Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

















HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 3, 1996



Fifty-sixth General Assembly



Third Session



2:00 P.M.



SPEAKER



Hon. Paul MacEwan



DEPUTY SPEAKER



Mrs. Francene Cosman





MR. SPEAKER: I will call the House to order at this time. Are there any introductions before we begin the daily routine?



PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



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. 933



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



Whereas yesterday this House gave unanimous consent to set aside partisan squabbling in a new spirit of cooperation and goodwill; and





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Whereas all three Parties are on record as saying they wanted the opportunity to propose further amendments to Bill No. 47; and



Whereas amending Bill No. 47 in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills would help demonstrate that all members of this House were sincere when we gave unanimous consent to a resolution that said we would act responsibly and collectively work for the greater good;



Therefore be it resolved that in order to address the expressed wishes of the government and both Opposition Parties, this House agree to refer Bill No. 47 back to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills today in exchange for which the Progressive Conservative caucus agrees to forgo the time it is allowed for Opposition business after Question Period and at 6:00 p.m. today debate cease and this bill be referred back to the House.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver without debate.



MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 934



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 has boasted that the lack of resources for Nova Scotia schools is no impediment because teachers are bringing in supplies such as pencils and paper at their own expense; and



Whereas parents whose children have special needs are understandably concerned that teachers who must now function as a private supply depot will also be expected to take on new, undefined responsibilities for identifying and meeting special needs; and



Whereas the defeat by the Liberal Government of all amendments to ensure special needs education has added to the doubts about the government's will;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to stop relying upon teachers to fill in every gap created by Liberal cutbacks, particularly if they intend to rely upon those same teachers to take on major new responsibilities for special education without additional resources.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Inverness.



RESOLUTION NO. 935



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



Whereas from December 8, 1941 to December 25, 1941, 1,975 Canadians served in the defence of Hong Kong, including 550 who never returned; and



Whereas on Thursday, January 4, 1996, at 2:00 p.m., several Canadian veterans will receive a special Hong Kong decoration at Government House; and



Whereas the special Hong Kong decoration was introduced by the Canadian Government last July;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House honour the Canadians who served in the valiant defence of Hong Kong between December 8, 1941 and December 25, 1941, and remember those who never returned from the horrors of war and wartime Japanese prison camps.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice and passage without debate and possibly a moment of silence in honour of those people.



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.



It calls for the observation of a moment's silence in honour of the memory of the veterans.



[One minute of silence was observed.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.



RESOLUTION NO. 936



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



Whereas the previous government chose to ignore the health of Nova Scotians by poorly coordinating emergency services, providing an inadequate Home Care Program and leading the seniors' Pharmacare Program to near bankruptcy; and



Whereas this government's initiatives have brought about enhanced emergency services, improved the outdated Home Care Program and saved the seniors' Pharmacare Program; and



Whereas this government is being responsible to the people of Nova Scotia by ensuring that acute and long-term health care needs will be met today and in the future;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly, together in the spirit of the Opposition Leader's spirit of cooperation, extend congratulations to this government for designing the Health Care Program and services needed by Nova Scotians.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreeable to the House?



I hear several Noes.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 937



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



Whereas with customary modesty, unnamed Cabinet Ministers were reported recently to have stated that they would have supported amendments to Bill No. 47, if Liberal MLAs had not talked the bill out; and



Whereas if the government wishes to amend Bill No. 47 so that it is consistent with the agreements this government recently signed, it has the numbers to do so; and



Whereas representatives of thousands of Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre employees have asked the government to amend the bill, if that is truly the Liberals' intention;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Government House Leader and his colleagues to step forward and propose that Bill No. 47 be referred back to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, for a fixed period of time, so that it may be amended in the manner that so many Nova Scotians wish.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.



RESOLUTION NO. 938



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



Whereas our Tory predecessors governed by abdication and denial; and



Whereas this Liberal Government has not reneged on the trust invested in it by the vast majority of the Nova Scotia electorate; and



Whereas this government is ensuring the future of this province through reform and renewal while addressing virtually all of its key policy objectives;



Therefore be it resolved that in the Opposition Leader's spirit of cooperation, let the members of this Assembly join together in support of this government's plans and careful actions, as we prepare to lead this province into the future.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.



RESOLUTION NO. 939



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



Whereas the future of the Nova Scotia economy depends on our ability to seek new opportunities in the export market; and



Whereas Mr. Hughie MacPherson, owner of MacPherson Brothers Building Supplies of New Waterford, is on the leading edge of making major breakthroughs in the overseas market by seeking out strategic partnerships; and



Whereas MacPherson Building Supplies has negotiated a $700,000 joint venture with a Hungarian developer for work on a school gym, swimming pool and dormitory building;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the hard work of Mr. Hughie MacPherson, resulting in a successful business venture in Eastern Europe, and wish him success in future endeavours.



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



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 West.



RESOLUTION NO. 940



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



Whereas gaming czar Ralph Fiske is one of a number of former Liberal Cabinet Ministers occupying a senior appointment post courtesy of the present government; and



Whereas for a mere $102,000 per year, the Gaming Corporation Chair has spent his time on behalf of the Government of Nova Scotia promoting the merits of gaming on behalf of ITT Sheraton; and



Whereas the merits of gaming do not appear to be lost on this government, who have conceded thus far to every wish of ITT Sheraton, regardless of the Premier's commitment to the people of this province;



Therefore be it resolved that the Premier redirect the $102,000 necessary to employ the Gaming Corporation Chair into areas where there is a sincere shortage of funding such as our hospitals or our classrooms.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



I don't believe that Mr. Fiske's title is czar, that means Caesar in Russian. If he is a Caesar, it is news to me.



The honourable member for Queens.



RESOLUTION NO. 941



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



Whereas Geraldine May displayed selfless devotion to duty in the capacity as Nova Scotia Protocol Officer until her retirement in 1994; and



Whereas during her years of service, Geraldine often provided services to members of the Royal Family when they from time to time visited Nova Scotia; and



Whereas in recognition of these services, Her Majesty The Queen has named Geraldine a member of the Royal Victorian Order;



Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations to Geraldine May on the occasion of her being named to the Royal Victorian Order by Her Majesty The Queen.



Mr. Speaker, I move waiver of notice.



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 Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 942



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



Whereas in 1991, then Premier Cameron waited the full six months before calling a by-election in Halifax Atlantic, setting a date that left those constituents unrepresented when the 1992 budget came down; and



Whereas now Premier Savage has arrogantly announced that he will leave the constituents of Halifax Fairview unrepresented when the 1996 budget comes down; and



[2:15 p.m.]



Whereas the governing Party eventually came third in Halifax Atlantic, going on to suffer its worst electoral defeat in more than 40 years when the general election was held;



Therefore be it resolved that a Premier who would peddle sunshine, happiness and fresh promises of consultation and cooperation should seek some credibility from the voters by calling a by-election in a seat that has been vacant for nearly three months.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.



RESOLUTION NO. 943



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



Whereas huge debts from the previous government took time to accumulate and will take time to unravel; and



Whereas through this government's efforts, the announced surplus in the province's operating budget will be higher than the earlier expected $5.4 million; and



Whereas a good way for this government to begin a new year is to resolve to unravel the province's financial legacy;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly, in agreement with the Opposition Leader's resolution to work together in the spirit of cooperation, recognize that governing by design produces good and, as importantly, positive long-term results.



Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.



MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Argyle.



RESOLUTION NO. 944



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



Whereas much needed changes in Nova Scotia's education system have not been addressed by previous governments for over 40 years; and



Whereas this government's reform of the education system gives parents, teachers and all education partners a greater say and investment in their local schools; and



Whereas this government's education reforms will redirect tax dollars into classrooms, protect essential programs and services for the students, while making the education system more accountable for results;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly follow the Opposition Leader's spirit of cooperation by supporting this government's much needed change in Nova Scotia's education system.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Hants East.



RESOLUTION NO. 945



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



Whereas we are all too painfully aware of the former Tory Government's approach to economic development which resulted in the waste of millions of taxpayers' money in unsuccessful megaprojects parachuted into local economies; and



Whereas this government's successful approach fosters growth of local businesses through community business loans which support the viability of local communities; and



Whereas this government is using Nova Scotia taxpayers' money wisely while helping to create a more healthy economic climate leading to further growth and prosperity;



Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House, in a spirit of cooperation and goodwill, support this government's community business loan program and other positive initiatives which are resulting in the growth of small businesses and an increase in jobs for Nova Scotians.



Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 946



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



Whereas the Premier said yesterday that the call for a by-election in Halifax Fairview will not be made until the spring session is concluded and the budget is out of the way; and



Whereas this means that the people of Halifax Fairview will be left without representation provincially since October 20th and only the verbal assignment by the Premier of the member for Halifax Bedford Basin acting as the area's surrogate MLA; and



Whereas by the Premier's estimate of when a by-election might be called, it could be at least six or eight months before the thousands in Halifax Fairview are given an opportunity to select their new MLA;



Therefore be it resolved that the Premier take the same noble approach he took on behalf of the people of both Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and Pictou East and move post-haste to fill the vacancy left by the former provincial NDP Leader.



MR. SPEAKER: Is there a request for waiver of notice? It is requested.



I hear several Noes.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.



RESOLUTION NO. 947



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



Whereas for many years the Tory Government did precious little to make Nova Scotia's community colleges more responsive to the real educational needs of our communities; and



Whereas this government is listening to the educational needs of businesses and communities as exemplified in the productive dialogue between the Strait area Chamber of Commerce and the Minister of Education and Culture which has resulted in five new courses being added to the curriculum of the Strait area community colleges; and



Whereas the new courses recommended by the Strait area Chamber of Commerce are: home health care provider, electronic technician, hotel and restaurant management, business administration and human services;



Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that this government is listening and responding to the real needs of students across the province and acting on their behalf in contrast to years of Tory neglect and inaction.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.



RESOLUTION NO. 948



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



Whereas residents of the Highland Park area have expressed deep concern regarding a proposed name change of their community to accommodate the 911 system and Canada Post; and



Whereas the Chair of the Western Community Council, Mr. Reg Rankin, recently announced that the proposed change was not in keeping with the wishes of area residents concluding that more appropriate names would be used by Canada Post and Emergency Measures; and



Whereas the community council was instrumental in achieving the wishes of area residents with the cooperation of Emergency Measures and Canada Post;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly applaud the decision of Chairman, Reg Rankin, the Western Region Community Council, Canada Post and Emergency Measures for responding to the wishes of the people in Highland Park.



Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.



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 unanimously.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 949



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



Whereas the federal deficit was created and piled up by federal governments' monetary policy, extraordinarily high interest rates and tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals; and



Whereas Canadians have correctly seen that the deficit is being used as an excuse for policies that further enrich a wealthy elite while driving more families toward poverty; and



Whereas rather than fight this one-sided class warfare, the Premier is encouraging more of the same, for example, greasing the skids for withdrawal of basic transportation services like the MV Bluenose;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Premier to drop his collaboration with federal Liberal policies that are cutting Nova Scotians adrift from national standards for health, social, education and transportation services, so that a wealthy minority can gain even greater privilege.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



Are there any further notices of motion? If not I will advise the House at this time as to the result of the late show draw conducted by the Clerk today. The winner is the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis. He has submitted a resolution for debate on the fishing industry:



Therefore be it resolved that the fishing industry of Nova Scotia is a vibrant sector of the Nova Scotia economy integral to our heritage and to our identity.



So we will hear discussion on that topic at 6:00 p.m. this evening.



ORDERS OF THE DAY



ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



COMMUN. SERV. - HFX. REG. MUN.: SOCIAL ASSIST. - SINGLE-TIERED



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Will the Minister of Community Services confirm that a single-tiered social assistance system will be in place in the new metropolitan municipality as of April 1st?



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, no, the Minister of Community Services at this time is in no position to confirm that there will be a single-tiered system in the new metro regional municipal unit. We will be working toward that and one would hope that that would be realized but it would not be proper that I say that commitment would be able to be achieved at that time. It is not only a decision of the provincial government but it is, in fact, respecting the autonomy of the region itself.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the minister's answer caught me a little off guard. It is my understanding from yesterday that he had confirmed that there would be a system in place in the metropolitan municipality as of April 1st. By way of following up with the minister, I wonder if the minister would describe, are there negotiations going on now between his department and city officials, or anyone elected to the new municipal council, which involve discussions centring around the initiation of a single-tiered system, which would be introduced at some time in the near future?



DR. SMITH: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report to the House that I have met with Mayor-elect, Mr. Walter Fitzgerald. We have had a very cooperative meeting and we are looking forward to further negotiations.



Briefly, in addition, I will also say that senior staff have been meeting, ongoing, some of the municipal social service directors of the UNSM have been meeting. There are committees in place, they are addressing policy and other issues.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, would the minister be prepared to confirm that the negotiations that are going on between his department and city officials involve a single-tiered system that also involves a very significant municipal contribution, perhaps in the order of some $25 million, for the introduction of a single-tiered system here in metro?



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I have advised the House that we are moving with negotiations toward a single-tiered system. The funding formula would be determined through those negotiations.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



FIN.: PUBLIC SERVICE SUPERANNUATION FUND - UNFUNDED LIABILITY



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Finance. Back in November 1993, the then Minister of Human Resources announced the new early retirement plan. It was a shift, you may recall, to the 50/80 rule. She indicated at that time that it would save taxpayers $125 million. She also confirmed at the time that the public sector superannuation fund would bear the lion's share of the cost.



Mr. Speaker, we have now received the first actuarial report which shows, in fact, that the unfunded liability of the fund has increased from $16 million in 1992 to $135 million in 1995, an increase of $119 million, an increase of 843 per cent. That is just the first year of operation of the early retirement incentive plan. This has the makings of another Teachers' Pension Fund nightmare.



I want to ask the minister if he would explain, perhaps, to all members of this House what steps this government is taking to protect those people relying on the pension fund and taxpayers from the increasing unfunded liability of this government's making?



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member talks about an unfunded liability going from $16 million to whatever it was, $100 something odd million and a huge percentage increase. The fact of the matter is that that fund has in it assets, I think, of some $3.5 billion. So it is a relatively small amount of unfunding, even at its present levels.



We are monitoring it on an ongoing basis. We don't regard this as a matter of concern at this point in time and we believe that we can easily gain that back as we move forward with the investment policy.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, we have seen what has happened to unfunded liabilities at the hands of government, we have seen what happened with workers' compensation unfunded liability, we have seen what happened with the Teachers' Pension Fund, where government decisions have led to massive unfunded liabilities and a self-created crisis which has eventually resulted in a decrease in benefits, at the same time as higher rates and higher taxes.



I would like to ask the minister if he would not agree that it is time that the Auditor General and the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union be asked to immediately take responsibility for an immediate independent assessment of the impact on the public sector superannuation fund of the kind of downsizing, privatization and early retirement programs that we have seen this government carry forward in the first two and a half years of its mandate?



MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member can't distinguish between a $100 million unfunding in the superannuation fund of multibillion dollars and the situation in workers' compensation and the teachers' pension, then he is not going to be of much help in addressing the serious problems in this province. Let's be real about this.



[2:30 p.m.]



The Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, as well as the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, are intimately involved in the management of these funds. They serve on an ongoing basis on an advisory committee, meet regularly to review it, and I can tell the honourable member that we are confident that any minimal unfunding that occurs from time to time can easily be restored in the normal management practices.





MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the reality of what is happening right now is that there are additional costs, additional burdens, being placed on the public sector superannuation plan at the same time, through policies of this minister and this government, the numbers of people paying into that fund are decreasing. We have seen that in provisions in the Queen Elizabeth II bill and in the community colleges bill.



MR. SPEAKER: Now, please, let's not get off the track. Question, question!



MR. CHISHOLM: The fact is that less people are paying and, at the same time, the costs of that fund are increasing. As a responsible fiscal manager that the minister likes to suggest he is, . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I must have a question!



MR. CHISHOLM: . . . I would like to ask the minister, why will he not agree, in order that Nova Scotians feel that their interests are being properly protected in this matter, to ensure that an independent assessment be done of this fund and the policies of his government and the impact they are having on that fund?



MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, because, as with a number of other things this Party suggests, it would be a horrible waste of time and money. It is not something, by the way, that has been suggested by representatives from the unions involved who serve on that advisory committee. They believe, as far as I know - as we do - that this is a very small unfunding; it is routine and can be handled with the normal management practices.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



COMMUN. SERV. - HFX. REG. MUN.: SOCIAL ASSIST. - SINGLE-TIERED



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Community Services. A few minutes ago I asked the Minister of Community Services if there was a commitment to provide a single-tiered social assistance system in metro, and the minister very clearly said that there was no commitment. I read from yesterday's Hansard, when the minister was asked the same question by the Leader of the New Democratic Party, and the answer, yesterday, to that same question, was, "Mr. Speaker, quite simply, the commitment to have a single-tiered system to initiate, have running in place and working toward a full one-tiered system remains as we speak April 1, 1996. There has been no change to that.".



My question, then, to the minister, has the minister changed his mind since yesterday regarding the commitment of the government to provide that single-tiered system and, if not, would he explain his answer to me today?



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the matter is a simple matter that we, as a provincial government, have a commitment to have a one-tiered system in place on April 1, 1996. But as the honourable member knows, that will involve negotiations with the new municipal regional government which, at this time, has not even been sworn in. So, it would be impossible for me to take the full responsibility that there will be a system in place. I was trying to give as honest and straightforward an answer as I could.



There is a commitment on the part of this department and this government that we would work towards having a system in place on April 1, 1996. The fact that I could guarantee that at this time, as Minister of Community Services, is outside of my jurisdiction at this time.



DR. HAMM: By way of supplementary to the minister, is the type of system that the minister is proposing to initiate here in metro exactly similar to that which is in place in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality?



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the project that we call the Cape Breton pilot project is a two year agreement that we have with that particular municipal unit. We are using various programs, experimental in some aspects, if you will, and we will take the best from that particular system and what we are learning in other parts of the province. So the answer, simply, is no, it probably will not be similar; I hope it will be an improved and better system that we are working towards. This is all part of the phased in movement towards a one-tiered system throughout this province that this government has made.



DR. HAMM: The minister made reference to the Cape Breton project as being a two year pilot project. By way of final supplementary then to the minister, would the minister confirm if in fact - and I have only media reports to go on - has the minister made suggestions to officials in the new metro municipality that they would be required to provide part of the cost of the new, single-tiered system that this minister is proposing for the new metro municipality?



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the agreement that I have made with anyone that I have spoken with is that we will not discuss this matter in public. I know it would be the desire of the honourable member that he have all the information and his Party would be able to go and do all sorts of interventions at this juncture. I am sorry that he will just have to wait as to what that system will look like. Certainly with respect, there will have to be input from the regional municipal unit that hasn't been sworn in yet. I am sure that it will be a system that will work and meet the needs of this particular area, that we will move towards at this time, then over 60 per cent of the province will have a one-tiered system.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



HEALTH - PHARMACARE PROG.: ACTUARIAL STUDY - UPDATE



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the Minister of Health. On two previous occasions in this House, the Minister of Health was asked by the member for Cape Breton West to provide specifics with respect to the Pharmacare Program; in other words, how the department came up with the co-pay number, the amount, and how they came up with the credits for the Pharmacare Program. On both occasions, the first time to be exact was October 31, 1995, the minister agreed and, again, on December 6th, the minister agreed, but he did say that he was merely trying to put the information in as simple a form as possible.



I would ask the minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, will the minister make a commitment - we will take it, we will try to decipher it if it is too difficult - I wonder if the minister would make a commitment that today or tomorrow he would give us that information that his department used in coming up on the number that was used for the co-pay and the amount that was used for the credits? The minister has indicated he will make them available. Will the minister make a commitment today that we will see that package within the next couple of days?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I had pledged to do that as soon as my staff could provide me with it. I asked for a clarification of some of the issues in the first draft and I will do that as soon as possible, considering the holidays and other things that were pressing.



MR. MOODY: I appreciate that the staff, hopefully, will come back, we have been waiting two months, surely it won't take two more months. If the minister would check, I would appreciate that.



I would ask the minister - since the deadline for the seniors Pharmacare Program was extended first in October and then to the end of November, I believe - if he would provide me with a breakdown of the number of seniors who are enrolled in the program and the number of seniors who actually opted out of the program?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, that is available and I can do that as of this week, I believe.



MR. MOODY: Well, Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister. We are making progress, I am actually going to get something this week.



My final supplementary. I was called by a senior who indicated that when he wrote his cheque that it was deposited to an account, not the Nova Scotia Seniors Pharmacare Trust Fund but to an account called the Nova Scotia Seniors Trust Fund. The senior was concerned that since it wasn't designated as a Pharmacare Trust Fund, the funds might be used for something other than Pharmacare. I would ask the minister if, in actual fact, the trust fund is set up as the Nova Scotia Seniors Pharmacare Trust Fund or does it have some other name, as the example I gave, a cheque that had been deposited to the other account, would that minister clarify what kind of an exact trust fund we have?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, there was only one fund under the control of the seniors board and that is the Seniors Pharmacare Trust Fund. If that was omitted from the communications, I would certainly reassure the honourable member opposite, and his constituent, regarding that.



MR. SPEAKER: A new question, the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



URB - BUS TRAVEL (INTER-URBAN): EXCO COMM. - REPORT



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Fisheries, yes, he is with us.



MR. SPEAKER: He is right here.



MR. TAYLOR: My question is for the honourable Minister of Fisheries. One year ago today in the Legislature, I asked about a special transportation Cabinet committee that was appointed by the Premier to look at inter-urban bus travel in the province. The honourable member for Cumberland South, at that time, explained to me that the Minister of Fisheries was chairing that committee. Now, subsequent to this committee, we found out that in Parrsboro, bus line pulls out. We have seen in Yarmouth, bus service killed.



My question to the chairman - by the way, I have written to the chairman three times trying to get some information on some of the recommendations that this special transportation committee made - my question is simply this, keeping in mind that the lifeline to those communities, for some people, for seniors, for the disabled . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Please come to the question.



MR. TAYLOR: . . . for children, Mr. Speaker, and people who cannot afford cars or cannot get drivers' licenses, it is very important that the bus service be maintained.



MR. SPEAKER: Yes, it is.



MR. TAYLOR: Can the minister define to me what came about as a result of this special transportation Cabinet committee being appointed by the Premier? I would like to know why you haven't responded to any of my correspondence. (Interruption)



MR. SPEAKER: It is two questions, I agree.



HON. JAMES BARKHOUSE: Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Fisheries, I respond in the House to questions of the Department of Fisheries. I believe a matter such as this is an internal caucus committee, or Cabinet committee, I don't believe I am responsible for answering questions within the purview of the House, yet the question is a very important matter and maybe he would like to ask the Minister of Transportation.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, that could be. Would you care to redirect to the Minister of Transportation?



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I will redirect it to the Minister of Transportation but I would think that the chairman of the committee should be responsible. (Interruptions) Again, if the Minister of Transportation would care . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I would intervene here to point out that an internal committee of Cabinet is not a body that is answerable to the House. All deliberations of Cabinet are secret and are internal and confidential, as members who have served on the Executive Council will know. The honourable Minister of Transportation might well care to enlighten the House on these matters.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I believe the matter of bus transportation in the Province of Nova Scotia actually is under the responsibility of the Utility and Review Board which I believe falls under the purview of the Minister of Justice. (Laughter)



MR. SPEAKER: Is there a supplementary?



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, they can play ring around the rosie here, so to speak, but somebody should be accountable to the citizens in Parrsboro and the citizens in Yarmouth, the Municipality of Argyle. They have all seen their bus service end. So there is nobody responsible.



MR. SPEAKER: You have to direct your question to a specific minister.



MR. TAYLOR: I will direct my question to the Minister of Justice. I have been told the Minister of Justice is responsible. So, can the Minister of Justice tell us what the recommendation of this special transportation committee was relative to inter-bus service in the Province of Nova Scotia? We have seen the bus service decline and in some cases stop.



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member talks about a committee. He refers to the Minister of Fisheries being chairman of that committee. The Utility and Review Board is a quasi-judicial body, as the honourable member knows. It is at arm's length from government. It decides an application for changes in bus schedules and service and so on and so forth. I have no direct jurisdiction to tell the Utility and Review Board to make certain rulings in terms of preserving service or stopping service. The member talks about a committee. That is not a matter that comes under my jurisdiction. I think maybe what the honourable member might want to do, maybe he should contact the Chairman of the Utility and Review Board or the Utility and Review Board itself, the secretary to the board, and get an update on this matter and when there is another hearing, maybe he should appear before that board and present his views.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I could go to the Premier because the Premier appointed this special transportation Cabinet committee. The honourable member for Cumberland South said recently that no government subsidy should be implemented to keep a bus service in operation in Parrsboro. Now I am not going to support or reject that concept but I would like to ask the Premier what information - and I have Hansard here that indicates that you appointed the committee, Mr. Premier - did this special Cabinet committee bring back to you?



[2:45 p.m.]



HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the government has not rehearsed its act well here. I will undertake to find out what, if any, were the events that led to the finalization of this committee.



I think it is important that the answer be given to the member opposite because rural bus service is of importance to all of us. I undertake that we will look into it and you will get a report, sir.



MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



URB - BUS TRAVEL (INTER-URBAN): EXCO COMM. - CHAIRMAN



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable Premier, could the Premier tell this House and all Nova Scotians who the chairman of this special transportation Cabinet committee is or was?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that there is some information flying around that may be called misinformation. All I can tell you is that this committee met, that it had some deliberations and, as I have undertaken to do, I will let you know the results of that. Perhaps you could be patient enough to wait until we find that out.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, reading from Hansard of one year ago today, the Premier - just briefly and with your indulgence, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: Not a whole chapter, just one verse.



MR. TAYLOR: No, not a whole chapter. I wonder if the Premier could tell the House, because very clearly the member for Cumberland South said that the committee did meet, I wonder if the Premier can tell us who was present and when did this special Cabinet committee meet? The Premier can't tell us.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, the Premier is not answerable to the House for what takes place in Cabinet.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, what I am trying to convey to the Premier is that he appointed a special transportation Cabinet committee. I am, quite frankly, questioning the value of that Cabinet committee because we have seen the bus service in Parrsboro and in Yarmouth cease. What I want to know is, has this special transportation Cabinet committee reported back to Cabinet yet?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is obviously unrealistic to expect me to ask of all the committees we appoint, whether they be for the one in Guysborough, the special Cabinet committee in Guysborough that meet so consistently, or whether it is of other committees. But because of the spirit of the motion yesterday put forward by the Leader of the Opposition, I will undertake to find out. I guess you will just have to wait until I am able to do that. So perhaps you could contain yourself until I get the information for you. I am willing to do that, in the spirit of cooperation.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of cooperation, is the Premier concerned for the seniors and the disabled persons . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I don't think that kind of question is fair.



MR. TAYLOR: . . . and the people who can't get a driver's license. Mr. Speaker, it is a very important question because in . . .



MR. SPEAKER: We are all concerned for the seniors, rural people.



MR. TAYLOR: . . . Parrsboro they have no transportation to Amherst, they have no transportation to Truro and, Mr. Speaker, the Premier should be cognizant of that fact.



What I am asking the Premier is simply this, is the Premier aware of the concern in the community of Parrsboro?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the cheap insinuations that the member is unable to speak without does not put one in a position where you can insinuate that the plight of particular people are unimportant to me. I would venture to say with all modesty that they are of a great deal more concern to me than they are to you.



What I am prepared to do is to find out for you. I am rapidly taxing the modest approach that I made just now. It is becoming rather taxed by the irreconcilable hostility that beams out from that member. It is very distressing in that mood that we thought was created by his Leader. We want to work with you, as we have indicated. That kind of approach is very important.



Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to find this out and give it to him. I hope and pray that he can wait.



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



ERA - YARMOUTH-BAR HARBOR FERRY: WINTER SERVICE - MAINTAIN



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would also like to go to the Premier on another topic. I would like to return to the issue of the MV Bluenose ferry one time today. In today's news report it has, "Privatize Bluenose ferry - Savage", as a headline. It says that according to the Premier, "The only way to save the Bluenose ferry run between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor, Me., is for government to abandon the service altogether,"; the Premier wants it privatized.



My question really to the Premier, of course through you, Mr. Speaker - the Premier wants a copy of the article so I will send it across to him - is, why is it the Premier and his government have chosen to abandon the fight to get the federal government to maintain its involvement and to maintain this vital transportation service in favour of defending and echoing the federal Transport Minister's decision to shut it down?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think the quotation is taken out of context. What we were referring to in the non-replacement is that the federal government has indicated that it does not want to replace the existing ferry. The issue that I would raise with you is the one that I have raised before: we are seeking by a patient and careful process to examine all of the options. That is exactly what is taking place. The various options, whether they relate to one or three or four companies, are being studied. The issue of subsidization is one that we will have to look at when we get there and I am very careful to say that. We understand the importance of this link to the people of the southwest and I think we have indicated not just a new-found interest in this, as other members on the other side may have done, but a long-standing interest that we are prepared to work with the members of Yarmouth to try to get a solution.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I won't talk about cheap shots. I hear the Premier saying that it needs careful, cautious consideration. Maybe that means there will be another Cabinet committee struck.



In the article the Premier was inferring that the federal government won't be around and certainly that it will not be as reliable as a private operator. We have already heard some discussion today about the private bus operator in Cumberland County, a private operator who had agreed to provide a service to those communities for the long term but then chose to walk away and did walk away because the profits were not there to sustain the operation of that. My question to the Premier is, as he is looking at his various options, what will prevent the Premier's preferred option of a private operator from shutting down or moving a vessel, if they find one to go in as a private operation, move it away from that route if they find that the profits are not there and/or if they can find a greater profit somewhere else using that vessel? Remember, their primary concern is their bottom line and their shareholders, not the interests of the residents who live in those communities and the businesses that depend upon that.



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I find it passing strange that in one breath he condemns the government for getting out of it, which is what he has done for so long, and is now prepared to condemn, before they have even had an option, the private sector from looking at it. It is a perfectly obvious fact, certainly obvious to most of us who have anything to do with business, that they will do this if they make a profit. That is the way the world runs. Whether or not that requires a subsidy is an issue for another day when the first issue is settled.



I hate to think that well-meaning efforts, particularly by people like Jerry Boudreau and the committee down there who are working very hard to look at the various options through the minister - and I apologize for the absence of the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency but as you know, he has probably gone down to Mr. Stirling's funeral and has obviously our blessing for that - it is perfectly obvious that we want to work with the companies that may be providing a solution. All I can say is, just be patient, but let's not be condemnatory of the private sector, having spent much of the previous time being condemnatory of the government for closing it down.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am not condemning the private sector. We all know how the private sector works and it is vital. They operate on the basis of profit. It would appear, however, that the Premier, like the federal Transport Minister, doesn't believe in maintaining that vital transportation link. While the Premier is carefully considering it, that private sector, many of those businesses are going to be losing money, jobs are going to be lost. Obviously, the Premier doesn't believe that it is a public responsibility to ensure that that is being maintained.



My question to the Premier is quite simply this, why did the Premier and his government try to lead the businesses and the people of southwestern Nova Scotia into believing that they would stand behind the report that they paid for and be fighting and insisting upon the federal government maintaining its presence in keeping that ferry in operation?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, I lost track of the question because it was about four paragraphs long. The issue that I would put before this House is that I have worked for this ferry. (Applause) I have worked for it. I have had two meetings with the Minister of Transport. I have conveyed with quite open frankness the view that we feel about the loss of this and the fact that we need a solution.



I think we should, however, wait until we see what happens before firing off with a whole load of what amount to blanks, posturing. The question that he avoids all the time, and it is one, I suppose, that they are used to avoiding because they don't have to take responsibility, the question is, what is the proposal that they would like, that they would prefer. It would be always interesting to hear if the New Democratic Party ever has an option except criticizing the private sector.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



TRANSPORT. - YARMOUTH-BAR HARBOR FERRY:

WINTER SERVICE - PRIME MINISTER CONTACT



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Premier and it is also on the matter of the Motor Vessel Bluenose. The Premier puts the question to the last questioner, what would you do? Well, the Premier has been told on numerous occasions, at least by the Official Opposition, as to what he should do. He should pick up the phone and phone his friend Jean, and say, Jean, we need help; keep the ferry going for another year while we have an opportunity to put in place either a private sector proposal or else (Interruptions) determine if indeed the province can support (Interruption) the ferry. So my question to the Premier, has he phoned the Prime Minister of this country yet, with regard to the MV Bluenose?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, pardon me if I address the issue in a somewhat roundabout way. It doesn't seem to me to be so long ago since a frantic Premier down here made no headway with lighthouses, made no headway with the other issues like the railways that were checked out by the previous government. So here we have - and I use the word advisedly - the caterwauling of people who believe that there is one great stroke that you can exercise. Their record of exercising that stroke was futile. What we do is we pay attention to the problem. We pay attention to the problem by addressing the issue which is one of finding a method of seeing whether we can provide transportation. (Interruptions) The issue, . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please everyone, order.



THE PREMIER: . . . the issue, Mr. Speaker, and I hate the demeaning of this issue by the kind of arguments that flow across, this is a major issue to us, it is a major issue to the people of southwestern Nova Scotia. We will work with them and we will do what we possibly can as a small province.



I have never concealed the dislike of the policies of the federal government on this issue. I have made it quite clear from the beginning. But there are ways of doing things. They do not involve going to the Prime Minister. They involve sensible approaches with business first and then it is a process. The idea of hysterically baying every time by going to the top, a fact and a process which obviously never served them very well, is one that we do not do until we need to, Sir.



MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could suggest to the Premier that his companion Premier, just across the border in New Brunswick, would have had no compunction at all about immediately getting hold of the Prime Minister. I understand that the Premier is going on a voyage to India with the Prime Minister in the next day or two. Perhaps he could talk across the cabin way or the aisle way to the Prime Minister and ask him. All you have to do, Mr. Premier, is ask. If he says no, okay, you know where you stand; but you haven't asked. Premiers talk to the Prime Ministers . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Please address the Speaker.



MR. RUSSELL: . . . and ministers talk to ministers. My question to the Premier, is he aware of the catastrophic loss of business that will be encountered in southwestern Nova Scotia and how many people are going to be facing unemployment lines or welfare because of the absolute lack of interest of this Premier in the concerns of the people in southwestern Nova Scotia?



[3:00 p.m.]



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this new-found, incoherent interest that suddenly arrives on the Tories' back benches has been very well demonstrated by the member for Yarmouth who spoke of these johnnies-come-lately, so to speak, who arrive on this. When I was up there at the time talking to the Minister of Transportation, they suddenly discovered a portion of the province called Yarmouth and the southeast counties.



Mr. Speaker, we know the way to work at this; we will not be boxed in by the kind of innuendo and silly remarks, advice from people whose advice is worth precious little at the best of times. What we are prepared to do is to respond to the question in kind, and if the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley was listening instead of lying asleep he might have understood that a little better.



The issue that I raise and the issue that I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, is that we are dealing with this problem and we will not get drawn into silly arguments as to when or if the Prime Minister should be consulted; I will decide that.



MR. RUSSELL: Well, I am certainly glad my life didn't depend on the Premier doing something. Will the Premier give a guarantee to the people of southwestern Nova Scotia today that there will be a ferry in service some time before the end of this month of January 1996?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the volume that is employed by the Opposition reminds me of the great short message that a great Tory colleague of his, Sir Winston Churchill, used to say. When Mr. Churchill had little that was of any value, there was a piece of notepaper stuck in front of him which said, content low, volume high. It is just a simple recommendation. (Interruptions) Well I thought, as it was a Tory talking to a Tory, you might be interested in it. (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: Please, let's have the volume low.



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it's perfectly obvious where the content is. The issue that I will continue to address is the issue of a service for the people of southwestern Nova Scotia, and I will not be drawn into, tempting or otherwise, the kind of opportunities until we have looked at them all carefully. Then we will talk with the people of southwestern Nova Scotia, and then we may let the Tories know as well.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



FIN. - CASINOS: FINANCIAL REPORT - EQUITY REPAYMENT



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation. The minister recently released - it was before Christmas - a schedule of the operating results for a three-month period which ended in September 1995. In that report - the minister is very familiar with it - in a portion on the Sydney operation under Debt and Equity Repayments, was an amount of $358,372. This debt and equity repayment was returned, I assume, to ITT Sheraton as a return on their investment. I would ask the minister, what is meant by equity repayments? I understand what I think debt repayments are, but who was it made to and how is the equity part of that repayment arrived at?



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, rather than answer the honourable member's question off the top of my head, I would certainly take the question on notice and provide him with the more detailed type of information that he requires. However, the investment by ITT Sheraton, the capital investment in the Sydney operation was in the range of $26 million.



MR. MOODY: Thank you and I appreciate the minister getting the details back to me. I would ask the minister, is the equity and debt repayment a floating or a fixed amount? I look at the Halifax operation and for the first month of operation, 30 days, the debt and equity repayments is $553,000-odd, where if you go for a 90 day, you would think it would be three times that amount, when in actual fact 90 days is over $2 million for a debt and equity repayment.



I wonder if the minister could indicate whether or not the debt and equity repayments are obviously floating - in other words, they are not constant - could the minister indicate to me why the debt and equity is not a fixed amount?



MR. BOUDREAU: If I understand it, this question relates to the Halifax casino, whereas the first one . . .



MR. MOODY: Sydney.



MR. BOUDREAU: Well, again let me respond in the same way and take the question on notice, so that I don't give inaccurate information. I will provide that information quite directly.



MR. MOODY: Thank you very much. I am quite surprised, the minister is usually well informed on these issues and I am surprised he hasn't got the details but I appreciate the fact that he will get them.



I would ask the minister if he could indicate to me - and go back to Sydney now, we went to Halifax but back to Sydney - what would prevent, after looking at what has happened in Halifax where the amount has changed, ITT Sheraton from fixing the amount of quarterly debt and equity repayment, say at the Sydney casino, so in actual fact there would be no profit shown, obviously the more revenues if that debt and equity actually goes higher but in actual fact for the native band councils and the non-profit organizations it could be quite a while before they see any line of profit at all. In other words, it is not fixed. Would the minister indicate that, in actual fact, this could happen?



MR. BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, all of the accounting decisions and presentations are reviewed in great detail by officials and professionals within the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation. All of these things are conducted under the terms of generally accepted accounting principles. It is not a matter of them picking out a figure one month and adjusting it as they see fit.



MR. MOODY: It does change?



MR. BOUDREAU: Yes, the honourable member indicated that it has changed with respect to the figures that were presented in both reports and, quite frankly, I am going to have to ask why that is, but I am quite certain I will provide you with a satisfactory answer.



MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable member for Queens.



FISH. - DFO: SALMON HATCHERIES - FUTURE RESPONSE



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Fisheries. The salmon sport fishery in Atlantic Canada has an economic value of something in the order of $6 billion. It is a very important economic activity, particularly for communities along the Margaree River and along the St. Mary's River in Nova Scotia. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, on behalf of the Government of Canada, has announced that it intends to divest itself of the salmon hatcheries in Atlantic Canada, indeed on the Pacific Coast as well.



I must assume that it is the position of this government that that is not a wise step for the Government of Canada to take. My question to the Minister of Fisheries is, what action has his department and, more particularly, what action has he himself taken, with respect to convincing the Department of Fisheries and Oceans not to abandon the federal salmon hatcheries and associated facilities in Nova Scotia?



HON. JAMES BARKHOUSE: Mr. Speaker, I inform the member opposite that the department staff, hopefully, in the very near future, will be in discussions with the federal representatives, I think it is Dr. Ritter, in discussions about the disposition of these hatcheries.



MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, well with respect to Dr. Ritter, I have here and I will table this document, a photocopy of a communication from Marie Daigle in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Moncton to Daisy Johnson, DFO Moncton. The document references a meeting in which Dr. Ritter took part in Cardigan, P.E.I.



It is noted in the document that, "The local MLA, . . .", I would assume that is the MLA for Cardigan in the Prince Edward Island Legislature, ". . . speaking on behalf of the provincial government, . . .", that is the Government of Prince Edward Island, ". . . indicated there was agreement among provincial ministers that no hatchery would be divested ahead of the other.". I wonder if the minister could confirm that this is, in fact, correct, that there is an agreement among provincial ministers that no hatchery will be divested ahead of any other hatchery?



MR. BARKHOUSE: Mr. Speaker, I can't be certain of that statement, I am not sure who the member for Cardigan is. We have had discussions at our provincial ministers meetings and I believe the issue may have been discussed a year ago in Victoria, but that particular statement, I have no recollection of that. I would have to look at the statement and check the records and we would get back to the member opposite in due time.



MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my final question to the minister, the Government of Canada constitutionally has responsibility for salmon conservation, as indeed it does for all fish. My question to the minister is this. With the federal government having that responsibility, and understanding that today, in 1996, the principle means of ensuring salmonic enhancement is by means of hatcheries, has the minister himself or has he in conjunction with the Minister of Justice taken any action to examine whether there is a constitutional argument which the Province of Nova Scotia may be able to successfully exercise to force the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to continue to provide this absolutely essential service for salmonic enhancement for Canadians?



MR. BARKHOUSE: Mr. Speaker, there are, I understand, four federally operated hatcheries in the province, costing them about $750,000 a year, I believe, to operate these four hatcheries. It is fully in the purview at the present time. In an earlier answer to a question some weeks ago, I stated that the federal government has given notice that they planned to do something by the year 1999 and divest them either to the private sector, to the province or to somebody that will share in the operation. Those discussions are ongoing and I believe some positive resolution will take place some time in the future but at this time my staff have been instructed to work and negotiate with the federal government with respect to those matters.



MR. SPEAKER: A new question. The honourable member for Cape Breton West.



TRANSPORT. - SYDNEY FORKS: SCHALLER DR. - PAVE



MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Transportation. As the minister well knows the residents of Schaller Drive in the Sydney Forks area are very concerned over the condition of their road. In October of last year the minister had the chance to visit that area and see the conditions of the road firsthand. I think the minister is also aware that this road intersects with Highway No. 4 and has quite an incline leading away from it. At different times residents of this road have come down over the hill and have slid right over the main highway, Highway No. 4, and at different times even the department's own truck plows have had problems staying on the road.



I was wondering if the minister could provide the people of Schaller Drive an indication as to when this road will be paved and brought up to a respectable driving condition?



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I did have an opportunity to visit the area at the request of area residents. It is quite a well maintained road and in very good condition for an unpaved road. At this time, no, I cannot indicate when the road will be paved.



MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Transportation, it is my understanding that with a subdivision road that has not been paved in the first 15 years of its existence, the minister has the authority to bypass the normal funding that is put in place between his department and the municipalities and can go ahead and pave such a road on his own initiative. Is the minister considering such an initiative?



MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, any subdivision road listed by the Department of Transportation in the province is cost-shared on a 50/50 basis for capital work for the 15 years and then it becomes 100 per cent the responsibility of the Department of Transportation and Communications. The engineers for the department were requested by me on several occasions, when it first came to my attention, about six months later, again at the request of residents, to go in and to take a look at Schaller Drive, to look at the condition of it and to see how it fared compared to other roads in the coverage area. The engineers reported back on each and every occasion that it is not the priority of the department. The housing density is significantly less than other roads that are and have been done in the area. It is not rated as a top priority by the engineering staff. If the member opposite thinks there should be political interference to override that engineering advice, then he should say so or perhaps he and I could discuss that.



MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my final question, again to the Minister of Transportation. A Department of Transportation grader has spent a considerable amount of time there in the last year maintaining this road, somewhere between 12 and 14 trips to that area, at a rate of about six hours per visit by the grader, at a considerable cost, I am sure. The question is to the Minister of Transportation. Would this money not be better spent towards paving a road that has been in the community for a long period of time, which also presents a safety hazard to the people living on that road, rather than leaving it unpaved and unsafe for the residents who live on Schaller Drive?



MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, I think the fact that the honourable member referenced how many times a grader has been to the road, would indicate that they are receiving a high quality service in that area. Certainly, it is not uncommon for a grader to visit an unpaved road in the spring of the year to take out ruts, bumps and potholes that have occurred over the winter months and to then go again at the right time of the year, the optimum time, to again grade the road to have the calcium chloride for dust control.



That has to be done at the right time to ensure that the chloride lasts in the road and is able to pull moisture from the air and control dust for a period of months after it is done. It is not uncommon if you have a dry summer to have the grader go in another few times to do grading and it is again done several times in the fall to try and get the road in reasonably good shape for the winter months that will come ahead.





[3:15 p.m.]



As I indicated, I have given this very sincere consideration. I have requested a briefing note from engineering staff, the district director included, on several occasions. I have discussed it with the member opposite, I have discussed it with county councillors, I have gone to visit it personally and the report keeps coming back the same. The road is in good condition, that it doesn't meet the criteria that other roads in the area do because of housing density and other matters. Other roads have been in much worse condition for a longer period of time. It would be nice if we had the money to pave all of the roads and get rid of the graders so we didn't have to grade them. We don't have that much money, we are attempting to set priorities and will continue to do that and the people of Schaller Drive, while they may not like it at this time, they can be satisfied with the assurance that the road will continue to be judged on its merits, relative to other requests and relative to the availability of funds.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



COMMUN. SERV. - LUNENBURG FAMILY AND CHILDREN'S SERVICES:

REVIEW RECOMMENDATIONS - FULFIL



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Community Services. Would the minister confirm whether or not the Advisory Committee on the Children and Family Services Act is, in fact, monitoring the department's activities in relation to the Lunenburg review and, particularly, the fulfilment of the recommendations of that review?



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, yes. This is a question that is somewhat similar to yesterday where, as I recall, the honourable member asked, would the Advisory Committee on the Children and Family Services Act be monitoring. That goes back to the initial report of the Children and Family Services Agency of Lunenburg County, relative to that report.



That was a recommendation or there was some indication that that group initially would be doing that. In turn, later, that group felt that there may well be a conflict of interest if they were involved in doing that so another group was struck of which that group, in fact, I may even be able to have that tabled later this week so that honourable members could see it. I think it goes back to yesterday, if I recall, statements that were made relative to a commitment to that group. That was felt not to be the proper route to go and that another group was designed for that.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer. The minister had and I have a copy here of remarks that he made in December 1994 on the release of the Lunenburg review report. Part of those remarks include, "Finally, to hold our department accountable and to assure the public that we are committed to strengthening child protection services across this province, I have asked the Minister's Advisory Committee on the Children and Family Service Act to monitor and publicly report on the department's progress in implementing the review team's recommendations.".



The minister has indicated that they felt that they were not the appropriate body. My question to the minister is then, would he outline the make up of the committee which he has involved in this process to replace the function that he was to assign to the advisory committee? Would he outline the make up of the committee that is carrying out that function of monitoring the department's activities?



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I don't have an exact list here. As I mentioned, I will be tabling this report, hopefully, even some time this week where the full members to that report will be identified. It is a diversified group, it is not only an in-house Department of Community Services group, there are members from other agencies representing clients and others. So it is a diverse group, as the member will see when the report is tabled.



MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary question? There is not.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



HEALTH: WAITING LISTS - COMPOSITION



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Health. We have been talking now for some weeks, in fact months, about waiting lists for surgery and the impact that they can have on the people involved. We had an example today that was reported in one of the local newspapers of an individual who waited for up to 18 months, I believe, it was a year and one-half, for orthopaedic surgery. According to the report, both surgeons and hospital officials indicated that the delay was because of government budget limits, because of not only the serious nature of the surgery but also the expense of the equipment involved.



I would like to ask the minister if he perhaps would explain that this is in all indications an example of some of the effects of his limits, of the budget limits that have been applied to hospitals for these kinds of procedures and would he not agree that, in fact, in a case like this, because of those financial restrictions, . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Is there a question?



MR. SPEAKER: The call for a question is certainly a very fair call. I can't make any question at all out of this. It is like a sermon.



MR. CHISHOLM: I was just about to ask my question and I certainly don't appreciate the Minister of Transportation being in such a hurry, Mr. Speaker. It is a very serious matter and I am trying to phrase my question in a way . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Please come to that question, whatever it is.



MR. CHISHOLM: . . . that will allow the Minister of Health to deal with it. I would like to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, would he not, in fact, explain why it is that individuals that in this case, obviously have the greatest need for orthopaedic surgery, are likely the ones who must wait the longest for it?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, as I have said before in my place, and I have repeatedly tried to make the point, especially with the honourable member opposite, that waiting lists vary in this province. There is no standard waiting list around the province simply because we haven't managed the system. I would suggest that the honourable member should agree that if we do more procedures in a given year, or in a given quarter, then I would suggest that equipment and resources are available and we have done that. I repeatedly have made that point.





It is unfortunate that anyone would have to wait for any length of time with pain for any procedure but there are cases - and I can't be specific - but the honourable member realizes that there are cases quoted, as he quotes and we would have to have a very close look at those reasons and why that was. I can just simply say that we are providing resources to do procedures and we are looking very closely at the results of those procedures and the resources we give.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, this is again an example of how these waiting lists have an impact, both social and economic as well as health, to those people involved. This minister has been in charge for two and one-half years now . . .



MR. SPEAKER: That is not a question.



MR. CHISHOLM: . . . and he has indicated to us that he will be providing members of this House with a waiting list with the information that he has been collecting or his department has been collecting since he has been in charge. We have still to receive such information, Mr. Speaker, and I would ask the minister if the members of this House have any hope whatsoever of receiving the detailed data that his department has been collecting on waiting lists for surgery in the Province of Nova Scotia?



DR. STEWART: As I have repeatedly said, Mr. Speaker, this government and this ministry are dedicated to the collection of data, the analysis of data, to ensure that reforms are properly managed. We continue to do that. My staff is preparing that document to which I referred, the report, and I will table it. I will discuss it in public when I receive it.



The honourable gentleman opposite must realize that up until now we have had no system in place for data collection or analysis with trends for anything in this province except for public health issues and I have pledged to that. My staff continues to do that and our computer systems will be, and have been, programmed to collect these data. I will share it when it is possible to do so in a reasonable way that will be both understood by everyone and also, that it was reproducible and that it will show trends. I, again, will do just that.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me just say that this same data collection process the minister has been talking about has been in existence for at least two years now and we have still to receive the results. It might as well not exist if people are not going to have the opportunity to review and benefit from that information.



Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister if, in fact, he would not agree that common sense would dictate that when you are reducing hospital resources that you manage waiting lists effectively, especially in cases where surgery has the opportunity to turn life around for an individual who is waiting for such important surgery. Does that not make sense to the minister, that while hospital resources are being reduced, that there be a better allocation of resources in order that those waiting lists do not get out of hand?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the assumption that the honourable gentleman opposite is making is an incorrect assumption; it means that when you throw resources at something, something happens, and that is not the case. In fact, if he reads the article to its full, he will see that the medical director of the hospital says we are doing more procedures than we have done before, and we are doing it with more efficiency of operation, and we will continue to do that. In fact, there are ways that we can improve that; we can do better, and we can do better, in fact, fairly easily. He says that in the article.



I would challenge the honourable member opposite to say, if we are doing more procedures - in particular procedures such as knee replacement or hip replacement - this year than we were doing two or three years ago, and we are doing them in a shorter period of time, if that were the case, would he not agree that that is, indeed, a measure of some of the success that we have talked about in terms of health reform? I would ask this honourable member to bear with us until we gather these data, because these are important data to which he refers, and I am very open to suggestions in terms of how we can better present those data. So, I would suggest that waiting lists and all of the issues surrounding health care reform must be monitored carefully, and we are doing that at the moment.



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



TRANSPORT.: ENFIELD ELEM. SCHOOL - CROSSWALK LIGHTS



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Transportation and Communications. The minister may or may not be aware of a controversy at the present time in Enfield and the issue of flashing lights and whether they should be installed at the Enfield Elementary School crosswalk. The Municipality of East Hants, along with Tri-County Crime Prevention Association, has been pressuring officials in the minister's department for the installation of a flashing light. The minister's department has assessed the cost at around $5,000 - others have suggested that the cost could be less - I wonder if the minister can advise the House as to whether or not his department will be installing lights at this crosswalk?



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I don't think I can answer that specifically; we get a lot of requests in the department for the installation of flashing lights, among other things, and there are predetermined criteria put in place to determine when such measures are warranted. Any request is taken very seriously, because it does involve safety, and the traffic engineering staff would be assigned to take stock of the situation, to apply the warrants, apply the predetermined criteria to determine if and when flashing lights would be applied.



I can take the specific case under advisement. I know that some correspondence has passed my desk recently and we have given directive for the determinations to be made. I can't answer it specifically today, but I will certainly look at it for the member. The member for Hants East has been very aggressive in pursuing several of these matters as well, and I have significant correspondence from him, as well as from Hants County Council on this. But I could look under this one specifically for the member.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that undertaking, because Colchester-East Hants School Board is also involved and, of course, the municipality and the province.



While we are on the subject of flashing lights, at the intersection of the Highway No. 102 interchange at Elmsdale, where it intersects with Route 214 or the Belnan Road and the Elmsdale shopping mall, Wilson's gas bar is there and Sobeys and so on, Mr. Speaker. It is a very busy intersection. There have been and continue to be an above average number of accidents and near brushes with death. Does the Department of Transportation have any plans to install and has the Department of Transportation been requested to install traffic lights at this intersection, or has the department done any surveys relative to the accidents at that terribly dangerous intersection?





[3:30 p.m.]



I appreciate that that is a difficult situation there, because of the interchange and traffic trying to get off and so on and so forth, but something should be done there. Does the department have any plans to undertake some initiative relative to alleviating the accidents?



MR. MANN: Absolutely, Mr. Speaker, and again at the request of the member for Hants East, we have stepped up the (Interruption) Well, you might have some over here but he has been on this for a long time, a lot longer than some of the johnnies-come-lately again.



Mr. Speaker, the responsibility at the intersection, because of the permit granted some years ago to have an entrance to a shopping mall here, rests with the owners of the shopping mall. We have applied many times, numerous times in the past two and a half years since I have been here, the criteria to see if this situation requires traffic lights. Each time, although the warrants and the points system are getting extremely close, it has not yet. Because of the accident history, I have directed that this matter be resolved and be resolved favourably towards the creation or the establishment of traffic lights or the installation of traffic lights at this location. Because of the accident history, I think it has gone far enough.



We have, as recently as five or six days ago, met with the owners of the shopping mall to explain to them quite clearly, that traffic lights will be going in there. We anticipate that they will accept their responsibility in this matter and go good for the cost. However, we will see, and I have directed that traffic lights are to be installed at that location.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that response. By way of final supplementary, through you of course to the minister, on the evening of December 13th I am told that the RCMP, despite calls to the Department of Transportation in Sackville, could not get any response after traffic lights failed at the Beaverbank Connector on the Old Sackville Road. I am told that the RCMP were seeking assistance from the department to come out and help set up warning signs and things of that nature. They could get no response whatsoever for some 45 minutes, after trying. The end result was that an accident eventually did happen.



I wonder if the minister can tell us if this was ever brought to his attention? If so, can he assure the residents of this area and, in fact, the many visitors into Sackville, there is no need for concern about this happening any more? If it hasn't, then will you look into this matter?



MR. SPEAKER: All right, the honourable member was clearly reading from a document. Would you be so kind as to table it? Thank you.



MR. MANN: No, Mr. Speaker, this has not been brought to my attention by the RCMP or by anyone else. However, I take these matters very seriously and will check into it. It is not uncommon for traffic lights to fail, because of any number of reasons, electrical, mechanical or whatever. Certainly we will look into this.



I would encourage anyone that the moment they come across any matter that is an unsafe condition, there are 1-800 numbers which are advertised in the papers and which have been circulated to each and every MLA to report unsafe conditions, road conditions which may not be as good as we would like to see them, to seek information. Those numbers have been advertised and circulated. We take these matters very seriously.



This has not, at any time, been brought to my attention but now that it has been, I will certainly look into it. Perhaps the member would provide me with the date and any other details that he has.



MR. SPEAKER: Would you table that document? If you could table the document it would meet the need.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the question . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Oh, I see, I thought you were reading a police accident report or something. All right, fine.



The honourable member for Pictou West.



TRANSPORT. - HFX. INTERNAT. AIRPORT AUTH.: MEMBERSHIP - INPUT



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Transportation as well. The federal Minister of Transport a few days before Christmas announced the appointment of members to the new Halifax International Airport Authority Board. Concern has been expressed over the last couple of days by individuals and also by certain groups about who was appointed. One of the main concerns expressed was the fact that there was nobody appointed to represent the tourism industry of this province.



Can the minister tell me if his officials or the government were asked for any input into the make up of that new Airport Authority Board?



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, approximately one year ago we were asked to make one recommendation for an appointment to the board, it was indicated at that time that the federal government would be making all the appointments based on recommendations but they would have direct representatives, the province would have one nominee, the Cities of Halifax and Dartmouth, and the county, perhaps some of the representative groups, the Board of Trade, the Chamber of Commerce. I believe the tourist groups are actually represented in some of the bodies that do make appointments to the board.



Now, I read the article as well. The Minister, Doug Young, just prior to Christmas, did not, I don't think, name the board. What he did, he introduced the board at the signing ceremony at Halifax International. The Department of Transportation made one recommendation, approximately, one year ago. I believe we actually made the first recommendation for the board.



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I did intend to ask the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency this question but I will stay with the Minister of Transportation because I know the minister is at a funeral and I understand that.



Will the minister contact the federal government, or the minister, to see if in actual fact whether tourism could be represented on that board, that they could reconstruct the board and have a representative? Tourism is a most important industry in this province. It is going to reach $1 billion and I think it is important that Nova Scotia have a tourism representative on that board.





MR. MANN: Well, Mr. Speaker, I will take that under advisement and perhaps discuss it with the minister responsible for tourism. I did note in the column in the newspaper where Judith Cabrita from TIANS, the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, did indicate that even though there may not be a representative directly from tourism on the board, that she certainly anticipated working with the board and working with the authority to continue to promote tourism and advance it as much as it can. I will speak to the Minister responsible for Tourism and see if he wants to make that representation.



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's answer. A representative from TIANS did say that she would be working with them but I still think that it is a very important industry and certainly a lot of tourists come through that airport. I think we should look at it.



Again, to the Minister of Transportation, the Transport Canada study recently pointed out that the Halifax International Airport, which is the seventh largest airport in Canada needs about $100 million in renovations to properly handle traffic over the next coming years. Your federal counterpart, the Honourable Doug Young, said that they will have to come up with the ways of raising the money. $100 million, that is a lot of money.



Mr. Young suggested that a tax may be put on some form of user pay system. Is the Minister of Transportation prepared to meet with the honourable federal minister to talk about precise roles of the airport authority in an attempt to ensure that they are on an even playing field when they do assume control of operating that airport?



MR. MANN: Already have, Mr. Speaker. The member opposite, I guess, should understand that we may have a provincial nominee on the board, as do others, and they are empowered as a result of the signing of the letter of intent, just before Christmas at the airport, to negotiate a deal with the federal government to become a local airport authority and assume the responsibility for running the Halifax International Airport.



That group, under the Chair of, I believe, Jim Radford, has served in an advisory capacity up until that time of being officially identified and introduced as the negotiating team as the board that will negotiate. I have made representation to Doug Young. I had the opportunity to speak at the signing ceremony in which, once again, I reminded the minister of the significant needs on the capital side at Halifax International and encouraged the negotiating team under the Chair, Mr. Radford, to make sure as they sit down and negotiate that that remain uppermost in their minds, and do what they can to ensure that Halifax receive the same treatment as other international airports across this country have received from the federal government prior to them being under the control of a local airport authority.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



PRIOR. & PLANNING: DEREGULATION - COMM.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. There is a piece of paper on circulation today which deals with a combined program between the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency and the Minister of Finance, with regard to streamlining and cutting forms and red tape generally from applications to the government. My question is to the Minister of Finance as Chairman of the Priorities and Planning Committee. Does P & P have a committee which is continually overseeing deregulation; in other words, going through existing regulations and determining what regulations are no longer applicable and having those removed from the books?



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the answer to that is yes. The responsibility for the whole process of program review, which involves, as of necessity, review of regulations and dealing with those regulations and, indeed, government restructuring, generally falls under the purview of the Priorities and Planning Committee.



MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the Minister of Finance can advise the House and the people of Nova Scotia as to how many less regulations we have in this year of 1996 than we had, say, in January of 1994? My understanding is that we have more regulation today in 1996 than we had back in 1994 or 1993.



MR. BOUDREAU: I don't think the honourable member seriously expects me to give him numbers on that but in point of fact, we are not interested in doing anything other than a comprehensive review. There are some regulations that are obviously required and there will always be new regulations that come into force. The ability to access that information, those regulations, to deal with them effectively and in a user friendly manner, this is an area that can stand great improvement and it is one of the priorities of our government.



MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would have a number of supplementaries but unfortunately, I guess, I haven't got them.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, you can take a new question afterwards if you wish.



MR. RUSSELL: Let me simply ask the question then, would the minister concur that deregulation probably has a higher priority than form simplification or perhaps even of tax reduction insofar as the private sector is concerned, so that they can get on with the job of creating jobs?



MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I think perhaps the honourable member narrows it too much. I think what we are talking about here is making Nova Scotia more competitive, a more competitive environment for business. Now part of that will involve simplifying regulations, making whatever regulations that are necessary more comprehensible, more user friendly but that is only part of it, part of it is tax reduction as well.



If we are to create jobs in the years ahead - we have seen the old-fashioned methods, the short-term job creations - what we want to do in Nova Scotia is create a competitive climate that will encourage investment and will encourage people to take money out of their back pocket and risk it here in Nova Scotia. That is what creates activity, that is what creates jobs and we have seen that with Stora, with some other major investments in Nova Scotia this year. That is what will turn this economy around, that is what will deal with unemployment and that is what we are attempting to encourage.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West on a new question.



PRIOR. & PLANNING: DEREGULATIONS - COMM.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I like the way the minister drags out Stora on every occasion that he gets to show what a great job his government is doing. I can assure him that one of the impediments to businesses in the Province of Nova Scotia is over-regulation. My question to the Minister of Finance is . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Fifteen years of over-regulation.



MR. RUSSELL: The Premier says 15 years. Well, we at least had a department that was up and running for deregulation and the number of regulations was decreasing over the years, rather than increasing as it is at the present time.



My question to the minister is, does he have a body or persons at the present time whose job is to examine existing regulations and take out from the record book those regulations that overlap and impede without achieving anything, either for the client or for the government?



[3:45 p.m.]



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am constantly surprised by how many things that former government was about to do when time ran out.



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, Oh!



MR. BOUDREAU: If only they had a few more years - it was only 15 years - just about to do it. It is not simply a matter of eliminating regulations. Let me say this. We could eliminate every environmental regulation in the province tomorrow. Would that be what the honourable member would suggest? It would probably make it easier for business, but certainly that is not what the honourable member is suggesting and that is not what we would contemplate. I think what we have to do is rationalize them, make them more user friendly and use the regulation area as just one piece of a comprehensive program to make Nova Scotia more competitive.



You know the barriers are coming down. The barriers that used to protect us are down. But those same barriers prevented us from opportunities for success. Let us not shrink from that new fact. Let us take it as a challenge and we can use it as a challenge if only we will seek to make Nova Scotia more competitive through rationalizing regulations, yes, through tax reductions, yes, and through making business more competitive.



MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I know that the Minister of Finance comes from Cape Breton The Lakes. It is an area of great industrial activity. In the Town of Windsor though, what we consider industrial activity is if we can get a McDonald's to open or a Tim Horton's. We have had those two large concerns which have opened businesses all across Canada, all across North America, I guess, without too many problems. But they get into downtown Windsor and they are going to create 100 jobs, maybe minimum wage jobs, but at least they are jobs and we would be very happy to have them. They started approximately, I think, 16 months ago to try and get the approvals to open up in the area where they wanted to open up.



The Department of Transportation holds out reams of regulations . . .



MR. SPEAKER: This is not a supplementary question. This is a speech.



MR. RUSSELL: Well, to me it is. It is a question. My question to the minister, is he talking to the departments to act responsibly with regard to even the interpretation of regulations, let alone removing them?





MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the answer is yes. The program review, the regulation review is taking place within every single department, but it is also taking place as part of a larger process that I attempted to outline to the honourable member because this is part of a larger process. We will be moving forward, I think, in ways that the honourable member will approve of. I will agree with him that a lot of the job creation that we are going to see in Nova Scotia is going to come from small business, from community-based investment.



There is no magic to creating a job. You do not go down into the basement and mix something up and come up after you bake it and say, here is a job. What we do is we persuade people, ordinary people like you and I, to reach into their back pocket to take out money and risk it. Now, they will not risk it in an environment where a government is facing bankruptcy. They will not risk it in an environment where they do not know what their tax regime is going to be next year. They will not risk it when government is irresponsible. But they will risk it in the type of environment we are creating and that evidence is already there. (Applause)



MR. RUSSELL: What a delight it is to learn all about how this government is going to create jobs. Well, I will tell you how they are going to create jobs . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Now this is a final supplementary question. It is supposed to be one sentence.



MR. RUSSELL: This is my final supplementary so it is very short. If that minister, the Minister of Finance and the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency and the Premier, made a decision to open up this province to investment by deregulating - and by that I mean making it easy, such as they do in the Province of New Brunswick - well, we would have a lot more industry here. Will the Minister of Finance say that he will be dedicated in this new year of 1996 to attracting new business to this province?



MR. BOUDREAU: That is an easy question to answer. Of course we will be dedicated to that, Mr. Speaker. We will be dedicated to that as we have been since we have been elected. The evidence is clearly there. If you look at Statistics Canada in terms of job creation, the evidence is clearly there. If you do any kind of a measurement in terms of per capita investment in the Province of Nova Scotia, the evidence is there and it is going to build and soon it will become irrefutable.



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



SUPPLY & SERV. - LEASES: REVIEW - TENDER



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question through you to the Minister of Supply and Services. In December the minister or his department issued a tender call for consultants who had experience in the management of contractual leases to come in and review and analyze provincial leases, and I guess you might say, in essence, to determine whether or not the government is being ripped off by the lease arrangements that we have entered into. There has been an awful lot of discussion over the years and reports that indicated we are paying in excess of $6 million right now for leases and for offices and so on that are not in use.



The kind of management ability that the minister is trying to hire a consultant for should, of course, be an integral part of the minister's own department, a department which I said already does, in fact, spend millions of dollars a year on leases.



So my question to the minister is quite simply, why does the department not already have within it the kind of management capacity, the kind of management skills that it needs to analyze and to review those leases, rather than having to go out to contract consultants to do that?



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. The particular report to which he refers was a one-time report which made an analysis of all leasing and where the province stood relative to all other provinces in Canada in their leasing processes. Much to our satisfaction and delight, our leasing costs are continuing to diminish, continuing to drop due to more efficient management by our internal staff who are expert in this area.



There are very significant percentages of dropping leasing costs. I do not have them with me but I certainly will table them for the honourable member at the first opportunity.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister says there are reports.



MR. SPEAKER: Half a minute remains.



MR. HOLM: I thought it was 4:00 p.m. that it ended.



MR. SPEAKER: No, 3:53 p.m.



MR. HOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The report, what I am referring to is the tender that closed on December 19, 1995, to be reviewing the lease operating cost review. My question to the minister, because surely it doesn't make sense to have to go out and hire consultants every time you are going to be doing a lease and having to analyze a lease, why is it again that the kinds of abilities to analyze in a government that by design they talk about, why doesn't the government have within its own departments the kinds of management skills that are needed to be doing an analysis of the leases, the kinds of things that the minister enters into and negotiates all the time?



MR. O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, indeed the department does have a very efficient department and leasing, as I have just outlined, and have, over the last year or two, decreased very significantly the leasing costs at a very large percentage drop over the last two year period. But it is not unusual for a department that is desirous of measuring its own efficiency, to have itself analyzed by an external expertise, which is what is happening in the case of the report in question.



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



OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS



MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader. I know that Resolution No. 909 is the first item on the agenda but you call it.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Yes, and I would like to call Resolution No. 909.



Res. No. 909, re Fin. - Casino Project Comm.: Drinks Policy - Recommendations Remember - notice given Dec. 28/95 - (Mr. G. Moody)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, Resolution No. 909, I might just read:



Therefore be it resolved that the Savage Liberals remember the recommendations of the Casino Project Committee, which opposed the free booze policy, and that the Minister of Finance remember his words in this House when he gave a commitment to discharge his responsibilities, always keeping in mind the best public interest.



Mr. Speaker, when this whole debate of casinos arose, along with other issues, there was a committee that travelled the province. Very clearly the majority of Nova Scotians opposed casino gambling in this province. When the government made the decision that we would have two casinos in this province, one in metro and one in Cape Breton, the government said, we are going to ask the public before we do regulations. When they passed the legislation here in the House with very few changes and without very much public input, they said not to worry, we are going to allow the general public to have some say in the kind of regulations that we put together.



I have here a copy of, I think there were 258 submissions, to the government, received on how the regulations should be put together. The government did consult. They allowed people to make presentations but that is where the consultation stopped. As I was leafing through the 258 submissions, a common thread was no liquor at the tables. A common thread was no 24 hour gambling. Why were all these people led to believe that if they responded to the government's request of allowing them an opportunity? It is almost like the government saying to the workers at the VG Hospital, go to the Law Amendments Committee and have your input and that is where amendments are going to be made. In actual fact, the government didn't make any amendments and when they asked these people to make their submissions, they didn't listen to what those people said, either.



So what the government is saying to the general public is, we will lead you through a process that will look like public consultation that doesn't mean anything because you, the public, don't know anything because what you are telling us shouldn't happen, we are a government that knows what is best for you and so to heck with what you tell us. We are going to make the changes according to what our partner, ITT Sheraton, wants and needs. Well, it didn't take long for the government who said, when they came out, all of these people said no liquor being served at the table, well, that didn't last long because ITT Sheraton came along and said, we want liquor at the table. We have to get people drinking in order to get them to spend more. They are not spending enough. The government said, never mind what the people said, ITT Sheraton said we need that, we are going to have it.



Now, I would have had more respect for the government if they would have come out initially and said, we are going to allow liquor to be served at the table because all the casinos everywhere else have it. I would have respected that. But to tell the people one thing and then do the opposite, I don't have respect for that. I lost my respect because if you are going to have a casino and you are going to serve liquor, then be up-front with the people and tell them. Don't make a great big press conference out here and say, we have listened to the people and there will be no liquor when in actual fact, you know that there is going to be, in order for it to run. That is what people are upset about. Be up-front.



When you said we are not going to have 24 hour gambling and now you find out you have to open it up more nights for 24 hour gambling - and I admit casinos in the world have 24 hour gambling - well, be up-front with the people. Don't stand out at a press conference and say, we have listened and we are not going to do this and then a few months later, you know darn well you are going to have to do it so it can be competitive, then be honest; be up-front. Don't make one statement and then, a few months later, change it because you in your heart know that the statement you made at the beginning wouldn't work anyway. So be up-front. Don't mislead. I think that is where people are having difficulty. They don't know what it is that we are going to have next.



We all understand that casinos are new to Nova Scotia but casinos are not new in the world. They are not new in North America. Why would the government think that this casino here is going to operate any differently? Why don't you be honest, up-front and say, you are going to have a casino, it is going to operate like the other casinos. But that is not what the government said. The government has made changes that they said they wouldn't make.



People are wondering what is next because you know the Premier said here just recently, there will be no free booze. Well, the Premier said before the election there would be no tax increases. So you know, people have got to build up a trust. In other words, they have got to be able to trust the government, that what they say today applies tomorrow and that things don't change tomorrow because what they said yesterday doesn't mean anything.



[4:00 p.m.]



We have a government who said from the very beginning that with this casino, they would be looking at the effects this casino is having. They promised great fanfare in Sydney, that there would be a rush for people to get revenues, the non-profit groups along with the native band groups, of all the revenues that was going to occur. When I asked the minister today about the debt and equity and maybe whether that debt and equity and the carrying charges will ever be paid off in Sydney, I don't know. Will there ever be a profit? I am trying to figure out if, in fact, what number of profit that casino has to make before the bottom line ever does show a profit. I am not sure how far the debt and equity rises, as it rose in the past three months with the Halifax casino, how much does it rise before it meets its maximum? So when will it ever show a profit?



Surely, the government can tell us, in the casino in Sydney, that the maximum debt and equity payment every 30 days is going to be x number of dollars. The minister said today the project cost $26 million. Surely, the debt and equity can be figured out so that we know. I suspect the debt and equity payment is a certain amount so they couldn't show a minus, so they just show a zero. If they make more money in the next three months, the debt and equity payment goes up and we still get a zero. So the native bands and the non-profit groups still get zero, that is what we end up with.



We must be able to find out if that debt and equity, whether it is in Sydney or in Halifax, surely does have a fixed amount. If the debt and equity isn't met each month, does that accumulate and how much is the interest that we are paying to the ITT Sheraton for this debt and equity? Is the rate 10 per cent, is it 9 per cent, is it 7 per cent, what is the rate? As we get into this thing, there sure are a lot of unanswered questions that I think the general public have the right to know. There were a lot of expectations that there would be money flowing from the casino to non-profit groups and native band groups in this province.



When the government said not to worry about the casino in downtown Halifax, that it won't compete, that businesses won't be affected by the casino, predatory pricing will not be allowed, that everybody will be on an even footing. Well, the advertisement that went out for anybody over the age of 55 - and that leaves a lot of us out - but when we reach that age of 55, we can go down on a Friday and have a free breakfast. Then, if we go back the following week, we can get a coupon for the value of $5.00 for free gambling in the casino. You have to take in the free breakfast, obviously, to get the coupon but you can't spend it that day. You have to go back the next week, I assume, get another free breakfast, get your chit, go back the following week. So I suspect that Friday mornings have not been a real good day.



Does that affect any of that the other businesses? I don't know how many new people would go down for free breakfasts but once that started and was supported by ITT Sheraton, I am sure other companies are going to suffer to some degree.



Yes, there are jobs at ITT Sheraton, and as we are finding more, that these jobs are becoming casual jobs. In other words, they are not the high paying jobs that we thought they would end up with. But how many other jobs will be affected by the casino? We don't know. In actual fact, a lot of the studies that should be done, and I hope some studies are going on at the present time, I would be awfully disappointed, if they were not. I think through the Department of Health, they are advertising for a group to look after, to set up, where people who are addicted can call, I don't know yet. I understand that is out to tender. I am not sure who will get that tender. We have already had a group in Sydney led by one individual who has done a lot of work in this field, who has a lot of experience in dealing with people who are addicted to gaming. Whether he and his group will be successful, or whether it will be another group, remains to be seen.



The problem, Madam Speaker, with the casino operation, is we have a person in charge of the corporation, one Ralph Fiske, who wants to see us open up. In other words, he wants us to become, I suppose, like a Las Vegas. We are in a province that by no means should try to compete with Las Vegas, and don't want to. I have been to that city, a cement sort of city, where people aren't from the country in the same quiet manner and the same way we have it here. I would hope that casinos would not be a way of life in this province, to encourage people to go to the casino and to spend money that I know most Nova Scotians can't afford to spend today.



As we move into 1996, and I think I read an article just recently, where more and more Canadians, including Nova Scotians, are worried about their jobs, about job security. If you talk to the car dealers in this province, December was a terrible month and January is not going to be any better. I talked to them in the Valley. As a matter of fact, I talked with someone between Christmas and New Year, and they are barely hanging on. People won't invest in long term and the reason they won't invest in long term is that they don't have confidence. You have to have confidence that you are going to have a job. You have to have confidence that you can meet your commitments, provide for your family, and confidence that if you buy a car, you are going to be able to pay for it.



But we have opened up now these casinos, encouraging people to go there as entertainment. Well people were going there as entertainment and they were spending on the average $20. But that's not good enough. What they want is $80 out of everyone who goes in there, Madam Speaker, so that they can make a profit. Imagine that, $80, not $20. Well $80 will buy a lot of groceries and if a person went in too many times, that $80 multiplies and multiplies.



I hope that this government will not keep changing the regulations to suit ITT Sheraton, that the people of this province will be told up-front and that they will be consulted about the changes, not ITT Sheraton, but the public of the province who deserve many answers and they are not getting them from this government. Thank you, Madam Speaker.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs.



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to also stand and speak to Resolution No. 909. This resolution has to do with the regulations of gaming in Nova Scotia. The issue of the gaming commission and the regulatory regime has been well debated here in this House during the last year. Even as recently as last evening, this debate took place in this House. At that time I took part in that debate and I listed the seven sets of regulations that are in place to control gaming here in Nova Scotia. I quoted the numbers with regard to the size of this industry in Nova Scotia.



It indicates how large this industry is, but this resolution refers specifically to casino regulations. It refers to this government bending over backwards. Well, Madam Speaker, we have had to bend over backwards to put this government on a sound financial footing. This government has had to bend over backwards to bring this province from the very brink of bankruptcy. We are not only bending over backwards, we are at literally standing on our heads to give Nova Scotians good sound responsible government.



The members and all members of government have committed to discharge our responsibilities always keeping in mind the best public interest. We have done it in health reform. We have done it in education restructuring. We are doing it in municipal reform. We are doing it in managing our expenditures and also with the expenditure control bill that came forward. That is discharging your responsibilities in the best interest of Nova Scotians. It is too bad the previous administration did not make that very same commitment. If they did, Madam Speaker, make that commitment, they certainly did not remember that they did.



I want them to look in the mirror and to see if they did remember. Did they remember it when they ran with continuous deficits every year the 15 years they were in government? Did they remember when they allowed the debt of this province to reach almost unreachable proportions? They have very short memories, I would say, Madam Speaker.



Do you know what, Madam Speaker, we have eliminated that deficit from $471 million to a balanced budget in just two years. That is the first balanced budget since 1978. That is very credible and incredible, both. (Applause) Our next challenge, of course, is the debt and we intend to tackle that debt as well. We have bent over backwards to be responsible. When we brought forward the Gaming Control Act, we did just that. We acted responsibly. We controlled gaming here in Nova Scotia. Something that had gone literally uncontrolled over 20 years that it took place in this province. All gaming I am speaking of here from bingo to lottery tickets down to casinos.



We developed a new industry with confidence that we could control the effects that it would have on Nova Scotians. We developed this so that we would ensure that it would be conducted with honesty and with integrity. We had it developed so it demanded accountability and yes to protect the public interest. That is what this resolution is all about. The legislation gives the commission and the corporation both the legal responsibility to ensure that the gaming industry and the laws that govern it are constantly evolving to ensure the public interest is looked after. They do have to evolve. They do have to regularly change.



The commission and the corporation will study public reaction to gaming, its social impacts, all the implications it may have on Nova Scotians and they will make recommendations for legislative change and for regulatory changes, if remedies are needed to correct any problems that may arise. Madam Speaker, changes in regulations have to happen and they will happen and they have happened.



I just want to refer to the gaming hours that have just been extended on Mondays to eight hours. Those eight hours that we now allow the casino to open on Mondays are from 3:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. on a Monday of a long weekend. It only makes good economic reasonable sense that the casino would be allowed to be open during those eight hours that had not been open hours previously.



Over the long weekend that we just passed, I have been told that they have been very good head counts, the highest in December. There were no reports of any difficulties or any incidents. There are a number of positive comments made by the patrons of the casino and there are actual calls to the offices of a positive nature regarding the casino operation over the long holiday weekend.



Madam Speaker, our efforts have been brave, they have been gutsy and for the right reasons. We have lived up to our commitment to Nova Scotians. We have created an economic stability that attracts industry and creates jobs. We have had the second highest employment record in the country, 8,000 jobs since November 1994 to November 1995. We have restored confidence in Nova Scotia. We have remembered our commitment to act in the best interest of Nova Scotians. A well managed gaming industry offers Nova Scotians jobs, economic opportunity as well as the ability to control and to eliminate any adverse effects that may happen.



[4:15 p.m.]



Madam Speaker, I think you can see and I think all members can see and most reasonable Nova Scotians can see that we are serious about ensuring that our gaming industry is above reproach. This is an industry that offers real economic advantages to Nova Scotians, but only if it is conducted with absolute integrity. We have ensured that. We have our responsibilities and we have lived up to our responsibilities and we always keep the best public interest in mind.



With that, Madam Speaker, I will sit and offer someone else an opportunity to speak to this resolution. (Applause)



MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you.



The honourable Minister of Finance. You have until 4:24 p.m., if you are using the remainder of the time.



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise and engage in this debate with respect to the operation of the casinos. Whenever I address this issue or hear this issue addressed in the House of Assembly by the Opposition, I am reminded of William Shakespeare. In particular, the Opposition on this particular subject reminds me of the three witches of Macbeth. You remember that quote, Madam Speaker, "Double, double, toil and trouble;/Fire burn and cauldron bubble.". They are always stirring the pot on this particular subject. They continue to stir the pot in the hope that there will be some spillover and gain some small political advantage.



Now you remember the wonderful, thoughtful contribution that the Opposition made to this debate back this time last year, or perhaps even a little earlier than that, on second reading, the thoughtful assessment of the casino. We have the advantage now in Nova Scotia that we have seen these casinos operate. People have walked in downtown Halifax into the casino, they have walked by the casino, similarly in Sydney. They have seen the casinos operate. But this time last year, or, indeed, on November 10th, 1994, they had not seen these casinos operating.



What did some of the Opposition members contribute to the debate, being sensible, sound and reasoning people? Well the honourable member for Hants West, Mr. Russell, raised a number of questions; is the establishment of casinos going to create an environment in which crime will flourish? Are we going to have an increase in prostitution? Are we going to have an increase in loan sharking, laundering of money and those various elements that people say come with casinos? A dire picture by the member for Hants West.



He was not alone, he had support in the assessment of the casino operations. The member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, never a man to be reticent with his views, joined in. What about lost time on the job? Embezzlement? Rehiring, retraining? Again the spectre raised by that member.



It wasn't only the Progressive Conservative caucus. We had enthusiastic participation by the Third Party. Indeed, the member for Halifax Atlantic, who may well address this very subject, had things to say back then on November 10, 1994, about casinos. Let me quote; "I understand that we need to somehow generate revenues to wipe out the debt and pay for the public services we provide.". Well, that was good of the honourable member. "But in the name of Heaven, Mr. Speaker, at what cost are we going to do that? When you look at some of the cases, some of the examples of the small towns in the southern U.S. that have agreed to wholesale casino gambling, . . . when the decision was made to legalize gambling, almost overnight", says the member for Halifax Atlantic, "the glittering lights and the slot machines and the VLTs and the roulette tables and the sundry accoutrements . . . ", whatever sinister things those might be, ". . . the sundry accoutrements went from one end of the town to the other.", says the member for Halifax Atlantic. "All of a sudden this community that had stability and low crime and some integrity was inundated by people who were trying to make their life better through a lucky strike. The decision transformed those communities potentially forever.".



Pretty dire stuff, Madam Speaker. Anybody might be tempted to be very nervous about what kind of regulatory regime would be in place with these scenarios drawn about a year ago by the members of the Opposition.



The mover of this particular resolution that we are debating today was not adverse to wading in a year ago with his views, the member for Kings West. I am quoting him - actually, this was February 6th - "There are many people, you and I and many people know, that are going to lose their businesses in this city because of that casino coming here.". Many people are going to lose their businesses because of the casino coming here.



If you want the overstatement of the year, here it is, by the mover of this resolution today. This was on February 6th. Listen to this statement by a member of the previous Conservative Government. "I don't remember any time in the history of this province" - now, that is a pretty sweeping timeframe - "that any government set out a policy that would have more harm on the economic and social and physical well-being of the people in this province as casinos will to this province.". Any time in this history, no other measure by any government would have the kind of detrimental economic impact that casinos have. That was the honourable mover of this resolution, who wants to continue stirring the pot. The witches of Macbeth, Madam Speaker.



Well, what is the reality? The reality is that we have two casinos operating very well in this province. No difficulties. Can you imagine the parade of sad stories, of fallen businesses that we would have if the Opposition could find any? The casinos are operating very well. They are highly regulated by the most efficient and thorough Gaming Control Commission in Canada, which we set in place. They have provided us with over 800 jobs. The Opposition continues to say, where are the jobs? Well, here are over 800 of them, at not one cent of cost to the provincial government or the taxpayer of Nova Scotia. Not one cent, not now, not in the future. That is, I think, a very positive feature to these casinos.



AN HON. MEMBER: Are they permanent jobs?



MR. BOUDREAU: Permanent jobs, a regular paycheque, over 800.



What about the contribution to our General Revenue, $25 million? Am I guessing at that? Am I speculating? No, the cheque is in the bank. As a matter of fact, Madam Speaker, not only is the cheque in the bank, the cheque is out there providing services to Nova Scotians. We did not keep it in the bank. We used it to provide health care, we used it provide education, we used it to pave roads; we used it for all of those things that government uses money for.



Surely, if the Opposition wants to be credible on this, if they are not simply stirring the pot, if they are not being the three witches of Macbeth on this issue, maybe what they should tell us is how they would replace that $25 million. Presumably, they do not want the casinos to operate. How would they replace the $25 million? Where would they take it from? Would they take it from Health? Would they pave $25 million less roads? Would they not pay for schools?



I know, Madam Speaker, my time is running out. I wish I had more time. This is an important subject. I would love to hear from the member for Halifax Atlantic to see if his views have changed. I would say, I am proud to say that this is a sensible industry, it is working here in Nova Scotia, providing benefits and at no risk to the taxpayers of this province.



MADAM SPEAKER: I recognize the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I do appreciate the opportunity to rise and speak on this resolution that deals with the operation of casinos in the Province of Nova Scotia. I must say that I enjoyed the intervention by the Minister of Finance, as I normally do. He has been practising. He has been doing a little reading on the side as we have engaged in somewhat extensive debate in this House and it certainly has added considerably to the theatrics and, therefore, the effectiveness of his presentation. I just want you to know, Madam Speaker, and that minister, that I certainly enjoyed his speech. I am just saddened by the fact that DUET is on right now and more Nova Scotians did not have the opportunity to see the minister.



I assure him and all members that the predictions and concerns that I raised back in the fall of 1994, when this legislation allowing casinos to be established in the Province of Nova Scotia will not be retracted because I have not seen any evidence yet to suggest to me that anything different than what was proposed by members of the Opposition, in those days, is any different. The case that I talked about was, in fact, a true case in the southern U.S.A. and while I did not say that was going to happen in Nova Scotia I suggested that there were reasons to be very concerned with the introduction of casino gambling in the Province of Nova Scotia.



I think that what the minister and his colleague, the Minister responsible for the Gaming Control Commission, have said here in this House today, in fact, add weight to the concerns that I and my colleagues have raised with respect to gambling and casinos in the Province of Nova Scotia. That is that the Minister of Finance has stood in this House and said, how would you replace the $25 million a year that we get from casinos and that we will get over the next four years? He says to anyone who will listen, look at what we are doing for Nova Scotia, look at the jobs we are creating, look at the revenue that we are generating as a result. Well, I think what you call that is a definition that we often talked about in debate on this bill and that is called, gambling addiction, that is clearly what the Minister of Finance, particularly and perhaps even the Minister responsible for the Gaming Control Commission are suffering from. They have been absolutely devoid, this government, of any answers, of any plan for trying to generate the economy, for trying to create the 63,000 jobs that they promised Nova Scotians in the spring election of 1993. Instead, they have imposed on Nova Scotians one of the most cynical plans that we have ever seen and that is an industry that sucks money out of the pockets of Nova Scotians, a tax on people that are, in many cases, the most vulnerable and sucks it right out of this province and that is their idea of economic development.



The Minister responsible for the Gaming Control Commission, in her introductory comments, used the history and perhaps the difficulties that were created by the former administration and the times that they were involved in and as a result of the policies that they brought in, to basically justify imposing casinos on Nova Scotians completely against their wishes. That, I think, is absolutely inexcusable. In other words, anything we do regardless of how wrong it is, can be justified by the fact either the devil made me do it or in this case, the former administration and the problems that they left for this administration did it. That is clearly a sign of that minister and this government trying to absolve themselves of any responsibility for their decisions, particularly, ones like this that many suggest are going to be and continue to be disastrous for this province.



MADAM SPEAKER: Would the honourable member permit an introduction?



MR. CHISHOLM: Yes.



MADAM SPEAKER: I would like to bring to the attention of all the members in the House the presence of Don McInnes in our gallery. Don is one of our extremely fine young Nova Scotians who left on a Rhodes Scholarship to go to Oxford. He has completed his Masters and his Doctorate in European politics, economics and society. He will be back in Canada probably in March and I would like him to be warmly welcomed. (Applause)



MR. CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the introduction and would also welcome Mr. McInnes and congratulate him on his quite considerable achievements over the past few years.





[4:30 p.m.]



But, Madam Speaker, I go back to what is happening here with respect to the casinos and to the rules and regulations affecting the casinos. We are seeing now, slowly but surely, the dribbling out of changes that this government is prepared to make at the wish of ITT Sheraton. First of all, it was the sale of alcoholic beverages at the gaming tables, including the slot machines, something that they absolutely refused not to do. We have also seen of late the fact that this government has been prepared to change the hours of operation of the ITT Sheraton to ensure that they are given more opportunity to suck money out of the pockets of Nova Scotians.



We have seen of late, of course, such deals as these chits for seniors on Friday mornings. They come in and enjoy a free breakfast and they receive a chit, a coupon, valued at $5.00 a day. Some of us, when we first saw it, thought, now isn't that cynical. They are trying to buy the participation of people in the gambling game and here they are, they are giving not only a free breakfast but also a coupon. The interesting thing about this coupon is that it is not for use that day, it is for redemption the following Friday, Madam Speaker.



In other words, they bring you in for a free breakfast, and they lay on you this $5.00 coupon but the only way you can redeem the coupon is to come back that following week. In fact, there is a specific date on this one, as there are on all of them, mentioned. Again, I would suggest, a very cynical device to try to attract people in, in order to be able to suck money out of their pockets.



Let me say that back when we were debating as extensively and enthusiastically as we could, back in the fall of 1994 and the spring of 1995, Madam Speaker, the Minister of Finance on April 1, 1995 is reported to have said that regardless of what the ITT Sheraton had requested in their proposal, that they in fact were going to cut back on operating days and hours and they were also going to restrict the sale and consumption of alcohol at gambling tables.



I just want to quote to you a line from the minister, because ITT Sheraton said, this is going to have an impact on our ability to attract gamblers and therefore suck money out of their pockets. In response to that, Mr. Boudreau said he has no idea the dry rule for the gaming floor will mean lost revenue for the province but it isn't a question of money; we never did put a dollar value on it because to us, it wasn't a revenue item. He said, I imagine it will have some impact but I can't imagine it having a huge impact.



In the same article, the Premier, the Honourable John Savage, said the reduction in hours and the changes with respect to gaming show that his government is, in fact, listening to people. In response to the concerns by ITT Sheraton, the Premier said they are obviously less happy than they would be if they were open all the time, but that is the partnership, he said. They didn't want to lose Easter which is a big opportunity for them, Mr. Speaker. In other words, what the Premier and the Minister of Finance were saying to Nova Scotians, we are hearing a little bit of the opposition that you are generating to this idea and we are going to respond by placing these kinds of restrictions.



Well, they got the bill through the House, Madam Speaker. They passed it through over the objection of many hundreds and thousands of Nova Scotians and here we are, a little more than a year away, or a little less than a year away, and here we have this government already changing at the will and the whim of ITT Sheraton. Do you know what? They have not given us any indication that what ITT Sheraton says is, in fact, the case. They have not given us any indication that, in fact, the restriction on booze or the restriction on hours is having any effect whatsoever other than the reality that this is not Las Vegas.



Madam Speaker, the reality is, just what we predicted, that people are not going to just come to Nova Scotia to gamble and that Nova Scotians don't have the money; 60 per cent of the adult population within an hour and a half of Halifax are not going to park themselves down at the casino and drop all of their money. So as a result of that, and that alone, of the fact that Nova Scotians are showing more caution than was predicted, this government, in cahoots with the ITT Sheraton, is increasing the opportunities for Nova Scotians to be suckered and to be abused by gambling and gambling addiction.



The government had told us back when we were debating this bill that Clause 24 and Clause 56 ensured social and economic effects are constantly monitored. I have not seen any reports, Madam Speaker, have you? Has any member of this House, maybe the members of the Treasury benches have seen reports of the social and economic impact studies that have been done by this government. In order to try, in fact to gauge, to support what the Minister of Finance said just a few moments ago that the dire predictions of the Opposition have not come true, maybe they have the information on hand that will show us in fact that there has not been an increased in prostitution or in drug trafficking, gambling, organized crime and the like. Maybe they, in fact, can show us also that there has not been a negative impact on local businesses on the bars and the restaurants in the downtown Halifax area or in downtown Sydney. We have not seen that evidence, but we certainly heard from the Restaurant Association. We have heard from the owners and managers of local establishments that in fact these casinos are having an impact on their establishments, are having an impact on their business and their ability to carry out their activities.



Madam Speaker, the same report also said that the commission will constantly study public reaction to gaming. I have not seen any report from the commission. I have not seen the commission provide me with any evidence of the fact that the opposition to gaming is lessening. I have not seen any evidence from the commission or anybody else to suggest that Nova Scotians are in favour of loosening the drinking laws with respect to casinos and with respect to the predatory practices of the casinos in terms of providing free meals and so on.



There is absolutely no evidence that the social implications that we raised in the debate against this bill in the first place have not begun to develop, none whatsoever. That is why it is so important that we learn what it is that this government has in mind. What is the true impact of this casino other than the dollars and cents that we are seeing dribble out from time to time from this government. Those are the concerns that we have. Those continue to be the concerns. They have been our concerns since this bill was introduced in the fall 1994. We think the establishment of casinos in the Province of Nova Scotia is folly. It is a cynical example of the lack of the creativity and initiative on this government to try and create jobs and generate some development in the economy of Nova Scotia.



MR. SPEAKER: That would conclude debate on Resolution No. 909.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 871.



Res. No. 871, re Transport. - Yarmouth-Bar Harbor Ferry: Winter Service - Retain -notice given Dec. 18/95 - (Dr. J. Hamm)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to have a few moments to speak on this resolution which concerns of course the loss of winter service from Yarmouth to Bar Harbor due to the failure of the federal government to continue subsidizing that essential link with New England.



We have had opportunity in the House to debate this at length but despite that we have failed to convince the government that their efforts to this point have been futile and, in fact, have not been aggressive enough to result in what we are all looking for, and that is a continuation of service.



One of the interesting things that has happened in debate is that in an attempt to defend its own record on this particular issue, the government has chosen to suggest in some very strange way that the Opposition is somehow responsible for the loss of ferry service because they have not been up and running on this issue.



Mr. Speaker, I have some information here to table and this does not include the number of press releases that are available to all members of the House that clearly outline that as early as August the Opposition was bringing to the government's attention the possibility of the loss of the winter ferry service. So I will be tabling some information which includes such things as a letter dated August 9th from the member for Pictou West who was writing to Bluenose Customs Brokers to get some information on the status of the loss of the winter service in Yarmouth with regard to the effect on that particular institution and made reference to the fact that Bluenose Customs Brokers were involved in the economic impact study which had been undertaken requesting information as to whether or not the study had been completed.



There was a news release on August 21st, and this news release was put out by the member for Queens alerting Nova Scotians, alerting businesses in southwestern Nova Scotia, and in fact, alerting the government of the possibility of a loss of winter service and that the government must become proactive in looking at this serious situation.



A letter here from Commercial Exporters dated August 21st over the signature of the chairman, and a letter to the member for Queens thanking him for his concern regarding Marine Atlantic's reduction in service for the Yarmouth-Bar Harbor ferry run. That was August 1995.



I have a number of documents which are in the same vein, dated as early as August, dated September, dated right up until December which chronicle the concern of this caucus and their attempts to make the government more aware and more proactive in this particular issue.



Interestingly enough, Mr. Speaker, the very day that the federal Minister of Transport, I believe September 7th or 8th, I can't remember exactly now, the day that it was announced that the ferry service was actually being discontinued on October 10th, I happened to be in Yarmouth and had opportunity to speak with a great number of people about that particular issue.



Coincidentally, on the day that it was announced that there would be a reprieve of the ferry service and it wouldn't close on October 10th but in fact would be continued and the date given at that point was December 31st, the day that that announcement came out, by coincidence, I was in Yarmouth and, again, had opportunity to discuss with a number of local people their concerns about loss of ferry service.



So, I only bring up that information in the early part of this debate to put to rest the idea that this caucus has not been concerned from day one with this very contentious and serious issue, serious from the point of view of the economy of this province.



What I would like to know, Mr. Speaker, is on what date the government of the province took seriously the threat of the loss of winter service from Yarmouth to Bar Harbor. At what point did the government say, well, look, this is a reality, this could happen, we could lose the winter service, and start to come up with a plan that would result in continuous service, after the government subsidized service was discontinued?



[4:45 p.m.]



It is absolutely ludicrous for the government to now say that we have and we are doing everything possible, as they scramble about looking for a vessel after the MV Bluenose has made its last trip across to Bar Harbor. It must have been obvious to the government before December 29th that we were going to lose the service and that some kind of a contingency plan should have been in place.



Now, my understanding is that at this point the government has identified a number of vessels which could be made available for a winter service. I was distressed by a remark made by the Premier and reported in the press this morning when the Premier said, and trying perhaps to put the best spin that he could on the situation considering all that has happened, is that it well may be a few weeks before we will have a replacement vessel ready to take up winter service from Yarmouth to Bar Harbor. Well, I would anticipate that the government speaker on this resolution will be able to chronicle exactly the contribution of the government to the solution of this problem, beginning, I hope, earlier than December of this year.



My understanding is, for example, that the ideal vessel to continue the kind of winter service that we need is the MV Evangeline. I made some inquiries to find out whether or not the MV Evangeline was available for the service. What I did find out, actually making a call on January 2nd, is that in fact the Economic Renewal Agency was not able to find out the status of the MV Evangeline, even though it is a responsibility of Marine Atlantic because Marine Atlantic had been shut down over the holidays and, in fact, that information was not available. The only question that that would raise in my mind is if that was the ideal vessel, would it not have been appropriate for some time prior to Marine Atlantic shutting down for the Christmas holidays, to find out what was the status of the MV Evangeline and whether or not it would be available to continue the winter service, ideally on December 30th, the day after the last trip was made by the MV Bluenose.



There is absolutely no argument, either by members on the government side, members on the Opposition side or by members of the business community in southwestern Nova Scotia, that the loss of this service will have serious economic consequences for the entire province, particularly for southwestern Nova Scotia. The figures brought forward by the government-funded study, by ATi Consulting, conclude what we all heard verbally when we went down to southwestern Nova Scotia and we talked to people in the fishing industry, particularly the lobstering industry, when we talked to the mills and those that are shipping wood products by the MV Bluenose, that this would have a serious detrimental effect on their portion of the economy.



You know, in the last 24 hours there has been some discussion about the travels the Premier will undertake in 1996. He will undertake those travels to generate some interest in Nova Scotia and, hopefully, to provide some information in foreign countries as to what is available here and perhaps to attract some business interests into coming to Nova Scotia. But you know, that kind of cold contact travel seems to be secondary to the kind of situation we are facing here.



What should the Premier do to try to solve this problem? It is too late for us to go back to October and November and start putting the contingency plan in place, because that opportunity was clearly missed. So the catch-up plan to provide a private sector operator, with or without a subsidy, is certainly Plan B and it is certainly far inferior to Plan A, which would have been to have all of this in place some months ago when the handwriting was on the wall. It would appear that the federal Transport Minister had made up his mind that that subsidy was going to stop and, in fact, he was not going to be swayed by any information that would come out of the province, despite the fact that he held out the carrot that if we did a study that showed that there was an economic benefit to the service, he might somehow relent.



The first thing that should happen is that the Premier should contact the Prime Minister. Ideally, of course, this contact should have occurred weeks ago. The request of our Premier, on behalf of the people of southwestern Nova Scotia, to the Prime Minister should have been: Mr. Prime Minister, government revenues will suffer far in excess of the saving that will be gained by eliminating the subsidy. Now, the federal Minister of Transport will save $5 million out of his budget, but total government revenues will suffer by over double that amount. The fishing industry will lose $6.5 million in revenue. We will lose 793 jobs here in Nova Scotia, and across Canada the overall loss will be something like 1,200 to 1,300 jobs. There will be a loss in Nova Scotia household income of $11 million.



It would seem to me that as First Minister of this province to the First Minister of the country, that argument would make sense and that our Premier would have a strong argument and would have a realistic hope of convincing our Prime Minister to at least agree that look, I will carry on the service for the length of time that it takes you to put a proper replacement service in place. That is what should have happened weeks ago. That is what we asked the Premier time and time again to do here in Question Period. As early as today I heard the Premier respond and say, I will call the Prime Minister when I feel it is time. My question, then, to the Premier is, clearly, how many weeks do we have to be without service before he will decide it is time to call the Prime Minister? Two weeks, two months? Who knows? How long before the Premier will call the Prime Minister?



You have indicated, Mr. Speaker, that my time has run out. I do appreciate the opportunity to bring again to the House the concerns of this Opposition and the concerns of the people of southwestern Nova Scotia over the loss of winter service from Yarmouth to Bar Harbor. Thank you.



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



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to debate the issue of jobs and exports for Nova Scotians, from one end of this province to the other, and the vital, in this case, infrastructure and trade links that have to be sustained in order that we can export goods and products and services well beyond our borders, in fact, with a most competitive and demanding world, for the kinds of products, the kinds of services and the goods that Nova Scotians are skilled and capable of producing.



I would like to suggest for a moment that what I have heard in the first half of the honourable Opposition Leader's time was a rather defensive reaction to, what have we been doing; the response to the challenge that the Opposition has not played its part in trying to sustain these trade links with New England primarily but, more importantly, to deal with a federal government that is acting responsibly in terms of the huge debt and deficit problem that it faces, and also this province that is recovering and turning corners on debt and deficit problems, the legacy of his government, the legacy of the people who are now his colleagues, the legacy that the people of this province will never, ever forget. That legacy is both a blessing and a curse. The curse is $800 million a year in interest payments that are sent off to foreign capitals, producing absolutely nothing in terms of benefit for Nova Scotians, not one ounce of benefit for the interest payments that we send off in response to the over-spending of his colleagues for 15 years in this province; I repeat, a legacy that will never be forgotten by Nova Scotians. The federal government is also, at a time of fiscal crisis in this country, attempting to balance its books.



What we have at the moment is a response from the Opposition that says, we sent letters in August, we issued press releases, we suggested that we sounded ample alarm bells that there was a problem looming, therefore convincing people not just of southwestern Nova Scotia but of Nova Scotia that the Opposition is doing its job. To his credit, the honourable colleague, the Leader of the Opposition has been in touch with Gerry Boudreau, who is the chairperson of the South West Nova Regional Development Authority, a person with whom we have had great cooperation and who is working tirelessly on what is his project, his priority and that is the restoration of service. When I say his priority, I also, therefore, mean my priority, because the nature of the Regional Development Authorities, the nature of community economic development in this province is such that the priority of the Pictou Regional Development Authority or the South West Nova Development Authority, or western Valley or Kings or Cumberland, is automatically my priority. The Economic Renewal Agency has pledged, as has this government, to a balanced recovery from the recession. So when Gerry Boudreau and the MLAs of the area, the MPs of the area, the business people of the area, the workers at Marine Atlantic, are all working at what I believe is an incredible pace to try to find both a short-term and a long-term solution to this problem, they have our assistance, as a government and our pledge, as a department, to serve their needs in any way we can to support that effort. (Interruptions)



I commend the Leader of the Opposition for having made telephone calls to determine how things are going, to make sure that we are doing our job, to hold our feet to the fire in support of the RDA. I am not quite as complimentary, however, when I talk about - and I only briefly mentioned in debate the other night - the opportunity that was missed by the former government who, in typical fashion, in 1984 when they received a notification similar to the one we received this fall, a federal prerogative, they sent someone off to New York to borrow money, that the taxpayers are still paying, to solve a problem. What they did is they deferred a problem; they didn't solve a problem, they deferred a problem. (Interruptions) They didn't do anything to try to determine a long-term solution.



I hear the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley over there heckling away at sustainable solutions. I have heard his debate here and we are talking about a person who is a reformed short-term thinker when it comes to problem-solving in this province. What we are talking about here are long-term sustainable solutions.



The Leader of the Opposition asks, what are you doing; what is the plan? The plan, quite simply, is to respond to a federal minister who, at the moment he made a decision, one that was postponed by the intervention of our Premier who went to Ottawa and said, time is needed, Minister of Transport, time is needed on which to base an informed decision. We have pledged funds to a local community Regional Development Authority, some $12,000 in Nova Scotia taxpayers' dollars, to do a study of the economic detriments so that you can make an informed decision. Do we like that decision? No. Has the Premier communicated that dislike? Yes. The federal minister has the prerogative, informed or not, in agreement with the province or not, in harmony with the study or not, to make the decision he made. That is his responsibility whether we agree with it or not.



Having made that decision, what has happened? The federal minister has pledged to the Premier that if a business plan comes forward, he will attempt to use every means within his power to make sure that that business plan is supported. What is our job as a province, then? It is to do exactly as we have been doing. The honourable Leader of the Opposition sends us a letter indicating two brokers world-wide, Swedish-European brokers who may have had vessels, and we had been in touch with those brokers two weeks previous. The very opportunity he gives, to send us information, we have taken under advisement and we have already dealt with it. That is exactly what the Opposition should be doing, in a collaborative effort to solve a problem in southwestern Nova Scotia. That is exactly what the Opposition should be doing.



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Good Leader, good Leader.



MR. HARRISON: Good Leader of the Opposition is right. However, the real task is to work with the RDA, with all the shipping companies in Canada, receiving responses from those shipping companies, polishing business plans, providing the resources that we have that the Opposition Parties obviously do not have, to make sure that those are polished business plans that provide both short-term and long-term sustainable solutions to a problem that the Opposition knew about in 1984, 11 years ago and, in a few short months and weeks, we have received responses from many shipping companies, many are moving toward what I would consider a more polished state, one that would be presentable to a federal minister. As to whether or not provincial funds would be utilized, there are certain elements that would need to be realized there in terms of long-term benefit. There are elements of worker protection, when we are talking about privatization or private sector involvement; there are all sorts of complexities involved here.



[5:00 p.m.]



We have not lost sight of the original purpose of all of this, and that is to ensure that the trade links between New England and southwestern Nova Scotia, the jobs that are created by the products, the goods, the services that are exportable through those trade links are able to be realized through a long-term solution. One that you don't just, in 1984, throw money at and hope that it goes away but you actually take the opportunity to analyze the problem, what its origins are, and how the private sector can be brought to bear to get this problem solved once and for all.



There are a number of private sector companies who have expressed interest in this. We know that the federal minister has stated over and over again - and the Opposition seems to have missed it - that in order to balance the federal books, consideration will be given to commercialization or privatization of marine services. That will have an impact beyond Yarmouth in this province and one that we are undertaking to study. What are we going to do about it? The Opposition members suggest that we write letters, that we go and see people. The fact is, what we are doing is working with the business community, the exporters, the very workers at Marine Atlantic and the private sector, to try to come up with plans and solutions that will stand the test of time, solutions that will get goods to market, solutions that people can count on year after year, solutions that capitalize on the best wisdom of the area and on the entrepreneurial spirit, not only in this province but in this eastern seaboard nation. As a government, we take our responsibilities extremely seriously.



Recently, this metropolitan area was involved in a competition with The Globe and Mail, it was a smart cities contest. It was a contest that the metropolitan area of Halifax won and should be proud to have now the moniker, one of the five smartest cities in Canada. The metropolitan area of Halifax could have won that award 10 years ago, five years ago, three years ago, two years ago; the fact is they didn't because they weren't collaborating to win the award. All of the ingredients haven't changed; we have the same level of expertise, the same calibre of worker, the same knowledge-based industries. The difference was that the Chamber here in Halifax unified and when it unified it was able not only to build a case for the blood fractionation plant but, also, to enter a competition in a way that it had never been able to before, a unified Chamber.



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: What's that got to do with the ferry?



MR. HARRISON: The honourable member is once again saying, what has that got to do with the MV Bluenose ferry? We will get to that in three or four more minutes. Just bear with us here.



They then collaborated with the three levels of government here, the federal, provincial and municipal governments of this city at a time when this government made sure that the municipal government structure of the metropolitan area was able to collaborate as well. The private sector and the public sector working in harmony with The Globe and Mail contest in order to present a unified picture, a competitive picture of a smart city. That concept of smart city extends to this province.



What do we have going on in Yarmouth right now? We have a regional development authority that is working together as never before; Shelburne and Yarmouth Counties working together in a focused, consolidated way. Do they have a crisis on their hands? They have a very difficult situation on their hands. Are they focused and galvanized in finding a solution? Absolutely. Can they use help from the Opposition? If it were extended, they would gladly take that help. Are they getting help from the provincial government, the MLAs? Absolutely. Do they have a pledge of help from the federal Minister of Transport if a business solution can be brought forward? Absolutely. Is the private sector responding to their letters and their calls for assistance that Gerry Boudreau has sent out? Absolutely. Is there opportunity here for short-term and long-term problem solving of the loss of this service? There is, in fact, hope that both short-term and long-term solutions can be found.



The purpose of it all is to make sure that those goods, services and products - in this case, seafood primarily, but other products as well - can get to their primary markets on time, at high quality, to retrieve and earn the best competitive dollar for the goods and services that are being sent there. That is best done by making sure that those trade links, that infrastructure, is in place.



How can we ensure that that infrastructure stays in place? By doing exactly as we are doing, making sure that the private sector knows that we are interested in receiving proposals; making sure that Marine Atlantic knows that we are interested in working with them; making sure that the federal minister knows that when and if business plans come forward that have an opportunity to last, that are solid business proposals that will stand the test of time, unlike the opportunity that was missed some eleven years ago, that this province and this area of the province will take every opportunity to ensure that those services are put in place, kept in place and that people can depend on them for some time to come.



What of the talk of commercialization and privatization as it affects the other services? At the moment, what we are attempting to do as a province is also examine the entire marine coastal infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, from the point of view of long-term problem solving. We are going to be on our own as an area of this country. Atlantic Canada and Nova Scotia, we are going to have to depend on our own ingenuity, our own resources.



So it is not just metropolitan Halifax that has won a smart cities contest, it is a province that has to win a smart province contest. It is through innovation and ingenuity that we are going to survive and thrive into the next century. It is through partnerships that have formed over the last while, through adversity, that will stand the test of time well into the next century. It is through the innovation of those partnerships that we will be a successful trading jurisdiction, with not just New England, but with the entire world, Mr. Speaker.



So, we are not afraid of difficult problems. This is a tough, tough problem. We don't agree with this decision. We are doing everything we can to try and solve this problem. Are we looking long-term? Absolutely. Are we hopeful that we can find a solution? With the help of the local community, with the help of the exporters in the area, with the help of a solid business plan from the private sector, it is our hope that we can put a service back in place, see it supported by the private sector, get those goods to market, keep Nova Scotians employed, and once again, show the world, show this country, show eastern Canada, that Nova Scotians have the ingenuity to solve tough problems.



What can the Opposition do? If they have any ideas beyond some of the ideas that have been sent forward, as the honourable Leader has, in terms of brokers, boats, I welcome the telephone calls to Gerry Boudreau. If there is anything they can offer, either him directly or this government, we would be pleased to receive that. As far as holding our feet to the fire, I think there is no need to worry. We will attempt to do everything possible we can to offset what is, we believe, an incorrect decision, one that we are going to cope with, one that we are going to try and solve in the best way we know how. That is a team effort. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to stand up and speak on this topic again at this time this afternoon. As I begin my remarks, and as I think of the comments and the remarks that were made by the previous speaker, I have to say in all sincerity that I sincerely hope that not only the optimism but the results the minister is predicting will, in fact, come true. What we are dealing with is indeed a very serious issue. Therefore I am a little bit disappointed when I hear speakers from both sides being what the former speaker referred to, the Leader of the Official Opposition, as being defensive and of making accusations against government.



Mr. Speaker, what we have to do is we have to get beyond that. I would suggest we have to start to take a look at the philosophy behind what is being done and we have to look at what the implications are for the lives of the people in southwest Nova Scotia and indeed, for all Nova Scotia.



First of all, in the remarks that were made, I think that it is almost irrelevant for us to be standing here and casting aspersions one side against the other. That is not going to solve it. It is not going to solve anything if we say we spend our time accusing each other of not having taken the appropriate action. We are at a certain stage now where whatever has or has not transpired in the past we cannot undo. What we now have to do is ensure that the services that are essential to be maintained are in fact in place.



We have, Mr. Speaker - and I have to make this remark, however - a Premier who is publicizing his travel routine, his travel agenda, telling Nova Scotians how he is going to be travelling around the world promoting Nova Scotia businesses and Nova Scotia opportunities. He is going to be going to India, Switzerland, Cuba, and Sweden. I do not have the full itinerary. I know there will be a few frequent flyer points obviously earned, but he is going to become a world traveller.



Surely to Heavens, Mr. Speaker, if the Premier has the time and the interest in Nova Scotia jobs and development and maintaining the economy in Nova Scotia, it is not too much of an imposition to at least go to the effort, whether it will be successful or not, whether the former government was successful or not when the former Premier of the province spoke to the former federal Prime Minister - but he did speak to him - is it too much to expect or to ask that our Premier at least call the Prime Minister. If he can go to Cuba, Sweden, and India trying to look for investment for people to come and spend money to create jobs in this province, surely it is not too hard or too much to ask to pick up the phone and to ask the Prime Minister, will you please ask your federal colleagues, the ministers in Cabinet - not just the Federal Minister of Transport who is concerned with one envelope of government spending - to look at the study that was done and paid for by the Premier's government, the Liberal Government here in Nova Scotia and to ask them to look at those in a fair, unbiased way, to look at the ramifications in terms of what is being done.



Do not just look at one isolated department. Look at the lost revenue, look at the lost jobs, look at the lost economic opportunities, look at the loss even in terms of flow of monies into the country. Because if we lose exports and if we lose the value of those exports because the price of the products, particularly fresh products like fish is devalued because it is not as fresh when it reaches the markets, we are losing. So let us look at the whole picture. Let us stop just looking at a window.



I did not hear the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency when he stood in his place today, I did not hear the minister say that he supports and stands behind the study that his own government funded. I did not hear the government say that they stand behind that report. Certainly, the federal government, the federal Minister of Transport who this minister very quickly defended and he began his remarks by defending, by talking about deficit, that federal minister had discounted that report even before he read it. That comes as no surprise because it is quite clear, it is very clear what the philosophy of the federal government is and that is to offload, wherever possible, public services that they can privatize.



[5:15 p.m.]



The plan to shut down and to privatize the MV Bluenose ferry by Marine Atlantic is not an isolated situation, they are also doing the same, and of course they want to sell off the service that is dealing with Labrador and the southwest Newfoundland service. We saw the federal government and we saw this provincial government, the very first decision that they flip-flopped on was the decision to oppose the sale of the CN line between Truro and Sydney. They want to offload all of these and to privatize them.



One of the fundamental things that I think we have to look at, and I have no hesitation saying that our caucus, I believe, disagrees with both other Parties in this House, in that we believe that the government has a fundamental responsibility, a fundamental duty, to ensure that vital transportation links stay a public responsibility. That doesn't mean that you run them inefficiently or ineffectively, they have to be run in an efficient, business-like manner. But surely to Heavens the government has a responsibility to ensure that this vital link will remain.



Now we hear all this faith in the private industry, and private industry does things very well in most cases. Obviously private industry is a vital part of our economy; they create jobs, they create wealth, they create products, but private industry is driven by - and they have to be - concerns for their bottom line. They have to maximize their profits and they have to be concerned for their shareholders.



Mr. Speaker, if they have to be concerned about those items, if they decide that even if a boat is put there by a private company, if that private company then decides that they can make increased profits with that vessel by moving it somewhere else, their responsibility you could argue to their shareholders, will be to move that vessel to wherever they can get the maximum amount of profits. Their responsibility is not to the people and to the businesses in southwestern Nova Scotia, their responsibility is not to the fishermen who want and need to get their product to market. It is not to those at all, Mr. Speaker.



The government shareholders are the people in the province. That is who the government has to be responsible for. Mr. Speaker, I am sorry but it doesn't make any sense to me economically or in any other way, to be talking about the deficit as a reason for cutting this ferry and the subsidy to it when the loss of that service is going to mean a loss of revenues that are going to be greater than the cost of that subsidy. That doesn't make good sense. That isn't even touching upon the most important element, that is the lives of the people and their families and the communities that are dependent on that service.



In the press today, "Gain to top pain in '96 - Savage" front page story, "Economy to grow, cabinet to shrink, premier predicts." I don't know which ones are going to go but some of them are going to shrink.



AN HON. MEMBER: It is a diet thing.



MR. HOLM: It is a diet thing, the Minister of Transportation says and some of us could benefit from that.



However, amongst those things that the Premier talks about as being working to expand and to be building upon, in terms of the economy, of course one of them was pharmaceutical; the other was traditional, the fishery.



AN HON. MEMBER: How is he going to grow new fish?



MR. HOLM: Now I don't know how, somebody asked me, he is going to grow new fish. But one of the vitally important things about the fishing industry is not only the volume that you catch but it is the value of the product when it gets to market. If that product is slower in getting to market so that it is not as fresh, then the value of that product can drop by as much as 25 per cent in one day, or a lot more, depending upon which market it is going to.



Mr. Speaker, why won't the Premier, why is the government so adamant about trying to defend the federal government and Mr. Young? Why not stand up and lobby the Prime Minister to try to get a complete view, an analysis of the impact upon Nova Scotia? The Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is absolutely right, the health of our province depends upon more than one thing, that being the health of the Halifax area.



We all know, and the minister would know as a former teacher, about the attitude of holism and the holistic approach and a wellness model, as the Minister of Health would know, and that is that if you have one part of your body that is not in good shape, if you are in pain in one area, if you are hurt, none of your body is in good shape in terms of being totally healthy.



Mr. Speaker, we have to, here, be making a solid commitment that not only are we going to try, but we make the commitment that that service is going to be maintained, and the best way to ensure that is not just by saying that we are going to ask for proposals or that we are going to simply depend on the private sector.



I remind the minister, and members opposite, not too long ago the bus service in Cumberland County was cancelled. A private company had said that they would provide this service for the long term, but the profits weren't there. Therefore, I don't fault the company for making the business decision that they can't afford to keep that business going and the service was cancelled.



Mr. Speaker, if this service is privatized not only may Yarmouth lose what it already has in terms of its rail service, reduced bus service, much higher air rates as a result of deregulation, but also this very vital link, so vitally important to the businesses and the people of that area, can also be placed at risk and be gone forever and that, regardless of whatever political stripe anybody in this House is, is why we have to put our differences and partisan issues aside. We have to make a firm commitment as a House that we will not tolerate that; we will not allow that to happen. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: That concludes debate on Resolution No. 871.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 69.



H.O. No. 69, re Fin. - Tobacco: Sale - Inspections - notice given Dec. 29/95 - (Mr. G. Moody)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: In moving this House Order, I have an agreement with the Minister of Finance that we do it for the calendar year 1995. It said as of January 1, 1996, and it didn't say how far back, and I am in agreement to do it and so is he, for the calendar year 1995.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: They have reached an agreement, and that is certainly agreeable to me and I will go along with that under those conditions.



MR. SPEAKER: It is moved under those conditions that House Order No. 69 be passed. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 54.



H.O. No. 54, re Nat. Res./ERA: Travel (Offshore Conference [Scotland]) - Costs - notice given Nov. 23/95 - (Mr. B. Taylor)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, I so move. I am not just too sure what happened to this the last time. The notes say Item 3 received, balance stood, so perhaps it has already been dealt with.



MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved then by the member for Hants West. Would the Clerk recall?



I am given to understand that Item 3 of that House Order was moved and carried and passed, but Items 1 and 2 were stood.



MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, can I suggest that it be removed from the order paper?



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that we remove it from the order paper?



It is agreed.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 60.



H.O. No. 60, re Supply and Serv. - Contracts: Pay Equity - Compliance - notice given Nov. 27/95 - (Mr. J. Holm)



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I so move, but I don't see the Minister of Supply and Services in the House.



MR. SPEAKER: The matter has been moved; however, formerly it was stood. Would the honourable Government House Leader have any comment?



HON. RICHARD MANN: It was stood before, so we had better stand it again if the minister is not here. I know he had intended to be here; he did not want to miss this but perhaps we could stand it again, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: It is a bit early. So we will agree that House Order No. 60 shall stand?





House Order No. 60 stands.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the Opposition Members' Business for the day. Perhaps we could declare this the moment of interruption and move on to the late debate.



MR. SPEAKER: Before declaring it, I will look first to the Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will sit from the hours of 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. and, following Question Period, we will resume Committee of the Whole House on Bill No. 55, the Community Colleges Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.



The draw for the late show was won by the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis who wishes to debate the matter:



Therefore be it resolved that the fishing industry in Nova Scotia is a vibrant sector in the Nova Scotia economy; is integral to our heritage and to our identity.



ADJOURNMENT



MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis. (Applause)



FISH. - INDUSTRY: ECONOMY (N.S.) - VIBRANT SECTOR



MR. JOSEPH CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to get up and make some remarks regarding the fisheries. It is such a big item, such a big problem and all this type of thing. It is going to take more than 10 minutes. I will not even make a dent in it. I was just telling one of my colleagues that getting up and making a 10 minute speech on fisheries is like trying to put a gallon of water in a teacup. It is kind of hard to shrink the whole thing down so you can get any sense to what I am going to talk about. Sometimes you cannot do that anyway.



We have had some rough times in the fisheries, and I well know it. I live in a fishing village, brought up in one, still live there, have been in the fishing industry and so on. Some of the things that you read in the paper you can hardly believe because now we are saying, be it resolved that the fishing industry in Nova Scotia is a vibrant sector of the Nova Scotia economy; is integral to our heritage and to our identity. I believe that is still very true.



When we hear all the stories of gloom and doom, when we think the whole world is falling apart, part of that is true and part of it is not true and it is hard to separate one from the other. I know that we have a wonderful Minister of Fisheries. I say that, not just because he is sitting there looking at me, but I am saying it anyway. I remember when the fishermen would say many years ago that when you try to get in touch with Ottawa, it is like having a telephone on the end of the wharf and you have one of the minister's desk in Ottawa but there is no line in between. This minister is the connecting link.



Any problems we have, many of them are federal as you well know. You all know that. They cannot be solved here, but with some cooperation of the fishermen, the Minister of Fisheries, we are making some headway and heaven knows we need to do that. We are told, you know, that one village is going practically bankrupt when the fish plants close down and so on. That is true, there is no doubt about that. But the fishermen, and give them full credit for it, they have been very inventive. Is that the right word? Anyway, they have come up with new ideas and they are surviving.



When you are a fishermen, we will say, that has a fish dragger and a quota that lasts probably 30, 40 or 50 days out of a year and you go up to the banker or to the loan board - and I must say that most of them have been reasonably lenient; in fact, the loan board in particular - and you say, well, I am sorry, I just do not have the quota to pay you, but they have been stretching out the payments. They have been making it as easy as possible.



The federal ministers have been saying, the previous ones have been saying, we have got to get rid of half the industry, just close it all down. Well, that is just fine and if you happen to be in the part that survives, you are going to do very well. How are you going to, Mr. Minister, or how is the federal minister going to tell a fisherman who has been brought up in a fishing village, that has been his only way of life over the years, his father's, his grandfather's and so on and you tell him that he cannot go fishing any more. That is not going to be easy, that is going to be the hard part. I see this happening.



[5:30 p.m.]



I have people who were in my fish plant who are fourth generation. In fact, I bought fish from a man who just died recently who sold fish to my grandfather. Now how are you going to tell his sons that they have no right to go out in a boat and catch some fish, you can go out and catch a half dozen I think for your dinner if they happen to be there. What I am afraid of is that we, in Ottawa and probably the provincial government in some ways, are over-reacting to this whole thing. You see this happening in many industries. You over-react and close this down, close that down and I saw this happen in the schools a few years ago. We kept cutting down and cutting down and eventually we had to bring in teachers from India and so on to fill the gap. This could very well happen with our fisheries.



The fishermen have done very well. The boat building industry is one shining example of that and I can think of Woods Harbour, Shelburne County, Lunenburg and so on, we have built some mighty fine vessels, they are well known all over the world, the Lunenburg schooners and they were built in the trade between Nova Scotia and the West Indies and so on. In 1980, this started to drop off. As the fishing started to drop off they stopped building boats and so on. Many of these boat building plants had to close down. I have bought boats myself for my own business and I have fished in them, the Cape Island boats have been known all over the world and they are good sea boats. I used a 35 footer for years as a pilot boat in the Bay of Fundy and if they will survive there, they will survive anywhere. If they stuck with the wooden boats that were prime in my day, they would have been out of business totally but now they have switched to fibreglass and they are still building wonderful boats. They put more power in their boats, they have greater speed because they are fishing farther offshore. The idea is to get out there as fast as you can to get back if a gale is pending or to bring the catch in and get it to market.



I remember my next door neighbour was born and brought up in the Kentucky hills and she said that there was a moonshiner there taking a load of moonshine into town to sell in a Model T Ford and his father said, son, slow down, we have got to age this stuff a bit. Well, you don't do that with fish, you get them there just as fast as you can. If you miss that particular market on a particular day it is like yesterday's newspaper, that fish isn't worth a heck of a lot of money.



I had the occasion to be in the West Indies and Barbados, some of the members here were with me and we were the guest of the Prime Minister of the day and he was telling us about how they started up some new industry down there, this is not him but it would be one of his forefathers that had been Prime Minister. He banished 100 women to one of the neighbouring islands and he banished 100 men to over here and told them they could never come back unless they started a new industry. He said within weeks, two new industries started up on both islands, a boat building industry. If we could show that kind of inventive thinking, maybe we could get somewhere. He told that as the truth and I am just passing it on to you as I see it.



Getting back to this, our minister has to listen to fishermen in 54 different organizations, and that is a lot of people, fishermen I am talking about. They have meetings and he goes to meetings and I go to meetings and I listen to them. In every one of those meetings they have totally different ideas. You will find that in one village you have lobster fishermen and then maybe the next one is mainly scallop fishermen. Then you have groundfish draggers, you have people who are getting periwinkles, we will say, or picking dulse or cutting rockweed. Every one is totally different.



You say these guys must be crazy, they all talk practically a different language but they know what they are talking about. It is very important that you listen to it all. Then he has to put all this together, make a good story out of it and go to Ottawa and try to come back with some answers. It is not easy but I can tell you that I talked to a lot of fishermen and there are none of them complaining because he does a good job, I would say that.



We have started to use underutilized species. This should have been done years ago. They are using mako sharks, they are using what I will call starfish in some cases, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and on and on. We are shipping further than the New England market. We have been depending on the New England market - time? Oh, my Heavens, I just got started.



MADAM SPEAKER: Well you have about 25 seconds left.



MR. CASEY: Okay, thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I am very happy to say this much and the next time I will come on with a bigger story, and a true one. Thank you. (Applause)



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Madam Speaker, it is always entertaining to hear my friend and colleague, the member for Digby, speaking on fisheries issues. Not only is he knowledgeable but he is also always entertaining.



There is no doubt that we in Nova Scotia are blessed in that unlike virtually everywhere else in Atlantic Canada, we still can look to a vibrant fishery as an integral part of our economy, not only as an integral part of our economy but, indeed, as a part of our economy which is creating new wealth for this province. The sad factor, of course, is that even within Nova Scotia much of that economic activity is centered only west of Halifax, in southwestern Nova Scotia, so that the Eastern Shore, the Gulf and Cape Breton are very much adversely impacted by the closures that have affected Newfoundland, Labrador and the other provinces surrounding the Gulf.



I spent some time in early December meeting with people in the industry in southwestern Nova Scotia and it further reinforced for me, if I needed that reinforcement at all, what wonderful entrepreneurs these people are who are involved in this vitally important economic sector, what great and yet at the same time prudent risk-takers they are, they invest not only their hard-won capital but, indeed, for those who go to sea, they take the risk that the sea has to offer in that indeed, it can be a very dangerous place in which to ply a living.



I think it is essential that we clearly understand, as I believe was pointed out in the earlier remarks by my friend and colleague, the member for Digby, that we pay very close attention to our markets. The market place is highly demanding; it insists that we provide what is needed, when it is needed and in the fashion in which it is needed and not as we would wish to provide it, at our convenience. That is why transportation links are so absolutely essential, to ensure that we continue to exercise the same degree of market penetration in the fishery in the future as we have been able to do in the past. That is why so many of us are so deeply concerned with the unilateral decision by the Government of Canada and particularly by the Honourable Doug Young, who is noted for unilateral decisions, who is noted for a very gruff way of dealing with even the most difficult of problems, to close off the Bar Harbor-Yarmouth service during the winter months.



I must say that I am one who shares the view of my Leader who is very disappointed with the tardiness of the provincial government with respect to responding to Mr. Young's unilateral action. I would think that anybody who knows Mr. Young at all, and I did know him briefly when he was serving as Minister of Fisheries for New Brunswick and I was the Minister of Fisheries for Nova Scotia, or who has watched him during the course of his tenure as Minister of Transport, that when Mr. Young takes a position, irrespective of what information may be put to him, he maintains that position. Mr. Young very clearly took this position we now know, from remarks made by ministers in this House, in April to end that winter service and there is absolutely no way that he was going to change his mind.



This provincial government spent much of that time dithering, praying, that, in fact, Mr. Young would relent. Mr. Young did not relent and as a result of the absence of planning, and as a result of the absence of initiative by this government, we now find the MV Bluenose ferry tied to the wharf in Yarmouth and that service curtailed. That means that we will go through this whole winter period losing that absolutely essential transportation link to our markets in New England.



No one can blame this government for the federal decision to curtail that service but I do think that we can hold this government to account for not acting sufficiently in advance of the curtailment of that service to ensure that there would be provision of an interim link which would at least see us through to the summer when the Bluenose service will start to function again.



The federal government has undertaken a number of initiatives which I believe, and people in the industry believe, are very much to the detriment of the industry. Saddling this industry which is facing very difficult times with something like $50 million in increased fees is nothing short of ludicrous. I think what galls fishermen the most, what galls plant owners the most, and what galls all of us who have an interest in fisheries the most is the fact that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Honourable Brian Tobin, and the federal government are requiring those involved in the fishery, who pay license fees, to pay for a system which clearly is not working.



One could understand a demand for payment if it was to pay for a system that was functioning, a system that was doing the job that needs to be done. We all know that that system has not only faltered, but has failed and to require these people who have invested their all in the industry to cough up another $50 million in licensing and other fees, is entirely unconscionable and entirely counter-productive.



We see the same thing with the removal from Nova Scotia of, if not all, at least a substantial part of the federal laboratory services, being ripped out of the Scotia Fundy Region and being centered in Moncton. That certainly will have a detrimental impact on the relationships which have grown up through the years between the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries inspectors and federal Fisheries inspectors because that lab had become a very important tool to the provincial Department of Fisheries with respect to being able to exercise its responsibilities and mandate. Yet we have heard virtually nothing from our own Minister of Fisheries with respect to castigating the Government of Canada in that regard.



We also have a very frightening initiative being undertaken by the Government of Canada and that is the divestiture of harbour infrastructure around Atlantic Canada. It will be interesting, in fact, it will be, I suspect, alarming to discover what entities may come to own those facilities. If the federal government follows the traditional course it will offer those facilities to the provincial government; I would think that the provincial government would run as far as it possibly can in the other direction, rather than exercise a responsibility which clearly is the federal government's to exercise. At the same time, if the provincial government does not pick them up, and municipal governments are not interested - and clearly they don't have the funds for that - then, where do they go?



The federal government talks about giving them over to the communities. But we all know what these small fishing communities are. Anybody in here who knows fishing communities, knows that most of them cannot afford hundreds of thousands, indeed, millions of dollars, that are required to keep even some of the more modest facilities in good repair. So what we will find is deterioration in our harbour infrastructure, infrastructure upon which our fishermen, our fish plants and, of course, through the fish plants, our fish plant workers, are absolutely dependent if we are going to maintain a diversified fishery through the many hundreds of communities in Nova Scotia which have experienced their economic vitality, indeed through the centuries.



I was deeply disappointed when this government refused to join with Opposition members in passing an amendment to the legislation which would have provided a further prohibition on exploration and drilling for hydrocarbons on Georges Bank. I was particularly disappointed that the government chose to put up the Minister of Natural Resources to speak to that issue, which is vital and central to fishing interests in Nova Scotia, rather than putting up the Minister of Fisheries who, I believe, very strongly supports that there should be no rigs on Georges. I would be very surprised if his view is anything other than that. Certainly, that is the view that he expressed when he was a member of Opposition and, I believe, serving as the Fisheries Critic.





[5:45 p.m.]



We also find that the federal government is moving out of another area which has become absolutely essential to the fishery and that is the whole area of salmon culture. Salmon culture, particularly the scientific end of it, has been developed to a significant extent by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the loss of that knowledge, the loss of that capacity, the loss of that ongoing and constantly renewing knowledge is going to have a negative, detrimental impact on this industry.



What we must look forward to now is the time when we begin to phase back into increased fishing activity as stocks grow. What we will have to look to is to this government, or whatever government happens to be the Government of Nova Scotia of the day, to ensure that it has a good, strong, conservation-based plan, one which will conserve both fish stocks and communities, as we phase back into the fishery and those areas which have been closed down as a result of the decision taken a few years ago.



Madam Speaker, it is true that the fishery continues to be a vital aspect of our economy. It will continue to grow if we give it the opportunity, but this government, along with its partner in Ottawa, has much to answer for with respect to planning in that direction. Thank you.



HON. JAMES BARKHOUSE: Madam Speaker, the member for Eastern Shore is going to speak, but I just chose to make this point of order. The member opposite had brought a point that the inspection services and the labs would be moving to Moncton. My understanding is that only six administration people will be in the Moncton office and that the labs and facilities will be maintained in Nova Scotia. From my understanding, that is the point that has been raised and discussed with the federal department. We have been assured that only a few of the management staff will be in the Moncton office. I think it is important that that point be brought forth because the staff and the services will be available to Nova Scotia industry. The other points I will allow the member for Eastern Shore to debate.



MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you for that point of clarification.



The honourable member for Eastern Shore.



MR. KEITH COLWELL: Madam Speaker, it always gives me great pleasure to rise in this House and talk about fisheries and the importance of fisheries to Nova Scotians and, indeed, to my riding. In the rural communities there is a very serious lack of employment and fisheries over the years have provided many of my residents with a reliable source of employment, which now, with the downturn in the fishery for whatever reason, has resulted in great economic stress.



I would like to do as my colleague has, thank our Minister of Fisheries. I think we have one of the best Ministers of Fisheries we have seen in this province in many years. He is very accessible to the local fishermen and very in tune with what their needs and requirements are. I am also pleased to see that fisheries still makes up the largest export from Nova Scotia, 26 per cent of our total exports, followed closely by a vibrant tire industry.





One thing I have seen in the last four or five years is a change in attitude in the fishery, which I think says a lot for both our levels of government, federal and provincial, where the ownership of the fishery is being turned back to the fishermen, something that was requested in meetings I went to in the fisheries, in our local fisheries organizations, many years ago. I am pleased to see that both levels of government are now looking at that as a real alternative to fisheries management and fisheries growth.



I have gone to meetings where there was a general feeling amongst the fishermen, I want to catch the last fish in the ocean. I can guarantee you, in the last two years I have seen a major change in that. I have seen the fishermen come back again saying, our penalties are not stiff enough for people that do not abide by the rules and regulations. Let's make them stiffer. Let's enforce this upon ourselves to ensure that our children and our grandchildren have a fishery to go to and, indeed, have a vibrant industry by which we can help the economy of Nova Scotia grow. I think that is an important change that has been long overdue. Perhaps if this change had taken place 25 or 30 years ago we would not have the fisheries crisis we have today.



I am confident, as I think everybody else is, that the fishery will come back and, hopefully, when it does come back it will be in a better position in that the fishermen themselves will control their own destiny.



There is another topic along the fisheries line that is very dear to my heart and my constituency, the clam fishery. It is often not looked at as a fishery. However, I can guarantee you that it brings in almost $1 million in revenue to the Eastern Shore, with some 235 licensed clam diggers and two small processing plants, plus supplying other processing plants outside my constituency. Now this is a lot of money in a small rural area that is difficult to get employment in, especially in the traditional fishery. I can guarantee you that I have seen an attitude change in this fishery, too. I have seen the clam diggers come together and work towards improving and sustaining the development of their fishery. In the past the approach has been that it is a common resource and you go and take everything out of it that you possibly can to make yourself a living and to look after your family. These people are now coming and looking at things such as limited entry, enhancing the products, enhancing the clam flats and doing a wide range of things that were not even speakable two or three or four or five years ago.



This industry, particularly in the Chezzetcook area, has provided families with an income for some 250 years. Indeed, I am convinced that many times it has eliminated starvation in some families in that area. It is really important to note that these people are starting to take control of the fishery themselves and taking it away from people who sit in offices and don't understand how important it is to the community. I think that is a very positive step forward. It has been a long hard road and there is a long hard road ahead of us.



I am very confident in the ability of the people of the community, I am very confident in their ability to raise money on their behalf, which they have already started in the community to help support their fishery, and I am very confident in their ability to come up with a management plan that will be worked through with all levels of government. We are talking about dealing with the Department of the Environment federally and provincially, federal and provincial fisheries, and the list goes on and on, to make this happen. It is a very difficult situation to get this all in place and make it work, but I am very confident in the determination and the will of the people to make this happen.



Another thing that is very important and I was very pleased to see recently was aquaculture on the move and on the move in a very positive way. I have had a couple of instances in my riding since I have been elected where, in a particular area, aquaculture was not acceptable. I agree with the people in that community. As a result of that and of forward thinking on behalf of our government, and in particular of the Minister of Fisheries, we set up RADAC, which will help the local community have input into future sites for aquaculture and how they are going to be developed. In other words, what this allows it to do is it allows the community to be involved in the development of an aquaculture plan that will help the whole community; it will help with employment, it will help preserve the fish stocks in the traditional fishery by having an alternative.



It is nice to see that our government has put forward a $10 million working capital guarantee fund to help aquaculture on its way. So if you marry the two things together, with support from the provincial Department of Fisheries and also the community input into these things, I think we are going to have a situation in Nova Scotia which is very good, very healthy. It will mean there will be less opposition to aquaculture sites and they will be more productive and successful.



I think that putting that in with the other things, such as the clam fishery and the self-management by the fishermen on quotas and other things that are so important to the fishery, we are going to have a sustainable fishery that our grandchildren will inherit and will find will give a reasonable income to people. That is really what we are talking about, we are talking about the expectation to have a reasonable income from a livelihood that you know and you can improve on. It is time that that went back into the community and into the hands of the people in the community, to ensure that they have total input and total control of their own destiny. That is something that has not happened before.



It has been so long that we have seen bureaucrats in Ottawa, who probably have never seen a fishing boat or maybe been on the salt water, to randomly decide on what our quota is going to be. It is nice to see now that fishermen and scientists are talking to each other. I have dealt in the fishing industry on a commercial basis selling equipment to these people all over the world for the last, almost 20 years, and I guarantee that when you talk to a fisherman and he says there is a limited amount of stock and what the fishery is doing, he is very accurate. He knows his information because that is where his livelihood comes from. It is nice to see the scientists and the fishermen working together, to come up with a sustainable plan that will bring us into the future in the fishery and guarantee a solid, sustainable income for our local and rural communities. It is very important.



Again I am going to bring back the emphasis on the clam fishery. That fishery has been ignored forever. It has been sort of a by-product, when you can't go lobster fishing or longlining, to go dig some clams to supplement your income. Well, that is changing and it is changing to a point now that with the proper marketing of clams and proper value added to it, it is going to mean a lot more to our communities and will mean that we can put forward a lot better plan in our communities that is sustainable and put that industry in a situation where it will grow and mean income for those families in the area.



In closing, again I would like to thank our Minister of Fisheries for his very proactive part in helping all these industries through this very difficult time and encourage our government to continue along the roads we are on, and encourage the local fishermen to really take control of their own destiny and not be afraid to stand up and be heard. Thank you. (Applause)



MADAM SPEAKER: We have reached the time of adjournment and I will ask the Sergeant-at-Arms to bring the Mace and the House stands adjourned.



[The House rose at 5:57 p.m.]





NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)



HOUSE ORDER NO. 70



By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)



I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move that an order of this house do issue for a return showing, with respect to the Department of Education:



(1) A breakdown, recommendation by recommendation, of the department's progress on the Coopers and Lybrand Management Structure and Practices Audit released April 22, 1994.