Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

















HALIFAX, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1995



Fifty-sixth General Assembly



Third Session



2:00 P.M.



SPEAKER



Hon. Paul MacEwan



DEPUTY SPEAKER



Mrs. Francene Cosman





MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I believe that we can commence the day's proceedings at this time. I first wish to call on the Clerk to read to the House a statement concerning the results of the by-election in Cape Breton West.



THE CLERK: Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to table the Writ of Election as issued September 1st of this year with respect to the riding of Cape Breton West together with a return of that writ dated October 24, 1995.



MR. SPEAKER: The return is tabled.



The return declares Mr. Alfred MacLeod to be elected for the electoral district of Cape Breton West. We will now have the presentation of Mr. MacLeod to the House. (Applause)



[Mr. Terence Donahoe and Mr. George Moody escorted Mr. Alfred MacLeod into the House.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I have the honour and the duty to advise you and members of the House that Alfred MacLeod, member for the electoral district of Cape Breton West, has taken the oath, signed the roll and claims now the right to take his seat.



MR. SPEAKER: Let the honourable member take his seat. (Applause)



The honourable Premier.





2055



RESOLUTION NO. 411



HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Monsieur le président, je vous informe par les présentes que je proposerai dans les prochains jours, l'adoption de la résolution suivante. J'ai consulté au préalable le chef de l'opposition officielle, Terence Donahoe, et le chef du Nouveau parti démocratique, John Holm, et tous deux appuient cette résolution:



[Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day, I shall move the adoption of the following resolution - following consultation with and the support of, Terence Donahoe, Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition and John Holm, Leader of the New Democratic Party:]



Whereas the three political Parties represented in this House want the people of Quebec to realize that Nova Scotians understand and share their hopes and aspirations for themselves and their children - to be part of a country which is the envy of virtually every nation on the globe; and



Whereas Nova Scotians, with their own proud heritage, recognize Quebec's distinctiveness within the Canadian Federation with its unique language, history, culture, system of law, and that together as partners in a continuing Confederation, both provinces have the greatest opportunity to realize their respective aspirations for change, growth and prosperity; and



Whereas Nova Scotians believe that with a separated Quebec, the strength and vitality of both Quebec and the rest of Canada will be seriously impaired;



Therefore be it resolved that this House is deeply committed to the concept of a Canada which includes Quebec, and that Nova Scotia will enthusiastically participate in the evolution of a Canada that is ultimately greater than anything we could have achieved separately.



[Attendu que les trois partis politiques représentés à l'assemblée législative veulent que le peuple québécois sachent que les Néo-Écossais et les Néo-Écossaises comprennent et partagent ses espoirs et ses aspirations pour l'avenir, notamment de faire partie d'un pays qui fait l'envie de presque toutes les nations du globe; et



Attendu que les Néo-Écossais et les Néo-Écossaises, tout en étant fiers de leur proper patrimoine, reconnaissent le caractère distinct du Québec au sein de la Confédération en vertu de sa langue, de sa culture, de son histoire et de ses institutions juridiques, et que c'est en demeurant et le Québec auront les meilleures chances de voir se réaliser les changement, la croissance et la prospérité qu'ils souhaitent respectivement; et



Attendu que les Néo-Écossais et les Néo-Écossaises croient que la séparation du Québec affaiblirait considérablement tant le Québec que le Canada;



Qu'il soit résolu que cette assemblée législative se commette à l'idée d'un Canada comprenant le Québec et que la Nouvelle-Écosse participe énergiquement à l'édification d'un Canada qui dépasse tout ce que nous pourrions espérer accomplir en travaillant seuls.]



Mr. Speaker, before I ask for waiver of notice, I would like to ask permission of this House if the three Leaders might say a word on this resolution.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



The honourable Premier.



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I just wish to say a few words in support of this motion. It is with great pleasure that I acknowledge the support and, indeed, encouragement of the other Parties.



What we have done today may be said by some to be too late and the criticism will forever be made that we should have done it earlier, but we were part of a plan and we remain part of a plan. What impressed us in the last couple of weeks has been the conviction that somehow the people of Quebec have not heard and do not understand the depth of feeling for that province within the hearts of the people of Nova Scotia.



I stand today as someone who came to this country, someone who believed in the principles of a great united Canada, someone who saw in Canada the opportunities for my children and, indeed, my own career. As part of that, I always accepted that Quebec was within the Confederation of Canada.



I have watched with dismay, as many others have, the kind of arguments we have heard in Quebec. They will, of course, make up their own mind. That is important for us to say, they will decide, the people of Quebec. What we are attempting to say is that if they don't realize that the people of Nova Scotia, my colleagues here and thousands out there, want them to remain in Canada then they are sadly mistaken. We want the people of Quebec to know that we want them to be a part of this great country. (Applause)



I believe passionately that this is the conviction of most Nova Scotians. The calls that we have had on the line we set up yesterday are 90 per cent in favour of the kind of steps we are taking, and we have had hundreds.



[2:15 p.m.]



It is a real source of joy to me that the people of this province are, indeed, saying to us yes, let them know that we care for them; let them know that they are important to us.



So tomorrow I will be leading the delegation to the Place-du-Canada in Montreal. We will have some 400 Nova Scotians, and maybe more because some are going up tonight - and we would have more if we had available plane space - to be part of a demonstration in the heart of Montreal, to the people of Quebec, that there is no doubt about the way that the people of Nova Scotia feel towards them. We want them to remain, we want them to be part, with us, of the great country of Canada. And, at the same time, we accept as democrats that they will make the decision.



Let there not be any misunderstanding about the way the people of Quebec should feel about the way we feel. We feel passionately that they are important to us. We will endeavour in any way we can - and it is a great pleasure to acknowledge the help I have had from the Leaders of the two other Parties and of the private sector and of the unions in this province -that what we want to convey is a sense of importance for us of them being in Canada. They are part of Canada and we want them to be sure that they should know that we love them, we respect them and, more importantly from a Premier's point of view, we will work with them to make the changes that we know are necessary for a better Canada. Thank you, M. le président. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: L'honorable le chef de l'opposition.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First of all I want to thank the Premier and the Leader of the New Democratic Party for engaging, as the Premier has already indicated, in a cooperative and supportive effort on the part of the three of us and many others, most of whom I might say - and I compliment him - the Premier was able to engage in a very sort time in the enterprise to, first of all, have us address this resolution here in this House today, make arrangements for Nova Scotia's participation in the rally in Quebec, in Montreal tomorrow, for arrangements for a rally to take place in the Grand Parade here in our capital city tomorrow, and so on. So through you, Mr. Speaker, I compliment the Premier and his staff for having been exceedingly diligent and effective in that tremendously important work. (Applause)



Mr. Speaker, it occurs to me, and I know to the overwhelmingly majority of Nova Scotians, that the hopes and aspirations of Quebecers are not so terribly different from the hopes and aspirations experienced by all of us in Nova Scotia. We hope for a greater say in the affairs of our country and so does Quebec. We have felt removed and shut off too often from the levers of power in Ottawa and so has Quebec. We have felt isolated from the centre of power and the decision-making authority in our country too often, and so has Quebec.



However, as I know you know, Mr. Speaker, and all thoughtful Nova Scotians know as well, we here in this province believe that our country, which is the envy of virtually every other nation on the face of this globe - think of that: our country, which includes Nova Scotia and which includes Quebec as members of the same family, is the envy of virtually every other nation on this planet. We must obviously have been doing some things right to enjoy that reputation around our globe.



You know, there is a saying, Mr. Speaker, that I quote sometimes - and I think it may be apt in these circumstances today - that the ignorant see our differences and our disabilities and the enlightened see our similarities and our strengths. My statement today and my participation with the Premier and with my colleague Mr. Holm at the flag-raising ceremony, was my modest effort, thrown there by happenstance of office, to say to the people of Quebec that we here in the Province of Nova Scotia plead and pray for your enlightenment because what we have in this country is far more similarities and strengths than we do have differences and disabilities among us. We believe that with a cooperative and a mutually supportive spirit, we Nova Scotians and the Quebecers of this country can and will grow and prosper and meet our realistic, mutual hopes and dreams and aspirations.



Mr. Speaker, as I have said, we live in the most blessed country in the world and it is blessed, I believe, because we are family with Quebec and they with us. It is one of the strongest countries in the world in so many senses and it is the strongest because of the relationship between ourselves and Quebec and every other province in this country. We are, as I have said, family with Quebec and Quebec is family with us. The breakup of nations, Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, is heart-wrenching and heart-wrenching in the extreme. The breakup, however, of families is tragic in the extreme. I pray and I believe that the overwhelming majority of Nova Scotians pray and believe and express the hope today that tragedy will not visit our Canadian family on Monday or, indeed, ever.



M. le président, I think I speak for the overwhelming majority of Nova Scotians when I say on behalf of my caucus, on behalf of all Nova Scotians, if I may be that presumptuous in these circumstances today, mon pays inclus Québec. Thank you very much. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: L'honorable le chef du Nouveau parti démocratique.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to have the opportunity to stand and to say a few words in support of the resolution that is before us and also in support of the country that I and, I know, Nova Scotians and most Canadians love extremely dearly. I think that the gestures that we have been involved with today, the raising of the Quebec flag and the resolution that we will be passing, are very important. They are very important as gestures, but they are also very important so that we can convey to the people of the Province of Quebec our true feelings for them and our vision of them within the greater confederacy of Canada.



Certainly, Mr. Speaker, it is up to the people of the Province of Quebec for themselves to decide where their future will be. That is their choice. I think it is also fair to say that I believe that the vast majority of Nova Scotians and Canadians recognize that the Province of Quebec is a distinct society, that they have a distinct language and a culture that is different from that in many other parts of this country. We have heard previous speakers talking about the fact that Canada is the envy of most countries in the world and one of our great strengths, one of our greatest riches, is the diversity of our people, of our cultures, of our languages and our abilities to work together, to build the kind of nation and country that most citizens in the world would dream to be part of.



These are indeed very sobering times in our country. I think that it is important not only for us as legislators to be able to convey to the people our feelings for them, it is also an opportunity through us that the vast majority of Nova Scotians who I know share our love and affection for that great province, for us to convey their feelings to them.



I believe that the people of the Province of Quebec and many of us I am sure have close family and friends who live in that province, I personally have a daughter who has chosen to live and work in the Province of Quebec, in the City of Montreal, a province which she has grown to love as she loves Nova Scotia. We are a community. The word Canada, itself, means community. It is my vision and fervent hope that on Monday the people of the Province of Quebec will in a very positive way cast their votes to work with us to build upon our strengths, our riches, to produce a country than is even better than that which we have today and the kind of country which I am sure that all Canadians want to be able to pass on to our children and to our loved ones.



Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to have had an opportunity to be a very small part of what has gone on and to lend my support and that of our caucus and our Party to the efforts to convey to the people of the Province of Quebec, the true feelings of affection from the people of Nova Scotia for the people of that great province. Thank you. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I guess I just have to ask for waiver of notice for that motion.



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



Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried unanimously. (Applause)



I wish next to recognize the Premier with reference to the Sergeant-at-Arms.



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that we introduce to the House, Mr. Douglas Giles, who has been nominated as the temporary Sergeant-at-Arms for the House of Assembly.



Mr. Giles has a long and distinguished military career. He is a person well known to us, who takes our pulse and lets us into the House on occasion and has guarded the security here for some time.



He is a very welcome person in this temporary post and I am sure the House will join with me in congratulating him and assuring him that we will do exactly as he says, whenever he says it. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: I take it that the motion of the Premier meets with the approval of the House.



Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



We can now advance to the daily routine of business, I believe. There may be some introductions of distinguished guests in our midst that we might like to hear before we move on.



The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I do have a very important guest in your gallery. I would like to introduce to you and through you to all members, my colleagues, for reasons known to you as the aftermath of a ceremony in the Red Room a little earlier having a little jest at my expense but I would like very much, Mr. Speaker, to introduce to you, seated in your gallery, the wife and life partner of the newest member in this place, Mr. Alfred MacLeod, and I would like to introduce to you his wife, Mrs. Shirley MacLeod. (Applause)



[2:30 p.m.]



I might say, Mr. Speaker, that Shirley is affectionately known to some of us as Phyllis. (Laughter) (Interruption)



May I, too, Mr. Speaker, introduce to you another member of Mr. MacLeod's family, his very proud daughter, Sandra. (Applause) A third member of Mr. MacLeod's family who was beaming earlier at the swearing-in ceremony and I know is now and takes great pride in her son taking his place here with us as a member of this historic Legislature, and I am delighted to invite you and all members to welcome warmly Mr. MacLeod's mother, Mrs. Betty Skinner. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.



MR. WAYNE GAUDET: M. le président, il est avec plaisir de introduire aux membres de l'assemblée dans la gallerie est, un distingué Acadien de la région du sud-ouest, le directeur de l'Université Sainte-Anne, le président M. Harley D'Entremont. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: I would like to note that the library has developed a site for the Legislature on the Internet and live service on that service commenced today at 2:00 p.m. and can be found at http://www.gov.ns.ca/legi.



Also, I would like to note that the Resolutions, Written Questions and House Orders to date are on today's order paper and will not be published again so please keep today's order paper for future reference. This is a paper-saving measure. The daily routine.



PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition signed by approximately 1,000 senior citizens who have expressed their displeasure with the Minister of Health and the Department of Health and the Pharmacare Program generally and in particular with their inability to obtain answers to questions that they have.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable member for Hants East.



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by approximately 41 residents from the Burntcoat Road, from Route 215, Noel to Route 215, Minasville, Hants County. I wish to lend my support to this petition. These citizens are petitioning to have their road patched and maintained until new paving can be completed. I wish to table the petition.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition signed by 100-plus people. This petition is opposed to the government's privatization plans for Highway No. 104 and the toll practices. This petition came in late last spring after the House rose in May and was opposed to the government's plans at the time and I agreed that I would table the petition on the signatories' behalf.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honorable member for Eastern Shore.





MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table a petition from the members of the Eastern Shore Sunshine Club which expresses an interest in being more involved in the decision-making process of governments at all levels. It is signed by 16 members of the club and it signed also by myself.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the citizens from the Town of Stewiacke and the citizens would like to bring to the attention of the honourable Minister of the Environment, the Honorable Wayne Adams, that the Town of Stewiacke has a serious water concern and that they urgently request the minister's assistance in bringing the matter to a resolve. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS



GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.



RESOLUTION NO. 412



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



Whereas October is designated National Breast Health Month, to generate widespread awareness of breast cancer and the importance of early detection and of leading healthy lifestyles; and



Whereas in Nova Scotia approximately 660 women will contract breast cancer during 1995 and a woman's risk of breast cancer increases as she grows older, with a lifetime risk of about 1 in 10 women contracting the disease; and



Whereas the Premier will recognize another breast cancer awareness initiative on Monday, as the House is closed on Friday for members to show support for Canadian unity, and at that time he will thank Breast Cancer Action Nova Scotia for its hard work and for distributing pink and black ribbons, to raise awareness of breast cancer;



Therefore be it resolved that this House today recognize National Breast Health Month and welcome the opportunity on Monday to acknowledge again all health care professionals and volunteers, including the staff of the Department of Health's Breast Cancer Screening Program, who are so committed to reducing the toll of breast cancer.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.



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



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable Premier.



RESOLUTION NO. 413A



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



Whereas the late Delmore "Buddy" Daye was a truly positive role model to young people of all races and worked his entire live to make his province a better place in which to live, despite obstacles that would have made lesser men concede defeat; and



Whereas in 1990, in recognition of his unselfish devotion to his community, Buddy Daye was appointed to the Sergeant-at-Arms position here in the Legislature, the first black Canadian to be so honoured; and



Whereas in September of this year Buddy lost a lengthy battle with the toughest foe he ever fought, cancer;



Therefore be it resolved that as members of this House we honour the memory of Buddy Daye, Sergeant-at-Arms, by continuing to develop policies and programs that respond to Buddy's goal of creating and making our province a better place in which all Nova Scotians, regardless of race, colour or creed, are not only seen to be but are truly equal.



Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice and also would suggest that perhaps as a gesture of respect for our old friend, Buddy Daye, that we might have a moment of silence.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



MR TERENCE DONAHOE: I am not sure if procedurally it is possible. I, too, had a resolution relative to Mr. Daye.



[RESOLUTION NO. 413B



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



Whereas "Buddy" Daye's last struggle was unfortunately not one that he could overcome, the members of this House, our community and province lost a good friend, soldier for human rights and sports legend; and



Whereas while the former Sergeant-at-Arms for this Legislature - the first black to be appointed to the position in Canada - served his post well, he will be remembered even more for what he did in the community, his life-long fight for improved civil rights; and



Whereas in this battle he achieved many significant victories, including the part he played in the founding of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and the Black United Front;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House pay tribute to the life and legacy of a true friend, colleague, sports hero, human rights activist, and family man, Delmore "Buddy" Daye, and ask Mr. Speaker to convey condolences to his wife and family on behalf of all members.]



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: I wondered if I might just say a few words.



MR. SPEAKER: By all means. With the agreement of the House, yes.



MR. DONAHOE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am delighted that the Premier came forward with this resolution. We, in our caucus, developed over the years, as did all members, a tremendous affection and liking for Buddy and he was such a tremendous friend.



If I might, just by way of supplement - I didn't say, Mr. Speaker, by way of improvement - to the very generous remarks just now made by the Premier, might I say that the thoughts that occurred to us, as a caucus, when we thought about Buddy, were along the lines that, as has again been alluded to by the Premier, his last struggle unfortunately was not one which he was able to overcome.



As a consequence, the members of this House and the community and the province lost a very good friend, a soldier for human rights and a very substantial sports legend.



While Buddy was Sergeant-at-Arms for this Legislature and the first black, as has been pointed out, to be appointed to that position in all of Canada while he served his post well there, he will be remembered perhaps even more, we suggest, for what he did in his community, his life-long fight for improved civil rights. In that battle, he achieve many significant victories, including the part which Buddy played in the founding of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and the Black United Front.



The members of this House are invited now, by the Premier and I heartily endorse and support on behalf of my caucus that we do so, to pay tribute to the life and the legacy of a man whom I think we all, without question, consider to be a true friend, a colleague, a sports hero, a human rights activist and a family man.



I am not sure if the Premier asked this and I don't know if I should attempting to in any way amend his notice of motion but our thought was when we rose if we had the opportunity we would invite you to convey condolences to his wife and family . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I have already.



MR. DONAHOE: . . . on behalf of all members. We very much support the suggestion that we ask for waiver of notice and that we do pass the resolution without further debate, with the possible exception of a comment from the Leader of the New Democratic Party and that we do observe a moment's silence in Buddy's memory. Thank you.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I very much would like to associate myself and my caucus with the comments and sentiments that have been expressed by both the Premier and the Leader of the Official Opposition.



Buddy Daye was an inspiration to all of us who are in this House and he has been an inspiration certainly in any field or with any group that he came into contact with. Buddy Daye was a very warm, a very generous, a very open, loving, caring human being. Buddy was one of those individuals wherever he happened to become involved, where his own personal interests for himself were always secondary to those for the greater good of others.



We have all lost a very great friend but one of the greatest tributes that we can pay to such a wonderful person is not only to keep his memory alive but to keep the visions that he shared with us and those goals and objectives that he had for his people and for society alive as well and to continue and commit ourselves and pledge to work to try to achieve those things in our lifetime.



Mr. Speaker, with those few comments I am only too happy to indicate our full and complete support for the resolution before us.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



The motion is carried.



[A minute of silence was observed.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.



RESOLUTION NO. 414A



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



Whereas the former member for Halifax Fairview served this House and her constituents with vigour for 15 years, first as the member for Halifax Chebucto and later as the member for Halifax Fairview; and



Whereas Alexa McDonough during that time put her own unique mark on the art of responsible debate in a fashion this House will not soon forget; and



Whereas the honourable member has recently been honoured by the New Democratic Party by her election as its federal Leader;



Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend to Alexa McDonough our appreciation of her many years of service to Nova Scotia, as she takes on the critical challenge of rebuilding her National Party.





I request waiver notice and the unanimous approval of this House.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I am in your hands, I have a resolution on this matter as well.



MR. SPEAKER: A word or two.



[RESOLUTION NO. 414B



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



Whereas Alexa McDonough, the former member for Halifax Fairview and a 14-year veteran of this House, was chosen as the new Leader of the federal New Democratic Party during the NDP's national Party convention in Ottawa October 14th; and



Whereas while her come-from-behind victory may have surprised some political pundits, it came as no great surprise to those of us who know her as a feisty legislator, a worthy political opponent and someone that should never, ever be counted out; and



Whereas her new responsibilities mean that this Legislature will be losing a very strong, able and conscientious voice - a voice that we know will continue to speak loudly and with deep conviction on public issues of the day;



Therefore be it resolved that Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all the members of this House, convey to Ms. McDonough and her family best wishes as she takes on the new and formidable challenge of leading her Party on the national stage and that he wish her much success with her new responsibilities.]



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: It was again our intention to table a resolution to pay tribute to Ms. McDonough's time here as a colleague. If you, Mr. Speaker, are prepared to indulge us, I might make brief remarks supplementary to those just now made by the Premier.



[2:45 p.m.]



You will know, Mr. Speaker, as will all members, that Ms. McDonough, the former member for Halifax Fairview, was a 14 year veteran of this House and, as has already been said, she was chosen national Leader of the New Democratic Party at their national convention in Ottawa on October 14th. It occurred to us, as we attempted to craft a resolution to make complimentary remarks to Alexa, which we felt were deserved and justified - we suggested that language such as while her come from behind victory may have surprised some political pundants, it came as no great surprise to those of us who know her as a feisty legislator, a worthy political opponent and someone that should never, ever be counted out. It is now her role in life that her new responsibilities will mean that this Legislature will, in the opinion of our caucus, be losing a very strong and able and a conscientious voice, a voice, however, that we now know will continue to speak loudly and with deep conviction on public issues of the day.



We, on behalf of all members of this House, urge you, Mr. Speaker, if you would, to on our behalf, convey to Ms. McDonough and to her family best wishes as she takes on the new and formidable challenge of leading her Party on the national stage. We wish her much success with her new responsibilities. Thank you.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, it may come as a surprise that we had not crafted a resolution to introduce today because we have had the opportunity on many occasions (Interruptions) We certainly have had the pleasure not only to have congratulated her, by the Party and in person but to have worked for her in her leadership campaign. In all seriousness, I know that Alexa would be very moved and very much appreciates the sentiments, the kind words that were expressed by both the Premier and by the Leader of the Official Opposition.



Those who are followers of this place, those political pundits who do the evaluation of the kinds of jobs that we do, often are known to say that Alexa and no disrespect intended to anybody - is the best Premier that this province never was fortunate enough to have. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, certainly she has left her mark on the life of Nova Scotia and of this Legislature. I believe very strongly that her intelligence, integrity, tireless energy and, certainly, her very positive spirit will serve all Canadians well. I am very proud to be able to call her once more my Leader and our Leader in the New Democratic Party. I am also very much encouraged that at a time in our country's history when there has never been a greater need for her kind of positive leadership on the national stage, Alexa is going to be there to fill a void that, unfortunately, has been left for far too long.



MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Now we will put the question on the motion. I am not going to have the Clerk read it; we know what it is.



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



The motion is carried unanimously.



The honourable Minister of Fisheries.



RESOLUTION NO. 415



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



Whereas Nova Scotia has the largest, most productive and diversified fishery in Canada; and



Whereas Nova Scotia's fish and fish products have out-performed all other export commodities for five consecutive years; and



Whereas our more than 360 coastal communities are highly dependent on direct jobs in the fishing, fish processing and aquaculture industries and each full-time job creates another 2.75 indirect jobs through the provision of goods and services to the industry;



Therefore be it resolved that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans recognize Nova Scotia's uniqueness and provide us the opportunity to develop appropriate made-in-Nova Scotia strategies for building a sustainable fishery by examining the cumulative impacts of all proposed new fisheries' policies and fees prior to their implementation in 1996.



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 Minister of the Environment.



RESOLUTION NO. 416



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



Whereas this is Waste Reduction Week in Nova Scotia, a time when all Nova Scotians are asked to consider the advantages of reducing, reusing and recycling; and



Whereas the Clean Nova Scotia Foundation has been a leader, in partnership with the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment, in encouraging the people of this province to work for a healthier, cleaner ecosystem; and



Whereas people in communities across the province are actively pursuing more environmentally friendly solutions to the solid waste question;



Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and applaud the Clean Nova Scotia Foundation for its leadership in endorsing its efforts during this Waste Reduction Week.



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 Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency.



RESOLUTION NO. 417



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



Whereas the week of October 21st to October 28th is Small Business Week; and



Whereas small business in Nova Scotia generates wealth and employment for Nova Scotians, and prosperity for Nova Scotia communities; and



Whereas during Small Business Week events and activities across this province highlight the achievements and contributions of small business, and provide small business people with an opportunity to showcase their skills, their talents and their abilities;



Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House add their voices to those Nova Scotians celebrating Small Business Week, and acknowledge and applaud the significant contributions that small business makes to our province and our communities.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



INTRODUCTION OF BILLS



Bill No. 28 - Entitled an Act Respecting Regional Municipalities. (Hon. Sandra Jolly)



Bill No. 29 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 3 of the Acts of 1994. The Cape Breton Regional Municipality Act. (Mr. Manning MacDonald)



Bill No. 30 - Entitled an Act to Provide Support for Accredited Fisheries Organizations. (Hon. James Barkhouse)



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



NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West. (Applause)



RESOLUTION NO. 418



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



Whereas on October 10th, the voters of Cape Breton West sent a very clear message to the Savage Government that it disapproves of the way it has been governing this province; and



Whereas the voters of the Cape Breton constituency also showed their disapproval of the way the government dealt with the former member who dared speak out on behalf of his constituents; and



Whereas the Premier dismisses out-of-hand the results by saying that it's a by-election. It's not an accurate reflection of the way people are thinking.;



Therefore be it resolved that this Premier, who never once graced the doors of the people of Cape Breton West during the by-election, accept this wake-up call and start listening to the citizens who feel that this government has forgotten its honourable promises of fairness, openness, honesty, consultation and, above all, jobs.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



AN HON. MEMBER: They left us a mess.



MR. SPEAKER: Order.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



MR. JOHN HOLM: The heckler is back, Mr. Speaker. The same messages.



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



RESOLUTION NO. 419



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 federal cutbacks to Medicare, social services, higher education and job training will exceed $300 million in Nova Scotia alone; and



Whereas not one Liberal or Conservative MLA in this House would stand up in favour of public hearings on the dramatic cut in federal funding and national standards for Medicare and other essential programs; and



Whereas overcoming this blow requires the knowledge, commitment and participation of thousands of Nova Scotians, not just a few within this government's closed circles;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to support public hearings and broad, open consultations on how Nova Scotians can best respond to the federal government's intended roll-back of national standards and programs that sustain our economy and society.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Kings North.



RESOLUTION NO. 420



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



Whereas National Small Business Week concludes this Monday, October 30th; and



Whereas organizations such as the Kentville, Berwick and Yarmouth Chambers of Commerce have recognized the importance of the event with a small business achievement awards dinner in Coldbrook and an expo of exhibits and workshops in Yarmouth; and



Whereas Scott Richards and Rob Morgan of Halifax were recently presented with the Business Development Bank of Canada's entrepreneur of the year award for Nova Scotia;



Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature recognize the tremendous accomplishments of small businesses and their valuable role as economic generators across our great province.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is there a request that notice be waived? Yes.



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.



RESOLUTION NO. 421



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 present government has already heavily penalized search and rescue teams across the province with serious budget reductions; and



Whereas search and rescue teams play an absolutely pivotal role when called upon to assist in the search for missing Nova Scotians; and



Whereas the Minister responsible for Nova Scotia's Emergency Measures Organization and the Minister of Municipal Affairs appear unable to comprehend the role played by ground search and rescue teams because of their mean-spirited insistence to charge thousands of dollars for maps to help such teams in their efforts of averting tragedy;



Therefore be it resolved that if the respective Ministers responsible for EMO and Municipal Affairs are refusing to assist Nova Scotia's ground search and rescue teams, then at least show some compassion and sympathy to the families of Nova Scotians who might be forced to call upon the assistance of ground search and rescue teams as the 1995 hunting season begins at the crack of dawn tomorrow.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Kings West.





RESOLUTION NO. 422



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



Whereas the Premier said at CFB Cornwallis on Saturday, October 16, 1993, that neither partisan politics nor a federal election will keep us from working to secure economic stability for Nova Scotia; and



[3:00 p.m.]



Whereas two years later, despite the assurances from the Premier, the former base is mired in controversy ranging from political interference to security guards being hired to spy upon Cornwallis Development Agency Board members; and



Whereas the situation at the former base has become so serious that a local Liberal recently felt compelled to write the federal Minister responsible for ACOA and state that the development agency had the potential of becoming the biggest boondoggle of the last two decades;



Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency immediately meet with the federal Minister of Public Works and come up with a positive solution that will invest confidence in the local area and in turn create employment instead of the turmoil resulting from government's neglect and apathy in the Premier's Office and in Ottawa since Saturday, October 16, 1993.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 423



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



Whereas senior citizens have again been angered by this government's mishandling of Pharmacare, this time by retroactive bills for $215 issued just before the deadline to stay in the plan; and



Whereas repeated government commitments to fair, well-managed Pharmacare are undercut by a move that could push seniors into the uncertain, inadequate and potentially disastrous private plans; and



Whereas Cape Breton seniors have taken the lead in urging the government and convincing the new Pharmacare board, the 1995-96 fees should be prorated to the actual start of the much adjusted new system;



Therefore be it resolved that the government give the Pharmacare board its promised independence by letting that board openly decide if it would be fair to impose new retroactive fees after the confusion, misinformation and chaos that the government has inflicted upon seniors' Pharmacare.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Hants West.



RESOLUTION NO. 424



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



Whereas through the 1993 election campaign, the Liberals said in their Liberal strategy for growth - jobs for Nova Scotia - that they believed there was an urgent need for apprenticeship opportunities for young people; and



Whereas the present Liberal Government in their no holds barred approach to gaining power said in their jobs strategy, government cannot abdicate its role in the training and upgrading of workers; and



Whereas the people of Windsor-West Hants are witnesses to how this government has fallen flat on their face with the announcement Friday of the closure of the Hants Community College in Windsor;



Therefore be it resolved that this government revisit their Liberal Strategy for Growth Policy released in 1993 and explain to the staff and students of the Hants Community College in Windsor how the government plans to upgrade and enhance apprenticeship opportunities for young people by closing the community college in Windsor.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Kings North.



RESOLUTION NO. 425



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



Whereas the Cabinet Secretariat on the Economic Future of Guysborough County called Team Guysborough by the Premier was formed in the summer of 1994 to focus on long-term economic initiatives in the county; and



Whereas since the formation of this committee, 142 jobs have disappeared from Guysborough County; and



Whereas the Premier visited Guysborough in mid-August but he could not offer any solutions from the provincial government to the job loss situation presently taking place within the county;



Therefore be it resolved that the Premier please stay away from the Annapolis Valley and do not consider forming a Team Kings County because the end result seems to be the net loss of jobs and we want to keep our jobs.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Queens.



RESOLUTION NO. 426



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



Whereas the Minister of Natural Resources continues to equivocate with respect to the provision of up to $200,000 required to open the publicly owned Thomas Raddall Provincial Park; and



Whereas the minister has rejected a suggestion forwarded him by a former municipal councillor that the Municipality of the County of Queens loan the province the $200,000 he claims is required to complete the publicly owned Thomas Raddall Provincial Park; and



Whereas by contrast the Minister of Natural Resources enthusiastically endorses providing government grants, that is, taxpayers' money of almost a million dollars to build a private golf course in his own constituency;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Natural Resources focus on meeting his public responsibilities respecting Thomas Raddall Provincial Park rather than promoting, with the people's money, a million dollar subsidization of a private golf course in his own constituency.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.



RESOLUTION NO. 427



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



Whereas on September 9th of this year, Stora Forest Industries Limited celebrated a major silviculture achievement, when company and government officials planted Stora's 100 millionth tree, a red spruce, Nova Scotia's designated native tree; and



Whereas since arriving in Nova Scotia 30 years ago, Stora Forest Industries has actively engaged in reforestation, conservation and management of wetlands on its private and Crown holdings; and



Whereas Stora Forest Industries is a major Nova Scotia employer, with 1,500 contractor employees who harvest and truck wood to the Point Tupper pulp and paper mill and 850 people working at the mill site and woodland offices;



Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the management and employees of Stora Forest Industries Limited for their leadership in sustainable silviculture management, and acknowledge the necessity of conservation, reforestation and the safe-guarding of native habitat in the forest industry of Nova Scotia.



Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.



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



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 428



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



Whereas today, as the fall sitting begins, Nova Scotians have been told it is their "LAST CHANCE!" to "$SPIN TO WIN$" at the government's Halifax Sheraton Casino, because "Promotion Ends October 26th!"; and



Whereas this promotion promised the chance to win $5,000 to everyone who would hang around the casino, in a desperate effort to keep people at the slot machines; and



Whereas a government whose major economic initiative was to impose casinos on a hostile and unwilling population should never have expected those casinos would make much money;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to use the dismal response of Nova Scotians to its casinos as a lever to withdraw from this unwise adventure, and concentrate instead on measures that truly increase the wealth of our province.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Hants West.



RESOLUTION NO. 429



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



Whereas the annual Fincastle competition was recently held off Scotland during which crews of maritime patrol aircraft are tested in their surveillance skills in detecting, tracking and attacking submerged submarines; and



Whereas an Aurora crew out of Greenwood, Nova Scotia, commanded by Captain Chris Bowen, has won this prestigious award through a tie-breaker, beating fellow competitors from Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and other crews from Canada; and



Whereas the 13 aircrew and 10 technicians dedicated their spare time to prepare for the two week competition;





Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature extend our congratulations to all participants in the competition but most especially extend a Bravo Zulu to Captain Chris Bowen, the aircrew and technicians from Greenwood, Nova Scotia, for winning such a prestigious award and being such excellent ambassadors of Canada.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



Now, several are struggling to get the floor, I will recognize the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.



RESOLUTION NO. 430



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



Whereas Eastern Passage, Cow Bay and Shearwater area community members with key stakeholders have embarked on an initiative to build a Total Quality Community; and



Whereas a Total Quality Community Workshop to be held this weekend will define community goals and an action plan for implementation; and



Whereas the first Canadian effort to establish a Total Quality Community could become a model for other communities to emulate both provincially and nationally;



Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly extend best wishes to the participants of the Total Quality Community Workshop for a successful weekend, including members of the Community Education Council of Eastern Passage, Cow Bay and Shearwater; the RCMP; the Conference Board of Canada; the partners from provincial, municipal and federal governments; as well as participants from business and the community at large.



Mr. Speaker, I 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 member for Pictou West.





RESOLUTION NO. 431



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



Whereas Joseph Rotblat and the Pugwash Conferences on Sciences and World Affairs were recently named as the year's winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to "diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and in the longer run to eliminate such arms"; and



Whereas the people of Pugwash take great pride in being the home of the Thinkers and the wonderful distinction bestowed on their village by the world renowned Nobel Committee; and



Whereas the Nobel Peace Prize has brought a great deal of pride to all Nova Scotians by focusing the world's attention on a small village in our small province where men of great thought and foresight came together to play a very big role in advancing the cause of world peace;



Therefore be it resolved that this House on behalf of all Nova Scotians congratulate Joseph Rotblat, the president and only surviving founder of the Pugwash Conferences, for the wonderful honour his efforts to stop nuclear destruction have brought to him, to his co-founders and to the thousands of others who have participated in the Pugwash Conferences since they began at the Pugwash Home of Cyrus Eaton back in 1957.



Mr. Speaker, I would ask for a waiver.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Pictou Centre.



RESOLUTION NO. 432



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



Whereas the month of October is a now a chance for all Nova Scotians to celebrate Mi'Kmaq heritage; and



Whereas it is hoped that by celebrating the history and accomplishments of the native people of our Maritime region throughout the month of October, this will prove to be a launching pad for advancing such studies in our schools and homes year-round; and



Whereas this is essential so that all Nova Scotians can fully understand and celebrate the culture and history of the Mi'Kmaq people;



Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature continue to develop and endorse initiatives, such as those made over the last decade in justice, education and community services, whose aim is to encourage the culture and independence of the Mi'Kmaq community instead of forcing the native people to abandon that culture.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Cape Breton West.



RESOLUTION NO. 433



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



Whereas the Minister of Natural Resources has approved a golf course costing millions of dollars to be funded under the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Program, for his own constituency of Lunenburg West; and



Whereas despite lobbying for millions for his own constituency, the minister refuses to reconsider his decision of eliminating funding in the Department of Natural Resources budget for the Two Rivers Wildlife Park at Marion Bridge; and



Whereas the Two Rivers Wildlife Park provides a solid base for tourism infrastructure in an area that simply cannot afford to lose jobs, while also generating a number of spinoffs for local businesses;



Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately investigate the actions of the Minister of Natural Resources and severely reprimand him for showing such blatant disregard while in the meantime informing the people of Marion Bridge that if millions are available from the government for golf courses, then $100,000 is certainly available for the continued operation of the Two Rivers Wildlife Park.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.



HON. DONALD DOWNE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The golf course in question is really not even in my constituency. It is in the member opposite's constituency. Just to clarify a point that obviously the other side of the House is totally confused.



MR. SPEAKER: I do not find a point of order. (Interruptions)



Is there a point of order here?



A point of order from the honourable member for Hants West.



[3:15 p.m.]



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: On what order of business does the Minister of Natural Resources reply to the introduction of a resolution?



MR. SPEAKER: Under a point of order, but I did not find one to exist.



The honourable member for Victoria.



RESOLUTION NO. 434



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



Whereas Josephine Peck of Wagmatcook First Nation has been named recipient of the Stephen Hamilton Outstanding Achievement Award in Education for Aboriginal People; and



Whereas for the past 29 years Josephine Peck has been involved in the education and welfare of Mi'Kmaq children as a teacher, social worker, supervisor of social work and school principal; and



Whereas Josephine Peck's style of leadership in education for aboriginal people has enriched a great many lives;



Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly offers congratulations to Josephine Peck of Wagmatcook First Nation on her recognition of outstanding achievement in education for aboriginal people and for her commitment to the well-being of the first peoples.



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



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



Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Pictou West.



RESOLUTION NO. 435



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 Justice Minister's cut to the province's court system means that in less than two months Pictou will lose its Provincial Court sittings to New Glasgow; and



Whereas the goal of the minister's court restructuring is to make the system more cost-effective; and



Whereas it remains unclear as to how it is cost-effective to close what is essentially a brand new court-house facility in Pictou, now owned by the province, and have a $4.5 million facility constructed by the province in a neighbouring town;



Therefore be it resolved that this Justice Minister explain to the people of Pictou how this decision makes any sense financially and reveal what is in store for the court-house facility in Pictou.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 436



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



Whereas Bill C-98, the Oceans Act, was introduced and given second reading by the House of Commons, although Atlantic fishers and communities have not been involved in developing the bill; and



Whereas Parts II and III of the bill would formalize corporate control of the fishery, deny co-management or self-management and allow new access and user charges to be imposed, regardless of the impact; and



Whereas the organizations representing the vast majority of Nova Scotia fishers and coastal communities have urged that the House of Commons suspend its consideration of Bill C-98;



Therefore be it resolved that this House endorses the request of the representative organizations assembled at the Nova Scotia Round Table on Fisheries that consideration of Bill C-98 be suspended until fishers and fishing communities have the opportunity to participate in the development of such legislation.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



I hear several Noes.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 437



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 Liberals promised no new taxes during the 1993 election campaign; and



Whereas since the formation of his confused and disorganized government the Premier has insisted upon taxing the poor, to ensure such things as $0.25 million increases in his office budget; and



Whereas the latest cash grab for the Liberal Government is the increase in fees from $23 to $65 by the Department of Natural Resources, to teach young Nova Scotians how to hunt safely;



Therefore be it resolved that this government stop gouging Nova Scotians at every opportunity they get and make a clear, definitive statement towards budget reduction, instead of taking the haphazard approach presently being used.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Hants East.



RESOLUTION NO. 438



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



Whereas Mr. Edward McLellan, a resident of Maitland in Hants East, is an internationally recognized arm-wrestler; and



Whereas Mr. McLellan is the current Nova Scotian and Canadian Arm-Wrestling Champion in the 60 kilogram class; and . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Can he beat you, Bob?



MR. CARRUTHERS: Well, I am in a little different class.



Whereas Mr. McLellan is currently in Brazil to participate in the World Arm-Wrestling Championship being held on October 28th and October 29th;



Therefore be it resolved that his House congratulate Mr. McLellan for his titles as champion Canadian and Nova Scotian arm-wrestler and wish him every success in the World Arm-Wrestling Championship in Brazil.



I would request waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried unanimously. (Applause)





Are there any additional notices of motion? If not, we are going to advance now to the Orders of the Day but, before we do that, I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate which will take place either at 6:00 p.m. or at the time the House rises, whichever comes first in time. The winner of the draw today is the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic. He has submitted a motion reading:



Therefore be it resolved that the Government of Nova Scotia shall not deal with Wackenhut as a potential private prison operator.



So, we will hear debate on that matter at the moment of adjournment.



The time now being 3:21 p.m., the Oral Question Period today runs for 60 minutes. That will be until 4:22 p.m., since the clock is almost at 3:22 p.m.



ORDERS OF THE DAY



ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition. [Standing ovation.]



EDUC. - LEGISLATION: DRAFT - CIRCULATION



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: How can I now be mean after that very generous (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, 17-plus years ago I began my time on the floor of this place as Minister of Education and I suppose it is not unpredictable or strange in the minds of some that as I put a question today on what presumably is my final day as interim Leader of my caucus and my Party, that my question would be in the area of education. My question is for the Minister of Education.



The minister, you will know, Mr. Speaker, promised to have a new education bill prepared in draft form, and I underline draft form. He undertook and promised to circulate that to the stakeholder groups who would be so greatly affected by new legislation. He made that promise especially to school boards and municipal units and he did that because the bill that he was going to bring forward - and I understand will in not so many days come forward - will replace the existing School Boards Act and the Education Act. But, at the last minute, this minister changed his mind and what he did is he merely sent around a brief overview containing, upon my reading of it, mostly motherhood kinds of statements, hardly something that could offer the boards and others a chance for real scrutiny.



So my question to the minister is whether or not the minister will and can tell those groups why he, having made the promise, failed to keep that promise on the process of consultation on the bill which, as he himself has said, promises to be a complete overhaul of the current legislation. Why was that promise for previous information and an opportunity for consultation and review not made available to those directly affected?



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable Leader of the Opposition for the question. In fact, as I did travel the province, I did commit, as the Minister of the Environment did with the environmental bill, to circulate a draft of the bill.



As I brought it before caucus and Cabinet, the last draft that we had, Mr. Speaker, there was such interest in it that they have asked us to examine it line by line, and that is what we are in the process of doing. So, it was a question of passing it by them before I passed it out, and that is what I am going to do. But as a result, I have been talking to the stakeholders and once the bill is tabled in the House, I have committed and I have spoken to both the N.S School Boards Association and the Teachers Union that we will be discussing with them separately, while it is debated in the House, the content of the bill. So, I personally will make myself available, even while the bill is being debated in the House, to look with due diligence with the School Boards Association and the Teachers Union and anyone else who would care to discuss parts of the bill.



MR. DONAHOE: I understand the answer, but this minister well knows that consultation with the minister, once the bill is introduced, is 99 times out of 100 ineffective and unproductive, because we have watched that sort of thing happen here over the last couple of years, Mr. Speaker, and the chance for meaningful change, as proposed by stakeholders, is about zero. I guess all I can conclude is that the minister made a promise to the stakeholders and then he broke the promise. He now says, having broken the earlier promise, I will chat with you once I introduce the bill that I won't discuss with you before its introduction.



By way of supplementary, may I ask the minister if he will acknowledge that in his preparations this minister had his officials prepare a rewrite of the finance section for the Education bill, which he has promised will be introduced in this session of the House. Was there a draft of the finance section, which was then taken out of the package and has been subjected to considerable redraft?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, first of all, in terms of the discussion, as the honourable Leader refers, I would remind the honourable Leader of the Opposition that across the last two years almost every item in the new bill has been discussed publicly with all of the stakeholders, first in the form of a strategic plan and, secondly, in the form of a discussion paper and, thirdly, in a White Paper that I have travelled the province to discuss with people. The only real issue, I believe, is the actual legal description of what was involved in the White Paper, and so on, in the bill.



Also, if I might mention to the honourable Leader of the Opposition, both in terms of the BLAC Report, in terms of the Acadian Francophone Report - and these were all discussed widely across the province - and also the special services in which we travelled the province, as well. So, almost every item in the new bill has been canvassed across the province.



In answer to the inference that the honourable Leader has made, that in fact it has not been effective, we will demonstrate, as we move along, that if there is an interpretation that has resulted in the bill in the way it is written, we will address that with the stakeholders. So, I can assure the honourable Leader of the Opposition that will be carried on and we will have that done, Mr. Speaker, and it will be effective.



MR. DONAHOE: By way of final supplementary, I would propose to table a document and would ask a Page, if I may, to table a copy of that document and provide the second copy to the Minister of Education, please. The document, which I have now tabled, purports to be a draft of the finance section of the Education bill. I would like to ask the minister as to whether or not he will agree that the language and principles set out in that document, in fact, represent a consolidation of power and decision-making authority in the hands of the minister, and that the principles there run counter to the minister's talk of decentralization and run counter to his promise to turn authority and power to the communities and the school boards and the administrators in the public school enterprise, in regard to both the financing and the operating of the province's school boards?



I note, if I may in passing, before the minister responds, that the document, as I have said, is marked draft for discussion, but I am told by School Boards Association, municipal units and other stakeholders that this particular draft, so vital to their operation of school boards, has not been the subject of discussion with them. Could the minister respond?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I will tell the honourable Leader of the Opposition that this was brought to my attention about two weeks ago and I canvassed the question with staff, in fact, this was part of the consultation process with the school boards people. Our finance people took this and met with the school board people and asked them to give them some input on this. So there was discussion on this and again it gives very clearly the position of the Department of Education, that we wanted to canvass this with the people involved. It was several months ago, in fact I think it was a matter of six to eight months ago that this was done. When the honourable Leader of the Opposition does see the bill, he will see that we learned much from those discussions, as we did with the other discussions we had across the province.



[3:30 p.m.]



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



JUSTICE: WACKENHUT CORRECTIONS CORPORATION - PROHIBIT



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Justice. The minister will know that in New Brunswick, Premier Frank McKenna was forced by the voters of that province into announcing that his government will not permit Wackenhut Corrections Corporation to be involved in the operations of any correctional facilities within that province. The Premier of New Brunswick was forced to make that decision because of the record of Wackenhut. My question to the minister quite simply here today is, will the minister announce here and now that he will not permit and that his government will not permit Wackenhut Corrections Corporation of the United States to operate any correctional facility within the Province of Nova Scotia?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I think it is premature to make any comment. I think it first should be realized that in Nova Scotia we are examining improvements to adult correctional facilities, some of which go back 130 or 140 years. We need improvements, the conditions are not good for staff and certainly not for rehabilitation. We are in a very preliminary stage in looking at how we can live within Government By Design, in our fiscal targets. Every department including Health is having restraint. We have to live with 10 per cent less money and I am not going to rule out any particular corporation. If Frank McKenna decided to do that, that is his business but we will look very carefully at any operator. We have no decisions on even going private, let alone whether or not we would do business with the Wackenhut Corporation.



MR. HOLM: This government may say that they haven't made a decision yet but certainly the government plans to send correctional officials on a Wackenhut Corrections junket where they are going to be travelling around to take a look at the jails. This is a company which is under investigation in Texas for diverting $700,000 away from a drug rehabilitation program into their own coffers. It is a company that has been shown to have poor screening processes for their employees and has hired employees who have a record and convictions for cocaine use.



This government has been following all of the leads of the Frank McKenna Government with regard to corrections. Why are you still even dealing with a company like Wackenhut that has a reputation and a record such as it does?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, it is true that several officials, in order to be better informed about the ramifications of privatization, are going to tour a number of facilities and I believe one of them is operated by Wackenhut but there are some operated by Corrections Corporation of America and state-run, government-run institutions, both union and non-union.



We want to learn something. The facts are dangerous things but we want to know about them so I think in this case it is very irresponsible for the Leader of his Party to be acting as prosecutor, judge and juror in the whole thing. I think this is very dangerous and I think he should wait and see how we proceed carefully and deliberately and inform ourselves of the possible ramifications and how these things are done before he jumps to any conclusions.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that the minister thinks I am being irresponsible. I would suggest that the minister might want to go to the Chambers, pick up the telephone and call his colleagues in New Brunswick and there he will be able to find out a great deal of the facts.



The people in the minister's own riding, people in my riding and I would suggest people across this province know that it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to be bringing in Americans and American corporations to be running Nova Scotia jails for profit. My question to the minister is, especially in light of his answer, will the minister tell representatives of the correctional officers with whom he will be meeting tomorrow, is he prepared to tell those workers and their representatives that he is willing to work with them in developing a Nova Scotia public spirited and public sector solution, Mr. Speaker, to improve the correctional services here in Nova Scotia? A public spirited, public sector solution to improve the quality of the correction services here in Nova Scotia, is the minister prepared to give that commitment?



MR. GILLIS: I might just say in passing that it strikes me in terms of other irresponsibility, it sounds very anti-American to me. Just because the company is from the U.S. it is automatically bad. I don't think that is good. A lot of our friends come to visit us in the summer, and other times we do business with them. I don't think that is very responsible, but that is an aside, Mr. Speaker. (Interruption)



Yes, Mr. Speaker, since I have become minister very early on, I visited all the facilities. I want to improve them and I have asked my officials to work with the union reps and we have been doing that. I am offering to meet and I am meeting with a rep from each of the institutions tomorrow and we are going to see how we can do this. It might include the possibility of private sector build and/or operate, or operate, but no conclusions are made. Maybe we can sharpen our pencils, sharpen our management, sharpen our labour, sharpen our practices and do a better job and do a good job to rehabilitate those inmates and have good, safe working conditions for the officers. (Applause)





MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



EDUC. - LEGISLATION: DRAFT - TERMINOLOGY



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: I thought I would wait for the applause again, Mr. Speaker. (Laughter)



AN HON. MEMBER: You promised that's the last time.



MR. DONAHOE: Fame is fleeting. (Interruption) Yes, my next retirement.



Mr. Speaker, my question is again for the Minister of Education and I would like to stay in the general line of my earlier question, whether or not the documents which the minister did circulate, these draft documents about what might be coming by way of education reform legislation, I would like to ask the minister to react to some of the language that was contained in that draft because I think it conveys a threatening message.



I would ask it this way. Does the minister not believe that language to the effect in the following words and I quote, his document, "The minister may effect improvement generally in the conduct and administration of school boards, and, among other things, consult with, assist and advise school boards, develop proper methods of school board administration, financing, accounting and auditing, . . .", et cetera, would the minister not agree that those words show that this minister is indeed attempting to once again assume more power unto himself and centralize the power, as opposed to decentralize the power into the hands of the local school board authorities?



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, first of all, for the information of the Leader of the Opposition, the particular draft that he has was developed in our Finance and Audit office and it was discussed and was presented to a group of CFOs from Colchester, Kings, Annapolis, Inverness, Queens, Pictou, Guysborough and Halifax in August before it even went to any discussion within our Policy and Research Branch to develop the text. What they did it for, is to bring back to that committee some ideas from the boards and that is why it was sent out.



In terms of the particular phrasing, it is not my phrasing that was sent out, so for me to comment on it wouldn't make any sense. What they are doing is they are basically talking to these people to explore with these partners in education, in fact, the kind of text that would make sense in setting up a partnership between the Department of Education and the school boards. I might add, for the edification of the Leader of the Opposition, that as I travelled the province and spoke to boards, one of the things they asked for was accountability between the boards and the minister and the minister and the boards. So if in fact this is an attempt to express that, that is what it is.



Now how the final document will express that, Mr. Speaker, I am sure we will get time in this House to discuss that.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, by way of supplementary then, and understanding a little better than I did the genesis of the document and the approach used with it, might I ask the minister if he is really saying that this draft section, to which I have referred him, doesn't really mean a consolidation of power in his hands and, more to the point, is the minister saying that the language which I have read to him, and does appear in that draft document, has in fact been removed so as to ensure that the authority in the board hands - to which he just made reference - will in fact reside there with the board and not in the sole control of this minister or subsequent Ministers of Education?



MR. MACEACHERN: Well, Mr. Speaker, if I could for the honourable Leader of the Opposition, partnerships involves two sides; that is how partnerships work. In fact, what we tried to develop as we travelled through the province, talking to our partners in education, was how that partnership would be developed and we will both have roles and responsibilities that will be expressed in the Act.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, the first power itemized in the document - which I have sent across to the minister and which I have tabled - says, "The Minister may prescribe financial reporting requirements to be used that differ from generally accepted accounting principles.".



When I read that, I became exceedingly concerned. It bothers me greatly that this minister, or indeed any Minister of Education, would be assuming unto him or herself an authority to roll into a school board jurisdiction and say, now you, this board does not have to follow generally accepted accounting principles. If they do not, I am scared to death to imagine what kind of accounting principles would the minister be suggesting should be followed.



Since this language appears in this draft and since one of the most essential elements of making sure we know what we are about in school board operation is that we know what we are about in school board finance, can the Minister of Education give the commitment today that when we see his legislation there will be no language in it which affords to him or any other minister or any other functionary of the provincial government, an authority to prescribe financial reporting requirements to be used by school boards which may differ from generally accepted accounting principles? Will the minister give that undertaking?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I do not know if when the Leader of the Opposition was Minister of Education he had functionaries, but we do not. We have very dedicated civil servants who work very hard. I will offer an apology to him for the reference (Interruption)



Look up the tone of it, Mr. Speaker. The tone is unacceptable. If I would suggest the paper that he was referring to is not that the minister is suggesting, it is some questions being asked by my staff to start the dialogue. Where we will end up will be part of the partnership because that dialogue that has helped us along from the beginning has been very productive and the honourable Leader of the Opposition will see, in fact, that that is so.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



EDUC.: HANTS COMMUNITY COLLEGE - CLOSURE



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Last Friday, the Minister of Education held a press conference at which he announced he was closing five community colleges across this province with a loss of 800 seats to the young people, and older people too, for that matter, to carry on their educational opportunities. One of those community colleges was Hants campus.



I would ask the minister, does he truly believe that the current and potential students from Hants campus can drive 45 minutes to Kentville or one hour to a campus in Halifax, particularly today when there are no busing arrangements for community college students?



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Well, first of all, Mr. Speaker, I would like to suggest to the honourable member that, in fact, people in Richmond County, people in Victoria County, people in Inverness County have done that forever under the auspices of the previous government; Guysborough County, Inverness County, I mean I can go on and on.



But I will refer to the community colleges, Mr. Speaker, in fact, because of the reduction in funding from the federal government, we have responded to protect seats for students, so that we could do this. We lost 20 per cent of our budget and we reacted carefully, in a planned way, so that we could build again the seats that are involved.



I want to suggest, different from the members opposite, they would have developed a debt and allowed the system to get weaker and weaker, instead of giving the campuses an opportunity to get stronger and stronger. The particular campus that he refers to, the budget is in the order of $1.6 million, one-half of that goes to maintain the building, and it requires significant improvement if we are going to improve programming. We couldn't do that. We had to make choices, the choices are difficult, but this was one of those difficult choices.



[3:45 p.m.]



MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is passing strange what the minister has just said about having to make choices. Sure, he had to make choices; that is what it is all about when you are a minister. But I would ask the minister, why, for instance, he can take the Shelburne campus and make it an associate campus of Yarmouth, I believe it is, when the actual distance from Shelburne to Yarmouth is approximately the same as for the students along the North Shore who have to travel to go to either Halifax or Kentville? Why, indeed, could Hants campus not become an associate campus of either a metro campus or the one down in Kings County?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is not listening carefully. We had no money and we had to make some choices. If, in fact, we could have kept both of them open as associate campuses because we had lots of money and we could have proceeded, we would have proceeded in that direction. We had to make choices. He is referring to Shelburne. Probably, if you consider the treatment that government has given to Shelburne in the past, he would have closed the Shelburne campus without a thought. We didn't think that way; we thought across the province. (Applause) If I suggested that the honourable member look carefully, in fact, some of the most impacted areas reside in Liberal areas. They were looked at, because those were the best choices for our students and we have made those choices.



MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister is telling the people of Nova Scotia that the community college system is going to be downgraded, is going to be destroyed simply because this minister cannot find the money to run that system. This government came to power on the promise of jobs. How can you put people into jobs if you don't train them?



Will the minister today agree to visit the Hants Community Campus next week to speak to the students and the staff at the Hants Community Campus and assure them that he will look into the matter of making them an associate campus, either of Kings County or Halifax County?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I find it very strange that the honourable member refers to the destroyed community college. One of the things that the previous government did, for example, and I will just give you a sample of it. They had a moratorium on any layoffs in the community college, whether instructors had students or not. (Interruptions) Honest to goodness. They said, nobody is to be laid off, no matter what, and to heck with the students. The students don't matter; the privileged position of the government of the day was there.



We are rebuilding the community college despite the difficulties, so that more students can get a better education, and it is happening. The fact that we can't find the money has a lot to do with what they did with the money. This honourable member should talk about the $9 billion debt that now we and the children and grandchildren of this province have to pay, and he should at least apologize to them.



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



EDUC. - TRURO: CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE - ENROLMENT



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Education. In a Savage Government news release dated April 10, 1995 - and I certainly will table that release, if so requested - the Minister of Education, along with officials, including the MLA for Truro-Bible Hill, announced that the new Truro campus, or the community centre of excellence, would be able to serve more than 1,000 students. Can the minister tell this House, and all Nova Scotians, how many students are presently enrolled at the community college of excellence for the 1995-96 school year?



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I am more than pleased to do that. First of all, I remind the honourable member that the third and fourth year Teachers College students are still there. We started programming last May. We have at the present time, in that short time, 87 students. We have an intake that is coming in in the spring, and these are our first five courses. We are going to have approximately another 40 more students. So, that gives you a sense of how many students will be there by then.



In fact, we will have 1,000 students there and that is our goal. It will probably take us three years to do that, and we will build on the strength that we have now as, in fact, the Teachers College students move out of there and I am very pleased to report that to the House of Assembly.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I guess with a community centre of excellence capacity to handle 1,000 students we have 87 students at the Truro campus, not to be confused with the Nova Scotia Teachers College.



Students, municipal leaders and business leaders are extremely concerned about the future of the Truro campus. Even the former Chief of Staff for the Premier, Dennis James, who also headed up the community committee, set up the developed plans for the school, was front and centre with his criticism for the new college.



How does the minister respond to charges made by Mr. James that there was no consultation with the local community or formal response to any of the concerns the committee raised since the initial programming was announced in April?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I can suggest to the honourable member that in fact I spoke to the committee he referred to three times myself. I was at the meeting in which the five programs were announced and announced first of all to the community group and next at a press conference with at least 200 people there and I gave them an opportunity to ask questions as we developed the program.



We started in September, this is October, I inform the honourable member, and we are going back with an open house so people can see what we are doing so we can proceed and learn as we go. I mentioned to the honourable member that in fact four of the five courses are brand new to Nova Scotia and we are exploring how to do those, so I give that to the honourable member for consideration.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, last Friday it was announced that the old community college, if you will, was closing in Truro. I wonder if the minister can tell this House and all Nova Scotians if the programs that were offered at the old community college in Truro will in fact be offered to the students who will be looking for a place to continue their particular courses?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the opportunity to say that what is happening at the present time is that the senior staff of the department is down talking to the students and the staff of the particular campus to which he refers to find out what programs ought to be moved and how it would be done and, in fact, that is going to take place between now and February because it is part of the consultative process.



Staff is going to sit with the faculty of that particular campus to look program by program to see what can be reassigned for the students so they can go forward on that site.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



EDUC. - SCHOOL BDS.:

PICTOU CO./COL.-EAST HANTS/CUMBERLAND - MERGER



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The school boards of Pictou County, Colchester-East Hants and Cumberland spent the month of July working with a facilitator toward an alternative solution to the merger proposed by the minister. The report submitted by John Murley as the board's facilitator to the Minister of Education provided a consensus and alternative to the merger. The board proposed a consortium. Could the minister explain to the boards and to those who will be affected by the mergers just why did he reject the consensus that was submitted?



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, first of all let me tell the honourable member that I have met with two of the three boards last week and I am meeting with the third board, I think, next week to talk to them personally about the decision that was made. If I might remind the honourable member how the process went, I was making a recommendation after I travelled the province in terms of how the boards, in my judgment, not be amalgamated and at the last minute the three boards to which he refers, asked that we consider a consortium model. Cabinet directed me to go back and explore that, I took the report of Mr. Murley, I provided that to Cabinet and Cabinet made the decision based on all of the things that were done and that, in fact, was the decision made by Cabinet.



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, at a cost of $8,000 for the work of the facilitator, Mr. Murley, as well as the cost of the board staff and members, does the minister not agree that this was an exercise in futility for those involved for the month long process? Does it not appear to him that the decision was made already?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that my recommendation as I travelled the province was that those three boards would be amalgamated. The decision was not made by me, it was a Cabinet decision and they made the decision on reflection of the report.



I might mention to the honourable member that the request came from the boards that we consider the consortia model. The work they did at that time with the facilitator paid by the Department of Education in fact is now forming the basis of the amalgamation committee from the three boards. I spoke to two of those three boards already and they recognize that that forms the basis of the new discussions. They have acknowledged that.



After I have the discussion with the Pictou board, which I think is scheduled for next week, then, in fact, I think the three boards can then get on with the work that needs to be done.



MR. MCINNES: Could the minister also explain why the Metro Facilitators Report, which happened to agree with the minister but not the boards, cost the taxpayers of this province three times what the Murley Report cost?



MR. MACEACHERN: All I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, is we had tenders called. The responses that came in for those tenders included Mr. Murley, which was the low tender. The one in Halifax, the successful tender was this one. I can't speak to why Mr. Murley asked for less and the other one asked for more, but they were the best offers we had and we proceeded with them.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



FIN. - PROGRAMS (CHST): CUTS - DETAIL



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. Nova Scotians are beginning to understand that in the federal budget released back in the spring there was major change made to the way social programs in this country are going to be funded. In fact, $7 billion is going to be taken out of the monies that are transferred to the provinces for the funding of health, education and social services. That represents $328 million over the next three years of reduction in monies coming to the Province of Nova Scotia. The Prime Minister himself has said that the reduction of national standards and federal funding represents a fundamental change in the very nature of Canada.



Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Premier if instead of just bemoaning these cuts, which he and several of his Cabinet Ministers have been doing lately, will the government make public the cuts that it is considering and the national standards that it is seeking from the federal government, so that all Nova Scotians, not just a small circle, can be involved in this far-reaching debate about what is going to happen to social programs in Nova Scotia?





THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the question. This is obviously an issue of great importance to the people of this province and to us. We can't give you any estimate yet because we don't know the exact figures. The figures that are projected may change.



What we do know, Mr. Speaker, is that if this government had not done what we did in the first two and a half years, we would be in an incredible mess vis-a-vis the new projected cuts. When you consider the financial mess that was left by the Conservatives in 1993, it is perfectly obvious that the steps we have taken to put our house in order have been painful at times but they have been the correct one. What we are doing with this is analyzing it. The whole question of government restructuring, the whole question of what we do in order to cope with this will be done with fairness and it will be a Cabinet decision.



I don't think any of us pretend that we like to accept the kind of cuts that are there, but, Mr. Speaker, if we don't understand that the federal government has to make the same kind of cuts that this government has made, then we will be in for a 55 cent dollar, we will be in for major financial problems as a result of their inability to deal with it. So, we don't like what they are doing and we have told them that.



I should also add that we have had probably eight meetings, ranging from the Finance Minister to the Minister of Community Services, HRDA, on the federal level, and we have had meetings with the health ministers. Meetings will continue, Mr. Speaker.



MR. CHISHOLM: The Premier loves to go back to 1993 and before and blame a lot of the choices that he and his government are making on the former administration, but it is a question of choices here. The matter is of such significance to the people of Nova Scotia that I and my colleagues are asking him and his Cabinet colleagues to engage Nova Scotians in this important debate, to not make these choices in the bunker, not to offer these choices to Nova Scotians without engaging them in some kind of debate about what they want, the kind of debate, Mr. Speaker, that we are trying to engage Quebecers in. That these programs are important to us and we want to work with Quebec in order to ensure they do not wither and die.



[4:00 p.m.]



I ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, will he not involve Nova Scotians in such an important debate by holding public hearings from one end of this province to the other in order to discuss federal plans and what Nova Scotia's response should be?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the role of the Opposition is to oppose, that is perfectly clear. It is interesting that when you want, on occasions, because you think it is in your favour to go for the kind of public consultation you urge it. What I would like to know and many others in this House would like to know, is what in the name of Heaven the New Democratic Party has ever offered in the way of choices? Not one and that extends to their lately departed Leader who will find the same problems at the federal scene. There is a major financial shortage. There are problems with money supply coming to us, as there are all governments in the world.



What we are looking at are at making choices that will protect those essential services. Let us hear sometime, in a constructive way, proposals from the New Democratic Party other than increasing taxes, soaking the rich and those nebulous plans that never seem to get anywhere. Let them show genuine, constructive interest. We would be delighted to listen. They have never ever done that. (Applause)



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party presented the people of Nova Scotia with choices in 1993 and they have completely turned their back on all of the choices that they gave Nova Scotians at that time. Let's not forget that when Nova Scotians have had a chance ever since to make a choice, they have rejected this Premier and his government and the moves that he is making. Let's not forget.



Mr. Speaker, the question here is that people want a response from this government, a response other than the series of kamikaze attacks, the cuts and slashing that we are getting that is explained away by the federal reduction in transfer payments.



We want, Mr. Speaker, this Premier to talk to Nova Scotians before decisions are made in private circles in the bunker downstairs and elsewhere. Consult with Nova Scotians about what they think are the important priorities and choices with respect to programs in the Province of Nova Scotia.



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this government consulted in 30-60-90 to nothing but ridicule from the people opposite. I will tell you, there is no minister that has consulted more than the Minister of Education. Nobody has been around municipalities more than the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Nobody has consulted more than the Minister of Health in his trips around this province. (Applause)



I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that they talk to the 109,000 people who are going to accept the Pharmacare Program instead of parading the 1,000. (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, so that we can have Question Period.



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I can answer one question of the choices that we gave in 1993. We talked about jobs. There were 60,000 Nova Scotians unemployed when we took over and there are now 48,000 Nova Scotians who are unemployed. That is what we have done. (Applause)



So when it comes to the question of choices, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that the New Democratic Party start to look at sensibly putting forward choices that people can look at, instead of just criticism. We have never heard one constructive criticism that led to anything and I believe that the people of Nova Scotia will examine that and reject it as they always have.



MR. SPEAKER: A new question, the honourable member for Pictou Centre.



EDUC. - SCHOOL BOARD EMPLOYEES: NON-UNIONIZED - COORDINATOR



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Eduction, there are approximately 700 non-unionized school board employees who have rallied together with concern about their job security in the face of school board reductions from 22 to 7. The minister had a meeting with these non-unionized employees back in August and he suggested to them that he would set up an 1-800 number and a coordinator which would make an arrangement available so that they could address their concerns directly. It was a good idea and many of those non-unionized employees have availed themselves of that 1-800 number but they have not received a call back. Will the minister confirm that a coordinator has been made responsible to return the calls on behalf of these non-unionized employees?



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I thank the member for the question because as we explored the ideas of amalgamation, to my surprise, coming from Cape Breton, there were very few non-unionized workers at school boards. I discovered, as the honourable member has said, there is of the order of 700 non-unionized workers. I met with them, in fact, twice. First of all, I met with a large group of them, of the order of 300 of them and then, they have set up a committee. In fact, it is one of the only non-organized groups that I know and they are going to meet with me once a month to discuss those things.



The 1-800 number is being worked at very carefully by a person in our department and when we start seeing the kind of questions they are asking, we in fact are committed to hiring a coordinator or to appoint a coordinator of the right type when we start seeing the kinds of questions that are coming forth, Mr. Speaker.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the minister has confirmed then that so far all they have been doing is fielding questions and the coordinator has not been approved. The minister had on an earlier day stated that the placement of non-union employees is a constant concern to senior management and to school board elected officials. He made the statement that non-unionized employees will not be abandoned. My question to the minister is, will he give a concrete example of how he can reassure non-unionized employees that they will not be abandoned in this process?



MR. MACEACHERN: Well, Mr. Speaker, first of all, and I remind all members of the House that these are not direct employees of the ministry, but I have met with them personally and I have committed to meet with their group once every month to work through any problems that have come up. One of the things I have asked them to do is to develop an inventory of all of the non-unionized workers, the jobs that they have, how long they have worked with the board, and that is all available to us now and it is under study. So what we are doing is first of all establishing that's an agreement between their representatives and the department with by the way the school boards association sitting with us at the meetings to identify very carefully who might be displaced and we are going to deal with them one at a time.



I can assure the honourable member, Mr. Speaker, and through you, all members of the House that we are not going to abandon those people and I have the commitment of each and every board member across the province as I travelled that it is one of their grave concerns. So I give assurance to the honourable member and again through you to all members of the House, that that is a concern of both the boards and myself.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary, will the minister be including in his impending Education Act a clause which will protect the successor rights of non-unionized employees which will put them on an even footing as they compete for jobs within the new restructured school board system?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, my commitment to the workers as I travelled was that they would be treated fairly and the Act will treat them fairly.





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



NAT. RES.: TWO RIVERS WILDLIFE PARK - ECONOMIC ASSESSMENT



MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. The minister has said that he fully intends to withdraw the annual funding for the Two Rivers Wildlife Park, a yearly sum of a little over $100,000, when you consider the amount taken in at the gate. The jobs are gone, the tourism infrastructure is gone and so are the economic spinoffs.



My question for the minister is, did his government do any kind of economic assessment to come to the conclusion that the costs of operating the park exceeded the economic benefits derived from maintaining the park?



HON. DONALD DOWNE: I appreciate the question of the member opposite in regard to the concerns of the park. As indicated earlier this year, we made a decision that we, as a province, would not continue the operation side of the park but have offered to work with the community to find solutions and maintain the operation, in conjunction with them, to operate the park. Thank you.



MR. MACLEOD: My first supplementary, again for the Minister of Natural Resources; the minister is on record of supporting the new 18-hole golf course in his county -not in his constituency - on the grounds that it will create seasonal employment, spinoffs for local business and generate economic renewal. I further understand that the minister supports the idea of $1 million of government money, $450,000 of that coming from the coffers of the provincial government. I wonder if the minister could explain how, since both the golf course and the Two Rivers Wildlife Park have the same merits, or similar merits, he could support the development of one and, at the same time, abandon the other one?



MR. SPEAKER: Well, I believe that a wide range of latitude should be allowed to honourable members imposing questions but Beauchesne is very clear that ministers must be questioned with respect to their ministerial responsibilities. I simply make that as an observation of caution.



MR. DOWNE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I find it interesting, the question in regard to recreational activities. As the Interim Leader in his last dying days here in the Legislative Assembly in that capacity he will remember all too well when he was in the Cabinet, and so will other members in the front benches realize that they, in fact, spent $1.2 million building a golf course in the Province of Nova Scotia and there was never anything said about that. On top of that, they paid the operating cost for a number of years and went in the hole, so I don't know where the change is.



Secondly, Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that the member opposite was referring to an infrastructure development program. As the member opposite understands, although the Opposition Leader obviously has not read the infrastructure program in detail, to realize under the community needs concept or program within the pillars of the infrastructure program, we had taken the recommendation by the municipality, the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg County, that recommended this project to go forward, supported by the Town of Bridgewater and Mayor Ernest Bolivar, supported by the Town of Lunenburg, supported by the Town of Mahone Bay, supported by the South Shore Tourism Association, supported by a number of organizations throughout the County of Lunenburg and asking that they go forward.



So what we have done is accepted, Mr. Speaker, the proposal that was brought forward by the municipality and I think the argument is that. (Interruption) No, Mr. Speaker, I would like, and there are all sorts of initiatives for development in Cape Breton and the member would opposite.



What we have proposed to the area of Two Rivers is quite clear. We have offered, not in the issue, the issue he is talking about is the construction side, creating jobs, 20 plus jobs in construction and another 15 full time jobs. What we are talking here in regard to Two Rivers is an issue of operating costs. If this previous government had not squandered so many millions and billions of dollars in this office, we would not be in the situation we are right now in the Province of Nova Scotia.



The Two Rivers Wildlife Park, Mr. Speaker, we have offered to the community of Two Rivers, which is very similar to what we have done to the Upper Clements Wildlife community. What we have done in Goshen, Guysborough County is offered them a partnership, an opportunity to create economic opportunity for their area. We have offered that and will continue to offer that to find partnerships, to find ways to create jobs and economic stability in a way that has never been done before, not the way the Conservatives used to, by simply throwing money down the tube and expecting to find the answer. (Applause)



[4:15 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize a further and final supplementary, I want to state as a ruling from the Chair that the honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs is the minister responsible for the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Works Program, and I would request honourable members having any questions with reference to that program to direct them to the appropriate minister.



MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, again, my supplementary question is to the Minister of Natural Resources, and I would like to congratulate him on speaking for five minutes and not answering anything that I have asked him.



There are now three golf courses in Lunenburg County. The minister wants to make it four. There is one wildlife park in Cape Breton and the minister wants to make it none. The bottom line is - the minister knows it, I know it and the people of Cape Breton West know it - that this is a classic case of Liberal double standards. There are those, Mr. Speaker, who would say that if this wildlife park was on the LaHave River and not the Mira River, it would remain open.



My question, again to the minister, will the minister tell the people of Cape Breton West if the government has done any kind of economic assessment to determine the potential benefits of building a fourth golf course and, if so, will he table that in this House at his earliest convenience?



MR. SPEAKER: I fail to see how this question relates to the Department of Natural Resources.



MR. DOWNE: It is interesting, Mr. Speaker, as I ponder the question in regard to my ministry, I feel that the question, and the member opposite in his first time in the Legislative Assembly, treating with all respect due this House to a new member, the question in regard to golf courses and studies have nothing to do with the issue of a wildlife park, with all due respect.



The issue of the wildlife park, what we have offered the community of Cape Breton, as we have to the Upper Clements Wildlife community, as we have to other communities as we are forced to reduce some of those expenditures, we have offered them a partnership, the ability for them to be able to operate the operation free of charge, $1.00 a year, all equipment, all wildlife, everything that is in the facility.



We have also offered them, through a joint partnership with the Economic Renewal Agency, the ability to access capital money that is required to build any facilities that can create economic activity within that community. We have also offered them, through support with ERA and other departments, programs through the fishery TAGS program for training and upgrading of staff. We have offered opportunities, Mr. Speaker, for a capital assistance of $15,000 for year one, $10,000 for year two, $5,000 for year three of the operation. This is an opportunity that the people in Cape Breton and the people in the area of the Upper Clements Park have seen as a personal opportunity; they are running it.



Jim Horsfell - for those of you on the opposite side of this room here know very well - is chairman of that society, has taken the challenge in creating opportunities for people in his area and creating opportunities to maintain that park. And as I indicated before in the Wildlife Division and as the comments were made earlier about the cost . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Spend a little time reading the contracts in oil.



MR. DOWNE: I have read the contracts in the oil; I only wish you guys had of done it. The issue is, Mr. Speaker, we are doing all (Interruption)



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Is there a new question?



The honourable member for Kings North.



AGRIC.: CDN. DAIRY COMM. - RULES



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Agriculture. Homestead Cheese Sales Incorporated of Aylesford is a manufacturer of specialty cheeses. They are presently purchasing 42,000 litres per week of milk from Nova Scotia dairy farms. Homestead is also employing 13 workers. All milk is purchased within the rules of the Canadian Dairy Commission. Have you requested to the federal Minister of Agriculture that all cheese manufacturers in Canada follow the same rules and purchase all milk through the Canadian Dairy Commission?



HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for his question. The individual he just referred to has notified our department this afternoon; we received a copy of a correspondence that he has received. We are in the process of looking at this concern. We certainly will be in contact directly with the individual. I will certainly be glad to provide the honourable member with our response, with the information, once we have looked at this particular problem. Thank you.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, again, to the Minister of Agriculture. This is not a new problem. The Department of Agriculture in Nova Scotia was notified some months ago that Olympus Dairies of Alberta has been selling milk that they have not been purchasing through the Canadian Dairy Commission. This past week, Olympus Dairies of Alberta sent 360,000 kilograms of feta cheese to central Canada. There are 13 jobs and 43,000 kilograms of fluid milk that are in jeopardy in Nova Scotia. The question is, what is the Minister of Agriculture going to do? Because this problem is not new; it didn't just happen today. It has been going on for several months, and what is this government going to do to protect jobs in Nova Scotia?



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture, 30 seconds.



MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, as I have pointed out to the honourable member, our staff are presently looking at this situation. We certainly will be in contact directly with the Homestead Cheese Sales Inc. from the Berwick area, and we certainly will provide a copy of that answer to the honourable member.



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



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Business.



GOVERNMENT BUSINESS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



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



PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, when we recessed in the spring, the bills were inadvertently removed from the Bill Book. We have copies that are being circulated as I speak. So, every member should have one within a matter of a few seconds.



Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 24.



Bill No. 24 - Wildlife Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, as members opposite will remember all too well last May, last fall two family pets, dogs, were trapped by coyote snares in the Province of Nova Scotia. Concerns were raised by members of the public about the issue of safety, the safety of their pets while travelling in the lands of Nova Scotia. Landowners and dog owners felt there should be some method for landowners to know where the traps were set on their own land, so they and others could warn individuals with regard to protection of their pets from the potential dangers of the traps.



I brought together, Mr. Speaker, representatives of the Nova Scotia Trappers Association, the Nova Scotia Wildlife Federation, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, as well as two members of the public who had lost a prized dog during an encounter with a coyote snare on their own property. I might say, the meeting was a very positive meeting and I want to compliment, I believe, Melissa Cox and her mother, Heather, for the tremendous presentation they had made in regard to the loss of their own pet.



At that time, Mr. Speaker, representatives of the Nova Scotia Trappers Association expressed their concern for many people, and trapping is part of their livelihood and we understand that trappers do consider this as much of their livelihood. The trappers also expressed concern over the licensing and the increasing number of dogs that are allowed to run free and uncontrolled in the wild. Any of us who have hunted or have spent any time in the woods at all or have been around wildlife, realize the tremendous damage that pets that are allowed to run wild can do to the wildlife of this province. Generally, everyone at the meeting agreed on two basic principles, Mr. Speaker: that the landowners and trappers should have a mechanism to provide control of land and responsible access to those lands and that the dog owners should be held responsible for their dogs that are running uncontrolled in the wildlife habitat of Nova Scotia.



Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 24, An Act to Amend the Wildlife Act, deals with both of these concerns in a way that balances off, in our view, the concerns of both parties. The new clause, Clause 38, really is where the occupiers of forested land in Nova Scotia wishing to control or be aware of any trapping occurring on his or her land will be able to place signs. This signage will state the name of the owner as well as their phone number, indicating to the trapper who is in the area that they must obtain permission to access that land for the purposes of trapping. That way, individuals will realize very clearly, in fact, if there are coyote traps and other traps there, on their own land, and obviously are simply asking for permission.



As well, another new clause is Clause 41 of Bill No. 24. It will make it an offence for individuals that own dogs to allow the dogs to run at large in the wild. This amendment will ensure that owners of dogs take their responsibility to control their dogs in a more serious manner than maybe they have in the past. The fine for those caught would be approximately $2,000. The same is true with the issue of individual trappers that are caught trapping in areas that are posted without having the permission of the landowner for that right. The issue of controlling pets is an area that, as I said before, is a serious concern and needs to be addressed.



Madam Speaker, the other two areas of change are Clause 111 and Clause 51. The first one, changes to other provisions of the Wildlife Act, really strengthens the protection for birds and turtles. Basically, what we are doing there is saying that anybody who interrupts a nest and takes a nest that has eggs in it, they can't do that. First, they need to have the permission of the minister before they disrupt the nests of birds and, of course, of turtles, fines for such violations and for more serious problems within the Act were also decided to be changed. Under the present law, for anybody that was caught hunting out of season or exceeding the bag limit or hunting while impaired or any other infraction, the minimum fine is $500 and the maximum is $800. We are proposing in this bill to change that to a minimum of $2,000, a maximum of $3,000.



We feel, Madam Speaker, these amendments balance the concerns of those that have forested land as part of their livelihood - those who trap - in the Province of Nova Scotia, but also balance the use of those lands for those individuals that care to use it for recreation. Thank you.



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to rise this afternoon in support of the amendments to the Wildlife Act that the minister has put forward. As I see the amendments, I believe there are several different principles applied here. One deals with when a person should be permitted or not permitted to trap on forest land. The second principle, I believe, deals with the actions a conservation officer may take when a dog is in fact running at large. The third principle, I believe, is the amount of fines that can be levied.



Generally speaking, I feel that the inclusion of the new section regarding signage on property prohibiting trapping is a good idea and seems like a good resolution to a problem that seems to have occurred more frequently over the last few years. I, too, would like to commend Heather Cox and her mother for bring this matter to the minister's attention. I am sure he has heard from a lot of people across the province relative to this concern. I should point out that Melissa Cox and Heather Cox are constituents from the beautiful constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, live in the beautiful Upper Stewiacke Valley area and it is a very serious concern. Many people can tell tragic stories about when a pet has been inadvertently caught in a trap and I can tell you specifically, down in the Cape Breton area, a large number of dogs have been maimed or killed by coyote traps. The amendments to this bill should address that concern.



[4:30 p.m.]



I don't know if anyone in the House has ever come across a deer, I don't know how many deer hunters we have among us here but the Minister of Natural Resources does a little deer hunting. It is not a very pleasant sight, in fact, it is pretty horrific when you come upon a deer that has been attacked by a dog. However, we must be concerned about the implementation of the section with regard to the trappers, a part of the new subsection is unclear and I hope the minister would perhaps address this concern when he is giving his closing remarks relative to the bill.



One of the provisions in the amendments seems to indicate that it would be a defence to a charge of trapping without permission, a person might be able to say that they were unable to see or understand the notice. What I am referring to is the new provision in the section that states, occupiers may post signs around their land that states that no trapping shall take place without permission. I am sure that the minister is aware that some of these trappers cross over several landowners' properties and the actual occupiers of the land may not be known to the trapper. So initially, I am hoping that the minister and his conservation officers will consider the first period of time as a certain trial period and I hope they will be a little tolerant.



I think it should be clearly understood by both the occupier and the trapper where the signs should be posted, what distance apart should the signs be posted and when do the signs have to be posted. Do they have to be posted year-round or do they have to be posted just during the trapping season? What about the cases where trapping has taken place for years and years and years on a property; are trappers going to be advised about this new section?



I want to agree and concur with the minister because I have also met with the Nova Scotia Trappers Association and the Wildlife Federation of Nova Scotia and they are pretty much in support of this initiative but they still are a little unclear of how the message is going to get out to them. I am hoping that the minister and the conservation officers will be, in fact, a little bit tolerant.



In order that there be no more tragic incidents with family pets, we must not only put these requirements in legislation but we must also again be very clear with the landowner, the occupier and the trapper. We must make sure that everybody understands what these new rules and the law of the land will mean.



I note that the amendment respecting the scope of a conservation officer, not to be confused with the scope of a rifle, it talks about when a dog is running at large in a wildlife habitat. We have had some inquiries from various people on this provision. One of the enquiries we had was from a constituent who holds English style hunts which include the use of dogs and dogs are running but they are accompanied by a hunter or by the owner of the dogs. I would ask that the minister confirm that this section would not apply during that type of event, English hunting or rabbit hunting of things of that nature because dogs at that point would have to be considered unsupervised because those dogs from time to time can get quite some distance away from the hunter or the owner of the dogs.



Now, the third area or principle we are asked to consider is raising the amount of fines that may be levelled. It is a fairly hefty increase and I understand that the minister certainly wants to clamp down as his new amendments come into effect, but why such a range between the minimum and maximum and, in fact, why is there a maximum stated amount? Why not just set a minimum, Mr. Minister? It is just an idea, and I have heard different people talk about that fact.



While the Minister of Natural Resources has addressed the concern of dogs running at large, and he also has addressed the concern that landowners have relative to trappers trespassing, if you will, on landowners' property, I would like the minister to, perhaps, include in his summation some comments about the fact that dogs, for the most part, are allowed to run at large in many of our cities and there doesn't seem to be any type of restriction in a number of municipalities. I am just wondering if the minister has any concerns respecting dogs running at large in some of our municipal units? While I know a former alderman probably would have some concerns about that concern - and he is nodding his head that he does - and I am not sure if the Minister of Natural Resources, in fact, considers that part of his jurisdiction, but it again, I believe, is a certain consideration that he should, in fact, give some thought to.



Mr. Speaker, with those very brief comments, I want to commend the minister, I want to commend the constituents who brought it to the minister's attention. I think he did listen to the Wildlife Federation, the Trappers Association and, of course, and perhaps most importantly, the minister did listen to the citizens in the Province of Nova Scotia. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to speak very briefly on Bill No. 24, the changes to the Wildlife Act, and say that I and my colleague will be supporting these changes. They are the result, as I understand of very positive meetings and negotiations between not only the dog owners who brought this matter to the attention of the minister, but also the Wildlife Federation and the Trappers Association. I can see that the parts of the bill, as they relate to an owner/occupier of forest land to be able to have some control over the kind of activity that goes on on that property, including trapping, is extremely important. I spend seven or eight years of my childhood in the country and we had several dozen acres of forest land, and we had a problem. We had a number of dogs at various times and we did run into problems with trap lines on the property. It is a concern and I think that this particular part of the bill, these changes, are certainly positive.



I have also been on the other side of it, where I have seen dogs that have been allowed to run wild and have picked up the scent of deer or other types of wildlife. Even, for that matter, domesticated animals or cattle or sheep can become a very serious danger and a very serious problem in terms of harassing that wildlife, and there need to be some stricter controls and I think this bill gives better powers to conservation officers to try to deal with that problem.



I just wanted to indicate, Mr. Speaker, my support and appreciation for these changes and the process that was followed. I certainly would say that I was dismayed to see what happened to this dog that was caught - and there have been other cases of dogs that have been caught in snares - and it is a cruel way for a pet to die, or in the case of one situation in Cape Breton, of a dog to be injured. I think the minister has addressed this in a fairly positive way, in the way this bill has been written.



In consultation with people, including the Wildlife Federation, we understand that there is considerable support for these amendments and I commend the minister and will be voting in support of Bill No. 24. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I, too, will be supporting this bill. I have some questions with regards to signage. It appears to me, since we are getting into signage and I am not clear yet and I am sure when the minister summarizes he will give us some indication, he talked about the signs themselves but to make sure that they are visible or wherever a person approaches a particular property because, even as a hunter you get permission to go and sometimes you can get off easily on someone else's land and not purposely but it can happen.



I guess the concern I have had, and I know this has happened in my area, we are getting into signage, those property owners who do not want trapping. I wonder if when trapping is done near an urban area, because this is where many times family pets get caught. What happens is many family owners of pets are not aware that trapping is taking place not far from where they live.



Now I can understand that we can't put signage out in all the rural areas and high density, I am not looking at that. I am wondering, if we are going to get into signs if in some way some signage could be done if we know that trapping is being done very close to an urban area where people live. I know people who have lost family pets; they let them out and the pet didn't go that far and get caught in a trap because they weren't aware that trapping was being done so close to where they live.



I like what the minister is doing here. I am pleased that everyone has agreed to go this far with signage but I wonder if he would consider that little point, that if people are trapping near a family home that at least somebody have the responsibility of letting these people know.



I am not sure how the figures came up with the increase in the fines but I would have thought that there is nothing wrong with the minimum of $800 but if we let the maximum go and, I guess let the judge decide that and I am sure $800 will probably be for a first offence. Now if you get repeat offenders, I suppose it will go to whatever amount but sometimes a ceiling is not put on, it is really left up to the judge to decide after the minimum of somebody who repeatedly doesn't follow this sort of legislation.



I hope that the minister will continue to work with the wildlife people, as he is doing, so that people can continue to trap in the safest way possible. So I think this is a start but I honestly believe we have to do more.



Regarding the dogs, and there is absolutely no question that this is a problem in some areas, people have large numbers of dogs. In rural areas, as the minister probably knows, when he campaigns he doesn't realize how many dogs there are but if you start knocking on doors you realize that every person not only has one dog but sometimes several dogs and they bite. I have been bitten, I know what the minister is saying. I think we have to realize just how many dogs people have as pets. But not everybody takes the responsibility they should take in owning dogs.



The problem is I think we have to enforce very strictly those people who have dogs. I guess I am a little concerned that people destroy dogs. In other words, I don't believe it is the dog's fault that they end up chasing the wildlife. If they were properly looked after by the owner, in many cases, the poor dog would not be out there chasing wildlife. That dog will be destroyed, not because of the dog itself, but because the owner did not take the responsibility.



[4:45 p.m.]



So I am hoping that, in some way, the dog should be able to be taken from the owner. There are people who probably could look after that dog and train that dog to have it stop, but here what we are doing is that we say to the owner, you can find the dog and if you do not, we are going to order that dog destroyed.



I honestly believe that that is not what we should be trying to do. What we should be trying to do is saying to that owner, you have no more rights to that dog and that the dog becomes then, hopefully, if an owner cannot be found that is responsible, then I guess that is the last resort. But the way that I read this legislation is it is not the last resort, it is going to be destroyed and not given the opportunity for people to take that dog and give it the kind of treatment and a life that it should have.



I am a little concerned about that and I have asked the minister to consider that and I do not know whether or not that, I know people say, well, we have rights. It is my dog. But if they are allowing their dog to break the law and to me you are not looking after your dog if you allow that to happen. Maybe the minister could consider some way that that dog could be taken from those owners and not immediately destroyed because I think that is wrong.



So, other than that, I do not really have any comments about the bill and, obviously, the work the minister has done, I approve of and will be supporting the legislation, but I would ask him to consider those couple of areas that I think could be an improvement on this piece of legislation.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on the Wildlife Act. I want to just raise a few things that have been raised already. I will try not to repeat too many of them, but I guess it is going to apply on a short bill.



I will be supporting the bill, as our caucus will, I understand. But I think there are three principles of the bill that a person should not be permitted to trap in forest land, the actions a conservation officer may take when a dog is running at large and the amounts of fines that may be levied. I guess those are the three principles of the bill.



I think there is some concern about the matter of posting signs and the way they have to be posted. I hope that we can, through your conservation officers help people, have this done properly.



The question of the dogs, and I noticed my colleague from Kings West talked about how hard it is to control your dog. Just as a matter of interest, we had a large moose go through Scotsburn and Pictou here just lately and my daughter's dog, who stays on my front lawn all the time, was away for two days and as far as we can figure out, she followed that moose. Now she did not get hurt or anything, but she did not get the moose either.



AN HON. MEMBER: Did she bring the moose home?



MR. MCINNES: No, but it can happen. People have to control their dogs, but it is difficult and I hope that common sense will prevail and conservation officers will do a good job. I appreciate the fact that the minister has listened to the wildlife people in bringing in this Act and I understand they are very supportive.



The matter of the fines, I guess I am not quite sure I understand why it goes from $800 to a maximum of $3,000. Perhaps, when the minister is summing up, he can explain to us what the rationalization is for the vast difference in the fine.



So, Mr. Speaker, I will be supporting the bill. I will be listening to the minister's comments when he sums up this bill. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address Bill No. 24 this afternoon. I think this is a good piece of legislation and it is one that certainly rural people, I presume, would be more aware of than perhaps those who live in the urban areas.



I know, Mr. Speaker, until recently I had a fairly substantial acreage in Falmouth and I was fortunate enough to have on that property an old apple orchard, one that had never been picked commercially probably for 30 or 40 years and, as such, that area could certainly be considered a wildlife habitat in that we had bears and we had rabbits and deer, and what have you, that used to avail themselves of that particular area. But, unfortunately, we had no way, prior to the introduction of this bill, of really policing that property insofar as people trapping on it.



Being a person who has always had a dog, when I first moved to this property - I wasn't there very long, probably about six or eight months - my German Shepherd went down there - he was chasing a rabbit I should tell you - and I watched him go and I just let him go. He ended up with a snare and he had to be destroyed. In fact, he was almost dead when I found him. So, I know what it is like to lose a pet to somebody who, I think, with complete lack of concern for their fellow beings will place traps and snares on property. I also had two young sons at that time who used to wander around that area, and there were leghold traps found on that property. So, I think this legislation addresses a real problem; it is a real problem for those out in the rural areas.



I would like to mention about dogs, in particular, in the area that I live in - and perhaps it is common across this province - that dogs tend, when they are running loose, to congregate together. When the dogs end up in packs, they are a real threat, not only to wildlife, but also to citizens who happen to be walking around in the countryside. I know I have also had my children chased by packs of dogs.



So, this legislation, as I understand it, permits a property owner to place signage on his or her property which requires that if anybody wishes to trap or hunt on that property, to contact the owner of the property and to obtain permission. I think that is a splendid idea. I am a little bit worried, though, Mr. Speaker, when we talk about signage. I realize the last part of this bill, I believe in the last clause in the amendment to the Act, the minister has the power under regulations, Clause 5(ya) "respecting signs and the posting of signs for the purpose of 38A;". The difficulty I see with signs, Mr. Speaker, is that people are inclined to take a piece of cardboard and a felt-tip pen and they mark on it, no hunting, no trespassing. The sign doesn't last very long; the first rain that comes down, it is gone. Sometimes with those kinds of signs, people who see those signs are more apt to just rip them down and walk onto the property anyway.



I would like to suggest to the minister that, perhaps, he give some thought to a standard sign; in other words, what the sign specifically states. The sign should - and I believe this is in the amendment actually - include the name of the property owner and the telephone number of the property owner, and that sign should be of such a nature that it does, indeed, withstand the weather. Also, I don't know if the minister, under the powers he is getting for himself under the regulatory powers, whether or not he will be stipulating how far apart or how close together those signs should be along a property line.



I don't think I have anything further to say on this piece of legislation, except to say that I am glad that the minister has indeed carried out genuine consultation in the case of this particular legislation and I applaud him for that. He has reacted to the advice that has been offered to him by the groups that he has contacted and as a result I believe that he has a bill that generally addresses the needs not only of the property owners, of the people who are interested in trapping and the wildlife people, generally everybody is satisfied even though this bill is, perhaps in some cases, a consensus of the advice that was offered to the minister.



Mr. Speaker, I will be voting for this legislation through second reading. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my remarks in relation to this legislation which I think has considerable merit will be brief. As far as certain of the principles enunciated in the legislation are concerned, you will be aware that there are a number of legal principles established or enunciated in the legislation. I want to refer to one because I think it relates to an obligation which is imposed upon the minister should this legislation pass.



As a matter of principle, this bill would provide that it would be a defence to a charge of trapping without permission that the person was unable to see or understand the notice referred to in Clause 1, Section 38A(2). So, if I am on somebody else's property and I can establish to the satisfaction of a court that I could not see or understand the notice referred to in Section 38(2), that being ". . . notice in writing by means of a sign prohibiting trapping, without permission, on the forest land . . .", and so on. If it is a defence to me as a trespasser on the minister's lands, to use a concrete example, and the minister thinks he has got signs posted on his property, I go on his property and hunt and trap and do the things contemplated by this legislation and I go to court upon him taking me there and I say, I was there and I couldn't see or understand the notices referred to.



I won't beat it to death, the point I want to make is and I am sure the minister understands it fully and my colleague from Hants just alluded to it, the passage of this legislation imposes an exceedingly heavy responsibility, I believe, on the minister to ensure that the nature, the size, the configuration generally of the signage is clear and uniform and set out in regulation. The questions such as where on the property they be posted should be described. I know it would have to be pretty generic because every property is different each from the other so you would have to have some flexibility but that language can be found. Questions as to what distance apart the signs should be posted is a vitally important one. When do the signs have to be posted? Do they have to be posted and maintained in a proper fashion and a readable and accessible fashion year-round? Those questions, I believe have to be addressed as well.



Are trappers going to be advised of these new provisions, I wonder for instance, when trappers apply for licenses? I guess what I really want to say is may I put the thought in the minister's mind that he perhaps request that his officials develop an information sheet of some kind or another which outlines the signage policy that is enshrined in the regulatory regime. I am assuming that by that time, by the time issuance of trapping licenses is made, that the minister will have with his officials taken what advice is necessary to ensure that signs of a particular size, shape and so on are agreed and are in place.



I guess the note that I made for myself that I want to try to come back to and simply finish up with: I was not sure that when I read the legislation, I found that the making of regulations by the minister relative to the signage issue is a mandatory one. The minister may be able to help me there and say, no, no, it is there; it is in clause so and so, but I have not found that.



[5:00 p.m.]



The point I make here is that the obligation by way of regulation, that the minister establish a regime of signage, should not be permissive in the legislation. It should ensure uniformity; the development of materials that would be made available to trappers so that the landowners understand what they have to do, the trappers understand what they have to be on the lookout for, they know the distances between the posting of the signage and so on. It occurs to me, and I may be wrong - if I am, I apologize to the minister and to you, Mr. Speaker, for consuming time unnecessarily - but I did not see that the regulation-making authority was a mandatory one. If it simply says, as I believe it does, that the minister may make regulations, I would very seriously and respectfully suggest to the minister that he sit with his officials in that connection, think a little bit about the impact that regulations relative to signage might well have and consider that the making of such regulations be considered to be and be said to be in the legislation mandatory rather than permissive.



I don't profess to be an expert by any means in the law of trespass and so on, but I did have occasion to meet in a previous incarnation with some of those who probably in the last year or so have met with this minister to talk about this particular piece of legislation. As this minister will be aware, I am sure, either from his own personal knowledge or from advice from legal counsel of one kind or another - and the Minister of Finance would probably concur and the Clerk I am sure would concur as well - there are a lot of bodies of law under our legal system which have some unbelievably arcane and confusing rules and potential results. The law of trespass and the relative rights of the landowner and the trespasser are, depending on the factual situation, subject to or are prone to some of the most amazing judicial determinations as to who is at fault, the trespasser or the landowner.



If we are trying, as I honestly believe this minister is, to make a genuine effort to protect both sides of the equation, the landowner and the entrant on that landowner's property, I simply am saying, and I will close with that, I am simply saying to the minister by way of plea that he please make sure that he reviews scrupulously, carefully with his officials the sections that relate to the posting of the signs, the design of a standard sign, so that, as my colleague from Hants West has said, we don't get into this one owner will have it on the cardboard with marking pencil and the rainstorm tomorrow night blows it away and then, bingo, I can tell you, from previous experience, the legal mess that both the owner and the trespasser are in will consume tremendous amounts of unnecessary litigation, to say the least.



So, while we support the legislation, as it moves through the various stages of further review and at the Law Amendments Committee, we will be anxious to see and to be assured that if necessary, and I think there might be some need for some additional language, if necessary some additional language is injected into the legislation which imports into it that degree or element of certainty without which while it might be considered to be a good attempt, it might not go as far as is necessary to ensure that the legal rights and obligations of the owner, on the one hand, and the legal rights and obligations of the trespasser, the trapper, the person on the owner's lands, are also completely clear and understood.



So, we support the bill. I will vote for it to move it on to the Law Amendments Committee and would sincerely ask the minister's indulgence as we make various representations that will, hopefully, have the effect of lending some modest amount of greater precision to the legislative regime which he is attempting to accomplish here.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, this Wildlife Act is kind of an interesting couple of pages. It is very timely because there is a greater interest right now among people in the business and industry of trapping than some time in the recent past.



One of the difficulties fur people have had for many years has been kind of the anti-fur lobby that we have been hearing about. There are people - hard as it may be for you and me, Mr. Speaker, to understand - in this great country of ours who do not like to see people wearing fur coats and they go to great lengths to try to discourage that.



Fortunately, Mr. Speaker, the people who are in the industry of selling fur pelts, and that is what trappers are interested in the animals for, have shown quite conclusively that the fur industry is, in fact, something that is needed for the control of wildlife and good management in our wildlife areas.



One of the interesting things, too, about the fur industry in the northern part of Canada, both in the Northwest Territories and in the northern Prairie Provinces and Quebec and Ontario and Labrador and Newfoundland, there are areas where people actually earn their living by trapping. There is no other income source for those people than eking out a living through the trapping of wildlife. So it is not surprising that in Nova Scotia we do have some interest at the present time in wildlife and indicating through this that people will only trap where they have permission.



I don't think there is any problem with that because, if you are a landowner, it is your land, you should have the right to control and the right to the land's destiny. Certainly I don't think there is a problem with the trapper seeking permission of the landowner, too. So I certainly agree with that in principle. Certainly putting the name and telephone number of the occupier of the land, so the trapper who suddenly sees it and says look, I have been trapping here for 20 years and my grandfather for 200 years before me, a long history of trapping in that area. Now, at least, if they see a sign they can say, well, I am going to call this guy who owns the place and talk to him reasonably and politely and explain to him what we are up to and then perhaps the trapping would be able to continue.



Trapping is something that many of us are most unfamiliar with, certainly people who live in urban centres and even many people who live in the country have not had great experience with trapping. However, there are people, and I guess many of us know people who earn part of their yearly income from the trapping of wildlife. So it is something that the department and the government cannot exclude, nor can it be something that is neglected. When people's livelihood and their jobs are at stake, it is important that the government stay in touch and pay attention.



I suspect part of this interest in trapping at the present time, at the Department of Natural Resources, is the very high profile case of family pets that have met their demise while travelling through the woods and getting caught in a trap that was, in fact, intended for wildlife. However, the family pet got caught up in it and really none of us, nobody, Mr. Speaker, wishes that on a family pet. Rules and regulations and discussions between trappers and the property owners must take place so that we do everything in our power to encourage the safe use of wild animal traps in this province so that as few as possible family pets get tangled up.



Now, family pets, Mr. Speaker, as you well know, are not immune to causing destruction of wildlife. Certainly the Department of Natural Resources for many years has been running advertisements and they have been running pictures and posters and billboards and so on to caution owners of dogs to make sure they know where their dog is so that the dog, indeed, is not causing greater problems to wildlife than the trapper would even do. Many of us have seen the damage that can be done by some of the roving packs of large dogs. I certainly am most interested to make sure that the owners of the dogs keep the dog under their care and control so that they do not become a nuisance to the wildlife of Nova Scotia.



In the Annapolis Valley when this bill came forward, there was some concern because we have a very active hunt in the Valley and the dogs are under the control of a huntsman and they go through the fields and dales in covering many miles in the run of a day while they are following the scent of an artificial fox. It is just a rag with smelly stuff on it and the dogs follow it and they woof and they bark and the people follow behind on their horses. There was some concern at the time, but those dogs are certainly under the control of the huntsmen.



There is also a call I received from a gentleman that spends a great deal of his time walking in the woods and he was very concerned that these new amendments would affect his enjoyment of the wildlife and, in fact, his own property, where he is out with his dog and the dog was not on a leash. She was just bouncing along. Certainly we could give an assurance that as long as the dog owner is there and the dog is not molesting wildlife, that it certainly would be all right.





One of the interesting things later on in this bill we see is that the fines for certain offences are going up from $800 to $3,000. That brings the question to mind, is this another one of these hidden taxes that we all know this government is so famous for slipping in without anybody noticing? Are they really trying to protect the wildlife, or have they increased the fine and then they are going to be out and pushing tickets as quickly as possible so that the coffers of the Minister of Natural Resources may be increased simply by a stroke of the pen, increasing the fine from $800 to $3,000?



Now, I think any of us in this Chamber would realize how substantial a $3,000 fine would be. I would venture to say that the vast majority of people engaged in the trapping in this province would not even earn $3,000 a year if they gathered up most of the pelts that they got for the year. So I hope that the fine that they are planning is certainly not just another one of this government's money grabs, but is actually there as a preventive measure.



Mr. Speaker, most members of the caucus, I guess, and most people that have spoken have indicated that they are going to support this bill as it wanders its way through the Legislature and through the Law Amendments Committee and then comes back here. I must say that I guess that I will have to support it as well and without anything further, I will take my place and urge that this bill go on to . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Does that bill have any teeth?



MR. ARCHIBALD: Any teeth? No, the dogs and the wildlife have teeth.



It goes off to the committee in the Red Room and then it will come back for further discussion and the public will have an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to pass their judgment at the Law Amendments Committee. So, thank you very much.



[5:15 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I notice that the onus for bringing a charge against an individual who has, without legal justification, trespassed on the property of posted land lies with the landowner. I wonder, in wrapping up at second reading, if the minister could advise the House if the amendment now provides solely a civil remedy to a landowner who deems that he has been injuriously affected or if indeed the Crown would proceed under the Summary Proceedings Act to lay charges on the basis of a complainant coming forward and providing information which, on reasonable grounds, would appear to confirm that a person had trespassed without justification?



Again, with respect to the full application of the law, there is reference made to the person being charged, having as a defence that he or she reasonably believed that permission had been granted to trap on that land. I wonder if the minister could explain to the House what latitude is allowed with respect to the expression, reasonably believed?



There also is a reference in the bill to a person who is trespassing on being able to use as a defence that they did not understand the notice. Well I just can't conceive of too many Nova Scotians who do not understand the words no trespassing. They are pretty well-known words. I just don't believe for a moment that illiteracy is so widespread in Nova Scotia that Nova Scotians can't read those two words. If in fact there is concern that a person may not be able to read a sign which says no trespassing, then I would ask the minister to discuss with his staff and with the organizations that are involved with the endeavours which fall within the ambit of this Act and, of course, with the Nova Scotia Wildlife Federation, to see if perhaps a sign might not be devised which would provide a symbol which could be set up in . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The level of buzz is getting to be quite high. Could we please have one conversation at a time, and that is the conversation of the honourable member for Queens.



MR. LEEFE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It might be possible to create a symbol for no trespassing such that the visual impact would replace the written-out words and thereby serve the purpose of ensuring that anyone who had vision would understand what the sign meant.



There also is an interesting clause here. I don't question the wisdom of it, but there are other questions which do arise in my mind respecting it, and that is the section that excepting with a permit, persons are prohibited from destroying, taking, possessing, buying or selling the egg of any bird or turtle or to disturb the nest of any bird or turtle. I wonder, is that is a special permit? Would a hunting permit count as a permit or is it a permit other than that which must be acquired? Does the minister have information that he can share with the House that there is a market for these commodities? For example, we know that there is a market for bear galls and bear paws in the Far East. Is the minister making this amendment because there is that kind of a market and a traffic in bird eggs and turtle eggs, one which threatens birds and turtles in Nova Scotia? If so and that is the reason for doing this, then I think we would certainly support it, but I would like to have the rationale and the statistical information that backs that up.



I certainly understand the prohibition against using a snare or net or trap to take a bird, but I wonder with that Clause 2 - and, again, I don't know the answer to this, but I am sure the minister does and I hope he will share it with me - if there is any conflict between aboriginal rights and this section of the bill? I would like the minister specifically to address that question when he closes in second reading, whether there is any conflict between Clause 3 of the bill and aboriginal rights in Nova Scotia.



Also, if in fact there is a market for bird eggs and turtle eggs, then it must be sufficiently lucrative to cause people to go to the trouble of collecting them and selling them somewhere in the world. I would anticipate that if that is the case, then the sales might well be in excess of the maximum fine that is proposed in the amendments. If that is the case - and, again, I would ask the minister to address that on the basis of the information that is available to him through his wildlife division - I would urge the minister to remove the maximum fine and leave it to the courts to determine what the maximum fine would be in those instances. Therefore, if a person were found to be guilty of a breach of this Act and were trafficking on a large scale in bird and turtle eggs and was realizing significant profits from it, the judge then would have the capacity to set the fine at a rate which the judge believed would be a disincentive to that person perpetrating this kind of crime in the future and it would send a signal out to any others who might contemplate it.



So, with those questions raised, Mr. Speaker, I will tell the minister that I support the bill in principle and I look forward to his response to my questions as well as those others that members have raised.



MR. SPEAKER: Are there any other speakers to the bill? If I recognize the honourable minister, it will be to close the debate.



The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate my colleagues' comments and general support for this initiative, on behalf of the Department of Natural Resources. Most of the issues are probably centred around three specific areas, but I want to and I believe the last speaker did bring forward the fourth point which this bill is about and that is the issue of eggs from turtles and from birds.



Obviously, being a poultry farmer, it is nice that birds do lay eggs and those ones are for sale and they are free from encumbrance from the minister. I would encourage you to eat as many eggs as possible, although I do not produce eggs myself.



I will go backwards through this process, if I can, in regard to the questions that are there. There is nothing, to my knowledge, in regard to market or exotic market for these eggs that has been a process of moving the change in that legislation as much as saying that the disruption of those particular nests that are holding eggs would require the ministerial authority in order to do that and as a conservation measure primarily. Whether it is a piping plover issue or any other nesting egg, we want people to be more aware of the importance of nature's nesting processes and that they need to have that authorization before they proceed.



The aboriginal rights. I think it is quite clear that in the Treaty of 1752 they do have their own particular areas of rights. We as a nation would comply with their rights as a nation. One of the interesting things I have discovered as minister is the working relationship I have had with the aboriginal people.



Those of you who have opened up the booklets lately in regard to the hunting regulations will see the Mi'Kmaq hunting policy and rights of the individual native communities and they have been very supportive of the fact that we have done that and embellished that in our hunting and trapping guides. For that we have a very good working relationship and we have worked together on, for example, the buck-only law. When we introduced the buck-only law some two years ago, I telephoned all of the aboriginal communities and asked them to support it in principle and they have given their blessing in support of it; in fact, they have indicated I was the first minister to ever give them a call on any changes of any wildlife issues in the Province of Nova Scotia. They were very willing to support that and obviously we would comply by again informing them in regard to some of these issues of change. I would assume that they will support these initiatives as well, but we will have to check with them.



The issue of trespass, whether it is a civil responsibility or a Crown responsibility, conservation officers will lay the charges; it will be the responsibility of the Crown and our conservation officers will lay the charges based on the information that we receive from the landowners. The Crown Attorneys will then do the prosecution which really is an addition to the civil remedies. So there is a provision in there that the Crown has a responsibility to uphold its provisions within the Act. The defense would be the same as any other protection of land, the protection of Property Act as we have in the Province of Nova Scotia, so we will look after that.



I think I covered most of your questions. The issue of signage was an issue that was brought forward by a number of members here. I believe under Clause 5, Subsection 113 (1) there is the ability for the minister in this particular bill to be able to specify the signs, the types of signs that we would be using, and we would in those regulations then design the type of signage that would be required. The lettering, obviously we want it so it is weatherized and will be able to last in the outdoors. We have some signs that we have looked at as prototypes already that obviously meet those requirements. We would then, of course through consultation with the appropriate bodies, develop the specific size we will be using and the distance for which those signs will be dealt with, where they will be located and obviously we will be working with organizations to make sure that that is satisfactory. I don't have the size and the dimensions here today, but we have looked at signs very similar to this size, they are kind of an orange-red colour, big black lettering on it and so on and so forth, so we have been reviewing it.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: A question, Mr. Speaker. I know the minister was trying to hear some of what I was saying a little while ago but there was a buzz in the House and he may have missed this so I want to place it to him again before he closes the debate in second reading.



With respect to the signage - and he has responded in the way I had hoped he would respecting the advice that he would seek from organizations such as the Nova Scotia Wildlife Federation - what the minister missed, I believe, was my request that consideration be given for those who may not be able to read or, indeed perhaps, for visitors who may not read English, to devise a symbol which could be used on the sign which would indicate no trespassing and therefore would be used in a kind of universal way, just as we use symbols on the Highway No. 103 signs to indicate that fixed-roof accommodations are available and there is a hospital off that route and so on and so forth.



MR. DOWNE: This bill is not talking about trespassing, what we are talking about here is if you are going to trap then you have got to have permission to trap. It is not a matter of not trespassing on individual land, it is a matter of trapping on an individual piece of property and you need to have the permission of the individual. So we will have no trap signs on here. We will take that into account; I appreciate the suggestion. I don't know the number of trappers we have in the Province of Nova Scotia who would not be able to read English. We will take that into consideration and I appreciate your comment and we will obviously take a look at your suggestion.



In regard to the question from the Leader of the Opposition, I believe under Clause 5, Subsection 113(1) which basically gives me the ability to establish regulations and making authority which is necessary and the result of the amendments contained in Clause 1. I am not a lawyer. As he referred to, why do these become so technical and legal? It is obviously because the lawyers have a large responsibility in putting these together. As I understand it, that is the provision for which I have the authority then to set the regulations in place in dealing with the issue of the signage, the size, where they will be located, the distance they will be located and so on and so forth, and that will be done with consultation to make sure the requirements are necessary in compliance with individuals.



One issue brought forward was the concern about, on one hand, the size or the level of the penalty that is being imposed and, on the other hand, the tremendous devastation pets have caused to wildlife when they are allowed to run in packs. If you have seen carcasses chewed away, they don't necessarily kill the animal they just maim it, tear off the back end of the deer and they will not continue to live and it is a very torturous death. The reality in regard to the fines is really a housekeeping issue. The previous Act has a minimum of $500 to a maximum of $800. What we are suggesting here is a minimum of $2,000 to a maximum of $3,000.





[5:30 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am having a great difficulty hearing the minister. That is number one.



MR. SPEAKER: We are all having great difficulty.



MR. RUSSELL: That is number one. I was wondering, number two, if the minister would take a question? I was wondering if during his wrap-up on the bill he would also indicate as to how he will make the message, that the Act is being changed and what the new regulations are, available to those who are most interested, because, Mr. Speaker, I just got off the phone and I had a caller phone in and ask me that question?



MR. DOWNE: I would be happy to take the question and I appreciate the interjection in regard to the noise. It is fairly noisy in here trying to answer the question. I am going through the list. These are not in any kind of order here, but if I may, obviously in regard to getting the message out on how they are done, we do provide a booklet on trapping and the regulations and enforcements and issues in regard to hunting and trapping. They will be published.



We have a working relationship not only with the Trappers Association of Nova Scotia, we communicate through that vehicle and will communicate in other mechanisms once this is passed in regard to an information piece for the appropriate individuals that will be required.



Now, I think where the other issue is, you are getting ahead of the point. The other point that was made by the member opposite in regard to what do we do about areas that are close to residential. As it is now, under the present conditions, you are not allowed to trap within 200 yards of a home. You are not allowed to trap on agricultural land. You are not allowed to trap in areas of Christmas tree plantations where people are working. So, I mean, that is already there. We are not changing anything in that regard.



This is just really strengthening areas for individuals that have land, like yourself, and you want to make sure that if your pet is with you and you are walking that pet or you are in control of that pet, you want to make sure that there is not a coyote snare there that could take away your pet. If you feel uncomfortable in the fact that that area could be trapped, then you have the right to put the signage up and there will be the distance and the size and the type of signage that will last in the weather conditions. You will have the right to be able to do that and control your property, the same individuals that will phone you, no I don't want you to trap on my land and this is the area of my land, or if you want them to trap, here is the area I want you to trap, you can do it in the northwest part of the area. I would suggest that individuals that are private landowners and trappers, whatever agreements are established that they do it in writing so there is no question in regard to what the understandings are. That is really what we are talking about here, the agricultural lands and things of that nature, you are already not allowed to do those types of activities on those particular areas.



As I indicated earlier, the information flow will be through information in our own booklets where we describe the laws and regulations that we have and those obviously are available and any other type of communication that we would require, we would, obviously, indicate to the different organizations that would be affected what the change to those guidelines would be in regard to the acceptance of Bill No. 24.



The other point I was making as I was asked a question was in regard to making the point of why the amount of the fee, why the fee being $2,000 to $3,000. Well, number one, it is a housekeeping. We are bringing it up to the levels that we have in other areas. It has not changed. On the other hand, at the same time, we have had people talk about the fact that dogs or pets have created tremendous problems for the wildlife in the forests of Nova Scotia. We have all seen those horror stories.



So what we are saying is that the penalty has to be large enough to be a deterrent, a deterrent for individual owners of pets to say, look after your pet. You have a responsibility with a pet. As individuals that have pets, and many in this room have their own pets, they know they have a responsibility to make sure that they manage and control where those pets are travelling and they should be properly trained or under control, otherwise you are not really looking after the pet in the right way.



A concern, obviously, has to be that if they are just able to run free, that is where we have these packs of dogs going out and killing wildlife and doing a tremendous amount of damage, torturing wildlife to death, literally, in their pursuit and it is somewhat natural for dogs when they get into that situation to get into a pack and to start really getting a taste of blood. It is hard, from what I understand from our staff, once they get the taste of that blood and the killing of an animal, it is hard to get him out of that situation. So, obviously, it is the responsibility of the owner of the pet to be responsible to make sure that they control the environment for which the pet is there. Those levels of fines or deterrents, Mr. Speaker, are sizeable enough that people should take notice of what they are.



Mr. Speaker, I think I have covered most of the questions. They were excellent questions, but I think basically they were generally in those particular areas. I believe there was one question about English hunting. As I would interpret it, obviously if dogs must be accompanied by an individual, if they are running at large that is when you get in trouble. But if they are under the control of the owners, then that is fine. But the issue really is when they are running at large and free to travel wherever they want. As long as they are under control of the owner then, in our view, that is fine.



It is really going back to the issue of if my pet was allowed to roam and go where they want to go and they end up killing or destroying wildlife, that should not happen. That is what this bill is trying to alleviate.



The other side of the issue is very simply, if you have land and you do not want trapping to take place, you have the right to close it and that way anybody that goes ahead and traps needs the permission to make it happen.



Mr. Speaker, I appreciate very much the support that we have had from the members here today in regard to the questions and the comments on the bill. With that, I will close and complete the moving of second reading.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 24. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 25.



Bill No. 25 - Government Records Act.



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



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand and move this bill forward. Bill No. 25 was introduced for first reading in the last session and is a bill to replace the Public Records Disposal Act and the Public Records Act which are somewhat outdated in their content, objectives and capacity to fulfil the current needs of the important matter of retention of accuracy of records of a wide variety of technologies now used in records formulation.



The purpose of the bill, Mr. Speaker, first will be to reduce costs of retention of records which when done in hard copy, as all members know, is an extremely costly process. It will streamline the procedure for the development and approval, retention and the disposal of records. It will further modernize the definition of the term records to cover the whole concept of electronic records which are now being formulated and retained with new technology. It will make records management legislation consistent with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act so that information required under that Act and available under that Act will be far more readily obtainable with greater degrees of accuracy, fulfilling the content, the requirement and the principle of that Act.



So the essential principle underlying this new bill, Mr. Speaker, is to expand the scope to cover all public bodies, not just departments of government, to assign responsibilities for the whole Act to the Minister of Supply and Services and to establish a coordinated review process chaired by the Provincial Archivist so that the previous requirement to take all documents of this type - or standards for the retention of records - to Cabinet for Cabinet approval and the costly exercise of going through that will be dispensed with by standardizing the process for all departments.



Along that line, just before I proceed, Mr. Speaker, I might take just a moment to congratulate the staff of the Department of Supply and Services who authorized probably the most comprehensive, up-to-date standards document for the retention and the standards of acceptance of document retention and disposition. Further, the new bill is intended to preserve the whole principle of availability of documents for law purposes under subpoena where necessary as was the case under the former Acts and to preserve the principles of independent review and ministerial approval for public records as a whole.



I could go on at some length with further elaboration on the purposes but I will try to be succinct and say that the purpose of the bill is to streamline the whole process of record management, to clarify the rules and the responsibilities of all those involved in that process. It provides for a coordinated and independent review of record schedules and reduces the number of Orders in Council required for record schedule establishments.





[5:45 p.m.]



There will be established, Mr. Speaker, a committee that will act on behalf of the Minister of Supply and Services, who will be responsible for the Act. The committee will consist of the Provincial Archivist, who will chair the committee, the Deputy Minister of Justice or his designate, the Deputy Minister of Finance or his designate, the Auditor General or his designate, the Deputy Minister of Supply and Services or his designate, and two other persons who may be appointed by Executive Council. So the whole process of record generation, record retention, schedules of record retention, retention formats, whether they be hard copy, electronic copy or any new formatting of records, such as computer electronic retention, will now be put before a broad scope committee, rather than being sent before Cabinet for approval in each individual case.



Mr. Speaker, what this bill will do when it finally passes through the House, will be to modernize and bring up-to-date the whole complex process of ensuring security, completeness and retention of all those documents that move through government and all pseudo-government organizations, to make them readily available for purposes of law, for purposes of freedom of information and will avoid the whole problems that we saw recently, related to the Westray incident, in acquiring such documentation.



Mr. Speaker, I think it is only a 16 clause bill. It is not extremely complex and retains all the fundamental principles that were previously incorporated in the other two Acts but enhances all of those principles, improves the processes to ensure that those principles are fulfilled.



With that, Mr. Speaker, I am open to the discussion of members from the floor.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources with an introduction.



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the members of the House, it is my pleasure to introduce in the Speaker's Gallery a young Nova Scotian who, in fact, was one of the individuals who lost her pet to a coyote snare, a young individual by whom I was extremely impressed upon the meetings that we had with the different organizations, an individual who spoke about the incident with a great deal of credibility, was very articulate and at the same time, obviously, with the emotion of losing a very close friend, her pet. It is my pleasure to introduce Melissa Cox in the Speaker's Gallery. I ask the members of this House to please give her a warm welcome here as this legislation is so important to her.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: It was very nice to listen to the honourable Minister of Supply and Services tell us about this bill and tell us why he is bringing it forward. One of the things we didn't hear is exactly what was wrong with the old Act. Now, he said he is modernizing. This is a new, modern one, sort of like Tide, I guess. This is the new, improved Act. What I would like to know is, truly, what was wrong before.



I can tell you what was wrong before, according to this government, Mr. Speaker, very plainly. What was wrong with the old Act was that all the procedure and the protocol had to go to Cabinet. This government, you know, hates to take anything to Cabinet. They want to have it in one designated minister's office so that the minister can have the responsibility and it will not be shared with his Cabinet colleagues.



Now he talks about the committee they are setting up, Mr. Speaker, and it is an impressive committee. If you and I think that this committee of the Provincial Archivist, the Deputy Minister of Finance, the Auditor General, the Deputy Auditor General, the Deputy Minister of Supply and Services, and a couple of other people named, if you think those people are going to be sitting around saying, hum, is this the record that should go, or is this one? Should we shred this one or should we save this one? You know, if they are looking at a speech that the honourable minister made in Province House, they will say, we will save this one for posterity, but something less important than that, they may just be able to shred.



So, that is the committee and what a high-priced group of people on that committee; all very capable of doing a good job at deciding which record will and which record will not, but the ultimate authority as in all legislation brought forth by this government rests with the minister. The minister is of ultimate importance with this government and with this crowd, Mr. Speaker, and that is a little bit unfortunate. The municipal units, school boards, everybody else they could find, are all included. The minister didn't indicate whether the school boards, the municipal units, had been asked. Did they want the service of the government deciding what should and what should not? Is the government protocol suitable to the municipal units?



One of the interesting things, too, is that this bill, he said, is taking us forward and we are going to include electronic records. Well, there was a very interesting article the other day about electronic records storage and there is a company actually, a gentleman set up a company to go around and buy old used computers. There are lots of them around and he is buying these computers that people have removed all the information from and they are just like brand new. There is nothing in them, all the secrets have been taken out. Well, what this fellow found pretty quickly after he bought his first one and plugged it in and cranked it up, all the secrets aren't gone. He is buying these computers and he is getting all sorts of useful and interesting information. He is now making a very comfortable living selling what he is removing from computers that the person who thought there was nothing on the computer, it is still there. The records that people thought when they disposed of the computer had been removed, were not removed at all and this computer whiz is doing very nicely, thank you, selling the secrets that he is gleaning from these old computers.



It is great, Mr. Speaker, to talk about modernizing and moving into the next century but clearly the minister did not say exactly, other than the fact that he wanted to include electronic record-keeping, he did not indicate really what was wrong with the old protocol where there was a designated person within each department that kept track of the records. From there they went to Cabinet with a recommendation to do this and do that, either destroy or retain these records and along it went. There were people that were trained in filing and record-keeping. Perhaps we are going to be requiring on the job description for the Auditor General that he be a trained file worker. The Deputy Minister of Finance, one of his new duties is record-keeping.



Mr. Speaker, what truly was wrong with this old bill except the fact that this government wants everything to be within the hands of an all powerful minister, so that this government can continue down the road, as the Premier said one day, of verticality. The Premier said this government was suffering from verticality and I believe that it is even worse now than it was when he took over a little while ago.



So, Mr. Speaker, the principle remains the same as the previous legislation and that is to vest the records of the public bodies to have authorization to retain or dispose of them. It is the process that has been changed. There are always positives and negatives with any legislation but what was the absolute driving force that told this minister we needed this new bill? The Governor in Council is not in charge anymore, it is one minister, and he is going to be making the decisions. It has been the theme through all legislation, all the actions of this government. One minister gets an idea and the rest of the sheep follow along at a walk or a gallop, depending upon the theme or the hurriedness.



But this is not government by the people, Mr. Speaker, nor is it for the people. This is government for the benefit of the individual ministers. And when they have a majority as large as theirs, they use it to the full extent. This is not what the people in this province are expecting nor is it what they wanted.



Well, Mr. Speaker, with those few words, and it is late in the day, I will take my place and the Government House Leader or another speaker perhaps, if they want to speak for about three minutes, but I will take my place and somebody else will continue.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party. Perhaps he might move adjournment of the debate.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Well thank you. Mr. Speaker, I wasn't necessarily going to be a long time in my remarks. I will see if I can finish, I won't promise.



Mr. Speaker, I look at the bill and I have had some assessment being done of it and I am not going to just turn around and take opportunities to fire some shots at the minister and the government for this particular piece of legislation because quite honestly, I think it is important that we upgrade and we get modern with what we are doing and the manners in which we are maintaining our records.



The previous speaker talked about how that can be a very serious problem. For example a used computer where people think they have erased the information from that computer and then the computer passes on, as many government computers would be passed on to the surplus and then passed on and possibly distributed to schools. Certainly, Mr. Speaker, government has a responsibility to ensure that those records are properly kept and protected. You can eliminate that possibility very simply by formatting the hard drive so that nothing can be recovered.



I think it is important that everybody who is working in government know that any of the documents created by the government are the property of the government and therefore, those who are involved with those documents have a responsibility to maintain and take very good care of those documents. Certainly there should not be any need to maintain every bit of paper, every bit of electronic information that comes into the government possession for all eternity.



I believe as a first review, and I would welcome comments that are going to be made at the Law Amendments Committee, that I think this bill is a step forward, that it does provide some increased accountability and protection. On that basis, Mr. Speaker, I will indicate, as the time is rolling down and I have another 50 or 40 seconds left. I will beat the record, I will be relatively brief and indicate to the minister and the government that on second reading I will be supporting this bill to go on to the law amendments process.



As I sit down, Mr. Speaker, I say to the minister as an aside that I look forward to seeing the final tendering policy that the government is going to adopt.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, in view of the hour, I move adjournment of debate on Bill No. 25.



MR. SPEAKER: Very well, I will put the motion for adjournment. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried. The debate is adjourned.



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As all members know, by all-Party agreement, the House will not sit tomorrow. It will sit again Monday evening from 7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. At that time the government business will be Public Bills for Second Reading. We will begin on Monday with the piece of legislation introduced today by the Minister of Municipal Affairs. That bill does not have a number yet but I would assume it will be on the order paper and on Monday we will begin debate on that.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: I am thunderstruck that we are going to undertake that bill on Monday because we really have no opportunity, except over the weekend, to do any research on it. I was wondering if the minister would consider continuing with the present three bills still remaining on the order paper for second reading and running through those first?



[6:00 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: Well, the time is expired. We have reached the moment of interruption.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, without any idea really on how long those three bills would be lasting, that would not really be our intent to do that now, so I think we will be planning on proceeding with the municipal bill on Monday.



I move that we adjourn until Monday evening at 7:00 p.m.



MR. SPEAKER: The moment of interruption having been reached, the House now stands adjourned until the designated time on Monday. The submission for the late debate today was won by the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic. He wishes to defer to the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party, who wishes to discuss the topic:



Therefore be it resolved that the Government of Nova Scotia shall not deal with Wackenhut as a potential private prison operator.



ADJOURNMENT



MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)



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



JUSTICE: WACKENHUT CORRECTIONS CORP. - PROHIBIT



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the thunderous applause from my lone colleague in the House and I am pleased to see that I have some support.



The issue that I wanted to bring forward and the issue that I have submitted for debate this evening has to do with the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation and this government's continued decision to be involved with that corporation and to even be involved in any discussions with it.



This afternoon during Question Period as you, I am sure, will remember and all of those who are anxiously listening to every word that I am saying will know, I raised this question with the minister in the House. I listened the minister's reply and even accepted his reprimands, as undeserved as I felt they may happen to be, the minister has the right to reprimand me for raising issues if he wants about a corporation which this government says they yet have had an opportunity to investigate.



The Government of Nova Scotia is hell-bent on privatizing anything and every service that they possibly can. We see with the correctional services that they are following the same route that was followed by the Department of Transportation with the Highway No. 104 twinning project. We see that the government has gone out and called for proposals from consultants who would be involved in looking at the privatization of this service and selecting an operator and somebody to construct these prisons.



The response was thunderous, two firms replied to be the consultants and the government is continuing to deal with two corporations that have expressed an interest to build and operate those correctional services. One of them is Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, a company that in the Province of New Brunswick, a province that this government likes to hold up as an example, a government that this government tries to emulate and copy, a government that has said that they will not permit that company to operate correctional facilities in the Province of New Brunswick. They didn't make that decision lightly. Of course they were being hammered over the head, the Premier was being hammered on an almost daily basis by opponents of his proposal and primarily by Elizabeth Weir the Leader of the New Democratic Party in New Brunswick.



During that process, a lot of information has come out about this company, a company which is intending to make a private profit by running the jails here in Nova Scotia. Yes indeed, you can reduce costs if you want to do some of the kinds of things that this company has done. If you want to reduce the security, if you want to reduce the wages of the employees and the number of persons that are being hired and used as security officers in these correctional facilities, yes you can reduce costs. You can reduce the costs so that those cost savings can go out of the province to the American company shareholders.



Let's take a look at some of the kinds of things that Wackenhut has been accused of. They are currently under investigation in the State of Texas on the basis of allegations that they diverted $700,000 of public funds away from the drug rehabilitation program and into their own coffers. As a result of that, in July of this year, the State of Texas suspended funding to suspect programs like those of Wackenhut's.



This is a company, Mr. Speaker, that has been shown to have very poor screening processes for those whom they hire, including having hired persons who have convictions for cocaine to act as security guards.



In the State of Texas, in the State of Florida, in England, in Australia where this company operates private prisons, they have been accused of many breaches and have been blamed for riots that have occurred and riots that have actually resulted in the loss of lives in some of those areas.



The minister can say that it is wrong for me to be accusing and blaming this company here on the floor and that the government has got to do its own investigation first. I ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, through you, why, at a time here in Nova Scotia when we are told that we have no money, should we be spending big bucks to hire consultants, to hire accountants to do the audits, possibly have to go to court, when there is no need to do so in the first place, which is paraphrasing the minister's own words.



Mr. Speaker, Frank McKenna in New Brunswick cancelled the audit, cancelled those investigations because there was no need to waste public money because the information was known and they were able to make the decision based on the information that was already available that they did not want that company in New Brunswick.



Of course, Mr. Speaker, one of the things that had attracted New Brunswick to Wackenhut in the first place was that Wackenhut was going to use New Brunswick as their entry point into Canada and their centre of operation. So they could see from there it spreading out like a spider's web into other parts of the country.



One has to wonder if those same arguments are being used here in Nova Scotia. Why else would we have prison officials going to visit their jail facilities, Mr. Speaker? What kind of confidence does this government have in its own employees? In the Department of Justice, there are very capable and skilled, well trained staff. Why do we have to be hiring outside consultants to be investigating this? There is absolutely no reason to believe, unless the services in those facilities are to be reduced, the safety for both employees and the inmates and the communities be reduced, there is absolutely no reason under the sun to believe that the private sector can bring those new facilities that are going to be needed onstream at a lower cost. There is absolutely no reason under the sun to believe it.



The only advantage to the government would be that the debt for those new facilities would appear on somebody else's books, rather than on the ledgers for the Province of Nova Scotia, which would make it look a little bit better as they run into an election. But the costs are still there and the costs for operating that, plus a profit, are still going to have to be borne by Nova Scotians and, Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, Nova Scotians may also be buying unnecessary risks, unnecessary and unacceptable reduced standards of security and so on, Mr. Speaker.



I see that you are indicating I have one minute left.



MR. SPEAKER: I think, yes.



MR. HOLM: Certainly there is a lot more that I could say and I have a lot of documents that I would like to have referred to on this topic.



MR. SPEAKER: There will be further opportunities I am sure.



MR. HOLM: There will be further opportunities.



Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the minister will be meeting with representatives of the correctional officers in this province. Surely to Heavens the minister can agree to work together with them and other officials within his department to provide a public spirited and a public sector solution here in Nova Scotia to be able to provide the improved correctional facilities that are needed. You don't have to go to an American company south of the border with an extremely questionable record at best in order to ensure that we can provide improved correctional services in the Province of Nova Scotia. People in this province do not expect private profits to be made from those who are running the correctional facilities in our province and I hope that the minister will have some success in persuading his colleagues as to the logic . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I do regret to advise the honourable member his time has expired.



The honourable Minister of Justice.



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I just want to say that we have a straw person presentation by the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party. He is talking as if we are doing business with Wackenhut and we are not. Just so he knows that for the facts. False premise. He is beating up on this corporation. I am not here to defend Wackenhut. They can defend themselves if they want to be defended. That's not my place. We are looking at the possibility of some private sector operation in corrections. We have it in nursing homes. There is nothing alien there. It works with proper supervision. There is nothing inherently wrong with it but we are very early on. I just want to give some facts and maybe that is the best thing all of us might have in this whole debate.



I might say, since the member talked about New Brunswick and the decisions there, as it stands as recently as a few days ago, the Premier is on record as saying that Wackenhut is going to build their young offenders centre in New Brunswick.



MR. HOLM: Operate.



MR. GILLIS: I didn't say operate. You heard what I said, I said build it, so to imply that they are not going to deal with Wackenhut is not true. They are going to have them build it, according to the Premier. I didn't say anything about operating but in any event, I am not here to defend Wackenhut. I want to make it very clear that the government has not made any final decision whether or not to involve the private sector in corrections. That may or may not happen. Having said the foregoing, I think it might be worthwhile examining some facts and keep in mind it is premature to say whether or not we will be doing business with Wackenhut or anybody else, but to imply that we are doing business with Wackenhut is not telling the truth and I am sure the honourable member wouldn't want to do that.



Mr. Speaker, we have nine adult offender institutions in Nova Scotia, one going back to 1862. They cost $18 million to run. The average per diem is $114 per inmate. In fact, at one of the institutions, the cost of the inmate was almost $200 a day. That is incredible. $200 per inmate per day. Over the four years of the Government By Design program, the correctional services budget must be reduced, just as Health must be reduced, just as Education is being reduced and other departments are being reduced and the Department of Justice, in general, by 12.5 per cent. That amounts to $1 million to $2 million.



Mr. Speaker, we don't have a choice. We must meet our current expenditure reduction targets. Our shrinking resources force us to face the fact that we simply cannot sustain the present system in its present form. Although we are facing fiscal restraint, we are determined to improve our adult correctional facilities. I have visited all nine adult correctional centres in the province and I have seen the need for improvement on a firsthand basis. Obviously it is a major challenge to reduce operating expenditures and at the same time provide new and/or improved capital facilities, but we must do that, given the facilities we have.



[6:15 p.m.]



Meetings have been held. The honourable Leader of the Opposition mentioned this, urging meetings. Meetings have been held between representatives of the Correction Officers Union and the Department of Justice to discuss ways in which we could reduce costs. Additional meetings will be held to discuss improved practices relating to not just labour but management and operating procedures and, as the member mentioned, I am meeting with Local 480 tomorrow.



At the same time as we search for reductions, we feel obligated to examine what the private sector might offer. The options with regard to the private sector are as follows, and I simply list them. There are three: to operate the facilities only, to build and operate or to build only. There are many options. These options apply to one or more correctional centres or to all. So we could have a combination of a number of the facilities and they could build and operate or build only.



Mr. Speaker, we are looking to the private sector to help us find the most appropriate and cost-effective plan to reconfigure these adult institutions. The first step will be to select a consultant to act as an advisor. This is no wicked ogre, this is simply an advisor so that we have our eyes wide open as we look at the possibility of privatization. We will select a consultant to help us as we go through the cooperative business solutions process. We have called for tenders and we plan to announce the name of the successful bidder in the near future. It is not the Wackenhut Corporation. They have not bid so it will not be them, just so the honourable member (Interruption) Well anyway, so you will know.



Through a cooperative business solutions process our goal is to upgrade and improve the system, however we end up doing it. Our objectives in the process are to provide safe, secure correctional facilities, a health, work place for staff - I am sure all would agree - enough accommodations in the appropriate security level, style and location and appropriate core programs for inmates. We want to do this and, at the same time, meet our fiscal targets.



In order to accomplish this, we have several strategies in mind. We must establish institutions that are cost-effective to operate. We must define the levels of service and program focus for each institutions. Programs that will reduce recidivism, repeat offenders, are required.



We have worked and we will continue to work with Local 480 of the Correction Officers Union in order to determine whether our configuration and service delivery plan can be operated within the fiscal targets. Maybe they can be, I don't rule that out. I would be more than happy if we could revamp our present operations, retool in terms of management and practices and labour and meet it. We know we will need institutions in a number of locations, although we probably need less than the number we have now. We have some that are very small, one that goes back to 1862.



One thing I want to make crystal clear, and this is one reason it is good to have a resolution on the floor: the notion that we are considering one large central facility must be dispelled now. This is not what we have in mind. We hear words like super-jail. It is not in the cards. It is not going to happen while I am minister. We are going to look at a proper operation of our correctional facilities. This is another one of those bogey-persons, straw persons that are put up so they can be beaten up.



In spelling out these goals, I want to make it perfectly clear that we have not decided to privatize the operation of our institutions. In addition, I want to say that we have not decided on the best mechanism for service delivery in these institutions. We are wide open to ideas. Correctional Services, with the help of a consultant, will publish an advertisement announcing a CBS call for proposals. The CBS process will identify a company or consortium, an organization that can work with us to determine, give us suggestions of the most appropriate and fiscally responsible configuration and service delivery plan. We will look at that and we will compare it to our public sector operation and see where we come out. Mr. Speaker, Local 480 and senior corrections officers must continue to work together. Our discussions must be ongoing as we explore the extent to which operating costs can be reduced in order to meet fiscal objectives.



The union management meetings held to date have been quite productive. We have already identified several areas for further discussion. There are three or four suggestions that have been brought forward by the union, including the examination of current practices regarding sick leave, review of current overtime practices, the practices relating to part-time staff, the number of staff per shift, planned institution maintenance, menus and food costs, remand inmate practices and review of existing revenue sources. All of these things have been brought up and they are good suggestions and ones we take very seriously, Mr. Speaker.



I am sure the continuing dialogue will be of assistance, but before I close, and I am glad the Speaker has flipped up his finger to remind me, I want to remind you that for myself and this is very important, I would prefer to stay with the public sector operation of correctional facilities. That should be no great surprise to members of this House hearing me talk before. But, as Minister of Justice, Mr. Speaker, I have an obligation to the citizens of Nova Scotia to examine all the options.



In any event, I want to say, before I take my place, precipitous decisions will not be made. They are not my style. Every ramification will be considered before any major changes occur. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to make a few observations in the late show debate here this evening on the resolution which reads:



"Therefore be it resolved that the Government of Nova Scotia shall not deal with Wackenhut as a potential private prison operator.".



I hear and did hear, clearly, what the Minister of Justice just now said. But I did not hear him say that he and his government will not do what the resolution urges them not to do. I did not hear him say that he would not deal with Wackenhut as a potential, private prison operator. He and my colleague, the Leader of the New Democratic Party, both made reference to discussions and public analysis of debate in the Province of New Brunswick in regard to their prisons and lock-ups and jails in that province.



Solicitor General Jane Barry in New Brunswick took a tour to inspect privately operated jails in the United States and I am satisfied that if the Minister of Justice called the Honourable Jane Barry, that she would probably say or have said to this minister that she was pretty confident that she knew Wackenhut could ensure and would ensure proper standards if they were to run the youth institution that was being discussed and considered in New Brunswick. In fact, my colleague, again, says that she did say that.



Well, that did not happen in the Province of New Brunswick and it did not happen by reason of the fact that Premier McKenna, just a couple of weeks ago, Mr. Speaker, released a statement saying that he will still go ahead with his public and private sector partnership and as the Minister of Justice pointed out, he did say that Wackenhut would be the designer and builder of the facility. But I think it is important for us to understand that Premier McKenna, whom I suggest and maybe I am wrong, has, to this point, had the opportunity to subject Wackenhut and their operation to greater scrutiny than perhaps has our present Minister of Justice here in the Province of Nova Scotia.



I do not want to do a disservice to the minister here. He may well have had an opportunity to make very deep and close and careful analysis, but his talk about getting consultants and so on makes me think that he is still in the stage where he is awaiting word from consultants. But Premier McKenna and his Solicitor General made the inquiries and they said that Wackenhut might have a role as designer and builder, but Wackenhut would not be the operator of the facility. I recall the Premier of New Brunswick using an expression to this effect, that he and his government were going to come up with a "New Brunswick based solution" for the operating function of their facility.



Well, I repeat, it goes back against that backdrop, against what Premier McKenna has learned and has said to the people of his province and what, with respect, the Minister of Justice has not said here in this debate or anywhere else in the Province of Nova Scotia, that the sum and substance of the resolution we debate calls upon this government not to deal with Wackenhut as a potential, private prison operator. Unfortunately, and I mean it sincerely, I did not hear the Minister of Justice here today in this place, Mr. Speaker, say that he and his government would not turn to Wackenhut to handle the operational side of a new facility here in the Province of Nova Scotia.



This minister is aware and it has been outlined by my colleague from the New Democratic Party - and I am not here to perpetrate a corporation character assassination of Wackenhut, but all of the evidence that I have been able to amass and we have considerable paperwork that relates to these issues - that there are some very serious difficulties with that company. I am disappointed that this minister has not been able or prepared here today to indicate that he, too, is aware of the concerns which have been shared with so many others and that there would not be a deal with that corporation. This minister notes and he said here this afternoon and I quote him, there is no deal to this point with Wackenhut. Well, that does not, frankly, warm the cockles of my heart because that clearly leaves it open to the interpretation that the minister is prepared to contemplate a deal with that organization on a future date.



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker, the record will show when the tapes come out that I said that we have had no dealings with them. Not that there was no deal to this point; we have had no dealings, period, with Wackenhut. Those are the facts, so on a point of privilege, I rise on that.



MR. DONAHOE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My understanding is - and correct me if I am wrong again and I would give up my place to the minister if he would be prepared to answer a question - that officials of his department and other officials in the government have in fact been engaged in dialogue with Wackenhut and if I am wrong, I am wrong. Perhaps the minister could clarify that?



MR. GILLIS: I can't say whether or not some officials of my department might have talked to them, but we have no formal dealings with them at all; we are not negotiating anything with them, but that is splitting hairs to say that just because some of my officials might have talked to them or Corrections Corporation of America or anybody else. I am not saying that hasn't happened but we are not in any deal, we are not having any negotiations or anything like that. So that is just to clarify the matter.



MR. SPEAKER: All right. A dispute between honourable members as to facts does not constitute a point of privilege.



MR. DONAHOE: I wasn't attempting to engage in dispute, I was asking a question and I appreciate the answer from the minister because my information was that discussions were going on and he confirms it, or at least the potential that discussions are going on at the staff level. I hear what he says, that he, as minister with the ultimate responsibility in connection with this issue, is not himself personally -nor is, I presume, his deputy - engaged in formal negotiation, discussion or dialogue with Wackenhut.



Our office has made contact with the office of this minister in connection with these issues and I am delighted that we have a chance to have this matter on the floor today because it affords me the opportunity to ask if this minister, who is pretty good to give me undertakings and to honour them - our office made contact with this minister's office and we have yet to hear back from that office just whether one of two companies who did submit proposals earlier had been chosen - I wonder if the minister can tell me whether he will give me an undertaking that he will return to his office through tomorrow, or at his earliest convenience, and dig out correspondence from my office to his, asking for some information about those from whom proposals have been received and share with me the information so that I am aware just with whom the department is in fact dealing?



I have some information and an indication from various sources that there might be as many as eight different organizations with whom his department is, indeed, in discussion about the possibility of either construction of correctional facilities and/or operation of same. I wonder if the minister might be kind enough, since my office tells me we have had no confirmation back, to give me an undertaking?



[6:30 p.m.]



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of what the request was. I try, as the former minister has indicated, to reply to my mail and give answers, as he knows. I am not aware of this particular request, but it may be the simplest thing if he, maybe tomorrow or Monday, the first of the week, would give me a copy of the correspondence. If it is my own, I will certainly get on the ball and get an answer. But if it is to my officials, I will check with them and endeavour to get an answer back to you, provided we are within the scope of the Freedom of Information Act and we are not giving out any information we can't. But certainly I will do my best to cooperate.



MR. SPEAKER: We have gone past the time for adjournment. So, the House will now rise and meet again on Monday, and these discussions can continue on a future day.



The House is adjourned.



[The House rose at 6:31 p.m.]