little bit more of the government's philosophy and that is, that they plan to go into their new private partnership, Mr. Speaker. In other words, another way of saying that the government plans to contract this service out or at least that is the implication and it sounds like that is what they are planning to do, with absolutely no mention whatsoever about the employees who are currently working in those various areas, in those registries and no assurances that those individuals will have employment with the government when the day is done. It sounds like this is another way where the government is trying to, for the benefit, maybe, of some private partners, increase their profits at the expense of public employees. I hope that is not the case and I hope the minister will elaborate more fully, talking about retraining that may be necessary and reallocation of employees so that government employees who have served this province well will not find themselves out of work as a result of what otherwise appears to be a positive initiative. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition with an introduction.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to introduce to you and through you to all members the Grade 8 Canadian Government class from Armbrae Academy, which is in my constituency. They are here this afternoon with their teacher, Mrs. Irina Sfimov. I had an opportunity to speak with them briefly before the House was called into session and they have had a little bit of a tour of the House. They are here to observe Question Period. They have been studying Canadian government, studying Parliament and studying this Legislature. I would invite them to rise and to receive the usual warm welcome of all members of the Legislature. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to announce that the Student Internship Employment Program is being offered again this year by the Province of Nova Scotia.

Under this program approximately 300 forestry related jobs will be available to Nova Scotia students this summer. It will provide summer jobs for 300 high school and university students from the middle of June until late August. Under the provincial government funding approved for forestry development purposes, a budget of $800,000 is provided for these jobs.

High school and post-secondary students who are 16 or older and who are residents of Nova Scotia will be eligible to apply. Application forms for these jobs were sent to the Department of Natural Resources field offices late Tuesday and will be available in most offices Thursday and Friday. Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of all MLAs, I have asked for a docket of application forms to be circulated to each and every one here today so you have them for your own constituency offices. They will also be available next week at the Canadian Employment Centres across the province. The deadline for receipt of applications will be Friday, May 26.

Students employed under this program will assist Department of Natural Resources staff in a variety of forestry related projects such as boundary line clearing and maintenance, forest protection, wildlife research and forest renewal. Our government is pleased to provide funding for this employment program. It creates summer jobs for 300 students and gives them a practical introduction to possible careers in forestry related work.

As members of the House know, the Student Internship Program was a component of the Federal-Provincial Forestry Development Agreements in Nova Scotia until this year. Although the federal government has decided not to renew forestry development agreements, the province has approved funding to carry on with high priority initiatives such as this particular program.

Our government's willingness to provide 100 per cent financial support for this program demonstrates our 100 per cent commitment to the young people of this province.

In addition to the 300 jobs provided under the Student Internship Program, my department is maintaining another 130 seasonal jobs this year in parks operated by the province. To help offset the cost of these 130 jobs, $300,000 has been provided by the Economic Renewal Agency. This contribution by the Economic Renewal Agency is part of a $6.2 million summer employment program announced in March.

These programs demonstrate a significant commitment by our government to help provide summer jobs for students and for the unemployed. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for this announcement and I am sure students right across the province also consider this to be a very high priority initiative. They will certainly most welcome this announcement.

The minister indicated to me informally somewhat that the governments are expending the same amount of money as they did last year and they hope to create approximately the same number of jobs. For that we certainly are very pleased and we welcome that the department is not cutting back on the Student Internship Program.

Some of the employment programs that the minister talks about in here, we note that the students will be involved with such projects as boundary line clearing and maintenance, forest protection, wildlife research and forest renewal. I hope the minister has updated and refreshed himself with the forest renewal project because I think it is important that we all are aware of our forests and the forest renewal in this province.

When we talk about students and forestry renewal, I must say how disappointed I am that the minister saw fit to close the Musquodoboit Valley Forest Nursery and Education Complex, particularly the education component of the Musquodoboit facility. For the last seven years some 8,000 to 10,000 students from across this province went to that facility and learned about everything from seedlings, to harvest, to wildlife, to the environment. It is important that we support our students not only in terms of internship programs but it is important that we educate our students about the forestry. Some 22,000 people are indirectly employed with the forestry across this province.

MR. SPEAKER: Are we veering from the topic of the announcement?

MR. TAYLOR: We most certainly are.

MR. SPEAKER: I agree.

MR. TAYLOR: The minister suggests that the government's willingness to provide 100 per cent financial support for this program demonstrates our 100 per cent commitment to the young people of the province.

In Question Period not too long ago, the minister informed me that the department is in a clean up year in respect to the Nova Scotia-Canada Forestry Agreement. He also indicated that there are about $8 million left in transitional funding or clean up funding. I just want to say that the minister, while he indicates that the province is providing 100 per cent financial support, one has to ask why there are no federal dollars involved. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I too, as I am sure the 300 successful applicants will be, am pleased to hear the announcement from the minister. I think it is important though that we acknowledge the fact that the federal government has backed off on its commitment to this province in the past couple of years and is still holding off on signing any agreement. The end result of all of that is a reduction in the amount of money that is available to, whether it is the Department of Natural Resources or the Economic Renewal Agency or whomever, for the Government of Nova Scotia to create summer employment opportunities for students. That is a concern for all of us, certainly for the students of this province and for members of this Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, I would urge the minister and his colleagues on the Treasury benches to do what they can to make sure that the federal government does not back off on their commitment to Nova Scotians, to members of this country, Canada, that live in the Province of Nova Scotia.

The honourable member for Cumberland North, with an introduction.

MR. ROSS BRAGG: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to members of the House, sitting in your gallery, the Mayor of the Town of Amherst, Mayor Gouchie and Councillor Maltby, who are here today to meet with some ministers and attend Question Period. (Applause)


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.


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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Agricultural College was established in 1905 by farmers of this province; and

Whereas the college is the only agricultural degree-granting institution in the Atlantic region recognized as the leader in research; and

Whereas the college is celebrating its 90th Anniversary this year;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Principal Dr. Les Haley, staff, faculty and students on this most important anniversary celebrating 90 years of agricultural education in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.


Bill No. 14 - Entitled an Act to Declare the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever to be the Provincial Dog of Nova Scotia. (Mr. Allister Surette)

Bill No. 15 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Regulation of Plants of the Genus Ribes in the Town of Bridgewater. (Hon. Donald Downe as a private member.)

Bill No. 16 - Entitled an Act to Dissolve The Kentville Memorial Park Commission. (Mr. George Archibald)

Bill No. 17 - Entitled an Act to Dissolve the Kentville Rink Commission. (Mr. George Archibald)

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


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.


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

Whereas yesterday Nova Scotians were surprised to learn that the government has postponed its plan to bring its new Pharmacare Program on line for seniors until July; and

Whereas, coincidentally, this is one month after the Premier's date with destiny; and

Whereas hundreds of seniors are fuming mad at the government and at the Premier for forcing them to pay into a plan they want absolutely nothing to do with and have vowed to send a loud, clear message to the Premier and the government;

Therefore be it resolved that this government not hide behind the lame excuse of delays in appointing a board of trustees and they have the courage to share with the seniors the information of their so-called "good news announcement" before the Premier's leadership review.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[2:30 p.m.]

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.


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 Cumberland County Council is tonight hosting a public meeting of all local elected councillors to deal with the prospect that their residents will be the only Canadians forced to pay for driving on their own stretch of the Trans Canada Highway; and

Whereas councillors will know that privatization will change neither the original two-year schedule from start to completion of construction, nor the route chosen by the Conservatives; and

Whereas councillors may not know that the toll barrier will be placed near Oxford on the existing, 100 per cent public route because tolls for the western alignment alone would never pay for it;

Therefore be it resolved that instead of avoiding public discussion, the Premier, Transportation Minister and Liberal MLAs should release all information and admit that Highway No. 104 privatization merely covers up the unsafe and expensive delays, diversion of funds, higher taxation in the form of tolls and Liberal flip-flops on route selection.

MR. SPEAKER: That sounds like a very convoluted resolution. Let me take a look at that. (Interruption) I am sure it was quite good but maybe it should have been broken up into parts, then it would have been better. I do ask that these resolutions be kept reasonably short so that they can be intelligible.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

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

Whereas, time and time again, Liberal MLAs are refusing to face their constituents and to be accountable for the decisions of their government; and

Whereas the most recent example is the member for Cumberland North reneging on his promise to attend a Cumberland County Council meeting and to explain this government's plans to introduce the province's first toll highway on the Trans Canada Highway system; and

Whereas the member for Cumberland North explains this flip-flop by saying he doubts the meeting would be productive and he has nothing further to say on the issue;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Cumberland North and his Liberal colleagues begin demonstrating some accountability, that they fulfil their obligation and promises to their constituents by attending meetings in their ridings and, failing that, they do the honourable thing and resign their seat in the Legislature.

MR. SPEAKER: I will not that accept that motion. I feel it is out of order. The reason for my ruling is that the resolution is framed in either/or terms, which is not acceptable. The resolution should either say resolved that the member should resign or as a separate resolution, resolved that the member should do such and such, but I don't want either/or resolutions because they don't say anything really clearly, it is one or the other.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.


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

Whereas Nova Scotia's young entrepreneurs will meet in Halifax for a Young Entrepreneurs "Going Places" Banquet and Trade Show on May 5th and 6th; and

Whereas the Young Entrepreneurs Trade Show at the Park Lane Mall, Saturday, May 6th, will provide participants an opportunity to develop marketing skills and display their products; and

Whereas many of today's young entrepreneurs will be tomorrow's business persons;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislature congratulate the Young Entrepreneurs of Nova Scotia, the trade show organizers, Fairbanks Entrepreneurial Society, Young Business Owners of Nova Scotia and encourage the public to attend the Young Entrepreneurs Trade Show.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.


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

Whereas the Opposition is dragging its heels on the replacement of their Leaders; and

Whereas the Liberal Party is the only Party of true leadership in the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas our honourable Premier, through his actions, has gained the respect of Liberal Party members from one end of this province to the other;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House confirm that the Premier is the finest Leader of any Party in Nova Scotia, as the Leaders of the other Parties go on acting as Leaders, undoubtedly, for some time to come.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice on that motion.

MR. SPEAKER: The request is for waiver of notice.

Do I hear several Noes?

I think that I do.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Transportation.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bring him into the Cabinet and he will say almost anything.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation has the floor.


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

Whereas Richmond County native Mike McPhee has announced he will retire from the National Hockey League; and

Whereas Mike has enjoyed a long and productive career with the Montreal Canadiens, the Minnesota North Stars and the Dallas Stars; and

Whereas Mike has been an excellent ambassador for the game of hockey and the Province of Nova Scotia, always giving 100 per cent effort for both;

Therefore be it resolved that this House, on behalf of all Nova Scotians, thank Mike McPhee of River Bourgeois for the years of entertainment and thrills and wish him well in his retirement.

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

MR. SPEAKER: There appears to be agreement on that. I will put the question now.

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

The motion is carried.

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, I would also ask that you convey those well wishes to Mr. McPhee, I will provide you with his address.

MR. SPEAKER: As long as the address is provided, yes, by all means.

The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.


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

Whereas a recent survey shows that 95 per cent of Nova Scotians interviewed are either concerned or very concerned about family violence; and

Whereas the survey showed that the level of concern over family violence is immense and on the rise; and

Whereas the Family Violence Prevention Initiative, a partnership between government and community, has just concluded a six month provincial awareness campaign during which hundreds of Nova Scotians participated in local events throughout the province to help prevent family violence;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the ongoing efforts of the Family Violence Prevention Initiative to help Nova Scotians make this province a safe and secure place for family life.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.


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

Whereas on September 9, 1993, the Premier declared that the search for new deputy ministers "will bring invigorated ideas and momentum to the public service of this province"; and

Whereas more than $2 million later, the government has admitted that severance payments to Economic Renewal Deputy Minister Art Battiste who "wasn't working out" are adding to the financial burden and demoralization of this purge; and

Whereas the number one priority of this government was supposed to be jobs and a community-based economic strategy;

Therefore be it resolved that in the opinion of this House the Premier has joined Nova Scotians in expressing non-confidence in Liberal economic performance by clearing out his own senior Economic Renewal team without confessing it cost yet another severance pay-out.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.


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

Whereas Atlantex Limited, of Head of Chezzetcook along the Eastern Shore, has received a $165,000 contract to construct an exhibit in Boston, Massachusetts depicting the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site; and

Whereas Atlantex, with a staff of between 12 and 20 highly skilled employees, has its own complete in-house production facility; and

Whereas the Louisbourg exhibition is just one of a growing list of impressive projects undertaken by Atlantex at the national and international level;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the staff of Atlantex Limited for having received the contract to build this prestigious international exhibition and acknowledge the quality of excellence which this Eastern Shore company is recognized for.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.


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

Whereas the honourable Premier is a man of great courage and conviction; and (Applause)

AN HON. MEMBER: Kiss, kiss, kiss.

MR. HOLLAND: Now fellows, just because you guys have no courage or convictions doesn't mean you can get all wound up. (Interruptions)

Whereas, Mr. Speaker, under the leadership of the honourable Premier (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Under the leadership of the honourable Premier, carry on.

MR. HOLLAND: I suspect that I have much more confidence . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, address the Chair, please. One must learn to ignore the rabbit tracks.

MR. HOLLAND: I enjoy responding to them, Mr. Speaker.

Whereas under the leadership of the honourable Premier, Nova Scotia has undergone dramatic change from the practices of the past, as was promised in the last election; and

Whereas both Opposition Parties are stuck in a vacuum of leadership, which is evident in the haphazard way in which they carry out their duties;

Therefore be it resolved that we applaud the leadership of the honourable Premier, as he leads Nova Scotia into a 21st Century of prosperity. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency.


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

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia is interested in helping Nova Scotia companies identify products and services for export to other provinces and, in fact, the world; and

Whereas the Source Canada Vendor Award is part of a new program designed to increase the number of Canadian manufacturers working in partnership with Canadian Tire; and

Whereas Mr. Curtis Levangie, of Trail Blazer Saw of Halifax, a manufacturer of portable bucksaws, has been named one of the five national winners of the Canadian Tire Source Canada Vendor Award and the only Atlantic Canadian company;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly recognize Mr. Levangie and his employees for their competitive attitude and spirit of excellence in manufacturing and service and congratulate him for this national achievement.

I ask for waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.


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

Whereas on May 1st, a researcher, acting on behalf of the Premier, called the NDP office to obtain public information about the requirements of the Nova Scotia NDP Constitution; and

Whereas the Premier and his researchers may not know that the NDP Constitution, leadership selection rules, vote results, audited financial statements and other relevant information are freely available; and

Whereas it is understandable that Liberals would hide under the cloak of anonymity and assume that politics are conducted with the secrecy of the back room;

Therefore be it resolved that in the opinion of this House the Premier's research methods illustrate just how qualified he is to offer advice about dealing with issues of political Party leadership.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.


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

Whereas six math students from Amherst Regional High School recently received awards for placing in the top 25 per cent of a national math contest; and

Whereas the six students, Suzanne MacNeil, Peter Milner, Sheri MacLean, Kirsten Anderson and Keri Gray, have all displayed outstanding excellence in the study of math; and

Whereas these students achieved a high standard of excellence in the national math tests, sponsored by the University of Waterloo, who tested approximately 76,000 students from 1,700 schools across the country;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the six students for receiving this national recognition, along with Stephen Blum, the Principal of Amherst Regional High School and Mike Roach, the head of the math department.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice and passage without debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.


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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture is recognized as a general farm organization to represent the voice of farmers of this province; and

[2:45 p.m.]

Whereas the government consults with the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture on issues affecting agriculture; and

Whereas this organization is celebrating 100 years of existence and activity in 1995;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture on the celebration of its 100th Anniversary.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice on this motion.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.


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

Whereas Jeremy Noble is a Grade 12 student athlete at Middleton Regional High School; and

Whereas last summer Jeremy attended a Blue Chip/All Star basketball camp in Kentucky, along with 300 other basketball players; and

Whereas based on his performance at this camp, Jeremy has been selected to participate as a player for the United States Stars and Stripes All Star Team that will tour Australia this summer;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to this fine athlete and encourage others to support Jeremy Noble as he represents Nova Scotia in Australia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice on this motion.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.


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

Whereas between May 9th and May 15th, 50 Prince Andrew High School students will begin a survey of East Dartmouth residents to determine community safety needs; and

Whereas this survey will result in a report that will see East Dartmouth being the first part of the city to be served by community policing; and

Whereas this neighbourhood analysis of policing needs will result in a system ideally suited for the East Dartmouth community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the efforts of the Prince Andrew High School students, their teacher, Mr. Greg King, and the Dartmouth Police Force and wish them well as they embark on this very important community policing project.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice on this motion.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.


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

Whereas the new tea room called, Chezzetcook Tea Room and Crafts will open in West Chezzetcook on May 11th; and

Whereas this new tea room, a project of Bernadine Richard, Wanda Fitzgerald and Gwenna Perri will seat 40 people, featuring home-style cooking in a Victorian country setting; and

Whereas Chezzetcook Team Room and Crafts is another example of a growing, innovative spirit along the Eastern Shore providing high quality tourism establishments to further the growth of tourism along the Eastern Shore;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates the proprietors of the Chezzetcook Tea Room and Crafts on the opening of their tea room and extend our best wishes for their successful business.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice on this motion.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.


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

Whereas yesterday the separatist Bloc Québecois was successfully fighting to weaken the few protections of national standards in Bill C-76; and

Whereas Bill C-76 amounts to repeal of the Canada Health Act; and

Whereas not one of the 48 Liberal and Conservative MLAs in this House would take 10 minutes to participate in yesterday's late debate on Bill C-76, which abolishes federal transfers and cost-sharing for health, education and community services;

Therefore be it resolved that when Nova Scotian experience the dramatic new decline in their standard of living and essential services caused by Bill C-76, they should remember May 2, 1995 as a day when the Nova Scotia Liberals and Conservatives showed their true metal.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Before we advance to Orders of the Day I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 p.m. this evening. The winner this afternoon is the honourable member for Victoria. He has introduced a resolution reading:

Therefore be it resolved that the Official Opposition should ask questions in self-examination of their past and possible future. So we will hear contemplation of that matter at 6:00 o'clock this afternoon.

I am also asked to advise honourable members of the House that today is the birthday of the honourable Minister of Fisheries. (Applause)

With that, we will advance to the Oral Question Period. The time today being 2:50 p.m., the Oral Question Period will run until 4:21 p.m.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance. I wonder if the Minister of Finance could tell this House, what is the magnitude and nature of the business done between the Province of Nova Scotia and the Royal Bank of Canada, on an annual basis?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: I thank the honourable member for the question. Of course, I do not have the information. I will take the question on notice and provide it at a later date.

MR. DONAHOE: By way of supplementary, I wonder, to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, if that minister would tell this House how much the Royal Bank of Canada paid for this minister's trip to England, France and Germany?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I do not have the details of that, having just returned. Not only are they sponsoring the Nova Scotia Days that took place in the capitals of Europe but also in America. That is part of the contribution of the private sector to the G-7 organization and ultimately a gift like that would be tabled under the normal expense claims of this House and under the rules and procedures of expense claims. Needless to say, I do not have the details of that information right at the moment.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, I do not suggest that it is the case necessarily with this minister, but the filing of expenses and so on has been less than detailed and accurate.

By way of final supplementary, I ask the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency whether or not that minister believes that in any way accepting this largesse from the Royal Bank of Canada, in light of the fact that he is the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency for the Province of Nova Scotia, whether or not he believes that that compromises in any way, shape or form his ability as minister to deal with any number of potential business development opportunities for the Province of Nova Scotia, those involving the Royal Bank of Canada, indeed, those potentially involving other competing banks here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, this is a rather interesting ethical question. We have the Royal Bank and chartered banks providing taxes to the Government of Nova Scotia. Here we have a situation where a once in a lifetime opportunity to host the world on a world stage is attracting private partnerships, in the sense of donations to part of the infrastructure and support and, in this case, the opportunity to support the showcasing of Nova Scotia in European and American capitals. I do not believe it compromises my ability to function. In fact, I think one of the things that one would want to say in this House is that private sector sponsors that are making a successful G-7 Summit possible here in Halifax should be complimented by this House of Assembly. That would be my thought.

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


MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question through you, sir, is to the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Certainly citizens of this province should not be expected to pay twice. They should not have to pay through tolls for something that has already been paid for through the public purse. My question to the minister . . .

MR. SPEAKER: This would not have anything to do with Bill No. 10, would it?

MR. HOLM: No, Mr. Speaker. It has a great deal, however, to do with the ministerial statements and the government's policies and plans.

My question to the minister is quite simply this, will the minister, here and now, announce that as a matter of policy, no tolls will be collected on any section of road that has already been built and paid for by the public purse, whether that is in a form of taxation already collected and paid for or fuel taxes. Will he make that a statement of policy?

HON. RICHARD MANN: No, Mr. Speaker, we have already announced that the intended location for the toll collection system on Highway No. 104 is on a section of road that has already been built.

MR. HOLM: Is it not the case, my question is to the minister, Mr. Speaker, that the reason that the government has then chosen to place a toll between Oxford and Thomson Station, is that the minister's own consultant's report tells him and his government, that the tolls on that section of road to be built, are not sufficient to pay for the cost of that section of road?

MR. MANN: No, Mr. Speaker, not that I am aware of.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister would not mislead. Is it not the case that the government has chosen to place the toll between Oxford and Thomson Station because the consultants have suggested that that will mean they can capture 31 per cent more vehicles and 24 more per cent revenue and that unless you do it that way, the project is not viable? Is that not the case?

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, where the member may be getting confused is that it may have been stated that the revenue from tolls by themselves will not support the construction and maintenance of the highway. However, with approximately 30 per cent public equity, then we anticipate that there will be sufficient revenues generated and the report will say that.

To look at where the member is obviously trying to go, the question here, what he is trying to say, is that if we put the toll booths in a different location, the toll collection system, will that jeopardize the revenue sufficient to maintain the highway, to have it constructed and maintained? Yes. If we allowed everyone an exemption, we would probably not have the revenues to construct the highway. Our choice here, Mr. Speaker, which no one should lose sight of, is our alternative is to build this highway, using a public/private partnership, or not to build it at all, because the funds are insufficient to do that. (Interruptions)

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

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, we can visit and revisit again and again the issue of why the money was not sufficient on Highway No. 104 to complete this section of highway. That is not a decision that was made by this administration, it was made by the previous administration.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I want to follow up with the minister, if I may, on matters which she and I touched upon recently and it has to do with the status of the Halifax Harbour clean-up. The Grade 8 Canadian Government Class from Armbrae Academy, whom I introduced to all members earlier, have provided a couple of questions to me and colleagues. They would like to know and I would like to follow up as well on that same issue. You advised earlier that certain work had been undertaken and certain studies were being undertaken. I don't want you to tell me about the steps that are taken necessarily as of today, but what is being done about the clean-up of Halifax Harbour, which is needed now because of what is deposited or has been deposited in the harbour over years past? Can the minister tell us whether there are any steps being taken to address the residue that is there now?

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I think the member is quite correct, we had some discussion on the harbour clean-up before. One of the things that has come forward over the last number of years and, particularly is on the table at this point in time, is the at-source control. One of the things that the municipalities have identified and are trying to deal with, is controlling what actually goes into the harbour at this point in time and from there, would have a better idea of what the clean-up really should look like.

I would cite the City of Dartmouth which, at this point in time, is looking at and trying to come forward with a proposal on Dartmouth Cove, to expend money there to deal with the five outfalls that are going into Dartmouth Cove. So, it is the at-source control, trying to control what goes into the harbour.

[3:00 p.m.]

As I did mention, Duffus Street is doing some of that work. There has been $20 million put into Mill Cove to upgrade that plant as well.

MR. DONAHOE: I have just one supplementary, to the minister. Earlier the minister indicated that she was, and I think I quote her accurately, opening it up, meaning the clean-up, for an opportunity for public/private partnering.

I would like to ask the minister if she will tell this House whether or not requests for proposals for such a public/private partnering have, in fact, been issued as of yet?

MS. JOLLY: No, Mr. Speaker.

MR. DONAHOE: I have a final supplementary, which I didn't expect to use. Mr. Speaker, by way of that final supplementary, would the minister please tell us when it is that she expects these calls for proposals for a potential public/private partnering, relative to Halifax Harbour clean-up, will, in fact, issue?

MS. JOLLY: I think as I have noted and as the municipalities certainly have noted, it is something that with Halifax Harbour Clean Up Inc. there had been development coming forward for a project that ended up to $400 million, which nobody could afford. Based on that fact, I think everybody has gone back to the drawing board. There was consideration for a private sector firm to come forward and do some development of what a harbour clean-up might look like but the municipalities have decided they would like to work on this at-source control aspect first and foremost. So there isn't anything at this time that is specifically timeframed that will be coming forward. I would hope that would answer the honourable member's question. Certainly the municipalities have had numerous discussions among themselves and there were discussions at the Halifax Harbour Clean Up board. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Is there a new question?

MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, just in summary, the harbour clean-up is one of those things that the four municipalities are in the process of having some discussion on. A number of the municipalities, as I mentioned in the first part of my answer to the question, a number of the municipalities - Dartmouth, Halifax, Bedford and Halifax County - are doing some proposals on their own at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable Leader of the Opposition.


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: I would like to ask a question, if I may, to the Minister responsible for the Lottery Corporation. I am prompted again by requests from the Grade 8 Canadian Government class at Armbrae Academy. They would like to know, as would I, Mr. Speaker, just what this minister would say to them and to this House as to what she believes will be the benefits, if any, of the establishment of a casino gambling regime here in the province, in metro, and in Sydney?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I believe the member opposite referred to me as Minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation? The Lottery Commission?

MR. SPEAKER: I believe he did.

MRS. NORRIE: The question then was - would you restate the question for me?

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I simply want to ask this minister if she would describe what she believes to be the benefits to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia of the establishment of gaming casinos here in the City of Halifax and the City of Sydney?

MRS. NORRIE: I believe that question should be referred to the Minister of Finance, who is responsible for the Gaming Corporation, which is the business end of the casino enterprises and gaming in the Province of Nova Scotia.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable Leader of the Opposition for that question. As he is aware and as all of us are aware, we have debated that for some considerable period of months here. But if I can sum it up as briefly as possible, there are a number of benefits to casino operations, not the least of which is an anticipated revenue probably on an annual basis of $50 million to $60 million. In an age of cutbacks, for example, when over $300 million will be removed from our transfer payments by the federal government, this is another $50 million or $60 million we won't have to remove from education, health, transportation and all of the other services provided by government. That is one reason.

The second reason is about 1,100 full-time, good paying jobs. So there are 1,100 Nova Scotian families who will be taking home a regular pay cheque and with all of the economic spinoff benefits that implies. The third thing, and this comes to us from the tourism industry, from the hotel industry and others, we think there will be a spinoff benefit. It will provide another entertainment option in this province and, hopefully, either will bring people to Nova Scotia who wouldn't be here otherwise, or for those people who are coming anyway, perhaps they will stay an extra day.

MR. DONAHOE: By way of supplementary, the Grade 8 students to whom I have referred and I would like to address it to the Minister of Finance, why it is that, and we have had this debate before, why it is that no socio-economic studies were done to verify that some of what the minister has just said now in his earlier answer is accurate and not just speculation?

MR. BOUDREAU: There are a number of reasons for this, and as the honourable member says, we have debated this at some length here. We have had the experience, we had the actual experience of at least six other provinces who are engaged in casino operations. We did not feel that it would be very productive or very useful to speculate on what differences there might be in Nova Scotia to these other provinces.

However, with the establishment of the new Gaming Commission, one of the mandates legislated by this House of Assembly was to monitor that type of socio-economic impact study. I am happy to tell the House that the commission is already in place and taking this part of its responsibility very seriously.

So the new Gaming Commission, although I am not directly responsible for the regulation any longer, that is the Honourable Eleanor Norrie, I can tell you with some confidence that this commission is on the job, that they are doing a vastly improved job on regulating the gaming industry in Nova Scotia and that they are taking very seriously the necessity to monitor the impact.

MR. DONAHOE: I will stay with the Minister of Finance and simply ask if he could possible explain for me and for the Grade 8 Canadian Government class at Armbrae Academy as well, who invite me to put this question, how could it possibly be relevant to make a decision, as the government has, to go ahead to commit this province to casino gambling, make no socio-economic studies, do some anecdotal analysis of what has gone on elsewhere and then try to pat themselves on the back by saying, aha, we are going to monitor this after the fact?

That is very similar, is it not, through you to the minister, of checking once the horse has left the barn to see how long it is taking the horse to run the first mile from the barn? I simply don't understand why it is that we did not do, why this government did not do socio-economic studies in advance of making the commitment.

MR. BOUDREAU: I wouldn't be unkind and remind the honourable member of the nature and quality of the study that his government did before they put VLTs in every store in this province. But, let me say, Mr. Speaker - and that was at a time when that regime did not exist anywhere, I believe, in this country - but in Nova Scotia, we felt that the people of Nova Scotia are not all that different from the people in Manitoba, the people in British Columbia, the people in Ontario, the people in Quebec and, indeed, the six provinces.

This doesn't mean we should not monitor the operation of a casino. This doesn't mean we shouldn't consider the social impacts that will occur but we felt that there was actual experience - not speculation, not academic studies - actual experience in six provinces which we took into account.

I would say finally to the students at Armbrae Academy and to all Nova Scotians, life is a matter of choices. In fact, this decision we made to go with a casino was a choice. It was a difficult choice made for the reasons I have indicated to the honourable member and to the students and to the House. We accept responsibility for that decision.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.


MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I would like to direct my question, through you, to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. Nova Scotians, I think, will still recall that some short time ago the first of a planned series of five one-stop centres was opened in Kentville to deliver business services in those communities. The question I have for the minister is something that has troubled me a bit, the fact that the staff has been seconded from other departments within government, including the director who, I believe, was seconded from the Liberal caucus office. I wonder if the minister could explain why it is that these new positions were not advertised and why there was not a selection process gone through and why, in fact, the decision was made to second these people?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: I thank the member opposite for his question. First of all, there are five planned one-stop or Access Nova Scotia Centres. They will consolidate and assist regional development authorities with both community economic development and on-the-ground services for polishing business plans and getting them ready to access capital. As to the question of the process for staffing, the two that have opened, it is my understanding, and the other three that are scheduled to be opened, I don't have an answer here on the floor for the gentleman's question, but I will provide details of the question once I read it in Hansard and can get my staff to provide the answer.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister, when he is preparing a response to that question, would include information about the qualifications of the director of that centre, who, as I indicated, has come from the Liberal caucus office, and explain why it is that that happened. We've seen that happen in other instances where political staff have been seconded into public sector or Public Service jobs and have seemed to stay in there for some time, until they got a job. I wonder if he would provide that explanation for me, for members of this House and for other Nova Scotians who are concerned about that issue?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I think it is extremely important that Nova Scotia understands the qualifications, the criteria if you like, for the people who will lead these centres. They are an important building block in community economic development. It is important for the Opposition or the Third Party to have that information. As soon as I get back, the department will be putting together a statement that indicates the kind of people that are needed to staff those access centres.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the indication from the minister that he will provide me that information on the director and other staff in that centre. For my final supplementary, I would like to ask the minister if he could explain further on this issue the fact that these one-stop centres and the establishment of same were mentioned with some considerable fanfare in the Throne Speech in early September, in the budget and in 1994 and yet we are now just seeing one of them, in Kentville. I don't know when the others are planning to open. I wonder if he could explain why the delay in opening these centres that he claims and his department claims were so important to get up and running, and could he indicate if part of the problem is the fact that the municipalities have been hesitant to participate?

MR. HARRISON: This is a 15-part question. All of the above, none of the above, a, b, c, or d, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions) I can't decide which question to answer first. I think the question that I would most like to talk about though is the municipality's involvement in community economic development. I can say with assuredness that municipalities throughout this province are excited about the opportunity to be partners in the development of their own economic destiny, that it is absolutely critical that the people throughout the province have a say in their own economic futures.

The very debate we had yesterday about ideas from Halifax. Clearly the best ideas come from the people in the field, come from the people in communities. They are the best determiners of their own economic future. The access centres are an important enabling component of that entire CED fabric. As far as time duration, quality, Mr. Speaker, is far more important than quantity, getting the job done properly is absolutely critical and I am sure that whatever time is being taken, is being taken to precisely achieve the objective of a quality support structure for community economic development.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, through you. I want to know, as does the Grade 8 Canadian Government class from Armbrae Academy, has an in-depth study been completed to indicate how municipal residents who through the process of amalgamation will have to travel larger distances to obtain service and will be far from their representation and far from their seat of municipal government, how will these residents benefit from amalgamation such as we are seeing in Cape Breton and here in metro?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs, I don't know that that question lends itself to a very brief answer, but I invite the minister to handle it as briefly as possible.

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the Grade 8 class here today because I am getting a large number of questions based on some of the things that they want to hear. We are more than happy to be able to answer the questions that are put forward by our youth so that they gain an understanding.

[3:15 p.m.]

With regard to the amalgamation, there have been a number of studies that have been done on the amalgamation issue in general. The question specifically is dealing with the larger area and the travel distance. I would just like to mention that when you look at Halifax County, which is the current boundary that we are using in the amalgamated area, we have not extended that. The amount of area that is being covered by the new regional municipality is exactly the same as the area that was covered by the previous municipality which looked after Halifax County, so that hasn't been changed. In actual fact, the representation or the distance that most individuals would have to travel to get a service will not change either, they will be very similar.

There will be greater population represented by an individual member because of the amalgamation, but a lot of that representation will be in the core city areas where there isn't that distance. I do think though it is important to understand that most services are provided to the citizen in their community, in their area, certainly water and sewer is provided in the person's location, volunteer fire departments are provided in the person's location, policing services are provided in the person's location. In actual fact, many of the services are provided to the citizen in their community if not in their home, so we don't see a significant change in the future amalgamation as currently being conducted now under Halifax County.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for the answer. A further question from the Grade 8 students from Armbrae Academy and this question is to the Minister of the Environment.

MR. SPEAKER: If you are changing gears completely, we will have to start you over again with a new question, unless it flows from the question just asked.

DR. HAMM: Pardon me?

MR. SPEAKER: Is this a supplementary question or a new question on some other subject?

DR. HAMM: It is on another subject.

MR. SPEAKER: Very well, on a new question. The honourable member for Pictou Centre.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of the Environment. The minister is certainly aware that the world leaders are coming here in June. With that in mind and with the increasing awareness across the world of environmental concerns, the Grade 8 students of the Canadian Government class from the Armbrae Academy would like to, through me and through you, Mr. Speaker, ask the minister, will he be considering environmental campaigns that are being conducted in other G-7 countries; for example, the Colour Me Green Program which promotes environmental awareness among young people?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I am not too sure of the question. If I am considering those kinds of programs, I believe, was the gist of the question? I can answer the question by telling the House and the students that we are considering many programs that are oriented toward the greening of our countryside and of our landscape, but not specifically at this point in time.

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


MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. There is a great deal of concern in the Oldham-Goffs-Devon area relative to the establishment of a rifle range. As the minister may know, the citizens and ratepayers voted overwhelmingly against this project and in as much as I realize that a vote is certainly not legally binding on the minister's department, one would have thought that perhaps the minister would have given some consideration to the views of the citizens in the immediate area.

The minister on April 10th, and I can certainly table his letter, he wrote citizen, Mr. Mike White, a very short and pointed letter stating that departmental staff had reviewed the matter entirely. One portion did catch my attention, where the minister stated that the lease that was being issued was for a relatively short period of time. Mr. Speaker, my question is, I am a little curious to know the definition of the Minister of Natural Resources of a short period of time? As I understand it, the lease is for five years.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a properly put question. The minister's interpretation of a short period of time is not a proper question. Ask a question relative to the subject. It is a good subject, you can get a question out of that.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the question is simply this, how long is the lease for?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the lease is for a five year period, with the caveat for renewal at the end of a five year term, as long as conditions are met.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Public meetings were held on the issue with the residents of Goffs and Devon. I am told that staff from the Department of Natural Resources refused to attend the meetings because representatives from the AMA would be in attendance. The AMA is the Atlantic Marksmen Association.

Can the minister explain why Natural Resources Department staff refused to attend this meeting, as well as one that was held in the community of Meaghers Grant, Halifax County?

MR. DOWNE: No, I can't at this time, Mr. Speaker.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary I would like to also go to the Minister of Natural Resources. Another concern is the fact that the AMA started work at the site prior to any lease being signed by the minister. As well, in a letter that the minister sent to Dennis James on October 18th of last year to leave the issue open, the minister agreed to leave the issue open until April 30, 1995, but he signed a lease, or at least gave the AMA the go-ahead one month prior to that date. I wonder why this was allowed to transpire?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I want to make the record very clear here. On March 9, 1993, the Executive Council authorized an Order in Council, No. 93-254, authorizing the Atlantic Marksmen Association with a 275 acre lease, with 66 foot right-of-way for $1,375 a year for a five year lease; their government. They are the ones who authorized the work. It was under their leadership, and members opposite know it. On May 19th a letter authorizing and allowing work to begin, subject to approval of management of forest resources, this is, as members opposite realize, a very standard process. This is not an extraordinary kind of matter.

That formal process was established, Mr. Speaker. They have complied to the obligations and responsibilities. The organization is prepared to put the facility in place, has agreed to the boundaries that are set, some 1,600 feet away from the road, over half a mile away from any individual home that is set up near that area, well exceeding any obligations and responsibilities to build a gun facility, a facility that will be that of an international facility. The Atlantic Marksmen Association realizes there will be an economic spinoff to the community and to the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would only ask the member opposite that if he is so concerned about guns and maybe against people having hunting ranges and shooting ranges in this province, opposing people for rights to be able to shoot in registered areas, who comply to the most stringent areas and responsibilities that this Devon organization is prepared to do, when you take a look at the Bedford Rifle Range itself, nobody is complaining about that process. So, everything is being complied with.

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


MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question, if I may, through you to the Premier. There seem to be some conflicting stories about why Mr. Battiste left his position as Deputy Minister in the Economic Renewal Agency. Of course the Premier is responsible for hiring and for firing of senior staff, deputy ministers.

My question to the Premier is quite simply this, did Mr. Battiste leave strictly on his own accord or was he pushed? In other words, we he encouraged to tender his resignation by the Premier?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Battiste resigned by letter.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, we understand that he resigned by letter but the Premier didn't answer my question, with respect. Was Mr. Battiste encouraged by this Premier to present the letter of resignation or was it strictly and completely of his own free will, without any encouragement or persuasion, from the Premier?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, resignation means that you resign. It does not mean that you are squeezed; it means you resign. The letter was submitted by Mr. Battiste and I accepted it.

MR. HOLM: Well, the Premier is quoted in the press as saying, "Mr. Battiste just wasn't working out well.", quite simply that, as the explanation for why Mr. Battiste resigned. My question to the Premier is quite simply this, why, then, did the Premier soil his reputation and why was he given a severance package if he resigned totally of his own free will?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like you to rule on this "soil his reputation".

MR. SPEAKER: I am very distressed with that turn of phrase, I think it is out of order, about soiling of reputation. I would ask that those words be withdrawn. No one has soiled anyone's reputation.

MR. HOLM: Why, then, did the Premier, by his choice of words, why did he say that "Mr. Battiste wasn't working out well.", quite simply that, indicating that the government was dissatisfied with his work? Why did the Premier indicate that he was unsatisfied with the work and why was he given a severance package, if it was totally of his own free will to resign?

THE PREMIER: Once again, Mr. Speaker, we have an omnibus question. The simple answer is that Mr. Battiste resigned for personal and confidential reasons. When I said it wasn't working out, it was because Mr. Battiste said that it was not working out, the separation from his family, and I accepted his resignation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.


MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. On December 5, 1994, almost five months ago, the government passed the Environment Act. It was assented to, I believe, in His Honour's absence by the Administrator. It resulted in a major change in that the Municipal Health Boards were cancelled and the allocation of the responsibility traditionally associated with them was conveyed to the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment with respect to the licensing of eating establishments.

I have read the regulations and it is very clear that every eating establishment in Nova Scotia is required by law to be licensed, that there is no latitude allowed the minister with respect to this. They are either licensed or they are not licensed. Every license in Nova Scotia, in fact, expired on March 31, 1995. That means that there are many eating establishments yet to be issued licenses under the new Act. They therefore are in violation of the law. There has been no orderly transition from the old system to the new system, an apparent hallmark of this government. Is the minister aware that as of today, a month and several days after the expiry of those licenses on March 31, 1995, literally hundreds of eating establishments in Nova Scotia are preparing and serving food to the public, illegally?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question. I am not going to say that I am aware that they are operating illegally, but I do recognize that there is a transition period for everything that does change and we are going through that transition period. I have been made aware of many, certain circumstances which we are dealing with on an item by item basis.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I will table those regulations for the minister's edification. I must say to the minister that there is clearly, if he will read his own regulations, no latitude allowed with respect to the transition period. Either you are licensed and operating legally or you are not licensed and you should not be in business. That is the law of the land, the law of this government. It seems that this government is breaking its very own laws and setting, I would say in that case, a very bad example for the people of this province. I ask the minister, how can he convince the public, especially the travelling public, of which we hear so much from the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, the tsar of tourism, that they are being properly protected, in the total absence of a valid, operational, licensing system?

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I need the last part of that question again, I didn't hear it.

MR. LEEFE: How can the minister convince the public, especially the travelling public, that they are being properly protected in the total absence of a valid, operational licensing system?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I can only say that at this point we will make sure that the travelling public of Nova Scotia is protected for their own health and welfare.

MR. LEEFE: That will be pretty neat, Mr. Speaker, since none of them are licensed and since, many are not licensed and therefore are operating in violation of the law. My final supplementary, in the event that a food service establishment is sued in civil court as a consequence of running an unlicensed facility, is the government prepared to assume liability?

MR. SPEAKER: I am not prepared to allow that question, it is too hypothetical. In the event that something may happen in the future is not sufficient grounds for a question.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to go back again to the Minister of Natural Resources. The Minister of Natural Resources seems to have a habit of blaming all the woes that he has on the previous government. The lease that we are talking about, relative to the rifle range up in the Devon-Goffs area was in abeyance until that minister gave the go-ahead.

The minister states is a letter dated April 10, 1995, "My staff and I reviewed this entire matter carefully. By issuing the lease for this relatively short term . . .", which is five years, ". . . with a requirement for a monitoring committee with representatives from the community, the Atlantic Marksmen Association, the Department of Natural Resources and the elected municipal official, we hope to have struck a workable balance . . .". Was it not this Minister of Natural Resources who gave the AMA the go-ahead?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the comments the member opposite made are accurate. There is a committee that has been asked to be struck for the purpose of further discussion with the community. Far be it for me in fear that the member opposite is misleading the House, as sometimes might be perceived, but the reality is the Executive Council back in March, 1993 in fact passed an Order in Council saying, yes, go ahead, this is a done deal, this is a fine process to go with, March 9, 1993.

That is what happened and in reaching a decision to further it for myself to feel comfortable with the Atlantic Marksmen Association, I made it very clear that, number one, this is a non-profit (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, I am trying to inform the House of a question that was posed. Now, either I inform the House accurately and the members opposite please be quiet to listen or I will just sit back and forget about it. Do you want an answer or don't you?

MR. TAYLOR: I never got one yet, so one would be appreciated.

MR. DOWNE: The problem with the member opposite is you could hit him in the head with a two by four and he still wouldn't understand it.


MR. DOWNE: So, the arrangements are made that this organization has met all the guidelines, all the conditions that are set out in regard to the policies of the department. The Atlantic Marksmen Association has exceeded all standards that have been established. In fact, they are building to international standards, the requirements of distance, 1,600 feet from the nearest road and one-half mile from a home. We have ranges around the province that are there already, that have met conditions. This particular group are meeting standards far and beyond all of those that are in existence. For example, the Bedford Rifle Range, I don't hear a lot of concern about that.

Now, I have asked that this committee be set up so that the community can monitor the process, so that we can monitor the process, to show that we are interested, to make sure that the local concerns are being listened to by our department and others. I am sure at the end I will understand, from their point of view, if there is any major decision to see if we can work through the process.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the original Order in Council stated that the range was to be used for handguns only and it was going to be an indoor range. The minister knows that.

Mr. Speaker, the minister in another letter dated September 6, 1994 to Mr. Ralph Dunn, a Secretary with the AMA, stated that his department would not require a survey to be carried out at this time which is estimated to cost in the vicinity of $10,000. Why did the minister exempt the AMA from a survey?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I would be very happy to go back and I cannot remember the details of that. He seems to have all my correspondence from everything I have written in my department and I would be happy to go back to get the rationale for that reason.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, it is a major concern to the citizens up there, irrespective of what the minister is saying because they did conduct a vote. The people overwhelmingly voted against a rifle range in that area. A study that is normally conducted was carried out.

MR. SPEAKER: This is to be a question, now?

MR. TAYLOR: Well, my question is this, is the minister aware that work was carried out on the site by the AMA before the lease was issued?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am aware that the work had proceeded, in regard to the Order in Council and the information that I am aware of, the letter of authorization, was issued to begin the work subject to the approval of the forest resources which is a standard process.

I want the member opposite to be aware of one thing, there were three meetings for which there was no agreement or understanding or ratification on any of that process. The final meeting that took place, Mr. Speaker, just to set the record straight, 16 people voted against the process, 8 people voted in favour. Out of the 16 that voted against, 4 of them came from one family. There is 6,000 residents in that area and a vote of 24 people should not be the body that reflects all of 6,000 people that were at the meeting. (Interruptions) So you better get your facts straight, mister. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. As he will be aware, under the old Act, the Hotel Regulations Act, and under the new Act, the Tourism Accommodations Act, there is provision for the issuance of licenses to ensure that hotels and motels and so on are licensed and are operating their businesses within the confines of the relevant legislation. There is provision for the issuance of those licenses. There is no provision in the legislation for conditional licenses, interim licenses, transitional licenses, any such thing.

It appears now that those facilities are not now licensed. Hundreds and hundreds of such businesses in this province are today not licensed. The minister, as quoted in the press yesterday, is now blaming the delays on the bureaucracy. That the bureaucracy has somehow screwed up and not done the paperwork. The legislation was given Royal Assent some number of months ago. As I say, Mr. Speaker, hundreds of businesses on the eve of the tourism season are technically in a position where it is illegal for them to do business. My question is, what is it that the minister is proposing to do today to clean up this mess and to rectify that situation?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I have listened to two honourable members of the Opposition talk about technically illegal situations in two industries in our province that are absolutely critical to the economic well-being of Nova Scotians, the tourism industry and the food sector. We are talking about a legacy of governmental inactivity for 15 years that has produced 18 months (Interruptions) of the most comprehensive reform in the history of the last two decades.

Nova Scotians waited five years for reform after 1988 and they got zip. Here we are in 18 months with an ambitious, comprehensive legislative program and yes, there are delays and yes, there is transition and yes, we are in touch with those people and yes, those reforms were applauded by the very members opposite who are now complaining that is takes a little time. In fact, in some cases they indicated that we were riding on their coat-tails, Mr. Speaker.

Well, let me assure the honourable member opposite that the hotel industry has been informed. There is no point in issuing two licenses, that there is a delay in the proclamation of the Act and the regulations that follow but that delay will produce regulations that are better for the industry, in many cases wanted by the industry. The industry is aware of the delays and I am sure that given the time it has taken to get the reforms, are delighted with the fact that the province is moving forward again, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. DONAHOE: This same minister who yesterday was trying to hang this on the neck of the bureaucracy and not take the ministerial responsibility which is his, also said here in this place on an earlier day that there were meetings and extensive negotiations going on about the licensing and about the classification process and so on. (Interruption) Yes, Canada Select.

I would like to ask the minister why it is that representatives of the Association of Unique Country Inns write, as they do, to this minister saying that the representatives from Canada Select and the Department of Tourism did state that at present - and this letter is dated a couple of days ago - there were no formal negotiations taking place between the two parties, regarding the harmonization of grading and licensing, even though it was mentioned that the Manager of Inspection Services for the Province of Nova Scotia, Mr. Doug Matthews, and Canada Select are at present jointly interviewing candidates to perform the task of licensing and grading inspections. There are no meetings going on that the minister tried to have this House believe are going on.

I want to know and they want to know when are these meetings and when is this minister going to get serious about the grading and the licensing of these vitally important institutions for our tourism industry?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am aware of at least half a dozen meetings that have taken place in the last three weeks; telephone calls, correspondence with people who are owners and operators, association presidents and so on. I have informed honestly to this House and to the member opposite of those meetings. I would be happy to table the discussions that have taken place in the last month on the issue of making sure that the country inn and bed and breakfast sector are represented properly at the table, when we refine the rating system.

The term negotiations, I think, was the term used by the member opposite. What I talked about was consultation and discussions. I don't characterize these as negotiations. We are working with an important sector of the tourism industry here. We are trying to make sure that their sensitivity to a rating system is fair to their sector of the industry. We are discussing with them daily and I would be delighted to chronicle the meetings, the letters, not necessarily each item of correspondence but the people with whom we have corresponded and discussed this particular issue.

MR. DONAHOE: By way of final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, I wonder if this Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency will explain what steps he is taking or has taken to this point, to ensure that Nova Scotia taxpayers will not suffer liability by reason of a lack of license for their establishments. As an example, if somebody falls at one of these establishments, any number of legal problems could exist. I want to know what this minister has done to this point to ensure that any Nova Scotian taxpayer is indemnified or will be indemnified in the event of a difficulty of that kind?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I realize that this is not precisely a legal opinion question and yet I will characterize the two questions opposite in terms of eating establishments and tourism industry sector as what I would consider shameful. I don't consider that these kinds of questions that put fear and trepidation in the hearts of those who are a key cornerstone of industry in this province to be reasonable questions at this point in time.

What steps is the department taking? I have already told you, I told him yesterday. We are corresponding with the operators throughout the province to indicate that the delay in licenses will occur as a result of regulations that they are totally familiar with and a timeframe with which they are totally familiar.

As to the legal issues of both questions, there is undoubtedly legal staff assigned to both departments that are exploring those. But it is the framing of the question, Mr. Speaker, that I think sends the wrong message to one of the most important tourism elements and two elements within the Province of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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


MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you, sir, to the Minister of Municipal Affairs on a topic that I raised with her yesterday. Yesterday the minister acknowledged that she provided $36,000, through the City of Dartmouth, to the Harbourview Senior Citizens Club.

My question to the minister is quite simply this, what fund from within her department did those monies come out of and is that money available to other seniors' clubs in Nova Scotia or are they restricted to certain areas?

[3:45 p.m.]

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: There is within my budget a line item which the honourable member, I think, would be quite aware of, it is called Other Grants. Under that area the department has an opportunity to assist many organizations and to assist with many functions across the province. Some of them are to deal with such things as assisting with fire halls. In the Town of Shelburne, I put forward $25,000 to assist with the renovations and upgrading of a fire hall. So, we often, within the department, put out some funding to the various municipalities to deal with a number of issues.

MR. HOLM: So, under Other Grants and I won't call them what her colleague aside referred to them as, under Other Grants the minister provided $36,000 to this senior citizen's club and it may well have been extremely important, I don't challenge that and I think it is very important that they have that assistance. The minister also then appointed the directors and the directors included her executive assistant, one David Kinsman, one Mr. Don Valardo, who was her campaign manager and Mr. William McBride, who is also well-known to the Liberal Party and they spent that money and some of that was dispersed to her executive assistant himself and to the executive assistant's wife. The minister said yesterday that she had conducted an investigation because that wasn't the normal practice. The question to the minister, will the minister table here on the floor of this House that investigation that she did into how those funds were dispersed.

MS. JOLLY: I want to correct the honourable member in his first assumption. In actual fact, the directors were appointed at the request and at the approval and, I believe, at the vote of the senior citizens. They themselves had requested that there be directors come forward to deal with the financial issues because they were having some difficulty in dealing with it. Certainly, as I answered in the question yesterday, I had looked and reviewed the funding and the allocations that he was bringing forward that there was a misappropriation or funds or funds were misused and in actual fact I checked it out and I had discussions with the seniors' club. They themselves, the seniors are quite aware that the executive director had used that money to pay some bills for the construction that was going on within the centre and the cheques actually came from the seniors' club itself, so, the seniors are well aware and there are receipts to coincide with the cheques that were issued.

MR. HOLM: I didn't say anything untoward had been done at all. I wanted to see a copy of the report and I still do. My final question, Mr. Speaker, through you, is to the Premier and the Premier is ultimately responsible, the Premier knows that the minister's executive assistant (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Now we have already heard that, the Premier knows all that.

MR. HOLM: I didn't know if he was listening carefully. My question to the Premier is, since the Premier is ultimately responsible, will the Premier ensure that there is a public accounting as to how it is that monies were dispersed to the minister's executive assistant, a public reporting, not just what the minister has said in here, would show how those funds were expended and which the minister herself acknowledged yesterday was not the normal practice of doing things?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would have thought this was fairly public. It is being accounted for in an open way. I will take the question under advisement but I don't see any great urgency for that kind of process at this point.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.


MR. DONALD MCINNES: My question is to the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Northwest Airlines will begin operations in Halifax on May 15th, and I imagine most of you got a nice circular in the mail which certainly describes their flights. We are very pleased that American Eagle Airlines will also begin non-stop service between Halifax and New York and this, of course, was the result of the open-skies agreement signed between the Prime Minister of Canada and President Clinton in Ottawa last February. My question to the minister is, has he been brought up to speed on this agreement and can he tell the members of the Legislature and the members of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia whether additional American Airlines flights will be operating soon, other than these two, out of Halifax?

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I would take that under advisement and I could probably attempt to get a complete schedule from the airlines if that would satisfy the member and all members of the Legislature.

MR. MCINNES: I thank the minister. He is going to try and get me some further information. Can I go to the Minister of the Economic Renewal Agency for the first supplementary? I know that his staff will be compiling statistics as to how many additional tourists can be expected in Nova Scotia in 1995. Could the minister bring us up-to-date and give us an idea as to these additional flights coming into Nova Scotia, as to how much increase there would be in the tourism industry in Nova Scotia as a result of these flight?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: I only have two sources of information on this issue. One has to do with the call monitoring and the sources of those calls. Certainly the calls from some of the American centres are up. Our teams have also done some advance marketing in the places where flights originate, i.e., Detroit and some other centres, in terms of the new open access to flights from new American centres. They have gone down and marketed Nova Scotia in those centres. As to the details of how many flights can be expected or, more importantly, how many tourists will be on those flights, I do not know whether someone is doing that in my department, but if they are, we will make sure that the member opposite gets the detail.

MR. MCINNES: Perhaps the minister could, and again I don't expect him to have the answer at his fingertips, but Delta Airlines has expressed interest in coming into Halifax out of Chicago, I believe. Can we expect any additional flights? If the minister does not know, will he look into it and see when we can expect to see additional flights coming from the United States?

MR. HARRISON: What I will assure the member opposite is that between the Department of Transportation and the Economic Renewal Agency and any other departments that have information, we will try and put together, not just for the honourable member but for, obviously, the tourism industry - if they do not already have this information, they need it and we will get it for them.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.


DR. JOHN HAMM: To the Minister of Natural Resources. Last September the department issued exploration rights for methane gas extraction for portions of the Pictou County coal field to Resource Enterprise Associates of Salt Lake City and Nova Scotia Power. The area of the rights covered some 19,000 acres and the plan, as announced, called for development expenditures of $4.5 million over four years. My question to the minister, has the minister or his department been in touch with the companies and will drilling begin this summer?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: I appreciate the question from the member opposite because it is another avenue of indigenous resources that we have in the Province of Nova Scotia and although coal bed methane is not certainly well-known in this area, it has a good potential. I am unaware of the exact schedule of drilling activity by the appropriate companies, but I will endeavour to ask the staff for the drilling schedule and would be happy to present it to the member opposite.

DR. HAMM: When he is seeking some information from the company, if he could inquire as to how many drill sites will, in fact, start this summer and get some indication where in the coal field those drill sites will be? Would the minister undertake to try and provide that information?

MR. DOWNE: They normally lay out a plan to us as a department outlining the areas in which they are proposing to drill. If it is not confidential with regard to the corporation, I would be very happy to provide all the information I can. I would inform the member that in regard to the actual effect or the benefit or the amount of coal bed methane extraction and so on and so forth, I am obviously not at liberty to disclose any of that pertinent information, but anything to do with the public good and the drilling programs, I would be happy to share that.

DR. HAMM: I think all, really, that is looked for is reasonable assurance that this program, on which we looked with considerable favour last fall, is, in fact, going to go forward in the way that it was initially announced. By way of final supplementary, would the minister undertake as well, within reason, to provide information as to when it is expected that a commercial operation might be realized in the Pictou County coal field, relative to methane extraction?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in regard to commercialization, the member opposite understands all too well it is based on economic viability, the ability for them to not only retrieve the gas in a way that it can flow properly, but also in determining a market opportunity for that product and a cost of production that makes it economically viable. Obviously, I am not certainly aware of any of that process at this point in time with regard to the viability, but I can assure you if it is economically viable and we are ready to go, I would be the first one there to help make the announcement because it would be an exciting day in Nova Scotia in that regard.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre with a new question.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would assure the minister that the day that announcement is made, I will be there with equal enthusiasm to listen to the announcement. My question is again to the Minister of Natural Resources. Would the minister inform the House, who currently holds the rights to methane extraction in Cumberland County?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I believe the company's name is REI, Resources Enterprises Limited.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, last fall Resource Enterprises Incorporated announced the first of four test wells were about to be drilled in Cumberland County, I believe beginning in October. Would the minister confirm that this well was, in fact, drilled and if the results of the early drilling have been successful and if successful, how successful?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am just trying to find this in my notes because there are two or three different locations where they are actually doing some drilling in. One area I know where they were drilling, what actually came up was wet, it was not productive at all. I don't know if that was the Springhill area, I believe it is and that particular well was not producing at the level they required. I think the other thing was that they ran into some financial difficulty with the company that was doing the drilling. If there is any other further information in regard to the technical side of the amount of gas received, I would be very happy to share that.

Some of that information, I might point out, companies are very reluctant to give me any information other than what they have to give me in regard to their own marketing programs and looking for venture capital.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary to the minister, would the minister, who has been very helpful in his answers on these questions, would he as well undertake to seek out the information if in fact further wells will be drilled in the Cumberland coal field and when it might be possible to predict if the province, in fact, has a viable methane extraction business in Cumberland County?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, yes I will.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Health. One month after assuming his portfolio, the Health Minister declared that introducing legislation making bicycle helmets mandatory was one of his top priorities. In fact, he gave a specific undertaking in July 1993 that the bill would be put through the House in the spring session, just in time for the next cycling season.

That cycling season has come and gone and if spring ever arrives, we may even be into another one before very long. I am wondering if the minister could advise the House of what his revised timetable is for the promised cycle helmet legislation, or are we going to see another case of this minister back pedalling from a public commitment made?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I might be forgiven for a sense of optimism as to the process of legislation. One might think maybe snowmobiles may be more appropriate in my predictions. However, I did learn very quickly how demanding the legislative process was. In fact, a joint effort was made and is in process and progress with the Department of Transportation and Communications in this regard.

[4:00 p.m.]

There is a group, along with the Head Injury Association, who are studying this. We have some legislation from Ontario which we specifically looked at. I might say that it took them a period of two and a half years to reach the point at which legislation was proposed and adopted under a Private Member's Bill, I might say, from the Conservative Opposition.

MS. MCDONOUGH: Well, in response to the minister's suggestion, he must be prepared to acknowledge that unlike Nova Scotia, the Ontario NDP Government is actually prepared to see a Private Member's Bill all the way through the legislative process to implementation. It has never happened in this Legislature but, maybe, it is an invitation from the minister that this government would be prepared to support that.

Mr. Speaker, the minister will know that studies indicate that bicycle helmets can, in fact, reduce bicycle-related fatalities by 75 per cent and head injuries by 85 per cent. We have a serious problem not only with escalating health costs, we have a very serious problem with avoidable fatalities and serious injuries that could be avoided if this matter were dealt with in a decisive manner. What is it that prevents the government from recognizing that this is a health prevention measure that warrants urgent attention, instead of pushing it aside while the government barrels ahead with health cuts as its only way of dealing with health escalating costs?

DR. STEWART: Yes, Mr. Speaker, on the one hand the honourable member opposite urges us to get on with whatever and, on the other hand, insists on consultation. We are in the process of consultation in presenting a bill before this House which will be solid and can be supported by all Parties.

MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I think all reasonable people could agree that mandatory legislation is not the only measure available to government, that in fact there can be a significant commitment to broad public education, an aggressive education campaign. Can the Minister of Health indicate what specific measures will be carried out this year to increase and expand upon a public education campaign around the issue of bicycle helmets?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I might say that contrary to the impression of the honourable member opposite, there are educational programs going on at the moment. I can refer the question to my honourable friend the Minister of Transportation and Communications to outline for her some of the efforts in that department in regard to education, particularly in the schools and so on. I am sure he would be happy to do that.

Suffice it to say, in going forward on this particular legislation, which we have already committed to and that we have committed to a process of consultation, particularly with those groups who are interested in this very important subject, the Head Injury Society, for example, in Nova Scotia and others, that we will pursue this; we will do it as expeditiously as possible, considering the agenda we have set in this province for continued reform. It has been a demanding one, I might say.

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


MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Word has reached the Official Opposition that, in the very near future, the Minister of Transportation and Communications will be making an announcement relative to other tolls on the 100-Series Highways in Nova Scotia. Will the minister indicate whether he intends to announce the establishment of tollbooths on the Valley side or the South Shore side - or both - of Halifax leading onto Highway No. 101 or Highway No. 103?

HON. RICHARD MANN: Word has reached the Official Opposition. Mr. Speaker, I believe Mr. John Pearce of Transport 2000 may have suggested that last week, but it has not been uttered by the Minister of Transportation in this province.

MR. TAYLOR: Will the minister indicate whether it is his intention to establish tollbooths on Highway No. 104 leading into Cape Breton?

MR. MANN: I have no plans for that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, given the minister's responses, is the minister prepared to provide Nova Scotians with a commitment that the only tolls to be put in place in this province are those that he announced for Highway No. 104 near Oxford?

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, the member would know, I am sure he would know, that in order to establish a toll collection system on any highway in Nova Scotia, with the exception of the Canso Causeway would require legislation. Legislation has been introduced in this House specific to Highway No. 104 western alignment. With the Canso Causeway tollbooths, I think most members realize what happened there, the former Premier did not have change so he used a cellular phone and said, rip it down.

Mr. Speaker, if we intend to introduce tolls on any area in Nova Scotia, the member he would twig, I am sure, and see it coming when we introduce legislation, for example.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Community Services. The minister in debate on his estimates in Supply indicated that there was a potential of saving some $11 million on the Family Benefits Program. Can the minister specify here today what program is in place that will yield savings of $11 million?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as I recall, the matter under discussion at the time had to do with the eligibility review program that was piloted in the metro Halifax-Dartmouth area and then with two eligibility review officers and then expanded throughout the province. These officers are family benefits workers who are experienced and expert in their field. This is a program of review of eligibility for those receiving family benefits.

More specifically, Mr. Speaker, I think what the honourable member is referring to resulted from the matching of Canada Pension Plan tapes with the federal government. A specific instance, I know, that initially was discussed was matching of a particular tape that resulted in 820-some identification of difficulties of assessments of those receiving family benefits. This particular one would result in a $5 million change in benefit programs and the financing of that. With this and other initiatives this is projected within the department to effect a saving of approximately $10.8 million in 1995-96.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for the answer. I had a communication from a recipient of what is often called the Disabled Persons Pension. This unfortunate lady has a condition which is lifelong in which there is no reasonable expectation that she would ever improve to the point, over her lifetime, that she would not qualify for this pension. Regardless of that she has received a letter from the department indicating that if she did not provide proof of ongoing disability that she would not receive her July cheque. This caused her a great deal of consternation because this cheque is her economic lifeline. Would the minister indicate to the House that if in fact all recipients of the Disabled Persons Pension will be receiving letters which will require them to provide additional documentation that they continue to be disabled even when their original documentation would indicate that there is no reasonable expectation that there will ever be an improvement in their condition?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, one of the problems we have had within the Department of Community Services has been the high number of case loads. These have been the highest across Canada where workers have really been unable to revisit because of large case loads. I think the recommended case load is in the range of maybe 200 at the most and we have been running, in most areas of Nova Scotia, up to 600. What has happened and maybe the honourable member can inform the House of when that person received their first letter because I think you will find, if he has that information, that those letters were sent out at quite an earlier date and the request for finalization of that initiative was not terribly unreasonable.

It is an effort again, for accountability within the system, as the honourable member knows as being a physician in his other life, that in fact, all disabilities are not permanent and there is a difference between a disability and a disabled person. I know people that are working, practising physicians, with three or four major illnesses and yet carrying on long hours of work. I think what it is, Mr. Speaker, is an attempt to formalize the system and to bring accountability into the system. I think there will be ongoing visits and documentation of disabilities and to document the justification of a person with disabilities.

DR. HAMM: I thank the minister for the answer and that was not my intention to indicate that there is not a degree of accountability required from all citizens of the province regardless of whether or not they are receiving pensions or any other benefit. By way of final supplementary, would the minister undertake however, to ensure that there is a personalization of the process of accountability and that, in fact, those people who are in receipt of pensions, who it can be easily determined by a review of their documents that it is highly unlikely they will ever, ever not qualify for the pension, that they will receive the kind of consideration in terms of the review of their case that will not result in them becoming extremely distraught by the process itself? I am sure the minister would be prepared to make that commitment.

DR. SMITH: I think this is a very good point that the member makes and one that I personally would make a commitment. Mr. Speaker, as we move to a one-tiered system from a two-tiered system we will get away from the categories of disabled or not disabled. I think we will move to categories of early intervention programs that will identify those with the disabilities that will most likely be long term and I am hopeful that will be done in a sensitive manner. I am sure every effort is made at this time, because our workers have large case loads, we are dramatically trying to reduce them, in fact, they are being reduced and we have had some initiative in that area.

I think the honourable minister makes his statement that we continually have to have before us that persons with disabilities will be treated in a sensitive way and their rights will be respected and I will give that undertaking as minister as long as I am minister of that department.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.


MR. JOHN LEEFE: My question is for the Minister of the Environment. The Department of the Environment and its minister, of course, are busy preparing new pit and quarry guidelines, regulations, in fact, for the Province of Nova Scotia. There are many people who have an interest in these and among them are Ross and Joyce Evans of Bedford and Ms. Cathy Smith of Hammonds Plains. I wonder if the minister can give an indication when he anticipates those pit and quarry regulations will be taken to Cabinet for Order in Council approval?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: I am not going to give a specific date or time at this point in time but I will inform the House and the honourable member that we do have a committee of three deputy ministers who are making sure that we have all relevant and pertinent information to pits and quarries across the province, seeking further input, if you will, so that we are striking a good balance between the need for the industry and the protection of the citizens of the province.

MR. LEEFE: One of the critical points on which virtually everybody's interest turns with respect to these regulations, these draft regulations is the question of buffer, whether there will be an 800 metre buffer in the new regulations as is the case with the current guidelines or whether, in fact, the department, will opt for what one might call, a seismic buffer, the kind of buffer the industry is looking for, which is not dependent on the physical distance of the quarry to an adjacent property but on the quality of the bedrock in that area.

[4:15 p.m.]

I wonder if the minister could indicate if the department has yet determined if it is going to adopt the 800 metre buffer or the seismic buffer option, with respect to these regulations?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, it is the difference between the seismic buffer and the distance buffer that the committee is now looking at and, as I said earlier, I don't have the time when they will report back but they will come back with a complete reaction to that question and others.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his response. I wonder if the minister could confirm to the House the extent to which quarries - and I focus particularly on quarries here - will be subject to the environmental review process, and I am speaking about the process with respect to public hearings and participation. Will that be a requirement in these regulations?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, at the present time the answer is yes. It is very difficult to go to that kind of an operation without doing the public assessment or internal assessment, but nonetheless, a full assessment for that reason.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Natural Resources, in our debates over the last couple of months on the question of the moratorium on uranium mining, the minister has on occasion referred to other jurisdictions, in particular, Saskatchewan, to basically suggest that, well, they have done it in Saskatchewan, therefore, it must be okay. He may have already been apprised of the fact that in northern Saskatchewan mines, what they have done is they have used a technology there, in terms of the disposal of the radioactive material, that is much more expensive or, I should say, is very expensive and, basically, is affordable there because of the high grade of ore in northern Saskatchewan, which is not what we have here in Nova Scotia.

I would like to ask the minister if he, in fact, would give us an indication today on whether he has taken that into consideration and is not just making basic comparisons between one province and the next - they have done it so, therefore, it must be okay for us to do it. Has he taken into consideration the fact that that particular disposal method would not be appropriate and effective and efficient here in Nova Scotia?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's question. I think I alluded to the fact that the technology being used in other jurisdictions of the country today are - well, maybe that they are - very expensive, but the main thing is that they are safe and they work and it is scientifically proven that they are the way to go. My arguments were that I support that. I support that process; I support the fact that technology has changed dramatically in the last 10 years or 15 years in regard to the handling of the tailings of uranium.

Albeit, whatever expense it might be in regard to holding the tailings of uranium mining and whether that would stop or hinder a process, uranium mining is far beyond the reality of the point. The facts are that uranium in the Province of Nova Scotia is in quality-wise 0.2 per cent, compared to northern Saskatchewan in excess of 2 per cent, and at the current pricing structure here today, nobody would mine uranium at this point in time, until all those matters were to change dramatically.

I don't disagree with the member opposite. I believe I even mentioned the type of process that was being used there and complimented him on it.

MR. CHISHOLM: Yes, the minister did mention it in his debate and suggested that that was the kind of technology that we could look to here in Nova Scotia. But the reality is, the suggestion within the industry is, that it would be too expensive to employ within Nova Scotia and, therefore, would not be appropriate. I would suggest further, that if allowances were going to be given to mines and develop uranium in Nova Scotia, that the pressure from within the industry, would be such that the government would be forced, I would suggest, to compromise on that matter.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: Given all of these considerations, will the minister give us a commitment here today, that he will not release the moratorium on uranium development before this matter is put to a public debate and public inquiry?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I, again, concur with and appreciate the member's question. Whether or not this process is too expensive is beside the point. The moratorium is in place; the moratorium will stay in place; the moratorium might very well be in place for the next 200 years. It will be in place until this Cabinet and this government makes a decision to change the moratorium. So, rest assured, no matter what the costs of the tailing processes are, no matter what the costs of uranium mining are, no matter what the current pricing of uranium is in the market place per pound - all those conditions added up - the reality is that this government has not made a determination. The uranium moratorium is in effect and people in the Province of Nova Scotia can rest assured that that moratorium will stay in place until such time as we see a need to change it.

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

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, because we missed the opportunity earlier and I am instructed to my right as the way to do it, I beg leave of the indulgence of the House to table a response to a question yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition, a commitment made to provide him with a progress report on the Guysborough initiative and I would like to do so at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: Very well. The material is tabled.

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I would like to rise to clarify an inference made in a question this afternoon with regard to food service establishments not being licensed in the province. I would like to say, for the benefit of everybody in the House, that any restaurant or food service store with a municipal permit issued prior to the Department of the Environment taking over that function of the Board of Health, is still licensed. They will need only to apply for a Department of the Environment permit once their old existing license expires.

Since the environmental health inspectors did work on behalf of the municipal units prior to the takeover of that responsibility by the province and continue to carry out the same function today, the suggestion that the public is not getting adequate protection is simply not correct. The suggestion that a delay in paperwork constitutes an immediate and acute dereliction of the department's responsibility to protect the public is without, Mr. Speaker, any foundation in fact.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order, I beg to differ with the minister. The information I have from people in the industry is quite to the contrary. The information has been provided to the minister and, in fact, the law very clearly states that all of those licenses expire effective March 31, 1995, and the only way for those establishments to be duly licensed and legally licensed is for a new license to be issued and that has not yet been done. The minister and I apparently differ with respect to the facts and we will leave it for the public to determine who has the better facts.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no doubt in my mind that the minister and the member do differ but I do not find that that constitutes a point of order.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 96.

Res. No. 96, re ERA - Min.: Jobs Amherst - Town Council Attend - notice given Apr. 10/95 - (Mr. G. Archibald)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, it is privilege to speak this afternoon on the resolution because it is a resolution that deals with what is near and dear to all our hearts and that is economic renewal in this province. If there is a single subject that captures my attention locally, it certainly is the efforts of the government and the efforts of our citizenry locally to provide those jobs that will bring back the prosperity that we enjoyed in the 1980's.

On occasion, in debate in this House, of course the political repartee results in a somewhat less than serious approach to what, for the citizens of this province, is a very serious matter, that is, the ability of this province to provide meaningful work for each and every resident of this province who is required to make their own living.

The resolution brought forward is: "Therefore be it resolved that the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency attend the next monthly meeting of the Amherst Town Council and provide councillors with clear and concise answers as to when the 75 provincial government jobs promised by his government will be moving to Amherst."

Well, that is just an opener, Madam Speaker. The Town of Amherst, of course, became very concerned when they lost the jobs when the School for the Deaf was moved from their town to here in the city. The situation leading up to that decision, is a very complex one and it is not one which the load of responsibility necessarily is firmly on the government's shoulders, because there was a considerable lobby outside government to have that institution moved.

However, the move occurred, the jobs were lost and the town was hurting and I think it only appropriate that it become a matter of concern for the local MLA, for the Minister of the Economic Renewal Agency and for the government in general. The announcement that the Centre for the Deaf in Amherst would close was made on November 10, 1995. In that announcement is contained the line, Nova Scotia Education Minister Honourable John MacEachern said his government is sensitive to the economic implications of the decision for Nova Scotia and will examine ways that this might be addressed in the coming weeks. At that time it was noted that the centre employs some 120 people.

At the same time, the local members made commitments that there would soon be a major announcement that would involve jobs that will be there for the long term. Now, Madam Speaker, that is a commitment - jobs that will be there for the long term.

By December the Minister of Education indicated we have a plan and we hope to be back by the first of February to give some details. No such meeting has taken place and no announcement has been made.

The local member was even more specific in December, when he indicated that the jobs will come from three different government departments and three separate divisions of those departments. Well, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency at that time certainly has the welfare of all the citizens of Nova Scotia at heart. I can recall when there were difficulties at Trenton Works in my constituency. That same minister was very helpful and convinced his Cabinet colleagues to continue to support Trenton Works. That support in August, 1993, resulted in that very welcome announcement that Trenton Works had, in fact, been sold and in fact right now Trenton Works has been prospering in a way that it hasn't done for over a decade.

I think the important thing is, if the government had indicated in December that there was going to be a decentralization of government services in this province and that government jobs were going to be made available to communities across the province and government jobs were going to be made available in the Town of Amherst to replace those jobs that were lost when the School for the Deaf moved into Halifax, if that is government policy then it is only this government that can make that happen.

Now if that was government policy back in December when that statement was made by a Minister of the Crown, then the question that the people of Amherst are asking here today is, is that government policy here today? In other words, is the government going to be moving some segments of government departments to Amherst to make up the jobs that were lost?

Now the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union advises that no meetings have taken place to discuss which jobs will be moved and who would be offered opportunities in Amherst. No employees have been notified that they will be relocated. In today's paper the honourable member for Cumberland North is still saying that those jobs will go to Amherst. There is no visible evidence of any discussion taking place here in Halifax within government departments or with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union that, in fact, government employees are going to be transferred to Amherst.

[4:30 p.m.]

The honourable member for Cumberland North stated that the Human Resources Minister, the Honourable Jay Abbass is in charge of this venture and that he would be the appropriate minister. Why haven't discussions been taking place between the minister and the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union?

The Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency recommitted the government to relocating those jobs to Amherst yesterday in the House and in the same Question Period claimed that since the announcement to close the centre had been made on November 10, 1994, 1,200 jobs have been created in Amherst, 500 of them due to the efforts of the Community Economic Centre there. I called the Employment and Immigration Centre in Amherst this morning to get some information on the job picture in Amherst. Certainly, if you created 1,200 jobs in a town of 9,700 people over the last 12 months, one would expect that the employment situation would be extremely bright.

The fact of the matter is that the Employment and Immigration office in Amherst advises that the number of claims for April 1994 to March 1995, new applications for unemployment insurance is at 5,140. That is down from 500 over the previous year, but they indicated they are many reasons why the claims would be down, including the fact the changes to the UI program mean that fewer people are qualifying and they qualify for shorter periods of time.

If, in fact, there had been 1,200 new jobs created in Amherst then they are not making any substantial impact on what is happening at the Employment and Immigration office up in Amherst. However, after making the statement to the House, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency later in the same Question Period indicated that the Community Economic Development Authority can live up to their commitment to maintain 500 jobs to meet their target. The question is, were 500 jobs created or were they simply maintained? He then went on to say that there was a commitment made and he made a commitment to create another 700 private sector jobs in the same timeframe. It appears that he is saying that these jobs have not yet been created.

The question then remains in front of the House, have 1,200 jobs been created since November 10, 1994 in Amherst or not? If so, can the minister specify where these jobs are and is he prepared to table the list? The Mayor of Amherst and the Town Councillors would like to know where these jobs have been created.

Again, with 1,200 jobs being created in the Town of Amherst in recent months, one would expect a significant change in the municipal assistance or general assistance rolls in that particular town. An inquiry reveals that the Town of Amherst advises that their general assistance rolls had 275 cases in February 1994, but in February 1995 have 331 cases.

The member for Cumberland North has reassured that 75 government jobs will go to Amherst. The Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency has reiterated the commitment in relocating those jobs to Amherst. When will we see the plan that we were to announce in February? When will negotiations begin with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union? When will government employees be notified that they will be relocated?

Madam Speaker, creating jobs is not easy, as this government found out not too long after taking office. They realized the job that they undertook, to put 63,000 Nova Scotians back to work almost overnight was, in fact, an impossibility. It won't do Nova Scotians any good for us to continue to remind the government of the fact that they were not aware of the difficulties they faced in job creation because, obviously, it is very difficult for governments to create jobs.

However, it is only fair to the people of Amherst, if it is the policy of this government that it will relocate jobs to the Amherst area, that certainly is within the power of this government. If, in fact, 75 government jobs are to be relocated to the Amherst area, then I encourage the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency and the Cabinet to get on with the job and let's not toy with the emotions of the people of Amherst. Let's get on with the commitment made to move those jobs to Amherst. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Madam Speaker, I rise and appreciate very much the tenor of this debate because it has strayed somewhat from the question of whether the minister plans to visit Amherst and deals with the larger question of the issue of maintaining expenditure control programs and also attempting to accelerate the kind of economic opportunity that exists in the private sector.

First of all, without any hesitation, there will be visits to many communities in Nova Scotia by this minister. The first priority of this government has been economic stimulus, job creation, investment capital attraction, trying to make sure that Nova Scotia is put on an economic footing that is sustainable, lasting and that we ensure that the legacy left by this government is one that our children and grandchildren can be proud of, one that was difficult, is difficult to achieve. I say was because I believe that the last budget by the Minister of Finance, in fact, signals the turning of a corner, the importance of fiscal responsibility and the budget reflects the tone of that fiscal responsibility - not without its difficulties, not without considerable pain to the people of Nova Scotia, not without considerable sacrifice - all of which is not only appreciated by government members on all sides of this House but, in fact, neighbours and friends throughout the province who have endured the hardship most directly.

It is a sacrifice that Nova Scotians have had to make because of the legacy of the previous government, quite frankly, because of the fact that it took courage to make decisions in the previous time era. Not that the gentleman and the women opposite who were on the Treasury benches in those days didn't have courage, not that they didn't even have insight in terms of what was needed, but the political will to actually accomplish the difficult choices, to make the difficult choices, did not seem to be there collectively, obviously, if we look at the results.

There are not any excuses for that, it happened. This government inherited that legacy. It has attempted to turn it around. It has done so, I believe, with focus on balance, on fiscal, social and environmental responsibility in a way that makes me very proud to be part of that effort, as difficult as it is and with a great deal of empathy for the people of Nova Scotia.

I have 53,000 reasons to come to work every day, but I am not the only minister and I am not the only member of this caucus who feels that way and I am not the only person in government. The public sector of Nova Scotia recognizes that each and every member has a responsibility for economic renewal in this province. This is not a job for one person, this is not a job for the private sector only. Exemplary public service and exemplary private service to the people of Nova Scotia is the hallmark of the corporate plan that is emerging.

A new era, having hit some walls, we are coming back from those walls and we are exporting the solutions that have developed as a result of reaching almost insurmountable walls of fiscal, environmental and, in fact, social debt and deficit. The question of whether I will go to Amherst is answered easily. Of course I will go to Amherst. I will meet with the Community Economic Development Agency and the RDAs in the field and praise them for the fine work that they have done.

The member opposite questioned whether or not I had meant 500 new jobs. I indicated four or five times in this debate that the Regional Development Authority, the Community Economic Development Agency in the Cumberland area, is proud of their record. They publish it for their people. That record was sustaining 500 jobs in the Amherst area. The lists of private sector positions that have developed beyond that does total somewhere in the neighbourhood of the number that I quoted the other day. I would be happy to find those numbers again and make sure that they are available to the member opposite.

There has been considerable foundation work done since the much maligned 30-60-90 process, which yielded a consensus in this province that communities who knew where the ice was thin needed to be major players in their own economic future. My compliments to the previous minister and the work that he did in terms of building a solid foundation in terms of the development of 12 RDAs in concert with the federal government, in concert with municipalities. That kind of fundamental change is not easy to bring about.

It doesn't necessarily make headlines that communities are coming together, that separate and diverse elements of a community are coming together like never before to focus on their economic futures and, while doing so, are thinking about social and environmental integrity simultaneously. That doesn't necessarily make headlines but it is work that has been done, a solid foundation is there and renewed efforts will be made to make sure that the work done to date is exploited to its full potential and jobs are created throughout this province.

The regions of the province are hardest hit by recession, they are the last to come back. It is absolutely critical to this government, it is a priority of this government and this minister that my time is allocated in direct proportion to the need to bring about a balanced economic recovery for the province, one that ensures that communities far from metro, which is obviously a magnet in terms of critical mass for certain job opportunities, that those communities also are sustained economically and that we enter into partnership with them in such a way that their ideas shape their futures.

One of the elements that will take place before September and fall legislation has been proclaimed as part of the Speech from the Throne, will be the availability of capital pools in communities so that there is more and more access to a wide and diverse range of access to capital, of opportunities for entrepreneurs to borrow needed funds to start businesses, to expand new businesses, capital that waits for the kind of timeframe that is appropriate to that particular entrepreneurial activity.

On the issue of whether or not the commitment is there, I have stated on a number of occasions that the target of 75 jobs in Amherst, public sector positions, is still a target of this government. We are attempting to relocate and to find opportunities for relocation. We will not rush that. It is absolutely critical that the people of Amherst as - the gentleman opposite says, would the government please stop toying with the emotions of the people of Amherst. I find that a shameful comment because in fact the worst thing that we could do would be to repeat the mistakes of the last government. That was to toy with people's emotions by putting unsustainable jobs in communities, unsustainable institutions in communities, send some Minister of Finance off to New York to borrow the money and then convince people that they are economically better off. That to me is shameful and is behaviour and governance that is not worthy of this province.

It seems to me that what is worthy of this province is to be fair and square with people, to level with them, to let them know that it would be appropriate to move public sector positions that will last into the area, that are suited to the strengths of the area, that enhance the area and to work with the unions involved in making sure that that is done in a way that is fair to the employees involved as well. I make that commitment. That target still exists and in the meantime, we will continue to support the community economic development initiative in that area that brings private sector jobs to Amherst. There are any number of projects on the go now, working with various companies and people and municipalities and the RDAs themselves in the area to stimulate interest in Amherst and to bring people and land jobs there that will last, private sector positions as well as the efforts being made to move public sector positions to that area.

It was interesting when we heard the other day the debate that the government is not exercising the correct kind of leadership in making sure that the ideas from Halifax get to the regions, get to the rural areas, as if the city mice have this sort of monopoly on good ideas on how to develop economic opportunities for the country mice.

I can assure the members opposite here and the gentleman who entered this debate this afternoon, that the people of my area know how to develop tourism initiatives, know how to capitalize on the strengths of their area. They are no different than any other area of the province. People in Canso, Digby, Inverness and Ingonish have a great sense of what the strengths of their areas are. They are ready to welcome the world of opportunities that could come their way with the kind of support that this government and this ministry in particular will offer.

[4:45 p.m.]

It is important also to note that on the Treasury benches, there is not a single minister that is not involved in some sort of economic activity, who is not a part of a team effort to make sure that the public and private sectors of this province are focused on the mission of creating economic renaissance in Nova Scotia. And there is a renaissance going on. There is capital coming here. There are new jobs being created. There are heroes in the communities of Nova Scotia who are refinancing their homes in order to provide capital to start businesses, to expand businesses, to employ people, perhaps a few at a time, but in a way that is sustainable.

There are all sorts of opportunities developing, of partnerships between government agencies, municipalities and the federal government, as well as the provincial government, and credit unions and co-ops and the private sector chartered banks and even international banks that are prepared to come here and assist us with innovative solutions to the need for capital to support entrepreneurship in Nova Scotia. All of this relates directly to Amherst, as it does to Canso and Inverness. It relates directly to people with ideas and dreams that need capital to make those dreams come true.

Once again I state, there is no reneging on the commitment to achieve the target of public sector employees in Amherst. We will try and achieve that target. We will do everything we can and we will do it fairly and squarely to the people of Amherst and to the employees involved, so that those jobs will last once they arrive and will be based on the strengths of the community needs in the area.

We also make sure that the Opposition knows that the commitment to travel to Amherst will happen many times. There will be many opportunities for this minister and those that follow me to ensure the people of rural Nova Scotia, outside of metro, those in Cape Breton, those on the mainland, north and west and along the Eastern Shore and down to Yarmouth, that this government is absolutely committed to making sure that those communities do not just survive the recession, but thrive in the international market place, that bring tourists and expertise to their area, to bring all sorts of opportunities based on the strengths of those areas, to bring the communities to the world and the world to the communities.

I do not have quite a sense for how much time I have, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member has until 4:52 p.m.

MR. HARRISON: Perhaps, I will actually share my time with my colleague to the left who indicates that he would like a few moments to speak on the same debate. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. ROSS BRAGG: Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency for giving me his last five minutes to talk about this issue, which as you certainly know, is one that is important me as the MLA for the Amherst area.

I am going to restrict my comments to the issue of the jobs in Amherst. There has never been any question that the government's commitment to try to replace the jobs lost in Amherst when the APSEA centre closed was there. Never once has anybody in the government caucus or on the front benches of the Cabinet said that we have changed our mind on this issue.

The member opposite talks about the government toying with the emotions of the people of Amherst. Well, let me suggest, Madam Speaker, that the only person or persons toying with the emotions of the people of Amherst are the ones that continue to say that it is not going to happen and bring up this fear-mongering. It is not the government. We have said we are doing this and we will do it. We have talked to the people in Amherst about what is important and what the problems are in trying to complete the task at hand. The only ones upsetting the people of Amherst and toying with them are the Opposition members who continually come on and say, the government is backing away.

The front page of the Amherst Daily News today has the member for Kings saying that the government is backing away on its commitment to the jobs. That is not true, Madam Speaker. Again, the member for Pictou Centre stands and says, the government is toying with their emotions. Well, it is those members over there that are toying with them. They are playing politics with an issue that does not deserve to be politicized.

Madam Speaker, moving any jobs from anywhere in the province to a new location, in any department, is a massive challenge. I will admit that perhaps we were a bit naive when we initially announced it in Amherst, the Minister of Education and I, because we had not done this before. We did not know what was involved, but we now understand the size of the task and we are continuing to struggle with it and move with it.

We have not reneged on the task at hand that we promised; we will live up to our commitment. What disappoints me is that when a government like ours that is trying to do the right thing for the people of Nova Scotia, whether it is in Amherst, on this issue, or Guysborough on another one, is continually criticized by people in Opposition who have nothing better to do than try to get headlines for themselves.

Madam Chairman, for once, why doesn't the Opposition say that they will give the government the benefit of the doubt and allow them an opportunity to do the job they said they were going to do? The voters will decide in the next election whether we have lived up to our commitment, and the voters in Amherst and in Cumberland North will make that decision on my candidacy as well, but it is not for the members opposite to continually stir this issue up. Why not try to be constructive for a change and allow the government to do the job they were elected to do? (Applause)

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to enter into the debate this afternoon. I say to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency and I say to the member for Cumberland North, who just spoke, and I say to all members of this House that it will be the people of this province, it will be the people in Cumberland, it will be the people in each and every riding who will be deciding who is playing and toying with the emotions of the people of this province.

Also, I suggest to the member who just spoke that the government does not need the help or the approval of the Opposition to carry out its agenda. By my last count, the government has 40 members now, as a result of the resignation of one. They still have a clear majority and they still have, without anybody's assistance, the opportunity to carry out their agenda, should they have one.

This government stood for election on the promise of jobs, jobs, jobs. This government said that one of their primary goals was economic development and regional economic development. The member for Cape Breton South, his seatmate or colleague-mate up in Cape Breton, the Minister of Finance, promised that decentralization of public sector jobs was to be a primary focus of this government's agenda and that they were going to be there for a meeting with representatives of the workers, with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union and other workers' representatives to ensure that that was carried out.

Madam Speaker, indeed it is difficult; anybody who would suggest that you can just turn around and snap your fingers and jobs are going to appear or that you are going to be able, without causing any disruption or upheaval, to move jobs from one area to another at the snap of a finger, nobody is suggesting that it is that easy. But, you know, the minister, when he made his commitment, the former minister, he did not say we will try, he said, we will be relocating 75 public sector jobs to Amherst. The commitment was clear. You cannot duck what was said. The commitment was clear.

The article that appears in today's paper of May 3rd, quoting the member for Cumberland North, says, "Amherst will get the 75 government jobs it was promised whether Ross Bragg is in or out of the cabinet, the Cumberland North MLA said Tuesday. `I have spoken to the Premier since leaving cabinet and he stands by his promise, . . .'". Yet, Madam Speaker, when you take a look at Hansard and you see what the Premier has said on the public record, the Premier has said that they have not enunciated any policy dealing with the decentralization of government jobs, Madam Speaker.

We have to recognize that, for example, one of the primary reasons being put forward for the amalgamation of the metropolitan area is to create a strong, central economic force to drive the province, that is what we are being told. We take a look at what is happening, yesterday we talked in this House about the decision by the Department of Municipal Affairs to close, in Guysborough County in the Municipality of St. Mary's to close the registry office in that area, despite the fact that the municipal council not only in St. Mary's but for Guysborough County, for Canso, for Mulgrave all support in maintaining that position and despite the fact that St. Mary's offered to pay the additional cost that the province is expecting to save, $9,000. (Interruption)

What does it have to do with Amherst, members are heckling across the way. Well, Madam Speaker, what it has to do is with what this government is saying on one hand about how they want to strengthen the region, yet on the other hand instead of decentralizing they are making every effort to centralize jobs, that is obviously what they are doing.

Seventy-five jobs aren't just 75 jobs because there are multiplier effects. If you put 75 jobs, you are maintaining 75 jobs in a community, then the multiplier effect, if you want to be very conservative, if I may use that word, the conservative estimate is that the multiplier effect is about 2.5 times. So, 2.5 times 75, Madam Speaker, is close to 200 jobs that the net-back benefit to that community would be. If you want to be optimistic, you would say it is about 3.5 times so if we halve it down the middle it is about 3 and 3 times 75 is 225 jobs. Madam Speaker, 225 jobs is crucially important to a community like Amherst and any other one.

We are talking about Amherst and the ministers spoke and they said, we have to be fair and we have to be square with people. Then, why aren't they being fair and square when they are dealing with Highway No. 104? Why aren't they being fair and square when they are dealing with that? If they are concerned about economic development and the impact of that toll, which means that vehicle traffic including the trucks, and when we are talking economic development, that has to be a crucial one for the trucking industry and for other businesses that would want to locate in the Cumberland County area and in the Amherst area because any truck traffic that is going to be going from that area or coming to that area will have to pay the toll according to the Minister of Transportation and his colleagues, of $2.00 per axle and there is no way of diverting from that.

How many more jobs are going to be lost as a result of that? Where they positioned the tolls between the Oxford and Thomson Station is designed to capture 31 per cent more vehicle traffic because it isn't viable to collect the tolls and to pay for that expansion just by putting the toll on the western route that is to be built because the government diverted $26 million away from that fund. Had that $26 million not been diverted then the tolls collected on that route itself, that is to be built - not the existing road that public taxpayers have already paid for, which we will now have to pay to use, thank you very much, courtesy of this government's agenda - but, if that $26 million had not been diverted there would have been enough collected simply on that western alignment route to pay for the cost of that. If the government was prepared to do it themselves and to borrow it and to finance it over the shorter term for construction the same as they are suggesting the private sector will do, since we can get that money at a lower interest rate, those tolls would be even lower.

Of course, the concerns about whether this is or isn't the right route is another huge topic for debate and one, of course, that this government has also been totally unwilling and unprepared to look at.

The government is correct, there is no question about it. Yes, you did inherit serious problems, no question about it. The Province of Nova Scotia has severe financial problems but do you solve those financial problems by trying to hide true costs? How much more are Nova Scotians going to pay in both increased hidden tax, and that is what the toll is, a tax, and the people, the residents in Cumberland County and the businesses that use that road are going to pay a disproportionate amount and the government is banking on that toll road making excess profits, banking on it bringing in more money than it costs to operate and to maintain and to finance that road and those additional dollars to come as a way of a hidden tax to the Province of Nova Scotia. They are planning that and I know that, Madam Speaker. The residents in Amherst and Cumberland County are going to be paying that increased cost, a hidden tax. What does that do to help attract business and industry to that community? I suggest, precious little, Madam Speaker.

[5:00 p.m.]

On many occasions I have stood in this House and talked about the need to have a total, healthy body. The Minister of Health, and as we look at the models in health care and we talk about in education, we have to take a holistic approach. A holistic approach doesn't mean that you forget about one vital limb or a vital part of the body; you don't maintain all of your body except for one arm or one leg or the perimeters of it and expect the rest of it to remain whole.

This government has said, and we support them in this, that we have to have strong communities from one end of the province to the other. That is vitally important. We need to have community economic development. But you know, Madam Speaker, what we need to have is more than the rhetoric that we heard from the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. It is one thing to point, and correctly so, at the Conservative Opposition and say that they made a mess of things, that they ran us up into a huge debt. I don't disagree, that is fair ball. Two years have passed.

What the government isn't talking about is the fact that under their stewardship we have actually performed worse. The revenues generated in the Province of Nova Scotia last year, in the way of personal income tax, which is a measure of how well individuals are doing in this province, dropped by almost 10 per cent from what was projected - down that much. The Minister of Finance and his colleagues are running around, wearing their arms out patting themselves on the back, about how well they have done bringing down the deficit when the reality is, thank you very much Paul Martin on one thing and the federal government, since we in Nova Scotia did so poorly, the federal government is transferring to us increased equalization payments that came about as a result of the increased performance in provinces like Ontario, under Bob Rae and others, Madam Speaker. That increased $200 million drove down our deficit, not what this government has done and certainly not what it has done in the way of community economic development, whether that is in Cape Breton, Yarmouth or any point in between. This government hasn't done anything.

Now their goal, their objective, everything we are talking about, project after project, - we heard it again from the Minister of Municipal Affairs today - private partnerships, Madam Speaker. What we do, what the goal is, see, it is like a shell game; you have little nut or a little pea and you have to hide that. If the public borrows it, if the Province of Nova Scotia borrows it, it is open and exposed and you see it on the province's books. So what you do is put a little shell over it and you hide it around, you shove it off to the side and you juggle them up so that those debts appear on somebody else's books, not your own books. But guess what, it is still the taxpayers who have to pay for it.

You know, Madam Speaker, these little jigglings around are costing millions of extra dollars. They are costing jobs in places like Amherst. We want to see and the people of Amherst want to see and Cumberland County and, in fact, right across the province, we want to see what is the plan. If you are truly committed to decentralizing, sit down with the representatives of the workers, (Interruption) sit down with them - and the member for Cumberland North says if he has not heard - we have spoken on many occasions in support of decentralizing of public sector jobs in the Province of Nova Scotia. Sit down with them, negotiate and find ways to do it, don't just say, we will try.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Madam Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 19.

Res. No. 19, re Nat. Res. - Forest Industry Future: Minister - Compass Find - notice given Mar. 31/95 - (Mr. B. Taylor)

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: I am please and somewhat troubled to bring Resolution No. 19 before the House this afternoon for debate. I would like to read the therefore of the resolution, "Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Natural Resources find his compass and begin leading Nova Scotia's future forest industry to prosperity and not the way of the northern cod.".

Why I brought this resolution before the House is fairly obvious and forestry in Nova Scotia is extremely important. In my constituency alone there are eight large sawmills employing many Nova Scotians. Now Ledwidge Lumber in Enfield employs some 50 Nova Scotians in Enfield, Halifax County. Laurie Isenor boxmill in Dutch Settlement employs 25 Nova Scotians. Taylor's Sawmill in Middle Musquodoboit, Halifax County employs approximately 50 employees. Mactara Lumber in Upper Musquodoboit employs approximately 100 Nova Scotians. (Interruption) They get a lot of wood from Hants County, Stanley in particular. Brookfield Box in Brookfield employs approximately 50 Nova Scotians, Julimar Lumber in Brookfield employs approximately 30 Nova Scotians. Sproule Lumber in Riversdale outside of Truro in Colchester County employs approximately 50. Blaikie's Lumber in Upper Stewiacke in the beautiful Upper Stewiacke Valley employs approximately 30. There are many sawmills across Nova Scotia that employ hundreds of Nova Scotians. It is a very important industry.

At the outset I would to state if the honourable member for Hants East would like to ask me a question, compared to heckling, I would be very pleased to try to answer the honourable member for Hants East. I am sure he will think of something.

MADAM SPEAKER: I am sure honourable member, if he does he would stand to his feet and make that known to us.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you. I am quite sure he will, too.

I will read for the benefit of the House a couple of the whereases in Resolution No. 19. The second whereas states, "Whereas the Minister of natural Resources has been unable to secure a new forestry agreement for Nova Scotia; and Whereas the Minister of Natural Resources has shown the Nova Scotia forest industry he is unable to provide the necessary leadership required at the present time,".

Now many times I have engaged, either through Question Period or in debates of this nature, with the Minister of Natural Resources and he indicates that he has been on a letter writing campaign, he has talked to the group ventures, he has talked to the Woodlot Owners/Operators Association of Nova Scotia. He has talked to Nova Scotia forest interests, he has done this and he has done that, but actions surely speak louder than words. The proof is always in the pudding and, of course, the proof is in the taste.

Earlier in my Address in Reply to the Speech from the Thorne, I talked about the wood that is leaving Nova Scotia on a daily basis. I, again would like to take a moment to remind the Minister of Natural Resources about the wood that is actually leaving this province on a daily basis. I am curious to know if the Minister of Natural Resources can honestly answer, if he were asked, how much wood is leaving Nova Scotia on a daily basis? I hope when the minister makes his contribution to this debate he will indicate the figures he has, compared to the figures that we have. Some of the figures that we have were provided by a 1994 forest production survey. It is a publication of the Department of Natural Resources with the minister's signature attached.

Now, for example, it reports in that survey, that 88,926 board feet of lumber, both sawn and round, is leaving Halifax on an annual basis.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. We do have a number of conversations going on at once and it is getting increasingly difficult to hear the debate. I would ask you to try and either take your conversations outside the Chamber or at least to contain the level of your voices.

I recognize the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley to continue.

MR. TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, the 1994 forest production survey is perceived to produce facts but the facts do not back up the real picture across Nova Scotia. The Department of Natural Resources is saying that 88,000 board feet is leaving. But last year in one day a total of 5,600 cords left Halifax County via three operations. I won't name the three operations but that is how much left Halifax County, 5,600 cords in one day, yet the department maintains that 88,000 board feet left in all of last year. Fact and perception are confused with reality and there is certainly a very stark contrast.

Madam Speaker, that is 5,600 cords a day. I know this but yet the department will turn around and contradict that figure by producing a document. Yes, the survey forest production does have the minister's signature attached to it so we should be able to rely on those figures but we cannot. Until the rail strike, Madam Speaker, 100 cords a day were leaving the beautiful County of Hants, 100 cords a day at the railway yards in Windsor. These are figures that we have from reliable, accurate sources, 100 cords a day. But yet the survey says only 88,000 left in all of last year.

Scott Maritimes in New Glasgow is taking 600 cords a day while 6,000 cords was being hauled out of Stora Forest Industries in Port Hawkesbury. This is in one day. So I hope the minister, in his contribution and submission to this debate, will justify the figures he has. (Interruption)

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Madam Speaker, on a question. First of all I would like to help the honourable member with his colloquialisms; it is the proof of the pudding is in the eating, not the proof is in the pudding. I think that is important because when the member speaks, we look to see if there is any substance there. The question I have of this member is he speaks about wood leaving Hants County and, in many cases, going to New Brunswick. He seems to be quite concerned about the people in Hants County and the wood that is leaving the country. Does he realize there are many concerned residents of Hants County who are concerned about the wood leaving Hants County and going over to his district, from McClare Bros. Lumber? Does he realize how that upsets the people of Hants County? Is he aware of that particular problem?

MR. TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, first of all I would like to take him to task on his comment about the pudding. He is quite correct that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, I will give the member that, he is certainly right.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. Speaking of being taken to task, I would hate to see it remain on the record that Stora Forest Industries is located in Port Hawkesbury. It is located in Point Tupper, Richmond County. I would straighten the member out on that.

MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you for that geographical point.

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, and I thank the honourable member, too, for that geographical point. Yes, Point Tupper. I have been there several times, Madam Speaker, I actually had the opportunity in my former employ to do a little trucking into Point Tupper and to Port Hawkesbury and through the community of Port Hawkesbury. (Interruptions)

Madam Speaker, to answer the question of the honourable member for Hants East, I have no problem with people who want to make money in the forest industry. They can sell wood to whoever they can. Is that member suggesting that the good people of Hants County should not be able to sell their wood to Mactara Ltd. in Upper Musquodoboit, Halifax County? Madam Speaker, with your approbation, would you give your approval so that member can answer that question because I think it is important?

[5:15 p.m.]

MADAM SPEAKER: Now, are we engaged in another question here from the reverse?

MR. TAYLOR: That is up to you? Yes.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Madam Speaker, I will put the answer in the form of a question, therefore we would be within the rules as I understand it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Right. Jeopardy.

MR. CARRUTHERS: The member asks whether people in Hants County should be allowed to sell wood to the people in his county. Well, of course they can. By definition, this is a province. We are concerned with the well-being of the province as a whole.

What I am trying to point out to the member when he speaks about jobs, in my district of Hants East, Mactara Ltd. has a large contractual agreement with government-owned land that is located in Hants County. What I am suggesting to the member is he can have it one way or he can have it the other way. Either he is in favour of this industry, either he supports jobs in the industry, either he supports the woodlot owners of Nova Scotia or he does not, but he cannot have it both ways. My question therefore is, does he think he can have it both ways?

MR. TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, I appreciate the question. I dislike the answer he gave but I do appreciate the question that he did put forward. Sometimes that member for Hants East amazes me, he truly does. He says that I seem to be worrying quite a bit about the people in Hants County. Well, there is a boundary line that runs between Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and Hants County and I know the member is aware of that. A good portion of that boundary is along the Shubenacadie River. Sometimes the concerns do overflow, like the river does from time to time, to each other's district.

Just recently, some residents contacted me from along the borderline but they did, in fact, live in Hants County. They are very concerned about being placed in the northern region and I was pleased today that that member stood up and endorsed a petition on behalf of his constituents, he is standing up for his constituents. I am kind of getting off track but when two constituencies abut each other, from time to time you will find that the concern overflows.

The free enterprise system must be allowed to flourish, I agree with that member, but I want the free enterprise system to flourish many years down the road. I am concerned about the forestry industry for our children and our children's children. I am not suggesting for one moment that any member in this House is not concerned about the sustainability of the forest industry of Nova Scotia. But we haven't seen anything concrete. We haven't seen the Minister of Natural Resources take the bull by the horns. We have seen that minister close down the Musquodoboit Valley Forest Nursery Education complex. There are two huge greenhouses up there that . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Two minutes.

MR. TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, I thought it was fifteen minutes?

MADAM SPEAKER: Well, you have used them up with the exception of two minutes.

MR. TAYLOR: Time goes by fast when you are having fun. I had a lot of things I did want to debate but (Interruption) Yes and you were right. In summation, I do want to say that the Minister of Natural Resources cannot waste any more time. He must implement a reforestation policy that will ensure the survival of Nova Scotia's forest industry. He must ensure the future of forest land for Nova Scotia's private woodlot owners; 52 per cent - and the minister certainly is aware of this figure, we won't argue on this figure - and that is that 52 per cent of all forest land in Nova Scotia is owned by the small private woodlot owner.

What I am suggesting to the minister, and he asked me in Question Period if I would introduce some sort of legislation. It is his responsibility. He has got to do something that is fair. He has got to do something that is equitable to all the stakeholders, all the partners that are involved in the forest industry in Nova Scotia. When he comes forward with something that is fair that will ensure that that industry sustains for our children and our children's children, the Official Opposition of this province will support that minister. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Madam Speaker, I do appreciate very much the opportunity, as always, to talk about the resource-based industries, notably forestry, but not to preclude, although the member opposite does not seem to have any understanding or awareness of fisheries, agriculture, tourism and mining as being a vital part of this great fabric of this province. Much of the sustainability of the Province of Nova Scotia is rural economy.

You know, I have been farming, Madam Speaker, for 20 some years and one thing I have realized in the farming industry is - as well as members in my community who are in the forestry sector - that we run in cycles in the resource-based sectors. In fact, I have become somewhat of cycle-theorist, realizing the cycle does go around. As my children would say, Dad, what goes around, comes around and that is very true in regards to the forestry sector.

For example, harvesting of roundwood, that is saw logs and pulpwood, as well, has had many highs and lows over the last 20 years. In 1980, for example, 4.8 million cubic metres of product was consumed in the Province of Nova Scotia. Within two years of that, there was a drop by 43 per cent within that consumption rate. Back in the mid-1980's, the consumption ended up going up 94 per cent. So, if you are following this on some sort of a graph, you will realize there is a normal cycle of events of consumption and production within the forestry cycle.

Within the Province of Nova Scotia, when I became minister in 1993, it had fallen by over 16 per cent. A concern in these high and low cycles, is that we are consuming too much wood. The next time the cycle drops, as it does every other three to five years, as the member opposite should realize, then the next concern is that we have got the fibre and we have no market for it. Well, when we took over, the market had fallen some 16 per cent. A concern at that point in time was, Mr. Minister, can you find new markets for us? Can you go out and aggressively pursue new opportunities for the products we have? I want to assure the members of the House, in fact, that is exactly what our department had tried to do, as well as the area of sustainable development.

Since taking office, the demand has gone up and we have increased now to 4.9 million cubic metres. Ironically, in 1995, 4.9 cubic metres is almost the same as 1980 at 4.8 cubic metres. So the cycle has come and gone. Consumption in 1980, people were saying, great. It is creating jobs. It is doing the thing that it is supposed to do in Nova Scotia. I believe the Conservative Party got great praise in 1980 for that. The Minister of Natural Resources in Nova Scotia is now doing the same thing. I would assume the member opposite is very happy about the fact that we have been able to do that.

The question he posed earlier today, was whether or not we are showing leadership. Well, I want to assure the members of this House that we are showing leadership, this minister and this government. Nearly $42 million was spent and invested in Nova Scotia forests in the last two years. Currently, this fiscal year, the catch-up year, the $10.7 million that had been allocated for the catch-up year, we are, this year coming, going to invest somewhere close to $15 million into the forests of the Province of Nova Scotia through silviculture programs.

We have been working with the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency and the Premier, trying to find additional funds to be able to help support some transitional issues in regards to the forestry sector of this province. In the past two years, nearly 60,000 acres of woodlands have received silviculture treatment in the Province of Nova Scotia. These include tree planting of approximately some 28,000 acres in Nova Scotia. This is not counting what is natural regeneration that is going on in many parts of the province. For example, in the western part of Nova Scotia, 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the forests are naturally regenerated. On top of that, we have done thousands and thousands of acres of plantation and silviculture activity in the Province of Nova Scotia.

During the fiscal year of 1995-96, the clean-up money from the CAFD agreement will mean that the planting of approximately 13,500 thousand acres of land and pre-commercial thinning of over 10,000 acres, nearly 24,000 acres in total will be dealt with in this current fiscal year.

We just finished going through a study determining whether or not these agreements have been beneficial to the Province of Nova Scotia and the consulting firm that did the study, the ATi Consulting Corporation said, yes, forestry is a tremendous industry in the Province of Nova Scotia creating thousands of jobs. It is one of the largest natural resource base sectors of the economy. They also state in the report that essentially the forests are in good shape based on their study and determination as they went around the province.

When I took ministry in 1993, the pleasure and the honour to be the minister, I realized when the people came to me and they said, Mr. Downe, we have to find new markets. We have to be looking at value added for the products that we have. We have just been afflicted by the pinewood nematode issue, the phyllode sanitary concern of the European Community and the trade remedy that they used against Canada by not allowing us to export green unprocessed lumber. As the member opposite realizes, it was a tremendous market for many years. In fact, we lost that market representing some 95 per cent to 97 per cent of all our exports of green lumber.

Well, what have we been able to do since that time? We have increased the market in the United States. We had trade missions in the United States. We have made contact with a number of buyers in the United States and we have increased the market in the United States from 1992 to 1994 by over tenfold in export opportunities for this province. (Applause) That might not mean anything to the member opposite, but that is processed wood that means jobs in Nova Scotia, from the primary producer to the individual working in the fields.

Exports of value added products, Madam Speaker, to other parts of the world. In exports to the European Community of the value added products that we have implemented through the Province of Nova Scotia in the last two years alone, 61 per cent increase. That was over $20 million. Ladies and gentlemen, that is jobs in rural Nova Scotia, that is sustainable jobs in rural Nova Scotia and we have been able to do it. You have not.

Madam Speaker, when I was in Europe with the BPIB and members of the MLB - I was there, you were not there. We opened the door to trade, not your organization and not your government. When we were in Scotland and London, when we travelled throughout Europe, they said, you are the only government that has come over to trade with us and we appreciate that. We had a delegation from Scotland down to visit and they are now coming back to take a look at the technology that we are going to implement in the Province of Nova Scotia. They want to do business with Nova Scotia, they never did before.

Madam Speaker, we are dealing now in China, Germany and Mexico. We opened the door to trade. Christmas trees in Mexico, and that has not been done for many years because of the intervention of this minister, this government and this Premier to open the doors of trade, that are going to create jobs for the Christmas tree producers of this great province. Working with corporations, working with the industry to identify new market initiatives is important.

Madam Speaker, this member opposite, his rhetoric goes on about the whole issue of jobs, but he talks about sustainable development. There is a graph to show exactly where we are and where we are going in regard to sustainable development in this province. We are putting our money up and we are working with the industry to find other ways to create more money for sustainable development in this great province. (Interruption)

Madam Speaker, besides the issue of sustainable development - and this member opposite, they call it Mexican overdrive because he never really knows where the heck he is. The reality is it is not only the type of product or not only what you plant on the ground, it is thinning programs, it is planting programs, but it is also new technology.

I want to inform the members of the House here today, that when we took over government in the Province of Nova Scotia we had a lot of sawmills, about 300 sawmills in Nova Scotia. Part of the heartbeat of rural Nova Scotia, as he mentioned before, creating many jobs. Of those mills many of them have technology that is 30 or 40 or 50 years of age. There is a waste of the fibre going through some of the mills that we have in place today. What we have done is aggressively gone back, through an extension program with our people, and indicated to our mill operators that we need to make sure that every little fibre we have is utilized to the fullest extent.

Since that time, new small log technology has been introduced and when I took over, we had one mill in all of Nova Scotia that had small saw log technology. We are now up to eight and that is a saving. Every time you introduce that into a mill, it saves about 20 per cent of the fibre in the province.

[5:30 p.m.]

New kiln dried facilities in Nova Scotia, we have almost doubled the capacity of that in the Province of Nova Scotia. (Interruption) The member opposite is obviously not interested in staying to listen to the concerns and the realities of what is out there. He has more important things to do, to go out and sell rhetoric about mistruths and half lies to people that want to listen to him.

But the reality is the comments he made about the product leaving the Province of Nova Scotia, be assured, I concur with that. There is a major concern about the amount of product leaving the province and at the Department of Natural Resources, we have instructed our staff to do a full evaluation of the amount of product that is leaving this province because we too, are concerned about sustainable development. That is what this government is predicated on, sustainable development.

We are already seeing a decline in the amount of product going through the mills. You realize this is a cycle-based, it is a commodity-based price cycle and we are seeing a softening in the saw log material activity in the Province of Nova Scotia. Lumber prices have already peaked and now there is a decline in the North American market. The Quebec price has just dropped a matter of a few weeks ago and we are seeing a softening in demand and a softening of price and that is part of the cycle that goes on in the forestry industry year after year. This member opposite is taking a look at a 40 to 70 year window of forestry and saying, because of what happens in two years the whole industry is going down the tubes. Well, that is simply not true, that is a very poorly educated kind of a comment to make.

We, too, are concerned about the product that is leaving. We are working with the industry to get a good handle on the amount of product that is leaving because that does affect the annual allowable cut. The other aspect of sustainable development in our forests, we are working very, very hard with many of the private woodlot owners in this province, with organizations such as the coalition and other organizations developing a strategy. I could come out with a strategy, this government could come out with a strategy and drive it down the throats of the private landowners of this province. That is not our style, Madam Speaker. Our style is to work with the industry, oh, pardon me, Mr. Speaker, (Interruption)

We are working with many of these private woodlot owners - 75 per cent of the Province of Nova Scotia, privately owned - we are working with them in developing the strategy and we made the commitment on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia, we will be there to work with them to make sure that the programs that will be coming out, yes, will be different than we have had in the past but they will do the job as sustainable development.

You know, 75 per cent of the forested land in this province is privately owned. Many of these people who own the private land are concerned about sustainable development. Many of them have had forested land and woodlots and members opposite who just walked in, understand is similar to that of agriculture. They believe in their forest, they want to make sure that it is sustainable for their children's future. Look at Laurie Zinck, down in Northfield, Lunenburg County. He has run a family operation and a forested operation. He almost knows and can count every tree he's got in his woodlot. He takes care about the sustainable development of his operation.

Arthur and Alice Pugsley, and they are in Five Islands, Colchester County, they too are concerned about that and they are looking after some of their private woodlot owners of this province and the list could go on and on. The reality, Mr. Speaker, is, and members of this House, we are working in partnership, partnering with the industry, partnering with the big corporations and, more importantly, partnering with the private woodlot owners in developing a long-term sustainable strategy, one that will last the test of time, one that will give us sustainability, not only for today but for future generations to come.

The member opposite would like this whole House to believe, and Nova Scotians to believe that March 31, 1995, when the subagreement was cancelled and I might point out very clearly, that was a Conservative decision back in the previous government in 1993, that all the trees in Nova Scotia were going to die. The industry was going to collapse. There is not going to be any future for the forestry sector of this province.

Well, I think that kind of misrepresentation is doing nothing good to help the men and the women, the young people who are taking courses in forestry in the Province of Nova Scotia, they might just want to pack their bags and go home. Well, that is not the way I think we should be treating our people in Nova Scotia. We have a future in the forestry industry in Nova Scotia. We have a lot of challenges, but we have a lot of challenges in everything we do in society today whether in fishing, forestry or agriculture or mining or tourism. I can assure the members here that under this government of cooperation and working together we will build a dynamic future in forestry, second to none. We have the reputation of Stora and other organizations around the world as leaders in forestry and sustainability and that leadership will continue for many generations to come and will be proud to be part of the forestry sector of this province. Thank you, very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: That is a hard act to follow. The first member who participated in the debate could not seem to get on track and the last member who participated, was going so fast on the track that he almost flew off at the end.

Seriously, this is an important issue and I must say I rise to speak on this resolution primarily because of the fact that the Federal-Provincial Forestry Agreement has come to an end, not necessarily because of the other stuff here about the leadership of the Minister of Natural Resources and what, in fact, he is doing because as he, in fact, himself has told us for the last 15 minutes, he has presided over a time when the forestry industry has been somewhat prosperous, in particular in the areas of pulp and paper. Perhaps, largely as a result of the exchange rate of the dollar, but regardless there has been a fair bit of prosperity within the industry.

The question here though is a federal-provincial agreement that was not discontinued by the current federal government but in fact, was set to die by the former Tory administration under Brian Mulroney that they had the decision in the budget of April 26, 1993 that they would no longer renew these agreements; these agreements meaning the cooperative agreements on things like forestry, agriculture, economic development and so on. Let us be fair on this that the way down this road, the ball was started down the hill by the Tories when they were in government, federally.

I think it is extremely difficult for this minister or any other minister of the Crown in any provincial jurisdiction to try to withstand the speed with which the federal government is backing away from its commitments to the provinces on these agreements or national health care commitment or whether a commitment on national standards for social policy or many of those areas. In contrast to the very clear and specific commitments that the federal government made during the election in 1993 that they would not do what, in fact, the Tories had been doing for the previous 10 years or more, they jump right in step. This is just one other example of how an initiative that was begun by the Tories when they were in government has been picked up and continued by the Liberals when they are in government. Let us be fair to this government and to this Minister of Natural Resources that it is not completely his fault that this initiative is in such an advanced stage of basically being shut down.

The important thing about the Canada-Nova Scotia agreement on forestry practices is the principles, the guiding principles that were contained within these agreements that had to do with the whole issue of sustainable development. There were eight guiding principles, Mr. Speaker; (1) long-term forest management planning; (2) improved forestry data; (3) responsibility for silviculture; (4) integrated resource management; (5) research, development and technology transfer; (6) incrementaliy; (7) public awareness; and (8) human resource development. ".

I don't think anybody who has paid any attention to the industry and to the playing out of these agreements would suggest that all of those principles have been maintained and have been followed and that this agreement that has been in effect for the past five years has been perfect, that it has met all those agreements. In fact, there was just a major evaluation done of the second phase of the cooperative agreement over the period 1991 to 1995, which raised some serious questions about whether, in fact, the two governments were meeting their objectives and following the principles and the guidelines as stated in that particular agreement.

Things such as, Mr. Speaker, the question of sustainable development being defined and this is, perhaps, a reflection of the provincial department as well as anything but sustainable development generally translated and it says from the report, "implicitly and often explicitly as sustainable harvest" in other words, the whole issue around sustainability is simply a question of making sure that after you clear-cut a forest, that you plant new trees so that they will grow and you can clear-cut them in 10 or 15 years.

Well, Mr. Speaker, that is not what sustainability is all about in the forestry sector, I am sure you know that as well as I do, and that questions of whether you should be clear-cutting hardwood forests in Nova Scotia, like they are at such a rate in Cape Breton at the present time, is something that people in the industry say you cannot do. It destroys the ecosystem of that particular forest and affects the ability of that area to be able to sustain growth of appropriate silviculture in the future. Those kinds of things are a problem.

Getting back to my main point, and that is the terrible effect, the disastrous effect of this kind of agreement being cancelled is as much the money, which is extremely important, and the majority of that money does not go to the big companies, it does not go to the Storas and Bowaters and so on, but it is mainly to the private woodlot owners and to the smaller operators, the forest venture groups, Mr. Speaker, and this kind of thing. These people are directly involved in the sustainable management of the forest but, again, much of the focus has been on the whole question of sustainable development, focusing on it as if it meant sustainable harvest.

Mr. Speaker, some questions have been raised about the commitment of the Department of Natural Resources here in Nova Scotia, their commitment to that kind of sustainable development that will prevent that kind of clear-cutting of hardwood forest that I was referring to, or that would ensure, in fact, that we maintain a balanced level of management in the Province of Nova Scotia between private woodlot owners and between the major companies. Some have suggested, in fact, that given the fact that there is the vacuum right now in terms of how we are going to manage our forests, how we are going to manage the industry in this province, that now is as good a time as any for the department and for this government to engage in what is known as a class environmental assessment of forestry practices in the Province of Nova Scotia.

The reason for calling it a class environmental assessment is because it takes, not just the current practices of the industry and the condition of the forest and so on, but also it takes into consideration and evaluates and assesses the policies that are now in place and the policy-making framework of that particular department and this government in regard to forest management. So, Mr. Speaker, it is not unlike what is happening with some of the other issues in this country, in terms of, for example, the elimination of the Canada Assistance Plan, which sets some basic principles which provinces had to meet in order to continue to get the federal contributions for social assistance.

[5:45 p.m.]

Now that that is all being handed over to the province, you will very likely see a different level of standards in the Province of Nova Scotia, a different level of standards in other jurisdictions across this country. That is, in fact, not what we agreed to when we formed this country well over 100 years ago. We committed ourselves to a federal government that had extraordinary taxing and policy setting powers, so that we would have a sense of unity and purpose that was more to the community and to the community of interest than it was to individual jurisdictions and individual interests. I think this is another example of how the federal government is backing away from that commitment, instead of trying to ensure that the same kinds of standards and practices and principles that are in operation in British Columbia, in Alberta, in Ontario, also are in operation here in Nova Scotia.

Perhaps one of the really criminal aspects of this devolution of power, of moving away from it, is simply that, that without that national standard, without that national direction for an initiative such as forest management practices for this country, then what this minister is able to do in this jurisdiction is going to be affected tremendously by what they do in New Brunswick and in B.C. and in other jurisdictions. If they are not able, Mr. Speaker, to be bound by the kind of principles that are contained within a funding agreement, then the situation, I would suggest, is that the pressures from within the industry, for the lowering of standards perhaps, for the lowering of concentration and focus by the provincial jurisdictions, is going to put incredible pressure on this minister and this government in order to maintain those kinds of sustainable forest management practices that we have talked about. Perhaps that is the biggest concern we should all have on this particular agreement.

Mr. Speaker, I guess in conclusion I would say that the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is an advocate of the industry in the Province of Nova Scotia and that he has a commitment. I think it is important that we work together, as a Legislature, in order to ensure that sufficient pressure it put on this federal government, in this area as well as every other area, including CAP, including the Canada Health Act, to ensure that those national standards, those national principles on programs from Health, Education, Social Services, through to the Environment, through to forestry management practices, are maintained in order that we have the kind of equity across this country that is so very important to the vitality and the viability of our country as a truly effective nation. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 7, and on behalf of the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, I so move.

H.O. No. 7, re Nat. Res. - Office Costs (Dartmouth [Burnside]: Halifax [Founders Sq.]) - notice given Apr. 3/95 - (Mr. B. Taylor)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: I would like to have it read.

THE CLERK: House Order No. 7 is shown as Supply and Services.

MR. SPEAKER: I have Natural Resources, there must be a mistake in the order paper. All right, still read the House Order if you would. I have House Order No. 7 as saying Natural Resources - Office Costs.

[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]

MR. SPEAKER: The House Order is directed to the Department of Supply and Services. It is with regard to Natural Resources property. Would the Minister of Supply and Services respond?

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we shall provide it.

MR. SPEAKER: The House Order is agreed to. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his cooperation. Would you please call House Order No. 15 and on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition, I so move.

H.O. 15, re Justice: Chief Medical Examiner (Acting) - Work (01/03/95-23/04/95) - notice given April 24/95 - (Mr. T. Donahoe)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the department has not appointed an Acting Chief Medical Examiner, so the flow of the question, of the House Order doesn't apply. We have named a person who is sort of administrating the office, but we haven't appointed an Acting Chief Medical Examiner. With that in mind, we can provide some other information with regard to the number of deaths investigated by the office, because we don't have the Chief and the number of autopsies, we can give that information with that qualification if that is acceptable to the member.

MR. SPEAKER: Would that be acceptable?

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, that is entirely acceptable.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 23.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I so move.

H.O. 23, re ERA: Eco-tourism Conference (16-20/01/95) - Costs - notice given April 24/95 - (Mr. D. McInnes)

[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, to the extent that those details can be provided, we would be happy to comply with this.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 24.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I so move.

H.O. 24, re ERA: Film Sound Stage (Hfx.) - Funds Committed - notice given April 24/95 - (Mr. D. McInnes)

[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: The concern I have, Mr. Speaker, hearing this for the first time and that is my responsibility obviously, is that some of the details of this particular House Order as part of the tendering process may be confidential. If the Opposition members would accept the fact that I will proceed with this House Order to the extent possible and provide them with that information, I would be happy to do so.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that acceptable?

The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, that is very acceptable if there are tenders being reviewed, I understand perfectly. All we are in favour of is trying to get the thing going anyway. Any information that the minister could provide would be very acceptable.

MR. SPEAKER: To that extent it is agreed. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The House Order is carried to that extent in the affirmative.

The Acting Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 27 and on behalf of the honourable Leader of the Opposition, I so move.

H.O. No. 27, re Justice: Fatality Inquiries Act - Amendments - notice given April 26/95 - (Mr. T. Donahoe)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: It is not necessary to read, but I must make a couple of comments. There are two parts as all members know. The first part, the copy of the report, now I am not exactly sure which report that the honourable member is seeking, but like police reports we have certain reports that came from the police over the years and have been in the files. Members would understand that we cannot provide those, but any public information, I am sure the member may have that anyway, but any public information that we have, we will provide. We are not going to hold that, but I do not know what exactly because there may be this material on file.

The other part, a detailed list of changes approved by the proclamation. Again, I am not quite sure what the member is getting at, but we can give a straightforward explanation of what the proclamation means and we would be glad to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: With that limitation, is that acceptable?

MR. LEEFE: Yes, Mr. Speaker, and I would suggest that perhaps tomorrow, understanding the general parameters that we have laid down here today, possibly the member and the Minister of Justice could get together to provide the Minister of Justice with a little clearer definition so that they can work out an appropriate arrangement.

MR. SPEAKER: With that limitation, would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The House Order is carried in the affirmative.

The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, that concludes Opposition Members' Business for this afternoon.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, we will be sitting tomorrow from the hours of 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. Following Question Period, we will be dealing with the estimates of the Minister of Education in this Chamber and following that Public Bills for Second Reading and in the Red Room, I believe, the Law Amendments Committee is scheduled.

I move that we adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

MADAM SPEAKER: Is it agreed that we adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow?

It is agreed.

We have reached the hour of adjournment and the late show debate. The resolution was submitted by the honourable member for Victoria:

Therefore be it resolved that the Official Opposition should ask questions in self-examination of their past and possible future.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.


MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Madam Speaker, indeed it gives me some pleasure to be able to bring up some concerns over the public relations campaign by the Official Opposition throughout Nova Scotia entitled, Mr. Premier I Want to Know?

I call it a public relations campaign because that is precisely what it is. In my opinion it will not do much to better the lives of Nova Scotians. It does not make for good government and it certainly does little to enhance the position of Opposition leadership.

For those unfamiliar with this campaign, the Mr. Premier I Want to Know Campaign purports to be a way that Nova Scotians can receive an answer to questions posed at Question Period on their behalf.

Of course on the surface it looks as though the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues are making the government more accountable through these questions posed by ordinary Nova Scotians. Madam Speaker, it seems to me that this is a great disservice to the people of Nova Scotia. Question Period is an important vehicle for the Opposition to make the government accountable, along with a free press, which I suppose is essential for the proper function of government in a British Parliamentary system.

[6:00 p.m.]

Madam Speaker, after spending some time in Opposition, I believe I understand the value of Question Period. Question Period leaves a false impression of the role of the MLA. For the people who only get a chance to view a 10 second clip, they believe this is the only function we carry out.

I am surprised that the learned Leader of the Opposition is not doing more to educate the people on the role of the MLA and the role we play in this Chamber. Madam Speaker, he has not served a lot of time in Opposition, but he will. There are more efficient ways to get answers from government than to write to the Leader of a soon to be defunct political Party and to have their questions posed at Question Period.

The first problem that arises in this is that the House does not sit long enough during the year for people's concerns to be adequately addressed within the time constraints of Question Period. The second problem that arises is that there is often not enough time to reply adequately to the concerns of people in the oral manner of Question Period. Written questions have been used, but I am also afraid that this is sort of a misrepresentation as well.

Madam Speaker, there are much better ways to have questions answered by government. There are much better ways to contact government and to influence government, then by the methods used by the Opposition.

The false impression left by this campaign is that members are only useful in their capacity as interrogators and witnesses. It ignores much of the work done by members of the Legislature and the legislative committees and the numerous functions we perform as representatives of our constituencies. Most of all, it tells people that this is their only means of being involved in the process between election time and we all know this is simply not true.

Nova Scotians can write or call their elected representatives. The people can express their concerns by writing to the members of the Executive Council. After being elected to office, the Premier set up a 1-800 number that has brought access to the Premier from all Nova Scotians. In Nova Scotia the public can also make presentations to the Law Amendments Committee.

But, Madam Speaker, the Mr. Premier, I want to know, campaign is political grandstanding in its worst form. It is also an abdication on behalf of the Opposition to offer up any real alternative to the present governing Party. This is the last gasp of a desperate, worn out Party. Bankrupt of ideals, depleted of resources and ruined by the arrogance of power. The Opposition benches are inhabited by a group who nearly drove Nova Scotia into the ground. Nova Scotians will not forget the damage they did to our province at the expense of their own integrity.

Madam Speaker, as I continue, I do not want to beat a dead horse here. Our government has been in power for two years and we must share blame when blame is warranted, but we can also take credit when credit is due. I would say that our balance sheet in this regard is solidly the black. Our government has done much good in its short term in office and while we do not expect praise from the Opposition, we do expect courtesy of fair play and consideration for some of the many good things our government has accomplished.

Madam Speaker, it seems obvious to all members in this House that the Opposition have a rough time trying to come up with questions on their own. I have outlined a few of the many ways that people can get in touch with government. It seems to me that the Opposition has a rough time carrying out their duties without the influence of outside help.

Madam Speaker, it is clear to me and other Nova Scotians that the Opposition is hiding behind ordinary Nova Scotians in an attempt to hide the fact that they are naked. The people of Nova Scotia can see right through them and they are afraid to show their heads. They hide behind questions like: Mr. Premier, I would like to know, as would Mr. X from Baddeck.

They know that when they ask a question that the people will laugh when they realize the baggage that goes along with the question. I am reminded of Question Period yesterday when the honourable member for Pictou West stood up in self-righteous indignation and asked the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency a question about a tourism information centre in Amherst.

It seemed to be out of character for the member to act in such a fashion, but it was a prime example of the kind of frustration a person would feel if they knew their government had 15 years to find a solution. In fact, the honourable member for Pictou West was honest enough to admit that his government had made mistakes and that they had paid the political price for it. The problem with the Opposition is that they are not at all as forthright as the honourable member for Pictou West. Some carry more baggage than others, but they still come from the same brood.

The most humorous member is perhaps the member for Kings West who is more shocked and appalled than the former Leader of the New Democratic Party. I say humorous, but I am afraid he is more ironic than funny. As a former Minister of Health in the previous government he lacks any true credibility in defence of the health care system. The money wasted under his ministry and the mismanagement of vital Health dollars has set us back a number of years in delivering health care in an efficient manner.

Madam Speaker, I do not want to dredge up the past here this evening, but we live in a complex world. The actions of our government in a single year can have repercussions for decades. In no such field is this more evident than in Health. Under the capable leadership of the member for Cape Breton North, the Minister of Health, we will see an affordable and better health care system from Meat Cove to Yarmouth.

It is also true in Transportation. Let us take a look at what was done in Transportation during the last administration. Fuel tax money earmarked for highways went into general fund when the government proclaimed that your tax dollars were working for you.

Madam Speaker, I would like to carry on, but I see you are telling me my time is up. With that, I thank you very much for the opportunity. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: I must say that usually I look forward to some good common country sense when the member who presented tonight's resolution leaps to his feet, but I find more than curious this evening the strategy that he had developed in the arguments that he has put in place with respect to the resolution he offers here tonight.

I do not think I would do him an injustice when I say that he said words something like, the Opposition is influenced by outside help. I am certainly influenced by outside help. I am influenced by the outside help of 13,500 constituents. I am also influenced by the help of men and women and indeed the youths across this province who have an interest in the political process and who have points of view that they want to put forward and who were kind enough to share those points of view with me.

Surely, in a democratic institution and in a democratic state it is not just appropriate, but entirely desirable that those kinds of outside help should, if not directly, at least indirectly find a way to come into this Chamber. This Chamber which has the sole purpose of defining the way in which government will respond to the needs and the desires of the people of Nova Scotia.

The member speaks disparagingly of a particular initiative undertaken by our caucus. An initiative whereby we invite Nova Scotians who have specific questions that they would like, were they to have the honour and privilege of serving this Chamber, to put to the government.

I must say that my experience has been that people of a variety of political affiliations and, indeed probably the vast majority of no political affiliation of all have seen this as an opportunity to have their specific concern aired in this Chamber and aired by the people who, for the day, stand at the levers of power in this province.

For my friend to suggest that somehow this provides an inopportune strategy and serves the province and the people who participate in this initiative anything other than well strikes me as very odd indeed. The member references the past and the future and suggests that the Opposition should examine both its past and its future. I have to assume that in that respect, he refers not only to the Progressive Conservative Party but to the New Democratic Party as well.

I say without fear of contradiction that certainly our Party, and I will leave it to my colleague to speak to his own, is very much concerned about looking at our past, delving into our past, understanding where we have made errors in the past and ensuring that when we once again have the opportunity to present ourselves and our policies to the people of Nova Scotia, that we have taken every possible step we can to ensure that we will not recreate the errors of the past.

Madam Speaker, it strikes me that Nova Scotians, while they may have an interest in the past, are more concerned about the present and the future. Almost two years ago, the Party which now forms the government was in Opposition. They spoke then of the future that they would create, the New Jerusalem which they would present to and ensure became manifest for the people of Nova Scotia. Now, two years hence, what do we find? I think two years is a fair period of time in which to take the litmus test of any government.

I noticed in his remarks my honourable friend made reference to mistakes made by his government. No government, no matter how hard it strives to the contrary, is free of mistakes. I could not help but notice a few newspaper clippings that certainly would support what that friend of mine has said in this place this afternoon with respect to mistakes made by the government.

An article in the Daily News written by Ernest Categan, mistakes sure were made by Savage and company; another article, this one in the Weekly Record by John G. MacDonald, this one I think quite a damning condemnation of the present government, when he references a quagmire of corruption. Those are his words, Madam Speaker, not mine; an editorial in the Parrsboro Advocate, send in the clowns and fire them, John Savage's Government continues to impress Nova Scotians with its ineptness, indecision and penchant for scandal; finally, in Maclean's Magazine, Canada's national magazine, an article entitled, "A Besieged Premier".

Well, Madam Speaker, I find it difficult to understand why a member who would stand in his place in this Chamber and chide the Opposition for not spending sufficient time thinking of the errors they made would not himself at least take as much time to consider some of the errors that his government has made in the relatively few two years in which it has held power here in Nova Scotia.

We were promised in the spring of 1993 that there would be honesty in government if the Liberal Party were given the opportunity to step to the other side of the House, to Mr. Speaker's right, in this case Madam Speaker's right. Yet what have we found? We have been faced with the Morash affair, we have been faced with the hirings of friends of the government on the spurious premise that the hiring was done on the basis of affirmative action, which in fact does a dishonour to the whole concept of affirmative action; the appointments to boards and commissions, for example, Mr. MacNeil and Mr. Fiske, the first to the Gambling Control Commission and the second to the Gaming Corporation, both well-known, well-placed and very influential Liberals and each, not together but each, as a result of those appointments, being given the opportunity to earn $102,000 a year.

Madam Speaker, I think the people of Nova Scotia expected more of this Party when it became government. I think the people of this province will be somewhat more curious as to the record of this government than it was with respect to this Party when it was in Opposition, only two short years ago. I find myself asking where is the openness that was promised by this government. Did we find openness with respect to the decision to make casino gambling legal in Nova Scotia? I would be hard-pressed to find anyone other than those on the government benches and perhaps the most hard core Liberals in this province who would say that was the case.

[6:15 p.m.]

What about municipal amalgamation, both in industrial Cape Breton and here in Halifax? Was that done as a result of fair and open and wide consultation as the now Premier had promised, when he was Leader of the Opposition? What about integrity, Madam Speaker? How has this government fared with respect to integrity? The first thing it did was to fire about 10 deputy ministers at a cost to the taxpayer of something over $2 million. Since then, it has found other persons that it also has had to deal with in that respect. The most recent being the immediate past Deputy Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, who after less than a year's service was given a $35,000 severance package. Donald Barr, former captain of the Bluenose, $25,000, mind you, that is peanuts in contrast to what some of the others have received. Then we look, for example, at the strategies that are applied by government in this run up to the Premier's leadership bid, that is with respect to hanging on to his leadership.

Pharmacare bills to be late, bills charging seniors for new prescription drug plans have been delayed until after Premier John Savage faces a leadership review. The Minister of Health says that is not tied to the review. Well, we will leave it to the people to make that decision. Madam Speaker, where is the accountability that was promised by this Party in Opposition and is now so much lacking when they are in government. We need look no further than the Highway No. 104 by-pass. Every one of us who has served in government has made mistakes. The only way to avoid making mistakes is to do nothing. I hope I have learned from my mistakes, I hope my Party has and I hope the result of that will be that we will be able to present ourselves as a legitimate and reasonable alternative when the people go to the polls in two years time.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise and speak for a few moments on this resolution that is critical of the Tories, critical of the former administration in the way they are conducting themselves in their role as Official Opposition and suggesting that given the mistakes they made in the past and the excesses and the problems that they created that they should do something different when they are in Opposition. Let me say at the outset that when it comes to criticizing the Tory Administration, either when they were in power for so many years or even when they are in Opposition, I don't give up too many opportunities myself to participate in that kind of criticism.

Nova Scotians know what the Tories did when they were in government and they gave them the heave-ho in 1993. They fired them out and they fired them out big time. They went from 26 seats down to 8 in a speed that I am sure gave a few of them quite a headache. The point is, we can't keep going back at that and blaming everything that this government does on what the former government did. I think that is perhaps one of the most disappointing things that I hear from this government from the Premier on down is that whenever they get tough questions, whenever they are unable to come up with answers to questions of accountability or questions of where is this, where is that, they turn around and they say, you guys made me do it or you guys made us do it or the former administration because of what they did we had to do the following.

You know, Nova Scotians, in the spring of 1993, when they were presented with an opportunity to vote for the options that they were faced with, made a decision, I think, based on commitments that this government made to them that were very clear, commitments on job creation, commitments on health reform, commitments on municipal reform, commitments on education reform, commitments on ethics in government, commitments on how they were going to manage the fiscal crisis of the province.

The problem that everybody has, including the Opposition, both the Official Opposition and the Third Party, the NDP, and all Nova Scotians, is that on each and every one of those issues, what the government said when they were running for election, the commitments they made to Nova Scotians, and what they are actually doing when they are in power are two totally different things.

That is, I think, what we should all be focusing on here. It is quite important, I think, for the Official Opposition and for the NDP to be asking this government, because that is what people in my constituency say to me. They say, where are the jobs. When the Liberal Party were talking about their health care policy when they were in Opposition, they did not talk about chucking health care workers out on the street and closing hospitals down left, right and centre across this province before they put in a reform process. They talked in terms of a seamless transition from acute care to community-based preventive care.

When they talked about education, they talked about involving people in a process of making decisions that was not fiscally driven, but that was driven by the needs of maintaining an equitable delivery of quality education from one end of the province to the other.

When they talked about how they were going to deal with the fiscal crisis of the province, they said, we are not going to participate in decisions that are going to mean the wholesale layoff and firing of public sector workers. We are going to manage them differently. We are going to make things work better and smoother and increase morale and so on. Well, they have not done any of those things, Madam Speaker. They said no to privatization when in Opposition and since they have been in power, they have been tripping over themselves with the opportunity to hand over public services and public assets to their friends in the private sector.

Time and time again, you look at the issue of workers' compensation. You know, each and every one of the Cape Breton MLAs, when they were running for election, Madam Speaker, in the spring of 1993, promised Cape Bretoners that they would not agree to a reform of the workers' compensation system that meant that injured workers were going to pay the price; that they would bring in a dual system that included wage loss and that included permanent impairment benefits.

But what have they done in reality? They have presided over a complete demolition of the workers' compensation system that we did have - that, yes, was inadequate - but they said they were going to improve it and they have destroyed it. They have destroyed the level of benefits that workers are going to be receiving as a result, through no fault of their own, of becoming injured and sick on the job.

We talk about accountability and this government criticized the former administration, as did we, on the question of accountability. Yet, time and time again, we have seen this government, each and every Minister of the Crown including the Premier, unwilling or unable to come forward with answers to the public about how, in fact, public dollars are being spent in respect to deputy ministers, in respect to consultants, in respect to equipment that is being bought and sold within departments and all the rest of it.

Questions of accountability are not being handled the way they said they were going to handle them when they were in Opposition and when they were running for election. You presented yourselves, this government, Madam Speaker, to the people of Nova Scotia, as having all the answers. Nobody truly believed that they had all the answers, but, my Heavens, they thought they had some of them. But this group got into power and they said and they still say, we have all the answers.

Every one of our decisions is right and we are perfect, they almost present that kind of image to us and to Nova Scotians. That is half of the problem, they can't handle criticism as a result, they know that things are being done wrong. If there was some sense of humility from some of those Cabinet Ministers with respect to those decisions, Nova Scotians would be a little more receptive, a little more understanding about the difficult decisions that have to be made.

Instead of dealing with the problems in an open and honest way, they turn around and lash out at the Official Opposition or anybody else that is asking them difficult questions, whether it is in this House or outside this House. They come up with decisions with respect to leadership review to ensure that the question of accountability is watered down to the point where it is nothing more than a smoke-screen, nothing more than a facade.

This is a government that very clearly lacks a sense of direction. They came into power having told Nova Scotians they were going to go this way. Since they have been in power they have gone this way and they have gone this way. They have gone in every other direction other than the direction they told Nova Scotians they were going to go in. They are running from pillar to post on the basis of polls, on the basis of public relations exercises, on the basis of whether or not this Premier is going to survive a leadership review within his own Party. At the same time they are unable to provide any commitment on the question of jobs, on the question of health reform, on the question of education and on the question of the fact that they have turned their backs on promises and commitments they made to working people of this province.

I think it is time that instead of looking back 10 years, instead of dealing with the problems of the past that we are all well aware of and we are not going to let this former government forget them in the near future, I hope, it is time that this administration starting coming up with a sense about where they are going and had some confidence in their convictions, instead of always worrying about what it is that the other guy is doing, what the other person is saying about them. Why don't they try to back up what it is that they are going to do or the commitments that they made to the people of Nova Scotia? Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order please. The time for the Adjournment debate has expired.

The House will stand adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:28 p.m.]


Given on May 2, 1995

(Pursuant to Rule 30)


By: Mr. John Leefe (Queens)

To: Hon. Wayne Adams (Minister of the Environment)

(1) I want to know, as does Mrs. W.H. Copeland of Hunts Point, Nova Scotia, if an environmental assessment has been initiated with regard to the dredging and dyke work being carried out, and resultant wetland losses, in the Brooklyn and Liverpool Harbours?


By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. Bernard Boudreau (Minister of Finance)

(1) I want to know, as does Mr. Doug Morne of New Minas, Nova Scotia, why this Liberal Government is allowing casinos to operate on Sundays under the recently proposed casinos regulations? Won't this concession to casino operators be a catalyst for other business owners to pressure the government for legislation allowing them to remain open on Sundays?


By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. Bernard Boudreau (Minister of Finance)

(1) I want to know, as does Mr. Doug Embree of Springhill, Nova Scotia, why the Premier and his government did not take into strong consideration the Fogarty Report, which was paid for by the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, that recommended against the establishment of casinos in the province?


By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. Bernard Boudreau (Minister of Finance)

(1) I want to know, as does Mrs. Earl Balsor of Waterville and Mrs. W.H. Copeland of Hunts Point, Nova Scotia, why this Liberal Government has passed legislation permitting the establishment of casinos in the province when their decision is contrary to the views of a majority of Nova Scotians? Given the numerous socio-economic studies carried out in other jurisdictions which indicate that casinos create the potential for heightened criminal activity and increased social problems, in what ways does the minister feel that the establishing of casinos in the province will result in the overall enhancement of our province?