Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Mon., Dec. 2, 1996

Fourth Session

MONDAY, DECEMBER 2, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Oppose, Dr. J. Hamm 2661
Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Oppose, Mr. R. Chisholm 2662
Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Whites Lake Residents - Oppose,
Dr. J. Hamm 2662
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of Acadia University Foundation, Hon. R. Harrison 2662
Anl. Rept. of Dalhousie University Foundation, Hon. R. Harrison ~ 2662 Anl. Rept. of Nova Scotia
Agricultural College Foundation,
Hon. R. Harrison 2662
Anl. Rept. of St. Francis Xavier University Foundation, Hon. R. Harrison 2662
Anl. Rept. of Saint Mary's University Foundation, Hon. R. Harrison 2662
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 922, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Mandate - Seek,
Dr. J. Hamm 2663
Res. 923, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Yuletide Season -
Tax Title Change, Mr. R. Chisholm 2663
Res. 924, Health - World AIDS Day: Sufferers - Assistance Encourage,
The Premier 2664
Vote - Affirmative 2665
Res. 925, Christmas Daddies Telethon (ATV): Pledges Honour -
Encourage, Mr. K. MacAskill 2665
Vote - Affirmative 2665
Res. 926, Atlantic Jewish Council - Commun. Serv. Award:
Philip Riteman (Bedford) - Congrats., Mrs. F. Cosman 2665
Vote - Affirmative 2666
Res. 927, Justice - Gasoline: Pricing - Legislation Introduce,
Dr. J. Hamm 2666
Res. 928, Lun. Co. - Jim Pittman: Commun. Contributions - Recognize,
Mrs. L. O'Connor 2667
Vote - Affirmative 2667
Res. 929, Rules of the House (Amendment-Extended Sitting Hours):
Res. No. 921 (29/11/96) - Rescind, Mr. T. Donahoe 2667
Res. 930, Health - C.B. Reg. Hosp.: Inquiry Public Res. No. 904 (29/11/96) -
Implement, Mr. G. Archibald 2668
Res. 931, Rules of the House (Amendment-Extended Sitting Hours) -
Res. 921 (29/11/96): Gov't. (PC [N.S. 1978-1990]) -
Emulation Condemn, Mr. J. Holm 2669
Res. 932, Gov't. (N.S. [PC 1978-1993]): Fin. Mess - Remember,
Mr. R. Hubbard 2669
Res. 933, Exco: Democracy - Restore, Mr. B. Taylor 2670
Res. 934, ERA - Quivsol: Sterile Solutions Manufacture - Commend,
Mr. G. Fogarty 2670
Res. 935, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Questions - Answer,
Mr. R. Russell 2671
Res. 936, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Destroy, Ms. E. O'Connell 2672
Res. 937, Sackville-Cobequid MLA - Hfx. Metro Chamber of Commerce -
Characterization False - Apologize, Mr. B. Holland 2672
Res. 938, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Law. Amdts. Hearings -
Full Ensure, Mr. J. Leefe 2673
Res. 939, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Rules of the House -
Amendment Defer, Mr. T. Donahoe 2674
Res. 940, Health - Environmental Hypersensitive Coalition: Advice -
Follow, Mr. R. Chisholm 2674
Res. 941, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Rules of the House -
Subversion Avoid, Mr. J. Leefe 2675
Res. 942, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Legislative Timetable -
Change Condemn, Mr. J. Holm 2676
Res. 943, Health - AIDS Strategy (Can.): Funding Continuance - Urge,
Mr. G. Moody 2676
Res. 944, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Public Opposition -
Recognize, Mr. G. Archibald 2677
Res. 945, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Atlantic Advantage -
Recognize, Mr. R. Carruthers 2677
Res. 946, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Imposition -
Arrogance Condemn, Ms. E. O'Connell 2678
Res. 947, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Abandon, Mr. B. Taylor 2678
Res. 948, Hants. Co. - Christmas Angels Show (Anniv. [25th]):
Volunteers - Acknowledge, Mr. R. Russell 2679
Vote - Affirmative 2680
Res. 949, Health - Reg. Bds.: Creation - Facts Check, Mr. G. Moody 2680
Res. 950, Sports - Football: St. Francis Xavier Univ. -
Vanier Cup Finalists Congrats., Mr. D. McInnes 2680
Vote - Affirmative 2681
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 2, Securities Act 2681
Hon. J. Abbass 2681
Mr. T. Donahoe 2681
Mr. J. Holm 2684
Hon. J. Abbass 2685
Vote - Affirmative 2687
No. 6, Animal Cruelty Prevention Act 2687
Hon. R. Mann 2687
Mr. G. Archibald 2687
Mr. J. Holm 2688
Vote - Affirmative 2689
No. 8, Court and Administrative Reform Act 2689
Hon. J. Abbass 2689
Mr. T. Donahoe 2689
Mr. J. Holm 2694
Mr. J. Leefe 2699
Hon. J. Abbass 2700
Vote - Affirmative 2702
No. 14, Occupiers' Liability Act 2702
Hon. J. Abbass 2702
Mr. T. Donahoe 2702
Mr. J. Holm 2705
Hon. J. Abbass 2708
Vote - Affirmative 2709
No. 28, Motor Vehicle Act 2709
Hon. D. Downe 2709
Mr. J. Holm 2709
Mr. B. Taylor 2713
Mr. T. Donahoe 2717
Hon. D. Downe 2723
Vote - Affirmative 2724
No. 10, Regional Community Development Act 2725
Hon. R. Mann 2725
Dr. J. Hamm 2725
Mr. J. Holm 2727
Hon. R. Mann 2730
Vote - Affirmative 2730
No. 30, Motor Vehicle Act 2731
Hon. B. Boudreau 2731
Mr. G. Moody 2731
Mr. J. Holm 2732
Mr. D. McInnes 2733
Mr. J. Leefe 2734
Hon. B. Boudreau 2735
Vote - Affirmative 2735
No. 31, Real Estate Trading Act 2736
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Dec. 3rd at 12:00 p.m. 2736

[Page 2661]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, DECEMBER 2, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will now begin with the daily proceedings of the House.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition which was circulated in, and I quote the Premier, "marginal" stores of MMG Group in Nova Scotia. The petition reads, "We, the undersigned, strongly object to increased taxation and the attempt to hide the tax brought about by the proposed "Tax Harmonization" Agreement. We believe this agreement will cause prices to rise on essential products and services that we purchase for both ourselves and our families.".

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the more than 12,000 people who signed this petition, I support their stand against the blended sales tax and I have signed the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

2661

[Page 2662]

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a number of petitions signed by over 1,000 people. It is the first instalment of a petition that reads, "We, the undersigned oppose the unfair and regressive BST. It increases taxes on the necessities of life and gives another tax break to big business. We hereby call upon the Liberal government to scrap the BST and live up to their commitment to bring in fair tax reform.".

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table petition containing the names of 401 residents from the Whites Lake/Prospect area, who wish to register their opposition to the BST. The names are to be included with those I tabled the other day, of some 220 residents. The petition reads, "We, the undersigned, are adamantly opposed to the Liberal Government's decision to impose a new blended sales tax on Nova Scotia consumers. The BST means consumers will be forced to pay millions more in new consumer and property taxes. The BST will be applied at a higher rate of 15 per cent on a much broader base of goods and services including home heating oil, gasoline, electricity, children's clothes, legal and other professional fees. If you rent an apartment or own your own home, this tax will mean you pay more. We demand that the government not proceed with this tax which will hurt all Nova Scotia families, but particularly those on fixed incomes, seniors and the working poor. We say no to the BST.".

I, too, Mr. Speaker, have signed the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Reports of the: Acadia University Foundation, Dalhousie University Foundation, Nova Scotia Agricultural College Foundation, St. Francis Xavier University Foundation, and Saint Mary's University Foundation.

MR. SPEAKER: The reports are tabled.

[Page 2663]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 922

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

Whereas the Finance Minister originally stated that his government would not introduce BST legislation until the spring because it was still conducting consultations with groups concerned about the tax; and

Whereas the groups opposed to the BS Tax have not decreased but rather increased to include every conceivable sector in this province, including the UNSM, the Nova Scotia Home Builders Association, the Nova Scotia Medical Society, the Retail Council of Canada, homeowners, property owners, as well as most working men and women in this province; and

Whereas the reference through consultations respecting the BS Tax is obviously yet another Liberal sham;

Therefore be it resolved that this government, for once, listen to the people of Nova Scotia and scrap the BS Tax or take it to a vote of the people and let them decide if the BS Tax is good for the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 923

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

Whereas the Premier claims that if the BST bill passes, everything you buy this Christmas will be cheaper next Christmas; and

[Page 2664]

Whereas this false statement completely ignores the families whose gift list includes clothing and shoes for their children, for which they will pay 8 per cent more; and

Whereas this false statement also ignores the increased tax on fuel for the fireplace, electricity for lighting the Christmas bulbs, bus tickets to go home for Christmas and postage stamps to send Seasons's Greetings;

Therefore be it resolved that during the Yuletide season, the Liberal tax be known neither as the BST or the HST but the BHST, the Bah Humbug Scrooge Tax.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 924

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I meant this to be a government resolution, and I apologize, but I put it forward in all seriousness.

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

Whereas December 1st was World AIDS Day to generate world-wide awareness of AIDS and encourage support for the people affected with this disease; and

Whereas in Nova Scotia 521 people have tested positive with the human immunodeficiency virus between 1983 and 1995; and

Whereas this government continues to identify ways in which it can work with the local HIV/AIDS community and is committed to supporting activities that brings HIV/AIDS in this province under control;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage all Nova Scotians to assist people living with AIDS, their families and friends in managing this condition and controlling the spread of this epidemic.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

[Page 2665]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 925

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 Christmas Daddies Telethon raises money to help provide Maritime children with year-round food, clothing, recreation opportunities as well as Christmas gifts; and

Whereas pledges from this year's six hour ATV telethon raised $25,000 more than last year; and

Whereas the Children's Aid Society will have close to $750,000 for needy children at this Christmas time and throughout the year;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Assembly encourage the many people in the Maritime Provinces to honour their pledges and commend them for this year's very generous support of the Christmas Daddies Telethon.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.

RESOLUTION NO. 926

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 Atlantic Jewish Council met this past weekend in its 10th Bi-Annual Convention; and

[Page 2666]

Whereas the Freedom to Worship is a cherished right in Canada; and

Whereas six individuals were honoured this past weekend for their work and devotion to Jewish and non-Jewish causes including Mr. Philip Riteman of Bedford;

Therefore be it resolved that we extend our thanks and congratulations to Mr. Riteman on receiving the 1996 Jewish Community Service Award from the Atlantic Jewish Council for his tremendous work in which thousands of students have heard him bear witness to his experience with the Holocaust.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 927

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

Whereas a Legislative Committee in the Province of New Brunswick found that the reason for that province's high gas prices was the lack of independent gas retailers; and

Whereas the Liberal Government in this province still has nothing in place protecting independent gas stations in Nova Scotia who have kept gasoline prices down well below prices in New Brunswick; and

Whereas consumers already often pay well over 60 cents a litre and this government's own BST will add an additional 5 cents a litre more to the price of gasoline;

Therefore be it resolved that this government introduce anti-predatory pricing legislation and that it take all necessary actions to preserve a marketplace that includes independent gas retailers.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 2667]

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 928

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 Jim Pittman is a resident of Lunenburg County, well known as the Singing Cook; and

Whereas Mr. Pittman has worked tirelessly for many years as a member of the Air Force, as a police officer, one of the founding members of the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival and as an onboard cook, most famous for turning local stories and folklore into song; and

Whereas the people of Nova Scotia were most recently treated to one of Jim Pittman's commentaries on Monday's CBC Information Morning broadcast;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly recognize and commend the many selfless and inspiring contributions Mr. Jim Pittman has made in the lives of the people in Lunenburg County and throughout Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 929

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

Whereas the Liberal Government of Nova Scotia has found in its short three and one-half years in power that the only way it can get its own way is to change the rules of democracy instead of working within them; and

[Page 2668]

Whereas the member for Richmond sounded more like a schoolyard bully or a street gang thug (Interruptions) when he said following his introduction of Resolution No. 921 that his action was ". . . sort of like ordering the hammer from Sears, . . . We may not have to use it, but we will have it if we have to."; and

[2:15 p.m.]

Whereas the government has shown little respect for the Legislature and the people whom it has sworn to serve, thumbing its nose at most any rule or procedure deemed an obstacle to them;

Therefore be it resolved that this government, under the leadership and direction of the Premier and House Leader lead by example and not by threat of brutish force and rescind its resolution on hour changes hastily introduced in the final minutes of Friday's session.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 930

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

Whereas this House unanimously passed a motion on Friday that calls for a public inquiry into mental health services at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital; and

Whereas it appears that the government was once again not paying attention and despite the unanimous approval given to the motion, the government does not feel bound to call for a public inquiry; and

Whereas despite the Government House Leader's statement to the media, he was not even in the House when the motion was read and voted on;

Therefore be it resolved that instead of trying to pretend he was absent during the reading of the motion, the Government House Leader acknowledge the resolution was unanimously passed and that he advise the Minister of Health immediately to carry out the wishes of all members of this House.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 2669]

RESOLUTION NO. 931

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

Whereas Premier Frank McKenna of New Brunswick gave Nova Scotia Liberals their 100 bucks worth by denouncing the Tory Government of John Buchanan as the worst government he has ever seen; and

Whereas one of the worst features of that very bad government was its practice of forcing legislation by exhaustion upon Opposition members of this House; and

Whereas only the staunchest of Tories would today defend any aspect of the Buchanan era;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Savage Government for emulating the autocratic style of the Buchanan Tories by bringing forward rule changes that will enable it to use its majority to ram through legislation that will be disastrous to the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 932

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

Whereas after 12 years of financial chaos by the provincial Tories, Nova Scotia had the worst government this country has ever seen, says the Honourable Premier of New Brunswick; and

Whereas after abdicating responsibility for sound fiscal management, the Tories left Nova Scotia depleted of resources, high unemployment, a single-year deficit of $617 million, and the piling up of an incredible $8 billion debt; and

Whereas the same provincial Tory gang fully supported the Brian Mulroney Tories who brought in the GST, which has taken billions of dollars from Atlantic Canadians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House advise Nova Scotians to remember the financial mess brought about by the Buchanan/Cameron Tories and their silence when Brian Mulroney inflicted the GST, which has siphoned $3 billion from Atlantic Canada.

[Page 2670]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 933

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

Whereas the Savage Liberal Government has refused to hold province-wide public hearings on the BST to hear concerns being expressed by Nova Scotians about having to pay an additional $84 million in taxes, effective April 1, 1997; and

Whereas this Savage Government is intent on ramming the BS Tax legislation through this House of Assembly prior to the Christmas holidays while, in the process refusing to allow the concerns and opinions of Nova Scotians to be adequately expressed; and

Whereas these types of actions are conducive to the overthrowing of governments by military rule, where the opinions of people are silenced and government imposes their will upon the people;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his government return to the truest form of democracy which Nova Scotians are accustomed to and allow them the opportunity for their opinions to be heard in these historic Chambers.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 934

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

Whereas in a cost comparison survey of selected North American cities by KPMG, Halifax ranked as the best place for pharmaceutical businesses to establish a production facility; and

[Page 2671]

Whereas Quivsol, a Canadian company based in London, Ontario, in cooperation with the Department of Health, the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre and the Economic Renewal Agency is conducting a feasibility study to determine the possibility of manufacturing intravenous and sterile solutions in Nova Scotia for hospital use; and

Whereas Nova Scotia spends between $8 million and $12 million on sterile solutions and injectables for our hospital system, and millions of dollars could be saved and jobs created if a mini-plant is built here in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend this government for having the foresight to recognize the potential in establishing a mini-plant in Halifax to manufacture a variety of sterile solutions.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 935

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

Whereas every question asked of the Liberal Government in his House is answered with contempt, if answered at all; and

Whereas when this government is asked, for example, a question on the BS Tax, the best it can muster is to call the federal government Revenue Canada 1-800 number; and

Whereas when the Premier of the province was asked a question on the BS Tax, he responded not by answering the question but rather by calling the honourable members, "a bunch of wailing minnies.";

Therefore be it resolved that it is the people of Nova Scotia who deserve answers to their questions on the BS Tax, answers that don't include blowing raspberries and calling those who ask them questions a bunch of wailing minnies, a word incidentally that is not found in the dictionary but rather is a figment of the Premier's imagination, much like this government's record in the creation of jobs, the benefits of the BS Tax, and the promulgation of a code of ethics for Cabinet Ministers.

[Page 2672]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 936

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas mad cow disease is a serous threat, not just to the bovine population, but to humans generally; and

Whereas cows who suffer from this disease are destroyed to save the population from its effects; and

Whereas Jerry Roehr, President of the Canadian Home Builders Association, in the most recent issue of Atlantic Progress is quoted as saying "Harmonizing the GST with provincial sales taxes is the public policy equivalent of mad cow disease";

Therefore be it resolved that this government humanely destroy the planned BS Tax and put Nova Scotians out of their misery.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 937

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

Whereas on last Wednesday, November 27th, the member for Sackville-Cobequid characterized the metropolitan chamber of commerce, which supports the harmonized sales tax, as representing the interests of large corporations, including financial institutions that are recording record profits in the billions of dollars across the country; and

Whereas businesses with more than 50 employees make up only 5 per cent of the membership of the metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce; and

Whereas 57 per cent of the organizations belonging to the metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce are businesses with 10 employees or less, and 78 per cent are businesses with 50 employees or less, with the remainder of their membership being comprised largely of individuals, public sector agencies and non-profit organizations;

[Page 2673]

Therefore be it resolved that this House demand that the member for Sackville-Cobequid apologize for falsely characterizing the metropolitan chamber of commerce as a lobbying organization for large corporations and recognize that the chamber is a strong defender of the interests of small businesses and non-profit organizations in their community.

I request waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes. (Interruptions)

The notice is tabled.

Order, please.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 938

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

Whereas the federal Finance Minister recently publicly stated that Nova Scotians opposed to the BS Tax would have an opportunity to voice their objections through the Law Amendments Committee process; and

Whereas thousands of angry Nova Scotians who were denied an opportunity to have their say through open public consultations and who are sick to death of this arrogant government's dismissive attitude and are lining up to tell them just that; and

Whereas the Premier has prostrated himself before the demands of his Liberal colleagues in Ottawa on virtually anything and everything;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government give every single solitary Nova Scotian who is opposed to the BS Tax and who wishes to appear before the Law Amendments Committee the opportunity to have their full say through the hearings of the Committee on Law Amendments.

I request waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

[Page 2674]

RESOLUTION NO. 939

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

Whereas in typical Liberal style this government flip-flopped on its plans to institute the BST legislation in the spring, opting instead to spring it on the Opposition and the Nova Scotia public late Friday afternoon, therefore abandoning their promise of meaningful public consultation; and

Whereas it is clear that the Liberal Government is beginning to understand that opposition to its latest tax grab is growing by leaps and bounds and feels it must use heavy-handed tactics to try to quell the debate; and

Whereas this is yet another example of the dictatorial (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member has the floor.

MR. DONAHOE: Could we have a little order, Mr. Speaker, please? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DONAHOE: Whereas this is yet another example of the dictatorial and down-your-throat style of government which is intent on wreaking havoc on the people of Nova Scotia and our economy;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government for once be accountable and for once be open and allow the debate on the BST legislation to proceed under the rules and forms and procedures which were put in place to govern procedure in this Legislature.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 940

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

Whereas the Liberal Government has appointed the so-called Langley Committee to study the issue of environmental illness; and

[Page 2675]

Whereas victims of environmental illness believe the chair of the committee has a closed mind about the diagnosis and treatment of environmental hypersensitivity; and

Whereas there is concern that this government will use the committee to discredit claims for compensation from victims of work-related environmental illness;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Minister of Health to follow the advice of the Nova Scotia Coalition on Environmental Hypersensitivity and reconstitute the committee with a different leadership and a new mandate that is fair, open and inclusive of those infected.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 941

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

Whereas the Liberal Government has once again taken the route of, do as I say, not as I do; and

Whereas the Liberal Government legislated two sittings of the House to "permit legislators and the people they represent to focus on the issues facing Nova Scotians"; and

Whereas as the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage put it in the 1993 election, promised that the Savage Liberals would "provide government that legislates with, not at, people";

[2:30 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that the Savage Government not subvert the rules of legislative debate, acknowledging that the BS Tax is of such fundamental fiscal and economic significance that commands nothing less than the fullest public scrutiny through the normal course of legislative debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 2676]

RESOLUTION NO. 942

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

Whereas the federal Finance Minister, who concocted this deal, said in September, there is no rush to pass the BST legislation; and

Whereas the federal Revenue Minister, who has carried the deal forward, said in November, there is no rush to pass the BST legislation; and

Whereas the Premier said a few weeks ago, there is no rush to bring in the legislation but now has changed his mind;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the federal Ministers of Finance and Revenue and members of this Liberal provincial Cabinet for misleading Nova Scotians about the timetable for this BST legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 943

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

Whereas the world again observed December 1st as World AIDS Day, a day to remember those who are living with HIV/AIDS, and those whose lives have been taken prematurely; and

Whereas the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia cites that each minute, world-wide, five people become infected with HIV, approximately 22 million as of July 1996; and

Whereas in Nova Scotia alone thousands of our neighbours face a world of uncertainty because of the infection;

Therefore be it resolved that this government urge its federal counterparts to continue to fund the National Aids Strategy in an effort to fight against AIDS locally, nationally and world-wide.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 2677]

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

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 944

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

Whereas the Premier said the Opposition Leader John Hamm's opposition to the BST forced the government to introduce its heavy-handed motion to change the rules established by the Legislature for setting the hours of the debate; and

Whereas the Opposition Leader is merely responding to the wishes of thousands of Nova Scotians who are outraged by this government's latest tax grab; and

Whereas this Liberal Government will stop at nothing to force another ill-conceived, ill-considered and potentially disastrous tax increase on Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government recognize that the vast majority of Nova Scotians oppose this new tax and that they view the government's Friday rule change resolution as a contemptible assault on the principles of fair play and democracy.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 945

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

Whereas yesterday afternoon the Premier of New Brunswick spoke to a sold-out luncheon about his vision of a strong, independent, self-sufficient Atlantic Canadian economy, a vision shared by the Premier of this province; and

Whereas the Premier of New Brunswick noted that the harmonized sales tax is "a chance for Atlantic Canada to enjoy the single biggest advantage that we have ever had in the last 50 years against the rest of the country"; and

[Page 2678]

Whereas the Premier of New Brunswick also noted that the harmonized sales tax "represents an instrument of sovereignty" and "that it is for us a weapon in the battle to become a self-sufficient part of Canada";

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that the Atlantic advantage created by the HST will propel this region to economic prosperity and self-sufficiency and congratulate the Premier of New Brunswick for joining with this province in creating a new tax system that will make Atlantic Canada the most attractive business location in all of North America.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 946

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Liberal Government has consistently promised it would consult Nova Scotians before imposing the BST; and

Whereas at every turn the Liberal Government has, in fact, excluded Nova Scotians from consultation on the BST; and

Whereas the last minute decision to introduce the BST legislation and ram it through the House with the help of Draconian rule changes makes a complete sham of Liberal promises to consult;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Liberal Government for the arrogant and dictatorial way it is attempting to impose the BST on the people of Nova Scotia.

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

Order, please.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 947

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

[Page 2679]

Whereas the Premier has become illusional in his attempt to impose the BS Tax upon Nova Scotians; and

Whereas evidence of one of the Premier's optical illusions appeared in print Saturday morning when he commented about a cheaper Christmas next year; and

Whereas in this illusional state of mind, the Premier somehow forgot to mention higher electricity bills for such things as Christmas lights as well as the millions in additional taxes that Nova Scotians will be forced to pay during the Christmas shopping season as a result of the BS Tax;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier stop being the grinch that stole Christmas from hundreds of thousands of Nova Scotians and give Nova Scotians what they really want for Christmas, a future without the BS Tax.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 948

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 20th Annual Christmas Angels to benefit the needy of Hants County at Christmas time was held yesterday at the Hants County War Memorial Community Centre in Windsor; and

Whereas the show raised an all-time, one show record amount of just over $25,400; and

Whereas the show aired live from 12:00 noon until 9:00 p.m. on Windsor Cable Television and Annapolis Valley Radio Windsor;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature acknowledge the thousands of hours of effort put forward by numerous volunteers to make the 20th Anniversary show of Christmas Angels the best ever for Hants County.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

It is agreed.

[Page 2680]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 949

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

Whereas in a resolution read in this House on Thursday, the Minister of Health suggested the Blueprint Committee recommended the establishment of regional health boards; and

Whereas this is absolutely not true; and

Whereas the Minister of Health has obviously not done his homework and is obviously so overwhelmed by the mess his government has created in Nova Scotia's health care system that he can't keep his facts straight;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health check out the facts which will clearly show regional health boards were the creation of the former Minister of Health and that the Blueprint Committee was directed to develop recommendations with the understanding they were non-negotiable.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 950

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

Whereas St. Francis Xavier University football team played the Vanier Cup Championship Final this past Saturday at Toronto's Skydome; and

Whereas despite long odds placed on the team by the Toronto media, the X-Men fought a tough and determined match only to fall short in the game's fourth quarter; and

Whereas just a few short years ago St. F.X. alumni rallied to save the football program from cancellation, demonstrating the same toughness and determination;

[Page 2681]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the St. F.X. Football X-Men players, coaches and staff as well as the St. F.X. Alumni and students for continuing to show that toughness and determination breeds success.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 2.

Bill No. 2 - Securities Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAY ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, at this point I would like to move third reading of the Securities Act, Bill No.2.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I just want to make a couple of brief remarks relative to the Securities Act on third reading.

[Page 2682]

I have had an opportunity to offer comments along the way at the earlier stages of debate in regard to this legislation and, unfortunately, did not seem to get much in the way of answers or response to some matters which I raised, which I thought were worthy of consideration and, at least, perhaps, worthy of some response or reaction from the sponsoring minister.

I mentioned earlier, Mr. Speaker, that there is considerable discussion about the possibility of one securities regulator, or authority of some kind, across the country to reduce the cost of doing business, and the concern expressed by many who have made contact with me is that it is very difficult for the business community and the investing community to have to go to 10 different regulators and to pay 10 different fees and jump through 10 different hoops and so on.

So I asked a question, somewhere along the way, which, to my recollection, there was no adequate answer as to why we were introducing this legislation at this time in light of the fact that the national legislation is being contemplated. I know that the sponsoring minister is in receipt of correspondence from, among others, the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, because there is a document floating around that addresses the question of the creation of a national securities commission or some form of national agency or authority. The leaders of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union have communicated with the Minister of Justice to enquire as to what is the state of the nation as far as the employment of the men and women who are members of that union now working for the Nova Scotia Securities Commission, and I don't know that the minister has responded in that regard.

The reason I raised the questions was that we have this legislation which, I have also said earlier, I know was drafted in the main by the Chairman, Bob MacLellan, and by his colleague, Les O'Brien - since fired by this government - so in terms of what the legislation does to strengthen and modernize the role and the function and the authorities of the Nova Scotia Securities Commission, I find myself in support and I think the changes are useful. But I felt it would be of value and importance in a situation where we debate a Nova Scotia Securities Commission to have some understanding, with a little bit of help from the minister, as to just where we are in relation to discussions across the country relative to the establishment of a national commission. Hence, I asked those questions.

I simply want to, before the bill finishes all of the stages of our legislative review process here, Mr. Speaker, raise again the concern and, more to the point, I guess, the plea that this minister might be prepared to share with me, and all members, just where we are, where this government is in terms of making commitments with other governments across the country relative to a national securities regulator country-wide.

I expressed concern, too, along that way, that this legislation, while somewhat like some of Ontario's securities law, gives much more discretion to the Nova Scotia Securities Commission without the concurrent obligation that the commissioners be required to engage

[Page 2683]

in full or extensive consultation with the business community. The Ontario Securities Commission has power to make similar rules but there is a clear statement in that legislation which requires that those rules are able to be made by the Ontario commissioners but only after there is evidence of clear and full consultation with the industry. I expressed the disappointment with this legislation that we perhaps didn't make that obligation on the part of the Nova Scotia commissioners somewhat clearer.

[2:45 p.m.]

I made the observation earlier and I would like to make it again here at the third reading stage that the Premier, of course, has been the lead person in engaging in cooperation with the Atlantic Provinces regarding two at least of the other Atlantic Provinces in the BST and the linking of the GST and the PST in those three Atlantic Provinces. I found it interesting that that activity would be taking place as far as the tax regime is concerned and the Premier tells me and tells all Nova Scotians who are prepared to listen to him that that initiative is good for Nova Scotia. It occurs to me that there might well be value in opening up discussions with the governments of other Atlantic Provinces in the area of securities law.

If we could move to the development of an Atlantic Securities Commission as a first step on the way to a national system that might well be worthwhile. I would therefore urge, while it is not to my knowledge on the plate of the minister who sponsors this bill at the present time, I would like to suggest that such discussions be undertaken and if they are underway that the minister might be kind enough to share with me and with all members the nature and extent of those discussions so that we have a sense of what might be ahead of us in terms of an Atlantic Securities Commission.

In my haste the other day I didn't get an opportunity to make the call which I should have made relative to the membership of the Nova Scotia Securities Commission but I am not so sure that the Nova Scotia Securities Commission is up to full complement. Maybe if the minister is aware that that is in fact not the case and the complement is full, then he might confirm that for me and that would allay some concerns that I have. For far too long, months and months, during the currency of this government's mandate, the Securities Commission has been required to function with far less membership than is appropriate and I would like to think that there have been new members appointed. There might perhaps have been one but even that, I think, is a little light to say the least.

In any event, I have supported the legislation because I think it improves our circumstances here in Nova Scotia. I have asked a couple of times questions about Atlantic and national securities regulation regimes. I have asked about membership on our Nova Scotia Securities Commission. I have asked about a decision-making power for the member or members of the Nova Scotia Securities Commission but with that caveat that there be consultation with the business community similar to that set out in the Ontario Securities

[Page 2684]

Commission legislation. I would hope that, perhaps, when he closes third reading, the minister might be prepared to respond to certain of those observations.

Otherwise than that, Mr. Speaker, I will leave my remarks at that. I do hope the passage of this legislation will improve the work of our securities commission, that it will, as the bill says it is supposed to do, ". . . provide investors with protection from practices and activities that tend to undermine investor confidence in the fairness and efficiency of capital markets and, where it would not be inconsistent with an adequate level of investor protection, to foster the process of capital formation.". I certainly hope it has that result and properly staffed, properly funded and with sufficient commissioners on the securities commission, it has the potential to do exactly that. I trust that it will and I will vote to support the legislation, notwithstanding the caveats and concerns I have about some of the things which I have raised to this point. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, very briefly, I indicate that we, too, will be supporting the legislation going forward through third reading. One of the clauses, and I don't claim to be all that knowledgeable and well-informed or to know the world, I guess I should say, of the securities and the investments. However, in reviewing the legislation and, certainly, the intent of what it is proposing to do, I find it very supportable.

I also take a look, and the statement that I think is a very important one, which is contained at the very beginning of the bill in the purpose and that which was made reference to by the previous speaker in his closing remarks, again, ". . . to provide investors with protection from practices and activities that tend to undermine investors confidence in the fairness and efficiency of capital markets . . .", and it goes on.

Certainly, Mr. Speaker, here we know that, as we are trying to encourage and promote economic development in the Province of Nova Scotia where we have extremely high levels of unemployment, it is crucially important that those we are hoping to attract to Nova Scotia, those who we are trying to encourage to be investing their money so that there can be the job creation, whether that be private investors, whether that be workers' funds, whether that be through the cooperative movement, whatever, that it is extremely important that there be the assurances and they can have the confidence that there is a very fair and efficient process in place to regulate and govern capital markets.

In that regard, one of the things, and, again, the previous speaker made reference to it, and I had not checked this as well, I could be wrong on this, but if my recollection is correct, when this bill was introduced, I believe that there was only the one person, one board member of the securities commission, and that being the chair. The previous minister, again, I am going by memory which is not always the best way of doing things, Mr. Speaker, but my recollection is that the previous minister had indicated, at that time in the debate, that

[Page 2685]

additional members would be being appointed to the securities commission and that they would be appointed to prior to the bill passing. Certainly, I don't raise that in any way to be critical of any of those who are on it, but given the importance, I guess is what I am trying to get at, of what the commission does, we have to ensure that, in order that they can do their workload properly, that there be a proper and full complement to that.

Again, my recollection, and I am not saying for a minute, Mr. Speaker, that I am certain of my facts here and I want to make that clear, I should have made a phone call, as well, prior to this and I am going by my recollection, but my recollection is, and possibly faulty, but that the commission was not to its full complement. I cannot remember the exact numbers. I could be off on the number that were actually there, but that there was a commitment, I believe, to have those numbers increased. Maybe that has been done, I don't know. But given the importance of what they do, I think that this is one commission that certainly should be up to its appropriate and maximum numbers.

The other point, again, this was something that has been raised when we were talking about securities commissions and one of the things that being a novice and not understanding how the security world works, and maybe I should take a lesson on high-finance and the investment community. But it seems to me that there does need to be some uniformity across the country and greater ways to be controlling and regulating to have the cooperation on a national wide basis. As has been pointed out, there have been the discussions about setting up either a national securities commission or, failing to set up the national commission, at least to have standardized types of rules across the country in terms of how the processes are being done. I would welcome hearing from the minister in terms of where that whole process sits at the present time, if the minister would favour us with a few comments on that when he wraps up the debate here on third and final reading, as this might probably be the last opportunity for a period of time, in any event, to raise some questions about this particular matter.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAY ABBASS: Just before I move third and final reading of the bill, Mr. Speaker, as time permits, especially given the hours that we are expected to be sitting here, I am happy to sit down with any member of the House, Opposition or otherwise, and have a chat about the commission. But one of the most important clauses of the bill is Clause 11, and I might clarify the intent and effect of Clause 11 and the bill itself if I were to read from some notes.

This is the most important amendment of the bill. It provides that the commission will have rule making authority, which is co-extensive with the regulation making authority of the Governor in Council subject to mechanisms whereby the Governor in Council can make regulations governing the procedures and processes by which the commission makes rules,

[Page 2686]

the rules of the commission can be vetoed by the Governor in Council and the rules of the commission cannot overrule regulations made by the Governor in Council.

In Canada, securities regulation is an area of provincial jurisdiction. In order that the Canadian securities markets should operate under harmonized requirements the provincial administrators, over the years, developed a number of administrative policies which applied across the country. A few years ago an Ontario Court held, unfortunately, that the Ontario Securities Commission did not have jurisdiction to require compliance with these policies and therefore, the underlying basis for providing uniform requirements across Canada was brought into doubt. Consequently, a Royal Commission was appointed in Ontario to hold hearings, receive submissions and make recommendations for an alternative basis upon which former policies would have the force of law. The Royal Commission recommended that the Ontario Securities Commission be granted rule making authority. That is, rule making authority, it is very important to note that.

This recommendation was incorporated in amendments to the Securities Act of Ontario. Meanwhile British Columbia and Alberta have enacted similar provisions and Saskatchewan is in the course of doing so now. Other provinces are also currently pursuing similar initiatives. In those provinces which adopted rule making authority, the authority is similar, although the process by which rules are adopted does vary. The complexity of the process must be sensitive to the resources of a jurisdiction as well as sensitive to the stature of the securities market which is regulated by the securities commission of that particular province.

It is important to Nova Scotian investors that their investment opportunities not be limited by virtue of issuers avoiding offering their securities in Nova Scotia because Nova Scotia might have requirements which are inconsistent with those of the major jurisdictions and the other jurisdictions. The commission's authority to make rules will ensure that where the major jurisdictions make rules, Nova Scotia will be able to pass similar rules, thus increasing the efficiency of the capital markets in this province and the opportunities for Nova Scotian investors.

[3:00 p.m.]

In addition, it will allow the commission to respond to the requirements of small business, by making rules that will allow small business to raise capital in a much more efficient and less expensive manner than is currently the case.

Clause 11 amends Section 150, if you will refer to that clause, in two respects; first, it extends to the commission power to make rules, which is co-extensive with the power of the Governor in Council to make regulations. Second, it extends the enumerated heads of power, with respect to matters in respect of which rules and regulations may be made. These additional powers are designed to encompass the same areas as exist in Ontario, for instance, and the other jurisdictions which have adopted rule-making power. This is necessary to ensure

[Page 2687]

that the commission will be able to make rules intended to have national application, in the same circumstances as those jurisdictions may make rules.

Again, I would reiterate that I would be happy to meet or have a chat on the telephone with any member who may have questions about this. Meanwhile, I would move third reading. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 6.

Bill No. 6 - Animal Cruelty Prevention Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: On behalf of the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing, I would move third reading of Bill No. 6.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to say a couple of things about this bill. Cruelty to animals is something that has caught the attention of people around the world. You, Mr. Speaker, as a former minister, I am sure received hundreds of postcards from people across North America when it was learned that one of the animal safety organizations was inhumanely destroying animals in one of the areas of Nova Scotia. I received hundreds of postcards from right across North America from people who were very concerned about the well being of small house pets and animals.

One of the things that was very interesting about this bill was the cooperative effort from the Department of Agriculture and Marketing with so many groups and organizations that have an interest and, in fact, are stakeholders. So I just wanted to commend the deputy minister and the minister for their attitude of cooperation among people who will be affected one way or another by the implementation of this bill.

[Page 2688]

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: I, too, want to rise in support of the legislation and certainly associate myself with the comments made by the previous speaker and a former Minister of Agriculture. As all those within the government Department of Agriculture have worked with others to bring forward this - I think it is somewhat overdue legislation - are to be commended, as are all those other groups that have been urging for some quite considerable period of time that this legislation was needed to provide greater protection to animals.

One of the things, and I guess maybe if we could put it in a context, the legislation that is currently in place that deals with animal cruelty or against which people would have to be found to have been in violation, goes back, I believe, to about 1867, and under the Criminal Code made it very difficult to investigate and to obtain prosecutions.

Certainly groups like the SPCA, Bide-Awhile and other groups that have appeared before us at Law Amendments Committee, in support of this legislation, deserve a lot of credit for their persistence in trying to ensure that appropriate legislation that will enable there to be investigators appointed who can go and do the monitoring, not only checking out the agricultural sites, Mr. Speaker, where animals would be kept, but also pets that people have in their own homes, animals that are kept for working, those at circuses, those that are kept in parks and so on, that they will have the ability to go in and monitor to ensure that the animals are being kept appropriately and that they are not going to be allowed to be in distress.

Under Clause 7 - and I am not going to get into it in terms of all of the phrases - I think it is important that this legislation will give those powers to investigate cases of cruelty or neglect; that they will be able to recommend agents to be appointed as special constables under the Police Act, so that they will have certainly very clear guidelines and controls as a framework within which they are going to be working; it will promote humane education and treatment of animals, so that there is an educational aspect to what can be done under this; and inspect and monitor, on an ongoing basis, facilities where animals, pets and livestock are housed and handled, Mr. Speaker, that would take a look at stables, kennels, agricultural shows, pet shops, et cetera - I am sure we all can remember reading and hearing stories about what are commonly referred to as puppy factories where animals have been kept in far less than ideal situations, in very cruel and abusive situations, simply for quick breeding, so that the animals can be turned out quickly for sale purposes, and end up with unhealthy and poorly tempered animals in addition to the abuse those animals have had to endure - it goes on and there are a bunch of others, one of which, of course, would be affixing fines, so the fines can actually be levied on those who are found to be abusing animals.

I could obviously go on at much greater length, if there was a need to do so, Mr. Speaker, but I think that this is by and large very good legislation. It is something that is overdue and those who have worked very hard to ensure this legislation came before this

[Page 2689]

House, particularly those who are working with animals and who are concerned, that they - as I say, through the SPCA, through shelters like the Bide-Awhile Shelter and others - deserve a great deal of credit and thanks, along with the staff of the Department of Agriculture who worked with them to develop this legislation. They deserve the credit certainly and thanks of all those who like animals and believe animals should be treated in a very humane manner. Certainly I will be voting in support of the legislation on its third and final reading.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question?

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

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 8.

Bill No. 8 - Court and Administrative Reform Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAY ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, I will look forward to moving third reading of Bill No. 8, the Court and Administrative Reform Act, following the various interventions of the members opposite.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I do want to make a few remarks on third reading relative to Bill No. 8, the Court and Administrative Reform Act.

You will be aware - and the minister will and other colleagues - that I had some things to say about this legislation along the way and, quite frankly, I am rather disappointed that certain of the concerns that I felt were important, and in one case in particular rather problematic, seem not to have been addressed. Part of the difficulty which we had as Opposition members in this regard too, you will recall, Mr. Speaker, was that we had this bill debated, it went to Law Amendments, it came back to us from Law Amendments with a number of proposed amendments but then when we get back into the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, at the time the bill is called, the minister provides a number of amendments and a couple of those, I think as far as I am concerned at least and on the basis

[Page 2690]

of my reading of the legislation, cause a little bit of difficulty and I want to address those concerns because I think the record should show them.

I refer particularly to the fact that in Clauses 11 and 12 the minister has come back and provided language deleting the section which had been approved at the Law Amendments Committee and offers a new section and in one case, Clause 11, Section 26 which says that, "The Minister of Justice may establish justice centres . . .", and for each the justice centre area it serves. Later there is a provision which says, each justice centre area established pursuant to the Judicature Act constitutes a jury district for the purpose of this Act.

I expressed this earlier and I express it again, my concern is that I don't believe, unless I have missed it, that there is a definition of what a justice centre actually is. Unless there is such a definition we now, upon passage of this legislation, will have a law on the books of the Province of Nova Scotia which says that the Minister of Justice of any given day, be it this or any other Minister of Justice, will be able to by edict or fiat simply say this is what I am calling a justice centre and there shall be such a justice centre, and here is the area which will be served by this justice centre.

If we had a definition of what a justice centre was and it said that a justice centre includes a Supreme Court courtroom, a Family Court courtroom, a Probate Court, it includes a Registry of Deeds, a Clerk's or Prothonotary's Office, whatever, whatever, then I think everybody would have a far better sense of just what it is that the minister has authority to do. I think not only the Bar in Nova Scotia but those thousands of Nova Scotians who wish to avail themselves of the judicial system and the justice system generally, would have an idea of what is going on.

As an example, I know that this minister is in receipt of correspondence from people who are expressing concern about the fact that in the choice as between the courthouse in Annapolis and the courthouse in Digby, it appears that this minister is opting for the courthouse in Digby as what may end up being called a justice centre, I don't know. It has been made known to me or at least suggested to me that having regard to the relative size and physical integrity and configuration of the courthouse in Annapolis as opposed to that in Digby that there may well be more sense in considering Annapolis.

I am not sure that that is right but what I am being told and what the Minister of Justice is being told repeatedly is that despite a number of representations, the Minister of Justice directly at least, in terms of his own personal involvement in discussions, has not been, to this point, able or prepared to engage in discussions with the local Bar, with many people on the local scene, to come to a full and complete understanding of just what the implications are of actually making any of these decisions, be it to go to Digby or to stay in Annapolis or whatever.

[Page 2691]

[3:15 p.m.]

Again, I repeat, it is without a definition of what a justice centre is, then everybody who is affected by where the courthouses are, where the ancillary services such as probate and Registry of Deeds and so on are located, is of extreme importance and I am just very much concerned that on the basis of a tremendous amount of communication which has reached me, that thousands of people in rural Nova Scotia are going to believe now that they will be very much disadvantaged in terms of access to the justice system and the services of the Department of Justice and Attorney General.

The minister seems not willing to be prepared to inject a new clause which would provide us all, and import into this legislation, a definition of justice centres. I say that disappoints me and I think the legislation is very much less effective than it could be and should be on account of the fact that the minister is not prepared to do that and, further, that it leaves people very unclear and uncertain about what the long-term configuration of the justice delivery system across the province will be and that is not necessary. I think the inclusion of some explanatory language and descriptive language of justice centres could avoid some of that difficulty.

Then, Mr. Speaker, you will be aware that there is a provision in this bill which is, I think, really quite problematic; quite frankly, I think it is quite dangerous. I have not heard an explanation or description from the minister which satisfies me that we are not potentially walking ourselves into a very real difficulty here. I refer, of course, to the principle in this legislation that we now are going to import into this bill a very significant element of retroactivity relative to orders or dispositions of matters by boards, tribunals or commissions. In effect, as I know you know from earlier comments in relation to this issue, Mr. Speaker, what we are saying is that if a board or a tribunal or a commission makes an order disposing of a matter under the legislation which enables them to function and make such orders, and if that legislation which gives them that order-making authority, by chance, happens not to have a provision in it that addresses the question of enforcement of that order, this legislation says that the orders of those boards, tribunals and commissions can be filed and enforced in the same manner as a judgment of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. Up to that point, things, perhaps, are workable.

The offensive language, I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, is that the Governor in Council, the Cabinet, is giving itself authority under this clause, by regulation, to provide that an order of that board, any one of those boards, tribunals or commissions, whether that decision was made before or after the coming into force of this legislation, that the Cabinet can, on any Thursday, say relative to that particular board or commission or tribunal and that order of that board, commission or tribunal, notwithstanding the fact that it might have been made a year ago or two years ago or we don't know how long ago but, indeed, 6, 8, 10 years, ago, if such might be the case, this language is broad enough and the retroactive sweep is wide enough that it is possible, I suggest at law, for decisions which were taken many years ago to be

[Page 2692]

swept up and the Cabinet on any given day can say well, let's go back to a decision of such and such a board or a tribunal of, pick a number, 1990 or 1993 or 1987, and we will say, because we now have this retroactive authority, that that order can be enforced in the same manner as a judgment of the Supreme Court.

I just don't think, Mr. Speaker, that this discretionary retroactivity provision is at all desirable and is very bad practice. There is a very simple answer to the concern I have about retroactivity, that is for this government to do an analysis and a review of those boards, agencies, commissions and tribunals which may not have or do not have now, under their legislative authority, the capacity to have orders and decisions of those boards, tribunals and commissions filed and enforced, as in the same manner as a judgment of the Supreme Court, identify those boards and tribunals and come forward with a piece of legislation that says we are now going to amend the legislation relative to those boards, tribunals and commissions and say that orders made by them shall be able to be enforced in the same manner as a judgment of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, and I might say that they would be enforceable in that fashion from the date of the making of such orders and forward and not in a retroactive fashion.

I just think that us getting into retroactivity, that the Cabinet on any Thursday makes the decision that this legislation would permit opens up the potential for very real difficulties for many of the boards and commissions and so on.

If it is appropriate or relevant that a decision or an order of a board, tribunal or commission might be considered by some Cabinet on some Thursday as being worthy of designation of being able to be filed and enforced in the same manner as a judgment of the Supreme Court, if any one decision of such a board or a commission or a tribunal is considered by the Cabinet to be in that category, I think it begs the question well, why wouldn't the next one? Why wouldn't the next decision of that board or tribunal or commission be able to be or why shouldn't it be able to be filed and enforced in the same manner as a judgment of the Supreme Court? Again, the easy answer to that is, amend the legislation that makes it possible for that board, tribunal or commission to make the order in the first place and tell that board or tribunal or commission that they have the legal authority to have their orders enforced and filed and forced in the same manner as a judgment of the Supreme Court.

I really find this a very cumbersome and dangerous kind of approach and it opens up a discretionary element in the work of the Executive Council, which I think is not in the best interests of any of those boards, tribunals or commissions and not in the best interests of the men, women and corporations and the members of those boards, tribunals and commissions who make those orders. I just think it is pretty poorly done.

[Page 2693]

There were other considerations, when the minister came in with his amendments you will recall that he changed the bill that he introduced and the bill that came back to us from the Law Amendments Committee relative to these justice centres said that "The Minister of Justice may establish justice centres in each judicial district referred to in subsection (1) of Section 25.". At least the value of that provision was that we knew what the judicial districts referred to in Subsection 1 of Section 5 actually were. Here we don't know now with his amendment what a justice centre is, what the criteria are for the establishment of such a justice centre.

The bottom line is that while we were faced with and forced with dealing with an omnibus bill here as we did, the bill amends 18 pieces of legislation. In my opinion it is not the best practice to come forward with an omnibus bill in the first place. I think it is not a reasonable practice at all to come forward with retroactivity. It certainly is not appropriate to come forward with retroactivity which is in the hands and the decision and discretion of the men and women who sit in the Cabinet Room on any given Thursday.

If those boards, commissions and tribunals in the opinion of this government should have the right to have the orders that they make be able to be filed, processed and have the force and effect in the manner of Supreme Court orders, then I repeat and I close on this comment, then the right thing and the sensible thing to do is to have the government come forward with amendments to the legislation that rules the work of those boards, commissions and tribunals which don't have that legal authority at the present time, come forward with a bill and add that authority to the legislation affecting those boards, commissions and tribunals and be upfront with it and say, we think decisions made by these boards, agencies and tribunals should, in fact, be able to be enforced in a manner similar to judgments of the Supreme Court.

I think this is very poorly done. It will cause very real difficulty. We made some suggestions, questions or requests through earlier stages of debate in the legislation. We seemed not to get very far with any of that and I am really very disappointed that the legislation is before us at third reading in its present form. I think this minister and this government could have done an awful lot better with a more appropriate piece of legislation. Clearly, the government with its overwhelming majority is intent on proceeding in this fashion and our attempt to improve it slightly, we thought, fell on deaf ears and there isn't an awful lot that I or my colleagues are able to do about it.

I think we will rue the day that this change was made, frankly, I think it is a very, very questionable practice to have the Cabinet of the day decide what orders or what boards and tribunals are going to be enforced in the manner of Supreme Court Decisions and I think that is not the right place for those decisions to be taken at all. It certainly is not the right result to make it possible for any Cabinet of any day to make those decisions retroactively.

[Page 2694]

I think we are going to run into real difficulties with this aspect of the legislation. I am most disappointed that it is there and truly hope that the minister would be prepared to consider, with his colleagues and with his staff, the implications of what this will do and, perhaps, be prepared when we meet again, in the spring, to come forward with some refinement that would greatly improve what I think is very much a flawed piece of legislation. Thank you.

[3:30 p.m.]

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I don't always agree with the previous speaker, but listening as intently as I could to his words this afternoon, I think that the member is bang on. I have to say that I echo the concerns and the questions that have been raised by the former speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the bill that we have before us, and I think it is important that we put some of this on the record because all of the comments, all of the things that we have said during the Committee of Whole House on Bills stage, there is no record of any of that in terms of a written record. I think that it is very important that we do put on the record, in a formal way, those concerns we have with a particular piece of legislation.

One of the things that I want to put on the record in the very beginning, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that some of these issues, some of the concerns that were raised during the Committee of the Whole House on Bills stage, the minister indicated that he would be addressing those when he wrapped up. I did not hear those concerns being addressed when the minister wrapped up during the Committee of the Whole House on Bills stage, so I sincerely hope that this afternoon, when the minister does finally wrap up debate on third reading of this bill, that he will stand in his place in this House and, into the public record, give an explanation for some of the amendments and changes that he sprung on us at the eleventh hour, as we were starting to consider this bill in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills stage.

This legislation is indeed an extremely complicated omnibus bill, as this legislation amends 18 Acts in the Province of Nova Scotia; 18 individual pieces of legislation are being amended by this: the Regulation Act, the Corporations Registrations Act, the Court Reporters Act, the Family Court Act, the Judicature Act, the Juries Act, the Land Actions Venue Act, the Overholding Tenants Act, the Probate Act, the Prothonotaries and Clerks of the Crown Act, the Public Offices and Officers Act, the Provincial Court Act, the Rural Fire District Act, the Sheriffs Act, the Small Claims Court Act, the Solemnization of Marriage Act, the Summary Proceedings Act, and the Village Service Act. I may have missed one or two as I was trying to list them all. The reason why I just simply read them all, mentioned them, is that what we are dealing with is a piece of legislation here that has far-reaching implications for

[Page 2695]

many of the Acts, many of the laws, many of the practices here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

I was, therefore, very disappointed when, after we had debated this in the second reading, when we had this appear before the Law Amendments Committee - which is a procedure that is pretty well unique in the country, where the citizens, those who have issues, those who have concerns about legislation will have an opportunity to appear before the committee to make their concerns known - after all of that, the minister, here on the floor of the House, without giving any advance warning, without letting the general public or members of the Opposition know that he intended to bring forward additional amendments, springs them on us, and they are sprung, Mr. Speaker, I don't recall the kind of things that the minister brought forward here, having been even recommended or discussed in the Law Amendments Committee process, so, therefore I think that the minister has an explanation to do. He has to explain why it is that he is bringing forward the additional amendments and why he did not share his thoughts with the general public and with all those who are charged with making decisions on the legislation that he is bringing forward.

One of the items that I want to talk about, briefly, an important principle, has to do with giving government the power to authorize boards, tribunals or commissions, to have their rulings be enforceable exactly the same as if they are an order of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. Now that was in the original legislation. As it appeared in the original legislation, that would mean that the Cabinet would have to have made a motion, passed an Order in Council and then after that order had been passed that would then become binding or would give them the authority to do that for future situations.

What the minister has said now, with this amendment, and I confess, particularly one situation, and my remarks, as indicated in my initial comments - if there was a record of it in Committee of the Whole House - I said that I had some sympathy with what the government may be trying to do, and particularly with one situation. What I am referring to is a situation where the Human Rights Commission ordered that IMP provide sensitivity training their workforce. Despite that order having been upheld by the courts, IMP refused to pay for that sensitivity training. As a consequence, the Human Rights Commission felt compelled to say that they would pay for it themselves.

Madam Speaker, I think it is important that we all recognize that Cabinet decisions are made behind a veil of secrecy, down in the Cabinet Room where there is no public discussion and public input is not permitted; the Cabinet now can make decisions, make orders that are binding upon the people of the province. Many people in Nova Scotia think that most decisions are made by the full elected body, by the Legislature. Maybe in civics classes it could become mandatory, for those who teach about the democratic process, one of the things that could be taught to the children in the schools, and through that educated through to the general public, is that now so many of the decisions are not being made in a democratic forum but they are actually being made by a small handful of individuals in secret in the

[Page 2696]

Cabinet Room where documents and reasons why they make those decisions are held in the strictest of confidence and where you can't even get access to the information through the Freedom of Information Act.

The Cabinet will have the decision, if this passes, to declare that not only the Human Rights Commission, Madam Speaker, but any one of the approximately 80 or more boards, agencies or tribunals, any one of them - whether that be the Dairy Commission, one of the agricultural boards, you name it - that any decision that has been made by those bodies can be now enforceable retroactively. So if a decision was made 5 years ago or 10 years ago, or 2 years ago, there is no time limit in these stipulations; any ruling, any order of any of those boards or tribunals, the way this legislation is written - if the Cabinet decides that those boards, agencies and commissions shall have this power - can be enforced as if they are a Supreme Court order. That's pretty heavy-handed.

We asked, we encouraged, we needled, we begged, you name it; we did it on the Opposition benches, trying to get the minister to get on his feet during the Committee of the Whole House stage, to give an explanation, to tell us what is meant by this. Does the government have certain agencies, boards or commissions that it intends to give this power to and, if so, which ones? What controls, what time-frames, what restrictions are going to be placed on those?

Madam Speaker, true to form the answer we got was stone silence. I guess the attitude is that if we don't say anything then we can't be held accountable, we can just go on our merry old way and we treat the Legislature, we see it having to go to the House of Assembly as sort of a necessary inconvenience; it is something imposed on us by the law and maybe some members of the government benches, if they were able to do it, would even get rid of that inconvenience and would ignore us altogether, which they basically do with resolutions that are passed in here, when they get unanimous consent that is two of them in a row that have been passed, one each week now for the last two weeks.

The government's response is, well, just because everybody in the Legislature said they support it, that doesn't mean we have to obey it so we will ignore it. (Interruption) Yes, they did say that in the Chamber a number of years ago, they treated it the same way, yes. I won't go into that one because that might be considered to be unparliamentary and I would be off the topic, Madam Speaker. I see you smiling at me like you are being off the topic sort of look in your eye. I catch that expression on your face, Madam Speaker, so I will come back.

MADAM SPEAKER: It's all in the look, I don't even have to say it.

MR. HOLM: I think we are, in fact I know we are, dealing here with an extremely important and far-reaching public policy issue; where or what authority, if any, does this Chamber have, the elected representatives, and what powers are the government going to be taking unto itself, if they are of the view that they can go in secret, down in their bunker,

[Page 2697]

behind the red curtain of the Liberal Cabinet Room, make an order that says that any particular board's decision, even if that was taken 5, 10, 15, 20 or more years ago, can be enforced, then, Madam Speaker, where will they go next?

If the government has clear intentions, if the government has particular boards, agencies, commissions in mind, then, Madam Speaker, they should have brought in legislation to amend those particular Acts, like the Human Rights Act. They should have brought in amendments to change that. I guarantee you that if the government brought forward an amendment to the Human Rights Act that said that orders of that commission, where they were violated, as appears to have been the case with IMP, that they are enforceable, the same as a Supreme Court order, I would have no hesitation in saying that I support it. The taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for that but, rather, the company that was found at fault should pay that. But that is not what this legislation does, that is not what this clause does. It gives them carte blanche power, compete and total, absolute power. I believe that is wrong.

Some boards and commissions already, according to the Statutes, according to their legislation, have the power to have their orders enforced, the same as a Supreme Court Act. If the government has it in mind that they want to give certain boards, agencies and commissions that power, why didn't they bring in a piece of legislation that simply amends those particular legislations that affect or govern those boards, agencies and commissions identify the specific ones, and then say that orders of those boards, agencies and commissions will have this power. Then there can be a public debate. Then you can have reasoned decisions. Then you can look at them on the basis of merit.

[3:45 p.m.]

Here it is the same thing. What is more ludicrous than this? Here we have the situation where the Liberals are saying, trust us. Trust us, they say. You know we will do right. Yes, trust us, Nova Scotians. We will not do anything that is contrary to your wishes or to your well being. All you have to do, Madam Speaker, is look at the casinos, look at the BST, look at the no new taxes, look at all the commitments that were made. You know, you can clearly and easily understand why the vast majority of Nova Scotians say that they do not trust this Liberal Government. Here this government is saying trust us yet again so we can make these decisions, but we will not even have to bring them to the floor of the House. We will make them in total absolute secrecy down in our bunker, in the Cabinet Chambers, out of the public scrutiny, out of the public view, where we cannot even be required to give to the public those documents, those bits of information, upon which we made our decision because that is Cabinet confidentiality. So those records are sealed.

I think that is an extremely bad piece of public policy and it certainly, I believe, flies in the face of the principles of democracy - the democratic principles that we are all elected to withhold. Of course, I am saying all of this, Madam Speaker, and anybody who may listen has

[Page 2698]

heard what I have to say about how the government is acting or read what I had to say, their reaction is going to be, so what is the surprise. What do you expect from the Liberal Government? We have seen what they have done in all the other areas over the past three and a half years so this is just being consistent with their practices. I would hope that as a government - although I know it is not happening - is moving closer to the polls and their date with history that they would begin to realize that their arrogance is wearing a little bit thin. The people want to have some answers and some accountability.

I also, Madam Speaker, truthfully as did the previous speaker, have some concerns with the amendments that were made, again by the minister, in the Committee of the Whole stage, where the minister now has the power to establish whatever he or she considers - whoever happens to be in that position at a given time - what will be the justice centres in each judicial district. One of the things that we have been seeing is consistently year after year the death of small rural communities from one cut after another cut after another cut as services are being deleted and removed from those communities. First the Tories started to abandon communities by removing rail service which made many of those communities less economically viable. After they had taken the mail service off they took off the passenger service and then, in many cases, the rail service. It is all relevant to the point I am coming to, Madam Speaker. I will tie them in together in just a moment.

Then we saw cuts to government offices, whether they be Registry of Deeds, Department of Housing offices, post offices and so on, Madam Speaker. Now one more service in a lot of those rural communities is being removed - has the potential of being removed - here by the minister by establishing the justice centres and therefore moving them out from any of the rural areas and concentrating them in certain central regions which will, of course, make it that much more difficult for many to be able to gain timely and appropriate access to the court system, to the registries, and so on, that they may need.

As those justice centres are being concentrated so too will those who serve the justice system. The lawyers, the solicitors, will also be forced to leave those communities, to move and to concentrate, to centralize where those justice centres are located, because they have to be there in order to be able to go in and out of the courts. This means, of course, that many of those lawyers, with their better than average salaries, will be moved out of the rural communities to centralize in certain areas. It is just one more cut in the many cuts that have been inflicted upon rural Nova Scotia lo these many years of Liberal and Tory assault on rural life here in this province and across the country.

There are some provisions in this bill that are supportable but there are a couple of others that certainly are not. I don't believe that it is good legislation to bring in a bill in such a manner which is amending so many different pieces of legislation all at once. It is convenient for the government when the government's primary preoccupation is to get in and out as fast as humanly possible from the Legislature.

[Page 2699]

Every day that they are in here it seems to be one more embarrassment. There is one more question that is asked that of course they are unable to answer; one more black eye, they feel like. It is amazing when you are being held accountable, not surprising though, when somebody is trying to hold you accountable, and you have been giving such poor leadership and government in the Province of Nova Scotia, that there is a great deal to be held accountable for. Therefore, the government wants to get out of here as fast as humanly possible. That is why they employ many of the tricks that they do, like this one.

Instead of bringing in a number of pieces of legislation that would deal with each or a smaller group of the bills that are being amended in a proper manner, you get one omnibus bill amending 18 pieces of legislation. That is not, I would suggest, the best way or an appropriate way for us to be doing the business, on behalf of the people in this province, here in the House of Assembly.

With those few comments, Madam Speaker, I will take my seat and I look forward with great interest to the minister rising in his place to explain the provisions and in particular who he intends Clause 5 now, as amended to make it retroactive, is going to deal with.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Madam Speaker, this is a bill which will pass through this place and probably catch little notice from most Nova Scotians, although I anticipate that if we see an implosion of court districts, courthouses, court facilities and associated agencies into a very few centres, the people in our communities will come to sense and to understand that a very deep and a very profound change has occurred in our communities.

I listened to the words of my colleague who just spoke, and listened to them with some degree of interest. There is no doubt that there was a move afoot when we formed the government, as a response to the commission which was established by our government, to move certain administrative arrangements into centres and away from the peripheries. I must say that I fought that tendency, fought it long and hard and quite successfully, understanding that the central importance to our rural and small town communities of having the administration of Justice continued to be meted out within them and not at some place far distant from them.

I think it may be very difficult for a person who has always lived, always practised, always worked in a metropolitan area to understand the importance of that to the smaller communities, but it is important nonetheless.

I am very disappointed that the minister has not been specific with respect to what he intends that this legislation should do. He has given a very broad mandate and, yet, has not given us, with any degree of specificity, an indication of what he and the government, of which he is part, intends to do with respect to the creation of judicial centres. I would hope

[Page 2700]

that on third reading he will make that information available, not to us, because if he so chooses, he can ignore us, but make it available to the citizens of this province who have every right to understand the magnitude of the changes that are potentially encompassed within this bill, and to understand where it is this minister and this government intends to take the administration of justice insofar as its administration, and the geographic location of those administrative centres throughout Nova Scotia. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister, it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAY ABBASS: Madam Speaker, there is no question that this bill is omnibus in its nature. One clause that has come up for debate and question on the part of the members opposite is Clause 5 of the bill. That clause is designed to give teeth to the orders issued by public tribunals, where there are no enforcement divisions in the Statutes that those bodies are operating under. In such situations, some persons openly flout the orders made against them by the public bodies and those public bodies are powerless to enforce their orders. It is not, obviously, in the public's interest that a properly constituted statutory tribunal can make an order against a person that is in breach of a Statute, yet that person can completely ignore the order.

In cases where a body does not have statutory enforcement powers, the Governor in Council will be able to pass a regulation providing that an order of the specific board, tribunal or commission may be filed and enforced in the same manner as an order of the Supreme Court. This power, of course, does appear in various Statutes in this province, Madam Speaker.

It has been apparent for some time that orders of boards such as the Labour Relations Board can be ignored by the parties against whom they are directed. The suggestion, in fact, for this provision originated with the Department of Labour, not the Human Rights Commission, which had found, in various cases, such as the Future Inns case, that they had difficulty with enforcing their order. In that particular case, that of the Future Inns, a hotel employer ignored a Labour Relations Board ruling reinstating a group of chambermaids and the board had little ability to enforce its orders effectively.

The wording of Clause 5 is very broad and it is intended to be applicable to any board, tribunal or commission operating under a Nova Scotia Statute that does not have sufficient enforcement powers already provided in the governing legislation. Accordingly, it may be of use to the Human Rights Commission in enforcing its orders. It is important to note, for instance, in the Future Inns case, in fact, it is the labour side, the union side, that had been stymied to a certain extent in its attempts to have the order of the Labour Relations Board observed and acted upon by the employer in that case.

[Page 2701]

Clause 6, meanwhile, is a general regulation-making power that permits regulations that may be necessary to Clause 2 through Clause 5 of the bill.

MADAM SPEAKER: Could you pardon me, Mr. Minister. The member for Halifax Citadel . . .

MR. ABBASS: Not at the present moment, but I would be happy to hear whatever he has to say afterwards.

MADAM SPEAKER: Are you posing a question or are you making an introduction?

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: I was hoping the minister might be prepared to take a question.

MR. ABBASS: I would be happy if the member wishes to speak afterward, at your pleasure.

MADAM SPEAKER: At the end of your wrap-up?

MR. ABBASS: I would wish to speak and finish my comments.

MADAM SPEAKER: So you are not prepared to be interrupted at this time?

MR. ABBASS: Not at this time, anyway.

MR. DONAHOE: I guess that effectively cuts me off because this closes the debate, if we are following the rules.

AN HON. MEMBER: He knows that.

MR. ABBASS: These are general regulation-making powers found in most Statutes, to give effect to the intent of the provisions of these Statutes. At your pleasure or not, Madam Speaker, the member can rise or not. I will move third reading when you direct.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading. You have indicated you are willing to accept a question of the member, as I understand it?

MR. ABBASS: No, I am prepared to move third and final reading of the bill, I am not prepared to . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you. The motion is for third reading of the bill. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 2702]

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

[4:00 p.m.]

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 14.

Bill No. 14 - Occupiers' Liability Act.

HON. JAY ABBASS: Madam Speaker, I will be pleased to move third reading of this particular bill, the Occupiers' Liability Act, Bill No. 14, following interventions by members opposite.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I promise I won't detain the House unduly long. I just was a little bit concerned, and maybe when he closes the minister might address an issue which I did raise in an earlier stage of debate. I was struck that the definition of premises includes ships and vessels and then later it includes, railway cars, vehicles and aircraft but, in relation to those last three it says, ". . . except while in operation.". I was curious as to why that same except while in operation clause was not referenced in relation to ships and vessels.

I know the minister the other day made some response to this particular issue, Madam Speaker, but I am not really sure that I found it as wholesome and as helpful as I had hoped it might be. We have a principle in this legislation which is now before us on third reading that, "A person who is on premises without the permission of the occupier for the purpose of committing an offence against the person or the right of property contrary to the Criminal Code (Canada) is deemed to have willingly assumed all risks and the duty of care created by subsection (1) applies.".

I gather that there was some kind of a policy decision taken that the reference would be Criminal Code of Canada but I am not really sure I understand entirely the logic or rationale which supports the policy decision which was taken as to why it is not equally important that quasi-criminal provisions in certain provincial legislation might have been characterized in the same fashion as are offences contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada.

[Page 2703]

There are a number of provisions under quite a range of provincial legislation which have penalty provisions and quasi-criminal considerations and implications. I find it interesting that this legislation restricts the duty of care created by Subsection (1) applying only in those cases where it can be shown by appropriate evidence that the person who is on the premises without the permission of the occupier is there with a view to conducting himself or herself in such a way as to contravene the Criminal Code of Canada. I really would appreciate, for the record, if the minister might be prepared to explain one more time just why it is that the policy decision which apparently was taken to exclude reference to provincial legislation was, in fact, undertaken.

The legislation further has some provisions about what happens, Clause 9(1), "Where under a lease of premises a landlord is responsible for the maintenance or repair of the premises, the landlord owes the same duty to each person entering on the premises as is owed by the occupier of the premises. (2) Where premises are sublet, . . ." that obligation on the landlord ". . . applies to any landlord who is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the premises. (3) Nothing in this Act relieves a landlord of any duty imposed on landlords by any law.". But, I guess, I would be curious about and I did ask and I am not sure that I got an answer from the minister, but would appreciate it he would be prepared to do that for me, I am referencing Clause 9 and I am wondering if the minister might be able to indicate to me whether or not the language in Clause 9 means, as an example, that if the tenant has a hazardous condition or circumstance in his or her apartment or leased premises, of which the landlord has no knowledge, is the landlord liable in those circumstances? The references to what seems to implicate the landlord applies to any landlord; ". . . a landlord is responsible for the maintenance or repair . . . the landlord owes the same duty to each person entering the premises as is owed by the occupier . . .".

I would expect that there are any number of circumstances where a landlord would have that duty of repair and maintenance, but through no fault of his own, and not on the basis of any lack of interest or effort and certainly not the basis of any negligent conduct could find himself or herself in the situation where the lessee has established a situation of a hazardous nature or condition in the premises. I am very much concerned that the language in Clause 9 might sweep up the landlord into an element or realm of legal responsibility which, frankly he or she, in my view at least should not be required to face.

I raised a question and concern again, about the fact that we carry on in the bill and we find that, Clause 11(1), ". . . this Act is binding on Her Majesty in right of the Province and in right of Canada.". Then we read that there is a little caveat to that. Clause 11(2), "This Act does not apply to Her Majesty in right of the Province or in right of Canada as the occupier of (a) a public highway or a public road; (b) drainage works; or (c ) a river, stream, watercourse, lake or other body of water except those areas thereof that have been specially developed by Her Majesty for recreational swimming or for the launching and landing of boats.".

[Page 2704]

The real problem I have with that is that on the one hand the bill says that the Crown is bound by the legislation. Then it says that it is not in relation to public highways or public roads. I have used in discussion of this bill the example, again, of any one of us driving down a public road owned, operated and maintained by Her Majesty in right of the Province. Without any appropriate markings there is a major cut or culvert or ditch across the middle of the highway of some size and consequence and somebody drives their car through and into and down that culvert, cut, ditch or whatever across the middle of the roadway. Yet this piece of legislation which purports to be an Act Respecting the Liability of Owners and Other Occupiers of Land and Other Premises does not apply.

I think the minister has suggested in the past that in those circumstances we go back to provisions in the Motor Vehicle Act and, otherwise, I would like very much if he might be prepared to cite me some of the relevant legislation to which we would turn or my hypothetical motor vehicle operator might turn in the event that that kind of circumstance was to be confronted and in a situation where my hypothetical driver, his vehicle or perhaps his passengers, might have been hurt in that situation.

I am then intrigued that the legislation goes on to define highway meaning a public road or street; a municipality as a regional municipality, incorporated town, or a municipality of a county or district. Then it goes on to say that the bill doesn't apply to a municipality as the occupier of a highway, public walkway or public sidewalk. What I find interesting about that is there are by-laws in this regional municipality in which many of us in this place live, and in which I happen to live, there is a by-law that says that if I own a property and I have a sidewalk out in front of my property and I fail or refuse to keep it clean of ice, snow and winter hazard and if you, Madam Speaker, were to walk along in front of that property, slip on the ice or whatever . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, I have had this reference before. I hope there is no wishful thinking in this. A couple of bills ago you talked about me slipping on the ice too. (Laughter)

MR. DONAHOE: It is clear, Madam Speaker, that you are paying attention to me and because none of the members in this place would want to see such a tragedy befall you, I wanted to use you as the potential person being injured, which none of the members present would want to have happen. So, as to underscore the point that I am attempting to make, that people of your stature, importance and ability, if I don't keep my sidewalk clean and you do fall and you are injured then, as the owner of the property abutted by this piece of sidewalk, I end up potentially experiencing very real liability and responsibility to you.

Let's just stay with you, Madam Speaker, on this winter day. You go down the street and as you would expect would be the case, you get by my property which would be well shovelled, sanded, de-iced and there would be no difficulty, but if you walked down the street and you read this legislation, you will find this bill doesn't apply to a municipality as the

[Page 2705]

occupier of a highway, public walkway, or public sidewalk. So the private citizen, I believe I read this correctly, has the potential to face negligence in the example that I am now making. If you walk a little farther down the street and it happens to be a public building owned by the local municipality and they have not, for some reason or other, cleaned the sidewalk, got the ice off it, got a little salt or sand down, made it safe for passage for you and others and you happen to fall on a piece of ice and are hurt, I find that the legislation says, I am sorry, but Clause 12(2) of this particular piece of legislation says that the Act doesn't apply to a municipality as the occupier of a highway, public walkway, or public sidewalk.

With the greatest respect, why are we passing a piece of legislation which potentially imposes the likelihood of being found to owe damages in negligence on the part of the private citizen and yet we allow the municipal units of the province, who have greater resources, I might say, than many - perhaps not all but many private citizens - to ensure that they clean their sidewalks and they salt them and sand them and make sure they are safe for the travelling public. I find that rather a double standard, to say the least. I would be curious if the minister, when he closes, might be kind enough to explain why it is that the private citizen faces the potential liability and yet the municipal unit does not.

[4:15 p.m.]

So with those remarks, Madam Speaker, and in the hope that the minister would be able and prepared to react and respond to a couple of the observations and questions which I have made, I will leave it at that. I think there are a couple of important improvements brought about by this legislation but, as I have said, I think there are a couple of areas which, again, are a little bit problematic. If I had some words of clarification from the minister, perhaps some of those concerns might well be allayed. So I will leave it at that and I look forward to others contributing to the debate on the bill. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to make a few comments on third reading of Bill No. 14, An Act Respecting the Liability of Owners and Other Occupiers of Land and Other Premises. As I look through the bill again I can't help but think of the old adage and what people say sometimes, that you can't beat government, government always takes care of themselves.

When I take a look at the legislation before us, and I freely acknowledge that there are parts of the legislation that I think are very important improvements, in terms of more clearly laying out the responsibilities and duties of a landowner and also making it much more clear that those who are trespassing, particularly those who are trespassing for purposes of committing an offence, that they are assuming risks when they are doing that. Therefore, unless it can be shown by probability that the injuries or whatever that they suffered as a result

[Page 2706]

were as a consequence of inappropriate actions taken by the landowner, I think that those kinds of things are good.

But, Madam Speaker, I also get the very real sense that what we have before us is a piece of legislation that is setting up very clear double standards, very definite double standards, double standards here where the government is saying that all of these wise and wonderful things about how those who are in the private sector, their roles and responsibilities, their duties and obligations and their liabilities, but then turns around and says, but after we said all of those good things, after we said all the things that property owners must do, they turn around and say but, of course, we exempt ourselves. We are above this, we don't have to set the same standards or degree of responsibility for ourselves that we are prepared to set for those in the private sector.

For example, Madam Speaker, this bill is supposedly binding on Her Majesty in right of the Province and in right of Canada. So the first part of Clause 11 says that subsection (2) of this Act is binding on the province. But then it goes on to Clause 11(2) and these are where it puts in the clarifications and here it is saying that it doesn't apply to Her Majesty in certain areas, whether Her Majesty be in the province or in right of Canada, the Government of Canada, a public highway or a public road.

Madam Speaker, the way this legislation reads now, what the government is saying is that if a person is injured, if a person's property is damaged as a result of negligence on behalf of the government on a public highway or a public road, that the government cannot be held liable for that.

That is going a step further than it used to be. I, as I am sure most members of this House, especially those who have had roads that are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation in their constituencies, in the past have tried to intercede on behalf of people who have had vehicle damage as a result of hitting that huge pothole in the middle of a road. Sometimes vehicles have been very severely damaged, sometimes they have been sent off the road. Generally speaking, you have no success in getting any compensation for those whose vehicles are damaged as a result of hitting a pothole or a cut or a break in the road or a road that was washed out.

However, if, and it has happened on a number of occasions, it can be shown that the government or the department knew about the problem and did nothing to correct that problem, that they have been notified and that they had time to make the appropriate corrections or repairs, or to put up the appropriate signage, if they failed to do that, then, in some cases, people were able to get the compensation or repairs done on their motor vehicles.

According to this legislation, even that avenue is now closed because the government is saying, quite clearly, we are not liable. Presumably, this will even apply to the new Highway No. 104 western alignment. It does not apply for drainage works, "a river, stream,

[Page 2707]

watercourse, lake or other body of water except those areas thereof that have been specifically developed by Her Majesty for recreational swimming or for the launching and landing of boats.". So, Madam Speaker, it is only applying to those very specific areas. A private property owner, if they are not taking the appropriate precautions, maybe that could be signage, it could be a number of things, they could be held liable, but not the Government of Nova Scotia because it does not apply.

We all saw, year after year, municipalities introducing legislation and it gets a little tiresome. The legislation was being introduced and it would say that municipalities cannot be sued or cannot be held liable if there was damage to properties as a result of a broken sewer line or broken water line. Municipality after municipality was introducing this kind of amendment and was getting the support of the former Tory Government and then, under the Liberal Government they were getting it as well. So the minister brought in an amendment which overrode and gave it to them all.

Madam Speaker, again, we are saying in this clause that "'highway' includes any public road or street; 'municipality' means a regional municipality, incorporated town or a municipality or a county or district.". This bill does not apply to a municipality as an occupier of a highway, public walkway and so on. The way that I read that would mean that, indeed, as a former speaker had said, that what we are again setting up here are double standards. That a person who is a home owner or a business, if they have responsibility or liability for keeping their sidewalk clear, keeping it safe, for example, in front of their property and for which they can face a fine if they do not do it, but if somebody becomes injured because of the failure of that property owner to properly maintain it, then that property owner can be held liable. However, if you go 20 feet and you come across a section of sidewalk which has not been maintained by the municipality, that municipality is exempt. They cannot be held liable. That is a very definite double standards.

Madam Speaker, I would have thought that the government should be leading by example rather than trying to exempt themselves from having to obey an equal degree of accountability. It goes on to say in the bill that. "Sections 5 through 9 do not apply to or affect (a) the liability or duties of an employer to employees of the employer; (b) the liability or duties of any person arising under a contract for the hire of, or for the carriage for reward of persons or property in any vehicle, vessel, aircraft or other means of transportation; (c) the liability or duties of any person under the Tourism Accommodation Act;" and so on.

So Sections 5 through 9, which place requirements for due diligence and so on on the general public, to ensure that if the public is travelling on them that they properly maintain and they do not allow neglect to occur that could result in harm or damage or injury. Here it is saying that those liabilities or duties of an employer to employee are not affected by this. It just seems to me that, again, Madam Speaker, we may be setting up legislation that is certainly not providing the kind of protection, in fact may be going against the protection that workers need and deserve. I know that there is occupational health and safety legislation. This

[Page 2708]

certainly does not override the occupational health and safety rules, but it seems, certainly on the face of it, that this would be going contrary to the spirit of the occupational health and safety legislation that we have in the province.

So as I say, there are some aspects of the bill that are very supportable, but those which are setting up double standards, exempting the government from at least an equal, and in fact I would argue superior degree of responsibility and accountability, or I should say a higher degree than it is imposing upon the private sector, in that regard, this bill is sadly lacking.

MADAM SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Justice, it is to close debate.

HON. JAY ABBASS: I am happy to say a few words, Madam Speaker, on the bill.

One member opposite feels or has concerns that the deemed acceptance of the risks for a person on the premises to commit a "criminal" act should include provincial offences, and I would like to address that, Madam Speaker. A great deal of consideration was given to this and a policy decision was made that the use of Criminal Code offences encompasses those situations in which an offender would be doing something against the person or the property of a landowner. To include provincial offences would be to open the door to negligent landowners to attempt to assert that people who are injured due to the landowner's negligence might have been in breach of some minor provision of a provincial Statute such as a hunting regulation. Such a breach of a provincial Statute could be totally innocent, vis-à-vis the landowner, and should not absolve the landowner, from liability for negligence; that is, a breach of the duty of care.

Another member felt that the provision allowing a person to sue a landlord directly for damages sustained while the plaintiff was visiting a tenant would open the door to suits in which landlords could be sued for dangerous conditions created in the leasehold property by a tenant, and of which the landlord has no or had no control or knowledge. That is incorrect; the courts can only find the landlord negligent for matters the landlord is actually responsible for. Under existing provincial legislation, it is an implied term of every lease that the landlord is responsible for maintenance and repair - I underline those two words: maintenance and repair - of the leasehold property. A plaintiff still has to prove that their injuries were a result of a breach of that duty by the landlord. In other words, the section does not provide increased liability for any landlord, it only removes a procedural barrier in cases in which the plaintiff has an action arising from the liability of that landlord.

At least two members opposite were concerned about the exemption of the Crown and municipalities from this bill. The rationale for the exclusions was that the Crown is already governed by other Statute law and the common law in relation to those specific activities. For example, in the case of Swinamer vs Nova Scotia, the Supreme Court of Canada discussed Tort Law and specifically the duty of care owed by the governments and the government's

[Page 2709]

liability for maintenance of highways. The Court considered, "the liability of governmental agencies in Tort". In the Common Law the distinction between "invitee, licensee and trespasser" does not have the same relevance to public highways.

[4:30 p.m.]

For example, the idea that the Crown could have defended against an action founded in negligent highway maintenance on the basis that the injured person was a "trespasser" on the public highway would be ludicrous. There is a general common law duty of care owed to users of highways by the Crown and that is acknowledged. The Supreme Court of Canada has held that once the Crown has built highways, a duty of care is created to maintain those highways with due care, then the proceedings against the Crown Act applies.

Madam Speaker, I would move third and final reading of the bill. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 14. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 28.

Bill No. 28 - Motor Vehicle Act.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Madam Speaker, I so move third reading of Bill No. 28.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: A couple of words to make sure that I put on the public record what I said during the Committee of the Whole House on Bills stage. It may not come as any surprise to the minister, I am sure it won't, that there are certain aspects of the bill that I very much support. I certainly very much support the provisions that are contained and this legislation, of course, contains a number of principles and I want to talk to the two of them. One, of course, would say that the Registry of Motor Vehicle can require that a person whose license has been suspended - and this would, of course, deal with impaired driving sections - to participate in alcoholic rehabilitation programs before that person's license is reinstated.

[Page 2710]

As we move towards the holiday, festive season and I do not know if statistics would now bear it out or not, but it certainly in the past has been a season where it was a time when many people, I should not say many, but the numbers of those who were driving impaired had increased that I have to say that I very much support this provision. We are fortunate that we have in Nova Scotia groups like MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, who are also continuing this battle through the red ribbon campaign and other means to keep this issue before the public attention and public awareness. Those who certainly are placing, not only their own, but others' lives at risk by driving while under the influence of alcohol and when they are caught I think that it is reasonable to suggest if there is evidence that they do have a consumption problem, an abuse problem with alcohol that they could be required to take part in a rehabilitation program before their licence is reinstated.

After all, driving is a not a right. Many of us think that it is a right or now treat it as a right, but in fact it is a privilege and it is a privilege that we hold so long as we hold and live up to our responsibilities under that privilege. One of those principal responsibilities is not to place others at risk. Certainly, another section would say that there could be a requirement for an interview by trained professionals within the Drug Dependency Services Section of the Department of Health before a person whose license has been revoked on more than one occasion for this. Again, that is certainly a very supportable provision.

The one clause of the bill that I do have some difficulty with, Madam Speaker, and the motivation behind it is quite easy to understand, is the, some might call it a bribe, but I better not call it a bribe because I used that term in another context and it was suggested that that might not be the most parliamentary term to use, so I will substitute another word that has the same connotation. How about an unsolicited reward being offered where they are giving the minister or giving the government the ability to increase the speed limit on certain roads up to 110 kilometres an hour. This really is the Highway No. 104 western alignment provision of this bill. That is what this is all about, no question about it.

Madam Speaker, with or without a change in the speed limit, the western alignment route will be faster than the old route through the Wentworth Valley. That is obvious because the new route is 46 kilometres long, the old route is 58 kilometres long. So, obviously, it is going to be automatically faster whether it is 100 kilometres an hour or 110 kilometres an hour. But you know the government is very concerned about the resistance. Many people are still, if I put it politely, not too impressed with the antics of this government when they decided to impose restrictions on the other route in an attempt to force vehicles up into this new road so that they can get increased toll revenues, more loonies and toonies flowing into the toll booth to pay for the much higher cost that it is going to cost to build this road as a public-private partnering.

Madam Speaker, I have said it on the floor of this House I don't know how many times, if I have said it a dozen, I have probably said it 100 times and I will say it again, that I firmly believe that the Highway No. 104 western alignment route, because of the public-private

[Page 2711]

partnering approach that has been taken, is going to cost users in Nova Scotia approximately $60 million more over the 30 year lifespan of that highway the tolls will be charged than if the government built it itself using an equal playing field, the same time-frame and so on. If the government built it under the same terms and conditions that they are saying to the private sector, that road, I believe, would cost about $60 million less in interest payments over the life of that road. I have put that out there enough times and I have yet to have anybody ever come back and dispute it, anybody ever come back to put any information, any data, any details about the financing of that road on the table that would show that what I am suggesting is not correct. We all know that governments can borrow money at least 2 per cent less than the private sector and, therefore, if they can borrow it at a lower cost then, in fact, we will save money.

There are some people on the government benches who would say, well, so what, but then you have to borrow money and we want to pretend. Let's play a shell game. Let's pretend that $60 million is not going to be paid by Nova Scotians because it is not going to appear on our books. It will appear on somebody else's books, not ours. Nova Scotians are smarter than that. Every time they pull up to that toll booth and throw their loonie and their toonie in, they know that they are paying that loonie and toonie because the Government of Nova Scotia said that they are going to. You know, Madam Speaker, if the government, even if they want to charge tolls, and here is one of the most offensive things, if the government said that we can't afford to build that on our own and tolls will have to be charged, if the government charges a toll and manages it themselves, then get away with about $60 million less than Nova Scotians would be putting in, and it may be higher than that.

It is not as if this road is going to be maintained to some miraculously higher standard; the road is going to be maintained by the Department of Transportation to Department of Transportation standards. So any Nova Scotian who was thinking, well, I am going to be driving down that road and, all of a sudden, I am going to go over the roads with the potholes and the minefields and the craters that we see every year. But then we are going to hit this Highway No. 104 western alignment, this extension, where, all of a sudden, we are allowed to put the pedal to the metal that much more, and we are going to hit that smooth sheet of asphalt; the Department of Transportation standards, Madam Speaker.

The provisions also provide that those tolls can be increased, and all they need is the approval of the Cabinet down in the bunker room, the Cabinet Room. Every year they can crank them up.

Anyway, the government is still concerned that not enough vehicles will use that road. So what do they do? They turn around and say, well, we want to make sure that it is completely inconvenient for anybody to use the old road; we are going to lower the speed limit on the existing highway, drop it down to 80 kilometres, not just on those sections that are the most unsafe but we are going to drop the speed limit along the whole route. Then we

[Page 2712]

will crank up the speed limit and allow people to go even faster on this new Highway No. 104 section.

Madam Speaker, I am sure you know that the route they built this road on, after they got over the minefields that were there, the old mine shafts - that is another issue for another day and there are issues still before the courts on that - the route is 250 feet higher than the highest portion of the current road. It is subject to fog and white-outs. Even those who live in the area and know the area say even more so than the existing road, because it is closer to Minas Basin. But despite those things, the government says that people can drive faster; they can put the pedal to the metal and go 110 kilometres instead of 100 kilometres.

The government is encouraging people to speed, to reduce fuel economy, to increase pollution and also increase safety factor risks. For what? Travelling that distance, the 46 kilometres, at 100 kilometres an hour will take you two minutes longer than it would if you cruised evenly at 110 kilometres. (Interruption) Yes, the minister couldn't even begin to drink half a cup of coffee in the amount of time that people will save on that route, Madam Speaker.

[4:45 p.m.]

I am afraid that that provision is just completely unacceptable. It is not too late for the minister, the minister can still have a change of heart, he can still see the light. He can still stand up and, in a very reasoned way, say that I have trouble - his colleagues have done it in the Committee of the Whole House stage. They come in at the last moment and they announce that they want to change the legislation. The minister could come in and say that he doesn't like Clause 3 in this bill, he thinks that it is an unnecessary safety risk and that the benefits of having people putting the pedal to the metal a little bit harder, those benefits don't outweigh the adverse increased safety risks that will be created. He might therefore in a moment of wisdom say that he will ask that that bill go back to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills stage so that clause can be deleted. If he does that the minister will be showing a rare example of leadership in this House. Hopefully, the minister will be prepared to do that.

Certainly, another provision in the bill which is going to give a peace officer the ability to stop and detain commercial motor vehicles to determine if those vehicles should properly be on those roads if it is complying with the by-laws or regulations. That is a supportable principle and it can be very supported in many areas.

The government likes to talk about the Hammonds Plains Road and I have no difficulties with that whatsoever. We have to make sure that those large commercial vehicles aren't using roads that aren't designed for their use just so they can cut across and get shortcuts disrupting traffic and creating safety concerns in those areas where they shouldn't be. That is supportable, however, I think that the government also has an ulterior motive here as well. The ulterior motive, the reason why they decided to bring it in right now has still to

[Page 2713]

do with the Highway No. 104 western alignment. They want to have their highway police out there running back and forth across the Wentworth Valley stopping every commercial vehicle that travels it checking them to make sure that they have a right to be on that road and to make sure that every one that they can find is going to be fined if it is not doing a local delivery.

They want to drive all of those trucks as the law is going to require them up to Highway No. 104 so that they can get a loonie and a toonie per axle. I am sorry, I stand corrected, I am wrong again, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, the former Minister of Transportation and Public Works who is the author of this legislation corrected me and he should know that it is not a loonie and a toonie per axle, it is only a loonie and toonie per vehicle, it is only a toonie per axle.

They want to get as many of those toonie axles up on Highway No. 104 and so they want to have this provision in place so that they can make sure that they can not only do inspections but they can detain those commercial vehicles along that route to force them up so that these trucks that are driving along after January on their $9.00 taxed per tire wheels get them up there to get the toonies in so that they can get in the extra cash, the extra revenue that they need to pay the private developers of this road their $60 million higher financial charges plus the cost for their profits for the shareholders who I am sure the vast majority of whom will be out of the province.

The company that of course is going to be financing this road we all know was bragging last year that they expect that their profits will be increasing by about 41 per cent this year as a result of the kind of sweetheart deals, the kind of deals they have been entering into like the one they entered into with the Government of Nova Scotia to finance this.

With those few brief comments, I look forward to the minister rising in his place and suggesting that he would like to have this bill go back to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills stage so he can voluntarily make some necessary improvements to remove such provisions as that on the 110 kilometre speed limit. Thank you.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise on third reading to make a few comments on this piece of legislation which is basically four amendments. I find for the most part three of the amendments very supportable and one quite questionable.

Madam Speaker, the amendment that will reinforce the inspector's authority to enforce by-laws or regulations specific to local roads, I find for the most part reasonable, but I certainly am very cognizant that this is included in the amendments because the Minister of Transportation knows full well - at least the previous Minister of Transportation was told - that before the Atlantic Highways Corporation would agree to construct this highway, one

[Page 2714]

provision and one concession that they had to have was a requirement that motor vehicle inspectors must be out on patrol and travel up and down existing Highway No. 104 which will have a maximum speed limit of 80 kilometres per hour. Now, the Western Alignment Corporation was able to get many concessions from the previous Minister of Transportation.

The amendment that pertains to the changes that will provide statutory support for the mandatory alcohol rehabilitation program which of course was introduced last year is again another amendment that is worthwhile. I do not think there is anybody in this House who would not support and vote for that amendment because we know that there have been some - in fact, I believe the previous Minister of Transportation had to deal with or at least the registry did, a court challenge in terms of allowing the registrar to require a driver whose license had been suspended for the first time to take an alcohol rehabilitation program before the license will be reinstated.

We do support reinforcing the inspectors' authority. We support the mandatory alcohol rehabilitation program and we also understand that this government - and I have some difficulty in understanding how the government is going to enforce the amendment that states that inspectors are responsible for enforcing weight restrictions. We all know that they are, but as well they are responsible for ensuring compliance of the National Safety Code for truckers. The previous Minister of Transportation and - at that time - Communications, as I understand it, had the jobs of several motor vehicle inspectors terminated. He terminated the jobs of inspectors, yet after the termination in a subsequent piece of legislation we read where this government is going to ensure the compliance of the National Safety Code. That seems very contradictory and perhaps the present Minister of Transportation, in his summation, would enlighten the House as to how many motor vehicle inspectors there actually are in this province at the present time and how they are going to enforce the compliance of the National Safety Code.

That brings me, of course, to the amendment that will provide the authority to this government relative to increasing the speed limit on twinned highways, provide certification for motor vehicle inspectors and so on, which I had already mentioned. Scientific research again, Madam Speaker, through you, tells us that in other jurisdictions where speed limits have increased, so has the number of accidents. We have to be very careful here that we do not go running around nailing up 110 kilometre per hour speed limit signs on highways that are not maintained and capable of handling speeds of that degree. The minister says, and I believe he needs to further clarify this sentence, that the amendments will allow a change in the maximum speed limit from 100 kilometres per hour to 110 kilometres per hour on twinned highways that have been designed for the higher speed.

I wonder if the Minister of Transportation will tell us how many kilometres of road in this province are designed to carry that higher speed limit and I also wonder if the Minister of Transportation could tell us how many roads are, not only designed, but how many kilometres of roads are designed and maintained and capable of handling that higher speed?

[Page 2715]

Twinned roads have been built in the province for the past number of years, the previous Minister of Transportation tells us, and have a 110 kilometre per hour designed speed.

It was only early last week that the present Minister of Transportation was up in Ottawa with cap in hand and he went to the federal Minister of Transportation requesting additional funds regarding the infrastructure in this province and was told that he had better go to his Premier and tell his Premier to work with the other Premiers in Atlantic Canada towards formulating an infrastructure program where roads will receive attention. Of course, the roads in this province, the state of the roads, at least, and I don't think my constituency is all that much more unique than the other 51, but the roads are really falling very quickly into a state of disrepair. I know the present Minister of Transportation recognizes that and he will get up and tell me that 750,000 tons of asphalt have been laid (Interruption) No, they are not going in my area, no.

We did get a teaspoon after numerous requests because people were trying to travel the 80 kilometre speed limit on the Wittenburg Road, Madam Speaker, and the number of potholes on that road is outrageous. Finally, in late October, we did get a couple of teaspoonfuls of asphalt to drop in the potholes and now you can drive along at about 60 kilometres an hour, if you watch it.

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, I just would confess that the two teaspoons of asphalt that you received really are not relevant to the bill and if you would not mind now bringing the debate back to third reading.

MR. TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, I understand that Nova Scotia cannot afford zero tolerance policing on the twinned highways and I am not for one minute going to suggest that we can or that we should heavily police the new Highway No. 104 western alignment. However, I cannot help but wonder whether this government and this minister are going to run around and nail up 110 kilometre per hour speed limit signs on our other twinned highways. We are talking about giving the authority, through the Motor Vehicle Act, through these amendments, to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to increase the speed limit on twinned highways. We know that the Atlantic Highways Corporation was able to get that concession. We understand that; that before they would put down a pebble towards the construction of the Highway No. 104 western alignment, they wanted assurances that the speed limit would be 110 kilometres per hour. We understand that and, somewhat reluctantly, accept that.

I have considerable difficulty, Madam Speaker, with Bill No. 10 - the western alignment Act and as the previous speaker, the member for Sackville-Cobequid pointed out, the Western Alignment Corporation can raise the tolls on the highway at any given time and when we look at the agreement that was signed between this government and the Western Alignment Corporation, we find out that the Department of Transportation and Public Works will carry out regular maintenance on the western alignment. Now, what does regular

[Page 2716]

maintenance mean? Does it mean regular maintenance like we are seeing on some of our 200 Series highways, for example. In many of our constituencies, they are falling into a state of disrepair.

Do you know what the fee is that the Western Alignment Corporation is going to pay the Department of Transportation and Public Works and this government? They are going to pay a fee of $650,000 per year out of toll revenue. So if they crunch some numbers at the end of any given year, Madam Speaker, and they find that, gosh, we are really not keeping that highway up to speed, no pun intended, and some of these cars and some of the motorists travelling up and down our highway are saying, my gosh, we are beating our vehicles to death. Well, it is the Department of Transportation and Public Works who are carrying out the maintenance so perhaps the minister could tell us if - obviously he feels and his negotiators felt that the $650,000 fee would suffice - but if it is coming out of toll revenue then I think we do have a profound problem because, Madam Speaker, and this has very much to do with speed limits, it has a lot to do with the speed limits because Clause 15 in the Western Alignment Act, Bill No. 10, clearly states that the corporation is not a public utility within the meaning of the Public Utilities Act.

[5:00 p.m.]

Therefore, I believe that it is wrong and I urge the minister, and I know the minister has only been in the position of Minister of Transportation and Public Works since I think it was late June, but I asked the minister at that time in a letter, would he please consider making necessary changes to Bill No. 10, which will provide for greater public accountability. There is $65 million in public funds committed to the Highway No. 104 western alignment, so shouldn't the public at least have a right to voice their opinion prior to any toll increase, Madam Speaker? That is my question to the minister. We are going to increase the speed limit - actually we are not going to increase the speed limit on the Highway No. 104 western alignment because it hasn't been built but the speed limit there is going to be 110 kilometres per hour.

Now the agreement that the Atlantic Highways Corporation has, through some type of lease arrangement with the Western Alignment Corporation relative to maintenance of our highway, provides for $650,000 per year. But I question the minister, is that going to be enough to keep that highway up to a standard where we can travel at 110 kilometres per hour safely? That is the question.

Now, Madam Speaker, just by way of conclusion I want to say that I did have an opportunity, at several meetings, to bring this topic up, ask constituents of mine what they thought of the 110 kilometres limit on our twinned highways. I have to tell you that the majority of my constituents who were at the meetings - not the majority of my constituents per se - felt that if the road was designed and maintained, the operative word I believe is maintained, then they had no difficulty with the speed going from 100 kilometres to 110

[Page 2717]

kilometres or coming right off the top with a speed limit of 110 kilometres on the Highway No. 104 western alignment.

Now I don't know how many thousands of vehicles a day travel from Truro to Halifax on the Truro-Halifax highway. There is another twinned highway that does need to be better maintained. I hope that the minister will continue to upgrade and maintain that section of highway, I believe it is Highway No. 102. Then, if he feels it is justified, and only then, if it is justified, should he raise the speed limit to 110 kilometres per hour on that highway.

So, with careful monitoring, I know the minister and this government will have a mechanism in place that will carefully look at the number of accidents on the new highway. We hope there are not any but, just by the laws of nature, there will be some accidents, we understand that. I hope this government very carefully examines, evaluates and assesses the accident data relative to any speed limit increase.

The other amendments are supportable, acceptable. But, Madam Speaker, in the final analysis I will be supporting this legislation. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: I just want to make a few brief remarks on third reading of Bill No. 28. This piece of legislation has some provisions in it that relate to the implications for drivers who lose their driving privileges or have them suspended, in relation to alcohol-related offences. I guess I have more than a little bit of concern about that issue.

The minister may have met, as I have, with MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and that organization makes a very good point. That organization makes the point that there are some provisions in the Criminal Code of Canada which bear on the question of what happens to the driver of a vehicle who is found to have been impaired having the care and control of a motor vehicle, or indeed, vessel, aircraft or railway equipment. Section 253 of the Criminal Code of Canada says that "Every one commits an offence who operates a motor vehicle or vessel or operates or assists in the operation of an aircraft or of railway equipment or has the care or control of a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft or railway equipment, whether it is in motion or not, (a) while the person's ability to operate the vehicle, vessel, aircraft or railway equipment is impaired by alcohol or a drug; or (b) having consumed alcohol in such a quantity that the concentration in the person's blood exceeds eighty milligrams of alcohol in one hundred millilitres of blood.", that is an offence against the Criminal Code of Canada.

Part of the problem that I would like the minister to address, we can't get it resolved necessarily here today in this particular piece of legislation but I think what I want to raise with him is sufficiently relevant in light of the fact that the bill talks about alternate measures able to be taken by the courts and by the Department of Transportation in the event that somebody is found to have contravened those provisions.

[Page 2718]

The Criminal Code goes on to talk about penalties that are to be faced by people who are convicted of offences by having care and control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The real problem that I would like the minister to address and consider with the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General is this, there is a section in the Criminal Code that has direct bearing on the bill that is before us and it is Section 255. Section 255 is the punishment section in the Criminal Code of Canada for impaired driving causing bodily harm, impaired driving causing death and bears on the disposition of people convicted of impaired driving having previous convictions and it also sets out the issue which is the difficulty for MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and that is the conditional discharge.

Section 255 (2) says this, "Every one who commits an offence under paragraph 253(a) . . ." that is the general offence section of having care and control or driving while impaired, " . . . and thereby causes bodily harm to any other person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.". I would ask the minister to take note that the section sets out a maximum penalty. Unfortunately, in the context of what I want to say in a moment, it does not set out a minimum penalty.

Section 255(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada says, "Every one who commits an offence under paragraph 253(a) and thereby causes the death of any other person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.". Again, it is a maximum penalty and no minimum is set out.

The problem that I want the minister to talk to his colleague about and address here in the context of what we are doing here with this bill is this, Section 255(5) of the Criminal Code of Canada goes on to say, "Notwithstanding subsection 736(1) . . ." and Section 736(1) is somewhere here in my notes and that is a provision which simply says that, "Where an accused, . . . pleads guilty to or is found guilty of an offence, other than an offence for which a minimum punishment is prescribed by law or an offence punishable, in the proceedings commenced against him, by imprisonment for fourteen years or for life, the court before which he appears may, if it considers it to be in the best interests of the accused and not contrary to the public interest, instead of convicting the accused, by order direct that the accused be discharged absolutely or on the conditions prescribed in a probation order.".

Section 255(5), in the context of what I have read out of Section 736, says, "Notwithstanding subsection 736(1), a court may, instead of convicting a person of an offence commited under section 253 . . .", impaired driving or driving while under the influence, ". . . after hearing medical or other evidence, if it considers that the person is in need of curative treatment in relation to his consumption of alcohol or drugs and that it would not be contrary to the public interest, by order direct that the person be discharged under section 736 on the conditions prescribed in a probation order, including a condition respecting the person's attendance for curative treatment in relation to his consumption of alcohol or drugs.".

[Page 2719]

What MADD says - I am sure to this minister and to the Minister of Justice and to all who will listen to them - in my case, they say, Mr. Donahoe, men and women get behind the wheel - and those men and women, some are younger; some are older - of an automobile on the highways of the Province of Nova Scotia. They are under the influence of alcohol, in some cases they are very severely and seriously under the influence of alcohol, and they conduct themselves in such a way, impaired by that alcohol, where they cause serious bodily harm to others in the province - in some cases, the sons and daughters of those who are members of MADD and even more tragically, men and women under the influence kill other Nova Scotians, and indeed some who are not Nova Scotians, by reason of the fact that they are impaired by alcohol.

The point I want to make - and I would ask the minister if he would perhaps make a note and discuss it with the Minister of Justice - is, Section 255(5) of the Criminal Code of Canada - which is the legislative authority to allow this conditional kind of discharge and a referral of a person who has maimed or killed somebody else, while under the influence of alcohol, while driving, operating or maintaining care and control of a vehicle - is the section which makes it possible for us and the courts to get into this conditional release. Section 255(5) is part of the law of the Province of Nova Scotia because the Government of Nova Scotia proclaimed, passed a proclamation, passed an Order in Council in the Cabinet Room, indicating that Section 255 will, in fact, apply here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

The fact of the matter is that Section 255(5) has not been proclaimed in British Columbia, Ontario, Newfoundland and Quebec. So that the minister does not think I am not into full disclosure, it has been proclaimed in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, and in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. There has been litigation relative to that matter and the theme of the litigation relative to Section 255(5) clearly indicates that it is not a contravention of the charter for any province to refuse to proclaim Section 255.

The argument is normally made in that situation, well, if some provinces proclaim Section 255 and that remedy is available to impaired drivers in certain jurisdictions, but that is not the case in other provinces - say, for example, in Nova Scotia - that contravenes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, because there is not equal treatment from coast to coast pursuant to the charter relative to the way in which people convicted of offences while under the influence of alcohol are handled. The thrust of the litigation and a series of cases which have gone to appeal courts, they have gone to the British Columbia Court of Appeal, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, the Quebec Court of Appeal, Ontario Court of Appeal and so on. The bottom line in those decisions is that those Superior Court Justices and Appeal Court Justices have concluded that it is not contrary to the charter to have it apply in certain provinces and not in others.

[Page 2720]

[5:15 p.m.]

With apologies to you, Mr. Speaker, and through you to the minister, for that long harangue, the point I want to make, or I am attempting to make, is really, I guess, to end with a plea, to ask this minister to engage in dialogue with his colleague, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, to take a look at Section 255(5) of the Criminal Code of Canada, which this province has, in fact, proclaimed - it is the law - to ask, relative to Section 255(5), if there are some policy questions relevant to the government, in light of the fact that we have too much carnage on our roads, as a result of men and women being impaired by alcohol or drugs, maiming and killing people on our highways. We have the unfortunate situation, and there have been some relatively recent cases, where a couple of young people were very tragically killed and the net result, as a consequence of the application of Section 255, is that the perpetrator of the events which resulted in the death of those children is, in effect, given a conditional discharge and required to do some community service.

There are many in the community - I guess the point that I want to make, Mr. Speaker, to the minister - and I think, perhaps, increasing numbers in the community who are saying to me anyway, and I have no idea if they are saying it to minister or to the Minister of Justice, that you know we are at a point where we really have to be somewhat tougher with those who impair themselves or become impaired by reason of the consumption of alcohol and drugs, get behind the wheel of a car and maim or kill innocent people here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

So when I read, as I do, sections like Clause 2(2)(a) ". . . in the case of a suspension pursuant to Section 279A where a prior revocation for an alcohol related offence is recorded on the record of the driver . . .". Then we get into further references to the Drug Dependency Services division of the Department of Health. I guess, at some point, we have to ask the policy question, relative to the individual who gets behind the wheel in that impaired condition and maims or kills, which is the public interest priority, the safety on the roads and the safety for the innocent persons on the Nova Scotia highways, on the one hand, as against the rights and the circumstances of the man or the woman who has gotten behind the wheel impaired and has maimed or has killed.

I simply want to ask this minister if he would, prompted by the introduction of this legislation, raising as it does the spectre of, Clause 5, Section 279A(7) "A person whose driver's license or privilege of obtaining a driver's license has been suspended pursuant to this Section shall, to have the driver's license or privilege of obtaining a driver's license reinstated, apply to the Registrar in the form and manner required by the Registrar. (8) The Registrar shall not reinstate a driver's license or the privilege of obtaining a driver's license pursuant to subsection (7) until the Registrar is satisfied that all requirements pursuant to this Act have been completed by the applicant.".

[Page 2721]

I think the meld of Clause 5, Section 279A in this legislation and Section 255 of the Criminal Code leaves it possible for this minister and this government to reconsider whether or not the fact that Section 255(5) of the Criminal Code now applies in Nova Scotia is, in today's environment, an appropriate public policy position. I would ask the minister to take a look at that.

The only other matter, Mr. Speaker, that I would like raise relative to this legislation, and I did on an earlier day, and I ask this minister to take a look at it, there was a glitch in - I think I happened to end up being called away from the House when we were on second reading, and I had a proposed amendment to the legislation which, unfortunately, through my inadvertence, didn't get to the committee - I would like to refer the minister's attention, through you, Mr. Speaker, to Clause 4 in this bill - it is the proposed new Section 196A(1) - if it passes in its present form it would simply say that "A peace officer may stop and detain a commercial motor vehicle for the purpose of determining whether a by-law made pursuant to Section 194 or a regulation made pursuant to Section 195 has been contravened and, for that purpose, may require the operator of the vehicle to produce a bill of lading or other document.".

In Clause 4, Section 196A(2) it says that "A peace officer may examine and make copies and extracts of any document referred to in subsection (1).". It occurs to me that in fairness to the operator of the commercial motor vehicle, that this section would be more appropriate and rather fairer if we were to inject some language in it which says something to the effect that if the peace officer has reasonable and probable grounds to believe one of the referenced by-laws has been breached, then the peace officer may stop and detain a commercial motor vehicle for the purpose of determining whether, and so on and so on.

In its present form, what it really says is any peace officer, whether they have any reason to believe that there might be any breach of any Statute or regulation, any peace officer can, under Clause 4, Section 196A, stop and detain a commercial motor vehicle for the purpose of determining to open up an investigation to determine whether or not a by-law made pursuant to any of these regulations might have been contravened.

As I say, it occurs to me that if the peace officer, on the basis of objective observation and, indeed, perhaps information made available to him, has reasonable and probable ground to believe that there might be such a contravention, then I would have less trouble with the authority afforded the peace officer whereby he or she might stop and detain the commercial motor vehicle for the purposes described in the section.

So I would ask the minister if he would be prepared, regardless of whether or not the section passes in its present form, and likely that is our result here today, if the minister would, again in concert with his colleague the Minister of Justice and his own officials, whether or not he would be prepared to address the question of whether or not language such

[Page 2722]

as, to require the peace officer to have reasonable and probable ground to believe that one of the references by-laws has been breached, might be injected into the new Clause 196A.

I am not going to get into a discussion about the speed limits; much has been said about that. My experience has been that, I don't know, but some very significant percentage of people driving on our highways are already driving at 110 kilometres an hour and if we could be satisfied that the highways to which reference is made here, at 110 kilometres, are twinned highways and separated highways and have the appropriate medians and the like, then I am not so sure I can take a lot of issue with the suggestion that there be a speed limit of 110 kilometres.

I know there are some concerns about any increase in the speed limits in the minds of some, but on the 100-Series Highways and the twinned highways I think that, in normal conditions, that is probably manageable. We still have the legal principle at play that if circumstances, weather and other circumstances are such that 110 is not a reasonable or prudent speed that I believe - the minister may correct me if I am wrong - that if that was the case, the conditions dictated in the opinion of a peace officer that it was not reasonable and prudent to travel at that 110 kilometre per hour rate, then the peace officer could inject himself into the situation, and that a conviction in cases where somebody was driving at a posted speed, but in circumstances where it was not . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Been there, bought the T-shirt.

MR. DONAHOE: Yes, I know. I read about it. I might say that the same sort of thing happened to me, if I remember correctly, within about 60 days of being sworn into the Cabinet in 1978, I had the same happy experience with my three year old daughter in the car with me at the time, so I recall.

Enough of that on the speed limit; I think others have raised that issue. My interest is the impaired driving matter and the authority of peace officers to stop and detain commercial vehicles. I think the way the bill now reads it is too extensive an authority and I think it should be obligatory that the peace officer be required to establish that he or she has reasonable or probable grounds to believe that one or other of the referenced by-laws is being contravened.

So with those remarks, I will end my comments and observations relative to Bill No. 28. I look forward to hearing from others whom I believe are going to address the issue and I would hope that the minister would be prepared to take up those two issues, particularly the Criminal Code question and the peace officer authority with commercial motor vehicles, with his staff and officials and perhaps, as appropriate, with the Minister of Justice. Hopefully we could find a way that those considerations could be seriously addressed as I think they are significant and important policy considerations relative to the bill we have before us. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 2723]

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable minister, it is to close debate.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in closing debate on third reading for Bill No. 28, I want to acknowledge the members' comments that were brought forward. With regard to the Sackville-Cobequid member, who brought his concerns forward here today and again on a previous day in a very articulate and compassionate way regarding the issue of safety and concern, I appreciate where the member has brought forward the concerns especially with regard to Clauses 21 and 22 of the bill and how it relates to the offences related to alcohol while driving, the concern about the effect that has on public safety, and I applaud him for his support for the initiatives in that regard.

I would like to point out to members of the House that in reviewing the accident criteria within the province, we monitor, on a day-to-day basis, exactly the causes of the accidents that happen. We try to do a certain amount of analytical work to determine if there are any trend lines establishing with regard to a number of accidents that do occur. Interestingly enough, about 62 per cent of all accidents that occur in the Province of Nova Scotia happen on clear days, dry highways, good weather conditions, good visibility, and they happen between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. and principally on a Friday afternoon.

So I think it is incumbent upon us all to realize that driver safety is really up to the responsibility of the individual driver to make sure that proper discipline is adhered to while behind the wheel of a vehicle. As the member for Sackville-Cobequid had stated very clearly, driving is a privilege and it is not a right and for that privilege we all have a responsibility to be more cognizant of the fact that we have a responsibility while driving in good weather conditions and poor weather conditions, and so on and so forth, to drive within the means of the individual when it comes to safety.

[5:30 p.m.]

I might point out that 65 per cent of all those accidents occur to male drivers between the ages of 25 and 35, so we all have a responsibility to make sure that we adhere to the defensive driving practices that we, as a department, certainly embellish and support, and that of the Business and Consumer Services Department that has the Motor Vehicle Registry for the province, as well.

The concern with regard to statements that have been made by the member and others in the House, with regard to the change of route, I might make it very clear that the 110 kilometre per hour zone speed that we are referring to in changing Clause 3 is done with a great deal of consideration to the fact that the highway we are talking about, the Highway No.104 western alignment is, in fact, going to be a safe highway that is built and designed specifically for the speed of 110 kilometres per hour. We have a number of criteria that will

[Page 2724]

be used with regard to the selection of any other location in the Province of Nova Scotia with divided highways for the purpose of increasing speed. The criteria are: controlled access, divided, and wide median design.

We are concerned with regard to prevailing vehicle speed and I might point out to members of the House that the average speed on a 100-Series Highway in the Province of Nova Scotia is about 113 kilometres per hour. That is the average speed. Those are not controlled and those are on all 100-Series Highways, not divided highways. The section of divided highways would be a minimum of 10 kilometres in length and the traffic volume, capability and capacity to those divided highways are of a service level that we would support.

The points that were made by the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley regarding the number of officers doing the inspection service, I might point out as I had indicated before, that is under the responsibility of the Minister of Business and Consumer Services and I will undertake, as I indicated before, to communicate to that ministry and determine the exact numbers and will respond to the member at a later date.

Moving on to the member for Halifax Citadel, I realize my learned colleague with a legal background is quite interested in some of the more legal technical matters, such as the Criminal Code of Canada Section 255 and how our Clause 5, 279A applies to Section 255 of the Criminal Code and how they interface. I thought for a minute I was in a class at law school and then I realized that, in fact if I was, I would really have not learned a great deal because I was almost totally confused by the time the member finished going through the issue, but I will undertake to discuss the matter with the Minister of Justice; as well, Clause 4, 196A and to talk to the Minister of Justice with regard to that.

In conclusion, I am pleased to move again and close the debate on Bill No. 28 and I know that this will be a good bill for a number of reasons and all of which are part of the four areas of this bill that will be positive to Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 28. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 10.

[Page 2725]

Bill No. 10 - Regional Community Development Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move third reading of Bill No. 10, the Regional Community Development Act, which basically provides the legislation to allow the RDAs to operate. They are operating and have been operating, but they fall under an old Act that really this bill will replace and set out the new mandate and membership provisions and the other guidelines under which they will operate, so I move third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to make a few remarks on Bill No. 10 which we like to refer to as the Regional Development Agency Act. The legislation in itself is rather straightforward. It indicates a composition of the agency. It talks about some activities in which the agency may engage in and it as well provides a reporting function and responsibility of the agency.

All of us have to be concerned about the economic plight of the province in terms of the unemployed and particularly those who, like myself, live in an area of the province that has an unacceptable unemployment rate. My particular area of the province is not as disadvantaged as many others when I look at areas of the province that have an unemployment rate that in reality approaches 50 per cent. Any measure that is designed to address that problem needs close scrutiny.

I look at what has been going on in my own particular area since 1991. The minister did make reference to the fact that regional development is not something that was invented by this government but in fact has been going on for some period of time.

The particular Act under which the Economic Development Agency in my area was brought into being is so-called Bill No. 187, 1991, an Act to Incorporate the Pictou Regional Development Commission. That commission was set up by way of a private member's bill and that commission has been operational since that time. I know that the minister has been paying some particular attention to that issue because of the funding controversy and the minister did, in fact, only recently provide them with the funds to carry on. I won't get into that debate at this particular time.

When we look at the bill, in fact, it is a piece of legislation whereby a regional development organization could be established anywhere in the province. My understanding right now and the minister could indicate, I believe there are 14 active RDAs which are being funded and then there are a number of independents as well functioning under municipal sponsorship. The benefits of a coordinated and regional approach are certainly apparent to me because I have seen the effects of what has gone on in my area. For example, the Pictou

[Page 2726]

Regional Development Commission which is the local Regional Development Agency in its first four years of operation assisted in 121 successful business projects and these projects have directly translated into 370 jobs.

The other interesting thing too is that that agency provides a location for 10 agencies. It provides a location for not only itself, the PRDC, it provides a location for the Economic Renewal Agency and the Pictou County Tourist Association, ACOA, the Pictou County Business Opportunities Limited and the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce, the Entrepreneurial Club, the Self-employment Assistance Program, Adult Education and the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture. In effect, I think it is an excellent example of a one-stop shop kind of approach to economic development.

The legislation, while I find little to object to, I think fails to address one very real problem with economic development in that it does not make, by way of specific clause, a requirement for the agency to, in fact, provide an accounting of its success. It does make a requirement that it produce a budget for approval and whereby in that budget there would be some outline of its activities. However, the legislation, unfortunately, does not have a requirement that the agency set up under this particular piece of legislation would have a responsibility to provide a success rate, a measure of accomplishment; therefore, the legislation is lacking and silent in perhaps its most important activity and that is, has the agency responded in a fashion that justifies the expenditure of public funding?

The kinds of figures we are talking about is a $300,000 budget, equally shared by the municipality, the province and the federal government. Now, in some instances, already the municipalities are providing in excess of $100,000 for the agency in their area and would be remiss if they were not looking for a sizeable input into the activities of the agency. The provincial government, in fact, through its contribution and through this legislation, is ensuring that its input will be maximized, but there is some concern that, in fact, the communities themselves will be contributing, in a financial way, a contribution in excess of that provided by the province.

The legislation itself has had an opportunity to go through the Law Amendments Committee and, in response to what I had said, there is, in Clause 11, a partial address of my initial criticism of the bill as a report detailing progress; however, I think that that clause falls far short of what I am suggesting and that is that for any period of time, perhaps, for example, a five year time, that certain definite objectives should be put in front of the RDAs and that a continuation beyond that five year period would be entirely dependent on their abilities to meet certain objectives. The clause, while I think, in some measure, does address my criticism in second reading, I don't feel really it goes far enough. We must, I think, in these times, in the expenditure of the taxpayer's dollar, be driven by objectives and, in fact, if objectives are not met, then serious consequences in terms of continuation of funding of that particular organization would, in fact, be scrutinized.

[Page 2727]

While I do find little to object in the bill, I feel that it certainly does not allow anything new to happen because, in fact, RDAs were up and running. One may feel, perhaps, in fact, there were far too many RDAs and they were far too parochial in their approach. So I will be supporting the legislation, but do feel that it does not really go as far as I would like it to go in terms of being driven by hard and fast objectives that would, of necessity, have to be met, if, in fact, funding was to be continued by the province and by the federal government.

[5:45 p.m.]

So with those few words, Mr. Speaker, I will take my place and await the comments of other speakers. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I didn't have a chance to get to my seat.

Mr. Speaker, just a couple of things I want to say on the bill. I am not going to really rehash a lot of what has been said before. However, I want to emphasize, underscore in any way possibly that I can, in bold, in italics and everything else, that we have to really be doing anything and everything we can to involve the communities in genuine community economic development. We know that the vast majority of jobs in the province, jobs that are going to be staying jobs are going to be those that are community-based, run and developed by Nova Scotians, people who have a commitment to their communities and who are committed to stay. Much of the old kinds of development, if you can call it that, that we have seen lo these many years in the past, where countless of millions of dollars are given, as they say in Cape Breton, to come-from-aways, to come in and get the dollars and then to run off, after having left failed ventures behind, that is the kind of wasteful strategy that we can no longer afford.

Mr. Speaker, I am also one who believes that we have in our province, we are blessed to have many people with a lot of creative skills, a lot of creativity, with a lot of entrepreneurial skills, a lot of cooperative skills and people who are quite prepared and are seeking a way to get involved in identifying the economic opportunities that do exist around their communities, to create meaningful, year-round employment.

What we have seen very often, unfortunately, with a lot of the employment that has been created and many of the government's kinds of proposals are very often for short-term, minimum wage types of jobs. Those kinds of jobs are not what we can depend on as an economy. These jobs that are intended to be for long enough to collect unemployment insurance, so that people can then draw the unemployment insurance later on. Although work is work and work is very important, we have to try to be encouraging communities and helping those communities to develop within themselves, within their areas the long-term employment.

[Page 2728]

You know, Mr. Speaker, I have been taking a look at the community economic development and the legislation. I am not convinced that what we have before us is going to be achieving all of the wonderful objectives that the government hopes for it to do. I certainly hope they are successful, I certainly hope they are going to achieve all the wonderful results that are being predicted for them and I say that very sincerely. My wish is as strong as the minister's and every member on the government benches that we are able to do that. Unfortunately, I am not convinced that this is going to achieve it.

There are a couple of things, though, that I just want to really reference, just two points. I am not going to get into a long tirade, I am not going to get into a long speech here. Two points that maybe I will just leave on the floor that the minister may or may not address but, hopefully, he will when he wraps up his remarks. The are two issues; one is project funding.

These regional development boards across the province certainly are now currently financed basically one-third, one-third, one-third; one-third federal, one-third provincial and one-third from the municipalities. Of course the municipalities' funding is on a one-year basis. So they enter into the agreements and they have developed plans and so on. But their commitment is not on a long-term basis and that surely has to create some difficulties for these development boards, in not knowing necessarily whether the funding will be there for the long term, especially as some municipal units could decide to pull out because some of these development authorities take or encompass a number of municipalities. I am wondering if the minister could indicate what kinds of discussions he has had and what kind of assurances that the municipalities will be in, in terms of their funding commitment, for the full length of the time that the province is in? I think that is important. That is very vital and they are a very vital link in this structure.

The other thing is the project funding that I started to talk about a moment ago before I diverted. It is my understanding that the development authorities were going to be provided, I think it was $150,000, that is the figure that comes to my mind, and this was not money that they were going to be giving as seed money. It was not going to be grants and so on to be given to businesses. This would be money that could be used by the development authority to possibly do some notices, maybe do some feasibility studies on whether a particular type of business would be able to go in a particular community. It could be money for renting a hall so that the members of the community could be drawn together, brought together and do some kind of planning. It could be money that could be used for some feasibility studies where local residents - I am not talking about hiring consultants and so on to come in from away and to prepare the reports - but for the communities to be developing feasibility studies in terms of that.

One of the things that I understand is that that money has not come forward yet and also there seems to be some - and maybe it is more at the federal level in terms of ACOA, in terms of who is going to have control over this money, who wants to be saying how it is

[Page 2729]

going to be doled out. I do not know. Surely, in the scheme of things, the amount of money that we are talking about is small potatoes. These boards, bodies, have had to prepare the programs and plans. They have to be reviewed on a yearly basis and there is an accountability structure in place. I would like the minister to address where that money is at the present time and when that money will be made available to these bodies so that they can in fact be more efficient in doing their job.

The other thing that I would not mind the minister, if he would like to touch upon, the minister and others have said the primary reason for these regional development authorities is so that we will not have the competing elements. We will not have different authorities and different agencies trying to promote the development and growth of business and industry in a municipality. That, of course, was an argument put forward by the former Minister of Municipal Affairs and members of her caucus when they were pushing for the amalgamation of metro, that was supposed to be saving so much money which, it turns out, is actually going to cost about two and one-half to three times the cost to bring about from what was being predicted - going from about $10 million to $28 million.

That having been set aside, the issue of money, we still are going to have, for example, in this metropolitan area, a whole number of different agencies, groups and bodies whose job it is to try to promote economic development in, for example, the metropolitan area. When I say metropolitan, I mean the greater Halifax Regional Municipality or HRM for short. Even in this area we are going to have the new authority out at the airport. We will have the Shearwater Development Authority. We have the Ports Authority. We have the minister's own department responsible for some industrial parks. We have the regional development authority for the former county. We have the partnership in the former City of Halifax, Mr. Speaker. So we still have a number of these bodies that maybe are not competing, maybe they are co-operating. I do not know. I would like to know what kind of schematic, I would like to know what kind of overall structure, if the government does have any intentions or plans for a structure in terms of who is accountable to whom and what is the structure that is going to be put into place to make sure, for example, that one is not competing with the other, but they are actually working in a genuine spirit of co-operation to be promoting economic development in this area as well as in other parts of the province as well. So that is really three things rather than two that I initially said that I will just leave on the floor. The minister may or may not care to address them as he wraps up the debate but I think there are three important issues that are very relevant in the debate of the bill that is before us. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the Minister Responsible for the Economic Renewal Agency are there further speakers?

The honourable Minister responsible for the Economic Renewal Agency.

[Page 2730]

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, just a few brief comments with respect to the Regional Development Authorities. There are 14 up and running and I think for the most part are doing a very admirable job in our communities as the delivery vehicle, if you will, for community economic development.

Each of the 14 RDAs was required to submit a strategic plan. That plan was then taken by my department and evaluated. Those that were lacking, if you will, in certain areas our department went to work with them to strengthen the strategic plan. In addition to that and in conjunction with the request for project funding, we have also requested that the RDAs do new business plans. The project funding will not be made available to the RDAs until such time as business plans are submitted.

I am a little bit distressed when I hear the member for Sackville-Cobequid refer to the small potatoes that this amount of money is. It is $150,000 times 14 RDAs, times five years. It is $10.5 million that they are looking for a commitment to and the member opposite is referring to this as small potatoes. Some of the comments opposite truly demonstrate the lack of understanding of job creation in this province. The fact that because a world-class company like Newbridge and Cisco and OSP and others come in that clusters begin to form not unlike Raleigh, North Carolina where clustering of IT companies has brought other companies. We couldn't expect, do you want to start rhyming off the names of some companies that the previous administration invested money in, boy oh boy we would put our record against that any day of the week. It is not small potatoes.

We are attempting to build in an accountability process that will see the business plans judged on true pre-determined criteria that is not only job creation but in fact what they are doing in the communities to provide opportunities for job creation. We think by doing this up front and not being hasty in releasing the project funding to the RDAs that this will give credibility to the entire process and protect the RDAs long-term so that they will continue to get the funding on a year by year basis from the municipalities. I believe it is going to be the success of the RDAs that determines whether or not they will continue to be funded.

While the federal and provincial authorization for funding is provided through the Economic Diversification Agreement (EDA) on the municipal side of it there is no guarantee and they do have to go almost with cap in hand each year to their municipal units to get the municipal funding to match the federal and provincial funding. So, it is the credibility of the RDAs and the credibility of the accountability process that will determine that in the long term. Mr. Speaker, with those few words, I would move third reading of Bill No. 10.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 10. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[Page 2731]

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 30.

Bill No. 30 - Motor Vehicle Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, this is a bill that has been discussed by the House at the previous stages. I don't think I will re-cover some of that ground, I just wish to indicate that I am rising to move third reading of the bill.

[6:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: I rise in support of Bill No. 30, which is the mandatory helmet. I do know that this will apply for all young people and I think young people will not have any difficulty in dealing with this legislation. Some older people will have a little bit of difficulty getting used to the helmets.

My concern is with the cost factor involved for young people. I hope that the government will not tax helmets for children, since this is very much a safety aspect that the minister agrees is a must, is mandatory, and it is being put forward because it is safer and it protects children from injury. If that is the case, I am sure the minister would make sure that he will use his contacts from the last portfolio to ensure the Department of Finance makes sure there is no tax for young children who have to have bicycle helmets. A lot of families are struggling today and the ones that are struggling the most are large families and if you have five or six children and they all have bicycles and they all need helmets, where now it is all of a sudden mandatory, it is going to be quite costly. So, if the government would, I hope, see fit to make sure that these helmets are not taxed.

Basically I do support this bill. I am not sure when it will be proclaimed, if the minister might indicate whether we will see it for next summer or how long before they might proclaim it, but I will be voting in favour of this bill.

[Page 2732]

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: I intend to be consistent with what I have been all the way along in this process, and that is I intend to be supporting the bill. Again, I want to compliment the former Minister of Health, and not meaning that as any slight on this occasion towards the current one but the former Minister of Health had pushed for this legislation, and others, certainly those who are concerned about head injuries, particularly the Head Injury Association of Nova Scotia who have also lobbied for this legislation for some period of time.

I think it is good legislation. I know that there are going to be some who - as they did with seatbelt legislation and some did when motorcycle helmet legislation was introduced requiring that they be worn there and on snowmobiles and so on - feel that it is an intrusion upon their rights, particularly as adults who make decisions that affect themselves.

The minister was going to try to find statistics on the studies in terms of the number of injuries, in particular head injuries, as a result of an intervention made earlier by another member. The minister indicated he would try to get that statistical information. I do not know if he has it available yet, but I know the information that I have looked at, and I admit that it is not all-exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination, would indicate that in terms of injuries for those who are riding a bicycle, as a result of a fall from that bicycle, that with children the percentage who have head injuries, versus another type of injury, is quite high, as it is for adults.

There are a couple of elements, there certainly is the cost element to the government and to the taxpayers, that if somebody does sustain a head injury that was preventable if they were wearing proper safety devices or a proper safety helmet, if that injury could be prevented, that is certainly going to be a considerable savings to the province. But far more important than that, it is the savings to the individual, because if somebody endures a head injury, that head injury is not something like a broken bone or so on that will necessarily heal. The injury may be with that person for the rest of their life. It may not be visible in that the exterior scars and scrapes and bruises may have healed, but if there is damage that has been done to the brain as a result of an injury, a fall from a bicycle, that can devastate that person's life, Mr. Speaker.

While I can have sympathy for those who feel it is a bit of an intrusion, I think that it is still, if I can call it, a wise intrusion. I think that it is a sound public policy to require it. It will take some time for people to get used to and there will be requirements for education processes so that people will come to understand what is required and why it is being required, but I believe that it is, you might say, promoting good, healthy lifestyles and it is proactive, so, therefore, I am supporting it.

[Page 2733]

I do have considerable sympathy, especially for those who have a number of children who are going to be faced with the cost of having to purchase these bicycle helmets and now, if they are going to be faced with a full BS Tax on them, that certainly can make that that much more difficult again. So I would hope that the minister will be trying to find ways to ensure that those costs are as reasonable as possible and, also, ensuring that there is sufficient time indicating (Interruptions) The Minister of Community Services over there thinks he is the minister of comic relief and he tries to interject his helpful comments. He will, of course, know that many of those who are trying to survive and live on the most meagre of allowances that are being provided by the minister, he will understand that they cannot afford the helmets and that they will, therefore, not only have to have helmets, but also the cost of them; maybe he will make allowances for those, so that they can have the money to be able to purchase helmets for the children.

Mr. Speaker, I thought we were trying to have a reasonable conversation before the helpful interventions a moment ago, but I say to the minister that I sincerely do hope that the minister will try to ensure that there is sufficient lead time, that the minister will announce well enough in advance when the legislation is going to be proclaimed and when, in fact, the requirement to wear the helmets will come into effect, so that especially those who are on low and fixed incomes will have sufficient time and, hopefully, the resources to be able to get the helmets for themselves and, more importantly, for their children.

With those brief comments, Mr. Speaker, again, I say, as I have said all the way through, it is my intention, on behalf of, actually on a free vote I might add, too, our caucus has all indicated our plans to support the legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I don't want to delay this bill. When the bill was introduced first, I thought perhaps it was motherhood legislation and I guess it may still be motherhood legislation, but after talking to some constituents in the Caribou Island area - I think I mentioned this on second reading - out on a country road you have to wear a helmet on a hot, 80 degree afternoon when you are having a little pedal down the road, I have no problem with it at all, being mandatory for those under 18 years of age, for grandchildren or for young people, even in their own backyard, because you can fall and get hurt.

I wonder - perhaps the minister, in summing up - will there be regulations likely in regard to the type of helmet, as to the safety of that helmet? Again, I am not in a helmet very much, but I do understand that some helmets, if you fell, would break and it will be an expense to some families that have quite a number of children, and if you have to buy four or five helmets it is certainly expensive. I do believe that anybody under 18 years of age should have to wear them.

[Page 2734]

Quite frankly, I don't know how I am going to vote on this bill. I will probably be voting no but I half like it and I half don't like it, if that explains my position. As I say, it is a motherhood bill for the young people. If, somehow, we could make them mandatory in the cities, I guess again that is cutting a fine line but I feel that people cycling around the City of Halifax or any large city should certainly have a helmet on because they are moving in and out of traffic. We have all seen these bicycles moving along very quickly and it is for their own protection.

A number of people have mentioned the fact that the minister may have statistics available for us. It would be nice to see, in fact, how many people are hurt. Mr. Speaker, I have many thoughts about the bill and I think I am going to vote against the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the member for Pictou West, reminded me of that old political adage that half my friends are in favour of this measure and half my friends are against and I stand with my friends.

This is a matter of gravity, it is a deliberate determination by government and by those who support this legislation, to intrude government into another aspect of our daily lives. I think there is some considerable wisdom, and I say this based on anecdotal information, not on the basis of statistical data, data which I have asked the minister to provide and which, to my knowledge, he has not yet been able to provide for the House.

I am trying to reflect on my own community and on my own experience in a relatively small town and rural community, of the number of persons I know who have sustained injuries as a consequence of accidents while riding bicycles. I can think of three accidents, undoubtedly there were others, which did occur which resulted in injury, fortunately none of them fatal but all of which did result in a number of stitches, a mild concussion and so on.

Interestingly my recollection is clear on this and in all three of those incidents the accident occurred on a public street or a public highway, not on private property, not in the family's backyard or a neighbour's backyard but, rather, on a public street or a public highway. I think there is a strong argument to ensure that young people under the age of 18 years wear bicycle helmets. I suspect that if that law were put into effect, we would find the same phenomenon develop with respect to bicycle helmets as we have seen develop with respect to hockey helmets. Young people grow up wearing them because they have to but when they move into the senior hockey league, they are no longer obliged to wear them but, because they have always worn them, they continue to do so.

I think, too, that with respect to people who are adults, again with respect to bicycles, there should be a wide discretion left to the mature adult to make up their own minds what is in their own best interests. I could even go so far as to accept a law which required persons

[Page 2735]

who travel on public highways to wear helmets. Indeed, one of the accidents to which I refer did occur on a public highway. But to so go far as to blanket the province with one law for all people in all locations, it strikes me in this instance, particularly in the absence of well-established, well-founded, well-researched objective data, simply going too far.

[6:15 p.m.]

On that basis, Madam Speaker, I find that at the conclusion of third reading, I will not be able to support this legislation. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Madam Speaker, I thank the honourable members who have entered the debate during the third reading.

I am a little disappointed to see we have had some slippage since second reading in Committee of the Whole House on Bills where we had virtually unanimous consent but there are now some members who legitimately expressed some concern in some of the areas with respect to the compulsion of the wearing of these helmets for adults.

In the administration of this legislation we will take into account very seriously all of the comments that have been put forward by honourable members. In fact, I would continue to invite comment from honourable members as to an appropriate date for proclamation. As the members know, this legislation is written so that it may be proclaimed by Order in Council and that timing is flexible so I would certainly be willing to receive any further representations on what the members feel is an appropriate time-frame for that proclamation.

With respect to the background information and statistics, I indicated to the members that I would provide that. I will be providing that particularly to those honourable members who raised it in debate. With that, Madam Speaker, I would move third reading of the bill.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 30. Would all those in favour please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the bill be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 2736]

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 31.

Bill No. 31 - Real Estate Trading Act.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to stand and move Bill No. 31 for third reading.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 31. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, that concludes Government Business for today. We will sit tomorrow from 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. and following Question Period we will begin debate on the resolution introduced on Friday afternoon on rule changes. I will anticipate that will probably run us to the conclusion of tomorrow. I move that we adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is that we adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

The House stands adjourned.

[The House rose at 6:19 p.m.]