Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Wed., Apr. 3, 1996

Fourth Session

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 78, Nat. Res.: Natl. Wildlife Week (07/04/96-13/04/96) -
Endorse, Hon. E. Norrie 190
Vote - Affirmative 190
Res. 79, Agric.: Outstanding Young Farmers (Atlantic Reg.) -
Congrats., Hon. W. Gaudet 190
Vote - Affirmative 191
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 10, Regional Community Development Act, Hon. R. Harrison 191
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 80, Gov't. (N.S.): Expensive Habits - Cease, Mr. R. Russell 191
Res. 81, Health - Home Care: Leadership - Show, Mr. R. Chisholm 191
Res. 82, Hants West MLA - Mini Sips: Miscount - Acknowledge,
Mrs. L. O'Connor 192
Res. 83, ERA - Junior Achievers (Eastern Shore):
Entrepreneurial Spirit - Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 193
Vote - Affirmative 193
Res. 84, Fin. - Budget (1996-97): Accurate - Urge, Mr. J. Holm 193
Res. 85, Transport. - Little Narrows Ferry: Service Reduction -
Sensitivity Show, Mr. B. Taylor 194
Res. 86, Devco - Plan: Mgt./Lbr. - Partnership Urge, Mr. R. Chisholm 194
Res. 87, CFB Shearwater - Aviation Training Centre: Establishment -
Support, Mr. D. Richards 195
Vote - Affirmative 195
Res. 88, Devco: UMW Proposal - Support, Mr. A. MacLeod 195
Res. 89, Agric. - Inspection Standards: New - Support, Mr. E. Lorraine 197
Vote - Affirmative 197
Res. 90, Halifax Needham MLA - Info. Hwy.: Commitment - Acknowledge,
Mr. J. Leefe 197
Res. 91, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - LaHave Ferry: Benefits - Consider,
Mr. J. Holm 198
Res. 92, Culture - Heritage: Presentation - Continue, Mrs. F. Cosman 198
Vote - Affirmative 199
Res. 93, PC Parties (Can./N.S.): Future - Uncertainty,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 199
Res. 94, Health: Home Care Prog. - Complete, Mr. A. MacLeod 199
Res. 95, Fin. - Taxation: PST & GST Harmonization - Debate,
Mr. R. Russell 200
Res. 96, NDP Leader (Can.): Equitable Taxation - Support, Mr. B. Holland 200
Res. 97, Halifax Citadel MLA - Victims Abuse Compensation:
"Slush Fund" - Apologize, Mr. A. Mitchell 201
Res. 98, ERA - CIBC Call Centre (Hfx.): Opening - Congrats.,
Mr. R. Richards 201
Res. 99, NDP - Social Programs Defence: Moral Compass - None,
Mr. R. MacNeil 202
Res. 100, Col.-Musquodoboit Valley MLA - Highway No. 104
Western Alignment: Construction Views - Support, Mr. B. Holland 203
Res. 101, Victoria Co. - Waste Mgt.: Communications Plan - Congrats.,
Mr. K. MacAskill 203
Res. 102, Sports - Hockey: Stora Tournament - Congrats., Mr. R. White 204
Vote - Affirmative 204
Res. 103, NATO Fleet - Sea Trials: Success - Wish, Mr. G. Fogarty 205
Vote - Affirmative 205
Res. 104, Halifax Citadel MLA: Abuse Victims Compensation - Endorse,
Mr. William MacDonald 205
Res. 105, ERA - Tourism: Eastern Shore Participants Success -
Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 206
Vote - Affirmative 206
Res. 106, Bedford-Fall River - Community: Service - Acknowledge,
Mrs. F. Cosman 206
Vote - Affirmative 207
Res. 107, Halifax Co. - Councillors/Staff: Service - Appreciation,
Mr. William MacDonald 207
Vote - Affirmative 207
Res. 108, Queens MLA - Politics: Playing - Interest Recognize,
Mr. R. Carruthers 207
Res. 109, Halifax Citadel MLA - Container Deposits: Flip-flop - Note,
Mr. G. Fogarty 208
Res. 110, Fish. - Aquaculture Cert. Prog.: Graduates - Congrats.,
Mr. R. White 208
Vote - Affirmative 209
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 13, Sysco - Chinese Rails: Contract - Safeguards, Dr. J. Hamm 209
No. 14, Health: VON - Strike, Mr. R. Chisholm 211
No. 15, Environ. - Cans: Uncrushed - Transport Costs, Dr. J. Hamm 213
No. 16, Environ.: Tire Recycling Atlantic Canada Corp. - Status,
Mr. B. Taylor 214
No. 17, Environ.: Resource Recovery Fund - Exemptions, Mr. R. Russell 216
No. 18, Environ. - Resource Recovery Fund: Deposits - Collection,
Mr. G. Moody 217
No. 19, Fin.: Taxation - PST & GST Harmonization, Mr. R. Chisholm 218
No. 20, Environ. - Resource Recovery Fund: Chair/Members - Voluntary,
Mr. T. Donahoe 219
No. 21, ERA - Pictou Industries: Sale - Proposals, Mr. D. McInnes 221
No. 22, Nat. Res. - Queens: Thomas Raddall Park - Opening, Mr. J. Leefe 222
No. 23, Health: Hants Commun. Hosp. - Emergency Serv., Mr. R. Russell 223
No. 24, Justice - Family Violence: Framework For Action - Funding,
Mr. J. Holm 225
No. 25, Fin. - Milk/Caviar: GST - Applicable, Mr. G. Archibald 226
No. 26, Environ.: Resource Recovery Fund - Recycling Contract,
Mr. B. Taylor 227
No. 27, Health - Hospitals: Mergers - Methods, Mr. A. MacLeod 228
No. 28, Health - Physicians: Billings - Info. Release, Mr. G. Moody 228
No. 29, ERA - IMP Plant (C.B.): President (Mr. K. Rowe) - Commitment,
Mr. R. Chisholm 229
No. 30, ERA - West Col. Commun. Dev. Authority: Lighthouse Ownership -
Transfer, Mr. D. McInnes 230
No. 31, Fin. - Growth Dividend Fund: Tax Relief - Info., Mr. R. Russell 231
No. 32, Nat. Res. - Forestry: Harvest - Sustainability, Mr. B. Taylor 232
No. 33, Agric.: Farm Loan Bd. - Privatization, Mr. G. Archibald 233
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 2, Sysco - Rail Contract: Loss - Statement Make,
Mr. A. MacLeod 234
Mr. A. MacLeod 234
Hon. B. Boudreau 237
Mr. R. Chisholm 240
Mr. T. Donahoe 242
Res. 55, Fin. - Tax: Definition - Clear, Mr. R. Russell 246
Mr. B. Taylor 246
Hon. W. Adams 248
Mr. J. Holm 251
Mr. R. Russell 253
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Hwy. Maintenance - Equitable:
Mr. R. Carruthers 255
Mr. G. Archibald 258
Mr. J. Holm 260
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Apr. 4th at 11:00 a.m. 262
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
H.O. 1, Educ.: Hector Centre (Pictou) - Funding (1993-97), Mr. D. McInnes 263
[Page 189]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Paul MacEwan

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like to call the House to order at this time.

Before we commence the daily routine, I would like to make a few announcements. Hansard will be on the Internet commencing immediately, as a result of an initiative of our Hansard Office. Those who are subscribers to the Internet can plug in daily to Hansard, if such is their wish, on the Legislature home page.

Also, I wish to indicate that a New Members' Manual is in preparation by the Legislative Library Office with a target of next week for it being available to members and when that New Members' Manual is available, copies will be distributed to all members.

Are there any introductions of guests before we begin the daily routine? If not, the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

189

[Page 190]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 78

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

Whereas Nova Scotia has been blessed with more than 250 species of wildlife; and

Whereas these birds and animals make a great contribution to the quality of life enjoyed by Nova Scotians; and

Whereas wildlife play a vital role in the health and conservation of ecosystems in our environment; and

Whereas the Canadian Wildlife Federation has declared April 7th to April 13th National Wildlife Week and has sponsored this event since 1963; and

Whereas the National Wildlife Week helps to promote awareness of the importance of wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House endorse National Wildlife Week in Nova Scotia and applaud the good work of the Canadian Wildlife Federation and its members.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 79

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

Whereas the Atlantic Region Outstanding Young Farmers Banquet, to recognize young farm couples for their outstanding agricultural achievements, was held recently; and

Whereas 3 out of 5 farms couples nominated for recognition at the Atlantic level were Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the success of their nomination was based on their achievements expressed through an extensive application process;

[Page 191]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations to Harry and Joanne van der Linden of Antigonish; William and Sherma Versteeg of Hants County; and Peter and Doreen Stokdijk of Truro, for their achievements as outstanding young farmers of the Atlantic Region.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 10 - Entitled an Act to Encourage and Facilitate Community-based Planning for Economic, Social and Institutional Change. (Hon. Robert Harrison)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 80

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

Whereas if every Nova Scotian drinks one beverage each day of the year, they will now pay the Liberal Government over $16 million in new taxes per year; and

Whereas the no new taxes Liberals have hiked everything from sales tax to motor vehicle registration to birth certificates and now to a thirst tax; and

Whereas thousands of Nova Scotians are without jobs and others have lost wages to roll-backs, but the Liberal Government keeps on gouging the taxpayer;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government stop ripping the shirts off the backs of the Nova Scotian taxpayers by giving up some expensive habits like high cost pay-offs to fired deputy ministers and appointing ministers to secretariats.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 81

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

[Page 192]

Whereas the Department of Health temporarily extended a contract with the Victorian Order of Nurses on March 29, 1996, two days after 38 VON nurses went on strike; and

Whereas the VON has subcontracted out the work of the 38 striking nurses to meet their obligations which appears to be in violation of the agreement between the Province of Nova Scotia and the VON; and

Whereas the NDP caucus is hearing from home care patients who are experiencing delays, receiving improper care, and who are anxious and distressed about the quality and disruption of much-needed home care;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health show some leadership for home care services in Nova Scotia by assuring Nova Scotians that home care will not be operated on the premise of the lowest bidder wins.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 82

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

Whereas the honourable member for Hants West during Question Period yesterday referred to a package that contained 100 Mini Sips; and

Whereas when being interviewed outside the Chamber, the member referred to a package that contained 40 Mini Sips; and

Whereas the honourable member has displayed his questionable ability to count accurately;

Therefore be it resolved that the honourable member for Hants West acknowledge to this House that this inability to count is the reason why this province was in such a financial mess when the present government took office.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has requested waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

[Page 193]

RESOLUTION NO. 83

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

Whereas the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and growing along the Eastern Shore as evidenced by the recent business success of 36 young Junior Achievers from the Sheet Harbour area; and

Whereas those 36 Junior Achievers coming from Ecum Secum to Ship Harbour, developed a complete business plan and marketing strategy for two products, a heart wreath and a decorative candle and then manufactured and successfully sold their products; and

Whereas these Junior Achievers, under the coordination of Brenda Farris and four business advisers, have been given top sales awards and have been nominated as the Nova Scotia Junior Achiever Company of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the 36 young Junior Achievers on the Eastern Shore for their entrepreneurial spirit and drive, and our education programs which continue to encourage young people to catch the entrepreneurial spirit and run with it, thereby promoting the economic growth of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 84

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

Whereas a resolution under the Expenditure Control Act introduced into this House by the Minister of Finance, represents a clear violation of the Provincial Finance Act; and

Whereas this action by the minister demonstrates once again that any balanced budget presented by this government will be a phoney one produced to the detriment of good government; and

Whereas this action also proves that there are no limits to the trickery this deficit obsessed government will employ to produce its phoney, balanced budget;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to put aside its trickery and instead introduce a budget that is a true and accurate accounting of expenditures, deficits and/or surpluses for fiscal years 1995-96 and projected for 1996-97.

[Page 194]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 85

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

Whereas cost cutting measures by the Department of Transportation have resulted in considerable concern for the residents of Little Narrows; and

Whereas construction business owner Don Matheson of Little Narrows recently said the idea of a reduction of service would be the same as putting up a roadblock on any part of the highway; and

Whereas Mr. Matheson also said he realizes that government expenditures must be controlled but not at the expense of essential services;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation show some sensitivity in addressing the cost cutting measures his government deems necessary instead of forcing hardship on local business and homeowners in areas such as Little Narrows, dependent upon the local ferry service.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 86

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

Whereas history has shown that the economy of Cape Breton has been severely damaged by a continuing top-down approach that has ignored local control and initiative; and

Whereas the current so-called consultation on Devco's future carries on this approach by requiring miners to line up at the microphones at public meetings to give their input on Devco's corporate plan; and

Whereas any successful corporate plan must involve worker participation and empowerment;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges management of the Cape Breton Development Corporation to abandon its arrogant belief that it alone knows best and recognize that Devco's future plans must be the product of an equal partnership between management and labour.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 195]

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 87

[2:15 p.m.]

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

Whereas the Canadian Air Force Base at Shearwater trains over 400 technicians nationwide, with a future proposal to out-source 100 aviation personnel to be trained within the Atlantic Region; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Community College's I.W. Akerley Campus is one of four Transport Canada aviation mechanics approved colleges in the Atlantic Provinces pursuing this training contract; and

Whereas a successful partnership between the Canadian Air Force at CFB Shearwater and the Nova Scotia Community College would elevate the college's exposure to aviation to a world-class training organization;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly support the establishment of the Aviation Training Centre by the Nova Scotia Community College as part of the long-term plans for Shearwater's economic diversification.

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 Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 88

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 pending loss of 800 permanent jobs in industrial Cape Breton will have a devastating effect on the local economy; and

[Page 196]

Whereas Cape Breton miners have demonstrated their good faith in lessening the impact of this crisis by offering Devco management an impressive list of concessions that will save the corporation over $200 million over the next five years; and

Whereas these concessions will help the corporation achieve its goals and, at the same time, save hundreds of jobs that would otherwise be lost should Devco proceed with its five year plan;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House support the UMW's proposal to help secure the future of hundreds of Cape Breton miners and their families and that the Premier immediately contact the board of directors and urge them to demonstrate the same willingness to resolve the current crisis, as has been demonstrated by the miners.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

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

Whereas the NDP prides itself on being the voice of those who cannot defend themselves in society; and

Whereas the member for Sackville-Cobequid has proven he lacks any courage in his conviction when he attacks the government for appropriating additional funding for victims of institutional abuse; and

Whereas the said member has demonstrated his absence of conviction by calling for the delay of compensation for victims of institutional abuse in a political game that has become increasingly typical of NDP behaviour;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the member for Sackville-Cobequid for his unprincipled approach to elected representation.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid on a point of order, which he is entitled to be heard on.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On a point of order I would like you to rule that resolution out of order because the resolution is dealing with comments that I made in this House. A clear look at the Hansard transcript from yesterday will see that I said absolutely none of those things, that we indicated our full support for compensation for victims of violence and that we did in no way suggest that that compensation should be delayed.

[Page 197]

What we said was that the government should do a proper accounting through the budgetary process. Mr. Speaker, there is a clear misrepresentation in what the member has said.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member need not unduly exercise himself. I don't want this to become a free-for-all. I am persuaded at the honourable member's position. I would rule the resolution out of order.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 89

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

Whereas the citizens of Great Britain and, indeed, the entire world are concerned about the situation of the beef industry in England; and

Whereas here in Nova Scotia and throughout all of Canada beef herds are in excellent health and our beef products are produced with the highest quality; and

Whereas the Minister of Agriculture has introduced a new, mandatory meat inspection policy for all meat produced in Nova Scotia for the retail market, an inspection policy which I and many others in the beef industry have encouraged and supported for many years;

Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulate the honourable Minister of Agriculture for these new inspection standards which will complement the beef inspection standards of Agriculture Canada and ensure Nova Scotians that our beef products are of excellent quality.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 90

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

Whereas life on the Internet will never be the same now that the member for Halifax Needham will be surfing it; and

[Page 198]

Whereas the member's new-found appreciation of science and technology will, no doubt, manifest itself in his own home page and an e-mail address, possibly .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address); and

Whereas, in adapting to his new portfolio, the member will no doubt immediately seek computer and Internet training and a typing course to get his speed up;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate the member for Halifax Needham for his commitment to the information highway and his efforts to prepare himself for the next millennium. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 91

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

Whereas the latest target in the Liberal Government's war on public service is the LaHave Ferry service; and

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is saying that his government will only protect the ferry service if its annual operating deficit is eliminated; and

Whereas the LaHave Ferry service is vitally important to the economic and social fabric of South Shore communities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to look beyond the bottom line of his budget and consider the human and economic benefits to the citizens, businesses and emergency services of the LaHave communities that are serviced by the ferry.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.

RESOLUTION NO. 92

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

Whereas the Shubenacadie Canal is an important cultural and historic site which reminds Nova Scotians of the ingenuity, dedication and hard work of early settlers who sought every means to develop efficient modes of transportation and commerce; and

Whereas the building and lands at Lock No. 5 of the Shubenacadie Canal have recently been registered as a Provincial Heritage Property with the Department of Municipal Affairs; and

[Page 199]

Whereas the designation of Lock No. 5 as a Provincial Heritage Property will safeguard the area and ensure future generations access to this important historical and cultural resource;

Therefore be it resolved that the House continue to explore ways of preserving and promoting the unique richness and heritage of our beautiful province.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 93

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

Whereas the federal Progressive Conservative Leader, Jean Charest, recently came to Nova Scotia in an attempt to recruit provincial Tory MLAs for the next federal election in a vain attempt to revitalize his Party; and

Whereas Charest's efforts bring new meaning to the phrase, "you've got to be kidding!", considering the history of certain members of the provincial Tory caucus; and

Whereas some of the possible recruits mentioned in press reports include the members for Kings North, Halifax Citadel, Queens, and Kings West;

Therefore be it resolved that the federal Tories have proven that they are not long for this political world while the provincial Tories continue to falter under the weight of the extensive Samsonite collection carried by the above-mentioned members.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 94

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 community of Glace Bay does not have a doctor's clinic for its 8,000 residents; and

[Page 200]

Whereas the Cape Breton Regional Council passed a resolution asking to meet with the Minister of Health to discuss the "crisis in home care"; and

Whereas the regional council, through said resolution, also asked the Minister of Health to stop any further cuts to health care facilities or services until alternatives are in place;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health complete a clear and comprehensive home care system before blindly cutting any further health facilities or services that all Nova Scotians hold dear.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 95

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

Whereas the Premier and his government are leading the charge for a harmonized sales tax by nibbling at hooks baited for Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas governments in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario won't even sniff at the carrot dangled in front of them by the federal Liberals; and

Whereas Nova Scotians wonder what those Premiers know that this Premier Savage does not;

Therefore be it resolved that this Premier refrain from rushing into deals with his friends in Ottawa before the full impact of a harmonized GST/PST is completely defined, publicly debated and analyzed with respect to the implications for Nova Scotian taxpayers.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North with an introduction.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and to other members of the Legislature Denise Burns and Luke Erjavec. They are both sitting in the Speaker's Gallery. As you have noticed, they have indicated that they are having some concern with both the GST and with the harmonization process. They represent over 20,000 employees in a gross business of $717 million per year in Nova Scotia. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 96

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

[Page 201]

Whereas while no agreement on the harmonization of GST and PST has been concluded, the Leader of the federal NDP is showing her true colours by labelling potential compensation for lost revenue as a bribe; and

Whereas after less than a year in Ottawa, Ms. McDonough is attacking poorer provinces in their attempt to secure revenue for programs such as health, education and social services; and

Whereas the federal NDP Leader is playing to an audience in Ontario instead of defending the legitimate needs of poorer provinces;

Therefore be it resolved that the federal Leader of the NDP support the efforts of the Atlantic Provinces to ensure equitable tax treatment instead of attacking those very efforts.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 97

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

Whereas the member for Halifax Citadel has referred to the allocation of $32 million for victims of institutional abuse as a slush fund; and

Whereas such a reference can only be described as disgusting considering the personal scars victims of abuse will carry with them for the rest of their lives; and

Whereas allocated compensation for victims of physical and sexual abuse is hardly a slush fund but demonstrates the kind of important issues our government is now correcting;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Halifax Citadel apologize to the victims and the people of Nova Scotia for his description of the $32 million in institutional abuse compensation as a slush fund.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 98

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

Whereas the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce's telephone banking centre opened with great fanfare this week at their new location in the Trade Mart Building in Halifax; and

Whereas the $26 million call centre will field calls from over 30 million people a year from across Canada with its 200 new employees; and

[Page 202]

Whereas the CIBC call centre jobs are lauded as highly skilled jobs for the future as the bank expects to hire 300 more people over the next two years;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate this government under the leadership of John Savage who began luring the call centre in December 1994 by boasting the area's highly educated workforce, low costs and sizeable bilingual population.

Mr. Speaker, I am asking for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 99

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 new Leader of the NDP is attacking the federal government for the introduction of the Canada Health and Social Transfer because he believes that it will erode the government's ability to fund health, social services and education; and

Whereas in the same breath the member for Sackville-Cobequid is mysteriously attacking the provincial government for allocating additional money for victims of abuse, health and public service worker adjustment; and

Whereas the actions of the NDP once again prove that, while they claim the high and moral ground, they are not immune from engaging in gutter politics;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the NDP is no moral compass when it comes to the defence of beleaguered social programs.

[2:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled. (Interruption)

Well, all right, very briefly. I don't find the resolution to be out of order, but go ahead.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I know you have ruled on other occasions that resolutions introduced in this House must, in fact, be accurate. The member is, again, implying and suggesting in one of his whereas clauses that we, and more particularly I, had opposed the providing of additional funds for victims of abuse. That member and members of this House know that is inaccurate, it is an untruth, and it is the process that the Minister of Finance has used, the trickery, that we are objecting to.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Be seated. The problem is, this type of gratuitous point of order lends to responses from other members and it just opens up a big can of worms.

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The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite, along with the Official Opposition, opposed the process on a point of order. They lost the battle on the process and the resolution was ruled to be in order to be debated. That member opposite, who is now up on a point of order, very clearly stated in this House - and check Hansard - that he is opposing the motion. The motion is to allocate $32 million to victims' compensation. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I find there to be no point of order.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a new point of order. The Minister of Transportation and Public Works said that the resolution before this House states that it is to provide funding for Victims of Violence, and that is not correct.

MR. SPEAKER: I find there to be no point of order.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 100

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

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has announced the creation of hundreds of jobs in the construction of the Highway No. 104 western alignment; and

Whereas the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley upon hearing the statement said, "There is no question that the highway is desperately needed and hopefully it will curtail and maybe abate some of the death and carnage that has taken place on the existing highway up through Wentworth and, of course, will enable Nova Scotia shippers and the construction industry to more safely move their commodities."; and

Whereas it is refreshing to see that the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley reluctantly recognizes the need to construct the Highway No. 104 western alignment;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley for finally realizing that the government is following the correct action in building the Highway No. 104 western alignment.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 101

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

Whereas the provincial government's new waste management strategy brings us one step closer to the achievable goal of a 50 per cent solid waste diversion by the year 2000; and

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Whereas municipal units, business leaders and individual householders working in cooperation are vital to the overall success of the waste management strategy; and

Whereas the municipal unit of Victoria County is promoting this strategy by effectively communicating how residents can actively participate in the waste management strategy of this province;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to the Municipality of Victoria County for their forward thinking innovative communication plans.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 102

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

Whereas for 10 days during the March Break approximately 1,000 young hockey players from all over Nova Scotia came to the Strait area to participate in the 1996 Stora Hockey Tournament; and

Whereas this tournament is sponsored by Stora Forest Products, the Port Hawkesbury Recreation Department and many local businesses, community organizations and volunteers, organized under the leadership of Mr. Jim Pyke of the Port Hawkesbury Recreation Department, aided by 27 co-chairs; and

Whereas the young hockey players, from novice to bantam level, had a great tournament and received numerous awards, in addition to enjoying the warm hospitality of the fans of the Port Hawkesbury Arena and the Richmond Arena;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all the young hockey enthusiasts from across Nova Scotia, the tournament sponsors, the coordinators and volunteers, for a very successful 1996 Stora Hockey Tournament.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax-Bedford Basin.

[Page 205]

RESOLUTION NO. 103

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

Whereas four U.S. Navy ships with 1,400 sailors docked in Halifax after three weeks of NATO exercises in the Caribbean; and

Whereas close to 40 ships with more than 11,000 sailors will be coming to Halifax over the next five months, from the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark; and

Whereas estimates are that such visits will inject more than $6 million into the local economy by the end of summer;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House wish all the participants of the NATO fleet every success in their sea trials and trust they will enjoy well-deserved leisure time while here in Nova Scotia.

I would request 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 Sackville-Beaverbank.

RESOLUTION NO. 104

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

Whereas justice delayed is justice denied; and

Whereas the member for Halifax Citadel enjoys berating the government for failing to respond to the needs of victims of injustice, even though there is no basis for his attacks; and

Whereas the Liberal Government is attempting to rapidly move towards the compensation of victims of abuse in government institutions, while both Opposition Parties are opposing such moves;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Halifax Citadel and his Party endorse the government's allocation of funds to compensate victims of sexual and physical violence, instead of delaying the process through unnecessary partisan posturing.

[Page 206]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 105

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

Whereas the tourism industry on the Eastern Shore is experiencing tremendous growth, with a total revenue of $13 million in 1995, up approximately 50 per cent since 1993; and

Whereas the 3rd Annual Tourism Day was recently held for members of the community, business and government, to produce strategic plans and cooperative efforts, as ways to increase tourism activities; and

Whereas the key to developing a successful tourism strategy is the participation and involvement of the many stakeholders in the tourism industry;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the outstanding tourism operators, resident groups, various committees and organizations working in cooperation with Economic Development and Tourism Nova Scotia.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.

RESOLUTION NO. 106

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

Whereas countless residents in the constituency of Bedford-Fall River and volunteered their time and energy to various boards, agencies, committees and organization, thereby contributing to the building of strong, viable local communities; and

Whereas many women and men throughout the years have ably served their local communities as elected municipal leaders and staff members; and

Whereas on April 1st, communities in the riding of Bedford-Fall River became members of the Regional Municipality of Halifax;

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Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the dedication and the service of the many volunteers, staff members and elected officials throughout the riding of Bedford-Fall River and encourage them to continue serving their local communities as residents of the new Regional Municipality of Halifax.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?

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 Sackville-Beaverbank.

RESOLUTION NO. 107

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

Whereas on April 1, 1996 the Regional Municipality of Halifax officially came into being; and

Whereas the Municipality of the County of Halifax accepted this change in local municipal government with grace and dignity; and

Whereas many of the policies that will be implemented by the new regional municipality, such as area rates and community councils, were already an integral part of the governance of the Municipality of the County of Halifax;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend to all who served as members of staff and as councillors of the Municipality of the County of Halifax its appreciation for a job well done in establishing a solid foundation for the new Regional Municipality of Halifax.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?

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 East.

RESOLUTION NO. 108

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

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Whereas the member for Queens, when Environment Minister, committed to a 40 cent deposit on certain beverage containers; and

Whereas the member for Queens now criticizes the current Environment Minister for a 10 cent deposit on beverage containers; and

Whereas once again, the member for Queens has performed a flip-flop for reasons of political expediency;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that the member for Queens is more interested in playing politics than in adhering to any commitments, especially his own.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 109

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

Whereas the honourable member for Halifax Citadel has been critical of the Minister of the Environment for the 10 cent container deposit fee; and

Whereas the honourable member for Halifax Citadel served as Attorney General in the previous government; and

Whereas the honourable member in his capacity as Attorney General wrote a letter to the then Minister of the Environment supporting a 40 cent container deposit fee;

Therefore be it resolved that this House duly note and admonish the honourable member for his atrocious flip-flop on the question of container deposits.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 110

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

Whereas Thursday, March 28th was graduation day for 13 aquaculture students in Canso from the Nova Scotia Fisheries School; and

Whereas the Aquaculture Certificate program provides fundamental knowledge of finfish culture, shellfish culture, operation and maintenance of equipment, aquaculture business, marketing and quality assurance and productivity; and

Whereas as an important component of this program, the aquaculture students acquired on-site experience at various aquaculture farms;

[Page 209]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the 13 graduates of the Nova Scotia Aquaculture Certificate program and continue to encourage growth and development of this promising fishery industry throughout Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 p.m. this evening. The lucky winner today is the honourable member for Hants East. He submitted a resolution, a rather lengthy one:

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the refreshing change from the policies of previous governments on the part of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, for following through on a government commitment to ensure that highway maintenance and repair funds are allocated on an equitable basis.

We will hear discussion of that matter at 6:00 p.m. this evening.

[2:45 p.m.]

The Oral Question Period today runs for 90 minutes, from 2:46 p.m. until 4:16 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

SYSCO - CHINESE RAILS: CONTRACT - SAFEGUARDS

DR. JOHN HAMM: My question is for the Premier. Yesterday, when I asked the Premier if he was perfectly satisfied that the contract that Sysco signed with the Chinese railroad had all the appropriate safeguards present in that contract to protect Sysco, the Premier replied, "We were reasonably satisfied that all of the conditions that we sought were met.".

Mr. Speaker, a company in my area, Trenton Works, has been shipping offshore manufactured goods for years. Checking with their protocol, they will not sign a contract to ship offshore unless on-site inspection is performed before the manufactured goods are shipped overseas and, in addition, they will not allow for an agreement that has performance bond arbitration in the country in which the goods are sold.

Mr. Speaker, in addition, the Canadian Wheat Board has had a policy in place that refers directly to sales of wheat in China. No wheat will be shipped to China unless it is first inspected in Canada by Chinese inspectors and, again, they will not agree to arbitration in

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China. I again ask the Premier, does this Premier now admit that Sysco was not adequately protected by reason of the clauses in the contract that allowed those rails to be shipped to China before they were inspected by the Chinese inspectors?

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, this is a question of some involvement with the work concerning Sysco and I am going to ask the minister in charge of Sysco to answer it.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the real and genuine concern that the Opposition expresses with respect to this problem that Sysco is facing at the moment. It is not a trivial problem and it is obviously one that we are concerned about. The contracts that Sysco bid on were contracts under international rules that were available for tender by countries and businesses around the world. The conditions of those contracts were stated in the tender bids. Sysco bid, I think, and successfully, a series of five contracts. This was the fifth, the one we are talking about now. They have also done business successfully in many parts of the world. They are selling rails. They are not selling wheat, they are not selling rail cars, they are selling rails. In that market, bidding against the world, they have been successful in getting those contracts.

The first four contracts passed without incident. In this particular fifth contract, there is a problem. We are going to try to deal with that. The Sysco management are going to try to deal with that and I know all of us will want to see them succeed.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, as does the Minister of Finance, want Sysco to succeed but that is not the issue of the day. The issue of the day is that rails were shipped from Sydney before there was adequate inspection by a Chinese inspector. There was no stamp of approval before those rails were shipped offshore. Now it is alleged that these rails suffer from a condition called martensite. I understand that means that the rails are too brittle. It is alleged by the Chinese that it was due to the rails being cooled too quickly.

My question to the minister responsible for Sysco, and I understand a member of the board of directors of Sysco, is, prior to two years ago, was it customary or did Sysco ever ship rails offshore without having customer inspection and a customer stamp of approval before those rails left the country?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I can only indicate to the honourable member that I will take that question on notice. I will ask senior management if, prior to two years ago, any orders were shipped offshore without being inspected prior to leaving the site. I understand the question. I will contact senior management, ask them the question and bring the answer to the honourable member. However, I would indicate that in this particular case, we are informed by senior management that inspection of the kind that, for example, is done by CN Rail on a routine basis, would not have revealed the alleged defect that the Chinese are now indicating.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary, again to the minister responsible for Sysco. One would be led to believe that the extent of the liability to Sysco, in this particular matter, may only be the amount of the performance bond, which is something in excess, I understand, of $3 million. But other information suggests to me that Sysco's liability, in fact, could be greater than the amount of the performance bond. I ask the minister here today to tell the House, what is the extent of the liability to Sysco, in the event that the Chinese are successful in proving their allegations?

[Page 211]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am neither qualified nor would I feel comfortable at this stage in giving the honourable Leader of the Opposition, or the House, a legal opinion on what potential liabilities might exist, so I simply would not do it.

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

HEALTH: VON - STRIKE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question, through you, to the Premier. You may recall, back on December 28th, 1995, the Premier kicked off a very significant parade of frontbenchers and backbenchers of government, in an attempt to bolster the spirit of the Minister of Health in defending the Home Care Program. I refer back to the Premier's speech of that day where he said, "People want to be treated at home and they want to be guaranteed that the treatment they get would be first-class.".

Mr. Speaker, after my exchange yesterday with the Minister of Health, I received a call from a gentleman in my constituency who said that his father is dying at home and that he, since the disruption in nursing service with VON, has been kept waiting at least 36 hours and since has received VON service by casual nurses. At each time the visit has been from a different individual. That family is extremely upset with the level of care they are receiving.

My question to the Premier is, what will he do to back up his earlier boast by ensuring that this family and other clients will, in fact, receive the first-class nursing care in-home that he promised?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will tell you what I will do. I am prepared to meet with them tomorrow morning to discuss the issue. That is the place to do it, in an office, not in a place of public debate. (Applause)

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the way to deal with this is to make sure that the program and the protocol is in place (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Excuse me. The honourable member for Kings West does not have the floor.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . so that all clients of the Victorian Order of Nurses, in fact, are dealt with properly, not on a one-by-one basis. Management of the Victorian Order of Nurses in Halifax have said that they are responding to what they see as the need to compete with private for-profit, American-like companies, to keep their contract with Home Care Nova Scotia.

I would like to ask the Premier, since, in fact, it was the idea behind his government which originated the pressure being felt by the Victorian Order of Nurses, what will he, the Premier, do to ensure that the VON can provide this service without resorting to these types of cost-cutting measures which are ripping and tearing away at these nurses' contracts and threatening the government's commitment to provide quality nursing services?

THE PREMIER: Let me say first of all, Mr. Speaker, that this government's commitment to quality care continues. It is the way we will deliver home care and people in this province will get quality home care, as they are now. (Applause)

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It is difficult for us to enter this particular issue other than through the Minister of Labour. The Minister of Labour has already indicated to us that he has offered his services. Perhaps you would be good enough to ask the parties why they have not contacted the Minister of Labour. That might be a place to start. Secondly, I am intrigued that there are 13 other VONs that are, in effect, still on contract, that are still working well and I think you do the VON (Interruption) a grave discourtesy by (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, that member over there has obviously got something wrong with his throat.

What we have, Mr. Speaker, are 13 other branches of the VON and perhaps it would be interesting to talk to them. They, in effect, are still working and they are still providing quality care. We offer, as any responsible government will, nothing from the minister and I in terms of intervention in that particular issue. The Minister of Labour has already indicated that they are prepared to act and I suggest you listen to the facts for a change.

MR. CHISHOLM: Well, Mr. Speaker, as usual, I appreciate the patronizing tone of the Premier when we are talking about such an important issue as the quality of nursing care to people who are being shoved out of hospitals and back into their homes when I ask him about his commitment to provide quality care to those people.

Mr. Speaker, in view of the Premier's earlier statements to ensure that there is high quality care, and in consideration of the minister's statements in the House yesterday about quality of nursing care in the Province of Nova Scotia, will he, the Premier, and his Minister of Health commit themselves to involving the providers in the process of evaluation of nursing services being provided under Home Care Nova Scotia to ensure if, in fact, they are committed to quality, that nursing services, if they are put out to tender, that the quality criteria is paramount? Will the Premier commit to that?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think it would be more sensible if I gave - after I have said one remark - this to the Minister of Health. The issue is not helped by the irresponsible and casual remarks that continually come out of the mouth of that member, shoved out of hospital. That reduces the quality (Interruptions) of debate. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order.

THE PREMIER: What I am trying to say, Mr. Speaker, is that there is a responsible and sensible way of asking questions about quality of care. It never comes from over there, it certainly would never come from the former Minister of Health who would not know what quality of care was. But what I will do is I will ask the Minister of Health to give you the directions in terms of quality of care. (Interruptions)

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, with all due regard to the honourable member's question, the key issue here is the service that is being delivered. I would trust in the honourable member opposite's judgment that if he had a case, particularly as he has cited, that he will refer that on to Home Care Nova Scotia for investigation of the audit. We are doing audits of care (Interruptions) Well, then refer them on. If he has specific cases, instead of parading them out for political gain in this place, he should carry them to the care coordinators in Home Care Nova Scotia, hardworking nurses on-line, who continue to provide adequate and quality care and I would suggest that this is the proper route to go.

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Certainly, he should hold our feet to the fire for what is going on in terms of contracts, but for Heaven's sake, Mr. Speaker, we should at least have the courtesy to refer a particularly tragic situation, to which he refers, on to the proper people who are doing audits as we speak of the care that is being delivered in this particular instance. We will continue to do that and I would say also that the honourable member is quite out of line when he suggests that we are ready to sell off to proprietary agencies an essential service in Nova Scotia. We are not at all that (Interruptions) and I said in my place, not at all. We are in fact, as I mentioned in this place yesterday, that the bottom line and the focus will always be quality of care, not the bottom line in terms of a fiscal nature. (Applause)

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

ENVIRON. - CANS: UNCRUSHED - TRANSPORT COSTS

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. I recently had an opportunity to visit a processing plant which receives the product from the enviro-depots. They tell us that the aluminum cans, which are being collected now as a result of the mandatory deposit, are being shipped to that processing plant uncrushed and it is resulting in roughly five times the amount of transportation being involved to ship these uncrushed containers to the processing plant.

Bearing in mind some of these enviro-depots are more than 100 miles away from the processing plant, resulting in five times the amount of truck traffic to transport the cans, will the minister tell the House why the cans are being shipped uncrushed and is he prepared to take steps to allow the enviro-depots to crush the cans before shipping, bearing in mind all of the costs are being borne by the RRF?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, to answer the question directly, many options are open and are being reviewed by the RRF and our department with regard to the future processing of aluminum cans. At the present time, they are being collected whole, for the whole purpose of shipping efficiently and cost-effectively. Until such time as we have more programs and processes in place, that is the way it will be.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, again to continue with the Minister of the Environment. In addition, since this program has been announced and Nova Scotians are beginning to understand the complexity of the program as it now exists and realizing that they will be storing containers, in many instances in seniors' apartments and in other small apartments whereby storage facilities are limited, is the minister prepared to look at a process whereby the crushing of containers and the crushing of aluminum cans can occur by the purchaser prior to delivery to the enviro-depots? This will facilitate storage and, as well, it will facilitate their transport of their containers to the enviro-depots.

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, all the options that I have mentioned are under review, including the one that the honourable Leader just brought forward. I want to say that we are proud that we have a program in place that has depots throughout the province. When we look at the plan by the former government, they had no depots. The only depot was on the New Brunswick side of the Nova Scotia border and I think we have come a long way in cost-efficiency.

[Page 214]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the minister made reference to the process being cost-efficient. My understanding is that the hundred of thousands of cans and containers which are being processed through this new initiative are, in fact, going to be counted by hand. Will the minister, therefore, confirm that through the Resource Recovery Fund there will be an installation of bar code machines at each depot in the province so that each can, each aluminum can, each container and perhaps each plastic bag holding Mini-Sips will in fact be subject to counting manually and using a bar code machine? Will the minister confirm that is the kind of efficient organization and the kind of technology that is going to be used to determine the number of cans that are returned through this program?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, at the end of the day we will reveal our final conclusions on how we will calculate and count the cans in our system and we will have an accountability to the public as to what we are taking in, what is going out and the true costs and the efficiencies of the program.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I call another member, I would like to introduce to the House in the east gallery up here, a Municipal Councillor from New Waterford and former Mayor of the Town of New Waterford, Mr. Ray Kavanaugh. Stand up, Ray, please and take a bow. (Applause)

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

ENVIRON.: TIRE RECYCLING ATLANTIC CANADA CORP. - STATUS

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of the Environment. I would advise the Minister of the Environment, before I ask my question, that the constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, which happens to be the largest geographical riding on the mainland of Nova Scotia, does not have one enviro-depot, not one. (Interruptions)

Now yesterday, Mr. Speaker, in this House during Question Period, the Minister of the Environment told this House, relative to a tire recycling plant in the Province of Nova Scotia, "Mr. Speaker, both companies that came down to the final strokes are Nova Scotia companies.". We determined that two companies were in the running for the tire recycling plant. He also said, ". . . again to clarify the record, both companies are Nova Scotia companies.".

Can the Minister of the Environment tell me why the company named Tire Recycling Atlantic Canada Corporation, the company that the minister gave the Resource Recovery Fund the authority to negotiate with relative to the plant, does not have a phone number listed in the most recent edition of any Maritime telephone directory, does not have a new listing and is not registered with the Registry of Joint Stock Companies as, Mr. Speaker, they are required to do by the Partnership and Business Names Registration Act? How come they don't have any of those things?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, he asked two questions. I don't know which one he wants answered first. Am I permitted to answer two questions in the one? He asked about no resource or no enviro-depot in his area. I think if he were to get a copy of the map, which I will table here, in terms of locations that have been identified for enviro-depots, he would find out that we are looking for enviro-depots in those regions and I think it would be . . .

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MR. TAYLOR: And so am I.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, Oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order.

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member, if he were going to represent his area, look for those opportunities for jobs, that he would help the entrepreneurs like Joe Stewart in the area, to find an enviro-depot. It is not difficult.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why don't you open one up?

MR. TAYLOR: What about the other question?

MR. ADAMS: Now the other question, we mentioned yesterday, and I will repeat today, (Interruption) that yes, TRAC is a Nova Scotia company. I would also help the honourable member . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Where do they do business? What is their phone number?

MR. ADAMS: They have a phone number.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order!

MR. ADAMS: They have a phone number and an address, Mr. Speaker. I would like to help the honourable member there by telling him that the applicant he is supporting from his own riding has made movement to TRAC to be a partner with them in their new Nova Scotia-New Brunswick operation.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Environment, I don't know if he plays hockey or not but he tried to skate around that and did a very poor job.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of the Environment told us that in fact the Manitoba-based company, and I am charging and I am stating categorically that a Manitoba company received preference over a Nova Scotia company, but what I am saying is this, if the provincial interdepartmental committee recommended both companies, then how come you chose the Manitoba company over the Nova Scotia company?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, on a future day I will be delighted to bring in the address, the name and phone number of the Nova Scotia company called TRAC and provide it for all members of the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: TRAC has no record.

MR. ADAMS: To complete my answer, Mr. Speaker, we will provide the information and we do not know whether they are going to be the winners or not. We permitted them to negotiate with the Resource Recovery Fund and if they meet all the conditions that have been set forward, then they will be successful. If not, they may not be successful. But we cannot read the future before we get to that point.

[Page 216]

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the information I have is that the provincial committee made up of Environment, Economic Renewal and Transportation recommended the Nova Scotia company and the Minister of the Environment gave the mandate to the Resource Recovery Fund which engaged a private consultant, a Mr. Barry Alexander from Dartmouth who has no expertise in tire recycling. He made a report and recommendation to the Resource Recovery Fund and they, in turn, named a Manitoba-based company. Will the minister confirm if Barry Alexander, a private consultant, was engaged to study a study that was already completed by members of the Economic Renewal Agency, the Department of the Environment and the Department of Transportation?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will not stand in my place and condone the condemnation of an individual in that profession, as the honourable member has so eloquently done. I will confirm that the RRF did hire a consultant to review various tire processing facilities across the country. The results are as the member has acknowledged but I will not stand here and agree with him that we hired somebody who is not qualified.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

ENVIRON.: RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND - EXEMPTIONS

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to return to Mini Sips again. (Interruptions) Well, that is fine.

MR. SPEAKER: All right now, please, the honourable member for Hants West has the floor.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I had a call from a lady this morning, just before I came into the House actually. She told me that she had been to a store where she could get a Mini Sip for 20 cents - buy one and she would pay no tax. However, she didn't want a Mini Sip and she bought a tetra pack of fruit juice, which is 22 cents. She paid 10 cents deposit on that purchase, which is equivalent to almost a 50 per cent tax that she is paying on that item.

Would the minister agree that there should be some exemptions for these small packs that people take either to work or to school?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will take this question under advisement and take a look at it. I do think that is a small price, compared to 40 cents deposit that another member was part of planning for the future. I think that our figures are affordable and there is a return to portions of their deposit. (Interruptions) I heard a comment that they had more sense than to do it. They wrote the press release at the time the election was called, they didn't have time to do it.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, a store that now purchases its soft drinks from a jobber pays for the price of the soft drink, plus the tax or the deposit, whatever you wish to call it. Whereas in the past when a corner store purchased a case of pop, let's say for $5.00 for example. Now they are paying $6.20. Perhaps that is not too much on one case but a corner store that buys hundreds of cases of pop is carrying within its inventory a large amount of deposit or tax that has been imposed by this government and is receiving no recompense whatsoever for carrying that additional inventory.

[Page 217]

Will the minister make some allowance for stores to receive some portion of that 10 cent deposit, to cover their costs of carrying on business?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the question doesn't match any of the correspondence or dialogue that we have had in this program. I think at the present time there are very few store operators who would not admit or confess that they are this week receiving a windfall. They have not paid the deposit they are collecting. That is an advantage that the RRF saw fit to go along with because it gives them a hand up along the way to introduce this program.

Mr. Speaker, compensation has not been an issue at this point with any of the retailers. In fact we have gotten fairly good cooperation with retailers and wholesalers on this issue.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I will make available to the minister, when I get back to my office, the correspondence I have received. It does not in any way agree with the statement of the minister. If he thinks that the merchandisers in this province are not upset about this tax, he has it totally wrong.

I would ask the minister, why is it that when a store collects 11 per cent PST for the province, they receive a stipend for doing so? When they pick up a 10 cent tax for the Minister of the Environment, they do not? Does he think that that is fair?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I think the member answered his own question. When you collect the tax you get a stipend for doing it. When I hit a service station it would be the same thing, but this is a deposit.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

ENVIRON. - RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND: DEPOSITS - COLLECTION

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. The province - and I give the Minister of Finance a lot of credit for this -started collecting all the tax for cigarettes at the wholesale level, which is a very good move, now the Minister of the Environment is collecting the deposit tax at the wholesale level. I have been asked by many retailers, why is it that the deposit tax then has to be shown on a separate line item and rung in separately on every item when, in actual fact, there is no remittance to government? In other words, the government gets all its tax at the wholesale level that is coming to them on every item, why is it then that the retailer must go to the expense, time and effort of ringing all of these 10 cents in separately when they sell the item? Can the minister explain why?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, again I repeat my earlier answer that we have not heard those concerns from the retailers. Last Saturday when I was in a western Canadian province and bought a bottle of juice, there was a 25 cent deposit which I paid on that bottle and it was part of the normal process.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I can tell him why he hasn't heard, because retailers only got the information at the last moment. The very end of last week they got the information about how this separate line item and all of this was to be in effect. So, they did get it ahead of time, but not a long time in advance, of how this was going to work. Can the minister indicate why some retailers are still having trouble with their present cash registers and set-

[Page 218]

ups to show this line-by-line item? I would ask the minister if there is any penalty or if retailers have to pay a fine if a retailer hasn't been able to get programming done and, even if you have it done by computer, you still have to have somebody in to reprogram? I am asking the minister, is there any penalty for these people who have not gotten a new cash register or had time to reprogram their cash registers?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, there is no intention to penalize anybody who cooperates with the program. On Monday, I personally did some checking and found that there is a very small percentage of retailers who had to make any major cash register changes or adjustments. The vast majority told me they have computerized machines which require simple adjustments. To penalize people would be out of order.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I know someone who has a computerized system and they had to hire a person to come for a full day to make the changes, so I don't know what he is talking about, simplified computer changes. I am sure he can do it, he knows, he has done it. Well, I have been there and I know you can't do it as simple as the minister says; it costs money.

I would ask in my final supplementary, this new tax is going to cost retailers between 10 and 20 per cent of their single sales on many items, can the minister tell this House of any kind of analysis or study his department did on the impact of these changes if, in fact, such analysis or study was undertaken prior to this announcement?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I think the gist of the question may have been the impact on sales? The study that we have done, that I have been involved with was asking other jurisdictions what has happened, for the mark of experience. The impact is yes, there is an immediate impact. It is not a long-lasting impact and all those who have imposed the program or put the program in place have not had any long-suffering at the retail level.

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

FIN.: TAXATION - PST & GST HARMONIZATION

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. My question has to do with the talks on harmonization of the PST and the GST. Yesterday in this House, in an exchange, the Premier in fact acknowledged that issues like higher taxes on furnace oil, children's clothing, clothing purchases under $100 have not yet been resolved; they are still being worked on in these negotiations. I would like to ask the Premier if, in light of this obvious concern about these higher taxes on such important issues, will he reconsider his earlier remarks to the media that the GST harmonization will, in fact, be beneficial to the people of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is perfectly clear that this government has not yet signed anything, has not yet made any decisions. What I said was that the tax would obviously be extended into some areas that were not there before. We all know that, there's nothing unusual in that. I think the important thing is that governments have means of protecting those people and we also have a period, should we decide to join, of eight or nine months to work out the protections for the people of this province.

Let me just say, Mr. Speaker, we will not enter into an arrangement unless it is a win/win situation.

[Page 219]

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, ever since it came to light that the government was participating in negotiations over the harmonization of the PST and the GST other concerns, like the ones I just mentioned, have been coming forward from book sellers, school boards, municipalities, just today from the Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association. I would like to ask the Premier will he commit that his government will come out of the back rooms, out by the airport, and engage in a discussion with Nova Scotians before committing to any political deal on the Give Sheila Time tax?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, let me also repeat in case the member across the floor has not heard it, this is not a political deal. This is a deal that if it were to be consummated and done would be done between four provinces and the federal government. We would do it because we win not because we are in the same political Party as the current government in Ottawa.

So, let's be clear on this, there is no agreement at this point. We have signed nothing and we will guarantee to the people of this province that there will not be any major - let me correct that because that could be jumped on - let me say that we will protect the interests of low income people first and foremost as we have done since we got into power.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the problem here is that Nova Scotians have seen this government make deals on their behalf on things like UI reform, on things like the Canada Health and Social Transfers which has meant an increasing burden on the lives of many Nova Scotians in this province and they certainly don't have much faith in this Premier or his ministers.

I would like to ask the Premier in conclusion, Mr. Speaker, whether in fact he will confirm that the $200 million, called by many a bribe, offered by the federal government to Nova Scotia to take part in this scheme is as the Premier of P.E.I. has indicated, only any good for two years?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, first of all, let me correct once again the Leader of the Third Party. We have signed no deals with the federal government on GST or anything, neither have we signed any deals on the reduction in taxes that we have. These deals are not things you sign, they are the realities of living within a balanced budget, something that this government has done and something that the federal government is attempting to do. We support the federal government in its determination to bring its books into order. Let's have no mistake about that at all. If this government can do it and the federal government can do it, then there will be a return of those dollars into the services that we value very much, but the reality is, that if you live in airy-fairy land as they do, you would just keep borrowing and borrowing and borrowing à la Tory.

We, Mr. Speaker, have entered into no deals. I will not get involved in any discussion of amounts of dollars because we have done nothing with any particular amount at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

ENVIRON. - RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND: CHAIR/MEMBERS - VOLUNTARY

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. I wonder if the Minister of the Environment might confirm for me that the members and the chair of the Resource Recovery Fund are serving in a voluntary capacity?

[Page 220]

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. DONAHOE: If that is the case, Mr. Speaker, I wonder how the Minister of the Environment would reconcile that with documentation which I have in my possession, and which is in the public domain, Orders in Council, schedules and various things, including documents from the Human Resources Committee, of which I am a member, which describes the appointment of one, Elwood Dillman as Chair of the Resource Recovery Fund. It provides for Mr. Dillman to be paid as Chair, $2,500 per annum honorarium together with expenses. It provides that members are to be reimbursed for expenses incurred and it provides for members-at-large to be paid at the rate of $150 per meeting. Could the Minister of the Environment please square his answer that this is a voluntary board with the legal documentation indicating that honoraria and expenses of the kind I have described are in fact being paid to the members and the chair of that board?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I recall when I was appointed to a provincial committee by the honourable member for Halifax Citadel and he paid me a stipend for costs and expenses, but I was a volunteer member because I was employed otherwise. (Interruption)

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . he is otherwise unemployable.

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: The public really feels enlightened by that answer.

MR. DONAHOE: I am sure I will understand that when I read it in Hansard tomorrow. (Laughter) I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if I may, by way of final supplementary, again directed to the Minister of the Environment, ask him about this because it is a matter which I think is of very considerable concern and problem. The paid Chair of the Resource Recovery Fund is Mr. Elwood Dillman. Mr. Elwood Dillman when he asked this government to be appointed as chair, indicated in his resume which he filed, that he is employed, 1984 to the present, by, "Scotia Investments Limited - a diversified holding company of the Maritime based, Jodrey Family with annual publicly reported sales of over $200,000,000 and approximately 1500 employees.". He goes on to say that, "Scotia Investments Limited . . .", his employer, ". . . has major holdings in such Maritime companies as CKF Inc. . . .", which stands for Canadian Keyes Fibre Inc., ". . . Cobi Foods Inc., Minas Basin Pulp & Power Co. Ltd., Ben's Limited, Maritime Paper Products, and others.".

In his capacity as Chair of the Resource Recovery Fund, Mr. Speaker, and through you to the Minister of the Environment, Mr. Dillman chairs the board which makes the determination as to the rates at which the corrugated fibre, which is collected by the Resource Recovery Fund through this ill-conceived arrangement that the minister has implemented as of April 1st, and Mr. Dillman chairs the board which establishes the rate at which organizations such as Canadian Keyes Fibre and others will be required to pay for that product. I therefore ask the Minister of the Environment if he will not agree with me that Mr. Elwood Dillman is in a conflict of interest position. Failing that, he is certainly in an apparent conflict of interest position and I ask in light of those circumstances, if the minister will undertake today immediate steps to ensure that Mr. Dillman is removed of his responsibilities as Chair of the Resource Recovery Fund?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I would respond first of all by asking a question as to which part of the program is the ill-conceived part of the program? I wonder why the honourable member was a part of the committee that appointed Mr. Dillman to chair the first Resource Recovery Fund for Nova Scotia, when they were in power. (Interruption)

[Page 221]

Mr. Speaker, I think they probably came to the same conclusion as this minister came to, and that is you need somebody of entrepreneurial experience, with depth in that regard across the province and when you look at the RRF board, we have put people around the table who have that vast, varied experience and any one of them would be in a conflict if one were to subscribe to that philosophy. (Applause)

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. As the minister knows, last December, the Nova Scotia Business Development Corporation called for expressions of interest in the use of the Pictou Shipyards facilities. Those expressions were to be in by December 20th. On January 10th of this past year, I asked the minister the question of what the standing was in regard to the Pictou Shipyards at that time. The minister responded to me later that there were actually 11 proposals and they were going to call for business proposals to be submitted by February 29th. It is now four weeks since February 29th and I just would ask the minister to report to the Legislature and to the people of Pictou as to what progress is being made for taking over the facilities at the Pictou Shipyards?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member opposite knows, this government is committed, as is he, as are his colleagues from the other Pictou ridings, to seeing this yard sold as a going concern. We had a considerable number of expressions of interest. We have been working diligently with a few firms that are on the short list and we are doing so, literally as we speak, and we really hope that the conclusion of these negotiations will result in the sale of this yard and employment for the people of Pictou.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's answer. He didn't give me a timeframe, but he says it is now ongoing. It has been over two years since that yard closed and there are a lot of workers up there. Some of them have been fortunate to go to Trenton and get on with Greenbrier, which has been very helpful. But there are still a lot of workers in Pictou who aren't working and it is eroding the tax base of the town, as well, because there is no employer there for the workers.

I would just ask the minister to please - I know the department would like to move it along as well - but the people of Pictou would be very happy to see some announcement in the very near future as to even getting a small number of people to work in that yard.

MR. HARRISON: I don't think he was asking me a question, I think he was offering some support for the expediting of an arrangement and needless to say, when you are dealing with private sector interests and investment decisions, it does take time. Obviously we are not only interested in creating work in Pictou, but making sure that we protect the taxpayers' investment if, in fact, we are called upon to assist.

I think it is also important to note that there are 1,100 workers in Trenton now producing rail cars, some of the finest in the world. It is a great success story and it is all part of the picture in Pictou County. (Applause)

[Page 222]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

NAT. RES. - QUEENS: THOMAS RADDALL PARK - OPENING

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources, and I preface my question by saying that I congratulate the minister for taking over her new responsibilities. I know something of that department and I am sure that she, as was the case with her predecessor, will find it an absolutely fascinating department to work in, an interesting clientele to serve and all kinds of fascinating things always going on.

Mr. Speaker, my question is respecting the Thomas Raddall Provincial Park. In November 1985, the Reverend Fred Gordon conducted an independent inquiry for her now department - or its predecessor, the Department of Lands and Forests - entitled Report Regarding the Provincial Park Campground Proposal for Queens County. The report recommended siting a provincial park, including a campground, in the vicinity of Sandy Bay, Queens County, which is very close to the Shelburne County line.

The purpose of siting that park was twofold: one, to protect and preserve a unique land system; and two, to create economic opportunity for local residents, both on the western side of Queens County and the eastern side of Shelburne County. I wonder if the minister could advise me if she has a target date for the opening of this park, which is now known as Thomas Raddall Park?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I will preface my answer by thanking the member opposite for his comments regarding my appointment to the Department of Natural Resources. I have heard tremendous things about the department and the good work done by my predecessors, and my most recent predecessor, on the groundwork that has been laid, the foundation that has been laid, for me to continue on with the good things that the department does for the people of the Province of Nova Scotia. It is a pleasure to be appointed to it to carry on that work.

When the member opposite mentions the provincial parks in his riding, the Thomas Raddall Park, I can appreciate where he is coming from. The people of Nova Scotia, and I think a lot of tourists coming into Nova Scotia, enjoy the provincial park system in the province. It is my understanding that there had been about 2 million visits to the parks last summer, and most everybody in the area appreciates and enjoys travelling to our provincial parks for camping and other activities.

As the process has gone through to develop the provincial park at the Thomas Raddall area, the province has worked closely with the people in the area to develop that and it is a priority of the government, as we work through our budget considerations, to continue on with the completion of that park. I cannot give the member opposite an exact date to this date, but I will give a commitment that it will remain a priority with me. (Applause)

MR. LEEFE: I do, indeed, thank the minister for her response. In the Speech from the Throne, specific reference is made to assistance to economically depressed areas in the province, including southwest Nova Scotia. In fact, I believe it is the Premier who has established Team Southwest Nova Scotia, a number of MLAs to work towards improving the economic future of that area. I think my invitation must have been lost in the mail, I have not received mine yet, even though my constituency falls in that general area. That is neither here nor there for this minister.

[Page 223]

My question to the minister, she has stated she is prepared to make the opening of the park a priority insofar as budgetary considerations will allow. I would ask her if, in fact, because she now presumably will sit on that southwest Nova Scotia team in her capacity as Minister of Natural Resources, will she commit to ensuring that as a priority it will be considered one of the central building blocks respecting the creation of new economic opportunity for Queens and Shelburne Counties?

MRS. NORRIE: I will say I think that that group and other community groups in that area have come forward to assist government in developing economic opportunities in the area. I have been saying since I was elected that this is a very difficult time to be in government, but I have changed my mind on that.

I think that it actually is an opportunity and it is a good time to be government, because rather than come up with short-term quick fix solutions to all the problems we have in this province, we can now work with community groups, with other levels of government to find good long-term sustainable solutions to all the problems across the province (Applause). I am committed to sit with any group that wants to come forward to assist government in reaching the goals that are important to the people of this province.

MR. LEEFE: The minister has almost preempted my third question, but I will be a little more specific in the question which will give her an opportunity to be a little more specific in the response.

Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, will the minister be prepared to meet with me and, indeed, any other MLA who may have an interest in this initiative and with community organizations, especially those that are interested in local economic development -I think for example of the South Shore Tourist Association - in order to discuss the future of this park, how the government and the community might be able to cooperate with respect to moving towards - she can answer the question by herself, Don, she does not need any prompting, she is doing very well, thank you very much - in order to move the opening of this park further up on the government's agenda? Would she be prepared to do that?

MRS. NORRIE: Yes, I would give a commitment to any group that would like to meet with me on any issues that would pertain to my responsibilities. I think we must be consistent with what we are doing right across the province and all the parks in the areas. There are some good examples of how this has happened in other areas and I would give a commitment now to meet with any group, any MLAs from the area, to work with them in developing any parks or any other issues that are connected to my department. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

HEALTH: HANTS COMMUN. HOSP. - EMERGENCY SERV.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: My question is for the Minister of Health. The Hants Community Hospital is a relatively new hospital, actually it was opened in 1974 by Gerald Regan when he was Premier of the province. Presently, that hospital has been downsized considerably and the only services that are present at the hospital, medical and surgery and a 24 hour outpatient service.

[Page 224]

My question to the minister, can he give any confirmation to the people within that area serviced by the hospital, which is a large geographic area, can he give any assurance to the people within that area that the 24 hour outpatient emergency services will continue to be available at the Hants Community Hospital in the next fiscal year?

HON. RONALD STEWART: The honourable gentleman opposite frequently raises issues in terms of health care, particularly in relationship to this hospital and his community. I have always appreciated his comments and interest in that facility and health services, represented in part by that facility.

There is, as he knows and as we all know, an ongoing re-evaluation of all the services with facilities, particularly in respect to the regional health boards. I think there are some very exciting things happening in that regard. I have no information, indeed, on any change, either expected imminently or even in the long term, in relation to emergency services. In fact I see an improvement coming in regard particularly to emergency health services.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the Hants Community Hospital is a fairly large hospital. Actually it was opened with something in the order of 120 or 125 beds, something like that. It has gradually been cut back over the years. It is not all this minister's fault because it has happened over the years. It has gradually declined in the number of beds available. Now they are down to 30 beds in that hospital. I would suggest to the minister that that is about the limit; they just can't go down any further without horrendously affecting the delivery of medical service to that area.

Now the minister states that this is not within the jurisdiction of the Department of Health to make that decision. I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, however, that he has the direction of the regional boards. Surely to goodness when you grant that power to a regional board to divvy up the budget for the area represented by that regional board, some consideration must be given to these smaller community hospitals across Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would just like the minister to come right out and say, well look, the hospital is going to be there, the hospital is going to offer certain services and the regional board will do so.

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I think in the answer - very clearly we are talking about health services here, services to communities - I would reassure the honourable member, and certainly I will carry his comments back to the regional board, that there will be proper and good services and improved services in that region to which he refers.

MR. RUSSELL: That really isn't my question. The Minister of Justice moved the court system down to Kentville and he says you still have good service. Well, we haven't got good service. The Minister of Education moved out the Hants Community College and said you still have lots of opportunities. What I want is to have that hospital stay in place and operate as a hospital facility. I would like the minister to just say yes, we will do that.

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I am sure I would interpret his remarks as saying that he wants health services to be improved in his community, not that he wishes a particular facility to remain very narrow in its focus. I think the regional health board is going to take a very broad look and say we really need to improve services in his community, to which he is so committed.

[Page 225]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

JUSTICE - FAMILY VIOLENCE: FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION - FUNDING

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question through you, sir, to the Premier. This government has repeatedly said that violence in our society will not be tolerated. As a result certainly we were very optimistic and we certainly applauded this government when they announced last September the new framework for action against family violence, complete with funding.

Unfortunately, what we have now learned is that it is not really new money at all; rather, that the money is being siphoned away from Victims' Services.

My question to the Premier is quite simply this, does his government have any evidence that the number of victims of violence is dropping? If not, why did the government decide to siphon money away from Victims' Services, instead of providing additional and badly needed resources?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this is obviously a question that is better directed to the Minister of Justice since it is within his purview.

[3:45 p.m.]

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, we are providing a new program on domestic violence which includes training for Justice workers which was just concluded this week in Cape Breton at the Coast Guard College, training for trainers. The goal of that will be over the next six to nine months to train 2,000 Justice workers. More than that, we have a program to provide victim support. It is true, the money for the Victims' Services part, support for victims has come from the Victims' Services fund. We have not diminished the services for victims. We still have intact the same program that we had. The advantages that we are adding, community organizations, transition houses, to our support for the victims in the court process, I think we are getting a real advantage but we are not taking away from what we had beforehand.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the initiatives that the minister talked about are indeed very important ones. For example, the training for the Justice workers, I don't question that at all. Any assaults that can be made to bring an end to domestic violence are extremely important.

The Premier took part in that press conference that took place in September. It was very clear and obviously the intent of that press conference to imply that not only was this new program being created but that there were additional and badly needed financial resources being provided. My question to the Premier is, why did the government try to mislead Nova Scotians by implying that there were additional resources, rather than simply redirecting or you might say robbing Peter to pay Paul?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will answer this one because of the accusations of cover-up. Once again, we said at the time that $760,000 was being taken from that particular source. There was never any attempt to hide where the source of the money was. At no time did we conceal it; in fact, we said it at the very press conference. Perhaps the member was not present.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have looked at the minister's and the Premier's statements on a number of occasions and I will review them again with renewed interest.

Under the Victim Services Initiatives Program, there was $400,000 a year provided to assist with the development of local community programs and services. Under this new framework there is to be $500,000 provided but that is for an 18 month period. Over half of that money has been allocated to police initiatives. My question to the Premier is quite simply this. How does he expect community groups and organizations, those on the front lines that have been developing and delivering programs for prevention, how [Page 226]

does he expect them to be doing that as effectively when the actual total dollars that they have to deliver and develop those programs is being reduced?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will pass this over to the Minister of Justice because it relates to the nuts and bolts of a program within the responsibility of the minister.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the money is not being reduced. The Victim Services Program in the Department of Justice continues with our regional offices. In addition, the Cabinet approved I think it was $700,000, but $500,000 of which was made available to community groups and policing agencies in cooperation with community groups. This was by consultation. I can just mention some of the organizations: Chrysalis House in the Valley, covering Annapolis, Kings and Hants Counties, almost $79,000; Tearmann House in Pictou, Antigonish and Guysborough; and the Cumberland Inter-agency Committee in that particular area. In addition, on Cape Breton Island we have cooperation between transition houses and the police. The police are involved with the new regional municipality, they have a community-based policing model to help victims. In southwestern Nova Scotia that was the proposal that came forward and no others. So, we are not cutting back; in fact, we not only have the regular Victim Services funding but an additional $500,000 to help victims to reduce domestic violence. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

FIN. - MILK/CAVIAR: GST - APPLICABLE

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. As we have been hearing talk lately of harmonization between the provincial taxes and the GST, today we have in the Legislature a group representing the Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association. They brought with them some props to help make their point. They have brought small cartons of milk that under the GST are taxed in a restaurant and they brought small jars of caviar which, indeed, are not taxed under the GST. (Interruption) No, actually I didn't know what it was but there is a jar out there with your name on it and I am sure that you can take it home with you.

What I am wondering, Mr. Speaker, and I know that many others are, when harmonization comes to fore, will the child's milk carton then being sold in the restaurant receive the provincial sales tax and will the luxury tax on a tin of caviar remain tax-free?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I didn't notice the caviar as I came in, but it occurs to me, does caviar have to be refrigerated? It is still out in the hall.

There have been some very interesting discrepancies in the treatment of various foodstuffs under the GST system. We have had discussions with the restaurant association in the past and we hope to continue to have them and to do the best we can to resolve any of

[Page 227]

those discrepancies if, indeed, a new harmonized tax does come into place. But whether or not the harmonized tax comes into force and effect, we still intend to work with the restaurant association to deal with those anomalies, if you will, in the treatment of various foodstuffs.

I guess my only question to the honourable member is, to what extent would he see that it would be appropriate to tax food in the grocery stores?

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

ENVIRON.: RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND - RECYCLING CONTRACT

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to again direct my question to the honourable Minister of the Environment. In relation to the tire recycling plant, I suggested to the Minister of the Environment that a provincial interdepartmental committee did, in fact, examine both proposals, the one put forth by the Nova Scotia company and the one put forward by the Manitoba company.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the interdepartmental committee examined the collection methods, the interdepartmental committee, made up of business consultants, examined transportation mode, examined location, examined marketing and, of course, the jobs. They found that all elements of the Nova Scotia proposal were much more sound.

I am wondering if the Minister of the Environment would table the report and recommendation of the interdepartmental committee for all to view just how attractive the Mennonite-Manitoba proposal is.

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Were those two questions, Mr. Speaker, or just one question?

MR. SPEAKER: I don't know. I think it is a submission.

MR. ADAMS: He asked me to table for him the results of the findings and I will take that under advisement, Mr. Speaker.

MR. TAYLOR: That freight train is off the track right now, Rob. Mr. Speaker, I would like the Minister of the Environment to table the report and recommendation of the interdepartmental provincial committee. Also, would the Minister of the Environment table the report and recommendation of one consultant, Mr. Barry Alexander, that he made to the Resource Recovery Fund? Would he also table that report?

MR. SPEAKER: All right, we have two requests for the tabling of documents.

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will take those under advisement.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, could the Minister of the Environment tell this House and, of course, all Nova Scotians, whether or not the contract that was given to Mr. Barry Alexander, the independent consultant, was tendered?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, we will confirm with the Resource Recovery Fund and I will get the answer to him.

[Page 228]

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

HEALTH - HOSPITALS: MERGERS - METHODS

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Health. A couple of weeks ago, it came as a great surprise to a lot of Cape Bretoners when the government announced a merger of the four area hospitals. This was done by way of an OIC. My question to the minister is could he please explain why this merger could be done by an OIC when the merger of the four metro hospitals had to be done by legislation? Could he explain the difference please?

HON. RONALD STEWART: I suspect, Mr. Speaker, the honourable gentleman opposite is referring to the fact that the hospital here in Halifax was, in fact, owned and operated by the government. There were intricacies there that required legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary question? No? All right.

The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - PHYSICIANS: BILLINGS - INFO. RELEASE

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you, is for the Minister of Health. I am wondering if the Minister of Health could indicate if his department plans to release the billings for all doctors practising in the province, by name and the amount? Is the department going to, in any way, release the names and the amount of billings that any physicians have in the province? Is that going to be a practice?

HON. RONALD STEWART: No, at this moment, we don't have a policy regarding that. We do release all billing numbers and amounts.

MR. MOODY: Well, since they don't have a policy and Dr. Kogon, his were released in Amherst, I think, by his department, his actual billing, is the minister indicating to me that it may become a practice, that we are going to see his department release the billing amount by doctors, by name, in the province? Is that what he is saying?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, in the particular instance to which the honourable gentleman opposite refers, the physician questioned his particular amount that he was remunerated and we released those figures in order to confirm what our position was. This is not a common practice. We hope it would not be but these are public funds and, in this case, we felt that the matter should be clarified for the public good.

MR. MOODY: Then, is the minister telling me that it is going to be practised by the department that if a physician in any way disagrees with the department over whatever issue, that his department is then going to attack that individual's position by releasing that physician's number? Is that the practice that his department is going to follow when physicians have a disagreement with his department in the future?

DR. STEWART: No, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 229]

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

ERA - IMP PLANT (C.B.): PRESIDENT (MR. K. ROWE) - COMMITMENT

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. The government has a significant interest in IMP Aerospace; they continue to be a major shareholder. At last check, it was preferred shares of over $5 million. In view of the fact that they say that they are committed, they said so in the Throne Speech, this session committed to economic development in Cape Breton, I would like to ask the following. The president of IMP made a commitment a few months ago that the plant would stay open as long as the losses on a monthly basis keep declining. It has come to our attention that in fact, with the cooperation of the workers, losses have been declining quite significantly over the past four to five months. I would like to ask the minister, what has he done to ensure that the president of IMP, in fact, is living up to his commitment?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, officials of my department are in touch with private sector companies from time to time in this province and are definitely in touch with this particular company. The circumstances that he described, I would take under advisement in terms of not having an answer here on the floor for the question he asks. It strikes me that the workers entered into an agreement with the private sector owner of a company and attempted, in good faith, to live up to that agreement. Clearly the decision by the company was that things didn't work out. The details of that agreement I am not privy to.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the company responded to very significant community pressure to keep that plant open. They responded to pressure from the workers and from a clear commitment by those workers to do everything in their power to assist that company to continue to meet its objective, which was to reduce the losses in order to keep that facility open, which included working 48 hours a week for straight time, among other things.

Yes, the workers have now given up on Ken Rowe, as well as this minister appears to have. But they are still, as well as many members of the community, willing to take over the facility in order to keep the plant, the equipment and those jobs in the Northside in Cape Breton. I am asking the minister now, Mr. Speaker, what is he prepared, as the minister responsible, to do to assist those workers and the members of that community?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to put on the record here that the workers have attempted to do their extreme best - there is no question about that, not in this House, not on any side of this House, I would hope - to make a situation that is obviously subjected to international market forces, in terms of the aerospace industry, a success. Clearly it has not worked out in the eyes of the private sector owner, and there is a problem at the moment in terms of IMP. What we are attempting to do as a province is facilitate throughout the industry opportunities for workers who are laid off anywhere in this province, in particular in a sector that contributes so much to the economic well-being of this province.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, once again this minister fails to have an answer to deal with a very serious problem in another community in the Province of Nova Scotia. I want to ask this minister, in view of the fact that the province has over $5 million in shares in IMP Aerospace and is obviously unwilling to do anything in terms of having any influence on the management of that company, why doesn't the government unload its interests in IMP and deliver that money to community development organizations and the workers in the

[Page 230]

Northside, to assist them in ensuring that that facility will remain? And let's not forget that is the same amount of money that Ken Rowe picked up that equipment for a few short years ago.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the new leadership from the left really has a good understanding of international market forces at the moment. This government is absolutely committed to the workers of this province, they are absolutely committed to the workers at IMP, and we will do everything we can to strengthen the aerospace industry in this province. If the honourable member wants to understand how many jobs have been created in terms of Amherst, in terms of Halifax, all over the aerospace industry in this province, the fact that there is one plant set up for a specific purpose that is having a difficulty does not mean that those workers cannot find employment in this province in the aerospace sector, the very sector for which they are trained.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

ERA - WEST COL. COMMUN. DEV. AUTHORITY:

LIGHTHOUSE OWNERSHIP - TRANSFER

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. I have had some discussions with the people from the West Colchester Community Development Authority, and they are concerned about their lighthouse up there. We understand that the federal government is closing all of the lighthouses and they are being put up for sale. My understanding is that that lighthouse is assessed for $2,700. As I said, the West Colchester Community Development Authority would like to keep the lighthouse in their community.

My question to the minister is, would he, at his leisure, contact the federal minister to see about the possibility of having this lighthouse turned over to that community for a nominal price?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the question comes on a day when we introduced legislation reaffirming the strength and position of community economic development in this province. Despite the comments from the new Leader of the left that community development doesn't exist in this province, here we have an example of a problem that has to be solved by that community.

We are about 24 hours late because the honourable member for the riding of Colchester North brought this problem to my attention yesterday. We are already working with both the RDA, CORDA, and with the community group to try to arrange for a solution to the problem. That solution may, in fact, involve communication by the province with the federal government as part of obtaining what is an important piece of tourism and social infrastructure for that community.

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the member for Colchester North raised the matter with the minister and I appreciate that. But the community did contact me and I asked the minister if he would, at his earliest convenience, maybe drop a note to the federal minister. It is not a lot of money. It is a nice community and a clam digging community and it is certainly a beautiful drive down that shore and it would be nice for the province to assist them in being able to obtain that lighthouse.

[Page 231]

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, once again, this is not a contest of who is a more honourable member. Only to repeat, those very words were given to me 24 hours ago by the member for Colchester North and we are already in the process of contacting those people and attempting to solve this problem.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

FIN. - GROWTH DIVIDEND FUND: TAX RELIEF - INFO.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. On February 16th, I submitted an application for access to a record of the Province of Nova Scotia under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act. The question was very short, so I will just read it. I was inquiring as to the total amount of tax relief provided under the growth dividend in fiscal 1994-95 and for fiscal 1995-96, including a breakdown on the form and total value of the tax relief provided.

The very efficient Department of Finance came back a week later, on February 23rd, and said simply that your request for information pertaining to tax relief provided under the growth dividend fund has been received. It is not necessary to invoke the Freedom of Information Act to receive this information. We will provide this information to you within a few days. Now, that was quite a while ago, Mr. Speaker.

I was wondering if the minister could tell me and tell the House and tell all Nova Scotians today as to when I can expect to receive that information?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: If I am not mistaken, Mr. Speaker, I saw it on my desk on the way over here today. So I will check it first thing in the morning and you may even have it tomorrow.

MR. RUSSELL: Now, I suppose the minister is going to say, isn't that efficiency. Further to the subject, but not directly connected for this application, Mr. Speaker, I would ask the minister if he could affirm that the growth dividend fund is based on the total revenues that the province receives. In other words, is it based on a growth in, for instance, equalization payments? Are all these things that contribute to the revenues of the province included in the percentage that will be paid into the growth dividend fund?

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think what I would like to do, first of all, is make sure that what I saw on my desk was really what the honourable member was looking for and have an opportunity to review it before I bring it over. But all revenue is included, except prior year adjustments.

MR. RUSSELL: Well, I suppose the obvious question that must follow from that, why would prior years adjustments not be included? I mean, that is a revenue. It shows up on the books as a revenue to the province and, certainly, I would think that if you are including equalization payments, then that should be included. Could the minister advise the House as to why it is not included?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, well, I will certainly attempt to indicate that in some detail. As a matter of fact, I will be able to do that using actual figures very soon, probably even as soon as tomorrow.

[Page 232]

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

NAT. RES. - FORESTRY: HARVEST - SUSTAINABILITY

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Natural Resources a question. My question is essentially this and I am sure she is still becoming acquainted with her new department and informing herself and, probably, receiving lots of advice from the former minister.

The minister may know that the forestry in the Province of Nova Scotia, the forest resource, at least, is being harvested at a very startling, distressing and alarming rate. I am wondering if this Minister of Natural Resources plans on coming in with a proposal that will ensure the sustainability of the resource?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: The member opposite may be aware, and as I have been informed in my briefings, that the former minister has very appropriately reached out to the community, to all the stakeholders involved in forestry in this province to come forward together as a coalition to look at the forestry industry in this province to make sure that we have good proper forestry management and sustainable development.

I am looking forward to a meeting with that coalition and receiving a draft report from them on their advice to government and working with them closely to make sure that we do come forward with a sustainable development of the forestry industry in this province.

MR. TAYLOR: I certainly can only take the Minister of Natural Resources at her word and I sincerely hope that she does come through with some plan that will ensure that the resources sustains.

Mr. Speaker, through you, of course, to the Minister of Natural Resources, the minister may be aware that a considerable amount of fibre, an incredible amount of wood fibre is leaving this province on a daily basis and I have asked the previous minister on a number of occasions if he would put some mechanism in place whereby the wood fibre that leaves Nova Scotia could be monitored because the Department of Natural Resources, at the present time - I am sure the Minister of Business and Consumer Services is providing lots of advice, but I am asking the new minister questions and it is important that she does pay attention.

MR. SPEAKER: Now please, that is a gratuitous observation. Ask the question.

MR. TAYLOR: Does the minister plan on putting in a system whereby (Interruption) You are rude, Mr. Premier.

Does she plan on putting a system in place that will ensure that the wood fibre leaving this province is monitored?

MRS. NORRIE: I would ask the member opposite when addressing me, if he would address me directly and I would like to inform the member opposite that I have been given responsibility for the Department of Natural Resources. I take that job very seriously and I can assure the member opposite that I will be able to handle the job to the best of my ability without further suggestions or advice from the member opposite.

[Page 233]

I will also inform the member opposite that there are guidelines in place to measure and assess the wood fibre that is leaving the province. The province has been assured that there is a five year block of time under those guidelines and it is being monitored and we are operating within those guidelines. As I have stated earlier, we will be working with the industry to make sure that we do have a good sustainable industry here in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

AGRIC.: FARM LOAN BD. - PRIVATIZATION

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Agriculture. The Nova Scotia Farm Loan, as you know, is one of the backbones and probably the greatest strength that the farmers in Nova Scotia have in association with the Government of Nova Scotia. There is not an area, there is not a county, there is not a region in this Province of Nova Scotia that is not affected directly by the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board.

The minister is well aware of the activities of the Farm Loan Board throughout the province and throughout the great many loans that are being made. My question to the Minister of Agriculture dealing directly with the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board regards the concern that farmers have been expressing to me in days and weeks in the past few months, there is a great concern that the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board may be suddenly privatized or sold or turned over to one of the banks to operate the portfolio of loans.

I was wondering if the Minister of Agriculture could tell the House the number of loans that the board has made this year in the extent of money that has gone out, so each member of the House will understand the importance of the board and will the minister give assurance that the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board is not going to be disposed of and will remain under the direct control of the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing?

[4:15 p.m.]

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: I want to thank the honourable member for his question. He is absolutely right, the Farm Loan Board has served well the agricultural industry in Nova Scotia. The exact details that the honourable member is asking for, the exact number of loans that the Farm Loan Board has done in the given year, I don't have those numbers at my fingertips but I certainly will guarantee to the member that those numbers will be provided to him.

I wish to point out that faced with the difficulties that this government is under presently, everything under the Department of Agriculture is being reviewed under our budget. One item that has certainly received close attention by the agricultural industry is the future of the Farm Loan Board. At this stage, everything is still under review and once the budget is finalized and presented to the House, these questions will be clarified at that given time. Until then, the Farm Loan Board is still in place and continues to serve farmers across this province.

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

The honourable Premier gave me notice that he wished to raise a point of order.

The honourable Premier.

[Page 234]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, all I wanted to ask was to make sure the Leader of the Third Party does give me the information so that I can follow it up. It was not meant to be an empty gesture and I would appreciate his cooperation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Last Friday I tabled the Public Accounts of the Province of Nova Scotia. At that time in tabling them I indicated that the Supplement would be available probably by the end of this week. The more likely date according to the printers today is Monday, April 15th. So that will be another week delay.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 2.

Res. No. 2, re Sysco - Rail Contract: Loss - Statement Make - notice given Mar. 29/96 - (Mr. A. MacLeod)

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

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak today on Resolution No. 2. It states, "Therefore be it resolved that the Finance Minister, who is responsible for Sysco, make a clear and full statement respecting the $30 million contract when the Legislature meets on Monday, April 1, 1996.". This wasn't accepted but we have an opportunity today now to discuss it a little bit.

What we are talking about today is a very grave problem and there is nobody in this House who would argue with me on that point. It is a grave problem not only for the people of Cape Breton Island, not only for the people that work at Sysco, but it is a grave problem for all Nova Scotians because, after all, the Province of Nova Scotia is the main shareholder in Sysco. Again, our economy on Cape Breton Island is taking another hit and again, the people who live on Cape Breton Island are very, very concerned about the outcome of the alleged wrong that this whole issue has brought forward.

The quality of the work of the people that work at Sysco has long been noted as being one of the finest plants in North America. I would rather not have to stand here today to speak on this resolution. The people of Cape Breton have enough to cope with, with the current crises facing the Island's coal industry, its health care, the fishery, what is going on in the IMP and many, many other areas. Now we have to deal with the crisis that is facing Sysco, which has long been a major contributor to the economy of Cape Breton Island. This is brought on by allegations by the Chinese that Sysco is selling them a product that is not up to scratch.

Madam Speaker, this resolution asks that the Finance Minister, who is responsible for Sysco, who is a board member for Sysco, who is a member for Cape Breton Island, to make a clear and full statement respecting the $30 million contract. Not only did we not get the clear and full statement, we got some wishy-washy answers in the last couple of days as questions were raised about the situation there, a situation that I am told first came to light back in October 1995, when the Chinese apparently were then alleging that there was a presence of martensite in the rails.

I would have thought that the minister, many of whose constituents derive their livelihood from Sysco, would be anxious to help set the record straight and to provide as much detail as possible so that he [Page 235]

could quickly restore the confidence in Sysco's management but, more importantly, help secure the future of the families and the workers of Sysco. It is important that this industry survives on Cape Breton Island.

Madam Speaker, there are some very troubling questions being asked in light of the Chinese allegations, and that is what they are, allegations. There still certainly isn't any proof, that we are aware of anyway. It has been suggested that the inspection policies were ignored. Now the minister has stated today that there are different practices followed. I would not even question that.

I do know from my former life when I worked with the coal industry, that when we shipped product to overseas markets, there was always an inspection process in place on this side of the water, so that we knew what kind of a product we were putting in the boat before it ever left, so we could always maintain a stable relationship with our clients and deliver the product that we had agreed to deliver, within the contracts that we had.

It has been suggested, Madam Speaker, that some of the inspection policies were ignored and that the usual safeguards that are normally specified in contracts to protect the seller's interests were not included in the Sysco contract. This was a contract with the Chinese National Railway. The minister says that this was not the case. Again, I hope he is correct.

I do want the minister to prove to all the people who are involved and that this is affecting and to the workers in the mills who will end up paying the costs of failing to ensure that the proper safeguards were taken to protect Sysco against the Chinese allegations. I hope we can prove that this was not the case. The minister could start this by making a full and clear statement, supported by whatever documentation he has at his disposal, that shows that Sysco's management did not let the mill and its workers become vulnerable to these allegations, to provide the documentation to show that the contract was, indeed, a contract that looked after the best interests, not only of Sysco, not only of the workers but, indeed, of all the people in the Province of Nova Scotia.

The minister must tell Nova Scotia and he must tell the public, in particular the workers at Sysco, what impact the loss of this arbitration hearing will have on the future of Sysco. We all hope and pray that this will not be the case, indeed that this product was the quality product that we are used to shipping and that there will not be a problem with the arbitration case.

But if this does happen, does the minister know or can he confirm, will Sysco have to replace the $30 million order and absorb the full cost of that? The minister said earlier today that he refuses to speculate, but it is a question that we should know the answer to because it is a question that will have an effect on the future of Sydney Steel.

He is a board member and he is a member for an area that will be severely hard hit should this conflict not be favourably resolved in Sysco's favour. I am sure, I am convinced that the member for Cape Breton The Lakes, the Minister of Finance for the Province of Nova Scotia, is interested in finding out the extent of the liability to Sysco if the company

[Page 236]

does lose this arbitration. I would like to know how this will impact on Sysco's future. Will there be a Sysco after this arbitration, if we happen to lose? How will it affect the current deal with Minmetals, the partner that was brought in to help secure Devco's future?

Mr. Speaker, so far we have had nothing but motherhood statements and platitudes from the minister. He acknowledges that it is a very serious problem. He references four contracts with the Chinese, saying that there were no difficulties. That is good news, but I would hope that Sysco management did not casually sign its latest contract with the Chinese railroad without making sure that the appropriate safeguards were in place, based on its previous contract, and knowing that every contract is as important or more important than the last contract that was put in place.

You know, when the question was asked here and when others asked the Premier, the Premier said that we were reasonably satisfied that all the conditions that we sought were met in this contract, but yet we have not had the pleasure of seeing the contract to know if, indeed, this contract was put forward in the best interests of Sysco and, in turn, the steelworkers.

It is important, and I know the Minister of Finance, again, would agree with this, that each and every contract have the appropriate safeguards put in place and that each and every contract be signed on the merits of the information supplied for that contract, and not based on the track record that was there when they had other dealings with different suppliers and companies.

Mr. Speaker, I was surprised that the minister responsible for Sysco, the MLA for Cape Breton The Lakes and a Sysco board member, could not answer the Leader of the Opposition's questions today. It seems to suggest that he is not sure, on his part, if he has thoroughly investigated this incident. I am hoping that with each day that passes the minister is not letting this slip and that he is trying to stay on top of it, because this is something which is very important to all people on Cape Breton Island.

Other things aside, regardless of what each of our political persuasions may be, what our main and most important focus should be is providing safe and secure employment for the people of the Province of Nova Scotia. That should be our first goal.

He has known about the Chinese action for some time; according to what I have been told, board members and management have heard about this since last October. That would have given the minister time to find out the important issues that had to be addressed and the things that were in place. I hope that the minister is, indeed, looking for those answers. I am sure that the minister would have asked the same questions that I am asking here today, because I do truly believe that the minister has the interest of Sydney Steel at heart and that he wants this project to be successful.

These are some of the questions that the unions have been asking, that management have been asking, the citizens of the Province of Nova Scotia have been asking and we have been asking here in the House. I really believe, Mr. Speaker, that the people deserve some answers. This is not a simple problem and there are not simple answers, but I do know that it is not a problem that can be addressed by sweeping it under the carpet and leaving things go. If we do not address this problem quickly, directly, head on and qualify that the products that are produced by the steelworkers of Cape Breton, the steelworkers of Nova Scotia, are indeed a quality product and we have an obligation, as members of this House, to do what we can to make sure that the future of Sysco is stabilized and that the people who are working in that industry, people who are working for a Crown Corporation that belongs to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, indeed have a future. Thank you. (Applause)

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

[Page 237]

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: First, let me thank the honourable member for Cape Breton West for bringing this topic to the floor of the House of Assembly. It is a very important topic. Sysco is important to the province generally, not just to Cape Breton Island. The challenge that we face as owners and trustees for that corporation, owners and trustees on behalf of the entire population of Nova Scotia, is a very daunting one. I don't think there is another responsibility I have had since I became a member of the Executive Council which has been as challenging for me. It is a nagging challenge and one that yields promise at times and, at other times, yields great difficulty.

Now I feel constrained and I will do this as gently as I can, but I feel constrained to go back in history a little bit to preface some of my comments because I think you have to understand where we were as a government when we first took over the responsibility for Sydney Steel. Because if you want to understand how we have got to where we are now, you have to know where we started from.

Mr. Speaker, on June 11, 1993, when we came into office, we found a corporation in very serious difficulty, immediate difficulty, almost terminal difficulty; a company that had had its debt just not many months before that absorbed by the province to the extent, I think, of almost $800 million. That was taken off. However, by the time we came into office, that company had run up an additional debt approaching $200 million. The Premier of the time, Premier Cameron, had indicated that there was no more public money available for it. He had done that publicly, he did it here in the House of Assembly, and, in fact, Sysco had exhausted its line of credit.

So we had a company that had exhausted its line of credit, had run up an additional $200 million debt, where the Premier had indicated there were no more funds available, as a matter of fact some time before that, engineered a sale of the tar ponds, I believe, and the coke ovens from Sysco to the province to inject a little more in. Well, that was gone and there was no more. Its pension fund which should have been funded around $100 million was funded at only 50 per cent. I think there was approximately $52 million in the pension fund, underfunded by $48 million at that point in time, June 11th.

That pension fund could not have paid a pension to the steelworkers when they became eligible for it. (Interruption) It couldn't have because the proper contributions were not put in by the former government, simple as that. So we were in a desperate situation. The first thing I understood, when I came into office, that the former government had hired a company to go out into the world to find a buyer at a cost to the public of hundreds of thousands of dollars. So I called them and I said, listen, do you mind coming into my office, I would like to talk to you. I see where we have been paying you hundreds of thousands of dollars. So they came, and I said, do you have a buyer. They said, no. I said, do you have any leads. Essentially, they said no. The only thing they had was a bill.

So, here we were, a company out of money, exhausted what was another $200 million debt, a pension fund that was funded at just barely over 50 per cent, on the edge, literally weeks away from closing, and no prospects of sale. What was even more disturbing when you

[Page 238]

looked at it, where was the plan? In the face of this situation, where was the former government's plan for the survival of Sydney Steel? It didn't exist, at least it didn't exist anywhere that I saw it. I went through all the files. I asked. There was no plan. It was termination, presumably. So it was a pretty difficult situation.

Now I know that the member for Cape Breton West wasn't involved in the government at that time but he should understand, that is what the starting point was. When we talk about it today, that is not 100 years ago, that is June 11, 1993.

So we looked for a way to do two things; we looked for a way to cap the public liability because it was getting to the point that $800 million had been taken out of the public books just a few months before; another $200 million was outstanding, all guaranteed by the province. We were haemorrhaging and our entire program of government was at risk. So we had to stop that, we had to cap the liability. But in doing that we had to give Sysco a chance to live, a chance to survive, a chance to succeed. We had to give the steelworkers a chance to prove that they could compete with anybody in the world. There was no chance on June 11, 1993; there was no plan giving them any of those things.

Well, we fixed the pension plan. We entered a deal which capped the public liability, it was with Minmetals. Let me just gently chide the member, I don't think that it serves anybody's purpose to keep referring to the Chinese. We have Minmetals, who are our partners in this deal, and we have the China Rail Company. They are not the same, this is not a categoric statement, they are different parties.

We entered an agreement with Minmetals. That agreement provided a cap for our liability as a province and it also provided for a three year window for Sydney Steel to prove that it could be viable and competitive with the world.

Now that started on January 1, 1995. For the first six months Sysco continued to lose money. It was a matter of some concern and I will tell you, it kept me awake more than one night. Sysco continued to lose money. Then there was a turning point and for the last six months Sysco made money - not a lot of money, just about this much money but it did make money. Now this year we face a new challenge.

If there is one thing I have learned, and I say this with all sincerity to the honourable member for Cape Breton West because I believe he is seriously and honestly interested in the future of Sydney Steel, the steel plant cannot be managed from the floor of the House of Assembly, and there is nobody in this House who is qualified to manage it. If there is, I would ask him to submit a resume and we will keep it on file. The honourable member for Cape Breton West is not capable of managing that steel plant nor am I. I am not a steel professional.

So we started this joint venture with the three years. There have been some upsides and some downsides but I will tell you, in the last six months we made a few dollars. That was a good sign.

There as some other good signs, too. On productivity, in the first six months of 1995 the melt shop was producing about what they called seven heats, seven melts in the run of a day. That means that seven times you put the scrap into the furnace, go through the whole process and run off the product. We could do that only seven times a day.

[Page 239]

By the end of that year, this immediate year past, the production had gone up so that we were doing 12 heats a day. Then you started getting into the range where this plant can make money. So production has improved. Not to say that there haven't been production problems and continue to be production problems; not to say that the level at which the plant is now operating will assure it a long-term future. That issue is still in doubt. I wish I could tell you otherwise but that issue is still in doubt. I think the steelworkers and management are up to the challenge.

Sydney Steel has a pretty reliable market for about 250,000 tons of product. That is product that they can sell to customers year after year at a decent price. The best part of that product line, now Sysco enjoys about 80 per cent of the domestic rail market, CN, CP and some other rail operations. That is a good market because we can count on it every year, they pay us a decent price for it. We have a long-term relationship and that is part of that 250,000. We have cultivated some other product lines so we pretty well have a solid component. However, to maximize the operation of that plant you have to go beyond the 250,000 ton product line. One of two things happen, if you are doing rail you get into bidding on what I would almost call, spot market. In other words that there are tenders whether it be in Malawi, Spain, China, South America, wherever, done on the international market where a market becomes available and Sysco goes into competition with other steel companies around the world and we win our share of those. None of them come without some risk. This is not the repeat type of business that we do with CN.

The other way you can increase that 250,000 ton limit is to enter into new product areas that perhaps you haven't done before and there is a risk in that too. First of all you are not sure about what you are making. You may be making it for the first time. You are not sure about your customer. You are not sure what the repeat business is. You are not sure what the learning curve is. All of those things make it uncertain. Once you go beyond that 250,000 ton limit, you are into some level of uncertainty. That is no different at Sydney Steel than it is at any other corporation in the world that is a large industrial operation.

Specifically, with the contract and indeed the difficulty that we have had with the last China rail shipment, we have signed five deals with that customer and we have shipped five orders. I am informed by management that the other four orders were shipped under similar contract conditions and went without difficulty. I am assured by management that the quality of these rails and performance, verified by independent testing in China, indicate that they meet all performance standards, indeed, exceed all performance standards.

There have been occasions in the past where rails have been tested before they leave the plant. Some customers do that, some others do not. I am going to get the information from Sysco management for the honourable Leader of the Opposition who asked us to go back a certain time and tell which orders did, which orders didn't and so on. In point of fact, we, as a large commercial corporation, Sysco, have run into a difficulty with one of our customers. It is not unprecedented, it is not even unprecedented for Sysco, these things happen. We hope we can work our way through it. There is a provision for arbitration which we take very seriously but before we go through any arbitration, we are going to use every office we can both at the government level and at the Sysco management level to achieve a degree of settlement with our customer because this is a customer we want to keep and supply in the future.

I think that we have to be very careful in this situation. I am the Minister responsible for the Sydney Steel Corporation Act. I am not going to speculate on a dispute which is involving Sydney Steel and one of its customers and which is actively being pursued at the

[Page 240]

moment. I am not going to speculate on the floor of the Assembly about what may happen if. I can only tell you that I have received all reasonable assurances from the Sysco management both with respect to the quality of the rail and the procedure they adopted. I accept those assurances and I indicate to the honourable member that we will try to the best of our ability as soon as possible to clear up this very significant difficulty that we have run into with the last batch of rails.

Sydney Steel's future is not going to be settled one way or another on the basis of this rail order. Sydney Steel's future is going to be settled by the ability to produce effectively, efficiently, in a cost-competitive way with the world.

[4:45 p.m.]

We think that is possible. We remain optimistic that it is possible, but that is what will determine whether or not Sydney Steel is operating successfully in Sydney, Nova Scotia 10 or 20 years from now, not this contract dispute. I think there are good signs. I think there are reasons to be optimistic, but I think there are difficulties and I do not mean to minimize any of them. We will work on it. We will proceed, hopefully, with both the workers and management working together for that success and, in the meantime, I do not think it is useful, productive or wise to manage the operation from the House of Assembly floor. (Applause)

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, just to start where the Minister responsible for Sysco concluded, where he tried to suggest that the floor of the House of Assembly is not the place to manage Sysco. Clearly, we would all agree to that, I think, but, at the same time, the Province of Nova Scotia is very much involved in the success or failure of this corporation. The taxpayers have considerable dollars invested in Sysco and the interest of all Nova Scotians in the future and the hopes of all Nova Scotians of a profitable future for Sysco, I think, is paramount.

Madam Speaker, we must have the opportunity here in this House to raise questions with the minister responsible and with this government on how, in fact, they are carrying forward with the deal that was signed back in the fall of 1994 and which was surrounded with such fanfare. I take you back, briefly, if I may, to that November day when the minister responsible in this House read this statement and it included the following. He said, "As most Nova Scotians know, this sale has been the subject of protracted negotiations between the Province and the Chinese steel maker. This week, Premier Savage led those negotiations to a successful conclusion. The Premier, through his presence and persistence, provided the push needed to make the deal happen.". The statement goes on. "Mr. Speaker, today some 700 workers at Sysco have new hope for a future in steel making. The economic outlook for Sydney and industrial Cape Breton is a little brighter. And, today Nova Scotians are beginning the process of getting out of the steel business, and closing a long and often sad chapter of public ownership.".

Madam Speaker, there were many of us in this House and throughout the Province of Nova Scotia, including the steelworkers and others, who were raising significant concerns with the minister responsible and with this government about how, in fact, negotiations were being carried out with Minmetals and the fact that the negotiations were shrouded in secrecy. Even though the steelworkers union was able to provide some very significant, reputable, technical advice, were able to rely on consultants that they themselves retained who had a long history in the steel industry in North America, they were excluded from dealing with and bringing their concerns to light and having those issues addressed during those negotiations.

We were extremely concerned because, as we have said on many occasions with Devco, if you want to know something about the coal industry and how coal is mined, you talk to miners. You talk to the people that do the work. It is the same thing with this industry, the steel industry, and it is the same with so many other industries, Madam Speaker. That that is such a valuable and important resource that too many governments and too many employers dismiss that when that is done there is always a significant gap and always holes in any agreement that may come out the other end because of it.

[Page 241]

This deal, the concern was at that time and the concern remains that that deal may, in fact, mean the end of the steel industry in Nova Scotia after the three year period, after one further year. It is something that all Nova Scotians should be deeply concerned about. Concerns that were raised by the union back then remain today, in fact, pertain very much to the specifics of the problems that have now arisen with respect to this particular shipment.

The union raised four major areas that they suggested the deal failed to address. It dealt with commitments on shipments to China, the fact that Sysco was limiting itself to other markets, was restricting itself to making sales simply to China. It dealt with investment in additional head-hardening capability in the plant that was essential in order to ensure that additional products would be able to be developed, strategy to develop new non-rail products and a suitable cost reduction plan.

Those issues were not dealt with in the deal and I would suggest that the steelworkers and many others have come to the conclusion that as a result of overlooking those issues, we are in the kind of problem scenario we are into now. One wonders who was negotiating on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia, because experts in fields of export will tell you that you ensure the product is inspected here in this plant before it is shipped off to the purchaser. You do not allow the product to go out of sight before, in fact, a decision is made with respect to confirming the quality of that particular product.

Secondly, you do not engage in and agree to an arbitration process, as we appear to have, that takes place in China, in the country of origin of the major player, in this case, the China Rail Company. In fact, we have heard in reports over the past few weeks since concerns over the quality of this rail order have been raised that, in fact, the very arbitration process itself being held in China may be prohibitive to the Province of Nova Scotia because of the cost involved. If that, in fact, is the case, why did we agree to it? Why did the government bind itself to that kind of a deal? It is not that other companies in this province and in this country have not dealt with companies from China, whether it is rail cars or whether it is wheat. This country deals with that country and will continue to do so, perhaps with some reservations from some.

Nonetheless, the concern is that the Province of Nova Scotia and the minister and his government were so focused on trying to unload Sysco, trying to dig out for political reasons their responsibility for resolving the problems there and for putting Sysco on a viable footing, that they overlooked many parts of this agreement and, therefore, were unable to protect adequately the interests of the Province of Nova Scotia.

We continue to hear the same things come out of that plant that we have heard for so many years and that we hear at Devco. Why is it that the same management practices are allowed to continue? Why is it that Sysco is restricting its export potential, Madam Speaker?

[Page 242]

One has to ask why it is that we have reached the situation with respect to this controversy with the China Rail Company, when Minmetals with 50 per cent ownership and 5 out of 9 persons on the board have not expressed dissatisfaction with management. What have they been doing with respect to their participation on the board? The question, I think, has to be asked. Are they looking out for the interests of Sysco in the completion of these deals with the China Rail Company or any other company in China, or is there some other pressure at work which is affecting the ability of that board and the participants of that board to make decisions in the best interests of Sysco?

There continues to be serious questions asked about how that facility is being managed. The union continues to argue that were it allowed to have some participation in decision making with respect to how workers organize at that plant, that they would be able to significantly reduce the costs of manufacturing. But they continue to be shut out in their efforts to make positive changes, Madam Speaker, to that operation and the result is that decisions are being made that are not in the best interests of that facility.

What do we know about the interests of the Province of Nova Scotia? How are our interests in terms of our investment in that plant being protected? The minister responsible is a member of that board, Madam Speaker. What is happening there? What is he doing to affect the management of that facility? Is he, in fact, participating, as we would all hope, in trying to ensure that this partnership between the Province of Nova Scotia and Minmetals ensures that there is long-term viability on behalf of that facility?

Unfortunately, we are losing our confidence and perhaps the biggest problem is that the veil of silence over that operation continues. As things begin to develop there - and this is the first instance and there have been others - there are significant questions that have to be answered in terms of the way that facility is being operated because the question has to be asked, in whose interests are these decisions being made?

The minister suggested a few moments ago that, in fact, the future of Sysco is not dependent on this rail order. But, Madam Speaker, is this rail order not an indication of things to come and, perhaps more importantly, what is to prevent Minmetals for continuing - or the purchaser in this case, the China Rail Company - for ensuring, in fact, that the losses continue to escalate to the point where the deal has ended, to the point negotiated by the Province of Nova Scotia and Minmetals to where the deal has ended and Minmetals would be completely free and able to pick up that equipment and ship it off to its home country. There is absolutely no evidence that this minister or his officials have, in fact, a handle on what is happening with that facility.

[5:00 p.m.]

We would argue that it is time that the minister and this government and the MLAs involved would ensure that information is provided to the community, would ensure that the steelworkers are involved in trying to analyze the problems, in trying to find solutions to those problems before all Nova Scotians, and in particular the steelworkers and Cape Bretoners, wake up one day and find that the deal is off.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I would like to share some observations relative to this particular contract which was executed by Sydney Steel Corporation and a company called China National Technical and Export Corporation.

[Page 243]

I was struck by the fact that the Minister of Finance, who is a member of the board of directors of Sysco, said at least two or three times, if not more frequently, in his remarks, that Sysco cannot be managed by those of us, meaning those of us here in the Legislature, and he included the member for Cape Breton West, indeed, he included himself and, by implication, included me. Well, I accept that. But it appears to me that by saying what he said, the suggestion is being made by the Minister of Finance, board member of Sysco, that it is somehow therefore inappropriate or out of order or not really very smart that we should even have the opportunity here on the floor of the Legislature to put questions to the Minister of Finance relative to the doings of Sysco. That certainly is the impression that he leaves.

He is a member of the board of directors. I suggest to you that in the course of my remarks in relation to this matter that it is clear that this Minister of Finance has failed miserably in his responsibility as a member of the board of directors to understand what was going on with this contract, to take care that certain elements of the contract executed by Sysco should not have been executed, but they were, and that as a consequence of certain of the elements of this contract, Sysco, industrial Cape Breton and the taxpayers of all of Nova Scotia are now in a jeopardy position which, without that contract and with greater care with that contract, they would not have been.

Madam Speaker, the situation is essentially this; there was a contract executed between Sysco and China National Technical and Export Corporation. China National Technical and Export Corporation ordered $30 million worth of rails from Sysco. The rails were produced at Sysco and they were shipped to China. Interestingly enough, in this instance, unlike previous practice and the member of the board gave us no answer as to why this was the case, there was not an inspection as had been the normal course of process on prior contracts, why they were not inspected before leaving Sydney, as had been the practice. The rails were produced at Sysco and they were shipped by Sydney and Sysco was, in fact, paid $30 million for those rails.

I think it is worth note, Madam Speaker, that in the contract with Sysco the Chinese -and the minister didn't mention this at all and the minister is a member of the board and the minister would be aware, more to the point, the minister owes a duty to be aware - insisted in connection with this particular contract, on the inclusion of a special provision requiring that the rails in this order be completely perlite, and that is a technical term. A rail is perlite when it is ductile, that means it will bend without breaking.

Now upon delivery of the rail order in question to China, the Chinese inspection authorities examined the rail there. They discovered, Madam Speaker, that there is what is called martensite in the rails. Martensite is a condition in steel rail which is used to describe a situation where generally a rail has been cooled too quickly and the section of the rail in question is very hard but it is very brittle and prone to breakage. My understanding is that the Chinese inspection authorities conducted extensive photographic analysis of the rails to support their contention that martensite was in fact present.

So the Chinese, having paid the money, having received the rails, having discovered the martensite, then started sending reports to Sysco as far back as October 1995 and they were in those reports alleging the presence of martensite. I understand, Madam Speaker, and I heard no mention of this from the Minister of Finance, that Sysco's response upon hearing these reports from the Chinese customer, was essentially that we, Sysco, don't admit the presence of martensite, but in any event the rails are serviceable.

[Page 244]

Now, the Chinese, in fact, put two alternatives to Sysco, as I understand it, to rectify the problem. The first was that the rails could be reheated and the problem corrected and, of course, that would have been undoubtedly a multimillion dollar piece of business and it could have been done either in China or by returning the rails to Sydney. The second position or proposition or option to resolve this issue put by the Chinese was that in the event the first option was not pursued, the rails could be or should be replaced by Sysco.

Now the difficulty we have here, and it is a product of the agreement, every line of which, in my opinion, the Minister of Finance should have been aware, under Chinese domestic law, the authorities upon finding a defect such as was being alleged in this case, have the right to order that the rails are either repaired, destroyed or are sent back to the manufacturer. The key here is that the Chinese law simply does not allow those rails to be used. So in January of this year, just a couple of months ago, the Chinese customer repeated their demands containing the above conditions to Sysco. In February of this year, Madam Speaker, Sysco agreed. Here is another issue which I think the Minister of Finance - he made no mention of it - and if he knew of it, I suggest to him that he should have objected vigorously to allowing Sysco ever to undertake this kind of a commitment because in February 1996, just a few months ago, Sysco agreed to post letters of guarantee, naming the Royal Bank of Canada.

The language of those letters of guarantee undertaken by Sysco was such as to make it possible for the Chinese, in order to call on the letters of guarantee, simply to write a letter to the Royal Bank of Canada and claim that the product was defective and specifying the defect. It should be noted in relation to those letters of guarantee that even if upon those letters being written, even if Sysco objected to the claim by the Chinese, the transmission of the letters described to the Royal Bank would have been sufficient to obligate the Royal Bank to make the payment to the Chinese. It is my understanding that these letters of guarantee were in the amount of approximately $3 million and they were completely open-ended.

So Sysco responded then by initiating an action against the Chinese and that action was commenced really to provide Sysco with a cause of action in relation to which they could attempt to carry a simultaneous ex parte application for the injunction to forestall the payment of this $3 million by the Royal Bank. In the action commenced by Sysco, they alleged the Chinese had conducted themselves in such a manner as to constitute - and in their pleadings they used this language - "in bad faith amounting to fraud". So Sysco now has a relationship with its customer in which it is alleging fraud.

It should, I think, be pointed out too that the reason, of course, for the allegation of fraud is that was the only way in which the bank could be stopped from honouring the letters of guarantee. So an ex parte application for the injunction was heard by Mr. Justice Merlin Nunn of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia and he rejected all allegations of fraud. Mr. Nunn stayed the Nova Scotia action commenced by Sysco. He dissolved the injunction, and because there was another very interesting clause in the agreement, a clause which, if I may so, the Minister of Finance should not have allowed to be put in the agreement, there was a clause in the agreement which ordered that the dispute between the parties be remitted to arbitration in China. That was the locus of the arbitration specifically set out in the contract between Sysco and the Chinese. Judge Nunn's decision releases the $3 million covered by the letters of guarantee to the Chinese.

The fact is, notwithstanding that the Minister of Finance here today said that management is telling him they are trying now to do everything they can to rectify things as between Sysco and Sysco's customer, the fact is that the arbitration process has in fact already been commenced in China. The Chair of the Chinese Arbitration Authority has been appointed and the parties to the action, Sysco and the Chinese customer, China National Technical and Export Corporation, have been asked to name their nominee. So we are into that arbitration process.

I suggest, while I acknowledge it is not possible for us to handle the day to day management or work out the day to day management of Sysco here on the floor of the Legislature, that I agree with Minister of Finance, but I certainly do not agree with him if, by saying that, he suggests that it is inappropriate that the taxpayers of Nova Scotia should not really be bothered with what is going on with Sysco. What is the point [Page 245]

of having a Minister of the Crown, a member of that board and responsible to this House and through this House to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, if we do not get some answers to some of the questions as to what, in fact, is going on?

In fact, there were, in my opinion, mistakes made by the management of Sysco; first of all, in agreeing to the completely pearlitic clause in the agreement and secondly, agreeing to what, in effect, was an open-ended letter of guarantee. Sysco surely and the Minister of Finance surely should have insisted that the letter of guarantee could only be enforced or called upon the completion of an arbitration process.

Additionally, my information is that Sysco was certainly not as aggressive as the Minister of Finance might have us believe in attempting to effect, through professional management practices, the pursuit of a settlement of this dispute. In fact, I am told that it does not even appear that Sysco suggested, once the dispute arose, contrary to what the Minister of Finance suggests to us here in the House today, that an independent expert be called to make his or her judgment or assessment of the steel shipped to Sysco to test the veracity or validity of the martensite allegation being made by the Chinese.

The demand against the letter of guarantee was made by the Chinese on February 14th requesting payment on or before February 29th and the ex parte injunction application by Sysco was made in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court on February 26th. That is the factual situation. I agree, as I said, that it is not realistic for us to be thinking that we can resolve the day to day or handle the day to day management of the doings of Sysco here on the floor of the Legislature.

If, again I say, by suggesting or making those comments that the Minister of Finance would ask us and, through us, ask the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, please do not worry me with questions about the management of Sysco because that is not really going to be handled on the floor of the Legislature, then I think he is dead wrong and he knows better. Where else are the taxpayers of the Province of Nova Scotia going to have an opportunity to find out what really might happen?

Do you know what might happen and, as I conclude, what might happen? The matter is a $30 million contract; $3 million has already been paid on the letters of guarantee. The Chinese customer has purchased something like $10 million worth of rail from another customer. Those rails are now being used to attempt to do the contract which was intended to be done in China with the Sysco rails.

It is conceivable now, under the laws of the international arbitration which will apply in the Chinese arbitration, it is now conceivable that that arbitration tribunal - God forbid that it will do this - but it is now possible that Sysco and through Sysco the taxpayers of Nova Scotia face the possibility of being told, first of all, that they are not getting back their $3

[Page 246]

million on the letters of guarantee; they are going to be ordered to return to the Chinese customer the $30 million already paid to Sysco.

It is conceivable that Sysco, God forbid, could be ordered to pay any additional amount now, including the $10 million of rail already purchased by the Chinese from another source, to pay that $10 million and it is conceivable that the arbitration tribunal could order that any other number of million of dollars required by the Chinese to complete the project which should have been done with Sysco rail should in fact be on the account of Sysco and that price tag, too, could face Sysco.

[5:15 p.m.]

I trust that none of that will happen, but it is, quite frankly if I may say so, to the management at Sysco, to the workers at Sysco, to the residents of industrial Cape Breton, to every single taxpayer in the Province of Nova Scotia, it is offensive in the extreme for the Minister of Finance to stand up and blithely suggest and admonish those of us on the Opposition benches that this really isn't the place for us to be discussing the management of Sysco. If that is the case, why doesn't he tender his resignation as a member of the board - he is now reacting to that, he might be delighted to do that - what is the point of having our Minister of Finance a member of the board of Sysco if for no other reason than to afford us, the representatives of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, an opportunity to ask periodically what is going on a Sysco?

I suggest, as I close, that what we have seen here is that in this instance at least, and I restrict it to this instance, the Minister of Finance, the watchdog for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, was asleep at the switch when this contract was made. He has given no indication today that he is going to pursue aggressively a resolution which will ensure that the taxpayers of Nova Scotia are not really hosed as a result of this transaction. Thank you. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 55.

Res. No. 55, re Fin. - Tax: Definition - Clear - notice given Apr. 1/96 - (Mr. R. Russell)

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise this afternoon and speak on Resolution No. 55. The resolution was presented by my honourable colleague for Hants West, the honourable Ronald Russell. The resolution is very appropriate and, in fact, the resolution is so good I would like to again read it into the record.

It reads, "Whereas the Liberal Government's April Fool's Day attempt to fool Nova Scotians into believing the 10 cent deposit on beverage containers is anything but a tax is foolhardy; and

Whereas Nova Scotians today start paying tax on groceries to pay for yet another ill thought out Liberal tax grab; and

[Page 247]

Whereas the Liberals, who promised no new taxes, now disguise them as user fees and resource recovery funds as they blithely rifle through the pockets of taxpayers at every opportunity;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government finally get the message that a tax is a tax is a tax is a tax and Nova Scotians will have the last laugh on this Liberal Government's April foolery.".

I have had an opportunity during Question Period to ask the Minister of the Environment some questions relative to a tire recycling plant that is going to set up in the Province of Nova Scotia. The minister announced back in November that a ban was coming in place relative to scrapping tires and sending them off to our landfill. Scrapped tires, used tires, were to be banned from going to our landfills come April 1, 1996. Because that plan that was put together by the Minister of the Environment was so under par, because it was so ill-conceived and poorly put together, the Minister of the Environment had to extend the ban until the end of November, 1996, I believe.

The minister knows full well today, when he received his 54 expressions of interest that seven of those business proposals stood out. There were seven business proposals that were very sound. Subsequently, the seven business plans were reduced to two. The Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works had different members of their staff sit on a provincial interdepartmental committee. That committee, after hours and days of arduous labour, came to the conclusion, Madam Speaker, (Interruption) Yes it was arduous labour, those people worked extremely hard and it was very tedious. I am sure that many of us without the expertise, and I certainly don't profess to be a business consultant, I don't know about the member for Hants East, but I would think that the task of coming to a conclusion and to who should be the successful proponent to build a tire recycling plant in this province was very difficult but, nonetheless, the committee, after a lot of work, reached the conclusion that the Nova Scotia proponent, Atlantic Rubber Recyclers in Truro, Nova Scotia was hands down the contractor of choice. That was the conclusion. That was the determination that a provincial committee came to.

The Nova Scotian, Madam Speaker, because he was encouraged, because he was advised by the Department of the Environment and the Economic Renewal Agency, he went out and purchased part of the infrastructure to put the tire recycling plant in place. He did not bring in the big plant that essentially crumbs the rubber, but the elements of the system were put in place, including collection. In partnership with another individual, they bought a number of big trailers that will hold the tires and they had a collection system put in place and they realized that Truro certainly is the hub of this province and, for transportation benefits and, of course, for cost considerations, it was deemed to be very advantageous to set up a tire recycling plant in the Town in Truro, or at least in Lower Truro, very close.

Now, what happened from the time the interdepartmental committee gave the recommendation to the Minister of the Environment and the time the Resource Recovery Fund, in consultation and concert and cooperation with the Minister of the Environment, that a Manitoba-based company was given that job. What happened? What went wrong? Is it possible that the Minister of the Environment asked the Resource Recovery Fund to hire, to engage a private consultant to study the interdepartmental recommendation, Madam Speaker?

[Page 248]

I am telling the truth, Madam Speaker, as I know it. The fact of the matter is, the Resource Recovery Fund (Interruption). The government should listen to this because a Nova Scotian, an entrepreneur who has over 17 years of sound financial background and if you want to examine his financial statements, I am sure he is very willing to produce them and I think that is something more than we can say for this other proponent. But, nonetheless, the Resource Recovery Fund engaged a private consultant, Barry Alexander, to study a government study. So what we had was an independent consultant studying a study that was already completed. It took the government, as I said, hours and days to do the study. (Interruption)

Madam Speaker, I believe it is imperative that the minister table both proposals, because not only do we have a thirst tax now in place in Nova Scotia, we are also going to have a tire tax. The Minister of the Economic Renewal Agency knows full well that the provincial committee and members of his department recommended the Nova Scotian and I would ask the minister to stand up and deny that if it is not the truth. You know full well that is the truth. (Interruption) It is not hypothetical at all. It is very much the truth.

Madam Speaker, somewhere along the way this government has committed a very serious error. The state of affairs behind this, in closing remarks, I am calling on the Minister of the Environment for this province, Nova Scotia, to come clean and table all the reports and recommendations relative to a tire recycling plant being established in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Madam Speaker, I have never suggested that there was anything political involved. I feel that it is more along the lines of incompetency than perhaps political.

Now the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, although he may tell us differently, I believe is frustrated that the Minister of the Environment came to this decision through the Resource Recovery Fund. I have no reason to believe otherwise because his department's people recommended that Nova Scotia's be given this contract. It wasn't and that is a sham and that is a shame and it has been botched. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of the Environment.

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Madam Speaker, I am delighted to have this opportunity to respond to the resolution put forward by the member for Hants West and reiterated today by the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

If I look at that resolution and look at some of the messages I have on my desk, Madam Speaker, I have to say that I don't believe that Nova Scotians would appreciate being called fools by members of the Official Opposition. We all know that April 1st is an exercise of carrying on as April fools but there is nothing foolish or foolhardy in the presentation of our Waste Management Program that came into effect on that day. It was my announcement in November that yielded some 500 letters of support for the waste management strategy.

AN HON. MEMBER: Table it.

MR. ADAMS: I will. That included the return deposit program, Madam Speaker.

I recognize that there is probably some tomfoolery in the writing of this resolution when I see that a "10 cent deposit on beverage containers is anything but a tax is foolhardy.". I would say, Madam Speaker, it complies with the proposal which the former government was putting together. They joined with the forces that are behind the present lobby in Nova Scotia, they joined with the Coca-Colas and the Pepsis and they lived up to Pepsi's and Coca-Cola's commitment for high deposit rates on containers.

It was our administration, Madam Speaker, that chose not to buckle down to the corporate giants of Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola. We set our own deposit rate, a rate that would return to the Province of Nova Scotia the opportunity for jobs and for a clean environment, a better environment. We were committed to meet the national standard, to reduce our waste stream by some 50 per cent by the year 2000. We are not [Page 249]

the first in there but we are going to be on top very soon, if we comply with the waste management strategy, which, by the way, is receiving applause, not only from this province but from other provinces in this country.

We are going to stand firm to make sure that we do have a sustainable environment that will support a sustainable economy. They both go hand in hand. When I hear of people calling up and thanking us for the opportunities for jobs - there may have been 11 phone calls thanking us for the jobs at the enviro-depots - then I would hardly think that they are responding to an April fool's joke, to say thanks for the jobs. That is not a joke, that is reality. We have had calls this morning. Madam Speaker, if I might digress for a minute, some people should be careful what they ask for. The honourable member for Hants West has asked whether there were phone calls this morning. Well, yes, we heard from the dairies this morning. They wanted to make sure that this member knows how to count to 10. There are 10 sip packs in the bag, 10. They don't make them bigger. They used to make them smaller, they used to do eight, but they are now 10, and 10 is the bag that the deposit is applied to. (Interruptions)

Madam Speaker, I know the volume of discussion is rather high but I do want to get back to the lobby that is behind the misinformation that is confusing a great number of our citizens in the province. Ironically, we find that the Opposition is playing into their hands and using the same lingo. It is unfortunate because there is nothing worse than misinformation to people when they want to know the facts and the realities.

[5:30 p.m.]

When I look at the legacy, if you will, of Coca-Cola and Pepsi in the Province of Nova Scotia, that indeed were so environmentally concerned, so economically concerned with the well-being of Nova Scotia, they pulled up stakes and left this province. In 1975, there were 13 soft drink bottling plants in Nova Scotia. They employed 334. They pulled up stakes and left, leaving only three bottling plants in this province, which are independent, employing 87. That is a minus factor, Madam Speaker.

So why would a former government that claims to have been working for the best interests of Nova Scotians to develop the economy and protect the environment, coalesce with these kind of people who pulled up stakes under their administration, left the province, some 334 jobs, no concern for the environment, no concern for the economy and now, today, they are paying for ads on the radio, newspaper and television to tell Nova Scotians there is a thirst tax in place. (Interruptions) That is the legacy and that is the current situation. (Interruptions)

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ADAMS: The solid waste management is an environmental basic and I do believe that Nova Scotians are looking forward to the full results of our environmental waste management strategy. It is absolutely essential that we stop messing up and fouling up our

[Page 250]

land and polluting our groundwater and throwing away things that are of value. What we used to call garbage are, indeed, valuable resources. (Interruption)

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you ever hear of the blue bag campaign?

MR. ADAMS: Now he has asked another question I am going to nail him on, Madam Speaker. He has asked about the blue bag campaign. Won't he be disappointed to know that municipalities in this province, as of today and yesterday, are announcing they are going to be becoming involved with blue bag programs in the rural areas to complement and co-exist with our deposit refund system. (Applause)

If I might, Madam Speaker, refer to the experience of other jurisdictions related to what we are talking about here, and I am glad the member introduced the blue bag question. Experience, both in Nova Scotia and elsewhere, has shown that deposit refund systems are indeed compatible with municipal recycling programs. Provinces such as British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and New Brunswick, and now us, currently have combined systems, albeit in Nova Scotia we have two regions, Lunenburg and Halifax. In provinces such as British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec, curbside recycling programs were implemented after the introduction of deposit refund programs. A combination of the two systems results in greater waste diversion and recovery of resources, which are turned into jobs.

Madam Speaker, when members opposite attack the whole philosophy of this, they really are attacking jobs. What they are really saying to Nova Scotia is, we really do not want you to have jobs that are generated through the environment. They do not believe in environmental industries or environmental technologies. Well, I want to say that if they do not believe in it, they are in the last century because from my exposure last week at the Globe '96 Environmental Trade Fair and Convention, there are prospects and predictions that environmental industries will indeed be the number two industry in this country and indeed, North America, in the next 10 years or so.

Environmental industries are producing jobs, they are providing jobs. Waste is now a resource and those people will be able to pay taxes, Madam Speaker, he is hung up on tax. He will learn later on that ministers other than the Minister of Finance do not have the authority to tax or to collect tax. But, Madam Speaker, the concern that has been expressed with the implementation of the deposit refund system will result in lost revenue to municipalities through the loss of high value aluminum and plastic beverage containers.

Let me state that the municipal recycling facilities have been given status as non-public enviro-depots under the deposit refund system. That is for beverage containers that are returned through curbside recycling programs, blue bags, the municipality will be able to redeem the beverage container and receive the five cents.

In addition, as an enviro-depot, they will also receive 2.5 cents handling fee for each beverage container for a total of 7.5 cents per container. This extra revenue will more than offset any projected losses or speculated losses or rumoured losses, due to implementation of the deposit refund system. Also, in the cases of Halifax, Lunenburg, Colchester and Cumberland, their processing plants will be regional processing centres for the system. (Applause) They will be paid additional monies by the Resource Recovery Fund to provide that service to their citizens.

[Page 251]

I am proud at this point in my life to be the Minister of the Environment which implements a bold, adventurous step in protecting the environment of Nova Scotia of producing new sources of economic revenue, and we have done it. What has been talked about as a dime is 10 cents with 5 cents refundable on the non-refillable containers, full deposit return on the refillable ones. Had Pepsi and Coke stayed in the province, produced refillable bottles with a full 10 cent refundable, it would have been applied to more Nova Scotians.

I want to say that we have done it with a dime, not 40 cents, and we are proud of the legacy we will leave behind versus the legacy which tripped and fell before us.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: I, too, welcome the opportunity to take part in the debate this afternoon. The minister said that he is very proud to be the Minister of the Environment and I would have to say that I would probably be very proud some day to be it as well; something I probably never will be. That having been said, I cannot say that if I ever held that portfolio that I would be prepared, or so foolish to stand up to say that I am proud of the kind of measures that this minister and this government are introducing.

I do not fully support, I must admit, the resolution that is before us, particularly the resolve. The reason why I do not is that it is not providing some concrete alternatives, because there are some and the minister knows that. If the minister had followed the advice that was given to him by for his department, the report entitled, "The Environmental Impact, Review and Summary of Beverage Containers", if he had followed the advice of that report that was under the leadership of Mr. Martin Janowitz, then we would have a program in place in the Province of Nova Scotia that was far superior to that which this minister and this government is introducing.

There is no question, call it what you will, play whatever word games you want, this is a tax. The minister's ad campaign was quite extensive. You could not turn on the television for many days, or flip through a newspaper, without seeing copies of the minister's and this government's ad. There were so many of them that it was very obvious that this minister and this government knew that the program, the scheme that they were initiating was going to be a very hard sell. The minister did turn around - I will say in fairness to the mover of the resolution - the words in the resolution by saying that the Opposition called the people of the province a fool. No, the resolution did not say that; it said that this government will not fool Nova Scotians. Very different. Very different. The fools are the government, if the government thinks that it can trick Nova Scotians into believing that this tax is not a tax.

There is no question that this tax is going to create a hardship for many Nova Scotians. We have in this province many families, many what the government likes to refer to in their Speech from the Throne as workaday Nova Scotians, whom this tax is going to hurt and hurt directly. Cans of juice which are actually on the national food guide are now being taxed by this government with the 10 cent deposit fee.

There are many who will have difficulty being able to store the containers - as has been pointed out by previous speakers - in their apartments, in their small homes. If you take a look at where the few environmental depots are located, where these products can be returned, especially in the large rural areas, it is going to be an extreme hardship, if not an impossibility for many of those residents to return those containers to get their 5 cent deposit returned.

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The minister talked about how municipalities are going to support this. Well, I have no doubt that many of them will, especially those in the areas where the depots are spread so far apart because they are counting and this government is counting on people not returning, not being able or willing to save up those containers to return them. They are counting on that so that more of that 10 cent fee will actually show up in one government coffer or another, no question about it.

The minister talks about the jobs that are being created and in his remarks he chastised the former government because he pointed out quite correctly that in the mid-1970s there were 11 businesses or industries in Nova Scotia that were bottling pop. These businesses were employing, and I can't remember the exact number, I didn't catch it but in excess of 340.

The former government deserves to be criticized for not enforcing their own environmental regulations that had required, although they were never enforced, that at least 50 per cent of beverage containers in a store had to be reusable, refillable containers. Had that been enforced and had the government used the more environmentally friendly option here of banning non-refillable, non-reusable containers, then more of those bottling industries would once more have started up because of the transportation costs of transporting those reusable, refillable containers back to a bottling plant. We would have been moving back toward the situation which existed 20 years ago in the mid-1970s here in Nova Scotia when we had well over 300 people employed, instead of dropping down to the three that we have at the present time. Instead, this minister, who acknowledged by his own remarks on the floor tonight in criticizing the former government that that is a reality, the minister and his government have done zero to try to rectify that problem.

My office is receiving a lot of calls from people who are angry about this deposit system. One of the things that I have heard which disturbs me is that people are starting to say, well, if you are going to do this to us there is no sense in our taking part in curbside recycling programs. In New Brunswick, the experience is and the minister knows this that when this scheme was introduced in New Brunswick, the use of curbside recycling by residents declined. There is a concern that that same kind of backlash can happen here in Nova Scotia.

The minister talks about Lunenburg and I had the pleasure of touring that facility as well, the compost and recycling facility. It is an excellent facility and an excellent operation. It is the kind of thing that we should be doing all over, it should be mandated to be removing all of these items and products because resources are not waste as we have treated them for far too long. The way that the government is addressing the problem is foolhardy.

There is no question that this tax and the way it is being imposed is going to impose an additional financial and personnel hardship on many small businesses. Yes, the Sobeys of this world may be able to have the computer experts come in and redesign their computer systems and have the personnel to do the bookkeeping, but many of these very small businesses cannot. All of the schools in this province, with juice machines which are having to now pay to have those machines altered, and somehow have to figure out how to store those empty containers and also knowing that those little children have to bring in that extra dime which is a problem for many of them, Madam Speaker.

[Page 253]

[5:45 p.m.]

This government seems to be following the worst advice it can get it. It is taking its own advice. If this government was truly committed to doing the utmost for protecting the environment and having a sustainable and a common sense process, it would have taken the advice of the committee that it struck to advise it on this matter, a committee that gave it some good solid advice that it chose to ignore.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, I have been receiving advice from the minister. (Laughter)

AN HON. MEMBER: Hope he listens.

MR. RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, I would like to start off by saying I think there is an old adage that the Premier should have every minister in his Cabinet put up on the wall, and that is, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. It seems that in this government, anything that is working well or even working in a fashion that is accomplishing the end result, perhaps not very smoothly but at least is getting to the end, should be left alone or adjusted. But in this government, what they do is they rip everything apart and try to build a brand new system.

Madam Speaker, we had in this province a recycling program. It was called the blue box or the blue bag - or whatever you want to call it - which was working quite well, thank you very much. Now the minister has said that this program of his is going to divert material from landfills. In fact, I believe the figure is 50 per cent by the year 2000 of the present material going to a landfill will be diverted.

That is fine. I have no argument with that, that is great, wonderful. But the problem is that he has imposed a tax on a material that only makes up 2 per cent, if it all goes to the landfill. It wasn't all going to the landfill because everybody realized that a coke can was aluminum and was worth something. They realized that they could put their plastics out in the blue bag. They could put their glass bottles out there, et cetera.

That program was working, it was working well, and it was assisting municipalities to maintain that service to their people. It was growing. More and more people were saying, well, this is a good idea, I think I will start putting out blue bags, as well. It was working fine.

AN HON. MEMBER: They should have expanded the program around the province.

MR. RUSSELL: They did, indeed they did. Now the minister has come along and he has said, well, we are going to take the cream of what was going into the blue bags and we are going to divert that to support an organization, the Resource Recovery Board and the Resource Recovery Fund, in order to solve a problem that is virtually non-existent. It is virtually non-existent.

At the present time, as I understand it, Madam Speaker, at least 50 per cent of what is covered by this 10 cent tax was already going into recyclables so that this tax, if it works the way the minister says it will work, will take out another 1 per cent from the landfills. But what is the cost to Nova Scotian taxpayers? It is something in the order of $16 million to $17 million per year.

Now perhaps it doesn't affect me too much because I don't drink all that much pop. But, however, families with children are certainly going to be affected. Families with children that every day send their kids to school with one of those little tetra packs of juice or some other container of beverage are going to be paying 10 cents per pack.

Now as I pointed out, I think, during Question Period to the minister today, who is following this debate with great interest, on a tetra box, which is worth about 20 cents, Madam Speaker, you are going to [Page 254]

pay 10 cents tax on that box. That represents a 50 per cent increase in the cost of that particular box for the child to take to school. If you have four kids it would be four times 10, 40 cents a day for your four children to take the packs to school.

Now, Madam Speaker, the minister would say, but they can bring them back and take them to the enviro-depot. Well, first of all, if they take them to school, I understand - and I don't know if this is factual or not but I have certainly heard it second-hand from people who are phoning me - I have been informed that at schools now they are saying you leave your recyclables at the school and they are going to go into a fund for the benefit of the school, which is fine, too. However, that is not helping the poor beleaguered parent who every day has to go out and make a purchase of a beverage for the child. (Interruptions)

What is the fund going to be used for, says the Minister of Transportation. Heaven only knows. When this government gets itself a few extra bucks they find all kinds of ways not to spend it. They can set up a fund for this and for that and then when an election comes along, we can be out there with the paving crews and doing all kinds of things.

Madam Speaker, the recycling of cardboard and the banning of that material from landfills is a wonderful idea, there is nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, in Hants West they have already done that, they did it about six months ago. The banning of taking car batteries out to landfills is a good idea. It has been in place for a long time. The banning of tires from landfills is a good idea, and I understand that comes into effect later on this year. But there are a lot of people out there in the country who are wondering exactly how this tire recycling or diversion is going to work. In other words, are the consumers going to have to pay a tax up-front every time they buy a tire, of $5.00 or so? That is one of the stories we heard.

Secondly, although we generate only about 600,000, I believe it is, used tires per year in this province, there are another 200,000 tires which are not used tires per se but are rejects from the Michelin tire factories that we have here, 200,000 tires every year that are rejected by the inspector and that go into landfill. However, you will find that the tire companies, rather than sending them to a municipal landfill, because they wish to stop those tires going into use across the country, they go into their own individual landfill.

If indeed the minister is going to pile on a tax - I don't know which minister it is, whether it is the Minister of the Environment or the Minister of Finance - are we going to be charging Michelin $1 million per annum to send their tires off to a recycling plant? Is Michelin going to permit their tires to go up to some recycling plant where perhaps they can be sold not as scrap but be put into the system as rejects from Michelin? Michelin has a very careful and very onerous inspection system. Any small blemish on the tire is reason for rejection. The tires may, to all intents and purposes, appear to be perfectly serviceable but, in fact, they are rejected tires.

I have a problem, Madam Speaker, that evidently the minister hasn't heard about yet because when I asked him about this question in Question Period today, he said he had not

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received any calls from small corner stores. There is a real problem with corner stores that have to carry another 25 per cent cost on their inventory on pop and juices, et cetera, than what they had to previously. For that they are not compensated whatsoever.

You don't get money for nothing, Madam Speaker. A corner store or Sobeys or any store is going to have to have money in the bank to cover the cost of inventory or else they are going to have to borrow it. That costs money and corner stores can't afford it, not in that amount. This is a large amount that we are talking about. For instance, on, say, $500 worth of inventory of pop it is going to be something in the order of $125 additional inventory that they have to carry that is not going to reap them any reward.

Madam Speaker, I just wish that the minister would sit down and reconsider. The idea is good but his direction is wrong, he hasn't thought this through. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, that is the end of Opposition Members' Business for today.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, we will be sitting tomorrow from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Following Question Period we will resume debate on Resolution No. 34.

I move that we adjourn until 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is that we adjourn until 11:00 a.m. tomorrow. We stand adjourned.

We have reached the moment of interruption and the resolution for the Adjournment debate is:

"Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the refreshing change from the policies of previous governments on the part of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, for following through on a government commitment to ensure that highway maintenance and repair funds are allocated on an equitable basis.".

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.: HWY. MAINTENANCE - EQUITABLE

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Madam Speaker, today the resolution that we put forward is one that perhaps is not exciting in terms of creating a great deal of interest and excitement in the newspaper but I must tell you that when one speaks of highways and road construction and maintenance and repair of the highways in Nova Scotia it is a very important subject. It is important to me.

I just wish to run through the resolution as it has been presented, ". . . that this House recognize the refreshing change from the policies of previous governments . . . that highway maintenance and repair funds are allocated on . . ." a needs basis.

The first thing I would like to address, Madam Speaker, is that when I reference highway maintenance and repair funds, I am not speaking about what many people consider the main point of [Page 256]

highways, that is new road construction, not even repaving. That is not what I am referencing. I am talking about maintenance and repair.

When we think of that in the rural areas we think of whether the snowplow gets by and whether salt is put on our highways. We consider whether the potholes are being filled diligently; we consider whether or not brush cutting on the sides of the roads is being followed, shouldering, and most importantly in this type of weather, whether there is adequate ditching that will keep the roads drained properly and safe for the motorists of Nova Scotia.

Madam Speaker, for many years the people of Hants East and people of other constituencies in a similar position were clearly suffering a disadvantage, in terms of the amount of effort put in by the Department of Transportation, through the amount of work crews that were allocated, to the amount of dollars that were allocated, we were suffering a clear disadvantage.

It wasn't something that was an opinion, it wasn't something that those who were from one riding differed from those who were from another. I can tell you, Madam Speaker, that in my constituency in Hants East, as compared to the constituencies that surrounded me in Hants West, constituencies in Colchester South and constituencies at that time in the Musquodoboit Valley, not only were my people aware of the difference in treatment but all the constituents of those ridings were also aware. It was a going joke, everyone knew it, it was not just my constituents. Those in Windsor, those in Middle, those in Stewiacke knew darned well that if you happened to live in those areas, you got the snowplow first, you got the salting first, you got the ditching first; you got it first, compared to those who lived in my area.

Everyone agreed that you could tell when you drove down the highway, as soon as you left my district you could close your eyes and you would then feel the difference in the paving, not new construction, just fill in the potholes. The ice would be twice as bad, for years, no one even disputed it. It even got so bad at the end of the previous government's term that the members that represented the districts that were taking an inordinately high share admitted it themselves in hopes that they would be re-elected because the people would say, my Heavens, look how he cheated for us and if we don't re-elect him, well, we will lose that advantage. That didn't work for the people of Nova Scotia last time because people get tired of it.

[6:00 p.m.]

Now let's look and see what is happening today. How do they decide, for instance, on a matter of repaving? How is it that the Department of Transportation comes to the conclusion as to which road should be repaved as opposed to which other road, how do we follow it? Well, let's look at the policies set forward by this government when it first got in office. The first thing it did was it set up four regions across this province, regions that were headed by professional engineers that were expert in their field. They took it out of the hands of either elected politicians or low level bureaucrats that had their - I have got to interrupt

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myself here for a second because I have got to tell you, there is only one thing worse than a political patronage type of person. The only thing worse than a political patronage type of person is a bureaucratic patronage type of person and they are all over the place.

It is improving, we are improving it but they are all over the place. All you had to do is watch the television the first year after the last election. You had a number of people and superintendents running around saying, yes, I got picked because of my politics and I have done everything to help the road that I live on and I am darned well proud of it. I saw it on the television in my own county. You mean you would admit this and be proud of it? I can tell you how angry that makes a lot of other people who don't have a job on the Department of Transportation and don't live on a road that is kind of looked after just a touch better because the superintendent knows them. It may not be just political patronage, it is bureaucratic patronage.

I want to tell the honourable members of the House, those from urban areas and all the people of Nova Scotia who may not know how this system works. You have got four regions out there. They are all headed by professional, independent people. The four directors are asked to rank. They rank a list and there are two types, there is the 100-Series Highways and there are those that are not the 100-Series Highways. They base it on three types of breakdown: traffic volume, I think we all understand what traffic volume is; pavement condition ratings, how many holes are in the highways, how many cracks are in the highways, we can understand that; and a riding comfort index which I found a little confusing at first and wanted to check out what exactly that is. It is a measure of the roughness of the riding surface.

There is a method of calculating this, both for the 100-Series Highways and the non-100-Series Highways and it is done independently and it is rated and numbers are used. At the end you come up with a number and that is how you are rated. It doesn't say Number 12 (it is somebody I like), it doesn't say Number 18 (the guy that lives there votes for my Party), it doesn't say Number 6 (well, the superintendent has got relatives on that road), it doesn't say that. It is rated and not within a riding even because that is where it can get kind of twisted, not within a riding of say, my district of 20,000 people, they don't say excuse me, we are going to break down the roads in the riding, it is within the whole region, one-quarter of the Province of Nova Scotia and it is done fairly. Selection of repaving projects are based on a priority list developed within those groupings and based upon the funding available.

I want to say one other thing about this issue because I have been around people all my working career and I think I get a feel for them, at least in the rural areas. People aren't looking to get so much more. What they are looking for is to get their fair share, that is the test. If the pie is this big, as long as people are getting their fair share of the pie, then the people are satisfied with what is being delivered to them and satisfied by the government that represents them. Their fair share of the pie, that is the test. I can tell you when people look over and they notice that if you dropped your bicycle on the side of the road 10 years ago, boomo, it could have been paved over if it was the wrong road. If you left your jacket there, you could have lost it by repaving. I saw it in my district. I saw them paving over across the river, they were paving up this hill to nowhere. I mentioned it before. Over in Hants West one time, they took a petition out, the people on the road, and asked them, would you not pave it please? They did it anyway. Can you believe this? I saw it. No one has ever proved me wrong on this. I have the back-up, if anyone wants to test me.

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I am getting near the end of my time, I suspect. I want to mention a couple of minor things that I think the people of Nova Scotia should know. The people of Nova Scotia should know this: that in the days when we have to balance this budget and cut dollars where they are wasted, if you analyze the Department of Transportation and Public Works and see pound for pound the buck that is being delivered and the amount of satisfaction that is being delivered to the people of Nova Scotia compared to the dollars that we have to work with in this province, I would say pound for pound this has to be one of the most effective departments not only this government but any government has ever seen. I would say the only test for it, the only way it works is fairness. That is what we ran on, that is what we are delivering and I think it is about time the people of Nova Scotia happen to see that we can deliver pound for pound better than anyone else did, with less bucks and more satisfaction. I thank you for the opportunity to say it.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to get up and speak on this resolution brought forth by the well known member from Hants East, and the gambling czar of Nova Scotia really. "Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the refreshing change from the policies of previous governments on the part of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, for following through on a government commitment to ensure that highway maintenance and repair funds are allocated on an equitable basis.". Well, if only it were true.

The honourable member for Hants East would have you believe that we have a minister and a government that have nothing but the best interests of all Nova Scotians at heart. This is an interesting subject for debate. The member indicated that it was a refreshing change, the commitment to ensure. Well look, let us remember that in 1993, we had a Premier-in-waiting who was running around the province and speaking to all groups, and press releases and all those sort of things you do when there is an election campaign.

In 1993, the government said that within six months of forming a government, a three year secondary road maintenance plan would be publicly tabled. It is 33 months later and what do we have? We have forced amalgamation in metro, forced amalgamation in Cape Breton and now we have what you call the J-Class roads, the Jolly roads, all over the province. We did not hear a thing about them in 1993 and we are still waiting for this three year secondary road maintenance plan. I remember the Premier talking about measuring the thickness of the pavement, the depth of the ruts, he was really going to get out there and check this asphalt. It was a political issue at the time. Well, 33 months later, he forgot.

The Liberals also said that when they became government they were going to develop and implement a comprehensive pavement condition measurement criteria.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Would the honourable member, perhaps because he was minister just prior to that election in 1993 for several months, please tell us what criteria, what formula he used to determine where the $400,000 slush fund, special maintenance fund it was called, what formula was used that only ended up in each one of the Cabinet Minister's ridings?

MR. ARCHIBALD: You keep amazing yourself with this information that the minister dreams up. I don't know that there was ever a $400,000 slush fund. I don't believe for a moment there was. This minister is more frequent now, (Interruption) the minister is most interested in slush funds due to he and his Party's familiarity with slush funds. In fact, this

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week we are presently debating a $23 million slush fund. So the minister certainly knows about slush funds.

Now, there was a special maintenance program in each constituency of about $50,000 and each and every superintendent of highways had discretion on spending. That was so when an emergency arose, he would certainly (Interruption) no, as a politician you don't expect that you would. As a politician I never took part in any discussions. When an emergency came up, when a new culvert had to be installed when one was washed away, when a storm damage came up and they needed immediate, well the superintendent had the opportunity to be there and look after and it was in each and every riding. (Interruption)

Well, you hear the members grouse and complain. Look, I thought it would be interesting, Madam Speaker, just to remind the members of the fairness of government. (Interruption) Cumberland South, well look, they will not let me talk. When I was Minister of Transportation for nine months, I think the first visit I had was from a member of the Opposition. That member came into the office and said, I would like to meet with you and the deputy minister to discuss the road work in my constituency for next year and I said, okay, come ahead.

I might have been naive and I might have been silly, Madam Speaker, but you know, that is the way the government operated. Members of both sides of the House went to the minister and said, look, and I think you would be considered negligent if you were a member of the Legislature and there was a road in your constituency that was in bad condition and you did not raise it with the Minister of Transportation. I think you would be negligent.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, it was their fault.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Cumberland South. From 1988 to 1992, there was a member of the Opposition sitting there, $25 million, Dartmouth North, $10 million; Digby-Annapolis, $17 million; Hants East, now the member would have you think that he was cut off at the knees with no money, $8 million was spent in that constituency between 1988 and 1992; Kings North had a grand total of $10 million spent, almost as much as Kings South, $13 million. It goes on; Richmond County, $9.8 million was spent by the Department of Transportation in the years 1988-1992.

Now the Minister of Transportation would perhaps have you believe nothing was done. Well, I remember discussing with the minister a cement bridge that had to be built. Now the tender went out for that bridge and the tender was recalled after the government changed because the minister has put in a higher bridge so that larger boats can go underneath in the water.

HON. RICHARD MANN: On a point of order, Madam Speaker, nothing was built for that bridge while the member was the minister and that is not hard to prove. In fact, the project was put on hold when I got in the department, at the request of the minister beside it. I would also tell you that the $9 million expenditure in Richmond County for the four year period happened to be two plow sheds, one of which burned to the ground and had to be replaced and another one put up in Isle Madame because of environmental problems.

MR. ARCHIBALD: The exaggeration of the minister when you tell him exactly what is going on. (Interruption) There is no point in even carrying on a discussion because they do not believe. Their eyes, their ears are closed. (Interruption)

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Do you see why there is such a problem? Now the Minister of Transportation and Public Works got into the office and he said, look, things are going to be different, they are going to be better. I am hiring a consultant and I am going to pay him $200,000 to tell me how to run the department . . .

[6:15 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: $131,000.

MR. ARCHIBALD: $131,000. Well, the minister followed to the letter, I am sure, every recommendation they made. (Interruption) One of the interesting things that the minister neglects to tell you, time and again, is the opportunities that he has let go. He would like to blame me, I am sure, for the installation of the tolls in Cumberland County. He is proud of those and remember the Minister of Natural Resources, when he was in here one time, he said if his grandmother had had wheels, she would have been a bus. Well, I think if his grandmother had had a quarter, she would have been a toll booth because he has been in love with toll booths ever since they disappeared on the causeway.

Look, roads are a priority in Nova Scotia. The Liberals said they would create a needs-based road matrix. Again, where is this matrix? We haven't seen the matrix. Look at the highway work done by the former government in Opposition member ridings. I will stand proudly, and all members of the former government would, because we do not see that same fairness throughout Nova Scotia.

One of the ministers of the government, currently, when he was talking to me about the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia fund that was sent down here from Ottawa to alleviate the lack of the transfers for transportation subsidy, said, stop raising that. I want my share in my constituency of that money and I am going to darned well get it. Now does that sound to you like a matrix? It sounds to me like old-fashioned Liberal pork barrel politics. My time is up. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, as I begin my remarks I can't help but think it is a good thing that nobody in here has the name of Pinocchio. With all due respect to my friend, the member for Kings North, his version of history and my version of history as being one of those as well from an Opposition riding, from Sackville - and although I always called it Sackville-Beaverbank, the official name was Sackville - and I would have to say that I think in all due fairness and all due honesty, it is being very creative to suggest that things were as wonderful as they were then.

Now one of the things if I may, Madam Speaker, and I want to say as I am casting some, I think, more accurate reflection on the realities under the former government, I can't say that I am totally convinced, unfortunately, that things are necessarily as wonderful as the member for Hants East would have us imply and that we have now such a great and sweeping, refreshing change, having swept over the land and that all monies are now being allocated on a strictly needs basis and tops priority.

If that were the case, I will just use but one example and that is, why was it that one of the very first things that this government decided to do was to redirect some $26 million away from the badly needed improvement of the Highway No. 104 project to the Fleur-de-lis Trail that runs through the minister's own riding? (Interruption)

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Now, Madam Speaker, the member for Hants East is saying, well that is not maintenance and repair. That has to do with new work and new construction. Well, new work and new construction often can be viewed as a repair because what you are trying to do is repair an extremely dangerous situation that exists. I would classify, when we are taking a look and we are trying to cast this wonderful image impression about what a great job and what a wonderful change it is under this new government, that you have to look at the full picture.

I agree totally with what the member for Hants East was saying and that is that what people in this province want and what they expect is fairness. People in this province are reasonable people. They know that monies are limited, that they are finite, that you cannot do in any given year, or even necessarily in a couple of years, all those badly needed projects that have to be done.

The roads in this province are in bad repair. It is just going out and sticking a band-aid on it, in terms of putting a patch over the top of some of the asphalt where it is broken up and has cracked and potholes and so on are developing; that is not solving the problem. We are in need of some major structural repair to the road infrastructure of this province, to be able to get at the underpinnings, the subsurface. Unless we do that proper repair work now, many of those roads which have not yet reached that situation, we are going to find ourselves in the situation where we are actually going to have to dig them up as well to put down a new bed.

I have heard of situations where, as a result of this province's decision to follow through with something that the Tories had planned before, and that was to get rid of the inspection branch out at Miller Lake which used to have the department checking the asphalt and so on that is placed on the roads to ensure that it is now up to scratch, I have now been hearing of situations since they have privatized that, that in at least one situation a new road that was rebuilt, the subsurface was replaced just a little over a year ago because of the poor quality of the asphalt that was put on top, that that road is now going to have to be redone again because the asphalt was not up to standards. (Interruptions)

Madam Speaker, there is no question that there were, and I have engaged in battles in my constituency and have had to engage in public battles to obtain badly needed repair work. I can think of the times when the former government was in place that I had to contact the media on a regular basis, to try to get them out to cover accidents that were occurring at the intersection of the Beaverbank Connector and the Old Sackville Road. Even though it was a known problem, where numerous accidents were occurring, the government would not act. It was only after constant public harassment that they finally did agree to do that.

It is amazing, when I compared the work, and through freedom of information I got the amount of work that was being done in the riding of the former Minister of Transportation, and compared that to the non-existent promises for work in my riding, immediately next door, only after I got that information, Madam Speaker, and presented that and told the department that I was going to be taking this directly to the media, lo and behold, I got a commitment and the streets that had been on the waiting list for 15 waiting for pavement got done.

Madam Speaker, you represent much of what used to be the Bedford-Musquodoboit Valley constituency and had the benefit of having that Minister of Transportation know that you, in your riding, have some very nice sidewalks in many parts of your constituency . . .

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MADAM SPEAKER: Paid for by area rates, of course.

MR. HOLM: Yes, partly paid for by area rates, Madam Speaker, 20 per cent paid for by area rates and 80 per cent paid for by the province. And in the constituency of Sackville . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: The municipality cost-sharing.

MR. HOLM: Cost-sharing, that is correct, which is now gone. But in the constituency of Sackville we had to fight long and hard to try to get any of that. Unfortunately, since we didn't have a minister, not even all members of the former government were able to get that kind of treatment, Madam Speaker, because if you didn't happen to be the minister or a senior Cabinet member, you often didn't get that work done.

The point is that 80 per cent of the costs were paid for by the province. That chance was not provided in many other parts of the province where there is a great need, was then and still remains a great need for those sidewalks.

Madam Speaker, I would love to see a listing of where, around this province, Transportation dollars have been spent. I am not talking about the 100-Series Highways because those serve all Nova Scotians. I would like to see a listing of the dollars that are spent in terms of maintenance, upgrading, repaving, ditching and so on, for each and every constituency in this province where the province cost-shares.

I would also like to see, Madam Speaker, those and the minister talks about the matrix system and yes, indeed, I have received a copy of that. It was about two years late in coming, but I did get it. But I would like to see a copy of the assessments that have been done by those professional staff and how that rating system is actually being carried out. Because, indeed, I believe that the job should be left to the professionals to decide and yes, indeed, it is also the responsibility of elected representatives to make sure when concerns that are brought to their attention are brought to the attention of the professional staff so that they can be addressed. We must do that. That is what we are elected to do.

Nova Scotians do not expect every one of those problems to be handled and solved immediately. But if they can be provided with a schedule where they are shown where they sit and why they sit at a particular level on that timeframe and, Madam Speaker, if they can be seen and be shown that on a reasonable rating system, that their work will be completed in, whether it is one year or two years or whatever, that they are prepared to accept. What they are not prepared to accept is pork barrel politics where, depending upon the political Party that you represent, the needs are going to be addressed. Because I do not care where you happen to live in the Province of Nova Scotia, people are fair minded. People, whether you live in the metropolitan area, whether you live in the South Shore, whether you live in Cape Breton, they want to believe that their government will treat all of the citizens in this province in a fair manner and that where there are identifiable needs, safety concerns, that those needs will be actually addressed in a fair and an appropriate manner. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The time for the Adjournment debate has now expired.

We stand adjourned until 11:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

[The House rose at 6:30 p.m.]

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NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

HOUSE ORDER NO. 1

By: Mr. Donald McInnes (Pictou West)

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

(1) An annual breakdown of provincial funding for the Hector Centre in Pictou for the 1993-94, 1994-95 and 1995-96 fiscal years as well as the release of the 1996-97 budget funding to be allocated for the new fiscal year.