Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Tue., Dec. 3, 1996

Fourth Session


Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Oppose, Mr. R. Chisholm 2738
No. 48, Sales Tax Act, Hon. W. Gillis 2738
Res. 951, Rules of the House - Changes: Assembly Matters Comm. -
Refer, Dr. J. Hamm 2739
Res. 952, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Fair Tax Comm'n. -
Establish, Mr. R. Chisholm 2739
Res. 953, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Negative Impact -
Consider, Dr. J. Hamm 2740
Res. 954, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Scrap, Mr. R. Russell 2741
Res. 955, Gov't. (N.S.) - Open: Reality - Secrecy, Mr. G. Moody 2741
Res. 956, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Condemn, Mr. R. Chisholm 2742
Res. 957, Rules of the House (Amendment): Issues - Accountable Ensure,
Mr. T. Donahoe 2742
Res. 958, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hfx. (Port) Charges:
User-Pay Concept - Stress, Mr. B. Taylor 2743
Res. 959, Cape Breton Nova MLA - Future: Voters - Decision,
Mr. J. Leefe 2744
Res. 960, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Gasoline: Price Control - Urge,
Mr. J. Holm 2744
Res. 961, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Support - Test,
Mr. R. Russell 2745
Res. 962, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Consideration -
Reasonability, Ms. E. O'Connell 2746
Res. 963, House of Assembly - Resolution: Approval - Authority,
Mr. A. MacLeod 2746
Res. 964, Health - Gambling Addiction: Assistance - Undertake,
Mr. G. Archibald 2747
Res. 965, Health - Home Care: Services - Provision, Mr. D. McInnes 2747
Res. 966, Justice - Correction Facilities: Future - Secrecy Condemn,
Mr. J. Holm 2748
Res. 967, Health - Care: Firefighters - Life-Saving Equipment Ensure,
Mr. G. Moody 2748
Res. 968, Justice - Maintenance Enforcement Prog.: Flaws - Remedy,
Mr. T. Donahoe 2749
Res. 969, Nat. Res. - Mobil Oil: Royalty Agreement - Reveal,
Mr. G. Archibald 2750
Res. 970, Commun. Serv. - Disabled Persons: Services Strategy -
Urge, Ms. E. O'Connell 2750
Res. 971, Educ. - Glace Bay HS Sr. Band: Carnegie Hall Appearance -
Best Wishes, Mr. A. MacLeod 2751
Vote - Affirmative 2752
Res. 972, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Scrap, Mr. B. Taylor 2752
No. 379, Law Amdts. Comm. - Witnesses: Appearance - Rights,
Dr. J. Hamm 2753
No. 380, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Consultation - Ensure,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2754
No. 381, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Legislation -
Law Amdts. Process, Dr. J. Hamm 2756
No. 382, Health - Ambulance: Purchase - Numbers, Mr. G. Moody 2757
No. 383, Health: Ambulance Operators Assoc. - Meeting Confirmation,
Dr. J. Hamm 2759
No. 384, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Implementation -
Date Change, Mr. R. Chisholm 2760
No. 385, Health: Rural Study (Graham Scott) - Remuneration,
Mr. B. Taylor 2763
No. 386, Justice - PST & GST Harmonization: Legislation -
Law Amdts. Process, Mr. R. Russell 2765
No. 387, Health - Reform: Study - Waiting Times, Dr. J. Hamm 2766
No. 388, ERA - OSP Consultants: Job Creation - Guarantees,
Mr. J. Holm 2768
No. 389, Agric.: Beef Producers - Assistance, Mr. D. McInnes 2771
No. 390, Health - Home Care: Services - Provision, Mr. R. Russell 2772
Res. 921, Rules of the House (Amendment - Extended Sitting Hours),
Hon. R. Mann 2773
Hon. R. Mann 2773
Dr. J. Hamm 2778
Mr. R. Chisholm 2792
Adjournment moved 2804
Vote - Negative 2805
Mr. J. Leefe^ 2805
Mr. R. Russell 2815
Adjourned debate 2820
Environ. - Tire Recycling Progs.: Process - Reveal:
Mr. B. Taylor 2820
Hon. W. Adams 2823
Mr. J. Holm 2826
Res. 921, Rules of the House (Amendment - Extended Sitting Hours),
Hon. R. Mann 2829
Mr. R. Russell [debate resumed] 2829
Adjournment moved 2836
Adjournment out of order 2836
Mr. B. Taylor 2837
Ms. E. O'Connell 2846
Adjourned debate 2849
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Dec. 4th at 2:00 p.m. 2849
No. 26, Nat. Res. - Silviculture Funding (Gov't. [Can.]), Mr. B. Taylor 2850
No. 27, Nat. Res. - Moose Hunt Special (C.B. Highlands): Status -
Update, Mr. B. Taylor 2851
No. 28, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Overtime Occasional - Policy,
Mr. B. Taylor 2851

[Page 2737]


Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

12:00 P.M.


Hon. Wayne Gaudet


Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we start with the daily routine, I wish to advise all honourable members of this House that starting this Wednesday, December 4th, the order paper will no longer include all the resolutions that are before the House. Only additional resolutions which are printed for this Thursday and subsequent days will be printed on the order paper. I would request that honourable members keep their Wednesday, December 4th order paper in order to make reference for future needs. The reason why the full list of resolutions will not be reprinted every day is strictly to save on our forest resources. I want to thank the honourable members for their cooperation. (Applause)

Before we begin with our daily proceedings, are there any introductions?

The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you and therefore through you to the House, 23 Grade 12 political science students from that great high school in Dartmouth, Dartmouth High School, and their teacher, Frances LeFort. (Applause)

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


[Page 2738]


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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition that reads as follows: "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.". There are 1,029 signatures and I am now signing my name to the petition and I will table it as so, 1030.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.






Bill No. 48 - An Act to Implement the Comprehensive Integrated Tax Co-ordination Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a message from the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. The message is as follows:

"The Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Nova Scotia, in accordance with the Constitution Act, 1867, recommends to the House of Assembly that the House of Assembly pass a Bill entitled 'An Act to Implement the Comprehensive Integrated Tax Co-ordination Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of Nova Scotia.'.


J. James Kinley

Lieutenant Governor

Halifax, Nova Scotia

December, 1996".

[Page 2739]

MR. SPEAKER: The message is tabled.

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


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


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

Whereas in responding to a request to elect the Speaker of the House, the Premier referred to the Committee on Assembly Matters stating there was a process in place for making such change; and

Whereas the Savage Government dismissed the process for changing the Rules and Forms of Procedure in order to ram the BST through the Legislature and down the throats of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas it is abundantly clear that this government will trumpet the process for changing procedures in the House when it is convenient and casually toss it aside when it is not;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier, who claims he believes in following proper procedure, immediately advise his House Leader that he believes in fair play and that any change in the hours of the House must be approved by the Committee on Assembly Matters.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.


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

Whereas on April 16, 1992, the Minister of Health, the former Minister of Finance, presented a resolution to this House stating that the impact of harmonization would be more negative than positive; and

[Page 2740]

Whereas the Minister of Health, the godfather of the BST, called in that resolution for establishment of a fair tax commission to allow full public input into reform of our tax system; and

Whereas the godfather of the BST more recently called the harmonization deal the biggest tax change since Confederation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House unanimously endorse the recommendation made by the member for Cape Breton The Lakes, that the government establish a fair tax commission to allow for public input and comment on our taxation system before they even consider harmonizing the GST and the PST, the biggest tax change since Confederation.

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

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


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 Liberal Government came to power providing promises to put unemployed Nova Scotians back to work; and

Whereas their innovation in this regard ended with 30-60-90; and

Whereas the Canadian Federation of Independent Business recently disclosed that cutting taxes for consumers is strong encouragement for job creation;

Therefore be it resolved that the government direct its attention to the strong negative impact the BST will have in job creation and abandon its plans to impose the BST.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

[Page 2741]


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

Whereas with the introduction of the BS Tax, Nova Scotia would become the only jurisdiction in North America that would have a legislative requirement of mandatory tax included pricing; and

Whereas the Association of Unique Country Inns believes that this will result in a great disadvantage as potential visitors to Nova Scotia compare the posted cost of Nova Scotia accommodations against those from other travel destinations; and

Whereas this is yet another example that should show the government that the BS Tax loses jobs, not creates them;

Therefore be it resolved that the BS Tax be put where it belongs, on the growing scrap heap of bad Liberal ideas, ideas that continue to cost the people of Nova Scotia in jobs and taxes.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.


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 Nova Scotia Government has recently published NovaSource, a guide to information held and collected by government; and

Whereas in the foreword to NovaSource, the Premier lauds the guide as a tool to help Nova Scotians understand how our government is organized, what type of records are collected and maintained, and where and how to obtain further information about these records; and

Whereas the Premier's Government has hidden information on the BST, the Resource Recovery Fund, Sable Offshore Development, the Seniors Pharmacare Program and casinos, to name but a few;

[Page 2742]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier save his soothing words of open government for Liberal campaign rhetoric, when the striking reality for his government is one of unprecedented secrecy.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.


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 Tory sponsored GST shifted some $3 billion in taxes off mainly central Canadian corporations onto Atlantic Canadian consumers; and

Whereas the Liberals say they will fix that by shifting $240 million a year off Nova Scotia corporations and onto Nova Scotia consumers, thus creating jobs; and

Whereas there is no more reason to believe that the BST tax break will create jobs, since the GST tax break did not;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the BS Tax as a case of adding Liberal inflicted insult to Tory imposed injury against Nova Scotia consumers and taxpayers.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.


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 Government House Leader is more concerned about buying hammers at Sears than he is with consulting Nova Scotians; and

Whereas it is not the hammer from Sears, but the hammer of the BST that has Nova Scotians frightened to death; and

[12:15 p.m.]

[Page 2743]

Whereas no government in the history of this province has ever consulted less on vital issues of the day than this present Liberal Government;

Therefore be it resolved that before the Premier starts thinking about buying more raspberries for Christmas and the Government House Leader thinks about buying more hammers, they begin thinking about what is important for all Nova Scotians and make themselves fully accountable on all issues instead of trashing the Rules of this House and denying the right of the Nova Scotian taxpayers to be heard.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make an introduction before I read my resolution. Through you and to all members of the House, sitting in the west gallery is Mr. Lorne Armstrong from the community of Urbania, Hants County. Lorne is our candidate for the Progressive Conservative nod in the constituency of Hants East and I would ask the House to give Mr. Armstrong a warm applause. (Applause)


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

Whereas this year cargo tonnage through the Port of Halifax is expected to reach 13 million tons while providing approximately 7,000 jobs and $230 million in income; and

Whereas shipping industry representatives and Coast Guard personnel spent months in preparing recommendations on reducing marine service fees charged to commercial shipping by the Canadian Coast Guard; and

Whereas recommendations now being reviewed by Canada's Assistant Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Coast Guard call for 1997-98 reductions of 4.3 cents per ton for vessels unloaded in eastern Nova Scotia, including the Port of Halifax;

Therefore be it resolved that since the recommendations presently being reviewed by the federal government reflect a more original user pay concept, the Minister of the Economic Renewal Agency and the Minister of Transportation and Public works, along with the Premier, stress to Ottawa the importance of these recommendations being accepted.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

[Page 2744]

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, prior to introducing my notice of motion I would also like to make an introduction from the gallery. Seated in the west gallery is a person who is well known to many in this House. He is an author, a lecturer, a long time broadcaster and savant, Mr. Doug Fraser. (Applause)


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 former Speaker of this House, and I stress immediately former, last week passed a resolution condemning the Progressive Conservative Party as well as a certain other Party on this side of the House for criticism of the BS Tax and the harm it will inflict on Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the former Speaker called this criticism of the BS Tax a, " . . . coalition of confusion" and really it is the former Speaker who throughout his chameleon career as New Democrat, Cape Breton Labor Party, Independent and for the moment Liberal member has demonstrated nothing but confusion; and

Whereas the tarnish of the former Speaker's career is not at all dissimilar to the public's tarnished view of this Savage Liberal Government and BS Tax;

Therefore be it resolved that it be the voters of Nova Scotia who send the former Speaker, this Liberal Government, and the BS Tax, not just to the back bench but indeed to the park bench.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.


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

[Page 2745]

Whereas the recently released report of the New Brunswick Legislature's all-Party Committee on Gasoline Pricing paints a distressing portrait of an industry engaged in unfair practices; and

Whereas the report clearly shows that the tendency of the big oil companies to gouge consumers can be kept in check through the presence of independent competitors; and

Whereas in order to prevent this beneficial competition the big oil companies engage in predatory pricing practices here that would net them hefty fines in 21 American States;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Minister of Business and Consumer Affairs to stop going around in circles with big oil and get on with the necessary regulatory and legislative changes to ensure there is fair competition within the gasoline business in order to protect consumers and independents from the predatory pricing practices of big oil.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.


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

Whereas in explaining the reasons for pulling his last minute Friday high jinks the Premier said he was responding to the wishes of Nova Scotians who have asked that his government get on with the business of legislating the BST; and

Whereas the Premier is obviously living in la la land and not Nova Scotia where the opposition to this tax has generated responses from thousands of angry Nova Scotians who believe this government has no mandate and no right to impose this new tax on consumers; and

Whereas the Premier has had so much faith in his new tax plan and is so convinced Nova Scotians want this new tax he has refused to hold open consultation or to accept invitations to appear on open line radio shows;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately return home from la la land and that he put his statements that Nova Scotians want the tax to the true test by either dissolving the House and going to the polls or, at the very least, committing to a process of open public consultations throughout the province.

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

[Page 2746]

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


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 on April 14, 1987 the honourable member for Antigonish, now the Minister of Finance, condemned the Conservative Government for changing the rules and forcing legislation by exhaustion upon members of this House; and

Whereas now that the shoe is on the other foot, the honourable member for Antigonish sits quietly by while his House Leader brings in rule changes to facilitate legislation by exhaustion; and

Whereas the main legislation to be created through the process of exhaustion concerns the BST;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance recognize that the BST which his predecessor has called the most important tax change since Confederation should not be enacted into law by a bunch of weary, bleary eyed legislators.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.


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

Whereas the government was asleep at the switch and permitted passage of Resolution No. 773, moved by the member for Sackville-Cobequid; and

Whereas after passage of the resolution the government said that a resolution is "an opinion of the House" and thus should be "considered very strongly" but is not a binding decision; and

[Page 2747]

Whereas this government has now introduced a resolution amending the rules governing this Legislative Assembly;

Therefore be it resolved that this government cannot have it both ways, either a resolution is binding or not, so if their resolution regarding rule changes is binding, then all resolutions passed shall be binding.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.


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 Liberal Government's love affair with gambling has reached international standards; and

Whereas Bessie's family in Quebec have written to Ann Landers about their sister in Halifax who is playing at the casino 14 hours a day; and

Whereas upon the opening of the casino in Halifax Bessie has gambled on a daily basis, losing more than $100,000 while taking out a second mortgage on her home and borrowing money from her youngest son as well as relatives and friends;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government undertake to assist Bessie's family and Bessie herself as well as the 52,000 other Nova Scotians who have been identified as having or potentially having an addiction to gambling.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.


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

Whereas the Minister of Health and his travelling road show across the province are telling Nova Scotians about the virtue of home care; and

[Page 2748]

Whereas the Minister of Health, despite his many empty speeches, continues to ignore Nova Scotians urgently in need of home care; and

Whereas the most recent example of the minister's ignorance towards home care is found with the Fisher family of Glenholme, Colchester County, who are looking for a form of home care assistance to adequately care for a family member who has limited mobility and is unable to speak;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately explain why his government has continued to make the Fisher family and many others across Nova Scotia suffer, if home care truly is what he reports it to be.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.


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

Whereas this Liberal Government continues to push forward with its plan to bring private-for-profit prisons to Nova Scotia; and

Whereas in typical fashion this government carries out its dubious designs in the utmost secrecy; and

Whereas the government's refusal to allow a representative of the correctional officers union to participate in discussions between the government and its private sector partner;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Liberal Government for once again choosing secrecy and back-room wheeling and dealing ahead of open consultation on the future shape of correctional facilities in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.


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

[Page 2749]

Whereas the Minister of Health continues to pitch the wonders of his government's emergency health service initiatives, despite numerous examples of how blatantly flawed these services are; and

Whereas firefighters are being called upon, more and more, to the scenes of medical emergencies; and

Whereas since 1994 firefighters in two sections of the now Halifax Regional Municipality have been called to assist with nearly 100 people suffering from cardiac and respiratory arrest, with over one-third of those individuals not living long enough to get to hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that if the Minister of Health is committed to health care, he immediately begin discussions with firefighters, in order to ensure firefighters have the necessary life-saving equipment required to stabilize victims of cardiac arrest and other life-threatening emergencies.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.


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 Maintenance Enforcement Program has received 211,907 calls between its January 16, 1996, start date and September 30, 1996; and

Whereas 14,000 cases currently enrolled in the program amounts to nearly 15 phone calls per case during a seven and one-half month period; and

Whereas the Province of Nova Scotia employs only 22 maintenance enforcement officers, each responsible for at least 500 cases, leaving maintenance recipients "out in the cold" according to a Nova Scotia Legal Aid lawyer, and hundreds of Nova Scotians looking to have their maintenance claims processed;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice take immediate action to remedy serious flaws in the Maintenance Enforcement Program and, through dialogue with maintenance enforcement officials, clients and external consultants, design a new system which will best serve Nova Scotians immediately.

[Page 2750]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.


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

Whereas an Associated Press report stated that many New England coastal communities would make a lot of money from any Sable Island gas shipped from Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this government continues to keep Nova Scotians in the dark not only about when any offshore development would happen but about its royalty arrangement with Mobil Oil; and

Whereas foreign companies and foreign citizens appear to know more about what is happening in the offshore than the people of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this government not shroud itself in a cloud of secrecy but come clean with the people of Nova Scotia and let them know the details of the royalty agreement and the status of offshore gas development in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


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 NEEDS Project, which is sponsored by the Maritime School of Social Work, the Metro Resource Centre for Independent Living and the Disabled Persons Commission, reported today on the state of services for the disabled in Nova Scotia; and

[12:30 p.m.]

Whereas the NEEDS Project identified a broad range of requirements that are not now being met on behalf of the disabled in Nova Scotia; and

[Page 2751]

Whereas the final report of the NEEDS Project proposes a comprehensive strategy involving all three levels of government to address the unmet needs, service gaps, and service inefficiencies facing the disabled;

Therefore be it resolved that on this International Day of Disabled Persons this House urge the government to take leadership in ensuring the implementation of a comprehensive strategy for the provision of services to Nova Scotians with disabilities and that disabled Nova Scotians be fully involved in this process.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed that notice be waived?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.


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

Whereas the 104 member Glace Bay High School senior musical band is one of 13 school bands from around the world selected to play at Carnegie Hall in New York; and

Whereas the Glace Bay High School senior musical band will play in March of the new year for the International Musical Festival; and

Whereas the Glace Bay High School senior musical band was chosen following a videotaped performance of the band sent to judges exemplifying high performance standards in material, balance and overall style;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature extend our best wishes to Glace Bay High School music teacher Barbara Stettar and band students as they prepare to represent Nova Scotia on the world stage.

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

[Page 2752]

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.


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 BS Tax will increase cost for residential properties such as apartments, according to the Investment Property Owners' Association of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas these higher costs - which include electricity, home heating fuel, property repairs and many other professional services - will be directly downloaded to rent-paying tenants; and

Whereas most rent-paying tenants are Nova Scotians on fixed, middle or lower incomes such as seniors and students;

Therefore be it resolved that the Savage Liberal Government call off their attack on Nova Scotia's most vulnerable and scrap the BS Tax.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Before moving to Orders of the Day, I wish to remind all members of the House in regard to Oral Question Period that I have noticed in the last two weeks that preambles to questions have been too long. Also, preambles have not been used when asking supplementary questions, according to the precedents of this House and answers have been too long.

I wish to bring to the honourable members' attention Beauchesne, Page 120, Paragraph 409(2), "The question must be brief. A preamble need not exceed one carefully drawn sentence. A long preamble on a long question takes an unfair share of time and provokes the same sort of reply. A supplementary question should need no preamble.".

I would request that all members give full consideration to this matter.

[Page 2753]

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Speaker has indicated to members on the Opposition benches that certain restrictions and rules apply to the asking of questions. Would the Speaker entertain as well putting some restrictions and rules to the answering of questions? (Interruptions)

SOME HON. MEMBERS: He did, John.

AN HON. MEMBER: He said the answers were too long.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. HAMM: Simply, the Speaker has simply made a statement that the answers were too long. Would the Speaker entertain perhaps suggesting to members on the government benches, when the question is clearly not being answered and the substance of the minister's reply is not an attempt to answer the question, that the Speaker will invoke a rule that would require that the government member, as well, would take his place?

So what I am saying to the Speaker is that we on the Opposition benches are prepared to follow the instructions of the Speaker and that instructions, as well, must be issued on the way in which government members field and answer questions.

MR. SPEAKER: The point is noted. It is not a point of order.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. I wonder if the Premier would tell the House if he has a strong belief in the right and privilege of every Nova Scotian or group of Nova Scotians to comment on legislation during the process of the Law Amendments Committee?

THE PREMIER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, within reason.

DR. HAMM: Would the Premier then be willing to make his belief known to the chairman of the Law Amendments Committee, and those responsible for arranging appointments, that all Nova Scotians or groups of Nova Scotians who wish to appear at the Law Amendments Committee will be given an opportunity to make their presentation? Would he undertake to make sure that those who are doing the booking and, as well, the chairman

[Page 2754]

of the Law Amendments Committee, are fully aware of the Premier's belief and, as well, his endorsation of the right and privilege of Nova Scotians to appear?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if that is one of the shorter questions, I would love to hear one of the longer ones. That issue of whether I will direct the chairman is not an issue that I will comment on. In this government, the ministers know my views on this and it is our intention that the people of this province shall have ample opportunity to give their views on what, fundamentally, is going to be the best tax change that ever happened to this province. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, failing to get a commitment from the Premier, I will go to the Attorney General and refer him to Page 33 of the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly in which, under Rule 37A(2), entitled, "Submissions from general public", it says, "When the debate has been concluded the Speaker shall put the question on the motion and the motion shall be referred to the Law Amendments Committee or, if the House so directs, to a Standing or Special Committee of the House and the Committee to which the motion is referred shall receive submissions from the general public and report back to the House.".

Is the Attorney General prepared to ensure that this rule will, in fact, be complied with and that members of the general public will be, in fact, able to make submissions to the Law Amendments Committee?

HON. JAY ABBASS: If the Leader of the Opposition is referring to Rule 37A, I would guess he is referring to the clause dealing with debate on constitutional amendments. I am not sure if that was his intention. (Interruptions)

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


MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Premier. The people of Nova Scotia have before them, at the present time, what the Premier and the godfather of the BST have described as the most significant tax change since Confederation. Nova Scotians need an opportunity to review and to digest the details of this significant tax change.

I would like to ask the Premier what plans does he and his government have to ensure that all Nova Scotians have a full and fair opportunity to digest and to make representations to this government on matters relating to the BS Tax?

[Page 2755]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to show the people of this province the first piece of information which will indeed enable them to understand that there are large numbers of items with the harmonized sales tax where taxes are down. There is no HST on the following, and items too in which the HST will increase. This is the kind of information which we, as an open government, will make very available to the public and as frequently as we possibly can.

In addition to that we will continue to indicate to the public the meetings that we have started, the meetings that we have had with many, many different groups and we would encourage people to come to the Law Amendments Committee as has been stated.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let's not be completely unfair to the Premier, that is information. Some would suggest it is not particularly accurate or that it may be somewhat misleading but nonetheless it is information. I think Nova Scotians deserve that and they deserve other information. They deserve an opportunity to not only receive information but to digest it. We have all been to the Law Amendments Committee and we know that there are some defects with that process, including scheduling and the fact that people have to come to that committee from far and wide and sometimes at considerable cost in terms of expense and time in order to make a 15 minute presentation.

Given that these defects mean that many people cannot come, given the fact that we are now running up against Christmas and people are going to be distracted by other things, I would like to ask the Premier will he commit here today that a committee of this House, whether it be the Law Amendments Committee or some other appropriate committee, travel the province and give Nova Scotians a fair and full opportunity to review, to digest the information he is putting out and to consider the aspects that are concluded in this bill so that they can have an opportunity to give him some feedback on what the ramifications will be as far as they are concerned?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, these supplementaries and other questions seem to be longer since you invoked this kind of recommendation. Perhaps you should insist on it. The simple answer is no. We have had many consultations, we will continue to have consultations and I am in effect receiving many, many of them complimentary, some of them not so complimentary but I am listening to them as I will to all of the people who write to me.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary to the Premier is how can he, having campaigned against harmonization, having campaigned for a fair tax commission, bring in something that he calls the most significant tax change since Confederation? Why has he chosen now to refuse Nova Scotians an opportunity to be heard on the most unfair and significant tax imposed since the GST?

[Page 2756]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as usual most of his preliminary remarks are full of innuendo and lack of fact. That is the usual way that he proceeds, the verbosity that distinguishes his questions. The issue that I will tell you is that we will continue to listen to the people of this province on the best opportunity this province has had, virtually since Confederation, to forge ahead, to create new business, and create new wealth in this province. That is what this tax is about, not the kind of drivel that we have heard from the other side. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the Premier, the Premier in response to my previous question as to whether or not he felt that Nova Scotians could come to the Law Amendments Committee said that Nova Scotians could come to the Law Amendments Committee within reason. My specific question to the Premier is simply, would the Premier give a description for the members of the House and others as to what his interpretation is of within reason?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am glad of that opportunity to clarify the issue. First of all, we would not obviously appreciate one hour presentations by people, that has never been the tradition. The length of time however will not be decided by me but by a duly appointed chairman of that committee whom this House has appointed.

[12:45 p.m.]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to spend some considerable time in Law Amendments Committee. I might remind the Premier that submissions are not one hour in length but, in fact, the chairman usually makes a ruling that individuals can speak for 10 minutes and groups that represent a large number of Nova Scotians may be afforded 15 or 20 minutes. I can't ever recall anyone in Law Amendments Committee having one hour.

In reality, what I was asking the Premier is, daily we are inundated with Nova Scotians who will be fundamentally hurt in their ability to provide the necessities of life with the blended sales tax. They want an opportunity to address this with members of the government and they can do this through Law Amendments Committee. Does the Premier have a commitment that Nova Scotians whose lives will be seriously affected by this tax, which has no mandate to do what it is doing in terms of tax reform and increasing taxation, will afford opportunity to Nova Scotians to appear at Law Amendments Committee and have their say about the blended sales tax?

[Page 2757]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, once again we have the totally distorted view put forward by the Leader of the Opposition, refusing to accept the fact, for instance, that items going down will include snack food, shampoo, telephones, toys.

AN HON. MEMBER: Answer the question.

THE PREMIER: The question was about the tax and I am answering some of the questions. Carpets, new and used automobiles, there are a lot of (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I hope you have a placating effect on those people opposite.

The distorted view that is continually presented is, of course, one view that is done for politics, and we understand that. The people of this province will have an ample opportunity to talk to that committee. I have stated that. It will continue with the normal tradition of the House but the chairman of that committee, who is an excellent, trusted, well-experienced person, will make the decision. He knows that as well as I do.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciated you bringing the Premier to order for being off the question. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. HAMM: Will the Premier commit that every Nova Scotian who makes application to come to Law Amendments Committee will have that opportunity? Yes or no?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the dramatic yes or no is a change in the Leader of the Opposition. It is as accurate as many of his other statements. That decision will be made by the chairman of Law Amendments Committee. I have said that three times, I say it again and I have absolute trust in the judgment of the person who is the chairman of the Law Amendments Committee.

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


MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. Could the minister tell the House if the government is still committed to purchasing 150 new ambulances through Tri-Star, as was announced by the former Minister of Health? Is he still committed to doing that?

[Page 2758]

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, we are committed to purchasing the number of ambulances that are necessary to service the population of Nova Scotia, as determined by the work that is now being done across the province.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, that is sure a non-commitment to anything. The minister knows that a study was done by the former minister and it was determined that we would go from 163 ambulances to 150. That was the commitment, that was the study. Now I am hearing that the minister is saying we are not going to have 150, that we may have down to 100 or 110. I am asking the minister what has changed in this province since that initial study was done? Are we smaller as a province? Are less people getting sick? I understand that more people are needing to use the services because of the fire departments getting out, and because of hospitals closing there is a greater distance to travel with the ambulances. How is it the minister can say now we do not need 150 when that study said we did and we are going to go down to maybe 100? Can the minister please explain what has happened in the interim?

MR. BOUDREAU: Yes, Mr. Speaker, there is an easy answer to that. We are consulting. We are going widespread across the province, talking to ambulance operators, getting information from them and attempting to determine in great detail, on the ground, in a very protracted process, exactly how many we need. My question would be, why would the honourable member want us to buy 150 if we needed 145?

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, a final supplementary to the minister - it was his government and his study that said we needed 150, and not me. I am sure, as he says he is consulting, that the ambulance operators in this province are not being consulted; you are dictating to them what is going to happen - I would ask the minister, he ran ads in the paper saying that the EHS system was getting people to hospitals faster, and last week he said he would table in this House the data that says why that ad was run. In other words, how is it you can prove that we are getting people quicker to the hospital? He promised to table the information and I have not gotten it. I would ask the minister, would he finally, please, table that information today?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member brings this up again. He asked me, actually, to table two things that day. One of them I tabled the same day and the second one, which he brings up now, I sent a letter to him that same day and asked him to provide me a copy of the ad he was referring to, so that I could get the information and I have yet to receive a reply to that letter. (Interruptions)

[Page 2759]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health surprised me with the answer in which he said that there was a consultation going on with ambulance operators, because I had a call from an ambulance operator in the last couple of days and he had attended, in the last week, a meeting of the Ambulance Operators Association in which a lawyer representing the department simply said to the operator that you will now have two-thirds the number of ambulances that you have had in your jurisdiction.

I am referring, particularly, to my own area, Pictou County. Traditionally, we have had six ambulances; five in the New Glasgow area and one in the Pictou area and, of course, if the Pictou ambulance was, in fact, engaged, another would go to Pictou. They were told, unilaterally, that, in fact, they would have to carry on with three ambulances in New Glasgow and one ambulance in Pictou. It was not a consultation; it was a statement.

First of all, is the minister prepared to indicate to the House that that meeting did not occur and that his department representative did not go to the operators and give them specific numbers as to the number of ambulances they were going to have to utilize in the future to carry out ambulance services in their area?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Well, to the honourable Leader of the Opposition, the process is actually a three-stage process. The first stage is to determine across the province appropriate service areas and service boundaries, and that process has been completed. It was done in conjunction with ambulance operators and, indeed, their association; in fact, I am informed that these boundaries were reached by agreement. The second phase of the consultation is to determine, within those boundaries what type of equipment and what type of service is necessary. That is the second stage; in fact, that is what is going on now. The third stage, Mr. Speaker, is to determine, once you know exactly how many ambulances and so on, who delivers the service, and now that stage we have not completed yet anywhere in the province. So that is the three-stage process.

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of things that have happened with respect to ambulances over the years. They used to park ambulances for the most part in funeral home parking lots because that was convenient for the operator, but not necessarily convenient for the people who had to get the service. So, yes, there will be some changes.

[Page 2760]

DR. HAMM: I thank the minister for his answer. What the minister is prepared to call consultation certainly does not sound like consultation to anyone else. The minister has indicated he is prepared to ask the ambulance operators how many ambulances are required. I cannot speak for all the areas in the province, but I can speak for my area, and the answer to that question is four ambulances simply are not enough. They cannot provide the service.

For example, the day that the operator called me, bearing in mind he now has six ambulances in service, three of them at that particular minute were involved in transporting patients to Halifax, which is an ever-increasing activity because of the difficulty with specialist services in many of our regional hospitals.

I am answering the consultation. If the question were asked are four ambulances enough in my area, then the answer is simply no, it is not enough. My question for the minister, is the minister prepared then to listen to what the owner/operator of the ambulance service in Pictou County told me? Will he listen to that same information as part of his consultation process?

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, people from the Department of Health are going out. They are having these discussions. They are receiving the input. In point of fact, one of the reasons I did not give an exact number to the Leader of the Opposition's colleague, as to exactly how many ambulances we will need, is that at this point we are not certain because of this process. I will not only listen to that ambulance operator he speaks of, I will listen to him as well and I will take his opinion. We will do this as we move forward and develop the plan.

DR. HAMM: By way of final supplementary, is the minister, prepared to indicate to the House whether or not there is a document circulating in his department indicating that the objective is between 100 and 110 ambulances to serve the Province of Nova Scotia?

MR. BOUDREAU: I will take that question on notice and I will attempt to see if such a document exists, but I can assure you once again that the final number of ambulances in this province is not determined at this point, and will only be determined after the type of process I have described.

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



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I will direct my question through you to the Premier. The Premier, back on November 14th, confirmed that the legislation with respect to the BST would not be introduced in the Legislature and put into force until the spring. I would like to ask the Premier if he could explain to members of this House and to Nova

[Page 2761]

Scotians why it is that he changed his mind? Was he misleading us when he made that statement or did something else come up in the meantime?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, one could be forgiven for asking what planet he was on, since they have led the charge to have us produce the legislation in this House. Our decision was initially based upon the belief that we were going to harmonize the timing with the federal government; our understanding was that that would be in February. The federal government called us up and said, they were proposing to introduce the Ways and Means Bill last Friday, so we agreed that we would present the bill in keeping with the announced decision that we would harmonize the timing. That is why we did it, and we are very pleased that we are.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would have hoped that it would have been the pressure of the campaign that we had mounted that had in fact changed the Premier's mind, but I had my doubts and that is why I asked the question. It appears obvious that it was not us but the feds who changed the Premier's mind.

[1:00 p.m.]

This leads to my first supplementary, Mr. Speaker. The federal Minister of Finance, back in October, followed by the Minister of National Revenue, said to Nova Scotians and to Nova Scotia, take your time. This is a significant tax change. Consult, discuss, digest and review the ramifications of this deal. There is no hurry, there is no rush is what they told us. So I want to ask the Premier if, in fact, he is prepared to take his time, to give Nova Scotians a fair and full opportunity to review the details and the implications of the BS Tax or is he simply bringing it in now to ram it up through to Christmas and try to shove it down Nova Scotians' throats like they did with the casino legislation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the NDP needs a few anatomical corrections. The issue that we have discussed, quite simply, is that this is a bill that is of great importance. There has been a lot of discussion on it. We, on this side of the House, have met with our constituents on many occasions and we will continue to do so in the next few weeks. Let me reassure you, let me reassure the people of this province, that there will be adequate discussion on this whole issue here in this House. The way that it may proceed may involve a little overtime, which most of the people on the other side don't really understand, we do and we understand that overtime is something done by many Nova Scotians. We believe that we will have an opportunity and so will the people of this province to see this debate clearly and fairly put before them and we think that they will then subsequently agree that this is a wonderful bill.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the legislation is being introduced now. I am pleased to have the opportunity to debate this whether it be over 24 hours or over two weeks because I have a lot to say. People have said a lot to me about their concerns about the BS Tax and I want to share that with the Premier and his colleagues. There is also

[Page 2762]

the question of consulting and discussing this issue with Nova Scotians. I would like the Premier to, in fact, admit, come clean with Nova Scotians and members of this House . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . that the reason why they are introducing the legislation now and that they are bringing in the hammer from Sears . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . Mr. Speaker, is because each and every day that passes, hundreds and thousands of Nova Scotians . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I am sure the honourable member has a question.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . who find out about the BST are angry about it, are opposed to it, and that is what this government is trying to avoid, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: Is that, in fact, what is behind this?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would urge all fair-minded people to put their minds back to a date in January 1995 when those people spoke for 20 hours on the title of a bill, 20 hours on the title of a bill. Now, if you consider that fair and clean tactics used by long-winded people in the Opposition (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: . . . then I am sorry but we have to disagree on that. That is what is called using the House, Mr. Speaker, and what myself and the House Leader have said is that if you proceed to use the same tactics as you have threatened, the same ones that you misused back in 1995, then the process will be altered. It is up to the Opposition to clearly understand (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: . . . that the people of this province do not want 20 hours on the title of a bill.

[Page 2763]

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


MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Health. I understand the minister's department has engaged a Dr. Scott from Ontario to investigate ways (Interruption) I believe that is his name, and make recommendations relative to the medical needs and services of rural Nova Scotia. Can the minister tell this House what the doctor is being paid for his services?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, in the process of discussions with the Medical Society in the province, both the Medical Society and ourselves recognize that there were some areas where rural physicians were not being appropriately compensated and it has to do particularly with emergency room kind of standby service. In rural areas, physicians can put in a lot of time there and if nobody comes in over the weekend, they don't get paid. In fact, in the past that has been the situation. All through the previous governments and so on, there was never an attempt to address that problem.

What we suggested to the Medical Society in this last session of discussions was that we are prepared to do something about that as a government because we recognize it is a problem for rural physicians. With their approbation, we asked if we could get hold of this Dr. Scott who has done similar work in Ontario and ask him to give us some suggestions as to what we might do in Nova Scotia to address the problem. He has done that and, in fact, we have put money on the table. We have said to rural physicians that we are prepared to put $3 million additional funding to address that problem. Not a perfect answer but it will come a long way. So for the first time in the history of Nova Scotia, any government, we will recognize the value of asking rural physicians to be on stand-by service. That's the first time that has ever happened. In fact, I don't know exactly what he charges for his service but I will find out.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister told us that these changes relative to the rural doctors have been made with their approbation. That is, I believe, what the Minister of Health has told us. But a number of rural communities are expressing concern over this government's failure to address their medical needs. In particular, I think of communities such as Westchester, Collingwood, Oxford and Springhill. In fact, last night there was a meeting in Springhill and the meeting was about the concern that the citizens have regarding the lack of 24 hour emergency services in their community.

Can the minister tell the House specifically what recommendations, concerns or comments Dr. Scott has made with respect to the area that I just referenced?

[Page 2764]

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, I just want to correct a little. I said we asked Dr. Scott with the approbation of the Medical Society. That proposal that we put in that I talked about, the $3 million into that standby service, has now gone to the Medical Society and they are consulting their membership across the province. I don't know if our distinguished doctors in the House will be voting on the issue but certainly doctors across the province will be voting on a package in the near future and that is one of the items in the package. I just wanted to correct that point so I wouldn't be inadvertently misleading. That's the point we put on it.

The problem with rural physicians, and there is a problem, is a many sided one. It has to do with remuneration, for example, in such areas as standby emergency service. That is probably one of the reasons why in the area you referred to they have some difficulty. This $3 million package can help with that in that area. It also has to do with lifestyle. It also has to do with back-up. If you are practising by yourself in a rural area, you are concerned about back-up. You are concerned about whether or not your spouse can get employment in that rural community if you go there. There are a whole myriad of issues. It has to do with recruiting.

I will assure the honourable member that we have been now with the Medical Society in the recruiting business seriously for about two years. It is a bit like farming; you have to plow the ground a little bit first, you have to plant the seeds. Some of the results are beginning to show now. There are some areas that I know of across the province that can indicate that we are beginning to have some successes in recruiting.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the Minister of Health is aware that All Saints Hospital in Springhill used to provide 24 hour emergency service. At 11:10 a.m. today our office was advised by one of the minister's many PR people that the document that Dr. Scott worked up was, in fact, an internal document and that it was leaked by one of the doctors involved in discussions with Dr. Scott and that we could not be provided with a copy of that internal document that was funded and financed by the taxpayers of this province. Could the minister tell the House why his department refuses to release this document and will he agree to table it by the close of business today?

MR. BOUDREAU: I think probably the reason, although I am not aware of this directly, is that it serves as the basis of part of the negotiations we are presently involved in with the Medical Society. As such, those negotiations have not been concluded and as I indicated to you there will be a vote going forward probably in the next week or so and in fact, there may even be further discussion on this very point. I think the prudent thing to do is just hold your horses a little bit and when we complete this negotiation or this stage of it, we can let you know.

[Page 2765]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. In view of the fact that the Premier is not willing to give any guarantees to the people of Nova Scotia that they can appear at the Law Amendments Committee and he keeps referring to the Minister of Justice, as Chairman of the Law Amendments Committee, as the person who is going to make that decision, I would ask the Minister of Justice if today in the House he will guarantee that every Nova Scotian who wishes to appear before the Law Amendments Committee and make a presentation on the BS Tax will be permitted to do so?

HON. JAY ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, there are Rules and Forms of Procedure which I have obtained in this House of Assembly and in committees of the House for some years now and I would have every intention of adhering to those rules.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is fairly obvious from the responses of the Premier and the Minister of Justice that certainly justice is not going to be done insofar as this bill is concerned. When the Premier says that a reasonable time will be allotted and he will not give us a definition of what reasonable means, I wonder if the Minister of Justice will tell us what he drew from the Premier's remarks with regard to a reasonable time? What is a reasonable time in the Law Amendments Committee?

MR. ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if there is much to be gained by reading into anyone's words any particular meaning. The member who is asking the question is a former Speaker himself and if he has a view I would appreciate hearing it. The member opposite is also a member of the Law Amendments Committee as far as I know and I would appreciate hearing his views either in this Chamber or outside the Chamber.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if I was Chairman of the Law Amendments Committee all Nova Scotians who wished to appear before the Law Amendments Committee could do so. I would ask in my final supplementary if the Minister of Justice (Interruption) I see that the Minister of Justice is now being coached by another lawyer from Richmond. Would the Minister of Justice confirm that it is his intention to set a definite time limit on the time allotted for people to appear on this bill? In other words, is he going to impose a gag order?

MR. ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to note that the member opposite asking this question is the very same former chairman of the Law Amendments Committee who refused to vote funding - he was a former Speaker excuse me - the Speaker at that time refused to devote funds to funding the Law Amendments Committee so that they could travel throughout the province apparently and take views on the video lottery terminal question.

[Page 2766]

In any case, my predecessor, the former Minister of Justice and my predecessor as chairman of the Law Amendments Committee set a very fair standard by which any future chairman of the Law Amendments Committee should conduct himself or herself and I will try to adhere as closely as possible to that very fair and open-minded standard.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. On the opening day of the House the Minister of Health presented a study which would indicate that waiting lists in Nova Scotia were not being compromised by the reforms that had been going on for the last three years. He presented an analysis of MSI billings that he used in defence of the length of waiting times that exist now in the province; however, those who are closer to the scene indicate that the methodology used was not sound and that, in fact, for example, there had been a number of complaints from people in the province who had been waiting many months for back surgery. Yet, if you look at the study, the indication was that for back surgery the wait was for as little as 90 days and, obviously, that was not the case.

[1:15 p.m.]

Would the minister simply confirm that, in view of the information he has received, since he made that study public, that, in fact, he was premature in proclaiming the results and it was not really an endorsation of anything, particularly the health reform that has gone on in the last three years?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Well first of all, Mr. Speaker, let me say, and I know the honourable member didn't really mean that this was a study or information that I did. This was done by the professionals in the Department of Health, all of whom are highly qualified - we have a statistical division - professionals who have dedicated their lives and, indeed all of their academic training, and all of whom I don't think have any political axe to grind . . .


MR. BOUDREAU: . . . and I don't think I hired one of them, nor my predecessor. I think they were probably all hired by the former government. In any event, whoever hired them, these were highly trained professionals who did this study. They produced the statistics, they gave them to me and I released the statistics to the public.

[Page 2767]

What those statistics purported to demonstrate, in their opinion - and I concur with them - that the trend of the waiting list was not increasing, not catastrophically as the Opposition might characterize and, in fact, in most cases, not at all; it was, in fact, remaining stable or decreasing.

DR. HAMM: Clearly in his answer the minister has backed away from the legitimacy of the study in that he is saying, well, I simply reported a study that was done by others and I bear no responsibility as to whether or not there was any accuracy in those figures; that was the sum and substance of what the minister has just said.

Let me ask the minister - now he has had an opportunity because the study has received scrutiny and the minister must have looked beyond the figures and looked at the methodology - is the minister satisfied that that methodology gave him the information that he wished to give to the people of Nova Scotia, or, as many others have concluded, was the method flawed?

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, again, first of all the honourable member says that I somehow disavowed the thing. I indicated to the honourable member that this study was done by professionals, trained people with university degree upon university degree, trained in that field. I am not a statistician. I would be hesitant, as a matter of fact, to comment on the validity statistically, but apparently the honourable Leader of the Opposition isn't.

I would be interested in seeing what professional analysis - by the people who are in the business - that says this is not legitimate. I have complete confidence in the professionals in the Department of Health who did this and I said I accept their results, and their results are that the trend in waiting lists indicate that they are not increasing catastrophically but, for the most part, they are either remaining stable or decreasing. Now that is the conclusion that they came to and I support that conclusion.

Is the honourable member's question, can we improve on the methodology? Of course we can. As a matter of fact, nothing like this was done by the former government that I could find or that my predecessor could find so we are going to continue to improve it. It is incredible the lack of information on which they made their decisions when they were spending all the taxpayers' money.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the minister does not seem to understand that when, obviously, the conclusions to the study fly in the face of what is actually happening, he should have a responsibility to go back and look at the methodology. Is the minister prepared to commit, in view of the fact that the study is flawed and flies in the face of what is happening in the real world, to meet with representatives from hospitals, representatives from the nursing profession, representatives from the physician community and representatives from the community as a whole, and study what has happened to the accessibility to hospital services,

[Page 2768]

including the waits for surgery; a real study, a real consultation that has relevance in the real world?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, if I stood up in the House and said that that information was completely wrong, flies in the face of reality, he would get up and say, on what basis do you make that statement? Where is the information? Where was your study? That is what he would say to me and he would be right if he said that. So I challenge him. These professionals did that study. These professionals came to a conclusion. If he is going to malign their conclusion, at least have the decency to produce professional information that indicates where they were wrong.

Mr. Speaker, sure there is a problem with methodology. It will not be perfect the second time we do it, or the third time, or the fourth time. We will improve every time. But when you talk about trends, if you use the same methodology in 1993 as you do in 1996, then you are comparing apples to apples. The same criticisms of the methodology that are valid now were valid then. In fact, you can very clearly - and that is legitimately - track the trends. The trends that the honourable member does not want to accept and he is prepared to dismiss with a sweep of his hand and no information, those trends - and this is what is sticking in his craw - show that the trend in waiting lists is either stable or decreasing in the vast majority of procedures in this province and, in fact, we are producing more procedures. There are more procedures being done now than have been done in the past. More things are being done in our health care system and that is a fact. (Applause)

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


MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to address a question through you, sir, to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. The government vigorously applauded itself when it announced that it was going to be giving OSP Consultants close to $2 million in forgivable loans in return for supposedly creating well-paying, high-skilled, technical jobs in Nova Scotia, the average salary of which was supposed to be $32,000. Well, the freedom of information response that we got from the government, in which we were trying to get the details of the contract with OSP Consultants, contained many blanked-out spots, but it contained nothing in terms of any information on the wage levels to be paid by that company.

My question to the minister is, given the fact that the Liberals have decided to give OSP Consultants $9,500 for each job it creates, what requirements or what guarantees did the government receive from OSP Consultants that those jobs would, in fact, be well paying?

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, yes, the government is involved in funding assistance with OSP Consultants, a company that about a year and one-half ago came to Nova Scotia and received some government assistance at that time. Money was not advanced to the

[Page 2769]

company until certain job levels were attained. OSP Consultants met those goals, met the agreements and money was disbursed following the creation of 100 jobs. They also have to maintain those jobs for, I believe, three years in order that the money does not have to be repaid.

They came along this year, again, with a proposal to government to create another 100 jobs along a similar arrangement. We are very happy to see that these jobs, which the average salary is about $32,000, and the conditions applied, again, would see the company having to achieve certain job numbers and having to maintain those numbers over a period of time in order not to have to repay the money.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer, even though he did not tell us what guarantees or assurances he got, in fact, that they would be well paying jobs, which is what I asked.

Mr. Speaker, the majority of Nova Scotians who are living in poverty work in low paying jobs. We know, unfortunately, that Nova Scotia has the dubious record of having gone from number 8 up to number 4 in terms of the number of children living in poverty. I would like to table a job posting from OSP in which they are looking for a highly paid, highly skilled workforce and for which they are offering wages starting out at $5.50 an hour up to a maximum of $15,000 a year, if you follow that wage scale. At $9,500 a job that would mean the province would be paying 63 per cent of the wage level for those. My question to the Minster for the Economic Renewal Agency is, is that what the government considers to be its job strategy, that is, to give huge subsidies to companies to come in and create low paying jobs here in the province?

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, I am not OSP's personnel manager nor do I intend to be their personnel manager. I know that at the press conference that was held to announce the creation of 100 jobs in Dartmouth, the Leader of the New Democratic Party sent someone and asked them to disrupt the proceedings using false information. (Interruptions) The individual admitted to that. This is the style this Party opposite used. A company that is internationally respected and has come to Nova Scotia as part of a cluster, if you will, of IT companies, along with Newbridge, Cisco and Keane and others and they bash those companies.

I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that what we are seeing here and what he has sent along - I don't know where it came from - that certainly those are entry level positions that are not going to be at $32,000 a year.

We are told and despite his pleas to the media and others, we see one individual come along and publicly complain abut this company, talking about working conditions that were terrible when, in fact, an air conditioning system broke down one evening. He said that the heat was unbearable. Well, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that what the New Democratic

[Page 2770]

Party is doing is trying to portray the sensational in here. They are not dealing with the average at all.

MR. HOLM: I thank the minister, Mr. Speaker. I did not know that the MT&T workers worked for the New Democratic Party or for my Leader. I accept and I acknowledge that the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is not the human resources person for the company. (Interruption)

However, Mr. Speaker, my question relates to one clause and very relevant to what the minister just said. One clause not blanked out says, in the agreement the government signed, "The Recipient shall provide to the Minister a human resource plan, if requested.". Mr. Speaker, that human resources plan would either put truth to what the minister is saying or it would make a lie about the claim about the $32,000 average income.

So my question, through you, to the minister is quite simply this, has the minister or has the government requested a copy of that human resources plan, particularly before you gave the extra $1 million agreed to it? Will the minister agree to table that in the House so that we can see for ourselves whether it is fact or fiction, what the minister is saying?

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, now that I have had the opportunity to sit down for a minute, I did look at what the member read from: $5.50 an hour for the first three weeks training; (Interruptions) $6.25 an hour at two months; $7.00 an hour at three months; $8.00 an hour at six months; $9.00-plus an hour at 12 months. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, this is entry level.

The Leader of the New Democratic Party wrote me a letter and said tell OSP to go home. (Interruptions) Well, I do not know what kind of constituents he represents, but I will tell you, a lot of my constituents would be very pleased to work for $9.00 an hour. (Interruptions)

[1:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, not everybody in this province was born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Not everybody was. Some people are very, very pleased to go out and work for $9.00-plus dollars an hour, very pleased to do that. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

[Page 2771]


MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing. A couple of weeks ago in the Legislature my colleague, the Agriculture Critic for our caucus, for Kings North asked you the question in regard to the elimination of Agri-Focus 2000 and the agriculture program. Since that time the minister has tabled in the House part of the new agreement, the Safety Nets agreement with Nova Scotia. However, would the minister not agree that the beef producers in this province are hurting real bad because of beef prices now?

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I agree that the beef producers in this province have had a rough time for 10 years and after the scare that we had in Europe this year, then beef had another setback. But I believe that the management is strong in the beef industry and I personally believe that they are starting to turn it around. I had the great honour last Friday of meeting with the Cattlemen's Association. I met with them in Antigonish and all over the province. I think that we will come up with a program. I am pleased that the honourable member mentioned NISA, because as he knows, under the NISA program, the beef producers are getting an extra bonus above everybody else to sign up under that program.

Mr. Speaker, I think the $18 million program that was announced last week, along with the NAFTA news today, that the agricultural industry in Nova Scotia and the beef industry have certainly had that cloud lifted over their head and I hope we move forward with some good changes in working with the industry.

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's answer, but the fact is that it is a $6 million program a year and it is spread out over quite a number of things and I don't need to go through them because the minister is quite aware of what they are. But I am saying during the past number of years when we were in government, there were problems in the different industries in agriculture, which were the pork producers, the mink producers and the fox breeders. The government of the day did in fact make programs available to those people to tie them over until such time as prices stabilized. Would the minister meet with the beef producers and try to come up with a program to assist these people?

MR. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is right, when I talked to the beef producers they say, Guy, one of the worst things that has happened to us is when the former government had a program to go out and buy more cattle and to keep more cattle on the farm and today or over the past number of years, they claim that was negative. I met with the cattlemen last week. I will meet with the beef producers. I want to tell you that every one of them have told me, Guy, no more handouts, work with the industry to build a solid foundation and that is exactly what I am going to do. I will meet with anybody in Pictou or wherever as soon as I can work it into my agenda, because I have been in public life 25 years and if there is anything I enjoy it is working with the agricultural sector.

[Page 2772]

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that the minister is willing to meet with most anybody, I have no problem with that, I know he will. But the fact is, try to do something that is going to help them out. I am going to make a suggestion to him and if he wants to take it, a lot of those beef producers owe the banks or owe the Farm Loan Board and I see nothing wrong with the minister saying to the Farm Loan Board, if those beef producers who are legitimate producers and are behind in their payments that you try to defer their payments until such time as they are able to do it. It can be done. I ask the minister will he consider doing that?

MR. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, that is exactly the program that the Beef Commission put on the table last Friday when I met with them. My staff is analyzing that total concept now with the industry and, hopefully, that may be the direction we will be going. I cannot give the honourable member that guarantee until the department has analyzed the total thing in partnership, by the way, with the beef industry.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.


MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. A lady aged 89 and her husband aged 92 were getting home care. They were getting four hours per day five days a week. The wife had to go to a nursing home and the husband aged 92 now has been left with a total of four hours spread over two days of home care. He complained and he was told, well your daughter who lives 100 kilometres away should be able to come down and live with you to look after you. Is that the way health care operates in the Province of Nova Scotia?


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

Before I recognize the Government House Leader, I wish to point out to the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the late debate. The honourable member for Cape Breton West will debate at 6:00 p.m.:

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government come clean on the process respecting tire recycling programs in Nova Scotia.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 2773]

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 921.

Res. No. 921, re Rules of the House (Amendment - Extended Sitting Hours) - notice given Nov. 29/96 - (Hon. R. Mann)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, this resolution when passed will allow for a process to change the Rules of the House.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege. I think I informed you earlier today that I would be rising on this point of privilege and have given you the opportunity to review that. I rise on a point of privilege that I feel affects all honourable members of this House of Assembly.

On November 18th, you, Mr. Speaker, indicated, and I will quote from what you said, that your ". . . duty in the name of representatives of Her Majesty's loyal subjects, the people of this Province, respectfully to demand all their accustomed rights and privileges, and that they shall have freedom of speech in their debates . . .". The Administrator, the Chief Justice Honourable Lorne O. Clarke, gave his assent to that request by you, Mr. Speaker, on November 18th.

I believe today that this privilege, particularly the accustomed rights and privileges have indeed been put to test once again by the Savage Liberal Government. I believe that passage of Resolution No. 921 will once again trample on the long-standing tradition of this Assembly which the Committee on Assembly Matters was formed to protect.

The Committee on Assembly Matters was established under Rule 12A of the Rules and Forms of Procedures of the House of Assembly ". . . to examine the rules, procedures, practices, organization and facilities of the House of Assembly and may recommend the provision of support services and facilities for the Members and such examination shall include, but not be limited to, the following matters: (a) the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly; and (b) such matters as are accepted for examination by the Committee upon the request of the House, a committee of the House, a member of the Committee or a member of the House.".

[Page 2774]

The absolute need for this referral to committee is obvious from the hasty and poor drafting of the amendment to the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly presented in Resolution No. 921. I am sure all members have read the Rule Book. All members will recognize that Rule 5A(6) provides that one of the duties of the Government House Leader is to ". . . advise members of the House with regard to the next sitting day in respect of (a) the order of business; (b) the hours of meeting; and (c) the time of adjournment.".

The new rule made by Resolution No. 921 does not indicate when the Government House Leader will make this announcement. Does this rule mean that the Government House Leader may stand up a few minutes before the announced adjournment time and invoke this resolution? In other words, he could stand up on a particular day at 7:55 p.m. and say, I'm sorry but we are going to stay until 1:00 a.m., 2:00 a.m. There is nothing to prevent that in this resolution, which we feel is very unfair; therefore, Mr. Speaker, I move that Resolution No. 921 be withdrawn.

MR. SPEAKER: I will recognize one speaker from each Party before I rule on this.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the point of privilege introduced by the member for Kings West and I do so on the basis of two points. One is with respect to the argument made that this is a matter that clearly should be handled by the Committee on Assembly Matters. The Legislature went to some great lengths back in 1989-90 to establish a committee to give that committee resources and to review a whole host of matters, one of them pertaining to this very matter, in terms of determining the order of business and the times.

The idea and the reason why this had to be done was because in the past the Legislature would sit for three weeks, three hours a day, until the government of the day would rise in its place and bring in a similar motion and then run the rest of the business of the Legislature through in 15 hour days. The point being and the argument that was made at that time by members of this House, including members who are now on the government side, was that this is legislation by exhaustion, this is an unruly way to handle business and, therefore, that Committee on Assembly Matters was struck and given a mandate to deal with this matter, which it did. It presented its report and this House passed that, Mr. Speaker. That is my first point. I think this is a matter that is truly within the purview of that committee.

The second point, Mr. Speaker, is with respect to the introduction in Beauchesne. I refer you to Paragraph 1 where it talks about the Principles of Parliamentary Law. It says, "To protect a minority and restrain the improvidence or tyranny of a majority; to secure the transaction of public business in an orderly manner; to enable every Member to express his opinions within limits necessary to preserve decorum and prevent an unnecessary waste of time; to give abundant opportunity for the consideration of every measure, and . . .", Mr.

[Page 2775]

Speaker, I underline this last point, "to prevent any legislative action being taken upon sudden impulse.".

Mr. Speaker, as far as I am concerned, and as far as I believe members of my caucus are concerned, this is clearly a rule change designed to handle one piece of legislation only. In other words, is it a rule change that is being imposed as a sudden impulse. I beseech you, as a member of this Legislature in support of the member's privilege, from Kings West, that it is part of your responsibility, as Speaker of this House, to ensure that not only is the minority protected from the majority, but also to prevent any legislative action being taken upon sudden impulse.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, they are using the argument that this is going to limit their debate; that is not the case and I would respectfully suggest that there is no breach of privilege.

MR. SPEAKER: The point of privilege raised by the honourable member or Kings West is not a point of privilege. Privileges are narrowly defined as special rights enjoyed by the House, and its members, which allow the House and its members to function as such. This is merely a proposition before the House, over which the House has control and the House can express its opinion one way over another.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. This resolution before the House simply allows the House of Assembly to sit longer than our normal hours, if a majority of the members of this House choose to do so. It does not allow the time allotted for debate on any bill, nor does it limit the amount of debate any member would have on that bill; it simply means that we can work overtime.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the question be now put.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege, I don't have a copy of Beauchesne. I wonder, can I borrow your copy of Beauchesne?

[Page 2776]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the motion that the question be now put, in case the honourable Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency does not understand what he said, means simply that debate on this resolution is stopped insofar as the presentation of any further amendments.

Mr. Speaker, if I could find it in Beauchesne in very short order, which I don't think I can, but, perhaps, you, with your knowledge as Speaker, probably can, you will notice that that particular motion cannot be made until the debate is underway. I would suggest to you that that motion (Interruption)

It is called The Previous Question and it is on Page 160 of Beauchesne, 6th Edition. Paragraph 521 refers to The Previous Question and it reads "The previous question is moved when the original question is under debate in order to force a direct vote on it, . . .". I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that that is out of order and that the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is out of order because the debate is not underway. If he wishes to make that motion, then it is perfectly within his entitlement in some later time during the debate. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I just want to add a brief comment to that which has just been made by the previous speaker. One of the key things in this House, regardless of whether we are talking about Beauchesne or whether we are talking about any of the other Rule Books, one of the first principles that we are guided by are the practices and procedures of this House. That is our first guiding principle.

I have been a member of this Legislature for a little over 12 years, others have been members for considerably longer. So my history does not go back as far as some other members, but it is clearly the tradition of the House that a debate is permitted to be followed before the government tries to bring down any hammer to try to impose closure. That, quite clearly, is what the minister is doing and that flies against all of the practices, all of the procedures, and I invite any member of this House who has been a member of this House for a period longer than I have, whether they be the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of Finance, any other member, I defy you, I invite you to stand in your place and quote one example, one precedent, where, at the start of debate, this kind of heavy-handed, ham-fisted approach has ever been used at the moving of the motion, at the very beginning. (Interruption)

[Page 2777]

Once, excuse me, the once was by this minister. Out of a couple of hundred years of parliamentary practice. If that is what we in this House want to leave in the shadow of the statue of Joseph Howe who stood up for democracy, a government that already has a massive majority, standing up and even before the debate can begin, closing down the debate so that the people of the province cannot hear what the government stands for.

Mr. Speaker, I urge you to rule the minister's motion out of order. It certainly is, I am sure, in the minds of Nova Scotians, completely undemocratic and, certainly, unwarranted and I urge you to find in support of the motion to have his resolution thrown out at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: Looking at precedents in this House, especially returning to January 1995, this House has done this before and the procedure followed today is identical to that one which was followed in the past.

The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I ask you to put this question to the House, whether or not it is democratic for a minister to stand in his place and introduce a resolution and then promptly say that that resolution cannot be amended as of right now, before the debate has even started, I ask you to put it to the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I just simply want to make the observation that most people in this province think that the 50-some of us who are here in this place are here to engage in a certain activity and that activity is called debate. I just simply want to ask you to consider, as you make whatever ruling you feel appropriate, as to whether or not you believe that any member of this House, standing up, making a few remarks and then saying, I move that the question be now put, makes it possible for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia to get what they believe (Interruptions) Oh, shut up, if you will.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DONAHOE: I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to consider whether or not the people who sent us here, send us here to have a situation pertain that faces us today - more to the point, faces the taxpayers today - that a member stands up and says, I make this motion and I ask that the question be now put. Is that the initiation of a debate?

Surely common sense, let alone dictionary definition, Mr. Speaker, indicates that debate means that honourable members who wish to express a view on a question have at your direction, with your approval and support, the opportunity to offer their opinion and advice. This simply is not debate. This is simply a stifling of what we came here to do - to debate this particular motion.

[Page 2778]

I ask you to have those thoughts in your mind as you consider the issue. (Interruptions) This is simply - oh, sit down - as you consider whatever ruling you consider appropriate, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Speaker has already ruled on the point of privilege.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I believe what transpired before the member for Halifax Citadel took his place was that your ruling was challenged and two members requested a vote.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes, yes! (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is no direct challenging of Speaker's rulings. Rules and Forms of Procedure of this House pretty well indicate how challenges to the Speaker's rulings are made.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition on the resolution.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to continue the debate on Resolution No. 921. It is a startling kind of situation that we find ourselves confronted with here today. As a member of the Opposition benches, needless to say I attract a great deal of the dissatisfaction with what it is that the government is attempting to do. However, the magnitude of the dissatisfaction would indicate that we have a real issue to debate in this House and it should be debated in a very orderly fashion. It should be debated reflecting the rules that existed when we all came here some two and one-half weeks ago, understanding that a slate of legislation was before us.

I think it is particularly offensive in that it flies heavily in the face of what it is that the government said it was going to do when it electioneered in 1993. I am quoting now from a document that was produced in 1993, called Accountability and Accessibility in Government Liberal Policy. It states in this document, "Accountability should not be left to the discretion of the government of the day . . .".

Well, the government of the day is obviously prepared now to exercise its discretion and to do all in its power to make sure that the public interest and the public criticism and the public opposition to the piece of legislation which generated this unusual activity does not, in fact, have a true airing in this place. I believe that is particularly offensive in that the issue at hand is not part of the mandate of this government.

[Page 2779]

I recall, and I had tabled on an earlier day, a commitment that was made publicly on the electronic media by the now Premier that, in fact, he would not bring in any new taxes. As a matter of fact he made another commitment that has not received as much discussion, that there would be no tax reform. So clearly the government does not come to the people of Nova Scotia on this issue with a mandate. As a matter of fact, clearly they are going against their mandate in bringing up the legislation to which this resolution makes particular reference.

Now what is to be gained by passing this resolution? Well, what is to be gained, of course, is a fast track of the legislation through the House, resulting in perhaps two things. First of all, if it goes through quickly enough it will not allow those who wish to bring to the government's attention, through the Law Amendments Committee process, the fact that they, as Nova Scotians, will be severely hurt by the imposition of $84 million of consumer taxes and, perhaps in addition, the fact that they, as Nova Scotians, will be hurt by increases in property taxes, through the downloading of costs to the municipalities. As well, they, as Nova Scotians, will be hurt by the increase in consumer prices brought on by a tax-in-pricing policy because this is not a national tax. This is a regionalized tax which, in fact, won't even involve all of the Atlantic Region, as one province has very correctly decided to do, to opt out.

So by fast-tracking, which this resolution would, in fact, result in, there will not be the opportunity for the thousands of Nova Scotians who have contacted me, through my office, who have contacted me directly, will not have an opportunity to marshall their opposition against this particular piece of legislation.

Now what else can be achieved? Why is the government prepared to impose this heavy-handed kind of approach to the conduct of business in the House? Well, they know full well that by getting it quickly through the House that they will draw the least amount of attention to the legislation. It would seem that as we now have 68 per cent of Nova Scotians - and that number is growing - being opposed to the tax, that the more quickly it passes through the House and with the least amount of attention, it is certainly in the best interests of the current government. So the government has a lot to gain by subverting procedure in this place. They seem to be oblivious to the commitments they made to the people of Nova Scotia back in 1993.

The one that jumps out, and I talked about accountability and, Mr. Speaker, you are aware, as I am, that this is the government that, on assuming power, legislated two sessions of the Legislature. Of course, you will think back to that piece of legislation when it was indicated that the Speech from the Throne and the Budget Address would be the prime pieces of business that would be handled in the spring session but the fall session would be committed to the examination and the passage of legislation.

[Page 2780]

[2:00 p.m.]

Unless memory serves me incorrectly, I believe this to be the fall session to be devoted, according to the declarations of the government, to legislation. Now when we have a piece of legislation brought to the House, suddenly there has to be a rule change because the government is doing exactly what it intended to do in the fall session and that is to bring forward a piece of legislation and then all of a sudden they look and they say, well, look, we have 40 members on our benches so we are obviously going to be able to do perhaps anything that we can and there are only 12 members sitting on Opposition benches so then why don't we just simply wear them down.

I can assure the members that that is a much bigger task than they anticipate but nevertheless they said, let's wear them down, let's keep them here until finally they fall asleep at their benches or their mouths get so dry and they lose their voices and perhaps they will lose their resolve to fight this bad tax that will do so much damage to so many Nova Scotian families. So, we will wear them down. It has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with established Rules of the House, nothing to do with the democratic process, we will simply wear them down. (Interruption)

I will assure the Government House Leader that it is not going to be an easy task because we are going to be encouraged in this debate, not by the government members but we are going to be encouraged by Nova Scotians who want a real airing of this blended sales tax. This is not what Nova Scotians voted for in 1993, they voted for openness and accountability and they voted for two sessions of the Legislature and they (Interruption) Yes, they have got it in spades and I hear that every day.

Yes, openness, my goodness. Mr. Speaker, the Premier is over there gesticulating and cackling about openness. The Premier is in a good mood today, perhaps he would open up the books and let us have a look at the Highway No. 104 contract and let's have a look at the contract developing Sable gas. I would love to have a look at that. Let's look at the contract for the royalty agreement, let's look at the contract and the assurances for Nova Scotians in the development of our offshore gas, let's look at what happened to the tax pools at Nova Scotia Resources Limited. There are all kinds of things that we would like to know in this burst of enthusiasm by the Premier suddenly on openness and accountability.

It is not going to be difficult to continue this debate because we are receiving a lot of encouragement. Nova Scotians are stopping members of the Opposition on the street and they are saying, we don't like the BST, you have to get out there and protect our interests because the government really hasn't taken the opportunity to listen to consumers. As a matter of fact, and this is from downstairs earlier on when we had the briefing, the Information Officer for the Department of Finance said that no consumer consultation has occurred.

[Page 2781]

There is no opportunity. You go to Yarmouth and the consumers down there, are they going to have to come up to the Law Amendments Committee? Perhaps some of them will. Perhaps the people in Cape Breton will be so upset by this particular piece of legislation that they will come to the Law Amendments Committee, I hope they do. We didn't get a commitment from the Premier today that they are going to all be welcome so I am not sure yet if they are all going to able to get in.

AN HON. MEMBER: Too sensible to say you're going to tear it up. Too sensible, I admire you for that.

DR. HAMM: Well, you know, it's interesting that the government members want to debate, but they want to debate when they are sitting. They really don't like to get up on their feet and debate when the camera is on them, but they love to debate when they are sitting. They are kind of sitting debaters.


DR. HAMM: Well, certainly shy in meeting its obligations to the people of the province.

Why are we fast-tracking this? Why is this resolution here? Why does it all have to occur so quickly? I asked myself that question. You know, this is a provincial tax. It is our tax. It is the largest single source of income that the province generates on its own and that is our sales tax, our single biggest revenue. Whose timetable are we following? Why does it have to be April 1? Well, that is a good question. Why are we fast-tracking?

You know, this is really not the initiative of the Liberal Party and the Liberal Government of Nova Scotia. This is simply the initiation of a political excuse. This has been designed in Ottawa and, of course, the Minister of Finance refers to that all the time, because every time he is asked a question of substance, he refers us to the 1-800 number of Revenue Canada and says, well, that is a detail of our provincial sales tax and I really do not have to know that; I am only the Minister of Finance. Call Paul Martin's people; they have the answers.

I find it offensive, in the least, that all of a sudden the control of our provincial sales tax has been placed, for a four year period, it has been deposited with the government in Ottawa. That is why we have this resolution to fast-track, because, really, the government does not want too many people to find out what it is that has happened, that we have, in fact, given away some of our provincial right to the federal government. That flies in the face of what the provinces, in general, are asking for. In general, they are looking for more autonomy from Ottawa. Here we are in Nova Scotia, simply, we have it backwards and we are going in reverse.

[Page 2782]

I would have loved to have been at the meeting in Ottawa when the Finance Ministers went up and met with Paul Martin. Paul Martin would say to them, well, look fellows, I know you don't need this as quickly as I need it, because we want to have an election next spring and we need a political excuse for the GST, I am going to give you $249 million - I believe it was, Madam Speaker - to encourage you and, in this particular case, encourage then Finance Minister, Bernie Boudreau, and you go back to the people of Nova Scotia and you lay this political excuse on the backs of the Nova Scotia consumers, $84 million.

So we have a political excuse which we will then take to the people of Canada and say, well, look, we told you we would get rid of the GST but, in essence, we are just going to cover it up down in parts of Atlantic Canada. They bought into this system; they have allowed themselves to be bought off. They are selling their autonomy and we just hope that nobody down there is going to notice it and let all this happen.

What is fundamentally wrong with this? This resolution simply flies in the face of what this place is all about. This place is about debate and it is about examination. But, you know, I am very disappointed because when you have a Cabinet of 17, I believe, members and you have a caucus of 40, that means a lot of members on the government side are not able to debate, because this government does not allow anyone to express any objection to what it is they are doing. So, in other words, over half of the Liberal caucus simply is here to form a quorum and to stand up and vote on a signal from the Speaker and support government issues.

We refer back to what the people were promised and this resolution isn't what the people of Nova Scotia were promised in 1993. The Liberal platform said that the Liberal Government initiatives will be built on a foundation of honesty, openness, integrity and accountability that will permeate all government dealings under John Savage. Well, I don't know what is permeating this place today but it isn't honesty, openness, integrity and accountability.

Now once again this government is destroying the foundation upon which they were elected and this resolution perhaps epitomizes all of that. This resolution, the government can't really indicate to members of this House that, in fact, well look, we didn't try this before, this technique. You know we wanted two sessions of the House and we wanted a lot of debate, we wanted a lot of examination. They did, they tried it before because they didn't like what was happening in the Committee of the Whole House. That, of course, is where we do the clause by clause and members, in a less formal setting than we are in here today, we sit down and we have an opportunity to go over pieces of legislation.

I have been impressed that on the few occasions where government ministers have listened, that they have, in fact, brought in amendments by way of debate and accepted amendments from the Opposition benches and, in fact, legislation was strengthened and this process and this place actually did what it is supposed to do, that is improve legislation, one

[Page 2783]

of the things that we are charged with doing, as members of the Opposition. I think that the member for Halifax Citadel on many occasions has been able to use his long experience in this place and his great grasp of legislation and the understanding of legislation and has actually provided a service to the people of this province and to the government, by engaging in debate, good sensible debate and actually amendments have come forward that we will all benefit from in one way or another.

So what happens? Using a similar technique, by way of resolution, the government did what it is attempting to do here today, change the Rules of the House in midstream. I was surprised, Madam Speaker, to realize that it is only a few short years ago that the hours of the House were four hours daily and there was no such thing as a six hour session and an eight hour session, which follows in an orderly fashion as the business of the House progresses after the start of the session. So there has been an accommodation made that more hours were needed but it was not made in the heat of debate over a single issue, it was decided in a more democratic kind of environment in which the issue could be addressed but not in view of a specific objective, which is the real weakness of what we are doing here today.

It may be in the interest of the government that not only in this particular piece of legislation that we simply come down here in the spring and the fall, particularly when the Opposition is small, and we simply open up and we just keep going until it is all over. It will simply be a survival of the fittest and the quality of the debate and the ability to prepare one's self for debate, the ability to go back to Nova Scotians and get some input into the debate so that not only are you offering to the House your own particular perspective but you have the opportunity by going back and consulting on a daily basis with the stakeholders, that you are able to bring to this place not only your own perspective but the perspective of many others. Therein lies the strength of representation.

[2:15 p.m.]

In reality, what this resolution does, it flies in the face of representation. Representation is that not only do we speak here in this place for ourselves, but we stand in this place and we speak for others. The ability to do that, when a situation presents itself where we will be standing here debating 10, 12, 14, 20 hours a day, we have essentially lost our ability to represent. By bringing in this kind of resolution, this government has, in fact, destroyed another cornerstone of the foundation upon which they were elected; absolutely no consultation again, absolutely no ability to represent.

It is very disheartening to the people of Nova Scotia, whose only opportunity, really, in many instances, is to go through their member and to have that member bring their particular concern, their perspective, their ideas, their point of view, to this place, when they see obstacles being placed in the ability and in the path of their representatives to do what it is they want them to do down here at Province House.

[Page 2784]

I referred earlier to a date in history and it was January 26, 1995, when the government did ram through a rule change that limited debate in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills. That amendment did revoke the debate on the clause by clause. The government did achieve what its objective was, of course, and that was to shorten up the session.

The whole issue of why the government felt that that was necessary, was because that, simply, since 1993, this government has shown no willingness to cooperate, in any meaningful way, in the democratic process and the process of debate that goes on in this place. They have instead emphasized the confrontational aspects of the proceedings of the House. When Opposition members have brought forward legitimate criticism, legitimate perspective, legitimate amendments, many ministers - not all ministers - on the government side have simply refused, because it was generated by the Opposition, to give any credibility, any credence, to what was being suggested.

This particular resolution and that particular approach is undermining the political process in this province. Not every Nova Scotian wants to come to the gallery. Not every Nova Scotian wants to come to the Law Amendments Committee, but every Nova Scotian wants to have the feeling, the reassurance, the confidence, that through their elected member, regardless if that member sits on an Opposition bench or on a government bench, that this place provides opportunity to have their particular concern, their particular point of view, aired adequately in this place, aired by somebody who has the opportunity and is listened to by a government that has a true commitment to doing the best job possible and doing it for Nova Scotians.

Why does this resolution appear before us when, perhaps, even 10 days ago, the government's position was, in fact, this piece of legislation was not going to come forward? They can see the opposition building to the bill, they could see the public support for this particular piece of legislation eroding on a daily basis. So what do they do? Do they say well perhaps we should have a second look at this, maybe there is something wrong with what they are doing, maybe it will hurt Nova Scotians, maybe we have made a mistake? I remember when the Minister of Finance was off to Ottawa signing the agreement when I was asking, at that point it was the Acting Premier because the Premier was out of the province, but asking the now Minister of Finance a few simple details of what it was the then Minister of Finance had gone to Ottawa to sign. It was very clear that no member on the front benches of the government had the foggiest notion as to what was happening.

Right from day one there really hasn't been a description by the government of what this has all meant. I think back into the spring session when the Minister of Finance, prior to tabling this document, the document that appeared on the last day, the Nova Scotia Tax Reform, and when he tabled this document which, in fact, refuted what he had been saying for many weeks, that consumers were going to benefit in this province, that it was just a bonanza, win-win, I think, was the description that was used both by the Minister of Finance and the Premier. So we went through weeks of misinformation and I am not going to accuse

[Page 2785]

the minister of misleading the House, I am just going to suggest that the minister didn't understand what it was all about until he finally got a hold of this document and tabled it on the Friday.

If was funny how we got the document, Madam Speaker. As you remember, he tabled it in the House and traditionally it would then be put on every member's desk. Even the members of the government will remember that this document wasn't put on your desk that day. For the first time, a government document wasn't handed around. It was sent to the caucus office and I think the idea being was, of course, it would come to light after the House had closed - because we had agreed that we would, in fact, close that day - then somebody in the press had gotten hold of it and sent in one copy and said you better look at Page 28 because that is not what you have been told over the last number of weeks.

On that day we turned to Page 28 and the direct impact of harmonization is an $84.3 million increase in the consumer tax burden, and therein lies the single biggest objection to the BST. It is a horrendous load on taxpayers. As we get information on that bill, what does it all mean? Why do taxpayers want us to discuss this bill on their behalf? Why is it our 1-800 number in our office is now completely clogged with calls on the BST? I hope there are no other issues out there because you really can't get at us because our 1-800 number is now completely tied up with people wanting to express their objection to paying more taxes to a government and Premier who said, no new taxes. I can see why the government wants to fast-track this bill before anybody further understands what it is all about.

I fail to understand the rationale, and perhaps that is why we are not going to have the opportunity or we are going to operate under the threat. What does this threat do to us? We are standing there debating and we are saying now, if we really do the job we are supposed to do, the Government House Leader is going to say well now guys you are going to stay here 24 hours a day or 20 hours a day so it is going to be under that kind of a threat that we are going to be entering into debate. He is going to say once you are in here 20 hours a day, I suppose you are going to spend the other four trying to get some rest. We will be unable to prepare, unable to listen to what people are having to say.

The whole issue really may pass us by between now and Christmas, although I fail to see how even with the fast tracking we are going to get through the whole process before Christmas. It looks like, Madam Speaker, we are going to have another January session here in the House.

Now, we had an opportunity in the past, since this government came to power, to get through some complex bills. We had workers compensation, the casino bill. The government certainly when things got hot and heavy there wanted to cut down debate, which they did through the Committee of the Whole House. Now they are not satisfied with that, knowing full well that we are limited in terms of what we can do on second reading and third reading. Now we are limited in what we can do in Committee of the Whole House.

[Page 2786]

What is causing the knees of the Government House Leader to tremble when he is faced on a day-to-day basis with 12 members of the Opposition and he has 39 colleagues on his government benches? What is he worried about? Is he really worried about the Opposition? Is he worried that our debating skills are so finely honed that we are going to simply cause a revolt in the backbenches when the backbenchers suddenly realize what this means to their people back home, their people of low incomes, middle incomes that will be facing an $84 million tax increase? What is it going to be like a year from now when people are doing their Christmas shopping and suddenly so much of their disposable income is gone through increased taxation? What is that going to do to the retail trade here in Nova Scotia?

We have a very fragile economy in Nova Scotia. Our retail economy has been particularly fragile. It is one of the weakest sectors of our economy right now. It will be the economy that will be the hardest hit by this blended sales tax, the so-called BS Tax. So there is good reason, I guess, to fast track this through the House but they are not good reasons. They are simply an attempt by this government, I think, to survive a serious mistake and that is, going to Ottawa and allowing the federal government to dictate the terms of tax change in Nova Scotia and, in essence, simply buying lock, stock and barrel what it is that Paul Martin has decided that he has to do so he will have a political excuse relative to their promise to eliminate the GST.

I remember on an earlier occasion the Premier talking about verticality. He got that into the glossary of terms we use here in the House. Verticality is one of the terms, of course, that is not on the list of objectionable terms that is in Beauchesne, but it is a different term. You know, the verticality of all of this is so apparent. In reality what we have before us is a bill that really was the decision of the previous Minister of Finance. He was the one who went to Ottawa. He was the one who sold it when in reality up until the time of signing no other government member had any of the details.

I made reference earlier to the day when through the course of events this particular document was tabled, Nova Scotia Tax Reform - Economic and Fiscal Analysis. We all turned to Page 28. It was the look of surprise on all the members of the government benches when they suddenly realized this was not a win/win situation for consumers at all. In fact, it was a lose/lose situation. The hard hit consumers of Nova Scotia would suddenly be paying an increased amount of tax, particularly on the necessities of life, the low-priced clothing and fuel oil and electricity.

When you go to the gas tank and gas up your car, that is going to cost more. The figures are startling. At the gas pump - and this has received a lot of comment and I think a lot of people would want this debated at some length. Simply going to the gas pump and paying 8 per cent more for your gasoline will result in an increased cost to those who operate motor vehicles of $54 million; $54 million more we are going to pay at the gas pump.

[Page 2787]

[2:30 p.m.]

I wonder if the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, if he took that $54 million and got rid of the toll roads, the toll booths up on Highway No. 104, he might find that he would get a little support for that increase in gasoline tax in this province. However, I don't think that is where he intends to spend the money. The whole fast-tracking process that this resolution initiates flies in the face of the accountability and the freedom of debate that this government felt was so important prior to May 25, 1993.

It is interesting, Friday seems to be the day to come out with this kind of thing and it was a Friday when this particular resolution was brought forward to the House and it was a Friday when they tried to slip the $84 million tax grab past consumers. So I guess Friday is a good day to bring in a piece of unpopular news so maybe that is something we will keep in mind for a future day.

Now, perhaps one of the most offensive parts of all this process is that we do have a legitimate procedure in place to change the Rules and Forms of Procedure, including the hours of sitting of the House, and it is the Committee on Assembly Matters.

Madam Speaker, how much time do I have left?

MADAM SPEAKER: You have until 2:54 p.m.

DR. HAMM: Thank you. There is a legitimate way this could be handled, which is through the Committee on Assembly Matters. When I look around and see, why wasn't it handled in this way? Why is it, for example, that they don't go that route? Well, of course, it would be very difficult to have that up and running and to have a determination by that committee before the House would rise. There is so much information that has been hidden from the public.

I remember, and all of us remember the technical paper because when the minister last spring tabled this document, he talked about there being a technical paper and it will really answer all your questions about the various aspects of this new BS Tax and how it will apply. Initially what we were told is that the technical paper would be ready before an agreement was signed with Ottawa; in other words, you could look at the technical paper, you could go to the right page and you could find out what this means for you, as an individual Nova Scotian. That would give you an opportunity then to make a presentation, through the proper channels, to the minister's office and you would be able to have some input into the bill. That would only be possible when the details would follow.

Well, the technical paper, unfortunately, didn't come out in September to allow what they said would happen, happen. The technical paper, of course, came out after all of this was signed, which makes me wonder as to what the consultation process is all about that they are

[Page 2788]

talking about because the Minister of Finance did say today in the briefing that consultation would continue but, on the other hand, he didn't hold out any hope that it would make any difference. So we have to look at, what can we achieve in this place?

Well, we have a very strong commitment to the democratic process in our Legislature in that we have a Law Amendments Committee. A Law Amendments Committee is not something that is available in other Legislatures and it is an opportunity for Nova Scotians to come, as individuals, or as individuals representing bigger groups, face to face with government members and members of the Opposition benches to, first-hand, in a formalized setting, present their perspective on any particular piece of legislation, including the legislation on the blended sales tax.

It absolutely looks like to me, Madam Speaker, that the last chance, the last gasp, for the consumers of this province will be at the Law Amendments Committee. Once the legislation is passed - and if this government has its way, it will pass - then this province, come April 1st, will initiate all of these new taxes that will be such a heavy load for the consumers of this province to bear.

The more you look at it, the more you realize what a tremendous grab it is. The other day we were talking about stamps. P.E.I. did not go into the arrangement and I can go to Charlottetown and I can mail a letter to Halifax for 49 cents. But after April 1st, if I want to send a letter from Halifax over to Charlottetown, it is going to cost me 53 cents. But I could still, after April 1st, from Charlottetown, have to pay only 49 cents. The Minister of Community Services is having trouble. I know that is pretty hard to understand, but, if he wants, I will go over it again.

MADAM SPEAKER: No, it is not necessary to go over it again, honourable member.

DR. HAMM: Do you think he has it Madam Speaker?

MADAM SPEAKER: I am sure he does, honourable member.

DR. HAMM: Yes, well, I am not sure. There is a lot of chatter over there in the government benches and I welcome it because, obviously, they are uncomfortable with all of this. They are very uncomfortable and well they should be. (Interruption) I think I am very clear where I stand and I know all about Clause 70. But I will tell you where I stand. The time to stop this tax is before April 1st and that minister and that minister and that minister all know it. That is what we are all about. The time to stop this is before April 1st. (Interruption)

Well, look at what you have signed. The former Minister of Finance is starting to get interested in the debate because he went up to Ottawa and if I can quickly put my hand on what he signed. Here it is. I found it. Here it is, folks. Madam Speaker, I think this is what the minister signed. Yes, this is what the minister signed. If there ever was a reason to stop the

[Page 2789]

tax before April 1st, this is it. Clause 70, this is what the now Minister of Health signed on behalf of the Government of Nova Scotia. "Canada or the Province may terminate this Agreement by written notice, effective as of the end of the eighteen month period that immediately follows the last day of the calender quarter . . .". So it is 18 months plus whatever time . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. HAMM: Madam Speaker, I will start again. Clause 70, "Canada or the Province may terminate this Agreement by written notice, effective as of the end of the eighteen month period that immediately follows the last day of the calender quarter in which the notice of termination is received or such other time as may be agreed to as between the parties.".

Then you go to the bill, and I am not familiar yet enough with the bill. I can't find the clause of the bill I am looking for, I only received it about an hour ago and I am not totally familiar with the bill. The point to be made here is that the minister has signed a document that has committed us for four years. The evidence is mounting that this will be very harmful for the province and will not create jobs but will, in fact, result in the loss of a great number of jobs, particularly in the retail sector. (Interruption) It is in the same department that the study that you say exists that creates 3,000 jobs, they are side by side. When you go over to get your study perhaps pick up mine and we will look at them together.

We have been talking and I think the issue is clearly that the government has made a horrendous mistake. It is bringing in a tax that will simply disadvantage the majority of Nova Scotians, low and middle income Nova Scotians, it will decimate the retail sector. The interesting thing is that even those who initially supported the bill on reflection are starting to become uneasy because they know full well calling our Department of Finance provides no reassurance that the numbers that are being delivered are, in fact, accurate. As a matter of fact, and maybe the Minister of Finance will make reference to the fact that the $84 million in increased consumer taxes may, in fact, be revised upwards shortly and that the tax grab will be something in excess of $84 million.

What I am finding and why I think the government wants to fast track, I have met with numbers of people who initially and you would think that if they are prepared to accept at face value what the government says that this for them would be a good deal. Yet, they are now starting to say, hold on a bit, we need a little time to look at this and we are starting to get uneasy about it. As a matter of fact, the metro chamber of commerce did endorse what the government is doing but now I hear that the chambers of commerce around the province are starting to say, well, we are not so sure and we are thinking now that we might come out against this tax because it is not as cut and dried as the government would lead you to believe. They have fast-tracked this to the point that nobody really understands it and I certainly include in that group the current Minister of Finance who constantly passes off to Revenue Canada for an answer to any question that even borders on the technical.

[Page 2790]

The information is starting to build up on the impact of the tax and this is the kind of information that would come out in debate if there is opportunity to garner the information. I look at the report on clothing and because of the increased tax on clothing and because of the decreased buying power of Nova Scotians, we will spend $8.3 million less in clothing once this tax comes in. This is a study done by APEC. So in other words, Nova Scotians, in fact, will have less disposable income to spend on clothing.

[2:45 p.m.]

Why is it we are going to buy less clothing? Because expensive clothing, in fact, will be cheaper. Any clothing that is over $100 will be cheaper. (Interruption) Yes, $94, including the GST, will be $100. But inexpensive clothing, perhaps the clothing that you put on your youngster to go to school or maybe the clothing that you wear to work and all of that less expensive clothing is, in fact, going to be 8 per cent more expensive.

So what do Nova Scotians do? They say, well look, we have lots of money; they dig in their pockets and they simply say, we will pay the tax and we will buy the clothing, so the decrease in spending in clothing will be $8.3 million. Therein lies, I think, some of the objections that retailers are having, and are saying, you know, it is really going to hurt us and it will be some time before we forget the response of the Premier when a legitimate clothing retailer with 19 outlets in this province brought a concern to us - and we brought it to the attention of the government - that, in fact, their business will be very negatively impacted by the implementation of this tax. As a matter of fact, 11 of their 19 stores may close as a result of this increased cost with pricing, and the decrease in clothing purchases that this tax also represents would result in over 300 of their 519 employees losing their jobs.

The Premier's response to that; well, they are only a marginal company. Well, I would suggest to you that if that was my job and I were to lose my job, I would be pretty upset if I was working for that company and, all of a sudden, it goes out of business only because this government has created an economic climate that is too expensive in which to survive.

You know, it is interesting, too, another sector that is really going to be hurt - and this is why when they talk about win/win and business is going to really benefit - is transportation and recreational services; what a great debate we would have on that. I think myself that we always talk about how unhealthy we are as Nova Scotians and the Minister of Health in his new portfolio talks about that and he now has access to the information that substantiates what he says. We are not all that healthy in Nova Scotia.

I don't think that the government is going to bear all the responsibility to get us healthy. I think a lot of us will take a personal interest in our own health and perhaps join a health club or go rent some ice time and play a little hockey or do all sorts of things. But, you know, it is interesting that recreational spending is going to be taxed. Now, all of a sudden, it is going

[Page 2791]

to cost more to take a dance lesson, to go and play a little hockey, to go to an aerobics class, to go to a fitness club.

The Minister of Finance may say well, look, if you have money to burn then do those things. But, on the other hand, there are not that many Nova Scotians who have money to burn anymore. We have come through a period when wages have been frozen and disposable income has shrunk because this government has introduced not only this new tax but we now pay to get rid of our bottles and we are going to have to pay to get rid of our tires.

When this government came into power, we had a 10 per cent sales tax; it went to 11 per cent, our electricity went up 3 per cent and on and on it goes. The poor old taxpayer is wearing out his pockets just digging in to pay all these new taxes. (Interruptions) If you are in the transportation or recreational business, the loss in spending of $27 million isn't going to help you, so certainly the 3,000 jobs are not going to come in that sector.

I look at personal legal and financial services. Do you remember when the government brought in that bill, Madam Speaker, back in 1993, and they introduced a business service tax and we had it for the better part of a year and then they said, well, this isn't working. Everybody is buying their service elsewhere and we have to get out of this because it is putting up the cost of doing business. So here it is again, it is back in. We have a personal, legal and financial services tax. It is back. It has a new name but it slipped in.

I ask the Minister of Finance why did he cancel that legislation if he did not believe it? (Interruptions) Exactly and now (Interruptions) This is not making anybody competitive because do you know what is going to happen? The decrease in spending on those services is going to be down $8 million. Boy, we are going to be competitive. We will have lost $8 million of revenue. None of these arguments the government puts forward fly at all.

I am getting within a couple of minutes of the end of my time of debate. This is what makes the whole thing ridiculous. I am going to have to stop debating in two or three minutes. Why does the government have to bring in this resolution? We cannot go on forever. We are going to finish by spring, regardless of what happens and there is a limited time and a limited opportunity accorded to each member of this House under the current rules and regulations and the hours of sitting. What was wrong with the rules and regulations regarding hours of sitting that we started with a few weeks ago?

Well, Madam Speaker, I will conclude my intervention on Resolution No. 921. I bring forward to the House a motion. I move, Madam Speaker, that this resolution be referred on to the Committee on Assembly Matters.

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, your time is about to expire, but that motion that you are trying to put is out of order.

[Page 2792]

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise and speak on this resolution this afternoon. I say so because it has been extraordinarily amusing to watch this government in action. (Interruptions) To watch this government with this huge majority thrash and fumble around as they try to find their feet.

Last year, in January 1995, this government brought in closure - the first time it has ever been recorded as having been used in the Legislature of Nova Scotia in 237 years. You must ask yourselves. My goodness gracious. That is a pretty heavy-handed thing to do. That is pretty significant. Things must be tight. The numbers must be tight and this government must be meeting a phenomenal Opposition. In the face of that they have nothing else that they can do. They are being held up for months and months and months from carrying out their business. Madam Speaker, so they have to bring in - as the Government House Leader has described it - the hammer from Sears.

Nova Scotians look at what is going on here and they shake their heads. No wonder. This group, when they brought in closure in the first place, had 40 members, as opposed to - how many in Opposition - 12. They now have 39 and there are still only 12. The poor government majority cannot get its business done, Madam Speaker, so they have to unilaterally change the rules in this House in order to deal not with a whole menu of legislation that has got to get through. One little bill - one bill that this government cannot manoeuvre through the Legislature with this major majority.

Madam Speaker, clearly, it is a question, I think, of incompetence. This government just does not know its way through the Legislature. They do not understand how Legislatures work, the fact that Opposition members are also elected and have some rights to debate and so on, that these rules and Beauchesne's are here for a reason and that is to give us all an opportunity to participate in debate on all the issues that come forward; that is what the issue is here.

This government operates on the basis that they were elected and they are going to carry out their business. The nerve of that 12 over there. The nerve of those MLAs that are on the Opposition benches - that were also elected, mind you - the nerve of us to raise concerns and questions about any of their business. Imagine, Madam Speaker. So this government has decided that they are going to suspend the rules and they are going to have their way, basically, with the people of Nova Scotia.

I had this debate with the member for Cape Breton Nova at a session of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Canadian Regional Conference . . .


[Page 2793]

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . last summer here in Halifax; you thought you were going to catch me on a junket, didn't you? We talked about the issue of the use of closure. This issue about the government being incapable of moving legislation through, even with this major majority, the member for Cape Breton Nova, the former Speaker, said the following when he was trying to explain away why it is that that government with this huge majority had to come in with the hammer from Sears. He says, "The three members of the New Democratic Party, while not former ministers," because he had said earlier that the Official Opposition, a bunch of former ministers, all kinds of experience and so on - let me add that in - then he goes on and says, "are all experienced legislators, two of which have been in the House for a substantial number of years and who were masters of the rules of procedure and of the art of parliamentary tactics which the new government perhaps was not.". He then says, "The result of that was that the government was somewhat surprised, perhaps, to see that its various pieces of legislation were met with some resistance.".

He then went on and talked about a few other things, but then he said, "Remember that each of these motions would be debated by each, or almost all of the members of the Opposition, each getting up and speaking . . .". This went on and on while the government members sat there in complete confoundment," said the member for Cape Breton Nova, "I might say, having no idea what to do or how to cope with this situation . . .". That is what the explanation, from the member for Cape Breton Nova, the former Speaker, was of the use of closure last year.

Now it might be interesting to hear from that same member, and other members of the government, what the excuse is this year. Are they still lacking in any understanding of legislative and parliamentary procedures, Madam Speaker? Is that the excuse or are they just too lazy to stay in here long enough to have this legislation properly debated on the basis of the Rules of the House? Who knows? We will deal with that.

First of all, Madam Speaker, what is this legislation?

AN HON. MEMBER: It is a resolution brought down by . . .

MR. CHISHOLM: Well, that is good. The member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage is paying attention. I am pleased, I am, although I do think he is one of the ones that the member for Cape Breton Nova talked about as being confounded; he often appears to be so. But, Madam Speaker, let me talk about why it is that this resolution was brought forward. It is to deal with one piece of legislation and that is a piece of legislation that has been described as making the most major and significant changes in taxes, in the tax regime in this province, that we have seen since Confederation.

[Page 2794]

[3:00 p.m.]

Most Nova Scotians, Madam Speaker, would imagine that this is something that should go under the extreme scrutiny of this House. It is so important that a legislative committee should travel the province and hear what Nova Scotians think about this. We should be disseminating information far and wide from the Department of Finance, not to select groups, but to each and every community around this province, to inform people what this BS Tax is all about, what this major change in the tax system - the most significant change since Confederation - really is all about. That is what we should be doing. That is what Nova Scotians, I think, expect of us, because there are some of us, there are some economists in this province, there are businesses and others who have examined the deal and say that it is something that is going to cause considerable harm to the economy of Nova Scotia and impose a burden on consumers that at this or any time they should not be asked to bear. Then you have the government over on this side telling Nova Scotians in their ads with their army of information officers that this is a great deal.

The former Minister of Finance stood in this House and introduced the BS Tax deal last spring and said, this is going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Consumers, taxpayers in this province are going to realize savings unlike they have ever seen. People started to look around for the money to start to fall out of the sky and into their pockets. Then what happened on the final day of the Legislature? What took place in this House? Well, I recall the details finally coming out. They didn't come in here, they were laid down outside this Chamber for the media. Thank goodness some of those people realized how important it was for members of this Legislature to see that information. What did we find? Did we find evidence to support the contentions of the Minister of Finance that this is going to be a windfall for Nova Scotian consumers? Not at all.

What we found was that Nova Scotia consumers were going to pay an extra $84 million as a result of this change. That hasn't changed during the period when this has all been negotiated and the deals with various interest groups have been worked out. That hasn't changed. It is still going to be that much. You know that consumers are going to pick up that $250 million tax break for businesses. On top of that, we have heard nothing from the government on this side.

The Minister of Community Services should be quaking in his boots about this, that the Government of Nova Scotia is going to be short $100 million once the bribe money is over. The Minister of Community Services and others talk about the technical presentation by APEC about this deal and how good it is going to be and so on. I am going to talk about that later on in the debate on the bill itself, just what APEC said in there. But, you know, when I asked a question of the economist who made that presentation, I said after it is all said and done, the provincial government is going to be $100 million short in tax revenue so how are they going to make that up? Do you know what he said to me? He said, I don't know. (Interruption) You were there - he said, I don't know, maybe they will have to increase taxes.

[Page 2795]

Imagine. Madam Speaker, that is why this is so bloody serious. The government members don't seem to appreciate the fact that not only are consumers, low and middle income Nova Scotians, going to have to pay more to heat their homes and drive their cars and clothe their children, but once that $250 million bribe is spent, we are going to be $100 million short in this province.

I understand that a member opposite wants to make an introduction. I would be happy to yield the floor.

MADAM SPEAKER: Yes, I appreciate your yielding the floor.

The honourable member for Inverness.

MR. CHARLES MACARTHUR: Madam Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for giving me the opportunity to introduce to you and through you to all members of the House, three members of the Cheticamp Development Association who are here on business today in the City; Rene Aucoin, Paul Deveaux and Bill Crawford. I would ask them to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, let me just say to the gentlemen here from Cheticamp that our analysis and our consultation with economists has indicated that it is the rural poor who are going to be hit the hardest, as a result of the BS Tax. I had a consultation with economists and experts, accountants, a day after the presentation of this agreement. I said, what is the impact going to be? First and foremost, what is the biggest concern?

I was told that the people who are going to be hurt the most are the rural poor in Nova Scotia, primarily because of the cost of heating their homes but also because of the cost of gasoline, in order to get them to work, in order to get them where they need to go, Madam Speaker.

You see the point I am trying to make as I begin my presentation is that the government is suspending the rules on a piece of legislation that they themselves admit is one of the most important that we have dealt with in this Legislature in many years. I am just aghast at the willingness of this government to just simply ram this issue through the House and ram it down Nova Scotians' throats, Madam Speaker. I am just absolutely - I was going to say I am appalled but that is the best word, I am appalled at what this government is doing.

You know, I am not the only one. I think this is part of the issue here, this government decided at the last minute to try to jam this through before Christmas. They did it not only because the federal government is jerking their chain but also because every single day that goes by hundreds and thousands of Nova Scotians find out about the BS Tax and they are opposed to it. This government wants to get it through before enough people do that they

[Page 2796]

can't ignore that. I don't know if they will have time, Madam Speaker, but they are doing everything in their power, in order to do that.

Let me go for a minute, if I may, to the whole issue here of democracy and the use of closure and the heavy-handed approach by this government. We have seen it since they have come in. I start by referring to the government's 1993 election platform, the Liberal's election platform, under the heading Accountability and Accessibility in Government. They declared that government in a democracy derives its powers through the consent of the governed - echoes of the American Declaration of Independence. We are dealing with the whole issue of the struggle against government by Divine Right, Madam Speaker.

In fact, I refer you to comments made by the Government House Leader when he introduced a piece of legislation called Bill No. 1, the House of Assembly Act. It was an Act, Madam Speaker, that set up two sittings in the calendar year. I want to refer you to some comments made by the Government House Leader when he did that. He said, "The introduction of this bill fulfils a longtime promise of the Liberal Party in Nova Scotia, at least for the five years that I have been a member of this House . . .", and this government has taken steps immediately, ". . . to introduce legislation which would require the House of Assembly to sit not once but twice each year.". He went on to say, ". . . I guess the rationale behind that commitment was that good government required greater accountability than what we had seen in this Province of Nova Scotia for many years.". There was no argument there, we didn't argue with that when we debated this legislation; we supported it very much.

To continue on here, the Government House Leader also said, ". . . we made a commitment and the rationale here is that if we are going to provide better government to the people of Nova Scotia, then we have to be more accountable to the people of Nova Scotia and we are willing to take the step at this time to ensure that there are two sittings each year so that members of the Assembly and the people of Nova Scotia, through those members, have the opportunity to put forth their grievances but also to demand accountability.". I think we have probably talked about this one enough, but clearly the issue here is accountability; that is what this government was going for when it introduced that legislation. But what have we seen since?

Here we were in this House one year ago dealing with two issues, two major pieces of legislation. One of them was the Workers' Compensation Act, the most serious attack on injured workers that we have ever seen in this province. They took an Act from one of the best in terms of benefits to injured workers, to one of the worst, if not the worst, which is completely opposite to what this government promised injured workers and Nova Scotians when they were running for election.

We also had a piece of legislation setting up casinos in the Province of Nova Scotia. That was being done after the former administration and in the early stages of this administration, and we consulted with Nova Scotians. We had a couple of legislative

[Page 2797]

committees go out and talk to Nova Scotians about gambling and casinos in this province. There was some polling done and what did that information tell us? It told us that the vast majority of Nova Scotians were opposed to gambling, were opposed to casinos in particular.

What did we do? In the face of a government that wanted to jam things in, in the face of majority opposition in the Province of Nova Scotia, we used our opportunity of debate in this House, legitimate Parliamentary rights and opportunities, to argue and to try to convince this government that what they were doing was wrong. So what did they do, did they try to seek some compromise with us? Did they try to seek some compromise with the people of Nova Scotia? No, they went out to Sears and they bought a hammer and they imposed their will on this Legislature and on the people of Nova Scotia in a way that has not been done for well beyond 230-some odd years, Madam Speaker.

[3:15 p.m.]

You know, there is an article in Maclean's Magazine, I think, back in 1956 and it refers to a government of that day and, to me, it pertained very much to this government. It said, ". . . the Liberals drew a dangerous conclusion - - . . .", regarding the pipeline debate, ". . . that they could do as they liked with parliament. Already, events have shown that the conclusion was more than dangerous, it was wrong.".

Madam Speaker, again, this government believes that they have the divine right to govern, regardless of what Nova Scotians and other members of this Legislature say. In the face of thousands of Nova Scotians opposed to this bill and concerned about this piece of legislation, they are bringing in changes which are flying in the face of that and we are going to do what we can to convince them otherwise. You would think, in listening to this group, that the extent to which one governs with the consent of the governed, is every five years. People only have the opportunity to have input and have effect on what this government is doing every five years. That is not good enough, especially in the era that we are in today. The exercise of government power shapes economic policies, as well as life or death circumstances, we must recognize that the consent of the governed must be earned and renewed on a regular basis and I would suggest, day by day and week by week.

It is intolerable, in defiance of so many Nova Scotians, both on the casino bill and here with such an important tax measure, that this government is going to carry forward and make its decision without a clear mandate. Because let's not forget, they campaigned in 1993 against harmonization, the godfather of the BST brought a resolution in in 1992, calling on the Legislature of the day to hold a fair tax commission. They pledged to Nova Scotians in the election campaign in 1993 that if elected, that is what they would do, Madam Speaker. Here we are, three and one-half years later, whenever Nova Scotians have been given the opportunity have indicated, clearly, that they are opposed to harmonized sales taxes, this government is going to ram it on through. I believe that that is wrong.

[Page 2798]

In terms of the use of closure, J. Murray Beck, that well known specialist on political science and parliamentary history, has said, "On balance, the positive accomplishments of closure during its . . .", 50-plus, ". . . years of use have been anything but impressive.", referring to the House of Commons. "In a majority of instances the public interest would probably have been better served if the government of the day had been required to make compromises with its opponents instead of being able to apply the gag.", Madam Speaker.

It has been suggested by parliamentarians in this country and in the United Kingdom that all Parties are winners, Madam Speaker. The legislative accountability is promoted when the rules of debate require compromise rather than closure. In other words, part of the role and responsibility of legislators in this House is not to impose their will, but to work together to try to generate the best legislation governing the people of Nova Scotia that we possibly can and that everybody that sits in this House has been duly elected to do so.

This government seems to forget the fact that they were elected by less than 50 per cent of the population in 1993. They do not have the majority. They do not have the consent of the majority to impose such significant changes to taxes. When they look at us, who were also elected to represent the interests of our constituents and other Nova Scotians whom they do not represent, that more than 50 per cent, this government has always taken the attitude of, how dare we stand up and oppose the will of their majority?

We have heard members of this government - and I referred to some passages from the member for Cape Breton Nova in the debate I had with him back in the summer of 1995 - try to dismiss this heavy-handed approach by this government as being a sign of their inexperience in legislative matters and parliamentary procedure. Madam Speaker, we have also heard them say and we have heard members opposite say and they continue to say today that we are not going to sit by and let you members of the Opposition continue to talk and talk on this bill.

The point I made in the debate back last summer was that we are working as members of this Legislature within the rules set by this House, Madam Speaker, to promote the opportunity for all members of this House to debate, to question, to criticize this government or anybody else in terms of matters affecting our constituents and other people within the population. That is what parliamentary government is all about. If we did not have that opportunity, then why bother having an election where people get a choice?

From now on - maybe that is what this government would like to see - if a Party gets the majority of votes - say they get 35 per cent or 40 per cent of the vote - they will not only form government but they will be the only people here. The Premier will put a little crown on his or her head and they then will govern. They then will rule the people of Nova Scotia. Then you will not have any Opposition. Then you will not have any criticism. Wouldn't that be perfect? Then the backbenchers who don't do a thing when they come in this House with respect to the business of this House, Madam Speaker, are certainly not going to say anything

[Page 2799]

to represent the concerns of maybe those constituents who do have questions and concerns about the business this government is carrying out.

Maybe I misunderstand the member for Yarmouth. Maybe in fact he is out there just working behind the scenes to represent the interests of his constituents. Maybe he is right in there representing the concerns of those people who are opposed to the BST and that do not want to see the ferries privatized and want to see the winter ferry system continue.

MADAM SPEAKER: You are moving a tad off the debate on the resolution, honourable member, so I would like to call you back to debating the resolution now.

MR. CHISHOLM: The point is what kind of Legislature, what kind of governing are we going to have in this province if we continue to allow this kind of resolution on these kinds of closure motions to be passed through the Legislature of this province, Madam Speaker? The point is that this government with its massive majority is trying to impose its will because it will not brook any opposition or any criticism.

The rules of debate are important. "Obstructionism . . .", as C.E.S. Frank said, an expert on the whole question of Parliamentary procedure, ". . . can be used to force compromise from an unwilling government . . . A headstrong government can be slowed down until forces and events make their influence felt and some control is exerted over the government . . .". The rules of debate, I believe, should ensure that in the parliamentary forum the governed have forceful and effective means of bringing their views to the government's attention.

As I have said before, it is important that we all remember that people elect MLAs, they do not simply cast a vote for a Party. The rules of debate will determine how well and we say this to all members, the rules of debate determine how well all MLAs can represent their constituents including how the House deals with a headstrong government. The rules of debate should prevent obstructionism but not in a manner that makes legislative review a hollow formality and that is the whole point here. That is the point that we have been trying to argue with this government since they came into power, that there is some purpose to this process.

This process was not simply designed to cause some backbenchers some considerable hours of boredom or to give some members of the front benches headaches, that is not what it is for. These are rules that have existed for hundreds of years in this House and in parliamentary governments around the world. We have to fight very hard against the majority imposing its will on the minority.

We have seen evidence of the executive of this government imposing its will not only on government members but also on the whole House. The whole idea of the rules and you have examined it I am sure as well in Beauchesne, the whole purpose of rules that were

[Page 2800]

brought into this House in 1990, the rules that are now being suspended, was to try to insulate all members from the imposition of the will of the executive, the power of the executive. We have talked about it before in this House how this government executive runs this place as if it is its own private reserve. That is not what it is at all, this is the Legislature of the people of Nova Scotia, not the Liberal Party, not the people that were elected to represent the Liberal Party in the constituencies they represent but everyone in this Legislature.

The other balance with respect to insulating the power of the executive is the will, what has been referred to before as the governor of public opinion. We also run the peril of getting on the wrong side of public opinion. We were very much exposed in the debate over the casino legislation and workers' compensation as we filibustered and tried to obstruct this government's business in order to bring about changes within the rules because that is what the rules are all about, Madam Speaker.

[3:30 p.m.]

We tried to influence this government to recognize the concern of the public of Nova Scotia on these issues. That is our job, not to sit silent while this government imposes hardships on Nova Scotians, but to stand in our place and debate with every bit of strength that we have in order to ensure that the will of the people is recognized in this House, and not simply the will of the Executive.

During the debate last year, and this is what I call the natural governor of public opinion, we ran the risk - if we were wrong, if this was not a major issue for Nova Scotians, for the public of Nova Scotia, then we clearly ran the risk - of getting on the wrong side of that public opinion and paying for it, just as this government will pay for not listening to that same level of public opinion. Had we seen that indication, had we seen evidence of the fact that people did not care about what this government was doing on casinos, if we heard that people did not give a darn about what this government was doing to injured workers, then we would, naturally, have restricted our debate in this House.

But that is not what happened at all and this government knows that is not what happened. The great majority of Nova Scotians were opposed to casinos and to the changes to workers' compensation and we fought that within the Rules of this House, with every tactic and with every strategy that we possibly could. Instead of compromising, instead of listening to some of that public opinion, instead of considering the arguments and the opinions brought before this government by the Opposition, they ran and hid behind their majority. They ran and hid behind the 40-person majority that this government has and they imposed that will on us and this Legislature for ever more.

[Page 2801]

We are dealing with that right now. We are dealing with that will that was imposed in 1995. We are dealing with it again in 1996 because, Mr. Speaker, you, yourself, felt compelled to allow this procedure to pass through this House because of what had been done last year. That is the kind of damage that gets done to the rules and privileges of the House of Assembly as a result of government operating on the basis of what they consider urgency and we consider that a serious problem.

Mr. Speaker, how much time do I have? I have about 20 minutes.

AN HON. MEMBER: Take your time. By unanimous consent, you may continue.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, what I find absolutely unbelievable is that this government seems to be surprised, sometimes they are even shocked and appalled that we would fight so hard against what they are doing, that we would fight so hard against the imposition of the BST, the harmonized sales taxes, that we would have fought so hard against this government imposing casinos on the Province of Nova Scotia. It boggles my mind that they would think that given the fact that this government is running head long against its own mandate.

This government was not going to impose casinos. It was going to do wonderful things for injured workers. It was not going to harmonize taxes in the Province of Nova Scotia. It was going to bring in a fair tax commission. It has done none of the above. It has done absolutely the opposite, Mr. Speaker, run clearly in the face of its own mandate and in the face of the public's overwhelming views. I say that in light of all of that this government should not be surprised when the Opposition participates in rigorous debate within this House because Nova Scotians deserve to have somebody represent their concerns, somebody express their views, somebody try to hold this government accountable. That is what we are trying to do.

This government, members of the Liberal Party who are represented in the Legislature, should be prepared to engage in rigorous debate and not rely on sheer numbers, Mr. Speaker. The Premier of this province stood here in Question Period no more than a few hours ago and talked about what a wonderful deal this was for Nova Scotia. If it is that good a deal, why doesn't he take it out to Nova Scotians and talk to them about it? Why does he hide behind the majority that they have in the Legislative Chamber and try to ram this legislation through without taking it out, without giving Nova Scotians an opportunity to deal with it? Why does he try to deal with it at a time when it has been acknowledged that Nova Scotians are distracted by the holiday season, many of them by the fact that they have less and less money to be able to provide for their children at Christmas time and at the other holiday seasons that exist? This government hopes it will get this issue through before Nova Scotians have an opportunity to digest and to express their concerns.

[Page 2802]

Let me tell you that as a result of our campaign, joined by the Official Opposition, to give Nova Scotians an opportunity to register their concerns against the BST, Mr. Speaker, the phones are ringing off the hook, the mail is full day after day with petitions, the fax machines are humming because Nova Scotians day after day, as they find out about the BST, as they find out what this government is planning to do, are increasingly angry, increasingly frustrated with the way that this government is not giving them an opportunity to participate and they want this government to slow down.

If this deal is such a good deal and is such a big deal, if it is such a major tax change, then what is the hurry? When the federal government says jump, why do we continue to say how high? Why? After three and one-half years of being kicked in the face by the feds, why is this government continuing to bow to their wishes? Tens of millions of dollars less is going into our communities across this province as a result of changes in EI and UI, as a result of changes in transfers through the CHST. Nova Scotians have been dealt a raw deal by this Liberal Government and the Liberal Government in Ottawa. They don't want to have this government continue to dance to their tune; they want them to stand up. They want somebody in this province to stand up and represent their concerns and fight on their behalf for jobs, for fair taxes and for security of our health care system in this province. That is not what this government is doing.

We hear as a result of the efforts of this government - I have talked about this before, and other members have talked about it before - the level of cynicism that exists out there in the population towards politics and politicians hit a new high after the 1993 election. This government promised such things as accountability and openness and they shut the door on Nova Scotians. They promised fair taxes; they promised jobs; they promised real health care reform. They have given them the absolute opposite in all cases, Mr. Speaker.

What they have done is heighten that level of cynicism that existed prior to 1993 to new highs, to record highs, Mr. Speaker. The result of this kind of decision, this kind of resolution and closure, is that the parliamentary system and all that depends on it suffers when people conclude that the Legislature, both Opposition and government is incapable or unwilling to provide effective representation and response to deeply felt public concerns.

Mr. Speaker, what Nova Scotians have seen since this government came to power is a dictatorial, arrogant approach to governing, and 75 per cent of Nova Scotians now say that they have had enough. When asked, Nova Scotians, the first item on their agenda to describe this government is the word "dictatorial", and it is for this very reason; it is for this very action. They are discrediting politics and politicians and they are discrediting the parliamentary system when they cannot with their majority of 40 - now 39 - they cannot bring legislation into this House, cannot plan their legislative session in such a way as to get the business of the Province of Nova Scotia done. What that does is it leads to, contributes to more cynicism, more discouragement of Nova Scotians in that they cannot rely on this

[Page 2803]

Legislature, they cannot rely on this parliamentary system to do anything about the problems that are affecting them and their families.

That is why in New Zealand, for example, they have moved to representation by population. How else can citizens of a country, when the system breaks down, as it has in this province, how can they get effective representation unless they change the whole situation; unless they change all the rules; unless they throw this system out and bring a new one in, Mr. Speaker? I do not think that bodes well. I do not think what we are seeing from New Zealand is any indication of things being made better.

I think it is incumbent upon all of us here in this Legislature to reflect, very seriously, on the decision that we are making to overrule sincere and serious decisions that were made, by an all-Party committee of this Legislature, to respond to the demands of Nova Scotians and members of this House to change the rules and make them more responsive and more reasonable, not just to the majority, not just to the government, but to all members of this House. I think, Mr. Speaker, that this government and members - I am not going to throw threats around here because I do not probably have the right to do that and I do not believe in that anyway - you often see that when people talk about parliamentary change and the changing of the Rules of Parliament is that when it is imposed by the government of the day people say, don't forget that there is going to be a time, and with this government it may be sooner than later, when you are going to be on the Opposition benches and you are going to feel the effects of these kinds of changes. I implore this government to consider what it is doing.

[3:45 p.m.]

The Minister of Finance said back in October, Nova Scotians should take time, there is no rush, there is no timetable. Nova Scotians have the opportunity to examine this legislation, to examine this scheme and decide what they want to do about it. You see now that after April 1st it is going to take at least 18 months to get out of it if you have a government with the will. Before businesses make the kinds of changes that are necessary for their pricing regime in their businesses, when they expose themselves to additional expense in order to make these changes, why don't we step back, examine this legislation, examine this strategy in more detail before we step too far. There are two issues then, one is the whole question of democracy and this government imposing its will, the will of the majority on the minority and the second is the unwillingness of this government to give a piece of legislation proper review, proper examination in this House and in committee.

On the basis of those two issues I ask members of this House to consider what they are doing, to consider the fact that they are going to be on the Opposition benches at some point, that this is not an indication, this is not an example of the way Parliament should work and that we should re-examine what it is this government wants to do and work towards the kind of compromises that makes effective government and effective legislation.

[Page 2804]

Mr. Speaker, I see that my time is drawing to a close. I want to say that I will have the opportunity and I will take advantage of the opportunity to debate on the bill in question, whether it happens in one day over a period of 20 hours in one day or two days or 10 days, I will take that opportunity and use it with the most effectiveness of my ability. I hope that this government has the courage and the decency to give Nova Scotians an opportunity to review this legislation, to digest the information and to talk to legislators before we put it through and make a decision. As I take my seat I would like to move adjournment of this debate.

MR. SPEAKER: A recorded vote is being called for.

Let's ring the bells for 15 minutes.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, we are suggesting that the time period can be up to one hour and that is according to the rules. We need the amount of time to find the members to appear before it.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, we will give the honourable members reasonable time.

Ring the bells.

[3:50 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

[4:53 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Are the Whips satisfied?

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[4:54 p.m.]


Mr. Donahoe Mr. Barkhouse

Mr. Russell Mrs. Norrie

Mr. Moody Dr. Smith

Mr. Chisholm Mr. Boudreau

Mr. Holm Dr. Savage

Ms. O'Connell Mr. Gillis

[Page 2805]

Mr. Archibald Ms. Jolly

Mr. Leefe Mr. MacEachern

Mr. McInnes Mr. Mann

Mr. Taylor Mr. Harrison

Mr. Casey

Mr. O'Malley

Mr. M. MacDonald

Mr. Surette

Mr. Adams

Mr. Carruthers

Mrs. Cosman

Mr. MacAskill

Mr. MacArthur

Mr. MacNeil

Mr. Richards

Mr. White

Mr. Holland

Mrs. O'Connor

Mr. Mitchell

Mr. MacEwan

Mr. Fogarty

Mr. Hubbard

Mr. W. MacDonald

Mr. Fraser

Mr. Colwell

Mr. Huskilson

THE CLERK: For, 10. Against, 32.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried in the negative.

The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to rise in my place and speak to Resolution No. 921.

This is a resolution which is of great importance not only to this place, but indeed, I think to all Nova Scotians who give even cursory consideration to those events which unfold here and which either directly or indirectly impact upon them in their day-to-day lives. I think it is important that we look at rule changes in a context. I was reminded of that earlier this afternoon when another matter was being discussed. One of my colleagues, wisely I think, chose to remind us of a statement made by Sir John Bourinot, one of the great parliamentary authorities. I think it is important for all of us to reflect upon Sir John Bourinot's admonition

[Page 2806]

as we move forward in the debate of this particular resolution respecting changes to the rules and to determine whether that admonition is of and in itself sufficient to assist us in deciding whether we will support the resolution put forward by the government or will, in fact, oppose it when we are called upon to stand in our places and vote.

Bourinot says that the principles which provide the basis of English parliamentary law have always been kept steadily in view by the Canadian Parliament and, contextually, that would mean by our Parliament here in Nova Scotia which is more commonly known as the House of Assembly or the Legislature. He says that these principles of parliamentary law are as follows: "To protect a minority and restrain the improvidence or tyranny of a majority; to secure the transaction of public business in an orderly manner; to enable . . ." - the Minister of Community Services says he himself has used this quote. It is unfortunate that he is a victim of short-term memory loss, Mr. Speaker - "to secure the transaction of public business in an orderly manner; to enable every member to express his opinions within limits necessary to preserve decorum and prevent an unnecessary waste of time; to give abundant opportunity for the consideration of every measure, and to prevent any legislative action being taken upon sudden impulse.".

I think that that is a reasonable context within which we should address the resolution which is before the House this afternoon.

[5:00 p.m.]

There have been a number of occasions when this House, at different times, has chosen to amend the rules. The first major amendment was recommended in the late 1970's under then Premier Regan. He was a head of government who took great interest in the affairs of not only our Parliament here in Nova Scotia but indeed all Parliaments across the Commonwealth. It was during the course of fulfilling his duties as Chairman of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association that he invited Mr. Michael Ryle, who was then Deputy Principal Clerk at the Table of the United Kingdom House of Commons to come to Nova Scotia and to spend time here with all legislators to review the Rules and Forms of Procedure of this place and to recommend to us certain changes.

As a consequence, in 1977 a select committee was struck to undertake a review consequent to the tabling of Mr. Ryle's report. It is interesting that of those who were on that select committee, one is still a member of the Legislative Assembly now almost 20 years later and that, of course, is the member for Digby-Annapolis. The committee tabled a report in the Legislature and noted that it had studied the present rules which had been adopted on April 7, 1955 and found them wanting. Temporary rules were put in place which lasted until early in the next Legislature, subsequent to the 1978 election.

[Page 2807]

In 1979 a select committee was established to undertake a thorough review of the rules of this place. As a consequence, in May 1980, the most extensive rule change that had ever taken place in this House in almost two decades occurred bringing our rules literally out of the 19th Century and into the latter part of the 20th Century. We saw rule changes in 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1986 and in 1990 and those rules completely effected on September 14, 1993.

My purpose of reminding us of these dates is singular. It is to remind us that on each of these dates some very significant amendments were made to the rules and in each case they were made as the consequence of deliberations of an all-Party committee and in each case that all-Party committee unanimously recommended changes to the House and those rules were unanimously adopted by all Parties in this House. (Interruption) Well, there certainly was a good Opposition in 1977, I will agree with my honourable friend in that respect.

One of things which was reflected upon by Mr. Ryle in the latter part of the 1970's was the hours of sitting. I think it is useful for us to understand that a debate respecting the hours of sittings is not new. In one of his proposals Mr. Ryle said that, "Rules 3 and 4 provided that the House shall sit each day from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m., but for a number of years this has not been followed, particularly on Mondays and Fridays. I recommend the Rules be redrafted to reflect the wishes of Members regarding the hours and days of sittings.". Then he goes on to observe that "Some Members have criticized the present practice under which, in the first part of the Session, there are three hour sittings each day in accordance with the Rules, but much longer sittings towards the end of the Session.". So the number of hours we sit has been very much on the minds of members of this Legislature, as long as the member for Digby-Annapolis has been here, and that is quite a long time indeed.

Again, Mr. Ryle's recommendation implicitly speaks to changes which are acceptable to all members and explicitly the experience up to and including the changes effective on September 14, 1993, were carried out as a consequence of universal unanimous recommendations by members of all Parties to this place and adopted by unanimous consent within this place. As a consequence, the rules, while sometimes bent and occasionally a little frayed, nonetheless have been sustained and have been largely observed by the members of the House.

That process which had evolved through many years more by trial than by error, came to an end in 1994 when the now government took it upon itself unilaterally to change the rules. On that day the rule change was put in place to limit debate in Committee of the Whole House. Instead of having open-ended debate, as had been the custom in this place, as far as I know since 1758, debate was curtailed. My recollection is that the debate on that day, which the government particularly wanted to drive through this place, was on the casino gambling bill. The government was not satisfied to invoke closure for the first time, in my recollection, by changing the rules. It in fact invoked a rule change which applied not solely to that legislation but, indeed, applied to all legislation, so that forever, or at least until such time as

[Page 2808]

another government on another day sees fit to listen to all members of this House and consequently change the rules, open-ended debate in Committee of the Whole stage is gone and by government fiat, by government directive, by government dictate, we have Committee of the Whole House limited to 20 hours of debate.

As we have seen from time to time, the government, now knowing that it has that 20 hour cap on debate in Committee of the Whole House, quite frequently encourages its ministers and even some of its backbenchers to engage in that debate, thereby eating up time and leaving less time for members of the Opposition to speak within that 20 hour framework.

I would have to say that had in a less rancorous atmosphere an amendment something of that nature been put forward in an all-Party committee, it might possibly have met with some success, but the government of the day felt so stressed and so pressed by the need to accommodate those who were pressing it to get the casino up and running and so compressed by the timetable that it created for itself respecting the implementation of casino gambling in Nova Scotia that it felt it incumbent upon itself to change the rules to accommodate those who would benefit most from the casinos. At that time they thought themselves, through revenues which we now know have not materialized, and the owners of the two casinos, the one here and the one in Sydney.

There was then in 1994, in my view and I think in the view of many, a subversion of the legislative process as a consequence of the tyranny of a two-thirds majority being visited on a minority, the minority sitting here on the Opposition benches.

There is no closure rule here in our Parliament in Nova Scotia, as there is in the Parliament of Canada and there is, I believe, in some of the other Legislatures. In fact, I think I am correct in saying that closure in the Parliament of Canada is not a blanket closure. It is not universal. It can only be applied on a case-by-case basis. If the government has a particular bill on which it wishes to curtail debate, then it must move closure on that particular bill. The closure does not apply to every bill which the government brings before the House.

So what we have here instead of a well thought out, fair closure trigger to be used in our House, is a government, which first in 1994, and now in the dying days of 1996, seeks to invoke closure by calling for the previous question. So, again, we have this government invoking a form of closure. But, again, we have this form of closure being put in place, not solely to deal with the legislation that will be dealt with in this place in second reading in not too many days, hence, that is the BS Tax legislation, but, in fact, a motion which goes far beyond the life of the debate on that bill and, as a consequence, applies not only to - as far as I can understand it - all sittings of this Legislature, but, indeed, all Legislatures from this point forward, at least until such time as another Legislature on another day amends the rule which will be effected if this resolution passes.

[Page 2809]

None of us knows if, after the next great democratic exercise in Nova Scotia, we will or will not be here. For those who are here, we do not know whether we will be sitting on Mr. Speaker's right or on Mr. Speaker's left. We should all bear that in mind, for those who sit in government today may sit in Opposition tomorrow and may well have visited upon them the tyranny which they are subjecting the Opposition of today to.

My honourable friend wishes to make an introduction, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid on an introduction.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the cooperation from the member for Queens, interrupting his speech in full flight to allow me this opportunity. I would like to, through you, to all members of the House, introduce in our east gallery a number of very hard-working, dedicated public servants of the Province of Nova Scotia. These are men and women who work for Correctional Services and they are here to urge the government to involve them in the process of the discussion that the government is currently involved with, its private sector partners as it is planning the new manner in which they are going to be operating Correctional Services in the Province of Nova Scotia and they want to be involved directly in the discussions. This evening we have with us Mr. Ed Foulkes, who is the President of Local 480; Roger Shepard, who is Vice-president; Tony Dickie, Secretary-Treasurer; Paul Teasdale; Dale Conrad; Brian Martin; Garth Newel; Charlie Brothers; Merle Munroe; Donat Arsenault; Paul Squires; Russ Lively; Jason Wilson; Jerard Beaton; and Loyd Petrie. I would like to ask our visitors to please rise and to receive the very warm welcome to your House by the members. (Applause)

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, the motion deserves our closest scrutiny, for it deals not solely with the bill which was introduced by the Minister of Finance but indeed it deals with the hours which this Legislature may be required to sit for any reason whatsoever. This clause does not say that the new rule will die when this session is prorogued, which, by the way, is the case with the current rule. When the House prorogues at the end of a session, we go back to the normal hours of sitting. It is only after we have sat for a certain period of time that we then move on to six hours a day for four days of the week, the fifth day being Opposition day, and then eight hours a day for successive weeks at four days a week.

[5:15 p.m.]

No, this does not die at the end of a session. This rule, once effected, will cause this place forever, until the rule is changed again, to sit for as many hours on any day at any time during any session or during any Legislature that the government chooses. All that is required is for the Government House Leader of the day to stand and tell us that the following day the hours will be such and such, and that is it.

[Page 2810]

I invite all members, if they have not thought of this, to scrutinize this motion and to understand, as I have come to understand, that this has a long lasting, dramatic impact on the way in which we do business in this place. While it might be fine for the moment with respect to the legislation for which this was crafted, in the medium and in the longer term this will provide to this House a significant disadvantage. It will provide to members of the Opposition significant disadvantage. As I said, some who are over there may one day find themselves over here. I think it disadvantages Nova Scotians generally because I think it puts us in a position where we are less able in a sufficiently well organized manner to deal with the issues of the day, be they great or be they small.

That, I think, is the most condemning aspect of this motion. Not that it would change the rules for this one particular bill but rather that it changes the rules, period. That is what it does. If you are not sure, reflect on it. If you choose not to take my word for it - and there is no reason why you should - then ask the Clerks for their view, for it is their job to respond to questions that any of us as legislators may put to them.

Is there an urgency which requires these rules to be changed and for us to enter a period of debate that is limited only by the whim of the Government House Leader? I would argue that no such urgency exists. Where is the emergency that demands unilateral change by the government respecting the rules that traditionally have been put in place only after agreement among all Parties?

The bill for which this has been crafted will not come into effect until April 1, 1997, so there are three and one-half months for the government to enact this legislation. It has been well established that changes in taxation can occur in advance of the legislation that is associated with them. We see this whenever taxation is changed as a consequence of government bringing in a budget. I say quite forthrightly that wherever it is possible, I think it is not only appropriate but important that significant tax changes which are not created as a consequence of a budget being brought down should be passed if at all possible in advance of the trigger date for that taxation legislation. That is the case with this bill here. So, in that sense, I do welcome that we have the opportunity to debate it in advance of April 1, 1997.

With the extended hours available through Resolution No. 921, we find now that not only are we going to have the number of hours which we sit determined in a very different mode than has been the case in the past, but we haven't even been limited with respect to debate in this resolution. Mr. Speaker, let's assume for a moment that the Government House Leader and/or members of the governing Party did not quite realize that Resolution No. 921 changes the rules as extensively as it does respecting the hours of sitting and they came to understand that an amendment was required, but because the Government House Leader has moved that the question now be put, the House is blocked from moving amendments.

[Page 2811]

There is, of course, one way in which that can be done and that is by unanimous consent. I would think that with some reasonable and sane and quiet and thoughtful negotiations between the House Leaders of the three Parties that it might be possible to come to an agreement respecting an amendment to Resolution No. 921 which, at the very least, will cause it to function only with respect to the BST legislation for which it was created. If such an amendment were to be drafted by the three House Leaders working in conjunction with each other, then I would hope that there would be the will found among all of us to offer the unanimous consent to allow that amendment to be dealt with.

You see, the government, in its mad rush, in its mad haste to deal with the BST legislation as quickly as possible, has, in fact, blocked itself in as well. This is not a well thought-out resolution. It is not well thought-out, in my view, with respect to the blended sales tax implications but, even worse, it is not well thought-out with respect to how it will impede freedom of debate and exercise of pure thought in this Chamber in the days and the months and, indeed, in the years to come.

What is the urgency? Without Resolution No. 921, would the bill have been prevented from having been passed by April 1st? Of course it would have been passed well in advance of that; in fact, with the hours that are available to the government, the bill, in likelihood, even supposing that the certain amendments to allow it second reading and third reading were to be made and the maximum hours taken up by the Opposition on speaking on second reading, second reading amendments, Committee of the Whole House, third reading, third reading amendments, the government could have had the bill through this place in two and one-half weeks anyway, and two and one-half weeks is before Christmas.

Why the urgency? Why eat up two days of debate on this resolution that might otherwise have been spent debating the legislation, a debate which would have concluded, in advance of Christmas, in any event. Why is it so urgent? I recall, up until a week ago, the Premier himself was saying that the government would not be introducing the legislation for some time, there was no rush to do this, it didn't have to be done right away. Suddenly we are faced with some great urgency which the government has not explained, a great urgency which causes us to be faced with having the rules changed respecting the hours of sitting.

What has caused the government to change its mind? Well, one might conjecture that recent polling results may be one of the reasons causing the government to change its mind. I look at the CRA on this Atlantic Survey, press release of November 28, 1996, it says that three-quarters of Nova Scotians are somewhat or very dissatisfied with the performance of the Savage Government.

That is reflected further on in the same press release where it notes that with respect to Party leadership, the Party Leader who fares worst is Liberal Leader John Savage at 15 per cent approval, down from the last poll.

[Page 2812]

I think 10 per cent of people believe that Elvis still lives? He is getting close.

Perhaps the urgency arises out of this poll. Perhaps the urgency arises out of some poll which may have been taken of Nova Scotians respecting the blended sales tax. I would, if I were a betting man - and I am not - bet that there are significantly more Nova Scotians who are opposed to the BST today than they were last May when we first learned about it. You will remember that day, the day in which the former Minister of Finance tried discreetly to slide onto the Table of the House the real impact of the blended sales tax and get caught with his hands in the taxpayers' cookie jar. (Interruption)

Why the urgency? Perhaps because the Liberal Party is facing continuing decline here in Nova Scotia. Is it because the government felt that in the news over the last several weeks they have been taking a mauling on the blended sales tax through Question Period and they figured that they might as well be hanged for stealing a sheep as stealing a lamb and, therefore let's get this legislation in right away and get it over with. We know that, for example, that simple introduction of the legislation blocks the blended sales tax out of questions in Question Period and the government is making sure that it advantages from that through the curtailment of debate of Committee of the Whole House on Bills which occurred in 1994 and by the impact on debate that the extended hours will have in 1996 and beyond.

Is it because the Liberals remind themselves that in Nova Scotia they have placed themselves in virtually the same kind of position that Brian Mulroney placed himself in in 1991? Is it because they now realize that by acceding to the demands of their federal friends in Ottawa that the BST in Nova Scotian has, in effect, become their BST and that the Premier of Nova Scotia has come to be reviled as much by the taxpayers as was Brian Mulroney by the taxpayers at that time. (Interruption) My honourable colleague reminds me that Brian was 17 per cent, so a distinction perhaps with the difference.

People hate the BST, people hate its author and the people are burning to get even. One does not have to take a scientific poll, all one needs to do is to move around each of our constituencies, go to the McDonald's, go to the Tim Hortons, drop into the local gas station, stop at the coffee bar downtown and go to the bingo hall. It does not take very long at all to understand people hate the idea of this tax, people do not believe that this tax will provide them any dividend. They believe that this tax if it helps anybody will only help those people who would normally be deemed to be vested interests in this province. So is the urgency, that people around the province now are really being seen to respond this way and so the rules must be changed in order to try to sweep this under the carpet as quickly as possible. That is the height of the cynicism of this government that they believe if they do it now, do it as quickly as they can now that the public really isn't very smart, the public really doesn't have a long-term memory and they will forget by the next election.

[Page 2813]

[5:30 p.m.]

Is it because we are moving into the Christmas season and people are not as focused on what happens here as they are on their Christmas shopping and Christmas preparations? Is it because normally at Christmas people are in a pretty good frame of mind that this government has decided to deal with this tax when the people's focus may be elsewhere? Is it because we know full well that any hours that the House sits after probably 4:30 p.m. for the electronic media, 6:00 p.m. for the print media that the media simply because of demands placed on them by their editors will pack it up and leave here so that anything that is said after 6:00 p.m. even if it is deemed to be of interest to the public will never be reported? Is that why these extended hours are being put in place?

I will wager that we will not sit early in the morning until the latter part of the afternoon but rather we will be sitting from sometime in the middle of the day until well into the evening when these extra hours are put in place by the Government House Leader. Is the government choosing to do this because to date the amount of coverage on cable television of Legislative debates has been curtailed and therefore the people have not been able to tune us in, or if they so choose from time to time, to tune us out?

It has come to be the generally held view of most Nova Scotians, the 75 per cent who expressed dissatisfaction with this government and probably as a consequence of their unilateral changing of the rules that govern public debate here that this government views itself to have a mandate to do anything it wishes over the five year term that it won as a consequence of the May 25, 1993 general election. This view certainly was further strengthened I am sure by the fact that this government has a two-thirds majority and therefore can change any rule it wishes at any time simply by putting forward a motion like the Government House Leader has done with Resolution No. 921.

The capacity for this Premier and this Government House Leader to apply tyranny of the majority over the minority is now well established. It is well established by the changes in 1994 and the change of 1996. This government, or at least its ministers, are a little like the mafia. Even when they can succeed within the rules, within the established order, they prefer acting outside it because it is just more fun, the sheer enjoyment of smashing the minority to demonstrate that in their view might makes right.

With respect to this motion I believe the perversity of the Premier, the Government House Leader and those who would support them is mistaken. It is absolutely true that we in the Opposition claim that this abuse is an abuse of the Opposition, but the fact is that every time the Opposition is abused by a government acting with a mailed fist, smashing at any Opposition, whether inside this House or out, it is not the members of the Opposition who are being abused so much as it is the people of Nova Scotia. That is at whom this resolution is aimed. It is aimed at them through us who sit in Opposition. It is aimed at them because its intent is to so compress the number of days of debate and so extend the hours into dead news

[Page 2814]

time that the people will be less sure of what their government is doing to them during the course of any session.

This resolution which supports the BS Tax would have been worthy of passage in the British Parliament that dealt with the stamp tax, the tax which led to a revolution in America and the severing of the first British Empire. It is a resolution which very clearly says to the people of Nova Scotia that Brian Mulroney and the GST live now in the persona of John Savage and the BST. It is fortunate that the Constitution prevents this government from bringing in a motion which would change the maximum number of years that it can sit before it goes to the polls. Otherwise, we might well expect on a future day to have a resolution brought in here to defer the election for some time after May 25, 1998.

I do not share the cynicism of this government which implies that the people really are not very bright and that they will forget pretty quickly. I do not believe the people will forget and I do not believe the people will forgive. The people will not reward arrogance, they will not reward petulance and they will not reward tyranny. The people will seek and they will get retribution as soon as they can, as soon as they can get to the ballot box.

This is a bad resolution, Mr. Speaker, because it invokes an odd and perverse kind of closure on the legislation which would affect the blended sales tax. It is a bad resolution because it has no sunset. It will not die once the legislation for which it has been crafted is passed but will go on and on like an incurable sore, ensuring that every Government House Leader will be able to dictate to every member of this House, on the basis of the night before notice, how many hours the House will sit the next day and when those hours will commence. This is bad for members of the Legislature irrespective of Party, because any time democracy is abused and this Chamber is abused, it reflects negatively on our ability as elected persons to husband our responsibilities to all of our constituents.

While I don't expect them to take my observation at face value, I believe this is bad for the government, which, I suppose, in a way makes it good for the Opposition. It is bad for the government because it further drives home to Nova Scotians that this is a government which is determined to do what it wants to do because it believes that it is always right and always knows better than anybody else what is good for Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, it is bad for the people of this province now in this legislation, it is bad for the people of the province with respect to all the matters which will come before this place and which will be adversely impacted because of the rule change respecting the number of days and the number of hours we can sit each day. It is a bad piece of business. It is at its worst in its present form. It could be made slightly less odious if it were amended but it would be odious nonetheless.

[Page 2815]

I warrant, Mr. Speaker, that while this government may win the battle today, it will, in the final reckoning, pay a huge price for the arrogance and the extensive tyranny which it would impose on the Opposition and, by so making such imposition on the Opposition, it would impose upon the citizens of this province. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, in rising to debate the resolution that we have before us, Resolution No. 921, I would like to spend my first few minutes, I think, talking about rules. (Interruption) Well, I will talk about the Speaker, too, for that matter and I will in a few moments.

MADAM SPEAKER: Of course with great respect you will.

MR. RUSSELL: Absolutely. Every form of endeavour that we undertake has rules. Even in your household you have rules about who is going to take out the garbage and who is going to drive the kids to school and what have you. Rules are things on which order is based. Certainly in any body which brings together people, elected in particular but, however, any body that brings people together to reach decisions, must have rules.

On our wall behind me, Madam Speaker, if anybody is watching, they won't be able to see it, but we have framed the Orders of the Day of a day in 1784, which by my arithmetic is about 213 years ago. The order of business on that particular day was to set up the rules of how this House should operate. Now I don't know how many people in this House have bothered to read that particular document. (Interruption) Pardon? Most of the members have not bothered because most of the members on that side of the House don't care for rules. But in that document, in the opening preamble it says; "Freedom of speech and debate be an undoubted privilege of members of this House." How true that is. That is the basic premise on which a legislative body is built. That, as I say, was 213 years ago.

Well, you know, we rolled right along with that little set of rules for a long time until, and I couldn't locate it in the library but I think it was around about 1850 that those rules were amended. So they went for something like, well, about 75 years approximately, I guess, before the members of the House saw fit to change the rules. They did change the rules slightly. They didn't change them by closing down debate but they actually expanded the debate that would be permitted in the House.

One of the things they did, for instance, Madam Speaker, was to dictate when the House would meet. That was one of the things they did in 1850. So we roll along then until we get to 1867, when Confederation took place, to the sorrow of most Nova Scotians and certainly not to the benefit of this province, we then went into another period of revising the rules and we brought our rules into line, more or less, with the Rules of the House of

[Page 2816]

Commons. The House of Commons rules were based primarily on the Rules of the British House of Commons and, to a lesser extent, the Parliament of Upper Canada.

[5:45 p.m.]

We went along with those rules for a long period again, Madam Speaker, and the first of these little books that we have at the present time that, I can find, is one which is dated 1955. Evidently, in 1995, rather than the whole House making the rules, as started back in 1784, there was a committee formed called the Committee of Rules. This was back in 1955. Pretty progressive. That committee reported to the House after a review of the old Rules of the House, and they had reviewed these rules with a view of modernizing the Rules of the House of Assembly.

This is the preamble to the book of rules, the preamble says, "The Committee recommends to the House that the Rules adopted by the House of Assembly on March 26th, 1928, be revoked and that the Rules hereto attached by adopted as the Rules and forms of procedure of the House of Assembly. The committee further recommends that the Clerk of the Executive Council and the Clerk of the House of Assembly be authorized to make such rearrangement or regrouping of the attached Rules . . .", et cetera and provide copies to the members. It is very good.

Right at the end of those rules, which were adopted in 1955, Madam Speaker, Rule No. 78 talks about suspension of rules. Rule 78 says, "No Rule adopted by the House shall be dispensed with, unless by the consent of at least two-thirds of the members present.". That is what it said back in 1955.

We jogged along with the rules from 1955 almost unchanged, Madam Speaker, until 1980 when we were very fortunate in this province to get a government that was progressive and certainly not regressive, with regard to the Rules of the House of Assembly and how this House should operate. What we did in 1980, Madam Speaker. My colleague from Queens says 1981 and I notice in our book of rules actually it does say that they were adopted in 1981, so it is quite possible that they were held until the end of a session before coming into effect. Actually the rules were, as I say, updated in 1980. In these rules we did several things. Once again, as I said before, what we did was we opened the House up and we made it more of a place where people could express their views and, in particular, to give the Opposition a better go at the business of the House.

Now, for those of you who do not know what happened in the House in 1970, let me tell you what the House was all about. In those days, the House could sit forever. It could sit all day and all night. The government decided how long the House would sit.

AN HON. MEMBER: They'll be doing that soon again, won't they.

[Page 2817]

MR. RUSSELL: They will be, exactly. This is regressive.

AN HON. MEMBER: Back to the future.

MR. RUSSELL: Back to the future, that is exactly where we are headed.

The other thing was that Question Period was on two days a week, Madam Speaker, on Tuesdays and Thursdays and, again, the Question Period could last . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: No limit.

MR. RUSSELL: No limit, quite right, until the end of the sitting day. The sitting day was always called by the House Leader, so it normally went until 5 o'clock or 6 o'clock. There was a fairly long Question Period, but it was only for two days a week, but the rule changes in 1980 increased the number of days in which questions could be answered to Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and set the number of hours for Question Period at one hour and fifteen minutes.

Then things proceeded along, Madam Speaker, until 1984, I believe, or 1985, and again the rules were changed. How were the rules changed? They were changed, and I will read the preamble again, in 1984 for you, the Rules of the House, again, were changed by the Committee on Rules of the House. They changed the rules, once again, not to clamp down on the Opposition, but, again, to open it up. What do they do? They gave them an Opposition Day that went for a normal day, not to be cut off by the Government House Leader.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell them about those long hours you gave them, too.

MR. RUSSELL: Well, Madam Speaker, isn't that interesting. I will tell you about the long hours.

AN HON. MEMBER: About the Meech Lake debate.

MR. RUSSELL: The Meech Lake resolution? I cannot recall a Meech Lake resolution, but I can remember, Madam Speaker . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: 192 pages in Hansard in one day.

MR. RUSSELL: So? Madam Speaker, can I tell the minister - and I cannot tell the minister, I have to tell you - back in 1978, we had a very contentious bill that went through this House. That was called the Michelin Bill, but it was an amendment to the Trade Union Act. This crowd's compatriots, back in 1978, some of them were sitting over here, argued tooth and nail against the Michelin Bill and they could argue and they could bring in amendments until the cows came home. That was fine. That was their right. They had the

[Page 2818]

right to do that. But, the big thing about the Michelin Bill was that people out there knew that there were actually 3,000 jobs, I notice the Minister of Finance taking note, which were coming, guaranteed, to this province and the people out there were in favour of that amendment to the Trade Union Act. Rather than the Opposition receiving, as they are today, complaints from thousands of people against the bill that we are going to be debating when this resolution gets through, in those days, the people of Nova Scotia were egging the government to get on with it. Get the bill passed. Let's get the Michelin Company established in the Province of Nova Scotia and provide taxes and provide jobs.

This particular ploy from those opposite, Madam Speaker, is to put in place a bill that is going to tax the people more than they are taxed at the present time and tax them heavily and we will speak on that later on. (Interruption) I am talking about the process, my friend. (Interruption)

Well, my colleague, I guess he is my colleague because he operates in this House. But what they are trying to do, Madam Speaker, is to put this ploy through which will enable them to pass a bill. It is a bill that the majority of the people, probably 78 per cent to 80 per cent, of this province do not want and it is also a bill, as I say, which is going to tax them out of existence.

In 1980, as I say, again, we had a Committee on Rules and they changed the rules to open the House up again. Now, in every one of these Rules Books that I have, Madam Speaker, including the current one that we are using from 1996, they all have, on the last page, a final rule and that final rule talks about suspension of a rule and it says, "No Rule adopted by the House shall be dispensed with, unless by consent of at least two thirds of the Members present.", not as the Government House Leader is trying to do which is, if I can find the motion, to simply change the rules by a majority. House rules have to be amended by two-thirds of the members present. This is an amendment to the rules which is a suspension of an existing rule. (Interruption)

Madam Speaker, I am not going to engage in an argument across the floor with this person. If he wants to stand up and ask me a question, I will answer it. (Interruption)

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

MR. RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, they are asking for a hammer. This is not a hammer, this is a piledriver with a two ton weight on the top.

It is a funny thing but when you are winning, when you are ahead, you become very lenient, you are willing to listen to people, to compromise, to be fair. When you are losing and you are running away from everybody and hiding, then it is a different question. Then you start clamping down. I do not want to go back to recent dictatorships that we have had in the world that lead to some horrendous things that happened in the world and I do not suggest

[Page 2819]

that those things are necessarily going to happen in this Legislature. Nevertheless, that is the way things have started. People have just got rid of the rules. They have just said, the rules do not exist anymore because we do not like them, because we are losing.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's what I said, Ron, when you were up there in the Chair. You told me I was wrong and you sat me down.

MR. RUSSELL: And you were wrong, probably, if I sat you down.

Madam Speaker, I said every organization has rules. Every game that we play has rules. You cannot be half way through a hockey game and have the referee suddenly say, when the home team gets ahead, that that is the end of the game. Every group, as I say, has rules. Some groups use Robert's Rules of Order. They are American rules and they are used by a lot of the service clubs in Canada and in Nova Scotia. I think the Lions Club, for instance, uses Robert's, a good set of rules, actually.

Some organizations use Bourinot. In fact, we used to use Bourinot in this House at one time.

AN HON. MEMBER: Still do.

MR. RUSSELL: Well, we use it occasionally but not very often. We have Beauchesne, of course. Most people know who Beauchesne was, I guess. If you walk down Barrington Street and you say to somebody, do you know who Beauchesne was, they would probably know who he was.

Then we have Mr. May. As Beauchesne is to the House of Commons in Canada, Mr. May is to the British House of Commons. In consequence, if we cannot find a rule or a procedure or a precedent in this House, we can keep going back until finally we end up at the House of Commons in the United Kingdom where they go by May, so sometimes we get back to using May. Then, of course, we also use the Rules the House of Commons on occasion as a precedent.

These rules that we supposedly operate by are rules, as I say, that were made by all-Party committees. In the past, those all-Party committees used to reach a consensus. They would come to the House with a recommendation and normally the House Leader would introduce the resolution and explain the recommendations of the committee. Then normally a member from each of the other two or whatever number of Parties used to speak. At one time we had three Opposition Parties in this House. I do not think the Third Opposition Party used to speak. However, the two semi-official Opposition Parties would speak on those changes and the House would agree unanimously and everybody would come out completely satisfied. They may not have exactly got what they wanted, but they were willing to concede, to work together, to negotiate to get a set of rules that the House could live by and live

[Page 2820]

reasonably happily. That is the way it used to be and what a wonderful way for rules to be made.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. We have reached the moment of interruption under Rule 5(5), and we shall now interrupt our proceedings for the late show.

The draw for the Adjournment debate this evening won by the member for Cape Breton West who wishes to debate the matter:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government come clean on the process respecting tire recycling programs in Nova Scotia.".

[6:00 p.m.]



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


MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, the honourable member for Cape Breton West has been kind enough to let me speak on his resolution. Tonight I would like to again raise the topic of the tire recycling facility and, more particularly, tonight I would like to talk about the process regarding the selection and the subsequent awarding of the contract to Tire Recycling Atlantic Canada Corporation (TRACC).

In 1994, this government called for expressions of interest regarding the establishment of a tire recycling facility in the Province of Nova Scotia. Fifty-four companies spent a lot of time, expended a lot of energy and spent a considerable amount of money in submitting proposals to the Savage Government and especially to the Department of the Environment.

After the 54 expressions of interest were received, I have it on good authority that two companies were short-listed. (Interruption) They don't think the Minister of the Environment is a good source and authority? Well, I thought perhaps the Minister of the Environment was a good source and authority because he agrees that two companies were short-listed. As he stated in Hansard, Atlantic Rubber Recycling - and the minister is nodding his head - and TRACC, a company that allegedly has contacts with the Central Mennonite Committee from Manitoba. That is the source and that is the authority so if members of the Minister of the Environment's government disagree with that, then they had better go talk to him.

[Page 2821]

On March 25, 1996, the Minister of the Environment, the Honourable Wayne Adams, gave authority to the Resource Recovery Fund Board to negotiate with an Atlantic Canada based company to open at least one plant in Nova Scotia to process used tires. That is the statement that the Minister of the Environment made then. My concern is one of validity and one of credibility; I am concerned about the validity and the credibility of the company, TRACC, and particularly I am concerned that when I go down to the Registry of Joint Stock Companies, I find that when you look at the history of TRACC and find out a little bit about the profile, you find out a little more about the people involved. You find out their positions, their names and occupations and so on and so forth, and - the minister should make note of this - the individual named is one Douglas Vicars. He is named as the recognized agent and lives in Dartmouth, and that is fine and dandy; no difficulty thus far.

When you look expecting to find shareholders and a board of directors, you find the position Director, again Douglas Vicars. You go down further to occupation, Douglas Vicars is President and Secretary. Then you go to the minutes - and this document has been tabled in the House, Madam Speaker, and the minister has the document - of a July 26, 1996 meeting that the Resource Recovery Fund Board held in Debert and we find that the Mennonite Central Committee were unable to sign as the contracted agent as this would impact their present non-profit status.

That tells me - and the minister can tell me if I am wrong - that most likely Mr. Douglas Vicars is not now associated with the Mennonite Central Committee because they found out very clearly - and it is stated in the minutes - that it would impact their present non-profit status. Perhaps the minister, during his submission to that debate, would comment on that. I ask the minister in all good conscience if he could assure this House and all Nova Scotians that Mr. Douglas Vicars has the appropriate assets to move forward with this project.

I have the contract here from TRACC and the New Brunswick Government. When we examine that contract between the New Brunswick Government we find out, Madam Speaker, and I apologize for being somewhat disjointed here and a little bit off-track, but nonetheless, when we examine, and here it is, the rubber is hitting the road, but this is for the minister's information. This isn't about the location that I am speaking about here tonight, I am speaking about the credibility and the viability of one Doug Vicars.

Now, "TRACC shall be required to: (i) construct a facility capable of storing scrap tires to be completed no later than September 30th, 1996, and", in the Province of New Brunswick. Madam Speaker, I am here to tell you that on October 31st no such facility had been constructed and, in fact, on Hallowe'en night, October 31st, security guards were hired to guard an inventory of used tires, scrap tires. Now that is what is in their contract. So I am just asking the Minister of the Environment to be very careful and know what he is getting into and know what this province is getting into.

[Page 2822]

Now again, Madam Speaker, we go and look at the expressions of interest. The expressions of interest very clearly state that incinerating tires in this province is prohibited. The Environmental Act states that. It also states in the expressions of interest that any aspiring proponent will not be permitted to export the tires to other jurisdictions to be burned.

Now somewhere along the line that constraint, which is in the expressions of interest, was amended, if you will, to permit TRACC to ship up to 30 per cent of the tires. Now can you believe that? There is only one ozone layer, to my knowledge, but we don't allow you to burn a tire in Nova Scotia but we are going to let you ship them out and perhaps other companies that are competing against Nova Scotia companies will be able to use those tires as derived fuel. That is wrong, it is reprehensible that the Minister of the Environment would let (Interruption) I am telling the truth.

Now the minister is saying tell the truth. I remember in Question Period he told me that the Atlantic Ministers of the Environment changed that constraint, and again that is represented in Hansard. But when we go back and check with the other Ministers of the Environment - well, he says I am off-track and he can correct me if I am wrong, but, Madam Speaker, there have been some very profound inconsistencies, if not improprieties, committed along the way. Why didn't the Minister of the Environment go back to the other 53 companies and say, look, we changed the rules of the game, now you are allowed to burn - well, the minister was at the meetings. He said he didn't impede the board members' ability to think clearly, to make decisions. They didn't mind at all to have the Minister of the Environment sitting, looking over their shoulder, and his entourage, his PR, his spin doctor Mr. MacEachern.

Now, Madam Speaker, there is an article in today's - I notice you are looking at the clock, Madam Speaker, is there some problem with the clock?

MADAM SPEAKER: If there is, I will let you know.

MR. TAYLOR: Oh, thank you, Madam Speaker, I was quite certain that you would. Thank you very much.

Madam Speaker, I have a letter here from the Truro and District Chamber of Commerce. I would like to read two or three sentences into the record. " The aim of this letter is to seek your personal assurance concerning . . . the proposed tire recycling contract that is expected to be announced in a very few days. We have been briefed by Mr. Steve Benison Atlantic Rubber Recycling on their contract proposal and to be frank we were most impressed with his presentation.". Why wasn't Mr. Steve Benison allowed to take his management team to the negotiating table and put his cards on the table, so to speak, why was he not permitted to do so? The only opportunity Mr. Benison had to make a proposal, to make a pitch, Madam Speaker, was through a personal presentation and a plea to the Minister of the Environment, but he gave the contract to the Resource Recovery Fund Board.

[Page 2823]

Madam Speaker, there is so much to talk about and obviously no time to do so, but the Minister of the Environment has a lot of questions to answer. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: I just want to caution members in debate that they should exercise great care in making statements about persons who are outside this House and unable to reply.

The honourable Minister of the Environment.

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Madam Speaker, I am delighted to have this opportunity to go through the process and try to answer some of the inaccuracies that have been flying around the province and doing injury that is perhaps unnecessary in the whole process. I apologize that my voice is not in the best of condition tonight.

I do understand that the debate tonight called for how the process went from day one to the present time. The honourable member from Musquodoboit mentioned that November 1994 was the beginning of the process. That is accurate. I would refer to the Atlantic Tire Committee that was looking for an Atlantic solution to the proliferation of used and waste tires across the Atlantic Provinces. That was the motive, if you will, Madam Speaker, to look at how to handle those used tires and how to turn them into a value added product at the end of the day. Also, when I go through this whole list - I will not read it, but I will refer to various parts here - there was reference made by the member from Musquodoboit that there had been a ban on incineration of used tires in Nova Scotia, but he wants to celebrate and make the point that we have changed the rules and allowed the successful proponent to ship tires out of the province for burning elsewhere.

Madam Speaker, that is not accurate in its entirety. (Interruption) No, it is not accurate. We do not burn tires in Nova Scotia for what we believe to be the right reasons. When we called for expressions of interest - both the Atlantic Accord and the individual provinces called for expressions of interest - we made it clear that we were looking for 100 per cent value added at the end of the day in tires. Everybody who did apply or respond, applied with that in mind, knowing full well that we wanted to capitalize on value added to 100 per cent of our waste tire stream. (Interruption)

If I might just back up and not follow the rabbit tracks that are being prepared by the rabbits on the other side, using the criteria and the call for expressions of interest, the Atlantic Tire Committee selected seven submissions for further consideration. That is from a total of some 54, maybe 55, respondents. Each proposer was asked to develop a detailed proposal. Madam Speaker, in April 1995, regulations respecting air quality were approved. Reference was made to open burning of designated materials such as rubber tires.

[Page 2824]

"In June 1995, the short-listed proponents met with the Atlantic Tire Committee. The purpose of this meeting was to clarify detailed points in the proposal prior to the committee selecting a final candidate. In August 1995, the Atlantic Tire Committee selected two . . .", as brought forward by the member from Musquodoboit. They selected two ". . . of the proponents on the short list. These were Atlantic Rubber Recycling . . .", per Steve Benison, ". . . and Tire Recycling Atlantic Canada Corp. . . .", per Doug Vicars. "Following this, New Brunswick and Newfoundland decided to go their own way. Prince Edward Island indicated that they would go with whichever suited their needs best. The Atlantic Tire Committee disbanded . . .", Madam Speaker, thereafter as a result of the independence of these provinces. Therefore the existing process stopped. In the terms of reference of that existing process for the Atlantic solution was the transportation of tires out of the province and the burning of tires in different provinces.

The transportation was a ticklish issue as I recall, Madam Speaker, because we have some trade agreements in the Atlantic Provinces as we do across Canada, and that would certainly not be in the best interests and the proper spirit to ban the shipping of tires from one province to another.

Following this, Madam Speaker, I want to say that "In November, 1995, NSDOE released the Solid Waste-Resource Management Strategy. This strategy established the Resource Recovery Fund Board as the lead negotiator for creating value-added manufacturing in Nova Scotia. As a consequence, the RRF Board assumed the lead in selecting a tire reprocessor. Members of the RRF Board met with Atlantic Rubber Recycling at their request.". I am referring to November 1995.

[6:15 p.m.]

"The RRF Board was then free to call for a new expression of interest but elected instead to focus on the submissions received under the Atlantic Tire Committee process. This was done in consideration of the effort already put into the project by the various proponents.", and there were many, Madam Speaker. "In January, 1996, the RRF Board hired a private business consultant, Barry Alexander, to review all of the NS-based proposals generated from the Atlantic Tire Committee's request for proposals. During his review, Mr. Alexander independently examined credit ratings, personal references and business contacts. In March, 1996, Mr. Alexander recommended that the RRF Board should select TRACC for processing tires in NS.".

Madam Speaker, I want to make the point, March 1966, the independent consultant recommended to the Resource Recovery Fund Board, that TRACC . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: You mean 1996?

MR. ADAMS: I am sorry, March 1996.

[Page 2825]

AN HON. MEMBER: That was 30 years ago.

MR. ADAMS: Well, you know, sometimes when I had to catch up with some of these guys, it takes a while. Madam Speaker, the point to make is that the Resource Recovery Fund Board accepted the recommendation of that independent consultant and at the instructions of the Minister of the Environment, began the negotiating process.

Madam Speaker, I make that point and I want to repeat again, March 1996, not 1966, because early this week or last week, the allegations with regard to the meeting that I attended in July is purported and speculated to be the meeting that I influenced board members unduly to make the decision. I think it is clear now that that is not the fact.

AN HON. MEMBER: You better apologize to the committee.

MR. ADAMS: Madam Speaker, the nerve of somebody asking me to apologize to my committee. I will show you the telephone messages. Perhaps you will be impressed, from across this province as to what view and stand you take in terms of smearing a community that has been smeared for so many years through their representative, certainly called silliness. I don't think we can look at decades of people who have passed on who have experienced silliness called oppression and suppression and denial. Delay is the deadliest form of denial that we have ever experienced and these kind of delays perpetuate the denials that we cannot afford.

That is not to say that we have a chance. We are still hoping. I see in today's paper, the hope diminishes a little bit, Madam Speaker, because we see that a part of the province has suffered the effects of political interference of the worst kind. (Applause)

I want to make the point before I completely lose my voice that the accusations, I think, are befitting those who would be up to mischief. I want to give all the credit and credibility that I can to the body of people who come from the corporate community of Nova Scotia and sit down and have spent a lot of hours, Madam Speaker, to determine the ins and outs of this contract that we are hearing criticized. I think these people are very credible people, including this chairperson of the Resource Recovery Fund Board, who have put an awful lot of time and energy into making sure that Nova Scotians have moved from zero base in terms of the environment to almost a miraculous location within six months. We have done in this province, in six months, with a waste stream, what other provinces in Canada have not done in years and that is credibility that must be loaned to those members of the Resource Recovery Fund Board, not condemned as we have heard other members doing.

When you ask about the validity and the credibility of a person who is the named proponent of the contract that was signed with the Resource Recovery Fund Board, I think what that does, Madam Speaker, is call into question the integrity of those people around the table who, in their wisdom, saw nothing wrong with the validity or the credibility of that deal.

[Page 2826]

I want to tell you that, with reference to being asked about stockpiled tires in New Brunswick, I have no responsibility in the Province of New Brunswick. But I will tell the members opposite and to everybody, that the Minister of the Environment in the Province of New Brunswick and some of his colleagues have certainly let me know they have signed what they feel to be a very good deal in terms of tire recycling, as they move along, clean up the environment and providing jobs for Nova Scotians.

Madam Speaker, it is disappointing to realize that members opposite would condemn opportunities for jobs for Nova Scotians while, at the same time, protecting our environmental health. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to rise and speak for a few minutes this evening in the time that I have available on the resolution before us.

Madam Speaker, there are a number of points, I guess, a number of aspects that I would like to deal with. First of all, let me say that I agree wholeheartedly with the minister on a few points. I certainly agree on the need for us to have an aggressive recycling program in the Province of Nova Scotia. I couldn't agree more. In fact, if the minister were to check the record, he will know that I would be totally hypocritical if I were to stand in my place and try to argue against such a program. In fact, what people have tended to call and to throw away as waste is really not a waste at all, it is a destruction of a raw material that can be reconfigured, restructured, remanufactured and, in most cases, turned into a valuable product. So certainly it does not make sense for us to be involved in the destruction of products but, rather, we should be converting them into other valuable products which will, as the minister does suggest, create employment.

Madam Speaker, I was not opposed to, in fact I was supportive of measures that were introduced when there were amendments being made, regulations respecting air quality. I listened to the minister's speech and I thought that it was following very closely, very nicely the information on the selection process for scrap tire processing in Nova Scotia that was provided by the minister's department.

Madam Speaker, as I said a moment ago, I supported the amendments and the regulations that were going to bring an end to open burning of certain designated materials, like tires. We do know that burning tires is throwing pollutants into the atmosphere and those pollutants have the potential to create very serious health risks. So I was very much in support of the ending of that open burning and the pollution that goes along with it. In fact we have gone so far and tried to persuade his predecessors to ban the construction and development of any new incinerators in the Province of Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, the government was not prepared to go that far.

[Page 2827]

One of the points I want to make here, Madam Speaker, and one of the major difficulties I have with the contract that the minister is going to be approving ties in very neatly with the regulations that were passed. I know that you cannot call a government or a person a hypocrite in this House because that would be unparliamentary but you can ask a question as to whether or not there is something hypocritical about that which they are doing and that which they are approving.

Now I tend to be of the view, and I think that most people are who have their eyes open at all, they know that we not only live in a global economy but we live in a global environment and that the pollutants created in one area have a tendency to drift. We are upstream, we are upwind of the United States. Those pollutants that are put into the atmosphere south of the border, those pollutants are falling on our heads. They are polluting our rivers, our lakes, our streams. Kejimkujik is a good example and many of the lakes and stone around here which have been acidified because of the pollutants, Madam Speaker, is good evidence of that.

Here the government, after the expression of interest for scrap tire management in Atlantic Canada, the expression of interest that was put out said quite clearly on Page 3 that in Nova Scotia there is a ban on the incineration of tires for energy recovery and the export of tires for incineration for energy recovery. Now that, I believe, is not totally correct in that we do not have a ban on tire exports, by regulation, for incineration but we do definitely have a ban on import for incineration or burning and we also very definitely have a ban now on the burning of those tires in this province, for energy or any other reason.

The minister said we don't do that, in his remarks a few minutes ago, and he said for what we believe are very good reasons. I threw what I hoped was a helpful heckle across the way in anticipation of what I was going to be saying here tonight and I wanted to know, what are those reasons? The reasons, the minister would have to come back I am sure and say, are because of environmental concerns.

We know that the open burning of tires and the incineration of tires is not only wasteful but it has the potential to be very harmful to the environment. We are putting more chemicals, more of these - being a technical person - I call them "the baddies" into the atmosphere.

Here we have an agreement that is being entered into, yes, by the Resource Recovery Fund but, let's face it, the contract has to be approved by the minister and his department. The government is saying, you can't burn them here, but if 30 per cent of our tires happen to be shipped out somewhere else and burned, that is okay, you can burn them south of the border but you can't burn them here. The air pollutants and the harm that can be created here we won't tolerate but if you take our tires and you ship them somewhere else and you burn them, well if that is falling more directly on somebody else's head, we won't worry about it.

[Page 2828]

The minister across the way says to be helpful to me, the wind will blow it. He is right, the wind will blow it, and where will it blow it? Back on our heads. The minister understands that, so why would you permit a contract that will allow those tires to be exported to be burned, creating pollution anywhere? If the government is truly committed and opposed to incineration, to the open burning or that kind of destruction of tires here, we should not permit those tires to be exported for that use anywhere. Let's handle them at home, let's treat our resources here ourselves, let's require that those tires be handled in an appropriate fashion here, which is not going to be harming the environment, that is going to be creating jobs here in Nova Scotia.

I can't help but say - and hoping I am going to word this in such a way that I am not being unparliamentary by using that "h" word, Madam Speaker - I can't help but feel that what the government is doing is extremely hypocritical.

AN HON. MEMBER: Name him.

MR. HOLM: The minister over there doesn't know who he is he wants me to name him. He is the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, but I can't refer to him by name.

I would like the minister to explain why it is an expression of interest that went out, how it happens that those companies that are bidding in accordance with the terms that were given to them, how it is that those terms can end up being changed after the request for proposals was made? That is like saying we are going to put out a tender for this, that, or any other item and we will then let people put in their submissions and then after the fact we will change the rules to make our conditions meet whatever it is that whoever we are going to select wants.

AN HON. MEMBER: They're famous for that, it's like the House rules.

MR. HOLM: That is sort of like the House rules in here, yes. You bend the rules to make them fit the circumstances that you want. It is sort of like the Sears hammer, from the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, we don't like the way things are going, so we will get a hammer and we will pound down that Opposition.

Here expressions or proposals were sent out and the minister says that he saw nothing wrong with changing those rules that were laid out, and to allow those tires to be exported from this province so that they can be burned somewhere else, creating pollution problems elsewhere, simply because it isn't being main-framed or main-sourced here. I suggest that those approaches be reconsidered.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order please. The time allotted to the Adjournment debate has expired.

[Page 2829]



Res. No. 921, re Rules of the House (Amendment - Extended Sitting Hours) - notice given Nov. 29/96 - (Hon. R. Mann) [Debate resumed.]

MADAM SPEAKER: The debate had been adjourned by the honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, I am delighted to be able to continue where I left off. In case these people across the way have forgotten what we were speaking about, we were speaking about the rule of order, the thing that makes democracy work, the thing that makes Parliaments work. We were talking about how this group opposite has destroyed that system that creates a playing field that everybody has a fair shot at.

[6:30 p.m.]

We are presently debating a resolution that is wrong. That resolution should have never come before this Assembly. The only way that kind of a resolution should come before this Assembly is on the occasion when the Committee on Assembly Matters has met, discussed what kind of a rule change they wish to make, reached some kind of a consensus, had that committee report to the House and then the House Leader can get up (Interruption) If the Minister of Community Services has nothing better to do, I would suggest he go home.

Mr. Speaker, in that way, that resolution would be perfectly proper, but the way it has been brought forward is not correct because it did not emanate from the Committee on Assembly Matters. Secondly, we are informed in our own Rule Book that a two-thirds majority of the members present are necessary to make a change to the rules. That is Rule 85.

The minister, in introducing this motion, is just tyrannical, it is simply wrong. If that is not wrong enough, he has compounded it by rising and introducing that motion that will change the rules of the House and then invoke the previous question. The previous question is kind of a misnomer in reality, but whoever first invented it, I believe it comes from the House of Commons in the United Kingdom originally, and came to Canada to the House of Commons and then trickled down to this House. (Interruption) The Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is talking about wearing a funny hat. Well, maybe that minister is amused, he is busting his gut over there and it is a big gut to bust. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 2830]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I apologize. I should not have called it a big gut, I should have called it an enormous gut and he has lots of guts, certainly, to bring in some of the legislation that he has brought in today. (Interruption)

The previous question, as I said, is a parliamentary procedure that has trickled down to this province and the first person to talk about the previous question (Interruption) because a gentleman by the name of Mr. Bourinot, back in 1916 wrote a book called, Rules of Order (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, no, I won't get led astray. Mr. Bourinot came out in 1916, actually he came out before that, but the first set of rules from Bourinot that we adopted, this is before the days of Beauchesne, came out and he was the Law Clerk of the House of Commons. He came out with a Canadian manual on procedure and in that he describes the previous question as being a parliamentary device to achieve certain things. One of the things that it achieves, Mr. Speaker, as you well know, I am sure, is that when that particular motion is moved and it is agreed to by the House, then there can be no further amendments on that particular resolution or bill or whatever it is that is being debated in the House. That is the rule.

HON. RICHARD MANN: A question, Mr. Speaker. Maybe then in other jurisdictions in Canada, including the House of Commons, that motion would preclude further debate not further amendments but further debate?

MR. RUSSELL: Well, actually you see it is great to have the House Leader get up and pontificate on the rules because he doesn't know what he is talking about. In the House of Commons they don't move the previous question anymore, it is gone. What they do in the House of Commons is move a limit on debate. The minister will come into the House, Mr. Speaker, and will say, Bill C-341 will come up for debate on Monday, August 13th, and will be debated until Friday, August 17th. It is a time limit debate but they do not use the previous question. The previous question is archaic. However, we still have it within this House. (Interruption) Have you got another question? Well I hope you are taking good notes over there because you can pass them on to others who don't understand what they are doing either.

So we have the previous question which, as I say, can be moved in this House. It has been done before but it is moved during debate. Now we had a Speaker here, Mr. Speaker, who just preceded you, who decided that that wasn't right, that wasn't so. He said, and he gave carte blanche to the same House Leader, that he could move the previous question at the same time as he moved the actual resolution.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you questioning a ruling?

[Page 2831]

MR. RUSSELL: I am questioning a previous Speaker's ruling.

AN HON. MEMBER: Weren't you a previous Speaker?

MR. RUSSELL: I wish the Minister of Community Services would go down and talk to some of the poor people because obviously he grew up in a log cabin on bread and water and it would be fitting that he take off now and go down and talk to those people and perhaps try and do something for them and leave the Rules of the House to those who know what they are talking about.

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that precedent that we seem to be following is wrong. I know that I cannot debate that at the present time because we cannot move that something is incorrect when the Speaker has accepted it. However, I would suggest to you that at some time at your leisure you study the previous question. (Interruption) I am what? Patronizing? I am not patronizing, not at all. I am just simply saying that the most important thing in this House is that we have a set of rules that we know what they are and everybody abides by them and it is a level playing field for both the government and the Opposition and, if you can't play by the rules, you don't belong here and you should get out.

It is obvious to me, Mr. Speaker, when this government says they go out and talk to the people and consult, why they don't learn anything. Because they don't listen. All they want to do is chit-chat and make snide remarks but not listen and not learn. I would think that this motion we have before us is a learning experience for all of us because it shows to what desperate straits this government has been reduced to try and sustain themselves in this House.

If they are so confident, if they are so sure that this is such a great thing, I am astounded that the Premier is not trotting off down there and issuing the writ and going out and winning an election with a colossal majority. He can come back and say, look at me. I did everything right and the people acknowledged that and they have returned my government to power. Why does he not do that if he thinks he is so right? Why does he have to use all these tricks? Why does he have to subvert the rules? Why does he have to go and hide? Why?

I will tell you why. It is because this government in three short years - they have only been in power for 36 months, Mr. Speaker - have grown so arrogant that they are ignoring the people. They are ignoring the opinions that are coming to them. I am sure that every member here has received from their constituents calls, letters, maybe knocks on the door, telling them how much their constituents object to this tax. Don't let's kid ourselves. The only reason that we are debating this particular resolution is not because the House Leader figures that he wants to sit here all night, it is not because he wants to give the Opposition a longer day for more debates, it is done so that he can get that bill - that infamous bill - on the BS Tax across to Law Amendments.

[Page 2832]

When it gets to Law Amendments, as we have already been assured in the House today, they are not even going to permit those people who want to appear in Law Amendments to pass on their views on this tax. They are going to not only gag the House but they are going to gag the Law Amendments Committee. That is not fair and that is not what this government said when they came into power in 1993. They were going to be an open government. They were going to be a transparent government. There was going to be freedom in the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: We are giving you all the hours you want.

MR. RUSSELL: Oh, yeah? Well, the dreamer from East Hants, Mr. Speaker, the member for Hants East (Interruptions) Bingo Bob. No, that is not fair. He is not really Bingo Bob. Anyway, the member for Hants East says that the object of this game is to provide more time for the Opposition. Oh, yeah? Well, in that case, I wonder if the member for Hants East would perhaps introduce a motion which would rescind the resolution that we passed, brought to the floor by the same House Leader, that restricted debate in the Committee of the Whole House to 20 hours?

I am talking about what this resolution is. It is keyed towards a bill. This man is the caucus chairman and he does not even realize what this resolution is supposed to be doing. This resolution is here for one purpose, my friend, my colleague. In spite of what the backbenchers - you fellows over here and you fellows at the back over there - think about it, they are going to ram this thing through, and you are the people who are going to suffer in the next election.

I want you to picture this House sometime early next year or late next year or early 1998, and certainly it will be a new House. It will be like a breath of fresh air coming into the place and cleaning out all of the cobwebs and cleaning out all these rules that have been made up as they go along. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, as I say, I think the motion is out of order but we are debating it, so we have accepted it as being debatable. The previous motion has been accepted, which is wrong. I am wondering now what is going to happen next April, assuming that this government has not gone to the polls and we come back here in April and we open the House around about April 10th or something, and people are saying, my gosh my gas bills are up. My hydro bills are up; my oil bills are up; I am paying more for this and more for that and I am going broke. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this Government House Leader, if he is still the House Leader, is going to come in and say I have an idea, we are wasting time in Question Period. The Opposition is asking asinine questions and we just haven't got the answers so I am going to move a resolution that we will have Question Period one day a month, if we are lucky. Do you know what, Mr. Speaker, he will get up with a resolution which will cut Question Period to one day a month and he will say you can't amend it, I am going to have the hammer, I am going to have the previous question. I wouldn't be surprised at anything that that Government House Leader would do.

[Page 2833]

[6:45 p.m.]

If there is one thing that is sure when the House does eventually finish up and we get the writ issued et cetera is that certainly, we will have a different House Leader, that is one thing we can be assured of and we will also have different ministers. Now I notice that the Minister of Business and Consumer Services is back. Now, there is a title, Business and Consumer Services. I asked her the other day what she did and she said, I do everything, that is the answer I got. This is the minister who was spouting off to the press the other day and saying, you know I am going to encourage everybody to wait until next Christmas to buy their Christmas presents, not Christmas 1996 but wait until Christmas 1997 to buy your Christmas presents. Imagine the poor kid going to his sock and opening it up on Christmas Day and there's an IOU in there for Christmas 1997. Talk about the Grinch that Stole Christmas, holy mackerel. Even then it is based on a false premise. You would have to believe in the tooth fairy or the Easter Bunny, you really would, to believe that things are going to get cheaper.

Everybody in this House has lived a fair number of years, maybe not as many as some but they have all lived a fair number of years. Can you remember back to when you were a kid and you have kids of your own right now and you go and buy that same thing for them, is it any less today? Things don't go down in price, they go up in price. The biggest accelerator of price increases is taxes.

The thing that really worries me about this government and I am sure it must worry some of those over there that have a brain to worry with (Interruption) well there is only one of you and it's not you. I think that they must go to bed at night, the one with the brain must go to bed at night and he must say what on earth have I got myself into with this bunch of crackpots who think that by increasing taxes we are going to create jobs and we are going to create prosperity. Which one of them over there thinks that they are aiding the democratic process by putting a gag on the members of this House? There must be one of them. (Interruption) Yes I am talking right now but if the Government House Leader has his way it is going to be, take a number and if you get the lucky number for the day you can speak for an hour. I shouldn't be giving all of these ideas to those on the other side that are, shall we say, unbalanced and just might go ahead with them.

I am going to vote against this resolution. I suppose nobody is surprised about that. I am going to vote against this resolution because I think that, first of all, the resolution is improperly framed. I would like to ask the members seriously, if you read in one of our rule books the way things should be done, even if you are going to change the rules, surely to goodness you are going to do it in accordance with the rules. That to me makes perfect common sense. I know that particular trait is somewhat lacking on the other side, but surely to goodness they have a glimmer of sense there somewhere that says, not only must we abide by certain rules but we must also be fair, or at least be seen to be fair. I do not think they are

[Page 2834]

and I think the people of Nova Scotia recognize that. They recognize what this government is and, as I say, they are going to pay dearly for it when they get to the polls.

Mr. Speaker, I have been a member of the Committee on Assembly Matters ever since I have been in the House. I got there by luck the first time. Simply because I was Speaker I happened to be on that committee as chairman when I first came here. I think maybe the present Minister of Finance was a member of that first rules committee in 1978. One of the first things that we decided was that we would not change the rules just for the sake of changing the rules; we would change the rules because we could make this a better place. We would change the rules to provide a better arena for people to make their point and we would do it not by exercising the majority that the government had on that committee but we would do it by consensus. We would not come back to the House with a rule change until we had that consensus. Sometimes that took a long period of time.

I can remember when we were talking about cameras in the House, cameras in the Legislature. (Interruptions) That is not correct, Mr. Speaker. You see, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency makes a statement like that and the other people here who hear that believe that. In point of fact, you asked that minister some specific questions. It was not the cameras in the Legislature itself, it was the ability of the media to bring their television cameras into the galleries. I was not in favour of that, I admit that. As far as the televising of affairs in the House, I was in favour of it. I was not in favour of having cameras in the galleries for some very definite reasons that I thought were important. However, the committee thought otherwise and it was changed. (Interruption) I beg your pardon. Mr. Speaker, I was not even Speaker at that time, I will have you know. I was Speaker at the time of the implementation of these cameras.

AN HON. MEMBER: Arthur Donahoe was the Chairman, smartie pants. (Interruption)

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, at the end, because I remember allocating funds.

Getting into an argument of such a nature is of no benefit to what we are doing. What I am saying is that we are not operating at the present time to any rules. I think it behoves all of us in this House to make sure that we have some rules, be they what they may, but let's agree on a set of rules and let us not have some character coming in here and just offhandedly for the set purpose of the government only changing the rules. Not only changing the rules, but changing the rules illegally, and that is exactly what is happening.

We are not alone in having difficulties with rules in the Legislature. Every Legislature across Canada has run into difficulties, either sooner or later, with the rules that they have.

I don't know of any other Legislature in Canada which has changed their rules arbitrarily in the fashion that we are doing it tonight and we did it whenever it was in the spring, and we have done it on a couple of other occasions since the present government took

[Page 2835]

office. I don't know of any other Legislature where that is done or where it would even be accepted by the government as being a way of achieving their end.

AN HON. MEMBER: Maybe under Duplessis in Quebec.

MR. RUSSELL: Under Mr. Duplessis, well, that was possible, I guess, but, however, I am not aware of that, but I know that in attending Speaker's conferences where these matters are discussed, you rapidly come to the conclusion that the House is the property of the incumbent members and those incumbent members, among them, set the rules of the Legislature. They are not set by government.

So, Mr. Speaker, I don't know what else I can say on this. (Interruption) I have 15 minutes to say it. Okay, well, in that case. I could go back, I suppose, and start talking about the Premier. I must confess that it seems that whenever we have something like this going on in the House that the Premier, unfortunately, has other matters that he has to attend to and does not listen to what is going on in the House . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Where's your Leader?

MR. RUSSELL: Our Leader will be back over here very shortly. He was here at the beginning of the debate and he will be here at the end of the debate. (Interruptions)

I would love to have heard the Premier get up and defend this particular resolution. (Interruption) Oh, I am sure we will. I have never seen the Premier, as yet, take part in any debate. (Interruption) I cannot recall and, certainly, I have never seen the Premier take part in any debate in the House where there has been a matter of such substance as this take place. Because, Mr. Speaker, what we are doing tonight is going to stay with this House unless somebody changes it. Two hundred years from now, this particular routine, this particular make-shift rule that the Government House Leader has invented, will still be on the order books. Now, I presume he is going to have the decency to include this in the order book on Rules and Procedures of the House, eventually, because he, by precedents - don't tell me about precedents. If we are going to take precedents as being the guiding light of this House, then we are going to have some pretty screwy rulings, I can tell you.

There was a Speaker in this House who lasted for one week and that Speaker was duly elected and assumed the Chair. At the end of the week, he had made so many rulings that were adverse to the Opposition - it wasn't the Opposition in those days, it was the majority and the minority - that the combined House threw him out. They got rid of him. His name was . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . won by one vote.

[Page 2836]

MR. RUSSELL: All you need is one vote and you should know that. (Interruption) Anyway, I am telling you that precedents should not be the be-all and the end-all of rules of the House because Speakers do make mistakes. All Speakers make mistakes and make bad rulings and because a previous Speaker has made a bad ruling, it should not be justification in continuing that on in perpetuity so that, as I say, in the year 2050, in our rule book we have a bunch of rules which have been arrived at because of the mistakes of previous Speakers. I don't believe that is the way we should be going. Certainly, precedents to some extent create rules, but, however, when those rules are in the book, I would suggest that if they get there via an all-Party committee on the rules, well then we will throw out those precedents and not adopt them as being rules of the House.

[7:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to go any further. I think I have had my say and I think that if people haven't gotten my point as yet, then it is . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you adjourning?

MR. RUSSELL: Pardon? Yes, there is no purpose in going any further.

So, Mr. Speaker, it has been a long day and I would move now that we adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: The House will recess for five minutes.

[7:03 p.m. The House recessed.]

[7:08 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: The request of the honourable member for Hants West, who adjourned the debate on this resolution, is not in order because the same question was addressed earlier today in the House. Beauchesne, Page 172, Paragraph 558, "That a question being once made and carried in the affirmative or negative, cannot be questioned again but must stand as the judgment of the House.".

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I raise this and I was very careful when I rose to say that I am rising because I really want to seek some clarification. In our Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House it supports what you are saying in that it says, "A motion to adjourn shall always be in order, but no second motion to the same effect shall be made until after some intermediate proceedings have been had.".

[Page 2837]

The reason why I raise this is that, at the hour of six o'clock when the House rose, we had the debate that took place in accordance with the Rules of the House, we had the debate on tire recycling and then the House came back in. Mr. Speaker, I am seeking clarification, if it is your view and your ruling that the business that was done between 6:00 p.m and 6:30 p.m. does not count for some intermediate proceedings. It doesn't say government business, it simply says intermediate proceedings and I would suggest that the debate that occurred, the rising and then the reconvening of the House would, indeed, fit within the definition of an intermediate proceeding.

MR. SPEAKER: It is not a point of order.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on this extended sitting hours resolution and I have to be very honest, I find the resolution most offensive, very distasteful, undemocratic, obnoxious and repugnant. (Interruption)

Let's just have a look at this resolution.

"Rules and Forms of Procedure of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.

1. The Rules and Forms of Procedure of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly are amended by adding immediately after Rule 5B the following Rule:"

This is a dictatorial ruling, yes, it is autocratic.

"5C(1) Notwithstanding Rule 3, 4, 5A and 5B, the time for the meeting of the House, the time for the adjournment of the House and the maximum number of hours the House may sit during a day may be determined by the House by majority vote on the motion of the Government House Leader or the Leader's substitute.".

The Government House Leader had the audacity to state, notwithstanding Rules 3, 4, 5A and 5B. Did the Government House Leader look at those rules? Did he look at those rules, because what he is doing is he is circumventing those rules and then he has the audacity to state, notwithstanding those very rules. He would have been better off not to mention it at all. He goes on further to say that "No notice of motion is required for a motion pursuant to paragraph (1) and the question shall be put forthwith by the Speaker without amendment or debate.". Now that is what we are talking about.

We know what is behind this resolution. Everybody in this House knows what is behind this resolution and I will state and I will defy and ask anybody, any member in this House to stand up and tell me if I am wrong. Every Member of the Legislative Assembly in here

[Page 2838]

receives calls from constituents who are opposed to the BS Tax. (Interruption) Every MLA, you did not receive any? The previous speaker - well, do you have a listed telephone number?

I still state that every member has received calls. In 1993, this government, the Savage Liberal Government came to office on the promise, the major platform plank was, we will create jobs, jobs, jobs. In fact, Mr. Savage went so far on the First Edition program to state, I will not raise taxes and at that time he was being interviewed, I think the anchor was Jim Nunn. Jim Nunn said, I beg your pardon Mr. Leader of the Opposition, will you repeat that and he said, I will not raise taxes. What has this government done? They are introducing a new tax that will forever change the taxing landscape in this province.

Did the member for Lunenburg West go to his constituents and say, the economic salvation of this province is going to be taxes. Did the member do that? No, he did not go to his constituents and say that, no. Did he go to his constituents and say, casinos, toll roads and the BS Tax, did all the MLAs say look, we went and talked to the member for Richmond and the Government House Leader, you have to come in with a resolution that will somehow suppress democracy. You have to work up. The Opposition is hitting us too hard. They have some favourable press, they are raising concerns on behalf of their constituents.

[7:15 p.m.]

They went to the member, not that he needed any urging, not that he needed a whole lot of encouragement, but they went to the MLA for Richmond and said, look, we cannot take it anymore. How about working up something that is going to further suppress democracy. Well, let's look back a little further. We know there was a change in the Speaker's Chair since the last session - speaking about somebody having a propensity to suppress democracy - and we know that changes were made. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, today in Question Period the Opposition had some very credible questions. We directed question after question to the Premier, question after question to the Attorney General, as to whether or not people would be given an opportunity. All we were asking, just to paraphrase a question that was asked in Question Period, if 1,000 Nova Scotians, for example, request to make presentations at the Law Amendments Committee, will this government allow them to? Will this government simply allow them to, should you receive 1,000 requests to make a presentation? Let's put it in that context because we got a bunch of gobbledegook, that they would do this, they would do that. Never did they answer the question directly. Never.

Now, let's get back to the resolution, Mr. Speaker. (Applause) We are not just changing the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly by bringing in this resolution. We are not just changing the rules for this one bill - the BS Tax - this has the potential to forever impact any legislation that this government wants to ramrod down the throats of Nova Scotians. That is what we are doing.

[Page 2839]

What is the emergency? What is the urgency? (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, they are talking about the BS Tax. Did I ask for this resolution? I never asked for this resolution. (Interruptions)

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

MR. TAYLOR: I would humbly and respectfully ask the Government House Leader if I could read this note he passed me. (Interruptions) No? I won't do it but I know what your favourite song is now.

Mr. Speaker, rules in the past have been put in place by the agreement of all Parties. I am not going to suggest for one moment that the rules, from time to time, do not need to be amended, do not need to be changed, but if they are going to be amended and are going to be changed, they should be changed for the better and with the consent of the three Parties. The question has to be asked. Now the member for Eastern Shore, I think, would ask this question, but because of political lines perhaps he is not permitted to ask this question. Maybe he would like to ask this question in Question Period.

Did the Government House Leader go to the House Leaders of the Third Party and the Official Opposition and ask them if they would participate in the Committee on Assembly Matters relative to this change? Did he go and ask them first before he brought in the hammer? No, he did not. (Interruptions) We did not fire the first volley. No, we did not fire the first volley. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, we came down to the legislative session in a spirit of co-operation. We were working with the government and the Government House Leader told us - and the scuttlebutt was - that if you are all good little boys and girls, we will be able to go home early for Christmas - maybe a three week session. I think what happened was the big man in Ottawa picked up the phone and Jean said, I think maybe it is time for you to bring in your BS Tax (Interruptions)

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable members, I am going to call the House to order now. The miming is very intriguing, but it is not relevant to the resolution you are trying to debate. I am going to call the House to order and I will recognize you one more time.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has the floor.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I know on resolutions we do have a fair amount of leeway and a little bit of latitude but you know you would never see a resolution like this come out over in Prince Edward Island and I am speaking about previous governments on Prince Edward Island. Do you know what Prince Edward Island . . .

[Page 2840]

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member I will pull you back again to relevance now in this debate.

MR. TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, we are on a resolution now but this is very relevant. You know as well as I know and every member in this House knows why the Government House Leader came forward with the hammer. Everybody in the House knows why the member for Cape Breton brought forward the big hammer.

Let's talk about what instigated and incited the member for Richmond to bring forward the resolution. What I would suggest is that the member wanted to extend the hours, I don't think anybody would question that. He is telling us though that we fired the first shot, that the Opposition said that they were going to do this and they were going to do that. Now that is what they told us but what we are saying is we have an obligation and a responsibility as Opposition members to hold this government accountable, to hold this government responsible.

Tomorrow we hope to table a tape from a hotline program that discussed the resolution and discussed the BS Tax. Between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. this morning, caller after caller from the 18 metro constituencies, constituents from Hants East phoned in. I just ask some of the government members to listen to that tape when we table it, listen to some of the stories. The most often cited reason against the BS Tax and this resolution is the fact that the consumer would end up paying more taxes and in particular low income families will suffer disproportionately.

So should we just be quiet and crawl in underneath the carpet? The Government House Leader said that this session was going to be a housekeeping session but guess what, the Opposition decided to lift up the carpet a little bit to see what they are sweeping under the carpet. We are finding out all kinds of things so it is not just a housekeeping session. What we are saying is if this government wasn't hearing from its constituents, if it wasn't hearing from Prime Minister Jean Chretien, would we have this resolution? Didn't the federal government just introduce their legislation? Yes, they did.

This resolution will provide the government an opportunity to extend the hours but the question is, is the government choosing to do this because the media may be a little bit wary? The media outlets and personnel have other commitments and obligations the same as the rest of us. Was this one of the minister's devious objectives? I would suggest that I can probably stay awake and keep my eyes open as long as the Government House Leader and the Premier, I think I could do that but the fact is we are coming in with a resolution that basically changes rules and practices that have taken place in this House for a good many years. Again, the question of whether the presenters will be able to make their presentations at the Law Amendments Committee becomes ever more important.

[Page 2841]

The minister, when he spoke about the resolution today, moved that the question be put and the Speaker ruled, when we rose on points of privilege, I believe.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you going to move it now?

MR. TAYLOR: No. I am certainly not going to move it now. I will not call for the question. Nonetheless, Madam Speaker, the Speaker rules that a precedent had been set by a previous Speaker and, I believe, at that time, the same Government House Leader brought in a resolution relative to invoking closure in this House where, again, the Opposition's ability to bring forward valid concerns on behalf of their constituents and everybody's constituents across the province - they brought in closure to stifle debate and democracy - again, was suppressed.

So, many questions have to be asked. Is this government afraid of hearing something that they do not want to hear? Why won't this government listen to everyday Nova Scotians who have very serious concerns about this resolution? Madam Speaker, we talk about precedent and the previous speakers talked about precedent, but did you know, that in 1969, at 1:45 p.m., the Honourable Gerald Regan began his 15 hour filibuster in the Nova Scotia Legislature, on April 2, 1969. He finished up at 4:45 a.m. on April 3rd. Now that is what the Honourable Gerald Regan did. We are talking about precedent. It took place during Committee of the Whole House on Bills and centered on two pieces of legislation, the Gasoline and Diesel Oil Tax and the Hospital Tax Act.

Does anybody in this House suggest that is the way business should be carried on down at the Legislature when we are here to represent the views and the concerns of Nova Scotians as lawmakers and as legislators? Is this what this House has come to? It is a good job the National Transportation Safety Code is not being invoked in this place. It limits the number of hours - just for the honourable Minister of Community Services - you can work, Madam Speaker. You have to have the ability to think and you have to have the ability to make decisions. These decisions are very important.

You might also consider that the Liberal caucus, when they filibustered the privatization of the Power Corporation bill in the spring of 1992, tied up the Legislature for three and one- half weeks. Many of the members opposite were in Opposition, but they had the opportunity to express their views. (Interruption)

You never expressed your views. So you see, Madam Speaker, now we have a resolution. Our Opposition House Leader, the honourable member for Kings West, rose on a point of privilege today. (Interruption)

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 2842]

MR. TAYLOR: On November 18th, Madam Speaker, the Speaker of the House requested that ". . . it has now become my duty in the name of the representatives of Her Majesty's loyal subjects, the people of this province, respectfully to demand all their custom rights and privileges, and that they shall have freedom of speech in their debates . . .". This resolution will forever stifle it. (Interruptions)

Some of these members, Madam Speaker, should listen to what their constituents are saying. The BS Tax is nothing more than a flagrant attempt by our present government to fulfil an election promise. That is what this resolution is all about. The big guy picked the phone up . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, if you are referring to either a member of this House or a member of the House of Commons, then do it appropriately, please.

[7:30 p.m.]

MR. TAYLOR: The Prime Minister, Madam Speaker.

So now we are finding out the truth. You see, it is very important that we establish the facts here in this House of Assembly. The fact is that this government had no intention of coming forward with the BS Tax legislation until April, until it would coincide with the federal legislation, but the Prime Minister said that he was going to table his legislation this week and the Government of Nova Scotia and probably New Brunswick and Newfoundland had better get their act together, too, and table their legislation.

So the Government House Leader, I am sure at the encouragement of many members in this government, said well look, we know there is a lot of opposition out there to the BS Tax. People are concerned that electricity is going to go up, gasoline is going to go up, footwear is going to go up, the price of water is going to go up, clothing is going to go up. (Interruptions) Madam Speaker, if you would permit me, I could explain in about five minutes how the price of water is going to go up.

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, I don't think I will permit you. I would like you to be relevant in your debate on the resolution.

MR. TAYLOR: I am pleased that I asked you, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: I am pleased that you did, too.

MR. TAYLOR: Now the Liberal platform said that Liberal Government initiatives will be built on a foundation of honesty, openness, integrity and accountability that will permeate all government dealings under John Savage. Again, when we are going to extend the hours in this House we are also limiting the ability of the Opposition to do their jobs to the fullest.

[Page 2843]

AN HON. MEMBER: You're the guys who don't want to work.

MR. TAYLOR; Well, the member for Cape Breton Nova says we don't want to work. Well, I don't think that is the case at all but I won't get sidetracked by the rabbit tracks, Madam Speaker. My question is, what is the hurry? Why speed the bill up? Most likely the BS Tax legislation would go through in two and one-half weeks in any event. In any event, the legislation would go through, so what is the urgency?

Do you see any openness or honesty or integrity or accountability in this resolution? Does anybody? Can anybody stand up and defend this resolution, where it is going to provide for honesty, where it is going to provide for openness? No. So I say once again that the Savage Government destroyed the foundation upon which they were elected. They were elected - these are their words, Madam Speaker - on honesty, openness, integrity and accountability. So once again you destroyed the foundation upon which you were elected. Absolutely no consultation.

When you ram rules through the House that are intended to limit debate in this House, or at the very least extend hours so debate will essentially be limited, the hours won't change, but we feel that it is very important that the BS Tax legislation be given a full airing, be given every opportunity to be examined, to be evaluated, to be assessed.

When members were sent to this Legislature, Madam Speaker, did they go to their constituency and state, look, we are going to suppress democracy, we are going to come in with a resolution down here today and we are going to extend the hours? We know that Opposition members from time to time will get a little weary, will get a little tired by their very numbers. We have a massive majority, what a great time to bring in a resolution. We have some 40 members. I believe one member has retired and another member, God bless him, is not feeling well but nonetheless the hammer was brought in. What a way to treat your constituents. You can't face the music so what you do, you try to turn the music off.

The resolution itself states that this government again, "Notwithstanding Rules 3, 4, 5A and 5B, . . ." (Interruption). Is that parliamentary, Madam Speaker?

MADAM SPEAKER: I am sorry but you have the floor. I am not taking into account comments that I didn't hear so would you like to carry on with your debate on the resolution?

MR. TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, resolutions from time to time and the passage of Resolution No. 921 will once again trample on the long-standing tradition of this Assembly which the Committee on Assembly Matters was formed to protect. I wonder if the Government House Leader would agree that the Committee on Assembly Matters was formed to protect the rules and the practices here in the House?

[Page 2844]

The Committee on Assembly Matters was established under Rule 12A to ". . . examine the rules, procedures, practices, organization and facilities of the House of Assembly . . .". Is not this resolution usurping the responsibility of the Committee on Assembly Matters? The Committee on Assembly Matters was established under Rule 12A to ". . . examine the rules, procedures . . ." and so on and it " . . . may recommend the provision of support services and facilities for the Members and such examination shall include, but not be limited to, the following matters: (a) the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly; and (b) such matters as are accepted for examination by the Committee upon the request of the House, a committee of the House, a member of the Committee or a member of the House.".

The absolute need for this referral to the committee is obvious from the hasty and poor drafting of the amendment of the Rules and Forms or Procedure of the House which are presented and contained in Resolution No. 921. Does the Government House Leader not have any faith whatsoever in the Committee on Assembly Matters? He doesn't have any faith in that committee?

All members will recognize Rule 5A(6) which provides that one of the duties of the Government House Leader is that, " . . . the Government House Leader shall advise members of the House with regard to the next sitting day in respect of (a) the order of business; (b) the hours of meeting; and (c) the time of adjournment.". Why again didn't the Government House Leader if he didn't have time to go talk to our House Leader and the Third Party House Leader, that is the normal process, he didn't have time, couldn't he surely have - did I see him over there with a phone or something, couldn't he have picked up the phone and said look, we have to meet, I want to extend the hours? (Interruptions) It was a stapler (Interruption) Rule 5A, the present rule provides the Government House Leader with the ability regarding the length of time that we sit in this House. All the Government House Leader had to do was talk - because we are here in a spirit of cooperation - to our House Leader, talk to the Third Party House Leader and say, I want to extend the hours. Why didn't he do that instead of coming in with the hammer? Why didn't he do that?

The new rule made by Resolution No. 921 does not indicate when the Government House Leader will make the announcement regarding House hours, it was poorly prepared. Does this rule mean that the Government House Leader may stand up a few minutes before the announced adjournment time on any given day and invoke this resolution? (Interruption) That is what it means.

I would like to move that the resolution be withdrawn, if given an opportunity, Madam Speaker. We know very well why the government brought in this resolution; Nova Scotians know why, too. They want to ramrod the BS Tax down the throats of Nova Scotians. What would happen if 1,000 Nova Scotians made a request to appear at the Law Amendments Committee? Will this government give them an opportunity? Well, nobody has answered the question. During Question Period, we try to raise questions on behalf of our constituents and

[Page 2845]

on behalf of constituents all across Nova Scotia, but it is really becoming just Question Period, because there are no answers; this government is intent on stifling debate.

Madam Speaker, I would be pleased to yield the floor to the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage to make an introduction.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage on an introduction.

MR. DENNIS RICHARDS: Madam Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for giving me this opportunity. Seated in our east gallery this evening is the Boy Scout Troop from the Latter Day Saints Church in Cole Harbour. There are 11 members of the troop here this evening, along with their leader, Steve Boyd. I would ask, through you, to all members of the House, to give them a very warm welcome as they come here tonight to listen to some of the debate on this particular resolution. (Applause)

MR. TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, I, too, would like to welcome the Boy Scout Troop.

Just before I close, again I put the question to this government, why did you promise Nova Scotians, before you were elected in May 1993, that your main objective would be creating jobs, jobs, jobs? Why did this government go and lead Nova Scotians down the garden path? That is what they did. What is the urgency? Did this government go and look at the new polls that came out not too long ago? Did this government look at the polls and say . . .


MR. TAYLOR: Oh my gosh, they did look at the polls and said, Premier Savage's popularity is only at 15 per cent, and the Opposition is receiving some pretty good reviews lately. They are speaking up on behalf of Nova Scotians, so we had better prepare a resolution that will suppress democracy and put that Opposition back down under the carpet that we are trying to house clean. But the Opposition said, oh, there is the BS Tax, oh, there is the tire tax, oh, there is this tax, but this government came to power saying, we were not going to raise taxes or introduce new taxes. There has been thirst tax, there has been tire tax, there has been this tax, there has been that tax, and this government does not want to listen to Nova Scotians any more, so they are going to stifle debate.

This resolution is a bad resolution. The member for Richmond, the Government House Leader and MLA for Richmond should take that hammer and put it back in his closet in this House that he is housekeeping and open the door and walk out on his front steps and face everyday Nova Scotians. Thank you.

[Page 2846]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: I rise to speak against Resolution No. 291 and I do it with some trepidation, given the kibitzing and carrying on, only because I wanted to talk seriously - I don't want to suggest that other members have not been making serious points, because I think they have - I want to try to construct an argument here and I want to do it in a way that makes it clear to you, Madam Speaker, what my point is.

HON. RICHARD MANN: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. There is a great deal of difficulty hearing the honourable member. I wonder if it would be possible to get her system turned up a little bit?

MADAM SPEAKER: Yes, thank you. We will make note of that and see what they can do in the control room.

MS. O'CONNELL: Madam Speaker, I am speaking against the resolution and I just want to get it clear here what it is that I am speaking against. It is my understanding that I am speaking against a resolution that is brought in by a government, with a large majority, that wants to use a majority vote to impose on the House a changing, alteration or suspension, whatever you want to call it, of the rules, by majority vote, and that this involves no notice to the members, allows for no amendment and allows for no debate.

[7:45 p.m.]

I just want to get it clear. I think what it means is that this government wants us to sit long hours, so it can pass a bill quickly while people are preoccupied with other things and when public input would be inconvenient for members of the public. That is my understanding. At this particular time of year, families and people all across, not just the province, but the country, become preoccupied with family obligations and family pleasures. They do what you might call, retreating into the purely personal. People make flight plans, people make travel plans, people must shop, people buy tickets to attend things and people who care about what goes on in this province, who deeply care about that may not, in fact, because of this resolution, find the moments they need, whether they are in the daytime or in the middle of the night, to come to their representatives and to speak their mind on a very important issue that affects every single person in this province.

Madam Speaker, I think that is undemocratic and I think that the undemocratic nature of it is somewhat unnerving to me, as a new member of this House. People have stood here and they have said things like, this has happened before, I know it has happened before and I have been given wads of paper to read that tell me that maybe this has happened before. Maybe the situation was a little bit different, maybe everybody on that side was sitting on this side and everybody on this side on that side. I cannot get my head around the notion that this is somehow gravely undemocratic.

[Page 2847]

I want to talk and I hope it is not out of order because I want to talk about democracy, as I understand it, as the newest member of this place. You can call me naive, you can call me whatever you want and you might, indeed do that, but I want to talk about my understanding of what this process is that we do here. I hope that it will be considered relevant to my opposition to the resolution because I think it is an undemocratic one.

For a number of years, like a lot of citizens or at least some citizens in this province, I was one of those people who wanted to participate in the democratic process, perhaps at closer range than lots of other people and so I sought to do that. I went out and sought election and the first three times failed to have success in this, but I think it indicates a desire to come to this place to participate and by participate, I mean represent the people who elected us to come here and I know that other members share this same desire. I cannot believe that they don't.

Now, I did some other things during those years and I want to talk for a few minutes about something else that I was involved in because, Madam Speaker, it does relate to the notion of democracy.

In 1992 a small group of people from Halifax organized and incorporated a society called the Association for Media Literacy in Nova Scotia. Now, Madam Speaker, that association came about because of a particular public issue that arose at the time that was a catalyst. But in the course of our reading and thinking and learning and holding public discussions on the subject of the role of the media in our culture and in the course of my years of teaching and incorporating that media education into my classroom, I learned something that I think is really important and it has been terribly important to me. What I learned was that there is something going on in our culture, a shift away from democracy. This shift can be at least partly placed at the feet of what you might call the media and popular culture.

Now this is not to condemn it, Madam Speaker, it is to make a point about what our job is here today and tomorrow and however many days we are here, whether it is through Christmas or not. What I learned is that consumerism, which our children are immersed in, which is the electronic wallpaper of our culture, consumerism is in direct opposition to democracy. This is the world that we live in today and I want to say a little bit about it. I want to talk about those opposites because I think they are really important and I think they help us to understand where we might go wrong in this process.

Madam Speaker, a consumer is a passive spectator in the experience of the culture or the life, whether it be the political culture or the broader culture. Consumers are given choices or illusionary choices, from a fixed menu. You can watch the six o'clock news on one channel or the seven o'clock news on another; you can buy one brand of jeans or another. But whatever it is you choose or you have the illusion of choosing is laid out for you by someone else.

[Page 2848]

Citizenship, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of that, Madam Speaker. This relates to this House because I think that my understanding of why I am here is to be a responsible citizen. A citizen is one who actively participates in the culture, and that would be the culture of this House, the broader culture that we live in. A citizen engages in the process and a citizen creates and exercises choices.

Now, Madam Speaker, what I have been seeing here today and what I have been hearing about in the past and what I see around me in other places is a kind of government by consumerism. This is indicated when governments don't allow for people to air their views in a democratic fashion. It happens when governments simply present accomplished facts, not just to the Opposition but to the citizens who want to actively engage in the process. It happens when resolutions come up in the House that say to us; you, members of the Opposition, you citizens who are preoccupied and somewhat bedevilled by the time of year, you citizens are merely spectators and we have the ability to make you spectator consumers of our government policy because we have the weaponry; we have the framework; we have the numbers, and we have the spin doctors. We have whatever it is that it takes to put our version of the truth forward. The government thinks we are consumers; it has us confused with a lesser life form.

Now the question of citizenship. What is a citizen, besides an active participant? Well, John Ralston Saul, in his book The Unconscious Civilization, which is the book form of his 1995 Massey Lectures, quotes Socrates, who says that a citizen is a person whose duty it is to persistently annoy the government. Now, Madam Speaker, that does not mean to persistently annoy for the sake of being difficult or childish or anything else. The duty of a citizen is to persistently annoy the government, so that the government can engage with the people who are its citizens in order to come to some kind of resolution that is better than would have been found with one group of heads together alone.

My understanding of this House - and if it is naive I suppose I will know soon enough - is that what we do here is we put our heads together, Opposition and government, and we do oppose and the government does submit and the government does overrule by its majority. Madam Speaker, we do oppose, not because we are silly and childish and because we want to tie up this House at this time of year, but because it is our duty. Every single person in this House was elected by an average of about - what? - 13,000 citizens, or a majority of those citizens in an election. Everybody here was elected to come and represent the constituents, the citizens, not the consumers of a flourishing democracy.

MADAM SPEAKER: I wonder if the honourable member would adjourn the debate for this evening, so we could recognize the Opposition House Leader for tomorrow's business?

MS. O'CONNELL: I would be pleased to do that, Madam Speaker. Does that mean that I will get my time another day?

[Page 2849]

MADAM SPEAKER: Yes, you will have 44 minutes remaining of your time.

MS. O'CONNELL: I will be very happy, Madam Speaker, to move adjournment.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, I was going to rise on a point of order that we have not had another order of business in between, so if the ruling that we had a moment ago is correct, then we cannot adjourn, and we are not at the time as yet.

MADAM SPEAKER: We have reached the ordinary time of Adjournment.

MR. RUSSELL: However, I will play by the rules that we have in force tonight and advise the House that tomorrow, Madam Speaker, we will be calling Bill No. 45 and Resolution No. 871. If we have any House Orders, we will get to those, too, I guess, but I don't think we have any House Orders.Yes, we do.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: I would move that we adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow. We will sit from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

MADAM SPEAKER: The House stands adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 7:59 p.m.]

[Page 2850]


Given on December 2, 1996

(Pursuant to Rule 30)


By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

To: Hon. Eleanor Norrie (Minister of Natural Resources)

(1) Why hasn't your department applied for funding being made available by Human Resources Development Canada for siliviculture programs?

(2) Will a formal application be filed with Human Resources Development Canada that includes pertinent information as to the actual amount of funding being sought and detailed plans of where this funding would be allocated for silviculture?

(3) You were quoted in the October 9th edition of the Chronicle-Herald as saying your government has committed $6.4 million towards forest management in the province for 1996. Will you provide me with a breakdown of exactly where this funding has been distributed across Nova Scotia and how much of this funding has been earmarked for silviculture versus administration expenses being expended on forest management?

(4) Will you have your officials provide me with details on actual silviculture programs initiated by your government and the number and type of trees which have been replanted in areas across Nova Scotia since the beginning of this fiscal year?

(5) Considerable concern has been expressed through the media and our office about those individuals not asked to participate in the Voluntary Planning process just concluded across the province. One of the criticisms heard was that environmental, tourism, wildlife and First Nations groups were never heard from. How come?

(6) The coalition has heard a large number of complaints. With the public hearings now completed, what is Voluntary Planning's next step?

(7) Legislation governing the Primary Forest Products Marketing Board is still in limbo. Is there any consideration to proclaiming this legislation and what has been the drawback to introducing this legislation? Regulations were drafted a couple of years ago.

[Page 2851]


By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

To: Hon. Eleanor Norrie (Minister of Natural Resources)

(1) A proposal for an expansion of the annual moose license allocation in Nova Scotia was recently submitted to your office by the Professional Fishing and Hunting Outfitters Association of Nova Scotia. It is a very detailed proposal. As noted in the proposal, wildlife biologists indicate that the moose herd is currently underutilized and can easily sustain the increased harvesting recommended in this proposal. The proposal goes on to say, "There are significant and positive image opportunities for Nova Scotia in the international marketplace by making a Special Moose Hunt available to non-residents.". Will the minister provide me with an update as to the status of this proposal and length of time before a decision will be made on this special moose hunt application for the highlands of Cape Breton?


By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

To: Hon. Donald Downe (Minister of Transportation and Public Works)

(1) Will the Minister of Transportation and Public Works provide, in as much detail as possible, his department's overtime policy involving snowplow operators, survey crews, highway construction work, weigh scale operators and any other division within his department where an employee is required to work occasional overtime? As well, will the minister provide for me the amount of overtime worked so far in the 1996-97 budget and precisely who this overtime was allocated to and if DOT laid-off workers have been called back to do any of this work, or if staff from other jurisdictions in the province have been called in from other areas to do overtime when qualified individuals in an area are prepared to do the necessary work? If former department workers have not been called back to do some overtime, could the minister explain why?