Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Thur., Dec. 5, 1996

Fourth Session

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Oppose, Mr. R. Chisholm 2943
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Cape Breton West:
Big Glen/Loch Lomond Road - Upgrade, Mr. A. MacLeod 2944
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Public Accounts Committee, Mr. J. Leefe 2944
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1011, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Scrap, Dr. J. Hamm 2945
Res. 1012, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Advertising - Condemn,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2945
Res. 1013, ERA - Job Creation: Incentives - Cost, Dr. J. Hamm 2946
Res. 1014, Educ. - PST & GST Harmonization: Cost - Scrap,
Mr. T. Donahoe 2946
Res. 1015, Educ. - Post-Secondary: PST & GST Harmonization -
Impact Table, Mr. D. McInnes 2947
Res. 1016, Province House - Indoor Pollution Reduce:
"No Scents" Policy - Adopt, Mr. J. Holm 2947
Res. 1017, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Abandon, Mr. B. Taylor 2948
Res. 1018, Fin. - Taxation: Approach (PC[N.S.]) - Embrace,
Mr. R. Russell 2948
Res. 1019, Nat. Res. - Offshore Gas Dev.: Benefits - Reveal,
Ms. E. O'Connell 2949
Res. 1020, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Atlantic Advantage -
Title Change, Mr. G. Archibald 2950
Res. 1021, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Consequences - Reveal,
Mr. A. MacLeod 2950
Res. 1022, DFO - Westport: Harbour Facilities - Funding Support,
Mr. J. Casey 2951
Vote - Affirmative 2951
Res. 1023, Health - Systems: Concerns - Resolve, Mr. G. Moody 2952
Res. 1024, Exco - Cuts: Comm. For Soc. Rights - Initiative Commend,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2952
Res. 1025, Nat. Res. - Offshore: Pipeline Hearings - Cessation Order,
Mr. G. Archibald 2953
Res. 1026, Educ. - Reg. School Bds. (Strait & Chignecto-Central):
Amal. Co-ordinator - Cost Apologize, Mr. T. Donahoe 2954
Res. 1027, Fish. - Don Boudreau & "Double Don" Crew:
Atlantic Rescue - Congrats., Mr. J. Leefe 2955
Vote - Affirmative 2955
Res. 1028, ERA - Job Creation: Promise - Fulfil, Mr. R. Russell 2955
Res. 1029, Justice - Institutions: Abuse - Compensation Honour,
Mr. J. Holm 2956
Res. 1030, Environ. - Resource Recovery Fund:
Ethical Standard Violation - Acknowledge, Mr. G. Moody 2956
Res. 1031, House of Assembly - Sitting (06/12/96)-Timing Adjust:
Women-Violence Against Ceremony - Attendance Permit,
Ms. E. O'Connell 2957
Res. 1032, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Abandon,
Mr. A. MacLeod 2960
Res. 1033, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Roads: Rural - Repair,
Mr. B. Taylor 2961
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 406, Nat. Res. - Forestry: Harvest - Sustainability, Mr. B. Taylor 2961
No. 407, Justice - Institutions: Abuse - Commitments, Mr. J. Holm 2962
No. 408, Health - Reg. Health Bds.: Consultation - Weekend Meeting,
Dr. J. Hamm 2964
No. 409, Health: Hants Commun. Hosp. - Funding, Mr. R. Russell 2966
No. 410, Health - Gambling: Addicts - Treatment, Mr. G. Moody 2968
No. 411, Health - C.B.: Mental Health Services - Public Inquiry,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2969
No. 412, Health: C.B. Reg. Hosp.: Workplace Illness - Address,
Mr. A. MacLeod 2971
No. 413, Nat. Res. - Silviculture Funding (Gov't. [Can.]),
Mr. B. Taylor 2973
No. 414, Environ. - VG Hospital: Medical Waste Incinerator -
Emission Standards, Mr. T. Donahoe 2975
No. 415, Educ. - Reg. School Bd. (SW): Foreign Students - Tuition,
Ms. E. O'Connell 2977
No. 416, Environ. - Weymouth: Sewage Treatment - Permit,
Mr. J. Leefe 2979
No. 417, ERA: N.S.-P.E.I. Fixed Link - Ramifications, Mr. D. McInnes 2980
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 921, Rules of the House (Amendment - Extending Sitting Hours),
Hon. R. Mann 2981
Ms. E. O'Connell 2981
Mr. G. Moody 2986
Adjournment moved 3001
Out of order 3002
Mr. T. Donahoe 3006
Mr. A. MacLeod 3019
Mr. D. McInnes 3035
Mr. J. Holm 3043
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
ERA: Ferry (N.S.-P.E.I.) - Promote:
Mr. D. McInnes 3047
Mr. W. Fraser 3049
HOUSE RECESSED AT 6:21 P.M. 3053
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:30 P.M. 3053
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 921, Rules of the House (Amendment - Extended Sitting Hours),
Hon. R. Mann 3053
Mr. J. Holm [debate resumed] 3053
Adjournment of House moved 3063
Vote - Negative 3064
Mr. G. Archibald 3065
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Dec. 6th at 10:00 a.m. 3069

[Page 2943]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

12:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the 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 1,635 names on this group of petitions, 72 pages in all, and I would therefore table them.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

2943

[Page 2944]

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by a list of people who feel that the Big Glen/Loch Lomond Road should be upgraded. There are about 100 people who have signed this and I have signed my name and I agree with the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, in my capacity as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

With the indulgence of the House, Mr. Speaker, I would also like to add that in 1995 the standing committee struck a subcommittee to examine issues of government accountability, including consideration of various matters respecting possible changes to the Provincial Finance Act, the Expenditure Control Act, the Auditor General Act and the annual estimate/budget process. Consequently, the Public Accounts Committee recommends certain changes to the favourable consideration of the House.

I would be remiss if I did not thank the subcommittee for their efforts. Chaired by the member for Bedford-Fall River, it was variously comprised of the members for Hants West, Hants East, Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, and Halifax Atlantic and more laterally by the members for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and Sackville-Cobequid. They dedicated many extra hours to the task to which they were appointed.

I also wish to thank the Auditor General and his staff, the staff of the Committees Office and Hansard Reporting Services, all of whom served the Public Accounts Committee with efficiency and diligence. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

[Page 2945]

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1011

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 latest figures from the Nova Scotia Department of Finance show that retail sales in the month of September dropped 3.2 per cent from the August rate; and

Whereas this is yet another sign of weakness in the Nova Scotia economy, thanks to three and one-half years of higher consumer taxes and Liberal mismanagement; and

Whereas Nova Scotia retailers are fearing the disastrous effects the BST will have on consumer confidence and their ability to create and maintain jobs;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government scrap the BST before its policies do any more damage to Nova Scotia's staggering retail sector. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Order. Order, please. Order, please.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1012

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

Whereas a government, which will not commit to spending a thin dime so that people who live outside metropolitan Halifax can more easily tell the Law Amendments Committee what they think of the BST, is spending public funds on more BS Tax advertising; and

Whereas this week's newspaper ads are misleading in that they create the impression that consumers are going to enjoy great savings with the BS Tax, when the government knows full well they will pay an extra $80 million a year; and

Whereas if these ads were being done by a private company, they would be open to charges of misleading advertising; (Interruptions)

[Page 2946]

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Savage Liberal Government for spending public funds on propaganda instead of engaging in an honest dialogue with Nova Scotians about their BS Tax.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1013

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 Chretien Liberals dangled a multimillion carrot in front of the Savage Liberals to get their support for the BS Tax; and

Whereas the Liberals dangled a $500,000 carrot in front of the Mentor company despite the firm already agreeing to relocate and create jobs in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas both Liberal Governments enjoy dishing out taxpayer-funded carrots regardless of appropriateness, necessity or government policy;

Therefore be it resolved that the Chretien and Savage Liberals come to the realization that not every solution to the challenges facing government lies with carrots plucked from the taxpayers' gardens. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 1014

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 price of buying new books like the autobiography of former Ontario Premier Bob Rae that the Minister of Health seems so fond of reading will not be affected by the BS Tax; and

Whereas the price of scribblers, markers, pens, pencils, notepads, crayons, colouring books, binders, indeed all tools that enable Nova Scotia's children to learn will go up; and

[Page 2947]

Whereas this government admitted in its election platform that "socio-economic problems of students . . . have hindered our ability to attain a high quality of education.";

Therefore be it resolved that this government look at the cost to our children and to Nova Scotia's future prospects and scrap the BS Tax.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1015

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

Whereas Nova Scotia universities are expecting a 67 per cent rebate under the BST; and

Whereas this rebate falls short of the 71 per cent sales tax rebate which would have a neutral financial impact on universities; and

Whereas when concerns about the BST's impact on public schools were raised the Minister of Education questioned figures provided by the school boards and stated that the BST might have a positive effect on primary and secondary education;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education table the anticipated impact of the BST on Nova Scotias' post-secondary educational institutions.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1016

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

Whereas the government and people of Nova Scotia have in recent years greatly increased their understanding of harmful airborne pollutants; and

Whereas many public institutions in Nova Scotia, such as schools and hospitals, have adopted a no scents policy in recognition of the fact that many people are made ill when exposed to scents; and

[Page 2948]

Whereas this House may sometimes appear to have adopted a no s-e-n-s-e policy instead;

Therefore be it resolved that this House and the occupants of this historic building take a leadership role in reducing indoor pollution by adopting a no scents policy.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1017

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 Liberal House Leader says the reason for this government's passing of a resolution to limit debate on the BS Tax is to give this government the hammer should the full exercise of democracy take place; and

Whereas the only hammering that is really taking place is the hammering this government is about to deliver to the Nova Scotia taxpayer; and

Whereas even the president of what is arguably Canada largest hammer swinging association, the Canadian Homebuilder's Association, calls the BS Tax the policy equivalent of an incurable disease;

Therefore be it resolved that this government do the right thing and hammer the closet shut on whoever or whatever created the BS Tax.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1018

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

[Page 2949]

Whereas the extreme solution of the Liberal Government is to increase consumer taxes to the tune of $84 million, killing consumer confidence and jobs in the process; and

Whereas the extreme solution of the NDP is to eliminate consumption tax and make up the $749 million in lost revenue by hiking personal income tax and business tax, which would also kill consumer confidence and jobs; and

Whereas only the Leader of the Opposition is committed to a balanced tax regime in which every sector of the economy pays its fair share; (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please.

The honourable member has the floor.

MR. RUSSELL: Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals and the NDP stop playing the game of whose tax can we raise higher and embrace the fair and balanced Progressive Conservative approach to taxation.

[12:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1019

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 Joint Public Review Panel of the Sable Gas Project is now touring Nova Scotia to assess the environmental impact of the proposed offshore gas project; and

Whereas a proper environmental assessment requires a balancing of environmental costs versus economic benefits; and

Whereas this government has refused to release sufficient information to enable Nova Scotians to draw any conclusions about the real economic benefits of offshore gas development;

Therefore be it resolved that describing the offshore as the equivalent of three fixed links is not good enough, nor should it be considered accurate until the government gives Nova Scotians a full and realistic accounting of the benefits of offshore gas development.

[Page 2950]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1020

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

Whereas the Premier and the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency yesterday spoke in glowing terms about how the BST helped attract Mentor to Nova Scotia; and

Whereas a Mentor spokesman said he would have relocated to Nova Scotia regardless of whether the BST went ahead or not; and

Whereas this is the latest example of an untruthful statement from the Liberal Government about the benefits of the BST;

Therefore be it resolved that when talking about the BST, the Liberal Government must stop calling it The Atlantic Advantage and start using the title most Nova Scotians utter, The Atlantic Albatross.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

The honourable member has the floor.

RESOLUTION NO. 1021

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 member for Cape Breton East was on his feet yesterday talking about less tax revenue for the Government of Nova Scotia as a result of the BS Tax; and

Whereas the member for Cape Breton East conveniently ignored the windfalls of hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars given by Ottawa to Nova Scotia to assist their federal Liberal cousins phony attempt at eliminating the GST; and

[Page 2951]

Whereas the member for Cape Breton East also conveniently ignored a warning from the Retail Council of Canada which said yesterday tax-in pricing will cost retailers $75 million per year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the government front benches including the member for Cape Breton East stop hiding from this detrimental tax and tell Nova Scotians of the severe economic consequences such a tax will have on the economy of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1022

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

Whereas there is a lack of adequate harbour facilities at Westport in Digby County, the fourth busiest harbour in Nova Scotia in terms of groundfish landings; and

Whereas the Department of Public Works estimates that it will cost $1.25 million to carry out the necessary improvements to make these facilities adequate, providing numerous short term jobs as well as 20 long-term permanent jobs; and

Whereas to date some $211,000 has been raised in the Digby area for this project and a request has been made to the Small Craft Harbours Division of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for funding in the neighbourhood of $1 million;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House support the Western Valley Development Authority as it proceeds with its request to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for the necessary funding for this project.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 2952]

RESOLUTION NO. 1023

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 Health Minister is taking a break this weekend from his duties as Finance Minister to hold his Team Health meetings with the regional boards and staff; and

Whereas over 60 political appointments and staff members are to discuss with the Health Minister, not money issues, not health system issues but issues of accountability between the regional and community boards and the province; and

Whereas the Health Minister, who has time to discuss matters relating to accountability within the new health bureaucracy, has obviously not heard the voices of the thousands of Nova Scotians screaming for attention to the real issues of our health system;

Therefore be it resolved that this minister concentrate on the figures released from the Medical Society on concerns from hundreds of Nova Scotians on the real issues of the day - like line ups for specialists, emergency care and surgery, doctors leaving our province, home care and hospital stay cuts - that he might truly understand the concept of accountability.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, on an introduction.

MR. BRUCE HOLLAND: Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure today of being accompanied by a constituent, Mrs. Joyce Platz. Joyce is an active member of my community. She is a lay minister in St. Joseph's Church in Shad Bay, an active member of the CWL, has in the past been employed in the health care industry, has been a small business woman. I consider her to be a mentor, advisor and friend. I would ask all members of the Legislature to afford her a warm welcome. I would ask Joyce to please stand. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1024

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

Whereas this government has responded to the fiscal crisis caused by 15 years of Tory mismanagement by cutting health, education and social services while continuing to give handouts to big business; and

[Page 2953]

Whereas most Nova Scotians believe that this government has its spending priorities wrong; and

Whereas the Committee for Social Rights will be holding a rally today calling on this government to stop cutting and start investing in health, education and social services;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Committee for Social Rights on their initiative and join them in urging this government to commit to a caring community.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1025

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 government is misleading the general public by inviting them to make presentations to a joint public review panel that it established to fast track a natural gas pipeline in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the public has been denied access to the single most important piece of information, namely how much revenue Nova Scotia will receive from Mobil Oil as the result of allowing Mobil to extract our natural gas as well as use our lands to run pipelines; and

Whereas this is the first time ever in this country that any province has set up a secretariat to deal specifically with the application of one group;

Therefore be it resolved that this government order the meetings to cease until Nova Scotians know the royalty agreement this government has reached and any other side deals it is hiding from the people of Nova Scotia regarding our offshore.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

[Page 2954]

RESOLUTION NO. 1026

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

Whereas Mr. George Unsworth served as amalgamation co-ordinator for both the Strait Regional School Board and the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board; and

Whereas Mr. Unsworth billed the taxpayers of Nova Scotia for a combined total of $153,893 . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?

MR. DONAHOE: $153,893, exceeding his tender bids by a whopping $57,793; and

Whereas Mr. Unsworth's main qualification for gouging Nova Scotia taxpayers is his lengthy experience in Liberal Party politics;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Scandalous.

MR. DONAHOE: It was scandalous. (Interruption) Yes, this was a scandalous piece of business;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Education and Culture apologize to the students, teachers and parents for taking this money from the classrooms to feather the nests of partisan friends.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I will be seeking waiver of notice on this. You might advise the honourable House Leader, if we can get his attention for a moment. If the Government House Leader could come to order, Mr. Speaker, I would very much appreciate it. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has the floor.

[Page 2955]

RESOLUTION NO. 1027

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

Whereas fishing remains one of the most dangerous occupations in this province; and

Whereas just last week Nova Scotians were reminded exactly how dangerous it is, as a wave washed over the Dwayne Allan off Cape Sable Island, casting three crew into the Atlantic Ocean; and

Whereas the crew from the Double Don saw her tip and steamed to her rescue, plucking the fishermen from the ocean's grip;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its congratulations to Captain Don Boudreau of the Double Don and his crew members whose quick response helped rescue Valeri and Louis Boudreau, as well as Brian Pothier and Paul Doucette from the Atlantic Ocean.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1028

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

Whereas the present Liberal Government campaigned on creating jobs - 58,000 of them to be exact - during the 1993 spring election campaign; and

Whereas the Liberal Strategy for Growth Policy Paper clearly indicated that within 90 days of taking office, a Liberal action plan would be implemented and people would be going back to work; and

[Page 2956]

Whereas the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency was boasting on CBC Radio last evening the importance of 60 day job opportunities but said nothing about long-term employment strategy for Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that since the unemployment rate for Nova Scotians remains consistently high, between 12 per cent and 14 per cent, the Liberal Government not forget the promise made to 58,000 unemployed Nova Scotians in the spring of 1993.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1029

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

Whereas Newfoundland, Canada's poorest province, has seen fit to provide fair and generous settlements to 39 victims of abuse at the Mount Cashel orphanage; and

Whereas this government, which can afford to invest $500,000 in a company which says it doesn't need the government's money, is reported to be preparing to reduce the amount of compensation to victims of abuse at provincial youth institutions; and

Whereas such reductions are a breach of faith by this government and further abuse of the victims;

Therefore be it resolved that this government abandon any plans it may have to reduce the amount of compensation and, instead, honour its agreement contained in its Memorandum of Understanding with survivors.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1030

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 Minister of the Environment repeatedly told members of this House that the Resource Recovery Board was an arm's length agency, independent of government; and

[Page 2957]

Whereas this same minister injected himself into the meeting where discussions were held relative to arranging a contract with a tire recycling company; and

Whereas the Minister of the Environment has made public statements to the effect that he wants the tire recycling plant located in his constituency;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier acknowledge that this is a violation of any reasonable standard of conduct or ethical behaviour for a public official who is entrusted to act for the greater good as opposed to his own political self-interest and that the Premier insists that this type of conduct be clearly referenced in his yet unseen code of ethics.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice on an introduction.

HON. JAY ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery we have an individual student who, on his own initiative, has come to this House to observe proceedings here. His name is Ryan Cox. Maybe, Ryan, you could stand and receive the ovation of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1031

[12:30 p.m.]

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 tomorrow, December 6th, is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women; and

Whereas December 6th commemorates the 1989 murder of 14 young women at École Polytechnique in Montreal and serves as a focal point for the continuing struggle to put an end to violence against women; and

Whereas the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women will be observed by a commemoration and flag lowering ceremony at Province House at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow;

Therefore be it resolved that this House arrange its activities so that all members and staff may attend the ceremony.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 2958]

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

It is agreed.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I think that is the reference to a meeting of the Private and Local Bills Committee scheduled for 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, and I believe that honourable members ought to bear that in mind in evaluating this request for waiver of notice. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order. The Private and Local Bills Committee might be able to adjust its schedule by a few minutes. The Government House Leader had indicated that he had not been able to hear the final phrase and maybe, before the question is put about whether or not members agree to the waiver, it would be appropriate for the Therefore be it resolved clause to be reread so that all members are sure about what is being asked for.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: It is agreed.

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege. This is an objective that we feel very strongly about but it would make more sense, rather than introducing them as notices of motion, that we speak with the House Leaders and see whether it is possible. This side will do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Perhaps, again, I would request for the fifth time this session if the sound system could be turned up a little bit so that we could possible hear these resolutions a little better. We are legitimately having a very difficult time hearing certain members speak in the Chamber and it may be the causes of some of the difficulties in here. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, can we have the operative clause of the notice of motion read again?

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will ask the honourable for Halifax Fairview to read again the Therefore be it resolved clause, please.

[Page 2959]

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Therefore be it resolved that this House arrange its activities so that all members and staff may attend the ceremony.

MR. SPEAKER: That is the 9:00 o'clock ceremony tomorrow morning?

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I would be very pleased to discuss this with the two Opposition House Leaders and I am sure we can come to an amicable agreement on this, but I do not think this is the proper way to do it, so I will say no to the resolution, but be very willing to sit and talk to them in a few minutes.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on that point, I think it is important that we recognize that we are presently under Government Business, dealing with the resolution, which takes away any possible obligation on the part of the Government House Leader, to discuss any question of rules or timing of the House business. (Interruptions) That is exactly the point and here we have a request, simply by a member of this House, asking all members of this House to consider, in determining the business for tomorrow morning, that we allow a short period of time for all members and staff of the House of Assembly to attend this very important commemorative ceremony.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The request is for waiver of this notice.

Is it agreed that notice be waived?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. May I ask that the suggestion that I made take place, that the three House Leaders sit down and talk about it. We are turning this into (Interruption) With the kind of parade you are getting over there, it is being politicized and that is a shame that you politicize it. What we are saying (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order.

THE PREMIER: The point I am (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, the point I raise, seriously and without trying to be funny, in a serious way was, let the three House Leaders sit and discuss it. We are willing to come back to this and I am sure we can accommodate it, but when it is dragged through the kind of stuff like that, it loses credibility. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 2960]

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, rising to speak to the point that was introduced, the Premier's words would have some relevance if, in fact, the government side had shown any consideration for members of other Parties in terms of setting hours. The credibility of this government to sit down with members of the Opposition Parties and work out a realistic and reasonable agreement as to how this place will work has simply been blown out of the water by the resolution we are going to debate in this House in a few minutes.

This government has indicated that it doesn't need the cooperation or the agreement to do anything, so that it is why it is most appropriate that we vote on the resolution, because this government has shown an unwillingness to cooperate in an orderly functioning of this Legislature.

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

Is it agreed that the notice from the honourable member for Halifax Fairview be waived?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1032

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

Whereas when the Municipal Affairs Minister announced the shotgun marriage of the municipalities in Cape Breton in early 1994, the Municipal Affairs Minister also announced there would be no increase in taxes; and

Whereas today the residents of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality were advised that they face higher taxes or service cuts due to a $61 million shortfall; and

Whereas part of this shortfall - $1.3 million - is due to the introduction of the BS Tax;

Therefore be it resolved that the Savage Liberal Government, whose BS Tax shotgun marriage includes New Brunswick and Newfoundland at the altar, where consumers will be the sacrificial lambs, call off the marriage and get out of this tax-grabbing deal.

[Page 2961]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1033

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

Whereas thousands and thousands of kilometres of roads are in a state of disrepair in the province because of the neglect shown by this Liberal Government; and

Whereas despite the numerous overtures made to the present government for some repair maintenance, the overtures have been ignored; and

Whereas despite the refusal to fix these many rural roads, two Ministers of the Crown had the time to hand out publicly-funded hats and flags to celebrate the opening of a stretch of highway that will have severe economic consequences for Nova Scotia businesses;

Therefore be it resolved that if the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and the Minister of Natural Resources have time to provide free hats and flags to Nova Scotia taxpayers, that they have the courtesy to ensure public dollars are earmarked for the thousands of rural roads presently in a state of disrepair.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Are there further notices of motion? If not, we will now move to Orders of the Day.

The time now being 12:39 p.m., the Oral Question Period will run for one hour, until 1:39 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

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

NAT. RES. - FORESTRY: HARVEST - SUSTAINABILITY

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Natural Resources. Over the last several years there has been much concern expressed about the intense level of forest harvesting in this province and as the markets for wood have improved, so have the volumes of wood being cut. Some of the wood is leaving our province

[Page 2962]

by rail, by truck, by ships. Many people are concerned that our forests are being harvested in a manner which isn't really sustainable. What steps is this minister taking to ensure that our forests are going to be harvested in a sustainable manner?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows that what he is saying is a concern of not only himself, but all members of this House and the people of the province. There is a coalition of forest interests who are coming up with a wood supply strategy. They have been working for two years and we are working very closely with them to come up with a strategy that will address the very concern that he is raising.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, A New Forest Strategy for Nova Scotia, the discussion paper, was worked up some time ago. In fact, it is dated sometime in July. The Voluntary Planning committee went around the province and held discussions and hearings and were looking for public feedback. But, unfortunately, wildlife groups, recreationalists, environmentalists, the tourism sector and First Nations are complaining that they have not been included in the process.

What steps is the minister taking to ensure that groups such as those are going to be included in any final forest strategy for this province?

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, the very document that the member opposite holds up was a document that was printed in July. It was sent out across the province. There were hearings held across the province. It is a discussion paper and that was the very form that we asked those people that he is mentioning to become involved in the process.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, those groups, wildlife enthusiasts, recreational groups, tourism, First Nations, and so on and so forth, are still complaining that they have not been part of the process. What specific steps is this minister going to take to ensure that those groups are included in any final forest strategy for this province?

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, once that document has been reviewed again by the coalition and the response that came back from the public is reviewed by the coalition, we will sit down then and work out the strategy from thereon in. As the member opposite talks about wood supply and over-harvesting and wood coming off the lands of Nova Scotia, I am wondering which mill in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley the member opposite is asking me to close down so that cannot happen in the province.

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

JUSTICE - INSTITUTIONS: ABUSE - COMMITMENTS

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to address my question, through you, sir, to the Minister of Justice. On May 3rd, when announcing an agreement with the victims

[Page 2963]

or the representatives from the survivors of abuse, the former Attorney General said that there is no doubt former residents of three provincially operated institutions were victims of abuse. He said, "I want to apologize to the victims.", but that he was, ". . . pleased to advise that we now have agreement on a Memorandum of Understanding regarding compensation for victims of institutional abuse.". He went on, finally, to say that, "We cannot make up for the sufferings that have been inflicted, but that we can help victims to rebuild their lives and their futures.".

My question to the Minister of Justice is quite simply this, will the minister agree, here and now, that he will honour the commitments made by his predecessor on behalf of the Liberal Government of Nova Scotia and follow the terms that are laid out in the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed on behalf of the government?

HON. JAY ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, the ADR process that was spelled out early on in this process was the right idea at that time and it still is. It has been with a view to ensuring that it is allowed to continue, that it is able to continue at all, that a taking stock period was asked for and a time-out, if you will, was called by me. I can only assure the member opposite that the government is committed to an ADR process as the best possible alternative to the rigours of the normal court process and, just as it was a great idea when first announced, it still is a very good idea.

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister says that it was a good idea and the right idea at the time. I remind the minister it was more than the right idea, it was an agreement; it was an arrangement negotiated between the government and the representatives of the survivors. My question to the minister is very simply, will you answer the question? Will you honour the agreement that your government entered into with the victims, the survivors of abuse in those institutions for which the previous minister himself even apologized?

MR. ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that at the outset, when the ADR process was first framed, lawyers for the claimants actually preferred to refer to it not as an agreement but as a protocol or as a process. In fact, they would argue, at the time at least, that it was not an agreement; memorandum of agreement was a term that was adopted partly as a result of that. However one wishes to frame this in legal terms might be beside the point; the point is that this alternative to having to force the claimants through the normal rigours of the court process is still the best way to proceed and it is, again, with a view to doing just that that we have had the stock-taking period at all.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I guess my final question - and there are a bunch of them that I would like to ask - is it then true, as the reports have been saying, that the government intends to break its word, tear up its understanding of agreement and unilaterally change that which it negotiated with the representatives of the survivors by reducing the amounts of

[Page 2964]

payments, extending the period of time that it is going to be paid out over and even change the file review process? Is it true, will the minister confirm that he intends to break the government's word and unilaterally change that agreement and therefore betray those who had faith and trust in the government's word?

MR. ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, which report is the member opposite referring to? I would be happy to answer his question if he would explain which report he is referring to.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - REG. HEALTH BDS.:

CONSULTATION - WEEKEND MEETING

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health has indicated that this weekend a consultation process is going to begin and he talks about Team Health, he talks about 60 top players, he is talking about fundamental issues, he talks about a social evening, and he also says that consumers won't be there, community health interests won't be there, health care providers won't be there and it really begs to ask the question - now that the minister, obviously, this weekend, is going to engage in a frenzy of consultation - would he explain how a taxpayer-funded social evening with regional health board members and staff will benefit patient care here in Nova Scotia?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, let me correct the honourable Leader of the Opposition, this is not an attempt for general consultation. What we are doing, these are three day working sessions to develop and refine the relationship that exists between the major partners in the delivery of health care service, such things as the accountability structure and framework, and the governance process that the boards will use. They are now in the situation that they have assumed responsibility for most of the hospitals, or will have by January 1st. By March 31st, they will have taken over a responsibility for drug dependency programs and public health, so we felt, as they did, that we need to have a very focused and hard-working session over the next three days to clarify the accountability and responsibility relationships.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer. It is not very comforting that three and one-half years into a reform situation in which we have seen the fabric of our health care delivery system unravel on a daily basis that the minister is calling a meeting to talk about governance issues and responsibilities. By his own admission he has said that the regional health boards are now administering hospitals and he is talking about now they should know what their responsibilities are.

My question is, since they are going back now in the reform process to do what probably should have been done a month after this whole process began, would the minister indicate to members of the House and others what roles of the community health boards, the

[Page 2965]

regional health boards and the province are now up for negotiation? What roles are going to be negotiated or renegotiated?

MR. BOUDREAU: As you know, Mr. Speaker, all of us, the Department of Health, the non-designated institutions, of which there are four, and the regional health boards, of which there are four, have a responsibility. We are all involved in spending public money, spending taxpayers' dollars in the delivery of the health care system in Nova Scotia. We have to be clear where our responsibilities conjoin, where we will work together and where our responsibilities are separate, to whom we are accountable and what form that accountability will take; for example, what requirements will be necessary in terms of delivering business plans and having those plans improved, having them integrated one with another.

We have, fundamentally now, eight boards in Nova Scotia and the Department of Health which, together, make up, if you will, Team Health Nova Scotia. There is only one Team Health Nova Scotia. We will work together and we want to get very specific and that is the purpose of a three day work schedule. I would be happy to provide, by the way, a copy of the agenda to the honourable Leader of the Opposition. It is a very focused work agenda and we intend to accomplish a great deal in this purpose.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister and I look forward to looking at the agenda and I would hope that the minister would follow up and provide it. I guess the disturbing thing about what the minister is saying is that when we are now at a point that the only way in which we can salvage health care is through specific action, the minister is really still talking about philosophy of health care reform, three and one-half years into the process.

Is the minister, since he obviously is prepared to share the agenda, prepared to commit that members of the public, representatives of the various health disciplines and the media can attend these meetings to observe this process in action and to absolutely determine that health care reform, as the minister would have us believe, is on track and that the interests of the Nova Scotia health care consumer are, in fact, being addressed in a satisfactory and aggressive manner?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, this isn't a philosophical discussion on the direction of health care in Nova Scotia. This is a very focused discussion on business planning, on human resource planning, on service delivery, on models of governance for the board itself and its actions, all of these things, very specific, very focused and developed over a very direct time line. It is not the type of general philosophical discussion that the honourable Leader of the Opposition would have you believe.

I don't suppose, Mr. Speaker, that the weekend may go by without somebody wondering about the position of the Leader of the Opposition and his Party on health care reform. When you have, in fact, the Health care Critic enthusiastically supporting the Blueprint and the regionalization concept and the Leader of the Opposition saying he is going

[Page 2966]

to eliminate regional health boards if he is elected. Now, mind you, he said he was going to keep community health boards and how you do that, I haven't figured out yet. But no doubt that when he eliminates regional health boards, he will make it clear what he sees as the role for community health boards, because I bet nobody this weekend will be able to figure it out.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

HEALTH: HANTS COMMUN. HOSP. - FUNDING

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: My question is for the Minister of Health. Mr. Speaker, the Hants Community Hospital has faced a funding crisis ever since about six months into this year. The Minister of Health came out to Windsor about four or five weeks ago, met with the Board of Trade, met with the staff of the community hospital and assured them that everything was going to be hunky-dorey. Well, there is a $600,000 shortfall that they face and the minister's solution, as I understand it, is the Department of Health will give the hospital a $300,000 advanced loan and that the hospital will raid the hospital foundation for the other $300,000.

My question to the minister is, is this the way he is going to fund this hospital, by raiding foundations and funds that are set aside by the residents within communities to support their hospital for things other than the daily operating expenses?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the honourable minister is right in that I met in Halifax at the request of a citizens' committee to discuss the problem. I met a second group in Halifax involving municipal officials and members of the hospital board to discuss the problem. Both of those discussions went very well. They were very productive and they were conducted in a positive atmosphere. Subsequent to that, and at their request and invitation, I went to Windsor and spent about seven or eight hours there. I met with the foundations, with the auxiliaries, with the staff of the hospital, with the board and I said to them that that particular hospital and its administration and its staff deserve a lot of credit because they accommodated reductions over a two year period larger than any other hospital in Nova Scotia.

I am not going to get into why they had to accommodate those reductions, but it might have had something to do with the previous member and the comparison between the funding for that hospital, as it would compare to other hospitals across Nova Scotia. I said to them, folks, you have come through some pretty tough times and, you know what? You have made it and you deserve congratulations. Now there is still an operating problem, as the honourable member suggested. There was a $600,000 shortfall, but it is a one-time shortfall. The board and the staff and others tell me that they can operate now at the same level of funding as other institutions of that size in Nova Scotia. They deserve a tremendous amount of respect and credit for doing that.

[Page 2967]

What I told the people there, when I went to Windsor, is that before the end of November, the Department of Health would come back to them with a proposal which we thought would deal with that one-time only $600,000 problem. We met our commitment. We went back to the board with it. The board accepted that proposal and they circulated that acceptance to staff. This hospital is going to do it, Mr. Speaker, and they are going to continue to be a tremendously important and quality part of our health care system in that area of the province. (Applause)

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister is telling us that the hospital is going to survive because of what he has done. What has he done? He is loaning them $300,000 against a future budget and he is asking them to raid the kitty, which was raised by people who have gone out and had bake sales and sidewalk sales, put on concerts, et cetera, to build up a trust fund for the hospital. He is raiding $300,000 from that funding to support the hospital and he says, don't worry. Well, my God. What do you expect the people are going to think about after April 1st? Where is the budget going to be for 1997-98? They have already borrowed $300,000 from the department to support that year. They have borrowed $300,000 from the kitty they have built up. How are they going to survive? I will tell you how they are going to survive. This Minister of Health never uses the word hospital when he speaks about the Hants community facility and all other euphemisms that he uses for that hospital because it is his intention to downgrade it to a health care centre.

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: I am sure the honourable member is ready to ask a question.

MR. RUSSELL: My question to the minister is, will he guarantee that there will be sufficient funding in the 1997-98 budget to maintain the Hants Community Hospital as a hospital and as it is presently set up?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, this member is fussing and fuming simply because we reached, with the community, with the board, with the staff, a solution to a problem, by the way, which he is largely responsible for creating. He is not happy now. He is fussing and fuming. He wants to try to stir up the pot again. I am going to be meeting, I will continue to meet. I have further meetings planned with both the municipal group and the citizens' committee and I will be meeting with them.

That hospital will continue. That is hospital. That hospital will continue its role as a very important part of the health care system in that area. I wanted to say that both now and when I spoke to them directly in Windsor, all of those groups, I give tremendous credit to the administration, to the board and to the staff of that hospital. They have taken that hospital a long way. They have done it successfully and having done it they can be assured now of a sustainable future.

[Page 2968]

MR. RUSSELL: The minister says what a fine job the staff have done out there and they have done an absolutely superlative job. It is a fine hospital and we want to keep it that way, but we will not keep it that way unless we get the funding to maintain the staff and the present services offered by that hospital. All I want from the minister is that that staffing will remain, that the services will remain and that the hospital will remain as a hospital and they will have sufficient funding in the next fiscal year to do that. Will he make that simple statement?

MR. BOUDREAU: I am confident, Mr. Speaker, that that hospital will have sufficient funding to continue its role and to play the important part in our health care system that it has in the past.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - GAMBLING: ADDICTS - TREATMENT

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health may remember his days as Minister responsible for the Gaming Control Act. I am sure that has not left him yet. He remembers the promise made at that time - I am sure I don't have to remind him - of the $1 million a year that the casino would put in to treat those that become addicted and also the money that the beverage room operators promised through the VLT for gaming addiction. I would ask the minister if the fund has been established pursuant to Regulation 32(1) to have that money be used actually for treatment, if the minister would inform me whether or not that has been established and if it has been established, if he would be so kind as to table the regulation setting up the fund in this Legislature?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that fund has been established by the Department of Finance.

MR. RUSSELL: I would go then to the Minister of Finance, if he is looking after those who are addicted through gaming in this province. I would ask the minister if the fund has been set up and if the fund is actually today being used for those who are addicted through gaming. We know the percentage. There are 3 per cent to 4 per cent. There is a lot of spin-off from those who are addicted through gaming in this province, with the casino and the VLTs. Is that fund actually being used today and how is it being used?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, as I recall, the trust fund is being set up through the Department of Finance but under the agreement, the actual treatment would be directed by the Department of Health. I am quite sure that the trust fund is in its final stages, but the actual type of treatment would be under the Minister of Health.

[Page 2969]

MR. BOUDREAU: The responsibility for delivering health programs is, has been and remains with the Department of Health. The money, until we use it, remains with the Department of Finance. We do not collect the money and hold it in the Department of Health. That money remains with the Department of Finance. We get it as we use it.

MR. MOODY: There seems to be a real problem for those who are addicted. The Department of Finance is collecting the fund and they are supposed to give it to the Department of Health to use but, as I understand it, Health do not have it to use as yet and we have had casinos in this province for over a year, and there has been money built up, I think, from the VLTs.

What I am trying to find out and the people who are addicted are trying to find out is - and we must have probably $2 million or $3 million in this fund by now - when is this money actually going to be used for those who are addicted, how is it going to be spent, and by whom is it going to be spent? Those who are addicted keep calling, asking, is this money ready for our use? I can't find out if it is and how much and who is spending it.

MR. BOUDREAU: Well I don't think the honourable member ever asked before. I have gotten all kinds of requests under the freedom of information and other methods. I don't think he has ever asked me that question, but I will be happy to give it to him.

As a matter of fact, the money is being spent now. I will give the honourable member - I don't have it with me - I will be happy to prepare for the honourable member a list of the programs. I can tell him that the largest single program is the 1-800 line, which is up and running as of December 1st. In fact members may be aware of the process we went through. That line is fully functional now in the province and that is the largest single expenditure under that program.

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

HEALTH - C.B.: MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES - PUBLIC INQUIRY

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Health. On Friday last, this House approved a resolution requesting the government to proceed with a full, independent public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding suicides at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital and, in general, the whole issue of mental health services in Cape Breton.

In response to this question, the Minister of Health said, when asked if he would follow along with the recommendations, he said that he would, first of all, wait to see what the Perez report said. Now, Mr. Speaker, the Perez report, Dr. Edgardo Perez completed a report in July 1996, but it was an operations review. I have reviewed this and there is nothing in there

[Page 2970]

that says anything about the suicides, about the questions of the problems there that that resolution was pertaining to.

My question to the minister, Mr. Speaker. In the report that we saw that was released last week, the Kutcher-Kusumaker report that indicated that there were serious problems with the way, in particular, three suicide victims were treated, will the minister follow the will of the House and call on the Minister of Justice to establish a full, independent public inquiry into mental health services in Cape Breton?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I might caution the honourable member, however innocently, he was mildly, factually careless in his preamble. I did not indicate that I would review this question and consider this question after the Perez report was completed. It has been completed, we received it, we released it, so that Perez report is done and publicly released.

The honourable member should understand the process here. Yes, the Perez report had to do with the mental health operations generally, whereas Dr. Kutcher's report dealt specifically with cases and how those cases were handled in a given circumstance.

What I have said is that we have received the Perez report; we are reviewing it within the department; and we are discussing it with the health authorities in Cape Breton and prior to completion of that review and discussion, we would make no decision on a public inquiry.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, that is interesting news because we heard today, just about an hour ago, from the Cape Breton Regional Hospital who said that they haven't received the other report from Dr. Perez. In fact, Dr. Naqvi of the regional hospital wrote to Dr. Perez three weeks ago and asked him what the status was in that report and they have not heard anything more. If, in fact, it is the case that the minister has his report, perhaps he would like to advise the Cape Breton Regional Hospital and table that report in this House.

My first supplementary to the minister, the Kutcher-Kusumaker report revealed a couple of very disturbing things, one with respect to the White family. The White family had been suggesting that there was significant incompetence around the practice of the psychiatrists who attended to their son, Ronnie. The analysis of the two authors of this report said that it is not possible for the reviewers to determine which party is most correct in their interpretation of these events. The indication that they can't even come down either side in terms of a determination of whether there was problems with the way that service delivered indicates to me that there continues to be unanswered questions. Given the fact that there is further evidence, that there are unanswered questions here, will he not move quickly to ask the Minister of Justice to establish a full public inquiry into this issue?

[Page 2971]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I think the appropriate course of action is the one we have chosen to follow, to follow up on the Perez report which deals with the system in general. The specific cases have been dealt with in the Kutcher Report and we are going to consider our course of action along the lines that I have indicated.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let's just remember that this matter was first brought up a year ago in this House. We are talking about people who committed suicide over a year ago and this government continues to drag its heels, in terms of trying to answer some of the serious questions with respect to the delivery of mental health services in Cape Breton and in the Province of Nova Scotia. Given the issue that I just raised with respect to the Whites, given the problems that were raised in the report about Ms. Godin, the fact that, "It is the opinion of the reviewers there was a series of significant problems in the initial assessment and treatment of this case.". Surely, the minister has to agree that there is enough evidence for him to once and for all act and have these unanswered questions dealt with . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . with a full, independent, public inquiry into mental health services delivered at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital? Surely . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . after well beyond a year it is time for action.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, to suggest that nothing has happened, I think, is unfair and it is certainly not a balanced view. In fact, Dr. Perez has gone into that area, done a very professional and well-received report, it was thorough. It contained recommendations, specifically and those recommendations are being considered by the department.

In addition to that, there were specific inquiries involving certain cases by Dr. Kutcher. So there has been a great deal done in terms of investigation, both to the specific case and to the general operation of the system.

I think our first priority here is to ensure that there is an appropriate system in place there and that is why we are going to make the Perez report our first priority.

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

HEALTH: C.B. REG. HOSP.: WORKPLACE ILLNESS - ADDRESS

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. As the minister knows a growing number of the employees at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital have seen their health suffer. This is a result of the working environment there. They now

[Page 2972]

suffer from among other things, asthma, severe headaches and acute environmental sensitivities, effects that have not only put them in the hospital but have had a tremendous impact on the way they live their lives. My question to the Minister of Health is will he tell the House and the workers of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital what he has done or is doing to address the problems resulting from the workplace illnesses?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the honourable member but due to the noise I missed the first part of his question. I wonder if he might repeat it?

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I will try, this is the first time I have ever been accused of being too quiet but anyway. As the minister probably knows and should know, a growing number of the employees at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital are worried about their health and their health is suffering from a direct result of the working environment there. They now suffer from a number of things, including asthma, severe headaches and environmental sensitivities, effects which have not only put them in the hospital as clients themselves, but also have had a tremendous impact on the way they live their lives.

[1:15 p.m.]

My question for the minister is, will he tell this House and the workers of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital what he is doing to address this problem or what he plans to do to address this problem?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I have to remind the member that the administration of that hospital and the operation of that hospital are the responsibility of the board. But I can also indicate to him that I have had no direct evidence of the situations that he describes.

MR. MACLEOD: I know he would like to live in Cape Breton, but he does not. Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary is also to the Minister of Health. I think the minister would be quite aware of what took place in Camp Hill and what the workers went through there. They were finally, after a long period of time, given the treatment and the benefits necessary to make their transition from a life with environmental illness to a life that gives them some kind of a quality of life again. Many of the former employees of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital are in similar positions.

My question to the minister is, when he finds out, and I know he should know, about the problems with the illnesses that are taking place at this hospital because of the environmental problems that they are having there, I want to know from the minister if he will make sure that these workers get the same type of treatment and care that the workers at Camp Hill got?

[Page 2973]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the honourable member can help me with this and give me whatever information he has with respect to those specific workers and the illnesses that they suffer. I would certainly be prepared to discuss it with him further. I have to say that the administration of that facility, again, is directly the responsibility of the Cape Breton Regional Health Board.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate what the minister said and I certainly will take his advice and sit down with him to talk about this. My final supplementary would then go to the Minister of Labour. I wonder if this minister can tell me, specifically, what orders, if any, his department has issued to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital to correct this ongoing problem and, if he could, table all the reports, orders and the rest of the things involved, prepared by his staff, to address this issue? My understanding is that his department has been contacted by the people in the hospital and they would like to know what the results from his department have been.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry. I thought he was asking that question to the Minister of Health. I apologize. I was engaged in conversation here. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACLEOD: I am really disappointed, I thought they taught me better when I went to high school in St. Peter's on how to throw my voice across the room.

AN HON. MEMBER: They didn't keep you long, did they?

MR. MACLEOD: Not as long as you, because I could graduate. My final question, Mr. Speaker, is for the Minister of Labour. I wonder if the minister could tell this House, specifically, what orders, if any, his department has issued to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital to correct any ongoing problems they are having there and would he table any reports or documents that he has relating to this issue of the environmental illness and the complaints by the employees of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I will endeavour to find the information for the member and I will have it tabled.

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

NAT. RES. - SILVICULTURE FUNDING (GOV'T. [CAN.])

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. In response to a previous question on a sustainable forestry and, more especially, whether or not the minister would include various groups in any sustainable forestry

[Page 2974]

management program, the minister said that her solution to the problem would be to close down mills. In fact, she said, what mills do you want me to close down in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley? Well, I find an answer of that nature disrespectful and repugnant. The minister should be advised that silviculture treatments, pre-commercial thinning, planting and plantation cleaning and things of that nature work much better than just going around closing down sawmills, something she can't do anyway.

Mr. Speaker, this past year the federal government, through the Human Resources Development (Canada) Fund, provided a $25 million program for the Atlantic Provinces, relative to such treatments as pre-commercial thinning and silviculture treatments. Why didn't the Government of Nova Scotia make application for some of those funds?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is taking for granted that the Government of Nova Scotia has not made application to the federal government for any kind of funding. I think the member opposite also should take a look at New Brunswick and see what, in fact, did happen when they did apply for that funding and what use it was put to.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you very much for that very illuminating response. Mr. Speaker, I did take time, in fact, to check with the New Brunswick Government and found out that they were able to receive, if you will, $6 million for silviculture treatments in that province. Yet in the Province of Nova Scotia, from time to members will get up and that very member there will say we have no money to do this, we have no money to do that. This was a federal program; it wasn't a co-operative agreement, it was federal dollars. Why didn't the Government of Nova Scotia make application to be part of that program, to ensure that our resource sustains?

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite would remember the budget discussions, if he looked at the Budget Book, we did provide funding this year for silviculture in the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. TAYLOR: I have a document here that says New Brunswick, out of their provincial budget, also provided funding for silviculture. In fact, they provided $10 million for a hardwood initiative and $6 million for softwood programs. So at least the New Brunswick Government had the wherewithal and the conviction to go after the federal government. A spokesman, Mr. Speaker (Interruptions) I don't know why you don't have the wherewithal. Why don't you have the wherewithal?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has the floor.

[Page 2975]

MR. TAYLOR: A spokesperson in the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources has indicated that the Department of Community Services is handling this issue because it is a federal employment measure. I appreciate this fact, Mr. Speaker, but I also believe that the Minister of Natural Resources should be directly responsible relative to forestry initiatives.

Now my question to the minister is simply this, when are this minister and her department going to make application for funds out of the Job Transition Fund made available by Human Resources Canada?

MRS. NORRIE: The member opposite is taking for granted that that has not happened. Indeed, this Department of Natural Resources and this minister have, indeed, made representation and made application to the federal government for assistance in this regard. We are also working, as I stated earlier, with a coalition of forest interests to help cost share us in this silviculture, so we have something sustainable, long term, for the betterment of the forestry here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

ENVIRON. - VG HOSPITAL:

MEDICAL WASTE INCINERATOR - EMISSION STANDARDS

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. The minister will be well aware of communication and correspondence and dialogue back and forth between himself and myself and between himself and the Ward One Residents' Association, an organization in my constituency, about very real difficulties being experienced with the emissions from the Victoria General Hospital biomedical waste incinerator.

I am going to table a package of documents, all of which the minister will be familiar with. I asked this minister for information about the emissions from that biomedical waste incinerator back in March of this year, which is quite a few months now, nine months or so or whatever it is. In May I was given an update document by the minister, advising that modifications were going to be made, because he acknowledged there were problems. In May the minister promised me stack emission result reports. I haven't gotten any of these things.

In August the minister confirmed more problems and said that a work plan was to be done by May 1997 and I was promised progress reports on the remediation that had to be done and I was promised a copy of the alternate disposal plan which had to be approved on or before December 31, 1996. My question, as I table these documents, to the minister is pure and simple, will he tell me why it is that he has not honoured his commitment and promise he made to me in correspondence, that I would be in receipt of the progress reports and the alternate disposal plan document as he had promised many months ago? Why did I not get them?

[Page 2976]

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, I do recall that we have supplied most of the material that he asked for, including the current status whereby the two departments, the Department of Transportation and Public Works is working with officials in the Department of the Environment in making sure that the new refit of that incinerator will meet CCME standards - that's the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment standards - for emission controls.

We had set some guidelines and deadlines through the process and my officials are updating me on a regular basis, although I must admit that we have not had an update in the recent past 30 to 45 days, but when we get that we will do what we have done in the past and that is to supply it to the honourable member who has requested that. I made that commitment and I will maintain the commitment, Mr. Speaker.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, well, those are nice words from the Minister of the Environment, but they don't come within a mile of either honouring the commitment that he made or stating what, in fact, had been agreed between us and, more to the point, undertaken by him.

I ask the minister, if I may by way of supplementary, Mr. Speaker, could the minister please explain to me why it would be necessary for me to write to him on October 29th, as I did and the document has been tabled, and in that letter to the Minister of the Environment on October 29th, I said to him, "You had earlier indicated to me that the monthly progress reports were to be submitted beginning in August of this year and, to date, I have not received copies of any such progress reports.".

I haven't gotten any such reports, Mr. Speaker. They were promised to me; I was told that they were going to be begun in August. I wrote this letter in October, I hadn't gotten any then. It is now December, I still haven't gotten any. I ask the Minister of the Environment to tell me, straight up, why have I not gotten the progress reports which he promised?

MR. ADAMS: I think I said in the first answer that I would undertake to find out where the material was he didn't have, but I do know that he has some correspondence from me. I will review the whole issue (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The minister has the floor.

MR. ADAMS: I don't think the volume helps to get them any faster, it is a matter of material being written and delivered and reviewed by individuals and then delivered. Then that process will take place as I said it would. (Applause)

MR. DONAHOE: I am delighted that your backbench colleagues think that the answer that you just gave me makes some sense. I happen to believe that it does not.

[Page 2977]

We are not talking about an exchange of information and correspondence, we are talking, Mr. Minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, about the documents that the minister promised to provide me. I want them because the constituents in my constituency who live in close proximity to the biomedical waste incinerator at the Victoria General Hospital are very concerned and this minister knows it.

I want to ask this minister by way of final supplementary. (Interruption) Isn't it interesting, Mr. Speaker, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question please.

MR. DONAHOE: . . . the old adage is so true that empty barrels make so much noise, isn't it so true? It is unbelievable. It is absolutely true. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Question please.

MR. DONAHOE: Absolutely true.

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

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. DONAHOE: I ask through you to the Minister of the Environment if he will, upon completion of Question Period today, make enquiry of his officials and ask them to provide to him for the purpose of tabling before we close business today, any progress reports - and I underline the words progress reports - which have been done on the VG biomedical waste incinerator. I would accept a document tabled which says there are no such reports. If, in fact, when he makes that enquiry, if they are available, would he table them before the end of the day? If his officials tell him they are not available, I tell him now that I accept a statement from him that there are no such reports. Would he make that undertaking to me now?

MR. ADAMS: I now recognize why we had such a volume of noise - the barrel was empty. I will endeavour to fill the barrel, Mr. Speaker. I will find out where the reports are and when they are ready they will be delivered.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - REG. SCHOOL BD. (SW): FOREIGN STUDENTS - TUITION

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Education and Culture. I discovered that the Southwest Regional School Board has announced that it will sell places to foreign students in three high schools at an annual tuition

[Page 2978]

per student of $10,000. My question for the minister is, is this the government's solution to its underfunding of education in this province?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: I welcome the question. I trust that the member opposite in terms of the phrasing of this question is not in any way suggesting that international students are not welcome in our province, either at our universities or at our public schools, because in fact that has been going on for some time. I would hope that the member opposite appreciates the importance of international relations of students that are welcomed to our province and to the many immigrants who come here as well. I trust that is the basis for her question today, Mr. Speaker.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I further understand that the province is going to get 20 per cent from each of these $10,000 tuition fees. I would like to ask the minister what the government expects to make in profit from its new sales plan for education?

MR. HARRISON: The only profit the province is interested in, Mr. Speaker, is that our young people profit from the highest quality of education in this nation. That is the only profit.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pride not only when I heard on the radio the other day about the Coady Institute and the fact that students from all over the world were welcomed home to St. F.X. and to what is really the heart of St. F.X., the Coady Institute. The alumni branches extend all over the world. I would remind the member opposite that the lobster being caught in Barrington Passage today within about 18 to 24 hours will be consumed by customers in restaurants in South Korea. Perhaps the member opposite would like to realize that in this global world, Mr. Speaker, we have some wonderful traders, some wonderful exporters and people who welcome people from all over the world to Nova Scotia. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I would say that by not answering the question the honourable member has certainly answered my question, in that he views education in terms of marketing. What I would like to ask him now, although he has not answered either of my first two questions, will the government deduct its 20 per cent profit from its future grants to school boards?

MR. HARRISON: In fact she is right. She is saying that this minister is interested in marketing the education of Nova Scotia.

[Page 2979]

Mr. Speaker, the primary reason why companies - and I think the former Leader of the Third Party said it this morning - the primary reason for the announcement the other day, in his view, was not necessarily some of the incentives provided that company, Mentor, but in fact the quality of our workforce. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order.

MR. HARRISON: What we are attempting to do here, Mr. Speaker, is make sure that we market the quality of education in this province, in our universities, in our community colleges, in our workplace programs and in our public schools. We will not stop marketing the quality of Nova Scotia education.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

ENVIRON. - WEYMOUTH: SEWAGE TREATMENT - PERMIT

MR. JOHN LEEFE: My question is for the Minister of the Environment. The Digby Municipal Board of Health in March 1994 passed a motion to build a primary sewage treatment facility in Weymouth. Consequently, the municipality put on hold all Section 39 requests, effectively holding in abeyance any development in the Weymouth core. It is now December 1996, 33 months since that decision was taken by Digby Municipality, and still no permit has been issued thereby preventing any development in the Weymouth core. I wonder if the minister could advise the House and the Municipality of Digby and the citizens of Weymouth, through the House, why this process is taking so inordinately long?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will take that question on advisement, and I will get back to the House and to the member and to all concerned with the details.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I will table this letter that was forwarded to me from the Municipality of Digby. In October 1966 the Municipality of Digby requested to meet with the minister in order to try to resolve this outstanding matter which is of vital concern to the municipality generally and, of course, to Weymouth in particular. I wonder if the minister could advise why he did not agree to meet with those municipal officials from Digby?

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the honourable minister, was the honourable member indicating that that letter was dated 1966 or 1996?

MR. LEEFE: In 1996.

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, in compliance with the first answer, I will look into the whole question, the whole issue, and get those details for him. I do not recall at the outset the details.

[Page 2980]

MR. LEEFE: My honourable friend doesn't remember the project and doesn't remember the request for the meeting; let's see if we do any better on the final supplementary.

In the absence of a meeting with the minister, Digby officials met with Nova Scotia Department of the Environment officials on October 22, 1996, yet still - and we are now in December - the necessary permits have not been issued. My question to the minister is, will he today direct his officials to make resolving the issue of a sewage treatment plant in Weymouth a priority, so Weymouth can once again seek economic development of its core area?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will certainly establish a status and report accordingly.

MR. SPEAKER: We have approximately one minute left.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

ERA: N.S.-P.E.I. FIXED LINK - RAMIFICATIONS

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. As everybody knows, the last large piece was put in the fixed link a couple of weeks ago and that link will be in operation next year. My question to the minister is, the Northumberland Ferries and some other groups in the county did a study recently which was just released, and I wonder if the minister read that study?

HON. RICHARD MANN: I can't recall reading the study and I think I would recall that if I had, but I can tell the honourable member that I have my staff working to look at the ramifications of the fixed link and how we may, as a province, take advantage of what many consider will be increased traffic to P.E.I. and how we might, with extra marketing and extra initiatives, take advantage of that.

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

Before moving to Government Business, I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the late debate, and the honourable member for Kings North will debate at 6:00 p.m. this evening:

Therefore be it resolved that the Economic Renewal Agency take action to ensure that the Caribou to Wood Islands Ferry is promoted.

[Page 2981]

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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 member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak against Resolution No. 921 and before I begin, I should ask the honourable Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency if he can hear me all right, because I wouldn't want him to miss a golden moment. (Laughter)

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. I can tell the honourable member that it is still not as clear as I would like it to be, but I do have a cold so that may be part of the problem. I am hanging on every word; I am clinging to my desk and glued to the seat of my chair, listening to every word she has to say. (Applause)

MS. O'CONNELL: Madam Speaker, when the House rose on Tuesday evening, I was speaking against this resolution for a short time and have the good fortune this afternoon to continue to speak about it.

I noticed the other night, when I was beginning my remarks and said so to the House, that I began my remarks with some trepidation, Madam Speaker, because it was the end of the day and members were tired. I felt that the atmosphere, if you like, of the House on Tuesday night was fairly indicative of what happens when members work very long hours. I just wanted to mention that because I think that we, ourselves, have indicated to the government, all of us, some of the effects that will take place from the passing of this resolution.

That resolution, as I recall - and I just want to recap - says that the government, with its majority, can amend, change - whatever you want to call it - the Rules of this House and this debate, and it can do it with no notice and no amendments allowed. Madam Speaker, I

[Page 2982]

tried to address that in a reasonable way on Tuesday night and I did it by talking about the time of year, partly, as such that even the most public spirited of citizens are preoccupied. The irony of this resolution has to do with what they are preoccupied with.

The members of the government side seem to want to rush through something without fair and full public consultation, so that they can get to their families, get to the church, get to the mall, get to the Christmas concert, whatever it is that they do in their personal lives during the Christmas season. At the very time, Madam Speaker, that they are rushing this through so they can retreat to the personal, they are saying to the people of this province, if you want to have a say, you must do it at our convenience, which is inconvenient to you and which will draw you from your obligations and your concerns at this time of year.

Madam Speaker, I also talked, a little bit abstractly perhaps, about my notions of what our job is as citizens. I contrasted that to the world of the market place and consumerism. I just want to recap it so that I am clear about what I am saying here today.

What I said the other night was, the world today is regressing or altering - use whatever words you want - into some kind of a market place philosophy. It is not only true that the market is in the market place where it belongs and where it should be, but market place philosophies are encroaching upon other spheres of life. We are becoming, in this increasingly marketed, packaged, promoted world, passive consumers of our culture. I talked about the difference about being a consumer and a citizen, and I want to talk very briefly about that again because it points to the difference between each one of us as individuals and each one of us together is what you might call a collectivity or a group of people collectively working together.

[1:45 p.m.]

The world of the market place works like this, each one of us is an individual and in the world of the market place each one of us is a deficient individual. What marketers do to us is they show us our deficiencies and they take away from us, in the world of the television advertisement or the magazine advertisement or the mall promotion or even in the market place of ideas, they take away from us what one of my students used to call our self-esteem, and they offer to give our self-esteem back to us at a price. We watch the television, we read the newspaper, we read the magazines and we find out that we are too fat, too tall, too thin, too stinky or any other form of deficiency, or that in order to live we need to have a broker, a better car or anything else at all.

What the world of marketing and consumerism does to us is it offers to correct those deficiencies and it does that by selling us products that will give us back our self-esteem. In the world of the market place we are individuals, we operate separately. We go to the mall and we shop for ourselves, we watch television alone or in small groups, we read a magazine by ourselves. It seldom happens, though once in a while, the world of the market place finds

[Page 2983]

itself surrounded by a collectivity of citizens, a group of people who say enough is enough in the world of the market place. A recent example of that would have been the public outcry when negative option billing was proposed by cable companies in the West and Central Canada.

In contrast to that individual destructiveness of the constant deficiencies of individual people, we have and have had for several thousand years in this world the power of citizens collectively. In a democracy, citizens work together to resolve problems and to find the best possible solution for the citizens who are struggling with a problem for the public good. Now, that is a very different thing from the market place. In the market place we are restricted. As citizens we can open our minds to the widest possible range of options and considerations and we can debate, discuss and come together to the best solution for all. I want to tell a story on myself, which I have no problem doing, because it describes perfectly the limitation and the exigencies of the market place.

I was born with very big feet, and from the time I was born my feet were bigger than other children's feet; by the time I was in Grade 5, my age and my shoe size were the same. Now I want to talk to you about the limited resources available to 10 year old children who have adult-sized feet, particularly in a small town some years ago when the average foot size was a great deal smaller than it is today.

I used to go out to shop with my father, there were two shoe stores, both of them trying hard to make a decent living and I am sure a small profit in a small town. Because of the market place, either large size children's shoes were not available to them or, if they were, it wasn't profitable for the shoe stores in my town to take them in as inventory and to hold them on the shelf to try to sell them.

Now we used to go to these stores, my father and I, and when it was clear that the children's shoes would not fit and that the women's shoes were totally inappropriate - in my own view today totally inappropriate for anybody but certainly they were inappropriate for a child in Grade 5 or Grade 6 - my father would quietly ask the salesman, do you have any boy's shoes that would look all right? I would cry all the way home.

Now, Madam Speaker, I want to assure the House that I have long since recovered from this trauma. The market place has expanded its power and reach in the sense that it is not just the limitations on products, in fact it is the very opposite of limitations on products today. What happens today is we have so many products, so much marketing, so much promotion that the children we raise have a hard time choosing among a whole range of options.

The joke is on us, Madam Speaker, because here is what modern marketing does. I have trouble getting a pair of shoes. You don't have any trouble getting a pair of jeans today but today buying a pair of jeans to express your individuality, which is the promise of

[Page 2984]

consumerism, what you do is you buy from a company that makes 5 million pairs of the same jeans, ships them to the country and lets you pick, so you can express your individuality.

Madam Speaker, what I am saying here is this, all that is by way of contrast to the necessity here for some kind of collective action in the culture. That is why I am speaking against this resolution, because what we are talking about here is one of the last refuges in our culture, this House and maybe schools, but this House may be one of the last refuges of the kind of give-and-take and debate that is so necessary in a society.

Now, Madam Speaker, I had two contrasting experiences very recently that also illustrate this need and this importance. You all know that the Bank of Montreal announced a profit of $1.7 billion recently, and you probably all know, if you read the paper or watch television, that the latest round of advertising for the Bank of Montreal indicates that an icon, a non-conformist icon from the 1960's, Bob Dylan, has sold his song to the Bank of Montreal, in terms of profit. There were debates on this on television and the radio and comments in the paper as people expressed their discouragement that this icon would sell out.

At the same time, there is genuine debate and discussion going on in this culture. Madam Speaker, I went to the Peninsula Community Council meeting last night in Halifax. There I saw an exercise in citizen democracy - everyone had a voice, everyone was heard and everyone went away feeling that they had made some contribution.

Now, Madam Speaker, I mentioned this book the other day, John Ralston Saul's The Unconscious Civilization, and I did want to just read a very brief passage from it which indicates what happens for the good of us all when a citizen gets involved. He says, we know exactly what does happen when a citizen participates. We have known since the rise of juries in the early Middle Ages, in the process of seeking agreement among themselves, those disinterested, unrelated groups of 12 usually discover within themselves a mixture of strengths through the various human qualities.

Madam Speaker, I speak against the resolution because I am talking about our role as a citizen, our roles as representatives of citizens here. We come here from constituencies. We come here bringing what people want us to tell and to say. We go out and we seek election and, once elected, we come here and we represent people and their voices, because each and every one of them cannot come down here and speak for him or herself.

I want to tell you where I was on May 17th and I want to tell you why. I want to tell you what people said to me then because, Madam Speaker, I promised them that I would. It is about participation and it is about debate. On May 17th, when this government brought in its document on the BST, I was somewhere up at the top of Fairview - Rosedale or Sunnybrae, I cannot remember which. People there were saying this, or some version of this. They were saying, I have a job, but my wages are cut. Or, I don't have a job, I have been downsized, I have been restructured. Or, I am retired, I worked hard all my life. Then they

[Page 2985]

said, I have a family. I have raised a family. I am raising a family. I have elderly parents that I am taking care of. They said things like, we care about education, we put our children through the system or we have grandchildren in the system or we don't have children in the system, but we still care about the system. We work hard in our communities. We are responsible citizens and we pay our taxes and we don't lie about it.

What do they want from us in this place, Madam Speaker? This is what they asked me to say here. They don't want us to stand up and go to them and say, I will give you the moon. If you vote for me, you can have the moon, and then afterwards say, oh, sorry, it is not in my power to give you the moon. What they want is for people to say honestly, this is what I will do. I will represent you, I will speak for you. I will not make any promises that I cannot keep and if I fail, I will come back and be accountable to you.

Madam Speaker, if we limit the kind of discussion that is so necessary by passing this resolution, we are going to see even more of what is going on right now because this process is more and more being buttressed by other responses. Citizens don't just sit there and take it when things are shut down on them. What happens is that we get call-in shows, petitions, tapes tabled in the Legislature, protests, toll-free lines. We get all kinds of things going on because people are trying to find their voice and they cannot find it through their own representatives.

Madam Speaker, I want to say that I think we have to look at our role as citizens who must speak up, who must oppose the silencing of discussion and debate. I think it is our obligation to do that and here we are standing and saying, yes, it is our obligation to do that. What recourse do we have but to stand up here and fill as much time as we are allowed to do in order to send that message to the government and to indicate to the people we represent that this is all we can do in this circumstance?

Madam Speaker, people are not market forces. People are not economic indicators. People are not the widgets of the economics textbook. People are not polling data. People are people and citizens and people have a right to their say and when they say it we should listen, and that includes not just the Opposition members but the government. We need the government to listen to the people on this tax bill. That is why we need to have open debate and discussion. We need to talk about it and we need people to be able to come and say to their government, at a reasonably convenient time, this is a bad bill for my family, for my neighbours and for my friends.

[2:00 p.m.]

Let's look at a process whereby people can look at the outcomes, where the government can explain, instead of packaging and marketing and spinning, what it is they are trying to sell us. Let the government listen to the voters, let them listen to the Opposition and let them say, we don't have to be right about everything; there may be another way here.

[Page 2986]

I would urge the members on both sides of the House to address the duties that we have as representatives, to address the notion that we are a body politic, we are a civic group, we are civil society, and to let the people have their say. They will continue to say it and they will say it come the next election. But why should we put everybody through this misery? Let us debate and discuss for as long as is needed, so that we can come to some understanding. Is it such a novel idea that we all come to something which might benefit the people of this province? Madam Speaker, I ask the members, through you today, to consider this notion, to consider perhaps this naive understanding which I think is significant.

I just want to end by once again referring to John Ralston Saul. He quotes Sir Wilfrid Laurier - and Sir Wilfrid Laurier for those who don't know is the guy on the five dollar bill, that great public figure - who later in his life set in motion the process that would eventually bring all of the colonial empires to an end, stood up in the days immediately after the Métis Rebellion and the hanging of Louis Riel and he said - and he was talking about the people and their reaction to governments - "What is hateful . . . is not rebellion but the despotism which induces the rebellion; what is hateful is not rebels but the men, who, having the enjoyment of power, do not discharge the duties of power; they are the men who, having the power to redress wrongs, refuse to listen to the petitioners that are sent to them; they are the men who, when they are asked for a loaf, give us stone.". Thank you, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, I rise to speak on Resolution No. 921. I guess I have to go back and wonder why we are debating Resolution No. 921. I have had the privilege to represent Kings West since 1978. I recognize I am not the longest serving member in this Legislature, but I have served longer than the majority of individuals who have come to this House.

Over the years, as one learns to be a parliamentarian of some nature - others are more successful probably than I am, but - you do get to understand what the rules are all about and the precedents of the House are all about. One of the things is this government came to office with people who are very new to this Legislature and have no regard for the Legislature and the rules of this place or the precedents of this place. That has been shown by this government; it was shown in 1995 and it is shown again in 1996.

It is a sad day when you have a place like the Nova Scotia Legislature that has a lot of history and should demand a lot of respect from those of us who are fortunate enough to get elected to come here to sit. The group that came, led by the Premier, came here with no respect, with the idea that the rules and the precedents of this House were only a nuisance to them as a government. That to me is very disappointing.

[Page 2987]

I watched, in 1995, the Speaker rule that there would be a limit to the number of hours, and the motion was put without debate and the precedent was set by the Speaker of the day, not by what went on prior to that but what went on by the Speaker of the day. He was pressured by the government not to show respect and honour for this place but then to make a new ruling. The problem with that, Madam Speaker, is then a precedent has been set. A precedent has been set that we must all follow. The Premier talks about Michelin. Well, he does not know the rules very well or he would know what the rules were when we came in and dealt with Michelin. The rules were not the same as they are today. The rules were not changed in those days because it was allowed at that time to extend the hours of the House, a motion could be put. That was how the whole structure worked.

The problem is that this government fails to realize that great progress was made over the years by an all-Party committee that unanimously agreed to rule changes. I can remember these members sitting in the Opposition saying that the Opposition was constrained by the rules of the working of this Legislature. Now they take power and they forget very quickly and they then want to change it. Never mind that I as a member count anymore about the Rules of this House. I am not to count. I am not to even have a say, whether I am right or whether I am wrong, but at least my voice can be heard.

I have to go back to the people of Kings West when they ask me what is going on in the Legislature and why this government has a hammer over your head and why is this government doing those sorts of things, I say, well, I am sorry but as your elected representative I have no say any more in the rules that govern the very place that you elected me to go. That is a sad day, Madam Speaker, that I, as a member, have no input any more. Maybe some people do not see that as an infringement upon their rights and privileges as a member, but I happen to. I take great offence to that. I guess why I was quite disappointed, I have watched this government and we have had House Leaders who have operated this House for many years, I have watched the House Leader of this government say, look, we are not going to try to negotiate anything or work with the Opposition because you people do not want to work with us. Well, I happen to take offence to that.

I have had the honour and privilege of being Opposition House Leader for our Party in 1996. On occasion I have even gone to the Government House Leader saying, we can work together. You do not need to hold a hammer over our head or threaten us. Madam Speaker, you know if anyone wants to deal with you on any particular issue that the minute someone threatens you, your attitude changes. It is not the same. You do not think in the same rational way that you do when you think you are going into negotiations without somebody threatening you. I think we have lost that.

We have lost a lot of things in this Legislature that I have noticed happen since 1993. We have lost a trust. We have lost the kind of companionship and things that went on in this place and respect that I used to have respect for and understood. That is gone because the sincerity of many of the government members is that you are only a nuisance. You are just

[Page 2988]

an obstructionist to the government on what we are trying to do. You have no right, because you got elected to this House, to have an opinion. We have to squash that opinion and we have to squash the opinions of all those people who call you or talk to you. We have to make sure you are not allowed the latitude that you should have to bring those concerns forward.

Somebody might say, well, you know, there he is, the member from Kings West, he is always up and just filling in time and ranting and raving. Madam Speaker, there may have been occasions when I have done that but that basically is not my style. My style is to get up and try to produce an argument that I feel is legitimate, whatever the legislation is, whatever the resolution is. Maybe my perspective isn't what all members agree to and I appreciate that. We all have differences of opinion, but I do recognize and I do have respect for people who have differences of opinion and I understand that.

What we have here that was slapped upon us was very distasteful, in my view, as a person who came here thinking that we could run this place in a respected way. I have to say I have been very disappointed. I have great respect for the officials of this Legislature; I have great respect for the Clerks and the people who have served this Legislature. They have served this Legislature well, Madam Speaker. They have not only been talented people but I have a great deal of respect for them and I think all members do. I worry about where we are going with the kind of changes and things that occur when we are losing that kind of respect and the history we have.

What prompted this Resolution No. 921? Well, the House Leader said, well, the Opposition was going to do everything they could to hold up the legislation on the BST. You know, Madam Speaker, there are rules in this House, no matter whether you want to obstruct or not, you always, since I came here in 1978, you may want to obstruct but you obstruct it within the rules. What really bothered me about this is I came to this Legislature thinking that the rules would never be changed, unless we at least tried an all-Party committee to try to make this place work better.

Nothing works perfectly, we know we are in a changing world, we know that things have to change. Did I have an opportunity, Madam Speaker? No, I did not have an opportunity and neither did my colleagues because we were going to follow the rules and the government has put in closure or 20 hours of debate in Committee of the Whole House. That is even different than the Parliament of Canada, which has closure on particular pieces of legislation. We have closure on every piece of legislation. Imagine, we have closure on the helmet legislation; we have closure on every piece of legislation that this government introduces.

Now do they think, Madam Speaker, as a government that we are going to be obstructionist on this kind of legislation? As a matter of fact, I thought that this fall the Legislature worked in a manner where people were cooperating, not a manner where people said, hey, the hammer is over your head and you have to listen to me or you have no rights.

[Page 2989]

I really take offence to that and I hope more members would think about what has actually been done that has set a precedent in this House.

You can go back in the history of this House since the 1800's; never were rules brought in - regardless of whether you liked them or not - without an all-Party committee to bring in the rules, never. What this government has done is change the history and change democracy in this province, as no other government has, whether it was Liberal or Tory, for all of the years. Even Gerald Reagan recognized the fact in the 1970's. I know that the honourable member for Cumberland South, the Minister of Labour, was a member of that government, recognized that rules had to be changed. Did he do something like this, Madam Speaker? Not at all, he went and made sure there was an all-Party committee, made sure that members understood and had input into what kind of changes had to occur.

Now what has happened, Madam Speaker, and why I am concerned because this minister introduced Resolution No. 921, does that just apply to the BST legislation? No, it doesn't just apply to the legislation on the BST. What this resolution applies to is every piece of legislation, it applies to the sitting hours of this House, forever and a day. That is what I find offensive. I heard the Leader of the Opposition say that the Premier has to go, he has business in January and we can't be fooling around in this Legislature, the Premier has other business to do. Maybe he does, Madam Speaker, but does that mean forever and a day that, because the Premier has business somewhere in January and they have a majority, 40 members, that this Legislature, and the history of this Legislature, is going to change because of the Premier's schedule? I just cannot imagine. This Legislature is here for all members, not just for the Premier's schedule. Because he has a schedule in January, we cannot come back and finish? So what this motion does is to make sure, yes, we will sit until midnight. We may sit until midnight tomorrow and we will sit until midnight on Monday and we will sit until midnight on Tuesday until the Opposition is totally exhausted, totally finished and the hours are gone and then they will go on to the Law Amendments Committee.

[2:15 p.m.]

Madam Speaker, they said they brought this in for the BST. I don't believe that for a minute. They brought this in because now, forever and a day - Madam Speaker, you were part of a group that got elected and said the Legislature would sit twice a year - the government is finding that that is not what they want and, if they do, they don't want to be there very long. So if you don't want to be there very long, you invoke these kind of rules and when we sit in the spring, we will not be here very long because we will sit 16 hours a day on any legislation, be it the Throne Speech, be it anything else. That is what this rule does. That means that when I come in here in the spring, I have got to come in here prepared to sit 12 or 16 hours a day.

[Page 2990]

The only thing that rule does not do, it doesn't allow Saturday and Sunday and I am surprised they did not change that, too. It does not allow Christmas Day, but it does change the hours of the sitting every day, forever and a day after, that this motion is passed. I wonder if the members really understand that they are voting on an amendment on a resolution that does not just affect the BST legislation. Because I am sure some members were told that this is what we have got to do to pass this legislation because they are going to oppose. But once that is passed, we still have that resolution governing us forever and a day like we had the last resolution governing us for the 20 hours in committee. I say, Madam Speaker, that that is arrogance at its best. That is contempt for this House and for those that are elected, at its best. This government has no consideration for the rights and privileges of people like myself or other Opposition members of this Legislature.

Madam Speaker, history is a strange thing. We can go back and look at history. But most of us have a little difficulty in reading the future. We all make predictions about the future and if we predict enough, I suppose, sometimes, we will be right. But it is like the old saying, what goes around, comes around. I expect there will be a day when some of those people, not all of them, may sit in Opposition. When the government says, we are going to go in at 8:00 a.m. and we are going to get out at 12:00 a.m. They will say, my gosh. That is not right. That is not fair. But when they are sitting over there, they see it as fair.

I think, Madam Speaker, what we are talking about is fairness. I am just surprised that the House Leader, I suppose directed by the Premier, has said, never mind fairness anymore, ladies and gentlemen. We are not in a game that is fair. A lot of people mistrust politicians. A lot of people don't believe politicians and we all have our own selves to blame, all of us. We all say, how could we improve our image as politicians. Well, we sure cannot prove it by doing the kind of things that we are doing here in this Legislature right now. That does nothing for the image of politicians. As a matter of fact, it is a black day for politicians. When people make a commitment for no new taxes or no new nothing and they do not keep it, people have mistrust.

Here we have a situation, you know it is almost like you are into a game. I know that some members in here are sports-minded like myself. You go off with your team and you know the rules. There are times you go off with your team, Madam Speaker, and you know you are playing a team that is superior, maybe in size, maybe in skill. Here, as Opposition, we know we are playing with a team that has superior size, superior numbers. So if you have a larger number, you know you are going to win the game; you understand that, you know you are going to win the game.

We came to this Legislature knowing that this government could pass whatever they wanted to pass because they have the numbers to pass it. What we didn't know was that they were going to change the rules in the middle of the game and the referee was going to side with the home-town group, because they couldn't win fast enough to accommodate the Premier's schedule, wherever he is going to travel.

[Page 2991]

You know, Madam Speaker, that is a contempt of this House - the Premier has a right to this House - but so do we all; we all have a right to the process that we have known for hundreds of years in this Legislature. I feel that we, as legislators, ought to think about that analysis that I just described.

I would say, Madam Speaker, if you look at all the rule changes that occurred in the different years since I was here, one thing that the previous government did was set up a select committee to review the rules, and after that we had an all-Party Committee that looked at the rules. We changed the rules in 1980, we changed them in 1981, 1983, 1984, 1986 and 1990 and completed them on September 14, 1993. When this government came to power they brought in the latest rule change that was worked on by an all-Party committee prior to the election of 1993.

I thought this government somewhere along the line - and I used to hear members of the Legislature, especially the backbenchers and the role of a backbencher is very difficult, and there is not an opportunity in this government to have that much opportunity to have input and to speak . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: If they disagree, what happens to them?

MR. MOODY: Well, we saw what happened to one member who disagreed, he was thrown out of the caucus. So there is no freedom.

I understand why some of these members would say well, the rules are not such that I, as a backbencher, can function, so maybe we ought to look at how this House functions and how it works.

You know, Madam Speaker, of all the rule changes that have occurred, every committee looked at other Legislatures across the country, they looked at the House of Commons, they looked at the rule changes and how procedures worked there, so that when rule changes were made - and they looked at precedents - they were made, obviously, with research and, obviously, with respect.

When we had Resolution No. 921 thrust upon us, it wasn't done in that manner, it wasn't done in a way that any kind of research was done on how rule changes occur. I am quite hurt, as a member, at how this happened.

AN HON. MEMBER: Should be offended.

MR. MOODY: Yes, and offended.

[Page 2992]

I am beginning to believe, and I think this is happening throughout Nova Scotia as I talk to Nova Scotians, democracy is a funny thing. I have heard people talk about democracy and I always say to them, when they complain about democracy, that unless there is a better form to run a country that is free than the kind of democracy we have, it is not perfect but it is one of the better systems, we have to understand that. What I am hearing all of a sudden from Nova Scotians is that others' opinions don't count anymore and if you have an opinion the government will find a way to shut it off. There will not be allowed the kind of input that they think democracy should have.

Democracy is about allowing freedom of speech. It is about making sure that the rights and privileges of all members are followed and allowed to happen. Democracy is about people from your community and my community being able to freely voice their opinion. Yes, governments do have their own agenda but don't people count anymore? Don't people mean anything anymore? I am beginning to hear people say why bother going to vote? We don't count anyway, people aren't listening, people don't care when I raise a concern, nothing changes, nothing happens. When the government gets an agenda, it is straight ahead and it is not going to go here, it is not going to go there, it is going to go this way.

Those that represent us, after they got elected, feel that opinions don't count. When they were pounding on the doors asking Mary or John for their vote, boy, their opinion counted then, their opinion meant a whole lot. They wanted to know what they could do and how they could do it best for this province. I believe that all 52 members that ran and got elected came to this Legislature with the very best of intentions, wanting to represent the people that sent them here, wanting to make sure that the views of those that elected them got heard and that they took part in a democratic process that allowed change that made Nova Scotia a better place to live and a better place for today, tomorrow and thereafter. Something happened in that period of time.

One of the good things about democracy and the one thing that I like about democracy that so far hasn't been changed - but I may hear it yet, I have been hearing things about change - is that we may not have an election in 1998. They may decide that elections aren't for Nova Scotians, that we wouldn't have elections. Maybe we are going to get a resolution similar to this one that says we are going to outlaw elections or we are not going to have them every five years, we are going to have them every 10 years because the Premier wants to rule and he hasn't finished his agenda.

One of the good things about democracy is that within the present rules - and I can't really know what the rules are going to be from one day to the next with this government because they don't mean anything anymore - within five years of the election of 1993, I will have the opportunity to go again to the voters of Kings West, as everybody else will in their constituency, and will stand up for election again to come to this Nova Scotia Legislature. That is what democracy is all about.

[Page 2993]

Now do the people care when we get here whether we have an opportunity or not to bring their views forward? Maybe that is a question we can ask on the doorsteps when we go around, maybe that is what we should ask. I understand that all Nova Scotians do not understand totally the workings of this Legislature. Probably when many members got elected they didn't understand the workings of this Legislature. Maybe you had never been in this place before, as I hadn't. Probably when they got elected they hadn't read the rules, they probably weren't aware of the precedents that had been set in this House or bothered to read or understand what took place in this House and the kind of history it had, or the importance of that.

I believe the day that this government takes away the importance of this Legislature, as part of democracy and the way it works, it is a sad day in this province a very sad day for what we fought for and felt was part of the democratic process.

[2:30 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: What did Joseph Howe stand for?

MR. MOODY: He stood for freedom of speech. We have his statue right outside. I have to, Madam Speaker, stay on my text. (Interruption) Resolution 921, I tried to move a point of privilege the day this resolution was introduced because I felt, and I still feel very strongly about this, that, in my opinion, my privileges, because of no opportunity to participate in a rule change that would affect me and how I operate in this Legislature, that there was not an opportunity. I could understand, maybe, the Government House Leader coming down with a hammer if he had tried to negotiate and talk to the Opposition and said, look, can we work on this thing? No.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, would the honourable member entertain a brief question? I am just wondering, because I know, as the House Leader for the New Democratic Party, nobody on the government benches approached me and asked if there was any opportunity or any way that we could get together and discuss a rule change. I am just wondering if there was any approach made to the Official Opposition about trying to work in a cooperative way to resolve the issues before they brought in the hammer?

MR. MOODY: No, Madam Speaker, nobody approached us. The government still says they are going to do everything within their power to stop it; yes, within the rules. The member forgets that we do have rules that he has disregard for, but that we all should have regard for in this House. If you understand that, yes, you can stand for something, but you must stand for that within the Rules and Forms of Procedures of this House. If we all understand that, and I understand that, but when somebody comes along without even any consultation, there have been times since I have been House Leader in the last year, that I have gone out of my way to go to the Government House Leader and say, look, we are going into a wrangle here and there has to be an opportunity for the Opposition and yourself to be

[Page 2994]

able to come out of this without being embarrassed, but let's stop this foolish wrangling and get on with the business.

I even did that on one occasion because I felt it was important that there try to be some cooperation across the two sides of the House. I really felt that and I really felt, as Opposition House Leader - and I have only been Opposition House Leader, Madam speaker, since 1996 - that that has occurred, that, on different occasions, I even took the initiative to say, let's try to work this thing out. I did not get that courtesy of someone coming to me and saying, is there an opportunity? The Government House Leader then, within his right, if he could not get any kind of cooperation, could go back and do what he felt he had to do.

Madam Speaker, what that says to me is that when somebody does that to me, it tells me there is no respect, that I, and I am sure others over here felt, that there was no respect. I took offence to that and I believe our world would be a much better place if one had respect and said, look, we will try consultation first. I don't think, whether you are in the Legislature or whether you are in business or whatever you are trying to negotiate, that once you try that process, then you have every right in the world, obviously, to do what you have to do to achieve what it is you want to achieve. I perfectly understand that and I recognize that. I might not like it, but I understand it and I respect it.

Madam Speaker, if that had occurred, I think we could have avoided some of the things that are going on here. I think the Party to my left and our Party recognize that the government has a majority. We recognize that they have a role to play and I think we have a role to play to bring the concerns of the people that talk to us to the floor of the Legislature. But when we bring those concerns here, we have to know that the rules will be fair, that when we start we will know what they are, and if they are changed, that we are part of that process.

Madam Speaker, I would have hoped that that process would have taken place. It did not, for whatever reason. I do not know. I happen to think that many people might say that I am hard to get along with. Maybe my wife, I am not sure. I honestly believe that I can be a fairly reasonable person if approached in a reasonable way and I will try my best to work a solution that will try to keep harmony.

AN HON. MEMBER: But you are more reasonable on that side than you were over here.

MR. MOODY: Maybe, and if I was, that could be. I guess it goes to say it is the role you may have to play. I think the honourable Minister of Health, who made that comment, recognizes that like himself I was more reasonable than others. I think he may be too. I think there is a sort of happy medium where you have to go. I respect that, but . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Madam Speaker, do you have any violins?

[Page 2995]

MADAM SPEAKER: The only violins I have are on my Christmas tree.

MR. MOODY: Well, Madam Speaker, I know that some of my colleagues may think that we are strumming a little violin but I think sometimes we do not say things that we do appreciate. There are some members of this House who, obviously, do cooperate more than others, who try to be more cordial. I understand that. That is human nature. That is what life is all about. I was hoping that we would come to the point in 1996 that we would not wipe out all the history of this Legislature because this government failed to realize that a little co-operation may have changed the history that we look back on. One of the things, as we go to the polls in either 1997 or 1998, I think this government will be remembered for is holding the hammer and changing the rules in midstream and not running a Legislature in a fair manner that recognizes the rights and privileges of the Opposition and all members of this House.

That is something this government has to live with as we go to the polls. Madam Speaker, I am not just sure when I heard the newly elected Speaker talk about the people of this province and respect and demand all their customs and rights and privileges and they still have freedom of speech in debate. Now, when that debate is closed, I think that my freedom has been taken from me. For some reason, the government feels I should not have all the rights and freedoms that we had when we started into this place.

There is a process that has evolved and a process that worries me, Madam Speaker. We have had two changes like this since this government came in. What is going to be the next change? Is it to be that the Opposition is going to have less time? Is it to be that Question Period is going to be 10 minutes a day? Is it going to be that we are not going to read resolutions? Maybe we will eliminate Law Amendments after this, if the government finds that that is too cumbersome. The way that this government is going, this Legislature will probably be nonexistent, even though they made the commitment that it would sit twice a year. When they said they had respect for this Legislature and it would sit twice a year and they made fun of a government that had it sit once. At least we did not break the rules. We never changed the rules. We recognized the precedents that were set in this Legislature and we honoured them forever and a day. We weren't heavy-handed. I challenge anyone to find in the history of this place where that happened because I know you cannot. I know exactly what has happened and I know what I am talking about.

Here we have a government that says, I am sorry but no more are those ways going to be protected.

AN HON. MEMBER: Actually they don't even say they are sorry.

MR. MOODY: No, actually they don't say they are sorry, Madam Speaker, they don't.

[Page 2996]

As we moved on to debate, I think one of the things that surprised me - well, it didn't surprise me - was when the House Leader introduced Resolution No. 921, he moved that the resolution be called now. So whether the resolution could be amended or not, it doesn't matter. It can't be amended because he made sure of that even though there might be some positive things that could have changed that resolution. It talks about the hours of sitting. Maybe we shouldn't have to come to work at 4:00 a.m., maybe we could have agreed on a reasonable time that we could start. Maybe it is 6:00 a.m., maybe it is 7:00 a.m, maybe it is 8:00 a.m. Then maybe we could have agreed on a reasonable time to end.

What the government decided was they can start any time and they can end whenever they want. I know the Minister of Community Services threatens me that they will start at 6:00 a.m., or whatever. Look, I am beyond being threatened by anybody. I come here to this Legislature as a member, with the same and rights and privileges as everyone, to do my job. If people are going to threaten me, there is nothing I can do about it. I have to live by whatever the rules are, but I would like an opportunity to say what is a reasonable time to start, Madam Speaker, if you look at the resolution.

I know there are people who would say that you should start early. Madam Speaker, it is not only the time we sit here. I know you know what other duties you have as an MLA. It is not just coming to the Legislature. When people say, well, you can sit 12 hours, as people do 12 hour shifts or 16 hour shifts. I think that sends out the message that none of us have anything else to do but come here for 12 or 16 hours. You know there are other duties that a member has to perform and all of us do perform them. There isn't one of us who can say we don't spend time, either in preparation for here, taking phone calls from constituents, doing correspondence from constituents, dealing with matters that are important to our constituents. All of us do that, every one of us, on both sides of the House. When you come here and spend 12 or 16 hours, I know for a fact and respect the fact that every one of you have other things to do that are associated with your job, every one of us. So why is it that we couldn't agree?

The Government House Leader said eight hours is not enough because we have to get this through before Christmas. Madam Speaker, again, what is reasonable? Maybe we could agree that it is 12, maybe we could agree that it is 10, maybe agree to 14. But you know we didn't even get that courtesy, we didn't get the courtesy of the House Leader saying that there is a time you could start and a time you could end. We don't have that courtesy, so that means it could be 20 hours, it could be 18.

Madam Speaker, how would you like to have a job and that is what your employer - you know if an employer of this province said, we are going to tell our employees to go to work at 6:00 a.m. and they are going to work until midnight, you wouldn't be long changing the law. You would say, well my gosh, that is a terrible way to treat those people. Did those workers have any input into whether they wanted or could or whether that is right or fair? No, you would say, we have to put in a law to stop that company because that is not right.

[Page 2997]

It is absolutely no different than what the House Leader is doing here. The House Leader then has no respect that any of us have anything else to do but say, this is where we are and if it is 18 hours, too bad boys, too bad. That is what I find distasteful about this whole process. So if you read the resolution, it clearly tells you that the House Leader will tell you when we start and also tell you when we stop.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Premier is the boss.

MR. MOODY: Well, he may be getting the directions from the Premier.

[2:45 p.m.]

I think, Madam Speaker, that somehow, and I would hope that some members of this House would recognize that, in some way, we could reasonably attack a problem and find a solution that is reasonable, that is fair.

AN HON. MEMBER: Would a House of Assembly committee be a good place?

MR. MOODY: I am not even sure why we have committees. When this government came to office it told me and told all members how important committees were. Madam Speaker, I believed them. Maybe I am gullible, maybe I am just a nice guy, but I did believe them. It is probably that I am not a nice guy, so it is probably that I was gullible. What happened, after we had been here a little while, I soon found out that the Community Services Committee that I sat on, and we spent a lot of time on and every member worked hard on, that recommended no casinos, boy, that did not last long. As far as the rules committee is concerned, that has been non-existent.

If you are going to recognize that this House has rules for a purpose, and maybe when you got here they did not fulfil the roles that you thought they should play. But do you know what, Madam Speaker, if they didn't, the government has the majority on every committee and then . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Three to one.

MR. MOODY: Three to one. So if they did not fulfil the roles that they should play, maybe there changes could occur where they could fill the roles that they could play. The one committee of this House that seems to function very well is the Public Accounts Committee. Who chairs that? An Opposition member. That committee seems to be functioning very well. It meets on a regular basis, all members support it, on all sides of the House. It functions very well. The roles have changed. (Interruption)

[Page 2998]

I am not going to get into that. If you look at the resolution and I looked at the resolution and the rules that it by-passes, as if the rules did not occur and I got my little Rule Book out and I thought to myself, why bother with a Rule Book now anymore because I don't know what rules are going to be by-passed by this government at any particular time. When it is suitable to this government that that little Rule Book that we all have, Madam Speaker, and we all think that is so important, is no longer any good now, it is not applicable any more, in many cases, because this government says, oh, no, oh, well, those were the rules at one time, but we are a new government so never mind the rules. As I looked at that resolution I was very disappointed at what happened and the whole process of how it happened.

I think you can back in history, Madam Speaker, and I am sure other members have looked at the history of this Legislature and those that went through rule changes, I am sure they have done the research, it is available in the library, and I am sure that they have come to the same conclusion that I have, that a precedent was set in 1995 and now another one in 1996. What that says to me is that I cannot believe this government anymore when they tell me that that little Rule Book you have applies.

Madam Speaker, you or the Speaker have quoted from that Rule Book from time to time. That has been your bible, your guide. When we all came here, we were given a copy and, as a matter of fact, a session was set up by your government so that everybody would familiarize themselves with the Rules of this Legislature; so that when they took their place here for the first time, they would understand the Rules of this Legislature and how it functioned. They probably were told, at that time, of how rules can be changed and how the process has worked for a couple of hundred years and how it has worked well. All of a sudden, that process is gone. History does not mean anything, precedent doesn't mean anything and we now have new rules.

Madam Speaker, if the government had come and said, look, we have to get this done before Christmas. We heard first the legislation wasn't being brought in and then the Government House Leader said, we have got to bring this resolution in because we have to get it done before Christmas because the Government of Canada has their legislation in. He could have said you are going to oppose this, we know that. We are going to change the rules just for this, because it is important to us. I wouldn't like it but I would say to myself, well, he is going to do it because this is one particular thing but he is not going to do it all of the time when we have every piece of legislation or every time the House sits. Then I go back and I think of the other change to the committee and I am thinking, this is not just for this legislation and I don't believe what the House Leader said when he said outside of this Legislature, that he is only doing this because he is going to pass the blended sales tax and he wants to do it before Christmas.

[Page 2999]

This rule will apply forever and a day that this House sits and it doesn't mean that all of a sudden at Christmas time when we all go home - hopefully by Christmas - and we will because the hours will allow us to get out of here and this will pass. What will happen when we come back here at any given time, that resolution applies and that probably offends me more than anything else as a legislator.

I have seen two permanent changes occur in this Legislature that are precedent setting and allowed to happen without the proper process taking place. I don't know if you go across Legislatures in this country that you would probably find anything like this ever happened before or will ever happen in any other Legislature like this again.

You have to understand why this happened. It happened because the Government House Leader was going to bully the rest of us and he was going to show us. As he said, where he is from - he comes from Cape Breton - you fight back. Where I come from in the Valley, you fight back according to the rules. You don't break the rules because you want to fight back; you fight fair, you fight clean; and that is how I grew up and that is what I stand for today. So if we do that, then we don't have to break the rules and we have an opportunity to fight back.

The government has an opportunity to speak on this legislation, to get their points of view across and I understand that, there are two sides of every issue. But when you fight back unfairly - and that is what they are doing - then I don't agree with that. I will never change my way as an individual. If I can't win a game fairly or I can't fight cleanly, then I won't fight. I am not going to fight unfairly just to win my cause. That is not how I was brought up and that is not how I am going to perform as a parliamentarian. I will do that as a parliamentarian, but I will do it within the rules of this Legislature and, yes, if I am brought to task by the Speaker, I recognize the Speaker and I will go back and follow the rules.

Here we have a government that says, we will fight back but we are not going to fight clean. Do you know what? They have a big majority, they could have fought clean, they could have had the respect of Nova Scotians. They could have done it in a way that people would have had that respect. They made the decision to pass a piece of legislation in a hurry. We were told it wasn't going to pass - I understand things change but, by golly, you know what I don't understand? It is how somebody can say, hey, they are going to oppose it, so now we are going to oppose it, but we are not going to fight clean, where I come from we don't fight clean, we kick under the table and we do this and we do that. Well that is just what is happening with this resolution, it is not done in a fair and honourable way.

I can understand why all members of the Opposition rise in this House and oppose Resolution No. 921; they oppose it from a principle point of view, from a fairness point of view and from a process that has been changed like nobody else has changed, probably in any Legislature across this country. So I am really disappointed that I am up here speaking on Resolution No. 921. I am really disappointed because I don't know what is next.

[Page 3000]

I do know that whenever the election is called, I will have an opportunity and the people of this province will have that opportunity to tell the government what it really thinks about how this government works and the contempt it holds, not only for Opposition members but for all people in this province.

As I said when I got up, Madam Speaker, I don't know all of the rationale behind Resolution No. 921. At no time did I have an opportunity to have a debate or discussion privately or non-privately in any manner with the House Leader to understand why this resolution was brought in the way it was. I have no prior knowledge of research or the rationale, other than I heard on the news that this legislation had to pass before Christmas. It had to pass because the Premier had to be away, I believe, in January. (Interruptions) Well, Madam Speaker, it may be nonsense but if somebody could stand up I would be willing to sit here and listen to anybody from the government side (Interruptions)

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MOODY: I would be prepared to listen to anybody on the government side who could stand up and give me the rationale and all the reasons why. I would be prepared to listen. I think I am a fair-minded person. I admit I have to go by press reports. I have to go by what I hear. Maybe it is not the fact but unless somebody gets up and gives me the facts, what am I to believe? I guess I am to believe what I hear outside and what I read in the press or hear on the TV or the radio. I have to take that, as I understand it that whatever those people are saying is the rationale.

If the government has another reason that we are not understanding, that yes, if you followed the old rules and you did not introduce Resolution No. 921, we would probably finish up in early January. That is when the whole process would probably end. Is there a reason, Madam Speaker, that the government does not want to debate such important legislation that is so good for Nova Scotians, they say? If it is so good for Nova Scotians, why wouldn't you want to debate it between now and the first week or so of January? Is that wrong?

If you have a good story to tell, you should never be afraid to debate it. If you have something to hide, then you shorten and compact it all so there is not an opportunity for you to get your story out. I am failing to understand why the old rules that we would have to follow if we oppose this legislation - knowing that there are only 20 hours allowed in committee so it cannot be held up forever there. We all know there is a limit to second reading. We all know there is a limit to third reading. What is it that was so bad that the rules we had did not allow us to debate such important legislation? Why is it that all of a sudden we have to debate this for 16 to 18 hours or have a hammer over our head that if we do not pass it within eight hours, that we are going to have to sit longer? What is it that has changed, Madam Speaker, that would make that process so important that we change?

[Page 3001]

I may be missing something. I understand why we are getting the legislation. What I do not understand is why the government wants to not allow the rules to be followed and proper debate to take place. They shortened up one area. If some member, and I plead with some member, could get up and explain to me the rationale of what I just described. Why we have to leave here before Christmas and this legislation has to be passed before Christmas? It does not come into law until April 1st so if it does not come into law until April 1st, why would it be wrong that it pass the first or second week of January? What would be wrong with allowing that democratic process to take place? Then we would not have had a government that thrust upon this rule that is so very offensive to me as a member, that breaks the precedence of this House. What would be wrong with that process taking place? I have heard members shout across at me, but I have not had an explanation.

[3:00 p.m.]

Now, if there is an explanation, I know that in reading in the newspaper, that the editorial board at the Halifax Chronicle-Herald does not understand the message. I know the Premier was up meeting with the editorial board, but they do not understand why the process could not take place as it normally would and we would pass it in January. They do not understand why the Government House Leader has to have a hammer and we have to pass this within a matter of days. They are not even doing that in the Parliament of Canada. They are not doing that in New Brunswick. They are not doing that in Newfoundland. What is it in Nova Scotia that is so different from the other two provinces, or the Parliament of Canada, that says that the rules have to be changed so that this legislation can be passed in a shorter period of time than any other Legislature or in the House of Commons?

I am trying to find out, as a rational individual and a reasonable person, what is different here. I may be missing something that is different here. I do not know. But I would ask that somebody inform me. How much time do I have left, Madam Speaker?

MADAM SPEAKER: You are down to about one minute and fifteen seconds.

MR. MOODY: Madam Speaker, I guess that I will take my seat, but as I take my seat, I would like to move adjournment of the debate.

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, yesterday there was a similar attempt to move adjournment in the middle of the debate on the resolution. I had some opportunity to look at both references, our own handbook of Rules and Forms and Procedure, as well as Beauchesne. Earlier today, we heard a speaker speaking on the rights and privileges of members to debate this resolution and to have their voice heard. Having looked at both those rule books, yesterday and again today, and speaking with the Clerks on this, I have come to the conclusion that adjourning the debate in the middle of the debate on the resolution, directly flies in the face of the rights and privileges of members to speak on this. We still have five more members to speak.

[Page 3002]

I would ask that you hear me out on this before you start shouting, no. Our Rule 42 deals with a general motion to adjourn and says ". . . no second motion to the same effect shall be made until after some intermediate proceedings. . .". The reference on the intermediate proceeding, when I go to Beauchesne, deals with intermediate proceedings and a motion to adjourn the House, not on a motion to adjourn the debate. We have decided this question on a motion yesterday and I am, therefore, ruling that the question to adjourn debate in the middle of this debate is not a question of adjourning at the ordinary time of adjournment and, therefore, it is becoming an obstructing tactic. It is not in order. I am ruling it as not in order. The House has already voted on this and it was the will of the House not to adjourn the debate on the resolution and that is my ruling. (Interruption)

Are there further speakers on the resolution? Are you speaking to the resolution, honourable member? Are there further speakers on the resolution?

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: On a point of order, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: It is a point of order, not a challenge to the Speaker's ruling, because my ruling is my ruling. If you are making a point of order of something else.

MR. CHISHOLM: Am I allowed to speak on a point of order in this House, Madam Speaker?

MADAM SPEAKER: Are you challenging the ruling of the Speaker?

MR. CHISHOLM: I am rising on a point of order.

MADAM SPEAKER: Make your point, member. (Interruptions)

MR. CHISHOLM: On a point of order, Madam Speaker, are you suggesting to me here that I cannot stand on a point of order?

MADAM SPEAKER: No, I did not suggest that at all.

MR. CHISHOLM: I don't understand.

MADAM SPEAKER: Are you making a point of order or are you challenging the Speaker's ruling?

MR. CHISHOLM: Are you threatening me not to challenge your ruling? That is what you just said.

MADAM SPEAKER: Are you deaf?

[Page 3003]

MR. CHISHOLM: No, I am not deaf. I am not deaf at all, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: You have the floor on a point of order.

MR. CHISHOLM: I am also trying to digest exactly what it is that is going on in these Chambers and I rise on my feet and I tried to be recognized on a point of order.

MADAM SPEAKER: You have been recognized honourable member, so make your point. You have been recognized.

MR. CHISHOLM: I want to seek some clarification from you, Madam Speaker, on the point that you made a moment ago.

MADAM SPEAKER: If your clarification is to challenge the ruling, my ruling is made and there is no challenge to the Speaker's ruling.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who taught you anything?

MADAM SPEAKER: Probably the same person that taught you. (Interruption)

MR. CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I am rising on a point of order. Madam Speaker, with respect to (Interruption)

MADAM SPEAKER: Do you have a point of order, honourable member, or are you challenging the Speaker's ruling?

MR. CHISHOLM: If we get some order in this House, if I can have an opportunity to express my point of order, I will do so. My point of order is that there appears to be two different sets of rules in this House. On the one hand, this government can shut down debate with a closure motion, as they did two days ago. On the other hand, when members of the Opposition try to introduce a motion to adjourn debate, which is clearly in the rules, then we are told that what we are trying to do is take away members' privileges to debate an issue, Madam Speaker.

Now what is it going to be? That is my question in this House. Are we going to take the rules and throw them out? Or are we going to deal with what we have here in the Rules and Forms of Procedure in this House and in Beauchesne in order to ensure that all members have a free and full opportunity to debate and to raise concerns and to take issue with the question being raised by other members? Madam Speaker, that is the point here.

What we are clearly seeing, by the efforts of this government, is closure in a whole host of forms. I believe that is wrong, Madam Speaker, that my privileges as a member of this House are being infringed upon because I am told that I have to take our own Rule Book and

[Page 3004]

basically throw it away because this government has an agenda. I want to understand why it is that two sets of rules are existing in this House, one set of rules being driven by this government and one set of rules that we are being asked to operate under here in the Opposition.

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, I am going to rule on your point of order. I do not consider it a point of order. I have made my ruling on this attempt to adjourn.

Are there further speakers on the resolution? I will recognize a further speaker on the resolution.

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of privilege.

MADAM SPEAKER: You have to give notice of a point of privilege, I understand.

MR. HOLM: No, you don't. Madam Speaker, people in this House rise and speak on points of privilege all the time. On points of order and points of privilege should be taken into consideration immediately. It is Rule 29(1). "Whenever any matter of privilege arises, it shall be taken into consideration immediately, but the Speaker may, if he thinks fit, delay giving his ruling on a question of privilege raised with him.". That should also be interpreted to say, of course, her, Madam Speaker.

I want to rise on a point of privilege. I have before me an order paper. It was placed on my desk today, as we have each and every day in this Chamber. It is the order of business for this House. We started off with Presenting and Reading Petitions; Presenting Reports of Committees; Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers; Statements by Minister; Government Notices of Motion; Introduction of Bills; Notices of Motion - and we had many, Madam Speaker. Then we had Oral Questions Put by Members. All of those items were business of this Chamber. We all took part in those business activities of the House of Assembly here in Nova Scotia.

According to the rules that we still have a book for - at least it is written down, whether they mean anything or not - the Rules of the House of Assembly state that you can only have an adjournment of debate motion once, unless there had been some intervening business. The House rose last night, the House came back today. We went through a full order of business, we had an entire day in between yesterday. I would suggest to you that if you are ruling that we cannot have a vote to adjourn this debate on the basis that we have not had any intervening business, that is an infringement on not only my privileges but every single member in this House. If that ruling stands, you might as well take the Rule Book and simply chuck it in the garbage because it is absolutely meaningless.

[Page 3005]

MADAM SPEAKER: I thank the honourable member for rising - you tried to rise on a point of privilege but I do consider that a point of order that you are making. It is very similar to the previous speaker.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. I fully understand that a ruling from the Chair can only be challenged by a notice of substantive motion and I want to assure you that in understanding that rule it is not my purpose in raising this point with you to challenge your decision. I am however trying to understand your decision and I am hoping that you may be able to clarify it for me and perhaps for any other members who may be unclear as to its precision.

It strikes me that the ruling which has just been made has this effect when made generally applicable in this place, as indeed all rules should be generally applicable, that a motion to adjourn the debate cannot be made by a member of the Opposition then surely it must be that a motion to adjourn the debate can neither be made by a member of the government side of the House. That consistency in place, it strikes me that excepting the debate being curtailed by the hours running out at the end of the day that there is no opportunity provided, for example, the Government House Leader at any time to move a motion to adjourn debate on any matter, that unless the clock runs out we are stuck with debating the matter which is on the floor at that time and nobody in this place, neither from the Opposition benches nor from the government benches, has any opportunity to adjourn debate on that motion which is before the House.

That is my understanding and I would be very much appreciative if you could confirm whether that, in fact, is correct and if so, we will all have to judge ourselves according to that ruling.

MADAM SPEAKER: I don't consider that really a point of order either, I would just ask that members read their Hansard tomorrow. I have been very clear in what I have said and I have made my ruling.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I understand that there was another member on his feet wishing to rise on a point of order.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. I am seeking clarification, I am not standing to challenge your ruling but several times during your ruling you commented that yesterday a previous motion to adjourn was put forward, every member in the House heard you, you said yesterday. Well, yesterday nobody in the Opposition put forward a motion to adjourn debate.

[Page 3006]

MADAM SPEAKER: I am sorry, Tuesday. Yesterday was Opposition Day. Are you making a point of order?

MR. TAYLOR: That was my point of order.

MADAM SPEAKER: That is a point of clarification, thank you.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. On Friday the Government House Leader . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: I have not recognized you yet honourable member and I am not prepared to take continued challenges to the ruling of the Chair under the guise of repeated points of order. Under that guise, I will not take them. (Interruptions) You have not been recognized at this point of time, honourable member. Are there further speakers on the resolution?

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. I was wondering if you would indeed clarify as to what an ensuing piece of business is in accordance with Rule 42, the Adjournment motion? What is, in your definition - if it is not the Orders of the Day, if it is not Opposition Members' Business, if it is not Question Period - a piece of ensuing business that is inserted between two notices of motion to adjourn?

[3:15 p.m.]

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, this is not a point of order and I will ask if there are any further speakers on the resolution?

The honourable member for Halifax-Citadel. (Interruptions) The member for Halifax-Citadel has the floor on the resolution.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Let's have a vote. Let's have an election for Speaker. Did you get the Rule Book at Sears? It was attached to the hammer that Richie bought.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: It is my intention to address a few remarks, if I may, to Resolution No. 921. It is clear that this House is in the ante-room to total chaos and that, Madam Speaker, as I am sure you appreciate, is occasioned by the fact that the resolution which prompts me to rise just simply flies in the face of what I think most people in the province who send us here to represent their interests think we are supposed to do here. That, of course, is to engage in serious and hopefully reasonably intelligent and rational debate about the issue that affect them and their hopes and aspirations and those of their families.

[Page 3007]

It is clear that the introduction of Resolution No. 921 by the Government House Leader and clearly the Government House Leader, unless this government is a one-man band and only does and says and conducts itself in the fashion as dictated by the Government House Leader, if that is the case, I guess it would not come as any shock to me, but my guess is that the introduction by the Government House Leader of Resolution No. 921 the other day here in this place was a matter which was fully canvassed by the Government House Leader with his Premier, with all of his Treasury bench colleagues and undoubtedly with all of his backbench colleagues as well.

What we are dealing with is not big bad Government House Leader all by himself, what we are dealing with is a government which has, to a person, decided that it wants to follow certain steps to throttle the opportunity for not only those of us who are here as members on the Opposition benches, indeed, to throttle those, if there are any and I do not have any real sense that there are, but to throttle as well those who might be on the government benches who might be disposed to speak to this resolution or indeed to the bill to which it pertains. (Interruptions) That is true. They will speak in the 20 hours. Thank you. So what we have here is a government led by a Government House Leader who is prepared to wield the hammer, the hammer is in fact very much in play now.

My colleague, the member for Kings West when he was up a few minutes ago made comments to the effect that he is not really sure what the rationale of Resolution No. 921 is. Well, I am not sure I do either, but I have some suspicions. I think the rationale of Resolution No. 921, Madam Speaker, is simply reflective of an action by this government - and I repeat, by all of this government, by John Savage and Bernie Boudreau and by Minister Gillis and by Minister Jolly and by (Interruption) My apologies. Suddenly the rules say that I shouldn't use personal names. (Interruption) I know that, sure, and I know that the rules that are ripped apart by Resolution No. 921 mean nothing to the Minister of Finance or to anybody else! If I offended the sensibilities and the sensitivities and the fragile egos of any of the members opposite, or if I offended any rule of this place by making reference to certain members here by personal name, then I apologize to you and through you to them, and I retract any statement which I just made in the last moment or two which offended their sensitivities and which may have offended any rule of this place.

I am being passed a note, Mr. Speaker, that indicates that there may be a member who wishes to make an introduction, and I would be prepared to yield the floor for that purpose.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Halifax Citadel for yielding the floor. I would like to introduce a couple of very special guests, in your gallery sir, my daughter Terry and, her good friend and mine, Crystal Bona. I would like for them to rise and for everyone to welcome them to the House of Assembly. (Applause)

[Page 3008]

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, while I might mark her father doubtful, anybody with the first name, Terry, has to be all right in my books. (Laughter) I, too, welcome Terry and Crystal here to the House.

The resolution that we debate, Mr. Speaker, it really is dismaying that proceedings in this historic and hallowed place have come to this. As you know, this Liberal Government, of which you are a member, was elected in May 1993. It is now December 1996 and, just three and one-half years into its shaky mandate, this is the second time that this government has unilaterally changed the rules and stuffed it - if I may use that inelegant phrase - to the taxpayers by virtue of doing so.

I said a moment ago that my colleague, the member for Kings West, when he made his remarks relative to this issue, said he wasn't sure what the rationale of Resolution No. 921 might be. I am not certain that I do but I certainly have some suspicions. The rationale of this resolution, as I assess what we have seen here in this Chamber and in the environs of the Chamber in the last little while, is simply an action by a government - not just the House Leader; he just happens to be the mouthpiece for the government - similar to that with which we are all familiar, the action perpetrated by the school yard bully or the street gang thug. That is what underlies the thinking here, because the government knows that with its overwhelming majority it can beat the daylights - numerically - out of a relatively small Opposition. But what it fails to recognize is that as it beats the daylights out of a relatively small - numerically - Opposition, it beats the daylights out of the rights and privileges of every Nova Scotian and every Nova Scotian taxpayer. They are the losers.

The fact of the matter is, in terms of what will happen here in coming days, once Resolution No. 921 is stuffed down the throats of the small Opposition, what will happen here is that we - the members of the Opposition and, indeed, the men and women who are members of the government benches - will be here fewer days than we might otherwise. So, from a personal and selfish point of view, the members of the Opposition, they get out of here, they get home and perhaps have an opportunity to spend a few days with their families through the Christmas season. That applies as well to the government members. But what is the legacy of all this largesse from the government that enables the Opposition members to have those extra few days with their families or where over the coming few weeks? The legacy is a fundamental change to the way in which democracy operates in the taxpayers' province.

We can talk about the rules and privileges or the rights and privileges of the individual member of the Legislature. I think if we cannot go through this debate without it being understood that there are thousands and tens of thousands of families out there that are asked periodically, every three or four or five years, to go to the polls and send, in our case, 52 men and women to this place to do the best for them, to represent their interests, to speak up for them, to applaud when things are done well by the government and to cry loud and long and debate long and hard when they, the 52, believe that things are being done by the government

[Page 3009]

which, in the opinion of the members they send, are not in the best interests of the constituents whom we represent.

This I say, Madam Speaker, I repeat, the introduction and the abrasive and abusive language of the House Leader, as the mouthpiece for this government, is reflective, as I say, of the schoolyard bully and the street gang thug. That is the rationale and that is what is behind this resolution.

You know, I find it interesting that the Government House Leader, as the mouthpiece for this government, has talked to all of us and to all Nova Scotians through the media about going out to Sears and buying the hammer. I am waiting, next week he will probably disclose that, in fact, when he was out to make that purchase, he got the brass knuckles and the chains, too. That is exactly what is going on here. This is, in the environment of what goes on in this Legislature, this is absolutely nothing but a brutalizing of the rights and privileges not only of the members of this place but of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia.

I said, Mr. Speaker, that this government was elected in May 1993. In that short time this government has made this kind of unilateral rule change. You know, Mr. Speaker, if the electors and taxpayers and mothers and fathers of the Province of Nova Scotia could read the document which I have in my hand - which I believe has been tabled, and if you feel that I should table this, I will - I think they would probably be, in the context of what we are facing here now, once they read it, they would probably want to spit on it or use it to start their stove fire or whatever.

This document is called Accountability and Accessibility in Government, Liberal Policy. This is the policy advertised by those who now brutalize the rights of every Nova Scotia taxpayer back in April and May 1993. This is what all of these men and women said, Mr. Speaker, to the people of Nova Scotia: "Government in a democracy derives its powers through the consent of the governed. To honour the responsibility government has to the people, it must open its activities to scrutiny by the public and the opposition.".

It went on further and said that, "A Liberal Government will pass legislation requiring two sittings of the House of Assembly each year. Accountability should not be left to the discretion of the government of the day, but should entrench the public interest in legislation.".

This Liberal policy document went further; "Nova Scotians cannot afford to have important public issues lost in a welter of concentrated government activity, . . .".

[Page 3010]

[3:30 p.m.]

What have we got here? Boy if we haven't got squeezed and concentrated government activity, I don't know what we have. We have a resolution before us which squeezes the right and the opportunity for every Nova Scotian taxpayer, to have those they have sent here to speak for them stifled and throttled and cut off and to be told to sit down and keep their mouths shut. That is what we are dealing with here.

"Government in a democracy derives its powers through the consent of the governed.". I don't remember this government saying, vote for us and we are going to change the rules of the Legislature so as to make it the next best thing to impossible for the members of the Opposition, whom you will send to be opposite us in the Legislature, to shut them down and to throttle them. I did not hear the Minister of Community Services or I did not hear the Minister of Finance say that to any of his constituents down in Antigonish. They didn't say any of that.

"To honour the responsibility government has to the people, it must open its activities to scrutiny by the public and the opposition.". Well, the fundamental result of the passage of Resolution No. 921 is, Mr. Speaker, I suggest to you, to do the opposite. It does not open the activities of government to scrutiny by the public and the Opposition but, rather, it closes the curtain. It makes it that much more difficult for any person who, for any reason, whether their view is well or poorly informed, it makes it that much more difficult for those Nova Scotians, directly and through their elected representatives, to make their views known.

Some of the business of government is very complex. Certainly, it goes without saying that the business and the implications and the long-term ramifications of the BST legislation, to which Resolution No. 921 is a prelude, is frightfully complex. So it is clear that there will be thousands of Nova Scotians who, frankly, are scared to death as to what might be going to happen and most of that fear, as is so often the case, is the fear of the unknown.

This government, I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, in the context of the fact that passage of this resolution will make it that much more difficult for us and for them, those whom we represent, to subject this legislation to scrutiny and will make it much more difficult for any of those fears and concerns, which are experienced by tens of thousands of Nova Scotians, to be allayed because they will not have the opportunity, through their elected representatives, and, I will bet dollars to donuts, through the Law Amendments Committee structure, they will not have the opportunity to be well and fully heard there as well. It really is quite strange, the language that sometimes people use and the words that they use.

Mr. Speaker, we have heard, relative to the BST legislation, to which, again, Resolution No. 921 is a prelude, certain members of government say such things as it is the most major significant tax change since Confederation. That is a pretty strong statement. I simply ask the question, and I am being asked the same question by hundreds of people who have made

[Page 3011]

contact with me and with my caucus colleagues, they say to me such things as, Mr. Donahoe - Do I offend the rules by using my own name? I would not want to upset members if I did that.

AN HON. MEMBER: You know the rules. Your brother was Speaker . . .

MR. DONAHOE: The Minister of Finance says, you know the rules, Terry; your brother was Speaker for all of those years, you know the rules. That is the very point, I did know the rules. Now we are debating a resolution which is ripping those rules apart. We are moving to a new regime. We are moving to John Savage's rules. These aren't the rules that I knew and that my brother, who sat as Speaker of this place for some time and some have been kind enough to say that that same brother sat in that Chair with some ability and some distinction. Those are the rules with which I was familiar and the Minister of Finance is absolutely right when he says I know the rules. That is why I am on my feet remarking about Resolution No. 921 because it rips up one of the fundamental rules by which this House has been governed and by which the government and the business of this place has been conducted for a very long time.

If there is any merit, if there is any justification, if there is any veracity at all in the statement from the Premier and the Minister of Health and the Minister of Finance and any other Treasury bench member or indeed, any member of this government, if there is any truth, any scintilla of truth to their statement that the BST legislation which we will debate shortly is the most significant tax change since Confederation, I can't help but have this thought come to my mind. If it is true that this is the most significant and fundamental tax change made in this province, impacting upon every person who draws breath in Nova Scotia since Confederation, if that is close to true, doesn't that simply cry out for consultation, for scrutiny, for dialogue and most important, for understanding by every affected Nova Scotia taxpayer?

That is the reaction I have, that is the reaction that thousands of Nova Scotians have shared with our caucus office but rather than be interested in consultation, scrutiny, dialogue and understanding by the men and women and their families who will be so greatly affected by this legislation, what do we get? We get the hammer and we get the brass knuckles and we get the chains and we get Resolution No. 921 which flies in the face of the consultation and the scrutiny and the dialogue and the understanding. The people of Nova Scotia are and I know you know it, the people of Nova Scotia are being throttled as a consequence of the introduction in this place of Resolution No. 921.

Reference was made earlier in debate on this resolution, I think one of the ministers across the way hollered over, well APEC thinks things are pretty good. Well it happens I went to the APEC Conference and I remember exactly what the APEC economist had to say. That APEC economist acknowledged at that time that yes indeed his analysis was such that he concluded that there might be something in the order of $100 million shortfall in provincial revenues. That same economist, when asked, what would you think this government might

[Page 3012]

do in response to the reality that the revenue shortfall might be in the range of $100 million, that economist offered the opinion and acknowledged that among other remedies, tax increases for the people of Nova Scotia is a very possible answer to make up the shortfall in government revenues that the BST represents.

This resolution is, as I say, the second time that the Savage Government has unilaterally changed the rules. The Liberal platform said, among other things, and you will remember it well having stood on that same platform with all of your Liberal colleagues and 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, all I can say is that Premier John Savage and all of his colleagues must have an awful sick definition of honesty, openness, integrity and accountability if they are all privy and party, as obviously they are, to supporting their Government House Leader in coming to this place with Resolution No. 921.

The resolution itself is very interesting. It says that notwithstanding the fact that this House has rules, notwithstanding the fact that this House has, indeed a printed booklet, Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly. This resolution cites, makes reference to certain of those rules and its cites by excluding them with the use of the word, notwithstanding. "Notwithstanding Rules 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.". It goes further and says that, "No notice of motion is required for a motion pursuant to . . .", that paragraph, the paragraph I have just read, ". . . and the question shall be put forthwith by the Speaker without amendment or debate.".

When I thought some days ago that I would have an opportunity on behalf of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, whom I represent, to debate this resolution and debate it in a way which was consistent with the rules under which we have played until we encountered this particular provincial government, I attempted to prepare myself to pose an amendment to Resolution No. 921. I did so because I believe there is a flaw in Resolution No. 921 which could and would have been corrected by an amendment, had this government been prepared to engage in the dialogue, the discussion and the debate which is what, I suppose, they all go home and say to their constituents and thank their constituents for sending them here to this place to be able to do, come and debate the public issues of the day.

If one reads this resolution carefully, as I have, do you know what is possible here and in the light of the arrogant, buying hammers kind of attitude that has been displayed already by this government through its mouthpiece the Government House Leader, do you know what is possible? It is simply this, it is possible under this resolution that on any given day the House Leader stands up and he says, Mr. Speaker, for your benefit and the benefit of all

[Page 3013]

members, the hours of sitting tomorrow will be 6:00 a.m. until midnight and he can do that. Knowing this Government House Leader, he is quite likely to do exactly that.

I guess I made a little bit of a mistake, no I didn't. Let us say that he stands up at the end of a Wednesday and says that. So, those are the hours for Thursday. The members are going to sit from 6:00 a.m. until midnight. Well, the flaw here is that if this Government House Leader, prompted by urgings either of this own initiative or prompted by urgings from his colleagues, is in a position, let us say at 10:00 p.m. that evening, we have gone from 6:00 a.m. and we are now at 10:00 p.m. and he said to us the day before that we are going to close at midnight. The Government House Leader may decide in his wisdom, or lack of same, I don't think we are getting along quite as quickly or as well as we should and he can, at that point, at 10:00 p.m., he can stand up and he can move another motion. His motion would be something to the effect, Mr. Speaker, I move that the hours for sitting on this present day be extended from 12:00 midnight until 4:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. He can do that. He can do that under this motion.

[3:45 p.m.]

I don't know whether you, Mr. Speaker, think that that is a reasonable power for the government, let alone the Government House Leader, to have, I really don't, but it is there. It is there and it is in his word and the Government House Leader's word, it is a hammer which he sure can hang over the head of each and every one of us who are members. And, of course, as I have indicated, he has crafted a notice of motion in Resolution No. 921 in such a way 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.". So we don't get an opportunity, the people of Nova Scotia, through their elected representatives who happen to be members of the Opposition, to make any comment, react in any way shape or form, debate to any extent, that kind of action or activity on the part of the Government House Leader.

It is clear, Mr. Speaker, and we had a wonderful demonstration of it here, frankly, really quite a sad demonstration of it here, earlier today. I think the hallmark of the just overwhelming arrogance and partisanship of this government was demonstrated here earlier today when the member for Halifax Fairview introduced the resolution she did and it bears, it relates, because it relates to the circumstances that we will be in if, as and when Resolution No. 921 passes, but that member introduced a resolution which essentially said, because there is a ceremony tomorrow which marks the massacre of the women at École Polytechnique in Montreal some years ago and it is supported by the government that the commemoration of those occurrences and there is a ceremony in relation to which all members have received notice and have received an invitation, the member for Halifax Fairview stood up and she offered a resolution in which she said - looking for the unanimous support from all in this place - let us all, as colleagues in this House, agree now, and in effect send a direction to the

[Page 3014]

Government House Leader, that we would conduct the business of the House tomorrow in such a time-frame that would make it possible for all of us members to attend that ceremony.

Well, the attitude of this government was amply displayed by the fact that this government failed to give unanimous consent which the member sought. What does that tell you? What it tells you is that this government cannot see or hear anything prepared or said by any member of the Opposition without believing that they have to, with their large abusive majority, have to pound it down. I listened to interviews outside relative to that particular issue, Mr. Speaker, and I heard somebody offer the inane explanation that well, there is a better procedure. Well, you don't do that sort of thing by notice of motion. What better way to do it than by notice of motion and have one of our number stand and say we all - all of us, Liberals and Conservatives and NDP - support the ceremony which is to take place in the morning and yes, we all agree that the hours of sitting in the House tomorrow should be designed and settled in such a way as to make it possible for us all to attend? If we all had agreed and waived notice and all supported that, then the Government House Leader would have done so. But, no, this government which is the manufacturer of such resolutions as Resolution No. 921 cannot see it that way and are not prepared and have exhibited no preparedness at any point to take seriously or to engage in reasonable dialogue with the members of the Opposition.

Mr. Speaker, I have been asked by another member if I would yield for the purposes of an introduction. I would be pleased to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West on an introduction.

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you, and through you to the other members in the Legislature, the presence in your gallery of a friend of mine. I went to college with that fellow, actually, quite a number of years ago at the Agricultural College. This gentleman is a member of the West Colchester Development Association and he is also a member of the Northern Regional Health Board. I would like you to welcome Vernon McCully and his wife to the Legislature this afternoon. (Applause)

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I believe that the passage of Resolution No. 921 will and is in the process of trampling on the long-standing tradition of this Assembly. You know and the government members know that this Legislature, until this government arrived, had had its business conducted within the context and within the parameter of rules and, particularly, in the context and parameter of rules which in more recent times were rules developed by way of unanimous agreement among members representing all of the political Parties represented in this House.

You will be aware, Mr. Speaker, I know, that we have a rule in this House, I presume, unless they decide sometime tonight or tomorrow to expunge this rule, which says, in Rule 12A(1), that in this Legislature there is established, ". . . a Committee on Assembly Matters

[Page 3015]

composed of the Speaker and nine other members appointed by the Special Committee established pursuant to paragraph (1) of Rule 60 . . .", the Striking Committee, ". . . to prepare and report listings of members to comprise Standing Committees.". The Speaker, as I know you are well aware, is the Chair of that committee. "(3) The Committee is established to and may 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;".

Well, isn't it interesting that in advance of coming to this place some few weeks ago I had occasion to write to the Premier and I indicated to the Premier, Mr. Speaker, with sincere respect and deference to you and your place in your present role, that perhaps this might be time in the evolution of the history of this Legislature, to change the way in which the Speaker of our place is chosen. Rather than have a Speaker chosen by way of nomination of the Premier, let us do as is done in many other Legislatures in the country and in the Parliament of Canada. The Premier wrote back to me and he said, no, I am not prepared to do that. It is my intention to nominate you, Mr. Speaker, as Speaker. But maybe this is the kind of thing that we could refer to the Committee on Assembly Matters and they could look at the rules after the next election. On balance, the man is the Premier. The rules at present are as they are. The tradition and the history has been what it has been and he offers me that response. Fair enough.

I really find it interesting that what he really says to me is, you know, we have this Committee on Assembly Matters to look at rules and if we are going to change the history and the tradition and the practice and the forms and the procedures of this place, in his letter back to me, the Premier said, the Committee on Assembly Matters is really the place where that should be done. I don't know. It is for others to decide. Some might think that that was, perhaps, a hypocritical response on the part of the Premier in the context of Resolution No. 921. I don't know if they would, but I offer it as an indication that it seems that the Premier and these ministers, the Government House Leader, are simply prepared to do and say anything that they believe is necessary and appropriate, at the moment, to do and say, to enable them to follow their narrow agenda, whether it impacts positively or negatively upon the rights and privileges of members of this place, or, I repeat, more important, whether a trend tramples on the rights and privileges of the 900,000-some Nova Scotians out there whom we purport to serve.

I found it interesting that, on an earlier day, there was a discussion in this place where there was a firefight about some rules and that little firefight, Mr. Speaker, if I can find the reference here in my notes, there was a resolution put by the gentleman who has been, in recent times, previously, our Minister of Finance and now our Minister of Health. He put a resolution talking about the very bill which Resolution No. 921 clears the way for. That was back in 1992 when he was in Opposition and he was flailing away at the reality that the Provincial Tax Commissioner at that time suggested, at a meeting of the Public Accounts

[Page 3016]

Committee, that ". . . with respect to the harmonization of PST and GST that 'on an overall basis, our feeling is that the impact would be more negative than positive'", and, to make a long story short, the now current Minister of Health posed in this resolution that, he said to the House on April 16, 1992, "Therefore be it resolved that this government establish a fair taxation commission to allow for public input and comment on our taxation system before they even consider harmonizing the GST and PST.".

[4:00 p.m.]

Again, I offer that, Mr. Speaker, as an indication that in the context of Resolution No. 921 and in the context of the fact that the opportunity for those affected by the ultimate result or impact of the passage of Resolution No. 921 is simply going to be to throttle members and to throttle Nova Scotians to have an opportunity to have their say about the impact of the BST, the blended sales tax.

I find it interesting in the extreme that the current Minister of Health found it appropriate a couple of years ago to rail against an earlier government that there should be public consultation about the blending or harmonization of the PST and the GST. The hallmark of the performance of this government relative to that particular issue, Mr. Speaker, is, as you well know, there has been what can only be characterized as absolutely minimal and ineffective consultation with the community, relative to this piece of legislation.

If members on all sides of this House wanted to learn something about the history of this place, I don't think they could do better than to read Hansard of recent days, in particular Hansard of December 3, 1996, when my colleague, former Speaker Ronald Russell, the member for Hants West, made what I thought was a tremendously important speech here in this Legislature. He reviewed for us, for all members, the history, beginning in 1784 by reference to a part of the decorations of this very Chamber, the Orders of the Day of a day in 1784, and brought us through the rule changes which we have experienced, this glorious House have experienced, since that time.

This hasn't been done. What the Liberal Party, what the Liberal Government is doing here in Resolution No. 921, Mr. Speaker, simply hasn't been done before. It is offensive in the extreme to have a government which went to the people talking about openness - doesn't it defy logic and common sense that on the one hand, this province is, unfortunately, now governed by a government which in April and May of 1993 said, you know those Tories who are there now should be turfed out. They don't seem to like to go to the House very much and you vote for us Liberals, vote for John Savage and John Savage is going to introduce legislation which will require the House to sit twice a year.

The message which, of course, the Premier was attempting to convey, was; vote for me, John Savage, and all my Liberal candidates and we are going to be so open and accountable and the doings of our business on your behalf, the taxpayers' behalf, is going to be so

[Page 3017]

transparent that you are going to be able to open it up and look inside and see what is done and how it is done and why it is done and when it is done and by whom it is done and what it is going to cost you. To show you how serious we are about that, we are telling you that vote for us and we are going to pass a law that says that the Legislature has to sit twice a year.

Well, to the poor, unassuming taxpayer who might have felt, and I am sure that many did, that gee, that is a great idea, that means that I would have two occasions each year to be able, if I was physically able to come to Halifax and sit in the gallery and watch my government at work, twice a year whereas previously the rules required once. But, more important, I would really have a chance, some of those poor, unassuming Nova Scotian taxpayers who were duped by this government back in May 1993 in this context, believed that that statement and indeed the passings of the law which this Premier promised he would and he did introduce it and he did pass it, believed that that was a harbinger of conduct by a government which was prepared to govern in the best interest of the people of Nova Scotia and to govern in a way where the taxpayers of Nova Scotia would have an opportunity to, through the government members themselves and any and all Opposition members, really have a chance to read and understand and debate and engage in dialogue with their new government on the matters of public policy, legislation, budget and otherwise, that so dramatically affect them and their lives and the lives of their families and their children. Boy, oh boy, haven't we reaped the whirlwind.

What we now have in this province is a government which got off the idle rhetoric of April and May, 1993. Clearly, the rhetoric and the speeches in support of the bill which requires this place to sit twice a year cannot now any longer be considered to be anything but non-genuine rhetoric. It cannot any longer deserve and doesn't deserve any credence. It can't any longer be the view of any thoughtful Nova Scotians that the Premier or any member who spoke in favour of that bill today believed a word of what he or she might have said at the time the bill was introduced and passed. If they did believe that it was in the best interests of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia to have us in this place twice a year, it only made sense to have us here twice a year if there would be openness, fairness, equity, transparency, accountability and an opportunity for the men and women who speak for the people of Nova Scotia to engage in legitimate dialogue with the men and women who govern them.

Now, against that backdrop, we get the hammer and we get the brass knuckles, we get the chains and we get the throttling of the rights and the privileges of the people of Nova Scotia by being presented and confronted with Resolution No. 921. If it wasn't so sad, it would be funny.

We even hear lines from leaders of a 40-some seat majority government that they started it, it was the Opposition, the Opposition made threats.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Premier doesn't want to be wakened up.

[Page 3018]

MR. DONAHOE: The voters will wake the Premier up when he has guts enough to go to them, and they will wake him up big time. They will wake him up in some other form of employment when the votes are tallied, when he finally gets to that stage and I would hazard a guess that it will be many, many handfuls of his colleagues who will wake up looking forward to employment elsewhere when the Premier generates the nerve to go to the polls again. That aside, that is for another day.

AN HON. MEMBER: Go for Ottawa.

MR. DONAHOE: Some people might go for Ottawa, some people might do that. (Interruption) Yes, we hear you are talking to Mr. Chretien to see if he can find you a place in Ottawa too, but I guess we shouldn't be talking about Ottawa, we should be talking about Resolution No. 921.

The difficulty, of course, that the taxpayers now face is that against the backdrop of all of that shallow rhetoric about how this government was going to conduct itself, it is simply hammering the daylights out of the rules of this place and in the process is pounding and hammering the opportunity of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia to have an opportunity to be represented, to have their say about what it is they thought they sent us here to do and that is to engage in debate on issues which affect them and affect their families.

It has already been said by others and I have not heard any answer and I do not expect we are going to hear any answer because another hallmark of this government is that on a situation such as this, we have the distinguished Government House Leader introduce the resolution and all of the other members of the government sit mute like trained seals and let it flow, let it go and let it pass. That, obviously, is the direction which has been sent down from on high, from the Premier's Office or perhaps even some superior being to that, to the Liberal caucus to say, you sit there, you keep your mouth shout, you do not open your mouth, you do not say anything about Resolution No. 921. You just sit there and watch the good old Government House Leader, the honourable member for Richmond, carry the day. He will bully it through. None of us in the Liberal backbenches or the Liberal Treasury benches have to say a word. We just sit there like trained seals, says the leadership of the government caucus, and those poor unfortunates on the other side only now have a very limited time to speak to the resolution, have even more limited time to speak to the legislation and it will all work out. We will get out of here in time to go home to our families at Christmas.

That is the kind of attitude that is displayed here. This a fundamentally bad change and that point has also been made. I suppose there are probably many men and women across the way who occupy government benches now who have gotten themselves to the point where they are starting to think in terms of divine right of governance. I think that is undoubtedly going on in the minds of many of the members opposite. Many of them, Mr. Speaker, as I

[Page 3019]

know you know, will have that divine right of governance notion shoved down their throats when the Premier gets up nerve enough to call an election.

It is interesting that our former colleague, Mr. Bragg, the member for Cumberland North, resigned and this Premier says, well no, I am not going to call a by-election. He is not going to call a by-election because he knows he and his government would get pounded in a by-election. That is why he is not calling a by-election. He knows that he and his government enjoy such little favour in this province that they would get pounded and pounded big. They would get the kind of hammer at the polls that the Government House Leader is trying to use on all of us as members of the Opposition and through us to use on the taxpayers of Nova Scotia.

My final comment. I know I have one minute and I hear some Liberal backbenchers saying good. I want them, if they are prepared to listen, to hear my final comment. They do not have to say anything aloud, but I would like them to think about whether or not after I say this last sentence they would say good. The effect of this rule change does not end when we go home for Christmas or whenever the HST, the BST bill passes. It stays on the books of the rules of this place and what it does, if, as, and when they or some of them someday, maybe not next election, who knows, but someday, some of these men and women will be members of the Opposition and this rule will not make it possible for them to speak as fully and as openly and over a reasonable time-frame as their constituents will want them to and, indeed, as they, as members on behalf of those constituents, will want them to.

This is rotten stuff, these are bully tactics, this is tantamount to the street gang thug action. This is the hallmark of this government. Mr. Speaker, believe me, the Liberal Government will rue the day that Resolution No. 921 was entered in this place.

[4:15 p.m.]

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

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I wish I could say that I was proud to be standing to speak to such a resolution but it doesn't do my heart or my stomach much good to think that we have sunk to such depths in this House.

Mr. Speaker, I wonder what this is all about. Why in the world would this government, with such a large majority, with such a large number of people, want to put such a clamper on the proper procedures of this House? I am not as familiar with this House as many of you are but I came here with a belief, I came here with the thought that the reason we were all here was to do what was right for the people of the Province of Nova Scotia. But, all of a sudden, I find out that the only thing this government has in their mind is doing what is right for them. They don't give a tinker's you-know-what about the people of the Province of Nova Scotia. They couldn't care less about how the people of this province feel. If they did,

[Page 3020]

they would be sure that a resolution like this would never come to the floor of the House. They would put it through the proper channels and they would give the people of the Province of Nova Scotia, the members of this House, an opportunity to talk about it, to make some rational thinking and bring forth a reasoned approach, rather than try to shove it down your throat like a pill that a child doesn't want to take.

This government doesn't care; they don't care what the people of this province are doing. They talk to me and they say that they care and they go out and they talk to people. They go around and say that we talk and we care. Well, Mr. Speaker, I have talked to a lot of people since I have been elected and a lot of them seem to think that this government doesn't care. This resolution is another point that shows that this government has nothing in mind but its own self-interest. That is not what is good for the people of the Province of Nova Scotia.

You know, Mr. Speaker, it is not up to me to be lecturing more senior members of this House than I, but somebody has to talk to them. Unfortunately, my seven year old son wasn't elected to come here but he would show a little bit of sense and a lot more leadership than what is being shown in this House today. I am almost so mad that I can't speak, Mr. Speaker, because we are ruining the democratic process, the only thing we have left in this province that hasn't been taxed by this government and now they are trying to shove it down our throats so that people can't do a reasoned thought.

I am going to try to tame down, I am going to try and keep it on track here because I know, Mr. Speaker, that you are a reasoned man and I know that if you had the opportunity, you, too, would like to say some of the things that I am saying. (Interruption) Well, the member says it is slightly presumptuous but we all know that the members in the backbenches of the Liberal Government are not allowed to speak. The only time they are allowed to do anything is when they have to get up and make a resolution and most of the time those resolutions don't have any facts to them.

Let's go back to the Liberal platform, let's talk to the Liberal platform (Interruption) Well, there's another member from the backbenches. You know, Mr. Speaker, this government was elected in 1993 with a big majority and they sent a message that they wanted a different style of government. They didn't want a dictatorship but that is what they have ended up with, a government that changes its rules in the middle of the game. Anybody who is a member of a sports team and was playing a game and halfway through the game the rules were changed to suit the ones who were losing, would be not there.

The minister from Kings South who says this is George's speech, well, unlike the government benches, the people on this side of the House and the people in this Party can speak for themselves and are going to speak for themselves. Mr. Speaker, I resent that man saying that I am talking about George's speeches or anybody else's speech. I am talking about

[Page 3021]

Alfie MacLeod and I am talking about the people of Cape Breton West and he has no right or no reason to say those types of things. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, the problem with the government members of this House is they are not used to being able to think for themselves. That was taken away from them in December and it is still that way. In December 1996, just three and one-half years into its mandate, the government decided it was time to change the rules again, for a second time in three and one-half years, rules that were in place for many years, rules that served this House and this province well. Now, one would ask, why would a government do that? The questions begs to be answered and I cannot answer it. I am sure, if we asked each and every member of the government, they could not answer it.

When this government was running, the Liberal platform said, "Liberal Government initiatives will be built on a foundation of honesty, openness, integrity and accountability that will penetrate all government dealings under John Savage.". So what happens? They seem to be losing a battle, so out of the blue, a resolution comes to this House to change the rules to suit their needs, Mr. Speaker. In 1993, the people of Nova Scotia read those words and, apparently, they believed those words. But if we were to put those words to the test today, if we were to go out and have an election on this issue, I am sure that the people would not only believe those words, they would say those words were lies then and they are lies now and these people are not fit to govern the Province of Nova Scotia, they are not fit to be in government benches and there would be a change.

This BS Tax is not going to help anybody. You know it, the people in the government benches know it and the people of the Province of Nova Scotia know it. It is even to the point, Mr. Speaker, it is going to cost you to die. They are going to charge you to die. They are going to tax you when you go to see somebody and have funeral arrangements made. They are going to charge you for that. This government has not been satisfied with taxing your every move when you are alive, now they are going to tax you when you are dead. That is not what the people of this province look for, that is not what they want and that is certainly not what they should be getting. (Interruption)

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

MR. MACLEOD: The honourable member would like to know who put the GST on. The federal government put the GST on and the federal Liberal Government said they were going to get rid of the GST and they gave us this bunch of crap that they call a tax. Mr. Speaker, that is what this is. It is a BS Tax and we should not forget it. It doesn't matter if we call it a BS Tax or a HS Tax. Whichever animal it comes from, it stinks, and the people of the Province of Nova Scotian know that it stinks. (Interruption) Such language, yes. Mr. Speaker, I would apologize to you for such language, but sometimes the other members of this House have the ability to draw out the worst in people and that is not a pretty thing. But

[Page 3022]

at least we can have this dialogue and at least we can talk about what seems to be bothering the people that we are here to represent.

I really believe, Mr. Speaker, that some of the backbenchers on the government side of the House forgot why they were put here. We were not put here, none of us were sent here to look after our own interests. We were sent here to help make sure that the people that cannot look after themselves, the people that need the help, would get it and that the best rules that we could put in place, and the best laws that we could put in place were there for the benefit of people in the Province of Nova Scotia. At least we have this opportunity to speak about it and don't have to sit down and sit on our hands and not say a word.

Mr. Speaker, the opportunity was given to this government to make a change and what did they do? They made all kinds of them and every one of them hurt the taxpayer of the Province of Nova Scotia. Time after time they have destroyed the very foundation under which the principles of this House were found. This resolution, Resolution No. 921, is a prime example of the type of shenanigans that are going on to hurt the people of the Province of Nova Scotia.

On Thursday, January 26, 1995 this government ruled and they rammed a rule through the House that changed the amount of time that the Committee of the Whole House on Bills could debate a bill. If this government was truly interested in making sure this bill had the best debate, they would have removed the time constraints on the amount of time that we could debate this in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, they would have opened it wide open so that every single ounce of this bill could be debated, spoken to and talked to by the people in this House that are sent here to look after the interests of the people of the Province of Nova Scotia but that wasn't the case. We wanted to play some shenanigans.

We found a way to slip a rule in on Friday afternoon. It is a good thing it didn't have to be done Friday morning because most of them were asleep on that side of the House Friday morning. Friday afternoon, they slipped through the resolution and they said, we are going to change the rules so we can win this game because the people of Nova Scotia are starting to become aware of what we are trying to do to them so we better do it in the cover of night, we better have all kinds of talks when nobody is around. That was the plan but that plan is not going to work because thousands of people - not hundreds - are here and they are telling us, fight for the cause because we don't believe in this BS Tax, we don't want to have this BS Tax, it is going to hurt us as consumers in this province.

Nova Scotians are going to be looking for an opportunity to make presentations on this bill when it comes to the House. They are going to want to go to the Law Amendments Committee and that is a good part of our process and I think everyone would agree with that. We asked for assurances from our Premier. We asked for assurances that the people of the Province of Nova Scotia would have as many opportunities as they needed to come to the

[Page 3023]

Law Amendments Committee and what did he say? We will see. We want to be sure that the people of this province have an opportunity to speak on this bill.

If this government was truly concerned about the people having an opportunity, there would be a committee going around this province, going to the people that can't afford to come to Halifax. After April 1st, when this BS Tax is put on us, there will be a lot fewer people who will be able to afford to do things. The issue is, why ram this through the House? I don't understand that.

It is apparent to me that this House, that this Government of the Province of Nova Scotia, the last consideration they have, the very last thing that they look at, is the will and the concern of the people of the Province of Nova Scotia. They will sit on their government benches and they will tell us that all kinds of good things are happening. If they would go out in the real world because I am going to tell you something that a lot of people in this House don't understand or don't seem to realize once they have been here for awhile, Nova Scotia consists of a lot more than two square blocks around Province House. It consists of places like Cape Breton, Amherst, Clare, Meteghan and Argyle but the decisions that some of these ministers want to make only seem to rotate around two square blocks of this House and that is not right or fair to the people of this province.

This government says they care about people, they say they care about everybody but yet what do they do? They cut dental programs for children, the community service programs, the organizations they fund have been cut by 3 per cent and why? To meet the bottom line mentality that this government has been operating on ever since it started. (Interruption) The Premier says the mess we left, that is what he keeps saying. I want to ask the Premier if he will entertain a question . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order please. I will ask the honourable member to return to the resolution please.

MR. MACLEOD: This government under this resolution is hurting people. (Interruptions)

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

MR. MACLEOD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is amazing how much help you can get when you are trying to do your job. It is too bad that the people of Nova Scotia could not get the same help from some of these same ministers when they are trying to get some answers from them.

[Page 3024]

[4:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that the cuts that this government has made have hurt people and hurt them severely. This government is a government that attacks the young people of the Province of Nova Scotia. It is a government that attacks the seniors of the Province of Nova Scotia. It is a government that attacks the women of the Province of Nova Scotia and this government is a government that will attack anybody that has a mind of their own or is willing to speak up for what they believe in, Mr. Speaker.

We have had enough. The people of the Province of Nova Scotia have told us they will not put up with any more. The last two times the Premier had the ability to call a by-election and did, he has seen the results and his members certainly could not get elected because of his track record, because of what he had to say.

AN HON. MEMBER: There are protesters outside now, protesting. . .

MR. MACLEOD: Right now, as we speak in this very House about the way this is being rammed through, there are all kinds of people protesting; protesting because they are not happy with the terms and conditions that this government has put in front of them. (Interruptions) It was not enough that this government decided they wanted to take away from those who cannot look after themselves, like our children and the dental program. That was not enough. Now they want to go around and they want to take away from the responsibilities that the people have put on their elected representatives.

This government is scared to listen to the real facts about what is going on. They are tired. The people of this province are tired of having things rammed down their throats, Mr. Speaker. We have people in this province who do not have any representation right now because the Premier has refused to call a by-election to represent some people. Those people are not going to have an opportunity to have their wishes and thoughts put forward in front of this House when we are discussing this BS Tax that is going to hurt them so much.

Mr. Speaker, there are many things that I would like to say and there are many things that I will say. I want to tell you, I always took pride in the fact that I was from Cape Breton. I always took pride in the fact that Cape Bretoners were fair and reasonable people. I always took pride that they were people who would stand up for what they believed in. They would fight hard and do fight hard for what we believe in. Most of all, the people of Cape Breton would fight fair and it brings my heart a great deal of grief to know that the House Leader - a Cape Bretoner - would stoop to this kind of a tactic to get something through the House that was going to hurt that many Nova Scotians.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not only him.

[Page 3025]

MR. MACLEOD: There are a number of people on the front benches of that government that are from Cape Breton and they should be ashamed of what they are allowing to happen to the people of this province. (Interruption) There will be a message sent and the message will be loud and clear. We do not like the BS Tax. We are not happy with the way this government is governing us and we - when I say we, Mr. Speaker, I am talking about the people of the Province of Nova Scotia - and they say that we do not like this tax. (Interruptions)

I am going to tell you, Mr. Speaker . . .

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

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable Minister of Transportation would like to take part in the debate, I am sure if he asked the Government House Leader, he would be allowed, but I know he would have to ask for permission.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who is the Government House Leader of the hour?

MR. MACLEOD: Have the rules changed? Is this not my time to talk or has the rule of that changed too? I might have missed something. I took a drink of water.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to tell you, that what is taking place with this bill, as sad as I am, has only made me more determined to fight it. I am not fighting it because I think it is bad. I am fighting it because the people who have asked me to come here to represent them think it is bad. We have farmers, we have foresters, we have truck drivers, we have miners, now thanks to you, I might add, we have all kinds of people in my constituency and each one of them realizes that when they turn up their thermostat it is another 8 per cent. When I turn on my light it is going to cost me more money, when I fill up my tank of gas it is going to cost me more money. Each one of those people understand that, it is something that the government leaders of this House do not understand, but maybe if they listen for awhile and go home and talk to the people they represent, maybe they will finally hear what the people of this country are saying to them. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, thank you for taking control of such a rowdy crew.

You know, we talk about the people that we represent. I represent a lot of people that are in a union. I used to be in a union myself. I remember the Government House Leader, he was in a union. One of the guiding principles of the union was to look after the members, to look after everybody's interests, that was our job in the union. Anybody who ever held a union card and saw the way that we operate in this House, the way that the government

[Page 3026]

benches operate in this House, would be ashamed that the interests of those in control is put forward and put ahead of the interests of those people that we are here to help and represent. That is a shame.

Let's talk a little bit more about some of the things that are happening. We want to know what the urgency is. Why is it so important to ram this legislation through this House before Christmas? If this legislation is not being rammed through, why wasn't there a provision in there to allow extra debate instead of limiting the debate to 20 hours? That is a question I would really like someone in the government benches to answer. If this government was truly interested in bringing forward what is best for the Province of Nova Scotia, they would not limit the hours of debate. They would not limit the time we could speak on the issue, they would be willing to sit and listen to it.

The Premier keeps talking about overtime. With all due respect, Mr. Speaker, the Premier would not know overtime if he tripped over it. I am going to tell you I am not an academic, like the Premier is. I have made my living with my hands all my life, but I will say this, I am quite proud of the way I made my living. I know what it is like to work overtime and I know what it is like to go underground. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like to ask the honourable member to return to the resolution that is before the House, please.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, the BS Tax is three and one-half months away. Why all of a sudden is this urgency here? The Premier himself told us that he was not going to bring the legislation in this session. (Interruption) Yes, we did, we asked for it. The Minister of Community Services makes a good point. For once, I have only been here a little over a year, but he has finally made a good point and I would like to recommend and take note. (Interruption)

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

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Cape Breton East said that we asked for it and we did. We asked for this legislation to be on board. I am not ashamed of that. As a matter of fact, I am quite proud.

AN HON. MEMBER: Speak up.

MR. MACLEOD: Speak up? Mr. Speaker, I do not understand the members on the government side. Sometimes they say they cannot hear me, sometimes they say I am too loud. These guys never know what they want and this tax is another example. They are not sure what they want, but they were told that this is what they had to have and that is what this is all about. (Interruptions)

[Page 3027]

Mr. Speaker, again I wonder about who has the floor here and just what rule we are following at this moment. (Interruptions) There are all kinds of rabbit tracks around here. This resolution was brought forward and they are saying now that it has something to do with because the people of the Province of Nova Scotia wanted to debate a bill that was going to have an effect on their life. If that is the case, why is it that they want to do this debate in the late hours of the night? Why is it that we cannot do it in the morning hours and during the day? I realize, as I said before, that in the morning hours sometimes they are not all awake on that side of the House, but for the most part they are. I think the people that they represent, the people from the Province of Nova Scotia, would encourage them to take part in a real debate, in a reasoned debate, in one that points out the bad parts of this legislation. I would have said the good parts, but we don't know of any of the good parts. The people, the consumers, are all worried about what it is going to do to them. They are scared that there is not going to be any money left for the people.

One person came to me, Mr. Speaker, and he said, I am on a fixed income. I only get so many dollars a month and now I am looking at an increase in my heat, I am looking at an increase in my lights and I am looking at an increase when I go to the grocery store.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No, no.

MR. MACLEOD: I am looking at an increase when I go to the grocery store. That is a fact. We are hearing all kinds of people on the other side of the House saying no. But you buy more in a grocery store than just groceries. This individual is worried because he knows that he is not going to have enough money to survive. His instruction to me, as his representative, was go up there and speak against this legislation, to say that this is not what he wanted. It is not what they needed. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, I am really trying to be reasonable about this. Again, I am not as polished as some of the members opposite, but by the same token, I am here to speak about the real issue and the real issue is not whether I am polished or not polished, it is the fact that this is going to hurt some of the people that I represent. Those are the people that I am worried about. If this government had any decency left in its body, it is those people that they would be worried about. Instead of spending their money on these phoney ads that are in the paper, they would genuinely be out there talking to people, moving around, listening to what people have to say. They have three and one-half months.

This whole issue of the BS Tax is typical of the way this government has operated. For a while we were told there was no urgency. There was no hurry to bring it forward to the House. All of a sudden, and I hope, and I am pleased to say that it is probably because of our urgings on this side of the House, they brought it forward. But the Premier should realize, this government should realize that this whole issue is an issue that has people upset. People are not happy with what is going on. This government is going down in the polls. Their approval rating is dismal, Mr. Speaker. The fact of the matter is, this Premier is the least liked leader

[Page 3028]

in this province and this issue of the BST is not helping him. That doesn't make any difference, he is going to meet his maker the day he decides to call the election. What does make a difference is that the BST is not helping the taxpayer of the Province of Nova Scotia.

[4:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, when this government was elected, we heard come out of the Premier's own lips, there would be no new taxes and that there would be no major tax changes. Yet, when they are talking about this, it is the most significant tax change . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Since Confederation.

MR. MACLEOD: . . . since Confederation, thanks to the Premier. It is also the biggest single tax grab that the people of the Province of Nova Scotia have ever witnessed and they are going to fall underneath the code.

A document released by the former Minister of Finance on the last day of the spring session showed that this was going to cost the taxpayers of the Province of Nova Scotia $84 million more. The people, Mr. Speaker, who have put this deal together have negotiated $200-some-odd million a year for the next four years but have never bothered once to say what happens after the four years. Where is the money going to come from? Is it coming out of the pockets of the people of the Province of Nova Scotia? That is a question that has to be addressed. Those are the types of issues that people want to address.

Mr. Speaker, just because this government has an overwhelming majority in this House does not give them the ability or the right to have the arrogance that they are showing toward the taxpayers of this province. (Interruption) No, I just want to be sure that the one time that the Premier is around to listen that he actually hears what I have to say.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is leaving, Alfie.

MR. MACLEOD: There you go. (Interruptions) The Minister of Community Services says, Mr. Speaker, that if I name them all, they will all go. My biggest fear is that they will all come back and nothing will have changed. (Interruptions) The Minister of Transportation and Public Works says that my biggest fear is that in the next election they will all come back, and he is right . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACLEOD: . . . because the people of the Province of Nova Scotia cannot afford to have the likes of him around again. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

[Page 3029]

MR. MACLEOD: The only reassuring thing about what the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has to say is that they have not yet decided to unilaterally declare that there is not going to be an election because that is the only rule they have not changed.

AN HON. MEMBER: That will keep you in for a while, Alfie. How would you vote on that one? (Laughter)

MR. MACLEOD: The Minister of Community Services asks how would I vote on that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable member to return back to the resolution that is before the House, please.

MR. MACLEOD: Thank you for your guidance and your directions, Mr. Speaker, and I certainly will take that into account. Sometimes it is hard not to be caught off guard with these caribou tracks. A rabbit track I could handle.

Mr. Speaker, this is a bad resolution. It is a bad resolution for the people of the Province of Nova Scotia. It is a bad resolution for this House. It is a bad resolution for the members of this House. It is a bad resolution for the government and it is a bad resolution for any parliamentary institution in this country.

Bad resolutions, Mr. Speaker, are not good for the people of this province and they will not forget it. We can stay here and we can talk about the different tracks that would get one person or another off track, but the fact of the matter is, this resolution brought forward by this government is hurting the people of this province. It is going to take what little faith they had in this system, it is going to take that and it is going to destroy it.

You know, Mr. Speaker, over the last number of years, politicians of every stripe have done little to give people of this province faith and actions like this, that are taken by governments, take away what little credibility is left. It is a slur on the people of this province, because the people of this province have asked us, every one of us, every person in this House, to come here and do a job for them. That job is not to look after partisan interests, it is not to drive people away from the process, it is to make people feel like they are part of the process. It is to make people feel like they actually have a say in what is going on in their government.

Mr. Speaker, this government seems intent on taking away from that pride in the system. This government seems to say, we have them down, let's squash them. I say to this government, let's listen to the people who put us here. Let's be reasonable about our approach to this whole thing and let's talk about how we are going to make this place, the Province of Nova Scotia, a better place to live. Resolutions like Resolution No. 921 are not part of that process.

[Page 3030]

When you look at what took place earlier today when we were trying to pass a simple resolution, the way the Premier figured we could fix it was to have the three House Leaders sit down and talk about it, a rational way to approach the problem. My question to you, Mr. Speaker, and certainly to the Premier, why didn't he use that same approach when he wanted to do this and talk about the hours of the House? Why is it okay today, because it was somebody else's idea? Well, then, we had better sit down and talk. But when it is their idea, you just ram it down our throats and you let it go. Why is that? It doesn't make any sense to me.

Mr. Speaker, there are many things that we could do to put people's trust back in this House and put trust back in each and every one of us who sit here, so that people understand why it is that we are here and what it is that this place can and should accomplish for them. But that is not what is taking place. We are being told by my friend, the member for Richmond, that we are going to do this whether you like it or not. It doesn't make any difference. This is the way it is going to be and you cannot change it and that is it. This BS Tax is what has brought about this resolution. It is the reason that we stand here today to talk to you.

It was once a privilege to say you were from Nova Scotia, but now we seem to be falling behind other provinces. Why? It is because of the way that this government has treated people, it is because of the programs that they have slashed. A new company coming in here would have to look long and hard if they are going outside of the metro area, if they are going into any other part of this province, they have to think long and hard about what services are there. What kind of hospital services do they have? What kind of educational services do they have? What kind of ambulance services do they have?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable member to return back to the resolution.

MR. MACLEOD: This resolution, Mr. Speaker, was brought into place so that we could debate a bill that is going to put an extra tax on the consumers. This government didn't take the opportunity and the time like the Government of Prince Edward Island, a Liberal Government I might add. They went out and they talked to the people and they asked them, what would this do? I would like to tell you exactly what resulted from that.

The most often cited reason centered on the belief that the consumer would end up paying more taxes and in particular, low income families would suffer disproportionately under harmonization. The fact that the provincial tax would apply to such basics as electricity, heating fuel, clothing, and reading material was often cited as having a severe negative impact on consumers. Serious doubts were also expressed that business would pass any tax savings resulting from harmonization onto the consumer. Many business presenters confirmed their doubt by indicating they would likely reinvest a portion of the savings or that they would use

[Page 3031]

a portion of the savings to bolster their already weak profit margins. That is what the harmonization of the tax in the Province of Nova Scotia has the potential of doing.

This was an opportunity for the people of the Province of Prince Edward Island to be heard by their government. Their government had the good sense not to bring this in but their government had another problem similar to ours, they had health care concerns, they had education concerns, they had job concerns and the people of the Province of P.E.I. saw fit to throw that government out and select a new government, a government that was progressive in their thinking, a government that would bring good government to the people of P.E.I. and certainly has started the tide for the people of Cape Breton and Nova Scotia.

I just want to go on a little bit more about what process took place in Prince Edward Island and what the people of this province are being denied. This government in P.E.I. had a number of meetings to hear what people had to say about the BS Tax. August 21st in Charlottetown, August 22nd in Summerside, September 5th in Charlottetown, September 13th in Charlottetown, September 17th in Summerside, September 20th in Poole's Corner, September 27th in Charlottetown, October 1st in Charlottetown, that is true democracy and it is what this whole process is all about. The people of Prince Edward Island had an opportunity, the government was given the message and the word was no BST and they don't have it.

This resolution that was brought into this House is to ram the same legislation through here before the people of this province have had the opportunity to go out to a public meeting and tell people. Our Party has taken the initiative to ask people to send in their replies and responses and we have many hundreds of people who are not happy with what is going on and want this tax stopped, they want it stopped now before it could do any more harm and damage to them, the consumers of this province.

I don't know if the hammer the Government House Leader spoke about is the right hammer because I would like to get a loan of that hammer and probably pound it into some people's heads if this tax is not good for the people of the Province of Nova Scotia.

There are many, many issues on Resolution No. 921 that need to be spoken about and, Madam Speaker, I know, in your charitable way, you will allow us to continue this very important dialogue between us and the government side of the House. The resolution was brought in so that Resolution No. 921 would allow continued hours of the House, and I will go back to the original question, why wasn't this allowed for the debate? People of this province have told us, time after time, that they are scared that their clothing is going up in price.

[Page 3032]

[5:00 p.m.]

MR. MACLEOD: They are scared that their new homes are going to cost more because of the BST. People are concerned that every time they make a purchase it is going to have an adverse effect on their home, on their personal budget. They are not sure why this government is so persistent in pushing a law through that is going to hurt them.

There are many issues that concern the people of the Province of Nova Scotia. Simple things, like a tube of toothpaste, are going to cost the consumer more and yet this government has seen fit to cut back on the dental program for children, a program that anybody will tell you was having a positive effect on the young people, and good oral hygiene also speaks well of the physical health of the child. Many dentists are worried that now they are going to see a decline in the health of the children, but that is only one way that this government took a shot at the small people, the little people, the children of the Province of Nova Scotia.

I could go on a long time about a lot of issues, but the ones that I want to key in on are why this government has been so undemocratic.

AN HON. MEMBER: New Democratic?

MR. MACLEOD: No, it is not that bad. I cannot understand why back at the closing of the spring Legislature this government released a report that said it was going to cost $84 million, and have not done anything, costing the taxpayers of the Province of Nova Scotia $84 million more, Madam Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?

MR. MACLEOD: It was $84 million. That was the start. There have been new figures come out since then, Madam Speaker, that say it is probably higher, that it is going to cost the people of the Province of Nova Scotia. The money comes out of the pockets of the people of this province; the money comes out of their pockets to fulfill the Premier's promise of no new taxes.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where is it going?

MR. MACLEOD: I hear someone asking the question, where does it go? Well, the way he is acting, I am sure it does not go into community services. There are many people who do not believe it has gone into our health care system, and there are many people who do not believe it has gone into our roads, and there are many people believe who it is just another tax grab on behalf of this government.

AN HON. MEMBER: How come we're getting less money . . .

[Page 3033]

MR. MACLEOD: The reason that this government is getting less money is because there are less people working and there is no money left to pay any taxes because they have driven out the people that want to work, they are sending them away from this province and they are making it a harder place to come in with an industry. That is why. If you do not live in metro Halifax, then it does not make any difference to them because they still have that mentality that Nova Scotia is Halifax. Well, where I come from, Nova Scotia is not Halifax, it is all of the province and Cape Breton Island is a very important part of that province and if some of the members who sit on the government front benches would take that into consideration, the people of the Province of Nova Scotia and the people of Cape Breton Island would be much happier with the service they are getting, instead of the haphazardous, little issues that they go around with and they don't bother to go home or talk to the people they represent. That is the problem with this government.

Madam Speaker, government benches of this House continue to want to live in the past but the people I represent have to live now and they have to live in the future and going back to the past isn't going to help them. Going into their pockets deeper and deeper and asking for more money is not going to help them. It is the same as this great amalgamation process that was put together in Cape Breton Island to save money. We are going to save you money and it is costing the taxpayers of Cape Breton Island $61 million more, cuts in services, cuts in all the things that they deserve to have.

Madam Speaker, there are ways to make changes to the Rules of the House. Even as a new member I am aware of those. So I would think that those who are more seasoned in this House than I would be aware of the procedures that can be followed to make a difference in the rules. I understand that the committee that would deal with such an issue has been called to meet next week. That is sort of like closing the barn door after the horse got out. The door is being shut after the damage has been done.

Madam Speaker, this resolution is not anything that this government should be proud of. As a member of this House, be it an Opposition member, I am very dismayed that the government would stoop to this level to meet an agenda that they don't have a mandate to meet. This government is tearing the heart and soul out of the taxpayers of the Province of Nova Scotia but it is also helping, with these kinds of regressive taxes, to ruin rural Nova Scotia because people can't afford to go and live where they want to live. They can't find jobs anymore and the money they were putting aside for their old age is being used up now to survive - not to live, but to survive.

I urge each and every member of this House, each and every member of the government backbenches and each and every member of the Cabinet benches, to sit down and read this resolution. The resolution says:

Therefore be it resolved that the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly be amended, effective immediately, as provided in the attached Schedule.

[Page 3034]

The schedule says:

Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly

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

5C (1) Notwithstanding Rules 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.

(2) 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.

AN HON. MEMBER: What does that mean? You should explain it to us. Some people really don't understand.

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: Well, they do not understand.

MR. MACLEOD: Madam Speaker, what that means is they do not give a hoot about how the proper procedures of this House should be run. It means that the regular rules that people are familiar with and used to operating on have been put to pasture. It means that this government does not care for the people of the Province of Nova Scotia. It means that every time that this government is losing they pull something out of the bag to stifle any type of opposition or meaningful dialogue. That is not what the people of Nova Scotia elected. They did not want a government like that.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is repugnant, disrespectful, offensive, rude. (Interruptions)

MADAM SPEAKER: You have the floor.

MR. MACLEOD: You could have fooled me, Madam Speaker. There is all kinds of dialogue going on.

Madam Speaker, it does not seem that anything that we in the Opposition benches say to this government ever lands on ears that can listen. I really believe from the deepest parts of my heart that this resolution tears apart some of the fabric of this House. More importantly, I think this resolution does a disservice to the people of the Province of Nova Scotia. I know

[Page 3035]

for a fact that the people who elected me in Cape Breton West to come and speak for them are sick and tired of the way that this government operates.

They had a member before me, a member who belonged to the Government Party, who stood up and spoke about what he believed his constituents wanted. What happened to him? They threw him out. That is probably the only thing I can ever thank Premier Savage for doing, because at least it gave me a job. They certainly would not send somebody else back here from the Liberal Party. They knew, Madam Speaker, that they would not be allowed to speak their mind.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ask for a recorded vote on that one.

MR. MACLEOD: We already had a recorded vote and if you want to know the results, I'm sitting here. That was the result of that recorded vote.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's a big vote.

MR. MACLEOD: Pound for pound, I am your best bet.

Madam Speaker, I am going to tell you that the people of Cape Breton West have seen the errors of this government's way and when the Premier has the ability to call an election - or more so the fortitude to call an election - the rest of the Province of Nova Scotia will send him a message similar to the message that was sent to this House by the people of Cape Breton West.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Madam Speaker, I rise to speak on Resolution No. 921, Rules of the House, extended sitting hours. I understand this resolution is simply basically to give the government the right to set the hours for the day's business; in other words, to sit longer than our normal hours. The government has the majority and then in due course the bill will pass.

Why are they doing this? Why is the government of the day introducing Resolution No. 921? As I understand it again, it is simply so that they can push Bill No. 48 through as quickly as possible. The government will pass this bill sooner by doing this resolution. I am not sure why the government did not just call Bill No. 48 and let us proceed to debate that bill. I do not understand why they did not let us do that.

[Page 3036]

[5:15 p.m.]

The bill would have passed and probably would have been out of second reading by probably Monday, at the latest. I don't understand the urgency of doing that. Another alternative, of course, would have been to turn it over to the all-Party committee to give consideration to such a resolution. I don't understand what the urgency is, Madam Speaker, in having this resolution brought forward. I would be interested in hearing other members of the Legislature, including the Government House Leader, try to explain to us why he is bringing this resolution forward, other than to have this bill, Bill No. 48, approved very quickly.

Madam Speaker, a couple of weeks ago, the government said that they were not going to introduce this bill until spring. They said that we asked for the bill. Well, yes, we wanted them to bring the bill forward, but they changed their minds again and did bring it forward. What is that? I think it is simply another flip-flop. Why are they bringing the bill forward now, rather than later in the spring? Because in May 1993, this government was elected with a good majority. People told us that they did not want us and they elected 40 members to this Legislature. Well, the government will have to go to the polls again, probably next spring or next fall, or at latest, of course, the spring of 1998. I think that the reason they wanted to bring this bill in at this time is to try and get it through now and have it out of the way. So, in other words, they can clean up their act before a general election.

The members of this House know that I had written an article on harmonization and, quite frankly, Madam Speaker, what I was saying was that we should have national harmonization, a fair tax, but not a tax that is regional, not a tax that does not include all the provinces and does not even include all the Maritime Provinces. The fact is that P.E.I. decided not to go in with this. What I was saying was that if we had a harmonized tax that was fair to all regions, not to add consumer tax to people that cannot afford it, not to broaden the base, but to leave it basically the way it was.

This resolution is going to give the government the opportunity to ram through Bill No. 48 before Christmas. That bill will hurt every average consumer in this province. It is going to increase electricity. It is going to increase the cost of gas, of diesel fuel. It is going to include, of all things, toothpaste, increase the cost of toothpaste. But, you know, most consumers in this province use electricity, that I know. It is going up approximately 4.8 per cent. That costs them money. To put gas in their cars, it is going to cost, gasoline taxes, an additional $54 million, $54 million of people's money that cannot afford it.

There are a lot of people out there that do not have a very big salary, but they still have to turn the lights on, they still have to put gas in their car, they have to buy clothes for their children. That is something that I don't understand, is why under $94 for clothing you don't have that tax and over $94 you pay it. It is cheaper to buy a fur coat than to buy boots for your baby.

[Page 3037]

On the other hand, they are saying that they are going to reduce the tax on automobiles, furniture, refrigerators. Well now how many people across this province trade their car every two years? Not too many. I wanted to get the statistics but I believe that the average age of cars owned by people in this province is at least six years old. So that is not going to save them very much money if they trade their cars once every six years. How many people buy a new refrigerator every year? As a matter of fact, we had a freezer that we kept for 36 years. I have been married over 40 years and I think we bought two refrigerators in that time. Is that going to save the consumer of this province any money? I don't think so.

I don't understand why this resolution couldn't have been referred to the Committee on Assembly Matters. That committee has been in existence for many years. I sat on that committee way back in 1979 and it is a good, all-Party committee. It gives people an opportunity to discuss the rules and it always used to be that you would have all-Party agreement as to what you were doing to change the rules. That is not what is happening in this case, and it will pass; we know it will pass. They have a majority, 39 members to our 12 in Opposition, and it will pass.

Last spring, on the last day of our session, the Minister of Finance of the day brought in a technical paper and said that it was going to cost the consumers of Nova Scotia $84 million more. Coming out of where? Their back pockets, out of their purses. I am telling you that a lot of my constituents cannot afford to pay more taxes, we are taxed to death as it is. When did we get that technical paper? The new Minister of Finance said that we would have this technical paper before he went to Ottawa to sign the papers. Well, that didn't happen. We got the technical paper after the deal was signed.

Like I say, if they had signed a deal with all of the Maritime Provinces or at least with the majority of the provinces and not increased the taxes to our poor consumers, it may have been a reasonable thing to do, but not to take money from our poor people who really cannot afford more taxes. How much consultation did they have? I believe they sent letters out to some of the businesses and I saw some of the replies. I want to tell you, some of those replies were not very favourable. (Interruption) No, they were not kind.

This province has a Law Amendments Committee and I have had the privilege to sit on that committee for a number of years and it is the only one in Canada actually. That is a very important group for people to make their views known and I just hope and pray that that committee will be given a free hand to meet and to hear all the groups that want to come in.

I was on the street the other day and I met some officials of this new regional municipality and I will not name them. They said, Donnie, when is the bill going to be passed? I said the bill was introduced today and when will it go to the Committee on Law Amendments? Well, I said, I would presume it would be next week sometime. They said, let us know because we want to go in and we want to express our opinions in regard to this bill.

[Page 3038]

There are 52, I guess no, there is not 52, there is only 50 of us now. Earle is in the hospital and we all think about Earle. He certainly was a fine member and one that we all respected and cared for. Ross, of course, has resigned on his own and so we are down to 50 members. The point is, what do people in general think about politicians? You know, a lot of them do not think very much about politicians. The Minister of Agriculture says that much. I want to say that I have had the privilege of being in this Legislature since 1978 and I have known, spoken and tried to be friends with most of the people in this Legislature and 99 per cent of the people that I have sat with in this House were fine people and they wanted to do what was right for their constituents. There is always a few bad apples in anything, whether they be Speakers or whether they be ministers of the cloth. I did not refer to anybody. (Interruption)

Never mind the rabbit tracks. I am home in the summertime and the people say to me, Donnie, why are you home? Why are you not in the Legislature? I know that a lot of you members get asked the same question. A pile of people, a pile of well educated people across this province do not know when we sit, they have no idea and I see a few members nodding their heads.

I think one of the reasons why they think we sit all the time is because they do show footage on the news sometimes and they will say to me, you are home. You have summer clothes on. Why aren't you down in Halifax representing us? Well, I tried to explain to them that the Legislature does not sit until the fall. I am saying, maybe we will be sitting in October. Not until October? What day did we sit? November 18th, I guess, was the day we sat.

Everybody knows what is going on right now in this Legislature and they know we are sitting. They are saying, you guys are going to sit there until 12:00 p.m. at night? I do not know what the hours are going to be.

AN HON. MEMBER: These backbenchers will be sitting and keeping a quorum.

MR. MCINNES: Well, that could be and the government has a lot of members and they can work that out and that will be their prerogative and they can do what they like with it. I am saying to you that the people know right now what we are doing in this Legislature. They know right now. (Interruption)

This resolution is brought in for one reason and one reason alone and that is to pass Bill No. 48, the tax grab. I think it is unfair that the government of the day went this route. I think they could have done the bill in the same manner that they would do any other bill.

[Page 3039]

[5:30 p.m.]

I say that we probably might have been here close to Christmas, but I am sure we would have got it passed. There is a procedure to go through. I don't need to go through the procedure on how bills go through the House. You all know that, as well I do. First reading is very simple. Second reading is where the minister gets up and speaks for a few moments and then members of the Opposition have an opportunity to speak. We would have a chance, probably, for two amendments, or maybe three, to pass the bill. How long would that take? Not all that long. That is what we are supposed to be down here for, to debate legislation.

At the last session, the session of 1994-95 on the casino bill, the government invoked a new rule about 20 hours in Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

AN HON. MEMBER: Was there any consultation . . .

MR. MCINNES: That, as I understand it, was forced on us. I happened to be away on vacation. I had a vacation planned then to go to Australia, mind you. I was down in Australia when that debate was on and I felt bad that I was not here to represent my constituency.

AN HON. MEMBER: We missed you.

MR. MCINNES: I am sure you did. (Interruption) Madam Speaker, when this government came to power, we had a health tax of 10 per cent, then it went to 11 per cent and now they are going to harmonize it and it is going to cost the average consumer of this province a lot of money, which they cannot afford - electricity, gas for their cars, diesel. What about the truckers, sneakers? (Interruption) Oh, my. It is terrible.

I want to go back, Madam Speaker, to electricity for a few moments and explain to you that I have electric heat at home and maybe my wife keeps the house too warm, I don't know, but we have a pretty good electrical bill. But say the average cost to heat a house would be $2,000. Do you know that that is going to be an additional cost of over $100 for those people? Their electrical bill. If I have a condo, $60 every two months. It is going to be an additional expense.

I don't understand why we have to pass this before Christmas. As I explained to you before, the only reason I know that the government is so anxious to push this bill through is they want to do their damage control. They want to have this out of the way because, next year, 1997, and, for sure, prior to May 1998, there has to be a provincial election in this province. (Interruption) I am not going to pick on the Government House Leader because he is not here. I am sure he has a hammer. I started explaining before and I got put off, Madam Speaker, about the bill going through second reading and then I explained that there could be a couple of amendments, maybe three, that the Speaker would allow. Then it would go to the Law Amendments Committee. As I say, I am sure that when this bill does go the Law

[Page 3040]

Amendments Committee, that we will have a line-up like we have not seen in quite awhile, and we have had a lot of line-ups at the Law Amendments Committee over the years.

Then, when that eventually does pass, and I hope and pray that the government of the day will not gag that committee, it has been suggested that we go around the province. Well, I have second thoughts about that, I don't think that is necessary but the fact is that we should give people the opportunity to come in and have their say. I must say that the chairmen over the years that I have sat on the committee, the present Minister of Finance was chairman, he seemed to be a good guy and he would let people talk for 15 minutes or, if they represented a large union or a large municipality, he would give them extra time.

We now have a new chairman of that committee, the Minister of Justice. We have had only a few brief meetings because we didn't have that much legislation to peruse. The fact is that he seemed very laid back and let the people have their say. I congratulate the Minister of Justice for doing it that way.

The former Minister of Agriculture, of course, used to chair that committee. He, in his wisdom, always did a good job, too, and listened to the people. As I understand it, we have 12 members here in Opposition and I think I am about the tenth who has spoken against this resolution. I don't think any one of the 10 were in favour of Resolution No. 921, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable member, I think we need to get your microphone turned up a little bit because it is difficult . . .

MR. MCINNES: Oh, do you want me to talk louder?

MADAM SPEAKER: Well, it is up to you. If you want, we could try to up the volume.

MR. MCINNES: Well that is fine, maybe there is a problem. I could try and talk louder. (Interruptions)

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable member, you have the floor.

MR. MCINNES: Madam Speaker, I am sorry if I am not talking loud enough. The honourable Minister of Agriculture says he can hear me and I know that he is listening intently to what I was suggesting. (Interruption) The member for Sackville-Cobequid can hear me, that's good.

Madam Speaker, I said that 10 of us have already spoken and that leaves two other members to speak on this resolution.

AN HON. MEMBER: There are 39 Liberals.

[Page 3041]

MR. MCINNES: That is exactly the point I was coming to, 39 members and I haven't heard, other than the House Leader who introduced Resolution No. 921, spoke very briefly (Interruption) and called for the previous question. That really threw me, that we are not allowed to make any amendments.

To be honest with you, I don't remember it being done before. Now maybe it was but I . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: And once more, previously by him.

MR. MCINNES: Once by him, two by him. Anyway, I thought that was very unfair.

Anyway, our Leader, in his wisdom, put an ad in the paper and I know that all members have seen it and I know it was tabled in the House and I should have a copy of it but I just can't put my hand on it, Madam Speaker, but the fact is that it blows my mind away to see the responses that have come into our office as a result of that ad. Thousands, I believe it is over 2,500, I don't want to exaggerate. (Interruption)

AN HON. MEMBER: We have had more than that sign petitions.

MR. MCINNES: Oh yes. Our Leader also tabled a petition with over 13,000 names on it, against the BST. You could not believe, I could not honestly, when they decided to put the ad in I was saying to myself, well, that is going to be a waste of money. The truth is that people took their scissors and cut that ad out, wrote their name on it, put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it and put it in the mail. I am looking at two of our girls yesterday over in the office, opening the envelopes, honestly (Interruption) Ladies or whatever. Women. Okay. They are very excellent staff members but they were doing the opening of these letters. It blows me away the number of people who have sent them in. Our Leader did have them at the House one day and perhaps we should have them here before we finish this debate, just to show you how many there were.

I went on longer than I really intended to, but I do want to mention P.E.I., which had a Liberal Government. In their wisdom, as I understand it, they had a committee appointed that went around the province and consulted with the people on whether they wanted to have this harmonized tax. What did they find out? They found out that the people did not want to do it. What did they do? The Liberal Government of P.E.I. decided not to do it. What happened to them? (Interruptions) Anyway, the fact is that they had the guts to send out a committee to hear the people. (Interruptions) The people of P.E.I. spoke and they elected a Progressive Conservative Government. Was that right and proper? Well, they did what the people wanted. They did not want to have that harmonization.

[Page 3042]

What has this government done? This government has brought in this bad resolution. This government has pushed amalgamations. They forced amalgamation on Cape Breton. What was the figure I saw today in the paper? (Interruptions) Madam Speaker, I appreciate the help. Halifax Regional Municipality. What are the costs? The thought was that we were going to do other counties, maybe Pictou County. I want to tell you that the people of Pictou County want to see what is happening in these other regions before they want to amalgamate, which was forced on them.

What else did they amalgamate? (Interruptions) I want to get one thing first. The school boards. Are the people of the Province of Nova Scotia happy about the amalgamation of the school boards in this province?

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, you are a tad off the resolution under debate.

MR. MCINNES: The point I am making, Madam Speaker, is that it is another amalgamation that refers to this resolution. The resolution says that we are going to change the sitting of the House hours, not only at the present time. As I understand it, this is not only for this bill. It would be forever, until it is changed again.

Anyway, Resolution No. 921 is a bad resolution. Madam Speaker, it is going to hurt the seniors of this province. The seniors are concerned. The seniors are not only concerned about the tax, they are concerned about the health care. I have had the privilege of being here for 18 years and I cannot believe the number of people who come up to me and say, Donnie, what is this government doing? We know you fellows would have had to do some of those things, but what are they doing? I can say sincerely that I cannot believe it. People who never talked politics to me before in my life come up and say, what is this government doing?

AN HON. MEMBER: When is the next election?

MR. MCINNES: When is the election? They are going to be gone, Donnie.

[5:45 p.m.]

Madam Speaker, originally I didn't intend to talk very long on this resolution but the thing is this is not a good resolution. As I understand it, unless it changed, it is cutting the hours of the House, and it is cutting the opportunity for members to have their say and that is not right. Every one of us was elected to come here and represent our constituents and have a right to express our thoughts. This resolution is bad and, needless to say, I will be voting against it. Thank you.

[Page 3043]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, as I rise in my place this afternoon, I have to say that this being the Christmas season, it is a time when we often are talking about joy, happiness and feeling warm inside, one of the things (Interruptions) I think Madam Speaker, since I am just speaking in a normal voice, the member's opposite would like to have a recess for 5 or 10 minutes while their mikes are turned down. (Interruptions)

MADAM SPEAKER: Order please.

MR. HOLM: Madam Speaker, what I was starting to say - and I understand that the peanut gallery, Heckle and Jeckle over there are now back in full swing and they are awake - I want to say that as we are talking about this being the festive season, a time full of joy and happiness and to give thanks for a lot of things, today I want to tell you that there is one thing that makes me awfully proud, that gives me a great deal of happiness, that gives me a sense of satisfaction, and I am one of 12 people in here who can say it . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Order please. I do not plan to sit in this Chair and listen to a debate that has to be shouted over the interjections and interruptions and comments flying about the room. I would like to hear the speaker, so if you want to take your conversations outside, that is fine, but the member for Sackville-Cobequid has the floor and I intend to hear him.

MR. HOLM: Thank you and I am just speaking in a normal voice and I am sorry, all I can say is anybody on the Liberal benches who doesn't want to listen to me, you can leave. I have no hesitation, if any and every one one of you to, I won't feel offended. Madam Speaker, you and I can stay here by ourselves if need be and I promise I won't call the quorum call for at least 10 seconds. So if members want to leave, that is up to them. Anyway, I want to go back to the point that I was making about feeling good, feeling happy, feeling joyful.

One of the things that gives me the greatest bit of pride and satisfaction is that I am able to stand here and say today that I am not a Liberal. I have never felt prouder to say that I am not a Liberal. I am not part of the travesty that is being inflicted upon the people of Nova Scotia. This bunch - and I put it in a respectful way because there are many other terms that I would like to use to describe them . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: I think you mean the honourable members.

MR. HOLM: Yes, I mean the honourable bunch of members. Yes indeed, they have been called gangs, they have been called a whole bunch of things, thugs, honourable school yard bullies, they are all of those things. That honourable bunch of thugs and I will point out that I . . .

[Page 3044]

MADAM SPEAKER: I will call attention one more time, when we speak of each other in this House, we do so with respect. My requirement is to try and maintain some order and decorum in here. We are all honourable members in this House.

MR. HOLM: Madam Speaker, an honourable was in front of every one of those . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Members.

MR. HOLM: . . . members and I assure you in my comments I was trying to portray at least as much respect as all those members deserve. Therefore, I will always make sure that I am including the proper respect in my motion as they deserve because I know that we are very strict adherents to the rules in this place.

Madam Speaker, it is not only the honourable Government House Leader who is responsible for the travesty that is being put before us, it is not only the honourable Government House Leader who is responsible for the tyranny and the attempt to tear up democracy and trash our Rule Book, it is also the honourable members for Lunenburg, for Timberlea-Prospect, for Sackville-Beaverbank, for Yarmouth, for Halifax Bedford Basin. Oh, yes, we want to have the member from Glace Bay and we want all the other members. Each and every one of these members who sits back silently, quietly condoning what is being done here, is equally responsible. They can go back to their ridings this weekend, probably at midnight tomorrow if the government has its way, because we cannot, under their new rule, sit on Saturday and Sunday.

You will also be pleased to know, Madam Speaker, and I am sure you have already had a rule interpretation, that under their rules they also will not be able to sit on Christmas Day. You will have Christmas Day off. But they might introduce a new rule for that. Of course they can because nothing in here, we have seen it again today, and we have seen it all along, nothing in this Rule Book means anything. It has no respect from the members opposite. This government's attitude, its arrogance dripping, its view is that might is right and we can do whatever we want and that the Legislature of Nova Scotia is an inconvenience that we have to tolerate.

So as you go back to your ridings, when you go back to Cumberland County, when you go back to Halifax Needham, when you go back to Hants County and you talk to constituents and you turn around and the constituents say, what are you doing to us? You cannot say, as some people do, oh, it is not my fault, it is the Premier, or it is the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, the Government House Leader, it is their decision, not ours. Well, Madam Speaker, as a long-standing parliamentarian, you know as well as each and every other member in this House that a leader can only lead so long as the sheep will follow. That is what a shepherd does.

[Page 3045]

Madam Speaker, here we have a Premier and the Premier can only lead if his honourable members in his caucus . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: His flock.

MR. HOLM: You thought I was going to say something else. Well, some people are saying his flock, but honourable members, they have to follow. The decisions that are being made are weighing equally on each and every one of you who do not stand up and be counted. What we have before us, that rule change, has to do with one thing, the BS Tax. That is what this is all about.

Madam Speaker, I want to think back to some words of wisdom that came from government bench members. There were compliments paid by the former Speaker, for example, to the current Minister of Finance. I believe that the current Minister of Finance, himself, is a strong supporter of democratic principles, as I believe some other members of the Liberal benches are. The Minister of Finance, in a former portfolio, when he introduced another piece of legislation, made some comments that are, I believe, extremely germane, extremely relevant to the debate that is before us because in introducing the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the then Attorney General said, "In order to operate responsibly, a democracy must put as much information as possible in the hands of its citizens, so they can have the knowledge needed to exercise political power.". Power is knowledge. This government is attempting to remove the power from the people, what is the proper term, to disempower the population, to disempower people by denying access to information.

The minister was bang on in his comments. They were wise words, they were words that unfortunately his colleagues have decided are not worth honouring. In order to operate responsibly, that is an important and very powerful word and we hear all the time about rights and responsibilities, responsibilities are what come before privileges. This government was given a very unique privilege. They were given the privilege by the people of this province, the privilege to govern, the privilege to hold the trust of the people in their hands. That is an honour that is an extreme privilege and therefore if the government has that privilege they have a responsibility to live up to, to honour the trusts that it made with the people of this province. It must act responsibly.

The minister, as part of that statement that I referred to, said, ". . . put as much information as possible in the hands of its citizens . . .". What this resolution is about is putting a muzzle on this place. It is aimed at shutting down this House as fast as possible so that the general public will not have an opportunity to gain the facts, gain the information about the BS Tax that is going to be imposed on them. This government knows that as people are finding out more about that flimsy, skeleton, seven page bill that was tabled in this House, they know that opposition is mounting. They know that the public is becoming incensed by what is happening. Turn on the radio and listen to any talk show, look at the ads in the paper,

[Page 3046]

read the comments, why didn't you go out and talk to the people who are walking around this Chamber today? (Interruption) We would like you to be out there. The Minister of Education said we would like to be out there.

I say to you, Madam Speaker, in a respectful way, of course, to the honourable Minister of Education, he said he would like to be out there, I assure the minister, through you, that those people who have been walking around this Chamber would have loved to see the Minister of Education and Culture out there with them and they would have loved to have an opportunity to bend his ear, to talk to him and to have him actually listen instead of sloughing off the concerns.

One of the people who I heard on a phone-in show this morning was asked a question about the BS Tax, what do you want from the government? This is a person who said they talked to an assistant of the Premier for about half an hour. What did you expect? What did you want? What do you want to get from that tax? Do you know what she said and it was a very powerful message and it is what most people want most of all and what they are getting none of from this government, what she said she wanted was respect; a very powerful message by that woman who called in and oh, so true.

What we have here is a resolution to change what has now become, seen by some of us, myself anyway, as a joke, it means very little, it is almost like we have a free-for-all in here.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. We have reached the moment of interruption.

MR. HOLM: Yes, I will come back at 6:30 p.m.

MADAM SPEAKER: You have used 14 minutes of your time.

The late show this evening is on a resolution submitted by the honourable member for Kings North. I understand the member for Pictou West is leading off.

[Therefore be it resolved that the Economic Renewal Agency take action to ensure that the Caribou to Wood Islands Ferry is promoted.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

[Page 3047]

ERA: FERRY (N.S.-P.E.I.) - PROMOTE

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity tonight to speak on the Adjournment debate re Northumberland Ferries. As some of you will remember, I did get to ask a question to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency today in regard to whether he had read the report that was done because the fixed link is going to be in place next year.

[6:00 p.m.]

The Northumberland Ferry does serve between Wood Islands on Prince Edward Island and Caribou; of course, Caribou is in my constituency, it is only about nine miles from where I live, actually. This ferry has been a major factor in the economy of eastern P.E.I. and for Pictou County for more than 50 years. The ferry provides an important transportation service for industrial, commercial, recreational and family travel. In fact, the Northumberland Ferry terminal in Caribou is the second largest entry point into Nova Scotia.

They not only come to Pictou when they come into Caribou, but they do travel around the county. Then they will travel across the province, maybe to Antigonish, to Guysborough, to Cape Breton and around that beautiful Cabot Trail. I would also suggest that they probably do go down to Lunenburg and to Halifax and to Truro and other great places, and the Annapolis Valley, of course.

With the completion of the new Confederation Bridge fixed link between PEI and New Brunswick, there was some fear in Pictou County as to the impact the bridge might have on our ferry service, the Northumberland Ferry service. The fact is that Transport Canada is uncertain about its future level of support if, in fact, there will be any level of support for Northumberland. That ferry travel is about an hour and a half to ride across from Caribou to Wood Islands, or vice versa. You know it is a nice sail in the summertime.

A lot of people from Pictou County will take their car down, park their car and ride over on the ferry and then come back. My poor late father used to go every summer and take my little girls over with him for that trip on the ferry. We just hope that that ferry will continue to be an important link to Nova Scotia from P.E.I. because there are going to be a lot of people make that trip to go up and drive over the new fixed link.

I am going to drive up to Cape Tormentine and drive over on the new fixed link. But what am I going to do? I am going to come back across from Wood Islands to Caribou. I think there will be a lot of people do that, because they will want to see that fixed link. It is, as I understand it, one of the biggest bridges in the world, with the construction, and it is something that we all want to look at and I am sure it will change P.E.I. really.

[Page 3048]

Madam Speaker, Northumberland Ferries Limited, in cooperation with ACOA and municipal development officials in both provinces, commissioned a study on the Wood Islands-Caribou service from ATI Consultants out of Halifax. Many of the findings and recommendations of that report are ones that we should consider. That report concluded that Northumberland Ferries currently generates significant direct and indirect economic benefits for Pictou County. The Northumberland Ferries, in total, produce 762 jobs in Nova Scotia and $17.7 million in household income. The importance of these jobs is especially so in my area of the province; 698 jobs and $16.1 million worth of household income are in Pictou County.

The ferry service alone produces 103 jobs in Pictou County, as well as an additional 18 jobs in the rest of Nova Scotia. The impact the ferry has on tourism, of course, is much higher - 595 jobs in Pictou County alone - as well as an additional 46 jobs around the rest of the province.

The key challenge facing Northumberland now is whether that Confederation Bridge will take away customers from the remaining ferry line at Wood Islands and Caribou. As I say, I do not think it will. I think it will increase the traffic at Wood Islands and Caribou.

That ATI report, again I have it if anybody would be interested in it, says Northumberland will keep its customers if consumer costs are competitive with the bridge - my understanding is that the cost of going on the bridge is going to be approximately the same as travelling on the ferry and two people going to the Island on the ferry would cost you about $50 in total - and that wait times do not become an issue. People do get very discouraged if you have to sit there.

There were line-ups before the new Confederation - the largest ferry that sails between Wood Islands and Caribou is called the Confederation, too so we now have the Confederation Bridge and the ferry of Northumberland Ferries is called the Confederation as well - since that boat has come on, the line-ups have not been so great because it can take that many more cars. I think it is 214, in that vicinity, which is a lot of vehicles. It almost amazes me when you go down to the ferry terminal and you will see a big line-up of cars and they will pull the boat in and load them up. It is unbelievable how they can pile them in.

I think it is important too that the report states that shoulder season promotional packages are developed in cooperation with land-based tourism operators. It is important that the present level of service needs to be continued and improved. I support the report's finding that any plan developed for the continuance of the Northumberland Ferry must be based on the following principles:

The Wood Islands-Caribou service is of such economic importance to Pictou County and to eastern P.E.I. that major efforts must be made to see that the ferry survives. Industries in both areas depend on the ferry as their primary mode of transportation. You cannot believe,

[Page 3049]

Madam Speaker, again the number of - there is not much gravel on P.E.I., as some of the members will be well aware - the trucks that go through and haul gravel across that ferry. You can meet as many as 10 trucks in the early morning and I am talking about tractor trailers that are taking gravel from Mount Thom to P.E.I. This has been going on for years and years.

I see Madam Speaker saying I only have a minute left.

The other point I want to make is I hope the government of the day and the Department of Tourism - not Tourism now but the Economic Renewal Agency - does support and in fact does promotion to see that this ferry can continue and to develop that important second largest entry point into Nova Scotia and to see that there is money available for advertising. The dollar in the United States is not quite as good as it was, but it is still pretty good in Nova Scotia. I think we should be encouraging those people to come to Nova Scotia, maybe drive over on the new bridge, come around the Island and come back into Pictou County and visit Nova Scotia. Thank you very much.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. WAYNE FRASER: Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise in the House this evening. I am very honoured to have the opportunity to reply to a resolution concerning the importance of the Caribou to Wood Islands ferry.

It is true that this ferry service is of great importance to our entire northern region of Nova Scotia. It is of major importance to Pictou County. Indeed, I think it is of major importance to all of Nova Scotia.

According to Mr. John Cormier, the General Manager of Northumberland Ferries Limited, they carry over 550,000 people a year across that Strait. That is almost 10 times the entire population of Pictou County every summer we have coming through our county.

These people that are coming through our county, through northeastern Nova Scotia, are stopping at our hotels, our motels, our restaurants, they are stopping at our campgrounds and they are generating a tremendous amount of economic activity for all of us. As my colleague from Pictou West has just indicated, it is for all of Pictou County. It is not just Pictou East or Pictou West, it is everywhere.

Of particular note were our tourism statistics for the Northumberland Shore region in 1995. I am pleased to report to you and to all members of this House that overall tourism receipts for 1995 totalled over $70 million in the northeastern region. That is up 11 per cent from 1994. Something that I am very proud of is that of all seven regions in our province, the Northumberland region had the biggest growth rates of any.

[Page 3050]

I would like to continue to report that tourism in our region has made great gains in our communities due in large part to the generosity and hard work of the people employed in the industry. Twenty-two hundred people, with a payroll of $27 million are doing a great job working in our tourism related businesses, including hotels, motels, restaurants and at the various attractions and at our visitor information centres.

For one brief moment, I hope you will indulge me as I comment about the visitor information centres throughout our region. More and more communities are taking pride in their visitor information centres. The centres are not just a tourist bureau anymore but a representation of the community and all of the attractions and facilities that it has to offer the visitor. I have seen great improvements in all of the visitor information centres throughout our province and I believe thanks, in part, now goes to the programs initiated by Tourism Nova Scotia and the various regional tourist associations, including the Pictou County Tourist Association.

This successful partnership between government and industry evaluates and makes suggestions for any enhancements. Each year, awards of quality are presented to each visitor information centre. I am proud to report that the evaluations for awards of quality continue to show marked improvement year after year in the Northumberland Shore region. Visitors to our Northumberland Shore tourism region are now recognizing that a visitor information centre's award of quality sign on the exterior of the building is an assurance of high level of quality of service at that location.

So you see, Madam Speaker, why I am proud to boast the significant gains in the tourism industry in our region, gains that I don't think would have been so significant had it not been for the impact of the Caribou-Wood Islands Ferry Service. This government, through the Economic Renewal Agency, has been very supportive of any initiative to promote the Caribou-Wood Islands Ferry run.

It seems only timely to report though you to the members of this House that just yesterday a meeting of profound importance to the Caribou-Wood Islands Ferry Service took place. This meeting was attended by staff and representatives of Nova Scotia Marketing, the Pictou Regional Development Commission, the Pictou County Tourism Association, the Northumberland Ferries Limited, the Tourism Association of Prince Edward Island, Opportunities East of P.E.I. and Highland East, a marketing arm of the P.E.I. Tourism Association. Called by the Pictou County Tourism Association, this meeting took place at Stellarton's Museum of Industry, another landmark in Pictou County that is drawing many tourists to our region.

This meeting took place to develop both a short-term marketing plan and a long-term plan for 1998 and 1999. Of course, the overall goal of this influential working group is to encourage people travelling in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to not only use the Caribou-Wood Islands Ferry as a way of completing a travel loop, but also to encourage

[Page 3051]

people to stay longer. I have seen many improvements in this service over the last number of years.

The plan which these groups have come up with is basically to make people look at the link between Prince Edward Island as part of a package. You have Kings County on one side of P.E.I. and you have Pictou County on the other side and it is almost like a barbell with the two bells on each side and the link in between being the ferry.

[6:15 p.m.]

By way of background here, Madam Speaker, I will remind you and members of this House that the Economic Renewal Agency held round table discussions throughout our province to generate marketing plans and some of these marketing plans include our region.

Madam Speaker, the Pictou County Tourism Association presented the proposal to set up yesterday's meeting and the ERA, you will not be surprised to know, agreed completely. Following yesterday's meeting, I understand that they are now committed to a planning meeting set for December 16th in Montague, P.E.I. This meeting will allow the members to work on the components of both the short and the long-term plans for 1997, 1998 and 1999.

Madam Speaker, I think many people have looked at the fixed link as perhaps a threat to the ferry service. But you know, in a lot of ways, the fixed link can be looked at as an opportunity for the ferry service. Because I think what the fixed link is going to do is create more traffic and I think the people that use the fixed link are going to want to come across on that ferry and I think it is going to be a great benefit for Pictou County. But I don't think we can sit back and just assume it is going to happen. I think we, in Pictou County, Nova Scotia and in P.E.I. have to work together to make sure that people know it is there and to know the benefits of it are there.

As the member for Pictou West mentioned earlier, we have to show the intrinsic value of getting on that ferry. The ferry service, themselves, have to market it better. They have to market it throughout the United States, throughout the rest of Canada. I think, in addition to the ferry service, we also have to do a better job of marketing Pictou County. We have to show what great things we have in Pictou County. We have done a great deal of work in the Town of Pictou, the province has done a great deal of work in the Town of Pictou with a tremendous waterfront development project. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but, I think, this summer, despite the bad weather and perhaps a little bit of a slow season in many parts of the province, I think the Town of Pictou had a booming tourism season. I know when I was walking around, the waterfront was very busy.

This year, the Town of New Glasgow, with help from the Economic Renewal Agency, started their waterfront development and I think this is something that can tie in with the waterfront development down in the Town of Pictou. I know, in my part of the county, like

[Page 3052]

Melmerby Beach, Roy Island, there are many areas where we can tie all these things in. I think this is something that we have to package. We have to package it more, not just the ferry run, but we have to make it a complete deal for everybody.

AN HON. MEMBER: Warmest waters.

MR. FRASER: Warmest waters east of the Carolinas. The other thing that I think we have to pull up and it is something that I have noticed is that a great many people that come to Nova Scotia and Pictou County from inland - and by inland I mean Ontario or New York or Ohio - want to see the water. I know we have a small operator down in Lismore who started up a small boat tour company. It took a little bit of work to get this going, but now he is out giving tours all up and down the Northumberland Coast. He picks people up in Lismore and he sails up to Pictou, stops at the marina, goes to Pictou Island. I think we have to market this more and market it more effectively.

I know this group is working very hard and I don't mean to put words in their mouths, but I think they have to look more and more at selling some of these products on the boat while the boat is going back and forth. I think that when you are on that boat it is a great time. You are a captive audience and I think that they can sell many of the products that we have to offer in our area.

In closing, Madam Speaker, I think some people look at the fixed link as a threat to ferry service, but I look at the fixed link as a benefit for the ferry service. I think it is going to give us that little push to make it all that much more attractive. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: If there are no further speakers on this, the House will recess until 6:30 p.m.

[6:21 p.m. The House recessed.]

[6:30 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The House will resume.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

Res. 921, re Rules of the House (Amendment - Extended Sitting Hours) - notice given Nov. 29/96 - (Hon. R. Mann) [Debate resumed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid has 46 minutes remaining.

[Page 3053]

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I assume you are going by the clock directly ahead of you, so I would have until 7:16:30 p.m. Thank you, I just would not want to miss the opportunity or fail to have tried to work into my remarks a few of the points because I ran out of time. Of course this is a very important topic and there is a lot to be said on it.

Now, Mr. Speaker, before we had the hour of interruption - that is in our rules and I think it is a very important thing that we have the hour of interruption. It is contained in our rules and, hopefully, it won't be one that the government decides to scrap and to throw away because it does give the members an opportunity for areas around the province that have special interests, special concerns, or I should say, more importantly, that their constituents have important concerns, important issues that need to be debated on the floor of the House and, when there isn't normally the opportunity to do that during the course of the day, to have the opportunity to submit that topic and, if they are successful in having their topic drawn, then that matter can be raised on the floor.

I just want to say, Mr. Speaker, that I am glad that is one of the rules, a very important rule that I think we still do have, and I am very pleased that the government, in its haste to railroad its agenda through in this undemocratic, unparliamentary manner, that it hasn't decided to scrap that opportunity to members to at least have some of those issues also being addressed because I don't put anything beyond this government.

This afternoon I was talking about the very wise words of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice - when I say Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Mr. Speaker, I am referring to the former, so that I do not confuse them; the former Attorney General and Minister of Justice and currently the Minister of Finance - when he said that in order to operate responsibly a democracy must put as much information as possible in the hands of its citizens.

The Minister of Education over there, even he recognizes the wisdom of that and he, across the floor, offers his friendly and helpful two cents worth by saying, hear, hear. I say hear, hear as well; hear, hear to the former Attorney General, the current Minister of Finance, for recognizing that a government has a responsibility to put as much information. (Interruption) Oh, a fundamental cornerstone of democracy.

You know, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education and Culture, the Minister of Community Services, who acts in this House like he is the Minister of Comic Relief, that minister says it is good to put in that culture part. I want to say to the Minister of Education and Culture, who said that putting information into the hands of the people is a cornerstone of democracy, as he offered across the floor in a helpful way, then I suggest that he should go back and take his front bench honourable members aside. Maybe he can go down to the bunker where they make all the decisions, down to the bunker behind the red curtain where

[Page 3054]

they make all the decisions now, he could take them down and he, as a former educator, could explain to them what democracy actually means. He could explain what responsible government means - open, accountable, accessible.

He is not too bad, that is good rhetoric. Now we have, Mr. Speaker, that very same minister, because it is not only the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency who, of course, is getting the bricks thrown at him, it is not only he or the Premier who are responsible for the travesty that is being imposed here - the Minister of Education and Culture, openness, honesty, accountability he says - he is also behind this.

Mr. Speaker, I bet at the end of this there will be a recorded vote and he will vote yes. In other words - and I cannot use the hypocritical word in here - you are confirming that I am right. Maybe some other members can think of another word that has exactly the same meaning that would be more parliamentary for me to use, because I will not use that. How he can then be supporting a resolution that flies completely in the face of responsible government of accountability and openness?

This resolution that we have before us today is about the BS Tax, the Liberal's BS Tax. What it is saying and what we have seen by some practices in this House is that the book we go by, our Rules and Forms of Procedure of this House is really meaningless. The government - you have to feel sorry for them, you really have to bleed for them - they only have 39 members and the poor honourable thugs in the Opposition, obviously, all 12 of us, are able to beat them up and thwart their plans. To the best of my knowledge, by my recollection, it is not the Opposition that decides when the House will reconvene, it is the Premier in consultation with his frontbenchers who sends a notice to the Speaker and tells the Speaker to advise members when the House will sit. It was the government that said the House would not go back in until November 18th.

There are all kinds of groups, organizations and others out there that have legislation and have been trying to have it brought before this House. This government said it had virtually no business to bring before this House this fall. That is what they said and therefore they decided to delay the timing of the House coming in. They also said - and, of course, they are all honourable people, so they would not intentionally mislead this House, and some people believe that - they said that the BS Tax bill would not be introduced until the spring.

I believe - and I do not think it unparliamentary to talk about what you believe to be a fact - I honestly believe that the government was trying to sucker the Opposition and to sucker Nova Scotians. I honestly believe that the government had very single intention of bringing in the legislation this fall despite what they said. A little over 10 days ago they were saying, we will not see the legislation until the spring.

AN HON. MEMBER: Speculation, John. You're guessing now.

[Page 3055]

MR. HOLM: Some call it speculating, some call it guessing. I would like to think of it as a an educated guess based on the past performance and record of this government. There was going to be no tax increases, 30-60-90 was going to be producing all of these; no casinos were coming to Nova Scotia; they were going to improve the Workers' Compensation Act, not penalize the workers; and they were going to work in partnership with business, with government, with workers. Every single commitment, every single promise that has been made has been torn up and broken. (Interruption) I missed the synonyms, you left your helpful comments there.

Mr. Speaker, here the government turns around and this is what I truly, honestly do believe. I believe the government knew and knows that the BS Tax deal is bad for Nova Scotia. The members who are sitting on the back benches who are not allowed to get up to speak . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Did they get any phone calls?

MR. HOLM: They are receiving phone calls, I am sure. If they don't, nobody wants to talk to them. Let them turn on their radio in the morning and listen to any talk show. Let them pick up the newspapers and read the letters to the editor or, maybe, you can become a real, live human being and place yourself at the end of the 1-800 duck line. That is what I call the Premier's hotline where you can call in. Let some of you go and sit and man that - or woman that, maybe I should say, properly, person - phone line, so that the people who call in get a real, live human being to vent their spleen at other than a poor, public servant who has to sit there and take the abuse because that is their paycheque.

Well, members opposite and over on the far side, members of the Liberal caucus are also receiving paycheques, so let you go earn some of your money, sit on that line and hear what people are saying, the anger, the mistrust that they have. That might be a productive use of time. It would maybe be more productive than having to sit here just to make a quorum. Mr. Speaker, they would find out that Nova Scotians are very angry. But what the government, since they know that BS Tax is so unpopular, they know that it is going to be so harmful on the middle income and the lower income people in this province who do not normally go out and buy a new yacht, this government that is even talking now about yanking up, cranking up to 17 per cent, the tax charged on used cars. (Interruption)

The Minister of the Environment over there says, what? Well, if the Minister of the Environment wants to check, at the briefing and the introduction of the bill, people had talked about the fact that they are considering the tax on used cars up to 17 per cent so it will equal the tax being charged on new cars and only be reduced down to 15 per cent at the same rate, in the same time-frame. (Interruption)

AN HON. MEMBER: Einstein over there.

[Page 3056]

MR. HOLM: No, he is the minister in charge of comic relief. Anyway, the government knows that. So what they want to do is, they are hoping to railroad this bill through this Chamber and then down the hall to the Law Amendments Committee as fast as they possibly can and to railroad people through there as fast as they can, 15 minutes. Do you know, at 15 minutes a presentation, if you sit for 12 hours, that is 48 presentations they can hear. They are calculating that even if there are 200 people or groups who want to appear, at 15 minutes in 12 hour sittings then they can proceed through them all in just four days. There is nothing that would stop that Law Amendments Committee meeting from 8:00 o'clock in the morning until 12:00 o'clock midnight, Mr. Speaker.

The rules changes. This place, if we look around, if you want a really scary thought, if this does not give Nova Scotians nightmares, I don't know what does. Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia has a budget of about $4.5 billion. Imagine, this is a board of directors of that multi-billion dollar a year operation. This is a board of directors of a multibillion dollar corporation, owned by the public of Nova Scotia. This board of governors has decided that they will not allow the shareholders, who are the people of the Province of Nova Scotia, to have any more say than they can possibly help into how this corporation is being run.

[6:45 p.m.]

The government talks about this BS Tax as the most significant, the most major tax change since Confederation. This is the honourable bunch that before the last election acknowledged that there needed to be changes in the tax system in this province and promised that they would establish a fair tax commission. The fair tax commission was going to go out, go around the province, talk to people, hear briefs, hear what the communities have to say and then be proposing, through legislation presumably, changes in the tax rules.

Instead, what do we have? We have a government that has decided, first, they are going to try to snooker Nova Scotians, they are going to try to make them believe that they have several more months to debate this bill or to study the BS Tax deal. This takes away from the sense of urgency to get involved or to understand it.

Then, at the drop of a hat, without any advanced warning at all, when Opposition members and House Leaders were trying to consult with - what is a business, trying to be as cooperative as you can be with the government - at the last minute they announce that they are going to introduce the BS Tax bill. Then without any consultation whatsoever, they bring in this resolution with closure at the same time because they do not want Nova Scotians, the shareholders, the people who pay their wages, to whom the government promised to be open and accountable, they don't want them to have an opportunity to find out what is being done.

The bill that was introduced is a skeleton. It basically sets up a framework and allows the government, and this is another scary thought, down in their bunker, behind closed doors, behind that red curtain of secrecy where there is no public record, where even through the

[Page 3057]

Freedom of Information Act you cannot get access to the documents that are provided as advice, they then will make all of the regulations affecting that bill.

We were told that the BS Tax isn't going to apply to books, we were assured of that. But all we are doing is taking the government's word for it because it is not in the legislation. It is not there. We are told there is going to be, oh, this is partnered with another piece of legislation, for example, other changes, that there are going to be increased capital costs for those large profitable corporations. It is not in that bill.

These are all things that are supposed to come down the road a year from now, not now. The only ones who are going to get affected right away are the consumers in Nova Scotia whose pants are going to be worn out because the government is sticking its hand in so often and so fast taking more tax dollars out that they are going to need a new pair. Then they are going to have to pay the full BST of 15 per cent on those new pants after they get it through.

What does this resolution do? What we have before us is that, "The Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly are amended by adding immediately after Rule 5B the following Rule:". So, they are going to add a new rule in and it is not only in there for now, it doesn't say this is temporary, it doesn't say it is only for the BS Tax bill. "Notwithstanding Rules 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.". So at any time any of the rules that we have in here governing the hours that the House can sit, after the tyrannical resolution is passed - and it will be, I am wasting my time in terms of being able to persuade the government members to make any changes, I know that. The only satisfaction I am getting out of this is at least I am able to vent my spleen, I am able to tell the government to their faces exactly what I think of what you are doing, which is exactly what most Nova Scotians would love to have the opportunity to do. I am expressing here the anger, and I assure you that it is an honest anger at this government and its approach that most Nova Scotians would love to have the chance to do and say face to face.

This government can now turn around any time, no matter how bad the legislation, no matter how angry the public is outside, they can come in and with a majority vote - not even a two-thirds majority to change the rules here - they can simply say, if they want, we have decided that tomorrow we will meet from the hours of 6:00 a.m., until 12:00 at night. There is nothing to say that they cannot call the House to meet from 6:00 a.m. to the following 6:00 a.m. and before that House rises at 6:00 on the following morning, they can say, and we now declare that the hours for the following day will be two minutes hence. Some people call it dictatorial but I think that is a compliment. I would call it a few terms that are a little bit stronger than dictatorial but I might be sat in my place if I told you what I really thought of it.

[Page 3058]

We have a committee of this House and now you, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see are the Chair of that committee. I have had the honour of sitting on that committee, although it has done hardly anything because it is not called together. We have seen in the last little while under the Liberals that when you go and meet, if we in the Opposition are not prepared to automatically roll over, play dead and accept everything they want, they don't call us back together again. No give and take, no discussions. They just sit over there and say, oh, you obstructionist, you won't agree with us so there is no sense calling it. Therefore, they bring in legislation, they bring in resolutions here to override our rules.

Mr. Speaker, I have had the honour, I have had the privilege of being in this House now for over 12 years. I sat through this House when you have had two major majority governments, one blue, now red. You know, under the Blue Team, yes, resolutions were introduced to amend the hours of the House. I can remember on the rare occasion sitting here from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 midnight. I do remember that.

Mr. Speaker, a couple of points and a couple of things are different. First of all, that was not a rule change in the book. It didn't give them automatic power to do it any time. They had to pass a resolution through the House every session when they did it.

There are another couple of points. As much as I didn't like it sometimes, it was nowhere as bad. I hate to say it; it is sort of what you call a backhanded compliment to the Tories and a swipe at the Liberals. You know, what the Tories did wasn't as bad as what the Liberal Team did - and I am not going to say the Savage Team, it is the whole team - because when the Tories did it, as I said, they did not change the Rule Book, plus when that happened we met one session a year and our Rule Book said we only met for four hours a day. Even we in Opposition were saying that four hours a day was not enough time to do the business of the House. We need to meet in an orderly fashion. We need to amend the rules. When the Tories had the massive majority they did not pay any attention because they had two-thirds of the votes in here and they could ride roughshod over the Opposition.

After 1988 things changed and a lot of you were over here in Opposition. We would not allow them to ride roughshod since they did not have two-thirds of the votes. We would not allow them to extend the hours unilaterally as they had done. Instead, we said we have a Rules and Procedures Committee of the House. Let's sit down and let's amend the rules in a proper forum. And guess what? We did. Cooperation. People came. It was not that we had the massive majority anymore. We have the might. We have the right. We can ride roughshod. Then it was a matter of gee whiz, maybe it would be time to sit down and talk. So that was done and we agreed to extend the hours of the House. We agreed unanimously - all members of that committee. We agreed that the hours would increase from four to six to eight hours. We agreed to that. We passed a resolution in this House with the unanimous support of all members of this House. Amazing. When you do not have a tyrannical majority, sometimes you can have cooperation. Sometimes then the government will say maybe it is in our best

[Page 3059]

interests to cooperate. Maybe it is in our best interest to talk to people. Maybe it is in our best interest to respect the Opposition members. (Interruptions)

Maybe they are living in Technicolor. Maybe they have been on pixie dust or something. Maybe they are dreaming and they are hoping that after the next election they might have 26 or 27 seats that they might be able to have a government. Therefore they will safely sit a majority in here instead of two-thirds because they know they will not have that. In fact, they will not be government, I don't think. I am very pleased to be sitting beside the next Premier here and I especially want to thank the members on the government benches, all of them, because nobody is doing more than this Liberal Government to ensure that people will look somewhere else for the next government. You are doing, each and every one of you, the utmost you possibly can to ensure that somebody else is there.

One of the rules under this composition of the committee has all members - members from all Parties - on that. We are meeting next week, believe it or not. This is sort of interesting and I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for calling the committee together.

AN HON. MEMBER: When was the last time the committee met?

MR. HOLM: The Committee on Assembly Matters - the last time we met, I do not know. I would have to go back into my archives and look. We met since 1994. We would get together for a meeting and we would submit things and we met a couple of times. We have met a few times. There were not ongoing things. After government members seemed not to be able to get their way immediately, I guess, it was not called again. I do not know. Anyway, we are going to meet next Wednesday. I am pleased and I think it is an important topic that we are going to be talking about - the airing of Legislative proceedings on cable TV. I introduced a resolution on that in the House. I think it is an important issue, but so is this.

I would argue. I would contend that what we are talking about in this Draconian, this autocratic, this dictatorial motion that was put forward is more important than that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Then why bother having the committee?

MR. HOLM: I do not know why we bother having the committee. I honestly wonder if this government sees any point to having a Legislature.

They make all the decisions and in the legislation like the BS Tax bill is structured in such a way that all they have to get through here is a skeleton, just a mere frame. There is no guts and there is no meat on those bones Everything is to be decided down in secret where the public cannot have any input. (Interruptions)

[Page 3060]

The Minister of Finance as well back in 1993 said, ". . . availability of information determines whether we are governed by the will of the people or the whim of the people.". Mr. Speaker, it is obviously this government's view that the people should be ruled by the whim of this government.

[7:00 p.m.]

The Premier, boy, it is amazing how sometimes attitudes change, back before the last election, said that accountability is not to be left to the discretion of the government of the day.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who said that?

MR. HOLM: That was are fearless Premier, then Opposition Leader, should not be left to the discretion of the government of the day. You know, if you take a look at what rules say and what notable parliamentarians say, Bourinot, under the principles of parliamentary democracy which really is a Canadian version of Robert's Rules of Order, 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 to prevent any legislative action being taken upon sudden impulse.".

What we have here is a government that is acting in the most tyrannical of fashions. Parliamentary democracy is supposed to be open free debate. I understand why they are doing this. There is an election not too far away, it has to be in a little over a year and people get depressed when I say the government can hold on to May 1998, they get rather depressed. They say, it cannot be that long, is it? They think this bunch has been in there already for 10 years or 15 years. They cannot wait for that vote. That all having been said, this government promised that it was going to be open, that it was going to be accountable, that it was going to listen to the people.

MR. HOLM: I am glad the government introduced the bill now. It is still not too late for the government to do a number of things and I say to the Premier that his marks will rise significantly with Nova Scotians and to each and every one of you in the backbenches that your esteem will increase dramatically with the people of this province, if you do a couple of things. One, announce that you are going to stop being tyrannical in here in trying to impose your new rules. Secondly, to say we have introduced the BST, we have introduced our BS Tax. They know, as well as I know, that the federal ministers have said there is no rush. Other provinces have not announced that they are going down the railroad tracks like this government has.

[Page 3061]

They know that there is time for open and more importantly honest consultation. They also know that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for most men and women in this province to be able to travel to Halifax, to Province House, to the Red Room to make their opinions known. If the Premier wants to increase his marks, if he wants to increase the esteem in which people hold him and his government, the Premier can stand up in the debate and I will even yield the floor for him if he wants to make a helpful intervention and say, we will not, when this bill passes second reading in this House, rush that through to the Committee on Law Amendments, instead, what we will do is what we promised to do - we will consult with Nova Scotians, we will take the details of the legislation and we will go on a road show. We will travel around this province and go to where the people are. You could set up in shopping centres, you can set up in schools, you can set up in a lot of places around this province. Let's go out to the people; let's go out and let them ask you questions; let's go out and explain to them what is going to happen. Put your evidence before them in their places.

I challenge you to do that. You might even persuade some of the sceptics that maybe you are right. The process that is being followed, Mr. Speaker, is sending a very clear message to Nova Scotians. Whether this government knows it or not, what you have told Nova Scotians already is that this is a bad deal. You have told that to Nova Scotians clearly and you have said that it is not only a bad deal, but that you are afraid to talk to them about it.

Yes, you will spend thousands and thousands of taxpayers' dollars and you will have your spin doctors create advertisements and you will spend the tax dollars of the men and women across this province, and the children. They will spend the money that they are going to be collecting by an extra 5 per cent on the electricity bills; the extra 8 per cent that they are going to be taking out of people's pockets every time they fill up their car with gasoline or put oil in their furnace; some of that extra money that they are taking out of those families' pockets, that extra 8 per cent every time they buy school supplies for their children or socks or shirts or underwear or any clothing under $100, and the list goes on. They will take some of that extra money they are ripping out of the pockets of these people who are struggling to get by and they will hire skilled craftspersons to design ads to run in the newspapers, on the radio, on TV, to try to tell Nova Scotians that this is good for them, but they haven't got the guts to go out face to face and try to sell it.

Mr. Speaker, I invite the Premier to stand up and say that you are prepared to go out to the people. I am not even challenging you right now, the challenge has been issued enough times. If you want to call an election, fight it on this, we can do that now, too. I am challenging you before that, go out and listen to the people; hear them. Your side of the argument, not just the side of the naysayers like myself would be there, you would have an opportunity to explain it. Then there might be an opportunity to redeem some faith.

[Page 3062]

We now have two sittings of this House. (Applause) I applaud that, too. Mr. Speaker, I am sure there is nobody who regrets it more than the government that passed it. I am glad they did. You know, when that was done, there was supposed to be the idea that we would have in the spring a Budget and a Throne Speech, with a little bit of legislation, as may be required, and in the fall, then we would have the major legislation.

Well, of course, that plan, that noble design, sort of got thrown away, partly because the government has always been so late in bringing legislation forward, plus they tried to bring through legislation that completely flew in the face of everything they had committed they were going to do, that would trample and ride roughshod over workers' rights in this province. You know the credibility of this government can't get much lower.

I have about five minutes left?

MR. SPEAKER: Six minutes.

MR. HOLM: Okay. I think that the Minister of Community Services wants to put forward a motion that my time be extended, Mr. Speaker. I think he would like me to have another half an hour on that. I want to assure him that I am only down to about Page 2 of my notes. I have not had an opportunity to talk about, for example, things like what the member for Inverness said about harmonization when it was being suggested that there might be harmonization previously under the Cameron Government or what William Gillis or others have talked about and said in the press about harmonization or what the Premier had said about it at that time. That, I am sure, we will have an opportunity to debate on another day, maybe tomorrow night at around 11:00 p.m., because if this rule passes, I believe that this government's intention will be - and they will certainly have the power under this amendment - to say at any time, for example, during tomorrow, that we have decided that we are going to sit until midnight tomorrow. I think that is their plan.

I can see today that we will be sitting at the hour of 6:00 a.m. on Monday. If they want to do that I feel very sorry for those of you who live very far away who have to travel great distances to come in, I am referring to those members of the Liberal Caucus who live far away. You have to come in awfully early and you are not going to be able to get back. But you know that you are part of the decision that is setting that on yourselves. I am glad you are okay over there with that.

The Minister of Education and Culture seems to be . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: And marketing.

MR. HOLM: Oh, yes, There is a new part that goes on to it, Minister of Education and Culture and Marketing. Maybe he is going to take part in that 20 per cent cut that his department is going to be getting for selling seats here in Nova Scotia. He is going to be

[Page 3063]

taking part of that 20 per cent and maybe he is going to be creating a seamless web across the world as he travels trying to sell seats here in Nova Scotia so that millions of dollars, he hopes, will be coming in to replace the millions of dollars that he and his colleagues have been ripping out of the education system here in the Province of Nova Scotia. Anyway, Mr. Speaker, that is another thing.

I have a sense that my time is running down and members in this House are getting very tired. This certainly is a very important topic. Therefore, knowing and trying to be considerate of members of this House, I move that the House now do rise to meet again tomorrow between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The motion that has been brought before the House by the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid is partly in order. According to our rules a member of the Opposition may not call the sitting hours for the following day. The motion for Adjournment is in order but before we ring the bells, if it is the consent of the House, I am sure some honourable members would appreciate knowing when the House will sit tomorrow, if members agree to hear from the honourable Deputy Government House Leader to advise the House of the hours tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, on a point or order. On the question of ringing the bells, as I understand it the discretion is in the Chair for how long the bells ring and I happen to see that all the members of the Opposition, all who can be here are available. The other two are gone to the Valley. There is nobody missing in the Opposition sitting in their chairs right now. To ring the bells so that they can leave the House before a vote would be out of order, Mr. Speaker.

[7:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruption)

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, for the Adjournment of the House, I would like to point out for the information of the Speaker, and of members of the House, on Page 50 of Beauchesne, Clause 173(6) that the Speaker may "Use discretionary power, after consultation with the Government, to recall the House from an adjournment.", at any time unconditionally.

MR. SPEAKER: The point is noted. (Interruption)

[Page 3064]

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I rise on a point of order to support the point of order made by the honourable Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat. I would suggest that it is the decision of the Speaker, that the motion is in order and that the bells be rung. I would suggest to bring the House back at 7:50 p.m. or 7:55 p.m. would certainly be a reasonable period of time and, perhaps, that is what should be done. But the Speaker should consider that 7:50 p.m. is a reasonable period of time for the House to come back and the vote to be taken, or before, if the Whips agree.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Is it the consent of the House that the bells will ring until 7:55 p.m.?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

Ring the bells.

[7:18 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

[7:51 p.m.]

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

Is the House ready for the question? The motion is that the House now be adjourned.

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

The motion is carried in the negative.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the debate on Resolution No. 921 be adjourned.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. With respect to a ruling that was made from the Chair this afternoon, it is clear that this motion is out of order with respect to the resolution which is before the House, that no such motion, in fact, can be made by any

[Page 3065]

member of this House. The only way debate on this motion can be adjourned is by the clock running out and so we have no choice but to deal with this motion until the hour of 8:00 p.m.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I do think in this case we had intervening (Interruption) We had a motion to adjourn and we had a vote on it. In addition to that, we are approaching the hour of Adjournment and the normal process is to adjourn the debate which is before the House and then to move the Adjournment of the House.

I think that it would be a little silly for us to sit until 8:00 p.m. So I suggest that the motion is in order.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. It may be a little silly in the mind of the honourable Deputy Government House Leader, but it has not been silly for the Opposition who have been told by two successive Speakers, I guess, that a motion to adjourn a debate is out of order while the debate is in process. The only way the debate can be adjourned is at the closing hour of the time allotted for that particular day.

I would move that the motion of the honourable Deputy Government House Leader be set aside.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, it . . .

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. One of the motions was to adjourn the debate. The other motion was to adjourn the House. Those are two separate distinct motions and therefore, it is not out of order, I submit to Your Honour, if we now move to adjourn the debate. The last motion was to adjourn the House. This is a motion to adjourn the debate. (Interruptions)

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on that point of order. This afternoon the motion that was put forward was to adjourn the debate. The Hansard record will show that. It was to adjourn the debate and the ruling given this afternoon said that all of the business that was done on the balance of the day on Tuesday - it had the effect of saying that everything we did in the House on Wednesday and everything we did in the House this day up until the motion was made was not intervening business. All that we have done today and we have had numbers of votes in between today and Tuesday, those do not count. We have been dealing with one item only today since that earlier motion was ruled out of order and that was a debate on that resolution. Therefore, if it was out of order this afternoon, it is still, more so, tonight.

[Page 3066]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The point of order that has been raised, I think according to the rules, Page 10, Rule 5A(6), indicates that the duty of the government House Leader before the House adjourns allows the House Leader to advise ". . . members of the House with regard to the next sitting day in respect of . . . (b) the hours of meeting;". If the House so requires, we can certainly continue with the debate. If it is the consent of the House, we can certainly move on to the Deputy House Leader to provide us with the next sitting days.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Interruption) I think this really emphasizes that the ruling of the Speaker this afternoon may have been the correct ruling in her mind but it certainly is not the ruling that is going to make for smooth and harmonious work in this Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, I see that my time is drawing very close. Now that I have made a great contribution to this debate. (Interruptions) I am getting a lot of messages here and I am not going to argue with any of them. I think most folks in this room are parliamentary experts and there is no way that a member of this Chamber can any longer . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: You cannot adjourn.

MR. ARCHIBALD: I am sorry. You can no longer adjourn debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: You can yield the floor.

MR. ARCHIBALD: I could yield the floor and then I could take the floor; he has to make an introduction. Is that what he wants to do? No? Well, I have to carry on until (Interruptions) Look, you guys are such parliamentary experts that you are going to have me very confused.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yield the floor.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, on your direction I will yield the floor to the member from the Eastern Shore to table his petition. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

AN HON. MEMBER: Adjourn the House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: I think that the honourable member should continue his debate on Resolution No. 921.

[Page 3067]

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. If the honourable member wishes to introduce or present a petition, I think that he should be permitted to do so, but the debate does not have to be adjourned to extend this courtesy to another member of the House. (Interruptions)

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that the honourable member would like to present his petition which would mean we would have to revert to the order of business, Presenting and Reading Petitions. We would have to adjourn the debate first.

AN HON. MEMBER: Based on that ruling today, we cannot do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North has the floor.

MR. ARCHIBALD: My comments will be very brief indeed. When the clock ticks 8:00 o'clock the debate will be over and I will resume debate tomorrow. You can certainly see, Mr. Speaker, and colleagues in the Legislature, that the ruling that was made this afternoon by the Deputy Speaker was absolutely so ridiculous the Legislature business is totally and completely out of hand and I will speak again in the morning.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: The honourable member has moved that the debate on Resolution No. 921 be adjourned. (Interruptions) Then as the hour of adjournment has come, I would move that the resolution (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The lateness of the hour.

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I think we should have some common sense here. I move that the debate on Resolution No. 921 be adjourned. We have reached the hour of adjournment.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No, no.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, that is the issue here, that we have got a ruling; I can provide the Table with the decision by the Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I did not recognize the honourable member.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Time's up, Mr. Speaker. We are automatically adjourned. (Interruptions)

[Page 3068]

[8:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Because of the lateness of the hour the debate is adjourned until the next sitting day when the honourable member for Kings North will have the floor.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Before we close I would ask that you please revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

AN HON. MEMBER: We are adjourned.

MR. MITCHELL: The debate is adjourned. Mr. Speaker, I have asked that the Speaker please revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: You can only do that by unanimous consent. (Interruptions)

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I do not wish to be difficult but the hours of the House, are that we are to sit until 8:00 o'clock. After that you may not have any other business without the unanimous consent of the House. If the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs would like to read the Rule Book, he will see that you cannot have business proceedings in this House after the time has expired without unanimous agreement.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: I think this is a serious matter that we should get sorted out. I would suggest that you, Mr. Speaker, take this matter under advisement and perhaps you can rule on this another day. That being the case, I would advise the House that we will be sitting tomorrow between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. and the order of business will be the debate on Resolution No. 921. Following that we will be calling Public Bills for Second Reading, with Bill No. 48. I move we adjourn until 10:00 a.m. Before I make my motion, perhaps the . . .

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: The House is already adjourned, in which case we will revert to the normal sitting hours for Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

MR. MITCHELL: . . . I move that we adjourn until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Deputy Government House Leader has the floor. So the hours tomorrow are?

[Page 3069]

MR. MITCHELL: The hours tomorrow are 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. I have announced the order of business and I move we adjourn until 10:00 a.m.

AN HON. MEMBER: Before we leave I insist that you take the comments . . .

SOME HON. MEMBERS: He is not recognized.

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . of the Deputy House Leader under advisement (Interruptions) check the rules that apply and . . .

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Sit down.

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . make a ruling on whether his statement is, in fact, in order. (Interruptions) ruling on that in the morning.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. According to the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly, on Page 10 - Duty of Government House Leader - he has indicated that the sitting hours of the House tomorrow will be between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

The motion for adjournment has been made and the House will rise and sit again at the hour of 10:00 o'clock tomorrow morning.

[The House rose at 8:04 p.m.]