Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Wed., Dec. 11, 1996

Fourth Session

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 11, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Oppose, Mr. R. Chisholm 3595
Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Oppose, Dr. J. Hamm 3596
Health - Care: Cuts - Cease, Mr. A. MacLeod 3596
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. J. Abbass 3596
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Health - Seniors' Pharmacare Program Annual Report, Hon. B. Boudreau 3597
Employment Statistics for November 1996, Mr. R. Russell 3597
Anl. Rept. of the Ombudsman (01/93-03/95), The Speaker 3597
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Housing & Mun. Affs. - Winter Works Program, Hon. J. Smith 3598
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Staff (Western) - Safety Prog., Hon. D. Downe 3599
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1090, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Economic Momentum -
Necessity, The Premier 3601
Res. 1091, Dartmouth-Cole Hbr. MLA - Homepage (MLA):
Technological Achievement - Congrats., Hon. G. O'Malley 3602
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 50, Registered Nurses Act, Hon. B. Boudreau 3602
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1092, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization:
Electricity Costs Changes - Check, Dr. J. Hamm 3603
Res. 1093, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Legislation - Delay,
Mr. R. Chisholm 3603
Res. 1094, Fish. - Lun. Co. Companies: Crewmen Redundancies -
Compassion Show, Mrs. L. O'Connor 3604
Vote - Affirmative 3604
Res. 1095, Youth - Talent Finals (Can.): Atlantic Zone Rep.
(Trevor Probert [Terence Bay]) - Congrats., Mr. B. Holland 3605
Vote - Affirmative 3605
Res. 1096, Leader of the Official Opposition: PST & GST Harmonization -
Ontario Job Support - Condemn, Hon. D. Downe 3605
Res. 1097, Health - System: Questions-Answer - Focus, Mr. G. Moody 3606
Res. 1098, NDP (N.S.) Leader - PC Alliance: Party Leadership -
Account, Hon. Manning MacDonald 3606
Res. 1099, Health - Home Oxygen Prog.: Introduction - Congrats.,
Mrs. F. Cosman 3607
Vote - Affirmative 3608
Res. 1100, Fin. - Budget Expenditure: Choices/Priorities - Condemn,
Mr. J. Holm 3608
Res. 1101, ERA - Tourism: Marketing Off-Season -
Partnership Congrats., Mr. K. MacAskill 3608
Vote - Affirmative 3609
Res. 1102, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization:
Consequences (Food Banks) - Scrap, Mr. T. Donahoe 3609
Res. 1103, Nat. Res. - PST & GST Harmonization: Forestry -
Positivity Recognize, Mr. R. White 3610
Res. 1104, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization:
Consequences (Campgrounds) - Scrap, Mr. B. Taylor 3610
Res. 1105, Fish. - PST & GST Harmonization: Advantages -
Recognize, Hon. J. Barkhouse 3611
Res. 1106, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - PST & GST Harmonization:
Grocery Stores - Positivity Admit, Mr. William MacDonald 3611
Res. 1107, DFO - Patrol Vessel "Cobequid Bay": Replacement -
Urge, Mr. R. Hubbard 3612
Vote - Affirmative 3612
Res. 1108, Housing & Mun. Affs. - PST & GST Harmonization:
Building Costs Reduction - Appreciate, Mr. G. Fogarty 3613
Res. 1109, Fin. - Min. (Can.): Legislation (Bill C-70) Expedition -
Commend, Mr. P. MacEwan 3613
Res. 1110, Educ. - Strait Region: Crisis - Policies Condemn,
Ms. E. O'Connell 3614
Res. 1111, Commun. Serv. - Agencies Essential: Cuts - Stop,
Mr. A. MacLeod 3614
Res. 1112, Agric. - Roseway River 4-H Club:
Rural Beautification Award (N.S.) - Congrats., Mr. C. Huskilson 3615
Vote - Affirmative 3616
Res. 1113, ERA - PST & GST Harmonization: Business Regs. Reduction -
Acknowledge, Hon. A. Surette 3616
Res. 1114, Agric. - Federation (N.S.): Executive New - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Archibald 3616
Vote - Affirmative 3617
Res. 1115, Opposition Parties - PST & GST Harmonization: Tactics -
Deplore, Hon. W. Adams 3617
Res. 1116, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Atlantic Advantage -
Commend, Mr. K. Colwell 3617
Res. 1117, Darren Meery (Scotchtown): Medal of Bravery - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacNeil 3618
Vote - Affirmative 3619
Res. 1118, Culture - PST & GST Harmonization:
Movies, Music & Theatre - Benefits, Mr. D. Richards 3619
Res. 1119, Health (Can.) - AIDS: Krever Report Release - Urge,
Mr. G. Moody 3619
Res. 1120, Sports - Volleyball (Boys-Div. I [N.S.]):
Margaree Forks HS - Winners Congrats., Mr. C. MacArthur 3620
Vote - Affirmative 3621
Res. 1121, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Accountability
(Gov'ts. [Can. & N.S.]) Lacking - Deplore, Mr. R. Chisholm 3621
Res. 1122, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Self Sufficiency (N.S.) -
Aid, Hon. S. Jolly 3621
Res. 1123, Roman Catholic Archdiocese (Hfx.) - Web Site: Initiative -
Congrats., Mr. B. Holland 3622
Res. 1124, C.B. Nova MLA - Fin. (Can.) Min.:
Closure (Bill C-70) Endorsement - Applaud, Mr. T. Donahoe 3623
Res. 1125, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization:
Analyses Conclusions (Good) - Recognize, Mrs. F. Cosman 3624
Res. 1126, New Ross Dev. Soc. - Christmas Festival: Organizers -
Congrats., Hon. J. Barkhouse 3624
Vote - Affirmative 3625
Res. 1127, Opposition Parties Ldrs. (N.S.) & NDP (Can.) Ldr. -
PST & GST Harmonization: Posturing - Condemn,
Mr. K. MacAskill 3625
Res. 1128, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization:
Taxation Rights (N.S.) Surrendered - Condemn, Mr. J. Leefe 3626
Res. 1129, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization:
Barbers Assoc. Opposition - Congrats., Mr. J. Holm 3627
Res. 1130, NDP (N.S.): Philosophy (Anti-Business) - Abandon,
Mr. R. White 3627
Res. 1131, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Businesses -
Atlantic Advantage Recognize, Mr. W. Fraser 3628
Res. 1132, ERA - PST & GST Harmonization: High-Tech Businesses -
Advantage Recognize, Mr. R. Carruthers 3629
Res. 1133, ERA - PST & GST Harmonization: Tourism Future -
Contribution, Mr. J. Casey 3629
Res. 1134, Health - Nat. Trust Fellowship of Man Award:
Dr. John Anderson (Hfx. Pediatrician) - Congrats., Mr. G. Fogarty 3630
Vote - Affirmative 3631
Res. 1135, Hfx. Port Cpn. - Budget (6 Yr.): Largest - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Richards 3631
Vote - Affirmative 3632
Res. 1136, Agric. - PST & GST Harmonization: Benefits - Support,
Hon. G. Brown 3632
Res. 1137, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - PST & GST Harmonization:
Consumer Impact Positive - Recognize, Mr. A. Mitchell 3632
Res. 1138, Fish. - Culinary Olympics (1996-Berlin): Cdn. Gold Medal -
Congrats., Mr. R. Hubbard 3633
Vote - Affirmative 3634
Res. 1139, Commun. Serv. - Poverty: Eradication - Institute,
Ms. E. O'Connell 3634
Res. 1140, Democracy (N.S.): Filibuster Tactics - Disservice,
Mr. P. MacEwan 3634
Res. 1141, South Shore Reg. Library: Professional Service - Congrats.,
Mrs. L. O'Connor 3635
Vote - Affirmative 3635
Res. 1142, World Kiwanis - Internat. President (1997):
Glen Bagnell (Dart.) - Congrats., Mr. J. Casey 3636
Vote - Affirmative 3636
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 428, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Agreement - Compensation,
Dr. J. Hamm 3637
No. 429, ERA: Unemployment (C.B.) - Action, Mr. R. Chisholm 3638
No. 430, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Agreement (Clause 14) - Confirm,
Dr. J. Hamm 3640
No. 431, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Legislation (Can.) -
Protection, Mr. G. Archibald 3641
No. 432, Commun. Serv. - Disabled: NEED Project - Report Action,
Mr. A. MacLeod 3643
No. 433, Nat. Res.: Deer (Road Kill) - Distribution, Mr. R. Chisholm 3645
No. 434, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Hfx. Reg. Mun.: Tax Increase - Explain,
Mr. B. Taylor 3646
No. 435, Health - Seniors' Pharmacare Prog.: Funding (1996-97) -
Cost, Mr. G. Moody 3649
No. 436, Environ. - Stewiacke-Fort Ellis: Soil Recycling Facility -
Status, Mr. B. Taylor 3651
No. 437, Commun. Serv. - Soc. Assist.: Cuts - Service Effect,
Ms. E. O'Connell 3653
No. 438, Justice - Institutions: Abuse Compensation - Payment Improper,
Mr. T. Donahoe 3656
No. 439, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Agreement (Annex A & B) -
Distribute, Mr. R. Russell 3657
No. 440, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Agreement (Annex A & B) -
Distribute, Mr. R. Russell 3659
No. 441, Premier: Protocol Office - Christmas Cards, Mr. J. Holm 3660
No. 442, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. By-pass: (Salt Spring-Westville Road)
- Update, Mr. D. McInnes 3661
No. 443, Agric.: Hog Development Program - Status, Mr. G. Archibald 3663
No. 444, Agric. - Disposal Fee: Dead Animals - Status, Mr. B. Taylor 3664
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1123, Roman Catholic Archdiocese (Hfx.) - Web Site: Initiative -
Congrats., Mr. B. Holland [reintroduced] 3665
Vote - Affirmative 3665
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
Bill 49, Gaming Control Act 3666
Mr. R. Russell 3666
Hon. S. Jolly 3668
Mr. J. Holm 3671
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 1057, Justice - Institutions: Abuse Compensation - Fairness Show,
Mr. T. Donahoe 3674
Mr. T. Donahoe 3674
Hon. J. Abbass 3677
Mr. J. Holm 3679
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Gov't. (N.S.) - Alternative: Opposition Parties - Disastrous:
Mr. P. MacEwan 3683
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Dec. 12th at 8:00 a.m. 3685

[Page 3595]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 11, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

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

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. I will just read the last line, "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 1,362 names on 68 pages. This brings the total up to well over 6,000 names that have been pulled together. The petitions continue to come flooding in from across the province and I have signed my name to it and would therefore table it. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

3595

[Page 3596]

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the following petition against the blended sales tax on behalf of 167 Nova Scotians who oppose the application of the BST on the health care services of pets. This is just one of the many areas negatively affected by the BS Tax and I have signed the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Last night during debate at the late hour, I was making reference to a report and I referred to it inaccurately as a report from Dun & Bradstreet. I understand that the Department of Finance has had a flood of calls this morning looking for copies of that report. I just wanted to confirm that I was somewhat mistaken on that. It is actually Dominion Bond Rating Services Limited report of September 26, 1996. Anyone, of course, who understands the difference will recognize that it is much more appropriate that the report would have been from Dominion Bond Rating Service than simply from a credit rating agency. I just wanted to clarify that point and I understand that those hundreds of Nova Scotians who have called in have been given that information and will receive that important report. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The point is noted.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition. The operative clause is as follows:

"We, the undersigned agree that there will be no more cuts in health care. We want our community based hospitals kept open as active treatment centers with all our services in our communities. We demand you to stop all further cuts until the politicians place a firm proposal about health care before the electorate.".

It is a petition, Mr. Speaker, that was started by the Cape Breton Regional Health Care Committee. There are over 10,300 names on the petition and I affix my name in agreement.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAY ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

[Page 3597]

Bill No. 34 - Izaak Walton Killam-Grace Health Centre Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a report, The Seniors' Pharmacare Program Annual Report for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1996.

Mr. Speaker, for the information of the House, the Nova Scotia Seniors' Pharmacare Board of Directors has recommended to the government, and we have agreed, that there will be no increase in the co-pay or the premium for the Pharmacare Program for the upcoming fiscal year. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: With the indulgence of the House, Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce and welcome, through you, to this House, the Chair of the Pharmacare Board of Directors, Mr. Dean Salsman. I ask him to rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a document entitled, Employment Statistics for November, 1996. That was requested by the Minister of Transportation and Public Works in last evening's debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The Chair begs leave to table the Annual Report of the Ombudsman for the 15 month period from January 1993 to March 1995.

The report is tabled.

[Page 3598]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, it is with pleasure that I rise in the House today to announce details of a Winter Works Program, through Nova Scotia housing authorities.

Approximately 350 people will be hired this winter to help maintain the 12,000 public housing units throughout the province. In total, as my colleague the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency announced last week, this government will help create up to 900 jobs this winter.

This represents approximately $4.6 million in funding from three levels of government, non-profit organizations and the private sector. This is a good example of what can be achieved when we all work together.

The housing authority jobs will be distributed province-wide with priority given to high unemployment areas. These are Victoria, Richmond, Inverness, Digby, Guysborough and Cape Breton Counties. Some of the jobs will go to housing authority residents. The work will involve light maintenance such as cleaning, painting and minor repairs.

This program is good news for two reasons. It is creating jobs for Nova Scotians who need it the most and at the same time, it is improving housing stock right across the province. Incidentally, 64 per cent of our housing units are for senior citizens.

The Winter Works Program begins in January 1997 and runs for a maximum of 16 weeks. Interested persons can pick up applications at the 18 regional housing authorities, the Canada Employment Centres and the Access Nova Scotia Centres throughout Nova Scotia. The deadline for applications is January 8, 1997. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to be able to respond to the minister's announcement but it sounds like déjà vu because we heard this all last week from the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. It is important to know that there are 350 jobs that will be going into housing. That is good news - I wouldn't argue that - but it is not enough. It is not even close to being enough. When you look at the unemployment figures that we released last Friday and you think about the unemployment rates in eastern Nova Scotia and other parts of this province, this is only a small token toward what has to happen.

[Page 3599]

I don't for the life of me understand why the minister would have to re-announce something that the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency already announced in this House because there are other things that have to be dealt with. The people of this province will be thankful for what little has been offered. If this government was truly interested in doing what was right, there would be a lot more for the people of Nova Scotia. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, I certainly welcome the minister's announcement today in which he is providing some detail in terms of at least 350 jobs of the approximately 900 part-time, short-term jobs that are going to be created. I expect that other ministers will stand in their place and tell us how and where the other 550 jobs that were announced are going to be created. I expect that details will be coming so that ministers will have the opportunity to stand up, make an announcement and look like they are doing something.

The reality is that all of these jobs are indeed very welcome, especially for those who have no employment and who are desperate for work to provide for themselves and for their family. We also have to bear in mind that this is just a very small band-aid when you consider that we have 6,000 more people out of work, 6,000 jobs lost between November of last year and November of this year.

Areas like Cape Breton and Guysborough County are leading the country in terms of having the highest rate of official unemployment. What we don't have and what we have been waiting for since the days this government took office when it had its 30-60-90, we are still waiting for a long-term job strategy, one that will create long-term, meaningful employment for the people of this province, instead of the short-term band-aid. It is a welcome band-aid and certainly many of those housing units can indeed use and need the upgrade work that is going to be done.

Certainly, I look forward to hearing from the next minister standing up with some real new ideas and some long-term commitment as to how the desperate needs of many people in this province to have full-time, well-paying jobs, is going to be met.

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to commend Transportation and Public Works staff in the western district of the province for their renewed commitment to workers' safety. They recently launched a new safety program designed to surpass requirements under this government's new Occupational Health and Safety Act which comes into effect January 1997. Their effort has also been recognized by the Nova Scotia Construction Safety Association; in fact, independent inspectors audited the

[Page 3600]

program a few weeks ago and all areas of the district had attained the association's certificate of recognition status. The same recognition status is to be expected from contractors that bid on government jobs. The reason why staff are investing time and money to create a safer working environment is simple: zero accidents, zero incidents, and no lost time. I congratulate them on their achievement. (Applause)

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the announcement by the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and I, too, would like to commend the Transportation and Public Works staff in the western district. It is always commendable when any group, whether they work in government or in the private industry, come up with initiatives to provide for greater safety.

I am a little bit concerned that the minister included in his statement that the same recognition status we are expecting from contractors who bid on the government jobs, the minister indicated that he would be looking for that same type of standard. The minister knows full well - and I am not trying to be mischievous - that the contractors in this province will have to comply with the new Occupational Health and Safety Act which comes into force January 1, 1997; they will not have to adhere to any other standards that are put forward by employees of Transportation and Public Works.

So I certainly commend the announcement and I commend the employees for coming forward with it, but the minister knows full well that contractors will only have to abide by the new Occupational Health and Safety standards, and this caucus supports those new Occupational Health and Safety standards. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I genuinely want to thank the minister for his announcement and I want to congratulate him for making it in the House, and I certainly want to congratulate those on his staff who work in the western district.

I also take a slight difference, in terms of a position, from the previous speaker in that if the standards are being adopted and put into place in this western district, if they are higher and, in fact, going to be better even than those that are contained within our new occupational health legislation, and if we can encourage contractors to rise to those highest possible safety standards, I say, bravo, let's go for it. Safety is a concern for each and every one of us.

The minister, in his final comments - and I know he did not mean this, to leave things out - but he said zero accidents, zero incidents and zero lost time. That is what it means if you have a great safety record. Well, it also means a lot more than that; it means that individuals have not been harmed, hurt, possibly killed, they may not suffer, as a result then, any long-

[Page 3601]

term disabilities and so on, Mr. Speaker. So anything that we can do to end pain and suffering for workers and their families in this province, I salute and, hopefully, the western district and in the example they are setting will be picked up by other districts and by the private sector as well as other segments of the public sector, to ensure that we have the best possible safety record that you can conceivably have here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

That would be something that I would be very proud to be able to say, that Nova Scotia leads the country and, in fact, leads the world in having the highest safety records and the least number of accidents. That certainly is a very enviable goal that we should all be striving for.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 1090

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas over the past three years the government of this province has made enormous strides in improving the economic climate of this province; and

Whereas the best path for continued economic growth lies in providing tax cuts to place more disposable income and spending power in the hands of Nova Scotians across the province; and

Whereas the harmonized sales tax will result in a tax cut of $100 million or more for consumers and businesses, generating an additional 3,000 jobs and adding nearly a full percentage point to the province's Gross Domestic Product;

Therefore be it recognized that this House recognize that the harmonized sales tax is not only a tax cut but also a necessary part of any plan to build on the economic momentum and improve Nova Scotia's long-term economic fortunes.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat.

[Page 3602]

RESOLUTION NO. 1091

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Technology and Science it gives me great pride to introduce this particular resolution.

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

Whereas the Internet offers limitless opportunities for elected officials to remain accountable and accessible to their constituents; and

Whereas the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour has launched the first MLA Homepage in Nova Scotia, dedicated to informing his constituents about issues in a non-partisan, professional manner; and

Whereas all Nova Scotians will benefit from the many thousands of sources of information on federal, provincial and municipal issues on this Homepage;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour for his technological achievement and for his efforts to provide information to his constituents and to all Nova Scotians.

I would ask for waiver.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 50 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Registered Nurses' Association of Nova Scotia. (Hon. Bernard Boudreau)

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

[Page 3603]

NOTICES OF MOTION

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1092

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 Premier, having decided late Monday to enter the BST debate, indicated contrary to popular opinion that the BST would be the greatest stimulus to economic growth that this province has ever witnessed; and

Whereas the Premier gave as an example to clarify the issue for the public the fact that prices on everything from phone bills to light bills would stay the same or go down; and

Whereas the Premier conveniently forgot to mention in his enlightening statement that while the light bulb price might go down, the light bill will go up;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier check with Nova Scotians to see whether they would be more interested in having light bulb prices reduced or the electric bill to pay for turning on that light bulb, or either for that matter.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1093

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

Whereas the Minister of Finance and other members of the government cannot tell this House how the Liberal BS Tax will apply to the trucking industry, tire recycling fees, in-home supports or services such as speech therapy or psychology; and

Whereas the best the Minister of Finance can do is to thumb through hundreds of pages of federal legislation in search of an answer; and

Whereas despite its ignorance of the effects of the BS Tax on many important areas the government continues full speed ahead with this legislation;

[Page 3604]

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to delay passage of the BS Tax bill at least until members of Cabinet have some idea of what they are getting Nova Scotians into through this ill-advised tax deal with Ottawa.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 1094

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

Whereas offshore scallop stocks are beginning to rebound, particularly in Georges Bank; and

Whereas in 1986 there was a fleet of 77 offshore scallop draggers while today only 25 vessels remain; and

Whereas three fisheries companies have recently announced plans to decommission 6 draggers, affecting nearly 100 crewmen and many support staff;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House encourage Deep Sea Trawlers Ltd., Scotia Trawler, and Fisheries Products International to use social responsibility in their decisions to operate as many vessels as possible and compassion for the crewmen from Lunenburg County.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. There were several people that I heard say, No from over here. I think you should perhaps call a re-vote because there were several Noes over here.

MR. SPEAKER: Several people said No?

[Page 3605]

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, the test of whether or not there is unanimous consent is whether the Noes are audible. I submit that if the Noes are not audible, they do not count.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1095

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

Whereas Trevor Probert of Terence Bay, a student of Sir John A. Macdonald High School, was the successful finalist in the Atlantic Zone Canadian Youth Talent Search; and

Whereas Trevor won the competition with a fast-paced, energetic rendition of Shenandoah's, If Bubba Can Dance (I Can Too); and

Whereas Trevor will now move on to represent the Atlantic Zone in the Canadian Youth Talent Finals in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, on February 7, 1997;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their congratulations to Trevor on his recent success and wish him all the best in Saskatoon in February.

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 Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 1096

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

[Page 3606]

Whereas Premier Harris of Ontario has publicly voiced his province's opposition to HST in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Premier Harris has said the HST puts Ontario businesses at an economic disadvantage compared to Nova Scotia businesses; and

Whereas the Leader of the Nova Scotia Tory Party wants to scrap the HST, thus creating an economic advantage for Ontario in relation to Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemns the actions of the Leader of the Nova Scotia Tories, who are supporting jobs for Ontario versus jobs for Nova Scotia. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1097

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 loudest defender of the BST in debate is the former Finance Minister; and

Whereas the former Finance Minister, now Health Minister, has heckled the Opposition, lobbied media on the issue and basically acted as government spokesman for the deal; and

Whereas the now Health Minister should have enough on his plate, with the health care concerns which plague this province, than to be acting as Finance Minister as well;

Therefore be it resolved that the Health Minister pass the reins to the current Finance Minister for the sale of the BST and stick to answering Nova Scotians' questions and easing their worries as to the health of our health system.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1098

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

[Page 3607]

Whereas in today's Halifax Daily News, Theo Moudakis, the Daily News cartoonist, makes reference to the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic as the House of Assembly Boy Toy; and

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas Theo Moudakis in his cartoon states, with reference to the honourable member, the following: "I'll get into bed with anyone"; and

Whereas through his actions in this House the honourable member gives credence to the above quote;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House call upon all loyal NDPers to request that their Leader account to the Party's membership, at a general meeting to be called forthwith, on his alliance with the Tories.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.

RESOLUTION NO. 1099

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

Whereas many Nova Scotians suffer from chronic respiratory conditions, including low blood-oxygen levels; and

Whereas supplemental oxygen can improve the quality of life for some who suffer from chronic lung disease, and can prolong the lives of others; and

Whereas until recently there was no province-wide Home Oxygen Program, only a patchwork of programs that resulted in varying levels of home oxygen service from community to community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Minister of Health for his recent introduction of a province-wide Home Oxygen Program which will benefit between 400 to 500 Nova Scotians afflicted with chronic respiratory problems.

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

[Page 3608]

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1100

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 Premier has finally acknowledged in this House that saving money was an object in the government's decision to unilaterally amend its agreement with the survivors of institutional abuse; and

Whereas for this government, money is no object when it comes to giving large tax breaks to corporations through the BS Tax or individual handouts to companies like OSP Consultants, Newbridge Networks, or Dynatek; and

Whereas for this government, money is only an object when it comes to meeting obligations to people who are poor, people who have been abused, people who are in women's shelters or people who are sick;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Liberal Government for the choices it makes and the priorities it sets in the expenditure of public funds.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1101

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

Whereas it is the goal of the Nova Scotia's tourism industry to promote the shoulder seasons of winter and spring in order to attract visitors to our province in these, the less busy months; and

[Page 3609]

Whereas tourism operators throughout the province, working with Tourism Nova Scotia, have introduced a unique guide entitled the Doers' and Dreamers' Collection of Exciting Getaways; and

Whereas this informative guide will help build Nova Scotia's reputation as a winter and spring travel destination by providing information on off-season learning, leisure and lifestyle vacations;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Assembly extend congratulations to the Government of Nova Scotia and the private sector tourism industry for promoting off-season travel in our province.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 1102

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

Whereas more than 12,500 people in metro Halifax use food banks every month; and

Whereas since 1991, the number of people in metro seeking emergency food assistance from food banks and shelters has gown 44 per cent; and

Whereas according to the Metro Food Bank Society, the growth demographic of those using food banks and shelters is the 37 per cent who have a minimum of high school education;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government scrap its regressive BS Tax, which will push more Nova Scotians to food bank assistance, and adopt a sensible and balanced approach to taxation.

[Page 3610]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 1103

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

Whereas business people employed in the forestry industry now pay a combined rate of 18.77 per cent sales tax on many items; and

Whereas with harmonization, forestry people like loggers and Christmas tree growers will soon have only one sales tax of 15 per cent, reduced paperwork and red tape and thus, reduced costs of doing business; and

Whereas harmonization will also mean significant savings as the result of full tax refunds, allowing our goods to be even more competitive;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize the many advantages of harmonization, including its positive effects in the forestry industry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1104

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

Whereas campers and campground owners alike will pay more taxes if this government is successful in implementing the BS Tax; and

Whereas one campground owner says that on a total of $80,000 in business expenses, the most he will receive from this government's self-promoted input tax credits is $642; and

[Page 3611]

Whereas campground owners and campers are merely the latest of a long list of groups, organizations and businesses who think the BS Tax is not only bad for Nova Scotians, but also bad for business;

Therefore be it resolved that the Finance Minister do every camper and every campground owner a favour this Christmas and use the BS Tax legislation to stoke the Christmas campfires across the province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 1105

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

Whereas as of April 1, 1997, a commercial fisherman will pay a harmonized sales tax of 15 per cent instead of the current 18.77 per cent; and

Whereas the full 15 per cent paid by people in the fishing industry will also be eligible for input tax credits; and

Whereas the reduced cost will result in lower prices to consumers, creating additional demands for fishery products;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the many advantages of sales tax harmonization, especially in the fishing industry.

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

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.

RESOLUTION NO. 1106

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

[Page 3612]

Whereas with the harmonized sales tax, consumers will pay less, both in prices and taxes at grocery stores; and

Whereas basic foods will continue to be tax free; and

Whereas harmonization will cause hidden taxes to be removed at each level of the production chain, from farmer to store shelf;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly admit the significant positive impact the HST will have on businesses, including grocery stores.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 1107

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

Whereas the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans' fisheries patrol vessel, the Cobequid Bay, will be retired next spring; and

Whereas this vessel patrols mid-shore waters to provide much needed search and rescue services; and

Whereas the two remaining smaller patrol vessels, Vigilance and Tubor, are not able to travel more than 30 kilometres out in rough weather, where many of the mishaps at sea occur;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House urge the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to replace the Cobequid Bay with a similar vessel upon its retirement.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 3613]

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 1108

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

Whereas harmonization will mean tens of millions in savings every year to the construction industry; and

Whereas harmonization will result in lower costs of building office towers, retail stores, industrial manufacturing plants and municipal infrastructure, such as sewer and water lines; and

Whereas special tax rebates for buyers of newly built homes will also protect the housing industry;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly appreciate that building anything and everything in Nova Scotia will cost less because of the harmonized sales tax.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1109

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

Whereas an item on the bottom of Page 1 of today's Chronicle-Herald noted debate in the federal House of Commons on a measure to harmonize federal and provincial sales tax next year, namely Bill C-70; and

[2:45 p.m.]

Whereas it was tersely noted that federal Finance Minister Paul Martin muzzled the Opposition with a time allocation motion limiting second reading on the bill, thereby ending such frivolous wasting of time as perhaps the reading of poetry or endless repetitious huffing and puffing; and

Whereas no Parliament anywhere in the world could pass legislation were it to allow endless blather from the Opposition, filibustering daily to midnight so as to try and prevent measures from coming to a vote;

[Page 3614]

Therefore be it resolved that federal Finance Minister Paul Martin be commended for ensuring that legislation before the House of Commons is not prevented from coming to a vote either by the poets of the Bloc Quebeçois or the blatherskites of the Reform Party.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1110

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 a proposal by the Strait Regional School Board to close numerous schools in northeastern Nova Scotia has distressed many students, teachers, parents and members of the community; and

Whereas Liberal cutbacks and imposed school board amalgamations have laid the groundwork for the school closing controversies that have erupted; and

Whereas the vision of centralization, bureaucratization and the destruction of community schools could sound the death knell for some Nova Scotia communities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn those Liberal education policies that have contributed directly to the education crisis in the Strait region.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1111

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 Captain William Spry Community Centre, the Metro Community Services Network and the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers released their findings of a study on the crises faced by community agencies since October's 3 per cent cut by Community Services; and

Whereas the study illustrated all too clearly that while the need for the various services has increased, the agencies don't have enough time, people or resources to help everyone in need; and

[Page 3615]

Whereas many of the agencies referenced are in the business of helping those who have nowhere else to go;

Therefore be it resolved that this government commit to stop the financial bleeding of our essential agencies like the Help Line and Family SOS, so they can stop spending their time juggling dwindling budgets and use their resources instead to help Nova Scotians who need their help.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 1112

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

Whereas the Roseway River 4-H Club had been named provincial winners in the youth category in the Nova Scotia Rural Beautification Awards Competition; and

Whereas the club won their award for their beautification project for work done on the landscape on the outside of the Lower Ohio Community Hall; and

Whereas the Roseway River 4-H Club was the only provincial winner among Shelburne County entrants in the rural beautification competition;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to all the Shelburne County entrants and recognize the first-time entry and first-time win for the Roseway River 4-H Club.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

[Page 3616]

The motion is carried.

L'honorable le ministre des ressources humaines.

RESOLUTION NO. 1113

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

Whereas a major goal of this government is to reduce the regulatory burden on small and medium sized businesses across the province; and

Whereas reducing the regulatory burden on small and medium sized businesses will allow them to grow which, in turn, will expand our economy and create more jobs; and

Whereas the harmonized sales tax will reduce the regulatory burden on small and medium sized businesses by replacing the current dual system of tax collection with a single tax, with a single set of forms and a single tax collection administration;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge that the harmonized sales tax is a powerful tool for reducing the burden of regulation and paperwork on businesses and, as such, will lay the groundwork for the growth of small and medium sized businesses for years to come.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1114

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 Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture held its 101st annual meeting last week in Truro; and

Whereas Jim Austin, a dairy farmer from Skye Glen, Inverness, was elected the new federation president; and

Whereas other executive members elected last week include Anthony Van Oostrum of Grafton, Kings County; Willy Versteeg of Hardwoodlands, Hants County; Solveig Lenahan of Lunenburg; Peter Hill of Kings County; Lloyd Evans of Middleton, Annapolis County; and Doug Bacon of Amherst;

[Page 3617]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the new executive of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture and wish all of its members the best fortune in the coming year.

Mr. Speaker, I would request 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 Minister of the Environment.

RESOLUTION NO. 1115

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

Whereas the Opposition has consistently referred to the harmonized sales tax proposal as that of the BST or the BS Tax; and

Whereas there is no such measure as the BST or the BS Tax before this House and never was; and

Whereas the purpose in misnaming the harmonized sales tax initials, which are the HST, as the BST or the BS Tax is to cheapen and debase the integrity of this taxation measure and debates the integrity of this House;

Therefore be it resolved that this House deplores the tactics by which a measure named the harmonized sales tax would deliberately be misconstrued by Opposition politicians as a BST or BS Tax and that these cheap tactics will backfire on the Opposition.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1116

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

[Page 3618]

Whereas New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna, Nova Scotia Premier John Savage and Newfoundland Premier Brian Tobin have begun serious efforts to promote their provinces as prime places to invest due to the new harmonized sales tax agreement; and

Whereas aggressive ad campaigns in The Financial Post, The Globe and Mail and the French language Les Affaires advises business investors of the Atlantic Advantage; and

Whereas the GST and Atlantic Canada's provincial sales taxes will be replaced with one 15 per cent tax while companies receive full refund on any sales tax that they pay on supplies;

Therefore be it resolved that although other provinces are encouraged to harmonize, the members of this Assembly must commend Nova Scotia's provincial government for giving our region a competitive Atlantic Advantage.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1117

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

Whereas in July 1995 Darren Meery of Scotchtown stopped at a restaurant near Auld's Cove when travelling to Halifax with his daughter and his niece; and

Whereas the children went to a playground near the restaurant, when Darren Meery noticed that an out of control car was heading directly for the children; and

Whereas Darren Meery leapt in front of the car to remove the children from harm's way and for this act was rewarded the Medal of Bravery at a ceremony held in Ottawa last week;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Darren Meery on receiving the Medal of Bravery and commend him for his courage in protecting the lives of others at a great risk to his own.

I would request waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

[Page 3619]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1118

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

Whereas commercial cultural industries and the entertainment sector currently have particularly high PST costs; and

Whereas on April 1, 1997, with the new harmonized sales tax, this sector will experience lower costs on vehicle rentals, equipment rentals, computers, meals and accommodations; and

Whereas the new harmonized sales tax on tickets for commercial products like movies, concerts and sporting events will go down from 17.7 per cent to 15 per cent;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly regard the new harmonized sales tax system as particularly important to the creators of movies, music and commercial theatre.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1119

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

Whereas Janet Conners, who has become a symbol of courage for all those individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS as a result of receiving tainted blood, made one more appeal to the Krever Inquiry this week; and

[Page 3620]

Whereas Janet Conners, during the final round of inquiry hearings, has made what would seem to many like a simple request; and

Whereas her request is that the report from the inquiry, which was due in September, is released so that she is even able to read it;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join Janet Conners in urging the federal government to allow Justice Krever to meet an April 30, 1997 deadline.

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

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1120

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

Whereas on Saturday, December 7, 1996, Margaree Forks District School senior boys' volleyball team won the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Provincial Boys Division I Volleyball Championship and are the first Inverness County team to win a Division I Provincial Championship; and

Whereas Margaree Forks District High School has a senior high school enrolment of 122 students, while the schools they defeated have graduating classes of between three and four times that number; and

Whereas the players proved hard work and determination can overcome all obstacles;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the coaches and players of the Margaree Forks Panthers volleyball team on winning the championship.

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

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

It is agreed.

[Page 3621]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1121

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

Whereas Paul Martin is following in the footsteps of his provincial Liberal counterparts by invoking closure to ram the 356 page, highly technical BST bill through the House of Commons; and

Whereas Liberal MPs from Nova Scotia have again failed their constituents by remaining silent as this unfair and regressive tax bill is being rammed through the House of Commons; and

Whereas the Liberal Government of Nova Scotia had said that the details of the 356 page tax agreement would be contained in the federal bill and fully debated in Ottawa;

Therefore be it resolved that this House deplores the lack of democratic accountability demonstrated by the Liberal Governments in Ottawa and Halifax as they railroad through their respective BS Tax bills without fully disclosing and explaining their contents.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1122

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

Whereas the harmonization of our sales tax will give Nova Scotia a distinctive, competitive business edge over the rest of Canada and cut fiscal dependence on Ottawa's equalization payments and eventually see Atlantic Canada as a have-region; and

Whereas harmonization will mean more jobs, more wealth and more pride for Atlantic Canada as the harmonization gives us the single biggest advantage that we have had in over 50 years against the rest of Canada; and (Applause)

[Page 3622]

Whereas members of Nova Scotia's Official Opposition and the Third Party have stated that they would support the harmonization of sales tax, if only on a national basis;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly support the harmonization of our federal-provincial sales tax as one of the biggest weapons this province has in the battle to become a self-sufficient part of Canada. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I just wanted to seek clarification. When the minister was just reading her resolution she indicated that it was the Official Opposition and the Third Party who had said that they would only be in favour of a harmonized sales tax if it was national. I wanted to clarify the fact that we have not made that statement in this House or outside the House. We are opposed to the harmonized sales tax, whether it is in Nova Scotia or anywhere else across this country.

MR. SPEAKER: The point is noted.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1123

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

Whereas the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax has set aside two pages on its website for parish announcements; and

Whereas one page will list one-time events, which will be removed from the page immediately after the event date; and

Whereas the second page will list events recurring on a weekly or monthly basis;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax on its initiative in making this space available to the parishes of the diocese, thus making effective use of technology in serving the needs of its congregation.

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

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

I hear several Noes.

[Page 3623]

The notice is tabled.

DR. JOHN HAMM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I make reference to the resolution read by the minister that indicated that this Opposition's only objection to the harmonized tax was, in fact, the fact that is was not a national tax. This caucus was not and is not in favour of increased consumption taxes in this province. That resolution, clearly, is inaccurate. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The point is noted. Order, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 1124

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 member for Cape Breton Nova today applauded the actions of the federal Finance Minister, Paul Martin;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Cape Breton Nova be applauded by all members of this House for endorsing closure of debate in the House of Commons.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is not proper practice to attempt to debate these resolutions in the guise of a point of order, but since two other honourable members have done it, let it simply be stated that I did not do what the honourable member states, nor did Mr. Martin. He moved a time allocation. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: The point is noted. Order, please.

The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.

[Page 3624]

RESOLUTION NO. 1125

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

Whereas the Conference Board of Canada recently conducted an extensive analysis of how the Nova Scotia economy will perform in 1997; and

Whereas the Conference Board of Canada concluded that the harmonized sales tax will boost economic growth in the province over the course of 1997; and

Whereas the Conference Board of Canada concluded that the HST will provide a particularly strong boost to the retail sector of Nova Scotia, and that "harmonization will slow consumer price inflation, causing an increase in consumer purchasing power that may translate into a second consecutive year of strong retail sales";

[3:00 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that independent, comprehensive analyses of the HST have come to the same conclusion time and time again, that the HST is good for the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 1126

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

Whereas the 3rd Annual New Ross Christmas Festival was held on December 6th, 7th and 8th; and

Whereas this three day event was a tremendous success because the people of New Ross, the Forties and Fraxville worked together to showcase their skills, hospitality and evergreen resources; and

Whereas Lunenburg County is the Balsam Fir Christmas Tree Capital of the World;

[Page 3625]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the New Ross Development Society for organizing the Christmas Festival, and the many organizations and volunteers for welcoming people from near and far to share in the spirit and fellowship of the Christmas season.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1127

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

Whereas the Leader of the Opposition and the member for Pictou West say they would support the HST if it was a national program even though a national program would erode many of the advantages the HST will bring to Nova Scotia business; and

Whereas the Leader of the federal New Democratic Party has characterized transitional funding to the Atlantic Provinces as a bribe, which no doubt plays well to the stereotypical central Canadian view of Nova Scotia as a have-not province; and

Whereas both provincial Opposition Parties are doing their best to keep Nova Scotia a have-not province by opposing the HST which begs the question, what reward will the Leaders of the Opposition Parties receive for selling our children's birthright to the bankers of Toronto;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislature . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

MR. MACASKILL: . . . condemn the Leaders of both Opposition Parties and the Leader of the federal NDP for their blatant display of partisan posturing . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The member for Pictou West on a point of order.

[Page 3626]

SOME HON. MEMBERS: He is not finished reading.

MR. SPEAKER: Oh, he is still reading.

MR. MACASKILL: . . . partisan posturing at the expense of the Nova Scotia taxpayer, the unemployed and the poor.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Could the honourable member for Victoria please read the last portion from Therefore be it resolved, please.

[The honourable member for Victoria re-read the resolution.]

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. That resolution, that first whereas is just not correct. I have stood up in this House and spoke on the two amendments that we have already had on this bill and I said that I was in favour of a national harmonization of the tax, a national tax that does not affect the little average consumer of this province. That is what I said, not a regional tax.

MR. SPEAKER: The point is noted.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 1128

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

Whereas taxation without representation was the battle cry of our ancestors in Nova Scotia as they with the other American colonies militated against the high-handedness of Parliament when it passed the Stamp Tax Act of 1764; and

Whereas it has since been clearly established that no tax should be raised except by the consent of those elected to represent the people; and

[Page 3627]

Whereas the BS Tax Act agreement will allow Newfoundland and New Brunswick to dictate to Nova Scotians, even over Nova Scotia's objections, that the provincial portion of the BS Tax rate change either up or down;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government be condemned for surrendering the right of Nova Scotians to have their elected representatives decide what taxes should be imposed on Nova Scotians, thereby effectively turning the Nova Scotia clock back 240 years.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1129

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

Whereas opposition to the Liberal Government's BS Tax grows daily as more and more Nova Scotians become aware of its negative effects; and

Whereas one of the latest groups to join the battle against the BS Tax is the Nova Scotia Registered Barbers Association, which unanimously supported an anti-BST resolution at its annual meeting; and

Whereas barbers say the BS Tax will raise prices to their customers, reduce their income and kill jobs in their industry;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates the members of the barbers association for their recognition that consumers are tired of getting clipped by this government, that workers cannot stand to have their paycheques shaved any further, and that the BS Tax will not wash with the general public.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 1130

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

[Page 3628]

Whereas the NDP Leader and its Party constantly attack large corporations such as Stora, Michelin Tire, et cetera; and

Whereas the forestry sector employs over 8,000 Nova Scotians and Michelin Tire employs 3,600 Nova Scotians; and

Whereas these large corporations throughout Nova Scotia are major employers in many communities and are actively involved as responsible, corporate citizens;

Therefore be it resolved that the workers of Nova Scotia demand the Nova Scotia NDP abandon its anti-business philosophy that it shares with the Ontario NDP, which resulted in plant closings, job losses in that province between 1990 and 1995.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1131

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

Whereas in a global economy, the future prosperity of our province depends on the ability of Nova Scotian exporting companies to compete in national and international markets; and

Whereas the harmonized sales tax will provide Nova Scotia businesses with an enormous competitive edge by dramatically lowering their sales tax burden; and

Whereas the harmonized sales tax will also provide exporters with a competitive edge by ensuring that products sold to customers in provinces without the HST will only be taxed at 7 per cent, while companies selling products from non-HST provinces into Nova Scotia will have to charge a 15 per cent tax;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that the harmonized sales tax provides businesses in this province with the Atlantic Advantage that will generate economic growth and create jobs in Nova Scotia for years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

I hear several Noes.

[Page 3629]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1132

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

Whereas computers, software and other non-manufacturing equipment have very high rates of sales tax imbedded in them; and

Whereas with harmonization, these taxes will be eliminated, causing a significant reduction in the costs of doing business; and

Whereas with harmonization, the costs of construction of new high-tech facilities will also be reduced since the sales tax on building materials for commercial construction will effectively disappear for businesses that use input tax credits;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly recognize the new harmonized sales tax will make Nova Scotia a much more attractive place to locate high-tech businesses such as software developers, computer service providers, biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms.

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

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1133

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

Whereas the tourism industry in Nova Scotia is striving to make significant contributions to this province's economy; and

[Page 3630]

Whereas the new HST will allow tourists from outside Canada to get back all taxes paid on accommodations and goods they take back home; and

Whereas this translates into additional demands for tourism-related products and services, and especially jobs;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly regard the new HST as a major contribution to the future success of the tourism industry in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Could I ask the honourable member to read the last part of his resolution, please, the Chair did not hear it.

[The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis re-read the resolution.]

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 1134

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

Whereas Halifax pediatrician, Dr. John Anderson, co-founder of the Family Service of Support Association, Medical Director of the IWK-Grace Health Centre's child protection team and associate professor of pediatrics at Dalhousie University, will receive the 1996 Fellowship of Man Award; and

Whereas this award recognizes people who, through selfless dedication, have immeasurably improved the quality of life of a group of disadvantaged children; and

Whereas the award, presented by National Trust, is given each year to one person for work in Canada and another for work overseas;

[Page 3631]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Dr. John Anderson for his ongoing work with the children of the Maritimes and wish him continued success as he strives to eliminate child abuse in our society.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1135

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

Whereas the Halifax Port Corporation recently approved $46.3 million to improve the efficiency of cargo operations at the port; and

Whereas major allocations include $6 million to prepare Halifax's two container terminals for cranes with longer booms, capable of unloading post-Panamax ships; and

Whereas the Port Corporation expects to match 1995 tonnage levels this year of about 13 million tons, representing about $230 million in income for the port;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to the Halifax Port Corporation and their Board of Directors for announcing its largest six year capital budget since the early 1990's and, as a result, making the future brighter for the Port of Halifax.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3632]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 1136

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

Whereas the Opposition in Nova Scotia refers to the HST on a daily, hourly, weekly basis as a tax that does not help Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the agriculture industry for the first time is receiving a fair tax program under the HST; and

Whereas small and large farmers are included under this program; and

Whereas the Federation of Agriculture has added their support to this new taxation program;

Therefore be it resolved that the House support important programs such as the HST that benefit the farmers and the agriculture industry in this province. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1137

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

[Page 3633]

[3:15 p.m.]

Whereas the Opposition Parties continue to argue that the HST will be an extra burden on consumers because the sales tax will increase on such products as home heating oil, gasoline and personal services such as haircuts; and

Whereas these items as well as others where the sales tax will increase make up only 24 per cent of consumer spending in this province according to Statistics Canada; and

Whereas 34 per cent of consumer spending is on items that will decrease in price because of the HST and another 42 per cent is on items that will not change in price when the HST comes into effect;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that the overall impact of the HST on consumers will be positive and that the HST represents the biggest tax cut of any kind in the province's 129 year history.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 1138

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

Whereas seafood is Nova Scotia's leading export, valued at nearly $800 million last year; and

Whereas Nova Scotia seafood and the Canadian Culinary Team took gold at the 1996 Culinary Olympics held recently in Berlin; and

Whereas the Culinary Olympics attracts 1,000 top chefs representing 30 national teams from every continent;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to the Canadian Culinary Team and the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries for boosting the reputation of Nova Scotia seafood in important international markets.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 3634]

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1139

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 according to the poverty profile published this spring by the National Council of Welfare there are more poor people now than there were in 1990; and

Whereas the cuts to the social welfare system instituted by this government and their focus on catching the cheaters has done nothing to address the needs of the poor in this the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty; and

Whereas there is a remarkable similarity between the case reviews and the witch-hunts of past centuries in the sense that if you swim, you must be guilty of cheating, and if you sink, you must be innocent;

Therefore be it resolved that the government abandon their witch test and institute real measures to eradicate poverty rather than eradicating the people who are poor.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1140

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

Whereas filibuster tactics were first developed in the United States Congress to obstruct the passage of civil rights legislation and prevent millions of people from obtaining the right to vote; and

[Page 3635]

Whereas filibuster tactics have a long-time association with attempting to obstruct democracy, as the intent of such methods is to prevent majority rule and to frustrate the will of the people as expressed in elections; and

Whereas most Legislatures in Canada prevent filibuster tactics from being employed by limiting speeches to 20 minutes duration as well as the use of time allocation motions which require a vote after a certain period of time has elapsed;

Therefore be it resolved that democracy in Nova Scotia is not well served by the indiscriminate employment of filibuster tactics developed in the United States for odious purposes and contrary to British and Canadian practice.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 1141

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

Whereas Omnifacts conducted a poll of respondents' satisfaction at the three town-based and two mobile branches of the South Shore library system; and

Whereas all of Nova Scotia's regional libraries provide an important service in a cost-effective manner; and

Whereas the poll revealed that the majority of respondents are very satisfied with the staff, material and services of the South Shore Regional Library;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to Chief Librarian Janet Clark and her staff at the South Shore Regional Library for their professional service and outstanding assistance.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 3636]

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1142

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

Whereas Glen Bagnell has made ample contributions to the Province of Nova Scotia in business, politics and community service; and

Whereas Mr. Bagnell was recently elected as International President of World Kiwanis, being the first Atlantic Canadian to ever hold that position; and

Whereas World Kiwanis is an organization with 600,000 members committed to providing funds and volunteer service to community projects worldwide;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Assembly commend Mr. Bagnell for his continuous dedication to worthy causes and extend congratulations on his election as International President of World Kiwanis beginning in 1997.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to rise on a point of order. There were a number of interesting points made by members of government today with respect to the BST/HST. I would like to urge all of those members to take that information out to their constituents and all Nova Scotians from one end of the province to the other and let them know exactly how they feel about this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order.

Moving to Orders of the Day, Oral Questions Put By Members, the time now being 3:22 p.m., the Oral Question Period will run for one and one-half hours, until 4:52 p.m.

[Page 3637]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN. - PST & GST HARMONIZATION: AGREEMENT - COMPENSATION

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to begin with the Minister of Finance. There was earlier reference in this place today about Bill C-70 that recently finished second reading in the House of Commons in Ottawa. That bill makes specific reference to the Tax Co-ordination Agreement that was signed by the federal government with three Atlantic Provinces.

My specific reference is, by way of the agreement that has resulted in the legislation in Ottawa and, as well, the Tax Co-ordination Agreement, will the minister confirm that as part of that agreement, that the federal government in fact transferred to Nova Scotia $249 million to participate and transferred to the Province of New Brunswick $346 million to participate?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I certainly confirm the fact that the Government of Canada transferred to Nova Scotia $249 million by way of compensation because of the decrease of $100 million annually in our sales tax. Because of different sales tax arrangements and a different economy, the compensation was larger for New Brunswick, but I actually do not have those numbers at my fingertips.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for confirming that the different numbers that I gave were, in fact, so.

The last time I looked, there were some 200,000-plus fewer New Brunswickers than Nova Scotians. The last time I looked, the provincial sales tax in New Brunswick was 11 per cent, as it is here in Nova Scotia. Would the minister be prepared to table all the information relative to the negotiations that went on that resulted in a smaller province with a similar sales tax to Nova Scotia ended up with $346 million and the Province of Nova Scotia ended up with $249 million?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has been in this House a little, he knows something about parliamentary procedure and he should know something about inter-governmental relations.

Confidential discussions went on between the three provinces and the Government of Canada. Whatever information that is available on this publicly, I am certainly prepared to make it public, but they were private negotiations and I am not prepared to table that because it is inter-governmental matters and you would need approval of all the parties.

[Page 3638]

DR. HAMM: It would seem to me that what the minister is saying to the members of the House and others is, in fact, what we all know to be true that New Brunswick, a smaller province, got $346 million and we got $249 million, but we are not going to be made privy to the reasons why a small province gets more than a larger province when they both have the same tax rate.

To continue by way of final supplementary, would the minister confirm that the same formula will be used in remitting provincial sales tax revenues to the three provinces in the future and that the amount of this sales tax paid by Nova Scotians will go into a pot. Under this formula there is absolutely no way to guarantee that the amount of sales tax paid by Nova Scotians will be returned to the Government of Nova Scotia to support programs and services in our province. Would the minister confirm that?

MR. GILLIS: We have been assured that our revenues are, I believe, something like $723 million in the year that begins April 1, 1997, which is certainly a fair return. I would also want to say to that honourable member and to correct any impression that he may have left that we are not prepared to give general information on why there might be differences. I would be happy to provide the information to the Leader of the Opposition why Nova Scotia received the amount of compensation it did and why it is different for New Brunswick. There is nothing nefarious about it, it is logically based and I can provide that information.

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

ERA: UNEMPLOYMENT (C.B.) - ACTION

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. The unemployment problem in this province and certainly in Cape Breton continues to grow. We now have one in four Cape Bretoners who are without work and the prospects of finding jobs become more difficult every day.

The Premier acknowledged in a presentation to the Senate Committee on the future of Devco this summer that as a result of federal and provincial government action, whether that be through cuts at Devco or through downsizing, through changes to UI, that they had contributed to that unemployment by 3,600 jobs. Given the severity of this situation, I would like to ask the Premier what action he and his government are contemplating to move immediately to deal with the serious and severe unemployment problem in Cape Breton?

THE PREMIER: There is no question that all of us are very concerned about the problems in Cape Breton. They are, unfortunately structural in the sense that some of the traditional industries are no longer what they were. What this government has embarked on in conjunction with its federal colleagues is a system of community economic development, the creation of the regional authorities, the infusion of funding for the next five years into the community economic development agencies and this, in part, I suppose answers the question

[Page 3639]

that I think was raised in one of the notices of motion about the solution for Cape Breton is not short term. The solution for Cape Breton is long term and it is up to us, all of us working together, to attempt to provide good substantial jobs, such as has happened, particularly in the IT sector; in the information and technology sector there are now 115 companies in Cape Breton unrecognized and in some cases, still very small.

The answer is in the long-term development of sustainable jobs and we are working with our federal cousins to do this.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, again to the Premier, you and all members may remember that back in January of this year the Premier cancelled a trip to Switzerland because he saw the unemployment problem in Cape Breton as such a significant matter that he needed to stay home and we applauded that action by the Premier because of the overall employment issues and the gap left by layoff, whether it be Devco or whether it be in Government Services. I want to ask the Premier, we have seen announcements with respect to the building of boardwalks and various Winter Works Programs, I would like to ask the Premier if he could indicate that over the past year in his discussions with his federal cousins that the best they have been able to come up with in terms of a strategy to deal with the serious unemployment problem in Cape Breton is to build more boardwalks and to clear more brush in the winter?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, no, these are measures designed to increase tourism. The five harbours that were helped by the joint federal and provincial announcements will be indeed of major importance in attracting and keeping tourists in Cape Breton. I don't think it is fair to dismiss them in such cheap terms and the people in those areas certainly would not agree with him.

It is obviously true that he has forgotten that we made an announcement a few weeks ago, substantially improving the opportunities for business with the University College of Cape Breton. Those are where the futures are, the technology centre and the incubation mall that will be set up there. That is the slow, steady, undramatic progress that is needed to produce better employment in Cape Breton.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier may be satisfied with slow and steady but let me tell you that there are one in four Cape Bretoners who are unemployed and who have very little hope of getting steady employment in the immediate future and they want to see some action on the part of this government. For my final supplementary, I want to ask the Premier if he agrees with the strategy expressed by the Prime Minister yesterday and last night in town hall forums where he suggested to the unemployed that they need to do things like move to a new city or to get lucky, that that was the best way to find jobs in this country and

[Page 3640]

in Cape Breton. Is that part of the strategy that we can expect from this Premier and the Prime Minister?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister may speak for himself. It is interesting you know, when we do introduce short-term jobs as we did we get criticized for them being short term. When we do talk about long-term strategies we get criticized too for having long-term strategies. I don't think anybody should take lightly the position of people who are unemployed in Cape Breton. It is a major issue to us, it is of concern to all of us and we will continue to work forward in the long term and I can only emphasize that this is in response to years of requests, particularly following the ECBC plan that was introduced in 1994-95 which is being followed. We will do everything we can to work with that and to attract other industry wherever possible to Cape Breton.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN. - PST & GST HARMONIZATION:

AGREEMENT (CLAUSE 14) - CONFIRM

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, again I wish to continue with the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance in an earlier question agreed that a higher payment was made to New Brunswick to participate in the tax co-ordination agreement. As part of that agreement, I wish to read a short clause, "The Province agrees that, as one of the participating provinces, any decision as between the participating provinces to propose an increase to the PVAT rate will require a simple majority of such provinces.". I would ask the minister if he would be prepared to confirm that as a result of this clause that in the future, if the Government of Newfoundland and the Government of New Brunswick decide that they wish to increase the blended sales tax, for example, from 15 per cent to 16 per cent, they could enact this clause, which is Clause 14, and unilaterally or bilaterally without the consent of Nova Scotia enact a change in our agreement that would result in Nova Scotians having a 16 per cent tax even though it was not requested by the Nova Scotian Government? Will the minister confirm that?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I think the Leader of the Opposition is referring to the CITCA agreement, which lays out the various procedures. It is true that two out of three can make a decision in terms of increasing the rate or be it decreasing the rate, as I recall. I think the honourable member should also indicate that the maximum increase at any one time at the provincial level is one-half a point and there can be no change for at least four years.

DR. HAMM: Again, for the Minister of Finance, I remind the minister that actually to decrease the tax requires all three provinces to be in agreement. So there is a different provision for increasing or decreasing the tax.

[Page 3641]

Would the minister agree that by signing this arrangement the Provinces of Newfoundland and New Brunswick, by themselves, have the right to initiate a clause in this agreement that will result in the increase of the sales tax here in Nova Scotia, even though the Government of Nova Scotia would not be in agreement? Would the minister confirm that, yes or no?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, it is true that at least four years from April 1st, in other words, in the new millennium, if two other of the three harmonized provinces agreed on a one-half point increase in that PVAT part under the agreement, there could be that increase. That is right, but remember, it is a maximum of one-half a point and it cannot happen until the year 2001.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I take great comfort in the words from the minister that suggest that the Provinces of Newfoundland and New Brunswick could only increase our sales tax by one-half of 1 per cent, even though we are not in agreement and that it could not possibly happen before four years. That is great comfort.

My final supplementary to the minister is, does this not remind the minister of what the Boston Tea Party was all about, and that is taxation without representation? Would the minister make a comment as to whether or not this is simply taxation without representation?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, if we have elected members in the Legislature and an Executive Council that is responsible, we will continue to have responsible government.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

FIN. - PST & GST HARMONIZATION:

LEGISLATION (CAN.) - PROTECTION

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. The federal government's BST legislation has now passed second reading and I would ask the minister if he has satisfied himself that the legislation protects the interest of Nova Scotians?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: The question is, am I satisfied that the federal legislation protects the interests of Nova Scotia? I would suggest he get on the phone and talk to his Member of Parliament and all the other Members of Parliament in Nova Scotia and Canada to be responsible for that.

MR. ARCHIBALD: My MP has not been saying too much about the BST. In fact, he has been trying to avoid it. Mr. Speaker, my supplementary question will go to the Minister of Finance again. I want to read to the Minister of Finance from the federal bill, Subsection 252.1(7) and it reads: "For the purpose of determining, in accordance with the formula set

[Page 3642]

out in Paragraph 5(a), the amount of a rebate payable under Section 2 to a consumer of a tour package that includes short-term accommodation where a registrant makes a supply to the consumer of a particular tour package that includes short-term accommodation that is made available to the consumer for any night, any other short-term accommodation that is included in another tour package supplied by the registrant to the consumer and made available to the consumer for the same night as deemed to be included in the particular tour package and is not any other tour package.".

Mr. Speaker, after reading that to you and to the Minister of Finance, who I am sure has examined the federal legislation, could the minister indicate, specifically, what this section of the bill relating to multiple suppliers of accommodation for the same night, what does this mean exactly to the tourists visiting Nova Scotia?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, with regard to foreign visitors, it is just like the VAT in Europe, there is a 100 per cent rebate on accommodations, for example. It will promote tourism and make us competitive. That is what it means. It means for people under the harmonization, for people who fly into Nova Scotia, they will not have to pay the harmonized tax. It will be a lower cost to fly in here, versus people going out, so people will tend to stay in the region.

The member makes a big deal of reading complex clauses in the legislation. He should know - he has been in this House a long time - that tax legislation, by its very nature, is complex. Of course, here is the federal bill and it is required that it has great volume to bring those things out. If he wants an interpretation, my people in the Department of Finance can help him any time.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, the honourable minister indicated that he fully understood this clause, and I appreciate the fact that he is more experienced than most people are in reading the clause. The tourism operators in Nova Scotia have been wondering, who, in the future, they are supposed to call and could the minister furnish the 1-800 number, so they can solve these problems? When they were quickly reading the legislation and trying to understand it, it looked to the tourism operators as though there were more rules, more regulations, more paperwork to fill out than they have ever seen before.

The Minister of Finance has done nothing in this Chamber today to indicate that he understands any better than the tourism operators. Who are the tourism operators going to call in the future, when the government implements this regressive tax?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the tourism operators, as all honourable members of this House know, will have the full benefit of input tax credits. The tax on their accommodations and the meals they provide will be down almost 4 per cent. Compared to those other provinces in Canada, we will be a more attractive destination. If the member wants to know - I have always tried to be helpful - he can call Revenue Canada who will be administrating the

[Page 3643]

tax policy and the number is 1-800-959-8286. That is the number; I would be glad to repeat it for the member.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - DISABLED: NEED PROJECT - REPORT ACTION

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Last week a group by the name of NEED Project released a report called, "A Comprehensive Disabilities Services Strategy for Nova Scotia", and you were at the press conference, Mr. Minister. It outlined several recommended initiatives to be taken, including the reduction of duplication and overlap in services for the disabled and taxation reform to accommodate the extra costs of having a disability and better training, education and community economic development programs for those with a disability. What actions are the minister and his department prepared to take in response to this report?

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, first of all I thank the honourable member for informing me I was there, I knew I was there. It was a good meeting, I had to come to the meeting but I went back and answered the questions for the press. Just very directly, the responses, first of all, the staff worked to develop the report and assisted in developing the report and now are working on a response to the report.

Secondly, not only Nova Scotia but all the provinces in Canada's social services ministers and the federal Minister, the Honourable Pierre Pettigrew, are working on how we can address that, not only in Nova Scotia but in the country; that is both nationally and federally, how, in fact, we can get an integrated understanding of what it means to have a disability, to get it clear.

Through you, Mr. Speaker, to all members of the House, we have different definitions, for example, in the Canada Pension rules, the workers' compensation from province to province, so we have to get an understanding of how that would work. The honourable member would know from working on cases in Cape Breton, oftentimes people qualify for Canada Pension but have great difficulty for qualifying as totally disabled, for example, in workers' compensation. We have to find ways of doing that. That is the first thing and there is an effort to do that.

Secondly, we want a way, for example, to deal with what is called voc. rehab. That present program is being reviewed by the federal government and so how do we replace that? That is to provide aids for people with disabilities so they can get training and education so not only we in my department but also in the Department of Education, the Economic Renewal Agency, not only in Nova Scotia but in all provinces and the federal government are looking at how we can approach this in a way that can make a difference, not only in Nova Scotia but for a person with disabilities as they travel across this country.

[Page 3644]

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I agree and I understand that the minister and the other provinces are working together. My next question to him will be dealing with that very situation because people with disabilities incur many additional costs due to their condition. To help them out on an equal playing field with the rest of society, the NEEDS Project report endorsed an idea recently submitted and proposed by the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Persons With Disabilities and that was a Disability Expense Tax Credit. The report by NEED strongly recommended that the Nova Scotia Government adopt the Disability Expense Tax Credit as a policy and lobby the other provinces to come on side. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, will he lobby his colleague, the Minister of Finance to adopt the Disability Expense Tax Credit and if so, will he lobby the other Community Service Ministers across the country?

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member I can tell him that probably in anticipation of this kind of question the social services ministers have discussed that very thing as a group. The Andy Scott report that he referred to, the recommendation came forth from some of the discussions with social services ministers. In fact, we were on side with that kind of effort.

I can also tell the honorable member that as we were looking at equalizing or levelling the playing field so that somebody with a disability can be considered at the same time with somebody without that disability, that those efforts are sitting on the table with all of the ministers in Canada and federal Minister Pettigrew.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I agree and I understand that these recommendations fall under federal and provincial governments but out of the 11 specific recommendations that were given and put forward by the report, there are seven that fall under provincial jurisdiction alone. Both the federal and provincial governments spent money on this report and there are many different community groups and provincial departments that helped to get this report going. After all the hard work and public dollars that have gone into this report, the NEED Project deserves to be addressed by the minister right now. Will the minister commit to having his department address the seven recommendations that fall exclusively under provincial jurisdiction and if so, when will he do that?

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, first I can tell the honourable member that Charlie MacDonald, the most able Executive Director of the Disabled Persons Commission, has been working with the staff long before the report was tabled in the Red Room. Those discussion on those particular elements have been going on so I don't have to initiate it, we are doing it now and we will do it very quickly. I can assure the honourable member by referring him to the recommendations from BLAC that were provided when I was Minister of Education, we responded quickly in due time and in cooperation with the people in the BLAC committee and we will likewise do this with the people of disabilities.

[Page 3645]

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

NAT. RES.: DEER (ROAD KILL) - DISTRIBUTION

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. We have seen again this week another indication of how out of touch this government is with the needs of people in the Province of Nova Scotia and particularly how disrespectful they can be in their policies and programs to those people who are forced, through no fault of their own, to rely on food banks and for women who need the services of transition homes. We learned this week that the Department of Natural Resources is distributing road kill anonymously to the poor without telling them what it is. I would like to ask the Premier has he, on behalf of his government, issued direction to the appropriate people that this never be done again?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, no.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, we had an incident here a few months ago where it was found that there was pork in packages of hamburger. This government responded very quickly to ensure that the proper packaging was provided, so that consumers would know what was in the package. We also have new legislation in this province to ensure that all meat, before it is sold, is properly inspected. Why is it - and I ask the Premier - why does the double standard exist? In other words, the meat that is going to be sold in stores and in restaurants has to be inspected fully and carefully and yet the Department of Natural Resources, and other people within government, are allowed to just hand out road kill to the poor. Why is there this double standard?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I said was that I had not done it. We have a very competent Minister of Agriculture who looks after the inspection of all this and he would like to answer your question.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, really I am answering this as Acting Minister of Natural Resources. For years, in this province, 20 years or so, it has been normal that the Department of Natural Resource individuals, who are very good staff members, when an accident happens on the highway, and we have about 1,600 accidents a year involving deer - or moose, by the way, not just deer - and we end up with 150 or 200 that are given away out of the total 1,600; the Department of Natural Resources look at it, examine it, take it to an authorized butcher shop where, at that time, it is cut-up and it is handled and it is taken.

Mr. Speaker, I would say this on behalf of the department, I apologize for this one case they are referring to, after these many years because there was an oversight in communications. Normally the people are told. Just so that all members know, when there is an accident, the individual with the car or the motor vehicle is given the first opportunity to secure the meat, and the second opportunity is if there is somebody else around who wants

[Page 3646]

it, but they must have a permit that is issued by the Department of Natural Resources. The program has been working well and we have had many compliments with regard to this program in the Department of Natural Resources over the past number of years. (Applause)

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, my thanks to the Minister of Agriculture for his response. I want to go back, though, in my final supplementary, to the Premier. The problem is not with one isolated incident. The problem has happened at a food bank and it has happened at at least one transition house.

I would like to ask the Premier if he would apologize, first of all, to those services that have not been given full information about exactly what has happened and will he ensure that in the future any road kill that is distributed anywhere is fully inspected, just the way any meat would be if it is sold in stores and restaurants in this province, and that whether it be food banks or whether it be other services like transition homes, that people are advised, fully, exactly where this meat came from and the fact that it has been fully inspected by the services of this Government of Nova Scotia? Will he, in fact, agree to do that?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think the Minister of Agriculture is handling this issue well and I would refer it back to him for further information for the member.

MR. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Natural Resources work with each other and have a great relationship with regard to these sorts of situations. The bill on meat inspection went through this House this year - not 10 years ago, not 20 years ago - all members in this House voted on that bill as it was laid in front of them. We will continue to work with the Department of Natural Resources and their staff and with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture whenever we are required. The two government departments, it is not like it used to be in government with departments never talking to each other, we now work together, in the best interests of the consumers.

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

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS. - HFX. REG. MUN.: TAX INCREASE - EXPLAIN

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, last year the Savage Government forced a shotgun wedding on Halifax, Dartmouth, Halifax County and Bedford. My question is for the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs. Considerable discussion took place last night and I would suggest is taking place today throughout the new Halifax Regional Municipality. That discussion centres around property taxes and rates.

Last night a proposal was put forward, Mr. Speaker, and I understand that it is a proposal at this stage, but a 90 page document was supported and presented. It was supported by staff of the Halifax Regional Municipality and presented to the councillors. If council adopts that proposal, the average residential tax bill for residents in the Town of

[Page 3647]

Bedford is expected to climb nearly $100, while the average commercial tax bill is expected to cost more than $700. Likewise, in the area formerly under the jurisdiction of Halifax County, the residential property tax bills are expected to climb $45 and business property taxes some $644.

Now I know the minister wasn't in charge when his Cabinet friends forced amalgamation on metro. My question is simply this; the former minister, now the Minister of Business and Consumer Services, was very clear when she stated, and I have it right here, Mr. Speaker, "Consolidation will mean savings through lower taxes and higher service levels.".

Now, Mr. Speaker, this obviously is not happening. My question is simply, can the present minister explain?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Is that the President? I just humbly rise as a minister. Mr. Speaker, these are matters relative to the Halifax regional municipal unit's budget. It is a proposal budget, it is a dual system that they are proposing, that is my understanding. There are many positive initiatives within that budget.

I have not had the chance to read the whole report but I do have the 90 page report. What we are looking at, it is my understanding, is the same revenue base that they are looking at and it is a service exchange, it is a fairness within the system with their whole region that they are trying to address. This is a matter of their own responsibility and by the look of this report they have given considerable work to this. It is coming forward. It will go through the budgetary process of that particular municipal unit and they will have to deal with that.

I understand they are proposing public forums and other initiatives. I think this will go through the budgetary process and we will see what the results will be. This is the responsibility of the municipal unit.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I don't believe that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs can simply just force a shotgun wedding, or at least his government, and then wipe their hands. It appears as if residents in the former Halifax County and in the Town of Bedford are going to be very unfairly taxed. I am asking the present Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, will he commit to supporting the statement made by the previous minister, that consolidation will mean savings through lower taxes and higher levels of services?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, any municipal unit has this opportunity to address their tax rate within their system, as to how they see fit. That is the responsibility of that particular municipal unit. This unit has done this and, to use terms as that honourable member has, unfair tax rates, I believe, or something like that, I don't know if he has read that report yet but I would suggest that he acquaint himself more with the facts before he brings them to the floor of this House. He is fear-mongering.

[Page 3648]

This unit is acting in a responsible manner. Our obligations are to see that they set a tax rate, that they meet their bills and we will do that, Mr. Speaker, and give them a chance to operate. This amalgamation came about to help this region grow as a viable, economic unit and they are doing that. Give them a chance to do that.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary, perhaps I could go to the Premier. A story was circulating around Toronto - and the Premier was in Toronto not too long ago - on Sunday. In the Toronto Star, there is a document.

MR. SPEAKER: Is this a new question?

MR. TAYLOR: No, it is related to amalgamation, Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary. The headlines are, Halifax shows us how not to amalgamate (Interruptions) Well, the Premier likes Toronto. Halifax warns us, don't do it.

What I am asking the Premier is, very modestly, does the Premier not see himself with some responsibility if the former Halifax County and the Town of Bedford are going to face tax increases of anywhere between 35 per cent and 50 per cent? Doesn't the Premier have some responsibility here?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is perfectly obvious that the speaker has no understanding of how municipal tax rates are set. Over years and years we have seen figures put out by staff, by the aldermen, by the councillors, which are ultimately in no way connected with what happens in the end. It is a process; you will learn about it.

What we do know is that many other areas are looking at what was done here in this province. I would add that I was originally inspired to this direction by the Party sitting opposite. That was the one that was recommending it first in 1992. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, all I am saying is that I was inspired by the direction that they took in 1992. (Interruptions)

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

THE PREMIER: I felt that under the circumstances, particularly when we saw what was necessary, we acted and produced a municipality which, in the long run, will be a stronger municipality and a real vehicle for economic growth, as we have seen in the last number of years. It will be a success. The low unemployment rate here obviously supports the successful work that has been done by the municipality. I want to congratulate the mayor and

[Page 3649]

the councillors for the work they have done since amalgamation and I know that they will continue to do a good job.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - SENIORS' PHARMACARE PROG.: FUNDING (1996-97) - COST

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the Minister of Health. Today the Minister of Health tabled the Seniors' Pharmacare Program Annual Report, March 31, 1996. I got this from the Clerk and I assume we are all going to get copies. As I look through the report - and the former minister indicated that this was true - "Seniors' Pharmacare is funded equally by government and seniors. However, for the 1995-96 fiscal year, revenues from seniors were not sufficient to meet 50% of program . . .", and therefore $9,685,545 was provided in transitional funding from the government to make up the deficit for the Seniors' Pharmacare Program.

The minister announced today there would be no increase next year, never mind 1996-97. I was told by the former minister that there would be additional transitional funding for 1996-97. I am wondering if the minister has any indication of how much that transitional funding will be for the 1996-97 fiscal year?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, first of all on the report, I am informed by staff that they will be delivered here before the end of the day. The honourable member has me at a disadvantage; I just got one of the copies back that I tabled.

To answer his question directly, in the transition year, when the program was set up, it was recognized right from the start that there would be a number of costs accruing to that program in the initial year; it had to do with billing for less than a year and being quite lenient with seniors who were just learning about the program and coming on, and so forth. Then as a result, in the first year, 1995-96, there was the deficit that the honourable member spoke of in the range of $9.7 million, $9.65 million, whatever. That was paid in that year. That deficit was covered by the government, it was not charged to Pharmacare, it was covered by the government in 1995-96. Now we are in the year 1996-97 and the member wants to know how is it going this year and I will answer that in just a second.

The reason the recommendation comes through every year at this time of year from Pharmacare's board, the seniors themselves who run this program, is that they are doing budgeting for the upcoming year. So that is why they make the recommendation. They have said, based on the information that they have, that they are prepared to recommend and we were prepared to accept that there be no increase in premiums, no increase in co-pay for the upcoming year.

[Page 3650]

Finally, without making the answer too long, let me go back and say that the indications this year are very positive. We will not know exactly to the end of the year, but we are now about three-quarters of the way through the year and I have not given up hope that it will be a break even year. If not, it will be not marginally over that. It represents a substantial improvement over first year and it is one of the things that gives us the confidence and indeed gave the board the confidence to recommend no increase in premium or co-pay. (Applause)

MR. MOODY: Well, Mr. Speaker, on my first supplementary, I applaud the government on no additional premiums. I am trying to get a handle on the actuarial study that was done because I am a little nervous, like seniors are, about an upcoming election. Obviously, this is good news, but what will happen after? The former Minister of Health during the estimates debate last spring indicated there would be an additional shortfall for 1996-97.

I am wondering if the minister would indicate, now he says it has all changed since last spring. I doubt that because as I have checked with a freedom of information that I have received in the summer, there are additional seniors who have dropped off the program that were the paying seniors, if the minister understands that there are two levels of those who contribute. Some are contributed for by government, the low income and others pays the full premium as the minister knows.

I would ask the minister, would he be kind enough to indicate to me and get an update of how much and is it the government's intention to continue over the years to provide the shortfall and keep the premium at $215, therefore making the program, not as it says in this report, that it is to be equally funded? Is that what the minister is saying?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, what I am saying is that the news from the Pharmacare fund this year is good. In fact, the performance of the fund this year - and we are not through the year yet, we have to go to March 31st - the performance has indicated marked improvement over last when there was in its first year a deficit. You asked me, will there be a deficit at the end of March 31st; a heavy flu season might result in a small deficit. I am hoping that we can finish this year without a deficit, but we may not. We may have a small deficit in the fund.

I can promise the honourable member and seniors all over Nova Scotia that what they will see this year when we get to year end and file the report, such as we filed for today, they will see a dramatic improvement in the performance of the fund in the first full year of operation. The board is confident that as we move forward the fund will be paying operation at its present level of co-pay and premium at least for 1997-98, I mean, who can budget 10 years out, we cannot guess that far.

[Page 3651]

The news is good, the prospects are good, the plan is working and, quite frankly, I want to congratulate the board and the chair. We took a plan that was growing so fast it was on the edge of crashing, made the changes, gave refunds to about 73 per cent of the seniors who were covered by the plan and we have something that is fiscally viable. (Applause)

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I have heard hollow words before and I have heard words like maybe it will be overbudget, maybe there will be a shortfall. I have heard all those maybe's before.

The minister is so confident that the information and the seniors do not trust this government because they have made promises to them before. The minister is so confident that the numbers in the actuarial study done by the Pharmacare Board indicate to him and to his government that the numbers are there to verify that the funds, the $215 premium, will actually fund the Pharmacare Program. I did not draw that number out of a hat. Obviously the minister says they have data that indicates to this government, and recommended to the government the data indicates the fund is improving and there is no need for a premium increase and therefore there will not be a shortfall for 1997-98.

If the minister is so confident, would he provide this House, through the Clerk to me, the data used to calculate that this plan will break even in 1997-98, with no increase in the premium?

MR. BOUDREAU: The recommendation came from the seniors' board themselves. This is a fund now that is being run by seniors. The chair is a senior; the members are seniors; and I must say, Mr. Speaker, they are doing a heck of a lot better job at it than that former government ever did.

AN HON. MEMBER: Dream on, minister, dream on.

MR. BOUDREAU: We produced the report this year. We will produce the report in a very timely way, showing the operations. The recommendation of the board - and we agree - is that this Pharmacare Program will be run successfully. It will provide the service; it will give the rebate cheques; it will allow seniors to have the coverage, and I think they are disappointed about that.

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

ENVIRON. - STEWIACKE-FORT ELLIS:

SOIL RECYCLING FACILITY - STATUS

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: My question is for the honourable Minister of the Environment.

[Page 3652]

MR. TAYLOR: The minister will know his department received an application in April of this year from Environ Technologies Limited of Fredericton, New Brunswick, relative to establishing a soil recycling facility in the Stewiacke-Fort Ellis area, in the middle of a residential/agricultural community. I wonder, could the minister tell me the status of that application?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: I stand to be corrected, but I understand the application at this point in time is null and void.

MR. TAYLOR: I believe I heard the minister say the application is null and void? Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: Possibly . . .

MR. TAYLOR: Possibly null and void. Mr. Speaker, the minister will know that he received a petition with over 400 names on it against the proposal. The minister's office has received numerous phone calls against the establishment of this facility. The minister has had letters, personal presentations and representations were made to the minister against the establishment of this soil recycling facility and most of the citizens are opposed because of this questionable bio-remediation process that is going to be implemented.

Citizens have major concerns about air quality, ground and surface water, dust, noise and the possibility that their properties may be devalued and things of that nature. In fact, the Town of Stewiacke and the Municipality of Colchester did resolutions, each unit did resolutions, asking the minister to effect a moratorium against such soil recycling facilities that implement the bio-remediation process.

Can the minister tell me, and the citizens of Stewiacke and area, what is the exact status of that application?

MR. ADAMS: He is asking a lot of questions in his scenario, but I pick up the question he is asking me is if we are we going to honour the request for a moratorium on soil remediation in this province. I can tell him that that is not in the making as far as we are concerned. We must look at all options of how we can make our environment cleaner and safer in Nova Scotia and soil remediation certainly is one of them that creates jobs while cleaning up the contaminated soils of this province.

MR. TAYLOR: I know the minister is being forthright and I am sure the minister is aware that the county does not have that area of the municipality zoned. There is no municipal planning strategy in place and, therefore, there no requirement for public hearings.

[Page 3653]

[4:15 p.m.]

Will the minister commit today that before there is any move, absolutely any move, towards establishing a soil recycling facility, and, incidently, Mr. Speaker, there are a number of soil recycling facilities in the province that are not up to capacity, so to speak, and there is absolutely no need for this facility, but would the minister commit to the citizens of Stewiacke-Fort Ellis area that before there is any movement towards establishing any such facility, that the minister would require a public hearing to be held relative to the concerns that the citizens have?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will endeavour to undertake to bring the member up-to-date in terms of what happened with the Stewiacke application. It occurs to me, and I will not be factual with this until I get the material, but it seems to me that may have been withdrawn because we did ask for public intervention and consultation. I believe that the member knows that we have talked over the summer about that course of action. I have not received, to my knowledge, a final outcome of that, but I do believe that the applicant may have withdrawn, but I will confirm that with him with a report.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

COMMUN. SERV. - SOC. ASSIST.: CUTS - SERVICE EFFECT

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: My question, Mr. Speaker, is to the Minister of Community Services and I want to ask him, through you, about his new directions in social assistance, a document and statement that he released on October 4th. In that document he said that the 3 per cent cut to Community Services, which is, in fact, not a 3 per cent cut, but a 6 per cent cut coming half-way through the year, he said and these are his words, "That it will be accommodated through administration not service reductions.".

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Minister of Community Services, it is two months later. What evidence does he have two months later that these cuts have not, in fact, affected services?

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, through you, I thank the honourable member for the question. Through you I can report to her and to all members of the House that with the Children's Aid Society we have the best example. The Children's Aid Societies across Nova Scotia have contacted our office and asked for assistance in working their way through dealing with this 3 per cent reduction for this year, and it is for this year, which will be restored for next year and it is to get us until April 1st, which I said at the press conference. So my staff and the Children's Aid Societies, as a group, have been working at addressing that. Likewise, we have had bilateral discussions, for example, with the Halifax Children's Aid Society, the Annapolis Children's Aid Society, the Lunenburg Children's Aid Society and our staff has sat with them and worked through it. Any other agency that has had

[Page 3654]

difficulty, and I think, for example, of Brass Tacks in Glace Bay, in my own area, what has happened with such developmental centres, such word centres, we have, in fact, sat with them and, likewise, have addressed it. We know of no situation that has been brought to our attention that we have not met with them and worked our way through it and we are committed to do that for this year.

Mr. Speaker, as some background, the difficulty is that we have not had a reduction in our budget, but over the last year, for example, in the metro region, because of the merger, if you would like, of the Provincial Social Assistance Program and the municipal one, we have some areas in which we have, in fact, growth, but that has caused our budget some problems that we have to get through this year and we are working to do that and the 3 per cent to the agencies is simply asking that we all share in dealing with that, including my own office.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I guess if some organizations have had funding restored, and I am not sure that is what the minister said.

MR. MACEACHERN: I didn't say that.

MS. O'CONNELL: He didn't say that, Mr. Speaker, well I thought, perhaps, he had. So it may be worse than we thought. I went to a press conference yesterday morning held by a coalition of community-based agencies and they have released a study about the effects of the cuts on the community services that serve people in the community. I think, regardless of the two or three that the minister names, there are about 200 agencies. We heard that one agency has suffered from various levels of government and other organizations have suffered eight cuts in the last three years.

I guess I want to ask the minister, he has said that he has sat down with a couple of groups. I guess I want to know whether he will sit down with the large number of people who have engineered and studied and written this report and find out from them, first-hand, what the cuts have meant to that number of agencies?

MR. MACEACHERN: Well, I will do better than that for the honourable member. In fact, I met this morning with the lady who did the analysis here and I set up that meeting this morning. I want to suggest then, there seems to be some kind of an impression that this overwhelming response - there were 100 requests sent out and 16 responded - and the analysis is there.

Mr. Speaker, it is not a question of the Department of Community Services cutting and tearing at these because I want to suggest to you, and here is the document which was released at the press conference, some of the difficulties come, for example, because of the federal government, the provincial government, the municipality, United Way, CAP funding which changed significantly. There are some agencies that had funding tied entirely to the CAP funding, which is gone and we are trying to deal with that. The significant enhancement

[Page 3655]

grant gone, a foundation grant gone, not from us. There is the United Way again, employment project that came to HRDC that was for the short term and stopped.

What they were addressing is difficulties across a spectrum. We recognize those. In fact, at the press conference that I had, I referred to that. We are having significant changes because of how municipalities deal with some of the social programs they funded, the federal government, how they did it, the United Way, and some fund-raising, Mr. Speaker. So there are concerns there. But the suggestion that the 3 per cent cut to these agencies have caused these difficulties, I think is unreasonable and unfair.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I was a little bit concerned that the minister seemed to be discrediting the results of his study because of the size of the sample of written responses, he said 16 responses out of 100. We know that many of the groups phoned and said they were so overworked that they couldn't fill out the form but they gave oral responses.

I guess my final question then is, given the state of things, given the fact that he has begun to talk to them and given the fact that other levels of government have also been starving these organizations, that doesn't alter the fact that this government has a responsibility to these community agencies. I think what these people need from him is a commitment to restore the funding that they need so desperately. I hope he will make that commitment to him. I am asking today, Mr. Speaker, will he make that commitment?

MR. MACEACHERN: First of all, Mr. Speaker, can we restore the federal funding that is not being provided? The answer is no. (Interruptions) Restore money that is no longer provided by the United Way? No. The three per cent that is spread across the agencies - let me repeat, Mr. Speaker - that there is something in the order of $7 million additional from the province going into them. (Interruptions) The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party, who spent two hours with the poor people, is giving us advice on how to provide for them, Mr. Speaker.

We are responsible and I want to tell you what we are responsible for, very clearly. (Interruption) I am trying to answer the question for the honourable member and this Leader of the New Democratic Party doesn't want to listen to this. First of all (Interruptions) Oh, I can take it, I can stand here for hours. In fact, I almost enjoy it.

If you consider the 3 per cent that we spread across the system, we have dealt with the agencies. In fact the Children's Aid Society, which is probably our biggest priority in the Department of Community Services, we are working with them. We didn't give them back the 3 per cent but we are working with them to review how they do business. I want to suggest to you that the cooperation on both sides has been significant.

[Page 3656]

We will not restore that this year because, otherwise, we can't make our budget this year. Again it is because, for example, in metro there is something in the order of an additional $7 million going into social programming here. I can tell the honourable member that we will work with each and every group to strengthen the service provision for the protection of children and other people at risk and the basic provision of food, clothing and shelter to those in need and to help people move towards self-sufficiency. We will do that, Mr. Speaker, that is our responsibility.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

JUSTICE - INSTITUTIONS:

ABUSE COMPENSATION - PAYMENT IMPROPER

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Attorney General. I note with interest that Premier Savage is quoted extensively in the recent press saying such things as, "The compensation process for people abused at provincial reform schools is not only about justice - it's also about money, said Premier Savage yesterday.". In another place he is quoted as saying, "'We will make every effort to be as confidential as possible, but I am not prepared to hand over money to people who were not' abused, he said.". My question, against the backdrop of those enlightening comments from the Premier, I wonder if the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General would tell this House whether he had any reason to believe that any person who has, in fact, already been compensated was wrongly compensated? Was there a person who had not been abused and yet did receive compensation? Has there been anybody wrongly compensated?

HON. JAY ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, there is exactly one case that has been referred to the RCMP for investigation at this point.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, so the answer to the question is no; there is some concern about one case and so the 300-some compensation cheques which have been issued, have, in fact, on the strength of proper analysis been proven to be paid to men and women who were, in fact, abused while at these provincial institutions. Since that is the case, since there is no wrongful payment evidenced to any abuse victim out of those already paid, can the Minister of Justice please explain why he concluded that it was necessary to very dramatically redesign the compensation, investigation and payment process, relative to these victims?

MR. ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite might recall that I have explained in the past that one of the major changes to the ADR process that we have suggested as of last Friday is that statement taking and statement sharing should be done in a much more coordinated fashion, so that at the end of the day not only can I assure residents of the province, claimants and victims that those who were abused were compensated but also that I can assure those same people that the perpetrators of the abuse were brought to justice.

[Page 3657]

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, will the Minister of Justice explain to me why it is he felt it necessary to move the assessment time to four months. I trust he knows - because it certainly is the case with some of the victims with whom I have had the opportunity to speak - that virtually every day is traumatic for these men and women. I would like the Minister of Justice, if he would, explain why it is necessary that the review time in each of these instances be extended to four months as he announced it was to be as recently as last Friday?

MR. ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, there are actually three main populations of individuals with whom we are dealing. There is a group of claimants whose claims are already before a file review, before the appeal level. Those claims will be heard starting February 1st, so that is about two months out. There is another group of individuals to whom offers have already been made and had been made as of November 1st. Those offers are open for acceptance immediately, they needn't wait. Then there is a larger group of individuals for whom the process will essentially restart as of December 19th and yes, the 45 day turnaround time or response time which was being attempted to be observed was under intense pressure because of the volume of new information and because of the volume of claims. That, combined with the fact that even with new staff, we will have a great deal of pressure in turning around the claims, has caused us to request the 120 day turnaround time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

FIN. - PST & GST HARMONIZATION:

AGREEMENT (ANNEX A & B) - DISTRIBUTE

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Earlier in this session the Minister of Finance made available to the members of the Legislature, a copy of the agreement that had been negotiated by the previous Minister of Finance with the federal government which enabled the province to proceed with the blended sales tax. When the minister made that document available, there was only part of that document that actually came to the members of the Legislature.

[4:30 p.m.]

There are two annexes, I believe, Annex A and Annex B to the document which were not provided to the members of the Opposition. We have been trying to get that and we have been given all kinds of reasons why it is difficult to get, including one, which I thought was rather hilarious in that it was a very complicated document so that I presume they were inferring that we, in the Opposition, would not be able to understand a complicated document.

My question to the Minister of Finance is, is he prepared to make available to the members of this House today, a copy of Annex A and Annex B to the agreement that was signed by the previous Minister of Finance with the federal Department of Finance?

[Page 3658]

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: We aim to please. Earlier today the distinguished member for Halifax Citadel called the Department of Finance office and requested these annexes. It was the first I have heard of anybody asking or expressing an interest in them. They are referred to in the report. I spoke to a senior person in the department and I have been assured that before this very sitting day ends, those annexes will be sent over here and made available to the Opposition. (Applause)

MR. RUSSELL: I had already spoken to the member for Halifax Citadel and I was aware of what he has been told. However, we have been told earlier in the day exactly what I told the minister, that the documents were too complicated for the Opposition to understand and that was from somebody within his department, as I understand it.

My question to the minister is, does Annex A contain the formula whereby the $900 million that the federal government has passed onto the three Atlantic signatories, does it contain the formula whereby that fund is split up so the Province of Nova Scotia gets $249 million and the Province of New Brunswick gets, for instance, $346 million?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I had indicated since this came to my attention within the last two hours that almost immediately the annexes would be provided and they will be here. I am sure my officials will not let me down or the member and the House that provided that. More than that, I indicated to the Leader of the Opposition earlier about the information on the compensation - I did not have it at my fingertips, I said it was because of tax differences and complexities and I would be happy to share with the House the reason why the compensation under the program is greater for New Brunswick than Nova Scotia and here is the reason.

For the New Brunswick base, the Province of New Brunswick currently taxes municipalities, hospitals, schools and universities and so what is happening with the HST, the rate in New Brunswick will move down from 18.77 per cent to 15 per cent. This means that New Brunswick will lose more money than Nova Scotia, because we do not tax them. The same reasoning applies in other areas, such as school supplies, laundry, dry-cleaning and so forth. New Brunswick already taxes these items, Nova Scotia does not, as a result the loss in tax revenue is greater for New Brunswick than in Nova Scotia. As a result, the compensation for New Brunswick will be $364 million because they were taxing more than we tax and our compensation is $249 million. (Applause)

MR. RUSSELL: I am glad that the members on the other side of the House are so happy that we are so lousy at negotiating that we let New Brunswick, with a smaller population and a lesser Gross Domestic Product, take up $100 million more (Interruption). Give it up? We have already given up $100 million.

[Page 3659]

My final supplementary to the minister is that this is going to be perpetuated by the fact that the money that is collected in the Province of Nova Scotia under the harmonized sales tax will be going to Ottawa into a pot. We do not get back what we put into the pot, we get it back according to a formula. Would the minister confirm that the same type of arrangement will be in place for our share of that pot from the harmonized sales tax?

MR. GILLIS: That is only compensation for the changes in taxes received at present versus the future. The money we get from the harmonized sales tax will be based on the taxes collected and how our economy performs.

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

FIN. - PST & GST HARMONIZATION:

AGREEMENT (ANNEX A & B) - DISTRIBUTE

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, in response to the minister's reply, what he is saying is that Nova Scotia is going to be part of an equalization agreement with the other Atlantic Provinces, and we will be paying equalization to both New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No.

MR. RUSSELL: Oh, yes we will. Would the minister agree?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I wouldn't agree; our tax revenues under the harmonized tax will be based on sales in Nova Scotia tracked by Revenue Canada.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, what did the minister mean, then, when he said based on economic performance? Is that not the same measure that the federal government uses to provide equalization payments to the Province of Nova Scotia?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, we will track the sales that apply in Nova Scotia and the money we receive from the tax will be based on that. More than that, instead of people having a non-level playing field and having people ship in without paying taxes, by television sales and by ads in the paper - our retailers in downtown Halifax and Sydney and Antigonish are suffering because people who send items in don't pay tax. We will get tax on that and that will be credited to us. Also, people coming from outside the national borders, the U.S. and elsewhere, that will come to us as well.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I feel sorry for the Minister of Finance because he knows not of what he speaks. (Interruptions) He does not.

[Page 3660]

I would just ask the minister a simple question, then, for my final supplementary. Will he guarantee that every nickel collected in this province for health services tax will be returned to this province by the federal government under the harmonized sales tax system?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to give a personal guarantee because even my bank account won't handle that. We will get every dollar to which we are entitled based on sales and activities in Nova Scotia.

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

PREMIER: PROTOCOL OFFICE - CHRISTMAS CARDS

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, as I raise to pose my question, I would like to ask a Page if they could maybe give this paper to the Premier. It is a page out of the Government of Nova Scotia Management Manuals. It is taken out of the current manual. This particular issue is dated June 30, 1988. Under Christmas Cards it says, "In view of the increasing costs of both cards and postage, Christmas cards will no longer be purchased at public expense. The Departments of Finance and Government Services have been directed not to process any such invoices.".

My question to the Premier is, quite simply this. Is that policy still in place or has the Premier given directives and exemptions to anybody to ignore that policy?

THE PREMIER: The policy is still in place.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have in my hand here two Christmas cards. One was sent out last year - a nice, very high quality, expensive Christmas card - and another one from this year sent out by the Chief of the Protocol Office and stamped Chief of Protocol. Obviously the Protocol Office falls under the Office of the Premier. I would like to ask the Premier if these cards were authorized by the Premier? Are they being paid for out of the public expense? If they are being paid for by the person who is sending them out, that is quite appropriate. Maybe the Premier could tell us who is paying for the cards that are being sent out?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, let me say one thing first. I send out 500 or 600 Christmas cards, all paid for by the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia and the postage is also paid. This is in keeping with the Government Management Manual, 1989. We agree with it.

Mr. Speaker, there is a little common sense here; Protocol does not have my picture or a letter from me or any minister, it is part of the inter-governmental process, both federally and with other provincial governments. That card represents the government through Protocol and, as such, is legitimately paid for by the province.

[Page 3661]

MR. HOLM: I wasn't suggesting for a moment that the Premier's picture was placed on the cards. It just seems as if we have double standards here. It points out that the policy, which the Premier said is still in effect, very clearly indicates that the directive is not to process any such invoices. We have heard a great deal today already, Mr. Speaker, we have heard the Minister of Community Services say that he will not restore any funding to those social agencies, including the Children's Aid Society, which is a top priority.

I have to ask the Premier, through you, Mr. Speaker, it may sound like I am being the grinch for Christmas and it may sound like I am talking about small amounts of money but why has the government chosen at this time of the year to authorize and permit such expenditures at the very same time that it does not have the money available to help the victims of abuse, not to provide the finding and is actually cutting funding to those agencies that are out there helping those most in need? Why has the government chosen to do that instead of redirecting that money to where it would be used the most?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I really have to be cautious, I guess, with my answer here. The issue of how governments go, Protocol to Protocol, is well known to most people and is generally accepted that, as such, it is an expense that should be borne by government.

Furthermore, and the member from the Third Party may be interested, we also use this to talk and to advocate and show Nova Scotia artists. Last year's card featured Catherine Blake, of Ketch Harbour, a constituent of none other than the Leader of the New Democratic Party. Wonderful. This year the card that I use and which has been paid for by the Liberal Party, celebrates Maude Lewis, that wonderful artist from Digby County. Next year her permanent exhibition will be opened here.

We see in these an opportunity to push the benefit, both of tourism for Nova Scotia and of Nova Scotia artists. The idea that we pay for Protocol is a straightforward one. These people on this bench know full well that their responsibility is to provide their own Christmas cards, or the Liberal Party, whatever they do. I think it is very important that this province, even at a time of significant reduction in services, still maintain a place in protocol as a government that commands respect for what it does.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWY. BY-PASS:

(SALT SPRING-WESTVILLE ROAD) - UPDATE

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. As the minister well knows, there has been considerable work done on the by-pass between Salt Springs and the Westville Road by-pass and there have been some overpasses and bridges put in. Would the minister bring us up-to-date as to how far along we are with this project?

[Page 3662]

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question by the member opposite. In regard to the Salt Springs-Alma project, some 15 kilometres of divided highway, which includes approximately 16 structures in total. It is estimated that the project will cost somewhere in the vicinity of $53 million. In this fiscal year there were eight contracts called and awarded during the 1996-97 fiscal year.

I believe many of those projects are underway. We are spending approximately $14 million this year and we anticipate that in 1997-98 we will be spending between $20 million and $25 million in the balance of construction of the overpasses and road work. We hope that project will be completed and paved in 1998, with an additional $14 million expenditure.

MR. MCINNES: I thank the honourable minister for that answer. I know there are a lot of people in Pictou County and a lot of members here that travel to Cape Breton that look forward to having that by-pass completed. I just hope that the minister will continue to have that done.

[4:45 p.m.]

Actually, my second supplementary was going to be in regard to changing the intersection at the Highway No. 104 and Route 376 coming out of Pictou. That has been a very poorly designed intersection. It was built many years ago. In fact, when that by-pass is completed, that intersection will have to be changed so that the old Alma Road coming up will tee on to Route 376 and the traffic coming from Pictou and P.E.I. will go right through and pick up Highway No. 104 at Salt Springs. But I don't know whether that minister will still be around in 1998 or not.

I just say to the minister again, this is a very important project and we all are very pleased that it is being done. It is a very costly project and I hope that the minister does encourage his department to see that it is completed soon. I was hoping that it would be completed by 1997.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, we are, obviously, reviewing budgets at this point in time, but as I indicated to the member opposite during this Question Period that we are anticipating expenditures along those lines in the next fiscal year and I can assure members of this House that this government will not only be here in 1997, 1998, 1999 and the year 2000 but in the next millennium to come. (Applause)

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, just very quickly then, I am sure that it is important that this project be completed. As I say, a lot of people hoped it would be done in 1997. Hopefully, by 1998 it will be ready to go and then we can look at our intersection and have it changed at Route 376 because it is a really bad intersection. I even talked to staff about it back when we were in government, but it cannot be changed until such time as that by-pass

[Page 3663]

is put through. So I ask the minister to make sure that that project is done as quickly as possible.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

AGRIC.: HOG DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM - STATUS

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Agriculture. I would like to ask the Minister of Agriculture about the Hog Development Program. Hog producers in Nova Scotia have been very concerned in the last little while that the development program under which they operate, the cap, is going to be reduced in the coming budget.

I am just wondering if the minister could give assurances to the hog producers that the Hog Development Program will continue in its present form?

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for Kings North for the question and he really answered it himself by saying it was a budget decision, which I cannot comment on today. But I can tell the honourable member and all members of this House, sir, through you, that we support the hog industry and we will continue to do whatever we can for the hog industry or any other agricultural sector in this province.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, in the last three years, as you know, the Department of Agriculture budget has been reduced and programs by about 20 per cent. It has been reduced by almost $6 million. The budget has been reduced to less than 1 per cent of the provincial budget, a 34 per cent decrease in agricultural programs.

My question to the minister is regarding the Agri-Focus 2000 Program, which indicated in the spring of 1995 it would be spending $5.5 million. In the 1996-97 year, $4.8 million was spent and the program was cut off $800,000 short of the budgeted amount. I am asking the minister whether or not the Agri-Focus 2000 Program is also in the budget and scheduled to be reduced this year, as he has indicated that he will be reducing the hog program?

MR. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, through you, sir, the honourable member for Kings North knows full well that I didn't say that the hog program would be reduced or if it would be increased. What I said was it was a budgetary process and at least I want to say this, that it will never get as low, I hope, as it is in New Brunswick which is terminating theirs at $2.00 a hog and Prince Edward Island which is terminating theirs at $4.00 a hog. We will continue to offer Nova Scotia hog producers more money than other provinces in Atlantic Canada.

With regard to the Agri-Focus, this was a great program that was developed by this government. The Agri-Focus Program, we will put in about $5 million and, as the honourable member for Kings North knows, there is a farm development fund, there is a research fund,

[Page 3664]

there is a marketing fund and there is a human resources fund which are all under the Agri-focus Program.

We still had money in some of those but not on the farm capital projects. I stand and I am very proud as the minister and this government is proud, when they introduced a program that some people criticized and the farmers have used it all up for this budget year and it means $60 million of commitment by the agricultural sector in this province. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We have 20 seconds left. The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

AGRIC. - DISPOSAL FEE: DEAD ANIMALS - STATUS

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I will make it brief. I would like to go to the Minister of Agriculture too. The minister will know that his government recently had no difficulty finding hundreds of thousands of dollars to help Mentor locate here in Nova Scotia. My question is simply this, the minister knows that the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture made application relative to a dead animal disposal fee, $25,000 they asked for. What is the status of that request?

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, this government and this Department of Agriculture has the third highest assistance program in all of Canada, the third highest in all of Canada. (Applause) That honourable member knows that we are sitting down with the private sector. (Interruption) Why don't you keep quiet until I answer the question. That honourable member will get the truth, the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and the private sector are working on a program in partnership to continue that program in the years ahead.

MR. SPEAKER: Order please. Question Period has expired. Before we move to Opposition Members' Business I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the late debate and the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova will debate at 6:00 p.m. this evening the following:

Therefore be it resolved that the records of both Opposition Parties, both here in this province and elsewhere throughout Canada, demonstrate no evidence that either of them offer any positive alternative but rather demonstrate that either a Tory Government, an NDP Government or a PC-NDP coalition would be disastrous for Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Notices of Motion.

[Page 3665]

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

MR. BRUCE HOLLAND: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the Opposition House Leader for reverting back to Notices of Motion. It came to my attention during Question Period that an honourable member, when I was making my resolution with regard to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax, had opposed my resolution mistakenly and I would like an opportunity to reintroduce it and seek waiver of notice and passage without debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1123 [reintroduced]

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

Whereas the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax has set aside two pages of its website for parish announcements; and

Whereas one page will list one time events, which will be removed from the page immediately after the event date; and

Whereas the second page will list events recurring on a weekly or monthly basis;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Roman Catholic Diocese of Halifax on its initiative in making this space available to the parishes of the diocese thus making effective use of technology and serving the needs of its congregation.

Mr. Speaker, I would seek waiver and passage without debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 3666]

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 49.

Bill No. 49 - Gaming Control Act

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: It is indeed a pleasure, and I mean that sincerely, to rise and speak on Bill No. 49, because I think it is a piece of legislation that, although I recognize that it may not get the universal support of this House today, I think is important enough that the minister and other members of the government will recognize that there is a problem that exists within the present Gaming Control Act and that there is a suitable solution. Bill No. 49 hopefully provides that solution to this problem.

Madam Speaker, during the summer months and the early spring I had the opportunity to meet with several volunteer fire departments about a matter completely separate from what I am going to talk about today, that is the regulations regarding bingo. At each one of those meetings I had with volunteer fire departments, they all brought to my attention the fact that they had very serious problems with the present Gaming Control Act in that it appeared that the government was going to exercise, under its regulations, the power that it had to close down a bingo operation if the operation was not making a 15 per cent net profit. That was in the Act.

It was pointed out to me and I am sure I do not have to tell members of the importance in this province of the volunteer fire departments. Once you get outside of the metro areas of Halifax and Sydney, fire protection is exclusively, I believe, the province of volunteer fire departments. Those volunteer fire departments are the greatest fundraisers that probably exist in this province. They will go out and they will do anything that is possible to raise funds to buy equipment and to maintain their fire departments. Also, I might point out that volunteer firefighters are the spark plugs within their various communities, not only for looking after the need for fire protection, but whenever there is a fundraiser on for something else - Cancer Society or something - the firefighters are always there in the forefront going out raising funds and supporting other charitable events as well. They get out and the put on various activities

[Page 3667]

for the young people within their communities. They do a host of things. Volunteer firefighters are among the best people that we have in our communities from a point of view of having the interests of the community at heart.

I said that I would check on what these volunteer firefighters were telling me and I thought the first thing I should do is to write to every fire chief in the Province of Nova Scotia and ask for their input with regard to bingo. There are some fire departments which do not run bingo, but the majority of them do. I sent out letters to all of the fire departments in the Province of Nova Scotia. There are well over 100 volunteer fire departments in Nova Scotia. I did not receive a response from every one that I sent out but I did receive by phone or by letter responses, I would say, from about 90 per cent. Even those that did not have bingo on a regular basis, et cetera, said we know how important it is to the fire department just down the road or just across the county line and we support what you are trying to do.

So that was fine, Madam Speaker, and I proceeded along, as I say, with volunteer fire departments. Then I found as a member of the Legion that some of the firefighters were also legionnaires and they had brought this matter up in the Legions as well. Sure enough, most of the Legions across this province run bingos to support various charities and activities run by the Legions. Again, the Legions are a focal point within the communities across Nova Scotia and do a great deal of good. Then again, we also have Kiwanis, we have Jaycees, Rotary Clubs and what have you and they all, to a greater or lesser extent, engage in bingos.

[5:00 p.m.]

I am not saying for one moment that the commercial type bingo regulations should be changed, or those bingos where a charity engages a commercial bingo operator to run a bingo on their behalf. Those regulations, as they stand, are fine and dandy. There is no argument about that; in fact, they are very necessary to protect those charities that go out to commercial bingo operators. What we are suggesting in this bill is simply an addition to the present Gaming Control Act and the actual Clause 1(6) reads as follows, "Where a bingo licensee, whether a volunteer fire department, branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, service club or other licensee, uses volunteer services provided by its members or supporters to conduct and manage the bingo on behalf of the licensee, Clause (4)(b) does not apply.". Clause 4 (b) simply states that, "the rate of return to the licensee from the conduct and management of a bingo must be a minimum of fifteen per cent.".

What we are saying in this legislation is that we are going to exempt those organizations that organize charity bingos using their own volunteer help to run that bingo, that they should not have to get 15 per cent. The surprising thing is that there are very few bingos - and I mean very, very few, a very small percentage - probably something less than 10 per cent of the volunteer type, charity bingos that operate in this province are operating with more than a 15 per cent profit. In fact, it is virtually impossible for them to attract sufficient crowds and to have large enough jackpots, et cetera to make 15 per cent.

[Page 3668]

I think that this particular piece of legislation is very simple and as I say, I know that this piece of legislation coming from the Opposition will not see the light of day again; however, I would urge upon the government, particularly the minister concerned, the Minister of Business and Consumer Services, that she take a very close look at that particular section of the amendment that we are proposing.

The second subject that this particular amendment deals with is video lottery machines. It says, "Every gaming device shall theoretically pay out a mathematically demonstrable percentage of all amounts wagered that is not less than seventy-five per cent for each wager available for play on the device.". Now that figure 75 per cent was not just plucked out of the air. We think that people who play video lottery machines are entitled to know what the payback is from that machine, and this is Las Vegas' rules. This is what they have in the mecca of gaming in the United States and it does not in any way affect the attractiveness of the game. It simply shows the player exactly what the chances are with regard to play on that machine.

Then, secondly, "Every gaming device shall display an accurate representation of the game outcome.". In other words, what we are saying to the player is the payback on this particular machine for every dollar that is waged. The third thing is, "After selection of the game outcome, the gaming device shall not make a variable second decision that affects the result shown to the player.". In other words, the machine cannot be programmed to automatically change in midstream, to change the pay-out.

Madam Speaker, I can see that I am almost out of time but I would just like the government to very seriously consider those two amendments which I think would certainly help the charities around this province and, secondly, the one with regard to video lottery machines, would make a more level playing field for the players of those machines.

So, Madam Speaker, I would like to move second reading of Bill No. 49 at this time.

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

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Madam Speaker, I want to thank my honourable colleague across the floor for bringing this issue forward. I would have to say that the majority of what he has in this piece of legislation I have already corrected in a letter to all the licensees on December 4th. (Interruption) The honourable member says he has the letter but we are not going to do anything right away, well in actual fact, the regulations have been changed. They have been approved through Cabinet, gone through an Order in Council. In fact the commission now has the authority, when a bingo comes forward for its license, that they can make a case as to why the 15 per cent would be difficult for them to obtain or that their bingo is done in their community for many reasons, and some of them are social reasons, and the 15 per cent requirement, in fact, does not have to be adhered to. Then the commission can grant them a license without the 15 per cent requirement being adhered to.

[Page 3669]

Madam Speaker, I made those amendments to the bingo regulations and, in fact, communicated that on December 4th to all the licensees. As the member says, he has a copy of the letter.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, would the minister accept a question? My question to the minister is going to deal with exactly what the Gaming Commission - I don't doubt what she has directed the Gaming Commission to do but I can tell you what the Gaming Commission is doing. They are asking, for instance, the Canadian Legion Branch No. 9 to appear before them to make a case. Why not just simply say, we are going to exempt you because you are a charitable organization running the bingo with your own membership, at no cost?

MS. JOLLY: Madam Speaker, that question is very easy to answer, extremely easy to answer. As part of my discussion here today I was going to go through the history. The very reason why we have regulations, and actually, in fact, even put them forward, was because of a report done by his honourable colleague, Mr. Kimball; his honourable friend, Mr. Morris; and our very good person, Mr. Fogarty. Those are the individuals (Interruptions)

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

MS. JOLLY: Madam Speaker, the question was, why did we do this? We did this because we had three very distinguished individuals travel the province and ask for some regulations and some control over gaming in the Province of Nova Scotia. It is almost a $700 million industry which has almost no regulations in it. The bingo industry has $93 million in it and he wants us to get rid of all regulations to deal with bingos? You can't have it both ways. (Interruptions)

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, on a point of order, there is no way that I was suggesting that she throw out the gaming regulations. In fact, said that I was in favour of the present gaming regulations but I was saying that the 15 per cent should be relaxed for those particular organizations that are charitable and running with volunteer labour.

MS. JOLLY: Madam Speaker, if you check back in Hansard, you will clearly see that he wanted those groups of people to be exempt from having to come forward and to have any discussion with the commission on the way they are running their bingos. He asked for them to be exempt because they are charities. That is what he asked for. (Interruption) That's right, that is what he asked for and he agrees.

Madam Speaker, what we have done, based on consultation with bingos all over the province, based on what we have seen in the past and the regulations that have come forward in 1995, we have, the first time ever in the Province of Nova Scotia, A Year in Review: Gaming in Nova Scotia, the first annual report on gaming in Nova Scotia. It was done in 1995-96 by this government. This book here outlines all the pluses, the minuses and the

[Page 3670]

concerns that have come forward from the citizens in the Province of Nova Scotia. It is extremely detailed and it goes through all gaming. It also goes through the bingo regulations and the bingo aspects, very specifically.

Madam Speaker, in this particular book the recommendation is that we should be seeking the advice of the bingo licensees as to how best to ensure charities and religious groups get their fair share of bingo dollars. If I was going to do what this honourable member suggested, we would not be discussing with the charity groups how they are running their bingos, any difficulties they have, any pluses they have. He wants us to remove those people from any discussions or regulations at all. (Interruption) Well you said you wanted them to be excluded.

Madam Speaker, I am telling him that I amended the regulations over a week ago, December 4th. I suggest he is trying to get brownie points on something the government already did that he is now trying to capitalize on and say he is the reason. I am telling you, we did it. We have amended the regulations and the commission is now able to hear bingos and waive the 15 per cent requirement. I have sent this out to all the licensees across the province. It has gone out from the Gaming Commission. They have accepted it extremely well. They are very pleased that a government has actually talked to them, consulted with them, and made a change that they have requested. That is exactly what we have done, made a change that had been requested by many bingos.

The honourable member is quite correct. He did write me. I wrote him back October 24th telling him we were reviewing the difficulties of the 15 per cent. We have made a change. We have amended the regulations to allow the commission not to require a charity bingo to have to return 15 per cent. We have done that, Madam Speaker. (Interruption) Yes, they may. Anybody that comes forward and wants to have their 15 per cent removed, we review it.

Madam Speaker, we had years of gaming in the Province of Nova Scotia with no regulations. We had three commissions travel the province and tell us why regulations were required. Two of them were your honourable colleagues, Mr. Morris and Mr. Kimball. I guess now he doesn't like what they said and he doesn't want to follow through on their recommendations.

Madam Speaker, I can go back to the gaming report, which was extremely well done. It says in here, very clearly, under the Kimball Report that we should have a review of all gaming and bingo. Under the Morris Report, a re-drafting of bingo regulations to ensure the integrity of the operations and that contributions to charitable organizations be at least 15 per cent. That is what Mr. Morris asked us to do, his honourable colleague who travelled the province, and Mr. Kimball. We also had Mr. Fogarty, the honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin, who travelled the province, in 1994.

[Page 3671]

AN HON. MEMBER: I travelled with him.

MS. JOLLY: The honourable member says he travelled with him. The recommendation of that report - if he travelled with him, I think he must have signed off on it - says that the new regulations should be implemented to govern all aspects of bingo in the province, they should ensure that games are conducted fairly and honestly, that operations are accountable and that individual sponsoring charities and government receive a responsible, reasonable account of returns from the game. How could I do that, Madam Speaker, if I did as he is now suggesting, that we cancel all these people having to come and see the commission and have a discussion and show how they are running their bingo?

I think what he is really trying to do is score brownie points on something the government has already done. We have amended the regulations on December 4th. Any charity bingo that comes forward and puts forward a case why the 15 per cent return is a difficulty for them, their licence will not be suspended, their licence will be upheld and they will be able to run bingos just as they always have and I think that is a very responsible direction for this government to go. We have consulted with the industry. We have taken what the industry had asked us to do and we have brought it forward and did it over a week ago. The bill that the honourable member says will never see the light of day probably won't because it has already been done by this government. Thank you. (Applause)

[5:15 p.m.]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, I don't know if somebody is trying to gain brownie points, as the minister says, or if she is trying to gain brownie points or not. I am not going to bother myself with those kinds of comments, I am going to deal with a couple of aspects of the bill and something else which also has a major effect upon the profits that are or are not being made by bingos and the difficulties that some of them have.

I am going to be starting toward the end of the bill and working my way forward. First of all, I find myself in support of a couple of the principles on Clause 2 but I am not so sure I totally support the first principle and that being that all of the lottery machines must pay out at least 75 per cent of the wagers. One of the difficulties we are having in this province is we are having more and more gambling machines, more and more of the one-armed bandits, the slot machines, whether they be those which have doubled in numbers in the drinking establishments across the province or the many hundreds that are located in the casinos.

One of the things that we do know is that the likelihood of people becoming addicted to this type of gambling increases as the amounts of the payouts actually goes up. I am not so sure that I want to see the amount of the payouts from those slot machines actually increasing. My preference would be is that the machines not pay out anything directly from

[Page 3672]

that machine but I would prefer to see, as you do with a lottery ticket like a Lotto/649 ticket where if you have a winning, you have to send in your receipt to get your money back so that people who do make the winnings will not be as prone to reinvest that money immediately back into the machine - more likely getting hooked - and give them a bit of a second chance.

I certainly am very much in support of the principle in the bill that says, on each and every machine there should be, required by law, a posting that would stipulate the mathematical calculations that would determine on the basis of what percentage those who are investing their loonies, toonies and $5 coins that they purchase in the casinos, et cetera, what chances they have of getting a win. If that is posted and people see that the odds are not as good as they might like to dream, they may be less likely to play and less likely to get addicted.

I want to deal with the idea of the bingos. I have a great deal of sympathy for the sentiments that were being expressed by the mover of the bill. I was aware that the minister has made amendments to the regulations and that there now is a provision that those small community charity bingos may be able to be exempted from the 15 per cent requirement.

One of the reasons, of course, why a lot of bingos are now having more difficulty in making a profit and being able to make that 15 per cent is as a result of that other item that I just talked about a minute ago and that is the casinos. Bingos, when they are operating and bingos are more than simply games of chance. In many rural communities, whether they be in Cape Breton or in many parts of this province including here, people go to a bingo not just to gamble but it is a social activity.

The profit margin above the expense, whether they make 15 per cent profit, 10 per cent profit or lose 10 per cent or make 25 per cent, that is often going to be based on the number of patrons who are going into those bingos. If the numbers drop, their expenses may be exactly the same in the sense that they are going to still be giving out the same awards, their rentals and all the other costs remain constant but as the number of people go down slightly, so too can that profit margin, to bring them down below that 15 per cent.

One of the major reasons that I have been hearing as to why those bingos are having a harder time is the casino down the road or the casino up in Sydney. That casino in Sydney, of course, was supposed to be set up and it was suppose to be making $4 million a year that would be distributed to the Mi'kmaq communities in Nova Scotia, as well as to charities in Nova Scotia. Of course, as many of their predictions that this government has made when they have tried selling things, that has not come to fruition. That has not happened and there has not been one plug nickel returned to any of those charities or the native community so far.

Yet they are drawing enough people away from some of those bingos that those bingos are losing that profit margin. I know in my community, the community has benefited tremendously and most people do not really recognize how much we have really benefited

[Page 3673]

from those dedicated community groups that have worked very hard in a totally unselfish manner to raise, through the efforts in those bingos, to provide us with sport stadiums, to provide us with monies to prepare and to develop the recreation fields within the community and so many of the activities that our community would not have been able to afford if it were not for those bingos. The same applies to different degrees right across this province.

One of the things that I certainly would like to see this government doing is not only looking at ways to help those - and I am not talking about those who are running the bingos for personal profit. I am not talking about those who are running it for a business to make the money for themselves. My concern rests primarily with those charities, with those church groups, those community organizations that use this as a way to provide a social activity within the community and to raise money for their fire departments; to raise money, maybe for a child care or a day care within the community, for a gymnastics club; to provide those kinds of programs and services that there is not government funding for and where there is even less government funding being made available through different kinds of programs and grants.

The Minister of Transportation and Public Works will know that there is a bunch of these bingo operations within his own riding, his own constituency that do very valuable work and that those communities would not be able to, maybe, buy a fire truck or replace a fire hose on the equipment to maybe take some of the training that the firefighters need, to upgrade their skills, without that.

It is not good enough for us to simply say that it is somebody elses' responsibility or that somebody else had wanted something. I would urge the minister to ensure that there is common sense being employed, good solid common sense being employed; that those bingos that are clearly aimed at providing volunteers - I am not talking about people who are going in and renting the halls for high profits or own halls and they rent them out for excessive prices to bingo operators to come in and to run the bingo so that the owner of that building can make a fortune, my concern is that we use common sense to ensure that those legitimate and I believe that 99 per cent of them are legitimate, bingo operators who are doing what we all admire tremendously, I know, working on behalf of their communities that those can operate effectively and efficiently.

One of the ways to do that would be to start to put a little bit more teeth into what the casinos can do. Casinos down here, they can give away all kinds of freebies. They can have door prizes, they can give you free lunch, free breakfast, free you name it, all kinds of freebies to entice people to come into their brand of gambling. Let's prohibit that. Let's stop saying the casinos can give away freebies. Let's stop - I see my time is drawing short and there are many hours that could be spoken on this and I haven't got the time.

Let's ensure that this government's policies are aimed at trying to promote casinos so that they can, hopefully, get a couple of loonies and toonies falling into the coffers of the

[Page 3674]

provincial government, let's stop favouring them over the community groups; the men, the women, the organizations across this province that have worked so tirelessly, given so much of themselves, to ensure that through their efforts those community activities and social activities can take place and, most importantly, so that they, through their efforts, will be able to raise a few dollars to put back into the community for the benefit of all of the citizens who live within their communities. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 1057.

Res. No. 1057, re Justice - Institutions: Abuse Compensation - Fairness Show - notice given Dec. 9/96 - (Mr. T. Donahoe)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak, I think, for about 9 or 10 minutes at a maximum, in relation to Resolution No. 1057. Without reading the recitals, I would simply begin by reading the resolution clause:

"Therefore be it resolved that this government's bottom line in dealing with the victims of abuse at government institutions be fairness and justice, rather than trying to get the lowest dollar settlement.".

I was struck, and you may recall, Madam Speaker, that in the course of Question Period today I put a couple of questions to the Minister of Justice and I was certainly struck by remarks attributed to our distinguished Premier in this connection. Well, in fact, I am being reminded that the quotes, or at least in the newspaper, as an example, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald of Wednesday, December 11th, quotes the Premier as saying, "'We will make every effort to be as confidential as possible, but I am not prepared to hand over money to people who were not'abused . . .".

There was another quote which I have here in my myriad of papers, attributing similar sentiments to the Premier or quoting the Premier in a similar fashion. I was struck today, Madam Speaker - here is the reference I was looking for, it was the Daily News of December 11th; "The compensation process for people abused at provincial reform schools is not only about justice - it's also about money, said Premier John Savage yesterday. During question period in the Legislature, Savage said his government will compensate all injured people, if they deserve it.".

[Page 3675]

One would get the impression, listening and reading those words, that when he adds expressions such as "if they deserve it" or if they really were abused and this isn't all a hoax and a sham, it leads me to believe that the Premier has some very serious reservations about the legitimacy and the validity of claims being made by the victims of institutional abuse.

Well, I was struck by that and so I asked the Minister of Justice today whether or not he was prepared to acknowledge to me and to the House and, through us, to everybody in Nova Scotia, was there one victim of institutional abuse who has been paid compensation, in relation to whom he, the Minister of Justice, has any reason to believe perpetrated a fraud or a hoax on the government? Was there one victim paid a claim who was not justified in having that claim paid?

You will recall, Madam Speaker, that the first answer I got was something like; well, there was one case referred so that an allegation of fraud could be addressed. Well, that answer, frankly, I think lends credence to the fact that this government still continues to go out of its way to attempt to make it look as if there are people who are attempting to foist inappropriate and unjustified claims upon the government and upon the taxpayers' purse.

The fact is that nothing could be further from the truth. Over some 300 victims of compensation have been paid. Out of all that number, out of 1250 or 1200 or some in total claims, this Minister of Justice acknowledges that one file has been referred to make a determination as to whether or not there is any fraud or wrongdoing.

I think that what we are really dealing with here, Madam Speaker, is a situation in which some number of months ago this minister's predecessor in office, the Honourable William Gillis, announced on behalf of the government what was hailed by everybody, myself included, as a reasonable, fair, workable and a compassionate and confidential alternative dispute resolution process to enable to come to fair and equitable compensation for the victims of institutional abuse.

So that process proceeded for a number of months and quite a number of victims were in fact compensated, some 300 or thereabouts. Then this present Minister of Justice attains his present office and after a short time there he takes what he likes to describe as a time-out to have a look at this whole thing. I am not sure whether he is aware of it, perhaps he is. I am sure he must be. By taking the time-out he has thrown the lives of hundreds and hundreds of legitimate victims of institutional abuse who are waiting for as expeditious a review and response to their legitimate claims as possible, he has thrown their lives and the lives of their families into very real chaos. (Interruptions)

[5:30 p.m.]

What have we got as a result of the time-out? Now, by reason of this minister's recent announcement, the time back in. What we have is a process now in which one of the

[Page 3676]

fundamental elements which Minister Gillis incorporated into the process and for which he was genuinely and roundly applauded was the element of confidentiality which is now lost to the claimants as a consequence of the administrative structure now put in place by the current Attorney General. The Attorney General now has put the alleged victims of the crime of abuse into a situation where they have to be subjected to interrogation by investigators and RCMP. We are talking about men and women whose whole lives, exacerbated as it has been by the abuse which was perpetrated against them, are in many cases, and I have spoken to some of them, are frankly scared to death to have anything to do with any authority, let alone with police authority.

The reason offered by the Minister of Justice for the change in the ground rules is that he is now, along with his officials, going to attempt to secure as much information as he can in the course of interviews and interrogation of victims so that determinations can be made relative to whether or not criminal charges or charges of any kind should be laid against any perpetrators of these offences. It is my view, Madam Speaker, that it is possible, would have been possible, for that result to have been reached without having to subject the alleged victims to as lengthy and as tedious and as psychologically and emotionally threatening a process as they now are required to follow under these new rules.

I note with interest, too, that under the new rules the minister has said that the levels of compensation remain unchanged, but there is a difference. If it is determined that a claimant is entitled to an award in excess of $10,000, that compensation will be paid over a four year period. Claimants will receive the greater of $10,000 or 20 per cent of their award in one lump sum payment, the remainder paid over time with interest. I suppose an argument can be made to support that, but there is an equally forceful argument. If the minister would take a look at the desperate circumstances of many of these men and women and their tremendous personal and family need as a result of, in the main, an inability to have generated a continuing income over the last number of years, that many of them are saddled with financial burdens that payment of an award of the kind of which we speak over a four year term is, quite frankly, going to even add further to their difficulties because it will not enable them to extricate themselves - and many are, unfortunately, in this situation, - from very difficult financial circumstances.

This minister said this government initiated this process; we want to see it through. We took the necessary steps to address this problem in the first place and now we have done what it takes to make sure it continues. I sincerely hope the claimants and their lawyers will continue to be part of this process.

MADAM SPEAKER: One minute.

MR. DONAHOE: I have one minute? Thank you. The minister will undoubtedly offer some comments in response to those which I have now made.

[Page 3677]

I am simply going to close, Madam Speaker, in light of the time, by indicating that what we are really dealing with here is a reasoned, thoughtful and a very creditable, confidential alternative dispute resolution mechanism designed for men and women who have been traumatized, if I may use the expression, "by the system". After many of them experiencing turmoil along the way, having received legitimate and justified and approved compensation, this government and this minister have now changed it so that the ground rules are that much more difficult for the claimants, the time for payment is that much more difficult and, I suggest, the one and only justification or explanation as to why all of these changes were made is simply because this government is now trying to fit a far larger problem than they were able to anticipate into the same amount of money that they set aside and, in the long term, the losers, unfortunately, will be many hundreds of the victims of institutional abuse.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAY ABBASS: Madam Speaker, I agree with some of what the member opposite has said in the last few minutes actually. A lot of it I do disagree with. The resolution itself talks about the main goal of government and all of this being that of trying to get the lowest dollar settlement. I would point out - and the member, I think, opposite has acknowledged - that the exact same scale of compensation remains intact. As of last Friday, that was made clear.

The setting which he describes as being that of an interrogation, that his claimants will now have to go through an interrogation, that is unfair; it is misleading and it is not truthful. It is not designed as an interrogation. The claimant, typically, will not enter a room and find three uniformed policemen waiting for the claimant. They will not be dressed in scarlet tunics and with high boots on and their Mountie caps. That is just not what this is all about. But I might point out that the level of scrutiny or interrogation that one might experience in making an insurance claim might actually surpass that which one might experience as a claimant in this process, since we made our announcements last Friday.

The beginnings to this whole question go back to Justice Stuart Stratton of New Brunswick, who did his report, made his recommendations and interviewed individuals who spoke of having been abused at Shelburne and the other two institutions.

The ADR process, the alternative dispute resolution process, did begin in June 17, 1996. Because of the sheer volume of claims, Madam Speaker, and the volume of new information found, yes, a hiatus or a time-out or a taking stock period was called for and that was announced on November 1st. No one can say I told you so when it comes to guessing the number of total claimants that have come forward. Justice Stratton spoke of 89 individuals. In negotiation or consultation with the lawyers at the outset of this process, we spoke originally of 300 claims. That went quickly to 500 claims and, of course, that was the basis upon which the $33.9 million was budgeted. But, of course, 1,250 is not a shade off of 500; this is a substantial difference from what was originally anticipated not just by

[Page 3678]

government but by the lawyers for the claimants and by all parties involved. Even Justice Stratton, I believe, has expressed surprise by way of an article in the newspaper over the number of individuals who did come forward.

By way of new information, we did find 900 paper files at the central registry on Young Street, the government's central registry. We did find microfiche dating back to the early 1950's. In the five week hiatus or taking stock period which we have had since November 1st, I have met personally with the Family Service Association, with lawyers for the claimants, with the RCMP, Operation Hope people, with the internal investigation unit which is staffed by municipal police, with the staff, of course, with claimants themselves and with others.

I found that there were many moving parts to this process but in all of this I knew at the end of the day, at the end of at least four weeks that I could not assure Nova Scotians, either the claimants or Nova Scotia at large, that it was those who were abused who were being compensated and that criminal investigation would surely lead to the bringing to justice of the perpetrators of the abuse. The principles that we have tried to adhere to are that abuse victims should be compensated and must be compensated and funds will be paid to so compensate those individuals. Just as assuredly, I must report at the end of the day to Nova Scotians that the perpetrators of that abuse, of that crime, have been brought to justice.

We have, as of last Friday, strengthened the statement-taking protocol. Statements will be shared amongst those involved in all three of assessment of compensation claims, employee discipline and criminal investigation. The best information or the best evidence will find its way, as it should, into the hands of staff assessors and if it comes to that, into the hands of file reviewers, the appeal level.

The member opposite has mentioned payment over time or deferred payment. For me and for government that was just a common sense way of dealing with a very sizeable, substantial money challenge. The mathematics of this are daunting, formidable. If one takes the numbers of claimants that have come forward and simply deals with the original budgeted amount, we can all guess very easily that the $33.9 million is not a very dependable number; nor is the 500 claimant number.

Cabinet has been clear in my various visits to Cabinet since the time out was asked for. My instructions are to get the process started. That was the request that was made very clearly by the claimants with whom I met; compensate those who were abused and that government and Cabinet, of course, is committed to funding the program and I want to make sure that that is very clear here. There has been at least one newspaper account and now a member opposite saying that there is no more money. Well, that is just not the case. The government is committed to funding this program.

There are three populations of individuals who are affected by all of this, those who are before file review as of November 1st; those file review cases or appeals will be heard

[Page 3679]

February 1, 1997 beginning on that date. Then there are those to whom offers had been made as of November 1st. Those individuals are free now, immediately, to accept those offers. Others, and there are many others, will see the process restart as of December 19th and, yes, we are dealing now with a 120 day turnaround time instead of a 45 day turnaround time. Additional staff will be added to both the internal investigation unit and to the Justice Department contingent which is doing the assessing. But even with that and especially because of the new information we have and because of the sheer volume of claimants, it will take 120 days instead of 45 days.

The alternative dispute resolution process was the right one in the first place, the ADR process is the right one now. The changes that we have made are designed to save the ADR process and ensure that it continues into the future.

Confidentiality has been raised as a concern. One area in which I would agree strongly with the member opposite is that the claimants are under tremendous pressure, they do feel anxious, there is frustration and there is fear, all of which has to be taken into account. I have put the confidentiality concern to the RCMP in my personal meeting with them. As Attorney General, I cannot instruct the RCMP either to withhold charges or to lay charges. I am limited in the extent to which I can even instruct the RCMP on how to conduct their investigations.

[5:45 p.m.]

However, the RCMP have assured me that they will be sensitive to the sensitivities, if you will, of the claimants and even to the fragility of many of those same claimants. That is exactly as it should be. At the end of the day we must be certain that this process is compensating those who were abused, that the eventual result of all this is that the perpetrators are brought to justice. One side effect, but an important side effect, is that the cloud of suspicion is lifted from those who have been accused but perhaps wrongly so.

The changes we have made are specifically very purposely designed to ensure that all of these goals are met. Again, the ADR process is the right one, Madam Speaker. It is the process that was purposely designed to avoid or to spare the claimants the need of going through the rigours of the common law courts. It can still do that and will do that, if allowed to do so by all parties concerned.

Government does remain committed to this, both as a funding partner and as a body that wants to encourage the ADR process into the future. Thank you very much, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, I welcome the chance to speak on the motion before us but I wish, with all my heart, that there was not a need to be talking about this

[Page 3680]

because I wish it wasn't happening. The mover of the motion talked about what the Premier is quoted as saying yesterday, indicating that a principal reason for suspending the process and changing it was over money and the suggestion that we had to make sure that those who were receiving compensation were not doing it or were not receiving it if they were not justified to receive it and if they had not actually suffered abuse.

I was pleased when I asked those questions yesterday that solicited those answers from the Premier that the Minister of Justice really contradicted the Premier in his remarks when the minister answered and said as he did again today, that there is no evidence of that; that there is one case out of all those cases. So, obviously fraud, people coming forward with false claims, is not an issue. What is clearly the issue here - there are several of them: one is providing and meeting and living up to the commitments that are made to those who have been traumatized, who have suffered so much and, on the government's point, with the greatest respect, Madam Speaker, I say it is also money.

Madam Speaker, I have read some victims' statements. I have had some victims' statements provided to me by victims, with their consent, and I have read them. What we are doing, in terms of breaking the trust, the government here, to those who have gone through the kind of things that I have read, I just simply cannot understand how that is happening, I can't.

Madam Speaker, the government says that the scheme, the rates of pay, the levels of compensation, are unchanged. The minister will know, and I know I have been informed, and I believe quite accurately, that some who already have a claim in, who have filed, have withdrawn. They have withdrawn since the minister and the government of which he is part, changed the rules. These are people who are very brittle, who are very fragile and who are unable to go through with the type of interrogation process that could be involved, to go through the potential of being called into the courts and so on and having the confidentiality and so on exposed, and just going through the trauma of having the commitments made, broken.

Madam Speaker, as people drop out, yes, indeed, the government will save money. Some others may decide to go another route, they may decide, well, if you are going to put us through this to receive the kind of fair treatment that we were promised, we might as well say to heck with your process. We will take it to court. We will go the litigation route. Those who have done that in other jurisdictions, for example, in Newfoundland with Mount Cashel, have received financial awards and other kinds of awards that far exceed anything that was being provided for here. Even on a financial basis, the government's decision makes this decision foolish.

These individuals, men and women who endured this physical, this sexual, this emotional abuse, they, through their representatives, opened up. They opened up and through a period of nine meetings between the Justice Department and their representatives, a process

[Page 3681]

was arrived at - the alternate dispute resolution process. Now I don't know if the government is normally of the view that if they sign an agreement, that they can pick and choose which ones they will and which ones they will not honour, but after nine meetings that Memorandum of Understanding as to how this process would be followed was signed.

The Attorney General of the day, very genuinely, I believe, apologized on behalf of the government and promised a fair process that would be respectful of those who have suffered. It included a review process where those, if there had not been satisfaction reached in terms of the negotiations, there would be an independent review that could be done, all aimed at one fundamental principle - healing and allowing what happened to finally come to closure so that those who have endured this all these years can come to grips with what has happened in their lives and move on with a healing process for themselves and for their family.

Madam Speaker, that was a very important, an extremely important commitment. But it seems now that that commitment had a price tag attached. If you have cost overruns in many areas, the government finds ways to be able to achieve that. I don't want to bring other things in, but the BST, for example, the blended sales tax is talking about a $240 million cut for businesses. I really find it powerfully strange and hard to comprehend how the government has arrived at what it considers to be the top end value. The courts may well change that dramatically.

Equally disturbing, extremely disturbing because not only was a trust broken, I don't use the word lightly, it was betrayed by the government and now the government is saying, yes, the ADR process was the right process but, unilaterally, they changed it; with no consultations and no prior warning, they changed it. In Question Period yesterday I asked the Premier, quite clearly, what guarantees, what assurances can you provide that if this new process that you are advocating should not meet the government's needs down the road, what guarantees are there? What can we say to people to assure them that that would not be changed yet again? There was no answer.

We hear about the times, and the new files that were found. Madam Speaker, I commend the staff in the Department of Justice who have been working on these, because up until the time that the process was suspended they were meeting their 45 day turnaround. They were meeting it.

These 900 new files that have been found, if they were a problem, surely to heaven there could have been a couple of days spent going through those 900 files and categorizing them by name as to who they relate to. You match them up with those who have put in claims so that could have been quite instantly made part of the information.

I welcome the increased staff. I welcome that, but I just cannot see how what is being done here is in any way respectful of those who came forward and bared their souls. One case

[Page 3682]

has been referred on. One out of over 300. At that ratio, that would be a little more than four people out of approximately 1,200, if there were that many.

Those who have been involved in counselling have been speaking out. I tabled in this House earlier a letter from one such counsellor who has talked about the devastation that this is having upon those whom she is trying to assist through the process and the healing that they need to do for themselves and for their families and, I might add, for society as a whole.

I really and truthfully say to the former Minister of Justice, I still to this day congratulate him for the process that he went through and I believe his heart was in the right place when he entered into that agreement and wanted to see it carried through. I have to say to all members of the government benches that by tearing up, by changing unilaterally that agreement, by betraying that trust, you have really done tremendous new harm to these individuals. All I can say as I sit down, Madam Speaker, is that has turned out to be one hell of a poor apology that has been given to those survivors of these institutions.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, that concludes the Opposition business for the day.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Madam Speaker, I wish to advise the House that we will be meeting tomorrow between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight and that the order of business following the daily routine and Question Period will be Public Bills for Second Reading. Following that, time permitting, we will go into Committee of the Whole House on Bills. With that, I move that we adjourn until tomorrow at 8:00 a.m.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is that we adjourn until tomorrow 8:00 a.m. The House will adjourn until that time.

We have reached the moment of interruption. The draw for the Adjournment debate this evening was won by the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova who wishes to debate the matter:

[Therefore be it resolved that the records of both Opposition Parties, both here in this province and elsewhere throughout Canada, demonstrate no evidence that either of them offer any positive alternative but rather demonstrate that either a Tory Government, an NDP Government or a PC-NDP coalition would be disastrous for Nova Scotia.]

[Page 3683]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

GOVT. (N.S.) - ALTERNATIVE: OPPOSITION PARTIES - DISASTROUS

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: In attempting to examine the question of the alternatives supposedly presented to this government by the PCs, NDPs and the vaunted PC-NDP coalition, it might be tempting, perhaps, to examine the record of Mike Harris in Ontario, on which I could say a great deal, or that of Ralph Klein in Alberta. It might be tempting, perhaps, to examine the record of the NDP Government in British Columbia of Glen Clark and its long-time trust fund known as the Nanaimo Commonwealth Holding Society. It might be tempting, perhaps, to examine the record of Bob Rae's Government in Ontario, a government which I am told accumulated a deficit of $45 billion, the accumulated deficit accumulated by Bob Rae during the Rae years in Ontario. It might be interesting to examine that in some depth or perhaps to examine the economic advice obtained by Premier Rae of Ontario when the deficit began to trouble him and the rating agencies and the bankers were calling at his door and he sought some economic advice from his principal economic adviser, one Bob White, President of the Canadian Labour Congress and he asked Mr. White to come and tell him what he should do. The advice that Bob While tendered was this, default, that was the advice that Bob White gave Bob Rae, default.

[6:00 p.m.]

This is the same Bob White that some would seek as federal Leader of the New Democratic Party when their current Leader strikes out. It might be tempting to look into that in some depth or it might even be tempting to look into the record of Donald Cameron here in Nova Scotia, or for that matter of Honest John Buchanan. However, I would suggest that there is no need to examine any of that in trying to demonstrate that neither of the Opposition Parties either jointly and severally or separately offer any alternative to this government because we only need to look at the way that they have been going on for the past couple of weeks and the past couple of days in these Chambers.

We have seen them serve up a program of obstruction and filibuster in an attempt to prevent the parliamentary system from working. That is the best that they have had to offer. Filibuster tactics, as I have pointed out earlier today, were developed in the United States Congress, particularly in the Senate by white supremacist members from the United States South who sought to prevent the passage of civil rights legislation in the 1950's and the 1960's. They knew that such measures had majority support in the Senate and would pass, if allowed to come to a vote. Because those segregationists did not want to see that

[Page 3684]

legislation pass, they did everything they possible could to prevent the vote from being taken, filibustering being named after a United States Southern Senator, Senator Filibuster.

They would read from books and they would recite poetry and they would go on and on. The longest filibuster on record in the United States Senate was 26 hours, when the Senator from the State of Mississippi read from the Bible and recited poetry and read school text books and babbled on and on until sheer physical exhaustion overcame him, in an attempt to prevent a measure from going through that would have allowed millions of people to gain the right to vote. That is the history of filibuster. That is where that comes from and that is where those tactics come from.

It is foreign to British and Canadian practice. I have been in London and I have seen the British House of Commons with 630 members. If each of those 630 members was allowed to rant for one hour a piece on any measure that came before the House, let alone presenting three amendments that they could rant for one hour each on, as well, the British House of Commons would not be able to pass any legislation at all.

I have been up to Queens Park in Toronto. It is a big House, much bigger than here, 130 members. If each of those 130 members could rant and rage for one hour on every measure that came before the Ontario House, let alone present three amendments and rant on each of those for an additional three hours, the Ontario House would be hamstrung, you could not pass anything at all.

This is why all other Legislators in Canada, except our own and that in Prince Edward Island have limitations on debate written into their rules whereby speeches are restricted to 20 minutes usually, most provinces 20 minutes.

There are also time allocations. For example, in the House of Commons or in the British House or in Ottawa or in Quebec City or in Victoria, British Columbia, when a bill is presented there is also a time allocation imposed, if necessary, that second reading of Bill No. 42 will be restricted to five hours after which the vote will be taken. The Opposition Parties get to divide up the five hours and if a member wants to speak he tries to get his name on the Speaker's List, or she, and they might be given 20 minutes or 10 minutes or 5 minutes to speak to the bill, if they have a point they want to make, but then the vote is taken.

This is important in my view because to do otherwise is anti-democratic. The authors of the Filibuster Strategy in the United States Senate sought to prevent democracy from taking place. That was why they did what they did, they didn't want a vote to be held. They were like people who go out and try to prevent elections from being held because they did not want democracy to be exercised, democracy, of course, being majority rule not the tail wagging the dog, not three people telling 51 or 52 what to do, but the majority ruling.

[Page 3685]

Now we know that there are some that are against majority rule. For example, the former regime in South Africa was very much against a majority rule, it openly said so. I suggest we don't need to look that far to find some that are against majority rule and notwithstanding the results of elections, the people having spoken, they still will not respect that. They will not allow the government to govern, that is not democracy.

I am sure that the New Democratic Party with its very elaborate platform believes and its supporters believe that if the NDP won an election and elected the majority of the members of this House, they would then be able to implement their program. They would be able to bring their laws before the House, have them put to a vote and passed, if the majority of members supported that.

If there were three members of the Rhinoceros Party sitting down in the corner that prevented that from happening, they and all their supporters would be outraged, they would say this is intolerable, this isn't democracy. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander and if it is not democracy in the scenario that I just outlined, it is not democracy here. When small groups are able to prevent the majority from having their proper rights, when small groups are able to prevent legislation from coming to a vote, that certainly is not a better alternative than what this government is trying to do.

Madam Speaker, I recently picked up a very interesting book containing a subtitle, Reasons for Optimism, I am sure that is something the Opposition would be completely against but on a future date perhaps we will have an opportunity to outline some of the positive achievements of this government in comparison with the disgraceful record of the Opposition that I have just outlined. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: If there are no further speakers on this debate, the House will stand adjourned until 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Thank you.

[The House rose at 6:08 p.m.]