Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Mon., Nov. 25, 1996

Fourth Session

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS 2299
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Commun. Serv. - Small Options Home: Regulations - Absence,
Ms. E. O'Connell 2300
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
International Day to End Violence Against Women, The Premier 2300
One Minute of Silence Observed 2301
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 788, Women: Violence Against - End, Hon. E. Norrie 2303
Vote - Affirmative 2304
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 789, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Tenants -
Costs Additional Admit, Dr. J. Hamm 2304
Res. 790, Women - Violence Against: Elimination -
Purple Ribbon Campaign Endorse, Ms. E. O'Connell 2305
Vote - Affirmative 2305
Res. 791, Scouting - Jack Cornwall Award: Jeffrey Balesdent (Trenton) -
Congrats., Dr. J. Hamm 2305
Vote - Affirmative 2306
Res. 792, Women - Violence Against: Eradicate -
Purple Ribbon Campaign Support, Mrs. L. O'Connor 2306
Vote - Affirmative 2306
Res. 793, Fin. - Taxation: Commitment "No New Taxes" - Fulfil,
Mr. R. Russell 2307
Res. 794, Sports - Football (Bantam-N.S. Champs.):
Port Hawkesbury Hurricanes - Congrats., Mr. R. White 2307
Vote - Affirmative 2308
Res. 795, Miss Caribbean Queen International World Pageant -
Jody Cook (Middle Stewiacke): Winner - Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 2308
Vote - Affirmative 2309
Res. 796, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Effect -
Official Opposition Leader Enlightenment Congrats.,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2309
Res. 797, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Effect Claims -
Evidence Produce, Mr. G. Moody 2309
Res. 798, Justice - Min.: N.S. Assoc. of Police Bds. Meeting -
Absence Excuse Apologize, Mr. T. Donahoe 2310
Res. 799, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - PST & GST Harmonization:
Costs Increase - Shopping Tips Issue, Mr. R. Russell 2310
Res. 800, ERA - C.B.: Policies - Bury, Mr. J. Holm 2311
Res. 801, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Highway No. 101:
Mt. Uniacke-Windsor Twinning - Begin, Mr. G. Archibald 2312
Res. 802, Educ. - Chester Area Middle School Cuts:
Chester St. Margaret's MLA - Info. Provide, Mr. T. Donahoe 2312
Res. 803, Sports - Softball: Umpire of the Year (Can.) -
Ivan Mader (Lr. Sackville) Congrats., Mr. William MacDonald 2313
Vote - Affirmative 2313
Res. 804, Justice - Abuse: Survivors ADR Process - Offer Honour,
Mr. G. Archibald 2313
Res. 805, Sports Nova Scotia: Anniv. (Silver) - Congrats.,
Mr. D. McInnes 2314
Vote - Affirmative 2314
Res. 806, Commun. Serv. - Small Option Homes: Regs. - Introduce,
Ms. E. O'Connell 2315
Res. 807, Aboriginal Affairs: Royal Comm'n. Report (Can.) - Endorse,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2315
Res. 808, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Hfx. Metro Amalgamation:
Methodology - Avoid, Mr. J. Holm 2316
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Oppose, Dr. J. Hamm 2317
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 28, Motor Vehicle Act 2317
Mr. B. Taylor 2317
Mr. J. Holm 2327
Mr. R. Russell 2339
Mr. D. McInnes 2343
Ms. E. O'Connell 2345
Mr. G. Archibald 2346
Mr. G. Moody 2357
Mr. T. Donahoe 2363
Mr. B. Holland 2371
Mr. R. Chisholm 2372
Mr. A. MacLeod 2376
Hon. D. Downe 2378
Vote - Affirmative 2382
HOUSE RESOVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 9:13 P.M. 2382
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 9:57 P.M. 2382
CWH REPORTS^ 2382
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Nov. 26th at 12:00 p.m. 2383
CORRIGENDA
Fri., Nov. 22, 1996
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 770 [Page 2251 & Table of Contents Page 1] and
Res. 782 [Page 2259 & Table of Contents Page 2]
were introduced by MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL.

[Page 2299]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

4:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Before we begin with today's proceedings, are there any introductions?

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

DR. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you and through you to the House and all honourable members, a very good friend and colleague who is visiting Nova Scotia for the first time and looking at collaborative programs. I want to welcome to this place and, again, to introduce to you, Dr. Fran Geigle-Bentz who is the Associate Dean of Health Sciences and Rehabilitation of the University of Pittsburgh and I urge the House to accord her a warm Nova Scotian welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We will now commence the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

2299

[Page 2300]

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to table here in the House of Assembly a petition brought to me by the family of the late Eddie Shepard who died tragically in a small options home in March of this year. With your permission, I will read the operative clause which states, "With the tragic death of Warren Edward Shepard, Jr., we the undersigned express our strong concern with the lack of regulations governing small options homes, and the bureaucratic inertia on behalf of the Nova Scotia Government, toward drafting regulations.".

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my name to the top of these petitions, I support their spirit and I duly table them in this place.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I rise to address this House on a matter of grave concern, domestic violence, specifically violence against women. As all members are aware, today is the International Day to End Violence Against Women and marks a period of a 16 day international campaign to strengthen the movement for women's rights. This period culminates on December 6th, the anniversary of the infamous Montreal massacre which is commemorated as Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

Mr. Speaker, in 1995, this government took a step towards the prevention of violence against women and their families with the introduction of the Framework for Action Against Family Violence. I am pleased to acknowledge that the members opposite have joined the government in this objective by encouraging and supporting our efforts.

While government will continue to do all it can, Mr. Speaker, the battle cannot be won without the cooperation of society as a whole. We must make ourselves aware of the safety and the security of the women around us and speak out when necessary. Our mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and friends deserve to live their lives without fear for their personal safety and the safety of their children. Too many continue to fall victim to those irrational acts in those in whom they should be able to trust.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, and with the permission of the House, I would suggest that we rise for a moment of silence in memory of the many victims of senseless violence.

[Page 2301]

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, violence against women is a horrible and senseless act perpetrated by cowards. While the Montreal massacre brought home the horrible reality of violence against women, the fact of the matter is, violence against women takes place in homes across the province on a daily basis. The Premier is very right when he says that ending violence against women is not something government can do on its own. Collectively, we all have a responsibility to do what we can, as caring individuals in a civilized society, to bring violence against women and, indeed, all violence to an end.

Government can and must demonstrate the leadership and the political will to make it a reality. Government must take a tough stand against individuals who commit these horrible crimes and it must show compassion to the victims of these hideous acts of brutality be it physical, emotional or verbal brutality.

The Premier must, as he stands in his place today, commit to adequate funding for transition houses and other community agents that support the victims of abuse and violence and counsel the abusers. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me say that my caucus, our Party also very much supports the statement by the Premier today announcing the International Day to End Violence Against Women.

Mr. Speaker, let me say that the Framework for Action Against Family Violence, which was announced in 1995, was something that this Party fully supported and still does support. It was and still is a fairly exhaustive and thorough strategy for how to deal with family violence. But it is a framework that does require action, it requires resources and it requires an unfaltering commitment by government in order to ensure that all facets of that framework are put into place; not only education, things like sensitivity training, which is taking place at the current time but also questions of enforcement and questions of finding alternatives, finding safe refuges for women and children who are the subjects of violence.

I just want to note at this particular time while there have been some strides made with respect to components of this framework for action, there has been, I think, a lack of action or perhaps a stepping back in some ways. I mention in particular the fact that for the hundreds

[Page 2302]

of women and men that are out there trying to provide support and counselling for women and children who are being abused, who are facing violence in their daily lives, their ability to carry out this important support work is being affected by government decisions to reduce funding.

There are programs that deal with abusers, to try to deal with men who commit this abuse, those programs in some instances have been put in jeopardy, Mr. Speaker, and I think it is incumbent upon this Premier on a day like this when he indicates his and his government's support for the International Day to End Violence Against Women that he ensures that his government does not step back from providing those important supports, those important services to women and children who are actually in the face and in the midst of the violence that we are now talking about. If we do not halt that effort, that cutting back of those resources then it does make the words, unfortunately, even though I think the commitment is there, it makes them for those people that are on the front lines and for those people facing the violence, it makes it feel and seem very hollow. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege. I was surprised on Thursday to see media reports which were provided by the Premier that the actions of the Premier were as a result of responding to actions by the Leader of the Opposition. The point in question is that when the Premier was questioned about his use of the raspberry that he indicated that on two occasions in that session the Leader of the Opposition had used that particular form of disapproval directed at the Premier. I reported to the House on Friday, that while I cannot commit to the House that I have never used the raspberry, I certainly have never used it since I reached the age of maturity.

There are two people in the House who are absolutely certain that what the Premier reported to the press on Thursday evening is absolutely not true. I am one and the Premier is the other.

I ask the Premier to set the record straight.

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Last Friday the honourable Leader of the Opposition did raise this point of privilege. At that time I did rule on that point of privilege and that same ruling still applies today that Beauchesne, Page 13, Paragraph 31(3) indicates that, "Statements made outside the House by a Member may not be used as the basis for a question of privilege.". However, I will recognize the Premier if he wishes to say something.

The honourable Premier.

[Page 2303]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, despite the legal necessity I rise to my feet quite cheerfully. If I mistook the facial movements of the Leader of the Opposition as a so-called raspberry, then of course, Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, because I would not wish to interpret the Leader of the Opposition in any way shape or form. It would also be incorrect to say that I gave a full-blown raspberry. What I gave was a partial one because I did not lift my head, I did not direct it and therefore it is probably equivalent to many of the comments that are made by people on the other side of the House. Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, I would not wish to imply anything that the Leader of the Opposition has done since he acquired maturity.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 788

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

Whereas November 25th is the International Day to End Violence Against Women and marks the beginning of a period known as 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, an ongoing international campaign to strengthen the movement for women's human rights; and

Whereas in Nova Scotia, November 25th also marks the beginning of the annual purple ribbon campaign, culminating on December 6th when we will commemorate Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women; and

Whereas we recognize the gains which have been made including the United Nations' Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in 1993, the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women 1994, and the renewed call for an end to the violence agreed upon by nations participating in the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing; and

Whereas in spite of the progress that has been made we need only to look at our newspapers or watch a television newscast to see the unfortunate truth that violence against women has not yet been eliminated here in Nova Scotia or around the world;

Therefore be it resolved that all members support the movement to end violence against women through personal commitment, organizational support and community action and that we make our commitment known by wearing a purple ribbon.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 2304]

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 789

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

Whereas landlords in Nova Scotia will have little choice but to pass on a significant new cost to tenants as a result of the BST; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance actually believes a 3 per cent reduction in the landlord's personal income tax will offset the new costs associated with the BST being applied to, among other things, advertising and management fees, repairs and renovations, landscaping, garbage collection, home heating fuel and electricity, snow removal, cleaning and property tax; and

Whereas this is yet just another example of how preposterous this government's claims are respecting the new tax on Nova Scotia consumers;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance admit that the BST will mean additional new costs to Nova Scotia tenants and/or a deterioration in accommodations and that he further acknowledge that the BST will hit seniors, students, and low and middle income Nova Scotians the hardest.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

[Page 2305]

RESOLUTION NO. 790

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

Whereas November 25th marks the beginning of observances known as Ten Days of Activism Against Gender Violence; and

Whereas the wearing of a purple ribbon during this period of observance honours the memory of the 14 women who died at the École Polytechnique in Montreal on December 6, 1989; and

Whereas the purple ribbon raises awareness of the widespread incidence of violence against women in our society and recognizes all women who have died violently or continue to live with abuse;

Therefore be it resolved that this House endorse the aims of the purple ribbon campaign and recognize that much needs to be done to eliminate violence against women in our society.

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.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 791

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

Whereas Jeffrey Balesdent of Trenton was one of 20 Scouts Canada members from across the country to receive Canada's top Scouting award Monday in Ottawa from the Governor General; and

Whereas 16 year old Jeffrey was the recipient of the Jack Cornwall Award presented to a Scout who has undergone great suffering in a heroic manner; and

[Page 2306]

Whereas Jeffrey has a number of health problems;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Jeffrey Balesdent for his inspiring hard work on behalf of Scouting and his community.

I request 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.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 792

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 November 25 to December 10, 1996, is observed as 16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence; and

Whereas people in Nova Scotia are encouraged to buy and wear a purple ribbon for all the women who have died or who continue to suffer abuse as a result of violence; and

Whereas the purple ribbon campaign was originated by the Women's Action Coalition of Nova Scotia in 1990, the year after the Montreal massacre;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly encourage people in Nova Scotia to support the purple ribbon campaign as a sign of action to eradicate violence towards women.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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.

[Page 2307]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 793

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

Whereas the former Minister of Finance was quoted in the Chronicle-Herald on January 31, 1995 as saying, "We also have to accept the fact that we have, . . . reached a point of saturation in taxes, new taxes will simply spur the underground economy and encourage more and more people to avoid paying"; and

Whereas shortly thereafter, the then Minister of Finance began negotiations with Paul Martin to increase taxes on basic necessities such as gasoline, home heating oil and electricity with absolutely no regard for the Nova Scotia taxpayer; and

Whereas effective April 1, 1997, Nova Scotia consumers will be forced to fork over additional tens of millions of dollars in taxes;

Therefore be it resolved that the former Minister of Finance and all members of the Liberal Government live up to their commitment of 1993 of no new taxes and again in 1995 by reconsidering their plan to gouge the living daylights out of Nova Scotians by extracting additional millions in taxes out of their pockets.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 794

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

Whereas the 1996 Nova Scotia Bantam Football Championships were held on Sunday at Saint Mary's University in Halifax; and

Whereas the Port Hawkesbury Hurricanes carried out a resounding 10-6 victory over last year's bantam champions, the Bedford Blue Devils; and

[Page 2308]

Whereas the coach and members of the Port Hawkesbury Hurricanes are to be commended for their tremendous team effort and spirit displayed throughout the championship game;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the coach, players and supporters of the Port Hawkesbury Hurricanes for their victory in winning the 1996 Nova Scotia Bantam Football Championships.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 795

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

Whereas 20 year old Jody Cook of Middle Stewiacke put the Province of Nova Scotia on the world map Saturday evening by winning the Miss Caribbean Queen International World Pageant; and

Whereas the defending Miss Nova Scotia and Miss Canadian International competed against more than 20 women from across the world in winning the World Pageant; and

Whereas Ms. Cook's success marked the first time in 27 years that a Canadian has won an international title at this event;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature commend Ms. Cook for her dedicated effort in putting Nova Scotia in the international spotlight this past weekend.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

[Page 2309]

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. 796

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

Whereas it has been apparent to most Nova Scotians from the day it first reared its ugly head that the BS Tax is an unfair and regressive rip-off of ordinary Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the New Democratic Party has opposed the tax from the beginning and has made a clear commitment to scrap the tax if given the chance; and

Whereas after some flirtation with harmonization, the Official Opposition now seems to be supporting the NDP's commitment to scrap the tax;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Leader of the Opposition for seeing the light, and urge government members to approach the BST deal with the same open-mindedness and sign the NDP's petition against this bad tax.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 797

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

Whereas the Minister of Health recently released a study that he claims proves his government's health reforms are working; and

Whereas Dr. David Petrie, a well-known and well-respected orthopaedic surgeon, said the methodology used by the Department of Health in assessing waiting times was designed to make a political statement and not to give an accurate picture of the facts; and

Whereas despite a promise of openness and accountability, this government continues to make a practice of presenting misleading information to Nova Scotians in the hopes of deceiving them into believing sheer nonsense;

[Page 2310]

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government start producing credible evidence to support its claims, and stop making outrageous and preposterous statements on everything from surgical waiting times, to the impact the BST will have on consumers, to the impact its cuts have had on Nova Scotia's schools.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 798

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 Minister of Justice told the Nova Scotia Association of Police Boards he could not attend their meeting on Friday, November 22, 1996, because the Leader of the Opposition insisted the Law Amendments Committee meet at that time, and as Chair he had no choice but to concede to the Leader of the Opposition's demands; and

Whereas this was an out and outright fabrication; and

Whereas the Minister of Justice's cowardly and deceptive excuse for not attending the Police Boards' Association meeting is a clear indication of how low this Liberal Government will stoop to avoid being accountable;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice immediately write to the executive of the Nova Scotia Police Boards' Association and apologize for fabricating an excuse that blamed the Leader of the Opposition, and that he refrain from such underhanded practices in future.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 799

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

Whereas the Minister of Business and Consumer Services today cautioned Nova Scotian consumers "to avoid the trap of paying Christmas bills in April"; and

[Page 2311]

Whereas this is a laudable goal since, come April, Nova Scotian consumers will be paying $84 million in additional consumer taxes; and

Whereas the minister's news release concludes with a tip to consumers to start their shopping "on Boxing Day, well in advance of the next holiday season!";

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Business and Consumer Services issue shopping tips on how to save on the higher BST costs on rent, electricity, home heating fuel, gas prices, children's clothing and many other items.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[4:30 p.m.]

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 800

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

Whereas employment in Cape Breton has plunged from 57,000 jobs in October 1995 to 52,000 in October 1996; and

Whereas the Savage-Dingwall response is to agree quietly to the economically devastating downsizing of Devco while investing heavily in boardwalk construction; and

Whereas while welcome, new boardwalks in Sydney, Glace Bay, North Sydney and Westmount are a poor substitute for real economic development such as would be available through the development of the Donkin mine;

Therefore be it resolved that this government bury its present economic policies under the boardwalk and come forward with a real plan for dealing with the desperate employment crisis in Cape Breton.

[Page 2312]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 801

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

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

MR. ARCHIBALD: Whereas 13,600 vehicles travel the stretch of Highway No. 101 between Mount Uniacke and Windsor on a daily basis; and

Whereas this is the highest daily traffic count for a single lane 100-Series Highway in the province and has been the scene of multiple incidents of highway accidents; and

Whereas the Liberal Government is refusing to twin this section of Highway No. 101;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works immediately prioritize 100-Series Highway projects in this province and begin the necessary work to twin Highway No. 101 between Mount Uniacke and Windsor.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 802

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

Whereas concerned parents from the Municipality of Chester recently expressed bewilderment and displeasure with answers given by the member for Chester-St. Margaret's to education-budget-related questions they had asked him two months earlier; and

Whereas the questions included such pertinent issues as to how much money is the amalgamated school board saving and where is the money going in Lunenburg County; and

Whereas the parents dismissed reports that savings were being put back into the classroom because the Chester Area Middle School is already minus one teacher and one teacher's assistant this school year, while another student with a disorder at the school is receiving less help than he did a year ago;

[Page 2313]

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Chester-St. Margaret's not force parents to wait two months for answers and that he provide them with accurate, supportable information rather than tired old Liberal and misleading claims.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.

RESOLUTION NO. 803

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

Whereas Ivan Mader of Lower Sackville, Softball Nova Scotia's umpire-in-chief, has been named Softball Canada's Umpire of the Year; and

Whereas this award was presented to Ivan at a ceremony in Toronto earlier this month, recognizing his leadership as one of 7,200 registered umpires in Canada; and

Whereas Mr. Mader was also named the top umpire in Nova Scotia at the Sport Nova Scotia awards banquet in May;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their congratulations and best wishes to Mr. Mader for his outstanding accomplishment, and wish him every success as he continues to call balls and strikes on the softball diamonds of Nova Scotia.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 804

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

[Page 2314]

Whereas the Minister of Justice suspended the alternative dispute resolution process, which his predecessor agreed upon in June, with the survivors of physical, emotional and sexual abuse at provincial facilities for children; and

Whereas the Minister of Justice refuses to honour his government's written pledge to the agreed upon alternative dispute resolution process; and

Whereas the Minister of Justice cites fraudulent claims as the excuse to suspend the process, despite evidence that such a number is between 1 per cent to 3 per cent;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice honour the offers made by the government to survivors of abuse.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 805

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

Whereas Sport Nova Scotia celebrated its 25th Anniversary (November 22nd) with a dinner at the Westin Hotel; and

Whereas amateur sport in Nova Scotia has prospered as a direct result of Sport Nova Scotia's involvement; and

Whereas Sport Nova Scotia contributes to a long tradition of excellence and sporting achievement in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House send its congratulations to Sport Nova Scotia on its Silver Anniversary.

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.

[Page 2315]

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 806

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 this government has known for years of the need for clear guidelines and regulations to supervise small options homes; and

Whereas last April following a tragic death in one small options home the Minister of Community Services promised action within months; and

Whereas today we are still waiting for those guidelines and regulations;

Therefore be it resolved that this government show some concern for the safety and well-being of residents and workers in small options homes and immediately bring forward its promised regulations.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 807

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 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Affairs has provided all governments in Canada with a detailed blueprint for a more just, fair and prosperous future for native people; and

Whereas future generations of Canadians will pay a heavy price if the report's recommendations are nickled-and-dimed to death by politicians concerned only with next year's bottom line; and

Whereas there is a clear need for leadership from the Prime Minister and the Premiers to guarantee that the work of the Royal Commission forms the basis of new initiatives on aboriginal affairs;

Therefore be it resolved that this House endorse the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Affairs and urge the Premier to show leadership to ensure justice for aboriginal people in Nova Scotia.

[Page 2316]

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

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 808

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

Whereas throughout our history the people of Nova Scotia have taken pride in our positive achievements that have set an example for other Canadians; and

Whereas this government has sullied Nova Scotia's reputation as the birthplace of responsible government by imposing amalgamation on Metro Halifax against the wishes of the majority of its citizens; and

Whereas Professor Andrew Sancton of the University of Western Ontario said this past weekend that the Liberals' amalgamation of Metro has been such a disaster that it may deter other Canadian cities from going the amalgamation route;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemns the Savage Government for stumbling in the footsteps of Joseph Howe and Sir Charles Tupper by setting for Canadians an example of something to be avoided at all costs.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 2317]

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition containing the names of some 220 individuals who are adamantly opposed to the imposition of the BST. The petition was circulated in the general area of Whites Lake-Prospect in the constituency of Timberlea-Prospect.

This is one of many petitions I expect will be tabled in this House during this sitting calling on the government to abandon its plans to impose this new tax on consumers. I was pleased to add my name to the petition.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 28.

Bill No. 28 - Motor Vehicle Act.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act, Bill No. 28, were introduced by the previous Minister of Transportation and Public Works back in the last session, the spring session. The bill essentially has four points. It will provide for an increase in the speed limit on our twinned highways, from 100 kilometres to 110 kilometres. As well, the amendments will provide for certification of motor vehicle inspectors. By the way, inspectors will continue to be appointed by the Motor Vehicle Act but the amendments will establish a penalty for vehicle owners or operators for failing to cooperate with an inspector while carrying out his or her duties.

It also provides for authority to enforce by-laws or regulations pertaining to specific local roads. This would include enforcement of local trucking only requirements, such as currently exist on the Hammonds Plains Road - of course, the Hammonds Plains Road is in the Halifax Regional Municipality - and our plan for the existing Highway No. 104 through the Wentworth Valley when the western alignment has been completed.

[Page 2318]

Inspectors are responsible for enforcing weight restrictions on highways across the province, as well as for ensuring compliance with the National Safety Code. The National Safety Code is for truckers. Mr. Speaker, there are a number of commercial vehicles on our highway and the enforcement is certainly very important to the people from that profession.

Finally, the changes provide statutory support for a mandatory alcohol rehabilitation program which, again, was introduced last year. The amendments allow the registrar to require a driver whose license has been suspended for the first time to take an alcohol rehabilitation program before the license will be reinstated. Of course, subsequent offences will lead to a mandatory interview with the drug dependency officer.

Mr. Speaker, I did make a few comments on Friday regarding this amendment to the Motor Vehicle Act. I think it is important that all Nova Scotians understand that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and, more specifically, the previous Minister of Transportation, did not bring these amendments forward to enable Nova Scotians to get from Point A to Point B more quickly. In fact, these amendments, particularly the amendment to change the speed from 100 kilometres to 110 kilometres, were brought in to accommodate and assist the consortium, the Western Alignment Corporation, who are building the No. 104 Highway. In fact, in some of the documentation that I have, the previous Minister of Transportation and Public Works outlines that one of the provisions that was negotiated in the omnibus agreement was that, in fact, the speed limit on our new highway, the Highway No. 104 western alignment, must have a 30 kilometre per hour differential from the existing highway that now runs up through the Wentworth Valley.

So inasmuch as this government would like for all Nova Scotians to believe that they are raising the speed limit because the highways, of all things, are designed to accommodate that speed, that is very devious, Mr. Speaker. Well, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is shaking his head. Just last week that Minister of Transportation went to Ottawa, cap in hand, and he went to see the federal Minister of Transport, Mr. David Anderson, and asked him for funds to help assist this province with upgrading and improving our existing infrastructure. So that should tell me and I think it would tell all Nova Scotians that the Minister of Transportation understands a very real need to improve our existing infrastructure. The new highway may be designed and may be capable of handling the 110 kilometres per hour, and I am not arguing that, and I do hope that the minister sometime perhaps during his closing remarks, before we go into Law Amendments, would enlighten this House and, of course, all Nova Scotians as to whether or not he plans on posting all twinned highways in this province.

[4:45 p.m.]

So scientific research and some traffic analysts confirm that a higher speed limit will always translate into more accidents, injuries, deaths and property damage. Now, arguably, increased carnage will happen on our highways, Mr. Speaker, statistics, scientific data tells

[Page 2319]

us that. We have information and I am sure the government has information. Well, again, the minister shakes his head and I have some information that I would gladly share with the Minister of Transportation relative to statistics from other jurisdictions. The loosening and relaxing of speed limits in the United States, for example, has drastically and harshly reversed the previous steady downward trend of vehicular casualties.

Now, Mr. Speaker, properly designed roads that are, however, ill-maintained and poorly looked after are two things to talk about. First of all, the minister is telling us that our highways are designed and capable of handling that speed. I don't think too many Nova Scotians have a lot of difficulty with the minister's point about the designation and that the highways are, in fact, designed to carry that speed, but the fact is that the highways in this province are poorly looked after, especially since the Savage Government came to office in May 1993.

AN HON. MEMBER: No money left.

MR. TAYLOR: No money left. There is no money left to look after the roads. (Interruption) They just said there is no money to look after the roads, Mr. Speaker, but yet we are going to raise the speed limit to 110 kilometres an hour. (Interruption) No, there is no money being spent on the roads, in fact the capital budget I think was cut nearly in half, the Transportation budget. Oh, they played a shell game, they shifted a little bit out of capital and put it into operational because they said it was more appropriate and then we have to go to the Business and Consumer Services file, so to speak, to find out where the motor vehicle receipts and, of course, the fuel tax money is going. So there was some number crunching, definitely, that took place.

Now, has the minister any studies to indicate as to whether or not the increased speeds will drive up speeds on other roads? Studies in other jurisdictions, Mr. Speaker, indicate that speeds on other roads that are not posted with the high speed of 110 kilometres an hour, the speed limit will increase on those roads. Did the Savage Government do a study, some type of analysis, did the Department of Transportation examine and evaluate whether or not the increase in speed was justified on other twinned highways?

This increase, Mr. Speaker, has to be looked at a little bit closer. For example, we understand that the Newcourt Credit Group will underwrite the toll revenue bonds for the private financing by the Highway No. 104 western alignment. Now Newcourt, as I understand it was very, very instrumental in negotiating the provision where the speed limit would increase to 110 kilometres. It was on a condition that the highway would be 30 kilometres per hour higher than the existing alternative.

The province tells us that they did traffic counts and projections and shared them with Newcourt, who have done their own investigations. The Official Opposition has tried to get a copy of the omnibus agreement and the other two contracts that this government has signed

[Page 2320]

with the Atlantic Highway Corporation. We applied through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act because we understand that the omnibus agreement will indicate and point out many, many provisions, including speed limits, rest areas and things of that nature for the new highway. We also are told that the establishment of a contingency fund of $4.25 million is to be available in certain limited circumstances.

The Department of Transportation and Public Works will carry out regular maintenance on the western alignment for an initial fee of $650,000 per year. That is to be paid out of toll revenue with the provision to increase that charge in the first five years and it is to be linked to inflation.

I do not know whether or not $650,000 per year will permit and afford the Western Alignment Corporation, through the Department of Transportation and Public Works, the ability to maintain the western alignment to accommodate this 110 kilometres per hour. The minister has to be very, very careful that he just doesn't go around and stick up 110 kilometre speed limits here, there and everywhere. If the roads are not maintained and I gather that my colleagues are hearing that the roads in some of their constituencies aren't maintained all that well, then we have got a serious problem, we are going to have a safety problem. We have to be very sure that before we go sticking up 110 kilometres per hour speed limits, that the road will safely handle that speed.

Back on May 15, 1996, the Daily News conducted a poll relative to whether or not speed kills. The hotliners warned, faster highways are deadly highways say callers to the Daily News Hotline; 44 of 66 callers said Nova Scotia's plan to increase speeds on its twinned 100-Series Highways fails inspection. I can table that document for the minister's benefit if he should want it.

At that time, Transportation Minister Richard Mann said, raising speeds to 110 kilometres per hour from 100 kilometres would simply acknowledge most drivers drive that speed anyway. So, if we all drive 110 kilometres we are going to stick the speed limit up to 110 kilometres. If we all drive 120 kilometres per hour are we again going to increase the speed limit? I should surely hope not and I don't think I should even suggest that but that is what the previous Minister of Transportation said. He also said it would make roads in Nova Scotia safer by drawing cars off the slower two lane highways. But the statistical scientific information we have is that in fact the reverse has happened in the United States.

Hotliners were not buying the minister's logic. Marvin Ryan in Cole Harbour said quote, "With roads as bad as they are . . ." any speed increase is not a good idea. I don't think the Nova Scotia public understand and I am not sure that the minister has made it clear as to whether or not we are going to post 110 kilometres per hour on all of our twinned highways or are we just going to do the western alignment. Was there any consultation? I don't believe there was any consultation because I know the Warden of Colchester County in concert with the Chamber of Commerce, the Mayor of Truro, the Truro and District Labour Council

[Page 2321]

requested that the previous Minister of Transportation and the Premier come up to their community and sit down at a public forum and discuss the merits and all of the elements encompassing Highway No. 104, the western alignment. Because of other commitments, I understand, they were unable to go. Likewise, up in the beautiful Town of Amherst, the Mayor of Amherst, the Warden of Cumberland and other municipal leaders, business interests, and individuals again invited the Minister of Transportation and the Premier to go up into their community and tell them all about Highway No. 104, the western alignment.

Some of these concerns like speed and rest areas and things like that could have been talked about but this government again did it their way, they said we will come in, we know what is good for Nova Scotia, we don't have to consult with you, we will put our speed limits up to 110 kilometres an hour. If you have any questions, go and ask the Opposition and maybe they will try to help you.

Now, Mr. Speaker, Halifax resident Edna Boudreau Pulsifer said she could not believe that Mr. Mann would be so inconsiderate as to cause a rise in highway fatalities. The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works told us that everybody is travelling at 110 kilometres or more an hour anyway, so we will go up to 110 kilometres. Mike Conrad of Queens County questioned the minister's reasoning. He said, if most of us were shoplifters, would they legalize that, too? That was the analogy he made, not me. I can table that document for the minister.

Mr. Speaker, I have a copy here also, and I do think it is very topical and relevant. I am not going to read from it. I have Bill No.10, which, in fact, is the Western Alignment Corporation legislation. Just one sentence - I know the minister has a copy of this - "For greater certainty, nothing in or done pursuant to this Act affects (a) the status of the Western Alignment as a highway for any purpose including, without limiting the generality . . . the application of the Motor Vehicle Act and the Public Highways Act; (b) the ownership of the Western Alignment;".

So inasmuch as that highway is going to be and is, in fact, a public/private partnership, the Motor Vehicle Act and, more specifically, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, I would suppose, will be setting the speed limit on that highway.

Now, I don't know how many kilometres of highways we have in this province that are twinned but I am wondering and I think a lot of people are wondering if, for example, the Truro-Halifax highway will be posted at 110 kilometres per hour.

I pointed out to the minister that scientific research and traffic analysts point out that higher speed limits will always translate into more accidents, injuries, deaths and property damage. I have a letter here, Mr. Speaker, and I can table this letter. It is from a traffic analyst. He states that it is very unfortunate that the Nova Scotia Government has decided to increase speed limits on expressways.

[Page 2322]

A few years ago the Dutch Government legalized speeds of up to 120 kilometres per hour in sections where 100 kilometres per hour had been the limit. The reason for the increase was that the average speed had slowly crept up to 107 kilometres per hour. So, like the previous Minister of Transportation and Public Works, the Minister of Transportation, I suppose, in the Netherlands decided that he would increase the speed limit, or at least that government would, up to 120 kilometres per hour. But after legalizing the speed limit, the average speed limit turned out to be 114 kilometres per hour and the death toll increased as well, by almost 5 per cent. Again, Mr. Speaker, I can table that document.

I guess it is time that we did dig out our lead feet and hold onto your hats because this government has decided to raise the speed limit to 110 kilometres.

AN HON. MEMBER: They want you to put your pedal to the metal.

MR. TAYLOR: They certainly do, Mr. Speaker.

I have some concerns that private business concerns are going to dictate government policy. That concerns me more than anything. I am not as concerned about the minister raising the speed limit to 110 kilometres per hour; what really concerns me is that private business made the dictation.

Now let's examine their motivation, let's take a look at what motivated the government and what motivated the private consortium to ask for a speed limit increase. Well, some people say John Chisholm wanted it. I kind of suspect that the $58 million the private consortium is sinking into the project is foremost on their minds. We have a private company that is making a considerable investment in the construction, financing and maintenance. We have a figure of $58 million and yet, as Nova Scotia taxpayers, we were told that we are putting in some $61 million. Again, those figures are subject to anybody's (Interruption) Yes.

[5:00 p.m.]

The minister tells us that the highways in this province are designed for 110 kilometres an hour, but the federal minister, Mr. Anderson, told the current Minister of Transportation, go back and talk to your Premier. Yes, your roads may be designed and you need some money to improve them, but maybe Premier Savage should instigate an infrastructure program where we are going to come in with some projects to improve the highways across this province.

I do not know if Premier Savage has talked to his Atlantic counterparts. I understand he has relative to the BST and we will not talk about the BST because we are talking about the speed limit increase here. I think a lot of opponents to the speed limit increase can bring out studies from other jurisdictions that link increased speed limits to more accidents and more fatalities. (Interruption) That is a very good point. Fuel consumption, yes.

[Page 2323]

Do you suppose that the Minister of Transportation had in the back of his mind - oh, that would be a little bit devious - but common sense should tell us that faster speeds really do mean decreased reaction time. (Interruption) The previous Minister of Transportation is telling us that his reflexes are a little bit quicker than anybody else's, but the average person understands and common sense is the art and science of reasoning correctly. I think we all could use a little common sense from time to time, but if we are going to decrease our reaction time, there will be a greater risk for accidents.

I do not doubt it for one minute that Nova Scotians support a speed limit increase, that is not what I am arguing, but as legislators and as MLAs we have to be responsible and we have to be accountable. I have to ask the present Minister of Transportation if he feels that it is responsible to raise speed limits on our twinned highways when they are not really capable of handling the 110 kilometres per hour. The Minister knows that a speed limit of 110 kilometres per hour is possibly used by many of our motorists travelling up and down our highways, but what concerns me is that the speed limit of 110 kilometres per hour may be too fast for some of our highways. Some of our highways, the twinned as well, just simply are not constructed and they are not maintained to accompany a speed that drastic.

The United States has some attitudes towards speed limits and I have a detailed list here which I was fortunate enough to be able to pull in off the Internet. Time would not permit me, of course, to read into the record what all the states - Arizona, Arkansas, California and so on - would have to say about speed limit increases, but they all have found that increasing the speed limit increased the number of accidents, so inasmuch as the previous Minister of Transportation rushed out to accommodate the Atlantic Highway Corporation, I don't think that he fully understood what the implications of his accommodation was going to create. I don't think he fully understands that.

Now, municipal leaders have told me, Mr. Speaker, that they would have loved to have had an opportunity to talk to the government about proposed speed limits on Highway No. 104 western alignment. Business interests have said that they would have liked to have gone out and talked to the Minister of Transportation, more especially the Minister of Transportation, but the Minister of Transportation was very, very busy when the municipal leaders phoned him up and asked him or mailed letters to him and requested that he meet with them, he was very, very busy and just could not find his way to Amherst or Truro on numerous occasions.

Now, business interests, and I think particularly of the Debert Industrial Park, business leaders and business interests more so in the Debert area are wondering about fuel consumption. The trucking industry is very concerned about fuel consumption. Now, I understand there is going to be no enforcement agency, no inspector is going to drive along behind a transport and haul him over if he is going 90 kilometres per hour, I understand that. But there will be some that certainly will, many in the trucking industry will take advantage of the 110 kilometre per hour speed limit. (Interruption)

[Page 2324]

The Third Party there wonders how many of those trucks are safe. I can tell the former Leader of the Third Party, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, that most of the trucks on the highway, I think, are quite safe and are involved in a very, very small percentage of accidents. But you know, this government, there might be just a method to their madness. They recently came in with a bicycle helmet law and in principle I support that legislation and in principle I support this legislation here, in principle, but I do have some concerns relative to safety. But I dare say that with a speed limit of 110 kilometres per hour, those cyclists had better hang on to their hats, Mr. Speaker, because the information we have is that speed does kill. While we have responsible drivers, there may be a good number that just aren't all that responsible.

I think it is important that we ask ourselves and I think Nova Scotians are asking themselves now, did the government really cloud and did they kind of obscure their intentions a little bit, just a little bit now, Mr. Speaker, when they brought the speed limit increase into this Legislature? A lot of the government members are, perhaps, unaware that we haven't been told yet whether or not all of the highways that are twinned will, in fact, be posted with this 110 kilometres speed limit. So that is a grave concern that I have.

Mr. Speaker, there are other amendments. The amendment actually has four points. The amendment will provide for certification of motor vehicle inspectors and inspectors will continue to be appointed under the Motor Vehicle Act but the amendments will establish a penalty for vehicle owners or operators for failing to cooperate with an inspector carrying out his duties. I think everybody should cooperate with an inspector while he or she is carrying out their duties because they have been appointed by the Motor Vehicle Act and they have a job to do. For the most part, the motor vehicle inspectors are very safety conscious. I have no difficulty with that amendment and that part of these amendments.

Another amendment will reinforce the inspector's authority to enforce by-laws by regulations specific to local roads. Most of us in our constituency, somewhere, have a road that is designated for local traffic only. I know from time to time the odd commercial vehicle will try to slide through but we should bear in mind that the existing Highway No. 104 through the Wentworth Valley, at least when the western alignment has been completed, will be prohibited to commercial traffic.

Now, in other jurisdictions and in fact anywhere there is a toll road, Mr. Speaker, there is an alternative route for commercial vehicles; there is an alternative route for passenger vehicles, of course, but there is always an alternative route for commercial vehicles. But here in Nova Scotia we are going to be the first ones not only to toll our road, we are going to be the first ones to force commercial vehicles onto the 110 kilometre per hour highway. So, I don't know whether that is a record that we should be proud of or one that we should be ashamed of, but it is really going to compromise one's ability to choose and as I pointed out, in other jurisdictions you do have that option of choosing between an existing highway that is not tolled or else you can run down the turnpike which most likely is tolled.

[Page 2325]

The motor vehicle inspectors, Mr. Speaker, are responsible for enforcing weight restrictions on highways across the province. I don't know if anybody in this Legislature - perhaps there are others - has had an opportunity to try to get up on those little scales that are not really legal for trade but they are quite difficult to negotiate and does this mean that we are going to have additional mobile motor vehicle inspectors or are we going to operate with the same number? If the minister is going to have additional motor vehicle inspectors running up and down the old existing Highway No. 104 through the Wentworth Valley, it is certainly going to ensure that the trucking industry travels the toll road, so I think the reason this amendment is in here is to force the trucker, take away the option altogether. We know they have done that through the legislation, but now they are going to force them to travel up and down the toll road.

Inspectors are also responsible for ensuring that the National Safety Code for Truckers is adhered to. Now, Mr. Speaker, I don't know how many MLAs have a copy of the National Safety Code for Truckers, but it is quite a document and it outlines the roles and responsibilities of truckers. For example, in Canada, I think, unless there has been a recent change, you can only drive 13 hours per day and you cannot drive for any more than four hours in succession. So, I understand that some motor vehicle inspectors, under the previous Minister of Transportation's time, were laid off and in fact had their jobs terminated, so I have to question whether or not this government can effectively enforce the National Safety Code if they are going to keep on terminating the jobs of motor vehicle inspectors. It is certainly another area that we have reason to be concerned about.

The changes that will provide for statutory support for the mandatory alcohol rehabilitation program, I understand that it will permit the registrar to require a driver whose license has been suspended for the first time to take that test, and an individual cannot have their license reinstated unless they take this mandatory alcohol rehabilitation program. Subsequent offences will lead, of course, to a mandatory review with a Drug Dependency officer prior to reinstatement. Reinstatement will be approved only on application to and with the approval of the registrar. Now, I know there are others and, most likely, people in the legal profession who will have some comments and concerns about the mandatory interview with a Drug Dependency officer prior to reinstatement and some of the jurisdiction that has been conferred upon the registrar, I think the previous minister in this government did experience some cases relative to that concern.

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I do want to say in closing that I had an opportunity to go to some constituents in my riding, at town-hall type meetings, and we discussed this issue of raising the speed limit to 110 kilometres per hour. By and large the constituents were in favour of the speed limit increase to 110 kilometres per hour. They did caution the government, and I will caution the government and this minister to be very careful and certain that he not run

[Page 2326]

around and stick up 110 kilometre per hour speed limits on our twinned highways (Interruptions)

Well, Mr. Speaker, I think it is important that we are all given an opportunity from time to time to represent our constituents and this speed limit increase, the Leader of the Opposition, for example, has told all members of this caucus that we have the freedom to vote with our conscience and on behalf of our constituents. Now, I think it is always important that if one is going to err that they do err on the side of caution but, nonetheless, I had a number of town hall meetings, not specifically on this issue but this issue did come up. I met with people in Lower Truro, I met with people in Hilden, I talked to people in Stewiacke during a dinner about this topic (Interruption) A fund-raising dinner, yes. In Middle Musquodoboit we discussed it and in the beautiful little village of West St. Andrew's, on the Coldstream Road - and I know my colleague, the member for Hants East, knows where that little hall is - and the majority of those people at the meetings, quite frankly, were in support of the 110 kilometre per hour speed limit. Many commented, the same as the Minister of Transportation has outlined in his memorandum (Interruptions)

Well, no, I am not making my mind up. I have to reflect the view of my constituents. It is too bad that more members on the government side didn't reflect the view . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: I am going to vote for the bill.

MR. TAYLOR: You are going to reflect their views, good. That is very nice and I would like to see the government members do that more often - vote on behalf of their constituents. I won't say on behalf of their conscience because sometimes, Mr. Speaker, our conscience may tell us one thing and our constituents may tell us another.

I remember the present Minister of Transportation, when he was the Minister of Natural Resources, he was doing something, I believe, that was quite appropriate; he was canvassing the Nova Scotia public relative to a bear hunt. Now, I know that a bear cannot travel down the highway at 110 kilometres per hour, but the point I am making is we are talking about voting on behalf of our constituents and doing something responsible. The minister had at that time data, information from biologists and, Mr. Speaker, we won't get into that topic at all, because I am getting off the topic.

AN HON. MEMBER: Just the bear facts.

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, I want to stay relevant and talk about the bear facts. But the bear facts at that time indicated that a bear hunt was certainly a necessity but, nonetheless, I can understand the dilemma that the minister was in at that time.

[Page 2327]

I believe that the Nova Scotia public does not have a great deal of difficulty with this government bringing in the 110 kilometre per hour speed limit, but the fact is that we have to be very careful that what we are doing here is really prudent. As far as I am concerned, if the minister runs out and sticks up 110 kilometre per hour signs all over this province - well, at least on our twinned highways - then we have some difficulty. I think he should wait and see what this infrastructure program is going to bring.

The Premier of New Brunswick, I know, is working very hard - I understand, at least, that he is or so the media reports tell us he is - in also trying to obtain funds to improve the highway system in his province but the Minister of Transportation for this province came away empty-handed. He was told to go and talk to his Premier and ask him to get busy, talk to his Atlantic counterparts and try to come up with a program whereby funds can be spent on our highways. Then if we bring our highways up to standard, probably 110 kilometres per hour would be justified.

I am hoping that the minister will certainly monitor this new increase in speed limit very closely and if accidents rise dramatically - and I don't believe that they are going to rise dramatically but in other jurisdictions we have found that they have risen between 5 per cent and 7 per cent - so, if that happens here in Nova Scotia, I surely hope that the Minister of Transportation will bring in the appropriate people and take action to curtail the increase in accidents. I am not sure if he is prepared to do that or not.

A number of members in the House have asked me whether or not I will be voting in favour of this amendment. As a matter of fact, I am not just sure when the vote is going to be taken. We know there are a number of people who will have something to say on the second reading of Bill No. 28 but some people tell us that we shouldn't expect a great shift in Nova Scotian driving habits with the increase in the speed limit. We have to be very, very careful and I can't impress upon the minister enough how careful we have to be that we don't overdo it with these 110 kilometre per hour signs.

The previous Minister of Transportation brought in the legislation, again I suggest, to placate the Western Alignment Corporation, nobody disputes that, nobody will even argue that so that, in itself, speaks volumes about this legislation. Just by way of closing comments, (Interruption) I intend on voting on behalf of my constituents. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am still not sure what the member said when he sat down as to his position but I want to let the Minister of Transportation and Public Works know that I am going to be in my remarks tonight speaking very clearly in support of the bill and I am also going to be speaking against the bill. (Interruption) I will be following the caucus discipline as enforced by the Whip, who happens to be myself, so maybe the minister will hang on and see where my comments lead me.

[Page 2328]

The reason why I say that is because when I take a look at the bill that is before us, it is really like a Jekyll and Hyde bill. There are good parts to it and then there is the other side. I want to talk about a couple of what I think are the positive aspects but one of the difficulties when you have legislation like this sometimes, which is amending another bill, when you are putting a number of clauses in, there are parts of the bill that can be very supportable and then there are other parts of the bill that are not supportable.

My hope would be that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, I don't blame him for this legislation because of course it was introduced before the current minister assumed this portfolio, it was introduced by his predecessor in that portfolio so I am not going to blame him for parts of it. I will give him credit if he wants for the good parts and he can slough the blame off for the bad parts to his predecessor. Hopefully, the minister will announce in his closing remarks that he is intending, either in the Law Amendments Committee process or in the Committee of the Whole House stage, to delete certain clauses of the bill that we are dealing with.

The first part that I want to touch on, and I say in all sincerity that I am very much in support of, Clause 2, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, under that bill, may require a person whose license has been suspended - and under a section of the bill which deals with impaired driving - to participate in an alcohol rehabilitation program before that license is reinstated.

Certainly we are heading into the festive season, a time when, unfortunately, in the past it has been noted for impaired drivers on the road. Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a time when we want to be thinking about it and it is certainly a time when we will be hearing advertisements, I know on the radios and on the televisions telling us that there will be increased patrols, breathalyzer units out on the road to encourage people not to drink and drive.

I know I have been stopped on a number of occasions, going out in the evening, by the RCMP or by the city police who are set up and really just alerting people, warning them that they are out there and advising them not to drink and drive during the holiday season, sort of like a proactive, pre-emptive strike, in terms of educating and cautioning people not to drink and drive. I think that is a message that is getting through to most Nova Scotians; in fact, I think it is getting through to an ever-increasing number of Canadians.

I believe, and maybe I am wrong on this, but I believe that certainly based on a lot of the statistics that you seem to be getting, that a number of those who are driving while impaired, while under the influence of alcohol, is actually declining. That is a very positive step.

Madam Speaker, welcome to the Chair. Some of us can think back to the days before the breathalyzer and before the public awareness campaigns that took place 10 or 15 years ago and over the last number of years about the hazards and dangers of impaired driving, and know many people who did drive their vehicles while they were under the influence and,

[Page 2329]

unfortunately, often or certainly on some occasions, were involved in accidents that could lead to a variety of things, certainly the loss of life, damage to property, injury and so on. So anything that can be done to reinforce that message, to encourage people not to be involved in drinking and driving, I think is a very positive step.

Certainly here one of the things it is stating is that the registrar may require - it doesn't say that they will, it doesn't say that they must but it is saying that the Registrar of Motor Vehicles may require a person whose license has been suspended to participate in an alcohol rehabilitation program before that license can be reinstated. Possibly they would be getting some advice or recommendation even from the judicial system, from the judge when a license is being suspended, through the court process. For example (Interruption) No, I am not saying that they should, no no. The Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency I think misheard me or, if he didn't mishear me, then I didn't articulate as well as I should have. I didn't say that they must, I said that they may require this. I thought I made that very clear. I pointed out that when a license is being suspended, in a court the judge may require that a person be involved or may give some guidance that they should be involved in a rehabilitation program prior to having a license being re-established or reinstated.

[5:30 p.m.]

The other portion, the next section, and here I am still speaking on the positives, the parts that I certainly have no hesitation in supporting, that is where a person has had their license revoked for alcohol related offences on more than one occasion, that that license will not be reinstated until the driver attends an interview with a person designated by the Drug Dependency Division of the Department of Health. Again, I see that as a positive step. Some might suggest that is an infringement upon a person's rights, but I go back to the point that a driver's license is not a right, it is a privilege that you have so long as you are obeying the rules of the road and you are not placing other people at risk. It is not a right, it is a privilege. I do not have any hesitation in saying that those who have abused that privilege by having their license suspended on more than one occasion for an alcohol-related offence that they should have to be interviewed and presumably on the basis of that interview, if it is felt that they still have a dependency problem and that they are not able to deal with and they are not going to be able to control that difficulty while they are in control of a motor vehicle that that licence will not be reinstated. Those first portions of the bill, I say to the minister, I will give him credit for and I have no hesitation in saying that I am prepared to support.

The next section, the 110 kilometre per hour on certain highways, I call the 104 western extension provision of the bill. It is interesting that at the same time the government is announcing that it is going to be reducing the speed limit on the old route through the Wentworth Valley to 80 kilometres per hour, that they going to be hiking the speed limit to 110 kilometres per hour on a yet to be completed section of highway, on a section of highway which is going to be travelling through an area in terms of climate conditions can be some of the most severe in the province. It is 250 feet higher than the current highest spot along the

[Page 2330]

Wentworth route. It has extreme fog conditions and can be very prone to blizzard conditions (Interruptions) Already three inches of snow (Interruptions) From the honourable minister, I would be pleased to.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, would the honourable member permit a question? I am just wondering what the honourable member does now on any highway when it is foggy, snowing or unsafe. I would assume that he slows down and I do not think the bill compels you to drive at that speed if conditions do not warrant it, in fact, you would still be permitted to slow down.

MR. HOLM: I will not remind the minister what you get when you break down the word assume. The minister may assume what I do and the minister may actually be correct in assuming what I do. There are many people who are out there on the road and you cannot legislate common sense. There are many people out there and the minister knows this full well because if we could legislate common sense, of course, the minister would be a Liberal on this government on these benches and would not be supporting the legislation and the regressive things that he is.

However, the minister will know as he has motored along the highways avoiding the speed bumps called potholes and the other things on the highways, the minister will know that there are many motorists out there who, regardless of what the posted speed is, will travel to the maximum regardless of the weather conditions. Here, what the government is doing is encouraging and they are encouraging for one reason only, to get the loonies and the toonies flowing into the tolls booths at the end of the road. They are trying whatever they can to encourage motorists off the current Wentworth Valley route onto the Highway No. 104 extension.

People talk about how much faster it is going to be to travel the new route versus the current route. You know it is going to be faster for one primary reason, it is shorter. Do some simple math. It is 46 kilometres long, give or take a few feet - the new western alignment and that is what we are talking about, 46 kilometres at a 100 kilometres an hour will take you about 25 minutes. If you have your cruise control truck on that 100 kilometres it should take you just sightly over 25 minutes. If, Madam Speaker, - excuse me, 27 minutes - if you put your cruise control at 110, it is going to be 25 minutes. So you are going to save approximately two minutes. Two minutes. The minister says two and a half. Well, the approximate is 30 seconds. That is the amount of time that is going to be saved.

Of course, they are increasing that time that it is going to take by lowering the speed limit on the Wentworth Valley route down to 80. Madam Speaker, this government is so worried, so concerned, that people are going to baulk at your public/private partnership program that is going to be ripping tens of millions of extra dollars out of the taxpayers' pockets in this province because of the way this government has decided to finance that project, so they can play a little shell game.

[Page 2331]

Supposedly Nova Scotians are to believe, according to the red team over here, that this highway is not going to be costing Nova Scotians any money because it is not going to appear on the budget of the Government of Nova Scotia. It is not our debt because a private company borrowed that money. This private company is projecting that their profits will increase by approximately 40 per cent because of the kind of deal it is entering into with governments like Nova Scotia. Because they will be borrowing the money at a much higher rate of interest than the Government of Nova Scotia itself could borrow it at.

The standard is that governments can borrow for at least 2 percentage points below that of private industry. And 2 per cent of $58 million strung over 30 years, the term of this deal, means that Nova Scotia taxpayers, through loonies and toonies that we have to throw into that toll booth, are going to be paying approximately $60 million more over the term of that. (Interruption)

Now the minister says you do not have to and the minister is right. You can take the old route unless you are a truck, unless you are a commercial vehicle. Of course, this government is trying to put as many roadblocks and obstacles in the way of using that existing route as they can by lowering the speed limit. All for two minutes. They are prepared to run the risk of increased safety hazards across this road all for the sake of having a few more people throw a loonie and a toonie into the toll booth.

They are prepared to increase that speed limit in an area which is prone to fog - heavy fog - because it is closer to the Bay of Fundy even than the existing route; that is very prone to white-outs and blizzard conditions. Of course, just because of the altitude the temperature will change more quickly. It is even higher than the existing route. (Interruptions) That is what this is all about.

The section in here and the minister in his opening remarks talked about giving inspectors the ability to stop commercial vehicles and to look at their documents to determine where they are going and to be able to stop those vehicles to ensure that commercial vehicles are obeying the by-laws or regulations, for example, that this is a non-through trucking route. And the minister in his example talks about the Hammonds Plains Road as the example. Madam Speaker, that would be very valid on the Hammonds Plains Road and probably in a number of other areas. It is interesting that it is being introduced in this bill tied hand in hand with the Highway No. 104 provision.

The government is not being motivated in this at all for the citizens in Bedford and concerns along the Hammonds Plains Road. Their concern is to be able to ensure that those commercial vehicles, any commercial vehicle travelling between here and New Brunswick, between Truro and New Brunswick, will be forced to use that Highway No. 101 extension and they will have their highway police out there stopping these vehicles to inspect them on a regular, routine basis, to make sure that none of those trucks, those commercial vehicles, that they have decreed are no longer permitted on that old route, to ensure that they are all

[Page 2332]

off that Highway No. 104, so that they can collect their $3.00 an axle, as they drive through this area on their $9.00 surcharge tires, as they pay for the government's recycling plan. So, as they drive through and pay $3.00 an axle, I don't know how many 18-wheelers that have 18 wheels, presumably, therefore 18 tires (Interruption) Most of them are 22 wheels, times nine, that is quite a bit of deposit they will be putting down on the rubber that goes onto those vehicles as well, Madam Speaker. But, of course, they are going to be proud and pleased and happy to pay this additional charge per axle to use that route. That is what this is all about, that is what the government's objective is.

It is clear, it is transparent. You know here we have the government doing all of this for their public/private partner, after approximately $60 million of our tax dollars are going in to build that road, and that company and the government's own company, it likes to pretend that things are separate that this government does, they like to be able to pretend that we are setting up this independent company, and that independent company is supposedly really at arm's length from this government, so they can shell it over somewhere else and pretend that it has nothing to do with them. I am talking here about the Atlantic Highway Corporation, which now is refusing and is going to go to court to oppose the ruling of the review officer under the Freedom of Information Act, that the details of the agreement for the construction of this road should be made public.

It is absolutely amazing. I don't know, maybe this government has plans and has contracts or arrangements or they have entered into some blind or some behind-the-scenes backroom deals with this company to do other highway projects. Maybe the financial deals that are arranged here are even more generous to the private partners than the private schools that they are building, where the government is going to be paying on a per square foot basis and where the cost, if you have an independent cost analysis done, which we have yet to see, I am sure are going to show that because of the increased financing costs, that those costs are going to be higher in the long term than if they were built and financed by the government themselves. Of course that is going to mean even more money removed from the classrooms, even more money removed from aiding children get that education, the best full educational opportunity that they need and deserve in order to be full participants and to benefit from the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead of them.

Here this government is talking about increasing speed limits for the benefit of their partners. Of course this government, according to its agreement, can increase those tolls every year and actually even had built into the agreement provisions for review and increasing those tolls, so that even more dollars can be yanked out.

It is not as if this road is going to be some super road, maintained to fantastic standards better than we have ever seen in the Province of Nova Scotia, because the contract, or at least I shouldn't say the contract, but the projections that were given under the Andersen Report had that road being maintained by not this private company but by the Department of Transportation, to Department of Transportation standards; a scary thought.

[Page 2333]

[5:45 p.m.]

Drive down the roads in the Province of Nova Scotia, including the 100-Series Highways, any spring and see the minefields all over the place. The Department of Transportation standards, 110 kilometres. The minister says you can't control that and the minister is correct; you cannot control the weather and you cannot prevent all break-up of the roads. Proper maintenance of the road, of course, by properly sealing a road when it starts to crack and so on, can prohibit and prevent the water from getting down in and the freezing, the expansions and the development of a lot of those potholes, if they are properly maintained. That takes dollars, I acknowledge that.

It is this government and this minister who are saying that those standards are sufficient for vehicles to be travelling in an area that is prone to fog, that is prone to heavier snow, saying that for the sake of two minutes. I can't clear my throat in here in a debate in that amount of time, I think even the minister would agree with that, two minutes. This government is prepared to risk an increased safety hazard for the sake of two minutes. Sixty seconds times two, that is what this is all about. It is banking on the fact that people are going to want to fly down this road, put the pedal to the metal, zoom through, so that they can get their loonie and toonie thrown into that coffer, into that toll booth so that they can maximize the profits for the private partner and so that they can generate enough money to pay that extra $60 million dollars that it is going to cost to finance that road through this private partnership.

If my $60 million figure is wrong, I invite the minister, I challenge the minister, whether it is the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, the Minister of Finance, the Premier, or anybody on the government benches, I invite you, I challenge you, table the agreement, table the contract, let's see the financial arrangement, let's see what we are going to be paying in the way of borrowing charges both in the short term and the long term, let's see what kind of special arrangements are out there in terms of the financing of this. It will also be interesting to see who has their money in that. I remember showing the Andersen Report to a banker and asked him what he thought of this. His answer to me was, in a very friendly way, how does one get a part of that action, that looks like a pretty good rate of return to me. I think for the individuals or financial groups that are putting the money into this, it is a very good deal for them.

If it was a good deal for government, if it was a truly good deal for government, there truly was going to be saving money, not just hiding money under a shell pretending that this expense isn't ours, this government would be anxious to put the cards on the table, to show to Nova Scotians what the financing costs are and how much we are going to be saving from that but oh no. I will be very surprised if my challenge is taken up. I will welcome it and I may have to eat crow but until I see that I am going to continue to assert what I am. I see absolutely no evidence or information to indicate that what I am saying is anything but bang on. If this government was not so concerned that people would be resisting using that new

[Page 2334]

route, they wouldn't be increasing the speed limit for two minutes over that 46 kilometre stretch. They wouldn't be increasing that and decreasing the speed limit on the Wentworth Valley road. This is crassly designed to try to entice people to put the pedal to the metal and to fly on through this area as fast as possible.

I might add, as they are doing that, they are really showing a tremendous concern for all of those businesses and all of those people who live along the current Wentworth route. I enjoy driving through that area, and I am not suggesting for one moment that I am not going to welcome the safety improvements, because I am, but all along that route there are many businesses, and many families depend upon those businesses, whether they be the gas stations, the restaurants or the other businesses along that area and this government is doing even more to try to drive vehicles away from that route. The Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency will know that this is again, one more severe obstacle that those businesses are going to have to try to come to grips with, if they are not going to have to shut their doors altogether.

Now I am not suggesting for one moment that you put the interests of one or two or a half-dozen small businesses along this route ahead of safety, but I don't think that safety is a concern of this government here, primarily. Certainly, it is not with the speed limit. There is absolutely no way that this government is putting safety first by raising that speed limit and, if there is, let's see it. Let the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, who has a safety division, let's see the analysis. Let's see the studies that have been done. Let's see why a 110-Series Highway, by increasing the speed limit from 100 kilometres to 110 kilometres to save two minutes over a 46 kilometre distance, let's see the evidence and reports that say that is safer. Let's see the reports that say that it is safer to drive at 110 kilometres an hour instead of 100 kilometres when you are driving through dense fog. Let's see the reports that say that it is safer to drive at 110 kilometres when you are going through white-outs, heavy snowfalls. (Interruption)

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the minister of Transportation and Public Works. I appreciate the compliment. The minister says I am smarter than that and I would like to say that I thank the minister, because I thought I was, too. I am smart enough to know that the government does not have any such studies because common sense tells you that by increasing the speed limit and encouraging people to drive fast under those kind of conditions, which it is doing because, for the majority of people, the posted speed limit, the minister himself will know that people look upon the posted speed limit as the level of speed at which they are expected to drive and that they are being pushed to do that. If they themselves do not feel comfortable doing that speed, they know that they are being pushed to do that by many other drivers who go flying by them.

If we have a posted speed limit of 100 kilometres a hour, the minister knows that many people exceed that speed limit. They may go 110 kilometres in a 100 kilometre speed zone or 115 kilometres and consider that that is safe and that based on the government posted

[Page 2335]

speed limit, you know that that is permitted. So now we go up to 110 kilometres and that means people are going to be driving 120 kilometres or 125 kilometres an hour. Here the government was concerned about safety not too long ago and speed limits that the former Minister of Transportation introduced, and I applauded him for this, it was something, quite honestly, that I had been pushing for a long time.

I believe the member for Sackville-Beaverbank had been pushing for this as well, even back to the days when he was on council and that was that the posted speed limit should become an absolute speed limit, because I know I get sick and tired having people or hearing people that the speed limit is 50 kilometres an hour so you can drive through it at 60 and that there was always leeway built in.

Well, the government finally came to their senses, the former government didn't, this government took several years but finally they did make that the absolute speed limit, so that people would no longer be able to argue that, well, it may say 50 but there aren't any vehicles around, it is clear vision, a clear road, conditions are good, no cars around and speed and go 80 kilometres an hour and be able to defeat the speeding ticket, be able to win on the basis that, well, they were driving safely in accordance with the conditions. The government has changed that, it is now absolute, you can't use that as an argument because the government was concerned about the speed.

Now, Madam Speaker, the government, contrary to the spirit of that safety concern - for the Minister of Fisheries who wonders where the connection is - it has to do with what seems to be the flip side or the reverse of the safety concerns that the government had. That is, by increasing the speed limits here, they are jacking it up, encouraging people to go even faster. It seems to be contrary to even the earlier clauses of this bill, because the government in the earlier clauses, correctly so, is concerned about safety, is concerned about those who are driving while under the influence. (Interruption) I think the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is saying he was going to call that resolution later.

MADAM SPEAKER: You are sort of straying from the debate at this point in time. (Interruptions)

MR. HOLM: Yes, the Minister of Education is suggesting that I shouldn't follow the rabbit tracks. Madam Speaker, I appreciate the helpful suggestions from the Minister of Education who, I am sure, is also going to be very enlightening for all members of this House when he reveals for us the financial details of what it is costing to finance the public/private partnerships in building the schools versus what it would cost to finance them in an ordinary basis with public money. (Interruptions)

Well, you know, here we get this interesting little thing. Public money. You tell me, Madam Speaker, if you are paying, if the public is paying for costs - you call it operating, you call it capital, call it whatever you want - it is still public money. If you are having to pay, this

[Page 2336]

government is going to have to pay 10 per cent more in rent than it was going to have to pay to pay the financial charges and the operating charges of that structure using the conventional manner. I don't care what you call it, however you cut the pie, 10 per cent is 10 per cent and if it is going to cost you 10 per cent more and that 10 per cent has to be taken out of the classroom, children hurt, children suffer.

It doesn't make good business sense but it may make good political sense because what the government is doing, what the government's goal is is to pretend that we have a balanced budget in the Province of Nova Scotia. Their goal is to take as many costs as you can and say, well, those aren't public dollars, they came from the private sector. When you borrow money, that also comes from the private sector. But now what we are going to do so that the private sector, our partners, can help us, we will let them carry those costs on the private companies' books. They won't appear in ours so it will look like we don't have that debt.

Then we will have to repay in return to that private sector company an extra maybe 5 per cent or 10 per cent above what it would cost us to do it ourselves so that they can make their profit and they can pay the higher interest rates. That's the price of playing the political shell game, so it looks like we don't have a debt, but Nova Scotia taxpayers are paying that charge.

They are paying that charge and, Madam Speaker, they are also are obligated to fulfilling that contract just the same way as they would be required by law to pay back any debt and here we have a $30 million - excuse me - a 30 year contract which is undoubtedly going to be costing taxpayers, users of that road, approximately $60 million more.

[6:00 p.m.]

How many kilometres of highway could you build with an extra $60 million? One of the previous members earlier tonight suggested that the highway between Mount Uniacke and Windsor needed to be upgraded, to be widened to four lanes . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, you'd think the member for Kings South would be pushing that, but he's not.

MR. HOLM: . . . and you know, $60 million would go an awful long way. Sure, it may not have done it all, but it would have gone a long way. It would have made a heck of a dent in it.

It would have built about 10 schools. About 10 schools could have been built or could be built with that $60 million now. How many hospital beds could have been kept open or could be kept open? How many additional home care spaces could be provided for? How much could the waiting list for those who are in need of essential health care services be reduced? But, no, the government chose. They make choices, that is what government is

[Page 2337]

about. It is about making choices. It is about making choices about how money is going to be spent. One of their choices is to go this route that is going to be costing all that much more. Of course, Madam Speaker, there is going to come the day when this government will pay for the choices it makes.

I am not going to stand here and say that I do not think that people will go with the 110 kilometres speed limit on that road. They will. I will because, Madam Speaker, if the speed limit says 100 kilometres, I go the 110 kilometres. I have been known occasionally to even have, as some others have - I hate to say it - speed, creep a little bit beyond that 100 mile limit.

AN HON. MEMBER: A hundred miles?

MR. HOLM: Or 100 kilometres; 100 miles would be a little fast, and I don't think my car would go that fast, not even with a tail wind and if it was in a draft, I still don't think that it would go that fast. If it did, I would want more than a bicycle helmet in my car, I say to the member or Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. However, even when you travel those posted speeds, many vehicles are flying by you.

What I am saying, Madam Speaker, regardless of whether the speed limit is posted 100 kilometres or 110 kilometres, many vehicles will travel that 110 kilometres or maybe even 105 kilometres or 115 kilometres, but if you post it at 110 kilometres, that is going to mean that the vehicles are travelling, on average, 10 kilometres faster than they are now on 100-Series divided highways, on roads that are to be maintained by the Department of Transportation to Department of Transportation standards. Let's not forget that. These are roads being maintained to Department of Transportation standards, not some new highfalutin, elevated standards, but Department of Transportation standards.

You know, the staff within the department do an excellent job. They try very hard. They do a good job with the resources that are available to them. They cannot ensure that the roads are always kept clean. Unfortunately, they cannot always be on top of each and every pothole and they can only repair the damage to the roads for which there are resources. I am not blaming staff; quite to the contrary, I have found the staff within the department to be extremely helpful when you call to report something in terms of what you think is an unsafe condition.

I am not talking about a frill. I am not talking about something you would like for cosmetic or whatever reasons. I am talking about that if you point out to them a real need, an emergency, that if there is a serious condition out there, they do their darnedest to address that issue, but still, because of the lack of resources, lack of manpower and time, they cannot get everything.

[Page 2338]

I am being asked by the member for Hants East to begin my remarks again.

MADAM SPEAKER: I don't think so.

MR. HOLM: I want to assure the member, because I cannot talk across the floor, through you, Madam Speaker, I want to assure that member that my comments, inarticulate as they may be because of my deficiency and my inability to always be as precise using the Queen's English as I might like, with careful reading of Hansard, you might begin to get an answer to your question. So I would invite the member for Hants East to be sure to please read Hansard and I am sure that will put his mind at rest and he will be able to sleep well at night after that.

Madam Speaker, as I say, this is a Jekyll and Hyde bill. That is part of the problem with a lot of this legislation. I would love to see the minister stand up and say, I am going to make one amendment, one change to this bill. If he makes one change to the bill, I have no hesitation in supporting it all the way, and that one change would be to eliminate in this bill the clause where the government has the ability to increase the speed limits on certain highways to 110 kilometres.

The bill isn't so restrictive as to say, although we all know what it is, just the Wentworth Valley, the Highway No. 104 western extension, or the Wentworth Valley by-pass, maybe that is a clue about what else is coming down the tubes and that is that government may plan to build all highways. Maybe the Minister of Transportation and Public Works does plan to twin Highway No. 103 all the way down to Bridgewater. It is possible and maybe to increase the speed limit or, at least, to charge tolls on all of those who are travelling back and forth, and, looking upon this bill, as another means to be able to do that. You are saying, of course you can take the old Route No. 3 if you do not want to take our new toll highway.

I would suspect, and I don't think you have to draw a long bow or be overly cynical to believe that where the government is saying that they can increase the speed limit on certain highways to 110 kilometres from 100 kilometres, and without specifying which ones, one can only conclude that they have plans still buried away, locked in their closet or down in the trunks or somewhere back in the filing cabinets waiting to be brought out to go for more public/private partnerships, more toll highways (Interruptions) Well, he is up to 40 now. I think the minister is exaggerating slightly, but no, you never know, but you can be darn sure one thing, one of the things that they will be doing is refining the process here. They will be refining the process in the Wentworth Valley. They will be looking at what works most effectively and what needs to be changed in order to force even more people onto private toll highways. Yes, indeed, I expect the business sector, especially the financial sector to be all in favour. They will probably come out and go and talk to their buddies; maybe the Metro Chamber of Commerce or elsewhere, the financial institutions coming out and saying we support this government program for public/private partnering. Of course they do, it means

[Page 2339]

a lot more money for them. It means higher costs for you and me. It is higher costs the way you are going to the taxpayers in the Province of Nova Scotia.

I do not believe for one minute that the Department of Transportation if they are allowed to compete on a level playing field, higher expertise, yes in some areas as they need it, but if they are able to work under the same kind of time-frames, under the same kind of conditions in developing the roads, they can do it as effectively and more cheaply. I underline that last, more cheaply. Not, of course, if it is going to be spread over 10 years, then yes, indeed, there are ongoing carrying charges. If they do it on the same basis, allowed to compete head to head, the same standards, same time-frames, government can deliver for less and save the taxpayers money, but that would lead to an honest accounting of having that debt appearing on the books of the Province of Nova Scotia instead of upon the hidden books of a private company to which we, who pay those costs, are not given access. We are denied it, just as those reports that the review officer under the Freedom of Information Act has suggested should be made public, the company controlled by this government which is really a Crown Corporation is going to court to prevent.

That, I suggest, is completely unacceptable. It is undemocratic, it flies in the face of the democratic jurisdictions of open and accountable government. Instead, what this government is doing is trying to assist, in whatever way they can to (1) make sure that information is kept private and out of the public's hands and (2) they are trying to do whatever they can to force people, by reducing the speed limit on the existing route at the same time that they are increasing it on the other road, to have to use that new pay highway so that the loonies and the toonies will flow into the booths to pay the increased financial costs and the profits for this government. Political decision, its choice to give a private firm or firms for political reasons a handsome return, thank you very much, of Nova Scotia's taxpayers money in return for them trying to hide those costs on their books.

With those few words I am sure that the minister inspired. I am sure the minister will be announcing that he will be bringing forward, before this bill goes forward too far, an amendment to remove the one provision which would see the increase of the speed limit to 110 kilometres per hour on any road, any 100-Series Highways that the government should so happen to declare. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, speaking on Bill No. 28 which changes the Motor Vehicle Act to permit, among other things, a speed of 110 kilometres on a divided 100-Series Highway.

[Page 2340]

[6:15 p.m.]

Madam Speaker, I am one of those persons in this province, and one of many, who live in a rural area adjacent to the metro area of Halifax-Dartmouth. Consequently, like many others within my constituency, I have had to commute a long distance on a daily basis. I was just thinking, as a matter of fact, as I rose to my feet, how long have I been doing that. It is almost exactly 30 years ago that I started commuting. I commute roughly about 200 kilometres per day. So it is quite a long time to be making a fairly long commute.

Madam Speaker, I think it is recognized by every member of this Legislature and every Nova Scotian that if you are on a 100-Series Highway and you are proceeding at about 100 kilometres per hour, you are just getting in the way. In other words, you are holding up traffic because most traffic is proceeding at somewhere between 100 kilometres and 115 kilometres, with the average being probably about 110 kilometres per hour.

I would suggest, Madam Speaker, that if the weather conditions are satisfactory, that is that there is adequate visibility and the roads are free of ice and snow, hopefully, that that speed with a modern vehicle is not untoward, by any means. So I am certainly going to be voting in favour of raising the speed limit to 110 kilometres per hour.

However, I still think that drivers have to exhibit common sense because there are certainly times, particularly in Nova Scotia, where you run into a very rapid change in the temperature and road conditions that, when you started off, were quite satisfactory and about 30 or 45 minutes later the road conditions are no longer conducive to a speed even of the posted limit of 100 kilometres.

I also lived for a while in Manitoba and I used to commute there approximately 100 kilometres to work as well. I did that for two or three years. Whereas the weather conditions in Manitoba, the winters I should say, are much more severe than they are in the Province of Nova Scotia, at least they were constant; the roads froze and they stayed frozen for the winter. That happened some time in November and they stayed that way until about March, so you knew what to expect. I would suggest that in the Province of Nova Scotia that is not so. As I said before, conditions can change with extreme rapidity. The other thing, Madam Speaker, is also in this province we are blessed with a certain amount of snow and when it comes it normally seems to come with a lot of wind, which creates visibility problems and does cause problems.

As a matter of fact, I can remember coming home one evening from the airport to Windsor, to Falmouth just across the causeway. I had a truck behind me. I was sitting down in a sports car at that time and I was quite close to the ground and I couldn't see anything. I was driving at, I suppose, about 50 kilometres. A truck came along behind me and I guess he was sitting above the skiff of snow that was coming across the roadway and didn't see me

[Page 2341]

and ran into the back of me and drove me off the road. So I have no time for those who, as I say, when conditions are bad choose to drive at the maximum speed permissible.

If we drive on divided highways after this bill gets Royal Assent, we will be able to proceed at 110 kilometres without infringing upon the present laws that govern speed limits in the province. Unfortunately, while I live in an area which is serviced by a 100-Series Highway it is not serviced with a divided highway. It is to my sorrow that the road I commute on, Highway No. 101, while it is divided as far as Mount Uniacke, the divided highway has not proceeded beyond that point.

Those of us who live down the Valley know that the highway between Windsor and Halifax - the Mount Uniacke to Halifax portion is part of that same highway - is the second busiest highway in Nova Scotia. I am therefore very disappointed with the slow progress that the present government, through the Department of Transportation and Public Works, is making in twinning that particular leg of Highway No. 101 which was due to be commenced immediately after the initial piece of the highway between Sackville and Mount Uniacke was done.

It is a distance of roughly 45 kilometres from Mount Uniacke to Windsor and it is not a very difficult section to twin. There is a railroad overpass which would have to have a new bridge built and the twinning of the highway overpass at Mount Uniacke would have to take place as well, but apart from that it is pretty clear sailing right from Mount Uniacke through to Windsor so it is not a very expensive extension to the existing twinned highway for the government to undertake.

I don't say to the minister that this has to be done in one year. I would think that it would take approximately one season of road building to grub the area to cut the right of way and perhaps another year to get into the actual physical construction of the road and probably in the third year to wind up the contract. So, over a three year period, it would be my estimation, that section of the road could be done. I would suggest that it would be a great improvement to the highway safety picture in the province if that task was carried out over a period of time.

Roads are a very important part of the infrastructure of a province. I think that whenever a company is thinking of locating in this province one of the things they look at is their ability to transport whatever it is they are manufacturing from the place of manufacture to either a shipping point or a point where the product will be utilized. That means that in those areas adjacent to Halifax, there must be some good, dependable traffic link and at the present time with the demise of the railroad system in the province, the only logical way for people to transport goods is by road.

[Page 2342]

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, as I said a few moments ago, of people in the Windsor-Hantsport-Brooklyn area of this province, the majority work in the City of Halifax. I don't know if the minister or even you, sir, are aware of those actual numbers. I would guess that almost 50 per cent of the working population within that area commute on a daily basis to the City of Halifax. One only has to travel on that road in the mornings when the rush hour is on and the evenings when rush hour is on to recognize the tremendous number of people that do, indeed, have to travel that road on a daily basis. In fact, many people do not only on a weekday basis, but do it, perhaps, six days per week if they are employed in those kinds of endeavours that require their presence in the city on Saturday.

People who live in the City of Halifax who decide that they want to move out to the country, Mr. Speaker, and more and more people in the city are coming to realize that property taxes are lower in the rural area. They are realizing that it is, I shouldn't say, a better location to raise children, but, certainly, it is desirable in many respects for the raising of children. If they want to have an acreage of any sort to have horses for their children to ride and all those kinds of things that people desire to move into the country to put in place for their family, then they would, perhaps, be looking at an area such as West Hants or East Hants in which to locate. Now, in East Hants we do, indeed, have a 100-Series Highway into that area. In fact, we have two of them, in that the one to Mount Uniacke is now twinned, as well as the one, of course, to Elmsdale, Enfield, et cetera, Shubenacadie, Stewiacke, what have you.

People, when they are going to, again, locate their residence thinking about the fact that, my gosh, I have to get up at 7:00 a.m., climb into my car and drive down to the city. It is fine in the summer. It is very enjoyable to jump in your car in the morning, turn the radio on and drive down and you can put your thoughts in motion as you are going to work or, perhaps, if you have the luxury of a car telephone, you can do some work as you are driving down and the same thing going back in the evening. But during the winter months, Mr. Speaker, it is a different story altogether. In fact, it is horror story for those who don't have the luxury, as some of us in the House do, of having alternative arrangements to stay in the City of Halifax. You have to commute. You have to commute, you have to go home and you have to come in in the morning, or else you do not get a paycheque.

Mr. Speaker, I think that the twinning of the highways within the distance of about 100 kilometres of the City of Halifax should be one of the first orders of business of this government, because I think it has a dramatic spin-off in creating prosperity in the neighbouring areas, as well as, I think, creating an inducement for industry to locate in those areas where, my goodness, we certainly need them.

Mr. Speaker, that is all I have to say on the raising of the speed limits. As I say, I am in favour. I think it is a good move. I would hope, though, that more twinned highways become available to motorists and commuters in Nova Scotia in the very near future. The rest

[Page 2343]

of the bill, which deals primarily with the business of inspectors and their duties and peace officers, et cetera, I have no difficulty with that. In fact, I agree entirely with it.

So, in general, I agree with the principle of this bill and I think that it is a piece of legislation that I will have no problem supporting, but I would impress upon the minister the need for the government to invest a few dollars in road infrastructure in order to accommodate the requirement for safety on our highways and, also, to create an environment that is going to be conducive to an expansion of residential accommodation and businesses within the rural areas. Thank you very much.

[6:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak to Bill No. 28, An Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Motor Vehicle Act. I guess the bill has about four different areas of concern and I do want to speak, particularly about the increase in the allowance of the speed limit on the twinned highways, but first I will mention about Clause 1 which deals with motor vehicle inspectors and that they have to have a certificate and that every motorist should respond reasonably to them. Certainly that is motherhood stuff, that if an inspector stops you that you should comply, and I have no problem with that at all. Certainly no one should hinder the inspector.

The next clause is with regard to suspension, pursuant to Section 279A, and it may require somebody who is found guilty of an alcohol offence, driving while impaired, that they would have to participate in an alcohol rehabilitation program. I do not condone people driving with alcohol, I want to make that perfectly clear, but if I could give an example of a young friend of mine who was probably 25 years old, and a couple of years ago he had three beer. I know that is all he had. He lost his license for one year because of that. He doesn't have an alcohol problem, that particular fellow, he was just driving after having a few beer. It does say, may require, and I guess under those circumstances, probably a person like that wouldn't have to go for an alcohol rehabilitation program, because I think that would be grossly unfair.

In the second offence, they are saying that you would have to go to Drug Dependency, and if you are caught a second time I have no problem with that at all. You shouldn't have been caught the first time and, God forbid, who may be caught next; you never know. But it is just not permissible, in this day and age, to drink and drive.

Of course, one of the other items in the bill is the matter of increasing the speed limit to 110 kilometres per hour on the twinned highways. As most of you know, I live in Pictou and it is 160 kilometres from Pictou to Halifax, pretty near to the exact kilometre. I actually now only have to drive 21 kilometres until I get on the twinned highway and I must say - and

[Page 2344]

I have congratulated the government for finishing that particular piece of highway from Salt Springs to Truro - that it certainly makes it a lot easier for the driver when they get on the twinned highways.

The fact is, last Monday I had to meet somebody in Truro and I got away in good time, so I really didn't have to hurry. So I started up from Salt Springs and I set my car at 99 kilometres per hour. Do you know that every car passed me going to Truro. (Interruptions) But the fact is, you can drive on that road and it is quite safe; then there are times when you can't. Well, then when I got to Truro, I thought I had better hurry to get here on time for the sitting of the Legislature, or we had caucus meeting or whatever, so I set it up to 115 kilometres per hour. I can say to you that still 75 per cent of the cars passed me.

My colleague, the member for Hants West, talked about weather conditions, and I think we have to think about that too, that if the weather conditions are bad, well, you have to slow down. I came out of Dartmouth here a couple of years ago with my wife and we were heading home. We started to get the white-outs, so you certainly weren't going to go the speed limit. You were crawling along at 30 kilometres or 40 kilometres per hour; in fact, the guy ahead of me drove off on the median. When we got out to the Inn on the Lake, I pulled off the road and went and parked for a couple of hours, because conditions aren't right. People have to respect the fact that when there are snow storms or when there are icy conditions - or even black ice, which can come on very quickly - that you have to reduce the speed. But when the weather is fine, with the modern vehicles we have today, on the twinned highways, I think 110 kilometres per hour is more than fair.

On the other roads, the single-lane roads, the speed limit in some places is 100 kilometres per hour, some places it is 90 kilometres per hour and other places it is down to 80 kilometres per hour. I respect that and I think we have to respect that. A lot of people say, well, 110 kilometres is pretty fast. But with the modern cars we have today, you can slip along there pretty easily. I know most of the members here do travel that road from Halifax to Truro. It is a good road.

I think it is a good amendment, quite frankly, to bring in and to pass. As I say, the traffic on that road does go at that speed at any rate. (Interruption) And then some, the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury says, and then some. We are pleased that the twinning is being completed between Salt Springs and the Westville Road, which will then have the twinning done from Halifax right through to the other side of New Glasgow. This will be very helpful in going through Alma. We have had a few major accidents in that area.

I would like to point out to the members that there were quite a few of those overpasses being built this summer and there is quite a bit of work in the building of the highways. My understand, from talking to the former minister, is that that twinning may be pretty well completed by 1997, but the fact is that to have the paving and everything done it

[Page 2345]

will probably be 1998 before that actual twinning between Westville and Salt Springs will be done. It will be very helpful and, hopefully, it will save lives.

I would just like to mention and put on the record that when that highway is completed, I think the department has to look at a change on Route 376, from Pictou to Central West River. Any of you who have driven on that road realize that the engineering and planning of the approach of Route 376 to Highway No. 104 is, I shouldn't say stupid, but it wasn't practical at all. The road is laid over to the left and you are coming on this way. There have been quite a few upsets there over the years. What I want to say is, when the road is completely twinned to past New Glasgow, the Route 376 - too bad the minister wasn't here - the road from Route 376 to joining up to Highway No. 104 should be straightened out. The main road would then be from Pictou to Salt Springs, with a straight approach.

I see the Clerk, I shouldn't be saying anything but I know he understands what I am talking about because he has driven it a lot, too, from that area. It wouldn't be very costly and it would be a tremendous improvement to that corner where many accidents have occurred over the years. I hope that when the highway is completed, and I know that not until that time because it is going to take the main traffic off going through Alma to Salt Springs, it is going to take the traffic off that, they will be on the big Highway No. 104. Then the P.E.I. traffic coming from Pictou could go right straight out Route 376 and pick up at Salt Springs, to get on the twinned highway.

Mr. Speaker, the other item in the bill was in regard to, peace officers have the right to detain commercial motor vehicles from time to time. I guess that is motherhood, too, that they should have a right to check on the fact whether they are obeying the law or whatever.

I have no problem supporting this bill to go to the Law Amendments Committee and supporting it when it comes back. I have discussed it with many people in my own area and their first reaction was, you are going to increase the speed limit on some of the other roads and, of course, we don't want that. But on the twinned highways I think it is a good thing.

With those remarks, I will sit down to hear the other comments. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to only one provision of the bill which is the speed limit. My remarks will be very brief and I want to sincerely apologize for that right away. I am quite sure that if I spend some more time with my colleague for Sackville-Cobequid I can learn to extend my remarks, perhaps indefinitely. (Interruptions)

There is one thing I haven't heard in here today that I wanted to mention. There seems to be an assumption among a lot of the speakers that when we get a higher speed limit that this attracts people to the high speed highways. I would like to say something about that. In

[Page 2346]

fact, with an aging population and declining funds for infrastructure repairs, I think there are many people in this province who will, rather than use these highways that have the 110 kilometre speed limit will be far more likely to avoid them or stay home. I raise this point because I think that we are making assumptions about what people's choices will be.

I do agree that higher speeds create more risk and I do agree that people very often feel compelled to drive at the limit and treat the maximum as the minimum. As a slow driver myself, I am not a person who would be crazy about going on a highway at 110 kilometres all of the time. Like so many people in this House, none of us is young and I think there are a great many of us, (Interruption) Some are indeed younger than others and some look younger than others, but I do feel that this is a point that hasn't been raised previously.

I think that out of some sense of concern for our seniors and our aging population that we, in fact, don't assume that we are all going to take to the highways and clip along at 110 kilometres. So that is a provision of this bill that I would be very happy to see changed. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: When you say brief, you don't fool around. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 28 is a bill and it is (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, if you had as much help as I am having we would really be in trouble here. You know, this has to be the first bill that has been introduced since I have been here where it was suggested that it be introduced by a company from Ontario and Antigonish that is building a road for us. This bill is not here because it is good for you or me or for the man behind the tree, as the saying goes. It is good for business of the paid toll highway. That highway that should never have been built. That hardship is being put on Nova Scotians by the most taxing government that Nova Scotia has ever seen.

[6:45 p.m.]

Even if lucky Bernie with all the revenue that Ottawa has been sending down on the extra funding that Ottawa has been giving Nova Scotia - it is up to $1.2 billion in three years, even with all that extra funding this government has decided to penalize northern Nova Scotia and to make sure that we all know exactly how they are penalizing the residents of Cumberland County, they brought in a bill just to remind us and to stick it to us.

The biggest part of this bill indicates that we will be able to drive 110 kilometres an hour on certain roads. The minister or the provincial traffic authority will decide - well that is nice. What does it mean to people living in the Annapolis Valley where you can drive 100 kilometres now in the road and watch everybody - when you come to Halifax, you see them woofing by you like you are not even there when you are at 100 kilometres. So, if you boost it up a little and you go 110 kilometres, there are not too many that go by you, there are a

[Page 2347]

few. If you hit it about 115 kilometres, you are right in-stream and you can just cruise right into Halifax without too many problems.

I do not know how much above 115 kilometres you could put your cruise control and your car if you have one of those cars with cruise control on it, a lot of people do these days, so it is convenient. I have been told on many of the roads the police officers have some discretion and some set their radar gun at 120 kilometres. If you are going 119 kilometres, you are all set, no ticket, 121 kilometres and you have had it. What is going to happen now and this is on a single 100-Series road, it is not a twinned highway, it is just a regular road. When they raise the limit to 110 kilometres, how fast are you going to be allowed to go? Are you still going to be able to go 115 kilometres or 120 kilometres or are you going to be able to go 130 kilometres? We do not know that. We do not know what the tolerance level is.

Oh, the genius over there says, what does it say in the bill. You would think he would have read the bill, wouldn't you, Mr. Speaker? How long have we had this bill? Does it have a date on it in here? Yes, it probably does somewhere. It was in the spring - May 10th. Since May 10th the Cabinet Minister opposite has not even looked at the bill to find out what it says. It says 110 kilometres, but the tolerances are very unpredictable depending upon the particular area that you are driving. Now the current Minister of Transportation is all for this because he is the most famous driver in Nova Scotia history, certainly the most famous driver in the Cabinet of Nova Scotia history because he had such a good time with his driver's license just after he got into Cabinet and going to court several times. One time he had to make a quick trip back into the province to appear in court, they thought he could not be there.

The minister knows how important it is to have a high speed limit.

AN HON. MEMBER: Have you had any experience with it?

MR. ARCHIBALD: Me? Not lately. And hopefully none of us will get caught speeding.

You know, 100 kilometres an hour, which is the speed limit now on most of these roads, is 62.5 miles per hour, 110 is 68, almost 69 miles per hour. With these high speeds we are joining some of the American states with a high speed limit. There are only a few of the U.S. states that have bigger speed limits than we do. Montana, for instance, does not have one in the daytime, but if you go over 90 miles an hour in Montana you are going to get pulled over and you might get a ticket or you might not. I do not think our provincial government is quite ready to go (Interruptions) My goodness. You just wait.

Mr. Speaker, the Americans have been deciding what to do with speed limits. You remember a few years ago during the gasoline crisis when the President lowered the speed limit to 55, everybody said fine and they went 55, but since then they have eased up some, to the extent that now on the Internet you can get some helpful hints. I think Nova Scotians are

[Page 2348]

going to start wanting to read these helpful hints. The general tips are to keep your eyes open, stay alert, use your mirrors and that sort of things. Know your adversary, know the terrain, find a patsy, maintain situational awareness and stay alert. These are all tips on how to avoid detection from the highway patrol. Drive quickly, not recklessly. Stealth pays. It says here don't buy a red Porsche; you'll get more attention than a grey Nova.

These are helpful hints and as the speed limits increase and drivers become more accustomed to going at these high speeds, they are going to be borrowing these tips on speeding and not getting caught from the Internet, I suppose. On the Internet it shows you all the states and all the areas where you can speed. A lot of the American states have a limit of 75 miles per hour. Most of those states, like Colorado, are in the western areas. In most of the eastern states nobody is above 65 miles per hour, on the Eastern Seaboard certainly, and it is probably just as well. Their terrain is very similar to ours. So really on the Eastern Seaboard of the Atlantic, I guess, Nova Scotia will have the distinction now of having the highest speed limit in North America.

The great idea is that this is all brought to you by your friends from Ontario and Antigonish who are building this toll highway in Nova Scotia. This government takes great pride in the fact that this is the very first toll highway anywhere in Canada on the Trans Canada Highway. This government has had so little success in anything else. They have been trying to be first in something. So the only first they could be is being the first province in Canada to bring in a toll highway on the Trans Canada Highway.

It is a pretty bizarre situation when the government stoops to bringing in a piece of legislation just to appease the money lenders who are going to rob Nova Scotians of our own money. This is nothing more than another tax, just another tax by this government that has been taxing everything from tin cans to tires and tolls. Mr. Speaker, people in Nova Scotia are almost at their limit; I think that on April 1st, when this government brings in this terrible BST, people will have reached their limit. About this time next year, they will probably have this toll road open and people will have reached their limit. Supposing you are allowed to drive 10 kilometres per hour faster on that road, truly, is that anything to get excited about and to think you have done something marvellous and wonderful? I don't think so.

Apparently the minister was cutting a ribbon at an overpass today. That is nice, why was the Government of Nova Scotia involved? I thought this was a private enterprise adventure, paid for, over half of it, by the Province of Nova Scotia and the taxpayers, and the rest of it an obligation of the motoring public in Nova Scotia.

Now this government talks about tourism and we used to hear the minister before talking about the crown with all the jewels. Now, which jewel is this toll highway? I guess we are going to put an ad in the New York Times, come to Nova Scotia, see Canada's first toll highway. Is that going to be the new tourist slogan for Nova Scotia? It is pretty bizarre, Mr. Speaker, that we have to stoop to this kind of trick. It is pretty bizarre when you really get

[Page 2349]

down to the fine print and read and think about this toll highway necessitating this bill because they know people, particularly local people, won't use the toll highway unless they force them to, so you put the speed limit on the current road down to 80 kilometres an hour to force the motoring public onto the toll highway. You are sort of blackmailing Nova Scotians.

The people who are supposed to be the spokesmen for Nova Scotia, the people who are representing Nova Scotia and there is a Cabinet Minister from Cumberland County and one from Colchester - and that is the area that is really going to be hit first and hardest, because those people are being forced by the speed limit change to use the new highway whether they want to or not; they will just do it because of the money - these people are sitting here in the House defending actions like that?

Mr. Speaker, it kind of makes you wonder who they are representing. Nobody from Antigonish elected the people from Cumberland and Colchester County, and people in Ontario didn't vote in favour of the representatives from Colchester and Cumberland County to come and sit in the House. But you know, when you have operators of a toll highway having their own personal representatives, two of them in Cabinet, one of them resigned, when the Cabinet, who are supposed to be representing the people of the area in which they live, prefer to represent the consortium that was picked to build a toll highway, it sends out a funny message to me.

Next April 1st, when this greedy government taxes people beyond belief, 15 per cent on everything you buy, $6.00 or $8.00 to drive on the toll highway, forcing people in Cumberland County, even the local people, to use this road, it is kind of scary, it is pretty unfair, yet the government thinks it is great, to the point that the minister even went and cut a ribbon to open an overpass. I mean we have dozens of them down home and nobody ever cut a ribbon on them so, maybe if he is free, he could come down and cut some ribbons down in the Valley because we never did that. Maybe the minister would come to the Valley sometime and see the terrible condition of the roads in this province. (Interruptions)

[7:00 p.m.]

When you bring in legislation, you see, An Act to Amend Chapter 293 the Revised Statutes of 1989, the Motor Vehicle Act, when you bring in an amendment, you can talk about anything you want in that bill. No, try it. That's the way it works.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The member says that when an amendment to a bill is brought in, you can speak to anything you want on the bill. As I understand the rules of second reading, when there is an amendment, that is the legislation that is before us. I would not think that if we were speaking on an amendment to the speed on highways, that he could speak about potholes in some other district. I think the member is out of order when he says that he can speak of anything he likes on the Motor Vehicle Act when an amendment that is quite particular, is before him.

[Page 2350]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The member has the floor.

MR. ARCHIBALD: To bring in this bill, it is a little bizarre that the roads in Nova Scotia have been allowed to deteriorate in the last two years to the condition that they have. We have seen very little maintenance on the 100-Series Highways. If some of the 100-Series Highways in Kings County and Hants County are part of this new 110 kilometre per hour speed zone that this government is saying they might be, it doesn't say they are not going to be, so I assume they might be, I think it would be a little bit unsafe, due to the deterioration in the road.

Certainly the road between Halifax and Amherst is kind of deplorable, particularly between here and Truro. There are patches and potholes all over the road and, in many cases, when you are driving along at highway speed, and if you are in the passing lane sometimes, you will come upon a large pothole in the middle of the road and you cannot swerve to miss it or you hit the person beside you. So before this 110 kilometre per hour speed limit is fully passed for all the roads in the province, the Department of Transportation and Public Works is going to have to start doing a maintenance program to replace much of the paving in the province.

I know last week the Minister of Transportation and Public Works went to Ottawa and he asked the federal government to give him $1.5 billion to build new roads and bridges in Nova Scotia. I know the member would not have gone to Ottawa looking for $1.5 billion if he did not think there was a good likelihood that he would get it. He did not go up there to waste his time or the federal government's time. So, I expect any day now we are going to have an announcement of $1.5 billion to be spent on roads in Nova Scotia. For that, we will congratulate the minister because there is not any area in Atlantic Canada that needs road work as badly as we do.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I had a reason to drive through the roads of New Brunswick and, for the first time since I can remember - and I have been driving through New Brunswick for many years - they are doing more road work and their roads are in better condition than Nova Scotia. That is the first time that I have ever seen that and many people who have been driving through, and many of the truckers that I have been talking to that do travel from here into the United States say it is amazing, but in the last three years they can see a marked difference in the transportation between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. What they are seeing is that New Brunswick roads are improving and Nova Scotia roads are deteriorating.

What is the solution that this government comes up with to solve the problem? They gave a large section of road to an Ontario and an Antigonish consortium to build and they raise the speed limit in the rest of the place. That is the solution, don't fix the roads, don't get a federal-provincial agreement signed and don't use the money that was sent down from Ottawa to replace the transportation subsidies to fix roads; work with an Ontario company

[Page 2351]

and give them some more Nova Scotia dollars to take out of here and raise the speed limit. (Interruption)

The other part of this bill that I have to agree with deals with the reinstatement of a person who has lost their license through drinking. Drinking and driving in Nova Scotia has declined greatly over the past 20 years only because of the efforts put forth by the safety people within the Department of Transportation, the hard work of the police forces throughout Nova Scotia and the realization that drinking and driving is totally unsafe and unacceptable. Last week we celebrated in Kentville the second anniversary of the founding of a Chapter of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and they have done an awful lot to help. This is a good suggestion and a good part to have in a bill, that you have to participate in an alcohol rehabilitation program before your license can be reinstated and that reads well.

I know a lot of people and a friend of mine was required to participate in an alcohol rehabilitation program before he could get his driver's license reinstated. He was away for about four months and I saw him just after he came back. I was talking to him at a reception and I wasn't quite sure what was wrong because he took the course but he didn't get the cure. He was still enjoying alcoholic beverages but the judge said, you have got to take the course or you are going to have to go to jail because he was stopped three or four times for drinking and driving. Anyway, he took the course and came back and just kept on drinking because he wasn't ready to stop drinking but he had to take the course. Truly, it didn't do anybody any good because it didn't change his attitude.

I really think that taking the course isn't good enough. You have to not only take the course you have to learn from it and you have to realize that you have to mend your ways or stop driving. There are worse things in this world than to stop driving. I know this casual acquaintance, if he happened to be drinking and driving and caused a serious injury to a fellow Nova Scotian, he would feel pretty bad about it, but then it is too late. You really have to make sure that the drinking and driving laws are adhered to and they have to mean business on this rehabilitation program.

It is one thing to participate in a program but it is another thing to take the cure. It is vitally important and I don't think the wording in this bill has changed the requirement at all. You still have to participate and that is not strong enough.

One of the other amazing things that I have noticed lately is in dealing with this high speed limit and this new modernization or whatever you want to call it, I don't know why they are doing it, it beats me, is this graduated driver's license which I am all for, I think it is a great thing. I don't think ours is quite exactly the way it could be because it is not quite as strong as I would have like to have seen nor is it as strong as the insurance industry thought it was going to be. We have a graduated driver's license basically in name only.

[Page 2352]

One of the amendments that is very serious in light of the fact that we are putting this speed limit up is the fact that one of the tests you used to have to take to get your final driver's license was to take a defensive driving training course. That was about the last thing you had to do, a driver improvement program for new drivers, to help with the development of skills so that the youngsters and the young drivers would know proper and safe driving habits, accident avoidance, sharing the road and the road uses, alcohol and drug-free driving, emotions in driving, driving with passengers. You see that is the course that everybody had to take prior to getting their final, full-time license.

That has been done away with, you don't have to do that anymore under this government. It is kind of neat; after the government hired the instructors and had them trained and everything so that they could put on the courses, they suddenly said we don't have to do that. Anybody who has taken a driving training course whilst they were waiting to get their driver's license, already took all those defensive driving courses so they don't have to do it. That is one step they don't have to do anymore.

That is really a shame and it is short-sighted and it is not right that the government has short circuited - the graduated drivers' license has only been in for about two years, a year and a half. It was a weak graduated licensing program to begin with and the government has made it even weaker after a year and a half. So it is a graduated license really in name only. So now we are raising the speed limit and lowering the standards for graduated drivers.

You see, Mr. Speaker, we are not as dedicated as we should be to safe driving in Nova Scotia, as exemplified by the actions of this government raising speed limits and lowering the standards for a graduated driver's license.

You know the speed limit on Highway No. 104 going through Wentworth Valley, absolutely by contract, is 30 kilometres less. Truly, Mr. Speaker, this is annoying. It should be annoying for people living in Cumberland County to realize that legislation enacted that will affect Cumberland County is being brought in at the request of Ontario. If the members for Cumberland County wanted to make a change, would the government act so quickly? You see, that is the difficulty.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Oh my soul, the dinosaur.

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I believe it would be appropriate to ask the honourable member opposite to address his remarks to the principle of the amending bill that is before us. Paragraph 665, Page 200 of Beauchesne specifically states that he must do this. Now he is infringing upon my rights as a member of this House. If he is not called to order then I am going to bring a point of privilege before the House and have the member named and taken before the Committee of the House.

[Page 2353]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. I will ask the honourable member to certainly make his comments pertaining to the bill before us, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, the only advice I could give you with reference to that is, don't pay any attention to what he says. He is no longer the Speaker of this House. You know for that gentleman to stand in this place and start lecturing . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I believe that you admonished the member for violating the rules of debate and informing him that he must conform his rambling tirades to the rules of debate, as set forth by the decorum of this House. Yet, Mr. Speaker, what he says to you, in terms of your ruling, to pay no attention to that person opposite.

Mr. Speaker, what is before me are the Rules and Forms of Procedure of debate in this House. That man is flaunting those rules.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will again ask the member to certainly make his comments pertaining to the bill before the House, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you very much. I want to thank the honourable member for rising in his place and helping you out, Mr. Speaker, because that is just the kind of guy he is, he wants to be helpful.

You know, Mr. Speaker, this bill and that member, it is a little bit bizarre that all of the things, all of the times in this House when that member should be on his feet, speaking about this bill, talking about safety, talking about speed limits, he never says boo. You never hear him when they talk about the tax or the tolls. He sits in his place and he should be ashamed of himself.

[7:15 p.m.]

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I think you are going to have to lecture the honourable member opposite because he does not seem to have the necessary wherewithal to understand that you are admonishing him for a violation of the procedure and decorum of debate in this House. That is a point of privilege for me, Mr. Speaker. I will not call it on a point privilege, but I will call it on a point of order again. He is violating decorum and I will stand on my feet all night long if necessary until he observes the decorum.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has the floor.

[Page 2354]

MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, it is funny. When we are discussing a bill like this, when we are discussing taxation, which the toll is, do you hear a word from that member? When Nova Scotians are being gouged, when the hospitals near his constituency are losing beds, when the waiting lists are growing, not a word. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the honourable member should take his seat. Well, he is finally learning some decorum.

Once again the contents of the member's remarks are not related to the principle of the amended bill. This is a very serious matter. He is violating the order of debate in this House. This is a very serious matter and I think he should be appropriately admonished and if he cannot live with the Rules of the House then he should be asked to leave the room.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North has the floor. Again, I will point out to the honourable member to certainly make his comments pertain to the bill before the House.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Bill No. 28 is very short, just some amendments so that the Government of Nova Scotia, to which that member is a party, can do the bidding of an Ontario company and raise taxes. I request members of this House in the affected areas to read it and understand fully why we are raising the speed limit to 110 kilometres an hour. It is not for safety, it is not for convenience, it is for no other reason than to appease an Ontario company with a Nova Scotia connection out of Antigonish. They have requested it, they demanded it.

The member opposite says that the decorum ain't great in the place, sit him down. The decorum is nothing compared to the pillage that has been done to the Nova Scotia taxpayer by this government bringing in the first toll road in Nova Scotia. This is just one part of it. This bill to raise the speed limit by 10 kilometres per hour is just one small part of the terrible deed of bringing in the toll highway.

Now if there is no member of the government bench that can see a problem with that, I know why you are in difficulty as a government. This is wrong. If we had decent highways, four lanes all over the province, maybe 110 kilometres is a good idea. When the Minister of Transportation knows full well you can set your cruise at 110 kilometres and not get stopped, knows better than anyone else, then why are we saying you can go 110 kilometres? (Interruption) Now we have heard from the designer of this fiasco. He is in the Economic Renewal Agency. Mr. Speaker, if I might point out - on the highway map going through the Annapolis Valley - has a map and it goes through a little village called New Minas and they have the population of New Minas now listed at 202. The Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency and tourism should realize that New Minas has a population of 5,000. But the

[Page 2355]

government is so out of date with their road maps that they even missed 90 per cent of the people in New Minas.

Mr. Speaker, 110 kilometres per hour is faster than many of the roads are going to permit. Which roads in this province are going to be subjected to 110 kilometres per hour speed limit? We have no idea except for one, and that is the new toll road. That is because the former Minister of Transportation was without any imagination and decided the only way to do it was to build a toll road and we'll give the work to Mr. Chisholm. We will not bother collecting taxes, sales tax. They will not have to build it under normal construction methods. They can use pit run gravel.

All of the rules and regulations that used to exist, because of this bill, have disappeared. Even this legislation, this Legislature, and the members have said themselves, including the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat, will stand and jump at the request of some people from Ontario who have some kind of a special deal to build a highway in Nova Scotia, to charge tolls, that nobody in Nova Scotia has even seen the agreement. Have any of the people on the backbench who are supporting this seen the agreement that was secretly signed by the former Minister of Transportation? (Interruptions) Yeah, you saw a lot of stuff that you thought was good that is turning out not to be so hot. This Ontario company, for some reason, can make the whole entire Legislature of Nova Scotia hop. (Interruptions)

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

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, could we expand the debate a little bit so the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency and I could enter into a little discussion on what he seems to want to talk about? (Interruption) We can't. I know, the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat would get up and give us both another stern lecture and I know how worried you are about that, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)

To see the Government of Nova Scotia jump at the whim of John Chisholm and the Ontario consortium is pretty scary. We saw how high this government jumped when John said he wanted to open a strip mine. Then they jumped again when he said he wanted to open another one. What is he going to want this Legislature to do next? He wants the speed limit to be increased on the road and slowed down on the parallel road through the Wentworth Valley. It is a little disgraceful when you sit back and think that the only reason we are changing the speed limit is to help out the outfit that is building a toll road, a road that 99.9 per cent of Nova Scotians are totally against, having a road with tolls on it. The government could have shown some imagination rather than building a toll road but this is a government devoid of imagination, devoid of new ideas and totally without conscience when it comes to gouging the motoring public.

[Page 2356]

To build roads in Nova Scotia that can stand the increase of 10 kilometres per hour, Mr. Speaker, in 1993 this government raised the gasoline tax by $22 million; $22 million increase in gasoline tax. Last year they raised the tax again in the budget and next spring the tax is going up - how much? (Interruption) What's that in dollars? Is it $80 million or about $57 million. That is about $80 million since 1993 in gasoline tax increases and with all of those increases in gasoline, do we still need a toll road?

This government is so mismanaging the economy of this province that they are bailing everything out with taxes and just by hiding behind this 10 kilometre per hour increase in the speed limit just doesn't cut it. A toll road is a tax by any other name and a tax driven by John Chisholm and it is a consortium with a secret arrangement. How can it be secret? Even the freedom of information officer said it can't be secret because half of the money to build the road is taxpayers' money, it is not a private deal. This government, hiding behind the minister, says you cannot have it and this has everything to do with this bill.

This bill would not be here if it wasn't for the toll road that this government decided to build for John Chisholm. Would this be here without the toll road? Certainly not because in the agreement that Mr. Chisholm negotiated it says clearly that the speed limit must be a differential of 30 kilometres or nobody would use it and that is from that famous Andersen Report. Remember the Andersen people? They came in and told the Minister of Transportation how to fix the department and how to fix the Nova Scotia taxpayer to get more money and where to put the toll booths. This bill is bizarre to say the least. If people want to drive 110 kilometres what difference does it make when the tolerance that the police allow is higher than that now?

It was excellent that you were getting help from the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat and now you are getting help from the Deputy Speaker. I think I am going to take my place and I am going to allow another speaker to stand up and try to talk me into supporting this bill. (Interruption) I wish that the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat would get up just one more time. That would make my day complete if he would lecture you and me on the finer points of Parliamentary procedure. I am all through but I have to tell you that the expert on Parliamentary procedure, the first speech he made in the House, he brought in his own lectern that stood about this high and when he . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order please. I will ask the member to make his comments pertain to the bill before the House.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, you would have been so amused to see that. On Bill No. 28, I will listen to other speakers and perhaps I will support it but I am so very annoyed that John Chisholm and the consortium from Ontario with a secret contract to build a toll highway can make this Legislature jump. The only question is how high and to me it is a disgrace that there is not a single Cabinet Minister with enough backbone to stand up to Mr.

[Page 2357]

Chisholm and the consortium and say, let's make it public. Why are we chasing Nova Scotians on a toll road when we don't have to?

That is what this is all about and there is not a single Cabinet Minister that will stand up and admit that that is why they are doing it. They are trying to hide that we have better roads, they are made for this, they are made for that. Why doesn't one of these Cabinet Ministers stand up and tell the people why John Chisholm can make this Legislature jump on a whim.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I rise to participate in the debate on Bill No. 28.

[7:30 p.m.]

I have some mixed feelings about this legislation. I find it kind of amusing that we are going to raise the speed limit on some 100-Series Highways, and it may be the toll area only or it may be other areas. I am not sure of the government's intention. (Interruption) I don't remember saying anything in second reading. I guess that, as I drive the 100-Series Highways, I don't know of anyone, including the police, that know it is 100, because if you drive 100, everybody goes by. I will know that a lot of people feel very comfortable driving 110 kilometres on any 100-Series Highway without fear of being stopped. I think on the twinned highway, my colleague from Colchester North says he can drive 115 kilometres per hour and has been told that he will not be stopped either.

I guess what I have to fully understand (Interruption) Well, if you are Minister of Transportation and Public Works at some point, that is only fitting, but if you are anybody else, maybe you would not get stopped. I guess what I fail to understand - and we make the laws in the Legislature and decide whether it is 100 kilometres and, as I remember it, all the numbers are now absolute. In other words, it is absolute when we get to a certain speed limit that is posted. So, there is no leeway. But, I have to tell you, if everyone that went over 110 was charged driving the highway from Halifax to Truro, there would not be enough police officers in this province to stop everybody because they would be continually stopping practically every vehicle that went on that highway.

What I am trying to figure out is, what happens when it goes to 110 kilometres? I have heard some police officers say that if they are going to stop you at 115, they are still going to stop you at 115. Does that change anything? I don't think it changes anything. I do have some feeling, when you read articles, that speed does kill. The faster you go, absolutely the chance of being involved in any accident, the greater chance of being killed. If anyone has travelled in Europe on the Autobahn where there is no speed limit, because when you are in an accident there, chances are you will not survive it.

[Page 2358]

You can make the highways as safe as you want, whether it is a twinned highway or whatever highway. There is no question that data will prove that twinned highways are safer than the single lane highways. But the faster you go, the chance of being more seriously injured or even killed is absolutely greater. So, with that, I have mixed feelings because right now, everybody on the twinned highways drives 110 kilometres per hour. Now we are going to make it legal. I wonder what our philosophy is because we don't police it. The police police it. What is their philosophy? Is their philosophy that they allow a tolerance of 10 kilometres? Is it 15 or do they make a difference between the twinned highway and the single 100-Series Highway? I am not sure.

Whether or not the government brought this legislation in so that the only highway in Nova Scotia that has a speed limit of 110, legally, is the toll highway. If that is the case, the legislation should say that. If it is not the case, then we should know that too. I think the government should come clean to tell us what their intentions are so that we can fully understand.

Madam Speaker, a colleague would like to make an introduction and I will yield the floor.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party on an introduction.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, my thanks to my colleague for Kings West. In the east gallery are a group of workers from the Community Services Department. They are front line workers, income assistance workers, family benefit case workers, child protection caseworkers, community care workers, adult protection workers, people that are dealing with the pressures of what happens when lack of jobs and other pressures combine and affect some of the most vulnerable in our communities.

They have had some discussions with the minister and they are here to express some concerns about things like caseloads, with the cutbacks and the stress and pressure and so on. They are part of the Political Action Committee of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, led by Marvin Turner and Dave Ling, the Secretary-Treasurer of the NSGEU. I would like to ask these workers to please rise and receive the warm welcome of the members of this House. (Applause)

MR. MOODY: I, too, would like to welcome those workers to the Legislature. I can personally attest to the fine job they are doing out there on the front lines. I am sure they recognize, as I recognize, that they are very important to our system. Not only that, I know their job is much tougher as things get tougher. So I, too, welcome them to the Legislature.

[Page 2359]

Madam Speaker, in talking about the motive behind this legislation, and maybe when the minister sums up, if there is no reason that the minister can't indicate whether or not other twinned highways in actual fact, because the legislation gives the minister the authority to post the additional 10 kilometres on the 100-Series Highways, whether it is the intention of the government to do that or whether it is to appease those who have built the tolled highway, in other words, we will only see 110 kilometres on tolled highways.

Now one could argue that we have some other twinned highways in the province, and the minister might argue that this is being specially built and is safer than the other twinned highways. Well, I don't really share that. I thought that the design work of the twinned highways in this province, done by the Department of Transportation and Public Works, they did it to a design that was safe. In other words, I don't believe that they made them so that this road that is going to be built is actually any safer than the ones they have already built. Having been a former minister in that department, one of the things I have a great deal of faith in and believe is that the people in that department are very safety conscious. Sometimes you felt that some of the design work maybe went too far and it was a bit more costly, but the rationale was always that safety was such an important factor. I think that is very true.

I will be interested to know, because the legislation doesn't indicate what the government's intentions are. Maybe the minister doesn't know at this present time, but I think it would help us as we get further down the road with this piece of legislation.

I share the comments made by the member for Halifax Fairview when she talked about people who feel uncomfortable driving 100 kilometres presently on the highways. I think, as we get older and realize that the older we get our reflexes are slower, that one tends not to drive quite as fast. I think that we assume that everybody would like to go faster. Well, not everybody would and probably not everybody should.

I think that as I look at parts of the U.S. - my colleague for Kings North talked about it - the twinned highways there are at a lower speed limit than we have at the present time. Part of it, Madam Speaker, and this is what we have to think about, not only does speed kill but we burn more fuel the faster we go. In other words, conservation of fuel has to be a consideration or should be a consideration because I believe that even though we went through a period of time a number of years ago when we worried about the supply of fuel, you know we have to always be conscious of the fact that conservation should always be on our minds, regardless of whether or not there is a fuel crisis.

I would ask the government to consider the fact that the faster you go, the less efficient your vehicle is and the more fuel we consume. So we have to know what kind of a message are we sending out. We as legislators say, oh yes, everybody drives 110 kilometres now, so let us make that the law. What is it that we are trying to send out to the people that we represent? Are we saying that it is better if you drive faster because you will get there quicker and yes, if you are involved in an accident it is going to have a greater effect on those

[Page 2360]

involved in the accident? Are we saying that conservation of fuel is not important anymore, that we can burn it and forget about trying to conserve the fuel that may be very precious down the road? I am just not sure what it is.

As a matter of fact, I am not sure why this legislation is before us. Did the people that constructed the toll road say to the government, we have to have this to have an advantage? Or was it that the government said, we are going to allow higher speeds on all our twinned highways in the province because faster is better for whatever reason? My only problem is that I am not sure after this legislation whether the speeds on the highways will be any different than they are now. That is the big question in my mind. As I said before, it is 100 kilometres and everybody passes me. Most people will tell you that they will set their cruise control at 110 kilometres and that seems reasonable because that is what everybody does. I do and I do not deny that.

I wonder when we instill that upon people - because I think 10 kilometres has been a leeway in the 100-Series Highways for a long while - what happens when it is 110 kilometres? Is it then 120 kilometres that we feel we can set the cruise control on? I do not know, maybe it is not changed. I think that somehow the Minister of Transportation, working with the police of this province, has to send out a common message to Nova Scotians to know what it is we are trying to achieve and how this law will affect them when they go down the highway after this law is proclaimed. Does anything change? I am not convinced at this point that I know the answer to that and I do not know if the minister knows the answer to that. We will have to know.

I understand that this will apply initially to the toll highway and maybe others later. We have the first toll highway on the Trans Canada Highway in Canada. Some would argue that without doing it this way, it would not be done as quickly. I will tell you that a toll highway sends the wrong signal if you want to attract people to any province, want to attract business to the province. The minute you are in business, if you are a trucker you pay the extra $9.00 or whatever, you are going to pay $9.00 more for each tire and you are going to pay $9.00 to go through the tolls. I am beginning to wonder what is left for companies to come here to this province that have to transport goods out of this province. What is left? There is not a lot left. If I were them, I would not set up in Nova Scotia because the minute I set up in Nova Scotia my costs are greater than they are in New Brunswick.

You have to understand that what we are doing here yes, may make the road be built quicker, but secondly, what are we doing as a province when we have to compete with other provinces that do not have a tolled highway? I do not know if this government has any long-range plans with regard to a transportation system. I believe that in order for this province to be aggressive and try to get business to come to this great province we have to have a plan with regard to all modes of transportation. In the global market place today if you are not competitive, you are not going to be able to compete. We so much depend on global markets

[Page 2361]

that if we cannot compete we are out of business. Someone can set up a business somewhere else and sell worldwide.

[7:45 p.m.]

Since we do not have a large market in Nova Scotia, I think this government has made a number of mistakes when it comes to long-range planning. Sure, in the short term, you are going to get the highway built out of part government money and part private sector money. Yes, you are going to collect a toll. But is that what is good for Nova Scotia in the long term, one has to ask themselves? You know what, this government failed to produce any kind of study that says, in the long term, this is what is good for this province.

If I have one criticism, and I have a number, but one criticism I have of this government is that they do not take full advantage, before they make a decision, of doing the kinds of studies that the documentation would come forward and they can actually say, convincingly say, this is good for Nova Scotia. They cannot actually do that and that is so important. The people in Cumberland and Colchester Counties will really be at a disadvantage. They might be able to drive faster, but they are going to be at a disadvantage when travelling from Point A to Point B.

So, Madam Speaker, I have mixed feelings about this speed limit, very much mixed feelings. I will support this bill to go to the Law Amendments Committee, but I will be interested to hear from the minister and what comes back to some of the rationale and some of the answers that I have asked about why we are going from 100 kilometres to 110. That will probably decide how I finally vote on this piece of legislation.

The part of the legislation that talks about alcohol rehabilitation, Madam Speaker, I do support and that is always a problem when you get a bill, that there are certain clauses you totally support and then there is a little clause in there you have a question mark about of how you vote when you vote on the total bill, because you cannot separate that. I commend the minister. I think alcohol rehabilitation programs are the way to go. I heard a colleague of mine say the program does not always work, but nothing always works. I think, as I understand it, the registrar may require a person, even the first time, to take part in an alcohol rehabilitation program and, for sure, you are going to have to take it if you are caught the second time.

There is no question in my mind, Madam Speaker, that we have come a long way with drinking and driving. I don't think there is a member in this House, or people we represent, that attitudes have not been changed over the years. I think we have recognized that no longer will drinking and driving be tolerated, because when that happens, there are so many times when we pick up the newspaper, or hear in the news, where somebody has been killed, due to somebody drinking and driving. If they had not been drinking and driving, maybe that life would have been saved. So I have no difficulty with this.

[Page 2362]

I am glad that it indicates in here that the Drug Dependency will design the program. I don't think often enough, Madam Speaker, that we give the Drug Dependency the kind of credit it deserves. I know, as my experience in the Department of Health, one of the areas that was sort of off by itself, but connected to the department, was Drug Dependency. Those people, along with all those counsellors and a lot of volunteers, run some very excellent programs, second to none anywhere, probably, in the world.

They have kept up to date on the types of program, whether it be the 28 day program, which has great success, but always, the 28 day program, unfortunately, does not work for everybody. Sometimes when I pick up the newspaper and find that somebody has been convicted for about the tenth time, or the fifth time, for drinking and driving or driving without a license and drinking and driving, even though their license has been suspended, I have no difficulty in us making sure that we give the person the opportunity for rehabilitation, but, barring that, we have to do something to keep those people off the highways. If rehabilitation does not work, then we have go further through the courts

I do not like to always see people do jail time but sometimes that is our only recourse after trying to work with these people on trying to deal with their problem with alcohol. I know it is an illness and I know that for those who are not afflicted by this illness, it is easy for us to say that maybe these programs ought to work. I know it is difficult for these people, but they get behind the wheel knowing that something could happen. I think we had a case where a guy was just convicted down in the Digby area and he said in the court what an idiot he was. I think that that is true, Madam Speaker. We all know after the fact that we should not have done it. I think that if people know the penalty and the risk they are taking and that we will be tough with them it will deter, hopefully, many of those people from getting behind the wheel after having a drink.

One other section that I might just say a few words on is the section where a peace officer or motor vehicle inspector may detain a commercial vehicle when they are on a highway such as the old highway that the toll road is through the Wentworth Valley. You would have to produce your bill of lading. In other words you have got to have local delivery. We have these motor vehicle inspectors and we have peace officers. Hopefully, they work closely together, but I do not really know. I have often wondered - and I wondered this when I was Minister of Transportation, if there was not some way that we could have our traffic police and - in other words, do we need some duplication? I recognize the fact and I would be the first to admit that motor vehicle inspectors are well trained in the area regarding transport trucks and the safety aspect. I will meet a car and then I will meet the police officer going right behind him practically and I am wondering if there is some way it would not make more sense that the police officer doing traffic patrol could be a lot more versatile and deal with these issues as well. Maybe they could not be, but we do have, obviously, some duplication in that area.

[Page 2363]

There is no question, with the weigh stations, they are so important. I think we have very well trained people in that area, that trucks must stop at the weigh stations and I know that the majority of the trucking industry, Madam Speaker, is worried about safety. Occasionally you may run across somebody who is not, but I think that what we have to understand is that we are always sort of taking a brush and painting everybody because somebody may not have been as safety conscious as somebody else. I think the trucking industry in this province does take a responsible approach because it is to their advantage to have their trucks in good running order and to make sure that they are safety conscious because when that truck is down or if an accident occurs, it obviously costs that trucking firm a great deal of money.

Madam Speaker, I will be supporting Bill No. 28 to go on to Law Amendments. I am hoping before we get it back here in Committee of the Whole House that I will fully understand a little bit more about the speed limit, the rationale of why and where it is going to apply and how this might affect other highways. I think that if I knew that, Madam Speaker, I could be better equipped to decide whether in that section I want to support that because there are some cautions that we ought to be concerned about that I think are very real. As long as we can approach it in that manner, then I think we may get total support. It will be interesting to see if anyone comes before the Law Amendments Committee who share any of the concerns that some of us have with regard to this legislation.

So with that, Madam Speaker, I look forward to moving this bill on and hearing the minister when he summarizes in second reading.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to offer some remarks relative to Bill No. 28. Perhaps I have rather less to say about the speed limit matter than some of the previous speakers but there are a couple of clauses and principles established in the legislation which I do want to address because I think they are of fundamental importance.

The Minister of Transportation and Public Works will be aware, and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General who is present this evening as well, will be aware as well that there is a concern growing in the province relative to the operation of motor vehicles by those under the influence of alcohol and, more to the point, the penalties or the provisions which relate to what happens to people who are convicted of certain offences while operating or having care and control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

In light of the provisions set out in the legislation in the bill before us, Madam Speaker, relative to the process through which a person whose license has been suspended will have to proceed in order to have the license reinstated, I want, with your indulgence and the indulgence of colleagues, to make reference to a couple of situations and, in particular, a

[Page 2364]

situation which occurs by operation of the Criminal Code of Canada. Before you jump at me and say, hold it now, we are not here to debate the Criminal Code of Canada, we are here to debate the Motor Vehicle Act, I agree. But, with respect, I think that the references that I will make are appropriate and relevant and are referable back to the provisions set out in the legislation.

This legislation purports to set out provisions whereby the Registrar of Motor Vehicles can, ". . . require a person whose license has been suspended pursuant to Section 279A to participate in an alcohol rehabilitation program . . .", and so on.

Well, if you look, Madam Speaker, at what this legislation purports to do, and if I can just follow my own hen scratches through this and relate it here, the present legislation which we purport in this bill to amend and, in particular Section 67(11), what we propose to do here is to amend a legal principle that says that, "The Registrar may require that a person whose driver's license has been revoked for an alcohol related driving offence . . .", or has been suspended pursuant to Section 279A, to participate in an alcohol rehabilitation program and so on.

The relevance of the Criminal Code implications here, Madam Speaker, and through you to the minister, is that when you read Section 67(12), which immediately follows the section which the minister purports or proposes to amend here, we find out what an alcohol related offence is. We have a section headed, "'alcohol related offence' defined". "In this Section, 'alcohol related offence' means an offence under sections 253, 254, 255 or 259 of the Criminal Code (Canada).".

So what we are really saying or what the minister would have the law of Nova Scotia say is that the Registrar can require a person who has had his driver's license revoked for an offence against, and I am going to zero in on Section 255 of the Criminal Code of Canada, reading these two together you read, the Registrar, our provincial Registrar can require that anybody whose driver's license has been revoked by reason of a contravention of Section 255 of the Criminal Code of Canada shall participate in such alcohol rehabilitation program and so on and so on.

[8:00 p.m.]

The relevance of all of that, Madam Speaker, is this, if one reads Section 255 of the Criminal Code of Canada which is referenced in the section which we are proposing to amend here, we find this kind of language, we find that Section 255 of the Criminal Code of Canada sets out the "Punishment - Impaired driving causing bodily harm - Impaired driving causing death - references previous convictions and it talks about conditional discharge. It says in Section 255(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada that every one, and think about this, "Every one who commits an offence under paragraph 253(a) . . ." and I will come back to that in a moment, well, let's go to it right now. Section 253 says, if you commit an offence under the

[Page 2365]

Criminal Code of Canada, "Every one commits an offence who operates a motor vehicle or vessel or operates or assists in the operation of an aircraft or of railway equipment or has the care or control of a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or railway equipment, whether it is in motion or not, (a) while the person's ability to operate the vehicle, vessel, aircraft or railway equipment is impaired by alcohol or a drug; or (b) having consumed alcohol in such a quantity that the concentration in the person's blood exceeds eighty milligrams of alcohol in one hundred millilitres of blood.", the famous .08 blood alcohol count.

So, Section 255(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada says that, "Every one who commits an offence under paragraph 253(a) . . .", the care and control while impaired or in excess of .08 ". . . and thereby causes bodily harm to any other person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment not exceeding ten years.". Pretty serious stuff. A person who is impaired and has the care, control or operation of a motor vehicle and does bodily harm to another person is found guilty, that person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years. I might say at this point parenthetically, unfortunately this section does not provide a minimum penalty but it does provide a maximum and that is a relevant consideration, unfortunately.

Section 255(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada says, "Every one who commits an offence under paragraph 253(a) . . ." and back to care and control or operation of a motor vehicle while impaired or over .08, " . . . and thereby causes the death of any other person . . .", a pretty, serious, tragic event, impaired, loaded, behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, not able to exercise prudent judgment, not able to have the appropriate care and control of a motor vehicle and kills another human being, that person under Section 255(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada, " . . . is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.". Again I repeat, unfortunately, some will argue, this section does not provide a minimum sentence, it provides a maximum and that becomes relevant.

Then we come to Section 255(5) which is referenced here by implication in what the minister wants us to do here in this amendment to our Provincial Motor Vehicle Act and then we come to Section 255(5) of the Criminal Code of Canada and it says, "Notwithstanding subsection 736(1) . . .", and I can tell you that Section 736(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada says, "Where an accused, other than a corporation . . .", so an individual, somebody other than a corporate entity, " . . . pleads guilty to or is found guilty of an offence, other than an offence for which a minimum punishment is prescribed . . .", and hence my references a few minutes ago to the difficulty that the earlier Sections in 255 set out maximums and not minimums, where an accused or individual, you or I or any individual, " . . . pleads guilty to or is found guilty of an offence, other than an offence for which a minimum punishment is prescribed by law or an offence punishable, in the proceedings commenced against him, by imprisonment for fourteen years or for life, the court before which he appears may, if it considers it to be in the best interests of the accused . . .".

[Page 2366]

Now, we are talking about offences, Madam Speaker, in which we have a man or a woman behind the wheel of a motor vehicle who has seriously injured another human being and/or we are talking about a man or a woman behind the wheel of a car who has killed another human being. Here we have a clause which says, because there isn't any minimum penalty prescribed, where that accused is in front of the court and in the proceedings commenced against him, ". . . the court before which he appears may, if it considers it to be in the best interests of the accused . . .", to say nothing, mind you, of the deceased or the badly injured or maimed, or the husband, wife, children, other family of the person seriously injured or killed, ". . . and not contrary to the public interest, instead of convicting the accused, by order direct that the accused be discharged absolutely or on the conditions prescribed in a probation order.".

We have a situation, if we apply the laws of our country and of our province and they, in this context, run in tandem, where, as I have just indicated, the operation of the criminal code, referenced as it is in the bill which is before us here tonight, has the unfortunate and many will argue, the unseemly effect, of making it possible that a man or a woman can get behind the wheel of a vehicle, be impaired by alcohol or a drug, to the point where they do not have the ability to control that vehicle and they can operate that vehicle on the highways of Nova Scotia, whether they are going on a 110 kilometres per hour twinned highway or any other highway, and seriously injure or maim another person or, God forbid, kill another person and we have a provision which says that the court, if it considers it in the public interest and in the best interests of the accused, can then set up a process whereby a conviction will not be entered and the person who perpetrated the crime will be then referred to some form of rehabilitation process.

The relevance of me raising that in the context of the debate here on Bill No. 28, Madam Speaker is simply this, it is possible that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, in concert with the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General, could respond to representations made to them directly and, if I may say so, made to them with my assistance on behalf of MADD and MADD has already been referenced here in debate by others. MADD is, as you know, an organization entitled Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Nova Scotia has said to the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General and, I think, I may be mistaken, but if they haven't, I say it for them tonight to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, that there is a step which is able to be taken in the context of what we are debating tonight which I believe, and certainly MADD believes is in the long-term best interests of having people understand that you simply do not go out, get yourself impaired by alcohol or a drug, get behind the wheel and have the care and control of a vehicle and maim or kill another person and then have the opportunity, frankly, if I may say so, to have - notoriety in press and otherwise aside - to have a relatively modest penalty imposed whereby the court is then able to say we will not enter a conviction, but we will ensure that you, accused, are referred to an alcohol rehabilitation process.

[Page 2367]

In some cases, Madam Speaker, somebody's little boy or girl has been killed. Somebody's husband or wife has been killed, somebody's grandparent has been killed, a member of somebody's extended family has been killed, they have been maimed, they have been struck down so that they are a paraplegic or a quadriplegic or God forbid, a virtual vegetable for the rest of their lives and we have a law here now by reason of the fact that, we as a province, have proclaimed a particular provision of the Criminal Code of Canada which makes it possible for the perpetrator of that result to end up being told by the court, well, we think it is in the interest of the accused and we think it is not contrary to the public interest that you accused, notwithstanding the fact that the section which you have contravened says that there is a maximum penalty in one case of 10 years, in the other case, a maximum penalty of 14 years, we think that you really should not incur any jail time and we are going to not enter a conviction against you and make an order that requires you to be subjected to some alcohol rehabilitation treatment.

It is interesting to note that Section 255(5) of the Criminal Code of Canada is in place in the Province of Nova Scotia and, if I may say, it is in place in the Provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, by reason of the fact that provincial governments in those jurisdictions have uttered a proclamation saying that it shall apply in their jurisdictions. Equally interesting to note, I think, that Section 255(5) is not proclaimed in certain places in this country and it is not proclaimed in British Columbia, Ontario, Newfoundland or the Province of Quebec.

Now sometimes when the question of the proclamation of Section 255(5) of the Criminal Code of Canada is considered and there has been an argument that has raged to some extent in some places and on some occasions across this country that the non-proclamation of Section 255(5) is in certain jurisdictions and its proclamation in other jurisdictions somehow contravenes the Charter of Rights because there is not equity or similarity, my words are not right, but equal application of Section 255(5) across the country.

As the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General will be aware as the consequence of a letter which I wrote to him on October 31st in regard to this very issue, I pointed out to him in that communication that sometimes this argument is made, but that there are a number of cases and for the record I would quote them, R. vs Van Vliet (1988), 45 C.C.C., (3d) 481 British Columbia Court of Appeal; R. vs Hamilton (1986), 54 C.R. (3d) 193 C.C.C. (3d), 257 Ontario Court Appeal and leave to appeal was refused 1987, 56 C.R. (3d) Supreme Court of Canada; and referenced R. vs Ellsworth (1988), 46 C.C.C. (3d) 442 Quebec Superior Court; R. vs Schneider (1986), 43 M.V.R. 223 Saskatchewan Court of Appeal; and finally, R. vs Alton (1989), 74 C.R. (3d) 124, 53 C.C.C., (3d) 252 Ontario Court of Appeal.

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, is it your intention to continue through references to case law throughout this debate on the principle of the bill in second reading or are you going to draw this around to your debate on the principle of the bill?

[Page 2368]

MR. DONAHOE: My response, Madam Speaker, is that what I thought I was doing and forgive me if it is a little bit technical, I thought I was doing by making reference to the cases which I have just now cited and felt it appropriate to have those citations on the record was to offer those cases in support of the concern that I raise about the principle of the bill.

A part of the principle of the bill has the effect of allowing Section 255(5) of the Criminal Code of Canada to continue to stand and to function. I am simply making the point and the plea that on the occasion of our debate here of Bill No. 28, where we have an opportunity to take a very serious and, frankly, if I may so, a more effective assault on a response to those in our province who will operate vehicles while impaired and while under the influence of alcohol or drug, resulting in injury or death to others on or near the roads of the Province of Nova Scotia, we have the opportunity in this bill to do exactly that.

I simply want to take this opportunity to ensure, and I am going to vote for the bill to go to second reading, but I am going to vote for it on the basis, and I trust, I have no way of knowing, that the minister who sponsors the bill now and the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General would feel it sufficiently worthwhile to take a look at the remarks which I have made and make reference to the Criminal Code of Canada, as I have, because the very clauses of the Criminal Code of Canada, Madam Speaker, to which I have referred, are referenced in the bill which is before us. I am simply saying that it is possible for both of those ministers, in concert, as this bill goes forward to the Law Amendments Committee, to do far better for all of us in Nova Scotia, relative to people who have been convicted of offences while operating motor vehicles on the highways of Nova Scotia, or having care and control of motor vehicles in the Province of Nova Scotia while under the influence of alcohol or drug.

I have a tendency, as you are aware, Madam Speaker, of perhaps not having the capacity to make my point very clearly and perhaps I have not done that in this instance and, if that is the case, I apologize to you and those members who have had to put up with me the last few minutes on this point. But the legislation, as I have indicated, the bill which is before us, raising as it does in Section 67(11) of the Motor Vehicle Act leads us inexorably to Section 67(12) of the Motor Vehicle Act because there is a phrase used in Section 67(11) which has no meaning unless you go to Section 67(12) of the current Motor Vehicle Act and when you go to Section 67(12), you are referenced immediately to offences under Sections 253, 254, 255 or 259 of the Criminal Code of Canada and, hence, my references to Section 255. My pitch, my plea, that the minister who sponsors this bill, in concert with the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General, would take a look at the situation whereby Section 255(5) of the Criminal Code of Canada was proclaimed to be the law in the Province of Nova Scotia. As I indicated a moment ago, it is the law in a number of provinces; it is not the law in British Columbia, Ontario, Newfoundland and Quebec.

[Page 2369]

So the point I try to make, Madam Speaker, is that as a consequence or through this bill, we have the opportunity to get to the point where in the future in the Province of Nova Scotia it will no longer be possible for the impaired driver who offends against Section 255(2) or 255(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada, it will no longer be possible for those who are convicted of offences against those provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada to either maim or seriously injure or kill with a motor vehicle, while impaired, and yet have as their only penalty the reference of them, or being referenced or ordered to undertake a form of alcohol or drug rehabilitation. It occurs to me that if we are maiming and killing people on the highways, a period of time in drug rehabilitation is hardly a sufficient penalty, I think it is one that should be looked at and it can be looked at.

I noticed with interest, Madam Speaker, that when I took this matter up with the current Minister of Justice's predecessor, I got a letter back from him indicating that it would be preferable - Ms. Dutton, referring to one of the persons involved with MADD, has also set out other concerns relating to drunk driving, including the sentencing process - it would be preferable for her organization to make their representation directly to the federal government on these matters.

Well, with respect, the answer is available to us here, in the Ministry of Justice, in concert with the Department of Transportation and Public Works.

So, with apologies for that being a little bit technical and I hope not overly convoluted - with any luck it might read better than it sounded - I make those remarks with the sincere hope that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and the Minister of Justice will have a look and determine whether or not, as we address an amendment to Section 67(11) of the Motor Vehicle Act, which we do in Clause 2 of the bill before us, Bill No. 28, that they will understand that a reference to Section 67(11), by implication means a reference to Section 255 of the Criminal Code of Canada, that there are results possible under Section 255 of the Criminal Code of Canada which, in the opinion of many, including MADD, do not respond in any way adequately to the severity of the offences contemplated in Section 255 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

I am simply, on second reading of this bill, asking those ministers to take a very serious look at whether or not a recision of the proclamation, here in the Province of Nova Scotia, of Section 255(5) of the Criminal Code of Canada is seriously undertaken.

Further, as I indicated, Madam Speaker, I was not intending to make remarks of any consequence or length relative to the 110 kilometres as opposed to the 100 kilometres. Virtually everything pro and con that can be said about that has been said. I do want to address a principle that is set out, Madam Speaker, in Clause 4 of this Bill No. 28. The principle set out there is that it is possible, if the proposed amendment set out in Clause 4, which would be the addition of a new Clause 196(a) to the Motor Vehicle Act. That establishes the principle that a peace officer can stop and detain a commercial motor vehicle

[Page 2370]

for the purpose of determining whether a by-law made pursuant to Section 194, or a regulation made pursuant to Section 195 under the Motor Vehicle Act has been contravened and for that purpose may require the operator of the vehicle to produce a bill of lading or other document.

Well, we are not here to debate clause by clause, and I understand that and I know that, but there is a principle here. The principle is that any peace officer may at any time detain a commercial motor vehicle for the purpose of determining whether some law has been broken. What I want to say to the minister and I trust will be said, and if nobody else does, I will at Law Amendments, I would like to suggest that it only makes sense, in the opinion of many at least, that this clause surely has to impose some obligation on the peace officer.

The obligation on the peace officer, and I am talking Clause 4, surely must be that the peace officer has some reasonable and probable ground to believe that one or other of the referenced by-laws has been breached. Without imposing upon the peace officer some obligation that he or she have some reasonable or probable ground to believe that there has been a breach of one or other of those regulations, I am not saying this is going to happen, but it sets up the unseemly possibility or potentiality of any and every peace officer for whatever reason, whim or otherwise, stopping any commercial motor vehicle at any time at any place and putting the operator of that motor vehicle who, in the overwhelming majority of cases will be conducting himself or herself in complete compliance with Section 194, the by-laws pursuant to Section 194 or any regulation made pursuant to Section 195, will have a bill of lading.

For the peace officer without any obligation to have some reason to stop the man or woman operating that commercial motor vehicle, prompts me to think that that is a little bit heavy-handed. I simply say to the minister that as we move this on to second reading, that I ask him to seriously consider with his colleagues and officials the possibility that we refine this principle. I do not take objection at all. That is what peace officers are there for and that is what the by-laws pursuant to Section 194 and regulations made pursuant to Section 195 are all about. That is why they are there. They are there for a purpose.

But frankly, for a peace officer, any peace officer, at any time, without having to establish if questioned that he or she had reasonable or probable ground to believe that one or other of those by-laws or sections might be contravened to detain, to require production of bills of lading and so on, seems to me, frankly, to be a little bit - more than a little hit - heavy handed. I think that principle is a dangerous one and one which the minister can, if he is so minded, soften and soften greatly - not emasculate, and not change or alter in such a way as to make it impossible that the police officer cannot effectively do his or her work - but can bring what I consider to be some greater degree of fairness and equity and, if I may say so, sanity to the work of the peace officer.

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[8:30 p.m.]

Madam Speaker, I would thank you and all colleagues for your indulgence in listening to the remarks which I have made relative to this bill. I will vote for the bill for no other reason than I think it should go forward to the Law Amendments Committee. I say again and say as seriously and as vigorously as I can to the sponsoring minister that he take a look, if he will, at the references which I have made to the Criminal Code provisions and to Clause 4, the question or suggestion that there be some reasonable and probable ground for the peace officer to detain the commercial operator and to require the production of the bill of lading and so on.

The various principles in the bill are not terribly unreasonable but without some change and refinement are in their application potentially unreasonable and open to possible abuse. I urge the minister to give some serious consideration to what I have said in regard to the Criminal Code matters and to Clause 4 and I leave it to him to consider remarks made by others relative to the speed limit issue, upon which I will make no comment at this point. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. BRUCE HOLLAND: Madam Speaker, I will keep my comments brief, contrary to the member for Halifax Citadel's comments. I am glad that he agrees to a degree with the principle involved in Clause 4, because there were many references, both by the minister in his introduction and by some of the other members who spoke, to the Hammonds Plains Road and the problems that exist in that area, part of which is in my riding and part in Sackville-Beaverbank.

Most of that road now is a highly residential area, with literally thousands of houses and, perhaps, tens of thousands of residents. They are experiencing a difficulty with truck traffic that goes from Highway No. 102 across to Highway No. 103. It is designated as local road traffic only under the regulations and we are not sure, in all cases, that that is what is occurring. So I have experienced a tremendous number of calls and complaints in relation to the truck traffic on that road and the congestion of the traffic. Although there are some changes being made to the road, which I am thankful to the minister for, there is a problem in regard to local trucks. I would like to support that principle in the bill and rise today in my place to support the minister in that effort.

In regards to the other issues in the bill, in particular the member for Halifax Citadel makes reference to the clause regarding the length of - I am not sure. The more I hear it, the more I listened to his speech, the more I think the papers may know more than some of the rest of us do in relation to his aspirations for federal politics, because it is obvious that he really wants to have the Criminal Code of Canada amended and he is trying to do that by way of this particular bill and I think it gave him an opportunity to say a few words.

[Page 2372]

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, it is clear one member did not understand what I said.

MR. HOLLAND: I understood all too well. I question your motives, that is all.

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, I will have to caution you not to impute motives in this discussion.

MR. HOLLAND: I would like to add my support once again and, having said my piece in relation to how it directly affects me and the people that I represent, I will take my place and say to the minister and to the House that I will be supporting the bill. Thank you.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I will try to follow with the same level of coherence and brevity that the member for Timberlea-Prospect showed. I don't think that will be an easy task but I will do my best.

On Bill No. 28, Madam Speaker, much has been said. Many of the points raised by earlier speakers I think covered some of the issues that I wanted to deal with but I will touch them again briefly myself, just to make sure that I, perhaps if nothing else, have worked through the issues a little more clearly and, therefore, will be in a better position to debate this bill at the Committee of the Whole House stage, where we go clause by clause.

The two issues really are the whole question of the increase in the speed limits on twinned highways, on the one, and the whole question of how the government will be tougher and more responsible, I think, in dealing with the whole question of drunk drivers. I applaud one, I applaud the latter, and I am somewhat confused about the intent of the former.

Let me deal, first of all, with the whole question of speed limits. One has to wonder when, early in 1995 the government introduced changes to the Motor Vehicle Act which provided more clarity on the whole question of speed limits and, in fact, introduced the whole term, absolute, into the enforcement of speed limits, with the purpose, as I understood it, from the Minister of Transportation at the time, the whole idea was to control speed, to try and get a handle on it, to reduce speed. Because there is a tendency, I think, I have noticed it on the highway, as I sort of plug along and people go roaring by me at well past the speed limit, that there is a tendency to exceed the speed limit, by whether it be 5 or 10 kilometres a hour. There does seem to be a tendency by the travelling public to exceed the speed limit, especially on the major highways.

So the idea of the changes in 1995 were to try to control that, to introduce absolute and, therefore, to give the police who are trying to enforce the law, giving them an opportunity to try to get a handle on it, to slow people down, in effect. Then, a year later, here we have a new Minister of Transportation and Public Works, nonetheless, but still a

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member of the same government and surely we are not going to get two completely opposing views from successive Transportation Ministers. But now we have this idea that, well it seems like this idea, that while people drive 100 kilometres anyway, so why don't we just increase the speed limit to 110 kilometres. What is the sense in that?

I have read a couple of editorials and one, in particular, that I reviewed says here that anyone who travels any 100-Series Highway in Nova Scotia, twinned or not, knows that travelling the posted speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour usually means being left behind in a could of exhaust or being the unwanted leader of an edgy pack of cars, trucks, tractor trailers and so on. Putting the speed limit to 110 kilometres per hour merely makes legal the speed that many of the slower travellers use now.

Madam Speaker, I think that misses the point, that just because people are breaking the speed limit, are breaking the law, doesn't mean that you increase it. It is like, you know you make the argument against the legalization of marijuana and that is based on the same premises and the government is not accepting that argument. So why would we be moving this way?

Now some people have offered another explanation of why the government would be participating in this kind of argument, nonsensical argument; that is, that the company that is in complete care and control of the new twinned highway, the new Highway No. 104 diversion, is trying to attract more cars and more trucks to that highway in order to run them through the toll booths. There has been concern expressed. You will remember, perhaps, back when some of the original consultant reports were done on the diversion project, those consultants suggested that unless you either close off the highway that is there now, unless you position the tolls in such a way that you can catch all of the traffic, there is not going to be enough traffic going through the tolls to provide them with sufficient revenue, Madam Speaker.

So the government backed off in terms of where it is going to put the tolls, but what they have done in another way is to try to bring more traffic onto the highway by supposedly making it more attractive by increasing the speed limit. I must say that I join with those who have raised some concerns about it. I have seen reports, Madam Speaker, about a decision in California to take off the posted speed limits and that in fact contributed to more highway fatalities. Surely that is not what we wish to do here in Nova Scotia. In fact, the report that I saw says that deadly car crashes climbed more than 17 per cent in the first 11 weeks after the U.S. government ended the 55 miles per hour speed limit. Surely that is not what the goal is here.

I have seen a report from a very experienced trucker who said, from some of my experience from travelling, in some years 100,000 miles, I have seen a few accidents and I will tell you, the faster you go, if you do have a mishap, the greater the intensity of the accident. Of course, Madam Speaker, if you have not heard that before, that is from our very own Tory

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MLA, Brooke Taylor, a former truck driver. I understand that that member has some considerable experience travelling the highways and byways of Canada and the United States and undoubtedly he has seen a few pretty serious accidents. That anecdotal evidence compares very favourably with studies which have shown that with increased speed you have increased damage, you have increased injury and increased percentage of fatalities. That is the evidence. That is the clear evidence that results from this whole question of increasing speed. On that basis alone it seems to me that we should be trying to slow traffic down as the former Minister of Transportation did last year with his changes to the Motor Vehicle Act. We should be trying to slow people down, not give them reason to speed up. Surely that is not in the best interests of drivers in this province.

I have heard people say that twinned highways are the safest, they are very safe and there are not going to be the same kinds of accidents. Yet I have seen reports that suggest that the strip from Truro to Halifax, that twinned highway, is a very dangerous stretch of highway. No, you may not get head-on collisions, but because of the weather and because of the increased speed, you are getting some very significant accidents along that stretch of highway, Mr. Speaker. So it cannot be suggested that simply because you do not have oncoming traffic, then all of a sudden it is going to be much safer. I think the opposite in some cases is true. You have people becoming more complacent, driving at faster speeds.

I heard one of the members earlier talk about how sometimes it can be quite pleasant. You drive from the country into the city in the morning, especially in the summertime, you could be driving along and you do some business if you have a car phone and this kind of thing. That is exactly the problem that we are getting on some of these superhighways. You know, you have these people driving along at 110 kilometres, 150 kilometres, 120 kilometres per hour, they have got the phone stuck in their ear and they have got the radio on and they are flipping along. The last thing they are paying attention to are the driving conditions. Somebody pulls out in front of them and there you have it and, at 110 kilometres, 120 kilometres, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that the damage is something that we do not want to see in this province.

[8:45 p.m.]

Again, there is the other issue of increased gas consumption and pollution and, certainly, as we are going to see with the BST, the cost of gasoline is going to continue to increase for the average consumer and yet here we are encouraging increasing speed. Mr. Speaker, it doesn't make sense at all to me. So that part of the bill, let me just say that I don't understand the intent, I don't agree with the intent and I think that that part of it should be just yanked right out of the bill entirely.

The other piece of the legislation which deals with the whole question of alcohol and driving, Mr. Speaker, I think makes some considerable sense where it talks about requiring a person whose license has been suspended to participate in an alcohol rehabilitation program

[Page 2375]

before that person's license is reinstated. I think that makes considerable sense and that is something that I would certainly agree with. Also, the question of when a person's license has been revoked, that before it can be reinstated, the driver must attend an interview with a person designated by the Drug Dependency Services Division of the Department of Health.

Again, a responsible approach, simply acknowledging, I think, we have seen in this province more than enough examples of people who have had their licenses revoked time and time again as a result of alcohol-related offences and it just doesn't seem to get through. The point doesn't seem to ever be made. I think what we are doing is we are risking, by continuing to allow that person to continue to drive, what we are doing is we are basically participating in allowing or condoning somebody to continue to drive and put other Nova Scotians at risk and that certainly does not make sense. So I would certainly support, as I believe my caucus colleagues have, that initiative, which would make it much more responsible.

Mr. Speaker, what I intend to do is to vote in support of the legislation going forward to the Law Amendments Committee. I look forward to hearing representations on those issues that I have raised and, undoubtedly, other issues that may come up from people who are concerned and interested in this legislation. Then I will do my utmost, as I know other members of this Legislature will, to try to deal with those parts of the legislation that I think are wrong and need to be corrected when the bill reaches the Committee of the Whole House on Bills stage. Hopefully, those changes can be achieved through reasonable and responsible debate by members of this Legislature and by some responsiveness on the part of government and the minister responsible. We have seen evidence of that in the past, little bits and pieces of that kind of receptiveness to change on the part of government ministers and I hope that we will also see it in this case.

So let me say in conclusion that, as my colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid and my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview have mentioned, I have some considerable concerns about the idea of increasing the speed limit on our twinned highways. It is folly of us to believe that twinned highways are suddenly safe and that we can go as fast as want on them. I think in Nova Scotia we recognize that with our weather, in particular, that is simply not the case, and for other reasons that is not the case. I agree with my colleagues that the provisions with respect to alcohol related offences and how the Motor Vehicle Department will respond when people lose their license as a result of those offences is extremely appropriate and we will certainly be voting in support of those sections.

Again, during the Committee of the Whole House on Bills stage, I hope we can make some changes to this bill to make it a responsible piece of legislation before it leaves this House. Thank you very much.

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

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great privilege to stand here tonight before this House to say a few words about Bill No. 28 and certainly, to talk about the speed limits that are incurred on the twinned highways of the Province of Nova Scotia, twinned highways, I might add, that I look forward to being twinned right to North Sydney so the people who are travelling on these highways can go from one end of our great province to the other on a divided highway so that they will be able to travel more safely.

There has been considerable debate about whether or not we should increase our speeds. I have given it a great deal of thought and I have travelled on these divided highways on a number of occasions and I will tell you that there is a worry in my mind because we are going to go from 100 kilometres an hour to 110 kilometres. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I travel at 110 kilometres all the time on those highways like many other people do. We have to wonder, is this going to be a policy where it is absolute or is there still going to be a tolerance and are people now going to travel at 120 kilometres per hour? Is that a bigger and better highway or is that a safety concern? It is a concern that was raised here tonight by many members. If we are going to be travelling faster, is there more opportunity for accidents?

The other thing we have to consider with this new bill and this new speed limit is the effect it is going to have on our non-renewable energy resources. It is a well-known fact that the faster you drive the more energy you burn up and the more costs we are going to have. Where this government is going to be taxing us extra for gasoline and diesel oil when they use the new BS Tax then I have to wonder whether this is a good or bad thing.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid wonders what about a coal-fired car and if indeed we could have something like that it would be a boost for the industry of coal mining on Cape Breton Island and anything that is a boost for the coal mining industry on Cape Breton Island I would be 100 per cent in favour of.

Getting back to a more serious note, the probabilities of us having a coal-fired car on the highways of Nova Scotia in the next number of years are probably a little minute. But I will say if the policies of this government continue we will probably all be going around in a horse and wagon because we won't be able to afford to buy a car or put gas or oil in it but that is not what this bill is about. I am going to bring myself back to where we should be talking and that is about the speed limit because we won't have any horses that will go 110 kilometres per hour and certainly, the member for Kings West can't find one of those.

The Minister of Agriculture says that he saw one in the community pasture of Marion Bridge and I might add that the highway to Marion Bridge does need some improvements because it too is not allowed to have traffic of 110 kilometres and it is not even safe to drive 70 kilometres an hour on that road. I am sure that the Minister of Transportation, when he

[Page 2377]

finishes twinning the highways to Cape Breton Island and then on to North Sydney, we will then be looking at all of the side roads in Cape Breton West that need the attention of the Department of Transportation and I thank him for that in advance. I know, I can see it in his eyes that is going to happen before the day is over. (Interruption) If they elect any more Liberals on the Island it will sink but that is another story again.

Let us get back to the more serious business of this bill. The member for Halifax Atlantic says you can't get much more serious than Cape Breton sinking and I couldn't agree with him more. As a matter of fact, that is one of the reasons I am here, acting a little bit as a life float to keep the Island afloat until we have the opportunity to go to the polls. (Interruption) But pound for pound, Mr. Speaker, I would be their best bet, and that I should hold the member for Lunenburg Centre for now.

Mr. Speaker, I know right now that we are having a little fun and some of it is at my expense and I don't mind that, but this business about increasing the speed limit should be taken a little more seriously. We are talking about increasing the speed limit but nobody has really come out with the idea of why we are doing it.

What is the real reason behind this? Some people have said that it might be just to help the consortium. I hope that is not the fact; I hope the fact of it is that we are here doing what we think is best and proper.

I wonder, is it going to continue to all parts of the highway or is it just the tolled part of the highway? That is one of the parts of the question that I am sure the minister will address when he is summing up on this bill.

The second part of this bill talks about attendance at an alcohol rehabilitation program for those drivers whose licenses have been suspended for a first time for a drunk driving offence. I personally believe, Mr. Speaker, that was one of the better parts of this bill and, if for no other reason, I would be voting for this bill because of that clause. If there is one thing that we should not take lightly it is people who drive when they are drinking. There are many families and many members of this House whose families have been touched by the effects of a drunk driver. We cannot put any type of program in place that is strong enough to discourage that, in my opinion. We want to be sure that the roads are safe for our children and our parents and our brothers and sisters and our neighbours.

This may help, but we have to be sure that this program is enforced. We have to be sure that the right regulations are put in place with this program, Mr. Speaker, so that it has some teeth and it is not just a piece of paper that we pass in this House and it is going to gather dust on some shelf.

Mr. Speaker, with those few words I will take my place, and I thank you for this opportunity.

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MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works to close the debate on this bill, are there further speakers?

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, and members of the House, I appreciate very much the sincere effort that was made by everyone, here tonight and on Friday, for bringing forward their concerns and their support of Bill No. 28; for that, I am very appreciative.

The member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley certainly brought forward a number of issues, one of which was a question regarding motor vehicle inspection, comparing 1992 to 1996. The member is obviously not here this evening, but I would like to inform him that is now under the Ministry of Business and Consumer Services. I am sure that the member and minister responsible would be happy to respond to those questions later and will bring forward the issues.

The member had talked quite extensively about the western alignment and I did appreciate very much his very positive comments about the need for the Highway No. 104 western alignment and the fact that it is a good highway, it is a safe highway and it is an important highway, as it is important to be able to move our goods and services to and from our businesses to the market place. His very positive comments were certainly very pleasing to my ears and to other members of this House, his comments earlier on Friday.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is onside.

MR. DOWNE: He is obviously onside is right. He did mention a little bit about the concern of the speed and today I had the pleasure of going and complimenting the first 10 official members or people who travelled over the Glenholme By-pass integral abutment structure, one of the first in the history of the Province of Nova Scotia. The 10 people, the different trucks and cars that we met at that facility, at that location this morning - or actually this afternoon - we asked them all questions about how they found Highway No. 104 and if they are excited about it.

The comments came back, 100 per cent of the people I talked to were in favour of the Highway No. 104 western alignment, were happy to see it being built because it is going to be safer, it is going to be more convenient, and it will be faster and they don't mind paying the tolls. That is what they indicated today. (Applause) So I was very enlightened, Mr. Speaker, by the very positive comments I heard from truckers, from individual citizens driving their vehicles, to that today.

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[9:00 p.m.]

The comment about the issue of safety by the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley in regard to the safety and the speed increase to 110 kilometres an hour. Defensive driving is critical. One of the big issues in accidents in the Province of Nova Scotia is the lack of defensive driving, the inability for drivers to be very alert behind the wheel at whatever speed they might travel. I would certainly mention to the members here in the House today that the importance of driving defensively is critical and safety is an issue. So many members in the House have indicated that they themselves from time to time travel at 110 kilometres an hour at a posted speed of 100 kilometres an hour. Acknowledging their guilt, acknowledging their wrongdoings in the House today is certainly not very pleasing to my ear to hear.

The fact that we are going to 110 kilometres on that particular highway allows an individual to travel at 110 kilometres. It does not make it mandatory to travel at 110 kilometres. Common sense should prevail. In a snowstorm, in fog and in bad weather we have always encouraged Nova Scotians to drive defensively, to drive with common sense and to be smart and alert due to weather conditions. Those who want to travel at 110 kilometres will be able to because that highway was built to be a safe highway. It was built and designed with the principles of being able to accommodate 110 kilometres an hour safely. I mention that to the member in his specific concerns.

He talked about the concern about the amount of asphalt and the work being done on highway activity in Nova Scotia. I want to inform the members of the House, yes, I was lobbying hard in Ottawa for additional money for transportation, as I have lobbied hard for additional money (Interruptions) I am not ashamed of the fact that we lobby the federal government for any dollars that we can get for highway activity in Nova Scotia, as all members realize the importance of a good transportation system.

I would like to inform the members of the House that this year we have laid over 715,000 tons of asphalt in Nova Scotia (Applause). Mr. Speaker, 715,000 tons of asphalt this year is more than the five year rolling average during times when those members over there would spend very little on highways and all of a sudden during peak years would spend a horrendous amount of money on highway activity, well above their budgeted, allocated amount; in fact, would spend almost two years' budget in certain years of allocating highway work. We are doing things in a much more moderate way. (Interruptions)

My colleague, in talking about referring to Hants East, is probably right. I know members that were in Antigonish, Shelburne and other areas of this province would indicate very little asphalt was laid in their constituencies for 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 years. We have tried to treat all Nova Scotians fairly under this administration and as the former Minister of Transportation would allude to, we have done it in a very systematic way.

[Page 2380]

I was disappointed by the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley's lack of discussion in regard to the whole issue of alcohol related activities while driving. I do compliment other members who have spoken very clearly about that. That is a very serious issue. Basically, under the zero tolerance factors that we brought forward under the previous minister, alcohol related accidents in the Province of Nova Scotia have reduced by about 20 per cent, saving lives and causing more people to feel safer on the highway. I wish the member opposite had really brought that forward in his deliberations.

I will compliment the member for Pictou West for his very complimentary comments and I concur with the very positive approach he has made. (Interruption) I might say, Mr. Speaker, there is always room over here for that member, as he is also one who sees the benefits of harmonization in the Province of Nova Scotia and I compliment him for his visionary ideas. (Applause)

I find it very interesting the member for Kings North obviously needed to have a little education in regard to the decorum and proper procedure on discussions in the House. I don't know if the member for Kings North has really caught on yet, but, nevertheless, we shall try to encourage him to read the proper orders and rules in the House and to keep to the debate.

I found it very interesting that Nova Scotia is the first in the history of this country to bring forward the public/private partnering of Highway No. 104. Mr. Speaker, we are the first in a lot of issues. We are the first government in this province for over 20 years that brought forward a balanced budget in the Province of Nova Scotia, which I am very proud of. That member opposite had the opportunity to do it for a number of years, talked about it, but could not perform the reality of doing it. We are the first in a lot of issues.

He mentioned that we are the first to bring forward the whole issue of the public/private partnership in Nova Scotia. That is right and I am proud of the fact that we are the first in Canada, but I can assure the members in this House, as I travelled to Ottawa just recently, in talking about this issue, members for British Columbia, members from all over Canada were very interested in this initiative because they see that this will be an initiative that will be all across this country in years to come because of the public/private partnering initiatives that were brought forward by this administration. (Interruption) I also compliment the comments of the member for Kings West, from the opposite side, one of the most focused and direct comments that we have heard tonight and I compliment that member for his words.

Why 110 kilometres? Because, Mr. Speaker, we believe 110 kilometres an hour on the western alignment will be safe and is going to be safe because the highway is built to be able to handle 110 kilometres an hour and that is very important for people to realize. Are there other highways being considered? We have other highways in Nova Scotia that are twinned. We are reviewing them and we have a set of criteria. That criteria is established, as the member opposite had indicated earlier, with the quality of staff that we have in the Department of Transportation and Public Works, for which he earlier mentioned how good

[Page 2381]

they are, how very competent they are. We will be referring that matter to them with their expertise in reviewing whether or not other areas of the province will be done. But we are building highways that are safer, that are built for the ability to go 110 kilometres an hour, with proper defensive driving behind the wheel is what is really going to be important.

He did mention, and a number of members had mentioned surfing the net in the United States of America. I found it very interesting, again, between both Parties, the Official Opposition and the Third Party. In fact, many of their comments were very similar and it was interesting that both of them were surfing the net to find out U.S. statistics. I think they can find a lot of those facts right here in Canada. They do not need to go to the United States to find out what we have been able to do.

The member for Halifax Citadel, I found very interesting. The member dealing with the Criminal Code of Canada initiatives, obviously the learned colleague who is focusing on the legal matter. I will take his comments back to have our legal counsel to interpret what he was talking about, specifically, and whether or not his many hours of study and preparation for this debate will be acknowledged through our staff and we will review it.

The member for Halifax Atlantic indicated that an increased speed means death on highways. He indicated a little bit further about the fact that the Truro highway is really a very serious highway, one that studies have indicated is unsafe. I would ask the member to table the reports that he has read in regard to that. I have not seen any report that indicated that, but I would be very encouraged if he has indicated that they have seen these reports and have studied these reports, please table them to members of the House. What I have understood is that particular twinned highway is one of the safest highways in the Province of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, and I think members of the House should be aware of that.

He indicated concerns in regard to the environment, Mr. Speaker. As many members opposite indicated, they historically travel at 110 kilometres per hour; they are now worried about the fact that the western alignment, some 45 kilometres of highway, is going to cause a problem with the environment. Well, I really don't think that is going to create a major problem when you consider that in the issue of global warming, Canada is 2 per cent of the world-wide global warming problem. So if we eliminate the difference between 100 kilometres an hour and 110 kilometres on the western alignment, it is not going to make any difference at all.

Mr. Speaker, in concluding I want to compliment the member for Cape Breton West for his very short, very specific questions. I believe I have mentioned and answered most of those comments. I will ask the question or I did make the observation about the lifeboat from Cape Breton, the dinghy protecting Cape Breton. One would have to ask the question, in listening to the debate here today, where both the Official Opposition and the Third Party were basically going back and forth on the same information, using the Internet, using the American data and so on and so forth, the question is, who is really the captain of this rubber

[Page 2382]

dinghy? Is the captain of this rubber dingy the captain of the NDP or is it the captain of the Tory Party? It is hard to distinguish between the two of them and, quite frankly, the rubber dinghy would never last in the cold Atlantic, when it comes to the way they have handled the Government of the Province of Nova Scotia or how they think they would handle the Government of the Province of Nova Scotia in the last 20 years.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I was wondering if the minister would entertain a brief question before he finishes?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: No, but I would like to move second reading of Bill No. 28.

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

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[9:13 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]

[9:57 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Wayne Gaudet, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Bills reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 2 - Securities Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment. Also, the committee begs leave to sit again.

THE SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read for a third time on a future day.

[Page 2383]

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will sit from 12:00 noon until 6:00 p.m. and following Question Period we will pick up where we left off tonight. I move that we adjourn until noon tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion for adjournment has been made. The House will rise and sit again tomorrow at 12:00 noon.

[The House rose at 9:58 p.m.]