Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

















HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10, 1996



Fifty-sixth General Assembly



Third Session



2:00 P.M.



SPEAKER



Hon. Paul MacEwan



DEPUTY SPEAKER



Mrs. Francene Cosman





MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will call the House to order at this time and commence this afternoon's business. 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. 981



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



Whereas the Town of Amherst has had more than their share of economic difficulties; and



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Whereas IMP Aerospace provided some refreshing economic news for residents with the announcement of a $4 million deal with a Texas company that could lead to $25 million over the next five years if all options of the contract are exercised; and



Whereas intensive marketing efforts by IMP Aerospace have resulted in more than $20 million in contracts being signed in the past year;



Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature commend IMP Aerospace of Amherst for their diligence and hard work while in the process offering some promising economic news for Cumberland County.



Mr. Speaker, I 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 Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 982



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



Whereas this Liberal Government always viewed the Cape Breton coal industry, which contributes $219 million to the provincial economy, as a federal matter; and



Whereas the Minister of Labour rose in last evening's emergency debate on the cuts announced by Devco and the perilous future of the coal industry in Cape Breton to declare that, "It is a federal issue but it is a federal issue to a point. But all federal issues reflect on the province so therefore they become involved with us."; and



Whereas the minister declared at the same time, ". . . on behalf of the Premier and all my colleagues, we want to work together to resolve this.";



Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates the Liberal Government on recognizing the provincial face of the Cape Breton coal industry and urges them to show good faith by initiating discussions with Cape Bretoners of responses to the federal government's decision to scale down Devco, including a reinvigoration of the United Mine Workers' plan to reopen Donkin Mine.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is it unanimously agreed?



I hear several Noes.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.



RESOLUTION NO. 983



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 Cape Breton coal industry is the foundation upon which the Island economy rests, at one time fuelling the growth of the entire country; and



Whereas the temporary layoff of 1,200 employees and a permanent work force reduction at Devco by 800 will have a devastating effect on the Cape Breton economy unless a clear plan of action is brought forward to save the coal industry; and



Whereas all stakeholders, including the members of this Legislature, must work together to find appropriate solutions to the Cape Breton coal crisis;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House pledge to work together in offering constructive solutions that will ensure a viable Cape Breton coal industry.



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



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 Argyle.



RESOLUTION NO. 984



M. ALLISTER SURETTE: Monsieur le président, j'avise par les présentes que je proposerai, à une date ultérieure, l'adoption de la proposition suivante:



Attendu que le président passé de la France, François Mittérand, est décédé lundi dernier; et



Attendu que M. Mittérand était un véritable ami aux Acadiens(nes) de la Nouvelle-Écosse, venant de la même région de la France que beaucoup de nos familles acadiennes d'aujourd'hui sont d'origines; et



Attendu que M. Mittérrand démontrait son amitié en forme de bourses gouvernementales pour nos étudiants(es) acadiens(nes) qui fréquentaient les universités Françaises; parrainait des visites pour que nos professeurs acadiens(nes) et leur classes puissent visiter les sites historique de la France; et fassait des dons de livres et oeuvres litéraires à l'Université Sainte-Anne à la Pointe-de-l'Église;



Par conséquent, qu'il soit décidé que cette Chambre envoie ses condoléances à la famille Mittérand et au peuple de la France en mémoire de ce grand chef et ami des Acadiens(nes).



[

RESOLUTION NO . 984



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



Whereas on Monday, past President of France, François Mittérand died of cancer; and



Whereas Mr. Mittérand was a true friend of Nova Scotia's Acadians, coming from the same part of France that many of the present Acadian families in Nova Scotia originally came from; and



Whereas Mr. Mittérand demonstrated his friendship through his government's sponsorship of bursaries for Acadian students to attend French universities, sponsoring summer visits for Acadian teachers to historic sites in France and donating books and literary works to Unversité Sainte-Anne in Church Point;



Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its sympathy to the Mittérand family and the people of France in memory of this great world leader and friend of the Acadians.]



Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreeable to the House that notice be waived on that notice of motion?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



Does it call for the holding of a minute of silence? No.



The honourable member for Cape Breton West.



RESOLUTION NO. 985



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



Whereas the devastating impact of yesterday's announcement of the temporary layoff of 1,200 Devco mine workers are just beginning to be recognized across the province and the country today; and



Whereas the temporary layoff itself will means millions of lost dollars to the economy, but the impending best case scenario of the permanent layoff of some 800 miners will be completely devastating to the local economy and, more importantly, to the miners and their families who today sit in worry about their future in Cape Breton; and



Whereas we can only assume that the Premier was aware of yesterday's announcement before leaving for India;



Therefore be it resolved that the Acting Premier insist that the Premier utilize every possible minute with the Prime Minister, while on the Team Canada tour, to secure a real commitment to alleviate this situation before he returns to Nova Scotia.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.



I think it a little presumptuous, too, to presume that the Premier had any advance notice.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Cape Breton South.



RESOLUTION NO. 986



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



Whereas last night we saw debate in this Chamber reach new levels of mutual respect and decorum when both government and Opposition members engaged in an impassioned emergency debate on the future of Devco; and



Whereas in particular the members for Cape Breton West, Cape Breton Centre, Cape Breton North and Inverness should be commended for their heartfelt defence of the Cape Breton coal industry; and



Whereas the honourable Minister of Labour, the Leader of the Opposition and the member for Kings North pledged solidarity on the issue;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly continue to work together in the spirit of cooperation, as demonstrated by last evening's emergency debate, in order to help save the Cape Breton coal industry.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Cape Breton West.



MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make an introduction of four people sitting in your gallery. These four people are representatives of the Help Line, which is a community program in Sydney that helps people in need. The four people are: Janet Arsenault, Sharon Ings, Bernadette Donovan and Linda MacLeod. I would like the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.



RESOLUTION NO. 987



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



Whereas on this day in 1946 in London, England, delegates from 51 nations met; and



Whereas this meeting was the first meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations; and



Whereas as a result of this historic meeting, the United Nations has grown to be the most significant unifying agency of the world, presently active in all corners of the globe, promoting peace and harmony among all nations;



Therefore be it resolved that this House extend to the United Nations, and all its member agencies, congratulations and best wishes for continued success in bringing about peace and goodwill among all nations of the world.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is it 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 Hants West.



RESOLUTION NO. 988



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



Whereas one of the first actions taken by the Chretien Government, after its election in 1993, was to cancel a multimillion dollar contract with suppliers for the EH-101 helicopter; and



Whereas the Prime Minister, when questioned yesterday by a reporter about the validity the deals he is signing will have once India faces an election this year, and a potential change in government, the Prime Minister said he was confident that the tradition of one government honouring the contract of another would be upheld; and



Whereas since it would appear that this so-called tradition is somewhat shaky in this country, why should the people of Canada believe it to be any different from the tradition in India;



Therefore be it resolved that the Premier of Nova Scotia, on behalf of the Prime Minister of Canada, offer guarantees as to the soundness of the contracts signed upon his return from the latest Team Canada mission.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 989



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



Whereas metro Halifax merger coordinator Bill Hayward has rejected an increase in the food allowance for social assistance recipients in Halifax; and



Whereas social assistance levels in Halifax are among the least adequate of any major Canadian city and leave many recipients unable to afford even basic shelter and food; and



Whereas the merger coordinator has approved car allowances for commissioners in the new super-city that are six to seven times higher than the monthly food allowance for a child on social assistance;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Municipal Affairs order the merger coordinator to rescind his decision to deny Halifax City Council's plan for a modest increase in the basic food allowance for those most vulnerable members of society.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



[2:15 p.m.]



RESOLUTION NO. 990



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



Whereas at the hands of criminals, many victims of crime and their families have received a life sentence of trauma, grief and anguish; and



Whereas the Federal Court of Canada has ruled that prisoners, including violent offenders, who are now serving sentences of more than two years will now have the right to vote; and



Whereas the federal Solicitor General, Herb Gray has publicly stated that he is exploring ways and means to appeal this dreadful decision;



Therefore be it resolved that this House fully support and encourage the Solicitor General in his efforts to have this federal court ruling reversed.



Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreeable to the House?



I hear several Noes.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 991



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



Whereas nearly three years after its alleged formation, Nova Scotians are being kept in the dark by the Liberal Government as to what may or may not have been accomplished by a special Cabinet committee allegedly appointed by the Premier to review inter-urban bus travel across Nova Scotia; and



Whereas members of Cabinet responsible for bus service in the province stayed very quiet on this issue when asked questions in the Legislature on Wednesday of last week; and



Whereas according to Page 4689 of Hansard, the Premier was disturbed about the tag team actions of his Cabinet when he said on Wednesday of last week and I quote, "Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the government has not rehearsed its act well here.";



Therefore be it resolved the Premier ensure members of his government do get their act in place in 1996 so the destruction of rural Nova Scotia will cease, so that communities losing both government and busing services hand over fist, can look to the future with optimism.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



Are there further resolutions? If not that will conclude the daily routine. I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 p.m. and the winner is the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage. He has submitted a resolution for debate as follows:



Therefore be it resolved that this government continue its commitment and leadership to a single gateway authority for the Port of Halifax.



So we will hear discussion of that topic at 6:00 p.m. this afternoon.



We will advance to Orders of the Day. The Oral Question Period today will run for 90 minutes, from 2:18 p.m. to 3:48 p.m.



ORDERS OF THE DAY



ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.





NAT. RES.: DEVCO - STUDY (NOV. 1995)



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources. The minister is no doubt fully aware of the seriousness of the nature of activity, which resulted in the emergency debate last night and that is the tremendous crisis that all Cape Breton and this province faces with the layoffs at Devco. In April of last year, the federal Minister of Natural Resources announced an independent study which would look at improving the operation and the self-sufficiency of Devco. The report was to have been completed in November. My question to the minister is, could the minister indicate if he has seen that report and if, in fact, he has seen it, does the province agree with the thrust of the report?



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member opposite's question. Obviously, this government is very concerned about the situation, the announcement in regard to Devco and clearly, the issues such as safety and looking after the individuals that are affected that will be looked after properly. A long-term viability of mining in Cape Breton and anywhere in Nova Scotia is obviously a priority of this government.



With regard to the study, specifically, I haven't seen the results of any study undertaken by the federal minister at this point and if I happen to come by any study, I would be happy to share any information I am able to share with the member opposite.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, yesterday my office called Ottawa to request a study of the report and we were advised that it simply wasn't available for public consumption. I was unsure as to whether or not the government had received the report.



Is the minister prepared, if the report is not readily available to his department, to seek and request from the federal government a copy of the report and to make it available and to make it part of the program to restore viability to the Devco operation?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the final report that was done, the report by the federal minister in detail, I have not seen the detailed finalization of any report but I will endeavour to check with the federal minister in regard to that. Obviously it is an internal document, that of the federal government, this being a Crown Corporation, and it would be up to them to determine whether or not they want to release that information.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, among other things discussed last night in terms of assessing the serious matter in Cape Breton was the issue of the Donkin Mine. As you know, the two mines in Cape Breton, the Prince Colliery is getting long in the tooth and the Phalen Mine has serious technical difficulties.

Would the minister indicate what is the position of this government regarding opening of the Donkin Mine? If this government is supportive of opening the Donkin Mine, what is it prepared to do to see that the mine is reopened?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the issue of the Donkin Mine, I believe it is the intention of the federal government to review the whole issue of the Donkin Mine within Cape Breton and also to review the proposal put forward by the union. Obviously they are going to be looking at the economic viability of that particular option and other options in regard to the mining and Devco operation.





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



NAT. RES. - DEVCO: LAYOFFS - ACTION



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Acting Premier. Yesterday all Nova Scotians learned of the plan that Devco will be taking to the federal minister responsible, that among other things requires the temporary layoff of 1,200 workers at Devco, 400 permanent by March and 400 permanent by the end of three years. Also included in that five year plan is a very significant scaling back of production.



I would like to ask the Acting Premier whether, in fact, the Province of Nova Scotia is in support of this plan?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, we are not asked to support it or otherwise. This is a federal government initiative. Devco, as the honourable member knows full well, is a federal Crown Corporation. We are concerned about the coal industry but we want to see a safe operation. If they feel that in order to maintain a viable industry they must lay people off, they should provide for them with proper pensions and severance.



The bottom line is that there must be a coal industry there, if at all possible. If, by some downsizing, they can have that, I think that is good. I mean if the province says don't change anything and then the whole thing flops and there is nothing, we will be in far worse shape than if we have at least 1,300 long-term viable jobs with the coal industry in Cape Breton.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the activities of the federal government with respect to the coal industry in Nova Scotia over the past few years have shown very clearly that they will no longer provide the coal industry in Nova Scotia with the kind of general assistance that oil and gas companies in the West and associated with Hibernia received, in order to ensure that those forms of energy are available.



I would like to ask the Acting Premier if he could perhaps explain why it is that the Province of Nova Scotia is not making representation to the federal government to ensure, in fact, that the coal industry in Nova Scotia is dealt with on a level playing field?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, of course it is important that we have a level playing field but I think that the member may be rewriting history. I think he is looking back in the past, as his Party often does, and talks about federal grants that were present 10 years ago. The world has changed greatly and I think there is much less in the way of incentive programs, grants and subsidies for the oil and natural gas industry today compared to 10 years ago or 15 years or whatever the case may be. I think it is a more competitive and real world now and unfortunately coal, like everything else, has to compete. I believe that given the quality of the work force in Cape Breton, we can compete. We may have to downsize, our productivity will have to go up, we will have to have the safety, but I think we can compete and have a mining industry indefinitely in Cape Breton. (Applause)



MR. CHISHOLM: Well, Mr. Speaker, I am not talking about history, I am talking about what happens now in terms of very generous tax incentives, exploration agreements and money that goes directly into private corporate hands. We see millions of dollars of that kind of money going into the hands of private companies associated with Hibernia. All the coal miners and people in Cape Breton are asking is that their industry be dealt with on the same level.



I want to ask the Acting Premier in conclusion, in light of the fact that Devco's plan involves the permanent layoff immediately of 400 and at the end of three years, what are the Acting Premier and his government telling coal miners in Cape Breton and other people affected by the coal industry that they are going to do to ensure that the coal industry lasts well into the future, other than simply ensuring that the federal government provides a package of pensions for those laid off miners?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, it is important, if the federal government in order to preserve the industry must downsize, and I think one of the figures that should come out is the fact that apparently Devco has committed $25 million or $26 million to this. That is very important. We should also keep in mind that nobody wants to see anybody laid off, but we are talking about 400 and some of those will qualify for early retirement. There are 400 going by March of this year and another 400 three years thereafter but some of the 400 will get early retirement. The Province of Nova Scotia, through the various ministers responsible, will continue to press the main points: that we have safety, that the work force in any downsizing is properly treated and that we do what is right so that we can maintain jobs for the miners of Cape Breton in the long term.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



NAT. RES. - C.B. COAL: VIABILITY - ROLE



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Acting Premier. In assessing the government's role in restoring viability to the Cape Breton coal industry, in Question Period I received an answer from the Minister of Natural Resources that, in fact, whether or not the Donkin Mine would be reopened was a federal issue. As well, the province has not received the study which was initiated by the federal minister looking at the viability of the industry nor has the Acting Premier indicated his position in the five year management plan.



My specific question to the Acting Premier, what is the role of this provincial government in securing viability in the Cape Breton coal industry? What is your specific role as government of this province?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Our role is to urge the Government of Canada to accept their responsibilities. We have many responsibilities here and we are going to work on those. Let the Government of Canada look after theirs. (Applause)



DR. HAMM: By way of first supplementary to the Acting Premier, would the Acting Premier comment as to who is the custodian of the 200 million to 400 million tons of coal reserves in industrial Cape Breton? Who is the custodian of those coal reserves?



MR. GILLIS: Who is the custodian? I wonder, is this a legal question? Is the honourable Leader of the Opposition asking, is the title of those in the hands of the province or the federal government? I think there are mining leases. Maybe the Minister of Natural Resources, I might even turn it over to him, he might know if, in fact, the leases, I think they grant the leases in Cape Breton, unlike mineral rights in general in the province. Who is the custodian? Maybe I will pass it over and he can give a factual answer, if the federal government have those responsibilities.





[2:30 p.m.]



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the licenses that are there, obviously the provincial government is responsible for the assets under the ground. It is under a license to Devco and they would be under normal processing.



DR. HAMM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and that was my understanding, that, in fact, the coal reserves are really the purview of the province.



By way of final supplementary to the Acting Premier, will the Acting Premier tell the House when the government first heard about the plan to lay off in excess of 1,000 coal miners in Cape Breton? What was the date that Devco first notified the government that massive layoffs in the Cape Breton coal industry were going to occur?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I became aware, as Acting Premier, yesterday morning, I guess around the same time that Devco officials were briefing, starting, I believe, at something like 7:00 a.m., some of the union leaders in Cape Breton. It wasn't at 7:00 a.m., it was at some time later in the morning yesterday that I became aware.



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



ERA - DEVCO LAYOFFS: IMPACT - ECONOMIC



MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. I was wondering if the minister could indicate if his department has done or is in the process of doing an analysis on the economic impact that yesterday's announcement by Devco will have? I was wondering if, indeed, it is going to be similar to the one that was undertaken in Yarmouth when that announcement was made to discontinue the ferry service?



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I think as the Acting Premier has indicated, we are very concerned about the three elements of safety, of long-term viability of the industry and ensuring that workers who are affected are treated properly under federal responsibility. I think it goes without saying that the province is doing continual evaluation of the impact of both positive and negative news. This is negative news and we will be undertaking some economic analysis of the impacts of this, once more is known.



MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for his answer and I would hope that he would share it with us at the nearest possible date.



My first supplementary, Mr. Speaker, through you is to the Minister of Natural Resources. I was wondering if the minister could indicate if this government is actively pursuing any of the different types of technologies, such as carbogel or coal liquefaction or other types of products that can be formed using coal products? I am sure the minister is quite aware there was a project with carbogel, which is the mixture of coal and water. Test burns were conducted at the Maritime Electric Company Limited in P.E.I.



I wonder if the minister could tell us if his department is specifically looking at these types of things as an alternative, so that we can help employ more Cape Bretoners in the coal industry?



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to share with the member opposite all the research and development activities that are undertaken by our department and normally in conjunction with that of the mining industry and the federal government for the purposes of looking at alternative uses and better uses of coal in production of energy or other alternatives. So whatever information we have at the provincial level, and I would undertake to check at the federal level, I would be happy to share that information totally with the member opposite.



MR. MACLEOD: Would the minister please give a commitment to this House that he will look into making sure that this kind of technology, if it is not being pursued right now, will certainly be pursued at the earliest possible date?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in regard to research and development, it has always been an important vehicle for any resource-based industry to move forward. Obviously, whatever dollars we have that we can commit to projects in research and development, we have tried to do that. The federal government, under the last go-around in their budget, had indicated very clearly, had closed the subagreements for mining. Some of those dollars were used for research and development. But research and development, there is so activities going on and I will certainly undertake to share whatever information is available with the member opposite and to the members of the House who are interested in such information.



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



NAT. RES. - DEVCO LAYOFFS: ASSISTANCE - DOCUMENT



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Acting Premier. Yesterday in Question Period, relative to the mammoth work force reduction announced by the Cape Breton Development Corporation, the Acting Premier unsuccessfully tried to defend and exonerate the Savage Government's lack of activity by saying merely and simply that it is a federal responsibility. The Acting Premier should know that Nova Scotia does have a vested interest here.



MR. SPEAKER: This is Question Period, not lecture period. Give us a question.



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



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Question.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, 99 per cent of the time the answers are longer than the questions, so how about a little bit of parity here.



The Acting Premier should know that the Nova Scotia Government does have a vested interest; the resource, the coal in the ground belongs to Nova Scotia. The men, the women and the children who are going to be affected and are affected by this work force reduction are Nova Scotians.



Mr. Speaker, yesterday - I am reading from Hansard - the Acting Premier . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I cannot have a reading. Please, the question.



MR. TAYLOR: The question. The Acting Premier stated that a sum of $25 million to help alleviate those layoff situations is going to be provided by the federal government and the question is simply, can the Acting Premier provide documentation to confirm that the federal government has committed $25 million to help offset these devastating job losses?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I don't have any documents signed by the Government of Canada saying that they have done this but, as I understand it, through Joe Shannon, their president, they want to be fair to their work force and they want to try to have an early retirement program that is fair. They publicly stated in Cape Breton, to the union leaders, to the UMW and the workers, that they are going to do this. I accept it on face value from one government to another; in this case, on behalf of a Crown Corporation.



MR. SPEAKER: Last evening, I tabled in the House a document from the Cape Breton Development Corporation, which is available for all members to inspect, stating that this $25 million fund existed.



MR. TAYLOR: Excuse me, Mr. Speaker, would you mind repeating that? I had a little difficulty hearing.



MR. SPEAKER: I tabled a document last night from the Cape Breton Development Corporation which stated the things that you question. The Clerk has it.



MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Incidentally, I have some resolutions here that were provided by the then Liberal Opposition MLA from Cape Breton Nova suggesting that the coal and the coal industry and the workers in Nova Scotia are, in fact, a provincial responsibility.



MR. SPEAKER: Is this your question?



MR. TAYLOR: You pointed that out some time ago, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: We want a question.



MR. TAYLOR: My question is simply this - and again reading from yesterday's Hansard - and my supplementary goes to the Minister of Natural Resources. Yesterday, in Question Period, the Acting Premier indicated that the record will show that the Savage Government, through the Premier, and I am sure the Minister of Natural Resources, if he was called on, could tell us that he made representations to Devco to keep the operation and to ensure that it did not collapse. Well, I am calling on the Minister of Natural Resources to tell this House, the minister responsible for mines and energy, to highlight one of the representations that he made to the federal government in support of Devco.



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, this morning when I returned, I had a call to the federal minister, Anne McLellan, at about 11:02 a.m. I confirmed to her, again, the importance of Devco and coal mining in Cape Breton, as I have in the past.



AN HON. MEMBER: Today?



MR. DOWNE: Today and many other days, talking about the importance of coal mining to Cape Breton and coal mining and mining to all of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker. I want to point out as well that the Premier is fully aware of this situation. He is very concerned about it. He has undertaken to talk to the Prime Minister about the concerns in regard to the issue of safety, and that the individual workers affected will be treated fairly and, obviously, the long-term viability.



I believe the member opposite would agree with me. As an industry person, a person who has worked in the private sector for many years, he realizes that the importance of the economic viability of that operation is critical. It is critical to the long-term viability of coal mining in the beautiful Island of Cape Breton. We are going to do all we can to undertake to work with the federal government to ensure that we have long-term viability of that operation. That is what is so critically important here today.



MR. TAYLOR: I am pleased that the Minister of Natural Resources, responsible for mines and energy, found fit to call the federal minister. It is really encouraging, he called her today.



Mr. Speaker, the question is, by way of final supplementary, to the Acting Premier. Yesterday the Acting Premier suggested in Question Period, in response to a question, that talk is cheap. He contacted Mr. Shannon to urge him to be fair to any people who are laid off and come up with a plan. He called the Honourable Anne McLellan before the announcement, by the way, Mr. Minister. He talked to the Honourable David Dingwall. He asked for some action. He asked Mr. Dingwall to provide some action to try to alleviate this problem and he suggested that the honourable member, Mr. Dingwall suggested that, in fact, there would be action, there would be a plan put in place to alleviate this devastating announcement. Could the Acting Premier tell Nova Scotians what action plan Mr. Dingwall is going to put in place to help alleviate and offset this devastating announcement?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, it is not for me to enunciate Mr. Dingwall's action plan to help alleviate that. He is the federal minister for Nova Scotia. There is a president of the Cape Breton Development Corporation. It is up to them to spell it out. The reason I called both Mr. Dingwall and Mr. Shannon and also I did reach the Honourable Anne McLellan in Question Period yesterday, is to register our concern and ask that everything possible be done. But it is up to them to tell us and to tell the people of Nova Scotia and the miners of Cape Breton exactly what they are going to do.



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



NAT. RES. - DEVCO BOARD: REPRESENTATION - PROVINCIAL



MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Acting Premier. It has been established earlier in today's discussions that the coal reserves are certainly a provincial resource. My question to the Acting Premier is, could he tell us if the province has any representation on the Board of Directors of the Cape Breton Development Corporation?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I would have to double-check to be absolutely sure, I think the appointments are made by the federal Cabinet, but I think we recommend a person. I think that is how it stands, but I would be glad to have that checked.



MR. MACLEOD: I think you will find, Mr. Acting Premier, if you checked, that there are two representatives who represent provincial interests on that board. I would like to ask by way of my first supplementary, who do these people on the Cape Breton Development Corporation board report to, have any of the ministers talked to them in the very near past and if anyone has talked to those people since the announcement that was made yesterday?



MR. GILLIS: I will be perfectly up-front, I haven't talked to them but I will endeavour to check if anybody in the provincial government has talked to them. But remember, this is a federal Crown Corporation and again, I don't want to think back to some of the happenings in the past, under the previous governments in Nova Scotia under Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Cameron when Crown Corporations certainly weren't at arm's length and the government was operating the Crown Corporation. I will be glad to check but I think we had better be careful just how we operate once we find out who they are.



MR. MACLEOD: It has been stated, earlier today, that the government did not have any indication of whether or not the impending layoffs at Devco had been earlier notified. We are not sure but one day in this very House the Premier stated that he was very concerned about the conditions that were coming up in the upcoming announcements on Devco. The Acting President of the Cape Breton Development Corporation was in this House shortly before the Christmas break. I wonder if the Acting Premier could tell this House if there was any indication at that time of the massive layoffs and the destruction of the coal industry in Cape Breton?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I think anybody who paid attention to the coal industry could see, given the geological conditions and the roof-fall in the Phalen Mine, where I understand people are working in very difficult conditions to try to clear up rock falls would know, that there are difficulties. You just can't put the full work force in there. Also, anybody who has been following it knows, and I am sure the member for Cape Breton West would be, when the federal subsidy ended March of last year that there were difficult days ahead for the Cape Breton Development Corporation. You don't have to be a soothsayer to know that. But as I told that honourable member earlier, I found out about the layoffs yesterday morning at or about the same time the union leaders were being advised in Cape Breton.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



NAT. RES. - DEVCO-NSP: COAL CONTRACT - PRICE HONOUR



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Natural Resources. An analysis of the effect of Nova Scotia Power's effective blackmailing of Devco to agree to a 13 per cent reduction in the contract price of coal represents a reduction of up to $150 million or nearly $30 million a year in revenues for Devco; $30 million which would go some considerable distance to covering the losses that were indicated in the plan yesterday. Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister if he would explain why in fact the government did not step in and ensure Nova Scotia honoured the negotiated 30 year contract price, given that the very future of the coal industry in Nova Scotia was at stake?



[2:45 p.m.]



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I think it was quite evident. I believe yesterday Mr. Shannon made it very clear in his statements that there was no tie-in to the negotiated contract price to the decisions that are made here today. The federal government made it clear before that the subsidies to the Devco operation were going to be curtailed and that that particular mining operation is to become economically viable, somewhat self-reliant. Mr. Shannon made it very clear, I believe, yesterday that there is no direct tie to that. In regard to the negotiations, it is a private corporation and a federal Crown Corporation. They are big boys; they are big individuals. They are out there negotiating and they went ahead and did their negotiations. As I understand it, there was no direct tie to the negotiations and to the decisions that are made here today.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Shannon and the minister can say what they want but the figures speak for themselves, Mr. Speaker. The figures speak for themselves.



My first supplementary. The Liberal Government when they were in Opposition and again when they were running their election campaign in 1993 told Nova Scotians that they would regulate Nova Scotia Power Corporation to ensure that they bought Nova Scotia coal and that prices considered socio-economic factors such as the long-term viability of the coal industry in Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, in light of yesterday's announcement, could the minister explain his government's failure to take action on those very clear and often stated commitments to Nova Scotians?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I think it is very clear that things have been progressing in regard to Devco for a long time. That and the federal government's decision to deal with an issue of not just shutting down a mine but trying to find an opportunity for the future of mining in Cape Breton is the right decision in regard to the long-term viability in jobs for people in Cape Breton and the mining of coal in Cape Breton for the use of the indigenous fuels to be used in power generation in the Province of Nova Scotia. This government certainly supports that initiative of maintaining the long-term viability of the coal industry in this province.



The issue in regard to changes and reforms and so forth, the bottom line, Mr. Speaker, is that they have to be competitive, they have to be into the overall mix of being able to supply energy at a cost that is viable and reasonable to the consumer. I don't know if the member opposite is assuming that we should have higher rates of energy than we presently have; quite frankly, I think they are too high. In regard to the issue of Devco and its long-term viability, we are going to work with Devco and the federal government so that hopefully they will be able to make sure that we have a long-term, viable coal industry in this province.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, we certainly didn't hear so much work with, support, from this Liberal Party when they were running for election back in 1993. Then they thought that the Government of Nova Scotia had a role to play in such important matters.



My final supplementary. The minister will know that the government commissioned, at a cost of over $200,000, at least two reports that I was able to get my hands on, 1992 and 1994, which compared coal and gas fired power generation, to reach their conclusion of those reports that the long-term local, meaning Nova Scotia Power contracts, best provide the basis for developing the automated offshore natural gas system.



Mr. Speaker, I have asked this question of the minister before, but I would like to ask the minister, in light of the devastating announcement yesterday, if he could give us some indication of how far along his government is in discussions about the development of natural gas?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I think it is very clear that the companies, the consortiums, in regard to the SOP and with the pipeline are near the completion of Phase II of the pre-development study. Upon their board of directors', the consortium's decision, they will be making their decision in the very near future in regard to whether to go ahead with the third phase or not. We won't even know if the offshore will be a green light to go until some time in 1997. That is as far as I know in regard to where the gas project is today.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



NAT. RES. - NATURAL GAS DEVELOPMENT: COAL - POLICY



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the member for Halifax Atlantic accused the government of intending to displace coal with natural gas. I went to the 1993 Liberal Energy Policy and I have it here in front of me. I note that it states that the Liberals will advance and promote the development of the Venture natural gas project. However, I also note that no such specific reference is made to coal. My question to the Minister of Natural Resources is this, that this document seems to bare out the criticism made by the member for Halifax Atlantic and I would like the minister to explain the government's position which may contrast with the Liberal Party's position of 1993?



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the Liberal Government policy was, number one, to get the operating deficit and the debt under control in the Province of Nova Scotia so we have a future for our children. Secondly, it was to create jobs and economic opportunity. This minister and all ministers in this front row and all Cabinet Ministers and MLAs in this House should be doing all they can to create economic viability and jobs for Nova Scotians that are so badly needed, as is evident in the latest reports that we have just seen in regard to job development in this particular province.



With regard to whether it flies in the face of policy, it doesn't fly in the face of policy. We don't even know if a gas project is even going to move forward. Secondly, we have always supported in this House and anywhere in Nova Scotia the use of indigenous coals for the purpose of the generation of power. I don't see why members here are now trying to, in light of this very serious issue that we are dealing with in regard to the federal government's decision about Devco, start bringing in issues such as gas and the possibility of gas displacing coal. We don't even know if gas is going to go forward and we have always supported the use of coal. I believe when this operation of Devco can turn this operation into a self-reliant, economically viable, coal producing operation, they will be competitive with gas, they will be competitive with oil, they will be competitive with anything that goes to creating energy in the Province of Nova Scotia. Thank you.



MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the government's view is different from the view of the Liberal Party in Opposition. In this case, I commend it for its flip-flop. My second question, and the minister clearly will have no difficulty answering this since he has made it very clear that this government puts great emphasis on supporting coal, that same Liberal election energy policy stated that a Liberal Government will require that a fixed percentage of any royalties derived from coal mining should be dedicated to funding clean energy technology.



My questions are simple and straightforward to the minister, what is the fixed percentage and how much has been dedicated to clean energy technology research since his government came to office?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, clean energy technology and the use of, partnering together with Devco and Nova Scotia Power Inc. and the Department of Natural Resources has been an ongoing process. The cutbacks in the federal programs in the mining industry has obviously had an impact on us. We have been working to try to find best uses for coal and coal technology and burning cleaner and better coal technology all the time.



In regard to the actual percentage, I would be happy to get back to the member. It is not on the top of my head today but I would be happy to respond back to the question that he referred to.



MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, in the Liberal Energy Policy of 1993, the then Liberal Party in Opposition was very critical of the energy policy which was well-established of the previous Progressive Conservative Government. I wonder if the minister would confirm today that before we close the sitting off over the next few days, if he would be kind enough to table in the Legislature a copy of the Liberal Government's energy policy?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the policy that we have been working on for quite some time, I can certainly present what we have to date and we are working on further development of the energy policy for the Province of Nova Scotia. Those particular items I cannot bring forward but I can bring forward what we are working on now.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



LBR. - DEVCO: LAYOFFS - POWA PROGRAM



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Labour. As the Minister of Labour is probably well aware, when there have been mass layoffs in industries in this province heretofore, there has been a program in place called the POWA program, the Program for Older Worker Adjustments. Those programs have been put in place to take care of a massive layoff that affects a community.



I was wondering, in view of the layoffs at Devco, whether or not the minister expects that there will be a POWA program put in place for the workers at Devco?



HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, with regard to POWA, that is an agreement between the province and the federal government. I think the interesting thing is with regard to Devco's statement relating to that issue, which we have stated over and over, and that is in accordance with the Canada Labour Code. They have a different policy and there has been a joint committee set up between the union and management with regard to early retirement programs and things along those lines.



We encourage the federal government to take their $25 million that they have offered, or what they have told us is going to be available, and ensure there is some compassion and understanding for those miners and for their families. We would hope the union and the Government of Canada will develop a program which may even be far in excess of what they could get through the POWA program.



MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I have no idea how many of those 400 and eventually 800 workers would be qualified under any POWA program that would be set up because obviously there would be only a certain number of them.



The POWA program, as I understand it, is a lump sum of money, 50 per cent provided by the province, 50 per cent by the federal government. That is placed into an insurance company and the insurance company pays an annuity for the lifetime of the agreement.





If, indeed, there is only federal funding going into this program that the minister is describing, it would appear to me that in point of fact it would be a lesser amount because surely $25 million isn't going to cover 60 per cent or 70 per cent of the salaries of the displaced miners for a very long period, if it is just simply a solid block of money.



So is the minister saying that this would be an annuity that he is setting up? And would the province be providing any dollars into that annuity?



MR. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, it will be a federal government program and we don't know what it is. Under the federal law, there will be a committee which is put in place with the union and with the company and with the federal government. We hope that there will be programs worked out. I really can't comment on them and I don't think there is anybody in Nova Scotia who can today.



We support that those miners, the 400 who will be laid off this year, because we hope 800 or so are taken back within 8 to 10 weeks; we all hope that and hope maybe even more but out of the 400 we are told who will go by March 31st, I believe it is important that that committee of the union and the company and the federal government sit down, which they are going to do, and work out a program in the best interests of their members.



MR. RUSSELL: So I am taking it the minister is saying, Mr. Speaker, that there will be no provincial input into whatever financial arrangements are made to take care of the workers over that period.



My question to the minister then is, will he inject himself into this process to ensure that those workers who are displaced will receive at least treatment equal to the treatment that they would receive under the POWA program, if it was put in place?



MR. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, it is very clear, it is under the law of Canada, that is in accordance with the Canada Labour Code, a joint committee comprising both union and management representatives will develop an orderly work force adjustment program. I will support, Mr. Speaker, and we as a government support those people being looked after in a fair and just manner.



But no, we are not going to get involved in those negotiations because the federal law is very clear. I support the union, I encourage the union and I encourage management to sit down and work out a program that has compassion and understanding for those workers that will be affected and their families.



[3:00 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



ERA - PICTOU INDUSTRIES: SALE - PROPOSALS



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. The minister is well aware that the Pictou Shipyard was closed down about a year and one-half ago and early in December, the Nova Scotia Business Development Corporation called for expressions of interest in that facility. I want to ask the minister how many proposals were there and if those companies were companies that were involved in shipbuilding and/or fabrication?



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, we did make a commitment to try to the best of our ability to work with the community and to sell this yard as a going concern. There are expressions of interest from a number of companies, I am not sure how many, I can get the honourable member the information. Most, if not all, have to do with shipbuilding related activities. I can't confirm that some may not but certainly the majority contained elements of a shipbuilding/ship repair proposal. We are considering those now and we hope we have some good news, obviously, we are hopeful that that yard will be employing people again, but it is still premature. We are analyzing each and every submission.



MR. MCINNES: I am not sure what the minister finished up on in answering the question. But can he indicate today whether it will be a week's time, a month's time or three month's time that he will be able to make a recommendation to Cabinet and to see that the people in Pictou get back to work?



MR. HARRISON: The honourable member did hear correctly, we are concerned about getting the people of Pictou County and, in fact, all over the province back to work and in this particular case, to see this shipyard fully functioning again as a going concern with order books and work for people.



We are dealing here with private sector proposals. We have received a number by the deadline. We are analyzing them daily. I don't want to be held to a fixed timeframe because that takes time and we will do it properly. But I assure the honourable member, both he and his colleague, the MLA on the government side from that area, both of whom have been very vigilant and diligent in their advocacy for that yard and the workers of their area, that we are doing everything we can to make sure that a good sale goes forward.



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, to the minister again, and I do agree with him, the member for Pictou East has been very cooperative and has worked very closely with me in trying to help find a buyer as well as the Mayor of Pictou has spent a lot of effort and has worried and is very concerned. Last Monday morning I had the opportunity to sit down with the union representatives, they are very concerned. There are over approximately 200 people that aren't working. Their unemployment, of course, has long run out and the welfare rolls in Pictou are quite high. So I say to the minister, again, I ask him, and I know it takes time to have those proposals reviewed, but would they have them reviewed and hopefully we can come up with a new owner for the yard and get people back to work.



MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, there is no question that compliments are to be paid to people of the area, the union and the MLAs concerned. I would only indicate the success that this government had when it came to Trenton and to the almost 1,000 employees that are now working in that yard and know full well the work skills of the area, the people of the area. We will hope soon that some of the expressions of interest that we have received turn into deals that can be made for a yard that should be fully employing people again.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



NAT. RES. - NSRL SHARES: PAN CANADIAN - PURCHASE PRICE



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Pan Canadian has purchased - we saw in the paper yesterday, and Pan Canadian is a subsidiary of Canadian Pacific and we all know that Canadian Pacific is a very large Canadian and international company - LASMO. By purchasing LASMO and then following up with the purchase of NSRL shares, Pan Canadian will receive $700 million in a tax pool. This $700 million tax pool can be applied to the taxes owing by Pan Canadian to the Alberta and the Ottawa Governments. Their final savings in taxes will be in excess of $300 million.



I am wondering if the minister can indicate how much Pan Canadian has offered to purchase NSRL shares?



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I believe, if I heard the question correctly, that the member opposite made the assumption that Pan Canadian, in fact, had purchased NSRL. That is not so and, quite frankly, the disposition of those assets are being handled through Rothschild and I am not even aware of all the companies that are in a position to bid on those assets. So really, Mr. Speaker, I think the question is totally out of line.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Again to the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of Natural Resources may feel that a question is out of line but I am sure the minister is taking some interest. He indicated the other day that he was trying to stay at arm's length. Well, you know there is a difference between standing at arm's length and standing in another world.



Mr. Speaker, the question is simply, how much did Pan Canadian offer to purchase NSRL? Now that is not a difficult question.



MR. DOWNE: Talk about who is in another world, Mr. Speaker. I have answered this question time and time again. I am not aware of who is bidding on the NSRL assets, I am not aware of who is in the bidding or what the bids are. I will not know until the company, Rothschild, is prepared to bring forward the recommendations to me. When that happens, I will know exactly who is bidding and what the bids were.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Natural Resources, under the agreement when Pan Canadian purchased LASMO, is there an agreement in the document that indicates that Pan Canadian can have refusal on any purchaser of NSRL shares, they must have permission of LASMO in order to purchase it and since now LASMO has been sold to Pan Canadian, then Pan Canadian has first refusal on any purchaser. Are you aware of that clause in the agreement that LASMO had with NSRL and that Pan Canadian negotiated?



MR. DOWNE: If I got the question right, I mean I was trying to understand when he was obviously getting mixed up in the names, but if the question was am I aware of the fact that Pan Canadian, by purchasing LASMO, LASMO had a first option to purchase NSRL or NSRL had a first option to purchase of LASMO and whether or not Pan Canadian has taken over the rights of LASMO then, in turn, had taken over the rights of the first bid of option on NSRL, I am not aware of that, Mr. Speaker, I would have to report back to the member opposite at a later date, when I have that information.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



ENVIRON. - SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT: REGULATIONS - SUBMISSIONS



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. The Minister of the Environment released solid waste resource management regulations in November 1995. The public was invited to comment on these draft regulations and given a final date of December 15, 1995, although indeed a request was made to extend the guideline, a request that had been refused. Could the minister advise how many submissions were made in advance of that December 15th deadline and, if he has the information immediately available to him, to give us an indication what categories most of those submissions fell into?



HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the question is very relevant. I thank the honourable member for putting the question. We did, indeed, receive several responses before our December 15th deadline. I can't give him the actual numbers right now but I can get those at a later date.



I want to say that myself and the staff have been rather heartened by the content and the quality of the respondents, if you will. We have had everything from people who have called for stronger means of enforcement to those who would look for other commodities or items to be included in our removal from the waste stream, from municipalities who have asked for different time schedules and timeframes, so there is quite a mixture of submissions that have been made.



They have all been very positive, I might say, Mr. Speaker, and we are gratified for that. I will report to the House the numbers, which I think are everybody's business, in this regard, that we know that we are moving in a direction, that it is focused, and that the public have again participated in helping us keep that focus.



MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, of course the minister doesn't have to return to me a copy of my submission; I kept a copy of that for myself. But would the minister be kind enough at his leisure - it doesn't have to be in the next 48 hours or anything like that - to provide me copies of the submissions that were made to him, commenting on those proposals?



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I believe the end of the question was, a copy of all the submissions? Yes, I would have no difficulty in complying with that. It won't be immediately, but it will be in time.



MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I just want to confirm to the minister that that time line is fine with me. The regulations were to come into force on January 1, 1996. Beverage containers, corrugated cardboard, newsprint, scrap tires, lead-acid automotive batteries - if the regulations go through - are to be banned from landfills effective April 1, 1996, which is now less than three months away, two and one-half months, could the minister please advise Nova Scotians of the status of these regulations and if, indeed, April 1, 1996, is still the effective date?



MR. ADAMS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is the effective date. Most of the respondents are moving towards that date.



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



MUN. AFFS. - HFX. CITY DECISIONS: CO-ORDINATOR INPUT - CONTROL



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to raise a question through you to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Under the legislation setting up the amalgamation and allowing the amalgamation of the metro area - or ordering it, I should say - the minister, of course, has the ability according to that legislation to override decisions that are made by her coordinator. The coordinator in the area, Mr. Hayward, has rejected and denied the request of the plan of Halifax City Council to provide very modest increases in the food allowance that is being paid to those families in greatest needs, rates that have not been increased since 1990.



My question to the minister, through you, Mr. Speaker. Will the minister tell the coordinator to take his fingers out of what should be the municipalities own business and allow that decision of the city council, in fact, to go ahead?



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: No.



MR. HOLM: The answer was very short and simple. Mr. Speaker, that same coordinator has not only turned that down but, at the same time, that coordinator has approved increased salaries for senior staff, very high perks; in fact, car allowances that are seven and eight times what are being provided to children for food. My question to the minister, will the minister then order that coordinator to reject, to turn down, those car allowances that are seven and eight times what children receive, which he has the power to do?



MS. JOLLY: No.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I see we have a caring minister here. My final question then to the minister, because by her refusal to overturn the decisions, the minister is stating that she supports those two decisions, why has this government and this minister decided that those senior executives are more deserving of having a $500 to $600 car allowance than providing children with a decent amount so that they can have nutritious meals? Why has the government taken that decision?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, as per usual, the honourable member is mixing apples and oranges. As per usual, he has information that he wants to go in a certain direction that he feels is the only direction it can go. I think the coordinator was very clear, that if he approved the increased food allowances, there would be a debt put on the new regional municipal government and he is allowing the new regional municipal government to deal with that, as they should.



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



ENVIRON. - RECYCLING: COL. CO. - SITE CHOICE



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of the Environment. I listened quite closely to the answers that the minister just provided my colleague, the member for Queens, relative to the solid waste resource management regulations. Yesterday in the House, the Minister of the Environment undertook to come back to this House with information for all Nova Scotians and specifically, those in Colchester County regarding when the site for that region was going to be chosen. The effective dates for banning many materials from landfills is less than three months away and as mentioned by my colleague, is the minister prepared to provide, today, information relative to that concern?



[3:15 p.m]



HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday, I would seek the information and as soon as my staff make it available to me, I will make available to him and to the House.





MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Environment will know that the end of March 1996, less than three months away, is the date scrap tires are to be banned from landfills. Yesterday the minister said the Savage Government is moving toward a date which will be announced in the very near future whereby we will see scrap tires from across the province collected. I am sure I don't have to remind the honourable minister that Nova Scotians are very aware of the terrible fire that happened in Hagersville, Ontario. Will the minister assure Nova Scotians that a complete and operational tire handling process will be up and running by April 1, 1996, so that we won't see tires being stockpiled and becoming a fire hazard?



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, like I said yesterday, we will get the final details on the tire recycling proposal and submission that we are working on, very soon. The target date is, as the member prescribes and if that does change we will notify everybody but at this point we are on target.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am certainly pleased to hear that the minister is on target. In the proposed regulations there is no mention of household hazardous waste other than a ban of two of the most common household hazardous wastes, paint and antifreeze, there is talk of paint and antifreeze being banned from our landfills effective April 1, 1997. Would the minister please advise Nova Scotians what leadership the province is taking in the area of hazardous waste?



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I think we have taken some responsible leadership in listening to what all Nova Scotians have said over the past year when they make public submissions as to how we would manage our waste resource management program. In fact, we designed the strategy around the public reaction both on the street and in the municipal governments of this province. I would say that the two items that we have banned which are identified as hazardous waste, paint and ethylene glycol, which is antifreeze, from the landfill sites across the province are the two popular ones we receive from the public. I can say with some assurance today, that as time goes on those other items will be identified and removed from the stream as well. We are not going to do the whole thing in one fell swoop overnight because it is not the acceptable way to go. We do things in a focused and managed way and will continue to do that.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



NAT. RES. - NSRL: ASSETS - PIPELINE RIGHTS



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. I was wondering if the minister could indicate as briefly as possible why the rights to build a pipeline were taken away from the NSRL assets?



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, what he is referring to is the backing provision within the Act, I believe it is Chapter 3, Subsection 40 of the Act; I will check out the numbers. It was our decision that we had made this decision, as a government, that we no longer wanted to be a part of the offshore development program. The history was quite clear as to why. We made a decision that we had no further interest in pursuing additional capital investment on behalf of the taxpayers of this province for a project that, whether it goes forward or not or become economically viable or not, it is a high risk venture.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Natural Resources. Could the minister indicate what the status is of the salt caverns in the Strait area?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, to my knowledge those salt caverns are still there.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Again to the Minister of Natural Resources. I realize you are still there. I am just wondering if the minister (Interruption) Oh, Mr. Speaker, I was wondering if the minister could tell us what is the status of the asset of the . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: . . . caverns are almost as empty as his hospital.



MR. ARCHIBALD: The salt caverns are an asset of NSRL and I want to know, are they for sale? Is anybody bidding on them? I want to know the status of those salt caverns because they are of some interest to people in the pipeline business.



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the assets of NSRL, I think I have made it very clear that they are all part of a disposition team and in regard to what we are going to do with those assets, that will be reviewed at the right time.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



NAT. RES. - URANIUM: REPORT - TABLE



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Some time ago a request was made through the Department of Natural Resources for a copy of the report on uranium exploration and mining that was done by an inter-departmental committee. The department turned it down so we went through a freedom of information request and it was accepted.



More than 30 days have now elapsed since that review officer ruled in favour of releasing it and we still do not have the report. Will the minister file that report in the House today?



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, to my knowledge when requested for the report to go forward, the caveat that was on that request from the source for which you had requested it through, had indicated that without recommendations it could be let out. To my knowledge it was presented already. So I will just have to check with my staff to find out where it is. The member for Halifax Atlantic also requested it and so did you. To my knowledge I thought it was sent out, but if it hasn't been sent out I will check with my office.



MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the member for Halifax Atlantic also acknowledges that he has not received a copy either. I was wondering then, will the minister, in view of the fact that the House is starting to wind down, ensure that that report is tabled either today or tomorrow in the House?



MR. DOWNE: Yes.



MR. RUSSELL: I take it that there is no change contemplated at the present time to either extending the moratorium or extinguishing the rights to mine for uranium.



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I think we have gone through this many times in this House. It is very clear that no matter how long it takes, the moratorium in effect is still in place in the Province of Nova Scotia and, because of that, there is absolutely no reason to worry. As the member opposite knows all too well, as I have spent many hours or times speaking and trying to educate him about what is going on in that process, and I know that the member opposite means well but the moratorium is in place and he is safe, safe, safe.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



GAMING CONTROL COMM'N. - CASINOS:

FREE BREAKFASTS - LOOPHOLE CLOSE



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for the Gaming Control Commission. The minister acknowledged some time ago that a loophole in the regulations allow ITT Sheraton to provide free breakfast give-aways to those 55 years of age and over. I wonder if the minister could advise the House if the government plans to close this loophole and, if not, why not?



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: The issue that is raised is in the hands of the Gaming Control Commission itself and I am awaiting a ruling from the commission.



MR. MOODY: I am glad it is in the hands of somebody. The government moved very quickly to increase Monday nights for 24 hour, to extend that to 24 hour gambling and they were quick to allow liquor to be sold. I am wondering if the minister then could give us a timeframe of when the commission will report to her on this particular issue that she will have to deal with? Could she give us a timeframe?



MRS. NORRIE: The timeframe would be as soon as they reach a conclusion and make a recommendation to me.



MR. MOODY: Well, she doesn't know and I am surprised that she feels there is no urgency. Word around the city, in talking to restaurant owners and bar owners and so forth around the city, they understand that ITT Sheraton will be asking to serve free drinks. I am wondering if the minister has had a request or if the commission has had a request, is she aware of the ITT Sheraton's request that there be a regulation change for free drinks in the casino?



MRS. NORRIE: I have not received any requests and I am not aware of one.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



NSP - RATE INCREASES: URB - NAT. RES. REPRESENTATION



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question, through you, to the Minister of Natural Resources. The minister along with many other thousands of Nova Scotians will recognize the fact that we have just gone through a couple of weeks of hearings. They will continue before the Utility and Review Board as Nova Scotia Power tries to lobby for rate increases that will represent up to 10 per cent increases for many residential customers and small businesses. I would like to ask the minister if he could perhaps explain why it is that the Province of Nova Scotia is not an intervenor making representations on behalf of people in Nova Scotia including the government in these hearings?





HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, part of the process of the URB is to hear from Nova Scotians whether they are private individuals or corporations, to hear what they have to say about what is being proposed. In this particular case, obviously, it is Nova Scotia Power's appeal for an increase.



Mr. Speaker, we are watching, we are monitoring, we are listening to what is being said. We are very interested in the process. It is an arm's length process, that is why we have that independent body established, one that has a great deal of credibility in the eyes of many people in the Province of Nova Scotia and that arm's length process is underway and we are waiting to hear back their final decision in regards to this process.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, it certainly bemuses me to see repeatedly how much of a distance that this government and many of its ministers want to keep with important decisions that are being made in this province.



Mr. Speaker, in the 1993 budget the province imposed a new 3 per cent electricity tax estimated to bring $21 million of increased revenue to the province each year. We have attempted to get details on what the projected increases by Nova Scotia Power would represent in terms of revenue from the province, but were unable to do so, but making a rough guess on the fact that NSP are hoping to generate approximately $17.2 million from domestic and small business customers. It looks like the province will be in for a windfall of $516,000 in additional tax revenue.



I wonder if the minister would perhaps confirm that figure is in fact accurate and also perhaps alleviate some of the concerns expressed by some in Nova Scotia that the reason for the government's lack of participation in these hearings is the fact that it will benefit from the increase if it goes through?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I assume the decorum of the House is changing from what I understood when I got back early this morning, but obviously, I can see it has not. The member opposite is clearly asking for political intervention, a dictatorial approach to dealing with issues such as an increase in fees from the power corporation, just basically destroy the URB, tell all the people who are there who are going through that process or the URB itself, do not do the job, let us tell you and dictate to you what we are going to accept and what we are not going to accept. Do not listen to Nova Scotians. Do what the NDP want to do, dictatorially condemn a process before it is even able to undertake its job.



Then to mislead all Nova Scotians by saying it is because the government is not intervening in a process that would be perceived as political interference opening to the general public that that process is being not dealt with because there is going to be a tax revenue to the Province of Nova Scotia. That is so ridiculous and so immature it is not even worth answering, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)



MR. CHISHOLM: It does not take a question that the minister considers immature for him not to answer, Mr. Speaker. He generally responds to most of my questions that way, but let me say that with respect to energy policy when this group was running for election they talked a lot about regulating Nova Scotia Power to ensure, in fact, that decisions that they made were in the best interests of the public of Nova Scotia. The request is not that they interfere with the URB, if they are there in front of the URB to make representations on behalf of the residential customers that are going to be affected by this increase.





[3:30 p.m.]



Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is to the Minister of Community Services. It is estimated that there will be an increase to apartment and home dwellers of up to $52 per year for all of those people who do not have electric heat. I would like to ask the minister if he would indicate whether the province is intending to increase family benefits rates to coincide with increases in power bills?



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows quite well that the Department of Community Services, through our program or through the municipal units if there is a one-tiered system, as there is in parts of Nova Scotia, would deal with individual situations as they arise. If there is a need to change those within the basic core of benefits, then that will be addressed, of course. The question is obvious and the answer is obvious.



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



SUPPLY AND SERV. - SYDNEY TAR PONDS: CLEAN-UP - PLAN



MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Supply and Services. On December 14, 1995, in this House I asked the status of the plan regarding the clean-up of the Sydney tar ponds. The minister responded, ". . . it is in the very near future. In the very near future . . ." that the government would be announcing its plan. Well, it is almost a month later and I was wondering if the minister is any closer to the future now than he was then?



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, that is a very philosophical question, whether I am any closer to the future now than I was then. I would presume I am just about as close to the future as I was then.



AN HON. MEMBER: The future is not what it used to be.



MR. O'MALLEY: The future is not what it used to be and the future is not likely to be like it was in the past.



In serious answer to the honourable member's question, it is my hope that this time next week we will have gone to Cape Breton and made the appropriate statements.



MR. MACLEOD: Again my question, through you, Mr. Speaker, is to the Minister of Supply and Services. Is encasement of the tar ponds, or encapsulation, one of the options that will be announced in the near future?



MR. O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I do not have any intention of . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: You wouldn't want anyone to fall into them, Gerry.



MR. SPEAKER: Let's not fall into the tar ponds. Let's have a little order.



MR. O'MALLEY: That might prevent the odd dip, Mr. Speaker.



At the time of that announcement, Mr. Speaker, I will not offer a number of options; I will offer a specific program for the resolution of the problem.



MR. MACLEOD: Again, Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Supply and Services, I would like to inform him that encapsulation is not a solution to this problem.



MR. O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I really did not detect a question there.



MR. SPEAKER: It seemed more like a statement.



MR. O'MALLEY: I would like to respond to the observation made by the member that it is a worthwhile observation and is one I will make note of.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



HEALTH - PHARMACARE PROG.: REGISTRATION - UPDATE



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday the minister released a registration update regarding the Pharmacare Program. I noticed that there were 504 undelivered by mail, 6,078 had no response. The minister indicated when this program was set up that everybody that did not respond would be contacted by his department to make sure they understood the program and whether or not they should enrol. He extended the program first from the end of October to the end of November.



I would ask the minister are all of these people going to be contacted by his department and are all these people covered at the present time until they officially opt out of the program?



HON. RONALD STEWART: We are attempting both by mail and other ways to contact each of the individuals and until they are contacted, or if they refuse, one way or the other, given the next few months we will be covering them. What we want to do is partner with the pharmacists so that when anyone who has not responded comes in, they can be counselled to engage the program within the next 30 days.



MR. MOODY: We are running out of time because all those people who faithfully sent their $215 in, now there is a group of people who are still covered who have not obviously decided whether or not to send their money in.



I am wondering if the minister could indicate, because I think this is quite important, as time goes on, will there be a penalty or not for these people who come in and when will they be shut off? In other words, if they have not paid their $215 by April 1st, will they be cut off until such time as they pay the penalty that he is going to put forward or will they still be on the program?



DR. STEWART: The board of the Pharmacare trust is very cognizant of some of the difficulties that some people have in reaching a decision or perhaps in understanding the full import of the program and they are very aware of this and are about to make the decision as to penalties and so on. They will be announcing that within a short time.



MR. MOODY: I hope it is a short time because as time goes on and people do not know what the penalty is, it is hard for them to base a decision on whether they should get in or not get in and then if they knew what the penalty was, they would know exactly what is facing them. I think that is important.



I have had a number of people ask me if they can pay by credit card. In other words, I think you had to send a cheque in or money order at this point in time. As the minister knows, we are in a credit card age. I am wondering if the minister has given any consideration to allow seniors to pay this fee by credit card and I know he has not thus far, would he please look into it and see if that is arranged in the near future.



DR. STEWART: I take that under advisement.



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



NAT. RES. - FORESTRY: REPLANTATION - POLICY



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: My question is for the honourable Minister of Natural Resources. The minister will know or should know that the forestry in this province is being harvested at an alarming rate and many people in the forestry and many people in the forest circles are concerned for the future of the resource.



I wonder if the minister could tell us if, in fact, his government has any forestry policy in place that provides for replantation, such as New Brunswick has.



HON. DONALD DOWNE: The member opposite realizes that the federal government reduction in program funding for the subagreement was clear this last year. As of until March of this year we had approximately $14 million or $15 million for the purpose of reforestation. Sustainable development is number one and I will be happy to infer in the new year when the budget comes, I think we will all be waiting to see exactly what kind of dollars will be available from the province and, hopefully, from the future of investment in the industry in regard to long-term sustainable development initiatives and reforestation programs that are so vitally important to this province.



MR. TAYLOR: It appears from that response that we do not have a sound forest policy in place that protects the resource. It sounds from that answer that I can take that to an earlier question, the minister responded that really he did not have a sound energy policy in place.



MR. SPEAKER: These are editorial comments, they are not questions.



MR. TAYLOR: The question is simply this, a lot of wood fibre is leaving this province, including saw logs. I wonder if the minister can tell me as to whether or not he is aware that Irving, the big conglomerate Irving Enterprises is shipping a large number saw logs out of Weymouth?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, they have purchased property down in southwestern Nova Scotia and I understand that they normally were shipping wood out of there. It is my knowledge that they normally don't ship any saw log material. They usually utilize that in their own operation because of the small log technology that they have in their own mills. I am sure that they were shipping pulpwood. I am aware of that.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I don't mean this to be an editorial comment, but it is really too bad there is no sound forest policy that prohibits companies like Irving from shipping saw logs from this province. Unfortunately there is no policy. So my question to the minister is simply this, when will this minister, who is responsible for Natural Resources, have some mechanism in place, if not a policy, to monitor the wood fibre, including saw logs, that is leaving this province?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I would like the member opposite to table the factual information that Irving is shipping out saw logs off their own land. I would like him to table some factual information for this House. Maybe what he is saying is that we should be bringing in legislation to stop all private woodlot owners across this province, whether they be big or small, from trying to access the market opportunity to get a reasonable return on investment. If that is what the member opposite is saying, I think he had better smarten up and realize that that is not the way the real world works. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



ENVIRON.: CONTAINERS - TAX



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: My question is to the Minister of the Environment. In the solid waste program that he announced a little while ago, there is a tax placed on beverage containers of 10 cents per beverage container. I don't wish to really return directly to that, but my question to the minister is, would he consider that a container is a container? In other words, if a container contains apple sauce and you take that identical container and you fill it with apple juice, the apple juice container is taxed but the container containing the apple sauce is not. What I am asking the minister is, why is there a difference between these two containers which are exactly the same, contribute the same weight and mass to a landfill? Why isn't he taxing a container rather than just taxing a beverage container?



HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I know there are several questions there. Is a container a container? Yes it is. But I want to make it clear, before I do get into any part of the answer, that we are not applying any tax whatsoever to any container under our rebate program in terms of trying to get our containers such as bottles and cans out of the waste stream and into a value-added source for the province. We have not added any tax; we have indeed introduced a deposit system. The deposit system is just indeed that. The money which goes toward that deposit goes back to the people to the benefit of streamlining the waste stream of Nova Scotia and making it a better environment for this province at a cost-effective means.



MR. RUSSELL: The minister can sure skate around a question but the question is simply this. Why are you picking on the beverage industry to raise this money that the province is going to raise via, if you wish, a deposit system? I think everybody else would call it a tax system. Why not tax the container rather than taxing what it contains, because that is, in effect, what you are doing?



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I have to be honest, with all due respect, and say that that is a deliberate way of misleading the public. (Interruption) We are not taxing any container at all.



MR. SPEAKER: You can't say deliberately. Use mislead but not deliberately mislead.



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, we will withdraw the word deliberately but recognize that some misleading is being done here when you say that we are taxing. In fact, I don't have the powers as Minister of the Environment. The Minister of Finance only has that authority and responsibility. We have indeed introduced a deposit system and we have introduced that system on to those products which have been identified by the public of Nova Scotia for the most part and by our municipal governments and by our experts as being those first items that we will introduce to the program. Perhaps we could say the second items because the first were the liquor bottles which were carried out by the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission with our support and now we have gone to other bottles and plastic containers and cans. We have introduced a deposit, not a tax. We have had a number of phone calls from people asking what the Opposition means by this new tax they didn't hear about. There is no new tax, it is a deposit.



[3:45 p.m.]



MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that is a pile of rubbish, it is a tax. It is collected by the Minister of Finance and it is a tax on the beverage industry of this province and it is a very high tax, it is 10 cents on perhaps a can of pop that at the present time costs 40 cents, in future will cost 50 cents, that is a 25 per cent tax. I would ask the minister why does he not give serious consideration in view of the representations made to him by the beverage industry of Nova Scotia that the tax be applied to containers, rather than to the beverage industry?



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I think we have addressed the beverage industry in terms of the department. I do recognize that what they have looked for is their own personal favour and I find that a bit difficult to handle because that is the same industry that pulled out stakes in this province without much regard for the jobs that they pulled away from Nova Scotia through their companies (Interruption) I hear someone say, no wonder but I think it was that other administration at the time.



We are servicing the entire industry with this program. The beverage industry understands fully what we are doing, they will be benefactors as well as other products. Manufacturers of different packaging groups have contributed to the resource recovery fund which is administrating the deposit that we are receiving on these cans and containers. Again, we are not taxing, anybody that wants to refer to it as tax is really applying rubbish to the public information. It is a deposit system, the money goes back to the use of the public, it does not come into government coffers in any way. It is used and administered by an independent body of people who are involved with the recycling business and who are producers of packaging and manufacturing in this province. We are satisfied at this point in time and I think as time goes on we will be more satisfied that we have done a commendable job in cleaning up our environment in Nova Scotia.



MR. SPEAKER: There are 12 seconds remaining and I am going to rule that the time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired.



The honourable Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs.



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, in response to a question I had yesterday from the member for Hants West, I wanted to make a point of clarification if I could?



MR. SPEAKER: About Old Smugglers Scotch, I believe.



MRS. NORRIE: I would like to have the member opposite know and to clarify that Old Smugglers Scotch, in fact, has been delisted by the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission. At that time it was being sold for a price of $35. At the time of delisting, in order to clear the shelves, the price was lowered to $29.95. When it still did not clear the shelves, it was taken out to the Bayers Road store and on a manager's special it was lowered to $22. I regret to inform the bad news here is that the last bottle was sold last weekend and I would like to ask the member opposite if perhaps he was the one that purchased the last bottle?



MR. SPEAKER: That appears to satisfy the matter of the Old Smugglers Scotch. On that note I think we can move on to Opposition Members' Business.



OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, I got so wrapped up in the Old Smugglers Scotch. Would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.



PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 38.



Bill No. 38 - Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Act.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



DR. JOHN HAMM: Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to participate in debate in support of Bill No. 38, an Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1995, Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Act.



In November and December in this place we had opportunity to have extensive discussion on the new western alignment. The bulk of the discussion has been extremely unfavourable. We have, in this province, a legacy from previous governments, a gradually improving road system. I think back to earlier times when I travelled from my home constituency to Halifax in decades past on a single lane road that wound through all of the communities between my area and Halifax. It was a drive of some two and a half to two and three-quarters and sometimes three hours. We travelled through all the communities in between. It was a picturesque drive and a pleasant drive but it certainly took a lot of time and, of course, it wasn't a particularly safe drive because of all the access onto what was really a main artery road in our province.



Over the decades we gradually improved the road system in our province to the point where some of our province is now connected by twinned roads and certainly there has been upgrading of many roads in the province, both our main arteries and our provincial roads. We managed to do this, certainly with our main arteries, with a cooperative agreement and 50/50 sharing with the federal government. In terms of our provincial roads, we did it through a tax, taxes on motor vehicle permitting and, as well, a fuel tax, both gasoline and diesel. At this time those taxes bring into this province some $200 million. Some $197 million of that actually comes from our gasoline and diesel tax.



There was not a lot of criticism over that method of paying for highways because it was a tax that was applied fairly and it was, in fact, a user tax because those who bought the fuel presumably used it by driving on the roads. The amount of fuel tax that you use was certainly based on your usage of the roads. It is a fair way to tax all Nova Scotians for the building of roads. While none of us like taxation, all of us insist that if there is to be taxation, that it be applied equally and fairly.



That brings us up to the purpose of the bill, which is a bill to amend what will ultimately be the first toll highway in Nova Scotia, Highway No. 104, or the western alignment. Now no one in this place would debate the wisdom of very quickly twinning that highway. The recent fatality on that piece of road I think underlines the urgency to have this particular piece of road upgraded and, in fact, bypassed by the majority of the traffic by the new western alignment. So there is an urgency here and there is a requirement here to provide an improvement to this piece of road, in an attempt to eliminate the dangerous situations that result in the fatalities that have occurred over the last couple of decades on this particular piece of road.



The government has chosen to fund this particular piece of road in a different way, that is by applying a tax to those who use the road. Of course that tax is in the way of highway tolls. It is not a particularly efficient tax, in one sense, because certainly figures that are coming out of the United States indicate that the cost of maintaining a single toll booth is something in the order of $300,000. As yet, the details of exactly where and the configuration of the toll booths is not available because I presume that will be part of the proposal and the contract that the government will sign with the company, if this project goes forward, as it seems to be doing.



So looking at some of the obvious mistakes that the government has made in setting up this particular arrangement to provide us with some 40 kilometres of new twinned highway, in an attempt to correct the mistakes, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit is introducing this Private Member's Bill in an attempt to improve the situation for highway users in this province.



One of the situations that I see happening in New Brunswick - and an initiative that I applaud - they are building a considerable number of kilometres of twinned highway as well because their road system in fact is in worse shape than ours, and what they are doing up there, they are going ahead with the twinning project, a huge amount of twinning, and they are doing it without the introduction of toll roads. They have been able to do this by aggressive negotiations with the federal government and they are receiving cost-sharing for their highways and they have found a way to provide twinned highways without resorting to tolling on those roads.



Tolling in this province was never a very successful operation. One will recall, of course, we had tolling on occasion on the Canso Causeway. The government likes to make light of the elimination of the tolls on the Canso Causeway, but I have yet to hear of one member of this Legislature from Cape Breton calling upon this government to restore the tolls on the Canso Causeway. A most inefficient tax collection system existed there and one that should have been eliminated and in fact was eliminated by the previous government. While it may provide the members of the government with some political mirth, the elimination of the tolling on the Canso Causeway was in fact the right thing to do.



Could we build the 40 kilometres of twinned highway, the so-called western alignment, without tolling? Well, Madam Speaker, of course we could and that is what this bill to amend is all about; it eliminates tolling on the new western alignment proposal. When you look at what this toll does, it is, in fact, for those residents who will want to use this new toll road -and well they should want to use it if in fact it is a safer highway - it is a safer way from Point A to Point B, from Masstown to Thomson Station. What is the justification of the residents of that area using the highway, which this new twinned highway is designed to by-pass? Why shouldn't these residents use the best way from Point A to Point B and why should they, in order to use the best piece of road from Point A to Point B be forced to pay a tax that those of us who live in other parts of this province are not asked to pay? We pay for our roads in other parts of the province with the fuel tax and with permit costs, which is fair and equitable to all of us.



One of the correct observations that has come out of the Cumberland-Colchester area is the fact that there has been no economic study as to what will happen to businesses that are being forced to pay this toll. Will it in fact change the buying patterns of people in Cumberland County? Will they now no longer travel to Truro and do their purchasing? Will it be suggested to them, because of the increased cost of that trip, that they in fact will do their shopping in Sackville or Moncton? What advantage to our province will that be if in fact we change the traditional patterns of commerce in this province by initiating this toll road?



What about those businesses in Cumberland that in fact will be forced to use the road? We are putting a new cost on doing business in that particular area, a cost that is not being borne by businesses in other parts of the province. This is a tax that is not equitable. It is not even-handed, it is not fair and it is a tax that should be eliminated. Taxation should be fair and should be borne equally by all of us.



[4:00 p.m.]



Now in New Brunswick, they have a White Paper on Transportation. They now have estimated that it will cost the province some $2.2 billion to do the necessary road improvements that have to be done, perhaps over the next decade, to bring their road system up to scratch. I would suggest that it is high time that this provincial government, in fact, do the same thing and come up with a White Paper in terms of what are the road improvements that should be achieved in this province over the next decade and how are we going to finance them and what is the order in which that construction work is going to be carried out. This is the kind of long-term planning that governments should be involved in, not thinking just in terms of four year periods, but, in fact, planning over decades.



I can remember very clearly in my particular area when some twinning went on of the area known as the Blue Acres area. A few years before the highway had been put through there, but it was a single lane highway, and an overpass was constructed at a cost of over $1 million. Then, just a few years down the line, because there was no long-term planning in place - and this is not a problem for this particular government, but it is certainly an example of governments not doing long-term planning - but in fact when the twinning of that same highway occurred, that almost new overpass had to be replaced because it wasn't lined up properly for the twinning that was now taking place. Here you saw the wrecking ball knocking down an overpass that was less than 10 years old. That is the kind of thing that goes on, Madam Speaker, when there isn't a long-term plan in place.



Now there have been some other good points to Bill No. 38, proposed by the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. We had discussion in this place about whether or not in fact the consortium that will be constructing this highway will in fact be required under the procurement Act to follow government guidelines in purchasing for contracts, services and so on. Clearly there will be no obligation for this consortium to follow the Procurement Act. But the distressing thing is, as well, the bill gives them exemption from the Freedom of Information Act and Protection of Privacy Act.



Now, if we are going to start through partnering, involving private enterprise in providing services that normally have been provided by government, then should not our partner, the partner of government, be subject to the same kinds of restrictions and the same openness and transparency that government agencies are subject to? It is only fitting that if we are essentially going to provide to a private consortium the right to provide the main transportation link out of this province, then, in fact, they should be subject to the same safeguards that other government agencies are.



Now Madam Speaker has indicated that I have but a minute now.



MADAM SPEAKER: It is actually narrowed down to about 30 seconds, honourable member.



DR. HAMM: I would like to make a further observation that this bill, as well, makes the corporation a public utility. In fact, I think that is a very sensible approach and it would ensure that the Utility and Review Board would be the agency that would in fact set the tolls on this highway, absolutely guaranteeing fairness for the public. Thank you, Madam Speaker.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to rise to speak on the bill and indicate as I begin my remarks, that certainly I will be supporting the bill going on. I am sure that doesn't come as a great surprise to many members of the government. But I see some contradictions in the bill, quite honestly, in the way that the bill is written. It seems almost like an either/or situation. I hope if this bill does receive - which it is not likely to, however - approval of this House to go on to the next stage, I would be looking for some amendments to the legislation and I will try to explain why.



First of all, the bill that is before us really does two things. One, and most importantly, the bill is calling for the elimination of any tolls on Highway No. 104 that is to built, the elimination of any tolls or toll collections or any references at all in the bill to things like toll booths. If, in fact, any references to tolls are removed, then quite honestly we would not need the rest of the bill. In fact, we would not need the Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Act, because the only purpose for the corporation that is being established for the Highway No. 104 western alignment is to actually be building, supposedly in this public/private partnership, that highway and operating and maintaining it and collecting the tolls and so on, and almost acting as a conduit through which the money is going to be flowing from the users to the consortium and also to the province.



I am going to be speaking to two points here. First of all, the principle that there should be no tolls. Certainly, our caucus supports that in total and we believe that it is grossly unfair, that those who are using this section of highway, whether they be the truckers or the local communities, should not have those tolls being imposed upon them.



The bill itself, however, I think has built into it almost the assumption that the government is not going to accept that, and if it is not going to accept that then these other things will apply. For example, there is no need to set up that corporation with the increased costs of that corporation when we have a government department that is quite capable of managing, operating and maintaining that highway without the aid of any separate consortium. They are maintaining all the other highways in the province and they have shown that they have the ability to build other highways, so there is no need for that consortium, period, if there are to be no tolls being collected and if that road then were to be built as other highways are in the Province of Nova Scotia, by a very capable staff within the Department of Transportation and Communications.



I am saying as well that if there is no toll to be charged, then there is no need to make it a public utility which would then be regulated by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board. Nor would there be any requirement to make a provision that the Freedom of Information Act would apply because if it being done by the Department of Transportation and Communications then, of course, the Freedom of Information Act applies automatically.



What I would be arguing for most strenuously in the first place is that this bill should pass and then that it should be amended and it should be amended really to the extent of saying that the previous bill, the Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Act legislation, is repealed and the highway would be built as a public highway like other highways in the province. I say that for several reasons and one of the things that is quite clear, one of the things that is being done here, one of the primary purposes for proceeding this way is to play a shell game with the cost.



What the government wants to do, because we know we have both an operating and a capital deficit. We have both operating and capital accounts. The government is saying that we are bringing the operating costs under control and are projecting that this year we will have a surplus. My guess is that that surplus will probably be somewhere in the range of, at least, $20 million.



We, however, also have a capital account and that capital account is still running a deficit. The province is saying that we are going to bring our capital account under control as well. So what the government is doing is not providing the monies or a way to do that, Madam Speaker. What this Liberal Government is doing and the Finance Minister and the Minister of Transportation is that they are saying, we will pretend that the capital costs for projects that are built in Nova Scotia are not ours. We will put a shell on it. We will then slide them across the table and we will say that those capital debts are not ours because they appear on the books of the consortium that are building that highway.



Yes, indeed, public dollars are going to pay for this. They are going to pay for it because there are tolls to be built and those are public dollars that are being put into those toll booths and, Madam Speaker, as well as those tolls, there are going to be some $55 million of public monies spent on that road. So all the government is trying to do, whether we are talking about this or whether we are talking about the building of schools on private partnerships, as well, is to hide those capital costs on somebody else's books to make it look like this province is also bringing its capital expenditures under control. But actually it is going to cost more.



I would challenge the Minister of Finance or any members of this government to stand in their place and to show us how it is or to explain to us why they would allow the costs to be borrowed by a private company at a higher rate of interest than this province would have to pay. Because the fact is the province receives a preferred borrowing rate of approximately normally 2 per cent below that at which the private sector can borrow it. So if we are talking of 2 per cent on $50 million, we are talking interest rates alone of at least an additional $1 million per year. If you amortize and you spread that out over a long period of time, we are talking countless millions of dollars.



If the government was intent that this road had to be built using tolls, then at least do it in the most cost-effective way and that would mean that the province build and finance that road and get those preferred interest rates so, Madam Speaker, that those monies that are coming in can go to pay it off as quickly as possible and to get that toll off. But, no. For politics, I would suggest, for political reasons, the government is trying to hide that and that is going to cost the residents in Cumberland County and Colchester County the greatest amount and that is wrong.



Dealing with this bill, if in fact the government is intent, and, like I say, this bill has two components, one, if in fact the tolls are gone, as I said earlier, there is no need for the corporation, there is no need for the western alignment bill. Let's just let the Department of Transportation and Communications do that which they know how to do very well, thank you very much. If they are able to build it on the same kind of timeframes and not only the same kind of timeframes, but according to the same specifications, I would suggest that they could build it at least as cheaply as the private sector can. I believe that our staff in this province are as capable as those who are working for any of those companies.



Now, dealing with the board in this bill. If in fact the government, I am now going on the assumption, as I said, I will want to be moving amendments if this bill goes on, but if dealing with the board, there are several other items in this bill that I want to speak about, as well. For example, if there is to be a board for this corporation because the government refuses to back off on the taxes, one of the provisions in this bill has, of course, the Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications and a member of the council of the Municipality of Colchester appointed by the Governor in Council, I so agree. That representative should be recommended and have to be recommended by that county. One member of the council from the Municipality of Cumberland appointed by the Governor in Council, again, I would say that person should have to be first recommended by that council. Then four other persons appointed by the Governor in Council.



[4:15 p.m.]



Madam Speaker, I think that it would vitally important as those members are to be appointed that there be a requirement that some of those representatives be representatives of the consumers. In particular, I would say that there should have to be a representative on that board representing the heavy users and those who are going to have to pay the greatest amount dealing with the truckers.



Also, Madam Speaker - and I do not have as much time as I would like to speak according to our rules on this particular one - I think that it is vitally important that the Utility and Review Board, if there are to be tolls charged, should have the same and we have the hearings going on right now dealing with power rates. The Nova Scotia Power Corporation has to prove to this quasi judicial body that rates that they are seeking, increases, are justifiable. That board has the ability to hire experts to get legal advice, to get accountants to ensure that whatever rate increases or changes in schedules are justifiable and they should.



Also, I would say here because we are dealing with a monopoly, a public private corporation that has, according to this, the abilities to increase rates. Madam Speaker, the major concern of the consortium, the owners of that, will be to maximize their profits. The Governor in Council will be sharing in any increased revenues that are brought in that are in excess of that which are needed to pay for the operating costs and the borrowing costs. Yet the Governor in Council, at any time it so chooses, can give authority according to the bill, the Highway No. 104 Act, the powers to increase those rates. That is a conflict of interest. That is self-serving and that is a way for this government to try to increase its profits off that Highway No. 104 by a hidden tax. A tax that is not debated in this House and which is not reviewed by anybody.



I believe that any rate increases, if there is to be a tax, if there is to be a toll, should have to undergo the scrutiny of the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board. Somebody who at least will have the opportunity to see if the claims for additional funds and jack-ups in the rates of tolls to be charged is in any way warranted or if in fact because of maybe reduced interest rates depending upon how it is financed, that it would be more appropriate to reduce those rates.



Madam Speaker, another important provision of this Act and it is sort of shocking that the government had not included it. We are talking public private partnership. The government may try to be hiding this and pretending that it is not a government involvement, but the government does have a crucial involvement. The government also is going to be mandating who has to use that road. This is a government that said they believed in openness, honesty, transparency and accountability. So they would have us believe.



Madam Speaker, if there is any substance to what they say at all then they will require that in fact that corporation be subject to the terms and conditions of the Freedom of Information Act. They tried to get away without allowing the Auditor General to be able to have full audits and now the Auditor General can do part. This bill will need to be amended, but it certainly deserves to be passed so that the best interests of the people of the Province of Nova Scotia can in fact be served.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester North.



MR. EDWARD LORRAINE: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate on Bill No. 38. Now before I get into the meat of what I am going to say, I want to give a little history of the section of highway between the end of Highway No. 102 and Thomson Station. I recall in the spring of 1988 the then Premier, John Buchanan, speaking at a meeting in Amherst, announced the construction of the highway from Truro to Amherst, starting on both ends in the fall of 1988. Of course we knew that was a farce because there was no planning that had ever taken place. We knew the highway couldn't start construction at that time.



When the Premier at that time announced the construction, there was nothing said about any economic impact study, and I hear the Leader of the Opposition here today talking about economic impact study and I hope to touch on that later on. But when they announced the construction in the spring of 1988 to start on both ends, Truro and Amherst, in the fall of 1988, no construction actually started until along in the fall of 1989, and there was some construction that did take place on the Amherst end, with what some people call death valley, I could never understand why funding was spent on the Amherst end instead of the end where all the accidents and the deaths were taking place. I guess it started there because the Deputy Premier at that time lived in Amherst and represented that portion of the constituency.



However, the construction did start up there. It looked as if in the next year we were going to get some construction started but really nothing had happened on the Truro end, from the end of the Highway No. 102, until in 1992 there was a great deal of discussion. I remember the member for Kings West who was Minister of Transportation at the time, held an information meeting at the Glengarry Motel in Truro. It was a very good meeting, well attended by the public. At that time they talked about the preferred route or registered route, they called it, which was the preferred route. That was running through the existing Wentworth Valley, alongside the highway that is presently there, but did go in back of Folly Mountain, Folly Lake, instead of on the present side where the Trans Canada Highway is, it was going to go on the opposite side, on the right hand side of Folly Lake and then down and back over the Wentworth Valley Motel.



Well, there was a very small handful of people who objected to that route. So the government then took a real look and they decided - they came up with four different routes. One was called the western alignment. That route ran over Higgins Mountain. I said then and I will say it to this day that that highway is in the wrong location because surely if you are going to build a highway, it should be built with safety as the number one priority; number two would the construction costs of that highway.



You would not have to be a rocket scientist to realize that if you look at the terrain and know the area, that that highway could be built nearly as cheaply on the western alignment as it would have been on the eastern route that they had proposed. There is nobody who could argue that. If you take a look at the infrastructure that was involved, would have to be involved.



Anyway, at that time we, in Opposition, asked for an economic - they were going to do an environmental assessment - we asked that the environmental assessment should be done on the western alignment as well as the eastern route, along with an economic impact study, where it was going to have the most effect on the economy of the County of Colchester and the County of Cumberland.



I think, had that been done, which it was not - I see the member for Kings North watching and I will be touching on him, because he was Minister of Transportation for a short spell, thank God. (Interruption) Had they done that economic impact study, but in the meantime, between the member for Kings West and the member for Bedford-Musquodoboit Valley, the Honourable Ken Streatch and he did go to Tatamagouche and he held a meeting -I happened to be a member of the area being represented - with Bill Casey, who was the federal Member of Parliament. Bill did call me and apologized when he saw that I was not at the meeting. He wanted to know why I was not there. I said, well, I did not know anything about it; I was not invited.



That is the way that former government carried things out. They did not want the member of the area who had favoured an eastern route and had a fair amount of background in regard to the location of this highway, they did not want that member there because they did not want to be embarrassed in the Village of Tatamagouche where we were holding that meeting.



AN HON. MEMBER: Come on, you just didn't read your mail.



MR. LORRAINE: Well, just a minute. Talk about reading my mail, I used to be accused by the former Deputy Premier, the member for Cumberland East, he accused me of getting mail addressed out of Springhill. That is who was writing my letters. Do you remember that? That was a great debate in the House. Well I read every piece of correspondence, but I never got any invitation to the meeting in Tatamagouche, because the Tories did not want me there because they did not want me to embarrass them. (Applause)



Anyway, that meeting was held in Tatamagouche and there was no consideration of what we were asking, and the people from Tatamagouche formed a committee and did a pretty good job, and a lot of study, and spent a lot of money getting a safe and sensible transportation committee - I think they called themselves - getting this thing put together. They made representation to the minister who is sitting there for Kings North, or was the minister at that time, and they tell me he looked out the window and did not even listen to what they were saying and there were some very responsible people from Tatamagouche and Colchester North who were on that committee.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate part of what he said. The honourable member indicated that I met with those people and I do not think you can find a group or organization that I did not meet with when I was in Cabinet if they wanted to meet. I did not hide from anybody. I certainly would not have held a meeting without letting you know, and you did not accuse me of that, but you know, the great thing about it is there is not a window in the meeting room where we met. It was an inside boardroom so, if I was looking out the window, I must be Superman because there is no window in the room, Ed.



MR. LORRAINE: Well, I should qualify that, there were no questions anyway, just the speech, but I should qualify that because the minister did meet, and I said he met with them, but he sure as hell did not listen to them, because look where they put the highway, on the western route, the most dangerous route that you people could have chosen in the Province of Nova Scotia; that is where the highway went.



Now they talk about the four routes and there they are right there. You know, who put this paper out? The Department of Transportation and Communications in 1992, Highway 104 Update, by the Honourable George Archibald, and I think that is the same Honourable George Archibald who is in the House right now.



Here, in your own publication - come a little closer and I will show it to you - it has a heading called Cumberland County. It talks about where the highway is going to be located. It talks about Colchester County, and the only thing they are talking about in Colchester County is starting the twin and planning twinning of the section of highway from Truro towards New Glasgow, Kemptown. Not a mention of that dangerous section, the death trap they call it; not a mention of anything happening there.



So while I am on that trend, I want to mention, for a minute, later on after Premier Buchanan leaves, Premier Don Cameron comes into office and they spent hundreds of millions of dollars twinning between Truro and New Glasgow. Now if this was a priority, getting this highway, as you people said it is and said it was then, why didn't you put the money on the death portion of the highway? (Applause) There would have been enough money to build that and still do some work between Truro and New Glasgow. Why wasn't it done? (Interruption) No more questions, unless you are giving me extra time.



[4:30 p.m.]



MADAM SPEAKER: Are you on a point of order?



The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Madam Speaker, the only point of order I would like to make is, the highway strengthening agreement, the SHIP agreement that was signed with Ottawa and Nova Scotia, the total value was agreed to by the previous government. The allocation of those funds to the penny were made by the government after the election of 1993. If you have a problem with the allocation of those funds, then I suggest you talk to the current Minister of Transportation.



MADAM SPEAKER: I do not consider that a point of order.





MR. LORRAINE: I do not have the SHIP agreement with me, but I have read it many times, he is partially right. They did have some money agreed to that would have built the highway halfway, that section, it would have been called the highway to nowhere, because where were you going with it? You could only go halfway. The same as the one down in New Glasgow, Pictou County was built to nowhere. The same as the two bridges that you people built. The bridges were built, but there was no highway on either side of them. A hell of a good plan. That is the way you spent money in those days.



All right, I will talk about tolls. I have no problem with tolls because I suppose I was one of the first ones that really got interested that I heard talk about it and I was talking to myself one night and in this House. I talked about tolls because I related at that time and you will remember me saying to user pay basis, like we did in the County of Colchester, when I was Warden in the County. If we wanted a sewer system, it was charged by an area rate to those people. When I go down to the States, I pay a toll and for the type of highways I am driving on, I have no objections to pay the tolls.



If I differ on the tolls, any at all, I would have gone a bit further, I would have a toll gate at the end of Highway No. 102 and I would get the traffic going to Cape Breton, Amherst and Halifax. That is where I would put the toll, so do not think (Interruption). Don't you worry, you will never be around long enough to make it to Cabinet, so what the hell, don't worry Brooke. (Laughter)



I want to get back to that economic study. They did the environmental assessment. They did not do an environmental assessment on the eastern route, the route to Tatamagouche that I maintain could have been built a lot cheaper. They did not do an economic survey, they did not take safety into account, because anybody knows if you go down to the Bay of Fundy, when that tide is coming in and out, you will see a change of sometimes as much as 20 degrees in temperature. Can you imagine what effects that will have on that road going over Higgins Mountain in the wintertime when you have the tide coming in and out which happens twice a day.



I cannot understand anybody and you do not have to be a highway engineer, but my God, if you had hired a few farmers from Colchester County, Pictou County or Cumberland County, they could have designed a better highway than what is being designed. Nevertheless, this government was stuck with bad decisions that that group made. We had to live with it. I was here, I was around for a spell, I know. Your problem, Brooke, your problem is as Harry Flemming described you in the Daily News today, it is a good description of you. Thank you very much. (Applause)



MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 731.



Res. No. 731, re Gaming Control Comm'n. - Lottery License: Process - Reverse - notice given Nov. 29/95 - (Mr. B. Taylor)



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: I am pleased to rise and speak on this resolution this afternoon and I should advise the honourable member for Colchester North that I haven't seen the Harry Flemming column but I will look it up.



I would like to read the resolution, Madam Speaker, because I think it is very relevant. It is very important that the Minister responsible for the Gaming Control Commission understand that many of our service clubs in this province are being severely handicapped by the fact that should they apply for a lottery license, the wait is just too long, in very simplified terms. The resolution is;



"Whereas little league teams, volunteer fire departments and countless non-profit and charitable organizations must now wait two or more weeks for a lottery number that used to be provided in 24 to 48 hours; and



Whereas a panel of Liberal appointed Gaming Commission board members now meet at a cost to the Nova Scotia taxpayer of $250 per day, plus expenses, to issue lottery numbers that used to be routinely issued by the staff of the Lottery Commission; and



Whereas this new Liberal policy flies in the face of this government's promise to streamline services, empower government employees, reduce red tape and deficit reduction;



Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government practice . . ." I think it is important and I honestly believe that the operative word is that this ". . . Liberal Government practice what it preaches by immediately reversing the senseless and outrageously expensive process of having Gaming Commission board members approve routine lottery applications."



Now, Madam Speaker, as I stated, I am pleased to have the opportunity to respond to this resolution. I have put questions to the minister responsible relative to this concern, during Question Period. Need I say that I am very dissatisfied and many of the service clubs in my constituency and, in fact, right across Nova Scotia, are very disappointed with the current set-up and the current regulation that is in place.



Now I believe that the board members of the Nova Scotia Gaming Commission command a per diem of $250, Madam Speaker, and I am told that the Chairman of the Nova Scotia Gaming Commission, that person's salary is commensurate with that of a judge, so we could say probably in the ballpark of somewhere near $100,000 a year.



Now volunteer fire departments, Lions Clubs, UCWs, et cetera, Rebekahs and so on, do, on quite a regular basis, hold fundraisers. They have projects that are very important not only to the service club and the organization but these projects that the service clubs sponsor are extremely important to the communities. Fundraisers are used, for example, Madam Speaker, as I am sure you are aware, to help purchase a fire apparatus in a volunteer fire department, a much needed tool to help alleviate concerns relative to fire and fire related matters.



Because this government has a requirement and a regulation in place that necessitates the Nova Scotia Gaming Commission to convene, and I believe they convene on Wednesdays to deal with lottery license requests, it seriously jeopardizes the projects of many of our volunteer organizations across this province.





Now I brought to the minister's attention a concern in my constituency from the community of Meaghers Grant where the volunteer fire department there had a raffle, and I believe they were raffling off tickets on an embroidered quilt or something along those lines. Because the Meaghers Grant volunteer department could not get their request processed in time, the regulations, if you want to put it in this context, ended up scuttling the project. I think that is very unfortunate that this should happen to any, if it is just one volunteer organization in this province that is prohibited from conducting a fundraiser because of this asinine requirement, I request that the minister should go revisit this regulation.



Perhaps she could incorporate a threshold, say, of maybe $2,000 whereby volunteer fundraisers that require a lottery license that are under $2,000 could be waived. I just use that as a figure and perhaps the minister would comment on that. These volunteer organizations, these service clubs that work so very hard in all of our communities right across Nova Scotia, see this as a senseless waste of time that very seriously jeopardizes some of their projects.



This government preaches and preaches again fiscal restraint and financial responsibility. In certain areas the Opposition agrees with fiscal restraint. This is senseless, this is absolutely ridiculous, that a lottery license dealing with a teddy bear raffle requires the Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission to convene and deal with that request.



Now the minister in her response to the honourable member for Hants West not too long ago in Question Period said, the Opposition can't have it both ways. On the one hand - and I don't know if she said on one hand or the other or out of one side of the mouth or the other but nonetheless - the minister responsible suggested that the Opposition on the one hand wanted regulations and on the other hand they didn't. That is not what we are saying and the minister knows full well that that is not what we are saying. We believe there have to be regulations in place but there doesn't have to be a requirement in place that senselessly and needlessly requires the Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission to convene to deal with raffles that may only be worth a few dollars. It is absolutely asinine.



I request that the minister change this requirement. I am not saying go in and change all regulations, I am saying change this requirement that deals with lottery licenses. It is a very reasonable request. I think if the minister would change this regulation she would be doing service clubs in this province and perhaps all individuals in this province a real favour and she could be proud of herself for making a change that really reflects the views of our volunteer organizations across this province. The minister cannot shift the responsibility for this regulation off to the Gaming Control Commission, she has to assume full responsibility for this requirement.



Projects are being very seriously jeopardized because this Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission does convene at great expense to the taxpayer. Can you imagine a board convening where the chairman of that board is paid a salary that is comparable to a judge of a Supreme Court and has members that are receiving, as I understand, a $250 per diem to deal with a very simple raffle that may be worth, as I suggested, a few dollars? It seems absolutely ridiculous.



If the government is truly committed and dedicated to financial responsibility and responsible financial initiatives, then I think the minister could go in and very easily make the necessary requirement that would alleviate this concern that many of our non-profit and charitable organizations have. I think the minister could come up with a figure. I suggested $2,000, but the minister could come up with a figure, perhaps, that would be a compromise and we all could agree on.



I know different members have concerns similar to mine, on both sides of the House. It is not a concern that is exclusive to the Opposition, I can tell the minister that. I know the minister corresponds and conveys and discusses things with her caucus colleagues and I think it is incumbent upon this minister to make those necessary changes.



[4:45 p.m.]



Now I understand the panel is a group of Liberal appointees and I don't have any concern or problem with that, Madam Speaker, but the concern I have is that those members maybe - and I have been told they have an incredible work load from time to time - are using time that could be more appropriately spent dealing with more serious business that truly would require the Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission to convene and perhaps deliberate and give consideration to applications and requests, perhaps things that are more pertinent to the casino and things of that nature. But to have this senseless and silly requirement in place is a great waste of time of the members and it is also a great waste of the taxpayers' money.



Now the minister will know that this government promised, when it was campaigning to get elected, a less intrusive government. This government said that there is a profound and a pronounced need to lessen regulation, formality and requirements. For the most part, I would suggest, Nova Scotians concurred with the government. Nova Scotians want a less intrusive government and in fact, I would suggest, people right across Canada want their governments to be less intrusive so why in the name of good conscience do we have this senseless regulation in place?



Madam Speaker, the volunteer fire departments come to mind, specifically, but there are many service clubs across this province that do have concerns dealing with lottery licenses. It would seem like a very easy undertaking for the minister to agree to, to go in and look at the regulations and make those necessary changes. Now if we are jeopardizing projects that provide valuable and necessary service to our communities, then I think we have really a good deal of reason to be concerned.



Now a member representing one of the volunteer fire departments in another constituency gave me a phone call and they were very concerned that they, too, had to leave their request with the Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission. The project and the initiative that the volunteer fire department was undertaking was with respect to the purchase of some new hose. New fire hose is very expensive and I don't know a ballpark figure per foot just what the cost is, but the volunteer fire department had an initiative, a raffle, whereby they would sell tickets, provided they got a lottery license, and the proceeds from the sale of those tickets and that raffle would go to the purchase of new fire hose.



Now, Madam Speaker, the Gaming Commission had to deal with this application and because of their work load, they were unable to process the application. Well, a lot of fundraisers coincide with the season. You could have something around Christmas time that people might be more inclined to purchase if the prize has to do with Christmas. You could have something at Easter time that has to do with Easter and so on and so forth. But, to have this requirement in place is wrong and again I request the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission to make the necessary changes. We are not asking for something that is going to cost this government, if the government is concerned. In fact, it is going to save the government some money and free up valuable time for the Nova Scotia Gaming Commission. I look forward to other participants in this debate. Thank you.





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



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to stand in my place once again to address this issue. I will not take the time of the House to read over Resolution No. 731 that has been put forward by the member opposite. This issue has come before the House on a number of occasions.



Madam Speaker, the Opposition Parties never ever cease to amaze me. Here we go again discussing an issue that has been discussed a number of times in this House and just when you have heard it all they call for debate on another resolution on this issue. This one is proposed by the Reform Party wannabe over there. He indicates, once again, that they are only interested in political mischief over and over again. I have not yet heard a worthwhile, constructive idea from the members opposite when it comes to the gaming issue. He calls it a senseless waste of time for us, as a government, to act responsibly and to act in the best interests of the people of this province.



How many times, Madam Speaker, have we heard the word honesty? How many times have we heard the word integrity? How many times have we heard the word credibility? How many times have we heard the word accountability when gaming has been discussed in this House? That is what this is all about and the member opposite suggests that if I quickly change the resolution that I should be proud of myself. Well, I have to tell the member opposite I am proud of myself and I am proud of myself right now for what we have brought forward in this government to control gaming in this province.



The member opposite should realize that this is all about accountability. It is not about a senseless waste of time as he kept suggesting all through his speech. This government has listened to the people of Nova Scotia, including various police organizations and agencies. We have listened and as a result have enacted long overdue legislation to regulate and to control all types of gaming being conducted in this province from ticket raffles, casinos, bingos to all games of chance.



Since lottery activities began in this province and when it became an accepted way, an accepted mechanism for charitable, religious and community organizations to raise money to help defray costs to their programs and services, since that has happened there has been a public demand for fairness in it and for accountability in the area of all of this gaming in the province. The thing that continually amazes me, Madam Speaker, is the audacity of the Opposition to constantly criticize this government for this initiative that allows Nova Scotia to boast that in terms of honesty, integrity this jurisdiction is one of the best in the world. For us to be criticized for that, it amazes me and I continually am amazed at how the member opposite continues to speak and bring this type of resolution forward.



The Opposition never has to be fair when they engage in commentary. They never have to be fair in their criticism of this government's programs that we bring forward. The Nova Scotia Gaming Control Act was proclaimed only 10 months ago and the Gaming Control Commission was established last April. Control is the operative word here, Madam Speaker.



The commission has also assumed responsibility for the Nova Scotia Liquor License Board as well as the amusement regulations under the Theatre and Amusements Act. This commission is not just responsible for lottery ticket licenses. Madam Speaker, the point that I am trying to make here is that this new expanded agency is performing the role and the responsibility that this Legislature gave them last year. Surely the Opposition's memory is not so short that they cannot remember sitting here for four months. We sat here for four months and we debated this Gaming Control Act in order to approve it. It is a piece of legislation that I might add that was read; it was re-read; it was drafted and it was re-drafted; it was amended and amended again in this House, not only by the government, but by both the NDP and by the reform member's Progressive Conservative Party over there.



The commission's role was not disguised in all that discussion for four months. We tabled the Gaming Control Act. After almost four months of debate, before this House, it certainly received careful scrutiny by everyone in this House and everyone in Nova Scotia when that bill came forward. As a matter of fact, if my memory serves me correctly - and it seems that we are the only ones that have any memory in this House, the people in government, no one else seems to remember - numerous amendments were proposed by Opposition Parties and they were accepted and they were included in this bill.



It is interesting, Madam Speaker, that this commission of knowledgeable and professional individuals is being criticized by members of the Opposition for doing their job. That is their job, to do this. So they are being criticized for doing their job. This government is dedicated to eliminating red tape, to streamlining services provided to the general public and that task will be accomplished. But in accomplishing that task, it will not happen at the expense of having a gaming industry in this province that is not adequately regulated or adequately controlled. Surely the members opposite can understand that. Surely that does not go over the members opposite's heads, that we want to control and to regulate gaming in this province.



Now allow me, Madam Speaker, to provide some very interesting numbers to give you an idea of the job that this Gaming Commission has before them. The Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission last year processed 2,975 ticket raffle permits. Those were for prizes under $150. That has now been raised to $500 and permits can be given and processed. Last year 2,788 ticket lottery licenses, those are prizes in excess of $150, and that is at 5,500 now, were processed by the Gaming Commission. So there you have close to 6,000 permits and licenses processed through this Gaming Commission last year.



It issued and renewed over 500 bingo series licenses last year. During this fiscal year the agency also administered 1,800 liquor licenses in this province. It also issued approximately 10,000 special occasion licenses in this province. In the amusement regulations division, Madam Speaker, we also authorized in the vicinity of 3,500 licenses.



MADAM SPEAKER: Minister, will you be tabling that when you are through referring to it?



MRS. NORRIE: Yes, at the time I am finished speaking, I will table it.



Madam Speaker, accountability, control, compliance is required in all of those areas where all those licenses and permits are granted and especially in relation to the gaming licenses because they are all issued in accordance with the Criminal Code of Canada. The province is empowered by the Criminal Code to authorize lottery schemes for the purposes of charitable and religious organizations.



When the member opposite's Party was sitting on this side of the House, did they care about the province's obligation under the Criminal Code? I would ask you that. This government cares and it does by ensuring that all Nova Scotians are protected through responsible gaming regulations and control. The commission's role is to license only those activities that are permitted under the Criminal Code and that is exactly what this commission is doing. That is exactly what this government is doing.



I would like to sort of liken this and use the analogy of an old pair of sneakers. This previous administration when they were on this side of the House were like an old pair of sneakers and they allowed things to loosen up and get sloppy, I would suggest, and maybe that is something the province may have allowed. This government decided that it was time to tighten up the laces on that old pair of sneakers. We have tightened them up to tightly control gaming in this province. I will admit, occasionally you might tighten your sneakers a little tight, they might pinch a little bit, so maybe there is a reason to look at regulations and maybe there is a reason, in the name of volunteer groups in this province, to loosen up the laces just a touch. I am willing to look at that. But I will say that our initial interest here is to tighten and control the laces, the regulations for gaming in this province.



[5:00 p.m.]



Madam Speaker, to refresh the members' memory, I am going to give you again, I think for about the third time in this House, the purposes of the Gaming Control Act. They are to, first of all, Section 2, "(a) establish a framework for conducting, managing, controlling and regulating casinos and other lottery schemes so as to increase the level of sustainable economic activity within the Province and increase the net revenue of the province; (b) ensure that casinos and other lottery schemes are conducted in a socially responsible manner; and (c) ensure that any measures taken with respect to casinos and other lottery schemes are undertaken for the public good and in the best interests of the public and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, to minimize the opportunities that give rise to problem gambling and other illnesses, crime or social disruption.".



With the appointment of the Gaming Commission, which was vetted and approved through the legislative committee, the Human Resources Committee, this government feels the necessary vehicle is now in place to regulate gaming in Nova Scotia.



Mr. Speaker, Section 42 of the Act reads, "The purpose of the Commission is to regulate and control casinos and other lottery schemes and to administer this Part in the public interest and in accordance with the principles of honesty and integrity.".



Section 56(1) of the Act states that, "The Commission shall (a) perform such duties as are imposed upon it by this Act or the regulations;" - and the regulations were brought forward in this House, the best in the country - "(b) ensure that casinos and other lottery schemes conducted and managed by the Corporation are conducted and managed in accordance with this Act and the regulations and the Criminal Code (Canada); (c) carry on a continuous study of the operation and administration of casinos, other lottery schemes and the gaming control laws in effect in other jurisdictions, including the Criminal Code (Canada), that may affect the operation and administration of casinos or other lottery schemes in the Province; (d) carry on a continuous study of the public interest and reaction of residents of the Province to existing and potential features of casinos, other lottery schemes and games of chance; (e) to carry on a continuous study of the social, health, justice, economic and environmental impact of casinos and other lottery schemes; (f) make recommendations to the Minister for changes to this Act and the regulations to correct any defect . . .", and we are willing to do that, ". . . abuse, illegality or criminal activity in relation to casinos and other lottery schemes; and (g) submit annually to the Minister a report representing the matters referred to in clauses (b) to (f).".



Now under the ticket lottery regulations, it requires that, "The Commission may, upon application by a person, issue a license or a permit to such a person to conduct and manage a ticket lottery, provided that the applicant undertakes in the application that the total net receipts from ticket sales will be used for charitable, religious or community objects or purposes.". That is where our volunteer fire departments come in and our volunteer organizations come in. We ask them to provide to us, to make sure the receipts from these lottery schemes do go to their organizations.



Madam Speaker, I won't go through the rest of the Sections 3 of the regulations because it refers to the bingo and that the proceeds go to gaming or to volunteer charitable religious organizations. It also expects that if an application is filled out it should be filled out correctly; it should be complete, accurate and it should also determine and make sure that it is all being carried out in the public interest.



Madam Speaker, I also envision a highway that has rules and regulations, that has traffic rules, it has lanes in the highway, it has off-ramps, it has exits. That is how I envision the Gaming Control Commission operating. Under rules and regulations, we do not have to put or expect pylons to go up and that anyone at all can come along and go through any exit they like and ignore the rules and regulations of the road.



So, Madam Speaker, I think it is clear, it is vividly clear that this commission, which the member is criticizing, is doing the job that this Legislature assigned to it. I am confident that in all areas they are responsible for, will be for the purpose of the Gaming Control Act -that is what they are responsible for - where it states that they would undertake for the public good and in the best interests of the public in a socially responsible manner. Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. (Applause)



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, as I stand to speak I don't know exactly what I am going to say, I admit up-front. I am almost speechless after listening to the minister, Madam Speaker. (Interruptions) Put my sneakers on? I am not sure if the Minister of Natural Resources is suggesting I should put my sneakers on or tighten them up so I can run away or if somehow that is going to get me thinking a little bit sharper.



I want to say a few words on the resolution that is before us and I find myself in the very unusual position that I somewhat agree, not necessarily with the tone or the rhetoric but I somewhat agree with what the minister has just said.



I don't think that there is anybody in this House, I sincerely hope not but I honestly don't think that there is anybody at all in this Legislature, who doesn't recognize the important contributions that are made by the volunteer groups and organizations that were referred to by the mover of the resolution. I think we all recognize the importance and valuable contributions that they put forward. We, as a society and we, as individual communities, would be much poorer as a society if it weren't for the dedicated efforts of those groups of volunteers. I don't think there is anybody in here that denies that.



I recognize and appreciate that as a result of there being regulations brought in, that can cause, because it is a change in the way in which practices have been done in the past, that people may not have been familiar with the actual procedures. I have to tell you that I recognize that there have been and I think the minister would also agree that there have been some inconveniences that resulted from the fact that people maybe didn't know what the rules were because they had done things the same way for many years. I haven't personally heard of any problems or major complaints where people who have been trying to get licenses for any of these organizations, they may exist and I just haven't heard about them but I haven't had complaints brought to my attention about that.



I know in the past and it was more convenient that you could go down, if you were a small organization and that the size of the prize that you were going to be awarding was under $500, a small amount, you could go down, take in your application and get your number and get approval right away. As a result of this resolution being called today, we have checked with, granted, only a couple, but the information that we were given by those who had applied in the last short while was that what had happened and what they would do is go in and make their application and no, they did not get their number right away but if it was a small amount they would be able to call in a few days and then get the number over the phone being provided to them if those prizes were under $500. Those with whom my staff spoke with did not see a problem with that. The letters of confirmation came a week or so later after that but they were able to call in within a couple of days to receive a number over the phone and were able to proceed with their planning.



I haven't seen the major degree of difficulty to which the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit refers. That is not to say it doesn't exist, but I haven't seen it. If what he is saying is correct, if there are these cases, then that is something that needs to be looked into and a way found to address it. It is my understanding as well from information that we received from the commission when we made inquiries, again, that if there is a prize that is valued at under $500, a permit is needed but there is no fee charged with that. It is only once you get above that rate that there is a 2 per cent fee that is charged.



It is also my understanding that the board doesn't have to approve those $500 or under applications but really, one of the staff members, one of the approving officers for those particular sized applications can approve it. Really I don't see any problem with that and I think that that is as it should be. But I do agree, and we as a caucus - and I am not going to change our position here - Madam Speaker, we have said that there needs to be, for all, proper rules and regulations in place that do control gaming in Nova Scotia. We believe that when those are being held, it is not a matter of trying to interfere, it is not a matter of trying to restrict the ability, I wouldn't see whether that be a minor hockey team or a lacrosse team, a church group or a Lions Club, from holding that lottery or that game of chance, but you have to have some way to keep a record; you have to have some way of being able to verify.



I don't know if it has ever occurred here, but I don't know why it couldn't, you have heard and we have all seen situations where people are going around door to door trying to flog things or sell things, and we have heard of situations where people are supposedly going around trying to collect for particular charities, when they are not actually collecting for that charity. They have a fraud going on and I believe that the commission should be able to have a record of all of those games of chance, all of those activities going on, so that there can be routine checks made to ensure that none of those kinds of deals are being done.



So I don't have any great difficulty with the regulation that is here, but if those problems exist, as a former speaker said, and I don't have any examples of that - I am not saying they don't exist but I haven't had the examples of that - certainly I think that most organizations, a week would be a reasonable period of time for which they can get their applications in and get approval, if that approval can be given to them over the phone so that that does not cause undue delays and hardship.



My bigger concerns are how this government is actually constantly changing regulations. That is where my big concern comes, and my main concerns dealing with regulations are not that they are changing them to benefit those who run the Lions Club or those who run a little league baseball team or a hockey team, but they change the regulations - I am sure this will come as a shock to you, Madam Speaker - this government seems quite anxious and quite willing to change regulations on behalf of their partner, the casinos in Nova Scotia. Now, of course, and there were some questions asked earlier - I think it was today - about whether or not there had been any applications made by the casinos to be able to provide free liquor to patrons who are attending the casinos, and the Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs, the Minister responsible for the Gaming Control Commission, says none that she is aware of.



We know that the chair of the corporation, who is a well-connected Liberal, a former Cabinet Minister, has called for changes to the regulations and called upon this government, publicly in the press, to allow that those freebies be given out. Those kinds of freebies, those kinds of things being done at the casino are hurting the community's fund-raising activities, the bingos and so on, where those monies are going back into community activities.



It would be very interesting for the minister to be able to provide, if she could, information on how much revenue those charities are bringing in now, compared to how much they brought in before the casinos were established down here on the waterfront. It is my bet - since we are talking gambling - that you would find out that those revenues that the charities are bringing in are going down, even though the casino is not making the profit that it originally planned, that is because millions are still going into the cost and the operation; it is still money that is coming out.



[5:15 p.m.]



Madam Speaker, when I asked the questions about free alcohol being provided, earlier from the Premier, the Premier said we have no intentions of doing that; no intentions now of doing that. He did not say that it will never be permitted; he did not say that the government will not change that; he did not and would not provide that guarantee. He just simply said that we have no intention of doing that.



Madam Speaker, if this government does that, then that is going to have a devastating impact on all of the other local businesses in the area that are involved in the entertainment, food and beverage industry. If that casino is allowed to start to give out free alcohol and free food, as is the tradition in places like the United States and elsewhere, things that the government promised they would never do but, of course, this government also promised, the minister talked about amendments and changes to the regulations and how the Opposition even was able to get this government to accept some changes to the bill but, you know, at that time the government said, oh we won't even allow alcohol to be served at the tables; won't even permit them to do that.



How long did that take to change? Not very long. A couple of months and, oh, did we say that? Oh, gosh, you can't sit at that one-arm bandit and pull that lever unless you got a drink in your hand. You might lose your spot at the machine. Somebody has to be able to come and provide you with drinks. It is my guess, Madam Speaker, unless public pressure is exerted, unless some Cabinet Ministers who do not support it have enough pressure, enough clout, it is my guess that some of those drinks will start to become free.





Madam Speaker, we were told what the hours were going to be at the casinos when they first opened. How long did it take for that to change? It is quite clear that whenever it comes to anything dealing with the casinos, what the casino wants, the casino is going to get. It will be dribbled out in dribs and drabs. The government of course will not hold public consultations, not at all. They will not do that. They will not put out the full package of amendments that they plan to bring forward to favour the casino, their partner, because they share in it, the revenues. They will not bring them out as a full package because if you put all their plans on the table, then the public will get outraged and will hold it against this government.



So what the government wants to do, we got the casinos in, we took the heat a year ago for that, so now we will change the rules a little bit here, a little bit there, in dribs and drabs, we will spread it out over six months, a year, maybe even two years but, in the end, those government casinos will receive each and every regulation change that they want.



Madam Speaker, there ain't no doubt in my mind, you put the concerns of the casino and you put the concerns of the small community charities that are trying to raise some desperately needed monies to assist their community, to assist the children in their community, seniors and others, then you know who the government is going to be favouring and that is their casino friends.



My concern is not about the staff in the commission; my concern is about the political masters of the staff. If we had a truly independent commission, Madam Speaker, we would not have a minister in charge of that commission sitting at exactly the same Cabinet Table as the minister responsible for the corporation. We would have the two truly separate, not as we have at the present time.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak on this resolution, because I know that the minister is complaining about the number of times that we have brought this matter forward. She is accusing the Opposition of political mischief in bringing these resolutions and questions forward. But I would like to speak on behalf of those across this province who run charitable bingos, who run charitable lotteries, et cetera, and try to raise funds for charitable reasons.



Madam Speaker, the system was running well. In spite of what the minister says, there was nothing wrong with the way the system was running with regard to charitable bingos and with regard to charitable lotteries when this government came into power. There was not one essence, not one iota of evidence that would indicate it was otherwise. What this government has done, and it is the same with the Liberal Government all the way through history, if they find something that is running well, they either tear it apart and say we are reforming it or else they start piling in regulations to make sure that everybody conforms to the Liberal way.



Well, I will tell you, Madam Speaker, the Liberal way with charitable lotteries just does not work. For the minister to say that it is working well, she must have her head in the sand because she has not heard the message from the people of this province, particularly those who are secretaries and chairmen of finance raising committees in Lions Clubs and the Jaycees, and the Rotary Clubs, and the various church groups that raise money. All those groups out there, and there are thousands, whether they be, for instance, a canoe club, whether they be a minor league hockey team or a minor league baseball team, all these small groups of people, the only way they have today of raising money is through some method of encouraging the public to contribute and the easiest way to do that is to offer a carrot, which is some kind of a prize if they buy a ticket, which will make a small profit for the organization. There are thousands of these.



The minister tells us that they process, and I presume that she is very proud of this, 3,000 raffle ticket permits and 2,788 lottery ticket licenses, et cetera, a fabulous number of small items that can be processed by any clerk in any office. It does not take any skill whatsoever. Madam Speaker, somebody comes in and says, I am a charitable organization, I have a license and I want to run a lottery. I want to raffle my grandmother's quilt and I am going to sell tickets on it for 50 cents apiece. You are told by the clerk in the office, yes, Mr. Russell, that is a great thing and I am glad you are doing that; we will take it before the board. Can you imagine, before the board?



This chairman of this board, Madam Speaker, I am told, is paid something like $100,000 a year and the members are paid about $250 a day. They are sitting there talking about the Hansport Lions Club trying to raffle a side of beef and raise themselves $1,000 or so. What utter nonsense. What are we coming to? The over-regulation we had in this province when we were in government was much too much. One of the things we tried to do as a government was to deregulate and take a burden off those who are in business and the private citizens of this province. Since this government has come back, all they have done is pile on regulation after regulation, control after control, form after form, endorsement after endorsement, all this kind of thing that just ties the hands of the people in this province who want to get about their business and do what they are paid to do and do what they want to accomplish. They are just throwing up roadblocks. That is all they are doing.



I had a real case from the Hantsport Lions Club, they had a meeting and they decided that they wanted to raise some money, so they said let's have a raffle. I don't know what it was they were going to raffle, but that is not important, actually it isn't unimportant, I think it was something that was perishable that they were going to raffle. In the past, they had picked up the telephone and telephoned down and said we are going to fax you down an application and what we would like is the number so we can get our tickets printed. They were told, we are sorry, but the board does not sit until next week. Maybe the board will not sit next week, in fact, it did not sit that week, it was almost three weeks before they finally received their number.



They had arranged to sell their tickets at a specific function and that is where they were going to sell the majority of their tickets. They missed that window simply because of the red tape and the hoops and jumps they had to go through to get a license to sell 50 cent tickets. Crazy, absolutely nuts.



My own organization, the Hants West PC Association, on occasion, has a raffle. We, too, were in the process of raffling off a side of beef. We finally received our permit, but once again, we had to go through this long harangue to get something that heretofore you would fax down a copy of what you were going to do, somebody down there would scribble a number on it, stamp it and you received your approval and away you go.



I am not saying that if I am going to raffle off an automobile or a house or some major item, that there should not be some kind of controls and quite conceivably, it should go before the board, in particular, if it is not an organization which has a license under Revenue Canada as a charity. The thing is, it is a very simple process that we are talking about and I had expected truthfully, for the minister, to get up today and say, well, look, we have recognized that this is a roadblock for charitable organizations in their efforts to raise money. We have decided, that is right, why should the board have to do it. We have somebody in the office that can do this just as well as the board, because what does the board do? They look at the application - do they send out inspectors and a police force to check and make sure that the charity is what they say they are? Do they send out inspectors to check the tickets to make sure that they are all properly serially numbered? Do they send out inspectors when the raffle is drawn to make sure that there is no hanky-panky going on? No, they do not do any of that. What do they do? They get the application in there, they are sitting around this table, these gentlemen, I suppose they are drinking Perrier water and look at this and they stamp it - bang, that is it, it is done.



If the government is genuinely interested in saving money, I can tell them a way right now how to save some money. They could take all these applications and not put them through the board. The Minister of Labour, I know agrees with all this, because he does not agree with over-regulation, he agrees with regulation to a certain extent, but not over-regulation. This is just over-regulation, in the extreme. I would ask the minister in all seriousness to go back to Cabinet with a document which will remove all those lotteries which are run by charitable, non-profit organizations with prizes under say $1,000 to not have to go before the board, but can just receive on the same day of application providing there is nothing untoward in their application, the approval and a number so they can go ahead, get on with their business and print tickets.



With those few words, I will close the debate on Resolution No. 731.



[5:30 p.m.]



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, I don't want to call or make note about anybody's absence but I was hoping that the Government House Leader would be here because we have approximately 50 written questions on the order paper which have not as yet been answered.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs.



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: The honourable House Leader is just in the back room and is on his way in.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Thank you, Madam Speaker. As I was saying, we have approximately 50 written questions on the order paper carried over from spring, to which we have not received any replies. I would ask the Government House Leader if he would take that under advisement and endeavour to have those written questions answered, so that we will not have to resubmit them in the spring session.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, I am not sure that is true. The honourable Opposition House Leader at one point provided a list of House Orders that were outstanding. Upon closer examination, many of the House Orders on the list he provided had actually been returned. Some of them had been refused but were listed there on the paper anyhow and a lot of them, and I think this is where ministers have to be clear on this, we often say we will return a House Order if there is anything there and you go back and check and there is nothing there. A minister does not come in and table an empty paper or indicate otherwise. So I think we have to be clear; if we can't return something, let's refuse it so it gets off the order paper and it is not showing on it.



I am sorry I was late but on the paper the honourable member provided me it showed that we would start this at 5:35 p.m.. I was on a very strict timetable and would have been here at 5:35 p.m. The last time he circulated the list to me I gave it to every Cabinet Minister and I asked them to do their best to have them returned. I know a lot of them were returned in recent times. (Interruption) What's that? Written questions and House Orders, we will do the best we can with that.



It would help if perhaps those written questions could be given to the minister when they are tabled because I know in my own department sometimes I don't even see them; the Clerk ships them over to the department and someone takes them and they may get buried in the department and I don't even know they have been there, unless you think of checking Hansard the next day or the order paper. So perhaps it may help if you give them to us directly and we would certainly do that.



MR. RUSSELL: I appreciate the response from the Government House Leader, Madam Speaker. What we will do is tomorrow I will bring over a list of written questions that have not been returned and make sure that each minister gets their respective written questions.



Now, Madam Speaker, we have a large number of notices of motion for House Orders. I would like to try and get these completed today, if it is possible. I recognize that that may be difficult but that is why I started a few minutes early.



MR. MANN: Could I perhaps ask the Opposition House Leader exactly what he is looking for here, before we go through and have to read each and every one of these. I have gone to my own department in advance of this checking, you know employees contracts and publications - exactly what are we looking for in publication? I mean, in a department like mine where you are putting out publications by district, for salt, for this, that and the other thing, it is absolutely - you know every one of them is a public document, probably in the library in some departments. You could have, for example, in the Tax Commission or Health, 40 or 50 or 60 publications that are routine publications and you put someone through a heck of a lot of work for something that probably you already have.



MR. RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, yes perhaps the House Orders were not specific enough. What we are looking for are the house newsletters that come out from various departments. By that I mean, for instance, I don't know what the one is in the Department of Transportation. (Interruption) Yes, exactly, those kinds of publications that are put out by departments. Also we are interested in contracts, individual contracts, personal contracts, yes. Now can we start?



Does it matter if the ministers are here or not? Could I ask that question? (Interruption) Okay, would you please call House Order No. 101, Madam Speaker, and I so move on behalf of the member for Cape Breton West.



H.O. No. 101, re Commun. Serv. - Publications (1995) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. A. MacLeod)



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]



MADAM SPEAKER: The Minister of Community Services.



HON. JAMES SMITH: I will take this back to the department and we will review this, whether many of these have already been received. Certainly our publications and those types of budgetary items will be provided in due course but there could be some attempt to collate that at this time. I will not at this time make a commitment to the full request but we will certainly do as well as we can to honour the House Order.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.



HON. RONALD STEWART: Concerning my particular ones, House Order Nos. 95 and 96, I understood the honourable Opposition House Leader to define it as periodicals within the department, newsletters, which we are quite happy to do.



MR. RUSSELL: Newsletters, brochures and reports that go out to the public, I guess



DR. STEWART: That go out to the public. Okay, that is a much more extended list.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: I am quite happy, thank you.



MADAM SPEAKER: Are you only calling the one House Order?



MR. RUSSELL: Oh no, I am calling a whole bunch.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 102 and I move on behalf of the member for Cape Breton West.



H.O. No. 102, re Commun. Serv. - Employment Contracts (11/06/93 on) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. A. MacLeod)



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.



HON. JAMES SMITH: Madam Speaker, I would give the House an undertaking to provide that information.



MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you. 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: Madam Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 95, and on behalf of the member for Kings West, I so move.



H.O. No. 95, re Health - Employment Contracts (01/06/93-01/01/96) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. G. Moody)



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.



HON. RONALD STEWART: Again, Madam Speaker, I understand that to be personal service contracts which should be available. Yes, we have not many.



MADAM SPEAKER: 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: Madam Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 96, and on behalf of the member for Kings West, I so move.



H.O. No. 96, re Health - Publications (1995) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. G. Moody)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.



HON. RONALD STEWART: Yes, in the clarification by the honourable Opposition House Leader. These are so extensive in Health, it would require extensive work in my department. They are publicly available and I would see no reason why they could not (Interruption)



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: I am sorry. If the minister will just supply the title, if they are in the library, that is fine.



DR. STEWART: Yes, we can supply titles; I have no problem with supplying titles and where the source would be.



MADAM SPEAKER: 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: Madam Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 87 and on behalf of the member for Queens, I so move.



H.O. No. 87, re Fish. - Employment Contracts (15/06/93-01/01/96) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. J. Leefe)



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Fisheries.



HON. JAMES BARKHOUSE: I can comply with that, I think, in due course.



MADAM SPEAKER: The minister has advised he can comply with that in due course. 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: Madam Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 88, and I so move on behalf of the member for Queens.



H.O. No. 88, re Fish. - Publications (1995) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. J. Leefe)



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Fisheries.



HON. JAMES BARKHOUSE: Madam Speaker, am I to understand that this does not include the regular publications like the annual report and things like that?



MR. RUSSELL: The annual reports it does not include, because we have them.



MR. BARKHOUSE: Yes.



MADAM SPEAKER: The minister has advised that he can comply with that order. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, perhaps we can be helpful here and cut this short. The Minister of Health has indicated that he is willing to provide a list of titles and if the members want the publication, we can then try to make them available without having staff spend hours and hours on this stuff, combing everything. I think we would all agree to do that and if that is agreeable to the members opposite on all of the publication ones, and do the best we can.



The personal contracts, I would like clarification because there are several here that are listed on the order paper saying employment contracts, while up above the first ones say employee's contracts. I am wondering, is there any difference in what is being sought here, between the two?



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: No. They should be personnel contracts and, to be quite honest, Madam Speaker, I was going to come to House Order Nos. 72 to 79. They show years from 1993 to 1995. All that we are interested in, in reality, is the personal contracts for that period and that is it. The employee contracts, no.



MR. MANN: I think we would agree to return personal service contracts. I think that is what you are looking for. You indicated the others. I do not think there is any difficulty with that. These are in the Supplement to Public Accounts in any event. I have no difficulty with that; I do not think any of the ministers do, so we'd agree to return that.



MADAM SPEAKER: So we are dealing with House Order Nos. 72 to 79.



[H.O. No. 72, re Agric. - Employees' Contracts (01/06/93-05/01/95)/Publications (1995) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. G. Archibald)



H.O. No. 73, re Mun. Affs. - Employees' Contracts (01/06/93-05/01/95)/Publications (1995)- notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. G. Archibald)



H.O. No. 74, re Supply and Serv. - Employees' Contracts (01/06/93-05/01/95)/Publications (1995) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. G. Archibald)



H.O. No. 75, re Sports - Employees' Contracts (01/06/93-05/01/95)/Publications (1995) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. B. Taylor)



H.O. No. 76, re Nat. Res. - Employees' Contracts (01/06/93-05/01/95)/Publications (1995) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. B. Taylor)



H.O. No. 77, re Transport. - Employees' Contracts (01/06/93-05/01/95)/Publications (1995) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. B. Taylor)



H.O. No. 78, re EMO - Employees' Contracts (01/06/93-05/01/95)/Publications (1995) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. D. McInnes)



H.O. No. 79, re ERA - Employees' Contracts (01/06/93-05/01/95/Publications (1995) - notice given Jan. 5/96 -(Mr. D. McInnes)]



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.



HON. GUY BROWN: Madam Speaker, I agree with the Government House Leader and I would like to have my resolution, if the mover does not mind, House Order Nos. 89 and 90 and have them approve both of them.



H.O. No. 89, re Lbr. - Publications (1995) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. R. Russell)



H.O. No. 90, re Lbr. - Employment Contracts (15/06/93-01/01/96) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. R. Russell)



MADAM SPEAKER: So we are dealing with House Order Nos. 72 to 79, 89 and 90, and all the other House Orders involving publications - titles only [List A]; and those involving personal contracts the provision of personal service contracts [List B].



[The other House Orders were: -



List A



H.O. No. 80, re Housing and Cons. Affs. - Publications (1995) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. D. McInnes)



H.O. No. 81, re Justice - Publications (1995) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. T. Donahoe)



H.O. No. 82, re Educ. - Publications (1995) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. T. Donahoe)



H.O. No. 86, re Environ. - Publications (1995) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. J. Leefe)

H.O. No. 91, re Human Res. - Publications (1995) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. G. Archibald)



H.O. No. 93, re Fin. - Publications (1995) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. R. Russell)

H.O. No. 98, re Priority and Plan. - Publications (1995) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. R. Russell)



H.O. No. 100, re ERA - Publications (1995) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Dr. J. Hamm)



List B



H.O. No. 83, re Justice - Employment Contracts (01/06/93 - 01/01/96) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. T. Donahoe)



H.O. No. 84, re Housing and Cons. Affs. - Employment Contracts (01/06/93-01/01/96) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. D. McInnes)



H.O. No. 85, re Environ. - Employment Contracts (15/06/93-01/01/96) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. J. Leefe)



H.O. No. 92, re Human Res. - Employment Contracts (01/06/93-01/01/96) - notice given Jan 5/96 (Mr. G. Archibald)



H.O. No. 94, re Fin. - Employment Contracts (01/06/93 -01/01/96) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. R. Russell)



H.O. No. 97, re Priority and Plan. - Employment Contracts (01/06/93-01/01/96) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Mr. R. Russell)



H.O. No. 99, re ERA - Employment Contracts (11/06/93 on) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Dr. J. Hamm)



H.O. No. 103, re Premier: Office - Employment Contracts (11/06/93 on) - notice given Jan. 5/96 - (Dr. J. Hamm)



H.O. No. 104, re Educ. - Employment Contracts (01/06/93-01/01/96) - notice given Jan. 8/96 - (Mr. T. Donahoe)]



MADAM SPEAKER: Are these agreed?



The House Orders are carried.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 71.



H.O. No. 71, re ERA - Tourism: Advertising - Cost - notice given Jan. 4/95 - (Mr. D. McInnes)



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West, you are moving it?



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



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]



The honourable Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency.



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: We would be happy to comply with that House Order.



MADAM SPEAKER: You have complied with the House Order. 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: Madam Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 105.



H.O. No. 105, re ERA - Trade (N.S.-S. Korea) [1994 & 1995] - notice given Jan. 8/96 - (Dr. J. Hamm)



DR. JOHN HAMM: I so move, Madam Speaker.



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]



[5:45 p.m.]



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



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Madam Speaker, to save time, I assume that House Order No. 106 is exactly the same wording for yet another nation. To the best of our ability and governed by, obviously, proprietary information and public confidentiality, we would be happy to try to supply the honourable members with that information both for House Order No. 105 and House Order No. 106.



MADAM SPEAKER: For House Order No. 105 and House Order No. 106 there is compliance.



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



House Order Nos. 105 and 106 are carried.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 70 and on behalf of the honourable member for Halifax Citadel, I so move.



H.O. No. 70, re Educ. - Mgt. Structure Audit (22/04/94): Implementation - Progress - notice given Jan. 3/96 - (Mr. T. Donahoe)



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, insofar as that can be managed, we will certainly agree to provide that.



MADAM SPEAKER: 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: Madam Speaker, there is just one left and we will try that one. 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)



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, I so move.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, I am obviously not in a position to respond to that. However, I will make a commitment that I will, short of giving agreement, discuss it with the minister and see if he has something he can provide the honourable member about that.



MR. HOLM: Madam Speaker, all I am asking for is really, quite honestly, the efforts that have been made by the government in order to try to achieve things which, of course, the Liberal Party said that they were going to be doing and developing such policies when they formed government back, not only while in Opposition but once they did form government, indicated that they were working on those policies in late 1993 and early 1994. I am just trying to find out what has been done to this point, actually, in developing those policies to which the government is obviously committed.



MR. MANN: Madam Speaker, I indicated I will take it up with the minister. I can agree to it if I want to, I suppose and then incur the wrath of the minister but I think he would respond in some way, so we will agree to do that.



MADAM SPEAKER: 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: Madam Speaker, I thank the minister and I thank the members of the Opposition front benches for their cooperation with the House Orders. That cleans the slate and our business for the day is completed.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, we will sit tomorrow from the hours of 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. or completion of business, whichever comes first. There are two bills in the Committee of the Whole House; we may, in fact, have an opportunity to dispense with them at the outset. There are two bills in Committee of the Whole House which we will begin with tomorrow and then Public Bills for Third Reading. I would move that we now adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.



MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is carried.



MR. SPEAKER: We have now reached the moment when we will have the late debate.



[Therefore be it resolved that this government continue its commitment and leadership to a single gateway authority for the Port of Halifax.]



ADJOURNMENT



MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.



TRANSPORT. - HALIFAX PORT:

GATEWAY AUTHORITY - COMMITMENT CONTINUE



MR. DENNIS RICHARDS: Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to speak on an issue that affects, certainly the metropolitan area in particular but, I believe, all of Nova Scotia. My resolution for debate this evening is that, ". . . this government continue its commitment and leadership to a single gateway authority for the Port of Halifax.".



You know, Mr. Speaker, one of the main goals of our government is to strengthen the provincial economy and improve the quality of life for all Nova Scotians. To help achieve this goal, many factors must be taken into consideration. We must try our best to streamline the bureaucratic structures that have lagged us certainly here in the metropolitan area and, for that matter, throughout the whole province. It was one of the reasons why our government forged ahead with municipal reform. As of yesterday we saw the completion, to some degree, of that process when the new regional municipality representing this area was sworn into office.



The key factor in doing that, Mr. Speaker, was to streamline the bureaucratic process and reduce the inter-municipal competition that helped hinder economic development and growth for this area. We must look at this area for the good of all and reduce that competition that has resulted at the expense of the taxpayer.





Mr. Speaker, one of the key issues that will affect this whole metropolitan area is the Port of Halifax. The Port of Halifax has the potential to be one of the most important ingredients in our economic development and growth as we forge ahead, for not only the metro area but for all of Nova Scotia.



Mr. Speaker, there has been example after example of when there was cooperation, when there was unity in thought and process, good things happened. I want to cite a couple of examples. A year or so ago, our government took the lead in saying to the municipalities in the metro area, if we get our act together, if we speak as a single voice, we have a chance to compete nationally for a major operation, the blood fractionation plant. That happened. The result is that we have turned the sod for that operation and it is $150 million of activity that will come to the metro area and will eventually create 400 very high-pro jobs for the metro area and for Nova Scotia.



Sears Canada announced that it will expand its catalogue call centre and pump into this area $150 million and 150 new jobs. Volvo Canada, because we are starting to progress in this area, has also revisited its position and said, we want to stay in the metro area because it is the right place to do business. It has changed its facility only from the harbour front up to Bayers Lake Industrial Park. That is an operation, Mr. Speaker, that creates 140 full-time employment positions and it will be the key manufacturing location for Volvo in all of North America. These are just some examples of good things that can happen when we speak with a single vision and a single voice in the metro area.



We are sitting on what some people consider, and I am one of them, a gold mine of opportunity when we look at this area. We have been cited world-wide as one of the most aggressive locations for business opportunity. This ice-free port here is the second largest port in all of the world, second only to Sydney, Australia. We can take the largest ships that come in to any port. What opportunities can that bring to us? Well, we can attract some of the most aggressive steamline operations, some of the aggressive container operations and, I might add, things are starting to improve in that area.



Container activity in the past year has increased by about 30 per cent, but we need to do better than that. We need to grow stronger and what conditions will help that to occur? The port itself, we all know how tremendous it is in terms of its water depth, in terms of its size and things like that, but other agreements that have recently taken place put us on another forefront. When the tunnel at Sarnia was completed not long ago, which now connects the Port of Halifax by rail to the central North American centres, we are now able to get goods from Halifax into places like Chicago. First coming into our port, then using the rail system and getting our product into the central United States faster than if the ship sailed directly to New York.



That is an advantage that we have to build on. It is an advantage that we must sell world-wide. It is one of the issues why our Premier has made a commitment this year, as he had last year, to go out and aggressively promote Nova Scotia and promote the metro area and particularly our port facility. The strength of our port includes the geographic advantage of a 50 mile proximity to the Great Circle route. We have the advantage, as I mentioned already, of an ice-free harbour with year-round activity.



These features combined with our superior intermodal connections recently enhanced us, I have already mentioned by the Sarnia tunnel, make Halifax an ideal gateway to Canada and to the United States. Many shippers are already discovering these excellent features, but we must do better.



Recently, I was advised that a shipper tried to make arrangements for some activity here and he had to deal with seven different agencies before he could complete his transaction. I believe that is way too much. I believe we must do better than that. I believe that we must streamline that bureaucratic structure so that when new business comes to this area, that we have one authority speaking with a single voice and a single vision to make sure that metro, particularly the port, is promoted and developed for the benefit of all. We can do better, we must do better because as Nova Scotia continues to play a lead role in the economic development of the Atlantic Region, we must provide for complete sustainability in all areas. We can no longer depend on big brother in Ottawa to come along and say we can subsidize at the expense of the taxpayer.



That day is behind us. The day and years and the future must bring us back to where Nova Scotia once was, Nova Scotia as a sustainable economically viable part of this great country. A part of the country that we all are very proud to say was a leader in economic development. We can do better, we must do better.



[6:00 p.m.]



The port is only part of it. We must interlink the whole network of transportation. Recently, there was a new authority established for the airport. We must link the airport, the port here for the water network system, particularly CFB Shearwater with the tremendous assets that it has, so that we are not competing with one another, we are all speaking from the same voice, the same vision, to enhance the whole community, to make certain that we go forward with a voice that is going to be aggressive, yes, but certainly one that will enhance the economic opportunities for business development and growth.



Mr. Speaker, it is critical that we do this. It was to the point that our Premier had announced that he is fully in support of this gateway authority for the metropolitan area. We must do everything we can to support that vision and continue to grow, as our government's mandate is completed.



Mr. Speaker, I know my time is up and I certainly have a great deal more to say on this very important topic. I wish that another opportunity is presented so that I may complete these thoughts. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: Are there further intervenors? If there are no further intervenors, that will conclude the Adjournment debate. We now stand adjourned until 12:00 o'clock noon tomorrow.



[The House rose at 6:02 p.m.]