Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Mon., Apr. 18, 1997

Fifth Session

MONDAY, APRIL 28, 1997

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Health: Park West Medical [Mainland North] - G.P. Need,
Mr. G. Fogarty 1087
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 232, Lbr. - Natl. Day of Mourning for Cdn. Workers (Apr. 28th):
Killed/Injured - Remember, Hon. Manning MacDonald 1088
Vote - Affirmative 1088
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 14, Auditor General Act/Provincial Finance Act, Dr. J. Hamm 1089
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 233, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Supply/Price Preference (N.S.) -
Demand, Dr. J. Hamm 1089
Res. 234, Lbr. - Workplace Accidents: Victims - Respect Pay,
Mr. R. Chisholm 1089
Vote - Affirmative 1090
Res. 235, Culture - Music: Soup (Pt. Hawkesbury Band) -
YTV Award Congrats., Mr. R. White 1090
Vote - Affirmative 1091
Res. 236, Educ. - HRM School Bd.: Primary Full Day -
Responsibility Take, Mr. B. Taylor 1091
Res. 237, Children's Aid Society - Auction (1997): Success - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Holm 1092
Vote - Affirmative 1092
Res. 238, Fin. - Budgets (N.S.) Balanced: Veracity -
Role (Min.) Recognize, Mr. G. Archibald 1093
Res. 239, Justice - RCMP Telecom Centre (Yarmouth): Job Losses (SW N.S.)
- Further Avoid, Dr. J. Hamm 1094
Res. 240, Nat. Res. - Protected Areas: Barren (Jim Campbell) -
Reinstatement Urge, Ms. E. O'Connell 1094
Res. 241, Justice - Sex Offenders: Release Identification -
Policy Introduce, Mr. B. Taylor 1095
Res. 242, Transport (Canada) - Hfx. Internat. Airport: Marketing
(Howard Wilson) - Efforts Acknowledge, Mr. D. McInnes 1095
Vote - Affirmative 1096
Res. 243, Health - Emer. Med. Techs.: Min. Wage Order - Amend,
Mr. R. Chisholm 1096
Res. 244, Lbr. - Workers (Cdn.): Killed/Injured - Remember,
Mr. R. Russell 1097
Vote - Affirmative 1098
Res. 245, Fin. - Expenditures (1996-97 v. 1995-96): Principles
(Acct. & Fin.) Ignored - Explain, Mr. R. Russell 1098
Res. 246, Fin. - Expenditures: Re-Prioritize - Needs (N.S.) Meet,
Mr. G. Archibald 1098
Res. 247, Nat. Res. - Devco: Privatization - Oppose, Mr. J. Holm 1099
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Ms. E. O'Connell 1100
Mr. B. Taylor 1103
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:57 P.M. 1107
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:57 P.M. 1107
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. A. Mitchell 1107
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 134, Fin. - Expenditure Add.: Health/Justice - Approval,
Hon. W. Gillis 1108
Mr. G. Moody 1108
Mr. G. Archibald 1114
Mr. J. Holm 1130
Mr. B. Taylor 1143
Hon. W. Gillis 1151
Vote - Affirmative 1153
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Apr. 29th at 12:00 p.m. 1153

[Page 1087]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, APRIL 28, 1997

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. We will proceed with the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. GERALD FOGARTY: Madam Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition which has been signed by approximately 900 residents of the area of Halifax known as Mainland North, and the vast majority of these signatories live in my riding of Halifax Bedford Basin and the neighbouring riding of Halifax Fairview. The petition reads:

". . . Park West Medical has been unable to accept new patients or meet the growing needs of the community. We are seeking to obtain another doctor to better serve you . . . We the undersigned are in full support of Park West Medical and the need for another general practitioner (G.P.).".

I table this petition, Madam Speaker, in accordance with the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House.

MADAM SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

1087

[Page 1088]

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 232

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

Whereas the flags of Province House have been lowered to recognize the National Day of Mourning for People Killed or Injured in the Workplace; and

Whereas workplace health and safety is the business of every Nova Scotian - employers, employees, families, industry and government; and

Whereas this government is committed to improving workplace health and safety rules, forming new partnerships and recognizing this day of remembrance;

Therefore be it resolved that we remember those workers who have been killed or injured in our workplace and we begin the week with a renewed commitment to creating a safer, healthier Nova Scotia.

Madam Speaker, I hereby ask for waiver of notice and I would also ask that you ask the House to rise for a moment of silence.

MADAM SPEAKER: There has been a request for unanimous consent.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

[Page 1089]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 14 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 28 of the Revised Statutes of 1989, the Auditor General Act, and Chapter 365 of the Revised Statutes of 1989, the Provincial Finance Act. (Dr. John Hamm)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 233

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

Whereas Nova Scotia has quietly surrendered all decisions and authority over the development of the offshore to the National Energy Board, including the price and supply of gas to Nova Scotians; and

Whereas in stark contrast to the aggressive role taken by the New Brunswick Government, Nova Scotia has been a silent bystander during three weeks of public hearings into the Sable Island gas project, with one participant referring to Nova Scotia's role as being that of a spectator; and

Whereas the decision to surrender all authority and control to the National Energy Board and then sit back as a quiet bystander before the joint review panel is irresponsible and sends the message that Nova Scotia does not care about lost economic opportunities or a fair price for its own gas;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government immediately and aggressively demand that Nova Scotia receive a preferential supply and price for Sable gas.

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 234

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

[Page 1090]

Whereas today, April 28th, is the National Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job, a day when Nova Scotians remember victims of workplace fatalities, uncounted deaths from industrial diseases and those who have been injured or disabled on the job; and

Whereas it should be the goal of all governments and society to ensure that no one should be expected to risk their health or their life at work; and

Whereas the Day of Mourning is a timely reminder of the terrible price that is paid when workplaces are unhealthy or dangerous;

Therefore be it resolved that this House pay its respects to those who have lost their lives and their health in the course of trying to support themselves and their families, and commit to action that will prevent such injury and illness in the future.

Madam Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 235

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's Celebration of Music was launched on April 25th of this year; and

Whereas in particular the Island of Cape Breton has contributed much to the musical culture of this province; and

Whereas the latest in a long list of Cape Breton musicians was honoured last night when the members of Soup, a Port Hawkesbury area band, received a YTV Young Achievement Award;

[Page 1091]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House add their thanks and congratulations to Claude Samson, Bob Deveau, Stephen Hughes and Chris Skinner for receiving the award and exemplifying the talent and diversity of Nova Scotia musicians.

Madam Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 236

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

Whereas the Liberal Party rose to power in May 1993 on a platform which stated they, "will excite young minds and awaken them to the joys of life-long learning"; and

Whereas the Liberal Government felt it necessary to have the needs of some 58,000 students merged under the auspices of only one school board in metro, leaving some children with a full day of classes and those in the former Halifax County-Bedford district with only one-half a day; and

Whereas based on a survey of Primary, Grade One and Grade Two teachers, the learning and social abilities of those children with only one-half day are suffering as they progress into the next grades;

Therefore be it resolved that this government take full responsibility for the difficulty the metro board faces when it answers the $1.8 million question of whether to restore full Primary days across the region and recognize that it is their responsibility to ensure that the education of our children is equitable across the province and, most especially, within each board.

[Page 1092]

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 237

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

Whereas on Sunday the Children's Aid Society held an auction to raise funds for their many valuable programs to help children in need; and

Whereas many volunteers gave generously of their energies and talents to make the auction a success; and

Whereas many businesses and individuals donated goods for auction upon which many Nova Scotians bid to support the work of the Children's Aid Society;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates and thanks all volunteers, individuals and businesses that contributed to make the 1997 Children's Aid Society Auction a success.

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

MADAM SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I would like to bring to your attention and to all members of the House a group of people in the gallery opposite who are here today to speak to their MLAs and with any luck the Minister of Health regarding the Department of Health's support for people who have hepatitis C, people who have picked up hepatitis C as a result of tainted blood products in the 1980's. They have asked that the Department of Health do as they have in B.C. and contact the people who have received blood tainted with hepatitis C in the 1980's.

[Page 1093]

If I could I would like to read their names and ask them to rise. First of all, Mr. Gary Coolen from Hubbards; Ms. Jo-anne McCallum from Shubenacadie; Bruce DeVenne from Halifax; Joe Now; and Dean Hines is here on behalf of his son, 12 year old Dean, Jr.. I would like to ask these people to rise to please acknowledge from the members of this House a warm round of applause. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 238

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

Whereas the Minister of Finance stood in this House on April 17, 1997, and stated the following, "Last year, my predecessor in Finance stood here and said that Budget 96-97 would be a balanced budget. This year, we are back to say that we delivered."; and

[2:15 p.m.]

Whereas the Minister of Finance added the following budget statement, "We have hit our first budget surplus in decades - a surplus that has surpassed our original expectations . . . that is a solid down payment on our future."; and

Whereas the Auditor General concluded in his 1996 report that these balanced budget statements were about as accurate as previous Liberal statements of no new taxes, no municipal amalgamation, no casinos, no BST, no cuts to education and no reduction in health care;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance recognize his key role in the latest chapter of Government by Flip Flop, or perhaps better known as Honey, I Cooked the Books.

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I beg members' indulgence. As I was making the introduction of people in the gallery who have contacted hepatitis C, I forget a couple of members who are here today; Mr. and Mr. Neil VanDusen are here from Sydney. The VanDusens - in particular Neil VanDusen - have seven haemophiliacs in their family and he and his wife have both made representations on a number of occasions about the problems facing his family with respect to this disease.

[Page 1094]

I want to extend my apologies to him and his wife for having forgotten them on the list and ask them to please rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 239

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

Whereas discussions are underway about the potential closure of the RCMP Telecommunications Centre in Yarmouth, which would result in the loss of another 10 jobs in southwestern Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Yarmouth Telecommunications Centre handles 911 calls for a large population in western Nova Scotia, from Liverpool around to Kingston, as well as police transmissions and other emergency and non-emergency police calls; and

Whereas the head of the informatics division of the RCMP for Nova Scotia was recently quoted as saying, "There are concerns about the force's telecom centres because they are understaffed for the job they are required to do";

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice address this situation with the new Superintendent of "H" Division for the Province of Nova Scotia, to ensure more job losses in southwestern Nova Scotia are not the end result of a review of RCMP Telecom Centres.

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax-Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 240

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

Whereas the Premier, on behalf of the government, has rationalized removal of Jim Campbells Barren from the list of protected sites on the grounds that mineral exploration will create jobs in Cape Breton; and

Whereas concerns have been raised that exploration activity may have a harmful effect on recreational fishing and destroy jobs in Cape Breton; and

[Page 1095]

Whereas more jobs are put at risk through a threat by New England salmon anglers to boycott travel to Nova Scotia to protest the Jim Campbells Barren decision;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to reinstate Jim Campbells Barren to the list of protected sites and carry out full public consultations so that all sides may be heard on the environmental and economic impact of the government's backroom deal to delist the site.

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 241

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

Whereas parents of young children in the south end of Dartmouth are extremely concerned as to the exact location and description of a convicted sex offender just released and now living within their neighbourhood; and

Whereas while the police issued the warning of the man's presence along with a vague description of his age, they say that no more details were able to be given since the province has yet to establish a policy on releasing the identities of dangerous offenders; and

Whereas the comments offered within the media covering the details of the individual's criminal activity pointed to the fact that the man was denied early parole because of the high risk surrounding his reoffending;

Therefore be it resolved that this government offer some peace and resolution to the residents of the south of Dartmouth and people across this province who, due to this incident, are now well aware of the fact that Nova Scotia has no policy in place to guide police on decisions regarding the identification of sex offenders relocating following their release.

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 242

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

[Page 1096]

Whereas a 1995 consultant's report said the climate is favourable for the Halifax International Airport to pursue the potential for increasing the volume of cargo handled on an annual basis; and

Whereas a growth council has been formed to increase cargo handling systems as well as the building of cargo volumes being handled at the Halifax International Airport; and

Whereas there are a number of aspects that could greatly enhance cargo growth at the airport including the Port of Halifax's position on great circle trade routes;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature acknowledge the efforts of Howard Wilson, Halifax International Airport's Superintendent of Marketing and Property Management and the Cargo Growth Council which has been struck and wish them every success in advancing the potential of the airport as a major hub for cargo shipments to Europe and the United States.

Madam Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 243

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

Whereas April 28th is the National Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job; and

Whereas in recent years this House has approved legislation providing better protection for the safety and health of those in the workplace; and

[Page 1097]

Whereas despite those improvements there remain groups of workers such as emergency medical technicians whose safety and health are put at risk by inadequate legal protection;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to amend the minimum wage order as a first step to improving the unsafe working conditions of emergency medical technicians.

Madam Speaker, I would like to seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 244

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

Whereas thousands of Nova Scotia workers put their lives on the line on a daily basis as they carry out their work-related duties; and

Whereas on average, two workers die every day across this country from work-related injuries; and

Whereas on an annual basis, 10,000 accidents result in the loss of lives and lengthy hospital stays for Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that with today being the National Day of Mourning for those killed or injured across Canada, members of this Legislature take a moment and remember those workers who have died or been injured in a work-related accident and encourage all Nova Scotia workers to practice safety at all times.

Madam Speaker, I realize that you have had a moment of silence, I just ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 1098]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 245

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

Whereas the government would have Nova Scotians believe the flap over its inventive budgeting practices is a tempest in a teapot; and

Whereas the government has attempted to dismiss the matter as simply a difference in accounting principles between the Auditor General and its hired accountants; and

Whereas the Auditor General was following the financial reporting and accounting principles of the Province of Nova Scotia which clearly state that "accounts are maintained on an accrual basis, revenues recorded when earned and expenditures recorded when incurred";

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance explain why the government ignored its own financial and accounting principles by charging $51 million in 1996-97 expenditures against the 1995-96 fiscal year.

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 246

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

Whereas the cost of public relations budgets for nine departments in which they are listed will increase by an additional $700,000 in the upcoming fiscal year; and

[Page 1099]

Whereas the Liberals believe they can gloss over the stark truth of their numerous broken promises with the soothing balm of additional public relations; and

Whereas no amount of slick, misleading Liberal propaganda, such as last week's claim of two consecutive balanced budgets, will lull Nova Scotians to forget about communities without doctors, schools without paper and a government without integrity;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals reprioritize government spending to meet the needs of Nova Scotians, not the needs of Liberal MLAs, who with reason, fear a loss at the polls.

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 247

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

Whereas a special Senate committee on Devco has joined the growing chorus of voices expressing grave doubts about the privatization of the Donkin Mine; and

Whereas this pre-election deal was cooked up behind closed doors without consulting the committee, the mineworkers or the people of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this proposed for $1.00 bargain-basement privatization cannot take place without the approval of the Nova Scotia Minister of Natural Resources;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Natural Resources on behalf of this government make it clear to the federal Minister of Natural Resources and the board of the Cape Breton Development Corporation that they have no Liberal given right to privatize coal resources belonging to the people of Nova Scotia.

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

[Page 1100]

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: I understand that I can speak today before we go into committee and I would very much like to speak, Madam Speaker. I have some things that I think are important to say.

I spent most of Friday and most of Saturday at a conference that was supported and encouraged by this government through the Advisory Council on the Status of Women. That conference was called Challenge to Change. Challenge to Change took place in Baddeck from Thursday night to Saturday evening, late Saturday afternoon. This conference was designed for as many women as could manage to get together in this province and to give good advice to the government through the advisory council.

I was pleased to know, although I was not there, that the Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women did come down on Thursday night and opened the conference by cutting a ribbon. I have to say, Madam Speaker, that I really wish she had stuck around for a couple of days to hear what was said at this conference. I think it would have been a very good thing for the government of this province to know what the women of Nova Scotia were saying to the Advisory Council about a whole range of issues, all interconnected, of course, all concerning everybody but with a particular focus on the role and relationship of women to these important public issues that were discussed.

The participants had a choice of focusing on four different aspects of the role of women in the economy. The first one was the economy. The second one was health. The third one was justice issues and the fourth was education. I wanted to talk for a few minutes about the issues around education that were raised at this conference. I spent a couple of hours in this place last week asking questions of the Minister of Education about where education is going in this province and the concerns that we had about the lack of clarity, in particular, around the shift towards public-private partnering in school construction and the profound and, perhaps not fully understood, effect of that on the actual functioning on schools themselves.

[Page 1101]

[2:30 p.m.]

Madam Speaker, I think that the government would have been wise to have been at Baddeck to hear, in particular, the keynote speech by Maude Barlow, the Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, who spoke passionately about the shift in public education in this country. I wanted to just take a couple of minutes, because I think it is worthwhile to outline the process by which schools in this country and, indeed, in other countries as well, give away their schools, take away the truly democratic concept of public education and give it away to bidders in the market place.

Madam Speaker, Ms. Barlow, in her Saturday afternoon keynote address, outlined, quite efficiently, I would say, the process of privatizing education. I would like to point out that privatizing education is not about education at all. It is about something else all together and that is the first thing that is of great concern, and should be and is of great concern to the public of Nova Scotia. She outlined the five steps in the privatization of education. I think they are worth noting because they are clear and understandable and they show a process that has to be both heeded and stopped in order to give back our schools to the children and communities, who want, very much, to preserve the notion of democracy and the true goal of public education, which is citizenship, not the selling of our children to the market place and to business.

The first thing that she pointed out on Saturday was the first step in privatizing education, and this is true in any context, it has happened the same way everywhere, the first thing that happens is that poisonous myths are put about, about education and the people involved in it - poisonous urban myths, Madam Speaker. These can be anything from the high price of teachers' salaries, the teachers are over-paid and under-worked. The notion that schools are not doing their jobs and things are falling apart and so on. Once that is out there, and that has been out there in this province for several years, the notion that schools are somehow falling down on the job becomes a kind of common knowledge. That common knowledge then sets the public stage and prepares the public mind for the next step of the privatizing of schools.

The next step, Madam Speaker, is to starve schools of funding to the point where the children don't get what they need from the schools. This has the effect then of making number one true, because once you starve the schools of funding, then things do begin to deteriorate and people will say, having been mentally prepared previously by poisonous urban myths, well, look at that. Schools are not doing a good job. Of course, if you take away enough money, it is highly difficult for schools to do the job that they have been, in the past, designed to do.

The third thing that governments do in order to work their way towards the privatization of education, Madam Speaker, is that they introduce the notion of testing and sorting, weighing and measuring - a whole lot of ways of bean counting - measuring

[Page 1102]

outcomes, piling up statistics, drawing charts and graphs and, the result of this, when the public money is spent to do this, the use, very often, that this is put to is to divide people, to divide the children in the schools. You may, indeed, by introducing the notion of testing and sorting, begin - and it does happen - to divide students by race, certainly by class, and maybe even, down the road, by gender.

One of the most succinct statements I heard about this whole issue of weighing and measuring, testing and sorting, dividing people into groups was when Ms. Barlow quoted someone who summed up the whole obsession with testing and sorting by saying, Madam Speaker, that weighing a pig doesn't make it any fatter. So you can test and sort and carry on all you like, but it doesn't do anything for the system at all.

Number four in the decline of schools, in the privatization of education, comes about when the governments don't see the problems that are the real problems in schools. As joblessness increases, as the social divisions increase, the government simply refuses to recognize that, in fact, the real problems of schools, Madam Speaker, are that 40 per cent of children are coming to school with some kind of disadvantage. That number is increasing as more and more children come to school hungry; they come to school abused; they come to school from an unstructured home, or any other of a whole range of difficulties that the economic order causes when it imposes greater and greater stress on the families who send these children to school.

So then you cut the money, you test and sort and you talk about quality measures and how you are going to do it all by counting the numbers; you don't look at the real problems in the schools. The funding is down so you won't do anything about them. Then what you do, when you have all those preconditions in place, you bring in business and you cut the guts out of democracy. The whole problem with that, aside from the obvious, is that schools and public broadcasting are probably the two places left in this country where we can teach children to be valuable citizens who contribute to their community, who have any sense of collectivity and responsibility for others and who respect the democratic process and participate in it because, face it, Madam Speaker, business is not about democracy. Business is about business and it will and, confined to its proper place, should serve the needs of business, but business was never intended and in fact is antithetical to serving the needs of democracy.

So, Madam Speaker, I think that it is very clear to a great many people in this province who are concerned about education, who are concerned about the answers they are not getting, that we are on a very rocky road here. That rocky road will take us, very soon, to the end of this road towards the privatization where schools will not be about bringing our children up not just to know numbers or math or to speak a foreign language, but to be their best selves, having been educated and enriched and to be the kind of citizens that support and foster a democracy.

[Page 1103]

When I spoke to the Minister of Education last week in this House, and other members know this is true because they were here and heard it, there is nothing right now in this province standing between democracy and the schools and the use by private business of the public education system of this province. I don't think, Madam Speaker, and I am serious, too, and I would be happy to say it again for the honourable member, in fact, I will explicate it a little bit before I make that main point, so he will know. Last week in this House the minister said there was nothing but an interim letter of agreement for the functioning junior high school in Sydney; there is no maintenance agreement, as far as I know there are no guidelines for environmental safety. When the minister said, in response to my question, how do we know who is responsible for what and how this is going to work out? He said most of it is taken care of in the tendering process. To decide that a tendering process is an adequate policy for working out the functioning of the school system in this province is a very frightening concept, indeed.

If we don't have clear - as far as I know most other provinces and school boards have - responsible ethical guidelines for the involvement of business in schools, then we will allow ourselves to give it away in that step-by-step process that I have outlined. I am not the least bit satisfied, Madam Speaker, with the answer that I got to the question, could a school have a McDonald's? That is truly where we are heading today in this province. Thank you very much.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Supply motion. I would like to talk a little bit about fairness and consistency in government. I would like to talk a little bit about the policy that this government has, or the lack of policy that this government has, pertaining to the construction of a new four lane highway in this province. Today in the editorial section of the newspaper the Minister of Transportation and Public Works attempted to defend his Highway No. 104 project. I want to say at the outset that I do not question the minister suggesting that safety is the reason for the Highway No. 104 western alignment. I concur with the minister wholeheartedly that the highway had to be built.

I want to remind all members and point out that the previous government announced in the spring of 1993 that the project would be completed but it would be financed out of the taxpayers' dollars, be they federal or provincial, but it would have been financed out of the Strategic Highway Improvement Program.

Now the Minister of Transportation at that time, the Honourable Richard Mann, who represents the constituency of Richmond, pointed out that there were insufficient funds in the kitty, in the Strategic Highway Improvement Program, to build and construct a highway. On or about that time when the minister was trying to put a package together to finance the

[Page 1104]

highway, his federal cousins in Ottawa decided to cancel, eliminate the Atlantic Region Freight Assistance.

Madam Speaker, we know that the province will be receiving some $85 million as a result of the cancellation of that Canada-Nova Scotia program. Now at the time the Opposition and the members of the public, Amherst Town Council, Parrsboro Council, Cumberland County Council, Colchester, the Municipality of Colchester, all those elected municipal levels of government suggested that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works look at using some of the funds, not all the funds, out of the Atlantic Region Freight Assistance Adjustment Package that the province would be receiving and thus build a highway through what we perhaps can call conventional or traditional methods.

[2:45 p.m.]

The Minister of Transportation of the day, back in 1993, was of the mindset that the highway had to be built through this grandiose public-private partnership. There was no other way to build it. Now what we have, Madam Speaker, unfortunately, is the Minister of Transportation and Public Works trying to defend what the previous Minister of Transportation has done. I want to suggest, too, that while I support building the highway, I want to say right at the outset that the present Minister of Transportation and Public Works is doing a very poor job of trying to defend the rationale for financing this project. In fact, the Auditor General, in his report, points that out very clearly. The Auditor General has some grave concerns about the accountability of the public-private partnering.

Nova Scotia and, more importantly, I should point out, specifically the residents of Cumberland County and Colchester County are being singled out when it comes to paying this new toll tax, Madam Speaker. I don't think that is fair. I don't think that is consistent. We have had several announcements subsequent to the Highway No. 104 development whereby the highways are going to be built by traditional means and financed by traditional means. So what happened to public-private partnerships? They were the way to do things.

Has the government learned something? Have they learned through the error of their ways? Has the government finally recognized that the people in the Province of Nova Scotia do not want to pay a toll tax. They are not ready for this new toll. The previous government was willing, had committed the finances to building that road through the Strategic Highway Improvement Program. Incidently, and it has been well represented in this House that the previous minister had the audacity, along with his counterpart, at that time, the federal Minister of Public Works, to confiscate, to be kind to the members, $26 million from that fund. That was wrong too. But public pressure and the hard work of the Opposition forced that minister, along with his federal counterpart, to return that $26 million to its rightful place.

[Page 1105]

The Premier of the day, I guess he is still the Premier, soon to be officially resigned, did not take any action against that member for getting in and getting his fingers caught in where they should not have been. That in itself lent to the Premier announcing his resignation. That was part of the puzzle. There was no leadership shown regarding the ripping away of $26 million from a dedicated highway fund, a fund that should have went to building that highway.

Madam Speaker, the Auditor General pointed out some of the concerns that he has with the project. What the Auditor General, if I might just read a couple of sentences, is saying is, "A summary of all costs of the project was not available from the Department . . .". You know as well as I do that some nearly $60 million, when you look at tax concessions, when you look at the capital commitment of the province towards that project, went into the project. The Auditor General cannot find any accounting for the $60 million. My gosh, there is something wrong when the Auditor General cannot get a hold of the details of that agreement. The Auditor General further points out that, based on his analysis, if the province had borrowed the funds for the highway project directly, instead of the Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Corporation, the debt service charge would have been significantly lower.

Madam Speaker, we are not talking about small potatoes here. We are talking about a significant sum of money. The Auditor General further pointed out that, "Financial projections for the project indicate that, over the 30-year term of the project, approximately $151 million will be returned to the Province from the operation of the toll-road. However, we acknowledge that projections made for such a long period of time involve significant uncertainty and actual experience may differ.". So there is no accountability; there is no mechanism in place where the Auditor General of this province can access the figures relative to this project.

The Auditor General points out that, "there are provisions in the contract to forego future toll increases, if agreeable to all parties to the contracts.". In the Auditor General's Report he also points out that the province is not devoid of liabilities, be they legal or financial, regarding this project. No, the Auditor General isn't saying that at all. The Auditor General is telling Nova Scotians that the way this project was handled was very, very poor; it was no way to put together a package to build, finance and construct a highway in this province.

Again, my question to the Minister of Transportation, is public-private partnership regarding the construction, financing and maintenance of our twinned highways something of the past? Has the philosophy of this government changed toward public-private partnering regarding transportation?

Based on our analysis, the Auditor General says - now, again, we should point out there has been some discussion in the House about the Auditor General. The Auditor General is just that, a servant of this Legislature; he is not the government's servant any more than he

[Page 1106]

is the Opposition's, and I think it is time that some government members in this House listened to what the Auditor General is talking about when he starts talking about accountability - the Auditor General says that, "The Western Alignment project was termed a public-private partnership, for which there are currently no specific policies, guidelines and procedures.". The question begs to be asked, when is this government going to come in with the specific policies relative to public-private partnerships?

Should something happen . . .

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: They ought to get it right once first.

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, that would be a good idea. The Leader of the New Democratic Party suggests that they should get it right once first before they write up some policies and guidelines regarding public-private partnering. The province tells us that they have no liabilities be it financial, be it legal, be it whatever regarding this highway. The Auditor General clearly points out that the Highway No. 104 western alignment is, in fact, a responsibility of the province. So should Newcourt default, if you will, and for some reason financial commitments not be met by the private partner, then the province is left holding the bag; it is in black and white.

The Auditor General again points out that, "The request for proposals noted the Province would not guarantee the traffic volumes, but the final agreement required the Province to compel large trucks to use the road . . .". Again, that is a bone of contention because in most jurisdictions in North America, any jurisdictions that I can recall, there are alternate routes for transport trucks. Here, this minister and the previous minister are forcing the commercial trucking industry to use that highway; they have no alternative.

The Auditor General further points out that, "We do not suggest that these negotiated changes were inappropriate or represent inadequate regard for the costs and risks which the Province will bear.". Now, in fact the Auditor General goes on, "some negotiated changes favouring the contractor were counter-balanced with concessions by the contractor that improved the highway and/or lowered the Province's cost and risk. We are likewise restricted in discussing these items.".

Now, Madam Speaker, I had the opportunity to go down to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia and sit for some four hours on the hard benches in the Chamber down there, in the courthouse, and listen to some of the arguments. The government's lawyer represented, I believe, the Province of Nova Scotia very well in putting forward sound rationale why the omnibus agreement should be disclosed. Conversely, the private partner, Atlantic Highways Corporation's lawyer tried and again he tried his best but he could not come up with sound reasons, rationale, why the omnibus agreement should be withheld.

[Page 1107]

In fact, Mr. Justice Kelly during his ruling stated that the omnibus agreement should be disclosed. Mr. Justice Kelly further pointed out that he saw no reason, based on the language in the omnibus agreement, why the government is withholding the contract. Why is this government withholding the omnibus contract?

We do know that on June 2nd, the air will finally be cleared because the private partner appealed to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal and on June 2nd a ruling will come down. I would suggest that the justice of the day again will rule that the omnibus agreement should be disclosed for public viewing, for public consumption. Nova Scotians have some $60 million invested in that project and thus far the accounting of this government has been disgraceful.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[2:57 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]

[6:57 p.m. CWH on supply 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 Supply reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made progress and begs leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

[Page 1108]

Bill No. 6 - Gas Distribution Act.

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

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Res. No. 134.

Res. No. 134 re Fin. - Expenditure Add.: Health/Justice - Approval - notice given Apr. 22/97 - (Hon. W. Gillis)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: No, no, Kings West, please.

MR. SPEAKER: Excuse me, the honourable member for Kings West.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I don't know why the confusion between the West and the North and it has happened a lot lately. I am much slimmer so I hope that won't continue to happen.

Mr. Speaker, I want to speak for a short time on Resolution No. 134 about the extra appropriations. I know the minister was kind enough to send over the additional appropriations. I was interested in the Department of Health. I noticed the other day he talked about and pointed out, rightly so, that there was a small amount of capital in the total amount of $4 million of the $124 million in the Department of Health. But what I am trying to get a handle on and understand is that under acute care that $21 million, some of that, was actually spent on capital at the new Infirmary.

My understanding is when the new building was announced for the Infirmary, obviously, it was never the intent to have all the hospitals under one organization, now called the QE II Health Sciences Centre. My understanding is when that amalgamation took place

[Page 1109]

there were some decisions made to move to have one outpatients at the new site and so the cardiovascular and others that would have stayed at the Victoria General were moved over there. My understanding is that after the new building was actually built and completed that up to $20 million, and maybe still counting in this fiscal year, was spent on renovating a new building to accommodate a change because of amalgamation. What I have been told is that the QE II took that out of their current budget in order to do those renovations.

[7:00 p.m.]

What I don't understand, Mr. Speaker, maybe somebody will answer this along the way, is what that $21 million was actually for in Health on the acute care side? Obviously, it wasn't home care; obviously, it wasn't Drug Dependency; but the largest amount except for the reserves for doubtful accounts, and I am not even sure what doubtful accounts means. I mean, can you imagine if you were running a business or running anything, and you have a $39 million account for doubtful. Well, what in the world is doubtful? Doubtful must mean something. Does it mean that the government is doubtful that they are going to have to spend this money on the premise of what? I think we in this province have to have a better explanation for what doubtful accounts are. We have to have an understanding because I was told by hospitals in this province, the acute care side, we know that the beds were cut, but how come we have an overexpenditure of $21 million?

My question, that I hope I will get an answer to when the minister wraps up on the resolution, was, in actual fact, the overexpenditure on the acute care side, was that at the QE II? If so, how much was at the QE II and was it for capital renovations that should have been charged under capital? Here we go, Mr. Speaker, and I think this is what the whole argument is all about.

I was interested in the former Minister of Finance who spoke on Friday. The Auditor General, he says, has a different view, "He is entitled to his different view. I will put the view of the internationally reputed accounting firm against the Auditor General on any accounting questions at any time, Madam Speaker. They are our accountants and our auditors.". Mr. Speaker, there is no question, he is challenging the reputation of the Auditor General. What I want to know is he says they are our accountants. Sure, the ones that he hires are his accountants. They are ours, he says. We pay them. So, obviously, the numbers will come out the way we asked them to structure it. You know what the Auditor General is? The Auditor General is the public's accountant.

I was home on the weekend and I am sure every member went home on the weekend, and every member does what I do on the weekend. You spend time either at church suppers or you spend the time at some official function or you spend time in the coffee shop, you spend time talking to constituents. We all do that. It is part of our business. It is part of what we do. It is part of being an elected official.

[Page 1110]

Mr. Speaker, people were saying to me. My, the truth came out last Wednesday. I said, what do you mean? Well, they said, the Auditor General brought out the true numbers. I am saying, that is what the public view is. We heard in this House on Friday that there was a lot of confusion. I wondered how this played by the media and how this played out in the constituencies with the everyday individual who every day doesn't have the privilege of sitting around in this Legislature, but, yet, pays some attention to the news. How did that play out? Were they confused? They were not confused. So many people clearly came up to me and clearly said, isn't it great we have the Auditor General. Then they said, why do we need other auditors when we have the Auditor General? Don't we trust the Auditor General? Don't we think he is capable of auditing the books of Nova Scotia? Why are we hiring an outside group?

Mr. Speaker, I am sure if you were asked, like myself, I didn't have an answer. My answer was, yes, I trust the Auditor General. Yes, I think he can do every bit as good a job in that office over there and has every bit as good expertise as any accounting firm has in this province. So I don't challenge the Auditor General. The Auditor General, yes, has a different opinion. But I think what the public is saying is we need an accounting process whereby somebody looks out for the public's interest, not the government's interest, not my interest as an MLA, but the public's interest. That is what they learned to trust and that is why it is important that this government change, and allow only the Auditor General, and stop spending the extra money to have an outside audit.

It is so important that we bring credibility back because no matter, when the general public is confused about the issue whether there was a balanced budget or there really wasn't or, how the accounting numbers went, was the Auditor General's accounting correct, what we are doing, out there in the eyes of the public, they are saying here they go as politicians, again, here they go again confusing us as taxpayers in the province. Why is it they cannot get something right, in other words, why, if the government does not want two opinions or want to explain two opinions, why don't they have one opinion? Then there is no explaining to do. Obviously, the Auditor General raised this issue and met with the department officials and the department officials did not convince the Auditor General they were right. Obviously, the Auditor General was not going to change the Department of Finance.

My mind tells me that this government knew what they were doing. They knew and I am sure there have been things that have impeded this government going to the polls before now. I am sure this government had planned to go to the polls before now. They did not count on the Premier quitting, that was not in the plans a year ago, I am sure. Why in the world would any Party plan on the Premier quitting a year in advance? I would hope nobody would. They selected a Leader, he won the election for them and now he is not going to have the opportunity to see if he can be re-elected. Why isn't he having the opportunity? I am sure every member of the Party has asked why this Premier, who swept the province in 1993 has not been given an opportunity to defend his policies and run again to be Premier of this province.

[Page 1111]

The first time in the history of this province that a Premier had to resign. Had to resign, because of the pressures. Now I am thinking this government knew. What do they have going for them when they went to the polls? They did not have a lot going for them, I can tell you that. One of the things they had going for them was a balanced budget. That was the big issue that they felt could get them re-elected and they knew that the only way to do that was to have a two year budgeting process, where the year before we have a higher deficit so the following year it will come out on the plus side and then we can tell the public we had, for the first time in the history of this province for a long time, a balanced budget.

You know, Mr. Speaker, the only thing that happened that caused the problem was the Auditor General and, obviously, if they would have had an election before the Auditor General's Report came out, this would not have come out; obviously not. There would not have been the dispute between what the Auditor General said and what the auditors of the province said. I think it is a question of credibility.

I think the public of this province, as a former Minister of Finance said - the Minister of Health - there is one thing I agreed with in his speech on Friday, the public is confused. No wonder they are confused and I can tell you that the general public put a lot of faith in our Auditor General. I do not think there has been an Auditor General in the history of this province that the public has not put a lot of faith in. He is the watchdog - or she, if it might be - the Auditor General of this province is the watchdog of this province on government spending and government's practices. If you read the Auditor General's Report, yes, he may be critical in some areas, but he points out the positives. He meets with all the departments and I think the Auditor General does a fair report. If you look through all the pages of this document, they are not all negative. It is 239 pages long and it is not all negative. Some of the things the government is doing, I give them credit for; there is absolutely no question, but so does the Auditor General.

The government is quick to stand up when the Auditor General praises us and cite what the Auditor General says. But they are not very quick to cite when they have a dispute with the Auditor General, it is like, well he doesn't count in this particular area, he only counts in the positive areas. If we are going to have credibility and we are going to bring back where the public has some faith in politicians, we have to have respect for the Auditor General and when he has an opinion that I know doesn't come easy for him and doesn't come lightly, we have to respect that. In order to do that with accounting principles, we cannot have two in this province.

Either we believe that the Auditor General's accounting principles are the principles we follow, as it follows across the country, or we have the independent one that we hire. Well, I don't know how independent they are when you hire them. It is like me hiring anybody that works for me and I pay them, they are trying to please me. Obviously, they are trying to please me. They would take the numbers and produce them as the government gives it to them.

[Page 1112]

If they have an argument that (Interruption) I don't use that word in here, you may. If you have an argument the government would put forward an argument, and I can understand why, it's like me going to my accountant to do my income tax, I put forward my argument and it may be a good argument. My accountant says, well yes, in the interpretation we will try this. Now he might be right or he might be wrong but the final decision is made with Revenue Canada, whether it is right or wrong. That is the final decision even though the auditor says, yes that is a correct auditing practice, yes I think it can be done this way. In that case the final judgment lies with Revenue Canada in that case.

The final judgment here on the accounting principles rests with the Auditor General and ultimately (Interruption) I think so. I think the minute that we don't understand that it rests with the Auditor General, then we have taken away a tradition that I think has been so important, not only in this province but it is important across the country. That is why I take issue with this whole approach the government has taken.

At the end of the day the government doesn't owe any more money or any less money than if you had done it the way the Auditor General said or whether you didn't, I acknowledge that. I think there is an accounting principle involved here and it is the one that I know has hurt the government's credibility. I as an Opposition politician say, I probably should be pleased because I know it has hurt the credibility of the government but I think it goes deeper than that, it hurts the credibility of the whole process. When it hurts the credibility of the government as politicians, it ends up hurting us all no matter where we sit in this Legislature. Obviously, I think we have to change the way we approach that.

When the government brought in the Expenditure Control Act and what has amazed me over the past number of sittings is that this government has seen fit every year to have an amendment. Is it an amendment for convenience sake? Why, if you set up a bill and then you change it each year to accommodate how you may want things to go, to me it almost seems like making your own rules up as you go. The government says, oh, the Act doesn't really fit where we want to go so all we do is bring in an amendment. It is like being on a team and all of a sudden you are not winning and you are able to change the rules so you can win, that is kind of a strange way to do business.

If you are going to set up the rules at the beginning of your term why can't you at least stay by the rules until the term ends? You must have thought about the rules before you started and you must have figured out that they would work. Now all of a sudden we have got to have an amendment every year to accommodate this government in the direction that they are going in. Again, we are talking about credibility and this is really what this is all about.

You know there is no question that over the years, and the Minister of Finance rightly pointed out, governments traditionally have not had a good record, they have all had additional appropriations. Somehow we have not gotten to the point and the additional

[Page 1113]

appropriations that the minister put in are over and above the Expenditure Control Act, which I think allowed that 1 per cent overexpenditures didn't have to come to the Legislature. Over and above 1 per cent you had to come back here.

[7:15 p.m.]

Now maybe, Mr. Speaker, it should have been 2 per cent, I don't know; maybe it should have been 3 per cent. In all fairness to the government, if you are running a business, I would think 1 per cent is probably pretty small, to be honest. I mean you predict the best you can. I have had the opportunity to sit on the other side, and I can understand there are things that are going to occur. I don't think we are ever going to get totally away from additional appropriations. I would like to say yes but I don't think it is possible or feasible.

So why wouldn't the government say, look, let's not do 1 per cent, let's do 2 per cent or 3 per cent, which is probably more reasonable, in the light of where we are in reality, instead of flagging the 1 per cent and then they have to come back in here with an additional appropriation, which is higher than the 1 per cent, which really doesn't make sense. I think the government, in fairness to them - I don't know if they thought they could stay within the 1 per cent or not, I really don't know, but in fairness to them - I don't believe any government can, I really don't. So I would hope that the government would look at that number, so that we are not back in doing the same thing all the time, and that we would come to a reasonable amount that we all could live with.

I would be the first to say, if the government said, well, maybe 3 per cent is more reasonable but I think if you ran a business and you could stay within 3 per cent of your budget, I would say you are doing a good job really. I know there are some departments that will come in under and they work hard to come in under, but there are other departments - and Health has traditionally been one - that has been very difficult to control. I think there ought to be some flexibility in health care. It is very hard to predict just exactly new technology, exactly how many people will be ill. There are so many factors that arrive in health care that I think the government should be aware and there should be some flexibility.

I am hoping that the government will look at the legislation so that we can get the legislation right and we would also prevent this sort of extra, additional appropriation coming back before us on a continual basis.

You know even though they had a cap with doctors, I was surprised that medical payments came in for an additional appropriation of $15 million. Mr. Speaker, one of the things that I thought you could predict, because we had a wage freeze and the numbers were firmer in the area of wages than in anything else that I know of, that we would have had medical payments predicted correctly at the beginning because the doctors that I talked to tell me there is a cap and after they reach a certain plateau, the money is taken off. So I don't know and I am hoping that when we get to estimates we may be able to get more detail on

[Page 1114]

the actual medical payments, why they were not projected and why, all of a sudden, we come in with $15 million in additional money.

You know, Mr. Speaker, of this total amount, as I said, outside of the additional provisions for victims of institutional abuse, which is $15 million, all of this money basically is in health care. There is no question that I could argue the positive about home care, the additional monies, we all could.

I am not sure what happened with out-of-province claims. Why, all of a sudden, in 1996-97 did they take a big blip up? Or were they underestimated at the beginning? I think this is another key that I would like to zero in on. Was it that we had all these additional appropriations in Health because they didn't project with a real budget at the beginning? Or was it because of some other factor that these numbers were out of whack?

I know that the government made a decision to put more money into home care but I am not sure that they made a decision to put more money into out-of-province claims. I am not sure that they made a decision to put more money into medical payments. As I said, I don't know how they come up with this $39 million reserve for doubtful accounts. So I am hoping that at some point when this resolution is closed for debate - it is kind of the minister to give us the detail, but the detail, I think, deserves some explanation, so I am hoping that will happen.

Obviously, I am going to vote against this resolution and I would ask the minister to take into account some of the points that I have made, some of them being critical, but some of them trying to be helpful for down the road. If the minister is sitting right there next year, that some of those things could be addressed and not only be addressed, but it would also probably save time in the Legislature if they were addressed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honorable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: I want to thank the member for Kings West for ending so abruptly. I thought we were in for a dissertation of some considerable length of time. I assure you I was looking forward to it because the member for Kings West always speaks so well and with such great authority.

The resolution, I guess, is Resolution No. 134 and the operative clause is, therefore be it resolved that a sum not exceeding $32 million be granted to the Lieutenant Governor to defray expenses in respect of the Department of Justice respecting compensation for victims of institutional abuse.

This resolution that we are debating is fundamental to the strength of this government. I want to read you something at the very outset, if I might. Perhaps you recall this blessed document. It was released in February 1996. On February 7, 1996, this document became

[Page 1115]

available to subscribers of the Internet. I know that the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat was probably the first person who cruised and sailed on the World Wide Web, so he could read this on the Internet. Since February, 1996, Shaping the Future, see this. This is the document. "Positioning Nova Scotia for a Financially Secure Tomorrow.". Well, this was written by the Government of Nova Scotia, the Department of Finance, in care of Bruce Cameron; the real minister.

What it says is the fifth principle - they had four others, but this fifth one is the one that really struck home and this is the one that is worthy of note. I am going to read this to you and I want you to listen really close because it says a lot.

It says, "Government has an obligation to conduct the people's business in public and to make every effort to ensure the people understand the consequences of government decisions.". Now, that is very simple and you and I can understand it without any difficulty. "In matters of public finance, accountability and credibility are essential.". These are the words of the department and the Minister of Finance. Then over in the other paragraph - I will table this. You might like to read it. It is great bedtime reading.

Anyway, in the other paragraph, it says, "The people of Nova Scotia should clearly understand the extent to which government has overspent in any given year or has achieved greater savings than originally planned.".

AN HON. MEMBER: Who said that?

MR. ARCHIBALD: These were some of the high ideals expressed to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia by the Liberal Government in 1996. These guys, the very same. The red team. Under the careful guidance and direction of their great communications expert, Bruce Cameron. I am sure (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: Who was the Minister of Finance?

MR. ARCHIBALD: The Minister of Finance at the time was the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes. (Interruptions) He is the same one now running for leadership.

"Government has an obligation to conduct the people's business in public and to make every effort to make sure the people understand the consequences of government decisions.".

Now, I think that is really pricey. It is really on the money, so to speak. When you consider this was one of those sacred government documents. It was sort of like the 30-60-90 document that many people were so familiar with and now we are all trying to forget it, I guess, because the government said we should. They have not mentioned it lately. But when you take the statements from the government when they were thinking they were going to have an election last year, last spring - it was all scheduled, then somebody did a poll on the

[Page 1116]

way - it says that, "Government has an obligation to conduct the people's business in public and to make every effort to ensure that people understand the consequence of government decisions. In matters of public finance, accountability and credibility are essential.".

I don't want to read that 50 times tonight, Mr. Speaker, but I wanted to instill it in your memory while I read this to you. This is from the Auditor General's Report, 1996. This is what he says. This is the contrast between what the Auditor General says and what the Minister of Finance is peddling. In the words of the Auditor General, "An adjustment to record $50.9 million of capital project commitments results in overstating the Province's liabilities as of March 31, 1996 and its expenditures for 1995-96. As a result, 1996-97 expenditures have been reflected in the annual deficit reported for 1995-96. This one time adjustment is inconsistent with the Province's stated accounting policies, affects comparability from year to year, and is fundamentally wrong from an accounting principles perspective.".

It is understandable, Mr. Speaker, that we get mixed up when we are referring to March 31, 1996, expenditures for 1995-96, there is 1996-97 and then 1995-96. It goes back and forth from year to year. That would confuse even the smartest fellow in this building. But what does not confuse anybody in Nova Scotia is when the impartial Auditor General of Nova Scotia says that the accounting practices of this government are fundamentally wrong from an accounting principles perspective.

AN HON. MEMBER: What page are you on?

MR. ARCHIBALD: Find it yourself. I am not helping those NDP rascals, Mr. Speaker. Tell them to do their own research. The NDP haven't helped me or you or anybody else. Why should I help them? Boy, the lazy lout. He hasn't read the book and he is trying to get pointers from me. Can you believe it? I suppose in a minute he is going to get up and make his speech and it will probably be the one Ron Russell gave on Friday. That is the kind of people they are to my left, everybody's left.

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General indicated quite clearly that the accounting principles of this government are fundamentally wrong. I want to read you something else from the Budget Address. I just ripped it out of the page of the book. You probably have a copy. These are the words of the Minister of Finance. "Today, Mr. Speaker, we have the proof. Today, I am pleased to confirm to all Nova Scotians that we have achieved our first, real budget surplus in more than 20 years. For the first time in modern memory, we are paying down the debt, not building it up. And, I am proud to say we are going to do it all over again in 1997-98.".

Mr. Speaker, the marvellous thing about politics is you get to go home on the weekend. Everybody on the weekend was talking about funny accounting and funny money. They cannot get it right, can they? I was thrilled. I wish this government and its success rate in an election poll - I don't want them to do very well, so I was not arguing with anybody.

[Page 1117]

But I was amazed how the people understood and got it right on the money when the Auditor General said, ". . . accounting policies, affects comparability from year to year, and is fundamentally wrong from an accounting principles perspective.".

When the Auditor General says that, the people I met at the breakfast in Pereaux, I met them in a couple of coffee shops later on in the morning, I was at ACA Co-op at their open house, and what a marvellous open house ACA had on Saturday. Then at the Lion's Hall and the firefighters annual thing on Saturday night, every location on Saturday and Friday evening the people were saying the same thing; the government was caught with its hand in the cookie jar, the accounting principles are fundamentally wrong.

[7:30 p.m.]

Well, Mr. Speaker, little wonder that people are saying that. When we get a request for additional appropriations, and they just gave us the list so that we would know what it was, the Department of Health - now I feel sorry for the Minister of Health who took over in 1993, remember he helped win the election for this government because all his press releases set out that he knew how to reform health care and he would help make movies, he would help make TV series, he saved 100,000 lives a week pretty nearly. I mean this guy was the superman of all medical doctors in North America; he was an advisor to the U.S. President's wife, there was nothing that that man didn't do.

He arrived here and the Minister of Finance said, fine, you can do whatever you like but you have no money, I am cutting your budget. Then the Minister of Health hopped in and everything went flying in the air and it hasn't landed yet. Now, all of a sudden, there doesn't seem to be any shortage of funds in the Department of Health because they have a thing here for an extra appropriation of - they have a request for $124 million. This is most peculiar, Mr. Speaker, because we are not dealing with the same level of concern under this minister as we had under the former minister. When this Minister of Health was the Minister of Finance, the Health Department got no extra funding. But he arrives and the floodgates opened.

One of the most interesting is reserved for doubtful accounts, $39 million, almost as big as this year's deficit. I guess this year's deficit is $49 million, according to the Auditor General. Now this government said no, no, it was a $2 million surplus. Well, I take the word of the Auditor General prior to the word of any member of the Cabinet of this government. Anyway, they have a reserve for doubtful accounts, $39 million. Now I challenge you, Mr. Speaker, drop a note over to officials in the Department of Health and just ask them - just a one-line letter, don't take all morning composing. Just write them and simply say, please tell me what reserve account for doubtful accounts, $39 million, what does it involve? Do you know what you are going to get back? Nothing. They don't have an answer for you. This is a $39 million slush fund because the Department of Health has no record that they can furnish to you or to me or to anybody else, what reserve for doubtful account means.

[Page 1118]

Now when the Auditor General gets through with this Department of Health, I am sure he is going to say the same thing he did about the overall accounting of the Government of Nova Scotia; it is fundamentally flawed (Interruption) Just like the government. Well, he didn't say that - you are being helpful, the NDP is always so helpful. It is fundamentally flawed, Mr. Speaker. That pretty well sums up this whole resolution.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have had some interesting times in this Legislature in the last three and a half years, four years now I guess, since 1993, but the most exciting and interesting telling days have always been associated with the Minister of Finance, the member for Cape Breton The Lakes. Remember his first budget when he came in here and kind of had a recruiting day for Liberal card membership? Remember he was recruiting new members, the galleries were full and the hall was full and the lobby was full and they were signing up new members that day and there were a lot of members of the construction association who came to see what they thought, and a lot of them bought memberships. They thought they would come in and help the government out, they really wanted to help the Premier out. Anyway, a lot of them joined up, bought membership cards and there are 1,000 who still have membership cards and they will be taking part in the leadership debate. I know the Liberal Party in Nova Scotia appreciates the assistance.

That was an exciting day for the government and that was associated with the member for the Cape Breton The Lakes and his budget. Remember a year ago when the Minister of Finance stood in his place and smiled and he said we are entering the BST, we are going to have a BS Tax in Nova Scotia? Remember that? He said it is going to be good, it is the biggest tax cut in the history of Nova Scotia. I thought it was the biggest tax break in the history of the world, but then he filed that document, remember he so tenderly laid one copy on the Clerk's desk and then he mistakenly gave some to the media and a few of the media read it and then they brought it in here? Finally, the Opposition were able to get hold of a copy late in the day.

That also showed that the government was fundamentally flawed because it was not a tax reduction for Nova Scotia, it was a tax increase, an $84 million tax increase hidden inside a tax cut according to the government. I want to read to you again from Shaping the Future, Positioning Nova Scotia for a Financially Secure Tomorrow. I want to read so you will know what the government says, and what it does, "The people of Nova Scotia should clearly understand the extent to which government has overspent in any given year or has achieved greater savings than originally planned.". From that we learned the Auditor General said that they are practising funny bookkeeping. There used to be a Party out West, the Social Credit, and they used to have funny money. Well, this government has funny bookkeeping.

"In matters of public finance, accountability and credibility are essential." "Government has an obligation to conduct the people's business in public and to make every effort to ensure the people understand the consequences of government decisions.". You remember the day in 1996 when the government brought in this BST and they tabled the book

[Page 1119]

and we found out $84 million. You had to read the fine print, you had to turn to Page 67 in that book to find the little, one line that said consumers in Nova Scotia are going to have an increase of $84 million in taxes. You never heard a government member say that; you never heard the Minister of Finance say that. They were trying to hide, the same way the Auditor General caught the Minister of Finance this year trying to hide the real numbers in the government. They have not changed, they have not learned and they do not follow, this government does not follow its own written words, Shaping the Future. Why did they bother writing it? They are not going to follow it.

That was an exciting day, the government wished they had not gotten out of bed that morning when Nova Scotians caught on to the $84 million tax increase, and now this blended sales tax, this BS Tax. We are finding out that 67 per cent of Nova Scotians, according to the radio the other day in a poll that was done, are opposed. Over half of Nova Scotia feel this new blended sales tax is going to hurt Nova Scotia's economy. That is not what the government is saying. The government is trying to hide the real feelings and the truth in Nova Scotia.

The next day, concerning our great Department of Finance and minister, that was so exciting for Nova Scotians was just a few days ago when the Auditor General tabled his report for 1996 and on Page 22, he indicates that the Minister of Finance in Nova Scotia is practising bookkeeping that is fundamentally flawed. This government is not even following the rules and the regulations that it laid down.

AN HON. MEMBER: Shame on them.

MR. ARCHIBALD: It should be shame on them, but there is no remorse, there is no asking for forgiveness and I won't do it again.

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: On a point of order, the honourable member has just told, Mr. Speaker, to you and to all members of the House, that the Auditor General says that the books of this province are fundamentally flawed. That is not true. On Page 15 of the same report that the honourable member is referring to, Results in Brief, it says, "Significant progress is being made to improve the quality of accountability information and reporting by government. The improvements put in place - some supported by specific statutory provisions - coupled with those in progress or planned, put Nova Scotia in much more of a leadership role in relation to public sector accountability . . . Over the past 2-3 years, improvements made to the Province's financial statements have resulted in the Province's surplus/deficit and liabilities being accounted for and reported more completely and understandably than in the past.".

[Page 1120]

I don't mean to be unkind here, Mr. Speaker, but the honourable member is saying something which is patently not the case. It says here that he is taking a very small item and spreading it across the Auditor General's Report. It is just not true and the book speaks for itself. (Applause)

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order. It is very easy to take selective readings from the Auditor General but the fact of the matter is that in the province's Public Accounts document, Volume 1, the Department of Finance says under the heading of Basis of Accounting, "These accounts are maintained on an accrual basis, revenues recorded when earned and expenditures recorded when incurred. Revenues from Personal and Corporate Income Taxes, federal transfers including . . .", et cetera, et cetera, " . . . are accrued in the year earned based upon estimates.". What the Auditor General has said and it is very specific, he says that the Department of Finance has simply ignored its own basis of accounting policies. As I say, it is very easy to be selective but the point of the matter is that they cooked the books.

MR. SPEAKER: The points of clarification are brought and are acknowledged.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for Hants West for his intervention. I want to say with utter amazement and amusement that we heard from the record holder, high-flyer from Nova Scotia politics. If the member for Cape Breton who used to be the Minister of Education and now is the Minister of Community Services had spent a little less time flying around the world and a little more time reading this book, he got to Page 15 and stopped, he missed the good stuff.

On Page 22, just in case the member has forgotten, it says the Auditor General for Nova Scotia says that, ". . . is fundamentally wrong from an accounting principles perspective.". Now I think that is the part of the book that is most relevant because it is dealing with the deficit. This whole (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, will you tell that fellow just to hush. I hear a taxi driver tooting, he is on his way to the airport. Where are you going to go flying to now? Let's see if we can go better than $51,000 this year, go at it some more, come on. He said that your accounting principles are fundamentally wrong. (Interruption) He used to be a school teacher. It is a good thing I wasn't because if I had a student that couldn't hear and refused to listen, I don't know what I would do with him. That member opposite, I don't know how he got as far as school sometimes because he will not listen, he cannot read a thick book beyond Page 15 and then he stops.

The Minister of Finance when this change took place was Bruce Cameron, oh no, that is just the spokesman. The importance of the Auditor General's Report regarding when he is speaking of the accounting principles is dealing directly with the deficit.

[Page 1121]

[7:45 p.m.]

This whole government, the Minister of Finance (Interruption) Oh Mr. Speaker, is there anything we can do with that guy? Is there anything we can do with him? He is such a bore.

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

MR. ARCHIBALD: Buy him a ticket, yes. Tell him there is a meeting in Malaysia and he is gone. The whole government's thrust and its reason for being and its most exciting adventure was when the Minister of Finance stood in his place and he said, "Today, I am pleased to confirm to all of Nova Scotia, is that we have achieved our first, real budget surplus in more than 20 years.". You know how he scrunches his little fist up. "For the first time in modern memory, we are paying down the debt, not building it up.".

The most important thing that this government had going for it was the belief by Nova Scotians that they had balanced the budget. Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General, in his report just last week, said, boys, you are puffing smoke. The only way you balanced the budget was by practising accounting principles that are fundamentally wrong. If you used the same principles for accounting that you are supposed to use according to your documentation, you would have had a $46 million deficit. You cannot make it any clearer than that.

If the Minister of Community Services wants to pick out pages here and there. (Interruption) Why don't we read right here? "Significant amounts of public funds be accounted to the House of Assembly. It should be structured to preserve such accountability.". I can find all sorts of great phrases and paragraphs. But when it comes to dealing with the deficit, I will tell you, very clearly, Mr. Speaker, why the deficit is so important to this government. Health care was supposed to be the big issue. They have blown it out of the water. Health care is in a shambles. Education is a shambles. No taxation - we have had tax increases. Every single premise that this government stood for crumbled down around their ears. They only thing they had left was a balanced budget and last week the Auditor General told us that it wasn't even balanced. So, the whole works is a shambles.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: On a question, Mr. Speaker. The member opposite alluded to the fact that he was saying that the accounting principles are flawed. I just have a couple of questions I would like to ask the member if he would be willing to share the floor with questions. The first one is, the company that has been hired by the government to do the books, Deloitte & Touche is a reputable company and I would ask the member opposite first, is that the same company for which their government, when they were in power, used to do their books?

[Page 1122]

MR. ARCHIBALD: This is just like the old days when I used to get questions and I like it. In fact, I am quite ready to go back and answer questions again. I can't wait until we trade sides of the House, honourable minister. Now, Deloitte & Touche is a very good, well-known Nova Scotian and worldwide company and, in fact, they are the company (Interruptions) I was just over there last week and my income tax is all done and all sent away and they did it for me. Since 1953, the little company, they have has always done the accounting principles. That was a company that was started in Halifax as a very small company by two accountants, Don Archibald and Harold Egan started it back in the early 1950's. Mr. Gurnham was one of the three original partners. He is still a practising chartered accountant over there. That company has a lot of credibility, more credibility, Mr. Speaker, than this government.

When the Auditor General, Mr. Roy Salmon, was hired, just for clarification, a lot of people may not realize this, but Roy Salmon was hired by the Government of Nova Scotia on the advice of three people. Can any of you guess who the three people were? (Interruption) You knew, you see. The Leader of the NDP, the Leader of the Liberal Party and the Conservative who was Premier at the time. It was all-Party committee that said, look, we are taking politics out of the Auditor General's selection. We want to have it seen and be transparent. This is the way the Tory Government operated, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Don't push it, George.

MR. ARCHIBALD: We wanted to be fair, open and transparent, so there was an all . . . (Interruptions) I have a little paper here. I will read what you said about people who sit on the back bench, if you don't be quiet.

It was an all-Party committee that selected Mr. Salmon as the person to be Auditor General for Nova Scotia. To take politics out of it so the public would say this is an impartial employee, he was hired by three Parties.

One of the conditions that Mr. Salmon specified when he arrived in Nova Scotia was that he take over the position as provincial auditor, like all other governments in Canada. Now, we agreed with that. Our government agreed with that, but before that happened there was what you call a general election and we were out the door. The Liberal Government won and they decided no, they did not want to have the Auditor General as the provincial auditor. They preferred to carry on with the private company. That is what the government does.

Today, Mr. Speaker, you would be interested to know that the Leader of the Opposition introduced a bill in this Legislature which will be debated, that calls for the Auditor General to be the provincial auditor. That is it. There are no outside sources. It is this auditor and that is the end of the road. I think that is a real step forward and I hope that this government will take a lesson from the previous government and take a lesson from the impartial three Party Leaders who made the decision and perhaps read the legislation put

[Page 1123]

forward by the honourable Leader of the Opposition and will support the legislation to make the Auditor General the provincial auditor.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member entertain another question?

MR. ARCHIBALD: Is this coming off my time or are we going to add it on at the other end?

MR. SPEAKER: This is coming off your time.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, then, it had better be a very short question.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: I thank my honourable colleague for allowing me to ask another question. He never answered the first question and that was whether or not Deloitte & Touche was the firm that was hired and did the work of the books in the previous administration? The answer to that question, I understand, is yes. He was afraid to answer that question and when he said I like to answer questions when I am on this side of the House, now you know why he is on that side of the House. He could not answer the question in the first place.

The second issue is that that company he alluded to is a world renowned, reputable firm, a firm for which there is a set of guidelines and principles that they have to follow. If they do not follow those guidelines and principles, they would lose their licence to practise. The question the member opposite is really referring is whether or not the credibility of that particular firm for doing the auditing on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia is in question. If so, is he prepared then to challenge the credibility of that particular company in regard to doing an honest set of books for the Province of Nova Scotia showing a surplus of $4.7 million to Nova Scotians?

MR. ARCHIBALD: Boy, I am sure glad we got that cleared up. What I want you to do is open the books to Page 22. The Auditor General is a fine upstanding person. The chartered accountant firm is a fine upstanding firm as well.

The Province of Nova Scotia has a set of guidelines that were read to you a moment ago by the honourable member for Hants West. I do not have them in front of me. He has them on his desk. The Government of Nova Scotia decided not to follow the rules that it has laid down for accounting principles. That is fine, but not according to the Auditor General. You see, if the government wants to disregard its own rules and regulations, then it should change the rules and regulations. It should not ask Deloitte & Touche to come in and ask them for a very limited audit. If they were instructed to operate under this - it is not an extensive audit. The bill from them for doing it is less than $100,000. Come on, even the $51,000 traveller ought to know that you do not get a huge audit for $100,000. You are not going to audit the Province of Nova Scotia's books for $100,000.

[Page 1124]

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member just stated there was a limited audit. On Page 32 of the Report of the Auditor General the reputable firm that the honourable member is referring to states very clearly, "total expenditures of the province . . .", it goes on and fills the second last bracket, $4.169 million surplus. It goes on and says, "After examining all of these matters, and after taking all factors into consideration, it is our professional opinion that the results of this accounting treatment did not materially misstate the financial position or results of operations of the Province, as reflected in the financial statements taken as a whole for the year . . .", he is referring to.

Now one of two things, Mr. Speaker. He is either challenging this company and saying they are misstating for a second time - they, first of all, have given us information that he is suggesting is absolutely wrong and against the rules that they practise; or, in fact, he is challenging the credibility of the firm Deloitte & Touche. It is as clear as that. They can't keep saying over and over again that the Auditor General is saying one thing, and when he is saying accountability, it is there; he is saying on this one item he is finding a problem. Deloitte & Touche counters and says, we said it was here first, we say again that that is the case.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable minister take a question?

MR. ARCHIBALD: The honourable minister is in full flight tonight. Could you please tell me how you could spend $31,000 travelling around the world, more than any other member in your Cabinet, and the people in Cornwallis District High School ran out of paper in January? You had more concern for yourself. Do you want to explain that while you are doing all your pious chit-chat?

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the honourable member, the way he escapes always from, if I could, not telling this House exactly what it is about, he skates to something else. The truth of the matter is that this honourable member is making disparaging remarks about Deloitte & Touche, a company that they had with them while they had a deficit here that was driving this province into bankruptcy and he refuses to recognize that. It says, year after year we are doing better and better. There is a dispute on one tiny item but he is making it as if the Auditor General is condemning how the honourable Minister of Finance is keeping the books. It is just not so. The book says it is not so and he should quit saying that over and over again because it is not true.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: I would like to speak to that point of order. Mr. Speaker, we are not saying on this side of the House that Deloitte & Touche have done something illegal. We are not saying that. (Interruptions) This member opposite is the one who is saying he has no confidence in what the Auditor General has said in his document.

[Page 1125]

I would ask the member if he would turn to Page 26 of the Auditor General's Report. I believe he used to teach mathematics. Well, if he taught mathematics and he can understand a very simple statement at the bottom of the page, where we have a restatement of the province's financial results for 1996. On that revised accounting we find that the deficit is $48,113,000, compared to what the Minister of Finance brought forward in his document, the estimates of the province, a surplus of $2,801,000.

I say to that minister that that restatement by the Auditor General is correct when you take into account the Basis of Accounting Statement in the province's Public Accounts. If you follow that regime, that is where you end up. Okay, you are in the hole by $48 million.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think what is important to recognize here is that what we have is - and I want to quote the former Minister of Finance, who is responsible for this auditing change, from Friday afternoon last. This has to do with the whole point about who is right or who is wrong. I think the question is summed up by the former Minister of Finance this way. He says on Page 1077, "He is entitled to his different view. I will put the view of the internationally reputed accounting firm against the Auditor General on any accounting question at any time, Madam Speaker. They are our accountants and our auditors.". In other words, what the former Minister of Finance, who is responsible for having made this sleight of hand, what he is saying is that they have hired, they have paid for this other accounting firm and they are going to take their word before they take the Province of Nova Scotia's own Auditor General.

[8:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: On the point of order. It is certainly not a point of order; it is opinions expressed by the members that have been recognized and we will return back to the honourable member for Kings North. I would like to advise the member, you have approximately 20 minutes.

MR. ARCHIBALD: I want to thank all the people who were so helpful with their interjections. They added a great deal to the debate and ate up most of my time and I am only on Page 1.

Mr. Speaker, if I can recap quickly (Laughter) I want to highlight one of the gaffes this government has been involved in, all the hat racks where they tried to hang their hat, in Health Care, Education, Community Services, and Transportation, it has all fallen by the way- side. They are resting their laurels on a balanced budget. The Auditor General clearly said following the accepted accounting methods that this province has adopted, you do not have a balanced budget. If you want to bring in some alternate methods of doing bookkeeping then you can balance your budget, but if you want to follow the same standard that you have laid down, then you have not balanced your budget. He said it very clearly and that is the opinion that Nova Scotians are going to be swayed by.

[Page 1126]

The Auditor General should be the auditor for Nova Scotia, and we will debate that this week. The hiring of our Auditor General was done by the all-Party committee. The Department of Health is over budget, but it is a funny thing how we can have selective accounting and selective bookkeeping and selective overbudgeting. When the new Minister of Finance arrived as the Minister of Health, the purse strings were suddenly opened. The Department of Health was suddenly no longer hamstrung by a shortage of cash to which the former minister was subjected. When the Minister of Health said we are short $60 million, I am just going to take it from other departments and he took it, gathered it up, his friends and his colleagues supported him, as they do today in his endeavour to higher office.

In 1993, the Expenditure Control Act, this Act was suppose to show Nova Scotians that the government would live within its budget. It was the same sort of discussion as The Fifth Principle, in the Shaping the Future, where it said that, "Government has an obligation to conduct the people's business in public and to make every effort to ensure the people understand the consequences . . .". That is what the Auditor General is trying to do, but this government decided that they wanted to try to fool the people and this is what they have been trying to do, and they were caught and they will stand to defend it to the last minute.

One of things that troubles Nova Scotians is when they suddenly wake up and they realize that they have had the wool pulled over their eyes, each of us should thank the Auditor General for being so frank and so open in his discussion with the accounting practices followed by this government. He did not allow himself to be subjected to the constraints, the arm-twisting of this government. The Auditor General has a job to do and he wants to do it. When you look at the extra appropriations and you see $39 million for the Department of Health, doubtful accounts. I can't wait for the Auditor General to pass comment on that.

You see down further, the Infirmary cost many millions of dollars to renovate before it was opened. I was there two weeks ago with my mother for a check-up after her hip replacement operation. We were there for hours and hours. We talked to staff over there. The staff are not a happy group of people; the nurses, the clerical, the cleaners, nobody. They say it just doesn't work. It is like fitting square holes with round pegs sort of thing. It just doesn't function the way it is supposed to, Mr. Speaker.

I don't understand why this government decided when the hospital was almost completed, as a replacement for the Infirmary, that they wanted to change its use rather than be a replacement. The Minister of Health wanted to have a press conference with the Queen when she was here and named it the QE II, amalgamated the whole works and then started redesigning a brand new facility at the cost of millions of dollars, Mr. Speaker, that could have gone into patient care and home care, hiring staff, went into tearing down and reconstruction of a brand new hospital in the City of Halifax.

[Page 1127]

Mr. Speaker, it was a bizarre situation. I have heard the numbers upwards of $40 million spent on this replacement hospital, so that it would become something that it wasn't supposed to be in the first place. (Interruption) That debate may be for another day. The $39 million will be a debate for another day; the $39 million reserved for doubtful accounts, I think, is a reserve for an election campaign because nobody in the Department of Health has given you or me or anybody else a list of these doubtful accounts. So it is another $39 million that they will be wheeling out.

We saw the Minister of Transportation last week wheel out $59 million that suddenly appeared from nowhere. The Minister of Health will be making announcements willy-nilly as he campaigns around the province for his leadership and this $39 million will be handy. (Interruption) Yes, this would be healthy paving. Money hidden away, you know, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)

This whole scheme of the government as they near an election with this extra appropriation, et cetera, is an attempt to hide and to confuse the Nova Scotian taxpayers. A couple of weeks ago, the Minister of Finance said, things are better now. We have gone through the tough times. The fun times are here again. Mr. Speaker, we are spending our own money. We don't have to borrow. We have an open government. Let me go back and read you some of this drivel that we have. "In matters of public finance, accountability and credibility are essential.", and, "Government has an obligation to conduct . . . business in public and to make every effort to ensure the people understand the consequences of government decisions.".

This is one of the pillars that this government thought and Nova Scotians thought, but, you know, this government now is starting to rely on hide and seek, confuse, pull the wool over your eyes. This government is not acting the way they said they were going to just a few short months ago. We have tolls on Highway No. 104. We are going to have tolls on Highway No. 103, apparently but Nova Scotians want to be told where they are going to be tolled. (Laughter) Do you like that, Mr. Speaker? They do want to know. Truly, last week when the Minister of Transportation was asked in the House whether there were going to be tolls on the new Highway No. 103, he would not tell us. He said yes, he said no, maybe and who knows. This is not the principle that this government was elected on. Nor is it the principle of that fine document Shaping the Future.

This government indicated that they wanted to be open and frank, but yet the deficit is $36 million and they are trying to say it is a surplus. The Minister of Health put up with budget reductions in 1993, but the Minister of Health in 1996 and 1997 does not have those things. Is that fair, equitable treatment for Nova Scotians or is that more of a political agenda by a very political government?

[Page 1128]

When you get into government, trying to practise, not what they preach, because they are preaching openness, fairness and accountability, but when they are hiding money - $39 million in Health, when they force amalgamations in schools, it is a bit of a problem. In the local newspaper in Cape Breton the other day, "The . . . Education Coalition for the Strait Regional School Board met in Port Hawkesbury on March 9.".

They are saying the same thing about this amalgamated school board. They have indicated the $600,000 cost increase for renovating for office space. The Minister of Education told us there was going to be extra money for the classrooms, however, the school board is spending over $0.5 million renovating space; $300,000 increase for central office staff; $163,000 for central office staff meals and travel expenses. You see, this government promised money for classrooms, help for students but what the Education Coalition in Port Hawkesbury said that that is not what is happening.

That is the same thing as the Auditor General said. The government tells you they are going to have this big surplus but in fact they had a deficit. The Minister of Education said $11 million extra for classrooms, but the people in the community are saying $0.5 million in office renovations and $100,000-some odd for meals and travel.

If you are going to say, we are an open government, we are going to be a transparent government, then you should be. It is not fair to Nova Scotians to do that. Shaping the Future was something that Nova Scotians believed in. The editorial writers believed in it.

What happened? The government tried to fool Nova Scotians by turning a deficit into a surplus with some creative accounting. Some of our great industries and some of our great sources of economic activity and employment in the province do not get treated the same by this government for extra appropriations. Some of our departments that are concerned with job creation and wealth creation in Nova Scotia lost money this year. The Minister of Health said, I need more money for my department. One of the departments was Agriculture that took a loss. They had to give money to Health so Health could look after their appropriations.

[8:15 p.m.]

Who is in charge, Mr. Speaker? Are the people in Nova Scotia in charge, or is it government, in a desperate attempt to try to win an election? The government said we are going to save money because our primary concern is balancing the books, so they forced amalgamation in Cape Breton, where it has cost them millions of dollars. They forced it in metro Halifax, where it is costing millions of dollars. They have downloaded to municipalities. In Kings County the other day it was $700,000 and counting, Kentville was $150,000 and counting. I mean the tax bills for Nova Scotians are going to soar. The basis for this government trying to claim a balanced budget is on the back of the municipal taxpayer.

[Page 1129]

That is not fair; that is not living up to this great principle that the government says the people of Nova Scotia should understand the extent to which government is overspent in any given year. The people of Nova Scotia, according to the government's own words, are entitled to know the honest accounting of this province. This year the Auditor General was overruled by the words of another company, a private company that was hired to do an audit, under a different set of rules of operation than the Auditor General works.

The government has an obligation to conduct their business in public and to make every effort to ensure that people understand the consequences of government decisions. On amalgamation in school, Mr. Speaker, we were told of savings of $11 million; on amalgamation of municipal units we were told of millions of dollars of savings. That didn't happen in either case.

Taxes on oil, electricity, gasoline, even clothing less than $100 for kids and senior citizens and most of us in this Chamber, most of our clothes we are buying for $100 and now we are paying tax. You see the government said that credibility is essential if you are going to conduct business in public.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I am telling you in all honesty, the way this government is operating with the extra appropriations, by trying to hide the proper accounting methods that government operates under, it indicates to all Nova Scotians that this government is trying to hide the true financial picture in Nova Scotia. Even if you enjoy coffee and a couple of donuts, this government has put the tax up on that.

Now last week one of our members who asked the question in the House was scolded by the communications guru, Bruce Cameron, for the Department of Finance. He said no, no, you don't understand. What the Department of Finance guru didn't understand was that he was quoting New Brunswick figures, where their taxes were higher than ours before the BST, so now we are at the same tax level as they are in New Brunswick and it is costing us more for the little enjoyment of coffee and a donut.

You know when the government tries to mislead Nova Scotians by making claims that their taxes are going to save you money, when the government tries to mislead Nova Scotians into thinking they have done some great wizardry and they have saved money through frugality but, in actual fact, this government posted a deficit rather than a surplus. The only way we know, Mr. Speaker, is because the Auditor General is doing his job. Now these members of the government stand up in their places in this House and condemn the Auditor General for doing the work that he is paid to do and operating under the rules and guidelines and regulations that are stipulated by the government.

Well, Mr. Speaker, if this government does not want to operate under the rules and regulations that they have specified for the Auditor General, the only choice they have is to change the rules in the open, on the floor of this Legislature. If you don't want to follow the

[Page 1130]

rules that are laid down, then you should change the rules. The members opposite who are standing up and heaping scorn upon the Report of the Auditor General, they should really think again and stand for the people in their constituencies who sent them here. They should remember the words of their Premier when he told them all, "Government has an obligation to conduct the public business in public and to make every effort to ensure the people understand the consequences of government decisions. In matters of public finance, accountability and credibility are essential.". Those members who are critical of the Auditor General should read the words that they are supposed to be governing this province by. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to rise and say a few words this evening on the resolution that is before us. I feel slightly intimidated following the very succinct comments of the previous speaker, but I will attempt to do my best.

One of the things that I must admit that I found a little bit interesting is the previous speaker and a few others on the Progressive Conservative benches, when they were standing to speak and they were talking about credibility being essential for government in order so that the government can be taken seriously, that they certainly have to maintain their credibility and they talked about things like extra appropriations. I might say that maybe those who spoke a few moments ago from the Conservative benches have a short memory because, indeed, maybe I will have an opportunity to get into some of the appropriations that were made by the former Conservative Government in a like manner to that which the Liberals are making at the present time.

One cannot help but conclude that a large part of the justification that the Liberals use to proceed with their poor practices is that they say we can do it because you did it too; therefore, since we are just acting like Tories, it is obviously okay for us to do it and you won't be critical of us.

The resolution that is before us is quite simple in what it states. It states that whereas - and I will just refresh this in part because we have been around for a few days debating this and we have gone and covered some ground which isn't always necessarily totally in keeping with the resolution, but trying to bring it back on track - it talks about how the Expenditure Control Act, which is of course an Act of the Legislature, limits government expenditures to a predetermined level. That is what we have been doing in this House. We have been talking over the last number of days about the budget projections and the budget estimates for the province in terms of how much money is going to be budgeted for spending for particular programs in the upcoming fiscal year, 1997-98. That is what that book is which outlines what department expenditure is supposed to be; it set predetermined levels. As part of the Budget Debate, of course, you then not only look at what was budgeted but also what was actually spent.

[Page 1131]

Then we also have under the Expenditure Control Act that you can only make expenditures that are exceeding the amounts approved in the Estimates Book if you have a resolution passed by this House. This House passes the budget and so you can only deviate from those expenditure levels with the approval of the Legislature, that is, if you are going to be exceeding it by more than 1 per cent. The government said that since we are having to do that, we are back here with a resolution seeking the approval.

What the government is seeking an approval for is a sum of, ". . . $139,479,000 be granted to the Lieutenant Governor to defray expenses in respect to the following matters . . .".

What we are debating on the floor is a resolution which is saying that the government was off in its projections by approximately $140 million. The truth is that is only part of it because the government has already, without coming on the floor of the House, this government down in their bunker behind the red veil of secrecy, has already approved other pretty hefty overexpenditures in several other areas.

This is a group that claims to be good fiscal managers, but if you take a look at the dates on these - for example, this Order in Council was dated April 22, 1997, which is after, I believe, the budget was actually introduced. The budget was introduced on April 17th. Five days after they introduced the budget, they had to pass an Order in Council to authorize the overexpenditures that they made last year to the tune of about $23 million. Those $23 million are not included in the resolution that I refer to. They included the Department of Community Services, $5.5 million; they included the Department of Education and Culture, $15.3 million. Maybe that $15.3 million was needed because the so-called savings from amalgamation did not show up and since they did not show up, the schools, of course, of this province which are desperately underfunded needed more money, so they approved five days after the budget was introduced a resolution authorizing that expenditure.

The Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs received another $2.8 million. It was approved, again, five days after the following year's budget was introduced. The Westray Mine public inquiry received an additional $750,000, again, five days after the budget. That is not it as well, because if we go back to February 25th, there were I think it was 13 other additional overexpenditures that were authorized. What it tells you is that the good fiscal managers who are supposedly keeping track of how monies are being spent are not doing that at all. What it tells you is that as they are finishing up their year and after they have done their bean count at the end of the year, they are looking to see where they stack up in terms of have we managed to live within our means. When they discover that they have not actually done that, when they discover at the last minute that they overspent in those particular areas, downstairs in their bunker they pass an Order in Council to authorize those overexpenditures.

[Page 1132]

[8:30 p.m.]

The so-called good fiscal managers are actually looking at the last minute to catch where they fouled up and then in secret they have passed millions of dollars worth of extra expenditures. If you take a look at it, the Liberals are not alone in this. They did not invent it. They haven't invented incompetency. They followed the example of the Tories who preceded them and are trying to live up to their reputation. (Interruption)

The minister opposite is saying we are doing it out in the open and this part is being done in the open. I concede that. I admit that as a result of the legislation and the Act, you are required when you exceed it by certain amounts, to debate it on the floor of the House and that is a positive move. However, only some of your mistakes are being put into the public forum and only, Madam Speaker, after a lot of it, at the last minute, is being caught.

For example, the Buchanan Tories, in 1989-90, required by that overexpenditure Order in Council route down in their bunker, the blue bunker in those days, they had approved an additional $126.3 million in additional appropriations, so good was their financial management. In fact, they were approving additional appropriations even before the budget passed. Back in 1992-93, the Cameron Regime ran up, they had a blue bunker as well . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: It was sort of a bluey-green.

MR. HOLM: That was the born-again Tories. They were born again by bringing up the over-appropriations to $144 million. So when you look at the Tory record, one can understand that the Liberals would think, well, they did it, so we can get away with it too. But, of course, the Liberals promised that they were turning over a new agenda, that they were going to be following a new course and that the irresponsible accounting of the past would come to an end. Of course, under the now Minister of Health and former Minister of Finance's first budget, they had to go after $41 million in extra appropriations and it was up to $60 million by 1994-95. Then, of course, we have the many millions of dollars that I have already referenced this year that have been approved and now we have the resolution, which is for approximately $140 million.

Madam Speaker, let's be clear about a lot of this. What is the purpose of it? Why is the government doing a lot of what the government has been doing in terms of how it has been juggling the books, how it has been moving dollars around, and even, in part, in the additional appropriations resolution that is before us? It has to do with politics. It has to do with elections. It is kind of ironic, sometimes elections can be positive. Sometimes the coming of an election can spur, can force governments into doing things that are right.

For example, I understand that the chief titan of the federal Liberal team, Jean Chretien, today announced that, lo and behold, all of a sudden, that they are going to cancel the last year of the CHST reductions to the provinces. I say Hear! Hear! I applaud that; $1.5

[Page 1133]

billion less will be ripped out of our systems than has been ripped out before. That should account for Nova Scotia for about $187 million, if the information I received is correct, and that is good, Madam Speaker.

Why did it happen? It happened because there is a federal election underway and the Prime Minister knows full well that Canadians, Nova Scotians included among them, are sick and tired and had it up to here with the cuts of the federal government, how they have been decimating the education system, how they have been destroying the health care system across this country.

As a result, obviously of polls, as a result of the government knowing that they are going to get the kicking they deserve, the Prime Minister on the first day of the election campaign runs around and says, we are sorry, we have done a lot of harm so we will give it back. So there is something good. While the 11 silent MPs here from Nova Scotia sat on their hands with their mouths shut, doing nothing, finally, when the election is called, lo and behold the light of day gets through and a sense of conscience, spurred on by the wrath of the voters that they knew was going to come, forced the federal Liberals into doing the right thing.

Madam Speaker, that is positive. Maybe the (Interruption) I will come back to that - maybe, as the next number of weeks unfold, the next five weeks unfold and the federal election campaign, maybe the federal Liberals will attempt to pretend that the destruction they have been inflicting and which has been hurting the credibility and, I will concede, making it harder for the red team here in Nova Scotia, maybe they will try to undo some of their harm and, once more, smash open the piggy bank and maybe they might even cut off some of those tax breaks and loopholes for the very wealthy, who seem to be getting all the breaks at the expense of the middle-class families and the lower-income families. So maybe there will be something positive coming out of that. Maybe, as a result of that, there will not be as many cuts to the health care system as there have been imposed and are proposed to be imposed, as a result of some of those federal cuts. So maybe the federal election is starting to have a positive effect.

All I can say is, Heaven help us if that same bunch gets back in Ottawa because right after the election if they don't have strong checks and balances put on them, then you know, Madam Speaker, they have already shown their stripes. They have already shown that they are prepared to rip up and destroy the fabric of Canadian society, the health care system. You can be darn sure that given a chance, they will once more turn around to try to be the mouthpiece and a couple of terms that I was going to use that would be unparliamentary so I withdraw from where I was going and I come back to my more normal, genteel way, to suggest that the federal Liberals have shown that they are far more concerned about the Bay Street people, the movers and shakers, the back-room wheelers and dealers, those who will make billions of dollars from drug patent legislation, those who have gouged Canadians, they are more concerned about them than they are about the working families in this province.

[Page 1134]

Hopefully, Madam Speaker, the decision, the repentance of the Prime Minister will pay some dividends for Canadians and for Nova Scotians in particular. Of course, one of the major cuts of the CHST was ripping $100 million a year out of the health care system in Nova Scotia, and if the federal Liberals had not been so tight-fisted and if they had not been so prepared to bend over backwards for the wealthiest and the largest corporations that pay virtually no taxes, and there are about $90 billion in tax expenditures, the breaks, the deferrals, et cetera to them, then we would not be in this situation today, if they valued what Nova Scotians and Canadians value more, that is the social safety net that includes health and education. (Interruption) The member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley says a little profit isn't bad. Madam Speaker, he is absolutely right. There is nothing wrong with a little profit. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that at all. I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with a little profit.

What I am saying is that when we are getting into the $90 billion range of the tax expenditures and these companies are making many millions of dollars and not paying any taxes, that is where I am having some difficulty. When people in his constituency who are struggling to get by and in my constituency who are struggling to get by with the day-to-day costs, they have to pay taxes. I am sure even that member would agree with me that there needs to be a better balance. Those who have the most should pay their fair share and not expect that those who are in the lower and middle income brackets would pick up the fair share or amount that should be paid by the fat cats - the ones who are getting all the breaks.

When one takes a look at what is going on in terms of the accounting and so on in Nova Scotia and there was some debate earlier about things like the Report of the Auditor General. I note that the government members were using some creative arguments as they were trying to challenge the Report of the Auditor General.

The Auditor General has not, and I will underscore this, challenged or said that the accounting work that was done by Deloitte & Touche was wrong. He has not said that the figures were added up incorrectly. He does not say that. He is not taking exception to their bean counting at all. He is not saying and he has not said that the amount of the total debt for the Province of Nova Scotia as being reported is inaccurate. He has not said that.

What the Auditor General took exception to and what the Auditor General said has not been followed, are the procedures that are laid out in the Expenditure Control Act that require that the expenditures are to be listed as expenditures in the year in which they were spent and that the revenues that are to be recorded are to be recorded in the year in which you receive them. In other words, I can just picture it. If I went to Revenue Canada, I am sure they would be really amused with this idea. If I went to Revenue Canada and I put forward on my income tax statement and I included on that expenses that I am going to make next year. So next year I decide, gee whiz, I am going to get maybe a lot of dental work done. Maybe I will go in and I will get half a dozen root canals or whatever and in my next tax year I am going to spend $5,000 on my teeth. I know that. I have gotten my estimates.

[Page 1135]

I see the member opposite starting to chuckle. He sees how ridiculous this would be as well. So, I know that it is going to cost me $5,000. I know if I have $5,000 to deduct from my income tax this year, I am going to save some money. So what I do is I simply say well, I am going to be spending it. I am reserving it for that. Since I am reserving the money for my expenditure next year, I will simply claim it on my income tax and say I spent it this year and I will save myself taxes on $5,000, because maybe next year my income will be lower.

As ridiculous as that sounds, that is exactly what the Province of Nova Scotia did. They did not do it to fudge on their income tax payments. They did it to fudge their books to try to improve their persona to make them look good, to make it look like they know what they are doing. The question one bright, intelligent person might ask, well, why would they do that. What is the point?

The point is that they have a date with the voters. They have a date with the electorate. They have to go within the next year and they have to allow their names to stand and they have to try to justify what they have done to the people of Nova Scotia in hope that they do not join the unemployment line.

[8:45 p.m.]

If you look at what the government has done, what is the legacy of this government so far? We have, as a result of, thank you very much, the Liberal red team and yes, I can see the blue team helped a lot by getting us into the fiscal situation that we are in right now, they were not and I am never going to accuse the former Conservative Government of being good fiscal managers, that I cannot do, they created a lot of problems, no question about it, but the Liberals knew what those problems were when they took office, they knew about them before they took office and any member of the Liberal benches who says no we did not, then I suggest those Liberal members go and do some research and look at some of the press releases and press statements made by your now still Premier and your former Minister of Finance when they were in Opposition because they were projecting, almost bang on, the amount of the deficit that the Tories had in the last year, so they knew.

As a result of the Liberal Government's processes here in Nova Scotia, all of their failed processes, their 30-60-90 that went absolutely nowhere other than to get a few people a free lunch somewhere as they were brought into consult; it was the powerful, the important people who got that, the average citizens who came to the meetings had to pay their own way.

We had the 30-60-90s and we had the failed employment strategies, and we have as many unemployed Nova Scotians now as we did almost four years ago when the Liberals assumed office. We have a health care system that is under attack with doctors who have left; we have emergency departments that are under crises because of the stress, we have had approximately one third of the hospital beds in Nova Scotia closed; and we have people who

[Page 1136]

cannot get in to receive the emergency service and the treatment that they need. Of course, the government says oh no, it is not happening. See no evil, hear no evil and then, hopefully, nobody will say anything. Well, people are saying something because they are both seeing and hearing what is happening in the health care system across Nova Scotia.

The monies that are put in here, in the extra appropriations, have not and are not solving the problems. What they have done, as flawed as they were in their budgetary process not being able to project more closely - I do not know why anybody should think that the Department of Health was going to come in accurate anyway because it has been way off every year for the last number of years in their projections - what they are doing and what they have shown here in their budget projections is just about as accurate as they have been in their health care reform; that is, that they did not do the proper planning, they do not know where they are going and they have not lined up their ducks before they went ahead with their actions.

The Auditor General in his report was very clear, despite what the government members who stand on their points of order to protest say, and I would also say he was, as the member for Hants West said, very fair. What he did say was no, not that the total debt of the province was higher than what is said by the government in its statements, but it points out that what the government did - these are my words, I am putting the meaning on what the Auditor General has said happened - I am saying it is by sleight of hand or attempted sleight of hand, the government pretended to that they were spending or that they spent more money in fiscal 1995-96 to the tune of $50.9 million. To me, that is not change, that is a substantial sum of money, $50.9 million.

Now remember, the expenditure control legislation requires that you list your revenues and you list your expenditures in the year they occur. What the government did is they took $50.9 million worth of expenses saying like the silly example I gave a few minutes ago where I was going to have my dental work done next year, they took that $50.9 million and said they spent it in the following year. That meant in 1995 it looked like they had a much bigger debt than they actually did. Then in the following year they have all this work going on but nothing to show in the books. Then since they have moved money from one year ahead to the other, lo and behold, it looks like they have a surplus. It looks like they have turned the budget around by about $60 million.

The truth is and every single member of the red Cabinet team knew it, not the backbenchers, they aren't involved at this high level of collusion as they are preparing their plans and strategies, it would be each and every member of the Cabinet, they knew what was happening. They knew that they were hiding that money by transferring it forward and the reason was politics, electioneering, that is all it was about.

[Page 1137]

When you take a look at the Auditor General's Report and people have different learning styles, some people learn by listening and I certainly attempt as much as I can according to the Rules of this House to educate members on the Liberal benches by giving them the pleasure of having to listen to my voice drone on and on. Other people learn by looking, they can look at charts, they can look at graphs. When you take a look at the graphs, the charts that appear in the Auditor General's Report on Page 27, Exhibit 2.5, there are Budgetary Surplus (Deficit) and As Reported is a solid line, Restated is a dotted line or a broken line. It shows in the As Reported, that is in the government's report, that this year that solid line reached above the zero to show a surplus. The Restated actual correct method of stating it in accordance with the Expenditure Control Act and the rules of this province, it shows that we had a deficit, not a surplus but that we had a deficit last year, of about $48 million.

If you take a look at it another way as in Exhibit 2.3 on Page 25, if you look at the Changes In Net Direct Debt you notice that every single one of these, including last year, which shows the amount of the debt is below the line. In other words, there is no surplus. Now of course the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism knows better than the Auditor General. Of course, the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism was a member of that Cabinet that would have crafted this strategy. Of course, therefore not only the gentleman whom he is supporting for the leadership was responsible for the sleight of hand but it was the Cabinet.

The Auditor General states, "In our view, the $50.9 million of net capital expenditures being reported in 1995-96 as opposed to 1996-97 is material, and could affect a reader's assessment.".

Madam Speaker, that is why is was done, because the government did intend, as they run to the elections - they did intentionally, I suggest, want to misinterpret or to confuse the public into believing that there was a surplus rather than a deficit. What do they have left as credibility? What they have done in health care? What they have done in education? What they have done in employment? No, and they can't persuade enough Nova Scotians, despite the best efforts of Nova Scotia's Treasury to pave all their problems away, although I understand they are trying to do that. Of course, they hope that our current Premier will be the Velcro man and that all the criticisms, all the problems with this government will stick to the Premier like Velcro and that they will disappear and vanish off with the Premier. To that, I say, not. It will not happen. (Interruption)

The Minister of Labour wants to know how much more opportunity he has to listen to me and, by my calculations, it should be close to 30 minutes, Madam Speaker, give or take a couple of minutes. I don't know if I will bother going the full length of time, but I might.

[Page 1138]

When one looks at the kinds of issues that are involved in the additional appropriations that the Minister of Finance has brought forward, I don't challenge the amount. I certainly do not challenge for one minute the need to guarantee that resources or funds are going to be available for it, but I don't understand why it is an additional appropriation for last year. I don't understand it at all and to me, it appears to be again in violation of the accounting practices, Madam Speaker, whereby you record in the year that you have a revenue or in the year that you have an expenditure, those details.

For example, the Department of Justice. This they did last year, as well. There are additional provisions for claims by victims of institutional abuse of $15 million. Last year there was an additional $33 million put into that fund. The Minister of Finance or the Minister of Justice, either one of them, I am sure, can correct me if I am wrong. By my information that I have, of that $33 million that was already approved for last year, less than $15 million had actually been spent. That is not saying for one second that the other $15 million that is allocated here or the $18 million or more that wasn't spent last year won't be needed. They probably will. That is not the point. The point is proper accounting. They are advancing yet again monies that were not spent.

Madam Speaker, it would strike me as being reasonable in terms of the accounting world that if, for example, last year $15 million would have been spent, then it would show that $15 million would have been spent under that line item in the budget as what was forecast and then it would have forecast forward the amount of money that is anticipated or estimated will be expended in the upcoming fiscal year. They are not going to be spending the full remaining approximately $33 million or $35 million this year because the government changed the rules. The payments, if that full amount is required, is actually going to be made over a period of four years, not as one lump sum, as it was originally.

[9:00 p.m.]

What the government is doing is yet again saying in one year that we have spent this money when, in reality, that money has not been spent and it is actually going to be spent maybe one or two or three years into the future.

Now, Madam Speaker, it is a matter of how you do the accounting. That is not in keeping with what this government professes to be the accounting practices that it follows. (Interruptions) Oh, I see the member for Cape Breton with a 27 per cent unemployment rate and growing is unhappy with my comments. I didn't hear that member standing in his place when the Speech from the Throne was introduced and it completely ignored the unemployment problems in Cape Breton.

Madam Speaker, I know it is Monday night and I know that members on the government benches tend to get a little bit rambunctious . . .

[Page 1139]

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HOLM: I thank you, Madam Speaker, for that. I will even attempt, and it is a challenge not to let their very large rabbit tracks cause me to digress from the points I was getting at. Accountability, balanced books, BST, reduced costs, lower prices, all kinds of things were told to us by this government. It is hard to believe that the fourth year anniversary of this government is coming up. It is hard to believe, whichever way you look at it.

I think the member asked me if I was going to celebrate. I think, Madam Speaker, I am going to sit down with a glass of water and two aspirins and take them and try to forget the memory and the pain of that day. When you look at the accomplishments of this government and you see how little they have done in the way of progress, in terms of making substantial improvements within Nova Scotia, it is really hard to imagine that this bunch has been in office for four years. Others agree, too.

Now when you look at the devastation and the destruction they have been able to wrought, when you look at all the harm and at what they have done to education and to health care, when you take a look at the state of the infrastructure in this province, when you take a look at our forests which don't have the kinds of management agreements that were once in place and the loss of resources to those, when you take a look at all that it is hard to believe that they have been in power for only four years. They are very efficient in being destructive and very deficient when it comes to being constructive.

Maybe because not only have we seen a little bit of progress being made by the federal Liberals running scared on their record, here they said that they can't defend what they have done. I am delighted that Jean Chretien came to - I believe he made his announcement here in Halifax - Halifax to tell Alexa and the people that she has already won this one and that he is going to be putting that money back. That shows that when you have people starting to stand up and speak against the kind of harmful policies of the federal Liberals that even they can pound it through their thick heads and even they, on fear of getting unemployed themselves come June 2nd, even they can see a little bit of remorse and try to make amends to win back voters' support. There is a hope because within a year (Interruption) if you look and the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley . . .

AN HON MEMBER: A former member of the Reform Party.

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: A former member of the Liberal Party.

MR. HOLM: A former member of the Reform Party? No, I don't think he was ever a member of the Reform Party, he just went to a couple of meetings. But he was a former Liberal. I think he actually had a membership card, didn't he, when he ran for the Tories? But that is not unique and it is not a conflict . . .

[Page 1140]

MADAM SPEAKER: We are well off the resolution by miles. I would like to bring you back to it.

MR. HOLM: Madam Speaker, are we? I am sorry. I will just wrap up my observation on that point with the obvious conclusion that one would draw from that and that is that a Liberal is a Tory, the same old story, so it doesn't matter which one it is. (Interruptions)

However, I want to say how I very much appreciate the encouragement and support that I am receiving from members opposite, especially the member for Hants East. It is often difficult to keep going in debates but the member for Hants East with his insightful comments of encouragement, always manages when I am feeling like I am starting to wind down and don't know what I would want to say next, he always does provide the insightful comments like the one he offered a moment ago and that is to get back to the debate.

I very much appreciate the help from the member for Hants East and I look forward to the member for Hants East rising at his place not to heckle - mind you, he does that very well and he doesn't need any more training in that area, he is a master. In fact, one might say he has his Ph.D in heckling - however, what he could use maybe is some more experience in public speaking and what better place to stand and get experience in public speaking than here on the floor of the House because he is going to have to do that within a year as he tries to defend and talk about the devastation that is being brought by this government on the programs across Nova Scotia.

It is Mr. Speaker now, I guess you missed my points. I am sorry that you weren't in the Chair and as much as I know you would like to hear all of my comments that I made before and I know it is against the rules to be overly repetitious so therefore I won't try to repeat everything that I said for your benefit. I will, of course, have a few more other comments that I just have to say very briefly.

The Liberal Government certainly has demonstrated that they can do a few things very well. One, they have learned, they have shown, clearly demonstrated to Nova Scotians that they have the ability to pick up on the bad habits of their predecessors very quickly.

AN HON. MEMBER: We never privatized highways.

MR. HOLM: The member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley says we never privatized highways. No, you did Nova Scotia Power and all Nova Scotians are paying for it. We are paying dearly for it. Where did that money go? It is gone down south.

AN HON. MEMBER: A good URB would put a stop to that.

[Page 1141]

MR. HOLM: The Minister for Economic Development and Tourism says, you know, if we had a good URB they could have done something about that. But you know, they couldn't, because when the Tories privatized Nova Scotia Power they did not give them much power for the URB to do anything. Do you know what else? The red team promised when they were elected that they were going to reregulate Nova Scotia Power and give power to the URB to be able to control them in terms of what they are doing to protect Nova Scotians. Of course, something happened. When the red team got elected, they thought they were Tories, so they forgot about what they promised to do and no regulatory agency, no matter how good the members may or may not be, can do anything more than that which they are allowed to do according to the legislation that is in place.

It took the Tories 15 years to convince Nova Scotians, the majority of them, how totally incompetent they were and what poor business and fiscal managers they were. Do you know what else? I told you a moment ago that the Liberals are far more efficient than the Tories. It only took four years for the Liberals to be able to show Nova Scotians how totally incompetent they are at managing the affairs of the Province of Nova Scotia. Say what you want, as bad as the Tories were, the Liberals certainly are more efficient in terms of being able to lose their credibility, to lose their confidence, and they learned the bad habits of others even more quickly than anybody else.

The government's shell games, its attempts to pull the wool over people's eyes are coming to a close. People across the Province of Nova Scotia read the editorials, read the letters to the editors, read the news reports. People understand. They are not suckers. People understand what the government is doing. If the government had been upfront, if the government had projected and shown the books exactly as they were and not tried to con, not tried to hide, people would have understood that. They would have understood that. For Nova Scotians, about the only thing this government had going for it was in terms of its so-called credibility or integrity as they supposedly pounded on their chest, we have balanced the books. So incompetent is this government that they could not even get that one straight.

People in this province are offended. They take offence to the fact that the Liberal Government for their own partisan narrow political reasons are trying to pretend something that is not true.

[9:15 p.m.]

I hear the very deep voice of the Minister of Health defenders, the Minister of Travel and the Minister of Tourism and they say, go outside and I dare you to say that outside and I have no hesitation going outside or anywhere saying exactly what he said and that is that the Government of Nova Scotia, the Liberals are trying to con. I have no hesitation in saying that the Liberals are con artists in what they are trying to do here or attempting to be con artists here.

[Page 1142]

They may be able to, on their own, over there make light of this. They think that it is funny and they may also think that it is very funny as they line up on the unemployment line with the other 58,000 Nova Scotians who need work, because Nova Scotians do not find this amusing. They do not find it funny to think that the government laughs at, ridicules them for expecting that the government will be up front with them. They are sick and tired of politics of this kind. They want and they deserve the upfront integrity that they were promised.

They will not forget and I know that as the election rolls around, gets even closer, and, of course, this here with the reserve accounts that we see being moved forward and as we have already seen in some of the budget estimates that we have been reviewing so far in this House. We have seen that in other areas the governments are building in these little surpluses and they are moving things ahead from last year to this coming year and part of it, like monies for doubtful accounts, it will be very interesting to see a year from now how accurate, how close the budget projections are in 1998-99 based on the budget in 1997-98.

In other words, the post versus the pre-election budgets because this government next year, I should not say I want to correct myself, sometimes one does misspeak themselves and they say something that is going to lead to the incorrect impression. I started to say that this government next year and that is what I want to retract, Mr. Speaker, when I say, this government, I should have really said the Government of Nova Scotia because if Nova Scotians, like one of the councillors said at the Halifax Regional Municipality Council meeting to one of the members of the Liberal caucus who appeared before them talking about tax rates. One of the councillors said to that Liberal member, well if you really want to help us out, go back and ask the government, ask your Premier to call an early election because we want to get out the broom and we want to do some spring cleaning.

I do not know who is going to be on the government benches next year to replace this bunch, hopefully, it will be good solid fiscal managers. In other words, hopefully the New Democrats will succeed to power. This document next year is going to make this look very trivial because as the government has shown and another thing that they have learned well from the Tories and that is as the elections get closer, you smash open the piggy banks and if there is nothing in there, whatever, it does not matter, spend, spend, spend as you run towards the election in paving and doing all of the other items. Already this year, we have seen that this bunch is acting like Tories and they are certainly running around rather than having a proper businesslike approach to running government, with proper expenditures and planning throughout their term. They have done what the federal Liberals have done, that is to decimate programs, decimate services for the first number of years in their mandate, then they smash out the piggy banks and say, oh, happy times are here again.

I say that happy times are going to be here again. One of the happiest moments for many Nova Scotians, most Nova Scotians, I hope, is going to be going to the polls and, sometime before a year from now, putting an x beside a New Democrat and certainly making sure that they cross out the Liberals and their lookalike mates, the members of the Tory Party.

[Page 1143]

People are sick and tired of the kinds of shenanigans that we have been seeing in the financial management, and well they should be. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity this evening to speak on Resolution No. 134. I would like to read the operative clause, the "Therefore" clause, into the record because I think it is very important.

Therefore be it resolved that a sum not exceeding $139,479,000 be granted to the Lieutenant Governor to defray expenses in respect to the following matters: Department of Health - $124,115,000; Department of Justice - $15,364,000; total - $139,479,000.

That is essentially what the resolution says and when we look at the Expenditure Control Act, we understand that the government has violated its own legislation, Mr. Speaker. (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, the Government House Leader seems to think his own Expenditure Control Act is a joke, but the fact of the matter is that the reason we are debating this resolution is essentially because your government violated its own Act. So the question could be stated, why have the legislation in the first place, if you are going to violate . . .

HON. RICHARD MANN: On a point of order. Just to correct. If we violated the Act, we would not be bringing in the resolution.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, that is a fair statement by the Government House Leader, but I should tell the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism that the Expenditure Control Act states, "In each and every fiscal year of the Province commencing with the 1996-97 fiscal year, the amount appropriated by the Legislature for net program expenditures and the net debt servicing costs as defined in the budgetary summary of the annual Estimates of the Province shall not exceed the amount of revenue estimated by the Minister for that fiscal year.".

But further, "Notwithstanding subsection (1), an amount may be expended in a fiscal year for net program expenditures and net debt servicing costs that is no more than one per cent more than the amount appropriated by the Legislature for net program expenditures and forecast to be spent on net debt servicing costs.". So, inasmuch as the minister is right, stating that they didn't violate the Expenditure Control Act, the fact of the matter is that they contravened the legislation and now are bringing the resolution to the House, the legislation that permits them to overexpend by 1 per cent.

Now the fact of the matter is we have right now before us Resolution No. 134 dealing with this overexpenditure. So the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism can wordsmith a little bit and say, well, we didn't violate the Act. The fact of the matter may be

[Page 1144]

that they are over the 1 per cent and that is why we are here tonight debating Resolution No. 134. Yes, that is correct, we are over the 1 per cent.

Now let's take a look at what the Auditor General had to say. I am not going to criticize Deloitte & Touche and I am not going to . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh, oh.

MR. TAYLOR: In fact, Mr. Speaker, I have not done so. I have never questioned the credibility of Deloitte & Touche. I want to tell the government members that the Auditor General states that in conducting these audits we adhere to the standards - we, that would be the Auditor General and his staff and his department - decreed by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. We are also guided by the recommendations of the Institute's Public Sector Accounting and Auditing Board. That is the Auditor General and his staff.

My question is simply this, Deloitte & Touche also, I am sure, use basic accounting tenets, I am sure they did, use basic principles, accounting principles, tenets - what I am questioning is the government, are you satisfied that they adhered to those same standards? Are you satisfied in your own mind? If you can go to sleep at night and in your own conscience say, yes, Deloitte & Touche used the same basic accounting principles, then, obviously, we do have a problem. (Interruption) There should be a lot of things on your mind before you go to sleep.

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General further states, "Further it was indicated that the adjustment was disclosed.", and we are talking about the $50.9 million of net capital expenditures. That is what we are talking about. (Interruption) The Minister of Community Services likes to cherry-pick when he refers to the Auditor General. We are reading what the Auditor General said pertaining to accounting principles, basic accounting tenets. "Further, it was indicated that the adjustment was disclosed in the supporting notes and schedules to the statements.". We have that financial statement here and it talks about the overexpenditures, the capital net expenditures.

Exhibit 2.6 contains extracts of the disclosure of the adjustment in the financial statements and the financial report. So the Auditor General is saying, yes, you did disclose. We did not say, the Official Opposition, at least, that you did not include the financial statement. What we are saying is that we support the Auditor General when he says that he understands the adjustment was highlighted during a public release of the financial report. However, listen, "It is generally accepted that disclosure in the notes to financial statements is not a substitute for appropriate accounting polices and practices.".

Mr. Speaker, obviously, we have a contradiction here. I think the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Health admit, and I think it was the Minister of Finance, more particularly, said, that we have a disagreement between two auditing firms. The fact of the matter is that

[Page 1145]

this province goes by the Auditor General's Report. The Auditor General reports to the House of Assembly. This government takes great pride and goes to great lengths to tell Nova Scotians that they are a principled government. In fact, when they came to power, they said we are redesigning government. This is what the Savage Liberals said in 1993.

Here is a statement, Mr. Speaker, that this government said in 1996, "Government has an obligation to conduct the people's business in public and to make every effort to ensure the people understand the consequences of government's decisions.". "Nova Scotians are coming to realize that they have a personal stake in the financial position of their province.". Nova Scotians want to know what the real picture is. What is the real picture? That is what Nova Scotians are asking.

The great joy of being a Liberal in Nova Scotia is that you can drift to the left a little bit. What this government is purporting to do now is drift a little bit to the left and they are doing that for people who like spend policies. There are people that like spend policies, but they like tax and spend policies, you see. So they are drifting a little to the left. This government, when it tries to be all things to all people, they move a little bit to the right for those who like a little bit of slash and burning. So they slashed and burned for two or three years and now they are supposedly drifting off to the left a little bit.

I have to state, the electorate out there, Mr. Speaker, is very cynical and it is not going to buy this on election day. They are not going to buy this slash and burn, move to the left, play Santa Claus, Christmas-type government that we are receiving here in Nova Scotia. The electorate is too educated for that. One can't help wonder what these members are saying to their constituents back in their own ridings. One can't help wonder what they are saying, for example, in Cape Breton Nova, Cape Breton South, Victoria. How are they defending these Liberal accounting practices? That is the question.

[9:30 p.m.]

I would say the government, when they came in with the Speech from the Throne and the Budget Address - especially the Budget Address. The Finance Minister said today we have proof, we have all the proof in the world for you. "Today, I am pleased to confirm to all Nova Scotians that we have achieved our first, real budget surplus in more than 20 years.". That is what he said. "For the first time in modern memory, we are paying down the debt, not building it up.". I want to say I personally support paying down the debt, not building it up. However, there is one caveat. This government brought in figures from a private firm that really don't correspond with the Auditor General. That is true. In fact, the Auditor General worked up a chart in here on Page 26, he calls it Exhibit 2.4.

I am not going to go through this but I would urge all members to pick up your Auditor General's Report and look at Page 26. You will see what really - well the Auditor General calls it Exhibit 2.4 and then he puts Restated down here. The restated statement

[Page 1146]

produced by the Auditor General points out that, "Estimate, plus commitments recorded as of March 31, 1996", is a $48,113,000 deficit. That is what the Auditor General of the Province of Nova Scotia said right there. Now I didn't say that; Deloitte & Touche didn't say that, no, no; but the Auditor General.

Let's talk a little bit about the Auditor General and the work that the Auditor General does. You know you can't have it both ways. (Interruption) Well I did promise the Government Whip that I wouldn't take too long but I hope the Whip will certainly recognize that his colleagues have asked some questions that just have to be answered.

This government should be ashamed of itself for not stating to the Auditor General, Mr. Salmon, you do A-one work, you do excellent work, your reputation is impeccable, the work you do is superlative, it is top-notch. Why don't you admit that? (Interruption) Now we have an echo at the end of the government front benches saying, Deloitte & Touche, Deloitte & Touche.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is not infallible.

MR. TAYLOR: No, nobody is infallible. But why weren't the expenditures recorded in the year that they were expended in? Why? That is the question that remains to be answered. Nova Scotians will be the judge. For me, I have no intention of berating Deloitte & Touche, no intention at all. I think they are a very highly respected Nova Scotian company and do work in other provinces.

Let's just look for a moment at what these additional appropriations are going to go for. Right at the top, $39 million is going to go for doubtful accounts. Would the Minister of Finance or perhaps the Minister of Health and wannabe Premier tell Nova Scotians, what are these doubtful accounts, $39 million?

Now occasionally a municipal government and I had an opportunity to serve on the largest municipal council east of Montreal, occasionally we wrote off debts. My colleague for Preston would understand too that there was sound rationale and good reason for property taxes to be written off, people were in a real bind and a real hardship. We understood and recognized there was full documentation and accountability when debts were written off but here we are writing off $39 million in doubtful accounts. There is not a remote chance, not a chance in the world that this could be going into some type of fund is there, Mr. Speaker? There is no chance in the world. Just ask the question, Mr. Speaker.

HON. RICHARD MANN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sure if the member checked, he would find that some of those accounts probably went into arrears prior to 1993.

[Page 1147]

MR. TAYLOR: When we try to look at the arrears, we cannot find the information. When we look back at the arrears.

Home Care Program - they are going to pump an additional $8.9 million into home care. I suggest they have to put more money into home care. I had a call from a constituent - and the government continually accuses us of fearmongering and frightening people about the health care system in this province - I am agreeing with the Minister of Health and the wannabe Premier for Nova Scotia when he says, we have some real concerns with the health care system in this province. The Minister of Health and wannabe Premier says that, time and time again.

The fact of the matter is, the constituent called up and said that her mother had had a heart attack and she was in the critical care unit of the QE II Health Sciences Centre. Unfortunately, the condition of her mother was terminal. She was in the hospital for about a week, in the CCU. At 3:30 in the morning, if you can imagine this and this is a real life story. This is not fearmongering and frightening. It is one of the concerns. It is a real true story. They moved that woman to another hospital and they notified that woman's husband who was 80 years old, they phoned him at 5 o'clock in the morning. I am not going to use names here, but that is ridiculous. If we have a health care system that has no problems, if we did have a health care system like that, these types of things would not be happening. The poor man thought that his wife had passed away. He thought she did and subsequently she did, but the fact of the matter is this is no way to treat people. It was not happening like this back when the Tories were in power in 1993. Those type of things were not happening.

I hold the government accountable and responsible for some of those things. I have another document here, Mr. Speaker. Seeing as how we are talking about appropriations and expenditures, the Minister of Finance from Antigonish and the member who represents Antigonish and I trust he represented Antigonish, in fact, I know he did in 1989. The Minister of Finance gets up and talks about the government of the day back in 1992, 1993, 1989, spending out of control, but did that minister stand up and say anything when the government spent nearly $6 million on highways in his riding in 1989? No, Mr. Speaker. In 1990 they spent $3 million in his riding, for a total of $15 million during the term 1989 to 1992, the last term of that government. Where was that minister then? Where was that member then? Who was he speaking up for then? No, he was saying spend, build the hospitals, build the roads, build the schools, build the highway.

The wannabe Premier, let's not forget the Minister of Health. In his riding, Cape Breton The Lakes, the fifth largest expenditure in the province. That is how the government of the day operated. They treated constituencies fairly. $34,860,000 was spent in Cape Breton The Lakes.

[Page 1148]

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I hope the member is in the process of tabling his documents, I think all honourable members should have access to them. I am sure he will do it when he finishes, please.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. We will certainly raise that point.

MR. TAYLOR: Cape Breton The Lakes had the fifth largest expenditure. The fact I am pointing out is this government wants to be very careful before they jump up and start crapping on the other - start criticizing the other government, before they start chastiszing the other.

I will withdraw that statement because I know the former Speaker did not like that word. I will withdraw that statement and just say, before they start castigating the members opposite, they should look carefully. They should sweep off their own front steps before they start criticizing the previous government. The previous government looked after all constituencies and I have the document to support it. Cape Breton The Lakes - $34 million. Colchester North, another Liberal-held riding. $14 million.

HON. RICHARD MANN: A question, Mr. Speaker. I think it was the week before last in this House, the honourable member was in full flight about current paving trends and talking about his own constituency and said he did not want to hear anything about repaving those 100-Series Highways or constructing that, he wanted to talk about paving work done on the secondary and trunk roads in the riding.

The member, obviously is waving around a paper over there with great pomp and ceremony and I am sure he understands fully how much of that money he is talking about in Cape Breton The Lakes, for example, the $34 million, how much of that would apply to Highway No. 105 and the twinning from North Sydney to Sydney. I am sure he could tell us that and what piddling little amount would be left after that, or the amount, for example, in Colchester North which was just talked about. Would he tell us how much is left after he eliminates the 100-Series twinning and paving on Highway No. 105 and Highway No. 104?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, could I answer that question for him? I will answer it as directly as I can. In Cape Breton The Lakes in 1988, $5.478 Million was expended on highways. In 1989, $12.204 million was spent on highways in Cape Breton The Lakes. In 1990, $5.469 million was spent on highways in Cape Breton The Lakes, and it goes on and on. Millions and millions of dollars were spent in Opposition-held ridings, in Richmond, for example. I should point out while I am looking up in Richmond that the constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has not had one continuous kilometre of pavement completed on one secondary road. That is how fair, I am pointing out how ironic it is that those members would crap, complain, growl, criticize, castigate the previous government when, in fact, their ridings were treated very well.

[Page 1149]

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell us more. Tell us more.

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: How did Hants East do, Brooke?

MR. TAYLOR: They should know this information, they should know these answers, but I will tell the honourable members. Hants East, for the last term of the Tory Government, Hants East had $8.094 million spent in its riding. The member for Hants East, I do not blame him for exiting, he is a very busy man, he is the Government Whip . . .

SOME HON. MEMBERS: He's back.

MR. TAYLOR: He is back. But $8 million was expended and what we have received in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and in my colleagues' ridings since this government took office has been a mere pittance. It has been nothing; it has been disgraceful; it has been absolutely deplorable. That government over there should hang their heads. You bring in figures in the House that really are deceitful, they are basically subterfuge, the figures that you brought in. Basically subterfuge, that is what the figures are.

I ask this government, for goodness' sakes; live up to your committed transparency. Why don't you live up to an open, honest and integrity type government.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: On a point of order, will you table the document, please. Will you do it now, please.

MR. SPEAKER: Once the honourable member is finished, he will table the document.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, unlike perhaps some other documents - there was some chicanery worked into some documents here - this document is legitimate and the government members have this information, but I would ask, before I table this, I have only referenced the top page, so I would ask that . . .

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh, oh.

MR. TAYLOR: I would ask the Page to photocopy the top document, the top page, the only one I referred to. I have looked through, but never, okay, for the record, did anybody opposite hear me mention the constituency of Dartmouth-Cole Harbour? Can anyone mention the amount of money? No, never. It is unanimous that I did not. If you would photocopy the top page and bring me back the original?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member will table his document, please.

[Page 1150]

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, here is an editorial in The Daily News. "Convenient switch to budget surplus. Cooked books or prudent housekeeping? For provincial MLAs, it depends whether you are in or out of government.".

[9:45 p.m.]

What about the people out there, the taxpayers? What are the taxpayers of this province thinking when a government comes in with one set of figures and the Auditor General comes in with another? That is the question. The Opposition, we have a duty and a responsibility to hold you, government members, accountable for your actions and that is what we are trying to do. We are pointing out how it looks to the public. We have the Auditor General right here, the Auditor General's Report. He uses basic principles used by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, the same principles that I hope you use when you do your (Interruption) well, perhaps some of you but I don't know about the minister - I think there is an airplane revving up (Interruption) it is in my constituency. I am pleased that you frequent my constituency so often. I hope you leave some money at the counter.

Mr. Speaker, the Home Care Program does need funds. Now we see where Pharmacare is going to receive $3.9 million; long-term care almost $1 million; the Department of Justice. We understand the reason for some of these appropriations but this government has to come clean with Nova Scotians. This government came to office and shut down . . .

MRS. LILA O'CONNOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege. The honourable member has just mentioned about coming clean. I notice that he was asked to table a document and we have only one page. Is he embarrassed, ashamed, not able to come clean on the rest of the document that he was asked to table?

MR. SPEAKER: The honorable member has been asked to table a copy of the document that he made reference to, please. Thank you.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate and always respect your rulings. I tabled the document I read from. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I distinctly heard him refer to Hants County, Hants East. It is not on his speech and he talked about Richmond, so those are all pages that should be tabled. He is in defiance of you and the House.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order. There was a request for the honourable member to refer to Hants East. He didn't refer to Hants East, he chose not to. I think the government (Interruptions) Look, if the government was half as

[Page 1151]

anxious to table documents when they are requested to do so as this member is, this member has made an excellent example for the government to follow. We would like very much for the government to table documents upon request.

MR. SPEAKER: On the point of order, the honourable member is asked to table a copy of the information he made reference to, pertaining to Hants East and Richmond, please.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I didn't refer to Page 2 and Page 3 but, in the spirit of cooperation, I will gladly table all the documents so you can find out for yourselves how frivolous your arguments are when you start saying that the government spent and spent. I say, where were you when these capital expenditures were taking place? Where were you?

Now the fact of the matter is that government expenditures, while we are debating Resolution No. 134, have exceeded the 1 per cent leeway, leverage that is in the Expenditure Control Act. That is the fact of the matter, Mr. Speaker.

Now you know when you come in with accounting reports that are, at the very least, contradictory, compared to the Auditor General's Report, I think the Opposition does have a job to do, a task to perform. We have tried to point out how it looks to Nova Scotians. The Auditor General was not ambiguous, his report was not puzzling, it was not unclear. His report was not confusing, it was not vague. It was clear, it was certain and it was comprehensible. The Auditor General's Report was very well understood. It was unquestionable, in my opinion.

So, Mr. Speaker, I just want to say, in taking my place, that this government had better get its accounting practices in order if it is going to go to the people and expect the people of Nova Scotia to support some of the initiatives that it is trying to carry out in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable minister it will be to close the debate on Resolution No. 134.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all honourable members for taking part in this debate. There are a number of matters that I could talk about, but, in particular, I want to mention something the Leader of the Opposition brought up on Friday. He mentioned the important question with regard to the dilemma of how to maintain accountability for government spending as you get to the year-end. You brought it up and you quoted from the Auditor General. That is one of the things. I have enough time that I think I can cover.

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We have a direction provided by the Expenditure Control Act, whereby extra spending must be approved by this House. Let's admit, all of us, that this is a vast improvement over the past, under all previous governments where extra appropriations, additional appropriations were simply approved and we got a record of them and that was the end. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, maybe the Finance Critic doesn't want me to answer the question for the Leader of the Opposition. Maybe there is a split in the caucus, I don't know. I wasn't trying to blame the former government. I am just saying that in the past, unlike the present, we have to come here and have this debate and in 15 years in Opposition it didn't happen. We simply got a record of it, sometimes a year later. This is what we are debating today, when we come to be accountable.

The question that arises, however, is one of timing. This is one of the questions the Leader of the Opposition raised. The question is, when does a government fully realize there is a need for extra appropriations? That is the key question. As the fiscal year comes to a close, the issue becomes quite difficult. Quite frankly, this is an issue about which we have had some discussions with the Auditor General and there is a reference, as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out in his remarks on the resolution. In fact, it is an issue we intend to discuss further with the Auditor General. I refer, Mr. Speaker, all honourable members to Page 223, Section 17.29 of the most recent Auditor General's Report.

"Finance has indicated that they do not fully agree with our interpretation of the provisions of the Provincial Finance Act or the Expenditure Control Act. In this regard, we have tentatively agreed to participate with Finance staff in a review of the policies and practices in other jurisdictions for the use and control of additional appropriations.". Those are the words of the Auditor General.

Mr. Speaker, our commitment, I want to make it tonight, is that we fully intend to carry out that commitment to look at the practices elsewhere. Moreover, I hope that we will be able to report back to this House in a reasonable period of time with some suggestions for improvement, because it is a conundrum for many provinces and not just here. The Leader of the Opposition brought it up. The Auditor General raised it and he admits more research needs to be done.

Mr. Speaker, there were a number of other matters that came up. We had discussions about equalization. I am not going to go through all of that, whether or not in the past or now that there were great benefits. I know recently we did not have any particular windfall, some equalization, although it has continued to grow slowly and for which we are grateful.

One of the other questions that came up, Mr. Speaker, was that the resolution did not deal with all of the extra spending. Well, the fact of the matter is, I think there was about $25

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million not covered. They were not required to put it in this resolution because it is under the 1 per cent limit with regard to the overage under the Expenditure Control Act.

Mr. Speaker, there were a number of other matters that I could touch on, but I think we have had a full airing and the final matter I want to mention before I take my place is that there were a number of reasonable questions that came up about the spending. In Health, I volunteered to table a breakdown, not just did I give the bulk spending of $124 million under Health extra appropriations and $15 million under Justice, but I broke down Health into categories. I am sure the Minister of Health, who will be coming next after Justice to speak to his budget in Committee of the Whole House on Supply, can explain the reserves were doubtful accounts and the money for acute care that was brought up by the Health Critic.

I think what we have had here is a disclosure. We have brought forward some of the questions and I am sure that the Minister of Health, in particular, will cover any of those questions that come up. I think the Leader of the Opposition brought up the point about the timing of extra appropriations and those questions were raised by the Auditor General and we agreed.

Mr. Speaker, I urge all honourable members to support this resolution in the name of accountability.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question on Resolution No. 134?

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow following the daily routine and Question Period we will be moving to the Committee of the Whole House on Supply both in the Chamber and Subcommittee. Following that we will commence Committee of the Whole House on Bills starting with Bill No. 1. I move that we now rise to meet again tomorrow from the hours of 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion for adjournment has been made.

The House will now rise to sit again tomorrow at 12:00 noon.

[The House rose at 9:56 p.m.]