Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017


Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Third Session

12:00 P.M.


Hon. Paul MacEwan


Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I would like to call this session of the House to order at this time.

We will commence with the introduction of guests, I see a fair number here today.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I take real pleasure in introducing this afternoon - although I haven't had an opportunity to talk to the students yet today and, hopefully, before they leave I will get a chance to do that - a group of Grade 12 political science students from Sackville High School, of course, located in Sackville. They are accompanied this afternoon by a gentleman whom I haven't seen since Saturday night, Mr. Kevin Currie, and by Jennifer King.

Sackville High School certainly has a very active political science program and we have the pleasure of welcoming Sackville High School students to the House of Assembly, usually on a couple of occasions during the year, as they are on the semester system. Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask these students from Sackville High School to rise and receive a very warm welcome by all members of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Now we will commence the daily routine of business.







MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East, on behalf of the government.


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

Whereas three years ago today, on May 9, 1992, 26 miners lost their lives in an underground blast at the Westray coal mine in Plymouth, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas families were left without fathers, husbands, sons and brothers, and the community was left without good men, volunteers and friends; and

Whereas this tragedy has deeply affected the communities of Pictou County and Nova Scotia and touched many people in the rest of Canada and around the world;

Therefore, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, be it resolved that the honourable members now observe a moment of silent remembrance for the men and families of the Westray disaster.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The notice calls for a moment's silence. I will put the question first.

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

The motion is carried.

We will now observe a moment of silence.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


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

Whereas the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency continues to renege on the commitment of the former Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency to transfer 75 jobs to Amherst to replace those lost with the closure of the School for the Deaf; and

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Communications is ensuring that the residents of Cumberland County will frequently be required to travel a toll road in their pursuit of business and leisure travel;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the government for breaking their promise to Amherst and cutting off Cumberland County with respect to employment and economic development opportunities.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.


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

Whereas three years ago today, the Westray coal mine tragedy took the lives of 26 miners; and

Whereas the families and communities who lost loved ones in this tragedy still await a full accounting for both the causes of the explosion and the legal responsibility; and

Whereas the political system that spawned the Westray Mine and regulated it bears a particular responsibility to ensure accountability for the sake of the families and of other workers;

Therefore be it resolved that on this anniversary the House affirms the need to bring forward and analyze all factors surrounding and contributing to the Westray tragedy, to foster healing among the survivors and prevention of future work place disasters.

Mr. Speaker, I would request 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 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 palliative care services, which provide care to the terminally ill, make a significant contribution to the quality of life for both patients and families in our communities; and

Whereas the delivery of palliative care services is a partnership between funded health care professionals and community volunteers; and

Whereas it is in the interest of all Nova Scotians that these services grow and develop;

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians acknowledge the efforts made by palliative care workers and recognize May 8th to May 14th as Palliative Care Awareness Week in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 member for Lunenburg.


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

Whereas Nova Scotia's renowned sailing ambassador, Bluenose II, was relaunched yesterday, May 8th, in Lunenburg; and

Whereas throughout the winter, the Bluenose II underwent a major refit and restoration of its wooden hull through the skilled hands of Lunenburg shipbuilders; and

Whereas the Bluenose II has been given a new lease on life to continue her proud journey as a goodwill ambassador for Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the relaunching of the Bluenose II as Nova Scotia's sailing ambassador and commend the excellent work carried out by the shipbuilders of Lunenburg County.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for 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 the sport of soccer is growing in immense popularity across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the number of young Nova Scotians involved in the sport has grown from less than 100 in 1971 to about 13,000 for this up-coming season; and

Whereas the Executive Director for Soccer at Sport Nova Scotia said recently the popularity of the sport is because of modifications to the sport which have made it attractive to the youngest age groups;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature commend the hard work of the Executive Director of Soccer at Sport Nova Scotia and wish him and Nova Scotia's 13,000 soccer players the very best as preparations begin in many age classifications for the 1995 soccer season.

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 Pictou West.


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

Whereas the Bluenose II quietly slipped into the waters of Lunenburg Harbour yesterday after a $500,000 restoration; and

Whereas only a few months ago, the former ERA Minister stuck to his contention that the $0.5 million refit would not make the boat seaworthy for many years in the future but will make it available to be used in the next couple of years while we are building a new Bluenose III; and

Whereas the current ERA Minister has proclaimed that the Bluenose II will sail forever and the plans and committees to raise funds for a successor appear abandoned less than a year after a committee was struck by the former minister;

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians praise the Lunenburg boat building team for its admirable efforts to restore our sailing ambassador, Bluenose II, in the midst of confusion and flip-flopping of the former minister and Liberal Government on the ship's future.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

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 anti-labour groups and individuals have suggested that trade unions are narrow and selfish in their interests, caring only to maximize dues and ignoring broader work place interests; and

Whereas the United Steel Workers of America, like virtually all unions, seeks improved lives and opportunities for every working family; and

Whereas although the Westray Mine is permanently closed and it was certified too late, the USWA continues to represent the miners' interests, for example, sponsoring the current Westray drama by Two Planks and a Passion and helping gain a significant Supreme Court of Canada ruling on the provinces' right to conduct public inquiries;

Therefore be it resolved that this House notes the ongoing representation and contribution by the United Steel Workers on behalf of their dead and surviving members, to ensure that the Westray coal mine disaster and its lessons are not forgotten.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to 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 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 today is Certified Nursing Assistants Day; and

Whereas Certified Nursing Assistants play a vitally important role in the delivery of health care in this province; and

Whereas Certified Nursing Assistants are dedicated caregivers who will have an expanded role to play in a reformed health care system;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the important and valuable contributions made by CNAs and urge the Minister of Health to listen to their concerns with respect to health reform and to work with them to develop a comprehensive and complete plan that addresses both their patient and professional concerns.

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

[12:15 p.m.]

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 Lunenburg.


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

Whereas Rendez-vous Canada is an internationally acclaimed market place featuring tourism products and services being held at the World Trade and Convention Centre all this week; and

Whereas now in its 19th year, Rendez-vous Canada is organized by Tourism Canada; and

Whereas this year Rendez-vous Canada is hosted by Atlantic Canada's members of the tourism industry, as well as provincial and municipal organizations;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to all of the participants of Rendez-vous Canada who give the Canadian tourism industry a unique chance to do business, to network and generally expand its markets around the world by bringing the world to Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


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

Whereas the Municipal Affairs Minister has proposed that municipal government, starting in metro Halifax-Dartmouth, operate in greater secrecy; and

Whereas the minister and her Liberal colleagues were elected with promises of increased openness and accountability; and

Whereas the Liberals have tried to pretend that their municipal mega-governments are some sort of democratic plan to get government off people's backs;

Therefore be it resolved that this House opposes any suggestion that duly elected provincial or municipal assemblies should conduct their business in secret, making plans and commitments with other people's money, while keeping the taxpayers in the dark.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.


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

Whereas the Education Minister assured Nova Scotians that his cuts would not affect the classroom; and

Whereas provincial funding cuts are forcing the elimination of as many as 30 teaching positions and teaching time in Dartmouth and the expected loss of many dozens more teaching positions in Cape Breton and across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Liberal credibility gap widens with each new cut in the number of teachers, school programs and classroom time;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Minister of Education to be more honest about the fact that his main goal is to save money by reducing the number of teachers, number of schools and the range of educational opportunities in the Nova Scotia education system.

MR. SPEAKER: 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 the Minister of Transportation has been far from convincing in his use of mathematical figures surrounding the diversion of $26 million from the Strategic Highway Improvement Program agreement; and

Whereas Bob MacKay of Truro wants to know if the Minister of Transportation attributes his great mathematical skills to his studies in Political Math 101 or Political Patronage 104; and

Whereas Mr. MacKay is not impressed with the Minister of Transportation's math skills towards a lower toll for Highway No. 104 because, as Mr. MacKay put it, "If I had $26 million to put down on my mortgage, it would certainly lower the monthly payment.";

Therefore be it resolved that the members for Cumberland North, Cumberland South, Colchester North, and Truro-Bible Hill acknowledge to their constituents whether they adhere to the math put forward by the Minister of Transportation.

MR. SPEAKER: It appears to me to parallel and to be a duplicate route to that followed by Bill No. 10. However, the notice is tabled as an expression of opinion.

Are there further notices of motion? If not, I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 o'clock this evening. The winner today is the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic. His resolution reads:

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals should fulfil their commitment to ensure maximum coal mining and other Nova Scotian employment through Nova Scotia Power rather than sitting on the sidelines while two corporations built up by the public squabble about how to cut jobs.

We will hear that matter at 6:00 o'clock this evening.

The Oral Question Period today will run for an hour, from 12:21 p.m., I will say, until 1:21 p.m.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North to lead off.


MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources in his capacity as co-chair of the Nova Scotia G-7 Economic Summit. The provincial government, as we were told by the minister a couple of weeks ago, is going to spend $4.6 million on the G-7 Summit and there is a great interest among Nova Scotians in the projects in the metro region regarding the G-7. We have requested a list of the projects but have not yet received the list or the cost estimates of the projects. My question directly for the minister is, the province is spending money across the street from this building, in the vacant lot adjacent to the Dennis Building. I am wondering if the minister could tell us how much money the Province of Nova Scotia has committed to the work that is being done across the street from Province House?

HON. JAY ABBASS: It is quite possible, Mr. Speaker, that that would be labelled actually a city contracted or city managed project. Regardless of that, the intention still is to table those project costs as promised by my colleague, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. Thank you.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you for that answer. I would have thought perhaps the minister would have known a little more, since it is adjacent to this building and we hear the noise and we can see the work. However, there is a great deal of work being done also up the road at the Medjuck building. It used to be the home of the Misty Moon Cabaret. I am wondering if the minister can tell us now much money and what specific project is being done at the Misty Moon building?

MR. ABBASS: I think I have already answered the question, Mr. Speaker. All those costs will be tabled as promised last Wednesday.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you very much for your answer. I am wondering if the minister could tell us when those projects and the costs to the taxpayers will be tabled within this House?

MR. ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, as soon as reasonably possible, they will be tabled. I think it would not be unreasonable to promise that within the week, they would be tabled. Just so that everyone in the Chamber does know this, there is a lot of work going on. That is not the legacy of the G-7. The legacy of the G-7 will be a new collective memory of this city not just as the home of a wonderful fortress called Citadel Hill, not just a city boasting the second largest ice free harbour and one of the deepest harbours in the world and not just a place in which a tragic explosion happened back in 1917. We will be remembered as the place which hosted so ably the G-7 Leaders this coming summer.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.


MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Justice. Three years to this day, we had a very tragic event occur in the Province of Nova Scotia, something that none of us want to see happen again. There has been a hesitancy over that period not to proceed with the inquiry into the events surrounding the explosion at the Westray Mine, primarily the concern being that the inquiry might infringe upon and perhaps prejudice the criminal proceedings. The Supreme Court of Canada, as you know, has now ruled. In fact, I believe they said that the law will ensure the criminal proceedings will not be prejudiced. He has had five days now and I would like to ask the Minister of Justice if he will in fact announce today that his government will follow the advice of the Supreme Court of Canada and immediately ask the inquiry to consult the partners, prepare a schedule and get moving with the inquiry?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, no, I am not able to make any comment about the inquiry today. The judgment is a very long, complex judgment. It is roughly 100 pages, we are looking at all of the aspects. We must be absolutely sure that the rights of the accused are protected and not just to say that we are pretty sure that their rights are protected, we must make absolutely sure we are taking our time to consider that and we will make the decision of the government known in due course in response to the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada.

MR. CHISHOLM: Let me just say that between the former government and this government, there has been three years where they have had to make a decision on moving forward with an important part of this whole matter and that is getting to the bottom of primarily the government's role in this event and ensuring that this kind of activity doesn't happen again by changing practises and procedures of the government and whether it is real or whether it is, in fact, fair or not, there is a perception that it is in the government's interest to drag a decision on this matter even further.

I would like to ask the minister, given that fact, will he do the right thing and clarify the perception that many Nova Scotians have that the government is dragging its feet and urge the inquiry, in fact, to get on with dealing with the matters that are at the bottom of this whole issue and that is, what role did the government play in terms of its practices and procedures that led to this event and what can we do in the future to ensure that similar tragedies don't happen again?

MR. GILLIS: What we have is a balancing act between knowing, as best as we humanly can, what happened in that terrible tragedy at Westray and the inquiry is certainly the way to do it in the longer term, but we also have a criminal trial which the case for the people has been put by the public prosecution service and as we speak there is a criminal trial going on, so it is easy to take one side or the other. I have a special responsibility to see that fairness is ensured and we have a fair trial for those and that something is not done that jeopardizes that fair trial so that something happens and they walk away just because of some technicality. The other part of the question I was asked - will I do the right thing? I want to assure that honourable member, as best as is humanly possible, I assure absolutely that I will do what I judge in my heart to be the right thing and act for the rights of the people in the Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

MR. CHISHOLM: I am sure this minister will and I would expect nothing less from him. Let me say that we can balance on this - we balanced now for three years and we can continue to balance - but a decision has to be made. There has already been one and that is to hold the inquiry while the criminal proceedings go forward in order, supposedly, to deal with the possibility of prejudicing. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that let the law, in fact, protect these people and go forward with the inquiry into these other matters. People think it can be done and I urge this minister to get the inquiry on the road. Let's get into this matter, deal with it once and for all, and ensure that this kind of tragedy and future tragedies don't happen.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a question.

MR. GILLIS: I certainly would never want to see a tragedy like this repeated. I can't claim that I was a miner, but my family members were. My wife's father died at the age of 50 after 30 or 35 years in the mines in Cape Breton, so I know something about the background on this. But, we are not dealing with some simple black and white matter. We have a very complex decisions that has come down, it is not crystal clear, in fact, even within the decision there are three or four different approaches to the decision, so the government is looking very closely and very carefully at that. We know what the Supreme Court has said, we are studying it and, in due course and in responsible time, we will respond.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: My question is for the Minister of Supply and Services. Having, as he does, the responsibility for the care and maintenance of Provincial Buildings, I wonder if the Minister of Supply and Services could tell this House whether or not the project that is underway across the street at the Provincial Building, which I understand is a project to sandblast that building. Could the minister tell us, please, whether or not that project was tendered?

[12:30 p.m.]

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member. I think if the honourable member checks, he will find that that project is a project under the G-7 funding program. It is not a program specific to the Province of Nova Scotia or through our department.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, I find it interesting and, frankly, amazing that the Minister of Supply and Services, as the minister with the legal responsibility for the care and maintenance of buildings owned by the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, would presumably either abdicate his responsibility or not be consulted.

May I, then, ask the Minister of Human Resources, by way of supplementary, if he will tell me and this House whether or not the contract to sandblast the Provincial Building across the street, whether or not the contract to have that work done was, in fact, tendered?

HON. JAY ABBASS: As embarrassing as it might be, Mr. Speaker, I will have to ask the member opposite to rephrase his question, perhaps.

MR. DONAHOE: I presume this is just rephrasing the question, it is not losing my (Interruptions) Thank you very much, Mr. Premier, it is good of you, Mr. Premier.

To the Minister of Human Resources, I ask the Minister of Human Resources, in his capacity of having co-chairmanship responsibility for the G-7 activities, if he will tell this House whether or not the contract for the sandblasting of the Provincial Building across the street was or was not tendered?

MR. ABBASS: All provincially-controlled, all provincially-labelled contracts are being tendered as required under policy.

MR. DONAHOE: So, I wonder if the minister might perhaps be a little bit more precise. Was the contract for the sandblasting on the Provincial Building tendered or not? Yes or no.

MR. ABBASS: Again, I think I have answered the question by transition or by transitory reasoning. I am sure the member opposite can figure out that if all provincially-controlled projects were tendered, then the one across the street was tendered.

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


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: My question, then, is to the Minister of Human Resources and it is relative to the work that is being done at what will be called, Summit Place. Could the minister tell me whether or not he understands that the contract which, apparently, has been let to redesign the interior of the building, Summit Place building, has been designed and let in such a way as to require the contractors to return the building to its former state once the G-7 Summit activities have been completed in the building?

HON. JAY ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, I can't fault the member opposite for not knowing which projects are federal and which are provincial and which are city controlled. That will become apparent once we do table the costs of those various projects. (Interruption) Yes, we will make a point of labelling which ones are provincial and which ones are federal. That particular one is definitely a federally controlled project; therefore, the tendering of it, the way in which it is dealt with following the G-7 Summit would be within the federal sphere. I want to thank the member opposite again for re-asking his question.

MR. DONAHOE: So, perhaps, by way of supplementary - since we don't have the list tabled, which we asked for some time ago - I might ask the Minister of Human Resources this question, then. Can the taxpayers of Nova Scotia be assured that the only expenditure of provincial taxpayers' money, provincial money, in relation to the G-7 Summit, is in relation to buildings and properties which are owned by the Province of Nova Scotia, are the assets of the provincial taxpayers?

MR. ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, I am not certain that it comes down to something quite so straightforward. I know that there is a Queen's Wharf project in which the province, I believe, has some involvement, so I have to be careful about saying that we are only dealing with items or capital assets that we actually own. I believe as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans at the federal level has an ownership interest in those particular assets, so I have to be careful. Again, that will become more apparent once we have tabled the costs.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, it has come to my attention that it is planned, in relation to the improvements being made to the parking lots along the waterfront, which I understand are owned by the Waterfront Development Corporation, or some at least are, owned by the taxpayers of the Province of Nova Scotia that a great deal of what I consider personally to be very attractive landscaping with the mounds and the earth and the pine trees and so on all being done there, my information is that when the G-7 Summit is finished, all of that landscaping is to be ripped out of there and removed. I wonder if the minister can tell me from his personal knowledge now whether that is so and if he can't, would he make a commitment to find the answer to that question for me and provide it here in the House either later today or in the next few days?

MR. ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, I questioned Mr. Fred Were with the Halifax Waterfront Development Corporation on that point. To the best of my knowledge, he says, no, those trees will not be ripped out; no, the boardwalk, the very attractive new boardwalk will not be ripped out the day after the G-7 Summit or any time soon thereafter. So what we are left with is the legacy, it is being overused in this case, the word legacy, but we will be left with a new part of the boardwalk which extends the walkway from the ECTUG area, Eastern Towing, south towards to what used to be the power plants. So, in fact, we are getting closer now to closing that circuit so that a cruise ship passenger, 40,000 of which we had last year, on 70 different vessels, can actually make a continuous stroll from the cruise ship all the way down to the tourism precinct call Historic Properties and beyond to the Sheraton, perhaps the casino even.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.


MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question, too, is for the Minister responsible for the G-7 Summit. We have focused almost entirely recently on the Minister of Human Resources. We have focused almost entirely over the past several weeks with respect to economic spinoffs which will benefit the metropolitan area. Yet my clear recollection is that at the announcement that the G-7 Summit would be held in Halifax and, subsequent to that announcement, the government made it very clear that there would be economic spinoff beyond the pale of the metropolitan area. I wonder if the minister could advise the House specifically what initiatives have been undertaken to ensure that there will be economic spinoffs beyond the immediate metropolitan area into the approximately 100 mile radius, as I understand it, that has the potential of being positively affected by the economic spinoff?

HON. JAY ABBASS: Well, there is the most immediate one or the most obvious one, Mr. Speaker. For quite some time hotel rooms and motel rooms have been put on hold within at least an hour's drive of Halifax. I understand that recently, actually, some were finally let go and made available to anyone who might want to phone and express an interest.

Monetarily, dollar-wise, the estimate, of course, is between $6.5 million and $7.3 million will flow into the metro economy. I guess metro would include an area almost an hour's drive from Halifax, encompassing 320,000 people. The efforts that are being made, of course, to ensure that there is some sort of longer term financial benefit arising from all of this G-7 Summit activity is that my colleague, the Honourable Robert Harrison, did go to Europe two weeks ago and I did pick up the American leg of things last week, all with the view to encouraging the media and the delegates, but especially the media in this case, to come early and stay late and enjoy all the attributes, all the many great aspects of this city and the province so that they can report on Nova Scotia and this city in an objective and positive manner.

MR. LEEFE: Unfortunately, I suspect those international journalists will be like a May snowstorm, they won't stay around very long, although they will be more welcome.

Mr. Speaker, my second question to the minister, will there be any infrastructure spending outside the metropolitan area with respect to G-7 Summit? If so, where?

MR. ABBASS: I guess the direct answer to that one, Mr. Speaker, is there is very little, if any, spending on infrastructure happening outside what would be known as the City of Halifax area. The taxpayers are watching very carefully how money is spent and how much money is spent and how long whatever is built will last.

We have kept our eye on the bottom line as much as possible, in determining which projects will be financed or funded with provincial money and which ones won't. Inevitably, of course, given that the meeting is happening in a seven storey building called Summit Place, on the Halifax harbourfront, most of the infrastructure built will be adjacent to or very close to that particular location.

MR. LEEFE: Again, to the same minister, Mr. Speaker, the minister in an earlier response to a question put by the Leader of the Opposition, made reference to collective memory. It seems that the government's collective memory forgot what is probably the most historic building in downtown Halifax, the one in which this Chamber is located, Province House, especially at a time when there is work that could well be done here and could be covered under G-7 Summit spending, particularly with respect to security matters. If this building had been incorporated in the G-7 Summit plan, we might well have been able to incorporate it in such a way that we could have put in place certain security measures that would have lasted beyond the G-7 Summit and which now, if they are put in place, it appears will have to be paid for by the provincial taxpayers.

Would the minister please explain why it is that this building was not given any consideration with respect to siting any of the activities with respect to the G-7 Summit conference?

MR. ABBASS: I can confirm that very definitely this building was given and has been given every consideration as a location for the G-7 Summit related activities.

One that I can recall very clearly is that it was considered as the venue for the local medias hosting the international media. Literally, we could have set up some sort of courtesy suite, welcoming suite, with satellite link-up and all the technology which the World Trade and Convention Centre will have, we could have located that here.

There is nothing to say that that technology won't still be installed here. It is relatively unlikely simply because most of the international media will find it more convenient to be up the hill. But the last time I checked, this building was still destined to be used in some fashion by, we hope, at least, the local media; print, radio and TV. That will be more their call than our call. The offer has been made, I know, and we will just have to wait and see how it evolves.

On the other side of things, by way of longer lasting legacy, I can confirm that 150 Japanese media members have expressed an interest in coming early and staying later. They will be here longer, hopefully, than this most recent May snowstorm. We are hoping for more expressions of interest from the American media, German, et cetera. I can confirm that I had 30 members of the international media at the Bloomberg Centre. If you are from New York, you would know that that is a well-recognized media outlet. There is a fellow named Michael Bloomberg who actually supplies all the stock traders with their quotrons and quote machines. He is well recognized in the City of New York. So that apparently brought out a good turn-out of the bureau chiefs or their representatives there.

In Washington, we had the Washington press corps come out in about the same numbers, about 35 or so. As you know, in Washington, if the President even skins his knee, that can distract them. So fortunately, he did not skin his knee that day. We had a very good turnout and we had everyone from the Washington Post through to the Wall Street Journal and the reaction was very favourable.

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 responsible for the Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission. Of course the minister will know that she and the commission for which she is responsible has the responsibility to regulate and control casinos, to protect the public interest, in accordance with the principles of honesty and integrity.

I am also sure the minister will be aware that one of the RCMP officers who had conducted the security checks on those companies wishing to establish the casinos in Nova Scotia was himself appointed as the head of security for ITT Sheraton.

My question to the minister, does the minister feel that the hiring decision, which put into direct conflict the interests of Nova Scotians, to make sure that there was a fully independent security check and an impartial security check into conflict with the interests of that officer for future employment with that casino, does that decision meet the high standards of integrity which the commission is responsible for enforcing?

[12:45 p.m.]

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: It is my belief that that appointment was made after he completed his security check so I see no conflict of interest at all.

MR. HOLM: Well, the minister may not see any conflict of interest, however, I would suggest that if the RCMP officer was a public servant under the meaning of our Act then, in fact, you would see a very definite conflict of interest. My question to the minister however is quite simply this. Has the minister yet asked the commission to review the appropriateness of that hiring?

MRS. NORRIE: Every employee involved with the casino will go through a security check and it is a very extensive security check and, as a result of extenuating that, everybody that is there, including that RCMP officer, will be checked by the surveillance that is done for every other employee that is hired at the Sheraton.

MR. HOLM: This particular gentleman and I am not questioning his personal integrity but he was hired even before the commission was appointed. The regulations make it quite clear that anybody who has worked for the casino, anybody who was an agent of the casino, anybody, in fact, who is a member of this House cannot serve on that commission, the Gaming Commission, for a period of three years.

There is no flip side to that. There is nothing that prevents those who are working for the commission to go to work for the casinos, in other words, those who they are supposed to be regulating. My question to the minister is quite simply this. Is the minister prepared to put in place now, to take steps to ensure that those who are involved in doing security checks on behalf of the commission cannot themselves then go and become employees for those upon whom they are doing the security checks?

MRS. NORRIE: If that is within my jurisdiction, yes, I would look into that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.



DR. JOHN HAMM: My question today is to the Minister of Government Supply and Services. Will the minister confirm here today that the present lease on office space which is used by the Department of Community Services is expiring and that, in fact, some time later this year the department will be moving into space in Summit Place?

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Yes, I will confirm that the lease is expiring but I will not confirm at this point that it will some time later this year be moving into Summit Place. When the announcement is made for the lease for Supply and Services, we can make that available to the member.

DR. HAMM: I had an opportunity to look at the tenders and certainly the tender on behalf of Summit Place to allow the department to move into Summit Place was by far the best. It provided for a rate of gross rental of $1,197 and the tenant improvements allowing a turnkey entrance were to be provided for by the landlord. Already, there are renovations occurring to Summit Place at the expense of taxpayers in preparation for the G-7 Summit. Would the minister confirm that the space which the department will be occupying is in the portion of the building that is now being renovated for the G-7 Summit?

MR. O'MALLEY: I have just indicated to the member that there is a transfer in the works for the Department of Municipal Affairs, but the actual space, the leasehold improvements and the location of that space have yet to be identified. That is why I indicated to the honourable member that the finalized arrangement for that lease has not been made.

DR. HAMM: By way of final supplementary then. I thank the minister for his answer. I realize that he might not be completely familiar with all the details, bearing in mind the tender was let before he became minister. Will the minister then undertake to assure that the province will receive financial recognition reflecting any renovations to Summit Place already paid for by taxpayers, which normally would be paid for by the landlord in fulfilling its contract with the province?

MR. O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, indeed the department, as it proceeds to consummate any final leasing agreement, will ensure that any taxpayers' dollars that have been infused into the facility will become part of the leasing arrangement, the leasing agreement, absolutely.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.


MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Human Resources. We were pleased to learn yesterday that the Bluenose II refit was completed and she was put in the water in Lunenburg. We congratulate the shipbuilders in Lunenburg for the excellent job that they have done. Could the minister tell me and the members of the Legislature today, will the Bluenose II be hosting the G-7 Summit Leaders, in Halifax Harbour or whatever?

HON. JAY ABBASS: The member sitting beside me asked me to refer that to him and actually, that is a question that more appropriately would be answered by the minister responsible for that particular vessel. (Interruptions)

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: It is a little like tag team, Mr. Speaker. (Interruption) Listen to the honourable critic from the Bluenose II. The question is whether or not the Bluenose will be used during the Summit. I hope so, but at this point we have not got the details of whether the Leaders will be on the vessel, near the vessel or learn about the vessel. Obviously, they will do the latter. The fact is that the Bluenose will be scheduled to be in and around Halifax during that time, obviously, and it is our hope that arrangements can be made. At this point, we do not have those details.

MR. MCINNES: I thank the honourable Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. Perhaps he cannot answer this question either. The details are not available as yet, but my question was, there will be many spouses and assistants to these people coming to the G-7 Summit. Will the Bluenose also be available to them?

MR. HARRISON: There are, obviously, some security reasons for these answers, but those details have not been confirmed yet, other than to say that the Bluenose II will be in the vicinity of Summit Place and all the activity that will take place here. She is our sailing ambassador to the world and will obviously have a prominent place in G-7 activities. How close various delegations and what levels of those delegations will get to her, I do not quite have the details. It is my hope that former crew members and the vessel herself will be something that is a special memory for the G-7 Leaders and the delegations that are here.

MR. MCINNES: I want to make it perfectly clear that I am very proud and pleased that the Bluenose will be back in Halifax and be available for those people. I have also heard rumours in regard to the G-7 Summit that you will be having tours to the Valley, perhaps even up to the great Pictou County. I will stay with the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. Could the minister advise me, are those tours being planned?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure whether this was in the context of spousal tours or media tours, but the answer is, both are being planned at the moment. Again, the details are difficult to work out. Certain Leaders have literally just been elected in the last few hours. Attempts are being made to make sure that our guests, whatever their needs and wishes are accommodated. The media were presented with invitations to come early and stay late and be substantive both in their reporting in their ability to enjoy the tourism time that they have here in the province. So both activities are in the works and, hopefully, as time progresses more details will be available.

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


MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the Premier is sitting back there very quietly today and I would like to direct my question to the Premier. On Page 185 of the Auditor General's Report, which was released last month, the Auditor General, when referring to the Strategic Highway Improvement Program, noted that all projects undertaken under the SHIP agreement must be part of our national highway system. As has been pointed out, the Minister of Transportation and Communications in concert with the federal Ministers Dingwall and Young rewrote the script, so to speak, and reappropriated $26 million to the secondary highway. The Auditor General indicated that the changes to the agreement are, in fact, insufficient to permit funding under the Strategic Highway Improvement Program.

My question to the Premier is this, will the Premier undertake to ensure the approximately $22 million that has not been expended on the secondary road in Cape Breton will be put back in its rightful place in the Strategic Highway Improvement Program fund?

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, I have highly competent ministers who answer questions and it is up to the Minister of Transportation now to give the answer perhaps to the member opposite. (Applause)

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I have here the report and recommendation to the Executive Council of March 31, 1993, making reference to the agreement between Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia, it refers to Schedule A and forms part of this report and recommendation. This says, "With the approval of the Governor in Council, the Minister may enter into and carry out an agreement with the Government of Canada or a Minister thereof for the construction within the Province of highways or portions thereof as part of a Trans Canada highway or of any other highway at the joint expense of Canada and of the Province and upon such terms and conditions as may be agreed upon.". Signed George Archibald, March 31, 1993. (Applause)

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to go to the Premier, again, through you. Obviously, from the Minister of Transportation and Communications' response, Nova Scotia's watchdog does not have near the clout that in fact the government watchdog has. Will the Premier indicate as to whether or not . . .

MR. SPEAKER: What are these watchdogs?

MR. TAYLOR: The Auditor General.

MR. SPEAKER: I think the Auditor General should be called the Auditor General.

MR. TAYLOR: Yes. Will the Premier indicate as to whether or not the federal Member of Parliament for Cumberland-Colchester has requested the Premier to review the reappropriation of funds from the Strategic Highway Improvement Program? Will the Premier answer that very simple question?


MR. TAYLOR: So, the Premier has received a request from the federal member for Cumberland-Colchester. Would the Premier tell this House and advise the House as to whether he has taken any action to ensure this type of amending the Strategic Highway Improvement Program is never permitted to happen again?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I referred it to the Minister of Transportation.

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to quote directly from the Strategic Highway Improvement Program signed by, on April 1st, Elmer MacKay, George Archibald and Donald Cameron: "Subject to clause 12.3, this Agreement may be amended from time to time as mutually agreed in writing by the Ministers.". The ministers being the Ministers of Transportation and Communications provincially, the Minister of Transport federally.

Mr. Speaker, the only thing that requires a change in the legislation is if the funding arrangement is being changed and the cost-sharing. Otherwise, it is set out in the contract the terms and conditions under which this can be amended. This has been tabled in the House, in fact, today I got a copy of this from the Clerk's Office. I had already tabled it, so I guess there is no need to do it again.

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Premier. In December 1993, this government enacted the minors Tobacco Access Act in an effort to deter youth from developing an early and all too often lifelong smoking addiction by making tobacco products legally inaccessible to them. Sixteen months later, according to Smoke-Free Nova Scotia, the law has become a joke, something to be sneered at by the very youth it was designed to protect. Frankly, it has become a joke because the government has yet to introduce any regulations to provide for enforcement of the Act.

My question to the honourable Premier is, why this government has not yet introduced these regulations and whether it is the intention of the government to get on with doing that?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health indicated to the Opposition that he had an honour that was being bestowed on him for the 25th Anniversary of an organization in the United States. He notified you that he would not be here today and tomorrow. He will be here Thursday and I can either get the Minister of Community Services who is standing in for him, or suggest that we might wait until he returns.

MS. MCDONOUGH: Well, Mr. Speaker, I suppose the Premier can't be blamed for trying to deflect the question, but I raise the question directly with him because Smoke-Free Nova Scotia, after repeated frustrations in not getting the Health Minister's response to this matter, wrote directly to the Premier several weeks ago to ask whether there is going to be some response. I would be happy to table that letter - and send a copy over to the Premier - expressing their concern, if I could table the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Is this a question now?

MS. MCDONOUGH: Well, the Premier said, would I please give him a copy of the letter so that is what I agreed to do. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: All right. The letter is tabled.

AN HON. MEMBER: It would be the first time he ever saw the letter.

MS. MCDONOUGH: Having refreshed the Premier's recollection of this letter, Mr. Speaker, I would again ask him to address the topic. There has been a 5 per cent increase in smoking addiction among Nova Scotia youth over the last couple of years. There has now been nothing but an empty shell in place in the form of minors Tobacco Access Act without regulations and I would ask the Premier, how is it consistent with this government's health promotion policy and supposed attempt to de-escalate increasing health costs to not proclaim and introduce the regulations that would give this minors Tobacco Access Act some teeth?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this was received by my office, I guess, about the 27th or 28th of April. I think a preliminary letter has gone off and I think the letter has been passed to the Minister of Health for his comments. That is the normal standard process. I should say that as someone who has been associated with efforts to reduce smoking, particularly in minors all my life, I share the member's concern and I will pass it on to the Minister of Health, as I have done.

MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, the Premier asks us to recognize that he has followed the normal procedure which is to refer this yet again to the Minister of Health who keeps not responding and that is why Smoke-Free Nova Scotia has come to him directly. I want to ask the Premier, whether it is now becoming normal procedure with this government, that they introduce legislation with great fanfare knowing that it has no teeth? It is not possible to enforce compliance, it is not possible to do any meaningful enforcement and do they introduce such legislation for public relations reasons only or are they going to follow what has been the normal procedure in the past and that is to introduce regulations?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will answer the first part by saying no.

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


MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Communications. I have a copy of the Strategic Highway Improvement Program too, and the purpose and objective of the ". . . Agreement is to enable Canada and Nova Scotia to jointly finance certain improvements of the Nova Scotia National Highway System, in accordance with strategy . . .".

AN HON. MEMBER: Does that include Highway No. 104?

MR. TAYLOR: I thought it included Highway No. 104, yes. Now the Minister of Transportation has espoused the new needs-based road matrix system with his department as the fairest way to determine what work will be done on the province's roads and highways. Will the minister indicate whether or not the department's engineers and supervisors, have the authority to develop priority lists for roadwork which in turn are approved by the minister?

HON. RICHARD MANN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the engineering staff of the department, through the area managers, through the district directors to the head office engineering section do draw up the priority lists and apply criteria to those. Obviously, the capital program has to be agreed on by the minister and the authorization given.

It is very interesting that the preamble to the member's question once again involved the Strategic Highway Improvement Program. He has a copy of it. I am very pleased he has the copy. I invite him to look through that copy, take a look at what his colleague - who is sitting to his left - the former Leader of that Party, Donald Cameron, and federal minister Elmer MacKay signed on April 1st.

I have listened repeatedly, Mr. Speaker, to the allegation that they had the money to complete Highway No. 104. I have a newspaper clipping here, when the two Georges went to Amherst last week, that said, we had the money to do it. Now that agreement that he has in his hands will clearly show that the money is not there to do it. So when he gets back to his feet, will he please tell us where the money went that was going to do it. (Applause)

MR. TAYLOR: You know, the more you know, the more you don't know.

Mr. Speaker, a very simple question to the Minister of Transportation and Communications, will the minister - the minister always tries to deflect justified criticism away from himself to the previous government, he does that continually; he never accepts responsibility for his own actions - will he indicate whether or not the secondary road in Cape Breton, the Fleur-de-lis Trail, has ever been placed on his department staff's priority list relative to the needs-based road assessment matrix?

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of documents pertaining to the Fleur-de-lis Trail. Let's read from one of them, "The Hon. Kenneth Stretch", this is from the Richmond County Progressive Conservative Association - this says, "Dear Mr. Minister: On behalf of our President, Parker Stone, and all of the Richmond executive I would like to thank you for the interest you have shown in the Fleur de Lis project. Following your advice we have met with the Presidents of those areas . . .". They have attached a document signed by those presidents, including the President of the PC Association of Nova Scotia, Alfie MacLeod.

MR. TAYLOR: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think it is reasonable to assume then that the Fleur-de-lis Trail is not on the new needs-based road assessment matrix that that minister talks about so often.

Will the minister make the commitment that he will table, no later than tomorrow and perhaps this afternoon, the staff priority list in which the Fleur-de-lis Trail is at the top of the needs-based road assessment matrix, his new system, will he table it?

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, in April 1993 - now recognize the significance of that date, there were a lot of people knocking on doors at that time - there was a group of people from Framboise, and Grand River and those areas in Richmond County who came up to meet with the then minister, George Archibald, who directed staff to look after them, look after their concerns and get on with the Fleur-de-lis project.

They had a brief - the PC Associations got together and had a brief - let me read from it, "With the cooperation of the federal government through the Hon. John Crosby, Premier Cameron can generate massive public awareness and island-wide support. This `Cape Breton Initiative' will benefit all Nova Scotians but, as well, will give our Party a main Cape Breton plank in the forthcoming election.".


MR. MANN: "In tandem with the Regional Hospital our Party meets the future health and economic needs of Cape Bretoners . . . It's a visionary and progressive undertaking. Further, by completing the 104 highway from St. Peter's through to the North Sydney by-pass, Premier Cameron will have seriously eroded Mr. MacLean's support on the island.", that would be nice, I guess.

Again, I invite someone and I know I am being lengthy but I would invite someone opposite, when they take their feet, to tell us where the $55 million went that they said they had to build the Highway No. 104 western alignment because when I got to the department it wasn't there, when I look at the SHIP agreement, it is not there. They put the Transportation Fund into general revenues so if they are suggesting that that $55 million be ripped from Health, Education, or the general revenues of the province, tell us from what programs it should come.

MR. SPEAKER: The member for Halifax Atlantic.


MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I hate to change the subject, for entertainment value alone, it would be good to stay there. I would like to direct a question to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. I don't mean to disappoint the audience. With respect to the one-stop information in service centres that are planned for the province there are five of them, as you may know, planned, one of the has already been opened in Kentville and the staffing of those centres was to be done through secondment. If I may, and I would be happy to table this May 4, 1994, customer service assignment notice that staff through reassignment of current employees of Nova Scotia provincial, municipal and federal governments.

We know that in Kentville, a former employee of the Liberal caucus office is now the manager there and I would just like to ask the minister if he could explain even why it is that this person, who obviously didn't qualify for secondment under the basis of being an employee of a Nova Scotia provincial, municipal or federal government department, in fact, was seconded into the position of manager of that facility?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: We are prepared to table at the end of this Question Period or shortly thereafter a full briefing for the member opposite. We made a commitment last week when this question was first raised to provide him with a full briefing in answer to his questions concerning the hiring process that took place, the qualifications of the people and to a certain extent why the access centres are being delayed in their implementation and I fully intend to do so, we are just waiting for another piece of information to do just that. The member will receive all the information he needs from which to base questions such as this.

MR. CHISHOLM: I appreciate the fact that I am going to receive that information. I still have asked the minister a fairly direct question that I assume if he is going to provide me a written answer that means he has an answer himself on why it is somebody from the Liberal caucus office who obviously doesn't qualify for the secondment conditions that were originally established would be moved into a provincial government position, a Public Service position. What is the idea here? Are we setting up one-stop Liberal constituency offices around the province? Obviously, he has gone from a political position into a Public Service position. I would like to ask the minister if he could explain why the divergence from the plan that was originally set out?

MR. HARRISON: There are two elements to his question but obviously he doesn't qualify in divergence from the original place. As indicated, there will be a full briefing to this member in fairly short order given the question was asked, I believe, last Thursday and I fully intend to do so. I believe that in that briefing he will get the answers to all of his questions and more.

MR. CHISHOLM: Surely, the minister does not suggest that we don't have Question Period and we are not going to participate in Question Period. That is what it is all about, if I wanted a written answer I would have supplied a written question. The minister couldn't answer the question, so that is why he said he would provide it to me in an answer.

[1:15 p.m.]

Anyway, that having been said, perhaps the minister could give me some indication. Mr. Balcom, the manager of the Kentville centre, is telling people that these centres are not costing taxpayers any money. Yet, Mr. Speaker, people who applied for these positions, in particular the information officers, have just received, as of March 14, 1995, a letter cancelling the information officer competition, because of budgetary restrictions for the upcoming fiscal year.

I wonder if the minister could explain why it is that the manager of his first one-stop business centre is, in fact, giving out different information than is being provided by his own department on the cost implications of this particular facility?

MR. HARRISON: On this particular question, Mr. Speaker, first of all when the honourable member says he didn't ask for a written answer, in fact that is exactly what he asked for last week. The commitment was made to provide him with written answers to rather detailed questions and the final question, a somewhat complicated question, about the implementation of the access centre, which leads to his last question, which is the possibility that there may actually be a fiscal responsibility to the implementation of any government program.

It seems to me that we are not in conflict here. If we are implementing something that is new, there are budget implications. Sometimes there are pressures on those budget implications, given the expenditure control program that would affect every program of government, including new and innovative ones. So, if we are now asked for a detailed answer for why there may be some budget changes in regard to access centres, I would be more than happy to again return to the department, provide the information as I will do today on last week's question, and provide the information for the member opposite in a few days.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.


MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: My question is for the Minister of Supply and Services. The government unveiled a new White Paper on procurement on April 21st. You said at the time that as of June 1, 1996, all municipal units, hospitals, school boards, will have to adhere to the policy. Also there was a deadline of May 12th as the cutoff date for public submissions on the White Paper. Is there any particular reason why the municipal units in Nova Scotia have not been informed of this policy, as of this date?

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, the municipal units, along with all other entities across this province, have been informed, both publicly in this House by circulation of the document across this province. Orders were given in our department to centralize these documents from one end of this province to the other. That was done immediately, on a print, and they are available at a multitude of outlets, from one end of the province to the other.

Mr. Speaker, I might indicate to the honourable member that if he is speaking of a given municipal unit that has not received this particular document then I would look to the individual unit because the department has received numerous responses from many associations and from other municipal units.

Now it may be a municipal unit in which there is no participation through the MUSH Program. On that basis they are not mandated unless they are receiving funding from the Province of Nova Scotia to participate. I would look to the municipal unit as not having the initiative necessary to search out the document because it is made available from one end of the province to the other.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: My question is to the Minister of Justice. I wonder if the Minister of Justice would confirm for this House that he and his officials are, at present, engaged in negotiations with the RCMP, relative to the provision by the RCMP of additional staff and personnel for investigation and surveillance and security purposes, relative to the establishment of casino gaming here in the City of Halifax?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I am not personally involved with such discussions but some discussions have gone on and, in fact, I think have been concluded. It may well be that there are some further discussions going on.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition. I think this will be the last one, time is almost up.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, the minister says that he has not been involved but that there have been discussions. Perhaps since we have only half a minute, would the Minister of Justice give an undertaking to this House that he will table here in this place tomorrow the details of the discussions or any agreement concluded with the RCMP resulting in the provision of additional RCMP officers, relative to casino gaming, and indicating in that report the dollar amount required to be paid by the taxpayers of Nova Scotia to meet the conditions of that contract?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I can make a commitment to do it tomorrow, but in the reasonably near future I will undertake to determine the number of police officers and the approximate cost of those officers and I would be glad to make that available in the near future.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. This afternoon, a few minutes ago, and it provided, I am sure, some comic relief, at least for a number of members of this House. The minister read quite extensively from a couple of letters, one of which he tabled. My point is that I think all members of this House would like to have the opportunity to receive the other letter the minister also quoted quite extensively, with references to Mr. Crosbie, Mr. MacLean, and so on. My point is to ask the minister to table today a copy of that letter.

HON. RICHARD MANN: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker. Actually, I told him I would do that and I will. I will get to that in just a second, if he would wait. Also, someone asked for a copy of the SHIP agreement that I referred to and I tabled that, I think, three or three and one-half weeks ago. In fact, I got my own copy today from the Clerk's Office.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Supply and Services.

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the time of the House just to indicate that in the press gallery, we are losing a man who has been with us for a number of years, writing on behalf of the Legislature, writing on behalf of those in Nova Scotia who have not been able to defend themselves, in many cases, an advocate of those who haven't been able to defend themselves against sometimes bureaucracies and sometimes the non-application of the laws of the province, Mr. Bart Armstrong, who is going to leave Nova Scotia this afternoon for British Columbia. We will miss him, Bart Armstrong. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 15.

Bill No. 15 - Bridgewater Ribes Regulation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 15, the Bridgewater Ribes Regulation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I don't know whether it is a misspelling in the order paper, but I am curious - I don't want to detain the minister and certainly I intend to support him - what does ribes mean?

MR. SPEAKER: I also see that the bill is entitled the Bridgetwater Ribes Regulation Act.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Yes, there are a couple of typos here, it is supposed to be Bridgewater. Ribes is latin for cranberry bush . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Genus and species.

MR. DOWNE: It depends on how you pronounce the Latin word.

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.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 16.

Bill No. 16 - Kentville Memorial Park Commission Act.

Bill No. 17 - Kentville Rink Commission Act.

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

The motion is carried.

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


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[1:30 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]

[5:27 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]

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

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

MADAM SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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


MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 10.

Bill No. 10 - Highway 104 Western Alignment Act.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West. I believe you have 40 minutes remaining.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, I don't intend to take that amount of time. One of the issues surrounding Bill No. 10 is the tolls and the truckers. In July, I believe of this year, the Freight Subsidy Program is being cancelled by the federal government, as I understand it and, under the cancellation of the Freight Subsidy Program, each province will get some amount of money. My understanding is that the Atlantic Provinces will get from the federal government, in lieu of that Freight Subsidy Program, $326 million.

[5:30 p.m.]

I understand that this province will probably get roughly 26 per cent, which would probably be about $84 million. I don't know how the province plans to spend this amount of money, this $84 million that the federal government is going to give to this province but, in talking with one of the local truckers who transports goods in and out of the province, they indicated to me that the number of things this government has done in the last couple of years with raising fuel tax, with other costs, they are looking at - and with the Freight Subsidy Program being taken off - a cost of 20 per cent to 23 per cent to the trucking industry in this province.

I know that the trucking community is putting together a position paper because there comes a point, Madam Speaker, tolls in itself, somebody might say are not harmful, but tolls added to all the other costs of shipping goods in and out of Nova Scotia will add to the cost of doing business in Nova Scotia and the cost to the trucking industry, obviously, will have to be passed on to the consumers.

One of the things they were very much concerned about in Amherst was the fact that a lot of people will start doing business in New Brunswick because they won't have to pay the toll from Amherst. They can slip over to Sackville in New Brunswick, get their building supplies, get things like that. I think their feeling in Amherst is that the downtown businesses will suffer, dollars will be spent outside of Nova Scotia for goods and the provincial tax, obviously, will be paid to New Brunswick. So, there is a concern.

I guess, part of the concern, the minister indicated, I think yesterday, there were groups or he had been approached by some people wanting the roads to be built via the toll route. Well, I didn't get the feeling in Amherst or in Cumberland that that was an approach they would like to take. I guess it begs the whole question, are we in for tolls on other highways? The minister indicated yesterday that no decision has been made. I am sure, probably a year ago, there was no decision made to put tolls on this Highway No. 104. So, in actual fact, even though the government may not have any plans, this could take off.

I think being a Nova Scotian, it doesn't make me very proud to think that we, in Nova Scotia, are going to have the first tolls on the Trans Canada Highway in all of Canada. I think that there are other ways of building highways. If we did go the toll route, if it was the fact that we have to go the toll route, I haven't been able to figure out why government didn't do it. We don't build roads and the minister says we are going to the private sector. Private sector, to my knowledge, Mr. Speaker, has built every 100-Series Highway road in the province. It is my understanding and it always has been that they go to tender and the lowest bidder gets the job and we have good contractors in this province, many good contractors who have done good quality work in this province, very capable of building the road.

Now, if the province borrowed the money and they paid it back over a period of time from the tolls, the minister got up yesterday and indicated the province could borrow I think at 8.5 per cent. So if the province could borrow at 8.5 per cent, we know the private sector can't borrow at 8.5 per cent, because I know that to be a fact, and if the private sector can't borrow at 8.5 per cent and the private sector is going to borrow the money to do this road and then we are going to allow the private sector to make a profit off the road, it is going to take longer for the tolls to pay off that road than if the government borrowed the $80 million and took the tolls to pay down the debt, because the private sector will build the road anyway.

So, I haven't been able to figure out the logic that the government wouldn't, in fact, borrow the $80 million and pay if off through the tolls, if that is the way they say they have to go. They could do it cheaper, because I am a firm believer that when those highway portions were put out to tender, in the past, it shows that the government would get very good prices for many of these contractors. So I cannot figure out the logic and I hope someone from the government stands up and explains to me the mathematics that shows to me that the government will say, well, where do we get the money.

I honestly believe that the government could borrow the money knowing they were going to pay it out of the tolls, that would not be a problem. They would borrow it at 8.5 per cent. It would be cheaper for the government to go that route than it would be to go this corporation route. So if, and I have to say, Mr. Speaker, I am not in favour of the tolls, but if that was a fact of life, then I have not heard an explanation of why we are going this route.

The people in Colchester County are concerned about, as well as the industrial park in Amherst, saying, you know, if companies are going to locate in Moncton or they are going to locate in Halifax or Debert and they are going to ship to Upper Canada, you are going to say, well, let me see, it is $10 to $20 - who knows how much, a minimum of $10 probably for each truck - and you get the truck going both ways and you start adding on the cost. I mean there are some trucking companies that use that road that say they could pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year using that road.

Will a company locate in Moncton or will it locate in the industrial park in Debert or in Halifax? Well, if you are a good businessman you are not going to add an extra cost of tolls, you are going to try to do it somewhere where you do not have to pay tolls. Why would a business locate in Amherst if you are shipping to Halifax or shipping out by ship? You would obviously go beyond the tolls and you could put up in Debert if you are shipping out by container ship because you again would not have to pay the tolls.

Since there is no way around this toll, I do not think the government appreciates what long-term effects this toll could have on industry coming into this province. I think that is a part that has not been considered. We have not had a full report of the Andersen Report. There was one page leaked that gave a sort of an analysis of why the toll booth had to be where it is going to be so that nobody cheats or goes around. So they are going to catch many more people and they are going to catch the local traffic.

I wonder if that report dealt with the effect of tolls on businesses and industry in the area and what kind of an effect it would have. I am not sure that the government has done any study to my knowledge that says that, other than how to do it, tolls are actually an economic generator for this province.

There was not a municipal leader in Cumberland County that did not voice their concerns. One of the things they voiced was that if a government has a problem and their problem was funding Highway No. 104, we all acknowledge that road needs to be twinned, they found it very strange that there were no meetings with the local people to give them the options and allow them to have some input in the decision that the government came to. I think they have a very legitimate beef with a government that got elected who said, part of our promise is that we will consult, we will allow local input and by allowing local input we will have local partnerships and we will get on with an economic growth like you have never seen before in this province.

Now they are up there in Cumberland County scratching their heads saying, well, not only did they not even consult, they do not even come and explain. So you got two issues and I can understand, if I was living in the local area I would be upset with the process as well.

Maybe if they were given an opportunity, the Minister of Transportation could convince them - he is very good at convincing - that, yes, look this is in the best interests of your community and the communities around there and these are the options we had and this was the best option. That approach I would encourage and say that that would go a long way to the people of the area feeling that they are not isolated from decisions that the government is making.

I think if the government has a good message to tell and they claim they do, then for Heaven's sake, don't be afraid to tell it. The truckers feel that they pay high fuel costs. I think it was illustrated that a typical tractor trailer travelling 100,000 miles per year, and that is not uncommon for truckers, they pay $11,704 in taxes for one truck for one year. That is a lot of money. The government collects from the trucking industry alone over $59 million annually on the tax on the fuel.

They have not been able to rationalize just exactly why this toll is being applied. I think if the government would go back to Cumberland and Colchester Counties, I know that when the three routes were put on the table, the east, the west and down the valley there were public meetings for people to come and get information and people were allowed to ask questions and a final decision was made. Now we have a process where that is not happening and they feel left out of this whole process although they feel that it is their lives that are directly being affected by a decision made in Halifax affecting them, specifically in those two counties. Yes, other people will pay the tolls and that is a given, but other people will not use that highway the same number of times as the people from the local area.

We have not heard that there will be a special rate for the local areas, in other words, they will not pay $3.00 they will get a book of tickets and they will pay $1.00 each way. We have not heard if there will be any kind of a discount for local traffic, but as we know in the past, there have been, on toll roads, discounts for local travellers or anybody who wants to put out the money and buy a book of tickets or even if you go across the bridge. I guess it used to be you got a break buying the tokens, but I am not sure if it is now 75 cents for everyone, maybe it is, I have not calculated it. I know in the past there used to be a saving.

The other thing that one has to wonder about is the kind of partnership that this whole thing is creating. As I understand it, the minister will be on the corporation, but I assume that no minister will be Minister of Transportation, probably forever, and I am wondering what staff will be involved in that corporation that is being put together.

It seems to me that this whole legislation of performing a corporation is just an added cost to the system. We have a Department of Transportation that, I am sure, could have let out the tenders and we could have borrowed the money, paid off the debt and we could have overseen the operation. We now have a corporation that is going to be appointed by the minister. We do not know what remuneration these people are going to get and how this thing is all going to shake down. I don't know about the loan guarantees that the private sector, whether the government will guarantee any loans.

[5:45 p.m.]

What happens if this company does not make it, the private sector or the group that puts it together? What happens if the numbers that are put together for the tolls, the numbers that are supposed to give a return, is the government going to subsidize? Is there going to be any guarantee to the group, the private sector, so that if there is a shortfall in the tolls, the government in some way will subsidize it? So, there are a number of questions in the legislation itself that probably will come up in the Law Amendments Committee and probably will come up as we go into committee, to get some clarification on some of the clauses, because some of the clauses are not clear.

The other area that is of great concern to Nova Scotians is accountability. As this government moves on in its secretive way, it becomes less and less accountable. If we are going to have government money into such a project, there has to be a way that the Auditor General can do the kinds of audits to make sure that the money spent there is handled in a proper manner. So, there are those kinds of questions.

I think, Mr. Speaker, it is very much a sad day for Nova Scotia that we have gone to a toll highway, especially a toll highway where there is no alternative route. If you go to anywhere else in North America that you have toll highways, you have an alternative route that you can take. Even though it is not as short or not as good, you can go the alternative route. This government, the way they have put the toll booth, you cannot go the old route. The truckers cannot go the old route. The only way you can go the old route is still pay the toll, unless you want to go 12 miles out of the way on a very back road. It is not really fair.

If the government feels that the truckers can save so much money and it is so much faster and everybody wants to use it, what is allowing people to have alternative route? (Interruptions) Well, if the minister is saying that it won't be safe, if his theory is right, that this is the best way to travel and the cheapest way to travel, there won't be much traffic on the other road but then at least someone can have that choice. If the minister is not correct, if this is not the best way to travel or is not the shortest, then his theory does not hold up. People then would, obviously, use the older route. But that is not the theory that he is telling everybody. So, either he is telling us that it is the fact or it is not. That is what people have to try to figure out. If what he is saying is true, and I believe him to be true, that people will choose that route, then surely, allow them the alternative route, if they so choose.

You know, people going skiing, if you are from Halifax or Truro, you don't pay. If you're from Amherst, you do pay. It doesn't matter what you try and do, if you are from Amherst, you are going to be penalized, if you are going to participate in anything else in Nova Scotia, be it recreational skiing at Wentworth Valley. So, it doesn't really matter. These people are going to be hit, hit in a way that I believe is very unfair.

With those few words, Mr. Speaker, I am going to wrap up, but I have to say I am not going to support Bill No. 10. I don't think we need tolls in Nova Scotia. I think it is very bad legislation and I will be opposing this legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this evening and speak for a little while on the bill before us, the bill that has been heralded as facilitating the first official public/private initiative that this government is becoming involved in, certainly with respect to capital construction.

Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity during debate on an amendment, an amendment that suggested that this matter be referred to the Public Accounts Committee, had the opportunity to raise some of the concerns I had about the assumptions being made here by the government that underlie the principle or that are the foundation of the principle behind Bill No. 10, that is that this public/private initiative will save the taxpayers of Nova Scotia money.

I fail to see the evidence of that. The minister or other members of Cabinet have not provided this House with any evidence of why, in fact, this is going to save money. There has been no information presented to the people of Nova Scotia to suggest that this public/private initiative is going to save money. There is a lot of rhetoric, there is a lot of faith that this government or this minister is expecting Nova Scotians to accept that, in fact, the whole idea, and this government has carried on the same way the previous government has, that is to try to denigrate public services, to denigrate anything the government does, so that it can more easily turn over public services and the provision of public services and public infrastructure to the private sector. In other words, as in this case, they are saying we can do it cheaper, we can do it faster, we can do it more efficiently if we have the private sector in control of the operation.

It is a clear admission I think, Mr. Speaker, that this minister and his department and anybody else who is looking after such a major project are not competent to handle that job. I would like to suggest to the minister that if he doesn't feel particularly competent then maybe he should take a back seat and let someone else do it. I am sure there are other members of his caucus who could probably feel some confidence that they could take on such a challenge. The challenge is clearly to be able to manage the operation of this kind of a project, to manage it to raise money, to organize the design as well as the construction phase, to ensure you put into place the specific timetables, performance measurements and so on, to ensure that this work is done.

You would almost think that the way roads have been built in the past is they have been built with public sector companies or machinery and equipment and people from the Department of Transportation. There have been some members of the Department of Transportation involved. Perhaps if we had more members of that department involved in actual construction in the past, we would not have had some of the problems we have had, but that is another issue for another day.

It is members of the Roadbuilders Association of Nova Scotia who have been involved in the construction of highways in the Province of Nova Scotia. What the government does through the Department of Transportation is that in most cases they provide the design and engineering and then in terms of the actual operation and construction, it is contracted out to private companies, companies that apparently have been quite able to do things in the past.

One of the criticisms has been, though, that there will be more costs. One wonders then if the private sector under that arrangement couldn't be trusted to do it most efficiently and for the best price then why, all of a sudden, are they going to be expected to do the right thing under this kind of arrangement?

Those questions have to be asked and I think the people of Nova Scotia feel that they have to be answered. I don't know what would prevent the government under this minister from carrying forward with the commitment that his Premier made, back in 1993, that they would construct a highway within the next two years. Had, in fact, he followed up on that commitment then, you know, maybe we would be well on the way to having that western alignment already in place.

This whole issue of trying to find a safer alternative to the area that is unfortunately known as death valley has been a matter that has gone on for some considerable number of years now and it keeps getting put off, and still we have a proposal here today and, in fact, if we were to engage in an effort to get some changes to the bill or something like that we would probably be accused of filibustering and delaying the bill and, therefore, jeopardizing the lives of people that drive over that highway. That is the kind of politics that has been played with this particular piece of highway and the whole commitment to construct a piece of roadway, a safe highway along this particular area.

To suggest that because we are going to farm it out to this unaccountable private corporation, this consortium which will be formed by this bill into a corporation, I think is the height of folly and I think that not only is the minister and his colleagues fooling themselves, they are trying to fool Nova Scotians. I don't think, certainly from what I have heard so far, that Nova Scotians are buying it. They want to know some of the assumptions, they want to know why it is that all of a sudden this is going to save our taxpayers so much money, why it is going to be done faster because it is private when it was, a very similar private arrangement before, why is it going to save the taxpayers money if a private corporation is going to borrow money at a rate more expensive than to the Government of Nova Scotia?

We often get accused here in the NDP caucus of - in fact, the Minister of Finance, suggested to my colleague the member for Halifax Fairview, during discussions on private/public partnership yesterday in estimates - you know, because there is profit doesn't mean it is bad. That is not what we are saying, that is not what anybody in this caucus is saying or any Nova Scotians that are concerned about this deal are saying. At the same time, just because it is private it doesn't mean it is better; just because it is being handled by the private sector doesn't mean that it is automatically going to be more efficient both in terms of time and energy, as well as resources, than it would be if it was handled by the public sector.

The other question is, should something like part of the national transportation system even be in the hands of private interests who are looking for sufficient return in order to make this all worthwhile?

[6:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Now, we have reached the moment of interruption. The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic still has the floor but, in his trucking, he will have to shift gears because we are now coming to a new topic:

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals should fulfil their commitment to ensure maximum coal mining and other Nova Scotian employment through Nova Scotia Power rather than sit on the sidelines while two corporations built up by the public squabble about how to cut jobs.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.


MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I rise today and I put this issue into the pot for late debate for two reasons. One is because, as you know, I have raised the issue a number of times in the House over the past number of months and years, for that matter, I am concerned about the relationship between Nova Scotia Power and Devco and in particular the latest round of negotiations and the effect that is having on coal miners in Cape Breton, in particular, and certainly on all Cape Bretoners.

Also, because of the fact that you will recall on Friday, I initiated a debate on the question of National Sea and their attempt to criticize workers and the member for Cape Breton South said, and I quote from the newspaper, "Why don't you talk about Nova Scotia Power and what they are doing to Cape Breton . . . I don't hear you talking about what's being done to the coal miners.".

So, I just wanted to take the opportunity today, Mr. Speaker, to address that, because I think what that member raised was a good point and that is, what is being done in terms of the interest of coal and the coal industry in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, the whole basis of the resolution was raising a question about this government's commitments that were made while in Opposition to use indigenous coal; recognizing the need for regulations to restrict Nova Scotia Power's monopoly; and ensure that socio-economic factors are, in fact, taken into account when it comes to setting rates and making business decisions.

Mr. Speaker, you will recall that in the summer of 1993, Nova Scotia Power proposed to go offshore in order to buy some coal and the Premier stepped in and negotiated with the President of Nova Scotia Power not to do that. It was suggested at that time that the Premier was going in there carrying a pretty big stick and that stick was the favoured company status of Nova Scotia Power that had been accorded it under the privatization legislation, the exemptions from the Planning Act, Building Codes and the exclusive wheeling rights and the fact that these benefits could easily be rescinded.

So, the idea is that the Premier walked in and he said - and I am hypothesizing here to some extent - to the President of Nova Scotia Power, this is what we want, you watch yourself because you remember when we were in Opposition we said we were going to do this, this and this to Nova Scotia Power and we can still do that.

Well, my question is, what has changed from the summer of 1993 to now? We don't hear this government talking at all about putting restrictions on the operation of Nova Scotia Power. We don't hear them getting involved particularly actively on the whole question of operating with indigenous coal. It raises the question, I think for me and that is, what kind of a deal has this government made with Nova Scotia Power? It has been alleged, you know, Mr. Speaker, you will recall over the last number of years that Robbie Shaw was a well-connected Liberal, that he has roots back to the Premier Gerald Regan office as a former advisor and that he has a lot of sway with Liberal Governments and with the Liberal Party.

The question that has to be asked is, has Mr. Shaw, as the Vice-President of Nova Scotia Power, cut a sweetheart deal with this Liberal Government and members of this Cabinet and this caucus in order to benefit the shareholders, the majority of which are from outside this province, such shareholders as Chase Manhattan Bank, Morgan Guaranty Trust and, again, as I have indicated, the thousands of others from outside this province?

The sabre rattling and the backroom deal making, Mr. Speaker, is making Cape Breton coal miners and their families pretty anxious, pretty anxious, indeed, because this is the year that Devco is being weaned from federal subsidies and if they are forced to accept the kind of prices that Nova Scotia Power is talking about right now, they simply will not survive. The question that has to be asked is, is this the ultimate goal? Is the game plan here, grind Devco to its knees so it will have to be privatized? Will it become like a part-time coal mine like they have in New Brunswick under the control of N.B. Power where it operates for eight months a year all the while they are importing oil and coal from offshore?

I think those are questions that have to be answered and I will tell you what, were I a member of that caucus, were I a member of that Cabinet, by God the answers would be forthcoming. I would like to ask the member for Cape Breton South and all the other silent Cape Breton MLAs, what is going on here? Has there been some kind of a deal? Please explain to me why it is that the President of the United Mine Workers in Sydney has not been contacted. Why has he not heard from one of you, not one of you? No letter, no telephone call, nothing in the media, not a boo, not a word; he hasn't even had the courtesy of a response to a letter to the Minister of Natural Resources or from the Premier on this question.

People are asking, what are the MLAs from Cape Breton doing on this? Is there a deal and what is going on? Give us an indication because there is real pressure building in terms of the coal industry in Cape Breton and one has to know what is going on. As far as I can tell, as far as they can tell, nothing is happening. It is like there has been a deal made between this government, between Nova Scotia Power and between Devco, throw in Dave Dingwall there, maybe he is involved, where they are going to jam Devco into the ground, they are going to privatize Devco as a result of that and what you are going to see is 2,200-plus jobs leave.

What is it that we are hearing from the member for Cape Breton South and from other members? Let us find somebody to blame. He shouted, what are you doing about Nova Scotia Power, what are you doing about what Nova Scotia Power is doing? My question to him, and this is coming from the coal miners, is what is he doing?

What is he doing about Nova Scotia Power and about Devco? What is he doing about the silence of this government, about their commitments to indigenous coal to ensuring that the coal industry is viable in the Province of Nova Scotia? Why the silence? Why the deafening silence? Where is the commitment of these members of this government to the coal mining industry in Nova Scotia? All that has been done so far to meet that challenge, that challenge has been met with stony silence and, I would suggest, a hope and a prayer that it will all work out in the long run.

Let me tell you, people are concerned, people are upset, people are suffering from the anxiety of perhaps losing their livelihoods; an industry in Nova Scotia as important as the coal industry this government cannot be silent on. They have to involve themselves, they know how important that industry is, they know the fact that Nova Scotia Power has to deal with Devco. We need to have a policy in this province.

If Nova Scotia Power cannot deal with Devco on a reasonable and a rational basis in order to ensure that that industry is viable in the Province of Nova Scotia, then maybe it is time that these guys came forward with some regulations. Maybe it is time that they made that company a Crown Corporation again like they talked about when they were in Opposition.

The concern first and foremost is that members of this government, members for Cape Breton, the member for Cape Breton South and others are looking for scapegoats, Mr. Speaker. While the house of cards comes falling down around coal miners in Cape Breton, all you are going to hear from the member for Cape Breton South and others is that it was Robbie Shaw or it was Nova Scotia Power or it was somebody from the mainland. Well, I think it is time that member and that all members in this government stand up, be counted and start giving some answers and some support to the commitments that you made to the people who elected you. Thank you.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: It is a pleasure to rise this evening and join in the debate on the Motion Under Rule 5(5). I want to read the motion again into the record because I am quite confused about just what this motion states.

It is hard to tell what the member for Halifax Atlantic or, indeed, the entire NDP caucus stand for here, because they are simply saying, be ". . . be it resolved that the Liberals should fulfil their commitment to ensure maximum coal mining and other Nova Scotian employment through Nova Scotia Power rather than sit on the sidelines while two corporations built up by the public squabble about how to cut jobs.".

I cannot tell by this resolution whether the NDP is for or against and I cannot tell what they are for or against. I guess they are against jobs. Nevertheless, I have a news flash for the member for Halifax Atlantic that the previous Cameron Government in this province sold Nova Scotia Power three years ago. I should say gave it away three years ago complete with a playing field with tax advantages and other relief.

There are a couple of facts I want to put into the record here, as well, that in the past 10 years coal prices have gone up 11 per cent while power rates have risen 21 per cent. Another fact that should be written into the record here is the 2,200 direct jobs and thousands more rely on Devco in Cape Breton.

The NDP resolution is ambiguous at best, but is typical of the fringe Party, both sides of an issue, all things to all people, support both without the responsibility of doing anything. In other words, another example of a nothing doing party in action. (Interruption) Hard to figure out what the NDP stand for, hard to figure out what they want.

Somehow trying to work this resolution and blaming the government for the impasse that is going on between Nova Scotia Power and Devco at the present time, between a federal Crown Corporation and a private company, an issue that, in my opinion, should not even be happening. What is not ambiguous is the fact that I, the member for Cape Breton South, referred to by the member for Halifax Atlantic and my colleagues from industrial Cape Breton, support the Cape Breton coal miners in the coal industry 100 per cent. (Applause) I can tell you we have already told them. Obviously, you do not read the papers down in Cape Breton. "Get tough with NSP over coal deals - MacNeil."; "MacEachern anxious to protect coal sales", in Cape Breton. I did not make those up, they are in the Cape Breton Post, very recently.

The members in industrial Cape Breton are concerned about the coal industry. I am going to repeat what I said in Sydney last week on an information morning show, one of those other non-statements that we are suppose to be making in Cape Breton regarding the coal industry. I made a statement that Louis Comeau and Robbie Shaw do not give two hoots for the coal industry in Cape Breton or the coal miners on Cape Breton Island. I made that statement on an open line show in Cape Breton and I will stand by that statement that I support the miners, Mr. Speaker, 100 per cent in Cape Breton. (Interruption)

Their interest lies in maximizing profits for their NSP investors. Also, I might bring to the attention of members of the House that it has not escaped the people of Nova Scotia there is a power struggle going on at NSP between Mr. Comeau and Mr. Shaw. (Interruption)

One would not argue about the fact that investors should realize a fair return for their investment, but not at the expense of the coal miners of Cape Breton. Devco is a company struggling to survive with a mandate to achieve self-sufficiency. The added burden of forced negotiations and an existing contract is certainly not helping and is not in the best interest of the future of Devco and, frankly, should not even be entertained.

If NSP wants to maximize returns to investors, let them find another way, beginning with the corporate offices and the head office of Nova Scotia Power with the obscene kinds of salaries being paid there to the head executives of that particular company.

NSP has been treated very well by the taxpayers of this province, thank you very much, in particular, by the previous government of this province who gave the corporation everything they wanted, privatize and then let them keep their status of tax exempt ability even after they were privatized, preferred treatment, looking after the old boys' club. (Interruption)

The NDP should come out strong in support of Cape Breton coal miners which I have not seen happen too much and get behind efforts, for example, to open the Donkin Mine and other initiatives to fight for the future of the 2,200 miners and their families. The survival of the Cape Breton Coal industry needs the support of everyone.

I appreciate what the member for Halifax Atlantic has stated about Cape Breton MLAs getting involved in this particular problem and we are getting involved in it, but not by standing in the House here and bleating about it, without any answers, just coming up with more problems and more questions than answers, which is typical of the NDP.

[6:15 p.m.]

I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that the Government of Nova Scotia supports Devco and its miners. I do not want to engage in a debate about politics regarding this particular issue, I am here to defend the interests of the Cape Breton coal miners and Nova Scotia Power Corporation workers and their families as well.

The posturing by the NDP is clearly unacceptable, unwarranted and unwanted. They are toying with people's lives when it is obvious that it is NSP that is inefficient and not the Cape Breton coal miner. Devco is no longer subsidized by the federal government, as it states in its advertising, we are flying on our own. NSP, however, is still a monopoly in this province, with little incentive to be competitive. Devco is no longer reliant on government and government regulations, while it is clear that NSP needs municipal tax breaks and the inherent protection of a monopoly. Cape Breton coal miners have done their part and we must do our part to preserve and enhance this industry that is so vital to the future economic development of industrial Cape Breton, Cape Breton Island and, indeed, all of Nova Scotia.

We have a problem with the Cape Breton Development Corporation that is presently under negotiation. It shouldn't be under negotiation, there shouldn't be any question in anybody's mind that there is a valid contract in place between the Cape Breton Development Corporation and Nova Scotia Power. For the life of me, I can't understand why these two groups are even sitting down. Nova Scotia Power should live up to the agreements in that particular contract and live up to the agreements to support the Cape Breton coal industry in an agreement that was satisfied some time ago and duly signed by both parties.

Mr. Speaker, regarding the government of this province getting involved, as legislators it is difficult to hold sway over private companies. Devco is owned by the federal government while NSP is a private company. (Interruptions) If we were involved directly in the negotiations, you people in the NDP would be the first ones to get up and chastise us for doing just that - the first ones if we got involved in it, you would be on your feet saying that we should stay out of that impasse. Liberals have fought against the privatization of the Power Corporation, fought for a long time against the privatization of the Power Corporation. We knew the kinds of problems that are surfacing today would surface when the previous government decided to privatize this particular company.

I would encourage the NSP to come to a reasonable settlement. The fact remains that Devco produces coal at a stable price over a long period of time.

Mr. Speaker, I mentioned before that the member for Halifax Fairview has been very quiet on this issue. (Interruptions) The NDP brings this resolution to the floor, including the member for Halifax Fairview, as it is a sanctimonious thing for that member to do on behalf of the workers. They don't have any answers, they just bring it to the floor. I think they like to play games with people's lives without offering any suggestions.

Mr. Speaker, the fact remains that the three members of the NDP lack the credibility to stage any kind of a fight, particularly in Cape Breton. The people down there tell them time and time again that they reject their philosophies, they reject their do-nothing attitudes and they still come down there looking for votes. No answers, they don't have anything to give to the people, they are just looking for votes.

The fact remains that there is no fight in the NDP. I doubt if the member for Sackville-Cobequid knows what a coal mine looks like. The only time the member for Halifax Atlantic talks about coal is when he invites members of the UMW executive up here to Halifax to sit in the gallery and watch him perform.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I might ask the member for Halifax Fairview why doesn't she just give her brother a call and straighten up the whole affair. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: That was quite a contribution made by the member for Cape Breton South. When you are holding members of this Legislature responsible for the actions of their adult brothers, you are getting pretty interesting over there. (Interruption)

MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: It's enough to be responsible for your kids.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Yes, that's right, thanks for the help. This is a good debate topic for tonight and it is an important debate. You know, this is the first time that government members, what do they call them, the silent 10 from Cape Breton, we have heard them talking about coal since last year when there was a debate in the House about coal and they stood in their places and we found out how little really that they knew about coal mining. Sure, they are interested in telling coal miners we're with you and let's get on with it but when the coal miners heard the debate they were out here en masse trying to educate the representative from Cape Breton on the various aspects of coal mining.

A little while ago I went to Cape Breton and I met with the executive of the UMW because I wanted to meet with the coal miners and find out what was happening with their union, what is happening with Devco now that it is privatized, or lacks the federal subsidy and what is going on with the Donkin Mine? You know, UMW has a plan to open more coal mines in Nova Scotia, the Donkin Mines specifically, and they think they can do it at a fraction of the cost that the Devco people have been telling us that it would cost to open it. Really, for my money, I think it is worth taking a chance because they have a business plan and they are talking to Devco.

One of the interesting factors of this dispute between Devco and Nova Scotia Power Inc. is that Devco and the UMW miners are, at last, working together, talking together and they are getting along as never before because they have a common goal and a common enemy, so to speak in the NS Power and those coal miners and Devco are fighting for their very survival in Nova Scotia. They shouldn't be because coal mining has saved the Nova Scotia taxpayers over $500 million since 1978 due to the cost of coal in relation to imported oil, $500 million is how much those coal miners have saved the Nova Scotia taxpayers.

At the present time, there is a dispute. There is a negotiation, there is an argument and there maybe even a court case involved over this and for the life of me I hope that it doesn't go to court because if it goes to court who is the loser? You, and you and you and me because the only winners in a court case are the lawyers and as far as I know, most of the lawyers that will be working for Devco or Nova Scotia Power are making more money than we are now and more money than the coal miners so let's urge Nova Scotia Power and Devco to sit down and negotiate in good faith because we are going to see Nova Scotia Power burning Nova Scotia coal next year and the year after and the year after that.

Nova Scotia Power is not going to escape the Devco coal miners and the Devco coal because they need it. It saves money. If Nova Scotia Power and Devco want to negotiate in public, well, that is fair ball, that is what they are doing and I don't know that there is much we can do about it but, you know, there is something that I think is very telling, our caucus met with the Devco executive to hear their side of the story. Our caucus met with Nova Scotia Power Inc. to hear what they had to say about this dispute. Can the members of the government caucus say that they showed that much interest in Cape Breton to meet with Devco and Nova Scotia Power and the union leadership to find out what is going on? Well, this caucus can because this caucus is proud to say, met because we wanted the details, we wanted the information so we could better understand the dispute.

Mr. Speaker, I think from that meeting that there is some progress made because both sides were very anxious to settle the dispute. One of the things that we found interesting is the Premier indicated that he bumped into Robbie Shaw who he saw at a social gathering and he said get together and give me a call. Was that the interest from the Premier? Bump into at a social engagement, give him a call, come on now. The Leader of this province is the Premier. He has more at stake in this than any of us except for the 2,200 men who are earning their living working in a mine.

Maybe some of you don't understand what it is to work in a mine but it takes about two hours to get down to the work face every day, it takes two hours to get out. When you are in the mine, it is like standing underneath a garden hose, pointed at the ceiling and just dripping water. Those men in the mine do not have an easy job. Those men in the mine need our moral support and they need the political support from the silent 10 from Cape Breton and they feel they are not getting it yet. So, let us get on with it.

Members of our caucus met. Why can't the members of the government caucus meet? Are they so important and so busy, trying to save the hide of the Premier? Is that the only concern of this government at the present time, saving the Premier's job? That is the only thing that this government can see. I cannot wait until July 15th rolls around and the Premier is victorious in this leadership review. Then the Premier and this government can get on with being a government and not being half a government and another half, Liberal politics, because the people in Nova Scotia voted for a full-time Premier, not a part-time Premier and a part-time Leader of the Liberal Party. They deserve the full-time commitment of the Premier and all of his Liberal MLAs and they are not getting it today. The first people to tell you that would be the coal miners, the 2,200 of them in Cape Breton. It is not fair. This is not an easy issue to solve, but my colleagues and I made an attempt to get educated. That is important so that you will understand where the dispute came from and where it is going.

Mr. Speaker, there is a reason to keep the negotiations alive and to keep Devco going. Devco is on a new adventure. Devco has to learn to survive without federal subsidies. The remarkable thing about Devco, it is going to survive without subsidies, because in the last four years, Devco has made some tough decisions. Those decisions affected the people that work in the mines and work in the offices. Those people have taken cutbacks, they have taken early retirement, they have taken layoffs, because Devco knew it had to become efficient.

Now Nova Scotia Power knows that it has to be efficient as well, serving the public of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia Power also knows that it can buy coal on the world market. To do that, it would have to set up a huge handling facility, as they did in New Brunswick for their coal-burning electricity plants. Devco has an opportunity; Nova Scotia Power has an opportunity. Nova Scotia Power does not want to set up the coal-handling facilities. They are a lot better off receiving coal ready to burn from Devco and they will be in a year's time, in two years' time, three years' time, because Devco has saved us $0.5 billion in the last 15 years and that is a significant number. We want to see the continuation of the Devco miners, we want to see the continuation and the strengthening of them. We even want to see the miners, through the United Mine Workers, have an opportunity to show us what they can do at the Donkin Mine. They feel that the Donkin Mine can be opened and it can be operated at a fraction of the cost of opening a new mine anywhere else.

I have no doubt we will continue to see Devco as the coal supplier for Nova Scotia. Sure, there are other coal suppliers around Nova Scotia. There are a few small companies that are mining coal, most of it surface, but the main thrust for coal deliveries for burning and making electricity in Nova Scotia is, and it will continue to be, Devco and it will continue to provide the employment for over 2,000 Nova Scotians in the Cape Breton mines. If the dispute continues and they do wind up in court, as I said a moment ago, the only beneficiaries of that are the lawyers. Devco and Nova Scotia Power both must survive and they both must come to a mutually acceptable agreement. I have confidence in Nova Scotians, that they can sit down together and work out an arrangement that will provide coal and jobs for Nova Scotians, and electricity at a reasonable price.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Order, please. The time allotted for the Adjournment debate has expired.

[6:30 p.m.]

We will now return to the second reading of Bill No. 10.


Bill No. 10 - Highway 104 Western Alignment Act. [Debate resumed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic, with 50 minutes remaining.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to resume debate on the bill before us that has to do with, as classified by the Minister of Transportation, a new, creative manner or vehicle to fund the construction of the western alignment from Thomson Station to Masstown.

I was raising questions earlier, before the moment of interruption, about whether there was any validity to the contention by this minister and this government that if it is done privately, it is therefore done better than it would be under the control of the government. I have yet to be convinced of that, Mr. Speaker. Certainly the literature does not indicate that that, in fact, has been the experience across North America. It doesn't mean that it is always bad. Under certain circumstances and with very clear rules about how the initiative is going to take place, in terms of standards, in terms of controls over profits and investments and accountability and, of course, labour relations, health and safety and other types of standards, under those circumstances, there may be opportunities when this kind of initiative may be viable. But we have not seen any indication that that is where this government is going, that they have any idea what it is, what those standards are, what those parameters need to be in order to establish the framework for this kind of initiative.

If you look at the bill and the details of this bill, which I will have an opportunity to do at a later time, Madam Speaker, it is vague, it is quite wide open in terms of the powers given to this particular corporation that is going to be established, and what kind of accountability, what kind of control this Legislature or, for that matter, the people of Nova Scotia have on the operations of the project, and that goes as much to the actual operation and maintenance as it does to the revenues that are going to be generated by this new toll road. Of course, that is a whole other issue and I will get to that a little later.

First of all, why are we at this point? Why are we here now, other than the fact that it is a pretty nifty, keen idea, public/private partnership, and this government likes that kind of new stuff and the new ways of doing things, and reinventing government and so on. The problem though is that we have seen it in some of the departments, when it comes to carrying forward with the rhetoric of reinventing government, we have not seen this government being able to put into place the actual strategies to ensure that the kinds of changes they are proposing or, in fact, that they are making in some cases, are being done in a way that will ensure there is an efficient and effective service left there after they are through.

So we have concerns, Madam Speaker, here in this caucus and certainly many Nova Scotians have concerns that this government, this minister, is heading headlong down the road towards this public/private partnership concept without any real grasp of exactly what it is that needs to be done to ensure that the public interests are, in fact, protected.

Again, why is it that we are here? Well, you will remember, I think, Madam Speaker, as a member of the Public Accounts Committee when the Auditor General briefed us on his report in 1994, the section in his report under the Strategic Highways Improvement Program, here in this House we have come to know it as the SHIP agreement, this is important, Madam Speaker, because this is the agreement where the federal government cost-shares for capital construction for most 100-Series Highways. This particular agreement was negotiated in 1992-93, the one that is still in operation, to fund continuing improvements to Highway No. 104 from Amherst to New Glasgow.

It has been interesting, we have heard quite a bit of quite entertaining, back and forth, interaction between the Minister of Transportation and the former minister and his colleagues in the Conservative caucus about who signed what, when and how much money was where and where they did get it and what was it intended for and who approved what and who approved when and where. It really has been entertaining for me, Madam Speaker, I don't mean to speak for other members. It has been entertaining in that it is just like they have been slugging it out, throwing mud pies at each other. Also it really is a sign I think to us and to other Nova Scotians that are observing this that management of the Department of Transportation hasn't changed very much. That management of these kinds of important projects hasn't necessarily changed very much.

Even though Nova Scotians voted in the spring of 1993 to have a change, a change based on the promises made by the then Liberal Government to do things in Transportation like set priorities, establish criteria for allocating monies to various projects and this kind of thing and making things more transparent so that everybody knew what was going on. Of course, you remember the wise words of the Premier in 1993 when he told the people of Cumberland County, when they were asking him about changing the western alignment, changing it to some other route because they were concerned about that, he said, oh, but if I could, but if I did that then I would be jeopardizing the SHIP agreement that was reached, that has provided money to the government and I would also slow up construction of this road, which would resolve some of the problems that are created on that important transportation link between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and other parts of Canada.

So we know that then the commitment was made that we are just going to push forward and I think the term then was three years, it was going to be done in three years. I guess we would be a long way away now, at that point. But we have heard the Minister of Finance say, well, we only had $55 million in that pot at that time and that we need $110 million in order to do the project. He said, with some sense of humour, I think, that, gee, if we had started it back in 1993 like the Premier committed, we would have a road to nowhere, Madam Speaker.

Well, perhaps, or perhaps we would have a road halfway there or three-quarters of the way there and we would be looking at coming up with some funding now, Madam Speaker, that maybe the Premier and the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Transportation would be able to handle in terms of a public borrowing, in order to make sure that remaining part of the highway got done within the next 6, 8, 9, 10 months, a year. Maybe that is possible.

Madam Speaker, the decision was made before there was any kind of a commitment. By the way, let me say that the previous administration, according to the Auditor General, understood, or according to the records understood, that the $55 million wasn't enough but felt confident that as there had been prior agreements, there would be future agreements with the federal government to fill in and to ensure that the rest of this particular project was completed.

Unfortunately before we were allowed to see any actual work done on this project, one day, I do not know whether it was somebody in the department went into the wall safe or whatever and found that somebody had pulled $26 million out of that $55 million. Come to find out under questioning in the House that it was a decision made by the Minister of Transportation and the Premier and the Minister of Finance and all his colleagues. Some suggested, in fact, that the decision to take the $26 million out of the SHIP agreement and fly it over to the Fleur-de-lis Trail in Cape Breton was a decision that was made and passed through Cabinet in 5 minutes or 10 minutes. I do not know if that, in fact is the case or not because, as we all know, minutes of those dealings are confidential and we would not be privy to those. It is kind of like state secrets, I think, is the deal.

So here we have a pot of $55 million to construct this diversion that the Premier had committed to the people of Cumberland and surrounding areas was going to commence immediately in the fall of 1993, I think was the time he was talking about. All of a sudden the decision was made and I assume it must have been after that because surely the Premier would not have tried to mislead the people of Cumberland County to suggest there was not enough money there all of a sudden.

The decision was made to slide $26 million over to a different project and that is the Fleur-de-lis Trail. The problem that the Auditor General had with this deal and the Minister of Transportation argues against this contention and that is his privilege. He certainly does not have to take the word of the Auditor General as gospel. Fair to say that the Auditor General is the servant of this House and that any assertion that the Auditor General is less than confident and less than secure and less than qualified in his job is clearly, I would suggest, a slur on this House. If we had an Auditor General that was not able to do his job then it would be our responsibility to do something about that.

The Auditor General has suggested that the SHIP agreement did not provide for the diversion, if I can use that word, of $26 million to a project that was not part of the 100-Series Highway. He says that the explanation from the department was that they amended it in May 1994 to say that they added in a new agreement or schedule or something there that says that this agreement shall apply to the construction and improvement projects on certain links of the national highway system in Nova Scotia. The Auditor General suggests that was not an appropriate use of that particular agreement and has raised real concerns about that. The minister and his department does not agree and c'est la vie. Who would expect him to, it would be like the minister saying the Auditor General was right and I was wrong. I do not think the minister or his colleagues are likely to say that.

The image there is that there was half of the money available to build the diversion under an agreement that was specifically provided for capital construction projects with respect to the 100-Series Highway. According to the Minister of Public Works, Dave Dingwall, this minister and his colleague unilaterally took $26 million out of that fund and put it into another pot that was intended for the Fleur-de-lis Trail.

[6:45 p.m.]

For the minister then to suggest that that hasn't had any effect on us building the diversion, the western alignment, I think is quite fanciful in the extreme. For him to expect us to accept that taking out almost half of the monies that were there, that were intended to get that project going, wouldn't have any effect and didn't delay it, I think is again quite an extension of anybody's imagination. I think it is clear that we are here today, May 9, 1995 almost two years after the Premier gave a commitment to the people of Cumberland County that work was going to commence immediately on the western alignment under the basis of the SHIP agreement.

We are here without any work having been initiated because of the fact that $26 million was taken out of that fund. I think for anybody to suggest otherwise they are trying to present a version of reality that is quite removed. Here we are, are we into this public/private partnership just simply because we find ourselves in a situation where we don't have the money and we are going to go after projects, no we don't. We find ourselves in a situation where money that was allocated for diversion to this highway project, was it self-diverted for other purposes, and there have been all kinds of assertions that those purposes were political.

I know I have had a call from a person who lives on the Fleur-de-lis Trail and he said, cut it out, I am not going to get my sidewalks and my curbs but we are not doing it for that reason. We are not raising concerns about that. We are raising concerns here because we are into a deal, this public/private initiative that we question and we are here because of actions of this minister together with the Premier, the Minister of Finance and everybody else in the Treasury benches around the Cabinet Table decided that the western alignment, the diversion of highway around death valley was not as important as it was to get work started on the Fleur-de-lis Trail. I think it is as plain and simple as that. When we talked about that concern and we raised, you know, the purpose behind that and the fact that there was a serious question being raised about misappropriation of funds the first reaction of the Minister of Transportation was to challenge the Auditor General to say that this was a bureaucratic attack on Cape Breton.

Again, Madam Speaker, it is like one step forward and four steps back, no matter how much farther we think we are in terms of the rhetoric from ministers in this government including the Minister of Transportation. The things in the Department of Transportation are being done differently, we are being cleaned up, we are setting priorities and on the basis of objective criteria and so on and so forth we find that this minister is into the pot and using it for his own purposes, just as has been asserted about ministers of the past and I think that is a concern.

We are into this deal on public/private partnerships because Nova Scotians have been subjected to a shell game where this Minister of Transportation for reasons only he understands has decided to send money up to the Fleur-de-lis Trail. There are other questions here that have to be raised about this deal. You know, let's not forget that the people of Cumberland County and Nova Scotians let us not forget that the people of Cumberland County and Nova Scotians have been dealing with this question for some time. In fact it was back, I believe, in September 1991 when the environmental assessment was completed and the decision was made to go with the western alignment.

I am sorry, the decision in September 1991 was made subject to the environmental assessment, such was granted in March 1993 and it was in that early summer when the Premier made the promise to the people of Cumberland County that he was going to have to go straightforward with that western alignment because of the fact that to do differently would further delay it.

Here we are almost two years later there still has not been any construction and the Minister of Transportation, the same minister that diverted $26 million that was earmarked for that project is back to us again in this House asking us to believe that this deal is not going to cost taxpayers more money, Madam Speaker. Well, talk about a leap of faith and the problem is that this government does not have a whole lot of credibility on the question of faith.

We are going to have tolls set up on a national highway, the first tolls on a part of the national highway that exists in Canada. When you talk about national unity and when you talk about a highway spanning from coast to coast to provide for the transportation of goods and services and the easy travel of people of this province and tourists and so on, Mr. Speaker, they are driving a wedge into that.

When you look at the support that this government has given to the whole question of deregulation of issues in transportation you can see that they have very little understanding of a national transportation network, they certainly have very little commitment to it, Madam Speaker.

So here let us not forget because of a decision by this minister and his colleagues to divert $26 million somewhere else, people that drive on that highway, anybody coming to or from Amherst, anybody coming into the province (Interruption)

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable members I will call for order. There is too much talking going back and forth. It is provocative. It is not making the job of Speaker particularly grand and I would like you to either take the conversations outside the Chamber or tone it down. Thank you.

MR. CHISHOLM: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I hope you are not asking me to change what I say and not make it provocative because (Interruption)

MADAM SPEAKER: If you come off to something that is not parliamentary then I will ask you not to say what you are saying.

MR. CHISHOLM: Thank you very much. I would expect nothing less and I work within those guidelines (Interruption) Bring it up with the Speaker if you have a problem with it.

Madam Speaker, we are talking here about tolls for the first time on the national transportation network that is going to divide the rest of Canada from Nova Scotia. Anybody coming into this province by road is going to have to pay at the door. It is like a cover charge, people are going to come into this province and they are going to say, what is going on here that we have to pay a cover charge? What are we going to have to do? When we get back into our own province or into our own country, can we submit a receipt and try to get a rebate on this particular cover charge?

Madam Speaker, I would suggest to you that a lot of people that are going to get into the province and they are going to get by that toll and they are going to say, now how am I going to be able to get out without having to pay that toll again?

Well, Arthur Andersen Limited, Madam Speaker, suggested that in fact that might be a problem, the fact that people might get around that tollbooth, that people might want to try to avoid it. So what they have recommended is that those tollbooths be located in such a position that it makes it absolutely and almost completely impossible and certainly probably irrational for anybody other than directly local people, living right beside the diversion, to escape having to pay those tolls. So in other words, people travelling, again, and it has been used, from Amherst down through, are going to be subject to this toll.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that Amherst, New Brunswick?

MR. CHISHOLM: Well, there has been some talk about Amherst seceding to New Brunswick. I certainly hope that is not the case because I know there are a lot of fine Nova Scotians in Amherst, Madam Speaker. (Interruption)

But seriously, the point here is that we are going to set up a toll, a gate, at the entrance to Nova Scotia that some Nova Scotians are going to have to pay on a daily basis. Other people, if they stay away, if they stay down here or in the Valley or if they go up towards Cape Breton, they won't have to worry about it. So in terms of the whole question of fairness, if they were, in fact, going to do what they said they were going to do, and you will recall these grandiose words, that is, well we are only going to put a toll on the new highway, on the newly-constructed road. In other words, only those people who drive on that new diversion are going to end up paying the toll.

Well, Madam Speaker, the truth is otherwise. In fact, the consultants said, well, that is a nice idea, Mr. Minister, but you are going to miss half of the population. I don't know whether it is because Nova Scotians are frugal or what it is but they are not in a position, they are not prepared, they are not interested and, if given any opportunity, they are going to avoid that toll. They are going to avoid the booth and avoid paying the tolls, Madam Speaker. So, in his wisdom, the minister has decided to put the toll booth in a place where he makes sure he catches everybody.

Madam Speaker, the Minister of Transportation sitting over there is criticizing me for not having a good handle on knowledge about these issues. (Interruption) But you know, I think part of the issue here is that if this minister would actually come clean with what is going on, if he would actually present the proposals, the consultant's report, the Arthur Andersen report, the full report that laid out this whole issue and the costs and the benefits and the analysis of it in total, if he was to explain to us why it is that by financing it in this way, by getting Nova Scotians and others who visit this province to pay tolls for the next 32 years, together with the $29 million, is going to mean that we are going to pay less money than if we were to borrow the money ourselves, as the province, at a cheaper rate, and finance it.

Well, the members on the Treasury benches laugh, and say, oh yes, you borrow more. No, you see the question here is, in the final analysis is it going to cost Nova Scotians more or less. Madam Speaker, a public/private partnership has not proven itself to be less expensive. It is a shell game, it is the same kind of shell game the Minister of Transportation has already participated in when he delivered $26 million to his riding and to the riding of the federal Minister of Public Works.

[7:00 p.m.]

You know, the reason why they are getting into this private sector/public sector partnership is because they do not want to show it on their books. They do not want to show the fact that they have borrowed this money. They want to make sure that they come in clean for the next election, they meet their objectives. (Interruptions) The result for Nova Scotians, I would suggest, and give me some information to prove otherwise, is that Nova Scotians are going to end up paying through the ear because of the fact that these guys do not have the guts, these people do not have the guts to actually go out and do the job and to run this province in the best interests of all taxpayers. So, what they are going to do is slide the debt over on to some private sector corporation that they are setting up here and they are going to pretend that, well, it is their debt, it is not ours.

How are they going to pay for that debt? How is that debt going to be serviced? It is going to be serviced by Nova Scotians paying tolls, plain and simple. It is going to be paid for by Nova Scotians, people in Cumberland County, people who pay through their taxes for the kinds of services that they expect from this government. They pay through the sales taxes, they pay through the fuel taxes, they pay through income taxes, in order to see that this stuff gets done. Now because you live in Cumberland County or because you may have to use that western alignment, you are going to be further taxed. You are going to be further taxed, Madam Speaker, in order to pay for the lack of courage that this government has to actually do the job on behalf of Nova Scotians, in order to provide the best kind of service.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell us about what the NDP would do.

MR. CHISHOLM: You know, it is unfortunate that the member for Cape Breton South cannot come up with anything better than, what is your plan? The member has been in government now for two years and he still has not figured out that being in government means you have to come up with a plan yourself, instead of always looking elsewhere for a plan. It is like the Minister of Transportation and Communications. When his plan comes under criticism, he blames the other guys. He blames the former government. When the member for Cape Breton South gets involved, which he doesn't very often but sometimes he does, he says, what is our plan? Well, Madam Speaker, what we have to find out is, what we have in front of us right now, is your plan and it ain't very good. It is not very good. (Applause) (Interruptions) You know, they are not getting that message.

I can understand the member for Cape Breton South saying, what is your plan, because his is such a piece of work that it needs to be revised big time. It needs to be reworked, it needs to be revised. I wish the Minister of Transportation would give the member for Cape Breton South a little bit of guidance so he has more confidence in the fact that at least some of the people on that side do have a plan, whether it has any validity or any credibility.

Anyway, Madam Speaker, let me talk for a moment about the question of accountability. You know, this new piece of legislation sets up a corporation which does not have any accountability. It is not accountable to this House, it is not accountable to the Auditor General, it is not subject to the freedom of information legislation. (Interruptions)

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable member, I will add two minutes to your time. You have had a lot of provocation in this tonight. (Applause)

MR. CHISHOLM: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I appreciate the support. This corporation, as it says in the bill, is not an agent of Her Majesty and that means that it is not subject to the accountability measures that agents of Her Majesty are subject to. In other words, this corporation can basically do whatever they want.

The Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission sets tolls, the only other toll setting body, and they set tolls under the direction and the supervision and with the approval of the Utility and Review Board. Maritime Tel & Tel, Nova Scotia Power, their rates are supervised and are not increased until they receive approval from the Utility and Review Board. But one would say, well, this company which is going to have tolls that are going to affect truckers that are doing business within and between provinces, and people who live in that community and people who are coming into Nova Scotia are going to be subject to tolls and who is going to watch over that? Who is going to decide whether it is too much? Who is going to make those decisions?

Well, the Utility and Review Board, right? It must be the Utility and Review Board. There must be, surely, some accountability for the rate structure in this bill. But you know what, there isn't. This corporation that is going to be sucking money out of the travelling public for 32 years is not subject to any review or scrutiny by a public body in the Province of Nova Scotia. (Interruption) I know, it upset me when I heard it too. (Laughter) I didn't almost fall out of my chair, but I was pretty upset.

Surely, we understand the implications of this. The Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency does not understand it. (Interruption) User pay, oh that is right. User pay. The Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency says it is user pay. That is an easy concept there. Well, all of a sudden it is the people in Cumberland County that have to be on the user pay concept and it is going to be the businesses that operate there, they are going to be user pay. The next thing we are going to have is the Minister of Finance is going to say, look gang, we need a little bit of money here. We need to attract a little bit of revenue, let us take the minister of user pay, sorry, the Minister for the Economic Renewal's concept of user pay and let us extend it, let's be fair. Let's put it on Highway No. 101, let's put it on the Fleur-de-lis Trail.


MR. CHISHOLM: That brought a few gasps now. The member for Cape Breton South says, oh, oh, you are attacking the Fleur-de-lis Trail, you are attacking Cape Bretoners. It is ridiculous, it truly is. This idea that we are going charge people wherever we see fit and yet we are not going to be accountable for it. Nova Scotians are not going to buy that.

The least this government can do, they do not have any answers. They do not have any answers to the tough questions about what is it going to cost Nova Scotians in the long run. They do not have any answers in terms of why it is so much better this way as opposed to doing it under public control. They don't have any of those answers, Mr. Speaker, about what is going to happen, but yet they know that user pay is a good deal. They know it is a good deal. I think we can rest assured then that we will probably see the user pay concept on other public infrastructure projects in this province, other government services that are being delivered because, surely, people have the opportunity to either accept or reject, either to pay or not to pay, for their public services.

But if, in fact, this government is as quick and as clever on these issues as it thinks it is, then why is there such a reluctance to make this corporation accountable to the Utility and Review Board at the very least? If you have all the answers, then let's make sure that the public interests are protected in case a less bright bunch get elected next time around. You know, Heaven forbid, but people in Cumberland County are angry enough now to do something foolhardy like that.

Why is it that this corporation has to be isolated from public accountability? The member for Cape Breton South was up a few minutes ago, making some interesting points about we understood in the debate - he was not here, of course, but he understood anyway -that the privatization of Nova Scotia Power was going to bring this kind of unregulated, rampant drive for sheer profits and so on, that was going to cause problems in the province in terms of the coal industry. Well you know my response to that is not dissimilar to my response to this; learn from that, put regulations on Nova Scotia Power and . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I don't think Bill No. 10 deals with these matters, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: Well, I am going to make the link here in a second. Make sure there are provisions in this bill, for Heaven's sake, that you don't have a totally unregulated, unsupervised corporation out there that has the authority to set toll rates at any level they want.

You know, if all the answers are there and if history is giving us some answers, then why don't we make sure that we provide, at least in this piece of legislation - if we are going to get into this, make this leap of faith into public/private partnerships without the framework, and I don't think the framework is here, Mr. Speaker - then let's put the provisions in.

You know the Minister of Supply and Services says the world is changing. The world is changing, Mr. Speaker, in that people are realizing, and governments are realizing they have to move forward and they have to think at the same time and they have to put into their legislation and into the projects they involve themselves in, they have to ensure that the public interests are always protected. They have to ensure that efficiencies and effectiveness, in terms of the use of resources both human and financial, are insured but, at the same time, they have to ensure that the public interest is protected.

The problem with some of these initiatives in different parts of North America has been . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Please, let's get back to Bill No. 10.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell us how Bob Rae is doing . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Never mind Bob Rae, get back to Bill No. 10.

MR. CHISHOLM: I am talking about why it is, Mr. Speaker, that there are serious weaknesses in this particular bill. We have to make sure that we provide, if we are going to set up these vehicles through which we are going to do this refinancing or provide for this shell game, that we ensure there is an accountability mechanism in here, that we don't have a corporation that is out there and is able to set their rates and basically do whatever they want. It comes down to that, that the government got us into this position in terms of having used that $26 million elsewhere. They are involving us in, for them, something that is new and something they do not appear to clearly understand yet and they are doing it without ensuring that there are the adequate and appropriate protections within this piece of legislation to ensure that while they are quite willing to make a leap of faith, the people of Nova Scotia do not end up paying for it.

[7:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I am not ideologically opposed to the concept of private/public partnerships if they are done properly. I do not think this is done properly. I think the reasons why we are in it are reasons that are wrong. I think the whole basis for us being here are wrong in terms of dealing with the construction of Highway No. 104. That fund should never have been depleted in the first place, of the $26 million and this government should have started the work back in the summer of 1993 when it said it was going to and then we would not be debating this bill.

If we are going to do this, if this government is going to engage itself in this kind of project, the least they can do out of respect for the people of Nova Scotia, is to bring in a piece of legislation that has a little substance, that provides a little bit of accountability of some protection for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, on that basis, I will be indicating to you that I will not be supporting this piece of legislation and let me be clear that it is for reasons that have a lot to do with the lack of answers this government is providing in terms of supporting this initiative. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I will not be detracted from what I am going to say by the Minister of Education. This is second reading of Bill No. 10 and we are debating the principle of this bill. We are told very clearly that the purpose of this bill is to ". . . provide for the financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the Western Alignment of Highway 104 . . . in the Counties of Colchester and Cumberland by a partnership of the public and private sectors.".

I do not think, Mr. Speaker, in this day and age when we are faced with fiscal restraints that we can argue against private partnerships if they make sense. The principle of this bill, as I see it, is that we are saying to the public of Nova Scotia that with the passage of this bill, the government is in position to impose a user pay tax on those who use the highways of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Every person in Nova Scotia already pays a user pay fee. They pay tax on their gasoline, they pay taxes on their automobiles, et cetera, right down the line so they are paying taxes. This bill, Mr. Speaker, rather than having been introduced by the Minister of Transportation should probably have been introduced by the Minister of Finance. Because, in spite of what the Premier of this province and the Minister of Finance have said about no new taxes, we are going to balance the budget with no new taxes, this is a tax bill because with the imposition of tolls on the only route from outside Nova Scotia into this province and the only route out of this province to the rest of Canada, is going to be taxed. Every truck that is carrying any load of freight is going to be taxed.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is it like the gasoline tax?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable Minister of Supply and Services says, is it like the gasoline tax? No, it is not like the gasoline tax. This is going to affect every consumer in the Province of Nova Scotia because every trucker who comes into this province with a product, every truckload of produce that goes out of this province with produce is going to be charging to the end consumer whatever the costs of those tolls are. That is going to reflect on the cost of living for every person, resident of Nova Scotia. It is going to impose a tax on every company in Nova Scotia which exports goods out of this province.

You might say, well we need the highway, we have to have the highway and the Minister of Finance or the Minister of Transportation will tell us that we do not have the money. Well, the Minister of Education is jumping around there and saying, that is right. I am glad that he agrees with something. Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, if he will listen very carefully he might learn something.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

MR. RUSSELL: A moment ago, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency jumped up and said to the member for Halifax Atlantic, well, you don't like this plan, what is your plan and perhaps that is a valid question. Unfortunately, the Opposition doesn't have the opportunity to set the plans and the priorities and the projects that the government goes ahead with. I would like you to think and I would like all members to think for a moment about this piece of highway that is going to cost approximately $90 million.

We are going to put into that project $30 million of our capital; $30 million is going to go into there and the private consortium is coming up with $60 million. We have diverted, temporarily perhaps but we have diverted, $26 million of funding formerly for that highway to some other project. So, if you take that $26 million, add it to the $30 million that we are putting into this project, you have $56 million which leaves, Mr. Speaker, a shortfall of $34 million. Now, the highway is not going to be built overnight, it is not going to be built in one year; in fact, if we had started this year, it would have been finished at least within 18 months to two years from now.

AN HON. MEMBER: If you had money.

MR. RUSSELL: We had. The Minister of Transportation says, if you had the money. He had $26 million to get going with this project this summer, the Minister of Finance has $30 million that he is going to throw into this project. I would suggest if the government is looking for an alternative that they can withdraw that $26 million from the Fleur-de-lis Trail, get the project underway immediately, take the $30 million that the Minister of Finance . . .

HON. RICHARD MANN: A question, Mr. Speaker. The Department of Transportation spends, and let's get this straight, every penny that it has the ability to spend each year. To take any other monies and put them on another project means that projects have to stop. Has that member, I asked this last night to someone else, has that member ever spoken up and said, stop the Highway No. 101, put it on hold and put the money on Highway No. 104? Because if he did, he had the opportunity to say it before 1993 when they did the agreement. If that is what he wants to do, why doesn't he stand up and say that clearly?

MR. RUSSELL: Obviously, the Minister of Transportation hasn't even read his own estimates in the book because let me tell you what the book says, under Capital Expenditures, the Department of Transportation, the estimate that we passed in 1994-95 for the Department of Transportation Capital Expenditures was $130,749,000. How much is he forecasted to spend, $114 million, so he has got $16 million in carry-over.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order (Interruption) tenders awarded, the work just wasn't finished because of the lateness of the season last year. That money is not available, that money is committed. That money has been tendered and the contracts awarded. The member knows how the system works.

MR. SPEAKER: All right, the honourable minister has made his point.

MR. RUSSELL: I know very well how the system works according to this Minister of Transportation. He has, by his own admission, taken $26 million which was available for Highway No. 104 and put it to another project. I have no argument with the Fleur-de-lis Trail. In fact, our government when we were in power in 1993 said that, yes indeed, we were going to proceed with the Fleur-de-lis Trail and it would be a stepping program but it would be a step program. The same thing applied to Highway No. 104. It wasn't our intention to build that whole western route in one year. In fact, I think it is impossible to build it in one year. It would be done over a period of three years. So, my original statement was correct. We do, in fact, have $56 million at the present time that is available to start this highway, which would leave a balance of $34 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: Over how many years?

MR. RUSSELL: I don't care how many years it is over. There is $30 million that the province is going to put into this project, to support a private consortium building this diversion around the Wentworth Valley. There is $34 million, which is the difference between what the government has available and what the cost of this highway is. If in this fiscal year, 1995-96, the government took that $26 million that they have and completed one-third of the highway; next year, take what the Minister of Finance is injecting into the private consortium, they build the second third of the highway; then in 1996-97, they could complete that highway, I would suggest, without any private consortium being involved.

HON. RICHARD MANN: What projects would we stop?

MR. RUSSELL: The minister says, what projects would we stop.

MR. MANN: Where would we get this money?

AN HON. MEMBER: Off a money tree.

MR. RUSSELL: Do I have the floor or does the Minister of Transportation have the floor, Mr. Speaker? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: I really do not know what to do here. We are hearing repetition of the same arguments over and over again, by various members in turn.

MR. RUSSELL: Tell me, Mr. Speaker, when you have heard this argument before.

MR. SPEAKER: I know that the usage and precedent in this House have been that a member can essentially repeat the arguments already made by another member. Erskine May, however, holds that if another member has already made the point, it cannot be repeated by another member. This tends to lead to a breakdown in order, the House becomes restless. I don't know what the Speaker is supposed to do. I will say that if we adhered strictly to the conventions of Erskine May, we would only hear an argument put once, by whichever spokesperson thought of that argument first. It is the tedious repetition that is causing these problems in maintaining order here.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, I am not repeating anybody else's argument that I have heard about this. In fact, I have not heard anybody come forward and say, yes, we should build that highway, and come forward with a proposal as to how it can be done. If I am repeating somebody else's argument, I would be obliged to know who first put that argument.

MR. SPEAKER: It is not for the Chair to make an account to a rhetorical question of that type. I have sat here in this Chair and heard the same arguments over and over again. I have kept my peace and I am not going to make an issue of it now. The honourable member has the floor. It is difficult to maintain order when there is such continuous, tedious repetition. That is all I am saying.

MR. RUSSELL: Well, if these people over there would stop their chatter, we could probably make a point (Interruption) The point that I am making, Mr. Speaker, rather than breaking new ground, for the whole of Canada with regard to a portion of the Trans Canada Highways - in other words, you can start off in Victoria and you can drive right through to Newfoundland without paying a toll, except when you come to bonnie old Nova Scotia and then you are going to go down the highway and you are going to have to pay a toll. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The member who has the floor should be allowed to make his speech without interruption.

MR. RUSSELL: So, Mr. Speaker, there is an alternative. Now I know that the government is not going to accept that alternative, because it makes sense. It makes fiscal sense for this government to do that, because otherwise, for the sum of $30 million in excess of the $26 million already spent by the Minister of Transportation, we are going to impose upon the people of Nova Scotia, for the next 30-odd years, a tax on every vehicle that moves in and out of this province. This is the choke point, the toll-gate to the Province of Nova Scotia.

We rely on tourism in this province, Mr. Speaker, as well as trucking for getting goods in and out.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's why nobody goes to New York, the tolls.

MR. RUSSELL: The minister says, nobody goes to New York, for tolls. We are not talking about the United States. If he wants to introduce into this country the type of government and the type of fiscal regime they have in the United States, fine and dandy, let him stand up and say that. What I am saying is in Canada we do as Canada does and in Canada at the present time the Trans Canada Highway system is toll free and this minister is changing it.

[7:30 p.m.]

The group that will be financing, operating and building this highway is not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. They are doing it to make a profit and there is nothing wrong with a profit. I am saying that we are trying to do something that we should not be doing to create a profit if, indeed it is going to effect the well-being of every Nova Scotian, if it going to effect our tourism industry, if it is going to have consequences so that every future highway we build we are going to put a toll on it. As you well know, Mr. Speaker, the limited access highway does not as yet extend all the way to Cape Breton. Wouldn't it be great if the minister now says, well, yes we will build that highway and we will put up toll-gates at, I forget how far it goes now, I think Antigonish somewhere and at North Sydney we will have another toll as you enter the province.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are these proposals coming from you?

MR. RUSSELL: The Minister of Transportation says, are these proposal coming from me? No, they are not going from me because, Heaven forbid, I think this is the wrong approach. It is the wrong approach because, as I say, it is something that is completely foreign to this country.

When we build a limited access highway in this province, I understand that we also at the present time build a parallel highway for local traffic. I do not know if that is the intent on the Highway No. 104 or not, but however, whether or not it is, there must still be available to commercial as well as private traffic some route that is available for people who elect not to pay the toll taxes. What this minister has done is said, if people can avoid paying the tolls they are going to start taking the old highway. So, he is in effect saying you will use the toll highway, you will pay the tax and that is it, complete, end of the story.

We have no knowledge at this time as to what the tolls on this highway will be. We have none whatsoever. Now the minister has said optimistically that the toll and the Minister of Education has his fingers in the air over there, but what the Minister of Transportation has said that the toll on automobiles will be $3.00 each way, the toll on trucks will be so much per axel to a maximum of approximately $10.00 to $12.00, if the minister wishes, for trucks travelling on that highway. We have no guarantee of that, we have no guarantee whatsoever. We pass this bill and that consortium that is set up can set whatever rate they want at those tollbooths and there is no escaping them. You pay for it if you want to leave this province, you pay for it if you want to come into this province.

A small concession would have been if the minister would have been bright about it, was to say, at least, there would be a public hearing on what the tolls would be on a highway. This equivalent to setting up a body such as Nova Scotia Power, Maritime Tel & Tel and other concerns such as that provide services to the population without competition because there is no competition to this highway that is going to run on the western alignment. There is no way you can escape it. In other words, they have a compulsory fee schedule for that particular portion of travel and they have the right without review to set whatever they consider should be the toll to accommodate whatever they consider should be their profit on their investment.

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: On a point of order, Clause 10(3) indicates they can only set tolls in accordance with an agreement set between the government and themselves. They can't just keep changing the tolls it has to be by contract with the government. They do not just change the tolls in a willy-nilly way that the honourable member seems to be suggesting.

MR. RUSSELL: Is the Minister of Education suggesting that even if the toll was set tomorrow at $3.00 per car, that 30 years from now it would still be $3.00? Somewhere along the way there are going to be adjustments. Who is going to do it? The consortium, along with the Minister of Transportation - the government, oh boy, we can sure take the government, the government that was going to do all kinds of things without increasing taxes.

We have already seen today what they are doing with taxes. Certainly this is a real, all-encompassing tax because it is going to affect, as I said before, every person in the Province of Nova Scotia.

The bill not only exempts the corporation, that is the corporation building this highway, from review by the Utility and Review Board, but it also exempts the corporation and its property to taxation under any enactment. Now I would love to have the Minister of Finance get up and tell me, does that mean that whatever profits this corporation makes are going to be tax exempt? Does this mean they are not going to pay any provincial taxes?

Well then, I would ask the minister why does it state in the bill that the corporation is exempt from any taxes? Obviously he doesn't know the answer. I can't think of any other corporation within this province, unless they are a Crown Corporation, which is exempt from taxes. So, Mr. Speaker, it amazes me that the minister would even have the gall to bring this kind of legislation to the floor.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, the corporation, their profits are not exempt from taxation. That is federal income tax legislation. I certainly don't have the authority to amend the federal income tax legislation or the GST legislation. Those rules apply.

Mr. Speaker, tolling is exempt under the present GST legislation. We are not exempting that from taxation. The exemption will be from health services tax, the same as if we went out and built a road today, the same as every road that has been built. Those are the only tax exemptions that are in place. Nothing new, no one is losing anything. Any profits, income tax is paid on the profits, on any dividends income tax is paid. In fact, the GST has to be paid and then they get it under a rebate.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, what poppycock. Clause 14, "Neither the Corporation nor its property is liable to taxation under any enactment.". Now that doesn't say anything about what specific taxes, it is all-encompassing. "Any" means any enactment. (Interruptions)

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have not seen in detail this proposal that is coming forward from this corporation but I suspect that we are going to find there are going to be gas stations, possibly hotels and motels and restaurants, along this section of highway. They are also going to be run by the corporation. Are those also tax exempt? They don't pay taxes?

Well, Mr. Speaker, I tell you, we are opening a real can of worms with this legislation. I will not be voting for this legislation and I would suggest to the minister that he go back to the Legislative Counsel and have the bill reworked because at the present time (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: All right, order, please. We will recognize another speaker when the honourable member concludes.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, you can go to Page 2 of the bill, Clause 10, and I know we are not doing clause by clause, but just to emphasize my point with regard to the taxation, Clause 10(2), ". . . for that purpose, the imposition, setting amendment and collection of tolls for the operation of any vehicle or class of vehicle on and the charging of other fees for services relating to the operation of the Western Alignment.", is all tax free.

Mr. Speaker, this is a ripoff on every consumer within the Province of Nova Scotia. It is a ripoff on every business in the Province of Nova Scotia and it is going to affect, I would suggest to you, the tourist trade that we are trying to foster in this province. I will not be voting for this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to make a few observations in relation to this particular legislation.

This is one of the strangest pieces of legislation I think we have had occasion to deal with in this place, certainly during my time here. We have a piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, which creates or purports to create a body corporate, the Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation. This is a corporation which is not going to be an agent of Her Majesty. It is going to have share capital of one share and that is going to be owned by Her Majesty. Clause 6, "The sole objects of the Corporation are the financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the Western Alignment.". Clause 8, "The Corporation shall be managed by a Board of Directors.". The number of directors is going to be determined by the Executive Council. All directors of the corporation are going to be appointed by the Executive Council.

Then we get into all kinds of interesting stuff, Clause 9(5), "The directors, officers, servants and agents of the Corporation are not . . . agents . . . of the Province.". Then we get into provisions which say that, Clause 11(1), "The Corporation is not liable for any damages suffered by any person by reason of any defect or insufficiency in the design, construction, operation or maintenance of the Western Alignment.".

That I find very interesting because there is another principle espoused in this bill or enshrined in this bill that requires, as the Minister of Education was just so quick to shoot his mouth off about a moment ago, that the Executive Council, the Treasury benches are going to, as Executive Council, enter into agreements with any person including, Clause 13(1), ". . . the Minister on behalf of Her Majesty in right of the Province . . . with respect to the financing, design, construction, operation, maintenance, leasing or acquisition of the whole or any part of the Western Alignment and, for that purpose, the imposition, setting, amendment and collection of tolls for the operation of any vehicle or class of vehicle on and the charging of other fees for services relating to the operation of the Western Alignment.". Well, that is like snowplows and it is like service stations and it is like (Interruption) well, what it has got to do is that it will be operated if this bill passes . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: That is a long bow.

MR. DONAHOE: That is not a long bow at all. If there are service station facilities and rest stop facilities with canteens and the like, they are going to be the property of this corporation and they are going to be tax free. (Interruption) Yes, they are. It is clear the minister does not understand the bill that he has got before the House tonight.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is going to get into the piece. I am sure the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is going to tour the country and tour the world as he is wont to do and say to prospective business, come to Nova Scotia to do business because we have this wonderful transportation system and you pay tolls on it. (Applause)

So when your 18-wheelers are moving your products in and out of Nova Scotia it is going to cost you money and that is a wonderful attraction. That is obviously what the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is going to go around and tell . . .

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Would the honourable member take a question? I wonder if the honourable member in the interest of collecting his thoughts might consider it appropriate for two ministers to actually, in fact, do that, to visit capitals of the world and to talk about the fact that Nova Scotia is entering innovative public/private partnering in a way that is not being done in many jurisdictions, that is being done first of all, for the public safety and, secondly, in a way that attracts financial capital from around the world. Is that something that the honourable member objects to because that is, in fact, what we did do on the world stage, that is part of marketing Nova Scotia and I wonder if there is an objection to that?

[7:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Does that question relate to Bill No. 10?

MR. DONAHOE: I don't know whether it relates to Bill No. 10, but the honourable, distinguished, world-travelling Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency made reference to safety, he made reference to safety and he wants me to pat him on the back because he is going to be out selling Nova Scotia and he is going to be talking about the safety of our highways. Well, I hope, when he is out doing that he will take Hansard of Wednesday, April 19, 1995, with him, I really do.

If you will permit me to quote briefly from that Hansard of Wednesday, April 19, 1995, I am going to quote the Premier, "Why did we place high priority on that? Largely because of the need and the concern that we had about the safety of the travelling public in Nova Scotia. We will come back to that again and again and I can assure you, too, that there is no one in this province who is more committed to highway safety than the current Minister of Transportation, the Honourable Richard Mann. Safety. Safety. You will hear this again and again from us. Safety is the number one priority of this government when it comes to highways and the policies that we have enacted.".

If you read on in the same Hansard of Wednesday, April 19th, and listen further to the Premier as he starts to lose it, you will read the Premier say as follows, "We take the concerns of Colchester and Cumberland County seriously. It is a fact that the majority of those travelling the Wentworth By-pass will not be residents of the two counties mentioned. Most of the traffic will be cars and trucks from other parts of Nova Scotia and in the Maritimes as well, on their way to and from New Brunswick. Local residents . . ." - I love this, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure the Minister for the ERA will have this in his back pocket when he goes to talk about safety - ". . . will probably continue to use the old Wentworth highway." - the one that is the death trap, right - "As an added bonus, . . ." - the Premier always has a bonus - "As an added bonus, Madam Speaker, local residents will discover that the highway through so-called Folly Lake will, indeed, be safer because we will have eliminated truck traffic from that stretch of highway. (Applause)".

So, there we go, we have the Premier, as I am sure the distinguished Minister of Labour would agree, we have the local residents, as far as the Premier is concerned, being relegated to the Folly Lake roadway and we will just have the big super highway with the tolls for the people who are travelling to New Brunswick.

The people who are going to be travelling to New Brunswick are people who are running businesses in Nova Scotia and I say to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, who loves to get into the debate, that that is a tax on business for Nova Scotian business. This is a tax bill, as my colleague, the member for Hants West has just said a moment ago, and it is a very difficult, problematic tax bill. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DONAHOE: Here is the way, Mr. Speaker, that the logic of the distinguished Minister of Transportation apparently works. This is a $90 million proposition, round figures, this roadway, (Interruptions) Well, we were told it was $90 million. It is a $90 million proposition as far as the Minister of Transportation's materials are concerned. So, the province committed $30 million to this project, and let us not forget - and I will come back to it in a moment - that there was $26 million available from another source which has been ripped off to be used elsewhere.

The Minister of Transportation likes to make the argument that the provincial money wasn't sufficient to build this entire highway. So what does the Minister of Transportation do? He says, I don't have enough money to do this entire piece of highway so I had better get into a public/private arrangement. I don't have a particular hang-up about the public/private arrangement. I recommend the logic of what was just said by the member for Hants West to the members of government, I may say, because it may not have been necessary, and the Minister of Fisheries (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DONAHOE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So the Minister of Transportation says, I don't have enough money to do this whole project so maybe I had better get into a public/private partnership arrangement.

I said a moment ago and I say again, I don't know whether that is the right way to go but for the moment let's make the assumption that that is a reasonable course of action. So the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Speaker, at that point is sitting there with $56 million of provincial money that is available to be dedicated to the Highway No. 104 project.

The Minister of Education, who doesn't seem to be able to get past uttering anything except half and half, half and half, that is about half of what is required for the particular project. So what does the Minister of Transportation do? His logic is, I am sitting here, as Minister of Transportation, I have half the money needed to do this job. How about if I go and get a private sector partner and we will find the other half and we will get it done.

Some people who have some modicum of common sense might say that is not a bad idea, I have 50 per cent, let me go find a partner who has 50 per cent. But no, no, we don't do that around here with this Minister of Transportation. What we do, Mr. Speaker, is rip $26 million out of our half so that when we go to the table to deal with the private sector consortium, we don't have half, we have ripped off $26 million to do the Fleur-de-lis Trail and we have now reduced our capacity, as government, to only bring $30 million to the table.

AN HON. MEMBER: You could do it with 10.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, you could do it with zero, if you wanted to do it with zero. The point I make is the stupidity of what has been done here.


HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I wonder how that stupidity would compare with buying motorized toilet seats?

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

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DONAHOE: A $50,000 mistake that could have and should have been rectified by the previous government.

AN HON. MEMBER: A mistake.

MR. DONAHOE: A mistake, just like this is a mistake. I guess the logic here now is that this minister is equating ripping off $26 million to a $50,000 mistake made by a previous government.

So here we have a Minister of Transportation who has $50 million available to dedicate to this project. He could go find a private sector partner, which was the wont of the government, to make this project a go. So what does he do? He rips off, before he ever goes to the table with the private sector, $26 million so that he and Mr. Dingwall and Minister Young can do their little patronage deal down on the Fleur-de-lis Trail. That is what this minister does.

So now he has the taxpayers of Nova Scotia in the situation of having to go to the table, look for private sector interest in a $90 million project, with only $30 million to come to the table with; whereas prior to making that stupid and ill-conceived decision with Minister Dingwall and Minister Young, he had the $50 million. (Interruptions)

No, King is right, and that is the trouble, Mr. Speaker. You know the honourable and distinguished member for Cape Breton South, a real nice gentleman and a very fine member and a good friend of mine, but he just utters the words that are symptomatic of the attitude of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia. He talks about King David, divine right. They are all now into divine rights. (Interruptions) It is just out of this world.

One of the principles of this piece of legislation is that it is designed, it is crafted, it is deviously crafted so as to ensure that there is no opportunity or that the opportunity for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia to understand what is really happening with this transaction, is the next best thing to impossible. As I know you have, you have read this legislation, Mr. Speaker, and you see that principle clearly enunciated in about six or seven exculpatory clauses here which make it impossible for the Auditor General to exercise his rightful influence and determine what is going on. It is designed in such a way that the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act does not apply. It is designed in such a way that the corporation is not a public utility within the meaning of the Public Utility Act, so the Utility and Review Board is cut off.

This group, when they were in Opposition, used to stand up and talk about - when I and others were across the way and going to Cabinet - making these decisions down in the bunker, under the cover of darkness and so on. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, this particular piece of legislation is really quite frightening in that context, in the sense that it goes out of its way to ensure that those of us who are members of this place, taxpayers who are concerned, the Auditor General who is a servant of this House, the Utility and Review Board, the courts of this province who have the opportunity when called upon to deal with matters brought before it under the Planning Act, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, at every turn, the opportunity for the taxpayer to understand what is going on here is cut off.

Mr. Speaker, it is conceivable that this legislation is drawn and drafted in such a way as to make it possible, I believe, not only for the Auditor General of the Province of Nova Scotia but for the auditors of the province, the provincial books themselves, not to have an entitlement to have access to these books and to the books of account of this corporation. I refer in that context to the principle espoused in this piece of legislation, that since, Clause 16(2), "The Corporation is not a department or a crown corporation within the meaning of the Provincial Finance Act, the funds of the Corporation are not public money within the meaning of that Act and, for greater certainty and notwithstanding subsection 72(5) of that Act, that Act does not apply to the Corporation.". So, if the Provincial Finance Act does not apply to the corporation, I have great concern that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I believe the time is very close to the hour of adjournment. Could you adjourn the debate, possibly, and resume on a future day?

MR. DONAHOE: Tomorrow, perhaps. Yes, I could adjourn and resume at another time. I would move adjournment of debate on Bill No. 10.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the second reading debate on Bill 10 be adjourned. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the Chairman of the Law Amendments Committee, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 3 - An Act to Incorporate the Halifax Regional Municipality.

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

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

The honourable House Leader for the New Democratic Party to indicate tomorrow's order of business.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, for tomorrow's Opposition Day, we plan to call Bill No. 13, followed by Resolution No. 294 and then if there is any time left over, we will deal with the House Orders.

MR. SPEAKER: Very well. Resolution No. 294 is not on today's order paper, but I find it in Hansard as of Monday, May 8th. It was tabled. So, it will be on the order paper for tomorrow.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, we will be sitting tomorrow from the hours of 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow afternoon at the hour of 2:00 o'clock.

The motion is carried.

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