Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

















HALIFAX, MONDAY, DECEMBER 18, 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 will call the House to order at this time.



The honourable Minister of Supply and Services.



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, this afternoon I rise on a point of privilege. On December 13th, I delivered a ministerial statement on a major initiative of this government, a public/private program of maximizing services to the public at minimum cost. This energy conservation program by our government, similar to all of our initiatives, is not speculative, cannot lose taxpayers' dollars and should have been undertaken by the past government. It is high technology provided by a Nova Scotian company located in Bedford, thus simultaneously giving development and job growth to our local economy.



Mr. Speaker, in response to my statement of December 13th, the honourable member for Kings North responded - in my absence from the House due to pressing ministerial duties - as recorded on Page 4457 of Hansard on December 14th, as follows:



"Now, Mr. Speaker, on reading this, no person could say, gee, this is a great announcement, until you ask yourself the simple question, was it tendered? Of course, the answer to that is, no, of course not. The next question is, was there a call for proposals? Of course, the answer to that is, no, of course not.



So, this arrangement, although at first blush and in first reading and in presentation by the minister, looks as though it's a very good deal for the province, how do we know, as members of this Legislature, how does Cabinet know? There is nothing to compare it with because the Minister of Supply and Services did not call for proposals; he did not call for tenders; he simply made a call on the phone and said, you people are doing it in Halifax; I'm familiar with the way that you operate in the city because I used to be on council and you are a competent company. How about coming down and taking over a couple of buildings for us?



4503

Now, Mr. Speaker, this is not the way the government ran the campaign. They campaigned on openness and disclosure, but this is just another one of the many examples we have been seeing over the last two years of not tendering, no proposals, something done under the cover of darkness, in the minister's office.".



Mr. Speaker, all of this statement by the honourable member is totally false, idle political rhetoric and publicly irresponsible. Mr. Speaker, on the public record, had the member bothered to look, is recorded the following:



"A Public Request for Proposals for energy management services at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and the Public Archives of Nova Scotia was sent out through our Public Tenders Office on behalf of the Department of Natural Resources in June, 1994. There were nine responses to the call.



Staff of the Department of Supply and Services and the Department of Natural Resources formed a technical evaluation team and entered into detailed discussions on the technicalities of the proposals. Responses were short listed from nine to three. At that point, detailed proposals were requested from the short list. An evaluation of the three proposals was made by the same technical team and the final selection was made in favour of Landis and Gyr Powers Ltd.".



Mr. Speaker, I know my good friend, the honourable member, did not speak with malice, but rather with uncontrolled political emotion.



Mr. Speaker, as per Beauchesne, Page 29, Paragraph 114(2), I move that this House direct the honourable member for Kings North to formally withdraw his ministerial response of December 14th as being totally erroneous. I so move, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: We have a motion on the floor. I would request some procedural advice from the Clerk.



The Clerk has advised me that before a motion of this type is put to the House, the duty of the Speaker is to rule on whether or not there is a prima facie breach of privilege involved.



I have reflected on the provisions of Beauchesne concerning adverse reflections on members. It appears that there is precedent for motions of this type on occasion having been carried in the House of Commons, although not frequently. It might be possible to dispense of the matter if the honourable member for Kings North could withdraw his statement.



Is that possible?



The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: No, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, this is a serious matter. I think it might be best to take the matter under advisement in consultation with the two Clerks as to determine the appropriate course of action and render a decision at a subsequent time. It would help me if the honourable Minister of Supply and Services could make available to me the text of his remarks and of the motion.



We will now move forward to the daily routine.



PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Private and Local Bills, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:



Bill No. 51 - Truro Street Widths Act.



and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.



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



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS



GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION



INTRODUCTION OF BILLS



NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 871



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



Whereas unless a private operator can be secured very quickly, 793 jobs will be lost in Nova Scotia as a result of Marine Atlantic's decision to eliminate winter ferry service between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor, Maine; and



Whereas the economic impact assessment undertaken by ATi Consulting shows that a combination of approaches could be undertaken and leave all stakeholders better off than they would be with the cancellation of the winter service; and



Whereas the decision undertaken by Marine Atlantic, and clearly supported by the federal Minister of Transport, was done with great haste and with no regard for the impact the closure will have upon hundreds of families;



Therefore be it resolved that the Premier pull out all the stops this week in an attempt to have the federal Minister of Transport order Marine Atlantic to keep the winter ferry service between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor operating until alternative cost-saving methods can be found and implemented.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 872



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



Whereas the Education Minister announced the shutdown of five community college campuses before anyone figured out how students, now enrolled, could complete their education or how vital and unique programs would continue past the shutdown date; and



Whereas yesterday's demonstration in Sydney was another reminder that hundreds of students, instructors and businesses have been left in the dark and deeply angered by this mismanagement; and



Whereas the Liberals, who have incited this anger and frustration, are publicly bemoaning the fact that their legislation doesn't get a free ride;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges Liberal MLAs who would like a long holiday to consider whether this government is managing its responsibilities outside of this House any better than they are doing inside.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.



RESOLUTION NO. 873



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



Whereas the year 1996 has been declared International Year for the Eradication of Poverty by the United Nations; and



Whereas although poverty exists in all countries, its impact is most severe and widespread in the developing countries and on the vulnerable groups of society; and



Whereas the eradication of poverty and the full achievement of social, economic and environmental objectives and strategies are interrelated goals;



Therefore be it resolved that this House supports the United Nations in their quest to eradicate poverty throughout the world, while at the same time encouraging and supporting the eradication of poverty in Nova Scotia.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Kings North.



[2:15 p.m.]



RESOLUTION NO. 874



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



Whereas while the Premier plugged in Christmas trees in Washington and New York, the federal Minister of Transport pulled the plug on the MV Bluenose; and



Whereas upon his return, the Premier offered only a weak commitment to phone the Minister of Transport about the ferry service; and



Whereas this weak-kneed Liberal response is typical of the provincial government dealing with Ottawa;



Therefore be it resolved that the Premier abandon his role as the federal government's chief cheerleader and finally start fighting for the interests of Nova Scotians.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Cape Breton West.



RESOLUTION NO. 875



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 Sydney Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College continues to fulfil a vital role in the life of industrial Cape Breton and is essential to the future progress of the area; and



Whereas currently, 400 students are enrolled at the campus full time while some 600 other applicants had to be turned away due to a lack of program space, demonstrating the need for the Sydney Campus seats; and



Whereas the move of the Liberal Government to close down the community college is in direct contradiction to their election promises to further develop community college programming and to revitalize the community college system;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education rescind his decision to close the Sydney Campus and concentrate his efforts, instead, on making the college an even stronger contributor to the growth and prosperity of Cape Breton.



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



MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 876



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



Whereas Canada Post and Nova Scotia's Emergency Measures Organization are insisting that residents living in Highland Park, Halifax County, must have the name of the place where they reside changed to Yankeetown effective January 14th; and



Whereas residents in the area absolutely despise the name Yankeetown and fear their property values will drop because of the name change; and



Whereas despite what a spokesperson for Nova Scotia's Emergency Measures Organization said last week about the name not being pulled from a hat, residents of the area believe otherwise because the name Yankeetown has not been used for over 100 years;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister responsible for Nova Scotia's Emergency Measures Act ensure Santa Claus does not become confused and leave gifts for children in the rightful place of Highland Park, Halifax County instead of some place such as outside of Yankee Stadium in New York City on Christmas Eve.



MR. SPEAKER: I don't know about that. It seems to be very disrespectful of our neighbours to the south. I will take it under advisement.



[Resolution No. 876 was later tabled with Paragraph 2 deleted.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 877



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



Whereas Liberal Leaders have declared that they would rather sit here long into January than enact their signed agreements to prevent the Labour Relations Board from dictating collective agreements; and



Whereas Liberal MLAs are being treated like cannon fodder by a Cabinet determined to also push through tax breaks for high income earners and confiscation of businesses; and



Whereas not even a mouse will be stirred by this stubbornness into believing this government's legislation is well-considered and finely crafted;





Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to take a leaf from the Labour Minister's book and adjourn to permit public consideration and consultation during the next few months on once in a lifetime bills like the Education Act and other controversial, far-reaching laws.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Hants West.



RESOLUTION NO. 878



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



Whereas when campaigning for the hearts, minds and votes of Nova Scotians in the 1993 provincial election, the Savage Liberals said, "To honour the responsibility government has to the people, it must open its activities to scrutiny by the public and the opposition"; and



Whereas Government House Leader, Richie Mann, who recently said, "a lot of what's said here is nonsense," is said to be considering more unilateral rule changes to prevent the kind of scrutiny the Savage Liberals once maintained was a true measure of government; and



Whereas it is clear from the ill-conceived, poorly drafted legislation brought before this House that the Savage Liberals are simply looking to put an end to yet another embarrassing session that simply added to the public's contempt and distrust for a government that is in total disarray;



Therefore be it resolved that the Government House Leader and his Liberal colleagues remember the lofty ideals it espoused during the 1993 election campaign and that they abandon any plans to unilaterally impose new rule changes which are cynically designed to limit opportunities for public and Opposition scrutiny.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 879



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



Whereas thousands of Nova Scotians are without jobs and without hope for future work; and



Whereas this month thousands have appealed for assistance at food banks, churches and other charitable organizations; and



Whereas in this season of giving those that can make whatever contribution they can afford to help those in need;





Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize that while the practice of giving is common during the Christmas season, the needs will continue long after as government cutbacks, reductions and layoffs continue to exact a heavy toll on too many Nova Scotians.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 880



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



Whereas on December 1st, the Premier and Education Minister said that they could not respond fully to the latest UI cuts until their officials were briefed that afternoon; and



Whereas 17 days later this Liberal Government is still ruminating on its official position about more punishing UI cuts, while Nova Scotia's jobs picture still hasn't reached pre-recession levels; and



Whereas Nova Scotians' daily experience, including the fact that 20,000 have already been cut off UI, is more convincing than 100 Liberal claims of jobs and prosperity for all;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to follow the lead of the many Nova Scotians who are fighting for a national commitment to jobs instead of yet more Axworthy cuts to UI and to training.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Cape Breton West.



RESOLUTION NO. 881



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



Whereas during the 1993 election campaign in their policy paper on accountability and accessibility in government the Liberals said, "to honour the responsibility government has to the people, it must open its activities to scrutiny by the public and the opposition"; and



Whereas the policy stated, "Nova Scotians cannot afford to have important public issues lost in a welter of concentrated government activity, punctuated by long periods without real, public accountability"; and



Whereas like so many of the other empty Liberal election promises, the Government House Leader has thrown this policy paper out the window and will invoke his own rules whenever and wherever he sees fit;



Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government practice what they preached throughout the 1993 election campaign and show accountability to the people of Nova Scotia.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 882



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



Whereas our esteemed Government House Leader in an interview with the Canadian Press described legislative debate as "nonsense"; and



Whereas legislative history shows the Liberal Opposition Leader debated in Committee of the Whole House on Bills for 15 hours non-stop from 1:45 p.m. on April 2, 1969 to the early morning hours of the following day; and



Whereas the Liberal caucus of which our Government House Leader was a member, filibustered the privatization of the Nova Scotia Power Corporation in this Assembly for three and one-half weeks in 1992;



Therefore be it resolved the Government House Leader understand that he cannot speak from both sides of his mouth and that he must inform Nova Scotians whether he believes in a dictatorial style of government where the input of citizens means nothing or is he in favour of a fully informed electorate that understand their elected representatives are accountable to them and not the Government House Leader.



MR. SPEAKER: I am going to take a look at that one also.



Now, the first one that the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley moved contains, in my view, intemperate language, "Whereas residents in the area absolutely despise the name Yankteetown . . .". That type of language is not suitable for this House.



I would invite the honourable member to reword the resolution, tone it down a bit, make his point without using provocative or inflammatory language.



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I would ask, because on a couple of different occasions you have ruled that I have used intemperate language. I would ask you very respectfully to look up the full meaning of the word, "intemperate".



MR. SPEAKER: Beauchesne, Paragraph 491, states, "The Speaker has consistently ruled that language used in the House should be temperate and worthy of the place in which it is spoken.". If that is not clear to the honourable member, I don't know what is.



MR. BRUCE HOLLAND: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order. Maybe perhaps just to clarify this for the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, there was no question that Canada Post had decided to use some information that was developed between the county and EMO in relation to (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: I didn't rule that there wasn't any point of order. I didn't hear the honourable member, he was cut off in mid-sentence.



The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect. (Interruptions)



MR. BRUCE HOLLAND: I did.



MR. SPEAKER: Speak to me. Tell me your point. Never mind them, tell me your point.



MR. HOLLAND: In any event, Mr. Speaker, the issue is being dealt with by the local county councillor, Mr. Buck Giffin, and the Department of the Environment and Canada Post has agreed that they would change the name. (Interruptions)



I find this very intemperate as well, Mr. Speaker, because there is an area known as Yankeetown Road and it is very much a vibrant community and I think they would take great offense to this (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: All right. I have invited the honourable member who sponsored the resolution to reword the offensive section, otherwise the motion can be tabled with those words struck out.



Now as for the second one, I want to read it. I have not had a chance to read it, so I am going to rule on that at a later time. (Interruptions)



The honourable member for Hants East.



RESOLUTION NO. 883



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



Whereas recent reports say that the cowboy-booted honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is looking west to flirt with the Reform Party; and



Whereas the honourable member corresponds with Preston Manning, Leader of the Reform Party, whose recent headlines in Canadian newspapers state Manning "is loosing it", and "The man has gone bonkers"; and



Whereas in Nova Scotia, the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservatives is urging everyone to do their part to promote Canadian unity;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House encourage the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley in his current flirtation with Preston Manning and the Reformers while keeping in mind that the honourable member has previously flirted with the Liberals and is currently in a relationship with the Progressive Conservatives. (Applause)



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, did you rule that resolution admissible?



MR. SPEAKER: I have said nothing. I am awaiting your response to it.



MR. TAYLOR: Oh, well, thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: If you object to it, with sufficient vigour, I will . . .



MR. TAYLOR: I will give my response when you give yours. (Laughter)



MR. SPEAKER: I will deliberate on the matter. I will take both resolutions under advisement, the last two, and consider them in due course.



Now, are there any further notices of motion? If not, we will advance to the Orders of the Day.



The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to move that the business of the House be set aside for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgent public importance under the provisions of Rule 43(1) of the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly. I refer to the federal government's decision to eliminate the winter service of the Marine Vessel Bluenose.



The service is being shut down as of December 29th; 793 Nova Scotians will be placed on the unemployment lines. Federal Transport Minister, the Honourable Doug Young, asked for an economic impact assessment but then decided he did not have to read it before allowing the winter closure of the MV Bluenose service. Alternatives exist to reducing the expenditures incurred by operating the winter ferry service without suspending operations.



The Premier of Nova Scotia said in this Legislature last week that he would confer with Mr. Young and then report back to this House on his conversation with the minister. Mr. Speaker, that did not happen. I therefore move for an emergency debate on this extremely important subject at the time of adjournment today.



MR. SPEAKER: Now, in considering this matter, we are all bound by the Rules of the House. The Rules begin at Page 36 and carry over to Page 38. The sections that impact on the Speaker are paragraph 43(4) and paragraph 43(6). Paragraph 43(4) states, "Mr. Speaker shall decide, without any debate, whether or not the matter is proper to be discussed and, in considering whether the matter is proper to be discussed, Mr. Speaker may have regard to whether adequate notice has been given pursuant to paragraph (2).".



Also, in paragraph 43(6) on Page 38, it states that, "In stating whether or not he is satisfied that the matter is proper to be discussed, Mr. Speaker is not bound to give reasons for his decision.".



Paragraph (2) of this rule requires, as I read it, ". . . at least two hours prior to the opening of a sitting, . . .", a matter is to be raised under this heading.



I agree that it doesn't state that the matter has to be identified, but the request has to be filed at least two hours before the House sits, that is prior to 12:00 noon today. That not having been done, I would be of the view that this matter is not possible to go forward at this time.



The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



DR. JOHN HAMM: I think all members of the House realize how important an issue this is, particularly for those who live in southwestern Nova Scotia. I would point out to the Speaker that there is precedence that emergency debate can be held in the House if, in fact, it receives unanimous consent. Through you, Mr. Speaker, I would request the unanimous consent of the House that this emergency debate go forward.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, the House may do that; I don't object to the matter being decided by the House. I would point out to all honourable members that if this request were to be granted, it would mean that at 10:00 p.m. tonight we would meet to discuss this matter and that there would be a discussion of up to two hours without any vote being taken at the end, and that that is what the granting of the request would lead to.



The honourable Minister of Finance.



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, on the point raised by the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition, I am sure that there are many members, indeed all of our caucus, interested in seeing a discussion proceed, but particularly those members of our caucus who are from that area of the province. With that in mind, I am sure we would have no objection to giving the unanimous consent required to have that debate occur this evening. I would only ask that, perhaps in the future, the Leader of the Opposition could abide by the notice provisions in the rules.



MR. SPEAKER: Is there unanimous agreement of the House?



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



I hear no Nays, therefore the matter is carried by the unanimous decision of the House and we will assemble at 10:00 p.m. this evening to debate that matter.



Are there any other matters that honourable members wish to bring before me before we move forward to Orders of the Day?



Oh, yes, I have these two notices of motion here. I think we will let them both pass and table them. They are expressions of opinion; they certainly are not the expression of the highest level of decorum I have ever seen, but as expressions of opinion they are tabled.



ORDERS OF THE DAY



GOVERNMENT BUSINESS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.



[2:33 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Acting Deputy Speaker Mr. Robert Carruthers in the Chair.]



[9:55 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Acting Deputy Speaker Mr. Robert Carruthers in the Chair.]



MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Bills reports:



THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered the following bill:





Bill No. 39 - Education Act.



and the chairman has been instructed to recommend this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.



MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read for a third time on a future day.



The honourable Government House Leader.



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



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



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



Bill No. 59 - Medical Act.



Bill No. 53 - Marketable Titles Act.



Bill No. 55 - Community Colleges Act.



Bill No. 57 - Medical Society Act.



and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



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



Bill No. 65 - Workers' Compensation Act.



and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.





HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, that concludes Government Business for today. I can advise members of the House that the House will sit tomorrow from the hours of 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. Following the daily routine, Government Business will be Committee of the Whole House on Bills.



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



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



The motion is carried.



Now on the adjournment of the House, an emergency debate, under the provisions of Rule 43 has been scheduled to be held. The motion that the debate take place was moved by the honourable Leader of the Opposition, so he will be the first speaker in this debate. I might say that in general, this will be somewhat like a late, late show, in that there will not be any requirement for a quorum, there will not be any vote at the conclusion of the debate. There will be a time limit on the debate and that is that it will run until 12:00 midnight, at which time it will cease. Speakers will have 15 minutes to speak, or less, as they choose, but the maximum time allocation per member is 15 minutes. Now I am prepared to see that each political Party represented in the House gets at least one 15 minute chunk of time. They may, however, wish to divide that in two or three, as the Party sees fit but I will recognize the Official Opposition and then the government and then the NDP, in that order, followed by other members. So we will lead off with the honourable Opposition Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. In Beauchesne, Paragraph 462, it indicates, "In any Parliament there is also a general understanding based on party membership in the House, of the expected order of speakers from the various parties.". In Beauchesne, also Paragraph 462, it indicates that lists will be made available by each Party to the Speaker.



Earlier tonight, Mr. Speaker, I proposed a speaking order based on what I believe to be a fair representation of the make up of the House of Assembly and I have circulated that to all members, including the Speaker, and I would ask the Speaker to indicate whether or not that will be the procedure followed.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, in general terms, it is up to the Speaker. The Speaker is the final authority of the order of speaking in the House and exercises independent judgment. I will, however, in general, reflect the provisions of Paragraph 462 of Beauchesne which has been correctly quoted by the Government House Leader.

The honourable member for Hants West. How many speakers do we have, two?



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Well, I was going to speak to the point of order raised by the Government House Leader.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, if you wish, but this will cut into the time for the debate.



MR. RUSSELL: In that case, Mr. Speaker, I guess I will relinquish the floor but simply put, the Government House Leader is completely incorrect.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, I can assure you that the Speaker is not completely incorrect and that members will be recognized as the Speaker sees fit.



ADJOURNMENT



MOTION UNDER RULE 43



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



TRANSPORT. - YARMOUTH-BAR HARBOR FERRY:

WINTER SERVICE - RETAIN



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and address this very serious problem, a problem that up until this point has been ignored by this government. (Interruptions)



It is the purpose of this debate to bring to the attention of the government members the chronology of events which have led us to this point here this evening and to encourage the government members, the Premier and the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency to become active participants in these attempts by industry and business in southwestern Nova Scotia to retain their winter ferry service.



Now, the winter ferry service began in 1956 and has continued with only minor interruptions for refits in the winter months and has been an important link with our province, and particularly southwestern Nova Scotia, with the very important markets in the northeastern United States. All of us in this place are extremely aware of how fragile our economy is here in Nova Scotia and how important it is for us to maintain transportation links, by road, by air and by water.



I cannot fail but to remember on this particular occasion when I was in Question Period on an earlier occasion and made mention of the importance of water transportation to the province and brought it to the Premier's attention that there was a parallel in road transportation. I asked the Premier, is there was any difference between water transportation and road transportation? The Premier answered, well, he said, one is on land and the other is over the water. Well, that frivolity of response by the government is one of the reasons why the initiative by the federal Minister of Transport has gone unchallenged by this provincial government in any meaningful way.



Southwestern Nova Scotia has had a number of hard knocks. They have lost their railway. They have lost their tin mine.



They have lost their cotton mill and there is a threat that they are going in the coming spring their Air Nova link with the rest of the province and with New England. (Interruption)



It is interesting, this is a serious matter and I am not suggesting for one minute that the government opposite was in power when they lost the cotton mill and they lost the tin mine but this government (Interruptions), this government is in power when they are about to lose the winter ferry service. The smiles on the government members certainly will not amuse those in southwestern Nova Scotia who are concerned about losing this vital ferry link to the New England States.



It is a $5 million federal subsidy for a $16 million cost. But what are the effects that this will have on our economy? Is it money well spent? Well, there have been discussions going on since the spring that have alerted this government to the fact that there was consideration going on in Ottawa to cut out this service. In the late summer, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency set aside $15,000 for an economic study to absolutely determine, would there be a serious effect to the economy of Nova Scotia, to the economy of Canada and, in particular, to the economy of southwestern Nova Scotia, if, in fact, we lost the winter ferry service from October 15th until May 15th. (Interruption) Well, the Minister of Transportation is suddenly becoming very interested in this subject. He has been particularly silent up until this point. (Interruptions)



[10:00 p.m.]



On September 7th, I was in Yarmouth and that was the day that the federal Minister of Transport announced that he was (Interruption) . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I want to intervene here for a minute. We are all working overtime. I don't have to stay here. The Speaker has the right to adjourn the House at any time without motion if there is disorder in the House. Now I would ask honourable members to please observe some order and decorum. Thank you.



DR. HAMM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I agree with you. This is very serious and we should have order in the House. On September 7th, I was in Yarmouth when the announcement was made by the federal Minister of Transport that despite the fact that only a few days earlier the study had begun to assess the economic impact of the loss of winter service. But despite that, this government was alerted to the fact that the federal Minister of Transport had a closed mind on this issue and wasn't interested in the facts. (Interruptions) The government was alerted. (Interruptions) There was a meeting and 100 businesses were represented in Yarmouth to discuss what to do and who would represent the province and who was going to take on the federal Minister of Transport and his closed mind on this issue.



At that time, as early as September 15th, the Premier of the province was being urged to be an active participant in the debate with the federal government. That urging went unnoticed by the Premier. But what are the effects? What is going to happen? There aren't a lot of tourists coming over between October 15th and May 15th but there is passenger traffic. But most of the traffic, as we are all aware, is freight, wood products.



Now I had an opportunity to visit a major mill in Meteghan. I asked them, what will be the effect if you lose the Bluenose service? Well the effect would be - in shipping wood products - this was the answer, we are operating on a very low margin but our industry in our part of the province employs a lot of people, both in our mill and in the woods operation. But it is low margin. If you increase our costs of shipping to the United States, it may well result in the margin of profit disappears and that whole bit of our industry will disappear.



The other thing is, Christmas trees are shipped. You don't ship Christmas trees before October 15th. (Interruption) Well, the Minister of Transportation says, I am kidding. I can assure the Minister of Transportation I am not kidding. Fish, what is going to happen with shipments of fish? It is estimated that the mortality of the lobsters with the longer trip around, will increase. It is estimated that the price paid for swordfish with the longer shipping time will decrease some 25 cents to 50 cents a pound. Whitefish, with one delay in reaching the market, will actually result in a fall of price of some 20 cents per pound. Now you add all this up and you have a loss of revenue to the fishing industry of this province of $6.5 million. That is the impact. That is what the study tells us.



Thirteen hundred and twenty Nova Scotians will lose jobs or have a serious loss of income if this winter service is discontinued. We are going to have a loss in our economy of $21 million of revenue. The three levels of government will lose almost $11 million in income, tax revenue, because of the negative effect on the economy with the loss of the winter service.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much would it cost them to run the winter service?



DR. HAMM: The winter service would cost $5 million and we are going to lose $10.1 million in government revenue. That sounds like a pretty poor deal to me and it is time that our provincial government became involved in the debate.



Now we had a reprieve and the reprieve seemed to take us to the end of the year, but just this once. On December 1st the final draft of the economic input study, paid for by the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, $15,000, was finally sent up to Ottawa. That impact study proved conclusively that there was a positive cost-benefit to keeping the service open, a positive cost-benefit to the people of Nova Scotia and to the people of Canada.



I was driving down here on Friday morning, ten days ago, and I heard over the CBC that the federal Minister of Transportation said, I don't like the study, I think it is exaggerated, but I haven't read it. I couldn't believe my ears. So we will all recall that the Premier was away on provincial business and he didn't hear that announcement, but he assured me in the House that he would be briefed.



I remember, in September, the response of the Premier was that it is up to the communities to prove that there will be an economic benefit to the service. I recall, too, that the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency in September was quoted as saying - and he was very strong - I am inclined to think that I should be actively involved in keeping the service open. I am inclined to think I should be actively involved in keeping the service open (Interruption) The Minister of Transportation obviously doesn't read Hansard and maybe he should spend a few minutes reading Hansard to find out if we have been concerned. . . (Interruption) Well, it was six days ago when I asked the Premier, now that we have a study that obviously indicates there is a positive economic benefit and we have a federal Minister of Transportation that must be challenged on this - saying that despite the fact that he hadn't read the study, he didn't like it - I urged the Premier to become actively involved in a public way and the Premier said, I am going to meet privately with the federal Minister of Transportation and I am going to solve this problem. He seemed to be indicating (Interruptions) The Premier . . .



MR. SPEAKER: If any honourable member has objections to what is being stated they can rise on a point of order. I am not trying to invite that but that is the proper way to do it (Interruption)



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier said six days ago that he would meet behind closed doors with the Minister of Transportation and report back to the House. To this point, there has been no reporting back and I am not aware if the meeting behind closed doors or in private has, in fact, occurred. Despite whatever it is the provincial government is doing, very quickly the federal Minister of Transportation closed the door and said that the winter ferry service is over.



This government has rolled over on this issue. This government has not represented the people of southwestern Nova Scotia. This government has chosen rather to allow its loyalty to the federal government to get in the way of responding to the requests of Nova Scotians to represent them . . .



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. It is incredible on one hand how the honourable member can rise and say he has no idea whether meetings have taken place or what has happened and then state emphatically that someone has rolled over; it is incredible, indeed.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has made his point; it may not be a point of order.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the federal government has a national transportation responsibility that the Minister of Transportation is fully aware of and that is to maintain a road system in this country which enables us to be participants in the Canadian federacy. As well, under the Constitution Act, the federal government has a responsibility to look after ferry service, ferry service between provinces and between this country and our American neighbours to the south. They are not fulfilling that national transportation responsibility as they let this service deteriorate.



I call upon the Premier and I call upon the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency to become active participants in this serious problem and the actions of the federal Minister of Transportation must be challenged by the Premier and our Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. I call upon them to do this, to become active participants in this debate and to do, as has been recommended earlier.



It was the intention of those in southwestern Nova Scotia, when the study was made available, to go to Ottawa, hopefully accompanied by the Premier and perhaps the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency and to debate face to face with the federal Minister of Transport, the merits, the merits to Nova Scotia of keeping this ferry service open.



I challenge the Premier and our Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency to take up the challenge and to go to Ottawa to convince the federal government that it is absolutely necessary that this winter service continue and to seriously look at the study. If our Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency has the same concerns about the validity of the study for which he will pay, as the federal minister has, then go back to ATi Consulting and review the figures they have come up with, absolutely determine the validity of keeping that service in place during the winter months of October 15th to May 15th. I will now take my place and allow another speaker to participate in this debate.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier. (Applause)



HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight to reply to the charges and the accusations labelled by the Leader of the Opposition on the other side. I want to, first of all, congratulate him. I mean that seriously because it is obvious that now he has discovered that part of Nova Scotia called Yarmouth and that kind of geographical improvement can only lead to greater things.



I also want to respond to some of the issues raised before, about the question of who speaks for Nova Scotia. Well, there is only one real answer, as this province well knows, Mr. Speaker, that I speak for Nova Scotia and so does the Liberal Party. (Applause)



I also want to mention those MLAs from Yarmouth, from Argyle, from Digby, from Clare, who have also spoken in the last while for Nova Scotia. I would like to submit, Mr. Speaker, a chronology of events which include some 35 events which have taken place, concerned with the issue of the MV Bluenose, since July 7th, since the Leader of the Opposition seems to have misunderstood and spoken about ignored and rolled over. This is ample evidence in chronology alone, that we have played a significant role in attempting to (Interruption) Yes, well maybe you might give one of those to the Leader of the Opposition as well.



AN HON. MEMBER: They may have missed a few of those.



THE PREMIER: Let me say first of all, Mr. Speaker, that this is not a joking matter. I join with the Leader of the Opposition in treating this issue very seriously. This past September, when the federal government announced it was taking the ferry out of service, there was a great deal of shock and confusion. Now there had been warning signs, as we all know, that they were going to cut the service, but we had been assured that there would be nothing done until an economic impact study, financed by this government, had been completed. I regret to tell you that that is not what happened. Marine Atlantic did not wait for the study to be completed. It arbitrarily announced it was pulling the plug, study or no study. (Interruption)



[10:15 p.m.]



I was not very happy about that. You are quite right; I wasn't very happy about it. But I didn't lie there and whine and complain and moan, as we have heard from the Opposition. No. What did I do? I went straight to Ottawa. (Applause) I met with the federal Minister of Transport, the Honourable Doug Young. I want to say, quite frankly, that it wasn't the most pleasant of meetings, at least not for Mr. Young. I told Mr. Young that it was unacceptable to shut down the ferry service before the full economic impact of such a move was discovered. As a result of my meeting with the minister - and I think the Minister of Transportation was there with me - it was agreed that Marine Atlantic would be instructed to keep open the service until at least the end of December. It was thought the impact study might be completed at that time.



So, Mr. Speaker, the first intervention at least delayed and kept the ferry going until the end of December. (Applause) Mr. Young was true to his word, and I give him credit for that. He gave us some time and, as a result of our intervention, the ferry was kept operating for the three months longer than had been initially indicated by the minister.



Now, of course, we have reached another very important juncture. Marine Atlantic has announced it will shut the Bluenose down at the end of the month and, to say the least, this government is disappointed with that federal decision. We are disappointed because the decision ignores the results of the economic impact study that was prepared for the South West Nova Development Commission. Now, we have had this study looked at by our own experts and outsiders and they found the study to be first-rate.



The study indicates - and it is quite important that the House understands this - that at least until alternate transportation arrangements can be found, our continuing subsidies are justified. Without getting into a lot of figures here tonight, it is clear from the report that while the federal government may save subsidy dollars, killing the ferry service will cause losses in employment income and serious cost increases to the fishing and lumber industries in that part of the province. What, in effect, Mr. Speaker, is happening, is that the federal government is shifting its Transport Canada problem onto the backs of several other economic and social agencies, both federal and provincial.



However, I do want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I was true to my word; I met today with the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Doug Young. (Applause) It was, as the Leader on the other side asks, behind closed doors. We had quite a frank and, occasionally, painful discussion. I told him I wasn't happy with the way the federal government responded to the economic impact study. They didn't take the study seriously and they argued with its conclusions.



Mr. Young was courteous and attentive. He made it very clear that the federal government still intends to eliminate the subsidies to Marine Atlantic, and I would suspect that we can take him at his word. But, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Young did agree to look at a long-term solution to transportation problems between Yarmouth and New England. He agreed to look at all options, including a public/private partnership solution.



As to the short-term, this government is attempting to find a solution to the special transportation problems facing the resource industries in southwest Nova Scotia. I can tell the House that we are, at this very moment, holding discussions with several private operators who may be willing to put a service in place in the near future. (Applause)



It is true that it is not always easy to be of the same governmental stripe as the one in Ottawa. Now we know that and, alas and alack, so do the Tories. You will remember, Mr. Speaker, that in 1986, it was a previous provincial Tory Party that was unable to ward off major cuts to the federal fishery programs with a Tory Government in Ottawa. A year later the same ineffectual government was unable to convince federal Tory colleagues to protect rail service in this province. Let me also mention such things as lighthouses and Shelburne and you will understand the dilemma which I am sure those of experience on the opposite side are very familiar with. Those on the opposite side will remember the difficulties and they know, too, that these are the kinds of difficulties that all Parties face.



All this, Mr. Speaker, is history. Fortunately, it is history that is gone and, thanks be to God, may never be repeated but it does point out the need to be constructive in the way you criticize others. All ranting and raving and hyperbole that echoes from the Leader of the Opposition on the other side is . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Hyperbole.



THE PREMIER: It is a long word, you may not understand it. It is nothing more than that, Mr. Speaker, it is hyperbole and it echoes around these vaults from wall to wall. It means nothing because they have not got one constructive note on which they have spoken tonight and they won't either.



Mr. Speaker, let me just conclude by saying that this government does speak for this province and we will continue to do so. There are problems that will always happen in terms of railways, in terms of all those areas where federal decisions will impact on the province. I would have thought, perhaps, that some of those on the other side might have been a little sensitive on this issue of talking government to government but it is obvious that the impact has not sunk in on the recently elected Leader, despite the good advice that he gets from all of his colleagues.



Mr. Speaker, I don't trivialize this issue. It is important for us, it is important for the people of southwest Nova Scotia. The hint that I gave you as to what we are doing is indeed, hopefully, the kind of issue that may or may not surface in the next few weeks. I cannot tell you any more on that at this point in time, but as that chronology shows, this government has not been dilatory, this government has not ignored the people of southwest Nova Scotia. This government has done what it had to do and what it will continue to do to represent a very important segment of our Nova Scotia population and we will continue to do that because they are important to us, very important to us, and the industries and the tourism and all the other parts that are affected by this are important to us too.



I want to stress to the people of southwest Nova Scotia that we will continue to fight, we will continue in the face of some of the difficulties that the federal government chooses with its own budget cutting to decide on, we will continue to fight. We believe that with this kind of representation we do have the government that will lead this province into the 21st Century and beyond because we care about the people of southwest Nova Scotia we care about the people of this province and we will continue to govern in a way that gives the people of this province satisfaction, honesty and the right way to go. (Applause)



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am going to try, in any event, to resist taking cheap shots. I am going to try to resist firing accusations, one side to the other: you said, he said, they said, whatever, who did what. The key issue that we all must bear in mind is that we have a very serious problem in southwest Nova Scotia and it does not matter who did what when in the past. What matters right now is that we find a resolve that is going to solve the problems that are facing those communities and all of those who depend upon the Bluenose ferry and this very vital, important transportation link.



I found myself, as I was listening to the mover of the debate this evening, in agreement with much that has been said. I also found myself with some disagreement. I found the same as well, I might add, when I was listening to the Premier.



When we talk about who did what when, one of the things that we should look at optimistically and look at as a model is that this isn't the first time that there has been a threat to shut down the winter service for the Bluenose ferry. Such a threat was made in 1985, Mr. Speaker, as I am sure you will remember. As a result of the efforts of many, not just members of the governing Party but members of the community at large and so on, there was a resolve and the ferry was not shut down. Although we can't have any votes here tonight and we can't make any final decisions, I sincerely hope that the colour of a person's political Party is not going to interfere with all three Parties in this House being willing and able to send a very strong message to the federal government that we are going to stand up for the people and for the businesses in southwest Nova Scotia and that we are not going to accept the decision that has been made to shut down the ferry.



Mr. Speaker, I, too, was extremely, to put it mildly, angry when I listened to the federal Transport Minister talking about the study that was done. I am pleased that the provincial government did agree to fund that study and that they did, in fact, get a reprieve and that it wasn't shut down at the date that was originally announced. I am delighted that the Premier said that an analysis has been done and in that analysis that the study, according to this government, was in fact an accurate and a good study and a valid study.



The federal Transport Minister, Mr. Young, quite honestly, was, I believe, insulting this province and not only this province but the South West Nova Development Commission and all people in that area when he dismissed out of hand, accused the report of exaggerating, of making all kinds of assertions that weren't valid when the minister had not yet even had a chance to review that study or had an opportunity to review an analysis of that study that was done.



So, Mr. Speaker, one can't help but conclude that the Premier is absolutely correct here in this regard and that is that the federal government is trying to offload those costs, the subsidies, by shifting them off to other agencies, including the province. That, as a Nova Scotia politician, whether I come from that area or not, is not acceptable.



We are talking about national unity in this country. National unity means trying to struggle to develop strong economic units in all parts of this country. We cannot allow the federal government, without a battle, Mr. Speaker, to compromise and to assault the basic principles of unity by simply offloading and casting aside the important issues and concerns in southwest Nova Scotia.



Back, Mr. Speaker, in 1984, a letter was written to the Deputy Minister of the Policy Board, Province of Nova Scotia to one Mr. Carmen Moir, from Mr. Hamm, who was the then Deputy Minister of Transportation. At that time, back in November 1984, Mr. Hamm pointed out how much more it would cost for a truck to go by road, this is excluding the time, this is just the actual costs for the trucking, over 11 years ago the increased costs for that truck would be approximately $1,400. Now that doesn't include the costs of the lost value of the product, whether that be the increased mortality rate for the lobsters, the lost value in fish stock prices.



[10:30 p.m.]



Mr. Speaker, we are talking about a major cost here in terms of the economic impact. We are in a country where our Prime Minister prides himself, and the Premier has had the advantage of going with him sometimes to do some globetrotting around the world, trying to drum up business for Canada, whether that be in China, whether it be in the other parts of the Far East, whether it be in Europe. Here we have in Nova Scotia a policy of the federal government, through Marine Atlantic, to save not $5 million because they are still going to have maintenance costs and so on - some of the figures I have heard are as low as $1.5 million that they will actually save - at the cost of potentially hundreds of jobs in the Province of Nova Scotia.



The Prime Minister can go to China, and he has another trip planned in January, to try to drum up business for Canada; yet his government is compromising jobs here in Nova Scotia. I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, maybe to the Premier - and I am not saying this, I am not trying to throw bricks or stones at the Premier, this is not a political issue - but I would hope that the Premier will go directly to the Prime Minister. Maybe the Premier would try to get, although the Premier has said that he and the Liberal Party speak for Nova Scotia, but all 51 members of this House are Nova Scotian elected representatives. I would like to see that the Premier could go armed, as he is speaking to the Prime Minister of Canada, with a resolution adopted by all 51 members of this House, demanding that the federal government live up to its responsibilities.





Surely, Mr. Speaker, we have to draw the Prime Minister, if the Prime Minister can go to China, can go to the Far East, can go to Europe to try to drum up some contracts, surely to Heavens even this gentleman can see the logic involved of trying to assist to ensure that those jobs here in the Province of Nova Scotia, that communities depend on, will survive. At the same time this is the same government that is talking about cutting back on UI and penalizing those who are the repeat offenders, I guess is the term that they would use. You know, Mr. Speaker, here we have Marine Atlantic going to a system where they are going to be laying workers off every year, so that those, too, will become persons who will end up being penalized through this system.



Mr. Speaker, whether we are talking about the forest industry through pulp products, whether we are talking about the Christmas tree industry, whether we are talking about transporting fish or lobster, surely to Heavens the federal government which puts hundreds of millions of dollars into subsidizing the St. Lawrence Seaway and all kinds of other things, surely to Heavens - well, I know they are talking about cutting that out, the Premier points at me and says, not any more - well I know that, but you know, Mr. Speaker, I somehow suspect the federal government will find a few million dollars some way to channel into that in any event.



I haven't stood up this evening with the intent of trying to, as I say, do any bashing and I hope that I am not being accused or can't be accused of taking any cheap shots at any members on either side. I am just hoping, and I say to the Premier that we have had, and all three Party Leaders have met, for example, on the issue of the Constitution. Maybe there is an area here that the Premier would like to consider for Party Leaders to get together because something like this, surely to Heavens we can get beyond differences of political stripes. I just don't believe for one second that anybody, if we are trying to play political games with this vitally important issue, I don't think that anybody in southwest Nova Scotia is going to be impressed by that and I certainly don't think that the people in that area are going to be duped by anybody trying to make any political hay out of this.



What they are looking for and what I would say to the Premier is that they don't necessarily expect that matters can always be resolved in their favour, people genuinely expect that the best effort is made, the best effort that possibly can be made. If that means maybe an all-Party committee going to Ottawa, if it may mean beating up on the Prime Minister and his federal colleagues in Ottawa, if that will achieve it, it will be appreciated. We have to remember that we are elected first and foremost to serve the people in the province. If any one part of Nova Scotia hurts, if any one part of the body of Nova Scotia suffers, then the entire body suffers, the entire person hurts. If southwest Nova Scotia is harmed by this decision it does not only hurt the businesses and the people in that area, it hurts all of Nova Scotia.



If we are going to lose, whether it is $10 million, $15 million or $20 million in lost revenue, that is going to hurt us all. If we are going to have numbers of persons, whether they be the 80 who work on the boat, plus the 200 who work in support staff, plus all of the others in the industry that ship the products, if more people are put out of work, all of Nova Scotia suffers. Therefore, it is vitally important that we, as a unified voice, hopefully going directly to the Prime Minister through the Premier, we have to have a resolve that is reflective of the agreement that was reached in 1985, and that was one where instead of shutting down the winter service as had originally been announced, that ferry service was kept going. We can't be prepared to accept anything less. Thank you.





MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.



MR. RICHARD HUBBARD: Mr. Speaker, I have been listening here to the Opposition debate and I would remind them again of the chronology of events that the Premier has already listed. The government's efforts started back on July 7th when the Honourable Richard Mann and Honourable Robert Harrison met with Rod Morrison of Marine Atlantic to stress the effects of winter cessation of service, July 7th. Where were the Opposition people?



On August 8th, Rod Morrison and his staff met with southwest Nova politicians and exporters committee. Pledged that corporation would get back in 10 days to announce if they would proceed with closure plans. Where was the Opposition?



On September 1st, the province continued its work towards that problem when they pledged $15,000 towards the economic impact study. On September 14th, a mass meeting in Yarmouth, some 150 people . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Where were the Tories and where were the NDP?



MR. HUBBARD: Where were the Tories and where was the New Democratic Party?



On September 26th, Minister Harrison meets with southwest Nova for general discussion and update. Where were the Opposition?



On October 7th, the report is presented at a meeting in Yarmouth. Where were the Opposition members?



As has already been said, the Premier met as late as today with the federal minister, Honourable Doug Young, from July right into December.



Mr. Speaker, it is a grave disappointment that this issue should reach the point where the members of this House have to debate it in an emergency setting. It should not have reached this point. I think the people of southwestern Nova Scotia deserve a great deal of credit for the patience they have observed in this matter. They have been responsible. They have made it clear through careful study that the loss of winter ferry service between Yarmouth and New England will be devastating for the economy of southwestern Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, in recent years, federal governments have pretty well removed Yarmouth's transportation infrastructure. This has put us at a disadvantage economically because of our geographical location. We have seen our rail service completely disappear. Following the termination of that service, we received another shock when they announced they would not maintain the Yarmouth International Airport. Not only will we lose some very important jobs, but we perhaps will lose the opportunity for business people to travel to and from the southwestern end of the province. Now comes the cruncher to the dismantling of our transportation infrastructure, the cutting out of our winter ferry service from Yarmouth to Bar Harbor, Maine.



We now do not have the available aircraft space to ship out our fish products, products which are the livelihood and economical backbone of our southwestern end of the province. We do not have the availability of twinned highways at our end of the province. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what effect this decision will have on our trucks at that end of the province. This decision is going to mean more trucks travelling to Digby during the winter season on highways that in some cases are crowded and, at the same time, travelling all the way to the Boston market in some times very severe conditions, adding hours to their time. Add to that the wear and tear on our provincial roads, as well as the potential for more accidents.



Mr. Speaker, I want to tell this Assembly, I mentioned in two replies to the Throne Speech of the importance of keeping that service intact. I urged the federal government on both of those occasions to plan for a new ferry as the MV Bluenose was rapidly reaching the point where annual repairs would no longer make it a viable operation. I wrote letters to the minister, telling him how crucial it was that we maintain that service. I didn't do that just for Yarmouth County, I did that for the whole southwestern end of the province. I wanted the federal minister to understand just how important that service is to us at that end of the province.



I have already spoken about the importance of the fishery, but, Mr. Speaker, I know that we also stand to lose a new market for pulpwood in Maine, a market that has just begun to develop. Although Christmas tree shippers from Lunenburg were not using this service as much as in the past, perhaps if Marine Atlantic had contacted those shippers and said, hey, folks, we want your business. Can we talk about a deal? Michelin Tire Company in Bridgewater who lost their freight subsidy for tires could also have been offered a deal.



I attended a public meeting in Yarmouth on this issue back in September, a meeting of interested persons, but mostly of the various industry users of that vessel. Marine Atlantic officials were also at that meeting. The question was asked by one of the users, "Have any of you people in this audience ever been visited by Marine Atlantic personnel to talk to you about their service and how they might improve it?". Not one user had been visited, Mr. Speaker. Can you believe that a company the size of Marine Atlantic would treat its customers that way? I am told that Marine Atlantic spends $2.5 million on administration in Moncton. I wonder how hard they looked at that.



[10:45 p.m.]



Mr. Speaker, the federal government has not tried. They have failed to offer alternatives and I call upon them tonight to reverse their decision. Winter ferry service must be restored. Leaving the MV Bluenose tied up for the better part of the year will only cost Marine Atlantic and the federal government money. Eventually they may use this as an excuse to cut out the Bluenose entirely. I will not stand for it, nor will the people of Yarmouth.

I am not asking Marine Atlantic to lose money. I am just asking them to try a little harder. Have all private sector alternatives been explored? The urgency shown by Marine Atlantic and the federal government to divest themselves of the ferry would indicate otherwise. Again, have all alternatives been explored?



Now I understand the fiscal situation the federal government finds itself in. Reducing the deficit, however, requires that money be spent smarter. Cutting and slashing without weighing all the alternatives is wrong-headed. The MV Bluenose is a case of being penny wise and pound foolish.



Mr. Speaker, the federal government has to live up to its commitment to cut government spending. I draw your attention to a Toronto Star editorial, quoted in a publication called Infofax. The editorial compared the deficit reduction tactics of the Harris Government in Ontario with that of federal Finance Minister Paul Martin. Paul Martin shows real common sense. Both governments agree that cutting the deficit is essential but, as Finance Minister Paul Martin has noted, mindless cuts without concerns for the consequences may result in short-term savings but they can also result in substantial long-term costs.



I believe the economic impact study bears out Mr. Martin's statement. To tie the MV Bluenose up seven months a year demonstrates a lack of common sense on the part of Transport Minister Doug Young. His Finance colleague agrees that saving money in the short term can result in substantial long-term costs. I call upon Minister Young to heed Paul Martin's advice.



Mr. Speaker, before I conclude, and I won't be too much longer because I don't want the Opposition to spend too much time in debate this evening. I know they only debate things when they want the government to look bad. They have demonstrated that they only care about a problem when they feel they can score political points. That is when they care. (Applause)



Mr. Speaker, on two separate occasions during late debate . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Your skates need sharpening.



MR. HUBBARD: . . . I called upon the members of this House to debate the future of Yarmouth, Mr. Speaker, on November 3, 1993 and on December 6, 1995. On both occasions, the Opposition Parties decided not to give the people of southwestern Nova Scotia the courtesy of their time.



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh-h-h, shame!



AN HON. MEMBER: Didn't even show up.



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame, shame!



MR. HUBBARD: There was an opportunity for meaningful debate and they threw it back in the face of the people of southwestern Nova Scotia.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where were they?



MR. HUBBARD: They are content to waste the time of this House when it suits them; two occasions, Mr. Speaker, when the Opposition told the people of Nova Scotia that Yarmouth was not important enough for one Opposition member to give up 5 or 10 minutes of their precious time, not one.



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame, shame!



AN HON. MEMBER: Oh my Heavens!



ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: I was there. I saw it.



MR. HUBBARD: Mr. Speaker, as late as Monday, December 11, 1995, I spoke at the Rotary Club in Yarmouth where I mentioned, again, the urgency of this situation. I am concerned about the MV Bluenose, about their future. I care about each and every job in southwestern Nova Scotia. I have come to this House to debate the issues.



AN HON. MEMBER: I thought you were a hockey player.



MR. HUBBARD: The Opposition is content to grandstand. They want to grandstand, Mr. Speaker, when they think they can get press coverage.



AN HON MEMBER: On the backs of the people.



MR. HUBBARD: Mr. Speaker, I will conclude my remarks by stating categorically that Marine Atlantic and the federal Department of Transport must come to a reasonable solution. The MV Bluenose must continue winter operation and I call upon the Honourable Doug Young, Minister of Transport, to avoid the termination of ferry service or make short-term cuts that will cost the people of Nova Scotia and Canada in the future. Thank you. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle. (Applause)



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: I, too, am angered and upset that I have to debate this resolution this evening, not solely because of the lateness of the hour but because of the content of the resolution and what it means to the businesses and the industry and the people of southwestern Nova Scotia. What we are debating here tonight is the suspension of a service which began 40 years ago, in 1956, a service providing a link between Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and Bar Harbor, Maine, and that between the months of October 15th to May 15th. That is what we are talking about now, the winter service.



Mr. Speaker, what is important here is that our products, our goods in southwestern Nova Scotia, be they fish or forest products or Christmas trees, that they reach market on time, especially the perishable goods such as lobsters and fresh fish. If they do not reach market on time, a large market over there, Boston, then the industry in southwestern Nova Scotia may face desperate times.



This is a critical trade route, as I have said, to our forestry and fishing industries. We have direct access to some 50 million people in the New England States. Southwestern Nova Scotia, with this link, with this ferry service between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor, we are one of the closest points to the New England States. Without this link, if we have to drive on the highways, we are one of the furthest points away. So considering that two-thirds of the fish processing plants are found in Yarmouth County and Shelburne County - this is an example in the fishery - this is a very important link to us in southwestern Nova Scotia.



The Christmas tree industry is another example of how important this link is in the fall and winter season. Wood products is yet another example of how crucial this is to our local economy. Over the past few years, the local forestry industry has developed a small but yet vital market for some of these people in the New England States with the New England States lumber buyers. In a study conducted by the local exporters committee, which was formed recently as a result of all this, many respondents - these are business people in the area - indicated that their businesses will suffer or die if the link is severed.



Mr. Speaker, so far this evening from the Opposition I have heard nothing as far as alternatives. The Leader of the Opposition has brought this subject to the floor but yet as alternatives, I have heard nothing. One letter, for example, on June 6th, from the Commercial Exporters Committee, "We understand that Marine Atlantic has traditionally been dependent on subsidies from the federal government. It is the opinion of this committee as a result of contact with industry that is due to many factors. The current M/V Bluenose is one very important factor. She was not suitable for this run when originally purchased and she remains so. The sales efforts . . .", as was mentioned by the member for Yarmouth, ". . . into the commercial sector remains abysmal in this area. The parallel management system along with the absence of local authority makes for great frustration on behalf of the commercial users of this service.".



Mr. Speaker, I have been in contact with these people on a number of occasions to discuss this very matter and they have brought that matter to me on a number of occasions, of the marketing done to the commercial side of the industry. They have done a fantastic job promoting the tourism sector in the summertime, with the big signs that you see on the 100-Series Highway. The commercial exporters, the businesses in the area, say they could improve considerably in addressing their clients on the commercial side of it.



So, Mr. Speaker, I think that as we look at all of this and the discussions that we did have with Mr. Young and the federal government that we must offer alternatives to this scenario, to this situation, alternatives such as perhaps providing a private operator. With that, however, and in discussion with the South West Shore Development Authority, it seems that as to date there has been little cooperation between the federal Department of Transport and the local South West Shore Development Authority as to perhaps looking at the viability of a private sector operator for the winter months. I hope, with the discussions that the Premier did have today with the Honourable Doug Young, that there will be more cooperation, more collaboration as to looking for an alternative during these winter months.



If I may, I would like to speak for a few minutes on the chronology of events as I see it. I know the member for Yarmouth and the Premier have stated the events as we see here from the Minister of Transportation, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency that date back to July 7, 1995 and goes as late as today, of course. By the way, I would like to mention that this is not a new issue, it was raised, I believe, by the Leader of the New Democratic Party, in 1985. I have a report here that dates back to December 11, 1984, the then Minister of Fisheries, Honourable John Leefe, a memo here, the subject is the closure of the CN Ferry at Yarmouth. There is an entire study that goes along with it, so this is not a new subject. I think it is time now that we look at alternatives and how we can best get our products and goods to market.



On June 20, 1994, I did write a letter to the Minister of Transport saying, "To maintain western Nova Scotia's position of accessibility to compete in global markets, the continuation of this service is essential. Tourism, the fishery and Christmas tree export . . .", although I should have included the lumber and pulpwood industry ". . . are but a few that rely on this service.". I continued by saying how important this link is and at this time they were looking at acquiring a Norwegian ship to replace the MV Bluenose, that was on June 20, 1994.



Also on June 22, 1995, I am pleased to announce and I believe that a lot of people know that I was part of a delegation that did go to Ottawa and I am not afraid of announcing this publicly that my only out-of-province trip funded by the Assembly here was to Ottawa to meet with the Honourable Doug Young. (Applause) At this time with me were the mayors and wardens from Argyle and the Municipality of Yarmouth, along with the Chairman of the South West Shore Development Authority to discuss this matter along with other matters relating to the Canada Employment Centre and a few other things. We did have a good meeting with the federal minister.



Following this meeting on August 9th, we met again in Yarmouth with the CEO and President of Marine Atlantic, Rod Morrison and his staff and we did discuss the entire scenario surrounding Marine Atlantic and the MV Bluenose in Yarmouth. We were somewhat pleased with the meetings but of course, on September 7th, I was shocked as was the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, at the press release on that date. By the way, on September 1st, an economic impact study was funded by the province, so people saying that the province has not supported this is by no means accurate. On September 1st, the province allocated $15,000 to fund this economic impact study to look at all of this.



The long and the short of this is on September 7th, the announcement was made that the suspension of the service would be something like October 10th. We were all shocked, of course, at that time that the announcement was made before we had finished our consultations in the area and the report was not even finalized. Then the series of events that did happen, and I won't go on at length, I don't know how my time is doing, but there was a meeting, yes, the meeting that was referred to by the member for Yarmouth, September 14th, a meeting of 100 or 150 business people, industry people, municipal people, provincial people; myself, the member for Shelburne and the member for Yarmouth attended this meeting, a representative from the Economic Renewal Agency was there as well, a representative for the member for Clare was at the meeting of September 14th to discuss this entire matter.



[11:00 p.m.]



AN HON. MEMBER: Where was the Opposition?



MR. SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, I would not want to share blame on this on anyone. I think it is a critical matter, it is an important matter for southwestern Nova Scotia. I resent the fact that the Opposition members, if they do try to point blame on certain people on this matter, this is a matter that has evolved over time that we have worked on very closely, that our ministers have worked on very closely, that I have worked in liaison, if you wish, between the South West Shore Development Authority that has this on its hands, the local exporters committee and our federal members that were involved at the time as well.



So in conclusion, as one learned member, a colleague of mine has said, as Liberal MLAs including the Premier have attempted to fix the problem, the Opposition members have chosen to attempt to affix the blame. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture. (Applause)



HON. WAYNE GAUDET: You know, Mr. Speaker, the recent decision coming from Ottawa to stop the winter ferry service between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor, Maine, is very disappointing for my area. It has certainly created stress and anxiety in the Clare area and also in the neighbouring constituencies of Yarmouth, Digby and Argyle.



When the Town of Yarmouth goes through a difficult period, Mr. Speaker, the whole southwestern area feels this hardship. I recognize that all members of this House have to face, from time to time, certain difficulties, and it is part of the democratic process to petition our governments to make sure wise decisions are made to minimize the impact of hard decisions.



Mr. Speaker, the local economy in our area is based mostly on the fisheries. The lobster season opens at the end of November in our area and, weather permitting, it goes on to the end of the month of May. With due respect to all other lobster fishing centres in the Province of Nova Scotia, the lobster caught off our coast off the end of our province are, no doubt, the best in the world. (Interruptions) Yes, you will find out later on.



These lobsters are brought to market during the winter season. Mr. Speaker, I am told that these lobsters are high in demand. It is this high quality product that is going to the Boston market to be shipped all over the world. The volume of lobsters shipped from our area is in the millions of pounds annually. Obviously, Marine Atlantic has not thought through the decision very carefully or thoroughly. I am informed that the local economy will be losing $10.1 million in revenue if the Bluenose service is stopped during the winter months.



I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that it should make sense that the study engaged by South West Shore Development Authority be looked at by the federal Minister of Transport very carefully before it is too late. Hopefully, the federal minister will address, point by point, the consultant's report. If the facts support drastic measures, these facts have to be spelled out and listed clearly. On such an important issue, all facts of the matter have to be taken into consideration.



Mr. Speaker, this whole issue cannot be dealt with in a cavalier way. I am satisfied that this government fully appreciates the true dimension of the recent development affecting winter transportation of goods across the border during the winter season. All decisions affecting an international transport link have to be studied in depth to make sure that all aspects related to the matter have been looked at very carefully.



It is of crucial importance, Mr. Speaker, as we are now entering into a closer partnership with the United States under the free trade agreement, that we take a serious look at how we can improve our transportation of goods between borders and not cut back on a long-standing, historical transportation link between the New England States and Nova Scotia, as the member for Argyle has indicated earlier in his remarks this evening.



The public has to be made aware of the full impact of the impending decision hanging over the heads of the many people in the areas of Shelburne, Argyle, Yarmouth, Clare and Digby. Mr. Speaker, please allow me to quote from the report submitted by ATi Consulting Corporation of Halifax and I quote, "The main commodities exported via the Bluenose from October, 1994 to February, 1995 are: live lobsters 1.7 millions kg worth $21 millions; fish and shellfish, 6 million kg worth $37 million; forest products for $195 thousand; other freight approximately $1 million.".



So, Mr. Speaker, although there may be, yes, may be compelling reasons to justify the federal government's decision to eliminate the winter service of the MV Bluenose, I beg the federal government to fully explain to the public all aspects of the factors behind their decisions. If it is necessary to come to a painful decision, I implore the federal Department of Transport to work jointly with other federal departments and with our provincial government to come up with an alternate service, not only to assure efficient transportation of goods, but also to address the problems caused by the loss of these many jobs.



The public is expecting from both levels of government close cooperation and coordination of efforts, just to make sure that the service is maintained, and secondly, God forbid, if the existing service has to be curtailed for the winter months, the replacement or an alternative measure has to be put in place to provide a service much needed for the local economy. I thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.





MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Minister of Agriculture for what I think are very constructive remarks which he offered to the Chamber on this vitally important matter which we are debating tonight. This is not a matter which really is one that lends itself well to partisan debate, but rather should lend itself to a coming together of all of us, as we seek to do what is best for Nova Scotians and to promote the Nova Scotian economy.



The economic interests of southwestern Nova Scotia are not peculiar to that part of the province, but, indeed, are of vital interest to each and every part of Nova Scotia and to each and every Nova Scotian. But what happens negatively there will have a negative impact everywhere else in this province. We should never lose sight of the fact that roughly two-thirds of the fish plants which are licensed in Nova Scotia, are in operation in Yarmouth and Shelburne Counties. That is the heart, soul and the gut of our independent fishery here in Nova Scotia which competes on a global basis to feed a hungry world, competes on a global basis with some pretty tough competitors, not only to find new market niches but, indeed, to retain the market niches that Nova Scotia's seafood producers have been able to develop through the years.



Whenever our transportation links with those market niches are disturbed, then it means that we run a very real risk of not only losing those market niches over the short term, but, indeed, losing them over the long term as others rush in to fill the void. Mr. Speaker, in southwestern Nova Scotia, if one just looks at Digby, Yarmouth and Shelburne Counties, one finds that there are over 1,300 people who work in fish related employment as full-time jobs and another 420 who are part-time workers. So the employment in this area is absolutely essential. This employment is absolutely, essentially based on our capacity to get products to market. As other members have reminded us, there are no products which are any more important at this part of the year than lobsters, with respect to seafood but, also, of course, fresh fish is important and indeed salt fish, particularly in the pre-Lenten season, is an important out-shipment into the New York and Baltimore market places in particular.



Mr. Speaker, of our total market value of fish products generated in Nova Scotia, approximately 40 per cent comes from Shelburne and Yarmouth Counties alone; 40 per cent of the market value of our entire industry comes from these two counties. Much of the wealth that is created from that outgoing of product is dependent on the transportation link that is made available to us by the Bluenose ferry from Yarmouth to Bar Harbor. That is most essential in the wintertime, when we must get our lobsters to market and get them there in jig time to make sure that there is a low mortality rate to ensure that we can continue to have that market niche that we fought so hard to win and to maintain through all these years.



I have listened attentively to the remarks of all speakers tonight, sir, and I say that I have advice for the Premier, which I hope he will take. I think it is unseemly for any Premier of Nova Scotia to feel that he must deal directly with a minister. We have a Minister of Transportation who is quite capable of standing toe-to-toe and nose-to-nose with the irascible Doug Young, and I think our Premier should just leave it to them to fight it out in Doug Young's office. The place for our Premier to be is the place where I would encourage him to be and that is in the Prime Minister's Office, First Minister talking to First Minister. That is a lesson that perhaps our Premier has not yet learned, but it is one that I would encourage him to learn, in the best interests of all of the people of the province.



Mr. Speaker, we have heard the date of mid-July tossed around as an effective date for the commencement of response by the government to this very serious situation in which we find ourselves, and yet I have a letter which was sent by the Minister of Fisheries on May 26th to Peter Stoddard of Canada's Fisheries and is very clear by the context of that letter that this government knew at least in April, if not before, that in fact this disaster was pending. The question that one must ask is why did it take six months, up until the recent period, for the government to respond as forcefully as it should have responded in the very beginning?



I encourage the government, Mr. Speaker, to move forward and move forward as expeditiously as it possibly can with respect to finding an alternative. The unfortunate fact is that we have now reached and, indeed, passed the eleventh hour, and for an alternative service to be put in place, it may well mean us missing a part, if not all, of the winter sailing season this year; that is when we run the greatest risk of losing the market niche which we have strived so hard to build up.



Mr. Speaker, while it is the Opposition's job to take the government to task, it is also the Opposition's job, where the government is having difficulties and requires the support of all members of the House, to provide that support. Certainly we would want to pledge, in our caucus, that we are prepared insofar as we are able to assist the government in finding a solution to this problem, but they are the government, they are the ones to whom we must look for leadership. They are the ones to whom Nova Scotians must look for leadership and, in exercising that leadership, if it is true, honest, open, even-handed leadership, then we will be there to support the government. If the government falters in that, then we will be there to chide the government, as it is our job so to do.



Mr. Speaker, I do hope that the government will move quickly on the promise that the Premier made tonight with respect to an alternate source of transportation from Yarmouth to Bar Harbor. We must all hope that he is successful. We certainly will give him every encouragement and, wherever we can, every honest level of assistance, but in return we expect that he will fill the bill and fill the bill quickly to protect this vital and vibrant industry, which today in southwestern Nova Scotia is facing a very serious and uncertain future. Thank you.



[11:15 p.m.]



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise tonight and participate in this very serious concern. As speakers before me have concluded, this is not a partisan issue. Our argument and our adversary, so to speak, is with Marine Atlantic and the federal government. We all want to strive to ensure that the ferry link from Yarmouth to Bar Harbor, Maine, is continued.



Mr. Speaker, this is not an issue about grandstanding. What we have to do is look at the ATi Consulting report. ATi has done a lot of consulting work for this government, whether it is regarding forestry, highways or what have you. I want to quote from ATi's consultant study. Here is what they conclude: that the Canadian economy - not Nova Scotia, the Canadian economy - will be made worse off in net terms if winter ferry service is terminated. That pretty much says it all. Net present value of the cost-benefit analysis is $81 million. Annual economic costs exceed benefits by $5.6 million. This annual net cost translates to a net reduction of 793 jobs in Nova Scotia and 526 in the rest of Canada.



Mr. Speaker, I am calling on all Parties and all members of this House to work together to find a resolve that will rectify this very serious situation. We are not here to talk about a public/private partnership. We are here to talk about resolving a concern that affects the forestry, it affects the agricultural industry and it affects the fishery; perhaps the fishery more than anything else. I know my colleague, the member for Shelburne is going to talk about some of the perishable products such as lobster and how lobster may be adversely affected.



I know from practical experience that the drive from Yarmouth to Truro by transport truck is somewhere near five hours and from Truro to Fredericton will take you five more hours. Based on Department of Transport regulations, the trucking industry in Nova Scotia and, more specifically, in southwestern Nova Scotia will have to buy additional big rigs and they will have to hire additional employees if they are going to get their product from southwestern Nova Scotia to the New England market. That is important. I have mentioned different times how this government, with all respect, has treated the trucking industry in this province very unfairly.



As far as I am concerned, and perhaps even the Minister of Natural Resources would agree, the resource-based industries in this province are the backbone of Nova Scotia's economy, not just in rural Nova Scotia but right across this province, from Yarmouth to Meat Cove, the resource-based industries: agriculture, forestry.



Mr. Speaker, down in Meteghan, Comeau's mill employs 45 people in the sawmill industry and twice that number are employed in harvesting and out on the road - truck drivers, power saw operators and so on and so forth - work extremely hard. Mr. Comeau, if I might, has suggested - and I think this says it all, too; it is very important - Mr. Comeau is saying that we need that ferry link to survive. To survive, the ferry link is needed. They are not saying that just out of the blue because they would much prefer to be talking about the weather. They are saying that because they are very serious. The forestry industry in this province considers that link from Yarmouth to Bar Harbor, Maine, to be of vital importance.



Mr. Speaker, somebody else commented that if you have ever trucked 300 crates of lobster over the roads during a blizzard, you have learned what nerves are all about. In the wintertime trucking is a whole new experience than driving in the summertime. I want you to know that before this commodity gets on the ferry, sometimes you take it down and you will offload and they have roll-roll service and things of that nature where you will drop your trailer, or drop your wagon, so to speak, and you will bob-tail off and get another load.



In the case of all the commodities relative to the resource-based industries in this province, they have to be trucked from the site to the ferry, and most times they drive on. If you are hauling a perishable good, it means everything. If you can truck for five or six hours, get to the ferry, drive on, have a nap while going across to Bar Harbor, Maine, you are fresh and ready to truck on down into Boston and unload the commodity, be it forestry, be it fishery, whatever it is; it is important that that link be maintained.



I can't understand, for the life of me, how the honourable federal Minister of Transport could dismiss the ATi study so easily. The ATi study said it all, Mr. Speaker. In fact I read through different newspaper clippings where the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency has stood up and spoken out against shutting down this ferry service. I commend the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency for standing up and I commend the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition for standing up and bringing forward this legislation. It is a serious matter. Here we are tonight, before Christmas, we are debating in emergency debate, talking about a ferry link from Yarmouth, a ferry service that has been provided since 1956 and, out of the blue, so to speak, although there had been rumblings . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: I think this time it was out of the red.



MR. TAYLOR: Well, it may have been out of the red, yes, perhaps it was, I will concur.



Mr. Speaker, what I am trying to point out is that all our resource-based industries in southwestern Nova Scotia are dependent on that ferry link from Yarmouth to Bar Harbor, Maine. Without it it is going to mean additional costs and it is going to force some businesses under. We can't afford to have one business in Nova Scotia go under because the federal government and Marine Atlantic decide that the ATi study really is a disappointment to them. It is not a disappointment to us because they are saying that the cost-benefit analysis to the Nova Scotia economy is $81 million. How can you dismiss that?



Now, Mr. Speaker, I say, let's all get together and rally behind this very serious concern. If the government approaches the Official Opposition I know that my colleagues and I will give them support if they come up with concrete ways. The alternative, and there has been a lot of talk tonight, the member for Clare talked about what is the alternative, and the member for Argyle talked, what is the alternative? Well the alternative is extra costs to southwestern businesses and extra costs to southwestern truckers. That industry can ill afford an additional cost.



I can tell you from personal experience, Mr. Speaker, that a lot of people in the trucking industry are now operating on a shoestring, they are operating by the seat of their pants, so to speak. There is no question about it, they are flying by the seat of their pants.



If this ferry link is stopped because the government might save $200,000, I think we are doing the wrong thing. So I would encourage the Premier, I would encourage the Minister of Transportation, the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, the Minister of Human Resources, the minister of whatever, I would encourage all the front benches to stand up in a united effort and tell the federal Minister of Transport, the Honourable Doug Young, that we can't take this.



The forestry industry in this province is very important, some 25,000 direct and indirect jobs are related to the forestry in this province. There are sawmills in southwestern Nova Scotia that rely on this mode of transportation. They can't afford the additional costs that they are going to have to pay to truck it around to Digby.



Mr. Speaker, you know as well as I do that the Princess of Acadia and that mode of transport that they provide between Saint John, New Brunswick, and Digby is subject to review. What are we going to hear next? We have to put our foot down here in Nova Scotia and we have to say that we need these vital links of transportation, we need these modes. We will work with the federal government, we will do what it takes to provide this very essential service. Maybe the way to go is through a partnership, a public/private partnership.



The fact of the matter is that the federal government revenues, so the ATi Consulting report suggests, will be reduced by $3.6 million, virtually equal to the $3.8 million cost-saving associated with the winter shutdown.



So why is the federal government doing this? This is the question. There are lobsters, there are groundfish, there are tuna, there is lumber. Mr. Speaker, there are all kinds of commodities. But to get to the ferry and get on the ferry, they have to come from the source by truck. The trucking industry is going to be affected, the business, the sawmill operators are going to be affected. The fish processors are going to be affected. The economy in southwestern Nova Scotia is going to be adversely affected if the government follows through with shutting down this ferry service on December 31st.



It just can't happen, Mr. Speaker, it is too important. That link has been going on since 1956. Oh, yes, sometimes the door on the stern and the door on the bow will act up and you will have a day, from time to time, but you travel to Digby and you put a load of lumber on in Meteghan, and I have done it, and if you can't get the ferry in Digby you have to truck on through to Yarmouth because the ferry over to Saint John, New Brunswick, will take four hours, four hours to come back so you can be up in Fredericton. You know when you get to Fredericton or to Houlton, Maine, you are out hours. So what do you do? You are out hours and you have to shut down for 10 hours. You have to have a driver with you, if you don't, then that commodity is sitting dormant and if it is sitting dormant, it is no good to anybody. Mr. Young has to realize this.



It is nice for him to come in and talk about austerity and fiscal responsibility and all those buzz-words are fine, but let's look at the ATi Consulting report. The core problem appears to be exacerbated by the fact that the vessel used in the winter is primarily designed to carry passengers. So the minister reads that and I heard he made a comment relative to that, after Minister Doug Young read the report. What the ATi Consulting report is saying is that the winter season requires a vessel that primarily carries freight. I don't know how many interested parties there are, and they may even take a few turkeys across, I have no idea if that would be the case.



I am very pleased to see the government on the same side of the issue as the Opposition this time. I am very pleased to quote the member for Yarmouth. Some time ago - and I made a small reference here a long time ago - the member for Yarmouth, Richard Hubbard, and forgive me for mentioning his name, but Richard Hubbard said it was a betrayal for Ottawa to announce that the ferry service was closing before they even looked at the ATi Consulting report. (Interruption) This isn't an argument. The Minister of Natural Resources, he will ramble on for some time. We are on the same side of the issue. Get this in your head: what we are saying is let's work together, let's stand up to Ottawa for once. Let's not run and hide and flip-flop like we did on the EH-101 helicopters. Let's stand up for Nova Scotia; let's not run and hide like we did against Cornwallis; let's not run and hide like we did relative to Debert. We will stand up beside you on this one because this is a backward step, and a step that the repercussions will be felt for years and years to come.



The Minister of Natural Resources knows as well as I do that the forest industry is very, very dependent. I have had a load of lumber on and know what it is like to sit in Yarmouth and see the boat docking, see that big door open up and drive on, go get a berth, go have a nice sleep and truck on down into Boston or Springfield, Massachusetts. It is the only way to go; we need that link. It is 100 miles across, but if you load in Yarmouth and have to go to Fredericton, you are talking five, maybe six hours and you are only up in New Brunswick. You can get on that ferry; that mode of transportation is vital to the Nova Scotia economy.





Mr. Speaker, with those very few brief remarks, I want to say that I appreciate the ministers on the front benches and the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency and the Minister of Agriculture standing up and speaking against this issue, because I think this is the type of thing we are looking for from the government. The government has taken a stand and I support what the government is doing on this issue and I support their backbenchers. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.



MR. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the people of Shelburne County I will speak in favour of the continuation of service of the MV Bluenose. The MV Bluenose is a very important transportation link between southwest Nova Scotia and the New England States. There are hundreds of business in southwest Nova Scotia that rely on the ferry service, and just to name a few: R.I. Smith Fisheries in Shag Harbour; James Mood Fisheries, Woods Harbour; Reynolds Trucking, Port La Tour; Pierce Fisheries, Lockeport; D. & L. Williams Fisheries, Lockeport.



[11:30 p.m.]



In Shelburne County, the fishing industry is the backbone of our economy. Shelburne County is named the lobster capital of Canada because our fishermen and fisherwomen caught so many lobsters. Many of those lobsters are shipped via the Bluenose ferry to their markets in the New England States. If these lobsters are trucked around or go on the Digby ferry more time will be lost, resulting in a greater mortality rate. That means less profit to the fishermen, less profit to the fish buyers and less money for the economy of Shelburne County.



It was stated that in a recent year that $103 million worth of lobsters and fresh fish were shipped via the Bluenose to the New England markets; 13.3 million pounds of lobsters worth $43 million and about 60 million pounds of fresh fish worth $60 million were caught between Digby and Lunenburg Counties and shipped by the ferry to the Boston and other New England markets. Last year the figures were much higher. Timing is everything in the Boston market, because it is very sensitive to supply and demand. However, the lobster fishery is only one fishery that depends on the vital transportation link. There are several more, the groundfishing industry, the swordfishing industry, the tuna fishing industry, to just mention a few.



I have talked about the fishing industry and how it relies on the Bluenose ferry service, but there are several other industries that rely on this service also: the lumber industry; the Christmas tree industry; the tourism industry. If this ferry is taken out of service in early October, it will have devastating effects on the bumper tourism industry. Tourism operators in southwest Nova Scotia are trying to develop an extended tourism season. Without this ferry, this will be impossible.



The Liberal Government of this province has taken numerous steps since July 7, 1995, to oppose and fight the reduction of the service of the MV Bluenose. The Premier has been to Ottawa on more than one occasion to fight for this cause. As MLA for Shelburne County, I have brought forward this important issue through the following actions: I have had several telephone conversations on this issue; I have attended meetings in Yarmouth on this topic; I have corresponded with the federal Minister of Transport, Doug Young; and I have met with the two federal MPs in this area.



In conclusion, I strongly urge that the federal government maintain this ferry service for 12 months of the year. The Bluenose ferry service is an essential service to southwestern Nova Scotia. Thank you. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Fisheries. (Applause)



HON. JAMES BARKHOUSE: Mr. Speaker, first I would like to thank the Leader of the Opposition for bringing this issue to the floor today. It is a very important moment in the life of Nova Scotia. For many Nova Scotians this is an issue that has risen to the very peak with the fact that Marine Atlantic has recently announced that they will terminate ferry service December 31, 1995.



In our Party, we care, Mr. Speaker. Our Premier has spoken this evening to state the position which our Party has fought in which we lead the people of Nova Scotia in confronting Marine Atlantic in maintaining the operation of this very essential ferry service. I compliment my colleagues for Yarmouth, Shelburne, Argyle, Clare, for Queens and for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley for speaking on this very important issue.



As the member for Yarmouth said, avoid the termination of service. To me this is the primary issue, to avoid terminating freight service from Nova Scotia to New England. It is a very important issue. As highlighted by a number of members speaking about the fisheries, lobsters are one of our best commodities, but a quality lobster is the most important item and it must get to market in pristine condition. Mr. Speaker, today is December 18th. Right now, the issue is we can catch lots of lobsters in Nova Scotia, the thing is to get it to market in the best of condition. Our lobsters are now flying to France, to Japan, to London, to Germany and all over the world.



One of the other problems that we have is that we have a very difficult time in obtaining air freight service from Halifax. It is a limiting factor so to correct this, many of our lobsters are trucked from Nova Scotia to other markets through airports such as New York, Boston, Montreal and Toronto. Most of the lobsters are caught in southwestern Nova Scotia in the Shelburne-Yarmouth region, it is many times more than other parts of this province and as they are being caught, they are being graded, packed and shipped. So it is very essential that these lobsters get to the market as quickly as possible. The air freight service being limited here in Halifax means that the alternative route is through New England ports. As well, the table trade in New England with in excess of 50 million people provide an extremely good market.



The lobster market is our largest resource of any individual species in Nova Scotia. Right now in this very critical time period, it requires the best of service. So I compliment my colleagues for bringing the detailed points of view. Tuna in the last few months also have to be exported. They have to get to the New York airport for trans-shipment to Japan where they pay premium prices but they only pay premium prices when we have a quality product and tuna can go as high as $58 a pound. It can only get that price with the quality of the product. Quality is something that we have taught our fishermen, we have taught our processors and everybody understands that but there is more than one player in this industry. We must have our shipments made directly to the market place.



Mr. Speaker, I would like to note that in Nova Scotia exports, in 1994, we had $795 million worth of fish exported from Nova Scotia, that is about 32.7 per cent of the products that are exported out of Nova Scotia. It is essential that the quality of our fish is maintained. This ferry, for the last 40 years, has provided that service to our people and it is incumbent upon Marine Atlantic and our federal government to work very closely with our people to ensure that this service is going to be maintained. I know that my colleague, the member for Yarmouth has met and dealt very closely with the people of CN Marine. It is incumbent upon them to maintain the pressure upon these people.



Now a little bit of history, Mr. Speaker. Back in April, Peter Stoddard from Canus Fisheries did call and our government did react and responded immediately. We worked very closely with the fishing community which then in turn commissioned the commercial exporters committee which made a report in May 1995. We did respond to the fishing community. They reacted the day they heard the concerns expressed that it was possible that the ferry service would be terminated this fall. I can compliment my colleagues, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency and the Minister of Transportation but our Premier delegated our colleagues to work very closely with the industry and the communities because that is what is important. Our Premier has taken upon himself to speak to the Honourable Doug Young and to the Prime Minister numerous times about the commercial traffic that is required in this end of the province.



We did lose our CN rail system a number of years ago. It got cut off from Yarmouth to Shelburne, then to Liverpool and then to East River and now we have no rail service in the southwestern part of Nova Scotia. We only have truck service and air service. The air service out of Yarmouth, also, is teetering. It is a smaller airport but it also is a very important part of the community of Yarmouth and the southwestern part of Nova Scotia.



The trucking service, from Yarmouth to Boston, for instance, in a report from Marine Atlantic, is that via all roads from Yarmouth to Boston, it would be 843 miles and would be 27 hours. If you went from Digby by ferry, it would be 14.5 hours and it would be 468 miles. If you went from Yarmouth by ferry to Boston, it would be 271 miles and 13.5 hours. Mr. Speaker, every hour counts.



The quality of all the product is essential. Our department has worked with the community of the fishing industry and last year we had 170 people at a quality workshop on lobsters in Yarmouth. Those people understand what quality is and the market demands that. We are competing with the world. For every product that gets degraded because of time and through improper handling, our community loses that revenue. That revenue is lost in the form of tax, it is also lost in the form of returns to the fishermen and to the processors and to all the people in between. Our community demands that we provide the best quality service. Our government, led by the Premier, requires that the federal government maintain this quality service on behalf of all Nova Scotians.



Mr. Speaker, there are many issues that could be brought to bear upon this. Our members have fought diligently, and I have talked to many of my colleagues in the last several years, but this spring, when the word did come down that there was a possibility of the closure of this ferry service, all the members from southwestern Nova Scotia spoke to me and to my colleagues, as ministers, to implore the minister, Doug Young, to make sure that we would maintain this service. As the Premier did explore our other opportunities - if Marine Atlantic cannot provide the service - we do hope that other commercial operators will provide options so that we will have a trucking service out of Nova Scotia. I think it is most essential and very important to the people of this province that our government recognize this.



There is also the other aspect, the forestry products. In Lunenburg County, from whence I come, Mr. Speaker, the Christmas tree industry is a very important industry. Back in 1986, when the federal government at the time decided it was going to put tariffs on American trees coming to Canada, we had a battle. It was then calculated that we were doing about $20 million worth of exports from Nova Scotia, most of it coming from Lunenburg County and a number of those trees have been exported through Yarmouth.



Over the years, Marine Atlantic has not provided the quality of service to the trucking industry. It is like de-marketing, the same as CN had provided in the deterioration of the service, the quality service that they used to have. When you lose a service, people leave that avenue and some more of our trees have been trucked through Digby, or around the route through Amherst and down through New Brunswick.



Marketing is important; it is essential. If Marine Atlantic were to give incentives, they could have more trucks, because the trucking industry would find it much closer from Lunenburg County through Yarmouth to Boston and into the New England market, where many of our trees are exported. That is an extremely important industry for Lunenburg County, but also for all of western Nova Scotia. Christmas trees are grown throughout the Valley and many of them come into Lunenburg County for grading and packing and shipping, but it is another essential service.



Just recently my colleague from the Department of Natural Resources, the Minister of Natural Resources, was in Yarmouth speaking to the Chamber of Commerce. He spoke on how important this vital service is to the people of western Nova Scotia. Many members of our government have spoken at length on this; they have dialogued with the federal minister, Doug Young, of the federal government. I think he understands.



We understand they also have a difficult financial problem but the action should not be taken immediately. I think he should defer this action until next year, to allow the community more time, allow more time for marketing of the service and whether it is incentives, CN or Marine Atlantic have taken great care to increase the tourism traffic. They have done a lot of marketing, but they have the market for the trucking industry. It is vital.



I again want to commend my Premier for the leadership he has shown to this government and to the people of Nova Scotia in communicating directly with the federal Minister of Transport. He has not been shy. He has done it quietly, working discreetly but also making a very strong point that the shipping industry in Nova Scotia is essential to the livelihood of thousands of people, directly and indirectly.



Mr. Speaker, I think that now that I have had my few comments that I just want to say we must avoid termination of the service at all costs. I think the member for Yarmouth made the very strong statement that we must avoid the termination of the service. The alternatives must be explored and I think Marine Atlantic deserves to give Nova Scotians one more opportunity, an extension of this time of termination.



At this moment, Mr. Speaker, I will take my chair and I thank all members for participating. (Applause)



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



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to follow my colleagues from southwestern Nova Scotia. My riding is in a different part of the province, with very different industries in many ways and with different needs. To hear my colleagues from all sides of this House speak tonight about the essential service that is provided by what we are calling a trade route, it gives me a great deal of pride to follow them and to attempt to summarize, in a sense, some of the comments that have been made tonight, both the positive and some of the negative comments.



[11:45 p.m.]



There is no more fundamental task for a government than providing infrastructure, whether that is roads, rail, telecommunication now that we are living in a global community, air and water. Those are literally the lifeblood of this province. We are traders and we are exporters and we have to do more of that in order to take our place in the next century, to be a viable economy. So when we are dealing for months now with Marine Atlantic, and many of those meetings have not been pleasant, when lobster fishermen are confronted by Marine Atlantic staff who come down from either Ottawa or Moncton and ask what difference it makes if the lobster is dead on arrival in Boston, that sends shock waves through a community that is a customer of a service.



I heard the member for Queens opposite earlier tonight say, you know, we praise this initiative, it is too little too late in some ways. Those were not exactly his phrases, the Leader of the Opposition. My colleague behind indicates that in 1984, a letter was sent to this government, the Opposition now, and at that time, they came up with a subsidy of some kind, money that I assume they borrowed from somewhere, to solve the problem for the people of Yarmouth, to leave a vessel on that everybody knew at that time was not suited for the commercial trade route that was needed in the winter. That is how they solved the problem, by sending Mr. Kerr or someone else off to New York to borrow money, to keep something going.



I am not suggesting for a moment that we do not have a problem here, but what I would like to suggest is that there is a better way to solve it than to borrow money to keep a vessel on that perhaps should not have been serving the people in the first place. Maybe at that time it would have been far more appropriate to begin the planning, in 1984, so that we are not faced in 1995 with the same problem with the same vessel and we have to now solve the problem, with the people of that area.



So, I am not so sure that too little too late or sending people off to Ottawa or to speak to Doug Young are the only solutions I have heard tonight. I think there are better solutions and I think this government is pledged to the fundamental task of ensuring that there are export routes for our people, for our businesses, for the commodities, the goods and the services that are needed by the world that are produced here, that are world-class products here in Nova Scotia. Whether that is by vessel - and, once again, by vessel in terms of the private sector, perhaps, alternatives that we will now have to find because we are pledged to those trade routes. It is absolutely fundamental for this government to ensure that there is more air access, that the finest telecommunications exist in this province, that roads are built properly, on time, utilizing the creative approach of the private sector in this case to make sure that we have access and our goods have access to Upper Canadian or northeast trade zone markets. That is exactly what we have been talking about.



SOME HON. MEMBERS: What is your plan?



MR. HARRISON: It is interesting: what is our plan? I can tell you, it will be a lot more effective and a lot more creative than the plan that the previous government had to fix the problem. In fact, let me suggest for a moment that there is a wonderful example.



AN HON. MEMBER: They left a $9 billion debt, too, right?



MR. HARRISON: Yes. The gentlemen across have contributed, I think, $9 billion worth of debt and a $1 billion albatross in debt service charges and they are asking us what our plan is. They are asking us. In fact, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley was saying earlier, what is the federal government doing here? Well, if he does not understand yet what the federal government and what the provincial government are trying to do, I suggest he perhaps find another profession. In fact, what they are trying to do is ensure that Canadian businesses are not taxes out of existence based on the debt load and the deficit load of both provincial and federal governments.



That does not mean for one moment that we will accept the loss of trade routes. It is absolutely critical that our province have the kind of infrastructure by road, by rail. I would like to tell a little story about something called iron road. The honourable member for Hants West delights in telling this story, about a railroad that was going to disappear, a railroad that was purchased by a company from away and employed employees who are now carrying business cards. In fact, the amount of service that this company has provided, they are thinking of putting rail back. It is that kind of creative solution that is needed to solve some of the infrastructure problems, whether it is road, whether it is the IWAN project in terms of telecommunications, a private-public partnership, whether it is Highway No. 104 and now we are faced with this, what we believe, is a terrible decision. In fact, after the tremendous efforts by the RDA, tremendous efforts by the MLAs, a fine consultants study, ATi, that determined that the economic loss to the area was going to be traumatic, still after all of that and the Premier who went to Ottawa and said, I demand that this decision be informed, I demand that you await the study. Minister Doug Young, a man of his word indicated that he would then wait for that study.



We are not accepting this decision easily, this is not an easy decision for Nova Scotia. It is the federal government's prerogative to decide what to do with transportation. I don't happen to like this decision, I don't like Marine Atlantic's decision and I don't like Minister Young's decision. But unlike the Opposition that rails without any solution at all, we have a commitment from the Minister of Transport to accept any business proposal that can come forward to re-establish those trade routes. Those goods must get to market.



Unlike in 1984, we are not going to send someone off to New York or Tokyo to borrow money. We are going to try to solve this problem with the private sector because we have faith in the private sector that the private sector can come up with creative solutions. It is the private sector's goods that have to get to market and it is the private sector we trust that will be able to look at marine services and will look at them in a creative way and will actually deliver the very trade routes that we are looking for. Again, highways, air access, as you notice from today's announcement at the airport, the private sector coming here to Halifax to take the Halifax International Airport and turn it into a going concern in business, to take the Port of Halifax and do the same thing, to take our rail routes which are now privatized, CN.



In other words, what we have in this province, in this country, is a developing sense of pride in the role of public service and in the role of the private sector. The plan is to take both private sector ingenuity and public sector exemplary service and to solve these problems once and for all in a sustainable way, in a way that is understood by the business community to be sustainable, understood by the people to be sustainable. As long as the Opposition Parties continue to trot out 20 year old solutions to today's problems they are going to continue to remain in Opposition because the people of Canada are far wiser. (Interruption) Here they are yelling about beds and hospitals, they don't even understand health reform, they don't even understand that the people of Nova Scotia are demanding a revitalized health care system, are demanding municipal services that are efficient and effective, are demanding good government.



Good government finds creative ways to do its basic and fundamental task and that is to provide infrastructure. Infrastructure gets goods to market, it gets services to market, it employs Nova Scotians and it makes sure that that employment is sustainable. Good government is good infrastructure, the kind that was built on borrowed money is not good government. The albatross that has been placed around the neck of Nova Scotians is not good government and the people know that, they know it here in Nova Scotia and they know it throughout this nation. The difference this time is that we are going to attempt to take the private sector's ingenuity and establish the infrastructure in trade routes that are needed, get those goods to market and finally, once and for all, come up with a solution that is sustainable to make sure that southwestern Nova Scotia and all parts of Nova Scotia are served by infrastructure that allows Nova Scotia business women and businessmen to compete in a marketplace that is getting ever so more competitive and creative every single day.



I go back to Iron Road again. We have employees of a rail world that is growing by 300 per cent carrying business cards around the world everywhere they go selling that rail service. They are contemplating putting rail back in the Annapolis Valley, putting track back to Greenwood. That is the contemplation of this company, that is how well they are doing. That is the creative energy of the private sector and when you marry that up with a fiscally disciplined public sector, one that believes in essential public service, then you have solutions.



Let me compliment once again the fine work of the MLAs from the area, of Gerry Boudreau and the RDA of that area, of the business community and the exporters that have spent hours and hours trying to solve this problem and who will undoubtedly commit their time and already are committing their time to ensuring that the kind of infrastructure we have talked about does get put in place.



My colleague, the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, said that the resource sector and the resource industries are the vital industries of Nova Scotia. I couldn't agree more. This government is committed to a balanced approach, not just the IT, information technology, teleservice centres that are part, obviously, of our provincial plan, but making sure that the fishing community, the aquaculture community, the natural resource value-added community and the mining community are welcomed in Nova Scotia, are able to make sure that they have the finest of infrastructure to get their products to market, that we become a smarter and smarter province in terms of value-added products that are made here, that replace some of the imports that we have, and make sure that we get those value-added products to world markets. Absolutely committed to making sure that world-class Nova Scotia products get to world markets. (Interruptions)



It is interesting that at the eleventh hour, Mr. Speaker, after all the meetings and all the discussions that have taken place - and they are not over, those discussions will continue, we will leave no stone unturned trying to solve this problem - that the Opposition is catcalling and heckling across the floor about what is our plan and how are we going to solve this problem. The fact is that the plan has been stated over and over again.



AN HON. MEMBER: What is it?



MR. HARRISON: We have people in the area who are extremely creative. We have business people in this province that can come to the solution, the problem being trade routes with New England. We have shipping companies that are arriving daily to talk about the Port of Halifax, to talk about marine policy. We have a federal minister who has already stated publicly, and the Opposition has missed it, that he intends to either commercialize or privatize the entire marine industry. So we have to get creative, Mr. Speaker. The federal government is not going to change their plans. We will get creative. We will do it with the people of the area. We will do it with the great creative energies not only of our MLAs but of the RDA, of the exporters, of the businesses in the area, and we will solve this problem. Nova Scotians will solve this problem. We will solve every other problem that gets thrown at us by this international community. We will solve it with ingenuity, with creativity, not with 20 year old catcalls and problems, not with the problems of yesteryear, not with fixing the blame on somebody, but actually fixing the problem, a sustainable solution for Nova Scotians. Thank you. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: I believe the time allotted for the debate has expired. I will declare the House adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.



[The House rose at 11:58 p.m.]